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Monday, 31 August 2020

#MusicMonday TENNESSEE WHISKY by CHRIS STAPLETON feat Justin Timberlake

 


Happy Monday! Time for choons thanks to this weekly tag hosted by Drew over at The Tattooed Book Geek that gives you the chance to share a favourite song or video with the world!

I'm going country this week with this live performance of Tennessee Whisky by Chris Stapleton - with a little help from Justin Timberlake!



Used to spend my nights out in a barroom
Liquor was the only love I've known
But you rescued me from reachin' for the bottom
And brought me back from being too far gone
You're as smooth as Tennessee whiskey
You're as sweet as strawberry wine
You're as warm as a glass of brandy
And honey, I stay stoned on your love all the time
I've looked for love in all the same old places
Found the bottom of a bottle's always dry
But when you poured out your heart I didn't waste it
'Cause there's nothing like your love to get me high
You're as smooth as Tennessee whiskey
You're as sweet as strawberry wine
You're as warm as a glass of brandy
And honey, I stay stoned on your love all the time
You're as smooth as Tennessee whiskey
You're as sweet as strawberry wine
You're as warm as a glass of brandy
And honey, I stay stoned on your love all the time
You're as smooth as Tennessee whiskey
Tennessee whiskey
Tennessee whiskey
You're as smooth as Tennessee whiskey
Tennessee whiskey
Tennessee whiskey
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Linda H Bartholomew / Dean Dillon
Tennessee Whiskey lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group


Saturday, 29 August 2020

#BookReview THE LAST GIANTS by LEVISON WOOD #20BooksOfSummer20

 


ABOUT THE BOOK

This book comes at a critical time. Fifty years ago, Africa was home to just over 1.3 million elephants, but by 1990 the number had halved. Meanwhile in the span of a lifetime, the human population has more than doubled.

In Levison Wood's The Last Giants, he explores the rapid decline of one of the world's favourite animals. Filled with stories from his own time spent travelling with elephants in Africa, the book is a passionate wake-up call for this endangered species we take for granted. The Last Giants was written to inspire us all to act - to learn more and help save the species from permanent extinction.

PUBLISHED BY HODDER & STOUGHTON



MY REVIEW


This is book 20 of my 20 Books of Summer 2o20.

This was an illuminating but horrifying insight into the plight of elephants, that accompanied the tv series hosted by the author. The TV show made a big impact on my understanding of these magnificent animals, but seeing it written down made it hit home even harder.

From the destruction of their habitats, to the ivory trade and hunting, this book really does a wonderful job of giving you a clearer picture of just how drastically their numbers have fallen and how some humans are trying to help despite many humans trying to hinder the welfare of elephants with their illegal activity.

There is also a great use of stunning photographs in this book. A fascinating read about these beautiful creatures.

★★★★★

#BookReview FISHBOWL by BRADLEY SOMER #20BooksOfSummer2020

 


ABOUT THE BOOK

At turns funny and heartbreaking, a goldfish named Ian escapes from his bowl and, plummeting toward the street below, witnesses the lives of the Seville on Roxy residents.

A goldfish named Ian is falling from the 27th-floor balcony on which his fishbowl sits. He's longed for adventure, so when the opportunity arises, he escapes from his bowl, clears the balcony railing and finds himself airborne. Plummeting toward the street below, Ian witnesses the lives of the Seville on Roxy residents.

There's the handsome grad student, his girlfriend, and the other woman; the construction worker who feels trapped by a secret; the building's super who feels invisible and alone; the pregnant woman on bed rest who craves a forbidden ice cream sandwich; the shut-in for whom dirty talk, and quiche, are a way of life; and home-schooled Herman, a boy who thinks he can travel through time. Though they share time and space, they have something even more important in common: each faces a decision that will affect the course of their lives. Within the walls of the Seville are stories of love, new life, and death, of facing the ugly truth of who one has been and the beautiful truth of who one can become.

Sometimes taking a risk is the only way to move forward with our lives. As Ian the goldfish knows, "An entire life devoted to a fishbowl will make one die an old fish with not one adventure had."

PUBISHED BY ST MARTIN'S PRESS



MY REVIEW

This is book 19 of my 20 books of summer 2020.

Yes I have just read a book about a goldfish - Ian! - falling from the top of a building and absolutely adored it!! I was a little unsure when I picked it up but I was intrigued and am so glad I read it as it was just one of those books that I got completely absorbed by.

There's an amazing cast of characters and you get to see their lives as events unfold around 'that' day and see what has led up to the point of Ian plummeting through the sky! There's a huge nod to the act of 'fate' - being in the right place at the right time - and the coincidences that link people and being in the right place at the right/wrong time!

Ian is the star of the show, obviously, and he's a happy little goldfish! His short term memory helps with that! He doesn't dwell, he doesn't ponder - a lesson to us all I'm sure! We all need to be more Ian!! And as we see his story unfold, we get introduced to the residents of the apartment block and how their varied lives are unfolding - the dramas, the fears, the highs and lows. It is human life in all its' many forms! I loved these little glimpses into such a wide cross section of people - showing life in all the various guises and for many it isn't pretty! From the introverted Claire, the pregnant Petunia, Garth with his secret life,Herman the boy being home schooled after being bullied, Jimenez the maintenance man, Connor the owner of Ian, about to be visited by Katie who is trying to work out how serious their relationship is - to name but a few, I just loved the mix of personalities and stories they all had to tell... and that Ian got to glimpse as he sailed past their windows!

This was a light and dark read, snappy, edgy and a very funny book!! A treat to read!
 

★★★★★

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up - 29th August 2020

 


Happy Saturday!! Another crazy week has flown by and it seems that Summer is now over by the weather we've had these past few days! It was nice while it lasted I guess!

On the book front I've found myself a little distracted this past week and haven't been as engaged with reading or the bookish community as much as I would have liked so hope it's just a temporary blip!  I have managed to finish 2 books so it wasn't a complete washout and there has been some lovely bookmail for me to enjoy! The bookshelves are creaking under the weight of books again!!

Here's my look back at the past 7 days....

BOOKS FINISHED

New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun by Chris Penhall - 5 stars

 - 




BOOKHAUL

Nothing from Netgalley!!! Wahoo!!

Some lovely books arrived for review from lovely publishers!

THE MEMORY OF SOULS by JENN LYONS
published by Tor Books
WHAT IF YOU'RE THE ONE WHO HAS TO DIE?

Now that the city of Atrine has been destroyed and Relos Var's plan to free the dark god Vol Karoth has been revealed—the end of the world is closer than ever.

To buy time for humanity, Kihrin, Janel, and Thurvishar must convince the king of the Manol vané to perform an ancient ritual that will strip the vané of their immortality—a ritual that certain vané will do anything to prevent. Including assassinating the ones bringing the news.

Worse, Kihrin must come to terms with the horrifying possibility that his connection to Vol Karoth is steadily growing in strength. How can Kihrin hope to save anyone when he might turn out to be the greatest threat of them all?


A Chorus of Dragons series
The Ruin of Kings
The Name of All Things
The Memory of Souls

 And 2 lovely books from Gallic Books, ahead of their release in November 2020.

THE WOMAN OF THE WOLF by RENEE VIVIEN

A woman rides crocodiles like horses. A queen gives up her throne for her dignity. And Prince Charming is not who you might think . . .

The Woman of the Wolf and Other Stories, written in 1904, is perhaps the finest work by sapphic poet Renée Vivien. Blending myth, fairy story and biblical tale, Vivien creates powerful portraits of strong women who stand up for what they believe in – and of the aggrieved men who trail behind them.

Bold, defiant and suffused with a unique poetic voice, this scintillating collection of short stories offers a radical alternative to traditional lore.

THREE RIVAL SISTERS by MARIE-LOUISE GAGNEUR

Much acclaimed amongst her contemporaries and yet all but forgotten today, Marie-Louise Gagneur was a defining voice in French feminism. These stories, translated into English for the first time, critique the restrictions of late nineteenth-century society and explore the ways in which both men and women are hurt by rigid attitudes towards marriage.

In ‘An Atonement’, the Count de Montbarrey awakes one morning to find his wife dead, leaving him free to marry the woman he really loves. Could the Count have accidentally killed his wife? And how can he atone for his crime?

‘Three Rival Sisters’ tells the story of the rivalry between Henriette, Renée and Gabrielle as they compete for the affections of one man. But marriage does not necessarily guarantee happiness, as the sisters are about to find out.

Steeped in wit, empathy and biting social criticism, and with echoes of Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Kate Chopin, these stories show Gagneur to be worthy of renewed attention.


And I've managed to treat myself this month too, with 2 beauties arriving from Goldsboro Books


EIGHT DETECTIVES by ALEX PAVESI

All murder mysteries follow a simple set of rules. Grant McAllister, an author of crime fiction and professor of mathematics, once sat down and worked them all out.

But that was thirty years ago. Now he's living a life of seclusion on a quiet Mediterranean island - until Julia Hart, a sharp, ambitious editor, knocks on his door. His early work is being republished and together the two of them must revisit those old stories: an author, hiding from his past, and an editor, keen to understand it.

But as she reads, Julia is unsettled to realise that there are things in the stories that don't make sense. Intricate clues that seem to reference a real murder, one that's remained unsolved for thirty years.

Julia realises she's unwittingly entered a battle of wits where there can only be one winner. But Grant will soon realise that he underestimates her at his peril...

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY by MATT HAIG

'Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices... Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?'

A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig's enchanting novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

CURRENTLY READING

THE UNWINDING by JACKIE MORRIS







Tuesday, 25 August 2020

#GuestPost NEW BEGINNINGS AT THE LITTLE HOUSE IN THE SUN by CHRIS PENHALL #PublicationDay @RubyFiction @ChrisPenhall

 


It's Publication Day for NEW BEGINNINGS AT THE LITTLE HOUSE IN THE SUN so I'm delighted to be hosting CHRIS PENHALL on the Blog today as she shares some thoughts on her new release! I've shared my review on the blog today so go grab your copy and enjoy the exploits of Alice as she starts her new life in Portugal! 

Right, over to you Chris...... 

 New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun by Chris Penhall

New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun is the sequel to my debut novel, The House That Alice Built, which won the Choc Lit Search for a Star Competition in 2019.

The first book follows Alice, who, having escaped to Cascais in Portugal for a while, has to face up to the thing that she was running away from – the prospect of selling her beloved house in London as her ex wants the money to start a new business.

New Beginnings picks up the story as she begins her new life in Portugal, full of excitement and dreams for the future with Luis, the man she fell in love with, and many friends to help her along the way. However, as we all know, the road to true happiness has many a dead end along the way, plus a few trips and falls, and surprises from the past present challenges Alice wasn’t expecting at all.

So, the question is, will she find her dream life in the sun, or will she want to run back to London and hide once again?

As in the first novel, there’s plenty of sun and laughter, the return of old friends – Kathy, Ignacio and Carlos – plus we meet one or two new ones too. And there’s some unexpected temptation for Alice, Portuguese tile painting, karaoke, Mary’s dodgy tea and more time spent in Lisbon. The yellow Rolls Royce also has an important role to play, as well.

I wrote both books as I had lived in Cascais in Portugal many years ago with my family and I fell in love with the place. I now spend a lot of time in Lagos in the Algarve, so the country has made a huge impression on me and that is reflected in the stories.

I revisited Lisbon for the first time in 15 years last November, and I really felt like I had come home. And when we took a day trip to Cascais it was as if I hadn’t left. As I walked to the square, where Alice spends a lot of her time, I was worried it would have changed. But it was the same. There was also an unexpected surprise – an old friend who had left many years before and we thought we’d never see again had returned to work there. He waved at us, we waved back, hugged, had a chat over a coffee and I realised that what I had written about in The House That Alice Built really was a reflection of how life is there, and not just out of my fevered imagination.

We went off exploring then came back to the square for another coffee. This time there was a busker playing next to the statue of Luis de Camoes, and as we sat down I said to a waiter that we only wanted a drink, to which he responded – “What more could you want – music, wine, love!”

Oh, Cascais, how I had missed you!

And so, when I came home to the UK and carried on writing New Beginnings, I wanted to reflect that in how Alice felt when she got off the plane at Lisbon airport after spending a few months in London sorting out her house.

This time, she begins to explore Lisbon more and ventures over the Tagus south across the River Sado. On our visit to the city in November, we visited Time Out – the food court opposite Cais de Sodre station – quite a few times, found ourselves in a restaurant in Santos which is an area I had never visited before, ambled along the Tagus at dusk, and revisited Casa De Alentejo. We also took a trip to the Museum of Fado, and ate quite a few pasteis de natas. Needless to say there’s a hint of all of those experiences in the novel.

I was supposed to revisit Lisbon in May, but that’s been put on hold. But when I do get to go back, my first stop will be at the bar along the river where all the chairs face west so you can have a drink and watch the sun set over the Ponte 25 de Abril – the bridge over the Tagus. Sigh ...


ABOUT THE BOOK

Follow your yellow brick road ....


Alice Dorothy Matthews is on the road to paradise! She’s sold her house in London, got rid of her nasty ex and arranged her move to Portugal where friendship and romance awaits. All that’s left to do is find a place to call home.


But Alice’s dreams are called into question when complications with friends, work and new relationships make her Portuguese paradise feel far too much like reality.
Will Alice’s dream of a new home in the sun come true?


SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChrisPenhall 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChrisPenhallWriter/ 

Website: http://www.chrispenhall.co.uk/



Buying links:

 Kindle: https://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Beginnings-Little-House-Sun-ebook/dp/B08CY3FQ7X/ 

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/new-beginnings-at-the-little-house-in-the-sun 

Apple Books : https://books.apple.com/nz/book/new-beginnings-at-the-little-house-in-the-sun/id1523474220

#BookReview NEW BEGINNINGS AT THE LITTLE HOUSE IN THE SUN by CHRIS PENHALL #PublicationDay @RubyFiction

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Follow your yellow brick road ....

Alice Dorothy Matthews is on the road to paradise! She’s sold her house in London, got rid of her nasty ex and arranged her move to Portugal where friendship and romance awaits. All that’s left to do is find a place to call home.

But Alice’s dreams are called into question when complications with friends, work and new relationships make her Portuguese paradise feel far too much like reality.

Will Alice’s dream of a new home in the sun come true?


PUBLISHED BY RUBY FICTION

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Beginnings-Little-House-Sun-ebook/dp/B08CY3FQ7X/

 

 

 

 

 

Website: https://www.rubyfiction.com/dd-product/new-beginnings-at-the-little-house-in-the-sun/




MY REVIEW


It's always good to reconnect with characters that you enjoyed reading about in a previous book, so it was wonderful to go back to see how Alice is getting on with her big move to Portugal and it didn't disappoint! It really centres around the doubts that play in her mind - yep, that inner voice that we all have in our head that tells us we've done the wrong thing, or we should have done things differently - and Alice is no different and there's an awful lot for her to take on board in this book.


From finding somewhere to live and invest her money, to taking on more business wise and to dealing with new arrivals in the life of Luis, her boyfriend, life seems to be throwing a million things her way so there seems little chance of her getting the slower pace of life she always dreamed of when she was back in England.  But she's not one to turn down new business opportunities and grabs chances when they come calling!


What I love about Alice is her determination! Despite constant knockbacks and her dream properties seemingly being snatched away from her at the last minute, she never gives up hope of finding the perfect place for her new life to continue.  And there's always her mum on the end of the phone to give her the best advice and Aphrodite the cat to give her companionship!


With a million things all happening at once, you just want her to find her happy with Luis and get the stability she craves!  And I'm just hoping we'll be getting more from Alice and her Portugese life in the not too distant future!  Enjoyable and heart warming!!




★★★★★

Monday, 24 August 2020

#BookReview A SECRET SISTERHOOD by EMILY MIDORIKAWA & EMMA CLAIRE SWEENEY #20BooksOfSummer20

 


ABOUT THE BOOK

A Secret Sisterhood uncovers the hidden literary friendships of the world’s most respected female authors.

Drawing on letters and diaries, some of which have never been published before, this book will reveal Jane Austen’s bond with a family servant, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp; how Charlotte Brontë was inspired by the daring feminist Mary Taylor; the transatlantic relationship between George Eliot and the author
of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe; and the underlying erotic charge that lit the friendship of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield – a pair too often dismissed as bitter foes.

In their first book together, Midorikawa and Sweeney resurrect these literary collaborations, which were sometimes illicit, scandalous and volatile; sometimes supportive, radical or inspiring; but always, until now, tantalisingly consigned to the shadows.

PUBLISHED BY AURUM PRESS


MY REVIEW

This was book 18 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

An illuminating and absorbing look at some of the literary world and the friendships forged between some of the leading women writers over the years. Written by 2 female authors whose own friendships led to them looking at how other female writers have become close over the years, I found this to be so informative and insightful and made me learn so much more about these well known women.

From Jane Austen to Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot to Virginia Woolf this book gives a nod to the world these women found themselves living in, and how they connected with fellow authors at the same time. It also gives the reader an idea of the struggles they faced both personally and also in the world of books as women writers were often dismissed quite quickly.

This book brought to my attention just how little I really knew about some of these women - their paths to writing and their family backgrounds with many of their home lives being far from idyll. But their determination and belief in their writing carried them through, along with the friendships they struck up along the way with other women writers facing the same issues.

Some of the friendships may have seem unlikely from the outside, but I think their writing bought them together and the shared admiration for the writing they produced was clear to see from correspondence shared between them. There is also a lovely use of photos and personal effects in this book which really added a personal touch to the stories.

Highly recommended.

★★★★

#MusicMonday REACHING OUT TO YOU - Snow Patrol & The Saturday Songwriters

 


Monday means music! Thanks to Drew over at The Tattooed Book Geek who hosts this weekly chance to share a favourite song or video - come join in the fun!

This week I've chosen Snow Patrol again but with a difference! Throughout lockdown, Gary Lightbody started hosting a weekly songrwiting community via his Instagram and I have to say it was the highlight of my week! We'd all come together on a Saturday evening, picking chords, throwing lyrics his way and after an hour he'd create a song!  This carried on for 11 or so weeks and was just brilliant to be part of! And what is even more amazing is that now some of the songs we all created have been put out as an EP to raise funds for The Trussell Trust. The EP is out now so if you want a copy click here.

This video was made by a fan that just sums up the saturday evening process and it is so much fun to watch back!


God I wish that you could see me See my soul and my desire Yeah I wish that you could hear me Through the sound of all these fires If it feels like I could hate you 'Cause the silence can't be hacked Know I'm screaming out forever Please come back, come back, come back All of those nights before this They're not like nights ahead It's like there's space between us Of things that won't need said Words like, "God I miss you" For I'm still reaching out to you Through these deranged horizons The things we always knew What the Hell are we still doing In the shadows of the night? Let the light and all the grace you have Just obliterate me right Know the last time that I saw you Is not the last page of the book Yeah maybe I can hear the thunder But all I need is just one look All of those nights before this They're not like nights ahead Inside there's space between us Of things that won't need said Words like, "God I miss you" For I'm still reaching out to you Through these deranged horizons The things we always knew Afraid to fall without you, so I'll wait Sweetest of my sins, the world create Holding onto love and hope you do[?] I see it in your eyes, the memories Love me like no other history Holding onto love and hope you do[?] [Instrumental Break] All of those nights before this They're not like nights ahead Inside there's space between us Of things that won't need said Words like, "God I miss you" For I'm still reaching out to you Through these deranged horizons The things we always knew Through these deranged horizons I'm still reaching out to you


Saturday, 22 August 2020

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up - 22nd August 2020

 


Hello! Happy Saturday! August is flying by and the world is still a screw up! What a time to be alive!!

But there's always books to make our lives happier, and it's been another great bookish week for me with another 4 books finished, a new arrival by post and the netgalley shelves have been added to as well!! All is right with the bookish world again at least!!

Here is my look back!!

BOOKS FINISHED










BOOKHAUL

Starting over at Netgalley...

MAGIC LESSONS by ALICE HOFFMAN

In an unforgettable novel that traces a centuries-old curse to its source, beloved author Alice Hoffman unveils the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem, and matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men featured in Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic.

Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson: Always love someone who will love you back.

When Maria is abandoned by the man who has declared his love for her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters.

Magic Lessons is a celebration of life and love and a showcase of Alice Hoffman’s masterful storytelling.


And a copy of Orfeia arrived ahead of the Blog Tour next month...

ORFEIA by JOANNE M HARRIS

When you can find me an acre of land,
Every sage grows merry in time,
Between the ocean and the sand
Then will you be united again.
(Inspired by The Child Ballads 2 & 19)

So begins a beautiful and tragic quest as a heartbroken mother sets out to save her lost daughter, through the realms of the real, of dream, and even into the underworld itself.

But determination alone is not enough. For to save something precious, she must give up something precious, be it a song, a memory, or herfreedom itself . . .

Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.


CURRENTLY READING


#BlogTour THE BIRD IN THE BAMBOO CAGE by HAZEL GAYNOR #BookReview #TheBirdintheBambooCage @HazelGaynor @HarperFiction @RandomTTours

An absolute delight to be here with you today for the Blog Tour for THE BIRD IN THE BAMBOO CAGE by HAZEL GAYNOR. My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours  for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all

ABOUT THE BOOK


 'Beautiful … warm, loveable characters who had me rooting for them all the way' Tracy Rees

 'An absolute treat' Liz Nugent


 China, 1941. With Japan’s declaration of war on the Allies, Elspeth Kent’s future changes forever. When soldiers take control of the missionary school where she teaches, comfortable security is replaced by rationing, uncertainty and fear.

 Ten-year-old Nancy Plummer has always felt safe at Chefoo School. Now the enemy, separated indefinitely from anxious parents, the children must turn to their teachers – to Miss Kent and her new Girl Guide patrol especially – for help. But worse is to come when the pupils and teachers are sent to a distant internment camp. Unimaginable hardship, impossible choices and danger lie ahead. 

Inspired by true events, this is the unforgettable story of the life-changing bonds formed between a young girl and her teacher, in a remote corner of a terrible war.

 ‘Moving and authentic’ Dinah Jefferies 

‘Vivid, heart-rending and so, so beautiful’ Jenny Ashcroft

PUBLISHED BY HARPER COLLINS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

Hive.co.uk

Blackwell's


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today, and Irish Times, bestselling author of historical fiction, including her debut THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER'S DAUGHTER was shortlisted for the 2019 HWA Gold Crown award. She is published in thirteen languages and nineteen countries. Hazel is co-founder of creative writing events, The Inspiration Project, and currently lives in Ireland with her family, though originally from Yorkshire.


MY REVIEW

Wow!! This is a book that I find myself unable to stop thinking about since finishing it. 

It's a historical story told from 2 viewpoints - one of a child, one of a teacher - living through extraordinary times in China during the Second World War and the impact that has on their school when it is taken over by the Japanese. Seeing how it impacts  on people of different ages was a fascinating insight on how we all deal with traumatic events differently - how our thought processes work when faced with an extreme situation and how we can often appear to put on a brave face but when we're alone it's a different story. And that dilemma is what faces Elspeth, the teacher, as she tries to remain stoic in front of the children she is in charge of, whilst facing her own heartache and despair at the situation unfolding around her.

Elspeth works at a missionary school in China, where Nancy is a pupil.  The girls and teachers become family as they spend so much time together, and the teachers become surrogate parents to the girls who are away from their own families for such a long time. But their calm and secure little school is soon to become a scary place when Japanese soldiers come in and take over, and they all soon find themselves sent off to camp, fearful of what conditions and treatment they are all to face.

What I loved about the different viewpoints was how they had different ways of looking at their experiences - the teachers would be very cynical and see things for how they actually were, whilst the children would block out the worst and come up with nicknames for the soldiers. They would just be kids! But what brought them all together is their shared hope in the smallest things around them - the sight of a sunflower seed growing amidst the chaos would begin to mean so much to them all.

Despite the awful conditions they often found themselves facing, what I admired most was their resilience. The fact that they never gave up hope that things would get better for all of them.  And the fact that life carried on whilst they were there - the teachers would hope to distract the girls with different lessons, whilst also helping them through changing times both in the world and in their own bodies.

The treatment  by the soldiers was often horrific and graphic and just shows what kind of things everyone had to endure and really brought home how brave these prisoners were.  It was the little moments of hope, friendship and determination that made them stronger and united them all in a way that few of us could imagine. They say the worst of times brings out the best in some people and that is so true for these teachers and pupils.

An emotional and stunning story.  Highly recommended!!


★★★★★