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):
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.

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.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech - Blog tour and Review

Call Me Star Girl Louise Beech

This week sees the launch of a new title by Louise Beech whose previous books have been fab and this one is too.

I'm delighted to be part of the blog tour for this super thriller and my review follows.

My Review:

Call me Star Girl is a slightly new direction for Author Louise Beech whose wonderful books are full of heart and emotional punch. Star Girl is not lacking in these elements but it is much more of a psychological who-dunnit thriller.

Stella McKeever is the Star Girl of the title, even her name Stella means star and stars have played a big part in her life, from the star emblazoned vintage perfume bottle she has carried around all her life as a memento of her Mother who left 12 years ago when Stella was a child, to her job as a radio presenter and it's even her nickname used by her boyfriend Tom.

Most of the book takes place one evening at the radio station where Stella works. She is presenting her very last programme as she prepares to leave her job. She presents the late night show where regular listeners often phone in whilst she plays music and talks about different subjects and between songs her thoughts stray to the past and as she reminisces we get to know her character and her life, a past which has made her mistrustful of people and fearful of being dumped again, the little details of her home life. 

The claustrophobic feeling of being alone in a silent workplace whilst the stars twinkle outside in the inky night sky which cocoons the place in darkness feels oppressive and made me nervously peer behind me if I heard a noise, it’s tense and yet quite comfortable as it is so familiar to Stella.

One subject has loomed very largely around the radio station recently – the recent murder of a young woman whose blood-soaked body was discovered in an alley very close to the Radio Station building.

As Stella entreats her listeners to caller her by phoning in and sharing their deepest secrets, it becomes apparent that she has plenty of secrets of her own. From the deepest hurt, she carries from being abandoned by her Mother, to the naughty and sometimes disturbing sex games she plays along with her partner Tom, her desperation to keep the man she adores from growing bored with her. 

Tonight she is hoping that the caller who has been ringing and telling her he knows who killed the girl in the alley will call again and divulge what he actually knows. Will he reveal the killer or is he a liar who really doesn’t know what happened?

As the layers of deceit and secrets are peeled away I began to mistrust almost everyone in the book, someone is hiding something, but who can be fully trusted and who is hiding far more than they are letting on?

Secrets …. Stellas Mother Elizabeth who has recently, suddenly reappeared in her life, obviously has plenty of secrets. Stella has yet to really discover why she left and what kept her away for so long. 

Her own father is part of a murky mystery, about to be disclosed in snippets.

Boyfriend Tom seems to have plenty to hide, is he the Mr Right Stella has waited so long for?

Fellow radio presenters Maeve and newsreader Stephen play a part in the unfolding mystery, there is taxi driver Bob and of course there is the mystery caller, could he be a threat to Stella, does he wish her harm and is she herself at risk, alone in a dark building with a still unrevealed murderer not yet caught.

The whole book is absorbing and intriguing, the characters are superbly written and the mystery is twisty and complex. I had to gallop through it as I needed to know just what the heck was going on and what I was heading towards. An enthralling story told with utter panache made this the perfect holiday read for me, with characters who remain on the periphery of my memory, taunting me with the secrets I didn’t guess ‘til the end.

My thanks go to Orendabooks for inviting me on the Blog Tour.

The Blurb

Tonight is the night for secrets…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

With echoes of the chilling Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

The Author

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To
Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The
Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her
previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were
widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on
Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most
Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the
Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica
Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize
twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her
job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play
was performed in 2012.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Review and Blog Tour – A Dangerous Act of Kindness by L P Fergusson

A Dangerous Act of Kindness by L P Fergusson

My Review

A thought provoking and harrowing Wartime Romance which packs quite a punch. Set during the Second World War in the UK I wholeheartedly enjoyed reading it.

The lead character Millie is a young widow left alone to manage her husbands farm and battle daily with guilt and shame over the manner of his death. Aided mainly by a helpful landgirl whom she also regards as a friend, her loyal dog Gyp and occasionally by the young farmer Hugh, a friend of her late husband who secretly carries a torch for Millie.
Life is hard on this rural farm and her working days are long, but when she hears about a nearby German plane crashing she never imagines she will find an injured German Luftwaffe pilot on her own farm, hiding in a barn which already holds horrific memories for Millie.

She is drawn to this enigmatic and strangely gentle fighter pilot and a moments decision to help him will lead to repercussions she could never have forecast.
It’s not just forbidden to help the enemy but a crime punishable by death if found out so she has to proceed to help Pilot Lukas with stealth and great care. She finds herself choosing him over her own safety when she chooses this small, dangerous act of kindness with deadly consequences.

We watch the flames of romance flicker and burn and experience some tender moments of extreme passion. Then, when I read about Lukas’ struggle to even believe, never mind come to terms with, the atrocities committed by his fellow German compatriots he wormed his way into my heart too.

This is quite a deep and dark romantic novel it’s certainly not all fluffy and light. Some of the barbarous acts committed by the Nazis is sickening and even though we read about them third hand, as described to Lukas by fellow Germans they are nonetheless pretty harrowing.

The book itself is a sheer joy to read and swept me back in time to the days before I was born as though they took place yesterday, I felt every heartbeat.  If, like me you like your historical fiction filled with detail and your romance to have a sombre flavour this book will fit the bill perfectly.

Published by Canelo you can find the ebook on Amazon

The Blurb

When widow Millie Sanger finds injured enemy pilot Lukas Schiller on her farm, the distant
war is suddenly at her doorstep. Compassionate Millie knows he’ll be killed if discovered,
and makes the dangerous decision to offer him shelter from the storm.

On opposite sides of the inescapable conflict, the two strangers forge an unexpected and
passionate bond. But as the snow thaws, the relentless fury of World War Two forces them
apart, leaving only the haunting memories of what they shared, and an understanding that
their secret must never see light.

As Millie’s dangerous act of kindness sets them on paths they never could have expected,
those closest to them become their greatest threats, and the consequences of compassion
prove deadly…

About the Author

LP Fergusson grew up on the borders of Wales in a Tudor house on the banks of the River

As a child, she longed to go back in history. Now she does, through her writing. She
has an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University and won the Blackwell’s Prize
for MA Creative Writing. 

Her psychological thriller reached the final three of a Quercus/Psychologies Thriller competition and her wartime novel A Dangerous Act of Kindness was Highly Commended in the Caledonia Novel Award 2018. 

She edits the historical blog With Love from Graz which was featured on BBC Radio Wales, Radio 2 and BBC4’s A Very British Romance with Lucy Worsley. She now lives in an Oxfordshire village beneath the chalk downs where her debut novel is set.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

The Peacock Bottle by Angela Rigley - Blog Tour and review

The Peacock Bottle by Angela Rigley

Today join me on the Blog tour for a lovely dual time story which is the Peacock bottle. My thanks go to Rachels Random Reads for inviting me along.

My Review:

This is a historical novel with a slight difference, both timelines are historical, instead of as is often the case a modern day thread combined with a parallel story from the past. It introduces us to two young women who live in a house in Cumbria, close to the lake district, which (rather confusingly to me, at first) is named Alice Howe - I thought this was a character at first and spent a few puzzling minutes trying to work out who she was! Maybe this is intentional as the house does play a large part in the story.

In 1840 sisters Daisy and Mary Jane reside there, living a privileged rather wealthy life, they come across as two very real young ladies being brought up genteelly yet with real teenage hopes and ambitions that any young woman of today should be able to relate to. They are keen to find romance and are very close to each other. Daisy develops an interest in making perfume and MaryJane's hobby is painting.

53 years later close to the turn of the 19th century we see the house in a state of disrepair, with another young woman, Amelia moving in with her stepmother, their lives have also been quite genteel but they are now living in what would be known as reduced circumstances, following Amelias fathers tragic and sudden death in a fire.

When exploring the grounds Amelia discovers a pretty peacock designed perfume bottle buried in an overgrown garden which she decides to try and restore in secret to surprise her stepmother.

The stories run alongside one another nicely and the author gives each protagonist a unique and distinctive character and personality so it's easy to tell the 2 timelines apart.

It is a rather mellow read, quite soothing and flows beautifully although it actually tackles a few rather grim subjects including familial loss, grief, death and depression along with much lighter-hearted themes, romance, girls being girls, friendship and companionship.

I really enjoyed reading it I found it well written and really absorbing, though the main characters are quite young and I feel it will easily appeal to younger adults than historical dramas may usually appeal to, which is a great way of getting new readers interested in the historical fiction genre which I have adored for years.

I found Amelia the more feisty and probably easier to relate to, the earlier sisters have a Jane Austen like quality making them seem like flibbertygibbets yet with more depth of character than is at first apparent. I was pretty shaken when something pretty darned awful happens concerning them which caused me to shed a tear.

There is a tenuous connection between the two families and quite a few secrets to uncover as you follow their stories. Everything a good book should be - enjoyable and relaxing yet with enough substance to make you think.

The Blurb

In this Victorian dual timeline novel, Amelia Wise feels a jolt when she finds a blue perfume bottle in the overgrown garden of the house she has inherited. Several events in her life mirror those from the past and, with the help of her newfound cousin, Olivia, the bottle's secret is uncovered. 

Buying link UK and US link

About the Author

Married to Don, I have 5 children and 9 grandchildren, I live in Derbyshire, England, and enjoy researching my family tree (having found ancestors as far back as 1465), reading, gardening, playing Scrabble, meals out and family gatherings. I am the treasurer of my writing club, Eastwood Writers’ Group, and I also write and record Thoughts for the Day for Radio Nottingham. At church I sing in the choir and am an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, a reader, a flower arranger and a member of the fundraising team for Cafod, my favourite charity. I have written hymns, although I cannot read music. 

Join up with the author here:

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Blog Tour - When Winter Comes by V.A. Shannon

Today I'm part of the Mini Blog Tour for the wonderful historical novel - When Winter Comes by V. A. Shannon. Please welcome her to my blog and support her by buying the book if you like the sound of it and maybe follow her website.

I must confess I'm already a HUGE fan of this author having already read and reviewed this book some months ago. Its one of those books that stayed with me, haunted me you could say. I'd like to revisit my original review and draw it to your attention if you missed it first time around. Please note this same review is already posted on this blog dated July 2018.

My Review

Wonderful, epic, historical fiction, I loved it and couldn't put it down. I consider myself very fortunate to have been chosen as one of the recipients of a copy in advance of publication. My advance review copy is now well creased, as I read this remarkable novel in bed, on the bus and crammed it in my handbag to take to work, I was so engrossed in the story.

Quite recently I read another fictional book with a supernatural angle The Hunger (read my review here) based on the same true subject, the Donner party of pioneers who came to grief, back in the mid 19th century when thousands of brave and some plain foolhardy, folk set off with their wagon trains to cross the Sierra mountains from Cincinnati, headed West towards California to try and build a better life. What bravery, how hard it must have been in these days centuries before TripAdvisor and google maps and without even any real trail or markers to follow.

Both these books are wonderful, yet rather different accounts of the same true journey.

When winter comes is told in the intimate first person voice of a young woman who leaves her poverty stricken feckless and violent family home, following a series of mishaps.

The book begins in 1859 when our narrator is a rather sedate married woman, living a quiet life of domesticity bringing up her girls, meeting up with her friends at a quilting bee, and looking after her husband, Jacob, who presents her with a journal as a gift. As she begins to put pen to paper she is unsure what she will write about as every day is the same. But as soon as she begins, memories of her past come flooding back and memories she had suppressed clamour to be told.

In a series of flashbacks to 13 years earlier when she was just 15, we learn how she became involved with the fated journey of the infamous Donner party and her version of events unfolds in all its grim pathos. As winter halts the travellers in their tracks terrible choices have to be made which will scar her for life.

We watch her grow and change from quite a selfish young madam into a reliable and stoic young woman. This is a coming of age born of necessity and hardship that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

The descriptiveness of being part of a legendary journey in times gone by are painted with a deftness and utter plausibility, that makes the reader experience rather than merely read the story. It reads like a memoir and gives you an insight into a fictional characters' thoughts and actions around a true event.

It is captivating and harrowing by turn, beautifully thought out and well written with evidence of much in-depth research.

If you like historical fiction with literary quality and a whole host of characters all the more real for their flaws and foibles you'll LOVE this book, I did.

Find it on Amazon uk and
Amazon .com

The Blurb

In the voice of an unforgettable heroine, V.A. Shannon explores one of the most harrowing episodes in pioneer history—the ill-fated journey of the Donner Party—in a mesmerizing novel of resilience and survival. 

Mrs. Jacob Klein has a husband, children, and a warm and comfortable home in California. No one—not even her family—knows how she came to be out West thirteen years ago. Jacob, a kind and patient man, has promised not to ask. But if she were to tell her story, she would recount a tale of tragedy, mishaps, and unthinkable choices—yet also sacrifice, courage, and a powerful, unexpected love . . .

1846: On the outskirts of Cincinnati, wagons gather by the hundreds, readying to head west to California. Among the throng is a fifteen-year-old girl eager to escape her abusive family. With just a few stolen dollars to her name, she enlists as helpmate to a married couple with a young daughter. Their group stays optimistic in the face of the journey’s hazards and delays. Then comes a decision that she is powerless to prevent: Instead of following the wagon train’s established route, the Donner Party will take a shortcut over the Sierras, aiming to clear the mountains before the first snows descend. 

In the years since that infamous winter, other survivors have sold their accounts for notoriety and money, lurid tales often filled with half-truths or blatant, gory lies. Now, Mrs. Klein must decide whether to keep those bitter memories secret, or risk destroying the life she has endured so much to build . . .

About the author

I have been writing for years - mostly romantic comedies (see my novel, Prospero's Island, also on Amazon) but a few years ago I was accepted onto the prestigious Faber Academy writing course. I wanted to write something challenging. 
Thirty years ago when I lived in the USA I had come across the story of the Donner Party - which is an integral part of US pioneer history, but virtually unknown in the UK. 
There are numerous previous novels but they all seem to have been based on newspaper accounts of the time and various unreliable sources and, having trained as a lawyer, I thought that this evidence wasn't particularly reliable. 
So I set out to write an alternative version of events based on extensive research (and my own common sense). It's fiction, but based on very close examination of the evidence available. 

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Sunwise by Helen Steadman Review and Blog Tour

Sunwise by Helen Steadman

I was so very excited and thrilled when I was invited to review and join the blog tour for the new book by Helen Steadman, Sunwise, which is a follow up to her earlier work Widdershins which I adored and you can read my review of that here 

As well as loving her writing style, Helen hails from the North East of England where I am from and as her books are based around true historical local events, the Newcastle witch trials, they have a special appeal for me. The covers are pretty stunning too so these books have it all.

My Review of Sunwise

Sunwise is the sequel to the wonderful Widdershins and if you haven’t read that yet, it’s a must-read for your wishlist. Both these amazing books are based on true events, the Newcastle witch trials of the mid 17th century. 

I find it utterly terrifying to think about the women who were hounded by men and executed for trumped-up accusations of witchcraft and how Helen has managed to steel herself to do the research on this subject for her books leaves me in awe but she has done a superb job and is able to transport her readers to an age when it was dangerous not just to gather herbs and try to help others but merely to be a woman. Yet this is a compelling if shameful subject and Helen gives a voice to one such cruelly treated soul in the creation of her main female protagonist Jane whose story graces these pages.

She weaves a deliciously dark, completely riveting story around Jane, a young woman accused of witchcraft who escapes execution in the first book, despite her Mother not being so fortunate. We rejoin her in Sunwise several years later as her life plays out whilst involved in local traditions and celebrations making corn dollies whilst her little girl Rose plays with her poppet doll and makes her mothers life difficult whilst being her sole reason to keep going. The book is a simmering cauldron of  ancient lore superstitions and forbidden love.

Jane is a character I really warmed to and I was delighted to pick up her story again in Sunwise as she struggles to bring up Rose whilst at the same time coping with her marriage to a man who has tricked her, who she never really loved but who offered her support and respectability at a time she was desperate and believed her betrothed to be dead at sea. So many women across the centuries have been oppressed by men, married through necessity to men they really don’t love and had so little free choice and Jane was one of these women who nevertheless tries to do her best to retain a little independence.

But her former lover Tom turns up, alive and well and just as much in love with Jane as ever (and she with him) and the pair set in motion a plan destined to spell tragedy. Jane meanwhile continues to use her knowledge of herbs and potions learnt from her late "Wise Woman" Mother, to help women in dire straits and desperate. Her husband won’t have any truck with this and she has to keep her actions hidden, poor Jane with secrets to keep and much to hide.

Meanwhile in Berwick, hides cruel, obsessive Witch Finder John Sharpe, unstable and determined to eventually wreak vengeance on Jane and denounce her as a witch. Meanwhile he licks his wounds, and simmers with rage and buried lusts as he tries to revive his career as a witchfinder. Close to the Border with Scotland where he plans to try women as witches and begin his spiralling insane quest to rid Britain of women he believes are witches. But he is unhinged and unbalanced and his judgement leaves much to be desired and as he dwells in a humble Inn, temptation beckons and threatens to tip him over the edge he is already teetering on.

I couldn’t put this book down, it had my heart beating fast and my imagination fired up. But what I was led quite gently towards was a very unexpected shocking ending that rose up and left me weeping and shaken. In her footnotes at the end of the book the Author says she lightened up the book a little as her critique group suggested. Thank heavens I didn’t read the original even darker version, I’d have been undone. 

Unmissable and undeniably bewitching Sunwise is a must read for all lovers of women’s history with a soupcon of reality mixed in with an authors wonderful imagination and skill with words. As is often the case with such books it truly makes me grateful I live in the 21st century and not the 17th.

The Blurb

When Jane’s lover, Tom, returns from the navy to find her unhappily married to his betrayer, Jane is caught in an impossible situation. Still reeling from the loss of her mother at the hands of the witch-finder John Sharpe, Jane has no choice but to continue her dangerous work as a healer while keeping her young daughter safe.

But, as Tom searches for a way for him and Jane to be together, the witch-finder is still at large. Filled with vengeance, John will stop at nothing in his quest to rid England of the scourge of witchcraft.

Inspired by true events, Sunwise tells the story of one woman’s struggle for survival in a hostile and superstitious world.

Blog tour The Museum of Lost Love by Gary Barker a #Randomthings #BlogTour

Blog tour The Museum of Lost Love by Gary Barker a #Randomthings #BlogTour Hello blog readers and book lovers. Today I am joining in t...