Category: book review

Book Review: Milly’s Marvelous Mistakes by Peta Rainford

Milly’s Marvelous Mistakes, Illustrated and Written by Peta Rainford (Dogpigeon Books, February 2020)

Rating: 5 stars

Being the ‘author of a family saga series, I’m always searching for books that not only tell stories but also provide instruction. Having two artists in that series, especially my first one with teenage Lydia, I was immediately intrigued by Milly’s Marvelous Mistakes.

Some of the greatest lessons in life are found in books for young readers. With Milly, one of life’s great lessons is narrated in such a beautiful poetic form: good things require hard work, and to be good, you must also be willing to be bad first. Or as my grand would say, nothing good comes without patience and effort.

In a world of instant gratification, taking the easy way out, and so called “instant success” (which usually never is), we’re reminded that part of life is making mistakes and learning from those mistakes. They make us better people if we’re willing to learn from them, and they make us who we are.

While it’s important to strive for excellence, we can also remember that those bad spots make us unique, and sometimes more prized.

The book is beautifully illustrated with vivid colors and whimsical drawings that bring the story to life.

This is certainly a must give for any child on your list or for teachers of young children. It made me smile through and through.

Milly’s Marvelous Mistakes is available in paperback at Amazon and other fine retailers.

About the author:

Peta writes and illustrates her funny picture books on the Isle of Wight, where she lives with her husband, daughter, and hairy jack russell, Archie. Peta loves going into schools to share her books and inspire children in their writing and art. She has appeared at a number of festivals and other events, including: Barnes Children’s Literature Festival, Isle of Wight Literary Festival, Exmoor Dark Skies Festival and Ventnor Fringe. She is one of the organisers of the inaugural IW Story Festival, taking place in February 2020.

Book Review: Death on the Danube: A New Year’s Murder in Budapest by Jennifer S. Alderson

Today’s blog review features the first cozy mystery debut on the blog and it comes from award-winning author Jennifer S. Alderson.

Death on the Danube: A New Years Murder in Budapest (Travel can be Murder Cozy Mystery Series Book One) by Jennifer S. Alderson (Traveling Life Press, Nov 2019)

Disclosure: Please note that the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. When you purchase books using my Amazon affiliate link, they compensate me, which helps make this blog possible. Know that I only recommend books that I personally stand behind, or feel could enrich others’ lives.

Rating: Five Stars

This is the first book I’ve read of award-winning author Jennifer S. Alderson, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Her characters shine as former investigative journalist turned tour guide puts sleuthing to the test as she has to unravel a case of murder amidst a group of seemingly wealthy guests through the cultural beauty of Budapest.

I immediately fell in love with tour group owner Dotty and her friend Sally, as well as the Fabulous Five: a group of five widows who travel together regularly. Characters Carl, Helen, and Tom were all shifty as I worked to unravel their facades.

I normally can guess the murderer in most stories, but Aldersan had me guessing till almost the very end, a true testament to her craft.

If you like your murder served with a side of culture and brandy, pick up Death on the Danube.

To purchase:

Book Review: The Poseidon Network by Kathryn Guaci

Disclosure: Please note that the link below is an affiliate link and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. When you purchase books using my Amazon affiliate link, they compensate me, which helps make this blog possible. Know that I only recommend books that I personally stand behind, or feel could enrich others’ lives.

Today on the blog, I’m pleased to share my review of USA Today Bestselling Author Kathryn Guaci’s latest spy thriller, The Poseidon Network (Ebony Publishing, 2019).

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I first fell in love with Kathryn’s work when I read Code Name Camille, her novella that was part of The Darkest Hour Anthology. Her background in textiles and love of art and all things culinary are woven into her works, and I was hoping that I would get another cracking book. I wasn’t disappointed.

A cocktail of a book as worthy as those of the legendary Shepheard’s Hotel, The Poseidon Network is an intoxicating mixture of intrigue, danger, and passion with a side of bitters. It’s a decadent, gripping page-turner that lingers on your tongue long after you finish it.

Set amidst the cosmopolitan circles of Cairo and Athens and the harsh landscape of the mountains of Greece during the Second World War, The Poseidon Network follows journalist and agent Larry Hadley as he is sent on a mission to find the “White Rose”, the leader of the titled The Poseidon Network, a resistance group committed to sabotaging their German and Italian occupiers.

Larry soon finds himself in a series of mysteries as he unravels what happened to the White Rose and exactly what side his alluring wife/widow Alexis Petrakis is on.

What I loved about Guaci’s writing is that she weaved in such detail that made me felt I was right there amidst the action, and kept me reading all night. A perfect read for a cold winter’s night. Highly recommended.

To purchase on Amazon: The Poseidon Network

Book Review: Auschwitz Syndrome by Ellie Midwood

Auschwitz Syndrome Review

Ellie Midwood,

Released Oct 11, 2019

5 stars

There are books you devour, and then there are books you chew on for a while. Auschwitz Syndrome, the latest book by Ellie Midwood, is one you chew on.

From the courtroom and backroom drama of a Denazification court, we’re asked a few questions: Is Franz Dahler guilty of crimes against humanity? Did he beat, rape, and abuse a female inmate who worked under his command, a woman, Helena, who is now his wife? And did he marry her to secure his clearance from the court? You’ll have to make your own decision.

Auschwitz Syndrome is such an emotionally raw and painfully real book that I had to put it down on several occasions. Even the courtroom scenes crackled with intensity as the judge had to bring down his gavel else chaos would have ensued (and sometimes I felt it did, as he kept going back and forth between prosecution and defense).

The dismal imagery portrayed in the novel is hard on the reader, but in a setting such as Auschwitz, readers need to be reminded of just how brutal things got. Trust me in that you’ll hug your pets or children after this one. I had some good snuggles with my dog and blasted The Young Rascals on repeat for a while.

Some of the language may be difficult for readers to take, but I felt it leant towards the reality of the situation. I felt Ms. Midwood handled the sensitivity of the situation with skill and stayed true to the story. There were tender moments between Franz and Helena that lighten things.

The characters and storyline are largely based on real accounts, so if you want moving fiction, then pick up Auschwitz Syndrome. Just have puppies or kittens available for after you read it.

To purchase your copy, click here:https://amzn.to/2HDognH

 

Book Review: No Woman’s Land: a Holocaust novel by Ellie Midwood

Disclosure: Please note that the link below is an affiliate link and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. When you purchase books using my Amazon affiliate link, they compensate me, which helps make this blog possible. Know that I only recommend books that I personally stand behind, or feel could enrich others’ lives.

Rating: Five stars

There is historical fiction, and then there’s Ellie Midwood. No Woman’s Land is a superb novel that brings the Minsk Ghetto to life in all of its harsh cruelty with a sense of hope and grace. Reading a story of the dour conditions of the Holocaust can be difficult on a reader, but Ms. Midwood has crafted a powerful story of the meaning of loyalty, friendship, and love in the bitterest of conditions. 

One can’t help but cheer on ghetto occupants Ilse , Rivka, and Liza as they navigate the treacherous dog eat dog world of the ghetto while still holding on to the ultimate thing that keeps them alive: love. Although these three women, and others in the ghetto, come from diverging backgrounds, they form a solidarity as they keep each other together and the hope for freedom alive. Through this narrative, they discover the only thing that keeps one alive is love during the harshest of conditions.
I appreciate Ilse Stein’s character arc as we meet her as a timid, sheltered Jewish girl who arrives in Minsk after she and her sisters are resettled into the ghettos. There she meets women like Rivka and Liza, savvy leaders who lost husbands as the winds of war rage over the eastern front. Isle learns just how strong she is as she vows to survive and keep her sisters safe.
Although disillusioned and jaded, she learns to trust as she meets Willy Schultz, an officer in the Luftwaffe who befriends her. Their love story is sweet, tender, and real as they let their guards down while coming to terms with being from opposing sides.
This book left me wanting to know more of what becomes of Ilse, Willy, Liza, and all of their friends after the book ended, especially because these people existed during World War II. Highly recommended. 

Book Review: The White Venus

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The White Venus, The Love and War Series Book Two  by Rupert Colley

Rating: Five Stars

Blurb:

When you trust your enemy more than your family

June 1940. A village in northern France awaits a garrison of conquering Germans. 

To their dismay, 16-year-old Pierre and his parents are forced to accommodate a German major. He is the enemy within their midst and, more pertinently, the unwanted lodger within their home. 

The problem, however, is that the German is annoyingly pleasant. The major, with a son of his own, empathises with Pierre in a way his father has never been able to

But when his father is arrested by the Gestapo, Pierre has to ask where his loyalties lie, and who are his friends and who, exactly, is the enemy. 

Desperate to prove himself a man, Pierre is continually thwarted by those he trusts – his parents, the villagers and especially Claire, the girl he so desires. 

Pierre’s quest brings to the fore a traumatic event in the family’s past, a tragedy never forgotten but never mentioned. Can Pierre confront his trauma, and prove himself a man in a country at war?

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. When you purchase books using my Amazon affiliate link, they compensate me, which helps make this blog possible. Know that I only recommend books that I personally stand behind, or feel could enrich others’ lives.

It’s rare that I find a book that I want to read in one sitting, but I stayed up all night reading this brilliant book. Characters move stories, and I was instantly taken with young Pierre. His character arc is superb. He first comes across as this young boy who has difficulty killing a chicken, but as the novel progresses, Pierre finds his strength.

It’s hard not to feel for Pierre as so much of what he thought was true is called into question, yet the novel is filled with humor as a young man’s boyhood antics with his friend Xavier and his perpetual crush on the lovely Claire heighten all the joy and angst of adolescence.

You will laugh and cry as you read this superb read filled with all the wonders and pain of a coming of age tale. I cheered Pierre on all the way. This was my first read of one of Colley’s novels, and I will certainly read the rest of the series.

To purchase: https://amzn.to/38C1xo7