The Oceans Between Us by Gill Thompson – Extract

About The Book

A woman is found wandering injured in London after an air raid. She remembers nothing of who she is. Only that she has lost something very precious.

As the little boy waits in the orphanage, he hopes his mother will return. But then he finds himself on board a ship bound for Australia, the promise of a golden life ahead, and wonders: how will she find him in a land across the oceans?

In Perth, a lonely wife takes in the orphaned child. But then she discovers the secret of his past. Should she keep quiet? Or tell the truth and risk losing the boy who has become her life? 

This magnificent, moving novel, set in London and Australia, is testament to the strength of the human spirit and the enduring power of love.


Even after all these years he still dreads plane journeys. The take off is the worst: the rush of tyres on concrete, the scream of engines, a crescendo of pressure in his ears. 

There’s a light touch on his hand. He looks down. Her fingers on his white knuckles.

‘All right?’ she says.

He nods, then looks out of the window. The plane is climbing steeply, the runway already a biscuit-coloured blur. The landing gear folds itself in with a distant thump and the engine steadies to a low throb. 

He wipes his forehead with the back of his sleeve and leans his head against the rest. 

She squeezes his hand. ‘Well done. You’ll be fine now.’

Yes, he will be fine. He always is. But this time there is another anxiety. Not the journey but the destination. 

He pats his jacket pocket and feels the firmness of the expensive cardboard against the warm wool. No need to take the invitation out again. He knows the words off by heart. 

And suddenly he’s a young boy once more, excited to be going on a long journey to a land full of hope and opportunity. How was his eager twelve-year-old self to know what was really waiting for him? 

He glances at his companion. They are deep into a long marriage; her face as familiar to him now as his own, her hair shorter than when they’d first met. His breath still catches at the sight of her. He reaches out to stroke her cheek. ‘I’m glad you’re here with me.’

‘Wouldn’t have missed it. It’s been a long time coming.’

He’s suddenly too choked to speak. He swallows and runs a finger round his shirt collar. ‘Forty years’ he says. His voice sounds hoarse.

‘Half a lifetime. But you got there in the end. Just as you said you would.’ 

The seat belt signs have gone off. She reaches under the seat, pulls a leather bag onto her lap, and reaches into it for her bottle of water. She passes it across to him.

He takes a long sip. She always knows the right thing to do. 

‘I just wish I’d got there sooner. It’s too late for some people.’

‘Those who can will come. And remember who you’re doing this for.’

He nods, then turns to the window again. The horizon is striped with brilliant colours: turquoise, orange, green – all radiating from a fiery, sinking sun. They’ll soon be hurtling through a dark sky in their metal tube, for miles and miles until they reach Canberra. And the ceremony they will attend.

This day is the one he’s fought for. He closes his eyes and the faces of the past appear before him. 

No one had listened to them then. 

They would listen now. 

Welcome To The Heady Heights by David Ross – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Welcome to the Heady Heights …

 It’s the year punk rock was born, Concorde entered commercial service and a tiny Romanian gymnast changed the sport forever.

Archie Blunt is a man with big ideas. He just needs a break for them to be realised. In a bizarre brush with the light-entertainment business, Archie unwittingly saves the life of the UK’s top showbiz star, Hank ‘Heady’ Hendricks’, and now dreams of hitting the big-time as a Popular Music Impresario. Seizing the initiative, he creates a new singing group with five unruly working-class kids from Glasgow’s East End. Together, they make the finals of a televised Saturday-night talent show, and before they know it, fame and fortune beckon for Archie and The High Five. But there’s a complication; a trail of irate Glaswegian bookies, corrupt politicians and a determined Scottish WPC known as The Tank are all on his tail…

A hilarious and poignant nod to the elusivity of stardom, in an age when making it’ was ‘having it all’, Welcome to the Heady Heights is also a dark, laugh-out-loud comedy, a heart-warming tribute to a bygone age and a delicious drama about desperate men, connected by secrets and lies, by accidents of time and, most of all, the city they live in.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Welcome to the Heady Heights was a refreshing read and just what I needed after some I have read recently. It takes place during the heatwave in 1976, a summer I remember well, in Glasgow. Archie, the lead character was a brilliant creation. Working class, widowed, out of work, caring for his father, and he has conversations in his head with Jim Rockford from the TV show The Rockford Files. He also has dreams about his future as a pop group manager after convincing  Heady who is the host of a talent contest that they can do it. The minute that Heady was introduced I imagined him looking like Tony Angelino from Only Fools and Horses. For those who don’t know him he was a night club singer who changed his appearance completely for his stage act. I imagine though that the similarity ends there. 

It isn’t only about the talent show scene. There is focus on the lifestyle of the working class. The alcohol and chip shop meals consumed. The larger than life characters and the untouchable wealthy. There is a journalist who refuses to stop asking questions and there is a female police officer who refuses to just be there to make tea. It’s very funny, and with the help of google at times in translating some of the Glaswegian slang it made an entertaining read. But alongside the humour there is also sadness. Archie’s loyalty to his father and the memories of his wife especially. It is a long time since I’ve read anything like it. 

The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

In 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In a great haste, she escapes to Sweden, saving herself. Her family in Oslo, however, is deported to Auschwitz. In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, who helped Ester get to Sweden. Their burgeoning relationship ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.

And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…

Written with Dahl’s trademark characterization and elegant plotting, The Courier sees the hugely respected godfather of Nordic Noir at his best, as he takes on one of the most horrific periods of modern history, in an exceptional, shocking thriller.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read a few books that are in someway connected to WW2, but never one that is set in Norway. In honesty, I am ashamed to admit that I never had any idea about Norway’s involvement in the war. The book is set both in 1942 when you are introduced to Ester and Gerhard and 1967       when Ester is determined to get answers. There are also very brief chapters that are set in 2015.

This is a book where you need to concentrate a lot when reading. The period that it is set in change for each chapter and there were occasions when I had to check which I was reading about. But when 1942 was left behind I found it much easier to read, and all the questions I had were answered. 

Ester was a character I loved. She is Jewish, and a courier who is working with the resistance. When she witnessed her father being taken away by the authorities and his shop closed I was a little surprised that there wasn’t further focus on this. I has expected the novel to be about the atrocities committed. But the novel focuses on Ester’s determination to find out what happened to her friend and trying to find out how and why Gerhard is still alive 25 years later. It also gives some insight into what happened behind the scenes during the war.

It was increasingly fascinating how the the story connected, and what happened to them in the years between. Especially with Ester, this novel could have just concentrated on her life journey from Norway to Israel. Whilst there wasn’t a lot of focus on what happened to her family, you do get to see the effect it had on her. How it never left her. I imagine this to be a true reflection of what it must be like for descendants of loved ones who were taken away.

The Taking Of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Then . . . 

One night, Annie went missing. Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst. And then, miraculously, after forty-eight hours, she came back. But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her.

Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what. I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same. She wasn’t my Annie. 

I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.

Now. . . 

The email arrived in my inbox two months ago. I almost deleted it straight away, but then I clicked OPEN: 

I know what happened to your sister. It’s happening again . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I enjoyed reading C.J. Tudor’s first novel The Chalk Man last year and have often heard about author nerves regarding follow up novels. In my opinion, she has nothing to worry about. I devoured this novel. 

The Taking of Annie Thorne has everything I enjoy. A dual time frame novel where everything is slowly revealed, unofficial history which I have always loved, myths and legends, a spooky thread and some wonderful characters.

There are very few pleasant characters, even Joe Thorne had his faults. But his likeable traits made up for any faults he had. His devotion to Annie especially, was lovely to read. I think Annie was the character I could visualise the most. All the way through. The bullies in modern day are the children of the bullies from Joe’s school days. But another of the more appealing sides to him showed that he knew exactly how to handle them.

The story itself wasn’t what I expected it to be. It was a lot more sinister, I’m glad that I couldn’t experience the ‘odour’ that Joe could as I was reading. I felt nauseated just imagining it. Some of the characters took a while to show what they were really like. I was both surprised and shocked by what was revealed.

I have tried to find out if the Arnhill exists, I’ve not found it or anywhere it could be based on. I don’t usually look but the historical facts (or fiction) were fascinating and I wanted to know if any of the events did happen. Or if they were just imagination. 

Looking forward to book three.

The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book


After the sudden death of her husband, Tess is drowning in grief. All she has left is her son, Jamie, and she’ll do anything to protect him – but she’s struggling to cope.

When grief counsellor Shelley knocks on their door, everything changes. Shelley is beautiful, confident and takes control when Tess can’t bear to face the outside world.

But when questions arise over her husband’s death and strange things start to happen, Tess begins to suspect that Shelley may have an ulterior motive. Tess knows she must do everything she can to keep Jamie safe – but who can she trust?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Perfect Betrayal was a novel that made me feel tense from the very beginning. Not only because the narrator was one of the most unreliable I have ever come across in fiction, but also I couldn’t work out if I could rely on the other two main characters either.

Tess is struggling with bereavement and would rather talk to grief counsellor Shelley than her mother and brother. Shelley also has her own grief to deal with and at times I wondered if the friendship was good for her. Ian, the brother in law was just crass, insensitive and a bully. But was he responsible for any of the more intimidating things that were occurring?

What happened to Tess was devastating, I couldn’t begin to imagine what she was going through. It made me cherish the life I have more, aching for closeness as I read. The memories of conversations, days out and plans for the future had me close to tears a few times.

What was happening wasn’t a complete shock, I had my suspicions a few times but told myself I was wrong. The ending though was one that left me without words.