The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley- Book Blog/Book Review

I’m so pleased to be part of the Random Things Tours blog tour for The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley- historical fiction set during the Jacobite revolution with a love story at its heart.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series:  Slains (but can be read as a standalone )

Publication Date: 28th April 2022

Autumn, 1707. Old enemies from the Highlands to the Borders are finding common ground as they join to protest the new Union with England, the French are preparing to launch an invasion to carry the young exiled Jacobite king back to Scotland to reclaim his throne, and in Edinburgh the streets are filled with discontent and danger. Queen Anne’s commissioners, seeking to calm the situation, have begun settling the losses and wages owed to those Scots who took part in the disastrous Darien expedition eight years earlier. When Lily, the young widow of a Darien sailor, comes forward to collect her husband’s wages, her claim is challenged, and one of the men who’s assigned to examine her has only days to decide if she’s honest, or if his own feelings are making him blind to the truth, and if he’s being used as a pawn in an even more treacherous game.

Review

I have to make a confession- this is the first Sussana Kearsley I have read and after reading The Vanished Days it won’t be the last. I couldn’t put this book down and found myself immersed in dangerous Scotland in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

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Elizabeth OF York -Alison Weir- Blog tour/Book review

I’m so pleased to be part of the Random Things Tours for Elizabeth of York by Alison Weir , historical fiction set in the War of the Roses following the life of Elizabeth, The Last White Rose.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Tudor Rose Trilogy

Source: Received with thanks from Headline publishers and Random Things Tours

An English Princess, born into a war between two families. Eldest daughter of the royal House of York, Elizabeth dreams of a crown to call her own. But when her beloved father, King Edward, dies suddenly, her destiny is rewritten. Her family’s enemies close in. Two young princes are murdered in the Tower. Then her uncle seizes power – and vows to make Elizabeth his queen. But another claimant seeks the throne, the upstart son of the rival royal House of Lancaster. Marriage to this Henry Tudor would unite the white rose of York and the red of Lancaster – and change everything. A great new age awaits. Now Elizabeth must choose her allies – and husband – wisely, and fight for her right to rule.

Review

I always enjoy readings books set during The War of the Roses, an English civil war between the House of York and The House of Lancaster and have read so many. So, I was pleased to be part of the tour for Elizabeth of York: The Last White Rose, one of the key but rarely heard who influenced the course of history.

Would that I had been born a boy,’ Elizabeth sighed. ‘Although, if I had, I would likely be dead!

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The Carnival of Ash by Tom Beckerlegge- book tour and review

I’m so pleased to be part of the Write Reads tours for The Carnival of Ash by Tom Beckerlegge- a literary fantasy full of intrigue, drama, and evil poets.

Genre: Alternate History, Literary fantasy

Source: Rebellion Publishers for a free and unbiased review.

Cadenza is the City of Words, a city run by poets, its skyline dominated by the steepled towers of its libraries, its heart beating to the stamp and thrum of the printing presses in the Printing Quarter.
Carlo Mazzoni, a young wordsmith arrives at the city gates intent on making his name as the bells ring out with the news of the death of the city’s poet-leader. Instead, he finds himself embroiled with the intrigues of a city in turmoil, the looming prospect of war with their rival Venice ever-present. A war that threatens not only to destroy Cadenza but remove it from history altogether

Review

I have to confess I was expecting a proper fantasy but once I got my head round the fact this was more literary alternative historical fiction I found myself immersed in this weird world.

 Anyone who loves reading, books or poetry will love the world created by Tom Beckerlegge. Cadenza is a city where its leaders are chosen for their skills as a poet and duels are fought with poetry with a unique societal structure based on your literary skill. But if you thought a society based on words would be kinder and fairer, then you are mistaken.

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Belle Nash and the Bath Souffle by William Keeling- book review

Here is my review of historical fiction Belle Nash and the Bath Souffle by William Keeling- an intriguing and humorous slice of social fiction in 1830s Bath.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: The Gay street Chronicles

Source: Received with thanks from the publisher

When Gaia Champion’s souffle fails to rise in 1830s Bath, it sets off a chain of events that overthrows the settled order. Centred on the personality of local councillor and bachelor extraordinaire Bellerophon ‘Belle’ Nash, this first volume of The Gay Street Chronicles engages with social issues that were emerging in the early days of Queen Victoria’s reign and still require our close attention today. A recurring cast of whimsical characters brings a gentle humour to the writing and to the strong feminist activism of Bath’s first Lady Magistrate.

Book Review

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

This is a book about a souffle, that failed to rise. But this particular souffle that didn’t make it to the dinner Gaia Champion’s dinner party leads to ravelling of corruption from the lowest to the highest level of the judiciary, the fight for women’s rights and highlights the injustices faced by the Bachelors of Bath in the 1830s

This historical fiction is full of unforgettable and delightfully quirky characters from the confirmed bachelor Belle Nash to the Mrs Mulligatawny the cook, which makes this book stand out. Belle Nash and Gaia make a great pair of crusading heroes battling each injustice.

Despite the humour, this book tackles social issues that have relevance today including corruption, attitudes to women and people who don’t fit the heterosexual norm. I found myself worrying about the fate of some of the characters when they were arrested and thrown into jail for the most trivial of reasons without an expectation of a fair trial. 

I was expecting a cosy murder or mystery, but I enjoyed reading about a period of history not usually written about in historical fiction. I particularly enjoyed the sometimes laugh out of loud humour as well learning about society in 1830s Bath.

I look forward to reading more of Belle Nash and Gaia Champion’s crusades in the future.

Perfect for Fans of

I haven’t read anything like this but it would appeal to anyone who enjoys historical fiction that isn’t about Royalty or angsty romance.

Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May- Book review

A Sapphic love story with forbidden magic, witches, secrets, and drama set in an alternate England where magic is forbidden. Read my review of Wild and Wicked things by Francesca May.

Genre: Fantasy, magic realism

Publication Date: 31 March 2022

Source Net Galley

 In an alternate post World War One Britain, where everyone knows about but is prohibited from practising magic, Annie has been summoned to Crow Island to sort out her late father’s affairs. Annie discovers she knows less about her estranged father than she thought and discovers his secrets that shatter her world and she struggles to understand her own magic. She becomes embroiled in the drama that surrounds her best friend Bea and the magical attraction she feels towards her mysterious neighbour Emmeline. But will Annie survive the danger consuming her life on Crow Island when the punishment for magic is death?

Review

I received a copy of the book for a free and unbiased review.

This book is beautifully written- I fell in love with lyrical prose, the stories and the lush descriptions of magic and Crow Island. The world-building is detailed and dare I say realistic. If magic existed and was banned the descriptions of black-market magic, bootlegged parties, corruption and how normal people will skirt close to the law would be real.

The book is told from the point of view of Emmaline and Annie. Bea is not a point of view character but she is the person who drives the story forward through her actions and motivations.

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The Book of Perilous Dishes by Doina Rusti – Blog Tour and Book review

I’m so pleased to be part of the blog tour for The Book of Perilous Dishes by Doina Rusti historical fiction set in Bucharest featuring a book of magical recipes.

Genre: Historical Fiction/Literature In translation

Source: Random Things Tours

Translator: from Romanian by James Christian Brown

Bucharest, 1798. A slave-cook lives in Bucharest, sought after by everyone. His sublime cooking satisfies even the sophisticated tastes of the Prince, who lays claim to him, whisking him away to the Palace. However, no one knows that the cook has in his possession a witch’s recipe book, the Book of Perilous Dishes. His food can bring about damaging sincerity, forgetfulness, the gift of prediction, or hysterical laughter. And the rightful owner of this book is fourteen-year-old Pâtca, an adolescent initiated in the occult arts. Pâtca comes to Bucharest, to her uncle, Cuviosu Zaval, to recover this book, but she finds him dead, murdered, and the Book of Perilous Dishes has disappeared without a trace. All that Zaval has left her is a strange map…

The Book of Perilous Dishes follows the story of Pâtca, who uses her powers to avenge the death of her uncle and retrieve a magical recipe book left in his keeping which has been stolen by Silica the cook. Travelling from Romania to France and on to Germany to do so, Pâtca’s family’s true past and powers are revealed, as is her connection to Silica the cook…

Review

Recipe

Take a plucky fourteen-year-old orphan add a generous dose of world-building and atmosphere, mix in a coveted recipe book with a touch of peril and let the magical story unfold.

I don’t normally read literary fiction but after reading the Book of Perilous Dishes, I think I may be reading a lot more. The author ( and translator) builds a wonderful picture of Bucharest in 1798 with lush descriptions of the people, places and food.

The book manages to pack a lot in its 255 pages and describes life in 1798 Bucharest including witch hunts, slavery, murder mystery and the political turmoil of the time.

The fantasy elements are light but beautifully woven into the story. I was tickled by the idea of recipes that can cause interesting effects such as hysterical laughter, forgetfulness, prediction and my favourite damaging sincerity. The recipes in the book are beautifully described and well-researched by the author

Patca is the main point of view character, and we follow her story over two time periods, one in 1798 and then thirty years later. Patca relationships with the people she meets are touching and her story drives the book leading to an ending that is deeply satisfying and heart-warming and left an impression long after I finished the book.

Don’t forget to read the translator’s note at the start of the book which is fascinating in its own right!

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

Doina Rusti is among the most important contemporary Romanian writers and is widely appreciated for the epic force, originality, and erudition of her novels. Award winning and translated into many languages, she has written ten novels, including The Phantom in the Mill (2008), The Phanariot Manuscript (2015), and The Book of Perilous Dishes (2017). Doina lives in Bucharest and is a university professor and screenwriter. 

The Offing by Benjamin Myers – book review

A heart-warming, coming-of-age story in post-war Britain set in the North of England was just what I needed during these long, dark nights  I’m so glad I won this in a twitter giveaway. Read my review of The Offing by Benjamin Myers.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Prize in twitter giveaway

After all, there are only a few things truly worth fighting for: freedom, of course, and all that it brings with it. Poetry, perhaps, and a good glass of wine. A nice meal. Nature. Love, if you’re lucky.



One summer following the Second World War, Robert Appleyard sets out on foot from his Durham village. Sixteen and the son of a coal miner, he makes his way across the northern countryside until he reaches the former smuggling village of Robin Hood’s Bay. There he meets Dulcie, an eccentric, worldly, older woman who lives in a ramshackle cottage facing out to sea.

Staying with Dulcie, Robert’s life opens into one of rich food, sea-swimming, sunburn and poetry. The two come from different worlds, yet as the summer months pass, they form an unlikely friendship that will profoundly alter their futures.

Review

I won the US print version of The Offing in a twitter giveaway by the author, and I have to say the differences between the covers of the two versions are striking. I have copied a version of a blurb (I suspect, the UK one) instead of the one of the back of my version as it is so much more interesting and highlights the inherent joy in this book unlike the US version.

This a warm, optimistic coming of age story set-in post-war Britain with heart-warming friendship between sixteen-year-old, Robert, and a much older woman, Dulcie.

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The Spring of the Ram by Dorothy Dunnett- Book review

This is my second reading of  second book in Dorothy Dunnett’s historical fiction series House of Niccolo- The Spring of Ram and  yes, I missed loads the first time round. Here is my review.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Book 2 of the House of Niccolo series.

Source :My Own

In 1461, Nicholas is in Florence. Backed by none other than Cosimo de’ Medici, he will sail the Black Sea to Trebizond, last outpost of Byzantium, and the last jewel missing from the crown of the Ottoman Empire. But trouble lies ahead. Nicholas’s stepdaughter — at the tender age of thirteen — has eloped with his rival in trade: a Machiavellian Genoese who races ahead of Nicholas, sowing disaster at every port. And time is of the essence: Trebizond may fall to the Turks at any moment.

Review

The Spring of the Ram picks up after the end of Niccolo rising( review here) in 1461 where we learn that Nicholas believes himself to be the son of Simon St Pol- the cause of their enmity. His friends and allies are wary of Nicholas’s clever manipulations and have him on a short leash but are equally happy to follow through on his plans to make the Charetty company rich. But of course, his path is full of obstacles and people he has to conquer to fulfil his plan. Nicholas sets sail to Trebizond to trade but Doria, a rival merchant elopes with Catherine-Nicholas’s 13-year-old step-daughter sabotaging Nicholas’s plans at every opportunity.

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The York King by Amy License – Blog Tour.

I’m so pleased to be part of the Random Things Tours Blog tour for The York King by Amy License which continues Edward the Fourth’s story.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Volume two of the House of York Trilogy. Read the review of book One Son of York here

Source: Lume books and Random Things Tours

During the early years of his reign, Edward IV of York battles to bring peace and stability to the country, as Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, raises support in the north, attempting to return the Lancastrian king, Henry VI, to the throne.
The Earl of Warwick pursues a marriage alliance with France, determined to bring about a friendship between the two countries and suppress support for Lancaster.
Edward meets Elizabeth Woodville, daughter of a squire, and marries in a secret ceremony. With verbal agreements broken, friendships damaged and old divisions reappearing, Edward finds himself facing new enemies much closer to home.

Review.

This is the second book in the House of York Trilogy but you don’t need to have read the Son of York to read the York King,

I couldn’t put The York King down until I finished reading the last page despite the fact I knew exactly what was going to happen. The plot races along with plenty of action, drama and romance. It is hard to believe this is history and not epic fantasy.

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