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

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Homeward Bound by Richard Smith

I’m pleased to share my review for Homeward Bound as part of the blog tour organised by Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources. Thank you to Matador Books for a copy of this book – my thoughts about the book are my own. This is a debut novel and one I’m happy to recommend.

Synopsis:

Homeward Bound features 79-year-old grandfather George, who didn’t quite make it as a rock star in the ‘60s. He’s expected to be in retirement but in truth he’s not ready to close the lid on his dreams and will do anything for a last chance. When he finds himself on a tour of retirement homes instead of a cream tea at the seaside his family has promised, it seems his story might prematurely be over. 

He finds the answer by inviting Tara, his 18-year-old granddaughter, to share his house, along with his memories and vast collection of records. She is an aspiring musician as well, although her idea of music is not George’s. What unfolds are clashes and unlikely parallels between the generations – neither knows nor cares how to use a dishwasher – as they both chase their ambitions. 

My thoughts:

Having read the blurb on the back of the book, I was keen to find out more. This is the third book I’ve read this year with an elderly protagonist – the other books being Saving Missy and Away with the Penguins.

The story looks at George and his family after the recent loss of his wife. His son-in-law, the obnoxious Toby, is desperate to put his father-in-law into a retirement home. George finds a compromise by inviting his granddaughter Tara to share his house near her new University so she can keep an eye on him and report back to her mum, Bridget.

During the story, we find out more about how George’s dreams and ambitions in the music world were derailed, how Tara needs to find her own path in life (and not be railroaded by her boyfriend) and how Bridget needs to find some happiness. Tara and George develop a new relationship, based on their enjoyment of music.

There are lots of funny moments to make you laugh out loud but also heartbreaking moments too. As readers of my reviews know, I always appreciate a dog being included in the story and George has Hunter, his ageing Labrador. I also thoroughly enjoyed the music references and found myself watching Homeward Bound by Paul Simon on You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHI2nWdRdXw

This is a book I’m happy to recommend as a feel good but thought provoking read. Ideal for all ages.

Purchase Links 

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/homeward-bound-richard-smith/1136313433?ean=2940163088645

https://www.waterstones.com/book/homeward-bound/richard-smith/9781838591595

https://www.ink84bookshop.co.uk/product-page/homeward-bound-by-richard-smith

The author – Richard Smith:

Richard Smith is a writer and storyteller for sponsored films and commercials, with subjects as varied as caring for the elderly, teenage pregnancies, communities in the Niger delta, anti- drug campaigns and fighting organised crime. Their aim has been to make a positive difference, but, worryingly, two commercials he worked on featured in a British Library exhibition, ‘Propaganda’.

@RichardWrites2    

richardsmithwrites.com





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The Little Bookshop of Love Stories by Jaimie Admans

I’m thrilled to share my review for this gorgeous book again to celebrate the paperback publication this week. Thank you to HQ Digital for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my views are my own.

Synopsis:

Today is the Mondayest Monday ever. Hallie Winstone has been fired – and it wasn’t even her fault!

Having lost her job and humiliated herself in front of a whole restaurant full of diners, this is absolutely, one hundred percent, the worst day of her life.

That is until she receives an email announcing that she is the lucky winner of the Once Upon a Page Bookshop!

Owning a bookshop has always been Hallie’s dream, and when she starts to find secret love letters on the first pages of every book, she knows she’s stumbled across something special.

Things get even better when she meets gorgeous, bookish Dimitri and between them, they post a few of the hidden messages online, reuniting people who thought they were lost forever.

But maybe it’s time for Hallie to find her own happy-ever-after, too?

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Jaimie Admans – I saw positive comments on Twitter about the book and was pleased to be approved – I was missing visiting real bookshops and looked forward to a virtual visit.

Hallie is a great character – I giggled through the opening chapter describing how she lost her waitressing job. Her love of books and passion to keep Once upon a Page open was a delight to read. The book looks at her family relationships and how her friendship with the ‘resident artist’ develops.

This was a great feel good read, full of books, love for books and community spirit. A perfect book to read for book lovers.

Jaimie Admans:

Jaimie is a 32-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, watching horror movies, and drinking tea, although she’s seriously considering marrying her coffee machine. She loves autumn and winter, and singing songs from musicals despite the fact she’s got the voice of a dying hyena. She hates spiders, hot weather, and cheese & onion crisps. She spends far too much time on Twitter and owns too many pairs of boots.
She will never have time to read all the books she wants to read.

She has been writing for years but has only just plucked up the courage to tell people.
She is the author of chick-lit romantic comedies Kismetology and The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters, and young adult romantic comedies Afterlife Academy, Not Pretty Enough, and North Pole Reform School.

Find out more on http://www.jaimieadmans.com or find me on Twitter @be_the_spark



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The Wheelwright’s Daughter by Eleanor Porter

Today I’m pleased to share my review for this recently published book again. This book is currently free on the Kindle in the UK.

Synopsis:

Martha is a feisty and articulate young woman, the daughter of a wheelwright, living in a Herefordshire village in Elizabethan England. With no mother Martha’s life is spent running her father’s meagre household and helping out at the local school whilst longing to escape the confines and small-mindedness of a community driven by religious bigotry and poverty.

As she is able to read and is well-versed in herbal remedies she is suspected of being a witch. When a landslip occurs – opening up a huge chasm in the centre of the village – she is blamed for it and pursued remorselessly by the villagers.

But can her own wits and the love of local stablehand Jacob save her from a witch’s persecution and death…

A brilliant and accomplished novel that perfectly captures the febrile atmosphere of Elizabethan village life in an age when suspicion and superstition were rife.


My thoughts:


Thank you to Boldwood Books for a digital review copy of this book – my thoughts are my own.

This is the second book I’ve read recently set in Elizabethan England – the era when the Church of England had replaced Catholicism and the majority of people were unable to read. Many were willing to ‘snitch’ on neighbours to earn extra money to feed their families.

Martha, the main character is a headstrong intelligent young woman in an era when women were expected to be quiet and to stay at home. Her mother died when she was young, followed by her grandmother. Her father was a well respected Wheelwright who has turned to drink to help him forget the loss of his wife.

Martha has to deal with the village gossips, whilst trying to find enough food and fuel to survive. As the story evolves, she has a number of encounters with the villagers, some positive and others not. She has to use her inner strength to stay alive on a number of occasions.

The level of detail in the story is excellent, you really get to understand how hard life was. The saddest thing is seeing how a young woman with some basic knowledge of herbs and nursing skills can be suspected of being a witch. An interesting read and an impressive debut novel.

The author:

Ellie grew up in Herefordshire and now lives near the Malvern Hills. She’s taught in Hong Kong, London and Birmingham and published poetry and short fiction. Her novel THE WHEELWRIGHT’S DAUGHTER grew out of walks on Marcle Ridge where a 1571 landslip is still visible and marked on the map as The Wonder. The book tells the story of a world torn by division, where new beliefs jostle with tradition, where to be different can cost you your life. It introduces Martha Dynely, who refuses to be crushed, even when the horizon crumbles and buries her.


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The Sight of You by Holly Miller


I’m pleased to share my review for this beautiful book, the debut novel of Holly Miller. Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for granting my wish to review a preview copy via NetGalley after seeing such many positive comments on social media – I now understand why so many people love this book.

Synopsis:

Joel is afraid of the future.
Since he was a child he’s been haunted by dreams about the people he loves. Visions of what’s going to happen – the good and the bad. And the only way to prevent them is to never let anyone close to him again. 

Callie can’t let go of the past.
Since her best friend died, Callie’s been lost. She knows she needs to be more spontaneous and live a bigger life. She just doesn’t know how to find a way back to the person who used to have those dreams.

Joel and Callie both need a reason to start living for today. 
And though they’re not looking for each other, from the moment they meet it feels like the start of something life-changing. 

Until Joel has a vision of how it’s going to end . . .

My thoughts:


The Sight of You is the story of Joel and Callie – I loved the way the characters developed and began to interact with each other. This is a really difficult book to review without giving away any spoilers – it should be read without any hints or clues about what will happen – and without any interruptions. I curled up on the sofa and ignored the family to enjoy the story of Joel and Callie.

As we currently live in very uncertain times (this book is set in non-Covid times so people can still socialise normally and sit in a cafe – if only!), this book gives you a break from reality to fall in love with Joel and Callie. This is a book that made me cry at the end – a good sign of being emotionally involved in the characters and their lives.

The Sight of You is published in hardback and ebook on 11th June in the UK, and in paperback in January 2021. One of my favourite books of the year, thank you Holly Miller. I totally agree with the Hodder and Stoughton marketing slogan – “the love story of 2020 that will break your heart”.

Amazon purchase links https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07RHV8LF5/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_45G2EbMRY623E

Waterstones purchase links https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-sight-of-you/holly-miller/9781529324341



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Book Review for Hello, Again by Isabelle Broom

Today I’m thrilled to share my review of this beautifully written book – Hello, Again by Isabelle Broom.

Synopsis:

Philippa Taylor (Pepper to her friends) has big dreams. When she closes her eyes, she can picture exactly who she ought to be. The problem is, it’s about as far away from her real life in a small coastal town in Suffolk as she can imagine. 

So when her elderly friend Josephine persuades Pepper to accompany her on a trip to Europe, she jumps at the chance to change her routine. And when Pepper bumps (literally) into the handsome Finn in Lisbon, it seems as though she might have finally found what she’s been looking for.

But Pepper know all too well things are rarely as they seem. Her own quiet life hides a dark secret from the past. And even though she and Finn may have been destined to find each other, Pepper suspects life may have other plans as to how the story should end.

My thoughts

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for a digital review copy via NetGalley – the comments are my unbiased opinion.

I’ve read a few books by Isabelle Broom and have enjoyed being whisked away to different countries such as Sri Lanka, Greece and New Zealand. This book offers a scenic tour of three European cities in Spain, Portugal and Germany – all of which sounded wonderful in very different ways.

The story follows Pepper as she finally starts to move forward with her life after the tragic loss of her sister many years ago. Visiting Lisbon and Barcelona with her older friend and art client Josephine inspires Pepper to seek out happiness, resolve family conflicts and find creative inspiration.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Beautifully written as usual, characters to care about, relationships to develop and an epilogue that made me weep. I’ve also found myself googling how to make mosaics having been inspired by the story.

The ebook publication date has been brought forward to 4th June 2020 and the paperback is due to be published on 9th July 2020 in the UK – these can be ordered from https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B083L7QWGB/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_Jf40EbD79868C

Isabelle Broom was born in Cambridge nine days before the 1980s began and studied Media Arts in London before joining the ranks at heat magazine, where she remained for 12 years. Always happiest when she off on an adventure, Isabelle now travels all over the world seeking out settings for her novels, as well as making the annual pilgrimage to her true home – the Greek island of Zakynthos. Currently based in Suffolk, where she shares a cottage with her two dogs and approximately 467 spiders, Isabelle fits her writing around a busy freelance career and trying not to be crushed to oblivion under her ever-growing pile of to-be-read books.

If you like pictures of dogs, chatter about books and very bad jokes, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Isabelle_Broom or find her on Facebook under Isabelle Broom Author.







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The Plus One Pact by Portia MacIntosh

I’m thrilled to be joining the blog tour organised by Boldwood Books and Rachel’s Random Resources today for this gorgeous romantic comedy by Portia MacIntosh.

Synopsis

What if your plus one could be the one…?



Cara has officially run out of men. Her most recent dates have gone from bad to worse, and when her dating app informs her there is no one left in her area to choose from, she is at a dead end.

But with a summer of events ahead of her, she needs to find a solution, fast; someone to keep her company at the never-ending weddings, family gatherings and gender reveal parties that she can’t face going to alone. So when she meets handsome, confident, Millsy on a night out she may be in luck. They could not be more different in personality, but he too has a summer of events ahead and is desperate to get his family off his back about finding a ‘nice girl’. What if they made a pact to help each other out and be a plus one for the summer? Just as friends of course…?

My thoughts:

Thank you to Boldwood Books for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the review copy.

I discovered Portia’s books last year, starting with Honeymoon for One, and have enjoyed reading and recommending her humorous and uplifting books.

Having grown up and also attended University in Yorkshire, I thoroughly enjoyed the setting of this book – so many books seem to be set in London or at the coast. Cara and Millsy are great characters who strike up an unlikely friendship and Portia brought them to life in a book I devoured in a day.

I loved the pace of the story, the ups and downs of Cara’s summer, the awkwardness of meeting new people as a plus one, the awkwardness of her ex-boyfriend returning for her cousins wedding and the difficult relationship with her cousin and aunt. My personal favourite stories included Millsy meeting Cara’s boss at her wedding and the gender reveal party.

This is a no spoilers review so I can’t say any more about the story, except to say that in the middle of a global pandemic, it gave me the opportunity to laugh out loud on numerous occasions.

Thank you Portia for another enjoyable book – I loved the other books, but I think that this is my favourite.

Portia MacIntosh

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2HJQnC2  

Author Bio – Portia MacIntosh is a bestselling romantic comedy author of 12 novels, including It’s Not You, It’s Them and Honeymoon For One. Previously a music journalist, Portia writes hilarious stories, drawing on her real life experiences.

Social Media Links – 

Newsletter sign up: http://bit.ly/PortiaMacIntoshNewsletter

https://portiamacintosh.com/

http://facebook.com/portia.macintosh.3

http://instagram.com/portiamacintoshauthor

http://bookbub.com/authors/portia-macintosh





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A Wedding at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

Thrilled to share my thoughts about the latest book by Veronica Henry, being published later this week.

Robyn Moss just wants a simple wedding. A quiet ceremony; a picnic on the beach; dancing barefoot on the sand until the sun goes down. But first, Robyn has one very important thing to do – before embracing her future, she needs to uncover her past. As she sets out to find her birth mother, a tangled thread of love, loss and betrayal that ties together three generations of women begins to emerge.

As her wedding day approaches, Robyn discovers that where there is heartbreak, there is hope – and that in the end, love will always win.

My thoughts:

Thank you to Orion for gifting a digital ARC via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

I discovered Veronica Henry’s books when A Family Recipe was published, and I have been reading her books ever since. I’ve enjoyed all the Beach Hut books so far (The Beach Hut, The Beach Hut Next Door and Christmas at The Beach Hut) and was thrilled to return to Everdene. As the UK (and many other countries) are currently on Lockdown, this was also a chance to visit the coast whilst staying safe at home. Although there are some references to previous characters, this book does not require you to have read the previous books (but I recommend that you do).

I love how Veronica weaves her stories together in this book, introducing great characters for you to care about, beautiful locations and lots of delicious food. This story looks at family relationships, friendships, choosing happiness and preparing for a wedding. After reading this book in the sunshine of our back garden, I felt happier and in need of my own beach hut for the garden.

I hope (and expect) to see this book on the summer 2020 bestseller lists. It is a lovely uplifting read and should be enjoyed with a glass of Pimm’s or a fruit cider.

Veronica Henry:

Veronica Henry was a television script writer before turning her hand to fiction. She has published sixteen novels which she describes as realistic escapism – her setting are gorgeous, but her characters have problems and dilemmas everyone can identify with.

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For Emily by Katherine Slee

A little dedication goes a long way. That’s why Catriona Robinson, the country’s favourite children’s author, always dedicated her books to those who touched her life the most – not least Emily, her reclusive granddaughter. 

Emily never thought too much about these dedications. But when Catriona dies unexpectedly, each one becomes a cryptic clue in a breadcrumb trail that apparently leads to her lost, unpublished manuscript. 

It’s a mystery only Emily can solve. But to do so she will have to walk in her grandmother’s footsteps, into the wider world she’s spent her whole life hiding away from . . 

My thoughts:

Wow, just wow. This is the 80th book I’ve read this year (I was furloughed two months ago so I’m reading more than usual) and this is definitely one of my favourite books of the year.

I have a small confession. The main reason I looked at the book on NetGalley was because my own daughter is called Emily. I liked the sound of the synopsis and asked Orion Publishing Group for a digital ARC which I’m delighted to say they provided. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the free copy.

This is a stunning novel which left me feeling bereft when I finished it, not because I didn’t enjoy the ending (I loved the ending) but because I had become so involved in Emily’s journey of self discovery.

The book looks at how Emily’s grandmother, Catriona, sends her granddaughter on a ‘treasure hunt’ after Catriona dies. Emily needs to learn how to be more independent, how to deal with her past (including the tragic accident which killed her parents and left her seriously injured) and to meet the people who met and loved her grandmother after she left the UK for adventures rather than marry young and settle down.

Each chapter features a different bird, partly because Emily loves birds, especially drawing and painting birds. The stories of Emily and Catriona unfold as Emily travels to London, then France and Italy. She believes she is looking for the ‘last book’ her grandmother wrote, however the truth is much deeper.

The strands of the stories are woven so well, including the use of the birds, the main characters are easy to visualise and feel empathy for, and the love of books is apparent (book shops, libraries, books). I will be treating myself to a paperback copy of this book – and maybe a copy for my own Emily (she isn’t good at using bookmarks, so we won’t be sharing a copy!).

This book is being published in paperback in the UK on Thursday 28th May 2020.

Katherine Slee:

Katherine Slee has a Masters in Modern History from Oxford University and is a member of MENSA who left the crazy and chaotic world of investment banking to enter the crazy and chaotic world of being a stay-at-home mother to two children and wife to a workaholic husband. She grew up as a bit of a tomboy, with scars on her knees and mud in her hair, and as a result developed a taste for everything from Star Wars to whiskey, with a dash of ornithology thrown into the mix. When she’s not either reading or writing, she enjoys baking (with various degrees of success), photography and walking the dog. Her favorite place to be is on the beach in France, where the light is always surprising and the ice cream is the best she’s ever tasted.

Website http://www.katherineslee.com



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Life and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor


If your life was going to end tomorrow, what would you do today?


When she learns she has just three months to live Jennifer Cole decides to write 3 letters: one to her overbearing, selfish sister, another to her jelly-spined, cheating ex-husband, and the third to her charming, unreliable ex-boyfriend, each one saying everything she’s always wanted to say. Fearing the worst, Jennifer finds this unburdening feels great. But then as she’ll soon discover, the truth has a way of surprising you …

My thoughts:

Thank you to Ruth Richardson at Transworld Publishers for inviting me to read a digital proof copy of this book – my thoughts are my own and are not influenced by the gift.

Since receiving the digital review copy in February 2020, the title has changed from Death and Other Happy Endings to Life and Other Happy Endings. The paperback is being published on 28th May 2020 in the UK.

This book was a great summer 2020 read, following the life of Jennifer, who has been told that her extreme tiredness is in fact a terminal illness with only 3 months left to live. Whilst that may not sound like a cheerful book to read, a series of events happen which include lots of funny moments when Jennifer starts about setting her affairs in order, sending letters out to people she believes have wronged her and acting in ways she wouldn’t normally have done so.

It is difficult to comment further, without giving away spoilers, but please believe me when I say that this is a great book with plenty of twists and laugh out loud moments.


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