Tag Archives: ww2

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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