#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 – What’s Mine And Yours by Naima Coster @zafatista @eturns_112 @TrapezeBooks #FamilySaga #ContemporaryFiction

What’s Mine And Yours
By Naima Costner

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Powerfully absorbing, moving and full of family ties, love and loss,  in many ways and much more. This is a better book than I expected and is one I recommend to everyone. Discover more in the blurb and my review below.
With thanks to Ellen Turner at Trapeze Books for gifting me a copy to review.

About the Author

Naima Coster is the author of two novels. Her debut, Halsey Street, was a finalist for the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Fiction and recommended as a must-read by People, Essence, Well-Read Black Girl, The Skimm, and the Brooklyn Public Library among others. Naima’s forthcoming novel, What’s Mine and Yours, will be published in March 2021.

Naima’s stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Kweli, The Paris Review Daily, The Cut, The Sunday Times, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. In 2020, she received the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honor. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Whats Mine And Yours

Blurb

When a county initiative in the Piedmont of North Carolina forces the students at a mostly black public school on the east side to move across town to a nearly all-white high school on the west, the community rises in outrage. For two students, quiet and aloof Gee and headstrong Noelle, these divisions will extend far beyond their schooling. As their paths collide and overlap over the course of thirty years, their two seemingly disconnected families begin to form deeply knotted, messy ties that shape the trajectory of their lives.

On one side of the school integration debate is Jade, Gee’s steely, single, black mother, grieving for her murdered partner, and determined for her son to have the best chance at a better life. On the other, is Noelle’s enterprising mother, Lacey May, who refuses to see her half-Latina daughters as anything but white. The choices these mothers make will resound for years to come. And twenty years later, when Lacey’s daughters return home to visit her in hospital, they’re forced to confront the ways their parents’ decisions continue to affect the life they live and the people they love.

WHAT’S MINE AND YOURS is a sweeping, rich tapestry of familial bond and identity, and a sharp, poignant look at the ways race affects even the closest of relationships. With gorgeous prose, Naima Coster explores the unique organism that is every family: what breaks them apart and how they come back together.

Review

Whats Mine And YoursStarting from 1992 and spanning to 2020, this is an intergenerational fictional book with race and family in America at its heart. The families end up in North Carolina and a story that tells of family, loss, gun crime, romance, love, divorce, race and opportunity and lack of, ensues through the years that pass by with many characters. This isn’t just a book for Americans, this is a book for everyone in the world, no matter what race you are.
It would be identifiable to everyone.

It begins with Ray going to a bakery and what a delicious sounding bakery it is. He has fun plans for his son, Gee. This is quite a sad tale as everyone knows about the gun crime in the USA and this is what occurs. A family with their whole amazing plans that anyone on earth would want to be part of, broken because of a gun. The emotion is as heartbreaking as it gets, in the tenderness and the rawness of what it has done to this family, that is then forever haunted and left devastated.

There’s Lacey May and her family and she wants to get back into the workplace and finds it challenging and people show their attitudes that are at times negative, towards this by some employers who don’t realise she has had a good education. She has also got money problems and issues to deal with, with Robbie. She also her other daughter.

This is also a story of Noelle and Gee, growing up and trying to find their way in the world and discovering themselves as they age. It’s interesting to see Noelle’s attitude to the change in school system is very different to her mother’s and it being far removed from what one may expect, which is refreshing in the way some mother’s etc will recognise some of the attitude Lacey has in how she goes about doing certain things. The issues surrounding race is also not quite what one may assume either, when it comes to potential for romance.

It’s a book that delves right into the nucleus and the inner workings of families in a way that, whether they represent how your family is or not, will touch your heart and be relatable in one way or another, through the love and grief displayed as readers watch the families grow up through the years.

Buy Links

Amazon                       Waterstones                      Bookshop.org

 

#Review by Lou – The Post Office Girls by Poppy Cooper @Kirsten_Hesketh @hodderbooks #HistoricalFiction #WW1

The Post Office Girls
By Poppy Cooper

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Post Office Girls is full of characters you will want to get to know in a fascinating story that feels full of authenticity, with a Sunday period drama feel. Thanks to Hodder and Staughton for inviting me to review and for gifting the book.
Please follow through with the post to the blurb and my review.

Blurb

With the Great War raging, can they keep Britain going?

The Postoffice Girls cover1915. On Beth Healey’s eighteenth birthday, she hopes that she will be able to forget the ghastly war and celebrate. But that evening, her twin brother Ned announces that he has signed up to fight.

No longer able to stand working in her parents’ village shop while others are doing their bit, Beth applies to join the Army Post Office’s new Home Depot on the Regent’s Park, and is astounded to be accepted. She will be responsible for making sure that letters and parcels get through to the troops on the front line.

Beth is thrilled to be a crucial part of the war effort and soon makes friends with fellow post girls Milly and Nora, and meets the handsome James. But just as she begins to feel that her life has finally begun, everything starts falling apart, with devastating consequences for Beth and perhaps even the outcome of the war itself. Can Beth and her new friends keep it all together and find happiness at last?

The Post Office Girls is perfect for fans of Johanna Bell, Daisy Styles and Nancy Revell.

Review

The history that gave the inspiration behind this fictional story, which is the first in a brand new series, is truly fascinating. It’s worth reading the note by the author at the beginning of the book for this.

It’s Beth’s 18th birthday and its 1915 and has the formidable sounding Mrs McBride at the shop, where both of them work, on her case over butter. The scene with the tones of voices opens up magnificently.

It has the nostalgic air that you’d perhaps expect, but just manages not to be saccharine sweet. It does have a Sunday night, gentl-paced period drama feel about it, but doesn’t shy away from certain hard-hitting, home-truths about war here and there. It can be bit slow in places, but stay with it as a whole world opens up and it does become quite hard to put down.

The war is captured well, from those staying at home, in the rationing at the shop, a clever hint of people trying to, not quite bulk buy, but certainly buy a bit more than they need and not thinking of others and leaving enough of even flour to go around and the emotion of Beth from this, it’s like a subtle thought to people today, which I approve of; and Florence who had stepped out with Ralph, a footman from Maitland Hall who went out to fight and the worry about hearing from him and the excitement of letters when she does. It has a feel of authenticity and the scenes are picture perfect in Woodhampstead.

Beth later, travels to London as recruitment in Regent’s Park, where a mailing depot is set- up for army post, and encounters Sergeant Major Cunningham. The reactions of an 18 year old is captured well to the  Major, who had a very different life, as a postal worker before and all is new to Beth, who was a shopworker, now to work in the Home Depot, sorting through the mail coming in from soldiers.
You can feel her coil up a little and then ping into anger as she attempts to stand-up for herself. The empathy of soldiers at war and the letters that show signs of where they are and perhaps been whilst writing, further hits home to her. The details from an envelope and codes add interest and the interesting markings as each new chapter starts is too as are the letters between her brother Ned and her. She does however come across a gentler mannered man – Mr Blackford. Her achievement of getting an interview for the post hasn’t got the reaction she would have liked from her parents, different from today’s times, but very true of the times of the setting. 

There are a few twists that grab you further in, here and there and no more so than near the end, within the characters lives you will want to continue to get to know.

Readers of the book would do well to read the acknowledgements. It gives a fascinating insight into the research that was done for the book and some real-life photos of the women working in the Home-Depot.

#Review Wartime With The Cornish Girls by Betty Walker @AvonBooksUK #BookReview #FamilySaga #WartimeSaga

Wartime With The Cornish Girls
By Betty Walker

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Tense and atmospheric, with sinister moments of unease, this deals with the hardships of motherhood and a burgeoning romance that may be the start of a new life for Hazel, away from her home situation as she takes on a top secret job. It uplifting as well as being an all encompassing, excellent read. Find out more in the blurb and full review and where you can buy it.

I thank Avon Books for gifting me the book.

Blurb

Wartime With The Cornish Girls1941. The Blitz rages over London.
And even in Cornwall, the war is being fought…

When Violet loses her sister in the Blitz, she must take her nieces to safety in Cornwall. On the coast, she meets carefree chorus girl Eva, who is also running from the dangers of London.

But Porthcurno hides a secret military base, and soon Violet and Eva realise there’s a battle to fight in Cornwall, too.

Together with local Hazel, who works on the base, they must come together to help the war effort. But will their friendship be enough to keep them safe?

Wartime With The Cornish Girls

Review

Set in Dagenham, East London, readers first meet Violet and it has a sinister start with Violet, a cafe worker, being followed. It immediately sets an unease, with the way it is written. There is also Fred, who is vying for her attention. There is some dialect such as “meself”, which really places her. It’s not strong and is easy to figure out.

Betsy had married Ernst and it caused quite a stir and now feelings are bubbling to the surface again as he is a German. The story centres a good mix of characters from across the UK and an American.

The plot does move to Cornwall, somewhere near Porthcurno in the south, where there is a hidden army base. It is also where a stubborn teenage boy, Charlie lives there with his parents, Hazel and Bertie, who are married out of convenience. It also demonstrates how unhappy some of those marriages were. It doesn’t shy away from the hardships of motherhood and the challenges some people faced, shown through the eyes of Hazel. Charlie, being a teen also goes to show that even as the decades pass in real life, some things never change or evolve and parents and teachers will certainly be able to relate to his mannerisms and attitude.

The changing scenery when the war began is quite a feature as does the change in life and the meaning of signing an official secrets act as Hazel takes on a top secret job. There is a sense of urgency and upmost responsibility and beyond that spikes through the pages with these top secret job involving codes and so much more and the threat of what could happen if anyone divulges the secrets. It gives a harsh reality.

It’ll take readers on an interesting, windy path with a tense, serious atmosphere of duty and family as the war closes in and the realities emerge and are pretty hard-hitting, cut by the friendship of the women that smudges through, bringing a bit of light relief and a sense them being in it together.
It certainly isn’t a cosy book, but one of a believable plotline that doesn’t sugar-coat anything, and instead, shows anguish and the sacrifices people made, including in their daily lives and how they had a certain resilience and also got on with the job. There is also a touch of romance in the air as well as a bit of desperation for a different life, away from domestic violence, portrayed in Hazel, but also a panic that is captured so well, in what the consequences of the betrayal of her husband and what her son will say and do, which adds to the intensity that grows throughout.

The second book will be coming soon – Christmas With The Cornish Girls.

Wartime With The Cornish Girls

Purchase Links

Waterstones

Bookshop.org 

Amazon

#Spotlight by Lou on #HistoricalFiction Book – A Sparrow Alone by Mim Eichmann @EichmannMim #TheWriteReads #BlogTour

Spotlight On – A Sparrow Alone
By Mim Eichmann

Today I am pleased to present a spotlight post highlighting the latest book by Mim Eichmann – A Sparrow Alone, which is a Historical Fiction book with many themes. Follow futher down to discover the elegant cover and the blurb. Find out more about the author and her website below too. Thank you to The Write Reads for inviting me to the blog tour to do this.

A Sparrow Alone by Mim Eichmann | Review

Blurb

A Sparrow Alone1890’s Colorado. Desperate following her mother’s sudden death, thirteen-year-old Hannah Owens apprentices as domestic help with a wealthy doctor’s family in Colorado Springs. When the doctor declares bankruptcy and abandons his family to finance his mistress Pearl DeVere’s brothel, however, Hannah is thrown into a vortex of gold mining bonanzas and busts, rampant prostitution, and the economic, political and cultural upheavals of the era. Two of Cripple Creek’s most colorful historic characters, Winfield Scott Stratton, eccentric owner of the richest gold mine in Cripple Creek, and Pearl DeVere, the beautiful madam of The Old Homestead, come to life as this old-fashioned, coming-of-age saga unfolds, the first of two historical fiction novels by debut author Mim Eichmann — a tribute to the women who set the stage for women’s rights.

About the Author

A Sparrow Alone Author picwww.MimEichmann.com 
Mim Eichmann has found that her creative journey has taken her down many exciting, interwoven pathways.  For well over two decades she was known primarily in the Chicago area as the artistic director and choreographer of Midwest Ballet Theatre and director of its home, Midwest Ballet Academy, bringing full-length professional ballet performances to thousands of dance lovers every year and was the recipient of many arts’ programming grants.   A desire to become involved again in the folk music world brought about the creation of her acoustic quartet Trillium, now in its 15th year, a folk band well known for its eclectic repertoire performing throughout the Midwest that has also released four cds.  She’s also written the lyrics and music for two award-winning original children’s cds, “Why Do Ducks Have Webby Toes?” and “Wander Down Beyond the Rainbow” and occasionally schedules concerts of her children’s music and movement programs.

Always captivated by the writings, diaries and journals of late 19th century women, as well as that era’s economic, social and political upheavals, Ms. Eichmann has now put pen to paper and the historical fiction novel she has been passionately researching, its rich synopsis gradually evolving over many years, has finally become a reality.  We hope you’ll enjoy “A Sparrow Alone” and its sequel, “Muskrat Ramble.”

The Unravelling of Maria @fjcurlew #blogtour #saga

The Unravelling of Maria
By
Rated: 4 Stars ****

About the Author

Fiona Author profile picFiona worked as an international school teacher for fifteen years, predominantly in Eastern Europe. Seven of those years were spent in Estonia – a little country she fell in love with. She now lives in East Lothian, Scotland, where her days are spent walking her dog, Brockie the Springer, and writing.

The Unravelling Of Maria is her fourth novel.

Created with GIMP

Blurb

Lovers separated by the Iron Curtain.

Two women whose paths should never have crossed.

A remarkable journey that changes all of their lives.

Maria’s history is a lie. Washed up on the shores of Sweden in 1944, with no memory, she was forced to create her own. Nearly half a century later she still has no idea of her true identity.

Jaak fights for Estonia’s independence, refusing to accept the death of his fiancée Maarja, whose ship was sunk as she fled across the Baltic Sea to escape the Soviet invasion.

Angie knows exactly who she is. A drug addict. A waste of space. Life is just about getting by.

A chance meeting in Edinburgh’s Cancer Centre is the catalyst for something very different.

Sometimes all you need is someone who listens.

Review

The Unravelling of Maria is like a love letter in some ways to Estonia, but is more complex than this. It is set over different time periods and with multiple perspectives, so some concentration is a must. In saying that, it is elegantly written and holds interest. It is immersive as she touches on conflict and also some of the more salubrious sides of Edinburgh, away from the glam of the city within this saga of almost epic proportions.

The book delves in to the history of Estonia, which is fascinating and makes this book feel rather original in many ways. It isn’t overly heavy as there are so many universal themes throughout as well of humanity and identiy. Maria, Angie and Jaak are terrific characters who show bravery and show that sometimes people just need to be given a chance in life. The tension throughout is however immense at times with a huge intensity, but in someways this keeps that feeling of it having a hold on you, going. The descriptions are quite panoramic in quality, which really suits this style of book.

There is a humanity that appears through the book and it feels like it has been researched well and a great deal of care over it has been taken to take people through quite a journey through time and countries in a way that isn’t sensationalised, in the way that some pretty hard times and challenges that have to be faced are revealed.

Social Media/Website Links

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