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.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Review: The Black Swan of Paris

The Black Swan of Paris
Author: Karen Robards

Publisher: 30th June 2020 by Hachette Australia

Pages: 400 pages

How I Read It: ARC book

Genre: women’s fiction, historical fiction, romance, WWII 

My Rating: 4.5 crowns


A world at war. A beautiful young star. A mission no one expected.

Paris, 1944

Celebrated singer Genevieve Dumont is both a star and a smokescreen. An unwilling darling of the Nazis, the chanteuse’s position of privilege allows her to go undetected as an ally to the resistance.

When her estranged mother, Lillian de Rocheford, is captured by Nazis, Genevieve knows it won’t be long before the Gestapo succeeds in torturing information out of Lillian that will derail the upcoming allied invasion. The resistance movement is tasked with silencing her by any means necessary—including assassination. But Genevieve refuses to let her mother become yet one more victim of the war. Reuniting with her long-lost sister, she must find a way to navigate the perilous cross-currents of Occupied France undetected—and in time to save Lillian’s life.

My Thoughts

‘Outwardly Paris was still Paris, her beauty largely untouched by war. But her gay, bright, defiant spirit - her joie de vivre - had been stolen. The City of Light had turned drab and gray - and afraid.’

The Black Swan of Paris is historical fiction at its best, fabulous WWII reading. Set in Paris during Nazi occupation, you live the life of famed singer Genevieve Dumont who uses her position to acquire critical information from highranking Nazis to pass onto the Resistance. Then, when her mother is captured Genevieve and those around her, must go to great lengths to save her from a ruthless enemy. 

‘... she loved her country. Because she had this gift of song, and she could use it to help in the battle against the horror that was the Third Reich.’

This is a book that has a little of everything - war and romance, intrigue and espionage. It is well researched providing fascinating details especially concerning life in Paris, but as it was for the Nazis - life at the Ritz was a definite eye opener. Then there were the facts surrounding the allies landing in Normandy, which again, was well done.  

‘Champagne and caviar had been passed around the shelter by the Ritz’s attentive staff, the gas masks had been used as pillows by the especially sleepy, or inebriated, and the atmosphere in the cellar as they waited for the All Clear had been almost that of a party.’

I found the writing to be very engaging with a solid range of characters that provided a real depth to this tale. The plot was truly compelling, especially towards the end, when it had me on the edge of my seat. It is a long read but the climactic ending to the main story made it well worth it. I was a little disappointed with how the story as a whole was so quickly tied together after I had invested so much in each of the characters. 

“My first allegiance had to be to my country, and this was, and is, a fight for her life. For the life of civilization as we know it. You were the perfect vehicle to take the network I was building where it needed to go.”

Overall this is an action packed and emotional journey that succeeded in taking me to a different time and place. A place where you become a part of each character's journey in this tumultuous and highly volatile period in history. 

‘As she’d already learned to her cost, there were no guarantees in life, no guarantees that the person you loved would be there from one day to the next, no guarantees about anything at all. And this was war. Death waited around every corner. It came rocketing out of the sky, zipping through the air, blasting out of the ground. It came with no notice, no warning, no chance to say good-bye.’

Visit Helen @ Great Reads & Tea Leaves

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

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Review: Into the Darkest Day

Into the Darkest Day
Author: Kate Hewitt

Publisher: 14th May 2020 by Bookouture

Pages: 350 pages

How I Read It: ARC book

Genre: women’s fiction, historical fiction, romance, WWII 

My Rating: 4.5 crowns


She had to step outside and hold the paper up to the moonlight to read it, but when she was able to make out the words, her heart felt as if it would drop right out of her chest. Because the message was in German.

1944, London: When Lily meets enigmatic GI Matthew in war-torn London, she doesn’t expect to fall in love. While her sister starts a reckless affair with another GI, Lily tries to hide her growing feelings for Matthew.

But Matthew has a devastating secret. One that could change their lives forever.

Present day, USA: Abby lives a quiet life on an apple farm in Wisconsin. Tormented by survivor’s guilt after the tragic deaths of her mother and brother, Abby leaves the orchards as little as possible, keeping her life small, peaceful and safe… Until she is contacted by Englishman Simon Elliot, who arrives nursing a heartbreak of his own, and bearing a World War Two medal that he claims belonged to Abby’s grandfather.

Together they begin to piece together the heartbreaking story of their relatives’ war. But as the story brings Abby and Simon closer—tentatively beginning to lean on one another to heal—they uncover a dark secret from the past.

And like Lily and Matthew nearly eighty years before them, it will make Abby and Simon question whether you can ever truly trust someone, even when they have your heart…

My Thoughts

“I feel sad, and somehow ashamed by it, too. I’m not sure why. It’s just so hard to believe people are capable of such evil.”

I was excited to read Kate Hewitt’s book, Into the Darkest Day - her first venture into historical fiction - and what an interesting and intriguing story she has given her readers. The book had a title change even though I thought the previous title had suited it perfectly. It has everything I look for in a historical read - dual timeline, mystery to be solved and a heartfelt love story.

‘How strange, he thought, not for the first time, that so much has changed, and all because of people who will never know how they’ve affected me. Helped me. Helped us.’

I found that the switches between timelines to be smooth, however, the historical tale was definitely the stronger of the two. I did not fully appreciate the contemporary tale with the exception of it providing good solid links to the historical one - that was an added bonus. The connection between the two tales surrounding ‘survivors guilt’ was a good one though and Kate drew strong parallels in both timelines. 

‘He wanted this man—this paltry, pathetic little tool of the Fuhrer, a tiny cog in the vast machinery of the Nazi party—to know who he was. What he was.’

Into the Darkest Day is an emotional read with rich descriptions of London bombings and concentration camp liberations that are shocking in the telling. To balance this is an uplifting romance that gives a happy ending for some. Kate, a prolific writer, has done a fabulous job with her first foray into historical fiction - a story filled with strength and courage as the past must be laid to rest when the opportunity for new beginnings comes along. 

‘She didn’t want any more secrets. She didn’t want to keep them; she didn’t want to stay silent about yet another thing in her life, or someone’s else life. And she didn’t want to throw away the promise of something—someone—good...’

Visit Helen @ Great Reads & Tea Leaves

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