24 June 2017

It's the last weekend in June

no reviews today - but how about visiting our 
Reader's Voice Page?

This month:

Fact v Fiction - is accuracy in historical novels essential? Have YOUR say! click here: https://discoveringdiamonds.blogspot.co.uk/p/g.html

Did you miss?

our Guest Spot?

Alison Morton's fine tribute to Lindsey Davis, 
author of the Falco series

click here

more reviews on Monday!

23 June 2017

The Sisters of St Croix by Diney Costloe

Amazon UK £3.85 / £15.90
Amazon US $4.70 / $5.96
Amazon CA $0.99 / $4.27

family drama 

Occupied France. A group of nuns assist the resistance to smuggle Jews and British Airmen out of France, mindful of the power and menace of the Nazis.

There is a background of secrets and spies running through this tale of wartime good v evil. There is tension and excitement, deceptions and collaborations – perhaps not a unique plot, certainly not a new idea but so what? This is a gripping story of courage and determination in the face of adversity and cruelty. A story to become engrossed in while on that long holiday flight, or sunning on the beach.

© Ellen Hill

click here to return to home page 'Bookshelf' then scroll down for more items of interest

22 June 2017

Fire and Sword by Harry Sidebottom

Throne of the Caesars: Book 3

Amazon UK £5.99 / £5.99 /£14.03
Amazon US $6.05 / $18.27
Amazon CA $20.69

238 AD
Ancient Rome


The Roman Empire has fallen into chaos. The Emperor and his son are dead, and former Emperor, Maximinus Thrax, hopes to reclaim his rightful position, but the Senators are more interested in saving their own skins should Maximus succeed.

This was a violent and bloody period of Rome’s history, a period and situation which is reflected in this novel, which is impeccably researched. 

As the third in a series, although a stand-alone novel, I would suggest you start at the beginning to maximise enjoyment of this author’s wonderful talent as a writer, and involvement as a reader with the well portrayed characters and events.

A definite for Roman History lovers!

© Anne Holt

click here to return to home page 'Bookshelf' then scroll down for more items of interest

21 June 2017

The Body in the Ice by A J MacKenzie

Amazon UK £6.47 / £18.95
Amazon US $8.31 / $23.95
Amazon CA $9.99 / $31.95

Mystery / Thriller
Romney Marsh, Kent

(A Hardcastle and Chaytor Mystery)

The marsh village of Hope had once been a thriving community, but plague has devastated its existence. All that is left is a ruined church – and now at Christrmas-tide, a dead body found in the frozen ice - murdered by a blow to the head. Flickering lanterns illuminate a pool of blood, the jewelled buttons on the corpse’s waistcoat and his expensive watch fob. Found by a boy, was the corpse killed at the old church, or does his death have something to do with the Romney Marsh smugglers?

Justice of the peace for St Mary in the Marsh, the Reverend Hardcastle, has to investigate what is obviously a callous murder, but it seems he has an impossible task ahead of him. His friend, Amelia Chaytor, is there to help him solve the riddle, and along with a new arrival, Captain Edward Austen, it soon becomes apparent that there is more here to solve than was first thought...

The plot of this gripping tale thickens with an American family desperate to take possession of their ancestral home, a French spy, and secrets and revenge all adding to this intriguing mystery.
To say more will spoil a riveting and most exciting read ...

© Ellen Hill

Note: there were a few editing issues with the edition reviewed. Possibly #DDRevs had an ARC  edition though, where errors do often occur prior to full publication.

click here to return to home page 'Bookshelf' then scroll down for more items of interest

20 June 2017

The Shadow Queen by Anne O'Brien

Amazon UK £6.99 / £8.16
Amazon US $9.81 / $14.39
Amazon CA $19.59

Biographical fiction
14th century

This is a story of love, loyalty, and of families grasping at anything for the gain of power, no matter what stands in the way. It is also the story, so very well written, of the mother of Richard II, a beautiful girl who pays the price of high ambition.

Joan of Kent, a minor royal, is little known outside of those who study this period of history, I had no idea of anything about her. Her love for a minor knight was doomed from the outset – for the reader, a train-crash waiting to happen. Her life in this excellent novel is beautifully written with impeccable research and true feeling. The story and the characters come vividly alive as a romance, as an adventure and as the plotting and scheming that enshrined nearly every era of royal intrigue.

Joan, here, knows her own mind. She is the feisty heroine, the shrewd woman who refuses to be controlled.

The book is hard to put down, it takes you to the world of knights and jousts and to a woman who really ought to be far more well known in history and historical fiction!

Highly recommended

© Ellen Hill

click here to return to home page 'Bookshelf' then scroll down for more items of interest

19 June 2017

Eva's Secret by Emily Cotton

Amazon UK £11.85
Amazon US $3.12
Amazon CA $3.94

Family Drama (slight fantasy element)
16th Century

I must admit that initially, I was somewhat hesitant to this book – having a cat as a POV character was not something I felt entirely comfortable with. Likewise, the formatting and editing could do with a brush-up and in the first few chapters the here and now was interrupted by flashbacks that could have been woven more seamlessly into the narrative.

But by then, of course, I was already hooked by the story of Eva de Paiza, her cat Tabita and the complexities of surviving in early 16th century Granada when your father has just been dragged off by the Inquisition.

Rarely have I read a book that so utterly transports me back to the time depicted. Clothes, furnishings, food, medicinal treatments – all has been so meticulously researched, all is so elegantly inserted in the narrative. Granada is just a few decades away from its recent Moorish past, and the city is a polyglot mix of Saracens and Jews (albeit that all of them officially are Catholic), good loyal Spanish Christians and the odd smattering of others. Arabic is still spoken, those that work in trade are generally bilingual, and even the various faiths have rubbed along—albeit uneasily—until the Inquisition decides enough is enough: false converts must be punished. 

Add to this Eva’s own sad story: her father is a brute, her mother fled the home when Eva was eight or so, and now, as a consequence of her father’s imprisonment, Eva is lured into a house where she finds herself reduced to being a slave, a chattel for sale. 

All of this drama could have resulted in a sturm-unt-drang pastiche, but Eva’s own personality—mild, meek and somewhat na├»ve—keeps the narrative firmly on the ground. Eva is no feisty heroine intent on kicking off the traces of her slavery. No, Eva is a very young woman who bears things and makes the best of what she has, praying that God will see her safe. 

Eva’s Secret is a love story, and accordingly there is not one protagonist, but two (plus the cat). Baseel is the Saracen in charge of managing the day-to-day business of the merchant who has enslaved Eva. He is a devout Muslim, disfigured by childhood disease, and alternates between being harsh and aloof and warm and caring—although this latter side he reserves for Eva only. Not that Eva notices—at least not initially. Her childhood experiences have made her wary of all men, and besides, Baseel is a Muslim, while Eva’s dream has always been to become a nun. Not the most auspicious of circumstances, one could say…

Two wonderfully depicted characters in a vibrant historical setting makes Eva’s Secret a delightful read. Even Tabita the cat grows on me, albeit that I did have some problems with this feline’s spiritual experiences. No matter: all in all, Ms Cotton has delivered an engaging story set in a tumultuous time and a somewhat exotic setting. 
Warmly recommended!

© Anna Belfrage

click here to return to home page 'Bookshelf' then scroll down for more items of interest