Historical Fiction

#BookReview
Tangerine by Christine Mangan
@HarperCollinsCa

#BookReview Tangerine by Christine Mangan @HarperCollinsCaTitle: Tangerine

Author: Christine Mangan

Published by Ecco on March 27, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 320

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: HarperCollins Canada

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

Tangerine is a sharp dagger of a book—a debut so tightly wound, so replete with exotic imagery and charm, so full of precise details and extraordinary craftsmanship, it will leave you absolutely breathless.


Review:

Chilling, atmospheric, and ominous!

Tangerine is a well-paced, psychological thriller set in Tangier, Morocco that is told from two different perspectives. Alice, a wealthy, fragile, young woman with a history of tragedy and a husband and new home she’s not entirely comfortable or content with. And Lucy, a dangerous, manipulative young lady who seems to lack a conscience and be driven by an unhealthy, violent obsession.

The writing is taut and vividly descriptive. The characters are complex, flawed, and highly unstable. And the plot, using alternating chapters, does a superb job of building tension and unease as it subtly unravels and intertwines an intricate web of lies, secrets, pretense, desperation, infatuation, violence, and murder.

Overall, Tangerine is a fantastic debut for Mangan that transports you to another time and place and reminds you that some friendships are not only toxic but often deadly.

 

This novel is available now.

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

                                            

 

 

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

 

About Christine Mangan

Christine Mangan has her PhD in English from University College Dublin, where her thesis focused on 18th-century Gothic literature, and an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Southern Maine. Tangerine is her first novel.

#GuestPost
The Summer Will Come by Soulla Christodoulou
@schristodoulou2 @rararesources

 

Synopsis:

Set in the 1950s, the story begins in Cyprus. EOKA, British rule, and the fight for Enosis (unity) disrupt the world of two Greek Cypriot families, living in different villages on the island. They are desperately trying to cope with the unpredictability of this fractious time. Circumstances over a five-year period push both families to escape to London where, as immigrants, they struggle to settle, face new challenges, trauma and cope with missing their homeland’s traditions and culture. Both families’ lives cross paths in London and it seems that happier beginnings could be theirs. But at what cost? A story of passion for a country in turmoil, family love, loyalty and treachery and how, sometimes, starting over isn’t always as imagined.

 

About the Author:

Born in London to Greek Cypriot parents Soulla Christodoulou spent much of her childhood living carefree days full of family, school and friends. She was the first in her family to go to university and studied BA Hotel & Catering Management at Portsmouth University. Years later, after having a family of her own she studied again at Middlesex University and has a PGCE in Business Studies and an MA in Education.

Soulla is a Fiction author and wrote her first novel Broken Pieces of Tomorrow over a few months while working full time in secondary education. She is a mother of three boys.

She is a compassionate and empathetic supporter of young people. Her passion for teaching continues through private tuition of English Language and Children’s Creative Writing Classes as well as proof reading and other writing services.

Her writing has also connected her with a charity in California which she is very much involved in as a contributor of handwritten letters every month to support and give hope to women diagnosed with breast cancer. One of her letters is featured in a book ‘Dear Friend’, released on Amazon in September 2017.

When asked, she will tell you she has always, somewhere on a subconscious level, wanted to write and her life’s experiences both personal and professional have played a huge part in bringing her to where she was always meant to be; writing books and drinking lots of cinnamon and clove tea!

She also has a poetry collection, Sunshine after Rain, published on Amazon and The Summer Will Come is her second novel. She is currently working on a third novel Trust is a Big Word about an on-line illicit relationship that develops between two people.

 

And now Soulla Christodoulou:

Thank you for inviting me to post as part of the blog tour for the launch of The Summer Will Come out on 25th March 2015. I thought long and hard about what I could share with you and then I remembered how my family has always celebrated ‘Name Days’. So I asked my mum about them and did a little research of my own too.

In Cyprus ‘Name Days’ traditionally are celebrated more than actual birthdays which weren’t even registered until the 1900s in Cyprus. This is because in Cyprus, and across Greece too, children are typically named after a Patron Saint of their region,

with the eldest son often being named after his paternal grandfather, and the eldest daughter after her paternal grandmother. This is why it’s common to see a continuation of names in the family line and often cousins within the same family will share names too.

I looked up Saint Days for the Greek Orthodox Church and found that every day of the year, with no exception, is dedicated to the memory of at least one saint or martyr and in some cases there are more than one to celebrate on each day. (you can view the calendar by clicking HERE). 

So what do we do to celebrate our ‘Name Day’? Traditionally, in Cyprus the person celebrating their Name Day has a party and invites all their family and friends who bring gifts of food, flowers and presents. It is a party for all so whoever wants to join in can and in the villages very often the party continues all day and in the evening. The host will have food and drinks ready and will welcome everyone into their home as a way of rejoicing together. My ‘Name Day’, my full name is Anastasia, was celebrated on the 22nd January – I cooked a special meal for my family and I received lots of wishes and phone calls wishing me a happy ‘Name Day’. If I was living in Cyprus I am in no doubt that my neighbours and friends would have come over for a drink and even a dance and wished me Xponia bolla! – may you be blessed with many years!

Each Greek Orthodox Church is also named after a saint, therefore there are also community celebrations for its ‘Name Day’, known as panigiria, which include food, fireworks and fairs. On the eve of the saint’s day, villagers and street-vendors may gather in the grounds of the patron saint’s church to sell local delicacies and homemade gifts and bric-a-brac.

So following in the Greek tradition why not look up your ‘Name Day’ date and if you need an excuse that is, use it as just that and have a party with your friends and family. Thank you and happy ‘Name Day’ to you all.

 

Thank you to Soulla Christodoulou for being a guest on my blog today! It was truly an honour!

 

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from the following link!

 

For more information on Soulla Christodoulou follow her on the following:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Scriggler

 

#BookReview
The Italian Party by Christina Lynch
@Clynchwriter @StMartinsPress

#BookReview The Italian Party by Christina Lynch @Clynchwriter @StMartinsPressTitle: The Italian Party

Author: Christina Lynch

Published by St. Martin's Press on March 20, 2018

Genres: General Fiction, Historical Fiction

Pages: 336

Format: Hardcover, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Newly married, Scottie and Michael are seduced by Tuscany’s famous beauty. But the secrets they are keeping from each other force them beneath the splendid surface to a more complex view of ltaly, America and each other.

When Scottie’s Italian teacher―a teenager with secrets of his own―disappears, her search for him leads her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband and her country. Michael’s dedication to saving the world from communism crumbles as he begins to see that he is a pawn in a much different game. Driven apart by lies, Michael and Scottie must find their way through a maze of history, memory, hate and love to a new kind of complicated truth.

Half glamorous fun, half an examination of America’s role in the world, and filled with sun-dappled pasta lunches, prosecco, charming spies and horse racing, The Italian Party is a smart pleasure.


Review:

Picturesque, insightful, and delightfully winsome!

The Italian Party is an immersive story that takes you back to Siena, Italy during the mid-1950s when The Cold War was still influencing Italian politics, Communism was rampant, spies were everywhere, and in this tale newly married American couple Michael and Scottie have just arrived with glamour, high-tech gadgets, and an abundance of secrets.

The prose is eloquent and atmospheric. The characterization is exceptionally well drawn with a whole slew of characters that are colourful, affable, and quirky. And the plot is an intriguing mix of spy thriller, romance, and comedy, that’s full of life, love, self-discovery, deception, betrayal, grief, friendship, antics, and community.

I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started The Italian Party but it wasn’t long before Lynch swept me away in a debut that’s mysterious, informative, and witty and gave me a beautiful picture postcard of the history, landmarks, culture, and culinary fare of a country she obviously loves and knows well.

 

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 for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Christina Lynch

Christina Lynch’s picaresque journey includes chapters in Chicago and at Harvard, where she was an editor on the Harvard Lampoon. She was the Milan correspondent for W magazine and Women’s Wear Daily, and disappeared for four years in Tuscany. In L.A. she was on the writing staff of Unhappily Ever After; Encore, Encore; The Dead Zone and Wildfire. She now lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. She is the co-author of two novels under the pen name Magnus Flyte. She teaches at College of the Sequoias. The Italian Party is her debut novel under her own name.

 

 

#BookReview
Bachelor Girl by Kim van Alkemade
@KimvanAlkemade @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview Bachelor Girl by Kim van Alkemade @KimvanAlkemade @SimonSchusterCATitle: Bachelor Girl

Author: Kim van Alkemade

Published by Touchstone on March 6, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 416

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Orphan #8 comes a fresh and intimate novel about the destructive power of secrets and the redemptive power of love—inspired by the true story of Jacob Ruppert, the millionaire owner of the New York Yankees, and his mysterious bequest in 1939 to an unknown actress, Helen Winthrope Weyant.

When the owner of the New York Yankees baseball team, Colonel Jacob Ruppert, takes Helen Winthrope, a young actress, under his wing, she thinks it’s because of his guilt over her father’s accidental death—and so does Albert Kramer, Ruppert’s handsome personal secretary. Helen and Albert develop a deepening bond the closer they become to Ruppert, an eccentric millionaire who demands their loyalty in return for his lavish generosity.

New York in the Jazz Age is filled with possibilities, especially for the young and single. Yet even as Helen embraces being a “bachelor girl”—a working woman living on her own terms—she finds herself falling in love with Albert, even after he confesses his darkest secret. When Ruppert dies, rumors swirl about his connection to Helen after the stunning revelation that he has left her the bulk of his fortune, which includes Yankee Stadium. But it is only when Ruppert’s own secrets are finally revealed that Helen and Albert will be forced to confront the truth about their relationship to him—and to each other.

Inspired by factual events that gripped New York City in its heyday, Bachelor Girl is a hidden history gem about family, identity, and love in all its shapes and colors.


Review:

Passionate, evocative, and thoroughly absorbing!

Bachelor Girl is an intriguing interpretation about the life of Colonel Jacob Ruppert, the wealthy American brewer and owner of the New York Yankees who became known for his successful acquisition of the legendary slugger Babe Ruth, the construction of the iconic Yankee Stadium, and the unusually large endowment he left to a young, unknown actress upon his death.

The prose is eloquent and fluid. The characters are genuine, well drawn, and endearing. And the story sweeps you away to New York City during the 1920s when women were shortening their skirts, cutting their hair and gaining independence, prohibition was in full force, and love in all its forms was expressed but still hidden.

Bachelor girl is a fascinating, well-written, richly described story about friendship, loyalty, familial relationships, sexual identity, secrets, prosperity, ambition, life, loss, and love. And even though there is not much known about Colonel Jacob Ruppert’s close, personal relationships, van Alkemade has done an exceptional job of taking historical facts and surrounding them with fiction that is both captivating and exceptionally alluring.

 

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 Kim van Alkemade

Kim van Alkemade was born in New York City and spent her childhood in suburban New Jersey. Her late father, an immigrant from the Netherlands, met her mother, a descendant of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, in the Empire State Building. She attended college in Wisconsin, earning a doctorate in English from UW-Milwaukee. She is a professor at Shippensburg University where she teaches writing, and lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Her creative nonfiction essays have been published in literary journals including Alaska Quarterly Review, So To Speak, and CutBank. Orphan # 8 was her first novel.

#BookReview
The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard
@janetbeardauthor @HarperCollinsCa

#BookReview The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard @janetbeardauthor @HarperCollinsCaTitle: The Atomic City Girls

Author: Janet Beard

Published by William Morrow on February 6, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 353

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: HarperCollins Canada

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

In the bestselling tradition of Hidden Figures and The Wives of Los Alamos, comes a riveting novel of the everyday women who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II

“What you see here, what you hear here, what you do here, let it stay here.”

In November 1944, eighteen-year-old June Walker boards an unmarked bus, destined for a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has sprung up in a matter of months—a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias, and constant security checks. There, June joins hundreds of other young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They know they are helping to win the war, but must ask no questions and reveal nothing to outsiders.

The girls spend their evenings socializing and flirting with soldiers, scientists, and workmen at dances and movies, bowling alleys and canteens. June longs to know more about their top-secret assignment and begins an affair with Sam Cantor, the young Jewish physicist from New York who oversees the lab where she works and understands the end goal only too well, while her beautiful roommate Cici is on her own mission: to find a wealthy husband and escape her sharecropper roots. Across town, African-American construction worker Joe Brewer knows nothing of the government’s plans, only that his new job pays enough to make it worth leaving his family behind, at least for now. But a breach in security will intertwine his fate with June’s search for answers.

When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth about Oak Ridge into devastating focus, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war itself.


Review:

Atmospheric, authentic, and immersive!

The Atomic City Girls is a fascinating story that sweeps you away to Oak Ridge, Tennessee during the mid-1940s when WWII was raging on the battlefields of Europe, and back home the American government was funding a top-secret project that would triumphantly and tragically have a resounding effect on the entire world for years to come.

The prose is captivating and vividly described. The four main characters June, Sam, Cici, and Joe are unique, hardworking, and patriotic. And the plot, interspersed with real-life photos, is a compelling story about life, love, friendship, self-discovery, segregation, survival, tragedy, war, romance, uranium enrichment, nuclear weapons, and morality.

Overall, The Atomic City Girls is a well-written, exceptionally researched novel that does a remarkable job of highlighting Beard’s incredible knowledge into a period and historical event that is often forgotten or overlooked.

 

This novel is available now.

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

                                            

 

 

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

 

About Janet Beard

Born and raised in East Tennessee, Janet Beard moved to New York to study screenwriting at NYU and went on to earn an MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her first novel, Beneath the Pines, was published in 2008, and her follow-up, The Atomic City Girls will be published in 2018. Janet has lived and worked in Australia, England, Boston, and Columbus, Ohio, where she is currently teaching writing, raising a daughter, and working on a new novel.

#BookReview
Songs of Love and War by Santa Montefiore
@SantaMontefiore @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview Songs of Love and War by Santa Montefiore @SantaMontefiore @SimonSchusterCATitle: Songs of Love and War

Author: Santa Montefiore

Published by Simon & Schuster UK on February 13, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 528

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

The #1 international bestseller about the enduring bond between three women and the castle they will never forget.

Their lives were mapped out ahead of them. But love and war will change everything…

It’s the early 1900s and Castle Deverill stands staunchly untouched by time, hidden away in the rolling Irish hills. Within the castle walls, three friends have formed a close bond: affluent, flame-haired Kitty Deverill; Bridie Doyle, Kitty’s best friend and daughter of the castle’s cook; and Celia Deverill, Kitty’s flamboyant English cousin. They’ve grown up together, always sheltered from the conflict embroiling the rest of the country. But when Bridie learns of a secret Kitty has been keeping, their idyllic world is forever torn apart.

Later, the three women scatter to different parts of the globe. Kitty must salvage what she can before Castle Deverill and everything she has ever known is reduced to ash. Songs of Love and War is an epic generational saga about the lasting bonds of true friendship and the powerful ties we all have to the place we call home.

Previously published in the US as The Girl in the Castle.


Review:

Insightful, riveting, and incredibly atmospheric!

Songs of Love and War is an intriguing tale that sweeps you to Co. Cork in the early 1900s when Ireland is full of unrest and upheaval not only due to the Great War being waged on the fields of Europe but in their own countryside where the simmering anger and need for self-identity, patriotism, and independence from Anglo rule are about to come to a head.

The prose is poetic and vividly described. The three main characters Kitty, Birdie, and Celia are strong and independent, and their lives are bound and entangled together by the magnificent Castle Deverill that graces the Irish hillside and in some way each calls home. And the plot is an engaging saga filled with self-discovery, familial drama, social stratification, spiritual occurrences, tragedy, heartbreak, romance, war, life, loss, and friendship.

Songs of Love and War is an exquisitely written, exceptionally detailed, beautiful start to a trilogy that is sure to be a big hit with historical fiction fans and book clubs everywhere, and you can be sure that Daughters of Castle Deverill, Deverill Chronicles #2, is already on my TBR list.

 

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 Santa Montefiore

 

#BookReview
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
@ChanelCleeton @BerkleyPub

#BookReview Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton @ChanelCleeton @BerkleyPubTitle: Next Year in Havana

Author: Chanel Cleeton

Published by Berkley Publishing on February 6, 2018

Genres: General Fiction, Historical Fiction

Pages: 394

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Berkley Publishing, NetGalley

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity–and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution…

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest–until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary…

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba’s tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she’ll need the lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.


Review:

Atmospheric, absorbing, and incredibly heartfelt!

Next Year in Havana is a riveting tale that sweeps you into a country ravished by rebellion, oppression, economic instability, and political upheaval, and a populace that’s confused, disappointed, angry and struggling with self-identity, patriotism, and a lack of freedom and rights.

The story is set in Cuba during both the late 1950s, as well as present day and is full of mystique, familial drama, heartbreak, secrets, deception, history, culture, courage, loss, self-discovery, hope, and romance.

The prose is eloquent and vivid. The characters are multi-layered, sympathetic, and torn. And the plot is well crafted and uses a past/present style to unravel all the motivations, personalities, and relationships within it.

Next Year in Havana is the perfect blend of historical facts, intriguing fiction, and palpable emotion. It’s a beautifully written story that is nostalgic, heartbreaking, fascinating and sweet and highlights Cleeton’s passion for her familial heritage.

 

This novel is available now.

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

                                            

 

 

Thank you to Chanel Cleeton and Berkley Publishing for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Chanel Cleeton

Originally from Florida, Chanel Cleeton grew up on stories of her family’s exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England where she earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master’s degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics & Political Science. Chanel also received her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She loves to travel and has lived in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.

#BookReview
The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley
@lucindariley @AtriaBooks

#BookReview The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley @lucindariley @AtriaBooksTitle: The Pearl Sister

Author: Lucinda Riley

Series: The Seven Sisters #4

Published by Atria Books on January 23, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 528

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Atria Books, NetGalley

Book Rating: 10/10

 

Synopsis:

From the breathtaking beaches of Thailand to the barely tamed wilds of colonial Australia, The Pearl Sister is the next captivating story in New York Times bestselling author Lucinda Riley’s epic series about two women searching for a place to call home.

CeCe D’Aplièse has always felt like an outcast. But following the death of her father—the reclusive billionaire affectionately called Pa Salt by the six daughters he adopted from around the globe—she finds herself more alone than ever. With nothing left to lose, CeCe delves into the mystery of her familial origins. The only clues she holds are a black and white photograph and the name of a female pioneer who once traversed the globe from Scotland to Australia.

One hundred years earlier, Kitty McBride, a clergyman’s daughter, abandoned her conservative upbringing to serve as the companion to a wealthy woman traveling from Edinburgh to Adelaide. Her ticket to a new land brings the adventure she dreamed of…and a love that she had never imagined.

When CeCe reaches the searing heat and dusty plains of the Red Centre of Australia, something deep within her responds to the energy of the area and the ancient culture of the Aboriginal people, and her soul reawakens. As she comes closer to finding the truth of her ancestry, CeCe begins to believe that this untamed, vast continent could offer her what she’s always yearned for: a sense of belonging.


Review:

Poignant, enthralling, and exceptionally moving!

The Pearl Sister, the fourth instalment in the The Seven Sisters series, is predominantly set in the dusty Australian heat during both the early 1900s and twenty-first century as it delves into the life, ancestors, and heritage of CeCe, the struggling, awkward artist who seems adrift and in desperate need of some inspiration, companionship, and contentment.

The prose is expressive, eloquent, and heartfelt. The characters are complex, genuine, and endearing. And the plot is a compelling, heartwarming saga filled with familial drama, introspection, love, loss, grief, determination, passion, and loyalty, as well as an in-depth look at the culture, history, and politics of Australia, including the effects and influence of both the aboriginal people and the pearling industry.

The Pearl Sister is hands down another mesmerizing, superbly written time-slip novel by Riley that continues to highlight her incredible talent and imagination as a masterful researcher and storyteller.

 

This book is available now.

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

                                          

 

 

Thank you to Atria Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Lucinda Riley

Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland, and after an early career as an actress in film, theatre and television, wrote her first book aged twenty-four. Her books have been translated into over thirty languages and sold over ten million copies worldwide. She is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author.

Lucinda’s novels include The Seven Sisters, a seven-book series telling the story of adopted sisters and based allegorically on the mythology of the famous star constellation. The first three books, The Seven Sisters, The Storm Sister, and The Shadow Sister have all been No.1 bestsellers across Europe, and the rights to a multi-season TV series have already been optioned by a Hollywood production company.

To read about the inspiration behind The Seven Sisters series, please visit thesevensistersseries.com

When not writing, travelling or running around after her children, she loves reading books that she hasn’t written with a glass or two of Provençal rosé!

#BookReview
Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore
@PGCBooks @groveatlantic

#BookReview Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore @PGCBooks @groveatlanticTitle: Birdcage Walk

Author: Helen Dunmore

Published by Atlantic Monthly Press on August 1, 2017

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 416

Format: Hardcover

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 7.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

It is 1792 and Europe is seized by political turmoil and violence. Lizzie Fawkes has grown up in Radical circles where each step of the French Revolution is followed with eager idealism. But she has recently married John Diner Tredevant, a property developer who is heavily invested in Bristol’s housing boom, and he has everything to lose from social upheaval and the prospect of war. Soon his plans for a magnificent terrace built above the two-hundred-foot drop of the Gorge come under threat. Tormented and striving Diner believes that Lizzie’s independent, questioning spirit must be coerced and subdued. She belongs to him: law and custom confirm it, and she must live as he wants–his passion for Lizzie darkening until she finds herself dangerously alone.

Weaving a deeply personal and moving story with a historical moment of critical and complex importance, Birdcage Walk is an unsettling and brilliantly tense drama of public and private violence, resistance and terror from one of our greatest storytellers.


Review:

Poignant, ominous, and remarkable descriptive!

Birdcage Walk takes us back to Bristol in the late 1790s when France was full of unrest, war was on the horizon, and the British people struggled with impoverishment, scarcity, impending disaster, and financial ruin.

The prose is expressive and raw. The main characters include the maternal, independent, supportive Lizzie and the jealous, iron-fisted, ruined Tredevant. And the plot, although a little slow in the middle, is laced from start to finish with an underlying feeling of despair and a real, palpable bleakness as the ongoing drama, social strife, economic uncertainty, marital tension, and increasing violence unravels.

I have to admit that even though Birdcage Walk is not my favourite novel by Dunmore, it is still a beautiful, haunting tale that highlights her talent of writing historical fiction that moves, informs, and leaves a lasting impression. The passing of Dunmore earlier this year is certainly a tremendous loss for the literary world and to quote from the inscription on the grave of her fictional character in this novel, “Her Words Remain Our Inheritance.”

If you haven’t had a chance to read my review for “The Lie” by Dunmore be sure to check it out here:

 

This novel is available now.

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

                                            

 

 

Thank you to PGC Books & Grove Atlantic for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Helen Dunmore

Helen Dunmore is the author of twelve books, including The Greatcoat, The Betrayal, a New York Times Editors’ Choice; The Siege, a best seller and finalist for the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award; and A Spell of Winter, winner of the Orange Prize.

Helen Dunmore (1952 – 2017)

#BookReview
The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale
by Rebecca Stonehill @bexstonehill

#BookReview The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale by Rebecca Stonehill @bexstonehillTitle: The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale

Author: Rebecca Stonehill

Published by Sunbird Press on October 29, 2017

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 298

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Rebecca Stonehill

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A compelling page turner of a buried past resurfacing, set against a backdrop of the 1960’s youth culture and war-torn Crete.

1967. Handsome but troubled, Jim is almost 18 and he lives and breathes girls, trad jazz, Eel Pie Island and his best friend, Charles. One night, he hears rumours of a community of young people living in caves in Matala, Crete. Determined to escape his odious, bully of a father and repressed mother, Jim hitchhikes through Europe down to Matala. At first, it’s the paradise he dreamt it would be. But as things start to go wrong and his very notion of self unravels, the last thing Jim expects is for this journey of hundreds of miles to set in motion a passage of healing which will lead him back to the person he hates most in the world: his father.

Taking in the counter-culture of the 1960’s, the clash of relationships between the WW2 generation and their children, the baby boomers, this is a novel about secrets from the past finally surfacing, the healing of trauma and the power of forgiveness.

A captivating story that will mesmerise fans of Lucinda Riley, Dinah Jefferies and Tracy Rees.


Review:

Atmospheric, insightful, and profoundly moving!

The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale is predominantly set on the island of Crete during both the 1960s and WWII and is told from two perspectives; Jim, a young man who travels to Matala to live for the moment and be free from his stifling home life and strained relationship with his father; and Alfred, a young man embarking on a journey of survival in a time of utter devastation and destruction.

The prose is expressive, vivid, and eloquent. The characters are multi-faceted, genuine, and sympathetic. And the plot is a sweeping saga filled with life, loss, familial dynamics, secrets, determination, self-discovery, loneliness, friendship, war, survival, forgiveness, and love.

The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale is truly a wonderfully written, poignant novel by Stonehill that does an exceptional job of blending historical facts, remarkable characterization, and heartfelt fiction into an incredibly moving story that reminds us that life is very precious and often all too short.

If you haven’t read my review of Stonehill’s previous novel, The Girl and the Sunbird, one of my favourite novels of all time, be sure to check it out here:

 

This book is available now.

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

 

 

Thank you to Rebecca Stonehill for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It’s always an honour!

 

About Rebecca Stonehill

Rebecca Stonehill is from London but currently lives in Nairobi with her husband and three young children where she set up Magic Pencil, an initiative to give children greater access to creative writing and poetry. She has had numerous short stories published over the years, for example in Vintage Script, What the Dickens magazine, Ariadne’s Thread and Prole Books but The Poet’s Wife (Bookouture) is her first full-length novel, set in Granada during the Spanish Civil war and Franco’s dictatorship. Her second novel, The Girl and the Sunbird, was published by Bookouture in June 2016.

 

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