While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart

While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart


Paris 1944
A young woman’s future is torn away in a heartbeat. Herded on to a train bound for Auschwitz, in an act of desperation she entrusts her most precious possession to a stranger. All she has left now is hope.

Santa Cruz 1953
Jean-Luc thought he had left it all behind. The scar on his face a small price to pay for surviving the horrors of Nazi Occupation. Now, he has a new life in California, a family. He never expected the past to come knocking on his door.

On a darkened platform, two destinies become entangled. Their choice will change the future in ways neither could have imagined…

My Review:

A powerful and emotional debut novel set in Paris during 1944 at the height of the occupation by the Nazis and Santa Cruz in 1953. While Paris Slept (Headline) by Ruth Druart is strong on characters and time. It will tug at your heart and leave you breathless.

It has taken me a few weeks to try and find the right words to describe Ruth Druart’s breathtaking debut novel but here goes! Drancy which is a few miles from the centre of Paris was synonymous with the holding and transportation of Jews during the Nazi occupation of France. A railway station was close by and trains would be packed with Jews heading for the concentration camps such as Auschwitz would set off from here as the trains left, the platforms would go eerily quiet just leaving the belongings of those to be transported to the death camps and it is here at this station were the novel really begins.

A young Jewish couple are desperately trying to evade the Nazis by escaping but are discovered and arrested and sent to the transit camp in Drancy along with many other Jewish men, women, and children here they will await transportation to Auschwitz.

It is 1944 and Jean-Luc is working on the railways and with the transport trains leaving in the dead of night so there no witnesses to what is going on. When Jean-Luc is woken and taken to the station. From this moment on his life will never be the same ever again. When the wagons holding those to be transported are taken off a young woman thrusts a bundle into Jean-Lucs arms begging him to look after it and keep it safe.

Jean-Luc met Charlotte by chance that same year and now they are both entrusted with a possession that they must keep safe but means they now face real danger and must escape France if discovered they face certain death.

It is now 1953 and Jean-Luc and Charlotte are now living in Santa Cruz in California and they kept their promise to look after that bundle and he is named Sam. But now yet again they face real uncertainty when there is a knock on the door and their lives are torn apart.

While Paris Slept is a novel packed full of emotion, at times it is raw, but also there is incredible love and courage. Jean-Luc and Charlotte are two incredible brave young people filled with love for each other but also desperate to keep the promise and faced danger at every moment.

Ruth Druart takes the reader back to the dreadful events of occupied Paris in 1944 and then to Santa Cruz in 1953 and is beautifully written and crafted. A novel that will make you hold your breath as you turn every page. In the face of unbelievable terror there is hope for the future. Highly Recommended.

512 Pages.

My thanks to Headline for the review copy of While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart

While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart was published by Headline Review on 4 March 2021 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

Notebook by Tom Cox

Notebook by Tom Cox


Sure, sex is great, but have you ever cracked open a new notebook and written something on the first page with a really nice pen? The story behind Notebook starts with a minor crime: the theft of Tom Cox’s rucksack from a Bristol pub in 2018. In that rucksack was a journal containing ten months worth of notes, one of the many Tom has used to record his thoughts and observations over the past twelve years. It wasn’t the best he had ever kept – his handwriting was messier than in his previous notebook, his entries more sporadic – but he still grieved for every one of the hundred or so lost pages. This incident made Tom appreciate how much notebook-keeping means to him: the act of putting pen to paper has always led him to write with an unvarnished, spur-of-the-moment honesty that he wouldn’t achieve on-screen. Here, Tom has assembled his favourite stories, fragments, moments and ideas from those notebooks, ranging from memories of his childhood to the revelation that ‘There are two types of people in the world. People who f*cking love maps, and people who don’t.’ The result is a book redolent of the real stuff of life, shot through with Cox’s trademark warmth and wit.

My Review:

Notebooks, I must admit I love them. I have so many of them and I would never get rid of any of them, and I have to use a good quality fountain pen. I would be out of my mind if I ever lost one or had one stolen. But that is exactly what happened to Tom Cox as he explains at the start of his new book that is called appropriately Notebook (Unbound) and it is out now.

Tom Cox loves his notebooks and in these he writes his thoughts and observations on life and the places he visits. Until back in 2018 when he visited a pub in Bristol, and someone walked off with his rucksack that contained his precious notebook while he was strutting his stuff to Michael Jackson. I would be mortified. All Tom’s work had been stolen and this is how Notebook became a book.

I loved Tom’s previous books, and Notebook is just the perfect read, it has moments where you cannot help but laugh. Here are his thoughts from his collection of notebooks that Tom has kept. These are random thoughts on almost anything in life. Trips to various locations and places he has lived, even woodpigeons manage to get into his notebooks as does his love of vinyl records and cats and nature.

Every page is trademark Tom Cox, his warmth and his humour are a real joy to read. Tom’s parents Mick and Jo contribute illustrations throughout the book. At only 144 pages this a tonic to dip in and out of and then there is the stunning cover design by Clare Melinsky. Notebook by Tom Cox is a fabulous read. Be prepared to laugh out loud.





144 Pages.

My thanks to both Unbound and to Anne at Random Things Tours for the review copy of Notebook by Tom Cox.

Notebook by Tom Cox is published by Unbound and was published on 18 March 2021 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org


The Night Gate by Peter May

The Night Gate by Peter May


In a sleepy French village, the body of a man shot through the head is disinterred by the roots of a fallen tree. A week later a famous art critic is viciously murdered in a nearby house. The deaths occurred more than seventy years apart.
Asked by a colleague to inspect the site of the former, forensics expert Enzo Macleod quickly finds himself embroiled in the investigation of the latter. Two extraordinary narratives are set in train – one historical, unfolding in the treacherous wartime years of Occupied France; the other contemporary, set in the autumn of 2020 as France re-enters Covid lockdown.

And Enzo’s investigations reveal an unexpected link between the murders – the Mona Lisa.

Tasked by the exiled General Charles de Gaulle to keep the world’s most famous painting out of Nazi hands after the fall of France in 1940, 28-year-old Georgette Pignal finds herself swept along by the tide of history. Following in the wake of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as it is moved from château to château by the Louvre, she finds herself just one step ahead of two German art experts sent to steal it for rival patrons – Hitler and Göring.

What none of them know is that the Louvre itself has taken exceptional measures to keep the painting safe, unwittingly setting in train a fatal sequence of events extending over seven decades.

My Review:

Hard to believe this really book number 7 in the Enzo Macleod series. But sadly, it is the finale. But what an ending to the series The Night Gate (riverrun) by bestselling author Peter May is released today 18th March and is set between France and Scotland in World War II and present day including covid lockdown France and is Peter May at his absolute best.

Forensic expert Enzo Macleod should be enjoying his retirement with his wife but has been asked by a former colleague to come and look at the remains of a man that has been discovered beneath a tree in a quiet French village, closer inspection reveals the man was shot in the head and has been buried here for about 75 years. But close by an art dealer is murdered. Now Enzo is investigating both cases and there is more than a passing regret at excepting the request. Enzo suspects that both cases could be linked. To do this Enzo must look to the past to solve two murders separated by over 70 years.

Set against a backdrop of different timelines and countries, but at the heart of this brilliant novel is da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. When France fell to the Germans in 1940, it was Hitler who wanted the Mona Lisa to be the centre piece of his super museum at Linz in Austria and has recruited Paul Lange to acquire it but also at the same time Hermann Göring has eyes on the famous painting for his own private collection and he has Karlheinz Wolff determined to get his hands on the painting first.

This is a gripping and compelling thriller that lasts for 500 pages, as Enzo gets to grips with two dead bodies the story goes back in time as de Gaulle now in London asks a young female to make sure that the Mona Lisa is kept out of reach of the Nazis as they plundered art from all over France. Enter 28-year-old Georgette Pignal who heads to the Isle of Lewis for her training before she heads to occupied France. Georgette is young and brave and determined to do everything she can to foil the Nazis of getting their hands on the Mona Lisa (called La Jaconde in France).

The story weaves from wartime France and a France in lockdown of the autumn in 2020 and as Covid-19 has the world in its grip.

I loved how Peter May has weaved a stunning thriller out of history and current day using the pandemic as part of the story. I am not going to give any clues as to what happens in the novel, as if you are a fan of Peter May’s previous thrillers you will want to read The Night Gate. You will not be disappointed.  


496 Pages.

My thanks to Sophie Ransom and Midas PR for the review copy of The Night Gate by Peter May.

The Night Gate by Peter May is published by riverrun today 18 March 2021 and is available NOW to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

                             FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR

The Field by Robert Seethaler

The Field by Robert Seethaler

Translated by Charlotte Collins


From their graves in the field, the oldest part of Paulstadt’s cemetery, the town’s late inhabitants tell stories from their lives. Some recall just a moment, perhaps the one in which they left this world, perhaps the one that they now realize shaped their life forever. Some remember all the people they’ve been with, or the only person they ever loved.

These voices together – young, old, rich poor – build a picture of a community, as viewed from below ground instead of from above. The streets of the small, sleepy provincial town of Paulstadt are given shape and meaning by those who lived, loved, worked, mourned and died there.

From the author of the Booker International-shortlisted A Whole Life, Robert Seethaler’s The Field is about what happens at the end. It is a book of human lives – each one different, yet connected to countless others – that ultimately shows how life, for all its fleetingness, still has meaning.

My Review:

From the author of the 2016 Man Booker Prize shortlisted A Whole Life, Robert Seethaler returns with The Field (Picador) a novel that heads to a fictional small town of Paulstadt and the cemetery. But it is those that are buried here and the stories they tell and the conversations they have. These are their stories.

I loved reading A Whole Life and The Tobacconist and Robert Seeethaler does not disappoint with The Field. With each of his novels there is a real sense of quiet storytelling. In the town of Paulstadt lies a field and this is the oldest part of the cemetery and here lie some of the towns most outspoken residents.

The story begins as an old man sits and contemplates those that are buried here and what if they could talk? What would they say? And so, it begins, those long departed begin the conversations.

Far from resting quietly these are some of the most outspoken of the community, they were the old, the young, poor, or wealthy but now they are recounting their lives, or some recall a moment from their lives as it has just happened or may be happier or sad times. But one that lies here just has one word to say.

I have to say that this is unlike anything I have read before conversations of those departed. Each chapter begins with the name of the departed soul, but that is it, the stories they tell is of different moments in time from early days of the town to how the town grew. Each of the deceased has their own story to tell. Some angry some just quiet reflection from a child’s voice to the oldest of the inhabitants of the field. Not all the conversations are sad, there is some joyful conversations, but this is mixed with great sadness and Seethaler manages to bring not only the conversations to life but the history of the town of Paulstadt and its inhabitants who now lie here. A real mix of characters and their professions.

The Field is Wonderfully crafted by Robert Seethaler and beautifully translated by Charlotte Collins.

#RobertSeethaler #TheField

You can follow Charlotte Collins on Twitter: @cctranslates

240 Pages.

My thanks to Camilla Elworthy for the review copy of The Field by Robert Seethaler.

The Field by Robert Seethaler will be published by Picador on 18th March 2021 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

From Field & Forest: An Artist’s Year in Paint and Pen by Anna Koska

From Field & Forest: An Artist’s Year in Paint and Pen by Anna Koska


Highly respected illustrator Anna Koska is best known for her drawings of fish and fruit and is widely celebrated by food journalists and restaurateurs. In this mindful, artistic journal, Anna celebrates the natural world; the changing of the seasons, the blossoming of flowers and the ripening of fruit.

Working in watercolour, pen and ink, oils and luscious egg tempera, Anna’s illustrations are reproduced in beautiful detail and they are accompanied by her musings and observations of objects, engaging us in the everyday realities of her artistic practice.

Anna sources inspiration from the flora and fauna in the fields and forests surrounding her home in East Sussex. Her illustrations root us in nature, allowing us to pause to admire and appreciate the beauty and significance of everyday occurrences – whether she is drawing wasps feasting on apples fallen in the orchard, or trying to capture the cerulean blue of a winter sky. \

In this book, image and narrative text are wedded to create a beautiful journey through the seasons, taking time to appreciate our surroundings.

My Review:

Anna Koska is a celebrated illustrator of around 25 years over the years she has illustrated fruit, vegetables and nature, Anna’s work has featured in over 100 books but just published is Anna Koska’s first book, From Field & Forest: An Artist’s Year in Paint and Pen (Pavilion Books) that looks at the seasons and nature that surround her home and it really is an incredibly beautiful book.

Beginning in autumn and working through the seasons Anna celebrates the natural world that surrounds us. The beauty of From Field & Forest is that it is like being out in nature in that it makes you stop and wonder of the beauty that we have in front of us, and Anna captures this in both words and through her stunning illustrations. As the seasons change so does the natural world from autumn to the dark winter months and walking through a muddy landscape or hearing the gentle crunch of a frost covered field listening to the winter birdsong. As natural world awakes from its winter sleep, and life begins again Anna captures this beautifully within the landscape that surrounds her Sussex home.

Finally, Summer has arrived, and the hives are busy, and flowers are plentiful, there is something about standing in your garden at first light of a Summer’s day, the grass damp with early morning dew, listening to the birdsong. Anna describes these moments, and it is like you turn a page and you are there. Anna Koska has written and illustrated the most beautiful book in From Field & Forest that anyone who loves the natural world will enjoy through the seasons.

You can follow Anna Koska on Twitter: @GremKoska and also via her stunning Instagram account: @gremkoska

For mor information of books available via Pavilion Books: Pavilion Books

144 Pages.

My thanks to Komal Patel for the review copy of From Field & Forest by Anna Koska.

From Field & Forest by Anna Koska published by Pavilion Books on 4th March 2021 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

Covid Thoughts created and Photographed by Gemma Levine

Covid Thoughts created and Photographed by Gemma Levine


This book is a thought-provoking exploration of the challenges, lessons learnt, and personal experiences of the global pandemic communicated through the eyes of some of the influential public figures in society.

It features contributions from 30 personalities and politicians including the UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel, Bryan Robson, Prue Leith, Sir David Suchet, Joanna Lumley, William Boyd, Dame Maureen Lipman, and Terry Waite.

As well as raising funds for Lymphoedema research, Covid Thoughts is a compelling collection of the real accounts of people from across a diverse range of backgrounds offering a humbling and insightful glimpse into their Covid journeys.

Introduction by GEMMA LEVINE FRSA

My Review:

Gemma Levine is a well-known photographer and has published 20 books of photographs, she began her career back in 1975 and she is especially known for her stunning black & white photographs and since the 1980’s the list of names that she has photographed from British society are Politicians, sportsmen and women, many from stage and screen, writers, six Prime Ministers and royalty.

As the pandemic struck here in the UK Gemma Levine asked 40 people to pen their ‘Covid Thoughts’ and to go alongside this Gemma photographed each. And the photographs are amazing and so natural. Each contributor gives thought provoking and personal experiences of the pandemic as it took hold in each of our lives. For everyone, The Covid-19 pandemic has been a journey where all of us have experienced loss and grief and a journey through the course of the past 12 months.

Reading the words of famous names and those working on the front line and in care homes and from all walks of life their own words strike a chord as they describe their own personal journey.

Many famous people have supported this project by Gemma Levine in support of Lymphoedema research at St George’s Hospital in London. Names such as: Dame Judi Dench, Baroness Joan Bakewell, William Boyd, Simon Callow, Dame Joan Collins, Sir Karl Jenkins, Prue Leith, Joanna Lumley, Priti Patel, Dame Esther Ranzen, Dr Miriam Stoppard, Sir David Suchet, Terry Waite, The Lord Mayor, plus those who work on the front line: A Covid ITU nurse, also there are contributors from the Arts, Care Homes, Hospitality, Medicine, Music, Media, Politics, Sports, School and University students. etc.

*Lymphoedema is a long term-cronic condition that causes the swelling of the body’s tissues. It can affect any part of the body but usually develops in the arms and legs. If not identified and treated early it can get worse.

World Lymphoedema Day on Saturday 6 March 2021.

Copies of Covid Thoughts by Gemma Levine can be purchased Here

More details of the St George’s Hospital Charity can be found here: St George’s Hospital Charity

Price per copy: £15.00

My thanks to Grace Pilkington for the review copy of Covid Thoughts by Gemma Levine.

Covid Thoughts by Gemma Levine was published on 6th March 2021 and is available to order through via: Covid Thoughts   Proceeds from sales will go to Lymphoedema Research Charity, at St George’s Hospital.

David and Ameena by Ami Rao

David and Ameena by Ami Rao


Modern-day New York, a subway train. David, an American-Jewish jazz musician, torn between his dreams and his parents’ expectations, sees a woman across the carriage. Ameena, a British-Pakistani artist who left Manchester to escape the pressure from her conservative family, sees David. When a moment of sublime beauty occurs unexpectedly, the two connect, moved by their shared experience. From this flows a love that it appears will triumph above all. But as David and Ameena navigate their relationship, their ambitions, and the city they love, they discover the external world is not so easy to keep at bay. Ami Rao’s masterful debut novel picks apart the lives of two people, stripping them of their collective identities and, in doing so, facing up to the challenge of today: can love to give us the freedom to accept our differences?

My Review:

On a New York subway train eyes meet across the carriage and in that fleeting moment both David and Ameena fell for each other. David and Ameena (Fairlight Books) is the debut novel by Ami Rao and is beautiful modern day love story. Two people from different cultures and backgrounds and their hopes and ambitions and above all can love conquer the challenges that the pair face.

David is Jewish, his day job is an advertising executive but, in the evening, he plays jazz at various locations. Jazz is David’s first love. Ameena is a British Muslim from Manchester. After arriving in New York, she began a career as a journalist for a fashion magazine but there is more to Ameena, as away from her day job Ameena is an artist but there is more than just frustration in her work. Ameena is more than a strong character whereas David has a more relaxed and gentle way through life.

Form the first page until the last this is a beautiful story of just two people trying to find a way through this thing, we call life and everything that goes with it. Life is like the eb and flow of the tide and sometimes life like the sea can be quite rough and through both David and Ameena’s story we see the challenges they face, because of their cultures and their backgrounds.

I loved reading their story and wanted to cheer them on at every level. This is a couple that fell in love from that first fleeting glance across the carriage. But life was going to not make it easy for them. I loved reading about David’s love of jazz, mainly because I have love jazz for many years and Ameena’s struggles at being an artist. Sometimes it takes someone close to you to tell just how good you really are. When Ameena had to return home to Manchester for family reasons, there is a fear she may not return to New York and to David. Is this where their relationship comes to an end?

Settle down with David and Ameena story. I can recommend reading while listening to some jazz in the background.

It is so pleasing to see Ami now having written her first novel and already keen to see what comes next.

You can find out more about Ami Rao by visiting Ami’s website: Ami Rao

400 Pages.

My thanks to Fairlight Books for the review copy of David and Ameena by Ami Rao.  

David and Ameena by Ami Rao published by Fairlight Books and was published on published on 4th February 2021 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

Two Summers: Nixon and Trump by Greyhound Bus by Tim Albert

Two Summers: Nixon and Trump by Greyhound Bus by Tim Albert


In 1969 the 22-year-old Tim Albert spent three happy months on a 12,000 mile road trip around the United States on Greyhound buses. Half a century later – to the day – he set out to revisit his trip, armed with his original 30,000-word diary. Would he find the America of President Donald Trump much altered from the America of President Richard Nixon? How would Greyhound bus travel have changed in a world flooded by motor cars and electronic devices? And would his 72-year-old body last the course?

In this funny and finely observed account, our game hero tours New York with a 50-year-old Michelin Guide; discovers that bus passengers speak into their phones and not to each other; celebrates the golden jubilees of the moon landings, the gay rights movement and Kermit the Frog; declines the offer of a mail-order AK-47; and is told by half the people he meets that the President is a dangerous embarrassment and by the other half that he is a saviour who never lies. When two older ladies assume our scruffy traveller is homeless and reach into their handbags to give him money for food, he realises that one thing hasn’t changed – the generosity of Americans.

My Review:

The year was 1969 and Tim Albert (aged 22) travelled to the USA and spent three months travelling 12,000 miles across the country via the famous Greyhound buses. This was the time of President Nixon. After this mammoth adventure Tim became a journalist both local and national and for medical publications. 50 years later in 2019 Tim decided that it was time to recreate the trip across the USA.  

This time it was the era of Trump in the Whitehouse, so setting off on his adventure 50 years later together with the original diary and his old guidebook and a 12,000-mile adventure awaits. But just how has the USA changed in the 50 years since his last trip? I have to say after swapping many emails with Tim about this, just what a fantastic idea to recreate his original trip really was. Exciting and brave at the same time.

Just stop and think for a moment, 50 years ago, there was no mobile phone, no internet let alone email! You not just Google when you needed information, you had to go and find it yourself. But now times have really moved on. People on buses not communicating with each other but would rather communicate via mobile phones. But not everyone is Google happy and have the latest smartphones.

To get to know the USA of today you must really speak to people on the street and this is what Tim does, and gets a real feel for how people think of Trump and their homeland of today. Tim writes superbly and has lost none of the journalist. Yes, you can of course read this as a travelogue but one thing his trip across the USA did prove was that just how divided the country had become under Donald Trump as President.

From July 2019 and arriving in New York to September Tim travelled across country, I loved the humour and how despite the hiccups Tim faces and sometimes asking for help you find out just how kind people really are. There are conversations with many people from all walks of life and these really are interesting. Across the bus rides visiting cities and towns Tim Albert takes the reader on a Greyhound adventure. An excellent read and Tim’s love for the USA really shines through.

262 Pages.

My thanks to Tim Albert for the copy of Two Summers: Nixon and Trump by Greyhound Bus by Tim Albert.

Two Summers: Nixon and Trump by Greyhound Bus by Tim Albert was published by Elbow Publishing on 26th June 2020 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org