Guest Review – Wolfsangel – Liza Perrat

 

Wolfsangel

Wolfsangel

Liza Perrat

Perrat Publishing

ISBN: 9782954168128

Description:

Seven decades after German troops march into her village, Céleste Roussel is still unable to assuage her guilt.

  1. German soldiers occupy provincial Lucie-sur-Vionne, and as the villagers pursue treacherous schemes to deceive and swindle the enemy, Céleste embarks on her own perilous mission as her passion for a Reich officer flourishes.

When her loved ones are deported to concentration camps, Céleste is drawn into the vortex of this monumental conflict, and the adventure and danger of French Resistance collaboration.

As she confronts the harrowing truths of the Second World War’s darkest years, Céleste is forced to choose: pursue her love for the German officer, or answer General de Gaulle’s call to fight for France.

Her fate suspended on the fraying thread of her will, Celeste gains strength from the angel talisman bequeathed to her through her lineage of healer kinswomen. But the decision she makes will shadow the remainder of her days.

A woman’s unforgettable journey to help liberate Occupied France, Wolfsangel is a stirring portrayal of the courage and resilience of the human mind, body and spirit.

 

Brenda’s Review:

The happiness that Céleste Roussel had taken for granted with her family on their farm had disappeared with the occupation of their small village of Lucie-sur-Vionne by German soldiers. Her father had been taken to a labour camp early in the occupation, so running the farm was left to Céleste, her mother and brother Patrick. He and his best friend Olivier quickly became part of the French Resistance, doing all they could to drive the Boche from their lives.

Céleste soon took the eye of a certain German officer, and found her feelings reciprocated. She knew it was wrong – the hatred felt toward the Boche was in them all. Her determination to assist the Resistance saw her embark on dangerous missions; all the while keeping her secret life hidden from all but a few. But the arrest and deportation of family members was the beginning of the end. Would the angel talisman which had been with generations of her family’s women, and now belonged to Céleste keep her safe? Would she ever see her family again?

Wolfsangel by Aussie author Liza Perrat is absolutely outstanding! The second in the Bone Angel series, nevertheless it can be read as a standalone. The Author’s Note at the end of the book was extremely interesting and shows, though it is complete fiction, Wolfsangel is based on a factual event which occurred on 10th June 1944. I didn’t think I could hear of more shocking atrocities committed by the Germans in WWII, but it seems I now have! Brilliantly written, and highly recommended. A 5 star read which will be in my top reads for 2018.

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Guest Review: The Last Train – Sue Lawrence

The Last Train

The Last Train

Sue Lawrence

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760630867

 

Description:

At 7 p.m. on 28 December 1879, a violent storm batters the newly built iron rail bridge across the River Tay, close to the city of Dundee. Ann Craig is waiting for her husband, the owner of the largest local mill, to return home. From her window Ann sees a strange and terrible sight as the bridge collapses, and the lights of the train in which he is travelling plough down into the freezing river waters.

As Ann manages the grief and expectations of family and friends, amid a town mourning its loved ones, doubt is cast on whether Robert was on the train, after all. If not, where is he, and who is the mysterious woman who is first to be washed ashore?

In 2015, Fiona Craig wakes to find that her partner Pete, an Australian restaurateur, has cleared the couple’s bank account before abandoning his car at the local airport and disappearing. When the police discover his car is stolen, Fiona conducts her own investigation into Pete’s background, slowly uncovering dark secrets and strange parallels with the events of 1879.

 

Brenda’s Review:

What an outstanding opening! Ann Craig and her two children, Lizzie and James, were watching the storm through the window of their home in Dundee. They were also watching for husband and father, Robert Craig’s train to arrive – due at 7pm it would travel over the River Tay on the newly built rail bridge. The storm was a vicious, violent one – the lights of the train showed its imminent arrival, when suddenly those lights dipped and vanished as the bridge collapsed…

28th December 1879 was the night of the disaster on the River Tay, when many lives were lost. Ann and her children were steeped in grief, along with the whole town – trying to come to terms with the enormity of the catastrophe encompassed them all.

2015 and Fiona Craig was shocked to discover her partner of three years had disappeared; clearing out her savings account and abandoning his car at the airport. Pete was an Australian restaurateur and it seemed the upcoming review of his restaurant had spooked him. But why? Fiona had no idea – and her son Jamie was devastated by Pete’s disappearance.

As Fiona searched for answers about Pete, she also began an investigation into the accident over the River Tay all those years before. Her interest was initially for her job but gradually she was immersed in the past. What was the connection to her family? It seemed there were secrets everywhere…

The Last Train by Sue Lawrence is an excellent read! I thoroughly enjoyed it – set in two-time frames and told by Ann in 1879 and Fiona in 2015, I was totally engrossed. Subterfuge, intrigue, mystery and deceit – all rippled through The Last Train. Ann wasn’t a nice person! But she loved her children 😊 Highly recommended – a 5 star read.

With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my hardcopy to read and review.

Guest Review: One More Song – Nicki Edwards

One More Song

One More Song

Nicki Edwards

Pan Macmillan

ISBN: 9781760551407

 

Description:

Harrison Baxter and Edwina Campbell lead completely different lives.

Much has changed for Harry since he escaped his home town of Yallambah ten years ago, headed for the bright lights of the big city. Now he’s the star of Melbourne’s hottest musical, chasing only the next standing ovation. Why bother going back to Yallambah to visit his parents when his father couldn’t care less about his success?

Meanwhile, nothing much has changed for Edwina in the last decade, which is exactly how she likes it. Eddie adores her career as a nurse and loves the Yallambah community – she can’t imagine living anywhere else. And even if she wanted to, she could never leave her beloved grandparents, who raised her and love her like their own daughter. She’s not going to abandon them in their old age. Not for anything.

So when Harry and Eddie bump into each other on one of Harry’s flying visits home, their instant mutual attraction seems as pointless as it is intense. There’s no way they could ever make it work.

Or is there?

 

Brenda’s Review:

Harrison Baxter revelled in his life – musical theatre meant everything to him and his lead role in Les Mis was a dream come true. The Sydney season was coming to an end and he and the crew would begin in Melbourne in the New Year. In the meantime, Harry was heading home to Yallamba for Christmas. His mother, father, sister Claire and husband Simon, plus their two children had always lived in his old home town, but the bitterness between Harry and his dad was what had kept him away for so long. He wasn’t looking forward to the week-long stay…

Edwina Campbell – nurse; volunteer with the SES – had offered to take over the organising of the children’s Christmas party which her Nan had always done, as she was in hospital following a hip replacement. Her grandad was with her Nan, so Eddie was alone at the farm. As things started to go wrong – one after another – Eddie didn’t know how she would manage. But the arrival on the scene of Harry, with his offer of help, was a lifesaver for Eddie. Maybe their Christmas party would be a success after all?

But would the flush of attraction between Eddie and Harry ever come to anything? When tragedy and heartache loomed, it seemed to be over before it began. As the town of Yallamba rallied, uncertainty was high. What would be the future for these caring, special people in the small town of Yallamba?

One More Song by Aussie author Nicki Edwards was absolutely superb! Filled with heartache, hope, happiness and sadness; of loss, the loyalty of family and most of all, of life, One More Song ticks all the boxes. Wonderfully rounded characters, I especially enjoyed Eddie – written with compassion, caring and sensitivity, the author has written her best yet in my opinion. A highly recommended 5 stars.

With thanks to Pan Macmillan for my uncorrected proof to read and review.

Guest Review – Suddenly One Summer – Fleur McDonald

Suddenly One Summer

Suddenly One Summer

Fleur McDonald

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760293956

Description:

When Brianna Donahue was three years old, her mother mysteriously disappeared while farming in Merriwell Bay, Western Australia. Committed to the family’s farm, Brianna works the same land with her father, while raising her two children as her husband works as a fly-in fly-out lawyer in Perth. One scorching summer’s morning, her son Trent goes missing and, while frantically searching for him, Brianna must come to terms with the fact that her marriage has large cracks in it.

Over two thousand kilometres away in South Australia, Detective Burrows receives a phone call reporting stolen sheep from an elderly farmer. It becomes clear that Guy has early signs of dementia and Dave becomes intrigued with his family history. Was there a child, or was there not? No one seems to know.

While trying to save her marriage and battling the threat of bushfires back in Merriwell Bay, Brianna is faced with challenges: her father’s new girlfriend, who on the surface seems pleasant, seems to have a hidden agenda; Trent is having nightmares, triggered by his accident; and Beau, her youngest, is afraid to let her out of his sight.

So how will Dave’s investigation impact Brianna’s world?

Suspenseful and incendiary, Suddenly One Summer is an intriguing and heartfelt story of the unlikely connections of life on the land.

 

Brenda’s Review:

The pre-dawn hours were already hot in the Merriwell Bay area of Western Australia when Brianna Donahue rose from her bed. The boys were still asleep – eight-year-old Trent and six-year-old Beau were called The Terrors for obvious reasons, so to have some quiet time was special, especially as it was Brianna’s birthday. Her husband Caleb had already left to head for Perth – he was a lawyer and only managed a couple of days home now and then. And he’d forgotten her birthday as well…

After checking the stock, Brianna was surprised to find Trent’s bed empty – Beau was up but there was no sign of her eldest. On checking the obvious places, Brianna went into panic mode – her father, Russell was on the adjoining farm and he immediately rallied the local farmers to start a search. The day was going to be a scorcher; with the threat of bushfires, the relentless heat and thunderstorms heading their way Trent needed to be found quickly.

Detective Dave Burrows was one of two policemen in charge of the small rural town of Barker in South Australia. Crime wasn’t heavy in the area, though farmers often had tools and other implements stolen, so when an elderly farmer, Guy Wood, called the station to report three hundred head of stock missing, Dave and Jack headed out there straight away. But Dave could see there was something not quite right at the old man’s property. His gut instinct told him there was a mystery to solve and he was going to give it his best shot.

Dave in South Australia; Brianna in Western Australia – they’d never met; didn’t know each other existed. So how were they connected? How would the course of the lives of two complete strangers intercept?

Suddenly One Summer is a fast-paced, intensely gripping romantic suspense novel by Aussie author Fleur McDonald which I flew through and absolutely loved! The tension in two different states, with two completely different situations was done extremely well. I have to say, I think Suddenly One Summer is this author’s best work to date! Highly recommended.

With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my ARC to read and review – 5 stars.

Guest Review- Thirst – L A Larkin

Thirst

Thirst

L.A. Larkin

Constable

ISBN: 9781472125897

Description:

Antarctica is the coldest, most isolated place on earth. Luke Searle, maverick glaciologist, has made it his home. But soon his survival skills will be tested to the limit by a ruthless mercenary who must win at any cost. The white continent is under attack. The Australian team is being hunted down. Can Luke stay alive long enough to raise the alarm? Can he avert a global catastrophe?

The countdown has begun. T minus 5 days, 2 hours and 53 minutes …

 

Brenda’s Review:

Mac and Dave were in the throes of packing up at the crevasse where they’d been working – they were looking forward to getting back to Hope Station, the Australian base. Winter was settling in and most of the engineers and scientists had left Antarctica for the season; there would only be eight of them left on base for the duration…

Luke Searle had lived on the base for around seven years, going home to Melbourne only occasionally. He loved the research; as a glaciologist he could appreciate the beauty of the ice and the colours of the glaciers. But he respected the countryside as well – fully aware of how dangerous it could be. Maddie was team leader and though she and Luke clashed at times – usually over his stubborn refusal to obey orders – he respected her ability to lead.

But the suddenness of the attack; the brutality of what happened had him filled with terror. What was happening? As the team tried desperately to escape the looming danger, Luke wondered if any of them would survive.

With full-on intense action from the very first page, Thirst by Aussie author L.A. Larkin is a thoroughly enjoyable thriller. Fast paced, riveting and filled with the evil of man, the setting of Antarctica was unique and interesting, while the two main characters, Luke and Maddie set the tone well. Highly recommended – 5 stars.

Guest Review: Under the Same Sky – Mojgan Shamsalipoor, Milad Jafari, James Knight

Under the Same Sky

Under the Same Sky

Mojgan Shamsalipoor, Milad Jafari, James Knight

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733637827

 

Description:

An unforgettable story of love, hope and a fight for freedom.

At seventeen, Mojgan Shamsalipoor wanted to be safe from abuse, go to school and eventually marry for love. In Iran, she was denied all of this..

Milad Jafari was a shy teenage by who found his voice as a musician. But the music he loved was illegal in his country. Milad’s father – a key-maker, builder and shopkeeper – wanted his family to live free from the fear of arrest,imprisonment or execution. To do that, they all had to flee Iran.

Mojgan and Milad met in Australia. But in the months between their separate sea voyages, the Australian government changed the way asylum seekers were treated. Though Milad is recognised as a refugee and will soon become a proud Australian citizen, Mojgan has been told she cannot stay here even though the threat of imprisonment and further abuse, or worse, means she can’t return to Iran. This is their story.

Under the Same Sky is a powerful insight into the human face of asylum seekers and the way history has shaped the lives of these two young people. It also shows the compassion found in our suburbs. For Mojgan and Milad, love keeps their hopes alive.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Mojgan Shamsalipoor grew up in Iran with her mother and siblings. She was a happy child, full of fun and laughter, but as she grew to teenage years, things changed for her and the family. When her mother re-married, ostensibly to give Mojgan a better life, things became much worse. Mojgan and her brother Hossein eventually fled to Australia, with the blessing of their mother, in the hopes of a better life.

Milad Jafari was painfully shy until he found music through a friend. But music was illegal in Iran and could even result in the perpetrator being put to death. Milad’s father was a hard-working man who adored his wife and children. He wanted the best for them; their happiness and safety was paramount – they couldn’t have that in Iran; the plan to flee their home country happened quickly.

When Milad and Mojgan eventually met, Milad had been in Australia for some time. He and his family had been granted refugee status and could work and live peacefully. But Mojgan and Hossein weren’t so lucky. Time and time again, their applications were denied until Hossein was re-detained, and then Mojgan – but they were not together. Hossein was in Darwin and Mojgan was in Brisbane. The constant threat of being unable to stay in Australia – of having to return to Iran where they would be punished, more than likely executed, was too much for the siblings to bear.

Milad and Mojgan’s love for each other, and Milad’s determination to do everything he could for her kept their hopes alive. But against the immigration laws and the government’s decisions, their worries were many. What will be the final decision for Mojgan and Hossein?

Under the Same Sky is a traumatic, emotional and heartbreaking look at the fight for freedom by the Shamsalipoor siblings; also, the compassion and kindness of strangers who found themselves in the paths of these two young people. Milad’s kind and caring nature toward the woman he loves; his parents’ acceptance of Mojgan and their desire to help; even the teachers at Mojgan’s school, in particular Miss Jessica – but would it be enough? Under the Same Sky is written by Mojgan and Milad, with the assistance of James Knight who has done an exceptional job. I have no hesitation in highly recommending Under the Same Sky which I think is a very important, even critical read. 5 stars!

 

Guest Review – The Choke – Sofie Laguna

The Choke

The Choke

Sofie Laguna

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760297244

 

Description:

A mesmerising, harrowing and ultimately uplifting novel from the 2015 Miles Franklin winner.

Abandoned by her mother as a toddler and only occasionally visited by her volatile father who keeps dangerous secrets, Justine is raised solely by her Pop, an old man tormented by visions of the Burma Railway. Justine finds sanctuary in Pop’s chooks and The Choke, where the banks of the Murray River are so narrow they can almost touch—a place of staggering natural beauty that is both a source of peace and danger. Although Justine doesn’t know it, her father is a menacing criminal and the world she is exposed to is one of great peril to her. She has to make sense of it on her own—and when she eventually does, she knows what she has to do.

A brilliant, haunting novel about a child navigating an often dark and uncaring world of male power, guns and violence, in which grown-ups can’t be trusted and comfort can only be found in nature, The Choke is a compassionate and claustrophobic vision of a child in danger and a society in deep trouble. It once again showcases the Miles Franklin Award-winning author as a writer of rare empathy, originality and blazing talent.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Justine lived with her Pop as her father, Ray, was rarely around. Her mother had left when she was three years old having never recovered, both physically and mentally, from Justine’s birth. Pop’s shack near the banks of the Murray River where he and Justine spent their days was barely liveable – Pop had survived the war, but his memories of the Burma Railway and his part in the building of it, were forever in his mind.

Justine had two half-brothers – Steve and Kirk – and while they were young, they spent their days together, doing what kids all over did. The Choke where the Murray’s banks were closest was a site of great entertainment; Pop’s girls, the chooks, took Justine’s attention as she collected the eggs. But as she grew up, things changed. And at thirteen, Justine’s gentle, quiet and unassuming life would change forever…

The Choke by Aussie author Sofie Laguna is an emotional, dark and unsettling novel which will break your heart and give you hope all at the same time. Justine is a naïve young girl, with no-one around her but men, both old and young – no-one to explain about life to her. She can’t verbalise the questions; therefore, she doesn’t have the answers. “I never had words to ask anybody the questions, so I never had the answers.” P233.

I’m finding it difficult to review The Choke as I feel I’m unable to do the author justice. Her writing is unique; her descriptions, both of the area Justine lives, and Justine’s life and her internal traumas is outstanding. I could see the danger coming for Justine, but it was like watching a train wreck and not being able to do anything about it.

I loved The Eye of the Sheep and Sofie Laguna has another 5 star winner with The Choke in my opinion. Very highly recommended.