Friday 24 November 2023

 The Orphans on the Train


Gill Thompson


A girl with auburn hair looks anxiously out of the train window, watching the mountains of Europe pass by. War is on the horizon at home, and Kirsty finds herself heading to neutral Hungary to help in a school for Jewish children. Little does she know that in leaving everything behind, she is about to find the most precious gift of all - a true friend in school pupil Anna.

When the Nazis invade Budapest, Kirsty and Anna are on their own, and Kirsty worries desperately for her Jewish friend. What lengths must they go to in order to survive, and, when they are separated, can the guiding light of friendship bring them back to each other?


Kirsty lives in Scotland with her father, who is a miner. Her mother died when she was young and there were just the two of them getting on with their lives.

 Kirsty enjoyed working at the swimming pool and also loved being able to use the pool when everyone else had gone home. It was her escape from the danger of her father working underground and also impending war.

Kirsty's worst fears come true when her father dies in a mining accident and she is then left orphaned. After being looked after for a while by a family friend, Kirsty feels she has outstayed her welcome and begins to look towards the future. She is given the opportunity to travel to Hungary to help in a Jewish school as an assistant cook and is assured she will be safer there than in the UK as war erupts.

Once arriving in Hungary she settles down and works alongside the cook Maria who is not so friendly, but Kirsty meets a Jewish girl called Anna who she instantly strikes up a friendship with and they soon become inseparable. Anna also has a brother called Endre who Kirsty finds she has an attraction to.

Things aren't as safe in Hungary as Kirsty thought they would be and when Endre is sent to war and violence erupts near the school, Kirsty has to have her wits about her every minute of the day.

This was a super read with great characters. I do love a wartime story and this one certainly pulls at your heartstrings with a fabulous ending. 

Thursday 23 November 2023

 The Christmas Book Club


Sarah Morgan

Review by

Julie Williams


Another successful story written by Sarah Morgan who has the well-earned title of Queen of Romance. This latest Christmas story has, I am pleased to say romance in abundance.

Three firm friends have delayed their annual book club vacation, which usually occurs in summer to just before the Christmas holidays. Erica who is a single independent woman books them into the luxurious Maple Sugar Inn hotel set in an idyllic location.

 Anna the perfect mother and wife has reservations about the trip, as she is desperate to spend time with her twins who are off to university and she is already dreading the empty nest. 

Claudia who is recently divorced and redundant from her job as a chef is at a turning point in her life as she tries to decide just what she wants to do next. These three characters are all very different and although they are best friends, they each hold their own insecurities and apprehensions.

The hotel owner Hattie has her own worries as she muddles through the daily tasks and stresses it takes to be a top class hotelier, a legacy she is determined to uphold as set by her late husband, as well as Mum to the delightful Delphi her 5-year-old daughter.

I loved the connections between all these female characters and their background stories. Set in a gorgeous location, which oozed Christmas, bode for a perfect Christmas story.

Tuesday 24 October 2023


The Memory Library


Kate Storey


For forty-two years, Sally Harrison has been building a library.Each year, on her daughter’s birthday, she adds a new book to her shelves – with a note in the front dedicated to her own greatest work.But Ella – Sally’s only child – fled to Australia twenty-two years ago after a heated exchange, and never looked back. And though Sally still dutifully adds a new paperback to the shelves every time the clock strikes midnight on July 11th, her hopes of her daughter ever thumbing through the pages are starting to dwindle.Then disaster strikes and Ella is forced to return to the home she once knew.She is soon to discover that when one chapter ends, another will soon follow…All you have to do is turn the page…

Journey through the pages of this heartwarming novel, where hope, friendship and second changes are written in the margins. Perfect for book lovers everywhere and fans of Sally Page’s The Keeper of Stories.

Saturday 7 October 2023

The Figurine

 The Figurine


Victoria Hislop

In her irresistible new novel, Sunday Times No 1 bestselling author* Victoria Hislop shines a light on the questionable acquisition of cultural treasures and the price people - and countries - will pay to cling on to them.

Of all the ancient art that captures the imagination, none is more appealing than the Cycladic figurine. An air of mystery swirls around these statuettes from the Bronze Age and they are highly sought after by collectors - and looters - alike.

When Helena inherits her grandparents' apartment in Athens, she is overwhelmed with memories of the summers she spent there as a child, when Greece was under a brutal military dictatorship. Her remote, cruel grandfather was one of the regime's generals and as she sifts through the dusty rooms, Helena discovers an array of valuable objects and antiquities. How did her grandfather amass such a trove? What human price was paid for them?

Helena's desire to find answers about her heritage dovetails with a growing curiosity for archaeology, ignited by a summer spent with volunteers on a dig on an Aegean island. Their finds fuel her determination to protect the precious fragments recovered from the baked earth - and to understand the origins of her grandfather's collection.

Helena's attempt to make amends for some of her grandfather's actions sees her wrestle with the meaning of 'home', both in relation to looted objects of antiquity ... and herself.


Helena loves going to visit her Grandmother in Athens every summer, but her Grandfather is a tyrant and she is frightened of him. He is a General  in a military dictatorship and the apartment where they live us full of his presence with a large portrait of him above a cumbersome desk in a dark and dingy office. 

One summer, whilst Helena is at the apartment, there is a big party hosted by her grandparents. Along one of the sideboards are presents galore which have been brought by the guests for her grandfather. Curiosity fills Helena and she opens some of the presents, only to find beautiful figurines, vases and trinkets which take her breath away. They look so old and beautiful, but why is her grandfather receiving these beautiful gifts? When her grandfather finds out she has opened the presents, he is furious and punishes her so badly, she is bruised for weeks. Why would he do this to her! And what is he trying to hide? 

When Helena inherits the Athens apartments after her Grandparents death, she is determined to get rid of everything in there, but it takes her weeks to go through everything and she asks the advice of some local antique dealers and they advise her that the things her Grandfather had collected over the years were very valuable and it looked as if some of them had been looted straight from the ground!

Helena then goes on a mission to find out about the stolen artefacts and when she finds out that her own ex-boyfriend is involved in stealing these goods to order, she is determined to bring those responsible to justice.
What another great book by this author whose writing I have loved since reading The Island about 15 years ago (the reason I visited Spinalonga last year!) 
Thoroughly researched as her books always are, with characters that are very believable and who I liked (mostly!). One thing I would say is that it’s a hefty read (over 500 pages).
Another well written and really interesting book about Greece which I love reading about. Would definitely recommend. 


About the Author

Inspired by a visit to Spinalonga, the abandoned Greek leprosy colony, Victoria Hislop wrote The Island in 2005. It became an international bestseller, has sold more than 6 million copies and was turned into a 26-part Greek TV series. She was named Newcomer of the Year at the British Book Awards and is now an ambassador for Lepra. Her affection for the Mediterranean then took her to Spain, and in the number one bestseller The Return she wrote about the painful secrets of its civil war. In The Thread, Victoria returned to Greece to tell the turbulent tale of Thessaloniki and its people across the twentieth century. Shortlisted for a British Book Award, it confirmed her reputation as an inspirational storyteller. Her fourth novel, The Sunrise, about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the enduring ghost town of Famagusta, was a Sunday Times number one bestseller. Cartes Postales from Greece, fiction illustrated with photographs, was a Sunday Times bestseller in hardback and one of the biggest selling books of 2016. The poignant and powerful Those Who Are Loved, was a Sunday Times number one hardback bestseller in 2019 and explores a tempestuous period of modern Greek history through the eyes of a complex and compelling heroine. Victoria's most recent novel, One August Night, returned to Crete in the long-anticipated sequel to The Island. It spent twelve weeks in the Top 10 hardback fiction charts. Headline Publishing Group. Her books have been translated into forty languages and Victoria was executive producer on the adaptations of three of her novels for Greek television. Victoria divides her time between England and Greece and in 2020, was granted honorary citizenship by the President of Greece. She was recently appointed patron of Knossos 2025, which is raising funds for a new research centre at one of Greece's most significant archaeological sites. She is also on the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles. Victoria was recently granted an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Sheffield.

Tuesday 3 October 2023

The Ghost of Gosswater

 The Ghost of Gosswater


Lucy Strange

The Lake District, 1899

The Earl is dead and cruel Cousin Clarence has inherited everything.

Twelve-year-old Lady Agatha Asquith is cast out of Gosswater Hall to live in a tiny, tumbledown cottage with a stranger who claims to be her father.

Aggie is determined to discover her real identity, but she is not alone on her quest for the truth.

On the last day of the year, when the clock strikes midnight, a mysterious girl of light creeps through the crack in time; she will not rest until the dark, terrible secrets of the past have been revealed ...


Lady Agatha loses the only father she ever knew. He just happens to be the Earl of Gosswater Hall, but because she is a girl, she cannot inherit anything and so the Hall and all its’ contents go to her cousin Clarence. 

Agatha is tossed out of Gosswater and told she had to go and live in a small cottage with her real father Thomas. 

As she isn’t a Lady by birth, she now goes by the name Aggie and tries to build a life with her father. They do not hit it off initially, but they soon get into a routine together and things start to improve. 

As Aggie knows she hasn’t inherited anything , she takes something from the Hall which she knows is rightfully hers, but Clarence is on her tail and wants it back, whatever the cost…

Aggie is determined to find out if the Earl of Goswater did provide for her and also if Thomas is her father, who was her mother? 

I loved this book and read it it only a few days. It kept me gripped and I can’t wait to read more from this author. 

Tuesday 26 September 2023

 The Playground


S D Robertson


Review by Julie Williams

I really enjoyed this psychological suspense book that held my attention throughout. This author explores family relationships and their bonds, especially those between parents and their children.

Beth is the main character and mother to teenager Ethan and young Daisy. Beth is having a tough time as her husband Rory recently cheated on her, which she cannot forgive him so is having to adapt to being a single parent. 

Beth also suffers with anxiety and stress due to a phobia of playgrounds, so this means she cannot take her children to play on the swings or slides, which makes her feel guilty. This fear stems from a traumatic tragedy that she witnessed in her local playground as a child.

When Billy enters her life, Beth lets him into her family and is grateful for his support and companionship. Billy is determined to win over all their trust but all is not as it appears.

My thanks to Net Galley and publishers Bookouture for the advanced digital copy of this exciting story that is a real page turner with lots of twists and surprises.

Saturday 9 September 2023

The Life I Stole

 The Life I stole


Nikola Scott


Review by Julie Williams

It's 1953. Memories of the war are beginning to fade.

Young Queen Elizabeth has just ascended to the throne. Isobel McIntyre is a doctor-in-training at a London teaching hospital. It's not easy being a woman working in medicine. And Isobel carries the additional burden of a shocking secret . . .

One night three years ago, Isobel took the chance to walk into another woman's life. By the time she understood the implications, it was too late to turn back. Now the secret she's been hiding for so long threatens everything - her career, new-found friendships, and a love affair that promises the kind of joy Isobel thought was only for others.

Love and happiness can't thrive in a world of lies. But does Isobel have the courage to tell the truth, whatever the consequences?


The Life I Stole is a super story of two friends, Isobel McIntyre and Agnes Crawford. They come from very different backgrounds yet their friendship is solid. 

When tragedy strikes, Agnes takes on her friends’ identity changing her life completely. Lies grow day by day as she tries to maintain her secret and fit in and she fears that lasting love can never be found.

Set in the early 1950’s in the infant years of the National Health Service, this story also tells of the struggles female medical students had to endure as they entered a predominantly male environment.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it held my attention throughout with its interesting characters and captivating storyline.