Anne Bonny #BookReview Those Who Are Loved by @VicHislop Victoria Hislop 4* #NewRelease #Historical #ww2Fiction #ww2 #Athens #Greece #GreekHistory @headlinepg

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Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

The gripping new novel by Sunday Times Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.

Athens 1941. After decades of political uncertainty, Greece is polarised between Right- and Left-wing views when the Germans invade.
Fifteen-year-old Themis comes from a family divided by these political differences. The Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. She watches friends die in the ensuing famine and is moved to commit acts of resistance.

In the civil war that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek.

Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee.
And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live.

As she looks back on her life, Themis realises how tightly the personal and political can become entangled. While some wounds heal, others deepen.

This powerful new novel from Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Greece’s past and weaves it into the epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live an extraordinary life.

My Review ~

Those Who Are Loved is an incredibly deep and emotive novel. It is quite lengthy at 496 pages and you do become immersed in the story of Themis Stavridus. We follow her from a young girl full of hope and optimism, to a young woman forced to make and stand by difficult choices. Eventually we return to Themis as an elderly lady reflecting to on her life and the repercussions of the war on their lives as a family.
Whilst I do see this as a ‘holiday read’ I would urge readers to prepare themselves for deep research, ww2 history and the fight between the far-left & far-right in 1940s Greece.

The novel opens in Athens 2016 as the family of four generations, gather for the birthday of Themis Stavridis. As Themis reflects on the current political climate in Greece. Of Homelessness/poverty, the rise of fascism and the anti-immigrant rhetoric. She is consumed with her own past, that she has never previously spoken of…
‘Her life story was not an heirloom, but it was all she had’

‘Once they were seated, Themis began to talk’

We are then rapidly transported to 1930’s Athens and the home of Themis’s childhood. Here we are introduced to her mother Eleftheria and her three siblings Thanasis, Panos and Margarita. Their father Pavlos is a merchant shipping worker and spends large periods away from the family home. They live in a simple and yet modest home on Antigoris Street. But for Themis and her siblings, this will also prove to be a time of great change as they end up being raised by their grandmother Kyria Koralis.
Kyria does her best to raise the children, but she is fighting a tough battle due to the economic depression hitting Greece. The children however, grow up surrounded by maternal love from her.

The novel jumps ahead 10yrs to Oct 1940. Greece is now vulnerable to the German and Italian army’s and potential invasion. The political and wartime climate is explained within the novel. It is done through the characters experiences, and therefore I did not feel like I was sat in a history lesson. Despite taking on a through amount of historical information. When it comes to far-left and far-right sympathies, the siblings are very divided. With Thanasis and Margarita able to accept the far-rights values. Whilst brother Panos sympathises with the far-left of the Soviets.
Themis is unsure to which side she feels a political alliance. That is until she meets school friend and refugee Fotini. Who has been raised in a different way of life, with a different set of politics.

‘Hitler doesn’t respect this country anymore than Mussolini does’

9th April 1941 – Greece becomes an occupied territory of the German Reich. The Nazi top brass blame the British Whilst Thanasis and Margarita are willing to accept this. It is not them who will truly pay the price for Nazi ideology. For Fotini’s mother loses her job, the family begin to starve and before long Fotini is wasting away.

‘Germany was a friend of Greece, not a foe’

Themis’s coming of age in occupied Greece, see her deal with a wide-range of emotional problems. Panos joins the resistance and before long it is Greek vs Greek, occupier vs communist. There are protests and violence. A  resulting massacre at the village of Kalavryta, showing the full horror of the Nazi regime.

The novel continues to tell the story of Themis’s family through the Nazi occupation, to the arrival of the British and eventually to the new government, bringing new hope.
It was easy to put yourself in the teenage siblings situations and walk in their shoes. Destruction of their home town, uncertainty and political divisions between the citizens.
When Themis vows to join the communists. her membership opens her eyes to the full extent of life in the far-left.

‘This is the harmony I want to restore to our country’

we continue on our journey with Themis, through her imprisonment at the most brutal island prison. We also see 1954, 1967, 1976, 1985 and ultimately back to the present day of 2016. With the long drawn out story told, Themis’s family is now fully aware of her past. When I finished the title, I suddenly felt bereft without the attachment to the novel and Themis’s story. I felt as though I had been with the family through their ups and downs. Their hardships and rare moments they had known  peace. It is funny sometimes how you can finish a near 500 page book and still want more.

This my first title read by the author and will definitely not be my last! 4*

VH
Victoria Hislop
Website
Twitter

Anne Bonny Top 5 Picks UK #Kindle Monthly Deals @lanakortchik @KHughesAuthor @HeidiPerksBooks @FrancesLiardet @NicolaCornick 99p EACH! @headlinepg @HQDigitalUK @4thEstateBooks @arrowpublishing

*In no particular order*

TSOU
The Story Of Us by Lana Kortchik ~ *Ebook 99P*

Synopsis ~

Watching the Red Army withdraw from Ukraine in the face of Hitler’s relentless advance, Natasha Smirnova realises her life is about to change forever.

As Kiev is cast under the dark cloud of occupation, Natasha falls in love with Mark, a Hungarian soldier, enlisted against all his principles on the side of the Nazis.

But as Natasha fights to protect the friends and family she holds dear she must face up to the dark horrors of war and the pain of betrayal. Will the love she and Mark share be strong enough to overcome the forces which threaten to tear them apart?

TWITL
The Woman In The Lake by Nicola Cornick ~ *Ebook 99P*

Synopsis ~

‘I see it all again: the silver moon swimming beneath the water and the golden gown billowing out about her…’

1765: Lady Isabella Gerard asks her maid to take her new golden gown and destroy it. Its shimmering beauty has been tainted by the actions of her husband the night before.

Three months later: Lord Eustace Gerard stands beside the lake looking down at the woman in the golden gown. As the body slowly rolls over to reveal her face, it’s clear this is not his intended victim…

1996: Fenella Brightwell steals a stunning gown from a stately home. Twenty years later and reeling from the end of an abusive marriage, she wonders if it has cursed her all this time. Now she’s determined to discover the history behind the beautiful golden dress…

WMBB
We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet ~ *Ebook 99P*

Synopsis ~

December, 1940. As German bombs fall on Southampton, the city’s residents flee to the surrounding villages. In Upton village, amid the chaos, newly-married Ellen Parr finds a girl sleeping, unclaimed at the back of an empty bus. Five-year-old Pamela, it seems, is entirely alone.

Ellen has always believed she does not want children, but when she takes Pamela into her home the child cracks open the past Ellen thought she had escaped and the future she had dreamed for herself. As the war rages on, love grows where it was least expected, surprising them all. But with the end of the fighting comes the realization that Pamela was never theirs to keep…

For anyone who loved All the Light we Cannot See and The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, We Must Be Brave is a luminous novel about the ways we can rescue one another, and the many different forms that courage can take.

CBFM
Come Back For me by Heidi Perks ~ *Ebook 99p*

Synopsis ~

A SHOCKING DISCOVERY.
A COMMUNITY WRAPPED IN SECRETS.

A tiny island community is stunned by the discovery of a long-buried body.

For Stella Harvey the news is doubly shocking. The body has been found in the garden of her childhood home – the home her family fled without explanation twenty-five years ago.

Now, questioning her past and desperate to unearth the truth, Stella returns to the isolated island. But she quickly finds that the community she left isn’t as welcoming as she remembers – and that people in it will go to any length to protect their secrets.

One thing rings true…
You can’t bury the truth forever.

HLP
Her Last Promise by Kathryn Hughes ~ *Ebook 99p*

Synopsis ~

Tara Richards was just a girl when she lost her mother. Years later when Tara receives a letter from a London solicitor its contents shake her to the core. Someone has left her a key to a safe deposit box. In the box lies an object that will change everything Tara thought she knew and lead her on a journey to deepest Spain in search of the answers that have haunted her for forty years.

Violet Skye regrets her decision to travel abroad leaving her young daughter behind. As the sun dips below the mountains, she reminds herself she is doing this for their future. Tonight, 4th June 1978, will be the start of a new life for them. This night will indeed change Violet’s destiny, in the most unexpected of ways…

Anne Bonny #BookReview Past Life by @NolanDom #NewRelease #CrimeFiction @headlinepg ‘An AMAZING debut novel 5*’

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Past Life by Dominic Nolan
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Waking up beside the dead girl, she couldn’t remember anything.
Who she was. Who had taken her. How to escape.

Detective Abigail Boone has been missing for four days when she is finally found, confused and broken. Suffering retrograde amnesia, she is a stranger to her despairing husband and bewildered son.

Hopelessly lost in her own life, with no leads on her abduction, Boone’s only instinct is to revisit the case she was investigating when she vanished: the baffling disappearance of a young woman, Sarah Still.

Defying her family and the police, Boone obsessively follows a deadly trail to the darkest edges of human cruelty. But even if she finds Sarah, will Boone ever be the same again?

My Review:

This novel has a gripping synopsis, a detective found with amnesia and a stranger to her own family. A pain that pushes her to search for the truth and justice.
I was 100% SOLD, straight from that.

The novel has a dark opening, with a woman awakening not knowing her own name. There is a nearby body of a late teen female, clearly dead. The scene is intense and dark, set the pace for the novel perfectly. The woman is in a locked room, with no handle on the inside of the door. The woman can here the voices of others nearby including another female.
‘Noises of fear. Noises of pain’

I was on tender hooks as I read her inner thoughts……
‘Deep breaths now – resist the urge to call out’
Eventually the female is able to escape, urging another captive to RUN!
‘She didn’t remember anything about anything’

As I said above, a tense, action-packed and emotionally charged opening scene.

Abigail Boone has since moved house, attempting a chance at a new start/life. She is still struggling with chronic pain in her leg. Her family, husband Jack and teen son Quin find her difficult to relate to as her habit have changed. Abigail Boone feels alone in the world. Her recovery is fully explored and we learn of the medical and psychological impact of what Abigail has sustained.

‘The doctors said short-term memory lass wasn’t that uncommon after major trauma, so confusion was to be expected. The heavy dose of benzodiazepines found in her system wouldn’t help either’

She has no memory of who she is but can understand the world, as such! Imagine surviving a trauma only to lose who you are and the ability to bring the perpetrators to justice?

‘Four days she had been missing. One hundred and two hours’

Abigail was found in a London flat, set alight there is no DNA/evidence and no ID on the dead body. The other female victim is Bulgarian, she is uncooperative due to her trauma and the investigation leads to a dead end.

‘Life was habits and systems and Boone had to learn them all anew’

The debut novel reminded me very much of Tim Weaver’s excellent missing series. As Boone, as she now likes to be called digs into a cold case in an attempt to expose her own memories. Her clinical psychologist husband Jack also urges her on in her search to find Sarah, a previous abduction case Boone had worked on.

Working Sarah’s case also leads Boone to Rumena Zlatkova (Roo) the Bulgarian captive held with Boone. Roo re-tells her experience of trafficking to Boone and we become aware of the horrors that these women endure.

‘Men like that rely on two things. Fear firstly. And secondly, the fact these girls have no voice. Nobody cares what they say’

Boone is a relentless force to be reckoned with, she makes an incredible protagonist and the ending completely blew me away, I felt bereft….

‘Masks don’t just hide identity – they hide a person’s humanity. Hiding that gives them the power, makes their victims feel powerless’

An AMAZING debut novel 5*

DN
Dominic Nolan
Twitter

Anne Bonny #BookReview A Question Of Trust by Penny Vincenzi #LiteraryFiction @headlinepg ‘This title is perfect for book groups’ 4*

my copy
A Question Of Trust by Penny Vincenzi
Netgalley/Own Copy
Synopsis:

1950s London. Tom Knelston is charismatic, working class and driven by ambition, ideals and passion. He is a man to watch. His wife Alice shares his vision. It seems they are the perfect match.

Then out of the blue, Tom meets beautiful and unhappily married Diana Southcott, a fashion model. An exciting but dangerous affair is inevitable and potentially damaging to their careers. And when a child becomes ill, Tom is forced to make decisions about his principles, his reputation, his marriage, and most of all, his love for his child.

My Review:

This is my first ever novel read by Penny Vincenzi. She is my sister’s favourite author and I decided to glance at the synopsis when I saw it on netgalley. Immediately it intrigued me and I decided I would give it a try…
What I was to uncover was, I am quite the Penny Vincenzi fan myself.

The novel is 600 pages in length and spans the years from 1936-1954. It covers many aspects of life within the era. The second world war, the changing roles of women, the sexual liberation of women, the class structure and changing political atmosphere.
Which as you can imagine is quite a lot to cover within one novel. The novel is character driven and centres around two main characters. Tom Knelston the working-class done good, that longs for a career in politics and is heavily influenced by the post-war socialist movement.

‘Politics are about principles’

Also, the beautiful Diana Southcott, born into privilege and wealth but; self-aware enough to realise that this does not always lead to a happy life.

“No I despise people who think marrying the right man, by which they mean rich and not common, is the only thing they want to do’ – Alice

The novel flicks back and forth between each character and details the choices they make and the impact they have on their own individual futures. They both chose to marry, Tom to local girl Alice and Diana to a man of her own class Jonathan. But when Jonathan is brutalised by the second world war, their love becomes divided and Diana becomes bored….
‘How Diana would fit into that future, he could not begin to imagine. Or even think about’ – Jonathan

There are secondary characters included, who are mutual friends of both Tom and Diana. One of my particular favourites was Ned. But for reasons I do not want to state as I do not want to leave spoilers in my review.

As said above the novel is long and one best enjoyed if you are invested in the characters early on. Personally, I became very invested in the characters and seeing how their lives turned out.
The author has done a fantastic job of bringing the 1940’s and 1950’s era fully alive. From the harsh realities of ww2, to Diana’s glamourous modelling career.

This title is perfect for book groups and I can imagine a whole host of debate themes would be uncovered. 4*

PV
Penny Vincenzi

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Killing House by @inkstainsclaire #IrishCrimeFiction #CrimeFiction #PaulaMaguire #6 @headlinepg

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The Killing House by Claire McGowan – Paula Maguire #6
Review Copy
Synopsis:

When a puzzling missing persons’ case opens up in her hometown, forensic psychologist Paula Maguire can’t help but return once more.

Renovations at an abandoned farm have uncovered two bodies: a man known to be an IRA member missing since the nineties, and a young girl whose identity remains a mystery.

As Paula attempts to discover who the girl is and why no one is looking for her, an anonymous tip-off claims that her own long-lost mother is also buried on the farm.

When another girl is kidnapped, Paula must find the person responsible before more lives are destroyed. But there are explosive secrets still to surface. And even Paula can’t predict that the investigation will strike at the heart of all she holds dear.

My Review:

The Killing House is the ultimate novel in the Forensic Pathologist Paula Maguire series. It is the novel where Paula’s past will finally be revealed. The novel surrounds a case involving human remains found in Paula’s native Ireland. Remains that will link right into the heart of Paula’s past and the disappearance of her mother.
Due to the relevance of Paula’s mother there are various scenes from 1983; building up to her eventual disappearance.
You are in for a rollercoaster of a ride!!!!

‘No one’s going to touch your daughter, come on now. We don’t hurt weans in this organisation’

What becomes evident as we follow Margaret (Paula’s mother) is that she knew her fate. It makes for terrifying reading.

London 2014, Paula is currently working within missing persons and is jolted back to her life in Ballyterrin after a phone call about the uncovered remains.
It seems no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape Ballyterrin or her past.
‘She would have to go back’

The crime scene is located at the Wallace family farm. The Wallace family had previous strong ties to the IRA and were heavily involved in the troubles of Northern Ireland.

‘However far you ran, and however long for, Ballyterin had a way of sucking you back in’

I am rather embarrassed to admit, I am not very clued up on the factual side of the NI troubles or the details of the Good Friday Agreement. I know it is a pivotal piece of history, but it was never discussed when I was at school etc. I keep meaning to read some of my non-fiction books regarding this time in history. But due to blog/children demands, rarely get to read much non-fiction.
I love how the author explained the complexity of the GFA within the story. I felt I was learning from the characters perspective and not being ‘told’, if you get what I am trying to say.

Although the novel is based on the past, it is very much focused around Paula. She makes a fantastic protagonist. This is possibly the most emotional novel in the series, for Paula. There is an intense ending, which left me worried it would be the last we see of her. 4*

CM
Claire McGowan (Eva Woods) 
Website
Twitter