Posted in Animal Friends, Blog Tour, Book Review, Childrens Books, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Magic

Kim, Leon, and the Sky Path to Africa Barnaby Allen 4*#Review @leeawrites #KimLeon #SkyPathToAfrica #EasyRead #ESL #KidLit #ChildrensBooks #historical #Adventure #Fantasy @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours #AnimalFiction

#KimLeonandTheSkyPathtoAfrica

Kim and Leon live on a farm in Suffolk, England. Kim is a schoolboy and Leon is his pet donkey. A rainy day encounter leads them on an adventure far away in Africa. Along the way there are dangers, and fears about who can be trusted. There is also the threatening presence of a slave ship, looming in the bay. Barnaby Allen was a teacher of English and history. In this historical fantasy, he beautifully combines suspense with an immersion in history. This book comes with tasks of writing, acting and drawing. This is a simplified version of the original book. It suits especially ESL pupils.

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#RandomThingsTours

I received a copy of this book from Random Things Tours in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I like the writing style of this children’s adventure story. Resembling poetic verse, it is easy to read and presents the story in a reader-friendly format.

The early part of the story, set in rural Suffolk has a traditional feel. It reads as if it was set in a pre-internet age, or even earlier. That would also explain some of the expressions, which are not twenty-first-century politically correct.

The main historical part of the story set in Africa reflects on the slave trade. This is an unusual choice for a children’s book, and parents and teachers should be prepared for children’s questions. The adventure element is charming and the detailed information about life in Africa at that time is interesting to adults too.

Kim goes on a character journey in this story, as much as a fantasy, geographical one. Learning about a different culture, and historic events change his perspective. Leon is a magical donkey, who provides Kim with his opportunity for adventure. His outward gruffness hides a wealth of intelligence and kindness and makes him a wonderful role model for Kim and the book’s readers.

The interactive quality of the book is excellent. The tasks make the children think about what they have heard or read and reinforce elements of the story.

A worthwhile reading book for the children and adults, which is rich in cultural and historical details, but delivered in an exciting, magical way.

#BackCover
#BarnabyAllen

Barnaby Allen was born in Suva Fiji, as his father was working there for the British Crown.  He was introduced to literature by his mother, who liked to recite poetry and had a gift of telling engaging stories. As an adult, Barnaby Allen worked in education in several countries mostly teaching English. He loved to travel, classical music, discussions, current affairs, Pacific affairs, family, good food and board games. Barnaby’s children also had the benefit of Barnaby telling stories to them and making the characters come alive with acting out different roles.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

The Raided Heart Jennifer C.Wilson 4*#Review @inkjunkie1984 @OcelotPress @rararesources #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #PublicationDay #BlogTour #histfic #HistoricHearts

#TheRaidedHeart

Meg Mathers, the headstrong youngest sibling of a reiving family on the English-Scottish border, is determined to remain at her childhood home, caring for the land and village she’s grown up with. When an accident brings her a broken ankle and six weeks in the resentful company of ambitious and angry young reiver Will Hetherington, attraction starts to build. Both begin to realise they might have met their match and the love of their lives, but 15th-century border living is not that simple, as Meg soon finds herself betrothed to the weakling son of a tyrannical neighbour, Alexander Gray. When tragedy strikes, can Meg and Will find their way back to each other, and can Will finally take his own personal revenge on Gray?

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#TheRaidedHeart

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Forbidden love in a dangerous place and time.

Meg is a young woman living with her family on the borders of England and Scotland in the fifteenth century. The historical detail in this story is absorbing and well researched, the writing is immersive and you experience life during this turbulent period of British history with the characters.

Circumstances bring Meg into close connect with Will when she suffers an injury. Passion, of a youthful kind, ignites between the two young people, even though they realise they cannot be together. The forbidden romance is gentle and shows how the two come of age in this dangerous time.

Meg is a courageous woman, who understands her position in society, and is willing to sacrifice her happiness to ensure the safety of her family. Her love for Will is strong and something she cannot deny. Will has nothing material to offer Meg, and he knows that her family would never allow them to marry. He fights his attraction, but youthful passion makes common sense a distant memory.

Suspense and menace increase with the story’s progress. Will Meg survive her fate? Exciting, passionate, and ultimately the ending keeps the spirit of true love alive.

If you enjoy experiencing turbulent historical events, with strong characters, and the taste of forbidden love this adventure is for you.

Jennifer C. Wilson

Jennifer C. Wilson is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history and historical fiction whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots on childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east of England for work reignited her pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition and has been working on a number of projects since, including co-hosting the North Tyneside Writers’ Circle. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and her time-slip novella, The Last Plantagenet?, by Ocelot Press. She lives in North Tyneside and is very proud of her approximately 2-inch sea view.

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Giveaway to Win 2 x e-copies of The Last Plantagenet? (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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Saga

The Rector’s Daughter Jean Fullerton 5* #Review @CorvusBooks @JeanFullerton_ @rararesources #BlogTour #PublicationDay #HistoricalFiction #RomanticSaga #RegencyLondon #1825 #Engineering #FamilyDrama #Poverty

#TheRectorsDaughter

Charlotte, daughter of Reverend Percival Hatton, has been content to follow the path laid out for her. Charlotte has an understanding with Captain Nicolas Paget – every inch the gentleman – who she expects someday to marry. But then she meets Josiah Martyn and everything changes…

A driven and ambitious Cornish mining engineer, and the complete opposite to Captain Nicholas, Josiah has come to London to help build the first tunnel under the river Thames. When unpredictable events occur at the inauguration of the project, Josiah and Charlotte are suddenly thrown into an unexpected intimacy.

 But not everyone is happy with Charlotte and Josiah growing closer. As friends turn to foes, will they be able to rewrite the stars and find their happy ever after, although all odds seem to be stacked against them…?

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I received a copy of this book from the author and Corvus Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Set in 1825, this romantic family saga explores the engineering feat of building the first underwater tunnel in London, by Brunel. The vision of this late Regency event comes across well in this story, but so does the human cost, of such a dangerous undertaking.

Charlotte is the Rector’s daughter, who since her mother’s untimely death has fulfilled the parish duties expected of a Rector’s wife. She is compassionate, clever and courageous, and does what she can to help the parish’s poor and unfortunate. The Rector is judgemental about his poorer parishioners. He is the antithesis of his daughter and prepared to put his material needs above his pastoral duties.

Charlotte meets Josiah, an engineer working for Brunel on the tunnel when he averts a near-tragic accident for her. The attraction although immediate and powerful builds through friendship when they meet on many occasions, through Charlotte’s parish duties and mutual acquaintances. Their romance appears ill-fated, when her father’s desire to maintain his reputation overrides the needs and wishes of his daughter, leading to an angst-ridden emotional climax to this story.

The historical background is well researched and written in a vivid real-time way that allows the reader to experience some of the events of the era. The characters are complex. Many are disagreeable but add to the story. All act in a way that fits with this exciting historical period. The social class divide is marked, but the evidence of change that the future Victorian era witnessed is seen here.

An absorbing plot, with vividly written characters, historical events, and a believable but utterly romantic love story, makes this the perfect book to curl up with on a cold winter’s afternoon.

#JeanFullerton

Jean Fullerton is the author of thirteen novels all set in East London where she was born. She also a retired district nurse and university lecturer.  She won the Harry Bowling Prize in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is halfway through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.

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#TheRectorsDaughter
Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Family Drama, Festive Read, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Mystery, Saga

Christmas at Pennington’s Rachel Brimble 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books @RachelBrimble #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #Saga #Mystery #BlogTour @rararesources #BookReview #Festive #Christmas1911

#ChristmasatPenningtons

Gripping drama as Pennington’s department store prepares for a glittering Christmas in 1911, but a killer stalks the women of Bath.

Christmas sees Pennington’s at its most glorious, thronged with shoppers, its grand staircase and balcony adorned with holly, mistletoe, tinsel and lights. It should be the happiest time, but dramas are seething beneath the surface.

For Cornelia Culford, in charge of jewellery, a divorce hearing looms, where she could lose custody of her young sons to her overbearing and unfaithful husband.

For Stephen Gower, being head of security at Pennington’s is the perfect refuge from a tragic past at Scotland Yard. But soon the past will call him back, as Joseph Carter and Elizabeth Pennington beg him to help solve the murder of Joseph’s first wife, now that it seems as if the killer has struck again.

For Joseph and Elizabeth, their marriage depends on exorcising the past. But can it ever be laid to rest?

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#ChristmasatPenningtons #BlogTour

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is my first trip to Pennington’s and what a delight it is. Set in historic Bath, this historical romantic saga, with a mystery to solve, is full of contrasts. The glamour, and tasteful glitz of the elegant department store, in contrast to darkness enveloping Bath as a murderer, add their menacing presence.

This is the third book in the Pennington’s historical saga but reads well as a standalone. However, the writing, style, the author’s attention to detail and the vividly portrayed characters make me want to read the first two book in the series too.

There are a number of stories in this book. The lead story features Cornelia and Stephen, both employees of the illustrious store. Cornelia is facing an acrimonious divorce hearing from her abusive and adulterous husband. She is the sole carer for her two children and fears he may use this against her to gain full custody. She has information that may help her case, but is she prepared for the damage it may do to her and her offspring?

Stephen is a policeman from Scotland Yard with a tragic past. As head of security, he hopes this simpler role will give him time to heal and decide how to move on with his life, which is blighted by guilt. However, a murder and a connection to a past cold case draws him in and forces him to face his demons. He finds an ally in Cornelia, and a willing partner as they try to solve the mystery of their employer’s first wife.

An absorbing family drama, with a beautifully described historical setting. Lies, secrets, fear and mystery lie beneath the Christmas glamour and glitz, and a lovely romance fights for life in the midst of all the drama.

Christmas at Pennington’s has something for everyone, drama, love, mystery and romance in a year of social and political change.

#RachelBrimble

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018, A Rebel At Pennington’s February 2019 and Christmas At Pennington’s September 2019.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America and has thousands of social media followers all over the world. To sign up for her quarterly and new release newsletter, click here to go to her website: https://rachelbrimble.com/

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Giveaway to Win a £15 Amazon Gift Card (UK Only)

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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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Posted in Book Review, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Leaves John Simmons 4*#Review @JNSim @UrbaneBooks #LoveBooksTours #LiteraryFiction #UrbanFiction #1970 #HistoricalFiction #London #Community

#Leaves

Ophelia Street, 1970. A street like any other, a community that lives and breathes together as people struggle with their commitments and pursue their dreams. It is a world we recognise, a world where class and gender divide, where set roles are acknowledged. But what happens when individuals step outside those roles, when they secretly covet, express desire, pursue ambitions even harm and destroy? An observer in the midst of Ophelia Street watches writes, imagines, remembers, charting the lives and loves of his neighbours over the course of four seasons. And we see the flimsily disguised underbelly of urban life revealed in all its challenging glory. As the leaves turn from vibrant green to vivid gold, so lives turn and change too, laying bare the truth of the community. Perhaps, ultimately, we all exist on Ophelia Street.  

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#Leaves #BlogTour

I received a copy of this book from Urbane Books in return for an honest review.

#Leaves

My Thoughts…

Set mainly in 1970, in London, on a typical cul-de-sac, of the time. The story’s narrator is a young reporter, who is new to Ophelia Street, and the story, divided into the four seasons of 1970 are his impressions of the people and households he shares the street with. The narrator is a shadowy character, you don’t think about him, as the story draws you into its urban tale.

The book is beautifully written, lyrical, but what it depicts and explores is often poignant, and sometimes horrifically violent. The tragedy and violence creep up. You are not prepared for something so terrible, in amongst live’s relentless ordinariness. The impact of these events resonates.

Many of the characters are not easy to like, but you do empathise with their situation. Some of the relationships are strange, and sometimes sinister, and gut-wrenchingly sad.

The time period is faithfully represented. The sexual discrimination, misogyny and social class divide are evident. The depth of despair this period represents, with its collapse of Britain’s industrialisation, strikes and mass unemployment, add to the sense of hopelessness and inevitability this London street represents.

The literary fiction lovers will appreciate the purity of this book, the characters are complex and real, the exploration of community and humanity under pressure is engaging. If you enjoy reading, to experience how others feel and live, this book will meet your needs.

John Simmons
Image Credit:
Stuart Keegan, Bloomsbury Festival

John Simmons is an independent writer and consultant. He runs Writing for design workshops for D&AD and the School of Life as well as Dark Angels workshops. He has written a number of books on the relationship between language and identity, including The Writer’s Trilogy We, me, them & it, The invisible grail and Dark angels. He’s a founder director of 26, the not-for-profit group that champions the cause of better language in business, and has been writer-in-residence for Unilever and Kings Cross tube station. In 2011 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Falmouth in recognition of outstanding contribution to the creative sector. He initiated and participated in the writing of a Dark Angels collective novel Keeping Mum with fifteen writers. It was published by Unbound in 2014. He is on the Campaign Council for Writers Centre Norwich as Norwich becomes the first English City of Literature. John also wrote the compelling novel Leaves, which was published by Urbane in 2015

Spanish Crossings was published in March 2018 and The Good Messenger in September 2018.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Excerpt, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Archimimus Clio Gray #Extract @UrbaneBooks @ClioGray #LoveBooksTours #HistoricalMystery #HistoricalFiction

#Archimimus

The stunning new historical thriller from Clio Gray, the acclaimed author of the Scottish Mysteries series.

Lukitt Bachmann is waiting in his Lanterne de Mortes, a Tower of the Dead, in the middle of a cemetery.

He’s had a complicated life: son of a Herrnhuter Brother thrown out of his sect; help-meet to a pastor; sailor; fisherman; boar-hunter; and student and lecturer, exploring the varied histories of the Knights Teutonic and the bone-chapels their descendants left behind them.

He has become an assassin and a murderer learned the terrible highs and lows of friendships made and lost and is awaiting now his last remaining friend to set him free so he can put right past wrongs.

As Lukitt is let loose on a world gone mad, can this avenging angel finally find solace for his soul?  

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Excerpt From Archimimus – Clio Gray

Preface

v

I’m sitting atop the Lanterne des Mortes in some Alsatian hole but here, in Sansonnet-St-Genès, lives my only friend. I’m crouched below the casement window, knees to chest, hands beneath armpits; the fire in the old upturned bell is burning, but still there’s frost on the walls, breath billowing like early morning mist. It’s high up here, thirty feet above the cemetery; the tower cylindrical and hollow, spiral staircase of stones protruding from its inner wall. It’s All Souls Eve, hence the bowl-fire, a Lux Perpetua leading the villagers from their mean houses as they hum the hymn of the Dies Irae, packets of bread clutched beneath their jackets, along with small flasks of oil and wine. They reach the cemetery surrounding the Lanterne des Mortes, begin tidying plots and graves, scrubbing down crosses and angels, pruning corpse-shrubs, straightening portraits hanging from rusting chains, poking mildew and lichen from roughly sculpted names and dates. They leave their gifts of bread, oil and wine; stick candles to the stones with warm-dripped wax: teetering will – o’- wisps in the darkness.

The priest arrives and intones the rite of Mass, everyone kneeling in the frost: old hips creaking, bunions aching, fingers clutched about each other turning white. Mass soon done – two more to perform the following day – everyone back home soon as they can decently go.

Only a few more hours now. Only a few more hours.

Lukitt Habakkuk Bachmann in his tower, waiting for his friend. How did you end up here, Lukitt? How did it all lead to this?

#ClioGray

Clio was born in Yorkshire, spent her later childhood in Devon before returning to Yorkshire to go to university. For the last twenty-five year,s she has lived in the Scottish Highlands where she intends to remain. She eschewed the usual route of marriage, mortgage, children, and instead spent her working life in libraries, filling her home with books and sharing that home with dogs. She began writing for personal amusement in the late nineties, then began entering short story competitions, getting shortlisted and then winning, which led directly to a publication deal with Headline. Her book, The Anatomist’s Dream, was nominated for the Man Booker 2015 and longlisted for the Bailey’s Prize in 2016.

#LoveBooksGroup
Posted in Author Interview, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Noir

The Orange Grove Kate Murdoch #Author #Interview @KateMurdoch3 @RegalHouse1 #Lies #Secrets, #historicalfiction #18Century #France #historicalromance

#The Orange Grove

Blois, 1705. The chateau of Duc Hugo d’Amboise simmers with rivalry and intrigue. 

Henriette d’Augustin, one of five mistresses of the duc, lives at the chateau with her daughter. When the duc’s wife, Duchesse Charlotte, maliciously undermines a new mistress, Letitia, Henriette is forced to choose between position and morality. She fights to maintain her status whilst targeted by the Duchesse who will do anything to harm her enemies.

The arrival of charismatic tarot reader, Romain de Villiers, further escalates tensions as rivals in domestic politics and love strive for supremacy.

In a society where status is a matter of life and death, Henriette must stay true to herself, her daughter, and her heart, all the while hiding a painful secret of her own.

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Read my 5* Review of The Orange Grove

Author Interview – Kate Murdoch – The Orange Grove

What inspired you to write ‘The Orange Grove’?

Since my teens I’ve loved everything about French culture—I’ve studied the language and travelled to France numerous times. So, the idea of writing a French book felt like a natural step. I’m also fascinated by the period of Louis XIV’s rule, the extreme decadence of life at court and for nobles in general before the Revolution. This made researching the book a joy because I discovered many details about how people lived, their outlooks, and what their motivations were at different levels of society. 

When you begin a new story, what is the first thing you develop; characters, plot or setting? Why is this?

The setting, because I can’t have an understanding of what might happen in the story and who my characters might be if I don’t know the context of their immediate environment and the historical background.

What is the unique selling point of your story? What do you hope will make it stand out in the historical fiction genre?

A lot of historical fiction focuses on a key event and/or a particular historical figure. In The Orange Grove, I was interested in exploring how a fixation on status and position, prevalent in France in the early 18th century, might have impacted peoples’ behaviour and their relationships. How self-preservation can erode integrity and morality.

Do you find it easy or difficult to write dialogue? How do you make historical dialogue sound natural and believable?

I find it relatively easy once I work out who my characters are. It’s one of my techniques for understanding my characters—I figure out who they are as I write dialogue and watch them speak to one another. Perhaps that’s why I write a lot of dialogue! I would say I’m the most immersed in the act of writing during these ‘conversations.’

What is the best thing about being a writer? Are there any negatives?

The sense of community and understanding shared with other writers. I really enjoy the friendships and connections I’ve made since becoming a writer. I also feel so much joy when a reader understands and enjoys my words, is immersed in my stories. That’s very satisfying. A negative would be being so consumed that it’s sometimes hard to find a balance with other aspects of my life.

Do you enjoy reading? What are you reading at the moment?

I adore reading. At the moment I’m devouring The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt alongside research books for a new project.

What are you currently writing?

I’m writing a dual-timeline story set in World War Two Croatia and 1960’s Melbourne, through the perspectives of three generations of women.

Kate Murdoch is the author of Stone CircleShe exhibited widely as a painter both in Australia and internationally before turning her hand to writing.

Her short-form fiction has been published in various literary journals in Australia, UK, US and Canada.

Stone Circle is a historical fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy. It was released by Fireship Press, December 1st 2017. Stone Circle was a First in Category winner in the Chaucer Awards 2018 for pre-1750’s historical fiction.

Kate was awarded a KSP Fellowship at the KSP Writers’ Centre in 2019 to develop her third novel,
The Glasshouse.

Her novel, The Orange Grove, about the passions and intrigues of court mistresses in 18th century France, will be published by Regal House Publishing in 2019.

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