The Jane Seymour Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh – Book review

The Jane Seymour Conspiracy, the fourth book in the Marquess House Saga by Alexandra Walsh has an unique take on the Tudor dynasty, here is my review of this brilliant historical fiction.

London, 1527
Jane Seymour arrives at court to take her place with Queen Katherine of Aragon. Discovering a court already beginning to divide into factions between Katherine and Jane’s second cousin, Anne Boleyn, Jane finds herself caught between the old world and the new.
When King Henry VIII finally succeeds in his pursuit of Anne, Jane witnesses the slow unravelling of his interest in the new queen as she, too, fails in her task to deliver a son. Having watched both Katherine and Anne fall from grace, Jane has no ambition for the throne, but when the king begins seeking her out, Jane realises the decision may be out of her hands…
Pembrokeshire, 2020
When a set of papers called The Pentagram Manuscript makes its way to Perdita and Piper at Marquess House, they find they have a new mystery to unravel. The manuscript is the tale of five women on a quest to find true love, written while Anne Boleyn was queen. As Perdita begins to unravel the text, she discovers a code that leads to a whole new outlook on Henry’s relationship with Jane Seymour but puts her loved ones in danger.

Review

I had to remind myself a few times when reading The Jane Seymour Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh that this was fiction. I read it one sitting to find out what happens to Jane Seymour even though I know what actually happened to Jane Seymour!          

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A Lady’s Guide to Death and Deception by Katharine Cowley- blog tour and book review

I’m so pleased to be part of the blog tour for The Lady’s  Guide to Death and Deception by Katherine Cowley featuring Mary Bennet as a deadly but respectable spy.

Series: The Secret Life of Mary Bennet

Genre: Historical Mystery, Historical Romance, Austenesque

Publisher: ‎Tule Publishing Group, LLC (September 6, 2022)

Length: (368) pages

BOOK DESCRIPTION

What is a spy willing to do when both her heart and her country are at risk?

Life changes once again for British spy Miss Mary Bennet when Napoleon Bonaparte escapes from the Isle of Elba. Mary quickly departs England for Brussels, the city where the Allied forces prepare for war against the French. But shortly after her arrival, one of the Duke of Wellington best officers is murdered, an event which threatens to break the delicate alliance between the Allies. Investigating the murder forces Mary into precarious levels of espionage, role-playing, and deception with her new partner, Mr. Withrow-the nephew and heir of her prominent sponsor, and the spy with whom she often at odds. Together, they court danger and discovery as they play dual roles gathering intelligence for the British. But soon Mary realizes that her growing feelings towards Mr. Withrow put her heart in as much danger as her life. And then there’s another murder.

Mary will need to unmask the murderer before more people are killed, but can she do so and remain hidden in the background?

Book review

I was intrigued by the blurb for the Lady’s Guide to Death and Deception by Katharine Cowley- the idea of the prim and pious Mary Bennett from Pride and Prejudice as an undercover spy during the Napoleonic wars seemed far-fetched. But I have to say the author has pulled this off and keeps Mary true to her character.

Continue reading “A Lady’s Guide to Death and Deception by Katharine Cowley- blog tour and book review”

Death at the Manor by Katharine Schellman- book review

I enjoyed this Regency mystery featuring a locked room murder, ghosts, and touch of gothic romance. My review of Death of Romance by Katharine Schellman.

Genre: Historical crime

Series: Lily Adler Mystery #3

Publication Date :9th of August 2022

Source: NetGalley and Crooked Lane Publishers

Lily Adler is looking forward to spending some time with her Aunt Eliza with her friends Lady and Lord Carroway ( Ofelia and Ned)  but instead, she is embroiled in a strange murder that appears to be committed by a ghost at the nearby Belleford manor. Can Lily solve the murder with her friends while dealing with her feelings for Mr Spencer?

I received a copy of this book for a free and unbiased opinion

Review

This is the third book in the Lily Adler Mystery series, but I was able to get into the story and the characters without having read the previous two books. The book is told from a few points of view which makes the story a lot more compelling.

 I loved the diverse range of characters in the book that naturally blended into the story and the expected prejudices are present but overall I loved how the characters in the book were able to accept Ofelia’s mixed-race descent. If anything, Ofelia’s difference from the other people in the village is her noble status.

Continue reading “Death at the Manor by Katharine Schellman- book review”

Codename Madeline by Barnaby Jameson- blog tour and book review

I’m so pleased to be part of the blog tour for this historical fiction featuring World War two spy Noor Inayat Khan in Codename Madeline by Barnaby Jameson.

Inspired by the incredible true story of Noor Inayat Khan, a British resistance agent who served behind enemy lines in France in WWII as part of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), CODENAME: MADELEINE is the most unexpected spy story ever told. The daughter of a Sufi mystic and writer of children’s stories, Noor Inayat Khan was a harpist before she joined SOE and embarked on one of the most dangerous operations of WWII.  Arriving in Occupied Paris in 1943, she swapped her harp for a revolver, a cyanide pill and a clandestine Morse transmitter. Teeming with tigers, zeppelins, elephants, U-boats, angels, assassins, chessmen, cyanide, beetles, butterflies and Rumi, CODENAME: MADELEINE revolves between Paris, London, Prague, India and Latin America. A kaleidoscope of love, war, music, betrayal, poetry and resistance, CODENAME: MADELEINE is the richly detailed, atmospheric and meticulously researched debut from leading counter-terrorism QC, Barnaby Jameson.

Review

I received a copy of this book for a free and an honest review.

I confess, the first time I heard of Noor Inayat Khan was on an episode of Dr Who a few years ago and added her to a list of people I needed to read about. So, I was glad when the opportunity to review Codename Madeline by Barnaby Jameson came along.

The author has extensively researched the history behind Codename Madeline and his writing brings this to life. The prose is intricate with little details that highlight the daily life during the war and touches of poetry and philosophical quotes. The story picks up pace when Noor signs up to fight in World War two and I enjoyed the descriptions of her training.

Even though I knew what Noor’s overall fate was, I still felt the tension in the chapters describing Noor’s time in Paris trying to evade the Gestapo.

The chapters from the point of views of Admiral Canaris, the German General, Morel a French Solider and Marks, a code maker and breaker add additional depth to Noor’s story.

Content Warning

Descriptions of torture

About the Author

Barnaby Jameson is a QC with expertise in counter-terrorism involving Neo-Nazi terrorist groups and Islamic State. He has been involved in some of the most notorious terrorist cases of the century including plots to overthrow governments, plots to assassinate MPs and terrorist bombings in the UK and overseas.  His work has brought him into contact with clandestine agencies around the globe. CODENAME: MADELEINE is Barnaby’s first book in The Resistance series.

Bonny and Read by Julie Walker- Book review

I couldn’t resist this historical fiction about the loves and lives of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, the fierce, female pirates in 1720. My review of Bonny and Read by Julie Walker.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication date: 2nd August 2022

Source: with thanks to Publisher Hodder books and NetGalley

Plantation owner’s daughter, runaway wife, pirate – Anne Bonny has forged her own story in a man’s world. But when she is involved in the capture of a British merchant ship, she is amazed to find another woman amongst the crew, with a history as unconventional as her own. Dressed as a boy from childhood, Mary Read has been a soldier, a sailor, a widow – but never a woman in charge of her own destiny.
As their exhilarating, tumultuous exploits find fame, the ballad of Bonny and Read is sung from shore to shore – but when you swim against the tide of history, freedom is a dangerous thing.

Review

I can’t resist a book, film or TV show about pirates and when I saw this title on NetGalley- I knew I had to read this and I wasn’t disappointed.

I received a copy of this book for a free and unbiased review

This book is told from the points of view of Anne and Mary in the third person. Their voices are strong and interesting. I loved how the author portrayed them as women who turned to piracy because they are women ahead of their time. These women choose a life on the sea to be free from society’s expectations of them rather than being victims or forced into a life on the sea.

Anne runs away from a husband she married in haste by joining Jack Ratham and his crew on his pirate ship. Mary, who dresses as a man has served as a man in the army and later joins the Navy as a widow dressed as a man. She gleefully joins Anne and Jack when her ship is boarded and finds out one of the pirates is quite clearly a pirate. 

I particularly liked the relationship between Anne and Mary grows into a strong friendship with no resentment or jealousy. The book doesn’t shy away from Bonny’s violence and her lack of empathy for the people around her or Read’s reaction to this.

The story does slow a bit towards the middle but picks up towards the end( the fate of most of the pirates shouldn’t come as a surprise. I noticed a lack of historical notes in the book but thankfully google came to the rescue.

Perfect for fans of

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction with strong women or anyone who loves reading about pirates. Black Sails, the TV show.

Content warning

Stillbirth

Half a soul by Olivia Atwater- Book review

I enjoyed Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater, a romantic fantasy set in Regency England featuring a heroine with half a soul, a grumpy magician, meddling guardians, dances and faeries. Here is my review.

Series Regency Faeries Book #1

Genre: Fantasy

Source: NetGalley and Publishers Little Brown and Orbit

Publication date: 30th June 2022

‘Ever since she was cursed by a faerie, Theodora Ettings has had no sense of fear or embarrassment – a condition which makes her prone to accidental scandal. Dora hopes to be a quiet, sensible wallflower during the London Season – but when the strange, handsome and utterly uncouth Lord Sorcier discovers her condition, she is instead drawn into dangerous and peculiar faerie affairs.
If Dora’s reputation can survive both her curse and her sudden connection with the least-liked man in all of high society, then she may yet reclaim her normal place in the world. . . but the longer Dora spends with Elias Wilder, the more she begins to suspect that one may indeed fall in love, even with only half a soul.

Review

I received a copy of this book for a free and unbiased opinion.

I enjoyed this romantic fantasy- Half a Soul by Olvia Atwater was lovely and entertaining read.

Continue reading “Half a soul by Olivia Atwater- Book review”

A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari- Book review

I enjoyed this murder mystery featuring a mystery solving botanist in the swinging twenties. Here is my review of A Botanists Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari

Genre: Historical fiction/ historical crime

Series: Saffron Everleigh Mysteries

Publication Date :June 2022

Source: Thank you  NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books

London, 1923. Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh attends a dinner party for the University College of London. While she expects to engage in conversations about the university’s large expedition to the Amazon,  one of the professors’ wives to drop to the floor, poisoned by an unknown toxin.
Dr. Maxwell, Saffron’s mentor, is the main suspect, having had an explosive argument with Dr. Henry a few days prior. As evidence mounts against Dr. Maxwell and the expedition’s departure draws nearer, Saffron realizes if she wants her mentor’s name cleared, she’ll have to do it herself.
Joined by Alexander Ashton, a fellow researcher, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons. Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list?

Review

I was pleased to be approved for a copy of this murder mystery for a free, unbiased and honest opinion. 

 Saffron aspires to run her own study but this isn’t likely to happen in 1920s London, no matter how hard she tries. So when her only champion and mentor is accused of attempted murder she has no choice but to solve the crime with her knowledge of plants.

Continue reading “A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari- Book review”

Miss Morton and the English House Party Murder by Catherine Lloyd- Book Review

I enjoyed this mystery set in Regency England featuring a huge cast of suspects, strange murders and the house party from Hell. Here’s my review of Miss Morton and the English House Party Murder by Catherine Lloyd.

Genre: Historical Crime

Source: Kensington books and Net Galley

Publication Date: 31st May 2022

The options for the penniless daughter of a deceased earl are few indeed in Regency England. So, Lady Caroline takes a post as a lady’s companion to the wealthy widow Frogerton.
Just as Caroline is getting accustomed to her new position, her aunt invites her and her employer to a house party in the countryside to celebrate her youngest daughter’s birthday.
But all is not well at the Greenwood estate after a series of troubling harassments of the staff, an elderly family member is found stabbed by a knitting needle.
As Caroline and Mrs. Frogerton attempt to solve the  crime, they discover the culprit  leaving bizarre clues as to who will be next in the nursery. But they must make haste, for this heartless killer is engaged in anything but child’s play…

Review

I enjoyed Miss Morton and the English House Party Murder by Catherine Taylor, a not quite so cosy murder mystery set in the traditional setting of Greenwood, an English manor house. But while the book may look like a traditional cosy mystery there are dark, modern themes running through the book that might surprise anyone looking for a typical cosy crime.

Continue reading “Miss Morton and the English House Party Murder by Catherine Lloyd- Book Review”

Dead in the Water by Mark Ellis – Book review/Blog Tour

I’m so pleased to be part of the Midas #blogtour for Dead in the Water by Mark Ellis historical crime set in 1942 London.

The Second World War rages on but Britain now faces the Nazi threat with America at its side. In a bombed-out London swarming with gangsters and spies, DCI Frank Merlin continues his battle against rampant wartime crime. A mangled body is found in the Thames just as some items of priceless art go mysteriously missing. What sinister connection links the two? Merlin and his team follow a twisting trail of secrets as they investigate a baffling and deadly puzzle.

Review

I love reading historical fiction but I don’t really read a lot of crime fiction set in World war 2 but after reading  Dead in the  Water by Mark Ellis, I think I will read more( luckily Dead in the Water is part of a series featuring  DCI Frank Merlin).

Continue reading “Dead in the Water by Mark Ellis – Book review/Blog Tour”

Top Ten Tuesday-  Quotes from the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett

It’s another Tuesday and another Top Ten Tuesday. This time it’s memorable quotes around a particular theme, so how could I resist quotes from the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

When I thought of this TTT I could only imagine Dorothy Dunnett  and her amazing ability as an author in the historical fiction series The Lymond Chronicles ( series review here) so here we go.

“I despised men who accepted their fate. I shaped mine twenty times and had it broken twenty times in my hands.”   

Game of Kings

“Habits are the ruin of ambition, of initiative, of imagination

Game of Kings

“The coast’s a jungle of Moors, Turks, Jews, renegades from all over Europe, sitting in palaces built from the sale of Christian slaves. There are twenty thousand men, women and children in the bagnios of Algiers alone. I am not going to make it twenty thousand and one because your mother didn’t allow you to keep rabbits, or whatever is at the root of your unshakable fixation.”

“I had weasels instead,” said Philippa shortly.

“Good God,” said Lymond, looking at her. “That explains a lot.”
Pawn in Frankincense

“I have learned,’ said Lymond, ‘that kindness without love is no kindness.”

Pawn in Frankincense

“I never expect anything,’ said Marthe. ‘It provides a level, low-pitched existence with no disappointments.

Pawn in Frankincense

“He has to perfection, M. le Comte, the art of living his private life with as much public attention as possible.”

Pawn in Frankincense

“I would give you my soul in a blackberry pie; and a knife to cut it with. Disorderly knights”

Pawn in Frankincense

“A Scott, having got his bride pregnant, was apt to file her as completed business for eight months at a time.”

Disorderly Knights

“Though whether the mass murder of strangers for one’s principles ranks higher in virtue than attacking one’s neighbours for the hell of it is a point I’m glad I don’t have to settle.

Disorderly Knights

“My son took many years to learn the simple truth. You cannot love any one person adequately until you have made friends with the rest of the human race also. Adult love demands qualities which cannot be learned living in a vacuum of resentment.” 

Checkmate

“Intolerance drunk is bad enough, but intolerance sober is quite insupportable.”

Checkmate

“It is not enough,’ Robert Reid said, ‘to offer justice. The laws of men, the laws of God himself are not enough unless you know the heart, the tongue, the brain, the gut of your people.” Checkmate

Checkmate

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