Wednesday, 21 March 2018

#BookReview ~ The Last City: The Colony Book 2 by R.M. Gilmour #Romance #fantasy #ScienceFiction @RMGilmour




The Last City:
The Colony Book 2
By R.M. Gilmour


A battle approaches Threa - a war of wills, one driven to control it, and the other to destroy it.

While immersed in their history, Lydia learns of the overwhelming threat to the planet and its people. And even though she was brought to Threa by her soulmate Jordan, it has come to be her home. And she will not let it go.

Every day Lydia trains with Lena and Dax, but she doubts she will ever be as strong as they need her to be. She is determined however, to be strong enough, to be ready, should she ever again, be confronted by an enemy.

But what she can’t fight, are Jordan’s memories. With each step that he takes toward the past, Lydia feels him pulling away, closing himself off.

As the war rages, Lydia is determined to stay strong when her faith in Jordan is challenged. But is she strong enough to survive her own fears? Or will his ties to the past sever the unbreakable bond between them?

What did I think of the book?


"Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken..."
Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare.

The world that Lydia lives in is far removed from the one she was born in. But it matters not, for her home is wherever Jordon is. And yet, the threat of war forever sits on the horizon, and Lydia must learn to battle her own ghosts if she has any chance of vanquishing her enemy. However, there is a war that she is unaware of and one she cannot fight. For this war is Jordon's and his alone. He must face it, and he must own it, or all will be lost forever.

The Colony was one of those books that wriggled into my heart and stayed there. I reviewed it back in 2016, and I still hold it up as an example of the very best in romantic fantasy. It has been a long wait for the sequel, but then some books are worth such waits.

The Last City (The Colony Book 2) by R.M. Gilmour picks up where The Colony left off, and once again I found myself immersed in this wonderful fantasy world that Ms Gilmour has created.

There are some books that leave you gasping, and for me, The Last City is such a book. The storyline is enthralling. The characters leap of the page. The love story is sublime — there is simply no other word for it. There are several antagonists, and all of them bring menace and fear into the story. The pace of the plot is perfect. There are plot twists that I did not see coming. This book also has something very rare, and that is movement. It was so easy to read it was like listening to a symphony. Everything had its proper place. Everything was well timed. Perfection.

I adored the characterisation of Lydia. But be warned, there are some very harrowing scenes in this book. I am not going to give away any spoilers, but there is one scene in particular that made me hold my breath. I wanted to look away but I couldn't. Very traumatic. Lydia deals with this trauma as anyone else would. She does not brush herself off. She doesn't forget about it and move on. Yet she finds the will not to let it consume her. And that is something that I really liked about this book. This attention to detail, this understanding of mental health made Lydia human. A very believable character. As for Jordon... Well, doesn't he have a secret that will break your heart! His compassion. His gentleness. His understanding just left me in tears. He is an exquisite character that I could not help but fall in love with. The chemistry between Lydia and Jorden is so wonderfully real that at times I actually cried.

Lena is a wonderful contrast to Lydia, she is this real tough cookie who is a warrior first and foremost, but even she has secrets. Which leads me on to the supporting cast. There is quite a big cast in the book, and they all bring to the story something unique. And as for the antagonists...  All I can say is Ms Gilmour — I did not see that coming!

The Last City is Book 2 in The Colony series. I don't usually say this, but I would not recommend starting with this one.  You can pick up the threads of the story in The Last City but seriously, start with Book 1. So much happens in The Colony that to start with Book 2 would really be a disservice to yourself.

Hand on heart, The Colony series is the best romantic fantasy series I have ever read, and I would not say that if I didn't mean it. If you are going to read only one fantasy series this year, then read this one.




R M Gilmour
R M Gilmour was born in Sydney, Australia and currently resides in sunny Florida with her two children and two cats.

Writing stories since she was a child, she has always enjoyed losing touch with reality, even if for only a short time, through either reading or writing. For many years she has played host to a never-ending stream of characters patiently waiting their turn in the spotlight, several of which refuse to let her fall asleep until that last hand-crafted sentence has been written down, lest it be forgotten. More often than not it is forgotten if not written down... all hail pen and paper!

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

#BookReview ~ Love In Modena (A Desert Love Novella) by Angelina Kalahari #Romance #NewRelease @angelinakalhari


Love In Modena (A Desert Love Novella)
By Angelina Kalahari


Love In Modena is the follow-up novella to the contemporary romance, Under A Namibian Sky.

Naomi has found her prince, her Luca, her soul mate. In Modena, she also found her place in the world with him. But she can't let go of Namibia so easily, not now she's become the new owner of Desert Lodge. She feels her duty keenly to the people there who had given their loyalty to her family over many years.

Luca, the heir apparent to the Armati supercar dynasty, perfectly understands Naomi's dilemma. Their decision to split their time between the two countries and their responsibilities seems like the perfect solution. Theirs would be a lifestyle others can only dream of.

But neither expected that their relationship would be tested to the limits by an unforeseen foe in their midst.

Can the newlyweds survive the assault? Will it stretch their young relationship to its limits? Could it make them stronger, or break them apart?


My Thoughts

Naomi and Luca have found marital bliss in Modena. Each day their love grows. They are stronger together than apart. Nothing could ever come between them... Nothing.

Under A Namibian Sky is a beautiful romance set in Africa, but when I heard the author was going to write a follow-up novella, I clapped my hands with glee. I was so looking forward to reading more about Naomi and Luca. I am glad to say that the wait was worth it. Love In Modena (A Desert Love Novella) by Angelina Kalahari, is a compelling romance and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

Often I am left with a feeling of 'what happened after' in romance books, and it was really refreshing to read a follow-up story. Things are not easy for Naomi or Luca, and the story was very compelling as well as heart-warming and romantic. Ms Kalahari's elegant use of language gave this story an almost poetic feel. I truly loved every minute of it.

I adored both Naomi and Luca in Under A Namibian Sky, and my affection for these two characters did not waver in the follow-up story. A lot happens in this book. Some new characters are introduced, and not all of them have good intentions. This drives the plot forward and left me turning those pages long after I should have called it a night!

The world that Ms Kalahari has created is both real in the telling and easy to visualise. The characters leapt off the page, and it is one of those books that I am going to come back to again and again.

Fabulous storytelling. Fabulous romance. Fabulous book.



Angelina Kalahari
Angelina Kalahari entered this life among the red dunes of Namibia’s deserts. Her first sounds merged with the power of the massive yellow moon that lit up the vast African spaces. There, where the heavens presented the splendour that the Milky Way flung across its canvas.

A nomadic childhood enchanted her, as Africa presented the raw beauty of her many faces, while Angelina’s family traversed the desert in search of crops for their herds of Karakul sheep. This fertile ambience, filled with strange legends, amazing animals, and wonderful people, afforded Angelina a unique opportunity to live in a world of wonder and to develop a deep sense of self.

Her mother loved listening to Mario Lanza and other tenors of the day. A record player and records accompanied the family on their travels, and back to their farm. The gift of this divine music found resonance within Angelina's body and called to her soul’s desire to share her voice with the world. She left her magical universe to study with other voice and performance obsessives, which resulted in degrees in drama, singing, and opera.

Angelina continued her nomadic existence as an adult, enthralling audiences with her singing, acting, and directing. These activities allowed her to visit a world far beyond her beloved Africa. She shared her talents on such diverse platforms as opening the busking scheme on London Underground, to a recital at the Royal Opera House, and everything in between.

This led to an invitation to Buckingham Palace, no less, where Angelina met Queen Elizabeth as a reward, and in recognition of her contribution to the music, culture, and economy of the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, her fascination and obsession with the human vocal instrument grew, together with her knowledge of it. She found herself to be a teacher and sharer of the magic of the voice and performance, and she became co-founder of the North London Performance Academy.

Storytelling, which formed such a big part of her childhood, became an inherent element in her performances and continued to live in her heart. She never stopped writing down her stories. When, due to illness, it became clear that she would no longer be able to share her voice in the way she had before, writing became the obvious and perfect outlet for her creative expression.

Although she has finished many novels, plays, children’s stories, and had several articles published, The Healing Touch is her first published novel, the first in the Love Beyond Reason series. George And The Gargoyle Who Lived In The Garden, is her first middle-grade novel, again the first in a series. Her latest contemporary romance, Under A Namibian Sky, is the first in the Desert Love series.

Angelina has found a new colourful and vibrant universe in London. She now lives near a massive park, which satisfies another obsession, her awe and wonder of trees. The intoxicating world of London's artistic scene has introduced Angelina to many inspirational people who have become a close and integral part of her tribe.

The only magnificent creatures that share her home today, apart from all the characters wanting to live in the world through her books, are her husband, her little fur cat daughter, a rapidly diminishing population of house spiders, and a smallish herd of dust bunnies.

You can connect with me directly at angelina@angelinakalahari.com.







Tuesday, 20 February 2018

#BookReview ~ Red Winter by Julia Underwood #HistoricalFiction #Russia #mustread @BeingJules

Red Winter

By Julie Underwood


Wealthy, privileged Sophie Cooke, the eldest daughter of a successful English businessman in St Petersburg, has her life torn apart by historic changes in Russia. 

In the early 1900s, enjoying a luxurious existence and a social life of parties and balls, Sophie becomes engaged to the love of her life; a young doctor, Anatoly Andropov. The outbreak of the Great War means that their marriage is earlier than planned and Tolya goes to serve in a field hospital on the eastern front.

Sophie, bored and lonely at home, leaves to join him as a nurse. Later she gives birth to a baby boy and, when expecting her second child, conditions compel her to return to her home city, now named Petrograd.

Petrograd becomes the epicentre of the greatest upheaval in Russian history where the Tsar is overthrown and socialist revolutionaries take over the government. During the months and years that follow, the socialist revolution and a bitter Civil War play out amidst uncertainty, lethal danger and brutal violence. Sophie’s family flee to England, to safety, but even that escape is marked with tragedy.

Sophie remains in Petrograd with her children to wait Tolya’s return. Conditions in the city deteriorate, threatening her little family with starvation and disease. Sophie endures endless struggles at home and at work in a state hospital with the fate of her husband always on her mind. Where is he? Is he even alive? Serious illness and the fragile health of her children drive her to join her family in England where she hears the worst news possible which forces her to return alone to Russia to embark on a dangerous quest.

This sweeping novel of love and loss will transport the reader from tsarist Russia in 1913, through the Great War, the Russian Revolution and Civil War to 1922, finally portraying the life of Russian émigrés in England.


My thoughts...

When Sophie married the dashing young doctor, Anatoly Andropov, she had no idea where her life would lead her. In the years that follow, Sophie would witness the horrors of World War I and the terror of the 1917 revolution. Being half-English, Sophie has the chance to leave Russia with her family, but how can she when she knows not what has happened to her husband?

From the splendour of Tsarist Russia to the abject poverty of life under the Bolsheviks, Red Winter by Julia Underwood is a sweeping saga of one young woman as she fights for her country, her family, and the man she loves. The brutality of this time is beautifully portrayed in one of the best historical fiction books I have ever read depicting this era. This book is right up there with Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago, and Danielle Steel's, Zoya. Red Winter is a breathtaking story that had me gripped from the opening chapter — so gripped in fact that I simply could not put the book down and read it in one sitting.

Sophie was a beautifully portrayed protagonist, and while the world is falling down around her, she faces this changing world with courage and integrity. She is the glue that holds her family together, and her bravery is inspiring, as is her self-sacrifice. Sophie meets each disaster head on, and although at times she is discouraged she somehow finds the strength to carry on.

The depth of research, Julie Underwood has dedicated to portraying the period as accurately as she can has to be commended. I found no historical inaccuracies, and the story came across as very real in the telling.

An enjoyable story, filled with tragedy and hardship but with a satisfying ending.

I Highly Recommend.


Links for Purchase


Julia Underwood
I have been writing for many years. At boarding school I took liberties with published work, adapting it into plays for my classmates to perform. Frequently in trouble for ignoring the 'no talking after lights' rule, I related an ongoing saga of terror and mayhem to my friends.

My father was an Intelligence Officer in the British Army and, after World War 2 we lived in Germany and Austria. I have also lived and worked in Jamaica and France.

Before starting a family I worked as a Medical Research Scientist (I have a BSc in Physiology) for the NHS and the Athritis and Rheumatism Council. Running a pub and a restaurant were more stressful and difficult. Later, for many years I was an interior designer, also making soft furnishings.

I write fiction: short stories, children's stories, plays and now, a novel (published for Kindle by Endeavour Press). I have had short stories and articles published in magazines and have won and been short-listed in competitions with my short stories.

My obsessions are wrting, films, cats, cooking and doll's house furnishings (when I'm not writing I obsessively embroider 1"/12" scale replica carpets and knit dolls' house clothes on needles as thin as a wire).
I am now writng a series of murder mystery novellas for Kindle. The first 'A Murder of no Account' reached no:38 in the Amazon Free Kindle books chart and was 1,300th on the paid list for a nanosecond! I am now working on the second Eve Duncam mystery.



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Sunday, 26 November 2017

#bookreview ~ Conquest: Daughter of the Last King #HistFic #Norman #Wales @TraceyWarr1

Conquest:
 Daughter of the Last King
By Tracey Warr

 

1093

The three sons of William the Conqueror – Robert Duke of Normandy, William II King of England and Count Henry – fight with each other for control of the Anglo-Norman kingdom created by their father’s conquest.

Meanwhile, Nest ferch Rhys, the daughter of the last independent Welsh king, is captured during the Norman assault of her lands. Raised with her captors, the powerful Montgommery family, Nest is educated to be the wife of Arnulf of Montgommery, in spite of her pre-existing betrothal to a Welsh prince.

Who will Nest marry and can the Welsh rebels oust the Normans?

Daughter of the Last King is the first in the Conquest Trilogy.


What did I think of the book?


The Norman invasion did not stop at Hastings.
It was where it began...

Nest Ferch Rhys, daughter of the King of Deheubart, has a future to look forward to. She is betrothed to Prince Owain ap Cadwgan, and one day, when she is all grown up, her husband will be the King of Powys.

But then the soldiers came.

They slaughter her kin and take her to Cardiff Castle as their special guest. Now she has to pretend gratitude towards people that she hates and she has to find the courage to live and prosper under the watchful eyes of the enemy.

Conquest: Daughter of the Last King by Tracey Warr is a compelling tale and a realistic account of what life was like for a Welsh King's daughter, in a Norman court, in the 11th Century.  This book is rich with historical detail, it is very obvious that Ms. Warr has spent a great many hours in researching this fascinating era. The story itself was refreshing, and the writing was very elegant. This is certainly a sit-down-and-finish book.

I adored the characterisation of Nest. She is a brave and courageous heroine who I came to adore. My heart broke for her when she was so cruelly snatched away from her family, but despite it all, she manages to keep hold of her dignity and grace. She is treated very much as a pawn by the Normans — I am not going to give away any spoilers, but I will say that how some of these powerful men treated her was nothing short of appalling. But she kept her head held high and her dignity intact.

Conquest: Daughter of the Last King is a very well written book and one I certainly enjoyed.

I Highly Recommend.

* I received a copy of this book, from the publishers, for review consideration.*

Links for Purchase

About the author
Tracey Warr's historical novels, Almodis the Peaceweaver, The Viking Hostage, Conquest: Daughter of the Last King, and Conquest: The Drowned Court are published by Impress Books, and based on incidents in the lives of real medieval people. Her writing awards include Author’s Foundation Award, Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary, Rome Film Festival Book Initiative, Santander Research Award, and the Impress Prize for Fiction shortlist.

Her future fiction novella, Meanda, is published as an ebook in English and French.

She also writes on contemporary art and is the editor of The Artist’s Body (Phaidon) and co-editor of Setting the Fell on Fire (Editions North) and Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture (Routledge). Her essays on contemporary artists have been published by Black Dog, Palgrave Macmillan, Merrell/Barbican, Tate, Manchester University Press and Intellect.

She writes articles and reviews for Times Higher Education, Historical Novels Review and The Displaced Nation.

Before becoming a full-time writer she was Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art at Oxford Brookes University and Dartington College of Arts, and Guest Professor at Bauhaus University, Weimar and Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam. She is currently teaching art history for St Francis University’s Study Abroad programme in Ambialet, France.

She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Historical Novel Society. 

Connect with Tracey…



Monday, 20 November 2017

#BookReview ~ A Family At War #WW2 #History #memoirs @berylkingston

A Family At War
By Beryl Kingston


This is a story for people who want to know what it was really like to be a child during the war and in the London Blitz. But it will also interest people who can't understand how anyone would want to deliberately hurt a child or an animal, since at its centre is a closely observed character study of an abuser, cruelty, selfishness, bravery under fire, fantasy world and all.


What did I think of the book?

It was hard growing up while bombs dropped from the sky. It was even harder to do so without a mother's love.

A Family at War by Beryl Kingston is one of those books, that after reading, I found myself pausing and giving myself time to digest what I had just read. A Family at War is a heartbreakingly true story about a child who is absolutely desperate for her mother's love. But instead of love and security and everything a mother should give, Beryl is subjected to terrible emotional and physical abuse from her very mentally unstable mother. But despite that, she tries so hard to please this unpleasable woman. No matter what Beryl does, it is never good enough, and many times she is physically reprimanded for doing absolutely nothing wrong.

This book is a very honest account of her very complicated family dynamics growing up. Everyone was scared of her mother, including her father and her gran. Beryl had no one to stand up for her, and that is what really broke my heart. All I can say is thank goodness for Roy. He was a beacon of light, and I can understand why Beryl fell in love with him.

I have to talk about the writing of this book. It was sublime. I have read a fair few autobiographies, but this one is something very special. It is certainly on par with Frank McCourt's, Angela's Ashes.  What I thought was amazing about the writing was how it reflected the age of the child. This is incredibly difficult to do well, but Ms Kingston nailed it. Kudos, Ms. Kingston.

Ms. Kingston grew up during the blitz, and anyone who is looking for a book that demonstrated the horror of the blitz, through the eyes of a child, will certainly take a lot away from this book.

I could go on and on about this book. It was truly wonderful.

I Highly Recommend.



Links to Purchase




About the author

I was born in 1931 in Tooting, and when I was four was enrolled at a local dancing school run by a lady called Madam Hadley, which I attended until I was eight when the war began. Because of the war my school career was – shall we say – varied. I was evacuated twice, the first time to Felpham which is near Bognor Regis and the second to Harpenden in Hertfordshire, and consequently went to ten different schools. I ended up at Streatham Secondary School, an LCC grammar run on the Dalton system, which offered a few lessons as sparking points and then required pupils to be responsible for their own learning, either in study rooms with their teachers on hand to help and advise, or on their own in the library or the school hall. It suited me to a T. Then to King’s College London, where I read English and enjoyed myself a lot, but wasn’t particularly distinguished, having other things on my mind by then...

Sunday, 12 November 2017

#BookReivew ~ The Death Of The Miller's Son: Marcus I #historicalfantasy @AnnaGabbyMGD

The Death Of The Miller’s Son: Marcus I

By M.G.D.

Marcus, a young slave, saves a king and embarks on a new life.

*

What did I think of the book?

"I want you to kill the King..."

Taken as a slave at the tender age of five, Marcus — the Miller's son — knows more than most eight-year-olds about cruelty and death. As a slave, he has no choice but to do as he is told. But Marcus is no murderer, and although he has heard terrible things about King Halcome, he will not kill him.


With an astonishing act of bravery, Marcus defies his master, and in doing so, he changes his destiny forever...


Oh, Boy!! What a journey author M.G.D has just taken me on! The Death Of The Miller's Son: Marcus I by M.G.D is an action-packed adventure about warring factions in a fictional historical kingdom. On one side there is the evil and power obsessed Prescott, and on the other, there is King Halcome. Our young hero, Marcus, finds himself stuck in the middle.


This book has a very slow and somewhat confusing start, but you really need to stick with it because once Marcus saves the King, the storytelling is sublime. I had a job to put this book down. It was a very compelling read. I grew to care very much about the characters, especially for Jonathan and Eron, I thought M.G.D did an amazing job of portraying these two in particular. I grew very fond of Marcus, as he struggled to understand what was happening to him. He knows how to be a slave, but he doesn't know how to be a child, or a son for that matter. This pulled at my heartstrings. Beautiful, beautiful, storytelling.


M.G.D. certainly knows how to build up tension in her story — who is friend and who is foe?  There is betrayal and courageous acts of loyalty. It is also a story of discovery  —what makes Marcus, the Miller's son, so special?


I really enjoyed this book and it is a story that I will come back to.


I Highly Recommend.

Links for Purchase

Amazon US  Amazon UK

 

About the author

M.G.D the author of Recipe For A Ghost, Hallowed Springs, and others, now brings readers to the world of Marcus. Born in Southern Indiana. A coffee drinker by day and an author by night. M.G.D lives for family, little pug dogs, and a desire to enwrap the reader in worlds of epic wonder. Launching a career in writing in 2014, M.G.D strives for literary excellence in the school of outstanding authors, such as C. S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien.