The Patient Man by Joy Ellis

The Patient Man by Joy Ellis

Summary:

 MYSTERY WHICH WILL CAPTIVATE YOU FROM START TILL THE DRAMATIC ENDING

Serial killer Alistair Ashcroft is back and more terrifying than ever.

He sends a sinister warning to DS Marie Evans and breaks into DI Rowan Jackman’s uneasy domestic bliss.
Now everyone Jackman cares about is in danger. Yet for all Ashcroft’s taunts, he is nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, a seemingly routine break-in at the home of gun-club owner Kenneth Harcourt becomes complicated when the man long held responsible for killing Harcourt’s young daughter is shot dead in a car park by a sniper.
A killer is on the loose in the quiet streets of Saltern-le-Fen, and he isn’t going to stop. And the sniper, like Ashcroft, takes to taunting the police: they’ll never catch him, they need to respect him, they shouldn’t be sidetracked looking for their old adversary.

Jackman and Evans find themselves in a lethal game of cat-and-mouse, but are they the cats or the mice?

My Review:

First, I must admit I have not read any of Joy Ellis’s books before now, but I really enjoyed The Patient Man (Joffe Books) which has been shortlisted for the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year in this years British Book Awards ( Nibbies) which take place on 13th May.

The sixth in the series featuring Detective Inspector Rowan Jackman and Detective Superintendent Marie Evans. Although this continues from previous books, I found I got into the plot quickly as Jackman and Evans finally get to confront the psychopath that has haunted them. Alistair Ashcroft has murder on his mind, and it is the people of Saltern-le-Fen that are going to be dragged through coming events as Jackman and Evans hunt down their man before even more dead bodies turn up.

As the title of the book suggests, Ashcroft is intent on revenge and he now believes his time is now, the tension builds as a game of cat and mouse begins as Jackman is desperate to get this man and it is getting personal.

What I found I really liked that despite the building tense climax there is also some local crime in the town that needs investigating but is there a link to the crimes and a stolen rifle?

I really enjoyed Joy Ellis’s writing and how she weaves a thrilling pulse racing crime novel and writes in some interesting characters. The Patient Man holds nothing back from the very start and to the nerve-jangling ending. Does Jackman finally get his man? No spoilers here but this sets the pulse racing.

320 Pages.

My thanks to Becky Hunter and Joffe Books for the review copy of The Patient Man by Joy Ellis.

The Patient Man by Joy Ellis is published by Joffe Books and was published       18th 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

Walking Pepys’s London by Jacky Colliss Harvey

Walking Pepys’s London by Jacky Colliss Harvey

Summary:

Samuel Pepys walked round London for miles. The 21/2 miles to Whitehall from his house near the Tower of London was accomplished on an almost daily basis, and so many of his professional conversations took place whilst walking that the streets became for him an alternative to his office. With Pepys’s London, the reader will come to know life in London from the pavement up and see its streets from the perspective of this renowned diarist. The city was almost as much a character in Pepys’s life as his family or friends, and the book draws many parallels between his experience of 17th-century London and the lives of Londoners today. Colliss Harvey’s new book reconstructs the sensory and emotional experience of the past, bringing geography, biography and history into one. Full of fascinating details and written with extraordinary sensitivity, Pepys’s London is an unmissable exploration into the places that made the greatest English diarist of all time.

My Review:

In my youth I really enjoyed reading Samuel Pepys’s diary his accounts of the Great Plague in 1665 and the Great Fire of London the following year both witnessed by Pepys’s and they offer a great insight of what it was like in the city as the rich and wealthy fled including the king. I have walked many times through London retracing the many key places of times past, but I was delighted to have received a copy of Walking Pepys’s London (Haus Publishing) by Jacky Colliss Harvey just released in a stunning read hardback edition simply perfect for your pocket.

Samuel Pepys was a great walker and he walked across London daily, and it is said that the streets were indeed his office. I have often thought about what routes he took and now Jacky Colliss Harvey has written a book that is a guide to five of the walks that Samuel Pepys would often take and now you can retrace he famous walks.

Each walk is of varying length and Jacky is your guide as you trace Pepys steps the author points out many famous places and landmarks. They are both entertaining and informative. Walks from Westminster to the City, a night walk, a walk along the river to Greenwich and even a New Year’s Day walk. Each synonymous as the great man himself would have walked each.

You will get to visit many famous places that would be of real interest to anyone who loves the city and its links to famous names, and many are pointed out.

The real beauty of this book is that you do not have to travel to London, from the comfort of your chair Jacky is your guide and there are maps that lead you along each walk.

The night-time walk is really a half-day walk through London then across the river to Southwark and to one of the oldest pubs in the country the George Inn which dates back from 1677 and a place I know very well and remains a place close to my heart. It is owned and leased by the National Trust and is worthy of a visit.

I really enjoyed Jacky’s writing as she guides you across the capital pointing out places of interest. If you enjoy history and London, I can really recommend Walking Pepys’s London by Jacky Colliss Harvey.

220 Pages.

My thanks to Haus Publishing for the review copy of Walking Pepys’s London by Jacky Colliss Harvey

Walking Pepys’s London by Jacky Colliss Harvey is published by Haus Publishing    and was published on 15th April 2021. 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 Screaming Sky by Charles Foster

The Screaming Sky by Charles Foster

Summary:

Swifts live in perpetual summer. They inhabit the air like nothing on the planet. They watched the continents shuffle to their present places and the mammals evolve. They are not ours, though we like to claim them. They defy all our categories and present no passports as they surf the winds across the worlds. They sleep in the high thin air – their wings controlled by an alert half-brain. This is a radical new look at the Common Swift – a numerous but profoundly un-common bird – by Charles Foster, author of the New York Times Bestseller, Being a Beast. Foster follows the swifts throughout the world, manically, lyrically, yet scientifically. The poetry of swifts is in their facts, and this book, in Little Toller’s monograph series, draws deeply on the latest extraordinary discoveries.

My Review:

As I write this it is that time of year that I become excited, I know they are coming, and I have heard reports of sightings, but I am out walking most days eyes searching the sky looking and hoping to see the return of my most favourite birds that visit us for the summer months. The Swift (Apus apus) but as I have been waiting patiently, I have been reading The Screaming Sky by Charles Foster that has just been released by Little Toller Books.

Swifts spend all their time on the wing and only come to land to breed, they even sleep on the wing and in the book the author recounts details of a WWI pilot while flying at night coming across a group of Swifts that seemed to be sleeping in a cloud even airline pilots have recounted sighting of Swifts.

But they like many species are under so much pressure in our modern world whether it is the insects they feed on or their nesting sites diminishing. Yet imagine a summer without seeing a flock of screaming Swifts flying low over your house. An RSPB survey said numbers had fallen by 53% between 1995 and 2016. That is a shocking statistic and more must be done to save them.

I read recently that there are 113 species of Swift in the world (International Ornithological Congress), and we do have the odd rarity of Swift that crosses the channel to the UK most summers. But for the Common Swift they are built for flying and not for landing just look at those incredible wings and the forked tail. Ever since I was a boy I was fascinated with Swifts and to this day the excitement of seeing my first of the summer. But sad when the time comes for them to depart on their return journey to Africa. I have spent a few weeks during the winter in Africa watching Swifts and bid them farewell until the summer when I left for home. It was the naturalist Gilbert White said that Swifts hibernated under water.

In The Screaming Sky, Charles Foster follows them from Africa in their wintering home and then counting the days for their migration and their perilous journey to Europe and the UK. Foster also talks about how strange weather can create vast gatherings of Swifts and in 2020 off Gibraltar Point in Lincolnshire there was a gathering of more than 46,000 birds, I cannot even begin to imagine what a sight that must have been.

This is a wonderful book for anyone who loves our annual summer visitor and the illustrations by Jonathan Pomeroy just make this book so perfect. This is a book that will sit perfectly among my vast natural history books and will cherish re-reading during the cold dark winter months after the swifts have departed. But first I am off for a walk in the hope of seeing my first sighting of the summer. It has been a long winter. I yearn to hear a flock of screaming swifts again.

You can follow Charles Foster on Twitter: @@tweedpipe

And Little Toller: @LittleToller

179 Pages.

My thanks to Little Toller Books for the review copy of The Screaming Sky by Charles Foster.

The Screaming Sky by Charles Foster is published by Little Toller Books and was published on 14th April 2021. 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

Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen

Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen

Summary:

Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.

When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.

Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, Josephine, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…

Both a heart-wrenchingly poignant portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life- affirming read and, quite simply, unforgettable.

My Review:

This is an exceedingly difficult review to write, I am not sure that I have the right words to describe just what an outstanding debut novel Everything Happens for a Reason (Orenda Books) by Katie Allen really is. A very poignant story that was inspired by the authors own experience of stillbirth and grief.

The main character in the story is Rachel whose heart is shattered when her son was stillborn. But for Rachel who is on maternity leave without a baby wants to know why her son Luke was born sleeping and now finds herself trying to make sense of everything as well as the pain and grief. But what I will say here, there is humour in the story despite the grief.

Rachel has borrowed her mother’s sausage dog but really believes she herself is to blame for the loss of her son as on the day she found out she was pregnant she managed to stop a man committing suicide by jumping in front of a train.

If there is one statement that I really dislike is that ‘everything happens for a reason’ I have had that said to me just recently and the same happens to Rachel in the story and this is where her quest begins, try, and find the answer to ‘why’. Rachel also decides she needs to find the man she saved that day, and, in some way, it may help her to try and find some answers.

Rachel’s journey to find the man and find answers for the loss of her son will take her on a journey where she will meet some unexpected people, and this could well help her in her journey to find reasons. Then of course there are the emails, and this I will leave there for you to discover. It is a heart-breaking story packed with emotion but let us not forget the humour that is in the storyline as well.

I do not know if I am the right person to write a review about such a painful loss but Katie if you by chance read this review, you have written an incredible debut novel that I will not forget and cannot wait to see what you do next. Highly Recommended.

320 Pages.

My thanks to Orenda Books for the review copy of Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen.

Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen is published by Orenda Books and is published 10th June 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

Books on the Hill – Open Dyslexia Kickstarter Project

Today in place of a book review I want to share with you a project that is being run by Books on the Hill, a bookshop in Clevedon, North Somerset.

Books on the Hill are passionate about helping people with dyslexia and who have difficulty in reading. Dyslexia is a learning difference that primarily affects reading and writing skills. The NHS estimates that up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK have some form of dyslexia, while other dyslexic organizations believe 1 in 5 and more than 2 million people in the UK are severely affected.

Dyslexia does not stop someone from achieving. There are many individuals who are successful and are dyslexic. Famous actors, such as Orlando Bloom; Entrepreneurs like Theo Paphitis, and many, many more, including myself. All of who believe dyslexia has helped them to be where they are now. Dyslexia, though, as I can attest to, does not go away. You don’t grow out of it, and so we are acknowledging that and trying to without being patronising, create a selection of books that will be friendly to people who deal with dyslexia every day.

Since we started the project in 2019, Books on the Hill have had many adults customers with dyslexia come in shop the asking for something accessible to read. For example, one customer asked if we stocked well known novels in a dyslexic friendly format. Unfortunately we had to say no, as they just don’t exist. We explained what we are trying to achieve by printing our own and she replied:

“I have been reading [children dyslexic] books but they are a bit childish so am really happy I have found your company!! Thanks so much again and thank you for making such a helpful and inclusive brand – it means a lot. “

This response is not isolated. We have had many adults come in to the shop with dyslexia, who do not read or struggle to read and they they believe dyslexic friendly books would have real impact on their reading for pleasure.

The Team

Books on the Hill is Alistair Sims. He is the manager and commander-in-chief of the bookshop (though his partner, Chloe and his mother, Joanne, who set up the bookshop with him, may disagree with this description ). Alistair is dyslexic and has a PhD in history and archaeology. Alistair could not read until he was 13 and is passionate about helping anyone who has difficulty reading. He is the driving force behind BOTH Press and has been involved in every step in this project, from finding award winning authors to contribute, the cover design, and the road to publication, including setting up for distribution.

Books on the Hill are collaborating with Chrissey Harrison, who is also an local author and member of North Bristol Writers Group. Chressey and Alistair have designed the book-covers together, with Chrissey creating the finished product we now look on at awe with. Nearly all the design work has been done by Chrissey, and she is also in charge of the printing process, typesetting. We are so proud and appreciative to be working with her.

Special mention must go to Harrison Gates, who runs Nine Worthy, and who has dedicated his time and expertise to produce our print catalogue for us free of cost.

Joanne Hall is an author, editor and formerly the Chair of BristolCon, Bristol’s premier (and only) science fiction and fantasy convention. We must give a huge thank you to Jo for proof reading the stories free of cost.

Who Are We Working With

We have been so fortunate that many great authors have agreed to contribute to this project. All are brilliant authors and are names I am sure you will recognise.

Stan Nicholls, who has been a great support to me particularly with my PhD. He is the author of many novels and short stories but is best known for the internationally acclaimed Orcs: First Blood series.

Steven Savile, the fantasy, horror and thriller writer, now lives in Stockholm whose father is a customer of our bookshop.

The horror duo that is Thana Niveau and John Llewellyn Probert, both well established and engaging authors and also residents of Clevedon.

Adrian Tchaikovsky is an Arthur Clark Award winner and best known for his series Shadows of the Apt, and for his novel Children of Time.

Steven Poore is the highly acclaimed fantasy writer who I first met on my first fantasy convention in Scarborough.

We finish the Magnificent Seven with Joel Cornah, who also has dyslexia, and with whom I participated in a podcast on dyslexia for the Clevedon Literature 2020 ‘Festival in the Clouds’.

How To Get involved

We are launching a Kickstarter beginning in April 2nd 2021 for 30 days, with the focus on paying for the printing of our books and giving us starting capital to continue to print more titles.

There will be many ways you can be involved in this. You can contribute on the Kickstarter website itself. There will be a number of different options of donating money, in which you will receive rewards, such as ebooks of a title or a paperback of one or more of the titles to be published. In addition a unique reward from authors who are contributing to the project.

You can still contribute outside the kickstarter. We are happy to receive your help in the shop, where we will have a donation box available.

https://www.booksonthehill.co.uk/

@booksonthehill (Twitter)

@booksonthehill (Instagram)

@indpendentbooksonthehill (Facebook)

On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold

On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold

Summary:

Thorn Marsh was raised in a house of whispers, of meaningful glances and half-finished sentences. Now she’s a journalist with a passion for truth, more devoted to her work at the London Journal than she ever was to her ex-husband.

When the newspaper is bought by media giant The Goring Group, who value sales figures over fact-checking, Thorn openly questions their methods, and promptly finds herself moved from the news desk to the midweek supplement, reporting heart-warming stories for their new segment, The Bright Side, a job to which she is spectacularly unsuited.

On a final warning and with no heart-warming news in sight, a desperate Thorn fabricates a good-news story of her own. The story, centred on an angelic apparition on Hampstead Heath, goes viral. Caught between her principles and her ambitions, Thorn goes in search of the truth behind her creation, only to find the answers locked away in the unconscious mind of a stranger.

Marika Cobbold returns with her eighth novel, On Hampstead Heath. Sharp, poignant, and infused with dark humour, On Hampstead Heath is an homage to storytelling and to truth; to the tales we tell ourselves, and the stories that save us.

My Review:

I have very fond memories of walking on Hampstead Heath during my time living in London and so when I realised Marika Cobbold was releasing her eighth novel On Hampstead Heath (Arcadia Books) I was more than keen to review before publication. And what a fabulous read it really is. My thanks to Georgina Moore at Midas PR for sending me a review copy.

Thorn Marsh is a journalist for the London based newspaper The New London Journal and she has been at the paper for many years and is dedicated to her role as News Editor. But then the paper is now being bought by the Goring Group. The problem is that Marsh does not really agree with their ways of running a newspaper and this causes conflict which means that she now finds herself being somewhat moved out of the job she has loved to a role within the paper covering feel good stories. That is not really a role for our Thorn Marsh.

As this is basically a story of how much we can really believe in the newspaper business and the digital social media world the story now takes on a real twist as Thorn Marsh as she seeks to find a really good story that will make her bosses sit up and take notice except the story is not actually true but just how did she manage to come up with the story in the first place? I just love how Marika Cobbold has created the character of Thorn Marsh. There were real times I was laughing quite loudly and that is not best in the early hours.

But what of our leading character, now the story she has created has gone crazy and viral. But what does Marsh do now? She has spent the best part of thirteen years living and working as a journalist with a real conscience for the truth. And the truth is out there somewhere!

This is just a brilliant novel that I just knew I was going to love, and it is witty. A real joy. A novel to jump and down about, but not in the early hours please!

248 Pages.

My thanks to Georgina Moore (Midas PR) and Arcadia Books for the review copy of On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold.

On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold is published by Arcadi Books and will be published on 15 April 2020 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

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The Old Enemy by Henry Porter

The Old Enemy by Henry Porter

Summary:

Ex-MI6 officer Paul Samson has been tasked with secretly guarding a gifted young woman, Zoe Freemantle. He is just beginning to tire of the job when he is attacked in the street by a freakish looking knifeman. It’s clear the target is on his back not hers. What he doesn’t know is who put it there.

At that moment, his mentor, the MI6 legend Robert Harland lies dead on a remote stretch of the Baltic coastline. Who needed to end the old spy’s life when he was, in any case, dying from a terminal illness? And what or who is Berlin Blue, the name scratched in the sketchbook beside his body?

A few hours later, Samson watches footage from the US Congress where billionaire philanthropist Denis Hisami is poisoned with a nerve agent while testifying – an attack that is as spectacular as it is lethal, but spares Anastasia Hisami, the love of Samson’s life.

Two things become clear. One, it was a big mistake to lose the mysterious Zoe Freemantle. And two, Robert Harland is making a final play from beyond the grave.

My Review:

Paul Samson is an ex-MI16 officer, but he now finds himself doing private work to pay the bills and now he has been hired to keep safe Zoe Freemantle. But now someone has tried to kill him just because he was keeping an eye on the young woman he was hired to protect. The Old Enemy (Quercus) by Henry Porter is the new gripping espionage thriller that is released today 15 April.

Sometimes it is always best to ask questions, but Samson took the job, and the money was good, but this job is more dangerous than he has realised and when news reaches Samson that his former colleague Robert Harland has been murdered, he soon realises that his own life is now in real danger and at any moment he could be next. All that he knows is that Zoe Freemantle worked for a powerful environmental organisation, but what is the connection?

Over in the States Samson’s friend Denis Hisami is giving evidence in Washington when he is poisoned with a neurotoxin, there is a real concern of something sinister like that of what happened in Salisbury. Now Paul Samson heads to Estonia to try and find the link that will lead his to those responsible for Harland’s murder as well as the poisoning of Hisami as well as the attempts on his own life.

It soon becomes clear that both Harland and Hisami were clearly on to something that involved an ex-Stasi agent. When Sampson is joined by Hisami’s wife they must act quickly and find who is responsible before anyone else is murdered and if they can strike at the heart of Washington then no-one is safe.

This is the first novel I have read by Henry Porter and is a pulsating read, the idea was created by Porter on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.

#TheOldEnemy

@HenryCPorter

@quercusbooks

@midaspr

416 Pages.

My thanks to Sophie Ransom (Midas PR) and Quercus for the review copy of The Old Enemy by Henry Porter.

The Old Enemy by Henry Porter is published by Quercus and is published today 15 April 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

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The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

Summary:

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?

Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .

Inspired by real events, The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex is an intoxicating and suspenseful mystery, an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.

My Review:

Since my childhood days I have had a fascination with lighthouses, I have travelled around the coastline from Cornwall to the Scottish Isles to visit as many as I can so when I heard of The Lamplighters (Picador) by Emma Stonex I knew this was a book I was going to enjoy, and it really is outstanding.

It is New Year’s Eve 1972, and a boat is approaching the Maiden Rock lighthouse off the Cornish coast. This lighthouse is far off the coast and the three men that take turns at manning the lighthouse are isolated and when a storm starts the sea that surrounds them is a boiling sea that lashes the lighthouse.

The boat has come to relive the three men and take them back to shore to be with their families. But something is not quite right. There is no sign of Bill Walker, Arthur Black or Vincent Bourne, they have vanished mysteriously. But how is that possible, as they are miles from anywhere, just the sea for company.

Once inside the Maiden Rock lighthouse nothing seems as it should. That alone is enough to send a shiver down the spine. What has happened to the three men? Was it suicide, or murder or something more ghostly?

It is now 1992 and the mystery remains just that, there are now explanations and for Helen, Jenny, and Michelle, how can they move one when they do not know what happened to their loved ones and the mystery has only driven a wedge between them. But now a writer has come forward and wants to speak to the three women about their memories and now the three women talk their theories, and so we also get to see the days of the three men at the lighthouse.

The Lamplighters is a seriously impressive mystery that I really could not leave alone. Emma Stonex has written a stunning suspense packed novel that hints at a ghost story, a love story, and a mystery story. It is just so riveting and beautifully written. One of the best novels of 2021.

#TheLamplighters

@StonexEmma

@picadorbooks

@MidasPR

368 Pages.

My thanks to Georgina Moore (Midas PR) and Picador for the review copy of The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex was published by Picador on 4th 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

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My Brother by Karin Smirnoff

My Brother by Karin Smirnoff

Translated by Anna Paterson

Summary:

Jana is returning to see her twin brother Bror, still living in the family farmhouse in the rural north of Sweden. The house is decrepit and crumbling, and Bror is determindly drinking himself into an early grave. The siblings are both damaged by horrific childhood experiences, buried deep in the past, but Jana cannot keep running.

Alive with the brutality and beauty of the landscape, My Brother is a novel steeped in darkness and violence – about abuse, love, complicity, and coming to terms with the past. It’s the story of a homecoming without a home: a story of forgiveness.

My Review:

I must admit that this could be a difficult read for some readers as there are themes running through this novel that are difficult but also there is hope and that was important. My Brother (Pushkin Press) by Karin Smirnoff deals with family abuse and cruelty and it is challenging but I was determined to finish reading.

Set in the North of Sweden, and Jana Kippo is heading home to the family farmhouse where her brother still lives. The farmhouse is now pretty much run down and that goes for Bror her brother. There are grim memories for both here and that explains why Bror is heading towards an early grave. He is drinking a lot and his health is poor.

As children they were abused in the worst way possible while their mother accepted this and both are struggling in their own to way through life, for Bror drinking, maybe it helps him forget but it is a path of self-destruction and for Jana she likes to clean. The wintery landscape is bleak with the freezing conditions and deep snow. But seasons do change and with that there is hope for the future. The storyline is bleak but there are times when we can have a glimpse of what could be for Jana and Bror.

Karin Smirnoff for her debut novel has created a difficult storyline but also an isolated setting. Smirnoff has also written in a unique style with little punctuation but every now and then the author brings something into the storyline which then hits hard into the plot and the reader, but I liked the authors writing style. A word about the translation. This is by Anna Paterson and she has done an excellent job with the translation.

The rights to My Brother have been sold to nine territories and has been optioned for a major international TV production.

320 Pages.

My thanks to Poppy Stimpson (Pushkin Press) for the review copy of My Brother by Karin Smirnoff  

My Brother by Karin Smirnoff was published by Pushkin Press and was published on 4th 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

While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart

While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart

Summary:

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