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Paper Plus Ashburton’s Top Read



Liberation by Imogen Kealey


Little, Brown Book Group

This book is an imagined historical thriller about one of the most decorated women of the Second World War – New Zealand-born and Australian-raised Nancy Wake.

When France falls to the German Army, journalist Nancy Wake is living in Marseille, newly married to a wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca. She is determined to do anything she can to stand up to the invaders and becomes involved with the underground Resistance movement. Their tactics are so successful that there is soon a bounty on her head and the Germans give her the code name White Mouse. Henri is arrested on suspicion of being the White Mouse and to avoid detection Nancy escapes to England. There she joins the SOE – Special Operations Executive and receives intensive training so she can return to France. She parachutes into the Auvergne where she meets up with some of the toughest Resistance fighters in France. These battle-hardened men don’t want a young woman giving them orders, but if they want England’s help they have to swallow their pride and work with her. Their aim is to cause as much disruption as possible to the German Army to enable the Allies to land in France.

The story of Nancy Wake has been told many times, but this is a brilliant fiction story about a true heroine.

Reviewed by Norma Geddes

Mr Nobody by Catherine Steadman

Penguin Random House

This gripping psychological thriller tells the story of Emma Lewis, a neuropsychiatrist with a dark past she is trying to forget. When asked to return to her hometown to assess a patient – a man who has been found on a beach with no memory of who he is – she risks bringing up her past.

This book had me intrigued from the first page and I found it hard to put down, wanting answers to a myriad of questions – who was Mr Nobody, why did he know so much about Emma, and what exactly happened to her all those years ago?

While a number of typos throughout were a little distracting, the clever narrative made it a thoroughly enjoyable read – chapters from Emma’s point of view were told in first person, and chapters from Mr Nobody’s perspective were in third person, enabling the reader to really get inside both characters’ heads.

A captivating read with loads of twists and turns along the way – the suspense was amped up in the final chapters with an ending I didn’t see coming!

Reviewed by Belinda O’Keefe, latitude Sub-Editor

Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

HarperCollins

Two pages into this book I wasn’t sure I was going to continue to read it; a chapter in, I couldn’t put it down. My initial dislike was centred around the main character Missy. A character who is prickly, rude, a little bit random and very unsure of herself. A character who by the end, you are desperate to see happy.  

At 79 Missy is desperately lonely but too stubborn and set in her ways to reach out to those closest to her. She knows there are bridges to be mended with her family and that the only way to overcome the loneliness is to embrace those around her, but her self-doubt keeps holding her back.

While at times it is apparent what will happen next, the intrigue built around Missy and those she slowly befriends keeps you coming back for more, and there is certainly a surprise twist or two in there.

An easy and delightful read.

Reviewed by Lucinda Diack, latitude Publisher

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes

Penguin

The Casey family appear to have it all – wealth, glamour, beauty and success. Centred around the lives and families of three brothers, the story unfolds from the perspective of various family members, and it quickly becomes clear that Jessie, the wife of eldest brother Johnny is the one holding the strings. The Caseys are happy – Jessie makes sure of it.

However, all is not as it seems and as the secrets begin to spill out at a disastrous family dinner, it appears things have been amiss for some time.

The warm-hearted, almost breezy prose tackles the issue of addiction, in various forms – to attention, money, social standing, food and even shopping – and leaves both the characters (and at times the reader) asking whether it is time to stop looking outwards, and instead shift the focus inwards. Is it time to grow up?

Reviewed by Lucinda Diack, latitude Publisher

A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

Hachette

Set in a fictional small town on the West Coast of the South Island, there is something comfortable and familiar about the backdrop of this book. A ‘who-done-it’ tale, lovers of Broadchurch and such stories will relish trying to decipher the outcome.

When tragedy strikes the small close-knit community, members of the town find themselves second guessing those they hold dear. Eight years later, tragedy strikes again with the disappearance of a beautiful young woman. As local cop Will strives to solve the case, he is haunted by memories of the past, both his own and that of the community. Can he seek the justice he needs? 

At some points the storytelling felt a little rushed and sparing in detail, but it adds to the fast-paced nature of the story and leaves you feeling as though you are part of the community watching the event unfold.

A lingering read.

Reviewed by Lucinda Diack, latitude Publisher