The Cornish Dressmaker by Nicola Pryce @NPryce_Author @CorvusBooks #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts today on The Cornish Dressmaker by Nicola Pryce. I would like to thank Sophie Walker at Atlantic Books for bringing this book to my attention, when Sophie asked if I would like a copy my response was a definite yes please, how could I not want one? I do live in Cornwall after all!

Synopsis:

The third sweeping novel in a stunning series of family sagas set in eighteenth-century Cornwall, following the trials of seamstress Elowyn Liddicot as she attempts to forge her own destiny.

Cornwall, 1796.

Seamstress Elowyn Liddicot’s family believe they’ve secured the perfect future for her, in the arms of Nathan Cardew. But then one evening, Elowyn helps to rescue a dying man from the sea, and everything changes. William Cotterell, wild and self-assured, refuses to leave her thoughts or her side – but surely she can’t love someone so unlike herself?

With Elowyn’s dressmaking business suddenly under threat, her family’s pressure to marry Nathan increasing, and her heart decidedly at odds with her head, Elowyn doesn’t know who to trust any more. And when William uncovers a sinister conspiracy that affects her whole world, can Elowyn find the courage to support the people she loves in the face of all opposition?

My Thoughts:

Cornwall in 1796. Think smuggling, mining, fishing, a time of new ventures and risks. This is where Elowyn Liddicot (Elly) lives. She has a loyal shadow in the form of Billy, a young lad who is inquisitive as he is loyal and trustworthy. Elly is torn between a marriage to Nathan who can provide her with a good stable home and life, but then there is William Cotterel, a washed up man who has nothing to apart from a passion for right and wrong.

This is an absolute cracker of a read as I got to travel along the lanes and shores of rugged Cornwall. An area I know well from living here for 18 years, so it was very easy for me to use the authors words to imagine the scenery. This book has a mix of things I like from a historical fiction read, history, facts, references and also some good old fashioned romance.

Elly has to make a decision, it should be her own but her family are pushing her towards Nathan. It is the ideal way for her family to take a step up the status ladder, not nice but it’s something that happened more often than not. If it wasn’t for Willaim washing up then there would be no decision, so he is the proverbial spanner in the works.

The story itself is one that had some interesting asides to it as the author used things that happened at the time with mining, advances in technology as well the judicial system to give a great depth to the story, making it more that just a historical romance.

There are several character sin this book that covers various roles and it didn’t take me long to get a grasp as to who was who. The story started off at an amble that gradually picked up a little speed as I got comfortable in its pages.

So this is a book I would definitely recommend, if you like Cornwall, historical fiction, Romance and also  Poldark then you should definitely choose this.

About the Author:

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Nicola Pryce trained as a nurse at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. She has always loved literature and completed an Open University degree in Humanities. She is a qualified adult literacy support volunteer and lives with her husband in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. She and her husband love sailing and together they sail the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure.

‘Pengelly’s Daughter’ is the first novel in her new Cornish saga. Her second novel, ‘The Captain’s Girl’ was published this July and ‘The Cornish Dressmaker’ in May 2018.

Nicola is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Historical Writers Association.

She can be found on : Twitter – Goodreads – Facebook – Website

Many thanks for reading my review, a like or share would be fab 🙂 xx

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The Red Hand Of Fury by R.N.Morris @rnmorris @rararesources #Giveaway (Open Int) #BookReview

The Red Hand of Fury - Cover

I have my thoughts on The Red Hand of Fury by R.N.Morris to share with you today as part of the blog tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. You can purchase a copy of the book from AMAZON UK or AMAZON US.

Synopsis:

London, June 1914. A young man is mauled to death at London Zoo after deliberately climbing into the bear pit. Shortly afterwards, another young man leaps to his death from the notorious Suicide Bridge. Two seemingly unconnected deaths – and yet there are similarities.

Following a third attempted suicide, Detective Inspector Silas Quinn knows he must uncover the link between the three men if he is to discover what caused them to take their own lives. The one tangible piece of evidence is a card found in each of the victims’ possession, depicting a crudely-drawn red hand. What does it signify? To find the answers, Quinn must revisit his own dark past. But can he keep his sanity in the process …?

My Thoughts:

Inspector Silas Quinn of the Special Crime Department believes there is a connection when he comes across 2 suicides and 1 attempted suicide. There is not much that links these events together, but Quinn thinks differently and along with his sergeants; Macadam and Inchball they try to discover the truth.

This is set in 1914 London and begins in Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum as the newest patient is brought in. The author describes the brutal and harsh treatment of patients before taking a step back by a few weeks, and then I got to learn the story of the events as they happened bringing me back up to date.

This is a really gritty and grimy read as I got taken round some not particularly nice areas of London. There are historical references that help set the picture and add to the scenes and have very nicely woven into the story.

The plot is very clever and I had no idea as to who was responsible or why. It contained teasing and cryptic little details as I followed Quinn and his team on their investigation. The characters themselves are quite likeable, but I am not sure about Quinn he is an oddball in some ways.

This is the fourth in the series and it worked very well as a stand alone. True to my usual form I haven’t read the previous books, but didn’t feel that I was missing out too much on any previous stories. It has left me very intrigued and wanting to read the previous books in the series.

If you like early 1900’s detective, murder mystery then this is a really must read one . It is well paced and kept me guessing all the way through, it does have some good historical references. This is one I would definitely recommend.

About the Author:

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R. N. Morris is the author of eight historical crime novels. His first, A Gentle Axe, was published by Faber and Faber in 2007. Set in St Petersburg in the nineteenth century, it features Porfiry Petrovich, the investigating magistrate from Dostoevsky’s great novel, Crime and Punishment. The book was published in many countries, including Russia. He followed that up with A Vengeful Longing, which was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. A Razor Wrapped in Silk came next, followed by The Cleansing Flames, which was nominated for the Ellis Peters Historical Novel Dagger. The Silas Quinn series of novels, set in London in 1914, began with Summon Up The Blood, followed by The Mannequin House, The Dark Palace and now The Red Hand of Fury, published on 31 March, 2018.

Taking Comfort is a standalone contemporary novel, written as Roger Morris. He also wrote the libretto to the opera When The Flame Dies, composed by Ed Hughes.

Social Media Links – TwitterFacebook page for Red Hand of FuryWebsite

Giveaway – Win a hardback copy of The Red Hand of Fury (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

ENTER HERE FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A HARDBACK COPY

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What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean @CarrieKablean @RedDoorBooks #LoveBooksGroupTours #BookReview

 

9781910453612I am sharing my thoughts on “What Kitty Did Next” by Carrie Kablean, this is available to purchase from Amazon UK in paperback or ebook format. My thanks to Red Door Books and Kelly at Love Books Group Tours for my ebook and also my spot on the tour.

Synopsis:

England, 1813 – Nineteen-year-old Catherine Bennet lives in the shadow of her two eldest sisters, Elizabeth and Jane, who have both made excellent marriages. No one expects Kitty to amount to anything. Left at home in rural Hertfordshire with her neurotic and nagging mother, and a father who derides her as ‘silly and ignorant’, Kitty is lonely, diffident and at a loss as to how to improve her situation. When her world unexpectedly expands to London and the Darcy’s magnificent country estate in Derbyshire, she is overjoyed. Keen to impress this new society, and to change her family’s prejudice, Kitty does everything she can to improve her mind and manners – and for the first time feels liked and respected. However, one fateful night at Pemberley, a series of events and misunderstandings conspire to ruin Kitty’s reputation. Accused of theft – a crime worse almost worse than murder among the Georgian aristocracy – she is sent back home in disgrace. But Kitty has learnt from her new experiences and what she does next does next will not only surprise herself, but everyone else too.
Based on Jane Austen’s much-loved characters, this is the story of one young woman’s struggle to overcome the obstacles of her time and place and truly find herself.

My Thoughts:

As is the norm for me, I tucked into this book without reading the synopsis and I couldn’t help thinking I had heard of these characters somewhere before, I also had a voice of some of them in my head, it was strange so I read the synopsis and realised that this was a book about Kitty Bennett, one of the Bennett sisters from Pride and Prejudice. I love Jane Austen’s classic book and love the film.

So a new to me author writes a book about characters I am already familiar with, this is quite bazaar. I remember Kitty and Lydia being the really silly annoying girls, who were fixated with “Officers”, getting noticed and married. The author has taken over the story of Kitty and I really loved the way she has done this. The often left out one, ignored one or in the way and stupid one, my heart really did go out to her. It was great to see a change in this character grow and develop. Once out of the shadow of Lydia, Kitty comes to the realisation that she is indeed very childish and in order to be more readily listened to she must learn to grow up.

As the story progresses the author has not made it easy for Kitty, there are some obstacles that have been added and it is interesting to see how Kitty approaches these and acts to them. I really found myself warming to her as the story continued and it wasn’t long before I was willing her onward to find what she wanted in her life.

The whole feeling of the story from start to finish oozed the sense of fashion, social gatherings, etiquette as along with the setting I felt as if I had been transported back into the early 1800’s and a great continuation to a story I adore.

I would absolutely recommend this to readers of historical fiction, romance and general fiction. It is a story that continues on from a classic and reads well as a stand alone. If you are not a reader of classics then do not be put off, this is a fabulous and well paced book that will appeal to many readers.

About the Author:

Carrie Kablean began her career in London, where she was born, and now lives in Australia. Arriving in Sydney in 1990 (via eight years in Papua New Guinea, during which time she edited the local newspaper on Bougainville), she was with The Australian newspaper for more than 20 years, and was, concurrently, a theatre critic for the Sunday Telegraph.

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Mary Rosie’s War by Catherine M Byrne @Katrine66 @rararesources #BookReview #Giveaway (UK only)

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I am delighted to be sharing Mary Rosie’s War by Catherine M Byrne with you today as part of the blog tour by Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources. You can buy a copy of this fabulous book HERE. This is my first time with this author and this series. Each book is written so it can be read as a stand alone and I am immensely grateful for this. There is also a fabulous GIVEAWAY running to be in with a chance to win Catherine’s books, check it out below xx

Synopsis:

WW2 has been declared. A strange find on the beach gives Mary Rosie the chance to fulfil her dreams and contribute to her country, but all is not what she imagined.

After witnessing the first bomb to be dropped on mainland Britain, Mary watches her friends leave to join the forces and longs to be with them, but is held back by loyalty to her widowed mother.

France has capitulated. Johnny Allan’s regiment has been annihilated by German troops north of Paris. Johnny has to find a way to get home and to the girl who no longer waits for him.

Leisel is a German Jew who lost her family to the Nazis and has to make her way in Britain, a strange new country, while harbouring a desire for revenge.

Their lives become entangled in a way that no one could have envisaged.

A story about war, family ties, love, loyalty and loss.

My Thoughts:

Mary Rosie is the daughter of Chrissie and sister to Peter. Chrissie, a single parent after the death of her husband, has brought up her children between wars. It is where the story starts as the impeding WWII is still only rumour, how could there be another war after the end of WWI, it was supposed to be the war to end all war.

As WWII is declared it is Peter that is the first to enrol and leave home, followed by some of Mary’s friends. Mary felt quite put out that many others were going off “to do their bit” and she had to stay at home with mum. It is one night when Mary is out on the beach that she discovers Liesel and it sets the start of various events that will change the life of not only Mary, but many, many others.

This story is set in Scotland and uses some local dialect and also terms. Some readers like this inclusion some loathe it, me I love it, it really helps to imagine the voices of the characters and helps make them more memorable at times. I think this is because I tend to pay more attention to the dialogue as I read. In my head I have the perfect accent, what happens when I try to actually speak is a different matter entirely.

The beautifully written story took me into the life of Mary and the Rosie family and their friends within their small community. While I did understand Chrissie wanting to keep her daughter safe at home, I also really understood the need for Mary to want to help. She was a character I could understand, though some of her naivety did make me chuckle, that however was soon rectified as she met new friends. I have to admit to liking this naive Mary, it added a charm and honesty to her character that I did find quite endearing.

The author took me through the more traditional early 1900’s lifestyle and way of life, incorporating family values and expectations. Along with this is the worry of the turmoil occurring in Europe and the settings proximity to Scapa Flow, I was allowed a glimpse into the life of the Rosie’s. I got a real feeling of pride not only in the family but also of their friends and community. The setting was brilliantly described and even though I have not been to this area of Scotland, I was able to build up a good image from the authors descriptions.

The story moves through several years quite quickly from the build up to the War, during and also after. It gave me a chance to see the change in Mary, not only in her personally but also of her character. There are some scenes described that involve the war from various perspectives, but Mary is really the main character. The author has kept a continuation to the story even as the character point of view changes.

This is a story of family, war, hope, despair and love. It has been written in such a way as to keep me avidly turning the pages as I was transported into Mary’s life. A book that I would highly recommend to readers who enjoy historical, family saga, WWII setting and general fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be looking to read more books by Catherine Byrne.

About the Author:

Mary Rsies War - Author.jpg Catherine Byrne always wanted to be a writer. She began at the age of eight by drawing comic strips with added dialogue and later, as a teenager, graduated to poetry.  Her professional life however, took a very different path.  She first studied glass engraving with Caithness Glass where she worked for fourteen years. During that time she also worked as a foster parent.  After the birth of her youngest child she changed direction, studying and becoming a chiropodist with her own private practice.  At the same time she did all the administration work for her husband’s two businesses, and this continued until the death of her husband in 2005.  However she still maintained her love of writing, and has had several short stories published in women’s magazines.  Her main ambition was to write novels and she has now retired in order to write full time.

Born and brought up until the age of nine on the Island of Stroma, she heard many stories from her grandparents about the island life of a different generation. Her family moved to the mainland at a time when the island was being depopulated, although it took another ten years before the last family left.

An interest in geology, history and her strong ties to island life have influenced her choice of genre for her novels.

Since first attending the AGM of the Scottish Association of Writers in 1999, Catherine has won several  prizes, commendations and has been short-listed both for short stories and chapters of her novels. In 2009, she won second prize in the general novel category for ‘Follow The Dove’

In 2016 The Road to Nowhere  won second prize in the Barbara Hammond competition for Best Self Published novel. The follow up, Isa’s Daughter won 1st prize in the same competition the following year.

Although the books follow the fortunes of the same family, they are all stand-alone.

The fifth book in the Raumsey series is  Mary Rosie’s War.

Catherine Byrne lives in Wick, Caithness.

Follow Catherine on – Facebook – Website – Twitter – Blog

∗∗∗∗∗GIVEAWAY∗∗∗∗∗

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Giveaway – 1st Prize – all 4 of Catherine Byrne’s previous books in paperback .
6 x Runners Up Prizes – PB copy of Broken Horizon  (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries only.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

∗∗∗∗∗ENTER HERE FOR A CHANCE TO WIN, GOOD LUCK 🙂 XX∗∗∗∗∗

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#BookReview : Letterbox by P.A.Davies @padavies #Letterbox @CarolineBookBit

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I am delighted to be sharing “Letterbox” by P.A.Davies as part of the blog tour by Caroline at Bits About Books. My thanks to Caroline for my spot on the tour and also the author for my e-copy of the book.

You can purchase a copy at :-
Paperback (signed): https://padavies.co.uk/shop/
Paperback or Ebook from Amazon: getbook.at/Letterbox

Synopsis:

Letterbox is strong, powerful, emotive. A harrowing novel about the 1996 Manchester IRA bombing – what a haunting tale and heartbreaking insight into the lives of those, responsible for the bombings and of those, who by their very being had no choice but to be implicated in it… their lives will never be the same…
At approximately 09.00 hrs on the 15th June 1996, an unassuming white lorry was parked on Corporation Street in the city centre of Manchester, England; It contained over 3000 pounds of high explosive.

At 11.15 hrs the same day, Manchester witnessed the detonation of the largest device on the British mainland since the Second World War … The Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility for the attack.

Based around actual events, LETTERBOX tells the story of Liam Connor, an ordinary boy brought up in Manchester by a seemingly ordinary family.  He goes to the local school, loves football and has a best friend called Sean … an ordinary life.

Unbeknown to Liam, his father, Michael Connor, harbours a dark historic secret and follows a life less ordinary … as a furtive yet high ranking soldier within the IRA.

As a result of extraordinary circumstances, Liam’s innocent and carefree world is shattered when he is exposed to the truth about his family’s heritage and then learns about the tragic death of his father at the hands of the SAS.

Consumed with both hate and the need to seek retribution, Liam is taken to Ireland where he is intensively trained to become a highly skilled and efficient soldier within the Irish Republican Army … He is 16 years old.

Some years later, following the drug-induced death of his beloved sister, Liam is given the opportunity to exact his revenge on those he believed should truly be blamed for the tragedies in his life … The British Government.

Thus, on the 15th June 1996, it was Liam’s responsibility to drive the bomb-laden lorry into the unsuspecting city of Manchester and let the voice of the IRA be clearly heard …

And listened to…

My Thoughts:

This has been a difficult review for me to write. I understand people have their own reasons for their actions, I do not always agree with them. Trying to kill people to make a point is not something I agree with. But I am reviewing a book based on actual events and I will try to convey my thoughts on the story.

Theauthorhas used facts from the 1996 Manchester bombing by the IRA and wrapped a fictional aspect around it to create an addictive, powerful, hard and yet compelling read. As you will see from his Author bio below, he was raised in Manchester, he has an interest in the city. The synopsis is detailed so you are aware in advance of the content of the story.

The story begins with two old friends meeting up by chance just before the explosion, they have not seen each other for years. I was then taken back as these two characters as they grew up. Liam and Sean become best friends and I got to experience their childhood antics and the taunts towards Liam from other children. Liam’s family is a one of the father being away working a lot, with Liam not knowing exactly what his father does. This all changes one night and suddenly opens up a world that challenges everything Liam believes in.

The first part of the story is actually the main bulk of the book and deals with Liam, Sean and their lives. Then towards the end of the book is the shorter Part Two, and I got to learn a little bit about Liam’s sister. Even though she has been in the story, she is often only a brief mention, it is in this part of the story that I finally got to learn about her, and how events have affected her on a personal level. The often forgotten and older of the two siblings.

The story also incorporates little bits of history from the 1916 Easter Uprising against British rule in the Irish Republic, and the IRA. This gave a different perspective to the Manchester bombing. Though there are political reasons for why this happened, the author has not gone into the politics too much. He has kept the story about the friendship of two boys, about their family and also their belief.

The author, for me has done a wonderful job of setting out this story. I was hooked pretty quickly and as I was slowly drawn deeper in. I got a real sense of family and friendship from the lives of the boys. As they got older and events unfolded the speed gradually increased and I was flipping pages faster, it was if it had taken on an urgency as I turned the pages quicker.

The bombing is described and the author has in my opinion dealt with it well. I felt that he hadn’t over dramatised the event, but had shown a side of an event from the perspective of a characters personal point of view.

This is a book that I would definitely recommend to readers. It is an emotional, strong, fact based book.

I would also advise reading the Epilogue. I know many readers do this, but for those that don’t, you will find just a couple of pages of very interesting facts of Manchester before and also after the bombing.

About the Author:

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P.A. Davies grew up in Manchester, UK, a place he has lived in and around all his life – he loves Manchester and is proud to be part of the multi-cultural, modern city that houses two Premiership football teams and is the birthplace of many a famous band, such as Oasis, the Stone Roses, Take That and Simply Red.

For most of his life, he dabbled with writing various pieces, from poems to short fictional stories just for fun. However, following advice from a good friend he decided to have a go at writing a novel. Thus, his first novel ‘Letterbox’ was conceived, a fictional take on the infamous IRA bombing of Manchester in 1996. It took him over a year to complete but while doing so, he found it to be one of the most satisfying and interesting paths he had ever followed. It comes as no surprise that the writing bug now became firmly embedded within him.

P.A. Davies’ second book was published in May 2013, ‘George: A Gentleman of the Road’, a true story about one of Manchester’s homeless. His third novel, ‘The Good in Mister Philips’, is an erotic novel (arguably set to rival Fifty Shades…!) and his fourth, ‘Nobody Heard Me Cry’ (Dec. 2015) is again a fact-based tale, this time of Manchester’s darker side. The thriller ‘Absolution’ (Oct. 2017) is his fifth novel. Currently, P.A. Davies is writing his sixth novel, titled ‘I, Muslim.’

To label P.A. Davies’ writings would be difficult because his works diverse from thrillers to touching novels to true-to-life tales embedded in a captivating story for the author is an imaginative and versatile storyteller.

Follow the Author on ––  Website –  Facebook –  Twitter –  Goodreads – Amazon –  Google – Instagram

Other Books by the Author – 

 Absolution
Nobody Heard Me Cry
The Good in Mister Philips
George: A Gentleman of the Road
Letterbox

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#BookReview : The Hanging Women by John Mead @JohnMeadAuthor @rararesources #HistoricalFiction

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Today I have my thoughts on “The Hanging Women” by John Mead as part of  the blog tour by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. My thanks to Rachel for my spot and to John for my e-copy of the book. you can purchase from Amazon UK.

Synopsis:

A historical crime thriller set in 1886 Chicago; the power house of America, a sink of corruption and vice which is haunted by riots and gangland killings.  A story of weak men and strong women.

Jack Stevens discovers the bodies of two women, Philomena Blackstaff and Mary Walsh, tied together and hung by their ankles in a position resembling the symbol for treachery as depicted on tarot cards. Though retired and now wealthy, Stevens is an ex-sheriff and involves himself in the subsequent investigation.

As a result of Jack `stealing’ Philomena’s diary and his association with the Pinkerton detective agency, it is discovered that Mary Walsh worked undercover for the Pinkertons, investigating the Knights of Labour (the fastest growing workers’ rights movements in America of the late 1800’s). The women had been working together, tracing the man who was selling guns and dynamite to the more extremest factions of the workers movement. This led them to Ruby’s, a secret `nightclub for deviants’, where Stevens and Inspector O’Leary believe the pair fell foul of the man they were looking for, gang leader Joseph Mannheim.

With the May 4th Haymarket riots and bombings looming, Stevens must uncover the truth about The Hanging Women before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:

The synopsis for this book is quite detailed and I did find it useful when I felt the need to refer back to it on a couple of occasions as I read the book. The story itself is quite busy in relation to the plot lines and characters. There are several subplots that are seemingly unrelated to the investigation into the hanging women.

Jack Stevens is the main character and seems to have a limitless array of friends or associates and I did really like this whiskey drinking investigator as he wandered the 1880’s streets and alleys of Chicago. Told in chapters set out day by day I found myself reading of his investigations and other “activities”as well as learning of his wife Martha. I did like this couple and their antics though I did get confused trying to remember all the other characters they meet along the way, hence the need to return to the synopsis.

The subplots take in the Pinkertons, gangs, workers movements, murder, robbery and back street deals as well as a few other things. Some of the threads I really enjoyed and though I didn’t initially understand the relevance of all of them until the author started to the individual threads together towards the end.

Once I got into the story I felt it moved along at a reasonable pace, though I was slower at the beginning until I felt I had got a grip on it. As I mentioned previously it is a very busy story with lots of things happening and I did struggle initially but I did feel that my comprehension of the book picked up as I got further into it and especially as things were being pulled together. I would recommend this to a historical crime reader who prefers a more complex multi-thread read.

About the Author:

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John was born in the mid-fifties in Dagenham, London, on part of the largest council estate ever built, and was the first pupil from his local secondary modern school to attend university. He has now taken early retirement to write, having spent the first part of his life working in education and the public sector. He was the director of a college, a senior school inspector for a local authority, and was head of a unit for young people with physical and mental health needs. When he is not travelling, going to the theatre or the pub, he writes.

His inspiration for his debut novel came whilst attending a lecture in Denver about the history of the American midwest, describing a time and place that was very different from that espoused by popular culture, which started him thinking this would make a excellent period in which to set a crime story.

His book describes how Chicago was a prototype of much that we consider both good and bad in the current age, it had a vibrancy and decadence that allowed a few enterprising individuals to prosper whilst violence and intolerance held back many others. The situation for some African Americans and women was improving but it was still a time when to be anything other than white and male made you a second class citizen.  The city was the manufacturing and transport hub of America, the vast influx of immigrants swelling its already booming population brought great wealth but also corruption and criminality. The midwest and Chicago typified a way of life, the ‘gun culture’ which is a euphemism for individualism, from which much of modern American social values have grown.

John is currently working on a trilogy of novels set in modern day London. These police procedurals examine the darker side of modern life in the East End of the city: a Whitechapel noir. 

Social Media Links – Twitter – Goodreads Author Page – Amazon Author Page

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#BookReview : A Dead American In Paris by Seth Lynch @SethALynch #SalazarMysteries @fahrenheitpress @damppebbles

A Dead American In Paris cover

I am delighted to be sharing “A Dead American In Paris” by Seth Lynch as part of the blog tour by Emma and Fahrenheit Press. My thanks to Emma for my spot on the tour and also Fahrenheit and the author for my e-copy of the book.

Synopsis:

Paris. 1931.

Arty Homebrook lived and died in a world of sleaze which stretched from Chicago to Paris but never beyond the gutter.

He’d been sleeping with Madame Fulton, which is why Harry Fulton promised to kill him. So far as the Paris Police are concerned it’s an open and shut case. Harry’s father has other ideas and hires Salazar to investigate.

As Salazar gets to grips with the case he’s dragged reluctantly into an unpleasant underworld of infidelity, blackmail, backstreet abortions and murder.

Salazar is far too inquisitive to walk away and far too stubborn to know what’s for the best. So he wakes up each hungover morning, blinks into the sunlight, and presses on until it’s his life on the line. Then he presses on some more, just for the hell of it.

My Thoughts:

The synopsis does a wonderful job of letting the reader know what they are letting themselves in for as regarding the content of the story. I do read this prior to accepting a book, but then as I read several books between accepting and actually reading I am not usually aware of what the book is about until I start to actually read it. I only read the synopsis after I have finished reading, it is at this point I can make my own decision as to whether it works or not. This is just the way I do things.

So going into this story “blind” so to speak, I was immediately drawn into the dark and atmospheric descriptions the author gives as I was plunged into 1930’s Paris with Salazar, or “Sal” as he is referred to. I was taken into the labyrinths that make up the back alleys, side streets and seedier cafe’s and living conditions. It is a dark and dangerous world as I followed Sal on his case. It looked at the political view of women and their rights, or I should say lack of rights regarding the choice of abortion at the time. I couldn’t help but think of the recent Ireland Referendum regarding this very subject and this made the timely read of this book very relevant to todays society. (Please not that I am not making a statement here only stating a relevant aspect.)

The plot itself took me a little while to get into as I was not able to just sit and read several chapters at once. For me, reading several chapters of a new book helps to cement the basics of the story. Work and other distractions kept me from reading more than a few chapters at a time initially. When I was able to sit and read a bigger chunk of the story I was then able to get a real feel for the characters, their personalities and the story itself really then opened itself up for me.

The settings and descriptions were brilliantly vivid and so atmospheric it gave me a very real sense of time and place. Sal the main character came across as a borderline alcoholic and insomniac who really does manage to put himself in the thick of it on more than one occasion as he follows slim leads and to find witnesses and clues.

This is a story that has a mean and moody backstreet feel, taking you into a world were people are only out for themselves and the money they can obtain from those less fortunate. A book that I did enjoy once I had the chance to really settle down with and immerse myself into. The author has a wonderful writing style and it appealed to me as a reader and allowed me to become lost in his literary world for a few hours.

This is a book I would recommend to readers who like a darker historical murder, crime and mystery read.

About the Author:

seth lynch

Born and brought up in the West of England, Seth has also lived in Carcassonne, Zurich and the Isle of Man.

With two daughters, his writing time is the period spent in cafés as the girls do gym, dance and drama lessons.

Seth’s Social Media:- Twitter –  Amazon Author Page – Facebook

Buy Seth Lynch’s book direct from Fahrenheit Press:

A Citizen of Nowhere (Salazar Book 1)

A Dead American in Paris (Salazar Book 2)

The Paris Ripper (Chief Inspector Belmont Book 1)

Follow the tour to see what others think

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Many thanks for reading my post, a like or a share would be amazing 🙂 xx

My Summer Reading List.

Plans for my summer reading.

As some of you may be aware I am planning on taking a break from Blog Tours over the three months of the summer as work gets crazily busy, I work in a tourist destination and this means long hours and not much time for reading. Even though this was a tough call to make it was also the best call, this way I am not letting any organisers down if I struggle to meet a schedule, also it means I am not rushing to read a book and possibly not enjoying it as much as I should.

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As well as working I do like to get out in my garden, mainly vegetables and some flowers, walking around beautiful Cornwall gardens, coastline and hidden away places. I always have a book with me and my camera.

Then there are my two dogs Billy and Buster, I couldn’t resist putting them in this post. They alert me to the postman/woman arriving so I can intercept (this translates as hides some of the books hehehe) the books that I have bought or been sent 🙂

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So I thought I would make a list of the books that are at the top of my list from my TBR, I have photo’s “woohoo” so you see my physical books and then I will mention some of the books on my kindle. I am obviously not going to be able to read all the books that I am going to list, but it will be great to look back and see how I got on.

So here they are:

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Now to those I have on my Kindle:

I have managed to buy various book series on my kindle and the vast majority are from recommendations and reviews from fellow Book Bloggers. The series I really want to read are

Angela Marsons – DI Kim Stone series. I have heard so many good things about this author and I’m really looking forward to reading this series. ( I know I will get many “about time” comments about this lol)

Barbara Copperthwaite: I was over the moon to have won a copy of “Flowers for The Dead” and it is an amazing read. I have since bought all her other books and I am desperate to read them all.

I love the covers and the sound of Bella Osbourne’s “Ottercombe Bay” series and have quite a few of these ready for the odd sunny summers day reading that I may get.

I have been collecting Karin Slaughter books and as yet have not read any, so another new to me author that I am excited to read.

I don’t know if I dare mention that I have not read any Anne Cleaves (Oh I know the shame of it), my husband loves to watch the series Vera and I must admit to following it and cannot wait to get into these and the Shetland ones.

So as you are all responsible for this rather large Kindle (1,122) and also physical books (500+) it will probably be increasing rather than decreasing, as there are some fantastic books coming out. I have a couple of questions for you…….

  1. What book/ series would you start with ?
  2. What is not on my list that should be ? ( I cannot believe I am asking this as I know I will be adding even more to my groaning TBR 🙂  )

 

Any hows, I have to go to work ( surprise, surprise) and I will catch up with you all later. Have fun and read lots

Yvonne xx

#BlogTour : The Street Orphans by Mary Wood @Authormary : #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts for “The Street Orphans” by Mary Wood as part of the blog tour. Published in eBook, paperback and audio formats. My thanks to Mary and also Kate at Pan Macmillan for my copy of this book and my spot on the tour.

Synopsis:

The Street Orphans is an emotional story set in 1850s Lancashire, from Mary Wood, the author of In Their Mother’s Footsteps and Brighter Days Ahead.

Born with a club foot in a remote village in the Pennines, Ruth is feared and ridiculed by her superstitious neighbours who see her affliction as a sign of witchcraft. When her father is killed in an accident and her family evicted from their cottage, she hopes to leave her old life behind, to start afresh in the Blackburn cotton mills. But tragedy strikes once again, setting in motion a chain of events that will unravel her family’s lives.

Their fate is in the hands of the Earl of Harrogate, and his betrothed, Lady Katrina. But more sinister is the scheming Marcia, Lady Katrina’s jealous sister. Impossible dreams beset Ruth from the moment she meets the Earl. Dreams that lead her to hope that he will save her from the terrible fate that awaits those accused of witchcraft. Dreams that one day her destiny and the Earl’s will be entwined.

My Thoughts:

Now I know of the name, have seen a few books but have never read a book by this author. Looking through her books there is definitely a theme of historical based family sagas and social history. The Street Orphans is one that falls into these categories.

The story is of Ruth, a young woman with a club foot in 1850’s Lancashire. Her disability gives cause for concern for people as she is seen as “different” and therefore cannot be trusted and quite possibly a witch. A time where superstition and stigma are attached just as quick as mud to a shoe.

I loved this book and for so many reasons. I like to be taken into a the social aspects of a story and the contrasts between the various classes is wonderful. She explains within the story how stereotypes and stigmas cause mistrust and twists perceptions. This is very evident with another character, Katerina. Her parents have a mixed background marriage and the expectations of wealthy and titled as well as untitled people have their own set of problems. Arranged marriages for financial security, business deals, social status are among some of the challenges that are set out.

I really liked the way the author has used the local dialect for some of her characters. For me this worked really well and showed an emphasis on the differences between the locals and some other characters.

As with many things then as is now, power is an all-encompassing beast. The more you have, the more you can lose. The more you have, the more you want. This is played out really well within one of the plots of the story. Even though we follow the story of Ruth there are other stories that cross and intertwine with hers.

The story takes you into a world that is tragic, heartbreaking, cruel and nasty but it is gently balanced with a heartwarming and hopeful thread. I went through quite a few emotions with this story from shock and horror at some of the treatment and opinions, heartbreaking moments as things for the characters changed and the consequences that followed.

As I mentioned earlier, this is my first experience with this author and if this book is anything to go by i will be reading more. I would have quite happily sat and read tis book in a day if I had started it earlier, as it was I read it over two evenings. It was a story that caught me right from its shocking start and kept my attention throughout.

It is an amazing story with some wonderful characters and fantastic dialogue and setting descriptions. The plot took me through the highs, lows and some of the characters I loved some I loathed as I was transported back to the Victorian era of Lancashire. This author knows how to write a good story and I would highly recommend this book for readers of historical fiction, historical romance, social history,

About the Author:

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Born in Maidstone, Kent, in 1945, the thirteenth child of fifteen children, Mary’s family settled in Leicestershire after the war ended.

Mary married young and now, after 54 years of happy marriage, four children, 12 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren, Mary and her husband live in Blackpool during the summer and Spain during the winter – a place that Mary calls, ‘her writing retreat’.

After many jobs from cleaning to catering, all chosen to fit in with bringing up her family, and boost the family money-pot, Mary ended her 9 – 5 working days as a Probation Service Officer, a job that showed her another side to life, and which influences her writing, bringing a realism and grittiness to her novels

Mary first put pen to paper, in 1989, but it wasn’t until 2010 that she finally found some success by self-publishing on kindle.

Being spotted by an editor at Pan Macmillan in 2013, finally saw Mary reach her publishing dream.

When not writing, Mary enjoys family time, reading, eating out, and gardening.

Follow Mary on – Website – Twitter

GIVEAWAY ALERT ……Mary is running a giveaway and will offer a signed copy of the book to be drawn from those leaving a comment on the site.

Disclaimer: I am not involved in any way with this giveaway. The author will contact any winners directly. Any responsibility for the prize lies with the author.

See what other Book Bloggers think by following the tour

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Many thanks for reading my post, a like or a share would be great 🙂 xx

#BookReview : Wildcat by JP Harker @JP_Harker

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Today I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on “Wildcat” by JP Harker. This is available in paperback and eBook format from Amazon UK and is the first in The Caledon Saga.

Synopsis:

Rhianwyn of the Caderyn is conflicted about giving up a warrior’s life to become a wife and mother, but her love for her new husband is enough to at least make her consider it. However, with the conquering Gaians moving ever closer to her homeland a peaceful life may no longer be an option, for Rhia or for any of her people. With rival tribes, old suitors, and the dangerous General Lepidus to contend with, Rhia soon finds her new family in unprecedented danger, and her choices now must be about more than just herself… 

Wildcat takes place in a fantasy land inspired by Iron Age Britain and follows Rhianwyn’s story as she encounters a civilisation unlike any she could imagine, and is constantly forced to learn and adapt through trial after deadly trial.

My Thoughts:

Rhianwyn (Rhia) is a woman you really do not want to mess with. She, like other women, is a  warrior of the Caderyn, women fight beside the men and are just a ferocious and deadly. As with all things, nothing stays the same. Change is on the way as the Gaians gradually take over land and the people. A truce between the Calderyn and the Gaians is formed with Rhia and her sister Gwen starting a new life to keep the peace.

This is an absolute cracker of a read and the author has created a story that is heavy in elements of Iron Age Britain. The references and general feeling of the story show the authors obvious interest for the period and at times I forgot this was actually a fantasy read. When the tribes are conquered there you understand who by as the references to them of their lifestyle, training and language is apparent. The fight for power and control took me through underhand politics and battles as the story was laid out.

The plot evolves around Rhia and her life and her roles within a tribe and also as part of the conquers family. I really liked the way the author had done this as it showed a contrast between two cultures through one set of eyes. I was able to see different traditions, rituals and lifestyles while following Rhia’s journey. It shows several sides to her as a person and I loved the way she had evolved from the first meeting to years later.

The descriptive passages of the surroundings, people and their lifestyle I really enjoyed, there was plenty to build up a vivid image but without going over the top. The author has balanced it well within the story so as not to disrupt the flow of the story. It is a story that spans several years and you get to meet a great many characters especially at the beginning, but the time span allows the other characters to be gradually introduced.

Now this is a fair old lump of a book, it is 500+ pages long and I devoured it in two evenings and was thoroughly caught up in it. I liked the historical feel to it and as I mentioned before, forgot that it is a fantasy based read with a historical inspiration. It is one I would say is an Epic Fantasy rather than a series as it has a great depth of  plot and characters.

This is a book I would recommend to readers who like stories with elements Historical Fiction as well as fantasy. It is a book I completely lost myself in for several hours as it took me through a few emotions, especially towards the end. A series that I will definitely be reading more of and I would highly recommend this book to other readers.

About the Author:

JP Harker is the pen-name of James Thomas, an obsessive martial artist and history fanatic. A proud Welshman with just enough Saxon in him to make things interesting, James hails from glamorous Glamorgan, Old South Wales.

You can find JP Harker on Twitter  and his Website.

 

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx