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Three Hours – proof copy review

Three HoursRosamund Lupton has always been one of my favourite authors. From the moment I began reading her debut novel, Sister, I was drawn in and so happy – a new author who completely had me hooked. It has been several years since Rosamund’s last novel was published so when I received an exclusive proof copy of Three Hours, her latest book, I was incredibly excited; this long-awaited book was finally in my hands!

There is always that question at the back of your mind when you love an author’s work and have been counting down to being able to read another of their novels; will this be worth the wait? Will it be as absorbing as their previous books? Will it stay with me afterwards like Sister, Afterwards and The Quality of Silence did?

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. So many different aspects of this book will stay with me forever; from its articulated writing, the incredible characters, the tension and atmosphere to the important messages within this story.

Lupton has an incredible ability to create atmosphere and a cold, chilling tension which slowly builds until you are so gripped that you cannot put the book down and, when you absolutely HAVE to close the book, the words are still dancing around your head, the characters still calling to you to finish the story.

Three Hours is about a school under siege. Gunmen pacing the corridors, children hiding underneath desks. Teachers torn between safety, saving children and advice from police. Police and counter-terror officers working behind the scenes, trying to get a step ahead of the terrorists. Parents waiting outside for news, imagining what their children are going through, hoping they are safe.

As the pages turn, the minutes tick by of the siege. It is told almost in real-time which is incredibly effective. I don’t think I’ve ever read a story which is told in this manner. It draws you in, absorbs you into the story, into the heartbeats of the characters. This was such an effective way of telling the story as it meant the tension felt real, it built up, leaving chills (was this caused by the snow falling within the story, or the fear for the characters? Or both? Whichever, it is incredibly orchestrated by the author!).

There were lots of characters within this story, at first I wondered how I would keep up with them all, how they all linked, but, because the action within this book was constant, there wasn’t actually time to forget who was who or wonder how they linked, instead I was too busy wanting the police to step in, to find out what the plan was and to save the children. Having so many characters – various children in different settings, a parent waiting, a teacher hiding, police on the outside – meant that you get a real sense of the place, of the school. It painted a picture of the entire scenario and, when there was a tiny lapse in action, my mind began to wonder; what would I be like as a parent under that worry? What would I have been like as a child? What would the teachers do in our own school in that scenario?

The story is frighteningly real and the author weaves into the story the way people can become radicalised, warns us almost of believing the headlines, of being drawn in by the hate we read on social media. She even brings Donald Trump’s tweets into consideration and shows just how dangerous and powerful it can be for a world leader to make such far-fetched statements. Because the story is so real, it creates that chill, that fear.

But not just that, plenty of novels are out there on the shelves which are based on real events, but only a very few cause the hairs on the back of your neck to raise, cause you to question yourself as a parent, leave the characters’ within you after you finish the book. And this is down to the author, their ability to tell a powerful story. Three Hours is so cleverly written with such passion and emotion, that, combined with the real-life factor this book has, you are fully immersed.

I really liked how this story opened my eyes to a lot of the headlines. We have seen immigrants sailing into safer countries, hiding in camps whilst trying to flee, we’ve seen newspaper articles about them but this story brings them to life. It humanises them, tells of how one of the main character’s fled his country to safety and, whilst it made me really love the character and want him to survive, it also made me think about the ‘real world’ and the real immigrants just like him. It also made me think about other things too – the parent of one of the gunmen, how it must feel to know that that is your child who is inflicting power, how you may reflect back upon your parenting and wonder if there was something you could have changed…

This novel is gripping but also deeply emotional and insightful. The links to the play Macbeth, the sinister happenings within the dark web, the impact newspaper headlines can have, love between teenagers which feels so very intense that it can keep you going in the darkest of places, love for family, friends, teachers, pupils… so many different themes woven perfectly into Three Hours make this my favourite read of the year.

I just know that this book will stay with me and that it will stay with many others too and I am very excited to be able to interview Rosamund in a few weeks and will be featuring the interview on my blog -but just what to say to an author who has held your heart in her hands for all 305 pages of her book?!

Three Hours is published in January by Penguin and will take your breath away.

Why there’s no better time to be a self-published author

I work with a variety of authors; some are self-published, some are traditionally published, some are debut authors who are still deciding which route to take. Having experience of working with both forms of publishing, I can see the advantages and disadvantages of both. At the moment, I believe that this is the best time for writers to self-publish.

Just ten years ago it was very unusual to be a self-published author and they were often looked upon as perhaps not being as successful or as talented as traditionally published books. However, these ‘indie authors’ have proven that this is simply not the case. Being a self-published author does not mean that traditional publishers don’t think ‘you are good enough’ but it means that you are choosing to keep more control of your work, are able to be a little more flexible, grow yourself as a business as well as a writer, learn a lot and grow within the process.

Now, thanks to fabulous indie authors leading the way, technology advancements, and authors feeling as though they have more confidence due to the levels of support available, being a self-published author is something many aspire to and are able to achieve.

With a book industry that’s booming, there is no time like the present to follow your dreams of becoming a self-published author.

Here are 8 reasons why choosing to be self-published rather than traditionally published, is the better option right now.

  1. Industry.
    The publishing industry is going through an unsteady time at the moment, especially within the UK. Even well-known, highly respected authors are struggling to secure deals with big publishers that they are happy with. Lots of the publishing houses have turned staff around a lot lately and the actual sales of books in some areas have been proving challenging even for the large publishers. This is due to many reasons – people preferring to shop on Amazon rather than use independent bookshops, Brexit causing uncertainty and affecting shipping, printing and distribution, and the deciding factor that supermarkets play within the field. When I met with Lisa Jewell, Sunday Times Best-selling Author, she commented on how important it is to secure a supermarket deal – if the publisher can’t get a supermarket to take on your books, you will really struggle. But supermarkets are only able to take a certain amount, they have very strict criteria (a lot of it based around cover design) and so the ability to be chosen is incredibly slim. Because there is such a strong emphasis on the role of supermarkets, publishers are often thinking about how best to make a book appeal to them, so they require a specific format, may request authors to only write in a niche area or to agree to covers they are very unhappy with.
  2. Support.
    Deciding to self-publish may feel daunting – you don’t have a company who will hand-hold, who will do a lot of the hard work for you, who can draw up schedules, cover designs, marketing campaigns, who liaise with the shops, have all the experts in-house – but now is the best time to learn the routes you need to take. There are many support groups both online and offline. On Facebook alone, there are many advice groups where experts in all areas are happy to give advice, share their personal experiences and offer support. If you are a children’s author I highly recommend the Facebook group Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators: Publishing, Marketing and Selling. Within this group, there are authors, illustrators, editors, designers, marketing experts, printers and more. You can find out lots of answers to questions and feel as though you have the support you need to succeed. There are also lots of other forms of support available too – local writing groups which are excellent for sharing critiques and growing your writing talent (your local library should have information about these), self-publishing companies who are set up to help indie authors to find the right experts for them, Authologie is one of these companies. Authologie work closely with authors to advise them on the routes they need to take – they can recommend editors, illustrators, formatters and more and provide the service which a lot of self-published authors feel they miss. With so much support out there in terms of online groups, blogs, writing groups and small publishing companies, it is an excellent time to follow your dream.
  3. Growth
    When you become a self-published author, you grow as a person. All writers grow, putting words down, editing them, sharing it with the world, seeking opinions, hearing feedback… it is all a learning experience which will shape you. You will learn to become thick-skinned, realise things about yourself you didn’t even know (like just how much a stranger’s 1 star review can keep you up at night, or how you didn’t realise that simply tweaking a word in a sentence can give your whole book a different meaning and changes how you look at things), you will read other books in a different light. But when you are an indie author, you grow in a different way – you become a writer, a business owner, a decision-maker, a marking expert, an expert in printing and distribution, a communicator… you will learn so much and realise just how much goes into making a book. It may feel daunting at first, but as you pass through each step, you will learn and become an expert in each area which then paves the way for book two, book three, book four… Self-growth will aid you in all walks of life so you will benefit not just as an author, but as an individual too.
  4. Control.
    I think one of the most appealing aspects of self-publishing for an author, is being able to maintain control. When you are traditionally published, you hand over a lot of the control to the decision-makers within the publishing house. These decision-makers base their opinions of your novel on many things; what supermarkets are looking for, what the industry requires, how many other books they are publishing at a similar time, how your book would look on their portfolio… a lot of these decisions are not personal to YOU or your particular story. They may mean that they ask you to change the story a lot, to rewrite it, to edit a whole section out. They won’t be writing with your interest first, but their own. When you are a self-publishing author, if you work with an editor who works closely with you to make sure they see your vision, you will be able to put the needs of your personal book first, rather than that of a company. As a children’s author, you will be able to have control and influence over the illustrations for your story, you can choose your illustrator yourself, you can research them, then work with them to make sure they are creating the best pictures for the vision you have. You can set your own deadlines and be flexible depending upon what is happening within your life. You have the control to say you’re not happy with how something has gone and to change it, you have control to take your book exactly where you are dreaming of. You are also in control of what is happening in terms of decisions; you aren’t waiting on your publisher to get back to you to tell you what has been decided in their sales’ meeting or what their head of marketing has chosen to do, you aren’t as reliant upon the timings, decisions or opinions of others. Maintaining control means you have your own interests and dreams at the forefront.
  5. Flexibility.
    As touched upon above, flexibility may be incredibly important to you. When you are a traditionally published author, it can be very difficult to be flexible. The publishing houses have deadlines to meet; they have certain dates they need to pitch to supermarkets, pressures put upon them by their team in charge of sales and work to tight schedules to ensure that they have variety amongst their publications, editors and proofreaders and type-setters scheduled in for set dates. Writing is a creative process and adding time-pressures to this process can seriously hinder it. When you are self-published, YOU choose your deadlines, so you can be more flexible. Right now, there is so much pressure on us all to juggle everything- family life, other jobs, homelife… the amount of pressure many of us are under can seriously impact upon happiness and mental health. Being able to be flexible will have many rewards; your writing will be better thanks to less pressure, you can juggle more effectively, you can work in a happier head-space. In a world where flexibility is key right now, choosing the self-published route has this huge advantage.
  6. Inspiration.
    There are so many authors out there who are self-published who you can use as inspiration. Often seeing others achieving what we dream of, can help inspire us to keep going, to keep reaching for our dreams, to keep working away. Look around you at the examples of indie authors to see what exactly is achievable. L J Ross is a huge success, her novels shoot to the top of the charts as soon as they are published and they stay there a long time too! Her novels are a perfect example of how self-publishing is hugely beneficial. She has gone on to help others, to support schools and writers and is the perfect source of inspiration for many. Use technology to help you find the inspiration that is out there – Google the best-selling children’s book authors, scroll through Amazon looking at the reviews and rankings of the self-published books and then use the success stories which you see to keep that fire within you to succeed too.
  7. Reactions.
    One of the most amazing feelings is seeing peoples’ reactions to your book. Whether you are self-published or traditionally published, you will get feedback, but when you are a self-published author you have to put yourself ‘out there’ a little more. You have to be the one who negotiates with players in the industry and to face opinions head-on and this can be the most rewarding part of self-publishing; you will see those readers that you have touched with your words, you will know that those words weren’t manipulated by a traditional publisher who was thinking of their marketing plan, you will know that those words came from you and have lead to that reader, to many readers, being touched by them. Seeing positive reviews online, receiving a happy email from a reader, listening to the happy reaction from a focus group that you visited, gives you that boost and helps to keep you on track, remind you why you are so passionate about your writing career.
  8. Money.
    I don’t like talking about money, it feels wrong somehow, but I think it plays an important role when discussing the best route to take to publication. Sometimes, I think people put money as number 1 priority, whereas I have put it down here at the end of the list. Money is important, but so is having the control, the inspiration, the support needed to achieve your dream. When you self-publish, you may have to pay more upfront costs at first, but the royalties that you keep are much bigger. You can negotiate prices and shop around for the best quality and deals from the various industries you need to use – editors, distributors, printers, illustrators… You can decide how much you invest and where to set your prices. Thanks to the control that you maintain, you can have more of a say about your profit-margins. When talking about money, it is vital to emphasise that ‘cheapest’ isn’t always best. When you are looking for an industry expert, seek advice, use the channels available to find recommendations rather than going for the cheapest price. Benefitting from having higher royalties will give you a buzz, inspire you to drive forward with your dream, to begin pondering book 2, book 3… seeing a return for all your hard work really pays off.There are benefits of choosing the traditional publishing route too, I am by no means saying that choosing to be a self-published author is the best route or the only route to consider, but what I am saying is that there is no time like the present for authors to follow the self-publishing route. The amount of support and technology available to help aid the indie author is fantastic, the impact on the author’s mental health by maintaining control, remaining flexible, growing as a person and seeing the positive reactions can be incredible.

    I think it is important to realise that being a self-published author is just as huge a success (sometimes even more so, just look at L J Ross) as being accepted by one of the main players in the publishing world. Follow your dreams, don’t give up and take inspiration from others and you too could be in those charts.

Environmental Concerns, Brain Surgery, Top Secret Best-Sellers and Flying Squirrels!

What a couple of months it has been! We have been incredibly busy here for various reasons. We always find that this time of year is very busy – authors wanting to reach Christmas marketing deadlines, social media being full of holiday-related books, publishers sending us proofs to review, illustrators requiring sign-offs before the print runs begin and this year has been exceptionally so as I, Lor, have had brain surgery too!

Despite the brain surgery, I only took a couple of days off, and spent the rest of the time working with our authors and ensuring their deadlines were met. The brain surgery I had is called Gamma Knife and all went to plan with minimal recovery time needed. It was carried out to treat a condition I was diagnosed with earlier this year called AVM. An AVM is a tangle of extra veins which can be very serious/fatal if they rupture. My AVM is in my brain and it was a shock to find. I hadn’t been expecting it at all. The surgery takes around 2-4 years to work so I still have a while to go before I can relax again, but in the meantime I am keeping busy with working as much as possible and also raising awareness. I think it’s important to try to use these kinds of experiences within our lives, to help others too which is why I’m being open and sharing it here.

I have noticed a lot of the books I have been working on, are also built upon trying to take a negative experience and use it to help others – bullying, coping with a disabled child, dealing with childloss and, if anything, this difficult diagnosis for myself has enabled me to work more closely, and with a better understanding of, the authors I have the pleasure of working with.

One of the authors who I have worked with a lot over the last few months is Serena Ferrari. A debut author, she has not one but two children’s books that have recently been published! This is what I love about children’s authors – they can often have more than one book on the go at the same time and it’s incredible to see how their stories vary, yet they still keep their unique style. Julia Inserro is one of these authors – someone who I’d love to step inside her mind, to see the imagination she has and the ways she brings stories to life… one minute writing about dinosaurs, the next about Santa and the next about a camel… all so varied, yet all with her unique style – humour, totally relatable for the adult, full of fun for the child…

Serena 4Serena’s two books are both unique to her style too. Serena is very passionate about climate change and helping to encourage children to take responsibility and understand what is affecting the earth. Her first book; The Hidden Spaceship tells of two children who travel into space to get a ‘space eye view’ of the damage humans are having on the planet. The Hidden Spaceship rose up the charts when it was first published, and was only held off the number 1 spot in environmental books by Greta Thunberg! Her second book; Saving Tally, is a cute story of a turtle who gets caught up in plastic in the ocean whilst she is playing with her friend. Both stories are really well told with excitement, tension and hope within the pages. It has always been a pleasure to work with Serena and we are looking forward to seeing what she will write next!

Another author who we love working with is Helen Lacey who wrote Let’s Talk to Mummy’s Tummy. Helen has her new book published this week and it is another wonderful story which will help a sibling bond with their new baby brother/sister, it is called Let’s Talk About Your New Baby Brother or Sister. Illustrated by the wonderful Carla Moreno and formatted by super-talented Lucy Smith, this is a lovely book which will make the perfect gift for any child expecting a new baby any time soon.

It wouldn’t be October without a bit of festive spirit, would it? Do you remember Little Elf Ray, the beautifully illustrated and very magical festive book from 2018? Well, Ross Hammond, its author, has written another Christmas story and it’s even more magical than ever! Little Squirrel Squish, Gets his Christmas Wish, is available now and tells of a little squirrel who has a big dream – he wants to fly with Santa and his reindeer. It’s super-Christmassy and very magical and has made us feel like we should be eating mincepies and drinking mulled wine already! We love a good Christmas story and this is one which we highly recommend!

clumpAnother festive read which I am excited about is Clump by Amanda Wilson. We have been working closely with Amanda for a couple of weeks on her young adult sequel to Tubular Swirls, but Amanda also has a children’s Christmas story which was published earlier this year. Clump is a very gentle, cosy story about how decorating Christmas trees became a tradition. It’s fictional and ever so sweet. The illustrations are soft and beautiful.

Do you like sausage dogs? Do you like adventure? Then you will love Lesley-Anne Thompson’s book The Adventures of Violet and Bruce. Which is the story of a toddler who gets up to all kinds of mischief with her dog Bruce!

And what about poetry? We worked with Jay Miletsky on his latest book which is a collection of poems – all about his super-popular rocks. These poems vary from funny, humour-filled poems to those which make you think to poems which have an important message behind them. We loved the variety! We will share more about this book once it is published.

We have also been working with a New York Times best-selling author and her next novel which is currently Top Secret but we can tell you that it is just as fabulous, if not even more so, than her previous books! We will tell you more about it when we are allowed!

Over the next couple of weeks we are working on several more children’s stories, including working with Jay Miletsky, Lucy Smith, Jodie Issit, Lesley-Anne Thompson, celia andersonLeah Vis and more. And we are also thoroughly enjoying reading Celia Anderson’s 59 Memory Lane and may even be lucky enough to get a preview of her second book which she is currently working on! Celia’s 59 Memory Lane had us drawn in from page one as it is so atmospheric and full of fun – a story about a 110-year-old lady who quite clearly has a lot to say and reflect on, really does draw you in!

We are very excited about the authors we have booked in to work with us and love seeing their manuscripts flourish. There is something very special about seeing a first draft grow from those initial raw stages right up to being on the shelves of bookshops and in the hands of readers who devour their pages, and we are very proud of all of the authors we have worked with.

In terms of our availability, we only have limited space for edits and manuscripts for November and December. Anyone wishing to work with us, we are open to new submissions, so do feel free to contact us, but be aware that the available slots in 2019 are being booked up fast.

These ideas will really help prepare your child for school!

When the beginning of a new term comes around, it can make us parents worry about whether our child is equipped enough to cope with the daily issues which school can bring up. We do our bests, we try to explain how to react to certain situations, how to be a ‘good person’, but sometimes, it’s difficult for us to know exactly what to say or difficult even to get our children to listen to us at all!

But there are ways in which you can help your children, without them thinking you’re lecturing them and without you putting pressure on them. One of the best ways to help prepare your child for school, is by reading with them.

By reading to your child, I don’t mean just any book (although of course, any book is fabulous!) but I mean by choosing books that are based around problems which could come up at school; bullying, starting a new school, friendships problems, coping with children who are different etc. Below are some books which will help children to cope in various school-related situations but that will also entertain and have your child enjoy reading the story too.

One of the biggest worries we parents have is bullying. Will our child be bullied at school? Will they know how to cope? What if they see someone else being picked on? What should they do? One book which really emphasises how much bullying can impact a child and also gives the child tools to cope in any bullying situation is A Very Important Power by Wendy Jo Bradshaw.

A very Important Power, is a story about a child, Wendy-Jo, who is being bullied because she is ‘different’. Her hair is different, her style is different, she’s singled out and it makes her not want to go to school. She writes to her favourite TV character to tell him about it. This TV character is Vippi Mouse, who is fun and exciting and goes to visit Wendy-Jo and takes her on an adventure. Whilst they are on their adventure, Vippi gives Wendy some very important tips on how to cope with bullies. It includes ways to react if she is being bullied, what she should do if she sees someone else being bullied and, best of all, he gives her the confidence to feel like she knows what to do and is happy in herself. The story is magical with time-travel, magic tools and talk of treasure so, when reading this, a child is engrossed and excited to find out what happens. The illustrations are vibrant and fun and will draw your child in. We think this is an ideal book to read to tackle bullying, whether your child is being bullied, sees bullying or even IS the bully as it shows the upset bullying can cause.

Another book that we think helps children be ready for school is Autism with Lola – Playing with Bourbon Badger by Jodie Issit. This story is an all-rounder. It teaches children about friendships, being kind, understanding those who may be atypical and, most importantly, acceptance.

The main character in this story is Lola who is a little bunny with autism. She is struggling at school because there are lots of extra-sensory things happening; it’s noisy, it’s inconsistent, there are lots of smells and different activities going on. Lola struggles because play time is confusing for her, she wants to play with things in a different way to the others and she doesn’t understand the rules to some games. Her class-mate Bourbon Badger sits quietly with her, he helps her by giving her her ear defenders which help block out some noise and he plays with her following different rules. The story shows children that it’s OK to be different, that if you see someone who is alone it is kind to go and check on them and it introduces children to what it must be like to have autism or other neurodiverse conditions. It is a very gentle story, told with lovely descriptions with beautiful, pastel illustrations that will have your child engaged. It is hard to not read this story and feel compassion and empathy with Lola, so a perfect story to read with a child before they go into a school-environment and may be intimidated by the atmosphere or making friends.

Being in one of the younger classes at school can make a child feel intimidated. The older children may look much bigger and seem scary. The book Alfie and the Big Boys by Shirley Hughes is a fantastic book which shows that older children can be just as intimidated and afraid as younger ones.

When Alfie is at nursery, he sees the older children in the big school playing. He notices one of the biggest boys, Ian Badger, and he instantly feels in awe. He wants to befriend Ian but he is also intimidated by him – he is the most popular boy, why would he ever want to be friends with little Alfie? But then, whilst Alfie and Mum are at a plant sale, they see Ian and he’s on his own, and he’s crying! Ian has lost his mum. He holds Alfie’s hand as they help to find his Mum and Alfie is delighted – perhaps big boys aren’t quite so grown up after all and everyone gets afraid at some stage. This story shows children that everyone has the same feelings deep down and that the bigger children within school are nothing to be afraid of and, instead, could actually be a future friend.

A very popular book at the moment is The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams. It is geared towards slightly older children than the three above, but it helps to highlight issues which can come up in school and there is no reason why younger children can’t enjoy listening to this story being read to them and learning from the message.

Dennis loves football… but he also loves fashion and this makes him different. He loves designing dresses and is convinced by a friend one day, to dress up as a girl for school and pretend to be an exchange student. Dennis enjoys wearing the dress, but soon people find out that it is him and most people begin to ridicule him – even his own Dad. But then, Dennis saves the day as part of the football team and people begin to realise that it doesn’t matter what you wear or what you’re interested in, it’s being a good person that counts. This story is full of humour and daft antics – similar to Roald Dahl – but underneath it all is a very important message, helping children to be open-minded about others around them and to accept differences. This is a great story of friendship, team-work and understanding.

There are many books available which can help prepare children for school. These are just a select few but we hope that they will give you and your children some tools to help cope with the various issues which school can bring into our children’s lives.

Is there a book that you enjoy with your child which helps them feel prepared for situations at school? We’d love to hear your recommendations!

Secrets of the Homefront Girls

65883163_10157627081738982_4769878657600585728_oWe were so excited earlier this month when Kate Thompson’s latest book arrived on our desk! Published on the 25th July, we were delighted to receive an advanced copy which is now available to order here

Earlier this year, we invited Kate Thompson to come and visit us and tell us about her own secrets of how she finds inspiration, researches and writes her incredible books. The event was very successful in terms of turn out but also in terms of enabling us to get a real insight into what it is like to write historical fiction, about real-life events and people who have lived through some of the toughest times.

Kate’s talk showed the audience just how much energy goes into writing a book – from that first moment of inspiration and deciding to look further into a specific event or person to see if it’s possible to gather enough information to then create a story from, to those nerve-wracking publication days where authors are awaiting the first reviews coming in and wondering if they’ve done enough to publicise the novel (all whilst already working on the next book, too!)

I have enjoyed Kate’s books before, I have always found them to be very clever how they transport the reader back to a certain time, but I found Secrets of the Homefront Girls even more enjoyable due to the fact that I had been treated to such an insight into how Kate writes.

KT2
Kate with the ‘Calico baby’ at her talk earlier this year.

Secrets of the Homefront Girls is set during Second World War Britain and focuses on the lives of the women who are working at the Yardley factory in London. It is told from three different women’s perspectives; Renee, Lily (who are sisters) and Esther. The story tells us of what everyday life in a waring England was like, how the production lines in a beauty factory carried on, how beauty was important for women during this time as they were determined not to let Hitler take their love of self-care away from them.

But the story isn’t only about the war or making beauty products, there’s so much more to it. Lily hasn’t lived with her family for several years but has returned to work in the Yardley factory due to the war, but it’s clear that she has a secret, will Renee (her younger sister) ever work out the real reason why her sister left home six years ago? Their mother, known as Auntie to everyone within their community, is a headstrong matriarch with a huge character, who is also harbouring her own secrets which are set to cause ructions amongst the family. And what about Renee? Is she secret-free? You’ll just have to read the book to find out!

The characters within this novel are incredibly well crafted, as a reader, it was difficult to not care about each one of them. This is a great skill, sometimes I may read a novel and be really behind one of the characters or perhaps even two, to actually care about all of the main players within this book just shows how well Kate creates the characters. I can see how her insight into the people who have lived through the events and spoken first hand to them, has resulted in her being able to make such wonderful characters in her book.

I felt like the first half of the book was all about getting to know the characters, being aware of hints at secrets, getting a feel for what their community was like and how the war was beginning to impact them. This meant that I really got to absorb myself within their worlds ready for the second half of the book which was more action-packed and full of dramas with secrets unravelling, horrific scenes of war and lots of tense and emotional moments. Had I not have been so well acquainted with the story and characters during the first half, I would not have been so on the edge of my seat in the second half as I was!

There is also a good amount of good-natured humour within the pages of this novel as the girls celebrate a wedding of a fellow factory worker, uncover who the mysterious ‘lipstick thief’ is and the chatter which goes on amongst them all as they work. It helped to add lightness to a book which would otherwise have been too-heavy.

This is a wonderful saga, which draws you in to East End London life during the Second World War. It shows how community and feeling like you belong has so many benefits and it made me think how sad it is that we don’t actually have communities like this within towns very much anymore. It is a vivid and engaging insight that is full of emotions.

We highly recommend this book to those who love history, those who enjoy novels with brilliantly strong characters and those who are interested in beauty. This isn’t a plot-heavy book so it is also ideal for those who don’t want complicated storylines to follow or description-heavy chapters. Don’t forget to keep a tissue at the ready though – you may shed a tear or two along the way!51WtvJLNCdL

Secrets of the Homefront Girls is available to order now from Amazon. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Secrets-Homefront-Girls-Kate-Thompson-ebook/dp/B07KFKC12Q/

Updates

51nnPWRy0TL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_We have a new book proof that has arrived this week! The fabulous Lisa Jewell is one of our favourite authors and her new novel, The Family Upstairs, is being devoured by us right now. It will be published in August this year, we will be posting a review about this book very soon for you all – I’m sure many of you will be adding this to your August bank holiday reading list! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Family-Upstairs-Lisa-Jewell/dp/1780899203

51EnBk0OgZL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Other exciting news this month is the fabulous Dorothy Koomson has her latest book coming out. Tell Me Your Secret is Dorothy’s first book with her new publisher Headline. We had the pleasure of reading this book in February and it is fabulous! We were totally drawn in from the first pages. This novel is about two women (Jody and Pieta), a string of murders, vicious attacks and plenty of haunting secrets. What we absolutely loved about this book is that we were totally drawn in from the first few pages and we never once preempted what would happen. Sometimes, in emotional thrillers, it is a real let down if you can guess ‘who dun it’, but Dorothy is incredibly clever and keeps the reader guessing right up until the final few pages. This book will have you totally immersed within its pages and leave you with that wonderful book hang-over feeling once you’ve finished! Available to pre-order now here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tell-Your-Secret-Dorothy-Koomson/dp/1472260376

Lost Daughter frontPublishers Weekly have just reviewed author Gill Paul’s latest book The Lost Daughter in the US, stating that it is “so engrossing that readers will have difficulty putting it down.”  Having worked with Gill on this book, we totally agree with that. This is a beautifully written piece of historical fiction which weaves together two timelines perfectly. The Lost Daughter is due to be published in Canada this month and in the US next month by Hachette. If you are in the UK you can already buy it here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Daughter-bestselling-author-Secret-ebook/dp/B0777PD616

 

Jodie Isitt’s debut children’s book, Playing with Bourbon Badger, is lola1published today! This book is about a little bunny called Lola who has autism. The story helps to bring children with neurodiversity to the forefront, showing us what playtime at school is like for a child who has extra-sensory needs. With gentle words, beautiful illustrations and lots of supportive tips, this book is perfect for introducing autism to a young audience. We worked closely with Jodie when creating this book and are very inspired by her hard work. This is Jodie’s debut children’s book, but it won’t be her last – Jodie has great plans and already has several other books in production which have Lola Bunny at the heart of them. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Playing-Bourbon-Badger-Jodie-Isitt/dp/1913073009

lets talkWe also have great news from our author Helen Lacy (author of Let’s Talk to Mummy’s Tummy), following on from the success of her previous book, Helen is busy working on the follow-up book, Let’s Talk about your new Baby Brother or Sister and this week her illustrator, Carla Moreno, has completed the images. Having worked with Helen on this book, we are very excited to see it coming together and will let you know as soon as it is ready for pre-orders. It will be the perfect book for any child who is expecting a new baby brother or sister.

We are also working with a children’s author who has her very first manuscript with us and it is incredibly special. Sometimes, we get a manuscript that just stands out and we think ‘wow!’ And this story is one of those. We can’t wait to see it develop and turn into a book which will be enjoyed by so many.

April!

I cannot believe that it is April already! Time seems to be flying so fast this year!

This month we are very busy working with various authors. We have been reading the manuscript of historical fiction author Gill Paul. We can’t give away any hints as to what this novel will be about, but it certainly has had us drawn in and turning the pages, eagerly wanting to find out what will happen… it’s going to be another big hit! We will share more information about it when we are able to so watch this space!

As well as working with Gill on her manuscript, we have also been working with some children’s book authors.

One of the authors who we are working with, has sent us two of her manuscripts. Both of them are around the subject matter of taking care of the planet and inspiring children to be more conscious of the decisions they make that could have an impact upon the earth. It is fantastic to come across an author who cares deeply and has such great passion.

We have also been enjoying working with author Jodie Issit who has created the wonderful character of Lola, a little bunny who lives with autism. Jodie has worked with illustrator Lucy Smith on her books for several years and has now reached the point where they are almost ready for readers to enjoy! The first book Playing with Bourbon Badger, in the series is available to pre-order now (see link at the end of the blog).

Have you heard of Helen Lacey and her incredible book Let’s Talk To Mummy’s Tummy? Well, we have brilliant news- Helen has a new book in the works called Let’s Talk About Your New Baby Brother or Sister. This is going to be another big hit, we just know it!

Throughout the rest of April, we are working on new manuscripts from children’s authors, ranging from a problem-solving bunny to a child who wants to explore the ocean, and also helping some authors with their social media management. We currently have 4 spaces left for authors who wish to submit manuscripts to us for editing and critiques.

 

https://autismwithlovepublishing.com/book-1-pre-order-page/