Anne Bonny #BookReview The King’s Witch by @TracyBorman #HistoricalFiction #Witchcraft #NewRelease @HodderBooks ‏ @HodderPublicity ‘A novel rich in historical detail and accuracy, with a spellbinding tale and a feisty young protagonist’

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The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Already a great historian, Tracy Borman proves with this thrilling debut novel that she is also a born storyteller.

As she helps to nurse the dying Queen Elizabeth, Frances Gorges longs for the fields and ancient woods of her parents’ Hampshire estate, where she has learned to use the flowers and herbs to become a much-loved healer.

Frances is happy to stay in her beloved countryside when the new King arrives from Scotland, bringing change, fear and suspicion. His court may be shockingly decadent, but James’s religion is Puritan, intolerant of all the old ways; he has already put to death many men for treason and women for witchcraft.

So when her ambitious uncle forcibly brings Frances to court, she is trapped in a claustrophobic world of intrigue and betrayal – and a ready target for the twisted scheming of Lord Cecil, the King’s first minister.

Surrounded by mortal dangers, Frances finds happiness only with the precocious young Princess Elizabeth, and Tom Wintour, the one courtier she can trust.
Or can she?

My Review:

The novel opens with our protagonist Lady Frances Gorges at the Longford estate. We become aware she is of noble birth and has a passion for seeking herbal remedies. When the Reverend Pritchard (the new local priest) preaches warnings of witches, Frances knows she must heed caution.

‘I have done nothing against the laws of god or nature. I only use my medicines for good’ – Frances
Frances must withhold her skills or bring the attention of Lord Cecil and those whom seek a witch to blame. . . .

Frances is appointed to the household of Princess Elizabeth by King James. Her parents and sisters are banished to Richmond, tainted by their association to the previous Queen. Frances is alone and filled with worry. She makes an unlikely friendship in Thomas Winter, but is he all he seems. . . .

Lord Cecil takes Frances to witness the hanging of a local witch at Tyburn. He is issues her a stern warning, that leaves her in no doubt, she must be on her guard
‘I am watching you’

When Lady Arbella is accused of witchcraft, Frances is certain an accusation will be yielded against her. With the plotting and scheming of royal court, there are eyes everywhere.

Who can Frances trust? And does she carry the devil’s mark?

A novel rich in historical detail and accuracy, with a spellbinding tale and a feisty young protagonist. 4*

TB
Tracy Borman
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Call Of The Curlew by @ManxWriter Elizabeth Brooks #HistoricalFiction #Literary #ww2Fiction #NewRelease @TransworldBooks ‘This novel is simply beautiful’

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Call Of The Curlew by Elizabeth Brooks
Review copy
Synopsis:

Virginia Wrathmell has always known she will meet her death on the marsh.

One snowy New Year’s Eve, at the age of eighty-six, Virginia feels the time has finally come.

New Year’s Eve, 1939. Virginia is ten, an orphan arriving to meet her new parents at their mysterious house, Salt Winds. Her new home sits on the edge of a vast marsh, a beautiful but dangerous place. War feels far away out here amongst the birds and shifting sands – until the day a German fighter plane crashes into the marsh. The people at Salt Winds are the only ones to see it.

What happens next is something Virginia will regret for the next seventy-five years, and which will change the whole course of her life.

My Review:

Call Of The Curlew is another novel released this year with phenomenal characterisation. The character of Virginia Wrathmell slowly captivates your heart, as you turn the pages. It is quite tricky to explain, as we don’t just meet the 86yr old Virginia, but we meet her at 11yrs old and watch her come of age in difficult circumstances.

The novel opens with Virginia in the present day. It is New Years Eve and she is waiting for a sign. A sign of her death…… on the marsh. When it arrives in the unusual fashion of the skull of a Curlew. I didn’t grasp the significance straight away. But it becomes very clear as the novel progresses and on the last few pages.

December 1939, saw Virginia’s arrival from Sinclair house a local orphanage to Salt Winds. Where she is finally brought to live with her adopted parents Clem and Lorna Wrathmell. Virginia doesn’t instantly bond with Lorna, that will come much later. But her instant love and affection for Clem, is beautiful to see. She meets Bracken the dog and Mrs Hill the cook. Life at Salt Winds, seems to be one of luxury, Virginia has previously unknown. Clem is sure to issue a stark warning to Virginia about the dangers of the marsh. . .

“Tollbury Marsh is good for birds but bad news for people, so you must promise me that you’ll not set foot on it. Never ever’ – Clem

With every great story comes a great villain and this novels villain is Max Deering. He is rude, obnoxious and full of self-righteousness. Virginia took an instant dislike to him and she isn’t the only one. However, this being 1939 people weren’t so quick to ignore or distance themselves from their neighbours. They relied upon them intensely during the war and the home front effort was evident throughout history. So, the Wrathmell’s find it increasingly difficult to keep Max from their door. As he continues to darken it.

There is a particular incident with Mr Rosenthal, a German Jew is belittled by Max and spoken of as though he is unworthy. I suppose due to Virginia’s upbringing in an orphanage this strikes a chord with her.
It becomes something she will never forgive Max Deering for.

Back to the modern-day 2015 and Virginia sees the arrival of an uninvited guest at Salt Winds. Sophie is a young woman claiming to be lost upon the marsh paths. Something Virginia knows to be untrue and yet serves to make her further grumpy. She reluctantly invites in her new guest.

‘The Curlew has reminded her how to hate’ – Virginia

In June 1940 Max Deering suffers a personal loss when the train carriage carrying his daughter Juliet is bombed. Leaving Max alone with son Theodore. This pushes the Deering’s closer to Salt Winds, much to Virginia’s disgust!
She is invited to Theodore’s 11th birthday party and sets off on the walk with her father Clem. When he spots an enemy plane fallen down upon the marsh. Despite the great risk to himself, Clem decides to attempt to save the enemy. Clem is never seen again. A search party is organised. Yet no sight of Clem can be seen. An optimistic Virginia remains adamant he will return.

It is at this point Virginia and her adoptive mother begin to bond. It is a relationship that is beautiful to watch develop but is not without its dangers from outside predators.

“We cannot afford to make an enemy of Max Deering” – Lorna

As Mrs Hill begins to lose her patience with Lorna, old secrets are brought to the surface. Virginia learns more and more about her adoptive parents and their pasts. Then the women must unite as they rescue Mr Rosenthal. They hide Jozef Rosenthal in the attic, away from Max’s prying eyes. But is Jozef who he says he is?

In the modern-day Sophie makes some confessions about her own ancestry when she spots her grandfather on a photo in Virginia’s house. It would appear young Sophie has a tie to Virginia’s past too.

This novel is simply beautiful 4*

Elizabeth Brooks Twitter

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview After He’s Gone by @JaneIsaacAuthor #CrimeFiction #NewRelease ‘This novel is a great start to a thoroughly modern new series. It has a diverse multitude of characters and plenty of secrets and lies, to keep you guessing’

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After He’s Gone by Jane Isaac – DC Beth Chamberlain #1
Review copy
Synopsis:

You think you know him. Until he’s dead.

When Cameron Swift is gunned down outside his family home, DC Beth Chamberlain is appointed Family Liaison Officer: a dual role that requires her to support the family, and also investigate them.

As the case unfolds and the body count climbs, Beth discovers that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has secrets.

Even the dead…

My Review:

After He’s Gone is the debut novel in an exciting new series from author Jane Isaac. It centres around the role of DC Beth Chamberlain as family liaison officer; to murder victim Cameron Swift’s family. I loved the angle and narrative of a FLO’s role covering both support and investigation.

‘To kill an adult was gruesome enough. But a child? That was pure unadulterated evil’

The novel opens with an eerie scene of violence. We are left unsure, what it relates to and straightaway this adds to the mystery. The novel then jumps to seven days earlier and the scene of Cameron Swift’s murder. Cameron is hot in broad daylight by a killer on a bike, who tops long enough to take pictures of the victim.

Is this a professional hit? If so who wants to kill Cameron Swift?

Beth is called to the scene with ‘career copper’ DCI Lee. They find the body of Cameron and see 3 shots fired. They immediately begin to search the area for witnesses and organise the CCTV to be obtained. The novel is quite police procedural, in parts.

Cameron Swift was an asset manager, with what appears to be no enemies. His partner Monika and two sons were inside the property at the time of the shooting. Monika assists the police as much as possible. But you can fully grasp her emotional state. Monika is Polish, and her family remain in her native country. Meaning Monika is alone with young sons Oskar (12yrs) and baby Jakub (9 months). I really felt for Monika’s plight and could just imagine the sheer hopelessness of her situation and grief.

The killer posts the photos to social media. The police struggle to grasp why. Is the killer sending a message? Is this an attempt to gain attention? It isn’t too long until the caption ‘Who was #Cameronswift?’ is trending.

So, who was Cameron swift?

Beth has to navigate an intense police investigation, a grieving partner, intense media scrutiny and her police colleagues.
Also, her own personal family drama. With her sister’s ex on the police staff and her new boyfriend rumoured to be a known local criminal. Can Beth find justice for Cameron? And keep the peace at home?

This novel is a great start to a thoroughly modern new series. It has a diverse multitude of characters and plenty of secrets and lies, to keep you guessing. 4*

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Jane Isaac
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***Don’t miss the other bloggers on the blog tour***
Jane Isaac

Anne Bonny #BookReview Only In Whispers by @GrimaJgrima #Thriller #Suspense #Mystery @BooksManatee ‘It is a story of secrets and lies. The secrets we all keep to protect one another.’

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Only In Whispers by Jacqueline Grima
Review Copy
Synopsis:

A forgotten past
An uncertain future
A family hiding from the truth
When their mother is hospitalised with depression, Annie and her brother Matthew are fostered by their beloved Aunt Helen. Their family eventually reunited, the siblings begin a new life in Derbyshire with their mother and new stepfather.
Now in her thirties and separated from her husband, Annie is struggling to escape the past and move forward with her son. Haunted by memories of her childhood, she begins to realise that there may have been more to her time in foster care than her mother claims. Why did social services take her and Matthew away? Who can she trust to tell her what really happened?
As Annie finds out more, things take a sinister turn…has the life she’s lived so far been a lie?

My Review:

Only In Whispers tells the story of Annie as she attempts to rediscover what happened in her past. After finally separating from her ex-husband David, 18 months ago. Annie has a new lease on life, taking care of her son Spencer 6yrs and reconnecting with her mother in a way she has never tried before.

‘It has felt like my husband still controls every aspect of my life’ – Annie

Annie reflects upon her own upbringing with brother Matthew, mum and stepdad John. Annie was very lucky considering the era, that when John took on the kids he fully enjoyed his role as ‘father’. He treated them as his own.

‘No-one was ever left out in our family, the two of us cherished each other’ – Annie

Annie lives in a big house in Buxton, she has a close friend Mags and her son is her entire life. But she can’t help but dig away at her own past and what occurred when social services became involved and her and Matthew were sent to live with their Aunt Helen and uncle Frank. She reflects on how her mother’s post-natal depression impacted her own life and mothering skills.
‘After Spencer was born, I had immersed myself into being the best mother that I could’ – Annie

Annie attempts to quiz her mother who is evasive and defensive. Her Aunt Helen is now suffering what appears to be early-onset dementia and confusion. Annie is struggling to find clues to help her unlock her past in her mind.
Eventually she finds help from an unlikely source, her brothers best friend Adam. He challenges Annie in ways she has never been before, and their bond is beautiful to watch grow.

‘You may not have any control over the way other people behave, Annie. But you do have a say in your own life and how you live it’ – Adam

The novel is slow-burning, and the tension slowly builds. Buxton makes for a perfect location and I could easily imagine taking walks along the pavilion gardens (Google Buxton pavilion gardens- image search)  with my own personal secrets on my mind.
It is a story of secrets and lies.
The secrets we all keep to protect one another. 4*

JG
Jacqueline Grima
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Only In Whispers is released today and is available for just £1.99 (UK) and is listed under Kindle Unlimited. Happy release day to Jacqueline Grima 🙂 

Anne Bonny #BookReview Take Me In by @SabineDurrant #Psychological #Thriller #CrimeFiction #NewRelease @MulhollandUK ‘Loathsome characters, but yet, insanely gripping’

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Take Me In by Sabine Durrant
Review Copy
Synopsis:

The sensational new thriller from the author of the Richard & Judy bestseller Lie With Me.

A hot beach. A young family on holiday. A fatal moment of inattention…

And now Dave Jepsom is in their lives.

Dave Jepsom, with his muscles, his pale eyes, his expressionless face.

He saved their child. How can they ever repay him? Especially as what he seems to want in return is everything.

He’s in the streets they walk down. He’s at the office where they work. He’s at their front door, leaning on the bell…

If only they could go back. Back to when the lies were still hidden. Before the holiday, before the beach, before the moment that changed everything.

Before Dave.

But it’s never how it starts that matters. It’s always how it ends.

My Review:

I know I really shouldn’t but every so often, I love a creepy stalker type novel. I know they’ll freak me out, yet I can’t resist.
I was instantly intrigued by the synopsis of this novel.

The novel opens on the beach of a Greek Island. Parents Tessa and Marcus are on holiday with their 3yr old son Josh. As Tessa nips to the changing area and Marcus loses focus for a moment, Josh is in danger!

‘I stood there, redundant, helpless, a father without skin, as another man saved his child’ – Marcus

Due to the quick actions of holiday hero Dave Jepsom, Josh is saved. The families then lunch together; and the usual mundane questions are asked. What do you do for a living? Where do you live? Answers given without any real thought of consequences.

Tessa remains angry at Marcus for his failings with Josh and it suddenly becomes very clear, there is a few cracks in this marriage. Upon returning from holiday, those cracks are blown wide open and who Tessa and Marcus really are laid bare for us to read. The mistakes, ugly secrets and inner thoughts, we known it all.
Then Dave starts to appear EVERYWHERE!

‘I wanted suddenly to run away, away from this party, and this man, and his unwanted intrusion into our lives’ – Tessa

Words alone cannot describe how much I truly despised this couple. That being said, it made it even more insanely gripping!
This is not one for readers, who like their characters to have ‘redeeming qualities’. I couldn’t name one thing about Tessa or Marcus I liked. Yet I couldn’t take my eyes from the page and watching their lives unravel.

This novel is really hard to explain, because I truly mean to take nothing away from how GOOD it is and as said above insanely gripping! I actually read this book in 3hrs straight!
But I was internally enjoying their lives falling apart.
I don’t even feel the slightest guilt at this, I know that I perhaps should. But there is something smugly satisfying about watching the lives of ‘perfect people’ implode.
At least they are fictional!

Loathsome characters, but yet, insanely gripping. 4*

SD
Sabine Durrant
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