V For Victory by Lissa Evans – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

It’s late 1944. Hitler’s rockets are slamming down on London with vicious regularity and it’s the coldest winter in living memory. Allied victory is on its way, but it’s bloody well dragging its feet.

In a large house next to Hampstead Heath, Vee Sedge is just about scraping by, with a herd of lodgers to feed, and her young charge Noel ( almost fifteen ) to clothe and educate. When she witnesses a road accident and finds herself in court, the repercussions are both unexpectedly marvellous and potentially disastrous – disastrous because Vee is not actually the person she’s pretending to be, and neither is Noel.

The end of the war won’t just mean peace, but discovery…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Having enjoyed the previous books in this series, Crooked Heart and Old Baggage, I was looking forward to catching up with Noel, Vee, Winnie and also meeting up with some new characters. Many fascinating people feature in this novel and all try their hardest to cope with living in a war battered London.

It takes place during the last year of the war. Noel is fifteen, is doing well in his studies and is starting to develop feelings for a friend, Genevieve. Winnie is a warden,  brave, funny, patient with her twin sister despite feeling hurt and frustration and uncertain how to feel about the husband she barely knew who was a POW. Vee is battling on, trying to feed a house full of people, maintain a sense of humour and look after Noel. Her friendship with Mario was good for her, and seeing how the house benefited from that friendship was lovely to read. I loved seeing the enjoyment that peanut butter and Florida orange juice brought.

The hardships, the rations, the bombings are all described perfectly and show how Londoners suffered. But this isn’t a depressing novel. Yes, there is sadness, especially towards the end, but there is also plenty of humour. Especially from Noel and Winnie, my two favourite characters in the book.

Whilst I feel this will probably be the last book in the series I would love to see it continue. With the strength of the characters, even the minor ones, there is definitely potential for this series to carry on into the 50s and 60s.

A Ruined Girl by Kate Simants – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

TWO BOYS LOVED HER.
BUT WHICH ONE KILLED HER?

On a dark night two years ago, teenagers Rob and Paige broke into a house. They beat and traumatised the occupants, then left, taking only a bracelet. No one knows why, not even Luke, Rob’s younger brother and Paige’s confidant. Paige disappeared after that night. And having spent her life in children’s homes and the foster system, no one cared enough to look for her.

Now Rob is out of prison, and probation officer Wren Reynolds has been tasked with his rehabilitation. But Wren has her own reasons for taking on Rob as a client. Convinced that Rob knows what happened to Paige, and hiding a lifetime of secrets from her heavily pregnant wife, Wren’s obsession with finding a missing girl may tear her family apart…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I read many books, mostly crime fiction, but The Ruined Girl was the first that I have read that concerns a children’s home and the probation services. I was both fascinated and heartbroken. It was a crime novel that really pulled on the heartstrings.

There are two narrators, Wren in the ‘now’ and Luke in ‘before’. It switches back and forth repeatedly and each worked perfectly. But it was Luke who I wanted to read about more. His story portrayed the frustration and hurt he felt perfectly. the loyalty he felt towards his mother, brother and Paige had me reading in silence, unable to put the book down. It was the type of narrative that made me think about the type of society we live in during the times I couldn’t read. How many children are there in this country who experience what the ones in this novel did. And how do they cope with adult life when they are left on their own. 

There are plenty of twists, some I saw, many I didn’t but this novel wasn’t about the eventual outcome for me. Instead it was the determination of the younger characters to do the right thing, even if it wasn’t necessarily the better way. Rob wanting to protect Luke, Luke wanting to protect Paige.

It is a long time since I have felt touched by so many. Not just Luke, Rob and Paige. But also the minor characters, some who were determined to put their childhood behind them and those who couldn’t. 

A Ruined Girl was the perfect book for me, it made me thing about other events outside of strange world we currently live in.  

Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop – Audio Blog Tour Review.

Audio Clip

If you click on the link below you will be able to hear an excerpt from the novel that is narrated by Juliet Stevenson.

Link to Audio Clip

About The Book

The gripping new novel by Sunday Times Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars. 

Athens 1941. After decades of political uncertainty, Greece is polarised between Right- and Left-wing views when the Germans invade. 
Fifteen-year-old Themis comes from a family divided by these political differences. The Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. She watches friends die in the ensuing famine and is moved to commit acts of resistance.

In the civil war that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek.

Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee. And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live.

As she looks back on her life, Themis realises how tightly the personal and political can become entangled. While some wounds heal, others deepen.

This powerful new novel from Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Greece’s past and weaves it into the epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live an extraordinary life.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I had enjoyed reading one of the author’s earlier books, The Island, a few years ago so was looking forward to reading this new one. 

It takes place in Athens and starts in the 1940s. Themis lives with her grandmother and siblings and almost straightaway you see how politics divided them. I had a lot of sympathy for their grandmother, having to cope with their disagreements on a daily basis. 

I felt at times like I was reading two different novels. One concerning Themis and her life throughout WW2 and the civil war that followed. Her experience as a prisoner and the friendships made at that time. And another about her family life, her childhood, her marriage and the fear that her previous life would catch up with her. It was the latter that I found easier to read, not because I enjoyed it more, but because the politics, brutality and fear was so convincing I felt like I was there.

Themis was an astonishing character. Loyal, brave and caring. All three strengths that weren’t evident with her siblings at first. It was only in the latter stages of the novel that they could be seen in her older brother.

I’m ashamed to say that I know nothing at all about Greek history and by reading this book I learned a lot. 

The Octopus by Tess Little – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

There’s more than one way to capture a life.

When Elspeth arrives at her ex-husband’s LA mansion for his 50th birthday party, she’s expecting a crowd for the British film director. Instead, there are just seven other guests and Richard’s pet octopus, Persephone, watching over them from her tank. 

Come morning, Richard is dead.

In the weeks that follow, each of the guests come under suspicion: the school friend, the studio producer, the actress, the actor, the new boyfriend, the manager, the cinematographer and the ex-wife, Elspeth herself. As stories of Richard’s past surface, colliding with Elspeth’s memories of their marriage, she begins to question not just who killed Richard, but why these eight guests were invited, and what sort of man would want to trap this mysterious, intelligent creature.

From the LA hills to the Norfolk marshes, The Octopus is a stylish exploration of power: the power of memory, the power of perception, the power of one person over another.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Octopus was a novel that instantly appealed to me because it sounded so original. After all it’s not everyday you come across a novel where one of the suspects in a murder investigation is an octopus.   

When Richard is murdered at his own party the only culprit could be one of the handful of guests, or the octopus which had the ability to escape from its aquarium at night. It does sound strangely believable. But the more I read, and started to realise what a vile character Richard was I was more inclined to believe that it was one of the guests. I just had no idea who.

Elspeth, ex wife and chief narrator was the only one I really liked. She was the one who had more reason than most to want him dead, but the one I suspected least. Only because of what she kept hidden to protect their daughter from the truth. What she went through was terrible and to be able to cope alone showed a lot of strength. 

It was a little strange to read, even though there was only one narrator the story covers multiple periods of time and it switched from one to the other every few pages. It took me a while to adapt to this style but I became increasingly hooked. Especially after one of the characters was arrested and went to trial. 

I am amazed that The Octopus is a debut novel, it is definitely one of the best novels I have read this year. 

The Safe Place by Anna Downes – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A BEAUTIFUL HOME MIGHT HIDE DANGEROUS SECRETS

Emily Proudman has been offered the chance of a lifetime – leave her messy London life, move to a beautiful estate in France and help her boss’ wife take care of their daughter, Aurelia. It seems like the perfect opportunity to start again.

But once there, Emily soon starts to suspect that her charismatic new employers aren’t telling her the whole truth. That there are even dangerous secrets hidden beneath the glamourous facade. 

Rather than throwing herself headline into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool, Emily can’t help but ask questions. Why have the family been moved to this isolated house so far from home? Why does Aurelia refuse to speak or be touched? Why are there whispers in the night? 

The only problem is, the more Emily knows, the less chance there is she will ever be able to leave . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Emily is down on her luck. A failed actress, sacked from her temping job and soon to be evicted from her home. She isn’t close to her adoptive parents and doesn’t know what to do to escape her quandary. But then her ex boss appears, like a knight in shining armour and offers her the chance of a lifetime. To move to France, and be a companion to his wife and child. To Emily it is a chance to escape and she doesn’t mind that she can’t tell anybody her whereabouts or that she has to sign NDAs. She is just ecstatic, and when she sees her new home and builds up a good relationship with Nina and Aurelia she couldn’t be happier. But as Emily gets more settled she realises not everything is as it seems.

I didn’t think of this book as twist driven but there were a few surprises. The flashbacks at the end of certain chapters added to the intrigue and made me think about what might have occurred in Nina and Scott’s past. I thought I knew what had happened but I was completely wrong. 

Emily was a character who I didn’t warm to straightaway. At first I thought her to be petulant and self pitying but seeing her relationship development with Aurelia and the way she reacted when she realised what was happening in the family home I appreciated her more. 

The Safe Place is perfect for that holiday read.