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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Nevis Bakery Cherry Cake
The Cocoa Bean Company Milk Chocolate covered Caramels with Red Ribbon (100g)
Presented in a Natural Eco-Friendly Jute Bag 

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*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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The Mensch by Leopold Borstinski @Borstinski @ZooloosBT #historicalfiction crime #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Mensch by Leopold Borstinski. While I am delighted to share I am also sad that this is the final book in the Alex Cohen series. It has been a fabulous series to read and an absolute pleasure to support in the Blog Tours.

My huge thanks to Zoe at Zooloo’s Book Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this wonderful book.

How can a crooked man ever go straight?
Jewish gangster, Alex Cohen settles down in Florida surrounded by his wife and family. But his past life in the criminal underworld stalks his every move and when a bullet whizzes past his ear, he must decide whether to run or fight.


In his desire to go straight, Alex inserts himself in the East Coast porn film industry, only to find that the tentacles of the mob are clasped tight around his life. With the Feds using new laws to hunt down mob bosses, and rats in his own organization all too ready to testify against him, Alex must clean house before the authorities throw him in jail or the mob kills him to stop him ratting them out.


The seventh book in the Alex Cohen series is a historical thriller novel, which reveals the dying embers of Jewish organized crime in America. Leopold Borstinski’s crime fiction shines a light on the death of the old-style mob in an explosive finale.

PURCHASE LINK – HERE

MY REVIEW

Mensch is a Yiddish term for a person of integrity and honour (according to Google). Could you call a gangster a man of honour or someone with integrity?

In this final book in the Alex Cohen series, the author takes a glimpse, at times of the past, of Alex. From his beginnings when he arrived at Ellis Island to where he is in 1965. He started in The Bowery’s and has gradually emerged into a name that is revered i8n the gangs of the US. The author has had him in the mix and rubbing shoulders and swapping stories with Alfonse Capone, The Kennedys, Fidel Castro and Frank Sinatra.

As the years have passed, Alex has become a husband and a father, he has a close-knit group of friends and business partners. He has worked hard and has put himself in danger many times. and occasionally the lives of his family. He has known a vast number of people and some of them have walked away unharmed!

In this final book, Alex is contemplating his future. He has always said that certain parts of his business will become legitimate and others will go to his oldest and closest business partners and friends. As the author gradually approached the 70s, the once feared name of Alex has started to lose some of its impact. The FEDs have been around for many years, but recently the noose is tightening around the old-style gang bosses. Eager to remain free, there are some who are not averse to turning witness.

Alex has always had a motto and it is one that has been mentioned several times in each book. In this final book, it is mentioned even more. If you have followed the series then you will know to what I refer.

I have enjoyed this series from the very start, following the highs and the lows. The Mensch is a book that feels slower, and it sort of makes sense to me as Alex is starting to slow down. But, that does not for one moment mean he is relaxing and taking things easy. He is getting things in order and this means huge amounts of travelling for face-to-face meetings. I think by slower, I mean he is spending time thinking over the past, the present and the future. Life is going to change, what and when that change will be, well you are going to have to read this one to find out.

This is a series that is one for those who like historical fiction that is based around the gangsters of the US. From an unknown immigrant to one who has associated with the rich, the famous and the notorious. A fab series and a brilliant finale in this final book. It is one I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.
There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.
He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

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The Darkest Sin by D.V. Bishop @davidbishop #20booksofsummer #historicalfiction #crime #murder #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Darkest Sin by D.V. Bishop. This is the second book in the Cesare Aldo series and it is absolutely brilliant. My huge thanks must go to the wonderful Eva aka @noveldeelights who first introduced me to this series 🙂

This is book 19/20 in my #20booksofsummer reading challenge, and yes the final book has also been read!

The Darkest Sin is an atmospheric historical thriller by D. V. Bishop, set in Renaissance Florence and is the sequel to City of Vengeance.

Florence. Spring, 1537.

When Cesare Aldo investigates a report of intruders at a convent in the Renaissance city’s northern quarter, he enters a community divided by bitter rivalries and harbouring dark secrets.

His case becomes far more complicated when a naked man’s body is found deep inside the convent, stabbed more than two dozen times. Unthinkable as it seems, all the evidence suggests one of the nuns must be the killer.

Meanwhile, Constable Carlo Strocchi finds human remains pulled from the Arno that belong to an officer of the law missing since winter. The dead man had many enemies, but who would dare kill an official of the city’s most feared criminal court?

As Aldo and Strocchi close in on the truth, identifying the killers will prove more treacherous than either of them could ever have imagined . . . 

MY REVIEW

This is the 2nd book in the Cesare Aldo series and you really should read the first book City of Vengeance as part of this story has links to the previous. Also, the first book gives a brilliant introduction to Aldo as a person, as an investigator and also the people in the city of Florence in this time period.

Set in Florence in 1537, Aldo is asked to see about the reports of intruders but finds the body of a man in the convent of Mary Magdalen. It is inconceivable that a nun would be responsible, but how and why this has happened is something that Aldo may not even be asked to investigate in. Aldo works for the Otto, the administration of the criminal court at the time. The murder is on Church grounds and therefore not under the same jurisdiction.

Another Otto constable is looking into a missing man when he discovers a body. Constable Strocchi is a new recruit who was introduced in the first book, while he is still wet behind the ears, he does pick things up and is learning the art of dealing with the criminal and underworld elements. He is very principled, newly married and under pressure to get results.

This second book is fantastic, and while I loved the first one, this one is even better. I think this is due to the fact that I am already aware of the main characters, their roles, their personalities and traits. The does mention the cases and details of Strocchi and Aldo, but it is so much better to already know them before starting this one.

The two investigations are run separately, so the author does flit back and forth between the two. I love this as it means I am eager to return to each of the cases to see what has progressed. The cases are different in the way they are investigated, but the basics are the same. Trying to discover the leads, getting to the truth, recognise the lies and taking the time to think things over.

It was great to see Aldo and Strocchi working sep[erately as it meant I got more insight into each of the characters and also what they are thinking about. They obviously have different priorities in their lives and this is a great way of really getting under the skin of each character.

The cases are brilliantly worked out, morals and dilemmas I do love them. Putting a character in the firing line, yes I adore that as well. The author chose some interesting routes for his characters and this meant the story had a great pace, constantly evolving and throwing up different challenges.

This is a fabulous book and it definitely cements this series as one that I will definitely be keeping up with. This is one for those who like historical murder mysteries with a complex storyline that is also easy to follow when you are in the zone. I really didn’t want to put this one down and read it in two sittings.

Excellent storyline, and interesting characters, can’t wait for the next book and it is one I would absolutely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

D. V. Bishop writes the Cesare Aldo mysteries set in Renaissance Florence. The first in the series, CITY OF VENGEANCE, won the New Zealand Booklovers Award for best novel and was shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize. Long listings include the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award, the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel, and the CWA’s Historical Dagger Award. The second Cesare Aldo mystery, THE DARKEST SIN, was published in March 2022.

Bishop was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship while writing CITY OF VENGEANCE. The novel won the Pitch Perfect competition at the 2018 Bloody Scotland international crime fiction festival and was a Sunday Times Crime Club Pick of the Week. Global bestselling author David Baldacci called the novel ‘a first-class historical thriller … a tour-de-force.’

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The Lion by Conn Iggulden #20booksofsummer #historicalfiction #netgalley #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Lion by Conn Iggulden. I have read quite a few books by this author and I do adore how he brings history to life, making it interesting and exciting in his telling. Brilliantly researched and addictive reading for those who love their hist/fic.

This is 14/20 of the #20booksofsummer reading challenge.

Ancient Greece, 5th century BC

The age of myths and legends has given way to the world of men. In the front rank stands Pericles, Lion of Athens.

Behind Pericles lies the greatest city of the ancient world. Before him, on land and at sea, stands the merciless Persian army. Both sides are spoiling for war.

Though still a young man, Pericles knows one thing: to fight a war you must first win the peace.

It’s time for a hero to rise.

For his enemies to tremble.

And for Athens, a city of wisdom and warriors, to shine with glory . . .

MY REVIEW

When I pick up a book by this author I know I am going to be in for a treat. The Lion is fabulous reading and takes the reader back to 5th Century BC, Ancient Greece. This era is one people are most like aware of given the films such as The 300, I mention this as it is in a similar timeline to the story and his son, Pleistarchus features at the beginning of the story. While Sparta played its part in past battles, it stands apart for a few years. Athens, with other city-states, created the Delian League at Delos, a central island in the Aegean Sea,

The main characters in this story are Cimon and Pericles. They are childhood friends and their fathers had fought in the battles at Marathon against the Persians. The Persians have gone quieter of late, but that does not mean there is no danger. The city-states of Greece come together to form the Delian League, they amass a fleet that patrols the Aegean to keep a look out for potential Persian threats.

Pericles is a young man and isn’t allowed a responsibility as he is deemed too young until he is 30 years old. But, his friendship with Cimon grants him access to meetings. The two form a formidable friendship and when needed they will support each other.

Pericles takes over his father’s estate after his death. This means he is bound to the land, but his heart still yearns for the sea. He has different responsibilities from Cimon, but when he is needed Pericles will join back with Cimon.

This story is a brilliant one from start to finish. The author manages to create such a wonderful and action-packed story from history. As I read this I had to remind myself I wasn’t watching a film as the imagery the author creates with his words is exceptional. He really does bring history to life in the pages.

The battles of the past are still fresh in the memories of the current, this helps to fuel the need for a fleet and to have people with experience around those in control. There are politics that come into play, but this is not a main part of the story. Ancient Greece without its politics just wouldn’t be right! The author brings the characters to life with decisions, friendships, battles and pretty much from the point of Pericles who will have a larger role in history.

This is more the story of Pericles, his decisions and his thoughts as he makes the transition from a young man into an adult and all the responsibilities that come with it. His family, his personal life and made it a more character-based story. There are plenty of other characters but focusing on just one gave a brilliant insight into one of history’s figures.

This author will probably already be known to you if you like your ancient history. It is a brilliant read and one that I would definitely recommend.

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The Cottage on Winter Moss by Allie Cresswell @Alliescribbler #fiction #historicalfiction #contemporaryfiction #dualtimeline #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Cottage on WInter Moss by Allie Cresswell. I have read some of Allie’s books previously and I do like her writing style a lot. When she contacted me to see if I wanted to read her latest book, there was no hesitation, of course, I would. My views are my own.

Burned-out author Dee needs fresh inspiration. Impetuously, she abandons London and her good-for-nothing boyfriend to go wherever her literary quest takes her. Journey’s end is a remote village on the shores of a wild estuary, overshadowed by a ruined pele tower. She rents Winter Cottage and waits for a story to emerge.

The bleak beauty of the whispering dunes, the jacquard of colour and texture of the marsh and a romantic tree in a secluded glade—The Trysting Tree—all seduce Dee. Nevertheless, the secretive behaviour of a handsome neighbour, lights across the marsh, a spurious squire and a bizarre, moonlit encounter all suggest there is something odd afoot.

Local gossip and crumbling graveyard inscriptions give Dee the opening she needs. She begins to weave hints about the tragic history of a local family, feuding brothers and a fatal fire into a sweeping historical saga. Her characters clamour for a voice as the tale spools effortlessly onto the page—demanding to be told. Dee feels more like its instrument than its instigator.

As she becomes enmeshed in the local community, Dee is startled to find her fiction unnervingly confirmed by fact, her history still resonating in the present-day.

Is she being guided by echoes of the past?

Purchase Link – AMAZON

MY REVIEW


I really enjoy this author’s books, her latest one was such a wonderful read. Dee, an author who has just split from her boyfriend decides to go on a road trip to… well… she drives until she runs out of road. She finds herself in a small community and there is a cottage available to let through the winter months.

The residents of this out-of-the-way village and the remote cottages where she stays give her something for her next story. Using people from the past she discovers her story just seems to want to be told. The truth of the past, the mistakes of the past, and the hurt of the past are still felt by today’s families. Bickering and feudal families from the past have set the scene for the atmosphere of the present.

This author writes some amazing descriptive passages, bringing a bleak, barren, and weather-worn area out of the shadows. She gives it a sense of being, like a character in its own right. In fact, the surrounding area in this story has secrets, just as the families do. How often do we wonder what the walls of old houses have seen, well the author gently brings this out in this story.

The story is actually a story within a story. The present-day one is of Dee and how she comes to be in the cottage on Winter Moss, the few people she meets, and how she feels drawn to the mysteries of the past. The past is something that wants to be told. As I was reading this story I felt a certain atmospheric air, one that has a nervous feeling. What if the truth is something that will cause harm or upset, how would you feel if the people from the past had their story told and it could potentially change how you perceive others or they perceive you?

Using a duel timeline was a great way to get to know the families and discover what happened many years ago. It is a story of the time, of family loyalty and of marrying into the right family. As the author leads us through the generations attitudes change but the animosity remains.

This is a gorgeous story, the author describes the setting with beauty and danger. Wind and wave-swept areas are open to the elements and are often deluged in rain. The mists and fog make it treacherous, and the water makes it dangerous. The author however weaves a wonderful tale that shows how a community has its opinions, and how the past sets a precedent for the present.

Gorgeously written, wonderful characters, heartbreak, hope, and an addictive read from start to finish. If you like dual-timeline stories that deal with families, troubles, feuds, and a chance to restart then this is one you really should look at. I would definitely recommend this book, it was fabulous reading.

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The Orphanage Girls by Mary Wood @Authormary @RandomTTours @panmacmillan #saga #historicalfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Orphanage Girls by Mary Wood. I have read and always loved this author’s books and also the books she writes under Maggie Mason.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my wonderful PB copy of the book from the publisher – Pan Macmillan.

Children deserve a family to call their own.

Ruth dares to dream of another life – far away from the horrors within the walls of Bethnal Green’s infamous orphanage. Luckily she has her friends, Amy and Ellen – but she can’t keep them safe, and the suffering is only getting worse. Surely there must be a way out of here?

But when Ruth breaks free from the shackles of confinement and sets out into East London, hoping to make a new life for herself, she finds that, for a girl with nowhere to turn, life can be just as tough on the outside.

Bett keeps order in this unruly part of the East End – and takes Ruth under her wing alongside orphanage escapee Robbie. But it is Rebekah, a kindly woman, who offers Ruth and Robbie a home – something neither has ever known. Yet even these two stalwart women cannot protect them when the police learn of an orphan on the run. It is then that Ruth must do everything in her power to hide.

Her life – and those of the friends she left behind at the orphanage – depends on it.

MY REVIEW


I have read and enjoyed several books by this author and I know I am going to be on a heart-warming and heart-breaking journey. This book was definitely that.

The author gets straight to it with this story of Ruth Faith. An orphan in Bethnal Green’s Orphanage. It should be a place of security but not so in this case. Set in the early 1900s the author relates how orphans were treated by the staff, how they are seen to be the lowest of the low and are abused, tortured and sometimes worse!

The one thing that gives Ruth hope is that she is almost at an age to leave the home for good. She can then find work and a place to live for her fellow friends at the orphanage. However, Ruth needs to survive to stand any chance of starting a new life.

The author has once again created a story that is heartbreaking but also one that is full of hope. SHe does write some amazing sagas and I think this one is one of the tougher ones as far as the content is concerned. I am aware of the history of orphanages and how life was almost too much for its innocent residents. The author has captured the main fears, challenges, difficulties and so much more as she tells the story of Ruth and her friends.

This isn’t just about Ruth, although she is the main focus. There are several other characters such as Robbie, Hettie, Horacio, Rebekah, Bett and many more. As this is set in London, the author brings in the Cockney pride and the sense of looking out for each other. It gives some of the characters a real boost instead of feeling alone and out on a limb.

This is a fabulous read, yes it does have some tough moments but the author also brings so many other things into her story. There are social expectations, a sense of family, and community spirit but also racism, abuse, corruption and other awful things. I will say though, that the author doesn’t linger too much or over-describe things, enough to make you aware.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, sagas and stories that revolve around small close-knit communities then this is a book for you. If you have read any of this author’s previous books and enjoyed them, then you know you are getting to enjoy this one as well. It is a book I would definitely recommend. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born in Maidstone, Kent, in 1945, the thirteenth child of fifteen children, Mary’s family settled in Leicestershire after the war ended.


Mary married young and now, after 54 years of happy marriage, four children, 12 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren, Mary and her husband live in Blackpool, United Kingdom during the summer and Spain during the winter – a place that Mary calls, ‘her writing retreat’.


After many jobs from cleaning to catering, all chosen to fit in with bringing up her family, and boost the family money-pot, Mary ended her 9 – 5 working days as a Probation Service Officer, a job that showed her another side to life, and which influences her writing, bringing a realism and grittiness to her novels
Mary first put pen to paper, in 1989, but it wasn’t until 2010 that she finally found some success by self-publishing on kindle.


Being spotted by an editor at Pan Macmillan in 2013, finally saw Mary reach her publishing dream.
When not writing, Mary enjoys family time, reading, eating out, and gardening.

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