When Paris Slept by Ruth Druart

I’m happy to be sharing my non-spoiler thoughts about this fabulous historical fiction book as part of the book tour organised by Anne of Random Things Tours. Thank you to Anne and Headline Review for a proof copy to read and review.

Synopsis:

Santa Cruz 1953. Jean-Luc thought he had left it all behind. The scar on his face a small price to pay for surviving the horrors of Nazi occupation. Now, he has a new life in California, a family. He never expected the past to come knocking on his door.

Paris 1944. A young woman’s future is torn away in a heartbeat. Herded on to a train bound for Auschwitz, in an act of desperation she entrusts her most precious possession to a stranger. All she has left now is hope.

On a darkened platform two destinies become entangled. Their choice will change the future in ways neither could have imagined.

Beginning on an ordinary day and ending on an extraordinary one, WHILE PARIS SLEPT is an unforgettable read.

My thoughts:

Regular readers of my blog will know that I regularly enjoy reading books set around World War 2, having studied this era at school. I have discovered some fascinating historical fiction books during our repeated lockdowns and this one is definitely added to my five star list. So what makes this book special?

In addition to the gorgeous cover design, this book is an emotional read and left me thinking about it long after I had finished reading. We start in the USA in 1953 where Jean-Luc and Charlotte are living the American dream with their son, Sam. We then head back in time to find out how Jean-Luc and Charlotte met in Paris in 1944, and what happened next.

The story looks at how the ordinary French people dealt with being under German rule, afraid to say anything out loud for fear of reprisals but with hopes that the resistance and the Allies would soon rescue them from the Nazi occupation. We also spend time with Jewish families who have lost their jobs, homes and are facing losing their lives.

In 1953, everything changes again for Jean-Luc, Charlotte and Sam, as the events of 1944 catch up with them. I have to admit that I didn’t see this part of the story coming when I first started the book. This part of the book was emotional in a different way, and as a mother I was torn about how I felt. I did enjoy reading about Paris, the different customs and food, reminding me about my first visit to France.

This is beautifully written, full of emotion and heartbreak, but also hope for the future. The final chapters found me holding my breath, eager to know what would happen next. Apologies for the vagueness of this review, but I don’t want to spoil the story for any prospective readers. I didn’t sleep whilst reading While Paris Slept, this was a book I read in a day, curled up on a sofa with our dogs (there are some benefits to lockdown). I’m happy to recommend this book as a must read in 2021.

Author Bio:

Ruth Druart grew up on the Isle of Wight, moving away at the age of eighteen to study psychology at Leicester University. She has lived in Paris since 1993, where she has followed a career in teaching. She has recently taken a sabbatical, so that she can follow her dream of writing full-time.

A Family Reunion by Patricia Scanlan

Thank you to Anne of Random Things Tours for the invitation to join the blog tour. Thank you to Books and the City and Simon and Schuster UK for a copy of the book to read and review. I first heard about this book during the 2021 showcase and knew I needed to read it. The book was originally published as The Liberation of Brigid Dunne.

Synopsis:

One explosive family reunion. A lifetime of secrets revealed.

When four feisty women from the same family, get together at a family reunion, anything can happen…

Marie-Claire, betrayed by her partner Marc plans her revenge to teach him a lesson he will never forget. She travels from Toronto, home to Ireland, to the house of the Four Winds, for her great aunt Reverend Mother Brigid’s eightieth birthday celebrations. It will be a long-awaited reunion for three generations of family, bringing together her mother, Keelin and grandmother, Imelda – who have never quite got along. And then all hell breaks loose.

Bitter, jealous Imelda makes a shocking revelation that forces them all to confront their pasts, admit mistakes, and face the truths that have shaped their lives. With four fierce, opinionated women in one family, will they ever be able to forgive the past and share a future?

And what of Marc?
It’s never too late to make amends…or is it?

Spanning generations and covering seismic shifts in the lives of women, A Family Reunion is a compelling, thought-provoking, important and highly emotional novel from a trailblazing author in women’s fiction.

My thoughts:

On a wet and windy February day, it was lovely to receive a copy of this beautiful book with a pretty cover. This is my first read of a Patricia Scanlan novel, and I’m not sure why I haven’t read any before.

The book looks at the lives of the women in one family in Ireland over the past seventy years, looking at how the Catholic Church provided sanctuary for one and ostracised another. The book deals with miscarriage, suicide, forced adoptions and family arguments, so isn’t a ‘light’ read but it was a compelling read.

Marie-Claire flees Canada with a broken heart to spend time with her family in Ireland, not expecting to find herself in the middle of a family party where her grandmother decides to spill lots of family secrets after bottling them up for many years. The family then have to deal with the change in family dynamics and the uncovering of more secrets.

I enjoyed this book, swept up in the story, which moves backwards and forward in time for the three generations. As an English woman I hadn’t appreciated how much freedom we had in terms of contraception in contrast to our Irish neighbours. The book looks at the issues of the homes for unmarried mothers, fighting for the right to use contraception and for the abortion laws to be changed, the major changes to the lives of Irish women.

Happy to recommend this book to fans of family drama and historical fiction. I enjoyed curling up with this 500+ page book over a weekend, ignoring the housework and making the most of the enforced staying in to stay safe during lockdown. If we were able to travel on holiday later this year, this would be one of my recommendations for sun lounger reading.

Author Bio:

Patricia Scanlan lives in Dublin. Her books, all number one bestsellers, have sold worldwide and been translated into many languages.

Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

Today, I’m sharing my updated review for Saving Missy by Beth Morrey, out in paperback in the UK today. I received my copy from Readers First and read it over the weekend.

Synopsis:-

Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Woman meets dog…

The world has changed around Missy Carmichael. At seventy-nine, she’s estranged from her daughter, her son and only grandson live across the world in Australia, and her great love is gone. Missy spends her days with a sip of sherry, scrubbing the kitchen in her big empty house and reliving her past–though it’s her mistakes, and secrets, that she allows to shine brightest. The last thing Missy expects is for two perfect strangers and one spirited dog to break through her prickly exterior and show Missy just how much love she still has to give. Filled with wry laughter and deep insights into the stories we tell ourselves, Saving Missy shows us it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. It’s never too late to love.

My thoughts:-


Thank you to HarperCollins and Beth Morrey for a paperback copy via Readers First – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

This was one of my favourite books of 2020 and I have been busy recommending it. The story starts slowly as we meet Missy and find out how small her world has become. Beth Morrey has created a wonderful ensemble cast (human and canine), who work together to help Missy find friendship, family and hope.

As a dog rescuer (we adopted Jake 2 years ago and Daisy 6 months ago), I loved the relationship developing between Missy and Bobby, and the interaction with the other dog walkers. I remember the early days of wondering whether it was such a good idea to have a dog in the house, but very quickly they become your best friend, especially during lockdown. Missy finds herself being able to tell Bobby things she doesn’t feel able to share with anyone else.

In a world where we spend more time with our online ‘friends’ than our real friends, this is a reminder that humans need social interaction and to belong to a community, and that loneliness is a big issue. My father-in-law always had a dog and they kept him going, giving him a reason to get up and to go out. Bobby encourages Missy to get out of the house and meet people. Angela, Otis and Sylvie help her find her confidence again.

My favourite parts of the book are the wedding and the Christmas Day dinner. In a year where we haven’t be able to see groups of friends and family, these sounded wonderful.

This is a stunning debut novel which should be enjoyed with a dog curled up in your lap. I’m looking forward to reading more from Beth Morrey in the future.



View all my reviews

The Winter’s Fail by Sara Madderson

Thank you to Sara Madderson for a copy of her latest book, A Winter’s Fail, to read and review for the blog tour organised by Anne of Random Things Tours. I read and reviewed Parents and Teachers by Sara Madderon in 2020 (see my review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/11/04/parents-and-teachers-by-sara-madderson/). Parents and Teachers is available on the Kindle at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08JH741XP/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_A0ZZ7R77FT6NCBMCF8S9

Synopsis:

It’s all a huge mess.

Emmy is back from years of aid work in India when she gets knocked up by her boss. She fleas to her sister Rosa in Surrey and there she meets Jack, who offers her a dream job and a taste of happiness. But there’s one major problem: how to tell him she’s pregnant?

Rosa is a mega-influencer obsessed by portraying the perfect image to millions of followers. For her, perception is reality. So when someone close to her sabotages the brand she’s worked so hard to build, can she find anything in her real life worth fighting for?

Stacey has walked away from the perfect guy after four kids and fourteen years of marriage. She’s intent on making up for lost time in the dating world, before some bad news shocks her into reassessing what she wants from life. Is it possible she’s got it all upside-down?

The Winter’s Fail is the story of three women navigating love, friendship and careers with all the highs and headaches they bring. Enjoy being reunited with some of your favourite characters from Sara’s previous books too: Evelyn, Angus, Astrid and others!

My thoughts:

I enjoyed returning to the Esher area. to meet the glamorous people who appear to live very different lives to the majority of us, full of designer clothes, expensive school fees and staff.

Emmy seemed the most normal, having spent the past few years working for charities in India. However, she appears to have made some bad decisions about men and finds herself pregnant by a married man who is facing sexual harassment claims (and featured in Parents and Teachers).

Emmy’s sister Rosa is a Instagram influencer who seems to be spend too much time on her phone and doesn’t realise how upset her eldest daughter is about being excluded. I enjoyed the Tallulah and Rosa story, which also shows the dangers of social media.

Stacey is the confident mother of four who has walked away from an idyllic marriage because it didn’t satisfy her. She enjoys her newly single life with a number of young men in the story (and yes, I did blush a few times reading this book).

The book covers some serious issues, including charity, honesty and ethics, but also includes romance, friendship and plenty of sex. If you enjoyed Parents and Teachers, then you will meet some of the parents again in this book. Thanks Sara for a fun escape from lockdown.

Author Bio (from Amazon):

I like to change things up! I spent my 20s as a banker and my 30s bringing up small children and running my own fashion brand (Madderson London).
Now, aged 42, I find myself writing, and I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. 

I’ve always loved writing. My daughter Tilly has an old notebook of mine filled with half-finished stories and accompanying drawings. I’ve read for as long as I can remember, guzzling up books so quickly that my mum always protested that I couldn’t be reading them properly. You can see my original, dog-eared version of A Little Princess in my photo. Its protagonist, Sara Crewe, is one of my all-time favourite heroines (alongside Anne Shirley, naturally).

I published my first book, Metamorphosis, in February 2020, right before lockdown happened. It’s a non-fiction book about escaping from our cocoons and living as a butterfly. As lockdown progressed, I found escapism in devouring lots of delicious chick-lit (for want of a better title) and I realised I had a few novels in me too. The results are Food for Thought and Parents and Teachers, and I have loved every single minute of writing them. I’d like to thank my puppy, Charlie, for waking me at dawn every morning–it turns out that when you’re a parent in lockdown, those early mornings represent precious creative time. 

I’ve published my books independently, and I love the freedom it provides. The world of independent publishing is fascinating and so empowering–I’m delighted to share more of my experiences of self-publishing if you’re interested.

Flappy Entertains by Santa Montefiore

Thank you to Rhiannon at Books and the City and Simon and Schuster UK for the opportunity to read and review this humorous book in advance of publication. I discovered Santa Montefiore’s books last year during lockdown one, when I read Here and Now (see my review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/07/15/here-and-now-by-santa-montefiore/).

Synopsis:

From the beloved bestselling author Santa Montefiore comes a new novel filled with humour and heart about being in control – and losing it. For fans of The Temptation of Gracie, Flappy now takes centre stage, more charismatic and competitive than ever.

‘Fresh, fun and fabulous! Flappy certainly kept me entertained!’ Heidi Swain, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Winter Garden  

Underneath her graceful exterior lies a passion nobody knew about, least of all Flappy herself… 

Flappy Scott-Booth is the self-appointed queen bee of Badley Compton, a picturesque Devon village. While her husband Kenneth spends his days on the golf course, she is busy overseeing her beautiful house and gardens, and organising unforgettable events, surrounded by friends who hang on to her every word.

Her life is a reflection of herself – impossibly perfect.

Until the day that Hedda Harvey-Smith and her husband Charles move into the village. Into an even grander home than hers. Taking the front seat on the social scene, quite literally.

That simply will not do.

Flappy is determined to show Hedda how things are done here in Badley Compton. But then she looks into Charles’s beautiful green eyes. And suddenly, her focus is elsewhere. She is only human, after all…

Flappy Entertains is published by Simon and Schuster on 4th March 2021, and available to buy through Bookshop.org HERE

My thoughts:

When I read Here and Now last year, I needed tissues to wipe my eyes after an emotional read. I also needed them for Flappy Entertains but from tears of joy – this was a much needed fun read during a cold, dark lockdown winter.

I haven’t read The Temptation of Gracie yet, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this book. Flappy starts the book as a woman very much in control of everything, her life timetabled and polished. We quickly discover she has little secrets (such as her real taste in newspapers, music and books) but when her new neighbour Charles arrives, suddenly she has a large secret to keep.

I loved how Flappy changed as she suddenly discovered her fun side, all the time insisting that her evening meditation sessions were behind her sudden glow and change in routines. But what would happen if Hedda or Kenneth found out? Would she have to give up her marriage and beautiful house? This is a no spoiler review, so I recommend reading a copy (available to buy through Bookshop.org HERE) whilst sipping a cocktail/mocktail and enjoy your virtual visit to Badley Compton in Devon.

Author Bio (from Amazon):

Hi, I’m Santa Montefiore and I’ve been writing a novel a year for nineteen years now, which is quite astonishing as I didn’t really think beyond the first book, which took me five years to write. I didn’t think I had another in me, but here I am, celebrating my eighteenth and polishing my nineteenth for publication next year! Most of my novels are set partly in England and partly in a beautiful location, like Argentina, Italy or France. I write primarily for myself so I figure, as I’m going to be living in my imagination for the best part of six months, I might as well choose somewhere lovely. I adore nature, so I tend to plant my characters in rural settlings – by the sea or in the countryside – and most of them are stand alone, except Last Voyage of the Valentina and The Italian Matchmaker, and my recent trilogy, The Deverill Chronicles, which is set in Ireland from 1910 to the sixties.

I love writing. I’ve always enjoyed stories, both reading them and writing them. I can’t imagine life without them. Not only are they entertaining, but they teach us so much about life – and enable us to live vicariously through characters who experience more drama than we do! I’m emotional. I love to be moved. There’s nothing better than sinking into a novel and empathising with the characters as they journey through the novel, experiencing both ups and downs…I love to laugh and cry and I want the book to stay with me after I’ve turned the last page. I don’t need a happy ending, but I need a satisfactory one. I hope I deliver satisfactory endings in my own novels.

I also write children’s books with my husband, Simon Sebag-Montefiore. The series is The Royal Rabbits of London, about a secret society of MI5 style rabbits who live beneath Buckingham Palace and protect the Royal Family from evil. Our son came up with the idea when he was six years old and it’s now being made into a movie by 20th Century Fox, which is beyond exciting. To see our characters in animation will be magical. I live in London but rent a cottage in Hampshire, which is where I bolt to when I can no longer take the pace of the city and need to spend time in nature to find peace. We have two children, our daughter Lily and our son Sasha. We also have a Labrador called Simba who is definitely the most spoiled member of the family. My husband Simon is a historian, novelist and broadcaster. We manage to live and work in the same house without killing each other. My favourite place to write is at the kitchen table because it’s near the kettle and the fridge. If I start a packet of biscuits I can’t stop so I try not to start… but marmite toast is another matter, and a very serious one; nothing can separate me from that.


Visit me at http://www.santamontefiore.co.uk and sign up for my newsletter which I try to write every month, but sometimes struggle, so please forgive me if I miss one or two!

#CoverReveal for Dead in the Water by Chris McDonald #TheStonebridgeMysteries2

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the cover reveal for the second book in the Stonebridge Mysteries series, being published on 27th March 2021. I recently read and reviewed the first book in the series on this blog (https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2021/01/19/the-curious-dispatch-of-daniel-costello-by-chris-mcdonald-thestonebridgemysteries/)

Synopsis: 

The Stonebridge Regatta is looming. The town’s annual face-off against neighbouring Meadowfield is usually a weekend filled with sunshine, laughter and camaraderie. 

This year is different.

A week before the race, the body of Stonebridge team captain Matthew Henderson is found dead in the water. The police file his passing as a tragic accident however, his grieving widow disagrees and suspects foul play is involved. She enlists the help of Adam and Colin, the town’s amateur (self-proclaimed) private detectives to unearth the truth.

Did Matthew simply slip and fall into the water, or is there more to his death below the surface?

Buy Links: 

Amazon: mybook.to/DITW

The Red Dog Shop: https://www.reddogpress.co.uk/product-page/dead-in-the-water

Author Bio:

Originally hailing from the north coast of Northern Ireland and now residing in South Manchester, Chris McDonald has always been a reader. At primary school, The Hardy Boys inspired his love of adventure before his reading world was opened up by Chuck Palahniuk and the gritty world of crime. A Wash of Black is his first attempt at writing a book. He came up with the initial idea whilst feeding his baby in the middle of the night, which may not be the best thing to admit, considering the content. He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs. Whispers in the Dark is the second installment in the DI Erika Piper series, and Chris is currently working on his latest series, The Stonebridge Mysteries, published by Red Dog Press in 2021. 

Old Bones by Helen Kitson

Thanks to Emma at Damppebbles for the opportunity to read and review for the blog tour, and to Louise Walters Books for a digital review copy. This is the first book I’ve read by Helen Kitson, so my first visit to ‘Morvale’.

Synopsis:

Diana and her sister Antonia are house-sharing spinsters who have never got over their respective first loves. Diana owns a gift shop, but rarely works there. Antonia is unemployed, having lost her teaching job at an all girls’ school following a shocking outburst in the classroom after enduring years of torment. Diana is a regular at the local library, Antonia enjoys her “nice” magazines, and they treat themselves to coffee and cake once a week in the village café.

Naomi lives alone, haunted by the failure of her two marriages. She works in the library, doesn’t get on with her younger colleagues, and rarely cooks herself a proper meal. Secretly she longs for a Boden frock.

When a body is discovered in the local quarry, all three women’s lives are turned upside down. And when Diana’s old flame Gill turns up unexpectedly, tensions finally spill over and threaten to destroy the outwardly peaceful lives all three women have carefully constructed around themselves.

Helen takes us back to the fictional Shropshire village of Morevale in this, her brilliant second novel which exposes the fragilities and strengths of three remarkably unremarkable elderly women.

My thoughts:

The synopsis of the book intrigued me, what did the three women know about the body found in the local quarry? Had one or more of them been involved?

The story introduces us to the siblings, Diana and Antonia, who live together in their childhood home whilst loathing each other and Naomi, who knew them at school. All of them are living in the village they grew up in and are trapped by their past. I must admit that I didn’t like any of the three by the end of the story but I did find myself feeling sorry for them, as they had all become trapped by their reactions to past events.

The story is well written and we slowly start to find out what has happened in the past to each of the three main characters. All three have to face up to their past as the police start their investigation and old memories resurface. Although the story is sad in places, the day out in Birmingham for Antonia did make me laugh out loud, especially her visit to a fast food venue.

The message I took from the book was not to allow yourself to be stuck in an unhappy past, but to start looking forward, something we probably all need to do. See below for the purchase links so that you can also find out who the ‘old bones’ belonged to.

Author Bio:

Helen lives in Worcester with her husband, two teenaged children and two rescue cats. Her first poetry collection was nominated for the Forward Best First Collection Prize. She has published three other poetry collections and her short fiction has appeared in magazines including Ambit, Feminist Review and Stand. She holds a BA (Hons) in Humanities.

​Helen’s debut novel The Last Words of Madeleine Anderson was published in March 2019. Her second “Morevale” novel, Old Bones, will be published on 16 January 2021.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jemima_Mae_7

Purchase Links:

Louise Walters Books: http://bit.ly/37dpwKM

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2LPuDKI

Foyles: https://bit.ly/3pdjamn

Waterstones: http://bit.ly/3660WMc

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/365gdwN

Publishing Information:

Published by Louise Walters Books in paperback and digital formats on 18th January 2021

Books on my March reading list

Thank you to the publishers and authors for providing these books to read and review this month. A couple are prizes, some are for blog tours and others have been sent by the publishers in exchange for a fair review.

We will be continuing in lockdown in England for the next month so I’m looking forward to curling up with some good books to travel the world virtually.

Books are:

Triple Jeopardy – Christopher Lowery

King of Rabbits – Karla Neblett

Another Life – Jodie Chapman

Until Next Weekend – Rachel Marks

How to be Sad – Helen Russell

Life After Truth – Ceridwen Dovey

Behind Closed Doors – Catherine Alliott

The Legacy – Caroline Bond

Kololo Hill by Neema Shah

Common Ground – Naomi Ishiguro

The Shadow in the Glass by JJA Harwood

This Nowhere Place by Natasha Bell

February 2021 round up

February is the second month of lockdown 3 in England. The weather for the first few weeks has been cold and/or wet so ideal to catch up on some reading and these fabulous books took me all over the world and back in time.

Historical fiction :

A Beautiful Spy by Rachel Hore, The German Heiress by Anika Scott, Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green, While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart

Fiction:

Flappy Entertains by Santa Montefiore, A Family Reunion by Patricia Scanlan, The Other Daughter by Caroline Bishop, Space Hopper by Helen Fisher, Saving Missy by Beth Morrey, Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession, The Village of Lost and Found by Alison Sherlock, A Wedding in the Country by Katie Fforde, Ellie and the Harp Maker by Hazel Prior and Old Bones by Helen Kitson

Non fiction:

The Domestic Revolution by Ruth Goodman, When Harry Met Minnie by Martha Teichner, What the World Needs Now – Bees! by Cheryl Rosebush

Thank you to the authors and publishers for keeping me busy during lockdown. If you haven’t seen a review for one of the books on this review blog yet, it will be appearing in the next two weeks.

#CoverReveal Damage by Caitlin Wahrer

Today I’m pleased to be taking part in the cover reveal for Damage, the debut novel by Caitlin Wahrer, being published by Michael Joseph Books later this year.

ONE NIGHT. ONE CRIME. ONE FAMILY TORN APART.


TONY has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when Nick is badly hurt and it looks like he was the victim of sexual assault, Tony’s anger flares.

JULIA is alarmed by her husband Tony’s obsession with Nick’s case. She’s always known Tony has a temper. But does she really know what he’s capable of?

NICK went out for a drink. After that, everything’s a blank. When he woke up he found himself in a world of confusion and pain, and the 
man who hurt him doesn’t deny doing it. But he says the whole thing was consensual.

Three ordinary people; one life-shattering event. When the police get involved with this family in crisis, all the cracks will start to show…

Set to ignite debate and as gripping as your favourite box-set, Damage is a compulsive drama from an extraordinary new writer.

Link to pre-order: Amazon:  https://bit.ly/Damage_HB   Waterstones: https://bit.ly/Damage_ws