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 both eh 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.




 

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Book Review: The Little House in Heaven by Kathleen Watson






I bring you another children's book, today, my Bookaholic friends. This one is for children of eight years old and is very firmly aimed at the Christian Market.


Book Description

What is in the secret place up the attic staircase? When eight year old Melissa goes exploring, she finds herself stepping into the pages of a book of Bible stories. At the House on the Rock she meets Jesus, who takes Melissa to her very own little house. This ‘little house in Heaven’ grows bigger and becomes furnished with ‘treasures in Heaven’ as Melissa walks in the Christian life here on Earth. Then she meets Rufus, the boy next door, who leads her into mischief and danger…

But Jesus is with her all the way, and she learns valuable lessons of trust and obediance in her trails. These profound truths are gently woven into the story as Melissa enjoys times of fellowship with Jesus in her little house in Heaven.

Eventually Melissa has to grow up and learn to walk by faith and the ‘treasure’ she lays up in Heaven becomes a glorious reward in the end.


Review

As I say in my introduction this is a book aimed squarely at the Christian market as it helps to explore the Christian faith with children. It is well written and the storyline is strong, following through in a way which makes it easy for children to follow. The main character, a lovely little girl called Melissa, is realistic and engaging. She learns about faith and prayer and these themes are explored through the eyes of a child which can be a refreshing change. The language used, on the whole, is suitable for the intended age group, although I did think that the use of The King James Bible may be over some of the children's heads. It does allow for parents to explore the different bibles with their children and also why there are different bibles. At times Melissa spends time in Heaven with Jesus, again allowing an opportunity for parents to discuss Jesus and faith with their child. I like the way the House in Heaven develops as the book progresses, a lovely theme that runs through the book and links to the title. I thought the ending was a nice surprise. 

Further Reviews

This book, aimed at young readers of 8 years or more, has a simple Christian message embedded within an imaginative story that is written with just the right balance between scene setting, dealing with thoughts and feelings, and furthering the plot. It is a long time since I was 8 years old, but I have enjoyed reading it – Evelyn Wendon Author


One of the best books I have read, feel good and thought provoking, creates pictures of heaven – Aylson Smith

Buy the Book

Little House in Heaven can be bought from Ebay  - £5 for the Book plus £1 for Postage


Or from Kathleen on this number 01903 725820

Little House in Heaven Facebook Page

That's it for another day Bookaholics. I am going to start posting more Author posts as well. See you soon and until then, keep reading and keep writing. 

Friday, 3 December 2021

A Shetland Winter Mystery

 


It's the dark nights in the run up to Christmas, and sailing sleuth Cass Lynch's first night on dry land is disturbed by strange noises outside her isolated cottage. Tiny footprints in the moonlit snow trail from her front door before mysteriously disappearing. Soon Cass learns others were visited by the same tiny feet in the night.

It looks like ingenious local teenagers playing tricks - but what happens when festive games turn deadly?

Cass soon finds out as a schoolboy disappears, leaving only a trail of footprints into the middle of a snowy field. She's determined to investigate, but uncovering the truth will also put her in danger . . .
You know a book is going to be good when the first line draws you in and makes your ant to keep reading. Fortunately, every other line lived up to the promise of the first and I really did want to keep reading. At first the book seems to be a Norse/Shetland myth but it soon emerged that something far more sinister was at work in the background. In this book Cass is on dry land rather than at sea, although the nautical allusions are still there and boats are not entirely omitted. Sailing fans should not panic. There is a real Scottish flavour with Shetland dialect sprinkled throughout but these are explained well within the text without pulling the reader out of the story.

Review

One of the real strengths of this book is the setting. Shetland is portrayed in all it's wondrous, wintry beauty. The descriptions allowed me to picture it perfectly. I have always wanted to go to Shetland and this has made my desire to do so even stronger. The author has a real flair for words and uses each word to good effect to place the reader directly on the islands. 

Cass is a great character but at first I was unsure of her foray on to dry land. I should not have worried as this added a whole new exciting dimension to the storyline. All of the characters are well drawn and I found myself relating to them on many levels. As a former teacher, Taylor has a real understanding of teenagers and children and this came across in her portrayal of the younger characters. 

The story itself is excellent. This is a slow burn book rather than an on the edge of your seat tale, but I think the tension is all the better for it. I genuinely loved this book and can highly recommend it. 



Author Biography 

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland’s scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland’s distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.


Saturday, 27 November 2021

Book Review: Snowflake's Big Adventure

 


As a children's picture book writer I love picture books, so jumped at the chance to review this one. I am so glad I did as it is beautiful. The story is simple but would be loved by any child; little snowflake is a delight and I found myself right there beside him. The illustrations are beautiful and bring the story to life; again snowflake is delightful. The colours are magnificent and the illustrator has them spot on. 

This is a book which would make a fabulous Christmas gift. It opens up endless possibilities to discuss snow with children and what can be done when it is snowing. It is the type of book to be read when curled up with hot cocoa on a winter's night.

Congratulations to the author, Erin Mackey, for a book which is sure to be a perennial favourite.


You can find out more about Erin via 




Twitter @ErinMackeyBooks

Instagram @ErinMackeyAuthor

You can buy the book from the authors website or via Amazon


Thank you to Reading Between the Lines Book Tours for providing a copy of this book for review purposes. At no point was I asked to provide a positive review and my review is based on my enjoyment of the book. 



Monday, 11 October 2021

The Trials of Isabella M Smugge: #IssySmuggeisback

 

#PerfectlyArrangedforEffect

Good morning Bookaholics, well, the day I have been waiting for has arrived. Everyone's favourite lifestyle blogger, #influencer and #hashtagqueen is back in her second book, The Trials of Isabella M. Smugge. When it comes to follow up books one is always worried that the book will not measure up. So, I approached this book with a great deal of excitement and some measure of trepidation - would this second book live up to the brilliance of the first?

Let me reassure you my fears were groundless. I enjoyed every well-crafted word as much as I enjoyed the first book. I can safely say Issy's return is a triumph for her author, Ruth Leigh. In this book Isabella is pregnant and her husband has ditched her and run off with the au pair. Quite frankly, Issy is in a pickle, having to manage household and kids singlehandedly, for the first time in her life. How on earth would she cope and would this have an impact on her perfect lifestyle image? These questions kept me engaged, enthralled, and entertained throughout the whole book. I loved Issy in the first book but in this one she seems somehow more relatable. I loved seeing her progression and the way she handled every 'trial' that was thrown at her. Her growth was a delight and we get to see the softer side of her. I also loved seeing the way her friendships develop and grow and she relates to people much more fully. 

The ending left me on a cliff edge yet again. Ruth Leigh is a gifted writer and this shows in the way she teases and tantalises the reader, drawing them in and keeping them reading. Throughout the book I genuinely wanted to know what would happen next. I loved the book, I loved the ending, and I can't wait for the next one. I would like to recommend this book to the gallery. It is outstanding; what more can I say.

If you would like to buy a copy you can do so through the links below. 

Thank you, Bookaholics, for joining me for another review. Watch this space and I will be back soon with another post. Until then, keep reading and keep writing.