BlogTour This Wild, Wild Country by Inga Vesper

It’s my turn on the BlogTour This Wild, Wild Country by Inga Vesper – the captivating new mystery from the author of The Long, Long Afternoon.

About the Author

Inga Vesper is a journalist and editor. She moved to the UK from Germany to work as a carer, before the urge to write and explore brought her to journalism. As a reporter, she covered the coroner’s court and was able to observe how family, neighbours and police react to a suspicious death. Inga has worked in Syria and Tanzania, but now lives in Glasgow, because there’s no better way to find a good story than eavesdropping on the chatter in a Scottish cafe on a rainy day. Follow @wekesperos on Twitter,

About the book

Three women. An isolated town. A decades-old mystery. – They hate me down there, in Boldville. I can read it in their eyes, smell it on their noxious breaths. That dreaded little town hates everything about me: not just my personality and form, the clothes I wear, but the way I think. The things that I know.

1933. Cornelia Stover is headstrong and business-minded – not the kind of woman the men of Boldville, New Mexico, expect her to be. Then she stumbles upon a secret hidden out in the hills . . .

1970. Decades later, Joanna Riley, a former cop, packs up her car in the middle of the night and drives west, fleeing an abusive marriage and a life she can no longer bear. Eventually, she runs out of gas and finds herself in Boldville, a sleepy desert town in the foothills of the Gila Mountains.

Joanna was looking for somewhere to retreat, to hide, but something is off about this place. In a commune on the outskirts a young man has been found dead and Joanna knows a cover up when she sees it. Soon, she and Glitter, a young, disaffected hippie, find themselves caught up in a dark mystery that goes to the very heart of Boldville, where for too long people have kept their eyes shut and turned their heads away. A mystery that leads them all the way back to the unexplained disappearance of Glitter’s grandmother Cornelia forty years before . . .

Review

For me the veins of gold in this story – pun totally intended – are the moments in history that have been retold through the lens of those who write history. Predominantly white men, who speak of free love, rebellion, lack of boundaries and peace. What would those historical movements look like if told through the lens of women, but stripped down to the bare facts without the flowy, flowery, drug-fuelled unicorn fluff of that era.

How many people have shoved their own MeToo moments into a box and labelled it all part of the hippie culture and free love movement. Then swallowed those moments and the trauma eventually surfaces when the confines of those times no longer have any validity. Often things are merely in vogue or the way the voice of the people rises above the norms of society with loud murmurs of discontent.

It’s interesting how those murmurs and attempts at changing the status quo are recalled. A certain element of irresponsibility and lack of clarity, a minor blip of youth experimentation. The reality hidden behind the exterior of talk of peace and harmony.

In a way all of the main characters share their own moments in history where they are stereotyped, abused and oppressed, which is where their paths meet. It’s an interesting second book from this author, and has its place when you consider the first book. A mystery hidden in a forest full of issues, emotional baggage, and a story of women. I wonder where the story and the author will lead us next.

Buy This Wild, Wild Country at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Bonnier Zaffre – Manilla Press pub date 4 Aug. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour The Girl in the Photo by Heidi Amsinck

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Girl in the Photo by Heidi Amsinck. This is the second book in the Jensen series.

About the Author

Heidi Amsinck is a writer and a journalist born in Copenhagen now living in London. She was London Correspondent for the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten. She has written many stories for BBC Radio 4, all read by Tim McInnerny. She was previously shortlisted for the VS Pritchett Memorial Prize. My Name is Jensen, her first thriller, was published to critical acclaim in 2021 and has been translated into Danish and German. Follow @HeidiAmsinck1 on Twitter, Visit heidiamsinck.co.uk

About the book

When ninety-year-old Irene Valborg is found brutally murdered in an affluent suburb of Copenhagen, her diamond necklace missing, it looks like a burglary gone wrong. When two more victims are attacked, the police lament a rise in violence against the elderly, but who is the young girl in the photo found by DI Henrik Jungersen on the scenes of crime? 

Impatient to claim her inheritance, Irene’s daughter hires former Dagbladet reporter Jensen and her teenage apprentice Gustav to find the necklace. Henrik finds himself once more pitched in a quest for the truth against Jensen – the one woman in Copenhagen he is desperate to avoid.

Review

This is the second book in the Scandinavian Crime series Jensen, both books can be read as standalone novels, however I would recommend reading the first in the series – it’s a great read and you get a better gist of how Jensen and Henrik got to the point they are at in this book.

It begins with the brutal death of an elderly woman, the theft of expensive jewellery, and the photo of a young girl that seems to link further crimes. DI Henrik Jungersen is tasked with investigating, bit the daughter of the elderly woman believes the police are dragging their feet – enter Jensen from stage left to help solve the crime. 

The involvement of Jensen complicates matters for Henrik who is actively trying to remain out of her very enticing orbit, or is he? Indeed she keeps popping up as further crimes seem to suggest an insidious link between what appear to be unrelated events.

Henrik might need to accept the fact he has a wee bit of an obsession with Jensen. Making up scenarios and situations in his head – the attempt to restrict his fantasy and desires, whilst simultaneously pushing them forward. Being privy to his alleged wish to repair the damage to his existing relationship with his wife gives the reader a certain impression, but does he really want to repair it? Is he trying to convince us or himself? Is it just me or does it wander into the realms of something more than just being attracted to Jensen. If Henrik was anyone other than an upstanding police officer, would it be more than unrequited passion? Hmm, I wonder.

I kind of enjoy the whole imbalance and element of the who is the main driver or character of this story. It says Jensen on the box, and yet Henrik is right up there leading the way, whilst Jensen gets the space and time to expand upon the more elusive and intriguing air surrounding her persona. In fact it’s probably the instability of each of them in their own way that draws the reader in.

I like the fact the author doesn’t rely on the previous success and path forged by the characters in book one. Instead the is a very conscious effort to delver not only a riveting read, but also create pathways for further development. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

Buy The Girl in the Photo at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : ‎Muswell Press pub date 28 July 2022. Buy at Amazon com.  

#BlogTour Legacy of Guilt by L.J. Morris

It’s my turn on the BlogTour Legacy of Guilt by L.J. Morris.

About the Author

L. J. Morris was born in Cold War, West Germany, but grew up in the North of England. During his childhood, books were always an important part of his life. He read everything he could get his hands on but always found himself drawn towards the thriller genre. At 16, eager to see the world he had read about, he left school and spent most of the 80s and 90s serving in the Royal Navy.

After his military service, he continued to live and work across Europe, The USA, and Southeast Asia for several more years. It was during this time that his love of storytelling resurfaced. He jotted down ideas, using the locations he found himself in as a backdrop, and added in details from his own experiences to make the stories feel authentic.

He now lives back in the North of England, with his wife and two sons, where he still works in the defence industry. His short stories have appeared in several anthologies and the first of his Ali Sinclair thriller novels, Desperate Ground, was published in 2018 by Bloodhound Books. The sequel, Hunting Ground, followed a year later. Follow @LesJMorris, Visit ljmorrisauthor.com

About the book

The latest espionage thriller from L. J. Morris, the best-selling author of the Ali Sinclair series.

When photographs of a missing Russian missile scientist show he is still alive, and a Soviet era nuclear warhead goes missing in Iraq, ex-marine Logan Palmer must track them both down before the Plutonium can be turned into a devastating, terrorist weapon. But, with thousands of lives at risk, Palmer doesn’t realise that the only person in the world he cares about is the one that’s in the most danger. Neither does he know whether he’ll survive long enough to save anyone. 

Review

Logan Palmer is old school when it comes to his job and his family or what’s left of his family. The full force of the premise is focused on the action thriller element with Palmer’s family playing a pivotal yet secondary role. They are the driving force behind his choices and his motivation, especially when he is roped back into a mission for the clandestine government groups – the ones who pull the strings in the background.

He takes the job for the money, money he needs for said family, but has no idea just how deep of a quagmire of destruction and ruthless plots he is getting himself into. It just seems like another job, albeit one that could mean the difference between many lives destroyed and lots of innocent people being able to exist further without any knowledge of the danger they are in.

It’s an explosive, fast-paced action read with elements of espionage and military genres. It starts off like a large marble ball at the top of a hill which slowly picks up speed and then becomes a runaway train without a brake – a collision waiting to happen. The question is whether Palmer can stop the train and the inevitable from happening.

I think it is definitely a read that will appeal to readers who like their reads action heavy and with less emphasis on the relationships between characters – the core is action and it certainly delivers it tenfold.

Buy Legacy of Guilt at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : ‎Dark Edge Press pub date 2 Aug. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#Review The Hedge Witch by Cari Thomas

The Hedge Witch: A Threadneedle novella -a small slice of the Threadneedle universe, with more to come! And the cover is amazing.

About the Author

Cari Thomas is author of the Sunday Times Bestseller, Threadneedle – her debut novel and the first in her language of Magic series.

Cari grew up in the Wye Valley area of Wales and, after studying English Literature & Creative Writing at Warwick University and Magazine Journalism at the Cardiff School of Journalism, moved to London. She worked as a journalist and at a creative agency, before finally doing what she’d always wanted to do: quit her job and write a book about magic.

The result was Threadneedle. Be introduced to a world of wild, ancient witchcraft hidden within today’s London; where libraries made of books breathe dusty pages beneath the city, where witch clubs serve up magical cocktails and vintage shops sell memories. A world where magic gleams light and very, very dark.

Cari now lives in Wales with her husband and son. Discover more on her website: carithomas.com, Follow @Cari_Threads on Twitter.

About the book

Rowan is visiting her aunt – Winne the hedge witch – in the Welsh countryside, to get back to nature and hone her skills, as well as taking a break from her annoying sisters and enjoying some peace and quiet. However, Rowan soon comes to realise that hedges are a serious business and this isn’t quite the opportunity to rest and escape she thought it might be.

Not only that, but mysterious events around the town are causing panic in the secret magical community and cowans – non-magical folk – are starting to take notice. Can Rowan hone her hedge craft, try to make some friends and solve the riddle of the mysterious goings-on, or is magic about to be revealed to the world … or at least Wales?

Review

This is a novella that fits into the Threadneedle universe, a world of magic and of self-discovery. If you haven’t read the first book I would certainly suggest doing so. Saying that, this can absolutely be read as a standalone story and there are more to come.

Rowan is sent to spend her summer holidays with an aunt in the country, very reluctantly I might add. She would rather be spending it pretending to be part of a large social group at school – the truth is she is an outsider who struggles to fit in everywhere.

Part of the holiday regime is learning what her aunt has to teach about being a hedge witch, learning to respect the hedge and communicate with it, to harness the power that flows within her. Power that needs structure instead of erratic emotions and lack of focus, but Rowan is a teenager who would rather discover new friends and break the rules.

It’s a lovely story, a sort of tentacle that reaches from the hive – one of the many threads of magic of this series. It’s also a story for both the young and old.

Buy The Hedge Witch at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏:‎ HarperVoyager pub date 7 July 2022. Buy at Amazon com. Buy via Harper Collins.

#BlogTour My Name is Ten by Colleen MacMahon

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour My Name is Ten by Colleen MacMahon. I loved this book and can’t wait to read more by this author.

About the Author 

Colleen MacMahon is an English actress, artist and award winning author of short stories. She has narrated audiobooks, designed book covers, written plays for theatre groups and taught and mentored children, young adults and so-called grown ups. She lives in the beautiful Devon countryside with three dogs, a lot of wildlife, and a (mostly) patient partner who spends an unreasonable amount of time sorting out her technical messes. 

My Name Is Ten is her debut novel and she is currently working on its sequel. Follow @CollMacMahon on Twitter, Visit colleenmacmahon.com

About the book

If only the perfect are entitled to live, who chooses the ones that should die? – By 2092 the world has been left scorched by the catastrophic solar eruptions of 2025 and turned largely into desert. The competition for resources is fierce and often brutal. The young, healthy and fertile are commodities prized for their resilience and reproductive potential; they are bred, bought and traded by the wealthy elite and discarded when no longer of use.

When 17 year old Akara – once a pampered and highly valued Protégé – loses both her physical perfection and her proof of pedigree, she is incarcerated in The Kennels. If she is not adopted she is condemned to die. Damaged, alone and woefully unprepared for survival beyond her gilded cage, Akara must begin to learn both humility and true self worth, before she can start to fight for her right to exist.

Review

Not going to lie, I love the premise and the story – in a omg that is really terrible for the main character and the future sucks eggs kind of way – that is the joy of reading work by someone who is able to bring something invigorating, fresh and intriguing to the table.

Ten knows her worth and demands to be acknowledged as the asset she is or was, however she is no longer the picture of flawless beauty and lacks any bargaining chips because of it. She finds herself in what we would ironically call a kill shelter in our day and age. There is no difference, aside from the fact the inmates are human, and the only way to cheat the inevitable death sentence is to be adopted. In their lonely prison the inhabitants are dehumanised by reducing them to numbers instead of names. This is the story of the journey that brought Ten to this place and whether or not she can escape her fate.

I found the subtle parallels drawn between our current society and a desolate future one very perceptive. The throwaway culture in regards to humanity or rather certain people in our society, and the fight for survival as vital resources slowly disappear. The lack of respect for human life, the eradication of parental bonds as each life born is considered in monetary value, and the emphasis on perfection equating to worth. A lot of painful realities lurking in this dystopian story. 

I also found it hard to remember that it was set in the future – it often had a medieval era vibe to it with the occasional stark remember of the desolate surroundings, which I assume was intentional. The sad realisation that humanity is doomed to repeat history and their destructive patterns.

Incredible debut, excellent premise and writing. I am really looking forward to the next book – definitely an author to watch.

Buy My Name is Ten at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published, pub date 1 May 2022. Buy at Amazon com

#Blogtour A Killer Legacy by Jim McGhee

 It’s my turn on the Blogtour A Killer Legacy by Jim McGhee.

About the Author

Jim McGhee’s a former award-winning environmental journalist. Based in East Lothian, near Edinburgh, Scotland, he spends much of each year (in normal times) in the South of France, the main setting for the DI Barney Mains series, with tolerant wife Jean and rampant Irish Terrier, Jack.

After a full-on career as a campaigning newspaper reporter, he and Jean launched their own recruitment company in central Edinburgh and for twelve fun-packed years worked closely together alongside their brilliant team – without spilling a single drop of blood.

The Alpes-Maritimes and Var departments, on the other hand, have provided a host of dramatic locations just perfect as inspiration for the odd spot of fictional gore.

Locals, blessed with scenery ranging from unspoiled mountain villages to the classic palms-and-marinas coast, claim that they can be swimming one moment and skiing a little over an hour later. Though when not writing or travelling en famille, Jim’s more likely to be off on a hike in the hills with his ever-ready buddy, Jack. Follow @bigbarneymains, Visit jimmcghee.net

About the book

A serial killer is executed in a courtroom surrounded by police. Who in their right mind would take such a risk? And why? But in a South of France being torn apart by anti-British protests and deadly wildfires, nothing is as it seems. 

Amidst the chaos, DI Barney Mains must somehow distinguish friend from foe. For he has been landed with the victim’s dying wish. And it’s something he just has to do. Even if it kills him…

Review

This is the third book in the DI Barney Mains series and can be read as a standalone novel. I would however recommend reading the first two books in the series.

Barney, retired and yet never really completely retired, is roped into solving a spate of vandalism, thefts and arson. Simultaneously he is also trying to solve the assassination of the murderer he caught. The irony of it all. Not sure I would try so hard, but then perhaps I’m not as conscientious as Barney – the man is determined to solve the cases he is handed. 

I enjoyed the way the author gives readers a less fluffed out version of ex-pats living in France. The wealthy who would have voted with confidence for the cord to be cut between Europe and the UK, and yet still want the full benefit of living as if the cord hadn’t slowly unravelled and is threatening to snap.

The reawakened simmering discord between the French and the English, a historical throwback of tension, and the ever present discord (deep resentment) between the Scottish and the English – all woven into the plot in a light-hearted way. 

The way the essence of morality, the boundary between justice and vengeance, is carried on a platter in front of everyone is this book, and yet swept under the rug bit by bit as the story progresses. An interesting crime read that gives the reader the mystery of the plot, whilst delivering strong character development with the same depth.

Buy A Killer Legacy at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour By Her Own Design by Piper Huguley

It’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour By Her Own Design: A Novel of Ann Lowe, Fashion Designer to the Social Register written by Piper Huguley. I loved this book!

About the Author

Piper Huguley is the author of the Home to Milford College and the Migrations of the Heart series. She is a multiple-time Golden Heart finalist. Piper blogs about the history behind her novels on her website. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and son. Follow @piperhuguley on Twitter, Visit piperhuguley.com

About the book

The incredible untold story of how Ann Lowe, a Black woman and granddaughter of slaves, rose above personal struggles and racial prejudice to design and create one of America’s most famous wedding dresses of all time for Jackie Kennedy.

1953, New York City – Less than a week before the society wedding of the year where Jacqueline Bouvier will marry John F. Kennedy, a pipe bursts at Ann Lowe’s dress shop and ruins eleven dresses, including the expensive wedding dress, a dress that will be judged by thousands. A Black designer who has fought every step of the way, Ann knows this is only one struggle after a lifetime of them. She and her seamstresses will find the way to re-create the dresses. It may take all day and all night for the next week to accomplish the task, but they will do it.

1918, Tampa – Raised in Jim Crow Alabama, Ann learned the art of sewing from her mother and her grandmother, a former slave, who are the most talented seamstresses in the state. After Ann elopes at twelve with an older man who soon proves himself to be an abusive alcoholic, her dreams of becoming a celebrated designer seem to be put on hold. But then a wealthy Tampa socialite sees Ann’s talent and offers her an amazing opportunity—the chance to sew and design clothing for Florida’s society elite. Taking her young son in the middle of the night, Ann escapes her husband and embarks on the adventure of a lifetime.

Based on the true story of one of the most famous designers of the twenties through the sixties who has since been unjustly forgotten, By Her Own Design is an unforgettable novel of determination despite countless obstacles and a triumph celebrated by the world.

Review

Although the story of Ann begins at the end of her life, it perhaps does her more justice, because the battles she fought and the hills she had to climb to achieve her dreams and goals – the reader thinks they know how her journey will progress or at least they think they do. 

The reality of course is that the hardships endured, the racism faced, and the courageous and dangerous decisions made, are the norm for her because she is a black woman. The white privilege she is surrounded by is a pill to be taken daily with a portion of steadily controlled seething anger. And yet at the core is the child, the girl who is plucked from innocence and thrust into the stark reality of womanhood. The girl, who learns to covet and embrace the bonds of sisterhood, maternal strength and the protection of those who endured and survived the same before her.

This is the story of an artist, a woman with an incredible talent for design and fashion, who wrote history and yet has been forgotten by those who wrote it.

I absolutely loved this book and I really hope someone makes a screen version of it – Oscar material right here. The author has fixed an injustice by bringing the important story of Ann to the forefront of our minds, and in doing so ensures that she receives her rightful place in the history of design and fashion. Kudos to the author for the storytelling, the excellent writing and for sharing this story with us all.

It is a travesty that the voices, the achievements, designs, inventions, and their pivotal input and influence on our developments and history in general, of women – especially women who belong to marginalised and oppressed groups – have been erased from historical narratives. Whitewashed from history. This is a perfect example of every detail being known to the world, except the part where a black woman designed the wedding dress of one of the most well-known historical figures of the 20th century, and yet somehow it has become the one detail that is never mentioned. I highly recommend this book – it’s an excellent read.

Buy By Her Own Design at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : William Morrow PB, pub date 21 July 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

#Blogtour Total Control by Alex Shaw

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Total Control by Alex Shaw.

About the Author

Alex Shaw spent the second half of the 1990s in Kyiv, Ukraine running his own business consultancy before being head-hunted for a division of Siemens. The next few years saw him doing business for the company across the former USSR, the Middle East, and Africa. Most recently he has spent several years in Doha, Qatar.

Alex is an active member of the ITW (The International Thriller Writers organisation) and the CWA (the Crime Writers Association). He is the author of three international bestselling thriller series featuring Aidan Snow, Jack Tate and Sophie Racine, and the standalone ‘Delta Force Vampire’. His writing has also been published in several thriller anthologies.

Total Blackout was Shortlisted for the 2021 Wilbur  Smith Adventure Writing Prize – Best Published Novel.

Alex, his wife and their two sons divide their time between homes in Kyiv – Ukraine, Sussex – England and Doha – Qatar. Follow Alex on twitter: @alexshawhetman

About the book

The target doesn’t exist. – When cyber terrorist Fang Bao abruptly reappears after years in hiding, MI6 agent and former SAS trooper Jack Tate is sent to bring him in – but when Fang is assassinated by an unknown assailant, Tate realises he was only a pawn in a plot that threatens to put the whole world in danger.

The mission is impossible. – Now Tate has to uncover a lethal conspiracy that stretches all the way from Germany through the United States and into the dark heart of the jungle in Myanmar. As the enemy hunt down the owners of military secrets that would make them indestructible, Tate must race to identify not only their next target, but the enemy themselves.

The war is about to begin… Soon he learns the dark truth at the heart of the global conspiracy. The enemy doesn’t want to just assassinate a world leader; they want to make war – and Tate is the only one who can stop them.

Review

This is the third book in the Jack Tate series, which can all be read as standalone novels. This plot is a timely one I think. The necessity of the US and Uk having to work together to combat a common enemy. An insidious game of blame can and will decide the fate of many. A treacherous game of propaganda in the cyber arena. What better way to cause havoc than to present one scenario to fool the world, and in doing so create an explosive situation.

Influencing the outcomes, whilst creating the right kind of weaknesses to exploit. It’s the kind of plot that isn’t beyond the realms of reality, which is probably what makes it a good read.

It was interesting to see a Tate willing to take a risk and he was certainly teetering quite close to the edge when it comes to controlling his anger. I wonder if it is intentional – a way to show the burden of stress, the result of living a life on a lethal tightrope.

When I recommend books I have quite a few readers (often men) who look for a particular genre, which can be a bit niche. I’m glad I can add another author to the list of recommendations when it comes to this action thriller, with a military vibe. The author knows exactly how to pace the story and keep it rolling until the very end.

Buy Total Control at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : ‎HQ Digital, pub date 21 July 2022. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Harper Collins.

#Review Operation Moonlight by Louise Morrish

 A great story based on real events during WW2 – Operation Moonlight by Louise Morrish. ‘Wartime France. A newly trained agent. A deadly mission.’

About the Author

Louise Morrish is a Librarian whose debut novel won the 2019 Penguin Random House First Novel Competition – chosen from over 4000 entries – in partnership with the Daily Mail. She finds inspiration for her stories in the real-life adventures of women in the past, whom history has forgotten. She lives in Hampshire with her family. Follow @LouiseMorrish1 on Twitter, Find out more about Louise at linktr.ee/louisemorrish

About the book

1944: newly recruited SOE agent Elisabeth Shepherd is faced with an impossible mission: to parachute behind enemy lines into Nazi-occupied France and monitor the new long-range missiles the Germans are working on. Her only advice? Trust absolutely no one. With danger lurking at every turn, one wrong move for Elisabeth could spell instant death.

2018: Betty is about to celebrate her 100th birthday. With her carer Tali at her side, she receives an invite from the Century Society to reminisce on the past.

Remembering a life shrouded in secrecy and danger, Betty remains tight-lipped. But when Tali finds a box filled with maps, letters and a gun hidden in Betty’s cellar, it becomes clear that Betty’s secrets are about to be uncovered . . .

Nostalgic, heart-pumping and truly page-turning, Operation Moonlight is both a gripping read and a novel that makes you think about a generation of women and men who truly knew what it meant to survive.

The inspiration for Operation Moonlight – The real-life SOE heroines of WW2

The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was a clandestine government organisation, authorized by Winston Churchill in 1940 to ‘set Europe ablaze’, which recruited and trained over 400 secret agents, 39 of them women. Only a handful of these female secret agents have been remembered for their brave achievements.

In 1942, in an unprecedented move, women were recruited into the organisation. The decision shocked and angered some people, not least because if women were given the right to bear arms they would no longer be protected by the Geneva Convention. This meant that if they were caught by the enemy, they could not expect to be treated as prisoners of war.

Nevertheless, 39 French speaking women, some of them wives and mothers, their ages ranging from 19 to 51, from a variety of backgrounds, were recruited. Once recruited, the women embarked on a 4-stage course, training alongside their male counterparts.

If the agents passed the stringent criteria, they were then sent to paramilitary training in Arisaig, Scotland. Here, they learned to survive in the beautiful, yet wild and unforgiving Scottish landscape. On the remote beaches and secluded moors, they were taught the rudiments of demolition and sabotage.

The second stage of the agents’ course was parachute training, which took place at Ringway Aerodrome in Manchester. Up until now, the women had endured everything the male agents experienced. But when it came to jumping from a plane, the women were only expected to make three practise jumps, their fourth being into France. The men, however, performed an additional night jump, and thus were awarded their ‘wings’.

The final stage of training was known as Finishing School, and took place at various Stately Homes such as Beaulieu in Hampshire. Here, the agents honed their skills in espionage, and undertook pseudo-schemes, evading capture by the Southampton police force, in readiness for their real missions in France.

Of the 39 women who risked their lives as agents, 12 were executed following their capture by the Germans, while one died of meningitis during her mission. The remainder survived the war.

Writing Operation Moonlight, Louise Morrish took inspiration from all the female agents of the SOE, but three women – in addition to Louise’s grandmother Betty – in particular: Noor Inayat Khan, Violette Szabo, and Odette Sansom Hallowes, whom Morrish researched in detail at The National Archives, at Kew.

Review

This is a dual timeline read – the reader is taken back and forth from 2018 and to the 1940s, as the secrets of an old lady who is about to celebrate a milestone birthday start to emerge. Betty still finds it hard to change old habits, which is to let sleeping dogs lie because you’ve been taught to never say a word, ergo periods of her life have been hidden from everyone around her. It also means there has never been any recognition for the her bravery.

You already low-key know you’re going to enjoy a book when you start casting the characters for the screen version shortly after starting the book. It has the emotional bonding of Home Fire with Bletchley House suspense, and I would very much like to throw in a pop culture reference  – it absolutely gave me Fall From Grace vibes.

It’s both tragically sad and disappointing that although we remember the casualties of war every year, we seem to forget the service and sacrifice of the living, during the same periods of time in history. It’s a strange phenomenon that those who returned were revered less than those who didn’t, to live forever in the shadow of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and yet is or was theirs not equally as great.

It’s a riveting historical fiction read, which is even more fascinating given the true events it is based on, and the author absolutely does her personal connection to the story justice. These women were incredibly brave, especially considering the lack of support they knew to expect if they were caught. It’s an incredible part of history that has taken a secondary place in comparison to the actions and deaths of others.

Buy Operation Moonlight at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Century, pub date 21 July 2022. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Penguin Uk.

#Blogtour The Stars Among Us by Sanja S. Jungic

 It’s my turn on the Blogtour The Stars Among Us by Sanja S. Jungic.

About the Author

Sanja S. Jungic’s bestselling debut novel, Zvijezde medu nama (The Stars Among Us) was published in Croatian in 2019. The novel was inspired by Sanja’s real life experience on the set of mega-popular show Game of Thrones, gaining a lot of press interest. 

This prompted Sanja to write her second novel, Ti si moje sve (You are My Everything), whilst having Zvijezde medu nama translated into English by the renowned Croatian translator Neven Divjakinja. 

Sanja is very excited to see her bestselling debut published in English for the first time. She lives in Zagreb with her husband Saša and their pets Toya, Cecilije and Egidije. You can find out more about Sanja at sanjasjungic.com. Connect with Sanja on Facebook sanjasrdicjungic, Twitter @ssshedreams1988 and on Instagram @sanjasjungic

About the book

Nora is as shocked as her friends and family when she quits a perfectly good job to become an extra in a Hollywood movie being filmed in Dubrovnik. She hopes it will help her move on from a painful break-up and give her breathing space to find out what she wants to do with her life.

To Nora’s delight she discovers that she loves every minute in her new “temporary” career. It doesn’t hurt either that the handsome assistant director, Ivor, takes more than a passing interest in her. But then events take a dramatic and unforeseen turn when Lucas Winter, world-famous actor and Nora’s teenage heartthrob, unexpectedly arrives on set…

The Stars Among Us is inspired by the author’s real-life experience of being an extra on the set of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Lindsey Kelk and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Review

Nora is probably braver and more reckless than a lot of her peers. Discarding everything to follow what others consider to be a pipe dream, but isn’t it better to have tried than to always regret not trying at all. There she is in a strange country, struggling financially, and having her first taste of the world of show business. 

The work of an extra on a movie set isn’t very glamorous, however things start to look up when Nora connects with the assistant director. That in itself brings certain complications to the table, but nothing like the whirlwind of emotions heading her way when destiny charts her life with the possibilities of two endings.

The writing was a little he said, she said and a bit YA-ish at times which may or may not be the lack of voice coming through via translation, or the style of the author. An emerging voice with a strong premise though.

I think the sentiment that I took from this book, and indeed it is a lens through which I would view my own choices in life, is that: without your story there, wouldn’t be our story. It’s hard to navigate emotional minefields and baggage to get to the specific details and core of your emotions, and said emotional baggage, where you can accept the aforementioned and view it with such simplicity.

Sometimes you have to wade through the forest to get to the tranquil beach. Do you forget the trek, the scratches or the journey – no, but it fades with time as you enjoy the destination you ultimately chose. Nora embarks on a turbulent adventure indeed.

Buy The Stars Among Us at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.