23 May 2017

Nȧȧpiikoan Winter by Alethea Williams



Amazon UK £5.62 £13.67
Amazon US $7.00 $19.95
Amazon CA $26.08

Family Drama
19th century
American Settlement /Native American

Based on the memoirs of a Hudson Bay Company fur trader, this novel centres around two people, Buffalo Stone Woman, a captured slave to a Native tribe, and Donald Thomas who is seventeen years old and who is sent, because of his linguistic skills, to live among the Native Pikani tribe in the Rocky Mountains in order to develop trade. There, he discovers Isobel, a Mexican landowner’s daughter who was captured many years previously by the tribe – and known now as Buffalo Stone Woman. Inevitably, a relationship grows between the two of them, which creates difficulties for the trade partnership which he is supposed to be seeking and encouraging.

Some of the scenes are graphic and unsettling, the Native names can be difficult to get your head around (I merely skipped over them) but Ms Williams writes with great skill, confidence and what appears to be highly detailed research. Her understanding of the differences between the two cultures is handled with dexterity, and makes this a recommended, very enjoyable read.

© Ellen Hill




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22 May 2017

A Discovering Diamonds Review of The House at Zaronza by Vanessa Couchman


 Amazon UK £1.99 £8.99
Amazon US $2.55 $11.99
Amazon CA $16.06

Romance / Family Drama
1914 - 18
Corsica

It is delightful when one of the main characters is a place, not a person, when the scenery is described in as much detail and as vividly as the lead protagonist and the plot.

In the present day, Rachel Swift goes to Corsica, the place where her mother was born, with the intention of researching her family history. She finds some letters, which are anonymous but passionate and written to ‘Maria’. Gradually she uncovers the desperate love between the couple, the mountains they must climb to be together and the heartbreak they must endure.

Maria becomes a nurse when war breaks out – but more than this I am not saying, because it will spoil the story.

The House at Zaronza is an emotional, absorbing and powerful read, a story of betrayal, misunderstanding and a love story, all wrapped in the tragedy that these can, so often bring, especially when war is the main background.

The story is of the island during these turbulent years, and of the people – local inhabitants, invaders and who had to live, die, and survive.

This is a debut novel, and although written with passion and skill it could perhaps, as with all new authors, have benefitted from an additional structural edit, for the pace ebbs and flows a little, especially at the beginning. But do persevere – even if only for the delight of the descriptive scenery. Vanessa Couchman has a huge potential talent, and will be an author to watch, I think.

© Mary Chapple



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20 May 2017

Its the Third Weekend in May


This weekend please welcome

A TRIBUTE TO RICHARD ZIMLER 
by Christoph Fischer

click here

Richard Zimler




PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE

JANUARY    :  A Tribute to Rosemary Sutcliff by Helen Hollick


   
APRIL           :  A Tribute to Harriet Doerr by Inge H. Borg

MAY              :  A Tribute to Richard Zimler by Christoph Fischer

JUNE            :   A Tribute to Ellis Peters


WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR!
  • Cover of Month announced on the FIRST weekend of the month
  • Book of the Month announced on the SECOND weekend in the month
  • Guest Spot - posted on the THIRD weekend in the month
  • Reader's Voice - posted on the LAST weekend in the month  

19 May 2017

A Discovering Diamonds review of ROMA AMOR Sherry Christie

 

 Amazon UK £2.39 £18.53
Amazon US $3.06 $22.96
Amazon CA n/a

Family Drama / Romance / Adventure
Rome 37 AD

Headstrong and hot-tempered, Marcus would rather prove his courage by leading legions against Rome's enemies. Yet when his father calls him home from the frontier, he has no choice but to befriend Caligula - the man he blames for not saving his brother.
Caught in a web of deceit, conspiracy, and betrayal reaching from Palatine mansions to the city's grimy, teeming streets, he will uncover a dark secret that threatens his family, the woman he desires, even his life... and may bring chaos to the young Roman Empire.”

Rome at the time of Caligula, we are all familiar with the ‘Fiddling while Rome burns’ character, and to a certain extent have we had enough novels about this period and character? I think not, because each vividly written story brings a new and different angle to this period of history when life was cheap, and the chap in charge of it, the Emperor was more volatile than Vesuvius!

Marcus Licinius Carinna has been fighting on the edges of the Empire, but is called back to Rome by his father who is one of Caligula’s advisors, and his recently deceased brother was a close friend to Caligula. Marcus is to take his brother’s place as Caligula’s friend. And then the plot thickens, to coin a phrase.

Ms Christie’s characters are well portrayed, with the everyday life in Rome equally as intriguing, from slave to Emperor. The streets, the homes, the palaces are all well drawn and feel believable. There are some exciting descriptions and scenes, some romance, some fighting, some adventure… enough to please most readers who enjoy novels about Rome.

I enjoyed the novel, it was absorbing and very good entertainment.


© Ellen Hill



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18 May 2017

Darcy by Any Other Name by Laura Hile



Amazon UK £4.00 £15.59
Amazon US $5.12 $22.58
Amazon CA $29.69

Fantasy
'Jane Austen' Regency 
England

The delightful Mr Darcy and insufferable Mr Collins exchange words in Netherfield gardens when a storm breaks and both men are struck by lightning. When they wake each man finds himself in the body of the other. With only tuppence to his name, Darcy can find only one good thing in the bizarre drama – as Collins, he is living at Longbourn with Elizabeth and her family.

If you can accept this body swap twist, then reading the book is both interesting and entertaining. If Darcy soon realises his misfortune, Mr Collins takes a little longer to see himself as the master of Pemberley. With no immediate way of resolving the situation, neither of them chooses to reveal what has happened.

The language is suited to the time period, though there are one or two Americanisms which do not sit well in a Regency tale, and a few typos – but they do not detract from the story. The book is very long, over 600 pages, and would perhaps have been better if the middle section had been tighter and shorter.

The moral quotes in the folly inform the reader, if not Mr Collins, that each man was intended to appreciate and learn from the other’s situation in life. Darcy’s attempts to woo Elizabeth while looking like Collins showed much more clearly how one can fall in love with the spirit of a man rather than his appearance. It is doubtful if Mr Collins learned anything at all from the experience and I wished that Mr Bingley had been more perceptive to the changes in his friend.

Most enjoyable and entertaining.

© Jen Black

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17 May 2017

DARK WHISKY ROAD by Jen Black



Amazon UK £1.20
Amazon US $1.50
Amazon CA n/a

Romance
Victorian
England

“For an ex-duchess, obeying orders proves difficult. But Melanie has little choice. Scarred and cheated out of her widow's entitlement, she accepts a post as housekeeper in remote Gavington House where widowed Lord Jarrow rears his young daughter. He has secrets, and Mel's curiosity will not let her rest until she has discovered what it is that occupies both him and his friend Mangerton. Soon she is embroiled in lying to the Excise men, and wondering if she dare risk falling in love again.”

Maybe Dark Whisky Road is a little melodramatic, and reminiscent of Jane Eyre in places, but what the heck? This is a thoroughly enjoyable true-to-the-genre romance.

I confess I initially selected the book because of the lovely piebald horse on the cover, which shows that cover content is as important as the narrative, but soon found myself engrossed in the struggles and doubts of our wonderful heroine, Melanie Grey. Forced to leave her wealthy life as a duchess, Melanie finds a position as a governess and housekeeper for a widower and his daughter. And so the plot continues from there, leading to the Excise Men and other such nasty baddies.

There are fascinating and well-created characters in this story, most of them with secrets or struggles to overcome, and of course there is an anxious budding of love. We meet the typical-genre necessity of brooding heroes, unsure heroines, dastardly anti-heroes, remote settings and misunderstandings

Jen Black writes with a crisp, refreshing style and elegant descriptions which take her reader right into the scenes she is creating. Her characters are equally well written, Melanie in particular is not the typical feisty beauty who has it all – she is vulnerable has her fears and none of the modern feminist views we often come to expect in novels. In this story she is ordinary – and I very much liked her, and Ms Black, for it!


© Helen Hollick




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