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Showing posts from 2017

Book Elves

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Yesterday my article about the #bookelves17 featured on writing.ie Wondering what the Book Elves are? Read on..



Book Elves is the brainchild of writer and children's books expert Sarah Webb. Set up initially to boost coverage of books during The Late Late Toy Show. Sarah came up with an idea a few years ago to use the power of social media combined with the knowledge of enthusiastic children's booksellers, publishers, writers and librarians. So using the hashtag #bookelves Sarah and her book elf recruits made recommendations for children's books throughout the Late Late Toy Show. With an increased interest in children's books but a lack of reviews in the mainstream media the idea really took off.
The hashtag and the idea were so popular and so successful that Sarah decided to make the #bookelves active throughout the year. You can find book recommendations for children of all ages using #bookelves17 on twitter and facebook and the campaign involves children's book …

Fate of Kings by Mark Stibbe & G.P.Taylor

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I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Fate Of Kings by Mark Stibbe & G.P. Taylor. This is the first in a new series centering around Thomas Pryce; an 18th Century reverend based on the Kent coast. it is 1793 and "La Terreur" has France in it's grip. The parents of Pryce's beloved French wife are in danger and determined to save them if he can, he travels to France where he meets his wife's uncle and comes under the suspicion of the agents of a secret society with dark intentions. Pryce soon finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of page turning adventure and derring-do. This is a fine start to a series that will no doubt be hugely popular. If you are a fan of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series, or of The Master & Commander series by Patrick O'Brian then you will enjoy this, it's occasionally tongue in cheek, there is action and adventure on every page and it's very, very enjoyable. Although I do think first and foremost the …

The Tide Between Us by Olive Collins

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Olive Collins second novel is divided into two sections with two narrators, one hundred years apart. The first part, set in the nineteenth century is about Art, who leaves Ireland as an indentured servant bound for Jamaica. He is just a young boy and he soon makes friends among the other servants and among the many slaves on the plantation. The differences between the two groups is made immediately apparent in the way that Art is treated, as he becomes a trusted gardener and indoor servant and later an overseer. His relationship with a young slave woman Flora leads to children but Art is painfully aware that the children are not his to keep and heartache awaits him as his children grow up. I don't want to spoil the book so suffice to say that there is a mystery, left unanswered as section one ends and we hear Yseult's tale. It is 1991 and Yseult is growing old and tired. Her daughter Rachel wants to modernise their beautiful estate, Lugdale in Kerry but Yseult wants life to c…

The Witch at Wayside Cross

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This is the second book in the Jesperson and Lane series, following the brilliant Somnambulist & The Psychic Thief of last year. The duo have just solved their first case when they are immediately plunged into their second. A man hammers at their door in the early hours and once inside he drops dead at at their feet; a look of terror on his face; the last word from his mouth was "Witch" shouted at Miss Lane. Could he really have died from fright? Was he cursed? Engaged to investigate the mysterious death by the dead man's brother, the pair must travel to rural Norfolk to investigate. There they find a mysterious school of Wisdom run by a charismatic man, rumours of witchcraft and strange tales of the shrieking pits. This is a fantastic follow up to the first volume. The characterisation is pitch perfect; while Miss Lane is always portrayed as a modern and forthright woman she is none the less a modern woman of her own era and not ours. Mr Jesperson is similarly fort…

News, Reviews and Recommendations from the Ancient World

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It seems a long time since Madeline Miller won the Women's Prize for fiction (it was the Orange Prize then) in 2012 for The Song of Achilles but the wait for a second novel from this talented writer is almost over. It is a retelling of the story of Circe; the first Witch in Western literature and a fascinating character to me and I'm sure many others. Circe is released next April. Here is a short video of Madeline Miller introducing the book.

https://twitter.com/BloomsburyBooks/status/912255514737823744

If you have yet to discover Miller's writing and want to know more about her first book here is an interview she did back in 2012 about writing The Song of Achilles. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/may/01/madeline-miller-song-of-achilles

and here is a link to the author's own website
http://www.madelinemiller.com/the-song-of-achilles/





If you are interested in Classical Literature then you need to follow Jean's Bookish Thoughts on YouTube. She recommends all so…

Ever This Day by Helen Moorhouse

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Having started the previous post talking about the perfect book to curl up with on a gloomy Autumn evening. This is certainly a book that fits that bill. Helen Moorhouse is a favourite of mine. Follow this link Helen Moorhouse to see previous reviews, events and interviews.  Helen was also kind enough to judge a short story competition for me a few years ago. Helen's books are utterly compelling. She is one of the few authors I've read that will make you gasp out loud or shout no, no, no at the characters. Helen's latest novel is about Ria who is haunted by her past at an Irish boarding school; Maria Goretti and the strange and frightening events that occurred there. Gripping and terrifying in equal measure  this is a perfect Autumn read. If you have yet to discover Helen's books, then get thee to a bookshop, library, website etc and gobble them down right now.  Ever this Day is Helen's fourth book following The Dead Summer, The Dark Water and Sing Me to Sleep. If …

Wychwood by George Mann

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I don't know about you but when the evenings are dark and the air has grown cold I long for a real fire, a comfy chair, a nice hot drink and a book that sends a tingle up your spine. Mysteries, ghost stories, thrillers, dark tales; however you want to categorise them and with George Mann's latest book Wychwood you get all that and more. Wychwood is a bit of a departure for Mann who is famous for the Newbury & Hobbes Series and the The Ghost series which are steampunk adventures and many readers will also know that George Mann is a prolific writer and editor of Sherlock Holmes inspired fiction. So what's different about this book you ask? Well to begin with this book is contemporary and it's set in rural Oxfordshire with the main characters being a journalist and a police officer so there are no airships or secret spy networks but don't worry there is a chilling serial killer mystery and plenty of dark and supernatural scares. I asked the author about Wychwood …

Minette Walters The Last Hours marks a triumphant return.

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After a gap of ten years Minette Walter's new novel is a game changer for the author once dubbed the “queen of British crime” The Last Hours is an historical novel set in 1348 in rural Dosetshire as The Black Death sweeps across England. I had the chance to put a few questions to the bestselling writer and asked her what drew her to the subject matter. As a story teller, I'm intrigued by everything and the Black Death is a powerfully interesting subject. Six centuries on, it's hard to grasp how devastating it was or how far-reaching its consequences.” While it might seem an unusual step for a writer to move out of the thriller genre towards historical fiction; the author sees it as a natural progression.The idea for The Last Hours kept knocking at my mind and never to have written it for the sake of remaining in 'genre' would have been frustrating. In any case, I wonder if it is such a big change! The Black Death was the worst killer man has ever known. Which cri…

Guns in the North by P.F. Chisholm

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Guns in the North brings together the first three books of P.F.Chisholm's Sir Robert Carey mystery series first published in the mid 1990s and now available in one volume for the first time. The books detail Sir Robert Carey's appointment as Deputy Warden of the English West March in 1592. These are tales full of adventure, conflict and humour. The locals of Carlisle and the surrounding districts have a variety of reasons for disliking and distrusting the London courtier sent to kep the peace; not least his fine clothes, fine manners and fine way with a sword but the border marches of Elizabethan England are a place of constant conflict, theft, kidnap and murder and Sir Robert Carey soon proves he has the daring the wit and the courage to take on even the most cut throat of villains. Managing to stay just within the law Sir Robert soon makes his name known as one to watch, both to the lawless bands of Scottish and English clans outside the city walls and his supposed colleagu…

December Girl By Nicola Cassidy #BlogTour

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I am delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour for Nicola Cassidy's debut novel December Girl. This is a gritty historical tale of family, heartbreak and secrets set in Ireland and London. The author was inspired by The Boyne Valley area where she grew up and where she still lives. This is an area rich in history and elements of the novel are inspired by real locations and events. The heroine of the novel is Molly Thomas a smart and independent young woman who's life is changed forever when her family is evicted from their home. The loss of her home, her father and her way of life hits Molly hard and following a shocking betrayal she travels to London to start again, but thrust into London's dark underbelly she faces heartbreak once again as her baby boy is snatched from his pram.
The hero of the tale is Henry Brabazon; the landlord's son. Henry and Molly move in different circles, but Henry does not want to to emulate his entitled, spendthrift father; he too faces…

Death in the Stars by Frances Brody Blog Tour

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The latest instalment of Frances Brody's Kate Shackleton mysteries is set in June 1927 and Kate has been invited to view the solar eclipse with singing star Selina Fellini and her friend the comic Billy Moffatt. Selina seems preoccupied and nervous and convinced that something bad will happen so when Billy collapses Kate is not surprised and she suspects that Selina knows more than she is saying. It seems that there have been two other suspicious deaths among the theatre troupe in the recent past. Tasked with investigating the deaths and the strange behaviour of some of those connected with the theatre company Kate makes some new friends and keeps some strange hours. Kate Shackleton is an able and pragmatic heroine and she once again proves herself in the latest book. Frances Brody has created some great characters and brought the 1920s to life in vivid detail. There may be some who seeing the bright, colourful covers might dismiss this series as cosy crime but that would be a mi…

The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington

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Lucy Adlington is a writer and costume historian. I was aware of her non fiction books about fashion history such as the excellent Stitches in Time but I had not realised that she was also a YA author. Lucy has previously published a number of Young Adult books as L.J Adlington. This is Lucy's first foray into historical fiction and it is a fantastic story, deeply moving and full of intricate detail. The book is the story of Ella who must pretend to be old enough to work if she is to survive and as a talented dressmaker she is determined to work at the sewing workshop at Birchwood. We know it as Auschwitz. It is also the story of the people she meets; Marta, Carla and Rose. If, like me you believe in the importance of historical authenticity in children's fiction then you will really appreciate this book. It is painfully truthful about the horrific conditions that Ella and her friends endure. This is a story about friendship, survival and hope, about what it means to collabor…

The Four Horsemen by Gregory Dowling

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The second book from Gregory Dowling to feature secret agent Alvise Marangon in Eighteenth century Venice is as fast paced and unpredictable as the first. The book opens with intense action as Alvise is chased by some casino bruisers after apparently insulting their boss and is promptly arrested as the brawl spills into St Mark’s Square. Brought before the Missier Grande he is asked to investigate the mysterious death of another agent. A seemingly quiet, bookish man Sior Padoan fell from the roof of his home in what was apparently a tragic accident. Alvise however is certain that the man’s missing diary will provide some clues. There is a connection to a secret society known as The Four Horsemen and Alvise once again must seek help from the bookseller Fabrizio and his beautiful daughter Lucia and his gondolier friend Bepi. Though his investigations are blocked at almost every turn by the city’s Inquisitors and he is caught up in the dark and shadowy world of a scandalous noblewoman, …

Aphra Behn: A Secret Life

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Aphra Behn: A Secret Life by Janet Todd illuminates the life of a fascinating 17th-century woman LISA REDMOND Janet Todd’s masterly biography of the first professional lady of letters has been reissued by Fentum Press 21 years after it originally appeared. In the intervening years Behn has become a regular feature of many English degrees. I asked the author how she feels Aphra Behn’s critical reputation has changed and one of the things Janet Todd is wary of is that on many English courses Behn is often examined without sufficient reference to her cultural and historical context. “She is securely taught in many universities now, in women’s and post-colonial studies and where Restoration literature is a course within an English degree. Only in the last is she put firmly within her historical and literary context. Critical work has tended to concentrate on The Rover and Oroonoko, discussing issues of interest to us now and often finding modern ideas of gender, race and class in her work…