#BookReview By Lou – The Collector’s Daughter By Gill Paul @GillPaulAUTHOR @AvonBooks #HistoricalFiction #Egyptologists #Tutankhamun #5thEarlOfCanarvon #Fiction

The Collector’s Daughter
By Gill Paul

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Collector’s Daughter has a lot I didn’t expect and was better for it and oh so interesting as well as being a book I sailed through. I am absolutely delighted to finally have time from a busy period of time, to show you my review… Thanks to Avon Books for gifting this lovely book. Find more in the blurb and my review…

The Collector's Daughter

Blurb

From the internationally bestselling author comes a tale of long-buried secrets and a discovery that will change everything, perfect for fans of Dinah Jefferies and Lucinda Riley.

The Collector’s Daughter: A gripping and sweeping tale of unforgettable discoveries and unforgiveable secrets for 2021An unforgettable discovery
In 1922, Lady Evelyn Herbert’s dreams are realised when she is the first to set foot inside the lost tomb of Tutankhamun for over 3,000 years.
A cursed life
But the months after the discovery are marred by tragedy, when Eve’s father dies suddenly and her family is torn in two. Desperate to put the past behind her, Eve retreats into a private life with her new husband.
A deadly choice
But she is harbouring a dark secret about what really happened in Egypt. And when a young woman comes asking questions years later, the happiness Eve has finally found is threatened once more…

Review

The Collector’s Daughter takes readers to Egypt to follow in the footsteps of Lady Evelyn Herbert, as she takes the first steps into the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. It is absolutely fascinating to read about Eve and her discoveries and when she is older and how Dr. Ana Mansor takes up the mantle and how their path’s cross.

Luxor, 1919. Eve comes from a privileged family at Highclere. She is a daughter of Lord Carnarvon (George Herbert – 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who becomes an Egyptologist and funds the exploration of Tutankhamun’s tomb. 

Her mother has other plans. She wants Eve to get married and has to be a man of similar social standing. This isn’t Eve’s idea. For Eve there has to be more than this. She desires a man who will share a passion for travel and who will approve of her being an archeologist. It has been a passion of hers, after being inspired by her father, who encouraged her, to be part of digs. At 18 she arrives in Luxor, Valley of the Kings. There are some strange events as Tutenkhamun’s Tomb is discovered. 

London, 1972. Eve is in her early seventies and has had yet another stroke and is trying to regain her speech at a rehabilitation centre. The story of Egypt doesn’t stop here though. Dr. Ana Mansor is working on a research project and finding something odd about the archives with information about Tutankhamun’s tomb. Dr. Ana Mansor decides to visit Eve. It piques curiosity as to what this may be. It also gives a new energy and determination to Eve to improve her speech, but something feels odd. She has a secret that she is reluctant to reveal… It is so dark about what happened in Egypt…

This has depth and some of the characters are real, but are fictionalised. The book however piques interest to find out more about the exhibitions of Lord Canarvon. There’s a great plot, history, dark secrets to uncover; it’s an enthralling read. The research done with imagination is great and makes this better than I ever expected!

 

#BookReview By Lou Z-Rod – Chosen Wanderers – A Celtic Saga Of Warriors and Saints By Martin C. Haworth #MartinCHaworth @malcolmdownpub #HistoricalFiction #ScottishFiction #Fiction #ChristianFiction #Celts #Picts #Saga

Z-Rod – Chosen Wanderers
By Martin C. Haworth

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Z-Rod – The Chosen Wanderers is book 1 of a compelling epic saga series set in Scotland during the times of the Picts and Celts.
Find out more in the blurb and the rest of my thoughts in my review. Then discover even more in the links to the websites and Facebook page, where you can find out more about the book and other activities such as hillwalks and retreats and more…
Thanks to the author – Martin C. Haworth for gifting me the book, published by publishing company – Malcolm Down.

ZRod Chosen Wanderers cover

Blurb

Chosen Wanderers is the first book in the Z-Rod series: a gripping saga set in the upheavals of Pictish Scotland in the 6th century. At the initiation of two princes preparing one to rule the tribe, a mysterious power symbol, the Z-Rod, is tattooed on one, unleashing uncontrollable consequences.

Tribal power struggles are further intensified when two Irish saints arrive whose vibrant faith and daring spirit, preserving them through the Scottish wilds, demonstrates to capricious warlords and their powerful druids, an alternative worldview of reconciliation and hope.

Straddling these two worlds is a mysterious bard with prophetic abilities. His revelation has little relevance initially, but later becomes the lifeline to recover a seemingly lost destiny. What significance does the Z-Rod and ‘bearing fire to the north’ have on an exile, and how will anything be achieved amidst poverty and obscurity?

By turns epic and homely, spiritually searching and thoroughly adventurous, this story of great undoing and remaking propels us through multiple scenes and characters in a setting which is utterly convincing in its detail.

ZRod Chosen Wanderers dbl cover

Review

Z-Rod is set in Pictish Scotland in the 6th Century, as well as at the time of the Celts. The author describes Scotland (before it became Scotland as we know it today) in interesting detail in a short introduction. The fact it is set in Pictish times provides something different to historical fiction, the Picts (indigenous people north of the Forth-Clyde divide) and the Christians. The book moves at surprising pace. It sounds more heavy than it really is. It’s pretty succinct and the intrigue surrounding the Z-Rod itself adds to the compelling nature.

There are noblemen and lords within the book and the Z-rod tattooed on one, a symbol of power and authority. The story itself starts with the initiation and readers meet Taran, Oengus, Alpia and Talorgen, then later, Kessog. There’s an air of it being a great occassion with ritual and complexity, as, especially Taran discovers in the wilds of the Pictish north, where the south are a bit more tame and are also starting to dabble in Christianity.

There’s adventure into new lands by boat and faith of reaching destinations safely, there’s also the questioning of the different faiths that are presented within the Picts and the Christian stories as they learn a bit about each other, but not exactly accepting as there are percieved curses, which adds a bit of tension between the factions.

The book takes readers to different Lochs and the River Dee, where there is tribal action, raids and murder. Along the watery adventure, there is also a spot of romance and all isn’t as easy to attract a woman as it first seems… This adds to another dimension to the story and perhaps widens its appeal a bit further, but still with the depth of history by way of the people living in the 6th century, philosophical thought by way of a dream and theology by way of the religious aspects.

There appears to have been a lot of thorough research done right down to the detailing of the different names of places, lochs and the types of people that lived in this time, such as wise old women or witches. There’s a glossary at the back to translate the older words used within this otherwise fictional tale that is also about courage, attitudes, destinys, life.

There is also an excerpt of book 2 of Z-Rod to lure you into more of Taran’s life…

About The Author

Martin Haworth worked in community and church development with an Iron-age Filipino tribe, providing an in depth understanding of pagan belief practices. Under his own business, www.roamingscotland.com, he now helps others connect with Scotland’s landscapes and ancient history, and leads Celtic Christian retreats. This book has arisen from the fusion of these experiences and interests.

Social Media

Website: https://www.roamingscotland.com/blog   There is also a buy link within there that means 10% will go to support a relief project among the Mangyan tribes of the Philippines.  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Z-Rod-Trilogy-101184882165861

Publisher Website: https://www.malcolmdown.co.uk/

#BookReview by Lou of A Beautiful Spy By Rachel Hore @Rachelhore @simonschusterUK @rararesources #SpyFiction #CrimeFiction #HistoricalFiction

A Beautiful Spy
By Rachel Hore

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It gives me pleasure to announce that I am closing the blog tour for A Beautiful Spy By Rachel Hore. It shows the perilous and dark corners of the world in a mysterious and intense fashion. Thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing a print copy of the book and for Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to the blog tour. Find out more about the author and her book, as well as the rest of my thoughts in the review…

A Beautiful Spy

About the Author

Rachel Hore author photoRachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she taught publishing and creative writing at the University of East Anglia until deciding to become a full-time writer. She is the Sunday Times (London) bestselling author of ten novels, including The Love Child. She is married to the writer D.J. Taylor and they have three sons. 

Blurb

A Beautiful SpyMinnie Gray is an ordinary young woman. She is also a spy for the British government.

It all began in the summer of 1928…

Minnie is supposed to find a nice man, get married and have children. The problem is it doesn’t appeal to her at all. She is working as a secretary, but longs to make a difference.

Then, one day, she gets her chance. She is recruited by the British government as a spy. Under strict instructions not to tell anyone, not even her family, she moves to London and begins her mission – to infiltrate the Communist movement.

Review

Minnie Gray is the main protagonist, with the book predominantely sweeping through the 1930’s, but also hitting on more modern times every so often. In 1928, Minnie wants more for her life and she certainly isn’t into meeting the Chamberlains, even though they were increasingly making their mark in the House of Commons. Life moves swiftly on from that time and readers learn about Minnie and her upbringing. What she hadn’t initially realised was that her connections then were to change the course of her life. Through her connections, she certainly becomes far removed from being a dutiful and stay at home wife. She has the opportunity to be a government spy, with the remit to spy on Communist Russia and to delve deeper into UK supporters of the regime.

There’s a bit of glamour that’s in the backdrop of a deeper, darker world and has her eyes opened wide to what the propaganda really means and where meetings take place in places where no one would normally suspect anything untoward could possibly happen.

The book shows how dangerous some politics are, especially by those with no alliegence to a country. It also sets out how people are taken in by clever propaganda. There are comparison’s that can be made into the book that can be made today and not only just with Russia, but with anywhere that has a more nationalist party. Although the book is set in the past and is about the dark, dangerous, yet exciting world for a fictional protagonist, there are some lines here and there that can be linked to certain aspects of today’s world and also the world of so-called unlikely leaders being voted into power. The book doesn’t delve too much into the roads of Communism, as Communism, as readers will know, doesn’t start there, there are other books that demonstrate this, this shows more when Communism has already got its grip.

The book is a slow suspense, but none-the-less gripping, especially for those readers who find the life of a spy and keeping identities hidden, fascinating. This book is a bit different from some spy fiction in that it doesn’t totally glamourise it and can show what an anxiety inducing life it can be and how challenging it can be, and yet change a person a bit, as demonstrated in the tastes of books Minnie used to like, compared to her tastes since becoming a spy as her worldly view has changed. The book isn’t all blazing guns and gadgets either. There is however, intelligence and a life of characters that seems plausible, and there is the wrangling of Minnie and a glimmer of desire to be set free by MI5 to lead a life outside spying, but she has proven herself well and to be valuable and stays, but things get ever more dangerous…. until a point when, finally, readers will be able to breath again, as can the woman, who led a double life.

Time moves forwards to the 1940’s and Minnie’s life has changed again, as does the pace and tone, but some histories in life can’t totally be erased and nor can the residue, certain parts of life leave behind…

This is, overall, a fascinating and intense book that leaves you wondering what next for this “Beautiful Spy”, at each turn…

Social Media Links

Visit her at RachelHore.co.uk and connect with her on Twitter @RachelHore.

 

Lou Presents an #Extract of The Seamstress of Warsaw By Rebecca Mascull @zooloo2008 @rebeccamascull @SpellBoundBks #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour

Today I am kicking off the blog tour with an extract/excerpt of The Seamstress of Warsaw By Rebecca Mascull to whet your appetite and draw you in….
This is the latest book from the author who has also brought you – The Ironbridge Daughter and many more… You can find out more about her below…
Thanks to the publisher company lSpellbound Books for providing the extract/excerpt of the book.The Seamstress of Warsaw

Extract/Excerpt

WINTER 1920

He said to wear her best dress, the one with the poppies. Whatever could it be for? Perhaps they were going for lunch. That would be a miracle in the midst of these dark days, when he came home from his long walks with empty pockets and the scent of hard drink, without a word or even a smile. But she hoped for the miracle all the same. He waited by the door, shifting from foot to foot.

“Come on! Come on!” he laughed and took her hand. It was the first time he’d laughed in weeks.

They walked arm in arm down their street. Slowly, on dense snow. They turned one corner, crossed the road and stopped. There was a shop, in the window photographs of a baby, a young couple, a soldier.

“Darling, I‘ve decided to enlist.”

“No,” she said. “No!”

“I’m going away tomorrow.”

“Don’t leave me,” she said.

“Here. I want a photograph of you to take with me.”

He opened the shop door to an anteroom. The owner came through and she watched as they made arrangements. Her lover turned back to her and kissed her cheek, his touch like paper. She was led through to a small studio, shrouded in heavy curtains, a chair centrally placed. The photographer had a kindly face. He asked her to sit down. Her lover stood behind the camera, grinning.

“My Helena is a beauty, isn’t she? I want a close-up, just her face. Those eyes. One day, I will write a sonnet about them.”

She might be able to stop the tears coming, if she pressed her nails hard into her palms. Harder.

The photographer said, “A little smile, my dear?”

She was thinking of their room, how tiny it was, cluttered and dirty. How vast it would be tomorrow, when he had gone. His stories, his dreams, his plans for them: only now could she see them clearly for what they were. A handful of thistledown.

She heard them talking of the photograph, ready next week. She was to pick it up and pay. With what? Where would she find the money for milk, for bread?

At the door, he hugged her roughly.

“When the Russians are gone, I’ll come home to you. And one day, I will write an epic poem about it.”

They stepped out and stood a moment in the cold.

He said, “You must send the photograph on to me.”

He kissed her. Warm against the icy air. A taste of vodka.

“Where will you be?”

“I don’t know yet. As soon as I’m settled, I’ll write to you.”

They walked on through the snow. The east wind wailed through Warsaw.

About The Author

Rebecca Mascull Author PhotoRebecca Mascull is an author of historical novels. She also writes saga fiction under the pen-name of Mollie Walton.

Rebecca’s latest book under the Mascull name is coming on September 18th 2021, THE SEAMSTRESS OF WARSAW, the powerful tale of two people unknowingly connected to each other, caught up in the whirlwind of World War II, whose perilous journeys we follow from the Blitz to the Warsaw Ghetto and beyond, published by SpellBound.

Mollie Walton’s The Ironbridge Saga series is set in the dangerous world of the iron industry: THE DAUGHTERS OF IRONBRIDGE (2019). The second book in the trilogy is THE SECRETS OF IRONBRIDGE (2020), set in the brickyards of the 1850s. The third book is set in the coalmines and servants’ quarters of the 1870s: THE ORPHAN OF IRONBRIDGE (2021). All three are published by Bonnier Zaffre. Mollie’s next trilogy will be set in WW2 North Yorkshire and the first book of this saga will be out in March 2022, published by Welbeck.

Her first novel as Rebecca Mascull, THE VISITORS (2014) tells the story of Adeliza Golding, a deaf-blind child living on her father’s hop farm in Victorian Kent. Her second novel SONG OF THE SEA MAID (2015) is set in the C18th and concerns an orphan girl who becomes a scientist and makes a remarkable discovery. Her third novel, THE WILD AIR (2017) is about a shy Edwardian girl who learns to fly and becomes a celebrated aviatrix but the shadow of war is looming. All are published by Hodder & Stoughton.

She also completed the finishing chapters of her friend and fellow novelist Vanessa Lafaye’s final work, a novella called MISS MARLEY, a prequel to Dickens’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL. This novella is published by HarperCollins.

Rebecca has worked in education, has a Masters in Writing and lives by the sea in the east of England. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, based at the University of Lincoln.

Follow her at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaMascull/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beccamascull/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rebeccamascull

Buy on

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B099KWCPFS

Amazon UShttps://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B099KWCPFS

 

#BookReview by Lou of Frontline By Dr. Hilary Jones @DrHilaryJones @welbeckpublish #WorldWar1 #HistoricalFiction #SpanishFlu #Frontline #GeneralFiction

Frontline
By Dr. Hilary Jones

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Frontline takes those at war in the First World War and in the medical profession and creates an intensely emotional, knowledgeable book that expertly weaves fact and fiction together to create a tight-knit story, very apt for our times. From the cover to the end of the story, it is intensely poignant in many ways.
Discover more in the blurb and the rest of my review and where you can buy Frontline.
I thank Welbeck Books for gifting me a copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review.

Frontline cover

Blurb

The doctor hits the spot and deserves to be read’

JEFFREY ARCHER

A SWEEPING DRAMA SET ON THE BATTLEFIELDS OF EUROPE AS A GLOBAL INFLUENZA PANDEMIC LOOMS . . .

Frontline is the first book in a series charting the rise of a prominent British medical family in the twentieth century. From wars to a pandemic, the discovery of penicillin to the birth of the NHS, successive generations of the Burnett family are at the vanguard of life-saving developments in medicine.

Frontline is the story of an aristocrat’s daughter who joins the war effort as a nurse. In a field hospital in rural France she meets Will, a dockworker’s son serving as a stretcher-bearer. As rumours of an armistice begin to circulate, so too does a mysterious respiratory illness that soldiers are referring to as the ‘Spanish flu’.

Review

Frontline coverEvie is one of the characters who start off this book, which begins in 1910 and makes a shift to 1914. She has a baby and her story is sure to tug on many heartstrings, even the most hardened of hearts. It’s one of woe but also of courage of those around her.

Readers also follow Grace and other nurses as well as tells of how things were from a soldier, like Will’s story too and how they are linked and it becomes about them and their lives and needs to survive and what was happening in the world at the time, that they had to find ways of living in and doing their duties.

There’s a real rawness to one of the letters written, which gives further insight into what was going on and the fears that were there.

There’s the sense of life, distinct of the times and it feels like a lot of research went into this as well as passion for the subject matters. It may not be an easy read, but its authenticity and realism through fiction really shines through and develops into a great read. It takes readers to the heart of war, including The Somme, but also what it’s like to be home on leave, as Will is when he returns to Grace. There are also some lovely heartwarming moments too, that saves this book from being too bleak and in some instances, shows some humanity in the world too, especially when Christmas arrives.

Frontline is very apt for our times, as we try to survive Covid-19, this book also shows people trying to survive a pandemic too – Spanish Flu and the devastation to life between that and war. I think it could serve as something more thought-provoking about their own behaviours in present times.

The book is an intense but pertinent read. Dr. Hilary Jones has also left an “Author’s Note” at the back of the book that adds a little more about what is dubbed as “The Great War” and is poignant, as are the acknowledgements. I agree that there are some parallels that can be drawn from today between Spanish Flu times and Covid-19 times. It’s hard not to notice, if you know a bit about way back then too and thinking about it, even if you don’t, you’ll be able to find this by reading this book.

Clearly Dr. Hilary Jones is writing from what he knows from his medical background, but he’s intelligently combined this with war, of those fighting in it and of women who are not. There is a rich tapestry that runs through it and there is a sense that it’s a bit of a nod in a way to those who came before him and that sits very well with me, and I think it will with many other readers too.

Buy Links

Amazon                Waterstones

#BookReview by Lou Orphans of the Storm by Celia Imrie – rated 5 stars @CeliaImrie @BloomsburyBooks #HistoricalFiction #WomensFiction #GeneralFiction #OrphansOfTheStorm #Titanic

Orphans of the Storm
By Celia Imrie

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Orphans of the Storm is a refreshing and captivating historical read that show a different side to relationships in the 1900’s. This is gripping and so engaging, with a fascinating truth about the characters within the story at the end. This is a book I highly recommend!
Discover more in the blurb and then onto my full review.
*Thanks to Bloomsbury for gifting a copy of the book, in exchange of an honest review.

Orphans of the Storm cover

About the Author

Celia Imrie is an Olivier award-winning and Screen Actors Guild-nominated actress. She is known for her film roles in The Best Exotic Marigold HotelThe Second Best Exotic Marigold HotelCalendar Girls and Nanny McPhee. Celia Imrie has recently starred in the major films Bridget Jones’s BabyAbsolutely Fabulous: The MovieYear by the Sea and A Cure for Wellness. In 2016 she also appeared in FX’s new comedy series Better Things, and returned to the stage in King Lear at The Old Vic. 2017 so far has seen Celia Imrie appear in psychological horror A Cure For Wellness. Celia Imrie is the author of an autobiography, The Happy Hoofer, and two top ten Sunday Times bestselling novels, Not Quite Nice and Nice Work (If You Can Get It).

Website: http://www.celiaimrie.info   Twitter: @CeliaImrie

Blurb

‘Gripping … An epic adventure’ ROSIE GOODWIN

‘Smashing … I was hooked on page one and literally could not put it down. I loved all that she wrote about the true story behind this thrilling tale’ JOANNA LUMLEY

Orphans of the Storm coverNice, France, 1911: After three years of marriage, young seamstress Marcella Caretto has finally had enough. Her husband, Michael, an ambitious tailor, has become cruel and controlling and she determines to get a divorce.

But while awaiting the judges’ decision on the custody of their two small boys, Michael receives news that changes everything.

Meanwhile fun-loving New York socialite Margaret Hays is touring Europe with some friends. Restless, she resolves to head home aboard the most celebrated steamer in the world – RMS Titanic.

As the ship sets sail for America, carrying two infants bearing false names, the paths of Marcela, Michael and Margaret cross – and nothing will ever be the same again.

From the Sunday Times-bestselling author, Celia Imrie, Orphans of the Storm dives into the waters of the past to unearth a sweeping, epic tale of the sinking of the Titanic that radiates with humanity and hums with life.

Review

Orphans of the Storm whisks readers back in time to September 1911, Nice, France, where readers meet Marcella, who has children and is in the process of divorcing her husband. Celia Imrie really captures that sense of nerves as Marcella wonders if she should go through with it or not, even though she has already stepped foot into the solicitor’s office. Readers also see what happened in the lead up as time flips back to 1907.
It’s an interesting part of history with this slant of life, as not many women would have contemplated this at that time, but there were some that certainly did. It brings a bit of history that isn’t talked about much or shown very little at this time. It’s certainly attention grabbing and brings, perhaps, a fresher appeal, so even if it is isn’t a reader’s usual genre or time period for reading about, I think they’ll find something different in Orphan’s of the Storm.

Marcella works as a tailor and readers are treated to all sorts of fabrics, in words, but really she would rather be a singer. The romantic entanglement was one between Marcella and Michael, but all isn’t what it seems. It becomes one of controlling behaviours. Celia Imrie captures love and this darker side very well and shows how things start to turn in this relationship and the increasing jealousy of Michael. It’s written with disarming authenticity and readers can really be pulled in further by this.

There is also some humour to be found within the characters, which lifts it and brings something more jovial to the story.

The book also shows what was happening from Michael’s life from 1912 in Calais and the people he meets. It also shows his life in London. The attention to detail is inspired. Celia Imrie has a talent for creating an epic story that enthralls and holds you there in the world she creates. There’s the crowds of people at RMS Titanic and the atmosphere and the sense of the scale of the journey being embarked, that readers then join too.

There are twists and turns that ensue, involving Marcella, Michael and the children in reaction to what happened in previous years.
There is also the fact of being on the Titanic. Although everyone knows what happens, there is still drama injected from involving the family and of course the iceberg. Tension, action and emotions are written very well, in a believable manner. The book also takes readers beyond that fateful day of the Titanic and illustrates what happened next most excellently. Moving onwards from that is a bit about the characters you’ve just read about. This book is based on some real people. A great deal of research has clearly gone into this to create not only a compelling story, but one that goes onto say a bit more about the people behind the fictional story beforehand, which is as fascinating as fiction.

The Orphans of the Storm is even better than I thought it would be and the writing really is exquisite and captivating. This is a book I highly recommend.