Our Man in Kuwait by Louise Burfitt-Dons @LouiseBurfDons @RandomTTours #suspense #historicalfiction #spythriller #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Our Man in Kuwait by Louise Burfitt-Dons. This is a historical fiction story set in the 1960s and is one I really enjoyed.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for arranging my copy of the book for the Blog Tour.

A colonial-era thriller set against the background of big power conflict. The ultimate timepiece tinderbox of sun, sex and spies.

Kuwait 1960. With Soviet backing Iraq plans to invade.

Gordon Carlisle lives in the expat community of Ahmadi with little to worry about other than when to next don his dinner jacket.

Following contact by an MI6 agent everything changes.

Even marriage to his beautiful new wife Anita breaks down as he becomes a suspect in a chain of deaths in the Protectorate.

Ian Fleming’s time in Kuwait is recorded at first hand as Britain prepares to meet the Iraqi forces head on with Operation Vantage.

MY REVIEW

This is a book that is a little bit of a slow burner but one that slowly crept up on me. I did struggle a little in the beginning but once I got to know the characters I began to feel more effortless with the book. While it started as a slow burner it definitely picked up pace as the story unfolded, and, what an intriguing story it was!

This is set in 1960 in Kuwait, I am mostly aware of the recent history of this area, but I didn’t know much about it from the 60s, just a little before my time. The author has woven an interesting mix of fact with fiction to give a convincing and extremely twisted account of the roles of spies, governments, double agents and foreign powers in the region. It is focused on Gordon Carlisle.

Gordon is a bit of a non-descript man as such, goes to work, has friends, is married to Anita and carries on with his life in the Ahmadi ex-pat community. Talk between friends about potential problems in Kuwait, if the British government will send in troops and if those living there will have to flee.

With rumour running rife it doesn’t take much for suspicions to escalate. This means that one act can be seen as something more sinister. When the finger points in the direction of Gordon, he above all is surprised. In a world of espionage nothing and no one is completely innocent… are they?

I really enjoyed the weaving and intrigue the author built up around her characters. I did kind of like Gordon and I did feel for him as he did seem to be the innocent party. It is however that old saying of “there’s no smoke without fire” or that he surely must have known something. This constant state of suspicion makes everyone look guilty.

While the author told of Gordon, his friends, work and the politics of the area there is something else working in the background. This makes the story addictive and it did keep my interest. With mentions of anthrax, bombs, kidnapping and questioning by the police, there is enough of a tense atmosphere to create a dangerous scenario.

I liked this one and I did like the slower pace in the beginning as there are quite a few characters to get to know and also some history of the region and its main players. An enjoyable story and one that I would happily recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This book is a work of fiction but inspired by real events. Louise Burfitt-Dons was born and brought up in Kuwait during the threat of invasion by Iraq in 1960 and 1961. Her father Ian Byres was the Preventative Health Officer for the Kuwait Oil Company based in Ahmadi. At the end of 1960 Ian Fleming visited Kuwait to write a book. Louise is the author of the bestselling Karen Andersen Thriller series. Our Man in Kuwait is a stand alone novel.

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The Family Tree Mystery by Peter Bartram @PeterFBartram @RandomTTours #mystery #historicalfiction #crime #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Family Tree Mystery by Peter Bartram. I have been a fan of his Colin Crampton series for quite a while now and it is always a delight to be able to catch up with Colin and his girlfriend Shirley.

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My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours and to Peter for my spot on the Blog Tour and for my copy of this brilliant mystery book.

A FAMILY TREE… SKELETONS FROM THE PAST

Brighton crime reporter Colin Crampton gets on the trail of a big story when Hobart Birtwhistle, a distant relative of feisty model Shirley Goldsmith, is mysteriously murdered.

Colin and Shirley team up to investigate the case. Spiky history don, Victoria Nettlebed, suggests the mystery may lie a century earlier in the life of an Australian gold prospector… and the death of his partner.

But does Nettlebed know more than she’s telling? And why did cockney metals trader Lionel Bruce meet Birtwhistle days before his death?

Shirley wants Colin to track down her long-lost relatives. But more murders bring the threat closer to home. The pair tangle with London East End gangsters, an eccentric Scottish lord, and a team of women cricketers in their hunt for the truth.

There are laughs alongside the action as Colin and Shirley uncover the shocking secrets of the family tree. And Shirley has one last surprise for Colin.

Purchase Link HERE

MY REVIEW

It is always a pleasure to pick up the latest Crampton of The Chronicle book. Colin Crampton is a journalist for the Brighton newspaper The Chronicle. This series is set in the 60s and this particular one is in July 1967. Colin’s girlfriend Shirley has been contacted by a distant relative that wants to meet her, while Shirley is excited Colin is suspicious. I should mention that Shirley is a model and Australian.

For two people who seem so different I adore the combination of Colin and Shirley, they just rub along together so well and the author obviously has great fun writing some of their scenes. Not wanting Shirley to go alone, Colin accompanies her to what he thinks will be a suspicious relative, well suspicious is right as the relative is dead. Murdered!

This starts Colin on a search for how the dead man and Shirley could possibly be related. How this story gets to the end and a conclusion is a series of clues, red herrings, more bodies and a road trip or two.

I adore this series and the author has once again given some fabulous lines to his characters to make me snigger, there are bodies and danger but the author keeps the humour to make this a wonderful cosy mystery story. The story is one that will lead Colin up and down the country and while the newspaper budget doesn’t stretch to a trip to Oz, phone calls are made. I like the era of this book as there are no mobiles or internet, clues are sought the old fashioned way and with the odd back-hander. As Colin works on the paper he has quite a few people that he can call on for help, but some are seriously dangerous.

The story follows the search for the truth about Shirley’s family, she doesn’t know much and it is a chance for her to discover her roots. I can guarantee she never expected to discover what she did and it makes for fabulous reading. And, there is a wonderful ending for this book, it is one I have been waiting for!

Mixing in a women’s cricket team, some dodgy east-end characters, gold miners and the odd Lord makes this an entertaining read and one that throws up many surprises. It is one for those who love a detective-style story with all the jargon, the slang and the slightly off-the-books mystery. Not your usual characters but my goodness it makes for such an entertaining and surprising read. I adored this latest book and it soon became a book that I couldn’t put down. Another on-sitting read and one I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Peter Bartram brings years of experience as a journalist to his Crampton of the Chronicle crime mystery series. His novels are fast-paced and humorous – the action is matched by the laughs. The books feature a host of colourful characters as befit stories set in Brighton, one of Britain’s most trend-setting towns.

You can download Murder in Capital Letters, a free book in the series, for your Kindle HERE.

Peter began his career as a reporter on a local weekly newspaper before editing newspapers and magazines in London, England and, finally, becoming freelance. He has done most things in journalism from door-stepping for quotes to writing serious editorials. He’s pursued stories in locations as diverse as 700-feet down a coal mine and a courtier’s chambers at Buckingham Palace. Peter is a member of the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association.

Follow Peter on FacebookTwitter

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A Child for the Reich by Andie Newton @AndieNewton @rararesources @OneMoreChapter_ @Harper360 #historicalfiction #NetGalley #bookreview

I am delighted o0t share my review today for A Child for the Reich by Andie Newton. This is a heartbreaking and absolutely fabulous book and if you like reading about WWII then you want to have a look at this one.

My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour. This book is published by Harper Collins.

Rumours of the Nazis coming for Czech children swept through the villages like a breeze through the trees, and the story was always the same…
They wanted our children to raise as their own
Since her husband, Josef, joined the Czech resistance three years ago, Anna Dankova has done everything possible to keep her daughter, Ema, safe. But when blonde haired, blue-eyed Ema is ripped from her mother’s arms in the local marketplace by the dreaded Brown Sisters, nurses who were dedicated to Hitler’s cause, Anna is forced to go to new extremes to take back what the Nazis have stolen from her.
Going undercover as a devoted German subject eager to prove her worth to the Reich, the former actress takes on a role of a lifetime to find and save her daughter. But getting close to Ema is one thing. Convincing her that the Germans are lying when they claim Anna stole her from her true parents is another…

Purchase Links – Harper Collins – US UK

UK retailers – Amazon Kobo Apple

US retailers – Amazon Kobo Apple Barnes & Noble

MY REVIEW

I do enjoy reading books based around WWII, I often find there are things that I was not aware of. A Child for the Reich is one such book. There was a branch of the Reich that was responsible for collecting babies and children with the much sort after blue eyes and blond hair. This was seen as the perfect Arian child. If you were not German and you had the perfect baby or child then they would be taken, re-educated and then given to “Good German Families” to raise. In Poland, 200,000 children were removed by the NSV, these are the female version of the dreaded SS, these women were known as the “Brown Sisters”.

I had no idea about this practice so when I saw the synopsis for this book I knew I had to read it. After reading it I then had an internet search and discovered a few more horrifying facts about these kidnappings and what happened to those children afterwards.

The story is mainly about a Czech mother, Anna, who has no idea that her child is on a list to be taken until it happens. What follows is how Anna managed to discover where her daughter was taken and see how children were ‘Germanised’. This story is one of a mother’s heartbreak and determination while trying to avoid being discovered herself.

The story shows how the people of Czechoslovakia are being affected by the Germans taking over it country, their houses, businesses and it seems their families. The threat of being seen and reported is real and there is tension on the page as the author took Anna on her journey.

The regime in place for the children is awful and heartbreaking to read about as is the obvious struggle and pain of having your child stolen. This is not an easy read given the subject but my goodness it is one that I just could not leave alone. It wasn’t until I started to write this review that I realised it was 400 pages, I flew through this book in one sitting.

The author brings a horrifying and awful practice of taking children to be representative of Hitler’s vision of his Aryan race. Saying that I enjoyed reading this book feels wrong, but I did.

If you like your historical fiction set in Europe during WWII then this is one that should be on your reading list. It is a poignant and eye-opening read and it is one I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andie Newton is the USA Today bestselling author of The Girls from the Beach, The Girl from Vichy, and The Girl I Left Behind.
She writes gritty and emotional war stories about strong women. Andie holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in teaching. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband, her two boys, and one very lazy cat.
You can find book club discussion questions on andienewton.com.

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The Angel’s Mark by S.W. Perry #partofaseries #historicalfiction #crime #mystery #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Angel’s Mark by S.W. Perry. I have had this book for a while and I am so glad I have finally got to reading it. This is the first book in the Nicholas Shelby series and I am looking forward to reading the rest.

LONDON, 1590. Queen Elizabeth I’s control over her kingdom is wavering. Amidst a tumultuous backdrop of Spanish plotters, Catholic heretics and foreign wars threatening the country’s fragile stability, the body of a small boy is found in the City of London, with strange marks that no one can explain.

When idealistic physician Nicholas Shelby finds another body displaying the same marks only days later, he becomes convinced that a killer is at work, preying on the weak and destitute of London.

Determined to find out who is behind these terrible murders, Nicholas is joined in his investigations by Bianca, a mysterious tavern keeper. As more bodies are discovered, the pair find themselves caught in the middle of a sinister plot. With the killer still at large, and Bianca in terrible danger, Nicholas’s choice seems impossible – to save Bianca, or save himself…

MY REVIEW

Set in Elizabethan England in 1590, the author creates a world around a physician. Dr Nicholas Shelby is a young doctor and one that doesn’t always believe in the old ways. New research is coming forward but this is a time when heretics, herbalists and witchcraft are not accepted. A licence is required to carry out basic medicine unless you are lucky enough to be one of the learned gentlemen.

Shelby suffers a dramatic event in his life, which leads him astray and towards the banks of the Thames. Here he discovers something unnatural at work when the body of a child is discovered with a dubious symbol cut into the leg. With the help of local tavern owner Bianca, they discover that London’s secrets are much deeper and more far-reaching than they ever imagined.

I do love good historical fiction that is full of murder and mayhem and this one is just the book to tick those boxes. The author doesn’t just focus on the characters and the story but also brings in relevant and very interesting medical procedures, thoughts, practices and observations of the time. This extra detail is wonderfully woven into the story and adds something special.

England does have a Queen in the form of Elizabeth I, but the country is still settling after Henry VIII and his dissolution of the Roman Catholic Church. It was Elizabeth that restored Catholicism with the Pope as its head, but she also established the Church of England with herself as the head. At this time religion is something that you are expected to take part in and if you do not attend the right Church it can hamper your future career. Shelby discovers that religion isn’t the only way your career can be ruined. Medicine had its own rules, regulations and thoughts and to rock that particular boat is to court trouble.

As well as Shelby’s story, there is another mysterious one. It is a troubled and hurt soul that the author uses in this instance, these passages are italicised and they tell of hardship and loss.

This is brilliantly researched and I loved the way the author brings in politics, religion, medicine and opinions of the time into the story. This is well-researched and the author obviously likes this era of history as he makes it exciting and so atmospheric. The different practices involved in medical practice are great, apothecary, witchcraft, herbalists, astrologers, divination and all manner of other tools used.

I really liked this and it is full of intrigue, suspicion, suspense, corruption and of course murder and mystery. Fabulous start to a series that I will definitely be keeping on with.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

S. W. Perry was a journalist and broadcaster before retraining as an airline pilot. He lives in Worcestershire, England with his wife.

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The Orphanage Girls Reunited by Mary Wood @Authormary @RandomTTours @panmacmillan #historicalfiction #hisotricalromance #publicationday #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Orphanage Girls Reunited by Mary Wood. This is part of a series and it is a fabulous one at that. I would also like to wish Mary a very Happy Publication Day 🙂

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for arranging my PB copy of this book and my spot on the Blog Tour. This is published by Pan MacMillan.

“The Orphanage Girls reunite in the second installment of a moving saga series about an orphanage in London’s East End, from the bestselling author of The Jam Factory Girls, Mary Wood.

Ellen
  Abandoned by her father for the second time, left scarred from the orphanage, Ellen finally finds happiness and hope – reunited with her long-lost gran. But it cannot compensate for being torn apart from her beloved friends Ruth and Amy. When a devastating encounter leaves Ellen broken and desperate, she is forced to fight her past demons.

  Ruth 
  Ruth has found peace, building a new life as an actress surrounded by new friends. But still, she longs to be with Ellen and Amy after everything they endured together in the orphanage. Amy was shipped to Canada with hundreds of other orphans, what hope have they of finding her?


  One wish comes true when Ruth’s acting career leads her to Ellen. No sooner has the dust settled, war is on the horizon. Friendship locked them into each other’s her hearts forever. 

  Will they find Amy? Can The Orphanage Girls ever unite?

MY REVIEW

This is such a wonderful book and as always, the author has created a heartbreaking story for her main characters.

Ruth and Ellen had been at the orphanage, been through some awful times and then they are split up. Ruth stayed in London with her friend and started to make hats. Ellen got taken away by her father and left with her grandmother. Their lives are very different and they have not seen each other for quite a while.

It is a shock when Ellen sees Ruth in a newspaper, Ruth works in a theatre and is quite successful. She still makes her hats and is part of the Red Cross. Ellen who is younger has had a private tutor and after an awful event needs help.

The author has created a heartbreaking story for Ellen, it is one that is making her struggle with her emotions and it is having a drastic effect on her mental health. This is the turn of the 1900s and it while there have been advances in medicine, there is still a large stigma. The route the author took for Ellen was a great one and it saw a different aspect of how mental health conditions would be treated.

When the girls eventually do meet up they become closer again, but the threat of WWI is looming and the girls want to do their part in helping.

This is such a wonderful story and although it is full of tragedy and heartbreak for both of them. there is also a huge amount of love, support and respect between these girls. They have been through a lot together and they are now going to have to deal with more as the war begins to impact their personal lives.

The author does a wonderful job of creating a storyline that weaves through the lives of the girls and those they meet. People from their past are even that far from their thoughts. This at times makes creates a wobble in their emotions, but it shows them how far they have come, what they can achieve and how they are going to deal with the future.

This is one for fans of women being strong in the face of adversity, of women helping their country and also each other. A story of compassion, loyalty and bravery. It is part of a series, but it would work well as a stand-alone book, but in all honesty, the previous book gives so much about the characters that you will be missing out. This is a story I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born the thirteenth child of fifteen to a middle-class mother and an East End barrow boy, Mary
Wood’s childhood was a mixture of love and poverty. Throughout her life Mary has held various
posts in office roles, working in the probation services, and brought up her four children and
numerous grandchildren, step-grandchildren and great-grandchildren. An avid reader, she first
put pen to paper in 1989 while nursing her mother through her last months, but didn’t become
successful until she began self-publishing her novels in 2011.


Her novels include All I Have to Give, An Unbreakable Bond, In Their Mother’s Footsteps and the
Breckton novels.

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In the Shadows of Castles by G.K. Holloway @SilverWoodBooks #historicalfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review of In the Shadows of Castles by G.K. Holloway. I had the pleasure of reading the first book in this series in 2017, the book was 1066: What Fates Impose and it was a fabulous story so I was absolutely delighted when Glyn got in touch to see if I wanted to read the next one.

1066: What Fates Impose

Here is the link to my review for 1066: What Fates Impose

In the Shadows of Castles

It’s the 1060s, and William of Normandy is establishing a new and brutal regime in England, but there are those who would defy him. As Norman soldiers spread like a plague across the land, resistance builds, but will it be enough to topple William and restore the rightful king to his throne? The English have the courage to fight, but the Normans, already victorious at Hastings, now build castles seeking to secure their tenuous foothold in these lands.

And what of the people caught up in these catastrophic events? Dispossessed but not defeated, their lives ripped apart, the English struggle for freedom from tyranny; amongst them, caught up in the turmoil, are a soldier, a thane and two sisters. As events unfold, their destinies become intertwined, bringing drastic changes that alter their lives forever.

Firmly embedded in the history of the Conquest, ‘In the Shadows of Castles’ is ultimately a story of love, hope and survival in a time of war. 

PURCHASE LINK – AMAZON UK

MY REVIEW

This book continues on from 1066: What Fates Impose. I read and adored that book so I was absolutely thrilled to the author had continued the story. With William on the throne, the Normans are brutally and savagely destroying all the English that they come across. Rebels and uprisings are quickly quashed by Williams’s army and the countryside is left like scorched earth. Any food is taken, livestock destroyed, houses burned and people murdered no matter their age.

Having a Frenchman wearing an English crown doesn’t sit well with many. There are obviously some who have lands, estates and money that want to retain their possessions and so they do show some support. William doesn’t only have to deal with the English, he also has to stop the grumbling from within his own ranks, as his people want to go back home to their families.

With the rebels of England, and with the support of the Welsh, Scots and Danes there is bloodshed around most of England. Nowhere is safe, churches do not provide a safe sanctuary anymore as they are destroyed as quickly as they come across. Villages, towns and cities are filled with bloodshed and William is gradually building castles and fortifications where he can to maintain his hold.

With the first book, I adored how the author brought his obvious knowledge of this period of English history to life. I am delighted to see that this still runs true with his latest book. Being able to read a fictionalised story really does bring the past to life, it makes it easier to absorb and remember. No list of dates and people who lived and died, but instead a proper action-packed read from start to finish.

Having a fictionalised account gives the reader a chance to get to know a character, but it does come down to the research and this is where the author really does know his subject. There will be obvious things that may be added or altered, but for me as a general reader, it means I can immerse myself directly into the story.

And what a story this one is!

With England at the start of a new era under the reign of William, the Battle of Hastings is still fresh in the memory. There was a successor named but he was obviously not crowned as William was instead. The country is in turmoil, it is under siege and communication is slow or misunderstood, sometimes deliberately. The author uses four main characters to give a more personal look at lifestyles and what could have happened. Two friends and two sisters are drawn together as they battle their way out of skirmishes, and are hunted, are followed and lied to. There are obviously more characters than this, but while there is a lot the author keeps the action flowing wonderfully as it goes from one group to another, crisis crossing the county.

The whole feel of the book has a wonderful pace to it. It is an action-adventure story, one also of life, death, loyalty and of the future. It is a brilliant read from start to finish and it is one I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

G. K. Holloway did several jobs after leaving school before taking A Levels at his local college and later a degree in History and Politics at Coventry University. Once he had graduated, he spent the next twenty years working in education in and around Bristol. After reading a biography about Harold Godwinson, he studied the late Anglo-Saxon era in detail and discovered a time of papal plots, court intrigues, family feuds, loyalties, betrayals, assassinations and a few battles. When he had enough material to weave together fact and fiction, he produced his award-winning novel, ‘1066: What Fates Impose’, the first in a series about the Norman Conquest. G. K. Holloway lives in Bristol with his wife and two children.

Find G.K. Holloway on his Amazon Author Page or Goodreads Author Page

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The Highland Girls at War by Helen Yendall @HelenYendall @rararesources #WWII #saga #historicalfiction #Giveaway #historicalromance #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Highland Girls at War by Helen Yendall. This is the first book I have read by this author and I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more from her.

My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of the book.

Can the Highland girls prove everyone wrong? Don’t miss this poignant and heartwarming WW2 novel for fans of Rosie Clarke, Dilly Court and Rosie Archer, from the author of A Wartime Secret.

Scotland, 1942.
The Lumberjills, the newest recruits in the Women’s Timber Corps, arrive in the Scottish Highlands to a hostile reception from doubtful locals. The young women are determined to prove them wrong and serve their country – but they’re also all looking for something more…

Lady Persephone signed up to show everyone she’s more than just a pretty face – but it’ll take more than some charm and her noble credentials to win handsome Sergeant Fraser over.

Tall, strong Grace has led a lonely life working on a croft, with just her mother for company. All she wants is to find her place in the world – even if that’s a thousand miles from home.

And Irene misses her husband terribly, so until he returns home from the frontline, she’s distracting herself with war work. But one distraction too far leads to devastating consequences…

Can the Lumberjills get through their struggles together – even when tragedy strikes?

PURCHASE LINKS – AMAZON – UK US

MY REVIEW

This is the first time I have read anything from this author and this book was a wonderful one to read. The setting is Scotland during WWII. As some women join the WVRS or become LandGirls, there is another group they can enlist with, this is The Womens’ Timber Corp. I seem to remember something about this but I am not sure from where. The WTC was set up in 1942, the aim was for women to take over the forestry jobs of the men who had to go to war.

The story focuses on a small group of women, you couldn’t get a much different group as they come together to do what they can to help. A mix of Scottish women, a couple are married, some are engaged, some come from other jobs and there is even an English Lady!

The author brings this group of women together and over the course of the story, they start to form friendships. The work is tough, some that have come from crofts or small holding are more used to the physical work, whereas others come from shop or factory backgrounds. Each of them though odes brings their own personality and it seems that all have a reason to be there.

The women are not the only ones in the forest, there are some Candian Lumberjacks that have been stationed close by. The girls much prefer their own nickname, the Lumberjills. Living in close proximity there are dalliances between the two groups. There is going to be heartache somewhere down the line.

The author has woven a group of strangers that have a job to do, it also turns out they have a point to prove. Working a very tough job that is seen as being “men’s work” gives the girls a push to do the best they can. As the months roll on the camaraderie between the women grows, and solid friendships are formed.

This was a wonderful glimpse into a group that I had heard about and it definitely made me search for more information about the WTC. The author has mixed a factual group that played its part in their service to the war effort and worked some wonderful storylines into the story. This was a wonderful one to read and if you are a fan of WWII historical romances and sagas then you are really going to enjoy this one. A story of friendship, support and overcoming the odds. A great cast of characters and I was sorry to get to the end of the story. It is one I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Helen Yendall has had dozens of short stories and a serial published in women’s magazines over the past twenty years and now writes female-focused WW2 novels. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
She studied English and German at Leeds University and has worked in a variety of roles: for a literary festival, a university, a camping club, a children’s charity and in marketing and export sales. But her favourite job is the one she still has: teaching creative writing to adults.
Although a proud Brummie by birth, Helen now lives in the North Cotswolds with her husband and cocker spaniel, Bonnie. When she’s not teaching or writing, she likes reading, swimming, tennis and walking in the beautiful countryside where she lives.

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Giveaway to Win a ÂŁ15 Amazon Voucher & a Scottish Goodie Giftbag (worth ÂŁ37) from Highland Fayre (Open to UK Only)


Goodie Gift Bag Contains:
Brodies Scottish Breakfast Tea (x20)
Edinburgh Tea & Coffee Company Ground After Dinner Coffee (56g)
Mackays Scottish Three Berry Preserve (340g)
Paterson’s Luxury Shortbread & Biscuit Assortment (185g)
Nevis Bakery Cherry Cake
The Cocoa Bean Company Milk Chocolate covered Caramels with Red Ribbon (100g)
Presented in a Natural Eco-Friendly Jute Bag 

To stand a chance of winning this very yummy-looking goodie bag you can enter HERE – Good Luck xx

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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The Empire by Michael Ball @mrmichaelball @rararesources @ZaffreBooks #historicalfiction #romance #NetGalley #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Empire by Michael Ball… yes that Michael Ball! This is a fabulous debut novel that I adored and I was so lucky to have got a spot on the Blog Tour for this book.

My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Tour and for arranging my e-copy from the publisher, Zaffre Books, via NetGalley.

Welcome to The Empire Theatre

1922. When Jack Treadwell arrives at The Empire, in the middle of a rehearsal, he is instantly mesmerised. But amid the glitz and glamour, he soon learns that the true magic of the theatre lies in its cast of characters – both on stage and behind the scenes.

There’s stunning starlet Stella Stanmore and Hollywood heartthrob Lancelot Drake; and Ruby Rowntree, who keeps the music playing, while Lady Lillian Lassiter, theatre owner and former showgirl, is determined to take on a bigger role. And then there’s cool, competent Grace Hawkins, without whom the show would never go on . . . could she be the leading lady Jack is looking for?

When long-held rivalries threaten The Empire’s future, tensions rise along with the curtain. There is treachery at the heart of the company and a shocking secret waiting in the wings. Can Jack discover the truth before it’s too late, and the theatre he loves goes dark?

Musical theatre legend Michael Ball brings his trademark warmth, wit and glamour to this, his debut novel.

Enjoy the show!

Purchase Links – AMAZON UK US

MY REVIEW

I really didn’t know what to expect when I first saw this book, and I only glanced at the synopsis to know it was one I wanted to read. The author has trod the boards of theatres around the world and so it makes sense that his first book would be set in a theatre.

The Empire is a theatre that has pretty much been left to its own devices. It is owned by the Lassiters, but neither really seems to take a huge amount of interest. The day-to-day running is done by Grace, a young woman with a passion for theatre. Not officially in charge, but knows that she needs to organise things to keep it running. The behind-the-scenes crew go about doing what they need to. When Jack is told to go and see Mrs Lassiter for a job it is Grace who he sees. Mrs Lassiter is in the US still in the morning over the death of her husband. As there seems to be no one really paying attention to the Empire, it seems that another businessman sees an opportunity to take advantage.

The author brings his passion for theatre, musicals and variety to every page of this wonderful novel. There are stories within stories and some real mysteries that are wonderfully woven into this tale of family disagreement, rivalry and blackmail. Underneath all of this though is the dogged determination of those who do not want to go down without a fight. It is their stubbornness and belief that gives magic to this story. They add glamour and glitz if you like.

While this is a story about grief and getting on with your life it is also about accepting mistakes from your past. There are a few juicy little secrets that the author has snuck into this story and it is one that had me hooked from the very first pages.

As well as the story of The Empire, this is also a story about certain characters as well. It is the everyday lives and working relationships of those who work in the theatre. They are a family and they have close bonds and therefore loyalties. This is something that I adored, as the author took me through the mazes behind the scenes, to the offices, the foyers, the dressing rooms and the stage.

The story has a bit of everything in it, so it is a romance, a mystery, it has loss and regret and hope for the future. Set between the wars in the 1920s this has the glamour and glitz of the music hall and variety shows. This is where the author really did work his magic so well. There were several times when I got goosebumps reading this book. Whether it be the cast getting a scene right, someone singing and dancing at an unexpected moment or when the cue for the show is called. The emotions and feelings that this book oozed were spo0t on for me.

This is a fabulous story and one that I really adored. It has the razzmatazz and the glamour, it also has the shady and the undesirable, but all the way through this story the feeling of “the show must go on” is one that resonated with me. No matter what the pitfalls there is always something to work toward, whether it is in the belief of others around you or accepting that you are capable of being successful, there is always a glimmer of the possible.

This a fabulous debut novel from someone who knows the industry, the history, the backstage and centre stage of theatres. A time when Jazz was making its way across the Atlantic and the roaring 20s was making itself heard. It is an addictive story and one I would absolutely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Ball OBE is a singer, actor, presenter and now author. He’s been a star of musical theatre for over three decades, winning the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical twice, he’s also won two BRIT awards and been nominated for a Grammy. Michael regularly sells out both his solo tours and his Ball & Boe shows with Alfie Boe and has multiple platinum albums. The Empire is his first novel.


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The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho by Paterson Joseph #historicalfiction #NetGalley @LittleBrownUK #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho by Paterson Joseph. I requested this one from NetGalley after spotting the cover first. This is a fictionalised account of an influential figure from history.

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An illuminating and original tale of a Black writer and composer Charles Ignatius Sancho. Recently named as a Great Black Briton and immortalised with a Google Doodle this brilliant story charts the life of the little-known maverick and his life in Regency London in a witty polemic, we have grown to love through many great 18th Century English writers. Candid and characterful, illuminating and illustrious this is a great opportunity to revive the history of an important, engaging historical character to a wide audience. 

MY REVIEW

The life of Charles Ignatio is a remarkable one, born on a slave ship and then sold into slavery before being taken into the care as an orphan. He was given to three sisters and was their pet. A chance meeting with Duke Montague gave him a start in life that benefited him later on. He was taught to read. In the Georgian era of the 1700s, it was not seen as a good thing for Black People to read as they were there to serve not to be educated.

Nevertheless, Charles Ignatius did learn, and it is through his diaries that the author has fictionalised the life of Charles Ignatius Sancho. I didn’t really know anything about this historical figure, but his name had recently cropped up while I was reading another book. As I had a copy of The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho it seemed the right time to pick it up and learn more.

While the author has fictionalised the life of Sancho, he has done research and references back to diaries and some of these have been included in this book. It tells of life starting with nothing and no parents and the conditions he lived in when he was between homes and also how he was perceived by different people at the time.

Sancho had built a reputation without realising it and therefore he would have been different and not just because of his skin colour. This builds up an image of Sancho as he tries to work out where he belongs. He is educated but this is a problem as he is Black, for this would be problematic, for others it made him better than them. As for Sancho he just wanted to live his life and eventually settle down to raise a family. Instead, he found himself in a sort of limbo, an outcast, a curiosity but one that started to make himself known and then worked on a way to be heard. In doing this he h found his vocation.

The author creates an interesting fictional account of this historical figure. It is done in a way that is interesting, but at times I did feel the story dragged a little. What this book did do for me though was introduce me to a historical figure who eventually found his voice and the courage to stand up to slavery. He was the first Black man to vote as at that time he was a man of property, and with the help of other Artists and Authors of the time became an ardent supporter of the Abolition of Slavery.

This is a book that I found really interesting, at times it did feel slow and occasionally repetitive. It is, however, a great starting point for further reading which is exactly what I did after reading this book. If you have an interest in historical figures then this is a good book to read, it tells the fictionalised account of a man born into slavery that then joins the movement to abolish slavery. Informative and interesting and one I would happily recommend.

I discovered more about Charles Ignatius Sancho on various websites. Here is a couple that I found interesting.

MUSEUM OF COLOUR

THE BRITISH LIBRARY

THE BRITISH LIBRARY – LETTERS, LETTER WRITING & EPISTOLARY NOVELS

The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho by Paterson Joseph

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February’s Son by Alan Parks #crime #historicalfiction #policeprocedural #bookreivew

I am delighted to share my review today for February’s Son by Alan Parks. This is the second book in the Harry McCoy series and it now means I am up to date with this series. There are five books published so far and I am eagerly awaiting the next one.

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Bodies are piling up with grisly messages carved into their chests. Rival gangs are competing for control of Glasgow’s underworld and it seems that Cooper, McCoy’s oldest gangster friend, is tangled up in it all.

Detective Harry McCoy’s first day back at work couldn’t have gone worse.

New drugs have arrived in Glasgow, and they’ve brought a different kind of violence to the broken city. The law of the street is changing and now demons from McCoy’s past are coming back to haunt him. But vengeance always carries a price, and it could cost McCoy more than he ever imagined.

The waters of Glasgow’s corruption are creeping higher, as the wealthy and dangerous play for power. And the city’s killer continues his dark mission.

Can McCoy keep his head up for long enough to solve the case?

Bruised and battered from the events of Bloody January, McCoy returns for a breathless ride through the ruthless world of 1970s Glasgow. 

MY REVIEW

After reading the first book a while ago I was really looking forward to seeing how things progressed. I should mention that I have read the books that follow this one, the author is currently up to book 5 in the series.

Detective Harry McCoy is a copper with dubious friends. Having recently been injured he is back to work as a new brutal case rears its head. This isn’t a pleasant one as the body has a word carved into the chest. As the team is getting their heads around this murder another body turns up.

This is set in the tough 1970s Glasgow area. Gangs, drugs and prostitution are rife, life is tough and for some, it is going to get tougher. The fact that Harry has dubious friends can at times work to his advantage. At others though these friends test the patience of Harry’s boss. Wattie finds himself in the midst of things as well.

This is one tough one to read at times as there is a lot of violence in it. If you are a fan of hard-boiled crime then you are going to want to read this one. This is a tough area, people do not hold back and if you find yourself on the wrong side then you had better know how to disappear or find yourself in a fight for your life. The book, the language and the storyline are, well colourful to say the least. It is all in context and having anything softer would not work.

The cases and the evidence does start to stack up and another storyline is introduced, this one though is one that McCoy is going to try to sort out with his old friend Stevie. The author does like to give these two a battering.

As I have read the next few books I am aware of things that are going to happen, but coming back to the start of the series is great as I get to find out more about the main recurring characters. McCoy seems to court trouble at every turn and it is Wattie, his colleague who is starting to keep an eye on McCoy a little more. While he is naive he does what is best.

If you like tough, gang-related, crime fiction then this is a book you are going to enjoy. This one also has a great psychological edge to it and this makes it very twisted and dark. Pasts are brought up, egos are bruised, names are made and things are changing. Fabulous 2nd instalment and one I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alan Parks has worked in the music industry for over twenty years. His debut novel Bloody January was one of the top crime debuts of 2018 and was shortlisted for the prestigious international crime prize the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. He lives and works in Glasgow.

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