Sunday, 31 May 2020

COVER & BOOK of the MONTH MAY

SCROLL DOWN FOR
BOOK OF THE MONTH

designer Cathy Helms of www.avalongraphics.org
with fellow designer Tamian Wood of www.beyonddesigninternational.com
select their chosen Cover of the Month
with all winners going forward for 
Cover of the Year in December 2020
(honourable mentions for the Runner-up)

WINNER  MAY 2020

Read our Review
Cover designed by Rachel Lopez
  www.r2cdesign.com

Honourable Mention
* * *
WINNER  APRIL 2020
cover design by Caroline Young for Headline Publishing Group
Honourable mentions

36146468. sy475
Read our review
designer unknown

UK Cover
(no designer known)

WINNER MARCH 2020


Designer unknown
Read our review here
Honourable Mentions
Designer unknown
Read our review here

Designer unknown
Read our review here
Designed by Cathy Helms - not eligible for award
Read our review here
WINNER FEBRUARY 2020
designer unknown - mainstream
read our review
Honourable Mentions
44299861. sy475
cover design by Melody Simmons
read our review
31568110
mainstream designer unknown
read our review
WINNER JANUARY 2020


Designer Unknown
Read Our Review
Honourable Mentions
Cover design by Design for Writers
Read Our Review
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Designed by Tara Mayberry
www.teaberrycreative.com
Read Our Review

A personal choice made by me, Helen Hollick,
(founder of Discovering Diamonds)
from books I have shortlisted for my personal reading 
My criteria for a 'winner' is:
* Did I thoroughly enjoy the story?
* Would I read it again?
* Is it a 'keeper'

MAY 2020
just the one this month:

April 2020 
My chosen JOINT winner
(because I enjoyed them both)

and 

MARCH 2020

Runner-Up 
read our review here

 Book of the Month

February 2020

Runner-Ups 
read our review
 Not a fast-paced action 'who-dun-it' , but  sophisticated measured read with some wonderful descriptive writing

read our review
I can't resist a Melissa Addey - again wonderful descriptive writing

Book of the Month
It might seem odd to select a novel that made me cry. This one did because it is based on real life - so many died, so horribly. I truly think that this book should be compulsory reading in all schools - no, for everyone - so that we never, never, forget what happened to the Jewish people during WWII

January 2020

Runner-Ups  
two because I have enjoyed
the entire series of both these novels

Read our review
Read our review
Book of the Month is


Book and Cover of the Year
will be announced on 31st December 2020

PRIVATE PAGE 2020 CATHY and TAMIAN COVER of the MONTH



JUNE  

Cover by The Cover Collection: www.thecovercollection.com

WINNER




Runner Up:




**** 

JULY

...




Guest Spot - Susan Appleyard




I was born in Leeds, Yorkshire and immigrated to Canada with my husband and 3 small children in the seventies. Those children have produced 6 grandchildren and one of those grandchildren has just had a son of his own. I have been blessed with a wonderful – and growing! – family. For the last twenty-five years or so, my husband and I have been spending increasingly long periods of winter in Mexico and we now stay here for fully 6 months. (Anyone who has experienced an Ontario winter would understand why.) We have a house by the sea near Puerto Vallarta, lots of nice people to hang out with and there is a writers’ group here. I feel blessed in this also.

History was always my passion. It is one of the things I miss about England. I have always enjoyed writing also. I was the kid in school who was often chosen by teachers to read my essay or story out to the class as an example of how things should be done. And never, not once, did I write a character into a corner and then have him/her awaken from a dream. So weak! I always had dolls in my bed because I used to make up little plays of derring-do in my head and act them out. I was the heroine. Various dolls were the villains. I think it was inevitable that I should become a writer or an actress. If I had become an actress, I wonder if I would be super-rich now. Another Meryl Streep perhaps?

My first opportunity as a writer came from a small publishing company in Toronto, Canada. They gave me a 3-book contract, published 2 books and then announced they were selling out to another company in that literary mecca, Beverly Hills. Right out of the blue. I had only a sip from the cup of success before it was snatched away. My career was in the toilet, so was my spirit. I gave up trying to get published. I did lots of other things, but I never gave up writing. Every now and then, the urge would come upon me and I would have to get something down on paper. (Yes, it was paper in those days.) It was a compulsion every bit as powerful as the need for a cigarette when you’re trying to quit.

Thirty years after the publication of my first book came my second opportunity – with Amazon, and I have taken full advantage. I now have 2 more books published as paperbacks, and 8 Ebooks, with 1 more on the way in April. All within 5 years. So those ‘in-between’ years weren’t entirely wasted.

I have now faced the fact that I have probably written my last book. I find computer use is adversely affecting my eyes. And yes, I realise there are other options, none of which suit me. More compelling is that in the past when I have finished a book, I already know what I want to write next and am eager to begin. Not so this time. There are other things I like to do. I like to paint and dance and swim and play cards. I go to the gym and do water aerobics. I’m a fit 71-year-old and intend to stay that way. In a few days, I will be going scuba diving for the first time. (Cross that off the bucket list.) And I think it’s high time I learned how to cook Mexican.

So I am at ease with my decision. My life has been and still is happy and fulfilling.

Thank you for reading.


https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=Susan+Appleyard

http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Appleyard/e/B00UTVMT5Y


https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=susan+appleyard&i=digital-text&crid=CUPN8ZXV48M



Click HERE to find  Susan on Discovering Diamonds



If your novel/s have been reviewed by Discovering Diamonds
and you would like to participate in our 
 Guest Spot
click HERE for details

Friday, 29 May 2020

Book and Cover of the Month - MAY



designer Cathy Helms of www.avalongraphics.org
with fellow designer Tamian Wood of www.beyonddesigninternational.com
select their chosen Cover of the Month
with all winners going forward for 
Cover of the Year in December 2020
(honourable mentions for the Honourable Mention Runner-up)



WINNER
MAY 2020

Read our Review
Cover designed by Rachel Lopez
  www.r2cdesign.com

Honourable Mention

This is a personal choice made by  me, Helen Hollick,
(founder of Discovering Diamonds)
from books I have shortlisted for my personal reading 

My criteria for a 'winner' is:
* Did I thoroughly enjoy the story?
* Would I read it again?
* Is it a 'keeper'


My Book of the Month Winner is:

* * * * * * 


Book and Cover of the Year
will be announced on 31st December 2020

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

A Discovering Diamonds Review of The Intrigues of Jennie Lee by Alex Rosenberg



Alternative / thriller
1920s / 1930s
England

The Intrigues of Jennie Lee is alternative history, set in Britain in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The main characters are real: Jennie Lee, the MP for North Lanarkshire; Frank Wise, fellow MP in the Independent Labour Party; Nye Bevin; the Duchess of York; Ramsay MacDonald, and, central to the story, Sir Oswald Mosley, historically a charismatic politician and the eventual leader of the British Union of Fascists.

Author Alex Rosenberg effectively invokes the mix of hope and despair of the years before the crash of 1929; the class divides and the faith of some in the policies of communism in the Soviet Union. Both mining villages and country houses figure in the story, although the latter are better described than the former. Much of the story, fitting for a political thriller, takes place in and around the House of Commons.

What if, the story asks, Jennie Lee was not quite whom she seemed? What if there was support from the highest in the land for Mosley’s policies?  What if an election had a different result? A plausible reconstruction of events, for the most part, with some clear and solid explanations of the issues facing the governments of the day and the rise of fascist thought.

The story suffers somewhat from uneven pacing and a reliance on coincidence, especially approaching, and in, its climax.  However, in that it reminded me a bit of some of John Buchan’s novels, and it does not necessarily detract from the reader’s overall enjoyment. Repetition of facts also detracted, at least for me. The Intrigues of Jennie Lee is a solid, speculative thriller, and appears to offer the suggestion of a sequel. The real Jennie Lee was a strong, independent socialist, and she makes an appealing central character.


Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Marian L Thorpe


 e-version reviewed


29th May - Cover and Book of the Month

You will find several items of interest on the sidebar


Monday, 25 May 2020

The Adventures of Tom Finch, Gentleman by Lucy May Lennox

shortlisted for Book of the Month

Romance
18th century 
England

What becomes of a wannabe libertine in early 18th-century London who is continually thwarted in his rake’s progress by his remarkable musical talent and innate decency? Added to these confounding factors, Tom Finch, one of a stable of bastards sired by a poxy earl, has been blind from early childhood. In Lucy May Lennox’s delightful romp through Hanoverian England, The Adventures of Tom Finch, Gentleman, her unique protagonist is one of many characters that at first glance appear right out of costume-drama central casting but stubbornly play against stereotype. And it’s the characters that make this novel such a jolly read.

This is not to gainsay Ms Lennox’s skill in constructing a plot line that provides plenty of interest and pace. Tom Finch has survived through most of his adult life on the largesse of a domineering widowed aunt, Lady Gray, the sister of his noble father who has appointed herself wrangler of her intemperate brother’s herd of illegitimate sons and cast-aside daughters from his first marriage. However, Lady Gray has an insatiable taste for opera and a not unrelated soft spot for her musical prodigy nephew. Her modest largesse, together with Tom’s irregular earnings from writing broadside tunes, tutoring aspiring sopranos, and serving as rehearsal music master for Handel’s operas at the Theatre Royal, allow Tom to maintain a slightly tatty and very jumbled household near Covent Garden’s theatres, stews, and alehouses. 

Although he's a voracious and somewhat indiscriminate consumer of the services of the area’s concubines, Tom’s heart resolutely belongs to a notorious prostitute, Sally Salisbury. However, his ill-advised loyalty to Sally is tested when he’s hired to tutor a promising young half-English soprano, Tess Turnbridge, newly arrived under questionable circumstances from Naples and her Italian mother’s family. The remainder of the book is taken up with the intriguing antics of Tom, Tess, Sal, and a memorable parade of extended family members, quirky acquaintances, and opera folk. 

Ms Lennox is very adept at deeply immersing readers in the sensory details and social conventions of the 18th century—she plunges us in from the first pages and never lets us up for air. She has both an expansive and nuanced skill with period idiom, as well as a remarkable ability to convey the experience of a blind man in a time before accommodations for sightlessness—braille, service animals—making his way personally and professionally in a sighted world. Her attention to every detail of character and setting allows her to continually surprise the reader with twists in both the behavior and backstory of her parade of memorable personalities.

This is a must read for any lover of fiction, not only of English and/or 18th century tales. Tom Finch is a finely crafted and wonderful book for the general reader as much as the historical fiction devotee. I highly recommend this book.


Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Jeffrey Walker
 e-version reviewed





You will find several items of interest on the sidebar


Sunday, 24 May 2020

Guest Spot - Alison Morton



Persistence and determination

Ten years ago, I started thrusting books on the world. Broadcaster Sue Cook, a long-standing friend of Roma Nova, commented by my third book that she admired my persistence. Now there are nine. And persistence is the key to a successful writing career. So how did this work out?

Alison & Sue Cook

August 2009:
A really bad film sends me to my desk, and within 90 days, I have typed a story of 90,000 words. No clue what to do with the finished manuscript, but it’s bound to be snapped up and sold in every shop and airport.

2010-12: A humbling apprenticeship. I discover I know nothing about the book world or novel writing craft despite being a life-long avid reader. Although ‘high concept and well-written’ according to professional assessors, my story is covered in layers of wishy-washyness and undirected – certainly not ready for agents, publishers or unprotected readers.  I start a blog, though (https://alison-morton.com), as I knew from my business days that you need a wholly owned presence in cyberspace.

I join a writers’ circle, acquire a critique writing partner, go to conferences, read craft books, study on courses and in classes, and hone. And I mean hone. You have never seen such scalpel action on a writer’s work. I put it through professional assessments – tough and even tougher. At last, a reasonably publishing manuscript emerges.

My desk isn’t visible through the layers of multiple rejection letters saying, ‘intelligent and well-crafted, but we don’t know how to market it’. I despair. I know my work is of publishable standard; feedback from many quarters said the story was good to go.

During this ‘apprenticeship’, I make connections and come across self-publishing experts in person and virtually like Helen Hollick.

Alison, Anna Belfrage, Helen Hollick
2013: Structurally and copy-edited, proofed and put together beautifully by SilverWood Books, INCEPTIO hits the world. PERFIDITAS follows six months later (It’s fully drafted by the time INCEPTIO came out, so I’m not being super-productive!). Am taken aback by the amount of PR/marketing needed: blog tours, reviews, guest posts, competitions, talks, local radio, let alone feeding my own blog.

2014: SUCCESSIO comes out in June and I’m interviewed by no less a person than broadcaster Sue Cook (https://youtu.be/56IL5BPB1p8)!

I start to get onto the speaking ladder at conferences – small spots but exciting. But I realise my writing life has to change. It’s the fine choice indies have to make – writing or marketing. The answer is both.  Planning is key whether it’s speaking, attending, selling your books, requesting reviews, running your social media, writing guest posts, packing your exhibition box or considering next year’s events.

And you learn to write on planes and trains.


2015: AURELIA comes out – the first of a new trilogy – set the late 1960s. Originally, it was going to be a single sequel, but I have too much story, so another trilogy. That will be it. Or so I think. I go to the US and chair the indie panel at the Historical Novel Society conference with Helen, Anna Belfrage and Geri Clouston of IndieBRAG.

2016: The year the Ryanair crew recognise me when I came back home to France from my tenth gig in the UK. I realise I’m doing too much. Still, I’d chair the indie panel at the 2016 HNS Conference, launch my fifth book, INSURRECTIO (endorsed by Conn Iggulden!) at the London Book Fair and speak at an event with Kate Mosse!

2017: RETALIO comes out in April followed by CARINA, a novella, in November. I only achieve this by gluing myself into my chair and doing fewer events, although I had the pleasure of speaking in Dublin for the first time.

2018: Persuaded by the dynamic force known as Helen Hollick, I move several light years from my comfort zone and write a short story for 1066 Turned Upside Down alternative history collection. No problem with the alternative history side; this was the genre I write in – I give talks in it – but a short story? Um…  I write 90-100,000 word books. But somehow it works. This impels me to publish a short story collection of my own – ROMA NOVA EXTRA. Oh, and I represent the indie world on a panel at CrimeFest.

2019: The great change in Roma Nova: reorganisation and brand new covers! Each heroine will now have four books – three novels and a novella to their name – and the series will split into the Carina and Aurelia strands. If there’s one thing that’s constant in indie publishing, it’s change. NEXUS, the novella that completes the Aurelia strand, came out in September 2019.

Where next? Who knows, but that’s the unnerving, but always exciting roll of indie author life.

About the Roma Nova thrillers
Roma Nova is an imaginary country somewhere in South Central Europe. Developing along an alternative timeline from ours, it’s a survivor from the mess at the end of the Roman Empire, its people value strength, service and loyalty.
Women have always been prominent from the first day they buckled on armour and stood side by side with their men to defend their tiny country. They run the government, businesses and families. But men are in no way disadvantaged.
Two ‘strands’ centre round two tough but fallible heroines – Carina and Aurelia – both from the leading Mitela family. They are so similar in character, but their temperaments are different. Coffee is a must for both, but Aurelia likes a French brandy and Carina a chilled Castra Lucillan white wine. But both will scale Olympus and fight to their own death to defend Roma Nova from its enemies.
Alison’s Amazon page: http://Author.to/AlisonMortonAmazon
(All books also available on Apple, Kobo and Nook and also as paperbacks)

A bonus! You can download a free guide to the Roma Nova books or if you sign up to my mailing list, you also get two free short stories.





Who is Alison?
Alison Morton writes the award-winning Roma Nova thriller series – ‘intelligent adventure thrillers with heart.’ She blends her deep love of Roman history with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, adventure and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected an MA History.

All six full-length Roma Nova novels have been awarded the BRAG Medallion. SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices.  AURELIA was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. SUCCESSIO was selected as an Editor’s Choice in The Bookseller.

A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, Alison misspent decades clambering over Roman sites throughout Europe. Fascinated by the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain), at their creation by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation, she started wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women...

Now she continues to write thrillers, cultivates a Roman herb garden and drinks wine in France with her husband.

Where to find Alison on social media
Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova site: http://alison-morton.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alison_morton @alison_morton




Click HERE to find   Alison on Discovering Diamonds



If your novel/s have been reviewed by Discovering Diamonds
and you would like to participate in our 
 Guest Spot
click HERE for details