Code Name: Lise by Larry Loftis

4 Stars from me

This is a truly remarkable story which follows the experiences of Odette Sansom who begins by tentatively offering to help out and is quickly snapped up and deeply embroiled in the fight against the Germans as a spy code-named Lise.

The most startling part of this ‘story’ is that it is true – this seemingly mild mannered mum of 3 really did step out of her mum role into the cold hard shoes of a spy.

I don’t truly understand how Odette Sansom isn’t a well known name – she should be celebrated loudly and heralded for her bravery and commitment to the cause and her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill.

Part war story, part love story, part thriller and all round captivating read, Code Name: Lise will have you hooked. Odette uses a mix of cunning, guile and sheer determination to guide her through the many trials and tribulations that she faces – including capture, torture and long periods of awful treatment. It is virtually impossible to comprehend how she found the strength to keep going and it is very clear that she deserved to be highly decorated for her heroism.

I haven’t read much non-fiction before but having recently read and loved The Tattooist of Auschwitz I just knew I would love Code Name: Lise – it feels quite an honour to read Odette’s story.

My thanks to Mirror Books and Larry Loftis for letting me be a part of the Code Name: Lise blog tour.

Blurb: The true story of the woman who became WWII’s most highly decorated spy

The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing. Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission. It is here that she meets her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill.

As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are being hunted by the cunning German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher, who finally succeeds in capturing them. They are sent to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and from there to concentration camps in Germany where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. But in the face of despair, they never give up hope, their love for each other, or the whereabouts of their colleagues.

In Code Name: Lise, Larry Loftis paints a portrait of true courage, patriotism, and love—of two incredibly heroic people who endured unimaginable horrors and degradations. He seamlessly weaves together the touching romance between Odette and Peter and the thrilling cat and mouse game between them and Sergeant Bleicher.

Watch Over Me by Jane Renshaw

4 Stars from me

Well if this isn’t the sweariest book I’ll read this year then I’ll eat my f***ing hat hen.

Packed full of F-words, heavy Scottish dialect, casual violence (and good old fashioned hardcore violence and murder), Watch Over Me is humdinger of a story.

It is a book that needs you to suspend belief a little and just go with it – I think if you can successfully do that then you will love Watch Over Me.

There are some superb characters in here – Lorraine, Saskia, Caroline, Beckie, Aylish to name but a few (most of the Johnson clan deserve a mention to be fair although I did get a little lost at times are there are a few of them!). I do wish that Flora and Neil had had a bit more about them though, I couldn’t really find myself bonding with Flora unfortunately – Jeez what does it say about me that I preferred Lorraine to Flora?! Don’t answer that…

There are so many layers to this book and lots of twists, turns and surprises – if you like a psychological thriller that will keep you on your toes then this is the book for you!

My thanks to Damp Pebbles and Jane Renshaw for letting me be a part of this blog tour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: Flora always dreamed of the day she’d become a mother. But some dreams turn into nightmares.

Flora and Neil are happily married, but they can’t have children so decide to adopt. And when Flora  meets little Beckie it’s love at first sight. Deep in her heart, she knows they’re meant for each other, destined to be mother and daughter.

When Flora officially becomes Beckie’s mum, it’s like a part of her that’s always been missing is finally in place. She is complete, every day filled with purpose and joy.

There’s only one problem. Beckie was taken from her birth family, the Johnsons, because they have a history of violence and criminal behaviour and so are judged to be unfit to care for a child.

But the Johnsons don’t agree. As far as they’re concerned, Flora has stolen their little girl and they are determined to get her back. They’re very smart, utterly ruthless – and they have a plan. One that will turn Flora’s life into a living hell and push her to the very edge of insanity. 

Blood Family by Graeme Hampton

4 Stars from me

I love meeting new police characters and I enjoyed following DI Matt Denning and DS Molly Fisher of the East London MIT in this second book of the series.

The books starts with a brutal and gruesome crime as a family home is set on fire and it doesn’t take long for fire investigators to discover the five bodies, three generations of the Galloway family, inside. I couldn’t hep but feel relieved that they had been shot first.

Denning and Fisher are a bit of an odd pairing and I plan to go back and read the first book in the series so that I can get to know them better. However, you learn a lot about them and their own dysfunctional families in Blood Family, with Matt Denning jugging his dedication to his career along with caring for his autistic son and Molly Fisher struggling with brother.

There seemed to be a different dynamic here than in other police procedurals that I have read recently and it made the book all the more engaging as Molly is actively encouraged to take risks and more cautious Denning plods doggedly onwards to solve the crime and catch the murderer.

The aspect of dysfunction and no such thing as a normal family is a strong message and not a bad one to promote.

Blood Family is a enjoyable read and I will look out for more in the series. My thanks to Graeme Hampton and BOTBSPublicity for letting me take part in this blog tour.

Synopsis: When D.I. Matthew Denning is called in to investigate a house fire in a North London street, he never anticipated the horrors that awaited him. As Denning and D.S. Molly Fisher search the wreckage, the bodies of the Galloway family – Brian and Ellie, son Simon, daughter Amber and 9-year-old grandson Caleb – are discovered in the smouldering house.

All evidence points to a tragic accident… until Matthew and Molly discover that the family was dead before the fire, murdered in their home by a faceless psychopath. What started as a routine investigation swiftly turns into a murder investigation, with Denning and Fisher hunting a killer who has wiped out three generations with a shotgun.

But as the case deepens, Denning and Fisher discover that the Galloways were no ordinary family. Like all families, they harbour secrets – but unlike others, their secrets were so deadly, someone is willing to spill blood to keep them hidden…

An utterly gripping detective novel set in London, Blood Family will thrill fans of Angela Marsons, Mark Billingham and Robert Bryndza.

Buried Sins by Louise Mullins

5 Stars from me

In a lot of ways, Buried Sins is a horrible story about horrible people who do horrible things, yet among the rubble of the depravity there sits a little girl called Carys who somehow manages to create a family and a life for herself.

On the cover, this is described as a ‘gritty, addictive, psychological thriller‘ and I would have to agree that is a pretty fair assessment, for Buried Sins is certainly addictive and I think a lot of this is to do with the clever way in which the story unfolds – it flits back and forth between childhood Carys and adult Carys and reveals layer by layer of truth along the way.

There is a lot of information regarding childhood abuse and some effects on of trauma on memory – this was very tightly woven into the story and did not feel gratuitous or out of place. As much as is possible, I felt this whole aspect of the book was dealt with sensitively.

I think what I found most disturbing about Buried Sins is the air of authenticity it has, especially when describing the family dynamic between Carys and her parents – both of whom seem as equally messed up as each other!

The miracle for me throughout this dark and disturbing tale is that Carys has managed to sustain a marriage and keep together a family of her own. In all honesty this stretched the realms of reality the most for me but then I remembered how much I enjoyed Harry Potter and Twilight and that this was also fiction and I shut up!

DI Locke and her team were background players for me and I wonder if we will learn more about them in future books; I hope so.

My thanks to Random Things Tours and to Louise Mullins for letting me take part in this blog tour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: Introducing Welsh Detective Inspector Emma Locke who appears in her very own upcoming procedural series.

Readers who enjoy books by C.L. Taylor, K.L. Slater, and Rachel Abbott will love this gritty, addictive, standalone psychological thriller.

When Carys returns to her childhood home, inherited after the death of her father, she is shocked to discover the bones of an infant buried in the paddock. Days later, DI Locke’s team uncover the remains of a missing girl, sparking vivid memories of the day Carys was abducted by The Shadow Man.

While the evidence against her father mounts, Carys recalls more of her past. And each new revelation provides DI Locke with the proof she needs to close the cases of several girls’ disappearances.

Sometimes the past refuses to stay buried.

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The Moonlight Pegasus by C S Johnson #giveaway

The Moonlight Pegasus

Welcome to the blog tour for The Moonlight Pegasus, by C.S. Johnson. Perfect for Fantasy lovers!

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The+Moonlight+Pegasus+cover+ebookThe Moonlight Pegasus

Genre: High Fantasy

Sapphira is a desert world with little plant life, where the people live in the shadows of gray sunlight, sickened by the Dark Plague. To cure the people, the Guardian of Dreams sends the Spirit of Truth to bring the light back into his darkened world. In the form of Pegasus, he enters the world through the pure, innocent dreams of Selene, the reluctant princess and heir-apparent to the throne. Now, with her brother Dorian as king, another rebellion is stirring. All eyes are turning to Selene to bring peace through an arranged marriage. However, Selene only has eyes for her true love—her protector, Etoileon. As the rebellion unleashes its fury upon the kingdom of Sapphira and the supernatural forces collide, Selene is caught in the middle of all conflicts—the battle for her world, the battle for her love, and the battle for her very soul.

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Excerpt

Etoileon smiled as he pulled out his special gift for Selene—having taken Ronal’s earlier advice, he had a tiny bouquet of deep red ekedlets, small minuscule flowers that smelled like sweet fruit. The ekedlets were tied together with a small yellow ribbon. He’d thought that the small gift would be perfect for her. It had taken him a while to get them, too. He was only allowed into the city, along with the other members of the Palace crew, only twice a month. Etoileon was lucky that he’d known the streets well enough to know where to go so he could get back in time to escort Selene down to the ballroom entrance.

The city was crowded for the opening of the reception. Etoileon had run into more than one person trying to reach his destination, Madame Flora’s Shop. Though he had meant to hurry up, Etoileon slowed down to look around, amazed to see just how the streets had changed to him in so short a time.

He’d been raised on the streets, mostly all alone.

It had been a miracle that he had survived there, let alone to manage to get a job in the Diamond City Palace, considering a job at the palace was a highly coveted position in society. Middle class children often took jobs in the palace, using their connections to be introduced into the flashy world of riches and wealth. After a number of years, they were able to use their earned capital to be educated in the way of society. Using the skills they would acquire from training and teaching of their instructors and parents, the now young adults would be able to be placed in a position where it was likely for a marriage to be arranged or sought after.

Etoileon had none of this.

He had no parents, no real family, few allies … there were plenty of untrustworthy people, enemies, and dangers around every corner. All he had were survival skills, and the good fortune to happen to be in the right place at the right time. As Etoileon leaned back on the tower wall, he thought about the night that he’d met Selene. He did not get too lost in his memories. The Palace was beginning to feel more like home to him as time went on, and his memories of the darker times of his life were beginning to fade.

It was a moment later that the door opened and Selene walked into the Tower room as well.

“Etoileon,” she greeted him, her eyes quickly losing their flicker of surprise and replacing it with an expression of warmth. “I did not think you would be up here this early.”

“You are,” he pointed out, a small smile forming on his face.

“Well,” Selene blushed, “There was something I wanted to do before later.”

“You mean before I came?” Etoileon asked. “What was it?”

“Well … ” Her face had turned even redder, and she looked away as she reached behind her and pulled out a small bag. “I wanted to give this to you later, but I have no objections to giving it to you a little early.”

Etoileon looked down at the bag she placed delicately in his hand. It had been carefully prepared for him, he could tell. The bag was all dressed up, tiny curls of ribbons surrounding the drawstrings of the sack, and made from cheerfully colored fabric.

Selene nodded. “Open it, Etoileon. It’s for you.”

Inside the bag, he found a small silver-framed photograph of Selene and him from a few years ago. It was when he had first undergone his training for the Fighter squad. Selene was sitting in front of him in the picture, while he was standing behind her. He could tell that his eyes had been focused on her; Etoileon figured that he must have missed the camera. His eyes examined the picture closely, running over Selene’s face again and again.

“I don’t remember this picture,” he said slowly.

“It’s from the time that you came storming out of the Fighter’s training room, remember? You were not too happy, I recall. My memory of the reason has faded, but I remember thinking you needed me there,” she said in a hushed voice. “I still come to watch, sometimes.”

I still need you there, he thought. But he could not say that. So instead, he looked over at her intently, and said, “Thank you.”

“So you like it?” Her smile seemed to brighten up the entire evening sky.

“Very much,” he nodded. “That must’ve been the day that Master Norio told me in front of everyone that I had been poorly trained and it would be a miracle if I amounted to anything.”

Selene’s sad smile flitted to her lips. “Poor Master Norio. That has to be the most incorrect he’s ever been.”

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About the Author

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C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

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A Cruel Deception by Kim Booth

3.5 stars from me

It has been quite an hour to read A Cruel Deception knowing that it is the first hand account of the policeman who cracked the case. Truly a privilege to follow his thought processes and procedures as he closes in on the perpetrator.

The crime within A Cruel Deception (well, the main one as there are several little side stories and anecdotes which beautifully enhance and flesh out the pages, I can image an afternoon with tea and cake with Kim Booth is a meandering and uniquely fascinating experience) is one of a brazen fraud, carried out with breathtaking audacity over a period of many years. It is artfully captured within A Cruel Deception and the dogged and determined approach taken by the police to capture such a criminal without the use of modern day technology is to be admired.

As, begrudgingly, is Barbara Hendry who manages to pull of repeated cons against unsuspecting people without all the clever frippery of social media, computers and mobile phones – dreadful woman, obviously, but also clearly very devious.

As a fan of crime thrillers, it took me a little while to adjust to the slower pace of this – after all real – account. I only say that so that others can mentally adjust and expect this change of pace rather than be caught out by it.

Overall, an interesting and rare opportunity to witness some old-school policing first hand.

Book Description: ‘No one knows this horrifying true crime case better than the detective who cracked it. Kim Booth will take you on an unforgettable journey into lies, deceit, cunning and malice.’ Nick Louth
For Joan and Ted Warner, an innocent and trusting couple, a chance encounter with Barbara Hendry, a cunning con-woman who turned their settled lives into a living nightmare.
The Warners were not victims of a remote scam, carried out over the internet by fraudsters from afar. For six years, faking a friendship face-to-face, this plausible woman carried off the impersonation of a member of the nobility fallen on hard times, manipulating the emotions of her victims, deceitfully draining them of every penny they had set aside for their retirement, and plunging them into debt.
Hendrys intention was to slip away, having sucked the Warners dry of all their hard-earned savings. But for some dogged investigative work by a determined detective she would have succeeded- and remained free to prey on other vulnerable victims.
Follow this journey of fraud and depravity in the company of the one man who knows the full story – the British detective who cracked the case and brought Barbara Hendry to justice.
A Cruel Deception is an insightful and gripping work of true crime, which illustrates the depth of wickedness and the possibility that we can all be deceived.
The author retired from the Lincolnshire Police as Detective Inspector in charge of the Lincolnshire Police Economic Crime Unit. He now provides anti-fraud advice and fraud investigation on a consultancy basis together with assisting authors with police procedural issues and story lines.
Author Bio:
Prior to joining the police I had numerous jobs, Worked in a chicken factory for next to nothing, In a Bakery, Royal Mail as a Postman, With my dad who was a civil engineer construction roads and sewerage works and finally in a hotel. Had dealings with the CID and thought “I can do that” and joined the police with the sole intention of being a CID man! Joined Lincolnshire Police in July 1975.