The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp

About The Keeping of Secrets

The Keeping of Secrets CoverThe keeper of family secrets, Patricia Roberts grows up isolated and lonely. Trust no one and you won’t be disappointed is her motto. Three men fall in love with her and she learns to trust, only to find that their agendas are not her own. With secrets concealed from her by the ultimate love of her life, and with her own secret to keep, duplicity and deceit threaten their relationship. In a coming of age story set against the sweeping backdrop of the Second World War – evacuation, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, buzz bombs and secret war work – Patricia ultimately has to decide whether to reveal her deepest held secret for the sake of her future happiness.

Purchase from Amazon UK – Amazon UK
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About Author Alice Graysharp

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Born and raised in the Home Counties, Alice Graysharp has enjoyed a varied working life from hospitality to office work and retail. She currently lives in Surrey. This is her first novel, and the first title in a two book series, she is also already working on a seventeenth century trilogy. Published in the anniversary month of the outbreak of the Second World War and the Battle of Britain
Website: https://www.alicegraysharp.com/

Q&A with Author, Alice Graysharp

1. How did you get started as a writer?

When I was six my parents and grandparents were subjected to recitals of my childish scribbling and I wrote an adventure story when I was ten. About two and a half years ago, I realized that time was passing and if I ever wanted to get a book published I’d better get on with it! I spoke with a publisher about a trilogy I had in mind and they suggested I start with a one-off story as a first time novel, so I wrote The Keeping of Secrets – although ironically it’s turned out to be the first of a two parter. I’d love to be in a financial position to write full time, so I need lots of people to buy my book (unsubtle hint!).

3. What is your favourite under-appreciated novel?

The Fisherman’s Daughter by Molly Jackson.

4. What is your favourite childhood book?

That’s a difficult one as I had different favourites at different stages of childhood. As a very young child I loved my Dad reading Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott to me. Then when I could first read, it was Enid Blyton’s The Adventurous Four, a story of spies, danger and derring-do in wartime Britain. At ten it was The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. All about keeping a secret, a familiar theme! If I had to pick one of them I suppose it would be The Scarlet Pimpernel.

5. Do you have a special room or place that you prefer to write?

At home it’s the end of the dining room table as that’s the only space available, but quite a lot of The Keeping of Secrets was actually written in cheap hotel rooms. Over the course of about a year I took myself off once every few weeks on a bargain deal, booking a room from 2pm till 12 noon the next day, stocking up at the supermarket on my way, then researching and writing for the next 22 hours, less about 4 hours sleep!

6. Tell us about your typical process for starting a new book.

I already have the rough storyline playing out in my head. I write episodically, so I’ll initially write a few scenes from different parts of the book to get a feel for the characters and events.

7. How do you select the names of your characters?

Chosing names can be tricky – you have to check there isn’t someone else with the same unusual name who might sue you for defamation! On the other hand, a very common name is safe. For my main character I balanced her name with an old fashioned middle name, Adela, and also gave that to her mother as that is quite traditional in some families. My main character’s first name, Patricia, is part of James’ chat up line, and the reason she was so named is echoed later. Most names flow from the characters or the era in which they live. Some surnames are an invented variation of a recognized surname.

8. What is the most difficult part of being a writer?

Finding time to do the actual writing! There’s the research before and during the writing, and then, after a book is published, there’s a lot of publicity work involved. I enjoy all these aspects of being an author. I’m often composing scenes in my head when I’m out and about, or revisit scenes I’ve thought about before, which makes the physical creation of the words when I have the time to do the writing a bit easier and quicker than if I tried to invent scenes from cold.

9. Are you working on any new novels at this time? If so, can you share a little about them?

I’m writing what I call an interquel – a story that slots in between the last chapter and the epilogue of The Keeping of Secrets. We meet a number of the characters again at different stages of their lives and find how a secret stumbled upon by a new character has repercussions over the years.

I’ve also started the seventeenth century trilogy that’s been in my head since I was sixteen about a new strong, passionate and resilient character, Free, and her experience of the Civil War, Commonwealth and the Restoration periods.

10. What is your favourite/most valued work that you have written?

Other than The Keeping of Secrets, that would be a poem about going to a derby football match. I’ve experienced the extra buzz in anticipating a derby fixture, the agony of losing and the ecstasy of winning.

Special thanks to Clink Street Publishing and to Author, Alice Graysharp for being a special guest at librarianlaura.com today. I hope you enjoy Alice’s novel as much as I have!

 

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The Watcher by Monika Jephcott-Thomas

 

About The Watcher

The Watcher Cover.jpgIt’s 1949 when Netta’s father Max is released from a Siberian POW camp and returns to his home in occupied Germany. But he is not the man the little girl is expecting – the brave, handsome doctor her mother Erika told her stories of. Erika too struggles to reconcile this withdrawn, volatile figure with the husband she knew and loved before, and, as she strives to break through the wall Max has built around himself, Netta is both frightened and jealous of this interloper in the previously cozy household she shared with her mother and doting grandparents. Now, if family life isn’t tough enough, it is about to get even tougher, when a murder sparks a police investigation, which begins to unearth dark secrets they all hoped had been forgotten.
Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2jpKeBs

About the Author

Monkika Jephcott Thomas.jpgMonika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002. In 2016 her first book Fifteen Words was published. Website – http://monika-jephcott-thomas.com/

Q&A with Author, Monika Jephcott-Thomas

1. How did you get started as a writer?

After my parents death I looked through all their papers, letters , photos and documents they left behind and decided they would be a good foundation for a novel.

2. How many hours a day do you write?

I don’t write daily, as writing is my hobby and not my main job, which is training adults who work with children in play therapy to alleviate their emotional, behavioural and mental health problems and enable their potential. See www playtherapy.org.uk

3. What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Goethe’s Werther

4. What is your favorite childhood book?

Gulliver’s Travels

5. Do you have a special room or place that you prefer to write?

Yes, in our house in France looking out into nature.

6. How do you select the names of your characters?

In my novels they came from German characters that I thought would fit.

7. What is the most difficult part of being a writer?

Having the inspiration at the time when I need it.

8. What is your favorite/most valued work that you have written?

My autobiography, Under the Pear Tree.

 

Special thanks to Clink Street Publishing and to Author, Monika Jephcott-Thomas for being a special guest at librarianlaura.com today. I hope you enjoy Monika’s novels as much as I have!

 

Fifteen Words by Monika Jephcott-Thomas

 

Fifteen Words Cover

Librarian Laura’s Review

Fifteen Words is set in 1930’s Nazi Germany. Recently married to his fellow physician and sweetheart, Erika, German soldier and doctor, Max Portner, is ripped from his happy days as a newlywed and sent off to the front lines to serve as a doctor for the German army during WWII.  About the only bright point of being involved in such an ugly war is the fact that two of his best friends and fellow physicians are by his side, Horst and Edgar. Then Max and his comrades are rounded up by the Russian enemy and made prisoners of war in a frozen work camp in Siberia called Gegesha, with little to no comfort, decency, or sustenance. Max is allowed to leave the camp for short periods of time, walking a long trek to a nearby village to serve as doctor to other Russian commanders and their wives. After returning from a rather eventful trip where he had to deliver a baby to a Russian officer’s wife, Max is accused wrongly by Volkov, the camp commanding officer. He is thrown into solitary confinement in a cage for six weeks for no apparent reason other than the brutality and hatred of Volkov for the German army.

Meanwhile, while Max is spending long, painful days as a POW, his young wife Erika travels with her father-in-law Karl to safety in another village after being thrown out of their household. Little known to Max, Erika is pregnant. Once her daughter, Netta, is born, Erika decides to start practicing medicine, as she has no clue when or if she will ever see her husband again. With the help of her father-in-law, Karl, and the handsome handyman Rodrick, Erika sets up a surgery unit in their home and begins seeing patients. Erika struggles to raise their daughter without Max present and while her home is destroyed by war.

The only communication between Max and Erika during the four years he is a POW in Gegesha is through brief, mundane messages, as the Russians only allow prisoners to send fifteen word messages to loved ones. As Max and Erika are kept apart, they each grow closer to and are tempted by others, threatening their own marriage.

Told in alternating points-of-view, Max and Erika’s daily lives unfold for readers. Though the couple is kept apart for over four years, while they each flashback to times they shared together. This is a love story, but also a story of survival during times of great trial and turmoil. Fans of both romance and historical fiction will enjoy this novel. The ending begs for a sequel, which Jephcott Thomas has written, called The Watcher.

About Author Monika Jephcott ThomasMonkika Jephcott Thomas

Monika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002. In 2016 her first book Fifteen Words was published.

Website – http://monika-jephcott-thomas.com/

Q&A With Monika Jephcott-Thomas

1. How did you get started as a writer?

After my parents death I looked through all their papers, letters , photos and documents they left behind and decided they would be a good foundation for a novel.

2. How many hours a day do you write?

I don’t write daily, as writing is my hobby and not my main job, which is training adults who work with children in play therapy to alleviate their emotional, behavioural and mental health problems and enable their potential. See www playtherapy.org.uk

3. What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Goethe’s Werther

4. What is your favorite childhood book?

Gulliver’s Travels

5. Do you have a special room or place that you prefer to write?

Yes, in our house in France looking out into nature.

6. How do you select the names of your characters?

In my novels they came from German characters that I thought would fit.

7. What is the most difficult part of being a writer?

Having the inspiration at the time when I need it.

8. What is your favorite/most valued work that you have written?

My autobiography, Under the Pear Tree.

Special thanks to Clink Street Publishing and to Author, Monika Jephcott-Thomas for being a special guest at librarianlaura.com today. I hope you enjoy Monika’s novels as much as I have!

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

After waiting 5medium years for John Green to publish another young adult book, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the long wait was totally worth it!

Turtles All the Way Down is the story of Aza Holmes, a 16 year old high school student, and her daily struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder. The author also struggles daily with obsessive compulsive disorder, and in a sense Aza’s story has been and continues to be his story. Though the story is fictional, he also writes from a very personal perspective, as he has struggled with the same mental illness since his childhood. At first, I wondered and pondered where in the world the title and the fabulous stack of orange turtle shapes on the cover came from. But then I read a great interview/article about Green and the meaning of the book and it all made sense. About three-quarters of the way through the novel, Green reveals (through Aza) why turtles are used as a symbol for Aza’s OCD thought spirals. You can read the article here.

As with most John Green novels, there is a little bit of mystery and a little bit of romance to keep the story unique and oh so fun to read. Additionally, the novel takes place in Green’s hometown of Indianapolis, which I love. Born and raised a Hoosier, and having lived in Indianapolis for a number of years, I find it so cool to read about places I’ve been and roads that I’ve traveled on in a fictional story. Total fan girl moment!

Aza spends her days in class and many evenings hanging out at Applebees with her best friend Daisy. Daisy is a fun-loving character who writes Star Wars fan fiction, and certainly a friend I would like to have. Aza’s mom is a high school teacher, and her father passed away suddenly when Aza was younger. Aza dreads her required visits with her therapist, Dr. Singh, and doesn’t always take the prescribed medication, as she feels that a tiny white pill shouldn’t be in control of her decisions or her self. The story takes an interesting twist when Aza crosses paths with an old friend from “sad camp,” Davis Pickett.  Davis lost his mother at a young age, so he and Aza share a common loss – that of a parent. Davis’s father, Russell,  has mysteriously disappeared, and there is a $100,000 reward at stake for anyone who helps authorities locate him. Russell Pickett is extremely rich, but also a fugitive, who is wanted for a fraud and bribery. He disappears in order to avoid being arrested, a move which leaves Davis and his younger brother Noah to fend for themselves. Aza decides to investigate and drags Daisy into her plans. What else has she got to do? And it will give her a chance to get to know Davis a little better, now that he’s all grown up and stirs in Aza new feelings that she hasn’t felt before.

As Aza digs into Russell’s disappearance and tries to sort out what little clues there are, she also grows closer and closer to Davis. However, she is having more difficulty maintaining control of her thought spirals and OCD-induced behaviors. The story peaks and then ends on a bittersweet note, but not in an expected or predictable way, which is much appreciated.

Turtles All the Way Down is now my favorite John Green novel. Green’s personal experience with mental illness shines through in Aza’s character, causing the story to take a life of its own in such a beautiful direction. I would highly recommend this novel to teens and adults. The language is more of the adult nature, but there aren’t any explicit scenes as in some young adult books. As with all John Green novels, there are some memorable passages and quotes that will always stick with me.

Here are a few of my favorites:

When Aza sees Davis in the restaurant on date night, she notices his sleeves are exposing his forearms and notes, “I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been pretty keen on the male forearm.” I think this is perfectly quirky and lovable, just like Aza.

And my ultimate favorite is on the final page during a good-bye moment, “no one ever says good-bye unless they want to see you again.” Ending the book in that way leaves a hopeful outlook for Aza.

Read this book. You will love every page. Trust me. I read and I know things! (That’s on a t-shirt I saw, and I think I must have it.)

Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore

imagesThank you to Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with a review copy of Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore. The first installment in The Line of Duty series, Crisis Shot, will be released on September 5, 2017 in paperback form. Having served as a Long Beach police officer herself, author Janice Cantore’s writing is authentic based upon her own past experiences in the same locale where the story is based. The characters and the plot line are unique, capturing the reader’s attention in the beginning and keeping their interest until the final pages.

The story takes place in Long Beach, California to start and then later in Oregon, where the main character, Tess O’Rourke, moves to escape the negative backlash and media portrayal of a police shooting in which she was the officer involved. Even though she did exactly as her training stipulated, a 14 year old was shot and killed, causing her to take the blame of society and suffer the consequences of the media’s one-sided view of the shooting. She wants nothing more than to stay in Long Beach and become the Chief someday, knowing her father would be proud. However, when her job is on the line, she knows she can’t afford to stay in Long Beach.

Tess is the definition of a strong female lead character. She was the commanding officer in Long Beach, and now she has just taken the job as police chief in Rogue’s Hollow. She is brave, determined, and loyal. Remembering her late father (a police officer killed in the line of duty) and his rules for her life, she is able to keep moving forward despite her grief of losing him so suddenly.

The book eludes to a possible romantic interest between Tess and handsome sheriff’s deputy Steve Logan, wish whom she teams up to solve a murder and disappearance in Rogue’s Hollow, Oregon. However, there aren’t any romantic scenes, leaving the novel very clean and suitable for younger readers who enjoy police procedural or small-town mysteries. I do hope some actual sparks will fly between Tess and Steve in future novels in the series, however, because they seem like they would make a great pair. Additionally, being in the Christian fiction genre, the language is also very clean, without the profanity that riddles most mass-market mystery/suspense/thrillers these days. Here’s proof that its very possible to write a captivating suspense novel without all the trashy language and four letter words.

My favorite part of the story was the way the residents in Rogue Hollow, especially Pastor Mac and his wife Anna, embraced Tess into their town and welcomed her, even in the midst of the first murder and disappearance in their town in a very long time. The second chance Tess was given allowed her to prove that she could handle the pressure of her new job as police chief in Rogue’s Hollow. Tess’s perseverance is an example to never give up hope, and to keep pushing forward, no matter how high the odds are stacked against you.

I would recommend this novel for fans of fiction, mystery, suspense, thrillers, and Christian fiction.

Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs

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Map of the Heart will be published August 22, 2017. I was in the mood for a love story, and this one was a perfect fit. This is a modern-day romance mixed in with a healthy dose of historical fiction, historical mystery, and a forbidden historical romance.

36 year old widow and single mother, Camille, has shut off her own heart from feeling happiness or true love, since her husband died in a tragic accident five years prior. At that time, she also gave up her favorite past-time which brought her the most joy – photography.

Camille spends her days trying to figure out the best way to deal with her moody teenage daughter and aging father, whose cancer is fortunately in remission. Part owner of Oh-La-La, a home-goods shop in downtown Bethany Bay, the New England touristy beach town she calls home, Camille also has a film developing business. She specializes in developing and restoring very old film.

Enter Finn, Malcolm Finnemore, but known only as Finn. He’s a handsome historian and professor who specializes in war and military history and volunteers his time recovering lost soldiers remains to give families closure. His own father, a soldier, disappeared during the Vietnam War before Finn was born, and Finn has been unable to find any clues to locate him, until a lost roll of film from his father’s camera was uncovered. The film could be images of the last place his father was alive, and it could even lead to his whereabouts. Giddy with excitement at the prospect of getting closer to finding his father, he contacts an expert, Camille, to restore and develop the very old, important film for him.

What follows is a series of sparks, then fires, then uncertainty, and passion in a romance made for the movies. Oh la la, indeed!

Camille’s father, Henri, who grew up in Bellerive, France, receives a box found in the attic at Sauveterre, and estate in southern France where he grew up and that he owns. Inside are some puzzling items that belonged to Henri’s mother, Lisette, who died during childbirth. There is little to no resemblance between Henri and his presumed father, Didier. Camille and Henri begin to question whether Didier Palomar, mayor of Bellerive and a Nazi supporter who was killed shortly after WWII ended, is actually Henri’s birth father.

Henri and Julie, Camille’s daughter, decide to spend the summer in southern France at Sauveterre, despite Camille’s resistance. She finally gives in after Julie is involved in an accident at school and Camille is unsure whether Julie is the bully or the bullied. Julie is miserable, and a summer away with a mystery to solve may be just what she needs to snap back into a happier childhood. And, of course, Camille realizes that Aix-en-Provence where Finn lives is very close to Bellerive. A summer in beautiful southern France AND a handsome, charming, single man dying to meet up with her as soon as possible – any woman in her right mind would be crazy to turn that down! Thank goodness, for the sake of the story, Camille lets go and heads to France.

The story switches back and forth to the 1940’s as readers get to know young Lisette and her remarkable story. Once the truth about Henri’s real father and Lisette’s past are revealed, readers will not be able to put the book down. I know I certainly couldn’t!

Map of the Heart is well-written with equal parts heartbreak and romance. The romance isn’t too steamy, but subtle and implied. I felt transported back and forth between the beach town of Bethany Bay and the picturesque estate of Sauveterre in the Var – both places that I would love to be. I loved the story and even the ending, which I sometimes do not like in romantic fiction. Fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Kristin Hannah will love this story.

The Captain’s Daughter by Meg Mitchell Moore Book Review & Giveaway

If anyone would like to escape to a quaint9780385541251_0df2c.jpg, picturesque coastal town in Maine for a while, then this is the book for you. Having stayed on a lobster wharf in a tiny little Maine town myself, this brought back great memories, as well as the strong yearning to visit again. There’s nothing quite like the crisp breeze and refreshingly clean smell of the ocean in Maine.

The Captain’s Daughter by Meg Mitchell Moore (published by Doubleday) releases on July 18, 2017. Eliza Barnes grew up in Little Harbor, Maine, a lobstering village that she was very eager to leave as soon as possible. Now married to her college boyfriend with two daughters, Eliza spends her time with other country club wives, sharing gossip and commiserating on the frustrations and woes of their high-society daily lives. Despite the years she has made a life in Boston, Eliza often feels like she is on the outside of the group, looking in, and that she doesn’t really belong in her current situation. Her lavishly wealthy mother-in-law, Judith, causes Eliza to feel even more like an outsider.

It appears that Eliza and Rob are happily-married, but Rob spends most of his time supervising contractor job sites of multi-million dollar homes and daydreaming on his pride and joy, a boat which is the most expensive, fanciest one in the harbor.

Eliza is forced to take a break from her life as she knows it when she receives an out-of-the-blue call from her ex and first love, Russell, with news that her father had an accident while out checking lobster traps on the Joanie B.  Eliza’s mother passed away from cancer when she was very young, which left Charlie and her mother’s best friend, Val, to raise Eliza. A hard worker, and never one to complain, Charlie getting hurt and calling the Coast Guard for help has Eliza more than a little concerned for her father’s health. Eliza drops everything and heads to Little Harbor, thinking she’ll be there for a few days, no sweat. However, when she arrives and realizes what is really going on with Charlie, it’s not going to be so easy leaving “home” again. When she was a teen, she couldn’t wait to leave Little Harbor, where everyone knew her business, but now that she is back, she realizes many of the things she missed over the years. To complicate matters, she is back on Russell’s home turf, and they were not on the best of terms when she left town years ago. Already on an emotional rollercoaster with her father, Eliza’s feelings for Russell and the secret they share from the past are brought to the surface once again. Now she finds herself wondering what could have been, if she had made a different choice so many years ago. Did she make a mistake? Can she make things right after all these years?

This novel has a little bit of everything for readers to enjoy. Strong themes of family, parenting, marriage, friendship, love, and forgiveness blend together in a beautiful tale about loving, losing, and finding the strength to keep living. It’s a perfect summer novel for those wanting to read something set near the beach. The story is intriguing and the descriptions of the setting are at times breathtaking, transporting the reader right into the lobster boat with Eliza or in the coffee shop with young Mary. I highly recommend this novel by Meg Mitchell Moore and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Many thanks to Doubleday for allowing me to giveaway some hardcover copies of The Captain’s Daughter. To be entered to win one of 3 copies, post a comment below. Winners will be chosen at random on 7/31/17 and notified by email. Good luck!