Women Like Us by @MrsAmandaProwse #BlogTour #AudioBook @FMcMAssociates @AmazonPub

I am so thrilled and honoured to be host to the absolutely fabulous and indeed down-to-earth literary sister of mine, Amanda Prowse. And we kick off the Audio Book Tour here on But I Smile Anyway!

Amanda’s most recent release, Women Like Us, is not a work of fiction but a memoir, and I cannot stress enough how amazing a read (and listen it is)!

I think you should read the blurb first, before reading my review.

Blurb

I guess the first question to ask is, what kind of woman am I? Well, you know those women who saunter into a room, immaculately coiffed and primped from head to toe?
If you look behind her, you’ll see me.

From her childhood, where there was no blueprint for success, to building a career as a bestselling novelist against all odds, Amanda Prowse explores what it means to be a woman in a world where popularity, slimness, beauty and youth are currency—and how she overcame all of that to forge her own path to happiness.

Sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious and always entirely relatable, Prowse details her early struggles with self-esteem and how she coped with the frustrating expectations others had of how she should live. Most poignantly, she delves into her toxic relationship with food, the hardest addiction she has ever known, and how she journeyed out the other side.

One of the most candid memoirs you’re ever likely to read, Women Like Us provides welcome insight into how it is possible—against the odds—to overcome insecurity, body consciousness and the ubiquitous imposter syndrome to find happiness and success from a woman who’s done it all, and then some. 

As I mentioned before, I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this book and an audio version.

Amanda has narrated all her audiobooks, and to hear this whole book in her own words was just fantastic and added another layer of genuine feeling to the whole experience. Her voice is so soothing, and you feel she is talking to you personally.

And so to my review!

Women Like Us: A Memoir by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You know when you read books, and you have that favourite author?
Then she goes and releases a memoir, and you just HAVE to read it because you are in awe of her?
That was me when I heard that Amanda Prowse was writing her story.
She has always come across as a true, down-to-earth, ‘real’ woman, who has had her fair share of struggles, including being an army wife, battling cancer, and how her family coped with the depression her son Josiah went through due to them both writing about it.
Yet, she has never been afraid to talk about these things.
I felt I already knew her.
But reading Women Like Us made me aware of how much I didn’t know.
We all have a backstory, and it is that which moulds us to be the people we become.
Amanda Prowse has opened up about her life in a way that I feel will relate to many women.
Without wanting to give too much away, because I would urge anyone reading this to read the book themselves, Amanda’s life has had huge amounts of love poured into it by her wonderful family and husband.
However, there have been events and situations that have tested her and almost broken her at times.
An undiagnosed medical condition, loss, abuse, miscarriages, and that overwhelming feeling of never being good enough or thin enough.
I read each chapter, and yes, there were times I smiled and laughed out loud. I’m as clumsy as Mrs Prowse and could relate to many things she wrote.
My eyes moistened at other times, reading about some of the things Amanda had gone through.
Tears streamed down my cheeks as I realised that some situations hit much closer to home than others. I’ve been there before, too, and maybe, I’m there right now.
And Amanda has come out of the other side, not necessarily unscathed, but a brighter, happier, more positive woman for it.
It takes a brave person to open up the way Amanda has, and I truly applaud her. I would be giving her the hugest of hugs right now if she was in front of me.
Amanda, thank goodness you managed to overcome the words of that English teacher because where would I be without my Prowse books?

This woman, honestly, I love her to bits!

About the Author

Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author whose twenty-six novels,
non-fiction titles and seven novellas have been published in dozens of languages around the world. Amanda is the most prolific writer of bestselling contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also consistently score the highest online review approval ratings across several genres. Her books, including the chart-topping No.1 titles What Have I Done?, Perfect Daughter, My Husband’s Wife, The Girl in the Corner and The Things I Know have sold millions of copies across the globe.
A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda is a regular panellist on Channel 5’s ‘The Jeremy Vine Show’ and numerous daytime ITV programmes. She also makes countless guest appearances on BBC national independent Radio stations, including
LBC and Talk FM, where she is well known for her insightful observations and her infectious humour. Described by the Daily Mail as ‘The queen of family drama’ Amanda’s novel, A Mother’s Story won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the Year Award while Perfect Daughter was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016.

My Perfect Ex by @Lizzie_Chantree #NewRelease

Oh, I do love to be able to support my fellow friends and authors when they have a new book coming out and today is no different!

The lovely Lizzie Chantree has a new book out on Monday and it sounds like a cracker! (oh, and if you preorder, you should get it for the promotional price of 99p!)

Join bestseller Lizzie Chantree for a wonderfully romantic, feel-good summer read.

Poppy Marlowe, a mental health advocate, moves into Cherry Blossom Lane to escape her past and build a future with her gorgeous, but troublesome, boyfriend, Dylan.

Dylan lives in the house across the street. But his reputation as a heartbreaker is legendary and Poppy reluctantly decides that she must walk away to protect her heart.

Poppy’s friends think she is perfect for go-getter Jared, who’s ready to step into Dylan’s shoes and whisk her into his glamorous world.

Taking a chance on happiness is harder than Poppy imagined. Can she let go of her past and allow herself to fall in love with the same man again, or should she step into the limelight and walk towards a life with someone new?

Will love find a way to bring them back together, or are they destined to go their separate ways?

Universal book buy link: My Perfect Ex: viewbook.at/MyPerfectEx

I hope you’ve preordered yours! I’ve already clicked and ordered!

The Blunder by @muttlon #BlogTour @fmcmassociates

Today I am hosting a translated fiction release by Mutt-Lon, The Blunder.

The Blurb

From a bold voice in African fiction comes a satirical and unputdownable reimagining of an overlooked episode in Cameroon’s colonial past.

Cameroon, 1929. As colonial powers fight for influence in Africa, French military surgeon Eugène Jamot is dispatched to Cameroon to lead the fight against sleeping sickness there. But despite his humanitarian intentions, the worst comes to pass: seven hundred local villagers are left blind as a result of medical malpractice by a doctor under Jamot’s watch.

Damienne Bourdin, a young white woman, ventures to Cameroon to assist in the treatment effort. Reeling from the loss of her child, she’s desperate to redeem herself and save her reputation. But the tides of rebellion are churning in Cameroon, and soon after Damienne’s arrival, she is enlisted in a wild plot to staunch the damage caused by the blunder and forestall tribal warfare. Together with Ndongo, a Pygmy guide, she must cross the country on foot in search of Edoa, a Cameroonian princess and nurse who has gone missing since the medical blunder was discovered.

As Damienne races through the Cameroonian forest on a farcical adventure that unsettles her sense of France’s “civilizing mission,” she begins to question her initial sense of who needed saving and who would save the day.

You are lucky enough to read an extract from The Blunder here, today!

Damienne Bourdin’s first priority, as she emerged from the airport, was to track down the Pygmy guide who’d saved her life in 1929. She hadn’t set foot in Cameroon for thirty-two years, and wondered if it might be a waste of time to look for him. Most of the protagonists of “the blunder” were no longer living, and the guide might have died too, like Dr. Jamot and native chief Atangana. It was important she find out, because if that strange fellow was still alive, Damienne wouldn’t dare return to the scene of the revolt without him.
The France-Soir she was leafing through mentioned a monument in honor of Dr. Jamot in front of the Ministry of Public Health and also the facilities he’d left behind in 1931, now a hospital bearing his name. In the taxi on the way to the hospital, she kept her nose glued to the window. How Yaoundé had changed! There was asphalt in the city center, electricity, a big traffic circle, and people weren’t wandering around in loincloths. Some blocks of houses still had mud walls, but only a few were thatched or had roofs covered in straw or woven raffia mats. Buildings were going up, Peugeots and Renaults racing around them every which way, like ants. Drivers shouted through open windows as they passed each other on either side, but Damienne didn’t mind the chaos, she was just relieved she wouldn’t have to walk the whole way to Bafia this time.
The area around the hospital was completely transformed, not one landmark from her time there survived. Still, Damienne recognized the hospital itself right away. She noticed as she approached that no additions had been made; at most, they’d slapped a coat of lime on a few walls.
Inside, she found that Dr. Jamot’s apartment had become the radiology department, and the room where she’d spent the night was now a pulmonologist’s office. Since sleeping sickness had been largely eradicated, the Jamot Hospital focused on psychiatry and fighting tuberculosis—there were sickly people with emaciated faces everywhere. Damienne offered a prayer that this new prevention campaign, unlike the last, would be blunder free, and that no other French doctor would experience what she’d lived through under Dr. Jamot.
The director of the hospital was reading a newspaper, its front page dedicated to President Kennedy, assassinated six days earlier. He greeted Damienne with the particular courtesy reserved for those who regularly appear in the press. He was honored to meet her, he’d read almost all of her books, and particularly loved the last one, about the Jamot Mission, for which she’d won numerous prizes. Since the book was about to be made into a film, he offered to put the hospital facilities at the disposal of the film crew. Damienne was obliged to answer all his admiring questions, and even accept an invitation for dinner with him and his wife, before she could raise the subject she had come to discuss. Was the Pygmy still alive? After what felt like an eternity, the director gathered all the hospital personnel together, and they found an old nurse who said he’d met Ndongo, the Pygmy in question. T
he nurse had last seen him toward the end of the 1930s, before Ndongo went home to Bipindi.
So Damienne went to Bipindi to look for him. Bipindi was in a part of the bush that hadn’t changed for thousands of years, and Damienne thought to herself that in some ways, the town seemed more backward than the remote villages she’d gone through back in 1929. Here, everyone was a hunter, even the women, and no one needed to go far from their home to hunt game. One inquiry and two false leads later, the Pygmy was found. Ndongo was alive. When at last she saw him, Damienne
hugged and kissed him without hesitation, and burst into tears before his whole surprised clan. Ndongo hadn’t changed much, still wiry and stunted, but now an old man. Like Damienne’s, the skin on his hands was paper thin. He lived with his wife and children in mungulus, huts made of branches and green leaves, which she’d once seen him build in just a few minutes, on that unforgettable day when they were lost in the forest . . .
What struck her most was his attire: Ndongo still wore a loincloth fashioned from an animal hide. He was bare chested and had the same amulets tied around his waist and biceps as he’d worn on the day they’d said farewell. She couldn’t believe it! In his small, lively eyes, Damienne saw a flash of that primitive man she remembered so well. There was one remarkable change: Ndongo spoke French. She was almost chagrined that she no longer needed to act things out for him.
He agreed to go with her to Bafia.

My Review

An interesting book based on a historical event, but with a fictional twist.
Mutt-Lon has taken the little-known pandemic of Sleeping Sickness that swept Cameroon in the early 2oth century and its subsequent mishandling by a white doctor and added his own flavour.
We follow the story through the eyes of another white doctor, female, Damienne Bourdin, who is sent to help ease tensions in the villages where it has become apparent that the incorrect treatment by one particular doctor has resulted in many natives getting better from the pandemic, but ending up blind.
Reading fiction that has been translated is always hard, as the passion that comes through the native tongue of a writer is tough to replicate in other languages, however, the translator has done a pretty good job of giving a true feel for the story and the characters.
There is a little jumping around within the story, in terms of the present and the past, and sometimes points of view are a little erratic, but, once I got into the story, I really wanted to know what happened at the end, and whether everything was resolved!

Mutt-Lon is the literary pseudonym of author Nsegbe Daniel Alain. His first novel Ceux qui sortent dans la nuit (Those Who Come Out At Night, 2013), brought him critical claim when it received the prestigious Ahmadou Kourouma Prize in 2014. Les 700 aveugles de Bafia (2020), published in English as The Blunder, is his third novel and the first to be translated into English. He lives in Douala – Cameroon’s most international and cosmopolitan city – and speaks English fluently

Amy B. Reid is an award-winning translator who has worked with authors from Cameroon, Côts d’Ivoire, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Haiti.

Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire by @scskillman #Blog Tour @amberleybooks

May thanks to Sheila for giving me a chance to read an advanced copy of her newest release, Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire!

Warwickshire, often known as Shakespeare’s county, has a host of strange and mysterious tales ranging from ancient legends and stories of the supernatural to more modern documented cases. Curious beliefs and customs were once widespread in Warwickshire’s towns and villages, some of which still flourish today.

These strange and spooky stories include the quirky death of the Roundhead commander who owned Warwick Castle; the association of the great author J. R. R. Tolkien with the town; the story of the hand of glory obtained at Warwick hangings, and the threshold protection spell widely practised in former times. Stratford-upon-Avon’s historic buildings have witnessed many strange events over the centuries and more recently the Crackley Wood sprite has been sighted at Kenilworth. Other stories include the Wroth Silver at Knightlow Cross; the discovery of the holy grail in a box in Rugby; a violent 800-year-old ball game played annually at Atherstone on Shrove Tuesday; the sightings of a Beast at Barford; the annual wassailing ceremony at Brandon Marsh Nature Centre; and the unresolved mystery of the 1945 murder at Lower Quinton associated with witchcraft, along with other weird tales from the surrounding towns and villages.These strange and spooky stories are accompanied by the author’s photographs of places featured in the text, both present-day and historical, in this hugely entertaining book.

I have been lucky enough to give you a taster with an extract, which centres around authors associated with Warwickshire!

Famous Individuals Not Usually Associated with Warwickshire

Find what you seek, That fame may cry you loud.

All’s Well That Ends Well (Act 2, Scene 1)

J. R. R. Tolkien, Creator of Middle-earth: Inspired by Warwickshire and by the Town of Warwick
The fully realised vision of the great fantasy writer J. R. R. Tolkien, which emerged in his most popular works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, arose from a rich blend of his experiences, relationships, and inner life from earliest childhood through adolescence and into adulthood. For the most part, no single element of his creation, Middle-earth, can truly be said to have emerged solely from a single source. Nevertheless, he is known to have told his publisher ‘The Shire is more or less a Warwickshire village of about the period of the Diamond Jubilee.’

That refers to Queen Victoria’s sixtieth year on the throne, 1867. More commonly associated with Oxford and Birmingham, it is not widely known that Tolkien was inspired by the Warwickshire countryside and specifically by the town of Warwick itself.

Having spent his infancy in South Africa and his childhood in Birmingham, John Ronald Tolkien married his bride Edith in Warwick, at the Church of St Mary Immaculate in West Street, on 22 March 1916. While Tolkien and his

family called Sarehole, in Birmingham, their home, Edith lived in lodgings in Warwick for a while immediately prior to her marriage. Edith shared her home with her cousin Jennie and received instruction in the Catholic faith from Father Murphy, parish priest of Warwick.

The elements of Warwick so attractive to Tolkien can be detected echoing in his works throughout his life. Tolkien’s foremost biographer Humphrey Carpenter also notes that during the late sixties, Tolkien’s residency in the town was celebrated, and ‘students at Warwick University renamed the Ring Road around their campus “Tolkien Road”’.

The beauty of Warwick in former times was especially significant in relation to Tolkien’s scholarly interests as professor of Anglo-Saxon literature. Anglo-Saxon Warwick, on its rocky outcrop, commanded a crossing on the River Avon. We know that Tolkien admired the stone-built castle on its rock rising above the river, commanding a lofty position from which a wide panorama can be seen. This became a model for Middle-earth locations such as Minas Tirith. Tolkien’s early poem ‘Kortirion Among the Trees’ was written in Warwick during army leave in autumn 1915, when Tolkien’s peers were beginning to be cut down on the battlefields of Europe. In this poem he evokes a fading town overshadowed by towering elms, which was built by elves on a hill close to a river, and it contains what were to become some of his most characteristic themes. He suggested within his vision that it was no longer the dwelling place of elves as its ancient mythical beauty had waned. Nevertheless, Warwick’s remaining beauty and importance to his personal life was such that he dedicated his poem to the town and returned to its image again and again in his writing throughout his life.

The book is filled with wonderful illustrations to add depth to the words you read, too!

Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire by S C Skillman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed S C Skillman’s last foray into Warwickshire history and was thrilled to have been given a chance to read and review this next book.
Warwickshire will always be dear to my heart, and it was great to be able to read some historical tales and facts about the county, with all the fabulous photos to enhance the experience!
Add in the extra tidbits about famous local authors (and bards!) that were included, and it made for a fascinating read!

https://www.amberley-books.com/illustrated-tales-of-warwickshire.html

About the Author

SC Skillman lives in Warwickshire, and writes psychological, paranormal and mystery fiction and non-fiction. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Association of Christian Writers.

Her two literary nonfiction books Paranormal Warwickshire and Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire are published by Amberley, and she is now writing a third book in the series called A-Z of Warwick.

Her novel, Director’s Cut , is out with publishers and she is currently working on Standing Ovation, the sequel.

She began her publishing career with the duology Mystical Circles and A Passionate Spirit which are both set in the same mysterious English manor house in the heart of England – the beautiful Cotswolds hills. There, gothic themes, paranormal events and ghostly tales are never far away. She has set the books in contemporary times, not far from her present home.

She has also written Perilous Path, A Writer’s Journey which is a self help book for those writing a novel, or who would like to write a novel. Packed full of tips and friendly reminders, it’s encouraging and motivational. It’s also for anyone who loves finding out about writers, their lives and works.

SC Skillman was born and brought up in Orpington, Kent, and has loved writing stories most of her life. She studied English Literature at Lancaster University, and her first permanent job was as a production secretary with the BBC. Later she lived for nearly five years in Australia before returning to the UK. She has now settled in Warwick with her husband and son, and her daughter currently lives and works in Australia.


The Burning Question by @Linda_Regan #BlogTour #NewRelease @fmcmassociates

I am thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for the new release by prolific crime writer, Linda Regan!

Here’s the blurb!

DCI Paul Banham and DI Alison Grainger are back. This time they’re investigating the tragic death of a young woman, burnt in her home. When another identical arson attack is reported, Grainger and Banham are on the hunt for a link, unaware that the new trainee DC, Hannah Kemp, already knows the connection.
She also knows that if she comes forward with the information, her own past will come to light, and she’ll potentially lose her job. But, if she doesn’t, more women will lose their lives.
Hannah knows who they are, and she knows their attacker will stop at nothing to keep his ring of illegal prostitutes earning. Once he realises Hannah is now a police detective, she, too, will be in mortal danger.
As the clock ticks against her own life, she must decide whether to stay quiet for the sake of her career, or risk everything she’s worked for to stop a ruthless killer once and for all.
With masterful suspense, Regan reunites readers with her beloved characters DCI Banham and DI Alison Grainger, and delivers one of her most chilling cases yet…

Now, as you will be aware, I am not often one to read crime thrillers, but I do dip in and out, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed The Burning Question, enough to make me want to backtrack and read previous books!

The Burning Question: A compulsive British detective crime thriller by Linda Regan

Crime fiction is not something I often choose to read, but when I have, I’m pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it.
Despite not having read previous books in the series, I was able to get straight into the story of a team of detectives, assigned to investigate a death, which becomes a murder case, that then morphs into a possible serial arson case.
Entwined within the story, we find that one of the newer members of the MIT has murky background secrets which could tie in with the investigation.
I was gripped, I must say. The storyline was good, and I loved that there was a bit of romance and a human touch to what could have ended up being just another story set in a police station.

About the Author

Linda Regan is the prolific writer of eight crime novels, as well as a celebrated
actress on stage and screen. After winning a worldwide writing competition
with her novel Behind You! (2006), Linda published seven more novels,
including Passion Killers (2007) which was selected as a Sunday Observer pick
of the year. Since then, she has written the immensely popular DI Johnson
series (2015) and the DCI Banham series (2019).
In addition to her writing, Linda is a much-loved actress, known for her
recurring role in the hit BBC sitcom Hi-De-Hi, and guest appearances in popular
shows The Bill, Birds of a Feather, Doctors, and Holby City. Before joining the cast of Hi-De-Hi, Linda started out in a comedy dance troupe in her youth before going on to a lead role in the West End production of Tom Stoppard’s Dirty Linen. Playing such vivid and iconic characters throughout her career
has helped Linda to develop character-focused stories that bring a uniquely immersive filmic quality to the page.
In addition to her acting, Linda uses her personal experiences to write her signature brand of “strong crime”. All of Linda’s novels are set in South London, where Linda writes with meticulous knowledge of the landscape where she grew up and currently lives with her husband, actor Brian Murphy.

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