Thursday, 25 April 2019

Book review: Stasi 77 by David Young





A secret State. A dark conspiracy. A terrible crime. 

Karin Müller of the German Democratic Republic's People's Police is called to a factory in the east of the country. A man has been murdered - bound and trapped as a fire burned nearby, slowly suffocating him. But who is he? Why was he targeted? Could his murderer simply be someone with a grudge against the factory's nationalisation, as Müller's Stasi colleagues insist? Why too is her deputy Werner Tilsner behaving so strangely? 

As more victims surface, it becomes clear that there is a cold-blooded killer out there taking their revenge. Soon Müller begins to realise that in order to solve these terrible crimes, she will need to delve into the region's dark past. But are the Stasi really working with her on this case? Or against her? 

For those who really run this Republic have secrets they would rather remain uncovered. And they will stop at nothing to keep them that way . . . 




My thoughts...

What a book! I was pulled into this gripping read from page one and despite being in Barbados, surrounded by a tropical backdrop, I couldn't lift my head from this book even for a moment.....I just had to know happened next. The writing was exceptional and wove together a page-turning story, with an unspeakable atrocity at it's core, that left me reeling and turned my blood cold. The horrors of man never fail to shock and this book sheds light on a hideous war crime that hasn't been brought to the forefront like so many stories of the time.

Karin is a fearless protagonist who is relentless in her approach to solving cases. I was in awe at her imperturbable way of finding answers and was with her every step of the way to bring those accountable to justice in this story. Yes this is book four in the crime series featuring Karin, but I never once felt left on the back foot as the author carefully filled in any gaps deemed useful to the plot. If anything it has piqued my interest to seek out and read the first three books in order to spend more time with this courageous character.

I don't want to dive into details regarding the narrative as I feel it is best to experience the story the way the author intended and witness first hand the way the plot unfurls layer by layer. This experience had me on the edge of my seat and I couldn't read the pages quick enough for my liking to get to the end and find those all important answers. But this is truly a book not to be missed in order to bring to the attention war crimes that have for years been carefully hidden and pushed out of sight. I'm very much looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Read and reviewed with kind permission by Zaffre Books.


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About the Author...


East Yorkshire-born David Young began his East German-set crime series on a creative writing MA at London's City University when Stasi Child - his debut - won the course prize. The novel went on to win the 2016 CWA Historical Dagger, and both it and the 2017 follow-up, Stasi Wolf, were longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. His novels have been sold in eleven territories round the world. Before becoming a full-time author, David was a senior journalist with the BBC's international radio and TV newsrooms for more than 25 years. He writes in his Twickenham garden shed and in a caravan on the Isle of Wight. You can follow him on Twitter @djy_writer

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Book review: One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan






One charming bookshop, two unlikely friends, and a summer in Paris that will change their lives forever…

Grace can’t believe it when her husband of twenty-five years announces he doesn’t want to join her on their anniversary trip to Paris – instead, he wants a divorce. Reeling from the shock, Grace makes the bold decision to go on this holiday of a lifetime alone.
Audrey leaves behind heartache of her own when she arrives in Paris. A job in a bookshop is her ticket to freedom, but with no knowledge of the French language, her summer adventure seems doomed to fail. Until she meets Grace, and everything changes…
Living in neighbouring apartments above the bookshop, Grace and Audrey form an unlikely friendship. They came to Paris to find themselves, but finding each other might be the best thing that's ever happened to them.


My thoughts...

Where do I start to describe such a stunning book? The entire story captured my heart and pulled me into its deep and meaningful narrative.....I mean how could I not love a story set amidst the romantic background of Paris.

The narrative wove several storylines together that blended seamlessly into one heartfelt story. I was enraptured by each and every moment in this book that was filled to the brim with love, loss, hope and change and found myself not wanting it to ever end.

Grace was an absolutely beautiful character who I took to in an instant. Her initial outlook on life, when we first meet her, is to control every aspect of her existence. A coping mechanism it may be but a happy life it is not.

Audrey just may be one of my all time favourite characters.....I didn't know whether to wrap her up in a warm blanket and give her a hug or high five her for the outrageously honest sentences that leave her mouth.

Together they form an unlikely friendship in Paris and their journey towards self love, belief and appreciation is a completely wonderful ride. Throw Mimi into the mix and we have three fabulous women in one book.... I don't think I could have loved it more if I tried.

One Summer in Paris is a stunning celebration of love and life in all it's ugly glory. I laughed and cried along with these characters and I know I won't be forgetting them in a hurry that's for sure. If you have yet to add this book to your tbr pile then please don't hesitate any longer.....this is one summer read you don't want to miss out on.

Read and reviewed with kind permission by HQ Digital.

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About the Author...

Sarah Morgan lives near London with her husband and two sons. An international bestseller, her books have been translated into more than 43 languages and she has sold over sixteen million copies. For more about Sarah visit her website www.sarahmorgan.com, and sign up to her newsletter. She loves to connect with readers on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahMorgan), Twitter and Instagram.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Book review: The Stars in the Night by Clare Rhoden




About the book...


Harry Fletcher is a confident young man.
Harry’s sure that he will marry Nora MacTierney, no matter what their families say. He’s certain that he will always be there to protect Eddie, the boy his father saved from the gutters of Port Adelaide.
Only the War to End All Wars might get in the way of Harry’s plans…
From the beaches of Semaphore to the shores of Gallipoli, the mud of Flanders to the red dust of inland South Australia, this is a story of love, brotherhood, and resilience.




My thoughts...

This is a beautiful heartfelt story that tells of love and hope amidst the backdrop of World War I. The horrors and tremors of war rage through this narrative but love shines brightly in many ways and forms. I was enraptured by this emotionally driven plot and felt it balanced the tragedy of war with the hopeful declaration's of love winding their way across the globe to their beloved recipients in perfect harmony.

The brotherly relationship between Harry and Eddie was an absolute triumph.....I fell in love with their bond and found their journey heartbreaking and beautiful. They really were the heartbeat of this story. The character creations as a whole were done with the utmost respect and honour for the subject matter and I found myself drawn into a world filled with love and devotion as the ravages of war played on.

What I found poignant was the diary entries and letters that weaved their way seamlessly through the narrative like a breath of hope in a war torn environment to give the story an element of peace and light. As a whole this was a heartbreaking depiction of a world at war that left me searching for the tissues.....this story will certainly stay with me for many years to come.

Thank you to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for letting me take part in this tour.



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About the author...


Clare Rhoden completed her PhD in Australian WWI literature at the University of Melbourne in 2011, and a Masters of Creative Writing in 2008, in which she investigated the history of her grandparents who emigrated for Europe to Port Adelaide in January 1914. The Stars in the Night is the result of her research. Clare also writes sci-fi and fantasy. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Bill, their super-intelligent poodle-cross Aeryn, a huge and charming parliament of visiting magpies, and a very demanding/addictive garden space.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Book review: Flying by the Seat of my Knickers by Eliza Watson




Flying by the Seat of my Knickers by Eliza Watson. 


Why run from your troubles when you can fly instead? 


When Caity Shaw is fired from her first job that doesn’t require an elf uniform, her older sister, Rachel, an event planner, hires her to work a meeting in Dublin. Caity jumps at the opportunity to travel abroad and escape her pathetic life. However, even four thousand miles from home, there’s no avoiding debt collectors, an overbearing mother, and haunting memories of a controlling ex.

While in Dublin, Caity suffers a series of humiliating mishaps, causing her to lose even more faith in herself. Caity struggles to earn Rachel’s respect—and to keep Declan, her hot Irish coworker, at arm’s length. Declan repeatedly saves Caity’s butt and helps boost her self-confidence, making it difficult to keep her distance from the charming womanizer. When Declan helps her research her Irish grandmother, Caity discovers the mysterious past of the courageous woman she barely knew might hold the answers to her future.




My thoughts...



This was an utterly charming read that I flew through in a matter of hours as I couldn't put it down. The story line is warm hearted with a glorious Irish backdrop to set the scenes upon.

Caity is a character you just want to hug. We meet her in a vulnerable state where she is trying to spring back from a past ordeal and get her life and self worth back on track and I found her extremely endearing and loveable. I thoroughly enjoyed her comic relief moments and new found determination and dusted off my pom-poms in order to cheer her on from the sidelines to prove to herself that she is strong and worthy in life.

The narrative takes you on a detailed tour of Caity's day to day life with highs and lows that touch your heart and pull you into the story. The remaining characters add light and shade to the plot but I would have liked more contextual information into their background. We get hints into Caity, Rachel and Declan's past but no solid details to satisfy my nosey nature. But considering the ending is left wide open I'm hoping the next book will answer all of my questions.

Flying by the Seat of my Knickers is charming and cute with a side order of quirk thrown in for good measure. Bring on book two now..... I'm ready for those answers.

Thank you to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for letting me take part in this tour.



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About the author...

When Eliza isn't traveling for her job as an event planner, or tracing her ancestry roots through Ireland, she's at home working on her next novel, bouncing ideas off her husband Mark, and her cats Quigley, Frankie, and Sammy. Eliza also writes romance novels under the name Eliza Daly. Learn more about her books at elizawatson.com.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Book review: The Girl in the Pink Raincoat by Alrene Hughes






In wartime, it takes courage to follow your heart.
Manchester, 1939.
Everyone hated the heat and the deafening noise, but for Gracie, the worst thing was the smell of chemicals that turned her stomach every morning when she arrived at the Rosenberg Raincoats factory.
Gracie is a girl on the factory floor. Jacob is the boss’s charismatic nephew. When they fall in love, it seems as if the whole world is against them – especially Charlie Nuttall, who also works at the factory and has always wanted Gracie for himself.
But worse is to come when Jacob disappears and Gracie is devastated, vowing to find him. Can she solve the mystery of his whereabouts? Gracie will need all her strength and courage to find a happy ending.

My thoughts...


Oh my this story really touched my heart and had me reaching for the tissues on a number of occasions. The story is laced with a heartbreaking and beautiful love story that captured my attention from the opening page and I was drawn into a world of yearning and devotion amidst the backdrop of World War II. 

Gracie's story is simply beautiful and I found myself reading with baited breath at the love and emotion she felt for Jacob. Their relationship faced many difficulties but their commitment to one another remained strong and undeterred. I particularly loved the Shakespearean echoes that sounded in the background to highlight and draw similarities to our star crossed lovers standing centre stage in this narrative.

I could talk all day about how much I loved this book but I don't want to spoil the reading experience by giving away any hints or spoilers....I will just say it is a book not to be missed in the slightest but don't forget the tissues. The Girl in the Pink Raincoat is a gift of a story that I know will stay with me for many years to come by how much it has moved me. I'm very much looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Read and reviewed with kind permission by Aria.



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About the author...

Alrene Hughes grew up in Belfast and has lived in Manchester for most of her adult life. She worked for British Telecom and the BBC before training as an English teacher. After teaching for twenty years, she retired and now writes full-time. 

Friday, 19 April 2019

Book review: Rachel's Pudding Pantry by Caroline Roberts




Step inside Rachel's Pudding Pantry, a place where love, laughter and scrumptious bakes bring everyone together.


Cosy and uplifting – a real treat!’ Debbie Johnson
‘Family, friendships, farming and fabulous food. The Pudding Pantry is perfect!’ Sunday Times bestseller Heidi Swain
Primrose Farm is Rachel’s very own slice of heaven. Come rain or shine there’s always a pot of tea brewing by the Aga, the delicious aroma of freshly baked puddings, and a chorus of happy memories drifting through the kitchen.
 
But the farm is in a spot of trouble. As the daffodils spring, Rachel must plant the seeds of change if she wants to keep the farm afloat, and it’s all resting on a crazy plan. She’ll need one family cook book, her Mum Jill’s baking magic – and a reason to avoid her distractingly gorgeous neighbour, Tom . . .
 
Swapping their wellies for aprons, can Rachel and Jill bake their way into a brighter future? The proof will be in the pudding!



My thoughts...


Wow I feel like I have gained half a stone reading this book with all the deliciously delectable puddings gracing the pages of this gorgeous book.....I swear I could smell the toffee, chocolate and ginger aromas as I turned the pages - it was simply devine.

This comforting story is set against a farming backdrop complete with baby lambs and a wayward Aberdeen Angus bull leading his ladies astray. I fell in love with this book from the opening paragraph and despite being currently surrounded by a Carribbean setting, I found I couldn't stop reading even for a moment.

You can't help but fall head over heels for the characters that are in residence in Primrose Farm. The four generations of women were a joy to meet complete with quirks and characteristics to add sprinkles of magic to this story. Maisy was my all time favourite I must say....this five year old going on fifteen was a gorgeous little lady who stole each and every scene she was in and truly made this book something special.

Rachel's Pudding Pantry is everything it says on the tin......a delicious mix of family and love with a generous serving of sweet treats on the side. Well done Caroline on yet another fabulous book. I'm now off in search of a huge slice of cake before I start nibbling on the corner of this stunning book.....but if you have yet to grab a copy of this book then what are you waiting for? This is definitely one story you don't want to miss out on.

Read and reviewed with kind permission by Harper Impulse.

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About the Author...


Caroline Roberts lives in the wonderful Northumberland countryside with her husband and credits the sandy beaches, castles and rolling hills around her as inspiration for her writing. She enjoys writing about relationships; stories of love, loss and family, which explore how beautiful and sometimes complex love can be. A slice of cake, glass of bubbly and a cup of tea would make her day – preferably served with friends! She believes in striving for your dreams, which led her to a publishing deal after many years of writing.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Book review: The House on Rosebank Lane by Millie Gray




The House on Rosebank Lane by Millie Gray


About the book...

Leith, 1953. Kirsten Mowat, eighteen years old and with a joyful spring in her step, couldn't be more in love with her sea-faring sweetheart Duncan Armstrong. But, seven years later after a hasty wedding, a twist of lies and wrenching loss Duncan and Kirsten's relationship has faded to tatters. When those closest to her turn their backs, Kirsten alone, with a young family to care for must gather all her spirit and strength if they are to survive. From much-loved Millie Gray, The House on Rosebank Lane is an Edinburgh story of families entwined, of sorrow and hopefulness . . . and of a young mother's love for her children and a transforming quest for happiness.



My thoughts...

I must admit I did not expect to encounter such a gripping dramatic story hiding behind the cover of this book....I was hooked in an instant and couldn't put it down for even one moment. The writing was captivating and I was pulled into a world of struggle and survival.

Kirsten's story is a powerful example of finding inner strength and spirit at your darkest moment. She was an instantly likeable character and I was rooting for her every step of the way as the narrative played out. The remaining characters were created with such vivid realness which together composed a story of pure grit and heart that had me turning the pages in a reading frenzy.

The House on Rosebank Lane is an all consuming rollercoaster of a ride that left me breathless and reaching for the tissues. I wholeheartedly recommend this book and urge you all to add it to your tbr piles immediately. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what this author brings to the table in the future.


Read and reviewed with kind permission by Black and White Publishing.



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About the Author...



Millie Gray is a writer and professional storyteller. Her humorous plays attract audiences from all over Scotland and she is much in demand to do workshops and talks about her work. Millie Gray was born and raised in Leith and lives in Edinburgh.