Blog Tours; Features/Reviews
#BlogTour | Temple of Dreams by Carolyn Mathews #TempleOfDreams #Excerpt #LoveBooksTours @Carolyn_Mathews @RoundfireBooks @lovebooksgroup
Hello, Sunshines, I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this brilliant blog tour for; Temple of Dreams by Carolyn Mathews. Not only will I be sharing this fascinating book with you, but I also have an exclusive excerpt with you all. Go on, take apeek I hope you love it as much as I do!
Temple Of Dreams by Carolyn Mathews
Genre: Historical / Publisher: Round Fire Books / Format: Ebook, Paperback
Homeless and jobless following the death of his adoptive parents, Sebastian enrols at a college of natural medicine which boasts a sanctuary modelled on an ancient Greek healing centre. After a night in the temple, he dreams of Apollos, a young Athenian defeated in a pankration contest, suffering memory loss. More dreams follow, decrypted by Sybil, the lecturer who insists he keeps a dream journal. Seb is kept busy in the 21st century by a budding relationship with Fliss, which stalls when she tries to persuade him to search for his birth parents. Meanwhile, Apollos, in the fifth century BC, readies himself to attend the festival of the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries, to discover the secrets of how to avoid the perils of the underworld and make it to Elysium.
I am woken by a kiss from Pelagia, who must be freshly bathed and perfumed because she smells wonderful. I respond to her caress and then something Philemon said yesterday makes me turn away from her.
‘What’s wrong, Apollos? Are you ill?’
I can’t think of a tactful way to say what’s on my mind, so I blurt it out.
‘I’m sorry, Pelagia. I should have thought of this before, but it only occurred to me recently. Was it you or your husband who was unable to…who was….
‘Barren?’ she says, with an edge to her voice.
I take her hand and press it over my heart.
‘Did he marry again?’
‘And did he have children?’
‘There is a child but I have it on good authority that his wife pretended to be pregnant and sent one of her father’s slaves to Mount Lycabettos to pick up a newborn boy. If I’d loved him, I might have considered doing the same.’
‘How could she get away with that?’
‘He often travelled abroad on business and she chose an opportune time. She padded herself out and went to her parents’ house for the “birth”. They probably sprinkled some pig’s blood around, to make it more realistic.’
‘What if he finds out?’
‘I think he’d turn a blind eye. They were married for two years before the child “arrived”. This way, it makes him look more of a man.’
‘If it wasn’t his, does that mean you might be fertile?’
Pelagia dropped her cynical pose and giggled.
‘I wouldn’t be surprised, pledged as I am to a goddess of fertility. If I wasn’t before, I probably am now.’
I can’t tell whether this is a yes or a no, but have now grown tired of the subject and proceed to finish what she’d started, making conversation redundant.
About the Author
Carolyn Mathews is the author of the Pandora Trilogy, whose first instalment Transforming Pandora was showcased by The People’s Book Prize in 2014. Carol has an MA in Applied Linguistics and an abiding interest in metaphysics, both of which have profoundly influenced her writing. She lives in Hertfordshire, UK.
You can find more about Carolyn here – http://carolynmathews.co.uk/
#Blogtour | The Place We Call Home Faith Hogan #ThePlaceWecallHome #Review @gerhogan @aria_fiction @BOTBSPublicity
Hello, Sunshines! I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on the blog tour for; The Place We Call Home by Faith Hogan, I read this earlier in the year and loved it, so when I had the opportunity to re-share my review for this new blog tour, I delighted to do so. Go on and have a look, I hope you love it as much as I do!
The Place We Call Home by Faith Hogan
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Aria Fiction
Welcome to Ballycove, the home of Corrigan Mills…
Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Irish countryside the famed mills have created the finest wool in all of Ireland. Run by the seemingly perfect Corrigan family, but every family has its secrets, and how the mills came to be the Corrigan’s is one of them…
Miranda and her husband were never meant to own the mills, until one fateful day catapults them into a life they never thought they’d lead.
Ada has forever lived her life in her sister’s shadow. Wanting only to please her mother and take her place as the new leader of the mill, Ada might just have to take a look at what her heart really wants.
Callie has a flourishing international career as a top designer and a man who loves her dearly, she appears to have it all. When a secret is revealed and she’s unceremoniously turfed out of the design world, Callie might just get what’s she’s been yearning for. The chance to go home.
Simon has always wanted more. More money, more fame, more notoriety. The problem child. Simon has made more enemies than friends over the years, and when one of his latest schemes falls foul he’ll have to return to the people who always believe in him.
Ballycove isn’t just a town in the Irish countryside. It isn’t just the base of the famous mills. It’s a place to call home.
Best-selling author, Faith Hogan returns with a family tale of love, loss, secrets and finding yourself.
Amazon / Kobo / Google Play / iBooks
Set in Ballycove, Western Ireland, The Place We Call Home is a beautifully written, realistic and deeply emotional family saga which spans the generations with its a perfectly interweaving plot which delves into the past and connects it with the present. I love how Faith Hogan delves deep into the Irish way of life in Ballycove, it adds to the story and the characters, which I think makes everything feel very real and authentic.
The setting is absolutely perfect, each scene is vivid and adds a marvellous echoing atmosphere to the story, the setting itself is like an extension of the story like an extra character, always there in the background and adds so much to every scene.
I really won’t say too much about the story as a whole as it is complex and each character’s own story is so interwoven though out that I wouldn’t which to give anything away. But this whole story revolves around the Corrigan and Blair family, who have been mill owners for generations, there are huge secrets and lies, heartache and love. The centre of the community is the mill which isn’t just apart of the family, it’s not a vessel of mystery, but it is peoples lives, roofs over heads and food on the table. I love how the mill is cemented into the book, how realistically it’s importance to the community is written.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the family and discovering the secrets that have been so cleverly hidden and then revealed throughout the book, Faith Hogan never fails to grasp the reader’s attention and their heart with her perfectly written stories, the way she can take every human emotion and the tangled relationship which are within every family is a master class of writing. The wring is strong, intelligent and thought-provoking, you are drawn into the world she has created for her characters, you follow each of them as though you were walking right beside them.
Each character is brilliantly written, true they are not all likeable, but as this is a glimpse of real-life is would be odd if everyone was sweetness and nice, as we all know the world isn’t full of good people and this is again where Faith’s talent at writing every nuance of human life comes into its own.
This is a wonderfully poignant story with family at its heart, full of love and lies. I will admit that it did start off a little slow for my liking but it soon picks up and I soon easily fell into it’s gentle and at times a soothing pace. If you love your family saga’s then this is the book for you, definitely highly recommended.
This was an arc via the publisher and Netgalley, which I voluntarily reviewed as apart of this blog tour.
About the Author
Faith Hogan is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of five contemporary fiction novels. Her books have featured as Book Club Favorites, Net Galley Hot Reads and Summer Must Reads. She writes grown-up women’s fiction which is unashamedly uplifting, feel good and inspiring.
Faith’s latest book, The Place We Call Home is published in January 2020.
She writes crime fiction as Geraldine Hogan – Her Sisters Bones is available now!
Faith gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway.
She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She’s a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger – except of course when it is raining!
Blog Tour Schedule
With thanks to, Sarah Hardy at Book On The Bright Side Publicity & Promo for the invitation to this wonderful blog tour. Twitter: @BOTBSPublicity / Facebook: Book On The Bright Side
#BlogTour | The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner #TheJaneAustenSociety #Review @NatalieMJenner @StMartinsPress
Hello, Sunshines! I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this wonderful blog tour for; The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner. I am super excited to share my review of the enchanting book with you, I hope you love as much as I do!
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Format: Ebook, Audio, Hardback
Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.
A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.
The full unabridged text of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was read by the distinguished English film, television, theatre and voice actor Richard Armitage for the audiobook recording. Best known by many period drama fans for his outstanding performance as John Thornton in the BBC television adaptation of North and South (2004), Armitage also portrayed Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit (2012 – 2014).
YouTube audiobook excerpt
Praise for Natalie Jenner
“Just like a story written by Austen herself, Jenner’s first novel is brimming with charming moments, endearing characters, and nuanced relationships…Readers won’t need previous knowledge of Austen and her novels to enjoy this tale’s slow revealing of secrets that build to a satisfying and dramatic ending.” ―Booklist (starred review)
“Few things draw disparate people together so quickly as discovering they love the same writers. Few writers cement such friendships as deeply as Austen does. I believe that the readers of Jenner’s book will fall in love with the readers inside Jenner’s book, all of us thinking and dreaming of Austen the whole while. What could be better? Nothing, that’s what! A wonderful book, a wonderful read.” ―Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club
“Fans of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will adore The Jane Austen Society… A charming and memorable debut, which reminds us of the universal language of literature and the power of books to unite and heal.” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris
This is a real sweet and feel-good story of love, friendship and the power of reading! If anything this charming tale just goes to prove that books really are the balm for the soul, they can bring so much joy, which is what I am assuming Jane Austen would have loved to hear, that her books have brought people so much happiness and joy.
I have to say that I am immensely impressed by how solid and beautiful the writing is if I didn’t know that this was Natalie Jenner’s debut book I wouldn’t have believed it. This is a gorgeous, heart-warming and inspiring book which really does drum home the power of good friendships.
I have to be honest and say that when I volunteered to review this for this blog tour, it wasn’t the Jane Austen link that caught my attention first, I did love the sound of it but what captured my attention was the era, I love a WW2 or post WW2 novel and I caught up by the idea that the power of books and one author, the history and legacy of a place can help restore the hope in a time that was so fraught with its own challenges, the war is over but that isn’t the end; men are coming home, women are losing their positions, loved ones are lost forever and those left behind are having to cope plus on top of that there is still unease and rationing it was those aspects and how the Society would help rebuild peoples lives that captured me most.
Set during 1948, we are whisked away to the picturesque village of Chawton, the last home of one Jane Austen a place where she spent the last days of her life. Unfortunately, Janes familial estate is under threat which is where a group of completely different people all come together in a shared hope and attempt to save not only Jane’s home but her legacy too, and the Jane Austen Society is born!
Each one of these eight individuals may have come together to preserve history and to keep Jane’s legacy of friendship and love from books alive, they have thrown themselves in on the task, but they each are battling their own personal issues. They are all so different each one is from a completely different world from the next each has come into the village with different reasons, they are all trying to either forget, move on or find a new life, some have suffered because of the war, some are facing the worst possible moments of their lives, some have found themselves in tragedy but. But despite their differences and their struggles, they have two things in common; 1. they all need a friend and 2. they are all passionate about Jane Austen.
I can’t really go into too much detail regarding this book, as apart from each of the members own personal histories and drama, the back blurb practically tells the story itself,, it’s not a taxing heavy read you can sit back and lose a couple of hours easily as you are transported to Chawton. I love the overall feel to this is an enchanting and engaging, its beautiful nod to one of this countries greats, but what surprised me most is that this is Natalie Jenner’s debut book, I would never have thought that as the writing is so clear and rich in detail, it’s definitely easy to read the story flows over the reader like a swirling mist and before you know it you’re near the end and wondering how that happened.
It’s a simple story one that will really hold onto your heart and what I love about it is that it can be enjoyed by all readers of historical fiction, whether you are an Austen fan or not. I know this as a fact as – and yes, I realise that this admission will probably get me outcast for life, but hey, I am all for speaking the truth – I have never read a Jane Austen and I don’t particularly like Pride and Prejudice, I am and always have been a Bronte lass, sorry to all Janeites.
Oh and for those who like audiobooks, I would definitely recommend this one, I am not a big fan of audio, in fact, I can never get into them much preferring to read a book for myself but The Jane Austen Society is narrated by the very talented Richard Armitage (Yes, I know ladies, its Mr Thornton and now we shall all stop and remember that kiss…#DoubleSigh) so whether you like audio’s or not, who can say no to Richard Armitage? 😉
Spotify users can access a playlist for THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY here – The Jane Austen Society Playlist.
The playlist includes music from various film adaptions of Jane Austen’s books, as well as film scores by such incomparable artists as Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone, Rachel Portman, and Michael Nyman.
About the Author
Natalie Jenner is the debut author of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen wrote or revised her major works. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in English Literature and Law and has worked for decades in the legal industry. She recently founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.
Blog Tour Schedule
Join the virtual online book tour of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, Natalie Jenner’s highly acclaimed debut novel May 25 through June 30, 2020. Seventy-five popular blogs and websites specializing in historical fiction, historical romance, women’s fiction, and Austenesque fiction will feature interviews and reviews of this post-WWII novel set in Chawton, England.
May 25 Jane Austen’s World
May 26 Frolic Media
May 26 A Bookish Affair
May 26 Courtney Reads Romance
May 26 Margie’s Must Reads
May 26 The Reading Frenzy
May 27 Gwendalyn’s Books
May 28 Getting Your Read On
May 28 Living Read Girl
May 28 The Lit Bitch
May 29 History Lizzie
May 29 Silver Petticoat Reviews
May 30 Historical Fiction Reader
May 31 Jane Austen in Vermont
June 01 From Pemberley to Milton
June 01 My Jane Austen Book Club
June 01 AustenBlog
June 02 Lu’s Reviews
June 02 The Green Mockingbird
June 03 Relz Reviews
June 03 Impressions in Ink
June 04 The Caffeinated Bibliophile
June 04 Life of Literature
June 04 Laura’s Reviews
June 05 Reading Ladies Book Club
June 05 Bookish Rantings
June 06 From the TBR Pile
June 07 Rachel Dodge
June 07 An Historian About Town
June 08 Bringing up Books
June 08 Austenesque Reviews
June 09 Captivated Reading
June 09 Savvy Verse and Witt
June 10 Lady with a Quill
June 10 Drunk Austen
June 11 Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
June 11 Inkwell Inspirations
June 12 Nurse Bookie
June 12 A Bookish Way of Life
June 13 Calico Critic
June 14 Jane Austen’s World
June 15 Stuck in a Book
June 15 Storybook Reviews
June 15 Confessions of a Book Addict
June 16 Literary Quicksand
June 16 Becky on Books
June 17 The Reading Frenzy
June 17 Anita Loves Books
June 18 Chicks, Rogues, & Scandals
June 18 The Write Review
June 19 Diary of Eccentric
June 20 Cracking the Cover
June 21 Short Books & Scribes
June 22 Reading the Past
June 22 Babblings of a Bookworm
June 23 My Vices and Weaknesses
June 23 The Book Diva Reads
June 24 Books, Teacups & Reviews
June 24 Wishful Endings
June 25 Robin Loves Reading
June 25 Bookfoolery
June 26 Lit and Life
June 26 Vesper’s Place
June 27 Foxes and Fairy Tales
June 28 Probably at the Library
June 28 Scuffed Slippers Wormy Books
June 29 The Anglophile Channel
June 29 So Little Time…
June 30 BookNAround
#BlogTour | The Summer Island Swap by Samantha Tonge #TheSummerIslandSwap #Review @SamTongeWriter @aria_fiction
Hell, Sunshines! I have the great pleasure to be today’s stop on this wonderful blog tour for; The Summer Island Swap by Samantha Tonge. I am super excited to be sharing my review of this charming book with you and I also have an exclusive excerpt for your all to enjoy, I do hope you love this book as much as I do!
The Summer Island Swap by Samantha Tonge
Genre: Contemporary /Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Aria Fiction
Sometimes the best holidays are the ones you least expect…
After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them.
But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort.
So now Sarah’s battling mosquitos, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.
Perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Mandy Baggot and Heidi Swain.
Amazon / Kobo / Google Play
This is only the second book I have read by Samantha Tonge and again I was completely hooked with her witty and heart-warming story of friendship and family. I really love Samantha’s writing, you are not only swept away on a fun and enjoyable adventure but with some serious subjects that make you stop and really think about the world we live in.
Sarah hasn’t been on holiday in an age, after a pretty turbulent year she is ready to relax and allow her mind and body to chill and wind down. But as things stand losing her job and not having anything else in the pipeline plus not money, the long-wished-for dream of a holiday is just that; a dream. That is until her sister; Amy wins some money and decides to take them both on a dream holiday, she is going to whisked them both away to a sunny and relaxing island.
I really like Sarah, her story really spoke to me, I related to her far more then I did Amy. She is a very relatable and likable woman, she has always done her best, worked hard and always looked after her little sister. She is the sort of woman that anyone can instantly like, she is a little down on her luck and deserves a little happiness and fun.
Sarah thinks that Amy has booked them a glorious Caribbean holiday, four weeks of nothing but luxury and pampering. Oh, how wrong she is! It turn’s out that the holiday is in fact, a paid voluntary conservation scheme, instead of a month of sunning herself and being waited on hand and foot, it in fact means a month of hard graft.
What I really liked about this book is that even thought there is a hint of a romance, it doesn’t overshadow the main plot, this is all about building confidence, binding those family ties and finding ones feet again, it’s all about friendship and the strength of family and self discovery.
The romance aspect is really sweet, and to be perfectly honest this book would be just as delightful whether there was romance or not.
There is such a important message hidden within, not only to that doing things for your is important to moving forward and coping with past issues. But there is a serious aspect in the conservation side which does make you stop and think.
Overall, a hugely enjoyable, inspirational and perfect escapist story, at times a little predictable but I was completely hooked!
‘I’ll still have to clear it at work. I’m not sure how Prue will feel about me taking a month off.’
Just the mention of my boss’s name made my stomach knot.
‘No one’s indispensable. Not even wonderful you,’ she called back.
My chest felt warm. Over recent years, Amy had matured and started to look out for me, cooking dinner and mowing the lawn. However, I’d never lose my maternal feelings towards her. When we were ten and six ours was quite an age gap. As was eighteen and fourteen when I’d had to leave her behind with Dad but promised we’d live together again. I beat the sugar and butter, remembering her tears and his folded arms as I dragged my suitcase past the fountain and out of the huge driveway, into the street. I’d finally realised I had to leave after… I swallowed. No. I wasn’t going to think about that now.
I let Nelly into the back garden, busied myself with ingredients and cleaned up whilst the cookies baked. Their sweet aroma wafted through the air as I carried them into the lounge, on a tray, with two coffees.
‘Good timing,’ said Amy and turned off her screen, looking pleased with herself. I put the tray on the table and joined her.
‘Is it all booked?’
She nodded. ‘A modest deposit paid. The rest is due in the middle of June, two weeks before we leave.’
‘Can’t you at least share which part of the world we’re visiting?’
‘That would be telling,’ she replied airily and took the largest cookie.
I jumped up and held her right arm firm whilst tickling the armpit. ‘I won’t stop until I find out, Amy Sterling.’
However, she was as strong as me these days and, giggling, held the cookie in her mouth and forced both of my hands away. I sat down once more. I recognised that expression. She was determined to keep her secret. Sometimes, with my impulsive sister, that could be a dangerous thing, like when she’d agreed to do a charity skydive with colleagues at work. She didn’t tell me until the morning of the jump.
‘Just a clue. A teeny one,’ I said. ‘Please…’
‘I’ve never seen you this excited before. Well, not since you were made assistant manager. Oh, and the time you found that fancy moisturiser for half price.’
‘It wasn’t just any moisturiser. The Duchess of Cambridge uses it.’ I pressed my palms together. ‘At least let me guess… the Canary Islands? Barbados? Australia’s an island, right? I mean, you and me – we share most things, don’t we?’
‘Best buddies, always,’ she said solemnly.
It was a promise we’d made to each other, the day after Mum’s funeral. And sure enough, we confided in each other about our latest celebrity crushes, about our dreams for the future; we put the world to rights over Chardonnay and Pringles. I knew her favourite colour, favourite food, favourite band. She could always tell when I’d had a stressful day at work and, without prying, would make me a hot chocolate, fetch a blanket and switch on my current Netflix obsession.
* Excerpt used with permission of the publisher as apart of this blog tour.
About the Author
Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.
When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.
She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award
Website: http://samanthatonge.co.uk/ / Twitter: @SamTongeWriter / Facebook: @SamanthaTongeAuthor
Follow the Publisher
Blog Tour Schedule
Hello, Sunshines! I hope you are well? I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this amazingly epic blog tour for; The Sea gate by Jane Johnson. I have a brilliant exclusive excerpt to share with you all, which I am sure you will love. This book sounded so good that even though I initially signed up to this blog tour with an excerpt, I did manage to grab a copy of this book from NetGalley and I will be sharing my review of that in the next week or so. But, until then I hope you love the sound of this as much as I did!
The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson
Genre: Time Slip, Women’s Fiction, Historical, Mystery
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Format: Ebook, Paperback, Hardpack
One house, two women, a lifetime of secrets…
Following the death of her mother, Becky begins the sad task of sorting through her empty flat. Starting with the letters piling up on the doormat, she finds an envelope post-marked from Cornwall. In it is a letter that will change her life forever. A desperate plea from her mother’s elderly cousin, Olivia, to help save her beloved home.
Becky arrives at Chynalls to find the beautiful old house crumbling into the ground, and Olivia stuck in hospital with no hope of being discharged until her home is made habitable.
Though daunted by the enormity of the task, Becky sets to work. But as she peels back the layers of paint, plaster and grime, she uncovers secrets buried for more than seventy years. Secrets from a time when Olivia was young, the Second World War was raging, and danger and romance lurked round every corner…
The Sea Gate is a sweeping, spellbinding novel about the lives of two very different women, and the secrets that bind them together.
Amazon / Kobo / Google Play
Praise for The Sea Gate
‘A beautifully written and intriguing story that stayed with me long after I had turned the last page’ Santa Montefiore.
‘I’ve so enjoyed the hours I’ve spent reading the novel. I loved the warm, vivid characters, especially salty Olivia, and was completely swept up in this intriguing and beautifully researched mystery of wartime Cornwall. It was quite magical’ Rachel Hore.
‘Full of secrets, passion, and with two strong heroines, this book satisfies every need. It’s utterly romantic and and page-turningly exciting. I can’t recommend it highly enough’ Katie Fforde.
‘I so enjoyed this. The relationship between the two women of such very different generations, the parallel love affairs, the feeling of place are all so well done. It’s a treat!’ Amanda Craig.
‘A beautiful evocative story capturing the darkness of Cornwall and its piercing beauty … This had me in tears’ Liz Fenwick.
‘The Sea Gate just blew me away. Utterly compelling and one of the few books for a long time that kept me reading deep into the night’ Barbara Erskine.
The next day James, Evie and I make our way to Mum’s flat, which lies at the top of an unprepossessing building on the edge of Warwick. James turns the spare key in the lock and pushes the door, but it won’t budge more than a few inches. I drop to my knees on the dusty doorstep and reach around the frame to find that the obstruction is a pile of unopened post. I claw it away till the door opens a bit wider and James steps inside. I am about to get up to follow him, but Evie presses a hand down on my shoulder and steps over me, placing the spike heels of her crocodile-skin boots carefully into the islands of floorboard revealed between the ocean of envelopes and flyers. ‘Good grief,’ she says as she passes. ‘Anyone would think she’d been dead for years.’
I stare at her retreating back in disbelief.
She stalks down the hallway and stares in passing at the framed pictures on the wall, dismissing them as worthless. Yes, Evie, they’re barely worth the cost of the canvas they’re daubed on: I painted them.
I gather the post into a pile, imagining Mum lying in her hospital bed with the stupid, oppressive reminders of ordinary life spilling through the letter box day after day. Sixty-four years old, gone without warning; of course the bills and letters and junk mail have kept on coming – no one expected this sudden departure. Again, the enormity of her passing hits me. I will never be able to call her on a whim, to ask if she’s seen the size of the moon tonight, or to check on her recipe for scones; never share another Christmas lunch with her, never have to sneakily return ill-fitting birthday presents to Marks & Spencer. Never be able to hear her say, Don’t worry, darling, I’m sure it’s nothing. I sniff back tears.
James reappears with a roll of black bin bags, a long length of which he tears off and passes to me. ‘Here you go. Evie, bless her, is going through Mum’s clothes.’
I feel suddenly hot with outrage. ‘Don’t you think you should have asked me to do that?’
‘Calm down! We thought it’d be too much for you, so Evie volunteered. You should be grateful: you know what a good eye she has. She’ll be able to tell at a glance if there’s anything worth selling on, though she said right away she thinks most of it will have to go into recycling or to charity shops—’
‘It’s not Mum’s fault she didn’t dress the way Evie thinks she should. Dad left with all the money and then fucked off and died after spending the lot on his mistress!’
James shuffles his feet. ‘No need to swear, not very ladylike.’
Not very ladylike, I mouth at his back. When did my brother become such a prig? Probably ever since Evie started campaigning.
Gathering the post into my arms, I take it into the lounge and dump it on the coffee table, knocking a framed photograph to the floor in the process. James picks it up and stares at it, hands it to me. The photo is faded into the ochre and pale blue of old Kodak stock. It shows the four of us, Mum and Dad with James and me, standing in front of a hedge and old gate, and beyond us a shining expanse of sea stretching into flared-out infinity. James and I look about eight or so. You’d never know we were twins. We don’t look alike, have never even had much in common. As soon as we’d developed our own little personalities the family had fractured along gender lines: me and Mum, with our fine, fair hair and introversion, our love of books and plants; James and Dad, dark and confident and loud, disappearing to take part in manly pursuits. It’s a window into a lost age.
*This excerpt has been used with permission from the publisher as apart of this blog tour.
About The Author
Jane Johnson is a British novelist and publisher. She is the UK editor for George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb and Dean Koontz and was for many years publisher of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Married to a Berber chef she met while researching The Tenth Gift, she lives in Cornwall and Morocco.
Follow Jane on Twitter: @JaneeJohnsonBakr
Follow the Publisher
Blog Tour Schedule
#Review | Vixen (Georgina Garrett Series #3) by Sam Michaels #Vixen #GeorginaGarrett #BlogTour #AriaAddicts @SamMichaelsGG @aria_fiction
Hello Sunshines, I hope everyone is safe and well?! I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of this amazing book with you all today; Vixen by Sam Michaels. TI am super excited to be sharing my review of this fabulous book with you all, plus I have an excerpt which I hope you will love as much as I do.
This post was scheduled to be shared in April, but as we all know one thing leads to another and we fall behind…..Oops! I am finally caught up with my late blog tours and can focus on those late reviews! So, here it is ridiculously late, sorry! I hope you all enjoy it!
Vixen by Sam Micheals
Series: Georgina Garrett Series, Book 3
Publisher: Aria Fiction
Genre: Historical Fiction/Saga
While World War Two rages on around them, the gangs of London are fighting for their turf…
There might be a war on, but that doesn’t stop Georgina Garrett running her business with an iron fist. No one said running the Battersea gang was going to be easy, but her unflinchable nature makes Georgina unstoppable.
With a role that requires a ruthless ability to seek revenge and pay out crippling punishments, Georgina’s enemies are growing in number. With a target on her back, Georgina knows she must do everything to protect her family. But, with the loss of someone closest to her, can Georgina rise up from the ashes or allow a usurper take her crown?
Perfect for fans of Peaky Blinders, Martina Cole and Lesley Pearse.
Amazon / Kobo / iBook / Google Play
‘Are you all right, dear? You look rather pasty,’ Benjamin said as Ivy climbed into his car beside him.
‘Yes, I’m fine thank you. Come on, let’s go,’ Ivy answered curtly.
‘All right, missy, no need for the attitude – I was only asking.’
‘Sorry, Benjamin. It was them sirens. Take no notice of me. Anyway, you ain’t looking too clever yourself.’
‘I’m exhausted, dear. Working six nights in The Penthouse and being Miss Garrett’s accountant is quite tiring.’
‘Maybe you should give up one of the jobs? I’m sure Miss Garrett wouldn’t mind finding another manager for her club, or another accountant.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous. I couldn’t possibly trust anyone else to care for Miss Garrett’s financial interests and I’d rather die than hand over management of The Penthouse. It’s my baby.’
‘You could take a couple of nights off and I could look after the place for you. Or don’t you trust me?’
‘Oh, Ivy, of course I trust you. But I love it really. If I wasn’t in the club, I’d only be sitting at home and missing it. Don’t worry, a glass of champagne will perk me up. By the way, those earrings are rather stunning.’
‘Miss G gave ’em to me. I looked after Alfie the other day and Miss G said she had a bag of jewellery in the bottom of her wardrobe and I could help meself. I only took these and a ring. Lovely, ain’t they, and I fink they’re real diamonds.’
‘Yes, my dear, they certainly are.’
‘I’ve never had real diamonds before. I was a bit scared to wear ’em at first.’
‘They suit you and I can see they are very good quality so take care of them.’
Benjamin wasn’t surprised by Georgina’s generosity. And when it came to jewels, she wasn’t one to wear many so he assumed the bag of jewellery would soon be making its way to his father’s jewellery shop. From there, it would be moved to his second cousin’s shop in Manchester, exchanged and sold on. His father had been a fence for years, the name Ezzy Harel synonymous with stolen quality jewels. It had made him quite a wealthy man.
Twenty minutes later, Benjamin unlocked the doors to the club and turned on the lights of the winding corridors that led down to the basement where the private members’ club was located. ‘I think someone’s been in here,’ he whispered.
‘Don’t be daft. The place was locked up when we arrived.’
‘Yes, I know, Ivy, but I can sense something.’
‘Yes! I’m sure of it. Wait here, let me check.’
‘No way, I’m coming with you.’
‘All right, but stay behind me.’
Benjamin felt Ivy yank him back and she was now marching ahead of him. ‘I’m a damn sight tougher than you,’ she said, ‘so I’ll go first.’
He didn’t argue and followed behind, his heart pounding. Once in the basement, Ivy pulled open the doors and shouted, ‘Hello… Anyone here?’
No-one answered but Benjamin’s nostrils twitched at the faint whiff of burning.
‘Can you smell that?’ Ivy asked.
‘Yes, I can. Quick, have a look around. I’m sure something is on fire.’
Ivy dashed one way and Benjamin another. As he approached the stage, the smell became stronger but there was no sign of any flames. Then he realised. ‘The dressing room,’ he called to Ivy who was now running towards him.
The door was closed and Ivy went to reach for the handle.
*This excerpt has been supplied and used with permission from the publisher as apart of this blog tour post.
I try not to start reading a series halfway through, its a personal rule of mine mostly I do stick to it, but there are occasions when a book comes along that is so intriguing and which sounded to be right up my street, then I do throw my own rule book out of the window and give the book a go. And, I am so pleased I did, I thoroughly enjoyed this, I have to admit that it was the tag line of ‘Perfect for fan’s of Peaky Blinders‘ that caught my attention first – for those who know me, will know how much I love that series and I am so pleased that it didn’t disappoint.
Even though I do think that by jumping into this one – book three – and not reading the previous two first, I have missed out on vital parts of the plot regarding Georgina Garrett, this is definably one of those series’ that you really should read from the beginning. Which is nothing at all do with the writing or the story itself; both of which are amazing and flawless, its all to do with the fact that I was impatient, but I will definitely be reading the previous two in the series which will probably follow by re-reading this one again – just to see how the story flows throughout the series. Which is an odd little quirk of mine, which I do when I have on the rare occasion started a series in the middle.
Anyhow, enough about me and my odd reading habits!
I can’t fault the writing one bit, it’s flawless; captivating, vivid, compelling, it’s an absolute joy to read, the story is fast-paced, thrilling and thoroughly engaging – this book has TV series/film written all over it.
The characters are brilliant, they each bring some magic to the overall story, they are brilliantly created with such realism you would think that they were real people which certainly grabbed my attention. There are times when your heart really goes out to Georgina; she is tough, brutal, savvy, dangerous, she is a born leader, but then you have the other side of her mask; the mother, the wife she is caring and passionate. She isn’t the most liked person in the area where she lives, but I don’t think she particularly cares about that, she does her part for the war with her counterfeiting ring; forging ration books and the like and she helps when people need help. In my opinion, she is an amazing, resourceful, hardworking, devoted and admirable woman who has pushed herself to the front of her game in what is essentially a man’s world – you know me, I do love a book which has a strong woman who can stand on her own two feet in a man’s world.
If you’re like me and love tales of east end villains, the likes of the ‘Peaky Blinders’ brutal, bloody, ducking and diving all led by a woman then this is the perfect book. I loved it, I honestly cannot say a single negative word against it. I loved the action-packed and fast-paced plot, which was highly addictive but very grounded in the fact that Georgina is very family-focused. I loved the diverse and fabulous characters, it’s a thrilling, dramatic engaging game of cat and mouse which will take the reader on a whirlwind adventure through back streets and the darker side of London and the war,
As the tag line says; if you love Peaky Blinders, then you will love this and I couldn’t agree more!
About the Author
Sam Michaels writes gritty historical crime sagas set in Battersea, South London, which is where she was born and bred, the council estates being her playground.
After leaving school at sixteen with no qualifications, Sam married soon after and had a son. The marriage ended quickly, and as a single mother, she worked in various retail positions until undertaking an Open University degree. This led to Sam becoming an analytical scientist and then into technical sales where she met her husband.
A few years later, they moved from Hampshire to Spain. It was then that her mother, the Sunday Times best-selling author, Kitty Neale, inspired Sam to put pen to paper. She now writes her novels in sunnier climates with the company of her husband, four dogs and six cats.
Blog Tour Schedule
I just want to make a brief apology to Sam and the team over at Aria for not posting this review on my day of this amazing blog tour. I think many will agree with me when I say the last few weeks/months have been a bit on the weird side and I’m afraid I have let things slide a little and now I am drastically playing catch up.
So, for all those who missed out on the blog tour, why not check out each of these amazing blogs which participated in this tour and show them some love?
Website: www.ariafiction.com / Twitter: @aria_fiction / Facebook: @ariafiction / Instagram: @ariafiction
#BlogTour | Another Us by Kirsten Hesketh #AnotherUS #Excerpt #LoveBooksTours @Kirsten_Hesketh @canelo_co @lovebooksgroup
Hello, Sunshines, I hope you are all well? I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this wonderful blog tour for; Another Us by Kirsten Hesket, not only will I be sharing this great book with you all, but I also have an exclusive excerpt. I hope you love it as much as I do, enjoy!
Another Us by Kirsten Hesket
Genre: Women’s Fiction
What if Emma isn’t the person she thought she was?
Her younger son has just been diagnosed with autism.
She’s accidentally quit her job.
The marriage she was dedicated to suddenly seems like a sham.
She’s pretty sure that she is going to have an affair with a hot new dad at the school.
The only thing that stays the same is everyone else. Emma realises it’s not them – it’s her. But if she’s not who she thought she was, can her old life fit in with the new Emma?
Compassionate, funny and poignant, Another Us is perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and Fiona Gibson.
Jack took a deep breath and nodded his head. ‘Yeah. Sorry. I wasn’t being me.’
He was as white as a sheet.
A small, vulnerable, precious ten-year-old boy. I really shouldn’t have shouted.
‘Right, let’s get you home,’ said Daniel. ‘I think the Healey family has made quite enough of a spectacle of itself for one evening.’
I wanted to go home. I really did. I wanted to go home, have a cup of tea, be with Jack… be with them all. But I couldn’t just abandon Mandy.
‘The tattoo tent—’ I started.
‘Oh, for goodness sake, Emma,’ said Daniel. ‘Does that really matter at a time like this? OK, I’ll take Jack and Lily home and you stay with your precious PTA.’
Before I could answer, he was gone, Jack and Lily trailing behind him. I stood there staring after them all.
Was I really that useless?
Was it really my fault?
Then I turned and walked slowly back across the playground.
A wave of noise and light almost winded me as I approached the hall. I felt exhausted, overwhelmed… helpless.
‘Emma. Are you OK?’ It was Paul, appearing at my side.
‘Not really,’ I said. I didn’t even have the energy to pretend that everything was all right.
‘Yeah, I saw you come out with Jack,’ said Paul. ‘I was going to come over but then Dan pitched up. Where are they all now?’
‘Gone home,’ I said. ‘I’ve got to stay and do the bloody tattoos.’
‘No, you don’t,’ said Paul. ‘Mandy will understand. Oh, Emma, love, you’re shaking. Come here.’
He pulled me into his arms. It was a friendly, comforting hug rather than anything else but suddenly I was weeping against his shoulder.
‘Oh God, I’m so bloody useless,’ I sobbed. ‘I’m a terrible mother.’
I felt Paul smile against my hair. ‘No, you’re not,’ he said. ‘You’re a lovely mum.’
‘I’m bloody not. I have no idea what do to when Jack gets like that.’
Paul stroked my hair. ‘That’s because it’s hard,’ he said.
About the Author
Kirsten has a background in advertising and now runs her own consultancy specialising in psychological interviewing and focus groups. Over the past 25 years, she has interviewed the Great British public on everything from Rolos to razors and vacuums to Viagra.
Kirsten is married with a son and a daughter and two exceptionally fluffy moggies. She is a keen amateur archaeologist and loves to spend her weekends hacking through the mud on a local Roman dig.
She is also a staunch supporter of Wycombe Wanderers – especially when they are winning!
Kirsten can be found on Twitter as @kirsten_hesketh
Blog Tour Schedule
#BlogTour | The Woman In the Painting by Kerry Postle #TheWomanInThePainting #Review @kerry_postle @HQDigitalUK
Hello, Sunshines, I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this wonderful blog tour for; The Woman in the Painting by Kerry Postle. I can’t wait to share my review with you all, I hope you love it as much as I did.
The Woman In The Painting by Kerry Postle
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: HQ Digital
Release Date: 23rd July 2020
‘She’s beautiful,’ I told him. ‘Hair like skeins of silk; deep, brown eyes that sparkle in the light like jewels; beautiful lips, deep pink, and as juicy as ripe fruit.’
Ideas rippled in the pools of his eyes. ‘I must paint her,’ he said
1508. In Rome, artists are everywhere and feted as gods. But the most celebrated amongst them, a man who can paint beauty itself, is Raphael. When he touches brush to canvas, his subjects burst to life; he takes base metal and turns it to glistening gold.
When Raphael meets Margarita Luti, a baker’s daughter, he is beguiled and inspired in equal measure. As his muse, her face becomes that of a thousand Madonnas, but it is his portraits of her which reveal his full talents – and which will become his downfall.
For Raphael is wanted for greater things than a mere baker’s daughter. He is soon promised to the niece of a cardinal, a man upon whose connections and commissions the artist’s future relies. Without his good will, Raphael will be ruined.
Raphael must make a choice between his love for Margarita and his future as an artist – a choice that will have devastating consequences.
Inspired by a heartbreaking true story, this stunning and evocative novel is perfect for fans of Debbie Rix, Kate Furnivall and Dinah Jefferies.
After reading the previous by Kerry Postle, I was really looking forward to reading this one and I can happily say, I was not disappointed. It was a little slow-paced for my liking, there are long-winded chapters that did carry on a little too much, which I think could have been shorter and still told the overall story, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Set in 1508; the Italian Renaissance is in full swing, artists are revered and loved by all this tells the story of maybe not as a well-known artist, but one of the very best; Raphael, a man whom people think has been touched by God himself for the beauty he creates on the canvas. When Raphael meets alluring and utterly beautiful Margarita, the daughter of a baker he is enthralled and transfixed by her, she becomes his muse and also his downfall. He may love her dearly but a mere bakers daughter isn’t good enough for the likes of the great Raphael as he is promised to another, a woman he doesn’t want but a woman who has the connections that any artist needs in this era to be able to further his career.
But will he give up the woman he loves his human heart or will his artist’s one win and he does as expected of him?
I learned so much about Italian art from this, I have read a few other stories that feature Italian artist’s from the Renaissance, so I had heard of the artist mentioned in this book. I loved this is inspired by the true love story of Raphael and Margarita, their story was one of love, passion and heartbreak. It is obvious from reading this, that this story and the history is a real love of Kerry’s, her passion for those Renaissance artists shines through, the research and attention to detail are fabulous it’s clear and vivid. But more than that, after reading this it does leave you intrigued by the artwork mentioned.
I was intrigued by the sound of this as soon as I read the back blurb, I am fascinated with this era there is something about Italian history that really pulls you in and captures the attention. This is a beautifully poignant and compelling book that will leave the reader feeling all the love of any Renaissance artist.
This was an arc copy via the publisher, which I voluntarily reviewed as apart of this blog tour.
About the Author
Kerry loves art, history and literature.
In her debut novel, ‘The Artist’s Muse’, she explores the artist Egon Schiele’s relationship with his model Wally Neuzil and shows that it isn’t only Schiele’s paintings of Wally that shimmer and shock.
Kerry’s second novel, ‘A Forbidden Love’, is set during the Spanish Civil War and tells a rousing and ultimately uplifting story: that when war has taken everything away from us we are still left with our humanity.
With the author’s third novel, ‘The Woman in the Painting’, she returns to the world of art. Set in Rome at the start of the 16th century the author shares with us the heartbreaking story behind the artist Raphael’s portrait of his lover, Margarita Luti. Known as ‘The Baker’s Daughter’, this portrait hides a secret…
For more about Kerry Postle visit; http://frockfriday.co.uk/
Blog Tour Schedule
#BlogTour | These Lost and Broken Things by Helen Fields #TheseLostAndBrokenThings #LoveBookTours @Helen_Fields @Lovebooksgroup
Hello, Sunshines, I have the massive pleasure to be today’s stop on this amazing blog tour for; These Lost and Broken Things by Helen Fields. I am super excited to be sharing my review of this astounding book with you all. So grab that cuppa, take a seat and enjoy!
These Lost and Broken Things by Helen Fields
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Wailing Banshee
Girl. Mother. Assassin.
How dangerous is a woman with nothing left to lose?
The year is 1905. London is a playground for the rich and a death trap for the poor. When Sofia Logan’s husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her penniless with two young children, she knows she will do anything to keep them from the workhouse. But can she bring herself to murder? Even if she has done it before…
Emmet Vinsant, wealthy industrialist, offers Sofia a job in one of his gaming houses. He knows more about Sofia’s past than he has revealed. Brought up as part of a travelling fair, she’s an expert at counting cards and spotting cheats, and Vinsant puts her talents to good use. His demands on her grow until she finds herself with blood on her hands.
Set against the backdrop of the Suffragette protests, with industry-changing the face of the city but disease still rampant, and poverty the greatest threat of all, every decision you make is life or death. Either yours or someone else’s. Read best-selling crime writer Helen Fields’ first explosive historical thriller.
I cannot put into words how much I loved this book, I loved every single moment, from the back blurb I was instantly fascinated but the moment I started reading, those first few pages had me gripped, I went flying through the pages devouring every word with greed. I was hooked like a fish on a line with Sofia and her sad and sorry tale of hardship and turmoil.
I have always been a fan of darker and gritter historical’s add-in that it is set in one of my favourite era’s; the late Victorian/Edwardian with a backdrop of the women’s rights movement; the Suffragette’s March. Plus, it really shows just how far a woman will go to protect her children when she has nothing left.
Full disclosure that I hadn’t read anything by Helen Fields before, I have heard so many great things about her work though and I know for a fact that after reading this amazing book, I will be reading more from her – maybe this is the time I started delving back into crime thrillers?
The story opens when Sofia is a mere child of twelve who sneaks away from her camp to play a few rounds of cards, something she is rather good at, even at this young age she is a brilliant card counter. Unfortunately, her plan goes wrong, and in that moment her life changes forever. Faster forward to 1905 where she is happily married to the man she did love, with two little children, lives isn’t perfect but at least she always thought she would have her husband; Tom by her side, until he passes away and she is left destitute facing the dreaded workhouse.
You really get a sense of just how hopeless she sees life to be, she has lost everything but the clothes on her back and her children, but would she still have those if she stepped foot into the workhouse, an awful place of death and decease? She finds herself rescued again by a man who wants more from her than she initially thought, but how far will he push her and what exactly will she do to keep her children safe?
This book really tugs at the heart-strings at times, Sofia is a complex and troubled young woman, she starts of hugely naïve, she is vulnerable and fragile throughout and I suspect there is a serious and deeply ingrained mental health illness something which is lurking just beneath the surface and when it shows itself it is as though Sofia is a completely different person. It is in those moments when her ‘other self’ appears where the story takes a real darker and uglier turn, she isn’t the faithful wife and devoted mother, she is something else altogether. I have to say that her split personality is so brilliantly written, there are some moments where I genuinely felt goose-bumps.
I cannot say a single negative word about this, it has so much to love; gripping, atmospheric and complex storyline. This is captivating and riveting, the writing is flawless, its full of gritty and richly layered detail that will knock your socks off.
This really is an absolutely amazing book, and I can’t wait to read more from Helen Fields.
This was a complimentary copy from the author, which I voluntarily reviewed as apart of this blog tour. Thank you, Helen and Kelly, from Love Books.
About the Author
An international and Amazon #1 best-selling author, Helen is a former criminal and family law barrister. Every book in the Callanach series claimed an Amazon #1 bestseller flag. Her next book, the sixth in the series, ‘Perfect Kill’ is due out on 6 February 2020. Helen also writes as HS Chandler, and last year released legal thriller ‘Degrees of Guilt’. Her previous audiobook ‘Perfect Crime’ knocked Michelle Obama off the #1 spot. Translated into 15 languages, and also selling in the USA, Canada & Australasia, Helen’s books have won global recognition. Her first historical thriller ‘These Lost & Broken Things’ comes out in May 2020. A further standalone thriller published by HarperCollins will come soon. She currently commutes between Hampshire, Scotland and California, where she lives with her husband and three children.
Helen can be found on Twitter @Helen_Fields for up to date news and information or at www.helenfields.co.uk.
Blog Tour Schedule
#BlogTour | Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten #Tsarina #Review #RandomThingsTours @EAlpsten_Author @annecarter
Hello, Sunshines, I hope you are all well? I have the massive pleasure to be today’s stop on this amazing blog tour for; Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten, I am super excited to be sharing my review of this amazing book with you all. As always grab that cuppa, take a seat and enjoy!
Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Spring 1699: Illegitimate, destitute and strikingly beautiful, Marta has survived the brutal Russian winter in her remote Baltic village. Sold by her family into household labour at the age of fifteen, Marta survives by committing a crime that will force her to go on the run.
A world away, Russia’s young ruler, Tsar Peter I, passionate and iron-willed, has a vision for transforming the traditionalist Tsardom of Russia into a modern, Western empire. Countless lives will be lost in the process.
Falling prey to the Great Northern War, Marta cheats death at every turn, finding work as a washerwoman at a battle camp. One night at a celebration, she encounters Peter the Great. Relying on her wits and her formidable courage, and fuelled by ambition, desire and the sheer will to live, Marta will become Catherine I of Russia. But her rise to the top is ridden with peril; how long will she survive the machinations of Peter’s court, and more importantly, Peter himself?
‘This is the ultimate Cinderella story of an illiterate peasant girl who becomes the empress of Russia. It makes Game of Thrones look like a nursery rhyme’ Daisy Goodwin
‘Ellen Apsten’s Tsarina brings to life the dramatic life of Catherine I, wife of Peter the Great, and afterwards Empress of Russia in her own right. She recounts this remarkable woman’s colourful life and times in the form of a novel, drawing however throughout on documentary evidence – this proves a highly effective approach’ Nikolai Tolstoy
‘ Tsarina should come with a health warning- once you start reading, it’s impossible to stop’ Hannah Rothschild, author of The Improbability of Love
OMG, this is so bloody amazing!!
I am blown away by the quality of this book, this is never a debut, surely someone is lying to me?? This book has pure intoxicating, indulgent class written all over it. It’s a fascinating, dark tale of a woman so few of heard of – I do count myself in that category. It’s a captivating mix of compelling history, sex, violence and the wonderful story of a woman who was an essential part of history, a woman who fought to gain her place and the respect she deserved.
I am astounded that I had never heard of Catherine I of Russia before now, which strikes me as not just amazing that this brilliantly intelligent and ruthless woman appears to have disappeared from history but also that those might women who came after her; such as the legendary Catherine the great have a lot to thank Catherine I for. She was an extraordinarily cunning, intelligent and determined woman who will do everything she can to keep her place. I really admire Catherine – whose birth name was Marta – she came from humble origins, illegitimate and tough she is sold off by her family and she then was passed from pillar to post; used, violated, humiliated and abused until finally catching the eye of Tsar Peter. Which is not surprising as Marta was an incredible young woman, she was a born survivor, beautiful and alluring with a keen wit. They share a long marriage of ups and downs and lots and lots of sex, he isn’t the perfect husband anything but he is prone to quite shocking behaviour but she keeps her head high and fights to keep her place right up to and after his death she is a strong woman and I do hugely admire her.
As well as being a dramatic and brilliantly vivid tale of danger and hardship this really shows just how debauched the Russian aristocratic court was… My goodness, it’s hot and steamy and quite shocking, there a lot of romping around the bed-chamber – Ouh la la, who knew that the Russian court could be so hot and lustful? It actually reminds me of a mixture of the tv series’ Versailles, The Tudors and The Devil’s Whore, if you’ve watched any you will have an inkling what I mean by sex-mad aristocrats.
It isn’t the easiest of reads, at times it can be uncomfortable and there are some truly harrowing and shocking moments, which are all the more disturbing and uncomfortable to read because this is based on a true story and the abuses, the violence the manipulations all most like did happen which again is shocking.
An advisory note, even if you love your historical fiction do be prepared for some scenes that are uncomfortable but essential to the entirety of the story. If you are of a more sensitive disposition then this may not be the best book, personally, I think it’s utterly amazing, easily one of the best of the years but I have always preferred my historical’s to have a darker feel to them. All I am saying is just take heed because I can guarantee that once you do start reading you won’t be able to stop, it consumes you, it pulls you into the dark, vodka-soaked and turbulent world of the Russian court.
This is thought-provoking, richly textured and enthralling tale of the strength and lengths a woman will go to survive, I cannot recommend this enough.
This was a complimentary copy which I voluntarily reviewed as a part of this blog tour.
About the Author
Ellen Alpsten was born and raised in the Kenyan highlands, before attending L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. Whilst studying for her Msc in PPE she won the Grande École short story competition with her novella Meeting Mr. Gandhi and was encouraged to continue writing. Upon graduating, she worked as a producer and presenter for Bloomberg TV in London. She contributes to international publications such as Vogue, Standpoint and Conde Nast Traveller. Tsarina is her first novel. She lives in London with her husband and three children.
Blog Tour Schedule
Do check out the amazing blogs that are participating in this blog tour, and show them some blog love.