Tag Archives: ww2

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: 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: A Time of Secrets

a time of secretsA Time of Secrets by Deborah Burrows
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy courtesy of publisher

A Time of Secrets was an absolute joy to read. It is an engaging tale of wartime in Australia, combining mystery and romance with a distinctive Aussie touch.

I was drawn into this world immediately from the beginning of the book and was completely immersed in this era for the next few days as I read this book. I find this era quite romantic possibly because of the desperation because the insecurity of the future just makes the passion you feel that much more intense. And there was so much passion in this book and I don’t mean just the romantic kind. There was passion for live, for joyful living, for art and buildings, etc. This has definitely brought the book alive to me –I basically had a film reel going on in my head as I read.

There are quite a number of interesting characters from the very capable Stella Aldridge who kept her past close to her heart, the lively Dolly –Stella’s flatmate, the troubled Nick –Stella’s superior, the reserved Eric –Stella’s romantic interest, to the voluble old Mrs Campbell who lived in the apartment downstairs from Stella and who is actually very sharp. Never have I been so torn about a love triangle! There isn’t actually a love triangle in this book as Stella is very certain on who she’s attracted to but… I can’t help but feel for the other guy. I am very happy that Stella isn’t one of those characters who can’t make up her mind and I am satisfied with the ending of the story. And yet… I am also just a tad devastated.

In a way, A Time of Secrets reminds me of the Wonder Woman -tv series but without the super power thing, of course. Diana Prince (aka Wonder Woman) worked in the army’s intelligence services with Captain Steve Trevor as her superior and they caught spies, solved mysteries, and basically saved the day. I just adore this tv series, and I supposed it’s one of the reason why I connected so well with this book as it just so similar in setting. My one petty complaint though was that each time Stella complained about having to wear her khaki uniform all the time, I kept thinking of the green uniformed girl on the cover. I just can’t reconcile this though I still love the cover, it is gorgeous, but green is not khaki.

Whilst there was no surprises in terms of the resolution of the mystery, the plot itself was fine woven and a delight to read. I would unreservedly recommend this to historical fiction / mystery lovers. This was my first Burrows’ but I am keen to hunt down the rest of her works.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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Review: Unexploded

unexplodedUnexploded by Alison MacLeod
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Penguin Books Australia via NetGalley

This is not the typical book I would read though that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the experience. What was appealing to me, in the first place, was probably the cover though now that I really looked it at, I realised that I really didn’t know what I was looking at. A woman with 40s hairstyle sitting on the beach is semitone (or is it sepia? It’s hard to tell since I read a digital version) was what drew me. However, now that I’ve read the book, I can see what the cover is portraying and it is a dark sort of picture.

I experienced strangest sensation in reading this book, just as per the title, there is this sense of quiet suspense throughout the novel… exactly like the stillness before a huge storm –you can sense the storm coming but it’s not here yet and when / how it will exactly break, you’d never know. It was oddly peaceful and highly strung at the same time. There were little bursts of drizzles in certain spots with overflowing effects that contributed to the overall conclusion.

Evelyn is someone identifiable. She fell into the groove of life –a certain track of life and now felt that she is stuck, unable to change, to grow, to be who she was meant to be. What would it take to derail oneself, to find oneself, to live life fully? I’m sure we’ve all felt some sort of monotone life, desired changes, and maybe took a step or to or not to change it. Evelyn could not really take any action –she’s tried before, and yet again, she could only invest in the smallest act of rebelliousness. She was unable to face up against the social etiquette and convention of the time yet wishing these constraints away. Truly, how many of us (even today) dares to take up this challenge?

“Her problem was a quiet sense of superiority that had masked her failure to live in all but the most conventional of ways while quietly disdaining convention.”

What was really frustrating is the problem they faced in their marriage is the same problem / issue we usually find annoying in romance novels – Communication Breakdown. There are, of course, other issues surrounding it but most issues will be halfway amended by opening one’s heart and willingness to communicate. This is really what it boils down to, as each issue are brought to light, the sense of betrayal heightened, hearts hardened, and yet each turned outwards rather than each other.

“We are broken, he now understood, by everything we cannot say.”

The way the ending was brought about was utterly astonishing in the tools that was utilised. It was rather horrid to my maternal instinct and yet it all made perfect sense. Maybe it is our human nature, in whatever stage, which is inherently disturbing. What would you do to keep your world together?

This is one of those novels to read slowly & savour. It wasn’t an easy read due to its darker nature –a pervading sort of sadness and frustration. It’s worth a read for some of the phrase-gems though and it’s what I appreciated most about reading this novel. I’ve shared some here without too much spoilers and I’ll close with a last note about reading:

”To imagine wasn’t to escape but to go deeper; to see through to the secret life of the world.”

Thank you, Penguin Books Australia via NetGalley for this opportunity to read & review

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