#BookReview THE ANIMALS AT LOCKWOOD MANOR by JANE HEALEY

ABOUT THE BOOK

Some secrets are unspoken. Others are unspeakable . . .

August 1939.

Thirty-year-old Hetty Cartwright is tasked with the evacuation and safekeeping of the natural history museum’s collection of mammals. Once she and her exhibits arrive at Lockwood Manor, however, where they are to stay for the duration of the war, Hetty soon realizes that she’s taken on more than she’d bargained for.

Protecting her charges from the irascible Lord Lockwood and resentful servants is work enough, but when some of the animals go missing, and worse, Hetty begins to suspect someone – or something – is stalking her through the darkened corridors of the house.

As the disasters mount, Hetty finds herself falling under the spell of Lucy, Lord Lockwood’s beautiful but clearly haunted daughter. But why is Lucy so traumatized? Does she know something she’s not telling? And is there any truth to local rumours of ghosts and curses?

Part love story, part mystery, The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey is a gripping and atmospheric tale of family madness, long-buried secrets and hidden desires.

PUBLISHED BY MANTLE

PUBLICATION DAY – 5TH MARCH 2020

PRE-ORDER LINKS

hive.co.uk

Amazon

Goldsboro Books – signed first edition

MY REVIEW

What is it with these old houses that are full of secrets and mysterious goings on?! I love it!! And at Lockwood Manor the past is full of darkness, and as Hetty moves in to overlook the storage of the animal collection from the National History Museum during the start of the war, she is plunged into a world of family struggles whilst trying to keep track of her exhbits that keep going missing!!

Lockwood Manor is the home of Lord Lockwood and his daughter Lucy, along with a few members of staff and they’re not all pleased to be having Hetty and her collection moving in. She gets an uneasy feeling from the house from the moment she moves in and the nightmares she has are the least of her problems during her time there.

Along with the Hetty trying to settle, we also hear the story of Lucy Lockwood who has led a pretty tragic life since the death of her mother, alongside a father who seems to care very little for her. She has really bad anxiety and despite living a seemingly gilded life, you can’t help but feel enormous sympathy for her. In Hetty she finds someone she can connect with, and start to feel a little safer and it was extremely touching to see how their friendship was a real strength for them both.

As the unsettling feeling continues, there is more revealed from the past that was really shocking and I loved how the story centres around loneliness and the role that women were expected to play at that time. In Hetty and Lucy we get to see how different roles played out and it gave another dimension to the story.

A really touching and enjoyable read.

★★★★

#BookReview #BlogBlitz Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

About the book

June, 1781. An unidentified body hangs upon a hook at Deptford Dock – horribly tortured and branded with a slaver’s mark.

Some days later, Captain Harry Corsham – a war hero embarking upon a promising parliamentary career – is visited by the sister of an old friend. Her brother, passionate abolitionist Tad Archer, had been about to expose a secret that he believed could cause irreparable damage to the British slaving industry. He’d said people were trying to kill him, and now he is missing . . .

To discover what happened to Tad, Harry is forced to pick up the threads of his friend’s investigation, delving into the heart of the conspiracy Tad had unearthed. His investigation will threaten his political prospects, his family’s happiness, and force a reckoning with his past, risking the revelation of secrets that have the power to destroy him.

And that is only if he can survive the mortal dangers awaiting him in Deptford…

Published by  Mantle

Purchase Links

Goldsboro Books – signed first edition  £24.99

hive.co.uk  £11.39

waterstones  £14.99

MY REVIEW

A brutal but engaging historical debut  that I found enlightening and shocking and was completely gripped by!

Set in 18th century London, this story brings alive the story of the slave trade in Deptford when the discovery of the body of a leading abolitionist  is found branded with a slave mark, and the family turn to Captain Harry to help them discover just why Tad had met such an untimely and shocking end.

The more he delves into the goings on of the slave trade that was thriving at that time, the more he is plunged into a darker world where those making money close ranks and will do anything to protect themselves and their way of life.

I think the most striking thing about this story was how the author had really captured the callous ways of life back then – from the language used, the attitudes to those used in the slave trade and the general unpleasantness of life for many on the streets of London.  The lack of welfare or concern for many would shock us now, but back then it was par for the course.  And those questioned by Tad were often too scared to say anything in fear of upsetting those in charge who didn’t care who got in their way and would be dealt with in vicious ways.

It isn’t an easy read at times with the levels of cruelty and lack of humanity shown, but the author does an amazing job of keeping the reader hooked with new revelations and twists. 

✯✯✯✯✯

My thanks to the author, publisher and Tracy Fenton for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason #TheWinterSoldier

About the book

By the international bestselling author of The Piano Tuner, a sweeping and unforgettable love story of a young doctor and nurse at a remote field hospital in the First World War.

Vienna, 1914. Lucius is a twenty-two-year-old medical student when World War I explodes across Europe. Enraptured by romantic tales of battlefield surgery, he enlists, expecting a position at a well-organized field hospital. But when he arrives, at a commandeered church tucked away high in a remote valley of the Carpathian Mountains, he finds a freezing outpost ravaged by typhus. The other doctors have fled, and only a single, mysterious nurse named Sister Margarete remains. 


But Lucius has never lifted a surgeon’s scalpel. And as the war rages across the winter landscape, he finds himself falling in love with the woman from whom he must learn a brutal, makeshift medicine. Then one day, an unconscious soldier is brought in from the snow, his uniform stuffed with strange drawings. He seems beyond rescue, until Lucius makes a fateful decision that will change the lives of doctor, patient, and nurse forever.
From the gilded ballrooms of Imperial Vienna to the frozen forests of the Eastern Front; from hardscrabble operating rooms to battlefields thundering with Cossack cavalry, The Winter Soldier is the story of war and medicine, of family, of finding love in the sweeping tides of history, and finally, of the mistakes we make, and the precious opportunities to atone.

Published by Mantle Books

Purchase Links

Goldsboro Books – signed first edition  £19.99

hive.co.uk  £10.39

Book Depository  £11.09

MY REVIEW

Wow!! This was a truly epic and captivating read and I’m extremely grateful to Goldsboro Books for selecting this as their October Book of the Month as this may have been a book I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise.

This is a beautiful but brutal story following Lucius, a young medical student during World War I, and dealing with the most horrific sights whilst fearing for his own safety and that of the medical team at the field hospital he finds himself stationed at. And this is where he meets Margarete, the nurse who steadies the ship and runs everything with military precision. He is totally overwhelmed when he first arrives as to what faces him, but Margarete gives him advice. assistance and confidence and soon he doesn’t have time to think about what he’s doing and just gets on with things. He still has his own ideals though of how he wants to treat patients and we get to see the consequences of that during his time here.

They spend so much time together it’s obvious that they grow closer, but they soon find themselves miles apart with the ever changing events of war,nut he never gives up hope of seeing her again and does all he can to track her down.

This story pulls no punches in its’ descriptions of injuries and the harshness of conditions that many had to live with. It isn’t for the squeamish but it just brings home how tough it was for everyone living during that time – the squalor, the effect on their mental health, and how bonds were formed in such extraordinary circumstances.

A truly stunning story and one I highly recommend you pick up and read!!

★★★★★

#BookReview The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

About the book

My real name, no one remembers.
The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.

Published by Mantle

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk  £13.69

waterstones  £9.49

Book Depository  £9.49

MY REVIEW

I was lucky to read this via The Pigeonhole app, which meant you got to read along with others over 10 days, make comments and hear comments from the author as well and that made for a wonderful reading experience and happy to say that I loved this story! Watching a story told over 150 years and with many characters and varying threads always makes for a fabulous tale and Kate Morton seems to have this knack of storytelling down to a T!

Elodie is the character in the now. She’s an archivist, happy in her work of looking back at history, and when she comes across a satchel containing items linked to the Stratton family she can’t wait to find out more about them, through whatever means necessary especially as she feels so connected to them! The more time she spends with these peoples’ items, the more she feels she knows them and this sets her off on an incredible journey as she seeks to find out more.

We are also introduced to the character of Edward – a painter from the past who becomes fixated on his muses and his latest work at his home at Birchwood. This house plays such a huge role in this book that it becomes a character in its’ own right and the secrets it has laid witness to over the years are never too far away from being revealed – if people just knew the right places to look.

The story flits between the present and the past seamlessly – each storyline has so many fascinating characters and plot developments that I never found my interest waning which can sometimes happen especially in such a large book! Many of the characters could have even had their own book written about their stories – Ada, Lily, Jack, Lucy to name a few – as they were so full of captivating experiences and varying backgrounds that I just wanted to know even more about them!

Elodie too had her own issues to deal with in her personal life despite her quest distracting her. She was such a sympathetic character and a gentle soul that you feel a connection with her and keep wondering how she feels so linked to this house that she’d never even heard of until she sees a painting.

The sense of history and attention to detail were exquisite once more, and one that you just come to expect from a Kate Morton book! I just hope there’ll be many more!!

☙☙☙☙☙

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin #bookreview

THE BLURB

For readers of Room and The Girls, a dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children, narrated by a seven-year-old boy who reminds us that sometimes the littlest bodies hold the biggest hearts and the quietest voices speak the loudest.

Squeezed into a coat closet with his classmates and teacher, first grader Zach Taylor can hear gunshots ringing through the halls of his school. A gunman has entered the building, taking nineteen lives and irrevocably changing the very fabric of this close-knit community. While Zach’s mother pursues a quest for justice against the shooter’s parents, holding them responsible for their son’s actions, Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and art. Armed with his newfound understanding, and with the optimism and stubbornness only a child could have, Zach sets out on a captivating journey towards healing and forgiveness, determined to help the adults in his life rediscover the universal truths of love and compassion needed to pull them through their darkest hours.

Paperback, 292 pages

Published 2018 by Mantle

BUYING LINKS

Amazon UK

If you don’t want to jump into this book after reading it and hug the narrator, 6 year old Zach, then you must have a heart of stone!  This debut novel is such a powerful, and extremely poignant story considering the news events of recent weeks, that it made my heart break constantly and struggling to read through the tears!

The child narrator is an extremely touching way to tell this story.  He and his classmates are hiding in a closet in their classroom as we first meet them, as a school shooting is under way.  The book has immediate impact on you reading, and the story that follows is how does he, his family and the community at large deal with such a tragedy and try and move on.  In many ways, they can’t move on and as a child he notices the smallest of details and really brings home the enormity of change that surrounds him.

The impact the shooting has on Zachs’ family is extremely heartbreaking as they go through the joy of finding Zach alive, but then the heartbreak of hearing that his older brother Andy was one of the victims.  You could sense his mum and dad struggling with those emotions throughout and how they’d turn on each other in their different ways of dealing with grief and it would often seem like they’d forgotten about poor Zach at times.

Zach is a brilliant character to narrate – his mind wanders as he struggles to process what he’s been through and what is happening to him and his family, the nightmares that follow are heartbreaking and I just found it an absorbing way of seeing such a tragic event through his eyes.

A stunning story.  A must read!