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.

Ted Bundy: The Only Living Witness by Stephen G Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth

5 Stars from me

Wow, just wow. What a hugely interesting and insightful deep dive into the world of infamous serial killer, Ted Bundy.

I found this book to be truly fascinating. The first section is a horrible glimpse into his victims and the seemingly arbitrary method in which he chose them – or, in some cases, it seemed the virtually chose themselves.

Not a comfortable read that’s for sure – this section of the book had me sleeping with the landing light left on!

To read how close Bundy came to getting away with his crimes is really quite shocking. He was blatant, and acted seemingly with impunity when ‘picking up’ his – often initially willing – victims.

The little touches – like going out to get his hair cut and parting it on the other side when knowing he was to take his place in a police line up – are astonishing. As though he saw the whole thing almost as a game.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in crime, true crime, profiling, psychology, criminology and law, it is absolutely captivating.

Blurb: ‘This is the most complete self-portrait ever painted by a serial killer… as unique a document as Bundy was a killer. There are lessons in this book for everyone’ ROY HAZELWOOD, FORMER FBI PROFILER

Charismatic. Articulate. Evil. Killer.

Two journalists with unprecedented direct access speak to Ted Bundy and those closest to him – friends and family.

What follows is a candid and chilling full account of the life and crimes of the most notorious serial killer in history.

What Bundy had to say in over 150 hours of face-to-face interviews is as relevant today as it was at the time.

 

Joining Blogging Book Tours – pros and cons

2019 has proved to be a wonderful year for me from a book blogging perspective. I have read some incredible books (I’ve read 72 according to Good Reads but I know it is a few more than that!).

I have always been a keen and regular reader – escapism at it’s finest!

During 2019 I’ve really embraced taking part in blog tours for books and I’ve hugely enjoyed it, it feels really good to be tiny part of the publicity and promotion for an author and to feel like I might in some small way have contributed to their sales 🙂

At this point, I would like to offer very genuine and heartfelt thanks to those who have welcomed me into their reviewers fold:

Damp Pebbles Blog Tours – got to start with Emma and Damp Pebbles as this was the first blog tour I joined and I have read some fabulous books thanks to Emma and the excellent service she offers to authors and reviewers.

Tony Marturano – next I move to Tony who introduced me to the fascinating and hugely exciting world of being invited to join a readers panel with a view to being an early reader to provide honest feedback intended help shape the editing process prior to publication. I was honoured to be able to this for Tony with his own books and also with Eye for Eye by J K Franko.

Book on the Bright Side Publicity – then there is the lovely Sarah from BOTBS who again I have taken part in some brilliant tours with and is super lovely to deal with too.

R&R Book Tours – now the lovely Shannon from R&R tours… Not only do I get to discover new books with her but she sends me MAGIC content that is all whizzy and HTML codey wizardry!

Random Things Tours – the most recent sign up for me is with the lovely Anne from Random Things Tours. Anne is great to deal with and super organised – thanks again for letting me take part.

Last but by no means least, I have also done a couple of reviews with Mirror Books and have a couple more lined up for the New Year. They are also great to work with and have some really exciting publications.

Also a nod to NetGalley, I absolutely love NetGalley!

So again, huge thanks to you all.

Now to Pros and Cons

I’ll start with cons as then they are out of the way. It can, at times, feel pressured. It can, sometimes, feel as though you are reading to meet a deadline rather than reading for enjoyment. There will be times when you don’t like the book. You will need to be clear and strong with your own opinions – without damaging the tour. You will need to be organised and meet the commitments you have made in terms of reviews – people are relying on you to publish on the right date. Never ever do it for the ‘free’ books, they aren’t free, think about the cost of your time!

Phew, now, on to the pros! So many positive aspects here, you get to read some amazing books – for me personally I’ve read books that I would probably not have ever encountered and a lot of them have been brilliant! You get to make connections with other people who love books 🙂 it’s a beautiful thing giving someone a book recommendation and then getting a tweet in a couple of weeks time to say they loved it. Reading an advance copy of a book for a nerd like me is exquisite! And, for me, the best thing is knowing that I’ve helped an author or made them smile when I can honestly say ‘I loved your book’.

So thank you all once again and I look forward to reading and reviewing many more fabulous books in 2020.

Lisa x

Black Wolf by G D Abson

4 Stars from me

A bit deeper and and a more grown up read than my usual fluffy crime thrillers, Black Wolf is the sequel to Abson’s debut thriller Motherland and again features Captain Natalya Ivanova of St Petersburg’s Serious Crimes Unit.

The book begins with a beautifully described and atmospheric scene which dunks you straight into the cold, stark, brutal world in which the book is set. It took me a while to comprehend that this is truly based on modern day Russia.

Natalya has a case taken off her but can’t let go of it – the body of a young woman, found on a remote roadside who is found to have links to an anti-Putin activist group – Decembrists. Natalya knows that there will be no true attempts made to find the murderer and she continues her own investigation, even though doing so puts her job and possibly her life in jeopardy.

The beautiful, wintery back drop of St Petersburg and what feels like a private glimpse into Russian politics made this a fascinating read. Dishonesty and corruption are rife, freedom of speech/thought/deed are non-existent and there is a palpable sense of danger throughout.

No spoilers from me. This is a great book to get your teeth into and lose yourself in the icy and dangerous political climate of Putin’s Russia.

Synopsis: A young woman is found dead on the outskirts of St Petersburg on a freezing January morning. She has no injuries, and heavy snowfall has buried all trace of an attacker.

Government security services immediately shut down the case, and Natalya suspects the authorities have something to hide. When the dead woman is revealed to be an anti-Putin activist, Natalya has to go undercover to expose the truth.

But with her career at stake and her own family in danger, how far is she prepared to go?

A captivating, pacy thriller that plunges right into the beating heart of Putin’s Russia.