Anne Bonny #BookReview The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott @CScottBooks 4* #NewRelease #Historical #Fiction #Literary @simonschusterUK @WmMorrowBooks

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The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott
Review Copy
Synopsis ~

1921. The Great War is over and families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He was declared ‘missing, believed killed’ during the war, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph in the post, taken by Francis, hope flares. And so she begins to search.

Francis’s brother, Harry, is also searching. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, he has returned to the Western Front. As Harry travels through battle-scarred France, gathering news for British wives and mothers, he longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last conversation they ever had.

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they begin to get closer to a startling truth.

An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history, The Photographer of the Lost tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins, and the even greater number of men and women desperate to find them again.

Caroline Scott is a freelance writer and historian specializing in WWI and women’s history. The Photographer of the Lost is partially inspired by her family history.

My Review ~

As Previously stated on my blog, I am a huge fan of ww2 fiction and fiction around The Great War. My husband is a military veteran of 15yrs service (airborne Para) and I have various family members that have served. My great-grandfather committed suicide after The Great War and it is only know at 36yrs old I fully understand the horror of that conflict. There is also a monument in Belgium to my Great-Uncle my grandmother’s favourite uncle. Which I nor anyone in my family has visited (unfortunately).
So the moment I read the synopsis for this title, it grabbed my interest.

‘A small matter of a war rather got I n the way’ 

The prologue opens in Lancashire (my home town shire) May 1921 when Edie receives a letter from France. a photo of her husband Francis. Bu how can this be? Francis has been missing presumed dead for 4 yrs.

The novel then details Harry (Francis’s brother) in the years 1921 and the past since 1915. You have to pay attention to not muddle the timelines and brothers up.
Harry’s job is to visit the various special hospitals and locate the graves of the perished. It is his hope that providing the family members with images of the burial site or monuments it may bring them some peace/closure or heal there grief.

The novel also covers the spiritualists and psychics that are out to make a fast buck. spinning stories of the ‘souls of lost men’. I found this quite disturbing. But on the other hand you really feel for Edie and her sense of emptiness, mourning and emotional pain as she searches for her lost love. Are these scammers taking advantage or are they attempting to offer comfort to the grieving?

The relationship of the brother’s and the potential love triangle that it causes is first and foremost the running mystery. Does Harry want Edie for himself? Will Edie now turn to Harry, now all hope is lost with Francis? Is all hope lost with Francis? or is he alive?

The novel details the tortured minds of the soldiers of The Great War. It is a beautiful novel, with a stunning cover and exceptional writing. Slightly reminiscent of the writing of Patrick Gale in A Place Called Winter.
I highly recommend this title, it would make the perfect Christmas gift, also for book groups and simply to treat yourself. I only wish I had got round to writing this review earlier because it would have made a poignant gift to mark remembrance day. 4* 🌟🌟🌟🌟

CS
Caroline Scott
Twitter
*At time of posting the Hardback book was available at just £7 on Amazon*

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Lost Child by Emily Gunnis 4* #DualTimeline #Historical #NewRelease @headlinepg @EmilyGunnis

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The Lost Child by Emily Gunnis
Amazon Vine arc
Synopsis ~

A tragic death. A missing baby. A long-kept secret…

1960. Thirteen-year-old Rebecca lives in fear of her father’s temper. As a storm batters Seaview Cottage one night, she hears a visitor at the door and a violent argument ensues. By the time the police arrive, Rebecca’s parents are dead and the visitor has fled. No one believes Rebecca heard a stranger downstairs…

2014. Iris, a journalist, is sent to cover the story of a new mother on the run with her desperately ill baby. But fatefully the trail leads to the childhood home of Iris’s own mother, Rebecca…Seaview Cottage.
As Iris races to unravel what happened the night Rebecca’s parents were killed, it’s time for Seaview Cottage to give up its secrets.

My Review ~

*The kindle version of this title is currently just 99p in the UK and you can add the audible (narrated by Emilia Fox) for just £4.99.*

The Lost Child is a complex novel set between 1960 and 2014. The characters are detailed and all have individual depth and background stories. The title open in November 1960 with Rebecca Waterhouse (a young child) in an interview room with unsympathetic police officer DI Gibbs. Rebecca is a witness to her paranoid fathers regular violent beatings of her mother. Rebecca feels alone in the world, if it wasn’t for her close friend Harvey Roberts.
Rebecca’s father’s story is explored and although he can be a violent and ruthless man. His decent into paranoia via battle neurosis is eye-opening.

The novel then jumps forward to November 2014 and Harvey’s daughter Jessie has recently given birth. Jessie is estranged from her birth mother and is struggling with the recent grief of the loss of her step-mother 2yrs ago. The deep grief resulted in Jessie being diagnosed depressed and medicated. When she gives birth, the hormones and emotional trauma will result in panic and irrational fear taking control…

‘Why doesn’t she like me? why isn’t she feeding?

When Jessie flees the hospital with new-born baby in tow. This results in an emergency situation. For unbeknown to Jessie, the baby has an untreated infection, without medication the child may not survive.

In the flashbacks to the past we learn of Harriet and Jacob Waterhouse, their married life together and Jacob’s return from war. The novel really explores the theme of returning military personnel from the battlefield to home and hopefully relative safety. The ease at which a person can develop an alcohol problem and excuse short tempered/violent or jealous behaviours is laid bare.

‘The old Jacob had died on the beaches of Normandy and was never coming home to her’

Alternatively Jessie’s plight becomes a major news story. And Iris as a journalist begins digging into her past. Will what Iris uncovers bring peace to them all? Can Iris track down Jessie’s whereabouts in time to save the baby?
Past and present entwine to reveal a captivating story. 4*

EG
Emily Gunnis
Twitter

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Wartime Midwives by Daisy Styles #ww2Fiction #HistoricalFiction #Mystery #ww2 #Saga

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The Wartime Midwives by Daisy Styles
Review Copy ~ Paperback

Synopsis ~

In the dark days of war a new hope is born . . .
1939.

Mary Vale, a grand and imposing Mother & Baby Home, sits on the edge of the Lake District. Its doors are open to unmarried women who come to hide their condition and find sanctuary.

Women from all walks of life pass through Mary Vale, from beautiful waitress Emily, whose boyfriend has vanished without trace, to young Isla, cast out by her wealthy family after her first year at university goes horribly wrong.

Awaiting them is Nurse Ada and Sister Anne who work tirelessly to aid the mothers and safely deliver the babies. But the unforgiving Matron and Head of Governors, Captain Percival, have other, more sinister, ideas.

As war looms the women at Mary Vale must pull together for the sake of themselves and their babies and Ada and Anne must help protect their patients, no matter what the cost.

My Review ~

‘The place regularly echoes with the cries of heartbroken mothers unable to keep their babies’

With The Wartime Midwives, we are introduced to the wartime unwed mother’s homes and the truly awful way women were treated in the era. There are a wealth of characters within the story. From the girls themselves, to the women on staff and the dark forces at work behind the scenes. As a reader you also begin to understand that the reasons for unwanted pregnancy is not always down to the loose morals of the female but complex issues such as lack of education/access to contraception or in the worst cases… rape.

‘It seemed ridiculous that in 1939 a young woman could be ignorant of the facts of life’

There are various social/economical/financial issues that impact the women’s ability to care for or raise their children. Which class tier you identified with, usually indicated the amount of options available to you…

‘Working class I may be, but I certainly know how to love and nurture a baby’

The sheer emotional power of shame is laid bear for all to see. I really felt for each of the women and wanted to reach through the pages (and the years) to offer some support.
A perfect title for modern day women to read, to gain some insight into the lives of 1940s women. Perfect for fans of Call The Midwife. 4* 

Anne Bonny Top 5 #TravelWithBooks pick from the TBR pile @natashasolomons @thesailorsgirl @brazil_thriller @C_E_Lawrence @DominickGDonald @WindmillBooks @HarperCollinsUK @unbounders @amazonpublishing @HodderBooks

house of gold - Vienna
House Of Gold by Natasha Solomons ~ Location = Vienna
Available in HB/Ebook/PB
Synopsis ~

The start of a war. The end of a dynasty.

VIENNA, 1911. Greta Goldbaum has always dreamed of being free to choose her own life’s path, but the Goldbaum family, one of the wealthiest in the world, has different expectations. United across Europe, Goldbaum men are bankers, while Goldbaum women marry Goldbaum men to produce Goldbaum children.

So when Greta is sent to England to marry Albert, a distant cousin she has never met, the two form an instant dislike for one another. Defiant and lonely, Greta longs for a connection and a place to call her own. When Albert’s mother gives Greta a garden, things begin to change.

But just as she begins to taste an unexpected happiness, the Great War breaks out, threatening to tear everything away. For the first time in two hundred years, the family will find themselves on opposing sides. How will Greta choose between the family she’s created and the one she was forced to leave behind?

Black mamba boy - Africa
Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed ~ Location = Africa 
Available in PB/Ebook
Synopsis ~

Named as one of the GRANTA BEST OF YOUNG BRITISH NOVELISTS 2013.

For fans of Half of a Yellow Sun, a stunning novel set in 1930s Somalia spanning a decade of war and upheaval, all seen through the eyes of a small boy alone in the world.

Aden,1935; a city vibrant, alive, and full of hidden dangers. And home to Jama, a ten year-old boy. But then his mother dies unexpectedly and he finds himself alone in the world.

Jama is forced home to his native Somalia, the land of his nomadic ancestors. War is on the horizon and the fascist Italian forces who control parts of east Africa are preparing for battle. Yet Jama cannot rest until he discovers whether his father, who has been absent from his life since he was a baby, is alive somewhere.

And so begins an epic journey which will take Jama north through Djibouti, war-torn Eritrea and Sudan, to Egypt. And from there, aboard a ship transporting Jewish refugees just released from German concentration camp, across the seas to Britain and freedom.

This story of one boy’s long walk to freedom is also the story of how the Second World War affected Africa and its people; a story of displacement and family.

the burning hill - Brazil
The Burning Hill by A.D Flint ~ Location = Brazil
Available in PB/Ebook
Synopsis ~

On the run from unjust court-martial back home, a young British soldier gets robbed and shot on Copacabana Beach. The bullet in Jake’s head should have been fatal, but miraculously, it saves him from a previously undetected condition that soon would have killed him.

Jake doesn’t believe in fate, nor does he feel he owes anything to anybody, but he does hate injustice. Vilson, the teenage favela kid who fired the bullet, is a victim of injustice, in a corner with a corrupt cop and a sadistic drug-lord after his blood.

With a turf war erupting in Vilson’s favela, fear stalks every narrow alleyway, and anyone dragged up to the notorious Burning Hill had better hope they’re dead before they get there. But it’s not just fear that shapes life in the favela, belief is also powerful, able to both save and destroy.

The Burning Hill is about the power of belief and one man’s desire for justice at any cost.

Edinburgh twilight - Scotland
Edinburgh Twilight by Carole Lawrence ~ Location = Scotland
Available in PB/Ebook/Audible & on Kindle Unlimited
Synopsis ~

As a new century approaches, Edinburgh is a city divided. The wealthy residents of New Town live in comfort, while Old Town’s cobblestone streets are clotted with criminals, prostitution, and poverty.

Detective Inspector Ian Hamilton is no stranger to Edinburgh’s darkest crimes. Scarred by the mysterious fire that killed his parents, he faces his toughest case yet when a young man is found strangled in Holyrood Park.

With little evidence aside from a strange playing card found on the body, Hamilton engages the help of his aunt, a gifted photographer, and George Pearson, a librarian with a shared interest in the criminal mind. But the body count is rising. As newspapers spin tales of the “Holyrood Strangler,” panic sets in across the city. And with each victim, the murderer is getting closer to Hamilton, the one man who dares to stop him.

breathe - London
Breathe by Dominick Donald ~ Location =London
Available in HB/Ebook/Audible/PB
Synopsis ~

A stunning debut crime novel for fans of Robert Harris, Philip Kerr and C.J. Sansom’s Dominion.

London, 1952. Dick Bourton is not like the other probationer policemen in Notting Hill. He’s older, having fought in Europe and then Korea. And he’s no Londoner, being from Cotswold farming stock. Then there’s Anna, the exotically beautiful White Russian fiancée he has brought back to these drab streets and empty bombsites. She may as well come from a different planet.

The new copper also has a mind of his own. After an older colleague is shot by a small-time gangster they are chasing in a pea-souper fog, something nags at Bourton’s memory. He begins to make connections which his superiors don’t want to see, linking a whole series of deaths and the fogs that stop the city in its tracks.

Desperate to prove himself and his theories, Bourton fails to notice the fear which his mysterious bride is doing her best to conceal – and overcome.

Soon both Anna and Bourton are taking dangerous paths into the worst fog London has ever known…

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