Showing posts from 2016

Kings of the Boyne by Nicola Pierce

Nicola Pierce's latest novel follows the story of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 through the eyes of a variety of characters. The book can be read as a stand alone tale or as a sequel to her previous book Behind the Walls which dealt with the siege of Derry in 1689, as two characters from Behind the Walls also feature in the new book; brothers Robert and Daniel Sherrard. Also featured in the book are a young cavalry man Gerald O'Connor, his Parisien friend Jacques, their companions Michael and Joseph and a County Down farmer Jean Watson as well as King James and King William and their various advisors. Through the winter and spring of 1690 we see the young friends camping out and travelling wherever they are sent by the leaders of their armies as the day of battle draws ever closer, we learn of their fears and worries as they talk and write letters home and we see how they are changed by army life as they are forced to make decisions they never thought they would have to mak…

The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood

Alison Littlewood's latest novel is a bit of a departure. The author is well known for her thrilling horror fiction and with her new book she continues to feature haunted houses and people, but with this novel there is the added element of historical fiction. Because of this I know this book will be a must read for anyone who like me devours tales of the Victorian gothic.
Inspired by a real life killing in the Irish countryside in the 1890s Littlewood relocates the action to her home county of Yorkshire in the 1860s. Albie is a London man, working his way up in his father's business. He first meets his young Yorkshire cousin Lizzie at The Great Exhibition in 1851, that great symbol of industry and technology. Eleven years later he is newly married and devastated to hear that not only is his cousin dead but her husband is accused of killing her; believing her to be a fairy changeling. Albie travels to the village of Halfoak to bury his cousin and discover what led to her death…

November means Nanowrimo

National Novel Writing Month is a challenge which millions of people across the globe take part in every November, aiming to complete a first draft of a novel; 50,000 words,  in the 30 days of November. This means writing 1667 words everyday and not stopping to edit, revise or research. It's not for everyone. For one thing it requires a great deal of planning, not just of your ideas but perhaps more importantly of your time. It's all very well deciding to write nearly 2000 words every day but how do you actually fit it in to your day?
That has always been my biggest problem when November approaches each year. I have attempted Nanowrimo every year since 2010 but I've never achieved 50,000 words in the month. I know there are some writers for whom 50,000 would be more than achievable while to others it is never going to happen. I've spoken to writers who regularly churn out more than 2000 words a day comfortably and others for whom 500 is a productive day and I know tha…

Ordeal by Fire Sarah Hawkswood

Sarah Hawkswood’s second outing for the detecting duo of Bradecote and Catchpoll means a change of publisher, but readers shouldn’t worry about having to read the books in order as this story works just as well as a standalone. The setting is Worcester in 1143 during the anarchy of the reign of King Stephen and features undersheriff Hugh Bradecote and Serjeant Catchpoll investigating a series of fires in the town. While the first fire could have been an accident, the Serjeant’s suspicions are raised when a second fire results in a death. Catchpoll is fearful and enraged that a killer seems to be attacking his neighbours while Bradecote is more pragmatic. The pairing is an enjoyable one for the reader, as we see the experienced Catchpoll bristle at the restraint of the recently appointed undersheriff, while Bradecote struggles to assert his authority and also deals with a family tragedy. This book also sees the appointment of Walkelin; a bright if at times overly enthusiastic young man,…

The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

Gill Paul’s latest novel is an intriguing blend of two stories in two different eras. A young woman hides away at a cabin inherited from her great-grandfather in upstate New York; Kitty is reeling after discovering her husband’s infidelity and still mourning her parents’ sudden death. The cabin offers her a place to think, and she determines to learn more about the man she inherited it from. Dmitri Malama is a Russian soldier recovering from an injury in 1914 at Tsarskoe Selo, where he is looked after by Grand Duchess Tatiana who, along with her mother and her sister Olga, is training as a nurse to help the war effort. Dmitri and Tatiana grow close and begin to exchange letters, and gradually we come to understand the connection between Kitty’s family and the Russian royal family. The Secret Wife is an enthralling and page-turning story linking two intriguing women and the very different lives they lead. This book follows the characters’ journeys across the century from the horror of th…

The Last Hoseman by David Gilman

David Gilman’s new novel is packed full of intrigue, adventure and excitement. The tale opens in Dublin in 1899 with American Joseph Radcliffe; a lawyer and former soldier. Unafraid to represent radical young men who face the noose as a result of their Fenian beliefs Radcliffe is a thorn in the side of the British establishment. When his young son runs away from boarding school Radcliffe gets information that he has followed some of his friends in the Irish Regiments to the war in South Africa, so he sets off after him along with his old friend and army comrade Benjamin Pierce and they will need every skill they learned in the “Indian Wars” in order to track Edward down. Unfolding alongside this story is sixteen year old Edward’s tale of what he hopes will be a grand adventure and the story of Sheenagh a prostitute on the run for passing information from the Fenian Brotherhood to the British Army. The writing here is skillful and while the story is a page turner full of adventure ther…

The Strange Case of Madeleine Seguin

A striking blend of fiction and fact William Rose’s novel focuses on a patient at the famous SalpêtrièreHospital in Paris as the 19th Century draws to a close. The author presents us with a series of reports, case notes and letters written by the various characters who each for their own reason has a particular interest in Madeleine and her development. Through the letters we are given a glimpse into the decadent world of the fin de siècle and the various groups and salons; the experimental young artists and poets, those dabbling in magic and the occult and the scientists and psychiatrists who both help and experiment on the people they treat. There is a gothic undercurrent to the narrative which makes it darkly compelling and sinister. There is a sense of hedonism and thrill seeking amongst a number of the protagonists which intensifies the decadent and gothic atmosphere of the story.
The book places the mad girl at the centre of the story but as in life it is not her voice we hear, i…

The Counterfeit Detective by Stuart Douglas

The Counterfeit Detective is the latest installment in Titan Books The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and it is Stuart Douglas's second contribution to the series.
The book begins with an anonymous letter which informs Holmes and Watson of another Sherlock Holmes at work in New York, and so the intrepid pair set out to investigate this false Holmes. The year is 1899 and their adventures begins almost immediately as they investigate the murder of a sailor on the ship as they travel across the Atlantic.
Arriving in New York with a letter of introduction from Inspector Gregson they meet a Yorkshireman; Simeon Bullock now an Inspector with the New York City Police and they begin to investigate the counterfeit Sherlock. However almost as soon as they begin the body count of former clients starts to mount.
This is an intriguing mystery full of twists and turns and Douglas does a great job at capturing the essence of everyone's favourite detective duo. The mystery here is suf…

The Constant Queen by Joanna Courtney

The Constant Queen is the second in Joanna Courtney's series which examines historical events leading up to the Norman conquest of 1066. This follows The Chosen Queen which I reviewed last year. You can read that review here. The Constant Queen does not follow directly from the previous book in the trilogy because each book tells the story of a different Queen, so they each feature different characters and though the historical events have an impact on each Queen in the series there is no interaction between them. Therefore they can be read in any order. The Constant Queen is Elizaveta who was born into royalty as a Princess of the Rus, growing up with her many brothers and sisters at Kiev.  This is the story of a fierce and lifelong romance between Elizaveta and  Harald of Norway who comes to be known as Harald Hardrada. Exiled from his own land Harald at first fought for Elizaveta's father and then went on to seek riches and glory in Constantinople before escaping imprisonm…

An Almond for a Parrot by Wray Delaney

An Almond For a Parrot is the spectacular adult debut from award winning children's author Sally Gardner and be warned it is very much a book for adults. The novel is the tale of the life, loves and romantic and sexual awakening of Tully Truegood.
Following in the footsteps of eighteenth century heroines like Moll Flanders and Fanny Hill, Tully's story begins in 1756 in Newgate Prison where Tully awaits trial for murder. Through a series of recipes and recollections Tully recounts her journey from a neglected childhood with her drunken father to a life of luxury as the mistress of a Lord.
Treated as little more than a servant by her father, who gambled and drank away what little money they had after her mother's death, the only kindness Tully receives is from a indifferent gin-soaked cook. Her father trades Tully like a commodity; at 12 she is a bride in a "Fleet Marriage" at 16 she is the payment for a gambling debt. Tully enjoys fleeting happiness when her fat…

As I Descended by Robin Talley

As I Descended is the third novel from Robin Talley; winner of the inaugural Amnesty Honour for her debut novel Lies We Tell Ourselves. The author once again chooses a school as the setting of her story. This time it is exclusive AcheronAcademy, which prides itself on being diverse and 21st Century despite its gothic campus and the rumours of numerous hauntings over the years. Lily and Maria are senior students, near the top of their class, room-mates and secretly a couple. Only Maria's best friend Brandon knows their secret. So Brandon is happy to play along when Lily wants the three of them to call up some of the spirits of Acheron's spooky past with a Ouija board. Brandon thinks it'll be a bit of fun but when strange and frightening things happen during the session with the Ouija board and the girls start behaving strangely afterwards he's not so sure. Maria is desperate to win the coveted Cawdor Kingsley Prize which goes to the top senior student every year but th…

Dear Charlie by N. D. Gomes

Dear Charlie is a powerful contemporary debut novel. Set in England in 1996/97, it deals with the aftermath of a school shooting. The book is narrated by Sam; 16 years old and brother of Charlie, the one who carried out the shootings before taking his own life. Sam is desperate to understand Charlie's actions and he is also dealing with the media frenzy, the anger and grief of local people and trying to grieve for the brother he loved but he's not sure if he really knew him. The book is Sam's letter to Charlie and his attempt to work his way through his own grief.  The book opens with Sam's fear as he starts a new school. He is bullied and harassed but he simply accepts it making no complaint. He soon realises that there are a group who don't attack him and begins to sit with them and eventually make friends. This group of outsiders become Sam's lifeline. He is able to just be a normal teenager; hanging out after school, joking around, going to parties. Somehow …

Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Frances Brody's latest novel Death at the Seaside; the 8th book in the Kate Shackleton Mystery series. 

Having decided that nothing much happens in August lady detective Kate Shackleton heads off for a relaxing stay at the Royal Hotel in Whitby where she hopes to enjoy the sea view and plenty of fresh air and spend time with old school friend Alma and her daughter Felicity. 
However within hours of her arrival she stumbles upon the dead body of local jeweller Jack Phillips. Kate is particularly shaken as it was at Mr Phillips' shop that she and her beloved husband Gerald had chosen her engagement and wedding rings. So obviously returning to the jewellers alone was especially poignant for Kate. Having contacted the police Kate is perturbed to then become a suspect in Sergeant Garvin's investigation. However she soon discovers that Mr Phillips was a gentleman friend of Alma's and now Alma's daughter Felicity is miss…

Blog Tour for Conquest Book 1 by Tracey Warr

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the brilliant new book by historical fiction author Tracey Warr. Check out the review below and check out the details of all the other stops on the blog tour in the banner above.

This is the first book in the Conquest trilogy by Tracey Warr and it centres around a number of real historical figures most notably Princess Nest ferch Rhys daughter of the last independent Welsh King; Rhys King of Deheubarth. Nest is captured from her home by Normans invading her lands and held hostage at CardiffCastle. Nest is just 12 years old when her family are killed and she is placed under the protection of  the Montgomerys and  FitzHamons. Her "captor"  Sybil  soon becomes a friend as Nest trains to be a lady, learning French, History and courtly manners in order to become the wife of a Norman Lord.  Although the book is peopled with a large cast of characters the relationships are well de…

Upcoming Blog tour for Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody

Delighted to be involved in the Blog Tour for Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody details here.

Associates of Sherlock Holmes edited by George Mann

This collection edited by George Mann is the third he has produced for Titan Books and features a number of writers well known for their Sherlockiana such as Lyndsay Faye and James Lovegrove as well as those such as Simon Bucher-Jones who is presenting his first Sherlock Holmes story here. Unlike many other stories set in the universe of Arthur Conan Doyle which present the cases from Watson's viewpoint as Doyle did, here we see Holmes and Watson through the eyes of others; including Inspector Lestrade, Irene Adler and many more. It allows many of the associates, clients and villains to tell their own stories for the first time. The collection opens with a new story from fan favourite Lyndsay Faye as she allows Police Inspector Stanley Hopkins who appeared in Doyle's "The Adventure of Black Peter" to tell us a brand new tale of body parts dredged from the Thames in "River of Silence" There are some brilliant supernatural touches too courtesy of Jeffrey Tho…

The Harrowing by James Aitcheson

The Harrowing of the North is a famous phrase familiar to many of us as the tactic used by William the Conqueror to quell rebellion in the North and ensure the conquest of England was complete. In this novel James Aitcheson shows us the personal side of this tactic, as the land is cleared and the people; men, women and children are murdered, often in the most cruel and gruesome of ways.  We meet five individuals; Tova a maid and her mistress Merewyn who are fleeing Merewyn’s husband’s family, Beorn the warrior who rescues them from a Norman attack, Guthred a former priest and Oslac a wandering storyteller. As the people of the North flee the approaching Normans so these five must also make their way Northwards to Hagustaldesham (Hexham, Northumberland). The storytelling is brilliantly framed with each part of the book covering one day of travel and the various characters telling their stories each evening as they prepare to rest, a style not dissimilar to The Canterbury Tales. In this…

Ascension by Gregory Dowling

Gregory Dowling’s fifth novel; his first foray into historical territory, is set in mid 18th Century Venice and introduces a charming protagonist in the form of cicerone or tour guide Alvise Marangon. Having grown up mostly in England Alvise makes guiding British tourists his specialty but he gets more than he bargained for when he offers to guide the young Mr. Boscombe and his tutor Mr. Shackleford. Soon Alvise is entangled in the city’s criminal underbelly finding himself arrested, robbed, beaten up and finally persuaded to join the city’s secret network of spies to uncover a criminal threat that goes to highest levels of Venice’s aristocratic society. This is a wonderful page turner with a fabulous cast of characters from the gambling dens to the theatres, the booksellers to the taverns, the courtesans to the gondoliers. Alvise is able to use his innate sense of theatre and charm to move fluidly between all the classes and this also makes him a perfect spy.
Dowling’s storytelling i…

A Ghost's Story by Lorna Gibb

A Ghost’s Story is an intriguing book, as it presents the tale of Katie King not a famous medium but a famous ghost. Although it is Lorna Gibb’s first work of fiction there are a number of real people included in the story. There is correspondence between Bob Loomis, Senior Librarian at the Magic Circle and the author herself who has received the Katie King ‘spirit writing’ from the Magic Circle archive, this writing is interspersed with a manuscript from an Italian Bookshop named after Katie King and the academic notes of Adam Marcus who had been investigating the manuscript prior to his death. The narrative is in the voice of John/Katie King a celebrated spirit who visited a number of mediums during the 19th and early 20th century when séances and an interest in the spirit world were at their peak. Moving between America, Britain, Russia, Italy, France and Canada we observe Katie’s growth as she gradually begins to affect her surroundings, to be heard by those she is drawn to and ev…

House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

Everything about this book was guaranteed to entice me from the title to the cover to the tag line 'Dark secrets lie just around the corner..' but most of all the blurb which not only hinted that this is a time-slip novel but recommended the book to fans of Barbra Erskine and Kate Morton. That was it, I was sold so even though the publishers were kind enough to send me an e-galley I just had to get a print edition too.
The book opens with The Winter Queen Elizabeth Stuart, a fascinating woman who I think simply doesn't feature enough in history or historical fiction. Nicola used a setting she knows well Ashdown House where she works as guide and with some poetic licence she has told the story of the house and some of it's occupants, real and imagined. This is my favourite kind of historical fiction mixing the magical and the mystical with the past and the present. In the present day Holly is searching for her missing brother Ben who vanished at Ashdown Mill where he w…

River Road by Carol Goodman

Carol Goodman is one of my favourite authors. She is a literary chameleon capable of writing gothic chillers, YA fantasy, romance and gripping crime. This book will not disappoint avid fans but will also appeal to those who have never read her before. River Road is a psychological crime thriller about a small town college professor Nan Lewis who is driving home in a snowstorm when she feels something hit her car. She convinces herself that it was just a deer but then she finds out that a brilliant student of hers, Leia Dawson has been knocked down and killed in a hit and run accident and she was found on River Road, just where Nan hit a deer or did she?
Goodman slowly reveals the secrets of Nan, Leia and the various other people in the cast of fascinating characters in this twisty, page turning novel. We learn that Nan's daughter was killed in a hit and run seven years before and since then Nan's marriage has disintegrated and her career has stalled. She's a creative writ…

The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo by Catherine Johnson

Cassandra is a beautiful young lady bored and restless she longs for adventure. Mary Wilcox is a young woman who has been ground down by society, poverty and men, she is ready for change. Fred and Edmund are privileged young men with the world at their feet. Everyone has their place and everyone has a role to play. But what happens when a young woman decides to play a different role? Inspired by a true story this is the tale of a young woman who turns up at small village in England apparently unable to speak English. Taken in by a local wealthy family who decide that she is an exotic Princess, she is subject to experimentation and media speculation. As the questions come thick and fast how long will it be before the origins of Lady Caraboo will be discovered.

Catherine Johnson's wonderful new book was shortlisted for the YA Book prize although it missed out on the final prize; which went to Sarah Crossan. (The Irish ladies are winning all the prizes recently!) Nonetheless Lady Ca…

Wild Wood by Posie Graeme-Evans

Another Australia author. One I have a bit of a soft spot for because she is such a beautiful writer and she writes my favourite kind of book; time-slip. Just like The Island House Wild Wood features an Aussie heroine exploring her British heritage. This book however is set not on a Scottish island but on the Scottish border. The modern story actually takes place in the early 1980s with Jesse Marley having just discovered that she is adopted she sets out to learn more about her birth family. Arriving in London she has an accident and finds herself in hospital unable to speak. She is treated by a neurologist Rory who encourages Jesse to draw and she begins to draw faces of people she has never met and a castle she has never seen. However the castle is quite real in fact Rory knows it very well because he grew up there. Rory takes her to see the castle and to try and understand what is happening to Jesse and what her connection to Hundredfields really is. Weaving between Jesse's ch…

Vigil by Angela Slatter Blog Tour

I am so excited to be part of this blog tour for Vigil which is the first (solo) novel from Australian fantasy author. Angela has written a number of award winning short story collections and co-written two novels Midnight and Moonshine and The Female Factory with Lisa L. Hannett. If you are a fan of Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs or Ben Aaronovitch then get ready for your next favourite read. You van connect with Angela on the internet @AngelaSlatter or through her excellent website
Vigil is the story of Verity Fassbinder a Brisbane native caught between two cultures. Verity is the result of a marriage between a Weyrd and a Normal, her parents died when she was still a child. Her father was a notorious Weyrd criminal who broke the laws that preserve the fragile peace between our world and theirs. Now she utilises her own magic for good. Verity has super strength; handy when your job involves exploring spooky old houses and chasing Weyrd with a fondness fo…

Maresi The Red Abbey Chronicles by Maria Turtschanioff

Maresi was translated from the Finnish and it demonstrates exactly why more Young Adult fiction should be available in translation. Maresi is a fantasy story set on an island populated entirely by women. Maresi travelled to the Red Abbey driven by desperation, hunger and fear. She had almost believed this sanctuary to be a myth, a place where women can escape, can be safe. Outside of the Red Abbey women are forbidden from learning, they must live by strict rules and they are never safe from the prospect of rape, death or slavery. Many of the girls who have come to the Red Abbey have escaped brutality. It is a place where community is celebrated. The women work together, grow their own food, make their own clothes and they have books which Maresi is encouraged to explore. When Jai arrives Maresi finds a friend but a chain of events is set in motion which brings danger ever closer to the Red Abbey. This a powerful and atmospheric tale. It has a strong feminist message and is also a thr…

The Redemption of Alexander Seaton by Shona Maclean

The Redemption of Alexander Seaton is the first in a four part series by Scottish writer Shona /S.G. Maclean. Set in Banff in Scotland in 1626. Alexander is a failed minister now a schoolteacher of morose character. His two truest friends are the doctor and the music master.When a man is found dead in suspicious circumstances, murder is suspected and Alexander's friend the music teacher a rival in love to the murdered man is arrested. Tasked with helping the investigation Alexander is determined to prove his friend innocent.
This is a wonderfully written tale from a master storyteller. The setting and characters are so vivid and intense I felt utterly immersed and sad to leave them all behind. This is a series I will certainly continue and cherish.
If you like S J Deas, Robin Blake or Antonia Hodgson this book is for you.

Here is an interview the author did with Shots e-zine which will give you some insight into her research and an explanation for the mid series name change.


Lawless and The Flowers of Sin Blog Tour

I am delighted to be hosting today's spot on William Sutton's Seven Sins blog tour. Lawless and the Flowers of Sin is the second book in the compelling Campbell Lawless Victorian Mystery series

From the press release

It is 1863, and as a reluctant Inspector of Vice, Campbell Lawless undertakes a reckoning of London’s houses of ill repute, a shadowy netherworld of frayed glamour and double standards; mesmerising and
unspeakable by turns. From the erotic booksellers of Holywell Street to the alleys of Haymarket, he discovers backstreet cast-offs and casualties of the society bordellos, and becomes fascinated by a
musician who has established a foundation for fallen women. But his inquiries draw the attention of powerful men, who can be merciless in defending their reputations. Lawless must unlock the heart of a clandestine network, before he too is silenced...
William Sutton comes from Dunblane, Scotland. He has written for The Times and the Fortean
Times, acted in the longest p…