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Wednesday, 22 May 2019

My Review - Death and the Harlot by Georgina Clarke

My Review - Death and the Harlot by Georgina Clarke

I was completely absorbed into this book which I received through Netgalley, with its extremely likeable heroine Lizzie Hardwicke, Harlot of the title.



A high-class London prostitute working out of a mid 18th century Soho pleasure house. When one of her "customers" is found murdered she faces inevitable suspicion, so, keen to clear her name she joins forces with an investigator and becomes amateur sleuth.

Set in the back streets of London, among the seediest pubs, the coffee houses and bathhouses where no respectable girl would be seen, as a lady of the night Lizzie can pass through, if not completely unnoticed, at least accepted. She uses her keen skills of observation and an understanding of peoples motives gained from her questionable trade, to great advantage.

What emerges is a complicated tale of blackmail, and revenge, where everyone has either a hidden past or leads a double life, nobody can be taken at face value and murder takes in the stinking filth at the bottom of every dark alley. As a Notorious Highwayman awaits sentencing nearby everyday life carries on in its bustling noisiness and everyday struggles to make ends meet any way possible.

Lizzie, despite a hardened nature through the life she has been pushed into by circumstances, still has a tender heart. Deep down she longs for love and friendship. She takes pity on a couple of younger women one of whom she hopes to prevent being forced to make the same choices which led her where she now resides, on the wrong side of respectability, and the other who has already fallen far below this, yet still manages to touch Lizzies toughened heart. It is this caring nature which made me warm to Lizzie, the original tart with a heart.

The story fairly gallops along, it is exciting and well written and filled with great characters, none of whom you quite know whether to trust or run like hell from.

Following Lizzies adventures allows us to vicariously tread paths we'd never dream of setting foot on and I could see and smell the whiff of roasting chestnuts, vying with the odour from a greasy mutton pie vendor overlying the ordure of the sewage-laden River Thames and its surrounding courts and alleyways.

I loved it and can't wait for further adventures with Lizzie Hardwicke.

The Blurb

A gripping historical crime debut from an exciting new voice. ‘It’s strange, the way fortune deals her hand.’

The year is 1759 and London is shrouded in a cloak of fear. With the constables at the mercy of highwaymen, it’s a perilous time to work the already dangerous streets of Soho. Lizzie Hardwicke makes her living as a prostitute, somewhat protected from the fray as one of Mrs Farley’s girls. But then one of her wealthy customers is found brutally murdered… and Lizzie was the last person to see him alive.

Constable William Davenport has no hard evidence against Lizzie but his presence and questions make life increasingly difficult. Desperate to be rid of him and prove her innocence Lizzie turns amateur detective, determined to find the true killer, whatever the cost.

Yet as the body count rises Lizzie realises that, just like her, everyone has a secret they will do almost anything to keep buried…

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

The Den by Abi Maxwell - My Review and Blog Tour


Blog Tour The Den Abi Maxwell

Hello, readers, I have a treat for lovers of dual time/ contemporary/ Historical fiction, Women's fiction and coming of age stories as this versatile books fits all of those briefs.



My Review of The Den – Abi Maxwell

The Den is probably best described as a dual-time coming of age story, as it tells the stories of 2 pairs of sisters living about 150 years apart in the same farming area of New Hampshire. It gently bestows on the reader a sense of long hot summer days and the thrill of self-discovery and growing passions, it explores the need to be needed and what it’s like to grow apart from a much-loved sibling and touches on the different rules and restrictions placed on women.

The main portion of the story is that of 12-year-old Jane and her older sister teenage Henrietta. Often left to their own devices the two girls are very close as children, until Henrietta begins to develop an interest in boys and sex, as she begins to go off the rails somewhat it causes a rift between the two youngsters. They grow apart as Jane yearns to stay close to Henrietta but is viewed increasingly as a nuisance by her increasingly reckless sibling, who begins to change into a much less lovable girl than the childhood companion Jane has always looked up to. I felt Janes anguish and frustration at being unable to maintain the closeness with her elder sister, which causes her to make a bad decision which is to haunt her all her life.



The Den of the title is the ruined remains of an old homestead which lies on the farmland where the girls live, it is a place they are drawn to and which is to be pivotal in their lives.

150 years earlier the “Den” was occupied by a young couple, Elspeth the wife newly arrived from Scotland had to leave in a hurry to join her husband who had come out to seek new opportunites.
Pregnant and lonely, she is very homesick and misses her little sister Claire with whom she maintains contact through letters. She is very isolated and her husband never seems to quite make the most of the opportunities he planned to, he works long hours and she has few friends apart from an elderly neighbour who becomes a good friend and almost a surrogate father to her and encourages her to write stories, keeping her mind occupied. One such story become a local urban legend, a story about a family who may or may not have been eaten by, or even turned into, coyotes and it is this story which Jane and Henrietta discover over a century after it is written and which places the Den as a location of importance to both parts of the story.

The parallel stories run alongside each other, with many similarities, both address sisterhood relationships, loneliness and isolation, puberty and the dawning of sexual awareness and forbidden relationships.

It’s quite a laconic tale and plays out gradually with the growing maturity and sexual dawning of the 4 girls at its centre.

I must confess, being a historic fiction aficionado, I would have favoured the historical timeline being introduced into the story much earlier and to have been given more emphasis on the lives of the two sisters rather than concentrating a lot on the Coyote tale written by the historical character, which I found somewhat mystifying. Though overall the book is an extremely satisfying read which draws the reader in beautifully and keeps you wanting to know what happens, or happened next.

The Blurb

A hypnotic story of YOUTH, SEX and POWER


A story of two women cast out by the same community though separated by a hundred years
A story of two extraordinary, magnetic women and their disappearances - a hundred years apart - from the small New England town they call home.

Henrietta and Jane are growing up in a farmhouse on the outskirts of town, their mother a remote artist, their father in thrall to the folklore and legend of their corner of New England. When Henrietta falls under the spell of Kaus, an outsider and petty criminal, Jane takes to trailing the couple, spying on their trysts, until one night, Henrietta vanishes into the woods.

Elspeth and Claire are sisters separated by an ocean. Elspeth’s pregnancy at seventeen meant she was quickly married and sent away from her Scottish village to make a new life in America. When she comes to the attention of the local mill owner, a series of wrenching and violent events unfolds, culminating in her disappearance.

As Jane and Claire search in their own times for their missing sisters, each uncovers the strange legend of Cold Thursday, and of a family apparently transformed into coyotes. But what does his myth really mean? Are their sisters dead, destroyed by the men who desired them? Or have they made new lives, elsewhere, beyond the watchful eyes of the community they longed to escape?


You can find the book now on Amazon and other good bookstores.

The Author




Abi Maxwell is the author of an acclaimed story collection, LAKE PEOPLE, and her fiction has also appeared in McSweeney’s. She studied writing at the University of Montana and now lives in New Hampshire, where she grew up, with her husband and son.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

The Daughters of Ironbridge - Mollie Walton - My Review

The Daughters of Ironbridge - Mollie Walton - My Review



My thoughts:

The Daughters of Ironbridge is an already well-known authors diversification into historical saga's under a new pseudonym and as expected she adapts to this style of writing extremely well. 

This is women's fiction which will appeal to fans of authors such as Diney Costelloe and Katie Flynn, which explores aspects of friendship and life on both sides of the class division of the early 19th century The story begins when an uncommon friendship springs up between two young women from very different backgrounds. Working class Anny, daughter of an ironworker is thrown in the path of wealthy Margaret and surprisingly, against all odds the girls soon become staunch allies. 

Despite their huge lifestyle differences the girls find a lot in common and soon decide to band together as a force to be reckoned with. Strong feisty women, a great historical setting in an inimitable location in Shropshire combine to make this book a sure-fire winner. It is easy to relate to the women within these pages, enough historical detail so you know it's been very well researched but don't feel as though you're being educated and above all a lovely warmth which makes it a feel-good read.

Secrets and lies are uncovered in the kind of novel often described as gritty and definitely authentic to the period it is set in and there are plenty of twists and heart-wrenching scenes to keep the reader enthralled.

This is the first in a planned trilogy which I am sure will be a great success with wide subject appeal for many women readers.

You can find The Daughters of Ironbridge on Amazon or in your favourite bookshop.

The Blurb:

1830s Shropshire.

Anny Woodvine's family has worked at the ironworks for as long as she can remember. The brightest child in her road and the first in her family to learn to read, Anny has big dreams. So, when she is asked to run messages for the King family, she grabs the opportunity with both hands.

Margaret King is surrounded by privilege and wealth. But behind closed doors, nothing is what it seems. When Anny arrives, Margaret finds her first ally and friend. Together they plan to change their lives.

But as disaster looms over the ironworks, Margaret and Anny find themselves surrounded by secrets and betrayal. Can they hold true to each other and overcome their fate? Or are they destined to repeat the mistakes of the past?

Monday, 13 May 2019

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh Blog Tour extract

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh Blog Tour & extract

Please join me today on the Blog Tour for The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh. Published by Sapere Books it is an exciting historical novel which is inspired by the Women of the Tudor Court and is part one of The Marquess House trilogy which sounds amazing and fab for anyone enthralled by Tudor history.


I have a free extract for you to read and enjoy before you rush out and buy the book. I'm not kidding it makes me want to read on and I just long to lounge around on a sunny beach reading this.



Extract

Chapter One

Catherine shivered as she waited. The corridor in Whitehall Palace was a thoroughfare bustling with people, but it was draughty and the icy wind cut across it like a shining blade. She hugged her new shawl more tightly around her, glad of its warmth. As she did, she admired the soft leather gloves her uncle had given her as a gift before she left home.

“Soft gloves to protect your soft hands,” he had murmured. He had always singled her out for attention, been kinder to her than any of the other Howard girls, and he had arranged for her to be a maid to the new queen, the Lady Anne of Cleves. It was an honour but now she was here, her excitement was turning to nervousness.

She had grown up in her step-grandmother’s house a few miles away in Lambeth. A ramshackle home full of orphans like her and other members of the hugely extended Howard clan. She had innocently thought that the court of King Henry VIII would be like that, only with more jewels. Now as she watched the parade of courtiers, she realised she could not have been more wrong. People hurried busily to and fro. Yeoman guards marched past in their daunting green and white Tudor uniforms, pikes aloft, metal-heeled boots ringing with a chilling authority. The women in their elaborate dresses, the men equally as ornate: it was an endless visual feast.

Court was more intense, more splendid and more glamorous than anything she had ever imagined and she was only on the edges; a mere nobody waiting with her trunk for her elder half-sister, Lady Isabel Baynton, to collect her. As she glanced up the corridor searching for a familiar face, a tall, good-looking man dressed in a sumptuous velvet cloak caught her eye and winked. Glancing over her shoulder to see if the true recipient of his intended favour was behind her, she heard the man laugh and blushed furiously as he walked by, still chuckling.
“Kitty!”

To her relief, she saw Isabel hurrying through the courtiers. Torches guttered casting shadowy light on her as she approached. It was early afternoon but the weather was cold and stormy and the sky had barely lightened all day. Taller than Catherine, with dark hair and dark eyes, Isabel was married to Sir Edward Baynton, who was to be vice-chamberlain to the new queen.

He was an important man, having worked for each of the king’s wives — including Catherine’s cousin, Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second bride. Now Edward was once again to hold this important role in the new queen’s household and his stature was reflected in Isabel’s dress, demeanour and, to Catherine’s surprise, her spectacular jewels.

“Isabel!” exclaimed Catherine, curtseying to her half-sister as etiquette required, before being swept into a warm embrace. “Your diamonds! Did Edward give them to you?”
Isabel laughed and turned her head so the magnificent diamond drops in her ears shimmered with cold fire in the winter light.
“An early Christmas gift,” she smiled. “We have a present for you to welcome you to court but we’ll give it to you when you’re settled. Is that yours?” She pointed to the trunk.
Catherine nodded. “Although, there isn’t much in it,” she admitted.
“Never mind,” said Isabel. “We’ll organise a new wardrobe for you. We must maintain the Howard family name. Cox, take my sister’s trunk to the maids’ rooms,” she said to the servant standing respectfully behind her. Then, tucking her hand under Catherine’s arm, she led her along the busy corridor. “What do you think of court?”
“I’ve been here barely half an hour but it seems, well…”
“Daunting?”
“Yes,” agreed Catherine.
“Don’t worry, my dear, we’re all here to help you; myself and Edward, your Uncle Norfolk and, of course, our brother Charles. Although, he seems rather preoccupied at the moment.”
“Is he in love again?” asked Catherine, grinning.
“Yes, but this is a little different from his usual infatuations.”
“You mean the object of his affection isn’t married?”
“She isn’t but, well, there are other complications. However, it’s never wise to discuss such things in the open court, even in jest, remember that, Kitten,” said Isabel. “The court has ears everywhere and like the smiling serpent who was the undoing of Eve, there are endless charlatans lurking in unexpected places in this merry Eden.”

Catherine nodded, but she was disappointed. She always enjoyed hearing about her brother’s latest romantic escapades. The true chivalric and charmingly penniless knight, Charles Howard was always infatuated with someone, and Catherine suspected he was more in love with the idea of romance than the most recent recipient of his amour.

As they walked, she tried to memorise the winding route, wondering if this sprawling building would ever feel familiar. Eventually, they arrived in a quieter, but even more beautifully decorated section of the palace.

“These are the queen’s new rooms,” explained Isabel. “And along here are the maids’ rooms. I’ve arranged for you to share with our cousin, Kathryn Carey. She’s an old hand and will look out for you if neither Edward nor I are available to help.”
“And Uncle Norfolk?” Catherine asked.
“He’s a very busy man but I’m sure once he knows you’re here, he’ll invite you to his rooms to keep you up-to-date with family business.”
Catherine laughed but she was secretly delighted.
“Hardly, Issy,” she said. “I’m far too lowly for such important conversations.”
“Don’t underestimate your new status, Mistress Howard,” said Isabel. “The position of maid of honour is not one given lightly and there were many noblemen fighting for places for their daughters. Enjoy your rise in status and use it wisely. You’ll need a husband soon and being at court will improve your prospects of a lucrative match.”

Are you tempted? You can order this historical thriller now from Amazon



The Author



From tales spun for her teddies when she was a child (usually about mermaids) to film scripts, plays and novels, Alexandra Walsh has always been a storyteller. Words are her world. For over 25 years, she has been a journalist writing for a wide range of publications including national newspapers and glossy magazines. She spent some years working in the British film industry, as well as in television and radio: researching, advising, occasionally presenting and always writing.
Books dominate Alexandra’s life. She reads endlessly and tends to become a bit panicky if her next three books are not lined up and waiting. Characters, places, imagery all stay with her and even now she finds it difficult to pass an old wardrobe without checking it for a door to Narnia. As for her magical letter when she was 11, she can only assume her cat caught the owl!

Alexandra’s other passion is history, particularly the untold tales of women. Whether they were queens or paupers, their voices resonate with their stories, not only about their own lives but about ours, too. The women of the Tudor court have inspired her novels. Researching and writing The Marquess House Trilogy (Book One: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy) has brought together her love of history, mysteries and storytelling.

Find out more about the Author on her website  or find her on Twitter 


Saturday, 11 May 2019

Blog Tour Son of The Moon by Jennifer MacAire extract @rararesources

Blog Tour Son of The Moon by Jennifer MacAire




Today I am welcoming author Jennifer MacAire to Beadyjans Books for the BlogBlitz Tour of her latest historical novel Son of the Moon.

I have an Excerpt from Son of the Moon by Jennifer Macaire

Can you face the consequences of cheating the Fates?

Alexander the Great journeys to India, where he and Ashley are welcomed with feasts and treachery.

With their son, Paul, being worshipped as the Son of the Moon, and Alexander’s looming death, Ashley considers the unthinkable: how to save them and whether she dares to cheat Fate?



Excerpt: 

Alexander found many men willing to marry and stay in Taxila with the king. The city would become the biggest center of Hellenic culture in India. Greek would be spoken there for centuries. It would become one of the greatest exchanges between east and west. Taxile didn’t know this, of course, but he seemed thrilled to meet Alexander. He wouldn’t stop rubbing his hands together and beaming. 

He was also very impressed with the army. He saw Alexander as the chance he’d been waiting for. To the south was his greatest enemy, the rajah Porus, whom he had been fighting against on and off for decades. Alexander had sent ambassadors to Porus asking for right of passage through his lands. The second night we stayed in Taxila, news came that the demands had been rejected, and Porus was massing his army on the banks of the river Jhelum.

Alexander grew very still when the news came. I think he was bitterly disappointed. He had been looking forward to coming to India and being received everywhere. The idea of fighting his way through India displeased him enormously. Nonetheless his military mind was already busy making plans. We left five days after we arrived.

I used those five days to go shopping. I’d been in the mountains, away from civilization for so long. I’d forgotten what it was like to go to the market, to buy food and clothes, to go to the theater, or eat at a restaurant. 

I insisted Alexander accompany me and do all those things, except the restaurant. There weren’t really any restaurants in those times; just food stands in the market place. We strolled through the city. The people acclaimed us, and everyone tossed flowers at us; flowers and colored rice. I loved it. I felt like a bride the entire time. 

Alexander covered me in beautiful, bright silks and cottons, and we ate curried lamb and peacocks. Alexander loved Indian food and Taxile adored Greek art. Alexander’s men put on sports exhibitions in the plains, and the people of the city swarmed out to see them every evening. 

Lanterns made of colored silk, and ribbons of bright cotton decorated everything. All the hues were bright and vibrant. Gold! Red! Pink! Violet! they screamed. The Greeks were entranced. It was a mutual love affair between the pure, classical Greek style and the colorful, elaborate Indian manner. It was sparkling white marble meeting bright fuchsia silk. It was like cold vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce. It was calm restraint meeting wild abandon. Everyone exclaimed at everything. There wasn’t a single thing that the Indians didn’t adore about the Greeks, and the Greeks thought that everything in Taxila was fabulous.

The Author - Jennifer Macaire


Find her at 
twitter @jennifermacaire

Friday, 19 April 2019

The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook Blog Tour

The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook:

It's the second stage of the Blog Tour for the new book from Avon Books The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook. It's a dual timeline romance perfect for your holidays.


My Review:

The Forgotten Village is a dual-time romance, light and easy to read it is the perfect holiday read to while away the time on your sun lounger with.

It tells two womens’ stories, one in 1943 and the other in the present day. Both women have managed to lumber themselves with unbearable men who have turned out to be complete swine, both women have been bullied mercilessly by their male counterparts and been trampled underfoot by their domineering other halves. Fortunately, both women begin to realise this and make an attempt to break free but is it too late? The Forgotten Village will let us find out.

In modern-day Cornwall, we meet Melissa who for some reason which is pretty hard to comprehend has come on holiday with a total boor, Liam, who treats her worse than a doormat! Of course, she ends up having a dreadful holiday, left alone to amuse herself whilst he swans off and has a great time leaving her to her own devices. I don’t know if I was more annoyed at him for behaving like a cad or at her for complicitly going out with him for as long as she has.

Deciding to explore the local area a bit she ends up at a place of historical interest, a small Cornish village which has been shut off from the world since the Second World War when it was requisitioned by the army and the occupants were all forced to leave.

This creates the link for us to venture into the past where we meet Lady Veronica, preparing for flight from their family home to surrender it to the armed forces and at the same time  trying to plan her own escape from another domineering bloke I was just itching to see get his come-uppance. To find out if I was granted this desire you’ll have to read the book yourself!

Of course, this is romantic fiction and the romance soon happens when Melissa happens to bump into a much more charming man than the one she is thinking of dumping. Guy is a handsome and compassionate actor who is taking part in a planned tv show about the eponymous Forgotten Village of Tyneham. Together with Guy, Melissa decides to investigate more about the past linked to the village and in particular Lady Veronica, to whom Guy has a link as his ageing Aunt had worked in this village as her “Ladies maid”

This creates the dual storyline, which is well done and undeniably compelling. It has all the romantic interest you'd expect from a romance with the historical aspect providing a few twists and a mystery which has been concealed over the years. It is in this past where Melissa will discover a dark secret which will still have ramifications today.


I would personally have liked more historical depth to the story, about the history and the past of the village. But this is romantic fiction and if you want a book that’s entertaining and romantic to read on your sun lounger this will fit the bill perfectly.

The Forgotten village is available in Paperback or ebook to add to your holiday reads list now. Find a copy here.



The Blurb

A timeless story of love and sacrifice, perfect for fans of Rachel Hore, Tracy Rees and Kate Morton.

1943: The world is at war, and the villagers of Tyneham are being asked to make one more sacrifice: to give their homes over to the British army. But on the eve of their departure, a terrible act will cause three of them to disappear forever.

2017: Melissa had hoped a break on the coast of Dorset would rekindle her stagnant relationship, but despite the idyllic scenery, it’s pushing her and Liam to the brink. When Melissa discovers a strange photograph of a woman who once lived in the forgotten local village of Tyneham, she becomes determined to find out more about her story. But Tyneham hides a terrible secret, and Melissa’s search for the truth will change her life in ways she never imagined possible. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Book Review of The Gates of Eden by Nadene LeCheminant

The Gates of Eden by Nadene LeCheminant




(Not so much a Review as an Homage to pioneering women and this exceptional story).

I love being a bookblogger, it brings wonderful novels into my life that otherwise I’d probably never even come across, let alone read. One such book is the absolutely amazing, The Gates of Eden, a book based on true events and inspired by the Authors own family history. A book I devoured. I lost myself in the pages, the non-existent word “unputdownable” is the only way to describe this awesome book. 

What really made this special for me is the ease with which the author creates a credible world which is so easy to slide into and so utterly believable.

I make no secret of the fact that my VERY favourite books are about the everyday lives of pioneering women in the past. I am in awe of women who in times when women were totally oppressed by men, did everything they were able to do to make the best of their lot, often taking on the most utterly daunting tasks, and succeeding. Gates of Eden is the story of one such woman, a girl really, as when our heroine Josephine begins her epic journey she is only fourteen years old, as was the real pioneer who inspired this work, the Authors Great-great grandmother.

This is a story about everyday folk overcoming desperation and hardship. It begins in England, Liverpool to be precise, where young Josephine and her older sister, brothers and Mother have been plunged into sudden dire poverty following the death of her father and the discovery that he was deeply in debt.

From living a comfortable merchant families lifestyle to having to work like slaves in a mill factory, live in a slum apartment and live hand to mouth with little food and no home comforts Josephine’s Mother Elizabeth is desperate to clutch at any passing straw which might offer redemption for her and her family. She wants to do her best but just doesn’t know how. A gentle and genteel woman she has never had to fend for herself before.

Sunday meetings with the newly formed Mormon church, offer a little shelter and companionship, albeit with a much lower class of folk than they are used to associating with  Josie and her Mother begin to attend these meeetings, despite scorn from the remainder of the family especially the 2 brothers. Yet when the chance of a new life, in the Americas is offered, Josie and her Mother accept baptism into the Mormon church and set off in a crowded ship for a new life they are promised will take them to a land of milk and honey, of shelter and warmth and food on their plates. 

The initial journey by ship is gruelling and as sickness takes hold, deaths begin. Before they have even made it to their new world. Josie and her Mother Elizabeth, do everything they can to fit in with their fellow travellers, despite many of them being ragged and poor, these are folk who once they would have passed without a thought. Some of them become lifelong friends, great secondary characters accompany fabulous main characters in this novel. 

Josie begins to teach the younger children and the journey passes slowly until one day they arrive in “the promised land”...
It doesn’t take very long until the realisation that this claim may have been somewhat exaggerated hits home... 
When they eventually arrive in America, they find they are despised by some, reviled by many.

They have to hang about waiting for the wooden handcarts for their belongings they are to pull, to be made, by fellow travellers. Food is still scarce, little comfort to be had apart from the dream of making it to Zion, where they are still repeatedly told, there is a land of plenty for all to enjoy.


Watercolour of handcart pioneers just like Josie setting off by William Henry Jackson 

Eventually they set off, en-masse and on foot, apart from those who have already found work and decided to stay put. 

I can hardly imagine how daunting and difficult a task they faced, to know you have to walk, across a completely foreign and alien landscape, facing wild animals they have never even heard of, weather conditions they haven’t dreamt of and with absolutely no specialist equipment. Coming from poverty the majority of these brave souls are poorly clothed and shod, undernourished and not in the best of health, they have just endured a lengthy and gruelling journey by ship in the harshest of conditions, a journey which itself saw off some of the frailest and less hardy. 


Imagine having walked almost 1,000 miles and thinking your journey was almost over, cresting a ridge and seeing ..... this haunting yet daunting view!


I would so NOT have been able to contemplate undertaking a journey like this in these dire circumstances. I’d have still been slaving in the sweatshop until I died. This makes me feel even more privileged to have followed this pilgrimage, which although fiction is based on true fact.

Truth IS stranger than fiction, you would not dream up a journey of 1,300 miles, on foot, through mercilessly remote mountains and bleak desert plains and expect anyone to survive. Yet 3,000 handcart pioneers did survive this awesome trek, although many of them died along the way and to this day their bones remain part of the dust which forms this unforgiving foreign land.


Route of the actual journey

The author IS able to imagine this and she writes about it in a way that makes the reader feel as if they are there. She has researched the journey and even undertaken part of it herself as a personal pilgrimage and to pay homage to her ancestors. She thus paints an amazingly detailed image of the landscapes of rural Oregon.

At this point, I will say little more about the story apart from yet again how absolutely outstanding the book is. To follow Josie across the plains, to learn about the ordeals she faced you MUST read the book. Most harrowing, are the facts around plural marriages and the way women pressed to marry men who already had one or many more wives regarded this practice. 

I take my hat off to Nadene’s ancestors, especially the women. Pioneers they certainly were and I am in awe of each journey endured.


I feel privileged to have shared in the memory of these pioneers. If, like me, you are left with a longing to read more factual accounts you could begin by visiting the authors blog, which I have also devoured word for word and from where she has generously shared some of the images contained in my post.

Find the book on Amazon uk or Amazon worldwide 


The Author of The gates of Eden
Nadene Lecheminant




Baxters Requiem by Matthew Crow - Review and Blog Tour

Baxters Requiem by Matthew Crow

Follow the Blog Tour here on Beadyjans Books for the heartwarming new book by Matthew Crow entitled Baxters Requiem which I have read, loved and reviewed.


If you're looking for a genuinely uplifting, sweet and captivating book, please consider Baxters Requiem - it's just adorable.

My Review


Baxters Requiem is a gentle and heartwarming tale of thwarted love and dealing with loss.

Perfect for fans of Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon, it’s about an elderly man, the eponymous Baxter who in his twilight years decides he must have one last attempt to say goodbye to the one true love of his life. In doing so he forges new friendships, and helps a young man come to terms with his own grief.

I found it a quick and easy read, which I galloped through, enjoying every word. Simple yet meaningful, hauntingly beautiful and a real testament to companionship and self-forgiveness.

Baxter himself is a delight, irascible, humorous and forthright at the age of 94, having reluctantly allowed himself to be admitted to Melrose Gardens nursing home where the residents are in turn doddery yet full of life.

Greg is a typical 19-year-old of the “whatever” generation, he is at a los and ends up working at Melrose Gardens as an interim measure just to get out of his fathers way. The two men just can’t understand each other as poles apart Father and son try to deal with the sudden and senseless death of Gregs younger brother.

Baxter sees a glimmer of potential in Greg and enrols his help in a seemingly ill-advised crazy venture, to France, to visit war graves and pay tribute to Thomas, the man he waved farewell to, more than half a lifetime ago, yet has never really said goodbye to.
Greg is a real enigma, described as surly and shy, a lad of few words I found him perspicacious and actually rather eloquent, quite lovable and I just wanted to mother him.

Even the secondary characters are sublime. 
The unstoppable Winnie, cherished lifelong friend of Baxter, charges through life in her motorised disability scooter, imbibing too much alcohol, being the best friend imaginable and the worst influence possible. 
Suzanne who tries to run a tight ship at Melrose but turns a blind eye now and again to Baxters antics and Jamila, reluctant receptionist in the family business which is the care home who daydreams her way through her work, an eyebrow tattoo pen grasped between her immaculate blinged-up nails and a glint of romance in her well-outlined eye.


Baxters requiem is a joy to read for anyone of any age. It blends teen angst with the frustration of old age, poignancy with fun and shows that no matter what age you are it’s never too late to do something meaningful.

My thanks go to RandomThingsTours for inviting me to participate in the blog tour, thus introducing me to Baxter and this wonderful book.

The Blurb

A tender, witty, uplifting story about friendship, family and community written with great humour that will appeal to fans of Rachel Joyce, Ruth Hogan and Joanna Cannon.

Let me tell you a story, about a man I knew, and a man I know...

Mr Baxter is ninety-four years old when he falls down his staircase and grudgingly finds himself resident at Melrose Gardens Retirement Home. 

Baxter is many things - raconteur, retired music teacher, rabble-rouser, bon viveur - but 'good patient' he is not. He had every intention of living his twilight years with wine, music and revelry; not tea, telly and Tramadol. Indeed, Melrose Gardens is his worst nightmare - until he meets Gregory. 

At only nineteen years of age, Greg has suffered a loss so heavy that he is in danger of giving up on life before he even gets going. 

Determined to save the boy, Baxter decides to enlist his help on a mission to pay tribute to his long-lost love, Thomas: the man with whom he found true happiness; the man he waved off to fight in a senseless war; the man who never returned. The best man he ever knew.

With Gregory in tow, Baxter sets out on a spirited escape from Melrose, bound for the war graves of Northern France. As Baxter shares his memories, the boy starts to see that life need not be a matter of mere endurance; that the world is huge and beautiful; that kindness is strength; and that the only way to honour the dead, is to live.


Baxter's Requiem is a glorious celebration of life, love and seizing every last second we have while we're here.

The Author



Matthew Crow was born and raised in Newcastle. Having worked as a freelance journalist since his teens he has contributed to a number of publications including the Independent on Sunday and the Observer. He has written for adults and YA. His book My Dearest Jonah, was nominated for the Dylan Thomas Prize.




Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Legends of Persia - Jennifer Macaire - Guest Post for Blog Tour

Legends of Persia - Jennifer Macaire - Guest Post for Blog Tour

I'm welcoming Jennifer Macaire to Beadyjans Books today with her sensual new historical time travel romance Legends of Persia. I was thrilled when Jennifer offered to take some time out of her hectic schedule to write me an article for my blog as part of the tour to launch her novel, organised by Rachels Random Resources tours.

About the book in Jennifers own words

Legends of Persia



When Ashley Riveraine jumped at the chance to travel back in time to meet her hero Alexander the Great, she never thought she would end up staying there…

Following Alexander the Great’s army on its journey across Persia, Ashley is walking the knife edge of history. As a presumed goddess, Ashley is expected to bless crops, make sure battles are won and somehow keep herself out of the history books.

Can Ashley avoid the wrath of the Time Institute while keeping the man she loves alive?




She told me about the steamier side of her writing.

Romance and sex in historical fiction

Let's talk about romance and sex in fiction books. I write historical fiction with a dash of science fiction (time travel), fantasy (Greek and Nordic mythology), and romance (my heroine, Ashley, shares her life with two men – Alexander the Great and his lover, Hephaestion).

When I started writing this story (believe me) I had no idea it was going to turn into a steamy, sensuous series. It started out as a short story commissioned by a magazine about time travel. But the fact is, when I started researching and found out most of what we know about Alexander the Great is hearsay and that I could let my imagination run wild – it went wild!

Alexander mistakes time-travelling journalist Ashley for the goddess Persephone and kidnaps her, stranding her in 333 BC. They fall in love and she accompanies him on his trek across half the world. But I had a modern woman from the future and a man from ancient Greece (Macedonia) thrown together, and they had nothing in common.

What happens when a young man and woman get together? Do they discuss the politics? Do they talk about the weather? What common ground did they have? Well, most of you are probably nodding sagely and imagining all sorts of different...positions. Yes, you're right. Falling in love usually means lots of sweaty, bouncy sex full of giggles, sighs, moans, and body parts moving in various directions at various speeds.

What happens when one of the partners is unabashedly bi-sexual and his lover also happens to be bi-sexual, and sex is considered a natural part of life such as eating, breathing, or learning to swim?  Yes, that's right – the pair turns into a threesome. So, reader beware – (although I don't write about it in as much detail as some would like), there is a spicy side to some chapters (if you want, you can just skip over those parts, they don't last very long, just a paragraph or so) but here's what I've discovered: reviewers will always comment on that part of my book. If they approve, they will say "Read about Ashley's sensuous journey across ancient Persia", and if they don't approve, they will say, "A very interesting book except for too much sex and marching".

This brings us back to the question "How much sex & romance is too much in historical fiction?"

If you consider 'Clan of the Cave-bear' or the Outlander series historical fiction, you would think that my books are fairly tame compared to the caveman sex in the Clan books or the spankings and punishments in the Outlander tales (I loved both series, btw!) So I'll go out on a limb and say, "I think that if the sex takes away from the story, it is too much sex, and if it fits with the characters and setting, it's fine (and you can always skip over those parts)."  At any rate, I'd call my books "sensual" and leave it at that.

Jennifer Macaire

Want to know more about Jennifer - here are her web links.

Find Jennifer Macaire on Twitter : @jennifermacaire
Author website:
Blog (more fun):
Facebook page:
Instagram (for those who like pretty pictures):
BookBub:
Universal to buy link for Amazon:


Saturday, 13 April 2019

Sleep by C.L. Taylor - Review and Blog Tour #daretosleep

Sleep by C.L. Taylor

I'm happy to have been invited along as part of the Blog Tour to promote the cleverly twisty conundrum of a thriller by C.L. Taylor that is Sleep. You'll see it's quite a huge tour featuring many bloggers throughout April and I'm betting most of them adored this super book that kept me awake half the night.



My Review:

Sleep is a tense who-dunnit set in a remote hotel on the Scottish Isle of Rum.

The book reminded me a little of a recent title I read and reviewed, An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena, although I found Sleep just a touch more relatable as the lead character Anna really felt like someone I could socialise with.

Both these books are tense thrillers set in remote hotels cut off during a storm, where the guests are a disparate bunch and you don’t know who you can trust.

Sleep is written with the usual panache of the author C L Taylor who excels at the twisty, the scary and the psychological punch of narrators you aren’t completely sure can be relied on.

In Sleep we see Anna, recovering from an accident, wanting to escape her life and taking a job in as remote a getaway location as she can find, a small independent hotel on a Scottish Island which caters mostly for outdoorsy types and hardy hikers. 

She hasn’t been there very long when a storm hits and the seven guests staying are thrown together as the hotel becomes cut off from the mainland and the rest of the Island. As the wind howls and the guests shiver, things are about to take a turn for the worse, leaving Anna in charge of a situation you never want to be thrown into. Paranoia and fear creep in as a crisis turns rapidly into a drama and it soon becomes obvious someone has their eye on Anna and they don’t mean well, meanwhile all she wants is as simple as a really good nights sleep.

The story is convoluted, with flashbacks and different people who may or may not have a grudge against Anna. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I thoroughly enjoyed the roller coaster ride.

Sleep has eluded Anna since a tragic event began to cause her sleepless nights and as her life began to crumble she has felt things couldn’t be much worse than the deaths of close colleagues, breaking up with her boyfriend, leaving her job and moving away from everything she’s ever known. You’d THINK that would be the worst things that could happen but not in this terrifying thriller they aren’t.

Coincidences or sabotage? Threats or the imagination of a tired mind?


It’s a jolly good page turner, you never really know quite who is a threat and who can be relied on, there are lots of twists and plenty of red herrings floundering around trying to trap you into misbelieving the truth. If you like to read something that seems complex yet is really easy to get to grips with you won’t go far wrong with Sleep.
#daretosleep




The Blurb

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they're on the island. There's a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they've set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.


Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up…

SLEEP is published by the lovely Avon Books and I recommend signing up for their newsletter to hear about new books first.

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