#Spotlight & #Extract ~ Displaced by Tony Halker ~ Pre #History Literary #Fiction @tonyhalker

~~~ About The Book ~~~

In a landscape of pre-history, a time of ancestor worship, young Druid priests Owayne and Nial, are tasked to travel and learn all they can of rite and rule in a world of competing tribes, unsettling technologies and priest power.

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A Keeper by Graham Norton ~ Contemporary/Historical Fiction & Family Drama set in Ireland @grahnort #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Graham Norton

Narrated by Graham Norton

Released: October 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton

Category: Fiction, Contemporary, Historical, Family Drama, Book Review

The mystery of Elizabeth Keane’s father is one that has never been solved by the people of Buncarragh – not for lack of speculation.

Now, as Elizabeth returns to the village after her mother’s funeral, bringing with her own regrets and wounds, she finds a thin pile of ribbon-bound letters at the back of a wardrobe that may at last hold the key to her past.

It was the first week in January and Elizabeth Keane had flown from New York to Buncarragh after the death of her mother. Someone had to put her affairs in order and, while Elizabeth didn’t have particularly fond memories of Buncarragh, she felt guilty knowing she’d been all her mother had.

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The Lost Letters by Sarah Mitchell ~ Dual Timeline #Family #Saga reviewed for #RBRT @SarahM_writer @Bookouture

Author: Sarah Mitchell

Published: August 2018 by Bookouture

Category: Contemporary, Historical, Fiction, Dual Timeline, Book Review

Norfolk, 1940: Sylvia’s husband Howard has gone off to war, and she is struggling to raise her two children alone. Her only solace is her beach hut in Wells-Next-The-Sea, and her friendship with Connie, a woman she meets on the beach. The two women form a bond that will last a lifetime, and Sylvia tells Connie something that no-one else knows: about a secret lover… and a child.

Canada, present day: When Martha’s beloved father dies, he leaves her two things: a mysterious stash of letters to an English woman called ‘Catkins’ and directions to a beach hut in the English seaside town of Wells. Martha is at a painful crossroads in her own life, and seizes this chance for a trip to England – to discover more about her family’s past, and the identity of her father’s secret correspondent. Continue reading

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris ~ Historical Fiction based on a true story #WWII #Holocaust #FridayReads

Author: Heather Morris

Published: January 2018 by Zaffre

Category: Historical Fiction based on a true story, Love Story, WWII, Auschwitz, Holocaust, Book Review

The incredible story of the Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist and the woman he loved.

Lale Sokolov is well-dressed, a charmer, a ladies’ man. He is also a Jew. On the first transport from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942, Lale immediately stands out to his fellow prisoners. In the camp, he is looked up to, looked out for, and put to work in the privileged position of Tätowierer– the tattooist – to mark his fellow prisoners, forever. One of them is a young woman, Gita, who steals his heart at first glance.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is incredibly powerful and moving, all the more so for being the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov.

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The Red Hand Of Fury by @rnmorris ~ Historical Crime Fiction #GuestPost #Extract & #Giveaway @rararesources

Welcome to my stop on Rachel’s Random Resources blog tour for The Red Hand Of Fury. We have a guest post, extract and giveaway, but before I hand you over to R.N. Morris, who is going to introduce the main character, here’s a little about the book.

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Runaway by @authorpetermay ~ Dual TimeLine #HistoricalFiction #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Peter May

Performed by Peter Forbes

Released: December 2014 on Audible by Quercus

Category: Mystery, Murder, Crime, Historical, Audiobook, Book Review

In 1965, five teenage friends fled Glasgow for London to pursue their dream of musical stardom. Yet before year’s end three returned, and returned damaged. In 2015, a brutal murder forces those three men, now in their sixties, to journey back to London and finally confront the dark truth they have run from for five decades. 

Beginning with a murder in 2015, both murderer and victim’s identities initially unknown, it forces three friends to face the events that determined the path their lives would take fifty years ago.

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Entry Island by @authorpetermay ~ Complex and Emotional Dual Timeline #MurderMystery #Historical #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Peter May

Performed by Peter Forbes

Released on Audible: December 2013 by Quercus

Category: Historical, Contemporary, Murder, Mystery, Romance, Book Review

When Detective Sime Mackenzie boards a light aircraft at Montreal’s St. Hubert airfield, he does so without looking back. For Sime, the 850-mile journey ahead represents an opportunity to escape the bitter blend of loneliness and regret that has come to characterise his life in the city.

Travelling as part of an eight-officer investigation team, Sime’s destination lies in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Only two kilometres wide and three long, Entry Island is home to a population of around 130 inhabitants – the wealthiest of which has just been discovered murdered in his home.

Detective Sime (Sheem) Mackenzie is part of the murder investigation team sent to Entry Island, one of Les Îsles de la Madeleine archipelago in the Gulf of St Lawrence, from the Sûreté de Police.

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A House Divided (Munro #2) by @margaretskea1 #BookReview for #RBRT Historical Fact/Fiction #FridayReads

Author: Margaret Skea

Published: May 2017 by Corazon Books

Category: Historical, Saga, Fiction, Book Review

Eleven years on from the Massacre of Annock, the Cunninghame / Montgomerie truce is fragile.

For the Munro family, living in hiding under assumed names, these are dangerous times.

While Munro risks his life daily in the service of the French King, the spectre of discovery by William Cunninghame haunts his wife Kate. Her fears for their children and her absent husband realized as William’s desire for revenge tears their world apart.

Following on from Turn Of The Tide, A House Divided picks up the story of the Munro family several years after they were forced to fake their own deaths in a fire at their home, in order to escape the machinations of William Cunninghame, heir to the Earl of Glencairn.

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The Betrayal (Guernsey Novels Book 6) by Anne Allen #BookReview for #RBRT @AnneAllen21 #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Anne Allen

Published: October 2017 by Sarnia Press

Category: Contemporary, Historical, Romance, Crime, Book Review

Treachery and theft lead to death – and love

1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…

1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return. 

1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.

A story set in two different time periods, beginning in 1940s Guernsey when Teresa Bichard has been persuaded to leave Guernsey with her baby daughter, due to the expected invasion by the German army. Her husband Leo, is staying to look after the business and valuable items belonging to the family.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah #Audiobook

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

My first Throwback Thursday post was about a book by Kristin Hannah that sits on my bookshelf unread. This time I’m revisiting one I loved. Winter Garden. It was released on audio in 2010 and narrated by Susan Ericksen. Here’s my review.. Continue reading

Secrets: In the Shadows Lurks the Truth by Judith Barrow #ShortStories @barrow_judith #histfic

  • Author: Judith Barrow
  • Kindle Edition published June 2017
  • Category: Short Stories, Historical, Fiction, Book Review, Books, Reading

Ashford, home of the Howarth family, is a gritty northern mill town, a community of no-nonsense Lancashire folk, who speak their minds and are quick to judge. But how many of them are hiding secrets that wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of others?

This is a wonderful collection of short stories, focussing on characters from Judith Barrow’s Howarth family trilogy and giving a brief but heartfelt glimpse into some of their lives, pre saga. Including situations and misfortunes, some of which were brought about by the restrictions and expectations of the time, unmarried women who have no choice but to give up their baby and the cruelty meted out to a conscientious objector to name just a couple. Others which are sadly still relevant today, namely the victims of incest and rape.  Continue reading

The Mistress of Blackstairs by Catherine Curzon reviewed for #RBRT #HistFic @MadameGilflurt

  • Author: Catherine Curzon
  • Published: March 2017 by Endeavour Press
  • Category: Historical Fiction, Romance, Book Review, Reading

In 18th century Covent Garden, Madam Moineau, is the mistress of Blackstairs, an establishment catering to the finest clients in London.

The mysterious, always heavily veiled in public and very French Madam Moineau, Georgina Radcliffe in a former life, is the mistress of the hugely successful brothel, Blackstairs, in Covent Garden. It’s the winter of 1785 and Georgina’s life is about to be changed by two men. It’s almost ten years since, as Georgina, she was left for dead by her abusive husband and she hasn’t seen him since. Until he turns up at Blackstairs, about to be married and looking for a mistress he can set up for his exclusive pleasure. Continue reading

Irex by Carl Rackman ~ based on fact #BookReview for #RBRT @CarlRackman #Histfic #FridayReads

  • 51gv4vgjy-lAuthor: Carl Rackman
  • Published: September 2016 by Rackman Books
  • Category: Historical, Fiction, Drama
  • five-stars

In the harsh winter of December 1889, the sailing vessel Irex leaves Scotland bound for Rio de Janeiro. She carries three thousand tons of pig iron and just three passengers for what should be a routine voyage. But Captain Will Hutton discovers that one of his passengers hides a horrifying secret.

First of all, I have to say it’s hard to believe this is a debut novel. It’s so good and the quality of the writing is excellent throughout. The story is based in history, the ship, a couple of the main crew members, reason for the wreck and the attempts at rescue, are all fact. Carl Rackman has woven an incredibly imaginative and compelling tale around that tragic event. Continue reading

Ghost Variations: The Strangest Detective Story in Music by Jessica Duchen #RBRT @jessicaduchen #bookreview #FridayReads

  • 32053103Author: Jessica Duchen
  • Kindle Edition
  • Category: Historical, Fiction
  • five-stars

London, 1933. Dabbling in the once-fashionable “glass game” – a Ouija board – the famous Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Arányi is amazed to receive a message supposedly from the spirit of the great composer Robert Schumann, asking her to find and play his long-suppressed violin concerto.

Ghost Variations is created from real people and true events which occurred during their lives; history dramatised into a rich and enchanting narrative.

Jelly d’Arányi, the central character, is a renowned Hungarian violinist, living in 1930s London with her sister, Adila and her family. Jelly has been the muse for several famous composers and is dedicated to her music, to the exclusion of her personal life, especially since she lost the man she loved at the Battle of the Somme during WWI. The sisters have lived in London since Jelly was sixteen and now as she approaches her fortieth birthday, Jelly is aware she is (unfairly) considered past her prime as a musician.  Continue reading

The Replacement Chronicles by Harper Swan #TuesdayBookBlog #Prehistoric #HistFic @harperswan1 #RBRT

  • 33539455Author: Harper Swan
  • Published: December 2016 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Prehistorical Fiction
  • five-stars

Two Lives… separated by millennia but nevertheless linked irrevocably. 

What possible link could Mark Hayek, an introverted twenty-first century research scientist, have to Raven, a young healer who lived during the late Pleistocene? It has everything to do with an injured Neanderthal man taken captive by Raven’s band while he and his brothers were hunting bison. 

I read the first of the Replacement Chronicles, Raven’s Choice, in early 2015 and loved it. As that is included in this omnibus, I’ll add my thoughts from the previous review.

Mark Heyek from the Parkinson’s Institute is a research scientist working in the field of genetics. Having sent a saliva sample to Genetics and Me, Inc. for further research into Parkinson’s disease, and as lead collaborator, he is invited to attend a meeting. What follows is an amazing fictional, although based on scientific knowledge, look back at the genetics that make up modern man. Continue reading

Turn of the Tide (Munro #1) by Margaret Skea #HistFic #RBRT #FridayReads @margaretskea1

  • 41kchzt5uxlAuthor: Margaret Skea
  • Published: September 2015 (2nd Edition) by Sanderling
  • Category: Scottish Historical Fact/Fiction
  • four-stars

Old rivalries…new friendships…dangerous decisions. 

Set in 16th Century Scotland Munro owes allegiance to the Cunninghames and to the Earl of Glencairn. Trapped in the 150-year-old feud between the Cunninghames and the Montgomeries, he escapes the bloody aftermath of an ambush, but he cannot escape the disdain of the wife he sought to protect, or his own internal conflict.

Initially, I wasn’t too sure about this book. There are a lot of characters, and their allegiances, to keep track of, which I found it a little confusing at first. Writing them down as a quick reference helped as it’s not so easy to keep referring back on a kindle. The more I read, the easier it became and the story took hold. Set in Ayrshire in the sixteenth century it tells of a notorious feud that lasted almost two centuries, between the Montgomeries and the Cunninghames. In the middle of these two warring clans is Munro and his family. Munro owes his loyalty to the Cunninghames, even as he is ever more uncomfortable with their actions and behaviour, and his understandable failure to comprehend the reasoning behind the feud. Continue reading

Abandon by Blake Crouch @blakecrouch1 ~ #Thriller #Audiobook

  • 6049585Author: Blake Crouch
  • Performed by Luke Daniels
  • Released: September 2016, Published by Brilliance Publishing
  • Category: Time Slip Thriller, Crime, Suspense
  • four-half-stars

On Christmas Day in 1893, every man, woman, and child in a remote gold mining town disappeared, belongings forsaken, meals left to freeze in vacant cabins – and not a single bone was ever found. One hundred thirteen years later, two backcountry guides are hired by a history professor and his journalist daughter to lead them into the abandoned mining town, so they can learn what happened. 

The story begins in 1893 with a mule skinner arriving in Abandon to find a ghost town. He’d been there only two weeks ago delivering supplies and the town was thriving and full of activity. Now the streets were deserted with the snow laying in drifts. Then he sees a young girl with a revolver, and it’s the last thing he ever sees. Continue reading

The Secrets Amongst the Cypress ~ The House of Crimson & Clover Vol VIII by Sarah Cradit Family #Saga @thewritersarah

  • 31685273Author: Sarah M. Cradit
  • Kindle Edition
  • Category: Family Saga, Fantasy, Historical
  • five-stars

Amelia and Jacob have landed in a very familiar where. The when is a whole other matter.

Jacob’s first experience with time travel leaves him and Amelia stranded in 1861 Louisiana on the cusp of the Civil War. With no luggage and no invitation, they find themselves at the mercy of Charles and Brigitte Deschanel, who, for now, believe they are cousins visiting from abroad.

Secrets Among the Cypress, the eighth volume in the House of Crimson and Clover series follows the fortunes of Jacob and Amelia. As a result of horrifically tragic events and to escape more danger, Jacob transports himself and Amelia back in time, not certain where they will end up. Recovering from the disorientation they realise with incredulity they are at Ophélie, but a very different Ophélie than they know. Jacob and Amelia find themselves the uninvited guests of Charles and Brigitte Deschanel in pre Civil War Louisiana, the day of Ophélie Deschanel’s sixteenth birthday. Continue reading

La Petite Boulain (Above all Others; The Lady Anne #1) reviewed for #RBRT #Historical #Tudor

  • 29507218Author: G. Lawrence
  • Published: March 2016 by G. Lawrence
  • Category: Historical 
  • four-half-stars

May 1536, London… a fallen queen sits waiting in the Tower of London, condemned to death by her husband. As Death looms before her, Anne Boleyn, second queen of Henry VIII looks back on her life…from the very beginning. Daughter of a courtier, servant to queens… she rose higher than any thought possible, and fell lower than any could imagine. 

The story begins in the Tower of London where Anne Boleyn awaits her fate, contemplating those who died in the manner that now lies ahead for her. In return for HenryVIII’s promise of protection for her daughter, Anne signs her life away, admitting to all she is falsely accused of. Sleepless, determined not to panic and to die with dignity, Anne lets her thoughts wander back to her happy and carefree childhood at Hever Castle. Continue reading

Trouble In Nuala (The Inspector de Silva Mysteries Book 1) by Harriet Steel #RBRT Set in 1930s Ceylon

  • 51jn2a-wpblAuthor: Harriet Steel
  • Published: August 2016 by Stane Street Press
  • Category: Mystery, Historical
  • four-stars

When Inspector Shanti de Silva moves with his English wife Jane to his new post in the sleepy hill town of Nuala he anticipates a more restful life than police work in the big city entails.

The story is set in 1930’s Ceylon when it was still a British colony.  Inspector Shanti de Silva has left the big, bustling city of Colombo behind with no regrets. He and his English wife, Jane, an ex governess, have settled in the much more peaceful town of Nuala where de Silva runs the local police station with the aid of Sergeant Prasanna and Constable Nadar. Continue reading

Echoes of Time (Guernsey Novels #5) by Anne Allen ~ Family #Drama #Historical @AnneAllen21

  • 31321800Author: Anne Allen
  • Published: August 2016 by Sarnia Press
  • Category: Family Drama, Romance, Paranormal
  • four-half-stars

1940. Olive marries farmer Bill Falla. The Germans occupy Guernsey. 

All too soon Olive realises she’s made a mistake. 

Her life changes when she meets Wolfgang, a German officer – but there’s a price to pay. . . 

The story weaves between the WWII years in Guernsey and the island in the present day. Olive married Bill Falla in the spring of 1940. Although not in love with him she looks forward to the security of having her own house. She soon finds out marriage doesn’t come close to anything she hoped for. Bill is a brute and a bully, and Olive’s life is miserable, made even more so by the occupation of the island by German forces.  Continue reading

A Portal in Time by Claire Fullerton @cfullerton3 #BookReview #Romance in Carmel-by-the-Sea

  • 18849120Author: Claire Fullerton
  • Published: November 2013 by Vinspire Publishing LLC
  • Category: Romance, Paranormal
  • four-stars

Enigmatic and spirited Anna Lucera is gifted with an uncanny sixth-sense and is intrigued by all things mystical. When her green, cat-eyes and long, black hair capture the attention of a young lawyer named Kevin Townsend, a romance ensues which leads them to the hauntingly beautiful region of California’s Carmel-By-The-Sea where Anna is intuitively drawn to the Madeira Hotel.

A Portal in Time is set in the same location, the beautifully described Carmel-by-the-Sea, but two different time periods. It tells the story, in alternating chapters, of Anna and Kevin in the present and Valeria and Anders from the past, and how both couples meet and fall in love. The story opens with Valeria walking onto the beach, ‘listening to the fury of the wind as it intermittently drowned out the pulsing rhythm of the sea.’ And as she faced a particular spot in the water she declared it a portal in time. Continue reading

Playing With Fire by @tessgerritsen ~ #Historical/Present Day @jwdamron @justjuliawhelan #SundayBlogShare

Julia doesn’t understand what is happening to her daughter, but she thinks she knows what’s causing it. She is terrified for Lily, and for herself, but what scares her more is that no one believes her.

If she is going to help Lily, she will have to find the answers alone, embarking on a search that will take her to the shadowy back streets of Venice. 

There, Julia uncovers a heartbreaking, long-buried tale of tragedy and devastation – a discovery that puts her in serious danger. Some people will do anything in their power to keep the truth silent . . .

Playing With Fire is two interwoven stories from different times. Julia Ansdell is a professional violinist living in present day America with her husband, Rob and three-year old daughter, Lily. While on a visit to Rome Julia finds an old book of music in an antique shop, which contains a hand written piece of music; a waltz entitled Incendio, composed by L Todesco. As she reads the music, desperate to test the notes on her violin, she knows she must have it. Continue reading

#FridayFiveChallenge ~ Ice by Kevin Tinto #Thriller @rosieamber1

Rosie Amber’s Friday Five Challenge, involves taking only five minutes to choose a book cover which appeals instantly. So take a few minutes, grab yourself a coffee…..and have a browse.

FFC

This fun feature is a mini workshop. We look at book covers just from their thumbnail pictures at online selling book sites and make quick fire buying decisions. We look from a READERS Point of View and this exercise is very EYE OPENING.

From the book cover we will browse the book description, price and some of the reviews BUT we only have 5 MINUTES.

WE PLAY POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS

Join in and see where it leads.

Grab a coffee and spend 5 Minutes on this exercise.

Here’s the challenge

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book,

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

(then write a little analysis about your decision) blog about it, tweet it with #FridayFiveChallenge @rosieamber1 and I’ll help share.

It’s so cold at the moment without any of the perks; no winter sun or crisp, frosty mornings – just an icy wind that cuts right through numerous layers. So with that in mind I put Ice into the search and found this…. Continue reading

The Calling of the Raven

  • 22401396Author: Jenny Lloyd
  • Published: June 2014 by lulu.com
  • Category: Historical Fiction
  • five-stars

The Calling of the Raven is the sequel to the acclaimed novel, Leap the Wild Water, and continues Megan’s quest for acceptance, autonomy, and unconditional love. Megan is resolved to tell Eli of the affair she had before they married and of her illegitimate daughter, Fortune, which her brother, Morgan, and Mam stole from her to save the family from shame. Before Megan has a chance to tell Eli, her plans are scuppered by a chance meeting with her old lover; the ne’er-do-well, Iago. Megan’s life again takes a turn for the worse and there seems to be no mending the damage Iago has caused. 

This is the incredible sequel to Leap The Wild Water. I loved the first book and this one is just as compelling and moving. Megan, keeping her secret, has married Eli Jenkins but decides to tell him after Morgan brings Fortune home. Before she can say anything Eli finds out in worst possible way. His fury knows no bounds and Megan doesn’t recognise the man she married. The housekeeper, Gwen, hands in her notice leaving Megan to manage the farm alone. Megan’s life becomes a terrible ordeal as she is subjected to cruel taunts and torment by Eli and the new dairy maid, Branwen. By their behaviour towards each other it’s obvious to Megan that Eli and Branwen are not strangers. Continue reading

The Visitant ~ A Venetian Ghost Story

  • Audiobook ReviewTheVisitant
  • Author: Megan Chance
  • Performed by Julia Whelan
  • Published: September 2015 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
  • four-stars

After she nearly ruins her family with a terrible misstep, Elena Spira is sent to Venice to escape disgrace and to atone by caring for the ailing Samuel Farber. But the crumbling and decaying Ca’ Basilio palazzo, where Samuel is ensconced, holds tragic secrets, and little does Elena know how profoundly they will impact her. Soon she begins to sense that she is being watched by something. And when Samuel begins to have hallucinations that make him violent and unpredictable, she can’t deny she’s in mortal danger.

Elena Spira is sent to Venice by her father to nurse Samuel Farber, a man from a wealthy family, who was badly beaten while in Rome. He is the guest of his good friend, Nero Basilio, who owns the Casa Basilio, while he recuperates. He also has epilepsy, which Elena is under instruction to keep secret from all at the Casa. In those days the condition was misunderstood and deemed to have it’s roots in insanity. Continue reading

Living In The Shadows

  • Layout 1Author: Judith Barrow
  • Published: July 2015 by Honno Welsh Women’s Press
  • Category: Historical Fiction
  • five-stars

It’s 1969 and Mary Schormann is living quietly in Wales with her ex-POW husband, Peter, and her teenage twins, Richard and Victoria.
Her niece, Linda Booth, is a nurse – following in Mary’s footsteps – and works in the maternity ward of her local hospital in Lancashire.
At the end of a long night shift, a bullying new father visits the maternity ward and brings back Linda’s darkest nightmares, her terror of being locked in. Who is this man, and why does he scare her so?
There are secrets dating back to the war that still haunt the family, and finding out what lies at their root might be the only way Linda can escape their murderous consequences.

The third and final part of the trilogy picks up the story in the late 1960’s and concentrates on the next generation. Peter and Mary Schormann are still living in Wales with their teenage twins, Richard and Victoria. Richard has gone into medicine, taking after his father, and not letting his hearing problems hinder his career or his life. He is staying with his aunt and uncle in Ashford while he attends interviews for the university hospital in Manchester. He’s rescued from a potentially dangerous situation by Karen Worth who proves to be a catalyst in the story. Continue reading

The Highlander ~ Rise of the Aztecs #1

  • HighlanderAuthor: Zoe Saadia
  • Kindle Edition
  • Category: Historical, Fiction
  • five-stars

Born in the Highlands, Kuini thought his life was simple. You hunt and you fight, defending your towns against the raids of the Lowlanders and then raiding their lands in turn. His father was the Warriors’ Leader, and he wanted to be just like him. 

Yet, Texcoco, the mighty Capital of the Lowlands, seemed incredibly beautiful, sparkling, its pyramids magnificent. A friendship with the Lowlander boy, the First Son of the Texcoco Emperor, seemed harmless in the beginning. They were just boys, and their clandestine meetings were always fun, providing great entertainment. 

However, on the day Kuini agrees to finally enter the magnificent city, it would all change. He expected to get into trouble, but he could not foresee the extent of the trouble and, worst of all, he did not expect to uncover hidden secrets concerning his own family.

The Rise of the Aztecs follows on from the pre Aztec series and the story picks up in 1409 with two boys from vastly differing backgrounds. Coyotl, a Lowlander, first son of the Emperor and Kuini, a Highlander and son of the War Leader from Huexotzinco. The boys meet by chance on Coyotl’s favourite hill which overlooks his altepetl, Texcoco, the capital of the Acolhua people. A growing friendship develops, both expressing interest in the other’s customs and culture. The story is told from each of their perspectives as they begin meeting in secret.  Continue reading

Friday Five Challenge ~ Buy or Pass ~ Why the Whales Came by Michael Morpurgo

Rosie Amber’s Friday Five Challenge, involves taking only five minutes to choose a book cover which appeals instantly. So take a few minutes, pour yourself a coffee…..and have a browse

274243-20150508

In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions from small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

My Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book, and any other details.

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

Before I’d got very far in my search for children’s books (I’m starting to build up a little library for my grandson), this one caught my attention… Continue reading

The Cunning Woman’s Cup

  • CunningWomanAuthor: Sue Hewitt
  • Published: March 2014 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction with a touch of Paranormal and Historical
  • five-stars

When Alice McCleish’s gardener Brian unearths an object of great archaeological significance deep under the compost heap it is not only Alice and her burgeoning friendship with Margaret Allerton, retired Professor of Anthropology, that are affected: the family, friends and neighbours of Alice, who people the narrative, are also touched by subsequent events. Alice and Margaret find themselves questioning long-held beliefs about the material and spiritual world that surrounds them; and both women find their lives transformed unalterably by their newfound companionship. 

The book opens with a haunting flashback to a period in pre Romanic Britain where we meet Mordwand of the Brigantes (the cunning woman), who survived being aborted and was raised by a wolfhound. After the hound died Mordwand became ‘the eyes and ears’ of the healer who aborted her, and learned what she could from the old woman until old age took her as well, and Mordwand found herself alone once more. Short, intriguing and sometimes distressing passages from her life begin each chapter and I love how these chart the significance of certain items, as well as the history of the stones.  Continue reading

Guest Post by Author Margaret K Johnson ~ A Nightingale in Winter

To celebrate the release of her new novel, A Nightingale in Winter, a historical romance set in WWI, I’m very happy to welcome Margaret to BetweenTheLines with the remarkable story of how her novel eventually found its way to the publisher.

Over to you, Margaret….

The publication of my novel A Nightingale in Winter by Omnific Publishing on 24 August is proof that it is never too late, and that it’s a good idea to keep everything you write.

I finished writing A Nightingale in Winter in the late 1990s – it had taken me two years to complete, fitting it around a busy a full-time job as a student adviser in a Nottingham Further Education College. My evenings followed the same routine – I would come in, get changed and have a cat nap. After that, I would prepare a meal and supercharge myself with a large cup of coffee and a glass of wine. Then I would write for around two hours. A Nightingale in Winter is the story of a volunteer nurse during the First World War, so naturally I needed to do some research too, and I used my holidays from work to do this, visiting the Imperial War Museum to read original diaries and letters. In short, I invested a huge amount of effort, time and faith in Nightingale Continue reading

Friday Five Challenge ~ The Salem Witch Society by KN Shields #FridayFiveChallenge #BuyorPass #Historical

Rosie Amber’s Friday Five Challenge, involves taking only five minutes to choose a book cover which appeals instantly. So take a few minutes, pour yourself a coffee…..and have a browse.

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In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions from small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

My Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book, and any other details.

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

I put Salem in the search, just because I regret not going when I had the chance, and this cover caught my eye… Continue reading

The Jaguar Warrior/The Warriors Way ~ Pre Aztec

The Jaguar Warrior ~ Pre Aztec #2

  • JaguarWarriorAuthor: Zoe Saadia
  • Publication Date: December 2013
  • Category: Historical Fiction
  • five-stars

The growing Aztec capital is unhappy under the stern rule of their Tepanec overlords.
Having tried every political trick, Acamapichtli, the wise and vigorous ruler of the Aztecs, is about to seek an unusual solution.
When the delegation of the Tepanec elite warriors arrives at his island-city in order to enlist Aztec warriors, he seizes his chance, unleashing a series of adventures for our Tepanec heroes.

Ten years have passed and the Chief Warlord’s son, Atolli, has grown up, although still unpredictable and hotheaded. Atolli and his childhood friends, Mecatl and Cuatl, as part of a delegation of elite Tepanec warriors, have travelled to the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan in order to recruit warriors for their raids. Tenochtitlan is under the rule of the Tepanec overlords of Azcapotzalco and it’s Emperor. The Aztecs themselves reap no rewards from the raids and are kept in deprivation. Continue reading

A West Cork Mystery

  • WestCorkAuthor: Roy McCarthy
  • Published: February 2015 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Contemporary, Historical, Mythical.
  • four-stars

A young American couple fall in love with an old house in the Irish countryside. They buy it, but get more than they bargained for. The youngest child of the Fitzgerald family suddenly disappears in 1946, but does his ghost still wander the rooms? And can it be that the fairies, the good folk of Irish myth, live on in this lonely corner of the Emerald Isle? Miranda Hunter is determined to release the young Jonno’s spirit and save her marriage, if she can.

The story revolves around an old house in County Cork and begins during the Irish War of Independence in 1920 with a visit from the West Cork Brigade of the IRA to the then owner of Dunmurry House. Fast forward to present day and recently married Americans, Miranda and Joe Hunter, are holidaying in Ireland. Miranda falls in love with the old house, even in it’s obvious state of disrepair, and can’t get it out of her mind. Persuading Joe to try a more laid back lifestyle in rural Ireland they put in an offer for the house.

Back home in Massachusetts Miranda had begun to forget about the house until a call came from the estate agent. The house was theirs if they wanted it. The call rekindled Miranda’s interest, repairs and renovations were carried out and Joe and Miranda moved into Dunmurry House.

The story traces the many incarnations of the house and the unexplained disappearances, happenings and deaths over the years. The Fitzgeralds, who lived there in the 1940s and sold up when their youngest son, Jonno, went missing. From the Murphy sisters who bought the house a couple of years later to the present day. The house had also been a home for ‘wayward girls’ which presented quite a chilling and archaic description of life, especially since it was as recent as the 1970s. 

Girls and young women were sent there by the county council and indeed sometimes by their own families. They had fallen pregnant outside marriage or had otherwise been judged immoral and unfit to live alongside decent people.

The Hunter’s nearest neighbour, Padraig, is not at all what he seems. Nor was the house as Miranda realises there is something there besides herself and Joe. And as the compulsion to find out more grips Miranda, her fixation drives her and Joe further and further apart as, at the same time, it brings the remaining members of another family together.

With leprechauns, fairies, a fairy fort; Tir-na-Nog and the battle between the Firbolgs and the Tuatha De Dannan, Ireland’s history, myths and legends are incorporated into a very enjoyable story. Great cover too, very atmospheric.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

Author links ~ Website, Twitter

The Great Law Of Peace ~ The Peacemaker Series #3

  • TheGreatLawofPeaceAuthor: Zoe Saadia
  • Kindle Edition
  • Category: Historical, Native American
  • five-stars

To survive the test of the falls was only the first step. Climbing the tree and letting them chop it down, falling straight into the worst of the rapids, gained him their attention, made them listen. But the main part of his work was still ahead of Two Rivers and his most loyal follower, Tekeni. The task of organizing the people as a whole, of making them talk to their hostile, warlike neighbors, demanded time, too much time. 
Their private desires had to wait as they traveled to more places, convened more gatherings, convinced more nations. The Great Peace demanded their full attention. 

Following the test of the falls, the miracle of Two Rivers’ survival and the struggle to convince the clans that living together in unity is the answer to their problems, at last they are ready to listen and agree to the message of peace. Two Rivers’ capability and patient self-control is rewarded. The clans realise the time for change is upon them, their hunger and desperation fueling the decision, and the knowledge that Two Rivers’ goal is the last chance for them to change their fortunes.

So with the message received well, Two Rivers and Teneki, along with a group of supporters, travel back to the Onondaga people to convince them to join the alliance. It proves as difficult as they expected. Tadodaho, the war chief of Onondaga town, is far from interested in a message of peace. He is feared among his people and suspected of  having evil powers. An opportune natural phenomenon, the like of which Two Rivers, or anyone else, had never seen occurs to lend weight to his words as he is regarded with awe.

Meanwhile Seketa, who has taken to spending time on Two Rivers’ favourite cliff, realises how he must have felt and why he enjoyed the solitude away from the disapproval and intolerance of the town. She makes a momentous decision.

And the Frozen Season was only some moons away, she realised suddenly, her heart missing a beat. If Tekeni didn’t hurry, she would be forced to spend yet another dreadful winter here, with no favourite cliff and no privacy…….

…..And another thing was sure, too. She would not stay here to endure another winter. Not if she could help it.

Onheda also has an insight into the reality of her situation, as she sees it, when she hears some news from travelling warriors at Jikonsahseh’s camp. Frustrated at her forced inactivity she decides to act.

“I want to find Hionhwatha. I want to help him. I know I can’t do much, but I think, at this point, he needs all the help he can get.”

Feeling stronger and calmer, she smiled reassuringly. “I will be back, and when…when the Messenger comes, tell him I went away to help.”

So, both Seketa and Onheda settle on a plan of action, having waited long enough, and begin their own journeys to find and help their men. They are full of courage, strength of character and have lost patience with standing by and doing nothing. Neither of them have any idea how desperate a situation they will find themselves in.

This story kept me in suspense wondering how it would play out. Will Two Rivers’ crusade cost him the woman he loves and is Seketa’s determination and spirit enough to find Teneki. Although the main thrust of the story is the peace process, which is incredible, I did like the added personal aspect which just gave a heightened sense of feeling to the story and that, along with the ending, is very emotional. The characters are wonderful and their development is brilliant, especially Teneki, grown now into a formidable warrior.

Another excellent instalment of the Great Peacemaker’s initiation of the Great League of the Iroquois. I just love the way Zoe Saadia breathes life into this amazing story, it’s a fascinating and refreshing change, and because this period of history is new to me, the different nations and their lifestyle, customs and culture are a revelation. 

My thanks to Zoe Saadia for this review copy.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

Author links ~ Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Two Rivers ~ The Great Peacemaker Series #1

  • TwoRiversAuthor: Zoe Saadia
  • Kindle Edition
  • Category: Historical Fiction, Native American
  • four-half-stars

Rosie's Book Review Challengers 1

My thanks to Zoe Saadia for sending me a copy of the book for review as part of Rosie Amber’s book review team.

Having survived the failed raid on the enemy lands, Tekeni had no illusions. He was nothing but an enemy cub, adopted into one of the clans, but not accepted, never for real. To fit in was difficult, to run away – impossible. To get into trouble, more often than not, was the only available option. They did not expect anything else from him, anyway.
However, when a meaningless row during a ballgame grew out of proportion, resulting in a fight, Tekeni has found himself in a truly grave trouble. Neither he nor anyone else could have foreseen the chain of events the consequences of this fight would release, when the highly esteemed but controversial Two Rivers decided to help Tekeni out.

Set in twelfth century upstate New York and South Eastern Canada, the story centres around three main protagonists. Tekeni, who was taken captive and adopted into the Wolf Clan after his father was killed, but has always been considered an outsider. He finds an ally in Two Rivers, an enigma among his people and also on the fringes of his society. I love the way Two Rivers is portrayed and the way his feelings and thoughts which he’s not afraid to express, along with the doubts and resistance against the prophecy, are described. 

Two Rivers knows the time for change is fast approaching, and questioning his people’s need to war with each other he advocates a more peaceful existence. The clans are stuck in an endless cycle of fighting with nothing to show for it. Even so, the majority of the clans dislike and distrust what they perceive as Two Rivers’ extremist ideas and principles. 

For the first time through the afternoon, Two Rivers’ eyes sparkled dangerously. “You will not tell me what to talk about and where. My ideas may be strange to you, but they make perfect sense, if only you and your likes would deign to actually listen instead of closing your mind to simple good sense.” He shrugged. “And, anyway, I talked no politics. All I did was simply point out that this boy should be treated fairly, as one of us. He has been adopted formally, at the request of the Wolf Clan’s Council. According to our ancient laws and customs, which you are so fond of bringing up every time I suggest a slightest change, it makes him one of us, his origins notwithstanding…

Tekeni’s real troubles begin when a fight with a cowardly bully results in serious injury and Tekeni is compelled to atone with a task unheard of for any lone person never mind someone so young. Two Rivers’ choice to assist Tekeni further alienates him from most other members of the clans. 

Tekeni is very taken with the beautiful Seketa, a young girl of the Turtle Clan who proves to be both brave and resourceful, but the path of true love does not run smoothly and Two Rivers, Tekeni and Seketa fight almost overpowering odds as they each begin to realise the inevitability of their futures. 

I really enjoyed this first of the Peacemaker series, the man who was destined to form the constitution of The Great League of the Iroquois is an intriguing character and I look forward to following his story. The life and distinct culture of the Native American clans is brought to life vividly and realistically by Zoe Saadia, their politics, everyday life and struggles. Along with the dramas, jealousies and rivalries that can escalate into dangerous situations, showcasing others’ loyalty and courage. There’s some great action and a lovely budding romance.

The basis of the story is obviously very well researched and it combines the facts with an entertaining and enjoyable narrative and the three main characters are strong, very likeable and well defined, drawn with insight and warmth. The fascinating beginning of the Peacemaker’s journey is a really great read.

About the author

ZoeSaadiaZoe Saadia is the author of several novels of pre-Columbian Americas. 

Having researched various pre-contact cultures of this continent for more than a decade, she is convinced that it’s a shame that such a large part of history was completely overlooked, by historical fiction most of all. 

Both Americas has an extremely rich, diverse, fascinating history long before this continent was discovered by other civilizations. 
So her professional motto is set. America has not been discovered, not yet. Not in her novels 🙂

Please click on the book cover for Amazon UK and here for Amazon US. Zoe can also be found on Twitter and Facebook

The Running Boy

  • IMG_2382Author: Joel Toombs
  • Published: December 2014 by Joel Toombs Publishing
  • Category: Young Adult, Historical
  • three-half-stars

 

Against the cruel backdrop of scenes no man should have to face, The Running Boy picks out glimmers of what every young man must face, weaving masterful threads of hope and redemption between the carnage and brokenness of the First World War.

Many thanks to Joel for sending me a copy for review purposes.

Howie Lambert and his friends, Freddy and Polly, live in the coastal town of Whitby, Yorkshire, with the moors, cliffs and the ruins of St Hilda’s Abbey as their playground. Howie is a quiet boy who likes reading and writing poetry. He’s vulnerable and introspective, which is not helped by his father’s stern and disciplinarian attitude.  

‘If granddad used the belt and father turned out this way then maybe belts should be kept for trousers’.

The first real change to Howie’s relatively carefree younger years comes with the threat of war and his brother joining the army. Howie is sixteen in 1914 when Whitby is attacked by German warships and Freddy’s house, along with others in the street, are destroyed. Freddy’s mother is caught in the blast. Freddy fuels his grief with anger against the Germans and determines to enlist in the army, talking Howie into joining with him. Polly, eager to escape her abusive uncle, grabs her chance to leave with the boys. The friends are separated on their way to France and Howie is alone on his journey into the unknown.

The story follows Howie’s journey to France and the unimaginable horrors he finds there. Terrified and longing for home he faces the ordeals of war along with the end of his boyhood. Witnessing the fighting and being ordered to do things no-one should ever have to face, much less a boy, Howie has to grow up quickly. His feelings and thoughts are dealt with sympathetically. The scenes on the battlefields and in the trenches are described in convincing detail, made all the worse because of their truth. 

Pops had sat there in the smelly slurry of the trench floor for half an hour rocking gently with Chipper still in his arms before they could persuade him to let go. Then Howie had suddenly looked over and seemed to recognise where he was.

They were amazed as he crawled over on his hands and knees through the slime and lay next to them; where he rested his head on Chipper’s chest, as if checking for a heartbeat. He cried. For a long time he quietly wept – with Pops crying too.

Just when it’s all getting much too overwhelming and Howie is almost at breaking point, his life takes an unexpected turn as he is given an order regarding the cavalry horses which are treated as just more casualties of the war. As he struggles to obey his orders Howie is allowed a glimpse into another world which gives him hope for his future.

Very well written and researched and I like very much how Howie is portrayed. My only niggle was the tone of some of the  dialogue which left me unconvinced. I felt it could have had more authenticity and this did pull me out of the story a little. That aside, it’s a really good book for the Young Adult genre, showcasing as it does, a boy’s struggles from adolescence into premature manhood under the direst of circumstances.

About the author

JoelToombsJoel Toombs, born in Kenya of missionary parents has degree in Architecture from Sheffield University. In 2014 he also graduated from Cliff College (University of Manchester) with an MA in Mission (Emerging Church & Christian Mentoring). In between these studies he spent 10 years in full time Christian youth work and helped set up and run several charities. He is now an Artist Development Manager for Resound Media in Sheffield, a record label for whom he mentors and promotes upcoming musicians and bands.

Joel has been a regular freelance contributor to ‘Youthwork’ Magazine since 2008 writing articles, resources, reviews and a Mentoring column. Other articles have been published in Outdoor Fitness, Christianity, Plexus and a number of blogs including 24- 7prayer.com. He has also had a booklet published by Grove Books Ltd. (to be released January 2015) ‘Mentoring and Young People.’

Find out more about Joel on Facebook and Twitter

The Spring Of Kasper Meier ~ Review and Competition

  • TheSpringofKasperMeierAuthor: Ben Fergusson
  • Published: January 2015 by Abacus
  • Category: Historical, Fiction
  • four-stars

The war is over, but Berlin is a desolate sea of rubble. There is a shortage of everything: food, clothing, tobacco. The local population is scrabbling to get by. Kasper Meier is one of these Germans, and his solution is to trade on the black market to feed himself and his elderly father. He can find anything that people need, for the right price. Even other people.

Many thanks to Emily Burns at LittleBrown and Co for sending me a copy for review.

Set in Berlin in post war 1946, with everything in extremely short supply, Kasper Meier trades information and deals in goods for the black market in order to keep himself and his elderly, sick father alive. He lives in one room in a half bombed out building where he secretes anything and everything that might be even remotely saleable. Kasper is despised for being homosexual, still illegal at the time, and tries to be as inconspicuous as possible. But when he is visited by one of the rubble women, Eva, a young girl who wants help finding information about a British pilot, he is drawn into a deadly web of intrigue.

‘I need someone’s help and no one will help me. I’ve got ways of paying for it, but still no one wants to take it on and you’re my last hope. What I’m saying is that I’ll make you a deal. You help me and I’ll pay you – simple as that. It’s no big issue for you. And if the payment isn’t enough of an incentive I promise not to….Well, you know – report you and Herr Neustadt.’

Kasper clucked his tongue  and scratched the side of his nose. ‘Blackmail is a very ugly business, Fräulein Hirsch.’

Berlin is a devastated, rubble strewn and dangerous city where the inhabitants struggle to survive, living by their wits. Some work clearing the rubble, others trade their bodies. Corruption is rife, lawlessness prevalent and soldiers thought guilt of rape are being found murdered. 

Frau Beckmann, a shadowy and elusive figure, who seems to control many of the girls, including Eva Hirsch, knows Kasper’s secret and is blackmailing him into finding the information she seeks. Despite fearing for his own life, Kasper feels afraid and sorry for Eva, and determines to find out what he can about Frau Beckmann and what her hold over the girls is. The more Kasper digs, the more sinister things appear. Nothing is as it seems and Kasper is drawn ever deeper into Beckmann’s machinations and the ensuing menace.

Initially, Kasper Meier seems to be a cold, unlikable and austere character, the description of a tall, lanky and bony man with an unsettling thickness of his straight, white hair, that despite brushing and trimming, stuck up in heavy tufts, yellowing slightly at the fringe, where the smoke from his cigarette curled up after staining the parts of his fingers that weren’t already blackened.’  Not to mention ‘his right eye, which was milky white and immobile. What had once been a shining black pupil, surrounded by a bright green iris, was now a faded blue stain beneath a smooth misty blue layer, like cooked egg white.’

As the story progresses however, the complexity and compassion of Kasper’s character begins to emerge, along with insights into the suffering and horror of his past life. There are ever deeper glimpses of the sad, hurting and kind-hearted man underneath the veneer. This is an intensely graphic and atmospheric account of life in a very bleak and war-torn Berlin, the desolation, the desperation and hopelessness of half-starved people who will do whatever it takes to survive, extremely apparent in Ben Fergusson’s very descriptive writing. 

Being slightly critical, I did feel the story was perhaps a little too drawn out and quite hard to follow in the first part of the book, and overall could maybe have done with slightly fewer than it’s almost 400 pages. After that, though, the pace and storyline pick up and with it the tension and emotion. There’s no compromise in the harrowing depiction of life and atrocities of a city destroyed and its people broken by war. It’s a very moving story, quite compelling, encompassing what must have been a huge amount of extensive historical research.

BenFergussonAbout the author

Ben Fergusson is a writer, editor and translator. Born in Southampton in 1980, he studied English Literature at Warwick University and Modern Languages at Bristol University, and has worked for ten years as an editor and publisher in the art world.

His short fiction has appeared in publications in both the UK and the US and has won and been shortlisted for a range of prizes, including the 2010 Bridport Prize. From 2009-2010 he edited the literary journal Chroma and since 2013 has been the editor of the short story magazine Oval Short Fiction. Currently based in London, his first novel, The Spring of Kasper Meier, was written during a four-year period living and working in Berlin.

Ben can also be found on Twitter

Please click on the book cover to be taken to Amazon UK, the book may also be purchased from Amazon US

Competition

The Spring of Kasper Meier is a gripping thriller set in a surreal and terrifying post-war Berlin, where nothing is quite what it seems. To celebrate publication of Ben Fergusson’s unforgettable debut, Little, Brown are running a ‘treasure hunt’ on twitter – with a prize of a weekend in Berlin up for grabs, as well as copies of the book.

The hunt starts on Monday 12th January, and runs all of this week. To take part in the hunt, you need to find four items that are featured in the book. Every day this week, a new item will be hidden on one these brilliant blogs:

Monday – www.workshyfop.blogspot.co.uk

Wednesday – www.betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Thursday – www.booksmonthly.co.uk

Friday – www.wondrousreads.com

Just find the picture of the item, save it, then tweet it with the #KasperMeier. We’ll pick five winners every day to get a free copy, and then one winner will be chosen at the end of the week for the weekend in Berlin!

PB KM visual 2 for Cathy

Stalemate

 

Stalemate Tour Banner

  • IMG_2388-1Author: Alan Hamilton
  • Published: July 2014 by Silverwood Books
  • Category: Crime/Mystery/Suspense, Historical
  • four-half-stars

Summer 1930 and Walter Bruce is told he has a terminal disease. With nursing care and an easier job he could have five more years. With neither he may not see out the year. But he’s got a wife to keep – one too selfish and idle to be his nurse.

This novel is woven intricately around facts based on an actual, seemingly senseless and violent unsolved murder case from the 1930’s. Walter Bruce is an insurance salesman in a loveless marriage. He is diagnosed with a terminal illness and at the same time acquires evidence his wife has not only deceived him about her past all the years he’s known her, but has also been unfaithful. He formulates a plan to allow him to live out his remaining years in comfort, with the nursing and care he knows will not be forthcoming from his wife. There is no turning back. Bruce’s chess player’s mind devises the details of a plan and as that plan slowly unravels he must accept the terrible consequences of his actions.

The main protagonist is very difficult to like, yet at the same time, given his lifestyle and home life, there is a small amount of pity mixed in with the aversion. There are many restrictions in the between-the-wars world of lower to middle class Liverpool, but to dispassionately plot his wife’s murder and involve two other, equally distasteful characters, shows quite a calculating and cold nature. 

The ability to plan and deliberately kill someone was not an accomplishment you could learn, like chess or the violin. When the intended victim was close to you, someone you lived with, it called for a hardness of heart, insensitivity to pity, indifference to suffering and denial of the sanctity of human life. You might have the idea but if you didn’t have these qualities you’d never progress beyond that. The point was though, he knew he did have them; had always had them. 

The courtroom scenes are described in detail and, although at times I was overwhelmed with the specifics and technicalities, I appreciate the painstaking research and work that has gone into, not only this aspect, but the whole. Bruce’s feelings throughout are defined so vividly I almost felt I was the one in court. How very frightening to be in that position, especially knowing the evidence was being manipulated. Bruce thought he had orchestrated the ‘perfect murder’ and was totally unprepared for the final verdict, actually believing himself innocent of the specific charge of murder.

This fictional reconstruction of a classic, unsolved mystery is revised to reflect the possible scenario of Bruce plotting his wife’s murder and written with much of the original events and evidence, as the author states in his note at the end of the book…..’Much in the preceding pages follows the details of that case very closely, to the point that some of the dialogue is lifted directly from what was reported as having been said during the events, and, in particular from the then Liverpool City Police Force, and transcripts of the committal, trial and appeal court proceedings in the real Wallace case.’

As in the original case, there seems to all outside intents and purposes, no motive for the crime and only circumstantial evidence against the accused. As for the real-life murder, only William Herbert Wallace would be able to tell the truth of what happened in Anfield, Liverpool in 1931.

Many thanks to Alan Hamilton and JB Johnson at Brook Cottage Books for sending me a copy for review.

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About the author

alan2Alan Hamilton finds that real events, where there is 
a mystery or something unexplained, leave so much to the imagination they give the writer of fiction license to make it up. At heart he’s a conspiracy theorist though his head tells him accident is usually more likely – albeit far less interesting. As an antidote to the urge to write creatively, Alan is 
a publisher’s editor for non-fiction, academic books and journal articles. He lives by the sea in the South West of the UK. His hobbies are cooking and cryptic crosswords in the national newspapers, winning first prize twice in ten years.

You can find Alan on his website, Twitter and Facebook

Spare Change (The Wyattsville Series)

  • sparechange-1400px-copy-2Author: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Published: November 2013 by Bent Pine Publishing
  • Category: Historical Fiction
  • four-half-stars

Olivia Westerly is the only person Ethan Allen can trust, and he’s not too sure he can trust her. She’s got no love of children and a truckload of superstitions–one of them is the belief that eleven is the unluckiest number on earth. Olivia avoided marriage for almost forty years. But when Charlie Doyle happened along, he was simply too wonderful to resist. Now she’s a widow with an eleven-year-old boy claiming to be her grandson.

 

Set in the 1950s Spare Change is a story from differing viewpoints. Olivia Westerly is quite happy being independent and living on her own, working at the telephone exchange. With no desire to get married, much less have children, her life continues comfortably in the same way it has for years. Until, that is, she meets Charlie Doyle. It doesn’t take long for Charlie to woo her and almost before she knows what’s happened they are married and Olivia is happier than she ever thought possible. But Charlie dies on their honeymoon and Olivia is inconsolable.

Ethan Allen is eleven years old living with his parents on a farm. His mama, Susannah, is flighty and totally undomesticated, she just wants to go to New York City to be a singer, it’s all she talks about. But Ethan’s daddy, Benjamin, has no intention of allowing it. Between the fighting, making up and general disregard from his parents Ethan does’t have much of a childhood or upbringing. When horrific and violent events occur he runs to the only person he can think of, the grandfather he has never met.

This is a gritty and, at times, tragic story with very distinctive, well-formed and colourful characters that will surely pull the reader into their lives. It was easy to get involved in the story and sympathise with the characters, especially Ethan. He is very credible given his life up to that point and the developing relationship between him and Olivia is touching.

I like the way the characters are all woven together to create an engaging story with humour, sadness, some violence but also hope and trust. The first person perspectives at the beginning of each chapter is a nice touch, like eavesdropping on that character’s thoughts.

There’s an unmistakable theme of good versus evil running through with a thread of Christianity, not in a preachy way, showing the best and worst of human nature. The epilogue may not appeal to all readers but for me it rounds the story off nicely.

tt10407952fltt   Amazon US  Amazon UK