Book Review: Emma’s Tapestry @IBlackthorn #historical #fiction #NextChapterPub

At the dawn of World War Two, German-born nurse Emma Taylor sits by the bedside of a Jewish heiress in London as she reminisces over her dear friend, Oscar Wilde.

As the story of Wilde unravels, so does Emma’s past. What really happened to her husband?

She’s taken back to her days in Singapore on the eve of World War One. To her disappointing marriage to a British export agent, her struggle to fit into colonial life and the need to hide her true identity.

Emma is caught up in history, the highs, the lows, the adventures. A deadly mutiny, terrifying rice riots and a confrontation with the Ku Klux Klan bring home, for all migrants, the fragility of belonging.

Emma’s Tapestry is an imaginative retelling of the remarkable life of the author’s great-grandmother.

My review

I loved Emma’s Tapestry, a historical tale with an imaginative aspect, from the beginning!

I was attracted to reading this historical novel as it’s set in London, partially in the Far East in Singapore (where I was born) and also in Japan. The main character, Emma, is from Philadelphia but with German origins.

There are so many aspects to this tale to keep you utterly enthralled from mentions of Oscar Wilde’s letter to Adela, (an elderly Jewish heiress with a fascinating life to tell,) the tapestry itself which is cleverly interwoven into the plot, details of Emma’s Mennonite faith, emotional scenes, fears, dangers and insecurities brought on by war, anti-German feeling, mentions of mediums and spiritualism, the sense of the divide between the rich and the poor in Expat countries – Emma’s reaction and empathy for the locals (she is a trained nurse) and the terrible loss of life following WW1 caused by the Spanish influenza.

I admire authors who write historical fiction (as it must involve so much painstaking research to get the details right.)

Throughout it all the main character Emma shines with a can do I won’t be beaten attitude.

I just loved Emma’s wonderful strength of character!

There’s mention of the trials and tribulations throughout the war years of WW1 and WW2, (and coping with Ernest, her merchant hubby, a dire excuse for a husband, ) and the evergrowing anti-German sentiment and fears for her safety and her children’s wellbeing given her German heritage.

I listened to this sweeping historical novel in Audible and loved every minute.

With its wonderful storyline which sweeps back and forth in diverse time periods and believable, well written and engaging characters.

There is a lovely epilogue explaining Isobel Blackthorn’s family background and the mysterious inspiration for writing this story, (a period in her maternal great grandparents lives, ) which is in itself all so fascinating!

A must read – An easy 5 stars.

To buy:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B091CSDB7V/

Author links:

https://twitter.com/IBlackthorn

https://www.facebook.com/Lovesick.Isobel.Blackthorn/

https://twitter.com/IBlackthorn

https://www.facebook.com/Lovesick.Isobel.Blackthorn/

www.isobelblackthorn.com

https://twitter.com/IBlackthorn

https://www.facebook.com/Lovesick.Isobel.Blackthorn/

www.isobelblackthorn.com

https://twitter.com/IBlackthorn

https://www.facebook.com/Lovesick.Isobel.Blackthorn/

http://www.isobelblackthorn.com

Links:

Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon

Next Chapter Publishing Author Page: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/mj-mallon

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17064826.M_J_Mallon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mjmallonauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mjmallonauthor/

#ABRSC: Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1829166787333493/

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/m-j-mallon


Blog: https://mjmallon.com/

Tree Fairies and Their Short Stories @dlfinnauthor #review #book

Tree Fairies and Their Short Stories by D.L. Finn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Daniel and Colette are holidaying in the redwood forest when they discover some real fairies! This is a sweet, magical tale with an important message to impart about how important it is for us to look after our world, recycle, nurture and not be greedy like poachers (and other uncaring people,) who have no respect for nature, or the damage they can do to the natural world by their carelessness.

There are lovely descriptive passages as well as engaging dialogues of the fairies, wise talking trees, and dragonfly. And an amusing section with a kingfisher!

I particularly loved the parts with the trees (and dragonfly,) as I love redwood trees and dragonflies! Redwoods are such spectacular trees and have a special magical quality.

This is a lovely short tale with a considerable amount to say in a short magical narrative.

And there is also a lovely poem – The Little Fairies – at the beginning which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Highly recommended.


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Book Review: When The Time Feels Right by Sarah Lithgow @AuthorLithgow

Lose yourself in this heart-warming chick lit of love, romance, family and friendship

‘The humour and attention to detail made the story come to life and seem real’

‘The story of Katie and Jack is warm with family, friendship and romance’

‘A book that takes you away from it all’

‘For the romantics amongst you, this book is a lovely, heartwarming read’

‘An amusing and romantic story perfect for brightening up a dull afternoon’

When Katie was fourteen, she met her brother’s best friend for the first time. He was good looking, funny and mischievous. What was there to dislike? The trouble was she never stopped liking him and now, in her twenties, her feelings had got stronger. There was no way she was going to tell him though. For a start, her brother wouldn’t like her going out with his best mate. And Jack? Well, he wouldn’t be interested. I mean, why would he, when his girlfriends were so much more glamorous than her?

Jack hadn’t thought of Katie as anything other than his best friend’s sister. At least he hadn’t, until the evening of her parents’ Christmas party. Now, he couldn’t get her out of his mind. But knowing what to do about it was the tricky part. His best mate would hate it if they got together. He was very protective of his sister and from the outset he’d told his friends they couldn’t date her. Not that that would happen anyway. I mean, she’d never shown any interest in him in the whole time that he’d known her so why would she want to go out with him now?

After countless missed opportunities, the time now felt right for them to let each other know. There was one problem, Jack was going to become a father. He didn’t have a reason to doubt this, so he had to move on, make a fresh start. Would the time ever be right for Katie and Jack or had they missed their chance?

When the Time Feels Right by Sarah Lithgow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is my first introduction to Sarah Lithgow and I really enjoyed When The Time Feels Right. It’s a light-hearted love story that will make you smile and bring back those angsty thoughts and tummy butterflies! Sweet, with engaging characters, and a nice story line. What’s not to like? I’d recommend if you like romances with a touch of humour, and a family touch (she falls for her brother’s friend!) Bit predictable in parts but one to enjoy when you want a nice, easy and fun romance read to cosy up to. A new author I believe, so hats off to her with this debut novel.



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Highly recommended.

Authors Website:
https://www.sarahlithgow.com/




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MJ’s Book Reviews: His Kidnapper’s Shoes @mjamesfiction #psychological #suspense #book #review

Daniel is my son. He has always been mine. And he always will be.

On some level deep inside, Laura Bateman knows something is wrong. That her relationship with her son is not what it should be. That it is based on lies.

But bad things have happened to Laura. Things that change a person. Forever.

For twenty-six-year-old Daniel, the discovery that his mother is not who he thought comes close to destroying him. As his world turns upside down, he searches for sanity in the madness that has become his life. Daniel is left with nothing but questions. Why did Laura do something so terrible? Can he move past the demons of his childhood?

And the biggest question of all: can he ever forgive Laura?

My review

His Kidnapper’s Shoes by Maggie James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is the first book I’ve read by Maggie James and I certainly enjoyed it.

It’s an emotional tale of Laura Bateman who is driven to steal someone else’s young child, the reasons why and the terrible impact on herself, Daniel (who’s now an adult,) and Daniel’s real family are all explored.

Can Daniel forgive the woman who kidnapped him? And what sad secrets is she keeping from him? And what terrible truth hasn’t he told her?

There are startling revelations, and emotional scenes with the story building up slowly but surely to its conclusion.

It’s a difficult one to comment on in detail without spoiling the story. But I didn’t quite buy into the girlfriend conundrum revelation at the beginning of the story. Some of the other details regarding Daniel’s life story and proclivities were more interesting to me.

This is for you if you enjoy psychological suspense with a strong emotional aspect, looking at both a female and male viewpoint (cleverly done,) as the story is written in dual point of view. The plot is simple, engaging and effective. The characters are damaged by the tragic circumstances of their lives and this is conveyed well. Laura Bateman’s certainty that her actions were justified creates an interesting and engaging aspect to the story.

Overall, an enjoyable read, which kept me turning the pages.

A recommended read – my rating 4 stars.

Thank you so much to the author for a copy. I freely give my unbiased and considered opinion.




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The Sky’m by @RichardDockett1 #Fantasy #book #review #recommended #read

Goodreads Synopsis:

Behave, or the Syk’m will come and take you away.

That was the threat hanging over my childhood, the terrifying punishment that made us all obedient.
As children, we were told that the Syk’m watched over us. Should we misbehave, they could do unimaginable things.

Because we were young and knew no better, the mere mention of their name was enough to control us. We went to bed, minded our manners, stopped our shouting. Although the Syk’m were mythical creatures, never seen, we all believed in their power over us.
Now that I’m older and wiser, I thought that I had outgrown the unseen terrors of my childhood. I thought that I no longer believed in the power of the Syk’m.
Then the day came when I discovered that the Syk’m were real. The day they found me. Their message was clear. Despite everything I had imagined, they needed my help.
It was the day I discovered that they were not the monsters we had all believed them to be. There were others in the universe.

My Review

Richard Dee just gets better and better!

I’ve had the pleasure of reading many of Richard’s books in different genres and I loved The Syk’m, his latest, first foray into fantasy – not surprising as fantasy is my favourite genre! And what a confident foray it is!

I particularly enjoy narratives that explore the idea of feared creatures not really being quite what they seem and The Syk’m has this off to a tee. The story introduces us to Hors Lawis, and his friends, who are encouraged to follow a Syk’m girl Enuna to help them. In Hor’s homeland Skandir the Syk’m are feared winged creatures, so can he persuade his friends to join him on this potentially dangerous quest?

Here are some excerpts from the book:

“I can’t agree with you,” said Torsen. “Just because the Syk’m were used as a threat, it doesn’t necessarily mean they were bad. Look at the Watch, for example. Children are told of the Watch in the same way, to frighten them. Don’t steal, don’t be rude, don’t fight or the Watch will get you. It’s the same thing; the Syk’m were just another reason to make people behave. It doesn’t inherently make them bad.”


“the Syk’m became known on Skander as a thing to be feared, a source of anxiety in children.”

I loved the winged creatures, the beautiful passages where the author Richard Dee’s words take passionate flight:

“She undid the clasp at her throat, shrugged her shoulders and the robe fell to the ground. Underneath, she was dressed as a warrior. A simple tunic and shorts. Muscled arms and shoulders, a flat stomach. Her torso was adorned with crossed leather straps, a collection of blades hung from a wide belt at her waist. Her long, shapely legs were encased in more polished leather, boots extending to mid-thigh. She had the look of a goddess and I felt my pulse quicken.
But that wasn’t the strangest thing. I watched as huge wings unfolded from her back, gossamer-thin with white ribs, they extended and beat the air.”

It’s an exciting, gripping tale which will keep you entertained throughout. There are fight scenes, mentions of magic, and The Druhaan might have no wings but they like to make war!

And what an amazing ending in the Epilogue, I absolutely loved it. 

Richard Dee has crafted a truly wonderful fantasy which I can highly recommend.

My recommendation. A must read – 5 amazing stars!

The Syk’m launches on 15th October 2021.

Thank you to the author for an ARC. I was lucky to beta read an early copy of The Syk’m and my opinions are my own and unbiased.

Book Review: Ghosts of Lock Tower by @JackMassa2 #YA #Fantasy #Paranormal

Ghosts of Lock Tower by Jack Massa

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is the third book in the Abby Renshaw series and my first introduction to author Jack Massa.

I’m so glad I discovered this author. Jack Massa’s magical writing is really up my street. I loved the character of Abby (who is on the cusp of eighteen but not your ordinary girl!) and all the subsidiary characters including her loveable grandma. Even Abby’s car Veronica has a character of its own as she names it too!

It’s a quirky tale – think frog monster – so if you like quirky you will like this. There is magic, two different magical societies, sigils, tarot, seances , astral projection, psychic abilities, ‘egregore (thought forms,) etc, with some lovely touches of humour.

To add to the story mix there is also a murder on campus and a Nazi ghost. Abby’s blossoming romance and an ex in the picture – better not say anymore for fear of spoiling it for you.

All in all a well written, engaging book, with a great heroine to cheer for.

There is an interesting author’s note at the end of the book about the locations: ‘Harmony Springs is fictional, although based on some actual places in central Florida.’
‘Lock Tower is based on the real Bok Tower in Lake Wales… ‘

All sounds fascinating I like narratives that are based on real places and people.

I received a copy from the author and happily give my unbiased review – M J Book Reviews


Buying link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0997646160/
http://www.triskelionbooks.com

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8 Steps to Side Characters #ARC #Review #Launch @Sacha_Black

MJ’s Review

8 Steps To Side Characters is part of Sacha Black’s many writing craft books – other titles include: 13 steps to Evil, 10 steps to Hero, and the Anatomy Of Prose.

Thank you so much for an ARC copy of 8 steps to side characters which I freely give my review and opinion of.

Sacha Black’s writing style is engaging, humourous, clear and informative. I definitely learnt a lot about writing side characters and also discovered how important these pesky folk are!

I had some laugh out loud moments. Here’s an example:

“If you don’t layer your conflict, and you only have world ending levels of conflict at every opportunity, it’s like electrocuting your readers over and over again.”

Yes, this had me in chortles.

Also, there are many light bulb moments too.

“It’s a misnomer that to create big universal feelings you have to describe giant emotions. It’s actually the small, unique and intangible things about our loved ones that create that effect.”

And…

“One thing all readers share in common is a heartfelt solidarity for a character going through shit times.”

“Just because you craft characters to be one way for the majority of the time, say, kind and tolerant, doesn’t mean they have to be that way or feel that way for the entire story.”

I read this on my kindle and highlighted lots of passages to refer to later.

At the end of each step she summarises all the important ideas that she has mentioned. There are also Questions to consider. Plus she makes it all really clear with real examples from film, and books (with spoiler warnings for well known books.)

Recommendation: Read this! Highly recommended – a must read and one to refer back to. 5 stars.

INSTAGRAM / YOUTUBE TIPS SERIES

She’s been sharing a tip a day from the book in a IGTV / Youtube video series. If you’d like to watch the tips or share the series, you can by visiting her on instagram or YouTube:

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sachablackauthor/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCmGEeUxCRW5ZVxwJ_mEunw 

Live Events

Join Sacha on launch day, 29th July, in her Facebook group for a live Q&A session. If you have any questions about writing, publishing, marketing, her books, unicorns or anything in between, hit her up on sachablack@sachablack.co.uk and let her know, or drop it in the Facebook group/event page here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rebelauthors/

Event: https://fb.me/e/GVZcAjmm  

 Your Side Characters and You LIVES

As part of the launch week, Sacha will be interviewing nine authors all about their side characters, their favorite side characters from books and films as well as their tips for creating better characters. And She’ll be doing that all LIVE on instagram every night at 8pm from the 30th July to the 8th August.

  • Friday 30th July – Mark Lefebvre from Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing Podcast
  • Saturday 31st July Jeff Adams from Big Gay Fiction podcast
  • Sunday 1st August Katlyn Duncan YouTuber and author
  • Monday 2nd August Daniel Willcocks, my Next Level Authors cohost, book coach and horror authors
  • Tuesday 3rd August Crys Cain, host of Write Away, cohost of TASM and author
  • Wednesday 4th August Kristina Stanley, CEO of Fictionary.co
  • Thursday 5th Helen Scheuerer author of fantasy
  • Friday 6th Miranda Bridges romance author
  • Saturday 7th Elaine Bateman urban fantasy author and staff writer at Indie Author Magazine
  • Sunday 8th August – if I haven’t collapsed, will be a solo show from me!

Buying Links:

Universal purchase link textbook: books2read.com/sidecharacters 

Universal purchase link workbook: books2read.com/sideworkbook 

Impressive! Or what…

MJ’s Book Reviews: Life is like a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony #poetry #newrelease @sgc58

“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” Arthur Brisbane 1911.

An image offers an opportunity to see endless possibilities depending on the viewer’s perspective. Where some might see beauty and joy, others imagine sadness and loss of hope.

In this collection, images and syllabic poetry are brought together to tell a story based on the author’s perspective. The poetry explores our human experiences such as love, happiness, hope, aging, friendship, new beginnings, dreams and loss.

The world around us is an amazing playground and source of all our essential needs as well as sensory experiences that bring wonder into our lives. What lies beyond the horizon? What surprises will we discover as a garden bursts into bloom? Where do the night creatures live?

At the end of the collection there are some longer poems celebrating memories of the author’s life of travel, teenage exploits and love of food!

My review

Life is like a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony by Sally Cronin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


What strikes me about Sally Cronin’s books is the quiet unassuming way in which they appear without too much fanfare. Sally is a wonderful supporter of the indie writing community, so I am glad to be able to give her a little fanfare too by writing a review for her latest book Life is Like A Mosiac: Random Fragments in Harmony. Great title, I’m sure you will agree!

I loved the dedication within with all the names of the people within her writing circles, so lovely.

I’m a big fan of poetry in all its forms, so this book of eclectic poems from Sally Cronin really appealed to me. There are a wide variety, some wise, some amusing, some thoughtful, some just darn well cute. They are all beautiful presented with accompanying photographs taken from various sources.

Favourites include: Farewell to Colourful Friends, Spices, Dreams, Happiness, Mother Nature, Immortality, Hope, Loose Lips, First Steps, The Circle of Life, Finding Clarity, Creatures of The Night, A Toast to Life, Beneath The Redwoods, Persecution in The Garden, Advancing Years, The Crocodile, Silver Lining to Isolation, The Wise Woman’s Apprentice.

Some are illustrated with personal photographs taken from the authors Childhood Memories in Ceylon, and on Summer Holidays, and as she gets a bit older she becomes Rebellious in Frome!

This poetry collection is accessible, unpretentious, (which I love,) and enjoyable. It will make you smile, reflect and bring back your own memories of when you were young, mischievous and perhaps a little difficult too!

In my case, it brought back memories of when I lived abroad in Childhood Memories – Sally’s poetry spoke to me taking me back in time.

Highly recommended – 5 stars

Many thanks to the author for an ARC copy for review which I happily give with no bias.

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My previous reviews for Sally Cronin:

Details about Sally Cronin:

Delighted to promote authors for FREE please see for details: Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore

And the new: Smorgasbord Children’s Reading Room

Sally’s books are available on Amazon, the Moyhill site and  Smashwords. 

Amazon: Amazon US

Amazon UK: Amazon UK

More reviews can be found on GoodreadsGoodreads

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019-2021/

MJ’s Book Reviews: Perfect Daughter by @MrsAmandaProuse #BookReview #WomensFiction #Contemporary

Wife. Mother. Daughter. What happens when it all becomes too much?

Jackie loves her family. Sure, her teenage children can be stroppy. Her husband a little lazy. And providing round-the-clock care for her Alzheimer’s-ridden mother is exhausting. She’s sacrificed a lot to provide this safe and loving home, in their cramped but cosy semi with a view of the sea.

All Jackie wants is for her children to have a brighter future than she did. So long as Martha, the eldest, gets into university and follows her dreams, all her sacrifice will be worth something… won’t it? 

My Review

Perfect Daughter (No Greater Strength, #1)Perfect Daughter by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With a title like that I was bound to be drawn in! I’m a daughter, and have two daughters of my own.

This is an immersive story about Jacks and her family, her husband Pete, her mum Ida and her daughter Martha. It’s also a story about regrets, the choices we make, the fears that we could have taken a different path and perhaps had a more exciting life. Perfect Daughter doesn’t shy away from life’s difficulties and real struggles: looking after an aging parent with Alzheimer and keeping the family on an even keel especially when life has a way of veering off course bringing more grief in its wake.

Perfect Daughter doesn’t hide away from these issues, at times it’s quite difficult reading and at other times it is heart warming and uplifting. It is a generational story focusing on three female family members: Jack’s mother Ida, Jacks and Jack’s daughter situation too.

There is a sense of history repeating itself. Can Jacks discover what really matters beyond material wealth and the freedoms it brings?

Perfect Daughter whizzes back and forward giving us a taste of life when Jacks was younger to the present day difficulties. Should she stay with dependable Pete, (who was there for her through thick and thin,) or should she risk throwing it all away for a promise of rekindled love with someone who could give supposedly give her everything?

Thank you to the author for kindly gifting a hardback copy. My review is freely given and without bias.

Highly recommended.

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Authors Website: https://www.amandaprowse.com/

New Edition. The Curse of Time – Book 1 – Bloodstone #Review #YA #Fantasy @RichardDockett1

Source: New Edition. The Curse of Time – Book 1 – Bloodstone

Thank you so much to Richard Dee for promoting the new edition of my YA Fantasy Bloodstone in the Curse of Time series.

Pop over to his blog to read his 5 star review via the link above.

It’s time for another book review. This week, my choice is a recently re-released Y.A. Fiction adventure.