The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott @CScottBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Bookreview

I am delighted to share my thoughts on The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott. My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my copy of this wonderful historical fiction book.

Let me show you what it is all about…

Until she knows her husband’s fate, she cannot decide her own…
An epic debut novel of forbidden love, loss, and the shattered hearts left behind in the wake of World War I

1921. Families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors of the Great War have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He is considered ‘missing in action’, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph taken by Francis in the post, hope flares. And so she beings to search.

Harry, Francis’s brother, fought alongside him. He too longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last things they ever said. Both brothers shared a love of photography and it is that which brings Harry back to the Western Front. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, as he travels through battle-scarred France gathering news for British wives and mothers, Harry also searches for evidence of his brother.

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to a startling truth.

An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history, The Photographer of the Lost tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins, and the even greater number of men and women desperate to find them again.

Caroline Scott is a freelance writer and historian specializing in WWI and women’s history. The Photographer of the Lost, partially inspired by her family history, is her first novel.

This is such a poignant, sombre, heartbreaking and beautiful story that I cannot do justice to with my review. It is set in 1921 as people are still trying to come to terms with the loss of family during the first world war. Edie is desperate to discover what had happened to Francis her husband, missing presumed dead does not give her any peace of mind. Is he missing, was he killed or was he suffering from amnesia, she wants to know. Harry served in the war along with his brother, Francis. Harry returns to France and photographs places and gravestones for those back home looking for some sort of closure. Harry cannot remember all that happened during the war and suffers from we now know as PTSD.

This was such a haunting read and I do admit it taking me a little while to get into. I did however go back to the synopsis and give it a proper read and it did make things a lot clearer and things started to fall into place easier. Once I got to grips with the style of the story and the characters I discovered such a beautifully written story. It is one that delved into the way people were coming to terms with the loss of their loved ones as well as how those involved in the fighting were dealing with their own trauma.

The author did such a wonderful job with the character of Edie and it really brought home how dealing with the unknown can stop you from living your life. Her personal pilgrimage to various offices, agencies and hospitals to try to find the slightest bit of information about Francis was powerful. A glimmer of hope that flicked and wavered as she went through disappointment of finding nothing.

Harry has his own journey and it is linked to Edies. He had taken his brothers profession and is a photographer. His work means he accepts commissions from those who want to know the final resting place of their loved ones or the last place they were seen. These photographs are the last touch for a family, a chance to say a final goodbye and have something that marks the end of a life.

This is a powerful story, one that deals with the time immediately after the war. People are trying to live and survive with their loss. There is still hope that those who are missing can be found alive. The story does flit between 1921 and as flashbacks to the war so there are two sides to the story and it makes for a very moving and emotional read.

As I said earlier, it did take me a little while to get into, but once in I found it very difficult to put down. If you are looking for a book that deals with WW! and how people are affected than you really should pick this one up, it is definitely worth it and I Definitely Recommend it.

About the Author Caroline completed a PhD in History at the University of Durham. She developed a particular interest in the impact of the First World War on the landscape of Belgium and France, and in the experience of women during the conflict – fascinations that she was able to pursue while she spent several years working as a researcher for a Belgian company. Caroline is originally from Lancashire, but now lives in southwest France.


See what other Book Bloggers thought by checking out the other stops on the Blog Tour…

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Until We Meet Again by Rosemary Goodacre @RoseGoodacre @rararesources #Bookreview

I am delighted to share my thoughts on Until We Meet again by Rosemary Goodacre. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this wonderful historical fiction book.

Let me show you what it is all about…

The Great War drove them apart – but love kept them together

Summer 1914: Shy young woman, Amy Fletcher, lives a quiet life in Sussex. An office worker, she lives at home, along with her parents and spirited younger brother, Bertie. But her life is transformed when she meets handsome young man, Edmond Derwent, son of one of the wealthiest families in the small town of Larchbury, and student at Cambridge University.

The couple are falling deeply in love when war breaks out and, eager to do his duty for England, Edmond signs up as an officer. The couple plan to be wed, eager to start a new life together – but their happiness is short-lived when Edmond is sent to Flanders to lead his men into battle. Amy trains as a VAD nurse and is soon sent to France, where she sees the true horror of war inflicted on the brave young men sent to fight.

Separated by war, Edmond and Amy share their feelings through emotional letters sent from the front line. But when Edmond is critically wounded at Ypres, their love faces the biggest test of all – can their love stay strong while the world around them is crumbling?

A romantic, emotional saga set in WW1 – readers of Rosie Goodwin, Katie Flynn and Val Wood will be captivated by this story of love.

Purchase Links – Amazon Apple Kobo

This is the story of Amy and how she met Edmond and it begins just before the start of WWI. They are a couple from different backgrounds, she working class and him from a wealthy background. When war is finally declared Edmond does the honourable thing and signs up and they plan to marry before he goes away. Things however do not quite work out as they should!

This is such a fabulous story that pulls in various things from the time. The Suffragettes and Suffragists, the tensions and fears of the possibility war, people being lost killed or injured in the war and how life must carry on as best it can with a world in turmoil. The author weaves a fabulous story of love and hope in amongst the backdrop of heartbreak and devastation.

I loved the difference of opinion between the two different families. Amy’s’ family are down to earth and humble and they are a contrast to Edmond’s family who hold lavish parties and holiday on the continent. there are some wonderful scenes that are portrayed in the story that highlight these differences, though not so wonderful for Amy.

As Edmond does his duty, Amy feels that she wants to do her part in the war effort and so trains to become a nurse. War affects everyone and so it is for Amy and Edmond when he is wounded. Their spirits are kept strong by letters they write to each other and also from family and friends. This was such an important part of peoples lives as it was the only way of keeping in touch. The real hardships were kept out of these communications and so what people were really going through often went unsaid.

This is a story that is captivating and is a beautiful story of young love that has its challenges against the horror of war. The author captures moments of their story through the letters and also of their brief and infrequent visits.

This is a story that I loved and did shed a tear or two for, it is emotional but also very down to earth in the way it is written, by this I mean it is a story of two people who have met and fallen in love but have a sense of duty to their country.

The author does not over dramatise the wounded and the battlefield situations but does enough to provide a good general picture of life and conditions.

If you like historical fiction and romance then I really do think that you will enjoy this one, I know I certainly did and I Definitely recommend it.

Rosemary Goodacre has previously worked in computing and teaching. She has had short stories published and a novella, A Fortnight is not Enough.

Her father’s family came from continental Europe and she loves travelling.
She enjoys country walking, bridge and classical music. She lives with her husband in Kent, England.

Visit Rosemary on – Twitter Facebook

Check the other stops on the Blog Tour to see what other Book Bloggers thought…

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be wonderful 🙂 xx

Christmas at Ladywell by Nicola Slade @nicolasladeuk @rararesources #Bookreview #Giveaway (open Int)

Happy Publication Day Nicola 🙂

I am delighted to share my thoughts with you today for Christmas at Ladywell by Nicola Slade. I read this for the Blog Tour and wish to thank Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my space on this Publication Day Push!

Let me show you what it is about…

A time for spilling secrets…

Having refurbished her inherited house and upcycled her whole life in the process, Freya – now happily married to Patrick, and with a small child – has to transform her tiny stone barn into a romantic hideaway for a mystery guest who is also looking for change. With Christmas only a week away, things don’t go according to plan…

In the past old uncertainties are resolved when an elderly woman seeks the truth of a legend on Christmas Eve and confesses to a deception; a Tudor wife listens to a story that must never be repeated and is given a precious relic that must never be displayed; and in the early nineteenth century an old woman tells a younger one the story of the hares at Ladywell.

Past and present are only a whisper apart when Freya learns of an astonishing discovery that will make Ladywell famous, but meanwhile her house is full of unexpected visitors, she has a turkey to cook – and a very special secret of her own that must be told.

Purchase links – Amazon – UKUS

This is a lovely novella and so a quick read. A story of a family that spans the generations and has a mysterious, magical and Christmas feel to it.

This is told in two timelines, there is the present setting as I get to know the family currently residing at Ladywell. Then there is the italicised sections that deal with the history of the area and the family through the years.

So a mix of two different styles as such, historical fiction and mystery as they are combined to create an enchanting and almost magical story. The present setting in Ladywell sounds lovely and a wonderful place to be at Christmas. While the past shows similarities and I gradually saw mysteries and secrets starting to emerge.

This is a charming read that has a folk lore-ish feel to the historical and a warm and generous family feel in the modern time. If you want a quick read then this is ideal, it had a nice flow and had some surprises within its pages and it is a short story that I would recommend.

Nicola Slade is an award-winning, bestselling author of historical and contemporary mysteries and romantic fiction, all set in and around Winchester and Romsey in Hampshire – which is where she lives. The House at Ladywell – a contemporary romantic novel with historical echoes – won the Chatelaine Grand Prize for Romantic Fiction at the CIBA awards in April 2019.

She is the author of the mid-Victorian Charlotte Richmond mysteries and the contemporary Harriet Quigley mysteries and The Convalescent Corpse, published November 2018, is the first in a new series, The Fyttleton Mysteries, set in 1918.

Media Links – WebsiteBlogTwitterFacebookPintrest


Now then! Are you ready for a chnace to win a copy of The Convalescent Corpse by Nicola? You are! Well, ideal 🙂

I read The Convalescent Corpse a while ago and you can see what I thought of it HERE 🙂

Giveaway to Win a .mobi or PDF of The Convalescent Corpse by Nicola Slade (Open INT)

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

ENTER HERE – Good Luck

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be wonderful 🙂 xx

Blackpool’s Angel by Maggie Mason @AuthorMary #Bookreview

I am delighted to share my thoughts today for Blackpool’s Angel by Maggie Mason. I love this authors books so much and if you love historical fiction then you will love her books. Mary Wood writes as Maggie Mason so do check her out as her books are brilliant.

Let me show you what Blackpool’s Angel is all about…

Blackpool, 1893

Tilly has come a long way from the run-down tenements in which she grew up. She has a small but comfortable home, a loving, handsome husband, two beautiful little’uns – Babs and Beth – and she earns herself a little money weaving wicker baskets. Life is good.

Until the day Tilly returns home to find a policeman standing on her doorstep. Her Arthur won’t be coming home tonight – nor any night – having fallen to his death whilst working on Blackpool tower. Suddenly Tilly is her daughters’ sole protector, and she’s never felt more alone.

With the threat of destitution nipping at their heels, Tilly struggles to make ends meet and keep a roof over her girls’ heads. In a town run by men Tilly has to ask herself what she’s willing to do to keep her family together and safe – and will it be enough?

The perfect read for fans of Mary Wood, Kitty Neale, Val Wood and Nadine Dorries

Maggie Mason you have done it again! Every book I have read by this author has been a absolute pleasure to read. Whether writing as Mary Wood or Maggie Mason I know I am in for a wonderful read.

Blackpool’s Angel is the first book in the planned Sandgronians trilogy and Wow what a start it was. This is the story of Tilly, born and bred in Blackpool and mother to twins and very happily married until a change in circumstances see’s her put out of her home.

Poor Tilly just seems to attract the wrong sort of attention. She is taken advantage of and ends up on the wrong foot time after time. My heart really went out to this character and also I really wanted to give her a shake and tell her to wise up. I do however understand how she acted. She did posses an inner strength that she herself was not aware of.

Tilly as I have mentioned has a real tough time of it, and I am desperate to shout about all the things I loved about this book, but in doing that I will let out spoilers. But things get bad for her to say the least and she finds herself in some very serious situations that as tough as they are actually give her the kick up the rear she needs. Tilly is a character who had to hit rock bottom before she could then see a back up again. What a drop it was though, my emotions went through the wringer once again as I followed our heroine.

I have never been to Blackpool, but the author does a great job with her descriptions and imagery in her writing that I can imagine the sights, sounds and smells of the era she sets her books in. I am really looking forward to reading the following books in the trilogy. The author knows Blackpool and this shows in her writing, she also researches for her books and this adds a realism to her stories in a historical fiction sense that is. The history of Blackpool and of the conditions of those living and working in the area before the Golden Mile was wonderful. A little snapshot back in time to an era of excitement for its visitors but of extreme hardship for its residents.

This is a tale that revolves around Tilly, her lifestyle and the lifestyles of the various people she meets. It has the atmosphere of despair as she loses what she values most and yet there is a hope that balances things out. This is a must read for fans of historical fiction and I would absolutely recommend it. If you have not yet read anything by this author before then may I suggest picking up this one as it s the start to a new series. I know that you will then want to check out her other books.

In case you had not realised I loved this book, I am a huge fan of this author and obviously I Highly Recommend Blackpool’s Angel 🙂


See what other Book Blogger think of the book by checking out the other stops on the Blog Tour…

Many thanks for reading my post 🙂 xx

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames #Bookreview

I am absolutely delighted to share my thoughts on The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames. This book surprised me as the title made me think it would be more of a mystery read, while there was a mysterious element to it, it was actually a historical fiction and I loved it.

Before I get too carried away, let me share the synopsis with you…

Hundred-year-old Stella Fortuna sits alone in her house in Wethersfield, Connecticut, crocheting blankets and angrily ignoring her sister, Tina, who lives across the street. The sisters, once the best of friends, have not spoken for thirty years, not since The Accident—the eighth time Stella nearly died.

But what unspeakable betrayal made Stella turn on her sister? Born in a mountaintop village in southern Italy, Stella and Tina had grown up in abject poverty in the years between the two World Wars, abandoned by their father, who had left to seek his fortune in L’America, and forced to drop out of school after first grade to work in the olive groves. Tough, vivacious, and fiercely loyal, the inseparable sisters were foils for each other, Stella precocious and charismatic, Tina obedient and hard-working. But as Stella suffered ever more serious near-death experiences—beginning in their childhood with the time she was burned by frying oil (“the eggplant attack”)—the girls’ beloved mother, Assunta, became convinced her eldest daughter was cursed, a victim of the Evil Eye or a malevolent ghost. But what was really trying to kill Stella Fortuna, eight (or maybe seven) different times?

Now, after a century of trauma, Stella has turned on those who she once thought loved her most. It is up to the family historian to unravel the life and deaths of Stella Fortuna and to connect the inexplicable dots in her dramatic story—to suggest, finally, a redemption of the battle-scarred and misunderstood woman known now to the family as “crazy Stella.” 

The synopsis does a brilliant job of explaining what to expect from this wonderful book.

As I began reading I was reminded of another book I read many years ago, that was One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in that book there was a repetition of family names being handed down to the next generation. While The Seven or Eight Deaths also has a similar naming tradition it was not as confusing as Marquez’s.

The author depicts a very simple life for the Fortuna family in the small remote Italian village that they call home. It is simple but also a very hard life. The main focus is on Stella and her sister Tina and their parents Assunta and Antonio. It is the females of this story that are the strength and I think their hard lifestyle in Italy has helped them in their strength and determination as the book proceeds further with their story.

Antonio is a father who has not spent a lot of time with the family, he goes off to work and eventually ends up in America where he then sends for the rest of his family to join him. I have to say I really did not like him, he is very much a “do as I say because I am your husband” character. It is typical of the traditional family dynamic of the time. As much as it really grated it was right for the story.

Because the author has used a time span of 100 hundred years there is a lot of world history things that could have been included, the author has picked out a couple of key events and this makes the reading very fluid and relevant to the females in the Fortuna family. I very much enjoyed their arrival in America and witnessing Stella and Tina’s reaction to the American way of life, the social differences made me smile. But life as a recently arrived immigrant is not all smiles and roses and the women have to work hard.

The author has a wonderful style of writing that made it so easy for me to disappear into the pages for 2-3 hours at a time. She showed the differences in the way of life for the family from a cultural as well as a social point of view. I liked how she touched on traditional local dishes that Assunta would have made, then being Americanised. It is little touches like this that appealed to me, it is a way of seeing the subtle changes and adaptations in culture and society.

The Seven or Eight deaths of Stella are explained throughout the story, and also the disagreements that gradually cause a rift between the sisters. The deaths part of the story does have a slight spookiness to it and this is why it is also listed in horror/occult and I, I do hope that does not put people off because for me this was just a small part of a bigger story. As I mentioned earlier, the women of the story are strong and determined and so I can see why the rift had been caused. The women are fabulously developed characters that grow and evolve with the story, they are joined at intervals by various other relatives and friends.

This is an emotional story but also one that I did not feel emotional about as I was reading it. This sounds a rather odd thing to say, as yes the story is emotional but the characters have a very firm and solid outlook on life. They do show emotion as such but as they are such strong characters they are more able to hold it in, although there are times when the dam breaks for them.

This is such a wonderful story that is set through the 1900’s, it gives a century of family history and at times has a literary fiction style to it. I found it to be very addictive reading and when I wasn’t reading I did often find myself thinking about it.

This is one that I think other historical fiction readers would really enjoy. It is heartwarming and also heartbreaking but without being overly emotional and does have some hard reading moments, it is about family and new starts and also tipping a nod to the past. I would definitely recommend.


Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share is always appreciated 🙂 xx

Jakob’s Colours by Lindsay Hawden#20Booksofsummer #BookReview

I am delighted to share my thoughts with you today on Jakob’s Colours by Lindsay Hawden, This is a fantastic read that is set during WWII

Let me show you what the synopsis says…

This heartbreaking and tender novel will appeal to readers who loved Sophie’s ChoiceSchindler’s Ark, and The Book Thief. Austria, 1944: Jakob, a gypsy boy—half Roma, half Yenish—runs, as he has been told to do. With shoes of sack cloth, still bloodstained with another’s blood, a stone clutched in one hand, a small wooden box in the other. He runs blindly, full of fear, empty of hope. For hope lies behind him in a green field with a tree that stands shaped like a Y. He knows how to read the land, the sky. When to seek shelter, when not. He has grown up directing himself with the wind and the shadows. They are familiar to him. It is the loneliness that is not. He has never, until this time, been so alone. “Don’t be afraid, Jakob,” his father has told him, his voice weak and wavering. “See the colors, my boy,” he has whispered. So he does. Rusted ochre from a mossy bough. Steely white from the sap of the youngest tree. On and on, Jakob runs. Spanning from one world war to another, taking us across England, Switzerland, and Austria, Jakob’s Colours is about the painful legacies passed down from one generation to another, finding hope where there is no hope, and color where there is no color.

When I think of Hitler and his plan to create his perfect race, I immediately think of the persecution of the Jews. This story is about persecution but this time of the Gypsies.

The story is told in a style that alternates between chapters that are headed “This Day”, “Before” and “Long Before” and they are spread across five sections that gradually take you through the story. It is a style that is very easy to follow.

This is a story about 8 year old Jakob, a boy who is half Roma (Gypsy) and half Yenish (Swiss Gypsy). It is also about his parents and tells their life-story. With the alternating timelines it is a chance to build up valuable insight and knowledge of the family and their experiences. It also gives meaning to the importance of colour in the lives of this family.

This is a story that has been well researched, this research has then been woven and incorporated into an absolutely amazing story. It is a story that is heartbreaking as you would imagine, but it also has something that has a special balance to it. It shows people at their best as well as at their very worst. This means that not only do you get the desperation and plight of a persecuted people, you also get the balance of those willing to go out on a limb and by doing that they instil a sense of hope.

This is a very special book that has been so well written that I am really struggling with a review. It is a book, that as I read, I wanted to highlight and quote every single sentence. It is beautifully worded and it’s one of those books that will stay with me for a very long time indeed.

If you want to read about the plight of a people who were persecuted and almost wiped out, then this is the book to pick up. If you want a story about the balance of life and death, then pick this book up. If you want a story that is beautifully written and yet harrowing and heartbreaking then pick this book up.

It is a book that once I had read, I just knew I would not be able to do justice to when it came to write a review. I just hope that as you read this, it sparks a little curiosity in you and you go and pick this book up and read it.

Highly Recommended Book.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share is always appreciated xx

Book 8 of 20

Hudson’s Kill by Paddy Hirsch #Review

I am delighted to be sharing my review for Hudson’s Kill by paddy Hirsch. I recieved a hardback copy of this book via Readers First. This is a historical fiction set in New York in 1803, so let me show you what it is all about…

‘A wild horse-and-carriage ride through early 19th century New York… Meticulously researched, the novel brings the city to life in lurid sensory detail.’ Noel O’Reilly, author of Wrecker

New York, 1803. The expanding city is rife with tension, and violence simmers on every street as black and Irish gangs fight for control. When a young girl is found brutally murdered, Marshal Justy Flanagan must find the killer before a mob takes the law into their own hands.

Kerry O’Toole, Justy’s friend and ally, decides to pursue her own inquiries into the girl’s murder. When they each find their way into a shadowy community on the fringes of the city, Justy and Kerry encounter a treacherous web of political conspiracy and criminal enterprise. As events dangerously escalate, they must fight to save not only the city, but also themselves…

This is a murder mystery read that also has a lot of conspiracy and tension mixed in as well. It is New York in 1803 and Kerry O’Toole finds the body of a young girl a back alley. Justy Flanagan is called in to investigate the identity of the girl and also the killer. Together Justy and Kerry kind of work together, I say kind of because they both want to find the same answers!

This is a book that has a lot going on in it. What I thought was going to be a murder mystery read, which it was by the way, also had gangs, conspiracy, rivalry and, tension. All these components added to the mixing pot that made up New York at the time. People from different, countries with various backgrounds, religious beliefs and traditions all arrived in the area. They all bring their own language and ways of speaking, and this is where I began to notice the research aspect of the book. The speech was very evident from the off as I cam across words that I recognised as being Welsh, Scottish and Irish.

The speech adds to the diversity of the setting and the people who inhabit it. The descriptions of bars, brothels, alleyways and the like bring home the fact that this is not an affluent area. The author has used the tensions to their advantage and played on it, escalating feelings between rivals. In someways this overwhelmed the investigation, but it was also part of the investigation, if you know what I mean. I just felt that the murder had been sidelined a little bit, but, at the same time I know that

This is a good read and even though there were a couple of things I struggled with, I did enjoy it. I thought it was quite a complex story and maybe this is what caught me out as I wasn’t expecting that when I started.

Earlier I mentioned about speech and I was incredibly glad to see a glossary at the end of the book, while there are some terms that I could work out, there were some that had me scratching my head. I love the inclusion of the old languages and phrases.

This is the 2nd book in the series, and as is my usual form I have not read the first one yet! So, I can say that this owrks well as a stand alone but, I would suggest reading in order as there are things mentioned that I assume are from the first book. There is also a dynamic between Just and Kerry that I am curious to know more about. So I will be reading the first book at some point to squash my curiosity.

Hudson’s Kill is an addictive if complex read and I really enjoyed it and would recommend it.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb #Review

I am absolutely delighted to be sharing my thoughts with you all today for Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb. This is such a stunning story that I absolutely fell in love with.

I bought a copy for my kindle, but I am also going to get a paperback when it is published at the beginning of September, it’s that good!

Let’s see what it is all about…

Set in the 1950s against the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s whirlwind romance and glamourous wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco, New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb take the reader on an evocative sun-drenched journey along the Côte d’Azur in this page-turning novel of passion, fate, and second-chances.

Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique, fending off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy.

James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love.

What an absolutely brilliant read this was. Set in the 1950’s of Monaco, it has a wonderful atmosphere in the era of Grace Kelly and her meeting with Prince Rainier. The authors have blended a little fact with the fiction to create a stunning and highly addictive story.

The setting is wonderful adding a little of luxury of the country, with the film star and life style of the iconic and well known film star Grace Kelly.

I was introduced to perfumer Sophie Duval and photographer James Henderson. This happens as Grace seeks sanctuary in Sophie’s shop trying to avoid the press and photographers. Over the course of the story that follows I gradually got to know more about the friendship that forms between Sophie and James. They just never quite seem to get together at the right time, there always seems to be something that gets in the way.

For James, photography is his passion, but snapping celebs is not what he wants to do. He wants scenery and locations, not easy when there is someone at home that also needs his time.

Sophie is being pressured to sell her business, a business that she took over from her father. The business is in her bones and her soul, it is everything that makes her who she is.

This is such a stunning story and the authors have captured the feel and atmosphere so well. The visuals that they have conjured up made it so easy for me to imagine so many things from, dresses to scenery they made it seem effortless. There is a romantic tension that builds up between Sophie and James, and as much as I wanted to see them together early on I was glad that the authors kept pulling them apart.

The emotion of the story was something that gradually built up and by the end of the book the dam finally burst. I was in tears and not for the reason that you are probably thinking!

There are notes at the end of the book that gave some extra’s into the life of Grace Kelly as well as about perfumes and how the book came to be. I must admit I did spend quite a bit of time after finishing the book, Googling Grace and her life, I wasn’t quite ready to turn the last page on Grace at that moment and needed to read more about this beautiful lady.

This is a book that I would absolutely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be fabulous 🙂 xx

Before the Rains by Dinah Jefferies #20booksofsummer #BookReview

I am delighted to share my review with you for Before the Rains by Dinah Jeffries. A historical fiction/romance set in 1930 India. This is one of my picks for the #20Books of Summer Reading Challenge and is number 7/20.

Let’s have a look and see what it is all about…

A romantic, heart-wrenching tale of love against the odds from the Number One Sunday Times bestselling author

1930, Rajputana, India. Since her husband’s death, 28-year-old photojournalist Eliza’s only companion has been her camera. When the British Government send her to an Indian princely state to photograph the royal family, she’s determined to make a name for herself.

But when Eliza arrives at the palace she meets Jay, the Prince’s handsome, brooding brother. While Eliza awakens Jay to the poverty of his people, he awakens her to the injustices of British rule. Soon Jay and Eliza find they have more in common than they think. But their families – and society – think otherwise. Eventually they will have to make a choice between doing what’s expected, or following their hearts. . .

This is my first time reading a book by this author and after reading Before the Rains, it will not be my last time.

Eliza is a photographer who gets a year-long job opportunity to take photographs of the Royal Family in Rajputana, India in 1930. It is a chance for her to hone her craft and hope to arrange an exhibition that could lead to further work.

The story is that mainly of Eliza. It tells of her childhood growing up in India as part of the British occupation. After leaving India after the death of her father she has the chance to return and it is on this return that she photographs.

At the palace, she meets several members of the family including Jay the Prince and next-in-line to the throne. Jay is more progressive in his thinking than other members of his family, though he still holds firm to some traditions. Jay and Eliza gradually get to know each other and he almost takes her under his wing, showing her things outside of the palace that she would otherwise not have seen. This friendship slowly grows and a more romantic aspect, it is not a sudden thing, instead, it has a tension that smoulders.

The author has some fabulous scenery descriptions and she describes the colours and sights to a point that I could imagine what she was explaining. Details of culture, religion and, traditions are touched upon and these are heartbreaking and also real eye-openers. It adds to the suspicion around Eliza she being not only British but also a widow. Speaking of suspicion, it is everywhere in the palace and outside of the palace and from various sources. The tension of the time is brought out very well, as India wants the British to be gone and they can rule themselves again.

This is a very immersive and a compelling book to read. I did think that it wrapped up a little too conveniently but saying that it did give a satisfying ending. Along with friendships and liaisons, there is also a good amount of drama, tension, conspiracy and heartbreak. The clash of culture between India and Britain is dealt with well and gives an impression from both sides. Another large clash is that of the social classes, from the extreme poverty to the extreme opulence of those in the palace.

This is a really good read that I found quite addictive, and it is one I would definitely recommend to readers who like historical fiction and romance.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be great 🙂 xx

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christine Lefteri #20booksofsummer #BookReview

I am delighted to be sharing my review for The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christine Lefteri. I have decided to include this one in the # 20 Book of Summer reading challange, this makes numer 5 of 20.

Let us have a look and see what it is all about…

In the midst of war, he found love
In the midst of darkness, he found courage
In the midst of tragedy, he found hope

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

What will you find from his story?

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees. 

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.

Moving, powerful, compassionate and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Told with deceptive simplicity, it is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling.

The synopsis does a great job of explaining what this story is all about. The story of a man and his wife escaping their war-ravaged home in Aleppo, Syria and their journey to Britain as asylum seekers.

Nuri and Afra had a wonderful life, him a beekeeper and her an artist. The tensions in Syria gradually get closer to their home and they decide to leave, not an easy decision to make but one that becomes necessary if they are to survive.

The story flits back and forth telling of their lives in Aleppo and their journey to the UK. A hard journey that has no guarantee of survival or that when they arrive that they will be allowed to stay. Nuri and Afra are luckier than some as they have funds and can pay for certain things that are denied others. Some will start their journey and get no further than some of the refugee camps, some will die on the way, some will never leave their homes.

This is a heartbreaking read at times as I read about various people that Nuri and Afra meet along their journey. This is where the author uses her experiences of helping in refugee camps to help with her story. She has spoken to people in the camps, listened to their stories and created a novel that has some of its roots based in fact.

There is a great deal of emotion with this book, from anger at the way people are treated to compassion at the way people will help. It is heartbreaking as well as the story that the author has crafted around Nuri and Afra is slowly revealed.

I cannot imagine having to take such a journey that is so full of uncertainty but also necessity and for that I count myself very lucky. This is a beautifully written story that I simply could not put down. I had to know what happened to Nuri and Afra and also learn more of these interesting characters.

It is a story that I would absolutely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx