#BlogTour MISS GRAHAM’S COLD WAR COOKBOOK by CELIA REES #BookReview #RandomThingsTour @CeliaRees @HarperFiction #MissGrahamsColdWarCookBook

ABOUT THE BOOK

A beautifully crafted and gripping novel about loss, betrayal and female friendship

An ordinary woman. A book of recipes. The perfect cover for spying…

 Sent to Germany in the chaotic aftermath of World War II, Edith Graham is finally getting the chance to do her bit. Having taught at a girls’ school during the conflict, she leaps at the opportunity to escape an ordinary life – but Edith is not everything she seems to be. Under the guise of her innocent cover story, Edith has been recruited to root out Nazis who are trying to escape prosecution. Secretly, she is sending coding messages back to the UK, hidden inside innocuous recipes sent to a friend – after all, who would expect notes on sauerkraut to contain the clues that would crack a criminal underground network? But the closer she gets to the truth, the muddier the line becomes between good and evil. In a dangerous world of shifting loyalties, when the enemy wears the face of a friend, who do you trust? 

PUBLISHED BY HARPER FICTION

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Celia Rees was born in Solihull, West Midlands, UK. She studied History and Politics at Warwick University and has a master’s degree from Birmingham University. She taught English in city comprehensive schools for seventeen years before beginning her writing career. She is the author of over twenty acclaimed books for young adults and has won various prizes both in Britain and abroad. Her work has been translated into twenty-eight languages. Celia lives in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, with her husband. Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook is her first adult novel.

MY REVIEW

This is a thoroughly absorbing post World War 2 novel, that features brilliantly the brave work undertaken by many civilians who wanted to do their bit, and who ended up getting involved in far more serious work while they were in Europe.

And in Miss Graham we have a character who goes from teaching in England to wanting to help the children in Germany by overseeing the efforts to re-open schools and educate the children.  She is flagged up as a person of interest to undertake another role why she is there, and she has a brilliant way of sending coded messages back that will escape the attention of those censoring the mail.

The other women she works with become good friends, and I really loved their bond and just their absolute bravery in putting themselves forward to do this work in the first place, knowing that if they ever got caught it wouldn’t end well.

There’s so many twists and turns along the way as Edith spends her time building up relationships with the children she works with, along with wondering who to trust with the many people she meets.  And the grim sights she witnesses really brings home the reality of war and how people were left living and having to just get on with life the best they could.

I  did struggle at times to connect with Edith as a character as she sometimes came across so mechanical and straight laced, but then I guess she had to be that way when dealing with what she was facing.  This wasn’t a time to be very emotional or to lose your head.  

What really got to me though was the stories of the brutality and horrors that people recounted to the women so they could get a real sense of what the War meant for those still living – surrounded by memories, grieving for loved ones and doing what they could to survive.  It was  a thoroughly sobering yet inspiring read that paid tribute to many acts of selfless acts of bravery by those trying to bring those who committed atrocities to rights. Highly recommended.

★★★★

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#BlogTour THE LADY OF THE RAVENS by JOANNA HICKSON #BookReview #LadyOfTheRavens @HarperFiction @joannahickson

Hugely delighted to be the latest stop on the wonderful Blog Tour for THE LADY OF THE RAVENS by JOANNA HICKSON.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of  Random Things Tours for allowing me to be part of it all and sharing my thoughts!

JOANNA HICKSON 

9th January 2020 | Hardback | Ebook | Audio | £14.99 

Praise for Joanna Hickson: 

‘A great tale… the golden thread that led to the crown of England’  

Conn Iggulden 

‘An intriguing tale, told with confidence’ The Times 

‘Rich and warm’ Sunday Express 

 ‘Bewitching…alive with historical detail’ Good Housekeeping 

My baptismal name may be Giovanna but here in my mother’s adopted country I have become plain Joan; I am not pink-cheeked and golden-haired like the beauties they admire. I have olive skin and dark features – black brows over ebony eyes and hair the colour of a raven’s wing… 

When Joan Vaux is sent to live in the shadow of the Tower of London, she must learn to navigate the treacherous waters of this new England under the Tudors. Like the ravens, Joan must use her eyes and her senses, if Henry and his new dynasty are to prosper and thrive … 

PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON

hive.co.uk

Goldsboro Books – signed first edition

About the author: 

Joanna Hickson spent twenty-five years presenting and producing News and Arts programmes for the BBC. Her first published book was a children’s historical novel Rebellion at Orford Castle but more recently she has turned to adult fiction, concentrating on bringing fifteenth century English history and some of its fascinating principal characters to life. She is married with a large family and gets inspiration from her Wiltshire farmhouse home, which dates back to her chosen period.  

MY REVIEW

This is the first book I’ve read from this author and I’m already itching to read her other historical offerings, as I found this to be both absorbing and informative and loved finding out even more about the Tudor period and the characters surrounding the court of King Henry VII’s.   And with the story of Joan being so captivating and full of material, I was instantly transported back as this story takes us chronologically through the goings on at a very interesting period of history.

Joan becomes a lady in waiting to Elizabeth, Henry’s Queen, and seeing the world at that time through both their eyes was fascinating.  Joan is adamant she wants more from life than just to be a mother, where that is all that Elizabeth expects her role to be! Her King needs heirs.  Seeing the expectations placed on women at that time is really brought home in an easy and accessible way through this storyline, and with all the royal goings on in the news at the moment, it is still shocking to see that in the past it was all decided  politically and by others – where does love get you anyway?!

I loved how the characters around the royals related the story – the gossiping while they worked, the clothing they wore and how much work went into preparing the clothing for the big events such as the wedding.  

The expectations on Joan to marry were difficult for her and it seemed in the end that she married to stay close to the Tower and the ravens who she had such a fascination and respect for.  The way she dealt with being a stepmother means she’s thrown in at the deep end, but she seemed to be one of those women who were wise beyond her years and could cope with pretty much anything that was thrown her way. Her one big fear though was pregnancy and it was enlightening to see the ways she tried to avoid that event happening to her!

Another aspect of the story I loved was discovering different palaces that are now long gone – when they were mentioned by name I found myself researching them online and it opened up more interest for me on this time of history. Why was it never this fascinating to me when I was at school?!

Seeing the story from both Joan and Elizabeth’s point of view, made this for such an entertaining historical read and I’m glad to have found a new author to me who does a wonderful job of sharing her passion for history through relatable and fascinating characters. Highly recommended.

★★★★