Beyond The Horizon by Ella Carey #CoverReveal #Bookouture

Today I’m pleased to be taking part in the cover reveal for Beyond the Horizon by Ella Carey with Bookouture.

Synopsis:

Suddenly, it became hard to breathe and the sound of the engine throbbed in Eva’s head. The plane crashed and skidded. She heard the wail of sirens. The last thing she remembered was pulling her body across the tarmac an inch at a time—before her world went black.

Sweetwater, Texas, 1943Eva has always wanted to fly away. She jumps at the chance to train with the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots and help the war effort, even if the days are exhausting, the southern nights sweltering. When she’s in the air, it’s all worthwhile: her heart soars, as close to infinity as you can get. And since she met handsome Jack, she has someone to fly back to. But on one dangerous night, everything goes wrong. When she awakes, her body is broken and her memory is gone…

Los Angeles, 1977. Eva seems like a normal married woman with a family to be proud of. When she woke up after that terrible night—a blank in her memory—Jack was smiling down at her. But so many decades later, Eva is still searching for answers about the night that changed her life forever. Why have letters to her fellow pilots gone unanswered for thirty years?What really happened on her last flight?

Ever since that catastrophic crash, Eva has lived with the worst fear imaginable: did she do something terrible enough to make her friends cut her off? Increasingly overcome by frightening flashbacks, where she is fighting to escape from a tiny cockpit filled with smoke as her plane falls to the ground, she desperately tries to uncover the truth. But are some secrets best left buried in the past?

From bestselling author Ella Carey comes a sweeping story, inspired by true events, about the brave, forgotten female pilots who helped America win the war. A story you will never forget, and one that will always stay in your heart.

This book was first published in 2019.  

Author Bio:

Ella Carey is the international bestselling author of The Things We Don’t Say, Secret Shores, From a Paris Balcony, The House by the Lake, and Paris Time Capsule. Her books have been published in over fourteen languages, in twelve countries, and have been shortlisted for ARRA awards. A Francophile who has long been fascinated by secret histories set in Europe’s entrancing past, Ella has degrees in music, nineteenth-century women’s fiction, and modern European history. She lives in Melbourne with her two children and two Italian greyhounds who are constantly mistaken for whippets.

Ella loves to connect with her readers regularly through her facebook page and on her website.

http://www.ellacarey.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ellacareyauthor/

https://twitter.com/Ella_Carey

Pre-order Links:Amazon: https://bit.ly/2C5XLIw

Apple: https://apple.co/2Dunnzx

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2XDlB64

Google: https://bit.ly/3gDx5hs

The Secrets of Saffron Hall by Clare Marchant

I’m pleased to share my review today for the debut novel by Clare Marchant. Thank you to Avon Books for a digital review copy via Netgalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Two women. Five centuries apart.
One life-changing secret about to be unearthed…

1538
New bride Eleanor impresses her husband by growing saffron, a spice more valuable than gold. His reputation in Henry VIII’s court soars – but fame and fortune come at a price, for the king’s favour will not last forever…

2019
When Amber discovers an ancient book in her grandfather’s home at Saffron Hall, the contents reveal a dark secret from the past. As she investigates, so unravels a forgotten tragic story and a truth that lies much closer to home than she could have imagined…

An enchanting historical novel about love and hope in dangerous times, perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley and Kathryn Hughes.

My thoughts:


A 4.5 star read rounded up to 5.

I enjoy reading time slip novels and thoroughly enjoyed this one. The two time periods were both interesting but I enjoyed the Tudor time period the most. The historical details were fascinating and the storytelling was superb. The link between the two eras was equally interesting and heartbreaking – if you have experienced a miscarriage or a stillbirth, this may be a difficult read.

A very impressive debut novel and I’m looking forward to reading more by Clare Marchant in the future.



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The Tuscan Contessa by Dinah Jefferies

I’m pleased to share my review for The Tuscan Contessa by Dinah Jefferies on my book blog today – the ebook is currently 99p on the Kindle. Thank you Penguin Books for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

In 1940s Tuscany, Contessa Sofia de’ Corsi’s peaceful home in a medieval villa among the olive groves has been upturned by the arrival of German soldiers. She is desperate to help her friends in the village fight back in any way she can, all while keeping her efforts secret from her husband Lorenzo, who fears for their safety.

When Maxine, a no-nonsense Italian-American, arrives in Tuscany to help the resistance, the two women forge an uneasy alliance. Before long they find themselves entangled in a dangerous game with the Nazis, each trying to save the ones they love…

My thoughts:

This is the first Dinah Jefferies novel I’ve read, although I do have a copy of one of her previous books on my Kindle ready to read. I enjoyed listening to Dinah talking to Catherine Isaac recently on a Facebook Live meet the author session about how she researched the story.

This book is so beautifully written that I could imagine myself in Italy watching the story unfold. Sofia, Maxine and the other women in the story are so strong and so determined to believe that the Allies will rescue them from the Germans. I’ve read many books about life in France during the Second World War but this is the first one set in Italy.

Dinah brought the area to life, with vivid descriptions of buildings, food and people. The end of the story, as all the smaller stories are woven together, is a very emotional read – I’m sure I was holding my breath in places and I also had damp eyes a few times during the book.

I’ve enjoyed reading a lot of historical fiction novels recently and this is now one of my favourites.

Dinah Jefferies (from Amazon):

Dinah was born in Malaya in 1948 and moved to England at the age of nine. In 1985, the sudden death of her fourteen year old son changed the course of her life, and deeply influenced her writing. Dinah drew on that experience, and on her own childhood spent in Malaya during the 1950s to write her debut novel, The Separation. 

Now living in Gloucestershire with her husband and their Norfolk terrier, she spends her days writing, with time off with her grandchildren.

The Blitz Detective by Mike Hollow

I’m pleased to share my review for The Blitz Detective by Mike Hollow, published by Allison and Busby last week. Thank you to the publisher for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. This book was published previously as Direct Hit (The Blitz Detective).

Synopsis:

Saturday 7th September, 1940.

The sun is shining, and in the midst of the good weather Londoners could be mistaken for forgetting their country was at war – until the familiar wail of the air-raid sirens heralds an enemy attack. The Blitz has started, and normal life has abruptly ended – but crime has not.

That night a man’s body is discovered in an unmarked van in the back streets of West Ham. When Detective Inspector John Jago is called to the scene, he recognises the victim: local Justice of the Peace, Charles Villiers. The death looks suspicious, but then a German bomb obliterates all evidence. War or no war, murder is still murder, and it’s Jago’s job to find the truth.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this crime fiction / historical fiction book. I must admit that I was initially drawn to the book after reading the synopsis because the victim’s surname is Villiers and I am employed by the social mobility charity Villiers Park Educational Trust.

An older detective is working with a young detective to solve a murder of a local businessman and magistrate, complicated by the evidence being destroyed by a German bomb. I enjoyed the criminal investigations and also the historical details – 1940’s London was brought to life.

I look forward to reading more of the books featuring DI Jago – a number of the other books by Mike Hollow in the series are being republished by Allison and Busby over the next few months.

Mike Hollow information (from Goodreads):

I first got into print when I was eleven. A boys’ comic published a feeble limerick I’d sent them and paid me five shillings, a fat sum at that age. But the postal order was nothing compared with seeing my words in print.

After that I kept writing – teenage poems for a late-1960s “underground magazine”, then grown-up poems, and later a happy mix of copywriting, journalism, editing and translating. All ways of getting paid for playing with words.

My CV? I was born in 1953 in the Essex County Borough of West Ham – home of the Blitz Detective – on the eastern edge of London. I grew up mainly in Romford and went to the Royal Liberty School, then studied Russian and French at Cambridge University.

My first job was translating for the BBC, and I did various jobs there for sixteen years before moving to work in communications for development agency Tearfund, travelling widely in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 2002 I went freelance as a writer, editor and creative project manager. Now I earn a living by translating and spend the rest of my time in the cellar of my house in Hampshire chronicling the adventures of the Blitz Detective.

Why write detective novels? Because I enjoy reading them and I love to create entertaining stories. Why set them in that place and time? Because overnight the Blitz turned everyday existence into a life-and-death struggle for ordinary people – and some of them were my family. 

A Ration Book Wedding by Jean Fullerton

I’m pleased to share my review for this historical fiction novel by Jean Fullerton published in May 2020 in the UK by Corvus Books. I enjoyed book three of the series, A Ration Book Childhood, earlier this year (see my review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/02/19/a-ration-book-childhood-by-jean-fullerton/) and I was keen to continue reading about the Brogan family.

Synopsis:

It’s February 1942 and the Americans have finally joined Britain and its allies. Meanwhile, twenty-three-year-old Francesca Fabrino, like thousands of other women, is doing her bit for the war effort in a factory in East London. But her thoughts are constantly occupied by her unrequited love for Charlie Brogan, who has recently married a woman of questionable reputation, before being shipped out to North Africa with the Eighth Army.

When Francesca starts a new job as an Italian translator for the BBC Overseas Department, she meets handsome Count Leonardo D’Angelo. Just as Francesca has begun to put her hopeless love for Charlie to one side and embrace the affections of this charming and impressive man, Charlie returns from the front, his marriage in ruins and his heart burning for Francesca at last. Could she, a good Catholic girl, countenance an illicit affair with the man she has always longed for? Or should she choose a different, less dangerous path?

My thoughts:

Having read and enjoyed A Ration Book Childhood back in February 2020, it was great to catch up with the Brogan family as they prepared for the wedding of Jo and Tommy. I was able to read book three without having read the previous books, and I’m sure the same could be said about book four if you haven’t read the previous books. However I do recommend reading the earlier books if you can.

Although the book has wedding in the title, a great deal of the story looks at how Charlie’s marriage is falling apart and how the Brogan family are coping with the repeated bombings in London and the lack of food. I love the small details in the story used to bring wartime London to life – the food, the clothes, the sounds during the bombing etc.

I’m assuming that this is the last in the series, but personally I would love to know more about the Brogan family. If you enjoy historical fiction set during World War 2, then I recommend treating yourself to a copy – hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Jean Fullerton:

I was born into a large, East End family and grew up in the overcrowded streets clustered around the Tower of London. I still live in East London, just five miles from where I was born. I feel that it is that my background that gives my historical East London stories their distinctive authenticity.

I first fell in love with history at school when I read Anya Seton’s book Katherine. Since then I have read everything I can about English history but I am particularly fascinated by the 18th and 19th century and my books are set in this period. I just love my native city and the East End in particular which is why I write stories to bring that vibrant area of London alive.

I am also passionate about historical accuracy and I enjoy researching the details almost as much as weaving the story. If one of my characters walks down a street you can be assured that that street actually existed. Take a look at Jean’s East End and see the actual location where my characters played out their stories.

The Ringmaster’s Daughter by Carly Schabowski

I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for the Ringmaster’s Daughter by Carly Schabowski on my book review blog today – this thought provoking book is now one of my favourite book of 2020. Thank you to Bookouture for a digital review copy via NetGalley and for inviting me to join the blog tour. My thoughts about the book are my own and not influenced by the free copy (or by the author’s dogs – we also have a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel)

Synopsis:

Circus people don’t ask who you were before, or what god you believe in… when you join the circus, you are family, whatever your past.

Paris, 1940. Twenty-year-old Michel Bonnet lives on the edge of the law, finding work where he can breaking in horses on the outskirts of the city. But when the Nazis invade, Michel takes refuge as a stowaway on a rickety train bound for the rural south. It’s a journey that will change his life forever.

The train is property of Le Cirque Neumann – a travelling circus owned by the troubled and irritable showman Werner Neumann. Neumann offers Michel a job caring for the company’s horses – a lucky break, but with an unusual condition attached. Michel must keep to himself and never speak of what he sees behind the glittering curtain of the big top.

But as Michel finds himself pulled into the strange and wondrous world of the great spectacular it becomes more difficult to keep his promise. Why does the man with the performing monkey never speak, and the sword swallower turn his face away? Who are the silent, shadowy figures who flit like moths between the wagons when the sun is down? It’s clear that Neumann is keeping his performers hidden away… but why?

And how can Michel win the love of the beautiful and exotic trapeze artist Freida – the graceful, green-eyed star of Neuman’s spectacular – when he’s been forbidden to even meet her gaze?

A heartbreaking and uplifting wartime novel– perfect for fans of Water for ElephantsThe Nightingale and The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

My thoughts:

In May 2020, during the early days of furlough, I saw this book listed on NetGalley. Both the cover image and the synopsis appealed – I enjoy ‘modern’ historical fiction having studied the twentieth century during my O level course.

The book starts in Paris, just as the Germans are marching in, in the summer of 1940 and the British are heading home via Dunkirk. Carly Schabowski sets the scene of a city in turmoil, with neighbours running away and bomb damage being repaired. We are introduced to Michel, a shy young man, who is the main character. It was only after reading the book, that I realised that this is one of very few books I’ve read recently where the main character is male and is the first male historical fiction main character (the other books were of crime or thriller genres).

Michel escapes Paris (with help from his neighbour Betrand), and ends up travelling with the Le Cirque Neumann, looking after their horses. As the synopsis states, Werner, the Ringmaster keeps his performers away from Michel. The book follows Michel as he slowly becomes trusted by Werner and we discover the history of the various performers.

This wasn’t a book about a circus for me, but a book about how dangerous it was to be living in France in 1940 if you were Jewish, Catholic, disabled, gay or had a rare genetic condition. The circus performers all had reasons to hide and heartbreaking stories to share – including the one who made himself mute so that he couldn’t tell anyone where his family had fled to.

I was entranced by the story telling and could see this book as a movie. The detailed descriptions brought the locations and the show in the Big Top to life. I realised how much I had been encouraged to care for the characters when we reached the end of the book and I was holding my breath to find out what happened next. There are many friendships and romances to discover amongst the heartbreak and betrayals.

This is a beautifully written historical fiction book, dealing with some difficult topics and sadly even in our modern times, some of the same intolerances still exist. As I said earlier in my review, this is one of my favourite books of 2020 and I will be busy recommending it.

Carly Schabowski

Carly Schabowski worked as a journalist in both North Cyprus and Australia before returning to Oxford, where she studied for an MA and then a PhD in creative writing at Oxford Brookes University. Carly now teaches at Oxford Brookes University as an associate lecturer in Creative Writing for first and second-year English literature students. 
Twitter:  @carlyschab11

Buy Links:
Amazon: https://bit.ly/3eMifEf

Apple: https://apple.co/34mzW9h

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2RmjnoF

Google: https://bit.ly/38oTs77

The English Wife by Adrienne Chinn #blogtour

I’m thrilled to share my thoughts about this time slip historical novel on my book review blog today. Thank you to One More Chapter and Rachel’s Random Resources for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Two women, a world apart.

A secret waiting to be discovered…

VE Day 1945: As victory bells ring out across the country, war bride Ellie Burgess’ happiness is overshadowed by grief. Her charismatic Newfoundlander husband Thomas is still missing in action.
 
Until a letter arrives explaining Thomas is back at home on the other side of the Atlantic recovering from his injuries.

Travelling to a distant country to live with a man she barely knows is the bravest thing Ellie has ever had to do. But nothing can prepare her for the harsh realities of her new home…

September 11th 2001: Sophie Parry is on a plane to New York on the most tragic day in the city’s history. While the world watches the news in horror, Sophie’s flight is rerouted to a tiny town in Newfoundland and she is forced to seek refuge with her estranged aunt Ellie.
 
Determined to discover what it was that forced her family apart all those years ago, newfound secrets may change her life forever…
 
This is a timeless story of love, sacrifice and resilience perfect for fans of Lorna Cook and Gill Paul.

My thoughts:

This is the first historical fiction novel I’ve read involving Newfoundland – I must admit that I had to look up Newfoundland to check exactly where it is. If you read some of the other blog tour posts for The English Wife, you can read about the author growing up in the area.

This book involves two distinct time periods – we follow Ellie through the war years in the UK, then her early years in Newfoundland. We also meet her again when her niece Sophie has an unexpected visit to Newfoundland in September 2001, returning again in 2011. This is not a ‘light read’ due to the time periods it is set in (war and terrorist attacks) and needing to move between the different time periods. However it is a well written and thought provoking book, looking at how the events of the 1940’s impacts on the life of Sophie.

I enjoyed travelling to the different time periods, each with their own challenges for the characters of this story. There is romance, love, loss, hardship, new friendships, in-laws, mystery and lots of secrets. My favourite time period was 2001 when Sophie met her aunt and other family members for the first time.

Purchase Links 

https://amzn.to/2KpCBpb

https://amzn.to/3bqYKPZ

https://amzn.to/2VpSoLk

Adrienne Chinn:

Adrienne Chinn was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, grew up in Quebec, and eventually made her way to London, England after a career as a journalist. In England she worked as a TV and film researcher before embarking on a career as an interior designer, lecturer, and writer. When not up a ladder or at the computer, she can usually be found rummaging through flea markets or haggling in the Marrakech souk. Her second novel, The English Wife — a timeslip story set in World War II England and contemporary Newfoundland — is published in June 2020. Her debut novel, The Lost Letter from Morocco, was published by Avon Books UK in 2019. She is currently writing her third novel, The Photographer’s Daughters, the first of a 3-book series, to be published in 2021.

Social Media Links – 

https://www.facebook.com/adriennechinnauthor/?modal=admin_todo_tour

https://www.instagram.com/adriennechinn/?hl=en

A Map of the Damage Sophia Tobin



I’m thrilled to share my review for one of my favourite time slip historical fiction books. Thank you to Simon and Schuster UK for a stunning paperback copy – my thoughts are my own and are not influenced by the gift. A Map of the Damage was published in paperback in April 2020.

Synopsis:

London, 1941. Livy makes her way through Blitz-torn London to the Mirrormakers’ Club, the only place that makes her feels safe, where she finds herself drawn into the mystery of a missing diamond, and torn between two men with competing claims on her.
 
London, 1841Charlotte is helped from the scene of an accident by a man who shows her a building he is working on, and whose kindness unlocks a hope she has long kept buried. But that man is not her husband.
 
Two women, a century apart, united by one place: the Mirrormakers’ Club. A building which holds echoes of past loves and hates, and hides the darkest of secrets in its foundations.

My thoughts:

This is the first book written by Sophia Tobin that I have read. I loved studying history in school and enjoy reading historical fiction. I believe that Sophia Tobin has captured the feel of the Blitz in this book – how lives were changed in a split second during the bombings and how people fought to save historical buildings, often putting their own lives at risk to do so. Livy has lost her memory after a near death experience and finds herself helping at the Mirrormakers’ Club where she once worked.

A century earlier, Charlotte, in Victorian England, is helped at the scene of an accident by the architect of the Mirrormakers’ Club. This chance encounter leads to a set of events which will change the course of history for both Charlotte and Livy.

This book had me hooked very quickly, I genuinely didn’t want to put it down. So many mysteries to be uncovered, so many secrets had been kept and there is one building full of clues to both stories. I loved the storytelling and historical details – this is so beautifully written that it was easy to feel that you were actually on the roof of the Club in the middle of an air raid or being waited on in the salon de printemps at Redlands.

If you enjoy historical fiction /romantic fiction/ mysteries, then please read a copy of A Map of the Damage. If you have read other books by Sophia Tobin, I would love to hear your thoughts – I’ve added them to my wish list.

Sophia Tobin:

Sophia Tobin was raised in Kent. She has studied History and History of Art, and worked for a Bond Street antique dealer for six years, specialising in silver and jewellery. She currently works in a library and archive. Inspired by her research into a real eighteenth-century silversmith, Tobin began to write The Silversmith’s Wife, which was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize.  It was published by Simon & Schuster in 2014. Her second novel, The Widow’s Confession, was published in 2015, and her third, The Vanishing, in 2017. 


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Lucia’s War by Susan Lanigan #bookreview




Synopsis:

London, 1949. Soprano Lucia Percival has overcome racism and many obstacles to become a renowned opera singer. She is now due to perform her last concert. But she has no intention of going onstage. A terrible secret from her service during the First World War has finally caught up with her.

London, 1917. Lucia, a young Jamaican exile, hopes to make it as a musician. But she is haunted by a tragic separation that is still fresh in her memory – and when she meets Lilian, an old woman damaged by a similar wartime loss, she agrees to a pact that could destroy everything she has fought so hard to achieve.

From the Western Front and the mean streets of Glasgow, to black society in London, Lucia’s story tells a tale of music, motherhood, loss and redemption.

My thoughts:

Thank you to Susan Lanigan for a digital review copy of this book – my thoughts are my own.

I’ve read a large number of historical fiction books over the past couple of years and was interested by the synopsis of this book. When I studied History at school, the early part of the twentieth century was one of my favourite periods of time – so many social changes happened in a relatively short period of time.

This is the first book I’ve read about the era featuring a family from Jamaica. I had no idea that soldiers from Jamaica were involved in the war, I had only heard of the involvement of the Australian and New Zealand troops.

The book jumps backwards and forwards in time. I did struggle a little to start with to understand who was who in the different time periods, but this did become much clearer as the story progressed. The story covers many difficult topics, some of which sadly continue in modern times – racism, child abuse, forced adoption, illegal abortion and forced marriage.

Lucia’s love of singing is the bright light in this book and I found myself willing her to succeed despite all the obstacles she faced. The book is well written and full of historical detail. I did find it depressing in places due to the topics covered. Lucia had to make new friends and acquaintances after arriving in the UK, some of which were supportive and some not.

If you enjoy reading historical fiction set in the twentieth century, then I recommend you read this book which is published on 1st June 2020. Available at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0881RPDTW/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_WObXEbTPJ4AT6







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#BookReview The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick

One woman’s secret will shape another’s destiny…

1560: Amy Robsart is trapped in a loveless marriage to Robert Dudley, a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Surrounded by enemies and with nowhere left to turn, Amy hatches a desperate scheme to escape – one with devastating consequences that will echo through the centuries…

Present Day: When Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye in a blaze of scandal, it seems her life is over. But she’s about to encounter a young man, Johnny Robsart, whose fate will interlace with hers in the most unexpected of ways. For Johnny is certain that Lizzie is linked to a terrible secret dating back to Tudor times. If Lizzie is brave enough to go in search of the truth, then what she discovers will change the course of their lives forever.

Moving between the Tudor era and the present day,The Forgotten Sister draws on one of history’s most compelling mysteries.

My thoughts:

Thank you to Nicola Cornick for a copy of the proof of this beautiful book from a Twitter competition – my thoughts are my own. This is the first book I’ve read by Nicola and it won’t be the last.

Tudor England is an interesting historical time – so many changes in who has the Crown and which religion to support in a relatively short space of time. Despite having studied Tudor England at school over 30 years ago, I must admit that I knew nothing about Robert Dudley and Amy Robert before reading this book.

I loved visiting both time periods in this story. Amy was trapped in a life where she loved a man but her love wasn’t reciprocated. Lizzie is trapped in a celebrity lifestyle where she is told what to do and who to see. Both Amy and Lizzie aren’t sure who they can trust and are looking for ways to escape their current situations.

Nicola Cornick has interwoven the two stories beautifully. Both are full of secrets, scandal, family issues and a desire to escape to a simpler life. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will be recommending it to family and friends.


Nicola Cornick:

International bestselling author Nicola Cornick writes dual-time historical mysteries that draw on her love for genealogy and local history. She studied History at London and Oxford and worked in academia for a number of years before becoming a full time author. Nicola acts as a guide and researcher at the stunning 17th century hunting lodge, Ashdown House and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Friends of Lydiard Park in Swindon. She gives talks and tours on a variety of historical topics.

Nicola lives near Oxford and loves reading, writing, history, music, wildlife, travel and walking her dog. She also loves hearing from her readers and chatting to them. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter @NicolaCornick and Instagram.




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