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.

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

It is 1950. In a devastating moment of clarity, Margery Benson abandons her dead-end job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist. 
Enid Pretty, in her unlikely pink travel suit, is not the companion Margery had in mind. And yet together they will be drawn into an adventure that will exceed every expectation. They will risk everything, break all the rules, and at the top of a red mountain, discover their best selves.

This is a story that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found; it is an intoxicating adventure story but it is also about what it means to be a woman and a tender exploration of a friendship that defies all boundaries.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. After loving meeting Harold Fry I had a feeling that I would enjoy Miss Benson’s Beetle. I wasn’t prepared for how much. These characters made me laugh, cry and feel warm inside. This feeling started from the very beginning when Margery was listening to her father talk about the beetle when her life changed forever.

Margery and Enid have nothing in common initially. They don’t really argue, just don’t understand each other. But as their very long voyage across the oceans continue they start to get a little closer and become a little more tolerant of each other. Margery even starts to accept being called Marge. Whilst Margery is an open book, lonely, pragmatic and determined to find her beetle Enid is the opposite. A good time girl, but one who has a secret. Most of this secret is revealed in newspaper reports that appear at times throughout the novel. I admit, I did fear for her throughout the novel, hoping that she could stay safe. The way that Margery and Enid became close friends was lovely to read. When you could see how much they relied on each other and accepted that whilst they had little in common they had a true friendship. 

Another more sinister character was always hovering in the background. Mundic, ex POW, aggrieved over being denied the job as Margery’s assistant has followed them to New Caledonia, determined to make her see her error. Damaged by his war experience, needy and increasingly erratic and you could almost see him fall apart. Because it is only five years after the war you get a real sense of his vulnerability and anger. It was difficult to dislike somebody who was so raw.

This book would be wonderful if made into a film or TV drama. Just thinking about who the actors could be added to my enjoyment of this novel.

The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The first thing that crossed my mind when I picked up this book was how the author felt that it was to be published in the midst of a world wide pandemic. A little strange, I’m sure. It certainly felt strange to read. Especially at first, when you read about the precautions the characters had to take to avoid infection. What should have been fiction has turned into reality. The mask wearing and avoiding contact is starting to feel like it’s always been that way.

The three separate stories of life before the crisis, during and after are fascinating, as are the characters Mary, Lily and Kate. All suffering in their own way, all feeling guilt for what they have had to do. Whilst liking all of them it was Lily who I liked the most and felt more sympathy for. I can’t imagine how the thought of approaching seventy years old is that terrifying. I appreciated her sadness at friends disappearing suddenly, her reliance on her carer Anne and her desire to get to know Kate. I felt a lot of sadness reading her very lonely story.

The ending was one I woke up thinking about. I had managed to miss the connection to the story initially, it was one that came to me during the night. Obviously I can’t say what but I wonder if other readers feel the same.

I didn’t find the novel as intimidating as I imagined. It’s clever, we all know that the resistance to antibiotics is growing. But it’s also a thriller and a tale about a small group of people who have to cope the best way they can. Just wonderful. 

Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.

Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows.

When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.

A nerve-shattering and brutally realistic thriller, Blood Red City bursts with energy and grit from the opening page, twisting and feinting to a superb, unexpected ending that will leave you breathless.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I had read a couple of Rod Reynolds books before so was aware of how he managed to make the reader so interested and concerned for his characters. Stringer was the character I liked reading about more. What was revealed about his troubled family life, especially his relationship with his father, his protective manner towards his sister, niece, Angie and Lydia who he barely knew. I expect that there was a lot more about him that I missed, he was one of the more complex characters I’ve read about.

I always struggle reading about journalists but Lydia was different. Punished and sent to report on the z list celebrities for going too far in a previous investigation she was hurting but knew when she saw what happened on the tube that she couldn’t stay quiet. Not as much revealed about her, apart from her feelings of inadequacy but I did admire her spirit and loyalty.

I don’t know London and I don’t really understand financial crime or money laundering but the story fascinated me. I had no idea who could be trusted or who could have been responsible for what happened on the tube. I felt that the ones with power couldn’t be trusted whilst the ‘invisible’ people, the ones who tried to turn their lives around (Angie) had much more integrity. 

A great book, which unusually for me, I would read again.

The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

He watches.

A woman runs alone in the woods. She convinces herself she has no reason to be afraid, but she’s wrong. A predator is stalking the women of Grant County. He lingers in the shadows, until the time is just right to snatch his victim.

He waits.

A decade later, the case has been closed. The killer is behind bars. But then another young woman is brutally attacked and left for dead, and the MO is identical.

He takes.

Although the original trail has gone cold – memories have faded, witnesses have disappeared – agent Will Trent and forensic pathologist Sara Linton must re-open the cold case. But the clock is ticking, and the killer is determined to find his perfect silent wife….

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Silent Wife is only the second book that I have read that features the amazing set of characters that came from two series of books. Even though I had no problems following the storyline I did prefer the the one that featured Sara with Will rather than the one that features her with Jeffery. Although I accept that this could be with not knowing anything about their relationship. 

The cold cases they are investigating after the information they have been given by the man who is serving time for them are brutal. Much of the detail comes from the forensic examinations but when you read about what the survivors are going through years later you can clearly see the trauma they have experienced. And the different ways in which they cope.

Some of the characters who feature in this book were Jeffrey’s colleagues at the time the crimes they were committed. One of these in particular I detested with a passion, even after reading their back story via google I still had little sympathy. There are not many, out of all the books I have read, who I disliked as much. Happily, there was another who I adored and I could read an entire series featuring her alone. That character was Faith I found her to be honest, cynical, funny and loyal. And I had a feeling she felt exactly the same about the character I disliked.

I really need to catch up on Karin Slaughter’s books, whilst I haven’t read that many I do enjoy them.