Thursday, 18 January 2018

Review - The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
Publisher: William Morrow
Release date: 6 June 2017
Back cover blurb: 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 matter where it leads.

During WW1 the Alice Network was a network of highly intelligent, skilled and very brave female spies, risking their lives for the war effort. 

The role of the female code breakers at Bletchley Park during WW2 has been well celebrated and documented, but the work of the Alice Network seems scandalously unknown. 

Eve Gardiner is just Nineteen when she is plucked from her job as a file assistant and thrust into the world of espionage. Posted to German occupied France to filter information back to Blighty, Eve is nervous but excited to be doing something useful to help the war effort. 

Decades later in the aftermath of WW2, Charlotte (Charlie) St. Clair is being sent to Switzerland after finding herself in an unfortunate situation-pregnant and unmarried. 

She doesn’t care about that as much as her family seem to, and is only going to please them. 

Charlie would much rather be in France looking for her cousin Rose, lost after 1944 but Charlie is certain she is still alive. After arriving at Southampton with her Mother, Charlie gives her the slip and arrives at an address in London determined to find out all she can about Rose’s movement post 1944 and if she is still alive. 

The two women could not be more different, but as Charlie arrives on Eve Gardiners doorstep, Eve is propelled back into the past and discovers thoughts, feelings and memories that she has and drunk to forget. 

As they discover more about each other they realise they have a common link and both must visit some personal dark places to uncover the truth. 

Told in alternating time spans, the Alice Network is a marvel of a novel. Educational, funny and poignant.

The Alice Network is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who sent me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Review - Liars by Frances Vick

Liars by Frances Vick
Publisher: Bookouture
Release date: 26 January 2018
Back cover blurb: He loves you. He’d do anything for you. But you don’t even know him. Jenny hasn’t had an easy life – no job and no money, with a sick mother and an abusive ex-stepfather. Not that anybody cares, she’s from the wrong side of town. David has taken care of Jenny ever since they were at school together. He knows how special she is, how much she needs his support. David has a lot of love to give. Jenny and David aren’t in a relationship. They aren’t even friends. Jenny thinks she’s free to do what she wants, see who she likes. What does David think? Well, you’ll have to find out.

Jenny Holloway has had a troubled life.

Her Mother is a heavy drinker, who manages to escape a violent partner but not before he had abused her daughter. Jenny is now seeing a therapist but her life is about to get a whole lot more complicated.

Away from home for one night staying at her best friend Freddie’s house, Jenny is shocked to learn about the death of her Mother who has taken a fall in the snow and become fatally wounded.

Jenny is frightened when questioned by the Police. Why is she a suspect. Freddie assures her it is normal procedure and Jenny relaxes.

When an old school friend appears Freddie is jealous of the bond between him and Jenny and suspicious of David and his behaviour. 

Freddie’s jealousy makes Jenny want to have nothing more to do with Freddie. But he is one of her oldest and truest ways friends. Is there anything in the accusations he is making?

Liars is available from 26 January 2018.
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Review - The Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit

The Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit
Publisher: Orion
Release date: 25 January 2018
Back cover blurb: You'd die for your family. But would you kill for them? Family is everything. So what if yours was being terrorised by a neighbour - a man who doesn't listen to reason, whose actions become more erratic and sinister with each passing day? And those you thought would help - the police, your lawyer - can't help you. You become afraid to leave your family at home alone. But there's nothing more you can do to protect them. Is there?

Imagine having a downstairs neighbour who makes you and your family’s life hell. Not so hard to do. Right?

Now imagine that their actions drive you to commit Murder.

Not so easy. Right?

Most of us would consider ourselves to be moral human beings. To know the difference between right and wrong. To know that Murder is a crime that you absolutely cannot (and should not) get away with.

The Fear is a novel that will make you question your own morality as we meet Dietrich Tiberius via Randolph.

Randolph and his family are pleased when their new neighbour moves in below them. He is friendly at first, eager to meet with them and share stories and baked cookies.

But then he begins to act oddly. At first it seems to be nothing, he just seems to be around more than usual, he surely can’t be stalking them can he?

Then come the vile accusations and threats about Randolph and his wife. Their neighbour accusing them of their two very young children.

He is immediately reported and the take legal advice and threaten to sue for slander. But as they begin their fight against him, they realised that although sympathetic to their plight, the law is not necessarily on their side and they may be forced to take matters into their own hands for the family's safety.

Fear is available from 25 January 2018.
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Review - The Confession by Jo Spain

The Confession by Jo Spain
Publisher: Quercus Books
Release date: 25 January 2018
Back cover blurb: Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear. Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal? This gripping psychological thriller will have you questioning, who - of Harry, Julie and JP - is really the guilty one? And is Carney’s surrender driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game?

The Confession is a very clever novel and is set to be a big hitter in 2018.

JP Carney walks into Harry McNamara's house and brutally attacks him one night. He hands himself in to the Police immediately and swears it was just a random act of violence, that he wasn't attempting murder, and that he has no idea who Harry McNamara is.

The Police find this difficult to believe, Harry McNamara is a disgraced former banker worth millions. Famous for being filthy rich at a young age, Harry's fame only increased when his bank was  bought into question then investigated as part of a major financial Fraud scandal.

Harry bailed out of the bank leaving others in charge, and has recently been cleared of any wrong doing, but he's spent months in the public eye as the case has been dragged through the the courts, so it seems impossible that JP has no idea who Harry is.

JP himself couldn't be any more different to Harry, and at first the Police believe that Harry's significant wealth is the reason behind the attack. JP knows exactly who Harry is, but his motive isn't

The Confession is told in alternate chapters from JP, Harry, Julie (Harry's wife) and Alice's (lead Detective) point of view. We learn of past mistakes and Marraige woes

The Confession is available from 25 January 2018
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who granted my wish via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Review - The Tree House by Glenn Haybittle

The Tree House by Glenn Haybittle
Publisher: Cheyne Walk
Release date: 11 January 2018
Back cover blurb: Max and Ada, ten-year-old neighbours, are engrossed in composing a book of spells in a tree house in Paris when the Nazis arrive to occupy the city. Max, the child of a rape and abandoned by his mother, is in foster care; Ada is Jewish. Almost fifty years later Max, the black sheep of the family, summons his grandson to tell him the story of those years in Paris and reveal a guilty secret that has eaten away at him. His mind is now set on digging up the past and he wants Mark to accompany him across the English Channel. His dying wish is to shed light on the two missing women in his life: Ada and his mother. Mark though is struggling with his own existential crisis. There is a missing woman in his life too. A deftly accomplished tightrope act of pathos and humour, The Tree House is a bewitching novel of loss and restitution, heritage and the hereafter. 

Mark is something of a disaster, his love life is a failure, he lives in a half way house, and has no real job to speak of. He hasn't heard from his Grandfather Max in years, when suddenly he is contacted by him out of the blue.

Curiosity gets the better of Mark and he decides to pay a visit to Max.

And so begins the story of Max's childhood, of the girl next door, the Mother he never really knew, and the horrors of the Nazi party and the second World War.

Ada, Max's next door neighbour was Max's first true love. Together they used to spend hours in their shared tree house concocting their book of spells. But war is beckoning, the Nazi's are getting closer to France and Ada is Jewish.

Max isn't aware of the significance of this at the time, it isn't until the family are forced to leave and the friends are torn apart, that he is made truly aware of the consequences of being a Jew in a Nazi occupied country...

The Tree House is a beautiful tale of childhood friendship set against the backdrop of Nazi occupied France.

The Tree House is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Review - Anatomy of a scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Anatomy of a scandal by Sarah Vaughan
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Release date: 11 January 2018
Back cover blurb: You want to believe your husband. She wants to destroy him. Part courtroom thriller; part portrait of a marriage; part exploration of how our memories still haunt us, Anatomy of a Scandal is a disarming and provocative psychological drama. Sophie’s husband, James, is a loving father and a successful public figure. Yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to engulf him. She’s kept his darkest secret ever since they were first lovers, at Oxford. And if she stood by him then, she can do it now. Kate is the barrister prosecuting his case. She’s certain that James is guilty and determined he should pay. No stranger to suffering herself, she doesn’t flinch from posing the questions few want to hear. About what happens between a man a woman when they’re alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in a lift . . . Is James the victim of an unfortunate misunderstanding or the perpetrator of something sinister? Who is right: Sophie or Kate? This scandal – which forces Sophie to appraise her marriage and Kate her demons – will have far-reaching consequences for them all.

Anatomy of a scandal is a particularly topical novel at the time of reading, focusing on a scandal within the government, a close friend of the Prime Minister exposed for an affair with his office researcher.

James Whitehouse is a politician on the rise, a family man with a long-standing connection to the Prime Minister. His wife Sophie has known him since they were both at Oxford and thinks she knows all the skeletons in his closet.

However, when he is accused of a crime that threatens to tear Sophie’s perfect world in two, she must make a difficult decision. Does she stand by him? Or should she walk away now and protect herself.

Sophie is determined to stand by her husband, despite those around her trying to persuade her otherwise. She loves him, has always loved him and simply will not believe that he has done anything wrong. Although she does know deep down that he is capable.

Kate, the prosecuting barrister is certain that James is guilty. She is a successful barrister used to getting her own way, and will not go down without a fight.

With it's focus on political cover ups, university societies and class difference at Oxford, and difficulties of rape accusations and trials, Anatomy of a Scandal is a very different novel to any you will read this year.

Is James Whitehouse guilty? And if so, will he be bought to justice?

You will have to read to find out of course... I do think that Anatomy of a Scandal is a novel that would make a great TV drama, complete with suspense, flashbacks and fraught courtroom scenes. A 2018 must read.

Anatomy of a scandal is available from 11 January 2018.
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.