My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 24th September 2022

Hello and Happy Saturday! It’s here again!!  Been an emotional week after the funeral on Monday, and that seemed to throw me off track on the book front! Hopefully normal service can be resumed next week, and I can get a few more reviews done!

I did manage to finish 5 books this week which I’m happy about and I stayed away from Netgalley and didn’t buy any either! Wonders will never cease!!

Here’s my look back!

BOOKS FINSHED

GRAVES OF THE GREAT AND FAMOUS by ALISTAIR HORNE – 5 STARS

BATTLESHIPS by DAVID ROSS – 4 STARS

SECRET GARDENS OF THE SOUTH EAST by BARBARA SEGALL – 5 STARS

ORPHEUS BUILDS A GIRL by HEATHER PARRY – 5 STARS

A TREACHERY OF SPIES by MANDA SCOTT (audiobook)  – 3 STARS

BOOKHAUL

A big fat  ZERO!!!! It can be done!!

CURRENTLY READING

THE WINNERS by FREDRIK BACKMAN

HAPPY READING!!

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BookReview BOOTH by KAREN JOY FOWLER

ABOUT THE BOOK

From the Man Booker finalist and bestselling author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves comes an epic novel about the family behind one of the most infamous figures in American history: John Wilkes Booth.

In 1822, a secret family moves into a secret cabin some thirty miles northeast of Baltimore, to farm, to hide, and to bear ten children over the course of the next 16 years. Junius Booth—breadwinner, celebrated Shakespearean actor and master of the house in all ways—is at once a mesmerizing talent and a man of terrifying instability. One by one the children arrive, as year by year, the country draws closer to the boiling point of secession and civil war.

As the children grow and the tenor of the world shifts, the Booths cement their place as one of the country’s leading theatrical families. But behind the curtains of the many stages they have graced, multiple scandals, family triumphs, and disasters begin to take their toll. A startling portrait of a country in the throes of change and a vivid exploration of brother- and sisterhood, Booth is a riveting historical novel focused on the very things that bind, and break, a family.

PUBLISHED BY SERPENT’S TAIL

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

 MY REVIEW

This has been my favourite book to read off the Booker Longlist 2022 – no wonder it never made it to the shortlist! I’m a kiss of death to books!! But I found this piece of historical storytelling to be totally absorbing and really gave a sense of life from 1822 onwards in America, when so much was going on politically and had such an impact on people all across the country.

John Wilkes Booth is a name known to many as the man who shot Abraham Lincoln, and this book centres around the Booth family – their beginnings and encounters in the years leading up to that event. I love how each character is given their own voice to tell their own story – how the children had to grow up fast to be responsible for the parents, the struggles,the successes, the losses…. it really gives you a glimpse into how people lived at the times and how political changes were impacting families.

The story is told over a number of years and that had the most impact for me – you could see how their lives were impacted by things they saw, people they met – and then alongside their story, the story of Lincoln and how his life was panning out so it gave you a real sense of the timelines of these families whose paths were about to cross….oh and there’s a character called Harriet Mace and I do always like to see a namesake character in a book!

I found it to be totally absorbing and loved seeing the different points of view, especially of the siblings of JWB. The incident of ‘that night’ that is in the history books, is only a very small part of this book and that worked so brilliantly for me as a reader. It was described perfectly, alongside the aftershock for the family and how they found out what their brother had done.

I found this to be a fabulous read and gave me great insight in to such an infamous name in history and the impact that has on the family around.

★★★★★

BlogBlitz THE JANE AUSTEN REMEDY by RUTH WILSON @AllisonandBusby #BookReview #NonFiction #JaneAusten

Delighted to be joining in the Blog Blitz today, to share news of this wonderful new release from Allison & Busby – THE JANE AUSTEN REMEDY by RUTH WILSON

ABOUT THE BOOK

As she approached the age of seventy, Ruth Wilson began to have recurring dreams about losing her voice. And as she grappled with feelings of unfathomable sadness, she made the radical decision to retreat from her conventional life with her husband to a small sunshine-yellow cottage in New South Wales, Australia where she lived alone for the following ten years.

Ruth had fostered a lifelong love of reading, and from the moment she first encountered Pride and Prejudice in the 1940s she had looked to Jane Austen’s heroines as her models for the sort of woman she wanted to become. She resolved to re-read Austen’s six novels; to reflect on her life in relation to what she discovered in each of them. And as Ruth read between the lines of both the novels and her own life, she began to reclaim her voice.

A beautiful, life-affirming memoir of love, self-acceptance and the curative power of reading. Published the year Ruth turns ninety, The Jane Austen Remedy is an inspirational account of the lessons learned from Jane Austen over nine decades, as well as a timely reminder that it’s never too late to seize a second chance.

PURCHASE LINK

Publisher Website

MY REVIEW

If you don’t want to immediately go and re-read all your Jane Austen books after reading this memoir, then there’s something wrong with you!  The author has done an impressive job with looking back at her life and connecting it with re-reading all the novels of Jane Austen, to see how her life experiences, if at all, had changed her perception of the work she grew up with and had meant so much to her throughout her life.


As the author came to certain conclusions about her life when later in years, and completely changed the way she lived and in that reflective time she turned to the comforting words of Jane Austen to see what she could learn from the past, and how it maybe shaped her thinking and how it could still be so relevant even to this day.


Re-reading these novels gave her peace and gave her answers to questions she didn’t realise she needed answers to.  There are many other mentions too of different books by various authors that she felt a connection to and had an impact on her over the years.  


She looks back at her childhood, her marriage and motherhood and how that ‘happiness’ that society says you should have once you’ve settled down seemed far away from her, and she knew action was needed. In re-reading these books she began to see different thing in different characters that life experience shines a different light on, and  I found that to be the most fascinating – and I hope to get the same kind of experience when I pick up all the Jane Austen novels again

.A fascinating life and look back at the impact that novels written so long ago have resonated with readers for so long.  It’s a book about finding the courage to let go, move and reclaim your voice and your happy, however old you may be!


★★★★

BlogTour EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK by IAIN HOOD @renardpress @iain_hood #BookReview

Delighted to be joining you today as part of the Blog Tour for the fabulous EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK by IAIN HOOD.

My thanks to the author and publisher for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

Every Trick in the Book

Iain Hood

There’s only control, control of ourselves and others. And you have to decide what part you play in that control.

Cast your eye over the comfortable north London home of a family of high ideals, radical politics and compassionate feelings. Julia, Paul and their two daughters, Olivia and Sophie, look to a better society, one they can effect through ORGAN:EYES, the campaigning group they fundraise for and march with, supporting various good causes.

But is it all too good to be true? When the surface has been scratched and Paul’s identity comes under the scrutiny of the press, a journey into the heart of the family begins. Who are these characters really? Are any of them the ‘real’ them at all? Every Trick in the Book is a genre-deconstructing novel that explodes the police procedural and undercover-cop story with nouveau romanish glee. Hood overturns the stone of our surveillance society to show what really lies beneath.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Iain Hood was born in Glasgow and grew up in the seaside town of Ayr. He attended the University of Glasgow and Jordanhill College, and later worked in education in Glasgow and the west country. He attended the University of Manchester after moving to Cambridge, where he continues to live with his wife and daughter. His first novel, This Good Book, was published in 2021.

MY REVIEW

The phrase ‘appearances can be deceptive’ comes straight to mind after reading this book and it was another fabulous reading experience thanks to the author – if you’ve not picked up his previous book, This Good Book, then go grab that as well as you won’t be disappointed!  

It’s so difficult to pin this book down to any one particular genre, and it’s one of those story that resonates so clearly with the times we are living in, where all that glitters is not gold!  We are fed images of people with the perfect lives, believing the  perception of their happiness, but in Every Trick of the Book we see that sometimes people aren’t who they say they are, and their hidden lives are much darker and this book approaches that with humour and a bit of snark, and I loved it!  It doesn’t shirk away from poking fun at everybody – right, left, media, police, celebs – and shows it all up for the hypocrisy that is often displays!

At the heart of the story are a ‘normal’ family living a very comfortable life, on the surface, following the latest causes, and then a journalist starts digging and uncovers some uncomfortable truths about their real identities, and that’s where the fun and mayhem begins!

There’s always that mystery about what is being hidden,and why,  and that kept me turning the pages faster and faster to find out, and the redacted passages just add to the confusion and head scratching!  This is a smart book and one that makes you think, makes you laugh and makes you feel that we’re all just going through life just trying to make sense of it all!  And even when we think we’ve got it figured out, we’re often far from the mark!!

This, for me, was one of those books that makes you want to re-read it almost immediately so you can pick up on those hidden messages you may have missed first time round!   A book that ticks every box for me entertainment wise, and as for Who Do I Trust?! Absolutely nobody!!

★★★★★

BookReview THE NIGHT SHIP by JESS KIDD #TheNightShip

ABOUT THE BOOK

Based on a real-life event, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.

1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.

1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…​

With her trademark “thrilling, mysterious, twisted, but more than anything, beautifully written” (Graham Norton, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling, Jess Kidd weaves a unputdownable and charming tale of friendship and sacrifice, brutality and forgiveness.

PUBLISHED BY CANONGATE BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK

Waterstones

MY REVIEW

Loved. Loved. Loved!!!


An astonishing piece of historical fiction that had me under its’ spell from page one and still has me mesmerized even now!! Jess Kidd has a wonderful way of storytelling, and I think this might be her best yet. Told over 2 timelines, featuring 2 amazing child characters who lived so far apart timewise, but had so much in common. Their stories will break your heart and inspire and I’m already itching to read it all over again!

This story is based on real life events, and starts in 1628 with Mayken who is travelling on board the Batavia with her nursemaid to a new life overseas. She has never met her father but is travelling to join him after the passing of her mother.

And in 1989, we meet the character of Gil, who is a lost soul after losing his mother and he’s travelling to live with his grandfather who lives on an Island and makes a living fishing. The Island is where the Batavia ran aground causing a huge loss of life.

The switching timelines work in tandem to perfection – the excitement of Mayken, the trepidation of Gil, as they both set out on different paths and exploring the loss of their mothers and the impact that has on them as very young children.

It’s a book that made me lose time as I just became so involved in the lives of these characters! From the settings, the complexity of family relationships to the pure emotion as you watch over these children as they’re faced with all kinds of challenges.

I could easily wax lyrical for hours about this book as it was just a sheer delight to read from start to finish, but I won’t so you can enjoy the drama of it all for yourself – cannot recommend it highly enough and easily one of my most favourite books of 2022.

★★★★★

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 17th September 2022

Hello! Happy Saturday!!  Definitely feeling and looking a little more Autumnal out there now.. the spiderwebs are multiplying daily in the garden!

On to books!  A slower week reading wise with just 2 finishes this past week.  Netgalley got me good again though with  5 new additions – oops!!  Plus I’ve bought 2 new books and got 1 book in the post to review! I need to up the reading and reviewing pace again!!

Here’s my look back…

BOOKS FINISHED

THE JANE AUSTEN REMEDY by RUTH WILSON  – 4 STARS

publication date – 22nd September 2022

HAVEN by EMMA DONOGHUE – 3 STARS

BOOKHAUL

Shall we see how Netgalley made me add so many?!

THE SECRET GARDENS OF THE SOUTH EAST by BARBARA SEGALL

publication date – October 2022

A tour of some of the UK’s most beguiling gardens in the counties of Kent, Sussex and Surrey, the counties that exemplify ‘the garden of England’.

In these three counties a wealth of history and horticulture has combined with geography in the shape of rolling landscapes, wooded valleys and meandering waterways, to provide an attractive and fascinating collection.

They are in villages and towns, as well as in deep countryside, and all are privately owned. Some have been in the possession of the same family for many generations, while others have recently been transformed by new owners. Some open for the National Garden Scheme, while others are open privately and in some cases for just the occasional day for charity.

The stunning gardens explored in this visually rich guide include: Arundel Castle, Denmans, Gravetye Manor, Munstead Wood and Sussex Prairie Garden. The book also includes a gazetteer of other important gardens in the area with location advice, to enable readers to plan a more elaborate tour of this fertile garden area.

Filled with stunning, specially commissioned photographs by Clive Boursnell, Secret Gardens of the South East is a unique guide that opens the gates to the most intriguing gardens in this part of England.

BATTLESHIPS by DAVID ROSS

publication date – October 2022

Battleships features 52 of the greatest warships to have sailed in the last 500 years.
 
Beginning with King Henry VIII’s flagship, Henry Grace à Dieu, this book covers all the main periods of battleship development, including the great sailing ships, such as Sovereign of the SeasSantissimaTrinidad, and Victory. The advent of steam-driven warships provides the core of the book, beginning with the introduction of Gloire in 1859, and continuing through all the major pre-Dreadnoughts, such as the InflexibleMaine, and Tsessarevitch. There is detailed coverage of the great battleships of the two world wars, including DerfflingerYamato, and Iowa, while the book closes with the last new battleship to be commissioned, Vanguard, in 1946. Each entry includes a brief description of the battleship’s development and history, a color profile artwork, key features, and specifications. Packed with illustrations and photographs, Battleships is a colorful guide for the military historian and naval warfare enthusiast.

GRAVES OF THE GREAT AND FAMOUS by ALASTAIR HORNE

Karl Marx is buried in London, John Keats in Rome and Leon Trotsky in Mexico. Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is today known for the graves of Jim Morrison, Victor Hugo and Oscar Wilde, but when it opened in the early 19th century the owners felt that they needed some star names to make it a desired burial site – and so they had Molière’s body transferred there. Arranged thematically into 75 entries, Graves of the Great and Famous tours the world exploring the resting places of leading artists, thinkers, scientists, sportspeople, revolutionaries, politicians and pioneers. Some, such as communist leaders Ho Chi Minh and Vladimir Lenin, are interred in great mausoleums, where they are visited by millions each year; others are buried in little-known country graveyards. From lives cut short through assassinations – Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln – to those who suffered terrible accidents (Princess Diana), from mobsters such as Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel and John Gotti to Napoleon and his mistress Marie Walewska, from Nelson Mandela to Eva Peron, Graceland to Highgate Cemetery, the book provides a guide to some of the most famous and unusual graves of the great and the good. Featuring 150 photographs of graves, cemeteries, graveyards and mausoleums, Graves of the Great and Famous is a compact guide to the final resting place of the famous – and infamous.

BECKY by SARAH MAY

publication date – January 2023

Becky Sharp is determined. Determined to get away from the dead-end town where she grew up, determined to make a place for herself in high society and determined to reach the top of the career ladder. And she doesn’t care how many lives she ruins in the process.

Set in 90s tabloid era London, Becky charts the rise and fall of a very modern heroine as she inveigles her way into the highest society, where tabloid millionaires mingle and trade favours and fortunes with royalty and aristocracy, pushes her way up through the ranks at the Mercury newspaper with manipulative scoop after scoop, and eventually orchestrates her own dramatic downfall. These are some of the biggest news stories and scandals of the last few decades, and Becky seems to have something to do with every one of them . . .

In this viciously funny, darkly entertaining and ultimately moving read, the much-loved classic Vanity Fair finds itself in 90s London, and Becky couldn’t be a more perfect fit. For fans of Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible, Becky by Sarah May is impossible to put down.

FOUND IN A BOOKSHOP by STEPHANIE BUTLAND

publication – April 2023

Dear Lost for Words,

We are trying to stay at home . . . I am enclosing a cheque and I hope that you will use it to send us some books. Please choose books that we might think are wonderful
.

Rosemary

Loveday Cardew’s beloved Lost for Words bookshop, along with the rest of York, has fallen quiet. At the very time when people most need books to widen their horizons, or escape from their fears, or enhance their lives, the doors are closed. Then the first letter comes.

Rosemary and George have been married for fifty years. Now their time is running out. They have decided to set out on their last journey together, without ever leaving the bench at the bottom of their garden in Whitby. All they need is someone who shares their love of books.

Suddenly it’s clear to Loveday that she and her team can do something useful in a crisis. They can recommend books to help with the situations their customers find themselves in: fear, boredom, loneliness, the desire for laughter and escape.

And so it begins.

On to the book I was sent for review by Gallic Books….

ORPHEUS BUILDS A GIRL by HEATHER PARRY

publication date – October 2022

Based on a true story, Orpheus Builds a Girl is a novel of sisterly love, sinister obsession, and the battle for control of the story. A dark, chilling debut novel from award-winning writer Heather Parry.

German doctor Wilhelm Von Tore shares with the reader the story of his one true ove; a love written in the stars, decades in the making, a love so strong it transcended death itself. When Wilhelm emigrates to America he carries with him a vision of a dark-haired beauty, presented to him in his dreams by his beloved late Grandmother. In Key West, Florida, a beautiful young woman is taken to him in the grip of illness, and he recognises her immediately as his promised bride. Despite his efforts, the sickness takes hold and his beloved slips away from him. But Wilhelm will not be kept from his destiny, not even by death. Using research compiled over decades, he sets about attempting to restore his love to her body, so that they might be together forever.

But there’s another voice in this story: Gabriela, and she will not let this version of events go unchallenged. From between the cracks in Wilhelm’s story Gabriela recounts her own memory of her sister Luciana, a fiery and difficult young woman, and the madman who robbed her from her grave.

And then it was time to treat myself… obviously!

FAIRY TALE by STEPHEN KING

Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for their world or ours.

Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was ten, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. Then, when Charlie is seventeen, he meets a dog named Radar and his ageing master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill, with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds emerge from it.

Charlie starts doing jobs for Mr. Bowditch and loses his heart to Radar. Then, when Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape telling a story no one would believe. What Bowditch knows, and has kept secret all his long life, is that inside the shed is a portal to another world.

King’s storytelling in Fairy Tale soars. This is a magnificent and terrifying tale about another world than ours, in which good is pitted against overwhelming evil, and a heroic boy—and his dog—must lead the battle

.THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX by MAGGIE O’FARRELL

Maggie O’Farrell takes readers on a journey to the darker places of the human heart, where desires struggle with the imposition of social mores. This haunting story explores the seedy past of Victorian asylums, the oppression of family secrets, and the way truth can change everything.

In the middle of tending to the everyday business at her vintage clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend’s attempts at commitment, Iris Lockhart receives a stunning phone call: Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital – where she has been locked away for over sixty years. Iris’s grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme’s papers prove she is Kitty’s sister, and Iris can see the shadow of her dead father in Esme’s face. Esme has been labeled harmless – sane enough to coexist with the rest of the world. But Esme’s still basically a stranger, a family member never mentioned by the family, and one who is sure to bring life-altering secrets with her when she leaves the ward. If Iris takes her in, what dangerous truths might she inherit?

Maggie O’Farrell’s intricate tale of family secrets, lost lives, and the freedom brought by truth will haunt readers long past its final page.

CURRENTLY READING

THE MARRIAGE PORTRAIT by MAGGIE O’FARRELL

HAPPY READING!!

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 10th September 2022

Hello and Happy Saturday!! And Autumn has brought in the rain so the garden is very happy!! Some rather spectacular storms to watch too! Normal service is resumed in the UK haha!!

And on the book front it’s been another goodie!  I managed to finish 4 books, got 3 newbies from Netgalley, bought myself 2 books and received 1 proof for review!

Here’s my look back!

BOOKS FINISHED

ITHACA by CLAIRE NORTH – 5 STARS

BEFORE YOUR MEMORY FADES by TOSHIKAZU KAWAGUCHI – 3 STARS

THE RABBIT HUTCH by TESS GUNTY – 4 STARS

THE NIGHT SHIP by JESS KIDD – 5 STARS

BOOKHAUL

Starting over at Netgalley… it tempted me again!

THE GREENMAN OF ESHWOOD HALL by JACOB KERR

publication date – 6th October 2022

Eshwood Hall is a great English house surrounded by sprawling woods. In 1960, Izzy is thirteen, lives in the servants’ quarters and doesn’t go to school. Neglected by her parents, she spends her moments of freedom exploring the forest and the village beyond. The more she comes to understand the history of the place and her own situation, the stranger are the things she hears and sees. The most tantalising of these is the Green Man who inhabits the woods, and seems to know all about her, even those desires she has buried deep inside.

A family story rooted in folk tale, The Green Man of Eshwood Hall shows us the power that the wild still holds on our imagination, and the shocking nightmares to which it can give rise.

NOW SHE IS WITCH by KIRSTY LOGAN

publication date – January 2023

Some of what they say about witches is true.

She dug her mother’s grave in the poison garden so it would stay hidden…

Lux has lost everything when Else finds her, alone in the woods. Her family, her lover, her home – all burned. The world is suspicious of women like her, neither maiden nor mother. But Lux is cunning; she knows how to exploit people’s expectations, how to blend into the background. And she knows a lot about poisons.

Else has not found Lux by accident. She needs her help to seek revenge against the man who wronged her, and together they pursue him north. But on their hunt they will uncover dark secrets that entangle them with dangerous adversaries.
From the snowy winter woods to the bright midnight sun; from the horrors of plague to the relief of healing; from lost and powerless to finding your path, Now She is Witch questions the oppositions that shadow our lives. In rich and immersive prose Kirsty Logan conjures a world of violence and beauty in which women grasp at power through witchcraft and poisons, through sexuality and childbearing, through performance and pretence, and most of all through throwing other women to the wolves. This is a witch story unlike any other.

THE CHRISTMAS CASTLE IN SCOTLAND by JULIE CAPLIN

publication date – October 2022

Unwrap this gorgeous gift of a book for an escape to the snow-peaked caps of the Scottish Highlands and a romance that will melt your heart…

Izzy McBride had never in a million years expected to inherit an actual castle from her great uncle Bill but here she was, in the run up to Christmas, Monarch of her own Glen – a very rundown glen in need of a lot of TLC if her dream of turning it into a boutique bed and breakfast was to come true.

But when Izzy’s eccentric mother rents a room to enigmatic thriller author Ross Adair and the Scottish snow starts to settle like the frosting on a Christmas cake, it’s a race to get the castle ready before they’re all snowed in for the holidays.

And in the post I was very lucky to receive a proof copy of this to review

EXILES by JANE HARPER

publication date – January 2023

At a busy festival site on a warm spring night, a baby lies alone in her pram, her mother vanishing into the crowds.

A year on, Kim Gillespie’s absence casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather deep in the heart of South Australian wine country to welcome a new addition to the family.

Joining the celebrations is federal investigator Aaron Falk. But as he soaks up life in the lush valley, he begins to suspect this tight-knit group may be more fractured than it seems.

Between Falk’s closest friend, a missing mother, and a woman he’s drawn to, dark questions linger as long-ago truths begin to emerge.

An outstanding novel, a brilliant mystery and a heart-pounding read from the author of The Dry, Force of Nature, The Lost Man and The Survivors.

And then it was time to treat myself to a couple of books from Waterstones with vouchers I had!


MAGGIE O’FARRELL – THE MARRIAGE PORTRAIT

‘I thought I had made myself clear. I want something that conveys her majesty, her bloodline. Do you understand? She is no ordinary mortal. Treat her thus.’

Florence, the 1560s. Lucrezia, third daughter of Cosimo de’ Medici, is free to wander the palazzo at will, wondering at its treasures and observing its clandestine workings. But when her older sister dies on the eve of marriage to Alfonso d’Este, heir to the Duke of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio, Lucrezia is thrust unwittingly into the limelight: Alfonso is quick to request her hand in marriage, and her father to accept on her behalf.

Having barely left girlhood, Lucrezia must now make her way in a troubled court whose customs are opaque and where her arrival is not universally welcomed. Perhaps most mystifying of all is her husband himself, Alfonso. Is he the playful sophisticate he appears before their wedding, the aesthete happiest in the company of artists and musicians, or the ruthless politician before whom even his formidable sisters seem to tremble?

As Lucrezia sits in uncomfortable finery for the painting which is to preserve her image for centuries to come, one thing becomes worryingly clear. In the court’s eyes, she has one duty: to provide the heir who will shore up the future of the Ferrarese dynasty. Until then, for all of her rank and nobility, her future hangs entirely in the balance.

THE DRAGON’S PROMISE by ELIZABETH LIM

A journey to the kingdom of dragons, a star-crossed love, and a cursed pearl with the power to mend the world or break it…

Princess Shiori made a deathbed promise to return the dragon’s pearl to its rightful owner, but keeping that promise is more dangerous than she ever imagined.

She must journey to the kingdom of dragons, navigate political intrigue among humans and dragons alike, fend off thieves who covet the pearl for themselves and will go to any lengths to get it, all while cultivating the appearance of a perfect princess to dissuade those who would see her burned at the stake for the magic that runs in her blood.

The pearl itself is no ordinary cargo; it thrums with malevolent power, jumping to Shiori’s aid one minute, and betraying her the next—threatening to shatter her family and sever the thread of fate that binds her to her true love, Takkan. It will take every ounce of strength Shiori can muster to defend the life and the love she’s fought so hard to win.

CURRENTLY READING

THE JANE AUSTEN REMEDY by RUTH WILSON

HAPPY READING!

BookReview ITHACA by CLAIRE NORTH @ClaireNorth42 @orbitbooks @Gambit589

ABOUT THE BOOK

‘The greatest power we woman can own, is that we take in secret . . . ‘

Seventeen years ago, king Odysseus sailed to war with Troy, taking with him every man of fighting age from the island of Ithaca. None of them have returned, and the women have been left behind to run the kingdom.

Penelope was barely into womanhood when she wed Odysseus. Whilst he lived, her position was secure. But now, years on, speculation is mounting that husband is dead, and suitors are starting to knock at her door . . .

But no one man is strong enough to claim Odysseus’ empty throne – not yet. Between Penelope’s many suitors, a cold war of dubious alliances and hidden knives reigns, as everyone waits for the balance of power to tip one way or another. If Penelope chooses one from amongst them, it will plunge Ithaca into bloody civil war. Only through cunning and her spy network of maids can she maintain the delicate balance of power needed for the kingdom to survive.

On Ithaca, everyone watches everyone else, and there is no corner of the palace where intrigue does not reign . . .

published by ORBIT BOOKS

PURCHASE LINKS

Goldsboro Books – signed edition

Amazon

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a wonderfully illuminating re-tellng of Greek mythology that explores the woman, Penelope, behind the man, Odysseus, who came to the fore and has strong touches of feminism and showing the strengths of women in a very male dominated world.  Dismiss these women at your peril!

The story of Penelope is an intriguing one, and hearing her voice, mostly through the observations of Hera, was fascinating to see how she set about dealing with the loss of her husband, and the clamour around her to take over power. She’s also dealing with her son, Telemachus, who is full of that male pride and wanting to make sense of it all and make his father proud. There are different POV’s of various characters but their voices blend in to make the story so fresh, and really connected with me despite my lack of knowledge of a lot of greek mythology – this story has really made me more fascinated about it all and I now want to know more!

I loved the theme throughout of the strong women and ruthless men. Women were always undervalued or not ‘seen’ but these female characters all showed all the sides to them – supportive and ready to sabotage.. Hera being the narrator also gave an overview of other characters and showing the challenges they faced.

At the heart of the story is a tale of a family dealing with power and loss, and although it’s mostly about the female characters, I did find the story of the son really fascinating and it was good to have that different feel to his story.

This is a story of love and loss, rivalry and revenge, feasts and fights, brutality and betrayal and I found myself totally immersed in the world and the story is set up so nicely for book 2 – I can’t wait!!

★★★★★

My thanks to the team at Orbit Books for the proof copy which  I received in return for a fair and honest review.  The cross stitch kit too was fabulous and I need more book cover cross stitch kits in my life!

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 3rd September 2022

Hello and Happy September!!! How?!  And there are Chritsmas goodies in the shops already…arrrggghhhh!!!  This little robin appeared in my garden this week too to get me in the festive mood LOL!

On to my bookish mood and it’s been a bit quieter this week book wise – still managed to read 4 books, added 1 newbie to my bulging Netgalley shelves and 2 new book purchases!!

here’s my look back!!

BOOKS FINISHED

SWIMMING HOME by MARY-ROSE MACCOLL – 3 STARS

EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK by IAIN HOOD – 5 STARS

publication date – 14th September 2022

TRUST by HERNAN DIAZ – 4 STARS

SPRING ON THE LITTLE CORNISH ISLES by PHILLIPA ASHLEY – 3 STARS

BOOKHAUL

Starting over at Netgalley…

THE WHISPERING MUSE by LAURA PURCELL

publication date – February 2023

From the Sunday Times bestselling author comes a gripping tale of obsession, superstition and ambition, set against the atmospheric backdrop of Victorian London. Be careful what you wish for… it may just come true.

By the pricking of my thumbs…

At The Mercury Theatre in London’s West End, rumours are circulating of a curse.

It is said that the lead actress Lilith has made a pact with Melpomene, the tragic muse of Greek mythology, to become the greatest actress to ever grace the stage. Suspicious of Lilith, the jealous wife of the theatre owner sends dresser Jenny to spy on her, and desperate for the money to help her family, Jenny agrees.

What Jenny finds is a woman as astonishing in her performance as she is provocative in nature. On stage, it’s as though Lilith is possessed by the characters she plays, yet off stage she is as tragic as the Muse who inspires her, and Jenny, sorry for her, befriends the troubled actress. But when strange events begin to take place around the theatre, Jenny wonders if the rumours are true, and fears that when the Muse comes calling for payment, the cost will be too high.

…Something Wicked this way comes

And I’ve been book buying…..

This is my most recent Renard Press Subscription book.

THE PROPHET by KAHLIL GIBRAM

Kahlil Gibran’s masterpiece, The Prophet, is one of the most beloved classics of our time. Published in 1923, it has been translated into more than twenty languages, and the American editions alone have sold more than nine million copies.

The Prophet is a collection of poetic essays that are philosophical, spiritual, and, above all, inspirational. Gibran’s musings are divided into twenty-eight chapters covering such sprawling topics as love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, housing, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.

And this beauty arrived, complete with gorgeous prints/bookmarks from Galley Beggar Press

MALARKOI by ALEX PHEBY

NATHAN TREEVES is dead, murdered by the Master of Mordew, his remains used to create the powerful occult weapon known as the Tinderbox.

His companions, scattered, are making for Malarkoi – the city of the Mistress, the Master’s most powerful enemy. Hoping to find welcome there, or at least safety, they find neither… and instead become embroiled in a life and death struggle against assassins, demi-gods, and the cunning plans of the Mistress.

Only Sirius, Nathan’s faithful dog, has not forgotten the boy. Bent on revenge, he returns to the shattered remains of Mordew, newly deformed into an impossible mountain, swarming with monsters. He senses something in the Manse at its pinnacle – the Master is there, grieving the loss of his manservant, Bellows – and in the ruins of the slums he finds a power capable of destroying his foe, if only he has the strength to use it.

CURRENTLY READING

ITHACA by CLAIRE NORTH

HAPPY READING!!

BlogTour SALMACIS by ELIZABETH TRAIN-BROWN #Poetry #BookReview @renardpress @BethTrainBrown

Delighted to be part of the Blog Tour today for the wonderful SALMACIS by ELIZABETH TRAIN-BROWN.  My thanks to Will at Renard Press for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

As recounted by the Roman poet Ovid, a young nymph, Salmacis, one day spied Hermaphroditus bathing; consumed with passion, she entered the water and, begging the gods to allow them to stay together, the two became one – part man, part woman.

An Eclectic Pagan, for Elizabeth Ovid’s fables are more than fiction, and form a framework for exploring identity. Drawing on the rich mythological history associated with the tale of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, and re-examining the tale through the lens of metaphor, Salmacis: Becoming Not Quite a Woman is a stirringly relatable and powerful exploration of gender, love and identity.

this is my lake salmacis, and i am the wild nymph

with a hollow in her belly and nothing between her legs

PUBLISHED BY RENARD PRESS

PURCHASE LINK

Publisher Website

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Train-Brown is a poet and writer whose work has been published internationally in various anthologies and journals. Their journalism on discrimination, asexuality, transgender issues and polyamory has also received widespread recognition. Outside of writing, Elizabeth follows in her parents’ footsteps as a circus performer and fortune teller. Salmacis is their first collection.

For more information follow Elizabeth on Twitter @BethTrainBrown or Instagram.

MY REVIEW

I don’t often read poetry, but when they’re as good as this then I definitely need to add more poetry to my TBR!!

This is a collection that is punchy, insightful and takes you on a truly evocative journey.  There are just 25 poems in this collection, but each makes you think and have a different experience with.  Some hit hard with their rawness, whilst others are more flowing and gentle, and that really captures the essence of the female experience, the ups and the downs and all that falls in between!

The language used I found myself really connecting to, and it also raised a few wry smiles from myself with some of the points made as it explored all aspects of the body and the world seen through the eyes of a woman.  It all flows so beautifully and I have found it to be one of those books that I keep picking up and enjoying different poems on different days, depending on my mood!  

Some of the words hit the reader right between the eyes with their darkness, whilst others soothe and let you know you aren’t alone in experiences and feelings, and I just found this to be a powerful and inspiring collection and I cannot wait to read more from Elizabeth in the future!

★★★★

Don’t forget to join the rest of the Blog Tour with these wonderful bloggers!