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Christmas on the Mersey
Christmas on the Mersey
by Annie Groves
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, 6 Dec. 2014
Book two in the Empire Street series begins in the middle of an air raid. Liverpool is in the middle of the blitz and our two families, the Callaghans and the Feenys are right in the middle of it all. Rita working as a nurse faces trouble at home as her husband threatens and eventually snatches their children away leaving Rita to try and figure out for herself where he took them and how she will get them back. Her sister Nancy continues to live her life as though there is no war on, life is one big party to her. When she encounters an old acquaintance she seems to forget that she is a married mother and her husband is now a POW. Kitty continues to hold her own at the NAAFI canteen but is beginning to want more out of life. She also finds she is getting attention from not one man but two. For her brothers life is not easy for them either. Jack is at sea facing the threat of submarines the risk of losing his life in battle, Danny stuck on the sidelines of the war longs to be a hero and to find someway to do his part not realizing that it might be more dangerous than imagined and Tommy continues to get up to mischief which could land him a one way ticket to the countryside, or worse. Out of the blue a young woman arrives on the doorstep of the Feeny household claiming to be married to Eddy, who is currently in battle. While the woman (Violet's) story checks out there are things about her story and her life that she would rather keep hidden. As always Dolly who is mother of the Feenys and surrogate mother to the Callaghans is trying to bot help the war effort and to love and support her family through it all. The characters are well developed and relatable, there are some new faces this time around, including Violet, who despite a shaky start actually is quite a wonderful addition to the series. As with the previous book in this series just when you think there will be a lull in the action something else happens to grab your attention again. I worried toward the end when it appeared all the stories were being wrapped up but there was still another forty pages left, but my attention was never lost. In the end there was enough storylines left open and potential stories hinted at that it peeked my interest for book three which can't come out soon enough.


The Trader's Reward
The Trader's Reward
by Anna Jacobs
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.58

5.0 out of 5 stars A fitting end to a great series, 19 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: The Trader's Reward (Hardcover)
A book I have been both looking forward to and dreading. The final installment of the Trader's series which means time to say good bye to characters that I have gotten to know over the past few years. After the fourth book it seemed like all the family had reached Australia, the others had gone to England or America and virtually vanished. This installment opens with Fergus one of Bram's brothers settled in England with his family. Sadly his wife Eileen dies in childbirth and makes him promise he will join his brother in Australia and to marry within the year. Cara joins the family as a wet nurse for the now motherless baby, a baby that no one seems to care about except her grandparents. After finally accepting that he needs to move, Fergus and Cara agree to marry and they set off for Australia soon after. The voyage passes. I can't imagine two months on a crowded ship in a crowded cabin sharing with other people. But that was the only way to go across the ocean in those days. There are classes and Fergus organizes a choir and concert for those on board. He even finds a friend from the cabin (first) class, and the friendship will continue into the new world. A dark cloud from Cara's past turns out to be on board ship and there is some drama as you wonder when he will strike and if he will ruin her life with his lies. The crossing passes though not without some tragedy and soon they arrive in Fremantle where Bram looking like a small child on Christmas eagerly awaits their arrival. Things are tense between the brothers at first though the wives and children all become friends. As Fergus struggles to find a place in this new world, his shipboard friend Remi finds love rather unexpectedly with Livia an old friend of the Deagans. This leads to some of the comic moments in the story and actual had me laughing out loud a couple of times. While they find their own bittersweet ending (more sweet than bitter I promise) Fergus learns more about his brother's life and that he is not as perfect as he thought. With the arrival of Fergus suddenly it seems that Bram has a perfect partner and things begin to smooth out between the brothers. A fitting and happy end to this saga. I am sad to see the characters go and wished she had added a one year later chapter at the end, but I guess it's better if we leave it to our imagination. This was a wonderful series, very engaging hard to put down at times. Would recommend starting with the first book The Trader's Wife and continuing on in order rather than jumping in at the end or the middle as you get a better idea of the overall story.


Child of the Mersey
Child of the Mersey
by Annie Groves
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for book two, 12 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Child of the Mersey (Paperback)
In the first book in this new series set on the fictional Empire Street on the Mersey docks, we meet the Callaghan and Feeny families. The Feeny family, consists of parents Dolly, a caring fiercely protective mother and Bert (known as Pop to everyone)who adores his wife and family and their children, Rita, Nancy, Sarah, Frank and Eddy. The Callaghan family saw the loss of their mother in 1930 during childbirth and they are left to the care of their father Sonny, though he is a drunk and gambler. But deep down despite his bad deeds he does care about his children and isn't the stereotypical drunken bully. His children are Jack, Danny, Kitty and Tommy. The story begins with the death of the Callaghan matriarch in 1930 and Dolly's promise to look out for her best friends children. We then move ahead nine years just before the war begins. Kitty is struggling to support her family on the small allowance she gets from brother Jack who long since moved out after a fall out with his father. She has also developed a love of cooking and baking and is busily preparing a cake for the wedding of Nancy Feeny. Rita is married with two children and stuck in a miserable existence with a controlling, whining mother in law and a husband without any redeeming qualities about him at all. He was well written though, I know I wanted to smack him and I think I might've swore at the book at a few things he said and did to his wife. After war is declared Rita finds herself again. Her children evacuated to the country for safety and not wanting to remain at home bored and nagged by her mother in law, she takes up nursing again. Kitty finds work in a NAAFI canteen serving food to servicemen, one by one the boys head off to war or in Tommy's case the countryside, with the exception of one who learns of a heart condition forbidding him from serving and sinks into a deep depression. From there the story follows their lives through the beginning of the war the "phony war" as it was known. There is no shortage of drama during this time, as tragedy, illness, injury, death, childbirth, and romance or hints at romance occur throughout the book, nothing serious yet, but something to set up the rest of the series. The book ends just as the Battle of Britain is about to begin, the Channel Islands have been occupied, and the bombers are making their way to for the docks. I cannot wait until the next book in the series comes out. An excellent start to what I hope will continue to be a wonderful series.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 14, 2014 8:07 AM BST


In Love and War
In Love and War
by Lily Baxter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.58

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, 24 Sept. 2014
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I have to say with each book I find I enjoy Lily Baxter's writing more and more. Soon her books have become one of my most looked forward to reads and I constantly look to see when her next one comes out. So naturally with In Love and War her latest story I had hoped it would be the best yet. I was not disappointed. This story is different from her usual books. All her previous novels were set in World War Two, all of them in England (one in the occupied Channel Islands). This time the story begins at the very start of the First World War. Elsie the main character is watching the young men march off to war, no one having any idea of what lies ahead of them. Her mother is ill and she is caring for her, as well as covering for her mother who is a servant in an aristocratic home. There she meets Marianne, the daughter of the house, who bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. Despite the differences in their class and upbringing the two girls somehow become friends. Shortly after Elsie's mother dies from her illness, Elsie moves to London to help Belgian refugees which will lead her to the Secret Service with Marianne. Marianne and Elsie both speak French fluently and are sent behind enemy lines to report back to London. This for me was the best part. I have read a lot and watched plenty of movies and documentaries about spies during the second world war, but never the first. The only sort of spying I ever heard of was that planes would try to spot and count troops from however high planes flew in those days. The girls soon find their cover is blown when an injured soldier turns out to be an old friend. The girls are separated as Elsie escorted the injured man back to England by top secret means. Once home again England and never one to settle down, Elsie signs on with the VAD and is sent to the front lines to drive an ambulance. Before the end of the war Elsie again must return home, but has one last mission to carry out for her country before the armistice is finally signed. I started to read this book on a two day road trip including a very choppy ferry crossing. Let me tell you I forgot all about the waves rocking and rolling that ship around and the endless miles and hours of highway driving flew by as I lost myself in world war one, and the lives and adventures of Elise and the many friends she met along the way. Now I guess it's back to waiting for the next book to come out, it will be tough to top this one though.


The Nightingale Girls: (Nightingales 1)
The Nightingale Girls: (Nightingales 1)
by Donna Douglas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, 12 July 2014
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There was something about this book appealed to me. It might've been the cover, the setting, the era it's set in, I don't know, but the appeal was so strong I bought it and the others in the series before I had ever read a page. This is a new author and for me most authors take some getting used to and so when I began reading I expected it to take a few pages to get into the story. Instead I was gripped from the first page, always wanting to know what would happen next. So much was happening, so many characters and storylines to follow and very easy to keep track of them all. From the main characters, Dora from the poor slums of the East End with a terrible and terrifying secret she dares not tell anyone. Helen with the controlling mother and surrounded by suspicious and sniping fellow nurses, and a brother who has a secret of his own. Millie the poor little rich girl who longs for freedom from the life her grandmother has planned out for her. From the girls we then meet their families, their neighbours and of course their fellow students and nurses at the hospital and the Matron. Every character is well written and developed and you learn to care about them and cheer them on. You want to see them succeed in their nursing studies, to find happiness in their personal lives, to find peace within their family upheavals. It was difficult to put down, and only a nasty headache that kept me from finishing it sooner. I am glad I bought all the books in the series and now I want to start the second book because I cannot wait to see what happens to all these amazing characters.


William and Kate: The Love Story
William and Kate: The Love Story
by Robert Jobson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Was Ok, 16 Jun. 2014
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Let me start by saying I am hopelessly behind with my reading, which is why I am reading this book over three years since their wedding and close to one since Prince George was born. I found it a bit amusing to read about what people thought the future would hold back then, knowing what I know now, but I have more updated books on the couple that I will be reading probably several years into the future. Anyway onto the book. Overall I found it an enjoyable and easy read, it didn't require lots of thinking and it was easy to pass an hour or so reading away. There were things I didn't like though, such as the author interjecting his own opinions and achievements into the story, telling us how he broke this story and that and showing a clear bias for the media, when anyone complained about how intrusive they were. This got annoying after a while, a writer should keep themselves out of the story. But overall the story wasn't bad, easy to read, just some minor annoyances that I would roll my eyes over and then move on with the story. Now to read something a little more updated.


Road to Ekaterinburg: Nicholas and Alexandra's Daughters 1913 - 1918
Road to Ekaterinburg: Nicholas and Alexandra's Daughters 1913 - 1918
by E.C.S. Banks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to like it, 30 May 2014
Ever since I did a high school project on the Russia Revolution, the Romanovs have fascinated me. Sadly the four daughters and sometimes their brother were usually relegated to a few pages here and there, their personalities summed up in a sentence or two. Usually they are in the shadows of their parents and of Alexei's illness. Now at last there is a book about the children, about the girls. I looked forward to reading this one, but found myself somewhat disappointed. There was a lot of detail and information in this book, as others have commented, too much. We literally follow them day by day, learning everything from who they played tennis with, to who won, to how often they had tea everyday. It drags in places and even though I tried to keep going I found myself skimming pages and skipping along. There was also lots of repetition throughout the book, though that didn't bother me too much, of course I work with people with dementia everyday so maybe I don't notice reading the same thing over and over, that much. The author also asserted her own views and opinions about people and events which I found a bit off putting as well. However I hate being a downer and complaining so I will finish off by saying that there were things I liked about the book. Despite being fairly slow and overly detailed it was written in a readable way and sometimes it was difficult to put down if you hit one of the more interesting parts. Wonderful photos including, some not seen before or rarely seen. By showing the everyday lives of the Romanovs you got a sense that they were just people like everyone else, the sisters still fought, the same way all sisters fight, they played jokes, they could be kind, they could be mean. This book at last did bring all five children together. Olga, boy crazy falling in and out of love often like most young ladies even today, having her heart broken, Tatiana serious devoted daughter who proved to be a natural nurse and a good big sister. Marie strong, the daughter who seemed to be picked on in the family. The one who wrote the best letters to her father while he was serving at the front. Anastasia, no longer overshadowed by Anna Anderson becomes her own person at last. Fun loving, prank pulling, the one who always tried to keep her family's spirits up even in the most difficult of times. Alexei no longer an invalid little boy, no longer the spoiled boy that some books have portrayed him as but as a young boy who greatly admired his father, adored his parents and sisters and had a kind heart. A young man who dreamed of having a military career one day. Despite the slow moving pace of the story, it took me nearly a month to get through which is unusual for me, there were good parts and I have just received the second and third parts of the Romanov series the author has written. I have heard it is supposed to be better, shorter, less repetition if any at all and I look forward to reading it and learning about the earlier lives of the five Romanov children who lived tragic all too short lives.


The September Girls
The September Girls
by Maureen Lee
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The September Girls, 12 May 2014
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This review is from: The September Girls (Paperback)
I know I am always in for an engaging story when I read Maureen Lee and this book was no exception. We follow the lives of two very different families. The wealthy Allardyce family and the poor Caffrey clan. They first come together when Brenna Caffrey goes into labour on the back steps of the Allardyce home and is taken in by their housekeeper. Upstairs Eleanor Allardyce is also about to give birth. Two girls are born on the same day, no one is quite sure which one arrived first though. Eleanor and Brenna eventually become good friends and the two families are linked both by this friendship and also by the connection to housekeeper Nancy is sort of a mother hen to everyone in the book. The story follows both families through their highs and lows, from troubled marriages, to sick children. We follow the lives first of Eleanor and Brenna and with the start of the war Cara and Sybil become our main characters, though truth be told Cara is centre stage for most of the book. As the war goes on there are many tragedies and much sadness but there is also hope, romance, marriages, the births of children. The book toyed with my emotions many times, sometimes I would love Brenna, other times I just wanted to smack her. Out of all the characters the least likeable one and I just couldn't bring myself to like him from the start was Colm. He was weak willed and frankly not too bright despite how he tried to build himself up. I only wished Brenna would see him for what he was, but I guess nothing stops true love. Overall though I did enjoy this book, it never let up just when things looked as though they would settle down something else would happen and grab my attention again. My only complaint was the open ending. We never find out what's really wrong with Fergus's baby, or if Cara falls in love, if Sybil comes home safe and sound from India, and the biggest one of all, if Katie's prediction in the book completely comes true as Brenna so hopes it will. But perhaps it was written this way to pave the way for a sequel? Or maybe the readers can use their own imaginations and dream their own happy endings for these wonderfully written characters.


The Trader's Gift
The Trader's Gift
by Jacobs NB. Anna
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trader's Gift, 3 May 2014
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This review is from: The Trader's Gift (Paperback)
The fourth of five in this series this book differs slightly from the first three. In the first three you had one main female character, Isabella, Ismay and Maura, they all meet their future spouses at the beginning of the book and by the end have eventually fallen in love and decided to get married. In this book there are two main female characters, Eleanor and Jacinta. Eleanor has already met the love of her life in a previous book and is hopeful that he still loves her as she makes her way back to Australia and Jacinta has no idea what the future hold for her as she has never met the man she will marry. The first part of the book sets up the story and why these women and one man (also on his way to Australia to be with the woman he loves) they have come to decide to take a chance on moving around the world for a new life. There is tension and drama as Jacinta is protecting her young son from a would be kidnapper who follows them on the ship. When they finally arrive at their destination things pick up and romance blooms between three couples. It is a touching story, and while there are new characters to meet, you also visit those mentioned in previous stories, Bram and Isabella and their growing family, Ismay and Adam, Maura and Hugh and you watch their characters grow and develop in each book and get to revisit them. I will be sad when I read the finale of this great series as I have grown to love all of the characters in these books, from the main characters who have each had their own stories, to the minor characters and of course to the children who have both been there from the beginning and who have been born throughout the series. Overall this book was a quick engaging read and though I'll be sad to see the end of this series I still look forward to read the final installment.


Where the Heart Lies (Beach View Boarding House)
Where the Heart Lies (Beach View Boarding House)
by Ellie Dean
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Relaxing Read, 21 April 2014
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After a stressful time at work I was happy to settle down to enjoy a long Easter weekend off with a good book. This was just the right book for the job. It was an easy read and kept me engaged throughout. Maybe because I work with someone an awful lot like Eunice and could relate to Julie that way. It was heartwarming and touching, I loved catching up with the recurring characters Peggy and her family and friends, happy that at last Anne had her baby, that seemed a long time coming it felt like she was pregnant through most of the books. But there were parts that I didn't enjoy as much, the first being we never did find out what happened between Rosie and Eileen, at least not from Rosie's perspective and I found the storyline with Jim and his brother Frank dragged at times and difficult to read, but those were fairly minor things in an otherwise wonderfully engaging book.


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