BookReview A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE FOR THE RAILWAY GIRLS by MAISIE THOMAS

ABOUT THE BOOK

The sixth heartwarming, feel-good instalment in the much-loved Railway Girls series!

Manchester, 1942. There are surprises in store for the railway girls this festive season…

When Cordelia’s daughter Emily falls for a young chap who doesn’t meet the approval of her father, Cordelia is reminded of her own first love – a love that she has never forgotten.

Mabel is determined to get to the bottom of a spate of local burglaries. Her heart is in the right place as she sets out on a quest to clear her friend’s name, but there will be unforeseen consequences.

It’s nothing short of a miracle when Colette returns to Manchester. But it’s not going to be easy for her to keep living the life she once knew, and an impossible situation lies ahead.

There will be more than one storm for the railway girls to weather but with the friendship and support of one another, there’s hope that all will be well by Christmas…

PURCHASE LINK

AMAZON

MY REVIEW

Book 6 in the Railway Girls series and another sparkling installment that transports the reader back to Manchester during the War, and lets you catch up with the goings on of the wonderful Railway girls.

It’s always so nice to catch up with these characters through the good and the bad times that they experience. Their jobs around the Railways have given them strength and independance, but real life is still going on and that doesn’t always bring happiness their way. This is a story exploring young love, and dangerous old loves and seeing how the women cope during changing times.

These books really bring home to you the madness of the time – life carrying on as normal, but within seconds it can change and devastation and despair can often be round the corner. I loved seeing how they are there for one another and that you never can know what’s going on behind closed doors and it takes a lot sometimes to open up to people. The attitudes of the time are also explored, particularly relating to domestic abuse, and it opens your eyes to how ‘blind’ they were back home to the events going on around the world, compared to the way the news is 24/7 now in our world, it would take them a while to discover what was happening, especially concerning family members fighting.

I couldn’t put this book down until I’d found out what had happened to the characters and I’m already counting down the days until Book 7 is released in April 2023!! Brilliant!!

★★★★★

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BookReview THE 6:20 MAN by DAVID BALDACCI #The620Man

ABOUT THE BOOK

Every day without fail, Travis Devine puts on a cheap suit, grabs his faux-leather briefcase, and boards the 6:20 commuter train to Manhattan, where he works as an entry-level analyst at the city’s most prestigious investment firm. In the mornings, he gazes out the train window at the lavish homes of the uberwealthy, dreaming about joining their ranks. In the evenings, he listens to the fiscal news on his phone, already preparing for the next grueling day in the cutthroat realm of finance.

Then one morning Devine’s tedious routine is shattered by an anonymous email: She is dead.

Sara Ewes, Devine’s coworker and former girlfriend, has been found hanging in a storage room of his office building—presumably a suicide, prompting the NYPD to come calling on him. If that wasn’t enough, Devine receives another ominous visit, a confrontation that threatens to dredge up grim secrets from his past in the Army unless he participates in a clandestine investigation into his firm.

This treacherous role will take Travis from the impossibly glittering lives he once saw only through a train window, to the darkest corners of the country’s economic halls of power…where something rotten lurks. And apart from this high-stakes conspiracy, there’s a killer out there with their own agenda, and Devine is the bullseye.

PUBLISHER – MACMILLAN

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

Seems to be a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire in this book for the character Travis Devine. And what a hell of a ride the author takes you on in this fast paced story from the King of the thrillers!

Having served in Afghanistan and Iraq, you’d think Travis would be set for a quieter life in the world of high finance but nothing could be farther from the truth. From the things he sees on his daily commute on the 6:20 to the death of a very close colleague, it all leads him into a world of dodgy dealings and a group of very ruthless people who won’t let anyone get in their way.

When he becomes one of the main suspects for the murder of Sarah, he has to get investigating to clear his name and that leads him to meet people you don’t want to be messing with. And then the body count starts mounting up so he’s really up against it!

I loved the slow start which soon ramped up to fast paced action and the guessing games kept me hooked throughout working out who was behind it all. This was an exciting, dark and twisty thriller and shows the author at his plotting best!

★★★★

My thanks to Laura Sherlock for the advanced reader copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.

BookReview THE BONE FLOWER by CHARLES LAMBERT

ABOUT THE BOOK

On a November evening in Victorian London, the moneyed but listless Edward Monteith stokes the fire at his local gentlemen’s club, listening to stories of supernatural experiences and theories of life after death. His curiosity leads him to a séance, where he falls under the spell of a beautiful flower seller. But Victorian society does not look kindly on love between a gentleman of means and a Romani girl, and when he faces being cut off by his family, Edward makes a decision with horrifying consequences.

Two years later Edward is married and anticipating the birth of his first child, in a beautiful house lined with orange blossom trees. But the wrongs of the past are not so easily forgotten, and the boundary between the living and the dead begins to thin… A deliciously chilling Gothic novel, The Bone Flower is a deeply human story about guilt, betrayal and the cruelty of social expectations.

A dark, uncanny love story from the author of Polari prize-shortlisted Prodigal and The Children’s Home, The Bone Flower will delight fans of Edward Carey and Essie Fox.

PUBLISHED BY GALLIC BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK

Publisher Website

 MY REVIEW

It’s the season to read a spooky story, and this has it in spades!! I loved being chilled by this gothic story of darkness, love and ghostly goings on!

Edward is going nowhere in life, or love, but a chance meeting with a flower seller sets him on a path of discovery and obsession with the mysterious Settie, but fears that their difference in class will keep them apart, where it’s his actions ultimately that ends their dalliance in tragic circumstances.

He goes off travelling and brings home a new young bride, and this is where the darkness begins as he hears things and strange happenings occur. I loved how the character of Edward was portrayed and the impact of his actions never let him settle. This book was highly atmostpheric, and really gives you the chills!! Highly recommended!!

★★★★

BlogTour EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK by IAIN HOOD @renardpress @iain_hood #BookReview

Delighted to be joining you today as part of the Blog Tour for the fabulous EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK by IAIN HOOD.

My thanks to the author and publisher for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

Every Trick in the Book

Iain Hood

There’s only control, control of ourselves and others. And you have to decide what part you play in that control.

Cast your eye over the comfortable north London home of a family of high ideals, radical politics and compassionate feelings. Julia, Paul and their two daughters, Olivia and Sophie, look to a better society, one they can effect through ORGAN:EYES, the campaigning group they fundraise for and march with, supporting various good causes.

But is it all too good to be true? When the surface has been scratched and Paul’s identity comes under the scrutiny of the press, a journey into the heart of the family begins. Who are these characters really? Are any of them the ‘real’ them at all? Every Trick in the Book is a genre-deconstructing novel that explodes the police procedural and undercover-cop story with nouveau romanish glee. Hood overturns the stone of our surveillance society to show what really lies beneath.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Iain Hood was born in Glasgow and grew up in the seaside town of Ayr. He attended the University of Glasgow and Jordanhill College, and later worked in education in Glasgow and the west country. He attended the University of Manchester after moving to Cambridge, where he continues to live with his wife and daughter. His first novel, This Good Book, was published in 2021.

MY REVIEW

The phrase ‘appearances can be deceptive’ comes straight to mind after reading this book and it was another fabulous reading experience thanks to the author – if you’ve not picked up his previous book, This Good Book, then go grab that as well as you won’t be disappointed!  

It’s so difficult to pin this book down to any one particular genre, and it’s one of those story that resonates so clearly with the times we are living in, where all that glitters is not gold!  We are fed images of people with the perfect lives, believing the  perception of their happiness, but in Every Trick of the Book we see that sometimes people aren’t who they say they are, and their hidden lives are much darker and this book approaches that with humour and a bit of snark, and I loved it!  It doesn’t shirk away from poking fun at everybody – right, left, media, police, celebs – and shows it all up for the hypocrisy that is often displays!

At the heart of the story are a ‘normal’ family living a very comfortable life, on the surface, following the latest causes, and then a journalist starts digging and uncovers some uncomfortable truths about their real identities, and that’s where the fun and mayhem begins!

There’s always that mystery about what is being hidden,and why,  and that kept me turning the pages faster and faster to find out, and the redacted passages just add to the confusion and head scratching!  This is a smart book and one that makes you think, makes you laugh and makes you feel that we’re all just going through life just trying to make sense of it all!  And even when we think we’ve got it figured out, we’re often far from the mark!!

This, for me, was one of those books that makes you want to re-read it almost immediately so you can pick up on those hidden messages you may have missed first time round!   A book that ticks every box for me entertainment wise, and as for Who Do I Trust?! Absolutely nobody!!

★★★★★

20BooksOfSummer2022 SWIMMING HOME by MARY-ROSE MACCOLL #BookReview

ABOUT THE BOOK

From the author of the international bestseller In Falling Snow. In 1925, a young woman swimmer will defy the odds to swim the English Channel–a chance to make history.

London 1925: Fifteen-year-old Catherine Quick longs to feel once more the warm waters of her home, to strike out into the ocean off the Torres Strait Islands in Australia and swim, as she’s done since she was a child. But now, orphaned and living with her aunt Louisa in London, Catherine feels that everything she values has been stripped away from her.

Louisa, a London surgeon who fought boldly for equality for women, holds strict views on the behavior of her young niece. She wants Catherine to pursue an education, just as she herself did. Catherine is rebellious, and Louisa finds it difficult to block painful memories from her past. It takes the enigmatic American banker Manfred Lear Black to convince Louisa to bring Catherine to New York where Catherine can train to become the first woman to swim the English Channel. And finally, Louisa begins to listen to what her own heart tells her.

PUBLISHED BY PENGUIN

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

This is book 20 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022.

An enjoyable historical fiction story that held my interest throughout, although my patience did wear a little thin at times with all the lies that were revealed!

Set in the 1920’s it’s a story about female characters – Louisa, is a successful woman, setting up her own surgery as a surgeon and championing the rights of women which to her means forgoing personal relationships. Meanwhile on the other side of the world, her niece Catherine is 15 and her only passion is swimming. She lives with her father, after losing her mother when young and has very little memory of her.

Louisa finds herself going to Australia to help her brother raise Catherine and the clash between them is quite stark at times. Catherine is very settled with the housekeeper, and this adds an element of racism to the story as Catherine is unable to stay wth Florence who is black, and that just doesn’t sit well with many. So Catherine has to move to London with Louisa and the clashes between stubborn women intensify!

I loved the characters in this story as they both had very interesting stories to tell, especially Catherine who loses herself in a quest to swim the Channel and to challenge authority. And then the big plot twists and shocks begin to drop and changes the background to the story! I shall say no more but it made for a really interesting read.

★★★

20BooksOfSummer2022 THE SECRET TO NOT DROWNING by COLETTE SNOWDEN #BookReview

ABOUT THE BOOK

How did a girl who dreamed of being a Charlie’s Angel become such a cowed and submissive woman? On the surface Marion’s life seems fine, but she is controlled and bullied by her husband; her only ‘freedom’ is a weekly visit to the swimming baths. When a chance meeting with an old school-mate develops into a secret friendship, Marion is reminded of the person she used to be. And might still be, if she leaves her domineering husband. But is it too late?

published by Bluemoose

PURCHASE LINK


Publisher Website

MY REVIEW

This is Book 19 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022

Some books just stop you in your track with their subject and intensity – and that is exactly what this one did to me! I couldn’t focus on anything else while reading it and felt so many emotions (mostly outrage and deep anger!) at the plight of Marion.

From the stark opening of the agony of losing a baby, to the terrors she felt on a daily basis under the control of her husband, there is an immediate connection as a reader to Marion. She keeps it together on the outside, but her inner thoughts give way to that fear of doing the wrong thing, upsetting the status quo, or even him just waking up on the wrong side of the bed to attack and belittle her – while he puts on the show of being the perfect husband … well, he does buy her flowers every week so that makes him a keeper eh…… he is an absolute a***hole and one of those narcissistic characters that make everything about him… no matter what.

She finds peace and sanctity at the local swimming pool, it gives her freedom and a chance to think back over how she used to be. And then a meeting with an old schoolfriend is another way she can start to find herself again, remembering the girl/woman she used to be before being controlled. She finds it very easy to give advice to others but never so easy to follow her own advice.

This was a shocking read at times, the level of psychological abuse from him was just next level nastiness, and I found myself just willing her to take back that control and find a way out.

It had that gripping feeling of claustrophobia as she was terrified of upsetting him, and wondering when will he next explode, and as a reader you find yourself holding your breath as you read waiting to see just how cruel he will be next…. and will that be the time she finds herself. A brilliant read – highly recommended.

★★★★★

20BooksOfSummer2022 Triple Review Catch up!! #BookReviews


Anyone else reading/reviewing like a crazy person at the moment so they can complete their #20BOOKSOFSUMMER2022 challenge??!! Just me then LOL!! I will not be defeated and if that means giving up on sleep then so be it haha!! 

So here’s a catch up of 3 recent reviews I’ve just completed… .before I attack the next batch LOL!

WE ARE ANIMALS by TIM EWINS  – 5 STARS

This is book 14 of my 20 books of summer 2022.

This was a joy to read! One of those books that gets the balance between emotion and humour just perfect and full of characters that you instantly find yourself connecting with, however quirky they may be!!

(Man)Jan is waiting on a beach in Goa, and has been visiting there for 5 years hoping to reconnect with the love of his life (Lady)Jan. Already you get the sense of a deep connection that they shared and wondering why they lost touch. And that is where Shakey comes in, a young man on a gap year, who finds this character on a beach fascinating and wants to know more about him. And so (Man)Jan begins to share his story and your own journey begins as he looks back and shares those moments we can all relate to – the missed moments, human connection, fate intervening and taking you on a different path – and the poignant connection throughout with animals.

I loved the quirky humour and the wonderful little observations littered throughout the story. It connected the 2 generations with that feeling of finding yourself as you adventure through life. The family relationships were also touching to read too – beware it’s a book that makes you laugh and cry! Or maybe that’s just me being a softie!!

Do yourself a favour and grab a copy of this book!!!

TULIP FEVER by DEBORAH MOGGACH – 3 STARS

This is Book 15 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022.

An enjoyable historical read of romance and deception, with a clever inclusion of artwork from the times in colour which added a bit of depth and context of the styles of painting at the time.

17th Century Amsterdam is where the story is set and the country is gripped by Tulip mania, which means there’s money to be made. Sophia is married to the very wealthy, and much older, Cornelius and he is the kind of character who wants to show off his wealth, and one way is to commission a painting to preserve him and his family on canvas. So he hires Jan, and the trouble begins! Sophia finds herself spending more time with the artist than her husband.

Maria is the maid for Sophia and Cornelius and her story is included too which worked really well within the story. How her own struggles and issues became central to the story, and you get the sense that karma has a big part to play for some characters!

This was a quick and easy to read historical story – I would have loved more about the tulip mania!

STEALING ROSES by HEATHER COOPER – 4 STARS

This is Book 16 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022.

A slow paced but wonderful little read, centring around Eveline who is not playing ball with her mother, and societies, wishes for a young woman in 1862! Her mother wants to marry her off, as is the normal way of life at the time, but Eveline doesn’t want to settle for marriage and motherhood and feels stifled by the restrictions placed upon her.

An interest in photography and an objection to the new local railway are her path to make her voice heard and sets her on a new path that is looked down upon by many. How improper to take a walk with a man, especially while hatless!! The horror haha!

I enjoyed the historical aspect of this story, along with the setting of the Isle of Wight. The restrictions placed on women were also fascinating and the growth of Eveline as she tried to change the opinion of others was also really interesting and eye opening. Especially the changing behaviour of certain characters who behave one way in public and then show a real dark side to their personality.

20BookOfSummer2022 THE EIGHTH GIRL by MAXINE MEI-FUNG CHUNG #BookReview

ABOUT THE BOOK

One woman, multiple personas.

But which one is telling the truth?

Beautiful. Damaged. Destructive. Meet Alexa Wú, a brilliant yet darkly self-aware young woman whose chaotic life is manipulated and controlled by a series of alternate personalities. Only three people know about their existence: her shrink Daniel; her stepmother Anna; and her enigmatic best friend Ella. The perfect trio of trust.

When Ella gets a job at a high-end gentleman’s club, she catches the attention of its shark-like owner and is gradually drawn into his inner circle. As Alexa’s world becomes intimately entangled with Ella’s, she soon finds herself the unwitting keeper of a nightmarish secret. With no one to turn to and lives at stake, she follows Ella into London’s cruel underbelly on a daring rescue mission. Threatened and vulnerable, Alexa will discover whether her multiple personalities are her greatest asset, or her most dangerous obstacle.

Electrifying and breathlessly compulsive, The Eighth Girl is an omnivorous examination of life with mental illness and the acute trauma of life in a misogynist world. With bingeable prose and a clinician’s expertise, Chung’s psychological debut deftly navigates the swirling confluence of identity, innocence, and the impossible fracturing weights that young women are forced to carry, causing us to question: Does the truth lead to self-discovery, or self-destruction?

PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM MORROW

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

This is book 12 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022

Dark. Intoxicating. Twisty. Gripping. …. blooming brilliant!! Fair to say that I loved this one and it was one of those stories that just kept me sat on my chair for ages at a time, often holding my breath wondering where the plots would take me next!! And they often took me to very dark places through the character of Alexa, and I loved every single minute of it!

Alexa has multiple personalities – I was a little worried how this would play out as a story, but the author has done a brilliant job of mixing them all so well, and allowing each ‘personality’ to share little glimpses into their world, while Alexa gets on with her often complicated life. And what a story she has to tell! When her best friend gets in trouble she finds herself going along for the ride, and the world she finds herself involved in is a very dark and scary place, involving the trafficking of young girls and sex work.

And we also get the POV of Daniel, her therapist, who is dealing with his own issues and watching her open up to him is very revealing and allows us to see the start of her problems from a very abusive childhood and constantly looking for ‘love’ and approval from people as she missed out on that. The world she finds herself becoming trapped in is full of other young girls who seem to be searching out for that too and it’s sad to see them mistaking sex for love, and the promise of security and money.

The twists and turns are perfectly played out and they got me good!! I always love a story that shocks and surprises and that is exactly what this did to me! A brilliant book that I cannot recommend highly enough!!

★★★★★

20BooksOfSummer2022 THE CHAMELEON by SAMUEL FISHER #BookReview

ABOUT THE BOOK

John is infinite.

He can become any book, any combination of words — every thought, act and expression that has ever been, or ever will be, written. Now 800 years old, John wants to tell his story.

Looking back over his life, from its beginnings with a medieval anchoress to his current lodgings beside the deathbed of a cold war spy, John pieces together his tale: the love that held him together and, in particular, the reasons for a murder that took place in Moscow fifty years earlier, and that set in train a shattering series of events.

Samuel Fisher’s debut, The Chameleon is a love story about books like no other, weaving texts and lives in a family tale that leads the reader into an extraordinary historical journey, a journey of words as much as of places, and a gripping romance.

PUBLISHED BY SALT

PURCHASE LINK

Publisher Website

MY REVIEW

Imagine if your books could talk! What they could say about us as they observe us from their bookshelves! And in this story that’s exactly what happens! ‘John’ is 800 years old and has a story to tell – no strange thing as he’s a book, watching over as time and history happen in front of him. And he’s a very funny narrator and I loved his humour and quips as he recounts various stories, mainly based around Roger who he is currently with. Roger has had a stroke so John is telling his story for him, watching what is going on and interpreting stories that Roger has forgotten as his mind fails him.

It was such a fresh feeling to this story, to have this really interesting perspective. The places and things a ‘book’ witnesses over the years, the situations he finds himself in – he’s even been buried! – and it was a unique reading experience as he recounts the experiences of Roger and how his family evolved from meeting Margery to fatherhood.

It’s often emotional and a really compelling story and one I thoroughly enjoyed – I just hope my books don’t get the idea to share their stories about me with the world!!

★★★★

20BooksOfSummer2022 THE GIRL FROM THE HERMITAGE by MOLLY GARTLAND #BookReview

ABOUT THE BOOK

It is December 1941, and eight-year-old Galina and her friend Katya are caught in the siege of Leningrad, eating soup made of wallpaper, with the occasional luxury of a dead rat. Galina’s artist father Mikhail has been kept away from the front to help save the treasures of the Hermitage. Its cellars could now provide a safe haven, provided Mikhail can navigate the perils of a portrait commission from one of Stalin’s colonels. Nearly 40 years later, Galina herself is a teacher at the Leningrad Art Institute. What ought to be a celebratory weekend at her forest dacha turns sour when she makes an unwelcome discovery. The painting she embarks upon that day will hold a grim significance for the rest of her life, as the old Soviet Union makes way for the new Russia and Galina’s familiar world changes out of all recognition. Warm, wise and utterly enthralling, Molly Gartland’s debut novel guides us from the old communist world, with its obvious terrors and its more surprising comforts, into the glitz and bling of 21st-century St. Petersburg. Galina’s story is at once a compelling page-turner and an insightful meditation on ageing and nostalgia.

PUBLISHED BY LIGHTNING BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK

Publisher Website

MY REVIEW

This is book 11 of my 20 Books of Summer 2022.

This was an often haunting read, as we followed the story of Galina from childhood to late adulthood as she lives through history and the changing face of Russia. It gives a real insight into the way that the country used to run, alongside the promise and downsides to the new promiseland that a new regime brings.

The Battle of Leningrad is where the story starts and Galina and her friend Vera are caught up in it, having to survive on rats and wallpaper soup and the story gives a real sense of how it hit the population. Her father is an artist and sees another side to the War as he’s commissioned to paint for a prominent General. The sacrifices he has to make to keep his family fed are starkly brought to life.

We then follow Galina over the years as she begins her own working life, motherhood and seeing how she fares when faced with ‘wealth’ considering how she grew up. She sees the good and bad in the new ways of life, that many can’t understand.

This is a story based on a painting that the author bought which got her thinking about the life of the artist, and this story is a powerful tale and one that has opened my eyes to the horrors that many lived through.

★★★★