Blog Tour | Extract from In Love And War - Liz Trenow

Hello Lovely, 

I'm looking forward to sharing today's post with you as it's an extract from the new book by the talented Liz Trenow entitled; In Love and War. It sounds to be an absolutely touching book and I am sure you will enjoy. Due to be published on 25th January, you won't have very long to wait to fully immerse yourself in this touching story. I hope you enjoy the extract once we've taken a brief look at what it's all about. 

In Love and War is written by Liz Trenow, and is due to be published on 25th January 2018 by Pan Macmillan. Available as both Kindle and Paperback and also Audiobook. 

Three women, once enemies. Their secrets will unite them.
The First World War is over. The war-torn area of Flanders near Ypres is no longer home to troops, but groups of tourists. Controversial battlefield tourism now brings hundreds of people to the area, all desperate to witness first-hand where their loved ones fell.
At the Hotel de la Paix in the small village of Hoppestadt, three women arrive, searching for traces of the men they have loved and lost.
Ruby is just twenty-one, a shy Englishwoman looking for the grave of her husband. Alice is only a little older but brimming with confidence; she has travelled all the way from America, convinced her brother is in fact still alive. Then there’s Martha, and her son Otto, who are not all they seem to be . . .

The three women in Liz Trenow’s In Love and War may have very different backgrounds, but they are united in their search for reconciliation: to resolve themselves to what the war took from them, but also to what life might still promise for the future . . .

Passchendaele. The word sliced like a blade. Where Bertie had gone missing. Although she knew that many thousands had never been identified, or even found, she’d heard that comrades would sometimes just place a simple stake in the ground, marking it with whatever came to hand. As the coach trundled onwards, closer and closer to this place, she found herself clasping her fists so tightly that the nails left marks in her palms.

          ‘Although many men gave their lives in this battle,’ the major was explaining, ‘the Germans pushed back and occupied the area until September 1918, when the Belgian army recaptured the ridge in the final push during the last weeks of the war.’
          A tangle of emotions jangled in her head: excitement, anticipation and, above all, fear. Much as she knew that finding Bertie’s grave was important for herself and his family, she could not imagine, now that it was a real possibility, how she would cope with the reality, the finality of discovering where he lay, in the ground beneath her feet.
          They’d seen plenty of roadside crosses and memorial stones on their way to Ypres, but nothing prepared her for the sight of Tyne Cot. As she gazed out at the thousands of wooden crosses stretched higgledy-piggledy across the field, way into the distance almost as far as the eye could see, the breath seemed to stop in her chest. Some were of smooth sanded timber, identified with expertly carved inscriptions or stamped metal plates. With a sick, chill fascination she also noticed that many were simply rough planks hastily hammered together with lettering scratched or burned onto the wood, with garlands of dried flowers tied to them, an identity tag, a belt buckle, an army cap.
          The major led them forwards along a pathway of packed mud into the graveyard. Every now and again he would pause, straightening up a cross carefully and reverently, pushing it more firmly into the ground.
          ‘I know some of you may be looking for the graves of loved ones, and we have an hour now in which you can do so. Please take care of your footing, never stray from the pathways, or touch or take anything from the ground. There is still a danger of unexploded ordnance, or something personal that could lead to an identification.  Either way, you must not touch. Do I make myself clear?’
          Ruby wandered from cross to cross in a kind of trance, barely aware of time passing, reading the inscriptions and willing her eyes to see his name yet at the same time terrified of doing so. There seemed to be no order: officers lay next to infantrymen, regiments were all mixed together, there were French names, Belgian names, English names. All the differences imposed in life had been erased by death.
          Smith, Merton, Bygrave, Freeman, Augustin, Travere, Marchant, Tailler, Brown, Peeters, Dubois, Janssens, Walter, Fellowes, Villeneuve. Perhaps some of these men had known Bertie, stood by his side in the trenches, shared their rations, spoke of their longing for home, for their sweethearts, wives, children? As she stumbled along the rows, gripped by a fierce determination to find her beloved, her eyes began to play tricks. Any name beginning with a B seemed to halt the blood in her veins. When she found a cross with the name Barton inscribed upon it, her knees threatened to buckle beneath her. But it was Michael Peter. Not Bertie.
          If she looked long enough and hard enough she would find him, stand at his grave, tell him she loved him, ask for his forgiveness, and be able to live the rest of her life in peace. She could almost sense the relief of it already. And yet, the further she walked, the more that certainty began to waver. Many crosses bore only the simple inscription R.I.P, Known Unto God or, saddest of all, no mark whatsoever. So many thousands of individual, personal tragedies, so many of them anonymous; a visual representation of mass slaughter.
          Keep breathing, just put one foot in front of another, she told herself. Hollander, Frost, Blundell, Taylor, Kelly, Schofield, Allen, Carter, Meredith, Brown, Pullen, Masters, Wade, Francis, McCauley, Titmuss, Archer . . . the parade of the lost went on and on.
          And then, the worst shock of all, gripping at her heart like a vice: dozens of crosses with German names. Müller, Schulz, Schmidt, Schneider, Fischer, Weber, Becker, Wagner, Hoffmann, Koch, Bauer, Klein, Wolf, Schröder, Neumann, Braun, Zimmermann, Krüger, Hartmann, lying cheek by jowl with their enemies.

Had one of Bertie’s bullets killed the man now lying by his side? Had the shell they fired, shouting ‘For King and Country’, or hailing the Kaiser, blown to pieces the men now their neighbours in death? So many husbands, brothers and sons, all now gone. What an absurdity, such a terrible waste. And all for what? What further evidence could ever be needed of the futility of war? Far from making sense of it all, she was becoming more bewildered by the hour.

To Pre-Order/Purchase Your copy, follow the link below 

Review | Create Your Life Book

Happy New Year Lovely Readers! 

I hope that you are well and are feeling good. 

I know it's New Year's Day but what better day to start as you mean to go on right? In fact today is the absolute PERFECT day for me to tell you all about this fabulously creative book that I just know you are going to LOVE. 

Tamara Laporte is HUGE in the mixed media art world - trust me I don't even do this type of art but I have a beautiful friend who does and I know through her just how BIG the mixed media art world is. Think of the book and blogging community and relate that to art and you have an idea. So from what I know before diving into this book Mixed Media art is literally an art form that is meant to be therapeutic and anything goes. Literally. You take any book ( they can be our books - and by "our books" I mean our novels) or art sketchbook with the right type of paper and you literally create art in them. I know, my fellow bookish lovers the thought of painting, drawing even writing in our precious books causes us to gain a beating heart in need of steadying. But these beautiful artists do it with such love and creativity that you kind of forgive them. A little. 

The book cover shows what Mixed Media Art generally looks like - from what I know of the one circle I was aware of. Let's take a closer look. 

Celebrate and honor your creative potential with Create Your Life Book!

Based on much-loved mixed-media artist Tamara Laporte’s popular, multi-year series of online classes, Create Your Life Book offers mixed-media drawing and painting projects that can raise your awareness of and help you work through personal challenges and other obstacles to creating art and achieving self-fulfillment.

Each themed chapter presents 4 or 5 two-part projects: The first part of each project explores a common issue that hampers creativity and/or positive self-worth, and includes a worksheet or list of questions to be answered; the second part is a step-by-step mixed-media art project that provides a way for artists at all skill levels to contemplate and work through that issue. Also included are projects contributed by some of Tamara’s Life Book guest teachers--Roxanne Coble, Andrea Gomoll, Alena Hennessy, Mystele Kirkeeng, Ivy Newport, and Effy Wild--who are noted mixed-media artists in their own right. Along the way, Tamara shares inspirational photos and uplifting and encouraging affirmations. The final chapter presents a simple binding method for creating a keepsake book of your Life Book projects.

Tamara Laporte created an online art class called Life Book, and it's where you take a theme such as "Gratitude" or "Letting Go" and you create an art piece about all things you're grateful for, or you want to let go and you draw/paint/blend/pastel in your representations of the theme. You can add words (perhaps cut out from books/newspapers/magazines/printed from online/calligraphy by hand etc) to your work to add personal touches. This is where the journalling comes in (I think). 

Anyway, the course proved so popular that Tamara has finally been able to bring us our very own Mixed Media Art class into book form. I was so excited to review this and try out the techniques because having a friend who is so talented at this stuff I have always been in awe of her and her talent. It's no secret that if I could do this art style then I would be so happy. So I had to try. 

The first art project in the book is themed around Letting Go - and I think it's perfect to try and do at some point this month if you can as it's another way of setting goals and intentions for the coming year. 

If you're new to creating Mixed Media Art or any form of art then you might be worried that you will be overwhelmed by it all, but Tamara has written this book with you in mind. She takes you step by step through every piece of the art projects, and includes colour photos of each step to give you an idea of how to do your piece. At the start of the book Tamara talks you through the things you'll need and alternatives. Now, you might feel like it's going to cost you a fortune but again, from my lovely friend, I learnt that you use what you have and build up your art stash slowly. 

Each year since losing my Auntie I've kind have promised myself and my auntie that I will do things that will create memories for me and my friends and family. The first year was Crochet which I still do (and will be blogging more about), last year was lifestyle blogging/instagramming, and 2018 will include all that and more. But I would love to create some Mixed Media Art pieces this year, so watch this space as I've NEVER done any of this type of art before. The most I've ever done is sketching and using pastels. So it will be quite a journey. 

From the moment I opened up this book to review I knew it was going to be an amazing way to start 2018, and I knew I had to buy it for my friend for Christmas. Keeping it a secret from her for over a month was SO hard! I just wanted to scream "Look what i've got you!!!" but I kept quiet. I love this book...  And I know you will too. 

I am awarding this book 5/5 for the creativity, the beautiful layout, the projects and their therapeutic benefits, and the amazing opportunity it gives us to document our lives adding to our life, happiness and legacy. 

You can purchase your copy of Tamara Laporte's Create Your Life Book here  

* Thank you Quarry Books for sending me this book to review, Happy New Year *