Showing posts from February, 2019

The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber Blog Tour

Ann Weisgarber's new novel is set in the backwoods of Utah in the 1880s within a tiny community of Later Day Saints. Deborah Tyler is waiting for her husband; wheelwright Samuel to return, he should have been home in December but January has come and with it heavy snow and when she hears a knock on the door it is not her husband but a stranger seeking shelter. The Tylers had helped men who were being chased by the law in the past, men who were hounded by lawmen because of their beliefs. Deborah and many of the small community of Junction have loose ties to the Church; they don't practice polygamy and they don't answer to a bishop, but they are willing to help those of their church who seek them out. The narrative shifts between Deborah, her brother in law Nels and her husband Samuel. It is a rare thing for a man to be running from the law in the deep winter snow and rarer still that a marshal would be the one chasing him. Deborah and Nels wrestle with their consciences aw…

The Dressmaker of Draper's Lane by Liz Trenow

Liz Trenow's latest novel revisits a character from The Silk Weaver. Close friend of The Silk Weaver's heroine Anna; Miss Charlotte. Charlotte grew up in poverty; a child raised at the foundling hospital, she learned to sew and spent time in domestic service before becoming an accomplished seamstress and eventually running her own business; making dresses for the bon ton including the aristocracy and the stars of the stage. Despite her success Charlotte has always remained curious about the mother who left her at the Foundling hospital. What drove her to give up her child? What kind of woman was she? And who was her father? When she buys a bundle of scraps at auction she discovers amongst them a beautiful piece of silk which evokes a sense of uncanny familiarity. When she shows this scrap to her sister Louisa; her reaction is one of fear and a refusual to talk which only spurs Charlotte to make further enquiries. Charlotte's quest is interspersed with the narrative of her …

The God of All Small Boys

The God of all Small Boys is a the story of eleven year old James. It is 1917 and when his father goes away to war James is sent to live with his relatives in Dundee. At first it is a shock; the house is noisy and full, he  has to share a bed with his cousins and even use an outside loo. His cousin Billy is mean at first; calling him posh and ignoring him in the playground but when James stands up to the playground bully Billy and his friends accept him as one of their own. With good friends and a great den to play in, the summer seems to last forever; until the realities of war intrude into the young boys' lives. Joseph Lamb has written a wonderful book about the joy and wonder of childhood, the hardship of poverty and war and the pain of loss. I raced through this book and found it utterly enchanting. The God of all Small Boys is published by Pokey Hat, an imprint of Cranachan Publishing. Thanks so much to Kelly at Cranachan who sent me a copy to review.  I asked Joseph Lamb ab…

Monsters by Sharon Dogar

As 2018 marked the two hundredth anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein there were a number of books published about Mary Shelley's remarkable life and work. Sharon Dogar's book stands out not least because it is a detailed and closely researched novelisation of the short and frenetic years of Mary's life that led to the creation of Frankenstein but also because it is a tender and intimate portrait of the three sisters; Mary, Claire and Fanny who grew up together in the Godwin household. Sharon Dogar's book is aimed at the young adult audience; the two sisters Mary and Jane (later Claire) who elope with Shelley are after all only sixteen, Shelley himself is just twenty one, though I have no doubt that this novel will appeal far beyond it's target audience. The author brings alive the tangled relationships of the Shelley set, their loves, rivalries, heartbreaks and loss. Death is an ever present spectre at the feast in these shining, intelligent and talente…

The Revenant Express by George Mann

The Revenant Express is the fifth novel in the Newbury and Hobbes series. Sir Maurice Newbury must race across Europe as his assistant Veronica lies close to death, her heart severely wounded. He has commissioned a clockwork heart from Faberge and must travel to St Petersburg accompanied by Veronica's sister Amelia to collect it. However things do not run smoothly, the pair find a dead body in their compartment and it becomes clear that there is someone murderous aboard. I'm a big fan of George Mann and having read his contemporary supernatural mystery books Wychwood and Hallowdene I am now catching up on his backlist so I haven't read all of the previous instalments of Sir Maurice and Veronica's adventures, however although I didn't know all of the details leading up to the events of this book I had no trouble dropping into the story and appreciating the fast paced plot and the engaging characters. If you enjoy historical crime and mystery infused with steampunk …

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Stacey Halls debut novel is not only a visual feast, it is an utterly enveloping tale of two intriguing women from opposite ends of the social spectrum. Fleetwood Shuttleworth is just seventeen but she's already been married for four years. She's had three pregnancies end in stillbirth and is pregnant again, determined that this time she will deliver a healthy child, however she finds a letter from the doctor to her husband which states that she is unlikely to survive another pregnancy. She fears for her life and her child's and she begins to mistrust her husband. Fleetwood meets a young midwife called Alice Grey who promises to help her deliver a healthy child but when women begin to be accused of witchcraft in the local area and Alice is named by the accuser it seems both women's lives are at stake. The story takes place against the backdrop of the infamous Pendle witchtrials and both Alice and Fleetwood were real women who lived in the area. Stacey Halls has done s…

The Binding by Bridget Collins

The Binding is a spellbinding tale of love, loss, memory and betrayal. Emmett Farmer is summoned by the bookbinder to train as her apprentice. In Emmett's world books arouse fear and superstition. The bookbinders create beautiful bindings by hand but the books don't just contain stories, they capture people's memories. Emmett learns that binding is a mysterious art as he watches those who come to be bound; the grieving, the broken hearted, those who want to forget. He is desperate to do more than carve and glue and organise but the bookbinder tells him to wait, that his time will come.
Until one day another bookbinder comes and Emmett's world is turned upside down as he discovers a book with his own name on the cover. Why wonders Emmett, what did he want to forget?
Blending fable, fairy tale, fantasy and historical fiction The Binding will appeal across genres and age groups, it's a book about growing up, about loss and first love, about the pain of being human. A…

Criminally Good Reads

I was lucky enough to win a copy of Will Dean's debut novel Dark Pines; the first in a series featuring Tuva Moodyson and then I was offered a copy of the second in the series by the publisher Point Blank (Thank you Margot) so I read both books in quick succession and I loved them. Tuva works as a reporter on a small local paper in the far North of Sweden. She moved back from London as her mother is very ill and she's desperate for a big story she can really get her teeth into. When two bodies are discovered in the Elk forest outside of town with their eyes removed everyone in the quiet and peaceful community of Gavrik is frightened and as Tuva begins to investigate, the connection to a murder from twenty years ago become obvious. In Red Snow the apparent suicide of the owner of the Liquorice Factory; the towns major employer and a cold blooded murder on the factory grounds might seem unconnected but Tuva is determined to find out what the eccentric family who have run the fa…

Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd Robinson

Laura Shepherd Robinson's debut novel is one of the most brilliant, intricate and page turning books I have read in a long time. It's set in London in the 1780s and follows Captain Harry Corsham as he investigates the death of his close friend the anti-slavery agitator Tad Archer. As Harry tries to retrace his friend's steps he stumbles upon a secret that has been covered up at the highest levels of British Society. I found this book utterly enthralling. I read it in one sitting and felt completely transported to 18th Century London as the author built a wonderful atmosphere; the sights, sounds, smells and the casual violence and brutality. An absolute must read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction. Thanks so much to Rosie at Mantle boks who sent me a copy. Blood and Sugar is available now.

A Class Apart and A Class Entwined by Susie Murphy Blog Tour

Susie Murphy has written two books so far in her A Matter of Class series which features Cormac and Bridget who grew up as best friends on the Oakleigh estate. Bridget's father had a passion for Irish history, language and culture, a love he passed on to his daughter. However with the death of her father Bridget's life changes dramatically, her mother takes her to Dublin and it is several years before she returns to her beloved country home. While she wishes to rekindle old friendships, Cormac is now a servant while she is a lady and not only that, she is engaged. However when Cormac rescues Bridget after a life threatening accident they realise that they feel more than friendship for each other. Set against the backdrop of growing tension between landlords and tenants, A Class Apart is a wonderful sweeping historical romance perfect for fans of A O'Connor, Nicola Cassidy or Kathleen McGurl.

*****Spoiler Alert****

If you haven't read A Class Apart I would advise that …

The Escape by Clare Harvey Blog Tour and Q&A

The Escape is Clare Harvey's fourth book and features a dual timeline with a young German woman; Detta in 1945 as the Russian tanks and the red army begin to march from the east and a young English woman; Miranda in 1989 who is working as a photographer as the Berlin Wall comes down. I loved the parallels that the author drew between the two women both caught up in the huge events of history and both desperate to escape their own personal situations. Miranda is desperate to leave an abusive relationship while Detta helps a British prisoner of war and risks her own safety. This was an utterly riveting page turner, which I finished in just two or three sittings. The author brilliantly captures the atmosphere and intensity of both time periods. This was the first Clare Harvey novel I have read but it won't be the last as I'm eager to now read her previous books. Clare kindly answered a few questions I asked her about her research and writing methods.

Q1. Some of your previous…