Blog Tour: The Lido

April 19, 2018 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Contemporary

Every now and then I want to read something that is going to fill my heart, and The Lido most certainly did that. So I’m delighted to be today’s stop on The Lido blog tour – and it’s PUBLICATION DAY! So you can now get your hands on this heartwarming novel.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour: The LidoThe Lido by Libby Page
Published by Orion on 19th April 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.

But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat.

As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure. Meanwhile, Rosemary slowly, finally, begins to open up to Kate, transforming them both in ways they never knew possible.

My Summary

When the local council threaten to sell the lido in Brixton to a developer, Rosemary is devastated. She has spent over 80 years of her life swimming in that pool. It’s where she got to know her husband, where they spent many hours together, and where she went for solace after he died two years earlier.

Rosemary won’t let the lido go without a fight and so starts distributing leaflets which grab the attention of the local paper who send one of their journalists, Kate, to meet with the 86-year-old.

Kate is 26 and having moved to London, finds that her life there isn’t what she expected. She lives with strangers and faces a constant battle with panic and anxiety. Her job at the newspaper has been dull until she is given the Brockwell Lido story and meets Rosemary.

The two strike up a friendship and Kate finds that the lido is really as special as Rosemary says. Together they take up the fight to save the pool, and in doing so save one another.

My Thoughts

I love stories of friendships across generations, so I really had high hopes for this book and I’m so pleased to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I loved the characters of both Rosemary and Kate. While we join them in their fight to save the lido, we also go back in time with Rosemary and follow the story of her life with her husband George. I really appreciated the way this dual storytelling worked, eventually merging to the current timeline.

This novel looks at the changing world we live in, where cornerstones of local communities are being lost and replaced by new, often inaccessible to most, accommodations and facilities.  I liked the way that we are introduced to the community along with Kate. We uncover the wonders of the lido as she does, and meet the community that she has until now been oblivious to, along with her.

There’s so much to like in this story and it is wonderfully told. It’s the kind of book that feels like a hug. It’s so easy to read and such a joy to read. It’s an uplifting tale and is perfect for filling your heart with warmth.

My Rosemary!

As part of the tour I’ve been asking who my Rosemary is. I am lucky to have had many wonderful relationships with older people over the years. There’s one lady who stands out to me though; she is one of my favourite people in the world. We get on so well despite our 50 year age gap and I just adore being in her company. I’m not joking when I tell you we’ve been separated at the dinner table before so that we’ll behave!

Who is your Rosemary?

four-stars

Blog Tour: The Goose Road Review & Giveaway

April 5, 2018 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Current Giveaways, Historical Fiction, YA

I’m delighted to be today’s stop on the blog tour for The Goose Road. The book is out today, so you can now get your hands on a copy! Or, be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of this post.

The Goose Road is the debut novel by Rowena House and is being published by Walker to coincide with the centenary of the end of the First World War.

I’m delighted to bring to you an extract from The Goose Road. But before that, I thought I’d share a bit of the synopsis and my own thoughts on the book.

Blog Tour: The Goose Road Review & GiveawayThe Goose Road by Rowena House
Published by Walker on 5th April 2018
Genres: YA, Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars

France 1916. Angélique Lacroix is haymaking when the postman delivers the news: her father is dead, killed on a distant battlefield. She makes herself a promise: the farm will remain exactly the same until her beloved older brother comes home from the Front. "I think of it like a magical spell. If I can stop time, if nothing ever changes, then maybe he won’t change either." But a storm ruins the harvest, her mother falls ill and then the requisition appears... In a last-ditch attempt to save the farm from bankruptcy, Angélique embarks on a journey across France with her brother's flock of magnificent Toulouse geese.

 

 

My Thoughts

Living in the French countryside, Angélique and her mother are working hard to keep their family farm running while Angélique’s father and brother, Pascal, are away, fighting for France.

Upon hearing of her father’s death in combat, Angélique finds that she must raise funds in order to keep their beloved farm afloat for her brother’s much-anticipated return home.

Having lost most of their livestock to the Requisition, all that remains are her brother’s prized Toulouse Geese. With her mother grief-stricken, it falls to Angélique to find the funds to save what is now her brother’s farm.  Fuelled by sibling love and determination, she decides to sell the geese. But in order to attain the kind of money she needs, she is going to have to risk her life and take her geese closer to the front lines.

So, accompanied by her Uncle, she sets off to cross wartorn France with her magnificent geese.

Blending fact with fiction, House has created a beautiful, memorable tale. Through the character of 14-year-old Angélique Lacroix we embark on a journey into the terrifying unknown, driven by the love of a sister for her brother.

It’s a story that, although written for ages 12 and up, can be enjoyed by all. Angélique is a loveable character, a strong heroine who sets out to do what is right. Through her eyes we see the horrors of war, the toll it takes on survivors and the lives of the civilians struggling to survive. Personally, I appreciated the way the facts of the war were conveyed. I felt that it didn’t shy away from any truths but was conveyed through the eyes of an innocent 14-year-old, thus making it perhaps more manageable for the target audience.

Angélique’s love of animals stole my heart. I grew up helping on my father’s croft, so I could absolutely appreciate Angélique’s love for her livestock. I think House successfully portrays the importance of their animals, their livelihood and the impact that the Requisition had on small communities.

All in all, this is a powerful, beautifully written story. It’ll simultaneously hurt and warm your heart, and I challenge you not to fall in love with Napolean Bonaparte the gander!

That’s enough of my thoughts though. Walker Books have kindly provided me with an extract to share with you.

If you missed the first extract on the blog tour, be sure to check out Drinking Books to catch up.

Extract

My mourning dress is stiff and tight, a laced-up hand-me- down. Mother is almost invisible behind her long black veil. As we walk down the lane to the village through the warm, rosy dusk, I half expect a bat to blunder into her or a fox to stop and sniff the air as we pass.

Outside the church, the village widows flock around Mother like crows. There are Madame Villiard and Madame Arnauld, and poor young Madame Besançon, whose husband was just nineteen when both his legs were blown off at Verdun.

Old Madame Malpas draws me aside, wringing her bony hands and crying, “What’s to become of you, Angélique? You’ll very likely starve! La Mordue will go to rack and ruin without Monsieur Lacroix!”

“Pascal will be home soon,” I say. “Maman and I can manage till then.”

“Manage, child? When your corn’s still in the ground in August?”

“The farm men have been promised leave.” “And you expect the generals to keep their promises?” She sniffs loudly, then stumps off, calling to Mother,

“Madame Lacroix! What terrible news! Tell me, did he suffer?”

My best friend, Béatrice Lamy, hurries over to me.

“That woman!” she says, rolling her eyes. Then she kisses me on both cheeks and hugs me tightly. “This is unbearable, Angie. I can’t begin to imagine how you feel.”

Guilt prickles me because, just then, I’d been think- ing how much I hate wearing black and having to pretend to be sad. I wish I’d told her the truth before, but Mother always said the beatings would get worse if Father suspected we talked about him behind his back. And now it’s too late. I can’t speak ill of the dead, condemn a brave soldier Mort pour la France. What would

Madame Malpas say? “I’m fine, Bee,” I say. “Really, I am.” She cups my cheek in her hand. “You’re so brave,

Angie. I’d be in pieces if I’d lost Papa. How did you hear the news?”

I lean forward, hiding a smile, and whisper, “Pascal wrote.”

“Pascal!”

“Shhh, Bee. Not so loud.” I glance around, but the village women are too busy comforting Mother to take any notice of us. “Come on. Let’s talk inside.”

The cold stone church is empty. We sit in the front pew, the one allotted to the newly bereaved. Béatrice takes both my hands.

“Is Pascal safe?” she asks. “Is he hurt?” “I don’t know. Mother wouldn’t let me see his letter.” “Why not?” “Oh, you know. She’s upset.” “Of course. Silly question. I’m sorry.” Her eyes brim again with sympathy. Quickly I say, “Do you want to hear the good news?” “Good news?” Her eyes widen. I smile conspiratorially. “The farm belongs to Pascal now – the house, the land. Everything! It’s his.” “Oh.”

“Bee! Don’t you see what this means?” She shakes her head. “He can get married whenever he wants!” “Oh!” Her eyes widen further. “But … Papa won’t let me. I’m too young.” “Pascal will wait, I know he will. And when you’re both ready you’ll live with us, and we’ll be sisters, a real family. Won’t that be wonderful?”

Her eyes shine, then she blushes. “I do love him so much.”

We start to hug, but just then the door opens and the village widows seep inside like shadows, a horde of veiled and silent wraiths.

“I should go,” Béatrice says. “No. Please stay.” “But your mother…”

“She won’t mind.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely.”

I slip my arm through hers while we wait, each looking up at the brightly painted statue of Saint Joan of Arc, high on her pedestal. She’s wearing a full suit of armour, and spearing the devil through his blackened heart.

“I hate that statue,” Béatrice whispers.

“I don’t know,” I reply. “I rather like it.”

 

Giveaway

Thanks to Walker Books, I have two copies of this wonderful debut to give away to Strupag readers. To be in with a chance of winning simply enter via the rafflecopter entry form below. This giveaway is open to the UK only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
three-half-stars

Blog Tour & Review: Force of Nature

February 10, 2018 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Crime, Mystery

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour & Review: Force of NatureForce of Nature by Jane Harper
Series: Aaron Falk #2
Published by Little Brown UK on 1st February 2018
Genres: Crime, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case - in just a matter of days she was to provide the documents that will bring down the company she works for.

Falk discovers that far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. But does it include murder?

I’m delighted to be one of a collection of bloggers on today’s stop on the #ForceofNature blog tour!

I’ve been very excited to read Jane Harper’s new novel, the second in her Aaron Falk series. After loving her debut, The Dry, last year and seeing it do so well, I couldn’t wait to read Force of Nature.

I was not disappointed. Harper has an incredible ability to put you right there in the story – it’s something that stood out to me in The Dry and is definitely the case in her latest Aaron Falk instalment.

We rejoin Falk a few months after the happenings of The Dry, back in Melbourne working on a case with a new partner, Carmen. Together they are collecting evidence of money laundering against the firm Bailey Tennants.

Their contact in the company, Alice Russell, has been working secretly to provide them with evidence. However, with the handover of the final key documents looming, Alice has gone missing on a Bailey Tennants corporate retreat.

The setting for most of this novel is the Giralang Ranges. This is where the team building retreat takes place – where two groups all male and all female set out to trek the bush, spending three nights in the great outdoors. However, when the female team arrive at the meeting point late and are missing their teammate Alice, a massive search and investigation begins.

Falk and Carmen find themselves in the ranges, aiding the local police and trying to find Alice. The area has a chilling history of its own, which adds to the fears of the team.

Harper transported me to the wet, winter, Bushlands of the Giralang Ranges. Her writing is so atmospheric, I’ve rarely felt so engaged with the setting of a novel. I swear, I was lying in my bed with the electric blanket on, but I felt the dampness of the bush, the soggy waterproofs and wet sleeping bag.

As for the story itself, I couldn’t stop reading! Harper switched between chapters with Falk as he tries to find Alice, and chapters with the female team and the story of their retreat. I found this to work really well, as we slowly uncover the truth.

Once again, I like Falk. He’s easy to relate to, flawed and all the more likeable for it. I did enjoy his partnership with Carmen, I thought it worked well and I hope we’ll see them work together again.  To my knowledge, there’s no mention of a third book yet but surely we’ll be treated to more of Aaron Falk in the near future.

This novel is so immersive, well written and hard to put down. I’ve no doubt that Force of Nature is going to prove every bit as successful as The Dry.

 

FYI – I’ve just noticed that Waterstones have signed copies available! Find them here (not an affiliate link).

five-stars

Blog Tour and Extract: FEAR

January 26, 2018 in Blog Tours, Psychological Thriller

As the final stop on the #GrippedByFear blog tour, I’m delighted to bring you the conclusion of FEAR’s second chapter.

If you’ve missed the other days, be sure to check out the blogs in the graphic below. Visit us in order and you’ll get to read the first two chapters of FEAR for free!

 

What happened next is best related in the words of the indictment: At about 8.40 am, the accused, Hermann Tiefenthaler (my father, that is), left the flat of his son, Randolph Tiefenthaler, with the Walther PPK, then in his lawful possession, and descended to the basement, where he induced the tenant, Dieter Tiberius, to open the door to his flat, either by knocking or ringing the bell, and then killed Tiberius with a close-range shot to the head. Tiberius died instantly.

I rang the police. My father had asked me to, but it was in any case clear that this was the line we would take: no crazy getaway, no cover-up. We stood by the act. We still do—I can say that without reservation.

The policeman who picked up the phone, Sergeant Leidinger, greeted me almost affably. He knew me well, and he knew the house—he’d been here a lot over the past few months and sometimes found our case cause for amusement, but he immediately grew serious when he heard that I had a

death to report. I used those exact words, quite deliberately: ‘I have a death to report.’

‘Your wife?’ Sergeant Leidinger asked, and I could hear his alarm, which gave me, I must admit, a certain satisfaction, after all the doubts the authorities had about the gravity of our situation.

‘No,’ I said, ‘not my wife, thank goodness—it’s Dieter Tiberius.’

For a few seconds there was silence, and I’d love to know

what Leidinger was thinking then.

  ‘We’ll be right with you,’ he said.

My father packed his bag and put on his checked jacket. Then he sat down at the kitchen table again, the Walther PPK in front of him. I made him another espresso. We had sometimes sat there like that in the past, before he set off for home—usually with my mother, because he never came without her—and funnily enough, I now said some of the things I always said: ‘Have you got everything? Sure you haven’t forgotten anything?’

  My father went to have a last look in the bathroom and found his shaving foam.

   ‘You can’t check too often,’ I said.

  ‘Who knows when I’d have got any,’ he said.

  It had just occurred to me that you might not be allowed a wet shave in prison because of the razor blades—I knew nothing about life in prison—when the doorbell rang. Sergeant Leidinger and his colleague Rippschaft, who was also well known to me, were the first to arrive. Later, others came: policemen in uniform, plain-clothes detectives, a doctor, forensic investigators, pathologists.

  My father told Sergeant Leidinger that he had shot he basement tenant. He said nothing else and was quiet throughout the proceedings. They didn’t put handcuffs on him, perhaps because of his age, and for that I was thankful. We hugged when he left, properly this time. It was a long, loving embrace, the first of our life. We clung to one another and he said something that may sound strange to outsiders. ‘I’m so proud of you,’ he said—a statement that can only be understood as a kind of closing summary, a father’s attempt to take stock of his relationship with his son before disappearing into prison. He had never said it before—or, indeed, anything like it. Maybe he wanted to make clear to me that, up until the appearance of Dieter Tiberius, he had considered my life a success, an absolute success, and that Dieter Tiberius was a mere episode in that life and no more—an episode which, thanks to a well-placed shot, was now over. He wanted to make clear to me that, in spite of the long silence between us, he was aware of that success—and he wanted to encourage me to continue along the path I had taken. I think that’s why he said what he did.

**GIVEAWAY**

Fancy getting your hands on a SIGNED copy of the book, as well as a hamper of German sweets and chocolate?

Well, Orion is running a competition over on Twitter. To enter just tweet about a time you’ve been #GrippedByFear (be sure to use the hashtag). A winner will be chosen on Monday 29th January 2018.

FEAR is out in the UK now. If you’d like to check out my review of the book, click here.

Blog Tour: Bluebird, Bluebird *Giveaway*

October 3, 2017 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Crime, Current Giveaways

Welcome to today’s stop on the Bluebird, Bluebird blog tour!

BB blog tour image

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour: Bluebird, Bluebird *Giveaway*Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
Series: Highway 59 #1
Published by Serpent's Tail on 28th September 2017
Genres: Crime
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Southern fables usually go the other way around. A white woman is killed or harmed in some way, real or imagined, and then, like the moon follows the sun, a black man ends up dead.

But when it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules - a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger working the backwoods towns of Highway 59, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about his home state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.

So when allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he is drawn to a case in the small town of Lark, where two dead bodies washed up in the bayou. First a black lawyer from Chicago and then, three days later, a local white woman, and it's stirred up a hornet's nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes - and save himself in the process - before Lark's long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.

There are times when you read a novel and know it will stay with you for a long time; such was the case for me with Bluebird, Bluebird. Far more than a crime novel, this well-written, immersive book shines a spotlight upon racial tensions in East Texas.

Through Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger whose family hail from the state, we are given a glimpse into a world where a white woman’s death is investigated, but the suspicious death of a black man is left unexplored.  Darren gives us an insight into the life of a black law enforcer in an area where such a man is a rarity, an area which houses the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. Through his investigations, we are drawn into the racial politics and educated on what life is like (badge or no) when you are unwelcome in your own homeland.

I was thoroughly absorbed by this story. Having never read any of Locke’s work before, I was extremely taken with her storytelling and prose. The mystery aspect of the story is fascinating, however, it’s the look through the microscope at small-town East Texas life and the dynamics surrounding it that I found really made this novel. It’s a thought-provoking book and Locke raises many very pertinent issues. At times I was incredulous (and perhaps very naive) to find that this type of racism still occurs so freely in the world.  It’s a very timely novel that will no doubt impact the reader and leave a lasting impression.

**GIVEAWAY**

I’m delighted to say that I have a copy of this impressive and thought-provoking novel to give away to one reader in the UK. To be in with a chance of winning simply use the rafflecopter entry form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

four-half-stars