#BlogTour The Serpent’s Mark by S.W.Perry #bookreview #randomthingstours #TheSerpentsMark @CorvusBooks @swperry_history

Extremely delighted to be the latest stop on the fabulous blog tour for THE SERPENT’S MARK by S.W.PERRY – my thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for putting it all together and letting me be part of it all to share my thoughts!

ABOUT THE BOOK

A smart and gripping tale of conspiracy, murder and espionage in Elizabethan London, ideal for fans of CJ Sansom, Rory Clements and SG MacLean.

Treason sleeps for no man…

London, 1591. Nicholas Shelby, physician and reluctant spy, returns to his old haunts on London’s lawless Bankside. But, when the queen’s spymaster Robert Cecil asks him to investigate the dubious practices of a mysterious doctor from Switzerland, Nicholas is soon embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not just the life of an innocent young patient, but the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth herself.

With fellow healer and mistress of the Jackdaw tavern, Bianca Merton, again at his side, Nicholas is drawn into a dangerous world of zealots, charlatans and fanatics. As their own lives become increasingly at risk, they find themselves confronting the greatest treason of all: the spectre of a bloody war between the faiths…

Published by Corvus Books

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £11.74

hive.co.uk  £11.69

Goldsboro Books – signed, first edition £14.99

Praise for The Serpent’s Mark

“No-one is better than S. W. Perry at leading us through the squalid streets of London in the sixteenth century.” – Andrew Swanston

“The writing is of such a quality, the characters so engaging and the setting so persuasive that, only two books in, S.W. Perry’s ingeniously plotted novels have become my favourite historical crime series.” – S G MacLean

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

S. W. Perry was a journalist and broadcaster before retraining as an airline pilot. He lives in Worcestershire with his wife.

MY REVIEW

Nicholas and Bianca are back and I adored spending time with them both again as they’re thrust into the world of espionage, conspiracy and murder once more!  Set in the 16th Century, the sights and sounds are brought thrillingly to life by the writing of S.W.Perry and I’m already eager to escape back into their world if this fabulous series continues!

There is a slow start to this book as the scene is being set of the changing times of Elizabethan England – the history, the politics, the religion – and all this against the backdrop of Dr Nicholas dealing with the grief that has consumed him after losing his family.  When he is summoned back to London he has to explain his conduct to Robert Cecil , who sets him out to ‘investigate’ an overseas physician and with the distrust of foreigners that was gripping the country at the time, this request doesn’t seem too out of the ordinary for Nicholas, although he is well aware of Cecil and his dodgy background.

Bianca has been continuing to live and work in London while Nicholas had gone to ground, and she’s now a licensed apothecary but the appearance of a cousin from overseas, and a brutal attack on him brings her back into trying to figure out what he might have been involved in and has her in the thick of the action.

The strength of these  characters is that they can conduct their own investigations independent to one another, but still combine their inquisitiveness when needed! They trust one another implicitly and that clearly comes through when they’re facing tough and bleak times.

I loved the attention to detail throughout, the look behind the politics of the time and the lengths people would go to get their own way for what they saw as the greater good.  It was rather graphic at times too which just added to the reality of the brutal treatments used at the time by those with rather unpleasant intentions.

An intoxicating, gripping,  and thrilling piece of historical fiction – more please!!!

★★★★★

#BookReview #20booksofsummer The Garden Of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans

Back on track with my 20 Books of Summer List! And Book 5 has now been read and reviewed!!  Can I keep this pace up?! Of course not, but I’m enjoying being so productive while I can!!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and Found days before his sudden death.

Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted ‘The Garden of Lost and Found’, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.

One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…

When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.

Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?

Published by Headline Review

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon   £11.81

hive.co.uk  £12.99

whsmith  £11.89

Bert’s Books  £16.99 – sigend edition

MY REVIEW

A dramatic opening starts this book off with a bang and I was just totally captivated from the first page to the last with the events set over a dual timeline, relating to the painting of The Garden of Lost and Found, alongside the family history and drama of Nightingale House. The author has a wonderful way of capturing the day to day lives of people in various periods in history, mixed with the added mystery of secrets hidden behind closed doors that just makes you want to read more!!

Set in 1893 and 2014 this story follows the story of 2 families an their not so happy lives! In the 2014 timeline we follow Juliet who is married with children, but her husband seems to have form of playing away from home and she finally reaches breaking point and a legacy from the past leaves her with a way of breaking free from the marriage and starting over – albeit in a crumbling house that had sad memories for her family in the past. Her children aren’t so keen on the move and add to the stress she is under, but she is pretty determined to move on with her life and find the happiness she feels they all deserve.

In 1893 we follow the story of Liddy, who marries Ned (Juliet’s great grandfather), an artist, and find themselves moving to Nightingale House, a home she grew up in and despite the good times they shared together there, their time is soon tinged with sadness and pain. When Ned paints his most famous piece ‘The Garden of Lost and Found’ it should mean an end to all their worries, but just seems to add to the misery and he comes to despise his own work.

Juliet starts to learn more about her own family history when she starts working nearby and the more she uncovers the more devastating the revelations become.

I really loved both timelines in this one – I did find Juliet’s more powerful as she dealt with all that she learned about her past, while dealing with her own family problems – and I raced through the 440+ pages. The characters, the settings, the history, the escapism – perfect combinations for such an enjoyable book!

★★★★★

#BlogTour The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw #BookReview #RandomThingsTours #TheSpaceBetweenTime @AccentPress @claidlawauthor

A huge delight to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for  THE SPACE BETWEEN TIME by CHARLIE LAIDLAW.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for putting this all together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

 Emma Maria Rossini’s perfect life begins to splinter when her celebrity father becomes more distant, and her mother dies suspiciously during a lightning storm. This death has a massive effect on Emma, but after stumbling through university, she settles into work as a journalist in Edinburgh. Her past, however, cannot be escaped. Her mental health becomes unstable. But while recovering in a mental institution, Emma begins to write a memoir to help come to terms with the unravelling of her life. She finds ultimate solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe – which offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

 Published by ACCENT PRESS

Publication Date – 20th June 2019

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK £8.99

hive.co.uk  £7.49

Publisher Website  £8.99

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Charlie Laidlaw was born in Paisley and is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. He has been a national newspaper journalist and worked in defence intelligence. He now runs his own marketing consultancy in East Lothian. He is married with two grown-up children.

MY REVIEW

Wow!! I wasn’t quite expecting this book to be the emotional journey that it turned out to take me on, but it was a stunning story of what happens when a seemingly perfect life starts to unravel, showing the highs and lows of family life and that the life we all probably dream of isn’t as it seems.

Emma is the star of this book – she’s the daughter of a loving but neurotic mum, a father who becomes a hugely famous actor and this story charts her life as she deals with an unconventional lifestyle, and how she learns about the world around her and how tragic events shape her life and put on her a different path to what she imagined.

The fame that her father finds turns his head so he’s rarely around for his wife and daughter, and her mother doesn’t cope well with this.   He moves the family to a large mansion but they never find happiness there and their lives become defined by him and his actions.

You cannot help but become so attached to Emma as she’s confronted with such sadness in her life – she idolized her grandfather whose own life was met with ridicule for what he believed, but in him she finds a kindred spirit and often shares his beliefs and perspective on the world around them and how you should see yourself.    She sees the ‘perfect’ life that her Dad portrays of his family life in the media and knowing the truth it really messes her up, and this  outlook causes her to try and find a way to get his attention and to become her own person.

She finds some comfort when she becomes a writer and never plays on her famous name – she wants to write about things that matter and not the superficial celebrity world she has been witness to.  She changes her name to try and become ‘herself’ but the mental issues she’s always struggled with are never far away.  There is so much I think we can all relate to with this character  as she finds herself in different stages of her life trying to figure out who she really is, and how much outside influences have changed her perspective and clouded her judgement.

There was so much to love about this book and the characters portrayed – it’s heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measures and is definitely going to be one of my most treasured reads of 2019!

★★★★★

#CoverReveal A Paris Fairy Tale by Marie Laval @ChocLituk

cover reveal

Once upon a time…..

 I hope you are ready for a truly sparkling cover reveal today for A PARIS FAIRY TALE by MARIE LAVAL.  My thanks to the team at Choc Lit once again for letting me loose to share another beautiful cover with you

shall we begin….

ABOUT THE BOOK

Is Paris the city of happily ever afters?

Workaholic art historian Aurora Black doesn’t have time for fairy tales or Prince Charmings, even in the most romantic city in the world. She has recently been hired by a Parisian auction house for a job that could make or break her career. Unfortunately, daredevil journalist Cédric Castel seems intent on disrupting Aurora’s routine.

As Aurora and Cédric embark on a journey across France, they get more than they bargained for as they find themselves battling rogue antiques dealers and personal demons, not to mention a growing attraction to each other.

But with the help of a fairy godmother or two, could they both find their happily ever afters?

A Paris Fairy Tale is published on 23rd July by Choc Lit and will be available to purchase as an eBook on all platforms, as well as in audio.

★★★

Now I shall wave my magic wand and the new cover will appear………

★★★

swoon!! I love this watercolour effect on a cover and hope you agree!  Very excited to read this one in July!

#BookReview A Secret Rose by Kirsty Ferry #publicationday

ABOUT THE BOOK

A fabulous new story from Kirsty Ferry set in Cornwall. Perfect summer reading! 


“Wherever you go, I will follow …” 
Merryn Burton is excited to travel down to Cornwall to start her first big job for the London art dealers she works for. But as soon as she arrives at Pencradoc, a beautiful old mansion, she realises this will be no ordinary commission. 

Not only is Pencradoc filled with fascinating, and possibly valuable artwork, it is also owned by the Penhaligon brothers – and Merryn’s instant connection with Kit Penhaligon could be another reason why her trip suddenly becomes a whole lot more interesting. 

But the longer Merryn stays at Pencradoc the more obvious it is that the house has a secret, and a long-forgotten Rose might just hold the key … 

Published by Choc Lit

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

Kobo

Apple Books

Google Play

Nook

MY REVIEW

An old mansion in Cornwall  full of secrets – a dual timeline – romance – family history… yes, yes, yes!!  Hopefully this is the start of another lovely series to be set in this idyllic setting.

 It’s fair to say I loved spending time in the company of Merryn Burton as she travels to Cornwall and the Pencradoc home recently inherited by the Penhaligon brothers and they are eager to have the art collection appraised by her, and the moment she arrives the deja-vu feelings start and she feels an incredible connection with both the house and Kit Penhaligon – it’s as if they already know one another.

I really do love the dual timelines that Kirsty seems to write with ease – the now timeline works so seamlessly with the jaunts back to the past and the characters of Alys , Jago and Zennor also have an intriguing and thrilling story to tell – can lessons be learnt from the past or will history be repeating itself once more?

There’s so much to be uncovered at Pencradoc that Merryn finds herself unable to leave and move on and it was so atmospheric and easy to follow that I didn’t want to leave either!  Loved the sibling rivalry, the ghosts, the drama and the love stories – it made for the perfect mix for a fabulous read!

★★★★★

#BookReview #20booksofsummer Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

The good vibes for reading continues and I’ve now managed to read Book 4 for my #20booksofsummer challenge – and it’s another one from my actual original list! And one from the ‘large’ list too! And it wasn’t as scary or daunting as I feared it would be! I just hope they’re all going to be as good as this one!!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Those Who Are Loved is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.

Themis is part of a family bitterly divided by politics and, as a young woman, her fury with those who have collaborated with the Nazis, drives her to fight for the communists. She is eventually imprisoned on the notorious islands of exile, Makronisos and Trikeri, and has to make a life or death decision. She is proud of having fought, but for the rest of her life is haunted by some of her actions. Forty years after the end of the civil war, she finally achieves catharsis.

Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity of Greece’s traumatic past and weaves it into the dynamic tale of a woman who is both hero and villain, and her lifelong fight for justice.

Published by Headline Publishing Group

480 pages

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £13.58

hive.co.uk  £15.85

whsmith  £14.00

MY REVIEW

An epic historical story that had me totally captivated and in awe of the family and the stories they had to tell of their time in Greece during and after World War II. I was totally unaware of the Greek history before, during and after the war and it was a powerful way to tell the story through the eyes of a family who were living through it.

At the centre of the story is Themis who was a normal woman but lived an extraordinary life. She is looking back on her life and relaying the years that took their toll on all of them. She came from a large Greek family and circumstances meant her grandmother brought her and her siblings up and she allowed them to be their own people but that tore them apart as they all had different political views, much like the country who were torn between support for the Germans or the Allies.

Her life saw her live through the devastation when famine ravaged her homeland, and how desperate times led to desperate measures. She witnessed such devastation close to home that it inpsired her to be very proactive in trying to do whatever she could to help, even to the point of joining the communist army to fight for her people.

She witnesses and is subjected to such horrific treatment when her unit is captured that your heart just goes out to all of them women who were imprisoned, but her faith never faltered and she sets out to right wrongs when she is eventually freed as her only wish is to do the right thing.

I loved how quickly I became caught up in the lives of these people due to the wonderful way that the story is told. Despite being a large book it never felt that way when reading and there was always something going on to keep you fully engaged and often horrified by what people were having to endure. The spirit of people, especially Themis, never fails to amaze and I was in awe of her and the story she had to tell her relatives. Wonderful book!

★★★★★

#BookReview #20booksofsummer Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri

Guess what?! I’ve just read a book for 20 Books of Summer that was on my original list!! It can be done!!  And book #3 was another ‘little’ stunner and one I’m very glad to have finally picked up and read!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Born in Fukushima in 1933, the same year as the Emperor, Kazu’s life is tied by a series of coincidences to Japan’s Imperial family and to one particular spot in Tokyo; the park near Ueno Station – the same place his unquiet spirit now haunts in death. It is here that Kazu’s life in Tokyo began, as a labourer in the run up to the 1964 Olympics, and later where he ended his days, living in the park’s vast homeless ‘villages’, traumatised by the destruction of the 2011 tsunami and enraged by the announcement of the 2020 Olympics.

Akutagawa-award-winning author Yū Miri uses her outsider’s perspective as a Zainichi (Korean-Japanese) writer to craft a novel of utmost importance to this moment, a powerful rebuke to the Imperial system and a sensitive, deeply felt depiction of the lives of Japan’s most vulnerable people

published by Tilted Axis Press

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £9.99

hive.co.uk  £8.75

whsmith  £7.19

MY REVIEW

Beautifully tragic! I think that’s the best way I can sum up this stunning little book that tells the haunting story of Kazu as he looks back over his tough life, his family that he rarely saw because he was always away working to try and get money to live day to day, and how certain events affected their lives and shaped the way he lived.

Set around Ueno park he comments on the sights and sounds he witnesses, the way that the homeless around him are treated, often not seen as humans and just ‘vermin’ to be moved away anytime the Emperor of Japan and his family were in the vicinity. You’re also made well aware of the division between his lifestyle as a homeless person, and those of the visitors to the park with snippets of their snatched conversations and it really makes you sit up and take notice of just how unfair life can be.

He’d been working away from his family from a very young age, his children only saw him twice a year but that bond to his family never faltered and tragedy hit the family which was heartbreaking and the portrayal of grief that hangs over him was captured so eloquently.

This is a book that speaks of the struggles in life, the poverty, the grief, memories, death but in that despair it is the little things he remembers – those lasting moments that brought him some joy albeit fleetingly – and those are forever treasured in his memory.

It’s a beautifully descriptive book – the sights and sounds of Tokyo and surrounding areas are brought so vividly to life – and I think it’s going to be one of those books that will stay with me for a long time.

★★★★