#BookReview HOPE FOR THE RAILWAY GIRLS by MAISIE THOMAS

ABOUT THE BOOK

The brand new Spring Railway Girls novel set in Manchester during WWII. Perfect for fans of Nancy Revell, Daisy Styles and Margaret Dickinson.
___________________

Manchester, 1942

A new year brings new hope for the railway girls.

Alison‘s romance with the charming Dr Maitland is blossoming, but then she is posted away from Manchester. Working in a canteen isn’t part of her plan, nor is meeting her beau’s old girlfriend. One who just happens to want him back.

Margaret is supportive of her friend’s new relationship until she realises exactly who he is. Torn between keeping her secret and warning Alison, she turns to Joan for help.

Working in Lost Property wouldn’t be Joan‘s first choice of job, but with a baby on the way she knows she can’t continue being a station porter. She’s also eligible to be evacuated but could she leave Bob – and Gran – behind?

Being a railway girl isn’t always easy but together they can overcome every challenge that stands in their way.

PUBLISHED BY  PENGUIN

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

Book 5 in the Railway Girls series and it feels just like catching up with long lost friends! Being back amongst this group of wonderful women in the trying times of 1942, allowed you to reconnect with characters from the previous books and see just how their lives were changing. It can easily be read as a standalone if you’ve not had the pleasure of reading the other 4 books, but I guarantee you’ll want to read those if you start with this one!

Alison, Margaret and Joan are the main characters in this installment and there are a number of challenges that they all face. Joan is facing up to working life while pregnant so has a new mindset as she looks forward to the future as a mother. And Alison is all loved up with Dr Maitland, but a new posting sees her meeting up with an ex of his and that sets off new worries – Margaret is also a little concerned about the romance and has that dilemma of wondering whether to get involved and say something or just see how things play out. That friend quandry that we all face in one way or another over time!!

The women all have to face the attitudes of the time that mean that working women are still looked down on and not taken seriously so it’s always fascinating to see them overcome these pressures and prove they’re just as good as anybody else. I also love that it gives a good impression of sacrifices made as well as the feeling that the women get from working. They feel a great sense of pride in the work that they do and that they’re making a valuable contribution to the world they live in and for the future with changing attitudes of those they work alongside.

As the storylines play it, it’s always full of drama and the emotions often run high but there’s always that hope and general feeling of fulfilment and happiness amongst the women that they’re part of a change in society along with dealing with things that happened in their pasts and allowing them to move on.

Another fabulous read from Maisie and I’m already counting down the days until the next installment is released later in the year!!

★★★★★

#BookReview AFTER THE RAIN by LUCY DILLON #AfterTheRain

ABOUT THE BOOK

After the storm it’s time for a fresh start . . .

The powerful and heart-stirring new novel by the Sunday Times bestselling author of Unexpected Lessons in Love.
————————–

First, the clouds…
Tara Hunter is a therapist on a mission to restore Longhampton’s community spirit after catastrophic flooding. But with her boyfriend AWOL, her family fragmented, and only a cat for company, Tara’s own life is crumbling.

Then the storm…
On top of everything, Tara’s father – last seen as he walked out on her when she was ten years old – is suddenly back, with a surprising offer that could change everything.

And after the rain…
Dr David Dalloway is Longhampton Wellness Centre’s new star counsellor. He’s charming, caring and has a knack for reading people’s minds – which is the last thing Tara needs right now. Will having David and her dad around make for a bigger storm on the horizon? Or is this Tara’s chance for a fresh start?

PUBLISHED BY PENGUIN

PUBLICATION DATE – 17TH MARCH 2022

PRE-ORDER LINK

Amazon


MY REVIEW

This was another wonderful story from Lucy Dillon that sums up the conflicting emotions of humans, especially when they find it easier to pick others up while their own crumbles around them!

Tara is a therapist who finds herself at the heart of the Longhampton community after the devastating floods wrecked the lives of so many. She’s there to help them make sense of it all and help in any way she can and that distraction helps her forget the problems in her own life!

When David, a fellow therapist at the Wellness Centre she works at, is seen as a miracle worker she’s sceptical to say the least! She’s very reluctant to open up about her own issues, even when he’s offering to help out! Add to the mix the return of her Dad who has been missing from her life since she was 10, you really get the sense that she needs to follow her own advice and get a different perspective on things and ask for help!

I loved the characters in this one, especially Tara. You could feel total empathy towards her and I found her struggles with reaching out for help really relatable. When emotions got in the way it really seemed to cloud her judgement, which made it so much easier helping others with their problems !

It’s full of family drama and you really get involved with the community issues and I love how the author always does a brilliant job of getting underneath the skin of the characters she creates, that allows you to put yourself in their position and wonder how you’d deal with all that life has to throw your way! Loved it!!

★★★★★

#BookReview THE MAN WHO DIED TWICE by RICHARD OSMAN



ABOUT THE BOOK


It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?


PUBLISHED BY PENGUIN

PURCHASE LINK

AMAZON


MY REVIEW

There’s never a dull moment when The Thursday Murder Club meets up – no quiet games of bingo or charades for this group of pensioners!! And once more, the author adds his sense of humour to bring this story to life and elevate it to something a bit special!

Elizabeth and the gang are back for more crime solving! And this time it’s close to home for Elizabeth as she receives a letter from a dead man! Enough to start the alarm bells ringing and soon they’re all involved in a massive plot that involves diamonds and violent mobsters! And all the team bring their own unique talents to the crime solving puzzle and raise plenty of laughs along the way! Joyce in particular is turning out to be one of my favourites with her unique views on all that’s going on around her!!

There’s a lot going on, with various threads to follow and there’s so much warmth and charm throughout, despite the darker elements of the crimes being committed! It gets quite tense at times too which added to the danger for the crime fighting crew!!


★★★★

#BlogTour AN ACT OF LOVE by CAROL DRINKWATER #BookReview @MichaelJBooks @Carol4OliveFarm #AnActOfLove



Delighted to be with you today as part of the tour for the wonderful AN ACT OF LOVE by CAROL DRINKWATER. 
My thanks to the author and publisher for letting me be part of the tour!

ABOUT THE BOOK


France, 1943.

Forced to flee war ravaged Poland, Sara and her parents are offered refuge in a beautiful but dilapidated house in the French Alps. It seems the perfect hideaway, despite haunting traces of the previous occupants who left in haste.

But shadows soon fall over Sara’s blissful summer, and her blossoming romance with local villager Alain. As the Nazis close in, the family is forced to make a harrowing choice that could drive them apart forever, while Sara’s own bid for freedom risks several lives . . .

Will her family make it through the summer together?
And can she hold onto the love she has found with Alain?


PUBLISHED BY PENGUIN

PURCHASE LINK


Amazon

MY REVIEW

This is a really evocative and powerful historical romance, that gives you a glimpse at life amidst the fear of war.  Set in France, a young family are seeking shelter after having to flee Poland and they soon find themselves part of a new community and wondering where life will take them next.  

The story is told as Sara looks back over her life, surrounded by her family, and is dealing with regrets from the past.  As she shares what happened to her during 1943 we get to see what life was like for the Polish Jews  forced to flee and hide, all to avoid death.

She was 17 at the time, so life in the new French village where the locals welcomed them, was something very different.  There’s even some optimism about their future – that soon turned to dread as events from the War took a darker turn and got closer to where they were.   She gets herself a job looking after children for a local family, but you can sense they never feel settled because of that unknown element of will they continue to be safe.

I really felt the trepidation and fear of Sara as she found herself living a new life with a new identity, and helping with the war effort in whatever way she could.  The hope that her time spent with Alain gave her really does steady her mind and gives her some kind of security, but you know she’s always wary of feeling too settled anywhere.

The characters and settings are really brought to life throughout, and that dread of never knowing what was around the corner comes through loud and clear.  The realities of life, often hopeful, often cruel, are really explored throughout this beautifully written book.

★★★★

#BlogTour THE METAL HEART by CAROLINE LEA #BookReview @CarolineleaLea @MichaelJBooks #TheMetalHeart



Delighted to be with you todayas part of the Blog Tour for THE METAL HEART by CAROLINE LEA.  My thanks to the author and publisher for letting me be part of the tour and sharing my review with you all!


ABOUT THE BOOK


The sky is clear, star-stamped and silvered by the waxing gibbous moon.

No planes have flown over the islands tonight; no bombs have fallen for over a year.
___________

Orkney, 1940. Five hundred Italian prisoners-of-war arrive to fortify these remote and windswept islands. Resentful islanders are fearful of the enemy in their midst, but not orphaned twin sisters Dorothy and Constance. Already outcasts, they volunteer to nurse all prisoners who are injured or fall sick.

Soon Dorothy befriends Cesare, an artist swept up by the machine of war and almost broken by the horrors he has witnessed. She is entranced by his plan to build an Italian chapel from war scrap and sea debris, and something beautiful begins to blossom.

But Con, scarred from a betrayal in her past, is afraid for her sister; she knows that people are not always what they seem.

Soon, trust frays between the islanders and outsiders, and between the sisters – their hearts torn by rival claims of duty and desire. A storm is coming…

In the tradition of Captain Corelli’s MandolinThe Metal Heart is a hauntingly rich Second World War love story about courage, brutality, freedom and beauty and the essence of what makes us human during the darkest of times.
___________

Praise for Caroline Lea:

‘Enthralling’ Stacey Halls, author of The Familiars and The Foundling

‘Fantastic’ The Times

‘Memorable and compelling’ Sarah Moss, author of The Times Book of the Year Ghost Wall

‘Intensely written and atmospheric’Daily Mail

‘Gripped me in a cold fist. Beautiful’ Sara Collins, author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton

‘Brilliant’Daily Express

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a beautiful little story, that has a big impact on the reader with the setting and backdrop of the War.  And the fact that it is based on a true story of the Orkney Wedding Chapel which was built during World War II and explores the fear that the locals felt during the war.

The story centres around the sisters – Dorothy and Conn – who lead a very solitary life, keeping out of the way of many of the community – they feel protected by one another.  But that is all set to change when a large number of prisoners of war are sent to Orkney and that strikes fear amongst all the locals wondering what impact will that have on them.  Will there be less food? More trouble?  It’s a fascinating look at the genuine fears of this small community and really shows humanity in all its’ colours.

The sisters become involved with the soldiers providing medical help, and through this time they get to see the prisoners as human beings. But it also brings into play the role that jealousy plays, especially when one of the sisters grows closer to Cesare, one of the prisoners, and the other sister feels put out.  They’ve always been there for one another, and now that bond is being broken and it’s not going down well!

I really loved the focus on relationships, especially against the backdrop of war.  When everyone is feeling scared and fearful, and unaware of what will happen next, the bond between people becomes strained and you get to see a different side to people you think you knew!

This was an absorbing, dramatic and emotional story that really does transport you to a different time and place.

★★★★

#BookReview A HISTORY OF WHAT COMES NEXT by SYLVAIN NEUVEL @MichaelJBooks

ABOUT THE BOOK


Imagine everything you thought you knew about human progress was wrong. What would you do?

Mia is not sure what she is, but she isn’t human. Smarter, stronger than her peers, all she knows are the rules: there can never be three for too long; always run, never fight.

When she finds herself in Germany, 1945, she must turn the Nazi’s most trusted scientist with an offer: abandon the crumbling Nazi party, escape Germany with your life, come to work for the Americans building rockets.

But someone is watching her work. An enemy who’s smarter, stronger, decidedly not human and prepared to do anything to retrieve something ancient that was long lost.

If only she had any idea what it was . . .

PUBLISHED BY MICHAEL JOSEPH

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

blackwell’s

goldsboro books – signed edition

MY REVIEW

This was an exciting and imaginative piece of speculative fiction, that features some really strong female characters, who are front and centre of the plot to try and save the world – despite the humans doing their best to destroy it all with the advancement of rocket technology.

The women, mothers and daughters, are seen at various times throughout history, but the main characters, Mia and her mother Sara, are based around Germany in 1945 as the world is busy destroying itself with another war, and the race is on to expand the rocket technology to cause even more destruction. The women work on the premise ‘Take Them to the Stars’, and you watch as they try and engineer their way into a male dominated world to try and steer humans to a different path. Added to the mix is ‘The Tracker’ whose task over the years is to stop these women, by any means necessary, and it really is often a race against time to save themselves or those around them when the tracker closes in on their new location.

What I loved about this book is the pure strength of the characters – with history repeating itself over and over – we see these women faced with constant hurdles, and their own emotions of anger at the world they witness. We get to see the impact of wars on the countries after the events, how it affected the population and how the bond between mother and daughter never waivers. There’s more show of humanity in their behaviour than amongst the humans they encounter at times!

This was a book with a great mix of sci-fi and history, and I found it to be really compelling and had a great ‘spark’ about it. There’s also some fascinating author notes at the end, along with a playlist that really added something extra to the whole reading experience.

★★★★

My thanks to Lucy at Penguin Randomhouse for sending me an advanced copy to read in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview BIRDSONG IN A TIME OF SILENCE by STEVEN LOVATT #nonfiction #nature

ABOUT THE BOOK


A lyrical celebration of birdsong, and the rekindling of a deep passion for nature.

“At this time of year, blackbirds never simply fly: instead, like reluctantly retired officers, they’re always ‘on manoeuvres’, and it’s easy to see from their constant agitation that for them every flower bed is a bunker, every shed a redoubt and every hedge-bottom a potential place of ambush”

As the world went silent in lockdown, something else happened; for the first time, many of us started becoming more aware of the spring sounds of the birds around us. Birdsong in a Time of Silence is a lyrical, uplifting reflection on these sounds and what they mean to us.

From a portrait of the blackbird – most prominent and articulate of the early spring singers – to explorations of how birds sing, the science behind their choice of song and nest-sites, and the varied meanings that people have brought to and taken from birdsong, this book ultimately shows that natural history and human history cannot be separated. It is the story of a collective reawakening brought on by the strangest of springs.


PUBLISHED BY PARTICULAR BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

This was a wonderfully relaxing and insightful book, as the author looks back at a strange old year – 2020! – and how it affected the way we interacted with birds and wildlife given that so many of us had more time at home, and more hours to notice the sounds coming from our gardens, parks and woodland areas.

For the author, the sound of birdsong evoked many happy childhood memories and I could totally relate to that. Even as I read the book, I sat out in my garden listening to the many varieties of birds that visit the very well stocked bird tables I provide! And it’s that connection with birds that I enjoyed so much about this book. It explores different types, their characteristics and the amazing stories about migration and their battles for survival.

In lockdown the world was a much quieter place – oh to have that back! – with less traffic on the roads, no planes in the sky and the author picks up on each season through the last year and how that affected the wildlife around us and how we interacted with it, given that we were exploring local areas more and spending more time noticing the little things in life we took for granted and often ignored!

It also touches on climate change and how that is affecting the various species, along with the destruction of local habitats – as I read the book, I could hear a neighbour hacking back a shrub much loved by a large group of sparrows – and it really shows how important our actions impact on that of the bird populations.

I have learned so much from this book and it has also helped me appreciate visits from our feathered friends and to do more to make sure they continue coming! It also brilliantly sums up the experiences of the past year and how that has made more of us connect with nature and our surroundings. I just hope that many don’t forget about the joys that our gardens and wildlife have bought us over the past year and that they will start changing their ways to help wildlife a little more – I have my doubts but there is hope!

The author has a beautiful way with words and it was just a pleasure to read from start to finish!

★★★★★

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB by RICHARD OSMAN

ABOUT THE BOOK


Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves
A female cop with her first big case
A brutal murder
Welcome to…
THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB


In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?


PUBLISHED BY PENGUIN

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon
Goldsboro – signed first edition
blackwell’s – signed edition


MY REVIEW


I was in need of a fun read to escape the world, and this was perfect for me! Plenty of chuckles and intrigue galore as we follow the Thursday Murder Club in their quest to solve murders close to home!

It had that real Agatha Raisin feel to it, with the goings on of a community mixed in with the darker element of crime, and you are taken along for the ride! AS the list of suspects grow with their investigations, you as the reader are the fly on the wall trying to work out who your money is on for being the perpertrator! I loved the twists and turns!

Those solving the murder mystery are not your normal investigators! They’re a group of pensioners who live at the Coopers Chase retirement village and had set up their own ‘murder club’ to pass the time on a Thursday as they loved to solve old murder cases. But when there is a murder on their doorstep, they step in to solve the mystery and no stone is left unturned as they thoroughly investigate the dodgy dealings and it was so much fun to see how they all came together and threw themselves into the case!

Even the police end up being manipulated by the crafty oldies who would use their sneaky ways to get the information they wanted for their investigations and I loved their creativeness!!

AS the plot thickens, and the dodgy dealings escalate, it all builds up nicely in pulling the community together to thwart the bad elements!! Lots of fun and I’m already looking forward to more crime solving from these characters in book 2!!

★★★★

#BookReview The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish #LibraryLoveChallenge

About the book

Welcome to Lime Park Road. A picture-perfect street with a secret at its heart.

When Joe and Christy Davenport step behind the Oxford Blue painted door of their ‘for ever’ home, they believe their dreams have come true.

Yet the boxes aren’t even unpacked before a series of events leads Christy to become obsessed with the previous occupant, the glamorous, enigmatic Amber Fraser, whose departure from Lime Park Road is shrouded in mystery.

What happened to her? And why are Joe and Christy’s attempts at friendship with neighbours met with an unnerving silence?

As Christy unravels the shocking truth about the Frasers and the place she now calls home, she discovers that behind the closed doors of even the most desirable postcodes, terrible secrets lurk.

Published by Penguin Books

MY REVIEW

I found this to be really engaging but quite a dark read, and the intrigue that followed with the departure of the Frasers from the neighbourhood, which leads to the Davenports being able to move into the home of their dreams was cleverly managed and well written.

When Christy and Joe move to Lime Park Road they think all their wishes have come true but it’s really the start of a nightmare for them as they notice the neighbours act very strangely towards them, and are reluctant to discuss just what happened to the family who lived there before and who had moved out so quickly.

The story flits between the present, with Christy becoming obsessed with trying to find out what really went on in their new home and trying to befriend her new neighbours, and also goes back to the past so that we see the story from the point of view of Amber Fraser, the glamourous wife of Jeremy, and how she viewed her time at Lime Park Road – and she has some stories to tell!!

This is a book to have you wondering about what goes on behind closed doors in your neighbourhood and just how dark and devious those you least expect can be! Those whose lifestyles you envy might not be all that they are cracked up to be!

Definitely hope to read more from this author in the future

🌟🌟🌟🌟

Blog Tour – A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden

THE BLURB

To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcneas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind–the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.

Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that’s changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir’s vengeance cannot be denied.

Taking a young Christian hostage to be his guide, Grimnir embarks on a journey that takes him from the hinterlands of Denmark, where the wisdom of the ancient dwarves has given way to madness, to the war-torn heart of southern England, where the spirits of the land make violence on one another. And thence to the green shores of Ireland and the Viking stronghold of Dubhlinn, where his enemy awaits.

But, unless Grimnir can set aside his hatreds, his dream of retribution will come to nothing. For Dubhlinn is set to be the site of a reckoning–the Old Ways versus the New–and Grimnir, the last of his kind left to plague mankind, must choose: stand with the Christian King of Ireland and see his vengeance done or stand against him and see it slip away?

Scott Oden’s A Gathering of Ravens is an epic novel of vengeance, faith, and the power of myth. 

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore  £15.09 hardback

Amazon UK £19.35 hardback

Author Website

MY REVIEW

This is how you write history and fantasy well!! In this book the author has successfully blended both aspects to create a wonderfully powerful and epic tale that swept me along as a reader and immersed me in a brutal, ancient world.

Grimnir is the last of his kind – an Orc.  And he’s not a pleasant Orc!  He’s on a quest to destroy those who destroyed his kind and along the way he stumbles across Njall and Etain – one he leaves for dead along the roadside, and Etain he forces to go with him to show him the way to England so he can reach his destination and gain his revenge.

The relationship between Grimnir and Etain is a fascinating one – one born out of hate but the more time they spend together, the more they seem to rely on each other and become each others’ protectors so to speak! 

This is a fast paced adventure which is often brutal and dark, but just gives you the whole picture of the kind of terrain, foes and battles they had to face along the way.  They also meet a number of amazing characters along the way – some help, some hinder!  

I also enjoyed the fact that most chapters were quite short! I often find with some fantasy books that I’m daunted by the length of each chapter and am often put off by this, but the way this is written it gives you a chance to absorb each section, time to take stock before you move on!

I thoroughly enjoyed my adventure with these characters – the history, the myths, the battles – and found it to be a pulsating read and highly recommend