A truly wonderful book that moves the heartstrings and leads you to question the climate issue of the present. Glasfurd has chosen to write a historical novel about the year known as, the Year Without Summer: 1816. In the Sumbawa Islands, Indonesia, Mount Tambora stood at14,100 feet but the 1815 eruption reduce its hight to 9,350 feet while also killing over 71,000 people and throwing so much ash into the atmosphere it leads 1816 to be known as a year without summer. Crops failed, livestock died and famine became widespread in North America and Europe. The eruption of Mount Tambora was a super-colossal explosion, the worst in modern times with the eruption of Krakatoa coming in second.
It is during this year that Glasfurd has written 6 stories, the majority based on living persons, that show how the year without summer affected their lives. Starting with the most famous; Mary Shelly. Mary during 1816 is traveling with her future husband Percy Shelly and Claire Clairmont to meet with poet Lord Byron and his doctor, Polidori, in Switzerland. This meeting in Switzerland leads to one of the literature greatest moments. The “incessant rainfall” and unusual summer would led to a competition over ghost stories that would see the birth of Frankenstein. Next is the famous artist John Constable who saw his life change drastically in 1816 due to bereavement, marriage, and painting. Sarah Hobbs is much less known. In real life, she was the only woman condemned to hang for the Ely and Littleport riots of 1816 but her sentence was commuted. The riots concerned farmers, grain costs and unemployment. Although the issue was bubbling away on the back burner the 1816 crop failure acted as the spark that led to the riot. In the book, Sarah mimics real Sarah’s life but it is very loose. Cleverly, Glasfurd doesn’t just concern herself with 1816 she also writs a narrative based on the account of the Captain of the Benares. In this narrative the ship’s Doctor, Henry, records his mission first, to discover the cause of a sound, believing it to be pirates, to then discover the immediate aftermath of the Mount Tambora’s eruption. This account is quite graphic and heart-wrenching! Next a fictional character and narrative. An American Preacher settled in Vermont, Charles Whitlock, stands firm and convinces his flock of farmers to remain and weather the storm when they were preparing to leave, thereby leading to disastrous consequences. And Lastly, Hope Peter, a returning soldier from the Napoleonic Wars who finds the remains of his home.
All six narratives interested me deeply, I know from reading some other reviewers’ reviews that they could have done without some and could have had more of others, but I felt that all the narratives played a part in what the author ultimately wanted to achieve. An example of what a natural disaster, that has an enormous effect on climate change, can do to all types of people at different stations and situations. It wasn’t until recently that 1816 could be connected as a consequence of the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 and that the 1 to 2 degree chill effect had impacted the world through famine, politics and social unrest. A lot of parallels can be drawn from 1816 and today – but as the author questions, what does this knowledge give us?
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an E-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
One More Page Books in Arlington VA, hosted Christopher C. Fuchs, author of the Earthpillar Novels, for a book signing event to promote his newly released novel A Light in the Depths yesterday (8th February 2020).
A Light in the Depths is the second prequel novel to Fuchs’s debut novel Lords of Deception and concludes Rildning’s journey. You can read my full review of A Light in the Depthshere
A Light in the Depths can be ordered at Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Nobles as well as your local book shop with the ISBN:
Fuchs is back, with a powerful follow up to that cliff-hanger he left us with! A Light in the Depths is the second and final part of Rildning’s story which began in The Depths of Redemption. Unlike The Depths of Redemption Fuchs has changed his writing style back to character point of view charters, letting us get inside the minds of his vast cast.
The last book left us with the fall of Nalembalen and Rildning’s journal filled with New World secrets falling into the hands of the enemy. This book begins a year after the fall. The Gallerlanders still won’t use horses and metal leaving them vulnerable, they have won some victories but not enough. There is one last meaningful location left to the Gallerlanders, Gilgalem, and our heroes flee to it to prepare its defenses but allies are needed. Envoys are sent off in winter to potential allies, hoping to make common cause. Unfortunately, the enemy who are flowing across the New World have the same idea, making the Gallerlanders potential allies into their vassal-kings. Add to the mix: heart-rendering deaths, many a battle and seeing the great cities of Eglamour and Rachard be birthed and grown, The Light in the Depths becomes a book just can’t be put down, even for toilet breaks.
Unfortunately, I can’t go into more story without going into spoilers, so I will leave it here. However, I can do shout out to some of my favorite elements within this book. Hilsingor of Ned Gollen, Marshal of the Frontier Corps of Pemonia. is a fantastic character and a lover of wine, cheeses, and strategy, a person I could get along with in real life and gives off echoes of Sun Tzu. Then, there is a wolf among the sheep, an enemy operative who sits on the psychotic scale who successfully causes chaos from within while perfecting the perfect stick eye at Rildning. The Naren-Dra are impressive, I picture them as the Gods sitting in Olympia, watching the mortals below and messing with their life’s when they seem fit or come too close. Next, is a Macavalian Raffen vassal-king, willing to do whatever is needed regardless of what others think. Throughout, we are left to guess whether his surrender and adoption into the Brintilian Empire is sincere. But the biggest shout out goes to the creepy jailer of the Nyden. A sweet blind jailer who offers comfort in pitch dark cells only to help you by stabbing your eyes out through the cells’ keyhole. His scene was writing soo well mimicking gothic horror that it leaked into my nightmares. After all, what would you need your eyes for, in the dark, he was just helping…
A lot happened in this book, it’s well-paced and thoroughly engaging. It also, left a lot of room for future books, which is exciting. I would love to spend more time with the Naren-Dra and the Macavalian Raffen vassal-king. The only disappointing part: this book marks the end of Fuchs’s rapid release of books. Now comes the long wait…. luckily, I hear through the grapevine Fuchs will be publishing two new novelettes: Arcodum and The feuding Tower, this year to help tie us over until the next big book. If you haven’t already subscribe to the Earthpillar website, www.earthpillarbooks.com. By doing so, you get not just all the news about the upcoming releases, you also get Fuchs other two novelettes for free, The Revolution Machine and The Fourth Messenger. But ultimately, Christopher C. Fuchs write faster!
you to Loremark Publishing for an E-ARC in exchange for an honest
This month I present to you: DW Gillespie, winner of the MacDougle Award in 2002, lover of all things horror, sci-fi and supernatural and a master of suspense! Gillespie was a new find for me last year and the book that introduced me to him was One by One, a chilling haunted house tale complete with a recently moved in family and creepy stick men drawings. Needless to say, he has a fan for life. So let’s get to know him:
What was your favorite childhood book?
instruction manuals count? Do people even remember those at this
Seriously though, I
really loved short stories as a kid, and there were always tons of
scary story collections to choose from. I also vividly remember
heading to the same section of the library in grade school to check
out all the classic monster books. No clue if those things even exist
anymore, but there were these really great series of books that had
tons of pictures of the old Universal monsters, King Kong, Godzilla,
all that stuff. Whenever we were supposed to be reading something
constructive, I was back in that corner rotting my brain.
You have stated that the first story you wrote was in second grade and involved monsters wreaking havoc on an unsuspecting victim. Can you tell us more about it and if you have ever considered fleshing or rewriting it into a novel?
There’s probably not a ton of meat on those bones, to be honest. I don’t remember all the details but one story ended with my dad shooting Frankenstein in the head with a shotgun. Probably not enough to work with be honest.
I will say that I do
enjoy going back to my earlier stories from my 20s and cannibalizing
those stories. Most of them were not very good in terms of character
or perspective, but there were lots of good ideas in them. My current
work in progress is actually based on an unfinished story from about
a decade ago.
What was the first horror book or short story you read that truly sent shivers up your spin and had you keeping the lights on?
I jumped right into
some pretty heavy stuff once I started reading novels. I think Pet
Semetary was my first Stephen King book, which is pretty wild to
think about now. I was almost too young for some of that horror to
really work on me though. It’s a lot scarier now that I’m a
I think one of the
first short stories that stuck with me was Harold from Scary Stories
to Tell in the Dark. Looking back now, those stories were mostly very
simple, but I think that’s what made them work so well on kids. You
just had a basic story, a very creepy picture, and your imagination
filled in the rest. The ending of that one in particular is
excellent…I don’t remember the exact words, but it’s something
about Harold stretching human skin out to dry. Just perfect.
What is your favorite book now?
It definitely changes
depending on what I’m into at the moment. I just read Boy’s Life
by McCammon, which is just as fantastic as I’d heard. Definitely
shot into my top ten instantly. I love books like that, things that
sort of defy classification or genre. It was less of a horror book
and more of a slice of someone’s life and the history of a town.
I’m also kind of
obsessed by A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin. It’s a
deceptively simple book with so much depth hidden there.
As a horror writer, what is Halloween like in your house?
It’s a blast. I’m
lucky that my wife and kids are both really into it. We almost always
end up building a fire in the back yard and sit around, taking turns
telling stories. I have aspirations to write a short story collection
for kids at some point, and if I do, it will almost certainly include
a frame story about a family sitting around a fire.
Who has been a main influence in your writing?
It’s kind of cliché
to say, but it’s pretty much everyone. It would take forever to
make a real list, but off the top of my head, I’d say the following
people are huge influences on my imagination:
Stephen King, Shirley
Jackson, John Carpenter, Clive Barker, Guillermo Del Toro, John
Steinbeck, Cormac MacCarthy, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Gillian
Flynn, Junji Ito, and on and on…
Do you have any mascots or rituals to your writing?
The biggest ritual for
me is trying to find a theme song of the book I’m working on. It’s
become such a vital part of the process for me. I spend a ton of time
in my car driving to and from work, so if I can find a song that
captures the mood of a book I’m working on, I’ll just listen to
it over and over again. It really helps me envision scenes, and its
useful for me work through any sticking points I might have.
What are you currently reading?
I just got a few new
Junji Ito collections for my birthday. I just love his work, mainly
because it’s so insanely different from mine. I really enjoy
spending time in worlds that I could never up with on my own.
One By One:
How did the story of One by One first come to you?
I wish I could say
there was some really cool story about it, but this one just sort of
popped into my head one day. It took some work to flesh out the idea,
specifically bringing the characters and the house to life, but the
central hook was definitely the seed that everything grew from. The
idea of a family finding a picture of themselves hidden away in an
old house…that was an concept that I just knew I had to run with.
There is something creepy about stick people and having them on the book cover first drew me in. Why do you think stickmen are unsettling?
I think it’s all
about finding things in places where they shouldn’t be. A child’s
drawing itself isn’t super creepy, but a child’s drawing hidden
under old wallpaper is pretty damn chilling. I always love fiction
that deals with those impossible, out of place things.
The house creates a beautiful atmosphere for the story. I could never stay in a bedroom that had windows that look out into a laundry room for fear of shadows crossing the curtains! Did you ever live near a house that inspired it or rented one for a vacation?
I’d say about 90% of
the house as described in the book is taken directly from a house I
lived in when I was in high school. There were a few details that I
created, but most of the big ones were all real. The pool, the
bedroom windows, the upstairs crawlspace, all of it was real.
Alice’s bedroom was
directly inspired by my own, and I really did have windows that
looked into a different room. The whole house was just oddly
arranged, and it had been built onto several times over the years. It
made it feel like a small scale Winchester Mystery House.
After reading this book, I talked the ear off of my husband about it. We had just moved into our first home and as revenge, he pulled a prank on me by drawing stick people on the wallpaper. Any pranksters in your family that like to make your work come alive?
First off, that’s
such a great story! I love to hear when one of my books has escaped
into the real world, so to speak.
My kids definitely know
all about the basic plots of my books. My son in particular wants to
hear all about them, and we talk through them, even in the early
stages of the books while I’m still working things out. Neither of
my kids have tried to prank us like that though…honestly, I don’t
want to give them any ideas!
I feel we all know someone like Debra and Frank, why do you think Frank just couldn’t settle?
I love Frank, because
you’re right, most everyone knows someone like that. He’s a
schemer, but not in a bad way. He’s just the type of guy who gets
genuinely excited about bad ideas, and his excitement rubs off on his
family. They’re excited too!
I think most people can
relate to them, just because the grind of being an adult is so
boring. Even if we don’t admit it, I think most of us dream a
little bit about jumping into something crazy, if for no other reason
than to just escape the feeling of everything being so safe all the
Kudos, on the plot twist! Since the appearance of Walker with his mental problems, it got creepier and creepier. His last scene was particularly disturbing. Were his endsceen and demise always set in stone?
I had that final image
of Walker in my mind relatively early on, so I worked back from that
to make it work. A lot of the details changed, but I’m still in
love with that image of him tapping on the glass, almost politely
asking to be let in. Its almost an inversion of the movie trope of
the bad guy returning for one last, crazy action sequence. I think in
a sillier story, Walker and Frank might have had one last fight where
Walker gets thrown into the pool or something like that. This is much
darker than that, much more stark.
The epilogue tied everything up in the end nicely did you ever consider leaving it out to put us, poor readers, into purgatory?
going back to the previous question, I knew I wanted to hit the
audience with the surprise and horror of seeing Walker at the window.
Then, with a hard cut away from the action, I wanted to give them a
chance to breathe before they realized what actually happened that
night. The epilogue is just a nice chance to let the story relax and
settle after that shock.
Did you edit anything out of the book?
There weren’t any big
plot threads or branches that had to be cut, beyond just the usual
trimming. It’s a lean story, and I wanted to stay focused on
Alice’s point of view.
I’m convinced One by One would make an amazing movie and reading through Goodreads review comments I’m not the only one. If the opportunity came along who do you see acting which character?
I certainly agree! I’m
not really up on too many child actors, but I think you could
probably age Alice up a bit for a movie. Someone like Millie Bobby
Brown would be great, but even she’s probably too old at this
Maybe, if I’m lucky,
there will be more to talk about on that front at some point!
Where is the best place to get ahold of One by One?
wherever books are sold, including Amazon of course.
What are you currently working on?
Three projects up in the air at the moment. I have my first middle-grade novel being read by publishers as we speak. I really hope to have some news on it soon, mainly just because I want to talk more about it. It’s a great, simple hook that I don’t want to say too much about until it’s signed.
I also just finished the first big round of edits on my next horror novel, tentatively titled The Mill. It’s the most gruesome book I’ve ever written, and a big change from my usual, more quiet horror. Hopefully, they’ll be some news in early 2020.
And finally, I’m in
the early stages of yet another book. It’s another great hook, and
I can’t wait to say more about it.
I loved this book, the second half more than the first though the first is needed to set the stage. Alex is a Psychiatric Doctor working in an asylum and is being groomed to become the next Director of the hospital by his mentor and current director. However, unbeknown to Alex’s mentor, their treatment methods differ greatly. Alex’s mentor believes in holistic treatment with antipsychotic drugs used only when necessary whereas Alex believes heavily in antipsychotics, to the point he may have secretly created an antipsychotic that can cure schizophrenia. Unfortunately, while the antipsychotic works fine animals, the formula needs to be adjusted to work on humans. Luckily Alex has a schizophrenic brother and a whole hospital full of patients to use as test subjects or perhaps just one criminally insane serial killer.
The book focuses more on questioning, what is sanity? as we learn that, due to past traumas doctors are not quite sane themselves. Also, explored is how people with mental disorders ought to be treated – holistically or with mind-numbing drugs? As I previously said I prefer the second half of the book where we go down the rabbit hole of the mind of the insane or perhaps, a living Salvador Dali painting. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to explore these issues in a fictional way or for anyone who wants to escape into madness for a few hours.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher Flame Tree Press, for an advanced electronic readers copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
The book cover of Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau was the first thing that captured my attention. With a figure, I first assumed falling through the air it immediately invoked thoughts of Alice in Wonderland. This was helped along with silhouettes of the tops of circus tents I was sure this would be a book for me. The description went on to explain that the book is a historical fiction mystery involving the hedonism of Coney Island in 1911, one of America’s richest families and a web of deceit and lies as well as a few dead bodies.
I don’t know much about Coney Island apart from it being an amusement park playground mixed with nature’s oddities. But I soon learned that Dreamland was one of three amusement parks and unfortunately was destroyed by fire and was never rebuilt. The story is set in the final months before this fateful fire happened. A leading family of New York is holidaying in Coney Island at the request of a potential fiancée to one of the girls. It is not a destination the family would normally choose but the potential suitor is a rival in fortune to them and this marriage is a priority, therefore the family will dance to any tune the eccentric suitor wishes. In the middle of all this is Penny, a daughter of the leading family who wants to distance herself from the family and be an independent woman. She’s only here at her sister’s request and her family’s threats. However, Coney Island provides more freedom than she would have expected and the weeks she spends there, change her from the inside out. Soon bodies start to appear all over Coney Island, there is a murderer among them, but how close?
I enjoyed this book
even though I was expecting a lot more hedonism and nature’s oddities
from the time. More of an illusion I guess? However, Coney Island
was simply the backdrop to the story and not the story. This does
not diminish the actual story as the book is well written, with
greatly developed characters and a very enjoyable read. It moves at
a good pace and having put the book down I wanted to pick it back up
again. Unfortunately, life kept getting in the way.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an advanced electronic reader’s copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Her genres are Historical and Women’s Fiction, which has come out breathtakingly in her first adult debut historical mystery novel, The Companion, which is out today: 14 January 2020.
Without further ado, let’s meet Kim!
When looking for a new read, what stands out most for you: the book cover or the description?
Book cover and then description. A great cover will always reel me in.
E-books vs physical books, where do you stand?
I like both! I don’t think one is better than the other, merely different. Personally, I read fiction on my Kindle app on my phone and read nonfiction (including research materials) in print, so I can write notes in the margins, highlight, turn over pages, add Post-It notes and have the stack of research books on my desk in easy reach.
Do you have any mascots or rituals you do when writing?
My pets are definitely mascots – the leader is Toughie the blind cat, followed by Rocky the shepherd/Doberman/100% mutt mix, Naomi the old gal, and little Calvin. They all sleep in the office when I write, bark at passing trucks and squirrels (to remind me to take a break) and never let me forget dinnertime. Picture included. J
I do have specific rituals when I write at the library – a specific chair at a specific table, facing the mysteries. I’m out of sorts when it’s not available.
Which books defined your childhood and which ones define you now?
Nancy Drew, for sure. My mother read every Agatha Christie novel when I was very little; I think she was prepping me for the master. My family are voracious readers, so the library was a weekly event. In my teens I was obsessed with Gone with the Wind. That obsession moved into Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. I read pretty widely, so there isn’t really a genre that I read more than others. I can devour a Jasper Fforde book and follow it with an Emma Donoghue and then a Connie Willis.
But I will say that it is Daphne DuMaurier who informs my work. She is brilliant at deception and deflection, teasing out one small detail at a time until the story is filled with delicious dread. I have a portrait of her above my desk. She is very fierce in it, very stern, and a strict taskmaster. I can hear whisper, “Make it worse.”
What was the first Historical Fiction book you read?
Wow. I don’t remember. Probably Pride and Prejudice, but that isn’t really historical fiction, is it?
As a writer of Women’s Historical Fiction what was it that first drew you into this genre?
I love women’s history, and I’m impelled to learn how women lived and what made them tick in the past. So often, this history is not found in textbooks or history tomes, but in diaries and letters, and when I read those, I see such rich worlds.
How and when did the story for the book first come to you?
Lucy came to me in a dream, about 15 years ago. Her name at the time was Polly Bunting, and the dream was a fleeting image of a young woman caught in the act of stealing the pearl necklace from her (dead) mistress’s throat. I just started writing her voice, letting her speak, but at the time, I didn’t have much of a story and left it alone after about twenty-five pages. But that young woman never left me, and I picked up the manuscript and played around with scenes and ideas over the years. Each time I said to myself, “You’re not a good enough writer for this story yet.” And I’d put it away. But at one weekend workshop, Lucy came barrelling out at the first prompt and didn’t stop. I was all set to write a fun breezy book about an all-female jazz band in the 1930s, but Lucy had her own ideas. And I knew it was time. The book was complete in a year and a half.
Which character in your book are you able to connect with the most?
Lucy. She is maddeningly charming and dishonest and conniving and tough and vulnerable all at once.
Did you edit anything out of the book?
During developmental edits, we deepened some area and characterizations, and lost a murder as it pulled focus away from the main story. But nothing significant was edited out.
Lucy and Rebecca are both at some point companions to Eugenie, when first reading the book I thought the title referred to Lucy as she is the main character, but now I don’t think it is as cut and dry as that. What do you say?
Yes, that’s right. There are three companions in the piece – Rebecca and Lucy both serve as a companion to Eugenia, but the Matron is Lucy’s companion, also.
I love the description and atmosphere of the Burtons house, it’s perfect for the story, did you do research for this by having long weekends at a historical house?
I make sure I visit at least one historic house wherever I travel. In fact, I make sure to visit the historical societies also. I am obsessed with how people lived and moved through their time and their domestic spheres, and houses are telling. The Burton’s home is an amalgam of New England houses.
You don’t mind shining a light on the dark stories and the nitty-gritty which intrigues me and keeps me reading, is there anything you find too dark or nitty gritty to write about?
Rape and torture. Can’t go there at all.
Having Eugenie Burton blind in the book is a unique twist, it puts her in a very vulnerable position even though she is capable. Would you say Eugenie is the manipulated or the manipulator?
Eugenie is both. She manipulates the household and pretty much gets everything and anything she wants. She point blank tells Lucy that during one of their first conversations. But she is also manipulated by others in the house who have their own desires – for power, for love, for money.
And Rebecca, manipulated or manipulator?
As above. Rebecca is the poor cousin that is shuttled from house to house, an in-between in the household, and looking to keep any modicum of status she can. It’s an uncomfortable place to live – not close family, not distant staff, not much say over anything, even as it relates to her own life.
Do you think Eugenie’s love for Lucy was real?
I do. I think Eugenie found someone who didn’t coddle her, didn’t see her as a blind person, and saw her as an equal.
I have to ask, who killed Mary?
You may ask, but I may not tell. 😉 I will leave that to you to decide.
The novel has elements in it that at times that remind me of the works of the Bronte sisters or Daphne du Maurier did these gothic horrors influence you when writing this novel?
Thank you for that! Daphne du Maurier is my idol. She is a master at the reveal, giving away tiny bits of information – much seemingly innocuous – until the sum of the parts become a dreadful horrible whole. Then it’s too late to turn back. For the characters and the reader.
And the atmosphere in du Maurier’s works, like the Brontë’s, is used so well, each description worked to its fullest to provide not only the settings, but the feeling of dread and unease.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just finished the draft of my next book for Lake Union. It’s super dark and twisty: an asylum, an apparent suicide, and a woman who doesn’t buy the story she’s told about her sister’s death. And she won’t stop until she finds the truth. (Can I say she’s pretty kick ass?) It’s set in the same area of New Hampshire as THE COMPANION, though ten years later. It’s tentatively titled AFTER ALICE FELL, and will be released in January 2021.
How can we follow you?
I’d love if you joined my mailing list! I post new content monthly, from tidbits on my research trips to giveaways to stories of fierce women, and exclusive excerpts and other writings. Sign up here: http://eepurl.com/gjxqib
Today, 9 January 2020 marks not only my best friend’s birthday (Happy Birthday Amy!) It also marks the release date of two amazing Historic Fiction books that I devoured within days of receiving them. First up:
The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow
Star Rating: 5 Stars
I read this book during the festive season and it fitted in perfectly! A book about not fitting in, being an underdog, becoming a swan and true love, while under a blanket with a cup of cocoa and the Christmas tree lights twinkling set a romantic atmosphere.
The title says it all, The Other Bennet Sister, is the story of the least popular and outgoing Bennet sister from Jane Austin’s’: Pride and Prejudice. If you’ve been following my blog then you’ll know underdogs are my kryptonite! Until this book,I hadn’t spared a thought for Mary. She was always in her charismatic and beautiful siblings’ shadow and this is how the book starts. The first part is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice from Mary’s point of view and we discover a lonely character who has distanced herself and tries too hard to have her own qualities to stand upon. There is a beautiful heartbreaking sentence in this part of the book that describes it perfectly.
“Her hard work and effort had brought her the expertise she longed for, but it had been achieved at the cost of a simple enjoyment she once loved” Kindle Location 209.
This quote is appealing as I think we all have felt overshadowed and taken something we loved to such an extent that we lose sight of why we loved it to begin with. In this part, we also learn about the approval Mary desperately wishes for from her parents and how their marriage destroyed Mr. Bennet’s ability to bond with the younger girls and ultimately was to shape Mary’s view on marriage. Thus the book is set for Mary to learn about other marriages and to decide which model she believes to be the best.
The middle part is consumed with the Collins’ marriage. Poor Mary and Mr. Collins find friendship only to have Charlotte Lucas become jealous. Charlotte got my heckles up in this book, I was rooting for Mary to become Mrs. Collins especially as Collins’ depiction in this novel is so loving and Charlotte’s so cold.
The last part is where the novel comes into its own. Mary becomes a swan and emerges from her shell. So much so that she becomes caught in a love triangle. One suitor is steady and loving while the other is exciting and impulsive reminding the reader of echos of Darcy and Wickham. Luckily, Mary’s aunt has sound advice.
“The man who declared his affections most
readily is not necessarily the man who feels them most profoundly.”
Kindle Location 5237.
But, does Mary listen?
A truly wonderfully written tale of the novel
Pride and Prejudice and I would highly recommend it.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an
E-ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. All opinions
are my own.
The Lady of the Ravens by Joanna Hickson
Star Rating: 4 Stars
The Lady of the Ravens is a great idea for a book and I really enjoyed reading it. I’ve long been a fan of the Tudor Historical Fiction genre and got excited when I came across this book. The legend of the Ravens of the Tower is famous: it is believed that the Ravens are the guardians of the Tower of London. As long as the Tower of London stands so will the rule of the kingdom. The legend is so important that the Ravens are still looked after in the tower to this day and you can visit them. They have their own carers who look to their every need and to date they have never left the tower.
This legend is weaved into this novel. King Henry VII has won the throne of England, the country is trying to heal itself and soldiers don’t like ravens. We follow Lady Joan Gildford nee. Vaux from her time serving Princess Elizabeth of York after King Henry VII’s victory, to the alter and beyond to when she rises to the position of Maid of Honor. Joan is the Lady of the Ravens. She is enchanted by them and is a supporter of their survival and comfort. She knows of the Raven legend and the soldier’s dislike of them. They are used as target practice for archers and Joan makes sure that their bad opinions of them are changed. Beautifully, the ravens near misses coincide with troubles on King Henry VII’s throne, thus reinforcing the legend.
I’ve given this novel 4 stars as I felt some storylines felt incomplete and brushed over important issues. One of King Henry VII’s biggest threats was the presence of Perkin Warbeck, the Pretender. We don’t meet him in the book, he is only ever talked about yet he is talked about at great length. I expected more from this storyline as there was a lot of potential in the way this book is written; but the second half of his story, especially the capture, imprisonment, and execution was more of a footnote. The same can be said for Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick. My other gripe with the novel is that it ended too soon. Prince Arthur and Queen Elizabeth were still alive at the end of the novel but Joan’s life became more dramatic after their deaths. Joan went to France with Princess Mary for her marriage to the King, she was part of King Henry the VIII’s great matter and she married a second time, to a youth she looked after in the novel. Perhaps a sequel to the book is coming… I hope so for there are many stories still to go and I’m very found of Joan and the Ravens.
Thank you to NetGalley
and the publisher for an E-ARC of this novel in exchange for an
honest review. All opinions are my own.
I have seen the musical and the film but, until now, I’ve never read the book until now.
The Horror Writers Association and the publisher Poisoned Pen Press have joined forces to produce a new reprint series of classic Gothic Horror, (Haunted Library of Horror Classics) in the hope of introducing a new audience and reminding old ones why they fell in love with the genre. Each novel begins with an introduction from a noted author or expert with study group questions provided at the back to help further exploration. Nancy Holder, winner of multiple Bram Stoker Awards and New York Times bestseller is this book introductory author which I found added much and set the scene for what I was to read.
While reading the book I discovered a new love for the Phantom that you can’t quite get just by watching the film. Once again ‘the book is better’ rings true. From the Communist Torture Camber to a safety pin the book kept on pulling me in deeper. At the end of the book is some information about the author Gaston Leroux and I loved finding out that Leroux had first-hand experience about the Communist bodies found under the opera and the secret passages as he had reported upon it for his newspaper.
I highly recommend this book and this version of the book. Poor Phantom, by the end after everything I wanted him to get the girl.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher Poisoned Pen Press for an electronic advanced reading copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. As always all opinions are my own.
This new edition is out now 7 January 2020 at all major bookselling sites and stores.
There are so many fun Christmas books for toddlers at this time of year! I’ve rounded up my tot’s favorites:
The Night Before Christmas: A Bedtime Shadow Book by Clement C. Moore, Illustrations by Martha Day Zschock
The classic tale presented in a unique way! This The Night Before Christmas is a shadow book, which means you need to be tucked up in bed with a flashlight. Each illustration is designed for you to shine a flashlight through creating a shadow on the bedroom wall. It’s supposed to be for children between 4 and 9 but my tot loves it and I love trying to focus the light right while the peanut gallery heckles :D. In my family, it’s a top winner!
Christmas: Felt Play by Image That Group Ltd
Such a fun and interactive book! My tot and I love settling down and getting out the 20 felt play pieces and arranging them in the 5 Christmas play scenes. A very loose story flows throughout but the funs the felts!
The Christmas Story by Igloo Books Ltd
The Christian story of the birth of the baby Jesus with 8 magical sounds. We picked this book up at the beginning of the month and tot still loves pressing though all the sounds…sometimes mummy doesn’t read fast enough.
The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker Illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle
Tot got this book last Christmas. It has been a favorite all year round. but it comes into its own on since the start of December. On each page, you need to find the musical note symbol. When pressed them you can hear Tchaikovsky’s music following with the classic tale of the Nutcracker. A must-have book if you don’t have it yet.
It’s starting to snow outside!… Well, it’s sleet but there are definitely some snowflakes. Anyway, it put me in the mood of a historical fiction novel and that novel is The Hollow Queen by Sherry D. Ficklin. I read this a few months ago, but it’s set in snowy Russia, in the past and glamourize as well as dramatic.
The Hollow Queen is the fifth novel in the Stolen Empire Series by Sherry D. Ficklin. When I received this book I didn’t realize this and I haven’t read the previous titles but I am happy to say that this book can be read as a stand-alone and I really enjoyed it. My historical reading has centered mainly on British and European medieval and renaissance themes and I hardly know much about the Russian royal Romanovs, with the exception of the final royal Romanovs who sow the dynasty end. This novel follows the daughter of Peter the Great, Elizabeth, after the death of both her parents which strips her of her estates and title in favor of her half nephew to the Tsar. I found this story to be engaging and moved at a good pace. I liked the character of Elizabeth a lot and her thoughts regarding placing duty above her personal interests and it has given me a desire to know more about the other Romanovs. I am greatly looking forward to the continuation of Elizabeth’s story in the next book. My interest has been aroused due to the taster of Empress Anna, who is only briefly mentioned, but intriguingly, she has inherited the madness of her father, Ivan V. I will not google any of the historical characters until after the series finishes, to avoid spoilers and continue the bliss of ignorance. Luckily, while I wait for the next installment, I have four previous books to catch up on.
you to NetGalley and the publisher, Clean Teen Publishing, for an
advanced electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest
review. As always, all opinions are my own.
I am proud to present the fantastic Charlie N. Holmberg as my Author of the Month for December. This amazing fantasy author is best known for The Paper Magician series but the first book I read of hers and fell in love with was The Fifth Doll.
Let’s learn a bit about you!
What book would you say defines your childhood and
which book would you say defines you now?
My favorite books as a kid were the
Goosebumps books and the American Girl books (even
though I never owned an American Girl doll). As an adult, I was
shaped a lot by epic fantasy. I think the most influential was
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.
Which was the first book to make you cry and which
was the first to make you laugh?
I’m not sure which title first brought me
to tears, but the first book to make me UGLY cry? Daughter of the
Forest by Juliet Marillier. I was all snot and tears for that
one. I’m not sure on laughter either, but it could have been Ella
Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing when I was 13, so… 18
What’s the funniest typo you’ve ever written then
I’ve accidentally dropped profanity into
books where I didn’t mean to. I also have a weird thing where I
type “back” when I mean “bag.” All. The. Time.
Do you have a writing mascot or ritual?
Not particularly? I write in the mornings
after my kids go to school, Monday through Friday. I’m very
disciplined about it.
How do you handle deadlines and priorities?
I just do them. I know that’s a weird
answer, but it’s how I’m wired. I have never once missed a
Do you use any writer’s apps and if so are there any you would recommend?
I don’t. Just me, my brain, and Microsoft
The Fifth Doll is a favorite of mine, especially because I have an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and so many elements of the novel deal with issues that were in my course. I have been known to use the book as an illustration in arguments similar to The Matrix, red or blue pill. With that being said I’d like to quiz you about this novel.
How did the idea for the novel first come to you?
So I was preparing a class on magic systems
for a local conference, and I wanted to get the attendees to think
outside the box and create a magic system of their own. I was
walking around my house, writing down random things I saw—forks,
thread, newspapers—so that I could have the class come up with
magic revolving around them. I reached the shelf that had my
matryoshka dolls on them and paused. Magical matryoshka dolls…
that sparked something in me. Needless to say, I kept that one for
What research did you do for the book?
A lot of late 18th-century Russian
research. Most of the book is quasi-Russia, so I had some leeway,
but I had to research some stuff about relevant tzars and how
marriage was handled, clothing, food, etc. I also revisited Freudian
psychology, since that has some influence in the novel as well.
Did you edit anything out of the book?
Nothing major. Not that I can recall.
A room of villager nesting dolls is a terrifying
image, what would you do if you found a room filled with nesting
dolls of people you know, would you open one?
Oh, totally. That would be a true WTF moment.
Though I would be terrified of getting caught.
In Matrona’s position would you fight being given
You know . . . I’m not totally sure I would. I would probably 100% play along until I figured out for sure what was going on, and then make a judgment and potentially a secret betrayal, ha.
At the end of the book, we are confronted with the
concept of freedom and if it is truly desirable. Do you think true
freedom is desirable?
True freedom is always desirable. The
freedom Matrona achieves, not so much.
Which would you choose, the world within the dolls
or the real one?
I would probably choose to stay in the dolls!
(SPOILER>) The reality Matrona takes everyone into is a winter-
and war-ridden one. They have literally nothing. It’s going to be
CRAZY HARD to make a life and a living, especially in the throws of
WWI. If I had to choose between those two worlds, I would choose the
nice sunny one, thank you very much.
Have you considered writing a sequel or prequel to
the novel? If so I wish to pre-order.
Considered? Briefly. Will I write one? No.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on SO MANY THINGS. I’m
finishing up my Spellbreaker duology, the first book of which
will release in fall 2020. I also have a high fantasy duology I’m
working on with Caitlyn McFarland (author of the Dragonsworn
series). Then I have a book called STAR MOTHER that I’ll be doing
my first round of edits on soon (from my alpha readers—haven’t
sold that one yet!).