Thursday 28 February 2013

Review ~ The Miracle at St Bruno's by Philippa Carr

The Miracle at St. Bruno's (Daughters of England, #1)
Published February 19th 2013 by Open Road (first published January 1st 1974)

The Miracle at St Bruno's 


Philippa Carr

The first book in Philippa Carr’s celebrated Daughters of Englandseries is at once a love story, a mystery, and an epic historical saga set during the tumultuous reign of Henry VIII.

In The Miracle at St Bruno’s, which is set during the turbulent reign of Henry VIII, Damask Farland is the cosseted daughter, protected and cherished by her parents. She grows up in a loving environment, slightly removed from the machinations of court life. Running alongside the story of domestic life in the mid-1500’s, is the story of Bruno, an abandoned child brought up in the cloistered environs of St Bruno’s Abbey, whose interwoven history will have repercussions, not just on those who live in the Abbey as Henry VIII sets out to destroy the Abbey’s wealth, but also on the Farland family.

I first read this book shortly after its first publication in 1974, I was then in my mid teens and devouring romantic historical fiction almost as fast as the books were published. Philippa Carr, Victoria Holt, aka as Jean Plaidy were amongst my favourite historical authors, so it was with this in mind, I picked up a copy of this reissued first book in the Daughter of England series, in the hope that their appeal would be everlasting. Maybe my perception of historical romance has altered with the passage of time, as sadly for me the appeal seems to have been lost. Overall, I found the story rather laboured, with little really happening for the first third of the story. However, there is no denying that the book has been well researched, and to some extent manages to capture the heady and challenging days of Tudor England with some unexpected twists and turns in the story, which add interest.

 My thanks to NetGalley and Open Road for an ecopy of this book.

 About the aAuthor

Eleanor Alice Burford, Mrs. George Percival Hibbert was a British author of about 200 historical novels, most of them under the pen name Jean Plaidy which had sold 14 million copies by the time of her death. She chose to use various names because of the differences in subject matter between her books; the best-known, apart from Plaidy, are Victoria Holt  and Philippa Carr.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Wishlist Wednesday...

I am delighted to be part of wishlist Wednesday which is hosted by Dani at pen to paper

The idea is to post about one book each week that has been on your wishlist for some time, or maybe just added.

So what do you need to do to join in?

Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.

Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.

Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.

Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of her post.

Put a link back to pen to paper ( somewhere in your post.

Once Upon a River
W. W. Norton & Co. (13 Mar 2013)

Book Blurb

Bonnie Jo Campbell has created an unforgettable heroine in sixteen-year-old Margo Crane, a beauty whose unflinching gaze and uncanny ability with a rifle have not made her life any easier. After the violent death of her father, in which she is complicit, Margo takes to the Stark River in her boat, with only a few supplies and a biography of Annie Oakley, in search of her vanished mother. But the river, Margo's childhood paradise, is a dangerous place for a young woman travelling alone, and she must be strong to survive, using her knowledge of the natural world and her ability to look unsparingly into the hearts of those around her. Her river odyssey through rural Michigan becomes a defining journey, one that leads her beyond self-preservation and to the decision of what price she is willing to pay for her choices.

There is something about the thought of this book which is strangely appealing, and I am looking forward to adding it to my book shelf soon.

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Review - Blood Sisters by Sarah Gristwood

Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses

Blood Sisters


The War of the Roses shook the very foundations of England, when cousin armed against cousin, fought for power in a domestic drama on a grand scale. The ruling Plantagenets had two warring factions; the House of Lancaster and the House of York, both had equal and valid claims to the English throne as descendants of Edward III. Taking their symbols as red and white roses, the royal houses of Lancaster and York not only divided their family, but also alienated England.

Generally overlooked by their more war worthy male counterparts, the women behind the men who fought in this protracted dispute, have a fascination all of their own. Undertaking a history of the women behind the Wars of the Roses is no mean feat, and yet in this factual account, Sarah Gristwood has done an admirable job in explaining the complexities of family politics, and shows how the cousins and their wives were interlinked both by birth and by dynastic marriage.

Easy to read in manageable sections, and with extraordinary insight into the time, Blood Sisters is a fascinating account of a troubled period in England’s complex history. In explaining the precarious position of the Plantagenet families and more especially in the role the Plantagenet women played in this remarkable game of thrones, only adds credence to the myth that behind every strong man, is an equally strong and courageous woman.

Published February 26th 2013 by Basic Books (first published September 1st 2012)

 My thanks to NetGalley and Basic books for an e-copy of this book to review

Monday 25 February 2013

Review - Paulina Annenkova by Catherine Weir

Paulina Annenkova
Kingston Books


When Ivan Annenkov, an upper-class guards officer,  is caught up in the Decembrist uprising in Russia in 1825 and convicted of treason, his lover, Paulina Gueble faces the agonising decision to either follow him to a Siberian prison camp, or face life without him. What then follows is a story, based on fact, which with honesty and compassion, shows that even in the bleakest of situations love can overcome adversity.

From the opulence of the Russian Imperial court, to the cruel majesty of the Siberian steppes, the story quite simply flies off the page. The harshness of the environment and the agonising dilemma faced by the central characters is shown in such exquisite detail, that as you read, the story unfolds almost cinematically in your mind, and as you sense the brutal cold and hear the clink of the manacles which lock the prisoners to their fate, you truly imagine that you are there.

There is no doubt that Catherine Weir has a great skill for storytelling, and in using her impeccable knowledge of Russia, she has created a dramatic and enduring story, not just of star-crossed lovers, but also of a country on the brink of revolution.


My thanks to Lovereading for a review copy of this book.

Sunday 24 February 2013

Review ~ The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

The River of No Return
Michael Joseph
May 2013

The River of No Return


“A story of love and time travel”

It’s 1812, and on a battlefield in Spain, Lord Nicholas Falcott is about to be run through by a French Dragoon, when suddenly he disappears, and jumps forward in time two hundred years. Mysteriously managed by an organisation known quite simply as The Guild, Nicholas is told that he can no longer go back to his own time, and he must tell no-one what has happened to him. What then follows is an unusual and inventive look at time travel, and how it affects those whose lives have been disordered by the manipulation of time.

Initially, the book gets off to a slow start, the first hundred or so pages appear a little ponderous as much of the narrative is concerned with the notion of time travel, but once the concept is grasped and the story starts to evolve in a more structured way, The River of No Return becomes quite fascinating reading and a real page turner. I enjoyed the historical elements of the story; the Regency era is particularly well done and whilst this remains central to the story, the futuristic elements contribute equal fascination.

Combining science fiction, with historical fiction is not an easy feat to pull off, and yet Bee Ridgway has succeeded admirably in this, her debut novel. I look forward to following her writing career with interest.


My thanks to Real Readers for a review copy of this book

Friday 22 February 2013

Friday Recommends...

The Rosie Project
Michale Joseph
April 11 2013
 The Rosie Project


Graeme Simsion

Don Tillman, by his own admission, is a bit of an oddball. He likes his life to be structured and organised, so when he sets out on the quest to find a suitable life partner, he uses his skill as a professor of genetics to construct a sixteen-page scientifically produced document with the intention of finding the perfect partner. When Rosie Jarman enters Don’s life, she is everything that Don dislikes about women, she certainly doesn't fulfil the criteria of his questionnaire, but when she enlists his help in searching out her real father, Don finds himself drawn into the quest which becomes known as The Rosie Project.

From the beginning of the novel it is implied that Don has some form of autism, he’s like the proverbial round peg in a square hole, fiercely intelligent and strangely captivating, and yet when Rosie turns his life upside down, there is an observed sensitivity about Don, which is as charming as it is poignant.
Overall, I thought that the book was really nicely done; the story was easy to read, with a warm and witty dialogue which had me laughing out loud in places, and yet there was an underlying compassion which revealed Don’s inner sensitivity. I thought Rosie was a great character, she’s quirky, completely off the wall at times, but the interaction between her and Don is lovely to observe. 

The Rosie Project is a unique reminder that love comes in many different guises, and with or without a sixteen-page questionnaire, most of us seem to get it right, at least once.


My thanks to Real Readers for an Advance Reading Copy of this book.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Wishlist Wednesday...

I am delighted to be part of wishlist Wednesday which is hosted by Dani at pen to paper

The idea is to post about one book each week that has been on your wishlist for some time, or maybe just added.

So what do you need to do to join in?

Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.

Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.

Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.

Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of her post.

Put a link back to pen to paper ( somewhere in your post.

The Heretics (John Shakespeare, Book 5)


Rory Clements

John Murray (28 Feb 2013)


England may have survived the Armada threat of 1588, but when Spanish galleys land troops in Cornwall on a lightning raid seven years later, is it a dry-run for a new invasion? Or is there, perhaps, a more sinister motive? The Queen is speechless with rage. But as intelligencer John Shakespeare tries to get a grip on events, one by one his network of spies is horribly murdered. What has all this to do with Thomasyn Jade, a girl driven to the edge of madness by the foul rituals of exorcism? And what is the link to a group of priests held prisoner in bleak Wisbech Castle?

From the pain-wracked torture rooms of the Inquisition in Seville to the marshy wastes of fenland, from the wild coasts of Cornwall to the sweat and sawdust of the Elizabethan playhouses, and from the condemned cell at Newgate to the devilish fantasies of a fanatic, THE HERETICS builds to a terrifying climax that threatens the life of the Queen herself.

I've been a huge fan of this series of books since Rory Clements first novel to feature John Shakespeare, Martyr, came to my notice in 2009. Since then I have gone on to read each successive story, only to find that they get better and better.

I still have Traitor to read which is book 4, but am relieved to know that Book 5 isn't too far away !

**Whenever I read these books I think of my lovely book friend Elaine, who was a real fan of the series and we shared copies of these books and had great discussions about the merits of John Shakespeare.

I miss your book chat, lovely lady.**

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Review - A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri

A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea
Allen & Unwin
4 April 2013

A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea 


Dina Nayeri

Post-revolutionary Iran in the 1980s is not a place to be taken lightly, and as eleven year old Saba Hafezi tries to come to terms with devastating loss, she finds reassurance in contraband copies of western books and music. Living alone with her father, Saba struggles with the limited choices that are open to her, but with remarkable spirit and a refusal to conform she learns how to draw a protective shield of make- believe around the limitations of her life.

At times A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea is a difficult book to read, but Dina Nayeri has written a narrative of such convincing honesty that only someone who is intimately familiar with this way of life could have written with spellbinding accuracy about a regime which treated its women as commodities to be bartered and sold. And even as you rail against the politics which keep women very firmly in their place, there is much comfort to be found in the warmth of shared friendship and a sense of sisterhood pervades even in the darkest of circumstances.

Rich in the tradition of Eastern storytelling, the story unfolds so softly, that even as you gather the chador closely around you, and with the scent of opium and hashish lingering in the air, you can sense the shadows of the bold and courageous women who simply tried to make their voices heard, and even as their bravery leaves an indelible stain on your heart, you remember that “A beautiful girl always manages to break some rule.”

My thanks to for a review copy of this book.

Monday 18 February 2013

Review ~ Lucia on Holiday by Guy Fraser- Sampson

Lucia On Holiday
Elliot & Thompson Ltd
March 2012

Lucia on Holiday


Guy Fraser-Sampson

The beloved E. F Benson’s, Mapp & Lucia series of stories has been recreated by Guy Fraser-Sampson in this new rendition, and is based on the enduring character partnership between arch rivals Emmeline Lucas and Elizabeth Mapp-Flint. In Lucia on Holiday, the social satire continues with a wry look at the English abroad, which is largely overshadowed by the rivalry which exists between the two main protagonists.

I am a newcomer to this series of stories, and so I enter into the discussion with no preconception of how the story should or should not flow, or indeed whether the essence of characterisation has been sustained, however, what I can deduce from reading the story is that the dialogue is both witty and stylised, and quirkily reminiscent of a bygone era. The larger than life characters, comparable at times to the farcical nature of P. G Wodehouse, kept me completely entertained. The droll humour is quite refreshing, and I found myself laughing out loud at the social commentary, which is wryly observed.

It is never easy to take on the mantle of a much beloved series, and I am sure that the Benson enthusiasts will be slightly more critical of this attempt to recreate a master’s work, but if like me you are a new recruit to this writing genre, then you may well be encouraged to simply enjoy Lucia on Holiday as a well written and amusing social satire.


My thanks to for a review copy of this book.

Friday 15 February 2013

Friday Recommends...

The Firebird
ALLISON & BUSBY (28 Jan 2013)


Nicola Marter has the unique ability to be able to hold an object and see into its past. This exceptional gift is something that in her professional life in London, as a Russian antiquities dealer, she attempts to hide, but when she is allowed to touch a beautiful wooden carving of a Russian firebird she is instantly aware of the history surrounding it. Nicola’s boss Sebastian convinces the seller of the firebird that it is worthless, but Nicola realising how precious the firebird is to the seller, is determined to find out more about its history. Travelling to Scotland, Nicola recruits the help of her friend, Rob McMorran, who also has this special psychic gift, and together they set out on a quest, which will take them from Scotland, to Belgium and finally, to St Petersburg in Russia.

There is not a single minute of wasted reading time in this book as the story line is compelling. The dual time narrative is seamless and captivates throughout in a story which is rich in emotion and strong on historical detail. There is no doubt that Susanna Kearsley is a master story teller, her ability to weave written magic is present in every word of her dialogue and in the way in which she effortlessly crosses time to create an unshakeable emotional bond with all her characters.

The added inclusion of references to a couple of her previous novels, adds a nice touch of continuity, but it’s really not essential to have read either The Shadowy Horses or Sophia’s Secret, as The Firebird is more than capable of standing alone.

I have now read all of Susanna Kearsley’s books to date and without doubt The Firebird is one of my favourites.

5 *****

Thursday 14 February 2013

Valentine's Day...

Happy Valentine's Day

Here are my favourite Fictional Romantic Couples

Jamie and Claire Fraser from Cross Stitch

Cross Stitch (Outlander 1)

Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind

Esther Summerson and Alan Woodcourt from Bleak House

Bleak House

Oliver Barrett IV and Jenny Cavalleri from Love Story 

Love Story

Gabriel Oak and Bathsheba Everdene from Far from the Madding Crowd. 

Far from the Madding Crowd

Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones Diary

Bridget Jones's Diary

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Wishlist Wednesday...

I am delighted to be part of wishlist Wednesday which is hosted by Dani at pen to paper

The idea is to post about one book each week that has been on your wishlist for some time, or maybe just added.

So what do you need to do to join in?

Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.

Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.

Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.

Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of her post.

Put a link back to pen to paper ( somewhere in your post.

The Shadow Prince


Terence Morgan

The Shadow Prince
Published 2013

From Goodreads

Perkin Warbeck is an ordinary young man in fifteenth-century Tournai. The son of a port official, he loves nothing more than swimming, singing and fishing with his father. But Perkin has a secret. His real name is Richard, and he is the rightful Prince of England. Thought to have been murdered with his brother, Edward, in the Tower of London, he was covertly taken to the continent and placed with an adoptive family under an assumed identity. But when his enemies seek him out he must flee, and embarks on a new life of derring-do, sailing the high seas with the era's greatest adventurers. But Richard cannot avoid his fate forever. He knows he must return to England, to assume the throne that is his birthright. But what for Richard is a homecoming, for the new king, Henry Tudor, is nothing less than an invasion, and 'Perkin' slowly comes to learn that the price of his goal is the blood of innocent men.

 Based on painstaking research, and peopled by some of the most extraordinary characters of an extraordinary period, Perkin's tale is a vivid, authentic, and hugely entertaining historical adventure.

Terence Morgan is also the author of

The Master of Bruges

The Master of Bruges

A love story and political thriller full of exquisite descriptions of 15th century London, this tale is based on the life of one of Europe's most brilliant and enigmatic painters who found himself at the heart of a political storm

Master painter Hans Memling is without peer in the artistic world of 15th-century Bruges. But when he falls in love with the Princess Marie, daughter of his powerful patron, the Duke of Burgundy, his life begins to unravel. Made reckless by his passion for Marie, Hans accepts an invitation to visit old allies in London. But there he will find himself plunged into the final stages of the War of the Roses and embroiled in one of the greatest political mysteries of all time, as he plays a crucial role in the fate of the Princes in the Tower.

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Review ~ Little Exiles by Robert Dinsdale

Little Exiles
Harper Collins
28 February 2013
Little Exiles


Robert Dinsdale

“ It is proposed that the commonwealth seek out in Britain, by whatever means necessary, at least 17,000 children a year suitable and available for immediate migration to Australia.”

Arthur Calwell

Australian Minister for Immigration , 1949

Leeds, Christmas 1948, and nine year old Jon Heather anxiously awaits his father’s return from the war, but times are hard for the Heather family, and even though Jon’s mother tries to hold her family together, she is in desperate circumstances. When she leaves Jon at the Chapeltown Boy’s Home of the Children’s Crusade, she promises to return for him in two months time, but as weeks pass with no news of his mother, Jon like all the other abandoned boys at the Children’s crusade must watch and wait and hope for a better future. What then follows, is a harrowing story of the forced migration of orphan and abandoned children, who were sent from England to Australia, ostensibly to a land filled with promise and great opportunity.

Based on fact, this fictional story is graphic in its depiction of what happened to the children once they reached Australia, and although at times it makes for uncomfortable reading, there is an overwhelming urge to continue with the story, in the hope that life will get better for them in this land of plenty. Jon is a spirited and reliable narrator, and throughout his story, I was reminded of Victorian Gothic novels, were orphans were exploited and used abominably, and then I had to forcibly remind myself that this story was far from Gothic, and had only happened within the last sixty or so years.

Beautifully written, the author Robert Dinsdale has a real flair for storytelling and despite the burden of sadness which pervades in Little Exiles, there is also a story of friendship, loyalty and the eventual realisation that home is wherever you can find it.

I am sure that this book will be featured on many a book group’s to be read list. Within it there is much to discuss, and more importantly, so much that remains with you long after the book is finished.

5 *****

My thanks to Newbooks for a review copy of this book. 

Saturday 9 February 2013

Review ~ The Fatal Crown by Ellen Jones

The Fatal Crown
Open Road (29 Jan 2013)
The Fatal Crown


Ellen Jones

The political alliances formed in the aftermath of the conquest of England in 1066 had repercussions for generations and the rulers in twelfth century Europe are depicted as a scheming combination of political aspiration and ruthless ambition. Caught in the middle are two royal heirs to the English crown, whose supporters will bring England to civil war in the fight for supremacy.

In A Fatal Crown, Ellen Jones has woven the historically accurate story of the fight for power between Maud, daughter of King Henry I, and her cousin Stephen of Blois, and has created a story of illicit passion, and royal subterfuge. I am not sure that there is any historical evidence to suggest that Maud and Stephen ever embarked on an illicit love affair, and yet within the context of this story it works well and ultimately offers a more romantic version of what after all was a supreme power struggle.

If you are upset by slight variations in history then this book is not for you, but if you want a lively historical romp with a smattering of sex and romance then you won’t be disappointed.

Originally published in 1991, the book is now republished with new and more appealing cover art. It continues to be a fascinating and sensuous account of this troubled period in English history.

My thanks to NetGalley and Open Road for an e copy of this book to review.

Friday 8 February 2013

Friday Recommends

Queen's Gambit
Michael Joseph (14 Mar 2013)

Queen's Gambit


When faced with the terrifying prospect of being the sixth wife of King Henry VIII, Katherine Parr was justified in being apprehensive; after all, Henry's previous marriages hadn't exactly fared well. However, she quickly realises that refusing a King's marriage proposal is tantamount to treason, and as she turns her back on a passionate involvement with the charismatic Thomas Seymour, she resigns herself to becoming the helpmate of an irascible and awkward old man. With great skill, Elizabeth Fremantle has provided a vivid portrait of the latter years of Henry’s reign and a real sense of history pervades the story as it charts the challenging years of Katherine’s marriage to an ageing and increasingly volatile Henry. Katherine Parr has always been overshadowed by the sexier and altogether more robust catalogue of Henry’s ex wives, and yet in Queen's Gambit, it is easy to see just how this intelligent and thoughtful queen managed to hold together all the pieces of Henry’s fragmented life. Katherine’s determination to involve Henry’s lost and lonely children in some semblance of family life is commendable; however, it is her religious fervour which will prove to be her Achilles heel.

The story abounds with Tudor skulduggery, and takes us effortlessly from the domestic arrangements of a royal court on the move, to the intrigue of political and religious obsession. The ever present threat of danger is never too far away and a real sense of foreboding pervades as Katherine attempts to manage Henry whose capricious nature often reveals a terrifying split personality. The historical figures that flit into and out of court life are extremely well managed and the inclusion of an extensive character list at the end of the book helps to put them all into context

Beautifully written, and finely observed throughout, Queen's Gambit soon becomes a real page turner. Elizabeth Fremantle is without doubt a major new talent in historical fiction writing.

This is a real treat for fans of historical fiction.


My thanks to Newbooks, Real Readers, NetGalley and Penguin Books Ltd for a review copy of this book.

Alternative cover

Thursday 7 February 2013

Guest Author ~Ruth Mancini

Guest Author

I am delighted to introduce  Ruth Mancini

Photograph courtesy of the author

Ruth is the talented author of Swimming Upstream 

Swimming Upstream (18 Oct 2012)
Ruth Mancini; 1. edition (15 Nov 2012)
Swimming Upstream is available in paperback and on Kindle

Swimming Upstream is a life-affirming and often humorous story about a young woman’s pursuit of happiness. Set in the early 1990s in Cambridge and London, it is also a story of friendship, love and divided loyalties – and the moral choices that Lizzie ultimately faces, when the chips are down.

Ruth, welcome to Jafffareadsoo and thank you for being our guest author today.

What inspired you to become an author? 

I have always been an avid reader. I wrote my first (unpublished!) book when I was 9.

Where did you get the inspiration for Swimming Upstream? 
I wrote “Swimming Upstream” after a painful relationship break up when issues from my own past came rearing up to haunt me. I wanted to read something similar, to know that someone had been through what I had and survived. I read some self-help books, but couldn’t find a novel that had issues that I could relate to. So I decided to write one. But I also wanted to write a story with lots of drama. I love psychological thrillers so wanted to create a story that had some of that aspect to it too.

Do you write stories for yourself, or other people?

Both. I love writing because I enjoy the creative process, but I also write for women like me, basically, who are anywhere between 17 – 77! I write for anyone who has loved and lost, who has battled with life, who has ever felt low, tired and alone. Or who just wants an interesting story to read!

Do you have a special place to do your writing?

No. I share a computer with my children! We now have two computers in our small study so that I get a look-in when we are all at home.

Can you tell us what are you writing next?

I have an idea for my next novel but I haven’t started it yet. I am writing regular blog posts for my website though.

Which writers have inspired you?

Anne Tyler, Jane Smiley, Harper Lee, Nick Hornby, Elizabeth Gilbert, to name but a few…

And finally for fun..If you could invite three authors to your dinner table, who would you choose and why?

That’s so difficult!

If I was in the mood for a deep, interesting conversation then probably Dr Raj Persaud, Khaled Hosseini and Alain de Botton. 

If I wanted a light-hearted fun evening then maybe JoJo Moyes, Nick Hornby and Elizabeth Gilbert! 

Ruth very kindly asked me to read a copy of Swimming Upstream - here are my thoughts.

Lizzie Taylor feels that she has everything she has ever wanted, but when an unexpected road accident forces her to re-evaluate her life, she realises that she is far from happy, and leaving her reasonably settled life in Cambridge behind, she sets off on a journey to London. The book is set in the boom years of the 1990’s, and from the narrative, is it obvious that the author is familiar with both Cambridge and London, and uses her knowledge of this era to good effect. The story is both entertaining and enlightening in equal measure and yet, underneath the humour is a story of self discovery and the realisation that life sometimes turns out very different from the way in which we thought it would.
I found the book easy to read; the narrative flows well and encourages a large amount of emotional investment in the characters, so much so, I really cared about what happened to Lizzie, she could have been someone I once knew. Overall, there is poignancy to the story which tugs at the heart strings and the ending when it comes is well thought out and in keeping with the theme of the story.

As a debut novel, the book has much to commend it, and I hope to be able to read more from this talented author in future novels.

Ruth,  thank you so much for spending time with us, Jaffa and I have loved having you as our guest author today. 

We wish you lots of success with your writing career. 

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Wishlist Wednesday..

 I am delighted to be part of wishlist Wednesday which is hosted by Dani at pen to paper

The idea is to post about one book each week that has been on your wishlist for some time, or maybe just added.

So what do you need to do to join in?

Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.

Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.

Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.

Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of her post.

Put a link back to pen to paper ( somewhere in your post.

Like This, For Ever
Expected Publication 11 April 2013

My wishlist Wednesday choice


Like This For Ever (Lacey Flint #3)


Bright red. Like rose petals. Or rubies. Or balloons. Little red droplets.

Barney knows the killer will strike again soon. The victim will be another boy, just like him. He will drain the body of blood, and leave it on a Thames beach. There will be no clues for detectives Dana Tulloch and Mark Joesbury to find. There will be no warning about who will be next. There will be no good reason for Lacey Flint to become involved ... And no chance that she can stay away.

I first discovered the writing of this talented author in 2009 with the publication of her first novel, Sacrifice. Since then her novels have firmly fixed themselves amongst my favourite of contemporary British crime writers.

Like This For Ever is the third book in the series of crime thrillers which feature detectives Mark Joesbury and Lacey Flint.

Monday 4 February 2013

King Richard III...

Richard III  King of England 1483 -1485

As an avid reader of historical fiction with a particular fondness for books set during the War of the Roses, it is with great interest that I view the news issued today that the finding of  bones during an archaeological dig in a car park in Leicester in 2012 , are "beyond reasonable doubt"  those of King Richard III, the last Plantagenet King who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

Although the skeletal evidence suggests that the king had a curvature deformity of the spine , this is a long way from the maligned portrait depicted by William Shakespeare in his play, Richard III,

" Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York,
And all the clouds that loured upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths,
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments,
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barbed steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamped, and want love’s majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them,—
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun"

King Richard III. Act i. Sc. 1.

Friday 1 February 2013

Friday Recommends..

The Forbidden Queen
Expected Publication 1 March 2013
Harlequin (UK) Mira

The Forbidden Queen


In the aftermath of the Battle of Agincourt, Katherine de Valois is offered as a political pawn in marriage to Henry V of England. The alliance is expedient in uniting France and England, but Henry, the soldier King is more focused on the intricacies of war than on his young, desirable bride. However, Katherine’s role is to provide the stability of a male heir for the English crown, which she does in 1421 when the future Henry VI is born. Following the premature death of Henry V, Katherine is left a widow at 21, and as her tiny son becomes King in name only, Katherine finds herself once more the pawn of ambitious and malicious statesmen. By necessity, as Dowager Queen, Katherine is forced to live circumspectly, and yet her beauty and desirability continue to make her a magnet for unscrupulous matchmaking. When Katherine falls in love with her servant, Owen Tudor, the scandal is enough to shake the foundations of the nation. 

The Forbidden Queen is the story of how a beautiful young woman was manipulated into a loveless marriage, and then forced to live her life in the shadow of powerful men. Katherine’s story draws you in from the very beginning as we rejoice to see her as an innocent bride and gently protective mother, but then grieve as she learns to live her life as a beautiful young widow, but what really brings the novel to life is the way in which this gentle, charismatic Queen was treated by the powerful men who were appointed as the young King’s protectors.

Anne O’Brien has a great skill with words and undoubtedly makes history come alive, so much so, you are easily transported back in time to an age when women were largely seen but not heard, and as the 21st century begins to fade and the echoes of the past resonate within your imagination, you feel the cold of the castle walls and sense Katherine’s unease as she finds herself caught between love and duty.

There is no doubt that history has much to thank Katherine de Valois for, as this largely forgotten queen was not only the mother of a King of England, but was also the grandmother of the Tudor dynasty, in this novel Anne O'Brien more than does justice to a story that needed to be told.

There is no doubt that Anne O'Brien's historical narratives just get better and better, and The Forbidden Queen, is one of my favourite of her novels to date. 

My thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin (UK) for an advance ecopy of this book to read and review.