Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Books · fiction · Review Copy · Reviews · Rory Clements

A Sarah's Vignettes Book Review: Hitler's Secret by Rory Clements ~ @ZaffreBooks ~ @Tr4cyF3nt0n #BlogTour

It’s a real pleasure to be kicking off the blog tour for Hitler’s Secret by Rory Clements.

Thank you to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Zaffre for sending me a digital copy of the book via NetGalley in return for this honest review.

Before I share my review with you, here is what Hitler’s Secret is about.

~ Publisher’s Description ~

In the Autumn of 1941, the war is going badly for Britain and its allies. If the tide is going to be turned against Hitler, a new weapon is desperately needed.

In Cambridge, brilliant history professor Tom Wilde is asked by an American intelligence officer to help smuggle a mysterious package out of Nazi Germany – something so secret, even Hitler himself doesn’t know of its existence.

Posing as a German-American industrialist, Wilde soon discovers the shocking truth about the ‘package’, and why the Nazis will stop at nothing to prevent it leaving Germany. With ruthless killers loyal to Martin Bormann hunting him down, Wilde makes a desperate gamble on an unlikely escape route. But even if he reaches England alive, that will not be the end of his ordeal. Wilde is now convinced that the truth he has discovered must remain hidden, even if it means betraying the country he loves . . .

~ My thoughts ~

When the invitation for this blog tour popped into my inbox, I was quite excited as I enjoy reading stories set in World War 2. Hitler’s Secret is quite different to other books I’ve read from this period though. It’s a gritty, dark, historical spy thriller that took me on quite a journey. 

When history professor Tom Wilde is asked to go undercover to Germany to pick up a ‘package’ to smuggle back to England, I’m not even sure he realises what he is taking on. What ensues is espionage, Boorman’s men chasing Wilde across land and sea who will do anything, and I mean anything, to destroy the package, mortal danger as well as other things that come with war: road blocks, checkpoints, not knowing who to trust, the list is endless. 

I thought the story was well plotted, researched and flowed. There are quite a few characters in the story so I had to concentrate a little but it soon become clear how they all fit together. I really like Tom Wilde as a character. He is a decent man and makes a brilliant agent.

Hitler’s Secret is the 4th book in a series featuring Tom Wilde. I’ve not read the other books in the series nor experienced Rory Clements writing before. I felt that it was fine to read as a standalone novel. However, I do like a back story and would love to know more about Wilde’s background and what missions he has been sent on in the past. This was a mission and half to say the least. I will definitely be reading the other books in the Tom Wilde series.

~ Where to find Hitler’s Secret ~

Hitler's Secret by Rory Clements

Hitler’s Secret by Rory Clements will be published by Zaffre in the UK on 23rd January 2020. It’s available to pre-order from all good bookshops as well at Amazon UK, Amazon US and can also be found on Goodreads.

~ About Rory Clements ~

Rory Clements

RORY CLEMENTS is a Sunday Times bestselling author. He is twice winner of the CWA Historical Dagger Award, most recently in 2018 for Nucleus, the second Tom Wilde novel. A TV series of Rory’s previous series, the John Shakespeare novels, is currently in development. Rory lives in Norfolk with his family. Find out more at www.roryclements.co.uk

*Author photograph from Goodreads

~ Follow the tour ~

Be sure to drop by the other stops on the Hitler’s Secret blog tour!

A Week in Books · Advanced Review Copy · Blog Tours · Book Hauls · Books · Crime · fiction · Libby Page · Literary Lowdown · R.C. Bridgestock · Rebecca Ley · Recommended Reads · Review Copy · Reviews · Rory Clements

Sarah's Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 13 January – 19 January 2020 #SundayBlogShare

Welcome to this week’s round-up of book life at Sarah’s Vignettes.

Keep scrolling to get the lowdown on what’s been going on here at Sarah’s Vignettes, the books I’ve been adding to my shelves and other bookish delights.

~ On the blog ~

Payback by R.C. Bridgestock

On Tuesday, I shared my review of Payback by R.C. Bridgestock. This is the first book in a new series from husband and wife co-authors Robert and Carol Bridgestock and I loved it! It is a professional, all-consuming crime novel that left me wanting more.

~ On my bookshelf ~

I’ve added 1 book to my shelf this week. It is a digital advanced review copy of For When I’m Gone by Rebecca Ley, which is due to be published on 14th May 2020. This is Rebecca’s debut novel and, although I think it will be tough to read emotionally, I’m looking forward to discovering her writing.

For When I’m Gone by Rebecca Ley

For When I'm Gone by Rebecca Ley

A life cut short. A grieving family. A mother’s guide to surviving without her…

On the surface Sylvia and Paul’s marriage is perfection: she is beautiful, alluringly spiky and brilliantly clever, he is a devoted and doting husband and father to their two young children, Megan and Jude.

When Sylvia is diagnosed with terminal cancer at 38, she knows that she must help Paul navigate the chaos of family life in her absence and that the time has come for a secret she has kept from him throughout their marriage to finally be aired. Sylvia starts to write a manual: a guidebook to their shared domesticity.

As Paul learns to live and love without Sylvia, he realises the extent of her legacy and finds himself indebted once more to his extraordinary, difficult wife, for saving them from an even greater tragedy…

FOR WHEN I’M GONE is about what it means to leave life unfinished, as well as the compromises of a marriage and motherhood. Inspiring and heart-breaking in equal measure, this debut marks Rebecca Ley out as a stunning new talent.

~ On my bedside table ~

Hitler's Secret by Rory Clements
The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page

Yesterday, I finished reading Hitler’s Secret by Rory Clements. Watch out for my review tomorrow. I’m going to read The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page next.


What books have you been reading and buying this week? Let me know by leaving a reply in the box below.

Until next week, happy reading!

A Week in Books · Blog Tours · Books · Literary Lowdown · Lucy Coleman · Megan Angelo · Rachael Lucas · Rory Clements

Sarah's Vignettes Literary Lowdown ~ 6 January – 12 January 2020 #SundaySharing

Welcome to my first weekly round-up of 2020. I’m easing myself in gently to the new blogging year with a short post.

Keep scrolling to get the lowdown on what’s been going on here at Sarah’s Vignettes, the books I’ve been adding to my shelves and other bookish delights.

~ On the blog ~

Followers by Megan Angelo

On Wednesday, I shared my review of Followers by Megan Angelo. This debut novel is well written, intelligently constructed and thought-provoking. It looks at friendship, our internet obsessed culture, privacy, the choices we make and their ramifications. Megan Angelo gives a chilling and unsettling view into the not so distant future.

~ On my bookshelf ~

I’ve added 2 books to my shelves this week: 1 which was published on Thursday (9th Jan) and 1 digital copy for a blog tour coming up in March.

On Twitter, I scrolled across a post from author Rachael Lucas talking about her latest novel The Telephone Box Library. The title grabbed me at first – who doesn’t love a library in a phone box! -and then she mentioned Bletchley Park. I was sold!! So, I popped down to my local Sainsbury’s to buy a copy.

The Telephone Box Library by Rachael Lucas

The Telephone Box Library by Rachael Lucas

Books. Wine. Secrets. You’ll find them all at the telephone box library . . .

The Cotswolds: the perfect retreat for a stressed-out teacher. And Lucy has found just the right cottage for a bargain rent. All she has to do is keep an eye on Bunty, her extremely feisty ninety-something neighbour . . .

With her West Highland terrier Hamish at her side, Lucy plans to relax and read up on the women of nearby Bletchley Park. But the villagers of Little Maudley have other ideas, and she finds herself caught up in the campaign to turn a dilapidated telephone box into a volunteer-run library.

Along the way, she makes friends with treehouse designer Sam, and finds herself falling for the charms of village life. And it seems Bunty has a special connection to Bletchley and the telephone box, one that she’s kept secret for decades . . .


I received an email earlier this week from blog tour organiser and fellow book blogger, Rachel Gilbey, inviting me to take part in a blog tour for A Springtime to Remember by Lucy Coleman. If you follow me on social media or read my blog, you’ll know that Lucy Coleman/Linn B.Halton is one of my favourite authors. I am so excited to get to read another of her stories.

A Springtime to Remember by Lucy Coleman

A Springtime to Remember by Lucy Coleman

Escape the cold and let Lucy Coleman transport you to glorious, sun-drenched France, for the perfect feel-good read.

Paris and the Palace of Versailles have always meant a lot to TV producer Lexie. Her grandma Viv spent a year there, but her adventures and memories were never discussed, and Lexie has long wondered why they were a family secret. 

When work presents the perfect excuse to spend Springtime in Versailles, Lexie delves into Viv’s old diaries and scrapbooks, and with the help of handsome interpreter Ronan, she is soon learning more about the characters that tend to the magnificent gardens, now and in the past.

In amongst the beauty and splendour of the French countryside, a story of lost love, rivalry and tragedy unfolds.  Can Lexie and Ronan right the wrongs of the past, and will France play its tricks on them both before Lexie has to go home? Will this truly be a Springtime to Remember…

~ On my bedside table ~

Hitler's Secret by Rory Clements

I’m currently reading Hitler’s Secret by Rory Clements. I’ll be sharing my review on 20th January.


What books have you been reading and buying this week? Let me know by leaving a reply in the box below.

Until next week, happy reading!

Books · fiction · Reviews · Stacey Halls

A Sarah’s Vignettes Book Review: The Familiars by Stacey Halls (@stacey_halls) ~ @ZaffreBooks ~ #TheFamiliars

~ Publisher’s Description ~

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.

Then she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife. Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong.

As Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the north-west, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye?

Soon the two women’s lives will become inextricably bound together as the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood’s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake.

Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

~ My thoughts ~

What a brilliant book and definitely not what I expected. To tell you the truth, I’m not completely sure what I expected from The Familiars. Set in 1600s Lancashire and based around the Pendle Witch trials, it’s a period in English history I know little about nor an era I usually enjoy stories set in. However, Stacey Halls contemporary writing style, with some language from the period interweaved here and there, helped me settle into the story easily.

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is the 17 year old mistress of Gawthorpe Hall and protagonist of The Familiars. The story follows Fleetwood as she seeks help to carry a baby full term. She is also a real person as were her husband Richard Shuttleworth, Alice Gray, one of the witches on trial, and many other characters in the novel. I love it when an author takes a real place (Gawthorpe Hall is in Padiham, Lancashire), people and events and writes a story from it. Stacey Halls is a natural storyteller and takes the reader on a journey through life in Lancashire, what it was to be a women during the time of the Pendle Witch trials, and one brave young woman’s quest to seek the truth.

The Familiars is a cleverly structured and beautifully written debut. It draws on the strengths of women and the power of female friendships in a time dominated by men, where women were seen and treated as inferior, their place very much in the home. They were to be seen and not heard. Stacey Halls has created a woman ahead of her time in Fleetwood Shuttleworth. Fleetwood is a strong woman and as we go through the story, we understand her nature.

For me, reading a physical copy of a book starts with the cover. I read a hardback copy of this book and what a beautiful copy it is. The cover designer has done an excellent job of pulling out the key elements of the story. The blue leaf of each page really finishes it off. 

I thoroughly enjoyed The Familiars and I am really looking forward to reading Stacey Halls next book The Foundling, due to be published in February 2020.

~ Where to find The Familiars ~

The Paperback edition of The Familiars was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 24 September 2019. It can be found in all good bookshops, on Amazon UK, Amazon US and on Goodreads.

~ About Stacey Halls ~

Author Stacey Halls

Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, as the daughter of market traders. She has always been fascinated by the Pendle witches. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and moved to London aged 21. She was media editor at The Bookseller and books editor at Stylist.co.uk, and has also written for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine, where she now works as Deputy Chief Sub Editor. The Familiars is her first novel.

~ W: http://www.thefamiliarsbook.com/

~ T: @stacey_halls

~ I: @staceyhallsauthor