Mahoney by Andrew Joyce | @huckfinn76 | #guestpost #extract

Good morning! Today, I welcome author Andrew Joyce to the blog to talk a little bit about his novel Mahoney and how he came around to writing it. But first, let’s see what Mahoney is all about.

Author : Andrew Joyce
Title : Mahoney
Pages : 495
Publisher : William Birch & Assoc.
Publication date : May 19, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

In the second year of an Gorta Mhór—the Great Famine—nineteen-year-old Devin Mahoney lies on the dirt floor of his small, dark cabin. He has not eaten in five days. His only hope of survival is to get to America, the land of milk and honey.

After surviving disease and storms at sea that decimate crew and passengers alike, Devin’s ship limps into New York Harbor three days before Christmas, 1849.

Thus starts an epic journey that will take him and his descendants through one hundred and fourteen years of American history, including the Civil War, the Wild West, and the Great Depression.

| GUEST POST |

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Eva has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new book, Mahoney. So, I thought I’d tell you how it came about. But to do that, I gotta tell you how my mind works.

A few years ago, I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. I had them as adults in the Old West. Kind of like Wyatt Earp type characters. It was a modest success and won an award for Best Western of 2013.

I think my favorite book of all time is The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I’ve read it a number of times over the years—the last time being two years ago. Now, for those of you who may not have read it, it’s about one family’s trek from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl of the 1930s to the “Land of Milk and Honey,” also known as California. Of course, California wasn’t a land of milk and honey. If anything, the family was worse off in California than they were in Oklahoma. The subtext of the book is how those on the lower rungs of society’s ladder are oppressed and have very little voice to fight against that oppression.

Near the end of the book, Tom Joad, the protagonist, runs afoul of the law and must leave his family or else be arrested on a trumped up charge or be killed by the big landowners’ goons. His mother, quite naturally, will miss him and is worried for him. The words he spoke to her in that scene have become iconic.

“I’ll be aroun’ in the dark. I’ll be everywhere-wherever you look. Wherever there is a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there is a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folk eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build—why, I’ll be there.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

So, here’s what I did. Just like with Huck and Tom, I started thinking about what ever happened to Tom Joad after he left his family. I wanted to write about injustices and the people who suffer those injustices. I thought I’d follow Tom around and write about what he encountered from about the mid-thirties to 1963 when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I have a Dream” speech.

However, there was just one problem with that: copyright laws. The character of Tom Joad belongs to the heirs of John Steinbeck. So, I had to come up with another angle. After some thought on the matter, I decided to expand my initial time frame from between 1933 and 1963 to 1849 and 1963. I’d start the story in Ireland during the potato famine and work my way to America and then I’d end up where I had originally intended.

Here’s the blurb for the book:

In this compelling, richly researched novel, author Andrew Joyce tells a riveting story of adventure, endurance, and hope as the Mahoney clan fights to gain a foothold in America.

In the second year of an Gorta Mhór—the Great Famine—nineteen-year-old Devin Mahoney lies on the dirt floor of his small, dark cabin. He has not eaten in five days. His only hope of survival is to get to America, the land of milk and honey. After surviving disease and storms at sea that decimate crew and passengers alike, Devin’s ship limps into New York Harbor three days before Christmas, 1849. Thus starts an epic journey that will take him and his descendants through one hundred and fourteen years of American history, including the Civil War, the Wild West, and the Great Depression.

Well, that’s how Mahoney came about. For those of you who may read it, I hope you enjoy it. It took me almost two years of full-time research, writing, and editing to get it to where I wanted and to tell the story I wanted to tell.

| WEE TEASER |

The reflected firelight flickered across awestruck faces and mirrored in the eyes of those who listened as stories were told of yesterday’s indignities and tomorrow’s aspirations. The look in those yearning eyes spoke of hopes and dreams. The laughter heard around the fire conveyed a sense that somehow it would all work out. For a few short hours, on Saturday nights, in the deep woods of a place none of them had ever heard of before, the constant fear that lived within their hearts was banished from their lives.

In time, they would prevail. Their sons and daughters would one day stand straight and tall as proud Americans, as proud as their fathers had been to be Irish.

Doesn’t this sound good? If you’d like to read more, you can purchase yourself a copy of Mahoney right now!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Wordery

Thank you so much, Andrew, for stopping by and sharing your Mahoney journey with us!

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Andrew Joyce left home at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until years later when he decided to become a writer.

Joyce has written seven books. His first novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, was awarded the Editors’ Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. A subsequent novel, Yellow Hair, received the Book of the Year award from Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from Colleen’s Book Reviews.

Amazon Page | Twitter | Website

Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson | #20BooksOfSummer

Author : Laura Shepherd-Robinson
Title : Blood & Sugar
Pages : 430
Publisher : Mantle
Publication date : January 24, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

June, 1781. An unidentified body hangs upon a hook at Deptford Dock – horribly tortured and branded with a slaver’s mark.

Some days later, Captain Harry Corsham – a war hero embarking upon a promising parliamentary career – is visited by the sister of an old friend. Her brother, passionate abolitionist Tad Archer, had been about to expose a secret that he believed could cause irreparable damage to the British slaving industry. He’d said people were trying to kill him, and now he is missing . . .

To discover what happened to Tad, Harry is forced to pick up the threads of his friend’s investigation, delving into the heart of the conspiracy Tad had unearthed. His investigation will threaten his political prospects, his family’s happiness, and force a reckoning with his past, risking the revelation of secrets that have the power to destroy him.

And that is only if he can survive the mortal dangers awaiting him in Deptford…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Historical crime fiction is quickly becoming my new favourite genre!

It’s the summer of 1781. At Deptford Dock, the body of a man is found hanging from a hook. He’s been tortured, branded with a slaver’s mark and had his throat cut. A few days later, our main protagonist Captain Harry Corsham receives a visit from the sister of an old friend. She tells him her brother, Tad, a fierce abolitionist who is convinced he’s found a way to expose a secret that will pave the way to put an end to slavery, has gone missing.

Colour me incredibly ignorant, but I had no idea England had a slave history too. For some reason, when slavery is mentioned I always think of America. Slavery is a lucrative business so how do you go about tackling the injustice of it all when the people who are making so much money from it are also in power? Needless to say, some of the events in this book are quite uncomfortable to read. Slaves were not seen as humans, but as property; goods to be sold and resold, treated like dirt.

There are quite a few characters to come to grips with in this story, none of whom could be trusted. I had a bit of a struggle getting them all straight in my head but once that happened, it was smooth sailing. As Harry digs deeper into all the things that are going on in Deptford to try and find out what happened to Tad, danger lurks around pretty much every corner. I couldn’t at all figure out who was behind Tad’s murder or who was trying to stop Harry from finding out the truth.

Blood & Sugar is a compelling, tense and brilliantly written historical crime fiction novel. It oozes atmosphere, has a wide range of intriguing characters and all the while, it shines a spotlight on a horrible era in England’s past. An impressive debut from Laura Shepherd-Robinson, for sure.

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

Book 9 from my 20 Books of Summer list

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid | @tjenkinsreid @AtriaBooks | #20BooksOfSummer #recommended

Author : Taylor Jenkins Reid
Title : The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Pages : 385
Publisher : Atria
Publication date : September 1, 2017

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ’80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Aging former movie star Evelyn Hugo is ready to tell the world about her life and set the record straight. Surprisingly, she picks an absolute nobody to write her biography. But as soon as you get to know Evelyn, you realise she doesn’t do anything for no reason and that nobody, Monique, is right where she should be. Why though? That’s the million dollar question and one I completely failed to answer until it was revealed to me.

Evelyn Hugo’s story depicts life behind the glitz, glamour and bright lights of Hollywood. In the days when the big movie studios ran Hollywood, things were very different from now. The movie studios held enormous power over their stars, determining what they should look like, what to eat (or not to eat) and even who to date. Anything to make their movie stars stand out, get publicity and sell movie tickets. There’s quite a lot of deceit, hiding behind masks, putting on acts all over town, the need to be seen. But more than anything, the sense that you should do whatever is necessary to avoid a scandal. Not just to protect your career, but also your family.

Evelyn Hugo married seven times during her lifetime. While talking to Monique, she deftly guides us through each of these marriages and it was often quite heartbreaking and devastating. Numerous times, I found I had a bit of a lump in my throat and by the end, I was very much an emotional mess.

Just like Monique, I too had a hard time deciding how I felt about Evelyn. From a young age, she knew exactly what she wanted and she went out there and got it, no matter what it took. Some of her actions really caused food for thought. Yet, they were also entirely understandable and throughout I was often left to wonder what I would have done in the situations Evelyn found herself in.

I found myself absolutely engrossed in Evelyn’s story from the very beginning. I feel privileged to have spent time with her, to have somewhat gotten to know the woman behind the actress. I say somewhat, because I’m convinced there were many more stories she could have told. Saying goodbye to Evelyn has left me feeling quite bereft and I realise I’m talking about her as if she was a real person because that’s exactly how she felt to me.

I loved everything about this story. The setting, the complex and multi-layered characters, the absolutely beautiful writing … there’s someone out there nodding her head, saying “I bloody told you so!” and now I’m telling you. If you love historical fiction or just a fantastic story in general, really, you have to meet Evelyn. This is my first time reading a novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid but it won’t be my last.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

Book 7 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

The Serpent’s Mark by S.W. Perry | @swperry_history @CorvusBooks @annecater | #blogtour #bookreview #RandomThingsTours

Such a pleasure to host a stop on the blog tour for The Serpent’s Mark by S.W. Perry today! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my fabulous review copy!

Author : S.W. Perry
Title : The Serpent’s Mark
Series : Nicolas Shelby #2
Pages : 424
Publisher : Corvus
Publication date : June 6, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Treason sleeps for no man…

London, 1591. Nicholas Shelby, physician and reluctant spy, returns to his old haunts on London’s lawless Bankside. But, when the queen’s spymaster Robert Cecil asks him to investigate the dubious practices of a mysterious doctor from Switzerland, Nicholas is soon embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not just the life of an innocent young patient, but the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth herself.

With fellow healer and mistress of the Jackdaw tavern, Bianca Merton, again at his side, Nicholas is drawn into a dangerous world of zealots, charlatans and fanatics. As their own lives become increasingly at risk, they find themselves confronting the greatest treason of all: the spectre of a bloody war between the faiths…

| MY THOUGHTS |

The Serpent’s Mark is the second instalment in the Nicolas Shelby series, featuring Nicolas, a physician and reluctant spy, and Bianca Merton, owner of the Jackdaw tavern and licensed apothecary.

Nicolas finds himself once again engaged by Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, Robert Cecil. A mysterious doctor has arrived from Switzerland to cure a young boy from the falling sickness. Robert Cecil wants Nicolas to investigate the dubious practices of this doctor. Which is fortuitous, as Nicolas has already been asked by the boy’s father to keep an eye out. Meanwhile, Bianca gets a lovely surprise when her cousin arrives on a ship from Padua. Nothing is at it seems though and soon Nicolas and Bianca find themselves caught up in a thrilling conspiracy from both ends.

Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy? I know I do and this particular one here had me enthralled. I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t mention too much about it but the idea is incredibly cleverly plotted and it’s something that would not just turn the house of Tudor upside down but could quite easily ignite a war between the faiths.

S.W. Perry really brings to life the streets of London during the Elizabethan era. From the smells and the sounds to the danger lurking around every corner, I immediately felt myself transported. As a physician, the character of Nicolas Shelby also shines a light on the way the science of medicine worked in those days. Physicians consulted astrology, for instance, to determine a diagnosis or treatment. A way of doing things that doesn’t always sit right with Nicolas, which often gets him into trouble.

A clever plot, intriguing characters, a conspiracy, the threat of war, a web of deceit … I mean, really, what more could you possibly ask for?! I couldn’t at all figure out how things would end and feared for the fate of these characters. The Serpent’s Mark had me absolutely engrossed from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed its predecessor and felt this one was even better. This is one captivating and twisty historical fiction novel full of mystery and suspense and I absolutely can’t wait to read more in this series!

The Serpent’s Mark is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

S. W. Perry was a journalist and broadcaster before retraining as an airline pilot. He lives in Worcestershire, England with his wife.

The Wartime Midwives by Daisy Styles | @MichaelJBooks @sriya_v | #blogtour #bookreview

It’s a real pleasure to host a stop on the blog tour for The Wartime Midwives by Daisy Styles today! My thanks to Sriya at Michael Joseph for the opportunity to join and for the lovely review copy!

Author : Daisy Styles
Title : The Wartime Midwives
Pages : 384
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : May 16, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

1939.

Mary Vale, a grand and imposing Mother and Baby Home, sits on the remote Fylde coast in Lancashire. Its doors are open to unmarried women who come to hide their condition and find sanctuary.

Women from all walks of life pass through Mary Vale, from beautiful waitress Emily, whose boyfriend has vanished without trace, to young Isla, cast out by her wealthy family after her first year at university goes horribly wrong.

Awaiting them is Nurse Ada and Sister Anne who work tirelessly to aid the mothers and safely deliver the babies. But the unforgiving Matron and Head of Governors, Captain Percival, have other, more sinister, ideas.

As war looms the women at Mary Vale must pull together for the sake of themselves and their babies and Ada and Anne must help protect their patients, no matter what the cost.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Author Daisy Styles was completely unfamiliar to me when the invitation to join this tour landed in my inbox. But with a historical fiction story about midwives in the early years of WWII, how could you possibly go wrong?

Mary Vale is a mother and baby home, a place of sanctuary for unmarried mothers-to-be who need to hide away their pregnancies. Women from all walks of life travel to the coast of Lancashire to have their babies in peace. So, we meet Emily, an unmarried waitress whose boyfriend has disappeared. There is also Shirley, a fifteen year old girl who needs protecting in more ways than one, and Isla whose parents kicked her out of her home the minute they discovered she was pregnant. Some of these women will return home with their babies, some will put their children up for adoption. And despite their differences, they may just find friends for life.

But not everything is as perfect as it seems at Mary Vale. Matron is not a very nice person and that’s putting it mildly. She and Sir Percival, Head of Governors, come up with quite the sinister scheme. The women at Mary Vale will need to pull together to keep their babies safe.

I must admit that I tend to like my historical fiction with a bit more depth and bite to it but there is something about these women that just pulled me in. It’s hard to imagine the days that unmarried pregnant women had to hide themselves away aren’t that far behind us and sad to see how parents valued their status above their own daughters, having no qualms but to throw them out of house and home because the shame and disgrace was too hard to handle. Even with a war looming, these women needed a safe space because as one of the characters is fond of saying : life goes on. Babies will not stop being born.

The Wartime Midwives is a heartwarming and moving story about love and friendship during the hardest of times. There are some wonderful moments between mums and their babies, but also some truly emotional ones. These characters will worm their way into your heart and you will root for them every step of the way. If you like your historical fiction a bit more on the lighter side or enjoy tv series like Call The Midwife, then this is definitely for you.

The Wartime Midwives is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Daisy Styles grew up in Lancashire surrounded by a family and community of strong women whose tales she loved to listen to. It was from these women, particularly her vibrant mother and Irish grandmother, that Daisy learned the art of storytelling. There was also the landscape of her childhood – wide, sweeping, empty moors and hills that ran as far as the eye could see – which was a perfect backdrop for a saga, a space big enough and wild enough to stage a drama, one about women’s lives during the Second World War.

Anna of Kleve : Queen of Secrets by Alison Weir

Author : Alison Weir
Title : Anna of Kleve : Queen of Secrets
Series : Six Tudor Queens #4
Pages : 485
Publisher : Headline
Publication date : May 2, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Newly widowed and the father of an infant son, Henry VIII realizes he must marry again to insure the royal succession. Now forty-six, overweight and unwell, Henry is soundly rejected by some of Europe’s most eligible princesses, but Anna of Kleve—a small German duchy—is twenty-four and eager to wed.

Henry requests Anna’s portrait from his court painter, who enhances her looks, painting her straight-on in order not to emphasize her rather long nose. Henry is entranced by the lovely image, only to be bitterly surprised when Anna arrives in England and he sees her in the flesh. She is pleasant looking, just not the lady that Henry had expected.

What follows is a fascinating story of this awkward royal union that had to somehow be terminated tactfully. Alison Weir takes a fresh and surprising look at this remarkable royal marriage by describing it from the point of view of Queen Anna, a young woman with hopes and dreams of her own, alone in a royal court that rejected her from the day she arrived. 

| MY THOUGHTS |

The Six Tudor Queens series continues with the fourth of Henry VIII’s wives, Anna of Kleve. This is one I’d been looking forward to, happy to move even further away from the Great Matter, and also because I didn’t know much about Anna herself.

Anna hailed from Germany and to all intents and purposes seemed to have lived quite the sheltered life under the watchful eye of her mother. Until the day Henry VIII, King of England, decides he needs another wife and preferably another heir. With Spain and France joining forces against him, an alliance with the Duke of Kleve would be quite an advantage. Henry asks his court painter for a portrait of Anna. He likes what he sees. Until Anna finally arrives in England. Despite the marriage going ahead, it quickly becomes clear Henry isn’t happy and when Henry isn’t happy, heads roll. But will it be Anna’s?

There is quite the controversial storyline running through Anna of Kleve. As always, Alison Weir takes facts and builds her story around those. In this case, the reasons Henry listed for his marriage to Anna to remain unconsummated. By that time, he was nearing 50, massively overweight and unfit, and quite possibly impotent. But of course, that’s not something he would ever have admitted. In his attempts to have his marriage to Anna annulled, Henry shows a side of himself we’ve not really seen before. At times he managed to come across as likeable even.

Now imagine Anna. A young woman sent off to England to marry a King. She spoke no English, knew nothing of the culture or customs but did know the stories about what happened to Henry’s previous wives. How incredibly frightening is that? Unable to please Henry, through no fault of her own, her life at the court must have been spent in sheer fear and anxiety.

I mentioned the controversial path Alison Weir takes with this story. Up to a certain point, I was quite willing to follow it. It explained a lot, it made sense while keeping Henry’s words in the back of my mind. But as the years went on, I must admit that that particular fictional part of the story lost me a little bit. I’m being deliberately vague here because I want the readers to experience this for themselves. If you do read this novel, and you definitely should, I’d be incredibly interested in knowing your thoughts.

I absolutely adore the Six Tudor Queens series and boy, do those hardcovers look amazing on my bookshelf. As always, Alison Weir’s research is immaculate and her descriptions are fabulously vivid. From the various palaces and their furnishings to the food served to the gorgeous clothes, she brings this era to life like no other. While I enjoyed Anna of Kleve, it wasn’t my favourite of the series though. It’s a bit hard to explain but for the first time in this series, I really felt like I was reading fiction. Which it is for the most part, of course, but some of it just didn’t quite work for me. Nevertheless, putting those misgivings aside, Anna of Kleve is another fantastic addition to this series and I can’t wait for the next one.

Anna of Kleve : Queen of Secrets is available to buy in ebook and hardcover.

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

In Two Minds by Alis Hawkins | @Alis_Hawkins @DomePress @emily_glenister | #blogtour #bookreview #giveaway

It’s such a pleasure to host a stop on the blog tour for In Two Minds by Alis Hawkins today! My thanks to Emily at Dome Press for the opportunity to join and for the wonderful review copy! Read on for the bookish information, my review and a fab giveaway.

Author : Alis Hawkins
Title : In Two Minds
Series : Teifi Valley Coroner #2
Pages : 455
Publisher : Dome Press
Publication date : May 2, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Harry Probert-Lloyd, a young barrister forced home from London by encroaching blindness, has begun work as the acting coroner of Teifi Valley with solicitor’s clerk John Davies as his assistant.

When a faceless body is found on an isolated beach, Harry must lead the inquest. But his dogged pursuit of the truth begins to ruffle feathers. Especially when he decides to work alongside a local doctor with a dubious reputation and experimental theories considered radical and dangerous. Refusing to accept easy answers might not only jeopardise Harry’s chance to be elected coroner permanently but could, it seems, implicate his own family in a crime.

| MY THOUGHTS |

In Two Minds is the second instalment in the Teify Valley Coroner series featuring Harry Probert-Lloyd and John Davies. After his success in solving a murder in the previous book, Harry is now the acting coroner and John continues to work as his assistant.

A faceless body is found on a beach and Harry is called up to lead the inquest. Everyone would like a quick resolution. After all, inquests cost money. But Harry doesn’t work like that and is determined to find out exactly what happened and who is responsible. Will his dogged determination ruin his chance at being elected coroner permanently?

As with the previous book, Alis Hawkins manages to combine an interesting historical fact with the fictitious investigation run by Harry and John. This time, the topic is emigration and we find a multitude of characters who have been saving up money for years to try and get onto a boat that will take them to a, hopefully, better life in America.

This is one of those times where I feel the title is incredibly apt and well chosen. Lots of characters are in two minds throughout the story, as they try to figure out what the future holds in store for them. Those who must decide between carrying on with their lives in Wales or taking a gamble on a new life in America, for instance. But also, Harry and John themselves. If you’ve read the previous book, then you know Harry’s life seems to be all planned out. Even more so when his father falls ill. Harry constantly finds himself torn between his duty and what he actually really wants to do. And John is determined to improve his situation, not content with being a solicitor’s clerk forever. I really liked that he was given the opportunity to prove himself in this story, showing his intelligence and diligence, making decisions on his own without being prompted by Harry.

I can’t wrap up this review without mentioning doctor Rickett. Harry’s decision to involve him ruffles quite a lot of feathers. Rickett’s thoughts on medicine must have sounded somewhat like voodoo in those days but to us, many of them come across as perfectly reasonable. In order to make advancements in medicine, Rickett is a big fan of autopsies. He doesn’t just want to help sick people, he wants to learn how they got sick in the first place and possibly find out how to prevent the same thing happening to someone else. I found his character truly fascinating and I do so hope he appears in future instalments.

Set in Wales, In Two Minds oozes atmosphere and combines two of my favourite things : historical fiction and crime. Who is this faceless body? Were they murdered and if so, by whom and why? I couldn’t find an answer to these questions at all and Alis Hawkins kept me guessing right up until the quite devastating conclusion. With lots of well-crafted and intriguing characters, twists and turns and an interesting investigation, In Two Minds is a gripping, compelling read and a brilliant addition to this series. I shall impatiently await the next book and very much look forward to seeing what happens to Harry and John next.

In Two Minds is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| GIVEAWAY |

ONE lucky winner will receive ONE paperback copy of In Two Minds!

Enter the giveaway by clicking this Rafflecopter link

This giveaway is UK ONLY!

You must of course be willing to give me your details to be passed on to the publisher. Good luck!

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Alis Hawkins grew up on a dairy farm in Cardiganshire. Her inner introvert thought it would be a good idea to become a shepherd and, frankly, if she had, she might have been published sooner. As it was, three years reading English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford revealed an extrovert streak and a social conscience which saw her train as a Speech and Language Therapist.

She has spent the subsequent three decades variously bringing up two sons, working with children and young people on the autism spectrum and writing fiction, non-fiction and plays.

She writes the kind of books she likes to read: character-driven historical crime and mystery fiction with what might be called literary production values. 

This Week in Books (May 8)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

Harry Probert-Lloyd, a young barrister forced home from London by encroaching blindness, has begun work as the acting coroner of Teifi Valley with solicitor’s clerk John Davies as his assistant.

When a faceless body is found on an isolated beach, Harry must lead the inquest. But his dogged pursuit of the truth begins to ruffle feathers. Especially when he decides to work alongside a local doctor with a dubious reputation and experimental theories considered radical and dangerous.

Refusing to accept easy answers might not only jeopardise Harry’s chance to be elected coroner permanently but could, it seems, implicate his own family in a crime.

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

Newly widowed and the father of an infant son, Henry VIII realizes he must marry again to insure the royal succession. Now forty-six, overweight and unwell, Henry is soundly rejected by some of Europe’s most eligible princesses, but Anna of Kleve—a small German duchy—is twenty-four and eager to wed.

Henry requests Anna’s portrait from his court painter, who enhances her looks, painting her straight-on in order not to emphasize her rather long nose. Henry is entranced by the lovely image, only to be bitterly surprised when Anna arrives in England and he sees her in the flesh. She is pleasant looking, just not the lady that Henry had expected.

What follows is a fascinating story of this awkward royal union that had to somehow be terminated tactfully. Alison Weir takes a fresh and surprising look at this remarkable royal marriage by describing it from the point of view of Queen Anna, a young woman with hopes and dreams of her own, alone in a royal court that rejected her from the day she arrived. 

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Renée Ballard is working the night beat again, and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours only to find a stranger rifling through old file cabinets. The intruder is retired detective Harry Bosch, working a cold case that has gotten under his skin. Ballard kicks him out, but then checks into the case herself and it brings a deep tug of empathy and anger.

Bosch is investigating the death of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton, a runaway on the streets of Hollywood who was brutally murdered and her body left in a dumpster like so much trash. Now, Ballard joins forces with Bosch to find out what happened to Daisy and finally bring her killer to justice.

Not entirely sure why all the books I’m reading lately are so long. These are all over 400 pages, one even 485. It’s not that I mind. I like big books (and I can not lie) but it makes staying ahead of my schedule just that little bit harder. 😄

What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading! xx

The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans | @HarrietEvans @headlinepg @annecater | #blogtour #bookreview #publicationday

Delighted to host a stop on publication day for The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my beautiful review copy.

Author : Harriet Evans
Title : The Garden of Lost and Found
Pages : 480
Publisher : Headline
Publication date : April 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and Found days before his sudden death.

Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted ‘The Garden of Lost and Found’, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.

One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…

When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.

Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?

| MY THOUGHTS |

It’s been a while since I read a family saga but I was quickly reminded of why they make such engrossing stories. Especially when they are as brilliantly written as this one. It took just a few pages for me to be swept along and become absolutely captivated.

The Garden of Lost and Found is centred around the Horner family and a painting. Ned Horner used to be quite the well-known artist and “The Garden of Lost and Found” was his masterpiece. It captured his children on a beautiful day, playing in the garden of their beloved home, Nightingale House. But in 1919, a few days before his death, Ned destroys the painting.

Now, Ned’s great-granddaughter Juliet returns to Nightingale House for the first time since her grandmother died. True to form, there are a lot of family secrets to discover but most importantly, there is a mystery to be solved. Because what could possibly have driven Ned to destroy his most famous painting?

The Garden of Lost and Found is full of complex characters, some a bit more flawed and unlikeable than others, yet all incredibly realistic and believable. For most of the novel, I was mostly drawn to the chapters set in the past. I suspect that’s the crime fiction lover in me, who was desperately trying to figure out the answers before Juliet did in the modern day setting. And to be quite fair, her children drove me up the wall. Yet it also brought home how different things were generations back when the kind of behaviour they display wouldn’t have been tolerated for a second.

Despite having had The Wildflowers on my shelf for the longest time, this was my first introduction to Harriet Evans. I really enjoyed her writing style as it’s beautifully descriptive. At times it felt as if I was right there at Nightingale House, hearing the rain patter on the windows, smelling the glorious scents from the garden, maybe even hear a mouse skitter across the floorboards.

At almost 500 pages, this isn’t exactly a quick read but at no point did it drag or become boring. It never felt like a long book as I became completely immersed and invested in these characters’ lives, losing myself within the pages. The Garden of Lost and Found is an engrossing, enchanting and sometimes emotional story about family, love and secrets. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with these characters and I will definitely be reading more by Harriet Evans.

The Garden of Lost and Found is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Harriet Evans is the author, Going Home, A Hopeless Romantic, The Love of Her Life, I Remember You, Love Always, Happily Ever After and Not Without You. Before becoming a full time writer Harriet was a successful editor for a London publishing house. She lives in London with her family.

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe | @EburyPublishing @Tr4cyF3nt0n | #blogtour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe. My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the opportunity to join and to the publisher for my review copy.

Author : Antonio Iturbe (translated by Lilit Zekulin Thwaites)
Title : The Librarian of Auschwitz
Pages : 432
Publisher : Ebury Publishing
Publication date : April 4, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Decades after the second World War has ended, so many stories remain untold and this is one of them. The Librarian of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Dita Kraus. At the age of fourteen, she and her parents find themselves in Auschwitz and Dita will become the secret librarian. Block 31 is where the children gather and one way or another, eight precious books have been accumulated. But books are dangerous because they make people think and if the Nazi’s were to find out about them, it would put everyone in danger. It’s up to Dita to make sure the books are kept safe at all cost.

No matter how many books you read about this incredibly disturbing era, it remains highly unsettling and heartbreaking. Life in the camp is harsh and almost impossible to fathom. Yet in the midst of all this despair, many held their heads up high, fought for survival, held on to hope and even tried to give children some kind of education. Obviously this was not allowed but the children kept this secret to themselves, singing silly songs when German soldiers were near and they even put on a show for the vile and despicable Josef Mengele.

This wasn’t the easiest of books to read. Apart from the topic, it jumps around quite a bit between different characters and time frames so it requires your full attention. The line between fiction and non-fiction is quite blurry but I enjoyed that the author added dates and facts throughout the story. Dita is an amazing young girl. She’s determined, brave and perceptive and sometimes makes you forget she was barely fourteen years old. But the character that stood out for me to most was Fredy Hirsh but you’ll have to read the novel to learn more about him.

I love a novel that makes me think and makes me google. Because despite having read quite a few WWII stories over the years, I had never heard of Block 31. Although it’s not quite clear what the reasoning from the Nazi’s was to have a family camp and this particular Block 31, it did “good things”. Many children were somewhat more protected from the even more severe realities of the rest of the camp and they were given slightly more food which meant not one child died from malnutrition.

Sadly, it’s not surprising to know many of them will not live to see the end of the war. As Dita’s story about life in Auschwitz reaches its conclusion, it becomes increasingly more devastating. Do make sure you also read the author’s afterword and learn more about what became of some of the other characters/people. The Librarian of Auschwitz is a powerful, unforgettable and touching novel and Dita’s story will stay with me forever.

The Librarian of Auschwitz is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Antonio Iturbe lives in Spain, where he is both a novelist and a journalist. In researching The Librarian of Auschwitz, he interviewed Dita Kraus, the real-life librarian of Auschwitz.

Lilit Zekulin Thwaites is an award-winning literary translator. After thirty years as an academic at La Trobe University in Australia, she retired from teaching and now focuses primarily on her ongoing translation and research projects.