Book Review: Girl in the River by Patricia Kullberg

I’ve not been reading or reviewing as much as I normally do. Life has that funny habit of ensuring that some times are so busy that all you want to do at the end of a day is sleep.

I was sent this book ages ago by Mindbuck Media and I feel awful that I took this long to read it.

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Mae Rose has been living with her mother. She had clues that everything wasn’t quite normal in her family when she found herself not being allowed to be friends with other kids. As she grew up, she realised why, her mother was a prostitute. She wanted to be nothing like her mother, but orphaned at 16, life pushes her into her m0ther’s world.

Set in the Portland of 1950s, a city controlled by criminals and crime, Mae Rose’s life reflects the turbulent times that it was. 16 year old Mae Rose, newly orphaned, when her mother dies from a botched abortion, suddenly realises how unsafe the city can be for girls like her. All she wants is some work, but realises all too soon that young girls like her are preyed upon. She ends up learning the hard way, and then decides to play unsafe on her own terms. 

The story brings underbelly of the city, funded by gangsters hand in hand with the corrupt city officials, it was the girls on the street who bore the brunt of it. The story features two real people from that era, Dr Ruth Barnett, the famous abortionist and Dorothy Lee, the anti-vice crusader who came down heavily on corruption. Mae Rose’s story is woven beautifully with the happenings at that time. 

It was a book that needs to be read. A book with so much insight into those times. A book I would definitely recommend. It also has the most charming and unlikeliest of romances, one I found very sweet, and yet doesn’t detract from the tale being narrated at all, which is far from sweet. A 4.5/5 book for me. A book that will stay with me.

About the author

A doctor and a historical fiction writer, Kullberg brings both areas of her expertise together in her writing. Based out of Portland, This is her first book, with others in the offing.

The book is available from Amazon(UK).

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Book Review: The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson

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Eliza Bennett is living the life she’s always dreamt about, doing something she loves with a man she loves. However she’s hiding a terrible secret that could bring her dream life down like a pack of cards. 

For one, she isn’t who everyone thinks she is. She is actually Klaudia Meyer. She’s adopted Eliza Bennett as her new name. Klaudia, she no longer was, in her own mind. And Eliza she would have stayed, until life forced her to face the truth.

Klaudia has had a difficult childhood, being the only daughter of Otto and Gwyn. Otto is the school caretaker, and an object of fun for her school mates. With his German background, the easiest jibe to fling at him was, ‘Nazi’. His obsession with religious carvings don’t help matters. By the time she becomes older, all she wants is to run far far away from her childhood home. Also lurking was the growing suspicion that maybe the school kids weren’t too far off with their jibe of ‘Nazi’. Klaudia knew that she needed to get away, and Leeds seemed far enough. 

When she moves away from home, she chooses a new name for herself, Eliza Bennett, inspired by Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett. She constructs a new identity for herself and was perfectly happy until life threw everything into disarray.

The story weaves back into the past, with Otto and Ernst’s life in Nazi Germany. Ernst narrates the tale of life in war time Germany. It makes for a heartbreaking read. It is unbearable to read of life in such situations, where people are pitted against people. Neighbours, friends, all forced to turn against each other, and the power of words, campaigns, and slogans which gave people the thrust to do things they would have never done otherwise. Things that would come to haunt them later. 

A moving tale of a girl who doesn’t know the truth of her past, of ghosts of the past haunting not just the people who lived through things, but also  generations which come later. 

A poignant read, one which I will stay with me. A good, haunting read, especially Ernst’s part of the book. A 4/5 read for me. This is the first book I’ve read of this author, and I know that it’s not going to be the last.

Thank you, Netgalley and the publishers for the review copy of the book.

About the Author

Saskia grew up in Suffolk and now lives in London. She is the mother of four children, including identical twin girls. She has a B.A hons in English Literature from Cambridge and an M.A in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway. She’s worked as a Health & Beauty Editor,freelance journalist, ghost-writer and script reader. As well as writing and reading, she loves tango dancing and dog walking.


This book is available at Amazon(UK)