Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Emma's Review: Into the Burning Dawn by Natalie Meg Evans

 Reviewed by Emma Crowley 

Twenty-one-year-old Imogen Fitzpatrick was raised in an English orphanage and never knew her parents. So when World War Two breaks out, she refuses to leave the life she’s worked so hard to build for herself, teaching English to little Marco and Eloisa in the beautiful Italian city of Naples. With their father Giancarlo away fighting for the fascists, there’s no one else to care for these lost children. Imogen’s dark hair and perfect Italian will protect her for now, but if anyone discovers her secret identity as an enemy of Italy, Marco and Eloisa will be left with no one.

As the shadows of bomber planes darken the azure-blue waters of the bay, the one person Imogen can depend on is Fabrizio, the children’s uncle. He’s never seen eye-to-eye with their father, and Imogen is forbidden to speak to him… but whenever they secretly meet in the lemon groves Imogen instantly feels safe. Fabrizio talks passionately of the resistenza, the underground group fighting the regime, and soon Imogen herself is involved – smuggling food along the rocky coast, and even supplying information on Giancarlo to help fight the Nazis and end this awful war.

But when Giancarlo suddenly returns, injured from the fighting, Imogen is shocked to find him much changed. Rather than the fascist sympathiser she knew and resented, she sees in Giancarlo a man who would do anything to protect his children and his beloved Italy. Was she wrong to expose him as a traitor?

Torn between two sides, Imogen’s own life is thrown into terrible danger when a child goes missing and her secret identity is exposed… did she put her trust in the wrong man? And is it too late to save herself, and the children from the horrors of war?

Amazon Links: Kindle or Paperback

Thursday, 17 September 2020

The Write Stuff with... Helen Matthews

Today it's my pleasure to welcome author Helen Matthews to the blog to join in the publication day celebrations of her latest book Facade.

Lessons from Lockdown: to Zoom or not to Zoom

I’m writing this piece some weeks before it’s due to appear on Sharon’s blog and the UK is emerging from the strictest part of lockdown. For a while now, we’ve been going back outside, blinking in the light. It’s my fervent hope that there won’t be a second spike and, when you read this, we’ll be beating a path back to normality and rebuilding our shattered economy.

But let’s wind back time to 23rd March when the country went into lockdown. As I recall, we spent the first few days in a state of collective shell shock. Would flour and fresh vegetables ever reappear on the supermarket shelves? How would we cope without loo paper? We reached out to friends and family in long phone calls and emails, knowing it might be months before we could meet in real life.

Being human, we needed a visual connection. Groping our way from isolation, we tried Facetime, WhatsApp video and Skype. A friend, who has been studying for an online degree, told us about Zoom. Her university had been using it for tutorials and seminars. We decided to give it a go. I like to think we were early adopters. I’ve been zooming ever since.

Those early days of Zoom were pure chaos. Comedian, Michael McIntyre posted a clip of zoomers looking smart above the waist while wearing baggy boxers on their nether regions. He mentioned how every conversation started with: ‘Can you hear me? Turn your microphone on? It’s in the bottom left hand corner,’ and managed to make it sound funny. It wasn’t.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Emma's Review: The Runaway Sisters by Ann Bennett

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Devon, 1940: When fifteen-year-old Daisy is evacuated from her home in London, she knows she must look after her younger sister Peggy. She is the only one who can reassure Peggy that life will go back to normal, holding her close and reading to her from their one battered children’s book.

But when the sisters are taken into the countryside, Daisy quickly realises that not everyone at home is on the right side of the war. Forced to work in fields alongside orphan children, she finds herself drawn to a young boy called John, who has tried and failed to escape many times before. He protects the other children, and his bravery inspires Daisy.

Then Peggy gets sick and Daisy knows that, to save her life, they must run away. But now Peggy is not the only one Daisy is desperate to protect. As the sounds of German engines grow louder above her, Daisy is faced with an impossible choice: escape with just her sister, or risk her life to save others?

Amazon Links: Kindle or Paperback

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Emma's Review: Secrets of the Railway Girls by Maisie Thomas

 Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Manchester, November 1940

As the war continues and secrets threaten the railway girls, they will discover the true meaning of friendship.

For Dot, her job on the railways is everything. Transporting parcels around the country gives her pride that she is doing her bit for the war effort, but a growing friendship causes problems when home and work collide.

Joan loves her boyfriend Bob dearly, but when tragedy strikes, her heart is torn apart, and she is forced to make a decision that could hurt those she loves most.

Meanwhile Mabel has finally found a place to call home and her relationship seems to be going from strength to strength. However, the relentless bombing in the Christmas blitz is about to destroy everything she holds dear, and she will need her friends’ courage and generosity now more than ever.

Amazon Links: Kindle or Paperback

Friday, 11 September 2020

Emma's Review: The Wartime Nanny by Lizzie Page

 Reviewed by Emma Crowley

The Nazis are everywhere now. We must leave Vienna. It might be that soon our letters won’t get out anymore. Can you help, dear sister? Please, ask for us. Send news, and quickly. Please.

London, 1938. Sixteen-year-old Natalie Leeman takes the heart-breaking decision to leave her family behind in Vienna and travel to England to join her cousin Leah in service. Natalie is placed with a wealthy suburban family, the Caplins, as a nanny to their energetic six-year-old.

At first, Natalie is delighted by the huge house and beautiful gardens, but things aren’t as perfect as they seem. While Natalie dotes on their child, she is increasingly wary of Mr Caplin, whose gruff manor and fascist politics scare her. And then there are those still waiting at home – Mama and her two sisters, as well as a blossoming romance with her English tutor that had only just begun.

But when Vienna falls under Nazi rule, Natalie begins to fear for her family, especially her vivacious, tomboy little sister Libby. Then rumours of a possible escape route from mainland Europe called the kindertransport begin to swirl – can Natalie help her family escape the Nazis before it’s too late?

Amazon Links: Kindle or Paperback