Book Review

Beyond The Yew Tree – Rachel Walkley

Today I join the blog tour for Beyond The Yew Tree by Rachel Walkley. Many thanks to Rachel, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in this tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Whispers in the courtroom.

Only one juror hears them.

Can Laura unravel the truth by the end of the trial?

In an old courtroom, a hissing voice distracts shy juror, Laura, and at night recurring nightmares transport her to a Victorian gaol and the company of a wretched woman.

Although burdened by her own secret guilt, and struggling to form meaningful relationships, Laura isn’t one to give up easily when faced with an extraordinary situation.

The child-like whispers lead Laura to an old prison graveyard, where she teams up with enthusiastic museum curator, Sean. He believes a missing manuscript is the key to understanding her haunting dreams. But nobody knows if it actually exists.

Laura is confronted with the fate of two people – the man in the dock accused of defrauding a charity for the blind, and the restless spirit of a woman hanged over a century ago for murder. If Sean is the companion she needs in her life, will he believe her when she realises that the two mysteries are converging around a long-forgotten child who only Laura can hear?

Ordinary women.

Extraordinary experiences.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Goodreads

Beyond the Yew Tree_eb

REVIEW:

I have a fondness for books with dual timelines, and Beyond the Yew Tree has only added to that.

As always with dual timelines, no matter how much I enjoy the modern parts of the story, it is always the slow unravelling of long forgotten stories and secrets that really capture my imagination. Emma’s tale, however tragic, was fascinating, and offered an insight into the history of a communication method that I had previously never considered, but now am interested to find out more about.

Whilst I will confess to finding the details of the trial and Laura’s experiences as a juror a little less intriguing than the rest of the book, it was touching watching Laura grow as she was pushed out of her comfort zone in every way imaginable. The subtle changes that she goes through amalgamate to create a character who seems much more comfortable in her own skin by the end of the book than she does at the beginning.

As the court case and Laura’s nightmares developed, I loved the delicate way that the puzzle pieces slipped into place, aided by chapters from history, to slowly form a full picture. The resolution, although it did not come as a complete surprise to me, was beautifully developed, and really rather touching.

Beyond the Yew Tree is an enjoyable read that has left me wanting to explore Lincoln’s historic sites for myself.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Beyond The Yew Tree Author PhotoAspiring writer who pens Women’s Fiction and magical tales about family secrets.

What else?

An East Anglian turned Northerner – almost.

Information professional, always.

Biologist, in my memories.

Archivist, when required.

Amateur pianist and flautist.

Reluctant gardener.

Scribbler of pictures.

And forever…. a mother and wife.

Oh, not forgetting, cat lover!

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GIVEAWAY:

Win One copy of The Last Thing She Said or The Woman of Heachley Hall (Open INT)

  • If the winner is in the UK then it will be a print copy, otherwise International winner is e-book.

Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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Book Review

The Walls We Build – Jules Hayes

After helping reveal the lovely cover for The Walls We Build by Jules Hayes a few weeks ago, I can now tell you all my thoughts on the book, as I join the blog tour. Many thanks to Jules, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in the tour and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Three friends … 

Growing up together around Winston Churchill’s estate in Westerham, Kent, Frank, Florence and Hilda are inseparable. But as WW2 casts its menacing shadow, friendships between the three grow complex, and Frank – now employed as Churchill’s bricklayer – makes choices that will haunt him beyond the grave, impacting his grandson’s life too.

Two Secrets …

Shortly after Frank’s death in 2002 Florence writes to Richard, Frank’s grandson, hinting at the darkness hidden within his family. On investigation, disturbing secrets come to light, including a pivotal encounter between Frank and Churchill during the war and the existence of a mysterious relative in a psychiatric hospital.

One Hidden Life … 

How much more does Florence dare reveal about Frank – and herself – and is Richard ready to hear?

Set against the stunning backdrop of Chartwell, Churchill’s country home, comes a tragic story of misguided honour, thwarted love and redemption, reverberating through three generations and nine decades.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Corrigan_The Walls We Build_Ebook

REVIEW:

In all honesty, it was the location of this book that initially caught my eye. I visited Chartwell a couple of years ago, and I fell in love with it. A day’s visit really wasn’t enough, and I am dying to go back. That said, whilst it was the lure of reading more about Churchill and his home that drew me in, I was quickly captivated by the characters and their story.

There are themes in this book that won’t make easy reading for some, and it would be easy to judge the characters for their actions as seen from a modern day perspective. Viewing these actions from the time in history that they took place though, it becomes easier to understand the heartbreaking decisions that were made. The events of the book, however difficult, are handled gently, and in no way feel that they have been included purely for shock value, but more to show how each characters’ own past shapes their future actions.

Despite the fact that Frank is clearly a character who has made some questionable decisions throughout his life, he was still someone who I warmed too, although I suspect this is in part because his journey through the war followed that of my own grandfather. Reading about Frank’s time in the desert gave me a new appreciation of what he would have gone through back then.

Of all the characters, Florence was by far my favourite. She was so full of life and energy, ahead of her time in a lot of ways, and nothing seemed to hold her back, despite of the tragedies that she suffered in her life.

I enjoyed the dual timeline aspect of this book, seeing all the pieces of the puzzle slowly fall into place as long held secrets were revealed. That each character held the key to a different part of the story made it all the more interesting, and meant that in some cases, my initial assessments of characters were flipped on their heads.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

DSC_1027_Sepia_crop1Jules Hayes lives in Berkshire with her husband, daughter and a dog. She has a degree in modern history and holds a particular interest in events and characters from the early 20th century. As a former physiotherapist and trainer – old habits die hard – when not writing Jules likes to run. She also loves to watch films, read good novels and is a voracious consumer of non-fiction too, particularly biographies.

Jules is currently working on her second historical novel, another dual timeline story.

Jules also writes contemporary thriller and speculative fiction as JA Corrigan.

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Writing as JA Corrigan:

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GIVEAWAY:

Win a Signed copy of The Walls We Build (Open INT)

 *Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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Book Review

Empire’s Exile – Marian L Thorpe

Today marks a sad day for me, as I reach the end of the Empire’s Legacy trilogy, and join the blog tour for the final instalment, Empire’s Exile. Many thanks to Marian for providing me with copies of all the books in this fantastic series, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of each of the blog tours.

BLURB:

“We cannot shape the circumstances to fit our lives, only our lives to fit the circumstances. What defines us, as men and women, is how we respond to those circumstances.”

Exiled from the Empire as a traitor, Casyn’s words echo in Lena’s mind. Determined to find Casil, the legendary city of beauty and learning, she travels into long-unknown lands. Her experiences in the first winter leave her scarred and afraid, but resolving to heal, and supported by an unexpected love, she continues her search. A chance meeting with envoys from the Empire and Linrathe, desperately seeking help from Casil, forces her to a difficult decision. Struggling to keep faith with her choices, facing the almost-certain destruction of her land and her people, Lena’s journey takes her to a deeper understanding of loyalty, sacrifice, and the dimensions of love.

You can purchase your copy of the book here.

Empires_Exile_Cover_for_Kindle

REVIEW:

As many of you will already know, I enjoyed the first two books of the Empire’s Legacy trilogy, Empire’s Daughter and Empire’s Hostage, enormously, so it is no small thing for me to announce that Empire’s Exile is my runaway favourite of all three. The familiarity of the characters combined with their being in entirely alien circumstances meant that I could enjoy the comfort of being amongst old friends, whilst being swept away on a brand new adventure.

I loved witnessing the slow development of Lena and Cillian’s friendship and found myself desperate to speed ahead to see if they get the ending that I hoped for. Seeing their interactions with the communities they encountered over the course of their exile, and how they were changed by the new relationships that were forged made for absolutely fascinating reading, as once again Marian succeeds in creating numerous unique societies each with their own rules and customs.

As the story progressed and the characters I have grown to love were forced to take separate pathways, I found myself torn between being entirely engrossed by the book, and the nagging sensation of needing to know just what was going on with the other characters. At times, it was quite torturous not knowing if I would ever see them again.

Empire’s Exile draws the trilogy to a close beautifully, although I do feel that I need to have words with Marian about the heart-stopping conclusion! I may never be the same again!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Empires Hostage AuthorNot content with two careers as a research scientist and an educator, Marian L Thorpe decided to go back to what she’d always wanted to do and be a writer. Author of the alternative world medieval trilogy Empire’s Legacy, Marian also has published short stories and poetry. Her life-long interest in Roman and post-Roman European history informs her novels, while her avocations of landscape archaeology and birding provide background to her settings.

 

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GIVEAWAY:

Win a Paperback copy of Empire’s Legacy, the complete trilogy (Open Internationally)

Empires Legacy ebook

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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Book Review

Tooth & Blade – Julian Barr

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the historical fantasy series, Tooth & Blade, by Julian Barr. Many thanks to Julian, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Parts 1-3 of the legendary TOOTH AND BLADE series together for the first time!

Two worlds. One destiny.

Dóta has dwelled sixteen years among the trolls. She knows nothing but the darkness of her family’s cave. Her mother says humans are beasts who would slay them all. Yet the gods of Asgard whisper in the night: Dóta is a child of men, a monster unto monsters.

To discover her human side, Dóta must take up her bone knife and step into the light above. Secrets await her in the human realm—beauty, terror, the love of a princess.

Soon Dóta must choose between her clan and humankind, or both worlds will be devoured in fire and war.

A monster sheds no tears.

Norse mythology meets historical fantasy in TOOTH AND BLADE. Step into a realm of haunted meres, iron and magic.

Tooth_and_Blade_Kindle

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

Originally published as three separate novellas, the fact that I found myself in possession of all three in the one book made me a very happy book blogger because it meant there was no frantic scramble to find the next book as I reached the end of each novella. Whilst it was the lure of Norse mythology that drew me to this book, it was the author’s exacting attention to detail that kept me reading. Dóta’s discovery of the world outside her cave is almost childlike in nature, filled with little touches of things that Dóta would not have known how to do – simple things such as dressing herself and eating with a spoon, that it would never have occurred to me to include added a wonderful realistic quality to the story, and made her a joy to get to know.

I loved that each character went through their own journey as the story unfolded. Although it was largely Dóta’s story, no character was neglected or left on the sidelines, and each captured my interest in a different way. Even Modor, who as Grethor’s mother I realistically expected to be as much as a monster as he was, deep down I wanted to discover that she loved Dóta, and that she was good. I swung back and forth on this a few times, and I will leave you to discover her story for yourselves.

Throughout the book, there is a brutality to the way the characters’ lives are led, almost as though bloodshed and death are expected, almost run of the mill, but at the same time there is a depth of emotion that took me somewhat by surprise.

Although there are nods to Norse mythology throughout, the world of Tooth & Blade is very much of Julian Barr’s own creation. I am very much looking forward to discovering his other work.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Julian Barr author photoJulian Barr first fell in love with all things ancient and magical in childhood, when he staged his own version of I, Claudius using sock puppets. After his PhD in Classics, he did a brief stint as a schoolteacher, hated being called ‘sir,’ and dived into storytelling. Although he remains open to the possibilities of sock puppet theatre, historical fantasy is his passion. He has published scholarly research on Roman medicine and the gastronomic habits of Centaurs, but prefers to think of himself as an itinerant bard. He is also the author of the Ashes of Olympus trilogy.

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Book Review

Esme’s Wish – Elizabeth Foster

Today I am joining the blog tour for Esme’s Wish, the Middle Grade/YA magical realism book by Elizabeth Foster. Many thanks to Elizabeth, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

A warm-hearted, whimsical fantasy tale, with lashings of mystery, magic, and mythology, and prose that ‘flows like water.’ Prepare to fall in love with Esperance! 

 When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?
 
But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.
 
After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about Ariane, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.

“A fresh new fantasy, of an enchanting world.” – Wendy Orr, New York Times best selling author of Nim’s Island.

 This inventive tale, the first in an MG-to-YA series, is an ideal read for 10-14 year olds.

Esme’s Wish recently won first place in the fantasy category of the 2018 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, which recognises excellence in children’s literature.

Esme's Wish cover[2]

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

Mythical creatures, magical powers, a search for a lost love one and a mission to save a strange world – these are all the things that, in my opinion, are vital for a good fantasy adventure, and Esme’s Wish has these by the bucket load.

From page one, I was drawn to Esme and the pain she was feeling watching her father remarry. Even though I am fortunate in the fact that this is not something I have experienced, I believe this is something that will resonate with a lot of young readers. Add to this Esme’s isolation, both physical and emotional, and you have a heroine who it is impossible not to fall for. Whilst the lighthouse keeper’s cottage sounds like my idea of heaven, I can imaging that as a teenager I would have found it very lonely.

Elizabeth Foster’s description of the remote point where Esme lived, and the deserted island of Spindrift are so atmospheric that as I was reading about them, I couldn’t think of anywhere I would rather visit – that is, until I encountered Esperance. Even though it has it’s troubles, the community was so warm and welcoming, and the town itself so full of wonder, it made me wish this was somewhere I could visit myself. It was just everything that had been missing from Esme’s life since her mother’s disappearance, and it really warmed the heart.

The adventure and mystery that unfolded throughout the book was perfectly paced to keep you reading, but still have time to appreciate all the new sights and sounds, and enjoy the discovery of new creatures. The different levels of adventure and exploration mean this is a book that can be enjoyed by all ages. Personally I can’t wait to visit Esperance again in the next book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A-Elizabeth Foster Hi Res 06 (1)I read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago when reading to my own kids reminded me how much I missed getting lost in other worlds. It’s never too late to find and follow your passion! I now have two books published and am about to start writing the third and final story in the Esme series.  My home base is Sydney, where I can often be found running (just kidding – walking) by the water, or scribbling in cafés.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win 3 x pairs of e-books Esme’s Wish & Esme’s Gift (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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Book Review

Unborn – Rachel McLean

It is a privilege to welcome Rachel McLean back to my blog today as I review her latest thought-provoking book, Unborn. Many thanks to Rachel, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of this tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

She killed her unborn child. The punishment will fit the crime.

America, 2026.
Feminism has been defeated.
Equality is a memory.
And abortion has been criminalized.

Three women find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Kate, carrying the child of a sexual predator.
Grace, whose baby will be born with a fatal deformity.
And Cindee: abused, abandoned and pregnant.

Can these three very different women come together to fight an oppressive system and win their freedom?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Unborn cover

REVIEW:

Having read many of Rachel’s books before (I think I was up to seven at last count), I really should know better by now than to start reading her newest book at 11:30 at night. I really am my own worst enemy. It was 2:00 in the morning before I put my light out, having devoured the entire book in one sitting.

From reading the synopsis, I knew this would be a challenging book to read, being just that little bit too close to reality to be comfortable. It is an even more challenging book to review without getting on my soapbox about a woman’s right to choose.

Each of the women we meet in Unborn has a different, but equally heartbreaking, reason for wanting to terminate their pregnancy, and as we get to know each of them, their suffering caused by the introduction of new laws becomes almost tangible. Their treatment at the prison they found themselves in, and the terms of their “punishment” really made my skin crawl at times. The fact that these new laws and the rights of women are so vastly different to what we live with today, and yet the book is set just six years into the future just added to the whole feeling of unease that this book gave me.

I realise reading back over this review that it might appear that I didn’t enjoy this book, but this couldn’t be further from the truth, if you can use the word enjoy to describe a book that makes you itch with discomfort. Rachel’s books never shy away from the important issues, regardless of how uncomfortable they are to write about. They force you to face the issues that you would probably rather brush under the carpet and forget about, and in this Unborn is no different to her previous books.

If you haven’t already discovered Rachel’s books, I urge you to go out and buy them all now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

rachel mcleanMy name’s Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think.

What does that mean?

In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.

Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen?

My books aim to fill that gap.

If you’d like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub. I’ll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I’ll let you know when my books are on offer.

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Book Review

The Guest List – Lucy Foley

I am thrilled to be helping kick off the blog tour for The Guest List by Lucy Foley. Many thanks to Lucy, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Blog Tours, for inviting me to be a part of the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Another murder. Another mystery.

Guests are called to a remote island off the Irish coast to celebrate the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules and Will. Everything has been meticulously planned, the scene is set, old friends are back together.

It should be the perfect day.

Until the discovery of a body signals the perfect murder.

A groom with a secret.

A bridesmaid with a grudge.

A plus one with motive.

A best man with a past.

It could be any, it could be all . . . But one guest won’t make it out alive. 

The Guest List Cover

PRAISE FOR THE GUEST LIST

‘It grabs you from the off and keeps you guessing until the very end. A genuine treat of a read.’ Lisa Howells, Heat

“Both a classic whodunnit and a very contemporary psychological thriller that left me guessing right to the end – a wonderful read.’ Kate Mosse

‘Great fun. Lucy Foley is really very clever.’ Anthony Horowitz

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon

Waterstones

REVIEW:

I read The Hunting Party last year, and wasn’t sure if Lucy Foley would be able to top it. I mean, once you’ve written a thriller set in the eerie surrounds of a hunting lodge cut off from the rest of the world by snow, where do you go next? The answer, an isolated island filled with its own dangers in the middle of a raging storm. I was instantly put in mind of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and as I started reading, I was already on edge about what was to come.

The author’s style of writing, using multiple points of view, and not only keeping the killer’s identity a closely guarded secret, but also not revealing who the victim is, really builds tension. There is a simmering undercurrent of secrets and lies throughout, and as the storms grows in intensity so too do the revelations that slowly come to light. The storm feels like a character in its own right, making the whole situation feel increasingly ominous.

As the book progressed, I did have my suspicions about who the victim was going to be, although I did change my mind on a couple of occasions. Even as I became more sure about this though, it was still impossible to settle on who the killer might be. The interwoven lives and histories of each of the characters created a story full of unexpected developments, and every time I thought I was making progress in figuring everything out, something else happened to turn my thoughts on their head.

I read this book in one sitting, and I was a scrunched up ball of tension throughout! I love Lucy’s writing and can’t wait for her next book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lucy Foley Author PicLucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party, an instant Sunday Times and Irish Times no.1 bestseller, was Lucy’s debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination. Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more.

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