Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh

Stepping off the boat in Mombasa, eighteen-year-old Rachel Fullsmith stands on Kenyan soil for the first time in six years. She has come home.
But when Rachel reaches the family farm at the end of the dusty Rift Valley Road, she finds so much has changed. Her beloved father has moved his new partner and her son into the family home. She hears menacing rumours of Mau Mau violence, and witnesses cruel reprisals by British soldiers. Even Michael, the handsome Kikuyu boy from her childhood, has started to look at her differently. 
Isolated and conflicted, Rachel fears for her future. But when home is no longer a place of safety and belonging, where do you go, and who do you turn to?

I could feel Rachel's euphoria at being back on African soil,the land of her birth. Six years ago when she was twelve her father sent her to a boarding school in England after her mother died. 
Bereft for the loss of her mother,never seeing her father and being away from her beloved Africa Rachel has longed for the day she could return home even if it is against her father's wishes.

Her father's new partner Sara is not welcoming and she is the opposite of Rachel's mother especially in the way she talks to the African servants. Her father has changed too he is very distant and tries too hard to please Sarah. 

It's 1952 and Africa is in a state of unrest. The Mau Mau are raiding Bristish owned farms and slaughtering the landowners. Many Africans are also being killed by them if they refuse to take an oath promising to kill the British. The cruelty was hard to read about. Slaughtering by the Mau Mau farm by farm, village by village continued to escalate through the book. In retaliation the British soldiers were every bit as cruel and inhumane towards the Africans who were treated as sub human.

I was so scared for Rachel,I wanted her to run back to England and safety. I felt the injustice of the African people, living in squalor and being exploited by the British.
The life that Rachel remembers is no more and it's only a matter of time before her family will be in grave danger. 
Halfway through the book the tension was so great I just couldn't put it down. So much was happening that I was always leaving it on a cliffhanger. This will definitely be one of my books of this year.
The sights,sounds and smells of Africa as described in the book could only come from someone who knows and loves the country. I was transported there by every page. I was worried for Rahel as she wandered around the farm and fished in the river. Were the lions, buffalo or leopards watching her? Was she safe? Actually she had more to worry about from her fellow man and woman than any wild animal as you will find out in the book.
This book came to be because of a suitcase given to the author by a friend of her father. It was old and dusty and contained letters,documents and photographs from Kenya in the 1950's. Jennifer knew these were important to the owner and knew she had to do something with them and hence the story started taking root and growing in her head. I for one know that she has done great justice to the contents of that suitcase. Don't miss this book.


Monday, 29 May 2017

Step by Step by June Francis

Will their friendship survive against all odds?
In the early 1900s two girls see each other through good times and bad. But can their friendship endure when an dreadful act of violence sees their families turn against one another?
Hannah Kirk and Alice Moran have been friends since childhood. Growing up in the back streets of Chester, they support each other through hard times. But when Alice’s mother dies in childbirth, the girls both must take on great burdens.
Alice’s violent father attacks Hannah’s mother and the friends are separated when Alice is forced to flee with her father while Hannah cares for her bedridden mother and the rest of the family. As Hannah struggles to cope and suffers awful mistreatment at the hands of her devious older brother, she questions whether Alice is her friend – or the cause of all her troubles. Will Hannah and Alice reconcile, or are the wrongs of the past impossible to make right? 

Warning! This book has a couple of despicable characters who will make your skin crawl and possibly make you want to dispose of them in a gruesome way.
Alice's father Mal is a wife beater, a man only his mother could love and I doubt very much if she did. He had a lovely wife and Holden but only thought of himself.
Her friend Hannah didn't have it easy either with her brother Bert and his warped sense of what was decent. When Hannah's mother has an accident and Alice's mother dies the lives of the two friends will change forever.
This is a story of friendship against the odds. Each girl had plenty of troubles of their own to put up with but could always rely on each other. I read this book in a day,I didn't want to put it down. 
This is the first book in a series of five titled The Victoria Cresant Sagas. These books are not follow ups but all different stories and all out now. Here is the Amazon link for Step by Step only 99p.
If you click on the title of the saga below Step by Step on Amazon the other titles will come up,they all sound good.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The Escape by C.L.Taylor

Look after your daughter's things. And your daughter…"
When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn't.
The stranger knows Jo's name, she knows her husband Max and she's got a glove belonging to Jo's two year old daughter Elise.
What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo's own husband turn against her.
No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there's only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

As always C.L. Taylor has written a book that you can't put down. I was clenching my teeth and gripping the seat as at every turn Jo seemed to be in more and more trouble. Who could she trust? Even I didn't know who to believe. I read this book in two sittings it was so good. I'm not going to say Amy more about the story and plot because that would only spoil it for you. 
If You haven't read any books by this author then you're in for a treat and I think this may be her best one to date.


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Cover Reveal!

Great news! This is a cover reveal for Tracy Buchanan's new book, Her Last Breath. What a great cover ,looks like we have a good read coming to us in June. I hope to be reviewing it soon.

When fifteen-year-old Poppy O’Farrell goes missing a media frenzy ensues. None of this has anything to do with lifestyle blogger Estelle Forster – so why would someone send her a picture of the missing girl and a note, claiming to know Estelle’s secrets? To find out, Estelle must return to her coastal hometown and the shameful past she thought was long behind her. A dangerous game is being played, and the answers lie in the impenetrable community Estelle once called her own. Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, C.L. Taylor and Clare Mackintosh, this addictive, twisting, emotionally powerful book will have you hooked until the very last page.


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Midnight Blue by Simone Van Der Vlugt. Blog tour with Afterword.

I'm so pleased to be today's stop on the blog tour for this book. The publishers have sent me the afterward of the book to post. This gives you bit of historical background to the story and the characters and the history of delft pottery. 

Amsterdam 1654: a dangerous secret threatens to destroy a young widow’s new life.
Following the sudden death of her husband, twenty-five year old Catrin leaves her small village and takes a job as housekeeper to the successful Van Nulandt merchant family. Amsterdam is a city at the peak of its powers: science and art are flourishing in the Golden Age and Dutch ships bring back exotic riches from the Far East.
When a figure from her past threatens her new life, Catrin flees to Delft. There, her painting talent earns her a chance as a pottery painter. Slowly, the workshop begins to develop a new type of pottery to rival the coveted Chinese porcelain – and Delft Blue is born. But when tragedy strikes, Catrin has a hard choice to make.

I thought this book might be a bit hard going to read as it is set in Amsterdam in 1654 and translated into English. I needn't have worried as I found it quite an easy read. I was awful at History I school ,I found it very boring but books like this set around historical events always awaken my interest.
Poor Catrin, married to a brute of a man who beats her for no reason,it is no wonder when he dies she can only feel relief. Catrin has a secret and before anyone finds out she has to leave her home and family. Secrets have a way of catching up on you and Catrin flees further than she intends to and ends up in Amsterdam. Everything is settled for a while but once again Catrin has to move and this time to Delft. This is where Catrin finds her niche in life, painting China and we hear the story of how Delft Blue porcelain began. 
I loved the descriptions of old Amsterdam and Delft. The excitement of traveling through the waterways on any kind of craft which was usually carrying goods for trading. The horror of the plague as it spread through the towns and villages and the fear held by everyone.
Catrin experienced hardship along the way but her meeting of each of three brothers and their friends helped her to live,love and find peace with her past.
This was a good read and there was never a dull moment throught the story. I don't think you have to love historical books to enjoy this,it's not too heavy on the history.


Halfway through the seventeenth century, known to the Dutch as the Golden Age, Delft Blue stormed onto the market and became enormously popular within a very short time. Anyone who wanted to show he had both money and good taste bought some. The supply of original Chinese porcelain had been well-established in the period of 1620–47, thanks to the voyages of discovery and the VOC expeditions that followed, until a civil war in China put an end to it. From then on, a number of Dutch cities, including Delft, Haarlem and Amsterdam, tried making the beloved pottery themselves. They called it Dutch Porcelain; the name Delft Blue didn’t come until much later.

Between 1654 and 1690, the number of potteries in Delft exploded; by around 1700 there were almost forty. The craze for decorative ceramics reached its peak between 1680 and 1730. Delft Blue found an important ambassador in Princess Mary II, the English wife of the Dutch Stadtholder Prince Willem II (William III of England). Her fascination with Delftware and enthusiasm for collecting it led to more orders from the nobility and royalty.

At the end of the eighteenth century, the earthenware industry collapsed due to competition from English porcelain. There was a revival in the mid-nineteenth century, but after the Second World War much of the once so beloved tableware was put away in the attic for good. Delft Blue was deemed fussy, old-fashioned tat. The only place its popularity remained undiminished was abroad, primarily in Japan and America.

The last few years have seen the white-and-blue pottery gradually being rediscovered in the Netherlands. KLM flies in Delft Blue aircraft and the loyalty scheme where you could collect little Delft Blue houses if you flew business class sparked a craze. Today there’s no getting away from this centuries-old export. Everywhere, from the lifestyle section of the exclusive department store Bijenkorf to the shelves of bargain homeware chain Xenos, there is Delft Blue in the form of knick-knacks, oven gloves, duvet cushions, bike panniers and anything else you’d care to name.

The real Delft Blue is still an expensive porcelain that is much loved abroad. At The Porcelain Flask (De Porceleyne Fles) in Delft, the ceramics are still fired and painted by hand. It’s worth the trip to take a look around the factory, along with the many foreign tourists, and see the painters at work.
The Porcelain Flask began on the Oosteinde (East End) but is now located on Rotterdamseweg, a little outside the old town in Delft. During the last century, another three companies were set up: The Delft Peacock  (De Delftse Pauw), The Blue Tulip (De Blauwe Tulp) and The Chandelier (De Candelaer). The four of them brought the name of Delft Blue to the attention of tourists and other enthusiasts.

The characters of Quentin (Quentin) and Angelika (Engeltje) van Cleynhoven are historical figures. In 1655, Quentin and Wouter van Eenhoorn took over a pottery they named The Porcelain Flask. In a trench on the grounds of number 171 Oosteinde, where the business began, a hundred and twenty objects from the early period of the ceramics factory were recently found, including a platter with the inscription ‘Engeltie Kleijnoven, 1673’. This is probably a commemorative plate on the occasion of their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. In the archive records, the name Cleynhoven is spelt with both a C and a K.
The Lotus Flower pottery never really existed. Nor did Catrin or Evert; they are figments of my imagination.