Books 21-25 in 2015 are:

21.
Erica James – The Dandelion Years
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is one of my favourite types of books, by one of my favourite authors. I really enjoy Erica James novels, and this one was set in both the present day and during WW2. I love books with a dual timeline! This story was interesting, gripping and touching – plus it was set in Bletchley Park, which I found really exciting. My review is HERE.

 

22.
Amanda Hocking – Wake
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is the first book in the Watersong series by Amanda Hocking. I really enjoyed her Trylle series, so had high hopes for this new book. This is young adult, fantasy literature, which I almost always enjoy. This book is darker than Hocking’s Trylle series, and I didn’t enjoy it as much. That said, it wasn’t a boring or bad read – I read this book in two sittings! My review is HERE.

 

23.
Marina Fiorato – The Glassblower of Murano
Rating: 3 out of 5

The Glassblower of Murano is one of those books which has been sitting on my bookcase for a few years, so I added it to my Goodreads Mount TBR Challenge, so I am pleased to report that I have now read it! This is another book which has a dual timeline; present day and the 1600s. I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as I thought I might. I didn’t find the storyline terribly exciting and I wasn’t overly keen on any of the characters. My review is HERE.

24.
Amanda Hocking – Lullaby
Rating – 3 out of 5

This is the second novel in the Watering series by Amanda Hocking. It continues the story of Gemma, and her entanglement with the sirens. Again, this instalment is darker than the first, but as this is a young adult book it doesn’t get too bad! I am enjoying this series. The storyline is gripping, I like the characters and the books are exciting. I have the last two novels to read, and I am looking forward to them.

 

25.
Beth Redman – God Knows My Name
Rating: 5 out of 5

This is the second time I have read this book, and I have loved it each time. Beth Redman looks at our identity in God. She talks about how God knows us, made us, and how we don’t have to feel shame or regret in His presence. This is a great read, full of truth and encouragement about who we are in God, and who God is to us. This is a must-read in my opinion.

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Book number 47 was in fact an audiobook! I wanted to listen to a book whilst I worked hard on making my Mum’s Christmas present so decided to listen to Frank E. Peretti because someone had said to me that Katy Hollway‘s novels are similar to his – and as I enjoy Hollway’s books I thought I would try out Peretti. I am pleased I did, I found this a really enjoyable book to listen too. It was engaging, full of action, with twists and turns. This is not young adult fiction like Hollway but so enjoyable. I have another Peretti book on my shelf which I am looking forward to reading (even though it is MASSIVE!)

Addition: Audiobook
Genre: Christian, fantasy
Published: 1986
Rating: 4 out of 5

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

2014 will mark one hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War. To mark the date, this beautiful anthology will collect favourite extracts, images and poems from some of the UK’s leading cultural, political and literary figures.
     Poems, short stories, personal letters, newspaper articles, scripts, photographs and paintings are just some of the elements of this astonishing collection, with cover and artwork by renowned illustrator, Ian Beck. Among the many contributors are: Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, Sir Andrew Motion, Miranda Hart, Jacqueline Wilson, Anthony Horowitz, Eoin Colfer, Antony Beevor, Emma Thompson, David Almond, Dr Rowan Williams, Richard Curtis, Joanna Lumley, Raymond Briggs, Shami Chakrabarti and Sir Tony Robinson.

I received this book from Netgalley to provide an honest review.

When I saw this book was available on Netgalley, I was excited and desperately wanted to read it. I have really enjoyed Michael Morpurgo books, and I love history books, so to put the two together did excite me! However, this book is not actually written by Morpurgo, it is edited by him, but it is a great read.

This book is aimed at children and it looks back at World War One. This is a collection of poems, stories, memories and pictures from the Great War. They are incidents and people who have influenced well known celebrities today. It is an intimate view of what was an awful time.

I thought this book was put together so well. It is engaging and honest, yet it wasn’t scary or horrific, as it could well have been. The book is sensitively produced and I think children will gain so much from it. I couldn’t put it down, I was drawn in to these stories, these moments in one person’s life.

My only complaint about this book is that it isn’t long enough! I know this is for children so needs to be short, but I think a longer novel for adults should be released too! This is a great read and an excellent glance into history. I am rating it 4 out of 5 because it is well edited, engaging, and a sensitive and different view of the Great War.

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I received this book from Netgalley to provide an honest review.

I like Michael Morpurgo and I like history, so when I saw the two combined, I was quite excited. However, this book isn’t written by Morpurgo, it is edited by him. This is a collection of memories and reflections from celebrities on World War One, as the Great War began 100 years ago. I did really enjoy this read. It was a fascinating look back at the war, and well worth reading.

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

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

England, 1932: Grace Hamblin is growing up in a rural idyll. The beekeeper’s daughter, she knows her place and her future – that is until her father dies and leaves her alone. Alone, that is, except for one man who she just can’t shake from her thoughts…
Massachusetts, 1973: Grace’s daughter Trixie Valentine is in love with an unsuitable boy. He’s wild and romantic, and in a band that might be going somewhere. But when tragedy strikes and he has to go home to England, he promises to come back to Trixie one day, if only she will wait for him.
Both mother and daughter are searching for love and happiness, unaware of the secrets that bind them. To find what they are longing for they must confront the secrets of the past, and unravel the lies told long ago…

I received this book from Netgalley and Simon and Schuster UK Fiction to post an honest review.

I loved this book! I had been jumping between books, trying to find one that kept my attention, and this is the book. I found the beginning of the book, where we focus on Trixie and her new-found love, Jasper, a bit slow, but as soon as we jumped back to 1932 I was hooked and didn’t want to put the book down. I have never read a novel by Santa Montefiore before, but I will certainly be looking out for more books by her.

This story is set in three time periods – the 1930s, the 1970s and the 1990s. I really enjoy a book which moves around in time and focuses on more than one character – and this is just that sort of book. The focus of the book is on a mother and daughter – Grace and Trixie, and the way love can join them in a story neither of them would have imagined. I just loved the way this book was written. There were characters I liked, and one’s I didn’t, I loved the locations and I loved the history.

This is a great story. Grace grows up in a small community as the bee keeper’s daughter. She knows her destiny, and is happy with it. But she falls in love with two men, one far out of her reach and social standing – but war changes everything. After the war, she relocates to America with her husband Freddie, with no explanation. They have Trixie and but life isn’t as happy as it could be. Trixie is a rebellious girl, who likes to fall in love and break the rules. She falls for Jasper, a young English musician, but when he has to return to Britain, her heart is broken. Neither Grace nor Trixie truly recover from their heart break, but it isn’t until much later that they realise how entwined their stories are.

I liked Grace, but I didn’t really like Trixie. Grace was gentle, caring and kind. She loved her father and worked hard. Trixie was headstrong and I found her a bit disrespectful towards her parents. They both made decisions and choices I wasn’t sure about, but that didn’t spoil the book for me. I like it when I can think about decisions, even disagree (I even like disliking characters!), I feel it enhances the book if it doesn’t go the way I expect/would have written it.

There is a lot in this book – love, family, friendship, bee keeping and war, but this is essentially chick-lit at it’s best. I am rating this 4 out of 5 as there were some scenes I found crude and unnecessary but I did enjoy this book so much. As I have said, I didn’t want to put this book down. There were some surprises, some things which made me chuckle, and just a really great story.

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Book 31 was Santa Montefiore’s The Bee Keeper’s Daughter, which I received from Netgalley.

I really enjoyed this book! I thought the beginning was a little slow but once the story took off, I couldn’t put the book down. There were some surprises, some story lines which didn’t come as a shock and some decisions I didn’t agree with, yet I was hooked. I preferred Grace’s story to Trixie’s but I liked how they were linked and I enjoyed moving around in time. This was a really enjoyable book and I hope to read more by Montefiore.

Addition: Netgalley review e-book
Genre: Chick-lit
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Addition: Paperback, library book

Genre: Chick-lit, historical fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

Lovers are torn apart in World War Two and a mother and daughter separated by guilt and shame in a stunning new novel from the author of DANCE WITH WINGS

When the Second World War breaks out, Carrie Chapman rebels against her controlling husband to work at a local hospital. Amidst the chaos of the Bristol blitz, Carrie finds herself falling in love with a young doctor, Dev. Carrie’s willing to defy convention and leave her stifling marriage for Dev, but one summer evening, horrific events change Carrie’s life for ever. Since that night, for forty years, Carrie’s beloved daughter, Gillian, has refused to see or speak to her. Now, someone is digging into the past. Will Carrie break her long silence and, if she does, will Gillian finally be able to forgive?

I picked up this book because Amazon kept putting it into my recommendations – and I was pleased I did pick it! Amazon got it right!

This is the story of Carrie, a girl who before WW1 falls pregnant out of wedlock and has to marry the father Frank. At first it is fine, she thinks she is in love, but when she loses the baby she realises she wasn’t. Frank is demanding and seemingly uncaring and they are not happy together. Carrie doesn’t know what love is until she meets Dev, a doctor at the hospital she works at during WW1. She tells Frank she is leaving him but later that day he has an accident and loses his leg. She is guilt-ridden, convinced it is her fault, so she stays with him. They have Gillian but Frank’s moods get worse over the years, as does his violence towards Carrie. Then one night Frank ends up dead and Carrie goes to prison for it. Gillian goes to live with her aunt Lizzy, Frank’s sister – who turns her against Carrie. Gillian never sees Carrie again, or her sister Andrea. For many years Andrea has been writing to Gillian, trying to persuade her to see Carrie again. Gillian puts the letters away, but they are found by Kathryn, Gillian’s daughter. With troubles of her own, Kathryn decides to go see Carrie. Can she find out what happened to make Gillian hate Carrie so much?

I was immediately drawn into this book. The book I read before, Wicked, was long and drawn out but this book wasn’t like that at all. The story was interesting from page one and I read this quickly because it held my interest. It is a great story, with lots of twists and turns. But the last 50 pages I had worked out what happened but I did have to go through all the other options to get there! This is a big book – over 500 pages, but it read so fast! This book had it all in my opinion. There is love, history, murder and mystery. I really enjoyed this story.

I really liked the characters. I love a book where I am interested in the characters and want to know the outcomes of their lives. I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of Carrie – a woman who went to prison for manslaughter – but I loved her! As an older woman she was kind and caring. She had given up her life to protect someone and was still holding on to that secret. As a young woman she tries to be honest and a good wife to a man who doesn’t love her. I thought Andrea was great. I thought it was brilliant that 40 years on she was still flustered by the man who she had a crush on when she was teenager! I was so disappointed in Frank. He started like a kind gentleman – coming to Carrie’s aid when she had a puncture on her bike down a country lane, and then pursuing her but the longer they were married the more jealous and controlling her became – even before Dev came into the picture. Maybe his attitude was what pushed her towards Dev? It was such a shame that Frank turned into a monster – an angry man who hurt his family.

This book wasn’t written how I was expecting it to be. Most books that jump around in time start each chapters with the date at the top of each chapter but in this book, we are in this year but floating into the past through Carrie’s memories. It is a seamless transition into the past, which doesn’t leave you confused but draws you in.

I’ve rated this 4 out of 5 because I thought this was a fabulous story that was full of life, excitement and mystery. I was guessing most of the way through this book but loved reading how the past unfolded. This is so easy to read and it kept me engaged all the way through. This is a great book!

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THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Addition: Paperback, borrowed

Genre: Young adult, history

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

Joey is a warhorse, but he wasn’t always. Once, he was a farm horse and a gentle boy named Albert was his master. Then World War I came storming through and everything changed. Albert’s father sells Joey to the army where the beautiful, red-bay horse is trained to charge the enemy, drag heavy artillery, and carry wounded soldiers not much older than Albert off of battlefields. Amongst the clamoring of guns and slogging through the cold mud, Joey wonders if the war will ever end. And if it does, will he ever find Albert again?

This is the first book by Michael Morpurgo that I have read. Ladies I work with have seen this at the theatre and loved it, and I thought before I watch the film I will read the book. I have to say, I don’t like horses – they scare me a little bit – but I did enjoy this book, despite that.

The story is narrated by the horse, Joey – which I wasn’t expecting. He tells the reader of his experience at the farm where he is raised by Albert, his experience in France during the war and of the friendships he makes along the way. He sees some awful things in France, a fair amount of death and hurt, but what shines through this book is love – he has people care for him and he develops lovely friendships with many people in the book. He has Albert, the boy who raised him and trained him on the farm; Topthorne, a fellow horse in war with him and Emilie, a little French girl who looks after both him and Topthorne whilst they are camped at her grandfather’s farm. Friendship is the key factor in this book, and it can clearly be seen throughout the book.

This wasn’t a difficult read as it is aimed for young teenagers. The language is simple and it is not a long book – only 182 pages. That said, I did enjoy it and wanted to know what was going happen. This is a good read – it has everything you would want in a book – love, friendship, adventure and gripping story. I don’t think Morpurgo hides the horrors of war. The quote on the back of the book is:

” I saw the grey soldiers ahead of us raise their rifles and heard the death rattle of a machine gun…”

This book does have death and hurt in it, and the effect and reason of war is considered by soldiers and civilians alike. I know this book is read in school and I think the chance to look at war and consider the effects of it is important.

There were some aspects of the books that amused me. I did chuckle about the fact that not only Joey understood English, he also understood German! What a clever horse! Just the fact the story was narrated by the horse entertained me as well!

There were some parts of the story that I didn’t believe. The fact Joey turns up in no-mans land and a German and a Welshman walk out to resolve who will take him I struggled to believe; and Albert finding Joey in France during the war also seemed unrealistic – however, both did make for good reading.

This was an enjoyable and quick read. This is a lovely story of friendship, which a hint of adventure. I’m looking forward to seeing what this is like as film. This book is well worth reading. The good outweighs the bad and I recommend this book.

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