#BlogTour The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott #BookReview @SimonschusterUK @CScottBooks #RandomThingsTours #PhotographerOfTheLost

Truly delighted to be the latest stop on this Pre-Publication Blog Tour for this astonishing book and to give you a little taste of what you have to look forward to come publication day in October! 

My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for the early copy of the book and putting this tour together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Until she knows her husband’s fate, she cannot decide her own… An epic novel of forbidden love, loss, and the shattered hearts left behind in the wake of World War I 1921. Families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors of the Great War have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He is considered ‘missing in action’, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph taken by Francis in the post, hope flares. And so she beings to search. Harry, Francis’s brother, fought alongside him. He too longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last things they ever said. Both brothers shared a love of photography and it is that which brings Harry back to the Western Front. 

Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, as he travels through battle-scarred France gathering news for British wives and mothers, Harry also searches for evidence of his brother. And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to a startling truth. An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history, The Photographer of the Lost tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins, and the even greater number of men and women desperate to find them again.

Published by  Simon & Schuster

Publication Date – 31st October 2019

PRE-ORDER LINKS

Amazon UK  £12.99

hive.co.uk  £10.69

WHSMITH  £9.35

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

photo thanks to Johnny Ring

Caroline Scott is a freelance writer and historian specializing in WWI and women’s history. The Photographer of the Lost is partially inspired by her family history.

Twitter @CScottBooks

MY REVIEW

I don’t even know where to begin with my thoughts on this book – other than that I adored every single blooming page!! I found it to be such a stunning read that really captured the atmosphere of the time, the grief shared by so many and the limbo that many families were left feeling after the First World War when their loved ones were missing in action.  At a time when many were celebrating the War being over, many were left with so many unanswered questions with no word on the missing soldiers and they were left clutching to the faint hope that these men were in a French hospital, unable to get in contact with those back home.

It’s the story of brotherhood and the bonds between loved ones with 3 brothers going off to fight in the Great War – Francis, Harry and Will – and the desperate search for Francis after the war by his brother Harry and Francis’s wife Edie who was desperate to know what happened to him – even more so when she receives an envelope containing a photograph of him, 4 years after he’d gone missing. When was it taken? Where was it taken? Who was it from? Was he still alive?

 Harry becomes a ‘photographer of the lost’ on his return, which means he goes back to France often to take photos of gravestones for those back home who want a picture of the final resting place for their loved ones and  the surrounding areas – while there he devotes much of his time to trying to track down the likely places his brother may have gone, and also meets others doing similar searches for their family members.

The story changes effortlessly from the time in France after the War, to the past when the brothers were setting off to war together – their experiences on the front line, their fears, the banter they used to lighten the mood – they were just young boys and you just can’t even begin to imagine the sights they were witness to.  

Edie too sets off to France to try her best to get some answers for herself, and her storyline also looks back on how she and Francis met and how close they all were – she can’t move on until she knows the truth about her husband.

This was often a very sombre and haunting read, but so beautifully descriptive and made you totally understand just how lost people were when they didn’t know what had happened to those who didn’t come back home – they felt restless until they knew and would cling on to the hope that they’d turn up on the doorstep one day.  It brilliantly showed the human aspect of war – on those who went to fight and on those who were left behind waiting for letters and contact.

An outstanding and memorable book. Easily one of my favourite reads of 2019!

★★★★★

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#BookReview The Dragon Lady by Louisa Treger

ABOUT THE BOOK

‘A daring blend of romance, crime and history, and an intelligent  exposé of the inherent injustice and consequences of all forms of oppression’ Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions

Opening with the shooting of Lady Virginia ‘Ginie’ Courtauld in her tranquil garden in 1950s Rhodesia, The Dragon Lady tells Ginie’s extraordinary story, so called for the exotic tattoo snaking up her leg. From the glamorous Italian Riviera before the Great War to the Art Deco glory of Eltham Palace in the thirties, and from the secluded Scottish Highlands to segregated Rhodesia in the fifties, the narrative spans enormous cultural and social change. Lady Virginia Courtauld was a boundary-breaking, colourful and unconventional person who rejected the submissive role women were expected to play.

Ostracised by society for being a foreign divorcée at the time of Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson, Ginie and her second husband ,Stephen Courtauld, leave the confines of post-war Britain to forge a new life in Rhodesia, only to find that being progressive liberals during segregation proves mortally dangerous. Many people had reason to dislike Ginie, but who had reason enough to pull the trigger?

Deeply evocative of time and place, The Dragon Lady subtly blends fact and fiction to paint the portrait of an extraordinary woman in an era of great social and cultural change.

published by Bloomsbury Caravel

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £13.46

hive.co.uk  £12.99

whsmith  £11.89

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born in London, Louisa Treger began her career as a classical violinist. She studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music, and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher.

Louisa subsequently turned to literature, gaining a First Class degree and a PhD in English at University College London, where she focused on early twentieth century women’s writing.

Married with three children, she lives in London.

Author Website

MY REVIEW

A sumptuous and scintillating story that has a wonderful mix of fiction and fact and allows you as a reader to get a fascinating glimpse at the lives of some extraordinary characters set over a number of years.

The Courtaulds did some amazing things in their lifetime so it was so interesting to get this part of their lives looked at more closely, especially the time they spent in Rhodesia and to see the turmoil that was around then – both socially and personally for them to deal with, just because they had a more liberal outlook on the world.

The story starts with Catherine in the 1990’s looking back at the time she first encountered the ‘Dragon Lady’ – a reference to Lady Virginia Courtauld who had become infamous for the rather outlandish tattoo on her leg. Very unbecoming for a lady of that time! But did she care?! Nope!

And with her husband Stephen, Lady Ginie had a life worth reading about! This story looks back at how they met, the standing they took in society, the royalty and famous people they became friends with, and what caused them to end up in Rhodesia in the first place. I loved the ever changing timelines which gave you insights into their lives at different points – so much history to look back on and changes in society for them to have witnessed.

Their time in London before moving abroad, meant time spent rebuilding Eltham Palace and the labour of love that became for them both and I’ve loved looking at things online since, seeing the impact they had on it and just imagining them living there along with their pet lemur!

But the story really comes alive when the author describes their time in Rhodesia – their exotic lifestyle in exquisite surroundings are vividly described and brought to life. How they tried to fit in with the other English families around at the time who stuffy, prejudiced views on the locals, and how the Courtaulds were just so different and were harrassed and threatened for trying to do the right thing and being inclusive. Many people would have crumbled under the provocation but they stayed true to their beliefs in very unpredictable times.

I raced through this book as I just became so wrapped up in the lives of these remarkable people and found the whole story beautifully written and a wonderful piece of historical fiction, mixed with romance and crime! A little bit of something for everyone!!

My thanks to the author for the copy in return for a fair and honest review.

★★★★★

#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 Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes

And she’s back on track again with a book finished from her original list! Well done me!! This was one of the #large books I had on the list – nearly 500 pages – and now means that Book 6 has now been ticked off from the 20 Books of Summer list!! Wahoo!!

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Murder of Harriet Monckton is based on a true story that shocked and fascinated the nation. 

On 7th November 1843, Harriet Monckton, 23 years old and a woman of respectable parentage and religious habits, was found murdered in the privy behind the dissenting chapel she had regularly attended in Bromley, Kent. The community was appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and even more so when the autopsy revealed that Harriet was six months pregnant. 

Drawing on the coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, the novel unfolds from the viewpoints of each of the main characters, each of whom have a reason to want her dead. Harriet Monckton had at least three lovers and several people were suspected of her murder, including her close companion and fellow teacher, Miss Frances Williams. The scandal ripped through the community, the murderer was never found and for years the inhabitants of Bromley slept less soundly. 

This rich, robust novel is full of suggestion and suspicion, with the innocent looking guilty and the guilty hiding behind their piety. It is also a novel that exposes the perilous position of unmarried women, the scandal of sex out of wedlock and the hypocrisy of upstanding, church-going folk.

published by Myriad Editions

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £10.91

hive.co.uk £11.45

whsmith  £10.49

paperback edition due out 18th July 2019

MY REVIEW

Wow! One of those books that just seems to consume you from the first page to the last, and I am just so glad to have spent time getting to know of Harriet Monckton and hearing what might have been.

It’s a story based on a true story – the horrific murder of Harriet shocked those in Bromley at the time – and having it brought to life through this book allows the reader to be horrified too. I loved the inventive way the story was told – through the eyes of the main 4 suspects – and their insight into their relationships with Harriet, their backgrounds and it really gives you different perspectives and I often found myself changing my view on who I thought was more likely to have been involved. 

It builds up slowly from the moment when Harriet goes missing to when her body is found and the reactions of those suspected and closest to her to the terrible news. Their backstories are enthralling in their own right as you really get a grip of what they’ve faced in life and how that reflects in their behaviour now. But the water gets muddier the longer the investigation and inquest goes on as masks begin to slip and I had my suspicions about them all! The inclusion of the ‘ diary’ of Harriet takes the story then to another level as her views on the world she sees around her seemed to be quite different from those we’d already heard from

The voices of the past really do come to life in this book and I just found myself totally caught up in the time in history and the drama. The story is never rushed so the attention to detail was exquisite and it’s one of those books that is going to stay with me for quite a while. 

A tragic story brilliantly told.

★★★★★

#BookReview From The Wreck by Jane Rawson #FromTheWreck

About the book

When George Hills was pulled from the wreck of the steamship Admella, he carried with him memories of a disaster that claimed the lives of almost every other soul on board. Almost every other soul.

Because as he clung onto the wreck, George wasn’t alone: someone else – or something else – kept George warm and bound him to life. Why didn’t he die, as so many others did, half-submerged in the freezing Southern Ocean? And what happened to his fellow survivor, the woman who seemed to vanish into thin air?

George will live out the rest of his life obsessed with finding the answers to these questions. He will marry, father children, but never quite let go of the feeling that something else came out of the ocean that day, something that has been watching him ever since. The question of what this creature might want from him – his life? His first-born? To simply return home? – will pursue him, and call him back to the ocean again.

Blending genres, perspectives and worlds, Jane Rawson’s From the Wreck – winner of the Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel- is a chilling and tender story about how fiercely we cling to life, and how no-one can survive on their own.

Published by Picador

PURCHASE LINKS

hive.co.uk

waterstones

WHSmith

MY REVIEW

Bonkers but enthralling!! My kind of book!! It’s one of those books that you are never really sure where the story is going to take you, but you’ll have fun figuring it all out and making sense of it all while you’re in the heads of these wonderful characters, and just enjoying the pure escapism and emotion of it all – enjoy the ride!

The main character is George and he is reliving his extraordinary encounter with a woman who kept him alive on a shipwreck – and who promptly disappeared afterwards and he can’t shake her from his mind. It affects his day to day life as he tries to track her down as he is convinced there is more to her than meets the eye! It charts his marriage and time as a father and we also get the story from one of his son’s point of view – Henry – who has a rather strange birthmark , and a very strange relationship with it!!

It’s a curious mix of historical fiction and science fiction, but works so well as the Author has great fun and freedom with taking a real life event and adding a totally unique spin on things and playing with the emotions of a man who had survived a traumatic event but was left with so many unanswered questions and just couldn’t settle or appreciate his life until he got the answers he was looking for. The struggles he had with coming to terms with what happened to him was clear to see and the fact that he couldn’t really explain his experience what he went through really added to his trauma and showed just how much he needed to make sense of it all.

A memorable read! 

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#BlogTour The Duke and the Imposter by Michael Stolle #BookReview @Bookollective

Delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour for THE DUKE AND THE IMPOSTER by MICHAEL STOLLE – and my thanks to the author, publisher and Bookollective for putting it all together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

It’s a beautiful day in the seventeenth century. Pierre, Marquis de Beauvoir, Duke of Hertford and his small family arrive for a picnic on the banks of the River Loire in the grounds of his castle of Montrésor. It is a garden Eden – beautiful and peaceful. But fate strikes and, taken by surprise, the lunch party is ambushed.

Pierre is found later by his faithful valet, barely clinging to life, but his wife and only son have vanished without a trace. Beyond consolation, Pierre is convinced that his family has been annihilated. Luckily his friends François and Armand rush to the castle from Paris to his aid – and to investigate.

The quest leads to the coast of France and then on to the shores of England, a country torn apart by old loyalties to the Stuart king and the rise of the new Puritan gentry.

As the friends come closer and closer to the viper’s nest they must find out the truth, and track down the mastermind behind the ambush, who is prepared to stop at nothing until he has taken Pierre’s place and styled himself the next Duke of Hertford. A man not known to take prisoners. Soon Pierre and his friends are not only fighting against an enemy who’s ruthless and vile, they’re racing against time, the biggest enemy of all. 

Published by Amazon

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

This is the 5th book in this series, but my 1st so don’t worry about not having read any of the others! It’s really easy to get in to and is a great mix of history and mystery, so plenty to keep you engaged and entertained from page one to the last!

Set in 17th Century England and France, you follow the story of Pierre who is in pain and struggling to remember what happened to his family while they were out having a picnic. With no sign of his wife and child he fears the worst, but calls in his friends Francois and Armand to help try and figure out what happened and how to find out if his family are alright.

As Francois and Armand start to question those around, they soon uncover sinister goings on and then have a race against time to track Marie and her son down before it is too late.

I enjoyed the duo of Francois and Armand as they would often bicker and were very funny together but they had great detective skills between them! They used their contacts in London well and it was quite good fun trying to work out who they should trust. I also like the way the story was switched too from Marie’s point of view as it showed her being so brave for her son despite not knowing what was really going on.  It soon becomes clear why they wanted the young son so badly and why they went to the lengths they did to grab him and a lot is uncovered in clandestine meetings back in London that really get to the bottom of the plot against the family.  

Set in the time of Cromwell and King Charles I, England was in turmoil so there’s always plenty going on and lots to explore in how people were behaving at that time,  and I just enjoyed the quick pace of the story, the engaging characters and a fascinating period of history!

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#BlogTour The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe #BookReview @Tr4cyF3nt0n

A huge delight for me to be part of the Blog Tour for this truly amazing book – THE LIBRARIAN OF AUSCHWITZ by ANTONION ITURBE. My thanks to the author, publisher and Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for allowing me to be part of it all.

ABOUT THE BOOK

‘It wasn’t an extensive library. In fact, it consisted of eight books and some of them were in poor condition. But they were books. In this incredibly dark place, they were a reminder of less sombre times, when words rang out more loudly than machine guns…’

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…

PUBLISHED BY EBURY PRESS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

hive.co.uk

waterstones

MY REVIEW

Wow! What a book! I’ve seen the comparisons to The Tattooist of Auschwitz and, for me, I found this to be more compelling and more emotional in the way that the author conveys the brutality of the camps, alongside the beauty of the human spirit of those inside the camps. It never shies away from the horror and cruelty of the humans in charge at the Auschwitz camp – it isn’t an easy read at times – but the human stories of people trying their best to survive and using books and each other as inspiration to keep going was truly touching and awe-inspiring and really helped you connect with the situation that those inside the camps had to face on a daily basis.

It begins with Alfred Hirsch who is inside the family camp and starts a school to help teach the youngsters in there although the few books they have are always hidden from the guards, as if they are found they are destroyed. He is helped by young Dita, aged 14, who is passionate about books and learning and takes it on herself to come up with ingenious ways to keep the books hidden. The importance of stories helps them all to escape the reality of day to day life in the camps and makes you realise just how important books can be.

As you follow the stories of these people, you get glimpses of life around the camp, the despicable characters who we all know from history, but also the brave actions of others which can often be forgotten by such a horrific period of history.  I connected more with the characters in this book  due to the way it was told – the human stories, the day to day routine – the fact that there was no escaping what was going on around them in the chambers but the fact that people had to keep hope for their children that they would get out and that they needed to keep learning for when that moment arrived.  How those people kept going is beyond me but the books and the community they built up seemed to give them all strength to carry on.

A brilliant and  emotional read and one I highly recommend to everyone.

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