Book Blog, Guest ~ Reviews, Red Door Books

Dear You By Tessa Broad @TessaBroad ‏ @RedDoorBooks #GuestReview Kimberly Livingston

Dear You By Tessa Broad
Red Door Books Publishing ~ 26/06/2017
ISBN-10: 1910453404
Guest Review ~ Kimberly Livingston

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Tess Broad wanted children. She longed for them. It wasn’t to be. In this candid and moving memoir, Tess writes to the children that never were. She writes to them as their adult selves with openness and honesty and tells them of the childhood she envisaged for them and the mother she believed she would be. She describes her reluctant transformation from the woebegone, wannabe mummy that she once was, to the woman she is now; childless but chilled, sailing through Mother’s Day with a smile on her face. Happy. From the ‘trying for a family’ stage to the relentless treadmill of infertility treatment, Tess recounts her story with humour and pathos, taking the reader on her journey with her, sharing her experiences, the roller-coaster ride of IVF, the sudden departure of the husband whose children she wanted to have and ultimately to acceptance that the life she wanted and expected was not hers for the taking. This is a breathtaking memoir that offers a shoulder to lean on for everyone experiencing the uncertainties and pain of infertility.

Guest Review By Kimberly Livingston 

Dear You: A Letter to my Unborn Children is a memoir/novel length letter by Tessa Broad to her never conceived adult children. She imagines having had a daughter, Lily, and one or possibly two sons. The book is full of raw emotion and painful, honest experiences, but it also has humour and hope for anyone who is childless (versus child-free, a distinction she makes very clear). Tessa describes her move away from a “life pining for a baby”  as a “very gradual process….not just like stepping over a line.” Tessa passes down her history and advice the same way parents naturally do to their children. It just so happens that Tessa’s life stories and lessons are for the reader’s benefit instead. As I began to read, I wish that I had thought of her idea as I struggled with my own childlessness in my younger days. Tessa writes on the very first page, “I’m writing to you simply because I feel that I know you, that I love you; and I’d like you to get to know me. I want this letter to feel like you have spent time with me and me with you.”

The beginning of the book focuses on Tessa’s fertility treatments. I didn’t need as detailed a description of the process as the author gives, but I can see other readers being fascinated with the information. I am glad that I kept reading because the next section addresses the emotional and public side of what a childless woman deals with on a constant basis. From enduring mothers’ day year after year to jealously listening to groups of moms sit around describing their pregnancies. The painful reality of both I have myself experienced. Ironically, the same day I finished reading Dear You a female friend of my husband’s said to me, “I hope this isn’t too personal, but did you ever want your own children?” Both Tess and I have tolerated being asked this question for years. I loved her humour of how she answered at times, and I wish I had the grit to have come up with similar answers. She also describes how she has overcompensated when enjoying time with other people’s children to “somehow prove my ability to mother”, another concept I fully comprehend. The final section of the book Tess describes herself and gives titbits of advice. Think Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen but in paragraph form.

This book has been described as offering a “shoulder to lean on for everyone experiencing the uncertainties and pain of infertility”, but it isn’t only for women who are trying for children. I believe women and men, those with children, who are childless, or those who are happily child free will connect with Dear You.

You can order your copy here ~

Thank you to Tessa Broad  and Red Door Publishing for the opportunity to be on the tour!



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Book Blog, Book~Reviews, Red Door Books

Secrets of the Italian Gardener @AndrewCrofts @RedDoorBooks #Review

Secrets of the Italian Gardener By Andrew Crofts 
Red Door Books ~ Published 06/07/2017
Review: Kelly L 

©KAL Photography


Andrew Crofts 

Picture credit: Toby Phillips

Andrew Crofts is a ghostwriter and author who has published more than eighty books, a dozen of which have become Sunday Times number one bestsellers. In the course of his career he has travelled the world working with victims of enforced marriages in North Africa and the Middle East, sex workers in the Far East, orphans in war-torn areas like Croatia and dictatorships like Romania, victims of crimes and abused children everywhere. He has also worked with members of the criminal fraternity

His books on writing include Ghostwriting, which was quoted in Robert Harris’s bestselling novel The Ghost and Andrew acted as consultant on the subsequent major film. Other books on writing include The Freelance Writer’s Handbook and Confessions of a Ghostwriter.The enormous success of these books brought many very different people to his door; from celebrities to the real elite in the form of world leaders and the mysterious, powerful people who finance them, arm them and, in some cases, control them.


The Cover:

It is beautifully stunning and what first attracted me to the book.  I did not realise until I was sitting to write my review that the gold embossing is not in fact bumble bees as I had thought but it’s barb wire!

My favourite Quote/Sentence:

The book has so many metaphors from start to finish it would be to hard to pick.

My Thoughts

This book was not what I was expecting. I hadn’t read the synopsis as I always try to go into a book without a preconceived idea or feeling.  However, with such a beautiful cover my imagination was over drive of what adventure it would take me on.

Boy oh boy I wouldn’t say it was an adventure more a wild roller coaster ride. My emotions were all over the place with the book. It’s very different, the pace is gentle and the twists and turns come from the shadows. Unexpected shocking events had me wide awake for hours after.

I really liked Lou, but then am I allowed to like Lou? I think all the characters were very memorable and the journey it took me on, was one I won’t forget. Even watching the news today, made me think back to the book.

An array of upsetting and thought provoking topics masked together with a truly gorgeous cover.

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Back Of The Book

Mo, the wealthy dictator of a volatile Middle Eastern country, enlists a ghostwriter to tell his story to the world and enshrine him in history as a glorious ruler. Inside Mo’s besieged palace the ghost forms an unlikely friendship with a wise and seemingly innocent Italian gardener who slowly reveals that the regime isn’t all it appears to be. As a violent rebellion threatens all their lives the ghost struggles to cope with a personal secret too painful to bear. Secrets of the Italian Gardener takes the reader on a heart-pounding journey through the bloody downfall of a doomed tyrant in the company of a young couple struggling to cope with the greatest private tragedy imaginable.

Thank you Anna @RedDoorBooks  and to Mr Croft for being on my blog today.

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Author, Excerpt, Red Door Books

My Mourning Year By Andrew Marshall @RedDoorBooks #Excerpt


n 1997 Andrew Marshall’s partner, and the only person to whom he had ever truly opened his heart died after a grueling and debilitating illness. Unmoored from his old life, and feeling let down by his family, Marshall struggled not only to make sense of his loss but to even imagine what a future without Thom might look like. In his diary, he wrote about what set him back – like a rebound relationship – some weird and wonderful encounters with psychics and gurus and how his job as a journalist gave him the chance to talk about death with a range of famous people, a forensic anthologist, and a holocaust survivor. Slowly but surely with the help of friends, a badly behaved dog and a renewed relationship with his parents, he began to piece his life back together. Although his diary was never meant for publication, Marshall did share it with friends and colleagues dealing with bereavement, who found it immensely helpful, so to mark the twentieth anniversary of Thom’s death, he has decided to open it for everybody to read. My Mourning Year is a frank and unflinching account of one man’s life for a year after the death of his lover. In turn heartbreaking, frustrating and even sweetly funny, this is no step-by-step guide to dealing with bereavement but a shoulder to lean on when facing the unknowns of death and a resource for those left behind.

Buy your copy here ~ Amazon UK

Excerpt of My Mourning Year By Andrew Marshall


September 1989: Meeting Thom It is amazing how one small turn can change the whole pattern of your life. I needed a holiday but couldn’t decide where. One day, the guest on my radio show was Joan Le Mesurier – who was promoting her memoirs of life with her husband, Dad’s Army’s Sergeant Arthur Wilson, and her lover, comedian Tony Hancock. I still have the copy signed: ‘To Andrew. Lovely talking to you. August 1989.’ After the interview, we talked about her home in Sitges, Spain, famous for its beaches, film festival, historic buildings and cool courtyards. It sounded the perfect destination, but I expected nothing more than two weeks of sunshine. I was sort of seeing someone. I was happy with my life. It was just a holiday. Sitges was particularly beautiful at the end of the season. The hazy autumn rays made the seventeenth-century seaside church of Sant Bartomeu look even pinker and the pots of geraniums on the balconies even redder. A long white stretch of My Mourning Year – 3 – sand was framed by palm trees, hotels and green distant hills. On the first day of the holiday, I chose a sunlounger, unpacked my towel, book and suncream, and took a sharp lungful of sea air. I pretended to stretch and take in the view but I was more interested in a short handsome man with twinkling eyes, a lazy moustache and a body that demonstrated the benefits of hours in the gym. By his side was a novel: Die Geheimnisse von Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon. My German was good enough to recognise the language and guess at the title. I’d read the book, Mysteries of Pittsburgh, in English the previous summer. We had something in common! I spent the morning trying not to watch him but we would occasionally exchange shy smiles.

Thank you to Andrew Marshall and Anna Burtt at Red Door Publishing for the review copy.

Book~Reviews, Red Door Books

Blood & Destiny Chris Bishop ~@RedDoorBooks ~ J A Warnock #Review


I lived in a troubled time when the shores of this land were ravaged by fierce, blood-crazed raiders who feared nothing, not even death itself.

It is 878 and Wessex stands alone against Guthrum’s Viking hordes as all England cowers beneath their raven banner.

With most of his army destroyed following a surprise attack at Chippenham, Alfred, King of Wessex, retreats to the desolate marshes at Athelney. Whilst few believe he can ever restore the kingdom, he remains determined no matter the cost.

Among the small band of weary survivors is Matthew, a novice monk who must learn to fight like a warrior if he, along with his brother and fellow Saxons, are to have any chance of defeating the Vikings.

As the impending battle looms, Matthew is charged with a vital role that means he must face danger and betrayal, and undertake a hazardous journey during which his faith will face the ultimate test.

Guest Review By J A Warnock 

As a reviewer, I get handed a lot of books and whilst I am by no means complaining (who wouldn’t like an unending stream of stuff to read?) I am sometimes asked to review books that I wouldn’t necessarily choose.  That can be a challenge and often calls upon my reserves of caffeine and diplomacy.  On the grounds of politeness, I will not transcribe my first thought when I found out I was to review a historical work set in the year 878 amid clashing Vikings and Saxons.  My second thought wasn’t much better as I read the opening lines of heightened prose bemoaning the unsettling of bones.  As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about for ‘Blood and Destiny’ by Chris Bishop is an entirely accessible and understandable read even for a complete novice like me.

Speaking of a novice, the narrative is written from the perspective of a novice monk who, in addition to being in the midst of physical upheaval, is dealing with his own personal misgivings about his path and place in the world.  It is this use of a character that makes the book so accessible as we journey with him through unfamiliar surroundings and learn with him as we go.  Using the premise that Mathew or rather Edward (stay with me it makes perfect sense and you get used to it) is talking to the hapless archaeologist who disturbed his resting place, the story is pitched at an outsider who is unaware of Saxon ways.  It is conversational in tone and has a relatively straightforward structure making it easy to get caught up in its forward momentum.

In simplistic terms, Edward’s life is torn apart by war.  Invading Viking troops have taken a Saxon stronghold and are after the king.  Edward is drawn into the action, however reluctantly, and becomes a key player in the battles and exploits that follow.  There is enough historical context to make events and customs understandable without dulling the action or getting bogged down in the detail.  It is a testament to Bishop’s skill as a writer that this balance is so successfully struck.  This is a well written and enjoyable novel which ends with the words ‘to be continued’ meaning there is more in store for our protagonist.  I look forward to the next installment.

Buy your copy here ~ AMAZON UK

Thank you to Chris Bishop and Anna Burt @RedDoorBooks  for this wonderful read.