Monday, February 24, 2020

Under A Wartime Sky By Liz Trenow

Liz Trenow's latest historical novel focuses on the secret research station at Bawdsey Manor during the late 1930s as young physicist Vikram sets to work on techniques to improve communications for the RAF. He had been recruited from Cambridge where he was a gifted PhD student working on radio waves and those who recruited him think his ideas might just help Britain to win the coming war. It is at Bawdsey that Vic meets local girl Kath, she has recently left school and is searching for a purpose. When war is declared Kath thinks she may have found it as she signs up to join the WAAFs. The war however also separates the two young people, as they both get moved around the country for further training and war work but they write to each other and try to meet up when the can, their love story unfolding across the years and the miles. Liz Trenow is a gifted storyteller with an enviable skill in  conveying character development and emotion with a deft touch. Under a Wartime Sky is a page turning historical romance that will enchant readers of Rachel Hore, Lucinda Riley and Gill Paul.  Under a Wartime Sky is out now in paperback and ebook from Pan Macmillan, thanks to Ellis Keene for sending me a copy.

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Italian Villa by Daniela Sacerdoti

I have been a fan of Daniela Sacerdoti's writing for years and I was thrilled to be asked to take part in the blog tour for her new novel The Italian Villa. The book is set in two time periods; Italy in the thirties and forties and Present day Texas. Callie is a waitress who grew up in care and on her twenty first birthday she discovers that the parents she lost in a fire as a child were not her biological parents. She receives the keys to a Villa in Italy that she has inherited from her biological mother and the diary of a woman called Elisa. Desperate to learn more, she travels to Montevino in Italy to the Villa, captivated by Elisa's story and eager to discover the connection between them. Through the diary she learns about Elisa's struggle to become one of Italy's first woman doctors and her time during World War Two as the town and the people she loves are ripped apart. Sacerdoti is a powerful storyteller, she brings characters vividly to life so that you want to keep reading, long past bedtime. Inspired by true events, this is the kind of sweeping historical tale that fans of Lucinda Riley, Lorna Cook and Rachel Hore will love.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann

Daniel Kehlmann is a German/Austrian author of novels and plays who is probably best known; at least amongst English-speaking readers for Measuring the World; which was an historical novel featuring two famous German scientists of the enlightenment Alexander von Humboldt and Carl Friedrich Gauss and while it explores ideas of science and mathematics it is at heart a novel of wonderfully realised characters and powerful storytelling. Tyll is an excellent follow up to this earlier novel, opening nearly two hundred years earlier at the beginning of the Seventeenth Century just as the thirty years war begins and featuring a curious young boy who becomes a legendary figure in German folklore. Tyll is the son of a miller who prefers books to milling and who uses his knowledge to help and to heal his neighbours and friends. When his father is accused of working with the devil Tyll makes his escape and becomes a wandering entertainer. He learns to juggle, to walk a tightrope and to captivate an audience with his tales. He will become a jester who is known throughout the land. On his travels Tyll encounters tricksters and soldiers and society high and low. He even meets The Winter Queen Elizabeth Stewart. Kehlmann explored the enlightenment and the quest for knowledge in Measuring the World and in this novel he examines society as it was before the enlightenment when the fear of death and the tyranny of religion made people cruel and intolerant. The novel is peopled with a varied and intiguing cast of characters and the setting is a magical realist world where superstition and fable are as real and vital as religion and war. A truly enjoyable feast of a novel with a loveable rogue as the central character. Perfect for fans of Kehlmann's previous work and will appeal to fans of Guinevere Glasford or Andrew Miller.
Thank you to Milly Reid at Quercus for sending me a copy. Tyll is published on February 6th

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Widow of Pale Harbour by Hester Fox

Hester Fox's second novel is a triumphant follow up to last year's The Witch of Willow Hall. A new minister with a colourful past arrives in Pale Harbour and meeting the prominent families of the town he is told to avoid the Widow Carver, a woman rumoured to have killed her own husband and to practice witchcraft. Gabriel Stone of course is immediately curious, who is this strange woman? Expecting a cackling crone, he visits the widow and discovers a lively, intelligent and captivating woman. However someone in the town has gone beyond rumour and speculation and is determined to terrorise Sophy Carver; first with strange noises and animals carcasses before trying to frame her for murder and threatening her life. Gabriel sets out to clear her name as he finds himself falling under Sophy's spell. This is a thrilling gothic tale full of twists and turns, perfect for fans of Essie Fox, Laura Purcell, Stacey Halls or the mid Victorian gothic fiction of Wilkie Collins and others. Perfectly paced and brilliantly plotted, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks so much to Harper Collins for sending me a copy. 

Friday, October 4, 2019

The Stone of Destiny by Caroline Logan

The Stone of Destiny is Caroline Logan's debut novel. It is a brilliant fantasy adventure for young adults; steeped in Scottish myth and folklore. The protagonist Ailsa is a young woman who is shunned by her community and labelled a changeling. The people from whom her mother had protected her, forced her to flee. With her mother now dead Ailsa is alone. That is until she finds a pair of selkies in need of help and soon she finds herself tangled up in an adventure and a mystery. Because the selkies are being hunted by none other than Nicnevan; the Dark Fairy Queen herself. The world building and the storytelling in this book are top notch, making for an all encompassing and page turning read. I thoroughly enjoyed Caroline Logan's first book and cannot wait to read the next in The Four Treasures Series. The Stone of Destiny is out now from Cranachan books, thanks so much to Kelly MacDonald for my copy. 

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Blackberry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton

It's publication day for the fantastic debut novel from Sonia Velton. Blackberry and Wild Rose is a story of two ambitious young women in 18th Century Spitalfields. Esther is a painter who longs to create her own silks but her silk weaver husband laughs off her attempts, it is one of his journeyman weavers, ambitious to become a master weaver, who helps her. Sara her maid has escaped the whorehouse and is also looking to improve her lot in life. Esther invited Sara into her life in order to rescue her but as their ambitions clash Esther begins to suspect that there is dark betrayal happening right under her nose. This is a fantastic work of historical fiction. Velton explores ambition and female desire in a time when women's choices were few. Perfect for fans of Stacey Halls, Laura Purcell and Tracey Chevalier. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Laura's Spooky Show by Natasha Mac a'Bháird

The latest instalment in Natasha Mac a'Bháird's Star Club series is a tale of friendship, fun and adventure revisiting best friends Laura, Meg, Ruby and Hannah. Laura writes a story of a spooky house and a young girl captured by witches; drawing inspiration from a near derelict local house; Ivy Lodge and the strange old lady who lives there. When her friends read her story they are desperate to turn it into a play but difficulty ensues when they struggle to find a place to rehearse and things don't quite go to plan when Laura's friends don't want to play the parts she had envisioned for them, but friendship wins through as the girls find a mystery to be solved at spooky Ivy Lodge and wonder what Laura's older sister's strange behaviour might have to do with it.This is a lovely companion to the existing books in the series but could easily be read as a stand alone story. A delightful read from a consummate storyteller, perfect for fans of Sarah Webb, Cathy Cassidy and Judi Curtin.
Laura's Spooky Show is out now and the blog tour continues tomorrow.