1 July 2017

it's the First Weekend in July!

No reviews on a weekend but...
Today we Reveal our Selected Cover of the Month

To see the Cover Winner For JUNE
click here

Our Head Judge is
Cathy Helms of

  • Cover of Month announced on the FIRST weekend of the month
  • Book of the Month announced on the SECOND weekend in the month
  • Guest Spot - posted on the THIRD weekend in the month
  • Reader's Voice - posted on the LAST weekend in the month  

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30 June 2017

Flowers of Flanders by Ros Rendle

Amazon UK £2.25
Amazon US $2.90
Amazon CA N/A

Fictional Saga
Manchester / Flanders

Book 1 'The Strong Sisters' trilogy

“Rose rivals her beautiful, mercurial sister for Michael’s love but calculated lies and misunderstandings alter the young peoples’ course. War breaks and Michael is as eager as the others to go. Maybe Rose will settle for second best with Thom even though she cannot get Michael out of her soul.
Does a man need the grace of serenity to rediscover his own or is it frivolity and seduction he craves when he has been through the darkest places of war? Michael’s experiences in the trenches gradually alter his perceptions.
This is a story about deceit and loyalties, complex relationships and loves developing from youth to adulthood during a cataclysmic time in history.”

An entrancing story about three sisters, Delphine, Rose and Iris Stone, and the changing of life, expectations, traditions and attitudes because of the event that was the Great War.

Set in Manchester and Flanders, perhaps a little Downton Abbey-esq (but so what!) in that this is the story of a well-to-do family and their lives, loves, disappointments, hopes and fears before and during  the years of WW I.

Typical of the era, and their class, they have little to do in the daily round of life. Their expectations are to marry well, apart from Rose, who wants to go to University. Then war comes. Their friend, Michael Redfern, enlists and along with the Manchester Pals is sent to the trenches.

Flowers of Flanders is well researched and is a nicely told tale, giving an absorbing view of both sides of life in the war period – the gentile well-off almost cushioned life of those at home, and the horror of the war and the trenches for those at the Front. It is a highly poignant tale of young people making their way through life, facing the pleasant and the unpleasant, from love to heartbreak with everything else that life chucks at you in between.

The novel sets the scene well as the first of what promises to be an enjoyable trilogy.

A good, enjoyable read

© Anne Holt

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29 June 2017

A Discovering Diamonds review of: Queen of Trial and Sorrow by Susan Appleyard

Amazon UK £4.65
Amazon US $5.99

Biographical Fiction 
15th Century

“The story of Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of King Edward IV and the mother of the Princes in the Tower. As an impoverished widow, she was wooed and won by the handsome young king and believed her dreams had come true. But she was soon swept up in the War of the Roses, enduring hardship and danger as her husband struggled to keep his throne. When he died Elizabeth was unable to protect her family against the ruthless ambitions of the man he trusted above all others. It was the king's brothers, the unstable Duke of Clarence and the loyal Duke of Gloucester, who would prove to be Elizabeth's most dangerous enemies.”

An enjoyable read, although it did require a little concentration as it is told first person from the point-of-view of Elizabeth Woodville herself, which sometimes made me feel as if I were listening to one-person self-portrait, a little ‘me, me, me’. That said, it made a nice change to read something that had a different slant to a well-known period of events, and a different way of looking at Elizabeth’s emotions as her story – and her life – unfolds in all its joys and tragedies, through her love, her hope, her ambition – and her grief. There is joy and sadness here, every-day, life and Court intrigue.

Perhaps at times the author’s knowledge and research is a little too much to the fore? The scenes and the lifestyle were highly evocative – and interesting – but sometimes just a little overdone as they stumbled the story itself.

However, this was a fascinating account, which lovers of this era should enjoy.

© Anne Holt

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28 June 2017

First of the Tudors by Joanna Hickson

Amazon UK £3.49 / £7.99
Amazon US $10.18
Amazon CA $11.99 / $15.04

Fictional Biography
England / Wales

First of the Tudors is the opening of a series which promises to look a cracking good one!

Who knows anything about Jasper Tudor? I certainly did not!
The son of Queen Catherine and Owen Tudor, her second husband, Jasper and his brother, Edmund are to go to London, summoned by their half-brother, King Henry VI.

They receive earldoms and the wardship of the heiress, young Margaret Beaufort. Becoming devoted to the child, Jasper is devastated when he discovers that she is to marry Edmund. He seeks solace elsewhere, but passion is never an easy companion.

Overshadowed by the more well-known of the Tudors Jasper Tudor has always been side-lined in history and in historical fiction, yet it was he who was to be charged with the protection of his nephew, the son of Edmund and Margaret Beaufort - Henry Tudor.

Joanna Hickson has the ability to bring history alive in a readable and intelligent style, her characters have depth and warmth, with the story itself unravelling in a most pleasing and enjoyable way. She captures a sense of place, time, intrigue, romance and the lust for power – and the trouble all these things bring – in a very talented written and enjoyable novel.

I look forward to the next instalment.

© Ellen Hill

Cover selected for Cover of the Month

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27 June 2017

The Dust of Ancients by Terri Nixon

Amazon UK £0.99 £10.00
Amazon US £1.19 $15.00
Amazon CA $19.71

Timeslip / Mystery
Cornwall, England

(The Lynher Mill Chronicles Book 1)

“A curse uttered in the extremity of terror and death can reverberate for centuries. When the means to bring that curse to fruition are suddenly within reach, the innocents must look to their past to protect their future ... and their past wants no part of it. 

Richard Lucas has been plagued by vivid and disturbing dreams since the death of his wife eleven years ago, and, desperate to get his life back on track, he is persuaded by his best friend Dean to take a sabbatical. But when he arrives in Dean’s home village of Lynher Mill he discovers that, not only is Dean not who he seems, but that he himself is bound more tightly to the Cornish moorlands than he could have imagined. And far more deeply than he would ever want to be.

As the events that began to shape his life over three thousand years ago continue their steady, unstoppable march towards a terrifying conclusion, Richard discovers the truth about his connection to the moor, and eventually has to do battle with his own history just to survive. Those who love him struggle with conflicting loyalties and come to realise that, if the land itself is to endure, they must make some devastating decisions.”

A fabulous story, drenched in atmosphere and one of those rare tales that suck you in from line one all the way through to the end.

As a fantasy tale, belief has to be suspended from the outset, but the trick of a good book – and this is a very good book – is for the reader to become completely unaware that this is fantasy, and believe every word – no matter how fantastic!

The sense of place, the desolate moors, and the legends and mysteries of Cornwall transported me to that world of imagination as easily as stepping on to a bus or train, no matter that the landscape and cities (Plymouth in particular!) were, in this novel, steeped in make-believe, the narrative was absorbing, realistic and one-hundred percent enjoyable entertainment.

Add to all that, Ms Nixon’s entire concept is something a little different, and most refreshing.

It is always a pleasure to 'discover' a new author - and excellent storytellers - to read, and I am delighted that Discovering Diamonds is fulfilling the intended job of doing just that! 

Unputdownable. Entertaining. Fabulous. I must read book two….

© Anne Holt

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26 June 2017

The Beekeeper's Daughter by Jane Jordan

Amazon UK £3.23 / £13.49
Amazon US $4.20 / $16.84
Amazon CA $5.39 / $23.06

Romance / Family Drama / Witchcraft
19th Century
Exmoor, Devon

Well, set on Exmoor, of course I had to read this one! 

The beekeeper’s daughter, Annabel, and the blacksmith’s son, Jevan, have a deep, almost obsessed, bond as teenagers. They are wild and impulsive, as you would expect from Annabel, who is the daughter of a witch. She has control over the bees, the weather, and feels deep betrayal when Jevan leaves for schooling in London.

When he returns, several years later, the heir to a local powerful family is courting Annabel – and then the trouble really begins!

The story has unsettling darkness, and the ‘witchcraft’ of Annabel’s connection with the bees is as much a part of the story as her relationship with Jevan. There is romance, mystery, and the occult alongside a battle of wills and supernatural forces. Add to that, the characters are vivid, flawed individuals who are victims of the Darkness of Evil, but they are also heroes – although to say more will give spoilers, if you are Ok with the supernatural element - read this one, but probably not a novel for those who prefer their romance as a light read. For those who like something more gritty, however…

© Helen Hollick

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