13 May 2017

Its The Second Weekend in May

No reviews at the weekend


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12 May 2017

CAMELOT'S QUEEN by Nicole Evelina



Amazon UK £3.20 £9.81
Amazon US $3.99
Amazon CA $18.30

Fantasy / Fictional Saga
Arthurian
Britain

Guinevere's Tale Book 2

This is an engrossing continuation of the first book in the series, Daughter of Destiny. Full of mysticism, fantasy, romance and adventure seen through the eyes of Guinevere herself. The characters are believable and engaging – the nice ones and the nasty ones!

Ms Evelina skilfully blends the few facts we know of the period with beautifully written fiction. She creates such an emotive and strong voice for Guinevere that this series is surely a must for all lovers of the fantasy side of Arthurian fiction.

Guinevere is now married to Arthur, the king, a marriage she did not want, but the couple come to respect each other and realise that their own feelings must rise above what is good for the kingdom. But of course life, especially in the world of fiction, is never as easy or straightforward as that.

I did spot a couple of anachronisms and typos but frankly this is such an engrossing story these were easily ignored. Easily read as a stand-alone.

© Mary Chapple





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11 May 2017

MADAME PRESIDENTESS by Nicole Evelina


Amazon UK £3.51 £10.20
Amazon US $3.97 $11.49
Amazon CA $18.43

Biographical fiction / American History
1872
USA

“Forty-eight years before women were granted the right to vote, one woman dared to run for President of the United States, yet her name has been virtually written out of the history books. Rising from the shame of an abusive childhood, Victoria Woodhull, the daughter of a con-man and a religious zealot, vows to follow her destiny, one the spirits say will lead her out of poverty to "become ruler of her people."

But the road to glory is far from easy. A nightmarish marriage teaches Victoria that women are stronger and deserve far more credit than society gives. Eschewing the conventions of her day, she strikes out on her own to improve herself and the lot of American women.

Over the next several years, she sets into motion plans that shatter the old boys club of Wall Street and defile even the sanctity of the halls of Congress. But it's not just her ambition that threatens men of wealth and privilege; when she announces her candidacy for President in the 1872 election, they realize she may well usurp the power they've so long fought to protect.

Those who support her laud "Notorious Victoria" as a gifted spiritualist medium and healer, a talented financial mind, a fresh voice in the suffrage movement, and the radical idealist needed to move the nation forward. But those who dislike her see a dangerous force who is too willing to speak out when women are expected to be quiet. Ultimately, "Mrs. Satan's" radical views on women's rights, equality of the sexes, free love and the role of politics in private affairs collide with her tumultuous personal life to endanger all she has built and change how she is viewed by future generations.

This is the story of one woman who was ahead of her time - a woman who would make waves even in the 21st century - but who dared to speak out and challenge the conventions of post-Civil War America, setting a precedent that is still followed by female politicians today.”

How many Americans, let alone us Brits on this side of the Pond have heard of this extraordinary lady, Victoria Woodhull? I would guess at a mere handful only. Familiar with our own Ms Pankhurst and Women’s Suffrage here in Britain I was interested to discover this US equivalent theme, and ended the book by wholeheartedly wishing that Ms Evelina could stray into the realm of Alternative Fiction and place Ms Woodhull as elected President!

Do not be put off by the thought that this might be nothing more than a novel about political events and women’s rights – it is both these things but primarily it is about a little-known part of American history which is both intriguing and fascinating. Written in Ms Woodhull’s voice, Ms Evelina deftly weaves the historical facts into the fictional inventive via a highly enjoyable and talented style of writing which vividly echoes Ms Woodhull’s own courage and determination.

The inclusion of an author’s note outlining what was fact and what was fiction in this novel was as engrossing as the story itself. What a pity that today’s political upheavals cannot be equally as enthralling as this most excellent novel!

© Helen Hollick



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10 May 2017

A Discovering Diamonds review of CHILDREN OF THE CHIEFTAIN: BOUNTY by Michael E. Wills


Amazon UK £1.99 £7.99
Amazon US $2.45 $12.99
Amazon CA $8.59

 Young Adult / Adventure / Fictional Saga / Nautical
Viking
Constantinople

Children of the Chieftain Series #3

“The young crew of the Viking ship 'Eagle' set out on a new journey when they are given the task of delivering a message in the land of the Rus. But fate has a surprise in store for them when they are ordered to travel on the Viking trading route south to Constantinople, a route fraught with danger. They must face warring tribesmen, deadly rapids and a host of other dangers before they reach their destination. There the adventure continues when they find themselves in the service of the emperor of the Greeks.”

Bounty is the third adventure in this delightful series for Young Adults, continuing
Ahl Brightsword’s story.

The Eagle’s crew are attempting to gather the treasure needed to end their banishment and return to their home, but find themselves joining with a fleet of warriors intent on aiding the Greek Emperor at Miklagard to defend against an invasion.

This is a fast-paced novel intent on drama and action, a prerequisite for attracting the attention of young adult fiction – especially for boys. Mr Wills seems to know his business when it comes to the detail of Viking ships and shipping.

Bounty can be read as a stand-alone, but starting at the beginning with Book One, Children of the Chieftain: Betrayed will heighten the adventure.


© Ellen Hill




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9 May 2017

THE MASK REVEALED by Julia Brannan

Amazon UK £1.99 £6.99  
Amazon US $2.49 $12.99
Amazon CA $16.99

Fictional Saga / Adventure
1700s Jacobite Rebellion
Britain /France

 The Jacobite Chronicles Book 2

“The second in the fascinating series about the lives of the beautiful Beth Cunningham, her family and friends... Britain moves ever closer to the 1745 rebellion and the impending attempt to restore the Stuarts to the British throne. With no other options available to her, Beth marries the effete and tedious social butterfly Sir Anthony Peters. She resigns herself to a future of formal parties and dismal social gatherings, whilst accompanying a husband who is both tiresome and physically repellent to her, but consoles herself with the thought that if she is not to know love, then at least she will have a secure and comfortable life. It may be uneventful, but she will be free of her brother. The ink on the marriage contract is hardly dry, however, when Beth makes a shocking discovery, one that turns her world upside down and throws her whole future into doubt once more. Almost immediately she must make a decision. Will she opt for the safe but dreary life her husband wishes her to lead, or will she fight for a life of passion, adventure and excitement, knowing that in doing so, she risks not only her own life, but the lives of those she loves?”

Beth and Alex continue their fascinating adventures in this second tale of romance and deceit. I thoroughly enjoyed this most exciting sequel to book one (this can be read as a stand-alone but I heartily recommend starting at the beginning with Mask of Duplicity.)

The twists and turns that the characters – and the reader – face keep the pages turning, with that ‘need to know what happens next’ feel. The writing style is excellent, the characters and plot believable. Yes we know the characters will get into scrapes, that there will be misunderstandings and all sorts of difficulties that they get into and out of. And we also know they will probably sort everything in the end because this is a series and the characters will more-than-likely be back for more adventuring, but the pleasure of reading an excellent ‘drama’ series such as this is not knowing how the characters get themselves out of various pickles!

Ms Brannan has obviously studied the period of Jacobite rebellion in great depth for the detail seems authentic for the political, court and wider-world historical fact. Yes the story is romanticised a little – but is that not the stuff that makes fiction entertaining? And this is highly entertaining! A recommended Diamond read indeed!


© Anne Holt


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8 May 2017

TOUCHING The WIRE by Rebecca Bryn


Amazon UK £1.99 £7.99
Amazon US $2.46 $9.50
Amazon CA $16.35

WWII
Auschwitz Poland

"In a death camp in 1940’s Poland, a young doctor and one of his nurses struggle to save lives and relieve the suffering of hundreds of women. As their relationship blossoms, amid the death and deprivation, they join the camp resistance and, despite the danger of betrayal, he steals damning evidence of war-crimes. Afraid of repercussions, and for the sake of his post-war family, he hides the evidence but hard truths and terrible choices haunt him, as does an unkept promise to his lost love. "

Touching The Wire is an excellent novel for the quality of the writing, the complexity of the plot and the depth of the characters. The subject matter is the unspeakable horrors perpetrated in central Europe between 1940 and 1945. The theme is forgiveness.

Not that either I or Ms Bryn would dare to suggest that those responsible for such inhumanity deserve forgiveness. But it is possible, even necessary, to believe that among those who were motivated by pure evil there were some who hated what they were doing.

Given that context, it is inevitable that some of the passages in this book are painful to read. Ms Bryn's novel covers a particularly disturbing aspect of the activities in the camps: the medical experiments conducted by the evil Dr Mengele.

Ms Bryn does not hold back from describing the inhuman cruelty to be found in the nightmare surroundings of Auschwitz. Her novel is told in two parts. In the first section a man who collaborated in those experiments is living under an assumed identity in England in the late 1970s and early 1980s. We follow him as he remembers his previous life and prepares clues he hopes will reveal the truth.

The second part is set in the present day as his 40 year old grand-daughter follows those clues. The way Ms Bryn has constructed these clues will delight anyone who loves cryptic puzzles. This section also includes a failing marriage and the flowering of new love. It ends with yet more harrowing revelations about the experiments as the unravelled clues reveal the truth.

Reading fantasy horrors, watching zombie movies, even viewing the horrors of modern warfare all too easily dulls our senses, so it is surely the duty of the writer of historical fiction to remind readers of the real horrors endured by ordinary people. In Touching The Wire Ms Bryn has done just that. Her book is, rightly, dedicated “to the memory ... of all those who have suffered at the hand of tyranny.”

This is a work of fiction, but the depiction of real events is all too believable. It is a novel which aims to answer the question “must we live our lives plagued with guilt, or can we find the strength to forgive ourselves?” Forgiveness is necessary for peace of mind. To forget is to demean the sacrifice of those who endured the inconceivable realities of the past.

A harrowing read, but for all that, a very good one.

© Frank Parker



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