Tuesday 5 December 2017

Today I am very pleased to share with you a guest post, written by one of the authors of The Fate of Kings, Mark Stibbe.


As the Terror begins to cast a great shadow over France, Thomas Pryce, the new Vicar of Deal, crosses the Channel to find the parents of his beautiful French wife. Facing grave dangers, he makes his way to Brittany where he not only discovers the fate of his in-laws but also uncovers a plot which threatens to topple the British monarchy. Fighting against a sinister secret society in a race against time, Pryce battles to thwart the plans of a Parisian spymaster and his agents in London. The Fate of Kings is the first in a series of gripping spy thrillers that will engross readers of C.J. Sansom, Dan Brown, as well as the many avid watchers of Poldark and Grantchester. In the first years of the British Secret Service, Thomas Pryce truly is the original James Bond.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the launch of The Fate of Kings in the wonderfully quirky Libraries on St Martin's Lane, where attendees were treated to cocktails, delicious canapes and suited and booted French soldiers, fresh out of a time machine. 

The authors, Mark and G.P. Taylor gave insightful speeches on the process of writing the book, and their own background which I found very interesting. 

As you can see, they went all out setting the theme of the book, here are the authors with the aforementioned soldiers. 

As you can see I couldn't resit either!

65. 'Made in Japan' by S. J. Parks

Saturday 2 December 2017

A young girl traces her mother’s steps all the way from London to Japan to search for the father she never knew.

Hana arrives in Tokyo with only two words in her mind: The Teahouse. She’s a long way from home in East London and still fresh from the loss of her mother. But her grief has sent her across to the other side of the world to find out who she is, and for Hana that means finding the Japanese man she has never met, her father with only these two words as clues.

Made in Japan is a beautifully woven story of a mother and daughter who, decades apart, tread the same streets of glittering Tokyo looking for that something that might complete them.

64. 'The Murderer's Maid' by Erika Mailman

Monday 23 October 2017

'The Murderer's Maid' interweaves the stories of two women: one, the servant of infamous Lizzie Borden, and the other a modern-day barista fleeing from an attempt on her life.

Trapped by servitude and afraid for her own safety, Irish maid Bridget finds herself an unwilling witness to the tensions in the volatile Borden household. As Lizzie seethes with resentment, Bridget tries to perform her duties and keep her mouth shut.

Unknowingly connected to the legendary crime of a century ago, Brooke, the illegitimate daughter of an immigrant maid, struggles to conceal her identity and stay a jump ahead of the men who want to kill her. When she unexpectedly falls in love with Anthony, a local attorney, she has to decide whether to stop running and begin her life anew.

63. 'Pleasing Mr Pepys' by Deborah Swift

Friday 13 October 2017

I was recently asked to take part in the virtual blog tour for Deborah Swift's 'Pleasing Mr Pepys' and I couldn't resist. I know a little bit about the restoration of the monarchy when Charles II came to England, but beyond a brief education in the Great Fire of London, and Charles' penchant for a buxom wench that's as far as my historical knowledge really goes.

I of course know the tale of how Pepys documented that he kissed a queen, namely Catherine of Valois on his birthday...
On Shrove Tuesday 1669, I to the Abbey went, and by favour did see the body of Queen Catherine of Valois, and had the upper part of the body in my hands, and I did kiss her mouth, reflecting upon it I did kiss a Queen: and this my birthday and I thirty-six years old and I did kiss a Queen.
— Samuel Pepys
I was very intrigued by the synopsis, which I share with you below, and couldn't wait to get stuck in.

London 1667.

Set in a London rising from the ruins of the Great Fire, Pleasing Mr Pepys is a vivid re-imagining of the events in Samuel Pepys’s Diary.

Desperate to escape her domineering aunt, Deb Willet thinks the post of companion to well-respected Elisabeth Pepys is the answer to her prayers. But Samuel Pepys’s house is not as safe as it seems. An intelligent girl in Deb’s position has access to his government papers, and soon she becomes a target of flamboyant actress Abigail Williams, a spy for England’s enemies, the Dutch.

Abigail is getting old and needs a younger accomplice. She blackmails Deb into stealing Pepys’s documents. Soon, the respectable life Deb longs for slides out of her grasp. Mr Pepys’s obsessive lust for his new maid increases precisely as Abigail and her sinister Dutch spymaster become more demanding. When Deb falls for handsome Jem Wells, a curate-in-training, she thinks things cannot possibly get worse.

Until – not content with a few stolen papers – the Dutch want Mr Pepys’s Diary.

62. 'A Pearl For My Mistress' by Annabel Fielding

Friday 22 September 2017

A story of class, scandal and forbidden passions in the shadow of war. Perfect for fans of Iona Grey, Gill Paul and Downtown Abbey.

England, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady's maid in a small aristocratic household.

Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy.

Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital… and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society’s most dangerous secrets…

61.Blog Tour: 'The Keeping of Secrets' by Alice Graysharp

Friday 8 September 2017

The keeper of family secrets, Patricia Roberts grows up isolated and lonely. Trust no one and you won't be disappointed is her motto. Three men fall in love with her and she learns to trust, only to find that their agendas are not her own. With secrets concealed from her by the ultimate love of her life, and with her own secret to keep, duplicity and deceit threaten their relationship. In a coming of age story set against the sweeping backdrop of the Second World War - evacuation, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, buzz bombs and secret war work - Patricia ultimately has to decide whether to reveal her deepest held secret for the sake of her future happiness.

I am delighted to be sharing an extract from 'The Keeping of Secrets' on my blog as part of the blog tour. Here we find Jon is unexpectedly back in London in connection with secret war work.

Thank you to Rachel from Authoright for sending me a copy of the book (review will follow later this month so keep an eye out for it), and for asking me to take part in this Blog Tour. 

Click 'Read More' below to see it!

60. Recent Happenings & Moving Forward

Friday 11 August 2017

Hello, and welcome to the new incarnation of my blog!

I was beginning to feel very frustrated with the previous layout, and how posts were being affected by what should have been minor niggles to resolve. I started to really affect my enjoyment of blogging, and I am hoping this sleeker, more minimal aesthetic will help me moving forward.

I have changed my header, and have removed the previous one as I feel it no longer reflects or represents what I want this blog to be about - in part to a lot of interviews where I was told the image looked like it should be for a fashion blog, which is something this space no longer is. I'm so pleased with my new header, as it is a clean design in keeping with the layout, but also injects a pop of colour! The lovely Bethan designed it for me and I highly recommend her!

In the spirit of change, I thought I should update you on recent life happenings, and future hopes and goals.

So, where to begin?

I have now been married for approximately 86 days, not that I'm counting! Our wedding day was wonderful (though I'm sure every bride says the same thing). It was a joy to share the day with out nearest and dearest. I know I speak for both myself, and my husband (I love writing that) that we really could feel the love in the room that day. It is so true that the day flies by, and I'm so glad we made sure to take moments to ourselves to reflect and enjoy the moments we had created. 

We went on honeymoon to Sorrento - and let me tell you it was very much needed, as ten days before our wedding I was sadly made redundant.

We went to Pompeii, Herculaneum and climbed Mount Vesuvius after going most of the way up in a 4x4. We had an amazing time, especially as my husband had never visited Italy before. It is safe to say we ate ourselves around Sorrento, which my husband's Instagram will attest to. 

 In the long run it seems to have to have been for the best, as I walked away in a strong position. I do miss seeing the friends I made there on a daily basis though, however I am sure I will continue to see them at social events.

I have started an new role at the time of writing this, at a kickarse company  and I am very, very excited to get my teeth stuck into it. I've had quite a few weeks to kill before my start date after I secured the position, and as a result I am beginning to go slightly stir crazy. Don't get me wrong, down time is great, and it is the most I have ever had between jobs, but I'm beginning to need mental stimulation outside of the copious amounts of free time. Dare I even say I'm looking forward to cutting my teeth on commuting back into London? I know I'm going to regret writing that...

Moving on to what is next for me... we're starting to look for a new property to move to, as after four years in our first home together we have completely outgrown it. We both feel like we're on top of one another constantly and are desperate for more space. We're both set on a house. I've had my fill of flat complexes for the foreseeable - I was not made to live in such close quarters I have learned. So this is our next big step, which will hopefully be resolved by the end of November, and then I can get a massive Christmas tree this year (maybe even two if the property allows!), although packing away my books for however long always pains me. 
I have been working on a new blogging schedule which I hope to share soon - including relaunching the Facebook Page for my blog. I just need to get my head round my new hours and what is feasible along side my job and other commitments. 

Let me know if you like the blog's new look and design!


59. 'A Gathering of Ravens' by Scott Oden

Monday 10 July 2017

To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcneas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind--the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.

Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that's changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir's vengeance cannot be denied.

Taking a young Christian hostage to be his guide, Grimnir embarks on a journey that takes him from the hinterlands of Denmark, where the wisdom of the ancient dwarves has given way to madness, to the war-torn heart of southern England, where the spirits of the land make violence on one another. And thence to the green shores of Ireland and the Viking stronghold of Dubhlinn, where his enemy awaits.

But, unless Grimnir can set aside his hatreds, his dream of retribution will come to nothing. For Dubhlinn is set to be the site of a reckoning--the Old Ways versus the New--and Grimnir, the last of his kind left to plague mankind, must choose: stand with the Christian King of Ireland and see his vengeance done or stand against him and see it slip away?

Scott Oden's A Gathering of Ravens is an epic novel of vengeance, faith, and the power of myth. 

57. 'Every Secret Thing' by Rachel Crowther

Thursday 6 July 2017

Can you ever bury the past? 

She'd recognised in him something of herself: that sense of not belonging, of secrets fiercely kept . . .

Five friends, newly graduated, travel together to the Lake District. Young and ambitious, they little imagine the events that will overtake them that fateful summer, tearing their fragile group apart.

Twenty years later, they return to the same spot, summoned by a mysterious bequest. It's not long before old friendships - and old romances - are re-kindled. But soon, too, rivalries begin to re-emerge and wounds are painfully reopened . . .

How long does it take for past sins to be forgiven? And can the things they destroy ever really be recovered?

56. 'Outremer' by D. N. Carter

Sunday 14 May 2017

Who Controls The Past Controls The Future

 An epic love story must overcome religious divide and a plot to eradicate two blood lines, as the Crusades and the search for the ancient mysteries of the Holy Grail gather momentum.

Raised by his father in La Rochelle, France, Paul Plantavalu is known for his artistic nature, inquisitive mind and Christian faith. He also has an unshakable love for his Muslim childhood friend, Alisha al Komaty. Courageous and outspoken, she returns Paul’s love. But their path is paved with obstacles; religion, war, political chaos and a mysterious enemy determined to destroy their family lines.

Sometime between 1110 AD and 1120 AD in the aftermath of the first crusade, a small band of nine knights — the founding knights Templar — recover ancient precious artefacts left by a former, advanced civilisation, beneath the City of Jerusalem. Ruthlessly guarded, the secrets revealed by this discovery are highly prized by powerful and dangerous forces far and wide; the repercussions of their capture are inextricably linked to Paul and Alisha. As Paul starts to experience dark and vivid dreams and the fragile balance of peace starts to crumble, it will fall to an enigmatic man known as Kratos and his female warrior protégée Abi Shadana, to safeguard Paul and Alisha.

Paul and Alisha’s love story weaves between the threads of our reality and other realms — from the Druids to the Sufi mystics, the Magi of the East, the secret political arm of the Knights Templar and the Isma’ilis, the Assassins. Knights and pilgrims alike will witness some of the darkest battles ever fought. The discovery of a unique sword’s lethal power and whispered connections to King Arthur and the Holy Grail lead Paul and Alisha to question if their lives ever be the same again.

The first of a four-part series, Outremer is an historical epic, which sweeps across England, Scotland and France, to Syria, Jerusalem and Egypt. Discover the truth — and crack the ancient code — behind the great mysteries of the High Middle Ages for yourself.

Now onto my thoughts...

55. GUEST POST: Joan of Kent by Anne O'Brien for Poppy Coburn

Sunday 7 May 2017

In celebration of Anne O'Brien's highly anticipated (by me!) newest release, The Shadow Queen, she has kindly agreed to share a post written for my blog, looking into the character of Joan, and the challenged she faced when she chose to wed Thomas Holland in secret. 

I very much feel that Joan was a will unto herself, and this theme runs strong throughout the book.
Thank you very much to Anne for taking the time to create this guest post! Thank you for also sending me a copy of the new release, a review will follow next week when I have finished it, I am firing through it, although also wanting to savour it. Bookworm problems, eh?

54. GUEST POST: Exposing the Real ‘Bloody Mary’ By Samantha Wilcoxson for Poppy Coburn

Friday 28 April 2017

In celebration of Samantha Wilcoxson's newest release, I invited her to create a post about her enigmatic subject, Mary I. 

Mary has always been a controversial figure of English history, and Samantha examines how she came to be posthumously known as 'Bloody Mary'.

53. GUEST POST: In the Straitjacket (on the discipline of writing historical fiction) by Edoardo Albert

Friday 21 April 2017

I've decided to include a new kind of featured post on my blog - the Guest Post! Kicking off the first ever Guest Post here is author Edoardo Albert, whose books I have reviewed here and here. In this feature, Edoardo writes about his journey becoming a historical fiction writer - I can't wait to share Edoardo's post with you, so lets get to it! Thank you to Edoardo for agreeing to write this feature for my blog. 

I hope you enjoy! Please do leave me comments with any feedback or the types of guest posts you'd like to see here. 

52. 'God's Hammer' by Eric Schumacher: Part II

Monday 27 March 2017

Following on from my Q + A post with Eric Schumacher I am excited to share with you my review of God's Hammer.

51. 'God's Hammer' by Eric Schumacher

Friday 24 March 2017

It is 935 A.D. and the North is in turmoil. The Norse king, Harald Fairhair, has died, leaving the High Seat of the realm to his murderous son, Erik Bloodaxe. To solidify his rule, Erik ruthlessly kills all claimants to his throne, save one: his teenage brother Hakon, who is being raised in the Christian courts of Engla-lond. Summoned by the enemies of Erik, young Hakon returns to the Viking North to face his brother and claim his birthright, only to learn that victory will demand sacrifices beyond his wildest nightmares.

50. 'Oswiu: King of Kings' by Edoardo Albert

Thursday 2 March 2017

Oswald’s head is on a spike. 

Can Oswiu avoid the same fate? 

The great pagan king Penda set a trap, and when the brothers Oswiu and Oswald walked in, only one came back alive. Rumours abound that the place where Oswald’s body is strung up has become sacred ground – a site of healing for those who seek it.

 Oswald’s mother believes he will protect those he loves, even beyond the grave. So she asks the impossible of Oswiu: to journey to the heart of Penda’s kingdom and rescue the body that was stolen from them. 

Will this fateful task allow Oswiu to prove himself worthy of uniting the kingdoms under him as the King of Kings, or will it set him on a path to destruction? 

Oswiu: King of Kings is the masterful conclusion to The Northumbrian Thrones trilogy.

49. 'Before You Go' by Clare Swatman

Monday 30 January 2017

Before You Go is powerful story of love and loss, by debut author Clare Swatman.
When Zoe’s husband Ed dies, her world caves in. But what if Zoe can get Ed back?
You find your soulmate . . .

Some people stare love in the face for years before they find it. Zoe and Ed fumbled their way into adulthood, both on different paths – but always in the same direction. Years later, having navigated dead-end jobs and chaotic house shares, romance finally blossoms. Their future together looks set . . .
Then the unthinkable happens.

One morning, on his way to work, Ed is knocked off his bike and dies. Now Zoe must find a way to survive. But she’s not ready to let go of the memories. How can she forget all of the happy times, their first kiss, everything they’d built together? Zoe decides she has to tell Ed all the things she never said.

Now it’s too late. Or is it?

48. 'The Silk Weaver' by Liz Trenow

Sunday 29 January 2017

A novel of illicit romance set against the world of the silk trade in London
Anna Butterfield moves from her Suffolk country home to her uncle's house in London, to be introduced to society. A chance encounter with a local silk weaver, French immigrant Henri, throws her from her privileged upbringing to the darker, dangerous world of London's silk trade.

Henri is working on his master piece to make his name as a master silk weaver; Anna, meanwhile, is struggling against the constraints of her family and longing to become an artist. Henri realizes that Anna's designs could lift his work above the ordinary, and give them both an opportunity for freedom…

This is a charming story of illicit romance, set against the world of the burgeoning silk trade in eighteenth-century Spitalfields - a time of religious persecution, mass migration, racial tension and wage riots, and very different ideas of what was considered for women.

47: Goodbye 2016 / Hello 2017

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Top Highlights of 2016 • 

- Getting my anxiety under control. While it is very much still there in the background I have a much stronger handle of my anxiety and am in a better, happier place for it. I have also come off my medication, which was a big goal of mine for 2016. I really wanted to be off everything before I get married in June 2017, and through working through things and taking the time to adjust and heal I have achieved this. 

- Making contact and building relationships with publishers. It's very much in the early stages, but to be working with people in an industry I very much love is a real joy. I have also started making contact for submissions of my work, although I'm not quite ready yet it has given me a goal to work on throughout 2017. I have away wanted to have my writing published in some form by the time I was 30, so I have 2 years to work on this. 

- Spending time with the people who enrich your life, and distancing/cutting the cord from those who are only around for fair weather or just serve to cause conflict. It's so hard to not take it personally when it is clear you are an after thought to someone after years and years of friendship, but it is okay to let go and move on from that relationship if it no longer brings you joy or enrichment. 
- Returning to my Cathedral Guide training after a hiatus. 
• Goals for 2017 • 

- Getting Married. On Friday 23rd June 2017 I will say 'I do' to my best friend and partner in crime. We will have been engaged for 2 years, and together for 6 years by the time we wed. It feels so good to be able say that I'm getting married this year, although I am grateful for the longer period of engagement as I feel it really gave us the time to enjoy being engaged before we got into the hardcore wedding preparations and saving. 

- Improving the content on the blog and posting on a regular basis. Sometimes I don't give myself enough time, or I say yes to books that I have a gut feeling that I just won't like. I want to be firmer with what I chose to review for publishers. I feel so privileged that my little old blog has caught the attention of those working in the book industry, and that they'd like to work with me to promote books on their portfolios. It's definitely a relationship I want to nourish for further development in 2017. 

- Read more books. For reviewing purposes, and for general pleasure. I'm aiming for 100 books read in 2017, which I will keep track of via my Goodreads account.

- Refining what I post on my Instagram - remember to follow me!

- Improving my health and fitness. I signed up for the gym on January 2nd (as did most of the UK I imagine!) and did my first proper work out in goodness knows how long. I've wanted to improve my fitness for quite some time now, but I lacked the motivation. Suddenly with the wedding looming and only six months away I've realised I need to get my backside in gear. I'm surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and the endorphin kick afterwords was so beneficial. I feel that this will help my anxiety as a result. 

- Work on my original writing, both fiction and non-fiction. I have so many notebooks and files filled with half finished stories, or a heck of a lot of planning. This year I want to go through everything and really work at getting them in a more polished position. 

What are your goals for the New Year?
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