Tag Archives: #historicalfiction

Review: The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair

The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair

They will dedicate their lives to their country, but no one will ever know…

A compelling story about tenacity and friendship, inspired by the real codebreaking women of Australia’s top-secret Central Bureau in WWII. For readers who love Judy Nunn and Kate Quinn.

1943, Brisbane: The war continues to devastate and the battle for the Pacific threatens Australian shores. For Ellie O’Sullivan, helping the war effort means utilising her engineering skills for Qantas as they evacuate civilians and deliver supplies to armed forces overseas. Her exceptional logic and integrity attract the attention of Central Bureau – an intelligence organisation working with England’s Bletchley Park codebreakers. But joining Central Bureau means signing a lifetime secrecy contract. Breaking it is treason.

With her country’s freedom at risk, Ellie works with a group of elite women who enter a world of volatile secrets; deciphering enemy communications to change the course of the war. Working under immense pressure, they form a close bond – yet there could be a traitor in their midst. Can the women uncover the culprit before it’s too late?

As Ellie struggles with the magnitude of the promise she’s made to her country, a wedge grows between her and those she holds dear. When the man she loves asks questions she’s forbidden to answer, how will she prevent the double life she’s leading from unravelling?

Published 3 March 2021 |  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

464 pages and I read it in a single sitting. Well, practically a single sitting. I had to break to prep for dinner and be “present” at family dinner but other than that, I was basically not “present”. I met Alli for coffee when her last book, The Cinema at Starlight Creek (you should read this one too!), she was doing lots of researching for this book and I was so excited to hear about female Australian codebreakers! I’ve read a bit on Bletchley Park & some women codebreakers (also watched & loved that Netflix series, The Bletchley Circle) so this was a most anticipated release for me and I LOVED it!

‘So we cling to hope and stars?’

‘With all our might.’

There were just many things I loved about this novel. From a most inspiring protagonist to a swoony romance to the realisation of just how many women in the past have fought (and most, in silence) for us to be where we are today (and we are not done!).

The men suffer in silence, never ones to talk about the tragedies they’ve suffered. We women try to hold everyone up with our strength, until our knees shake and our arms threaten to drop the heavy load. But we do it. We carry everyone who needs support. We help the world right itself and nurture those who need it most. Women are incredible creatures; don’t you ever forget it. So, if you have the chance to do something you want, take it and don’t be apologetic. Women spend too much time bowing to society’s expectations instead of allowing ourselves to be who we truly are.

Set in 1940s Queensland, in the height of World War II and its immediate aftermath, we follow Elanora O’Sullivan as she served to end a war she did not believe in, found & lost friends and love, struggled to find her place in the world as a woman who knows she’s as good as the men around her.

The Codebreakers is a fictional tale inspired by just such intelligent, strong, and courageous women and such an empowering story! It’s ticked so many boxes and filled up my heart meter to the max. I cannot wait to see what Alli’s next book will be.

Thanks to Harlequin Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Alli Sinclair, an adventurer at heart, has won multiple awards for her writing. She is Australian and has lived in Argentina, Peru and Canada, and has climbed some of the world’s highest mountains, worked as a tour guide in South and Central America and has travelled the globe. She enjoys immersing herself in exotic destinations, cultures and languages but Australia has always been close to Alli’s heart. Alli hosts retreats for writers and presents writing workshops around Australia, as well as working in film on international projects. She’s a volunteer role model with Books in Homes and is an ambassador for the Fiji Book Drive. Alli’s books explore history, culture, love and grief, and relationships between family, friends and lovers. She captures the romance and thrill of discovering old and new worlds, and loves taking readers on a journey of discovery.

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  facebook  |  instagram

Blog Tour: Footprints on the Moon by Lorraine Marwood

Footprints on the Moon by Lorraine Marwood

Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Publication Date: 2 February 2021
Australian RRP: $16.99

Humans are about to leave footprints on the moon, but what sort of mark can one girl make here on earth?

It’s 1969 and life is changing fast. Sharnie Burley is starting high school and finding it tough to make new friends. As the world waits to see if humans will land on the moon, the Vietnam War rages overseas. While her little cousin, Lewis, makes pretend moon boots, young men are being called up to fight, sometimes without having any choice in the matter. Sometimes without ever coming home.

Dad thinks serving your country in a war is honourable, but when Sharnie’s older sister, Cas, meets a returned soldier and starts getting involved in anti-war protests, a rift in their family begins to show. Sharnie would usually turn to her grandma for support, but lately Gran’s been forgetting things.

Can she find her own way in this brave new world?

Buy at:  booktopia  |  Dymocks  | A&R  | QBD

My Blurb (5/5 stars)

How can we look up

and touch the moon,

when we don’t know how

to look across to our neighbours

to listen and take note

of their opinions?

I had no idea that this book was in verse until I crack open to the first page. And I’m always surprised by just how much an author can get across with so little words. Well, if you’ve been reading my review, you know I cry a lot – that’s usually an indication of how much a book got to me. Did I cry in this one? Gosh, yes, I found it hard to hold my tears at bay for the last 20 pages. Oh, um, my 11 yo also predicted that I’d cry lol

Footprints on the Moon is set in 1969, in an Australian town. Sharnie Burley is finding that life is changing and moving in an unknown direction. As she struggles to find her own direction for life, she turns to her grandmother for advice. And later on, she finds wisdom in her sister and a friend. Meanwhile, the world at large did not stop. Apollo 11 is on its way to the moon and the Vietnam War is dividing friends & families.

A beautiful coming-of-age story where we not only see the protagonist finding her feet but also her unique voice. The author was woven world’s events quite seamlessly into the lives of these characters and while they are not a direct participants, that did not stop them from leaving their own marks in the world. A great discussion starter to get the young ones involved in current affairs and/or how to voice ones opinions.

Thanks to University of Queensland Press for copy of book in exchange of honest review. And thanks, AusYABloggers for organising the tour.

Find all the other stops by following the Tour Schedule 

About the author

Lorraine Marwood was born and raised in rural Victoria and has lived for most of her married life on a dairy farm with her husband and their six children. Lorraine is an award-winning poet who has been widely published in literary magazines across Australia, as well as magazines in the UK, USA, New Zealand and Canada. She has also published several children’s novels and collections of poetry.

 

Find Lorraine on: goodreads  |  website  | facebook  |  twitter  | instagram

Review: Nottingham by Nathan Makaryk

Nottingham (Nottingham #1) by Nathan Makaryk

Nathan Makaryk’s debut novel is a gripping historical epic – full of action, intrigue and adventure – and a fascinating retelling of the Robin Hood legend.

Nottingham mixes history and myth into a compelling novel of power, ambition and heroism – one that twists and turns far beyond the traditional tale of Sherwood Forest’s iconic thief.‘The most pleasurable reading experience I’ve had since first discovering George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.’Bryan Cogman, Co-Executive Producer/Writer, Game of Thrones

England, 1191. King Richard is half a world away, fighting for God and his own ambition.

Back home, the country languishes, bankrupt and on the verge of anarchy. People with power are running unchecked. People without are growing angry. And in Nottingham, the largest and wealthiest shire in England, a dangerously passive sheriff seems intent on doing nothing.

As the leaves turn gold in the Sherwood Forest, the lives of six people – Robin and William, soldiers running from their pasts; Marian, a noblewoman working for change; Arable, a servant girl with a secret; Guy of Gisbourne, a beleaguered guard captain; and Elena Gamwell, a brash, ambitious thief – become intertwined.

And a strange story begins to spread.

Published 20 August 2019 |  Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a Robin Hood retelling. I know I own a YA one which I have yet to read. This premise of mixing history and myth intrigued me and while it was a tad slow at the beginning (mostly due to my having to struggle to adjust to multiple perspectives), the novel was brilliantly executed.

The novel opens with brothers-in-arms Robin of Locksley and William De Wendenal marching in the Crusades with King Richard. There was an issue with the army’s supplies and they were sent back to England to sort this out. When Robin and William returned, they tracked these supplies to Nottingham and found themselves embroiled the local politics as the people are in a state of unrest. Their seemingly simple original mission suddenly lost its priority as they were buried deeper in the mire of love, betrayals, deceptions, and deaths.

There were so many perspectives in this novel that I feel there really isn’t a ‘primary’ one. We hear from Robin and William, of course, but also Guy of Gisbourne (only the captain), Sheriff Roger De Lacy, Marion, Elena Gamwell, and a number of others. After about halfway, the novel picks up on the pace and I really couldn’t bear to put it down for the last 100 pages! That ending though… I need some support (please PM me if you’ve read it as I could barely believer my eyes… WHAT did I just read?).

I really wanted to revisit the 1973 cartoon while I was in the middle of reading this and wow, this novel totally blew that cartoon out of the water. As much I enjoyed the cartoon, it was mostly due to childhood reminiscence, this novel, Nottingham, is an epic retelling of Robin Hood filled with strong female characters, complex villains, and an intricate web of intrigues.

Thanks to Penguin Random House Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Nathan Makaryk, above all other things, hates writing bios about himself.

Nathan’s debut novel NOTTINGHAM was released in August 2019 by Tor/Forge (US) and Bantam (AUS), with a sequel LIONHEARTS to follow in 2020.

Nathan is a theater owner, playwright, director, actor and improv comedian, living in southern California. None of these pay very well, so he also has a real job teaching audio systems networking software to people who have no idea he’s also a novelist and theater guy.

He likes dogs and scotch because of course he does.

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  facebook

Blog Tour: Deadly Curious by Cindy Anstey + Giveaway (INT)

Deadly Curious
Cindy Anstey
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: June 23rd 2020
Genres: Historical Romance, Young Adult

A twisty tale reminiscent of Jane Austen—with a dash of murder—Cindy Anstey’s Deadly Curious is perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Agatha Christie.

Some secrets are better left buried…

1834. Sophia Thompson wants nothing more than to be one of the famed Bow Street Runners, London’s most elite corps of detectives. Never mind that a woman has never before joined their ranks—and certainly never mind that her reclusive family has forbidden her from pursuing such an unladylike goal.

She gets the chance to prove her capabilities when an urgent letter arrives from her frantic cousin Daphne, begging Sophia to come look into the suspicious death of Daphne’s brother.

As Sophia begins to unravel the tangled threads of the case—with the help of a charming young policeman—she soon realizes that the murderer may be even closer to her family than she ever suspected.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Cindy Anstey is one of my favourite authors so, of course, I just have to read whatever she writes! Her books are usually young adult mystery set in regency period and this is a winner! I love Jane Austen and throw in a mix of YA mystery, it’s like candy to my brain.

Sophia Thompson is an easily likeable heroine. As her family’s social situation has altered, she does not think that she’s eligible for the marriage market anymore. Therefore, she must look to her own future welfare by finding a suitable job/career and she’s settled on becoming a Bow Street Runner because she loves solving puzzles. There isn’t a female Bow Street Runner but she’s sure she can be the first.

Her chance to prove herself comes when her cousin begs her to solve her brother’s murder. When Sophia arrives, she finds that there are sinister workings to hurt her cousin and family. She also finds that Bow Street has sent a young Runner of their own to look into this case. As she and Jeremy, the young detective, put their heads together, they find that they work very well as a team and maybe, also as partners in life.

I was hoping for a romp through the regency period and that’s exactly what I got. The mystery was okay and the romance was sort of cute but I really did enjoy the setting a lot. I just sat back and be entertained for a few hours; Deadly Curious was a candy-floss-fun read.

Thank you Swoon Reads and Xpresso Book Tours for including me in this blog tour & ecopy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

GIVEAWAY (International)

Follow below Rafflecopter link to enter to win a print copy of Deadly Curious

(ends Jul-02)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester.

Find author on: Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

XBTBanner1

Blog Tour: The Year the Maps Changed by Danielle Binks

 

The Year the Maps Changed by Danielle Binks

Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publication Date: 28 April 2019
Australian RRP: $17.99

I was eleven when everything started and twelve by the end. But that’s another way maps lie, because it felt like the distance travelled was a whole lot further than that. 

 Sorrento, Victoria – 1999 

Fred’s family is a mess. Fred’s mother died when she was six and she’s been raised by her Pop and adoptive father, Luca, ever since. But now Pop is at the Rye Rehabilitation Centre recovering from a fall; Luca’s girlfriend, Anika, has moved in; and Fred’s just found out that Anika and Luca are having a baby of their own. More and more it feels like a land-grab for family and Fred is the one being left off the map.

But even as the world feels like it’s spinning out of control, a crisis from the other side of it comes crashing in. When 400 Kosovar-Albanian refugees arrive in the middle of the night to be housed at one of Australia’s ‘safe havens’ on an isolated headland not far from Sorrento, their fate becomes intertwined with the lives of Fred and her family, as she navigates one extraordinary year that will change them all.

Buy at:  booktopia  |  dymocks  | QBD  | Hachette Australia

My Blurb (5/5 stars)

11 year old Winifred Owen-Ricci felt her world shifting once again. There was that big one when her mother died but this year, her 11th year, she felt her world to lose its smoothness and little bumps and lumps are emerging. Just as she has to adjust herself to her father’s new partner and her son moving in, a group of Kosovar-Albanian refugees were brought in to a ‘safe haven’ not far from her town. As her life touches those of the refugees’ so begin some little ripples of change but what can an 11 year old girl do to help?

The Year the Maps Changed was such an easy and engaging book to read. I was quickly drawn into Winnie’s (aka Fred’s or Freddo’s) world and fell in love… with her parents. It is heartwarming to see a good parental models in MG fiction though not to say that they are perfect but they try and mostly, they do good. The novel primarily is about a child’s life in a small town as she struggles to fit in into her new blended family.

The novel also dealt with a contemporary issues of refugees. And while it refers specifically to the Kosovar-Albanian ones who came to Australia in 1999, the same issue and concern still exist today in regard to refugees. Even as Winnie is confused about her spot in the family, she and her friends are also curious about the refugees and the reason for the war. Her sympathy engaged, she dared to put out a helping hand.

I got my 10 year old boy to read this too but unfortunately, it failed to engage him. He does not think himself as a reader and when he does read, he prefers books with the typical boy humour (a very narrow preference). He thinks it is boring because it’s just about everyday life where nothing really happens. He has been very fortunate in having grown up in a rather traditional family structure, I think, that he lacks the appreciation how much a struggle ‘everyday life’ could be when your family structure & dynamics change. From my perspective (I grew up with older half siblings), this novel has dealt with this issue sensitively and provided a lovely broad perspective of just how it could all work.

Life, as we all know, is never a smooth ride. Just as you think to switch the cruise control on, there’s a turn or a bump coming up and you’ll have to navigate manually. In The Year the Maps Changed, Winnie’s world (aka map) was changing and expanding with additional turns, cracks, and bumps. Changes come in all forms and many different directions; from her life’s centre (her family) to her friends to worldwide concerns. She is learning to negotiate life inside out, growing and expanding herself to adjust to her new world. Beautifully set by Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, The Year the Maps Changed is a new & gorgeous landmark in all readers’ landscapes or it should be!

Thanks to Date a Book, Hachette Australia, & Hachette New Zealand for copy of book in exchange of honest review. And thanks, AusYABloggers for organising the tour.

Find all the other stops by following the Tour Schedule 

About the author

Danielle Binks is a Melbourne-based writer, reviewer, agent, book blogger and Youth Literature Advocate. In 2017, she edited and contributed to Begin, End, Begin, an anthology of new Australian young adult writing inspired by the #LoveOzYA movement, which won the ABIA Book of the Year for Older Children (Ages 13+) and was shortlisted in the 2018 Gold Inky Awards. The Year the Maps Changed is Danielle’s debut middle-grade novel coming out with Hachette Australia in 2020.

Find Danielle on: goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  | instagram

Review: Lizard’s Tale by Weng Wai Chan

Lizard’s Tale by Weng Wai Chan

A thief. A spy. A mysterious codebook. And a whole lot of trouble.

It’s 1940 and World War II is being fought in faraway Europe. Lizard doesn’t know much about that. He lives in Singapore’s Chinatown, surviving on odd jobs and petty theft.

When Boss Man Beng asks him to steal a teak box from a suite in the glamorous Raffles Hotel, Lizard knows the job is important. But can he know just how dangerous it is?

A sinister man appears in the shadows, and Lizard’s best friend, Lili, shows up with unexpected fighting skills and her eyeon what’s in the box.

And Lizard finds himself on an exciting, action-packed adventure in a world of coded secrets, Japanese invasion plans and undercover spies.

Published 2 July 2019 |  Publisher: Text Publishing |  RRP: USD$16.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

Gosh, I loved this now as I read it in my late 30s and I can just imagine how much I would’ve adored this book were I to read it 30 years ago! It has everything I love from the cute cover, a very capable Chinese girl, to a beautiful bittersweet ending.

Lizard is the name of this 12 year-old boy who has no one is known by. While he himself if a clever young fellow, he does not know his way around big cities. Luckily, he found help in a Chinese girl called Lili and the two formed a friendship, of sort. Lizard, these days, will do all sorts of things to stay above water. Meantime, he kept an eye out for his missing uncle. Until the day that he inadvertently got involved in something well beyond his ken. Lucky for him, there are friends who cared for him who are willing to help.

Let me provide a complete list of things I loved of this novel:
🦎 Cute eye-catching cover
🦎 own voice (POC) author
🦎 Great characters: resilient & courageous MC with brave & resourceful sidekicks
🦎 Friendship Friendship Friendship
🦎 Set in Asia (Singapore)
🦎 Diverse characters (and let me stress the DIVERSE here)
🦎 Set in WW2 (or just before)

A terrific mystery, fast paced plot, and marvellous characters, Lizard’s Tale is highly recommended for readers of ALL ages!

Thanks to Text Publishing via Netgalley for ecopy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Weng Wai Chan was born and grew up in Singapore. She now lives in Auckland with her husband and three children. Lizard’s Tale is her first book.

Find author on:  goodreads  |  twitter

Review: A Murder at Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

A Murder at Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry #1) by Sujata Massey

A legally-minded sleuth takes to the streets of 1920s Bombay in a fascinating new mystery.

Introducing Miss Perveen Mistry, the star of an outstanding new crime series. This courageous, likeable and determined young lawyer-turned-sleuth will appeal to readers of Phryne Fisher and Precious Ramotswe in a stunning combination of crime and mystery set in 1920s Bombay.

Armed with a legal education from Oxford, Perveen Mistry has joined her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India.

Mistry Law has been appointed to execute the will of Mr Omar Farid, a wealthy mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen examines the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. What future will they have?

Perveen is suspicious, especially since one of the widows has signed her form with an X-could she even read the document? The Farid widows live in strict seclusion, never leaving the women’s quarters or speaking to any men. With her own tragic history close to her heart, Perveen worries that the women are vulnerable to injustice.

As Perveen comes closer to the truth, tensions escalate to murder, the widows fall under suspicion and Perveen must figure out what’s really happening on Malabar Hill.

Published 7 January 2020 |  Publisher: Allen & Unwin  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R |  QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

There are certain countries I favour for novel settings and India being one of them. However, I do not like to read too many as they are usually quite heartbreaking to read, for example A Fine Balance, which I read 10+ years ago and still haunted me to this day. Being a mystery lover, too, I just could not walk away from this novel.

A Murder at Malabar Hill follows Perveen Mistry as she conducts her business being the first female lawyer in 1921 Bombay. Even as she works in her father’s firm with the full support of her family (one of the best families I’ve ever read in fiction!), she is mostly working behind the scenes (contracts & wills).

One of her father’s client has passed away without a will and his wives live in purdah necessitating the engagement of a house agent to act on their behalf. Paperworks sent to Perveen, however, raised some interesting questions and as a woman, Perveen can actually interview the ladies. In doing so, unfortunately, she has opened a can of worms… Worse than that, a murder! Yet again, she’s the only woman permitted to enter the zenana to question the ladies. This time, she’s actually courting danger.

In between chapters of the ‘present’, there were chapters relating to her life 3 years ago. I didn’t like these chapters because I never liked reading about the way women were treated then. And it wasn’t just the men, it’s how women treat others too which just makes it sadder. Plus, it was rather disruptive to the ‘present’ narrative. Even if there are only 3 years difference in time, this just highlighted again how amazing the Mistry family is especially Pappa Mistry.

A Murder at Malabar Hill is an enjoyable historical mystery set in an exotic place and time featuring an intelligent & courageous female protagonist who seeks a better future for her country and also her sex. I find the novel to be quite respectful about choice – bad or good, it is the individual’s right to make and no other. Best of all, that ‘girl-power’ moment at the end.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Sujata Massey was born in England to parents from India and Germany, was raised mostly in St. Paul, Minnesota, and lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She was a features reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun before becoming a full-time novelist. Her novels have won the Agatha, Shamus and Macavity awards and been finalists for the Edgar, Anthony, Harper Lee Legal Fiction and Mary Higgins Clark prizes. A Murder at Malabar Hill was originally published in the United States under the title The Widows of Malabar Hill.

Find Sujata on:  goodreads  |   twitter  |  facebook  |  instagram  | website  | pinterest

Blog Tour: Gone by Nightfall by Dee Garretson -a Review + Giveaway (US only)

Gone by Nightfall
Dee Garretson
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: January 21st 2020
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

A young woman is torn between her home and her dreams during the Russian Revolution.

It’s 1916, and Charlotte Mason is determined to make a life for herself in czarist Russia. When her mother dies, Charlotte is forced to put her plans to go to medical school aside to care for her unruly siblings. Then a handsome new tutor arrives. Charlotte has high hopes that he’ll stay, freeing her up to follow her dreams of becoming a doctor. But there’s more to Dmitri that meets the eye.

Just when she thinks she can get her life back, Russia descends into revolution and chaos. Now, not only does Charlotte need to leave Russia, she needs to get her siblings out too–and fast.

Can Charlotte flee Russia, keep her siblings safe, and uncover Dmitri’s many secrets before she runs out of time?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

I think my love for Russia as setting got to come from my love for ballet as a child. I have since devoured many books which are set in Russia including some of those big classics like War & Peace. And as the setting in this book is WWI and just before the outbreak of Russian Revolution, there were bits of it which reminds me of War & Peace even if, in time, they are a century apart.

Gone by Nightfall is told strictly from the perspective of Charlotte Mason. When her mother died, she has promised to take care of everything and so she took on her mother’s mantle in caring for her family and also the hospital her mother built. I love this family and their easygoing way caring for each other. It is a big blended family (6 children including Charlotte) with a rather older man as head (Charlotte’s stepfather).

Even as Charlotte struggled to find the time and energy to oversee all, help comes in the new tutor, Dmitri. However, he seems to be a figure of contradiction. As certain warm feelings arose between them, hot tempers are rising outside with the people and with violence threatening her family, Charlotte must decide whether she could trust Dmitri to ask for his help.

I was listening to War & Peace soundtrack (BBC) while reading the book so maybe that’s another reason why I got that vibe. But also, the way the romance was conducted with sweet whispers (so cute!). The ending and the overall feeling for this novel, however, was that it is unfinished. It doesn’t look like being series but yet why all these unconnected strands… I hope for a sequel at least if not a series.

My thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for having me on this tour and  copy of ebook in exchange of honest review

GIVEAWAY (US only)

Follow below Rafflecopter link to enter to win a print copy of Gone by Nightfall (ends Jan-30)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author

Dee Garretson spent her childhood helping her father build his offbeat inventions and playing adventure games in the woods. After working as a landscape designer and teaching landscape horticulture classes for several years, Dee returned to writing. Her debut novel, Wildfire Run, has been praised for its suspense and its hero, Luke, who “with his companions, displays generous measures of courage and ingenuity in rising to the occasion” (ALA Booklist). She lives with her family in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Find Dee on: Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

XBTBanner1

Review: The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner

The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner

An enthralling story of one woman’s determined grab for freedom after WW2 from a talented new Australian voice.

‘PART CABARET, PART BURLESQUE, AND LIKE NOTHING YOU’VE EVER SEEN BEFORE! GENTLEMEN, AND LADIES IF YOU’VE DARED TO COME, WELCOME TO …’

There was a pause, and Evelyn sensed those around her leaning forward in anticipation.

‘THE VICTORY!’

1945: After the thrill and danger of volunteering in an all-female searchlight regiment protecting Londoners from German bombers overhead, Evelyn Bell is secretly dismayed to be sent back to her rigid domestic life when the war is over. But then she comes across a secret night-time show, hidden from the law on a boat in the middle of the Thames. Entranced by the risque and lively performance, she grabs the opportunity to join the misfit crew and escape her dreary future.

At first the Victory travels from port to port to raucous applause, but as the shows get bigger and bigger, so too does the risks the performers are driven to take, as well as the growing emotional complications among the crew. Until one desperate night …

1963: Lucy, an unloved and unwanted little girl, is rescued by a mysterious stranger who says he knows her mother. On the Isle of Wight, Lucy is welcomed into an eclectic family of ex-performers. She is showered with kindness and love, but gradually it becomes clear that there are secrets they refuse to share. Who is Evelyn Bell?

Published 20 January 2020 |  Publisher: Harlequin Australia |  RRP: USD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Look at the gorgeous cover 😍 and I’ve always been a sucker for a WWII story plus it is written by an Australian woman writer… Sold! And it was sooo worth it!

That’s the one thing about humanity you can always rely on: we’ll forever judge the secrets and faults of others while desperately trying to make sure our own stay hidden.

The Daughter of Victory Lights opens with the one tragic incident that leaves a lifetime worth of scars on many.  Then, we are taken back in time… to the past decade and the events that lead up to this moment in time. This is Evelyn’s story. Evelyn who was courageous in serving her country in time of war. Evelyn who, being intelligent and free-spirited, was unable to settle for a life that is dependent on men. Evelyn who, in desperation, grasped at the only chance to work with what she loves and independence.

Ignore the stiff upper lip; do not keep calm and carry on. Dig your fingers into your fears and face them head-on. For that is the only way to become free of them.

Then comes Part 2… Lucy’s story. As soon as I started Part 2, I just knew what happened and my heart broke. I didn’t have the details but I knew a lot more than Lucy! I think Lucy might be around 10 or 11 and has always felt unwanted and unloved. As she discovers who she really is, we are provided with the details of that incident from the beginning of the book and its aftermath. And oh DID I CRY!

our biggest trials can also lead to our biggest triumphs

This novel is entrenched in grief and fear for many different things. Yet, it is an encouragement to all who are suffering to seek help. I may have cried but I feel light as air following the hopeful ending of this novel. The Daughter of Victory Lights features all the glamour life can offer yet gives glimpses of its darkest pits but most of all, there is light outside to guide you through. An enchanting novel full of beautiful characters set in a fascinating time, you’ll be captivated.

Thanks to Harlequin Australia via Netgalley for ecopy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

The Last Days of the Romanov Dancers, my debut novel, was released with HQ, an imprint of HarperCollins Australia, in January 2019. A second historical fiction novel, The Daughter of Victory Lights, is scheduled for release 20 January 2020.

​In 2017 I signed with literary agent Haylee Nash of The Nash Agency. In prior years, my short stories have been published by Reflex Fiction, Boolarong Press, Catchfire Press, Stringybark, Underground Writers, and as part of the Dangerous Women Project.

My author influences include (but are not limited to) Kate Forsyth, Sara Gruen, Belinda Alexandra, Hazel Gaynor, Ken Follett, Eli Brown, and Kate Morton. I also have a special fondness for Lorna Hill, particularly her ‘Sadler’s Wells’ series, which I have collected since childhood.

When not writing or reading, I can usually be found teaching ballet and tap dancing, baking sweet treats, or spending time with my husband and my miniature schnauzer Nelson.​

Find Kerri on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  facebook  |  pinterest  |  instagram

Review: Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen

Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen

A single twist of fate puts a servant girl to work in Queen Victoria’s royal kitchen, setting off a suspenseful, historical mystery by the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and The Victory Garden.

A single twist of fate puts a servant girl to work in Queen Victoria’s royal kitchen, setting off a suspenseful, historical mystery by the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and The Victory Garden.

Arriving as Helen Barton from Yorkshire, she pursues her passion for creating culinary delights, served to the delighted Queen Victoria herself. Best of all, she’s been chosen to accompany the queen to Nice. What fortune! Until the threat of blackmail shadows Bella to the Riviera, and a member of the queen’s retinue falls ill and dies.

Having prepared the royal guest’s last meal, Bella is suspected of the poisonous crime. An investigation is sure to follow. Her charade will be over. And her new life will come crashing down—if it doesn’t send her to the gallows.

Published 11 February 2020 |  Publisher: Lake Union Publishing |  RRP: USD$24.95

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

I’ve been aware of Rhys Bowen for many years but only read 2 of her books (the first 2 of Molly Murphy Mysteries). I realise that she’s quite a prolific writer and her books are mostly historical mysteries which I do like to read. As I found Above the Bay of Angels being available to read via NetGalley, I thought I’d give this a go.

Above the Bay of Angels is a stand alone novel. Set in the beginning of the 20th century, main protagonist, Isabella Waverly, is seeking for a life of independence but what can a single young gentle woman do? Her circumstances were so reduced that she became a servant at the house of a nouveau riche yet fate intercedes when she was first given the opportunity to approach the royal kitchen as an applicant. It may not be under her own name but ‘Carpe diem’!

Things did not go quite smoothly for Bella but yet many times, fate intercede again and again she kept to her philosophy to ‘seize the day!’ It appears that Lady Fortune continues to bless her for no great disaster fell upon her.

A likeable protagonist and a beautiful setting make an enjoyable read but I do feel that I must suspend some disbelief at certain points of the novel. Thinking that I was reading a historical mystery, I also expected the crime being committed near the beginning of the novel but it did not. It didn’t happen until quite later on in the piece and therefore, had to be solved rather quickly. I felt a little cheated but c’est la vie.

Above the Bay of Angels is an historical fiction feast with a splash of mystery and a dash of romance. And oh, be prepared to be hungry while reading!

Thanks to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for ecopy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Rhys Bowen is the New York TimesWall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of two historical mystery series as well as three internationally bestselling stand alone novels. Her books have won multiple awards and been translated into over twenty languages. A transplanted Brit, Rhys now divides her time between California and Arizona, where she escapes from those harsh California winters.

Find Rhys on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  facebook