Saturday, 27 August 2016

Book tour: The Secret Wife - Gill Paul


A Russian grand duchess and an English journalist. Linked by one of the world’s greatest mysteries . . .

Love. Guilt. Heartbreak.

Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance – and their lives – in danger . . .

Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather’s remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation makes her flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jewelled pendant that will lead her to a long-buried family secret . . .

Haunting, moving and beautifully written, The Secret Wife effortlessly crosses centuries, as past merges with present in an unforgettable story of love, loss and resilience.

My opinion.
Both the cover and blurb immediately drew me to this book. Although I must add to this that the history element of this story outweighed the present day story-line for me, and I therefore would have loved to see a cover that hinted to that part of the book. 
But what a stunning, gorgeous read The Secret Wife is! One of history's most fascinating families, forever surrounded by mystery and legend, is the Romanov family. I for one have been fascinated by them since the animation movie Anastasia, and Gill Paul only intensified my interest in this piece of history. I also love that The Secret Wife focuses on Tatiana, instead of Anastasia or Alexei - the more obvious choices for a Romanov-novel.
With The Secret Wife being an historical novel based on actual events and people, knowing the course of history did ofcourse influence the reading experience. But for some reason I think knowing part of the outcome made me even more addicted to this story.
The character's emotions were so tangible I couldn't put the book down and even when I wasn't reading, the story still played on my mind. 
I very much preferred the first half of the story (the "Russian" part), but when all the pieces of the puzzle started falling into place near the end of the book, I had shivers and goosebumps all over. Only when the story ended I realized that I still hadn't been able to step away from this book.
I didn't feel as strong a connection to the part of the story set in the present day, but even Kitty's devotion - both to the cabin and uncovering the past - was therapeutic and addictive in some way.
The perfect conclusion to this stunning read, to me, was the historical afterword.



Saturday, 20 August 2016

Book tour: The Irish Inheritance - M.J. Lee (#1 Jayne Sinclair)

June 8, 1921. Ireland. 
A British Officer is shot dead on a remote hillside south of Dublin.

November 22, 2015. United Kingdom. 
Former police detective, Jayne Sinclair, now working as a genealogical investigator, receives a phone call from an adopted American billionaire asking her to discover the identity of his real father.

How are the two events linked?

Jayne Sinclair has only three clues to help her: a photocopied birth certificate, a stolen book and an old photograph. And it soon becomes apparent somebody else is on the trail of the mystery. A killer who will stop at nothing to prevent Jayne discovering the secret hidden in the past 
The Irish Inheritance takes us through the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence, combining a search for the truth of the past with all the tension of a modern-day thriller.

It is the first in a series of novels featuring Jayne Sinclair, genealogical detective.

My opinion.
I’ve been a history geek for as long as I can remember and I’ve always enjoyed learning more about it through (historical) fiction. And The Irish Inheritance did exactly that. The Irish Revolution or the Easter Rising weren’t things I was particularly familiar with. M J Lee however took me on a journey with this book, transporting me straight into the heath of things, giving his reader a wonderful glimpse of the past thanks to detailed and rich writing throughout.
The story itself was full of unexpected twists and turns and kept me on the edge of my seat. The detective side mixed with history made for a new, unique and exciting cocktail. I truly enjoyed reading The Irish Inheritance and I’ll be on the lookout for more by M J Lee.


Author bio: Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.
He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.
Whilst working in Shanghai, he loved walking through the old quarter of that amazing city, developing the idea behind a series of crime novels featuring Inspector Pyotr Danilov, set in 1920s and 30s.When he's not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, practicing downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.

Author links:


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Book review: From the Sideline - Amy Avanzino (Wake Up Call #2)

After losing her marriage, life savings, and waistline, Autumn Kovac is terrified of being hit by more heartache. So when her only child decides to try out for the football team, the overprotective, sports-illiterate mom has a near phobic reaction. But Zachary hasn’t smiled since his father left, and she’s desperate to make him happy (and doing nothing and hoping for the best hasn’t been working). She reluctantly enters a new world of youth competitive sports, full of overzealous coaches with Vince Lombardi dreams and fanatical parents trying to achieve vicarious glory. 

Unexpectedly, Autumn begins transforming within this strangely addictive new culture, finding her voice, facing her past, tackling her fears…and uncovering the secret that’s been keeping her from her son. After meeting her ideal catch, she finds herself back in the dating game and discovers some fierce competition of her own. Will Autumn make it off the sideline? Can the underdog finally win? 

My opinion.
What a treat From The Sideline was. I truly enjoyed reading this second installment in Amy Avanzino's Wake Up Call series. Belgium is not particularly known for their football knowledge, since our "football" is the "soccer" kind of football. At the start of the story therefore, I knew as much - or maybe even less - than Autumn did about this game.
With Autumn however Amy wrote one of the most relatable characters I've been introduced to in a while. Apart from her anxiety, there's not much we have in common, but for some reason I just understood her, which made her a perfect main character. I loved seeing both Autumn and Zachary grow. Both their relationship and their individual journeys were emotional to say the least and I teared up quite a few times reading this.
The connection I felt with Autumn also made it easy to get caught up in her growing interest in and joy for the game, and Amy's writing was so contagious I felt myself cheering 'Zeke' and his team on. A joy to read.