A Week in ParisThe Blurb

A captivating story of love, courage and survival set in wartime Paris and the early 1960s, by the bestselling author of The Silent Tide

1961: Born on the day that WW2 broke out, 21-year-old Fay Knox cannot remember her early childhood in London, before she moved to a Norfolk village with her mother, Kitty. Though she has seen a photograph of her father, she does not recall him either. He died, she was told, in an air raid, and their house destroyed along with all their possessions. Why then, on a visit to Paris on tour with her orchestra, does a strange series of events suggest that she spent the war there instead? There is only one clue to follow, an address on the luggage label of an old canvas satchel. But will the truth hurt or heal?

1937: Eugene Knox, a young American doctor, catches sight of 19-year-old Kitty Travers on the day she arrives in Paris, and cannot get her out of his mind. She has come to study the piano at the famed Conservatoire, and lodges at a convent near Notre Dame. Eugene and Kitty will fall in love, marry and have a daughter, but France’s humiliating defeat by Germany is not far behind, and the little family must suffer life under Nazi occupation. Some Parisians keep their heads down and survive, others collaborate with the enemy while others resist. The different actions of Eugene, Kitty and their friends will have devastating consequences that echo down the generations.

The Review

I’ve never been an avid reader of historical novels. In part, this is due to the fact that I only have interest in certain parts of history (I know, I’m awful). I think my aversion to historical fiction, in particular to wartime fiction has been that my mother tends to read nothing but. However, I am not one to be prejudice and I gave Rachel Hore’s A Week in Paris a read.

I must say, A Week in Paris is a wonderful, heartbreaking, and harrowing story of a young family trying to survive occupied France and the repercussions that are still felt nearly two decades later. The characters are wonderfully crafted as is the tale of mystery.

However, I personally found sections of this book a bit of a chore to read. For me, the pacing was all wrong which is a shame because the actual story is rather interesting and the factual element made it all the more compelling.

If you like historical fiction then please give A Week in Paris a read – more so if you are interested in wartime France.

A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore is available now.

35 Stars

Our SongThe Blurb

The stunning new emotional drama from ebook phenomenon Dani Atkins, author of Fractured – perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Dorothy Koomson.

This is the story of Ally and Charlotte, whose paths have intersected over the years though they’ve never really been close friends. Charlotte married Ally’s ex and first true love, David. Fate is about to bring them together one last, dramatic time and change their lives forever.

Full of Dani’s signature warmth and emotion, this is a gripping and emotional family drama. With breath-taking plot twists, Dani explores themes of serendipity, friendship and love. She fully engages the reader in the dilemmas faced by her characters. What would you do if your husband was the love of somebody else’s life? And when faced with an agonising decision, could you put the past behind you and do the right thing?

The Review

So I am book two into 2016 and I have a bit of a problem. The problem is, quite simply, this: I don’t think I am going to find another book this year that has touched me, moved me and broken me the way that Dani Atkins Our Song has. This book is wonderful.

Don’t get me wrong, Our Song is brutal. If you don’t like books that pull at your heartstrings, play on your emotions or leave you with puffy eyes then Our Song is not the book for you. However, if you like books that are in the same ilk as Me Before You, My Sister’s Keeper, One Day and A Walk to Remember then you must buy this book now.

Our Song will break you. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

I really don’t want to say too much (or indeed anything) about the plot because this is the sort of book that you need to discover yourself, page by heartbreaking page.

With Our Song, Atkins shows all the mastery of a great storyteller; there are plot twists, suspense, love, jealous among many others and I spent the whole time reading it with my heart beating in my chest.

I was recommending it to friends before I had even finished. I was lost to the outside world; woe-be-tide anyone that disturbed me whilst I was reading it. Our song has this power. It is a rare power that less than a handful of books have ever held over me but it is definitely going to be the benchmark against which I judge all other books this year.

Our Song by Dani Atkins is available from January 28th 2016

A special thanks to Sara Jade Virtue at Books and the City for sending me a review copy of Our Song.

Follow Dani Atkins (@AtkinsDani) on Twitter.

5 Stars

Title: The Mini Break

Author: Jane Costello

Pages: 69 Pages

The Blurb

An exclusive eBook short story from the bestselling author of The Wish List, Jane Costello. Featuring extracts from The Time of Our Lives and Jane’s brand new novel, The Love Shack, coming April 2015!

When Sophie’s friend Anisha is sent on her first foreign trip in her job at a travel agency – and gets to take Sophie with her – she jumps at the chance of some time away.

But what Sophie doesn’t realise is that there is a catch – a rather large catch. The five-star hotel is also a world-renowned golf resort. And its owners have offered the holiday on the basis of the girls’ golfing prowess. Of which they possess quite literally none…

A laugh-out-loud short story from the brilliant bestselling author, Jane Costello.

The Review

Sophie needs a break (don’t we all?) and when her friend Anisha offers her a holiday in a fancy pants hotel she almost bites her fingers off. If you are thinking that this seems too good to be true then you would be right. For the duration of their stay, Sophie and Anisha have to pretend to be experienced golf players – and since neither of them even know what a ‘birdy’ is they are almost definitely screwed. Can the two manage to keep their subterfuge under wraps?

So, as far as short stories go this wasn’t my favourite. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed The Mini Break but I felt that it would have made a better buddy novel. The capers and mistakes that Sophie and Anisha got up to could have been embellished a bit more. There was so much that could have been done with the basis of this story. I also think that it would have read better if it wasn’t told in the first person.

I just wish that this had been a full length novel.

The Mini Break by Jane Costello is available now.

The Blurb

Life’s great when you’re 29 years old with a gorgeous girlfriend and fulfilling job. Until you have to move back in with your mum . . . Dan and Gemma have found their dream first home, but the asking price is the stuff of nightmares. The only way they’ll ever save enough for the deposit is by moving in, rent-free, with Dan’s mum. It’s a desperate solution, but it’s only for six months. And Gemma’s determined to make it work, no matter how bad things get. But between Dan’s mum’s kitchen karaoke, her constant innuendos, irrepressible argumentative streak and – worst of all – her ham and pineapple curries, life back at home would test the patience of two saints. Which Dan and Gemma most definitely are not. Then, as they’re trying to convince themselves it will all be worth it, Gemma’s past comes back to haunt her. And suddenly the foundations of their entire relationship are shaken to their core…

The Review

Gemma and Dan have a great relationship but it is put to the test when they make the very grown up decision to buy a house. To save money, they move in with Dan’s mum Belinda and it is then in the claustrophobic environment that the cracks begin to show.

Along with the house being a massive money pit it also has awkward sellers and an estate agent who doesn’t seem to be on Gem and Dan’s side. To throw in further complications Gemma’s past catches up with her; thus making the already fraught situation seem worse.

The Love Shack is a story of love. It may sound cheesy but real love. Love that is complicated by reality, the things in life that you can’t always control and I think that is why it is so good. Jane Costello has created characters that you genuinely care about and wish you were friends with so you could give them the advice that you are so intently shouting at the book, hoping that they hear what you have to say…but you know, them being fictional makes it a tad hard to do.

Personally, there was another element of the book that I enjoyed greatly was the Liverpool setting. This probably won’t titillate everyone who reads it but being a girl who was born and raised (and who still resides) in Liverpool I loved that I was able to connect the dots and really visualise actual places and to see that Costello was true to their beauty (seriously, Liverpool has some fantastic architecture) throughout The Love Shack.

I really enjoyed The Love Shack. It was a fun and to some extent easy read that did deal with some gritty issues. I think that shows Costello’s skill as a writer. As this is the first of her book that I have read I can safely say that it won’t be my last. One thing is for sure, I am now genuinely terrified about ever buying a house.

The Love Shack by Jane Costello is available now.

Follow Jane Costello (@JaneCostello) on Twitter.

The Love Shack

The Blurb

1912 and London is in turmoil…

The suffragette movement is reaching fever pitch but for broke Fleet Street tomboy Frankie George, just getting by in the cut-throat world of newspapers is hard enough. Sent to interview trapeze artist Ebony Diamond, Frankie finds herself fascinated by the tightly laced acrobat and follows her across London to a Mayfair corset shop that hides more than one dark secret.

Then Ebony Diamond mysteriously disappears in the middle of a performance, and Frankie is drawn into a world of tricks, society columnists, corset fetishists, suffragettes and circus freaks. How did Ebony Diamond vanish, who was she afraid of, and what goes on behind the doors of the mysterious Hourglass Factory?

From the newsrooms of Fleet Street to the drawing rooms of high society, the missing Ebony Diamond leads Frankie to the trail of a murderous villain with a plot more deadly than anyone could have imagined…

The Review

I am a huge fan of historical fiction and I think that is what drew me to The Hourglass Factory to begin with. What I didn’t expect was to be fully immersed into a post-Victorian London and wanting to fight alongside the suffragettes; to become an investigative journalist and even an acrobat.

Ribchester’s story is engaging, powerful and intriguing. She leaves you with the “just one more chapter” feeling and this story will have you hooked long after you know you should have put the book down and got on with real life.

Ribchester’s protagonist, Frankie George, is both compelling and sassy along with being frustrating at times as she is determined to be independent. Her secondary characters are well thought out and plotted succinctly. Ribchester leaves you with no gaps or questions. Equally the mystery that she has her characters solving is meticulous and does leave you feeling shocked. What more could you want from a story?

One thing is for certain, this is historical fiction at its very best.

The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester is available now.

You can follow Lucy Ribchester (@lucyribchester) on Twitter.

The Hourglass Factory