20 May 2017

Its the Third Weekend in May


This weekend please welcome

A TRIBUTE TO RICHARD ZIMLER 
by Christoph Fischer

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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

 

 AmazonUK £2.39 £18.53
AmazonUS $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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16 May 2017

BEYOND DERRYNANE by Kevin O'Connell



AmazonUK £4.54 £11.21
AmazonUS $5.57 $15.99
AmazonCA $20.74

Fictional Saga (adult content)
18th Century
Ireland / Vienna

This work of fiction deals with one of the less frequently mentioned aspects of Irish history. Throughout most of the eighteenth century the lives of Irish Catholics were constrained by so called 'Penal Laws' which prevented them from participating in certain professions; they were forbidden to practice their religion or own property, and education was denied them. Despite this, a handful of wealthy Catholic families managed to hold on to their wealth and continue to trade out of small ports in the South West of the island with the Catholic nations of Europe – France, Spain and Portugal in particular. Not permitted to serve in the British king's army, their men signed up instead to the armies of Britain's enemies – the previously mentioned three nations and the Austro-Hungary empire.

One such family was the O'Connells of Derrynane in County Kerry. The most famous member of this clan, memorialised in the name of Dublin's principle thoroughfare, was Daniel O'Connell. He, however, came to prominence in the first half of the nineteenth century, after the Penal Laws were removed, along with Ireland's independent government, by the Act of Union.

The principle protagonist in this novel is Daniel's aunt, Eileen. Married and widowed before her 17th birthday, the real Eileen later married a man from Cork but was widowed for the second time when he was killed for his opposition to the Penal Laws. This second husband had served as an officer in the Hungarian Hussars, attached to the court of Empress Marie Theresa in Vienna.

This version of Eileen's early life covers that first marriage and the six years between it and the second. Following the tragic end of her first marriage, she and her older sister, Aby, are sent to serve in the Court of Marie Theresa, where their uncle is already well established as a General in the army with the honorary title of Baron. Aby becomes Lady-in-Waiting to the Empress and Eileen governess and riding tutor to the Empress's two youngest daughters.

The novel falls naturally into two sections, the first dealing with the first marriage, and the second with life in Vienna. I found the use of language a little disconcerting at first, with its convoluted sentence structures laced with numerous qualifying clauses. The author tells us this is a deliberate attempt to replicate the writing of the period. I have to say that I soon became used to it. The subject matter very quickly held my interest despite the distraction of the sentence construction.

My interest flagged a little during some of the passages dealing with life at court. I suspect, however, that there will be many readers who will enjoy this; those who are fans of the television series Versailles, for example.

A warning: Eileen is portrayed as someone who enjoys sex in all its many forms. Indeed, her first experience, on her wedding night, provides the excuse for a brutal assault by her elderly husband. Subsequently, both are shown enjoying a very active sex life before the old man's untimely death by a heart attack. In Vienna Eileen forms a relationship with a Swedish officer and, again, embarks on a series of sexual adventures. Not that this plays more than a subsidiary role in her life, but it does make it impossible to recommend the book for younger readers, or those who dislike sexual content.

Eileen's second marriage offers plenty of opportunity for further adventures (sexual and otherwise!) and there is, in this volume, a brief introduction of one of her brothers (also called Daniel) to life as a cadet in Louis XV's École Militaire in Paris, which promises to offer another fascinating thread in the history of this remarkable Irish clan.

© Frank Parker





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15 May 2017

THE MAGICIAN'S BRIDE by Jen Black


Amazon.UK £0.99
Amazon US $1.24
Amazon CA n/a

Romance / Fantasy / Adventure

Viking

“Gisla might have won her freedom, but can she stay out of the evil magician’s clutches? There seems nothing that can save her from Karli Olafsson except a handsome stranger who doesn’t believe in magic…. His name is Olli.

This wonderful Viking romp will suit any reader who likes a bit of magic and adventure mixed in with the romance.

Gisla is a woman with determination and courage, and beyond all else is set on avoiding a marriage she does not want, particularly as it is to a less than pleasant magician, Karli Olafsson. Olli Ketilsson, on the other hand, is a young, slightly immature man who has flawed edges. Then there is Flane, Olli’s foster father, who relies on his ship’s crew to aid Gisla when she needs help. The escapes and escapades come at page-turning speed, overdone for real life, but this isn’t meant to be taken seriously as fact, it is a fun, romantic pleasure read and as such, it excels.

Set in the Norse settlement area of the west coast of Scotland, Cumbria in northern England and Dublin, the story gives a believable picture of these rough and unruly times when Pagan ritual ran alongside early Christian.

The Magician’s Bride is a light, easy read absolutely ideal for satisfying e-book entertainment while travelling or lazing in the sun somewhere. For less than $2/£1 or free on Kindle Unlimited how can you go wrong?


© Anne Holt




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