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.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Review - The Huntress by Kate Quinn

The Huntress by Kate Quinn
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Release date: 18 April 2019
Back cover blurb: On the icy edge of Soviet Russia, bold and reckless Nina Markova joins the infamous Night Witches – an all-female bomber regiment. But when she is downed behind enemy lines, Nina must use all her wits to survive her encounter with a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress. British war correspondent Ian Graham abandons journalism to become a Nazi hunter, yet one target eludes him: the Huntress. And Nina Markova is the only witness to escape her alive. In post-war Boston, seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride is increasingly disquieted by the soft-spoken German widow who becomes her new stepmother. Delving into her past, Jordan slowly realizes that a Nazi killer may be hiding in plain sight. Shining a light on a shadowy corner of history, The Huntress is an epic, sweeping Second World War novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network.

The Huntress is possibly my favourite historical fiction novel of 2019. It is a beautifully written, well researched novel that blends some historical fact with fiction and links the unlikeliest of characters together.

In the aftermath of WWII, in the US, Jordan McBride is an aspiring photographer, wishing her widowed Father would find love again so that he wasn't so lonely. Her wishes are granted when he brings home a beautiful german woman, who is also a widow.

Across the ocean in Europe, Ian Graham, former British War correspondant is now a Nazi hunter, determined to bring those to justice who have so far evaded capture. He and his partner Tony and doing important work, and every Nazi bought to trial is a victory, but one continuously disturbs Ian, as she was responsible for the death of his brother among others.

The female in question is 'Die Jagerin', a cold blooded killer, responsible for some truly atrocious crimes, even by Nazi standards. She has left little or not trace of her whereabouts, and Ian is desperate to see her caught and bought to justice, and not just for his family, but for all those who have suffered at her hands.

Nina Markova is a former member of the Night Witches, an all female night bomber unit. She is one of the few left alive who can identify Die Jagerin, as she survived an encounter with her. As determined as Ian to bring her to justice, she begins working with them in the hope that together they will find her.

After many false leads they end up in the USA. Uncertain if they will find what they are looking for, they go about their daily work and are led to Jordan's Fathers Antiques shop, where an old man is working, believed to be forging documents.

They know he is not the person that the are after, but another Nazi criminal off the streets is another victory for the team. And their final victory may be closer than they think...

The Huntress 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.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Review - Renia's Diary by Renia Spiegel

Renia's Diary by Renia Spiegel
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Release date: 19 September 2019
Back cover blurb:  July 15, 1942, Wednesday. Remember this day; remember it well. You will tell generations to come. Since 8 o’clock today we have been shut away in the ghetto. I live here now. The world is separated from me and I’m separated from the world. Renia is a young girl who dreams of becoming a poet. But Renia is Jewish, she lives in Poland and the year is 1939. When Russia and Germany invade her country, Renia's world shatters. Separated from her mother, her life takes on a new urgency as she flees Przemysl to escape night bombing raids, observes the disappearances of other Jewish families and, finally, witnesses the creation of the ghetto. But alongside the terror of war, there is also great beauty, as she begins to find her voice as a writer and falls in love for the first time. She and the boy she falls in love with, Zygmunt, share their first kiss a few hours before the Nazis reach her hometown. And it is Zygmunt who writes the final, heartbreaking entry in Renia’s diary. Recently rediscovered after seventy years, Renia’s Diary is already being described as a classic of Holocaust literature. Written with a clarity and skill that is reminiscent of Anne Frank, Renia's Diary also includes a prologue and epilogue by Renia's sister Elizabeth, as well as an introduction by Deborah E. Lipstadt, author of Denial. It is an extraordinary testament to both the horrors of war, and to the life that can exist even in the darkest times.

Renia's diary is a difficult book for me to review. Not because of it's subject matter (although this does of course at times make for uncomfortable reading), but because of the way it is mostly written. 

Of course Renia was not writing her diary to be read by others, but readers looking for something similar to other Holocaust/WWII diaries, may be disappointed.

So, I feel the need to talk about the diary format - it is obvious from the title that the book is 'Renia's Diary. However, much of the novel is about Renia's school life, love life and poetry, there is barely any reference to the horrors of the world around her, and that left me a little disappointed.

I'd go so far as to say, it is not quite the novel I was anticipating it to be.

However, it is an important book, and one that should be read. The final pages in particular do give the reader a little more insight in Renia's fate (although these were not written by Renia herself). 

Renia is visiting her grandparents when WWII breaks out. Her Mother and Father are far away, and it is impossible for them to reunite due to the volatile situation in Poland. It is 1939 and Renia is fourteen.

Throughout the next few years, until Renia reaches Eighteen, we are taken on a very personal journeu with her. This book may not be for all, but it is an important part of history nonetheless.

Renia's Diary is available from 19 September 2019.
You can pre-order it 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. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Blog Tour [Review] & Giveaway!!! - Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks

Today I am delighted to be re-posting my review as part of the official blog tour for Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks. I also have a copy of this amazing copy to give away, thanks to Adele's publishers!!

Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks
Publisher: HQ
Release date: 5 September 2019
Back cover blurb: Daisy and Simon’s marriage is great, isn’t it? After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. A happy little family of three. And so what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes – Daisy’s used to it, she knows he’s letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And that happy little family of three will never be the same again. In Lies Lies Lies Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks explores the darkest corners of a relationship in freefall in a mesmerising tale of marriage and secrets.

Lies, Lies, Lies, we all tell them, don’t we? Those little white ones when we want to get out of doing something, or are late for something, but don't want to reveal the reason why. Perhaps we are planning a surprise for a loved one ... or perhaps we are hiding something more complicated.

For some of us have much bigger secrets, and therefore much bigger lies to tell.

Lies of course, aren't always meant to deceive, and are sometimes told to shield those we love from getting hurt. The trouble with lies is that, you almost always get found out, and usually this brings more pain and hurt than you intended by shielding the truth in the first place.

Meet Simon and Daisy, a happily married couple, with a gorgeous 6 year old daughter Millie. 

Daisy is happy with her lot, but Simon believes that they should try for another child to 'complete' their family. A trip to the fertility clinic, is one that Daisy doesn't really want to make, but she loves her husband, so decides to go along with it. To us the reader, this is the start of their happy marriage beginning to deteriorate.

Simon isn't always easy to live with. He is what is probably known as a 'functioning alcoholic', but this novel makes us question whether or not such a thing is even possible. After the trip to the clinic, Simon's drinking becomes steadily worse, but Daisy isn't worried, she knows how to handle it. Even if she doesn't like it.

That is until one night at a party that Daisy doesn't even want to go to. Their perfect lives suddenly spiral out of control and are changed forever, in a way that no one could have foreseen.

Lies Lies Lies is told in alternate points of view, and includes some familiar characters to fans to Adele's earlier novels. Not all that likeable, but all real and relatable, you will care about them, and their fate,whether you believe you should or not.

Regular readers of my blog will know, that I am a huge Adele Parks fan, but even I think she has surpassed herself with this novel. It is nothing short of amazing, and I will be recommending it to everyone!

Lies, Lies, Lies is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

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


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Thanks to Adele and HQ for allowing me to participate in the blog tour.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Review - I Spy Bletchley Park by George Stratford

I Spy Bletchley Park by George Stratford
Publisher: Croybourne Publishing
Release date: 13 November 2018
Back cover blurb: Bletchley Park in Peril. Deeply embittered by the government’s seizure of her financially ruined father’s Buckinghamshire estate, Lady Margaret Pugh swears revenge on all those in Westminster. With World War II looming, Hermann Goering then makes her an irresistible offer if she will agree to spy for him. Before long, the many curious comings and goings at nearby Bletchley Park capture Margaret’s attention. And as she starts putting all of the pieces together, so Britain’s most vital war secret becomes increasingly in peril of a devastating bombing raid. In response to this suspected threat, a young working-class WAAF is thrust untrained into the world of counter-espionage. Thanks to a prodigious musical talent, Betty Hall is uniquely placed to infiltrate Margaret's private life. But matters suddenly escalate, and the fate of Bletchley Park soon hangs entirely on Betty becoming ever more deeply and dangerously involved. With countless lives at stake, two most determined women find themselves fighting a very private war.

From the moment we meet Lady Margaret Pugh, it is clear that she is ambitious, but ambition can be a very dangerous thing, particularly in war time, as she is about to discover.

Betty Hall is a young working class WAAF with an exceptional talent who finds herself in a secretive job role at Bletchley Park.

Betty’s life is about as far removed from Margaret's privileged upbringing as it is possible to be, but her love of music and talent as a pianist bring her into Margaret’s world.

The trouble is that Margaret’s world is nothing like Betty imagined. A life of privilege and ambition, riddled with wartime espionage. And it is this espionage that brings Margaret to the attention of Betty’s colleagues at Bletchley who suggest that she may wish to try a little espionage of her own to help the war effort.

Betty quickly realises she is out of her depth, but she signed up to help the war effort, and is not about to let her inexperience, naivety or a little thing like friendship stop her from helping her country. War is dangerous, and sometimes you must put yourself in danger to help others.

I Spy Bletchley Park is a novel with a very different perspective of  WW2 and one I would highly recommend.

I Spy Bletchley Park is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to lovereading.co.uk who sent me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.