Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Pitney Brooch

The Pitney Brooch
Anglo-Scandinavian, 2nd half of the 11th century AD
Found in Pitney, Somerset, England
An entwined animal and snake in combat
This elegant openwork brooch was found in a churchyard. The skill needed to make it indicates that it was probably worn by a man or woman of some importance, and the brooch would have been considered a symbol of prestige.
The main ornament is a snake with round eyes biting the underside of a four-legged animal, which in turn bites itself. A row of beads runs along the underside of the animal which is stretched into a looped ribbon. Its hips are marked with spirals and a spindly front and back leg are shown.
The brooch is a rare and fine example of the combination of Scandinavian and English art styles. The design, with its plant-like tendrils and ribbon animals, is an English version of the final phase of Viking art, the Urnes Style. However, the delicate beading which picks out the main animal, and the scalloped border of the brooch are both Anglo-Saxon features.
The brooch was cast in bronze with a slightly convex form, then gilded on both side. The reverse is plain, and still retains some fixings for the missing pin.
E. Roesdahl and D.M. Wilson (eds), From Viking to Crusader: Scand, Nordic Council of Ministers, 22nd Council of Europe Exhibition (Sweden, 1992)
D.M. Wilson, Anglo-Saxon art (London, Thames and Hudson, 1984)
J. Backhouse, D.H. Turner and L. Webster (eds.), The golden age of Anglo-Saxon, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)

Copyright: The British Museum

'Winterveil' by Jenna Burtenshaw

Release date: 25th June 2013
Published by: Greenwillow Books  
ISBN No: 978 0062026460
Jenna Burtenshaw’s dark fantasy trilogy The Secrets of Wintercraft comes to a pulse-pounding conclusion with YA dystopian novel Winterveil.

Teen Kate Winters and her powers are unique. She alone can understand Wintercraft, a book of ancient secrets.

In Winterveil, the veil between the living and the dead is crumbling, and only Kate can stop it. The pull of the veil is powerful, and part of Kate wants to let it fall, allowing the dead overrun the living. Her best friend Edgar Rill urges Kate to save the world of the living. But Silas Dane can influence Kate too. Silas, a merciless villain, has the potential to behave honorably—if he chooses.

A great pick for fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Legend.
The dead are restless. The veil between the living and the dead is weakening. The graveyard city of Fume is over-run by ghosts.

And Kate Winters—the one person powerful enough to bring life and death back into balance—has been captured by an ancient and power-hungry enemy.

Kate is returning to home to Albion just as it reaches the brink of utter chaos. But she isn't there to save it. She's there to obliterate it. Caught in a trap laid by the most powerful sorceress in the world, Kate will be the catalyst for the final destruction of the veil. And the dead will swarm the living.

Silas Dane is following her. Though he is half-dead himself—and may be a murderer and a disgraced warrior—he will not let Albion down in its hour of need. Together he and Kate will turn to the dark secrets of her family's legacy: the book of Wintercraft.

Those who wish to see the dark, it's time to pay the price.

Copyright: Harper Collins Synopsis

'The Kill Room' by Jeffery Deaver

Release date: 20th June 2013
Published by: Hodder and Stoughton
ISBN No: 978 1444757347
The tenth novel in the critically acclaimed Lincoln Rhyme series, from Number One bestselling author Jeffery Deaver.

Robert Moreno, an American citizen living in South America, is shot in the Bahamas by a sniper. The killing was commissioned by the U.S. government, who received a tip-off that Moreno was planning a terrorist attack on a U.S. oil company headquarters. But this intelligence was fatally incorrect: anti-American Moreno ordered a protest at the oil company, not an attack.

Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are drafted in to investigate. While Sachs traces Moreno's steps in New York, Rhyme travels to the scene of the crime in Nassau, where he finds himself on a dangerous path trailed by the sniper himself. As details of the case start to emerge, the pair discover that not all is what it seemed. Can they achieve justice and escape with their lives intact?
Copyright: Hodder and Stoughton Synopsis

'The Lost Continent' by Gavin Hewitt

Release date: 25th April 2013
Published by: Hodder and Stoughton
ISBN No: 978 1444764802
In THE LOST CONTINENT BBC Europe Editor Gavin Hewitt tells the story of a flawed dream, a noble vision that turned dangerous, and which led Europe into its gravest crisis since World War Two - a crisis for which it was totally unprepared.

A pillar of the post-war European dream was a shared currency, and with it came easy money, seducing some countries into a wild spending binge. After the financial crash in the United States, Europe caught the cold and was left with a debt crisis that came to threaten the entire European project.

THE LOST CONTINENT is rich in anecdote, weaving together the stories of ordinary people with the high politics and drama of Europe in crisis to give an unparalleled and vivid portrait of a massive shift in modern history. It includes interviews with top officials and insiders, and dramatic accounts of key meetings.

Gavin Hewitt's THE LOST CONTINENT is a clear-eyed book by a distinguished and well-connected journalist which tells the astonishing story of how we got here and where we might be headed.

Copyright: Hodder and Stoughton Synopsis

'After Auschwitz' by Eva Schloss

Release date: 24th October 2013
Published by: Hodder and Stoughton
ISBN No: 978 1444760712
A story of heartbreak and survival by the step-sister of Anne Frank.
  Eva was arrested by the Nazis on her fifteenth birthday and sent to Auschwitz. Her survival depended on endless strokes of luck, her own determination and the love and protection of her mother Fritzi, who was deported with her.

When Auschwitz was liberated, Eva and Fritzi began the long journey home. They searched desperately for Eva's father and brother, from whom they had been separated. The news came some months later. Tragically, both men had been killed.

Before the war, in Amsterdam, Eva had become friendly with a young girl called Anne Frank. Though their fates were very different, Eva's life was set to be entwined with her friend's for ever more, after her mother Fritzi married Anne's father Otto Frank in 1953.

This is a searingly honest account of how an ordinary person survived the Holocaust. Eva's memories and descriptions are heartbreakingly clear, her account brings the horror as close as it can possibly be.

But this is also an exploration of what happened next, of Eva's struggle to live with herself after the war and to continue the work of her step-father Otto, ensuring that the legacy of Anne Frank is never forgotten.

Copyright: Hodder and Stoughton Synopsis

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop! (International Stop)

Welcome to the 'Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop'' which is hosted by 'I am a Reader, not a Writer' and 'Read Now Sleep Later'. Being based in the United Kingdom and with International Time Zones, this will be one of the first posts to go up for this hop.

To gain entry to this draw all you have to be is a 'GFC Follower' of my blog. Just complete the 'Rafflecopter Entry Form' that you will find at the end of this post. Extra entries can be obtained by also following this blog through Networked Blogs, Linky, Google+ or by just leaving a comment on this post. Once the form has been completed, you will have been entered into the draw.

As there is such a selection of books available these days, I am offering the main prize winner a $25 (US) / £20 (sterling) Amazon Gift Voucher/Certificate, so the winner can choose their own books! I will arrange that the prize is e-mailed to the winner on the completion of the draw!

One first prize of either a $25 (US) or £20 (sterling) Amazon Gift Voucher/Certificate!

There will be one main prize winner from this draw. The gift Voucher/Certificate will only be offered in either US dollars or pounds sterling. No other currencies can be catered for. Each entrant will be allocated a sequential number. After the closing date for this draw (5th April 2013 at 23.59GMT), the winning number entered for this draw will be chosen by This is an International Giveaway Draw!

To visit the rest of the blogs that are taking part in this great hop, just click on the 'Click Here' link below, to be taken to a page of participating blog links.


Good luck Everyone!

If you are not in, you cannot win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

'The Eternity Cure' by Julie Kagawa

Release date: 30th April 2013
Published by: Harlequin Teen
ISBN No: 978 0373210695
"In Allison Sekemoto's world, there is one rule left: Blood calls to blood."She has done the unthinkable: died so that might continue to live. Cast out of Eden and separated from the boy she dared to love, Allie will follow the call of blood to save her creator, Kanin, from the psychotic vampire Sarren. But when the trail leads to Allie's birthplace in New Covington, what Allie finds there will change the world forever--and possibly end human and vampire existence.There's a new plague on the rise, a strain of the Red Lung virus that wiped out most of humanity generations ago--and this strain is deadly to humans and vampires alike. The only hope for a cure lies in the secrets Kanin carries, if Allie can get to him in time.Allison thought that immortality was forever. But now, with eternity itself hanging in the balance, the lines between human and monster will blur even further, and Allie must face another choice she could never have imagined having to make.
Copyright: The Book Depository Synopsis

'Heart of Obsidian' by Nalini Singh

Release date: 6th June 2013
Published by: Gollancz
ISBN No:  978 0575110977
Step into NEW YORK TIMES bestseller Nalini Singh's explosive and shockingly passionate Psy-Changeling world . . .

A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained blood red.

A woman whose very existence has been erased.

A love story so dark it may shatter the world itself.

A deadly price that must be paid.

The day of reckoning is here.

From 'the alpha author of paranormal romance' (BOOKLIST) comes the most highly anticipated novel of her career - one that blurs the line between madness and genius, between subjugation and liberation, between the living and the dead.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'The Sword and the Throne' by Henry Venmore Rowland

Release date: 20th June 2013
Published by: Bantam Press
ISBN No: 978 0593068533
AD 69. Aulus Caecina Severus has thrown in his lot with the hedonistic Vitellius and prepares his legions for a gruelling march over the Alps.

Driven by the desire to repay the treachery of his former patron, the Emperor Galba, and to keep his rival Valens in check, Severus leads his army against barbarian rebellions and against the mountains themselves in his race to reach Italy first. With the vast Po valley almost in sight, news reaches the army that Galba has been killed in a coup, and that Otho has been declared Emperor by the Praetorians who he had bribed to murder their own emperor.

But there is no turning back for Severus, even if he wanted to. The Rhine legions want their man on the throne, and they won't stop until they reach Rome itself. Even once Otho is defeated, the battle for supremacy between Severus and Valens is far from over. The politics of the court and the mob is the new battleground, and Severus needs the help of his wife Salonina and his freedman Totavalas in this constant game of thrones. When stories spread of a new power in the east, Severus has to decide where his real loyalty lies: to his Emperor, to his city or to himself?

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'The Summer Queen' by Elizabeth Chadwick

Release date: 20th June 2013
Published by: Sphere
ISBN No: 978 1847445452
Eleanor of Aquitaine's story deserves to be legendary. She is an icon who has fascinated readers for over 800 years. But the real Eleanor remains elusive - until now. Based on the most up-to-date research, award-winning novelist Elizabeth Chadwick brings Eleanor's magnificent story to life, as never before, unveiling the real Eleanor.

Young, golden-haired and blue-eyed Eleanor has everything to look forward to as the heiress to wealthy Aquitaine. But when her beloved father dies suddenly in the summer of 1137, her childhood is over. Forced to marry the young prince Louis of France, she barely adjusts before another death catapults them to being crowned King and Queen of France. Leaving everything behind, Eleanor must face the complex and vivacious French court. She is only 13.

Barely out of childhood, and forced to deal with great scandals, fraught relationships and forbidden love at every turn, Eleanor finally sees what her future could hold if she could just seize the moment.

Overflowing with scandal, politics, sex, triumphs and tragedies, The Summer Queen is the first novel in a stunning new trilogy.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'The Armada Legacy' by Scott Mariani

Release date: 9th May 2013
Published by: Avon
ISBN No: 978 0007398430
A sunken secret. A missing woman. A race against time. Former SAS major Ben Hope is relaxing at his home in Normandy when he hears the worst news of his life. His ex-girlfriend Dr Brooke Marcel has been kidnapped. Racing against the clock, Ben's frantic search for Brooke leads him from Ireland to the Spanish mountains and the rainforests of Peru. What is the mysterious link between the kidnapping, the salvage of a sunken 16th-century Spanish warship and the secret activities of its wealthy discoverer? As the trail of wreckage and mayhem intensifies, Ben soon uncovers a web of intrigue, corruption and brutal murder. But will he be too late to find Brooke alive?
Copyright: The Book Depository Synopsis

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

'Wildlife Wonders of China' by Xi Zhinong and Shen Cheng

Release date: 10th April 2013
Published by: BetterLink Press Incorporated
ISBN No: 978 1602200111
China is a country rich in bio-diversity that boasts gorgeous natural landscapes and wildlife, many unique to its land. Award winning nature photographer Xi Zhinong spent 30 years taking photos along rivers and across mountains, capturing the animals and natural wonders of China. Through his lens, a Yunnan snub-nosed monkey can be seen jumping between trees with her baby in her arms; thousands of Tibetan antelopes migrate in the wind and snow; and a takin, or gnu goat, couple is caught sharing a kiss atop a mountain ridge. "Wildlife Wonders of China" will lead you to the vast territory of China through photos, from the roof of the world--the Tibetan Plateau--to dry western China and the moist eastern lands influenced by monsoons. Gain insight into the changing environment in China, and be enchanted by the unique and beautiful animals living there.
Copyright: The Book Depository Synopsis

'The Asylum' by John Harwood

Release date: 20th June 2013
Published by: Jonathan Cape
ISBN No: 978 0224097413
A young woman wakes in a strange bed beneath coarse sheets.

The bare walls are a dismal green. A sickly light filters through a metal grille.

Doctor Maynard Straker steps into the room, and speaks.

'Have no fear, Miss Ashton. I am entirely at your service.'

But this is not her name. And she should not be here - in the Asylum.

She is Miss Georgina Ferrars, of Gresham's Yard, London.

And she can prove it. But when Dr Straker sends a telegram to her uncle in London, the reply is swift:


So begins a gothic mystery of high suspense and terror, as a lone woman, held against her will, must delve as deeply as she can into the void of her memory to uncover the story that will free her. She will in the end discover a web of greed and crookedness, madness, murder and heartbreak, as rich and compelling as those in the classics of Wilkie Collins and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Another Little Piece' by Kate Karyus Quinn

Release date: 11th June 2013
Published by: Harper Teen
ISBN No: 978 0062135957
The spine-tingling horror of Stephen King meets an eerie mystery worthy of Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series in Kate Karyus Quinn's haunting debut.
On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.

A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.

Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese's fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past.

Copyright: Harper Collins Synopsis

'Dance of the Red Death' by Bethany Griffin

Release date: 11th June 2013
Published by: Greenwillow books
ISBN No: 978 0062107824
Bethany Griffin continues the journey of Araby Worth in Dance of the Red Death—the sequel to her teen novel Masque of the Red Death.

In Dance of the Red Death, Araby’s world is in shambles—betrayal, death, disease, and evil forces surround her. She has no one to trust. But she finds herself and discovers that she will fight for the people she loves, and for her city.

Her revenge will take place at the menacing masked ball, though it could destroy her and everyone she loves…or it could turn her into a hero.

With a nod to Edgar Allan Poe, Bethany Griffin concludes her tragic and mysterious Red Death series with a heroine that young adult readers will never forget.
Everything is on fire.
Araby Worth's city is being torn apart by death, disease, and corrupt forces wanting to claim it for their own. She has lost her home. Her best friend is dying. Her mother has been kidnapped. The boy who made her feel something again has betrayed her. And her father may be a murderer.
But Araby has found herself.

Despite the death and destruction all around her, she will fight for herself, for her friends, for her city. Her rebellion will take her, finally, to the mad prince's palace, for the decadent—and sinister—masked ball. It could be a trap. It could be the end of them all. Or it could be the moment that Araby becomes the kind of hero she never dreamed she could be.

Copyright: Harper Collins Synopsis

Sunday, 24 March 2013

'Born of Illusion' by Teri Brown

Release date: 11th June 2013
Published by: Balzer and Bray
ISBN No: 978 0062187543
Teri Brown’s YA novel Born of Illusion launches a thrilling new series laced with romance and magic. Each book is linked to a real-life secret society founded in 1862 by Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, and others to study paranormal mysteries.
The first book introduces Anna Van Housen, a young woman living in Jazz Age New York, who may be the illegitimate daughter of the greatest magician who ever lived—Harry Houdini. Anna certainly has his talent. She is an expert illusionist. What no one knows is Anna actually has supernatural gifts.
Then a young man discovers Anna’s abilities and introduces her to members of a secret society, who are eager to study her powers and help her learn the truth about herself.

Anna Van Housen has a secret.
A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians and mentalists in 1920s New York. For Anna, the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini—or so Marguerite claims—handcuffs and sleight-of-hand illusions have never been much of a challenge. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her mother: because while Marguerite's powers may be a sham, Anna possesses a true ability to sense people's feelings and foretell the future.

But as Anna's powers intensify, she experiences frightening visions of her mother in peril, which lead her to explore the abilities she's tried so long to hide. And when a mysterious young man named Cole moves into the flat downstairs, introducing Anna to a society that studies people with gifts like hers, she begins to wonder if there's more to life than keeping secrets.

As her visions become darker and her powers spin out of her control, Anna is forced to rethink all she's ever known. Is her mother truly in danger, or are Anna's visions merely illusions? And could the great Houdini really be her father, or is it just another of Marguerite's tricks?

From Teri Brown comes a world bursting with magic, with romance, with the temptations of Jazz Age New York—and the story of a girl about to become the mistress of her own destiny.

Copyright: Harper Collins Synopsis

'The Workhouse Girl' by Dilly Court

Release date: 6th June 2013
Published by: Arrow
ISBN No: 978 0099562597
Circumstances force eight-year-old Sarah Scrase and her widowed mother Ellen to enter St Giles and St George's Workhouse in Bloomsbury.

When Ellen dies in childbirth, an independent-minded, spirited Sarah falls foul of the workhouse master Trigg and his cruel wife.

Sarah's ordeal seems to be over when philanthropist and sugar mill owner James Arbuthnot takes her into his home.

But her wealthy benefactor reports Trigg and his wife. And blaming Sarah for their misfortune, in a fit of revenge the couple decide to take the law into their own hands.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Kate's Progress' by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Release date: 31st May 2013
Published by: Severn House Publishers Ltd
ISBN No:  978 0727883094
Kate's latest failure on the London dating scene leads her to escape to an idyllic Exmoor, West Country village where she finds her 'Cinderella Project' - a run-down cottage on the edge of the moors. Her attempt to lead a quiet life there is, however, thwarted by a town seething with passion and intrigue. Competition for her affections leads to her entanglement with the Blackmore family, the local landowners consisting of the hostile and brooding Ed; his gorgeous, divorced, playboy brother Jack; and their flighty, shopaholic step-mother Camilla. Kate's new life is threatened to be turned upside-down by something rotten in the Blackmore estate. Will she be forced to scuttle back to London or prevail and find serenity and happiness in renovating her cottage? It seems that, between them, Jack and Ed may hold the key.
Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Someday, Someday, Maybe' by Lauren Graham

Release date: 30th April 2013
Published by: Ballantine Books
ISBN No: 978 0345532749
It’s January 1995, and Franny Banks has just six months left of the three-year deadline she set for herself when she came to New York, dreaming of Broadway and doing “important” work. But all she has to show for her efforts so far is a part in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters, and a gig waiting tables at a comedy club. Her roommates―her best friend Jane, and Dan, an aspiring sci-fi writer―are supportive, yet Franny knows a two-person fan club doesn’t exactly count as success. Everyone tells her she needs a backup plan, and though she can almost picture moving back home and settling down with her perfectly nice ex-boyfriend, she’s not ready to give up on her goal of having a career like her idols Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep. Not just yet. But while she dreams of filling their shoes, in the meantime, she’d happily settle for a speaking part in almost anything—and finding a hair product combination that works.

Everything is riding on the upcoming showcase for her acting class, where she’ll finally have a chance to perform for people who could actually hire her. And she can’t let herself be distracted by James Franklin, a notorious flirt and the most successful actor in her class, even though he’s suddenly started paying attention. Meanwhile, her bank account is rapidly dwindling, her father wants her to come home, and her agent doesn’t return her calls. But for some reason, she keeps believing that she just might get what she came for.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'The First World War: The War to End All Wars' by Geoffrey Jukes et al

Release date: 20th June 2013
Published by: Osprey Publishing
ISBN No: 978 1782002802
Raging for over four years across the tortured landscapes of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the First World War changed the face of warfare forever. Characterised by slow, costly advances and fierce attrition, the great battles of the Somme, Verdun and Ypres incurred human loss on a scale never previously imagined. This book, with a foreword by Professor Hew Strachan, covers the fighting on all fronts, from Flanders to Tannenberg and from Italy to Palestine. A series of moving extracts from personal letters, diaries and journals bring to life the experiences of soldiers and civilians caught up in the war.
Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Friday, 22 March 2013

'Silent Voices' by Ann Cleeves

Release date: 7th May 2013
Published by: Minotaur Books
ISBN No: 978 1250033581
When Inspector Vera Stanhope finds the body of a woman in the sauna room of her local gym, she wonders briefly if, for once in her life, she's uncovered a simple death from natural causes. But a closer inspection reveals bruises around the victim's throat, and Vera quickly realizes that she has a murder on her hands. "Silent Voices" will thrill fans of Ann Cleeves's bestselling Shetland Island mysteries, as well as traditional mystery lovers looking for a new smart police procedural with emotional heft.
Copyright: The Book Depository Synopsis

'The Things We Never Say' by Sheila O'Flanagan

Release date: 20th June 2013
Published by: Headline Review
ISBN No: 978 0755378432
Abbey Andersen is the last person to go looking for change. Yes, it's tough that she barely sees her mother these days - but in San Francisco she has great friends, a steady relationship and a job she enjoys. When Abbey is contacted by Irish lawyer Ryan Gilligan she learns in an instant everything she believed about her roots is a lie. She must travel to Dublin to find out more - but she's scarcely off the plane when she's plunged into a new crisis. One that will change everything not just for Abbey but for the family in Ireland who had no idea that she even existed. Now Abbey has to make a choice that will affect everyone she knows. How can she be sure she makes the right one? And can life ever be quite the same again?
Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Weddings in Burracombe' by Lilian Harry

Release date: 6th June 2013
Published by: Orion
ISBN No: 978 1409122364
Devon, 1954. The villagers of Burracombe pull together to help each other though the tough times but, this summer, it's time to celebrate love and new life. There are a few surprises to come, however, before anyone can walk up the aisle. It's been a long, hard winter in Burracombe. At Buracombe Barton, Hilary Napier is doing her best to care for her father and keep the estate ticking along, all the while longing for a man she cannot have. She welcomes the young Patsy Shillabeer onto her staff with open arms, but little does she realise that Patsy, flourishing away from her parents' watchful eye, is more headstrong than she first appears, and there's trouble brewing. Alice Tozer sees her youngest daughter off on the adventure of a lifetime, and welcomes her eldest son and his new wife back to the family farm. Brian brings with him new ideas and plans, and Alice watches with dismay as the whole family is thrown into turmoil. And all is not well in the village school, where a strict new teacher appears to be making the lives of the little ones a misery. To send her young son to join his siblings there seems to be Maggie Culliford's only option - she is expecting again, and she's not sure how she'll cope with yet another mouth to feed. And almost everyone is missing their beloved teacher Stella, still in hospital after the accident that nearly killed her. As the first crocuses bring colour and the promise of change back to Burracombe, the villagers find ways to help each other through the hardships, and to look forward to the good times to come. For, while the course of true love never did run smooth, for anyone, in Burracombe, there are two weddings to plan and it won't be long before everyone in this very special village comes together in a joyful celebration of love, life and the things that matter most.
Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

'The Bell Between Worlds (The Mirror Chronicles)' by Ian Johnstone

Release date: 6th June 2013
Published by: Harper Collins Children's Books
ISBN No: 978 0007491223
A glorious epic fantasy in the grand tradition of CS Lewis and Philip Pullman, and a major publishing event, The Mirror Chronicles will take you into another world, and on the adventure of your lifetime…

Half of your soul is missing.
The lost part is in the mirror.
And unless Sylas Tate can unite the two worlds, you will never be whole again.

Sylas Tate leads a lonely existence since his mother died. But then the tolling of a giant bell draws him into another world known as the Other, where he discovers not only that he has an inborn talent for magic, but also that his mother might just have come from this strange parallel place. Meanwhile, evil forces are stirring, and an astounding revelation awaits Sylas: that the Other is a mirror of our world, and every person here has their counterpart there, known as a Glimmer. As violence looms and the stakes get higher, Sylas must seek out his Glimmer, and unite the two halves of his soul – otherwise the entire universe may fall…

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Pharaoh' by David Gibbins

Release Date: 23rd May 2013
Published by: Headline
ISBN No: 978 0755354016

1351 BC: Akhenaten the Sun-Pharaoh rules supreme in Egypt...until the day he casts off his crown and mysteriously disappears into the desert, his legacy seemingly swallowed up by the remote sands beneath the Great Pyramids of Giza.

AD 1884: A British soldier serving in the Sudan stumbles upon an incredible discovery - a submerged temple containing evidence of a terrifying religion whose god was fed by human sacrifice. The soldier is on a mission to reach General Gordon before Khartoum falls. But he hides a secret of his own.

Present day: Jack Howard and his team are excavating one of the most amazing underwater sites they have ever encountered, but dark forces are watching to see what they will find. Diving into the Nile, they enter a world three thousand years back in history, inhabited by a people who have sworn to guard the greatest secret of all time...
Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'The Ice cutter's Daughter' by Tracie Peterson

Release date: 28th April 2013
Published by: Bethany House Publishers
ISBN No: 978 0764210761
Merrill Krause longs for a family of her own, but she's bound by a promise to her dying mother to care for her father and older brothers until they no longer need her. She enjoys being part of the family business, harvesting ice during the brutal Minnesota winters. Merrill actively takes part, possessing a keen ability to work with the horses--despite the advice of her good friend, who disapproves of her unladylike behaviour. When Rurik Jorgenson arrives in their small town to join his uncle doing carpentry, he soon crosses paths with Merrill. But unlike other men, who are often frightened away by her older brothers, Rurik isn't intimidated by them or by Merrill's strength and lack of femininity. As he thrives under the mentorship of his uncle, Rurik dreams of inheriting the business and claiming Merrill as his wife. But while he is determined to start a new life, the past is determined to follow him when his former fiancée and her brother show up in town. Soon Rurik is put in the centre of a major scandal that may damage his relationship with Merrill. Can they learn to trust God--and each other--and embrace the promise of love?
Copyright: The Book Depository Synopsis

'The Spanish Armada' by Robert Hutchinson

Release date: 11th April 2013
Published by: W and N
ISBN No: 978 0297866374
After the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558, Protestant England was beset by the hostile Catholic powers of Europe - not least Spain. In October 1585 King Philip II of Spain declared his intention to destroy Protestant England and began preparing invasion plans, leading to an intense intelligence war between the two countries, culminating in the dramatic sea battles of 1588. Robert Hutchinson's tautly written book is the first to examine this battle for intelligence, and uses everything from contemporary eye-witness accounts to papers held by the national archives in Spain and the UK to recount the dramatic battle that raged up the English Channel. Contrary to popular theory, the Armada was not defeated by superior English forces - in fact, Elizabeth I's parsimony meant that her ships had no munitions left by the time the Armada had fought its way up to the south coast of England. In reality it was a combination of inclement weather and bad luck that landed the killer blow on the Spanish forces, and of the 125 Spanish ships that set sail against England, only 60 limped home - the rest sunk or wrecked with barely a shot fired.
Copyright: The Book Depository Synopsis

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Interview and New Book Launch with Author S.G.Maclean

I am delighted to be able to welcome back to 'The Secret Writer', the author of four highly acclaimed historical thrillers S.G. Maclean. Long time followers of this blog may just  remember that I had the great privilege of interviewing Shona on my Blog back in 2011. For those who are interested, I will provide the link to that interview at the end of this post.

S.G. MacLean has a PhD in history from Aberdeen University, specializing in sixteenth and seventeenth century Scottish history and lives in Scotland with her husband and four children. The Devil's Recruit, Shona's fourth novel, follows three highly acclaimed historical thrillers, 'The Redemption of Alexander Seaton', 'A Game of Sorrows' and 'Crucible'. If you like historical fiction then I can highly recommend all four of these novels as truly amazing reads!

A very warm welcome to you Shona, and can I thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us again here at ‘The Secret Writer’, especially as the latest novel in your Alexander Seaton Series, ‘The Devil’s Recruit’, is being launched today!

Thanks for asking me – the site seems to have gone from strength to strength over the last couple of years!

Shona, can you briefly bring us up to date with what you have written since you last visited ‘The Secret Writer’? 

Mmm. In 2011 I had just finished Crucible of Secrets and was getting down to the research for what has become The Devil’s Recruit. It’s a story centred on the events and characters surrounding a ship filled with recruits for the 30 years’ War in Germany, docked off Aberdeen in the year 1635. The soldiers are not the only strangers in town, and Alexander Seaton gets caught up in the search for one of his students who has gone missing, and for the murderer of a young woman found dead in an artist’s garden. Matters are complicated by the fact that not all of the strangers are in fact strangers …

Can you explain to us, without giving too much away, how you developed the story that is contained within ‘The Devil’s Recruit’?

I began by looking at the records of Aberdeen for the 1630s, and my interest was caught by a variety of things going on in the town in the period – recruiting ships at anchor of the harbour, the purchase by a famous artist of the town’s former public gardens for his own use, the existence of a French school in the town. I started to wonder how these things might inter-relate. There were also one or two real historical characters, and some locations around the town that I had never used before, and which I thought had a lot of potential for interest and suspense.

When you are drafting a novel, how do you place yourself into the period of time that you are writing about?

The most important thing for me is trying to think myself in to a character’s head. The best way of doing this is by reading contemporary accounts – letters, diaries, journals. I try to understand what really mattered to them, and then approach my plot in terms of how I think they would have conducted themselves. Location is also very important to me. I will visit the places I am writing about (although, to be honest, the visit to a place often prompts the desire to write about it). I will walk the streets – so many street lay-outs, regardless of the survival or otherwise of buildings – haven’t changed much since the C17th. For those which have, I try to find old maps, and think my way back in to the locations. Music, art, architecture, museum pieces, all have their part to play in creating the tapestry in to which the plot is woven, but it is the mindset of my characters and the ‘feel’ of a location that matter most to me.

For those who are interested in the art of writing a novel, can you briefly share with us how you develop the conversations that your characters have with each other within your stories?

Uhm, pass? Quite seriously, I generally find that if I’m having to work too hard on a conversation, then it’s not working. I know this won’t ring true, but it is, absolutely, and I’ve heard other writers say the same thing: sometimes I don’t know what a character’s going to say until it’s on the screen in front of me. This is particularly true of my own favourite character from the Alexander Seaton books – his old friend and mentor Dr Jaffray. Jaffray says what he wants to say, and I take it from there. I really think he is an amalgam of my father and his friends and customers (he was a hotelier in the Highlands, the public bar, men only, being his particular fiefdom) and what Jaffray has to say comes from them. So that is probably key – listening to how people actually talk to each other. Don’t turn conversations in to straightforward exchanges of information. Think about what your character’s agenda is: how will he or she couch what they say to another character? Are they old friends, relaxed in each other’s company? Is there hostility, tension between them? Think about that before you decide how to transmit the information you want to impart.

Can you possibly give us a hint about any other books that you may have in the making?

Well, there are still about 3 Alexander Seaton books I want to write, but I am changing tack for the next couple of books to start work on a new series and character: Damian Seeker. Seeker is an enforcer for Oliver Cromwell in the London of the 1650s. He’s a very different character from Alexander, much less wracked with doubt about what he does, and definitely does not wear his heart on his sleeve; nevertheless, there are chinks in that armour … The first Seeker book will centre round characters and events in a coffee house in the City of London. I was down there researching last week. Very sore feet!

Shona, I am absolutely delighted that you have been able to visit my blog again. Thank you, it is very much appreciated! Can I wish you every success with your latest novel ‘The Devil’s Recruit’ and I do look forward to reading the new books that you have lined up for us in the future. Have a fabulous day!

Thank you very much. 


 Just click on the following link for my 2011 interview with Shona Maclean: