Equinox by David Towsey #NetGalley @HoZ_Books #fantasy #20booksofsummer #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Equinox by David Towsey. This was a title that caught my eye while I was on NetGalley. My huge thanks to Head of Zeus for approving my request to read and review this fantasy story.

Everyone is not as they seem in this fantasy novel, replete with war, witchcraft and secrets.

Christophor Morden lives in a world where everybody changes with the rising and setting of the sun. For every person contains two distinct identities – a day brother and a night brother. One never sees the light, the other nothing of night.

One evening Christophor, one of the king’s special unit of witch hunters, is woken early by a call to the city prison. A young woman has torn her own eyes out, and the police suspect supernatural causes. The investigation takes Christophor far from home, to a village on the edge of the kingdom.

There he will find his witch – and his night brother will find himself desperate to save her. And as this battle of the self rages, the witch’s ancient and apocalyptic ritual comes ever closer to completion… 

MY REVIEW

It was the cover that first caught my eye for this book, now I can see how well it works after reading it.

This is a story of night and day. Alexsander and Christorpher share a body, one is the night brother the other the day brother. One an investigator for the King, the other likes a drink, plays music and is not as studious.

I like this idea of one body with two identities that change over at the rising and setting of the sun. It makes for an interesting read and one that gives two distinct personalities. The author has very cleverly given the perspective of both and done it well so as not to get confusing.

Christopher works hard and has built a good reputation for himself, so he is personally asked, well ordered to go to the edge of the kingdom to work out why a young girl is missing her eyes. This is something that Christopher can deal with, he has experienced, but when the day comes his brother doesn’t have the skills, but in his way is able to help, well most of the time.

This was an interesting story of good versus evil, but for the investigation, it is about trying to find the truth. It is also a chance for the brothers to experience a little of each other’s life as memories, reminders, and prompts are left for the following change.

An interesting concept that I really enjoyed, is a good fantasy novel that does have some magic and evil shenanigans and well paced. Not so much war but skirmish, but overall an enjoyable and quite addictive read. It is one I would happily recommend. 

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry That Forged the Medieval World by Shelley Puhak @HoZ_Books @jadedgwill #nonfiction #europe #historicalbiographies #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry That Forged the Medieval World by Shelley Puhak. This is a brilliant non-fiction book that is such an addictive read. Two formidable women from history doing their utmost to survive and continue their hold on power.

My huge thanks to Jade Gwilliam at Head of Zeus for sending me a gorgeous hardback copy of this book. When it comes to history and books I prefer physical books simply because I can flick back and forth easier to look at maps, graphs and other stuff that is often included.

The remarkable, little-known story of two trailblazing women in the Early Middle Ages who wielded immense power, only to be vilified for daring to rule.

Brunhild was a Spanish princess, raised to be married off for the sake of alliance-building. Her sister-in-law Fredegund started out as a lowly palace slave. And yet—in the 6th-century Merovingian Empire, where women were excluded from noble succession and royal politics was a blood sport—these two iron-willed strategists reigned over vast realms for decades, changing the face of Europe.

The two queens commanded armies and negotiated with kings and popes. They formed coalitions and broke them, mothered children and lost them. They fought a years-long civil war—against each other. With ingenuity and skill, they battled to stay alive in the game of statecraft, and in the process laid the foundations of what would one day be Charlemagne’s empire. Yet after Brunhild and Fredegund’s deaths—one gentle, the other horrific—their stories were rewritten, their names consigned to slander and legend.

In The Dark Queens, award-winning writer Shelley Puhak sets the record straight. She resurrects two very real women in all their complexity, painting a richly detailed portrait of an unfamiliar time and striking at the roots of some of our culture’s stubbornest myths about female power. The Dark Queens offers proof that the relationships between women can transform the world.

MY REVIEW

The Dark Queens is a brilliantly researched book about two queens who helped and ruled parts of Europe in the mid – 500Ad.

Brunhild, born 543AD came from Spain to marry the Merovingian king, Sigibert in 567AD. Her sister-in-law Fredegund was a palace slave, who then went on to also become Queen.

The author has done a fascinating and fabulous job of bringing the lives of these two women to life. Mid 500AD is not a time when women have any power, the only power they have is that they bear sons. Their worth is in their fertility so how on earth did two women rise to become the most prominent rulers of their time?

Using manipulation, spies, poisons, assassins, being quick-witted, devious and above all willing to do what they must. At times doing what men would do.

This is an era when sibling rivalry, family squabbles and arguments can lead to all-out war. Europe is not settled and when kingdoms are split between brothers then there is always going to be sour grapes if one has more than another. The more land one has, the more the others want and so it is important to be aligned with the right side, although which side is the right side is always open to contention. Of course, sides can be swapped.

The author makes the history of Brunhild and Fredegund so easy to read, while there are dates and facts they are incorporated in such a way as to make this really enjoyable reading. Not lists of dates, or who was married to who and when this one killed that one and succeded the throne. But, instead, it follows an almost storylike style. Many times I actually forgot I was reading a factual or non-fiction history book as the author had made it so exciting. It does have a fiction feel and this makes it really accessible reading.

I discovered so many things about these two women and just how hard they worked to get where they got and also to remain there. I was aware of both women from history but didn’t know hardly anything about them.

As I read this I imagined Europe as a chessboard with the Queens, Kings and others being the pieces on a bloody and vicious board. Each one trying to outwit the other, trying to out-think, out-manoeuvre and predict where the other would next strike.

If you have an interest in European history, especially from Medieval times then you really need to pick up this book. It is the story of two women who became powerful leaders in a world of men. Quite an inspiring book and one that shows just what it took to be successful way back in the later part of 500AD.

It is a book I would definitely recommend, brilliant reading, well researched and also loads of notes, bibliography and the like at the end for further reading. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shelley Puhak is the author of The Dark Queens, which is her nonfiction debut. Her essays and articles have appeared in publications like The Atlantic, Creative Nonfiction, and Virginia Quarterly Review; been anthologized in Best American Travel Writing, and designated as Notable in four editions of Best American Essays.​

Shelley is also the author of three award-winning books of poetry. The most recent is Harbinger, a National Poetry Series selection, forthcoming with Ecco/HarperCollins in 2022.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Patient by Tim Sullivan @HoZ_Books #crime #policeprocedural #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Patient by Tim Sullivan. This is the 3rd book in the DS Cross mysteries, and yep… this is the first one I have read in the series and also by this author.

My huge thanks to the publisher Head of Zeus for granting my request to read this title via NetGalley.

Introducing your new crime thriller fix: Bristol detective DS George Cross, champion of the outsider, the voiceless and the dispossessed.

DS George Cross can be rude, difficult, and awkward with people. But his unfailing logic and dogged pursuit of the truth means his conviction rate is the best on the force. An outsider himself, having been diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder, DS Cross is especially drawn to cases concerning the voiceless and the dispossessed.

Now, Cross is untangling the truth about a young woman who died three days ago. With no fingerprints, no weapon and no witnesses, the Bristol Crime Unit are ready to close the case. The coroner rules suicide: the woman had a long history of drug abuse. But her mother is convinced it was murder: her daughter has been clean and sober for over two years.

DS Cross is determined to defy his bosses and re-open the case, even if it costs him his career. Soon he is mired in a labyrinth of potential suspects – but can he solve the case before his superiors shut it down for good?

MY REVIEW

This is the first time I have read anything from this author, and as seems to be my usual, I am starting mid-series!!! This is the 3rd book in the DS Cross Mysteries series and yep, I wish I had started it from the beginning.

Being introduced to Cross part way through a series was actually quite good in some respects as the characters already know him and his routines and ways. Although I do think the journey from the beginning to book 3 would definitely be interesting knowing what I now know.

Cross, is a brilliant character. He has a very analytical mind, in some ways reminiscent of Holmes in the way he does or says things that don’t quite seem relevant to the rest of the team. The synopsis does mention Cross as having Asperger’s, but as I had read the synopsis sometime ago I had, to be honest, forgotten what the synopsis was apart from knowing it was a police procedural.

Having a character with Asperger’s was great for several reasons, it kept the emotional side out of the way. I know this may sound harsh but it gave the analytical process and the way Cross approaches everything a clean, crisp and more structured way of investigating. The second reason was that it made for some interesting conversations between characters as well as showing how far he has presumably come from the beginning of the series. Thirdly it was great to see someone on the spectrum being positively assisted in the workplace.

Now for the plot. This was brilliant, it was quite a complex one as investigated as suicide is then challenged. This in itself leads to other issues and becomes a subplot as such. The main plot has a great amount of intrigue, the process of Cross trying to work only with facts and not gut instinct is quite refreshing and the balance between the team supports Cross and his traits. I have to say the author, in my opinion, did a great job with Cross. His initial emotionless persona was solid, but there were some subtle inclusions that made him a very, very likeable character.

The rest of the team adds a great balance to this story, they are more traditional in their approach, but they also take on advice and adopt different styles to how they think. This for me gave various different perspectives during the investigation, questioning process and the feel of the story overall.

There was also a more personal story within this one, and this again had me hooked. I think pretty much everything about this story had me hooked. The personal story brought in some additional characters and I admit to having a big lump a couple of times.

Brilliant crime thriller story with a psychological aspect t it. A story that deals with mental health
shows personal growth and is a cracking read. It is one I would definitely recommend, and I would also suggest that unlike me starting it from the beginning of the series.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Vanished Collection by Pauline Baer de Perignon translated by Natasha Lehrer @jadedgwill @HoZ_Books #nonfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Vanished Collection by Pauline Baer de Perignon translated by Natasha Lehrer. This is a fabulous non-fiction book about Pauline’s search for her family’s art collection.

Massive thanks to Jade at Head of Zeus publishers for my hardback copy of this book. I answered a social media call for readers interested in non-fiction books.

It all started with a list of paintings. There, scribbled by a cousin she hadn’t seen for years, were the names of the masters whose works once belonged to her great-grandfather, Jules Strauss: Renoir, Monet, Degas, Tiepolo and more. Pauline Baer de Perignon knew little to nothing about Strauss, or about his vanished, precious art collection. But the list drove her on a frenzied trail of research in the archives of the Louvre and the Dresden museums, through Gestapo records, and to consult with Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano. What happened in 1942? And what became of the collection after Nazis seized her great-grandparents’ elegant Parisian apartment? The quest takes Pauline Baer de Perignon from the Occupation of France to the present day as she breaks the silence around the wrenching experiences her family never fully transmitted, and asks what art itself is capable of conveying over time.

MY REVIEW

This is a wonderful and a captivating book about a lost, or I should say, a Vanished Collection of artwork. The author, Pauline Baer de Perignon has written such an absorbing account of her research into her family and a missing art collection.

The collection belonged to Jules Strauss, a well-known collect0r of famous painters, artists and furniture collections. During her research that was initiated by her cousin, she discovers that there are paintings that were lost and have yet to be returned.

The paintings were taken during World War II. There were a lot of German collectors, Hitler himself was one and there were no qualms at the time as to how certain masterpieces ended up in the wrong hands. Trying to discover the provenance of stolen and looted paintings is the only way of returning them to their rightful owners. This is a difficult and long process, and not guaranteed.

The author of this book has written a story of her family’s history as she tracks down information about lost artefacts. It brings several things to light and also makes you realise how things have changed over the years. Documents are lost, destroyed or still need to be catalogued.

This is such an absorbing book to read, it is a fabulous journey into a family’s history and through to its present. This is one for those who like their history and also mysteries as it does become the author’s challenge to piece together all the information she discovered.

After finishing this book I immediately went to the internet to search for the paintings mentioned and also for Jules Strauss himself. This was great as I was able to see the artwork. A brilliant book and one I would definitely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Silence of Scheherazade by Defne Suman trns Betsy Göksel @HoZ_Books #NetGalley

I am delighted to share my review today for The Silence of Scheherazade by Defne Suman, translated by Betsy Göksel.

I had requested this book via NetGalley and the publisher Head of Zeus very kindly accepted my request to read this fabulous title.

Set in the ancient city of Smyrna, this powerful novel follows the intertwining fates of four families as their peaceful city is ripped apart by the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.

On an orange-tinted evening in September 1905, Scheherazade is born to an opium-dazed mother in the ancient city of Smyrna. At the very same moment, a dashing Indian spy arrives in the harbour with a secret mission from the British Empire. He sails into golden-hued spires and minarets, scents of fig and sycamore, and the cries of street hawkers selling their wares. When he leaves, seventeen years later, it will be to the heavy smell of kerosene and smoke as the city, and its people, are engulfed in flames.

But let us not rush, for much will happen between then and now. Birth, death, romance and grief are all to come as these peaceful, cosmopolitan streets are used as bargaining chips in the wake of the First World War.

Told through the intertwining fates of a Levantine, a Greek, a Turkish and an Armenian family, this unforgettable novel reveals a city, and a culture, now lost to time. 

MY REVIEW

This is a book that is a mix of historical fiction with a definite lean towards the literary fiction genre. It is the story of four families, an Armenian, a Levantine, a Greek and a Turkish. Starting in 1905 in the Aegean port city of Smyrna.

This book took me quite a few chapters before I could get to grips with it, and I found myself turning to the synopsis a couple of times in the first few chapters to try to get a better understanding of it. There are four different families to get your head around and also the alternating timelines. These timelines flit back and forth with the different family members and at times I found myself stumped as to who was who. I am however really glad I stuck with this book as things gradually started to make sense and I could start to recognise the characters and also their roles within the story.

Even though I was struggling with the characters I did find the writing to be evocative and completely enthralling. I know this may sound odd, the writing style is definitely on the literary side and I found it to be very mesmerising.

The story of the families in Smyrna is one that is wound up in tradition and also of a changing world. I did have a wander onto the internet so I could learn more about this period of history, it is an area that I didn’t really know much about so I found it really interesting to find photos, maps and other information about this ancient city.

The story of the families is one that has skeletons, heartache, loss, love and deception. As I got to know the main players I was able to recognise them, I could sympathise with the situations they found themselves in. Having families from different ethnicities gave differing perspectives of the world and of the trouble coming to the city. I found myself warming to several of the characters and was eagerly awaiting their next appearance in the story.

While this is very much a historical fiction book I did love the more literary writing style, it gave a more romanticised feel to the writing, and I do think this may lead some readers not to fully engage with it. I am so glad I persevered with the book and I found a story that was not only engaging but also very addictive. It is one I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Defne Suman was born in Istanbul and grew up on Prinkipo Island. She gained a Masters in sociology from the Bosphorus University and then worked as a teacher in Thailand and Laos, where she studied Far Eastern philosophy and mystic disciplines. She later continued her studies in Oregon, USA and now lives in Athens with her husband. The Silence of Scheherazade was first published in Turkey and Greece in 2016 and is her English language debut.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

A View to a Kilt by Wendy Holden #netgalley #review

I am delighted to be sharing my review for A View To A Kilt by Wendy Holden. My thanks to the publisher Head of Zeus for accepting my request to review this title via NetGalley.

A View To A Kilt is available to purchase from the 4th April.

A View to a Kilt: A laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from a Sunday Times bestseller (A Laura Lake Novel) by [Holden, Wendy]

London’s most glamorous glossy magazine is in trouble. Advertising revenues are non existent, and if editor Laura Lake can’t pick them up, she’s out of a job.

According to those in the know, Scotland is having a fashion moment. Haggis tempura is on Michelin-starred menus, smart spas are offering porridge facials, and a chain of eco-hotels is offering celebrity bagpipe lessons. So Laura’s off to a baronial estate in the Scottish Highlands to get a slice of this ultra-high-end market.

It’s supposed to be gorgeous, glitzy and glamorous. But intrigue follows Laura like night follows day. And at Glenravish Castle – a shooting lodge fit for a billionaire – Laura finds herself hunting for a scoop that won’t just save her job, it could save her life…

The synopsis for this book was definitely something that appealed to me and the title backed that up. A mix of glitzy and glamorous lifestyle and the more down to earth editor Laura Lake.

This is a humorous and a tongue in cheek read. The title itself hints at this fun-filled read. I found myself smirking a lot at the various character names, some of them really suiting the outrageous and slightly bizarre characters. Mixed in with the slightly eccentric characters is a story of Laura being tasked with a journey to Scotland to sell more advertising space in the magazine she works for. Fail at getting this could mean losing her job so off she sets to Scotland. There are some great facts and descriptions as Laura discovers Scotland for herself. But it is not long before Laura discovers that not everything is as it should be.

There are quite a few things I liked about this story, the humour, the descriptions, some of the characters and the storyline initially, but along the way, I found that I seemed to lose track of where this book was going. What started off as one thing and ended as something else.

For the most part, I did enjoy this story but did find my attention wavering at times. If you are after an upbeat, crazy, funny and madcap read then I think this is one that will appeal.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or a share would be wonderful 🙂 xx

#BookReview : Anna by Amanda Prowse #Anna @MrsAmandaProwse @HoZ_Books @NetGalley

51ekNXCx-7L

I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on “Anna” by Amanda Prowse. Published on 8th March by Head of Zeus and available for pre-order HERE in eBook and paperback formats.

Synopsis:

One Love, Two Stories.

Anna Cole grew up in care, and is determined to start a family of her own. Theo Montgomery had a loveless childhood, and wants only to find his soulmate.

Then, one day, Theo meets Anna, and Anna meets Theo. Two damaged souls from different worlds. Is their love for each other enough to let go of the pain of their pasts? Or will Anna and Theo break each others’ hearts?

There are two sides to every love story. This is Anna’s.

My Thoughts:

Anna Cole is one of those children who is “quiet with a busy head”.  She has had so many things happen in her life and this story takes you through those events with her.  Theo has had a different upbringing to Anna, he has barriers.  Can they help to heal each other and heal their pasts scars to move on in the future?

Oh this is an absolute dream to read.  There are so many things that are just so right about this story, Amanda has the wonderful ability to just envelop the reader in the story, I put the world on hold when I read this book, I was totally engrossed from start to finish and in one sitting.

There are some beautiful lines in this story, but one really struck a chord with me and goes some way to explaining the emotion that is within the pages,this is from a conversation that Anna has when she is older and is embarking on he next stage of her life.    ” I got broken when I was nine….. and those fragments were crushed to dust.  So you’re right, nothing can break me because I am already broken.  I am dust.”       Anna comes across as a quiet and vulnerable character, but in fact she has an inner strength.  She has seen others follow the easy road of drink and drug abuse but she has never seen that as an option.  She is one of those silent battlers in life and she is loyal to the handful of friends that she has.

Things change for Anna when she meets Theo, is he “The One”, that special person who will share her life, her dreams and will grow old beside her? He has his own set of emotional history, and Anna definitely helps him.  Her character is strongest in the relationship while Theo is the more demure and he does has moments impulsiveness. What they want out of life is slightly different.  When secrets and truths are told, one reveals all  while the other holds a little something back.

This story is completely engrossing, it has such an honest, insightful and believable feel to it as you are taken into the lives of the characters and one that will stay with me for quite a while.  I am so impatient to read “Theo” the next part of this story.  This is a highly recommended read from me, turn your phone off, lock the doors and settle down for a few hours for an outstanding read.

 

About the Author:

q2pq88qq0qv00lta15gof8sn3j._SY200_.jpgAmanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author who has published sixteen novels in dozens of languages. Her recent chart topping No.1 titles ‘What Have I Done?’, ‘Perfect Daughter’ and ‘My Husband’s Wife’ have sold millions of copies around the world.

Other novels by Amanda Prowse include ‘A Mother’s Story’ which won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the year Award and ‘Perfect Daughter’ that was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016. Amanda’s latest book ‘The Food of Love’ went straight to No.1 in Literary Fiction when it was launched in the USA and she has been described by the Daily Mail as ‘The Queen of Drama’ for her ability to make the reader feel as if they were actually in the story.

Now published by Lake Union, Amanda Prowse is the most prolific writer of contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also score the highest online review approval ratings for several genres.

A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda Prowse is a regular panellist on the Channel 5 show ‘The Wright Stuff’ and numerous daytime ITV programmes. She makes countless guest appearances on BBC and independent Radio stations where she is well known for her insightful observations of human nature and her infectious observational humour.
Follow Amanda on Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Website ~ Instagram

Amanda’s ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades…

Many thanks for reading my post, if you liked it please give a share.  Or go and get yourself a copy of this book CLICK HERE 🙂 xx