Saturday 30 June 2018

BLOG TOUR: The Woolgrower's Companion - Joy Rhoades

Australia 1945. Until now Kate Dowd has led a sheltered life on her family's sprawling sheep station but, with her father's health in decline, the management of the farm is increasingly falling to her.

Kate is rising to the challenge when the arrival of two Italian POW labourers disrupts everything – especially when Kate finds herself drawn to the enigmatic Luca Canali.

Then she receives devastating news. The farm is near bankrupt and the bank is set to repossess. Given just eight weeks to pay the debt, Kate is now in a race to save everything she holds dear.

What did I think?

You could be forgiven for thinking that The Woolgrower's Companion would be what I call a 'Mammy's book' from looking at the cover but it has so much depth and emotion that it is far from the family saga I was initially expecting.  Each chapter starts with an extract from a sheep farmer's manual published in 1906: The Woolgrower's Companion; this is so authentic that I thought it was a real book and I was astonished to find that it was Joy Rhoades' very own creation.  

The story revolves around Kate: a woman in a man's world.  As her father becomes more and more incapable of running the farm, the responsibility falls to Kate but a lot of the men aren't willing to work for a sheila.  Some men don't have any choice, as they are Italian prisoners of war and have been shipped to Australia to work on the land until the war is over.

Unbeknown to Kate, her father has been running up debts with local traders and more importantly with the bank.  Now the bank are knocking at the door and demanding their money back.  Kate sells what little items of value that she has but she still falls short; there's only one thing of value left, a rare yellow sapphire, but Kate's father doesn't know where he has hidden it.  With time running out, Kate is set to lose more than the farm as she finds herself getting closer to Luca, one of the POWs.  With a husband she barely knows away at war, Kate could easily lose her heart to Luca if she's not careful.

This book is so beautifully written that it creeps into your heart so slowly at first but it very quickly takes root, culminating in an emotional explosion as events around Kate unfold.  I found the plight of the aborigines very moving and it's something I haven't thought about before but the way they were treated is shocking, after all, Australia was their country first.  I absolutely love learning something whilst I am reading fiction books and I found it fascinating that so many Italian prisoners of war were sent to Australia.  I suppose returning home after the war must have been daunting for the Italian soldiers, with many having no families left, so some Australians sponsored the Italians to return; it's so lovely to think that those who were once enemies became friends. 

What an exceptional debut from Joy Rhoades and an absolute joy to read.  The Woolgrower's Companion is a beautiful, authentic and multi-faceted historical novel that has more depth than the Pacific Ocean.  I am delighted that this is only the beginning of Kate's story and I am already looking forward to the sequel.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

About me? I grew up in a small town in the bush in Queensland, Australia. I spent my time with my head in a book, or outdoors – climbing trees, playing in dry creek beds, or fishing for yabbies in the railway dam under the big sky. Some of my favourite memories were visiting my grandmother’s sheep farm in rural New South Wales where my father had grown up. She was a fifth generation grazier, a lover of history, and a great and gentle teller of stories. My childhood gave me two passions: a love of the Australian landscape and a fascination with words and stories.

I left the bush at 13 when I went to boarding school in Brisbane. I stayed on there to study law and literature at the University of Queensland. After, my work as a lawyer took me first to Sydney and then all over the world, to London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and New York. But I always carried in my head a strong sense of my childhood: the people, the history, the light and the landscape. Those images have never left me and they would eventually become The Woolgrower’s Companion. It’s a story I’ve felt I had to tell.

I currently live in London with my husband and our two young children. But I miss the Australian sky.

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Friday 29 June 2018

BLOG BLITZ: Rip Current - Amanda James

Who can you really trust?

DI Bryony Marshall has been on the tail of Kenny Ransom for two years. He’s involved in prostitution and trafficking, but there’s never been any real proof. To complicate matters further, Bryony’s best friend from childhood is his daughter Imogen.

Bryony worries about admitting the fact that she is trying to put Imogen’s dad away, but unexpectedly, Imogen turns on her father and helps the police. Kenny finds out and swears he’ll get his revenge.

Sick of being in the police force, Bryony visits her mother in Cornwall and considers starting a new life.

While in Cornwall, Bryony saves the life of a man caught up in a rip current in the sea.

But who is this stranger? And is Kenny really bent on revenge?

Rip Current explores the relationships between families and friends and asks who can you ever really trust.

What did I think?

I discovered Amanda James when I read the amazing Summer in Tintagel a few years ago.  Since then I have not hesitated to pick up more of her books as you are guaranteed a brilliant read with her suspenseful storylines set against a backdrop of dramatic and evocative Cornish scenery.  

I wasn't sure where the story was going to go at first as we meet Anya who is being held against her will and forced to work as a prostitute.  Enter DI Bryony Marshall who has been waiting years to take down Kenny Ransom, despite recently reconnecting with his daughter Imogen through Facebook.  Bryony is shocked by what Imogen has to say but it makes her one step closer to putting Kenny Ransom away for good.  The only trouble is, if Kenny finds out that Imogen has helped Bryony, both girls could be in danger as Kenny will be out for revenge.

I don't usually quote from books but I just have to share some of the exquisite prose from Rip Current.  I absolutely adore the way that Amanda James has written about Bryony's concerns about meeting Imogen after so many years.  We often look at our past through rose coloured spectacles and find that we have little in common with people from whom we were once inseparable.  Just take a look at this magnificent sentence that says all of that using a weather analogy:
I worry that, once held to the light, scrutinised and poked, our sunny past will turn overcast, begin to rain, and I'll have no umbrella.
I did pick up a few other beautiful sentences but I know I will have missed some corkers as the pacing is so fast and the story so compelling that I found myself racing through the book.

I love how family features heavily in Amanda James' books, not always in a good way, of course...there are always some bad eggs.  I couldn't help but draw a comparison between Bryony's father, a policeman who was killed on duty and Imogen's father, Kenny, who is cruel and ruthless.  The stories of the two men appear separate at first but link very nicely as Amanda James has a few surprises up her sleeve.

Rip Current is as dark and disturbing as it is gripping and addictive.  It's a non-stop enthralling thriller that turns the old proverb, 'blood is thicker than water', on its head.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Amanda has written since she was a child, but never imagined that her words would be published, given that she left school with no real qualifications of note apart from an A* in how to be a nuisance in class. Nevertheless, she returned to education when her daughter was five and eventually became a history teacher. Then in 2010, after many twists and turns, the dream of becoming a writer came true when her first short story was published. Amanda has written many short stories and has six novels currently published.

Amanda grew up in Sheffield but now has realised her lifelong dream of living in Cornwall and her writing is inspired every day by the dramatic coastline near her home. She has sketched out many stories in her head while walking the cliff paths. Three of her mystery/suspense novels are set there, Somewhere Beyond the Sea, Summer in Tintagel and the Behind the Lie. Rip Current is also set in Cornwall and will be published by Bloodhound Books in April 2018.

Amanda, known to many as Mandy, spends far more time than is good for her on social media and has turned procrastination to a fine art. She can also usually be found playing on the beach with her family, or walking the cliff paths planning her next book.

Twitter - @akjames61
Facebook mandy.james.33

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Wednesday 27 June 2018

BLOG TOUR: The Warrior with the Pierced Heart (The Shadow of the Raven Book 2) - Chris Bishop

In the second book in the exciting and atmospheric Shadow of the Raven series we rejoin novice monk turned warrior, Matthew as he marches ahead of King Alfred, to Exeter to herald the King's triumphant return to the city, marking his great victory at Edington.

It should have been a journey of just five or perhaps six days but, as Matthew is to find to his cost, in life the road you're given to travel is seldom what you wish for and never what you expect.

In this much-anticipated sequel Chris Bishop again deposits the reader slap-bang into the middle of Saxon Britain, where battles rage and life is cheap. An early confrontation leaves Matthew wounded, but found and tended by a woodland-dwelling healer he survives, albeit with the warning that the damage to his heart will eventually take his life.

Matthew faces many challenges as he battles to make his way back to Chippenham to be reunited with King Alfred and also with the woman he wants to make his wife. This is an epic tale of triumph over adversity as we will the warrior with the pierced heart to make it back to those he loves, before it is too late.

What did I think?

I absolutely loved Blood and Destiny, the first book in the Shadow of the Raven series, by Chris Bishop and couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of book 2: The Warrior with the Pierced Heart to continue Edward's story.  Edward is a novice monk, known as Matthew, who has relinquished his calling to fight for King Alfred against the Viking invasion.  Although you could read this as a standalone, I think it is imperative to read Blood and Destiny first to really appreciate the story in The Warrior with the Pierced Heart.

We catch up with Edward as he and his men journey to Exeter with a Viking boy who Edward rescued from the battle at Chippenham, named him Edmund and adopted him as his own brother.  This compassionate decision, made by Matthew the monk rather than Edward the warrior, may prove very costly indeed when they are ambushed by a group of Vikings.  In the ensuing battle, Edward is left for dead with a spear in his chest.

Edward is rescued by a local Celtic healer named Ingar who nurses him back to health and warns him that although she removed the spear, he has been left with a pierced heart that will shorten his life.  Ingar also has a prophesy to fulfil and drugs Edward so she can use him for her pagan ceremony.  Although Edward's mission is to return to his betrothed, Emelda, he can't help but be drawn to the mysterious Ingar.  This red-blooded man was definitely never meant to be a monk!

Before he is fully healed, Vikings attack the home of Ingar and Edward finds himself a prisoner.  Edward finds that his reputation has gone before him, not only because word has spread about 'the warrior with the pierced heart' but because of Arne, the boy he named Edmund who is now back with his kin.  The Vikings are not keen to kill Edward as they believe he came back from the dead so it buys him enough time to escape along with a band of merry men.  It really made me think of Robin Hood as Edward (Robin Hood), Aelred (Little John) and Brother Benedict (Friar Tuck) make their way through the countryside to Alfred's court where a dangerous mission awaits Edward as the story is set to continue in book 3.

I loved this second instalment of The Shadow of the Raven series; Chris Bishop's writing is so vivid that I could easily visualise Ingar's dwelling in the woods and the Viking camps on the banks of the Thames.  I can see myself reading this whole series again when it is concluded just to relive every single moment of Edward's life.

The Warrior with the Pierced Heart continues Edward's breathtaking story with a stunning Anglo Saxon landscape that is brought to life by the evocative writing of Chris Bishop.  This is an outstanding piece of historical fiction and I can't wait to continue Edward's fascinating journey with him.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Chris Bishop is a retired chartered surveyor who has pursued his love of writing for as long as he can remember. He is an intrepid traveller and a retired Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. He is married with two children and four granddaughters and lives in London.

Twitter: @CBishop_author

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Tuesday 26 June 2018

BLOG TOUR: Corrupted - Simon Michael

Corrupted is the fourth book in the Charles Holborne thriller series, and Simon Michael's follow up to the bestselling The Lighterman. 

Charles is building his reputation as a brilliant murder trial lawyer and living the good life with partner Sally. But he can't escape the influences and dangers of the past, and finds himself drawn once more into the orbit of the notorious Kray twins. 

It's not long before Charles is courting scandal and threats to his very life when investigating a sex ring that involves not just the Krays and the Mafia, but goes to the very echelons of the country's power. 

Simon Michael brings the past back to life across a beautifully rendered swinging 60s landscape, and delivers a gripping piece of thriller fiction that will excite any fan of the genre. 

What did I think?

Simon Michael is one of my favourite authors and I absolutely love his Charles Holborne series of legal thrillers set in 1960's London.  I stand by and reiterate my earlier statement from the first book in the series, The Brief, as this really is 'Britcrime at its very best'.  Having read the earlier books in the series, I felt as if I was catching up with an old friend in this latest instalment, Corrupted.  Having said that, for those who haven't read the earlier books (why haven't you?) this reads perfectly well as a standalone.  

Corrupted definitely has a dark and gritty feel to it as we glimpse the dark and seedy underbelly of 1960's London, in particular Ronnie Kray's notorious sex parties.  I use the word 'glimpse' purposefully in this instance, as Simon Michael gives just enough details to leave much to the reader's imagination.  After being picked up from the rail station by one of Ronnie Kray's henchmen, young Teddy Behr suddenly finds himself exposed to depths of depravity that will give him nightmares and before he knows it, he is accused of murder.  Only one man in London can defend him: Charles Holborne.

We find out so much more about Charles Holborne's character in Corrupted.  He is clearly still suffering from the loss of his cousin, Izzy, and grief makes you do the strangest things.  I felt that Charles wanted to go back to his youth when he was happy and Izzy was alive, so he joins his old boxing gym and signs up to a fight.  Having fought Reggie Kray in his youth, the twins turn up for a photo opportunity with a Hollywood actress who bats her eyelashes at Charles.  As his relationship to Sally has all but broken down, he is powerless to resist the allure of Patrizia Conti.

So many facts are intricately woven into the story that my eyes widened in wonder as I headed off to Google, as I often do when reading a riveting book.  I had never heard of the Robert Boothby scandal but it is this little nugget of truth that brings the whole book to life; for if Robert Boothby is real and the Kray twins are real, then why not Charles Holborne?  It is this multi-dimensioned character of Charles Holborne that brings the book to life; the man who constantly disappoints his mother, who is both looked down upon and envied by his peers, and the man who, like Harry Potter, doesn't go looking for trouble but trouble usually finds him.

You may have noticed that I haven't said a great deal about the plot...on purpose!  I am sure that you will be as shocked, surprised and amazed as I was by the perfectly crafted plot that Simon Michael has created for us.  As a real life barrister, of the legal kind as opposed to the caffeine based beverage (yes, I know it's a barista), nobody brings a court case to life with his words better than Simon Michael.  It took a while for Corrupted to get into court, which is always my favourite part, but once it does I could have stood up and applauded, if I wasn't too busy reading.  I don't know how he does it, but Simon Michael makes you feel as if you are actually in the courtroom.  

Corrupted, the dark and gritty latest instalment in the Charles Holborne series, deserves every single one of the five stars I didn't hesitate in awarding it.  The writing is so vivid and visceral that I can't believe it hasn't been picked up for small screen; as brilliant as it is on paper, I think it would be positively breathtaking on screen.  This whole series is the pinnacle of crime thriller writing and I am confident that nothing will ever knock it off its pedestal.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

During Simon Michael's years of practice at the Bar he has prosecuted and defended
enough murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy to provide him with a lifetime of true crime stories. The Charles Holborne thriller series is set in the dangerous gangland streets of 1960s London. Simon currently lives in London.

Social Media links:
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Saturday 23 June 2018

BLOG TOUR: This I Would Kill For - Anne Buist

Natalie King has been hired to do a psychiatric evaluation for the children’s court. A custody dispute. Not her usual territory. A distraught mother Jenna needs help maintaining custody of her children, claiming her former partner Malik has been abusing one of the children. He claims she’s crazy and compulsive. 
But what if all the claims are true, or none? And how does she work out where her concerns for the child slide into her growing obsession with her own lost father? With all the public interest, social media trolling and intense media speculation, Natalie finds herself struggling to view the case impartially.
More urgently: with both parents saying they’re desperate to keep their daughter safe—what if one of them is desperate enough to kill?
Against the backdrop of the Royal Commission into Child Abuse, Anne Buist brings us the third instalment in the Natalie King series. Buist takes a routine psychiatric evaluation and develops it into an insightful look into the intricacies and agendas within custody battles. Dealing with the continuing themes of mental illness and family dynamics, this crime thriller is not one to miss.

What did I think?

This I Would Kill For is a relatively quick read as the story runs along at a surprisingly fast pace and I found myself jumping to my own conclusions.  I was actually surprised to find that this is number 3 in a series, as it most definitely reads very well as a standalone; I certainly didn't experience any detrimental effect from not having read the earlier two books.  In fact I felt intrigued enough by the main character of Natalie King to want to read the previous books, so that's always a good sign when a reader jumps in mid-series.

Dr Natalie King is called in as an expert witness in a custody case.  Jenna and Malik are fighting over custody of their children but that isn't the whole story: 3 year old Chris is Malik's son with Jenna but 8 year old Chelsea is not his biological daughter and Jenna is accusing Malik of abusing Chelsea.  Natalie must find out whether there is any truth to the accusation and then decide where the children will be safe.  As Natalie spends time with the family, she uncovers one secret after another and her decision on the children's safety is not one to be made lightly.  Is Malik guilty of abusing Chelsea?  Why would Jenna lie about such a terrible thing?  Natalie King will find out!

You can tell that Anne Buist knows the field of psychiatry inside out as we are given a glimpse behind the closed door of the consulting room.  I loved reading about the way that Dr King manages to coax information out of her patient and I found the thought processes behind her observations fascinating.  As much as the science is based on fact, there is a very good story playing out; one which is very true to life and unfortunately happens all too often in real life.

I really enjoyed This I Would Kill For and, as much as I guessed some of the plot, I found my virtual visit to the psychiatrist's chair absolutely fascinating.  I have already decided that I want to read the earlier books to find out more about Natalie King's character as Natalie is struggling with her own psychological demons.  I think Natalie is a really strong, fresh and funky character and I look forward to reading more about her.

Anne Buist shows us a contemporary and modern side to psychiatry in this page turner of a psychological thriller.  Anne Buist's excellent writing vividly paints the scenes and her vast knowledge explains all the reader needs to know in order to follow the case, making this both an interesting and a thrilling read. 

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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Friday 22 June 2018

BLOG TOUR: Just - Jenny Morton Potts

It only feels like five minutes ago that I read and enjoyed Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts so I was very eager to read her new book, Just.  I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour by releasing my review today and there are 5 e-books of Just up for grabs so don't miss the fabulous giveaway at the end of this post.

How far would you go to save a life?

On golden Mediterranean sands, maverick doctor Scott Langbrook falls recklessly in love with his team leader, Fiyori Maziq. If only that was the extent of his falling, but Scott descends into the hellish clutches of someone much more sinister.

‘Just’ is a story of love and loss, of terror and triumph. Set in idyllic Cambridge and on the shores of the Med and Cornwall, our characters fight for their very lives on land and at sea. 

An unforgettable novel which goes to the heart of our catastrophic times, and seeks salvation.

What did I think?

I've only recently discovered Jenny Morton Potts' books and I'm still absolutely flabbergasted at the outstanding quality of writing that was displayed in Hiding.  This quality naturally continues in Just but, whereas Hiding is very much a psychological thriller, this book is more of a bone-chilling thriller.  Not in the gorey and gruesome horror sense, but more that you could totally imagine it happening in real life.  

Luci's son, Scottie, is a volunteer medic for the Reach charity which aims to identify the remains of bodies that wash up on the shores of the Mediterranean.  It's so sad and too often in the news about these poor people who leave their homeland searching for a better and safer life, having no idea that they are stepping onto boats that will never reach their destination.  Scottie's boss is the mysterious Dr Fiyori Maziq who Scottie ends up falling for.  At first I thought Fiyori was the obligatory love interest but I couldn't have been more wrong!

Luci doesn't even notice that her business partner, Finlay, has feelings for her as she is still so very bitter about the break up of her marriage.  Luci point blank refuses to even name the new Mrs Langbrook never mind see a photo of her or, heaven forbid, meet her.  Luci might not be able to put this off for much longer when she receives the news that her ex-husband has been killed when his car hit an elephant in Botswana.  Obviously, Scottie gets his sense of adventure from his father but just how adventurous is he and how far is he willing to go to protect his family?  

Without going into any details and giving the plot away, I felt as if a game of chess was being played out and the characters were carefully manipulated into place against their knowledge.  That really scares the bejeezus out of me; trust is something we give quite easily but it is also very difficult to get back once it is lost.  Unless you have the ability to read minds, you will never know what another person is thinking and whether they are being honest or manipulative.

I admit to being a bit confused at the beginning of Just as the story jumped from Luci and Finlay in Cornwall to Scottie and Fiyori in the Mediterranean, but I know that Jenny Morton Potts is a hugely talented writer so I just went with the flow, confident that the mist would lift and it would all become clear.  Indeed it does, but there is no sun waiting to come out as this frighteningly true to life story chills you to the bone.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:
Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer, and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realized she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gĂ®tes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with the family. She tries not to take herself too seriously.

Social Media Links 

Win  5 x e-copies of Just by Jenny Morton Potts (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide 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 I reserve 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 passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Thursday 21 June 2018

Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey - Jennifer C. Wilson

I always love taking part in Brook Cottage Books tours, not only because they have great books, but there are always some extra little treats for visitors to the various blogs on the tour.  I have only recently discovered Jennifer C. Wilson's brilliant Kindred Spirits series so I couldn't wait to read Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey, book 3 in the series.

For my spot on the tour, I have an extract from Chapter 1, my review and a giveaway to win an e-copy of book 1, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London.  I absolutely loved Kindred Spirits: Tower of London and you can read my review here so make sure you enter the giveaway at the end of this post - good luck!

Extract - Chapter 1

Queen Elizabeth I of England was sulking. And not quietly, as the rest of the Abbey’s residents would have preferred. Despite her advancing years, she could still flounce in style, and was keen to ensure everyone knew what was annoying her this time.

“It’s so boring here!” she exclaimed, dropping gracelessly into one of the choir stalls. “Nothing ever happens.”

“She’s been to the Tower again,” whispered Catherine Knollys to her brother, but not quite quietly enough, as the queen’s friends and cousins wandered over to see what specifically had been troubling her this time.

“Yes, yes, I have. At least things happen there.”

“Our Uncle George still as entertaining as ever then?” Henry Carey tried to divert his cousin’s attention, but only made it worse.

“Naturally. He was haunting the barrel of Malmsey with Clarence, and it was hilarious, as usual. Scaring people out of their skins. That’s what we ghosts should be doing, not just loitering about discussing experiments.” She glared at where Charles Darwin and Robert Stephenson were once again in deep conversation, sitting out of the way of the early tourists starting to make their way through the great church. Without a word, Darwin glared at her, then shifted in his seat turning his back against her, much to Elizabeth’s disgust.

“We do plenty of haunting, Cousin. It’s just that, well, you know the Abbey’s never really lent itself to that.”

“No, Catherine – everyone has simply become too old and too dull over the centuries. And too weak to stand up to my wretched great-grandmother. It’s all her fault.”

Catherine and Henry shot nervous glances at each other. When Elizabeth was in one of these moods, little could be done to stop her. Even her beloved Dudley had retreated back to Warwick after witnessing one of her angrier days. Before either could speak again, their cousin had moved on, stomping through the Abbey until she found the memorial to William Pulteney, the Earl of Bath.

As though knowing what was expected, the book in the centre of the statue flicked pages in silence. It wasn’t good enough.

“See? See that? A page of a statue’s book turning. Over three thousand of us in here, seventeen monarchs, no less, as the guidebooks tell us, and that’s the best we can come up with?” Queen Elizabeth spun on her heel, turning back to the siblings. “At the Tower they have my mother removing her severed head, with my step-mother and my aunt alongside her. They have a young, robust King, leading the way forward. They have wailings and chain-rattlings and, well, everything. We have a statue, turning its page.”

By now, a crowd had grown around the Queen, noting, not for the first time, how similar she was to her great-grandmother when her temper really took hold. Fiery Tudor blood indeed.

“We’ve talked about this, Elizabeth.” The chattering and ranting was broken by the only voice which ever had any control over the wayward Queen.

“Now she’s in trouble,” Mary-Eleanor smirked to her companion, only to receive a regal nudge in the ribs from Anne of Cleves.

Edward the Confessor moved slowly through the group, not troubling himself with meeting anyone’s eyes, but knowing they would move for him. They always did.

“We do not waste our time with such infantile behaviour here, Elizabeth, as well you know. We have held meetings.”

“Then we should hold more,” Elizabeth protested. “Otherwise, what is the point of us being ghosts?”

“Spirits,” the Confessor corrected her. “We use ‘spirits’ here. I don’t like ‘ghosts’.”

“Either way, we should be haunting. Surely even just a couple of calm visitations. You’ve never had a problem with Father Benedictus.”

“The good Father has his reasons for still being here. And he does the people he talks to no harm whatsoever. The souls of the Tower are troubled; they know no better than to disturb the peace of the living. Those of us here, we are not of the same ilk.” He glanced at Mary-Eleanor, knowing that of all those present, she would be the second most likely to argue with him. But instead she lowered her head in a slow, graceful nod, not uttering a word.

“I trust this matter is dealt with.” The Confessor ended the conversation and headed back to his shrine.

My Review

Series: Kindred Spirits
Genre: Paranormal Historical Fiction
Release Date:8th June 2018
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
On hallowed ground…
With over three thousand burials and memorials, including seventeen monarchs, life for the ghostly community of Westminster Abbey was never going to be a quiet one. Add in some fiery Tudor tempers, and several centuries-old feuds, and things can only go one way: chaotic.
Against the backdrop of England’s most important church, though, it isn't all tempers and tantrums. Poets' Corner hosts poetry battles and writing workshops, and close friendships form across the ages.
With the arrival of Mary Queen of Scots, however, battle ensues. Will Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I ever find their common ground, and lasting peace?
The bestselling Kindred Spirits series continues within the ancient walls of Westminster Abbey.

What did I think?

I came across Jennifer C. Wilson's 'historical fiction with a difference' series thanks to the North East Authors and Readers group on Facebook.  I am passionate about supporting local authors and Jennifer's books really appealed to me as a history lover who loves something that little bit different.  The Kindred Spirits series definitely fits that bill: it's history but not as we know it.

In Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey you can read about your favourite people from history as you've never seen them before.  Jennifer C. Wilson's passion for history, especially Plantagenet history, is very apparent as she effortlessly brings the past into the present.  Jennifer C. Wilson breaks the mould that many historical fiction writers fit into; she doesn't just regurgitate our favourite stories from history but rather breathes new life into our favourite historical characters.  You just need to take a look at the handy cast list provided in the back of the book to see the impossible made possible as people from different eras become friends and acquaintances in the spectral world: who could ever imagine 16th century Queen Anne of Cleves and 15th century Queen Anne Neville gossiping together like lifelong friends or a poetry competition with Chaucer, Dickens, Kipling and Tennyson?  This is all made possible thanks to the amazing imagination of Jennifer C. Wilson.

I loved learning more about the characters as they glide around Westminster Abbey with little bits of information from their past sprinkled throughout the prose like an Easter egg hunt.  Even if you don't know anything about history, you will learn things you didn't know before in a fun and almost subliminal way.  I know Henry VIII's least favourite wife was Anne of Cleves as he married her based on a less than accurate painting, but I didn't know that he allegedly then named her the 'Flanders Mare'.  So how does Jennifer C. Wilson tell us this little historical nugget?  By having Anne of Cleves sneaking on to the computer in the abbey's office to take out the reference to 'Flanders Mare' on her Wikipedia page.  Brilliant!

There are loads of hidden historical gems in Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey and I have probably missed so many of them by reading it so fast, so that's as good an excuse as any to read it again.  Well I have two copies after all; after receiving an advance e-copy, I also bought a finished paperback to read at my leisure.

So if you're looking for something different and you're tired of reading the same old historical fiction stories, you must pick up a copy of Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey and let Jennifer C. Wilson bring the past to life right in front of your eyes.

My rating:

Buy Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Or buy all three books in the series from:
Amazon UK

About the author:

Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating. 

Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books. In October 2017, she celebrated Richard III’s birthday by releasing her first timeslip novella, The Last Plantagenet.



Win an ecopy of book 1 in the series – Kindred Spirits Tower of London.