Blog Tour #BookReview ~ Grace and Serenity by @AnnalisaCrawf #ContemporaryFiction #TuesdayBookBlog @rararesources

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Grace and Serenity, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources

My Thoughts

This was quite a dark, although sensitively addressed story, and one that emphasises how easily someone can get sucked in to situations they feel unable to control.

Grace was just sixteen when she met Neil, and not much older when she became pregnant. Neil had charmed Grace from the beginning but she saw another side of him when she told him she was expecting their child. He didn’t want to know and made his feelings plain. This was the first sign of his true character and a precursor of what was to come.

A moment ago I was fifteen, lying on my bed watching Rihanna and Katy Perry on YouTube, my legs swinging in time with the music.

A moment ago I was meeting Neil for the first time, at some stupid party.

Run, run away.

In an about face, Neil decides to take responsibility and asks Grace to marry him. Grace’s plans for university morph into dreams of a happy home life with a loving husband and beautiful baby, but real life is nothing like she imagined. Instead Grace becomes exhausted with a fussy baby and no help from her husband who acts like he’s still single.

Grace descends into an abusive and manipulating relationship, which sees Neil’s cruelty and deviousness escalate, making it look like Grace is at fault. Although Grace tries to take back control of her life, things get even worse as Grace feels betrayed by her parents and spirals into a desperate situation that includes homelessness, alcohol abuse, prostitution, physical and mental abuse.

Grace and Serenity is hard hitting, shocking and emotional. Events are seen through Grace’s eyes  in all their stark reality. Annalisa Crawford pulls no punches in this all too plausible and heartbreaking story. The writing is full of imagery with a touch of the paranormal and without going into unnecessary, gratuitous details, evoking a myriad of emotions.

It’s a compelling story and, although I couldn’t see how, I really hoped Grace would somehow get her life back on track. 

About the Book

Living on the streets is terrifying and exhausting. Grace’s only comforts are a steady stream of vodka, and a strange little boy who’s following her around.

At nineteen, Grace has already had a child and endured an abusive marriage. But she’s also had her baby abducted by her vengeful husband and been framed as a neglectful mother. Even her own parents doubted her version of the story. So she did the only thing that made sense to her—run away.

The streets are unforgiving. Winter is drawing in. And Grace isn’t prepared for the harsh realities of survival. At her very bleakest, a Good Samaritan swoops into her life and rescues her. With a roof over her head and food in her stomach, she longs to see her baby again.

But nothing ever comes for free.

Purchase Links ~ Amazon UKAmazon US

About the Author

Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, and dog. Crawford writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories, with a hint of the paranormal. Over the years, she has won several competitions, and had many short stories published in small press journals and online. Highlights include being placed 3rd in the Costa Short Story Award 2015 and being longlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and Bath Short Story Award in 2018.

Social Media Links ~ Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

The Good Turn (Cormac Reilly Book 3) by @DervlaMcTiernan ~ #CrimeFiction set in #Ireland #FridayReads

Author: Dervla McTiernan

Performed by Aoife McMahon

Published: March 2020 by HarperCollins

Category: Contemporary Crime Fiction, AudioBook Review

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While Detective Cormac Reilly faces enemies at work and trouble in his personal life, Garda Peter Fisher is relocated out of Galway with the threat of prosecution hanging over his head. But even that is not as terrible as having to work for his overbearing father, the local copper for the pretty seaside town of Roundstone.

There’s plenty going on in this third outing for Cormac Reilly. He is still having problems at the Galway Garda station. When a young girl is abducted, Superintendent Brian Murphy deliberately makes life difficult by refusing extra manpower on the pretext that the officers are out on much needed surveillance for drugs, although after all that time there was nothing to show for it.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ The Highlander ~ Rise of the Aztecs #1 by Zoe Saadia #HistoricalFiction #Mexico

Throwback Thursday this week showcases the first in an excellent historical fiction series, based on fact. There are prequels which are just as good but not essential to read first.

My Thoughts

The Rise of the Aztecs follows on from the pre Aztec series and the story picks up in 1409 with two boys from vastly differing backgrounds. Coyotl, a Lowlander, first son of the Emperor and Kuini, a Highlander and son of the War Leader from Huexotzinco. The boys meet by chance on Coyotl’s favourite hill which overlooks his altepetl, Texcoco, the capital of the Acolhua people. A growing friendship develops, both expressing interest in the other’s customs and culture. The story is told from each of their perspectives as they begin meeting in secret. 

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The Body in the Dumb River by George Bellairs ~ British Library #CrimeClassics #Murder #Mystery

Author: George Bellairs

Published: August 2019 by British Library Publishing

Category: Classic Crime, Murder, Mystery, Book Review

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Jim Teasdale has been drowned in the Dumb River, near Ely, miles from his Yorkshire home. His body, clearly dumped in the usually silent (‘dumb’) waterway, has been discovered before the killer intended — disturbed by a torrential flood.

With critical urgency it’s up to Superintendent Littlejohn of Scotland Yard to trace the mystery of the unassuming victim’s murder to its source, leaving waves of scandal and sensation in his wake as the hidden, salacious dealings of Jim Teasdale begin to surface. 

First published in 1961, The Body in The Dumb River has been reissued by the British Library Crime Classics. I’ve read and enjoyed a few of these classic crime novels, this is the first by George Bellairs. I didn’t realise the Littlejohn books were such a long running series but this book quite easily reads as a stand alone.

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The Mirror Crack’d From Side To Side by Agatha Christie #ClassicCrime #Mystery #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Agatha Christie

First published in 1962

Category: Classic Crime, Murder, Mystery, Book Review

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One minute, silly Heather Badcock had been gabbling on at her movie idol, the glamorous Marina Gregg. The next, Heather suffered a massive seizure. But for whom was the deadly poison really intended?

Marina’s frozen expression suggested she had witnessed something horrific. But, while others searched for material evidence, Jane Marple conducted a very different investigation – into human nature.

Having veered more towards the books featuring Hercule Poirot, I don’t think I read this one. Although I did see and enjoy the film adaptation with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson the outcome escaped me, and I enjoyed the book more even more.

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The Paper Bracelet by @EnglishRachael ~ Every baby’s bracelet held a mother’s secret… #DualTimeline #BookReview #FridayReads

Author: Rachael English

Published: February 2020 by Hatchette Books Ireland

Category: Dual Timeline, Historical, Contemporary, Book Review

For almost fifty years, Katie Carroll has kept a box tucked away inside her wardrobe. It dates from her time working as a nurse in a west of Ireland mother and baby home in the 1960s. The box contains a notebook holding the details of the babies and young women she met there. It also holds many of the babies’ identity bracelets.

The Paper Bracelet is inspired by true events, namely the harsh way unmarried mothers were treated, not only in Ireland where this story is set, but further afield as well. For a long time nothing was known about the injustices and heartbreak women suffered in mother and baby homes, run by nuns for women, and sometimes including young abused girls, whose families didn’t want the shame or stigma of an unmarried and pregnant daughter. Rachael English tells this heartbreaking story extremely well and with empathy.

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Fair as a Star (Victorian Romantics Book 1) by @MimiMatthewsEsq #Victorian #Romance #RBRT #FridayReads

Author: Mimi Matthews

Due to be Published by Perfectly Proper Press on 14th July

Category: Victorian Romance, Book Review

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After a mysterious sojourn in Paris, Beryl Burnham has returned home to the village of Shepton Worthy ready to resume the life she left behind. Betrothed to the wealthy Sir Henry Rivenhall, she has no reason to be unhappy—or so people keep reminding her. But Beryl’s life isn’t as perfect as everyone believes.

As village curate, Mark Rivenhall is known for his compassionate understanding. When his older brother’s intended needs a shoulder to lean on, Mark’s more than willing to provide one. There’s no danger of losing his heart. He already lost that to Beryl a long time ago.

It’s a long time since I read a Victorian romance so this proved to be a nice change. The story opens as Beryl Burnham and her Aunt Hortensia arrive home after spending the past year in Paris. The reason for the trip isn’t revealed until later in the story and creates much empathy for Beryl. The first thing Beryl does on reaching Shepton Worthy is to pay her respects to the curate, Mark Rivenhall, when she notices the church doors are open, signalling Mark was there. He was soon to become her brother-in-law as Beryl was betrothed to Sir Henry Rivenhall.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ You. I. Us. by Annalisa Crawford #ContemporaryFiction #ShortStories

Throwback Thursday this week looks back at a wonderful selection of short stories published in June 2016. Some serious, some raising a smile or a laugh, taking snippets from people’s lives.

My Thoughts

This collection of short stories is a little gem. It runs the spectrum of emotions from differing points of view and age ranges, from the most joyful high to the depths of sorrow – emotional, sensitive, moving and tender. The stories convey sentiments we can all relate to and appreciate. There are sketches from all sorts of situations and each gives pause for thought. I enjoyed them all. Here’s just a very small taste, there are lots more.

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New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (Whitsborough Bay Book 2) by @JessicaRedland #RomCom #ContemporaryFiction #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Jessica Redland

Published: February 2020 by Boldwood Books

Category: Contemporary Fiction, Romantic Comedy, Book Review

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For Sarah Peterson, it’s time for change. Coming out of a dead end relationship and having had enough of city life, she just needs to escape and have a fresh start – a new job, a new home and a new lifestyle.
So when her Auntie Kay unexpectedly offers her the opportunity to take over her flower shop, Seaside Blooms, the timing could not be more perfect. She could escape to the beautiful seaside town of Whitsborough Bay, start a new chapter in her life – and learn how to run a business!

After three years Sarah is finally disillusioned with her commitment shy and insensitive partner Jason, and decides to call it a day. Leaving London for a weekend trip to her home town of Whitsborough Bay she’s sorry her parents are away for the weekend, but she can catch up with her Auntie Kay. Kay owns and runs Seaside Blooms and Sarah has happy memories of helping in the flower shop. Little does she realise the shop would soon be hers and her home would be back in Whitsborough Bay.

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The Jane Austen Society by @NatalieMJenner #FridayReads #AudiobookReview #HistoricalFiction

Author: Natalie Jenner

Performed by Richard Armitage

Released on Audible: May 2020 and Published by Orion

Category: Historical Fiction, Audiobook Review

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Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate.

A small, diverse group of people, which includes local farmer Adam, Adaline the widowed village teacher, Dr Gray, the village doctor, Frances Knight, who’s father owned the estate, Frances’ solicitor and housemaid, a specialist at Sotheby’s and a movie star from America, come together with the idea of forming a Jane Austen Society.

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