Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · fiction · Review Copy · Reviews · Rory Clements

A Sarah's Vignettes Book Review: Hitler's Secret by Rory Clements ~ @ZaffreBooks ~ @Tr4cyF3nt0n #BlogTour

It’s a real pleasure to be kicking off the blog tour for Hitler’s Secret by Rory Clements.

Thank you to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Zaffre for sending me a digital copy of the book via NetGalley in return for this honest review.

Before I share my review with you, here is what Hitler’s Secret is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

In the Autumn of 1941, the war is going badly for Britain and its allies. If the tide is going to be turned against Hitler, a new weapon is desperately needed.

In Cambridge, brilliant history professor Tom Wilde is asked by an American intelligence officer to help smuggle a mysterious package out of Nazi Germany – something so secret, even Hitler himself doesn’t know of its existence.

Posing as a German-American industrialist, Wilde soon discovers the shocking truth about the ‘package’, and why the Nazis will stop at nothing to prevent it leaving Germany. With ruthless killers loyal to Martin Bormann hunting him down, Wilde makes a desperate gamble on an unlikely escape route. But even if he reaches England alive, that will not be the end of his ordeal. Wilde is now convinced that the truth he has discovered must remain hidden, even if it means betraying the country he loves . . .

~ My thoughts ~

When the invitation for this blog tour popped into my inbox, I was quite excited as I enjoy reading stories set in World War 2. Hitler’s Secret is quite different to other books I’ve read from this period though. It’s a gritty, dark, historical spy thriller that took me on quite a journey. 

When history professor Tom Wilde is asked to go undercover to Germany to pick up a ‘package’ to smuggle back to England, I’m not even sure he realises what he is taking on. What ensues is espionage, Boorman’s men chasing Wilde across land and sea who will do anything, and I mean anything, to destroy the package, mortal danger as well as other things that come with war: road blocks, checkpoints, not knowing who to trust, the list is endless. 

I thought the story was well plotted, researched and flowed. There are quite a few characters in the story so I had to concentrate a little but it soon become clear how they all fit together. I really like Tom Wilde as a character. He is a decent man and makes a brilliant agent.

Hitler’s Secret is the 4th book in a series featuring Tom Wilde. I’ve not read the other books in the series nor experienced Rory Clements writing before. I felt that it was fine to read as a standalone novel. However, I do like a back story and would love to know more about Wilde’s background and what missions he has been sent on in the past. This was a mission and half to say the least. I will definitely be reading the other books in the Tom Wilde series.

~ Where to find Hitler’s Secret ~

Hitler's Secret by Rory Clements

Hitler’s Secret by Rory Clements will be published by Zaffre in the UK on 23rd January 2020. It’s available to pre-order from all good bookshops as well at Amazon UK, Amazon US and can also be found on Goodreads.

~ About Rory Clements ~

Rory Clements

RORY CLEMENTS is a Sunday Times bestselling author. He is twice winner of the CWA Historical Dagger Award, most recently in 2018 for Nucleus, the second Tom Wilde novel. A TV series of Rory’s previous series, the John Shakespeare novels, is currently in development. Rory lives in Norfolk with his family. Find out more at www.roryclements.co.uk

*Author photograph from Goodreads

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Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · fiction · R.C. Bridgestock · Review Copy · Reviews

A Sarah's Vignettes Book Review: Payback by R.C. Bridgestock (@RCBridgestock) ~ @DomePress #BlogTour

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Payback blog tour. I loved this book and I am so excited to be able to share it with you.

Thank you to Emily Glenister at The Dome Press for inviting me to take part in the tour and for sending me a proof copy of the book in return for this honest review.

Before I share my review with you, here is what Payback is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

Charley Mann left Yorkshire for the Met and a fast-track career – but now she’s back, she’s in charge and the area’s first young, female DI.

Her hometown, the Yorkshire countryside, and her old friends all seem unchanged but appearances can be deceptive.

When a brutal murder is discovered, Charley is forced to question everything, and the interest of her ex – reporter Danny Ray – doesn’t make it easier.

~ My thoughts ~

This is the first novel I’ve read by the crime writing duo R.C. Bridgestock and I loved it. I am really pleased that I have discovered their excellent writing at the beginning of the DI Charley Mann series.

I’m quite partial to watching a British detective tv drama and that’s what Payback feels like. My imagination was the screen. There is such a high level of detail that I could see the story vividly – even the bits I didn’t want to see.

R.C. Bridgestock’s wealth of police experience is evident throughout the story. Payback is a step by step account of police process and procedure, from crime scene, informing press, setting up the incident room, press conference, to following up on leads, interviewing suspects, closing a case. Most of one chapter is the post mortem on a body. It is brilliantly done and felt like a scene from Silent Witness. 

DI Charley Mann is the protagonist and our narrator. I really warmed to her. She is in her late twenties and has just returned from working in the Met to her home town where she has a lot to prove as the youngest DI in her area. As the story progresses, we learn about Charley and what makes her tick. I feel we have only just touched the surface with Charley’s story and there is a lot more to come from her.

All of the characters are well developed. There are old time police officers, young police officers wanting to make an impression on their new boss, the station cleaner that looks after everyone and so on. I felt a part of this police station and investigation.

Payback is a brilliant, professional, all-consuming crime novel that has left me wanting more. I am really looking forward to the next book in the series. I highly recommend this book!

~ Where to find Payback ~

Payback by R.C. Bridgestock

Payback by R.C. Bridgestock was published in the UK by The Dome Press on 9th January 2020. It can be found in all good bookshops as well at Amazon UK, Amazon US and on Goodreads.

~ About R.C. Bridgestock ~

R.C. Bridgestock is the name that husband and wife co-authors Robert (Bob) and Carol Bridgestock write under. Between them they have nearly 50 years of police experience, offering an authentic edge to their stories. The writing duo created the character DI Jack Dylan, the ninth book of which was published by The Dome Press in 2019, along with their backlist.

Bob was a highly commended career detective of 30 years, retiring at the rank of Detective Superintendent. During his last three years, he took charge of 26 murders, 23 major incidents, over 50 suspicious deaths and numerous sexual assaults. He was also a trained hostage negotiator with suicide interventions, kidnap, terrorism and extortion. Bob was seconded to a protracted enquiry investigating alleged police corruption in another force. He worked on the Yorkshire Ripper and Sarah Harper murder, and received praise from Crown Court Judges and Chief Constables alike for outstanding work at all ranks, including winning the much-coveted Dennis Hoban Trophy.

As a police civilian supervisor, Carol also received a Chief Constable’s commendation for outstanding work.

The couple are the storyline consultants / police procedural on BAFTA-winning BBC1 police drama Happy Valley and series 3 of ITV’s Scott and Bailey, and are presently working with Scott Free Production scriptwriters on two commissioned TV drama series.

The couple pride themselves on being up-to-date on past and present day UK police procedures, and as a result, Bob is regularly sought by UK television, radio and national and local newspapers for comment on developing major crime incidents etc. They have also taken part in BBC Radio 4 (Steve) PUNT P.I.

Carol and Bob are also patrons and ambassadors for several charities.

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Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · fiction · Megan Angelo · Review Copy · Reviews

A Sarah's Vignettes Book Review: Followers by Megan Angelo (@meganangelo) ~ @HQstories #BlogTour

Welcome to my stop on the Followers blog tour. Thank you to HQ, Harper Collins, for inviting me to take part in the tour and for sending me a proof copy of the book in return for this honest review.

Before I share my review with you, here is what Followers is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

When everyone is watching you can run, but you can’t hide…

2051. Marlow and her mother, Floss, have been handpicked to live their lives on camera, in the closed community of Constellation.

Unlike her mother, who adores the spotlight, Marlow hates having her every move judged by a national audience.

But she isn’t brave enough to escape until she discovers a shattering secret about her birth.

Now she must unravel the truth around her own history in a terrifying race against time…

~ My thoughts ~

Well this was an interesting read indeed. It took me a while to get my head around what I had read and the journey I had been on as a reader.

Followers is well written, intelligently constructed and thought-provoking. In this debut, Megan Angelo looks at friendship, our internet obsessed culture, privacy, the choices we make and their ramifications. It gives a chilling and unsettling view into the not so distant future.

As the book title suggests, Followers deep dives into lives lived through the digital world, mainly social media, and what it means to have your 15 minutes of fame. Set between 2015 and 2051, it follows the lives of Orla Cadden and her roomate Floss in 2015, and Marlo thirty years later.

Orla works as a blogger for a celebrity website and Floss has desires to become a famous singer. Floss is very much influenced by what she sees on Instagram and uses her friendship with Orla to try to achieve her ambitions. Fast forward to 2051 and to Constellation, a closed Californian village where the government has appointed people to live their lives online 24/7. How well storylines are received by followers, dictates what paths the inhabitants lives will take. Marlow has over 12 million followers but she doesn’t like the attention. For one of the storylines, she discovers something that will change the course of her life and questions everything she has ever known.

I did find that it took me a while to get into the book. For me, the chapters are quite long (I am a fan of short chapters) but there is a lot of story to get across. The chapters alternate between the present and the future until they collide in an event, that changes the lives of American citizens forever. I was really curious to see where Megan Angelo was taking the story. She shines a lot on how social media can affect our mental health and dictate our lives, if we let it. It left me valuing human interaction even more.

~ Where to find Followers ~

Followers by Megan Angelo

Followers by Megan Angelo will be published by HQ in the UK on 9th January 2020. It can be found in all good bookshops as well at Amazon UK, Amazon US and on Goodreads.

~ About Megan Angelo ~

Megan has written about television, film, women and pop culture, and motherhood for publications including The New York Times (where she helped launch city comedy coverage), Glamour (where she was a contributing editor and wrote a column on women and television), Elle, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, and Slate. She is a native of Quakertown, Pennsylvania and a graduate of Villanova University. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her family. FOLLOWERS is her first novel.

*Author biography and photograph from Goodreads

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A Week in Books · Books · Charlotte Collins · Emily Gunnis · Karen Swan · Literary Lowdown · Lucy Coleman · Nino Haratischvili · Ruth Martin · Salley Vickers

Sarah’s Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 24 November 2019

Welcome to this week’s round-up of what’s been going on here at Sarah’s Vignettes, on social media, the books I’ve been adding to my shelves and other bookish delights. Keep scrolling to get the lowdown.

~ On the blog ~

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

Wednesday was my stop on the blog tour for Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman. This is a book with a big heart and I loved it!

~ On social media ~

For #FlashbackFriday, I chose The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis.

~ On my calendar ~

Karen Swan

On Wednesday, I went to An Evening with author Karen Swan at Hobbs in Covent Garden, London. Karen spoke about her writing, research and answered our questions. She also treated us to a couple of readings from her latest novel The Christmas Party. We all had the opportunity to get our books signed and chat with Karen individually. It was a fun night!

~ On my bookshelf ~

I added 3 books to my bookshelf this week.

The Christmas Party by Karen Swan

The Christmas Party by Karen Swan

When Declan Lorne, the last remaining knight in Ireland, dies suddenly, an ancient title passes with him. But his estate on Ireland’s rugged south-west coast is left to his three daughters. The two eldest, Ottie and Pip, inherit in line with expectations, but to everyone’s surprise – and dismay – it is the errant baby of the family, Willow, who gets the castle.

Why her? Something unknown – something terrible – made her turn her back on her family three years earlier, escaping to Dublin and vowing never to return. So when Willow quickly announces she is selling up, her revenge seems sweet and the once-close sisters are pushed to breaking point: in desperation, Pip risks everything to secure her own future, and Ottie makes a decision that will ruin lives. It’s each woman for herself.

Before moving in, Connor Shaye, the prospective new owner, negotiates throwing a lavish party at the castle just days before Christmas – his hello, their goodbye. But as their secrets begin to catch up with them, Ottie, Willow and Pip are forced to ask themselves which is harder: stepping into the future, or letting go of the past?


Grandmothers by Salley Vickers

Grandmothers by Salley Vickers

Grandmothers is the story of three very different women and their relationship with the younger generation: fiercely independent Nan, who leads a secret life as an award-winning poet when she is not teaching her grandson Billy how to lie; glamorous Blanche, deprived of the company of her beloved granddaughter Kitty by her hostile daughter-in-law, who finds solace in rebelliously taking to drink and shop lifting; and shy, bookish Minna who in the safety of shepherd’s hut shares with her surrogate granddaughter Rose her passion for reading. The outlook of all three women subtly alters when through their encounters with each other they discover that the past is always with us and that we go on learning and changing until the very end.

Grandmothers is a beautifully observed, sometimes subversive, often tender and elegiac novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Librarian.


The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili (translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin)

The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili (translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin)

Six romances, one revolution, the story of the century.

‘That night Stasia took an oath, swearing to learn the recipe by heart and destroy the paper. And when she was lying in her bed again, recalling the taste with all her senses, she was sure that this secret recipe could heal wounds, avert catastrophes, and bring people happiness. But she was wrong.’

At the start of the twentieth century, on the edge of the Russian Empire, a family prospers. It owes its success to a delicious chocolate recipe, passed down the generations with great solemnity and caution. A caution which is justified: this is a recipe for ecstasy that carries a very bitter aftertaste …

Stasia learns it from her Georgian father and takes it north, following her new husband, Simon, to his posting at the centre of the Russian Revolution in St Petersburg. Stasia’s is only the first in a symphony of grand but all too often doomed romances that swirl from sweet to sour in this epic tale of the red century.

Tumbling down the years, and across vast expanses of longing and loss, generation after generation of this compelling family hears echoes and sees reflections. Great characters and greater relationships come and go and come again; the world shakes, and shakes some more, and the reader rejoices to have found at last one of those glorious old books in which you can live and learn, be lost and found, and make indelible new friends.

~ On my bedside table ~

When Stars Will Shine: Helping our Heroes One Page at a Time, compiled by Emma Mitchell

I’m finishing off the final few stories in When Stars Will Shine, compiled by Emma Mitchell. I’ll be sharing my review of this great collection on 10th December.


What books you been reading and buying this week? Let me know by leaving a reply in the box below.

Until next week, happy reading!

Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · fiction · Mary Beth Keane · Review Copy · Reviews

A Sarah’s Vignettes Book Review: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (@Mary_Beth_Keane) ~ @MichaelJBooks #BlogTour

I am pleased to be sharing my review of The New York Times bestseller and Radio 2 Summer Book Club pick Ask Again, Yes , the latest novel from author Mary Beth Keane.

My thanks to Sriya Varadharajan at Michael Joseph for a space on the tour and for me sending me a proof copy of the book (in return for my honest review).

Before I share my thoughts with you, here is what Ask Again, Yes is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

A gripping and compassionate drama of two families linked by chance, love and tragedy

Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big-lawned suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours.

Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope – cold, elegant, unstable – wants to be left alone.

It’s left to their children – Lena’s youngest, Kate, and Anne’s only child, Peter – to find their way to one another. To form a friendship whose resilience and love will be almost broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all.

A tragedy whose true origins only become clear many years later . . .

A story of love and redemption, faith and forgiveness, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood – villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so. 

A story of how, if we’re lucky, the violence lurking beneath everyday life can be vanquished by the power of love.

~ My thoughts ~

Ask Again, Yes is one of the most powerful books I have read in a long time. Set in Gillam, New York, this multigenerational family drama follows the trials and tribulations of neighbours The Stanhopes and The Gleesons across 40 years.

When The Stanhopes move in, everyone expects that Anne Stanhope and Lena Gleeson will be friends. The neighbourhood is so tight, that it is suffocating. However, Anne is very cold towards Lena and it isn’t until much later on in the book that we understand why.

The story is told mostly from the points of view of Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope. Kate and Peter are born during the story and both families are completely different. Seeing events through young and innocent eyes, they cannot understand why their parents want to stop them from being friends. Then as the years pass, we see through their adult eyes the reasoning behind this.

Mary Beth Keane writes with compassion for her characters but she also puts them through the mill, as she does her readers. I was exhausted by the time I came to the end. Four decades of love, loss, tragedy are carefully woven with the topics of mental health, alcoholism, marriage, parenthood, and much more.

At it’s core, Ask Again, Yes shows how the power of love will conquer all. This is a book and an author to watch.

~ Where to find Ask Again, Yes ~

Ask Again, Yes book cover

Ask Again, Yes was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 7th August 2019. You can buy it in all good bookshops and on Amazon UK. It is also on Goodreads.

~ About Mary Beth Keane ~

Mary Beth Keane, author photo

Mary Beth Keane attended Barnard College and the University of Virginia, where she received an MFA. In 2011, she was named one of the National Book Foundation’s ‘5 Under 35,’ and in 2015 she was awarded a John S. Guggenheim fellowship for fiction writing. She currently lives in Pearl River, New York, with her husband and their two sons. She is the author of The Walking People , Fever , and Ask Again, Yes .

W: MaryBethKeane.com ~ F: @mbkwriter ~ T: @Mary_Beth_Keane ~ I: @marybethkeane

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Advanced Review Copy · Ali Pantony · Blog Tours · Books · fiction · Review Copy · Reviews

A Sarah’s Vignettes Book Review: Almost Adults by Ali Pantony (@alipantony) ~ @EburyPublishing #BlogTour

I am pleased to be sharing with you my review of Almost Adults , the debut novel from journalist and author Ali Pantony.

My thanks to Alice King at Ebury Press for a space on the blog tour and for sending me a proof copy of the book (in return for this honest review).

Before I share my thoughts with you, here is what Almost Adults is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

The struggle is real but at least they’re all in it together.

Ever managed to kill a succulent after just a few days? 
Got seven reminder letters on the kitchen table because you forgot to pay your council tax? 
Become a hot mess who’s falling apart because they’ve been broken up with?

Mackie, Edele, Alex and Nat are navigating their chaotic and confusing twenties together. They have jobs and pay their own rent (well, most of them) but don’t know how to bleed radiators, defrost a freezer or test the smoke alarms.

With break-ups to deal with and major decisions to make, life can get messy especially when they’re still trying to get the hang of this ‘being a grown-up’ thing.

Welcome to the joys of being almost adults.

~ My thoughts ~

Almost Adults is a fresh and uplifting story exploring the power of female friendships. It was such a joy to read and I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did.

Mackie, Edele, Alex and Nat have been the best of friends for years. Mackie and Alex seem to have life figured out and Nat and Edele are still working it out. Almost Adults charts the highs and lows of the twenty somethings as they navigate their way through their personal and professional lives, asking the question, when is it that we truly become adults? It is the strength of their friendship that gets them through. These are the friends who are there to cheer you on on your good days but more importantly who sit and hold you on the bad days. These women have each others backs and will do anything for one another.

Each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view , allowing us to get to know each of them individually and see the other characters how they see them. Each character is relatable and I think there are elements of these women in all of us.

Ali Pantony writes with such ease that the story flows seamlessly and I could easily have read this book in one sitting. Instead, I read it over several lunch breaks and I found that I couldn’t wait to pick up where I last left the girls to find out what was happening and how they were. I felt so comfortable in their company that I felt as though I was an honorary member of their group.

Almost Adults has a lot of heart and I finished it with a smile on my face. It is feel-good fiction and a perfect summer read. This is a brilliant debut and I’m looking forward to seeing what Ali Pantony writes next.

~ Where to find Almost Adults ~

Almost Adults was published by Ebury Press, first as an eBook on 24 June 2019 and in Paperback on 8th August 2019. You can buy it in all good bookshops and on Amazon UK. It is also on goodreads.

~ About Ali Pantony ~

Ali Pantony

Ali Pantony is a freelance writer and editor. Her writing has appeared in Glamour, Grazia, BBC Three, Refinery29, Vice, Red, and Evening Standard. Ali was born in Maidstone, Kent, and lives in North London. Almost Adults is her debut novel.

W: https://www.alipantony.com/ ~ T: @alipantony ~ I: @alipantony

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Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · Review Copy · Reviews · Rowan Coleman

A Sarah’s Vignettes Book Review: The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman (@rowancoleman) ~ @EburyPublishing ~ @annecater #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour

I am thrilled to be able to finally share with you my review of The Girl at the Window by Sunday Times bestselling author Rowan Coleman. I read it back in June and it blew me away. I’ve been itching to talk about it ever since.

My thanks to Ellie Crisp at Ebury Press for sending me a stunning proof copy of the novel (in return for my honest review) and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

Before I finally share my thoughts with you, here is what The Girl at the Window is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…

~ My thoughts ~

Whenever I can, I like to read a physical copy of a book. For me, there is something about holding it, turning its pages, and looking at the book’s cover each time I pick it up. I feel I become part of the book. This was certainly the case with The Girl at the Window and my enjoyment started with its beautiful front cover. Even the proof copy of the book is a thing beauty.

I have five of Rowan Coleman’s novels sitting on my bookshelf, patiently waiting to be read. For some reason, The Girl at the Window is the first one that I am reading but I do understand why. I am a great believer that some books come to us at the exact time that we are supposed to read them and The Girl at the Window is one of those books. It is simply stunning and what an introduction to Rowan Coleman’s writing!

The Girl at the Window is a hauntingly beautiful story about love and hope. When Trudy Heaton’s husband goes missing, she returns to her family home, Ponden Hall, with son Will in tow. As Trudy becomes reacquainted with her mother and the Hall, both the house and its surroundings start to offer up some of their secrets. 

The book is divided into six Parts, each part introduced by an Emily Bronte poem. It moves between present day, Trudy and her husband Abe’s story and the historical story. Each story is so intricately and delicately woven together, they flow seamlessly. If I’d had the time, I could have easily read The Girl at the Window in one sitting. It is captivating! Rowan Coleman’s love of the Bronte’s really shines through in this book too and Emily Bronte is living within its pages.

Rowan Coleman’s writing has a gentle, softly spoken nature to it – one I’ve not experienced before. It’s tender almost, holding your hand as you travel Trudy’s journey with her. It’s sensitive to all of the characters stories, both past and present. 

Whilst immersed in this story, I laughed, I cried, my heart pounded several times, but most all, I loved. The Girl at the Window really does have the whole package. It is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. I highly recommend it!

~ Where to find The Girl at the Window ~

The Girl at the Window was published by Ebury Press, first as eBook on 27 June 2019 and will be published in Paperback on 8th August 2019. You can buy it in all good bookshops and on Amazon UK. It is also on Goodreads.

~ About Rowan Coleman ~

Rowan Coleman

Rowan Coleman lives with her husband and their five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire. She juggles writing novels with raising her family. Rowan’s last novel, The Summer of Impossible Things , was selected for Zoe Ball’s ITV Book Club. Rowan has an everlasting love for the Brontes, and is a regular visitor of Ponden Hall.

W: www.rowancoleman.com ~ T: @rowancoleman ~ F: @rowancolemanauthor ~ I: @rowanmcoleman

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