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) 
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Kindred by Octavia E. Butler 5* #TimeTravel #Slavery #DiverseLiterature @headlinepg ‘This is a powerful novel. It is intelligent and generates deep thought. The hierarchy of slavery and violence is fully explored.’

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Kindred by Octavia. E Butler
My own copy
Synopsis:

In 1976, Dana dreams of being a writer. In 1815, she is assumed a slave.

When Dana first meets Rufus on a Maryland plantation, he’s drowning. She saves his life – and it will happen again and again.

Neither of them understands his power to summon her whenever his life is threatened, nor the significance of the ties that bind them.

And each time Dana saves him, the more aware she is that her own life might be over before it’s even begun.

Octavia E. Butler‘s ground-breaking masterpiece is the extraordinary story of two people bound by blood, separated by so much more than time.

My Review:

Kindred is such an exceptionally difficult novel to describe. Especially when it comes to the area of genre. It has themes of historical slavery, time travel and at it’s heart a beautiful romance between Dana and her husband Kevin.
Although it is tricky to describe and review, I urge you to buy a copy!
You won’t be disappointed.

It is June 9th 1976, Dana’s 26th birthday when she first meets Rufus. She saves his life from drowning in the river and is met with the threat of death via the barrel of a gun!
Dana then reappears in the modern day (1976). Was this a dream? An hallucination? Dana desperately tries to piece it all together. Rufus’s southern accent, the scenery etc.

Dana continues to be drawn and pulled back into the past every time Rufus encounters trouble. When Dana plays close attention to Rufus’s language and the dialogue of his conversations, she then realises, she is in a dark era of time. Dana is being transported back to 1815. Also not just any location but the Weylin Plantation where 38 slaves are held. This is an extremely dangerous era for Dana to be pulled into.

‘The possibility of meeting a white adult here frightened me, more than the possibility of street violence ever had at home’ – Dana

‘Paperless blacks were fair game for any white’

In the modern day (1976) Dana is married to Kevin Franklin. The story of who they met and fell in love is incorporated into the story. He is the only person to have physically witnessed Dana’s journeys into the past and has deep concern. It may be worth noting Dana is African American and Frank is white. Something Rufus refuses to believe, when she attempts to explain the future to him.

‘Rufus fear of death calls me to him, and my own fear of death sends me home’ – Dana

There are violent scenes and scenes where you see the KKK in all their evil glory. They are painful to read but describe the violence and dehumanisation that was inflicted upon slaves and free black people in 1815.

‘Strength. Endurance. To survive, my ancestors had to put up with more than I ever could. Much more’ – Dana

In the lucid moments in the present day (1976) Dana and her husband frantically search for a link between her past and Rufus’s. Their research leads them to believe there is in fact a biological connection of some sort between Dana and Rufus but how?

‘I was the worse possible guardian for him – a black to watch over him in a society that considered blacks subhuman. A woman to watch over him in a society that considered women perennial children’

This is a powerful novel. It is intelligent and generates deep thought. The hierarchy of slavery and violence is fully explored.
I shall leave some of the thought-provoking quotes I noted below. 5*

‘I never realised how easily people could be trained to accept slavery’ – Dana

‘There was no shame in raping a black woman, but there could be shame in loving one’

‘It was so easy to advise other people to live with their pain’ – Dana

‘I had no enforceable rights. None at all’ – Dana

OEB
Octavia E. Butler
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Summer Of Secrets by @nikola_scott 5* #NewRelease #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #ww2Fiction @headlinepg #SummerOfSecrets

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Summer Of Secrets by Nikola Scott
Review Copy
Synopsis:

August 1939
At peaceful Summerhill, orphaned Maddy hides from the world and the rumours of war. Then her adored sister Georgina returns from a long trip with a new friend, the handsome Victor. Maddy fears that Victor is not all he seems, but she has no idea just what kind of danger has come into their lives…

Today
Chloe is newly pregnant. This should be a joyful time, but she is fearful for the future, despite her husband’s devotion. When chance takes her to Summerhill, she’s drawn into the mystery of what happened there decades before. And the past reaches out to touch her in ways that could change everything…

My Review:

I was a huge fan of My Mother’s Shadow the authors debut novel. So, I couldn’t wait to read Summer Of Secrets, I was also delighted to discover is had a narrative set in the ww2 era. I am a huge ww2 fiction fan and it is my favourite era within the historical fiction genre. So, I was excited to visit Summerhill.

The novel opens with 16yr old Maddy awaiting the return of her sister Georgie from a six-month trip around Europe. Only when Georgie returns she doesn’t return alone.
The sisters live with their Aunt Marjorie at Summerhill. Their father survived The Great war, only to perish off the cliffs at Hangman’s Bluff, nearby.
A death Maddy has never overcome.

In the present day narrative Chloe is a young woman, at the start of what should be a beautiful life. She is newly married and just found out she is pregnant. But instead of being filled with excitement and hope. She is filled with dread, anxiety and fear. Her husband Dr Aidan MacAllister is dominant and controlling. When Chloe is offered the chance of some work, photographing a recluse children’s author, Aidan insists it is a bad idea.

‘No wife of mine will ever have to work’ – Aidan MacAllister

Maddy is adjusting to life at Summerhill with the presence of her sister and six friends. She is introduced to the group and Georgie’s new ‘beau’ Victor Deverill. But there is something about Victor she just can’t trust.
Maddy and Georgie live out a socialite, bohemian existence at Summerhill. There lives are filled with parties and cocktails. Much to the annoyance to Aunt Marjorie who is obsessed with the onset of ww2.

‘That war is coming and Summerhill needs a plan’

Despite Aidan’s explicit instructions, Chloe takes the job. Keeping her pregnancy, a secret and filled with angst, she heads to Summerhill to photograph the reclusive Madeline.
Whilst there she uncovers they have a shared history of being orphans and have both known emotional turmoil.
It is the start of a beautiful friendship, one they both need so very much.
Maddy and Georgie continue their idyllic lifestyle. But for Maddy the situation changes when she stumbles upon a hiding pilot William in the potting shed. She promises to keep his secret and hide him in safety for a few days. But with the growing friendship, he forces Maddy to face up to the death of her father she witnessed at just 10yrs old.

‘You know, most women would give anything to have this life’ – Aidan MacAllister

Chloe continues to feel more and more pressure from Aidan. Who it seems will only be content with complete ownership of Chloe. But it is then we uncover that Chloe, as another person close to her heart. Her little brother Danny. Danny was born with Friedreitch’s ataxia, a neurological disorder. Which means his level of care needs are high and his prognosis is further loss of bodily functions/mobility.

‘Chloe didn’t see the big wheelchair or the immobile form inside; just the little boy she’d raised and loved and would never let fall’

Maddy continues to attempt to navigate the various personalities now at Summerhill. She finds this exhausting and her connection to her sister suddenly being lost amongst the noise. When Maddy has an unsavoury encounter with Victor.
Then Georgie makes a shock announcement.

‘I still had no idea what was wrong with Victor Deverill’ – Maddy

The author weaves a beautiful story between the narratives of the modern day and 1939. The setting and location adds the glamour, mystery and beauty of Cornwall. Whilst the characters pack the emotional punch. This is an emotional story of the bond between siblings. A bond that can last a lifetime. 5*

NS
Nikola Scott
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My review & Q&A for My Mother’s Shadow – (Nikola’s debut novel)
HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY NIKOLA 🙂  

Anne Bonny #BookReview Crime Scene by Jonathan & Jesse Kellerman @JesseKellerman #CrimeFiction @headlinepg @bookbridgr ‘The novel covers the theme of redemption and a person’s moral obligation to right their wrongs…..’

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Crime Scene by Jonathan & Jesse Kellermen
Review copy
Synopsis:

Natural causes or foul play? That’s the question deputy coroner Clay Edison must answer each time he examines a body. Figuring out motives and chasing down suspects aren’t part of his beat – until a seemingly open-and-shut case proves to be more than meets his highly trained eye.

Eccentric, reclusive Walter Rennert lies cold at the bottom of his stairs. At first glance the scene looks straightforward: a once-respected psychology professor done in by booze and a bad heart. But his daughter Tatiana insists that he has been murdered, and she persuades Clay to take a closer look at the grim facts of Rennert’s life.

When Clay learns that Rennert’s colleague died in a nearly identical manner, he becomes even more determined to discover the truth behind the man’s death. The twisting trail Clay follows will lead him into the darkest corners of the human soul.

It’s his job to listen to the tales told by the dead. But this time, he’s part of a story that makes his blood run cold.

My Review:

I really enjoyed this novel focused around a deputy coroner. It reminded me of my teens watching episodes of Quincy. I think the angle of the protagonist being a coroner, worked incredibly well. Although there are multiple references of death and methods of dying obviously.

‘When I meet new people, they’re usually dead’

The novel opens with Deputy Coroner Clay Edison called to the scene of a dead body. The victim is 18yr old Seth Lindley Powell, it is unclear at first how he died, and this gives you a whole new respect for coroners and pathologists. The work they do, to get results for the family.

‘There are an infinite number of ways to die but only five manners of death. Homicide, suicide, natural, accidental and undetermined’

Seth’s death involved multiple factors, was he drinking? Did he fall? Was he pushed? Eventually it is ruled an accident. But it is still on Edison’s mind 5yrs later when he is called back to the same town.

‘My job begins with the dead but continues with the living’

Edison is called to the residence of Dr Walter Rennert a 75yr old retired psychologist. His daughter Tatiana is at the scene and found the body. She is adamant it is not an accident and a case of murder. Edison gives her time, respect and most importantly listens to her story. He then continues to evaluate the scene.

The scene suggests an accidental fall, but on further search the team discover a bottle of Risperidone (anti-psychotic) only 5 days old and prescribed by a different doctor to Rennert’s usual physician. Why is a psychologist administering anti-psychotics to himself, when he knows the impact of the medication with his heart problems? Something about the medications presence unnerves Edison and leads him to investigate further. . .

‘A lying doctor; the echo of a fall; a murderer walking the streets’

The case of Walter Rennert’s death is extremely complex and goes deep into his past and career. Specifically, a study the doctor organised on the theme of media violence on the developing brain. Which led to the murder of a young student Donna Zhao.
The young man convicted of the murder seemed to fit the ‘perfect’ police profile.

‘Most mentally ill people – the vast statistical majority – weren’t violent’

How does Walter’s fall down the stairs relate to the conviction of Julian E Triplett? Where is Julian? Why are the doctors involved in the study so secretive?

The novel covers the theme of redemption and a person’s moral obligation to right their wrongs. It is a stark insight into the American justice system. 4*

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Jonathan Kellerman
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Jesse Kellerman
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