Historical Fiction

#Review The Escape by Clare Harvey @ClareHarveyauth and #Exclusive Guest Post. #TheEscape #BlogTour #GuestPost #HistoricFiction @simonshusterUK

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I have the very great pleasure to be todays stop on The Escape by Clare Harvey blog tour. I have a brilliant exclusive guest post by Clare – it is an amazing post. Plus I am sharing my review of The Escape, so grab a cup of tea and have a look. 

About Clare

I was born in North Devon, and lived there until just after my seventh birthday, when my family uprooted and moved to Mauritius for two years. After living overseas, we moved back to Surrey, and then later back to Devon, where I went to secondary school and took a foundation course in art and design.

I read Law at the University of Leicester, but chose not to follow a legal path, deciding instead to do voluntary work in Tanzania and hitch-hike from Zanzibar to Cape Town, where I stayed for a year. After my African adventure, I worked for an overseas charity, picked up a journalism qualification, and fell in love with a soldier. Much to my parents’ dismay, a safe career as a solicitor never looked likely!

I’ve had an itinerant adulthood, working variously as a freelance journalist, radio reporter and English tutor in Nepal, Germany and Northern Ireland as the trailing spouse of a serving soldier.

I’m now settled in Nottingham, with husband, three children, a black German Shepherd dog, and a father-in-law who lives in a detached annexe in the garden – it’s a busy household. However, I haven’t given up on the wanderlust just yet. Although Nottingham’s home for now, we’ve got a camper van and a canal boat, so who knows where next…

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon / Instagram

Guest Post

Procrastination by Clare Harvey

Let’s talk about procrastination. No, wait, let me make a cup of tea and Google the definition of procrastination, and then we can make a start (see what I did there?)…

Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something. Most of us, but authors in particular, are very good at procrastination. When you work from home there are tempting lollygagging opportunities a-plenty. This morning, for example, I promised myself I’d be at my desk by 9am, but six acts of procrastination delayed the start of my working day by an hour and a half.

I was a little late back from my morning dog walk (and as there’s no boss to shout at me if I’m not at work on time, I don’t tend to rush). Then, whilst the coffee was brewing, I decided to post a photo on my Instagram feed, which meant I got sucked into social media for a while, and there was an interesting person on Desert Island Discs on Radio 4, too, so I didn’t rush drinking my coffee. Just as I was giving myself a metaphorical kick up the backside, my husband phoned, then the postman arrived with a parcel a new hairstyling gadget, which I felt I just had to test out…I finally opened my laptop at 10.30. In any normal job this amount of shilly-shallying would surely get me the sack?

I should be stricter with myself, shouldn’t I? Shorten that dog walk, limit my use of social media before I’ve completed my to-do list, turn off the radio, ignore personal phone calls, leave the parcels unopened. In short, I should flipping well get on with things, right?

Wrong.

I believe that procrastination or at least a kind of managed mindlessness is positively beneficial to writers. Let’s go through my dilatory start to the day again, and I’ll tell you why:

1. The extended morning dog walk/run:

Writing is a sedentary occupation we need to get out from behind our desks and move about. Exercise has been shown to boost creativity, and running to thumping bass beats increases self-confidence, both of which are essential to authors. Being outdoors is also an ideal opportunity for a spot of mindfulness. When I’m out I try to spend a few minutes internally describing my surroundings (today it was the pink vapour trails criss-crossing the powder blue skies, my breath puffing dragon-clouds in front of my face, and the slide of my boots on the muddy path, for example); this has the twin benefits both of calming me down before the day begins, and also exercising my writer’s mind by practising a bit of word painting.

2. Personal phone calls:

As I mentioned, authors lead a hermit-like existence. I’m not sure about other writers, but I spend a lot of time talking and listening to the voices of made-up people inside my head! Real life – family and friends – are critically important in keeping me grounded and sane, and I’m sure that’s true for most other authors too.

3. Dithering on social media:

For authors, social media performs two critical functions: writing is a lonely job, and social media connects you with the world. Almost all the contact I have with fellow writers is via Facebook groups and Twitter feeds, and without it I’d run the risk of feeling increasingly isolated. In addition, social media is a crucial marketing tool. I usually post something every weekday so that I’m maintaining contact with my readers. This morning I posted a photo of some old graffiti I’d spotted on my walk, which I just thought was unexpectedly beautiful. I also put a promo link on a FB group for saga readers, inviting them along to my book launch. Social media helps market my work, connects me to readers and writers, and is sometimes an outlet for creativity, too.

4. Listening to the radio:

I like having Radio 4 quietly chattering along in the background in the kitchen, and although it doesn’t usually stop me from getting to work, sometimes it’s worth allowing myself to be diverted. A couple of years ago Hillary Mantel’s Reith lectures on historical fiction were an essential listen for hist fic authors like me. And only a few weeks ago an item on the radio sparked an idea that I developed into a synopsis, and is now my current work-in-progress. You never know when an obscure radio feature might send you off down a new creative path, so it’s always worth a listen.

5. Taking the time to brew a cup of real coffee:

Most authors probably swear by a caffeine shot to get their creative juices going, but it’s more than that. My morning cuppa is a ritual – I have a little Italian-style coffee pot that you heat on the hob, and I have to go through the rigmarole of filling the pot with water, spooning the coffee into the chamber, tamping it down with the back of the special coffee spoon, heating the milk in a separate jug, etc. Rituals give focus and structure to our lives. I might not go out to work, but making that coffee helps make my brain transition from home to job, and after I have finished drinking it, I’m ready to leave behind thoughts of shopping, washing, homework projects, and doctor’s appointments, and open my laptop, or pick up my pen.

6. Opening parcels:

Okay, I admit it, this one really does count as procrastination. I just wanted the fleeting thrill of unwrapping something, and once it was open, I couldn’t help giving my new hair styling gadget a try. I probably could have been at my desk a few minutes earlier but at least I’m definitely not having a bad hair day today…

Five out of six ain’t bad, I’d say. Stalling, temporizing, dilly-dallying, vacillation call it what you like, some kind of delaying tactics are an essential part of an author’s day, and for me this morning has definitely been a procrastination win!

The Escape is out now in paperback, e-book and Audible.

About The Book

A compelling wartime drama for fans of Lucinda Riley, Rachel Hore and Katherine Webb

Detta works as a translator for a Nazi-run labour camp for French workers. One winter morning in early 1945, Detta passes a group of exhausted British prisoners of war who are being force-marched westwards. The following day she receives an urgent message to contact the local priest. He is harbouring a group of escaped British prisoners of war in the manse: can she help?

London, 1989. Miranda is a 19-year old photography student in London, in thrall to her older boyfriend, a journalist called Quill. In November the fall of the Berlin Wall is all over the news. Quill asks Miranda to come with him to Germany: before they leave, Miranda’s grandmother gives her an old postcard of the village she was born in. Miranda hopes that working together in Berlin will help cement the cracks in her relationship with Quill, but one night his behaviour spills over into violence, and Miranda ends up fleeing through the rubble of the Berlin wall and into the East. As she travels further, she begins to suspect she’s being followed by the Stasi. If she goes on, she worries that she’ll be taken into custody and be accused of spying; if she turns back, it means returning to Quill.

At last her grandmother’s photograph offers the solution. She tells people that she is going to find her family in the East. The Catholic church, and the manse, opposite where her grandmother once lived, are still standing. And the secrets of the past begin to be revealed.

Wow, what a gripping and thought- provoking book. From the very first page when Detta spot’s the Russian planes flying over her office, I was hooked. I wanted to know what would happen to her and what came of Tom. I was turning the pages lightening quick, becoming more and more engrossed in a story that spans from 1945 to 1989. This is a truly thrilling and moving book, set during two unsettled and dangerous times, and centres around two women in particular.

This is the first book I have read by Clare Harvey, I didn’t know what to expect from her writing. Yes, I have read a lot of great things about her work, but I like to make my own opinions, and my opinion is that Ms Harvey has a true skill. She has a rare gift, time slip stories at times don’t always work and some can fall a little flat or become confusing the further into the story the reader gets. But not this one. Ms Harvey easily takes the reader from Detta in 1945 and jumps cleanly to Miranda in 1989, the transitions from one woman and one era to the next and then back again is perfectly timed and written.

As I said above the story is split between two era’s; in 1945, Detta lives in a little village in Germany working as a translator – which gives a real insight into what was going on at this stage in the war. The Russian are moving in, there is a quiet hostility that just jumps out at you read. The part with the mother and baby trying to get on the train and facing an onslaught of hostility was particularly moving. When she receives word from the local priest for help, she at first is uncertain as whether to assist as he is harbouring escaped British prisoners of war. Dare she help him and these poor men, while putting her own life at risk if she was ever caught?

The second part of the story set during 1989 the Berlin wall has fallen and trainee photographer is right in the thick of it. She is only in Berlin as her older boyfriend; Quill asked her to go with him, but one thing leads to another and the night ends in violence. As she flees the feeling of threats and danger is ever present, it leaped of the pages and your heart is in your mouth as your follow Miranda as she makes her way through some pretty harrowing moments, believing she is being followed she ends up using the old postcard her grandmother gave her, and says she is going to find her family in East Germany.

The threads that start to appear which link the two women makes for compelling and intriguing reading. The way Ms Harvey has entwined raw history throughout the story is beautifully done. There is a real sense of not knowing what’s to come, at not letting anything slip through your fingers as you never know if you will ever get the chance or see the person again. There are moments which had shivers running down my back and tears in my eyes; such as the march of the concentration camp workers, wearing nothing but rags and skeletal thin as they lumbered past Tom’s prisoner of war camp is harrowing.

This is an absolute stunning piece of writing, it’s sensitive, poignant, engaging, compelling, beautifully written, rich in historic detail, a thrilling story which will grab you and not let you go. Really this is a perfect book for all those who love historic fiction, if you love the likes of Pam Jenoff, Alison Richman or Kate Mosse then read this book.

It is in one word; Perfection! – Honestly, I can’t say any more it is really is.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for a honest review as apart of this blog tour, thank you so much Jess.

The Escape can be found at Amazon, do buy it, I cannot recommend it enough.

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#Review The Murder Pit (Arrowood Series #2) by Mick Finlay (@mickfinlay2) #BlogTour #MurderPit #ArrowoodSeries #HistoricalFiction #Victorian #Mystery @HQStories

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I have the great pleasure to be sharing my review of The Murder Pit by Mick Finley as apart of this great blog tour.

Where Evil Lies Buried

1896: Sherlock Holmes has once again hit the headlines, solving mysteries for the cream of aristocracy. But among the workhouses and pudding shops of South London, private detective William Arrowood is presented with far grittier, more violent and considerably less well-paid cases. Arrowood has no doubt who is the better detective, and when Mr. and Mrs. Barclay engage him to find their estranged daughter, Birdie, he’s sure it won’t be long before he and his assistant, Barnett, have tracked her down.

But this seemingly simple missing-person case soon turns into a murder investigation. Far from the comfort of Baker Street, Arrowood’s London is a city of unrelenting cruelty, where evil is waiting to be uncovered…

Well, what can I say about this, but utterly brilliant! It has a real Sherlock Holmes come Ripper Street feel to it, I was instantly drawn into the case and was glued right to the last page. As soon as I saw the cover I knew that I needed to read it, it looked so interesting and that was before reading the back blurb and I was not disappointed. I didn’t realise that this was apart of a series, I read this very much as a stand-a-lone and going by the superb quality of this I know that I will be reading more.

What I love about this is that Arrowood and Barnett are well and truly on the side of the regular people, the working and lower classes the people who the mighty Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson would never sully their hands with. The whole country is applauding the ‘genius’ that is Sherlock Holmes, the cream of the aristocratic stock are hiring Mr Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson to solve their mysteries for them. Yet, what about the lower classes? Those that can’t afford Sherlock’s substantial fee’s and those that aren’t deemed worthy of helping. In steps Arrowood!

It’s Victorian London, William Arrowood is a Private Investigator and along with his assistant Norman Barrett they take on the cases that Sherlock Holes won’t. They are approached by the Barclay’s who want Arrowood to find their daughter; Birdie who after marrying Walter Ockwell a pig farmer, hasn’t been in contact with her parents. The Barclay’s are worried that Birdie is in some way being stopped by her husband’s family from contacting them and because she is ‘simple-minded’ and ‘malleable’ they worry she may be being mistreated.

What appears to be a simple case, turns into something very different indeed, as Arrowood and Barnett find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy involving a local asylum, the murder of an old woman; Mrs Gillie, plus threats and violence at every corner as they try to find the truth of what has happened to Mrs Gillie what is going on at the Ockwell farm. But with the Ockwell family, the local police constable and the village all silent and protective of each other it becomes clear to Arrowood and Barnett that this case is far from easy and it will take them on a dark, violent and at times very uncomfortable journey.

I really like how this is written, we see the whole story play out not through the lead character; Arrowood’s eyes, but through the point of view of his assistant Barrett. I think that is so funny how Arrowood genuinely appears to hate Sherlock Holmes, whenever the man is mentioned or another of his cases appears in the paper Arrowood just sees red, which also makes him either reach for the laudanum or whatever tasty morsel he can get his chubby hands on. He truly believes himself to on par as an investigator as Holmes, personally I prefer Arrowood to Sherlock. He isn’t one to search and follow the clues he is more a thinker, he uses his intellect in human nature to solve the crimes – today he would be referred more of a psychoanalyst.

Mick Finlay has written a brilliant story that is engaging, atmospheric and addictive reading and I can guarantee any who loves historical fiction and a good crime mystery will love meeting Arrowood. I do love a Victorian set story and this is one of the best I’ve read, Finley has clearly done unbelievable amounts of research into the Victorian era and more so into how the Victorians used to treat those who had a disability or mental health issue. Which is astounding the cruelty what they showed to them, thank heaven times have changed. His meticulous attention to detail brings the story to life, it is as though the reader has been transported from their armchair to Arrowood’s dark world which is full of conspiracy and lies. The writing is solid, it captures the reader’s imagination with absolute clarity.

Over this is a brilliant introduction to this authors work, imaginative, dark, thrilling, fast-paced, and original. Definitely one that will be pulled of the bookshelf again and again, I can’t wait for the next Arrowood mystery.

Very highly recommended!

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review as apart of this blog tour, Thank you Joe and the HQ Stories review team.

The Murder Pit is available from Amazon and I highly recommend you buy it.

#BookBlast Fortress of The Sun by E.M. Thomas (@EMThomasAuthor) & #Giveaway #FortressoftheSun #AncientGreece #historicalfiction via @HFVBT #HFVBTBlogTours

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Fortress of the Sun
by E.M. Thomas

Publication Date: December 26, 2018
Paperback & eBook; 300 Pages
Rokhish Press

Genre: Historical/Greek & Roman

 

 

Read an Excerpt.

It’s 243 B.C. and Greece is ready for a revolution.

Eighty years have passed since the death of Alexander the Great, the man who first cowed free Hellas into submission. His successors to the Macedonian throne have only tightened their grip in the interim, the present king no exception. Spartan rebellions, opportunistic usurpers, foreign invaders – for nearly five decades, King Antigonus has seen them all and crushed them all. He now stands alone astride Greece; he fears no one.

Aratus of Sicyon plans to change that. With a passion for freedom and hatred for the King that stem from the same childhood tragedy, he takes aim at Macedon when no one else would dare; takes aim at its crown jewel in the south, the linchpin of its control, the very symbol of its domination – Corinth. Hopelessly outfunded, outmanned, and outarmed, he embarks on one of the most audacious and stunning attacks in ancient history, one that would change Greece forever.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

E.M. Thomas is an author of two novels – an epic fantasy (The Bulls of War) and a historical fiction set in Ancient Greece (Fortress of the Sun).

E.M. was born and raised on the East Coast of the United States but is a world traveler at heart. He caught the writing bug early on and has a passion for all good fiction, but especially that of the fantasy and historical variety. One of his favorite moments thus far in his young career was writing a chapter of his latest book about the great battle of Corinth – while sitting amidst the ruins of ancient Corinth.

For all news and updates related to E.M. Thomas, visit www.emthomas.com. You can also connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Make sure you check out the rest of this book blast below.

Wednesday, December 26
Passages to the Past

Thursday, December 27
Book Reviews from Canada
Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Friday, December 28
Pursuing Stacie
Locks, Hooks and Books

Saturday, December 29
Just One More Chapter

Monday, December 31
What Is That Book About

Wednesday, January 2
Let Them Read Books

Thursday, January 3
Historical Fiction with Spirit

Friday, January 4
The Writing Desk

Monday, January 7
Dorie’s Reading Corner

Friday, January 11
Coffee and Ink

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please use the link below to take you to the Gleam form.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 11th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Fortress of the Sun
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#Review To Love, Honour and Obey (The Yorkshire Saga #1) by Valerie Holmes (@ValerieHolmesUK) #TheYorkshireSaga #ToLoveHonourAndObey @SapereBooks

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Regency England is under threat in this page-turning romantic adventure! For fans of Georgette Heyer, Mary Balogh, Jane Aiken Hodge and Jane Austen.

With Napoleon’s spies hidden all over England, no one can be trusted…1805, England

Six years ago, Willoughby Rossington’s father was murdered while searching for the head of a smuggling ring.
Taken under the wing of his uncle, who is running a counter-intelligence operation against Napoleon’s spies, Willoughby is assigned to take up his father’s last mission—and to avenge his death. He encounters a young serving woman, Beth, whose resilience against her master’s attempts to break her will strike a chord in him and he reluctantly takes her with him when he leaves town.
But it soon becomes clear that they have a common enemy…

Their two lives become intertwined as they race against the villains that plot to destroy them both.
Will they uncover the truth behind the smuggling ring and find who is responsible for the death of Willoughby’s father? Can they stay safe as they continue to work their way deeper into the mystery? And, most importantly, will love conquer all? Or will duty and honour come between them?

TO LOVE, HONOUR AND OBEY is the first book in The Yorkshire Saga: a traditional British, Regency romance novel full of adventure and espionage, with a love story at its heart.

This is the first I have read by Valerie Holmes, and by this and how her writing instantly drew me into to her story I will definitely be reading more. I was instantly intrigued by the description it, it sounded fascinating. One thing that I will say is that even though it is labelled as a historical romance, I would say that it’s more historical fiction/suspense. Yes, there is a ‘will-they-won’t-they’ sub plot between the two lead character’s, but nothing really happens between them. I saw them more as friends which could then lead to something more, so please let that put you off reading this, as it has a great little historical suspense story which will definitely keep you hooked.

Willoughby Rossington is a secret agent who has been ordered to pose as a priest to uncover the corruption and smugglers of a little village in Yorkshire, a village which are a very close knit community and who have many secrets. Willoughby isn’t happy with this assignment he would much rather relinquish his role as a private agent and that of a priest and take a position in the military as he has always wanted. But more importantly for him, he wants to find out what happened to his father six years ago, who dies in very mysterious circumstances which Willoughby is positive that it was murder.

On his first day he meets a young bar maid called Beth who it appears may know more than she lets on and how is desperate to escape the evil clutches of her so called guardian, a horrific man who has taken advantage of the fact that Beth is an orphan, she is from the workhouse and he thinks it’s his god given right to rape and abuse her whenever he wants to. Honestly I have come across some cretinous characters, but this vile creature is awful. It is not surprising that because of her terrible start in life and how she has been treated she is distrusting of men and she sees herself as nothing more than something to be used that is until her guardian angle appears dressed as a priest.

Willoughby soon realises that his quest to find the truth of his fathers demise and his task in the village are connected and not only that could this young waif of a girl he has rescued be apart of this tangled scheme too? Only time and some ingenious investigating will solve all the mysteries that keep cropping up and this is what I really liked about Ms Holmes writing, she keeps the reader hooked with the various twists and turns throughout the story.

This is an intricately woven tale of secrets, lies, murder, smuggling and justice. The character’s are a delight to get to know and watch as they not only discover the truth but as they come in to their own. The plot is fun, fast paced and at times rather surprising story, and it was one that I thoroughly enjoyed submerging myself in. This is the first book in The Yorkshire Saga and I am looking forward to seeing what comes next. The only thing that I couldn’t get along with is the title, I don’t what it is about it, I think its the ‘Obey’ part that I can’t get along with.

A decent piece of historical fiction.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Caoimhe!

To Love, Honour and Obey can be purchased from Amazon.

#Review – The Dukes Agent (Raif Jarrett Regency Mystery #1) by Rebecca Jenkins (@rjenkinsauthor) #HistoricFiction #Regency #Mystery #TheDukesAgent #RaifJarrettRegencyMystery @SaphereBooks

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An ex-soldier turns detective in this thrilling Regency read! For fans of Georgette Heyer, Andrew Taylor, Ashley Gardner and Leighann Dobbs.

A threatening presence is stalking a provincial Northern town…811, England

Frederick Raif Jarrett has returned from battle and is seeking a quiet life as agent to the Duke of Penrith.

So when he is sent to the northern town of Woolbridge to settle the affairs of one of the Duke’s tenants following his sudden death, the dangers of the Yorkshire countryside could not be more unexpected.

Jarrett begins to uncover a network of crime and corruption but is thwarted at every turn by the town’s powerful and much-feared magistrate, Mr. Justice Raistrick.

When a young woman dies in tragic and mysterious circumstances, Jarrett is accused of her murder and has to fight for his life as he desperately seeks to uncover the truth.

Is there a serial killer on the loose? Can Jarrett solve the case in time to clear his name?

And what about the whispering rumours of the sinister figure calling himself The Tallyman…?

THE DUKE’S AGENT is the first book in the Raif Jarrett Regency Mystery series: historical murder mysteries with a traditional British detective embarking on a private investigation in nineteenth-century England.

My View

Wow!! This is an unbelievable book, I was intrigued by this book on sight and couldn’t wait to have a read at it and I can honestly say that the back blurb does it no justice, it is far better then I expected. This is a thrilling, edge of your seat, historical who done it which I can guarantee will keep you glued to every page, you will be following the story while sitting at the very edge of your seat wondering what’s going to happen next.

Frederick Raif Jarrett has returned home after being wounded in the war, he was wanting a life of peace and quiet after the horrors of the war, but alas that isn’t meant to be. Instead he becomes an agent for the Duke of Penrith, who sends him to Yorkshire to settle the affairs of the Duke’s tenant’s. What starts out as a simple task turns into something far more sinister, as not only has Raif found himself in the centre of a village full of deadly dealings, corruption, crime and the mysterious Tallyman who is lurking around spreading fear. On top of that a young woman dies in mysterious circumstances Raif, as the outsider he is immediately under suspicion. Raif literally has his head on the line, if he can’t find the person who is behind this crime he male well hang for murder, but that is easier said than done as his investigation is dogged and thwarted at every turn by the towns feared magistrate Mr. Justice Raistrick.

The only thing that I will say against this book is that is was a slow starter, no less engaging but I would have liked the first couple of chapters to move along with a little bit more speed then it doe’s. But once Raif is in the investigation the story picks up pace. I loved the character’s, the mysterious and fearsome Tallyman is like a ghost on the edges of the story which does genuinely make you get goosebumps which is a tantamount of the authors writing skill. Raif is a brilliant character, there is so much more to this man that what we learn about from this and we do need more books in the series just to really delve into what kind of man Raif is. My absolute favourite has to be Duffin who is a poacher with his dog; Bob, he is a realistic, monosyllabic Yorkshireman who I instantly liked and I do hope that he will feature in books in the future.

A brilliant book, highly engaging, atmospheric and compelling it has a real edge to it that you don’t see in regencies and I loved it. From this first book, I can say without a doubt that the Raif Jarrett Regency Mystery Series is going to be a brilliant series to follow and I will be reading more from it. This is a refreshingly new story, it’s not a romance I did have hopes that Raif would have a romance with Henrietta the woman who tries to help him in the investigation, but no. This is all about the case, all about the history which I thoroughly loved it and it really is highly recommended!!

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Caoimhe.

The Duke’s Agent is available from Amazon.

#Review Miss Marley; A Christmas Ghost Story, A Prequel To A Christmas Carol by Vanessa Lafaye & Rebecca Mascull (@rebeccamascull) @HQDigitalUK #MissMarley #AChristmasCarol

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Before A Christmas Carol there was… Miss Marley

A seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill

Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister ‘tomorrow will be better’ and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price.

And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart…

In Miss Marley, Vanessa Lafaye weaves a spellbinding Dickensian tale of ghosts, goodwill and hope – a perfect prequel to A Christmas Carol.

My View

This is utterly breath-taking! There is no other words for this beautiful book, once I closed the very last page, I was left in stunned silence and with tears in my eyes, this is the brilliance of this book the emotions that Miss Marley evokes in the reader is incomparable. It is full of tragedy, sadness and it is heart-breaking, as well as portraying the most beautiful message of just being kind to others, that money isn’t everything in life, what is important is family, love and living life itself.

This is the first I have ever read by the late Vanessa Lafaye and it saddens me to know that I may have missed out on something special, so I am unbelievably honoured that I got the chance to review this book. Ms Lafaye and Ms Mascull (who lovingly finished the book on Vanessa Lafaye’s sad passing) have written an atmospheric, realistic and touching story, the sights, smells and life of Dickensian London is brilliant captured which makes this book even more special.

This is the prequel to ‘A Christmas Carol’ and it tells the story of Jacob Marley through the eyes of his little sister; Clara Belle Marley. The story opens when they are nothing but children who are staving on the streets, after their parent’s died and their cruel uncle foisted them off into the workhouse they have nothing but each other. With Jacob’s intellect and wiles they soon find themselves off the street and into the nefarious world of ‘Money lending’. The story doesn’t he hard facts of life on the streets of the money lending business, it is raw and unashamed-idly real.

As the years go by, the siblings raise themselves from the streets, in due course Jacob meets his soon-to-be business partner; Ebeneeza Scrooge and is from here we see just how Jacob Marley found himself destined to reside for all eternity in chains; as we see in A Christmas Carol. Jacob Marley isn’t entirely a selfish man as he does have his moments when he cares for Clara, but there really isn’t an ounce of kindness in him. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Ebeneeza in a different light to the heartless, lost creature we all know him to be. In this there is a glimmer of goodness in him, but being around merciless Jacob has it’s effects on him, it was interesting to seeing the two men when they were young to see how the famous story began.

But the backbone to this is Clara Belle and her absolute love and loyalty to her brother, she is the absolute opposite to Jacob. Where he is hard, cold and ruthless she is kind, warm, caring and always wanting to help if she can. She has a good heart who tries in vain to change her brother’s ways, she has her own story to tell one that can melt the coldest of hearts, and one that will have you weeping.

Magical, charming, festive, beautifully written, heartfelt, captivating, reminiscent of Dickens himself, this is the perfect Christmas gift and one that I can see becoming a classic in its own right and one that will be repeatedly read year after year.

The most heart-warming and beautiful book I have read, perfection!

This was a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Joe at HQ Digital UK for my copy.

Miss Marley is available at Amazon and I urge everyone to buy it, highly recommended!

#Review 1066; What Fates Impose by GK Holloway (@GlynnHolloway) #Historical #Medieval #BattleOfHastings #1066WhatFatesImpose

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England is in crisis. King Edward has no heir and promises never to produce one. There are no obvious successors available to replace him, but quite a few claimants are eager to take the crown. While power struggles break out between the various factions at court, enemies abroad plot to make England their own. There are raids across the borders with Wales and Scotland.

Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, is seen by many as the one man who can bring stability to the kingdom. He has powerful friends and two women who love him, but he has enemies who will stop at nothing to gain power.

As 1066 begins, England heads for an uncertain future. It seems even the heavens are against Harold. Intelligent and courageous, can Harold forge his own destiny – or does he have to bow to what fates impose?

My View

My goodness, this is absolutely bloody brilliant! I am a massive history fan and this book tick’s all the boxes, history in abundance, a bit of a romance, character’s that are not only real from history but also are immensely fascinating. I am not one to rate a book as I am more for sharing my opinions, but this has to be a definite 10/10, It really is mind-blowingly good!

This book centres around Harold Godwinson, before reading this I off course knew of his eventual fate and I knew the history surrounding 1066 and onwards once William the Conqueror gained the crown, but I knew very little about Harold himself and his family, and the battles for power that resulted in him becoming King. Reading this has completely opened my eyes to the era and it’s vast history, this is a magnificent book from an author who obviously has a real passion and understanding of the era and of these historic figures, which makes this already great book even more enjoyable to read.

As the title states this is about the what happened during 1066, but for those that aren’t as fully clued up in the story of Harold Godwinson apart from his unfortunate end, the story starts in 1045 when the country are facing a bitter struggle for power as King Edward; the Confessor who is lacking the ability and the inclination to produce his much needed heir, the whole country and those abroad are preparing themselves for the crisis of succession that we all know is coming, everyone from the nobles to the clergymen and to the foreign rulers are all watching, waiting and plotting.

Edward is getting more and more paranoid, due mainly to the manipulative Norman; Robert du Jumeries, he is seeing threats to his throne at every corner, the main perpetrator which Edward is becoming increasingly wary of is his father-in-law; the Earl Godwin of Wessex and his family. At one point he brought charges against them making them flee, which also included his own Queen who ended up in exile. As the story winds itself towards 1066 we meet a whole host of historic figures, some of which I hadn’t really know but after this I am immensely interested in learning more about them.

The political and power struggles all for the crown is deadly as well as hugely fascinating, Mr Holloway has taken a time in history, an event and figures and brought them all to life. He has given Edward, Harold, his family and William a voice, a face and he has made them real in a way they weren’t before. I think what really stuck with me while reading it, was that it gave me a whole new perspective on Harold. Instead of just thinking of Harold and his ending, you understand Harold as the man before he was King. I think he was a brilliant man, intelligent, savvy, protective, loyal and very much in love with his wife – which was in all accounts a love match. So the reader learns about him instead of focussing on what we all know is coming and that for me was an integral part of the whole story, knowing the ending didn’t over shadow the story as it was so brilliantly written.

This book is a wonder, the writing is solid and rich in immersive historic detail but it’s not thrust into your face your not drowning in history that you miss the story. It is an accurate, engaging, thrilling, compelling, full bodied book which has been written with the finesse only an exceedingly talented author can write with. 1066; What Fates Impose is an impressive book that will be taking very pride of place on my bookshelf and one that I will be pulling off to re-read again and again.

This is the first I have read by GK Holloway and it has made an impression on me, I will most defiantly be reading more from this brilliant author.

This was a complimentary copy via the author in exchange for an honest review, thank you Glynn.

1066; What Fates Impose can be purchased from Amazon.