Monthly Archives: March 2019
The Ghost Tree by Barbara Erskine
Released in paperback on 7th March is the latest best-seller by Barbara Erskine. The Ghost Tree (Harper Collins). The main character Ruth Dunbar has returned to Edinburgh after the death of her father. Now she is faced with sifting through all his belongings.
Ruth is having a tough time after the break-up of her marriage and also losing her career. The death of her father has come as a latest blow. Sifting through her father’s she now comes across a cupboard full of possessions belonging to her mother among them are letters and documents and also diaries kept by her mother’s ancestor Thomas Erskine. Thomas really lived a life but as she reads she begins to feel she is not alone in this isolated room at the top of the house.
As the name of the book suggests this is also a ghost story. But it is not just the ghost of Thomas Erskine that Ruth can feel, as she discovers more about Thomas’s past she also realises that he had his enemies and now she feels the presence of not only Thomas but also his enemy.
Ruth now must count on her friends who have experience in dealing with the paranormal. This is not really a scary ghost story but you find this novel dealing with aspects of trying to rid the house of the ghostly existence.
The story moves between the past and the present and this historical part of the novel I enjoyed more especially as Barbara Erskine brought into the novel her great-great-great-great-great grandfather Thomas Erskine who she heard so much about through her own family.
It is not only the past that contains enemies but also the present for Ruth, one such person is Timothy one man that really is not at all pleasant and is seriously questioning Ruth’s inheritance.
If you are a fan of Barbara Erskine then this really is for you.
Thank you to Charlotte Walker from LoveReading for the review copy of The Ghost Tree by Barbara Erskine.
The Ghost Tree by Barbara Erskine was published by Harper Collins and was published on 7th March 2019 in Paperback and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Ghost Tree – Blog Tour
Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5’s Secret Nazi Hunter by Robert Hutton
Delighted to share my thoughts on the story of the MI5 agent at the very heart of Operation Fifth Column, which was the covert WWII operation that was to flush out Nazi sympathisers on British Soil.
Just a few words on what the book is about: June 1940 and Britain stands alone as Hitler eyes his next prize across the channel. Codenamed ‘Jack King’ Eric Roberts who was a former Bank Clerk from Epsom in Surrey. He was recruited into MI5 and then went on to become Hitler’s man in London. This whole operation has only recently come to light. In Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5’s Secret Wartime Nazi Hunter Robert Hutton goes on to tell the story through newly declassified documents and private family archives.
The enemy within during the war was a fear at the heart of the government getting to know who they were and then infiltrate them was key to identifying the key players and also the spies who would pass on information to their spy masters in Berlin.
Author Robert Hutton must be congratulated for his well-researched book that is an incredible read that delves deep into this story of Eric Roberts.
It is hard to imagine that even when that dreadful Oswald Mosely was taken out circulation that there ordinary Britons willing to work for the Nazis and put this country at real risk of invasion.
Eric Roberts hailed from Cornwall and was spotted by spymaster Maxwell Knight. Roberts was nothing short of brave as he set about infiltrating British Union of Fascists at any time he could have caught out and then what? It was later that he rose through the ranks. This an ordinary bank clerk. Nothing short of remarkable.
As the war went on, it was decided the best way to play them was to set up their own ‘Fifth Column’ and so it was the under the name of ‘Jack King’ Eric Roberts played his best part.
‘Jack King’ was to play the Nazi’s man in London pretending to be the link and the key to the very heart of Nazi Germany. Hard to imagine that here in Briton as men and women risking their lives to destroy the Nazis that there were those who believed in the Nazi cause and wanted see their own country defeated. These were the vile anti-Semitic Nazi sympathisers that Eric was infiltrating. This was dangerous work at any time he could have been found out and almost certain death awaited. It was indeed that ‘Jack’ already being eyed as an MI5 spy and her name was Marita Perigoe who was in her own right an extremely dangerous woman who was very suspicious of ‘Jack King’ These were the people plotting against their own country passing vital information to the Gestapo but plotting Churchill’s downfall. These were the enemy within and needed to be brought to justice but at the end of the war were they indeed brought to justice. There are some surprising findings and facts that even opened my eyes while reading this riveting account.
At the end of the story the country owed Eric Roberts a great deal but did he get the rewards he deserved. I won’t reveal that here as I think this is one book that finally opens the story of a man with a smile that opened doors and revealed many secrets.
Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5’s Secret Nazi Hunter by Robert Hutton was published by W&N and was published on 6th September 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us ~ A Diary by Emma Mitchell
Welcome to my stop on The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell Blog Tour. It is thanks to bestselling author Joanna Cannon who pointed out Emma’s beautiful book to me and I rushed out and got myself a copy in January. As I write this piece for this blog tour I am watching a small group of Long-tailed Tits playing around the tree and one of the Long-tailed Tits comes and sits on the window ledge and looks through the window at me. It is as if it knows I am writing this important blog post. Nature really can inspire and heal.
At the end of this Blog Post there is thanks to Michael O’Mara Books a chance to win a copy of this beautiful and important book.
For Emma Mitchell who has suffered with depression (or the Grey Slug) as she refers it to moved away from the built up city to Cambridge and close to the fens. It was at this point that Emma discovered the real beauty of nature and it really became natures cure.
With each walk there would be photographs and collecting natures little gifts as well as drawing and painting and it is here within the pages of The Wild Remedy that you really get to see and experience the both the writer and artist that is Emma Mitchell. A real joy and a pleasure to read. But there is a purpose to this beautiful book. This is Emma’s guide to the natures calendar year. Starting in October as the leaves turn to their stunning colourful display before it shuts down for the winter this is a month by month guide on how to see nature in all its real beauty. A year of exploring and a year of discovering the flora and fauna of the walks Emma took close to her home and it is through words and paintings and
photographs that Emma opens up and candidly talks about her depression and also the darkest of times as Emma battles Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
But it through the walks and discovering nature through the year the change from Winter to Spring, a bird’s feather so delicate and intricate. Often Emma would walk with her Lurcher, Annie who is her walking companion and together seek the peace that only nature can give.
When Emma returns home, she recounts her walk with her writing and photos as well as her sketches and paintings. The Wild Remedy is not just a book about nature it is an important book about allowing ourselves to be at one with nature and also how nature can help us on our road to healing. A book to treasure and also to help each and everyone one of us. Highly Recommended.
PRIZE DRAW – A CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF THE WILD REMEDY BY EMMA MITCHELL.
For a chance to win a copy of stunningly beautiful The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell. Head to my Twitter account @thelastword1962 Follow and Retweet either the Review or Prize draw Tweets. The competition closes on Friday evening 22nd March at 7pm.
Please note: This is a UK only competition and the winner will be drawn and notified by a DM message on Twitter. Michael O’Mara the publisher of The Wild Remedy will be sending the lucky winner a copy in the post. Good luck!
Thank you to Alara Delfrosse for the review copy of The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell.
The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell was published by Michael O’Mara and was published on 27th December 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell – The Blog Tour
Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li
This book really intrigued me before I started reading Number One Chinese Restaurant the debut by Lillian Li. (One, Imprint of Pushkin Press). I need not have worried. An incredible novel set in a Chinese restaurant and the character’s that both run and work there. We have all eaten in restaurants but how many take time just to stop and think about what really goes on behind the scenes.
This really is the ultimate character driven novel as there are many and you get to meet them. The trials and tribulations of the members of staff at the Beijing Duck House, Rockville, Maryland. They have been dishing up Chinese food now for many decades but when you have many people working closely together even if they are as close as a family, there are the usual tensions that are bubbling away just under the surface.
One aspect of this fabulous novel that I really enjoyed was each of the characters you get to meet in each of the chapters. So many interesting threads through the book that keeps you wanting to know more about the people who work there many as immigrants and their offspring. This really is a very large family drama being played out page by page.
There is Jimmy whose passion is to break away and set up his own restaurant but his relationship with Johnny is complex and many then there is Nan who is the Manager of the Duck House Restaurant and that of Ah-Jack who seems to have been there forever but he is formidable character.
Even in the best of family’s trouble can simmer and bubble to the surface and this does come through in Li’s writing and it is Nan who seems to have to deal with the many complex characters who work there. We also get to meet one of the original owners Feng Fei Wang who is full of zeal, she is wise but can stand up for herself if needs be.
It is a heart-warming story interjected with humour of characters that are workers, friends, family and more. This really is a compelling novel I found hard to leave alone for too long. Lillian Li’s prose is delicious and one I devoured like my favourite Chinese meal. Highly Recommended .
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION
Thank you to Tabitha Pelly at Pushkin Press for the review copy of Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li.
Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li was published by One an imprint of Pushkin Press and was published on 7th Febraury 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
Today as book lovers across the world we are celebrating are love of books as today marks World Book Day 2019 and book lovers are sharing their favourite books, past and present. Children are going to school dressed as their favourite characters from books they have loved.
Today I thought I would share one book I read when I was very young that had a profound effect on me. First released in 1971 ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ by Judith Kerr. This is a semi-autobiographical story of a young Jewish girl and her family escaping the Nazis.
The story begins in Berlin in 1933 and Anna discovers that her beloved Papa has gone missing. Papa knows that if Adolf Hitler wins the forthcoming elections the family will be in grave danger. Anna and the rest of her family do not wait to find out and secretly escape Berlin and head to Switzerland.
Anna cannot take all her toys with her and leaves behind her ‘Pink Rabbit’ and it is this that gives the book its title as Anna believes that Hitler has stolen her Pink Rabbit.
As the family settle in Switzerland Papa believes that the family should move to Paris so he travels alone to the French capital to seek a new family home but now the Nazis have found out and have put a price on Papa’s head.
So it was that When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr seemed to start me asking questions about what really happened in WWII and I started to read books from the Library on the Holocaust and the more I read the more horrified I was and I remember asking questions of my teachers at school that I wanted to learn about the persecution of the Jewish race from Germany and across mainland Europe and the death camps.
I watched in horror the major TV series World at War narrated by Laurence Olivier in what was the most expensive TV series ever made at that time equivalent to nearly £11 Million in today’s money. As they years moved on I learned more and more and read more and read the diary of Anne Frank and visited the home of Anne Frank in Amsterdam.
Bringing the story up to date I have read many personal accounts of survivors of the Holocaust and will continue to support their personal stories.
I am also proud and honoured to be supporting for the second year The Jewish Book Week which is currently being held in London.
For further details of The Jewish Book Week 2019: http://jewishbookweek.com/
Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li
There are many conversations we have in life and some that are difficult but at the same time there are conversations that none of us want to have. In Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li (Hamish Hamilton) is a deeply moving account of a mother having a conversation with her son who took his own life.
It is understandable that some may find this an uncomfortable book to pick up and read, but what I would say is do not be put off, this is a remarkable story that is being told. The narrator is a Chinese – American writer and it was her son Nikolai who was full of life took his own life, leaving his mother to try and understand why.
Soon after her son’s death a conversation begins between them and it is an extended conversation and sometimes Nikolai would seem to be a little harsh on his mother. We start to learn about Nikolai and what he really enjoyed in life but also the pain that was clearly there. As I was reading I guess I fell into a trap expecting to learn why Nikolai took his own life but it is his mother who talks of life after her son is gone. There are many questions in life and sometimes no matter how hard we try answers are never found.
I have been very lucky to have read many great books so far this year but there is something here that is just remarkable, there is no doubt it is an incredibly sad novel to read but Where Reasons End is nothing short of a masterpiece of a novel. As a writer Yiyun Li is at the top of her game as a writer and one everyone who loves writers should be shouting her name from every rooftop.
Of course this is a book that pour out grief and unspeakable pain and it should be, but this conversation that takes place is in a place that none of us want ever to visit.
There is real sadness about Where Reasons End when you understand Yiyun Li’s own life. Do writers sometimes write to escape? I don’t fully know the answer to that question but I would seriously recommend reading Where Reasons End.
Thank you to Hamish Hamilton for the review copy of Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li.
Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li was published by Hamish Hamilton and was published on 7th February 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.