Monday, 27 July 2020

REVIEW - The Queen's Lady - An Extraordinary Woman!

Date read: 26th July 2020

My rating: 5*

Genre I reckon: Historical Fact/Fiction - Romance

Buy link: Amazon

Wow! This is incredible!! 
Real life is skilfully blended with fiction. 

Sir Thomas More, King Henry VIII, Queen Catherine - all real.
Mistress Larke weaves between them all yet is fictional. 
The full list of fictional vs real characters is handily included at the back of the book.

I love that this story doesn't centre around the king himself; he's there more as a backdrop although we do get pulled into his machinations. 
Honor Larke is the main character. She has a turbulent life, and always strives to do what is right. The trouble is, in such dark times it's hard to know what right truly is. 

Some of the situations, well, it's a fictional novel - there's plenty of action. It's feasible. And kept me awake more than one night as I had to keep turning the pages. 
Plenty of swoon-worthy moments too. No spoilers, but the guy...! Oh my! 

Religion is questioned heavily. We have Catholics, which we know had a rough time in this era. And the heretics are running rampant. Theologians help us explore the options. 

This book is written so it's easily understandable by the modern reader. But the depth of description makes you feel as if you're in Tudor England - sights and smells all included without being overly bogged down by these details. Beautifully done! 

The amount of research that's gone into this is both staggering and evident. 

Mystery, intrigue, plots...everything you'd expect from a Tudor book.
A captivating historical romance.

Always in love and light,

Saturday, 4 July 2020

REVIEW - Lady of the Ravens - Fly into history

Date read: 4th July 2020

My rating: 3.5*

Genre I reckon: Historical Fact/Fiction

Buy link: Amazon

Now, I only review books I'd recommend to a friend on here. Yet this only scores a 3.5*. Yes, but I still recommend it to those of you who enjoy historical fiction. Let me explain... 

This book looks at the very start of the Tudor dynasty - fascinating! It drew me in like a fish on a hook. 
I'm so bored of all Tudor history looking at Henry VIII or Elizabeth I. How the royal house started is intriguing yet neglected. Enter Henry VII.

The Lady of the Ravens is clearly very well researched, and I praise that. Lady Vaux was indeed a real person in the queen's household. And she did marry Lord Guildford. 
But herein lies my issue - it then reads more like a historical account rather than a novel. 
I got a very good sense of events, clothing and place, but never really felt like I was there. And I didn't feel acquainted with the characters as much I'd like to be. There was a lack of dialogue and emotion. 
Now, for me, that's an issue, but it may not be for others; I appreciate that.

The enmity with Henry Wyatt was well set up, but it never really seemed to go anywhere. There were a couple of things, but it never really reached a satisfying conclusion. But perhaps that was truly the way it was?

I enjoyed the 'imposter' parts very much. We will never truly know what happened to those poor Princes in The Tower, but it's always interesting to ponder over. 

The start was brilliant, and Joan's interactions with the weavers was wonderful - a glimpse into how court gossip was spread. I could see and smell old London (pooey!) in that part of the story, which was fab. 

And the link to the stability with the kingdom was reflected well in the comings and goings of the ravens. Although, sadly, it's thought that Charles II (much later) was the first king to proclaim the beautiful birds protected. 

On the whole, this was an enjoyable look into courtly life as the Tudors struggled to get a foothold. 


Always in love and light,

Thursday, 11 June 2020

REVIEW - The Bloody Tower - bloody ain't the half of it!

The Bloody Tower front cover with yeoman guard
Date read: 11th June 2020

My rating: 4.5*

Genre I reckon: Cosy Historical Mystery

Buy link: Amazon

I confess it...this is my first Carola Dunn book. It's not even the first in the Daisy Dalrymple series. But it's the one my step-daughter had mailed to my mother-in-law for lockdown reading, and she's passed it on to me. 
It's perfectly acceptable as a stand-alone. Although I may go back and read earlier books now that I've been hooked!

Having been to The Tower of London, I found this setting fascinating. 
It is a place with a bloody history, but more is added in this intriguing story. 

Daisy is a high-born lady who married a police detective, DCI Fletcher. Set in 1925, we see the disturbance such a match caused. But she's clearly a strong woman who knows her own mind. 

I love the details; I could envisage the layout easily and the yeoman guard in their regalia. 
The language was time appropriate which I also appreciated. 
Very well researched!

The girls, Belinda and Fay are boisterous, enthusiastic young ladies of their generation who kept the mood light-hearted amidst the horror. 
I'd keep an eye on Nanny though - phew, what a bearcat! 

Not to sound too full of oneself, but I did guess the murderer. There was a fun list of suspects though.

All-in-all, a gentle, entertaining read. Just what I needed, and what one expects of a cosy mystery.

A jolly good yarn! 😊

Tee hee - couldn't resist making this fun GIF

Always in love and light, 

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

REVIEW - Year One - One helluva journey!

Date read: 27th May 2020

My rating: 4*

Genre I reckon: Dystopian Fantasy

Buy link: Amazon

Follow the author: on Instagram  

Let me start this review with a warning; we are currently living in lockdown for COVID-19 as I write this. Now, if you're even a little bit nervous, wait until afterwards before reading this. 

The reason for this caution is because, obviously, this book deals with a deathly pandemic; it says so right in the book description. But sh*t gets real!! 

It's taken me about a month to read this book. It was a bit much for me right now. 

However, I loved the gritty realism. And then the magickal aspects. 

The opening is what every author wants to achieve - an intriguing hook. It dragged me in...
"When Ross MacLeod pulled the trigger and brought down the pheasant, he had no way of knowing he'd killed himself. And billions of others." 
Without darkness, there can be no light. And there's a whole lot of darkness just brought to Earth in this tale. 
With such a high death toll, who will survive and how? 

There were some parts which lingered too long, if I'm being honest. But that's just me. 
And there were an awful lot of characters. However, I managed to keep on top of it, perhaps with a little confusion here and there.
After the initial outbreak, there's focus on a couple of different groups of people. And it was during this that I lost focus. But this was probably at least partly owing to my slow reading pace. 

I loved the way the stories were interwoven. And sorry when we lost track of some people; I'm hoping to catch up with them though. 
There's some really interesting folk; some I love and some I love to hate - brilliant! 

By the time I got to the end, I was itching for book 2. And now there's more about the magick and less about The Doom (the plague/pandemic/virus), it might just be safe enough for me to get it 😉

Dystopian fans - you should definitely try this.
Those new to the genre - try it once you feel stable enough to do so.

Always in love and light,


Friday, 22 May 2020

MY BOOK - Love Gaia - The Diary Directive

Let me tell you about my latest book...

Like all of my novels, this one looks at love in a different way.
Love Gaia - The Diary Directive, is a post-nuclear war, dystopian vs utopian, environmental romance.
That's a bit of a mouthful, huh?
Well, it's a book of two aspects. In the distant future we have Aroha. She and her classmates undertake lessons to learn the harsh lessons of their past in order to safeguard their future.

They study the diary left by one of their founders, Dr. Rachel Rose.
She was once an oncologist at the Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool. That is, until government agents whisked her away to 'safety'.
Wrenched away from her family, she is forced into an underground city, The Bunker, in New Zealand. Life will never be the same again!

The authorities there, known as the GFA, tell them a meteor is about to strike and they've been brought there to protect the best humanity has to offer. But 'the best' is a subjective term. And the civilians heavily suspect there's no meteor at all, but in fact, World War III is taking place and it's nuclear.
But then, with the world's bee population wiped out, it was only a matter of time before the humans followed suit.
Is anything salvageable?

"Honesty, Respect, Fortitude" is the village motto and it's not without good reason.

And the little fella on the cover is the village symbol. He was specially created by the clever chap at Tattoo Tribes - below are the Maori symbols embedded within.

At the time of writing this blog post, Love Gaia is available for pre-order.
It's available for FREE in Kindle Unlimited and is also available in paperback online from Waterstones and Barnes & Noble.

Incidentally, this is launching during a global lockdown thanks to COVID-19.
Most of this book was written back in November before our own troubles began. And yet, there are eerie similarities. There's even mention of a survivor eating a bat (which is rumoured to be how COVID-19 began to spread)!!
Love Gaia is here to bring a message of hope though. To help people realise the potential of a better future.

Always in love and light,

Monday, 27 April 2020

PONDERINGS - COVID 19; the elephant in the room & what we've been doing to cope

As a writer with a blog, it feels wrong not to write a post about this surreal time. Surreal - my most common word lately.
So, shall we talk about the elephant in the room..?
Yep, I'm thinking COVID-19 and lockdown. Hitherto referenced as The Thing Which Shan't Be Named - I'm treating it like Voldemort 😉
But before you run away in horror, my intention is to be more positive in this post.

We have been in what is commonly referred to as lockdown in the UK for 4 weeks now.
Now, like I said, I'm trying to be positive, yet I'm not going to shy away either; it was tough at first!

1) I felt The Fear - it was all big and scary. The media was constantly harping on about it. It felt like the apocalypse had begun; we were all going to die.
The Thing Which Shan't Be Named swept through the world. Country by country was infected - a sort of domino effect.
2) I'm used to my own space and routine, and yet very soon Hubby's work decided as he had to go to London a lot, he was not so much of a key worker after all, and furloughed him. Is it just me or does that sound like he's now a furrowed field?? LOL
3) Our finances took a hit. Hubby has had to take a pay cut so he has a job to go back to. Me? My temp jobs aren't coming in, yet I'm not eligible for the government's assistance. And my book sales nosedived. Ouch!

It was an adjustment, make no mistake.
Firstly, I stopped watching news and daytime tele - I just couldn't handle it. Far too much scaremongering! Plus, we had the UK Chief Medical Officer on our advice adverts - take a look at that link; he made it extra scary!!
And I limit my social media interaction. I'm really sorry if you're feeling neglected by my absence - I'm not commenting as much as usual etc. But there is far too much fear, speculation, blame and anger on there for me to wade through. I try to spot the good bits, but honestly, it's too much for me.
Whilst I'm on that; please, if you have a book release/sale/news you would like me to share, please tag me or message me with a link so I can share it for you (if you're among my online social circle).

Going to the shops (for food) - a simple enough thing, became scary. Everyone was socially distanced and wandering around in a daze, wearing masks. It was like witnessing a scene from a zombie movie!

Then I accepted that we couldn't see the Steps.
Girl had come into contact with someone who came home feeling a little unwell from China. She came to our house feeling a little coldy, and we subsequently had an odd virus; we would intermittently go hot (not necessarily a high fever) and had a bit of a tickly throat. We will never know if this was a mild form of The Thing Which Shan't Be Named (*shrugs*). We got over it. Whatever!
Boy came home (to his mum) from uni with a fever too though.
So, it's been AGES since we saw them.
Girl is about to turn 17, so we're permitted visitation. But as Boy is over 18, he's not on the socially acceptable work-around 😞
I miss them!

Hubby and I gradually found our own space. Finding little moments in the day where we could do our own thing independently became important.
He usually works mega long hours, and then we have his kids here every other weekend and we spend time with his mum etc. It's highly unusual for us to spend so much time alone together in this way.

But, whilst our own space is required, so is quality couple time. So, we also try to do meaningful things together.

Like the rest of The Internet, I distracted myself with baking and cooking.
Baguettes and focaccia were very fine bread projects. Crumpets - not so much - those were actually inedible!?
I have discovered I like dal though! Who knew?? When Hubby next came home from the supermarket (being the designated shopping hero as he copes better than me), he held up a bag of lentils, saying, "I'm not saying I liked what you cooked last night..." - his sheepish grin was priceless! Needless to say, I've made it several times since.
Now, that is all very yummy 'n all, but when added to our increased snacks (also because of Stress and Boredom), our tummies were expanding a little bit too far (not fat shaming, just practically, it's unwise to expand further than one's current wardrobe permits as clothing-trying-on is not available right now).
So, we've tried increasing our jogging jaunts. Although, one day in particular, I ended up a watery mess as my hay fever (allergies) kicked in big time, and we limped home within 15mins! Oops!

There's only so many times you can stand the limited space to run around here; too many People, for a start.
It was therefore a joy - and I mean that in the deepest sense of the word - to go a bit further last week, to one of my favourite places for such activity. I was even rewarded with a plethora of bluebells in the woods 💜
And Hubby even joined me for a Pilates session one day.
Other distractions have included us learning BSL (British Sign Language), reading (of course) and me picking up my cross stitch for the eleventy-billionth time (it's taken me YEARS to get this far on this project!).
We've been trying to zhush up the garden a little too. I have a lemon plant growing from seed. The path is now weeded (thank you Hubby). And we're about to plant some vegetable seeds.
Our rhododendron is flowering in all its pink glory.
My azalea (which inspired a character in my book, Love Bites), is also blooming, sending its scent wafting across my garden. Yum!
Every Thursday evening at 20:00 we go onto our driveway, our neighbours doing likewise (whilst maintaining social distance), and clap for the NHS / carers. There's a terrific sense of community.
I was so moved after the first incident that I wrote a Facebook post on it. It was very emotional!

Oh, and I recorded several book readings. All are on my IGTV and I've started loading them onto my YouTube (but it's a bit of a faff, so it's taking a while).
And, of course, there's been book editing to do - my latest novel is almost ready! It's super hard to concentrate right now though, so is taking a little longer. Thank you for your patience.

But don't let all this talk of activity fool you. The vast majority of the time, we may be found sitting in front of our TV, watching Netflix or Disney+ (which arrived in the nick of time!). Hence the snacking.

I'm busy doing nothing!?

There have been days I've not changed out of my pyjamas; trust me. At times, I have wondered why I bother getting out of bed at all.
I get bored/frustrated/scared/tired like everyone else. We're all experiencing a lot of emotions. And that's OK.

All this is just my experience. I fully appreciate how lucky I am.
There are people not able to see their partners. Parents with young children requiring constant attention and education. People all alone. Vulnerable people feeling frightened. Others are going out to work, scared of coming into contact with The Thing Which Shan't Be Named. The thing is, we all have our own stresses. There's not a single person unaffected in some way.
This is a global pandemic - it's oddly uniting humanity in that we're all battling against this unusual foe. We're all in this together!
I have misophonia (a very odd, severely angry reaction to certain sounds). It gets worse when my sinuses are inflamed, oh, like when hay fever pipes up!?
Yeah, so, I got triggered the other morning, and went scurrying to the safety of my bed, under my duvet. A bit of a meltdown ensued. There may have been tears!
However, eventually, I remembered to breathe! Funny how we forget that simple thing occasionally!? Anyway, I took deep, healing breaths and focussed on grounding (a holistic technique thingy). I felt more calm than I had in ages afterwards!

And that's it, isn't it?
We can all feel panicked and overwhelmed, especially at the moment.
But THIS TOO SHALL PASS (one of my life mantras).
Just remember to breathe!
Self-love is more important than ever. Just do what you need to do to get through each day.
We will come through this together yet apart 💗
Keep on keeping on, my lovely.

Good things are happening too. Pollution has gone way down. Apparently, there were dolphins swimming around Venice! Our beloved planet is taking a deep, cleansing breath too.

We are finally realising the importance of those key workers - the people who are often so poorly paid. Thank you so so much if you're one of the ones still going out, keeping this country running; there are so many working behind the scenes who don't get noticed as well as those the media spotlight's shining on.

Always in love and light,

Friday, 24 April 2020

REVIEW - Best Foot Forward - step this way

Date read: 24th April 2020

My rating: 4*

Genre I reckon: Romcom

Buy link: Amazon

Follow the author: on Facebook

In dark times, one felt the need to turn to a rom-com for something lighter. And this book did not disappoint. 
Reminiscent of Sophie Kinsella and similar authors, Best Foot Forward is light-hearted and witty. 

I had mixed feelings about Liberty, the heroine. She's quite judgemental and has an odd perception that she is due a promotion - this despite her clumsiness and lacklustre attitude towards her job. But it's not her fault. She's young, ambitious and has a mean boss. And accidents will happen. 

You know what, though? She's endearing too. Her heart's in the right place and she proves herself worthy of our interest as the book goes on. She's very thoughtful and caring.

Misunderstandings, accidents, theft, a puppy and designer shoes - these things combine in a delightful story which is a funny sleuthing romp. 
It's a definite must read for fans of romcoms. 

Always in love and light,