Saturday, 16 November 2019

[Blog tour] Review - The Name Beneath the Stone by Robert Newcome

The Name Beneath the Stone by Robert Newcome
Publisher: Unicorn Publishing
Release date: 23 September 2019
Back cover blurb: Three generations, one family, connected by an historic secret. 1917 – Private Daniel Dawkins fights at Messines Ridge and Passchendaele. He writes home to his true-love Joyce, but reveals little of his extreme bravery, his kindness, his loyalty to his comrades and the horrors they experience on the Western Front. 1920 – Captain Peter Harding is tasked with a secret mission to assist in the selection of a body dug up from the battlefields of Flanders to be buried in Westminster Abbey as the 'Unknown Warrior'. Events take place on that expedition that come to haunt him for the rest of his life. 2011 – Sarah Harding discovers Daniel’s letters and Peter’s diaries. Together with historian James Marchant she pieces together the hidden truth behind the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and must decide what to do with it. Values are challenged and characters are tested in this gripping novel which asks ‘what if the identity of the Unknown Soldier was discovered - and should that secret ever be revealed?

The Name Beneath the Stone is a novel that focuses on three periods in time; 1917, 1920 and 2011.

1920 - The novel opens with the ceremony to intern the 'Unknown Warrior' to Westminster Abbey. It's significance as the first 'tomb of the unknown soldier' is not yet realised, and those involved, although aware they are doing something important, do not realise just how important it will become.

2011 - Sarah Harding is going through her dying Father's things when she comes across some letters addressed to her late Grandmother Joyce from a man named Daniel. But Daniel is not the name of her late Grandfather.

Sarah has known for some time that Peter Harding is not her paternal Grandfather, but her Father has never mentioned the name Daniel to her, until he is on his death bed and can barely speak. He refers to the 'Unknown Soldier' and this raises many more questions for Sarah than just simply 'who is Daniel?'.

1917 - Daniel Dawkins is on the front line, trying to keep his comrades going in their darkest times with his brilliant wit and sparkling personality. But in truth he is desperately missing home and his beloved school sweetheart Joyce.

Three different times periods, three very different characters, each of them dealing with their own battles in difficult times. I don’t want to say too much more and give anything away, so I’ll leave it there. 

The Name Beneath the Stone is an incredibly well research and beautifully written novel. It holds important historical significance and is highly recommended.

The Name Beneath the Stone is available now via Amazon online and all good retailers.
Thank You to Bookollective who sent me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour:

Friday, 1 November 2019

Review - Seven Days by Alex Lake

Seven Days by Alex Lake
Harper Collins UK
Release date: 10 October 2019
Back cover blurb: SEVEN DAYS UNTIL HER CHILD IS TAKEN. SEVEN DAYS TO SAVE HIM. In seven days, Maggie’s son, Max, turns three. But she’s not planning a party or buying presents or updating his baby book. She’s dreading it. Because in her world, third birthdays are the days on which the unthinkable happens… she loses her child. For the last twelve years Maggie has been imprisoned in a basement. Abducted aged fifteen, she gave birth to two sons before Max, and on their third birthdays her captor came and took them from her. She cannot let it happen again. But she has no idea how to stop it. And the clock is ticking…

Seven Days is another gripping novel from Alex Lake.

Maggie is a prisoner trapped in a stranger's basement. Captured as a teenager, and now in her twenties, Maggie longs for the world she hasn't seen for so long, but she knows that nothing will ever be the same for her again.

Life has changed beyond recognition for Maggie.

Not only has she been held against her will, but she has also been raped against her will, many times.

She is now counting down the days to her son Max's third birthday, but not so that they can celebrate (Maggie has nothing to give her son, even if she wanted to), but so she can ensure his safety.

Maggie has had children in captivity before, but when they have reached their third birthday they have been taken away from her, and Maggie has never seen them again.

She is determined that Max will not suffer the same fate.

We also see events from Maggie's family's perspective, from the harrowing days when she first went missing, to them trying to get on with their lives years later. Their struggles are as real and as painful as Maggie's.

Seven Days is a novel that will stay with you after it's final chapters, and I think the author's best so far!

Seven Days is available now Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review - The Lying Room by Nicci French

The Lying Room by Nicci French
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
Release date: 3 October 2019
Back cover blurb: Neve Connolly looks down at a murdered man. She doesn't call the police. ‘You know, it’s funny,’ Detective Inspector Hitching said. ‘Whoever I see, they keep saying, talk to Neve Connolly, she’ll know. She’s the one people talk to, she’s the one people confide in.’ A trusted colleague and friend. A mother. A wife. Neve Connolly is all these things. She has also made mistakes; some small, some unconsciously done, some large, some deliberate. She is only human, after all. But now one mistake is spiralling out of control and Neve is bringing those around her into immense danger. She can’t tell the truth. So how far is she prepared to go to protect those she loves? And who does she really know? And who can she trust? A liar. A cheat. A threat. Neve Connolly is all these things. Could she be a murderer?

The Lying Room promised to be another amazing Nicci French novel, sadly this one fell a little short of expectations for me. But maybe I have them set too high!

Neve Connolly is going to meet her lover for an unexpected early morning tryst, when she discovers his body. She doesn't call the Police immediately as she was there the night before, and her DNA is bound to be all over the place.

As shocked as she is by his murder, she doesn't want their illicit affair to be uncovered, and so she destroys all the evidence she can before alerting the authorities of his death.

Such behaviour is totally out of character for Neve.

Neve is someone that everyone turns to. Everyone trusts her, wants to confide in her, be her friend. But Neve doesn't feel like that woman anymore, and isn't sure that she ever will be again.

Neve's conscious decision to try and cover up her affair, unwittingly leads her into making a series of further ill judged decisions that could change her life forever.

I can't say too much more, as I don't want to give anything away. This is a well written novel, in places I just felt it was a little unbelievable. But maybe that was part of the point. Neve, after all is an ordinary woman, in the midst of extraordinary circumstances.

The Lying Room is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Review - the Understudy by Sophie Hannah, Clare Mackintosh, B.A. Paris and Holly Brown

The Understudy by Sophie Hannah, Clare Mackintosh, B.A. Paris and Holly Brown
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release date: 3 October 2019
Back cover blurb: HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO PROTECT YOUR DAUGHTER? Carolyn, Bronnie, Elise, and Kendall are bound together by one thing - their four daughters are best friends at the highly competitive Orla Flynn Academy for the Performing Arts. Imogen Curwood is a new girl at the Academy and her behaviour is odd from the start. On the day she arrives, bad things start to happen. As one threatening incident follows another, the four mothers begin to ask themselves: are their girls in danger? When an attempted murder rocks the school, Imogen is pleased to report that she has an alibi. If she isn't the guilty party, someone else must be. Carolyn, Bronnie, Elise and Kendall are determined to uncover the truth and protect their daughters. But are they prepared to risk their own secrets being exposed?

The Understudy is the first collaborative novel that I've read in a long time. Written by four amazing authors, I had been looking forward to it's release for a while, and I wasn't disappointed.

Carolyn, Bronnie, Elise and Kendall are four very different women, with only one thing in common; each of their daughters attends the Orla Flynn Academy for the Performing Arts, and wants to be a star.

Unfortunately is it impossible for all four girls to get the female lead role in the academy's productions and this causes natural rivalry and jealousy amongst the girls (and the parents). 

In the opening chapters of 'the Understudy', we learn that the previous academic year was difficult for two of the girls, one's natural talent far outshone the others limited ability and caused some rather nasty bullying.

In the present day, things seem to be ironed out between them, the error of their ways learnt, and reluctant apologies accepted. But then a new student arrives, and old insecurities and jealousies arise once more.

One Mother calls for the exclusion of one of the students, but she is adamant that it wasn't her. The finger points to the new girl, but what could she possibly have to gain, when she doesn't know the other girl's history. As incidents escalate and no-one is found guilty, the girl's mothers must all pull together.

The majority of the characters in this novel are not particularly likeable, but I think that is intentional on the authors' behalf. They do not want, or need our sympathy, they just need to figure out what the hell is going on!

The Understudy is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Review - The Confession by Jessie Burton

The Confession by Jessie Burton
Publisher: Picador
Release date: 19 September 2019
Back cover blurb: The sensational new novel from the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse. One winter's afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to LA, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world where everyone is reaching for the stars and no one is telling the truth, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever. Three decades later, Rose Simmons is seeking answers about her mother, who disappeared when she was a baby. Having learned that the last person to see her was Constance Holden, a reclusive novelist who withdrew from public life at the peak of her fame, Rose is drawn to the door of Connie's imposing house in search of a confession . . . From the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse, this is a luminous, powerful and deeply moving novel about secrets and storytelling, motherhood and friendship, and how we lose and find ourselves.

The Confession is another beautifully written novel by Jessie Burton. It centres on the lives of three very different women, Elise, Constance and Rose.and spans two timelines; the 1980's and the present day.

1980's London; a chance meeting with novelist Constance (Connie) Holden leads Elise Morceau into a thrilling world of authors, publishers, film studios and the Hollywood elite. Elise although happy at being in LA with Connie, starts to feel out of her depth, she is constantly reassured by Connie, until one night an overheard conversation changes everything.

In the present day Rose is visiting her Father, when everything changes.

Rose's Mother, Elise left when Elise was a baby. Seemingly disappearing without a trace. It is something that her family don't talk about and she has always been reasonably happy with her lot. Until her Father mentions Elise out of the blue, and Rose decides she must know the truth.

When she learns that Constance Holden was the last person to see Elise, Rose decides that she must meet her and attempt to uncover the truth surrounding her Mother's disappearance.

What starts out as a simple plan, quickly becomes a tangled web of secrets and lies, and Rose must tread carefully if she is to learn anything at all. Although they do not know each other Elise and Rose are very similar, and I think it would have been interesting to explore their relationship further.

Maybe a sequel could be on the cards, I would love to know what the future holds for these characters...

The Confession is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Review - The Women at Hitler's table by Rosella Postorino

The Women at Hitler's table by Rosella Postorino
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Release date: 1 August 2019
Back cover blurb: Inspired by the powerful true story of Margot Wölk, this is a heartbreaking and gripping historical novel for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Beekeeper of Aleppo. East Prussia, 1943. Hitler hides away in the Wolfsshanze – his hidden headquarters. The tide is turning in the war and his enemies circle ever closer. Ten women are chosen. Ten women to taste his food and protect him from poison. Twenty-six-year-old Rosa has lost everything to this war. Her parents are dead. Her husband is fighting on the front line. Alone and scared, she faces the SS with nothing but the knowledge every bite might be her last. Caught on the wrong side of history, how far is Rosa willing to go to survive?

The Women at Hitler's table is an important historical fiction novel. For it focuses on a wartime 'role' that is not well publicised at all. Of course, it probably is known that Hitler had tasters to test his food in case of poisoning by enemies. but I'm not sure it's so well known that these testers were Women.

Loosely based on the life Margot Wölk; one of Hitler's food testers, this novel focuses on the fictional Rosa Sauer. Rosa is living with her in-laws for barely a week when the knock on the door comes. SS officers, informing her that she is required to start work the next day with the words 'The Führer needs you'.

Rosa admittedly has 'never been a good German' and has no idea why she has been chosen, but she must accept her fate if she is continue to survive the War. And of course, when people are hungry due to rationing, it is not exactly a bad job.

Unless you consider the fact that if anyone does attempt to poison Hitler, then you could die...

Rosa and her fellow chosen women try not to think about this too much. Indeed, apart from some mild hysteria on the very first day of testing (quickly shut down by the SS guards in the food hall) the women seem to enjoy each others company and the role that they have been given.

They get to know each other well, and look out for each other. Sometimes a little too much. For Rosa has a secret. One that she cannot tell anyone. If anyone ever finds out, then she will endanger their lives as well as her own.

In times of war, we all make decisions that we may not make in other, more usual circumstances, and Rosa must decide if hers is worth the risk. Or if she should learn to be a 'good German' ...

The Women at Hitler's Table is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request in exchange for an honest review.