Thursday, 23 March 2017

#bookreview ~ To Kill in Fire (The Stolen Years Book 6) #histfic

To Kill in Fire
(The Stolen Years Book 6) 
Ryn Shell

To Kill in Fire is an engrossing story of romance and adventure in Australia. Can the idealism of today’s multi-cultural youth, end the vengeance culture begun at the time of the British invasion of Australia? The old men, cattle king Alan Fife, Aboriginal Elder Kanga, and the criminal Ray Buckram, face each other. Have they left it too late to save the younger generation from the payback culture they began?

 What did I make of the book?

Ryn Shell brings 1945 Australia back to life in this
 beautiful and evocative tale.

Ryn Shell paints a portrait of 1945 Australia in such vivid detail that it left me feeling breathless and wanting more. The attention to detail has to be commended. I felt like I could feel the heat of the bush fire on my face, I could hear the sound of nature all around me, and the characters were so well drawn that I felt as if I had known them all my life!

The story itself is gripping and kept me turning those pages. I immersed myself in the world of Iain, Emily and Jarrah. I was pulled into their lives and experienced their hopes, dreams, sorrows and moments of triumph.

There is a touch of paranormal to this story that kept me guessing. Was Charlotte a figment of Harry's disturbed mind? Or was she a restless spirit. This drew me even deeper into the story.

Although this is book 6 (cover says 5??) in the series, it works very well as a standalone and I would not hesitate in recommending this extraordinary story.

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. About the author

Monday, 20 March 2017

#bookreview ~ How to Breed Sheep, Geese and English Eccentrics by Valerie Poore @vallypee

How to Breed Sheep, Geese and English Eccentrics
 Valerie Poore

When Maisie Peterson leaves university in 1977 without a job to go to, she decides to help her mother save her large and impractical country property in the wilds of rural Dorset by trying her hand at self-sufficiency. Ma is just a tad eccentric, though, and Maisie has no clue about farming. Her efforts are thwarted at quite a few turns by a flock of willful sheep, a dotty aunt, a charming but ineffective boyfriend and a swarthy, but highly desirably agricultural auctioneer. Emily, the ewe, runs rings round her while Ma drifts in and out of the scene in an ancient wedding dress, causing havoc in Maisie's attempts to sort out her personal as well as her agricultural problems

What did I make of the book?

Farming — there is nothing to it!

Maisie Peterson has an idea, and like all ideas, it is best to simply not think about it overly much and just do it. Of course, when it comes to farming, a little knowledge can be helpful, especially when it comes to livestock. But hey, if anyone can do it, Maisie can!

I don't think I will ever forget how Maisie transports her first sheep, Emily, home from the market — I am not going to tell you how she does it because I don't want to spoil it, but there were tears rolling down my cheeks! It is hilarious. Add to that the rather territorial geese, the egg stealing dog, and the useless WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms), apprentice who is meant to be helping, but accidently set himself on fire. And let's not forget the terribly eccentric mother, who often walks around the farm yard in a wedding dress....!!!

This book is so funny, with a super fast plot and characters — both human and animal — that I came to love. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised to see Emily trotting down the road and heading for my geraniums!

A wonderfully refreshing read that I didn't want to put down.

I Highly Recommend.

Links for Purchase

About the author

Val Poore was born in London, England, and grew up in both north London and the west of Dorset. After completing her degree in English, History and French at Bournemouth, she took a further course in the conservation and restoration of museum artefacts at Lincoln College of Art which qualified her for nothing at all really. She then spent two years doing furniture restoration before going to South Africa in 1981 with her husband and small children.

Valerie left South Africa permanently in 2001 and has settled in the Netherlands, where she shares her time between a liveaboard barge in Rotterdam and a cottage in Zeeland. She teaches academic and business English on a freelance basis and still writes in her spare time, although she admits there's not enough of that at the moment. In fact, she has been writing since childhood and wrote stories, articles and radio plays for years before embarking on her first book in 2005. Val loves travelling especially when it involves roughing it a bit. She feels that she has better adventures and more interesting experiences that way. 

Sunday, 19 March 2017

#NewRelease ~ Henry Book 3 of The Tudor Trilogy #HistFic #Tudors @tonyriches


Book 3 of The Tudor Trilogy

 Tony Riches

Bosworth 1485

After victory against King Richard III, Henry Tudor becomes King of England. Rebels and pretenders plot to seize his throne. The barons resent his plans to curb their power and he wonders who he can trust. He hopes to unite Lancaster and York through marriage to the beautiful Elizabeth of York.

With help from his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, he learns to keep a fragile peace. He chooses a Spanish Princess, Catherine of Aragon, as a wife for his son Prince Arthur. His daughters will marry the King of Scotland and the son of the Emperor of Rome. It seems his prayers are answered, then disaster strikes and Henry must ensure the future of the Tudors.

Links for Purchase

About the author

Tony Riches is a full time author of best-selling fiction and non-fiction books. He lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales with his wife and enjoys sea and river kayaking in his spare time.

For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his popular blog, The Writing Desk and his Wordpress website and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

#bookreview ~ God’s Hammer #HistFic #Vikings @DarkAgeScribe

God’s Hammer

It is 935 A.D. and the North is in turmoil. The Norse king, Harald Fairhair, has died, leaving the High Seat of the realm to his murderous son, Erik Bloodaxe. To solidify his rule, Erik ruthlessly kills all claimants to his throne, save one: his teenage brother Hakon, who is being raised in the Christian courts of Engla-lond. Summoned by the enemies of Erik, young Hakon returns to the Viking North to face his brother and claim his birthright, only to learn that victory will demand sacrifices beyond his wildest nightmares.

 What did I make of the book?

Eric Schumacher has created the most evocative tale in his
 stunning novel — God's Hammer.

Set in 935 AD, God's Hammer tells the story of Hakon Haraldsson (Haakon the Good), from the moment he arrived at King Athelstan of England's Kingdom as a young boy, to the harrowing battle with his eldest brother, Eric Bloodaxe.

This book completely drew me in. The research that has gone into God's Hammer has to be commended, and it is incredibly rich in historical detail. It was as if I was looking through a window into the past as I read the pages of this remarkable story.

Hakon's portrayal is both realistic and believable. Schumacher has obviously researched the life of Hakon in great detail, and this certainly came through in the writing. Schumacher brought Hakon back to life. Well Done!

There are a lot of interesting characters that you meet in this book, and Schumacher has given them all the same attention as Hakon — they are all well-fleshed, and they just work. Everything fits, so well. This book was so refreshing and so realistic, it was an absolute joy to read.

I thought the story itself was gripping and very fast in the telling. It is not an effort to read this book at all. I made a mistake of not giving myself enough time to read it in one sitting because God's Hammer deserves that much attention. It is definitely a sit down and finish book.

I Highly Recommend.

Links for Purchase

About the author

I grew up in modern Los Angeles but I've had a lifelong love affair with Dark Age Europe. It is a love affair that began as a child, and has persisted through my almost forty years of studying, researching and writing about the subject.

While I've written a number of articles about technology and travel, God's Hammer is my first novel. The novel tells the true story of King Hakon Haraldsson's bitter fight against his ruthless brother Erik for the Norwegian throne.

I now live in Santa Barbara, a small beach town about 100 miles north of Los Angeles with his family, and split time between writing and managing my own communications agency, Neology.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

#bookreview ~ I Dared the Duke #Regency #Romance

I Dared the Duke:

A Wayward Wallflowers Novel
(The Wayward Wallflowers)


Anna Bennett

Alexander Savage, the Duke of Blackshire, is known throughout the ton for three things: the burn scars on his neck, his ornery disposition, and the trail of broken hearts behind him. None of which would concern Miss Elizabeth Lacey in the least—if she weren’t living under his roof. As his grandmother’s companion, Beth is all too concerned with the moody and compelling duke. Incensed by his plans to banish the sweet dowager duchess to the country, Beth refuses to do his bidding. If Alex wants her help, he’s going to have to take her dare…and grant her three wishes.
Alex adores his grandmother, which is precisely why she must leave. A string of unfortunate incidents has him worried for the safety of everyone around him—including the dowager’s loyal and lovely companion, Beth. But the notorious wallflower isn’t as meek as she appears, and as their battle of wills heats up, so does Alex’s desire. He’s dangerously close to falling in love with her…and revealing secrets he’d rather keep hidden. How can he convince her that his darkest days are behind him—and that, for the first time in forever, his heart is true?
I Dared the Duke continues Anna Bennett's Regency-era romance series, The Wayward Wallflowers.

What did I think of the book?

What a breathtakingly beautiful, Regency Romance story.

If done right, there is no better Romance than a Regency one, in my humble opinion, and boy, did Anna Bennett get it right.

I Dared the Duke grabbed me from the first page and did not let go of me until the last. I was hooked, forget the housework, I wasn't going anywhere. The protagonists were so well drawn and realistic I could envisage them walking down the street!

I adore Alex, the notorious rake who is perhaps not as notoriously as the gossiping ton would have you believe. His back story was simply heartbreaking, but it made him all the more believable.

 The heroine, Beth, was such a strong female lead for Alex, and she was a genuinely lovely person. The whole relationship just worked, and it sucked me right in. Totally believable and a joy to watch unfold as I lost myself in the pages of this remarkable story.

The plot was super-engaging and had a real fast paced feel to it. There were lots of things that hindered the couple's relationship — his reputation and the fact that someone was trying to kill him, certainly didn't help! But this drama drove the story forward. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Hats of to you Anna Bennett, you just got yourself a new fan.

I Highly Recommend.

*I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley, for review consideration*

Links for Purchase

About the author

Anna Bennett started swiping romances from her mom’s bookshelf as a teenager and decided that books with balls, dukes, and gowns were the best. So, when she had the chance to spend a semester in London she packed her bags—and promptly fell in love with the city, its history, and its pubs. She dreamed of writing romance, but somehow ended up a software analyst instead.

Fortunately, a few years and a few careers later, Anna found her way back to writing the stories she loves and won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart®. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever she quotes Jane Austen. Other weaknesses include reality TV, cute shoes, and coffee. Lots and lots

Video #bookreview ~ The Du Lac Chronicles #Arthurian #historicalfantasy @CrankyTBC

I just had to share this amazing review of The Du Lac Chronicles by Cranky The Book Curmudgeon  ~ it quite literally brought tears to my eyes! Check it out, it is awesome!!

Links for Purchase
Amazon US
Amazon UK 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

#bookreview ~ The Complete King Arthur: Many Faces, One Hero #Arthurian

The Complete King Arthur:

Many Faces, One Hero

John Matthews & Caitlín Matthews

A comprehensive examination of the historical and mythological evidence for every major theory about King Arthur

• Explores the history of every Arthur candidate and the geographical arguments that have placed him in different locations

• Examines 1,800 years of evidence for Arthur’s life and the famous series of 12 battles fought against the Saxons in the 6th century

• Reconstructs the history of the 6th century in Britain, when the first references to Arthur and the core events of his reign appear

Few legends have had the enduring influence of those surrounding King Arthur. Many believe the stories are based on historical truth. For others Arthur represents the archetype of the brilliant monarch reigning over a fairy-tale kingdom, offering his knights the opportunity to prove their mettle in battle and find gnostic illumination through initiation into sacred mysteries like that of the Grail.

Presenting the culmination of more than 40 years’ research, John and Caitlín Matthews examine the historical and mythological evidence for every major theory about the existence of King Arthur. Drawing on modern techniques in archaeology and scholarship, they reconstruct the history of the 6th century in Britain, the period when the first unambiguous references to Arthur appear. They explore the history of every Arthur candidate, the geographical arguments that have placed him in different locations, and the evidence for his life and famous battles fought against the Saxons. Was the greatest British hero of all time not a king but a 2nd-century Roman officer active around Hadrian’s Wall in Cumbria? A 5th-century soldier who operated in areas as far apart as Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, or Brittany? Or an entirely mythical fiction that provided a figure of light during a dark period of British history?

Examining other literary figures from the 5th century such as Vortigern and Ambrosius, the authors also break down the plots of all the major Arthurian romances, including those by Chretien de Troyes, Sir Thomas Malory, and Robert de Boron, to reveal the historical events they are based on. Piecing together the many fragments that constitute the image of Arthur, both the man and the myth, the authors show how each face of Arthur has something to offer and how his modern popularity proves the enduring power of the hero-myth, truly earning Arthur the title he first received in the 15th century: The Once and Future King.

What did I think of the book?

The Complete King Arthur: Many Faces, One Hero, is a comprehensive look at the many different persona’s of King Arthur. I have read many books from notable scholars on the subject of Arthur, so I was looking forward to seeing what John Matthews and Caitlín Matthews had to say for themselves. I was hoping for something fresh and easy to read, I got that.

The authors do not claim to have found Arthur, this isn’t that type of book, although I got the impression the authors were leaning towards the Roman Centurion, Artorius Castus, as a probable candidate!

This book covers a vast period, from Roman occupation of Britain, to now, which is a long period of history to cover, but I have to commend John Matthews and Caitlín Matthews, for they did it remarkably well.
This book looks at how Arthur has changed through the ages and how he has been used, to some extent, for political purposes. It also shows us how Arthur ‘the man’ was turned into Arthur ‘the legend’ and how the ancient texts were possibly misinterpreted. So as with anything to do with Arthur you expect to look at the works of Gildas, Nennius, Bede, etc... which this book does, and John Matthews and Caitlín Matthews have come up with some really interesting thesis as they interpret what they think this writing is, and isn’t, telling us. The authors arguments are very compelling, and I have to admit I had this book in one hand, and the rest of my vast Arthurian collection spread out before me while I cross-referenced. And for the most part, I found myself agreeing with what John Matthews and Caitlín Matthews have so elegantly put forward as an argument. Their interpretation makes sense.

This book spends a long time looking at Nennius’s 12 famous battles and how these "battles" have been interpreted / miss-interpreted over time, and, more importantly, what they say about the political landscape that they are set in. I thought the authors were right to dedicate this amount of time to these battles and for those new to Arthurian Legend this would be enlightening.

The book takes us on a journey and show us how Arthur changed over time from a soldier to a king, and it pays particular attention to the great poets, who of course, were responsible for this change. There is a fascinating chapter on Geoffrey of Monmouth, who is the founding father of the somewhat fictitious Arthur that we would recognise today. The authors look in great detail at Monmouth’s life and where he got his facts from - that missing ancient manuscript raises its head again - and more importantly, they look at why Monmouth wrote it in the first place.

The authors show the two sides of Arthur — the Christian King, and the spoilt, arrogant, almost evil Arthur that he was sometimes portrayed as. The book looks at principle players in Arthurian Legend as well - Kay, Mordred, Bedivere, Gawain, and Lancelot, as well as Arthur's Queen, all get a mention and as with Arthur, the authors demonstrate where the 'historical' characters came from, and which ones have a rather fictitious beginning!

I thought this book was very well thought out, there are lots of amazing images,
a very useful timeline, maps, and everything is chronicled in order, so you really
do need to start at the beginning as there is a lot of references to earlier chapters. 
This is a book that is suitable for those who are just starting out on their
Arthurian journey, as well as those that are well on their way into their research.
This is a book that I am going to come back to again. It is a welcomed addition
to my shelf.

I Highly Recommend.

*I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley, for review consideration*

Links for Purchase