Bookish Weekly Wrap Up

Hello!! Greetings from a grey and muggy Essex! And greetings from a very tired, flat, lethargic, exhausted me!!  Is it bedtime yet??! So if you spot any mistakes, that’s my excuse this week!

Been a good week as finally got to see the Poppies on Tour display that is currently at Shoeburyness in Essex  – click on the link for more details to see if they are near you as they are amazing to see 14-18 Now

 

And now on to Books!  Seem to have kept the postman busy this week with some lovely book post so here’s a look at what has been arriving, what I’ve read and what I’m currently reading!  

BOOKPOST

Being part of the wonderful Urbane Publications Book Club has paid dividends again as this months’ releases arrived all nicely parcelled up!

Clio Grey – Burning Secrets

Robert Daws – The Rock

Robert Daws – The Poisoned Rock

James Silvester – The Prague Ultimatum

David Stuart Davies – The Scarlet Coven

Dr Christian Marcolli – The Melting Point

  And then thanks must go to Duckworth Publishers for these two books that I won via a competition that they hosted on Twitter!

Septimania by Jonathan Levi

A Guide to the Perplexed by Jonathan Levi

 

And this morning this pretty stunner arrived via BookBridgr so am really excited to start this dark read! Who can resist one of those!!!

The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland

And I still haven’t bought any books!!  Is this normal??! This can’t be me?! This seriously needs to be rectified and the sooner the better!! 😉

BOOKS FINISHED

Please click on the book title for a link to my GoodReads review!

 The Rock by Robert Daws

 

Strange Magic by Syd Moore

The Golden Age of the Garden by Claire Cock-Starkey

Like Other Girls by Claire Hennessy

 CURRENTLY READING 

The Poisoned Rock by Robert Daws

With only five weeks to go before the end of her secondment to the Royal Gibraltar Police Force, D.S. Tamara Sullivan is enjoying life on the Rock. With one murder investigation successfully under their belts, Sullivan and her commanding officer, Chief Inspector Gus Broderick, settle down to regular police work under the sunny Mediterranean skies.

In London, the British Government has declassified a large number of top secret files regarding British Military Intelligence operations during World War Two. One file, concerning espionage operations on Gibraltar, has been smuggled out of the U.K. to Spain. It contains information that will draw Sullivan and Broderick into the dark and treacherous world of wartime Gibraltar. A place where saboteurs and espionage plots abounded. Where double and triple agents from Britain, Germany and Spain were at war in a treacherous and deadly game of undercover operations.

As the summer heat reaches its zenith in Gibraltar Town, a film crew has arrived on the Rock to shoot a movie about one of the most enigmatic and legendary spies of the war years – ‘The Queen of Diamonds’. Starring Hollywood A-lister Julia Novacs and produced by local born film maker, Gabriel Isolde, it is the talk of the Rock.

It is only a matter of time before past and present collide and a dangerous battle begins to conceal the truth about the Rock’s poisonous wartime history. Detectives Sullivan and Broderick become caught in a tangled web of intrigue and murder that will once again test their skills and working relationship to the very limit.

The Little Bookshop of Promises by Debbie Macomber

Somewhere between a car accident and a divorce, Annie Applegate stopped believing in happy endings.

Now, she just wants to disappear. And the tiny town of Promise fits the bill. With its winding streets and melting-pot of residents, it’s the perfect place for Annie to hide away and open the bookshop she always dreamed of owning.

Until her new-found peace and quiet is disturbed by Lucas, a widower who rivals Annie as the most cynical person in town.

With his troubled past and precocious children, Lucas is the last person she should be getting involved with. But when he asks for her help, Annie comes to realise that, maybe, going it alone isn’t the solution after all…

Previously published as Promise, Texas

And there we have it! Another successful week in keeping the reading slump at bay with some fascinating reads and lots more added to the pile that I want to dive into as soon as possible!!

Happy Reading!!

The Rock by Robert Daws – book review

THE BLURB

The Rock. Gibraltar. 1966.

In a fading colonial house overlooking the Straits of Gibraltar, the dead body of a beautiful woman lays dripping in blood. The steel handle of a knife protrudes from her chest, its sharpened tip buried deep within her heart.

The Rock. Present day.

Detective Sergeant Tamara Sullivan arrives on The Rock on a three-month secondment from the London Metropolitan Police Service. Her reasons for being here are not happy ones and she braces herself for a tedious and wasteful twelve weeks in the sun.

After all, murders are rare on the small, prosperous and sun-kissed sovereignty of Gibraltar and catching murderers is what Sullivan does best.

It is a talent she shares with her new boss, Chief Inspector Gus Broderick of the Royal Gibraltar Police Force. He’s an old-fashioned cop who regards his new colleague with mild disdain.

But when a young police constable is found hanging from the ceiling of his apartment, Sullivan and Broderick begin to unravel a dark and dangerous secret that will test their skills and working relationship to the limit.

Amazon UK

Urbane Publications

MY REVIEW

I received this book yesterday morning as part of the Urbane Publications Book Club, and thought I’d give the first couple of chapters a go to see if I’d enjoy it – 150 pages later I’d finished it and had thoroughly enjoyed this sharp, crime novella and am itching to start on book two of the series – The Poisoned Rock!

Set on Gibraltar, we follow Tamara Sullivan who is a detective sent over from London for 3 months and we get a glimpse of what went wrong in London, and how she is thrown straight into the deep end with intriguing cases of what appear to be suicides and they  affect those very closely in the police department. The team she is working with all have great interaction with each other and that really adds to the books appeal.

This book had a great pace about it and also fantastic touches of humour that you could understand that those in the police force need on a daily basis to see them through some of the tougher sights that they witness.  I also enjoyed the way the threads tied in well without being forced or feeling too manufactured.  There was genuine mystery and intrigue trying to work out where the story would end up and I loved the twists and turns!  

Another touch I liked was the imprint of fingerprints on each page! Really added to the enjoyment of reading!

So I made the right decision in picking up this book and love how sometimes something that you don’t expect to grab you does!!  Will definitely be reading The Poisoned Rock next!!

The Golden Age of the Garden by Claire Cock-Starkey – book review

THE BLURB

The relationship between England and its gardens might be described as a love affair; gardening is one of our national passions, rooted in history. The eighteenth century is often called the Golden Age of English gardening; as the fashion for formal pleasure grounds for the wealthy faded, a new era began, filled with picturesque vistas inspired by nature.

Charting the transformation in our landscapes through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, The Golden Age of the Garden brings the voices of the past alive in newspaper reports, letters, diaries, books, essays and travelogues, offering contemporary gardening advice, principles of design, reflections on nature, landscape and plants, and a unique perspective on the origins of our fascination with gardens.

Exploring the different styles, techniques and innovations, and the creation of many of the stunning spaces that visitors still flock to see today, this is an evocative and rewarding collection for all gardeners and garden-lovers seeking insight, ideas and surprises.

Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 4th 2017 by Elliott & Thompson
 
 
Amazon UK £12.99 hardback
 

MY REVIEW

As a keen amateur gardener, I am always interested to learn more of the history of how gardening has evolved in England over the past couple of centuries, and this collection of thoughts, essays, poems, art, letters and diary entries really captures the essence of what makes gardening a way of life for those that fall under its’ spell!

I loved reading the thoughts of various historical figures and what gardening meant to them, and what they thought of various gardens they visited! From Catherine the Great, Daniel Defoe, Horace Wallpole to Thomas Jefferson and John Adams it is a fascinating insight into the grandeur of certain gardens throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.

I found the collection of viewpoints were cleverly chosen and well put together as well to share the other side of gardening from jobs to do throughout the year in 1751 – very similar to how we still garden now! – and lists of flowers that bloom for each month, to how design was used in all gardens from small to large over the years.

It also features many great names from the world of gardening such as Capability Brown, Humphrey Repton and William Gilpin and I loved reading that not every gardener was a big fan of Brown at the time!

Another big revelation for me was that certain thoughts about gardening are still so relevant today such as how good it is for the health of a person – both body and mind – but thankfully some thought processes of how women and their involvement in gardening is not advised as they are unsure of how to design a garden are a thing of the past!  It also made me laugh to read that slugs and snails were also a beast to deal with in the garden back in 1795!! There just is no stopping them!

I found this to be a really insightful look at so much to do with the world of horticulture and how the designs of gardens have evolved over time but the basics are still as timely now as they were back then!  A real treat of a read for all those with green fingers!

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins – Blog Tour

Delighted to be involved in the Blog Tour today for this creepy thriller that has kept me holding my breath as I read it!  You too will become obsessed with dung beetles once you’ve read this book!!

THE BLURB

How far would you go to save your reputation? The stunning new noir thriller from the author of the bestselling The Missing One and The Other Child. Perfect for fans of I Let You Go and The Ice Twins.

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation?

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

If you are looking for a story to creep you out and have you wary of trusting anyone, then look no further!!  This is the story of Olivia who has a seemingly perfect family, and is a bestselling writer/tv personality/historian – but sometimes things aren’t quite as they seem!!  

The story centres around the points of view of Olivia and the 60 year old housekeeper, Vivian, who has helped her with research for her latest  book.  And as the release date approaches then Olivia starts to realise that the book she has written may not be as truthful as she thought it was, and Vivian knows this and threatens to shatter her dreams and bring her whole world crumbling down.

Vivian is a very complex character who has suffered throughout her life, and when she spends time with Olivia and her family she starts to see them as friends and thought she could rely on them to keep her company.  From Olivias’ point of view nothing could be further from the truth and does all she can to avoid any contact.  Vivian isn’t going to give up without a fight!

Olivia is also struggling to deal with her own life as her family life crumbles around her and events from her past soon come back to haunt her.

This story has creepy undertones from the very beginning and as  a reader you find yourself wondering just who to trust and realise there are secrets on all sides.  This book really gave me the chills at times and the levels of deception from both women is cleverly drawn out and leads you to a stunning conclusion.  Having each woman take it in turn with each chapter to give you their side works so well for the plot line and you will also find yourself learning to be fascinated about dung beetles!  

Chillingly dark thriller!

Strange Magic by Syd Moore – book review

THE BLURB

Rosie Strange doesn’t believe in ghosts or witches or magic. No, not at all. It’s no surprise therefore when she inherits the ramshackle Essex Witch Museum, her first thought is to take the money and run.

Still, the museum exerts a curious pull over Rosie. There’s the eccentric academic who bustles in to demand she help in a hunt for old bones, those of the notorious Ursula Cadence, a witch long since put to death. And there’s curator Sam Stone, a man about whom Rosie can’t decide if he’s tiresomely annoying or extremely captivating. It all adds up to looking like her plans to sell the museum might need to be delayed, just for a while.

Finding herself and Sam embroiled in a most peculiar centuries-old mystery, Rosie is quickly expelled from her comfort zone, where to her horror, the secrets of the past come with their own real, and all too present, danger as a strange magic threatens to envelope them all

Publication Date – 4th May 2017

Amazon UK  £8.99 paperback

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore    £7.45 paperback

MY REVIEW

Any book that has a link to Essex and witches instantly catches my eye, and the stunning cover also helped draw me towards this book and it has been a really enjoyable read and a little surprising too!  

This is the story of Rosie Strange who is an Essex girl and benefit fraud investigator, with very little interest in the world of Witchcraft! But her life plan changes somewhat when her Grandfather Septimus leaves her his beloved Essex Witch Museum.  Her family was never the closest so she knows very little of this side of the family and when she travels to visit the museum her plan is to sell it as soon as she can!

But while she is there, she is immediately swept along in the hunt for the bones of one of the most notorious ‘witches’ of the 16th century, Ursula Cadence.  Sam who is the curator of the Museum and a friend of Septimus is wary of Rosie to begin with but their relationship is allowed to progress nicely in this book as they are sent all over the country to track down the whereabouts of the remains of Ursula to try and help the young boy whose body appears to have been possessed by Thomas, the son of Ursula.

I really enjoyed the mix of humour, history and mystery in this story and there were a few moments to give you the chills as well!  There was a fascinating glimpse into the history of Witches in the county through Sam and the knowledge he brought to the ‘team’ and it has definitely made me more intrigued to read up even more about what happened during that period. Very pleased as well to know that this is the beginning of a series of books featuring these characters so will be watching out for the next installment!

This book has been inspired by Ursula Kemp who was tried in Essex in 1582 for witchcraft and hanged, and then the remains of 2 women were later found in a garden in St Osyth and became a tourist attraction, such is the appeal of the history of the witches of Essex.

The Hourglass by Tracy Rees – Blog Tour

THE BLURB

‘Tracy Rees is the most outstanding new voice in historical fiction’ Lucinda Riley. The powerful third novel from the author of the Richard and Judy bestseller Amy Snow.

2014. Sensible Nora has always taken success for granted, until suddenly her life begins to fall apart. Troubled by anxiety and nightmares, she finds herself drawn to the sweeping beaches of Tenby, a place she’s only been once before. Together with a local girl she rents a beautiful townhouse and slowly begins to settle in to her new life. But Tenby hides a secret, and Nora will soon discover that this little town by the sea has the power to heal even the most painful memories.

1950. Teenager Chloe visits Tenby every summer. She stays with relatives, and spends the long, IDYLLIC days on the beach. Every year is the same, until she meets a glamorous older boy and is instantly smitten. But on the night of their first date, Chloe comes to a realisation, the aftermath of which could haunt her forever.

The Hourglass is a moving novel about reinvention and reconciliation; about finding love even after it seems too late, about family and the healing power of a magical place by the sea.

Out 4th May 2017

Quercus Books

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore

I’m extremely honoured to be part of this fabulous Blog Tour and am looking foward to sharing my review of this stunning book from Tracy Rees.  I loved spending time in Tenby with the characters and hope you are inspired to begin  reading this wonderful tale.

MY REVIEW

If you are looking for a wonderful time slip story full of hope set in the beautiful setting of Tenby, then look no further! I have thoroughly enjoyed escaping into the world of Nora and Chloe set in the present and the 1950’s!

In the present, Nora seems to have the weight of the world on her shoulders – working in a job that isn’t making her happy, she’s just split up with her partner and she’s also in counselling to help deal with the anxiety she constantly feels. And then out of nowhere she gets an image of a seaside town stuck in her brain and the pull to Tenby is too much so she finds herself packing up her London life and taking the brave step to reconnect with the world and to find her way again to making herself happy.

In the 1950’s, Chloe goes to Tenby every Summer to stay with her Aunt and her family and it is the highlight of her year! Everything seems so much more glamourous to her by the seaside and she soon meets her best friend, Llew, there and can think of nothing better than the big dance of the Summer.

As we follow both stories, they soon reveal that both Nora and Chloe fall quickly under Tenbys’ spell and the people they meet have an immediate effect on their hopes and dreams for the future. With Nora she begins to regain her confidence and it is so lovely to see how she finds her feet and settles in so well. It also gives her time to reconnect with her grandmother who lives nearby and through her stories, she begins to learn more about her mother who seems reluctant to ever revisit Wales and seems to have spent her whole life avoiding the area and reluctant to ever commit to anything long term.

And with Chloe we see her transform from young teenage girl to a young woman with her yearly visits to the seaside – how her relationships change with members of her family and those she meets up with every Summer leading up to something that changes her outlook and attitude for her adult life.

Found this to be such an absorbing read as you really get a feel of each character with some wonderful writing, and beautifully described locations that just make you want to visit Tenby right away! As a young swimmer I remember one of our weekends away was spending time in Tenby for a gala meet, so it brought back some lovely memories for me and I could understand how Nora and Chloe fell for its’ charm so quickly!

It is a story full of how you can reinvent yourself after setbacks in your life, and how just a different setting or different people around you can inspire you to move on and reassess events that have happened in your past. This is the first book by Tracy Rees that I’ve read and it definitely will not be the last!!

Bookish Weekly Wrap Up

Howdy!! Hope you have all been busy bees this week!!  And had a fabulous Star Wars Day – May the 4th be with you! – why this isn’t an international holiday yet is beyond me!!!  It needs to happen!!

So, on to the books!  Been quite a sedate week here of the bookish variety!  Trying to get myself back on track with books that need reviewing that have been sent my way, while at the same time reading through the book mountain I’ve created of my own purchases!!

BOOKS READ

Please click the title link if you want to read my GoodReads review!

The Walworth Beauty by Michele Roberts

I really enjoyed the start of this one but then it all fell a little flat.  Still an interesting read though – and a pretty stunning cover!  Downloaded this through my library card on the BorrowBox App.

From the Booker-shortlisted author comes a sensuous, evocative novel exploring the lives of women in Victorian London, for fans of Sarah Waters, Emma Donoghue, and Kate Atkinson.

2011: When Madeleine loses her job as a lecturer, she decides to leave her riverside flat in cobbled Stew Lane, where history never feels far away, and move to Apricot Place. Yet here too, in this quiet Walworth cul-de-sac, she senses the past encroaching: a shifting in the atmosphere, a current of unseen life.

1851: and Joseph Benson has been employed by Henry Mayhew to help research his articles on the working classes. A family man with mouths to feed, Joseph is tasked with coaxing testimony from prostitutes. Roaming the Southwark streets, he is tempted by brothels’ promises of pleasure – and as he struggles with his assignment, he seeks answers in Apricot Place, where the enigmatic Mrs Dulcimer runs a boarding house.

As these entwined stories unfold, alive with the sensations of London past and present, the two eras brush against each other – a breath at Madeleine’s neck, a voice in her head – the murmurs of ghosts echoing through time. Rendered in immediate, intoxicating prose, The Walworth Beauty is a haunting tale of desire and exploitation, isolation and loss, and the faltering search for human connection; this is Michèle Roberts at her masterful best.

The Women of the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

Really loved this absorbing story of how strong some women were through the adversity of the Second World War.

 

A resistance widow. A silent co-conspirator. The only one who survived.

Bavaria, Germany. June, 1945.

The Third Reich has crumbled. The Russians are coming.
Can Marianne von Lingenfels and the women in her care survive and build their ravaged world anew?

Marianne – widow of a resistor to the Nazi regime – returns to the grand, crumbling castle where she once played host to all of German high society. She assembles a makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s movement, rescuing her dearest friend’s widow, Benita, from sexual slavery to the Russian army, and Ania from a work camp for political prisoners. She is certain their shared past will bind them together.

But as Benita begins a clandestine relationship and Ania struggles to conceal her role in the Nazi regime, Marianne learns that her clear-cut, highly principled world view has no place in these new, frightening and emotionally-charged days.

All three women must grapple with the realities they now face, and the consequences of decisions each made in the darkest of times . . .

Deeply moving and compelling, THE WOMEN OF THE CASTLE is a heart-wrenching and hopeful novel of secrets and survival, a reckoning, and the astonishing power of forgiveness. Perfect for fans of THE READER, THE DARK ROOM and THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS.

 

We All Begin as Strangers by Harriet Cummings

This was a fascinating and really enjoyable read based on real life events!

It’s 1984, and summer is scorching the ordinary village of Heathcote.

What’s more, a mysterious figure is slipping into homes through back doors and open windows. Dubbed ‘the Fox’, he knows everything about everyone – leaving curious objects in their homes, or taking things from them.

When beloved Anna goes missing, the whole community believes the Fox is responsible.

For the worried residents, finding Anna will be difficult – but stopping the Fox from exposing their darkest secrets might just be impossible..

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman

Really loved this book that had me shedding a tear or three as the story unfolded!

A stunning debut about a girl who has learned how to survive – but not how to live.

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is fine. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except sometimes, everything.

No-one’s ever told Eleanor life should be better than fine. But with a simple act of kindness she’s about to realise exactly how much better than fine life can be

BOOKS BOUGHT

guess what?! I’ve done it again!! Absolute zero!! Yay! Go me!!  And I have been daring to venture into bookshops and charity shops, but being a year older seems to have made me become a little more sensible and restrained… I don’t like it!!!  This kind of behaviour needs to stop! And soon!!

Currently Reading

Strange Magic by Syd Moore

Rosie Strange doesn’t believe in ghosts or witches or magic. No, not at all. It’s no surprise therefore when she inherits the ramshackle Essex Witch Museum, her first thought is to take the money and run.

Still, the museum exerts a curious pull over Rosie. There’s the eccentric academic who bustles in to demand she help in a hunt for old bones, those of the notorious Ursula Cadence, a witch long since put to death. And there’s curator Sam Stone, a man about whom Rosie can’t decide if he’s tiresomely annoying or extremely captivating. It all adds up to looking like her plans to sell the museum might need to be delayed, just for a while.

Finding herself and Sam embroiled in a most peculiar centuries-old mystery, Rosie is quickly expelled from her comfort zone, where to her horror, the secrets of the past come with their own real, and all too present, danger as a strange magic threatens to envelope them all.

Wabi Sabi by  Francesc Miralles

Living apart from his girlfriend Gabriela, university lecturer Samuel is shaken from his humdrum existence when he receives an enigmatic postcard from Japan and the unexpected visit at work of a girl trying to identify the language of a strange, haunting song. This sets Samuel on a quest that will take him to Kyoto, not only to discover the meaning of the cryptic message, which may hold the key to some of his unanswered questions, but also to find enlightenment, a new equilibrium and a reappreciation of the small joys of life. Written with Miralles s trademark wit and lightness of touch, Wabi-Sabi is a delightful tale about love and bridging cultural divides.

And there we have it! Another week nicely wrapped up!  And hopefully a good weekend of reading ahead – thank you TV for being so rubbish at the moment! – and maybe even some sunshine to enjoy too!

Happy Reading!!

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman – book review

THE BLURB

A stunning debut about a girl who has learned how to survive – but not how to live.

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is fine. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except sometimes, everything.

No-one’s ever told Eleanor life should be better than fine. But with a simple act of kindness she’s about to realise exactly how much better than fine life can be.

Publication Date – May 18th 2017

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore

MY REVIEW

I think we have all been Eleanor in some form or another in our lives and maybe that is why this book struck such a chord with me.. A quiet, unassuming woman, who works in an office and likes routine, and is socially awkward. She can’t understand the small talk that her co-workers share, and often finds herself the butt of their jokes. But she has always had this around her and seemingly ignores it, carrying on with her daily routine that keeps her safe – or just hidden from reality and all that entails..

But then her safe routine is slightly changed when she meets a co-worker and they find an elderly man collapsed in the street. Eleanor is quick to judge his predicament, but as they visit him in hospital as he recovers, she finds herself a little shocked that her judgement is so off and actually begins to enjoy social interaction and the fact that a good deed had made so many others happy.

As she begins to gain more confidence in hanging out with Raymond, her co-worker, she finds that she actually begins to enjoy life. Although she still has an unhealthy obsession with a musician she sees on stage and begins to imagine the perfect life they’d have if they ever met. For someone so socially awkward she begins a make-over process, and embraces the online world – it makes investigating the object of your desire so much easier! – and she finds that people are nicer to her. Maybe Eleanor isn’t all those awful things her mummy tells her she is every Wednesday on the phone…..

This book is cleverly broken down into 3 parts – Good Days, Bad Days, Better Days – and really delves into Eleanors’ life as she learns more about herself and those ‘bad days’ that she seemed to have blocked from her memory and that the social workers tread very carefully around. With the help of her friend Raymond and an understanding therapist she begins to feel more confident, and you really feel for her and understand why she lives the way she does to protect herself.

I found myself shedding a tear or 3 as I became so attached to Eleanor and as her past was revealed. It really brought home how we are all quick to judge people on how they look or on the way that they behave, and how many try and change who they are just to ‘fit in’ but the only way to find real happiness is to be yourself – no matter how weird you may be!

This was a touching, often fun,often heartbreaking debut and one i’d highly recommend to all.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley in return for a fair and honest review.

The Women of the Castle by Jessica Shattuck – book review

A resistance widow. A silent co-conspirator. The only one who survived.

Bavaria, Germany. June, 1945.

The Third Reich has crumbled. The Russians are coming.
Can Marianne von Lingenfels and the women in her care survive and build their ravaged world anew?

Marianne – widow of a resistor to the Nazi regime – returns to the grand, crumbling castle where she once played host to all of German high society. She assembles a makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s movement, rescuing her dearest friend’s widow, Benita, from sexual slavery to the Russian army, and Ania from a work camp for political prisoners. She is certain their shared past will bind them together.

But as Benita begins a clandestine relationship and Ania struggles to conceal her role in the Nazi regime, Marianne learns that her clear-cut, highly principled world view has no place in these new, frightening and emotionally-charged days.

All three women must grapple with the realities they now face, and the consequences of decisions each made in the darkest of times . . .

Deeply moving and compelling, THE WOMEN OF THE CASTLE is a heart-wrenching and hopeful novel of secrets and survival, a reckoning, and the astonishing power of forgiveness. Perfect for fans of THE READER, THE DARK ROOM and THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS

Publication Date 18th May 2017

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

This is an astonishingly powerful story that follows 3 women – Benita, Marianne and Ania – and how their lives are affected before, during and after the 2nd World War in Germany. All of the women face their own personal battles and the author captures brilliantly the position that they are put in, as those around them disappear and new ways of life are forced upon them.

This book captures the strength of these women through the most troubling times as they fight to maintain a certain sense of normality for the children. Some of the most powerful times come after the war as they start to learn more of what their families were involved in and how their actions were justified – it is always amazing to see how people adapt to their surroundings and for these women their lives changed so much.

Before the war we hear of how life was in Germany and how many saw the actions of Hitler as only doing the best for his country, until they started to hear the rumours of how he was treating the Jewish people of the community.

During the war, the book tells of how the women were forced to live, what was expected of them and how they helped others who had travelled many miles to escape the worst.

And then after the war, this book looks at how the women and the communities came together to rebuild, but the ghosts from the past and choices that they made during the war are still there to haunt them.

For me this book lacked the emotional impact that a book like The Nightingale (by Kristin Hannah) had on me as a reader, but it was still so well written and an important and absorbing story set around one of the most horrific times in history. Highly recommended.

Thank you to Readers First for my advanced copy in return for a fair and honest review.

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt – book review

THE BLURB

When her father and step-mother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden – thirty two years old and still living at home – immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime.

Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell: Lizzie’s unmarried older sister, a put-upon Irish housemaid, and a boy hired by Lizzie’s uncle to take care of a problem.

This unforgettable debut makes you question the truth behind one of the great unsolved mysteries, as well as exploring power, violence and the harsh realities of being a woman in late nineteenth century America.

Haunting, gripping and gorgeously written, SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE by Sarah Schmidt is a re-imagining of the unsolved American true crime case of the Lizzie Borden murders, for fans of BURIAL RITES and MAKING A MURDERER.
‘Eerie and compelling, Sarah Schmidt breathes such life into the terrible, twisted tale of Lizzie Borden and her family, she makes it impossible to look away’ Paula Hawkins

Out May 2nd 2017

More about Lizzie Borden via Wikipedia

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore – £10.65 hardback pre-order

Amazon UK  £6.49  Kindle Edition

Lizzie Borden took an axe

And gave her mother forty whacks.

When she saw what she had done,

She gave her father forty-one.


MY REVIEW
I do love the books I read to be a little out of the ordinary – in subject matter or writing style – and this book certainly fits into that ‘out there’ category !!  You might remember the story as more of a skipping rope song than just a grissly murder, and I have to say that I knew very little of the Bordens’ or the events of that night, but since finishing this wonderfully dark book then I’ve been obsessed with reading all I can about that event and those involved!


It is an astonishing debut as I found that the author tells the story in a really compelling way.  Taking it in turns with each chapter to share the viewpoint of the main protagonists, and that really built up the backstory and the present so well.  There is very little empathy to be had with many of the characters but there are little glimpses into their lives that shows you how they had seemingly suffered that you find yourself warming, only a little!, to their situation.  It shows life in a very unhappy family and just how resentment, hatred and tension builds up and festers within people, until they reach a tipping point and then……


The story centres around events leading up to and that night in question in 1892 when Lizzies’ father and stepmother were brutally murdered, and we follow the plot via the viewpoints of four different characters, the main ones being Lizzy and her sister Emma.  I found the story from Bridget, the housekeeper, a fascinating one too!  And their stories are enthralling and captivating with a very dark edge that just keeps you turning the pages wanting more details – or maybe that’s just my twisted side showing itself again!


I’d highly recommend this to those of you looking for something different from a read and one that allows you to peek behind the net curtains as to the events that led up to such an awful crime.


Thank you to Georgina Moore, Publicity Books and Tinder Press for the advanced copy in return for a fair and honest review!