Tuesday 28 December 2021

The Wrecking Storm (Thomas Tallant Mysteries Book 2) - Michael Ward



The poisonous dispute pushing King Charles and Parliament towards Civil War is reaching the point of no return.

Law and order in the city are collapsing as Puritan radicals demand more concessions from the King. Bishops and lords are attacked in the streets as the Apprentice Boys run amok. Criminal gangs use the disorder to mask their activities while the people of London lock their doors and pray for deliverance.

No one is immune from the contagion. Two Jesuit priests are discovered in hiding and brutally executed - and soon the family of spice merchant Thomas Tallant is drawn into the spiral of violence. Tallant's home is ransacked, his warehouse raided and his sister seized by kidnappers.

Thomas struggles to discover who is responsible, aided by the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour, a devotee of science, maths and tobacco in equal measure. Together they enter a murky world of court politics, street violence, secret codes and poisoned letters, and confront a vicious gang leader who will stop at nothing to satisfy his greed.

Can Elizabeth use her skills to unpick the mass of contradictory evidence before the Tallants are ruined – both as a business and a family?

And as the fight for London between King and Parliament hurtles to its dramatic conclusion, can the Tallants survive the personal and political maelstrom?

What did I think?

The Wrecking Storm is the sequel to the outstanding historical fiction novel, Rags of Time, that I thoroughly enjoyed (you can read my review here).  Whilst you could read the The Wrecking Storm as a standalone, I'd recommend reading the Thomas Tallant Mysteries in order to fully understand the characters (and also because Rags of Time is a mighty fine read).

Michael Ward effortlessly weaves real history into his fictional story so you get a little history lesson as well as a fast-paced mystery and adventure.  If you read historical fiction, you'll know that it's rarely considered fast-paced but somehow The Wrecking Storm is just that and I read it over a period of 48 hours; it's so difficult to put it down once you pick it up.

The scene is painted so vividly that I felt fully immersed in the dangerous and dirty 17th century streets of London.  England is on the brink of Civil War and my kindle was virtually vibrating with the underlying tension of the population that came across beautifully in the wonderfully descriptive writing.  

I'm purposefully avoiding mentioning the fantastic storyline so I don't inadvertently reveal any spoilers, suffice to say it's a good 'un!  There's actually quite a lot going on in the book which kept me entertained and enthralled from beginning to end.

Filled with danger, tension, suspicion and adventure, The Wrecking Storm is a fast-paced mystery and historical fiction of the highest quality.  So very highly recommended and I'm already looking forward to the next book in the series.

Many thanks to Michael Ward for sending me a digital ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Wednesday 22 December 2021

The Stars Will Shine Again: Helping Our Heroes One Page at A Time - Various Authors, edited by Emma Mitchell

The Stars Will Shine Again is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.

With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty crimes that will shake you to your core, magic and mystery, and heart-warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.

From authors such as Malcolm Hollingdrake, Tony Forder, Val Portelli, and Andrew Barrett, and several debut authors, including Sarah Hardy and Yvonne Bastian, you are in for one heck of a ride.

The Stars Will Shine Again is the perfect Christmas gift for the bookworms in your life.

A Note from Emma Mitchell:

As the blurb tells us, The Stars Will Shine Again is a multi-genre collection of short stories compiled to raise money for our armed forces and every penny made from the sales of both the digital and paperback copies will be donated to the charity Help for Heroes. Covid has made fundraising a difficult job for everyone, so it’s an honour to able to do something like this and I’m thankful to everyone involved. With huge thanks going once again to Amanda Horan for her support and fabulous cover design. You can find her at Let’s Get Booked.

I’ve picked the best of the submissions to bring you a thrilling book which is perfect for dipping into at lunchtime or snuggling up with on a cold winter’s night. I have been completely blown away by the support from the writing and blogging community, especially the authors who submitted stories and bloggers who have been so generous with their time to help advertise and spread the word.

There isn’t a person in the country who hasn’t benefited from the sacrifices our troops, past and present, have made for us and they all deserve our thanks.

It has been an honour working on these stories, and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have.

What did I think?

What a cracking little anthology!  There are lots of charity anthologies around at the moment and there's no easier or better way to support charities than by buying a book.  Help for Heroes is already a charity I support so it was my absolute pleasure to read and review this wonderful collection.

This book is filled with superb short stories, written by authors you may know and some names you may recognise from the book blogging community.  Each and every story is of amazingly high quality and I couldn't pick a favourite out from among them, although I have picked out a few authors to add to my watch list.

It's quite a quick read at only 261 pages, and you can dip in and out of it as the mood takes you or read it cover to cover in one sitting.  However you choose to read it, I can guarantee that you will enjoy every minute of it.  

I really must applaud Emma Mitchell for giving up some of her valuable time to organise and edit this fabulous collection.  With every penny made from the sale of each book being donated to such a worthy cause as Help for Heroes, I really can't recommend this book highly enough.

Many thanks to Emma Mitchell for sending me a digital ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Saturday 18 December 2021

The Turn of The Tide (The Sturmtaucher Trilogy Book 3) - Alan Jones

The Turn of the Tide is the third book in the Sturmtaucher Trilogy: a powerful and compelling story of two families torn apart by evil.

As Hitler's greed turns eastwards to the fertile and oil rich Soviet heartlands, life for the Kästner and the Nussbaum families disintegrates and fragments as the Nazis tighten the noose on German and Polish Jews. Implementing Endlösung der Judenfrage, the ‘Final Solution to the Jewish Problem’, Hitler, Himmler, Heydrich and Eichmann plan to have Germany, and Europe, Judenrein, ‘cleansed of Jews’.

General Erich Kästner, increasingly alone, fights a losing battle to protect his friends, and their fellow Jews, putting himself and his family in jeopardy.

As the tide of war turns, he looks anxiously to the Soviets in the east, and to the Western Allies, desperately hoping, despite his patriotism, that Germany is defeated before there are no Jews left in the countries occupied by the Third Reich.

When an assassination attempt on Hitler and his henchmen fails, Erich Kästner himself comes under the scrutiny of the Gestapo, and his own survival, and that of his family, becomes uncertain.

As the war draws to an end, with Germany in ruins, time is running out for the Kästners and the Nussbaums…

What did I think?

The Turn of the Tide is the stunning conclusion to the magnificent Sturmtaucher Trilogy that I have lived and breathed for the past few months.  Even when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it and now that I’ve finished it, I’ll never forget it.  It's an epic novel that took me around 20 hours to read and I simultaneously wanted to devour it quickly and savour it slowly. I opted for savouring as this is a story that’s not to be rushed. 

Although you could read The Turn of the Tide as a standalone, you really do need to read the books in order to fully appreciate the rich depth of character and the history behind the families in the book.  I can't even begin to describe this breathtaking novel but it's a story that completely consumed me as I experienced all the trials and tribulations along with each character.  I'm not ashamed to say that I cried several times, especially as the novel drew to a close, but whilst the story is terribly harrowing it's also hopeful and uplifting as the characters show strength, tenacity and resilience against pure evil.

The research that must have gone into this novel is mindblowing and Alan Jones must have dedicated a significant number of years gathering information and sifting through details.  Although the characters are fictional, it's still shocking to think that this is real history and it only happened 80 years ago.  It is a period of history that should never be forgotten and Alan Jones has played a massive part in ensuring that 'the final solution' is never wiped from our memories. 

Each book in this trilogy is an absolute masterpiece and for an author to write three books of such consistently high quality is incredible.   Alan Jones deserves every accolade that is coming his way and I can't see anybody honestly rating this book less than five stars - I would give it more if I could.  I don’t do top 10 books of the year anymore but if I did, I can guarantee that all three books of this superb trilogy would be fighting for the top spot.

Historical fiction at its absolute finest, The Turn of the Tide and the complete trilogy are simply not to be missed.  A masterpiece and an absolute triumph!

I really can't thank Alan Jones enough for sending me a digital ARC to read and review as no review I write could ever do it justice.  This is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Monday 6 December 2021

BLOG TOUR: Silenced - Jennie Ensor

A teenage girl is murdered on her way home from school, stabbed through the heart. Her North London community is shocked, but no-one has the courage to help the police, not even her mother. DI Callum Waverley, in his first job as senior investigating officer, tries to break through the code of silence that shrouds the case.

This is a world where the notorious Skull Crew rules through fear. Everyone knows you keep your mouth shut or you’ll be silenced – permanently.

This is Luke’s world. Reeling from the loss of his mother to cancer, his step-father distant at best, violent at worst, he slides into the Skull Crew’s grip.

This is Jez’s world too. Her alcoholic mother neither knows nor cares that her 16-year-old daughter is being exploited by V, all-powerful leader of the gang.

Luke and Jez form a bond. Can Callum win their trust, or will his own demons sabotage his investigation? And can anyone stop the Skull Crew ensuring all witnesses are silenced?

Silenced is the compelling and gritty new thriller by British author Jennie Ensor. A gripping story of love, fear and betrayal, it’s Romeo and Juliet for our troubled times. 

What did I think?

Wow!  This book is fantastic!  I love Jennie Ensor's books so I already knew that Silenced was going to be good, but I didn't expect it to completely blow my socks off.  The writing is sublime, the plot is breathtaking and it's a book I will never forget.

The opening pages are shocking and disturbing when a teenage girl is murdered in broad daylight.  Everyone knows who did it, but nobody is willing to speak up for fear of ending up in a body bag.  The police investigation stalls as everywhere they turn they hit a brick wall of silence.  The gang's reach is far and wide and they continue to trap vulnerable youngsters in their web but DI Callum Waverley refuses to give up, even when he finds himself in the gang's crosshairs.  

Told from various viewpoints, the reader is immersed in London's gangland and it's a very dark but poignant read.  Seeing vulnerable children being groomed and drawn into crime is heartbreaking.  The gang know precisely what they're doing: preying on children who are craving the love and attention they aren't getting at home.  It's frightening when you realise that this amazing novel is so very true to life and it's clear that it has been meticulously researched.

Dark, disturbing and frighteningly realistic, Silenced is an absolute tour de force.  I raced through this haunting and devastating novel that gripped me from the very first page.  I wholeheartedly recommend it; it's a stunning novel that is not to be missed.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Friday 3 December 2021

The Replacement - Melanie Golding

When a small child is found wandering alone, the local shopkeepers call the authorities immediately. Twenty minutes later, the girl’s mother turns up, panicked and distraught. It doesn't take long to clear things up, and mother and daughter are soon reunited and sent on their way.

Miles away, the body of a man is discovered, floating in a bathtub, but the most surprising discovery of all is that he isn't dead. Despite his injuries, he is very much alive.

Two seemingly unrelated events. But as DS Harper begins to investigate, disturbing truths start to come to light that connect the man to the mother and child, and suddenly it’s not clear where the danger truly lies. Harper must find out, and quickly. Because someone, or something, is closing in and she needs to uncover the truth before it’s too late…

Weaving together the trademark folklore inspiration that readers loved in Little Darlings, with the procedural narrative force of a brilliant mystery, this is the excellent and unnerving new novel from Melanie Golding.

What did I think?

I absolutely loved Melanie Golding's debut, Little Darlings, so I was thrilled to bits to be chosen to take part in the Tandem Collective readalong for her new book, The Replacement.  With a mix of folklore, thriller and police procedural, this is a fast-paced read that will shock and surprise the reader and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The start of the novel is fantastic and it hooked me immediately as you know that something is not quite right and there's something darker hidden beneath the surface.  As if I wasn't hooked enough, a man is found barely clinging on to life and it's clear that it has something to do with the reunited mother and daughter.  The police investigation becomes even more intriguing when the lead investigator tries to hide her conflict of interest.  What a tangled web we must unravel...

I couldn't read fast enough to discover how events played out and Melanie Golding very cleverly misdirects the reader on several occasions so you think you have it all worked out but you really don't.  Some things didn't surprise me, as I'd read Little Darlings, but it didn't prevent me from enjoying the story.  The writing is beautiful, creating layer upon layer of intrigue that must be peeled away gradually to reveal every secret hidden within the pages.

A wonderfully dark and haunting story, The Replacement is intriguing, compelling and hugely enjoyable.  If you're looking for a crime thriller with a difference, then look no further. 

I received a gifted ARC to read and review for the readalong and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Wednesday 1 December 2021

The Midnight Child - J.A. Baker

A long-ago trauma and a family mystery may shed light on her troubled sleep—or pull her into the darkness once and for all . . .

As a child, Grace Cooper suffered from bouts of sleepwalking. Now, after the unexpected death of her husband, she’s moved back to Woodburn cottage, her childhood home—and the sleepwalking returns. It’s all stirring up dark memories—memories that involve the disappearance of her brother Simon, who vanished one night when he was a child, and the death of her father, who fell from an upstairs window.

With her mother in a care home with dementia and her sister living in a nearby village, Grace tries to settle in—but with the passage of time, the sleepwalking only becomes more regular and the blurred memories of the past only become more disturbing. Spurred on by these hazy dreamlike recollections, Grace becomes determined to find out what happened to Simon that fateful night. But digging up the past isn’t always a good idea, because you never know what skeletons you might unearth . . .

What did I think?

I love J.A. Baker's writing; all her novels are outstanding but The Midnight Child is so magnificent that it completely blew me away.  It's a dark and disturbing storyline as sleepwalking and repressed memories are explored and you have to wonder how much you can really rely on your own memory.

The depth of character is stunning, with Grace Cooper being not only the main character but one of the few characters in the book.  Concentrating on one character in this way really allows the reader to get inside her head and follow her every move.  Grace was a sleepwalker as a child and her sleepwalking returns when she moves back into the family home, the home from which Grace's brother Simon mysteriously disappeared.  You can almost feel the secrets buried deep in the walls, just bursting to get out!  I certainly couldn't read fast enough to discover everything about Simon's disappearance.

I also have to mention Grace's mother who is suffering from dementia.  Although heartbreaking to read about this devastating condition, J. A. Baker writes so sensitively and honestly that I really must applaud her skill.  I can't even begin to imagine the effect that dementia has on the sufferer and their loved ones but I got a glimpse of it in this stunning book.

Ominous and tense, The Midnight Child is like a simmering pot, constantly threatening to boil over the minute you take your eyes off it.  I couldn't tear my eyes away from the page as I raced towards the absolutely breathtaking conclusion.  I can always rely on J.A. Baker to shock and surprise me and The Midnight Child did just that.  An outstanding and highly recommended novel.

I received a digital ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Friday 26 November 2021

BLOG TOUR: Dead Mercy (Maggie Jamieson thriller, Book 5) - Noelle Holten

‘Hugely confident … harrowing, visceral … recommended’ Ian Rankin on Dead Inside

A brutal murder…
When a burned body is found with its teeth missing, DC Maggie Jamieson discovers that the victim may be the husband of one of her probation colleagues.

A dark history…
As the body count rises, the team becomes increasingly baffled by how the victims could possibly be connected until a clue leads them to a historical case that was never prosecuted.

A terrible secret…
In order to catch the killer, Maggie must piece together what happened all those years ago before it’s too late.

What did I think?

This book is fantastic!  I've loved every single book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series but Noelle Holten has really excelled herself with Dead Mercy and I think it's her best one yet.  Although Dead Mercy is book 5 in the series, you can totally read it as a standalone and any new readers of the series at this point are sure to become huge Maggie Jamieson fans.

Noelle Holten never shies away from tough subjects but they are always dealt with sensitively and realistically.  Without giving away too much of the amazing plot, Dead Mercy centres around a serial killer who is meting out justice to people who were not prosecuted in a historical abuse case.  I did sympathise with the killer as nobody should get away with any form of abuse and of course I had no idea who the killer was so it was fun to gather the clues along with Maggie and her team.

The writing is outstanding, creating levels of suspense and intrigue that kept my eyes firmly glued to the page.  The pacing is fast, the plotting is perfect and the whole book could be the subject of a crime writing masterclass.  

Dead Mercy is a dark, gripping and tense edge of your seat thriller.  It's an exceptional novel that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog. Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

Connect with Noelle on Social Media here:

Subscribe to Newsletter: http://ow.ly/cgww50BkBtt

Twitter: (@nholten40) https://twitter.com/nholten40

Bookbub Author page : https://bit.ly/2LkT4LB

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Monday 22 November 2021

The Final Shot: A 1960s London gangland thriller (Charles Holborne Legal Thrillers Book 7) - Simon Michael

Charles Holborne returns with another high-stakes case! Perfect for fans of John Grisham, Robert Bailey, Michael Connelly and Robert Dugoni.

They think it’s all over…

London, 1966

As England eagerly anticipates the World Cup Final, barrister Charles Holborne is briefed in another high-profile case.

Once a sadistic gangster, Reverend Stanley Sharpe found God while incarcerated and has run his own parish for a number of years since being released. But when he is convicted of murdering Frank Marshall, right-hand man to the Kray twins, he is sent back to prison for life.

Convinced that he is innocent, Reverend Sharpe’s wife begs Charles to apply to the Court of Appeal to reopen the case.

With his own question marks over whether Frank Marshall is really dead, Charles agrees to take the brief on.

But with the media now casting doubt over Sharpe’s redemption, Charles knows he is bound for failure unless he can find further evidence.

And to do so he must once again cross the most dangerous men in London…

THE FINAL SHOT is the seventh crime novel in an exciting historical series, the Charles Holborne Legal Thrillers — gritty, hard-boiled mysteries set in 1960s London.

What did I think?

The Final Shot is book 7 in the Charles Holborne legal thrillers series and it's written in such a way that you could definitely read it as a standalone, but I really do urge you to read the books in order as it's one of my favourite series and every single instalment is brilliant.

Set during the summer of 1966, when England is in the grip of World Cup fever and The Krays rule the shady London underworld, Charles Holborne is asked to advise on an appeal.  Stanley Sharpe gave up his life of crime to dedicate his life to the church and he is in prison for a crime he claims he did not commit.  The police have a confession from him, so why did he confess if he didn't do it?  

Charles Holborne never sees things in black and white, not when he knows the many shades of grey that lie within.  With The Krays having their fingers in many pies, nothing is ever as clear as it seems and if anyone will find out the truth, Charles will.  As well as the legal thriller side to the plot, Charles' personal life also plays a big part in the story.  Charles is no stranger to discrimination so he agrees to be shadowed by a young woman doing her pupillage.  Maria Hudson has set tongues wagging in chambers; she's female, American and black - what a shock to the system this must be in 1960's London!

Reconnected with his girlfriend Sally, Charles is in a much happier place now so it was lovely to see how his life has changed (for the better).  That's why it's worth reading the books in order as the reader becomes acquainted with Charles over the course of the series and you really do care about what happens to him.

Gripping, atmospheric and incredibly nostalgic, The Final Shot is a winner!  With the spirit of 1966 woven into the prose, I was gripped by World Cup Fever as well as the razor-sharp plot.  It's another unputdownable legal thriller from storyteller extraordinaire, Simon Michael.

I received an ARC from the author to read and review; all opinions are my own.

My rating:

Publishing on 19/01/22, pre-order now from Amazon UK

Friday 19 November 2021

Everyday Kindness: A collection of uplifting tales to brighten your day - Various Authors

Everyday Kindness is a charity anthology of short, fictional stories of kindness, edited by LJ Ross. These uplifting tales of hope and of small, everyday kindnesses are intended to support wider, positive mental health goals and foster wellbeing through the act of reading tales of goodwill inspired by others. Featuring authors across the spectrum of literature, some international bestsellers and award-winning writers amongst them, this is a unique collection of words.

All proceeds from the book will be donated to Shelter, a charity that helps millions of people a year struggling with bad housing or homelessness.

Authors include: LJ Ross, Adam Hamdy, Alex Smith, Alexander Gordon Smith, Alison Stockham, Anne O’Leary, Barbara Copperthwaite, J.D. Kirk, C.L. Taylor, Caroline Mitchell, Chris McDonald, C.K. McDonnell, Claire Sheehy, Clare Flynn, Darren O’Sullivan, David Leadbeater, Debbie Young, Deborah Carr, Emma Robinson, Graham Brack, Hannah Lynn, Heather Martin, Holly Martin, Ian Sainsbury, Imogen Clark, James Gilbert, Jane Corry, Jean Gill, J.J. Marsh, Judith O’Reilly, Kelly Clayton, Kim Nash, Leah Mercer, Liz Fenwick, Louise Beech, Louise Jensen, Louise Mumford, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Marcia Woolf, Mark Stay, Marcie Steele, Natasha Bache, Nick Jackson, Nick Quantrill, Nicky Black, Patricia Gibney, Rachel Sargeant, Rob Parker, Rob Scragg, S.E. Lynes, Shelley Day, Casey Kelleher, Sophie Hannah, Victoria Connelly, Victoria Cooke, Will Dean.

What did I think?

What a wonderful book!  There is so much warmth and compassion crammed into this superb anthology that it actually moved me to tears.  By buying a copy you'll not only get an awesome book but you'll also be helping the charity Shelter, which helps people who are homeless or are struggling with bad housing.  So although I always include buy links at the end of my review, I think it's worth adding one HERE too.

There's a very high probability that you will find at least one of your favourite authors in this collection, but you're sure to pick up one or two more along the way; I've added a lot of authors to my watch list after reading this fabulous book.  The quality of the writing is exceptional across the board and there's not one story that disappoints.  It's actually really impressive to see a lot of authors writing outside of their usual genre to create such wonderfully uplifting and compassionate stories.

Everyday Kindness is sure to leave a smile on the face of every single reader.  It's a veritable hug in a book and I certainly feel richer for having read it.  5 huge sparkly stars and a big shout out to LJ Ross for leading this magnificent project and making it happen.

I received an ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Monday 15 November 2021

Flight of the Shearwater (The Sturmtaucher Trilogy Book 2) - Alan Jones

Flight of the Shearwater: Book 2 in the Sturmtaucher Trilogy, a powerful and compelling story of two families torn apart by evil.

With Poland divided between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Union of Soviet Republics, the increasingly confident Third Reich flexes its military muscles northwards into Denmark and Norway, while the rest of Europe watches anxiously over its shoulders.

General Erich Kästner, in his key role in the Abwehr, is fast becoming aware of the mass expulsion of Jews and other minority groups from Germany and from northern Poland, to the new ghettos of the Generalgouverment area of southern Poland, and has an inkling of what the National Socialists' have in mind for Europe's Jews.

As Holland and Belgium fall, and the British are routed at Dunkirk, barely escaping across the channel, the seemingly impregnable France collapses under the Wehrmacht Blitzkrieg, sealing the fate of millions of Jews, now trapped under Hitler's rule.

The Nussbaums, thwarted in their attempts to escape to Denmark, desperately seek other routes out of Germany but, one by one, they are closed off, and they realise they have left it all too late...

What did I think?

Oh my goodness, words failed me when I turned the final page of this wonderful book; no review I write will do it justice as it is SIMPLY STUNNING!  Alan Jones may very well have written the finest historical trilogy of all time and it's not to be missed, so I'm just going to add the buy link for the series right here: BUY IT HERE!!  If you're still with me, I'll tell you what I thought.

Listed as 800 pages in length, it takes about 18 hours to read this second instalment in The Sturmtaucher Trilogy but it's well worth the time investment.  Although you could jump into the series at book 2, I would recommend reading the series in order to understand the background of the characters.  Wartime Germany and the persecution of the Jews is a difficult subject to read about and on more than one occasion I had tears in my eyes.  The characters are brought to life so vividly that I walked every step with them and I was completely invested in their wellbeing.

The Nussbaum family has tried to stay together throughout the war, despite the increasing threat to Jews in Germany.  When it becomes clear that they aren't all going to get out of Germany as a family, Yosef and Miriam make a heartbreaking decision to try to save their children, Ruth and Manny.  With the help of General Erich Kästner, the Nussbaum's employer and friend, the children must embark on a perilous journey to reach safety.

Heartbreaking, harrowing and completely compelling, Flight of the Shearwater is an exceptional piece of historical fiction.  Five stars is simply not enough and I can't wait for the final book in the trilogy to continue reading this outstanding story.

I received a digital ARC from the author to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Friday 12 November 2021

BLOG TOUR: The Red Monarch (The Brontë Mysteries Book 3) - Bella Ellis

The Brontë sisters' first poetry collection has just been published, potentially marking an end to their careers as amateur detectors, when Anne receives a letter from her former pupil Lydia Robinson.

Lydia has eloped with a young actor, Harry Roxby, and following her disinheritance, the couple been living in poverty in London. Harry has become embroiled with a criminal gang and is in terrible danger after allegedly losing something very valuable that he was meant to deliver to their leader. The desperate and heavily pregnant Lydia has a week to return what her husband supposedly stole, or he will be killed. She knows there are few people who she can turn to in this time of need, but the sisters agree to help Lydia, beginning a race against time to save Harry's life.

In doing so, our intrepid sisters come face to face with a terrifying adversary whom even the toughest of the slum-dwellers are afraid of . . . The Red Monarch.

What did I think?

I am completely addicted to The Brontë Mysteries series so I have been so looking forward to book 3, The Red Monarch, and it does not disappoint.  Bella Ellis has created such a wonderful portrayal of the Brontë sisters that it feels as if their very essence is woven into the pages.  It's just brilliant and I loved every single page.

With their brother Branwell suffering from a broken heart and the three sisters awaiting the first review of their poetry collection, a distraction is most welcome.  So when Anne receives a plea for help from a former pupil in London, the sisters put on their detector hats once more.  London is indeed a very different place to Yorkshire but the Brontës are fearless and always look out for each other, so I had no doubt that whatever was awaiting them in London would be no match for them.

Filled with danger and so very atmospheric, The Red Monarch isn't just a step back in time it's like stepping in the Brontë sisters' shoes. Bella Ellis' writing is sublime; it's so authentic that I often forgot I wasn't reading one of the Brontë sisters' classic works.  It's such a wonderful book in a wonderful series and I really can't recommend it highly enough.

I received an ARC from the publisher to read and review for the blog tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Monday 8 November 2021

BLOG TOUR: The Miner's Lass - Glenda Young

'You're a Dinsdale lass, Ruby. Nothing and no one keeps us lot down.'

A life of poverty in a cramped pit cottage is all that seventeen-year-old Ruby Dinsdale has known. Even with her father and younger brother working at the coal mine, money is tight. Her mother Mary is skilled at stretching what little they have, but the small contribution Ruby makes from her job at the local pub makes all the difference. So when Ruby is sacked, and Mary becomes pregnant again, the family's challenges are greater than ever.

When charming miner Gordon begins to court Ruby it seems as though happiness is on the horizon, until she uncovers a deeper betrayal than she could ever have imagined.

But although the Dinsdales are materially poor, they are rich in love, friendship and determination - all qualities that they will draw on to get them through whatever lies ahead.

What did I think?

If you’re thinking you don’t read sagas, then think again; you’ve not read Glenda Young’s sagas!  The Miner's Lass is Glenda's sixth saga and it is absolutely brilliant.  As soon as I opened the book I was transported to Ryhope in 1919 and I simply couldn't put it down.

The Dinsdale family rely on every penny that comes into their small cottage so when Ruby finds herself out of work she needs to find a new job fast.  Ruby's brother Michael will be old enough to go down the mine with his dad when he turns 14 and oh how my heart broke for him; it's almost unimaginable today to think of children working underground in such awful and dangerous conditions.  The whole community revolved around the pit and this was portrayed beautifully in The Miner's Lass.

Life is rarely considered easy but it was definitely a much harder life 100 years ago.  Families didn't have much money to live on but everyone helped each other out and they found joy in the little things.  Mental health is so important these days so it was interesting to read about the local asylum and how men used to drop off their troublesome women at the door.  It's shocking when you think about it as many people should have never been sent there.

So, whilst The Miner's Lass is a wonderful story of family, friendship and community there's so much more to experience in this outstanding novel.  It's packed full of drama and challenges for the characters and it gives us a glimpse of what life was like in an early 20th century coal mining community.  The characters are portrayed so vividly that they virtually leap out from the page as we experience every trial and tribulation with them.

Written with warmth, drama and a bit of humour, The Miner's Lass is hugely entertaining from start to finish.  Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down and I read it in one sitting.  I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it and it's an easy 5 stars.

I received an ARC from the publisher to read and review for the blog tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Thursday 4 November 2021

Kissing Emma - Shappi Khorsandi

Emma and her mother are down on their luck. They're taking turns sleeping on the sofa in her nan's tiny flat - and desperately trying to come up with an escape plan.

Emma is struggling with her family, struggling at school where the girls are bitchy towards her and the boys only seem to want one thing, and struggling with never having enough money for anything, ever.

Just as she's contemplating quitting school to get a real job, she meets two men who convince her that she has a shot at modelling. But their motives are far from innocent, and Emma is soon pulled into a dark world. And then she meets Con, who is rich, handsome and so romantic! Has Emma's luck finally changed?

Kissing Emma is inspired by the real life and untold story of Emma Hamilton, Lord Nelson's mistress. But Shappi Khorsandi's modern Emma is going to get the happy ending her namesake never did - and stick two fingers up at the men who dare to take advantage of young women while she's doing it.

Not suitable for younger readers

What did I think?

I loved Shappi Khorsandi's debut novel, Nina is Not Ok, so I was eager to see how she would follow it. Wow! Kissing Emma completely blew me away; it is so outstanding that I was left speechless and completely bereft after I turned the final page.

Inspired by the story of Lord Nelson's mistress, Emma Hamilton, this is a raw, honest and and often difficult to read 21st century coming of age story. Emma doesn't have a decent male role model to show her what love is and she finds out the hard way that sex isn't love. Emma's story is often disturbing and horrifying as she makes awful decisions and is consequently taken advantage of; I just wished I could have reached inside the book and helped her.

It's quite a short read at only 296 pages but it is so powerful. All teenage girls should read this book to learn to value themselves instead of trying to make boys love them by offering their bodies on a plate. Back in my day, Judy Blume's Forever was the coming of age novel all girls wanted to read but it really showed relationships through rose-tinted glasses. 

Shappi Khorsandi's Kissing Emma is a stark, honest coming of age story for a new generation and it is destined to become a classic. It's quite simply brilliant!

I received a copy of Kissing Emma for free from the Amazon Vine programme and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Monday 1 November 2021

Fifty Words for Snow - Nancy Campbell

To celebrate the paperback release of Fifty Words for Snow by Nancy Campbell today, I am delighted to repost my review of this stunning book.  It really is as beautiful inside as out so make sure to pick up a copy for yourself.

The perfect winter gift – each of these linguistic snow crystals offers a whole world of myth and story.

In this lyrical, evocative book, Arctic traveller and award-winning writer Nancy Campbell digs deep into the meanings and etymologies, the histories and the futures of fifty words for snow, using them as clues to the many ways in which we are all connected to one another and to our planet.

From Iceland to Hawaii, every language and culture has its own word for the magical, mesmerising flakes that fall from the sky. Fifty Words… is a journey from the ornate ice houses of country estates to the artificial snow of the movies, from the snow roads across the frozen lakes of Estonia to Kilimanjaro’s snowy peak – a meeting point between the human and the divine. Exploring language in its broadest sense, Campbell includes American Sign Language for ‘snowboard’ and shares how the Inuktitut oral language came to be transcribed. 

What did I think?

Everything single thing about Fifty Words for Snow is stunning: the mesmerising frosty cover, the continuation of the design on to the endpapers, a beautiful snowflake dividing each chapter and, last but not least, the interesting and informative words within.  

Although I read Fifty Words for Snow cover to cover for the purposes of review, it could also be a book to dip in which to dip in and out.  I think it would be a great winter activity to choose a word a day from this book and read the story behind the word.  The only difficult thing would be to close the book after reading just one chapter as I was so charmed and delighted by the stories that I couldn't wait to see what would come next.

As much as this is a book that celebrates climate, it is also a celebration of language.  Seeing words in languages I hadn't even heard of, such as Ojibwemowin and Tamazight, suggests that Nancy Campbell did indeed scour the globe for the fifty best words for snow.  The chapters are perfectly balanced with the stories behind each word appearing to be both detailed and concise.  

There's something for everyone in Fifty Words for Snow, whether you're interested in climate, language or just want to broaden your general knowledge.  I love reading about global myths and legends so I was fascinated by the beautiful Cherokee tale that explains why the pine tree is evergreen and the legend of the snow woman of Japan who disappears as fast as melting snow.  There are some amazing words to discover in this book and although I would find it very hard to name a favourite, I was rather ticked by the final word: suncups.  It's such a simple but perfectly descriptive word and was perfectly placed to end the book.

Fifty Words for Snow is a hugely entertaining and informative book, written in such a warm and engaging style that makes you read 'just one more chapter', which is rare to find in non-fiction.  It's the perfect gift for linguists, booklovers or that hard to buy for person.  I would highly recommend buying a physical copy as even though the words are beautiful whether you're reading on kindle or a physical copy, the hardback is seriously stunning.

Thank you to Elliott and Thompson for sending me a beautiful hardback to review; all opinions are my own.

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About the author:

Nancy Campbell is an award-winning writer, described as ‘deft, dangerous and dazzling’ by the former Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy and whose writing has been inspired by the polar regions.

Her travels in the Arctic resulted in several projects responding to the environment; The Library of Ice: Readings in a Cold Climate was longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2019; Disko Bay, shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2016 and How to Say ‘I Love You’ in Greenlandic received the Birgit Skiöld Award 2015. In 2020 she was the recipient of the Royal Geographical Society’s Ness Award for her published work on the polar regions. She is currently a Literature Fellow at Internationales Künstlerhaus Villa Concordia in Germany.

Instagram: @nancycampbelle