#BookReview THE LAST BOOKSHOP IN LONDON by MADELINE MARTIN #AudioBook



ABOUT THE BOOK


Inspired by the true World War II history of the few bookshops to survive the Blitz, The Last Bookshop in London is a timeless story of wartime loss, love and the enduring power of literature.

August 1939: London prepares for war as Hitler’s forces sweep across Europe. Grace Bennett has always dreamed of moving to the city, but the bunkers and blackout curtains that she finds on her arrival were not what she expected. And she certainly never imagined she’d wind up working at Primrose Hill, a dusty old bookshop nestled in the heart of London.

Through blackouts and air raids as the Blitz intensifies, Grace discovers the power of storytelling to unite her community in ways she never dreamed—a force that triumphs over even the darkest nights of the war.


PUBLISHED BY HANOVER SQUARE PRESS



MY REVIEW


I listened to the audio version of this book – brilliantly read!

This was a really endearing and often emotional read, set in WW2, and showed that importance of escaping into books at such a torrid time for the inhabitants of London. The refuge of books and a bookshop became so important to everyone, not least those managing to work in them.

Grace is the centre of the story and she moves to London in 1939 with her friend, as they want a more exciting life! An unfortunate time to move as things turned out! She’s eager to work in a bookshop and her dream becomes reality when her landlady helps her get a temporary post at a nearby bookshop. The owner is very set in his ways and reluctant to have someone else help out, but she soon proves invaluable as she starts to tidy and rearrange the store to attract new customers.

I loved that she wasn’t really into books when she started working there, but the enthusiasm of the visiting George, helped start her on her book journey and soon she’s devouring books in numbers and able to recommend books to customers who are looking for an escape from life in London during the war.

Seeing life go on amidst the war was really well captured – how life would appear normal one minute, and then they’re all in shelters the next. How people adapted to the horrors of bombing raids and coming to terms with death and destruction around them just proved how resilient humans can be, no matter how heartbreaking life could prove to be.

It’s a book of hope and I found it really touching that the characters became family to one another and supported one another.


★★★

#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.

★★★★

#BlogTour OTTO ECKHART’S ORDEAL by NIALL EDWORTHY #BookReview @Bookollective @UnicornPubGroup

Delighted to be the lastest stop on the Blog Tour for the WW2 book OTTO ECKHART’S ORDEAL by NIALL EDWORTHY. My thanks to the publisher, author and the team at Bookollective for the copy of the book and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Otto Eckhart’s Ordeal is a work of historical fiction, inspired by the true story of Otto Rahn, occultist member of Nazi Germany’s Schutzstaffel (SS) Ahnenerbe think tank, and his search for the Holy Grail. He believes that in finding such a trophy, he will succeed in proving Ayran supremacy for Nazi Germany.


In Niall Edworthy’s riveting retelling, a naïve young historian, Otto Eckhart, is personally dispatched by SS leader Heinrich Himmler to seek a holy chalice, only to discover the real-life Chalice of Tomar. Set over the course of a six-month span in 1937, the action unfolds across Berlin, the Odenwald mountain range, Wewelsburg Castle, and the Languedoc region of France. Sure to delight history buffs and World War II scholars, Otto Eckhart’s Ordeal is an absorbing coming-of-age story about love, life, and the search for meaning.


PUBLISHED BY UNICORN PUBLISHING GROUP


PURCHASE LINKS


PUBLISHER WEBSITE
HIVE.CO.UK

MY REVIEW


This is an historical fiction book based on historical truth so I was a little anxious before picking this up to read as I wondered how it would all work out! But I had nothing to worry about as it immediately grabbed my attention and had a really good flow to it as it touches on some rather darker elements of life during the War, alongside a young man trying to find his way in the world.  It was also much lighter in mood than I expected! It often read like an historical farce with some of the goings on and the touches of humour were much welcomed!


Otto is a man fascinated by history, especially that of the Holy Grail, and his research grabs the eye of those at the top of the Nazi’s.  So he’s told – you don’t really get a choice of who to work for! – that they will publish his book and support him if they seek out the Grail for them to use for their purposes.  So he sets out to do what he can without endangering his family and we’re left to witness his adventure and his escapades along the way!


I loved all the historical aspects of this story.  It has pushed me to research more of the real life work of Otto Rahn and it’s such a fascinating subject to look at.  The character of Otto was instantly likeable and seeing him struggle with the moral issue of working with the Nazi’s was totally understandable.


This was a fascinating, touching and fun read and one of those books that you can see making it onto the big screen! I hope it does!!


★★★★

#BlogTour CLOUDS OF LOVE AND WAR by RACHEL BILLINGTON @Bookollective #BookReview

Delighted to be here today as part of the BOOKOLLECTIVE Blog Tour to share my thoughts on this absorbing new book! My thanks to the author, publisher and Bookollective team for my copy of the book and letting me share my thoughts on the tour!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Occasionally panoramic, more often intimate, in Clouds of Love and War author Rachel Billington balances a detailed and highly researched picture of the life of a Second World War Spitfire pilot with the travails and ambitions of a young woman too often on her own. The result is both a gripping story of war and a sensitive story of love, a love that struggles to survive.

Eddie and Eva meet on the eve of the Second World War. Eddie only wants to be a flyer, to find escape in the clouds from his own complicated family. However, the Battle of Britain makes a pilot’s life a dangerous way to flee reality. Eva has her own passionate longing: to become a painter. When Eva’s Jewish mother disappears to Germany, she is left alone with her elderly father. Both Eddie and Eva come of age at a time that teaches them that happiness is always fleeting, but there are things worth living – or dying – for.

Through the connecting stories of these young people and their wider families, and against a background of southern county airfields, London, Oxford, Dorset and France, Rachel Billington brings the world of war time England, now eighty years in the past, back to life.

PUBLISHED BY UNIVERSE

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

This is a book full of  hope, heartbreak and heroes.  And I adored every single page!  I didn’t really know what to expect when I started it, as I was just seduced by the beautiful cover! But once I started reading, I fell for the simplicity and compassion of the characters as their stories are played out amidst the back drop of the Second World War.

It really focuses well on the family dynamics – the differing of opinions and outlooks on life across the generations as War breaks out.  Young Eddie is desperate to be a pilot, his Dad is set against the idea and I’m sure these clashes were mirrored across many households at the time.

And in Eva, is a character who is desperate to paint and to find herself whilst her father  still wants to decide what is best for her. She is such a spirited young woman that I loved seeing her attitude towards grabbing opportunites when they arose, despite the difficult circumstances they all found themselves living in.

The pace of the story allows you to understand the characters more – their motivations, their despair and their dreams.  And the love story in extraordinary times was pitched perfectly – so touching and emotional but not gushy or too over the top!

An enthralling and engrossing read that I highly recommend!

★★★★★

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

ABOUT THE BOOK

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

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

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

PUBLISHED BY HARPER FICTION

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

MY REVIEW

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

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

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

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

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

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

★★★★