The Wartime Nanny by Lizzie Page

Today I’m pleased to be sharing my review for the latest book by Lizzie Page (a new author to me). Thank you to Bookouture for a digital review copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

The Nazis are everywhere now. We must leave Vienna. It might be that soon our letters won’t get out anymore. Can you help, dear sister? Please, ask for us. Send news, and quickly. Please.

London, 1938. Sixteen-year-old Natalie Leeman takes the heart-breaking decision to leave her family behind in Vienna and travel to England to join her cousin Leah in service. Natalie is placed with a wealthy suburban family, the Caplins, as a nanny to their energetic six-year-old.

At first, Natalie is delighted by the huge house and beautiful gardens, but things aren’t as perfect as they seem. While Natalie dotes on their child, she is increasingly wary of Mr Caplin, whose gruff manor and fascist politics scare her. And then there are those still waiting at home – Mama and her two sisters, as well as a blossoming romance with her English tutor that had only just begun.

But when Vienna falls under Nazi rule, Natalie begins to fear for her family, especially her vivacious, tomboy little sister Libby. Then rumours of a possible escape route from mainland Europe called the kindertransport begin to swirl – can Natalie help her family escape the Nazis before it’s too late?

A heartbreaking wartime novel – emotional and unforgettable. Perfect for fans of The Alice NetworkThe Tattooist of Auschwitz and Before We Were Yours.

My thoughts:

Today I’m sharing my review for this historical fiction novel by Lizzie Page, a new author to me. Thank you to Bookouture for a digital review copy via NetGalley and for inviting me to join the blog tour.

As regular readers of my blog know, I enjoy reading books set during the first half of last century, a period I studied at school. I enjoyed The Wartime Nanny, a story following the life of Natalie, a young Austrian girl of Jewish descent, who moved to England to be a nanny to Hugo.

The story is primarily about Natalie’s relationships, those with her Austrian family and friends, her new employers (the Caplin family), the other staff employed by the Caplin’s and her cousin Leah, who has already moved to England. Natalie has to battle homesickness, prejudice and the misunderstandings that can arise when English isn’t your first language. As Natalie settles in, she starts to see that the situation in Austria is worsening for her family, and tries to help them flee the persecution of the Nazi’s. The story examines one of those questions I remember asking years ago when studying history – why didn’t more people leave Austria earlier?

Alongside all this Natalie has to deal with her employers, a couple who appear to have nothing in common, apart from their child Hugo. There are lots of twists and turns in this thought provoking, well written story and I will be looking to read more books by Lizzie Page in the future.

BUY LINKS:

 Amazon: https://geni.us/B089WHBTVJSocial

Apple: http://ow.ly/w91550A5Zef

Kobo: http://ow.ly/DQbi50A5ZcJ

Google: http://ow.ly/SGtT50A5Zhl

Author Bio:

Lizzie loves reading ALL the books and has always loved reading the adventures of women in the past so it seemed natural to her to write historical fiction.

She lives with her family by the sea in South East England. And with her dog. She enjoys travelling and lived in Japan for several years. Lizzie has had lots of different jobs from waitressing and teaching to admin and bingo-calling – but being a writer is her absolute favourite.

She’d love to hear what you think of her books – feel free to send her a message on twitter @LizziePagewrite or on FB or leave a review on Amazon.

Author Social Media Links: 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LizziePagewrite

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lizzie.page.75

View all my reviews

A Year at Appleyard Farm by Emma Davies

Today I’m pleased to share my five star review for this gorgeous romance novel by a new author to me. Thank you to Bookouture for a digital review copy via NetGalley, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the free copy. The book is being published in the UK today.

Synopsis:

Down a winding lane lined with strawberry trees and wildflowers lies Appleyard Farm, a beautiful orchard in the English countryside. And in a little farmhouse in the furthest corner, a young woman has a difficult decision to make…

Life on Appleyard Farm is all Freya Sherbourne has ever known. Having spent her childhood playing in the emerald green meadows and berry picking until sunset, Freya intends to call the farmhouse home forever. But when her father suddenly passes away and Appleyard Farm goes up for sale, Freya’s world comes crashing down.

Holding back the tears, she starts packing boxes while waiting for a buyer. Now the river no longer sparkles, and the apples taste a little less sweet. Until Freya learns the exciting news that her best friends Merry and Willow are moving nearby to open a local shop. And when someone from her past re-emerges, handsomer than ever and offering to mend the cracks in her broken heart, Freya’s eyes begin to twinkle once again.

But falling in love is scary, especially when you don’t know what the future holds. And when Freya discovers that her new love has been keeping a secret, one that threatens both their fragile relationship and the farm, she risks losing everything.

With the clock ticking, will Freya choose to follow her heart or save the farm? Or can she find a way to do both?

Told in four parts, this is a gorgeous story about love, friendship and new beginnings. Fans of Jenny Colgan, Lucy Diamond and Debbie Johnson should grab a cup of hot chocolate, curl up on the sofa and prepare to be carried away!

A Year at Appleyard Farm was previously published as four short stories: Merry Mistletoe, Spring Fever, Gooseberry Fool, and Blackberry Way.

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

My thoughts:

After reading some dark thrillers and historical fiction novels recently, I needed to find something to make me smile and this book certainly did that.

As I said above, I haven’t read any books by Emma Davies before, but I will be looking out for them in the future. This book was originally published as four novellas – each set in a different season of the year but always linked to Appleyard Farm and Freya.

The four sections all feature different stories but link together perfectly. For the main characters, this is a year of huge changes in relationships, jobs and homes. Some need to let go of their past, whilst others need to help them. The book is all about friendships and leaves the reader feeling warm inside. I loved the development of the characters, especially Freya and Laura. Emma Davies brought the Somerset area and the characters (including a large dog) to life beautifully for me.

A 5 star read for me – this was a virtual hug in a book, perfect for an autumn evening snuggled up with a dog and a hot chocolate.

Beyond The Horizon by Ella Carey #CoverReveal #Bookouture

Today I’m pleased to be taking part in the cover reveal for Beyond the Horizon by Ella Carey with Bookouture.

Synopsis:

Suddenly, it became hard to breathe and the sound of the engine throbbed in Eva’s head. The plane crashed and skidded. She heard the wail of sirens. The last thing she remembered was pulling her body across the tarmac an inch at a time—before her world went black.

Sweetwater, Texas, 1943Eva has always wanted to fly away. She jumps at the chance to train with the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots and help the war effort, even if the days are exhausting, the southern nights sweltering. When she’s in the air, it’s all worthwhile: her heart soars, as close to infinity as you can get. And since she met handsome Jack, she has someone to fly back to. But on one dangerous night, everything goes wrong. When she awakes, her body is broken and her memory is gone…

Los Angeles, 1977. Eva seems like a normal married woman with a family to be proud of. When she woke up after that terrible night—a blank in her memory—Jack was smiling down at her. But so many decades later, Eva is still searching for answers about the night that changed her life forever. Why have letters to her fellow pilots gone unanswered for thirty years?What really happened on her last flight?

Ever since that catastrophic crash, Eva has lived with the worst fear imaginable: did she do something terrible enough to make her friends cut her off? Increasingly overcome by frightening flashbacks, where she is fighting to escape from a tiny cockpit filled with smoke as her plane falls to the ground, she desperately tries to uncover the truth. But are some secrets best left buried in the past?

From bestselling author Ella Carey comes a sweeping story, inspired by true events, about the brave, forgotten female pilots who helped America win the war. A story you will never forget, and one that will always stay in your heart.

This book was first published in 2019.  

Author Bio:

Ella Carey is the international bestselling author of The Things We Don’t Say, Secret Shores, From a Paris Balcony, The House by the Lake, and Paris Time Capsule. Her books have been published in over fourteen languages, in twelve countries, and have been shortlisted for ARRA awards. A Francophile who has long been fascinated by secret histories set in Europe’s entrancing past, Ella has degrees in music, nineteenth-century women’s fiction, and modern European history. She lives in Melbourne with her two children and two Italian greyhounds who are constantly mistaken for whippets.

Ella loves to connect with her readers regularly through her facebook page and on her website.

http://www.ellacarey.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ellacareyauthor/

https://twitter.com/Ella_Carey

Pre-order Links:Amazon: https://bit.ly/2C5XLIw

Apple: https://apple.co/2Dunnzx

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2XDlB64

Google: https://bit.ly/3gDx5hs

The Shore House by Heidi Hostetter

Today I’m sharing my review for The Shore House which will be published in the UK on July 20th. Thank you to Bookouture for the digital review copy of this book. This is the first book I’ve read by Heidi Hostetter.

Synopsis:

When the Bennett family arrive at the shore house to spend the summer together, they bring more baggage than just suitcases…

When Kaye Bennett, matriarch of the Bennett family, summons her adult children to the shore house, she anticipates a vacation full of nostalgia. It’s a chance to relive the carefree joy of summers past: basking in the hot sun, cooling off in the surf and enjoying long, relaxing evenings watching fireflies on the deck. But when Kaye’s son and daughter arrive, late and uncooperative, it becomes clear the family desperately need to reconnect.

Kaye and her daughter Stacy have been quietly at odds for years and resentment has grown around words unsaid. Faced with spending the summer months in such close quarters, Kaye is determined to remind Stacy of happier times and why she once loved their beautiful beachside home.

But both Kaye and Stacy are holding something back… and only when a heart-stopping moment on the beach puts what Stacy most loves at risk are the two women finally able to set free the secrets in their shared past.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed visiting The Shore House at Dewberry Beach in New Jersey. Heidi Hostetter set the scene beautifully with her descriptions of the area and the food, which left me wishing I could travel there.

This book is about a family who need to take time to deal with events from the past and make plans for the future. All 5 adults have issues to deal with, ranging from recovering from a near death experience to finding a job that makes them happy. This is a family that need to start to communicate with each other again.

I enjoyed reading the book and will look out for the next book in the series (about a different family).

Heidi Hostetter:

Heidi Hostetter grew up in New Jersey and spent summers at her grandparents’ house on the shore. Every magical thing was there, from sparklers and fireflies at night to whole days spent swimming in the ocean and exploring tide pools. She moved to South Carolina for college where Southern culture inspired the Lowcountry novels. Her first job brought her to the Pacific Northwest, where she lived long enough to appreciate the rain and the mountains and to write the Inlet Beach novels. She and her family have recently moved back across the country to the DC-area and live in a one hundred-year-old house that’s definitely haunted.

When she’s not writing – or reading, you can probably find her digging in her garden, ripping back a knitting project, or burning dinner. She’s recently learned to kayak on the Potomac and is always up for a trip to a bookstore, no matter how far away.

Heidi is currently at work on the second book in the New Jersey Shore series. Her writing partner, a labradoodle named Emmett shares her office, keeping a careful watch for errant squirrels and neighborhood shenanigans.

She loves to hear from readers and answers all her own mail. You can find her here:

Facebook Author Page: facebook.com/AuthorHeidiHostetter/
Facebook Reading Group: facebook.com/groups/636728933179573
Goodreads: Goodreads.com/HeidiHostetter
Website: http://www.HeidiHostetter.com
Twitter: @HeidiHostetter

The Ringmaster’s Daughter by Carly Schabowski

I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for the Ringmaster’s Daughter by Carly Schabowski on my book review blog today – this thought provoking book is now one of my favourite book of 2020. Thank you to Bookouture for a digital review copy via NetGalley and for inviting me to join the blog tour. My thoughts about the book are my own and not influenced by the free copy (or by the author’s dogs – we also have a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel)

Synopsis:

Circus people don’t ask who you were before, or what god you believe in… when you join the circus, you are family, whatever your past.

Paris, 1940. Twenty-year-old Michel Bonnet lives on the edge of the law, finding work where he can breaking in horses on the outskirts of the city. But when the Nazis invade, Michel takes refuge as a stowaway on a rickety train bound for the rural south. It’s a journey that will change his life forever.

The train is property of Le Cirque Neumann – a travelling circus owned by the troubled and irritable showman Werner Neumann. Neumann offers Michel a job caring for the company’s horses – a lucky break, but with an unusual condition attached. Michel must keep to himself and never speak of what he sees behind the glittering curtain of the big top.

But as Michel finds himself pulled into the strange and wondrous world of the great spectacular it becomes more difficult to keep his promise. Why does the man with the performing monkey never speak, and the sword swallower turn his face away? Who are the silent, shadowy figures who flit like moths between the wagons when the sun is down? It’s clear that Neumann is keeping his performers hidden away… but why?

And how can Michel win the love of the beautiful and exotic trapeze artist Freida – the graceful, green-eyed star of Neuman’s spectacular – when he’s been forbidden to even meet her gaze?

A heartbreaking and uplifting wartime novel– perfect for fans of Water for ElephantsThe Nightingale and The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

My thoughts:

In May 2020, during the early days of furlough, I saw this book listed on NetGalley. Both the cover image and the synopsis appealed – I enjoy ‘modern’ historical fiction having studied the twentieth century during my O level course.

The book starts in Paris, just as the Germans are marching in, in the summer of 1940 and the British are heading home via Dunkirk. Carly Schabowski sets the scene of a city in turmoil, with neighbours running away and bomb damage being repaired. We are introduced to Michel, a shy young man, who is the main character. It was only after reading the book, that I realised that this is one of very few books I’ve read recently where the main character is male and is the first male historical fiction main character (the other books were of crime or thriller genres).

Michel escapes Paris (with help from his neighbour Betrand), and ends up travelling with the Le Cirque Neumann, looking after their horses. As the synopsis states, Werner, the Ringmaster keeps his performers away from Michel. The book follows Michel as he slowly becomes trusted by Werner and we discover the history of the various performers.

This wasn’t a book about a circus for me, but a book about how dangerous it was to be living in France in 1940 if you were Jewish, Catholic, disabled, gay or had a rare genetic condition. The circus performers all had reasons to hide and heartbreaking stories to share – including the one who made himself mute so that he couldn’t tell anyone where his family had fled to.

I was entranced by the story telling and could see this book as a movie. The detailed descriptions brought the locations and the show in the Big Top to life. I realised how much I had been encouraged to care for the characters when we reached the end of the book and I was holding my breath to find out what happened next. There are many friendships and romances to discover amongst the heartbreak and betrayals.

This is a beautifully written historical fiction book, dealing with some difficult topics and sadly even in our modern times, some of the same intolerances still exist. As I said earlier in my review, this is one of my favourite books of 2020 and I will be busy recommending it.

Carly Schabowski

Carly Schabowski worked as a journalist in both North Cyprus and Australia before returning to Oxford, where she studied for an MA and then a PhD in creative writing at Oxford Brookes University. Carly now teaches at Oxford Brookes University as an associate lecturer in Creative Writing for first and second-year English literature students. 
Twitter:  @carlyschab11

Buy Links:
Amazon: https://bit.ly/3eMifEf

Apple: https://apple.co/34mzW9h

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2RmjnoF

Google: https://bit.ly/38oTs77

A Very French Affair by Sue Roberts

Life just got a whole lot more complicated for thirty-eight-year-old single mum Liv. Her son Jake is practically perfect in every way, but he’s started asking some difficult questions, and the answers lie in a holiday romance twenty years ago. Back when Liv was staying with her aunt on the French Riviera…

Returning to the Cote d’Azur, with its white sandy beaches, her supportive aunt, and exquisite wine and cheese is harder than it sounds though. Because – if she’s going to give Jake the answers he needs – Liv knows she has to hunt down her first love Andre. And since she’s a professional baker rather than a professional investigator, she doesn’t even have a clue where to start.

At first, finding the one that got away proves even trickier than she thought. And if she succeeds, how will he take the bombshell secret Liv has been keeping? Liv has to do the best thing for her family, but does that mean closing the door on this very French affair?

Thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for a review copy in return for an honest review.

I loved this story – just wish I could have read it on a sun lounger whilst eating delicious food – food is very important to this book.

The story flows well, the characters are brought to life beautifully and you feel much happier after reading about stunning scenery, fabulous food, families, friends and romance.

I haven’t read any books by Sue Roberts before but now need to.

Definitely a book to enjoy on a sunny day.