Review: The Alice Network

October 21, 2017 in Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

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.

Review: The Alice NetworkThe Alice Network by Kate Quinn
Published by William Morrow on 13th July 2017 (UK)
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth ...no matter where it leads.

The Alice Network is a novel built around fact, something that I feel makes this novel particularly special.

Charlie St Clair finds herself pregnant and unmarried in 1947. Her well-to-do family insist she go to Europe to have her ‘Little Problem’ dealt with. Charlie seizes her trip to Europe to try and find her friend and cousin Rose who went missing in Nazi-occupied France. Charlie holds hope that Rose might still be alive and so begins her investigations.

It’s these investigations that lead Charlie to London and to one Eve Gardiner and her driver Finn Kilgore. From this point the story is told in alternating chapters, Charlie in 1947 and Eve starting in 1915.

Eve was part of a network of female spies – The Alice Network. While the character of Eve is fictional, this network existed, led by an Alice Dubois. Quinn incorporates this historical figure, the “Queen of Spies”, as well as some of Dubois’ associates into this novel.

The result is a work of fiction that is not only compelling and addictive but also fascinating and educational. I learned much from this novel with Quinn’s author’s note helping me to distinguish the fact from fiction.

The story, the search for Rose, forms the backbone of this novel but it’s far more than a missing person case. This is a novel of friendship, trauma, love, war, hope and despair. It’s an exploration of the post-war era as well as an accurate account of life in occupied France, and the sacrifices of a group of (generally unheard of) women who had their own important and dangerous roles in the war.

I loved the characters in this novel. The fact that I cared so much about them really finished off this novel for me.

This is a well-written, researched and thoroughly eye-opening novel. I think I’m going to seek out more information on The Alice Network and Alice Dubois herself. Her story and that of her associates is one I feel I need to know more about and I’m so grateful to Quinn for bringing it to my attention through this captivating novel.

Reese Alice Network

NOTE – The Alice Network was picked as a Reese Witherspoon book club read, so if you don’t believe me maybe Reese will convince you to pick it up! 😉

four-half-stars

Review: Tower of Dawn

September 27, 2017 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, YA Fantasy

Review: Tower of DawnTower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #6
Published by Bloomsbury on 5th September 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent's mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

In case you aren’t aware, Tower of Dawn is the Chaol novella that Maas was working out that turned into a full-length novel – 660 pages! The timing of this book coincides with the happenings of Empire of Storms, so although they are separate books they are really following the one timeline. Make sense?

I was pretty excited to hear that Chaol would get his own novella, so I was delighted when I heard it had developed into an entire novel! I completely loved Chaol in the first two books of this series but felt he got a raw deal in the latter books. I really hoped that without Aelin as the focus we’d get Chaol back, and I think we did!

Aside from the prospect of a whole book about Chaol, I was very interested as to how Maas would handle his injury and wheelchair use. Many of you know that I have mobility issues and frequently require the use of my wheelchair as a result of illness. So I was equally intrigued (and rather nervous) as to how it and Chaol’s adjustment to his new life would be handled.

On the whole, I was very happy with the way Maas dealt with Chaol’s injury. She really captured many of the issues that  I myself have struggled with since needing help and the use of my chair to get about. In fact, there were passages where I cried, such was the impact, relevance, and portrayal of Chaol’s battles. At times I felt like Sarah was writing about me, particularly in that first half of the book. I’m very grateful to Maas for bringing these issues into her hugely popular books. While Chaol’s struggles won’t reflect everyone, they certainly reflect mine and I’m grateful that, through Chaol, some awareness may be raised.

I appreciated that while Chaol was being treated with magic, he still had to fight. It was a process, a battle. View Spoiler »

As for the story itself, I’ve seen people say that it didn’t need to be as long as it was. Perhaps that’s the case, but I would’ve read it at twice the length.

Yes, it was kind of predictable in places but I really didn’t care, as there was much that wasn’t predictable. In fact there were a couple of bombshells! We find out a lot more about Antica, Erilea and the Valg. If you think this is a secondary novel and you aren’t sure about reading then let me say that you must; there is important information in this book!

I also really loved how Maas continues to reintroduce her novella characters in this series. If you haven’t read The Assassin’s Blade collection of prequel novellas then I urge you to do so to get the most from this novel and the series as a whole.

All in all, I really enjoyed this novel and getting to spend more time with Chaol. I loved meeting the new characters, learning more about the world and I just can’t wait for book seven!

four-half-stars

Review: Dark Immolation

June 23, 2017 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

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.

Review: Dark ImmolationDark Immolation by Christopher Husberg
Series: The Chaos Queen
Published by Titan on 20th June 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

There are rumours in Ashta - a new religion is rising, and Cinzia, one-time Cantic priestess, has escaped the Holy Crucible. Fleeing from Navone, Cinzia travels with Knot, a man of many parts, and Astrid, the child-like vampire. They are gathering followers, but the murderous Nazaniin are still on their trail. Meanwhile, Winter is losing her grip on sanity, grappling with immense powers beyond her understanding. Where she goes, chaos and death follow.

Dark Immolation, the second book in The Chaos Queen quintet, is a title I’ve been looking forward to all year. Last June I had the pleasure of reviewing book one, Duskfall (you can find my thoughts here) and this debut novel impressed me so much I couldn’t wait to revisit the world and its characters.

Dark Immolation continues where Duskfall left off. While we get answers to many questions in this book there’s still plenty to keep us wondering!

The characters in this book are what really makes it for me, and Husberg flawlessly glides from the POV of one character to another. Knot and Astrid are as brilliant as ever – I’d love to hang out with those two!

Sometimes the second book in a series can feel a bit of a letdown but I absolutely did not feel that with Dark Immolation. I enjoyed the continuation of our characters’ adventures as well as some glimpses into the past and the Void.

This is a series that I’m so glad I picked up. I can’t wait to see what Husberg has in store for us in book three!

four-half-stars

Review: The Hate U Give

April 6, 2017 in Book Reviews, Contemporary, YA

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.

Review: The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Published by Walker on 6th April 2017
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

There are times when I am just at a complete loss for words upon finishing a book (handy for a book blogger, I’m sure you’ll agree). This is one of those times.

The Hate U Give has been out in the US for a month or so now and everything I’d been hearing from readers over there is this book is a “must-read”. Could it really live up to this hype? The simple answer is YES!

In truth, there is no way that I can do this book justice, but I will try to share some of my thoughts with you.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is such an incredibly important novel. It deals with racism, police brutality and life in the inner city. It also brings strong messages of love, family and community.

It’s an emotional read – knowing that this is based on reality, that these events actually happen makes the emotion all the deeper.

The characters in this book are incredible and so well written. Starr is an immediately likable character whom we root for from the get go. I loved her family and their relationship, I found it was particularly refreshing for a YA novel.

Even the peripheral characters in this story are memorable. Thomas has a way of writing that makes you feel like you’re in there with her characters, not just on the outside looking in.

This is a hugely relevant novel, that not only tells a story but educates the reader. It’s a unique book written by someone who truly knows what she’s talking about – an #ownvoices author, of which we need many more.

This book will tug at your heart, fill you with anger, make you sob with sadness and yet it’ll also make you laugh. It’ll open your eyes, make you really see the world and make you look upon the reporting of crimes in a new light.

It’s a book that will stay with you forever and I urge you ALL (young and old alike) to read it.

five-stars

Review: Quieter Than Killing

March 7, 2017 in Book Reviews, Crime

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.

Review: Quieter Than KillingQuieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary
Series: DI Marnie Rome #4
Published by Headline on 9th March 2017
Genres: Crime
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

It's winter, the nights are dark and freezing, and a series of seemingly random assaults is pulling DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake out onto streets of London. When Marnie's family home is ransacked, there are signs that the burglary can have only been committed by someone who knows her. Then a child goes missing, yet no-one has reported it. Suddenly, events seem connected, and it's personal.

Someone out there is playing games. It is time for both Marnie and Noah to face the truth about the creeping, chilling reaches of a troubled upbringing. Keeping quiet can be a means of survival, but the effects can be as terrible as killing.

For the past few years, my most-anticipated release list has included Sarah Hilary’s latest works. We’re now onto the fourth book of the DI Marnie Rome series and Hilary never fails to impress me. Her storytelling sweeps me up, diving into her books is like meeting up with old friends – and I love it!

The case in this book is compelling. There has been a series of attacks and Marnie and Noah are tasked with finding the culprits. Are the attacks connected? One again Hilary has woven her narrative, teasing and tripping me up along the way.

For me though, what I really enjoyed most about this book was spending more time with Marnie and Noah. I feel that by now, book four, we have a good handle on their characters, we know their histories and Hilary ensures we become even more invested in our protagonists.

I feel that I say this after every Hilary book, but Sarah handles the issues involved in Quieter Than Killing with great respect. It’s one of the things I love about her writing; she takes care and consideration with any issues she addresses, yet doesn’t detract from the story or lose any of the impact. If anything, it adds more impact!

I could sit here and gush about Sarah Hilary’s novels all day long. Her stories are realistic and believable, her characters relatable. Hilary references real-life news events to anchor her stories into our lives. I love her ongoing development of Marnie and Noah’s lives, and feel we are being drawn in closer with each passing page.

All in all, Quieter Than Killing is a fantastic addition to the series. It will raise many questions, but not all of them having answers!

five-stars