Historical Fiction

#BlogTour #BookReview
Chasing Ghosts by Madalyn Morgan
@ActScribblerDJ @rararesources

#BlogTour #BookReview Chasing Ghosts by Madalyn Morgan @ActScribblerDJ @rararesources

#BlogTour #BookReview Chasing Ghosts by Madalyn Morgan @ActScribblerDJ @rararesourcesTitle: Chasing Ghosts

Author: Madalyn Morgan

Series: Dudley Sisters Saga #6

Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on June 23, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 159

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Rachel's Random Resources

Book Rating: 7/10

 

Synopsis:

In 1949 after receiving treatment for shell shock in Canada, Claire’s husband disappears.

Has Mitch left her for the woman he talks about in his sleep? Or is he on the run from accusations of wartime treachery?

Claire goes to France in search of the truth, aided by old friends from the Resistance.


Review:

Historical, menacing, and intriguing!

In this latest novel by Morgan, Chasing Ghosts, she transports us back to 1949 as Claire embarks on a journey to find her missing husband, Mitch with the help of her contacts and friends from the Resistance after he mysteriously disappears during treatment for PTSD in Canada.

The writing is descriptive and smooth. The characters are fearless, clever, and relentless. And the plot, although a little slow to start, is a compelling tale about the psychological effects of war, family dynamics, friendship, suspicion, desperation, duplicity, and murder.

Overall, Chasing Ghosts is a sinister, fascinating, well researched, easy read that has a nice little twist and a satisfying ending. And even though it’s the sixth book in the Dudley Sisters Saga and the sequel to China Blue (Book #3) it can certainly be enjoyed and read as a standalone novel.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following link.

    

 

 

Giveaway:

Win signed copies of China Blue and Chasing Ghosts (UK Only)

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

*Terms and Conditions – UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 

Thank you to Madalyn Morgan & Rachel’s Random Resources for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Madalyn Morgan

Madalyn Morgan has been an actress for more than thirty years working in Repertory theatre, the West End, film and television. She is a radio presenter and journalist, writing articles for newspapers and magazines.
Madalyn was brought up in Lutterworth, at the Fox Inn. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live, as there were so many different characters to study and accents to learn. At twenty-four Madalyn gave up a successful hairdressing salon and wig-hire business for a place at E15 Drama College, and a career as an actress.
In 2000, with fewer parts available for older actresses, Madalyn taught herself to touch type, completed a two-year correspondence course with The Writer’s Bureau, and started writing. After living in London for thirty-six years, she has returned to her home town of Lutterworth, swapping two window boxes and a mortgage, for a garden and the freedom to write.
Happy to be an Indie Author, Madalyn has successfully published six novels. Foxden Acres, Applause, China Blue and The 9:45 To Bletchley are set before and during WW2 and tell the wartime stories of Bess, Margot, Claire, and Ena Dudley. Foxden Hotel and Chasing Ghosts are both post war. Chasing Ghosts is a sequel to China Blue.
Madalyn’s books are available on Amazon - in paperback and all formats of eBook.

 

#BookReview
Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan
@pcalhenry @ThomasNelson

#BookReview Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan @pcalhenry @ThomasNelsonTitle: Becoming Mrs. Lewis

Author: Patti Callahan

Published by Thomas Nelson on October 2, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 432

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Thomas Nelson, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

In a most improbable friendship, she found love. In a world where women were silenced, she found her voice.

From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy.

In this masterful exploration of one of the greatest love stories of modern times, we meet a brilliant writer, a fiercely independent mother, and a passionate woman who changed the life of this respected author and inspired books that still enchant us and change us. Joy lived at a time when women weren’t meant to have a voice—and yet her love for Jack gave them both voices they didn’t know they had.

At once a fascinating historical novel and a glimpse into a writer’s life, Becoming Mrs. Lewis is above all a love story—a love of literature and ideas and a love between a husband and wife that, in the end, was not impossible at all.


Review:

Vivid, compelling, and immersive!

Becoming Mrs. Lewis is an intriguing interpretation about the life of Joy Davidman, the American writer and poet who through a shared conviction of Christianity and love of writing became a close confidant, friend, and wife of the famous fantasy writer, C.S. Lewis until her untimely death from breast cancer in 1960.

It is a story about familial responsibilities, strength, friendship, kindness, encouragement, support, passion, desire, loss, and love.

Davidman was a strong, intelligent, forthright woman who not only found peace, contentment, and fulfillment through Christianity in midlife but also found her true self.

The prose is clear and precise. And the plot takes us back to the late 1940s to the early 1960s, from Ossining, NY to Oxford, England and tells the story of a life filled with loneliness, abuse, poverty, grace, riches, success, motherhood, and romance.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis is a well written, captivating, rich story by Callahan that does a remarkable job of highlighting her incredible knowledge and research into this complex, historical figure who is often unknown, forgotten or overlooked.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

About Patti Callahan

Patti Callahan, who also writes as Patti Callahan Henry, is a New York Times bestselling author of thirteen novels, including this latest novel BECOMING MRS. LEWIS – The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis. A finalist in the Townsend Prize for Fiction, an Indie Next Pick, an OKRA pick, and a multiple nominee for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Novel of the Year, Patti is a frequent speaker at luncheons, book clubs and women’s groups. The mother of three children, she now lives in both Mountain Brook, Alabama and Bluffton, South Carolina with her husband.

#BookReview
Her Frozen Heart by Lulu Taylor
@MissLuluTaylor @PGCBooks @panmacmillan

#BookReview Her Frozen Heart by Lulu Taylor @MissLuluTaylor @PGCBooks @panmacmillanTitle: Her Frozen Heart

Author: Lulu Taylor

Published by Pan Macmillan on September 4, 2018

Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Historical Fiction

Pages: 480

Format: Paperback

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Caitlyn, there’s something I have to tell you. About Sara.

Caitlyn thinks her marriage to Patrick is a success. For one thing, he is one of the few people not to fall head over heels for her beautiful friend, Sara. Life is lived on his terms, but they are happy.

Aren’t they?

When a devastating accident turns her existence upside down, Caitlyn is forced to reassess everything she thought about her marriage, what she truly knows about Patrick, and his real feelings for her best friend. In the refuge of an old manor house, she begins to discover the truth.

In 1947, the worst winter in decades hits England, cutting off entirely the inhabitants of Kings Harcourt Manor. For Tommy Carter, widowed at the start of war, it is particularly hard: the burden of the family falls on her. She has the solace of her children, and the interesting presence of her brother’s friend, Fred. But there is also Barbara, a mysterious figure from her past who appears to want a piece of Tommy’s future as well.

Her Frozen Heart is a thrilling mystery from Lulu Taylor, top ten bestselling author of The Snow Rose.


Review:

Simmering, menacing, and dramatic!

Her Frozen Heart is predominantly set in the Oxfordshire countryside during the late 1940s, as well as present day, and is told from two different perspectives, Tommy, a young widow struggling to keep her family fed, safe, and warm during the harshest of winters, continuing war rations, and an unexpected visitor with malicious intentions; and Caitlyn, a young woman who finds her life unexpectedly turned upside down by the sudden loss of her husband and a secret that threatens everything she thought she knew about her marriage.

The writing is descriptive and unsettling. The characters in both time periods are troubled, determined, protective, and strong. And the plot, including all the subplots, intertwine and unravel subtly into a mysterious tale filled with life, loss, family, survival, heartbreak, betrayal, obsession, romance, misdirection, manipulation, and violence.

Overall, Her Frozen Heart is a clever, atmospheric, brooding thriller that reminds us just how quickly life can spin out of control and just how parasitic some of our relationships can truly be.

 

This novel is available in Canada on September 25, 2018.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                        

 

 

Thank you to Publishers Group Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Lulu Taylor

Lulu Taylor moved around the world as a child before her family settled in the Oxfordshire countryside. She studied English at Oxford University and had a successful career in publishing before becoming a writer. Her first novel, Heiresses was published in 2007 and nominated for the RNA Readers' Choice award. It was followed by Midnight Girls, Beautiful Creatures, Outrageous Fortune, The Winter Folly, The Snow Angel, The Winter Children, and The Snow Rose. She lives in Dorset, England, with her husband and two children.

Photograph by Alicia Clarke.

#BookReview
The Lost Carousel of Provence by Juliet Blackwell
@JulietBlackwell @BerkleyPub

#BookReview The Lost Carousel of Provence by Juliet Blackwell @JulietBlackwell @BerkleyPubTitle: The Lost Carousel of Provence

Author: Juliet Blackwell

Published by Berkley Books on September 18, 2018

Genres: General Fiction, Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 368

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Berkley Publishing, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

An artist lost to history, a family abandoned to its secrets, and the woman whose search for meaning unearths it all in a sweeping and expressive story from the New York Times bestselling author of Letters from Paris .

Present day, San Francisco. During her free time, professional photographer Cady Drake shoots local carousels, a hobby inspired by a gift that transformed her childhood: a wooden rabbit supposedly created by master French carver Gustave Bayol a century ago. And when she’s offered a freelance assignment for a book on the antique merry-go-rounds of Paris, Cady can’t refuse the opportunity to visit the famous carousels for the first time….

1900s, France. In a small town outside of Avignon, a husband and young wife struggle to keep up their ancestral chateau–and start the family they so desperately desire. For the children they hope to have, the Clements hire the famous Bayol to build a carousel, but as the carver and his apprentice work on the beautiful and whimsical creation, fate will entwine them all in unseen ways–for generations to come…

Present day, Provence. As Cady’s research leads her to the dilapidated Chateau Clement and its fabled carousel that was lost to the ravages of World War II, she will uncover a shocking truth in a set of one-hundred-year-old photographs that could guide her in reuniting a family torn apart by petty jealousies over several generations.


Review:

Intriguing, atmospheric, and uplifting!

The Lost Carousel of Provence is an alluring tale predominantly set in the majestic southeastern region of France during the early 1900s, as well as present day, and is told from three different perspectives. Maelle, an independent, hardworking young woman struggling to showcase her talents and prove her worth in a male-dominated environment. Fabrice, a lonely, elderly man who has sacrificed, endured and lived a life weighed down by deception, regret, and unrequited love. And Cady an intelligent, independent, young woman who endeavours to photograph all the lost carousels of France and uncover all the stories and secrets that surround them.

The prose is expressive and eloquent. The characters are scarred, complex, and authentic. And the plot is a sweeping saga filled with familial drama, introspection, love, loss, life, family, friendship, community, mystique, heartbreak, romance, secrets, passion, loyalty, as well as a little insight into the designing and building of some of the most famous merry-go-rounds of all time.

Overall, The Lost Carousel of Provence is an informative, romantic, mysterious tale that is a well-written, exceptionally researched, beautiful, picture postcard of the history, landmarks, culture, culinary fare, and lost art forms of a country Blackwell obviously loves and knows well.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                        

 

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Juliet Blackwell

Juliet Blackwell is the New York Times bestselling author of Letters from Paris and The Paris Key. She also writes the Witchcraft Mystery series and the Haunted Home Renovation series. As Hailey Lind, Blackwell wrote the Agatha-nominated Art Lover's Mystery series. A former anthropologist, social worker, and professional artist, Juliet is a California native who has spent time in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France.

#BookReview
Daughters of Castle Deverill by Santa Montefiore
@SantaMontefiore @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview Daughters of Castle Deverill by Santa Montefiore @SantaMontefiore @SimonSchusterCATitle: Daughters of Castle Deverill

Author: Santa Montefiore

Series: Deverill Chronicles #2

Published by Simon & Schuster UK on September 4, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 592

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

 

Synopsis:

The second book in the #1 international bestselling series about the powerful ties between three women and their determination to return home.

The war is over. But life will never be the same…

It is 1925 and Castle Deverill has burned to the ground. War and deception have divided the daughters of Ireland, but Celia vows to return her ancestral home to its former glory. Kitty raises a young family but longs for something more, and Bridie flourishes as a New York socialite consumed by revenge. Celia works to reunite her childhood friends and restore the place they once called home, but soon everything she knows is cast into doubt as the Great Depression looms.

In the second installment of Santa Montefiore’s sweeping generational epic, Celia, Kitty, and Bridie must once again face the dark shadows of history. Daughters of Castle Deverill is an unforgettable story of enduring friendship and the inner strength needed to start again.

Previously published in the US as The Daughters of Ireland.


Review:

Epic, intriguing, and mesmeric!

Daughters of Castle Deverill is a meticulous, fascinating tale that picks up where Songs of Love and War left off, taking us back to south-east Ireland during 1925 where Kitty is raising her father’s illegitimate child, Birdie has returned wealthy and intent on claiming her son, and Celia is determined to restore Castle Deverill to a more luxurious version no matter the cost.

The prose is polished and rich. The characters are flawed, driven, eccentric, and alluring. And the exceptionally compelling, well-paced plot is filled with familial dynamics, drama, emotion, self-discovery, secrets, revelations, love, loss, heartbreak, courage, duty, and passion all surrounded by authentic historical events of the time.

Once again with Daughters of Castle Deverill (Deverill Chronicles #2), Montefiore has written a novel that showcases her extraordinary talent as a writer and her passion for history in a tale that sweeps you away to another time and place and leaves you yearning for more. It’s a beautifully written, romantic, heartwarming tale that grabs you from the very first page and leaves you eagerly awaiting the final novel in the series, The Last Secret of the Deverills, due to be published in Canada in January 2019.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Santa Montefiore

Santa Montefiore’s books have been translated into twenty languages and have sold more than four million copies in England and Europe. She is married to writer Simon Sebag Montefiore. They live with their two children, Lily and Sasha, in London.

Photograph by Elaine Fattal

#BookReview
The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick
@NicolaCornick @HarlequinBooks

#BookReview The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick @NicolaCornick @HarlequinBooksTitle: The Phantom Tree

Author: Nicola Cornick

Published by Graydon House on August 21, 2018

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 384

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Harlequin Books

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

“My name is Mary Seymour and I am the daughter of one queen and the niece of another.”

Browsing antiques shops in Wiltshire, Alison Bannister stumbles across a delicate old portrait – supposedly of Anne Boleyn. Except Alison knows better… The woman is Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr who was taken to Wolf Hall in 1557 as an unwanted orphan and presumed dead after going missing as a child.

The painting is more than just a beautiful object from Alison’s past – it holds the key to her future, unlocking the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance, and the enigma of Alison’s son.

But Alison’s quest soon takes a dark and foreboding turn, as a meeting place called the Phantom Tree harbours secrets in its shadows…


Review:

Absorbing, heartwarming, and incredibly intriguing!

The Phantom Tree is a well-paced, evocative, time-travel novel set in England during both the mid-1500s as well as present day and is told from two different perspectives, Alison Banestre, a strong, heartbroken, young lady running from scandal, and Alison Bannister, a successful, driven, young woman searching for a way home.

The writing is effortless and immersive. The characters are multifaceted, tormented, and sympathetic. And the plot using a back-and-forth, past/present style captivates and enthralls as it sweeps you away into an intricately woven, suspenseful tale of life, loss, familial responsibility, coming-of-age, betrayal, deception, drama, mystery, love, and a touch of magic.

The Phantom Tree is a beautifully written, clever, unique story, and even though there is not much known about the life and death of Mary Seymour, Cornick has done a remarkable job of taking the barest of historical facts and surrounding them with fiction that is passionate, alluring, and exceptionally fascinating.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to Harlequin Books and Anna at ARO Publicity for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Nicola Cornick

International bestselling author Nicola Cornick writes romantic historical mysteries and witty and passionate Regency romance. She studied History at London and Oxford and was awarded a distinction for her dissertation on historical heroes. It was a tough study but someone had to do it. Nicola has a “double life” as a writer and guide at the stunning 17th century hunting lodge, Ashdown House. Nicola lives near Oxford and loves reading, writing, history, music, wildlife, travel and walking her dog. She also loves hearing from her readers and chatting to them on her blog.

#BlogTour #BookReview
The Daughter of River Valley by Victoria Cornwall
@VickieCornwall @rararesources @ChocLituk

#BlogTour #BookReview The Daughter of River Valley by Victoria Cornwall @VickieCornwall @rararesources @ChocLituk

#BlogTour #BookReview The Daughter of River Valley by Victoria Cornwall @VickieCornwall @rararesources @ChocLitukTitle: The Daughter of River Valley

Author: Victoria Cornwall

Series: Cornish Tales #3

Published by Choc Lit on July 17, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 329

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Choc Lit, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8/10

 

Synopsis:

Beth Jago appears to have the idyllic life, she has a trade to earn a living and a cottage of her own in Cornwall’s beautiful River Valley. Yet appearances can be deceptive …

Beth has a secret. Since inheriting her isolated cottage she has been receiving threats, so when she finds a man in her home she acts on her instincts. One frying pan to the head and she has robbed the handsome stranger of his memory and almost killed him.

Brought together by unknown circumstances, and fearful he may die, she reluctantly nurses the intruder back to health. Yet can she trust the man with no name who has entered her life, or is he as dangerous as his nightmares suggest? As they learn to trust one another, the outside threats worsen. Are they linked to the man with no past? Or is the real danger still outside waiting … and watching them both?


Review:

Captivating, mysterious, and incredibly atmospheric!

The Daughter of River Valley is a lighthearted, Victorian romance that transports you back to 1860s Cornwall where Beth, a fierce, independent, young woman is determined to live and survive on her own after losing her beloved grandfather, and a strikingly handsome, troubled stranger is struggling to remember who he is and where he came from after trespassing in the wrong cottage.

The prose is seamless and wonderfully descriptive. The characters are vulnerable, thoughtful, and intriguing. And the plot, including a series of compelling subplots, interweave and unravel to create a well-paced, engaging story about life, loss, familial love, friendship, secrets, class division, romance, as well as a touch of the importance of industrial mining, and the effects of the Crimean War on the British people.

The Daughter of River Valley is the third book in the Cornish Tales series, and even though it’s the first novel I’ve read by Victoria Cornwall, I can guarantee you it won’t be my last. It’s emotional, humorous, and exceptionally authentic, and is without a doubt a must read for historical romance lovers everywhere.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following link.

 

 

Thank you to Choc Lit and Rachel’s Random Resources for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Victoria Cornwall

Victoria Cornwall can trace her Cornish roots as far back as the 18th century and it is this background and heritage which is the inspiration for her Cornish based novels.

Victoria’s writing has been shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romantic Fiction and her debut novel reached the final for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award.

Victoria likes to read and write historical fiction with a strong background story, but at its heart is the unmistakable emotion, even pain, of loving someone.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

 

#BookReview
The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall
@susieschnall @StMartinsPress

#BookReview The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall @susieschnall @StMartinsPressTitle: The Subway Girls

Author: Susie Orman Schnall

Published by St. Martin's Griffin on July 10, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 320

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

In 1949, dutiful and ambitious Charlotte’s dream of a career in advertising is shattered when her father demands she help out with the family business. Meanwhile, Charlotte is swept into the glamorous world of the Miss Subways beauty contest, which promises irresistible opportunities with its Park Avenue luster and local fame status. But when her new friend—the intriguing and gorgeous fellow-participant Rose—does something unforgivable, Charlotte must make a heart-wrenching decision that will change the lives of those around her forever.

Nearly 70 years later, outspoken advertising executive Olivia is pitching the NYC subways account in a last ditch effort to save her job at an advertising agency. When the charismatic boss she’s secretly in love with pits her against her misogynistic nemesis, Olivia’s urgent search for the winning strategy leads her to the historic Miss Subways campaign. As the pitch date closes in on her, Olivia finds herself dealing with a broken heart, an unlikely new love interest, and an unexpected personal connection to Miss Subways that could save her job—and her future.

The Subway Girls is the charming story of two strong women, a generation apart, who find themselves up against the same eternal struggle to find an impossible balance between love, happiness, and ambition.


Review:

Charming, alluring, and lighthearted!

The Subway Girls is set in New York City during the late 1940s, as well as present day, and is told from two different perspectives, Charlotte, a young woman who yearns to have a career and be more than just a wife and mother, and Olivia a marketing executive who’s determined to prove she deserves the same recognition and success as her male counterparts.

The prose is precise and effortless. The characters are ambitious, independent, creative, and strong. And the plot, alternating between past and present, is a nostalgic, fascinating tale of life, love, deception, betrayal, heartbreak, perseverance, friendship, family, romance, and the world of marketing.

The Subway Girls is a well-written, exceptionally researched novel that highlights Susie Orman Schnall’s incredible knowledge into the Miss Subway advertising campaign that graced the inside of NY Subway cars from 1941 to 1976 and reminds us that even though we’ve come so far the work-life balance is still a very real struggle for professional women today.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Susie Orman Schnall

Susie Orman Schnall is the author of the novels THE SUBWAY GIRLS, THE BALANCE PROJECT, and ON GRACE. She grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. Her writing has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, POPSUGAR, Writer’s Digest, and Glamour. In addition, she has spoken extensively on work-life balance and is the founder of The Balance Project interview series. She lives in Purchase, NY, with her husband and their three sons.

#BookReview
Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce
@ajpearcewrites @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce @ajpearcewrites @SimonSchusterCATitle: Dear Mrs. Bird

Author: A.J. Pearce

Published by Scribner on July 3, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 288

Format: Paperback

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A charming, irresistible debut novel set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist—a warm, funny, and enormously moving story for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls.

London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typist to the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

Mrs Bird is very clear: Any letters containing Unpleasantness—must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant letters from women who are lonely, may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write letters back to the women of all ages who have spilled out their troubles.

Prepare to fall head over heels with Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are spirited and gutsy, even in the face of events that bring a terrible blow. As the bombs continue to fall, the irrepressible Emmy keeps writing, and readers are transformed by AJ Pearce’s hilarious, heartwarming, and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.


Review:

Spirited, poignant, and moving!

Dear Mrs. Bird is an intriguing tale that takes you back to the streets of London during WWII and into the life of Emmeline Lake a cheery, optimistic, young woman who after finding herself inadvertently working on the advice column for Woman’s Friend magazine takes it upon herself to begin secretly doling out guidance to those on the home front seeking advice for “inappropriate topics”.

The prose is comical and light. The characters are plucky, sympathetic, and real. And the plot is an engaging, perfectly paced tale about life, loss, self-discovery, friendship, tragedy, heartbreak, uncertainty, hilarious misunderstandings, good intentions, meddling, and the realities of war. 

Overall, Dear Mrs. Bird is a delightfully heartwarming, wonderful debut for Pearce that does an exceptional job of highlighting the incredible impact war had on the personal lives of those it touched both at home and away and the significant roles and contribution of women during those dark times.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About A.J. Pearce

AJ Pearce grew up in Hampshire and studied at the University of Sussex. A chance discovery of a 1939 women's magazine became the inspiration for her ever-growing collection and her first novel Dear Mrs Bird. She now lives and writes in the south of England.

#BlogTour #Excerpt
Summer of Love by Caro Fraser
@carofraser @aria_fiction

Synopsis:

The dark days of the war are over, but the family secrets they held are only just dawning.

  In the hot summer of 1949, a group of family and friends gather at Harry Denholm’s country house in Kent. Meg and Dan Ranscombe, emerging from a scandal of their own making; Dan’s godmother, Sonia; and her two young girls, Laura and Avril, only one of whom is Sonia’s biological daughter. Amongst the heat, memories, and infatuations, a secret is revealed to Meg’s son, Max, and soon a terrible tragedy unfolds that will have consequences for them all. Afterwards, Avril, Laura and Max must come of age in a society still reeling from the war, haunted by the choices of that fateful summer. Cold, entitled Avril will go to any lengths to take what is hers. Beautiful, naive Laura finds refuge and love in the London jazz clubs, but Max, with wealth and unrequited love, has the capacity to undo it all.

 

Excerpt:

1949

The air was full of the fresh, damp scents of early spring as Meg and Dan Ranscombe turned off the road and walked up the narrow path that led to the back of Woodbourne House. They made a handsome couple – Meg, in her early thirties, was vividly pretty, with dark eyes and chestnut hair curling to her shoulders; Dan, a few years older, was by contrast fair-haired and blue-eyed, his clean-cut features marked by a faint arrogance, a remnant of youthful vanity. They walked in thoughtful silence. It was four years since they had last been to Woodbourne House, the home of Sonia Haddon, Meg’s aunt and Dan’s godmother.

‘I’m glad we took the train instead of driving,’ said Dan, breaking the quiet. ‘I have fond memories of this walk.’

They paused by a big, whitewashed stone barn standing at the foot of a sloping apple orchard.

‘Uncle Henry’s studio,’ murmured Meg. ‘I remember that summer, having to traipse down every morning with barley water and biscuits for him while he was painting.’

Sonia’s husband, Henry Haddon, had been an acclaimed artist in his day, and in pre-war times to have one’s portrait painted by him had had considerable cachet. In Britain’s post-war modernist world, his name had fallen out of fashion.

Dan stood gazing at the barn, lost in his own memories: that final day of the house partytwelve years ago, when he had come down to the studio to say farewell to his host. Finding Henry Haddon, his trousers round his ankles, locked in an embrace with Madeleine, the nanny, against the wall of the studio had been absurd and shocking enough, but what had then transpired had been even worse. He could remember still the sound of the ladder crashing to the floor, and the sight of five-year-old Avril peeping over the edge of the hayloft. Presumably the shock of seeing his daughter had brought on Haddon’s heart attack. That, and unwonted sexual exertions. The moments afterwards were confused in his memory, although he recalled setting the ladder aright so that Avril could get down, then sending her running up to the house to get someone to fetch a doctor, while he uselessly attempted to revive Haddon. Madeleine, unsurprisingly, had made herself scarce. And the painting – he remembered that. A portrait of Madeleine in her yellow sundress, seated on a wicker chair, head half-turned as though listening to notes of unheard music, or the footfall of some awaited lover. Haddon had been working on it in the days running up to his death, and no doubt the intimacy forged between painter and sitter had led to that brief and ludicrously tragic affair. The falling ladder had knocked it from the easel, and he had picked it up and placed it with its face to the wall next to the other canvases. He didn’t to this day know why he had done that. Perhaps as a way of closing off and keeping secret what he had witnessed. To this day nobody but he knew about Haddon’s affair with Madeleine. Had the painting ever been discovered? No one had ever mentioned it. Perhaps it was there still, just as he had left it.

Meg glanced at his face. ‘Penny for them.’

‘Oh, nothing,’ said Dan. ‘Just thinking about that house party, when you and I first met.’

What a fateful chain of events had been set in motion in the summer of 1936. He had been a twenty-four-year-old penniless journalist, invited to spend several days at Woodbourne House with a handful of other guests. Meeting and falling in love with Meg had led to the clandestine affair they had conducted throughout the war years behind the back of her husband Paul. Its discovery had led to estrangement with much of the family. Paul, a bomber pilot, had been killed on the way back from a raid over Germany, and the possibility that his discovery of the affair might have contributed in some way, on some level, to his death, still haunted them both. They never spoke of it. Meg and Dan were married now, but the guilt of what they had done remained. Meg’s mother Helen had been trying for some time to persuade her sister, Sonia, to forgive Meg and Dan, and today’s invitation to Woodbourne House was a signal that she had at last relented.

They walked up through the orchard, and when they reached the flagged courtyard at the back of the house Meg said, ‘I’m going to the kitchen to say hello to Effie. I don’t think I can face Aunt Sonia quite yet. I’ll let you go first. Cowardly of me, I know, but I can’t help it.’ She gave him a quick smile and a kiss, and turned in the direction of the kitchen.

 

 

This novel is available now.

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Thank you to Caro Fraser and Aria Fiction for being featured on my blog today!

 

About Caro Fraser

 

Caro Fraser is the author of the bestselling Caper Court novels, based on her own experiences as a lawyer. She is the daughter of Flashman author George MacDonald Fraser and lives in London.

 

 

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