Monthly Archives: June 2015
Between the Sunset and the Sea by Simon Ingram
Review Date: 27 June 2015
Author: Simon Ingram
Release Date: 12 March 2015
Publishers: William Collins
ISBN –10: 0007545401
ISBN – 13: 978-0007545407
Available in Hardback, Kindle & audio download.
Authors Website: http://www.simoningram.net/
The Last Word Review
‘A guided tour of 16 of the UK’s best Mountains. One of the best outdoor books I have read. Rich, and thoroughly well researched’
If like me you are a lover the big outdoors and especially getting up into the hills and mountains, then here is a book that will guide you on a journey of 16 of the most outstanding British climbs. This will appeal to those who look and admire and feel tempted to strap on a pair of stout walking boots and climb your first mountain.
This is a mammoth book at 448 pages covering 16 chapters, interspersed with some beautiful artistic black and white photographs that capture the very essence of life in the mountains.
One aspect of this book I liked is that each chapter is broken down into various themes such as Danger, Weather, Terror, Wilderness, as well as a particular mountain that has been selected as part of the 16 then the author climbs that mountain. Anyone who has climbed any of the ‘Wainwrights’ or ‘Munros’ will salivate at this beautifully written book. Simons’ style of writing not only rich but it takes the reader along on each of his treks. That is some achievement for his debut at writing a book. What I took from each of his mountain treks was respect, for the mountain itself like me when I have climbed you become one with your surroundings and the mountain itself, you talk to it and it talks back. I felt this with all 16 mountains described in his book.
The author has very carefully selected each mountain that I found worked along with each of the chapters, mountains such as Beinn Dearg, An Teallach, Loughrigg Fell and Great Gable are covered. The more I read through this book, the more I came to the conclusion that this was not just a book about 16 mountains it becomes more of a larger theatre, as in covers so much more such as the history, science, travel, History and so on. This is a book that will over time come into its own and may even have set the agenda for writing books about mountains and especially getting out there for yourself and experiencing hill and mountain climbs. Exhilarating just like this book really.
This reviewer is now off to dig his boots out and give them an outing.
Meet the Author:
Simon Ingram is a journalist and author.
He has written dozens of features for award-winning national magazines and websites, principally in the fields of adventure journalism, travel, walking, mountaineering and film.
Publications he has written for include Trail and Country Walking, Empire, The Independent and The Guardian, and he was one of the launch contributors for Outdoor Fitness Magazine.
He is the author of the critically-acclaimed debut Between the Sunset and the Sea (HarperCollins, 2015), an exploration of the British mountains and their enduring fascination.
His photographs have been used extensively in editorial reportage and on the covers of major national publications.
He is a Mountain Leader trainee and has climbed mountains all over the UK, and also the High Atlas of Morocco, Arctic Norway, the French, German and Italian Alps, Slovenia, the Balkans and East Africa.
He lives in Stamford, Lincolnshire.
Into The Fire by Manda Scott
Review Date: 21 June 2015
Author: Manda Scott
Release Date: 18 June 2015
Publishers: Bantam Press (Transworld Publishers)
ISBN –10: 0593072472
ISBN – 13: 0593072479
Available in Hardback, and Kindle.
Authors Website: http://mandascott.co.uk/
As Part of the ‘into the Fire’ blog Tour
The Last Word Review:
‘Historical thriller with a burning desire to keep you guessing to the very end’
Imagine a thriller spanning 600 hundred years. Sounds incredible but that is exactly what Manda Scott has achieved just that with Into the Fire.
This is a unique recipe of two great crime novels rolled into one outstanding read that will keep the reader up all night. You have been warned.
The key characters are the Police Capitaine Ines Picaut from current time and from 1429 Joan of Arc trying to turn the tide in the war with the English.
The story opens in current time (2014) and Orleans is under attack by arsonists and on this occasion Capitaine Picaut is called to a hotel in the centre of the old town that has been hit and this time amid the flames lies the charred remains of a body of a male but his identity is unknown. All she has to go on are Islamic extremists claiming responsibility. Who is the dead man? Did he know his attackers? The post mortem later revealed a memory card lodged in his throat. As the investigations move forward to try and solve this crime, the arsonists strike again this time the CCTV cameras have footage. The chase is now on, but there is more to this story that a modern day crime.
In 1429 Joan of Arc (The Maid of Orléans) was in the process of fighting the English, and Tomas Rustbeard has been sent as an undercover operative to seek out and eventually kill ‘The Maid’ and the myth that surrounds her. This part of the story in woven skilfully by the author in to the modern day crime spree.
I have a bucket full of admiration for Manda Scott and the volume of research that has been undertaken to write this novel that spans 600 years. I will admit at first just holding the book I was not sure if it would stand up, but I was nothing but blown away by the storyline and style of writing.
The characters that appear in the pages of Into the Fire are not only strong and but believable as well as the outstanding storyline. Without doubt it will make it to my shortlist of books of 2015.
This is a book that should be on your reading list for this summer it has bags of Heroism and evil to match and keep the reader glued to every page as it weaves from 2014 back to 1429. A true masterclass in historical fiction writing.
Meet the Author:
Manda Scott is a former veterinary surgeon who is now a writer, Born and educated in Glasgow, Scotland, she trained at the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine and now lives and works in Shropshire. She made her name initially as a crime writer. Her first novel, Hen’s Teeth, hailed by Fay Weldon as ‘a new voice for a new world’ was shortlisted for the 1997 Orange Prize, and No Good Deed was nominated for the 2003 Edgar Award.
Her subsequent novels, Night Mares, Stronger than Death and No Good Deed, for which she was hailed as ‘one of Britain’s most important crime writers’ by The Times, were published by Headline and are now published, along with her other books, by Transworld Publishers, an imprint of Random House. She writes both historical and contemporary thrillers. “The Boudica series” are her first historical novels.
Her more recent Rome series (written under the name MC Scott), beginning with The Emperor’s Spy, are spy thrillers, set in the same fictional universe with some of the surviving characters from the Boudica series.
Between the two major historical series, she wrote The Crystal Skull, a dual timeline novel with a historical thread set in the Tudor era and a contemporary thriller set in modern-day Cambridge.
Her latest novel is a fast-paced, dual timeline thriller, Into the Fire, which explores the truth behind the myth of Jeanne d’Arc – and the impact those revelations could have on modern day France.
Competition time. Would you like to win a signed copy of Into the Fire by Manda Scott. Head over to my Twitter page: @Thelastword1962 Just follow and retweet the post for this review and you will go into the draw to win a signed copy. Entries close at 9pm Friday 26 June and the Winner will be notified on Saturday morning.
It is Happy Publication Day to Manda Scott and Into The Fire released today. It is an outstanding read and will prove to be a sensational Summer hit. Look out for my review coming soon.
To coincide with the release there is an official blog tour starting on June 20 and I will be hosting the tour on Friday 26 June and that is not all as there is an exciting free prize draw to win an autographed copy of Into The Fire. All you have to do is keep any eye on my Twitter feed @ and look out for further details. In the meantime here are the tour dates for Into The Fire
Born Survivors by Wendy Holden
Review Date: 11 June 2015
Author: Wendy Holden
Release Date: 7 May 2015
Publishers: Sphere (Little,Brown Book Group)
ISBN –10: 0751557382
ISBN – 13: 978-0751557381
Available in Hardback and Kindle.
Authors Website: http://www.wendyholden.com/
The Last Word Review:
‘One of the most important Holocaust historical accounts of modern times. A story that had to be told. Deeply moving and poignant’.
‘Good morning pretty lady, are you pregnant?’ These where the infamous words from Josef Mengele, the so-called Angel of Death, at Auschwitz II–Birkenau concentration camp. If found to be pregnant then – with a flick of Mengele’s glove – the women would have been taken away to face certain death in the gas chambers.
Born Survivors is the story of Priska, Rachel and Anka, three women who had never met but were transported to the camp late on during the war. The book tells the story of how at the beginning they believed they would be fine and survive, then as the Nazis moved in to their respective countries how they then tried to stay free from capture.
All three young women were married by the time they entered Auschwitz that day in 1944. Little did they know what was to lie ahead for each of the three women and this is their story in a new book Born Survivors by Wendy Holden.
All three women were pregnant as infamous trains transported them to be met by brutal SS guards with their ferocious guard dogs. During the coming hours they were stripped and their heads shaved before standing naked as Mengele went through the selection process. When each of the women were asked if they were pregnant they instinctively replied “Nein” which saved them from the gas chambers.
All three women who were separated from their husbands with no knowledge of their whereabouts were deemed fit for slave labour. None of them knew from one day to another whether they would face being selected for the gas chamber or work.
This was just the beginning for each of the three women. Their food rations could only be described as dishwater and crumbs of bread. Living conditions deteriorated by the day as did their health. Priska, Rachel and Anka managed to hide their pregnancies from their fellow inmates, knowing if they were found they would face certain death at the hands of Nazi killing machine.
The emaciated and lice-ridden women faced afurther ordeal as they were selected to help the German war machine by being transferred to Freiberg working as slave labours in a factory making parts for aircraft. During their time here the allies were advancing and bombing raids were daily, during which the women were locked in a room on the top floor of the factory while their Nazi captors hid in shelters. As their health deteriorated and being so thin the three women still managed to hide their secret. Rachel who shared a bunk with her sisters did not even dare tell them out of fear.
Then on April 12 1945 Priska gave birth to Hana on a plank laid on a table. The Nazi captors even joked and had bets as to what the sex of the baby would be.
With little food and water, the newborn was vastly underweight at 3 pounds. Then along with the other 1000 or so women they were evacuated from the factory as the Russians and Americans closed in. They were boarded onto trains with little or no food and water. How mother and baby survived on meagre rations living in rags at this time no-one knew. Nor did they know their destination with Allied bombing raids causing great confusion as bombs fell.
Rachel weighing under 70lbs and in one of the crammed open coal wagons with little food and water she gave birth to a baby boy she named Mark. They were halfway through their 17 day journey in hellish conditions when she went into labour, with only a rusty blade to sever the umbilical cord. In hope of saving her baby she told her guards the baby was born on Hitler’s birthday (April 20), so the SS guards joked ‘another Jew for the Fuhrer’.
Their final destination was the infamous Mauthausen Camp (known as the Bone-Grinder) situated in Austria close to the Danube. This camp had the reputation of being the final destination – once through the gates you entered hell never to leave alive. Many in Mauthausen died from the appalling conditions including hard labour, lack of food, illness, being gassed or from the sheer brutality of the SS guards.
It was on the final part of the journey to the camp that Anka gave birth to baby Eva on the back of a cart filled with the dead or dying women after being pulled off the train.
The war was close to its end and the Allies were closing in on the Nazi regime and the hilltop camp. The guards herded many of the latest arrivals into the gas chambers only to realise they had run out of Zyklon B crystals used to gas those they wanted to kill.
Within days the Americans arrived, spearheaded by the US Thunderbolts headed by Sgt Albert J. Kosiek a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge. A hardened soldier, he had seen and witnessed much but nothing could prepare him or his men for what they found at Mauthausen. Many of the men broke down when the sheer horror unfolded in front of their eyes. The war was finally over, Priska, Rachel and Anka though nothing more than skeletons had survived with their babies despite the horrors that they were born into. Born Survivors indeed.
Many of the American servicemen who liberated the camp refused to speak of what they found at Mauthausen. The sheer horror would never leave them and would haunt them for the rest of their lives.
The three mothers who defied death to give life were eventually allowed to leave and head home to try and find their husbands and rebuild their lives. Their journeys would end in heartbreak as their husbands were never to return and their homes and possessions all gone. Some of the women would be ostracised and had to move on to find a new home.
Priska, Rachel and Anka are sadly no longer alive but their memory lives on in their children Hana, Mark and Eva, almost certainly the last living survivors of the Holocaust.
Just very recently, on 10 May 2015, the Austrian authorities marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Mauthausen in the presence of relatives of survivors and those still alive who helped liberate the camp. Also present were Hana, Mark and Eva, celebrating the day the Americans arrived to set them free.
The legacy of Priska, Rachel and Anka will live on through their children and their grandchildren and they deserve that.
Born Survivors is a book of defiance, courage and hope. The author Wendy Holden deserves the plaudits for the painstaking research for this book and also the accolades that surely will come.
For this reviewer I shed tears at the close of this book and the profound effect it has had on me. I for one will remember Priska, Rachel and Anka and their courage to defy death to bring life.
I would like to thank both Wendy Holden and the publishers Sphere (Little, Brown Book Group) for giving me the opportunity of reviewing one of the most important and historically significant books of 2015. This is a book that deserves to be read.
Meet the Author:
Wendy Holden was a journalist for eighteen years, including a decade at the Daily Telegraph where she worked as a foreign and war correspondent.
She is author and the co-author of more than thirty books, including several bestselling wartime biographies, includingTomorrow to be Brave, Til the Sun Grows Cold, and Behind Enemy Lines.
She lives in Suffolk, with her husband and two dogs and divides her time between the U.K. and the U.S.
Little Black Lies By Sharon Bolton
Review Date: 7 June 2015
Author: Sharon Bolton
Release Date: 2 July 2015
Publishers: Bantam Press (Transworld Publishers)
ISBN –10: 059306920X
ISBN – 13: 978-0593069202
Available in Hardback, Paperback, and Kindle.
Authors Website: http://www.sjbolton.com/
The Last Word Review:
‘Riveting and chilling South Atlantic thriller’
Thank you to Alison Barrow and Transworld Publishers for the ARC. This is my first Sharon Bolton thriller that I have reviewed and ‘Little Black Lies’ really left its mark on me. This is a dark thriller that has all the ingredients to be a big hit.
The scene is 1994 and the Falkland Islands, the war with Argentina ended some years before but the scars are still visible. Very quickly in to this book you are hit with something disturbing. Catrin’s two Sons are killed in a tragic accident while in the care of her best friend Rachel. This would test any long standing friendship. Now since this happened 3 other boys have gone missing from their tight knit community.
The book is very much told in the first person through the eyes of its three main characters, Catrin, Callum, (former Paratrooper and Falkland’s veteran) and Rachel. This keeps the story moving along and is very character focussed.
Catrin has never forgiven Rachel and there is an air of revenge running through this plot. Rachel feels guilty and blames herself for the accident. In the small Community there is no hiding place and Rachel is more or less left isolated by the events. When the island has visitors from a cruise ship another child goes missing and questions are coming thick and fast, the body of one of the missing children is discovered Callum now believes a killer is now among them tension and mistrust roam the community.
When the missing child is found and then to add to the panic Rachel’s young Son goes missing it is natural to think that Catrin could be behind this latest development.
‘Little Black Lies’ is packed with raw tension and drama set in a dark setting that only the South Atlantic could deliver rugged, the harsh and desolate landscape that is the Falklands. There is also the Wildlife of the islands and some distressing moments. The actual setting has been superbly chosen and the author should be congratulated on this. The book also delivers on many themes that has been woven into the story. The ending is simply outstanding and I had to re-read this a few times, that caught me out. This is an exceptional thriller that I would more than happily recommend to a book club and there are many discussion points to work through.
Meet the Author:
Sharon Bolton (previously S. J. Bolton) is the critically acclaimed author of some of the most bone-chilling crime books ever written. She has been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the Year, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and the CWA Dagger in the Library.
Sharon lives near Oxford with her husband and young son. For further information please visit Sharon Bolton’s website.