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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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 : 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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#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.

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#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

#BookReview : Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson translated by Maxim Jacubowski @JoGustawsson : @OrendaBooks

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Today I have my thoughts on “Block 46” by Johana Gustawsson and translated by Maxim Jacubowski. Published by Orenda Books and available in various formats from Amazon Uk and other book sellers.

Synopsis:

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina. Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light. Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir. 

WINNER: Nouvelle Plume D’Argent 2016 
For fans of The Missing, Dominique Manotti, Camilla Lackberg, Stieg Larsson

My Thoughts:

The body of Linnéa Blix is found in Falkberg, Sweden the wounds are similar to the body of a young boy found in London. Are the two connected, if so how? Running within this stroy is that of a Prisoner of War from the Buchenwald Concentration Camp his story runs from arriving at the camp through the years of his life. It will take the on loan Canadian Royal Mounted Police Profiler Emily Roy to try and find the pieces to this intense puzzle with French True Crime Writer Alexis Castells.

First of all, if you have not read this book then you need to take yourself off right this moment and get a copy.  If you have read this book, then why the hell didn’t you demand I read it?  This book has a time slip element to it and the author has done such a fantastic job bring the past up to date within this deeply tense, suspense filled thriller.

So what to say about this book without giving anything away? The depth of the plot is as creative as it is chilling, as the author relates and weaves several stories together in quick snappy chapters.  It is told from the perspective of key characters to give different opinions and viewpoints giving the reader a much bigger picture. The descriptions of the camp conditions and practices are detailed enough to allow the evil nature of the place and of some people to be felt.  But the way the author has dealt with this topic has been done with sensitivity and respect.

As I said earlier there are several story lines and they are gradually and expertly drawn together, adding more suspense, intrigue and intensity as she brings you closer to the end. The end was jaw dropping, unexpected and to use a cliche “I really did not see that one coming”, or in fact the next one… absolutely knocked me sideways.

I am going to share few lines from the first page of this book and I hope you can see why I was immediately hooked :

“He picks up his spade, gathers earth and spreads it out in the hole. A single shovelful and the legs are already covered; all that sticks out are the toes. Toes as smooth as pebbles, as cold as ice, that make him want to touch them with the tips of his fingers.”

So if you are a reader who likes suspense, crime, thriller, mystery reads that are hard hitting, strongly written, totally absorbing, addictive, brutal, outstanding read then you MUST READ this book.

About the Author:

Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.

Follow Johana on :  Twitter ~ or Website

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#BookReview | Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce @ajpearcewrites| @panmacmillan #NetGalley

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I have the delightfully spiffing “Dear Mrs Bird” by AJ Pearce to share with you today.  Published by Pan Macmillan and available in various formats from 5th April 2018 you can purchase a copy from Amazon UK.

Synopsis:

London, 1941. Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance – but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman’s Friend magazine. Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. But as Emmy reads the desperate pleas from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong man, or can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back . . . Irresistibly funny and enormously moving, Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce is a love letter to the enduring power of friendship, the kindness of strangers and the courage of ordinary people in extraordinary times.

My Thoughts:

Emmy soon realises that the job she has just accepted is not quite what she thought it would be.  Rather than becoming part of a journalistic team investigating and helping reporters, she is a junior for a problem page at Woman’s Friend magazine.  She is responsible for sifting through the letters looking for help and advice, sounds great but in actual fact there are certain things that Mrs Henrietta Bird will not have on her column. I say certain things but it turns out that most things will not appear in her column.

This is such a great read, set in London during the blitz.  It has all the elements you would expect rationing, shortages of everyday items, sadness of loved ones away from home, despair when they do not return. The letters that are written to the magazine give a more personal feel to those women who are left at home possibly for the first time.  This is a great way of giving a sense of time and place, it has a real feel of the time with references to clothing, films, music and obviously the war.

A lighter side is added to this with the antics of Emmy and how she decides to take things into her own hands. It has an almost chick lit feel to it and I thought it balanced the harrowing experiences people experienced as the war raged around them. It does have a great deal of emotion in it as you read the letters that have been sent in and also as you follow the characters through the story.

This is a great read that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Once I started it I could not put it down.  This is a book that I think would appeal to readers of lighter historical WWII fiction and definitely from a female perspective and thought it was a well-balanced book.  This is a book that I would highly recommend. I also think this would be a great Book Club read, there are many things that would make some great discussion points.

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

#GuestPost | Outremer by D.N Carter @gilbster1000 @AuthorightUKPR @Authoright #SpringReads #BlogTour

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I had the pleasure of reading “Outremer” by D.N Carter last year and was absolutely stunned by the amount of historical references in this tome of a book, the first in a planned four part series.  When the opportunity to take part in Authoright’s Spring Reads Event arrived I knew exactly what I wanted; more information about the research that went into the book, and also about the £10,000 prize for anyone than can crack the code in the book. In this post you will discover, amongst other things, how a lifetime of research lead the author underestimated the word count, from 140,000 to 1,247,000…… yes you really did read that right!  It is a real eye opener.

You can  Purchase fromAmazon UK.

Firstly the Synopsis:

Who Controls The Past Controls The Future

 An epic love story must overcome religious divide and a plot to eradicate two blood lines, as the Crusades and the search for the ancient mysteries of the Holy Grail gather momentum.

Raised by his father in La Rochelle, France, Paul Plantavalu is known for his artistic nature, inquisitive mind and Christian faith. He also has an unshakable love for his Muslim childhood friend, Alisha al Komaty. Courageous and outspoken, she returns Paul’s love. But their path is paved with obstacles; religion, war, political chaos and a mysterious enemy determined to destroy their family lines.

Sometime between 1110 AD and 1120 AD in the aftermath of the first crusade, a small band of nine knights — the founding knights Templar — recover ancient precious artefacts left by a former, advanced civilisation, beneath the City of Jerusalem. Ruthlessly guarded, the secrets revealed by this discovery are highly prized by powerful and dangerous forces far and wide; the repercussions of their capture are inextricably linked to Paul and Alisha. As Paul starts to experience dark and vivid dreams and the fragile balance of peace starts to crumble, it will fall to an enigmatic man known as Kratos and his female warrior protégée Abi Shadana, to safeguard Paul and Alisha.

Paul and Alisha’s love story weaves between the threads of our reality and other realms — from the Druids to the Sufi mystics, the Magi of the East, the secret political arm of the Knights Templar and the Isma’ilis, the Assassins. Knights and pilgrims alike will witness some of the darkest battles ever fought. The discovery of a unique sword’s lethal power and whispered connections to King Arthur and the Holy Grail lead Paul and Alisha to question if their lives ever be the same again.

The first of a four-part series, Outremer is an historical epic, which sweeps across England, Scotland and France, to Syria, Jerusalem and Egypt. Discover the truth — and crack the ancient code — behind the great mysteries of the High Middle Ages for yourself.

 

Get comfortable for this amazing post about the research and the prize:

    It has taken me since I was a young child to accumulate the research behind Outremer…and I am still learning more even now in my fifties. My main reason for writing Outremer was, and remains, to share and impart what appears to be highly advanced knowledge from our distant past that is provable and irrefutable, yet suppressed or deliberately ignored by so-called main stream academia. It all started after reading Chretien de Troyes Grail romances, plus my love of castles and ancient ruins…my original inspiration. I hope to provoke readers to think and start upon a path of their own research and not just accept my words, but to challenge all that I write, to seek for themselves answers and either refute or verify what I claim.

I can state with all clarity the first time I sat down and wrote the title and saved it as a word document was back in 2005. Almost a year later I penned the basic story time line together…175 pages! I knew it was going to be a massive undertaking but vowed I would finish. The research took the most time to ensure accuracy. From the smallest detail of clothing to major historical facts, to religious doctrine and philosophies, and only then, when I felt confident enough, did I commit to writing full time. In early 2014 I finally began to flesh out the original story time line. It soon became apparent my idea of penning a 140,000 word book was woeful wishful thinking and grossly underestimated the extent and volume of material I was trying to convey. 1,247,000 words later I typed ‘The End’ in December 2015. Now the hard work would begin I was then informed with editing and proofing etc and splitting the manuscript into four major volumes.

I wanted to share the knowledge of the ancients and their codes, as I believe I have understood them, in an engaging and enjoyable format, especially as they still have profound consequences for all of us. I have included a new one using those codes that readers may wish to work upon. If they crack it, it will lead to a location and an item. There are also exoteric and esoteric messages that run throughout the manuscript. To some they will be obvious whilst missed by others unfamiliar with the symbolism at first; however they will discover and understand as the information slowly reveals itself. It is possible to crack the code from book 1 alone. I have learnt that all three of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) all carry within their respective Holy Books, a genuine and provable mathematical code…and they are the same code. As the famous scientist Stephen Hawkins once said, “If God is real, he is maths”. It shows that there is a higher knowledge behind their origins. Whoever breaks my code will win £10,000. The code can also be reversed to reveal the location of a genuine and far greater treasure and that is why I put up the prize to get people to look a little closer than perhaps they would have.

I have adhered as near as possible to historical truth whilst conveying a new perspective on our history in a verifiable format that not only educates the reader, but hopefully inspires too. ‘Your beliefs do not make you a free thinker…the ability to change your beliefs based upon new information does’ I was told when living in Cyprus, and so I strive to seek out new information; consequently I discovered many new things…far too many to include here but all comprehensively covered within Outremer. Some of the simpler facts that surprised me however were learning that King Richard the Lion heart could not speak English…his first language being French, and the name Jesus was not even generally known by that name in the Middle Ages, but as Iesus.

Outremer is based upon real people who lived during the tumultuous period of the 12th century, and few people nowadays appreciate the massive implications of events then that still impact upon us today. This was the perfect period platform to express the many levels of love, from the total and unselfish love for another, to unrequited love, jealousy, betrayals and forgiveness. But this period was also when items were recovered by the original founding Knights Templar that would ultimately lead to the rediscovery of practices and technologies that had an immediate impact, especially upon the design and construction of great cathedrals, but also leaps in other areas not so obvious that led to the explosion of what became known as the Renaissance starting in Florence.

This was when the first Grail romances about chivalry were being penned. Geoffrey of Monmouth, writing around 1130 with ‘History of the Kings of Britain’, introduced the first literary creation of the character, King Arthur and the idea of courtly love, but it was Chretien de Troyes who built and expanded on this creating Camelot, Lancelot and the Holy Grail. All my research pointed to this as being the period when a great revelation of esoteric and exoteric codes started…and the perfect backdrop to set a love story that is enmeshed with those very same codes of antiquity. I have always had an affinity to this period, especially the secret and mysterious Knights Templar, their clothing and equipment plus a deep fascination with ruins, mainly castles. It began when I was nine years of age. I went to Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire on a school trip. I loved the architecture and the feeling of spiritual peace that I sensed there. That trip revealed I had a natural talent for drawing architectural scenes. I visited many castles and ruins and my fascination simply grew from there. As a youth I was lucky enough to travel to several major castles in Cyprus, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. The beauty, scale and history of them utterly captivated me…but gave me a sense of sadness too for all the carnage of war that was visited upon them and their occupants. Consequently I asked myself, why, why would people fight wars of such unbelievable brutality? That question was rammed home after learning how the Christian Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099 AD and massacred all of its 70,000 inhabitants regardless of religion. I seriously questioned the real motives for the first Crusade with a deep sense there was far more than we are taught.

I still love ruins…an almost naive romantic notion of great Knights on quests that stirs within me whenever I see a castle, or even just a small part of an ancient wall, but the reality of castles is one of war and likewise those warrior monks, the Knights Templar. They projected a mystique I wanted to know all about, especially if they were somehow true guardians of what is known as the Holy Grail. How could monks be warriors too…it was a contradiction? I learned that Knights Templar swore to protect an original spirituality belief system, which is the basis for all religions, dedicated to supporting established Churches of all denominations and religious Orders and of other traditions…including Islam. It is knowledge and an understanding all people should have the opportunity to be shown.

The main thing I have personally learned, is that we, mankind as a whole, are all connected, we are inherently good, not bad and we are all spiritual beings and religion is simply a vehicle that has been used to convey a higher message across time as well as moral codes and words of hope and comfort…plus a message we are now only truly beginning to recognise for what it is. And that love, as airy fairy, corny or as some argue naive as that may sound, is the key…and true education I believe is when you are shown something, but not told how to see it. So we have a choice for we effect the very environment we live in and the world as a whole.

Being of a spiritual nature, I have read and studied as much as I could on every religious order and doctrine I could find. One aspect I always suspected was not somehow real was the so-called apocalypse. I could never understand how and why a God, who supposedly created us, would destroy us. I learnt that Apocalypse means to ‘unveil’ or to ‘reveal’ meaning ‘un-covering’, translated literally from Greek meaning ‘disclosure of knowledge’, a lifting of the veil or revelation …not destroy, nor the end of the world etc. So what else within scripture was not explained properly I wondered? Also what was contained within the fourteen books removed from the Bible and why were they removed. To learn why meant delving back to the late 1100’s, a period that shaped the geopolitical maps of both Europe and the Middle East, which in turn shaped the relations between Christian and Muslim countries to this day, with repercussions that still echo to the present. That is why, in my opinion, it is so essential to fully grasp and understand the true realities of that era that led to Christian and Muslim ideologies being so diametrically opposed …but how some today, knowing how to manipulate those facts to suit their own particular agendas, can effectively control the future by controlling our understanding of the past; hence the sub title ‘Who controls the past, controls the future’.

Follow on:  Outremer Website  ~    Outremer on Facebook

Yvonne: Oh my goodness, if this does not show the dedication I really don’t know what does. I am no where close to discovering the secret of the code.  But I do know is that this book is an epic read, full of so many facts and historical content.  The following books in this series are already on my “must buy when then are published list”.

About the Author:

About the author: After strange and vivid experiences whilst living in Cyprus as a child, author D N Carter has been fascinated by the history, myths and legends of the Middle Ages and mankind’s past. As he got older travels to Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, the Languedoc region of France and the deserts of Arabia fuelled his enthusiasm. While not decoding maps and mathematical codes D N Carter enjoys adventure sports from parachuting to microlight flying. Today he divides his time between East Anglia in the UK and the south of France with his family.

Check out the other books and bloggers on the Spring Reads 2018 Blog Tour

Spring Reads 2018

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

 

#GuestPost : The Invisible Hand by James Hartley @jameshartleybks @rararesources #TheInvisibleHand #Giveaway

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Today I have a wonderful Guest Post by James Hartley, author of The Invisible Hand : Shakespeare’s Moon – Act One.  James explains how books, especially those by Paul Theroux helped him.  Purchase from – Amazon UK ~ Amazon.com

Synopsis:

The Invisible Hand is about a boy, Sam, who has just started life at a boarding school and finds himself able to travel back in time to medieval Scotland. There he meets a girl, Leana, who can travel to the future, and the two of them become wrapped up in events in Macbeth, the Shakespeare play, and in the daily life of the school. The book is the first part of a series called Shakespeare´s Moon. Each book is set in the same boarding school but focuses on a different Shakespeare play.

Guest Post by James Hartley:

When books are your best friends

I was ill recently. Not anything life-threatening, but enough to put me down and keep me there, to change my world and leave me out of everyone else’s.

Stuck in the house, alone, immobile, I felt as though I were living a parallel existence to my neighbours and the rest of the world. My usual routine made no sense and was largely impossible. I wondered how everyone else could carry on, laughing and running about, when I was aching and felt so useless. As usual when I became ill, I could’t believe how much I´d taken my good health for granted and vowed to do a million things when I got better and never be lazy again.

Unable to sleep or concentrate on films or television, I reached for the books I´d been reading up to then and rejected them: no, they were for when I was well. Some other person had been reading those books, not me. Now I needed something different. Some comfort reading, perhaps, but not necessarily an easy read. Just a dependable one. An old friend.

Looking about the house, I spied Paul Theroux´s book about travelling the coast of the Mediterranean, The Pillars of Hercules, up on a top shelf in the living room, and thought: Yes, that´s what I want. What I need. I have all of Theroux´s travel books huddled together at home, close at hand; battered old copies which have criss-crossed the world and relationships with me.

I don´t know what it is about these books, why they comfort me in dark times, but I think it has something to do with the time I suffered a shocking bereavement, over ten years ago now. Someone very close to me had left the house in the morning and had never come home. It was an accident, they said, but that´s no comfort. There are no answers in accidents, only chaos and misery.

Nobody could console me then, no words or drink or actions, and I really don´t know how I even managed to start reading. Perhaps it was an escape from the tears and reality. Back then it was The Happy Isles of Oceana, by Theroux, and I still have the copy I dived into all those years back. That book got me through a vile time. It somehow managed that odd trick books have, like sleep, shock or love, of playing with time, of taking me out of myself, away from my real life, to bathe in a kind of collective sea of imagination which replenished me and gave me a breather and made me come back stronger.

I always feel the need to keep these books close to me after periods in my life like this. They are like mementos, gateways to times past, reminding me of where I’ve been, where I come from. They are good, old friends, always the same and always different each time we meet.

Now, getting better, I salute those old friends, gathering dust, looking down upon me from that top shelf, and I remember why they are they´re there. They´re there because, like me, they have survived and come through.

The trick is to never take them, your health or your life for granted.

I hope you are now on the road to recovery James.  Personally I find books to be a great friend when not feeling well, they can help lift your spirits and have no expectations.  Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts today, and I wish you all the very best.  Yvonne xx

About the Author:

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James was born on the Wirral, England, in 1973 on a rainy Thursday. He shares his birthday with Bono, Sid Vicious and two even nastier pieces of work, John Wilkes Booth and Mark David Chapman.

His mother was a hairdresser with her own business and his father worked in a local refinery which pours filth into the sky over the Mersey to this day. They married young and James was their first child. He has two younger brothers and a still-expanding family in the area. As an Everton fan he suffered years of Liverpool success throughout the seventies and was thrilled when his father took a job in Singapore and the family moved lock, stock and two smoking barrels to Asia.

He spent five fine years growing up in the city state before returning to the rain, storms, comprehensive schools and desolate beauty of the Scottish east coast. Later years took he and his family to baking hot Muscat, in Oman, and a Syria that has since been bombed off the surface of the planet.

James studied journalism in London and later travelled through Ireland, France, Germany and India generally having a good time, before finally settling in Madrid, Spain, where he now lives with his wife and two children.

Social Media Links – ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Website

Giveaway *Win 5 x Signed copies of The Invisible Hand with special Invisible Hand tactile pens (Open Internationally)

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*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.

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