Someone Who Isn’t Me by Danuta Kot – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

When everyone hides the truth, who do you turn to?

Becca’s had a hard time of it, but she has finally got her life together. She has a nice little flat, a steady job pulling pints, and she’s even seeing someone new: Andy, who keeps his private life to himself but is always good for a laugh. And then Andy vanishes. When his body turns up on isolated Sunk Island, Becca learns Andy wasn’t just another punter. He was a police officer, deep undercover, investigating a drugs ring that he believed operated out of Becca’s pub.

Staggered by the betrayal, Becca turns to the only person she thinks she can trust: her foster mum, Kay. But Kay has problems of her own. She’s just moved into a short-term let in the hopes of finding some peace and quiet. But peace and quiet are hard to come by on Sunk Island . . .

Before long, both women are drawn into a terrifying world of drugs, money and death.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I hadn’t realised when I started reading this book that it was a sequel to Life Ruins. Luckily it was easy to read as a stand-alone, I followed the characters and storyline very easily. And I struggled to put it down once I started to read, this is an extremely gripping storyline.

There are three female narrators, two of them Becca and Kay were connected from the previous novel. The third, Dinah, is a detective who was helping to investigate the murder of the one of their own. She was probably the only member of the police who featured that I had any liking for. Hammond and Curwen only seemed to be concerned with their own careers and had no compassion for victims or witnesses. The one thing all these women had in common is that none of them judged others and they were willing to listen to those who were in danger or less fortunate than themselves. I noticed it with Kay very early in the novel but as it progressed I saw it a lot more in Becca. Her willingness to help a young boy and a kitten that she finds near her home. In this novel there were plenty who would be ignored by those who had more comfort.

The setting was outstanding. Grim, often wet, remote and much of it on the poverty line, a true reflection of British Northern towns. But like Kay I could also see beauty and peace in certain areas. 

I would love to meet these characters again, I want to see what could happen to them in the future. Not just Becca and Kay, there are a few whose life I want to see change.

When The World Was Ours by Liz Kessler – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Three friends. Two sides. One memory.

Vienna. 1936.

Three young friends – Leo, Elsa and Max – spend a perfect day together, unaware that around them Europe is descending into a growing darkness, and that events soon mean that they will be cruelly ripped apart from each other. With their lives taking them across Europe – to Germany, England, Prague and Poland – will they ever find their way back to each other? Will they want to?  

Inspired by a true story, WHEN THE WORLD WAS OURS is an extraordinary novel that is as powerful as it is heartbreaking, and shows how the bonds of love, family and friendship allow glimmers of hope to flourish, even in the most hopeless of times. 

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I don’t read it a lot of YA or children’s fiction but I was intrigued by the synopsis of this novel. A tale about the Holocaust but told through the eyes of three different children.

The novel starts in 1936 on Leo’s birthday. You see the friendship between him and his two friends Elsa and Max, the love and respect they have for Leo’s father and the incident which led to lives being saved. From there each of the often very short chapters is narrated by each of the children and covers the period from then up until the end of the war. 

I have read books about the Holocaust before, but never through a child’s perspective. How a young boy is so desperate to get his father’s attention he follows his nazism views thus betraying his memories of his childhood friends. Max’s story was desperately sad but whilst I detested his actions and apparent beliefs I still had sympathy for him. I wanted him to remember what he had lost but he was too scared of giving up his new way of life and his wish for respect from his parents.

But it was Leo and Elsa I wanted to read about. Leo who gets a lucky escape and Elsa who believes that those around her will care for her and make sure that her and family and friends are safe. Their stories are mesmerising, heartbreaking and believable. Probably more so, because whilst they do show the horrors of the Holocaust it is from children who don’t really understand what is happening. They are not tall enough to see how many are crammed into transport or how many are discarded on the way. They are not old enough to understand what is happening when some are sent to the left and some to the right. 

It is pure coincidence that I read this book around Holocaust Day and saw the number of interviews that the author was doing on all types of media. If you get chance find those, they are just as fascinating as this novel.

For the week of the Blog Tour, readers will be able to get dedicated and signed copies of When The World Was Ours from Bags of Books here https://bags-of-books.co.uk/

When I Come Home Again by Caroline Scott – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

They need him to remember. He wants to forget.

1918. 
In the last week of the First World War, a uniformed soldier is arrested in Durham Cathedral. When questioned, it becomes clear he has no memory of who he is or how he came to be there.

The soldier is given the name Adam and transferred to a rehabilitation home. His doctor James is determined to recover who this man once was. But Adam doesn’t want to remember. Unwilling to relive the trauma of war, Adam has locked his memory away, seemingly for good.

When a newspaper publishes a feature about Adam, three women come forward, each claiming that he is someone she lost in the war. But does he believe any of these women? Or is there another family out there waiting for him to come home?

Based on true events, When I Come Home Again is a deeply moving and powerful story of a nation’s outpouring of grief, and the search for hope in the aftermath of war.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Whilst I have read books about the impact of war before I have never read one that concerns those who are desperate for answers. Either from those who need to remember who they are or the loved ones who need to know what happened to their son, husband or brother. And both were equally heartbreaking.

When Adam is arrested after vandalism at Durham Cathedral he has no knowledge of his identity. All those around him know is that he was a serving soldier from the war. In a bid to help him he is transferred to a place of care in Westmorland. As a way of identifying him they go public but are unprepared for how many turn up to lay their claim on Adam. They filter it down to three and start the long and often upsetting process of trying to work out if any of them are related. I spent most of this novel trying to decide who I wanted to have the happy ending. 

Adam isn’t the only one who has issues, James, his doctor also had a bad war and struggles to talk about it. Both appeared to have suffered similar experiences but cope in different ways and also have different reactions to certain environments. Whilst Adam finds solace in the local woods, it a nightmare for James. 

This novel was at times extremely upsetting, especially towards the end. But it also shows a method of coping, even if it looked strange to others. It made me think about how many thousands of families had no idea what happened to their loved ones and I had no idea how I would even begin to cope if I was in the same situation.

I loved the Westmorland setting, the tranquility made a welcome change from a city based novel.  I think that it was the only type of setting that a book such as this could work in with the way that Adam could feel at ease with the nature around him, totally different from what happened in the woods during the war.

My Top Ten Books of 2019

The time has come again to face an impossible task of narrowing the 117 books I have read into a top ten list. As always it was difficult to do but I have managed and I will list them in no particular order. Apart from my favourite book of the year which I will reveal at the end. You can see my review for each book by clicking on the title.

Expectation by Anna Hope.

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman.

The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott

Changeling by Matt Wesolowski

Red Snow by Will Dean

From The City, From The Plough by Alexander Baron

On My Life by Angela Clarke

The Taking Of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor

The Girl At The Window by Rowan Coleman

My Book of 2019

Turbulent Wake by Paul. E Hardisty

The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

1921. The Great War is over and families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He was declared ‘missing, believed killed’ during the war, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph in the post, taken by Francis, hope flares. And so she begins to search.

Francis’s brother, Harry, is also searching. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, he has returned to the Western Front. As Harry travels through battle-scarred France, gathering news for British wives and mothers, he longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last conversation they ever had. 

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they begin to get closer to a startling truth.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Photographer Of The Lost was a book that I couldn’t wait to read. I knew it would upset me, books like this always do, but I was upset for different reasons than I expected. The story about those who want to find missing service men is one I knew would affect me, families desperate for answers about husbands and sons who they knew deep down had lost their lives and wanted to see their resting place. For proof and some form of closure.

It is something, to my shame, that I had never given much though too. It is easier to think that it concerned just a handful of people, but the author shows how many thousands of families never had their answers. The other thing I never really thought about was the rebuilding of the communities after the war. You often see images of the trenches on the news, followed by images of the pristine cemeteries. I have never seen anything about the time when houses and churches were being rebuilt, the cemeteries being prepared. All with respect, dignity and pride by local men.

Many things will stay with me. The nightmares experienced by Harry, his siblings and friends lost. The pride of the workmen and ex service men who were trying their best. And the description of a recently abandoned home that still had a vase of fresh flowers.

Absolutely stunning, The Photographer Of The Lost is one of the best books I have read this year.