A Lover of Books

Archive for the tag “historical fiction”

‘The Wild Air’ by Rebecca Mascull

Earlier this month, Rebecca Mascull had a book launch for her new book, ‘The Wild Air’ which was published on the 4th May 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton. The event took place at Waterstones Piccadilly, London, which as I’m sure many of you will know is absolutely huge. Rebecca ran a competition on social media giving people the chance to win an invitation to her book launch. I adored her last book, ‘Song of the Sea Maid’ and had high hopes for ‘The Wild Air’ too so I entered. I was delighted when Rebecca chose me as one of the winners.

The book launch went really well. Lots of people turned up and Rebecca’s lovely mum did labels for everyone which I thought was really sweet. Rebecca is as nice as I imagined her to be and her daughter is adorable and must have been so proud of her mum. There were drinks, canapes and cakes aplenty.

Louisa Treger hosted the event and asked Rebecca several questions about ‘The Wild Air’. Rebecca then told us how she went up in a plane as part of her research and introduced us to Rob Millinship the pilot who was of great assistance to her whilst she was writing the book.

It really was a great evening and it was a privilege to be there.

Thanks Rebecca. xx

 

My Review

I was delighted when I found out that Rebecca Mascull had a new book coming out and was very kindly sent a proof copy of ‘The Wild Air’ to review.

It’s 1909 in Edwardian England. Aeroplanes are a new and magical invention and female pilots are almost unheard of.

When shy Della Dobbs meets her mother’s aunt little does she realise that her life is about to change forever. Great Auntie Betty has returned home from living in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, across whose windswept dunes the Wright Brothers tested their historic flying machines. Della spends hours listening to Auntie Betty’s tales and finds that she is fascinated and wants to learn more. She decides that she wants to learn how to fly and Betty is determined to help her as much as she can. But the Great War is coming and it threatens to destroy everything and everyone in Della’s path.

Wow! I loved everything about ‘The Wild Air’ including the cover. Rebecca Mascull writes historical fiction and she does it very well indeed. I really took my time with this book as I wanted to savour it from start to finish. So much was packed into each and every chapter. I came away feeling as if I had learnt loads. The descriptions throughout were truly wonderful. I could almost see Della flying the aeroplanes.

Rebecca always has a lead female character in her books, each of them a heroine in their own right. I warmed to Della straightaway. She was a very determined young lady and I just knew that she would follow her heart and do what was right for her. In those days women pilots were frowned upon. Della ran into a few difficulties whilst flying and could easily have given up her dream, but she tended to brush things off and carry on regardless. When the Great War started it of course had a huge impact on Della and her family, but out of it actually came quite a lot of good too.

I adored Auntie Betty and wouldn’t have minded sitting and listening to her tales myself. It seems she came along at just the right time. Who knows where Della would be otherwise.

At the end of the book Rebecca has written a very interesting and detailed Author’s Note. If you read ‘The Wild Air’ do remember not to miss this section out as it gives you a lot of insight into the research undertaken and what it involved.

‘The Wild Air’ is a truly remarkable story and is a must read for fans of historical fiction. I will treasure my signed hardback copy.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

About Rebecca Mascull

Rebecca Mascull is the author of THE VISITORS and SONG OF THE SEA MAID. She has previously worked in education, has a Masters in Writing and lives by the sea in the east of England. Visit her website rebeccamascull.tumblr.com.

 

‘The Wild Air’ is available to buy from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wild-Air-Rebecca-Mascull/dp/1473604435/ref=sr_1_1_twi_har_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496259354&sr=1-1&keywords=the+wild+air

 

Guest Post by Andrew Smith

I’m delighted to welcome Andrew Smith back to my blog for this event.  Last year his book, ‘The Speech’ was published and it has been doing well.  Andrew has written a guest post.

 

WRITING POLITICAL HISTORICAL FICTION IN THE AGE OF ‘POST-TRUTH’

You’d think that when M.P. Harold Wilson, who was destined to become Prime Minister, patted me on my six-year-old head, he may have endowed me with an instant interest in politics. But the truth is I was a disappointment to my parents, staunch Labour supporters at the time, who’d placed me in front of Wilson at a Labour Party event. As I grew older it was painfully obvious to everybody that I had no interest whatsoever in political debate. Later, as I watched my fellow art students campaign and demonstrate, I couldn’t understand the point of making such a fuss. I was a spoilt recipient of the considerable benefits of a post-war welfare state. What reason was there for me to protest? It wasn’t until the draconian days of Margaret Thatcher, when the country became more polarised than ever, that my interest was aroused. And then it was less about policies and more about individuals. Thatcher in particular fascinated me. I wondered about a person who could inflict obvious harm on so many — miners and their families in particular, but others too — with absolutely no apparent regret, or any attempt to compensate. As politicians came and went, it was their personalities that interested me, more than any particular policy or platform.

In 2012 I found myself looking around for a subject for a second novel. My first had had an actual event at its centre — the internment of Italian men living in Britain during World War II. I’d enjoyed writing imaginary characters whose lives were immeasurably altered by that dark episode in Britain’s history. I was hoping for a similar phenomena around which to build a story worthy of a full-length novel. Then, one day, listening to a particularly bigoted and racist speech by a UKIP member — perhaps Nigel Farage — the name Enoch Powell popped into my head. I remembered the brouhaha Powell had caused when he gave his so-called Rivers of Blood speech back in 1968, when I was a student. I felt the excitement every writer wishes for when a light bulb turns on in one’s head. The late 1960s was certainly a defining time, and one with which I was familiar. And if I’ve had any small-p political zeal at all, it’s been in defence of the victimization of the less fortunate, hence my interest in the cruel internment of innocent British Italians in my first novel — the objects of UKIP’s and Powell’s racist rhetoric also had my heartfelt sympathy. The elements were all present for a project tailor-made for me.

I spent the following months researching everything I could find that concerned Enoch Powell. I poured over two comprehensive biographies, numerous newspaper and magazine articles, TV and radio interviews, documentaries, several books and academic papers on the Rivers of Blood speech, Powell’s own papers stored in Churchill College, Cambridge, and various other ephemera about him and his family. And, perhaps most valuable of all, I talked to the few surviving people who’d actually known Powell.

I remember distinctly a moment during my research when the thought occurred to me that, whatever I eventually wrote, I had a duty to do Enoch Powell justice — flawed and prejudiced as he obviously was. My resolve to portray him in an unbiased and accurate manner may have come when I began to have intimations of the complexity of his character. When, for example, I learnt that he’d voted to decriminalise homosexuality. Or when he voted to abolish capital punishment. Or maybe it was simply when I learnt from various sources, his own writing included, what a solitary and pressured childhood he’d had. The sense of journalistic fairness I experienced may well derive from my time working for a newsmagazine for which I was art director. I well remember the endless debates at editorial meetings about what could and couldn’t be reported. There were huge efforts to ensure that whatever was published was true, fair, and as unbiased as possible. The exact opposite, it seems, to the policies of some publications today, in the age of so-called ‘post-truth.’ But most of all, I realised that it was vital to make Enoch Powell — as one ought to do for any character in a novel — as fully-formed, rounded, and complete as possible.

I believe this to be true of all aspects in any historical fiction, particularly political historical fiction. And what historical fiction is not, in some shape or form, political? Successful historical fiction takes a vast amount of research coupled with a burning desire to accurately portray whatever era and individuals appear. I certainly strived to do this in The Speech — for the 1960s, for the imaginary characters who represent the population of the time, and for Enoch Powell.

 

Links

‘The Speech’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-speech/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Speech-gripping-historical-thriller/dp/1911129511/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489314980&sr=1-1

Twitter – @andrewaxiom

 

Extract from ‘Spanish Crossings’ by John Simmons

Following on from my interview with John Simmons, I now have an exclusive extract from his book, ‘Spanish Crossings’.

 

Book Blurb

Spanish Crossings is an epic tale of love, politics and conflict, with the yearning but elusive possibility of redemption. A woman’s life has been cast in shadow by her connection to the Spanish Civil War. We meet Lorna in 1937 as she falls in love with Harry, a member of the International Brigade who had been at Guernica when it was bombed. Harry is then killed in the fighting and Lorna fears she might have lost her best chance of happiness. Can she fill the void created by Harry’s death by helping the child refugees of the conflict?

She finds a particular connection to one boy, Pepe, and as he grows up below the radar of the authorities in England their lives become increasingly intertwined. But can Lorna rely on Pepe as he remains deeply pulled towards the homeland and family that have been placed beyond his reach? Coming through the war, then the post-war rebuilding, Lorna and Pepe’s relationship will be tested by their tragic and emotive history.

 

Extract

Extract from ‘Spanish Crossings’

 

Interview with John Simmons

I’m delighted to welcome John Simmons back to my blog.  His  new book, ‘Spanish Crossings’ will be out next month.  I asked John some questions.

 

Your new book sounds wonderful. Can you tell me a bit about ‘Spanish Crossings’ please.

It’s my second novel – ‘Leaves’ was my first. Some readers remarked about ‘Leaves’ that it was a historical novel – set in 1970 – and that surprised me. But I think it gave me the courage to attempt something more genuinely historical, so ‘Spanish Crossings’ is set before, during and after the Second World War. Its main background is the Spanish Civil War and the true but little-known story of the 4000 Basque children who were refugees from that conflict in 1937. History always has a contemporary relevance.

But it’s not a history book, it’s a story. And as a story there is a main character, Lorna, who is a young woman in the 1930s engaged in the politics of that time. The novel is her story and it’s about conflict and love against that historical background. I hope – and early readers confirm – that it’s a gripping story with a somewhat chequered but intriguing relationship at its heart.

 

Where did you get the idea for this book?

I had gone to Spain to run a Dark Angels writing course. I dreamt the line “Mother declared herself happy” – the first time such a thing has happened to me. I liked the line and continued writing that day in Seville. Going from café to café, bench to bench, it grew into a story that is now the novel’s Prologue and it created the main character and theme. It showed that I had been thinking about some family history.

My daughter Jessie – named after my mother – is the family researcher. She’s always been interested in family stories, perhaps particularly about my mother and father whom she never met (they died while I was relatively young). We had photographs of my mum with refugee children during the Spanish Civil War, and of a Spanish boy my mum and dad had ‘adopted’ at the time. I only knew his name was Jesús and that he had returned to Bilbao in 1938.

Jessie gave me a book called ‘Only for three months’ (by Adrian Bell) that told the story of the Spanish children who had come over on a boat called the Habana in 1937, soon after the bombing of Guernica by German airplanes. Guernica became famous for its brutality and for Picasso’s response in one of his most famous paintings. So the combination of family and world history developed the idea for the book, and once I started working on it, it took hold of me.

 

Did you have to do research and what did it entail?

It started with the reading of that book ‘Only for three months’, and a number of plotlines came from that. I read a lot around the subject and the period. I also found the art and photographs of the time helped me really enter the period. One photographer – Wolfgang Suschitsky, himself a 1930s refugee from fascism – was particularly inspirational (one of his photographs is on the front cover).

The other vital research was to do with place. There are three main settings: London, Guernica and the French border town of Hendaye. I grew up in central London so the London settings came naturally, but it was still fascinating to walk the streets featured and imagine them in an earlier period. I visited Bilbao and Guernica in northern Spain and that helped me get a proper feel, though obviously they are much changed. Visiting Hendaye was probably the most directly inspirational because it has a particular geography that plays an important part in the story. I could look across the estuary towards Spain, just a couple of miles away, and write on the spot.

 

How long did it take you to write?

I wrote what is now the Prologue on that Dark Angels course in September 2014. And finished writing the novel in April 2016. So two years with further editing time.

 

What is your usual writing routine?

My routine is not to have a routine. I’m not one of these writers who starts at 6, say, and works through to lunchtime every day – then plays tennis in the afternoon. My life is not like that because I work as a writer and consultant in the world of business and brands. My paid work in those areas subsidises my personal, fictional work. So I fit my own writing in when and where I can.

Actually my one really established writing habit is to always spend Friday evenings locked away – nowadays in my converted loft at home – and write as late as the spirit moves me. It used to be till the early hours – nowadays I stop before midnight.

 

I think it would be wonderful if some of the characters from your book came alive. What would be your reaction if that happened?

It has happened. These characters are real for me. I also have the strange experience with this novel of my family history. My mum and dad are definitely not characters in the novel but I found myself writing scenes where they might have been present. It might sound spooky or sentimental – but it was an important aspect of the writing experience with this book.

 

What are you planning to write next?

When I finished ‘Spanish Crossings’ I felt bereft – the story and characters I’d lived with had moved out of my head. So I needed to fill it with another story and new characters. I almost forced that to happen one Friday night, writing a series of short pieces set during the First World War. That gave me a range of characters and the characters suggested stories that could be linked.

What has emerged is a novel in progress called ‘The Good Messenger’. It’s set before and after the First World War; the first part has a nine-year-old boy as its central character, the final part shows him grown up in the 1920s and reconnecting with some of the characters from the pre-war period. I’m probably two-thirds (about 60.000 words) through the first draft.

 

You’ve had an interesting career by the looks of it. Can you tell me a bit about your Dark Angels workshops?

I was a director of Interbrand until 2003 (‘the world’s leading brand agency’). I insisted that language – the way companies communicate through words – needed to be part of branding. So I established a discipline to focus on that, and started writing books about ‘how to write more powerfully for brands’. One of those books was called ‘Dark Angels’, and this also became a training programme in ‘creative writing for business’. Three books make up the Dark Angels Trilogy and these have now been published in new editions by Urbane.

I’ve been running these Dark Angels courses for more than a dozen years now, for most of that time with two Scottish writers (Stuart Delves and Jamie Jauncey) and now with a wider group of associates, including writer/trainers in the USA, Ireland and the Antipodes. We go to remote and beautiful places – the Scottish highlands, Andalucian national park, coast of Cornwall, rural Ireland – and work with writers intensively on creative exercises. It’s great fun. People who ‘graduate’ tell me that it’s a life-transforming experience. www.dark-angels.org.uk

 

What are your thoughts on social media?

It’s the world we live in now. When the most powerful man in the world seems addicted to Twitter, you can’t ignore its influence. So I’m regularly on Twitter @JNSim, less regularly on Facebook, and I enjoy Instagram because I love photography and make no claims for any ability in that area.

More recently I’ve discovered more of the background to my Spanish story and the events of that time via Twitter. I was followed by a number of Spanish/Basque people and they have been enormously helpful in uncovering previously unknown aspects of that history. Including some of what happened to Jesùs Iguaran Aramburu after he returned to Spain.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’ve always loved theatre and football. I’ve been lucky to combine these passions with my writing work. With my son Matt I wrote a book about our team, the Arsenal, and I’ve worked on the brands of a number of theatrical institutions such as the National Theatre, the Globe and the Old Vic.

 

What do you prefer – hardbacks or paperbacks?

I’ve always loved the book as a physical object, the look, feel and smell of a new book. The hardback has more of that tactile, sensuous appeal but I probably prefer to read paperbacks simply because I read while travelling, and a paperback is so easy to carry around and read on the tube, train etc. But I do believe all books are beautiful, collectible objects – I had to create my loft largely because I’d run out of shelf space for all the books. Books do furnish a room.

 

Describe your life in three words

Observing, listening, writing.

 

Links

26 Fruits Website – www.26fruits.co.uk/blog

Dark Angels Website – www.dark-angels.org.uk

Co-founder of www.26.org.uk

Twitter – @JNSim

Interview with Justin Sheedy

author-picture

I would like to introduce you all to Justin Sheedy.  For a while now my husband has been following him on social media and has expressed an interest in reading his books and I must admit that I am rather tempted by them too.  I wanted to interview Justin and was really pleased when he agreed to one.

 

Firstly, can you tell me a bit about the types of books you write please?

I write in two distinct styles: Firstly my make-you-laugh-and-cry portraits of childhood, teenage & growing up in 1970s & 80s Australia, “Goodbye Crackernight” & “Memoirs of a Go-Go Dancer”. (Yes, my first job out of school.) These two books have been warmly received by readers as they’re not just My story but OUR story, a mirror to US.

goodbye-crackernight

memoirs-of-a-go-go-dancer-by-justin-sheedy

Secondly, my more serious World War Two historical fictions, “Nor the Years Condemn”, “Ghosts of the Empire”, and my just-published “No Greater Love”. Bringing to life the stunning true saga of Australian, British and Commonwealth pilots and aircrew in World War Two, though hyper-accurate to the true history, I’ve written them as historical fictions so as to engage readers with the shining young characters who made the true history, the loss of such shining young characters rendering my stories the true anti-war portraits I intended them to be.

nor-the-years-condemn

ghosts-of-the-empire

no-greater-love-by-justin-sheedy

 

What made you decide to write about World War Two?

Well, imagine your grandfather, when he was 21, was a real-life young superman loved & respected by all around him. Then he volunteered to fight against the worst evil imaginable, crossed the earth to do it, fought against it in the most exciting way possible and WON, only to end up an old man surrounded by the forever 21-year-old ghosts of all his friends. And it’s all true. How could one NOT want to write a story about that?

 

Did you have to do much research?

A massive amount. Reading, documentaries, online research, emailing museums & local councils particularly in the UK as that’s where my war stories are chiefly set. And people can be so enthusiastically helpful. Just for example, for “Nor the Years Condemn”, book 1 in my trilogy, the local council of Callander in Scotland emailed me mile-by-mile maps of the area between Loch Leven and Loch Lubnaig so my Australian pilot’s first (training) flight in a Spitfire would be as accurate as possible, tearing around the summit of Ben Ledi then super low up Loch Lubnaig though the forest of Strathyre. Their final note, “The RAF jets do it to this day!” was just one of those wonderful conincidences. I also interviewed about 5 Australian WWII veterans, pilots & aircrew who at 90+ looked 70+ as they were basically Olympian/Formula 1 calibre young men back in the day. And so modest! One flew a Kittyhawk fighter and apologised to me that he had not been in an actual dog-fight, only in ground attack. I almost fell off my chair.

 

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Well, one gets more efficient with each book one writes but my most recent, “No Greater Love”, a 360+ page novel, took me a year and a half.

 

What are you working on now?

A novella entitled “Other People’s Wars” which will be a free ebook as a promotional tool for my war trilogy. For release at the end of this year, it will feature starring characters and key themes from my trilogy. Importantly though, each book in the trilogy stands on its own, written to be read in any order; parallel adventures in the same mighty saga.

 

Do you have a favourite place where you go to write?

I’m ALWAYS writing in my head. Can’t help it. No matter where I am.

 

Would you like to see any of your books made into a film and if so, which actors/actresses would you like to play the parts?

It’s my dream & holy grail. If I had a dime for every time people have vowed my books should be movies, I’d be rich.  And the question of which actors/actresses might play the parts has long fascinated me. The tricky thing is that, if cast accurately re age, they’d all have to be 21 as that was the average age of fighter pilots in World War II. (The ‘old man’ of the squadron was 25!) It’s key to my war stories: they’re heroic, tragic portraits of shining Youth. Though I assume in this cinema day & age they’d have “star” 30-somethings playing the roles not 21-year-old newcomers. For my latest book, “No Greater Love”, for its main character, Spitfire pilot rough-diamond Aussie Colin Stone (“Stoney”), when writing I always thought of a young Bryan Brown, a beloved Australian actor, as he was in the 1979 classic, “Breaker Morant”.

 

How important is social media to you?

Oh it’s essential. For ongoing publicity for my books, book-signing events and reviews. It is, in fact, the very reason I have the privilege of taking part in this interview as you & I got in contact through Facebook.

 

What’s your advice for anyone wanting to write their first book?

Come up with a brilliant idea then re-write it 20 times until your book ends up the book it Deserves to be.

 

Do you think you’ll ever come to the UK to do book signings?

I would very, very dearly love to. Before I can, however, my books must be able to be stocked on the shelves of the Waterstones bookstore chain. This is being wrangled by my Australian book distribution company as I write this. (At the moment my books are only available as print-on-demand paperbacks from Waterstones online which is wonderful but my goal is to be signing books in Waterstones Piccadilly.)

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love reading, classic TV & movies, comedy, music, pop culture & aviation, also historical documentaries, Mediterranean cooking, white wine, skiing, mountains and snow.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

So many but in the context of my ‘growing up’ stories, Clive James, Roald Dahl, Bill Bryson, for my war stories, Ken Follett & Roald Dahl once again (“Going Solo” possibly my favourite book of all time), Kate Grenville, Tim Winton & Peter Carey for their emotive Australian historical fictions.

 

About Justin Sheedy

Justin Sheedy had his first book, “Goodbye Crackernight”, published in 2009, a comic memoir of growing up in 1970s Australia, back in a long-lost era when a child’s proudest possession was not a Playstation but a second-hand bike. “Goodbye Crackernight” was so warmly received by Australian readers that it secured Justin a place on the program of the prestigious Byron Bay Writers’ Festival 2010.

In 2012 Justin released “Nor the Years Condemn”, an historical fiction based on the stunning true story of the young Australian fighter pilots of World War Two. A tale as exhilaratingly heroic as it is tragic, “Nor the Years Condemn” is a portrait of shining young men destined never to grow old, and of those who do: the survivors ‘condemned by the years’, and to their memory of friends who remain forever young.

In 2013 he released “Ghosts of the Empire”, Book 2 in his “Nor the Years Condemn” series, and to Rave Reviews.

In 2014 he released “Memoirs of a Go-Go Dancer”, his long-awaited sequel to “Goodbye Crackernight”. “Memoirs of a Go-Go Dancer” is Justin’s rock & roll portrait of teenage in the 1980s under the threat of nuclear annihilation before he ever kissed a girl. Rave Reviews have once again flooded in.

Justin has just released his 5th book, “No Greater Love”, Part 3 in his “Nor the Years Condemn” trilogy. After a sell-out book-launch at Australia’s premier bookstore, the iconic Dymocks George Street Sydney, rave reviews for “No Greater Love” have already been received – see at the book’s Amazon listing along with Amazon 5-Star ratings.

Justin’s books are available in Kindle & paperback at Amazon, Dymocks bookstores, Waterstones & Barnes and Noble Online, The Book Depository and via ALL bookstores. Justin relishes signing copies of his books at regular bookstore events and would love to hear from you at his Facebook pages, on Twitter or at his blog, Crackernight.com. He lives in Sydney, Australia.

 

Book Links

Amazon / Amazon UK / Waterstones online / Barnes & Noble online / The Book Depository / Dymocks bookstores across Australia.

 

Cover Reveal – ‘Occupying Love’ by Marilyn Chapman

Book Cover

This is the wonderful cover for ‘Occupying Love’ by Marilyn Chapman which is out on the 24th June.  Read on for more information.

 

Book Blurb

With the Nazis poised to invade Guernsey in World War Two, feisty student Lydia Le Page returns home to rescue her parents, but as she arrives the harbour is bombed and she’s trapped on the island as the German Military Occupation begins.

Two very different men enter her life: Martin Martell, the handsome but mysterious rector of Torteval Church and Major Otto Kruger, the ruthless German Kommandant, who soon falls under her spell.

When Martin disappears Lydia discovers a secret from her past that threatens her whole future. Will she be able to keep it from the enemy? Or is it too late?  This is a story about love, loss and the unique identity that makes us who we are.

 

Background to ‘Occupying Love’

Guernsey-born journalist Marilyn Chapman read almost every novel written about the Occupation of the Channel Islands, but none sounded quite like the stories her grandparents told her as a child.

Marilyn, who now lives on the Lancashire coast, learnt about life under German rule when Guernsey was occupied by Hitler’s troops in World War Two, and the memories have always stayed with her. The result is Occupying Love which she describes as ‘a fictional account of love, loss, bravery and heartbreak, as well as defiance and hope.’

‘My grandmother refused to acknowledge the German soldiers and even hid cheese in the stair rods at her home, rather than let the food be taken,’ says Marilyn. Eventually the couple’s home was requisitioned by the Germans but they never gave up hope that the island as they knew it would survive.’

Marilyn began her career as a reporter on the Blackpool Evening Gazette, later freelancing for national newspapers and magazines.

Her debut novel Baggy Pants and Bootees was published in 2014 giving her the confidence to finally follow her dream.

 

‘Occupying Love’ is available to pre-order from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Occupying-Love-Marilyn-Chapman-ebook/dp/B01H0MCYA4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466078531&sr=1-1&keywords=occupying+love

 

Cover Reveal – ‘The Secret Wife’ by Gill Paul

Book Cover

I am thrilled to be taking part in this cover reveal and what a beauty it is.  ‘The Secret Wife’ is being published on the 25th August 2016 as an eBook and in paperback by Avon.  Read on to find out more about this book.

 

Book Blurb

A Russian grand duchess and an English journalist. Linked by one of the world’s greatest mysteries . . .

1914

Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with injured cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance – and their lives – in danger . . .

2016

Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather’s remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation forces her to flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jewelled pendant that will lead her to an extraordinary, long-buried family secret . . .

Haunting, moving and beautifully written, The Secret Wife effortlessly crosses centuries, as past merges with present in an unforgettable story of love, loss and resilience.

 

‘The Secret Wife’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-Wife-Gill-Paul-ebook/dp/B01D4O804G/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1463326605&sr=1-3&keywords=the+secret+wife

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Trouble with Seduction’ by Victoria Hanlen

Tour Banner

‘The Trouble with Seduction’ was published on the 25th April 2016 by Carina UK.  Today it is my turn on this blog tour.  Read on for my review.

This story is set in London, England, 1855.  Sarah, Lady Strathford, twice widowed and still fairly young is ready for a little bit of harmless fun, preferably with a man of her own age with and someone who she can have an adventure with.  That’s not too much to ask for is it!

Her hopes are raised when the very dashing, roguish and rather baffling Mr Cornelius Ravenhill appears.  As Sarah soon discovers though he is not the gentleman he seems and she finds herself battling against the corrupt and harsh world around her which threatens to destroy everything precious to her.  Will her seduction at the hands of Mr Ravenhill prove to be her saviour or was she better off on her own?

As most of you probably know by now I really enjoy historical fiction.  I liked the sound of ‘The Trouble with Seduction’ so was more than happy to give it a go.  The blurb is at the front of the eBook, something I think is ever so useful.  It’s very handy especially if like me you have loads of books on your e-reader and can’t remember what it’s about.

I thought this to be a very enjoyable read with an extremely complicated plot which keeps you guessing as to what really happened.  The author has an eye for detail and I loved reading about Strathford Hall and all its grandeur.  It made me wish I was there exploring it and searching out secret rooms and hidden passages.  Sarah Strathford’s late husband, Edward, the Earl of Strathford was an inventor.  He had created many wonderful things including some rather saucy sex toys.

There were a number of characters some of whom were very unsavoury indeed.  I took an instant dislike to Lumsley.  Sarah was one of my favourites though.  She had been through so much and her real problems were only just beginning.  I thought Sarah to be a very kind person.  She had set up a charity where children and adults came with their problems for help and to be educated.  I also really liked Damen.  I don’t want to give too much away but he was good for her even though he wasn’t who she thought he was.  He went about things in a bit of an underhand way but had his reasons.

Whilst reading this novel I came across a lovemaking scene that had been split between two chapters which was slightly off putting.  I personally felt that it should have all taken place in the same chapter.  There was also a fair bit of violence in this book but don’t let that put you off.  If you’re a fan of historical fiction then I would say that ‘The Trouble with Seduction’ is worth reading.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

About Victoria Hanlen

Author Picture

Award winning, historical romance author, VICTORIA HANLEN, has worked at a wide range of jobs, from fashion, to corporate business, to treading the boards of stage and professional opera. A lifelong writer, she once put her skills to use in PR and advertising. But her favorite form of writing is stories with happily-ever-afters.

Additionally, she likes to bake (especially pies), paint (especially barns with cows), and take photographs (especially of sunsets and critters) Victoria and her husband live in rural New England surrounded by a host of wildlife.

 

Links

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29538610-the-trouble-with-seduction?from_search=true&search_version=service

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01ARSC5O8/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Victoria-Hanlen-Books-1611094709107251/?fref=ts

Twitter – https://twitter.com/VictoriaHanlen

Website – https://t.co/GgwQxl2FSx

 

Competition

There’s a chance to win a £15 Amazon Giftcard.  To enter just click on this link – Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

Blog Tour – ‘Song of the Sea Maid’ by Rebecca Mascull

Blog Tour Poster

‘Song of the Sea Maid’ is Rebecca Mascull’s second novel.  It was published in paperback by Hodder & Stoughton on the 11th February 2016.  I was asked if I would like to take part in the blog tour and as I really liked the sound of this book and I love historical fiction I was delighted to.

This story is set in the 18th century.  Dawnay Price has had a hard childhood so far.  Living on the streets of London, she is then taken to an orphanage where she stays for many years.  Dawnay is a very bright child and wants to learn as much as possible.  Luckily she gets the chance to be educated and this opens up many avenues for her. A woman of science, she is a natural philosopher.

Dawnay is determined not to let her background stand in the way of what she wants to achieve.  In an era where women very rarely travel alone, she sets sail aboard The Prospect to the beautiful Iberian Peninsula in Portugal to develop her theories.  Having fought hard against convention, Dawnay is determined to put her career above all else.  Yet as war approaches she finds herself divided by feelings she cannot control.

I have already read some great books so far this year but this was one absolutely amazing and fascinating story.  I loved ‘Song of the Sea Maid’.  Totally engrossed, it was difficult to put this book down.  You can tell that Rebecca Mascull has done a lot of research.  With wonderful descriptions throughout I could actually imagine what it must have been like on board The Prospect and picture the islets.  I also really like the cover of this book, it’s been so cleverly designed.

I thoroughly enjoyed following Dawnay Price’s journey.  I liked how the reader is given an insight into her life from the beginning.  That’s very important I think for a story like this.  Dawnay was a very determined and brave young lady.  It wasn’t always plain sailing for her and she witnessed lots of tragedy and destruction, but somehow Dawnay carried on.  She was a real trooper!  For me she will probably be one of my favourite fictional characters of all time.

‘Song of the Sea Maid’ is not a story I’ll forget and it is definitely going on my list of my favourite ever books.  Well done on writing such a brilliant story, Rebecca.  I really can’t wait to read your next novel.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

‘Song of the Sea Maid’ is available to buy on Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1473604370?keywords=song%20of%20the%20sea%20maid&qid=1455451771&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

 

Social Media Links for Rebecca Mascull

http://rebeccamascull.tumblr.com/

https://twitter.com/rebeccamascull

https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaMascull

https://www.facebook.com/becca.mascull

http://uk.pinterest.com/rebeccamascull/

https://instagram.com/rebeccamascull/

 

Blog Tour – ‘Blood and Roses’ by Catherine Hokin

Blood and Roses Blog Tour

It’s my turn on this wonderful blog tour today.  The lovely Catherine Hokin has written a guest post, but first I want to tell you all about Catherine’s book launch which I attended last week with my husband.

The ‘Blood and Roses’ launch took place on Wednesday 13th January 2016 at Daunt Books in Holland Park Avenue, London.  Not having been to many book events I was really looking forward to it.  We arrived at the bookshop whereupon we were greeted by Catherine who recognised me first.  She had the most amazing shoes on.  Soon the place started to fill up with people all there to support Catherine.  The wine was poured out and the mingling began.  It was a great atmosphere.

Soon after, Catherine started off by answering some fascinating questions.  This gave people a very good idea about what ‘Blood and Roses’ was about.  She then read a couple of extracts from her book which I’m sure made everyone want to buy it.  Afterwards, people queued up to have their copies signed, followed by more wine and mingling.

Here is a picture of me with Catherin Hokin.

Book Launch Picture

It was a fantastic night and we went home feeling really happy.

Now follows Catherine Hokin’s guest post and an extract from ‘Blood and Roses’.

 

~~~~~

TELLING STORIES FROM THE PAST TO THE PRESENT

One of my strongest memories as a child is discovering, for the first time, a book on my own. The Chronicles of Narnia: not something my teacher had read, or my parents, but a world that uncovered itself, as I thought, just for me – a wonderful secret world of the imagination where the characters had the voices I spun in my head and the back-stories I happily wove when I couldn’t stretch reading time any further into the night. The power of stories has never left me and I still have a reading pile that threatens severe concussion to anyone walking too close.

When I realised I wanted to tell stories myself, it was also natural to look back to another lifelong passion: history. What is history if not stories? Because I write short stories that are contemporary and rather twisted and a blog that is also contemporary and, I hope, quite funny, I frequently get asked why I chose historical fiction for my debut novel. The short answer? People.

Whatever time frame you choose, people lived and loved just as we do today. War, disease, loss, political decisions that sweep people into conflicts not of their making are as familiar to us as our fifteenth century counterparts – the mechanisms available for response change but the challenges don’t. For me the study of history helps us to see what is eternal, it is the re-imagining of events that fiction allows that then creates a bridge to new perspectives and voices. This is particularly important for women whose characters and opinions are often far too silent in the pages of the text books.

And that is where Margaret of Anjou comes in: an intriguing, powerful woman too often filtered down to us through hostile voices or melodramatic portrayals courtesy of Shakespeare. She is being re-evaluated to an extent but she is still rarely centre-stage. I wanted to re-imagine her from a woman’s perspective and from a mother’s – there has been so much written about Margaret’s relationship with her son but never from the point of view of what it is like for a strong woman to raise a man in challenging times and then let him go. My son was 17 when I started this project – the age Margaret’s son was when he died – and I have to admit I drew on our relationship a lot, to the point where he went very white at the death scene!

The people of the past: us with different technology and none more so than Margaret.  A fascinating, complex, infuriating woman – look around, you probably know her…

 

Extract

Towton 1461

I thought I knew everything about battles; I thought I knew everything that they could be, that I had witnessed all the horrors a battlefield can deliver. I knew nothing.

It was such a hard winter: even in February the snows were still falling heavily from a sky that seemed to have been leaden for weeks. There was no thaw, no break as the Lancastrian army moved away from London towards the North, avoiding York by a matter of days as he swept his forces down into the City. And what a reception their stony hearts gave him. Margaret knew that the messengers who brought the description of his triumphal entry expected her to scream and rail; she was simply too exhausted, too out-played. All the times she had used tricks and tableaux to win sympathy and support or to make the story of her family far greater than it was. She was a novice compared to York and his advisors.

He knows so well how Londoners love the look of a king and he gives them everything they could have dreamed of and more.

She sat in silence, her stomach churning, as she listened to the messengers fight to keep the awe from their voices as they described how York rode in splendour through gates now flung open with abandon and wreathed in flowers to greet a golden god on his huge charger, and how the people cheered themselves hoarse at his coming.

No matter he is as vicious in battle as any commander of mine; no matter the soldiers they welcome with smiles and wine could be just as dangerous as mine. They do not see it. They see the showman and love him for it.

Every man who stood before her elaborated on the tale. They were almost breathless by the time they described the great rally York held on the 1st of March, with food for all and work forgotten, and the triumphal procession he made to St Paul’s, the solemn ceremony that followed it a few days later; a coronation in all but name. She listened in mounting dismay but could not stop herself asking for every tiny detail. How he had the City Criers summon the people in great crowds. How he had long lists of Henry’s failings read out by Bourchier, resplendent in his Archbishop’s robes and matched them to equally long lists of his own virtues, these loudly declaimed by George Neville, York’s handsome Chancellor. And again at the Cathedral: the same charade of the strong man versus the weak but this time with York’s great royal lineage spelled out so even the simplest commoner could catch it and scream for joy at this King of miracles they were offered.

My efforts were like a child playing make-believe with a paper crown compared to this.

And all through the telling, the same refrain: what a difference to his father’s poor misguided efforts. This York could not have thrust the crown away even as pretence, the people would have forced it on him. It was all so perfectly done. Everyone applauded the title of Edward IV, looked at the furred robes, saw the sceptre and the crown, attended the lavish banquet and truly thought they had witnessed a coronation when it could be no such thing. Margaret could not match him, she knew it: all she had was a hollow-eyed man, his crown a mockery on his empty head, and a child who would be snatched from her if she stayed still too long.

She could not capture hearts but, in that at least, she and Richard of York had been evenly matched. Now she faced a gilded paragon of nineteen with a laugh as loud as a lion’s roar and a golden mane to match, framing a face that made even the matrons around her go giddy. Put a crown and an ermine on him and it was as though she was pitted against a storybook hero to defend a cause that seemed suddenly to have no more weight than a butterfly’s wing.

And yet I cannot stop. I cannot accept defeat. I cannot let him win.

She was afraid, her advisors were afraid: to continue meant war, war to the death, slaughter unleashed. And to stop? To surrender? That was fear of a worse kind, fear that caught at Margaret’s throat and kept her without any rest, turning over the same questions night after night. What usurper would ever allow another anointed king to live? What usurper would ever allow a child who would become the focus of every rebellion and discontent and misguided plot to live? War might be a death-sentence for them all but surrender was a death-warrant for her son.

 

About Catherine Hokin

Author Picture

Catherine is a Glasgow-based author with a degree in History from Manchester University. After years of talking about it, she finally started writing seriously about 3 years ago, researching and writing her debut novel, Blood and Roseswhich will be published in January 2016 by Yolk Publishing. The novel tells the story of Margaret of Anjou and her pivotal role in the Wars of the Roses, exploring the relationship between Margaret and her son and her part in shaping the course of the bloody political rivalry of the fifteenth century. About a year ago, Catherine also started writing short stories – she was recently 3rd prize winner in the 2015 West Sussex Writers Short Story Competition and a finalist in the Scottish Arts Club 2015 Short Story Competition. She regularly blogs as Heroine Chic, casting a historical, and often hysterical, eye over women in history, popular culture and life in general.

 

Social media links:

https://www.catherinehokin.com/

http://catherinehokin.blogspot.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/cathokin/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Twitter @cathokin

‘Blood and Roses’ is available to buy from Amazon: http://amzn.to/1MIvm2T

 

 

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