Friday, 31 July 2020

Cover and Book of the Month - JULY

SCROLL DOWN FOR OUR
BOOK OF THE MONTH
Selection
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)

Cover of the Month
WINNER - JULY 

Cover by Design for Writers

Honourable Mentions

Design by Next Chapter
Read Our Review             


Design by JD Smith Design
Read Our Review

*

Cover of the Month
WINNER June 2020

Read our Review
Cover by The Cover Collection
www.thecovercollection.com

Honourable Mention

Read our Review
*
Cover of the Month
WINNER  MAY 2020

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

Honourable Mention

Cover of the Month
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)

*
Cover of the Month
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
*
Cover of the Month
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
*
Cover of the Month
WINNER JANUARY 2020


Designer Unknown
Read Our Review
Honourable Mentions
Cover design by Design for Writers
Read Our Review
39963616. sy475
Designed by Tara Mayberry
www.teaberrycreative.com
Read Our Review
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
BOOK of the MONTH
Selection
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'
* * * * * * * *
Book of the Month
 JULY 2020
runners up
I couldn't decide between these two novellas
so have chosen both of them


winner
thoroughly enjoyed this one!
Special Mention
I don't usually select non-fiction
but this one was a darn good read
and a 'must' for anyone researching this topic!


*
Book of the Month
June 2020
My chosen Runner-Up 
I very much enjoyed this one - and I would have made it my Book of the Month but it's a little awkward as I am most definitely biased... that's my house on the cover! Even so - a super read!

read our review
so my Book of the Month Winner
is, coincidentally, the same as our Cover of the Month!


read our review

Book of the Month
MAY 2020
just the one this month:

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

and 

Book of the Month
MARCH 2020
Runner-Up 
read our review here

WINNER

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

WINNER
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

Book of the Month
January 2020

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

Read our review
Read our review
WINNER

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

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

A Discovering Diamonds Review of Forged By Iron by Eric Schumacher



Amazon UK
Amazon US
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Amazon AU
Goodreads

Fictional Saga
10th Century
Sweden / Estonia
Bk 1 Olaf's Saga

I must say that as a Swede, it is quite a pleasure to immerse myself in Mr Schumacher’s vivid depictions of life in the Scandinavia of the 10th century. I have previously read and enjoyed his books featuring Haakon the Good and now Mr Schumacher has leapt forwards a couple of decades to introduce us to the very young Olaf Tryggveson, one of the more enigmatic characters in Norse history.


Forged By Iron follows Olaf and his sworn companion Torgil on the journey from childhood to manhood. It is not an easy journey: Olaf’s father is murdered and Torgil’s father, Torolv, masterminds a heads-over-heels escape to Sweden. From there, the plan is to travel to Novgorod, where Olaf has an uncle who can keep him safe. Unfortunately, things happen. 



Suddenly, Torgil is as fatherless as Olaf and the boys, Olaf’s mother Astrid and her very young maid, Turid, are sold as slaves in Estland (present day Estonia) There, Astrid is torn from her son. Where she goes one way, the boys and Turid end up in the same household. Turid’s gender leads to years of servitude as a concubine while Olaf and Torgil are destined to spend their endless days as thralls working bog-iron. Such hard work either breaks a man or makes him stronger than most, hence, I assume, the title. 



Forged By Iron is told in the point of view of Torgil who is some years older than Olaf. While he is oath-sworn to Olaf, Torgel doesn’t exactly like Olaf. Quite understandable, as Olaf is something of a spoiled brat who rarely considers the implications of his actions on others. Mr Schumacher paints a lovely and endearing portrait of Torgil, a boy who may not have the charisma of Olaf, but who is steadfast and courageous, even when he is scared silly. I was especially touched by the relationship between Torgil and Turid. Clumsy and awkward, Torgil doesn’t know what to say or do to make Turid overcome her abuse, but he is somehow still there for her—and she knows it. 



All in all, this was an engrossing read. Pace would perhaps have benefited from more abbreviated descriptions of the whole bog iron process but it is evident Mr Schumacher has done the research required to recreate the world of a distant past. Torgil, Torolv, Olaf, Turid and Astrid come alive as does their historical setting—which is why I forgive Mr Schumacher for that teensy weensy anachronistic potato. 



Warmly recommended for Viking fans and for all those who enjoy a well-wrought coming-of-age story.


Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Anna Belfrage

 e-version reviewed


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Monday, 27 July 2020

A Discovering Diamonds Review of The Saracen Storm by J.M. Nunez



Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon CA
Amazon AU
Goodreads

fictional drama
700 AD
Spain


It is always a pleasure to pick up a book set in an era that is rarely represented in historical fiction. In this case, Mr Nunez leads us back to the years around 700 A.D, Spain. At the time, Spain did not exist. The former Roman colony had been invaded by the Visigoths some centuries after the birth of Christ, but now the various Visigoth kingdoms are quaking under the advance of the Saracen conquerors. It is a confused time, a time when the Christians are pushed further and further north. It is a time brought to vivid life by Mr Nunez, his obvious extensive research resulting in a multi-layered depiction of the historical landscape.

Any Spanish schoolchild will have heard of the battle of Covadonga, as pivotal an event for the future Spain as the Norman invasion in 1066 is for England. At Covadonga, the hero of the day led his Christian countrymen to victory over the advancing Moors. At Covadonga, the determined Saracen expansion was brought to a brutal halt, thereby kicking off the Spanish Reconquista—a struggle to reconquer the former Christian Spain from the Moors that would not end until 1492, when the last Moorish Kingdom, Granada, fell to Fernando and Isabel.

The hero of Covadonga is a certain Pelayo, a man shrouded in mist. Mr Nunez has made Pelayo the hero of his narrative and does an excellent job in breathing life into the myth, the man, the legend. Born the bastard son of the Duke of Asturias, Pelayo overcomes the stigma of his birth, the hatred of his half-brother, the loss of the love of his life and emerges harder and sharper, a bit like a tempered blade of steel. But the young Pelayo is something of a wastrel, more interested in enjoying a good time with wine and wenches—likely an attitude he adopts to annoy not only his father but primarily his half-brother, Julian. But then, one day, Pelayo comes face to face with the destruction wreaked by the Moors on a village of his people. A new Pelayo is born that day, a man of action and brains, of integrity and honour who will rise to the occasion despite all those who do their best to see him tumble. Mr Nunez’ Pelayo is an engaging man, a character one roots for. 

At times, Mr Nunez’ erudition and love of the period results in something of an information overload. But this is easily forgiven given a narrative that so firmly takes the reader by the hand and expertly guides him or her through the complex historical landscape that is Spain of the 8th century. Warmly recommended! 


Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Anna Belfrage
 e-version reviewed



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Sunday, 26 July 2020

Guest Spot -Graham Brack



Graham Brack



Graham Brack lives with his wife Gillian in Northamptonshire and has two children and three young granddaughters. He trained and practised as a pharmacist and has also written about football, rugby and medical law. 

Graham has been writing for as long as he can remember, but now concentrates on crime fiction. Three times shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association's Debut Dagger prize (in 2011, 2014 and 2016) he never quite managed to win it.

His 2011 entry was published as Lying and Dying, the first of his Josef Slonský mysteries set in Prague. Five more books have followed. 


The 2014 offering is Death in Delft, a story set in the late 17th century in the Netherlands and featuring the reluctant detective Master Mercurius, a philosophy lecturer at the University of Leiden. When young girls disappear the Mayor of Delft sends to Leiden asking the Rector of the University to send the cleverest man he can spare to help unravel the mystery. Despite his feelings of inadequacy, Mercurius sets to work, learning something of ordinary people’s lives in the process.


In his second adventure, Untrue Till Death, Mercurius is summoned by William of Orange to investigate a treasonous plot against William’s rule. Not knowing whom he can trust, William needs an outsider to find the guilty men. This proves to be more dangerous than Mercurius is comfortable with, though it would not have to be especially hazardous for that to be true. 

Graham and Gillian are frequent visitors to the Low Countries where Graham researches the background to his stories whilst simultaneously assessing coffee shops and restaurants. As a result of these trips Graham is now able to bore audiences on a range of 17th century topics relating to the Netherlands.

Graham has (so far) written another two stories in the Mercurius series, taking the story from 1671 to 1680. You can read more about Graham and his work at www.grahambrackauthor.com and follow him on Twitter @grahambrack.


Click HERE (and scroll down to 'B') to find our  reviews of  Graham  Brack's books  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, 24 July 2020

The Promise by Amy Maroney

shortlisted for Book of the Month


Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon CA
Amazon AU
Goodreads

Fictional Saga /Novella
fifteenth century
Pyrenees

"It is 1483, and the Pyrenees mountains are a dangerous place for a woman. Especially if you're Elena de Arazas. Haunted by a childhood tragedy, mountain healer and midwife Elena navigates the world like a bird in flight. An unexpected romance shatters her solitary existence, giving her new hope. But when her dearest friend makes an audacious request, Elena faces an agonizing choice. Will she be drawn back into the web of violence s
he’s spent a lifetime trying to escape? The Promise: A Prequel Novella will transport you into the world of the Miramonde Series, which tells the dazzling story of a Renaissance-era female artist and the young scholar on her trail."

Amy Maroney is fast becoming one of my favourite historical fiction authors after reading The Girl from Oto and now her prequel, The Promise. She recreates the past faithfully on the page through gorgeous description. I feel that I’ve been transported to the Pyrenees in a bygone era. But her attention to detail doesn’t end with place and setting. Her characters are meticulously crafted: they breathe, they live, they jump off the page, and they play on the mind long after the last page is turned.

It was in fact my fascination with the character of Elena, the mysterious and independent mountain woman who helped raise Mira from The Girl from Oto, which made me eager to read her story in this prequel novella. I enjoyed every moment of it! I loved learning more about Elena and her past. She’s a wonderfully layered character—human, strong, and resilient. I loved revisiting characters from The Girl from Oto, and discovering new characters, in particular, Elena’s nomadic lover, Xabi, who has captured my imagination. 

As this is very much a prequel, the end links directly to the beginning of The Girl from Oto, so if you haven’t read the first book in the Miramonde series, be prepared to continue reading and to lose yourself beyond this novella.

Strong writing, nuanced characters and stunning description makes The Promise highly recommended.

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 


© Cryssa Bazos

 e-version reviewed







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