To the Fair Land – Lucienne Boyce

This book contains:

  • attempted rape
  • incest
  • sexism appropriate for the age it’s set in.

This book is a bit of a mixture of following Ben Dearlove, and Sarah Edgecombe. I’m not sure if it’s because I had an advanced copy and so the formatting tends to be minimal, but I did struggle at times to identify when we were following Ben or Sarah.

Ben is the son of an apothecary but aspiring to be an author in London. Meanwhile, Sarah is the daughter of a merchant trying to live her best life in a world that isn’t kind to women.

While Ben is working on his first novel in London, a new novel is published and garners instant success. In an effort to earn money for himself so he can stay in London, Ben goes on a mission to find the author so that they can be offered a deal for a second book and he can collect a finder’s fee.

While on his mission to find the author, he’s faced with many challenges. Even when he finds the author, learns the truth and we fast forward a (few?) years, he’s still left with questions that never quite get satisfactorily answered.

My only problems with this book was that it felt a little slow paced (not at ALL helped by my supreme lack of reading time) and because of the formatting (already mentioned that this may have been an issue because I had an Advanced Reading Copy) I struggled to follow what was happening at times. I think the most obvious points where the formatting lacked was when we changed who we were following and when it was.

As a book that I could pick up for 5-10 minutes and then put down for sometimes days at a time (damn work hit me hard!) it was great. The pacing wasn’t so fast, complex or detailed that those gaps and small reading times made it difficult. It was probably one of the better books for me to read during this time because I’m not sure I could’ve enjoyed any other book when it took me that long to read it.

At the same time, I don’t think it’d be any less enjoyable reading it at a faster pace. It’s one of those stories that’s so well written that no matter how much, or little, time you have to read each week, you can enjoy the story for what it is. It’s an intriguing story that feels part fantasy, part history and part inspiration that is just so enjoyable and relaxing. Yes, even in a time of rampant death, it was relaxing!

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Lucienne Boyce writes historical fiction, non-fiction and biography. After gaining an MA in English Literature, specialising in eighteenth-century fiction, she published her first historical novel, To The Fair Land (SilverWood Books, 2012, reissued 2021), an eighteenth-century thriller set in Bristol and the South Seas.

Her second novel, Bloodie Bones: A Dan Foster Mystery (SilverWood Books, 2015) is the first of the Dan Foster Mysteries and follows the fortunes of a Bow Street Runner who is also an amateur pugilist. Bloodie Bones was joint winner of the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016, and was also a semi-finalist for the M M Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction 2016. The second Dan Foster Mystery, The Butcher’s Block, was published in 2017 and was awarded an IndieBrag Medallion in 2018. The third in the series, Death Makes No Distinction, was published in 2019 and is also an IndieBrag Medallion honoree, recipient of Chill With a Books Premium Readers’ Award, and a joint Discovering Diamonds Book of the Month. In 2017 an e-book Dan Foster novella, The Fatal Coin, was trade published by SBooks.

In 2013, Lucienne published The Bristol Suffragettes (SilverWood Books), a history of the suffragette movement in Bristol and the west country. In 2017 she published a collection of short essays, The Road to Representation: Essays on the Women’s Suffrage Campaign.

A Remedy in Time – Jennifer Macaire

This book contains:

  • attempted murder
  • memories of murder
  • references to psychiatric facilities and various treatments

Robin is one of the most interesting main character’s I’ve read about. With her history of mental treatments, her delicate relationship with her boss’s son, uncanny ability to survive against the odds and ability to make friends with unlikely allies, she really is one of a kind.

Jake, the son of her boss is briefly introduced at the start of the story, then not heard from again until much later. His role in the story feels more like that of a motivator and inspiration.

Yah, the caveman she comes across just won’t leave her alone and keeps popping up at just the right moment to help her survive. It feels at times like he’s a love interest, but the story moves much too quickly with too much drama for anything more than a couple of hints to show themselves.

Robin is chosen to be sent back to the last Ice Age to find traces of Typhus-77 which is currently running rampant on Earth. When she arrives, everything changes and she’s left alone, needing to survive the extremely dangerous time with no help.

Before help can get to her, she runs into Yah. With his help she recovers and is ready to be saved by the rescue team that arrives shortly after. Only problem is, they aren’t there to rescue her.

For almost the whole book we follow Robin surviving against the odds, in an attempt to bring back the cure Earth desperately needs.

I feel like Jennifer started this one off very differently to her other books. There was a lot more time spent setting up Robin’s background and the background of what was happening compared to previous books. As we got into the book, that makes more sense since she isn’t trying to impact the past to ensure the future, she’s trying to save the future with the help of the past.

As I got absorbed into the story, I found myself forgetting that there’s usually a romantic element and just enjoyed the drama and excitement for what it was. Its own adventure and amazing story!

With every hurdle, every obstacle, every little piece of information we learn, the story felt more and more complex. I did guess what had happened before Robin figured it out, but that didn’t help me when the rescue team arrived when I had to start all over again.

The whole time I was on the edge of my seat needing to know what was going to happen, how would they save the world and what would happen to Yah?

Of course, I was left hanging right up until the very end! And it was brilliant! I loved it!

Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Jennifer Macaire lives in France with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves chocolate, biking, & reading. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St. Peter and Paul high school in St. Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

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The Daughter of Victory Lights – Kerri Turner

Welcome back everyone, this review is a week behind schedule since I never go around to writing this review let alone scheduling it last week!

I was a little confused initially trying to remember what period I was reading at the time. I mean, you started in the 50s, went back to the 40s, then jumped around a little (always moving forwards in time) before making a massive jump to the 60s in Part 2.

This jumping around didn’t make sense to me until well into Part 2, roughly 3/4 of the way through the book. The first part of the book follows Evenlyn Bell, while the second part followed her daughter. Which explains where there was such a jump in time from the end of Part 1 and the start of Part 2.

Although I found that Part 2 was very anti-climatic and let the book down compared to Part 1. You must wait until the end of the book to find out why her daughter was raised away from her. What happened and why her father is so odd. None of it made sense and I almost lost interest in the book because of it.

I did push through. And I kind of wish I hadn’t. Although the writing and the story were good the ending just sucked. It could have been so much better but it just…ended! Nothing to it! Just blah.

I still rated it 4 starts because the writing was well done, and the overall story was good. I just didn’t enjoy some of the execution. It wasn’t to my tastes but I can see how some would enjoy it.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce.

A Conversation with a Cat – Stephen Spotte

Welcome back everyone, I hope you’ve been enjoying all the posts that have been coming out recently. Today’s review is another one from BookGlow, and I feel like I started off strong with the Autobiography of Satan and I’ve reached a point where I really struggled.

I went into this book thinking I’d be reading about some fantasy style version of the world where we can talk to cats. So, I was quite disappointed when it turns out that you just have to be high and drunk.

We started off the story hearing about how the main guy went fishing and ended up needing to get his gall bladder removed once he got home. And how from that he was high on pain killers and spent quite a bit of time drinking. Until he was outside one night and his cat suddenly starts talking to him.

Then the next challenge I faced while reading this was that I didn’t find the story engaging. The style of the writing was bad enough for me. But then the fact that there were very few paragraph breaks and there were only 8 chapters meant I didn’t have any natural spots to stop.

And what made it even worse for me was the fact that there were multiple times where one sentence spanned 1-2 pages. How does this even happen?!

I will allow that I had my Kindle zoomed in slightly, so I didn’t have to wear my glasses while I read. But I didn’t have it zoomed in THAT much! I even showed a friend who agreed the sentences were way too long.

And then at the end of the story, after spending pretty much the whole book focussed on Cleopatra, we all of a sudden are finding out about the cat’s life before he was adopted by the guy he’s been talking to.

As much as I wanted to oy this, because the idea sounded really cool, I really felt there is a lot of improvements that need to be made. Firstly, by having an editor go through it thoroughly. Those sentences, paragraphs and chapters need to be shorter. Hopefully that will help create some natural breaks and give it the improvements it deserves.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, on Saturday I will be reviewing The Secret to Falling in Love by Victoria Cooke.

The Awakening – Gary Morris

Welcome back everyone, this weeks book is another author request. This time from an author who only has one other published book, so you might not have heard of him.

But if you haven’t, you should give him a go because this is a book unlike any I’ve ever read before. It’s based in Hong Kong and includes a fair bit about the Chinese culture and history which is fairly new to me.

Story overview

The story begins at the end of the 19th Century in Hong Kong with a small and happy family. Only to have the parents murdered in the first chapter and a rampant display of racism between the local Chinese people and the “Gweilo”, or English, people.

Typically both races believe the other to be savages purely because they do things differently. Of course, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is the main theme of the book. However, it’s not the key theme so I’m going to leave that there.

Lei’s need for revenge against the Triads as the long survivor of her family is what we learn to be, the key theme of the story. As such, she learn’s Kung Fu to become calmer and to learn empathy.

However, her thirst to hurt “bad people” means she never quite reaches that goal. Instead, she ends up accepting her fate and became an almost merciless killer in her quest for vengeance.

My thoughts

Throughout the story Lei chooses to fight back against those that want to oppress others. And this, I believe, is something many people don’t have the courage, and or, the skills to do. So good on her for standing up for what she believes in!

However, the examples we see of Lei’s excessive force does scare me a little. But only because that lack of compassion or regard for human life is what typically forms the basis for a sociopath’s personality.

And typically speaking sociopaths can’t change who they are or how they react to things. They can learn to mimic emotions, but they can’t feel them the same way most people can. So how can Lei truly learn and display compassion if she’s unable to truly feel it?

Surprisingly enough, she does find the ability to be compassionate. And the time she finds this ability is what truly surprises me. It’s at this moment that we really get to explore the difference between revenge, and justice. Can she live with the knowledge that she caused destruction and the loss of hundreds of lives.

That’s a lot for anyone to bear, let alone someone who’s only about 18-20 years old. I can’t imagine the guilt gnawing at her conscious and how difficult it would be to get to sleep each night knowing that she cut those lives short.

So knowing that she had to live with that for eternity I can sympathise with her need to leave China and be somewhere else. Somewhere different where she can come to terms with everything she’s done.

Gary has told me since reading Miao-Shan that there is a second book for me to look forward to. And I will, because I want to know what she does next!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review. On Friday I will be reviewing Second Chance at the Ranch by Maxine Morrey.

Yes you read that right! This Friday! I look forward to seeing you again then. But don’t forget to read a little bit about this week’s author Gary Morris below.

Author Bio

For most of my working life, I was in the collectables field. First dealing in stamps and then in antiques. I have always had a love for Asian art and history. Particularly Chinese and Japanese. I have also directed and produced a computer game.

I started writing fiction professionally in 2010, during which time I wrote two complete novels, of which Miao-Shan is the second one. At the end of 2010, I returned to the property industry, without having acquired an agent. For the next six years, I wrote part-time.

I currently have two other books completed (one an unusual spy thriller, and the other a time-travelling paranormal fantasy), but neither is ready for publication yet.

The Autobiography of Satan – William A Glasser

Welcome back and a Happy New Year everyone, this is the first book I am reviewing from a new source, and in the new year and I can definitely say I chose an interesting book to start off with!

This book is about “Satan”, his life story and how he’s really not the bad guy he’s made out to be. Given that I’m not really religious and since I read another book last yr by Charlie Ludlow who challenged our religious thinking, I was interested to see what this one would deliver.

This story is written in the style of Satan dictating his life to Wag, his author, so it really does feel like Satan is talking directly to you. With the occasional debate between Wag and Satan at the end of some chapters. We start off right back before “humans” had evolved, before the first cave paintings became a thing and before language was really starting to develop. We are right back to when Neanderthals are just starting to create tools from shaping rocks by banging them against each other.

We then proceed through various points in time throughout history and even have some pretty well known historical figures referenced (eg. Atilla the Hun) at various points in time. Throughout each of these encounters Satan was telling us about how he was trying to enlighten the human race and that if we looked closely we would see he was telling the truth. He discusses the various times in history when things were swinging his way and certain powerful people became afraid and so cracked down on the people with fear of damnation. As much as some of the stuff Satan talks about seems farfetched, there were quite a few parts that I really agreed with. I’m not really religious so I didn’t have the feeling that I was betraying my faith, or having to try and unlearn something that was completely ingrained in who I was. So for some people I can see this as being a difficult read. But if you take it as a fun way to see history and human nature in a different way then you will enjoy this.

The ending felt like rather than Satan telling us his history, he was trying to entertain Wag to the point were some comments from Wag even made it into the main text. At this point in time we crossed over from a different view of history to really questioning the universe. A new concept of how the world was created, aliens etc were all brought into it. And to be honest. Some of it felt like it could even be possible.

Does that mean I’ve reached the enlightenment that Satan is wanting us to achieve? Does that mean I’m open to new concepts? Or does it just mean I’m gullible to a good story? I don’t know. But I had fun contemplating these concepts and what it’d mean for us human’s if there was any truth to any of it.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, on Monday I will be reviewing A Greek Affair by Linn B. Halton.

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds – Columbkill Noonan

Welcome back all, I hope you’ve continued to enjoy my posts. I’d like to take a moment to say a special thankyou to all my readers! Knowing that you’re out there reading my thoughts on the books I read is pretty special, especially since you’re taking time out of your (probably, because who isn’t these days?) busy lives.

Jumping into Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds. This is the second book in a series about two detectives that get taken into the various lands of the gods. I know the first book is set in Egypt because the title is “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab”. However they also tell us throughout this book that Anubis kidnapped them and had them working in the Egyptian afterlife to solve his case. We join the two detectives when they are leaving Egypt and on their way to Asgard. One of the Viking god realms, and this particular one houses Valhalla.

Now the first thing I found kind of annoying about this book is that it’s written in third person. For most people this is probably nothing. But personally, I find it irritating when books are written in third person because they shift who’s opinion you’re reading without giving you any indication of it. I also find that you don’t get to understand the individuals motives, thoughts, emotions etc when it’s written in third person compared to first person. But if you don’t mind or quite like the third person writing style, then you won’t have a problem with this.

Another thing that irked me was that it felt like facts would get conflicting info throughout the book. For example, very early on in the book I could have sworn they said Barnabas was a mouse, and Bindi was also a mouse when they met. Yet later in the book they are saying that both had only mouse heads while the rest of their bodies were still human. I could have just mis-read it or not remembered it correctly.

Also, I’m not claiming to be a viking expert. But from my knowledge of viking mythology there is some conflicting info in this book. I understand that there are going to be aspects that are not historically accurate, because otherwise how can you write an interesting novel? But little things like Loki being married, only half of the dead warriors going to Valhalla, dwarves and elves etc are all thing’s I’d never heard of before when I’ve read about the vikings. As I said, I’m no expert but when I compare those kinds of conflicts with other authors that have written about ancient times and gods. I’ve felt like they have put a lot more thought behind their writing, and you can tell that they’ve researched it. And I didn’t get that feeling with this one. This one felt like they’ve watched one episode of Vikings and thought “hey that’s cool, I could write a book on those gods!”

Now for people who enjoy reading to just escape from reality for a bit, who doesn’t mind the writing style and isn’t too hung up on facts. I honestly think you’d enjoy this. There’s a good amount of action, intrigue, mystery and a touch of romance to keep you interested. I just personally felt it wasn’t quite the style of writing that really grabbed my attention and kept it.

I’m also conscious of the fact that I started this book after reading like 8 books in two weeks. Where two of those books had me hooked the whole way. Kind of like if you were to watch a marathon of Game of Thrones and then try and watch something like Big Bang Theory afterwards. They are so different in so many ways. And because of how complex and intense Game of Thrones is, it’s hard to tear your mind away from that to go into something a bit more fun and carefree.

I wouldn’t mind reading the other books because the banter between Barnabas and Wilfred was very amusing. It’s just they probably wont be at the top of my pile and it might take me a while to get to the point where I want to read them. But as I said, I think that’s got to do more with me and what I like rather than the book itself.

I think this series could make a great present to a teenager or young adult who enjoys reading. The writing style throws me back to memories of reading the Twilight, Tamora Pierce and Richelle Mead series. All of which are massive hits with the younger readers.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this review. I strive to be honest but at the same time don’t like people who publicly diss something that’s not their style. When I come across books like that for me I try to explain why I felt like that and who it might be better suited for. That way I’m hoping you can make informed choices about anything you might want to read or recommend based on my opinions. If you are interested in this book you can find the links below, and keep in mind that this is the second book in the series.

Anyway, that’s me done for another week! Next week is the final instalment of Behind the Door “The Brilliant Game” by Adriana Gavazzoni. Are you as excited to find out who the killer is as I am? Well you will have to tune in next week to see if we can find out!

Author Bio

Columbkill Noonan lives in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, where she teaches yoga and Anatomy and Physiology.  Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her first novel, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab” by Crooked Cat Books, was released in 2017, and her latest work, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds”, is set to be released in September 2018.

In her spare time, Columbkill enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, aerial yoga, and riding her rescue horse, Mittens.

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