The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the #Titanic ~ Based on a true story @HazelGaynor #DualTimeLine #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Hazel Gaynor

Published: April 2014 by William Morrow Paperbacks

Category: Dual Timeline, Historical Fiction, Based on Fact, Contemporary, Book Review

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Ireland, 1912

Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the few passengers in steerage to survive. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that fateful night again.

My first experience of Hazel Gaynor’s books was The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter, based on the life of Grace Darling, which I loved. I enjoy the fact there’s truth mixed in with fiction and The Girl Who Came Home is no exception. It tells the story of Maggie Murphy from Ballysheen, Ireland, who was travelling with a group of women from the village, bound for New York and booked on the Titanic for the ship’s maiden voyage in 1912. The story was inspired by events surrounding the true story of the Addergoole Fourteen, Irish emigrants from County Mayo.

When Maggie was left an orphan, her mother’s sister and Maggie’s guardian, Aunt Kathleen, came from America to take Maggie back to Chicago with her. The thought of leaving Ballysheen and being separated from her sweetheart Séamus Doyle, the man she thought she would marry, left seventeen year old Maggie feeling bereft and anxious about the journey.

“You certainly don’t need to be worrying about Maura Brennan, I can tell ye,” Kathleen had replied, brushing Maggie’s naïve fears easily aside. “She’s crossed that ocean more times than most men ever will, and a baby in her belly won’t make one bit of difference. Anyway, we’re sailing on the Titanic, the biggest ship in the world. Unsinkable, y’know. No better crib for any of us.”

Seventy years later in Cass County, Illinois Grace Butler rummages through her great grandmother’s attic searching for a small black case…

Everyone knows the story of the Titanic’s fateful maiden voyage and there have been lots of books written. I particularly enjoyed this one because of the perspectives. The Girl Who Came Home is told in a dual timeline. Maggie’s and the villagers in 1912 as they prepare for their short and terrible journey on the Titanic. Grace, seventy years later in America, trying to get her life back on track after the death of her father. Learning of her great grandmother’s incredible story gives them a much needed new direction and a welcome sense of peace.

Hazel Gaynor’s descriptive writing—the settings, the ship and steerage accommodations, the scenes in the North Sea as unconcern turns to confusion, then to fear and panic—is clear and vivid. Then the terrible aftermath as the ship goes down. No matter how many times I read about the sinking of the Titanic it gives me chills and brings a lump to my throat.

Maggie stood in a daze, unable to comprehend what she was seeing. All around her, people were running, some carrying deck chairs, some holding wooden crates or empty trunks, others clutching life rings—everyone desperately searching for something they might be able to hold on to in the water—something that might mean the difference between life and death.

The characters are well fleshed out and realistic, their stories brought to life and carried on after the tragedy. I liked the fact the first class passengers had supporting roles and those in steerage were the heart of the story. Also, the actual sinking of the ship was a fairly small part of the story and lives before and after took up most of the narrative. Focus was also on the people in New York, waiting for the Carpathia to dock, the shock and desperate hope for the ones they waited for, the desolation when they didn’t appear.

I enjoyed both timelines, the story was well researched, written sensitively and poignantly with some very emotional scenes.

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Book Depository | Waterstones | Hive 

About the Author

Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning New York Times, USA Today, Irish Times, and international bestselling author. Her 2014 debut THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME won the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award, A MEMORY OF VIOLETS was a 2015 WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY was shortlisted for the 201 Irish Book Awards, and THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER was shortlisted for the 2019 HWA Gold Crown Award. LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS (co-written with Heather Webb) won the 2018 Women’s Fiction Writers Association Star Award. Their most recent collaboration is MEET ME IN MONACO which was shortlisted for the 2020 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award.

Hazel’s forthcoming unforgettable historical novel is set in Japanese-occupied China during WW2. Titled THE BIRD IN THE BAMBOO CAGE (UK/Ireland/Australia/New Zealand) / WHEN WE WERE YOUNG & BRAVE (North America), it will be published in August and October 2020, respectively.

Author links ~ Website | Twitter | Facebook 

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier ~ A Dark, Twisty Tale #PsychologicalThriller #AudiobookReview @JenniferHillier

Author: Jennifer Hillier

Performed by January LaVoy

Released on Audible: June 2018 by Macmillan Audio

Category: Psychological, Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Audiobook, Review

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This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

Fourteen years ago the community of Sweetbay was rocked when sixteen year old Angela Wong went missing, never to be seen again. Now all these years later her remains have been discovered near her best friend, Georgina (Geo) Shaw’s childhood home where Geo’s father still lives. Geo and Angela, along with Kaiser Brody, now a Detective with the Seattle PD, were as close as friends could be in high school. Until Calvin James came on the scene. His presence changed, not only the dynamics of the trio but also their lives. What Geo carries with her from then on will affect her for years to come with devastating consequences.

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#Extract from When Darkness Begins by Tina O’Hailey #Fantasy @tohailey #BlogTour @rararesources #FridayReads

Today I have an extract from When Darkness Begins, courtesy of the author and Rachel’s Random Resources.

About the Book

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ The Last Gatekeeper (The Crown of Fane Duology #1) by @katyhaye #YA #Fantasy

This week’s Throwback Thursday looks back at The Last Gatekeeper—not my usual genre but I did enjoy this one. Ticks all the boxes for a young adult fantasy novel.

My Thoughts

Up until the day of her 17th birthday, Zanzibar MacKenzie lead a very sheltered life. She always knew she was different, home schooled, no electrical appliances whatsoever in her life or environment and isolated by her EHS. Just how different, she was about to find out. While spending time with her only friend, Em, who lives nearby, and Em’s boyfriend at the beach, Zan thinks she spots a stranger on the cliff watching them. 

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#Extract from Along Came A Soldier by @authorbrenda1 #HistoricalFiction @rararesources

Today I have an extract from Along Came A Soldier, courtesy of Brenda Davies and Rachel’s Random Resources.

But first, here’s what the book is about…

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The Lion Tamer Who Lost by @LouiseWriter ~ Be Careful What You Wish For… #ContemporaryFiction @OrendaBooks #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Louise Beech

Published: September 2018 by Orenda Books

Category: Contemporary Gay Fiction, Romance, Book Review

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Long ago Andrew made a childhood wish. One he has always kept in a silver box with a too-big lid that falls off. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn’t…

Long ago Ben dreamed of going to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally goes there, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…

Ben is fulfilling a long held dream, and a promise he made years ago, although he never could have envisaged the circumstances that finally brought the dream to reality. Nevertheless here he is, a volunteer at the Liberty Lion Rehabilitation Project in Zimbabwe and it seems he isn’t the only one escaping from love and life.   

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#GuestPost by Ido Kedar #Author of In Two Worlds ~ Shedding Light on Non Speaking #Autism

Today I have a guest post from Ido Kedar, a non speaking autistic young man who has written two books.

This is Ido’s second book, In Two Worlds.  

Seven-year-old Anthony has autism. He flaps his hands. He makes strange noises. He can’t speak or otherwise communicate his thoughts. Treatments, therapies, and theories about his condition define his daily existence. Yet Anthony isn’t improving much. Year after year his remedial lessons drone on. Anthony gets older and taller, but his speech remains elusive and his school lessons never advance. Life seems to be passing him by. Until one day, everything changes.
In Two Worlds is a compelling tale, rich with unforgettable characters who are navigating their way through the multitude of theories about autism that for decades have dictated the lives of thousands of children and their families. This debut work of fiction sheds light on the inner and outer lives of children with nonspeaking autism, and on their two worlds. As one of the only works of fiction written by a person with non-speaking autism, it offers readers an unprecedented insider’s point-of-view into autism and life in silence, and it does so with warmth, humor and a wickedly sharp intellect.

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US

Now over to Ido…

Imagine that you can’t speak, handwrite or gesture because your body can’t move the way you want it to due to a breakdown in communication between your thoughts and motor system. You are born this way, so no one knows you are smart. Your body betrays you through erratic or impulsive movementsthat convince theprofessional experts that you lack understanding of language or even awareness of the world around you. You can’t tell anyone the truth about who you are; that you are present, smart but trapped.

This is the experience of Anthony, the hero of In Two Worlds. He is a boy, trapped by autism, unable to communicate, and living in two distinct realities. He lives in his mind, isolated from others, intoxicated by overwhelming sensory experiences, and entertained by jokes he can only share with himself. It is a solitary, sensual life. Nearly hallucinatory visual input at times makes his inner world an escapist wonderland. His other world is less enticing, inundated in therapies and remedial education with specialists who have no idea that the strange boy is a thinking boy. This is monotony and tedium caused by good intentions.

My life has many parallels to Anthony’s, though he is not me. I am real and he is not. But I too can’t speak. I too move erratically. I too was thought to be an empty head when I was young. And I too made a breakthrough when I learned to touch letters to communicate. I lived an escapist life as a boy. My inner autismland offering a reprieve from the pointless boredom of simplistic drills that mocked my intelligence and proved my stupidity.

But once I learned to control my hand to type out my thoughts at the age of seven, my world opened. Gradually I made my way into the world of neurotypical education, my ideas liberated from their prison within my mind. I observed my lonely status in school. I was the only nonspeaking autistic in regular education. My autistic peers stayed in remedial class. No one bothered to inquire if they too might possess the ability of typing out letters with one finger to express ideas. The assumption was that I was an anomaly.

I began a journal to express my feelings at this tough time in my life. I was twelve years old. For three years I wrote and my journal developed into an insider’s view and explanation of nonspeaking autism. This became my memoir and first book, Ido in Autismland. It has had a bigger impact than I could have ever hoped. Parents have used my book as their path to communication with their children. Teachers have rethought theories, and autistic people have read that they are not alone.

In Two Worlds is my second book, but unlike Ido in Autismland, it is fictional. It feels real so people ask me if it is my story. It is the story of autism as seen through my autistic eyes, but it is fiction, nonetheless. I waited a long time to communicate. A long time before my first conversation. But I was seven. Still young. My protagonist, Anthony, waited until he was sixteen! Imagine going all the way to high school age with not one conversation ever, with no one, not even your own family knowing you had a thinking mind.

My experiences made me write true experiences for Anthony. I understand the people who populate his life and the way he is treated. I understand his sorrow, anger and budding hope. I understand the obstacles he faces when most of the professionals dismiss his communication as fantasy and fallacy.

The journey of Anthony tells the truth about autism, and because it is fiction it is all the more powerful. Through fiction you ride the schoolbus with Anthony, seeing streams of light and color with him. Through fiction you hear his thoughts, when no one else knows he has any. Through fiction you overcome the most basic human need with him, to connect with others and to share ideas. Anthony teaches that not talking is not the same as not thinking. He shines a light on the most maligned and misunderstood people, those who have historically been called “dumb,” because words don’t tumble from their mouths.

In Two Worlds is a journey into the life of a person who lives intelligently inside and stupidly outside. It is an insider’s perspective into nonspeaking autism and this is something wholly new to literature.

About the Author

Imagine being diagnosed with a disease that relegates you to the sidelines of life. You are seen as different, maybe even dumb. You are unable to communicate with others and feel trapped in a body that fails you every step of the way. Even those who are with you don’t realize what you are capable of. You could easily grow depressed and remain a silenced outcast.  Well, one young man is fighting back. He has found a way to overcome so many obstacles and to share an inspiring story on behalf of those with severe autism — and for all who cannot speak for themselves.

Meet Ido Kedar, a phenomenal 23-year-old Californian who, through the saving grace of technology and perseverance, now has a voice in his life and is using it to lobby for huge changes. Through the use of an iPad and other devices, Ido has learned to communicate with others despite not being able to speak. He has written two books and serves as a board member for a non-profit group that advocates on behalf of all non-speaking humans.

“Ido’s story is one of triumph of the indomitable human spirit,” says Tracy Kedar, his mom, who is also a mental health therapist specializing in helping non-speaking autistic individuals. “He is an inspiration to anyone who has struggled.”

Ido is believed to have written the first  novel by a non-speaking autistic person, In Two Worlds, which was praised by Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly Booklife Prize. He also is the author of a book at age 15, Ido In Autsimland, a stunning memoir that brings tears of frustration and joy from every reader. Completely silenced for the first seven years of his life – and now still without the ability to speak save for the use of technology – Ido remains quiet no more. His human interest story also provides insights on parenting, education, and how the experts fail to treat those who can’t speak for themselves.

“I hope to have people outside the autism community discover my books,” says Ido. “I believe they have the potential to shed light on the most misunderstood people – non-speakers – who are trapped by their own bodies. In reviews, readers compare my novel to other major works that exposed prejudice and ultimately led to societal change. Perhaps society is ready for a breakthrough.”

You can find out more on Ido Kedar’s website

#BookSpotlight ~ Physiology of Love by @SummeritaRhayne #Extract #ContemporaryFiction #Romance

In the spotlight today is newly released Physiology of Love, a contemporary romance. 

About the Book

Dr. Hardik Kashyap is looking forward to a new job and to deepen his friendship with lovely Dr. Aashita when he joins as HOD in Physiology at Central Medical Institute. Unfortunately, his expectations smash to bits. His start at his new post is far from amiable, and as for Dr. Aashita, she sends a shower of angry sparks his way at every meeting.
He is willing to keep things at the friendship level, but it seems nothing works with her.
As a physiologist, he’s well versed in the regulations of the body functions and the working of the mind, but he just can’t seem to get a handle on the physiology of love.

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Little Tea by Claire Fullerton ~ Old Friendships and Family Tragedy #SouthernFiction #FamilySaga @cfullerton3 #FridayReads

Author: Claire Fullerton

Published: May 2020 by Firefly Southern Fiction

Category: Southern Fiction, Family Saga, Book Review

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy

One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.

For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed.

Three childhood friends, Ava, Renny and Celia, grew up together and are now scattered around the country. Even though their lives have taken different directions, the ties of a deep friendship remain. When Ava is having serious doubts about her marriage and needs support, the three women get together for a few days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas. Ava has arranged to see her ex boyfriend, Mark while she’s at the cabin, unbeknownst to Celia and Renny, and he brings Celia’s ex fiancé over, which stirs up memories and emotions Celia had long since hoped would stay buried.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ An Englishwoman’s Guide to The Cowboy #HistoricalFiction #Romance @june_kearns

ThrowbackThursday this week features a book I enjoyed very much. It was published in 2012.

My Thoughts

It’s the latter half of the nineteenth century and Annie Haddon is travelling across America in a stagecoach, corseted, with layers of petticoats and to make matters worse, wearing hat and gloves. The heat is stifling, not to mention the company. Her Aunt Bea and cousin Charlotte included. Annie didn’t even know why they were making a side trip to Texas when they were bound for New York. Not that Annie was in any hurry to reach New York, as the man her aunt intended to marry her off to awaited them. At twenty-seven Annie was considered almost beyond hope in the marriage stakes. A woman of her age who reads and holds her own opinions and especially one who is a cripple, had to take what she could get, according to her ‘loving’ relations. 

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