#BookReview THE SECRET MESSENGER by MANDY ROBOTHAM

ABOUT THE BOOK

Set between German-occupied 1940s Venice and modern-day London, this is a fascinating tale of the bravery of everyday women in the darkest corners of WWII, for readers of Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network and Pam Jenoff’s The Lost Girls of Paris.

Venice, 1943

The world is at war, and Stella Jilani is leading a double life. By day she works in the lion’s den as a typist for the Reich office; by night, she risks her life as a messenger for the Italian resistance. Against all odds, Stella must impart Nazi secrets, smuggle essential supplies across the city, and produce an underground newspaper on her beloved typewriter.

But when German commander, General Breugal, becomes suspicious, it seems he will stop at nothing to find the mole, and Stella knows she faces an uncertain future…

London, 2017

Years later, grieving Luisa Belmont finds a mysterious old typewriter in her attic. Determined to find out who it belonged to, Luisa delves into the past, and uncovers a story of fierce love, unimaginable sacrifice, and, ultimately, the worst kind of betrayal…

published by Avon

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW


An engrossing piece of historical fiction that really brings home the untold stories of those who lived during WWII and the brave and selfless acts that many went through to do all the could to ‘fight the good fight’ whilst putting themselves in danger, and the importance of sharing those stories so that future generations can understand what happened.

It’s a dual timeline story, so we see the story from the point of view of Luisa in London in 2017 as she is dealing with the grief of losing her mother, and sorting through all her personal possessions and finding out the significance of certain pieces she finds, especially a portable typewriter.

And we see the story of Stella, in Venice in 1943, and her remarkable story of how as a young woman she is helping the resistance, whilst living and working amongst the Nazi’s who have taken over Venice. She gets a role as a typist of the Reich during the day, but at night she delivers messages for the resistance and writes articles for a newspaper. Seeing her struggle with keeping her double life quiet from those around her was a real eye opener, and as a young woman her only aim is to do the right thing and keep those she loves safe. It was fascinating to see how the war affected those who lived and worked in Venice at the time – with soldiers patrolling the streets liable to ask you questions or search your belongings at everytime, so the importance of safe houses was paramount to those working to get messages out.

The storyline of Stella was obviously far stronger and the more captivating, but I did like the role Luisa played in bringing things together and how the research into her family history helped distract her mind from the grief she was suffering, and that she wished she’d known more whilst her relatives were still alive. I hadn’t given much thought to what it must have been like for those in Venice at the time living under Nazi rule, and there were some horrific acts that were committed on innocent people that really brought home how awful it must have been for everyone at the time. Not knowing who to trust and trying to get on normally with your day to day business, whilst fearing what was going to happen next must have taken its’ toll on everyone. But Stella was always determined to keep on putting herself in danger to keep doing what she could and is a really inspirational character.

An excellent historical story


★★★★

#BookReview The Botanist’s Daughter by Kayte Nunn

ABOUT THE BOOK

Discovery. Desire. Deception. A wondrously imagined tale of two female botanists, separated by more than a century, in a race to discover a life-saving flower . . .

In Victorian England, headstrong adventuress Elizabeth takes up her late father’s quest for a rare, miraculous plant. She faces a perilous sea voyage, unforeseen dangers and treachery that threatens her entire family.

In present-day Australia, Anna finds a mysterious metal box containing a sketchbook of dazzling watercolours, a photograph inscribed ‘Spring 1886’ and a small bag of seeds. It sets her on a path far from her safe, carefully ordered life, and on a journey that will force her to face her own demons.

In this spellbinding botanical odyssey of discovery, desire and deception, Kayte Nunn has so exquisitely researched nineteenth-century Cornwall and Chile you can almost smell the fragrance of the flowers, the touch of the flora on your fingertips . . .

Published by Hachette

PURCHASE LINKS

hive.co.uk  £7.89

whsmith  £8.72

Bert’s Books  £8.99

MY REVIEW

An historical, dual time-line story about gardening and romance?! Yes please!! And I loved every minute of it and has made me want to set off on my own plant hunting adventures – but maybe with less danger involved!!

In the present timeline, Anna is a gardener who is currently overseeing the renovation of her beloved grandmothers’s house that she has been left, and when the builder start knocking walls down they uncover a box hidden in the walls. Anna and her family know nothing about this box and when she discovers what is inside she is intrigued to discover more.

Back in 1886, Elizabeth Trebithick is living at Trebithick Hall with her beloved father and sister. She has inherited her fathers’ need for exploring – he’s a plant hunter and is often away -and she wishes she could escape too. He shares his dreams with her of plants he aims to find and makes her promise him that she’ll carry on his work for him. She’s not one to be stopped and kept at home, as was expected of women back then, so she soon sets off with her maid to the other side of the world to hunt out a very rare and dangerous plant. Being seasick isn’t the best start for her journey though!

The 2 timelines work brilliantly with one another – as Anna delves further into the origin of the paintings she finds, along with reading the diary that was also hidden away she is drawn into the need to explore and finds herself travelling to Cornwall to see what more she can find out about this family she knows little about. 

And as Elizabeth settles into her new life, her head is soon turned by a local guide who seems to share her interest and passion for plants, but with a rival plant hunter also on the scene, she is unsure whether she can trust her guide with the real reason she is out there, other than painting the different plants she sees.

I loved the characters in both timelines of this book – both women weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and do whatever became necessary to achieve their tasks! Be it uncovering a rare plant, or putting the pieces together in a mystery puzzle and discovering who hid the box in a wall and why. It really gave a great insight into just how precarious plant hunting was, but so rewarding when a new plant was found, or local knowledge helped you learn something new about a plant.

Really enjoyable and easy to read and I’ll definitely be reading more from this author in the future!

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#BookReview #20booksofsummer The Garden Of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans

Back on track with my 20 Books of Summer List! And Book 5 has now been read and reviewed!!  Can I keep this pace up?! Of course not, but I’m enjoying being so productive while I can!!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and Found days before his sudden death.

Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted ‘The Garden of Lost and Found’, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.

One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…

When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.

Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?

Published by Headline Review

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon   £11.81

hive.co.uk  £12.99

whsmith  £11.89

Bert’s Books  £16.99 – sigend edition

MY REVIEW

A dramatic opening starts this book off with a bang and I was just totally captivated from the first page to the last with the events set over a dual timeline, relating to the painting of The Garden of Lost and Found, alongside the family history and drama of Nightingale House. The author has a wonderful way of capturing the day to day lives of people in various periods in history, mixed with the added mystery of secrets hidden behind closed doors that just makes you want to read more!!

Set in 1893 and 2014 this story follows the story of 2 families an their not so happy lives! In the 2014 timeline we follow Juliet who is married with children, but her husband seems to have form of playing away from home and she finally reaches breaking point and a legacy from the past leaves her with a way of breaking free from the marriage and starting over – albeit in a crumbling house that had sad memories for her family in the past. Her children aren’t so keen on the move and add to the stress she is under, but she is pretty determined to move on with her life and find the happiness she feels they all deserve.

In 1893 we follow the story of Liddy, who marries Ned (Juliet’s great grandfather), an artist, and find themselves moving to Nightingale House, a home she grew up in and despite the good times they shared together there, their time is soon tinged with sadness and pain. When Ned paints his most famous piece ‘The Garden of Lost and Found’ it should mean an end to all their worries, but just seems to add to the misery and he comes to despise his own work.

Juliet starts to learn more about her own family history when she starts working nearby and the more she uncovers the more devastating the revelations become.

I really loved both timelines in this one – I did find Juliet’s more powerful as she dealt with all that she learned about her past, while dealing with her own family problems – and I raced through the 440+ pages. The characters, the settings, the history, the escapism – perfect combinations for such an enjoyable book!

★★★★★

#BookReview A Secret Rose by Kirsty Ferry #publicationday

ABOUT THE BOOK

A fabulous new story from Kirsty Ferry set in Cornwall. Perfect summer reading! 


“Wherever you go, I will follow …” 
Merryn Burton is excited to travel down to Cornwall to start her first big job for the London art dealers she works for. But as soon as she arrives at Pencradoc, a beautiful old mansion, she realises this will be no ordinary commission. 

Not only is Pencradoc filled with fascinating, and possibly valuable artwork, it is also owned by the Penhaligon brothers – and Merryn’s instant connection with Kit Penhaligon could be another reason why her trip suddenly becomes a whole lot more interesting. 

But the longer Merryn stays at Pencradoc the more obvious it is that the house has a secret, and a long-forgotten Rose might just hold the key … 

Published by Choc Lit

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

Kobo

Apple Books

Google Play

Nook

MY REVIEW

An old mansion in Cornwall  full of secrets – a dual timeline – romance – family history… yes, yes, yes!!  Hopefully this is the start of another lovely series to be set in this idyllic setting.

 It’s fair to say I loved spending time in the company of Merryn Burton as she travels to Cornwall and the Pencradoc home recently inherited by the Penhaligon brothers and they are eager to have the art collection appraised by her, and the moment she arrives the deja-vu feelings start and she feels an incredible connection with both the house and Kit Penhaligon – it’s as if they already know one another.

I really do love the dual timelines that Kirsty seems to write with ease – the now timeline works so seamlessly with the jaunts back to the past and the characters of Alys , Jago and Zennor also have an intriguing and thrilling story to tell – can lessons be learnt from the past or will history be repeating itself once more?

There’s so much to be uncovered at Pencradoc that Merryn finds herself unable to leave and move on and it was so atmospheric and easy to follow that I didn’t want to leave either!  Loved the sibling rivalry, the ghosts, the drama and the love stories – it made for the perfect mix for a fabulous read!

★★★★★

#BlogTour The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl #BookReview @rararesources

A huge pleasure to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for THE FORGOTTEN SECRET by KATHLEEN MCGURL.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for letting me be part of it all!

A country at war

It’s the summer of 1919 and Ellen O’Brien has her whole life ahead of her. Young, in love and leaving home for her first job, the future seems full of shining possibility. But war is brewing and before long Ellen and everyone around her are swept up by it. As Ireland is torn apart by the turmoil, Ellen finds herself facing the ultimate test of love and loyalty.

And a long-buried secret

A hundred years later and Clare Farrell has inherited a dilapidated old farmhouse in County Meath. Seizing the chance to escape her unhappy marriage she strikes out on her own for the first time, hoping the old building might also provide clues to her family’s shadowy history. As she sets out to put the place – and herself – back to rights, she stumbles across a long-forgotten hiding place, with a clue to a secret that has lain buried for decades.

For fans of Kate Morton and Gill Paul comes an unforgettable novel about two women fighting for independence.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US

About the Author

KATHLEEN MCGURL lives near the sea in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband and elderly tabby cat. She has two sons who are now grown-up and have left home. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present, and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.

Social Media Links –

 Website: https://kathleenmcgurl.com/

 Twitter: @KathMcGurl https://twitter.com/KathMcGurl

 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KathleenMcGurl/

 Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kathleenmcgurl/

MY REVIEW

Set over two timelines, 2016 and 1919, this absorbing story takes a look back at troubled times in Ireland , alongside a woman taking control of her own life after many years of being controlled by her husband, and finding her own feet again at the age of 50.

In the present timeline, we follow Claire who has been left a Farm in Ireland by an Uncle, which is in dire need of renovation and the thought of that gives her goosebumps! Not so her husband, Paul, who is used to getting his own way and just wants her to sell it so he can invest the money in something else.  Over the years she’d given up going against his wishes for the sake of her two sons, but now they’re grown up and doing their own thing she gets the courage to do what SHE wants for a change and makes the big decision to leave her husband and set out on a new journey in Ireland.

And back in 1919, we follow the story of Ellen who is a young girl living with her Dad with not much money, but sets out on her life journey with a new job and a new romance that  is put to the test early on as Jimmy is determined to join the cause to fight for Irish independence.  Ellen’s new boss is also involved with setting up clandestine meetings and Ellen finds herself passing on messages and doing all she can to avoid being detected by those out to thwart all those plotting against the English.

The two timelines worked so well with each other – we had the historical look back at some very troubling times and got to see how it affected the people living and working in Ireland at the time, and that is set against the backdrop of Claire who is looking to make her own way in life and explore the things she finds on the farm that had been hidden away for many years and to look back at the family history she didn’t hear about.  Some of the revelations are pretty shocking but dealt with in sympathetic ways but left you as a reader feel quite emotional about what went on, and how things were so different back then.

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#BookReview Spring at Taigh Fallon by Kirsty Ferry

About the book

From old secrets come new beginnings … 
When Angel Tempest finds out that her best friend Zac has inherited a Scottish mansion, Taigh Fallon, from his great aunt, she immediately offers to go and visit it with him. It will mean closing up her jet jewellery shop in Whitby for a few days but the prospect of a spring trip to the Scottish Highlands is too tempting. 

Then Kyle, Zac’s estranged and slightly grumpy Canadian cousin, unexpectedly turns up at Taigh Fallon, and events take a strange turn as the long-kept secrets of the old house begin to reveal themselves … 

Part of a series, Tempest Sisters, which can be read in any order.

Published by Choc Lit

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

iTunes

Kobo

Google Play

MY REVIEW

This is Book 2 in the Tempest Sisters series, BUT can be easily read as a standalone, although I can highly recommend Book 1 – Summer At Carrick Park if you’d like to read that first! And in Taigh Fallon we follow the story of Angel Tempest who is a jewellery maker in Whitby, and who loves all things gothic! She is no shrinking violet in her choice of clothes or sharing her opinion and she does a lot of that in this book!

When her best friend Zac learns that he has inherited his the mansion in the Scottish Highlands that used to belong to his Great Aunt, he needs a friend to go with him and who better than Angel! She immediately falls in love with the history and setting of the house, and feels a real connection to the place – more so than Zac! Taigh Fallon has also been left to his Canadian cousin, Kyle, who used to bully Zac when they’d both be in Scotland visiting, but times have moved on and they’re both different people now so it’s interesting to see how that dynamic works – Zac seems much more forgiving than Angel who had heard from Zac about how he’d been treated in the past!  

While they are all there a few strange sights and sounds begin to fill the halls and Angel is both fascinated and a little freaked about the feelings she has. It’s as if Taigh Fallon is trying to share the past with her and I loved the atmospheric setting and flashes back.

The storyline set in 1897 featuring Annis was a fascinating mix and added so much with an intriguing romance and seances and the link to the family history is always a favourite part  of mine in any story.

I loved the whole feeling of this book!  The friendship between Zac and Angel was really touching and her passion in sticking up for her friend against Kyle was admirable, if a little over the top at times! She’s not one who quickly forgives and forgets!! I absolutely raced through this book and really hope there’ll be more in this series as I love the time-slip elements!!

Highly recommended!!

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Watch for me by Candlelight by Kirsty Ferry #BlogTour #BookReview

THE BLURB

Perfect for fans of Susanna Kearsley, Barbara Erskine and Diana Gabaldon. Another gripping atmospheric time-slip from Kirsty Ferry.

“The stars are aligning and it’s time again …”

Working at the Folk Museum in Hartsford village means that Kate Howard is surrounded by all sorts of unusual vintage items. Of course she has her favourites; particularly the Victorian ice skates with a name – ‘CAT’ – mysteriously painted on the sides.
But what Kate doesn’t realise is how much she has in common with Catriona Aphrodite Tredegar, the original owner of the skates, or how their lives will become strangely entwined. All Kate knows is that as soon as she bumps into farrier Theo Kent, things start getting weird: there’s the vivid, disconcerting visions and then of course the overwhelming sense that she’s met Theo before …

Publisher –  Choc Lit

Publication Date – 3rd April 2018

Buying Links

Amazon UK

 
 
 
 

MY REVIEW

A welcome return to Hartsford, in the next installment of the Hartsford Mysteries Series by Kirsty Ferry, and this time we get to enjoy the character of Kate who runs the Hartsford Folk Museum. She loves being surrounded by so much history and has her favourite pieces at the museum, one of which is a pair of victorian ice skates that have the initials CAT on the side of them – the name intrigues her and she soon finds that she becomes a little more tuned into their past with a series of flashbacks.

And when she meets Theo, who is staying at the nearby campsite, she has an extraordinary feeling that she knows him but can’t quite figure out where from.  His presence unsettles her a little as the bond they appear to have is strong despite only fleeting meetings near to the museum.

I love the community feel of the Hartsford series and it’s great to meet up with old ‘friends’ from book one, although this is a story that can still be enjoyed as a stand alone read!  It has a gentle feel to it throughout in an idyllic setting, and the time slip element is crafted so well that it just feels so normal to flit between the dual timelines.

During the flashbacks, we learn more of the character of Catriona and her story of life in a much different time, with her struggles and expectations. And when Will appears in her life it becomes  clear that they are meant for each other, but others don’t agree.

I loved the relationship between Kate and Theo – they don’t rush things and are aware that each other has baggage, but sometimes other forces are at work and they more they try and stay away from each other, the  more the opposite happens!  There are laughs, loves and tragedy

Another fabulous read that had me captivated from start to finish – and any book that features vampire ducks is fine by me! 😉