Monday, 24 April 2017

#bookreview~ The Shadow Queen #Historical #histfic @anne_obrien

The Shadow Queen


Anne O'Brien
The Shadow Queen is the story of Joan of Kent, a tale of treachery, power-hungry families and legal subterfuges, in which Joan, a woman of considerable charm and beauty, played a central role at the Plantagenet Court.
‘What would enhance the pattern of my life further? One word slid into my
mind. A seductive word. A dangerous word, perhaps, for a woman. Power.’
From her first clandestine marriage Joan of Kent’s reputation was one of scandal and rumour.  Her royal blood made her a desirable bride, but her ambition and passion could become a threat to the stability of the Plantagenet dynasty.
Joan knew what she must do to survive, the political games to play, the alliances she must make, even if one man will always own her heart.  But would her ambitions bring her happiness?
A dramatic story of love and loyalty and of the cost of personal ambition, this is the story  of the woman who would ultimately seek power as the mother to the ten year old King Richard II, from the shadows of the throne.

The Shadow Queen breathes life back into this remarkable medieval woman, Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent of Kent.

What did I think of the Book?

From the opulence and grandeur of court life to the damp and crumbling manor of the Holand estate, journey back in time to the reign of Edward III and see things through the fresh and young eyes of Joan, The Fair Maid of Kent.

Joan of Kent can want for nothing. With a proud lineage, this Plantagenet princess can look forward to a bright future. Wealth, respectability, jewels, land, power, and position, are all hers for the taking. Joan knows what is expected of her. She is to marry well.

Joan's mother, Margaret Wake, 3rd Baroness Wake of Liddell, brings her the most wonderful news. Joan is to be given in matrimony to her childhood friend, William Montacute, the son of the first Earl of Salisbury. This marriage has every advantage and comes with the King's approval. But there is a problem, for Joan is already married to someone who did not look at her and count how much money she would bring to the wedding bed. Instead, she married a man who loved her. She just didn't tell anyone about the wedding! Her husband, Thomas Holland, is away fighting for the King and Joan finds herself in a precarious position. She has no allies to turn to in the face of her mother's ambition. Joan will marry William Montacute, even if it is the last thing she ever does.

Anne O' Brien brings us another captivating story of seduction, scandal, and the most heart-breaking tale of a woman who dared to go against convention and instead, followed her heart. The Shadow Queen was so vivid in its detail that I found myself completely immersed in the story. Time ticked on and yet I didn't notice as each turn of the page brought more drama, more heartache, and a desperate hope that this protagonist, this brave and courageous young woman, would find happiness.

The Shadow Queen is told in the first person, from Joan's perspective. Joan really struggles with who she is, and it was a joy to watch her mature. Her relationship with Ned was portrayed as the pinnacle moment of her life, not just because Ned was who he was, but because this was a real grown-up relationship for her. It came with problems, but they loved each other. Joan sometimes came across as incredibly self-serving, but she really blossomed as a character when she married Ned.

I have to say I was deeply moved by the portrayal of Edward, 'Ned,' The Black Prince of Wales.  He was so real in the telling that despite knowing beforehand how his life was to be cut cruelly short, this story, the way O’Brien portrayed him, made me wish for an alternative ending. I didn’t want him to die.

The Shadow Queen is not just a great work of literature; it is more than that, it shows the courage that these remarkable women had. We have all heard about how brave these noblemen were, but the stories of their wives are even more compelling. They all lost so many loved ones in a time where plague and war were rampant. How terrible it must have been for these women who waited patiently at home, hoping never to hear that their husband had died in battle. Such thoughts bring tears to my eyes even now. Life was precarious; there was simply not the time for wasted moments. Their stories—Joan's story—certainly deserves to be told. The Shadow Queen has left a lasting impression on me.

I Highly Recommend.
  I received an ARC of this book from the Publishers, via NetGalley, for review consideration.

 Links for Purchase
Publication date: 4th May 2017
 Amazon UK

About the author

Anne O’Brien was born in West  Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master’s in Education at Hull, she lived in East Yorkshire for many years as a teacher of history.
She now lives with her husband in an eighteenth-century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire, on the borders between England and Wales, where she writes historical novels.  The perfect place in which to bring medieval women back to life.

Visit me.
Twitter: @anne_obrien

Thursday, 20 April 2017

#bookreview ~ Billabong Ghost (The Stolen Years Book 2) #histfic

Billabong Ghost

(The Stolen Years #2)


Ryn Shell

A lonely and neglected boy creates an imaginary friend-protector not knowing she is a spirit seeking his help to avenge her death.

Another gripping instalment of The Stolen Years Series of historical Australian rural-lit novels by Ryn Shell. Integrated into To Kill for a Ghost is the story of the heroes on the SS Admella shipwreck.

What did I think of the Book?

The past is about to pay a visit to the settlers of Fife Springs, Queensland.

With the most articulate prose, Ryn Shell traverses time as she weaves a story about a neglected seven year-old-boy and what he thinks is his imaginary friend — his protector. But Charlotte is a restless spirit determined to have 'payback' on those who stole her life at the tender age of sixteen.

Billabong Ghost is an incredibly moving, and sometimes disturbing, tale of how a young woman was manipulated by those who were around her and how her death had far reaching consequences across the generations. 

There is a lot of time shifts in this book, going from once century to the next, but woven together it made the most compelling read. The writing is elegant — there is no doubt about it, Shell is an incredible storyteller.

I have read several books in The Stolen Years series and each time I am just blown away by the attention to detail. Shell knows how to set a scene and how to hook her readers. Fabulous.

If you are are looking for a series to get your teeth into, then I Highly Recommend The Stolen Years. This series has a little bit everything, history, romance, hatred, revenge, and a heavy dose of the paranormal thrown in. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

I Highly Recommend.

Links for Purchase

About the author

From one of Australia's finest storytellers comes historical fiction stories of crime, betrayal, mystery and love.

​With family connections to the Pallawa Aboriginal Tasmanians and Australia's first European settlers, septuagenarian Ryn writes with the cultural understanding and experience of an elder who has listened to the oral histories of people closely connected to country in Australia and the Pacific.

While Ryn writes about resilience and love, don't expect sweet romance. Her focus is on the coming-of-age adventure, and of course, history. She even challenges NASA's version of the supposedly "safe return" of Skylab.

During her career as a fine artist, Ryn spent decades researching and verifying the historical background to the books she would write. In 2010, Ryn set aside a fifty-year successful art career to write full-time. It is Ryn's family's hope that a more factual history of the land might emerge from the recorded inaccuracies concerning the colonial invasion of Australia and many Pacific Islands.

For the latter part of 2016, Ryn is taking a sabbatical from historical fiction novel writing, to assist fellow authors and bloggers with marketing, and to study and merge her existing traditional fine art skill with the latest graphic design know-how and tools.

Monday, 17 April 2017

#bookreview ~ The Dead Of Winter #Crime #mustread @bilbob20

The Dead Of Winter  


Billy McLaughlin

Sometimes the truth is closer to home than you know…

When little Archie Miller is taken from his cot, the clock is ticking for Detective Kevin Wallace to return the baby to his devastated mother. At first it looks like the act of a teenage girl who just wants attention.

However, Wallace discovers there’s something more sinister at play in this brand-new novel from the writer of ‘Lost Girl’ and ‘In the Wake of Death’.

The small community begin to point the finger in another direction. Anything to divert eyes away from the secrets and the lies that they themselves are caught up in.

What really happened to Archie Miller and what lengths will a parent go to when protecting one of their own?

What did I think of the Book?

This is a nice neighbourhood, things like this don't happen here.

It is every parents worst nightmare. When Dan went into the nursery to check on his baby he found the crib empty. It is now up to the police to piece together all the evidence, and while they do so they discover that every family in the street has secrets, some more so than others. But the question remains…Who kidnapped baby Archie?

The Dead of Winter is a page-turning, 'who done it?' read. With a super-fast pace and many twists and turns, this book is unputadownable.

I really enjoyed reading all the multiple points of views and watching the event unfold. When I thought I knew where Mr McLaughlin was going with his story, he would suddenly throw another curve ball, and the story would go off in another direction with another possible suspect. Gripping!!

I really enjoyed this book and I read it in one sitting. Fantastic!!

I Highly Recommend.

Links for Purchase

About the author

Billy McLaughlin is a Glasgow born author who released his first novelette 'Invisible' in March 2016. Receiving glowing customer reviews, he followed up with the gritty novel 'Lost Girl' which introduces readers to the mainstay characters Phil & Kate. In September 2016, his third book 'In the Wake of Death' was released, re-uniting audiences with Phil & Kate as well as throwing a brand new mystery that has been praised for its unique twist.

McLaughlin welcomed 2017 in celebrating that 'Lost Girl' peaked at number 2 in the crime thriller charts the previous August and gained the coveted number 1 slot in the Scottish crime charts with 'In the Wake of Death'. His fourth book is released on 13 March 2017. 'The Dead of Winter' will appear to be a stand-alone mystery, but introduces a brand new character that is already set to make a splash in the 3rd DI Phil Morris mystery 'The Daughter' which is due in summer 2017.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The Du Lac Devil is #free on #Kindle for a Limited Time! #historicalfantasy

Hey, I've got great news, The Du Lac Devil is FREE on Kindle, and if that is not enough, you can pick up a Kindle Copy of The Du Lac Chronicles for only 0.99. But be quick, this offer won't last long!!

(15th-18th April)

The Du Lac Chronicles


The Du Lac Devil


Friday, 14 April 2017

#bookreview ~ Fairy Keeper (World of Aluvia #1) #YA @AmyBearce

Fairy Keeper

 (World of Aluvia #1)


Amy Bearce

Forget cute fairies in pretty dresses. In the world of Aluvia, most fairies are more like irritable, moody insects. Almost everyone in the world of Aluvia views the fairy keeper mark as a gift, but not fourteen-year-old Sierra. She hates being a fairy keeper, but the birthmark is right there on the back of her neck. It shows everyone she was born with the natural ability to communicate, attract, and even control the tiny fairies whose nectar is amazingly powerful. Fairy nectar can heal people, but it is also a key ingredient in synthesizing Flight, an illegal elixir that produces dreaminess, apathy and hallucinations. She’s forced to care for a whole hive of the bee-like beasties by her Flight-dealing, dark alchemist father.

Then one day, Sierra discovers the fairies of her hatch are mysteriously dead. The fairy queen is missing. Her father’s Flight operation is halted, and he plans to make up for the lost income by trading her little sister to be an elixir runner for another dark alchemist, a dangerous thug. Desperate to protect her sister, Sierra convinces her father she can retrieve the lost queen and get his operation up and running.

The problem? Sierra’s queen wasn’t the only queen to disappear. They’re all gone, every single one, and getting them back will be deadly dangerous.

Sierra journeys with her best friend and her worst enemy -- assigned by her father to dog her every step -- to find the missing queens. Along the way, they learn that more than just her sister’s life is at stake if they fail. There are secrets in the Skyclad Mountains where the last wild fairies were seen. The magic Sierra finds there has the power to transform their world, but only if she can first embrace her calling as a fairy keeper.

What did I think of the Book?

It is only when you lose someone that you realise just how much they meant to you in the first place.

No one asked Sierra if she wanted to be a Fairy Keeper, but nevertheless, that is what she is. She doesn't even like fairies all that much; they are vile things which bite and scratch and in worse cases sting. But they have their uses, for their nectar is powerful indeed, it is used for healing. But that is not all that the nectar is used for, for there are those who harness the power of the nectar and change it into an illegal elixir that is as addictive as it is cruel. Only the lowest of criminals would profit from the nectar of fairies, unfortunately for Sierra, her father is such a man. But as long as her fairies keep producing the nectar then Sierra and her little sister are safe from her father's cruelty and always ready fist.

Then one-day disaster strikes, all the fairies are dead, apart from the Queen and she is missing. It is now a race against time to find out where Sierra's Queen is and bring her home, if she does not then her sister will be sold to, Brentwood, a vile man, to settle her father's debt.

Page one caught my attention; by page two I was captivated. Fairy Keeper is a page-turning adventure of a read. I lost myself in this most amazing world that Bearce has created. It is like escaping to Narnia only so much better. The attention to detail brings Aluvia to life; it is so easy to visualise this fantastical, magical world. Bearce has created a truly stunning backdrop for the most amazing story.

I adored the characterisation of Sierra. She is an incredibly strong heroine who has an awful time of it. She has an abusive father, but she vows to keep her younger sister safe from his fierce temper. She struggles with her moments of failures, but she is willing to learn from them. When she starts this difficult journey to find her Fairy Queen, her thoughts are purely occupied with preventing her sister from being sold, by the end of the trip, she has learnt what being a Fairy Keeper means and atones for the things she has done wrong in the past. I could not help, but like Sierra, she is a real joy to read about.

The plot was so engaging and so fast-paced that time just flew by while I read this book. I am loving this series, and I can't wait to read book 2.

I Highly Recommend.

Links for Purchase

About the author

Amy Bearce writes fantasy stories for tweens and teens. Her debut, FAIRY KEEPER, is an upper-middle grade fantasy and is the first book in the World of Aluvia series. MER-CHARMER (World of Aluvia, Book Two) released May 9, 2016. Book Three, Dragon Redeemer, is scheduled for release May 23, 2017. She is a former reading teacher who now has her Masters in Library Science. As an Army kid, she moved eight times before she was eighteen, so she feels especially fortunate to be married to her high school sweetheart. Together they’re raising two daughters and are currently living in Germany, though they'll be heading home to Texas this summer.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

#bookreview ~ Conversation with Tom #Cats #Humour

Conversations with Tom


Angela Lockwood

When Jeff and his wife Lisa adopt a kitten named Tom, they have no idea their marriage is in trouble. When the fluffy kitten turns out to be a boisterous cat, hell-bent on destroying furniture, Lisa realises life isn’t turning out the way she’d planned. Tom’s conviction that 4am really is the best time of day, plus her husband’s disastrous business sense, soon drives Lisa into the arms of another man.

Newly single, and at a loss, Jeff turns to his cat for a sympathetic furry ear. The witty and convincingly cat-like character he imagines becomes the friend he so desperately needs. But as his owner agonises about love and life, Tom concerns himself with more important matters, such as soliciting tuna and how to get better acquainted with the neighbour’s rabbit. Although they don’t always understand each other, Jeff and Tom form an unbreakable bond – until a trip to the vet changes everything…

What did I think of the Book?

A must read for Cat Lovers and anyone who needs a pick-me-up!

Can you remember Garfield? You know the comic strips that were always on the back page of the newspaper? Well, this is Garfield for adults. It is hilarious, from the first page to the end, you will never look at a cat again without wondering what they are thinking!

Tom, the cat, is clearly the hero of this story, while the life of his owner plays out around him, but as long as Tom has an endless supply of Tuna, everything will be fine. Apart from the visits to the vet, I mean, what is that all about? That is just wrong!!

Conversations with Tom is a charming book. I was completely enthralled with the story. Jeff, Tom's owner, doesn't have a lot of luck in either love or business, but he does have Tom (or Tom's as he begins to call him later on in the book) whom he adores beyond all reason. As the years pass by Jeff really grows as a character, he is incredibly likeable and totally believable and he is as adorable as his cat!

This book for me was just a real corker and do you know what?  I am going to read it again because it just made me laugh out loud so many times.

This one is a keeper and now I want a cat!!

I Highly Recommend.

Links for Purchase

About the author

Angela Lockwood-van der Klauw was born in the Netherlands. She learned her trade as a jeweller and gemmologist at the Vakschool Schoonhoven before moving to Edinburgh as an apprentice jeweller. There she met and later married her husband Adam. Angela ran her own jeweller's shop in Edinburgh for ten years before she and her husband moved to the south of France in 2011. Like Cameron, Angela prefers the climate there, but often thinks about the town she left behind and its people.

Cameron's story was born in the spring of 2013, a very wet spring during which Angela found herself climbing the walls, frustrated that she couldn't go out and have her usual long walks along the seafront. Seeing his wife's frustration, Adam suggested 'Why don't you write a book?'

Angela thought about it for a few days, then switched on her laptop and started writing. Language in the Blood (Book1) was her first book. She has since published two more titles.And published short stories in two independent author anthologies:'You're not Alone' and

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

#bookreview ~ The Highland Duke (Lords of the Highlands #1) #Romance #HistFic

The Highland Duke

(Lords of the Highlands #1)


Amy Jarecki

She'll put her life on the line for him . . .

When Akira Ayres finds the brawny Scot with a musket ball in his thigh, the healer has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to save his life. Even if it means fleeing with him across the Highlands to tend to his wounds while English redcoats are closing in. Though Akira is as fierce and brave as any of her clansmen, even she's intimidated by the fearsome, brutally handsome Highlander who refuses to reveal his name.

Yet she can never learn his true identity.

Geordie knows if Akira ever discovers he's the Duke of Gordon, both her life and his will be forfeit in a heartbeat. The only way to keep the lass safe is to ensure she's by his side day and night. But the longer he's with her, the harder it becomes to think of letting her go. Despite all their differences, despite the danger-he will face death itself to make her his . . .

What did I think of the Book?

Can a Jacobite and a gypsy find love?

I loved the premise of this story. Set between The Glorious Revolution and the early Jacobite rising, Amy Jarecki weaves a rather compelling romance about George Gordon, 1st Duke of Gordon and a young gypsy healer, who saves his life and almost loses her own because of it.

I felt Jarecki took a little be of a risk using a historical figure as the hero of her romance. Jarecki clearly states in her ‘Author's Notes’ that she has manipulated the years and she certainly took literary licence with a great many things. I think the best of course of action is not to look up the life of the real George Gordon, 1st Duke of Gordon, as it kind of spoils the fantasy. My mistake!!

Going back to the book itself. I adored the characterisation of Akira. She comes across as an incredibly strong woman, who is not cowed by titles, or guns or soldiers, or anything really. She was a remarkable protagonist. Likewise, George is equally well crafted and was very real in the telling.

Jarecki brought the Highlands to life in this fast-paced novel full of treachery, peril and she certainly knows how to throw obstacles at her protagonists. The antagonists balance the story well by being as horrible as the protagonists are nice.

The story is a faced-paced one, and I certainly enjoyed it.

I would Recommend.

Links for Purchase

About the author

Amazon bestselling author, Amy Jarecki is a descendant of an ancient Lowland clan and she adores Scotland. Though she now resides in southwest Utah, she received her MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Winning multiple writing awards, she found her niche in the genre of Scottish historical romance, writing steamy edge-of-your-seat action adventures with rugged men and fascinating women who weave their paths through the brutal eras of centuries past. Amy loves hearing from her readers and can be contacted through her website at