Tuesday 30 March 2021

Cilka’s journey

Cilka’s Journey
Heather Morris

Having read The Tattooist of Auschwitz a while ago, I felt the time was right to read the sequel to find out what happened to Cilka. I must admit, I was mortified to read that after escaping Auschwitz, some prisoners were then transferred to other "camps" to serve sentences for so called crimes against the Russian government.

Cilka is one of those statistics. Having escaped the torture and hideous conditions of Auschwitz, she is arrested and sent to Siberia to a Russian prison, but it is more like another camp with terribly basic conditions as they were not treated much better than at Auschwitz. Her punishment is 15 years imprisonment in a prison in Siberia where the summers are harsh and the winters even more so. 

At such a young age, Cilka has had to deal with and witness so much heartache and tragedy, but her spirit will not be broken and she is determined to get out of whatever prison or camp she is put in and to live a normal life again. 

Josie is also a prisoner and Cilka takes her under her wing and they become friends. Cilka tries her hardest to protect Josie from the evils that lurk in these institutions, but sometimes it just isn't enough.

When a kind and caring Doctor by the name of Dr Yelena meets Cilka, she takes pity on her and helps her to obtain work as a nurse in the hospital wing of the prison and this is where Cilka feels most comfortable, helping others. 

This is a fabulously moving, heart wrenching novel that I read in a couple of days because I literally couldn't put it down. I wanted to find out what happened to Cilka and all of those poor people who survived Auschwitz, only to be put in prison for crimes that were unjustified. 

This is a story that will stay with me for a long time...

Monday 29 March 2021

The Foundling

 The Foundling


Stacey Halls


Having visited The Foundling Museum a few years ago, I couldn’t wait to read this novel as I knew it would be a moving story. The museum is full of personal artefacts that were left with the children who were given up by their mothers because they couldn’t look after them for whatever reason. These items were known as tokens and were kept at the museum along with the children’s papers as “insurance”.

This story starts with Bess who has just given birth to a girl who she names Clara. Bess is unmarried and cannot look after a baby and so has no alternative but to take the baby to the Foundling Hospital. The token she gives over with the baby is half a heart made of whalebone with the initial B (for Bess) and she carves the initial C into it (for Clara).

To be able to get your child back from The Foundling Hospital, you had to be able to afford the money that would have been spent on the child for however long they were cared for, so Bess saves as much as she can for six years until she is in a position to claim Clara back.

When she goes to the Hospital to collect her, she is devastated to learn that Clara was claimed the very next day after she was handed over, by a woman claiming to be Bess!

Bess is distraught and sets out on a mission to find her beloved daughter Clara and also who it was who pretended to be Bess…

This is a great story of love, loss and betrayal which the author deals with brilliantly. There is a lot more to this story, but I didn't want to give any spoilers away, so you'll just have to read it yourselves to find out more!

I love reading about history in London and this gives it in bundles! I loved it and cannot wait to read the author’s next book coming out later this year.

The Cosy Little Cupcake Van

 The Cosy Little Cupcake Van


Annette Hannah

I was blown away when I was contacted by the lovely Annette Hannah to do a cover reveal last year because when she told me the author was her I was shocked (but in a good way!) and here we are promoting her second book! I have an extract for you this time, so sit back and enjoy a short piece of The Cosy Little Cupcake Van.

Chapter 1

Six months later

‘Camilla Lockley?’ asked the heavyset man who towered over her, blocking out the light as she placed the second of the boxes in the back of the car.

‘Yes, that’s me. Can I help you?’ She slammed the boot shut and made her way to the driver’s seat.

‘I’m from Bingley and Dobbs and I’m afraid we are repossessing this vehicle due to non-payment. The details are all here.’ He shoved a couple of scary-looking legal documents into her hand.

She tried to make sense of them, but the words seemed to dart around the page like ants on a pavement as her nerves got the better of her. The red stamp saying ‘Repossession’ across it though made it quite clear.

‘Can I have the keys please?’

‘Look, there must be some misunderstanding. I’ll be getting paid for this wedding cake in a couple of hours, so I’ll be able to pay this month’s instalment.’

‘I’m afraid it’s gone beyond that, miss, so can I just have the keys and I’ll be on my way?’

Resigned to the fact that this was a fight she couldn’t possibly win she lifted the two square white boxes from the boot, one by one, and carefully rested the heavier one on a sturdy hedge with the smaller one next to it.

‘I don’t suppose there’s any chance you could give me a lift is there?’ She gave him an exaggerated smile that she imagined made her look more delirious than friendly. He didn’t bother to respond and closed the boot with a slam. ‘Would you consider a cake in lieu of payment?’ she shouted to what used to be her little pink Fiat 500 as it sped off.



@ books_dash

Wednesday 17 March 2021


I can't tell you how excited I am to show you the cover of Gill Paul's next novel, The Collector's Daughter. As many of you know, I am a huge fan of Gill's books and eagerly await her new ones and as a big fan of anything Egyptian, I am counting down the days until this one is published. You will have to wait until the end of September I'm afraid, but I'm sure it will be worth waiting for!


Bestselling author Gill Paul returns with a brilliant novel about Lady Evelyn Herbert, who grew up in Highclere Castle—the real Downton Abbey—and became the first person in modern times to enter the tomb of Ancient Egyptian king Tutankhamun.


She is the daughter of the Earl of Carnarvon, brought up to make her society debut and follow it with a prestigious marriage. But popular and pretty Lady Evelyn Herbert has other ideas. First she falls for a man her mother doesn’t approve of, then she accompanies her father to Egypt, leaving behind the world of etiquette and chaperones to work alongside archeologist Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings.


In November 1922 the extraordinary happens when they discover the burial place of Tutankhamun, packed full of gold and inconceivable riches. Eve is the first to crawl inside, the first person to see the treasures in three thousand years. She calls it the “greatest moment” of her life—but soon afterwards a string of tragedies leaves her world a darker, sadder place.


Newspapers claim it is “the curse of Tutankhamun.” Howard Carter says no rational person would entertain such nonsense. Fifty years later, an Egyptian academic comes asking questions about what really happened in the tomb in 1922. And that visit unleashes a new chain of events threatening Eve’s happy life, and making her wonder if there could be some truth behind the stories of an ancient curse.

• Preorder link for the US: https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-collectors-daughter-gill-paul?variant=33011847888930

•Preorder link for the UK: https://uk.bookshop.org/books/the-collector-s-daughter/9780008453473

• Link to sign up to my newsletter: https://bit.ly/gillpaulnews

Monday 15 March 2021

While Paris Slept

While Paris Slept 
Ruth Druart 
I do love a good wartime saga, but when I saw how many pages were in the book, I won't lie, my heart did drop a little. Unless a book holds my attention from the very first page, I do lose interest very quickly. I didn't have to worry one bit as this book had short chapters and was so easy to read and captivating from the very first page!

Santa Cruz 1953. Jean-Luc thought he had left it all behind. The scar on his face a small price to pay for surviving the horrors of Nazi occupation. Now, he has a new life in California, a family. He never expected the past to come knocking on his door. Paris 1944. A young woman's future is torn away in a heartbeat. Herded on to a train bound for Auschwitz, in an act of desperation she entrusts her most precious possession to a stranger. All she has left now is hope. On a darkened platform two destinies become entangled. Their choice will change the future in ways neither could have imagined. Beginning on an ordinary day and ending on an extraordinary one, WHILE PARIS SLEPT is an unforgettable read.

Jean-Luc lives in Paris during the German occupation and is having to work on the railways. He can’t live with the fact that those trains are overcrowded with Jews being transported to God knows where and it plays on his mind that he needs to do something to make it stop. 

Sarah has just given birth to a son and knows that if they find out she has a baby whilst boarding one of the trains, he will surely be killed. 

Just before she boards the train with her husband David, she takes the baby out from under her clothes and gives the baby, who they have called Samuel, to a railway worker. She begs the man to take him and care for him. That man was Jean-Luc...

Without thinking about the consequences, Jean-Luc, along with his girlfriend Charlotte decide to escape Paris with baby Samuel and head through the dangerous French countryside to make it to the border with Spain. 

This is a dual timeline story and it fast forwards to 1953 in California when Sam (as he is called now) is living with Jean-Luc and Charlotte in California. 

Did sarah survive the train journey to Auschwitz?

What a story this was. From beginning to end, it grabs your emotions and my heart rate was going up and down with the suspense of it all!

This is a fabulous debut and one I can see made into a film. I loved it and would definitely read more from this author.


Ruth Druart grew up on the Isle of Wight, moving away at the age of eighteen to study psychology at Leicester University. She has lived in Paris since 1993, where she has followed a career in teaching. She has recently taken a sabbatical, so that she can follow her dream of writing full-time.


Thursday 11 March 2021

The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger


Susan Fortin

I am delighted to be a part of the blog tour for this author. Today I have an extract for you, but I hope to review the book for you as soon as I can.


The grave tones of Neville Chamberlain and the crackle of the radio filled the sitting room.

‘…and that consequently, this country is at war with Germany.’

‘Bloody hell,’ said Arthur. ‘Chamberlain has only gone and done it.’

‘Do not use such language, Arthur,’ scolded Helena Pettinger, her French accent always stronger when she was cross. She raised her eyebrows in reproach at her son.

‘Oh, come on, love, he’s sixteen years old next month,’ said Reg.

‘I do not care how old he is, I will not have that language in my house. War or no war.’ Helena gave her husband an even harder glare.

‘What’s going to happen now?’ asked Arthur, to defuse the confrontation. No one wanted to rile his mother. She may have left her native France at the age of eighteen to live and work in England, but her Gallic temperament had most definitely come with her. ‘What about John?’

Reg Pettinger returned to polishing his shoe. ‘Nothing probably. It’s all bluff. Brinkmanship. You mark my words; it will all be over this time next week. John will be all right. Besides, it’s his job.’

Arthur couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed at his father’s prediction. His older brother John was already serving in the army and from what John had said during his last trip home, it sounded like it was going to be a bit more than just a petty argument. John had told his younger brother all about how they had been preparing for war in the regiment and what they would have to do.

To Arthur, it sounded exciting. Much better than being stuck on the farm, ploughing the fields, stacking hay bales, feeding the cows, blah, blah, blah. How many times had he sat on that tractor and wished he was doing what his brother was doing? And it pissed him off that he had been left helping his folks on the farm. He didn’t want to be a farmer but last in line to the throne at Holly Tree Farm had meant the honours had fallen to him. If only he’d been born the eldest, then he’d be the one dressed in that smart uniform, marching with his regiment, preparing for war, preparing for excitement.

‘I can’t wait until I’m old enough to join,’ said Arthur. ‘Did you hear that Pip Nelson is going to refuse to sign up. Conscientious objector.’

‘He should be ashamed of himself,’ said Reg. ‘Anyway, he’ll end up going to a tribunal and I’ll bet a week’s wages, they’ll overrule it and he’ll still have to go or face a stint behind bars.’

‘Of course, if there were medical grounds…’ began Helena.

Her husband cut her off. ‘Don’t go putting such ideas into the lad’s head. There’s nothing wrong with Arthur.’

Helena looked down at the tea towel in her hands and fiddled with the corner. Arthur could feel the angst she was holding in. She’d been distraught enough when John had joined the army before

war was even on the cards, so Arthur was well aware of her feelings about him joining now war was a certainty.

‘Don’t worry, Mum,’ said Arthur in an attempt to reassure her. ‘I’ll be all right.’




Tuesday 9 March 2021

The Snow Sister 
 Emma Carroll
Blurb Ever since her sister, Agnes, died, Pearl has a tradition every time it snows. She makes a person out of snow. A snow sister. It makes Christmas feel a little less lonely. On Christmas Eve, her father receives a letter about a long-lost relative's will. Is their luck about to change? In anticipation of a better Christmas, Pearl goes to beg credit at Mr Noble's grocery to get ingredients for a Christmas pudding. But she is refused, and chased down the street where she is hit by a hansom cab. The snow is falling so hard that they can't take her home. She'll have to stay at Flintfield Manor overnight, in a haunted room... Will Pearl make it home for Christmas? 

I have bought a few of this author’s books (even though they are children’s books) as I love the covers and this one especially caught my eye and looked like the kind of book I would have read as a child. 

 Pearl lives with her mother and father and misses her dear sister Agnes terribly after her premature death. 

They live very simply and there never seems to be enough food or money to buy food. Every time it snows, Pearl makes a snowman (or rather a snow sister!) and finds her late sister’s shawl and puts in on the snow sister so it makes her feel closer to Agnes. 

Pearls father receives a letter from a solicitor about a relative’s will. It says he must go to Bath immediately as he will benefit from his late uncle’s will. Is Pearl’s luck about to change for the better? 

Meanwhile, Pearl is sent to the local store to buy all the ingredients for a Christmas pudding. As she is leaving the store the owner stops Pearl in her tracks and tells her if she has no money, then she will have no goods. In that split second she decides to make a run for it with the ingredients, but without looking where she is going, she gets knocked down by a horse and cart and is taken to Flintfield Manor which is owned by the carriage’s owner. 

Poor Pearl is very badly injured and desperately wants to get home for Christmas to be with her parents. Will she make it in time? 

This is a lovely story and one that you can read in a day (only 100 pages). There are also some absolutely stunning drawings in the book. I am definitely going to be reading more stories from this author. 

In the meantime, I am sending my copy of the Snow Sister on to my Great Niece who also loves to read.

Monday 8 March 2021

 The Beekeeper of Aleppo


Christy Lefteri

I have had this book on my bookshelf for such a long time and my son has been on at me to read it, so I bit the bullet! 

Nuri and his wife Afra are living in war torn Aleppo, Syria. Nuri is a beekeeper, but all his hives have been destroyed and he is desperate to leave Aleppo, but Afra won’t leave as she feels she will be abandoning their dead son Sami.

Not only has Nuri lost his livelihood but Afra has been blinded by the bombing and he has to care for her every need. He loves the very bones of her, but he fears for their lives by staying in Aleppo and every day he tries to get her to leave.

Eventually Nuri changes her mind and they begin the dangerous journey to find a better life. They want to make it to the UK to be with Nuri’s cousin Mustafa, who is also a beekeeper and to hopefully start over again producing honey.

The journey is full of danger and everything seems to take twice as long because of Nuri’s blindness, but also Afra is suffering from debilitating flashbacks. How far will they get and will their deteriorating health prove too much for the journey?...

This is such a fabulous read that I managed to finish in a couple of days. It was totally gripping and I really couldn’t put it down. I was so anxious to find out what happened to them that I just had to read into the small hours to finish it!

There were situations which made me uncomfortable, but it also pulled on my heartstrings and I had tears in my eyes.

I would thoroughly recommend this book and feel that everyone should read Afra and Nuri’s story. This is a book that could easily become a modern classic and read as part of the national curriculum. A story that is shouting out to be read and should be on everyone’s “to be read” list.

Bring on book two!