Hello Lovelies! Please excuse our dust while we do a bit of construction on the blog. We will still be posting exciting reviews, brilliant guest posts, and exciting giveaways but we are in the process of transforming the blog and adding new content and features for you to enjoy.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Review: The Paris Secret

Title: The Paris Secret
Author: Natasha Lester
Publisher: 31st March 2020 by Hachette Australia
Pages: 464 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction
My Rating: 5 crowns


A wardrobe of Dior gowns, a secret kept for sixty-five years, and the three women bound forever by war... from the New York Times bestselling author of The French Photographer
England, 1939 Talented pilot Skye Penrose joins the British war effort where she encounters her estranged sister, Liberty, and childhood soulmate Nicholas Crawford, now engaged to enigmatic Frenchwoman Margaux Jourdan.
Paris, 1947 Designer Christian Dior unveils his extravagant first collection to a world weary of war and grief. He names his debut fragrance, Miss Dior, in tribute to his sister, Catherine, who worked for the French Resistance.
Present day Australian fashion conservator Kat Jourdan discovers a secret wardrobe filled with priceless Dior gowns in her grandmother's vacant cottage. As she delves into the mystery, Kat begins to doubt everything she thought she knew about her beloved grandmother.
An unspeakable betrayal will entwine all of their fates.
The Dior Secret is an unforgettable story about the lengths people go to protect one another, and a love that, despite everything, lasts a lifetime.
My Thoughts

Natasha Lester continues to produce spellbinding tale after spellbinding tale. Once more she delivers with another historical showpiece, a dual time narrative that will have you on the edge of your seat until you finally, and regrettably, turn the last page. If you have never read a Natasha Lester book (historical fiction fan or not) then you are missing out. I have loved everything she has written and her latest, ‘The Paris Secret’ is no exception. 

‘She wished it were that simple; that a life could be changed in the same way words in a book could be recast into a different version, a better version. A happy ever after.’

Where does one start in trying to encapsulate all that is ‘The Paris Secret’? It is a tale of family, a tale of war and a tale of love. There are multiple locations - Paris, Cornwall, Australia and concentration camps. There are timelines from pre war, during war (WWII) and post war. There are secrets and sacrifices. There is an array of characters .... but all of it .... ALL OF IT is wound together so seamlessly and perfectly to produce an amazingly poetic tapestry of storytelling. You will read the story, then reread the story, never wanting it to end making it a perfect example of masterclass writing. The amount of research undertaken, as so much of it is based on fact, is to be applauded. The Author’s Note at the end testifies to that. 

At its heart is a tale of the extent people go to to protect those they love. You cannot help but be moved by the  way Natasha magically weaves love, loss and longevity throughout this tale. Come the end of the book you will be filled with such an array of emotions, truly feeling at a loss for all that has been played out. Your heart will break for more than one character in this wonderful tale with a climactic but befitting ending. 

Am I gushing? Yes I am. Natasha is an amazing author with her words lingering on long after you have turned the final page. She is a delightful author, so accessible on social media and so very humble. Thank you for your storytelling .... never doubt that you are an incredibly talented writer and congratulations on producing and sharing the amazing tale that is, The Paris Secret.

‘He wanted to tear the moon from the sky and extinguish it in the sea so she wouldn’t see the agony on his face. ‘I was just ... ' he started to say. Just trying to do the right thing. The right thing in a wrong world.  A world he alone couldn’t change.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Review: The Light After the War

Title: The Light After the War
Author: Anita Abriel
Publisher: 1st February 2020 by Simon & Schuster (Australia)
Pages: 320 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction, world war II
My Rating: 2.5 crowns

In the bestselling tradition of THE GIRL FROM MUNICH and THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ, an extraordinary tale based on the true story of how the author’s mother survived World War II against all odds.
In 1946 two  young Hungarian refugees arrive in Naples determined to start a new life after losing everyone they loved before the war. Vera Frankel and her best friend, Edith Ban, are haunted by their terrifying escape from a train headed for Auschwitz after their mothers threw them from the carriage, promising they would follow. But instead the girls found themselves alone in a frozen, alien land. They managed to find refuge and barter for their lives by working on an isolated farm in Austria until the end of the war.
Armed with a letter of recommendation from an American general, Vera finds work and new hope at the United States Embassy and, despite her best intentions, falls in love the handsome and enigmatic Captain Anton Wight. But as Vera and Edith grapple with the aftermath of the war, so too does Anton, and when he suddenly disappears, Vera is forced to drastically change course. Their quest to overcome their terrible losses and rebuild their lives takes Vera and Edith from Naples to Ellis Island to Venezuela and finally Sydney as they begin to build careers, reunite with old friends – and find love.
Heartbreakingly moving and compelling, THE LIGHT AFTER THE WAR is inspired by the story of the author’s Holocaust survivor mother and her escape with her best friend from a train to Auschwitz.

My Thoughts

The Light After the War is a debut novel inspired by the author’s mother and her experiences in surviving the Holocaust with her friend after both jumping from a train headed for Auschwitz. It is a story about friendship, family, hope and survival. After surviving the war, the two friends arrive in Naples determined to start a new life after losing their families. It then traces their movements over time with flashbacks throughout from before and after the war. 

Sadly, I struggled with this book on a number of fronts. Firstly, the writing is very light, trite and superficial, not the kind of tone one would expect for a holcaust novel. Events are quite predictable and characterisation falls flat. Which leads to my second issue, I feel this should be categorised more as a young adult fiction as so much of the focus is on the love lives of these young girls - a harrowing war tale this is not - mostly their pursuit of love and marriage. Not a lot of time is spent on the girls journey to their initial destination of Naples - it would have been great to read more of their struggles in arriving there. At times, it all just seems a little too easy.  This, of course, lends the reader to little empathy as the girls seem so untouched by events and rather petulant.

“Why do we always have to think about money?” Edith said stubbornly. “We ’re young; we ’re supposed to have fun. I’m going to get a gelato.”

So, if a young adult war romance is what you are after then this surely delivers. Sadly the lack of depth in the narrative - story and characters, plot and predictability - does not assist the reader with any investment in the final outcome - which of course, will satisfy believers in fate and one true love. 

“We have had a good time,” Edith said gently.
“We made friends and I started a business and you’re going to have a baby.” 
..... “The killing was supposed to stop with the war, but it goes on forever.” 
“Death is everywhere, but so is life,” Edith said. “How many mornings did you make me get out of bed ... You taught me we have to give it our best try. We ’re young; we ’re going to lead happy lives.”

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.