#BlogTour : The Street Orphans by Mary Wood @Authormary : #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts for “The Street Orphans” by Mary Wood as part of the blog tour. Published in eBook, paperback and audio formats. My thanks to Mary and also Kate at Pan Macmillan for my copy of this book and my spot on the tour.

Synopsis:

The Street Orphans is an emotional story set in 1850s Lancashire, from Mary Wood, the author of In Their Mother’s Footsteps and Brighter Days Ahead.

Born with a club foot in a remote village in the Pennines, Ruth is feared and ridiculed by her superstitious neighbours who see her affliction as a sign of witchcraft. When her father is killed in an accident and her family evicted from their cottage, she hopes to leave her old life behind, to start afresh in the Blackburn cotton mills. But tragedy strikes once again, setting in motion a chain of events that will unravel her family’s lives.

Their fate is in the hands of the Earl of Harrogate, and his betrothed, Lady Katrina. But more sinister is the scheming Marcia, Lady Katrina’s jealous sister. Impossible dreams beset Ruth from the moment she meets the Earl. Dreams that lead her to hope that he will save her from the terrible fate that awaits those accused of witchcraft. Dreams that one day her destiny and the Earl’s will be entwined.

My Thoughts:

Now I know of the name, have seen a few books but have never read a book by this author. Looking through her books there is definitely a theme of historical based family sagas and social history. The Street Orphans is one that falls into these categories.

The story is of Ruth, a young woman with a club foot in 1850’s Lancashire. Her disability gives cause for concern for people as she is seen as “different” and therefore cannot be trusted and quite possibly a witch. A time where superstition and stigma are attached just as quick as mud to a shoe.

I loved this book and for so many reasons. I like to be taken into a the social aspects of a story and the contrasts between the various classes is wonderful. She explains within the story how stereotypes and stigmas cause mistrust and twists perceptions. This is very evident with another character, Katerina. Her parents have a mixed background marriage and the expectations of wealthy and titled as well as untitled people have their own set of problems. Arranged marriages for financial security, business deals, social status are among some of the challenges that are set out.

I really liked the way the author has used the local dialect for some of her characters. For me this worked really well and showed an emphasis on the differences between the locals and some other characters.

As with many things then as is now, power is an all-encompassing beast. The more you have, the more you can lose. The more you have, the more you want. This is played out really well within one of the plots of the story. Even though we follow the story of Ruth there are other stories that cross and intertwine with hers.

The story takes you into a world that is tragic, heartbreaking, cruel and nasty but it is gently balanced with a heartwarming and hopeful thread. I went through quite a few emotions with this story from shock and horror at some of the treatment and opinions, heartbreaking moments as things for the characters changed and the consequences that followed.

As I mentioned earlier, this is my first experience with this author and if this book is anything to go by i will be reading more. I would have quite happily sat and read tis book in a day if I had started it earlier, as it was I read it over two evenings. It was a story that caught me right from its shocking start and kept my attention throughout.

It is an amazing story with some wonderful characters and fantastic dialogue and setting descriptions. The plot took me through the highs, lows and some of the characters I loved some I loathed as I was transported back to the Victorian era of Lancashire. This author knows how to write a good story and I would highly recommend this book for readers of historical fiction, historical romance, social history,

About the Author:

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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 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.

Follow Mary on – Website – Twitter

GIVEAWAY ALERT ……Mary is running a giveaway and will offer a signed copy of the book to be drawn from those leaving a comment on the site.

Disclaimer: I am not involved in any way with this giveaway. The author will contact any winners directly. Any responsibility for the prize lies with the author.

See what other Book Bloggers think by following the tour

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

#BlogTour : Blackmail, Sex and Lies by Kathryn McMaster @TrueCrimeNovels with @rararesources : #BookReview

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I am delighted to part of the blog tour of “Blackmail, Sex and Lies” by Kathryn McMaster.  I wish to thank Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot. This book is  available as a paperback or an eBook.  *Today is the last day to grab this book at a reduced price *

Synopsis:

The young Scottish socialite, Madeleine Hamilton Smith was swept off her feet by Pierre Emile L’Angelier. She thought him handsome, charming, attentive. However, things soon soured between the pair.

However, once he had seduced her, he became controlling, manipulative. While she tried desperately to withdraw from the toxic and abusive relationship he started blackmailing her; threatening to expose her indiscretions to her family and her new fiancé which would have ruined her within her strict, Victorian era society.

She felt trapped, desperate even. Suddenly, the threats were silenced by his unexpected death.

Did Madeleine Smith murder Pierre Emile L’Angelier or did he commit suicide?

For 160 years, people have believed Madeleine Smith to have been guilty of murder. But was she? Could she have been innocent after all?

This Victorian murder mystery, based on a true story, takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, 1857.

My Thoughts:

Kathryn has used some of the 200 letter between socialite Madeleine Hamilton-Smith and Pierre Emile L’Angelier and created a fictionalised them for a riveting read.  It documents the relationship between Madeleine and Emile in 1850’s Scotland.  Madeleine is the naive daughter of strict architect James Hamilton.  Pierre, or Emile as he is referred to, is from French parents and not in the same social league as Madeleine, but he is desperate to climb the social ladder. The two begin a secretive relationship that is doomed from the start.

This is the sort of book that I really love to read, historical, Victorian and including documentation to provide a wonderful basis for a very addictive read.  A few of the letters have been included and provide a wonderful and personal insight into the lives of the two main protagonists.  It captures and reflects their own actions as well as those around them.  It shows a darker side to romance.  A side where the ends justify the means as far as Emile is concerned.  He does not want to be married to a penniless woman, he wants one that can support him.  The more I read of Emile, the more I disliked him, but also I found myself wanting to shake some sense into Madeleine, she really was a soppy doe eyed naive girl, but at the same time I did feel sorry for her.

It has scandal, vulnerability and calculated manipulation that ultimately leads to a death, but was it murder, suicide or a cover up ?  It is well written and engaged this reader from the outset.  I always like the inclusion of the differences between social class and the living conditions of the period I am reading, this book did that.  As well as having a great story line and a pace suitable for the style of book.

This is a book I would recommend to readers who like true crime, Victorian Historical Fiction, with references to Victorian Social and family Values.  A really good read.

About the Author:

 Blackmail - kathryn mcmasterKathryn McMaster is a writer, entrepreneur, wife, mother, and champion of good indie authors. She co-owns the book promotion company One Stop Fiction (www.onestopfiction.com), where readers can sign up to receive news of free and discounted 4 and 5 star reviewed books. She is also a bestselling author of historical murder mysteries set in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Her debut novel, “Who Killed Little Johnny Gill?” was well received. All her novels are based on true stories, and she melds fact with fiction, writing in the creative nonfiction style. She lives on her 30 acre farm in the beautiful Casentino Valley, Italy for 6 months of the year, and during the other half of the year, on the small island of Gozo, Malta.

www.kathrynmcmaster.com

https://twitter.com/TrueCrimeNovels

https://www.facebook.com/kathrynmcmaster.author/

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Drama Llama Press; 1st edition (14 Sept. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8894122859
  • ISBN-13: 978-8894122855
  • Purchase from  – Amazon UK – Amazon US

Many thanks for reading my post. If you liked it, please give it a share.  Better still, go and buy yourself a copy.

#BookReview Dr Jekyll & Mr Seek by Anthony O’Neill pub by @bwpublishing

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“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Seek” by Anthony O’Neill is available in paperback or as an eBook.  I strongly suggest buying the paperback, the cover is beautiful.  Published by Black And White Publishing.

Synopsis:

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Continues…

Seven years after the death of Edward Hyde, a stylish gentleman shows up in foggy London claiming to be Dr Henry Jekyll. Only Mr Utterson, Jekyll’s faithful lawyer and confidant, knows that he must be an impostor – because Jekyll was Hyde. But as the man goes about charming Jekyll’s friends and reclaiming his estate, and as the bodies of potential challengers start piling up, Utterson is left fearing for his life … and questioning his own sanity.

This brilliantly imagined and beautifully written sequel to one of literature’s greatest masterpieces perfectly complements the original work. And where the original was concerned with the duality of man, this sequel deals with the possibility of identity theft of the most audacious kind. Can it really be that this man who looks and acts so precisely like Dr Henry Jekyll is an imposter?

Praise for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Seek:

“A strange and wondrous tale – beautifully told.”
LIN ANDERSON

“Fiendishly ingenious.”
RONALD FRAME

“O’Neill infuses the narrative with suspense and meticulously researched detail. A gripping novel.”
KAITE WELSH

“A clever and entertaining sequel that will leave Stevenson fans delighted.”
KEVIN MacNEIL

“Dazzling in its own right.”
LESLEY McDOWELL

My Thoughts:

Anthony O’Neill has continued where R.L.Stevenson left off with his version of a possible next story in the infamous Jekyll & Hyde classic.  It is set seven years after the death of Mr. Edward Hyde.  When Dr. Henry Jekyll reappears, it is lawyer and confidante Mr Gabriel Utterson who is the only one aware that Jekyll and Hyde are one in the same person.  As Utterson was witness to the death of Hyde he knows that Jekyll must be an impostor.  Utterson takes it upon himself to prove this man to be false, a difficult task as Jekyll, in Utterson’s opinion, is  ingratiating himself with his Jekyll’s old friends and colleagues, they believe the man they see before them to be the one they knew several years ago.

First off the cover for this book is beautiful, a simple, effective and almost an unassuming cover, but at the same time eye-catching with its reflective gold and embossing.  Secondly it is a good book, that I did enjoy, but at the same time felt it lacked something in the prose that Stevenson had.  I am a lover of classics and especially of the old gothic classics, and when I first chose this book I wasn’t sure which approach the author would take. The Jekyll and Hyde characters are notorious, infamous, as well as famous, with a strong following.  Would he try to emulate Stevenson or via his own route?  This is very much a contemporary gothic story and should be approached as such.

Once I realised it was going to be set in a contemporary style, I really enjoyed the story.  I thought it was well described and thought out.  The characters are taken on a plot that is deep, dark and twisted.  O’Neill has captured the atmosphere of old Victorian London very well and also in giving some good character descriptions.  The plot still has a similar basis of a person having two sides, and has been incorporated into this plot.

This is a book that I pretty much read in one sitting, it was a fun and intriguing read that captured me within the first couple of chapters.  I feel O’Neill has kept true to some of the style of Stevenson, but as I have already mentioned, has a modern feel to it.

I would recommend this to readers of contemporary gothic fiction, as well as mystery readers within a Victorian England setting.  It is a good story that gives an interpretation on what could happen next.

About the Author:

_IMG_4251Anthony O’Neill is the son of an Irish policeman and an Australian stenographer.

He was born in Melbourne and lives in Edinburgh.

He is the author of Scheherazade, a revisionist Arabian Nights epic; The Lamplighter, a psychological horror novel set in Victorian Scotland; The Empire of Eternity, a history-mystery involving Napoleon Bonaparte and the early years of Egyptology; The Unscratchables, a Swiftian satire featuring dog and cat detectives; and The Dark Side, a crime novel set on the far side of the moon.

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Black and White Publishing (1 Sept. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1785301314
  • ISBN-13: 978-1785301315

Available for purchase from Amazon UK  | Amazon US  |  Black & White Publishing

Many thanks for reading my post.  If you liked it, please give it a share.  Better still go by the book.