24 April 2017

The WHITE CAMELIA by Juliet Greenwood

Amazon Uk £8.99 / £3.84
Amazon US $7.29 / $3.54
Amazon CA $5.31 / $6.19


“The great Tressillion family is ruined. As Bea is forced to leave Tressillion House, self-made businesswoman Sybil moves in. In a world where the old rules are starting to break down, this one choice will change both their lives forever…
Sybil buys the abandoned great house even though she is tempted to tear it down. The village sees only a rich American hotel-owner. Nobody recognises the young girl who left years ago with nothing but a desperate need for revenge. Buying the house is her triumph — but now what? As the house casts its spell over her, as she starts to make friends in the village despite herself, will she be able to build a new life here, or will her old ghosts and hatred always rule her heart?

“Bea finds herself in London, responsible for her mother and sister’s security. Her only hope is to marry Jonathon, the new heir. He seems kind, but is he hiding something? Desperate for options, she stumbles into the White Camellia tearoom, a gathering place for the growing suffrage movement. For Bea it’s life-changing, introducing her to new friends, new ideas, maybe love, maybe even a chance to work and support herself. But it’s dangerous, risking arrest or worse. Can she follow her dreams without bringing yet more scandal on her family?
When those very dangers send the White Camellia friends back to Cornwall, Bea and Sybil must finally confront each other. Will long buried family secrets on both sides now destroy them both?”

This is a beautifully written story set in Cornwall and Wales in the early 1900s, involving family secrets, love and suffragettes.

Merely 100 years on, it is poignant to read how far we have come, witnessing the prejudice and outright stupid arguments against the women's vote.

Greenwood has chosen great characters for her story: a fallen family which is somewhat torn apart; Sybil, who just took over their old house and who has an interesting background, too, and the people who meet at the White Camellia establishment.

The prose is full of wonderful descriptive details, the pace perfect and the setting authentic. Moving, and with an ending worth waiting for, this has held my attention throughout. Very accomplished.

© Christoph Fischer

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23 April 2017

A Fourth Sunday Extra

We usually have something different each Sunday here on Discovering Diamonds...
But April has five Sundays - so as this is an additional bonus Fourth Sunday I thought 
we'd have a round-up of Discovering Diamonds so far!

Since 'going live' we have had 
40,702 page visits (as of 2pm 22nd April 2017)
293 books listed on our database
over 125 of those have already been reviewed
36 are currently being reviewed, a few have been rejected (usually because of incorrect formatting issues) and the rest are waiting to be received.

Which is fabulous!

Did you know that if you scroll down this main 'Bookshelf' page you will come to the Top Ten Most Popular Books Reviewed for all time on this blog, and the Top Ten Most Popular Books of the current month?

Here they are as of today (22nd April):



Running this review blog is hard work and takes a good deal of time, so my enormous thanks to Nicky who receives the e-books in and sends them out to be reviewed, to Annie who proof-reads the reviews before they are posted, and to our wonderful team of reviewers all of whom are doing a fantastic job because they want to support authors and promote good books to enthusiastic readers.

So what can you do to help?

  • I'd love some more Reader's Voice articles - topics gratefully received.
  • Do you fancy joining our review team? If so email me for details

Or a simple but very big thing - help to promote Discovering Diamonds. 
On Facebook, Twitter (the hashtag is #DDRevs) Goodreads - your own blog - anywhere and everywhere in fact! 

Discovering Diamonds will only become a wider success if we continue to review good books and readers who want to know about them visit these pages - so...

22 April 2017

A Discovering Diamonds review of 1066: WHAT FATES IMPOSE by G.K. Holloway

Amazon UK £2.48  £9.99
Amazon US $3.09  $16.70
Amazon CA  $29.24


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?”

The 1066 period in fiction seems to be gaining in popularity, which is a good thing, as is the most welcome swing towards writing the events of what is probably the most famous date in English history from the English point of view – in other words exploring the truth behind the victor’s, the Norman, propaganda.

There are always two sides to conflict and G.K. Holloway certainly knows his stuff when it comes to research and fact; his detail seems to be faultless, but as a novel maybe the dialogue is a bit chunky in places, and perhaps the facts – as good as they are – occasionally get in the way of the fiction? The characterisation gives way to the research a little as well, which is a shame because 1066: What Fates Impose deserves a place among the other 1066 books because of the writer’s obvious enthusiasm and knowledge.

Having said that, the characters, their actions, their motivations – their obsession almost, fit very well into this novel. For readers who prefer their historical fiction to concentrate on the reality of fact, rather than the imagination of made-up fiction,  and to portray the truth of what might have happened, and to do so with confidence, this is the right book.

© Richard Tearle

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21 April 2017

A Discovered Diamonds review of TUNNEL 6 by Steve Bartholomew

 Amazon UK £1.99    £8.38
Amazon CA  $16.99

 Adventure / Romance
American Frontier

Tunnel 6 is a quirky and entertaining novel about a well-chosen period in American history that I knew nothing about beforehand and found fascinating. It is told in several different strands and, indeed, several different styles, including diary entries and a ‘confession’, and that nicely worked device held my attention well and kept the story moving along.

The novel follows the fortunes of a work camp in America building the Central Pacific railway line through the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the 1860s and specifically those trying to blast the longest tunnel – the eponymous Tunnel 6 - through granite. Centring around an engineer, a female wire operator and a saboteur sent to delay and, if possible, destroy the line, and with a fascinating side cast of Chinese workers, it offers a lively glimpse into a very interesting time.

That said, although I enjoyed Tunnel 6, it never truly grabbed me, perhaps because everything seemed to happen on a slightly superficial level. The core romance was sweet but very steady. It never seemed to hit any rocks or problems and as a result I never felt on the inside of it. That was believable in some ways as these were two very straightforward individuals but it still made it hard for me to truly care about their fate. The setting was clearly well researched and believably presented but there was no real atmosphere which, for a book set in the frozen wastes of Sierra Nevada, was a shame.

Similarly, when it came to the plot, I found it fun piecing together what had happened, but the fact that we knew the perpetrator of the attempted sabotage from the start meant that there was a lack of secrets to really keep me hooked and no one ever felt truly in jeopardy. The pace was sufficient to keep me reading but I felt that I was always waiting for the storyline to get going and found myself slightly surprised to have reached the end.

Overall, I found Tunnel 6 a fluid and fun read, but not one that really got under my skin. It will appeal to readers who are interested in this period of American Frontier history and the building of the railways.

© Joanna Barnden

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20 April 2017

A Discovered Diamond review of And THEN MINE ENEMY by Alison Stuart

A Discovered Diamond review of: AND THEN MINE ENEMY by Alison Stuart

Amazon UK £2.37    £6.31
Amazon US $2.95  $7.99
Amazon CA  $ n/a

 Romance / Adventure
17th Century / English Civil War

And Then Mine Enemy by Alison Stuart is a fast-moving, involving historical romance set in the instantly dramatic period of the English Civil War. It follows the unfolding relationship between Adam Coulter, bastard-born ‘cuckoo in the nest’ of a noble family who chooses to defy his half brothers by taking parliament’s side in the rising war, and Perdita Gray, fianceĆ© to Adam’s stepbrother, Simon. Perdita is an independent-spirited woman who is strong enough to aid the severely wounded and brave enough to ride across war-torn England when the need arises. At first her engagement to the steady and loving Simon precludes her from giving in to her feelings for Adam but in times of war fortunes can turn swiftly, for better and for worse…

This is a very entertaining read, set in a fascinating period that Stuart creates naturally and convincingly. It is lightly written with good pace and flow and is peopled with characters you’ll will to succeed. It ends a little suddenly but as it is the first in a series that isn’t a big problem and I just need to get hold of the next book, Now My Sworn Friend, to read more about both the family and the country’s adventures in hard and interesting times.

© Joanna Barnden

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19 April 2017

A Discovering Diamonds review of LEONIDAS OF SPARTA: A BOY OF THE AGOGE by Helena P Schrader

 Amazon UK £3.65    £12.99
Amazon US $4.56  $15.32
Amazon CA  $11.75

Adventure/ Military / Coming of Age / Family Saga
Late 6th Century BC
Sparta - Greece

Book #1 of a trilogy

The death of Leonidas now stands alongside those of many other heroes of the past, yet the life of this man is not well documented. Helena Schrader attempts to put this right with her Leonidas of Sparta trilogy, of which this is the first volume.

It covers the period from when Leonidas is seven years old and taken to the Agoge (or school) until he eventually graduates to become a citizen fourteen years later. We follow his adventures, trials, successes and failures for each of these years, seeing how he grows up and deals with the harsh – though not so severe as we might imagine – upbringing in the Agoge and the Spartan way of life. Leonidas is the youngest son of the king and rather down-trodden by his brothers and half-brothers – even his slightly older-by-minutes twin, Brotus, looks down on him. But he has friends, the arrogant Prokles and the shy, stuttering weakling Alkander.

Whilst a good story - I cannot fault the research and the detail with which the author describes events - but we start off with a rather long prologue where Leonidas seems to be preparing for Thermopylae and from thereon in, the book is littered with words and phrases either in parentheses or within quotation marks, or both, when more appropriate writing might have removed these distractions. I also felt that so much of the history – and therefore the depth of research – was told in the narrative rather than shown by the characters in dialogue or action and narrative. There were only one or two typographical or spacing errors, but for a British reader I wonder if the 'Americanisms' (i.e ‘Fall’ not ‘Autumn’) and a spattering of anachronisms might jar a little? e.g. I doubt Spartan soldiers would have 'gone AWOL'?

All in all, I enjoyed the story, the subject is a fascinating one and should be told, plus the author knows her subject very well, so for readers who prefer historical detail over imaginative fiction this is ideal.

© Richard Tearle

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