Backstories by Simon Van der Velde – Book Review

About the book:

Dreamers, singers, heroes and killers, they can dazzle with their beauty or their talent or their unmitigated evil, yet inside themselves they are as frail and desperate as the rest of us.

But can you see them? Can you unravel the truth?

These are people you know, but not as you know them. Peel back the mask and see.

Backstories is a unique collection of stories each told from the point of view of a famous, (or notorious) person at a pivotal moment in their lives. The writing is literary but accessible and the voices vividly real. The settings are mostly 60’s and 70’s UK and USA, and the driving themes are inclusion, social justice and of course, nostalgia – but the real key to these stories is that the protagonists’ identities are withheld. This means that your job is to find them, leading to that Eureka moment when you realise who’s mind you’ve been inhabiting for the last twenty minutes.

My review:

I don’t normally gravitate towards short stories but I found this concept so intriguing that I could not resist reading the book when I was given the opportunity to do so. The concept is a series of unconnected backstories relating to famous and infamous people. Each individual story concentrates on a situation before that person became famous.

I found the stories extremely compelling because you have no idea who each story is about. It was a complete mystery (or should I say a series of complete mysteries?). Some I found more difficult than others. It was so challenging for me because with some I had an idea of who it was within the first few paragraphs, others had me guessing until the last paragraph, and a couple had me pondering for a while afterwards. The most exciting part is that with each story, cleverly woven by Simon Van der Velde, he makes no explicit declaration of who the person is, so if you can’t guess who it is, you’ll never know!

I’ve always been a mine of useless information so this really ticked my boxes and I found it so much fun to read. I would guess that younger people might find this harder if they do not get the cultural references that identify each person, although I’m sure googling may help! As a baby of the late 1960s I easily identified with the context of stories of people I was aware of, and also some of the people from further back. I think my daughter who is 27 would have certainly been able to work out a few of them, but may possibly have struggled to guess them all.

I found the whole experience of reading Backstories to be thought-provoking and I believe there is a second book due later this year. Backstories was a fantastic debut for Simon Van der Velde, and I am really looking forward to reading more of his work. I may still be on the fence a little with regards to short stories, but Backstories is so much more than a collection of short stories, and this collection works perfectly for me.

Backstories was published yesterday 25th March 2021 by Smoke and Mirrors Press. Many thanks to Simon for my proof copy of the book, in exchange of which I have written an honest review.

Purchase link:

http://bit.ly/Amazon-Backstories

About the author:

Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, labourer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as travelling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters and insights for his award-winning
stories. Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction) in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including; The Yeovil Literary Prize, (twice), The Wasafiri New Writing Prize, The Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Frome Shortstory Prize, The Harry Bowling Prize, The Henshaw Press Short Story Competition and The National Association of Writers’ Groups Open Competition – establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short-story writers.

Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with his wife, Nicola, their labradoodle, Barney and two tyrannical children.

COVER REVEAL – The Hidden Child by Louise Fein

I am so excited to be part of the cover reveal for the forthcoming novel by Louise Fein, The Hidden Child. I really enjoyed Louise Fein’s debut novel People Like Us, and I am eager to read this exciting new novel. Please read further down to find out more about the book, and check out the beautiful cover!

About the book:

From the outside, Eleanor and Edward Hamilton are the epitome of a perfect marriage but they’re harbouring a shameful secret that threatens to fracture their entire world.

London, 1929. Eleanor Hamilton is a dutiful mother, a caring sister and adoring wife to a celebrated war hero. Her husband, Edward, is a leading light in the Eugenics movement. The Hamiltons are on the social rise, and it looks as though their future is bright.

When Mabel, their young daughter, begins to develop debilitating seizures, their world fractures as they have to face the uncomfortable truth – Mabel is an epileptic: one of the undesirables Edward campaigns against.

Forced to hide the truth so as not to jeopardise Edward’s life work, the couple must confront the truth of their past – and the secrets that have been buried.

Will Eleanor and Edward be able to fight for their family? Or will the truth destroy them?

About the author:

Louise Fein was born and brought up in London. She harboured a secret love of writing from a young age, preferring to live in her imagination than the real world. After a law degree, Louise worked in Hong Kong and Australia, travelling for a while through Asia and North America before settling back to a working life in London. She finally gave in to the urge to write, taking an MA in creative writing, and embarking on her first novel, Daughter of the Reich (named People Like Us in the UK and Commonwealth edition). The novel was inspired by the experience of her father’s family, who escaped from the Nazis and arrived in England as refugees in the 1930’s. Daughter of the Reich/People Like Us is being translated into 11 foreign languages, has been shortlisted for the 2021 RNA Historical Novel of the year Award, and has been long listed for the Not The Booker Prize.

Louise’s second novel, The Hidden Child, will be published in the Autumn of 2021. Louise lives in the beautiful English countryside with her husband, three children, two cats, small dog and the local wildlife who like to make an occasional appearance in the house. Louise is currently working on her third novel.

Preorder links:

https://amzn.to/3bGFNvq

https://bit.ly/3ewH2Pr

https://bit.ly/3tdYIDz

Follow Louise:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FeinLouise

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/louisefeinauthor

Website and newsletter sign-up: https://www.louisefein.com

Follow Head of Zeus:

Twitter: @HoZ_Books

Facebook: @headofzeus

Instagram: @headofzeus

Website: http://www.headofzeus.com

This Nowhere Place by Natasha Bell – Blog Tour/Book Review

About the book:

‘That’s the thing about our town: people only come here if they’re going somewhere else.’

One grey afternoon, high on the cliffs of Dover, two girls agree to help a stranger.

Within months, two of the three girls are dead.

It’s been 10 years since the tragic case of the Dover Girls.

In the years that follow, local legend grows around the events of that summer – and, with the one survivor refusing to speak, it seems the truth will never emerge. Until a documentary-maker arrives, determined to solve the mystery of the Dover Girls.

But he’s unprepared for what he uncovers – a tale of adolescence, belonging, borders, and
betrayal.

But some will stop at nothing to keep this town’s secrets…

This Nowhere Place looks at how the decisions of the past can haunt the present, and
how the sleepiest of towns can hide the darkest of secrets.

My review:

The titular ‘Nowhere Place’ is Dover, Kent, and this is a timely consideration of the negative attitudes towards illegal immigrants and asylum seekers who predominantly enter the United Kingdom via the shortest distance from mainland Europe.

Amidst the backdrop of 2016 which heralded both Brexit and the rise in nationalism and undisguised open hatred of people entering the UK via non-legal routes, this is a dual timeline novel set in 2016 and 2026.

The storyline in 2026 focusses around the character of Tarek, an award-winning Syrian documentary maker, who arrives in Dover to make a documentary about ‘The Dover Girls’, two best friends who agreed to help an illegal immigrant, a teenage girl of a similar age to them. What followed in 2016 resulted in the death of two of the girls, with the survivor left with life-changing injuries.

I loved the structure and simplicity of the way the chapters were titled as episodes of the documentary with each chapter split into the past and ‘present’ (which is in fact future 2026), including a scene from the documentary, together with accounts from past and present from the connected characters in the story. It also becomes clear as the story develops that there is more to Tarek’s reason for wanting to make this documentary.

This is a slow-burn mystery/thriller which slowly unravels, mirroring the way in which a documentary series unveils its truths.

As with many people, I have only ever passed through on my way to or from France, so I was unaware of the existence of the Grand Shaft and Shakespeare’s Cliff so I found myself looking at more information online which really helped set the scene for this unusual story.

In addition to the mystery of what happened to ‘The Dover Girls’, this was a book about family and what makes a place a home. I also found it a thought-provoking glimpse of a fractured society, very much in consideration of the current rise in negative views on the otherness of people.

Many thanks to Michael Joseph, Laura Nicol and Natasha Bell for my proof copy of this stirring book, and the invitation to the blog tour. Please check out the other stops on the blog tour.

Purchase links:

https://uk.bookshop.org/a/6701/9780241448885

Please note these are affiliate links which mean if you buy the book from one of these links I will receive a few pennies from the organisations.

About the author:

NATASHA BELL grew up in Somerset and studied English Literature and Theatre at the University of York and Mount Holyoke College, before moving to Chicago to take an MA in the Humanities. Over-educated and entirely unemployable, she spent her twenties in York writing TV listings and working as a barista and a projectionist.

Her debut novel, His Perfect Wife was published in 2018. Natasha recently completed an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths and now writes full-time from her home in south-east London. She’s also currently working on a PhD in autofiction.

The Secrets of Meadow Farmhouse by Katie Ginger – Blog Tour/Book Review

About the book:

Escape to the countryside with a heart-warming new novel from Katie Ginger, author of Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage.

Amelia loves her life in Paris. But with the surprise inheritance of her childhood home, Meadow Farmhouse, she has no choice but to return to the small village of Meadowbank to restore her great-aunt’s old farmhouse. However returning to Meadowbank means she has to confront her past, including old flame Adam.

When Amelia discovers a locket hidden in the farmhouse, containing the picture of a mysterious World War Two soldier, she starts to uncover the secrets of her great-aunt’s past and is drawn further into village life. Shocked by the warm welcome from the villagers and her own surprising feelings for first love Adam, Amelia is suddenly confused as to where she truly belongs.

Can Amelia finally confront her own past and find where her heart truly calls home?

My Review:

This book was such an emotionally charged ‘return to roots’ story about Amelia returning to her Great Aunt Vera’s farmhouse after the death of her Great Aunt.

Amelia had lived in Paris after she left the farmhouse ten years earlier, following an argument with her Great Aunt Vera. With her life established in Paris, and a thriving interior design business, she has it fixed in her mind that she will sort out the farmhouse, get it on the market and return to Paris as soon as possible.

When Amelia arrives back in the village of Meadowbank she finds that some things have changed and some have remained constant. What she did not count on was finding that her first love Adam is there and unavoidable.

I loved Amelia as a protagonist. She showed immense strength but at the same time was open to her vulnerabilities. Although she was embarrassed by the way she had walked out of Adam’s life, it took her returning to the village to realise that she had been unable to separate her connection with him and with the village from the hurt she felt from the final conversation she had with Vera.

I loved the way in which Amelia put her hurt to one side and set out to uncover the mysteries surrounding Vera’s past, which resulted in her finding comfort and understanding.

When Amelia was taken ill I found it so touching that the whole village rallied round her, making sure she had her meals completely catered for. I would love to live in a community like that!

It was really touching to read the author’s note that this story found its origins within her own family history. This was such a lovely romance-led story with secrets to be uncovered and forgiveness to be sought. I really hope we get to return to Meadowbank again, it was such a comforting location.

Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources, HQ Digital and Katie Ginger for the invitation to take part in this blog tour. Happy Publication Day Katie!

Please do go and check out the other stops on the tour, listed below.

Purchasing Link:

https://amzn.to/2SIzxIU

About the author:

KATIE GINGER lives by the sea in the south-east of England, and apart from holidays to very hot places where you can sit by a pool and drink cocktails as big as your head, she wouldn’t really want to be anywhere else. The Secrets of Meadow Farmhouse  is her seventh novel. She is also the author of theSwallowtail Bayseries – Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay, Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay and Winter Wishes at Swallowtail Bay, Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage and the Seafront series – The Little Theatre on the Seafront, shortlisted for the Katie Fforde Debut Novel of the Year award, and Summer Season on the Seafront.

When she’s not writing, Katie spends her time with her husband and two kids, and their dogs: Wotsit, the King Charles spaniel, and Skips, the three-legged rescue dog. (And yes, they are both named after crisps!) For more about Katie, you can visit her website: www.keginger.com, find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/KatieGAuthor, or follow her on Twitter: @KatieGAuthor

The Village of Lost and Found by Alison Sherlock – Blog Tour/Book Review

About the book:

Scandal hit party girl Lucy Conway needs to leave London fast, so she packs her bags and escapes to the sleepy village of Cranbridge to take care of her beloved Uncle Frank.

But the country village isn’t quite as idyllic as she remembers. To make matters worse, her Uncle’s pride and joy, The Cranbridge Times, is close to going out of business.

Editor-at-Large Tom Addison is having a crisis of confidence and needs help if the newspaper is going to survive. 

With time on her hands, can Lucy work some magic and together save the family newspaper?
Over a long, hot summer, friendships are made and hearts begin to heal. And, with the help of a stray dog, perhaps Lucy and Tom can find their very own new beginning…

My Review:

I loved the return to Cranbridge in the second book in the Riverside Lane series by Alison Sherlock. The Village of Lost and Found features Tom, the editor of The Cranbridge Times who we saw briefly in the previous book. We also meet Lucy, the scandalous party girl granddaughter of Frank who owns the newspaper.

I enjoyed seeing more of Molly, Amber and Belle, who quickly become firm friends with Lucy. Please don’t think that you need to read the first book in the series (The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts), this book works perfectly as a standalone, although I would seriously recommend that you check out that book too!

As Lucy and Tom begin working together they both realise that they need to save the newspaper, but they also need to rally the community to save the village from the traffic a new and nearby quarry would create.

Everybody needs a Dodgy Del in their life, even if he can make the most innocuous event really explosive! The side characters really do bring the community together, and give it a lovely realness. The sense of community as the villagers rallied round the newspaper and the campaign to save the village from the quarry was very special and makes the community feel shine through in this beautiful series about such an idyllic Cotswold village.

I loved the way previously unloved dog Keith adopted Lucy and became her shadow in this book, I’m such a sucker for a dog in a book! I also love how Keith looks a little like a schnauzer on the cover!

This book was a soothing balm, a gentle romance in a perfect location, with friendships and community at its’ core, and with a flow as meandering and at ease as the river running through the village of Cranbridge.

Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources, Boldwood Books and Alison Sherlock for my invitation to take part in this blog tour.

Please check out the other stops on the blog tour, below.

Purchase Link:

https://amzn.to/2MC47nP

About the author:

Alison Sherlock is the author of the bestselling Willow Tree Hall books. Alison enjoyed reading and writing stories from an early age and gave up office life to follow her dream. Her new series for Boldwood is set in a fictional Cotswold Village and the first title was published in July 2020.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlisonSherlock

Newsletter Sign Up Link: http://bit.ly/AlisonSherlockSignup

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/alison-sherlock

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex – Blog Tour/Book Review

About the book:

They say we’ll never know what happened to those men.

They say the sea keeps its secrets…

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?

Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .

The Lamplighters is a heart-stopping mystery rich with the salty air of the Cornish coast, and an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.

My Review:

The Lamplighters was inspired by a real life mystery when in 1900 the three lighthouse keepers on the Flannan Isles lighthouse in the Outer Hebrides mysteriously disappeared, with many theories about what happened to them, even though no bodies were ever found.

This is a dual timeline novel set in 1972 in the run up to the disappearance of the three keepers on a lighthouse off the coast of Cornwall. We also return in 1992 to the three women who were left behind, in part being interviewed by a writer who intends to write a book about the disappearance.

I found the time spent on the lighthouse in 1972 to be atmospheric with a bleakness which is reflected in the personalities of the characters. There were inexplicable happenings, and moments which made more sense given the accounts in 1992.

As the book progresses we catch glimpses of secrets, some are revealed early in the story, tantalising and guiding us in the direction of the truth.

I felt so sure that I knew what had happened but when I reached that part of the book I audibly gasped because I had been so distracted by some of the secrets that it took me by complete surprise.

The Lamplighters is a book about mysteries, secrets, lies, deception, trust and betrayal that will keep you guessing. This stunning book is going to be one of my favourite reads of 2021.

Many thanks to Midas PR, Picador Books and Emma Stonex for the invitation to take part in this blog tour. Please check out the three photos below for the other stops on the tour!

About the author:

Emma Stonex is a novelist and The Lamplighters is her debut under her own name; she is the author of several books written under a pseudonym. Before becoming a writer, she worked as an editor at a major publishing house. She lives in Bristol with her husband and two young daughters.

Purchase Links:

https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-lamplighters/emma-stonex/2928377051488

Please note the Amazon link is an affiliate link.

The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger by Suzanne Fortin – Blog Tour/Book Review

About the book:

Sometimes the past won’t stay hidden, it demands to be uncovered…

Arthur Pettinger’s memory isn’t what it used to be. He can’t always remember the names of his grandchildren, where he lives or which way round his slippers go. He does remember Maryse though, a woman he hasn’t seen for decades, but whose face he will never forget.

When Arthur’s granddaughter, Maddy moves in along with her daughter Esther, it’s her first step towards pulling her life back together. But when Esther makes a video with Arthur, the hunt for the mysterious Maryse goes viral.

There’s only one person who can help Maddy track down this woman – the one that got away, Joe. Their quest takes them to France, and into the heart of the French Resistance.

When the only way to move forwards is to look back, will this family finally be able to?

My Review:

This novel is a poignant tale of lost love and forgotten moments, which will touch your heart. It is a dual timeline book set in 1940s France and the present day. and told from the perspective of Arthur in the 1940s after he is parachuted into occupied France to assist the resistance, Arthur in the present, struggling to put his fragmented memory in place due to his dementia, and Maddy, Arthur’s granddaughter who moves in with him together with her young daughter Esther to help him remain in his home and to provide some stability for him.

I completely fell for Arthur and Maryse in the events that took place in the 1940s. The scene was set so perfectly that I felt completely immersed in the tense position that they were living in.

I found the scenes with Maddy and Arthur in the present very accurate and moving, having personally experienced close relatives with dementia. I loved the patience that both Maddy and Esther had with their ‘Gramps’ but empathised completely with the struggles they had too.

The mystery surrounding the relationship that Arthur had with Maryse was a gently flowing theme throughout the story and I enjoyed the way in which the mystery was unravelled to reach a conclusion that was both joyful and poignant.

This was such a special book in which love is shown in many forms, from the love for parents and grandparents to the love that can be experienced out of the need to be responsible for the protection of others, to the love between couples however smooth or complicated that may be. The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger is a beautiful story that I will not forget.

Many thanks to Vicky Joss and Aria Fiction, together with Suzanne Fortin, for the invitation to take part in this blog tour. Please check out the other stops on the blog tour!

Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/30cEei1

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3aOm0cG

Google Play: https://bit.ly/3aM4yWr

iBooks: https://apple.co/3aL6IWd

About the author:

Suzanne Fortin is a USA Today and Amazon UK & USA best selling author, with The Girl Who Lied and Sister Sister both reaching #1 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Her books have sold over a million copies and translation rights for her novels have been sold worldwide. She was born in Hertfordshire but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex where she now lives with her husband and family.

Follow the author:

Twitter: @suefortin1

Facebook: @suefortinauthor

Instagram: @sue_fortin

Follow Aria:

Twitter: @Aria_Fiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

Facebook: @Ariafiction

Website: http://www.headofzeus.com

Cover Reveal! Damage by Caitlin Wahrer

I am so happy to be able to share with you the cover reveal for this exciting debut novel Damage by Caitlin Wahrer, and published by Michael Joseph.

Let me tell you more.

About the book:

ONE NIGHT. ONE CRIME. ONE FAMILY TORN APART.


TONY has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when Nick is badly hurt and it looks like he was the victim of sexual assault, Tony’s anger flares.

JULIA is alarmed by her husband Tony’s obsession with Nick’s case. She’s always known Tony has a temper. But does she really know what he’s capable of?

NICK went out for a drink. After that, everything’s a blank. When he woke up he found himself in a world of confusion and pain, and the
man who hurt him doesn’t deny doing it. But he says the whole thing was consensual.

Three ordinary people; one life-shattering event. When the police get involved with this family in crisis, all the cracks will start to show…

Set to ignite debate and as gripping as your favourite box-set, Damage is a compulsive drama from an extraordinary new writer.

You can request DAMAGE NOW on Netgalley: http://bit.ly/Review_Damage

Preorder Links:

Amazon:  https://bit.ly/Damage_HB   

Waterstones: https://bit.ly/Damage_ws

AND NOW FOR THE COVER REVEAL:

I’m sure you’ll agree that this sounds like a very exciting debut novel! Damage by Caitlin Wahrer will be published by Michael Joseph Books in July 2021.

If I Fall by Merilyn Davies – Blog Tour/Book Review

About the book:

We were told to meet at a rooftop bar.

Four friends, bound by one terrible secret.

No one knew why we were there.

Then we saw a woman, watched as she fell from the edge and plunged to her death.

The police think it’s suicide, but I know better.

Someone is sending a message.

Now they’re coming for us.

My Review:

This book made me so happy. Having loved Merilyn Davies’ debut novel ‘When I Lost You’, and the fabulous characters of DS Nell Jackson and civilian crime analyst Carla Brown, I couldn’t wait for the second book in the series. Please don’t think that you can’t read If I Fall if you have not already read When I Lost You, because there is just enough information to explain what they experienced prior to the setting of the second book. It can be absolutely read as a standalone, but because When I Lost You was so good, I would certainly recommend that you read it.

Starting a short time after the end of When I Lost You, we are immediately launched into a dramatic setting where crime analyst Carla Brown is witness to what on the surface looks like a suicide. Is everything what it seems? Carla has such brilliant instincts when it comes to analysis, and a dogged determination which really makes her a force to be reckoned with. Nell is very different to Carla, but just as determined when it comes to getting to the crux of an issue, and solving a crime. I really loved the fact that Carla witnessed the suicide, and was there to pick up on the relevance of some of the other witnesses namely a group of friends who were attending a reunion party and appear to know the woman who died. As a police procedural story I really felt that having Carla present when the suicide occurred was a completely fresh approach, and it promptly launched me into the middle of a story that I could not put down once I had started it.

There were so many twists and turns in this story that I felt wrong-footed several times when I thought I had worked it out, only to find that I was completely wrong, having been misguided by Merilyn Davies’ skillful storytelling. I know the word ‘unputdownable’, which if I’m honest is a word that makes me feel uneasy because of its informal nature, is a word often bandied around in book reviews, but If I Fall was a book I was unable to put down once I started it, and therefore it really was ‘unputdownable’!

This book as well as dealing with suicide also considers the situation for the many homeless people living on the streets of Oxford, generally considered a fairly affluent location, but it also considers another darker issue, which is bizarre in this day and age, but which is sadly still an issue even in a progressive society and which I am loath to spoil for you, so sorry, no spoiler from me! The story is told from the perspective of not only Carla and Nell, but also from Rachel, who is the wife of one of the friends.

I love the crime thriller element of this story, because it was so difficult to work out who the victims would be, but I think what this book does compared to other police procedural stories, is show an aspect of the investigation which is rarely considered, that of the role of the crime analyst, and the tools they use to help the detectives get to the resolution of the case. Having worked in analytical jobs, and having worked with former crime analysts I find it fascinating to see that side of policing, so I love the character of Carla, and love following her through the story. Merilyn Davies is the perfect writer to approach a police procedural thriller in this way, given that she is a former crime analyst herself, and this is what is now a must-read series of books for me.

I find the style of writing so vibrant that I can picture everything in my mind’s eye, and as much as I would love to see these books transferred to a television drama, I am eagerly awaiting what will happen with Nell and Carla next!

Many thanks to Lydia Spooner and Arrow Publishing for my copy of If I Fall by Merilyn Davies which I received in exchange for an honest review and participation in this blog tour. Please head over to the other stops along on the tour.

Purchase Link:

If I Fall will be released in eBook on 1st March 2021, with the paperback released on 4th March 2021.

Please note this link is my affiliate link, so if you buy a copy of this amazing book I will receive a few pennies.

The Beautiful Spy by Rachel Hore – Blog Tour/Book Review

About the book:

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of Last Letter Home, a Richard & Judy Book Club pick, comes a thrilling novel about a woman with an extraordinary life, based on a true story.

Minnie Gray is an ordinary young woman. She is also a spy for the British government.

It all began in the summer of 1928…

Minnie is supposed to find a nice man, get married and have children. The problem is it doesn’t appeal to her at all. She is working as a secretary, but longs to make a difference. Then, one day, she gets her chance. She is recruited by the British government as a spy. Under strict instructions not to tell anyone, not even her family, she moves to London and begins her mission – to infiltrate the Communist movement.

She soon gains the trust of important leaders. But as she grows more and more entangled in the workings of the movement, her job becomes increasingly dangerous. Leading a double life is starting to take its toll on her relationships and, feeling more isolated than ever, she starts to wonder how this is all going to end. The Russians are notorious for ruthlessly disposing of people given the slightest suspicion. What if they find out? Full of suspense, courage and love,

A Beautiful Spy is a stunningly written story about resisting the norm and following your dreams, even if they come with sacrifices.

My Review:

I often find myself drawn to spy stories and in particular stories which are loosely based on true stories. A Beautiful Spy by Rachel Hore, is set in the pre-World War II years, when there were concerns not only about the rise of the Nationalists in Germany, but also with the rise of the Communist Party in Russia, but also in Great Britain.

I loved how intrepid Minnie was, inspired by the excitement and intrigue of assisting the government in a time of great political change, but I also enjoyed how it was a glimpse into the darker aspects of living a double life. Our understanding of spies is usually all about the glamour and excitement, but as we see with Minnie, the darker side of spying was that Minnie felt constant fear of being found out, and dealt with by the Communists. It was normal for women to follow the usual route of marriage and babies, but Minnie was not like the other women, and wanted something more for herself. The strain living a double life caused on Minnie’s private life, and the loneliness she experienced certainly made it seem like there was a very high price to pay for all the excitement. There were moments when my heart broke for Minnie because of how alone she was made to feel, with little to no guidance or support, particularly when she was abroad. There were moments where Minnie was conflicted between her duty to her government, and the friendships she inevitably gained during her infiltration of the Communist Party.

This was such a dramatic story, even more so because it was based on a true story. It was a story of spies, intrigue, and finding the balance between real life, and a life created in order to spy on those under suspicion.

Many thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours, Simon & Schuster and Rachel Hore for the invitation to take part in this blog tour. Please check out the other stops on the blog tour below.

Purchase link:

About the author:

Rachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she taught publishing and creative writing at the University of East Anglia before becoming a full-time writer. She is married to the writer D. J. Taylor and they have three sons. Her last novel, The Love Child, was a Sunday Times bestseller.

Social Media Links:

http://www.rachelhore.com

Twitter: @RachelHore

Instagram:@Rachel.Hore