2015 ~ My 20 Top Reads ~ #reading #books

A tough choice, I’ve read lots a great books this year and, in no particular order (as they say) here are my top 20 reads. They are all rated either 4.5 or 5 stars. Clicking on the cover links to Amazon UK.

ravenschoiceRaven’s Choice ~ The Replacement Chronicles #1 ~ Prehistoric fiction, based on fact

As Mark finds out, many people including himself, carry Neanderthal genes although he’ll never know for sure the exact circumstances that brought about this occurrence. But it signifies that Early Modern Man didn’t take the place of extinct Neanderthals but rather the races mixed and interbred, which is proved by the presence of Neanderthal DNA in present day man. It’s such an interesting approach to how life might have been all those years ago, and even more so because it’s a very credible scenario. 

A wonderfully researched, dramatic and detailed narrative sets the scene for forthcoming instalments of The Replacement Chronicles, which I look forward to following.

Full review      Amazon US

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00014]The Dead Lands ~ post apocalyptic, sci-fi, horror

This is a very well crafted story with perfect pacing, the drama unfolds with consistency to keep the narrative flowing effortlessly. The characters are well-developed and real, Lane especially, but all the personalities are drawn brilliantly, whether you love or loathe them. I think this story covers every eventuality with action, of which there is plenty, greed, deception, horror and sadness. Balancing out the negatives are loyalty, a touch of romance and truthfulness. And the promise of satisfactory karma for the villain of the piece. It’s graphic, gruesome, gritty….and great! 

Full review    Amazon US Continue reading

The 20’s Girl, The Ghost and All That Jazz

  • 20'sGirlAuthor: June Kearns
  • Published: November 2013 by New Romantics 4
  • Category: Romance, Historical, Paranormal
  • five-stars

1924. The English Shires, after the Great War. 
When her jazzing flapper of an aunt dies, Gerardina Mary Chiledexter inherits some silver-topped scent bottles, a wardrobe of love-affair clothes, and astonishingly, a half-share in a million-acre ranch in south-west Texas. 
Haunted by a psychic cat and the ghost voice of that aunt Leonie, Gerry feels driven to travel thousands of miles to see the ranch for herself. 
Against a background of big sky, cattle barons and oil wells, she is soon engaged in a game of power, pride and ultimately, love, with the Texan who owns the other half.

Gerardina Chiledexter struggles to maintain the bookshop she inherited after her beloved aunt Leonie’s death. Leonie was beyond glamorous, free spending with a lavish lifestyle hence the mountain of debt Gerry was also left with. When an impassive American named Cooper arrives at the bookshop one day, all the way from Texas, with the news Gerry has inherited half his cattle ranch, she is at first disbelieving then incredulous. As is Cooper, having expected Gerry to be a man. Continue reading

An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy

  • CowboyAuthor: June Kearns
  • Published: October 2012 by June Kearns
  • Category: Historical, Romance
  • five-stars

Jane Austen meets Zane Grey. The American West,1867. After a stagecoach wreck, well-bred bookish spinster, Annie Haddon, (product of mustn’t-take-off-your-hat, mustn’t-take-off-your-gloves, mustn’t-get -hot-or-perspire Victorian society) is thrown into the company of cowboy, Colt McCall – a man who lives by his own rules and hates the English. Can two people from such wildly different backgrounds learn to trust each other? Annie and McCall find out on their journey across the haunting, mystical landscape of the West.

It’s the latter half of the nineteenth century and Annie Haddon is travelling across America in a stagecoach, corseted, with layers of petticoats and to make matters worse, wearing hat and gloves. The heat is stifling, not to mention the company. Her Aunt Bea and cousin Charlotte included. Annie didn’t even know why they were making a side trip to Texas when they were bound for New York. Not that Annie was in any hurry to reach New York, as the man her aunt intended to marry her off to awaited them. At twenty-seven Annie was considered almost beyond hope in the marriage stakes. A woman of her age who reads and holds her own opinions and especially one who is a cripple, had to take what she could get, according to her ‘loving’ relations. 

When the stagecoach is attacked Annie discovers she has been abandoned and if not for Colt McCall she didn’t dare think what would have happened to her. Colt is half white, half Sioux and accepted by neither, dark and broodingly irresistible in a way Annie finds disturbing, although she can’t put into words why. She seems to have an affinity with the untamed land and a strange feeling, almost of belonging.

It bothered Annie more than she could say, to think that she’d sometimes dreamed of something like this. A mysterious stranger, a daring rescue. Being carried off on a wild-eyed horse, westward into the sunset.

I loved this book from the start. It took me back right back to my favourite TV programs and girlish fantasies of ruggedly handsome cowboys. It’s very easy to relate to, and like, Annie. I had quite the opposite feelings towards her aunt and cousin. They ride roughshod over Annie and grind her down, leaving her with very little self-confidence. But for all her vulnerability, she has the strength of character and courage to cope with the extraordinary situation she finds herself in, and enough not to allow the dictates of the day, or her self-obsessed and uncaring relatives, to ruin her life. I think Colt would set my heart a flutter too, intriguing and powerfully attractive with a strong sense of honour… ‘The underdog defending the downtrodden.’

An extremely well written and structured story, the scenic descriptions are vivid and transported me to the majestic and vast openness of the American west. I love June Kearns’ writing style, the unfolding romance, as well as the humour and great dialogue infused into the authentic narrative. A very unexpected, and sad for Annie, twist at the end.

I enjoyed reading the quotes taken from The Gentlewoman’s Guide to Good Travel at the beginning of each chapter. This priceless one began Chapter 4….’When embarking on long and fatiguing expeditions, ladies should endeavour to avoid those garments which constrict the vital organs, as far as modesty allows.’ 

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

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About the author

JuneKearnsAs an only child, June Kearns was a terrible daydreamer,who used to spend a lot of time staring into space and making things up. At around age 7, she remembers copying out pages and pages of Enid Blyton to see how she did it!

Having left teaching to bring up her family, she won a national magazine competition for the first chapter of a historical novel. After many, many more hours watching cowboy heroes bring order west of the Pecos, this became her first published novel, ‘An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy’.

Her new novel ‘The 20’s Girl’ was inspired by the style and fashion of the 1920’s, and a time in England after the Great War, of crumbling country houses and very few men.

A co-founder of the indie publishing group,The New Romantics 4, June lives in Leicestershire with her husband and family.

Author links ~ Website, Twitter, Facebook