#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 Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan.

About the Author

Gilly Macmillan is the New York Times bestselling and Edgar-nominated author of What She Knew, The Perfect Girl, Odd Child Out, The Nanny and To Tell You the Truth. She grew up in Swindon and studied at Bristol University and The Courtauld Institute of Art in London. She has worked at the Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery and has been a lecturer in photography. She now writes full-time and lives in Bristol. Follow @GillyMacmillan on Twitter, Visit gillymacmillan.com

About the book

In an isolated retreat, deep in the Northumbria moors, three women arrive for a weekend getaway. Their husbands will be joining them in the morning. Or so they think.

But when they get to Dark Fell Barn, the women find a devastating note that claims one of their husbands has been murdered. Their phones are out of range. There’s no internet. They’re stranded. And a storms coming in.

Friendships fracture and the situation  spins out of control as each wife tries to find out what’s going on, who is responsible and which husband has been targeted. This was a tight-knit group. They’ve survived a lot. But they won’t weather this. Because someone has decided that enough is enough.

Review

Three couples have planned a retreat together in the middle of nowhere. No neighbours, no internet and depending on the weather it’s a bit like being the last people on earth. Plans change and six become three, three women thrown together by nothing other than the fact their partners are best friends, so spending the weekend together could go both ways.

They expect awkward moments, what they don’t expect is for the weekend to start of with a life or death scenario. A scenario they can do nothing about, because they are not only isolated – they are also more or less stuck. The beginning of a nightmare, with the kind of revelations that can destroy lives.

It’s a well executed domestic psychological thriller, which starts off with the revelation of who is pulling the strings when it comes to this dark plot. The author gives it a cat and mouse feel, and then throws a spanner in the wheel. In fact the unknown variables add to the isolation, the darkness and fear that grows as the women in the midst of it all become more desperate.

It’s a read that weaves the complicated interactions between thrown together friendship groups with the tense build-up of a psychological thriller, so the best of both genres.

Buy The Long Weekend at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Century, pub date 3rd February 2022 – Hardback and eBook £12.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#Review A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz

Another great read in the Hawthorne and Horowitz series!

About the Author

The author of the bestselling teen spy series. Alex Rider, Anthony Horowitz is also responsible for creating and writing some of the UK’s most loved and successful TV series including Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War.

He has also written two highly acclaimed Sherlock Holmes novels, The House of Silk and Moriarty, two James Bond novels, Trigger Mortis and Forever And a Day, and two bestselling crime novels, The Word is Murder and The Sentence is Death, starring Detective Daniel Hawthorne. A Line to Kill is the third in the Daniel Hawthorne series.

In 2016 he wrote Magpie Murders, which became a bestseller around the world, and was the recipient of eight literary awards in Japan. Moonflower Murders, published in August 2020 continued the story. Follow @AnthonyHorowitz on Twitter, Visit anthonyhorowitz.com

About the book 

There has never been a murder on the island of Alderney. But as writers gather for a brand new literary festival a killer lies in wait. An island full of secrets is about to become an island full of suspects…

Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and the writer, Anthony Horowitz have been invited to the festival to talk about their new book. Very soon they discover that dark forces are at work. Alderney is in turmoil over a planned power line that will cut through it, desecrating a war cemetery and turning neighbour against neighbour. And the visiting authors – including a blind medium, a French performance poet and a celebrity chef – seem to be harbouring any number of unpleasant secrets.

When the festival’s wealthy sponsor is found brutally murdered, Alderney goes into lockdown and Hawthorne knows he doesn’t have to look too far for suspects. There’s no escape. The killer is on the island. And there’s about to be a second death…

Review

They do make an excellent sleuthing duo these two. The reluctant, slightly bumbling Horowitz who is almost always in a state of disbelief at the situations he finds himself in, and the all-knowing, brusque, secretive, but very self-assured and slightly arrogant Hawthorne.

Horowitz is never quite sure who has the upper hand in their relationship, especially because Hawthorne seems to have taken over the area of the author’s own expertise. Apparently the two of them are heading to a literary festival on Alderney to promote their new book.

Then murder most wicked happens. Does it have anything to do with the contentious plans for a power line or does it have something to do with the past? 

I do so love this series, the only thing that would make it better would be a visual televised representation of Hawthorne and Horowitz. Hmm, I wonder if Horowitz should play himself? And who would make a great Hawthorne? Absolutely food for thought. Whilst readers wait for that to happen let’s hope we get more books in this series.

Buy A Line to Kill at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Century: pub date 19 August 2021- Hardback £20. Buy at Amazon comOrder via Penguin

#BlogTour The Whispers by Heidi Perks

‘The Whispers is Heidi’s fourth brilliantly fast-paced thriller, which sees seemingly perfect wife and mother Anna Robinson go mysteriously missing after a night out with her fellow Mummy friends. Anna’s oldest friend Grace is beside herself with worry – desperately searching for answers and certain that someone is hiding the truth. But everyone has a theory of what happened to Anna, and as gossip at the school gates begins to turn to violent, time is running out to fine Anna alive…’

About the Author

Heidi Perks is a Sunday Times bestselling author of Now You See Her, Come Back For Me and Three Perfect Liars. Elements of The Whispers are drawn from Heidi’s own personal experience of making friends at the school gates and the intrigues and dramas of motherly friendships. Heidi Perks’ debut novel Now You See Her twice reached the Sunday Times bestseller list, first in hardback in July 2018 at No.9 and again at No.6 in paperback in March 2019 where it was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick for Spring 2019.

Now You See Her has sold over 300,000 copies across formats to date and has received over a staggering 1000 five start reviews on Amazon from readers, with more than 400,000 copies of Heidi’s books sold in the UK alone. Now You See Her has also been optioned for TV from the production company behind BBC One’s ‘The Miniaturist’ and Channel 4’s ‘National Treasure’. Heidi Perks lives with her family in Bournemouth, and sets all over books on the South Coast of England.

She is a graduate of the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative Online Novel Writing Course (the only creative writing school run by a literary agency). Follow Heidi on Twitter @HeidiPerksBooks and join in the conversation with #THEWHISPERS

Follow Heidi on Amazonon Goodreads, Visit heidiperksauthor.co.ukBuy The Whispers

About the book

A missing wife. Four friends. Who is telling the truth? Anna Robinson hasn’t been seen since she went on a night out with her four closest friends.

She has a loving husband, a son she adores, a perfect life… surely she wouldn’t abandon them. And if not, then something terrible must have happened. It’s not long before the rumours start at the school gates where this group of friends all met. What exactly happened on that mum’s night out?

Anna’s oldest friend Grace is beside herself with worry – desperately searching for answers and certain that someone is hiding the truth. With each day that passes, Anna’s life is under increasing threat. And as the pressure mounts, it won’t be long before something cracks…

A scintillating thriller exploring female friendships and the secrets we keep from those who think they know us best.

Review

Two friends reconnecting after many years apart. Sharing the joys of motherhood and their childhood memories. Sounds like such a calm and happy story, right? Err, wrong.

What emerges is an adult playground bullying scenario. A group of friends isolating a newcomer, except the newcomer is an old friend of one of the group. It makes it difficult for both Grace and her young daughter. If you don’t connect with the parent then there is little hope for a connection between the children.

Grace is trying to rekindle the tight sisterly bond she used to have with Anna, but it seems to be falling on deaf ears and some of her new friends are quite antagonistic towards her. Grace feels as if something is simmering just below the surface, a feeling that Anna is in danger somehow. When her friend goes missing after a night out those suspicions appear to be confirmed.

The author knows how to take the most normal of scenarios and extract the paranoia, suspicion and malcontent from them. The darkness that lurks just below the surface, just waiting to pop out when you least expect it. This dark domestic psychological thriller plays on the themes of sisterhood, friendships and what happens when they cross the boundaries into uncomfortable.

Keeping the reader on their toes as they try to discern who is really the bad apple in this scenario, because there are so many areas between good and bad – nothing is ever clear cut.

Buy The Whispers at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Century;  Ebook release – 18th March 2021 – Hardback release – 15th April 2021 – Hardback, £12.99. Buy at Waterstones.

#BlogTour Lost Souls by Jonathan & Jesse Kellerman

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Lost Souls ( also known as Half Moon Bay) by Jonathan Kellerman.

Century will be publishing the new book from international publishing sensations, father and son duo, Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman. Lost Souls is a gripping new thriller featuring deputy coroner Clay Edison, who becomes involved in reopening a fifty-year-old cold case in the beautiful and atmospheric Half Moon Bay area of California.

About the Author

Jonathan Kellerman was born in New York City in 1949 and grew up in Los Angeles. He helped work his way through UCLA as an editorial cartoonist, columnist, editor and freelance musician.

In 1985, Jonathan’s first novel, When the Bough Breaks, was published to enormous critical and commercial success and became a New York Times bestseller. Bough was also produced as a TV movie and won the Edgar Allan Poe and Anthony Boucher Awards for Best First Novel.

Follow on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit jonathankellerman.comBuy Lost Souls

About the book

A detective under pressure – Deputy Coroner Clay Edison is juggling a new baby who won’t sleep with working the graveyard shift. For once he’s trying to keep things simple.

A haunting discovery – When infant remains are found by developers demolishing a local park, a devastating cold case is brought back to light.

A desperate search for answers – Clay has barely begun to investigate when he receives a call from a man who thinks the remains could belong to his sister – who went missing fifty years ago. Now Clay is locked in a relentless search that will unearth a web of violence, secrets and betrayal. – Because in this town, the past isn’t dead. It’s very much alive. And it can kill.

Review

There are so many good crime reads flooding the markets it’s hard to find one that delivers a great read and simultaneously doesn’t leave a reader with that feeling it could have been just a tad better. When I do stumble upon one that manages to grip me from start to finish, and I have no qualms about recommending it – it leaves me with this feeling of having a sated reading experience. A bit like after having a piece of perfectly moist cake covered in sugary frosting. All the right ingredients can become a moment of perfect bliss – if mixed correctly.

Clay is called to a scene where the bones of an infant have been found. As his job begins a desperate and frustrated man contacts him because he thinks the bones belong to his sister. The mystery of the bones draws Clay into a dangerous world of white supremacy, the rebellious essence of the 70s and the sense that some lives fall through the cracks too easily.

Kellerman (both obviously) combines mystery, crime and the parallels between Clay and the people he interacts with, both victims and criminals. The unsung parents who are confronted with the reality of an infant that doesn’t know the books have said it should do xyz at a certain time. Books and experts who, much like the NHS and other medical welfare institutions insist on giving advice to new mothers and fathers – advice that changes as often as the wind changes direction. Advice that doesn’t cover every child or situation. Books written by experts that appear to be gurus in one era but are recognised as the mother-shamers, puppets of the patriarchal system and often nothing more than brand names with theoretical expertise.

It’s a gripping character-driven crime read, an absolute page turner – a cracking read.

Buy Lost Souls at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Cornerstone Digital; pub date 23 July 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Lost Souls is published by Century in £12.99 hardback on 23rd July 2020. Buy at Waterstones.

#BlogTour To Tell You The Truth by Gilly Macmillan

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour To Tell You the Truth by Gilly Macmillan.About the Author

Gilly Macmillan is the New York Times bestselling and Edgar-nominated author of What She Knew (also published as Burnt Paper Sky), The Perfect Girl and Odd Child Out. Gilly grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and lived in Northern California in her late teens. She studied history and worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery in London before starting a family. Gilly has since worked as a photography teacher and she now writes full time. She lives in Bristol with her family.

Follow @GillyMacmillan and @arrowpublishing on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreadson Facebook, Visit gillymacmillan.comBuy To Tell You the Truth

About the book

Lucy Harper has a talent for invention…

She is an exceptionally successful writer whose obsessive readers hound her for every book. But the pressure is extreme. And it’s not just the pressure of finishing her next novel. Years ago when she was a child, Lucy’s little brother went missing and he has never been found. Many people think Lucy was responsible for his disappearance. Lucy herself can’t bear to think about it.

Writing a thriller a year is demanding and Lucy depends on her husband Dan to take care of everything in her life. But Lucy finds herself in a real police drama when Dan goes missing. The evidence points to her. And it isn’t the first time someone’s vanished in Lucy’s orbit.

Did she kill her husband? Would she remember if she did? Is she even capable of telling the truth?

Review

Lucy has decided to do the unthinkable when it comes to having a book character who generates both income and lots of interest. She has written what she wants, as opposed to what everyone else demands, including her personal assistant and husband. Both the same person by the way.

It doesn’t take too long for Dan to become the husband everyone thinks is a privileged tosspot living off the money his best-selling author wife brings in. The sympathy vote swings towards Lucy, well I say that but in reality her past is so dark it’s a case of glass houses. Dan springs an unpleasant surprise on her and she ends up back where all her nightmares began.

I really enjoyed Lucy and Eliza. Forget about the irritating husband – these two know how to steal a scene. I can’t decide whether I really need to know the truth or just admire the author for leaving the status quo as it is. Black hole with plenty of unpleasant possibilities – both cruel and brilliant at the same time.

Macmillan really knocks it out of the ballpark with this read. The way the two are connected via storylines, memories and in real time. The crime is secondary to the often insidious and manipulative nature of the relationship between Lucy and Eliza. Absolutely fascinating, which I would love to go into more detail about, but I think readers should discover this duo for themselves.

It’s a riveting psychological thriller – Macmillan at her best.

Buy To Tell You the Truth at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Century: pub date 25 June 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Three Perfect Liars by Heidi Perks

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Three Perfect Liars by Heidi Perks.

About the Author

Heidi Perks is a Sunday Times bestselling author of Now You See Her and Come Back For Me. Elements of Three Perfect Liars are drawn from Heidi’s own personal experience of being sidelined at work when returning from maternity leave in her previous life as a marketing director for a financial company.

Heidi Perks’ debut novel Now You See Her twice reached the Sunday Times bestseller list, first in hardback in July 2018 at No.9 and again at No.6 in paperback in March 2019 where it was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick for Spring 2019. Now You See Her has sold over 120,000 copies across formats to date and has received a staggering 200 five start reviews on Amazon from readers. It has also been optioned for TV from the production company behind BBC One’s ‘The Miniaturist’ and Channel 4’s ‘National Treasure’. Her follow up novel Come Back For Me sold over 30,000 eBooks in the first month of publication. She sets all over books on the South Coast of England where she lives with her family.

She is a graduate of the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative Online Novel Writing Course (the only creative writing school run by a literary agency). Follow Heidi on Twitter @HeidiPerksBooks and join in the conversation with #ThreePerfectLiars

Follow @HeidiPerksBooks on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreads, Visit heidiperksauthor.co.ukBuy Three Perfect Liars

About the book

You think you know them. You think you know the truth. You are lethally wrong…

When the harbour side offices of a prestigious advertising agency burn down overnight, the lives of three women suspected of the crime are changed for ever.

Laura Denning has returned to work following the birth of her first child, only to find that her maternity cover has been made permanent. She and her boss, Harry Wood, have always been close, but Laura can’t help feeling side-lined or that the new girl is out to get her…

Mia Anderson was brought in as temporary cover for Laura’s position and has quickly become indispensable. But if people knew the truth about why she was really so desperate to stay, they might not welcome her with such open arms…

Janie Wood has given up everything to support her husband Harry and his business. She’ll do anything to keep him and her family safe, but does that include attempted murder…? Who started the fire? And what is the terrible secret that connects the three women?

Review

To her colleagues Laura is the workaholic, the not interested in social interactions and very competitive co-worker. They don’t see the woman who is torn between the baby she wants to nurture and the career she loves. When she walks back into her job after a short maternity leave she doesn’t expect to find the temp running her accounts and more or less in charge.

Mia is perceived as the interloper by Laura, but to everyone else she is the competent worker and to her family she is the rock that holds them together. Is Laura right, is there something more nefarious behind the way Mia has wormed her way into a job that doesn’t belong to her?

Then there is Janie, the woman who has left a successful career to support a husband, who is distracted and holds a torch for another woman. A man who has disdain for the serious complaints his female colleagues and women in general have about his workers and associates.

What do they all have in common? They are women living in a world governed by men, a patriarchal society that ignores the abuse, the assaults and sub-human treatment due to their gender. The only thing worse than a man supporting other men doing all of the aforementioned are women who support the misogyny and cheer the perpetrators on from the sidelines. Is one of our characters guilty of doing exactly that?

It’s a psychological thriller – the kind of story that teeters on the boundaries of morally right or wrong. For me one of the main points is how we as women are often our own worst enemies, whether it be in the workplace, educational environment and most definitely in the home environment. The stay-at-home mom vs the working mother debate has got to be one of the most vicious in regards to women hurting and insulting other women. Oh and bottle vs breast, and ect. Yeh, instead of sisterhood there always seems to be something that divides us to the point of becoming enemies.

Perks always delivers a great read by combining crime, suspense and that question that sits on your shoulder – right or wrong?

Buy Three Perfect Liars at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Cornerstone Digital; eBook pub date 12th March | Hardback – Publisher: Century pub date – 30th April 2020 – £12.99. Buy at Amazon com

Read my review of Now You See Her by Heidi Perks.