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.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Review: The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes

Title: The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes
Author: Ruth Hogan
Publisher: 11th June 2019 by Crooked Lane Books
Pages: 352 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: womens fiction
My Rating: 4 crowns

Masha is drowning.
Once a spirited, independent woman with a rebellious streak, her life has been forever changed by a tragic event twelve years ago.
Unable to let go of her grief, she finds solace in the silent company of the souls of her local Victorian cemetery and at the town's lido, where she seeks refuge underwater - safe from the noise and the pain.
But a chance encounter with two extraordinary women - the fabulous and wise Kitty Muriel, a convent girl-turned-magician's wife-turned-seventy-something-roller-disco-fanatic, and the mysterious Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a prodigious voice - opens up a new world of possibilities, and the chance to start living again.
Until the fateful day when the past comes roaring back...
My Thoughts

‘Some people leave an indelible imprint on your life, like the indentation of a fossil in rock.’

I have thoroughly enjoyed all Ruth Hogan’s novels, so I had high expectations coming into, The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes. Once again she presents you with such an original tale, inclusive of all the quirkiness we have come to know and love. There is a beautiful balance within this novel that contains such overwhelming sadness yet also includes light and a hopeful outlook.

“I want to change my life. I’m not sure how I’m going to do it just yet. I don’t have a plan, just a feeling. A feeling that this, the way I’m living now, is not enough. Not any more. And only I can change it.”

Firstly, the despair and grief that consumes Masha is absolutely palpable. You can begin to imagine what it would be like to lose a child. I also love the relationship she has with her dog especially with her walks through an old Victorian cemetery, where she eventually encounters ‘Sally, Red Shoes’.  The stories Masha creates and love she provides to those dearly departed is heartwarming. The range of supporting characters are magnificent - once again, providing that balance of light and shade. They are vibrant and each have a part to play, especially Sally:

‘As I look up, I realise that Sally is studying my face intently. ‘You have lost your joy.’

What ties everything together in a Ruth Hogan novel is her writing style. There are some pretty hefty themes tackled here but through her quirky prose, you might find yourself welling up on one page and then having a huge smile come the next. Her writing, whilst for Masha is extremely introspective, is also insightful as she confronts the loss of loved ones. Filled to the brim with charm and wit, Ruth brings you through dark despair to rediscover life’s moments of pure joy. Bravo! There is a profound wisdom regaled in such a fashion that it is bound to touch your heart. 

‘... grief is not a linear thing. It reboots unexpectedly at a certain smell or sight or sound, and some days I still feel as though my world is like a patchwork quilt that’s coming unstitched.’

So fear not, Ruth will take you on a journey from the pits of despair to rays of light and hope. Such a talent to write like so and produce yet another beautiful story for her readers. To work through grief and find the will to keep living despite such tragedy and pain. This is an overall uplifting novel filled to the brim with reflective passages.

‘When the music ends for someone you love you don’t stop dancing. You dance for them as well.’

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.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Review: The Daughter's Tale

Title: The Daughter's Tale
Author: Armando Lucas Correa
Publisher: 1st June 2019 by Simon & Schuster (Australia)
Pages: 320 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction
My Rating: 3.5 crowns

Based on the true story of the Nazi massacre of a French village in 1944, an unforgettable tale of love and redemption from the bestselling author of The German Girl. 
New York City, 2015: Elise Duval, eighty years old, receives a phone call from a woman recently arrived from Cuba bearing messages from a time and country that she's long forgotten. A French Catholic who arrived in New York after World War II, Elise and her world are forever changed when the woman arrives with letters written to Elise from her mother in German during the war, unravelling more than seven decades of secrets. 
Berlin, 1939: Bookstore owner and recent widow Amanda Sternberg is fleeing Nazi Germany with her two young daughters, heading towards unoccupied France. She arrives in Haute-Vienne with only one of her girls. Their freedom is short-lived and soon they are taken to a labour camp. 
Inspired by one of the most shocking atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis during World War II, the 1944 massacre of all the inhabitants of the village of Oradour-Sur-Glane in the south of France, The Daughter's Tale is a beautifully crafted family saga of love, survival and hope against all odds.
My Thoughts

“Everybody has their opinion. Everybody thinks they’re right, but where does that get them? Nowhere. Nobody does anything,”

Armando Correa’s, The German Girl” was fabulous and I could not wait to try his latest tale. Don’t go in expecting strong links to his previous book as the link is tenuous. What we do have is another heart breaking story of survival against the power of Nazi Germany. 

Yes, this is another war time story, however ultimately, it is more of  a book about mothers and their daughters with the often heart wrenching decisions they had to make in an effort to protect their children. Inspired by actual events, Correa presents a fictional family, highlighting the courage people had to have when caught up in events not of their making. His writing is engaging as you are taken on a journey with first the mother and then later her daughter and their attempts to survive. You will be introduced to many strong supporting secondary characters who assist both Amanda and Lina - but ultimately this really is the story of young Lina as we also encounter her in present day New York.

Sadly however, this was not as complete a tale as ‘The German Girl’. In the blurb a clear emphasis is placed on the horrific events of the massacre but very little of the story is dedicated to that. There are many characters with much going on that it does, at times, get somewhat  confusing and some character stories are left unresolved. This then led to a seemingly abrupt ending that appeared a little rushed. The story of modern day Elise seemed superfluous to me as it contributed little to the overall tale and required more fleshing out for it to be meaningful. This would have been beneficial, particularly concerning characters such as the other sister, Viera, and her story in Cuba - she seemed quite forgotten once she boarded the boat. 

‘She knew well that no matter how the author fashions his characters, no matter which words he chooses, it is always the reader who holds the power of interpretation.’

A Daughter’s Tale is, overall, a moving WWII novel with a strong focus on the themes of family, hope, faith and above all, identity in a search for who you really are.

“You know something, Adele? I’ve lived so many lives, I don’t know which of them is coming to an end now.”

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.