Addition: Netgalley review e-book
Genre: Historical fiction
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

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.

I received this book from Netgalley to write an honest review – thank you so much for letting me read this novel, Rachel Hore is one of my favourite authors!

This book is set in Paris during two very different times – the Second World War, and the early 1960s. We discover the truth about Kitty, her time in Paris and the life she hid from her daughter Fay. Both women fall in love with the city, and both fall in love whilst they are visiting. Kitty makes her life there with Eugene and they have Fay there. However, war breaks out and Paris becomes occupied. It isn’t safe for long there and this story follows the hard decisions Kitty has to make to protect her family – and then the decision to keep the truth from Fay. Fay, visiting Paris as part of an orchestra is struck by how much of the city she remembers, even though she is sure she has never been there. This week-long visit will be extremely life changing for her.

I really enjoy Hore’s novels. I am yet to find out I don’t like! And it is the same with this book. I found the first few chapters a bit slow, but once I was further into the story I was captivated. I read large chunks in one go. This isn’t a fast read, but it is really enjoyable. I love historical books, and ones that jump around generations – like this one does. We weren’t always reading about the war, we were regularly transported to the ’60s, were we watched life for Fay change during her short time in Paris. The story kept me hooked. I found I needed to know what happened – what was going to happen to Kitty and Fay?!

As I read, I kept changing my mind about Kitty – during the war I liked her, but I didn’t really like her in the ’60s! I didn’t like how she hid this story and her opinion on Sister Theresa. I did like Fay. She was forgiving and kind – she cared about what she saw around her and I liked that. I’m still undecided about my opinion of Eugene. He was a man consumed by work and then by his secret role in the war, it didn’t seem like he put his family first.

This is quite an emotional book. I have a toddler, who is the same age as Fay was during the war, and I kept thinking how awful and hard it must have been to keep family safe. I don’t want to give away the story, but I found my heart breaking in places at the thought of what went on.

There is a lot of historical content in this book. Paris’ role under German leadership is explained well. Eugene was American, and it was shown how for some of the war he was safe because America had yet to join in the fighting. The threat of death, the aerial bombings and the town of Vittel were all mentioned and explained. Hore seems to have taken the time to make this accurate and show the readers just what life was like in both the war and in the early ’60s.

I really enjoyed this book. I did find the beginning slow, and I thought the end was a bit rushed too. I do have some unanswered questions, however, this was a great read. I was drawn in, caught by the story, moved by the characters and events, and find myself still thinking about the book now. Rachel Hore has written another fabulous book. I cannot wait for her next novel! I rate this book 4 out of 5 – this is a must read book!

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Book 44 was a Netgalley review book – A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore. I love Hore, she is one of my favourite authors, so I was very excited to be reviewing this book!

I really enjoyed this book. I found the beginning of the book a little slow but once I got past the first few chapters I was hooked. I did not want to put this book down! We follow life in wartime Paris – the horrors everyone had to face and the bravery shown by many. This is such a good book!

Addition: Netgalley review e-book
Genre: Historical fiction
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Are you like me…do you have more than one book on the go? For me, the breakdown is simple: What I am reading and What I have started but not picked up in a while:

What I Am Reading

Radical Growth
Havilah Cunnington

The pathway to the radical growth you’re wanting is not complex. It’s not some unattainable, envy-provoking vision or dream meant to torment you with its impossibility. However – let’s be honest, no one has a vibrant life by accident. No one has a flourishing garden unintentionally. Simply put, vibrant living looks like a life grown on purpose. With clear understanding of God’s heart toward you, a commitment to 100 % obedient, and and unrelenting determination to follow truth, radical growth is possible. It’s a life that’s within your reach! This practical guidebook will give you daily access to being your own journey of living a radical and vibrant life!

This is a devotional series too, and you can join in by watching the videos here. This is the promo video for it:

74 Seaside Avenue
Debbie Macomber
Library book

Dear Reader, I’m living a life I couldn’t even have “dreamed” of a few years ago. I’m married to Bobby Polgar now (you know, the famous chess champion who just happens to be the man I love ). And we’ve got this beautiful house with a view of Puget Sound.

But lately something’s been worrying Bobby. When I asked, he said he was “protecting his queen”–and I got the oddest feeling he wasn’t talking about chess but about “me.” He wouldn’t say anything else.

Do you remember Get Nailed, the beauty salon in Cedar Cove? I still work there. I’ll tell you about my friend Rachel, who’s got two men interested in her (count ’em, “two”). And I’ll let you in on what I’ve heard about Linnette McAfee, who left town when her love life fell apart. (“That” kind of trouble I know all about.) Come in soon for a manicure and a chat, okay?

Teri (Miller) Polgar

Notes From A Small Island
Bill Bryson
Paperback – off my Mount TBR pile

“Suddenly, in the space of a moment, I realized what it was that I loved about Britain-which is to say, all of it.”

After nearly two decades spent on British soil, Bill Bryson-bestsellingauthor of The Mother Tongue and Made in America-decided to returnto the United States. (“I had recently read,” Bryson writes, “that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another,so it was clear that my people needed me.”) But before departing, he set out ona grand farewell tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home.

Veering from the ludicrous to the endearing and back again, Notes from a Small Island is a delightfully irreverent jaunt around the unparalleled floating nation that has produced zebra crossings, Shakespeare, Twiggie Winkie’s Farm, and places with names like Farleigh Wallop and Titsey. The result is an uproarious social commentary that conveys the true glory of Britain, from the satiric pen of an unapologetic Anglophile.

A Week in Paris
Rachel Hore
Netgalley review e-book

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.

What I have started but not picked up in a while

All Quiet on the Western Front
Erich Maria Remarque
Paperback

Jesus, Meet Him Again…For the First Time
Paul Smith
Paperback

The Approval Fix
Joyce Meyer
Netgalley review e-book

What are you currently reading?

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Addition: E-book
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
Synopsis:

The new novel from bestselling author Rachel Hore, much loved for her stories in which past and present are grippingly entwined.When Emily Gordon, editor at a London publishing house, commissions an account of great English novelist Hugh Morton, she finds herself steering a tricky path between Morton’s formidable widow, Jacqueline, who’s determined to protect his secrets, and the biographer, charming and ambitious Joel Richards. But someone is sending Emily mysterious missives about Hugh Morton’s past and she discovers a buried story that simply has to be told…

One winter’s day in 1948, nineteen year old Isabel Barber arrives at her Aunt Penelope’s house in Earl’s Court having run away from home to follow her star. A chance meeting with an East European refugee poet leads to a job with his publisher, McKinnon & Holt, and a fascinating career beckons. But when she develops a close editorial relationship with charismatic young debut novelist Hugh Morton and the professional becomes passionately personal, not only are all her plans put to flight, but she finds herself in a struggle for her very survival.

Rachel Hore’s intriguing and suspenseful new novel magnificently evokes the milieux of London publishing past and present and connects the very different worlds of two young women, Emily and Isabel, who through their individual quests for truth, love and happiness become inextricably linked.

I loved this book. I have really enjoyed all of Rachel Hore‘s books; each of them has been highly rated. I lost my reading bug a few months ago as I have recently given birth and I was too tired and busy to read. This is the first book in a while that has captured my attention and made me long for a few minutes to myself so I can read a couple more pages.

The story follows Emily and Isabel, two women moving in the world of publishing, but many years apart. Emily is given the opportunity to oversee the publishing of a new biography of the famous author Hugh Morton. She is quickly sucked into his world, and the world of Isabel, as someone keeps leaving her extracts from Isabel’s diary. Emily is determined to see Isabel’s story told – the girl who ran away from home and entered publishing by chance. Here she fell in love with Hugh but marriage changed her. What ever became of her? And could Emily get past Hugh’s widow to let the story of Hugh’s first wife out?

I am a huge fan of Rachel Hore and get very excited every time a new novel is released. I like that she is an author who isn’t churning out more than one novel a year and that her books don’t seem samey after a while. She has a similar style to Kate Morton, another author I love reading. Hore’s books are not quite as long though! I find Hore’s novels draw me in and immediately I want to sit and read the whole thing in one go (and I would of done, if I didn’t have a baby and husband to look after!)

I instantly liked Emily and did find myself envying her job – she gets to read books all the time! I loved getting a glimpse into the world of publishing; hardcore but a lot of fun discovering now authors and talents. I found myself liking Isabel a lot too and really empathising with her throughout the novel. She had to face a lot – finding a job in a world that didn’t think women should be educated, falling in love with an older man and competing with a woman who was in love with her husband. Not only that, but she had to face post-natal depression; an illness not recognised back in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I thought all of this was dealt with very well by Hore. She addressed the issue in a sensitive manner but didn’t hide how hard it must be to suffer so soon after giving birth.

This was a well told story. Hore moves between the present day and the past seamlessly and I always knew where in the story I was. She writes really well. I often find when I am reading that the grammar in many books is appealing – things such as sentence structure are simply shocking. However, I didn’t find that with Hore. The writing drew me in, it didn’t distract me and annoy me. I loved the fact this novel isn’t “chick-lit”. It is well written fiction, with a historical twist and a romance. There is much more to the book than the latest love affair. We see life in the 1950’s; we see what the publishing world might be like then and now and we see two strong, independent women striving through life and being a success.

I have rated this book 5 out of 5 because I loved it. I loved how well it was written; I loved the story lines and the characters; but most of all I loved that this is the first book I have wanted to read in a long time and it is the book that has returned my reading bug. For me, this is easily a top rated book.

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THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!

Addition: Paperback from the library

Genre: Historal Fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

Photographer Lucy Cardwell has recently lost her troubled father, Tom. While sifting through his papers, she finds he’d been researching an uncle she never knew he’d had. Intrigued, she visits her father’s childhood home, the once beautiful Carlyon Manor. She meets an old woman named Beatrice who has an extraordinary story to tell …Growing up in the 1930s, Beatrice plays with the children of Carlyon Manor – especially pretty, blonde Angelina Wincanton, Lucy’s grandmother. Then, one summer at the age of fifteen, she falls in love with a young visitor to the town: Rafe Ashton, whom she rescues from a storm-tossed sea. But the dark clouds of war are gathering, and Beatrice, Rafe, and the Wincantons will all be swept up in the cataclysm of events that follow. Beatrice’s story is a powerful tale of courage and betrayal, spanning from Cornwall to London, and Occupied France, in which friendship and love are tested, and the ramifications reach down the generations. And, as Lucy listens to the tales of the past, she learns a secret that will change everything she has ever known…

Rachel Hore is one of my favourite authors and I was very excited to read this – and although I enjoyed it a lot, I don’t think this is her best work. The story is told from two viewpoints: Beatrice, an elderly lady with a surprising history, and Lucy, a twenty-something searching for answers. After Lucy’s grandmother died her Dad found some things about his past out and decided, without giving a reason, to divorce her Mum. After he dies, Lucy finds out he has discovered something about a man called Rafe. On a trip to Cornwall, she finds a lady who knows all about Rafe, and Lucy’s Dad Tom. Most of the book is told by Beatrice, who tells tales of her childhood spent with Lucy’s Grandmother, her adventures in the war, her history with Rafe, and ultimately about Tom.

I liked Beatrice. She is written as a warm girl, who suffers a far amount in her life. I wasn’t completely convinced by all of her story – mainly by her experiences in the war – how she happened to join the same spy group as Rafe and how she managed to escape. Lucy doesn’t feature too highly in this story, although again there were things she did I wasn’t convinced someone would do – such as going out on a boat with someone she has just met. But these things aside, this is a good read. I was gripped. I wanted to know who Rafe was, I wanted to know about Beatrice and what happened to her and I wanted to know about Angelina Wincanton – Lucy’s grandmother. By the end I had worked out who Rafe was, and who Tom was, but that didn’t spoil the story.

This is a well written book. It looks at life in the war, from two sides: the rich – Angelina going out dancing, messing with boys hearts, having coming-out parties and being spoilt; and the poor – Beatrice working hard for the war effort, falling in love and falling pregnant and the death of a fiancee. We spend time in occupied France, war-battered London and Cornwall. There were parts of the story that broke my heart and the whole thing kept me gripped.

I enjoy Rachel Hore’s books. I enjoyed this book. This is well worth reading! This is good quality historical fiction.

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REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Addition: Library paperback

Genre: Historical mystery, female fiction

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

The night before it all begins, Jude has the dream again…

Can dreams be passed down through families? As a child Jude suffered a recurrent nightmare: running through a dark forest, crying for her mother. Now her six-year-old niece, Summer, is having the same dream, and Jude is frightened for her.

A successful auctioneer, Jude is struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband. When she’s asked to value a collection of scientific instruments and manuscripts belonging to Anthony Wickham, a lonely 18th-century astronomer, she leaps at the chance to escape London for the untamed beauty of Norfolk, where she grew up.

As Jude untangles Wickham’s tragic story, she discovers threatening links to the present. What have Summer’s nightmares to do with Starbrough folly, the eerie crumbling tower in the woods from which Wickham and his adopted daughter Esther once viewed the night sky? With the help of Euan, a local naturalist, Jude searches for answers in the wild, haunting splendour of the Norfolk forests. Dare she leave behind the sadness in her own life and learn to love again?

This is a historical mystery that haunts one family, that is laced with a love story. Jude works for a prestigious auctioneer company in London. Things are looking bad for the company since the recession hit – that is until she receives a call from the Starbrough residence in Norfolk. They have a library which has many first additions and some historic star gazing equipment. Jude doesn’t know what to expect when she arrives in Norfolk – her old home. What she finds is an old folly, a niece having the same nightmares she used to have a family mystery and a lovely man…

I really enjoyed this book. It was not a quick read, but it was well worth reading. This is a book that encompasses the past and the present, love, history, astrology, travellers and family. The main focus of the book is the mystery. Jude is at Starbrough to look through and catalogue Anthony Wickham’s library collection, however, very early on she comes across a diary, not kept by Anthony, but his adopted daughter Esther. There are no records of Esther in the family archives – who was she? Where did she come from and what happened to her? Are the suspicions right – is she a girl from a noble background? If so, how did she end up lost at the side of the road in Norfolk, aged three? There are so many questions for Jude to answer. She roams around the countryside, hunting for clues – is there another diary? I really enjoyed this story line. Hore includes sections from Esther’s diary in the story – taking us back to her life – adding another dimension to the story.

Alongside this, Jude is still trying to recover from the death of her husband, her Gran has given her a necklace that belonged to her traveller friend, and wants Jude to find the friend to return the necklace and Jude is struggling with her sister Claire and the fact Claire’s daughter Summer is having the same nightmares that Jude used to have. What is the connection? Why is Summer having those dreams too? The most exciting part of the book was the climax at the end – Summer goes missing. Her dream leads her to the old folly – the building where Anthony Wickham used to star gaze. It is unsafe, possibly haunted and scares Summer. Yet she sleep walks there. It turns out, she is going to try and save Esther – who was locked up there after her father died – even though Esther lived in the 1800s. What is the connection between Esther and Summer?

All is revealed at the end – loose ends tied up and questions answered. Maybe the connections were too predictable and unrealistic, but I liked it! The ending is very neat – the family line that runs down to Summer and the Lord who happened to be working with the Jude’s auctioneer company. However, all answers were satisfying, and I enjoyed the way Hore wrapped the book up.

This is a complex book with many story lines, all linked fascinating. There is a love story – we get to see Jude’s broken heart healed by Euan – even though there was confusion about which sister he was falling for. Again, this romance is fairly predictable, but it was lovely anyway, and didn’t take over the story. It was a nice story that completed the book.

I thought all the characters were great to read about. I felt for Jude – finding it hard to relate to her sister, struggling with love and working hard to solve the Wickham mystery and get a great sale for her company. I really liked Chantel as well – the mother who lived at Starbrough Hall. She was caring, and loved the library – a great reason for me to like her!

This is a complex, exciting book. It has mystery, suspense and romance. This is the second book by Rachel Hore that I have read and I have really enjoyed both. She is fast becoming a favourite author and I highly recommend this book.

This book is the first novel I have read in the Mystery and Suspense Challenge. It classes as a historical mystery and well worth reading 🙂

 

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Synopsis:

Magical Cornwall, a lost garden, a love story from long ago…
Lamorna Cove – a tiny bay in Cornwall, picturesque, unspoilt. A hundred years ago it was the haunt of a colony of artists. Today, Mel Pentreath hopes it is a place where she can escape the pain of her mother’s death and a broken love affair, and gradually put her life back together.

Renting a cottage in the enchanting but overgrown grounds of Merryn Hall, Mel embraces her new surroundings and offers to help her landlord, Patrick Winterton, restore the garden. Soon she is daring to believe her life can be rebuilt. Then Patrick finds some old paintings in an attic, and as he and Mel investigate the identity of the artist, they are drawn into an extraordinary tale of illicit passion and thwarted ambition from a century ago, a tale that resonates in their own lives. But how long can Mel’s idyll last before reality breaks in and everything is threatened?

Shifting imperceptibly from one generation to another, The Memory Garden vividly evokes the lives of two women, born a century apart, but who face the same challenges to their happiness and survival.

I loved this novel ♥ This is the first Rachel Hore novel that I have read, and I am so glad I bought this book. I have already leant it out to others and reserved another book at the library by Hore. This is a beautiful novel set in rural Cornwall, full of history, love, secrets and flowers. The book follows Mel as she hides away in a secluded cottage under the pretence of writing a book about local artists, but really mending her broken heart. The man she has rented the cottage from, Patrick, is also suffering from a break-up, once where she won’t go away. They strike up a friendship over the garden, pulling it up and discovering new secrets of the old house Patrick lives in. Mel investigates the life of this mysterious artist, and in the process re-builds her own life.

This is just a stunning book that I can’t rate highly enough. While reading this I was reminded of both The Forgotten Garden and The Secret Garden. This book is a cross between the two, and as I loved both of them, this did not let me down. It is a simple story line: girl moves to Cornwall, discovers an old secret about a love affair, and falls in love herself, but I think the simplicity of the book is one of the things that makes it special. Along with the descriptions of both the bay where artists painted and the grounds and gardens of Merryn Hall, this was just beautiful.

This book did jump back to the past so we could learn about this secret artist – Polly, a maid, and her love affair. I enjoyed these sections – seeing how life can change for one girl, and what love can do to you. The history seemed accurate enough and I liked how the reader was given a glimpse into the time when the house was at its most majestic and that the reader was allowed to get to know Polly and the events surrounding her life.

There were some fantastic characters in the book, to go along with the great storyline and wonderful descriptions. I liked both Mel and Polly. I found myself empathising with them and wanting to know what was going to happen. I loved the people in the quiet town of Lamorna Cove that Mel meets. They were believable characters and people I would like to know! My favourite character was probably John the head gardener when Polly was at Merryn Hall though. Although we didn’t see a lot of him, he was strong and silent and as the novel unfolds his good nature comes through and he plays a very important role in what happens to Merryn Hall and its residents.

This was not a fast read, but very enjoyable. Like I said, I have been recommending this novel and lending my copy out because I really enjoyed it. It was a great read and for those who like woman’s books and historical novels, this is well worth reading. Top marks from me, I can’t recommend it enough.

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