Friday, 29 July 2022

The Wanderer Scorned - Christian Fiction by Natasha Woodcraft


Good afternoon, Bookaholics, have I got a treat for you. Today, I bring you a review of The Wanderer Scorned a cracking Christian fiction novel from the pen, or keyboard, of the highly talented Natasha Woodcraft. 

Description

The Wanderer is a man shrouded in legend. Moving from place to place in the land of Nod, he is known primarily for the curse that hangs over his life. When that curse is invoked during the celebration of a murderous rampage, The Wanderer is summoned to tell his story.

Few know the truth of the tale encompassing life, death, love, hate, faith and doubt, for it has been obscured by centuries of rumour. Now, it will be told by the one who lived it—the man who became The Wanderer.

A story you know as you've never heard it before, The Wanderer Series presents the ancient tale of Cain and Abel from Genesis 4, reimagined in gripping new fiction.


 Review

As it says above, The Wanderer is  a reimagining of the story of Cain and Abel from the book of Genesis in the Bible. What a reimagining it is. Beautifully written, Woodcraft brings the story to life using every carefully crafted word to its best possible advantage. I thought I knew the story of Cain and Abel but this brings it vividly to life, highlighting the thoughts and feelings of all involved. There is real emotion in the book and it was as if I could feel every heartbeat, thought and feeling of the characters. The characters are expertly drawn and come alive in your mind. I found myself loving them and hating them at various points of the narrative. Whichever way I fell, I found myself thinking I was in the presence of real people. The setting too is beautifully written and I could imagine a land so different to my own in many ways. I have lived in the Middle East, so my mind may have drawn on that experience to fill the setting in, but I do feel the way it is written the reader feels they are there. 

The portrayal of the Old Testament God and the characters' relationships with him are brilliantly done. While this is a bible based book it does not have a biblical feel to it, so the book could be read by anyone. The main characters' faith is real and this shines through without overwhelming. Although aimed at the Christian reader I believe this could be enjoyed equally by Non-Christians. 

The book is available from bookshops or via the Amazon links below. Please note these are affiliate links and I will receive a few pence from Amazon if you buy via the link. 

  

I was given an advanced copy of the book from the publisher in return for an honest review. The review is my honest review based on my reading and enjoyment of the book. At no point was I asked to provide a positive review.


That's it for another week, Bookaholics. See you soon. Until then, keep reading and keep writing. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

The Pilgrim by Joy Margetts


Good morning, Bookaholics. Today I bring you a review of a cracking historical fiction book - The Pilgrim by Joy Margetts. This is one you won't want to miss. 

Description

Driven by ambition and family expectation, young Henry de Brampton is determined to make his mark. Destined for a prestigious career in the Church, he readily embraces the chance to experience the world before taking his vows. But fuelled by selfish desire, he recklessly betrays those he loves, with devastating consequences.

Overwhelmed with guilt, he seeks redemption among the Cistercians of Abbey Cwmhir and finds a new identity as Brother Hywel. Yet a further thoughtless betrayal will prove he cannot escape himself, and he is forced on pilgrimage to save his vocation.

A reluctant pilgrim, can the unlikely company help him discover what it truly means to be great in God’s eyes, and will Hywel ever be willing not just to receive forgiveness but also to forgive himself?


Review

I am honoured to be opening the blog tour for Joy Margetts latest book and what an amazing book it is. It is firmly rooted in the past whilst being accessible to the modern day reader. The writing is exquisite, allowing the author to establish a real sense of time and place. The character of Hywel is extremely well drawn and I felt I was right there beside him on his pilgrimage. Each carefully chosen word drew me deeper into the story, allowing me to savour a different type of spirituality from the safety of my armchair. The spiritual pilgrimage is equally well handled and I was rooting for Hywel every step of the way. It helped me to draw closer to God through the simplicity of the spirituality during a time when things were both harder and easier. All kudos to Margetts, this book is a triumph and I can highly recommend. 

You can get the book from any Christian bookshop or from Amazon 



About the Author

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God's redemptive power. Her debut novel 'The Healing' was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, 'The Beloved' as both a companion to 'The Healing', and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle. 'The Pilgrim', her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

People can find me via my website at www.joymargetts.com

On FB as Joy Margetts Author, on Instagram as @joymargetts, and on Twitter as @jamarge



If you would like to know more about the tour and see what other bloggers think of it, the details are below. Have a great week Bookaholics. Keep reading and writing. 




Monday, 4 July 2022

Historical Research Using Libraries

 


I've recently been doing a lot of research for the historical fiction and non-fiction books I am writing which resulted in me spending two days in the Rare Manuscripts Reading Room at the National Library of Scotland. Now, one might think that libraries in general and rare manuscripts in particular might be frightfully dull. Nothing could be further from the truth. This was the view from my seat - not only was a I reading abut historic Edinburgh but I was seeing it. Seeing things from above gives you a whole new perspective on what they are like. I would like to think my main character had the self same view but sadly not. The library was started in 1925 and completed in 1956 but they still managed to make it look historic and in keeping with its surroundings. Anyway I digress.

What exactly was I reading and researching? The answer, Edinburgh and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (as it had been known since 1801) from 1834-1838. Therefore, I was interested in newspapers, magazines and pamphlets from that period. The process was simple as outlined below.

Firstly, as I am a member of NLS, I searched their online database for periodicals from the period. I also researched  the year before and the  year after as I was trying to get a sense of the times in which my main character lived. This included political, social, medical provision, housing, economic, and anything else I could think of that might shape the way he lived and what he believed. 
When I arrived at the library my documents were waiting for me and I had to sit at a desk which had a foam book rest and a weighted cord to hold the pages open. 




The first magazine I looked at was The People's True Friend. The first ever edition was printed in Edinburgh on 31st December, 1834. A shiver went down my spine knowing that my main character, who was actually a real person, may have read this whilst he went to medical school in Edinburgh. Imagine if he had held this very newspaper. This gave me a real sense of connection to him bringing him closer and I could see him more clearly in my mind. The first ever article was crammed full of information about the turmoil in the government of the time. I got a clear picture of the political and social situation of the time. However, I was surprised that, despite this being an Edinburgh publication, it focussed on what was happening in London with no mention of how this impacted on Scotland. However, I can make assumptions based on what was reported. 


My next manuscript was Johnstone's Edinburgh Magazine for January 1834 and an article entitled London Thieves and London Misery. Again, I was surprised by the London Focus of the lead article. Did this demonstrate the importance of London during that time? It certainly made me think and look to exploring this further. This was an impassioned article on the poor of London and how the prisons were full of those who were unfortunate and merely stealing to survive. There was a plea for compassion and a change in social thinking which could reduce the numbers of prisoners. Social reform was obviously needed and at the forefront of people's minds. Again, it got me thinking about what the situation in Edinburgh might be. 

The two periodicals had many things in common such as stories, poems, recipes and songs, as well as news from home and abroad. The people of Edinburgh seemed to be well read and interested in a variety of issues and stories, reflective I feel of the emphasis on education and reading in Scotland. 

I did read other magazines and pamphlets but the length of this blog prevents me going into more detail. If you are writing historical fiction I would urge you to visit the national library in your country and look at some rare manuscripts. You will learn a lot more than you think. 

About the Author

Wendy H. Jones is an award-winning, international best-selling author who writes adult crime books, young adult mysteries, children's picture books and non-fiction books for writers. She is also a writing and marketing coach, runs the Writing Matters Online School and is the CEO of Authorpreneur Accelerator Academy, The president of the Scottish Association of Writers and hosts The Writing and Marketing Show podcast. She is currently writing a series of historical fiction novels based around the life of a 19th Century Surgeon in the Royal Navy. She is represented by Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary Agency.


Website

Amazon Author Page






Saturday, 28 May 2022

Book Review: The Magnificent Moustache and Other Stories

 


Good morning Bookaholics, I trust you are well and ready to have a fantastic day. I know I am. Today I bring you a review of a book which I think everyone would enjoy, whatever their age.

From the absolutely magnificent cover to every magnificent word, this book is a triumph. I've never posted a picture of the entire cover before, but I believe this book deserves it. Kudos to the publishers and the designer. 


Turn the pages and you soon find that the stories inside more than live up to the promises of the cover. The language used is delightful and the stories engrossing. The back blurb says that you can read the stories in one short sitting. I found myself saying I'll just read one more and before I knew where I was, I had read the entire book. My intention was to tell you about my favourite story but I am failing miserably as I loved every last one of them. I also loved the way in which I thought the story was going and then there was a twist at the end. The characters are over the top in an endearing way and are absolutely delightful. The stories themselves pulled me in to some very different worlds and made me laugh out loud. 

This book is a masterpiece of how the short story should be written and how words should be used to entertain. I cannot recommend it enough. It would make a fabulous present or even gift to yourself. 

The book will be available to buy in the next couple of weeks. 
Available as an e-book or as a paperback.
Purchase on Amazon or order at all good bookshops.



You can follow the author on

Facebook: Jenny Sanders - writer

Instagram: @jennysanderswriter

Blog: Dancing Through Chaos


That's it for another week Bookaholics. See you soon and, until then, keep reading and writing.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Book Review: Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire by SC Skillman

 



Good evening, Bookaholics, have I got a book for you. Now, you are probably wondering, Wendy, you're from Scotland, why on earth a book about Warwickshire. The answer - - this book is truly brilliant. 

Blurb

Warwickshire, often known as Shakespeare’s County, has a host of strange and mysterious tales ranging from ancient legends and stories of the supernatural to more modern documented cases. Curious beliefs and customs were once widespread in Warwickshire’s towns and villages, some of which still flourish today. These strange and spooky stories include the quirky death of the Roundhead commander who owned Warwick Castle, the association of the great author J. R. R. Tolkien with the town, and the story of the hand of glory obtained at Warwick hangings. The historic buildings of Stratford-upon-Avon have witnessed many strange events over the centuries and more recently the Crackley Wood sprite has been sighted at Kenilworth. Other stories include the Wroth Silver at Knightlow Cross, an 800-year‑old violent ball game played annually at Atherstone on Shrove Tuesday, and the unresolved mystery of the 1945 murder at Lower Quinton associated with witchcraft, along with other strange tales from the surrounding towns and villages. These stories are accompanied by the author’s photographs in this hugely entertaining book.

Review

I love, in fact adore, visiting new places and learning new things. If it's combined with a place associated with Shakespeare it ticks all my boxes. This book is jam packed with fascinating information about different places in Warwickshire. The county, both historical and contemporary, is skilfully brought to life in both prose and pictures. The photographs which support the stories were taken by either SC Skillman herself or by members of her family. Highly professional, they are the perfect accompaniment to bring the horse to life. Or is it the prose which brings the pictures to life. I believe both are true. 

The book is split into sections - from Strange and Spooky Tales to And Then The Whining Schoolboy: Lewis Carol at Rugby School, via myths, legends, witchcraft, and so much more the stories leap off the page and into your heart and psyche. The author, a skilled writer, brings the county to life and the stories are delightful.


Of course, no book about and English County is complete without Morris Dancers. I loved the colourful images for this story, as well as the colourful description which described Morris Dancing to a T. 

There is something for everyone in this book whether you are visiting Warwickshire or not. If you are visiting, or live anywhere nearby, I would say it is a must read. 

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in return for an honest review. At no point was I asked to write a positive review and my review is based on my reading of the book. 

My next blog will come to you from Antigua in the Caribbean where I'm off to do a research trip. Yes. research. See you soon Bookaholics and until then keep reading and writing. 

You can buy the book from all bishops or via the author's website. 

Bio

Sheila lives in Warwickshire, and writes psychological, paranormal and mystery fiction and non-fiction. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Association of Christian Writers.

Her two non-fiction books Paranormal Warwickshire and Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire are both published by Amberley and she is now writing a third book in her Warwickshire series, A-Z of Warwick.

Her new novel, Director's Cut, is out with publishers and she is also working on Standing Ovation, the sequel.



She began her publishing career with the duology Mystical Circles and A Passionate Spirit which are both set in the same mysterious English manor house in the heart of England - the beautiful Cotswolds hills. There, gothic themes, paranormal events and ghostly tales are never far away. She has set the books in contemporary times, not far from her present home.

She has also written Perilous Path, A Writer's Journey: a self help book for those writing a novel, or who would like to write a novel. Packed full of tips and friendly reminders, it's encouraging and motivational. It's also for anyone who loves finding out about writers, their lives and works.

Sheila was born and brought up in Orpington, Kent, and has loved writing stories most of her life. She studied English Literature at Lancaster University, and her first permanent job was as a production secretary with the BBC. Later she lived for nearly five years in Australia before returning to the UK. She has now settled in Warwick with her husband and son, and her daughter currently lives and works in Australia.

Monday, 18 April 2022

Book Review: Burrowed by Maressa Mortimer

 





Good evening, Bookaholics, have I got a cracking book for you today. I am honoured to be kicking off the blog tour for Maressa Mortimer's, Burrowed.  Before I tell you about it you first need to read the blurb.


BLURB

The beautiful island of Ximiu has a plan for a more sustainable future. But not everyone living on the island is on board. Jasira, daughter of the governing matriarch, is determined to uncover the dark forces threatening her home. With the help of her friends she embark on a desperate bid to save her island community. When the price is higher than she had bargained for, will Jasira still find faith and beauty in the world around her?

REVIEW

This is not the usual type of book I read but I have to tell you I absolutely loved it. What a brilliant book. Although set in an alternate reality I could picture the setting perfectly and felt as if I was there. The characters are extremely well drawn with individual personalities. I loved the different traits they displayed and the ways in which the teenagers from two totally different communities pulled together. The plotting is clever and the book deals with some emotional themes. I don't mind admitting I cried - on elf the themes being grief. There is mystery as well as fantasy and this worked extremely well. 

This is a well plotted book which is unusual and yet highly entertaining. From the gorgeous cover to the last line, it pulls you in and keeps you reading. Mortimer is a gifted writer and this shows with every well placed word. 

I was given an ARC by the publisher in order for an honest review. At no time was I asked to write a positive review and my review is an honest one based on my reading and enjoyment of the book. 

So, my Bookaholic friends. I would advise you to buy this book and read it immediately. Seriously, you will not regret it. 





AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Maressa grew up in the Netherlands, and moved to England soon after finishing teaching training college. Married to Pastor Richard Mortimer they live in a Cotswold village with their four children. She is a homeschool mum, enjoying the time spent with family, travelling, reading and turning life into stories, she wants to use her stories to show practical Christian’s living in a fallen world.



If you would like to read any of the other blogs on this tour, the details are above. 


Thursday, 17 March 2022

The Wounds of Time by Sue Russell


Good morning, bookaholics. Today I bring you a cracking book from the pen of Sue Russell. This is one you'll want to read, let me tell you. 

Blurb

Here I was, banging on the door of a house I never wanted to enter again, transported back into the world of an adolescent seething with rage.

I'm strong, I told myself. I can cope. I never cry.

Janet is queen of her realm.

Senior Clerk at Hartington Chambers, she is at the pinnacle of a career achieved in the face of hardship. But when work and family crises collide, her life begins to unravel. As disaster threatens, will denying the past and relying on herself be enough to carry her through?

Review

This is a character driven book which means the characters have to be authentic, fascinating, and strong enough to carry the story.  Russell has hit the nail very squarely on the head on every single point. Whilst the characters themselves could be any family in the UK, Russell has written them so well they leap off the page and into your own life. You will find yourself rooting for them at every stage of the narrative. The characters are compelling, love them or hate them they are realistic and authentic. Janet, the main character has her own weaknesses but she is someone you want to succeed in every way. She pulls the story along, allowing the reader a glimpse into her life. I wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen in the end. This is not an edge of your seat page turner but it is, however, a book in which you can immerse yourself and enjoy with a cuppa and a biscuit. It would be the perfect holiday read. Would I like to read more about Janet and her family and friends? Yes, indeed I would, the sign of a good book. I would definitely recommend this book and this author and I will be reading more from her. 

That's it for another week Bookaholics. See you soon and remember, keep reading and keep writing.