Powder and Patch by Georgette Heyer Book Review

Author: Georgette Heyer

Genre: Regency romance / historical fiction

Rating: 5/5 star

Powder and Patch is my third Georgette Heyer book. I find her writing charming and fun but was apprehensive about the length and nature of this one. I hoped I would love it and found that I positively adored it. This particular story is set in Georgian England and Paris and centres on two English youngsters from the countryside as they each go off into society to gain polish and courtly ways. Much hilarity and upset ensues, of course! It was utterly delightful and I fell instantly in love with the MCs, especially Phillip.

Each and every character in this book is charming and lovable. Each well developed and interesting. The settings divine and the dialogue witty and hilarious. I’ve never so thoroughly enjoyed a book as I have this. With so short a book it is very difficult to discuss why I loved it so much without giving away a major plot point so I won’t even try to make this review a long one. Just trust that this book is marvellous and you need to read it immediately.

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Monthly TBR stacks from May onwards Squire!

My TBR this year has already hit critical levels. I’ve unhauled hundreds of books in a bid to make order and ease for 2018, but after removing all the read, not going to be read and read but won’t reread books I’ve been left with two bookcases full of books I need to read. I mean, SEVEN OVERFULL SHELVES worth of books. I mean 155 books, and that’s just the UNREAD ones. So I figured it was time to knuckle down and really work on getting down my mountainous TBR once and for all. I’m hoping to have it at >20 unread books by January 2019. Goals!

Now, I’ve always been a major mood reader and never ever been able to stick to a predetermined order or lists of what books to read because – sometimes I’m just not in the mood for that book once I get to it… but, after talking with some Littens about what they do and how they manage mount TBR, I’ve decided to give a monthly TBR stack a go and have a determination to stick at it! This starts now, from May 2018 and I intend to pick nine books a month for my TBR stack, they’ll come off the shelf and live elsewhere and I’ll diminish the pile and then add some on if I finish them before the month is out. Then repeat. It’s going to be fun I am telling myself. I’ll make it fun because reading is supposed to be fun, I’ll allow one rationed book haul a month as incentive.

*drumroll*

May’s TBR is:

  1. Despised and Rejected by Rose Allatini
  2. Powder and Patch by Georgette Heyer
  3. Queens of Georgian Britain by Catherine Curzon
  4. The Illumination Of Ursula Flight by Anna-Marie Crownhurst
  5. The Magpie Tree by Katherine Stansfield
  6. Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman
  7. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
  8. A Curious Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn
  9. A Baby’s Bones by Rebecca Alexander

A Baby’s Bones Blog Tour with Rebecca Alexander

As part of the blog tour for the exciting new title by Rebecca Alexander I am giving away THREE COPIES of her new release, A Baby’s Bones. This historical crime fiction is sure to entice you with it’s intriguing and mysterious plot. To be in with a chance to win please enter here: Click me!

Giveaway is open to U.K., IRE and USA only and closes May 6th 2018.

The House of Beaufort by Nathen Amin Book Review

Author: Nathen Amin

Genre: History / nonfiction

Rating: 3.5/5 star

I received this book from the publisher, Amberley Publishing, in exchange for an honest review. This in no way effects my opinion on the book.

The House Of Beaufort by Nathen Amin is an impressive book telling for the first time, the history of the Beaufort family. They’re a well known line – usually known for the infamous Margaret Beaufort and their links to the lives of The Plantagenet and Tudor kings. There has never before been a book dedicated to this line alone and if you ask me, it’s about time! And Amin doesn’t disappoint.

The book starts off by telling where the Beaufort line originally started, how the name Beaufort was chosen when their mother was Katherine Swynford and how they spread from there until we reach the most famous Beaufort – Margaret. I have to admit when I heard about this book I was expecting more information on Margaret Beaufort than the very little bit that is covered in the book. Though, other than that minor disappointment, the book on a whole is beyond interesting and full of information I had no prior knowledge of, so on a whole it has been a fun and fascinating read. I really enjoyed learning more about where the Beaufort line came from and certainly about their mother, Katherine. The way she was treated is horrific and heartbreaking but how she responded is inspiring and the book has certainly left me needing to read more about her.

As an history student and addict and medieval historian (in training!) I enjoy nothing more than feeding my knowledge with nonfiction history books about people, places and times of interest, sometimes there’s the odd book that is under researched or generally just bad but this is not one of them. The passion and research that has been put into this book is visible on every page. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest! A great read.

Tapestry of War by Jane MacKenzie Review and author interview

Author: Jane MacKenzie

Genre: Historical fiction

Rating: 5/5 stars

I received this book from the publisher, Allison and Busby, in exchange for an honest review. This in no way effects my opinion of the book.

Tapestry of War is a breakthrough story of love and friendship in WWII by Jane MacKenzie. The book is based on the real events that her family witnessed during the war but is still entirely a fiction. The story follows two female MCs, Fran and Catriona who though both from different backgrounds and separated by miles of ocean, are draw together through friendship and love. It is an entirely charming and utterly beautiful book.

The setting is diverse and interesting. Fran living in Alexandria, Egypt and working for a newspaper there whilst Catriona is a nurse living in rural Scotland. Both settings are described beautifully and it’s easy to envision yourself there alongside these remarkable characters. I felt a wonderful connection with Fran and Catriona as well as other characters in the book, for example Catriona’s brother Jim and the mysterious Duncan. Each and every character has so much depth and reality that it’s impossible not to connect in some way with them all. Even the most fleeting of background characters has an impacting background.

I truly haven’t enjoyed a book as much as I have this one for such a long time. I wanted to savour every moment but also I needed to know what would happen next and what was in store for my favourite characters. The book created questions in mind constantly and even when I wasn’t reading it was on my mind. I truly couldn’t recommend this one enough. It couldn’t be a more perfect story.

In addition to getting the chance to read this marvellous book early, I was also lucky enough to get to interview Jane MacKenzie herself! Please continue below to read her responses to the questions that burned in my mind after finishing this wonderful book!

Q1) The novel is inspired by your family and their experiences during WWII. Is there anyone in particular you based Fran and Catriona on?

During World War Two my parents-in-law met in Egypt, where he was serving as a naval officer, and she was a member of the privileged British community in Alexandria. Their story fascinated me. Imagine what it must have been like for a woman brought up in a glamorous world of servants and cocktails to give that up to move after the war to become a teacher’s wife in the Highlands of Scotland. The village she came to didn’t even have electricity at the time. By all accounts she was a wonderful woman and made a great life here despite the weather and the midges!

But I didn’t want to write her story. I wanted to write my own story. And this was made easier because I never met my parents-in-law, who died relatively young. So Fran is her own person, it’s just the world she moved in I wanted to capture, and the inevitable challenges facing a relationship between two people from such different backgrounds.

And Catriona? Well Catriona represents to me the best of Highland women, patient, enduring, with a fine mind and true community spirit. She isn’t any one person, but she is a true girl from Islay.

Q2) What was the inspiration for setting the novel in Alexandria and Islay in particular?

Alexandria was such an important strategic base during the war, in the battle for the Mediterranean. It has also been also a major trading centre throughout history, so was a melting pot of cultures, Arab, Jewish, Levantine, Greek, French, Italian, British. That makes such a rich setting for a novel. I have lived and worked for much of my life in the Arab world, and know Egypt and Alexandria, so the family links to the city fell in very well.

And in Scotland I wanted my people to be from the Highlands, to have that wonderful culture, and I loved the idea of making Catriona’s father a whisky distiller from Islay! Islay is such a beautiful island and has true heart. Who could resist it?

Q3) My grandparents were respectively a soldier and a nurse during WWII, I could see a glimpse of what that was like for them in the characters of Jim MacNeil and Catriona MacNeil. Was it your intention to make your characters reflective for readers?

I have a very reflective style of writing, I think. I love to write about ordinary people living through extraordinary times. It so often brings out something very special in them, and I’m sure this was true of your grandparents. It’s such a pleasure to explore characters and how it must have felt to be them, just then, at a time of so much upheaval and trial. And I love the fact that people retained so much humour, and the way they bonded together.

Q4) I have to ask, will we be seeing more of these characters in the future or is the book strictly standalone?

This is a stand-alone book. I’ve written a trilogy before, but this time I think the end of the war is the natural end of the story, and I’m happy to let my characters head into their futures without me. You can picture their futures, happy and settled, and that’s just how I want to leave them.

Q5) You can really see the research you’ve put into this novel. As a history undergraduate student I can really appreciate this. Is history something you enjoy usually?

I absolutely love history, especially the period of history we can almost touch, lived by our grandparents and even our parents. In the 20th century lives changed more than at any other time in history, and you don’t have to go far back to be in quite a different world. My mother always talked to me a lot about the war and about life when she was a child, and I found her stories fascinating. Since I started writing the war has crept more and more into my life, and I can honestly say that I am now quite an expert.

The challenge then is to write a book about people, and not to let the research you’ve taken so long over hijack your story. I hope that Tapestry of War is a really human story, and that what shines out of it is the love, hope and courage of all the people touched by the war.

A Baby’s Bones Blog Tour Competition

Click Here! For a chance to win one of three paperback copies of A Baby’s Bones by Rebecca Alexander. I have partnered up with Titan Books as part of the A Baby’s Bones blog tour to give away copies to three lucky people! The giveaway is live between 23rd April til 6th May when I will publicly announce the winners on my blog as well as via email!

This is an historical crime fiction set between present day and the 1800’s. It is a book I am looking forward to reading soon and hope it’s something that will grab your attention too! So if you’re a crime fan or a fan of historical fiction then this is a giveaway you wouldn’t want to miss! Good luck to everyone and may the odds be in your favour.

I Remember You teaser extract

Hello and welcome to my blog! I have the opportunity today to share with you a teaser extract from Elisabeth De Mariaffi ‘s new novel I Remember You, published by Titan Books. Please read on…

Heike came up through the garden and along the drive to the front steps, relieved to find everything normal, in its place. The rain had come and gone here with the same ardour, and she stopped, listening for a moment. There was a knocking at the back of the house. Repeated, but not patterned. She put down her armful of wet clothes and walked around to the yard. The back door to the garage swayed a few inches in the last of the rain and sank softly against its frame, then swayed out again.

This gave her an odd turn: she watched the heavy air drawing at it like breath, then reached out and shut the door. She found her housecoat where she’d left it that morning in the laundry room and stripped off her wet clothes and leaned over the wide sink to wring out her hair. She straightened, pulling her fingers through the damp curls a few times, and glanced up at the clock. She’d been gone almost two hours. There was no sound of playtime from either the white room or anywhere else in the house, and Heike padded up the stairs to see if Daniel was still sleeping.

The blinds were still down, and she opened them, one after the other, to let the afternoon light into the room. She turned, expecting to see him still asleep within a mess of blanket, but he wasn’t there.

— Daniel?

She said his name softly, not wanting to bother Eric if he was working or wake him if he was asleep. The closet was standing open, but she peered inside anyway, and then under the bed, in case he’d heard her come in and decided to play hide-and-seek. Heike called out to him again, louder this time. She shook out the blanket and folded it before leaving the room, patting it down as though to make sure he was not somehow stretched and tangled inside.

She went back down the stairs and walked a fast circuit, calling louder now, but no one answered. At Eric’s office she drew herself up and took a breath before knocking.

— Eric?

She eased the door open. There was a lowball glass on the desk with a trace of water at the bottom of it, and the window was open just enough for the breeze to make a flickering noise in the blinds. No one was in the room.

— Eric! Daniel!

Heike twisted in the doorway. The car was still in the garage; she’d seen it when she went around back to shut the door before coming into the house. She ran back upstairs, frantic now, everything lying still and neat, even the towels folded and resting on the counter at the edge of the bathroom sink.

— Dani!

She grabbed the handle to her own bedroom door to push through, but her shoulder slammed against it instead. Locked. The knob rattled in her hand.

— Dani! Are you in there?

The handle refused to turn properly. It was not a room they ever locked, although there was a copper key, missing now, that normally sat in the latch on the outside of the door. A decorative feature. Heike got down on her knees and called through the keyhole.

— Dani, are you in there? Are you in Mami’s room?

She cranked at the knob again, pushing hard against the door. The action felt no different from the way she’d hacked at the reeds with her paddle to free herself, and she again felt trapped by the dark water, the current pulling her in.

The room was dropping out; her vision crowded with tiny pinpricks of light. The back of her hand touched her cheek, and she realized she was in tears. She lay the hand on the doorknob again and pressed and this time it gave way, Eric pulling it open from the other side and now crouching to meet her, help her up, quizzical.

— Heike. Heike, whatever’s happened?

He reached out for one of her hands and the elbow of the same arm, lifting her properly to her feet and holding her there. Heike shook her head.

— Why didn’t you open the door? I was crying to get in.

Eric’s brow furrowed as though she were telling a story he couldn’t quite understand. Daniel was sitting up against her pillows on the bed. He had something, a toy of some kind,  but he looked up as soon as she came into the room.

— Mami! Mami’s home! He dropped his plaything and crawled forward along the bed. Heike rushed toward him and grabbed him up, then sat with him on the bed, with her lips in his hair, rocking.

— Why didn’t you answer me, Dani? Why didn’t you say something when you heard me calling?

Eric stepped closer, following her in.

— We played hide-and-seek with you, Daniel said.

— Yes, I see that, Heike said.

— Me and Daddy hided in here.

Heike looked at Eric. He was somewhat neater than earlier in the day, as though he’d spent the afternoon on his own care. If it hadn’t been so late, she’d think he was on his way to the clinic. His shoes were on and polished. There was something curious, gentle, in the way he looked at her.

— The bedroom door has no lock, Heike, he said.

— It was locked, she said. You heard me!

— Heike. Eric crossed over to where she sat on the bed. Do you need something to calm you down? You’re soaking wet. He touched her forehead. You’re raving, Heike. Let me give you something.

She stood up suddenly, leaving Daniel behind.

— You already gave me something: you gave me a heart attack. You locked the door! How could you be so cruel?

He raised a hand and let it fall against his own hip.

— I just told you, that door doesn’t lock. Calm down now, Heike. Or I could drive you over to the hospital. Would you like that better?

Heike turned back to Daniel on the bed. He’d picked up his toy again, and now that she looked closer, she saw what it was: the little shepherdess, the Meissen figurine she’d hidden in her drawer. He tilted his hand, left to right to left, walking her along the coverlet.

Heike dropped onto the bed beside him and reached out to touch the doll.

— Where did you get this?

— I finded it, Daniel said. Daddy helped. When we were hiding.

If this has peaked your interest you can grab I Remember You now from all good bookstores. Thank you for popping by!