#BookReview ‘The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman’ by @JuliettaJulia

The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson is one of those delicious books you stumble on, not sure what to expect and end up loving. The Norman of the title is almost twelve and part of a future comedy duo with a five-year plan to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe. But when his comedic partner and best friend Jax dies, Norman has to think again. The catchy first paragraph drew me straight in although I admit to being slightly disappointed when I realised it was by Sadie, Norman’s mum, and not Norman himself. But this feeling disappeared as
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#BookReview ‘The Man in the Bunker’ by Rory Clements #thriller #WW2

The Man in the Bunker by Rory Clements gripped me from beginning to end. It starts at the end of the Second World War when spy Tom Wilde thinks real life is beginning again. But the dilemma is in the book’s title. Who was the dead man in the bunker in Berlin? Were the burnt remains really that of Hitler? If not, where is he? This is the sixth in Clements’ thriller series about American historian-turned-spy Wilde who spends the war working for the English and American secret services, and each of them has been unputdownable. It is now late
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#BookReview ‘Underland’ by @RobGMacfarlane #nature #science #travel

Robert Macfarlane is a nature writer who gives you so much more – science, geology, landscape, history, folklore, myth, environment, oral history. Tempted by the amazing cover – a detail of ‘Nether’ by Stanley Donwood – I bought Underland and was hooked from the first sentence. ‘The way into the underland is through the riven trunk of an old ash tree’. Macfarlane goes underground – into the catacombs of Paris, remote Arctic sea caves, down moulins in Greenland glaciers, follows underground rivers through the Karst in Slovenia, ending in Finland where a tomb is being constructed to house nuclear waste
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#BookReview ‘The Camomile Lawn’ by Mary Wesley #WW2

It’s many years since I first read The Camomile Lawn by Mary Wesley. I remember liking it, and that one of the characters is called Calypso, but nothing else. So it was with delight that I read the wartime story of Calypso and her four cousins – Oliver, Polly, Walter and Sophy. It renewed my intention to re-read all Wesley’s novels. The story is enrichened by the mode of telling. It starts in Cornwall in the summer of 1939 as the cousins of assorted ages gather for what will be the last time. There is a poignancy hanging in the
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#BookReview ‘The Dream Weavers’ by @Barbaraerskine #historical

I like the timeslip construction and so The Dream Weavers by Barbara Erskine caught my eye. Although well-established, she’s a new author for me as I explore more historical fiction. I admit to looking for more novels without technology and the mores of the modern world. A bit of escapism. Set in two different centuries – Anglo-Saxon England 788AD and the English/Welsh border in 2021 – The Dream Weavers is about the romance of a young English noblewoman and a Welsh prince who meet as Offa’s Dyke is being built. Eadburh and Elisedd are sent by their fathers to ride
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#BookReview ‘An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy’ by @june_kearns

The opening chapter of An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy by June Kearns is a vibrant introduction to Annie Haddon, the Englishwoman of the title. She’s travelling from California to Texas in a stagecoach with her over-bearing aunt and superior cousin who both tell her what not to do. ‘Mustn’t, mustn’t’, Annie mutters to herself. She copes stoically until the bombshell is dropped that the real purpose for their journey across America is to meet Annie’s intended. ‘Henry Chewton Hewell,’ thinks Annie. ‘Even his name sounded like something stuck between his teeth.’ Like all the best first chapters it introduces the
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#BookReview ‘The Rose Garden’ by @AuthorTracyRees #historical

I just loved The Rose Garden by Tracy Rees. The characters start off isolated from each other and are gradually threaded together as their separate challenges and crises become interlinked. When I finished it, I wanted to start reading it all over again. The Rose Garden is the story of Mabs, Ottie, Olive and Abigail. Four completely different women who live near Hampstead Heath as the 20th century approaches. It is a time of societal and family change when women are beginning to show strength in changing their lives but when traditional barriers erected by male society and assumptions still remain.
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#FlashPIC #58 Abandoned Car Park #writingprompt #amwriting

In every city and town there is an abandoned corner of ground, home only to weeds, rubbish and foxes. Take this setting and make something happen here. This is a writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series. Explore the atmosphere of this plot, isolated in a busy place, surrounded by roads and railway, as people live their daily lives nearby, the city juxtaposition of wealth/dereliction. Consider how the mood of the place changes – from winter to summer, daytime to night-time. Is it forgotten by the local community? What used to be here and why is it abandoned? What differences are
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#BookReview ‘The Rose Code’ by @KateQuinnAuthor #WW2 #Bletchley

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn is the first book I’ve read by this author. I was drawn in by the WW2 setting and promise of mystery, but it’s much more than that. There are two timelines; 1947 as the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth approaches, and 1939 at the outbreak of war. At its centre are three young women who don’t quite fit into their worlds. War introduces something new to their lives. Opportunity. Advancement. Recognition. Friendship. Home. Mabs has grown up in Shoreditch but longs to escape. She follows her own plan of improvement – reading the classics,
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#BookReview ‘A Beautiful Spy’ by @Rachelhore #WW2 #spies

Rachel Hore is one of my favourite go-to authors when I want well-written, thoughtful escapism. Her latest is A Beautiful Spy, a pre-Second World War spy story based on a real case involving the infiltration of a communist spy cell. At a garden party in the summer of 1928, Minnie Gray is bored. She’s there with her mother who is trying to fix up her up with another young man, when she notices a striking young woman. When the enigmatic Miss Pyle asks if Minnie would consider working for the government, Minnie recognises a chance to escape her mother’s suffocating attention
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