‘The House That Sat Down’ by Alice May #bookreview #booktour @rararesources @AliceMay_Author #thehousethatsatdown

I’m so happy to be on the blog tour today for ‘The House That Sat Down’ by Alice May. Sincere thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for including me, and to Alice, Chaos and Logic for the copy of the omnibus edition, in exchange for my thoughts.

What’s it about?

The House That Sat Down Omnibus Cover

Inspired by a true story, The House That Sat Down Trilogy is a tale of triumph over tragedy. It is an astonishing account of sudden, first-world homelessness in the heart of the New Forest, and the unexpected consequences.

Written entirely from a mother’s point of view, following the collapse of her family’s home, it is an uplifting and positive read in spite of the subject matter, with a thread of wry humour throughout. Follow this ordinary woman on an extraordinary journey of survival and self discovery as she reels from disaster, before picking herself up and coming back stronger and wiser than before.

Packed with humorous observations about what it is like to live in a tent in your garden with your husband and four children after a significant part of your house falls down out of the blue one day, this story takes you from the depths of despair right through to the satisfying heights of success against the odds, with lots of tea and cakes on the way.

Follow this crazy family as they cope with disaster in their own truly unique and rather mad way, and celebrate each small triumph along the way with them.

My thoughts:

In some ways, this review wanted to write itself, and was furiously scribbling itself down in my head while I was reading. Yet, I have given myself enough time and rewrites to hope that I can do this remarkable story justice. I have already written the screenplay, cast it, produced it, edited it and timetabled it for TV, all without the prerequisite skills, experience and contacts to make it so (and thus, regretfully, all in my mind). I hope then, that you can see just how much I loved this book. I gratefully received the omnibus edition, thoughtfully complete with postcards of Alice’s art. The edition comprises ‘Accidental Damage’, ‘Restoration’ and ‘Redemption’. For ease of reference, I have used ‘the book and ‘the story’’ to refer to all three.

The main part of our heroine’s 350 year-old family home in the countryside split open. Wide open. Sufficiently to allow a man and a dog to walk through. Blaming herself entirely, she gave up a part of herself, which, as we can only come to truly appreciate throughout the trilogy, must have been devastating, and the family were thrust into a position that few truly can imagine, living in a borrowed tent in their garden, with the possibility of this being for an indeterminable period.

Luckily, the story was written with the benefit of the passage of time giving much needed perspective, and despite the desperation of this predicament, this is one of the funniest pieces of writing I’ve ever read, gently acerbic, wonderfully witty, with a huge heart. And a skeleton. Not in a cupboard. I’ll come back to him later.

With a cast of tremendous characters; Beloved Husband, Chaos, Logic, Quiet, Small, Skelly, Various Builders, The Insurance People and Some Genuine Experts, our heroine transitions from despair, through grim acceptance, to hope, some journeys back and forth between them all, and then to a level of personal fulfilment, which would not have happened without the events back in 2014.

Which leads to the book. She is an artist, and this is a clear case of art begetting art. The cathartic voyage through painting from beginning to end is mesmerising, and the book being written is an extension of that extremely capable, intelligent artistic ability. It’s an absolute joy; a stream of thought masterpiece. The omnibus is a Big Book, and I worried I hadn’t left myself enough time to complete it, although I shouldn’t have been concerned. This is not a book to skim read; it is worth reading every sentence.

I’m plucking something out of my dim and distant memory, which is going to require a brief google. Please bear with me one moment…
….
Yes, erm… Picasso said, (fingers crossed this is true) “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction”. This works well on so many levels in this story, and in ‘Redemption’, our heroine reflects on the silver linings, the opportunities created, the self-reaffirmation and the blessing which is her family.

And yes, here we are on the book tour. I couldn’t recommend this more highly. It is not purely a self-indulgent exercise. It has the potential to speak to so many people who are, or have been, sailing in a similar boat. I live in Doncaster, and we have recently seen dreadful flooding, with many people facing lengthy separation from their family homes. They are at the despair/grim acceptance phase. Stories like this could make a real difference.

I’ll conclude on a lighter note… If Alice May ever feels like a further foray into fiction, I would like to take this opportunity to ask for the main protagonist to be Skelly. I can’t help thinking he would have a tale or two to tell.

P.S. I’m leaving the recipes lying around the place, just in case any of my four Barbarians take the hint….

Buy the book (you won’t regret it):

Amazon UK

Amazon US

About the author:

The House - Alice May

I am a multi-tasking parent to four not-so-small children, and I am fortunate enough to be married to (probably) the most patient man on the planet. We live in, what used to be, a ramshackle old cottage in the country. Our house began to fall down out of the blue one day, which resulted in the whole family living in a tent in the back garden for quite some time, while we worked out how to rebuild our home.

A few years afterwards, I decided to write a book and, once I started, I found I couldn’t stop.

Inspired by true-life events ‘Accidental Damage – tales from the house that sat down’ wouldn’t leave me alone until it was written.

Within six months of self-publishing my novel, I was delighted to learn that it had won two ‘Chill with a Book Awards’. This was a massive honour and motivated me to continue writing. Accidental Damage became the first book in a trilogy.

The Omnibus edition of all three books in the House That Sat Down Trilogy is now available via Amazon in both paperback and kindle format

To connect with Alice:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

This is, of course, a book tour, and there are other wonderful perspectives on ‘The House That Sat Down’ for you to read. Please see the tour banner below x

The House That Sat Down Trilogy Full Tour Banner

#bookreview of ‘The Raided Heart’ by Jennifer C Wilson as part of the @rararesources #blogtour @inkjunky1984 @OcelotPress #GIVEAWAY

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Jennifer C Wilson’s ‘The Raided Heart’. Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation, and to the author and publisher for my e-copy of the book, in return for my thoughts.

What’s it about?

TheRaidedHeart-Cover-HiRes
Meg Mathers, the headstrong youngest sibling of a reiving family on the English-Scottish border, is determined to remain at her childhood home, caring for the land and village she’s grown up with.

When an accident brings her a broken ankle and six weeks in the resentful company of ambitious and angry young reiver Will Hetherington, attraction starts to build.

Both begin to realise they might have met their match, and the love of their lives, but 15th century border living is not that simple, as Meg soon finds herself betrothed to the weakling son of a tyrannical neighbour, Alexander Gray.

When tragedy strikes, can Meg and Will find their way back to each other, and can Will finally take his own personal revenge on Gray?

My thoughts:

One of the aspects of this historical romance that I really appreciated was the scene setting; it captured the life of a 15th century reiving community and had memorable and well-drawn characters. I felt completely at ease in the world Jennifer C Wilson had created in this novel, despite the tumultuous times in which it is set.

Meg is a likeable character, although to begin with, I think I had imagined her as older, given her position in the bastle (lots of historical detail to learn!). Will is troubled, and there is an uneasy relationship between them in the beginning. The level of romance, as it develops, suited me; it doesn’t overbear the historical elements.

The unpredictability of borderland boundary safety and protection during the hard winter months leads to Meg’s brothers playing a dangerous game between rival factions, and I enjoyed the tension this gamble brought to the story.

Alexander Grey is the monster of the piece, and he pulls off a few horrible stunts. I did find some of his actions predictable, but this didn’t spoil anything, as he is a character without any moral compass whatsoever, and I always find a bit of joy in these villains.

Readers who enjoy historical romance, will I’m sure, enjoy ‘The Raided Heart’. A solid recommendation from me!

If you are tempted to reive yourself a copy (no, really, you’ll have to buy it), please click one of the purchase links here:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

You can also enter the exciting giveaway at the end, and give yourself the chance to win a copy of The Last Plantagenet?!

About the author:

The Raided Heart - JenniferCWilson-Castle-Cropped

Jennifer C. Wilson is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history and historical fiction whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots on childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III).

Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east of England for work reignited her pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since.

In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and has been working on a number of projects since, including co-hosting the North Tyneside Writers’ Circle.

Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and her time-slip novella, The Last Plantagenet?, by Ocelot Press.

She lives in North Tyneside, and is very proud of her approximately 2-inch sea view.

To connect with Jennifer:

Author website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Exciting Giveaway to Win 2 x e-copies of The Last Plantagenet? (Open Internationally)

The Raided - Giveaway Prize

Please enter here

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box 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 despatch or delivery of the prize.


To read lots of unique perspectives, author interviews and extracts, please visit my fellow bloggers (shown below):

The Raided Heart Full Tour Banner

 

#promo of ‘The Honeysuckle Dream’ by Kate Frost @rararesources @katefrostauthor #contemporaryromance #Giveaway

Welcome to my slot on the book tour for ‘The Honeysuckle Dream’ by Kate Frost, where I am delighted to be promoting the book! Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for including me. Without further ado, this is what the book is about:

TheHoneysuckleDream_eB

The Honeysuckle Dream

Two men. Three decades. One decision.

Pregnant at nineteen from an affair with a married man, Leila goes against her parents’ wishes. Alone in an unfamiliar city, a fresh start is terrifying.

Leila struggles to navigate between being a single working mum, new friendships, and her bad choices in men. The heartache of past mistakes haunts her. Disillusioned, lonely, and with a fractured mother-daughter relationship, she swaps the vices of city life for the peace of the country. Yet new-found happiness is short-lived and old habits return.

Can Leila let go of her past and find true love?

Here’s what some of the lovely people on the blog tour have been saying:

“a lovely story to read and it had a lovely flow to it – highly recommended!” donnasbookblog

“Heart-warming and uplifting” Book Lovers’ Booklist – Sue Featherstone

“The book was entertaining, easy to read, and with different characters adding to the flavor” Shalini’s Books and Reviews

“a really thought-provoking story” FNM

“Ms. Frost does a good job keeping the reader eager to find out how Leila’s story unfolds” The Eclectic Review

“This story was so not what I expected, it was even better!” Tizi’s Book Review

“a wonderful read where I couldn’t help but become immersed in Leila’s life. Kate Frost has done a wonderful job of exploring Leila’s character and showing us what motivates her” That Thing She Reads

So, if you are tempted, bag yourself a copy here

Or, enter the giveaway to win a paperback copy of The Honeysuckle Dream by Kate Frost (Open Int) here

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box 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 despatch or delivery of the prize.

About the author:

KateFrostHeadShot

Kate Frost writes character-driven women’s fiction and romances, alongside Time Shifters, an award-winning time travel adventure trilogy for 9-12 year olds. She has a MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University where she’s also taught lifewriting to creative writing undergraduates.

She is the Director of Children’s and Teen events for Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival, and she’s the co-founder of Storytale Festival, the first city-wide children’s book festival in Bristol.

The Honeysuckle Dream is Kate’s ninth book and the third (standalone) novel in her popular The Butterfly Storm series. She lives in Bristol with her husband, son, and Frodo, their cute Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

To connect with Kate:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

For all the other reviews, please see the blog tour banner below:

The Honeysuckle Dream Full Tour Banner

#Halloween #BookReview of ‘Starve Acre’ by Andrew Michael Hurley #netgalley @johnmurrays #andrewmichaelhurley #StarveAcre

What’s it all about?

The worst thing possible has happened. Richard and Juliette Willoughby’s son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, their house by the moors, was to be full of life, but is now a haunted place.

Juliette, convinced Ewan still lives there in some form, seeks the help of the Beacons, a seemingly benevolent group of occultists. Richard, to try and keep the boy out of his mind, has turned his attention to the field opposite the house, where he patiently digs the barren dirt in search of a legendary oak tree.

Starve Acre is a devastating new novel by the author of the prize-winning bestseller The Loney. It is a novel about the way in which grief splits the world in two and how, in searching for hope, we can so easily unearth horror.

My thoughts:

I was falling over myself trying to get an ARC of Starve Acre, having loved The Loney so much that it makes my top ten every time I’m asked! I was beyond excited when I was accepted by the publisher. Thank you so much Netgalley and John Murray Press.

Starting with the sudden death of their five-year-old son, Ewan, Richard and Juliette are trying to cope with the aftermath. Juliette is unwilling to let go, and we soon suspect that there is more to this than mere grief. Her authoritarian sister, Harriet, arrives to try to prise Juliette from the house and back to her parents, but realises there is no chance until the Beacons, a seeming innocuous group of occultists have visited to impart some other-worldly knowledge upon the bereaved parents. Great characters, deliciously chilling folklore, adept capture of the divisive nature of grief, and perfect setting.

Dripping with menace, it plays on our darkest fears and intensifies the superstitious mindset of some British countryside folk. It’s gorgeous.

The story reminded me of Henry James and the best of MR James, and one Stephen King novel in particular *feels hair on arms rise. It’s brief; I read it in one sitting. It feels like I’ve been given a flash of something awful in the torchlight and now all I can do is think about it and let my imagination do the rest. This is also a BBC Radio 4 Book At Bedtime. Sleep well listeners….

Having experienced the worst nightmare of my adult life halfway through reading The Loney, I am pleased to confirm that Starve Acre is another masterpiece of modern folk horror. My only regret is that I read this on a sun lounger in Morocco and not cosied up in a chair, with a suitable autumn storm blowing wildly outside. I’m going to read it again in the dark when the weather turns. Stunning, Andrew Michael Hurley. I can still feel this one in my bones.

To snare yourself a copy:    Wordery

Amazon UK

 About the author:

Andrew Michael Hurley picture
Andrew Michael Hurley has lived in Manchester and London, and is now based in Lancashire. The Loney, his debut novel – was first published in October 2014 by Tartarus Press, a tiny independent publisher based in Yorkshire, as a 300-copy limited-edition. It won the Costa First Novel Award 2015 and went on to be named Debut of the Year and Overall Book of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards in May 2016.

#BlogTour #BookReview of ‘Weave of Love’ by Rachel J. Bonner @racheljbonner1 @rararesources #bookreview #choicesandconsequences #giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Rachel J Bonner’s third instalment in the Choices and Consequences series, ‘Weave of Love’. Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for including me on the tour, and for my copy of the book.

Weave of Love correct front

The Blurb:

What if the choice you have to make has devastating consequences for others?

How can anyone know the right thing to do?

Leonie chose to sacrifice everything to save other people. Now those around her have to face the consequences – and those consequences are not what they expected.

Prospero must deal with his own guilt. He was the one who gave Leonie the tools she needed – her life was in his hands. To make the most of what she did, he will have to face up to all the family issues he has avoided for so long. Whatever he chooses to do, someone he loves will be hurt. For Leonie’s sake, is he now strong enough to make the choice he couldn’t make before?

The crisis predicted by Lord Gabriel has come and gone. But his task isn’t over. Leonie’s very existence may be out in the open but Gabriel discovers that the past is never what it seems – and nor is the present. How can he use what he now knows to bring together those who have been enemies for as long as anyone can remember?

If he fails in this, everything he’s had to do so far will be in vain.

My Review:

I read ‘Weave of Love’ having not read the first two in the series, and from the outset realised that I had arrived in a story wishing I had read the others. There is a brief and very helpful summary of the action so far, and I did try to glean as much as I could from other sources to understand what I had missed. This is such an involved story and I felt that I had arrived at the immediate aftermath of something very significant, without properly understanding what had gone before, and there is no substitute for reading the series in order I think!

Having said this, Weave of Love is an character driven and absorbing read. I think it’s probably the least action packed of a series which so far must have had a great deal happen, but it is intriguing, emotional and tense, just the same. There is a Christian theme, but this by no mean limits the intended audience for this series and could be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of belief system. It’s really well written with convincing dialogue and great character dynamics.

It is post-apocalyptical and complex, with tense situations, yet the love, belonging and selflessness pervades throughout the story and it feels very comforting somehow. I wouldn’t mind spending a while with Perry’s family!

Without knowing more, and I do think I would like to read the previous books, it seems to be a story which concentrates more on relationships between people rather than being fast paced and action driven. This makes this a very individual and personal book, and I suspect, series.

The Gifts and Shields are a really interesting premise and I enjoyed how this in particular, played out between some of the drama between the various important families in House St. Peter.

All in all, I’d highly recommend ‘Weave of Love’ to fans of character driven romance, with the caveat that the series must be read in order! ‘Strand of Faith’ is the first, and ‘Thread of Hope’, the second. I must get on with it myself!! For an exciting bookish giveaway, please read on below.

Purchase Links to buy for £2.99!:

Amazon UK

Associates

Other Retailers

Google Play

Author Bio:

Weave of Love Author Photo

Rachel J Bonner is the author of the compelling and enthralling four book Choices and Consequences series. The first book in the series, Strand of Faith, was published in November 2018. Book 2, Thread of Hope, released on 2nd May 2019, followed by Weave of Love on 24th October, and Cloth of Grace at the end of February 2020.

Getting a degree in engineering, followed by a career in accountancy is probably not a conventional path to becoming an author, particularly in fantasy or romance. Rachel says that, although accountancy isn’t anything like as boring as everyone thinks, writing is a lot more fun.

When not writing, she can be found walking in the beautiful countryside near where she lives, which has influenced much of the scenery in her books, or shooting things with her local archery club. Shooting targets only, honest. Nothing to worry about. (Okay, sometimes we shoot Polo mints. Or cabbages. Still nothing to worry about.)

She also enjoys swimming, eating chocolate chip cookies and growing aromatic herbs, especially thyme and rosemary. It’s no coincidence that her heroine likes the same things.

You can find out more about her books and sign up for Rachel’s newsletters at www.racheljbonner.co.uk

To connect with Rachel J Bonner:

Author page

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

***GIVEAWAY!!!***

Win signed copies of Strand of Faith, Thread of Hope and Weave of Love, plus a selection of bookmarks, plus three MixPix acrylic photo tiles (Open INT)

Weave of Love Giveaway 1

Enter here!

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box 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 despatch or delivery of the prize.

Finally, as usual, this is a blog tour, and there are many other reviews, guest posts, extracts and interviews to read, and I would urge you to read them! The other bloggers on the tour are listed on the banner below:

Weave of Love Full Tour Banner

‘Tangled Roots’ by Denise D. Young @rararesources @ddyoungbooks #BlogTour #TangledRoots

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Denise D Young’s paranormal fantasy ‘Tangled Roots’, the first book in her Tangled Magic series. Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for including me, and to the author for the copy of the book, which I have reviewed as a reader, honestly, individually and impartially.

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The Blurb

A beautiful witch lost in time. A brooding farm boy with magic in his blood and a chip on his shoulder. Dark secrets and shadowy magic. Paranormal romance with a time slip awaits in the first book of this new series.

Cassie Gearhart casts a spell in the forest in the summer of 1974. The next thing she knows, she wakes up to find the world irrevocably changed.

It’s 2019, for one thing. For another, all of her coven members have vanished, leaving behind only one man who holds the key to their secrets.

Nick Felson has sworn off magic, until a confused Cassie knocks on his door in the middle of the night, somehow missing forty-five years’ worth of time. But Nick knows falling for the captivating witch means letting magic back into his life—and that’s one line he swore he’d never cross.

Can Cassie unravel the mystery that transported her decades into the future? And can Nick resist the powerful magic and heart-pounding passion that swirl in the air whenever he and Cassie are together?

The Tangled Magic Series is intended for readers 18-plus who enjoy fast-paced reads, wild and witchy magic, swoon-worthy kisses, and small-town charm. The series is best read in order.

My Review

Paranormal fantasy is not a genre I have much dabbled in, and so I did not really know what to expect from this book. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not much of a swoony romance type of girl, but the first thing about Tangled Roots that struck me was the quality of the writing. It has an intense, almost poetic style and an ethereal feel; the author is clearly competent in wordsmithery!

It’s brief but immersive, a passionate romance which thankfully didn’t get bogged down in erotica, which would have put me off!

I enjoyed the witchy aspect and the sensations relating to nature as the identity of each person’s magic, and how Nick and Cassie’s romance develops so quickly because of this. It is mysterious and although the brevity of the novella doesn’t allow us to get to know the intricate ins and outs of the characters, we know enough to feel their fears and desires and to wish for them to work out what is going on, even if it means they could be separated by time again.

Willow Creek became familiar very quickly, so the scene had been set well. Small town gossip is very accurately described and elicited a few wry smiles from me.

I enjoyed Tangled Roots, with its many goings on squeezed into a quick read, but it is a good story which is well-paced. Fans of adult paranormal/magical fantasy will no doubt enjoy it.

If you wish to buy Tangled Roots and set off on what promises to be a great series, please click here.

About the author

Denise D Young2.jpg

 

Equal parts bookworm, flower child, and eclectic witch, Denise D. Young writes fantasy and paranormal romance featuring witches, magic, faeries, and the occasional shifter.

Whatever the flavor of the magic, it’s always served with a brisk cup of tea–and the promise of romance varying from sweet to sensual.

She lives with her husband and their animals in the mountains of Virginia, where small towns and tall trees inspire her stories. She reads tarot cards, collects crystals, gazes at stars, and believes magic is the answer (no matter what the question was).

If you’ve ever hoped to find a book of spells in a dusty attic, if you suspect every misty forest contains a hidden portal to another realm, or if you don’t mind a little darkness before your happily-ever-after, her books might be just the thing you’ve been waiting for.

To connect with the author:

Website

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

Pinterest

As always, this is a blog tour, and there are many other perspectives, extracts and guest posts to read. The other bloggers involved are shown here on the tour banner:

Tangled Roots Full Tour Banner

Happy reading!

‘Empire’s Daughter’ (Empire’s Legacy, Book I) by Marian L Thorpe @marianlthorpe @rararesources @gilbster1000 #amreading #bookblogger #bookworm #bookreview #giveaway

I am very pleased to be on the book tour today for Empire’s Daughter, the first in the Empire’s Legacy series, by Marian L Thorpe. Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for including me, and for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed as a reader, honestly, individually and impartially. Also, don’t forget to enter the exciting bookish giveaway at the end!

Empires Daughter ebook cover

The Blurb:

For twenty generations, the men and women of The Empire have lived separately, the women farming and fishing, the men fighting wars. But in the spring of Lena’s seventeenth year, an officer rides into her village with an unprecedented request. The Empire is threatened by invasion, and to defend it successfully, women will need to fight.

When the village votes in favour, Lena and her partner Maya are torn apart. Maya chooses exile rather than battle, Lena chooses to fight. As Lena learns the skills of warfare and leadership, she discovers that choices have consequences that cannot be foreseen, and that her role in her country’s future is greater than she could have dreamed.

My Review:

This novel has a great premise, and really appealed to the lover of Roman and medieval history in me. It diverges slightly and intentionally to make the story work, but this neither matters nor disappoints.

The story begins in a village called Tirvan which is entirely comprised of women, who undertake all the work to supply the Empire, and are visited by men, twice a year only, at Festival. This is a time where willing women of age can form brief relationships in order to bear children. This system is known as Partition and is governed by an agreement made between men and women, some years hence. They undertake the work of the Empire, to support the ongoing military campaigns. At seven years old, male children are permanently removed from their families for army training.

Most women are for the remainder of the time, in same sex relationships. Seventeen-year-old Lena is partnered with Maya, and together they skipper a fishing vessel. Her mother is one of the village leaders, and the local political system is participative. Lives are peaceful and ordered, until the arrival of a male emissary, Casyn, who has been sent from the Emperor to warn them that there is going to be an invasion from the island of Leste. He tells the village women that their coastline is going to be one of the landing points, and they must be taught and organised to fight. Lena secretly relishes the excitement of this, but Maya is angry.

I don’t want to spoil the story from there, as Empire’s daughter is a book well worth reading for yourself. I would class it as YA historical fantasy, as the story centres around young people, but as a 41-year-old, I enjoyed it too! There are some great themes around history, gender, politics, relationships, family, love, loss and adventure. The world building is rich and well thought through.

The women all appear literate and have always had a key role in making decisions in society, down to the arrangement of Partition years ago and the level of female empowerment was not as I expected, and great to read about.

Lena has a range of emotions and convictions that I simply did not have at seventeen. In the context of the time though, when boys were sent into military training at seven, it seems appropriate that Lena behaves more like someone in their mid-twenties at such a young age in this novel. I lost track of the characters quite often, as there are many, and I had to refer to the character page at the beginning a fair bit to refamiliarise myself. The author clearly preempted readers like me! I was well invested in the storyline of the main characters though. I didn’t envy Lena for the choices she had to make, but I enjoyed the plot very much.

Those who enjoy strong female characters, keen world-building and the history of civilisations and how they evolve will, I think, really enjoy Empire’s Daughter. I am looking forward to reading the next instalment.

Purchase Link – buy here!

About the author: Marian L Thorpe

Empires author photo

Writer of historical fantasy and urban fantasy for adults. The Empire’s Legacy series explores gender expectations, the conflicts between personal belief and societal norms, and how, within a society where sexuality is fluid, personal definitions of love and loyalty change with growth and experience.

The world of Empire’s Legacy was inspired by my interest in the history of Britain in the years when it was a province of the Roman Empire called Britannia, and then in the aftermath of the fall of the Roman Empire. In another life, I would have been a landscape archaeologist, and landscape is an important metaphor in the Empire’s Legacy trilogy and in all my writing, fiction and non-fiction.

I live in Canada for most of the year, England for the rest, have one cat, a husband, and when I’m not writing or editing, I’m birding.

Social media links:

Author website

Twitter

Facebook

EXCITING GIVEAWAY!!!!

Giveaway to Win all 3 paperbacks of the Empire’s Legacy trilogy  (Open Internationally)

Empires Giveaway Prize

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box 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 despatch or delivery of the prize.

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As usual, of course, this is a blog tour and there are many other insights into Empire’s Daughter, the series and the author. Please do check them out!

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#Book Birthday Blitz for ‘Sleeping Through War’ by Jackie Carreira @rararesources @JCarreirawriter #blogtour #bookreview #bookbloggers #birthday

It gives me great pleasure today to be on the book birthday blitz for Jackie Carreira’s ‘Sleeping Through War’. Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for including me, and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed as a reader; honestly, individually and impartially.

Sleeping Whole cover copy

The Blurb:

The year is 1968. The world is changing. Students are protesting, civil rights are being fought and died for, nuclear bombs are being tested, and war is raging in Vietnam. For three women, life must go on as normal. For them, as it is for most ‘ordinary’ people, just to survive is an act of courage.

Rose must keep her dignity and compassion as a St Lucian nurse in London. Amalia must keep hoping that her son can escape their seedy life in Lisbon. And Mrs Johnson in Washington DC must keep writing to her son in Vietnam. She has no-one else to talk to.

Three different women in three different countries. They work, they bring up children, they struggle to make ends meet while the world goes around and the papers print the news.

History is written by the winners – and almost all of it has been written by men. The stories of women like these go unremarked and unwritten so often that we forget how important they are.

My review:

1968 was a year of extraordinary political turmoil across the world. The Vietnam War was being lost and being exposed as such, despite all assurances to the contrary from the men in charge, comfortable in Washington DC. The civil rights movement was mobilised, and juxtaposed against this extraordinarily tumultuous backdrop, the lives of three women are the focus of this poignant and thought-provoking story. Womanhood, motherhood and sisterhood are the pertinent themes.

The women’s accounts are all presented differently. Amalia’s story is told in the third person, Rose’s in the first and Mrs. Johnson’s, through a series of letters written to her son, who has been posted to Vietnam.

Amalia, in Lisbon, is a wonderful mother, but having suffered widowhood in her 20s she is forced to make sufficient money to support her young son in the only way she knows how. She shows enormous strength and I admired her for the tough decisions she makes.

Rose, in London, travelled to work as a nurse from St. Lucia during Harold Wilson’s time as prime minister when he encouraged workers in from abroad, stating that the time for racial prejudice was over. Sadly, the will of the general public is slower to catch up, and Rose tolerates casual and overt racism with extraordinary stoicism. Her friendship with Brenda, and the manner in which she undertakes her job, show her extraordinary kindness and thoughtfulness, and I loved her.

Mrs. Johnson broke my heart. Her rambling letters to her son, who she is missing terribly, are all the things she wants to say to her husband, but can’t. The public demonstrations against the war are affecting her very deeply, and her private correspondence to her son reflects her turmoil. Enormously poignant.

Most of us, I think, prefer our lives to be quite small and to retain our privacy and dignity where we can. Reading about other lives which are lived in the same way was an emotionally exposing experience, and I don’t mind one bit admitting that I had a little cry when I had finished reading.

‘Sleeping Through War’ is so well-written, thoughtful and compassionate. It really demonstrates that during a time when the rulebook is effectively being torn up, the effects have not filtered through the layers of patriarchal strata to let more than a drop or two fall upon the lives of these three women.

I enjoyed it immensely, and highly recommend Sleeping Through War. In actual fact, my mum popped over today and I’ve downloaded this on to her Kindle.

 

Purchase Links:

Wordery
Waterstones
UK Amazon

Author Bio:

Jackie Carreira
Jackie Carreira is an award-winning novelist, playwright, musician, designer, and co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company. A true renaissance woman, or a Jack of All Trades? The jury’s still out on that one.

She grew up in Hackney, East London, but spent part of her early childhood in Lisbon’s Old Quarter. Sleeping Through War was inspired, in part, by some of the women she met when she was young.

One of her favourite places to write is the coffee shops of railway stations. Her second novel, The Seventh Train (published by Matador in 2019) was born in the café at Paddington Station. Jackie now lives in Suffolk with an actor, two cats and not enough bookshelves.
To connect with Jackie: 
Twitter
Facebook
Website

Chronicles of the Pale by Clare Rhoden @rararesources @ClareER #bookreview #booktour

It is my pleasure to be on the blog tour today for Clare Rhoden’s trilogy, ‘Chronicles of the Pale’. Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for including me. I have read all three books, and I am most grateful for my copies of these, which I have reviewed honestly, impartially and individually.

The first in the series is ‘The Pale’.

ThePale_Cover

The Blurb:

The Outside can be a dangerous place.

But so can the inside.

It’s been years since the original cataclysm, but life has been structured, peaceful, and most of all uneventful in the Pale. The humachine citizens welcome the order provided by their ruler, the baleful Regent.

However, when one of their own rescues a human boy, Hector, from ravenous ferals on the Outside, their careful systems are turned upside down.

As Hector grows more and more human-strange, the citizens of the Pale grow uneasy.

What will happen when the Outside tries to get in?

Purchase Link –The Pale

The second is ‘Broad Plain Darkening

9781925652024-Cover.indd

The Blurb:

The safe world of the Pale is under threat.

Inside the policosmos, the new Regent Adaeze strives for dominance over the all-powerful Senior Forecaster, but the Pale’s humachine citizens are unaware that their city is close to collapse.

Outside on Broad Plain, the exiled human Hector undertakes a dangerous trek to find a safe haven for the orphaned twins.

How can anyone survive as their world shifts underneath them?

Purchase LinkBroad Plain Darkening

The third is ‘The Ruined Land’

The Chronicles - RuinedLand_inprogress

The Blurb:

Exiled from the Pale, humachine Hector has found a home with the tribes Outside.

Or has he?

While the canini struggle to care for the human twins, Feather travels Broad Plain to reunite them with their father. But his own family is scattered as the Pale sends out its terrifying army and the land itself buckles beneath them.

Can anyone survive the ruination of the land?

In this gripping conclusion to the Chronicles of the Pale, the citizens of the mighty Pale have as much to lose as the communities of the Outside.

My review:

So, it’s been the summer holidays and boy, it’s been busy. I only started reading this trilogy about 8 days ago, and I was worried I wouldn’t do it in time, having deposited four youngsters back into school, one child’s subsequent illness and another’s broken arm! Such is life though, and I will state from the outset that I haven’t enjoyed a series of books this much for years, probably not since Raymond E Feist’s Riftwar Cycle, and this, dear author and readers, is what has carried me through in time!

Clare Rhoden explains a complicated dystopian new world order very capably, through superbly written prose and convincing dialogue between her characters.

In The Pale, we learn that there has been a past event known as the Conflagration, an event set in a version of human future, so cataclysmic that all species are displaced, and have had to organise themselves once again. The current time is 197pc (post-conflagration), and the Pale has the highest population of organised life. If you can call it life. Humans in the past had abused the use of technology and science to disastrous effect, but in the Pale, humachines are the nearest relation to how some humans (probably the ones in charge) had become. They are propagated as engineered eggs, population is strictly controlled and there is an important distinction between those more important, and those not. They are ruled over by a regent, who is given the information needed to rule by a selection of senior advisors. They are protected by formidable walls and weaponry and there is total subservience and adherence to protocol, which lands serviceman Tad in trouble.

Broad Plain is also home to the Settlement, ruled by a chief and the religious leader of the Temple. This operates on a version of a caste system, whereby only those who have been assessed as a perfect example of the human species are permitted to breed. A lower town works to maintain the comfort of the higher town. This feels more familiar and uncomfortable than any other place written about.

The protectionist attitudes of the walled cities dictate that, although other places, humans and species exist, there should be no interaction (beyond Settlement trade). When it does happen, regardless of their rules, can this be tolerated in any circumstances?

The canini are genetically altered canines, who live free from their human masters in large family groups. One of the legacies of their human interaction, pre-conflagration, is their ability to use mindspeech, not only amongst themselves, but to communicate with other species who are receptive. They are wonderful.

There are numerous tribes of humans, and we are introduced to the Storm, who live lightly on the land and move around regularly to limit their impact. They have no walls, and so are considered to inhabit the Outside.

The Outside is a dangerous place now. Not only could you run into pantheras, strikebeasts and snakes, the engine ferals are enough to give anyone nightmares, and they are our own fault.

So, I suppose we could say that we can see how we could, how we do, and perhaps how we should live, all within these stories set on Broad Plain.

In the first of the trilogy, there is an aftershock, a massive geological event following the first conflagration. There is massive damage on Broad Plain, and the communities must reassess many aspects of how life is managed.

More than once during the reading of these Chronicles, my part of our joint cognitive dissonance felt a distinct tremor of its own, particularly with regard to treatment of other species, our environment, and acceptance of technologies developed for who knows what, really.

We get many equal third person perspectives from multiple characters, who are all expertly drawn. I don’t think there is one voice louder than the others in the telling, and I loved how my interest in the story was maintained by moving from one to another character’s experiences.

My guilty pleasure was in the form of the magnificently Machiavellian Senior Forecaster of the Pale, Jaxon Tangshi (think Petyr Baelish/Peter Mandelson, but with longevity). Most of the *gasp, no! moments happened because of him, so I just loved his character although he is completely hateful.

Progressing through the series, I was in awe of the author’s ability to handle grief and intense drama, yet bring hope, faith, loyalty and kindness into such abysmal chaos.
If there is one thing I would have liked (to risk sounding a bit like a disgruntled GOT fan), it is that there would just have been one more chapter near the end set in the Pale.

However, to criticise based on merely wanting more is not a failing at all. I totally loved Chronicles of The Pale and will be raving about them. In fact, Drew, if you’re reading this post at all, I think you’ll love these books.

If this is where we are headed, we need to be afraid. Should I have to face it, I would only do it, if I could, with a dog by my side as my equal, and on the lookout for friends.

Purchase Links:
UK – The Ruined Land
US – The Ruined Land
AU – The Ruined Land

Author Bio:

Clare Rhoden
Clare Rhoden is a writer, speaker and reviewer inspired by politics, culture and the march of history. Her thought-provoking stories and popular characters inspire hope and optimism through challenging times, with novels ranging from wartime history to the dystopian world of the Pale.
To connect with Clare:
Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Exciting giveaway!!!: Enter here

Giveaway to Win Signed Copies of all three Chronicles of the Pale books & wolf-dog toy made by Borchetta Plush Toys of Australia (Open INT) * see terms and conditions below:

The Chronicles - Giveaway - All 3 books

The Chronicles - Giveaway Prize - Wolf Toy

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above. 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 despatch or delivery of the prize.

‘In The Company Of Strangers’ by Awais Khan @rararesources @AwaisKhanAuthor #bookreview #bookbloggers #blogtour

It is my pleasure to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for Awais Khan’s debut novel ‘In The Company Of Strangers’. Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey, from Rachel’s Random Resources, for including me, and to the author for the copy of the book, which I have reviewed as a reader; honestly, individually and impartially.

In The Company of Strangers Cover

The Blurb:

Mona has almost everything: money, friends, social status… everything except for freedom. Languishing in her golden cage, she craves a sense of belonging…

Desperate for emotional release, she turns to a friend who introduces her to a world of glitter, glamour, covert affairs and drugs. There she meets Ali, a physically and emotionally wounded man, years younger than her.

Heady with love, she begins a delicate game of deceit that spirals out of control and threatens to shatter the deceptive facade of conservatism erected by Lahori society, and potentially destroy everything that Mona has ever held dear.

My Review:

The prologue, which sets the scene for this story, makes us party to the tormented final thoughts and observations of a suicide bomber who is making his way into a crowded area in order to avenge his family. When he puts his finger to the detonator, he sets in motion a devastating chain of events.

Ali’s little brother is caught up in the blast, with life changing consequences. To pay for the medical bills, Ali must return to the sleazy work he had hoped to leave behind, despite being extremely successful. He becomes a top billing for the Lahori socialite Meera, who has been newly reunited with her best friend from her youth, Mona, who had married Bilal, a construction magnate, many years earlier. Their social circles are the same; glamourous and bitchy, a superficial whirlwind of parties and home visits which are very amusing to begin with, but palpable tension builds up throughout the story.

It is through Mona and Ali, our star-crossed lovers, that the story is told. The warmth with which these characters’ experiences are told is utterly pervasive and compelling.

I was struck with the author’s ease of writing from a female perspective. I lived and breathed with Mona for the duration of this novel. She has a sense of abstraction from the Lahori high society to which she belongs, allowing us to see the cracks and strains in her life and the lives of those around her.

Although the men believe they are the controlling force in society, there are some very formidable women too. Meera, thrice divorced and fiercely independent, makes it her mission to supersede all others in the pursuit of high society domination. This incenses the cunning and calculating Shahida Elahi, an older woman with a social agenda of her own. Mona’s mother in law, Nighat, is a complex character and I think I ended up liking her, despite her treatment of Mona throughout most of the story.

Away from the high life in Lahore, where secular conservatism is being espoused, young men are becoming radicalised. The dangers of charismatic leadership have been well documented throughout history, in all walks of life and fields of influence and Mir Rabiullah is no exception. He is a monstrous character, and unlike all others in this book, one who the author does nothing to redeem.

Mona experiences huge anxiety about the bomb attacks in Pakistan, which seem to be increasing in frequency and moving closer to the circles in which she moves. She is treading a dangerous path herself and there is great risk in what she does.

The plot of the novel is so compulsive; I found myself reading through the night to find out how Mona and Ali’s troubling situation would resolve.

I have experienced Istanbul through Orhan Pamuk, Kabul through Khaled Hosseini and now Lahore through Awais Khan. He is an author to watch, and I hope that he continues to write much more. As English speakers, to have language barriers broken down for us by skilled writers and translators, we are gifted access to recognise ourselves in others and to see the similarities in human society, no matter the location or culture.

Without reservation, I highly recommend In the Company of Strangers. It is an emotionally charged, stunning debut with masterful characterisation and a tremendous sense of place.

Trigger Warnings: domestic violence, bomb blasts and associated injuries, self-sacrifice, pregnancy related triggers.

This is of course, a blog tour, and there will be many unique perspectives on ‘In The Company of Strangers’ and I would urge you to read them. Some have interviews with the author and on others there are extracts from the novel.

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If you would like to order a copy, please follow one of these purchase links:

The Book Guild

Waterstones

Foyles

Amazon

About the Author:

Awais Khan photo

Awais Khan is a graduate of Western University and Durham University. Having been an avid reader and writer all his life, he decided to take the plunge and study Novel Writing and Editing at Faber Academy in London.

His work has appeared in the Missing Slate Magazine, Daily Times and MODE, and he has been interviewed by leading television channels like PTV, Voice of America, Samaa TV and City 42, to name a few.

He is also the Founder of The Writing Institute, one of the largest institutions for Creative Writing in Pakistan. He lives in Lahore and frequently visits London for business.

To connect:

Instagram

The Writing Institute on Instagram

Facebook