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

cover
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 Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer 5* Genius #LiteraryFiction @headlinepg @KelRimmerWrites

cover
Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer
Review Copy
Synopsis ~

Your sister or her baby. Who do you choose?

A moving page-turner with a heart-pounding dilemma. Fans of Jodi Picoult and Jojo Moyes will love Kelly Rimmer.

As children, Lexie and Annie were incredibly close. Bonded by the death of their beloved father, they weathered the storms of life together. When Lexie leaves home to follow her dream, Annie is forced to turn to her leather-bound journal as the only place she can confide her deepest secrets and fears…

As adults, sisters Lexie and Annie could not be more different. Lexie is a successful doctor and happily engaged. Annie is an addict – a thief, a liar and unable to remain clean. When Annie’s new-born baby is in danger of being placed in foster care, Annie picks up the phone to beg her sister for help. Will Lexie agree to take in her young niece? And how will Annie survive, losing the only thing in her life worth living for?

My Review ~

Before I let You Go, is another novel that is emotional and hard hitting, that I have read recently. It covers the theme of sisterhood and also the darker theme of drug addiction. It is so much more literary than you would guess from the cover of the novel.

The title opens with older sister Lexie receiving a call at 2am. She instantly knows WHO the call will be from. The distant drug addicted sister she hasn’t spoken to in 2yrs. But nothing can prepare her for what is about to be revealed. . .
‘You have to help me – I think I’m dying’ – Annie

With those few words, Annie comes railroading back into Lexie’s neat and perfect little life.
Lexie is a GP, she has worked very hard to drag herself up from her lonely start to adult life. With a dead father and no real mother figure Lexie has done her best to raise Annie until she could no longer manage life at their home, in the ‘community’.

Annie is a down on her luck drug addict and by that; I mean this girl has had one hell of a rough life. She was 12yrs old when Lexie left the community to pursue her own education and career in medicine. With Annie not able to escape until a few years later.
The sisters haven’t spoken since Annie’s theft nearly got Lexie fired from her medical practice.

The sister’s relationship is better explored in the novel. But it is incredibly deep; and I found myself moved to tears numerous times. I am the oldest of eight siblings, I am the oldest girl and when my mum died in 2005. I felt an overwhelming urge to mother my siblings especially my sister’s; much to their delight, I am sure.

Lexie arrives at the trailer park in the dead of night with her fellow doctor partner Sam in tow. She is horrified at the sight of her sister who more resembles a pregnant corpse than a live human being.
‘I’m not seeing my sister – I’m seeing a wasteland after war’

That being said the novel does go on to humanise the impact of drug addiction and especially on the expectant mother and new-born baby. The medical/legal details are fully explained to the reader. As we read on in shock and also largely in hope.
I have never rooted for a character as much as I rooted for these sisters and the unborn baby.

Personally, I am lucky enough to have never had to watch someone I love, go through the sheer hell of drug addiction. Something I felt very lucky for, as I read on. It also became quite clear, how it is based more upon luck and life experiences; than personal choice and disregard for one’s own health.
I think this novel should be made available in all schools/colleges and university settings. It is also perfect for book groups.

An incredible novel and I am HUGELY impressed with this author. 5* Genius
‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
Do you know how loved you are?
In the morning.
In the night.
I’ll love you with all my might.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star. . .’

KR
Kelly Rimmer
Twitter

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead 4.5* #Historical #LiteraryReads #NickelBoys

TNB_Time Cover Quote

TNB
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
My Own Copy ~ Hardback

Synopsis ~

Elwood Curtis has taken the words of Dr Martin Luther King to heart: he is as good as anyone. Abandoned by his parents, brought up by his loving, strict and clearsighted grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But given the time and the place, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy his future, and so Elwood arrives at The Nickel Academy, which claims to provide ‘physical, intellectual and moral training’ which will equip its inmates to become ‘honorable and honest men’.

In reality, the Nickel Academy is a chamber of horrors, where physical, emotional and sexual abuse is rife, where corrupt officials and tradesmen do a brisk trade in supplies intended for the school, and where any boy who resists is likely to disappear ‘out back’. Stunned to find himself in this vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr King’s ringing assertion, ‘Throw us in jail, and we will still love you.’ But Elwood’s fellow inmate and new friend Turner thinks Elwood is naive and worse; the world is crooked, and the only way to survive is to emulate the cruelty and cynicism of their oppressors.

The tension between Elwood’s idealism and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision which will have decades-long repercussions.

Based on the history of a real reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped and destroyed the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative by a great American novelist whose work is essential to understanding the current reality of the United States.

My Review ~

Publication day for the long awaited new Colson Whitehead novel, finally arrived!
The Nickel Boys is an emotive and thought provoking title. The novel is loosely based around a real life true case of systemic abuse at a borstal type facility in 1960s America. Whilst the novel deals with themes of physical/emotional/sexual abuse, it does so in a sensitive manner. Only using scenes of violence to portray the fear within the boys and the complete and utter control their abusers have over them.

The novel is set in 1960s America the fight for civil rights is a backstory within the boys lives. But unfortunately equal rights will not come quick enough for Elwood and Turner. The boys come from very differing backgrounds, although both have known the emotional pain of abandonment and loss. Despite their different out looks on life, they instantly bond at the Nickel Academy. Their friendship will be the only saving grace during their time of detainment.

How do you follow-up a title as powerful as The Underground Railroad? How do you ever emulate a title that has had such global appeal and massive success?
Colson Whitehead has picked a real life part of history and used it to display how institutional racism gives way to abuse and even murder.
Life at the Nickel Academy is one of brutalisation, humiliation and loss of power for the boys detained there. How anyone can ever conceive that this environment would enable young men to make the changes they need, one can never truly know.
What the boys need is love, acceptance and a chance to learn. But there is NONE of that at the Nickel Academy.

I haven’t included any quotes in this review, as the title is only 208 pages. I raced through them at breakneck speed. leaving no time for note taking. Colson Whitehead has an exceptional way with words and there were many opportunities to quote moving passages.

The Nickel Boys is a hard-hitting title which is perfect for book groups, debate and discussion. I have a feeling it will stay with readers for a long time after the closing pages are finally turned!

Literary food for the soul, heart and the brain. 4.5*

CW
Colson Whitehead
Website
Twitter
Check out the authors website for news on the TV adaption of The Underground railroad and also for links to the real-life case behind The Nickel Boys.

TNB_Guardian

TNB_NikeshShukla_i

 

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview Something To Live For by @richardroper 5* #NewRelease #LiteraryFiction @orionbooks #FeelGoodFiction #FindYourSomething

cover
Something To Live For by Richard Roper
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

Sometimes you have to risk everything to find your something…

All Andrew wants is to be normal. He has the perfect wife and 2.4 children waiting at home for him after a long day. At least, that’s what he’s told people.

The truth is, his life isn’t exactly as people think and his little white lie is about to catch up with him.

Because in all Andrew’s efforts to fit in, he’s forgotten one important thing: how to really live. And maybe, it’s about time for him to start.

Your favourite authors have all got Something to Live For…

My Review ~

‘Andrew looked at the coffin and tried to remember who was inside’

Our protagonist Andrew, has a job working with the local council. His primary role is to locate the family of deceased residents and organise ‘paupers’ funerals. Something which is explained in much better detail than I could do it justice.
Andrew is 42yrs old, as we begin to read we learn he has been at the department for 5yrs. His boss, Cameron Yates puts him in charge of showing their new employee Peggy Green how to perform various roles and this is when Andrew’s life begins to change.

There is a flashback scene to 5yrs previously and we learn how Andrew came to spin the yarn that is ‘a wife and 2 children’. His ‘wife’ Diane and two kids Steph and David, simply don’t exist. But there is a whole story to their lives.
I actually found Andrew’s story quite heart-warming. He’s just a man desperate to fit in and in his ambition to seem ‘normal’ accidentally ends up having to follow a lie for five whole years!!!!!

‘I just wanted to feel normal’

We also learn of Andrew’s family background. His parents are long gone and within the story, he receives some shocking news about his free-spirit sister Sally too. Andrew really is a man with no such luck!

‘Have you ever imagined your own funeral?’

Something To Live For is the perfect novel for fans of Rowan Coleman’s The Summer Of Impossible Things Also for fans of Mike Gayle’s The Man I Think I Know with a dash of Adrian Mole. An easy feel-good read, I raced through the pages. 5*

‘I spend half my life daydreaming about what I’d be doing with myself If I wasn’t stuck where I was…’ 

RR
Richard Roper
Website
Twitter

tour_poster2

tour_poster1

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview The River by Peter Heller 4* #NewRelease #LiteraryFiction #Mystery @wnbooks #Survival #Canada

cover
The River by Peter Heller
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

Two friends
Wynn and Jack have been best friends since their first day of college, brought together by their shared love of books and the great outdoors.

The adventure of a lifetime
When they decide to take time off university and canoe down the Maskwa River in northern Canada, they anticipate the ultimate wilderness experience.
No phones.
No fellow travellers.
No way of going back.

A hellish ride
But as a raging wildfire starts to make its way towards them, their expedition becomes a desperate race for survival. And when a man suddenly appears, claiming his wife has vanished, the fight against nature’s destructive power becomes entangled with a much deadlier game of cat and mouse.

My Review ~

‘The only tracks in the mud of the portages were wolf and moose, otter, bear’

The prologue warns us of a local forest fire. The opening within this title is at times difficult, with the intensity of the story and the descriptive writing. But once Wynn and Jack’s Backstory is revealed it does become a much easier read. Their childhood and family relationships are explored and we come to understand what drives them to want to be alone in the wilderness.

‘There should be two paddles, a man and a woman’
On their trek down river they come across a man (Pierre) alone. He talks of a missing wife named Maia, but she is nowhere to be seen. Wynn and Jack are torn as what to do, they are not only battling natures elements but the elements of great danger with a forest fire quickly spreading. They decide to venture back to the couples camp and assess the situation from there. On the journey back, 10 days of provisions are lost and things don’t look any brighter when they arrive at the couple’s camp, to find Maia, a victim of a violent attack.

Who did this to Maia? Was this a bear attack? A domestic violence incident?
Who can Wynn and Jack trust? 

‘It’s a death sentence’ 

The remote location really adds to the sense of despair and isolation from assistance. There are various scenarios for Pierre and Maia’s plight, scenarios both Wynn and Jack attempt to understand. The hunger, exposure or the elements and exhaustion seeps from the pages. I really felt as though I was on the river, in a kayak, with the characters.
I raced through the pages in less than 3hrs, a perfect Saturday afternoon read! 4*

PH
Peter Heller
GoodReads

baner