A Ration Book Christmas by Jean Fullerton @JeanFullerton_ @rararesources #BookReview

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I am so delighted to be sharing my review of A Ration Book Christmas by Jean Fullerton with you all today. Huge thank you to Rachel for the invite onto this Blog Tour and also to Jean for sending me a copy her book xx

Synopsis:

With Christmas approaching, the Brogan family of London’s East End are braving the horrors of the Blitz. With the men away fighting for King and Country and the ever-present dangers of the German Luftwaffe’s nightly reign of death and destruction, the family must do all they can to keep a stiff upper lip.

For Jo, the youngest of the Brogan sisters, the perils of war also offer a new-found freedom. Jo falls in love with Tommy, a man known for his dangerous reputation as much as his charm. But as the falling bombs devastate their neighbourhood and rationing begins to bite, will the Brogans manage to pull together a traditional family Christmas? And will Jo find the love and security she seeks in a time of such grave peril?

Follow the link to buy a copy – CLICK HERE

My Thoughts:

Jo Brogan and her younger brother Billy decide they cannot be evacuated any longer and return to their home in London’s East End. Set in 1940 with nightly bombing raids and food rations, the Brogan family are doing their bit like most of the other families. Jo joins the ambulance service and there is a hope that her romance with Tommy could be rekindled.

This is an absolutely wonderful read with so many things that caught my attention. First off, there is Jo, determined if at times stubborn. Tommy who does not have the best of reputations,. The Brogan family themselves with a few skeletons in the family closet. Reggie is Tommy’s brother and is not really someone who you want to get involved with.

The one thing I felt when reading this book is how well researched it felt. I often say that it is the little details that make a huge difference to a story and this book has loads of little details. Sight, sounds, smells, dialects, clothing and food are just some of those “little things”. It meant I was well and truly transported to the time and place of the setting. A chance for me to feel totally engrossed in the story.

Set during the Second World War, there are obvious mentions of those who have been hurt or killed during the blitz. Alongside this is the British resolve and tenacity that people show in trying to make the best out of the situation they find themselves in with a cuppa tea in hand.

The story of Jo and how others felt about her relationship with Tommy before she was evacuated is told, then how misunderstandings can interfere and cloud judgments. Following Jo’s story was wonderful, meeting her family and friends as the war is happening around them. The author created a balance that not only told of the pain and horror of war but also showed that determination and hope that people hold. There are wonderful descriptions throughout the story and along with this, the author has injected some wonderful humorous tones with little phrases from the characters that had me smirking.

This really is a fabulous book and one that I didn’t want to put down. At the end, you will find some recipes and some interesting items in the authors’ notes.

Definitely one for readers of Historical Fiction, Historical Romance with a World War II setting in London’s East End. One I would definitely recommend xx

About the Author:

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Author Bio – Jean Fullerton is the author of eleven novels all set in East London where she was born. She also a retired district nurse and university lecturer. She won the Harry Bowling prise in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is half way through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.

Social Media Links – WebsiteFacebookTwitter

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Blackpool Lass by Maggie Mason @Authormary #Giveaway #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Blackpool Lass by Maggie Mason. Maggie Mason is the pseudonym for Mary Wood and is being published by Sphere Publishers. The Blackpool Lass is available in various formats from AMAZON UK and good book shops.

I have read The Street Orphans by Mary Wood and you can find my review HERE

Synopsis:

Orphaned and destitute, will Grace find her own way in the world?

When Grace’s Ma passes away and her Da’s ship sinks with all hands, Grace is utterly alone in the world. She’s sent to an orphanage in Blackpool, but the master has an eye for a pretty young lass. Grace won’t be his victim, so she runs, destitute, into the night.

In Blackpool, she finds a home with the kindly Sheila and Peggy – and meets a lovely airman. But it’s 1938, and war is on the horizon. Will Grace ever find the happiness and home she deserves?

My Thoughts:

Starting in 1924 near Blackpool and then continuing through the 30’s, then World War II you get to meet Gracie (Grace) who looses not only her parents, but also her home and is forced to move away as there is no family willing to take her in. She is instead taken to an orphanage, a place that is far from the safe haven it should be. After leaving the home she returns to Blackpool, can she overcome her past ordeals and start a new life?

Oh my goodness this author knows how to write her characters. Gracie is as tough as old boots and has had to be to just get through life. She is a wonderful character who knows how tough living can be, yet she is warm, generous , fun and supportive. She deals with what life throws at her with a certain dignity even when things look really bad.

This is an era of change, women are more outspoken but often are still unheard. This is a time when men still rule the roost, their women are expected to behave in a certain way because that it the way it has always been. But since the end of Worlds War I women have found a foothold. They were needed to help while the men were away at war. This foothold gave women something to hope for and as World War II approaches they are needed once again and their courage to be treated fairly gains in volume.

This story touches on many of the things that girls and women had to deal with and while it is never pleasant to read about some of these aspects of life at that time, I think it is important that they are still acknowledged as being something that happened and I think the author has done a great job telling the story and without being graphic.

There were many things in this story that really stood out for me, but I am going to briefly focus on the sense of community as this was the one that shined through and complimented Gracie’s story so well. When things look so bad that you have nowhere to turn it is the kindness of strangers that can often show more support than you can imagine. Being accepted into a community is something that Gracie found and it allowed her to heal. People pulling together and letting differences aside was essential during the war and the author again instils the sense of pride that people had, giving love, time and resources when they were thin on the ground. But as Grace was to find out, not everyone has shares the same sense of community mindedness.

I loved Gracie and her friends and felt that even though they worked hard and some had been dealt “a bad lot” they still found warmth, love and comfort in their friendship, and also I bet they would have been a noisy bunch as well…

If you are after a historical saga then you will not be disappointed in The Blackpool lass, it is about family, friends, community, life, loss, love, despair and hope, dealing with many aspects of social history relevant to the time. This is a story that would definitely appeal to readers of historical fiction, family saga, and general fiction and one that I would definitely recommend xx

About the Author:

MM Maggie Mason is a pseudonym for saga author Mary Wood. Mary was born the thirteenth child of fifteen and throughout her life had various factory, office and home-based jobs, finally becoming a Probation Service Officer before she retired.

Mary married in 1963 and with her husband Roy has four children, eight grandchildren, and five step-grandchildren. She got her first book deal in 2013 and has not looked back since.

You can follow Mary on Twitter – Website Facebook

There is a giveaway being run by the author.

Follow her Facebook Page to get all the details.

*Please note I am not responsible for this giveaway, this giveaway is the responsibility of the author.*

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

The Choice by Edith Eger #BookReview @PenguinRHUK

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Today I am delighted to be sharing The Choice by Edith Eger, a holocaust survivor and now an acclaimed psychologist. I would like to thank Bishneen Gurwara at Penguin Random House for inviting me to read a copy of this book.

You can purchase a copy of this book at good bookshops or at AMAZON UK where it is available in various formats.

Synopsis:

‘Little dancer’, Mengele says, ‘dance for me’

In 1944, sixteen-year-old ballerina Edith Eger was sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival, she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. When the camp is finally liberated, she is pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive.

The horrors of the Holocaust didn’t break Edith. In fact, they helped her learn to live again with a life-affirming strength and a truly remarkable resilience.

The Choice is her unforgettable story. It shows that hope can flower in the most unlikely places.

My Thoughts:

Edith Eger was 16 when she made the journey with her mother and one of her sisters, to join a queue to enter her first concentration camp. This would be the last time she saw her mother. This is Edith’s story. The story of her life. The story of her survival. The story of how she was liberated and then learnt to live.

This is a book of two halves as Edith recounts her experiences of her life. A girl who wanted to dance, her parents, her sisters and first love. Then the how she survived the war in the concentration camps, sharing many thoughts and feelings not from herself but of her sister. Then how to live her life after leaving Europe to live in America.

Sometimes you can move away, but at some point you really do have to deal with the horror of your past.

The Holocaust and Auschwitz are words that evoke so many emotions. Edith Eger tells her story in four parts. The first being about her life, including the camps, up to her liberation, then her liberation, dealing with her freedom and finally how she started to heal herself.

As you would expect I found her time as a prisoner very hard to read. It is something that still brings shock, horror and disgust that any person could be treated in such a horrific and abhorrant way. I did however find that it was the story of her freedom and her healing that caught me by surprise. She then started to piece her life together and learn how to live. This is where the inspiration of this lady really Shines through, even more so than it had previously. To me this sounds slightly wrong but, she trained as a psychologist to help people from various backgrounds. They had many different problems that they struggled to deal with. In meeting and trying to help these people she found that she could also use their experiences to help herself, using her own advice if you like. This took her many years to reach a place where she felt some sort of freedom from her past, but to do that took a huge amount of courage to escape from her own fears and trauma.

This is a stunningly beautiful and candid account from a truly inspirational lady. It is moving and emotional, inspiring and hopeful. The more psychological aspect in the latter half of the book was something that I found very insightful and gave me a different way of looking at things.

This is a moving and important story that I would highly recommend.

About the Author:

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A native of Hungary, Edith Eger was a teenager in 1944 when she and her family were sent to Auschwitz during the Second World War. Despite overwhelming odds, Edith survived the Holocaust and moved with her husband to the United States. Having worked in a factory whilst raising her young family, she went on to graduate with a PhD from the University of Texas and became an eminent psychologist. Today, she maintains a busy clinical practice and lectures around the world.

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

Tapestry Of War by Jane MacKenzie @JaneFMackenzie #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts today on Tapestry Of War by Jane Mackenzie. A Second World War setting for a story of love, war, loss and new beginnings. You can get a copy from most good bookshops and from AMAZON UK.

Synopsis:

From the deserts of North Africa, to the waters of Scotland, the Second World War touches the lives of two women from two very different worlds. In Alexandria, Fran finds her world turned upside down as Rommel’s forces advance on the idyllic shores of Egypt. The life of luxury and stability that she is used to is taken away as she finds herself having to deal with loss, heartache and political uncertainty. Meanwhile, in the Firth of Clyde, Catriona struggles between her quiet rural life and her dreams of nursing injured servicemen on the front lines. As the war rages on, the two women’s lives become intertwined – bringing love and friendship to both.

My Thoughts:

With a dual setting of Scotland and Egypt during WWII you will get to meet to women. Catrina from the Scottish Island of Islay and Fran from Alexandria in Egypt.

This is a lovely story that follows these two women from very different backgrounds. The simple island life for Catrina is not quite enough and she wants to be a nurse, Fran is a socialite and journalists. The war is in full rage and really has an impact on these women as you would expect. It gives them an extra drive to do what is right, for one to become the nurse and the other to report on the war rather than propaganda version of it. The author references military events that kept me firmly rooted in the time of the story and the research has been done well, expressing not only details of events but also the views from a political aspect. This is all woven around the story of Catrina and Fran, their families and their friends.

War changes people and for the women of this story it made them more determined and gave them challenges and also opportunities they never would have had if it was a time of peace. There is a romantic aspect to this story, and while it is not a love-dovey one it does fit in with the story well. There is that uncertainty of will the partner return from war, will they be the same, will they still be in love and it really has been dealt with in a very realistic and for me felt right for the time. I most likely have a slightly stereotypical idea of life and love during war, but the way the author approached it felt right.

This is a book I would recommend to readers of Historical fiction, Historical Romance. A slower paced story that is well written, descriptive and emotional.

 

About the Author:

Jane MacKenzie has spent much of her adult life travelling the world, teaching English and French everywhere from the Gambia to Papua New Guinea to Bahrain, and recently working for two years at CERN in Geneva. She now splits her time between her self-built house in Collioure, France and the Highlands of Scotland, where she has made her family home.

Follow Jane on Twitter or Website

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

 

Mary Rosie’s War by Catherine M Byrne @Katrine66 @rararesources #BookReview #Giveaway (UK only)

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I am delighted to be sharing Mary Rosie’s War by Catherine M Byrne with you today as part of the blog tour by Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources. You can buy a copy of this fabulous book HERE. This is my first time with this author and this series. Each book is written so it can be read as a stand alone and I am immensely grateful for this. There is also a fabulous GIVEAWAY running to be in with a chance to win Catherine’s books, check it out below xx

Synopsis:

WW2 has been declared. A strange find on the beach gives Mary Rosie the chance to fulfil her dreams and contribute to her country, but all is not what she imagined.

After witnessing the first bomb to be dropped on mainland Britain, Mary watches her friends leave to join the forces and longs to be with them, but is held back by loyalty to her widowed mother.

France has capitulated. Johnny Allan’s regiment has been annihilated by German troops north of Paris. Johnny has to find a way to get home and to the girl who no longer waits for him.

Leisel is a German Jew who lost her family to the Nazis and has to make her way in Britain, a strange new country, while harbouring a desire for revenge.

Their lives become entangled in a way that no one could have envisaged.

A story about war, family ties, love, loyalty and loss.

My Thoughts:

Mary Rosie is the daughter of Chrissie and sister to Peter. Chrissie, a single parent after the death of her husband, has brought up her children between wars. It is where the story starts as the impeding WWII is still only rumour, how could there be another war after the end of WWI, it was supposed to be the war to end all war.

As WWII is declared it is Peter that is the first to enrol and leave home, followed by some of Mary’s friends. Mary felt quite put out that many others were going off “to do their bit” and she had to stay at home with mum. It is one night when Mary is out on the beach that she discovers Liesel and it sets the start of various events that will change the life of not only Mary, but many, many others.

This story is set in Scotland and uses some local dialect and also terms. Some readers like this inclusion some loathe it, me I love it, it really helps to imagine the voices of the characters and helps make them more memorable at times. I think this is because I tend to pay more attention to the dialogue as I read. In my head I have the perfect accent, what happens when I try to actually speak is a different matter entirely.

The beautifully written story took me into the life of Mary and the Rosie family and their friends within their small community. While I did understand Chrissie wanting to keep her daughter safe at home, I also really understood the need for Mary to want to help. She was a character I could understand, though some of her naivety did make me chuckle, that however was soon rectified as she met new friends. I have to admit to liking this naive Mary, it added a charm and honesty to her character that I did find quite endearing.

The author took me through the more traditional early 1900’s lifestyle and way of life, incorporating family values and expectations. Along with this is the worry of the turmoil occurring in Europe and the settings proximity to Scapa Flow, I was allowed a glimpse into the life of the Rosie’s. I got a real feeling of pride not only in the family but also of their friends and community. The setting was brilliantly described and even though I have not been to this area of Scotland, I was able to build up a good image from the authors descriptions.

The story moves through several years quite quickly from the build up to the War, during and also after. It gave me a chance to see the change in Mary, not only in her personally but also of her character. There are some scenes described that involve the war from various perspectives, but Mary is really the main character. The author has kept a continuation to the story even as the character point of view changes.

This is a story of family, war, hope, despair and love. It has been written in such a way as to keep me avidly turning the pages as I was transported into Mary’s life. A book that I would highly recommend to readers who enjoy historical, family saga, WWII setting and general fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be looking to read more books by Catherine Byrne.

About the Author:

Mary Rsies War - Author.jpg Catherine Byrne always wanted to be a writer. She began at the age of eight by drawing comic strips with added dialogue and later, as a teenager, graduated to poetry.  Her professional life however, took a very different path.  She first studied glass engraving with Caithness Glass where she worked for fourteen years. During that time she also worked as a foster parent.  After the birth of her youngest child she changed direction, studying and becoming a chiropodist with her own private practice.  At the same time she did all the administration work for her husband’s two businesses, and this continued until the death of her husband in 2005.  However she still maintained her love of writing, and has had several short stories published in women’s magazines.  Her main ambition was to write novels and she has now retired in order to write full time.

Born and brought up until the age of nine on the Island of Stroma, she heard many stories from her grandparents about the island life of a different generation. Her family moved to the mainland at a time when the island was being depopulated, although it took another ten years before the last family left.

An interest in geology, history and her strong ties to island life have influenced her choice of genre for her novels.

Since first attending the AGM of the Scottish Association of Writers in 1999, Catherine has won several  prizes, commendations and has been short-listed both for short stories and chapters of her novels. In 2009, she won second prize in the general novel category for ‘Follow The Dove’

In 2016 The Road to Nowhere  won second prize in the Barbara Hammond competition for Best Self Published novel. The follow up, Isa’s Daughter won 1st prize in the same competition the following year.

Although the books follow the fortunes of the same family, they are all stand-alone.

The fifth book in the Raumsey series is  Mary Rosie’s War.

Catherine Byrne lives in Wick, Caithness.

Follow Catherine on – Facebook – Website – Twitter – Blog

∗∗∗∗∗GIVEAWAY∗∗∗∗∗

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Giveaway – 1st Prize – all 4 of Catherine Byrne’s previous books in paperback .
6 x Runners Up Prizes – PB copy of Broken Horizon  (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries only.  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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

∗∗∗∗∗ENTER HERE FOR A CHANCE TO WIN, GOOD LUCK 🙂 XX∗∗∗∗∗

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#BookReview | Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce @ajpearcewrites| @panmacmillan #NetGalley

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I have the delightfully spiffing “Dear Mrs Bird” by AJ Pearce to share with you today.  Published by Pan Macmillan and available in various formats from 5th April 2018 you can purchase a copy from Amazon UK.

Synopsis:

London, 1941. Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance – but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman’s Friend magazine. Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. But as Emmy reads the desperate pleas from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong man, or can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back . . . Irresistibly funny and enormously moving, Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce is a love letter to the enduring power of friendship, the kindness of strangers and the courage of ordinary people in extraordinary times.

My Thoughts:

Emmy soon realises that the job she has just accepted is not quite what she thought it would be.  Rather than becoming part of a journalistic team investigating and helping reporters, she is a junior for a problem page at Woman’s Friend magazine.  She is responsible for sifting through the letters looking for help and advice, sounds great but in actual fact there are certain things that Mrs Henrietta Bird will not have on her column. I say certain things but it turns out that most things will not appear in her column.

This is such a great read, set in London during the blitz.  It has all the elements you would expect rationing, shortages of everyday items, sadness of loved ones away from home, despair when they do not return. The letters that are written to the magazine give a more personal feel to those women who are left at home possibly for the first time.  This is a great way of giving a sense of time and place, it has a real feel of the time with references to clothing, films, music and obviously the war.

A lighter side is added to this with the antics of Emmy and how she decides to take things into her own hands. It has an almost chick lit feel to it and I thought it balanced the harrowing experiences people experienced as the war raged around them. It does have a great deal of emotion in it as you read the letters that have been sent in and also as you follow the characters through the story.

This is a great read that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Once I started it I could not put it down.  This is a book that I think would appeal to readers of lighter historical WWII fiction and definitely from a female perspective and thought it was a well-balanced book.  This is a book that I would highly recommend. I also think this would be a great Book Club read, there are many things that would make some great discussion points.

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

#BlogTour : Among the Branded by Linda Smolkin #AmongtheBranded @Lindasmolkin @annecater #BookReview

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I am sharing my thoughts on “Among The Branded” by Linda Smolkin today on my blog.  This is available in Paperback and eBook format from Amazon UK .  My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on this Blog Tour.

Synopsis:

What if a 70-year-old letter from World War II changed the course of your life?

While attending Valor of the ’40s, art director Stephanie Britain stumbles upon a flea market selling letters from the war. She buys a handful, hoping they’ll inspire the redesign for a client’s website at her branding and design firm. She’s at first drawn by the lost art of penmanship, but soon discovers a hidden treasure nestled inside declarations of love from homesick soldiers. Stephanie enlists a coworker to translate one and realizes it’s not a love letter after all. When a shocking discovery about a client causes Stephanie to question her principles and dedication to her firm’s business, she’s forced to make a difficult decision—one that could give her peace of mind, yet ruin her career in the process.

Contemporary fiction with a historical touch, AMONG THE BRANDED explores family life, an unexpected friendship, and moral conflicts that make us wonder what’s more important: our livelihood or our beliefs. This moving debut novel by Linda Smolkin is a great addition for readers who enjoy books by Jodi Picoult, Kristin Hannah, and Liane Moriarty.

My Thoughts:

Stephanie and Greg Britain, with their two children Jeremy and Jack are off to Valour of the 40’s a WWII re-enactment.  This trip was Jack’s choice, Jeremy is soon to go off to college.  While there Stephanie comes across a bundle of letters on a second-hand stall. One letter catches her eye and the story begins.

Oh my goodness what a beautiful and heartwarming story.  A chaotic and frantic beginning with the hectic lifestyle of this family. It shows how this active and close-knit family go about their everyday lives.  Then all of a sudden this story starts to grab your attention, in amongst the hustle and bustle of family and work, Stephanie and the truth about a letter start to make their place known and the story just blossoms.

This story is one about family, hope, love compassion and is a beautifully engrossing and an addictive read.  I found myself swept up as the story behind the letter comes out.  It touches on serious subjects and these have been told by an adult talking to children, it is told simply, honestly and with respectful. But also the realisation that there are still those in the world that are not accepting of others.  The characters in this story are funny, vivid and have been brought to life as we learn more about them. I’m not going into too much detail about the content of this letter or what Stephanie discovers, for me the details of it are what makes this story a stunning read.

This is a very engaging book, and was an absolute joy to read.  It is beautiful and has a serious and heart wrenching side to it as you learn the truth about the letter, but among this serious side is a witty and humorous side, it had me giggling at the banter between family and friends.

This is a debut novel by Linda and I want to know what is next. This book is one that I would highly recommend to readers who like a story that is a mix of historical and contemporary that has a great balance.  I loved this book and hope others will find it and love it as well.

About the Author:

Linda Smolkin - Author Picture .jpg  Linda Smolkin always wanted to be a writer—ever since she saw her first TV commercial and wondered how to pen those clever ads. She got her degree in journalism and became a copywriter. Linda landed a job at an ad agency, where she worked for several years before joining the nonprofit world. She’s currently working on her second novel, which will be released in Spring 2018. When not in front of the computer, she’s behind the drums (slightly) annoying her husband, son, and their 70-pound dog. For more information, visit her Website ,  follow her on Twitter  ~ Facebook

Many thanks for reading my post, a share if you liked it would be wonderful.  Or go and grab a copy of this brilliant book HERE 🙂 xx

#PublicationDay : Ike & Kay by James MacManus #ikeandkay @jamesmac1x: @Duckbooks #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on “Ike & Kay” by James MacManus.  It is publication day today for this book by Duckworth OverLook and is available in various formats.  CLICK HERE for the link to purchase from Amazon UK.  I would like to express my thanks to Thogdin at Duckworth Overlook for my copy of this wonderful book.

Synopsis:

The secret affair at the heart of World War II

Ike and Kay is the absorbing new novel from the highly acclaimed author James MacManus. A compelling historical novel, it is a vivid reimagining of General Eisenhower and Kay Summersby’s infamous love affair in London during World War II.

In 1942, Kay Summersby’s life is changed forever when she is conscripted to drive General Eisenhower on his fact-finding visit to wartime London. Despite Eisenhower’s marriage to Mamie, the pair take an immediate liking to each other and he buys Kay a rare wartime luxury: a box of chocolates. So begins a tumultuous relationship that, against all military regulation, sees Kay traveling with Eisenhower on missions to far-flung places before the final assault on Nazi Germany.

The general does dangerously little to conceal his affair with the woman widely known as “Ike’s shadow,” and in letters Mamie bemoans his new obsession with “that Irish woman”. That does not stop him from using his influence to grant Kay citizenship and rank in the US army, drawing her closer still when he returns to America. When officials discover Eisenhower’s plans to divorce his wife they threaten the fragile but passionate affair, and Kay is forced to take desperate measures to hold onto the man she loves…

Based on the scandalous true story of General Eisenhower’s secret World War II love affair, Ike and Kay is a compelling story of love, duty, sacrifice and heartbreak, set against the backdrop of the most tumultuous period of the 20th century.

My Thoughts:

Firstly this is a story that is based on true events.  It is the story of how Kay Summersby became driver to General Eisenhower while he was on a visit to London during WWII.  A time when street signs were removed and London was in a black out, hence the need for drivers with knowledge of the area, the MTC (Motor Transport Corp) was in place and essential for the movement of visitors.

James has created a story that has a great balance for this reader, actual events with a romantic liaison.  It becomes evident that there is something going on between Ike and Kay as she transports him not only around London, but further afield into Europe.  She is a woman who is able to provide a stable environment that Eisenhower gradually starts to rely on.  It is not based just during the war, but also continues in the years after.  You get to see different sides to the man who goes on to become President.  My opinion at the start of the book about these two people changed by the time I got the end.  My heart went out to Kay as her role during the war and after changed, her role changed so much from the driver she originally started out as.  Ike was in a position asking where loyalties lay, were they with Kay or to his country.

There are author notes at the end that are interesting reading, they explain how no one actually knows the extent of the relationship between Ike and Kay.  The story that is told is one that has been researched and the author has used this research to then create a wonderful read of what may have happened.  I had no idea about Kay and her role so I tootled off to do a bit of research of my own after I had finished reading.  I found photographs and various articles that was great to be able to put an actual face to the lady behind the story.

This is a story I would definitely recommend to readers of historical fiction, romantic fiction based during WWII, it is a mix of emotion and heartbreak  as the characters come to terms with their feelings and how they are seen by others with documented facts . As this lady was someone I knew nothing about it was interesting to read on further about her, and I am grateful for being introduced to Kay.

About the Author:

51QTtUz2b2L._SY200_ James MacManus has worked in the newspaper business for 46 years.He is currently the Managing Director of the Times Literary Supplement.He began his career on The Daily Express in Manchester after leaving St Andrews University.He worked in the Express regional offices in Newcastle,Belfast and Dublin before leaving to join the Guardian in London in 1972.He became Paris correspondent of that paper in 1974 then Africa and Middle East correspondent between the years of 1974-1985.He did not begin writing creatively until became MD of the TLS in 1998.His first book,Ocean Devil, told the story of a young Englishman who was caught up in the Sino-Japanese war of 1936-45.George Hogg was an Oxford graduate who worked as a journalist and then schoolmaster during the ferocious conflict.He became a hero in China having led a school of ninety children to safety from the advancing Japanese in the bitter winter of 1944.Ocean devil; was made into a film directed by Roger Spottiswoode and starring Jonathan Rhys Meyer. MacManus’ debut novel On the Broken Shore was published by Harper Collins in April 2010 and launched in the US with the title the Language of the Sea in 2013.

Follow James MacManus on : Website  ~ Twitter

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#BookReview : The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris :pub @BonnierZaffre @NetGalley

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“The Tattooist of Auschwitz” by Heather Morris is available to purchase from 11th January and is available in various formats.  Published by Bonnier Zaffre and available from Amazon UK 

Synopsis:

I tattooed a number on her arm. She tattooed her name on my heart.

In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust.

Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight. And he was determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure this woman, Gita, did, too.

So begins one of the most life-affirming, courageous, unforgettable and human stories of the Holocaust: the love story of the tattooist of Auschwitz.

My Thoughts:

Where to start with this book, it took me a while to get my thoughts in order before I could write a review.  This is based on the true story of Lala & Gita Sokolov.  They met when Lala tattooed the number on her arm on her arrival at Auschwitz.  They along with tens of thousands of others became a number.  Not a name. Not a person.  They were A Number.

Heather spent three years with Lala and his two dogs as he told his story to her.  He needed to do this so that “it would never happen again”.  Also it was time for him to tell, he knew he didn’t have long before he joined his beloved Gita.  Her death gave him the push he needed.

Lala was part of the German round-up of much-needed workers and he was taken to Auschwitz.  By the use of his charm and a certain amount of luck he managed to get the position of “Tetovierer” the tattooist in the camps of Auschwitz and also nearby Birkenau. This allowed him a little more freedom and also extra food rations, Lala shared all he could with others in the camp.  He managed to barter with civilian workers for food, with the help of Gita and her friends.  All that could be shared out was, help given where possible.  The generosity in a time of great suffering shown by others has a way of repaying itself, and indeed when Lala was in need of help it was there.  He travelled between the two camps and this gave him insights as to what was happening, seeing different things appearing, seeing new people, meeting the new doctor a certain Josef Mengeler.

Through Heather, Lala gave accounts of who he met and his experiences.  Heather has written his story with true emotion, sympathy and understanding.  It is a heart wrenching read, and so it should be, but Lala’s character has come through the pages, showing his grim determination that he would survive, he would marry Gita and they would have a future together.

This is an important period in history, one that should never be forgotten or taken lightly.  Heather has done a wonderful job in relating Lala’s story. It is an emotional journey, and even now I still feel the emotion as I write this review, a few days after reading the book.  I received this book as an eARC via NetGalley, but I will be buying my own physical copy.  I highly recommend this book to all readers.

Lala’s lifetime motto was “If you wake up in the morning, it is a good day.”

Number – 34902 – Gita born 1925 died 2003

Number – 32407 – Lala born 1916 died 2006

Many thanks to Bonnier Faffre and NetGalley for my copy of this book.  My thoughts are my own and are unbiased.

About the Author:

Heather Morris is a native of New Zealand, now resident in Australia, working in a large public hospital in Melbourne. For several years she studied and wrote screenplays, one of which was optioned by an Academy Award-winning screenwriter in the US. In 2003, Heather was introduced to an elderly gentleman who ‘might just have a story worth telling’. The day she met Lale Sokolov changed both their lives, as their friendship grew and he embarked on a journey on self-scrutiny, entrusting the innermost details of his life during the Holocaust to her. Heather originally wrote Lale’s story as a screenplay – which ranked high in international competitions – before reshaping it into her debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Many thanks for reading my post.  If you liked it please give a little share.  Better still go and buy a copy of this outstanding book xx