Heirs of Deceits by Elizabeth Reinach is a historical fiction story set in Victorian England. Sir Gilbert Stanley is a wealthy landowner and member of parliament who has left behind a string of abandoned women and illegitimate children. When the mothers died, the children were sent to live at a workhouse or fostered out to another family. Years later, Sir Gilbert does not acknowledge them as his children but takes them in to his household to work as servants at his country estate, Stanley Court. When his illegitimate son, Henry is murdered, will Sir Gilbert be able to discover who killed him? And what will become of his other children when the scandal of their illegitimacy is revealed?
This story had a unique structure that spanned a number of years, following several children from early childhood in to young adulthood. I liked how the author showed insight into the various trials faced by the characters. It was an interesting contrast to see the difference between the hardships in the lives of Sir Gilbert’s illegitimate children living in a workhouse compared to Lady Anne, who was raised in an aristocratic household. I enjoyed the elements of mystery in this story, reading all the different clues during the murder investigation and trying to put the pieces together to figure out the identity of the killer. I liked that the author included an epilogue showing how the lives of the characters turned out.
The story was divided into several parts and in the first part, where each chapter was focused on a different child’s early life experiences. In Part Two the story lines of the different children start to merge together. When the same events were told from more than one character’s perspective, the facts were not always consistent as is often the case when multiple people are retelling a story, everyone remembers things a little different. This adds a layer of realism to the story with the retelling from multiple perspectives.
Heirs of Deceits by Elizabeth Reinach is a wonderful period piece that highlights a common issue of the time when men often had illegitimate children but no one ever wanted to speak of them. While a work of fiction this book give a voice to those deemed illegitimate. With scandal and a riveting murder mystery this novel will entertain a diverse set of readers.
Pages: 244 | ASIN: B07T239B3B
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Carl Hare brings fresh purpose to epic poetry in the book Spenser (On the River of Time). Just like book 1, the author is exceptional with narration, description of events, and the direction the characters are taking. Everything from the arrangement of the cantos, the breaking down of the story, the construction of sentences, and the simplicity of lines is ideal. Carl Hare makes the reading experience fun and even more enjoyable for readers that are new to this genre. The length of the cantos is inviting for readers that appreciate short verses. The introduction of characters and how the narrative unfolds encourage one to read more.
In this book, the main story is focused on the life of poet Edmund Spenser. The poet worked for Queen Elizabeth I of England. The book touches on different aspects of Spenser’s life, his convictions, the journeys he took, and the many challenges he had to face. Through this man, we also see how service to authority and how respecting the powers that be affect one’s life. One notable element in this book is the use of a real historical figure in a work of fiction. The author blends every part of the book to elevate a real character in a fictitious work and in doing so creates an engaging story that is hard to put down.
The characters are emotive and easy to empathize with. Each Canto has a unique feeling. The author’s words are clear and I was able to understands the content in the lines without having to repeat the reading, a struggle for me with other works, but Carl Hare’s story is easy to approach. Spenser (On the River of Time) is everything historical fiction fans could want in an adventure story from a gilded age. I enjoyed the style of narration, and loved the edifying effect the book has on literature enthusiasts.
Pages: 435 | ASIN: B0852QN65G
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SCOTLAND’S FORGOTTEN HEROINE…
Daughter of The Chief of Clan Farquharson, young Anne was the envy of her peers… until she made the mistake of marrying for love!
The man she married was Angus Mackintosh – 22nd Chief of Clan Mackintosh and one of the most powerful men in the Scottish Highlands. At first, Anne was blissfully happy. But the year was 1745 and Bonnie Prince Charlie was about to step off a boat on the west coast of Scotland and plunge the nation into war.
Angus Mackintosh was a serving officer with the British Army and joined the brutal ranks of troops hunting the young prince down. To her horror, Anne realised she would have to choose between her husband and her country.
She raised a regiment of 500 men and joined the prince. This young woman, with little experience of combat, led her men into battle against regiments of the British Army led by “Butcher” Cumberland. As her clansmen fought their way through the fog at Dornoch, “Colonel” Anne Mackintosh was suddenly reunited with her husband… but not in the way she wanted.
Everything Anne did, during her hectic life, was for love. She married for love and then she picked up the broadsword for love. This novel follows her adventures through the chaotic events of the last Jacobite Rebellion on a sometimes heroic, sometimes tragic, journey that led her clansmen into clouds of sulphurous gunsmoke at The Battle of Culloden with bullets coming thick as the rain falling from the dark skies.
Brenna and Adara are twins living in England that spend their days with tutors and fancy automated machines. When not working on their schooling they’re reading from the Grimoire. From the Grimoire they learn of the Elemental Gods and pretend they were them. It wasn’t until they moved to Massachusetts that they began to realize they were different. On their first day of school they meet twin boys, Dimitri and Wyndham that share their same last name, Devins, as well as strange white streaks of hair. From there they realize they all have over-sized pets, a toad, lizard, owl and rat that just found the children and attached themselves to them. Slowly as they get to know each other they develop strange powers, telepathy, the ability to control elements, and the mysterious Grimoire that each has a part of starts morphing before their eyes. What does it all mean? How are they connected? Why are strange things happening to them? What happens when the stories they read as children suddenly start coming to life?
Children of the Elements by Ora Wanders, is set in a steampunk reality of the semi modern world. There are parts that remind me of early frontier times, the one room school house, the simple country life, but then she adds in the steampunk elements of automated machinery and clothing choices. It is a mix of modern and old and blends together in a fascinating way that makes sense to the story line. Each set of twins have similar backgrounds, only one parent, both moving from homes with lots of machinery to a simpler life and only bringing a few things with them, the Grimoire that seems incomplete to each set. When they meet, it is literally like puzzle pieces fitting together. The story is exceptionally well written and everything flows naturally and story elements occur organically. I could picture the characters clearly, the bickering and playing around that you expect from young adults comes out. I found it all relatable, even in the magical setting.
This was a book that I didn’t want to put down. The plot moves quickly, the character development is integrated with the plot, so you’re not weighed down with back stories and character development early on. All that information comes out as you meet the characters and see them interacting with their pets, teacher, and each other. They are typical teenagers with attitudes and short tempers, but you see them grow from the early pages to the end. Without giving away key elements, I can say that all four children are able to grow and see their potential while still retaining a child like wonder of the world. It has all the elements a reader of fantasy could want; magic, conflict, family drama, growth, and an open ending to continue the saga.
One of the most amazing things about this novel is the author. Ora Wanders is only ten years old! I could not believe this when I finished the novel and wanted to learn more about the author because I loved the book that much. I am looking forward to the second book in the series and much more from this amazing young lady.
Pages: 310 | ISBN: 1797718002
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A Most Diabolical Plot is a collection of six Sherlock Holmes stories that perfectly fit the originals style. What draws you to the Sherlock Holmes mystery novels and their style of storytelling?
I first read the Sherlock Holmes ‘canon’ (the Arthur Conan Doyle originals) when I was at Elizabeth College, a boarding school in the British Crown Dependency of Guernsey, built in 1563. I must have been around 12 years of age. Although this was many decades after Conan Doyle penned his last story, life in a boarding school on a small island off the French coast was recognisably Edwardian in atmosphere. When the prefect or housemaster
turned off the dormitory lights and warned us not to talk any more, I retrieved a torch (flashlight) from under the mattress and spent an hour or so with Holmes and Watson while they encountered mastermind criminals (Professor Moriarty) and some downright East End thugs who would kill them as soon as look at them. Perfect escape from the rigours and routine of life at the college. In turn, my full-length novels are adventures equally designed to offer readers hours of sheer escape. ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Case Of The Bulgarian Codex’ takes place deep in the turbulent Balkans, ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Mystery of Einstein’s Daughter’ also takes the resolute investigators into the Balkans – Serbia – via a short stay in Switzerland. ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Sword of Osman’ finds them entering the hurry and scurry and paranoia of magnificent Constantinople in the bizarre last years of the Ottoman Empire and Sultanate. ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Nine-Dragon Sigil’ takes them even further afield, into the mysterious streets and colourful roofs of Peking’s Forbidden City’
What were some sources of inspiration for you while writing the stories in this new collection?
A reader in the United States wrote to me saying he enjoyed reading my novels but how about some more adventures set exclusively in England, with London’s mists, Watson’s Gentlemen’s clubs, 221B, Baker Street and so on? So in ‘A Most Diabolical Plot’ all six adventures take place almost exclusively in England. I describe them in the Introduction as follows:
‘The title story, A Most Diabolical Plot, involves the dastardly Colonel Moran hiding away on the borders of Suffolk and Essex, plotting a grisly death for his arch-enemy Sherlock Holmes. Holmes and Watson criss-cross England during those near-fabled days when Queen Victoria sat on the throne of Britain’s immense Empire, followed by her son Edward V11 and in turn her grandson George V. The spooky The Ghost Of Dorset House takes place in London’s expensive Mayfair district. Die Weisse Frau finds the pair caught up with horses, spies and Zeppelins in the midst of the Great War in the Wiltshire countryside not far from Stonehenge. The Mystery Of The Missing Artefacts opens with Watson a prisoner of war in the Ottoman Sultan’s Palace but moves quickly to the British Museum and the small village of Battle in deepest Sussex. The Pegasus Affair, a story of treachery, begins after Watson finds an envelope on the hall table at his Marylebone Medical Practice containing a cutting from The Eastbourne. The final story, The Captain In The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, is set in an East Anglian university town (possibly Cambridge) and around Apsley House, the great Duke of Wellington’s mansion at Hyde Park Corner.’
You were able to capture Sir Arthur Conan Doyle style of storytelling, but what were some new things you wanted to bring to the genre?
I’m always keen to bring into every one of the adventures just how valuable dear old Dr. John H. Watson is to Holmes’s success. In the original Conan Doyle stories, at best Holmes seems to tolerate his amiable companion while deriding him so often, for example ‘You see, but you do not observe, Watson!’ Five or six years ago I came across a description of a real Englishman I believe is/was the perfect John Watson. I was on a train to London Charing Cross from my home in a valley in deepest East Sussex when I read The Crooked Scythe, an anthology of memories of men and women of a past era—farm labourers, shepherds, horsemen, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, sailors, fisherman, miners, maltsters, domestic servants. The introduction described the author George Ewart Evans as follows: ‘George was in his mid-fifties when I first saw him… upright and vigorous, with an open and friendly manner and a clear, piercing gaze. He looked the part of a countryman, in a tweed jacket, a hat also of tweed, drill trousers, and stout brown shoes. As I grew to know him, I discovered that he was sympathetic and generous with help and encouragement. He was intelligent and shrewd; his judgements, though seldom sharply expressed, were acute and rational. In conversation he was tolerant and unassertive, but it was soon clear he held independent views with firmness and conviction’.’
I’m certain this is how Watson’s many friends at The Traveller’s or the Junior United Services clubs and at the Gatwick races would have viewed him too, a man of gentility albeit of straitened financial means and no property. All of us should have friends who wear stout brown shoes.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have just finished a further quite lengthy short story set in Crete as the First World War approaches. It’s titled ‘The Case of the Seventeenth Monk’. The first chapter is titled ‘A Visitor Arrives at Dr. Watson’s Clinic.’ ‘The Whittington chimes of the grandfather clock flooded along the hallway. It was five o’clock. I was alone in the consulting-room of my medical practice in London’s fashionable Marylebone district. If no further patients came, I could soon stroll to the In and Out Naval and Military Club for Soup of the Day and Whitebait. I walked across to the window and stared out. A light drizzle put me into a contemplative mood. Some months had passed since, to the relief of the criminal underworld, my old friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes retired at the very height of his powers. The decision had taken me utterly by surprise.’
‘The Case Of The Seventeenth Monk’ will appear in the 2019 edition of The MX Book Of New Sherlock Holmes Stories.
In the year 1903 – the exact moment is now lost to history – Sherlock Holmes proclaimed to the world he was quitting England’s Capital to go into retirement on a small, wind-swept farm in the Sussex South Downs. His shocked comrade-in-arms Dr. John H. Watson was later to write, ‘The decision took me utterly by surprise. I thought I had become an institution around Holmes, like his Stradivarius, or the old, oily black clay pipe and his index books.’ Reluctantly Watson wrote up three recent cases yet unpublished and returned to his medical practice. Holmes retirement didn’t last long. Once more his faithful Amanuensis Watson took up his pen – and his Army Service revolver. The result was three more of the most intriguing cases ever undertaken by the famous pair. All six adventures have now been brought together in this special edition.
Posted in Interviews
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Midwife of Normandy follows young Clare as she struggles to save her family and career from France’s tyrannical king. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
An avid fan of history, I researched 17th century religious persecution of Huguenots by King Louis XIV and was surprised how few historical fiction novels had been set during this turbulent period (as opposed to numerous novels set in other times, like Tudor England.) I also noted that many historical fiction authors focused on women of royal or aristocratic blood as protagonists.
I wanted to do something different, so I created a Huguenot female protagonist, who rises from humble beginnings and dares to defy and outwit male authority, including the King’s soldiers.
After visiting Rouen and the beautiful countryside of Normandy, I felt certain this was the perfect location for my book.
I didn’t think being a midwife could be so interesting and this novel definitely caused me to look more into the profession. Why did you choose this profession for Clare in the story?
Let’s face facts; there weren’t many professional options available to 17th century women. It was widely held that their only proper role was marriage, absolute obedience to husbands, and bearing of children. Midwifery was almost exclusively performed by females, but was looked upon as a lowly trade.
In order to rise above her humble beginnings, Clare decides to offer her services, using a secret ancestral formula for pain-free birth, exclusively to wealthy members of the aristocracy who reward her handsomely, thereby turning midwifery into a lucrative profession.
Clare is a fascinating character that continued to develop as the story progressed. What were some themes you wanted to capture in Clare’s character?
Throughout history, women have struggled against many prejudices. What I set out to achieve was to create a strong, ambitious young woman who sought to control her own destiny. In a sense, Clare was an early pioneer for female equality in 17th century France, as she sought a career. However, she knew she was also obligated to marry in order to bear a female child to carry on her ancestral midwifery heritage.
At first, dewy-eyed young Clare is disappointed when her romantic childhood sweetheart leaves the country and she is coerced into marrying his older, dull brother. However, she turns out to be much stronger than her husband, even to the point of secretly using birth control until she decides the time is right for bearing children. And she is the one who must bravely plot their escape from France.
Another minor theme is the conflict a career woman faces between spending time with her children and working outside the home. A feeling of guilt. This balancing act continues through the present day, so it is a universal, contemporary theme.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
The second novel in the series, Lucina’s Destiny, is now available on Amazon.com. It follows the exciting adventures of Clare and her family as they settle in England.
On the brink of womanhood, she records in her journal the grand plan for her perfect life–marriage to the man she loves, renovation of mysterious Maison Dupres as her home, and a rewarding profession. The key to her plan lies in “the magic elixir,” her ancestors’ secret formula for pain-free childbirth, which she offers solely to wealthy aristocratic women.
But King Louis’ increasing pressure on Huguenots to convert to Catholicism shatters Clare’s dreams. Her lover forced to flee France, she is compelled to marry his boring brother. Then she is banned from practicing midwifery. Yearning to continue her profession coupled with fear that her children will be kidnapped by Papists, Clare tries to convince her stubborn husband to move to England, but he is blind to the growing menace. When danger lurks in the form of the King’s dreaded Dragonnade soldiers, she must summon all her strength and determination to save her family.
Can Clare succeed in getting her family safely out of France before it is too late?
Posted in Interviews
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Carole Penfield gives readers a realistic and interesting piece of historical fiction in The Midwife of Normandy. The story opens with Clare, who finds herself in the cargo hold of a ship along with her family. It is the late 1600’s and they are sneaking out of France to England, where Protestants are not persecuted, and she can continue her midwifery practice. We have no idea what preceded her current state of affairs until we are transported back to her youth and the very first day she received her journal. We learn about Clare’s upbringing and the strong tradition of midwifery in her family, along with the history of disapproving husbands. It is not long before Clare herself is ready for training and eventually ready to take over the practice. It is also not long before she acquires a disapproving husband of her own.
Penfield creates a beautiful and flowing story with elements of history, romance, and story-telling brought together by a colorful cast of characters. Clare is a strong female lead, dealing with issues that are timeless. I love that her family has such a passion for helping other women and will stop at nothing to do so. The history behind this story is interesting and lead me to further research, which is one thing I really love about pieces of historical fiction. I thought the author could have included more realistic dialogue to the times, but I understand that just wasn’t the direction she went with this piece.
Her characters are fantastic and add richness to the story, as all good characters do. There are characters with a dark side and those who even it out with some comedy and levity. Penfield is a self-proclaimed lover of Jane Austen and weaves elements of that authors works into her story. She challenges other Austen fans to find little hidden tidbits throughout the story that are Austen-inspired.
The juxtaposition of a personal story of feminine struggle for power and equality with the story of a religious group struggling with the same issue is an interesting one. These are themes that have manifested throughout history and continue to be real struggles so I thought this book felt modern despite its historical setting.
Penfield did a beautiful job with this story. I was entertained and interested throughout and even learned new history! I look forward to reading more books in this series!
Pages: 325 | ASIN: B01M7Q93OO
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There is a warm feeling that embraces you the moment you land on the first page. The author narrates her stories in a manner that makes the reader feel like they belong. Her wording is amazing and she used the most appropriate phrases in her explanations. The book starts with the writer sharing her childhood story of being born in England. Being the ninth child of a family of ten children, she knew early that she had to be aware of self as she was born into her crowd. She goes on to talk about her life; her family emigrated to Australia then to New Zealand. She also talks about getting children in her early twenties, selling her home, buying a yacht and sailing from New Zealand to England.
The writer talks about being distressed, going through emotional agony, feeling guilty, going through betrayal and experiencing grief. It was not easy for her. Even with the trauma that Linda K. Ford went through, she was able to emerge strong in the end. I admire her attitude and perspective on life. There is a lot of wise words she shared throughout the book.
On inaccuracies of thoughts, the author discusses how we respond to the situations we are faced with on a daily basis. The author says that each one of us has the potential to experience happiness. We all can be cheerful at all times. Life is supposed to be joyful. Our past sometimes restricts us from experiencing infinite joy. I loved that in between the lines, the author posed questions for the reader to ponder over. Trauma is never a good thing. A troubling past can haunt you for years, making you feel like life is not worth it. The author also mentioned that the stronger one is emotional, the deeper they are bound to sink. How unfortunate that must be.
Her style of giving real-life example when explaining a topic is what made me enjoy this book. One of my favorite parts of the book was the chapter where she explained mental versus physical tiredness. Both are draining and can break a person. At the end of it all, the author assured the reader that there is still some hope. Don’t sit and be depressed about things that you can’t change. Life may not be a walk in the park, but there are instances and people who make our life in this universe worthwhile. When you get emotional, look for things that work for you. Talk to people who care, read a book, watch your favorite TV show, engage in a simple physical exercise; don’t just sit with a dark cloud hovering around you.
Decrypto: Unlock Your Life Journey is a book everyone who is on a quest to discover self should read. The words shared are a gem. The author enables the reader to have some hope even when things don’t go as planned.
Pages: 164 | ISBN: 0648299007
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