Today I’m pleased to announce the start of a week long blog tour for this wonderful book, Ashes by Christpher De Vinck, with this post being the first stop on this tour! 😀 Published by Harper Inspire just last week, this amazing historical fiction novel set during and around World War II is a beautiful story of friendship and hope. There’s more detail about the book as wll as my review below, and I’m also going to be hosting a giveaway for this book so please read to the end of the post to check it out. 🙂
About the Book
Belgium, July 1939: Simone Lyon is the daughter of a Belgium national hero, the famous General Joseph Lyon. Her best friend Hava Daniels, is the eldest daughter of a devout Jewish family. Despite growing up in different worlds, they are inseparable.
But when, in the spring of 1940, Nazi planes and tanks begin bombing Brussels, their resilience and strength are tested. Hava and Simone find themselves caught in the advancing onslaught and are forced to flee.
In an emotionally-charged race for survival, even the most harrowing horrors cannot break their bonds of love and friendship. The two teenage girls, will see their innocence fall, against the ugly backdrop of a war dictating that theirs was a friendship that should never have been.
My Review: Oh my goodness, I’m in tears after reading this book, it’s such a beautiful and touching novel with both happy and sad moments. Eighteen year old Simone Lyon and her friend Hava Daniels quickly become best friends when they meet as volunteers for the Red Cross. The two become like sisters, and it isn’t long before Simone, who lives with her father, feels a part of Hava’s family too. When war begins and Simone’s father has to leave, and Hava becomes seperated from her family, the two girls quickly find themselves rushing to escape Belgium and the invading Nazi forces. But wherever they run, the Nazi’s soon follow.
This feels like such an amazing novel and I’m surprised with how quickly I became engrossed in the story. Mostly set in Brussels, the story begins with a short prologue before starting before the war, when Simone and Hava first meet. Hava’s family is Polish and Jewish and despite knowing that this book would eventualy take a sad turn as the war came to Belgium, I really loved these early chapters showing the developing story around the two girls and how beautiful and strong their friendship is. The chapters are very short but I love the way this first part of the book builds up this bond of friendship and it made me really love Hava’s character as she’s a bit eccentric and silly at times (reminding me a bit of myself as a teenager!).
The story is told from Simone’s point of view and each chapter is, as I said quite short, with the whole pace of the novel being fast. I like this fast pace as it keeps the whole tale moving along quickly and kept me wanting to turn the pages. Each chapter begins with an excerpt at the top in italics, either from a real speech by a country’s leader (such as Churchill or Hitler), a quote by someone else involved in the war or a short piece of information about what was happening during the war. These short extracts are so well placed, often giving insight into what happens in the next chapter, or making you think about what would happen to some of the characters. Many of the excerpts also explain things I didn’t know about, things that were happening in the war at the time but that to this day I’d never heard of. Not all the extracts are easy to read though and some of the quotes especially from Hitler’s speeches did make me for uncomfortable reading although I’m still glad they were included. For example there are some quotes about Polish people (not just Jews) which show the extent of hatred there was for them as well as a few other different kinds of people. This felt sad and uncomfortable for me personally as I have Polish family, but I do like the fact it’s included as it’s important to know what truly happened.
In the story, the journey the girls take is a long one and is filled with lots of different moments, some happy and others sad. I like how this book shows the way that some people chose to act during the war and how not all of them were helpful although there are acts of great kindness too. The ending is one I did like although I was left with mixed emotions at the end. In fact I was very tearful, especially after I read something about a name of a certain character. The story is filled with so much hope and sadness all at the same time. There are good moments mixed with very sad ones and it does give you a good insight into how life was for people going through the war, but that ending is a mixture of something sad and yet also uplifting.
I’d really recommend everyone to read this novel, it’s so easy to get into and I think it would make for great reading for teenagers as well as adults due the fast pace and young characters. Whether you usually enjoy reading historical fiction about the Second World War or not, this book is not only a powerful story, but it also teaches you so much about what was happening at the time, and gives you an insight into what was happening in Belgium too. This is such a poignant and beautiful novel and at the same time quite educational without feeling like it, it’s also inspired by true events which the author has a close connection with, making it all the more interesting to read. It’s such a brilliant book and it’s one I hope everyone reads!*
About the Author
Christopher de Vinck is a teacher and the author of eleven books and numerous articles and essays for publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Reader’s Digest. He delivers speeches on faith, disabilities, fatherhood, and writing, and has been invited to speak at the Vatican.
His essays on everyday life have been published in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Good Housekeeping.
He has won two Christopher Awards, which celebrates authors whose work looks at the ‘highest values of the human spirit’. His essay The Power of the Powerless was praised by, among many others US President Ronald Reagan.
Christopher is the father of three and lives in New Jersey (USA) with his wife.
With the book just being published last week I’m pleased to announce that one lucky person will have the chance to win a paperback copy of Ashes, in a giveaway which I’m running (my first giveaway on this blog! 😀 ). The giveaway is UK only this time and will end at 23.59 (11.59pm) on Thursday 27th August 2020. (**T&C see below)
All you have to do to win is comment below on why you’d like to read (and win) a copy of Ashes. Please also visit my twitter (@TStrawberryPost) and instagram (@TStrawberryPost) for extra chances to win! You can enter up to three times, on twitter, instagram and this blog, and at the end of the giveaway one lucky winner will be picked and will be sent a copy of Ashes by Christopher De Vinck! 😀 😀
Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today, I hope you enjoyed this post and I really do hope I’ve interested some of you in reading Ashes, I have just loved this book! 🙂 Don’t forget to check out the other stops in this blog tour which will be running all this week!
**Terms & Conditions: Giveaway will be open until 23.59 on 27th August 2020. UK only. All valid entries after this time will be entered into a draw, with one random winner chosen soon after. Winner will be contacted on the platform they entered via to receive prize (DMed on twitter and instagram or asked to provide email on blog). Winner must provide mailing address to receive prize, after which the prize will be sent by the publisher. Winners details will not be kept for longer than is needed to send prize. If winner cannot be contacted by the end of the week then another will be chosen. The Strawberry Post is not responsible for any problems with delivery of prize. Good luck everyone! 🙂
* A free early release copy was provided by publisher for review
What do you think of Ashes? Are you looking forward to reading it? Are you entering the giveaway? Let me know in the comments below 🙂