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Book News – Mhairi McFarlane Reveals New Book Called Last Night

Last NightThe wonderful Mhairi McFarlane is returning to our bookshelves with her latest book called ‘Last Night’.

What the back cover says –

Eve, Justin, Susie and Ed have been friends since they were eighteen. Now in their 30s, the four are still as close as ever, Thursday pub quiz night is still sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed.

Maybe Eve should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed sometimes thinks about it too.

Then one night, in an instant, all their lives change forever. And, as Eve learns she didn’t know her friends as well as she thought, she also discovers she isn’t the only person keeping secrets…

With a beautiful cover, ‘Last Night’ will be at the top of my TBR as Mhairi’s books are always guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

You can pre-order ‘Last Night’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 1st April 2021.

Victoria Park By Gemma Reeves

Victoria Park‘Victoria Park’ is the latest book by Gemma Reeves.

Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year.

This book was such a pleasant surprise. When I settled into it, I initially thought it was a story but really it read like a collection of short stories around the residents of Victoria Park over the course of a year. This made for observational and lovely reading, as we joined these people on the different issues and adventures that were impacting their lives.

A lovely thing about each story was the connections from the previous stories with the same characters unaware of the impact that they were making on each other.

The stories focus on many different issues such as dementia, infidelity, fertility and death and each issue is handled with sensitivity and grace. A particular story and character that stood out to me was the first story in the book called ‘Smoking Salmon’ and it features an elderly man called Wolfie and his wife Mona. For me they were the central characters in the book, as they appeared in many other stories and the focus was dementia as Mona battled with the illness and Wolfie was determined not to put her into a home. Wolfie is a gruff character, a pillar of the community with having owned a popular deli but with Mona, he’s kind and never loses patience with her confusion. They regularly regale on their old life, before the illness took hold and it’s lovely to read their life together, their courtship and challenges along the way.

Beautifully and sensitively written that handled many subjects that are so current in our world, ‘Victoria Park’ is an insightful story about community and coming together with a fresh adventure with each story keeping the reader fully engaged.

You can buy ‘Victoria Park’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Secrets In The Snow By Emma Heatherington

Secrets In The Snow‘Secrets In The Snow’ is the latest book by Northern Ireland author, Emma Heatherington.

As the winter snow falls on the small Irish village of Ballybray, Roisin O’Connor and her young son, Ben, are saying goodbye to their beloved neighbour Mabel Murphy. Mabel lived a bold and colourful life, but the arrival of her brooding nephew, ‘blow-in’ Aidan Murphy, just makes life more complicated for Roisin. However, in one final act of love, a message arrives from Mabel that changes everything. And as winter turns to spring and the cold snow melts, the secrets both Roisin and Aidan are hiding must be revealed at last…

The story is seen through the narrative of Roisin, who’s recovering from the death of her elderly neighbour and best friend called Mabel, who took Roisin and her little boy called Ben under her wing who moved to Ballybray to start their new lives. Mabel’s favourite nephew has returned to Ballybray for the funeral. He’s a successful business man in New York, who’s struggling with life. Mabel can see that both Roisin and Aidan are struggling with their lives and sets them on a series of tasks to help them get back on their feet as well as unite them in their grief.

Sweetly written this book is a tender story of new beginnings and friendships. Roisin is a lovely leading lady, she’s kind but insecure having come from a troubled marriage which resulted in the death of her husband. Although shes’s recovering from years of abuse, anytime that she feels free and happy in herself, memories of her abusive husband come back to haunt her. She’s a creative spirit, who found not only a friend in Mabel but also a maternal figure as she never had a proper mother/daughter relationship.

Like Roisin, Aidan is struggling with the death of Mabel and finds solace in Ballybray away from the hustle of New York and his unhappy life.

As Mabel send them on series of adventures informing them of her old life and sharing her stories, the pair of them become close friends and see a connection in each other. Both of them are a fork in their lives and Mabel’s videos are the only constants in their lives.

Emma’s writing is sweet and warm-hearted conjuring up vivid imagery of the small Irish village and the descriptive fashion sold in the vintage shop were Roisin works. Both Aidan and Roisin are lovely characters and it’s sweet reading their interactions as they tentatively embark on their new friendship creating new memories. Mabel is also a great addition to the story with her vibrancy and lust for life. Whilst Ben adds an element of innocence to the story with his sweet nature.

‘Secrets in the Snow’ is a warm-hearted story that is perfect to curl up with during these cold winter nights.

You can buy ‘Secrets In the Snow’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Beneath A Starless Sky By Tessa Harris

Beneath A Starless Sky By‘Beneath A Starless Sky’ is the latest book by Tessa Harris.

Lilli Sternberg longs to be a ballet dancer. But outside the sanctuary of the theatre, her beloved city is in chaos and Munich is no longer a place for dreams. The Nazi party are gaining power and the threats to those who deviate from the party line are increasing. Jewish families are being targeted and their businesses raided, even her father’s shop was torched because of their faith. When Lilli meets Captain Marco Zeiller during a chance encounter, her heart soars. He is the perfect gentleman and her love for him feels like a bright hope under a bleak sky. But battle lines are being drawn, and Marco has been spotted by the Reich as an officer with great potential. A relationship with Lilli would compromise them both. Will Lilli be able to escape the threats facing her family, and how much is she willing to risk for the man she loves?

Over the last while, I’ve come to have read a few historical novels and what was originally a romantic tale transformed into a spy story.

The story is primarily seen through the perspective of Lillian Sternberg, a Jewish dancer. She’s got a bright future ahead of her and is fortunate to have fallen in love with an Italian officer called Captain Marco Zeiller. But one day he has to go ahead and though they promise to stay in touch, Lillian’s heart is broken when he sends her a telegram breaking off their relationship. Heartbroken, she sets her sights for America where she establishes her career as a dancer and even stars in films with Fred Astaire. It’s whilst she’s in America that Hitler comes into power and the mistreatment of Jews begins and Lillian begins to fear for her family back home in Germany but they refuse to leave their homes. When Lillian’s career suddenly ends, she finds herself falling in love with James, a kind English man who can offer her a good life in England but wants her to become a spy when she befriends Wallis Simpson, the mistress of the Prince of Wales.

Through this undercover work, Lillian unravels a whole load of secrets and lies and finds herself face to face with her beloved Marco, who is now a Nazi.

The story is a romantic novel but reads like a biography, with the inclusion of real people such as the famous Wallis Simpson and the whispered comments about her relationship with the Prince of Wales as well as being a Nazi sympathiser.

The story is fascinating in its content, not only the love story aspect but the work of an undercover spy as well as the historical parts such as the rise of Nazism and sad decline with the treatment of the Jews and how simple pleasures like a radio where forbidden. It’s small inclusions like this in the story that make for genuinely upsetting reading as it’s factual events and not something the author has conjured up.

Lillian is a wonderful character with tremendous spirit, she’s brave and fascinating as she puts her life in jeopardy for the sake of her family and has to hide to her heritage from the world to do so.

With a stunning cover and a heartbreaking plot, ‘Beneath A Starless Sky’ is a cleverly crafted story, encompassing fact and fiction with historical figures and a brave protagonist that makes for compelling reading.

You can buy ‘Beneath A Starless Sky’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Winter Promise By Rosie Goodwin

The Winter Promise‘The Winter Promise’ is the latest book by Rosie Goodwin and is the first book in her new ‘Precious Stones’ saga.

When Opal Sharp finds herself and her younger siblings suddenly orphaned and destitute, she thinks things can get no worse. But soon three of them – including Opal – are struck down with the illness that took their father, and her brother Charlie is forced to make an impossible decision. Unable to afford a doctor, he knows the younger children will not survive. So, unbeknownst to Opal, Charlie takes their younger siblings to the workhouse. When she finds out, Opal is heartbroken. Charlie starts taking risks to try to support what’s left of the Sharp family and earn Opal’s forgiveness, but he takes it too far and finds himself in trouble with the law. Soon, he is sent on a convict ship to Australia. As poor Opal is forced to say goodbye to the final member of her family, she makes a promise to reunite them all one day.

When it comes to historical fiction, it’s a genre that I don’t really read a lot off and tend to avoid it if I’m being honest.

But there was something about ‘The Winter Promise’ that stood out to me and I must admit that I really enjoyed reading this story of family, discovery and love. I actually found myself looking forward to returning to reading it when I put it down

The story is seen through of siblings Opal, Charlie and Susie who sadly get separated when they come become ill with the fever. Charlie fearing the first for his little brother and sister bring them to a work house hoping that they will recover whilst Opal herself deals the illness. Once she’s back to health, they return for their younger siblings only to discover that Christopher has died and Susie has been given to a new home. Distraught Opal and Charlie are set determined to get their family back together but ends up being shipped off to Australia after being falsely imprisoned.

The story then flows over the years as the siblings all go about their lives but always there in the background is the thought of finding each other. I loved Opal, she’s a strong independent woman who falls on her feet when she becomes a maid for Mrs King, an outspoken but kind soul who sees beyond the slums that Opal grew up in. Whereas Charlie is determined to make something of his life after the harsh upbringing. Like Opal, Susie is determined and vibrant and scene with either of the sisters made for lovely reading.

The story flowed at a lovely gentle and was beautifully descriptive in parts, whether it was the elegant ballgowns or the surrounding beauty of England and Australia. There are also some sad and poignant moments in the story from the loss of a child and sickness and this makes for tender reading. The author has also a special skill for making horrible characters such as Esther Partridge, the plump woman who was jealous of Opal, Opal’s husband, Henry as well as Agatha, Susie’s nanny. All this characters were horrible and it made for fascinating reading as they all got their comeuppance.

Wonderfully written with a heartwarming story and engaging characters, ‘The Winter Promise’ is story of love and faith and is a delicious introduction to a new author and is perfect for people who enjoy sinking into riveting sagas.

You can buy ‘The Winter Promise’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.