Confetti at the Cornish Cafe by Phillipa Ashley / Blog Tour + Extract

Hi guys, hope you all have a pleasant and relaxing Sunday and that the weather is spoiling you, just like it’s spoiling us here. Today I have something that will help you to enjoy your weekend even more – as a part of Phillipa Ashley’s blog tour celebrating the third part in the Cornish Cafe series, “Confetti at the Cornish Cafe”, I have a little extract from the novel. Put your feet high and enjoy!

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Yes, I know Demelza’s is my cafe but even after six months, I always think walking inside is like stepping into a cosy, delicious haven. We’ve pulled out the stops to make it welcoming this cold spring morning, arranging early narcissi in stone jars on the window ledges to add a pop of yellow sunshine. Confetti-coloured freesias have been placed on every table and we’ve laid the two tables closest to the window with the vintage china I found at Kilhallon House last summer. Lily and Ben should be able to enjoy the view over the sea from there. The coffee machine is already burbling and the room is filled with the smell of freshly baked pastries. In the background, Cornish folk songs are playing softly. Mentally, I cross my fingers and hope they like the fresh and welcoming atmosphere we’ve tried to create.

Ben plonks himself down at a table and picks up a teacup as if he’s never seen one before. Lily lingers in the middle of the room. She pulls off her hood and a mane of glossy red hair falls down her back. Although she wears very little make-up, and is swamped by the shiny coat, she’s still stunning. Not like a real human, but a fairy in a children’s storybook. She turns around slowly, and lifts her arms, as if the cafe might revolve around her if she so wills.

I hold my breath. She could quite easily turn round this second and head out of Kilhallon and that would be that. Because we’re not glamorous, though we’ll bust a gut to be our very best. At the end of the day, we’re only a cosy little place in a wild and beautiful corner of Cornwall.

Lily sighs deeply as if she’s just finished a particularly hard yoga session. My heart thumps madly. I avoid a strong urge to wipe my palms on my jeans, waiting for this big star’s verdict on my little Cornish cafe.

Lily stares straight at me, a sad but sweet smile on her face.

‘This place is very … soothing. Like being wrapped in a big squishy duvet. It’s very authentic. Yes, I like it. I like it a lot.’

It’s hard not to let out a huge sigh of relief, even if part of me already wishes that Lily, Ben and Harry would get straight back into their ‘actor mobile’ and drive out of Kilhallon. Yes, it’s exciting to have them here and it would be amazing publicity for the park and cafe but I already can’t stand the tension of trying to live up to their expectations. Calm down, Cal would say, just be yourself.

But he’s not here, is he?

Lily perches on one of our old oak settles next to Ben. She picks up one of the vintage tapestry cushions I ‘recycled’ from the farmhouse and hugs it. Ben is on his phone. Harry is sitting at a nearby table with his arms folded. He makes the chair look an infant’s school chair.

‘What can we get you all, then, before we discuss menus and food? I thought we’d warm up in here before we take a tour of the rest of the park and the wedding …’

‘Handfasting,’ Ben mutters without glancing up from his phone. ‘We’re going to do the legal bit at the register office near our house a few weeks later. No one will be looking for that once we’ve had the ceremony here.’

‘Isla said you want a simple ceremony in a natural setting?’ I say.

‘Oh yes, we don’t want a fuss, do we, Ben? I can’t stand all those weddings with zillions of people where the bride and groom sit on thrones and everyone arrives by helicopter.’

‘Is there a helipad?’ Ben chimes in.

‘Sorry, no. There’s a field behind us that the emergency services could use at a push but no helipad.’

‘Oh.’ He goes back to his phone.

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR FOR MORE EXTRACTS & REVIEWS!

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Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig / Blog Tour + Extract

Hi guys. Today I have a new blog tour for all of you. It is for Benjamin Ludwig’s debut novel “Ginny Moon” and a really have no words to describe how special and wonderful this book is – you just have to read it for yourself, then I am sure you’ll understand what I mean. Next to my gushing review there is an excerpt 1 (Read the second part of the chapter at Jaffa Reads Too) – put your feet high and enjoy!

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

33370511Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date: 1st June 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Meet Ginny. She’s fourteen, autistic, and has a heart-breaking secret…

‘Brilliant’ – Graeme Simison, author of The Rosie Project

Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up….

After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her.

Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something happened, a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right…

A fiercely poignant and inspirational story a lost girl searching for a place to call home. Ginny Moon will change everyone who spends time with her.

Rating: five-stars

Recently I was able to read some fiction novels featuring autistic children as main characters, introducing us to their different worlds. “Ginny Moon” is the first novel about a girl but it is exactly as complex and empathetic as all the other books that I had a pleasure to read. However here the author, Benjamin Ludwig, actually never mentions Ginny’s autism. We know she is in a special classroom, she takes part in the Disabled Olympics playing basketball, we see her problems and the way she perceives the world and we also see the autistic traits, such as having exactly nine grapes for breakfast, keeping eye on her watch and the exactness of the time, the comfort of routine, but the author doesn’t emphasize the disability so visibly, and I loved the way he dealt with it. It gives us a chance to see a true Ginny, not only in the light of her autism.

Ginny Moon, the main character in this novel, is written in such a brilliant way that it’s truly hard to describe in words how brilliant she was. She was so special – and not because she was autistic, but because she was incredibly brave, honest and true to herself. She was taken away from her Birth Mom Gloria by Social Services when she was nine years old – until then she’s been living the unimaginable, suffering emotional and physical abuse from her drug – addicted mother. Before she found herself in her Forever House, she’s been with two “Forever Families”. Now she lives in Blue House, with Forever Mom Maura and Forever Dad Brian. Everything seem great, that is until a child of the Forever Parents is born and Ginny tries to organize her own kidnapping. She still lives in the past, when she was 9 years old and was taking care of her Baby Doll – and she thinks she must take good care of her.

Reading Ginny’s story was so heart – breaking! I couldn’t help but fell in love with this brave, exceptional girl, and the way she was then treated by Maura truly broke my heart. Ginny was so lovely with her love to Michael Jackson and all the things “exactly”, not “approximately” – she needed exactly nine grapes for her breakfast. There was such a huge burden she was carrying and nobody believed her, and I can only imagine how frustrated Ginny must have felt, even though she couldn’t put those feelings in words. Her goal was to help her Baby Doll and she’s prepared to do anything, no matter the consequences – because I think that she realizes that there are going to be consequences. She was able to pair off the facts and she was wise.

Ginny’s Forever Parents were so genuine, with all the distress, stress, despair but also concern, this was portrayed in such a realistic way. I don’t want to have a go at Maura, I really don’t want, but there were moments that I despised her. On the one hand I truly understood where she was coming from, I got her fear but on the other hand I just couldn’t accept the way she changed. However, I think, it was all done on purpose, so that we all get a very realistic and honest picture of how complicated and difficult it can be when you adopt a child, especially a child with special needs.

What makes the story even more special is the fact that it’s told from Ginny’s point of view. We get through her life together with her, we know her thoughts and fears and we know that there is a huge burden that doesn’t let her sleep. The author has done a brilliant job unlocking her world to us and letting us understand. Ginny will easily worm her way into your heart, it is impossible not to love and admire her, the girl with the biggest heart in the world. Her characters is so complex and it feels so incredibly authentic, she’s quirky, wise and courageous, even if she doesn’t know it herself. The writing style is brilliant, running smoothly, and the author has done an incredible job with getting into Ginny’s head and showing us the world from her perspective. I personally can’t believe that it’s only Benjamin Ludwig’s debut novel – it is so complex, so intelligent and touching upon so many difficult issues without making the book feeling desperately sad.

“Ginny Moon” is a beautiful, gentle and realistic story about families, love, relationships, domestic abuse and communication within a family. It is a unique, outstanding read that will break and then mend your heart, and then break it again. However, there is so much hope in this read, it is also uplifting and somehow healing. It is poignant and inspiring, with wonderful characters. It is full of empathy. This story captures your heart immediately, it is written with so much insight and understanding, I’ve no idea how the author has managed to get into Ginny’s head so extremely well, but he’s done it. It deeply moved me, this book. Gorgeous, compelling read, a real tear – jerker – highly recommended! I am truly happy to be able to have read this novel and I hope you will buy your own copy – if I hadn’t received mine for the review purposes, I’d buy it in any case.

EXTRACT

2:50 in the Afternoon, Wednesday, September 8th

My Forever Parents are outside the door of Mrs. Lomos’s tiny office. “Let’s step into the conference room, Ginny,” says Mrs. Lomos.

We take five steps to get to the conference room which is across the hall. My Forever Parents sit at the table so I sit too. “Hi, Ginny,” my Forever Mom says.

“Hi,” I say back to her. She sits with her hands on her big round belly which is as big as a basketball. My Forever Dad’s belly is big too and his face is round but he doesn’t have a white beard or a nose like a cherry.

“Ginny, your parents came in to talk about what happened last night with the electronic baby,” says Mrs. Lomos.

I sit and wait for them to talk. But they don’t.

“They let me know that you put it in a suitcase,” says Mrs. Lomos. “Is that true?”

“Do you mean the plastic electronic baby?” I say.

She looks at me funny. “Yes, of course,” she says.

“Then yes,” I say.

“Why did you put it there?”

I make sure my mouth is shut so no one can see inside my brain. Then I look at her over my glasses. “Because it was screaming,” I say.

“So you decided to hide it under all your blankets and zip the suitcase shut?”

“No,” I say. “I kept my quilt out.” Because my quilt is the only thing I have left from the apartment. Gloria’s own Frenchy mom helped her make it when she ran away to Canada with me after she had me in a hospital. They made it together for me and for no one else. I used it all the time to wrap my Baby Doll in.

“All right, but why didn’t you try to comfort the baby?” says Mrs. Lomos.

“I did try to comfort the plastic electronic baby,” I say. “I said ush, ush, ush like you’re supposed to and I tried to give it my fin­ger but the hole in its mouth didn’t open. I gave it a bottle too.”

“And that didn’t work?”

I shake my head no.

“Did you do anything else to make the baby be quiet?” my Forever Dad says.

I make sure my mouth is closed again so no one can see inside. I shake my head a second time.

Because lying is something you do with your mouth. A lie is something you tell.

“Are you sure?” he says. “Think hard.”

So I think hard. About keeping my mouth closed.

“Ginny, there’s a computer inside the electronic baby,” says Mrs. Lomos. “It keeps track of how many times the baby is fed and changed, and how long it cries. It even keeps track of strikes and shakes.”

Read the second part of the chapter at Jaffa Reads Too as part of the Ginny Moon Blog Tour.

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig is out now! [Hardback, £12.99]

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I’ll Eat When I’m Dead by Barbara Bourland / Blog Tour + Extract

Hi guys, and happy Monday! We are starting into a new week with a brand new blog tour for you – today I have an extract from Barbara Bourland’s shiny new novel “I’ll Eat When I’m Dead”. The title sounds so, so intriguing, don’t you think? So if you want to see what the author has in store for us, put your feet high and read an extract from chapter 1 – and enjoy!

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Every weekday morning, as the sun rose above Sixth Avenue,

a peerless crop of women—frames poised, behavior polished,

networks connected, and bodies generally buffed to a high

sheen—were herded by the cattle prod of their own ambition to

one particular building. They streamed as if by magic from all over

Manhattan and Brooklyn, through streets and subways teeming

with sweaty crowds and heavy traffic, to work at Cooper House,

the only remaining major magazine publisher in New York.

Some, like Bess Bonner, a twenty-eight-year-old associate editor

at RAGE Fashion Book, arrived earlier than others. Though her

colleagues frequently staggered in around noon after long nights

spent drinking fistfuls of sponsored celebrity vodka in yet another

chartered barge or pop-up school bus, never Bess, who took

pride in being punctual. Monday through Friday she stuck to

the same routine: First, she walked her bike, a large Dutch commuter,

through the West Village streets to pick up her coffee at

Joe. Second, she stood on the sidewalk and drank half the cup, no

matter the weather; finally, she took diligent mental notes on the

outfits of pedestrians who were, like her, freshly pressed to meet

the promise of the day.

One Monday in July, in attire that was stylish but functional

 (trousers clipped back with midnight-blue leather bands, her buttery

navy kid-leather backpack stuffed in an orange milk crate

affixed firmly to the back with neon cable ties, and a waterproof

oilcloth bag that held an emergency poncho tucked beneath her

seat), Bess drank her coffee, took her notes, and hopped on her

bike, pedaling toward Cooper. After a few minutes of glorious,

uninterrupted speed through Chelsea, a rush of adrenaline kicked

in, and she smiled; that final mile of her morning commute both

boosted her mood and set the tone for the long day ahead, working

at the magazine she’d worshipped her entire life.

Today, that work meant sorting bracelets into velvet trays.

She hung a left on Thirty-Ninth Street, crossed Broadway, and

pulled smoothly into the Cooper garage. Gina, the usual attendant,

took her bicycle and wheeled it into the rectangle of her personal

parking spot, a privilege for full-time employees, as Bess took off

her helmet and shook out her tangled mess of dark blonde curls.

Shouldering her backpack, she walked up to the aluminum post

outside the service elevator and waved her phone in front of it. A

large blinking F appeared briefly on a previously invisible screen.

Ten seconds later, the F disappeared and the post became a mere

metal column once more.

Bess walked into the elevator and examined herself in its mirrored

walls. Not too bad, she thought, looking down at her electricblue

Pappagallo flats for rips, tears, or smudges, smoothing her

ankle-length silk tuxedo trousers, and tucking her deliberately

threadbare men’s white V-neck into the side of the waistband.

Her jewelry today was simple and bright: a stack of rose-gold

pyramid-stud bracelets from Hermès covered one wrist, and a pair

of dangling yellow-gold earrings—from the Egyptian section of

the gift shop at the Met, purchased long ago with her fifth-grade

allowance—hung casually from her ears.

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Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson / Blog Tour + Guest Post

I am thrilled to be hosting Patricia Wilson on my blog today. Her newest release – a debut novel –  “The Island of Secret”, has one of the most gorgeous and promising synopsis and with so many 5* reviews I am sure it’s going to be an excellent read! On my stop today I have a little teaser for you – an extract from the book. Enjoy!

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 ‘Writing about locations’

Location is the gift-wrapping of a story. When you set the scene, you also set the mood, and hint at the drama and tension that will follow. A sensitive description of a scene’s location presents the ambiance that surrounds the action, drama, and emotion.

Location is more than scene setting, it should involve as many of the senses as possible, sight, sound, smells, and even touch. Trying to avoid the use of clichés can be difficult. The turquoise water, cobalt sky, and lashing rain, are all over used, but occasionally still have their place.

If you can’t go to your story’s location, use YouTube, google earth, tourist information and travel books to soak up the topography and atmosphere.

When it is possible, there is nothing to compare with actually visiting the scene in your novel and absorbing every element of the surroundings. However, the location does more than describe where we are, it also mirrors the action. Ugly back allies are the places where dastardly deeds take place. Beautiful beaches await happy families. Candle-lit restaurants are filled with romantic couples. Breaking with these, and similar, expectations can increase tension and unpredictability in a novel, thereby keeping the reader hooked.

Background people can also accessorise the location. Physical traits of the ‘extras’ in a scene can add much to the image and mood picked up by the reader. Nothing beats physically spending some time in your novels location. Take a pen, a notebook, and a camera. Video if possible to capture the noise too. Jot down the smells. Eavesdrop. Go through all these things when writing the drama that happens in that same location.

Strengthen the location descriptions once your story is down. Start with the strongest aspect, expand with lesser images. That way, the reader is fixed in the location from the off. The stink of the fish market, rather than, the market stinks of fish.

Keep the reader informed as to where they are, close to the start of a new scene. Jog the reader’s memory with a few words, occasionally, and this is where your extras come in useful. A sweating bartender smears beer stains on a chipped granite counter. A uniformed bartender flicks a pristine white cloth before polishing champagne flutes. Just refresh our memory.

Let the reader sense the atmosphere. The smoke, loud music, greasy wine glass, men squeezing past, body odour, flowery perfume. The location puts us in the mood for scenes that follow.

Describe the location as if writing flash fiction. Keep it strong and evocative. Make every word count, and don’t forget to bring in some contrasts to grab, and hold on to, the reader’s attention.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Patricia Wilson lives in the village of Amiras in Crete where the book is set. She was wilson2c-patriciainspired to write when she unearthed a machine gun in her garden – one used in the events that unfolded in September 1943, and much of the novel is based on real stories told to her by the oldest women of Amiras. Women who’ve never spoken of their experiences before. This is her debut novel. #IslandofSecrets

The Secrets of Ivy Garden by Catherine Ferguson / Blog Tour + Extract

Hi guys, and happy Monday! And guess what? Yes! I have a new blog tour for you today! I am incredibly thrilled to have an extract from Catherine Ferguson’s brand new shiny novel “The Secrets of Ivy Garden” to share with you – the title of this book is just perfect for this lovely spring day, don’t you think? So put your feet high, make yourself latte and enjoy!

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‘Go,’ she hisses, handing me a ramekin of strawberry jam. ‘Your job’s here whenever you decide you want to come back, okay? Whether that’s in a month or even in six months’ time.’

Her kindness is too much. I have to get away before I break down and make a complete fool of myself.

‘Thank you,’ I mouth. Then I rush over to Betty with the jam, collect my coat and bag from the cloakroom and step outside into the blustery spring day. It’s a wrench leaving the cosy warmth of the café behind, and as the bell on the door jangles behind me and a cool breeze lifts my hair, I wonder with a pang how long it will be before I cross the threshold again. With her daily dose of light chit-chat and practical good sense, Patty has almost single-handedly kept me sane.

Ivy died on 14th December from a massive heart attack.

My memory of the run-up to Christmas and beyond is a bit of a blur, but I do remember refusing to leave my flat, despite offers from my best friends, Beth and Vicki – and also Patty – to spend Christmas with them. After the funeral in early January, I went straight back to work, even though Patty told me I needed more time to grieve. I convinced her that work was good therapy. And so for the past few months, I’ve slipped into a safe routine: keeping busy all day at the café, going home to eat and mindlessly watch TV, then sitting in the darkened kitchen, with just the pool of light from an Anglepoise lamp, to do my sketching, hour after hour, often until well after midnight when my eyes are stinging. I know if I go to bed too early, I’ll only end up lying there, staring into the darkness, fretting about the future.

I’ve always loved painting and sketching, and now it’s proving to be an absolute life-line. Ivy’s big dream for me was to study art at college when I left school. She used to say being an artist was my ‘calling’ because my paintings made people think about life and gave them pleasure. But however much I might have wanted to pursue my art as a career, I knew it was never going to be a practical option because we didn’t have the money. When Patty offered to promote me from Saturday girl to full-time staff when I was sixteen, I jumped at the chance, and I’m still there.

I still sketch, though, especially now. When I’m focused on drawing the perfect foxglove, it’s easier to keep the dark thoughts at bay.

I’ve always been the sort of practical, clear-headed person people can count on in a crisis. But since Ivy died, I’ve felt vulnerable and far less sure of myself. My insides shift queasily every time I think of making that long train journey south, leaving behind everything that’s familiar. Even telling myself it’s just for a few weeks, and then I’ll be safely back home, doesn’t seem to make any difference.

How can I bear to stay in Moonbeam Cottage if Ivy’s not there?

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The Cows by Dawn O’Porter / Blog Tour + Extract

Hi guys, and happy Tuesday! Today I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of Dawn O’Porter’s blog tour. Her newest novel, “The Cows”, is being published on 6th April and let me tell you something, guys – it is a book like no other, and I would really highly recommend it to you! It’s about women and for women, full of embarrassing but also funny and poignant moments, just a perfect mix. When you read my review, below you can find an extract as well – a foretaste 🙂 Enjoy!

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

 

33665369Publisher: HarperCollins

Publishing Date: 6th April 2017

Source:  Received from the author in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

Synopsis:

Fearlessly frank and funny, the debut adult novel from Dawn O’Porter needs to be talked about.

COW [n.]
/kaʊ/

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.

THE COWS is a powerful novel about three women. In all the noise of modern life, each needs to find their own voice.

It’s about friendship and being female.
It’s bold and brilliant.
It’s searingly perceptive.
It’s about never following the herd.

And everyone is going to be talking about it.

Rating: 4/5

Before spotting “The Cows” I was not familiar with Dawn O’Porter and her writing but right now, after reading this novel, I am really glad that I’ve come across this author. This book turned out to be a sharp, brutally honest, bitter – sweat and very insightful novel about women, the choices they make and how hard it still is to be a woman in this society, especially when you refuse to follow the rules being set by others, to follow the herd. A very modern and thought – provoking book dealing with the role of a woman in today’s society.

The story follows three women that at the beginning have nothing in common. You know how touchy I am about novels that tell us stories about different people which paths do not cross and I was really intrigued how this is going to work this time. However, at the end, the paths of Cam, Tara and Stella do cross and yes, I was absolutely happy with this outcome – it worked for me. I admit that at the beginning I had problems to get into the story and to warm to the characters – the latter didn’t happen with all of the women. I wasn’t sure if it is going to be a novel, a story or a feministic peon, a manifesto. But “The Cows” were slowly, with every page turned, turning into a proper story that in the end I didn’t want to put down. OK, I’ll admit, I spent the last night reading instead of sleeping.
Tara is a single mother with a stable career in making documentaries. The pregnancy was a result of a one – night fling and it was Tara’s conscious decision to bring her daughter up alone, which one day will turn against her – after she’s being filmed on a train in a very intimate and uncomfortable situation her world is being put upside down. I think I liked her most, maybe because I had a feeling that there was the most background given about her, that I know her most. I also fell for her totally and kept everything crossed for her. Cam is a single life – style blogger with thousands of followers. She’s not afraid to stand up for herself, to stand her ground when it comes to consciously remain childless, to have a younger lover who comes and goes when she wants and to write about women and for women. I loved her honesty and the way she fought for herself, she was strong, intelligent and sharp. Then we have Stella, a single PA to a writer, carrying the BRCA gene and still grieving after the death of her mother and then twin sister Alice. I must admit that quickly I started to wonder if Stella’s mental health is absolutely in order – I didn’t sympathize with her, I disliked her even though the cross she had to carry was a very serious one but still, there was something in her that just rejected me from her and the more I read about her, the more I despised her. But likes or dislikes apart, the characters were vivid and really realistic with all their dramas, flaws and ups and downs.

The book covers many controversial and taboo issues, such as abortion, masturbation, periods to name only a few, in a very modern language. However, I didn’t feel offended or ashamed because in my eyes the author has dealt with those issues in a normal way, describing them just like they are, without beating around the bush, without pulling the wool over our eyes – only telling how it really is. It also deals with the dangers of the modern social media, showing what one little video going viral may done to a person. I’d only wanted the book to also deal with the young guy who has posted this video, it’s a pity there was nothing about him, as I would love to see him punished till he bled, and I am not a violent person. All were talking about and condemning Tara and nobody thought that it were her rights being violated, that she didn’t ask for this and it should be this young guy being ostracised and criticised for letting the world see what he has filmed. I hated this guy, his thoughtlessness, his inconsideration of other people’s lives and feelings. He has done the harm, not Tara.

The book started slowly and some of the events throughout the story were a little too far fetched for my liking. There were some moments that I thought “no way”, they just seemed so impossible – for example, the thing with Jason not being able to track Tara, it just didn’t sit with me, I’m sorry, but who nowadays doesn’t have an access to internet? There were some similar moments, especially when Stella was concerned but altogether they didn’t spoil the reading so much for me.

“The Cows” is a story about women standing up for themselves, standing for their beliefs, finding the courage. I loved the fact that it is so bold and so open, like any other fiction book and the author hides from nothing. She writes about each issue in her story with honesty, not apologising for being a woman and having period. She provides an excellent discussion of what it is to be a woman, about friendships. For me it was a celebration of womanhood, this book, as Dawn O’Porter writes about – and doesn’t judge! – young and older women, working or unemployed, mother, childless; those wanting children and those who don’t want them, married or single; but first of all, women who decide not to follow the herd. Recommended!

EXTRACT

Does anyone want to hear a love story? It’s not one that has ever been told before. It’s called, Cam Stacey and her great love, The Internet. Let me start at the beginning . . .

Once upon a time, there was a girl called Cammie. She was generally quite good at things at school, working hard and keen on doing well. She had a rebellious streak, in that she smoked fags and kissed boys and drank too much cider, but as a whole, she was a pretty good kid.

She wasn’t one for trying to be cool, but by not trying to be cool, she probably came across a bit like she was trying to be cool. She wore tight trousers and band t-shirts when the other girls were wearing short skirts and low-cut tops. She didn’t have many close friendships. Instead, she sat around talking about music with boys, rather than gossip sessions with the girls. All in all, she got through her teenage years without too much trouble; girls found her a bit intimidating, boys probably did too. All she wanted was a bit of peace and quiet. With three older sisters at home, leaving the house was like a holiday, and she didn’t want to fill that time with too many people, so she generally kept herself to herself.

Yes, you’ve guessed it, Cammie is me. Here is how the story goes on . . .

I left school, went to uni, and studied English. I was one of those people who read everything on the course modules. I was never without a book, and I had a freakish tendency to read multiple newspapers a day from cover to cover. Why? Because I knew that I had to be a writer. I knew I had to absorb words to be good at it. It was the only way that I was ever going to get the billions of thoughts and opinions that were in my head, out. In a way that anyone would understand. Because socially, I really sucked.

I did what all aspiring writers did back then, and I wrote pages and pages of articles, printed them off and sent them to editors in yellow envelopes. I never got any replies. Then, this amazing thing happened . . . they called it email. Suddenly I could send my work as attachments to emails, so I did that, but still, I never got any replies. And then I read an article about this little-known hobby that they were calling ‘blogging’. This woman was blogging about her family. Her husband was a photographer, she was beautiful, their kids were cute and their dog was fluffy. So every day, she got her husband to take an adorable picture and she posted it with a note about what they did that day. It was kind of sickening if I am honest, not my thing at all. But then I read that 30,000 people checked in every single day to read what she had to say. And I knew this was the answer for me.

So, Reader, I married him! By him, I mean, the Internet. And by married, I mean I built a website. And then, we started making babies. (You get the picture by now. By babies, I mean writing blogs.)

I found my voice online and that helped me find my voice inside. I wrote and wrote, and every day without fail, I posted something. Whether it was something I was feeling, or a reaction to some- thing in the news. And then, I made everyone I knew read it. I had flyers printed that I put on cars and through letterboxes. I emailed the link to every editor of every paper and magazine, and I posted the link on thousands of people’s MySpace pages. It became my life; it became an addiction. If I wasn’t writing, I was promoting. I didn’t need editors of newspapers to notice me, I was getting an audience all of my own. And look at me now. I have one of the longest running lifestyle blogs in the UK. HowItIs.com started sixteen years ago next week and it’s still going strong. Over half a million people read my blogs each day; that’s a bigger readership than most print publications.

I’m telling this story for anyone who has a voice but doesn’t know how to get it heard. You don’t have to be a social butterfly, you don’t have to be charming, overly confident, beautiful or thin. All you need to have is something to say.

The Internet is the love of my life, because it allows me to be who I want to be. Words that would get stuck in my mouth tumble out of my fingertips with total ease. I’m not sure what I would have become if I didn’t have this as an outlet. And you know the best bit? I can connect with hundreds of thousands of people every single day, without even having to say a word. So go for it, post your feelings online. Even if no one reads it now, there is a little piece of you out there that will last forever, it’s kinda magical!

Cam x

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The Ambulance Girls by Deborah Burrows / Blog Tour + Extra

I seem to be reading only historical novels lately, guys, but I also have this luck that the books are really great representatives of the genre. Today “The ambulance Girls” by Deborah Burrows blog tour stops with me and I have an extract for you – it’s just a foretaste, sounding so very promising and I am sure you’re going to enjoy the book whole – heartedly!

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CHAPTER SIX

I woke to a cold morning. Damp white mist swirled around the gardens and the sun was like a great orange ball. It was nearly winter, I realised disconsolately. It would be my second winter in England, and I was not looking forward to it at all. It was the darkness that had affected me the most last year. I expected that I would find it as miserable this year also, with the added bonus of nightly air raids. I couldn’t help sighing. It was springtime in Perth now and my mother’s roses would be in full bloom in our small garden.

On the table in the lobby, next to the cubicle that housed the building’s telephone, were the letters that had been delivered for the occupants of St Andrew’s in yesterday’s second post. There were three letters for me, all from Australia. The flimsy aerograms were creased and a little grubby after their long journey. One was my mother’s weekly epistle. I recognised Uncle Charles’s scrawl on the second, and when I turned the third letter over, it was from a school friend. I was delighted at this tangible connection to home, but I sighed as I tucked the letters carefully into the pocket of my jacket; I would read them once I had breakfasted.

I had been away from Australia now for nearly three years, and I missed my family terribly. After so many letters, I knew what my mother’s would contain: she would tell me that my father and my brother Ben were well, give me a small anecdote about each, and then concentrate on her ‘war work’. Mum had formed a local Red Cross branch as soon as war was declared and now spent most of her time rolling bandages, packing parcels for Australian prisoners of war and helping to run funding drives for Blitz victims, in between knitting scarves and jumpers for servicemen. From her letters, it seemed my mother was the same tiny ball of energy as she had been when she waved goodbye to me at Fremantle Dock on that hot January morning in 1938.

My father hated writing letters, but I knew he would have scrawled a message of love at the bottom of my mother’s epistle, telling me that he missed me and longed to see my beautiful smiling face. He always wrote the same message, and it always made me cry. If I were lucky, my brother Ben, now fifteen and about as fond of letter writing as Dad was, would also have written me a short note.

I was well aware that my parents were desperate for me to return home, but they never pushed. Sometimes I wished I could leave London and sail back to Australia, but I knew the work I did in London was worthwhile and essential, and I had made up my mind not to leave until the war was over, no matter how many cold, dark winters I had to endure.

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