A Pearl for My Mistress by Annabel Fielding book review

a pearl for my mistress

A Pearl for My Mistress written by Annabel Fielding, publisher HQ Digital, is available NOW in ebook format.

To buy link:  http://amzn.to/2mKYKFK

Product Details (as per amazon page)

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…

vintage pearls

 

This debut novel by Annabel Fielding is loosely based on a pivotal moment in Britain’s political history.  To a time in the early 1930’s were a political uprising was brewing bringing with it fear, unease and danger. I didn’t know a great deal about this part of history and this is the beauty of historical fiction it does give the opportunity for the author to bring history to life to a new audience that otherwise wouldn’t have known about it.

The story starts with young Hester Blake leaving home and starting her job in service as a Ladies Maid.  She was to aid the Earl of Hereford’s daughter, Lady Lucy Fitzmartin, to care for her needs and play chaperone during her first appearances in society.  Hester’s first impression of Lady Lucy was of a delicate, porcelain-esque young lady that held an almost ethereal beauty.

Underneath this delicate cloak Lady Lucy held a strong attitude especially towards her beliefs in politics and this was clearly evident in her writing with her articles in the press.  When her writings take on an almost obsessive indulgence to this new regime her life together with those around her becomes in danger.  I felt that this fear almost drove her on and Lucy became blinkered to the whole picture of what was really going on in the country and Europe.

This was a story of a political uprising filled with secrets and espionage and a fear bringing danger.  Amongst all this upheaval the author has woven a love within the storyline.  A love that had to be kept hidden, a love that the lovers greedily sought comfort with each other.  Two women from very different backgrounds, both with a harrowing and heart breaking past, brought together at a time when women were glamorous but also finding that they had a useful place in society and their efforts could make a difference.  An interesting story that had me gripped wanting to know where the author would take me next.

To learn more about Annabel Fielding please do visit the following pages:

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/dearestannabel

Blog:  http://historygeekintown.com/

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The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale by Rebecca Stonehill book review

the secret life of alfred nightingale

The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale written and published by Rebecca Stonehill is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:  http://amzn.to/2zFC5xi

Product Details (as per amazon page)

A compelling page turner of a buried past resurfacing, set against a backdrop of the 1960’s youth culture and war torn Crete.

1967. Handsome but troubled, Jim is almost 18 and he lives and breathes girls, trad jazz, Eel Pie Island and his best friend, Charles. One night, he hears rumours of a community of young people living in caves in Matala, Crete. Determined to escape his odious, bully of a father and repressed mother, Jim hitchhikes through Europe down to Matala. At first, it’s the paradise he dreamt it would be. But as things start to go wrong and his very notion of self unravels, the last thing Jim expects is for this journey of hundreds of miles to set in motion a passage of healing which will lead him back to the person he hates most in the world: his father.

Taking in the counter-culture of the 1960’s, the clash of relationships between the WW2 generation and their children, the baby boomers, this is a novel about secrets from the past finally surfacing, the healing of trauma and the power of forgiveness.

A captivating story that will mesmerise fans of Lucinda Riley, Dinah Jefferies and Tracy Rees.

caves of Matala

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this novel.  All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

This was such a profoundly moving novel that evoked many emotions in me.  A story cleverly told in two different time frames from two generations of one family going through a pivotal time in their own lives which would leave a lasting impression forever.

The author, Rebecca Stonehill, swept me away to a time in 1967, to a place of free spirit, young love and a time of self-discovery.  This particular part of the story was quite fascinating.  An adventure for the youngsters who quite bravely took this journey.  The caves of Matala with their steeped history intrigued me and with the backdrop of the beach and sea I can understand the draw especially with the Mediterranean temperatures.  For young Jim though, who was hellbent on escaping the stifling relationships at home, it wasn’t the idyllic retreat he expected.  As the days drew on he felt like something was missing, he was hurting inside with unresolved angst from home and the young love he craved wasn’t like he’d dreamed.

I was then transported back to a beautiful coastal area of Crete to 1940 when British forces were posted to defend Suda Bay and the British ships.  This beautiful area was soon to become tarnished and the locals and military personnel were fearing for their lives due to the onset of WWII.  Rebecca Stonehill took me to this terrifying time when the man you eat, sleep, work with becomes your closest friend in the world.  He’s your brother in arms that you will trust with your life and share your innermost thoughts with.  We see a different side to a character that our first impressions of are so far from the truth.

The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale is a historical timeslip novel about friendship, about self-discovery, about grief, about young love and much, much more.  Beautifully poignant, emotive and informative.

To learn more about Rebecca Stonehill and her work please do visit the following pages:

Website:  http://rebeccastonehill.com/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/bexstonehill

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/RebeccaStonehillBooks/

The Betrayal (The Guernsey Novels book 6) by Anne Allen book review

the betrayal anne allen

The Betrayal (The Guernsey Novel – Book 6) written by Anne Allen, publisher Sarnia Press is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.  The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

To buy link:  http://amzn.to/2l8KipY

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Treachery and theft lead to death – and love

1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…
1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return.
1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.
2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona, buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…
Searching for the rightful owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother’s ghost to rest?
Who betrayed Leo?
Who knew about the stolen Renoir?
And are they prepared to kill – again?

renoir guernsey

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this novel.  All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

Two tragedies just less than 70 years apart, is there a connection?

A time slip mystery that takes you to a war torn Guernsey, who at first were coping fairly well but with the threat of German occupation the small island and it’s community were soon left isolated from the rest of Europe.

Now in 2011 Fiona and her twin brother Nigel, the new owners of a long-established antique shop in Guernsey, are fizzing with excitement of the paintings they have just found hidden amongst the property.  With Fiona’s expertise in the field of Historical Art and her current work for the V & A museum, Fiona recognises the possible work of local artists Naftel and Toplis but another painting looks almost like a Renoir, which totally astounds Fiona.  Renoir was known to have created fifteen paintings of Guernsey during his stay on the isle in 1883.  To have first hand sight of one of his works was every Art Historian’s dream.  The twins, Fiona and Nigel, knew then that what they have stumbled across could be a pivotal moment in the art world and especially important that this was found in Guernsey.

As Fiona was authenticating the painting back in London she knew nothing of the danger her brother Nigel was in.  Coming home on a high with news of the painting Fiona was in for a traumatic shock when she discovers Nigel’s body.  Fiona is utterly devastated, she has lost not only her twin brother, her best friend but also the last remaining member of her immediate family.  She is shocked that the police believe Nigel’s death may be suicide and sets out to find the truth with the help of a local private detective.

We follow Fiona on her search to find out what exactly happened on this fateful day.  We also follow her on her journey to find the original owners of the Renoir painting.

The storyline also travels back in time to 1940 and of the inhabitants of Guernsey during the war, in particular to Leo Bichard, his young wife Teresa and new baby Judith.  The fear of the future during the war, the fear of being separated during evacuation and the fear of losing everything.

I really enjoyed this story especially going back in time to 1940, reading about the social ramifications of the war fascinates me but also as Guernsey was such a small isle I could understand how isolated and alone the islanders must have felt.  The author, Anne Allen, has packed The Betrayal with drama, history, intrigue, anguish and grief but I also felt a strength of warmth of friends rallying around to support one of their own in their desperate hour of need.  Also the spark of love at a time when your life has been shattered was a welcome distraction to all the emotional despair.  4.5/5*

To learn more about Anne Allen and her work please do visit the following pages:

Website:  http://anneallen.co.uk/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/AnneAllen21

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/Anne-Allen-Author

 

 

The Red Thread by Dawn Farnham blogtour book review

the red thread

The Red Thread written by Dawn Farnham, publisher Monsoon Books, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.  The ebook is on special promotion on amazon and is FREE until 25th September 2017.

To buy link:  http://amzn.to/2xA882C

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Set against the backdrop of 1830s Singapore where piracy, crime, triads and tigers are commonplace, this cultural romance follows the struggle of two lovers: Zhen, once the lowliest of Chinese coolies and triad member, later chosen to marry into a Peranakan family of Baba Chinese merchants; and Charlotte, an 18yearold Scots girl and sister of Singapore’s Chief of Police.

Red Thread Banner1

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour promoting and celebrating The Red Thread, which is volume 1 in The Straits Quartet.

I’m not afraid to say that it took me a little time to get into this story but a novel filled with so much culture, history and diversity cannot be rushed.  From the vivid descriptions of the scenes set on the pages I was transported to a Singapore filled with heady scents and could visualise the changing colourful and sometimes dark landscape.  From the first moment that Zhen laid eyes on Charlotte the intensity of the gaze was bewitching and as a reader you were willing for them to make an acquaintance.  But this wasn’t the time to be foolhardy and life for both the Chinaman and the English woman moved in different directions for a while.  However, the gods of luck were in their court and chances were brought their way to make this acquaintance happen.

Singapore in the 1830’s was becoming multicultural but not all were welcoming the newcomers to their lands.  Political and social unrest was heightened and fear was felt for the lives of many.  The author has woven this love story filled with angst, fear, drama, love and lust at a time were traditions and culture were so evident in many lives.  It was fascinating reading about the varying traditions for life, love and death.  The author was very honest with her writing and we saw life in Singapore in all its glory through the wonderful celebratory events and to times of terrible, horrific acts.  These highs and lows were part of history and come as a package.

The Red Thread was a dangerous, passionate love story that was so touchingly tragic.  In another world and another time there would be no barriers and love would win.

I’d like to share a quote I particularly enjoyed from the novel:

It was dangerous, but for some things it was right to dare danger.

About the Author

Dawn Farnham is the author of The Straits Quartetdawnfarnham
(The Red Thread, The Shallow Seas, The Hills of
Singapore and The English Concubine), as well as
numerous short stories, plays and children’s books. A
former long-term resident of Singapore, Dawn now
calls Perth, Australia, home. Her new book, Finding
Maria is published in October 2017.
Learn more about Dawn Farnham at:

The Shogun’s Queen by Lesley Downer book review and Japanese Tea Ceremony post

the-shoguns-queen

The Shogun’s Queen written by Lesley Downer, publisher Corgi, is available now in ebook and hardcover and FROM 27th July 2017 the novel will be available in paperback format.

To buy link:  http://amzn.to/2thjxQ2

Product Details (as per amazon page)

The year is 1853, and a young Japanese girl’s world is about to be turned upside down.

When black ships carrying barbarians arrive on the shores of Japan, the Satsuma clan’s way of life is threatened. But it’s not just the samurai who must come together to fight: the beautiful, headstrong Okatsu is also given a new destiny by her feudal lord – to save the realm.

Armed only with a new name, Princess Atsu, as she is now known, journeys to the women’s palace of Edo Castle, a place so secret it cannot be marked on any map. Behind the palace’s immaculate façade, amid rumours of murder and whispers of ghosts, Atsu must uncover the secret of the man whose fate, it seems, is irrevocably linked to hers – the shogun himself – if she is to rescue her people . . .

Lesley Downer The Shogun's Queen blog tour 1

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour promoting and celebrating the launch of the paperback of The Shogun’s Queen.  I reviewed a copy of this novel back in October last year and I’m happy to reblog my review today.

My Review

This was such an epic story that sent my emotions soaring high and dramatically cascading low.  I was enchanted by the author Lesley Downer’s beautiful words describing a colourful world.  I felt instantly transported to a land far, far away to a time where legends and rituals were significant and paramount.  To a time when the unknown were feared.  A time when sacrifices had to be made for the sake of the countries survival.

The Shogun’s Queen is a fictional novel based on events in Japanese history.  Young Okatsu with her beauty, knowledge and courage has been given a task like no other.  At the tender age of 17 Okatsu has been given a mission, a mission that seems almost impossible but none the less she has no option but to try.  Okatsu must leave her family, her village and the love of her life.  A tumultuous journey lies ahead for Atsu, as she is now formerly known and her destiny is shrouded with secrets, political upheaval and death.

The torment that Okatsu faces saying goodbye to her love is so heartbreaking but more heartbreak is to come.  I could hardly read the words with the tears falling.  The Shogun’s Queen story gripped me and left me intrigued all the way through and has left me feeling quite emotional and bereft at the end.  I completely adored this novel and would highly recommend it.  A stunning historical romance of sacrifices and love.  5/5*

japanese word tea

I was fascinated to learn of the culture of Japan in this novel, especially the tea ceremonies.  The author, Lesley Downer, has kindly written a short post for my blog on the art of Japanese tea ceremony.

 

You can connect with Lesley Downer at the following pages:

Website:  http://www.lesleydowner.com/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/LesleyDowner

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLesleyDowner/

The Butlin Girls by Elaine Everest blogtour/book review

butlin girls

The Butlin Girls written by Elaine Everest, publisher Pan, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

‘Molly Missons gazed around in awe. So this was Butlin’s. Whitewashed buildings, bordered by rhododendrons, gave a cheerful feeling to a world still recovering from six years of war. The Skegness holiday camp covered a vast area, much larger than Molly expected to see.

Molly Missons hasn’t had the best of times recently. Having lost her parents, now some dubious long-lost family have darkened her door – attempting to steal her home and livelihood…

After a horrendous ordeal, Molly applies for a job as a Butlin’s Aunty. When she receives news that she has got the job, she immediately leaves her small home town – in search of a new life in Skegness.

Molly finds true friendship in Freda, Bunty and Plum. But the biggest shock is discovering that star of the silver screen, Johnny Johnson, is working at Butlin’s as head of the entertainment team. Johnny takes an instant liking to Molly and she begins to shed the shackles of her recent traumas. Will Johnny be just the distraction Molly needs – or is he too good be to be true?

butlin girls tour poster

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Elaine Everest’s latest novel, The Butlin Girls.

This was a wonderful trip back in time to post war Erith, SE London and to Skegness in Lincolnshire.  A cosy romance novel filled with nostalgic charm, childhood idealisms, family saga, a time of new beginnings and hope for all after a country wreaked with war.  A time of renewed optimism and prosperity, a time when Billy Butlin opened his doors again at his flagship camp in Skegness bringing families and holiday makers together giving them a week of respite and good old fashioned fun and comfort.  This all sounds so cosy and lovely but our leading ladies in this novel escaped to work at Butlins to hide a traumatic time in their past.  However, the past anxieties weren’t too far away and Butlins wasn’t the protected haven for all.

Following the untimely death of her parents Molly was struggling with her grief and now she was facing a possibility of becoming homeless as a distant relative turns up laying claims to the inheritance.  The relatives also bring fear and danger of a different kind to Molly’s life and Butlins was the much needed escape for Molly.

Upon arriving at her new workplace and home Molly makes friends with her new roommates and fellow red coaters Bunty and Plum.  Unbeknown to each of the girls they are all hiding a secret heartache.  As their friendships blossom the girls gain strength within each other and “a problem shared is a problem halved” springs to mind.  Will the girls; Molly, Bunty and Plum cope with their new careers or will the past threaten their futures?

I particularly loved Elaine Everest’s style of writing for this novel it literally felt like I was stepping back in time, the style was very different to modern romcoms and chicklits of today but that particular style of writing wouldn’t work at all for this period saga.  This was a wonderful heart warming in abundance family and friendship saga.  It was my first introduction to Elaine Everest’s work and after enjoying this novel I decided to invest in her debut novel, The Woolworths Girls.

To find out more about Elaine Everest and her books please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.thewriteplace.org.uk/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/ElaineEverest

Bamboo Road Trilogy by Ann Bennett blogtour

bamboo road trilogy blogtour poster

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Bamboo Road, which is volume three in a Southeast Asian WWII Trilogy.  The trilogy includes Bamboo Heart, Bamboo Island and Bamboo Road and can be read in any order.

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Bamboo Heart – is available in ebook, paperback and audio download format.

Set in the Far East before and during the Second World War, Bamboo Heart captures the suffering and courage of prisoners of war of the Japanese. It tells the story of Tom Ellis, a prisoner enslaved on the infamous Death Railway in Thailand, and charts the journey of his daughter, Laura, who turns her back on her yuppie existence in eighties London to investigate her father’s wartime experience.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bamboo-Heart-Trilogy-1/dp/9814423734/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=N92RM8EE04KMXMZWCG93

Bamboo Island – is available in ebook and paperback format.

A stranger appears on Juliet s plantation in Malaya, inspiring a journey to Singapore and Indonesia to uncover family secrets hidden since World War Two Juliet Crosby has lived a reclusive life on her Malayan rubber plantation since the Second World War robbed her of everyone she loved. However, the sudden appearance of a young woman from Indonesia disrupts her lonely existence and stirs up unsettling memories. Juliet is forced to recollect her prewar marriage, her wartime ordeals in Japanese-occupied Singapore and the loss of those she once held dear.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Bamboo-Island-Trilogy-Ann-Bennett/9814625175/ref=pd_bxgy_14_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=XYPK5PWQTXVKC1YVBY99

Bamboo Road – is available in ebook and paperback format.

Thailand 1942: Sirinya and her family are members of the Thai underground, who risk their lives to resist the World War Two Japanese occupation and to and help British prisoners of war building the Thai-Burma railway. The events of those years have repercussions for decades to come. The book tells Sirinya s wartime story and how in the 1970s she returns to Kanchanaburi after a long absence abroad, to settle old scores from the war years.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Bamboo-Road-Trilogy-3-Ann-Bennett/9814625256/ref=pd_bxgy_14_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=GSJ331533N34V58KH76C

MY REVIEW OF BAMBOO HEART

Bamboo Heart is one of the books in the Bamboo Trilogy written by Ann Bennett, publisher Monsoon Books.  The books can be read in any order however, I chose to read Bamboo Heart first and I was soon captivated by this time slip historical fiction novel with the idea of the story coming to Ann Bennett whilst she was researching her father’s history who had been a POW on the Thailand-Burma Railway.

A fascinating, insightful story travelling back to 1938 to a young man starting out in the working world.  His career started out in the legal field and returned back to law many years later but what happened in between these years will stay with this young man forever.  A time during a pivotal moment in history.  A time that was kept hidden to the rest of the world as thousands of men were tortured and even killed in POW camps in Burma.  This was a truly terrifying time that was equally shocking, distressing and so traumatising.

Bamboo Heart’s time slip story journeys from London 1986 with Laura Ellis, a young career girl in the law industry taking time out to trace her father’s history.  We then travel back to 1943 to when Thomas Ellis was captured by the Japanese and held captive in a POW camp and forced to work on The Death Railway.

The author, Ann Bennett, wrote with such passion and honesty.  She left no scene without telling the shocking truth of a young man’s struggle to survive in the most terrifying of ordeals.  The story sounds quite oppressive but it wasn’t as you were dealing with real people’s emotions and even during times of war love always found a way to bring sunshine and hope to your days. 

A truly compelling historical time slip work of fiction that will stay with me for a long time 5/5*

About the Author Ann Bennett

ann bennett

Ann Bennett was born and raised in a small village in Northamptonshire, UK. She read Law at Cambridge and qualified and practised as a solicitor. During a career break, to have children, she started to write. Her father had been a prisoner of war on the Thailand– Burma Railway and the idea for a Southeast Asian WWII trilogy came from researching his wartime experiences. The research took her back to Asia, a place she loves and has returned to many times. She lives in Surrey with her husband and three sons and works in London as a lawyer.

To find out more about Ann Bennett and her books please visit the following links:

Website: http://www.bambooheart.co.uk

Blog: http://www.annbennettbambooheart.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/annbennett71

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Ann-Bennett