Tuesday 29 November 2022

📖 Blog Tour ~ Disobedient Women by Sangeeta Mulay



Fly on the Wall Press
25 November 2022

My thanks to Isabelle Kenyon for my copy of the book
and the invitation to the blog tour



Set in contemporary India, Sangeeta Mulay's unforgettable debut novel is a compelling story of four unforgettable characters:

Aparna - a courageous campaigner of rationality and freedom of expression. Will the patriarchal grip of a religious society manage to silence her? 

Hari – the passionate founder of a religious organisation. As Hari becomes a rising star for the local Hindu right-wing, will he lose himself? 

Naseem - Aparna's wise daughter who is discovering her sexuality. Will she have the strength to stand up for her mother against societal stigma? 

Kashi - Hari's daughter who is in love with science and…girls? Confused about her sexuality, will she be able to lead life on her own terms? 

Confronting issues of religion, bigotry, sex and politics, DISOBEDIENT WOMEN tells the interwoven stories of two families and their battle of ideologies. A novel of the choices women make under pressure, where to be disobedient is the only option that offers change.


📖 My Review..

This powerful novel grips from the opening chapter with a chilling incident which really sets the scene for what is to come. Deftly moving back in time we learn just what has brought Aparna Soman to this point in her life. Aparna is an vociferous advocate of freedom of expression and vehemently defends women's rights and it is these outspoken passions which rile those who seek to keep women in their place.

Gradually over the space of the story we learn about the other three main characters who add such an interesting dimension to the story, and in particular that of Hari Sabnis who has a fervent mission to set up his own spiritual organisation in order to bring back the glory of the Hindu religion which he thinks is being irreparably damaged. 

Disobedient Women brings contemporary India to life in a very vibrant and thought provoking way and with each strand of the story we are pulled into a dangerous world of discord and bigotry. Interspersed within the story are snippets from social media accounts and excerpts from newspaper entries. The author writes well, bringing this powerful story to life with intricate detail and with a powerful message about the absolute strength of women which is greater than any perceived weakness.


☕ Best Read with..Potato fritters and hot tea



About the Author

Sangeeta Mulay was born in Pune in India and now currently works in London as a UX writer. She received an honourable mention in the 2021 NYC midnight micro-fiction challenge. Her book for young adults, ‘Savitribai Phule and I’ was a notable book of 2020 for The Bombay Review. She has also had a short story highly commended in the Sydney Hammond short story competition. Another of Mulay’s short stories will be published in a 2022 Fox and Windmill anthology.


Twitter @Groggy_Eyes

@Fly_Press

@kenyon_isabelle




Monday 28 November 2022

🎄Blog Tour ~ Christmas on the Riviera by Jennifer Bohnet

 

Boldwood Books
31 August 2022

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book
and to Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to the blog tour




As a toddler Elodie Jacques was abandoned by her mother and left in the care of her French grandmother, Gabriella in Dartmouth, Devon.

Now 24 years old, Elodie struggles to reconcile the deep anger for the mother she has never since seen.

When Gabriella unexpectedly announces she wants the two of them to spend Christmas and her 70th birthday in her home town of Juan-les-Pins in the South of France Elodie is thrilled.

Gabriella meanwhile has her own ulterior motives for wanting to return after 40 years, a daunting homecoming potentially filled with memories, secrets and recriminations.

With Juan-les-Pins pulsing with lights, decorations and the festive spirit, Christmas promises to be filled with fun. But when Elodie learns there is the possibility that her long absent mother may join them she hides her feelings behind a show of indifference and animosity.

Will there be the reconciliation that Gabriella longs for - or will the spirit of Christmas fail to work its magic?






🎄 My Review...

Over the last couple of dull autumn days I've thoroughly enjoyed spending time in the warmth and sunshine of the South of France with this lovely story and becoming acquainted with Gabriella Jacques, and her granddaughter, Elodie, as they both seek to lay the ghosts of their past.

Returning to Juan-les-Pain after a forty year absence isn't easy for Gabby however, Elodie and the lovely new friends Gabby meets on her arrival to the resort certainly help to make the transition easier. Elodie also has to face the trauma of her own past and the conducive atmosphere of Juan-les-Pain certainly seems to help mend some bridges. Juan-les-Pain becomes another character in the story and I enjoyed exploring the resort and stopping off at the boulangerie for early morning croissants with Elodie, or sharing memories with Gabby as she remembers working in the resort as a young woman.

Christmas on the Riviera is a lovely warm-hearted festive read and although it covers some deep topics it's all done with this author's customary light touch and fine attention to detail. Whilst there is an undoubtedly festive atmosphere, who could fail to want to spend Christmas on the Riviera, it isn't overly done, and I think is easily one of those lovely, light stories you could read at any time of the year.


🍴Best read with...Coquilles St Jacques and a glass of pink champagne






​About the Author






Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 12 women’s fiction titles, including Villa of Sun and Secrets and A Riviera Retreat. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.



Twitter @jenniewriter #ChristmasOnTheRiviera






@BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers @BookandTonic

@rararesources








Wednesday 23 November 2022

📖 Book Review ~ The Drums of War by Michael Ward

 


Sharpe Books
August 2022

Thomas Tallant #3

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

London 1642.

The King has fled London with the drums of war ringing in his ears. Across the country, lines are being drawn and armies raised.

Influential royalist Lady Carlisle switches sides and presses spice trader Thomas Tallant and his partner Elizabeth Seymour into Parliament's service.

Soon Thomas faces double-dealing in his hunt for a lethal hoard of gunpowder hidden on the river, while Elizabeth engages in a race against time to locate a hidden sniper picking off Parliamentary officers at will in the city.

The capital also witnesses a vicious gang of jewel thieves take advantage of the city’s chaos to go on the rampage, smashing homes and shops, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. They hand pick their targets but refrain from selling any of their loot. There are more questions than answers.

When war finally erupts, Elizabeth is caught in the brutalising carnage of Edgehill while Thomas joins the Trained Bands in their defence of the city. As he mans the barricades at Brentford, in a desperate rearguard action to repel Prince Rupert’s surprise attack, he realises the future of London rests in the hands of him and a few hundred troopers.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth believes she has identified the jewel thief and goes underground to trace his hoard.

But all is not as it seems..


📖 My Review ..

In this third book in the Thomas Tallant series of historical adventures we meet again with Tallant and his friend, Elizabeth Seymour, just as England is on the brink of civil war. It’s 1642, King Charles I has been forced out of London and there is much unrest in this changing world as people decide whether to support the Divine Right of the King or the will of Parliament. With the country in disarray and the echoes of civil war getting ever closer Tallant must keep his considerable wits about him as he is thrown headlong into chaos. Elizabeth also faces danger as she investigates a spate of jewel thefts and uses her skill and cunning to keep ahead of her enemies.

The author has developed this series really well and with such a strong sense of history it’s obvious that a great deal of research has gone into making both time and place come vividly to life. Mixing fact with fiction is never easy but Tallant fits comfortably with real historical figures and his first pitched battle at Edgehill in October 1642, and later at Brentford in November is described with a rich awareness of historical detail and with no scrimping on the effects of battle. There’s a definite sense of unease, after all the country was at war with itself, and this comes across in the confusion and disarray as both sides were ill prepared and badly equipped for war.

Whilst it’s possible to read each of the books in this series as standalone adventures there is much to be gained in getting to know Thomas Tallant and Elizabeth Seymour from the start of their friendship as that way their character progression becomes more meaningful and you appreciate just how much historical detail goes into each well written story.

🍷Best read with…a goblet of warmed wine



About the Author




Writing has been central to Mike Ward’s professional life. On graduating from university he became a journalist, working in newspapers and for the BBC. He then went into journalism education, teaching and researching journalism practice before becoming head of the UK’s prestigious Journalism School at UCLan. For the last eight years he has run his own content creation company.



Twitter @mikewardmedia 

@SharpeBooks









Tuesday 22 November 2022

📖 Book Review ~ Gallows Wake by Helen Hollick




Taw River Press
28 September

Sea Witch Voyages #6

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

Where the past haunts the future...

Damage to her mast means Sea Witch has to be repaired, but the nearest shipyard is at Gibraltar. Unfortunately for Captain Jesamiah Acorne, several men he does not want to meet are also there, among them, Captain Edward Vernon of the Royal Navy, who would rather see Jesamiah hang.

Then there is the spy, Richie Tearle, and manipulative Ascham Doone who has dubious plans of his own. Plans that involve Jesamiah, who, beyond unravelling the puzzle of a dead person who may not be dead, has a priority concern regarding the wellbeing of his pregnant wife, the white witch, Tiola.

Forced to sail to England without Jesamiah, Tiola must keep herself and others close to her safe, but memories of the past, and the shadow of the gallows haunt her. Dreams disturb her, like a discordant lament at a wake.

But is this the past calling, or the future?


📖 My Review ...

It's been a while since I shared a sailing vessel with Captain Jesamiah Acorne but absence, they say, makes the heart grow fonder and I am certainly just as enamoured with this swashbuckling captain as I was right at the beginning of this series of historical adventures.

Gallows Wake sees Jesamiah in something of a difficult situation and even as he sends his wife Tiola away for safety you know that there is trouble brewing especially when Jesamiah finds himself aboard a ship, which is not his own, and bound for a destination not of his choosing. As Jesamiah gets drawn deeper and deeper into a melting pot  of intrigue and danger, so his wife, the mystical Tiola, must also find her own way of coping when deadly danger beckons.

Beautifully written with such a wonderful historical authenticity, the atmosphere crackles and jumps with excitement. Everything just feels spot on, whether it be the mysticism, and magic, of white witch Tiola, or maybe drinking strong coffee in a Gibraltan tavern with Jesamiah and the slimy Ascham Doone, or even better, sniffing the salty tang of the sea as the waves roll on by on board the Bonne Chance with Captain Vernon's crew.  One thing is definitely guaranteed, there is never a dull moment for this intrepid couple. 

I won't do the author a disservice by giving away any details of the plot but it's safe to say that Gallows Wake was every bit as daring and exciting as I hoped it would be and certainly being back in the company of  Jesamiah Acorne and his lovely wife, Tiola has been an absolute joy. Gallows Wake is easy to read as a standalone story as the author gives details of some of the back story, however, as with any long running series, it is best to start at the beginning to watch the progression of the characters as they continue to go from strength to strength



🍴Best Read with...a slice of salty gammon and a few mugs of yeasty ale



About the Author






Helen and her family moved from north-east London in January 2013 after finding an eighteenth-century North Devon farmhouse through BBC TV’s popular Escape To The Country show.

First accepted for publication by William Heinemann in 1993 – a week after her fortieth birthday – Helen then became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) with the sequel, Harold the King (US: I Am The Chosen King) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she also writes a pirate-based nautical adventure/fantasy series, The Sea Witch Voyages.


Monday 21 November 2022

📖 Review ~ Christmas Stories from Candlestick Press

 




We all have our own Christmas stories – things that may have happened years ago and that in the telling and retelling have become part of our festive traditions as much as the school nativity play or Rudolph’s red nose.

These entertaining and touching poems encompass all manner of tales. There’s a tipsy step-grandad struggling to carve the turkey, a rediscovered collection of Christmas stamps and a doughty mother leading a troupe of children to cut down a pine tree under cover of dusk:


“I tell my sons these stories in the dark of winter:
our origin myths, borrowed and stolen, a forest
of rootless, ungovernable evergreen trees.”

from ‘Arboreal’ by Linda France

Of course, stories are also where we keep our memories safe, which is why you’ll find moving poems in which times past and departed loved ones are beautifully conjured back into being.

Included is a special edition postcard of the beautiful poem ‘Christmas Present’ by Stephanie Norgate, who was one of the two winners in our ‘Christmas Stories’ competition.

Poems by Abeer Ameer, Panya Banjoko, Kathryn Bevis, Jim Carruth, Linda France, John Freeman, Arjunan Manuelpillai, Helen Mort, Victoria Punch, Kostya Tsolakis, Rory Waterman and Tamar Yoseloff.

Cover illustration by Sarah Young.



📖 My review..

I always look forward to the Christmas poetry publication from Candlestick Press and this year’s collection of Twelve Poems to Tell and Share is particularly beautiful, with a lovely cover, which encapsulates all the wonder of the festive period. This collection contains a bonus postcard with the lovely Christmas Present by Stephanie Norgate who was one of the winners of the Christmas stories competition.

Twelve story poems which all create a lovely Christmas atmosphere, perfectly poised to read one poem on each of the twelve days of festive activity. It’s impossible to single out my favourite as each of the poems have something wonderful to share. 

I found My Father’s Soil by Jim Carruth particularly poignant as it describes that empty chair at the Christmas table, missing the man who shared so much of his carefully tended home grown produce:

Tomorrow, he won’t be at our table
Surrounded by the fruits of all his labours 
To lay out his beloved mash and roast
Watching our sad longing devour it all
His love for us, his loss, his final crop.’

The poem which made me smile was The Homemakers Tale by Rory Waterman

‘God rest ye, merry gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay:
Your wife is making dinner just 
Like every other day -
Watch Gremlins then The Snowman the
The Best Man Holiday.
O tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy 
O tidings of comfort and joy’

There is so much to enjoy in this festive treat and it would make a lovely Christmas gift for anyone who enjoys the festive time and also to send to a poetry loving friend instead of a card at Christmas.





Candlestick Press is an independent publisher based in Nottingham, UK. We’ve been publishing poetry pamphlets since 2008 not only for people who already love poetry, but also for those who will love it but perhaps don’t know that yet. Our ‘instead of a card’ pamphlets make an ideal alternative to a mainstream greetings card and are a small gift in their own right. They have matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message, and are excellent companions on journeys or for a bedtime read. By supporting us, you help an independent press and our supported charities at the same time as treating yourselves, your friends and family to some wonderful poems.



Twitter @poetrycandle






Saturday 19 November 2022

📖 Book Review ~ Of All Faiths and None by Andrew Tweeddale



On Hist Fic Saturday


Let’s go back to …1910



15 September 2022

My thanks to Ben Cameron PR for my copy of the book


In the autumn of 1910 Edwin Lutyens, the renowned architect, receives a letter from Sir Julius Drewe for the commission of a castle on Dartmoor – Castle Drogo. Lutyens’ design for the castle focusses on both the past and the present and reflects Britain, which at that moment is in a state of flux. His daughter, Celia, becomes enamoured with the project dreaming of chivalry and heroism. The following year Edwin Lutyens and his family are invited to a stone laying ceremony at CastleDrogo. Celia meets Sir Julius’ children: Adrian, Christian and Basil.

The novel moves to 1914, and the start of the Great War. Christian Drewe is returning from Austria where he has been working as an artist. Adrian enlists on the day war is declared driven by his sense of duty. Chrisian has reservations as to joining up unconvinced that the war was either necessary or right.

The story moves from the battlefields of France and Flanders and back to London and to Castle Drogo, where the characters are reunited for brief periods. Faith and love are stretched to their limits as each character is affected by the relentless brutality of the war. Of All Faiths & None is the story of a lost generation. It is a novel that focuses on the relationships of the characters until those relationships are shattered. It is a coming-of-age tale and a social commentary on the tragedy of a needless war.


📖 My Review.. 

In 1910, Edward Lutyens is commissioned by Sir Julius Drewe to design a castle on Dartmoor and right from the start of the novel we are there with Lutyens as he creates his design for what will, eventually, become Castle Drogo. However, even as the ideas for Castle Drogo start to take shape war clouds in Europe loom on the horizon and the eventual devastating effects of the Great War will reverberate for both the Luytens and the Drewe families. 

The author writes with such passion and conviction that it is obvious that a great deal of research has gone into the creation of such a complex story. Of All Faiths and None is a wonderfully evocative piece of historical fiction and as time and place blend together perfectly so the story becomes charged with emotion and atmosphere. Written with huge compassion and spanning the momentous years between 1910 and 1918 this story will stay with me for a long time.

I have to admit to knowing nothing at all about Castle Drogo before the start of this well written and empathetic novel. I did, however, do a little bit of internet searching to discover more, and to see images, of the finished 20th century castle for myself.


🥂Best read with…Sole bonne femme and a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé


About the Author


ANDREW TWEEDDALE is a writer, lawyer and chef. He commenced writing Of All Faiths & None in 2004 as an anti-war novel, after visiting Castle Drogo for the first time. It took Andrew 18 years to complete the work. He is currently writing his second novel about the Mau Mau uprising. Andrew lived in Richmond and Kew Gardens for the last 30 years and now divides his time between the UK and Spain.






Friday 18 November 2022

📖 Blog Tour ~ The Shadows of Rutherford House by C E Rose




Hera Books
10 November 2022

My thanks to the author from  my copy of the book
and the invitation to be part of the blog tour

Darkness lies at the heart of this family…

In 1959 Milly starts her new life as a housemaid at Rutherford House, working for the aristocratic Rutherford-Percy clan. Entranced by her new mistress, Vivienne, she becomes deeply embroiled in the household and the keeper of dark secrets the family conceals beneath the mansion’s grand exterior.

In the present day Christie is working as a psychiatric nurse when she meets troubled patient Lillian Percy,Vivienne’s granddaughter and heiress to Rutherford House. They soon bond over the loss of their mothers – Lillian’s died when she was a child; Christie’s mysteriously disappeared over twenty years ago – and Christie finds herself increasingly fascinated by Lillian’s family and their imposing ancestral home.

As Christie learns more about the Rutherford-Percys, she finds a shocking clue that could help her uncover what happened to her own mother. Desperate for answers, Christie puts her job, her family and even her very life on the line. But how much of the truth does she really want to know?


📖 My Review...

There are many hidden secrets in the Rutherford-Percy family and in this multi-layered gothic suspense novel we go deep into the heart of the family to discover just how many dreadful secrets they have hidden away over the years.

When psychiatric nurse, Christie first encounters Lilian Percy they find that they have much in common, both lost their mothers some time ago, and it is this common bond which allows the rapport between them to develop. Lilian’s fear of returning to her childhood home at Rutherford House is palpable and there is obviously something about the haunting echoes of the place which terrify Lilian.

The author writes well, bringing her characters to life with a fine eye for detail and her distinct writing style brings each generation of the Rutherford-Percy family to life. The story is told from a multi-narrator viewpoint and whilst dipping into, and out of, various time frames takes a little getting used to, once I had the characters firmly placed I found the story flowed easily and I was certainly invested in the story and wanted to know the outcome. 

The Shadows of Rutherford House is a complex, multi-generational story which is cleverly woven together by an author who knows how to keep the reader’s attention from start to finish. I enjoyed the slow build up, the gradual revealing of the layers and the unravelling of all the secrets which have been hidden away for years. There are more than enough twists and turns in the plot to keep the reader guessing and with a strong cast of characters The Shadows of Rutherford House is definitely a story which lingers even after the last page is turned.

🍷Best Read with.. maybe a glass, or two, of Malbec



About the Author




Caroline England was born and brought up in Yorkshire and studied Law at the University of Manchester. She was a divorce and professional indemnity lawyer before leaving the law to bring up her three daughters and turning her hand to writing. Caroline is the author of The Wife's Secret, previously called Beneath the Skin, and the top-ten ebook bestseller My Husband's Lies. Betray Her is her third novel. She lives in Manchester with her family. The House of Hidden Secrets is the first title written under her pseudonym, CE Rose.


Twitter @CazEngland



@HeraBooks






 

Thursday 17 November 2022

📖 Blog Tour extract ~ The Picture Bride by Lee Geum-yi (Translated by An Soen Jae)

 


Scribe
10 November 2022

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book


Could you marry a man you’ve never met? Three Korean women in 1918 make a life-changing journey to Hawaii, where they will marry, having seen only photographs of their intended husbands.

Different fates await each of these women. Hong-ju, who dreams of a marriage of ‘natural love’, meets a man who looks twenty years older than his photograph; Song-hwa, who wants to escape from her life of ridicule as the granddaughter of a shaman, meets a lazy drunkard. And then there’s Willow, whose 26-year-old groom, Taewan, looks just like his image..

Real life doesn’t always resemble a picture, but there’s no going back. And while things don’t turn out quite as they’d hoped, even for Willow, they do find something that makes their journey worthwhile - each other.


I am delighted to be able to share an extract from The Picture Bride on today's blog tour stop

1

1917, OJIN VILLAGE


“Miss Willow,” the Pusan Ajimae said, “you’ll be eighteen next year, won’t you? What about going to Powa and getting married?”

At that, the eyes of Willow and her mother, Mrs. Yun, grew large. Although in fact she lived in Gupo, some miles away from Pusan, the “Pusan Ajimae” was a peddler who went about from village to village selling women’s things like camellia oil, face powder, combs, mirrors,haberdashery, and matches, from a bundle she carried on her head. She had been visiting Mrs.Yun’s family since she was a child. The Pusan Ajimae would visit Ojin Village once or twice a year, and al- ways open her bundle, sell her wares, and stay overnight at Willow’s house.

In the villages nestling in the valleys along the foot of Mae- bongsan Mountain, the sky was visible as if from the bottom of a well. Ojin, a small village of less than fifty households, was par- ticularly remote. In order to reach the closest market, at Jucheon, it was necessary to cross the crests of three hills. Therefore, the village women waited impatiently for a visit from the Pusan Ajimae. Among the items in her bundle, they rarely bought anything but packets of needles or some matches, all the other things being too expensive for them, but still they were a feast for the eyes. And hearing news of the outside world from the Pusan Ajimae, who journeyed all over the region, was a feast for the ears.

That evening, the women who had filled the room went back home, while Willow’s younger brothers Gwangsik and Chunsik went across to their room to sleep. As she unfolded the bedding, Willow eyed her mother for some reaction to the unexpected talk of her marriage. She had never heard of a place called Powa. The same was true for Mrs. Yun, for whom the name was un- familiar.

“Powa? Where’s that?”

Her mother’s expression was a combination of delight and anxiety. Willow knew the cause of her anxiety. No matter how good a marriage candidate the man might be, it was going to be difficult to find the money to prepare a new set of bedding to take as the bride’s contribution.

Before she was born, her father, Schoolmaster Kang, had nourished the ambition of passing the state examination, restoring the fortunes of his impoverished family, and transforming the corrupt world. On passing the first part of the exam, he was entitled to be called Chosi Kang, but then the examination system was abolished. There could be no greater disaster for Chosi Kang, who had been doing nothing but preparing for the exam. Not only was the paltry financial aid he had been receiving from his family cut off, but his father-in-law also went bankrupt and could not help. A yangban without an official position and without money was like a tasty-looking, rotten apricot.

Chosi Kang set up a scrivener’s office on the marketplace in order to earn a living, butthey were so poor that Mrs. Yun was obliged to earn money with her needle. Then wealthy Mr. An invited Chosi Kang to become the schoolmaster in Ojin Village.

Eight years ago, when Willow’s father passed away, a shadow like that of a mountain fell over her family home, even on clear days, together with a heavy silence. When the eldest son died two years later, the shadow over the house settled on her mother’s face.

“Well, it’s a bit far off. Have you ever heard of America?”

“I’ve heard of it,” Mrs. Yun replied. “The foreign pastor of Jucheon Church is an American. Is he from Powa?”

“Well, Powa is American land, but it seems it’s an island that they call ‘Hawaiʻi.’ If you go there, they say you can sweep up money with a dustpan. I’ve been told that clothes and shoes grow on the trees, you only have to pick them and put them on. The weather is wonderful, too. Every season is late springtime, so you don’t need winter clothes.”

The Pusan Ajimae’s face was looking more excited than when she was selling her merchandise.

“Outside of Paradise, can there be such a place?” Willow asked excitedly.

“Well, they say Hawaiʻi is a paradise. Once you go there, fortune will smile on you. If I were ten years younger, I might powder my face and get married myself.”

At the wrinkled old Pusan Ajimae’s words, Willow and her mother both laughed, and the atmosphere in the room, which had grown tense with talk of marriage, grew more relaxed.

“But are there men from Korea living there?” Mrs. Yun asked.

Willow was also curious.

“A decade or so ago, a large number of men from Korea went to work in Hawaiʻi. Now they’ve succeeded in life and want to find brides. One of my husband’s relatives living in Pusan sent their daughter to be married in Hawaiʻi. When she went, she left in tears but after five years, she’s helped them to buy land and build a house. And she felt it was too good to be enjoying life there alone, so she’s sent her brother photos of would-be husbands, men wanting a bride from Korea. He’s asked me to help find an especially good lady I know of. I even have ap hoto of the would-be bridegroom.”

The Pusan Ajimae pulled a picture from her bundle and held it out. Willow was bashful about looking directly at it, as if she were facing a real man. Instead, Mrs. Yun took it and examined it closely. Willow scrutinized her mother’s expression. She was curious to know what he looked like.

“Well, will he do as a son-in-law?” asked the Pusan Ajimae. “Does he look like a good man? He’s not only a good person, he’s a landowner who’s farming on a really large scale.”

On hearing that, the eyes of Mrs. Yun and Willow grew even larger.

“A landowner?” Mrs. Yun’s voice grew louder. “In the United States? While the Japanese are taking people’s land away from us, how could we become a landowner in a foreign country?”

It was the dream of everyone in Korea to farm their own land.

“That’s right. If you’re diligent, you can go to another country and purchase land. Why, you’re holding a picture of a man who did this, aren’t you? So, will you powder your face and set off?”

Mrs. Yun let the photo drop onto Willow’s skirt.

Willow shyly picked it up; her eyes were already gazing at the man in a suit. He had dark eyebrows, big, bright eyes, a straight nose, and a tightly closed mouth and seemed to be staring at her. Her face turned red. Willow’s heart began to race.

“On the back there’s his name and age.”

Willow flipped the photo over. On it was written in a neat hand, So Taewan, 26 years old. The name So Taewan was immediately imprinted on Willow’s heart.

There was nobody else around, but the Pusan Ajimae lowered her voice. “If he’s only twenty-six years old, that’s young. It seems most of the men in Hawaiʻi looking for brides are older.” “If it’s not a matter of a second marriage, what’s a nine year difference?” Mrs. Yun asked, indicating that she was half inclined to accept. “Where is his home and how large is his family?”

Willow’s eyes were fixed on the picture. Even if she liked him, he was too far away. Even if he lived close by, it would be hard for her to visit her home more than once or twice a year, but if she went to Hawaiʻi, she might never see her family again. She didn’t want to go that far,leaving her mother and younger brothers behind.

“His hometown is Yonggang in Pyongan-do, up in the north. His mother died a few years ago, his sisters are already married and living elsewhere in Korea. Father and son are the only remaining family. There will be no other family to care for. And just think, if you go there you’ll be able to go to school.”

Willow looked up. “Is . . . is that true?”

“Sure. The girl from our family was totally illiterate, but after arriving there she was able to study. Now she writes letters home, and she can speak English like an American.”

Willow’s heart pounded.



About the Author


Lee Geum-yi is a bestselling YA author in Korea. The Picture Bride is her debut adult novel, and her debut in the English language.


About the Translator


An Seon Jae has lived in Korea since 1980. He was born in Cornwall in 1942, and since 1969 has been a member of the Community of Taizé, where he is known as Brother Anthony. He has published some 50 volumes of translated Korean poetry, as well as translations of several Korean novels.



Twitter #ThePictureBride

@ScribeUKBooks





Wednesday 16 November 2022

🎄Blog Tour ~ A Little Christmas Panto by Angel Britnell



Choc Lit
31 October 2022

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book
and to Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to the blog tour



Can a little Cornish village panto convince a troubled Hollywood heart throb to act again?

Oh no it won’t! At least that’s what Zach Broussard initially thinks when the eccentric Anna Teague tries to railroad him into helping out with her community pantomime production in the run-up to Christmas. Zach has his reasons for leaving Hollywood behind, and his retreat to the remote village of Polcarne in Cornwall signals the start of a new acting free life for him.

But when Zach meets Anna’s daughter, Rosey – an ex concert pianist who has swapped Mozart for panto tunes – he starts to wonder whether he could change his mind, and not just about acting.

If nothing else, will the residents of Polcarne ensure Zach has a Christmas he never forgets?

Oh yes they will!


📖My Review..

Zach Broussard is running away from his celebrity past by escaping to the peace and tranquility of Cornwall. Living in the village of Polcarne gives Zach the respite he needs and he is enjoying his relative anonymity by keeping a low profile but when he meets with Anna Teague, and her daughter Rosey, Zach is cajoled into using his acting skills at the annual village pantomime.

The growing relationship between Zach and Rosey is really lovely and the author has brought these two charming characters to life. Both have an aching vulnerably, which is gently explored but there is no getting away from the instant attraction between them which gives rise to all sorts of ups and downs. The villagers who call Polcarne home are such a lovely bunch of people especially Rosey's mum, Anna, who rules the pantomime with a no nonsense approach and usually won't take 'no' for an answer.

A Little Christmas Panto is a lovely warm hearted, festive story which brings all the charm of Christmas, the quirkiness of the British love for pantomime ,and the intriguing prospect of taking a second chance at love.


🍷Best read with.. a glass or two of mulled wine



About the Author





Angela grew up in Cornwall, England and returns frequently from her home outside of Nashville, Tennessee to visit family and friends, drink tea and eat far too many Cornish pasties!

A lifelong love of reading turned into a passion for writing contemporary romance and her novels are usually set in the many places she's visited or lived on her extensive travels. Thanks to almost four decades of marriage to her wonderful American husband she's a huge fan of transatlantic romance and always makes sure her characters get their own happy-ever-after

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association. Her first novel ‘Truth and Consequence’ was published in 2006 and she’s now had over 40 novels published internationally and multiple short stories in women’s magazines.



Twitter @angelabritnell #ALittleChristmasPanto


@ChocLitUK

@rararesources







Tuesday 15 November 2022

📖 Blog Tour ~ The Poison Machine by Robert J. Lloyd



Melville House
27 October 2022

Hunt and Hooke #2

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book
and the invitation to take part in the blog tour


1679. A year has passed since the sensational attempt to murder King Charles II. London is still inflamed by fears of Catholic plots. Harry Hunt—estranged from his mentor Robert Hooke and no longer employed by the Royal Society—meets Sir Jonas Moore, the King’s Surveyor-General of the Board of Ordnance, in the remote and windswept marshes of Norfolk. There, workers draining the fenland have uncovered a skeleton.

Accompanied by his friend Colonel Fields, an old soldier for Parliament, and Hooke’s niece, Grace, Harry confirms Sir Jonas’s suspicion: the body is that of a dwarf, Captain Jeffrey Hudson, once famously given to Queen Henrietta Maria in a pie. During the Civil Wars, Hudson accompanied the Queen to France to sell the Royal Jewels to fund her husband’s army. He was sent home in disgrace after shooting a man in a duel.

But nobody knew Hudson was dead. Another man, working as a spy, has lived as him since his murder. Now, this impostor has disappeared, taking vital information with him. Sir Jonas orders Harry to find him.

With the help of clues left in a book, a flying man, and a crossdressing swordswoman, Harry’s search takes him to Paris, another city bedeviled by conspiracies and intrigues. He navigates its salons and libraries, and learns of a terrible plot against the current Queen of England, Catherine of Bragança, and her gathering of Catholics in London. Assassins plan to poison them all.


📖 My Review..

It’s such a treat to go back in time with this talented author and on this current journey into the past we meet up with Harry Hunt as he is, once again, drawn into an investigation which will, this time, take him from the Royal Society in London, to the Fenland area of Norfolk and into the shadowy darkness of seventeenth century Paris.

When a body is discovered in Norfolk, believed to be that of Captain Jeffrey Hudson, a dwarf, who was heavily involved during the English Civil War, Hunt is persuaded to investigate by Sir Jonas Moore, the King’s Surveyor-General of the Board of Ordnance. With the clock ticking Hunt must not only discover the secrets so carefully hidden but must also try to foil a plot to assassinate Catherine of Braganza, the current Queen of England and the wife of King Charles II. In 1679 England was well into the restoration period, and with both religious and political unrest,  Hunt certainly has to keep his considerable wits about him as he endeavours to navigate his way through the muddy waters of this current investigation. 

In recreating this time so carefully and by combining fiction with factual history there's a real sense of historical accuracy so that its feels as though you are travelling, alongside Hunt, and his companions, into a complex world of espionage, intrigue and danger. The sights, sounds and atmosphere of the seventeenth century world come alive and the author does a great job of fleshing out his characters so that they leap off right off the page and into whatever shadowy danger is waiting for them. 

The Poison Machine is the second book in the Hunt and Hooke series of historical adventures and whilst it is perfectly possible to read this continuation as a standalone story , it does makes sense to get a sense of the characters, particularly Hunt and Hooke, it would be better to start at the beginning with The Bloodless Boy.


Best Read with..a cask of good wine







About the Author





Robert J. Lloyd grew up in South London, Innsbruck, and Kinshasa (his parents worked in the British Foreign Service), and then in Sheffield, where he studied for a Fine Art degree, starting as a landscape painter but moving to film, performance, and installation. His MA thesis on Robert Hooke and the ‘New Philosophy’, inspired the ideas and characters in Hunt & Hook series. He lives in Crickhowell in the Brecon Beacons. The Poison Machine is his second book, following on from The Bloodless Boy.



Twitter @robjlloyd #ThePoisonMachine

@melvillehouse





Monday 14 November 2022

📖 Book Review ~ Mr Magenta by Christopher Bowden



Langton & Wood
6 October 2022

My thanks to Cameron PR for my copy of this book


Stephen Marling thought he knew his aunt Flora. But when he inherits her house in a quiet south London square a series of discoveries among her papers brings to light another person entirely. Who, for example, is ‘Mr Magenta’ and what part did he play in her life?

In the process of uncovering the secrets of one life, Stephen is forced to re-evaluate his own and decide what he really wants. Was he right to turn his back on Nancy Steiner, the young actress he met in New York, when he came home to take up his inheritance?

Interweaving past and present, the story takes him from a Brooklyn bookshop to a theatre in Marseille to a cottage on the east coast of England where the truth about Mr Magenta is finally revealed.


📖 My Review

Leaving his girlfriend behind in New York, Stephen Marling leaves his job and moves to London to take up residence in the house he has inherited from his aunt Flora. The house in a quiet London square still bears the comforting memories that Stephen associates with his past visits to his aunt. However, there are also the mementos of Flora’s time in the house, including references to the mysterious Mr Magenta who seems to have played an important and rather mysterious role in Flora’s life. However, in trying to discover more about Flora’s past Stephen must also confront his own insecurities and the reasons for leaving his New York life behind him.

There is much to enjoy in this story and I found that I was intrigued by Stephen’s quiet immersion in his aunt’s life and without pausing I read the book in one sitting. The author has a lovely writing style, quite gentle but beautifully descriptive of Stephens’s life in Paxton Square, his interaction with his quirky neighbours and his rather introspective study of his aunt’s life, all of which combine into a gently plotted mystery involving the eponymous Mr Magenta.

Mr Magenta is the first book I have read by this author but will certainly look out for more.

Best read with..A pot of tea and a substantial fruit cake



About the Author


Christopher Bowden is the author of seven highly-praised books: The Blue Book, The Yellow Room, The Red House, The Green Door, The Purple Shadow, The Amber Maze and Mr Magenta. A retired civil servant, he read history at Oxford and has lived in south London for over 40 years.








 

Sunday 13 November 2022

🍴Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Paul Lamb




On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo







I'm delighted to welcome Paul Lamb to Sunday Brunch







Welcome to Jaffareadstoo, Paul. What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

A plate of chewy bagels and a savoury cream cheese to spread on them. A bowl of mixed fruit salad. And as much charm and wit as I can muster.


Would you like a pot of English breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?

English breakfast tea, most certainly!


Where shall we eat brunch – around the kitchen table, in the formal dining room, or outside on the patio?

Around the kitchen table so we can remain informal, and where I will be perhaps even a little sleepy-eyed and dishevelled from having rising shortly before.


Shall we have music playing in the background, and if so do you have a favourite piece of music?

Light classical would be nice, please.


Which of your literary heroes (dead or alive) are joining us for Sunday Brunch today?

The incisive American writer Philip Roth and the insightful British writer Iris Murdoch. They will bring our conversation up a notch or two. And perhaps the American futurist Isaac Asimov because he would be able to chat about any subject.


Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

Philip Roth’s novel The Ghost Writer. I’ve read it more than twenty times and still find something new with each read. It is the novel I press on others when they want to try Roth.


Vintage  2005
First Published 1979


When you are writing do you still find time to read for pleasure? And is there a book you would like to read but haven’t had time for …yet!

For writers, reading is an obligation, so I make time. I guess you could say that all of my reading is for pleasure since I don’t specifically seek works that will influence my style or craft. Nonetheless, any good writing will have some influence, whether I am aware of it or not. There are so many classics I have not read yet, and I wish I had time for all of them, but if I had to pick one, I’d say I’d like to read Don Quixote again, slowly and carefully this time.


Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

My first novel, One-Match Fire, was directly inspired by the little cabin I have on the edge of the Ozark Mountains in the state of Missouri. I wrote a story about a man with a cabin as a kind of instruction for what I wanted my children to do with my cabin when I was gone. That resulted in other stories about the place and the characters, which grew into a novel. I have set that novel at a cabin much like mine, and the story that transpires there is my ideal of what such a place can bring out in people.

For my short stories, I wish I could identify where the inspiration comes from. Often it is some unlikely source, such as an overheard comment or clever turn of phrase, or from shower thoughts that I must keep repeating in my head until I can finish up, dry off, and write them down. Inspiration is a mysterious thing to me, and I suppose I don’t really want to know too well how it works.


Have you a favourite place to settle down to write and do you find it easier to write in winter or summer?

I do all of my writing in a repurposed bedroom in my house. I have my table and chair and laptop and space for my pitcher of iced tea (unsweetened, of course). I listen to brown noise to help my concentration, and then I let my fingers fly across the keyboard.

I generally have a notepad and pencil near me when I’m not writing so I can jot down little ideas that come to me in random moments. Unfortunately, I’ve found that I cannot write at my cabin – there’s too much going on in the forest! – but I have notepads there too.

My guess would be that winter writing is easier for me since I will likely don a warm pair of sweats and a soft, voluminous hoodie. Cocooned like that, I can better focus on my struggle with words.


When writing to a deadline are you easily distracted and if so how do you bring back focus on your writing?

I have the dubious benefit of not writing to deadlines. This allows me to pick at stories when I feel inclined, which probably causes them to take much longer to finish than should be the case. I have grown disciplined when I am before my computer, and I do not allow myself too many distractions. Maybe the dog wants to be let out. Someone comes to the door. My phone rings or an urgent email arrives. But for the most part I avoid logging on to the internet or picking a book off the shelf beside me. Because I listen to brown noise when I am writing, I think I am able to keep my focus better. And when the words are flowing, there is little that will distract me.

Back in the days when I was “committing journalism” and had to write to a deadline, I always managed to do it and provide something that the editors liked. I’m not sure how well that would work with creative writing, however, when the solution to a plot problem or a key character development might take months to dawn upon me.


Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

A thirst for reading; a drive to clarify and share ideas using words; the right tools, whether that be a laptop, a tablet, or quill and parchment; and enough self-confidence to stay in the chair when the words won’t come.


What can you tell us about your latest novel or your current work in progress?

My novel, One-Match Fire, is a love story about a grandfather, a father, and a son, and the little cabin they are about to lose where they had found peace with each other despite their squabbles and misunderstandings. It involves one-match fires, skinny dipping, clandestine acts of love, running, coming of age, coming out, mistakes, forgiveness, acceptance, and love in its many forms. It is a peek into the emotional lives of men and boys.



Blue Cedar Press
2022



Paul, where can we follow you on social media?


Facebook page: Paul Lamb

Instagram: @paullamble




More about Paul

Paul Lamb lives near Kansas City, but he escapes to his little cabin the Ozark Mountains whenever he gets the chance. He has an M.A. in English from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. His stories have appeared in dozens of literary journals, and his novel, One-Match Fire, was published by Blue Cedar Press in 2022. He rarely strays far from his laptop.



Thank you for taking part in Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo


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