Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Taking a Short Break!

This is just a quick post to let you know that I am taking a short break from blogging as from today! 

 I have posted the picture below which might just give you a very strong clue as to where I'm planning on heading. I'm bringing my camera with me, so hopefully there should be some pictures of my trip to share when I get back! Take care for now  :-)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

'The Last Runaway' by Tracy Chevalier

Release date: 29th August 2013
Published by: Harper
ISBN No: 978 0007350353
Paperback Edition

The stunning new novel from the bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring. Honor Bright is a sheltered Quaker who has rarely ventured out of 1850's Dorset when she impulsively emigrates to America. Opposed to the slavery that defines and divides the country, she finds her principles tested to the limit when a runaway slave appears at the farm of her new family. In this tough, unsentimental place, where whisky bottles sit alongside quilts, Honor befriends two spirited women who will teach her how to turn ideas into actions.

Copyright: The Book Depository Synopsis

'The Queen of Four Kingdoms' by Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent

Release date: 17th October 2013
Published by: Constable
ISBN No: 978 1472108456

At the age of nineteen, Yolande of Aragon is sent away from her family, her friends, and everything she knows, to marry the young Duke of Anjou, King Charles VI's first cousin. Their marriage has been arranged to form an alliance between the previously warring kingdoms of Aragon and Anjou, and is politically fraught in a time of great danger and unrest. Yet the union between Yolande and Louis becomes not only a great love story, but also sets in motion events which will change the course of history.As Louis spends more and more time and money fighting in Italy for his claim to the Kingdom of Naples, Yolande is left alone with their six children to govern their lands. But through her charm, fierce intelligence and the clever use of her spies, she becomes the saviour of not just her kingdoms but also of France. Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent unveils this seldom told story, enriched by her own insider's perspective of royal life. The Queen of Four Kingdoms is the epic true story of a rich and riveting period of French and English history, all witnessed by the captivating and complex heroine Yolande.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'An Officer and a Spy' by Robert Harris

Release date: 10th October 2013
Published by: Hutchinson
ISBN No: 978 0091944551

From the bestselling author of' FATHERLAND', a gripping historical thriller in which the hunter becomes the hunted.

January 1895. On a freezing morning in the heart of Paris, an army officer, Georges Picquart, witnesses a convicted spy, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, being publicly humiliated in front of twenty thousand spectators baying 'Death to the Jew!'

The officer is rewarded with promotion: Picquart is made the French army's youngest colonel and put in command of 'the Statistical Section' - the shadowy intelligence unit that tracked down Dreyfus.

The spy, meanwhile, is given a punishment of medieval cruelty: Dreyfus is shipped off to a lifetime of solitary confinement on Devil's Island - unable to speak to anyone, not even his guards, his case seems closed forever.

But gradually Picquart comes to believe there is something rotten at the heart of the Statistical Section. When he discovers another German spy operating on French soil, his superiors are oddly reluctant to pursue it. Despite official warnings, Picquart persists, and soon the officer and the spy are in the same predicament.

Narrated by Picquart, An Officer and a Spy is a compelling recreation of a scandal that became the most famous miscarriage of justice in history. Compelling, too, are the echoes for our modern world: an intelligence agency gone rogue, justice corrupted in the name of national security, a newspaper witch-hunt of a persecuted minority, and the age-old instinct of those in power to cover-up their crimes.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Drakenfeld' by Mark Charan Newton

Release date: 10th October 2013
Published by: Tor
ISBN No: 978 0230766822

Inspired by the classical world of Ancient Rome and authors such as C J Sansom, Drakenfeld marks the start of a thrilling new fantasy crime series.

The monarchies of the Royal Vispasian Union have been bound together for two hundred years by laws maintained and enforced by the powerful Sun Chamber. As a result, nations have flourished but corruption, deprivation and murder will always find a way to thrive ...Receiving news of his father's death Sun Chamber Officer Lucan Drakenfeld is recalled home to the ancient city of Tryum and rapidly embroiled in a mystifying case. The King's sister has been found brutally murdered -- her beaten and bloody body discovered in a locked temple. With rumours of dark spirits and political assassination, Drakenfeld has his work cut out for him trying to separate superstition from certainty. His determination to find the killer quickly makes him a target as the underworld gangs of Tryum focus on this new threat to their power. Embarking on the biggest and most complex investigation of his career, Drakenfeld soon realises the evidence is leading him towards a motive that could ultimately bring darkness to the whole continent. The fate of the nations is in his hands.

Copyright: The Book Depository Synopsis

Saturday, 20 July 2013

'Bang (Visions Book 2)' by Lisa McMann

Release date: 8th October 2013
Published by: Simon Pulse
ISBN No: 978 1442466258

What Sawyer's seeing might mean murder. The second book in a series from the "New York Times "bestselling author of the Wake trilogy.Jules should be happy. She saved a lot of people's lives and she's finally with Sawyer, pretty much the guy of her dreams. But the nightmare's not over, because she somehow managed to pass the psycho vision stuff to Sawyer. Excellent. Feeling responsible for what he's going through and knowing that people's lives are at stake, Jules is determined to help him figure it all out. But Sawyer's vision is so awful he can barely describe it, much less make sense of it. All he can tell her is there's a gun, and eleven ear-splitting shots. Bang. Jules and Sawyer have to work out the details fast, because the visions are getting worse and that means only one thing: time is running out. But every clue they see takes them down the wrong path. If they can't prevent the vision from happening, lives will be lost. And they may be among the casualties...

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'An English Room' by Derry Moore

Release date: 27th September 2013
Published by: Prestel
ISBN No: 978 3791347295

Everyone has a favorite place to read, study, work, and dream - but there's something special about an English room. In this handsome volume filled with elegant photographs of architectural interiors and formal portraits of their occupants, some of England's most renowned sons and daughters share their sacred spaces and their personal musings about Englishness and English rooms. Benedict Cumberbatch reveals his favorite place to read a script; Jeannette Winterson shares why she treasures the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore in Paris; P.D. James divulges the inspiration for her novel, The Black Tower; and fashion designer Paul Smith contemplates the joys of his book-lined study. Gilbert & George invite you in to their Queen Anne-style home, while Alan Bennett contemplates his rumpled existence in Primrose Hill. Derry Moore's refined eye captures the essence of the English room, be it in country cottages, storied estates, medieval chapels, or artists' studios at home or abroad. All those with a passion for English culture, society, design, and fashion will relish this unique invitation to peek through the keyhole into the private lives of some of England's most public figures.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Rachel's Everyday Kitchen' by Rachel Allen

Release date: 12th September 2013
Published by: Harper Collins
ISBN No: 978 0007462377

Cookery teacher and home cook Rachel Allen returns with clever ideas, simple shortcuts and plenty of practical advice for achieving simple, wholesome and nutritious meals day after day. Rachel’s Kitchen ties in to 13-part prime time television.

This stunning, fully photographed cookbook includes over 100 tried-and-tested new recipes from bestselling cook Rachel Allen.

After years of cooking for her family, teaching at the world-renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School and listening to the questions of home cooks, Rachel has pulled together an ultimate cookery manual for getting great food on the table throughout the week without stress, expensive bills or hours at the stove.

Rachel’s Kitchen is all about everyday clever cooking: simple shortcuts, advice on weekly planning and shopping, wasting less, freezing more, preparing ahead and using leftovers, recipes than can serve more and those that can be adjusted to a tasty meal for one or two. Rachel will show you how to cook once but achieve two or three meals. A side dish of baked broccoli with garlic and pine nuts can be transformed into a spelt salad with feta. Extra mashed potato and smoked fish from a fish pie can become instant, warming Cullen Skink the next day. Her approach saves time and money, but also allows cooking to be satisfying and enjoyable rather than a chore.
Rachel’s thrifty recipes don’t require unusual ingredients that will linger at the back of the cupboard but affordable favourite ingredients that get used multiple times and underused cuts of meat or seasonal vegetables that can be made into a truly delicious dish.

From fast family suppers, packed lunches and prepared-ahead meals to stress-free roasts and biscuit-tin sweet and savoury baking - Rachel’s Kitchen is a must have, practical family cooking bible.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Cross and Burn' by Val McDermid

Release date: 10th October 2013
 Published by: Little Brown
ISBN No: 978 1408704561

Guilt and grief have driven a wedge between long time crime-fighting partners psychologist Tony Hill and ex-DCI Carol Jordan. But just because they're not talking doesn't mean the killing stops. Someone is killing women. Women who bear a disturbing resemblance to Carol Jordan. And when the evidence begins to point in a disturbing direction, thinking the unthinkable seems the only possible answer. Cornered by events, Tony and Carol are forced to fight for themselves and each other as never before...

Copyright: The Book Depository Synopsis

Thursday, 18 July 2013

An Interview with the Author Anne Zouroudi

Anne Zouroudi was born in Lincolnshire, in the east of England, and grew up in the steel town of Sheffield. For some years, she pursued a successful career in IT, which included several years in the US, working on New York's Wall Street, and in Denver, Colorado. But with no real affection for corporate life, in the early 1990's she opted out of the commercial world to marry a Greek fisherman. She moved to a small island in southern Greece, and began to learn the language and the ways of that country.

Greece's people, culture and myths inspire much of Anne's fictional work, and she’s the creator of Hermes Diaktoros, an unconventional investigator whose origins are as much of a puzzle as the mysteries he solves. Her series of Greek Detective novels are based on the Seven Deadly Sins, and, though listed as crime novels and with crime at their heart, might more accurately be categorised as Morality Tales.

Anne's work has received wide critical acclaim, and has been nominated for two national prizes. In 2012, she won the East Midlands Book Award for The Whispers of Nemesis. She currently lives in Derbyshire's Peak District.

A very warm welcome to you Anne and can I thank you, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today.
My pleasure.

For the benefit of our International readers can you tell us a bit about the part of the world that you are currently resident in and why do you like living there?
I live in the heart of England, in Derbyshire’s Peak District. It’s a national park, and the village I live in is a conservation area, all quaint cottages and winding lanes with a traditional pub. It’s a ten-minute walk to an ancient stone circle, so the place is steeped in history. I love it because it’s beautiful, and it’s peaceful, with miles of open countryside where I can walk my dog.

Can I ask what sort of books did you like reading as a child?
The first books I fell in love with were Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series. Like everyone else, I wanted those children’s idyllic lives – holidays in Cornish villages, lashings of ginger beer and smugglers round every corner. They were the original, Scooby-Doo-type meddling kids, so maybe I was displaying an early interest in the mystery genre. But I moved on to fantasy, and the wonderful, magical books of Alan Garner – Elidor and The Moon of Gomrath.

Do you think the books that you read as a child have influenced your writing in any way?
Hah! Looking at my response to the question above, I would have to say a resounding ‘yes’, since my Hermes books are essentially a marriage of two genres, mystery/crime and myth/fantasy.

Do you have a set routine when you are working on a novel?
I would so like to claim to be an organised, sit-down-at-nine-on-the-dot kind of a writer, but I’m not. I usually start work very early – as early as 5am. But sometimes I’ll wake at 2am bursting with words, write for three or four hours and then sleep late. So the hours of my writing day are not cast in stone, but I do write every day, otherwise I can’t live with the feelings of guilt.

Where do you do your writing best?
In my office. I need complete quiet to work – no music, just silence. I find it hard to believe anyone can write decent prose in places like cafes and bars – there are far too many distractions.

What made you decide to actually write fiction novels?
I am by nature a story-teller. I think it’s that simple. I have lots of stories inside me, and it feels natural to write them down. It’s no mean feat to expand a story into a novel, of course – it takes huge stamina. But a story’s as long as it needs to be, so I just keep going until it’s finished. Sometimes it’s three pages, and sometimes it’s three hundred. That makes it sound so easy. If only...

When you are writing a novel, what inspires you in relation to the type of stories that you write?

I draw inspiration from many things. I wrote a short story recently after seeing a man dragging a suitcase through city streets, and wondering where he was going. One of my favourite places for plot inspiration is those snippets of news you see in newspapers, the ‘In Brief’ section, where there’s sometimes just a line or two about something intriguing, but enough to spark a good idea. It’s intrigue that drives my writing.

How do you go about imagining, developing and give real lives and personalities to the characters that we read about within in your books?

Mostly my characters do the work for me. If I’m lucky, when I need a character, they step fully formed into my imagination. I have very clear images of all my characters in my head, but I try not to over-describe them, simply because however many words I use, I’m never going to be able to put the same picture into a reader’s mind. It’s much better if the reader creates their own picture from a few details. As for bringing the characters alive, I spend a lot of time watching everyday people, observing how they act and talk, then transfer that to my characters as I write.

Did you encounter any difficulties in getting you books accepted and published?
The Messenger of Athens was my first published book, but I wrote three novels before that, and they never found publishers. I had my fair share of rejection slips, well over a hundred. I have some of the more awful ones tucked away in a drawer, to remind me of how far I’ve come.

Do you have to undertake any research for your novels?

Research is one of the best parts of writing the Greek Detective novels. Mostly it involves finding a suitable cafe on a suitable small Greek island, ordering coffee and watching the world go by. Bliss.

What is your favourite book and why?
I love Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. It’s a book I wish I’d written, an idea I wish I’d had. Its scope is huge and ambitious, and the structure is ground-breakingly daring. It makes me feel very staid in my prose, because I write in straight lines, starting at the beginning and working through to the end. 

Are you currently reading a book at the moment and if so what is it?
I’m reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I’ve only recently discovered his books (I’m very late to the party, I know), which is surprising, because he and I plainly share quite similar views of the world. He’s a great storyteller in the old tradition, which is what I aspire to be.

Do you have any other hobbies or interests that you enjoy in order to give you a break from your normal routine and your writing?

I walk a lot. I have a large black dog, a lurcher (a greyhound/border collie cross), and he demands a lot of exercise. So when I need a break, I put on my boots, and he and I go out and see what we can see.

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

I’m working on a new novel. As to what it’s about, I prefer to remain mysterious... 

Anne, I have been absolutely delighted and very honoured that you agreed to be interviewed for my literary site. I would also like to thank-you again for taking the time to speak to us today.

Thank you for asking me. 

Just Released:-

Book Synopsis
The olive harvest is drawing to a close in the town of Dendra, and when Hermes Diaktoros arrives for the celebratory festival he expects an indulgent day of food and wine. But as young men leap a blazing bonfire in feats of daring, one of them is badly burned. Did he fall, or was he pushed? Then, as Hermes learns of a deep-running feud between two families, one of their patriarchs dies. Determined to find out why, Hermes follows a bitter trail through the olive groves to reveal a motive for murder, and uncovers a dark deed brought to light by the sin of gluttony.

If you would like to find out more about Anne and her writing, the link to her website is given below:

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

'Across a Star-Swept Sea' by Diana Peterfreund

Release date: 15th October 2013
Published by: Harper Teen
ISBN No: 978 0062006165

Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the island of Galatea, an uprising against the aristocracy has turned deadly. The revolutionaries' weapon is a drug that damages their enemies' brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On neighboring Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous teenage aristocrat Persis Blake. Her gossipy flutter notes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo . . . is her most dangerous mission ever.

Justen is hiding things, too—his disenchantment with his country's revolution, his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he's pretending to love. Persis is also falling for Justen, but when she discovers his greatest secret—one that could plunge New Pacifica into another dark age—she realizes she's not just risking her heart, she's risking the world she's sworn to protect.

Copyright: Harper Teen Synopsis

'New Money' by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Release date: 14th October 2013
Published by: Thomas Dunne Books
ISBN No: 978 1250025357

Savannah Morgan always had high hopes. She dreamed of becoming a writer and escaping her South Carolina town, where snooty debutantes looked down on her for not having a closet - full of Lilly Pulitzer and aspiring further than chairing a society ball one day. But at twenty-four, she's become a frustrated ex-cheerleader who lives with her mother and wonders if rejecting a marriage proposal was a terrible mistake. But Savannah's world is turned upside-down when she learns that the father she never knew is Edward Stone, a billionaire media mogul who has left Savannah his fortune on the condition that she move to Manhattan and work at his global news corporation. Putting aside her mother's disapproval, Savannah dives head-first into a high-class life of wealth and luxury that's threatened by Edward's other children, the infuriatingly arrogant Ned and his sharp-tongued sister, Caroline, whose joint mission is to get rid of Savannah, with the help of their icy socialite mother. Savannah's love life is also complicated by the move, and she eventually must decide between Jack, a smooth and charming real estate executive, and Alex, a handsome aspiring writer/actor. Now Savannah's must navigate a thrilling but treacherous city while she tries to figure out what kind of man her father truly was. New Money is a keenly observed, fun yet wise peek into a world of privilege and glamour with a spirited and charming heroine at its centre.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'The Liar's Daughter' by Laurie Graham

Release date: 10th October 2013
Published by: Quercus
ISBN No: 978 0857387844

When Nan Prunty's mother kept an alehouse in Portsmouth she renamed it The Duchess of Prunty, the title she claimed would have been hers had Lord Nelson lived. He was her lover. She saw him die at Trafalgar, or so she says. The details vary according to the amount of drink she's taken. Nan makes her own determined way in life, but always haunted by the wish to know the truth about her father. From the ageing seamen at the Greenwich Hospital to the battlefields of the Crimea, Nan discovers the world is full of people with a story about Nelson. There are questions we can never hope to answer. It doesn't stop us asking.

Copyright: The Book Depository Synopsis

'The Golden Thread: The Story of Writing' by Ewan Clayton

Release date: 5th September 2013
Published by:  Atlantic Books
ISBN No: 978 1848873629

The Golden Thread traces the history of an invention which has been the method of codification and dissemination of ideas in every field of human endeavour, and a motor of cultural, scientific and political progress. From the simple representative shapes used to record transactions of goods and animals in ancient Egypt, to the sophisticated typographical resources available to the twenty-first-century computer user, the story of writing is the story of human civilization itself. Ewan Clayton marks each step in the historical development of writing, and explores the social and cultural impact of every stage: the invention of the alphabet; the replacement of the papyrus scroll with the codex in the late Roman period; the perfecting of printing using moveable type in the fifteenth century and the ensuing spread of literacy; the industrialization of printing during the Industrial Revolution; the impact of artistic Modernism on the written word in the early twentieth century - and of the digital switchover at the century's close. The Golden Thread raises issues of urgent interest for a society living in an era of unprecedented change to the tools and technologies of written communication. Chief amongst these is the fundamental question: 'What does it mean to be literate in the world of the early twenty-first century?' The Golden Thread belongs on the bookshelves of anyone who is inquisitive not just about the centrality of writing in the history of humanity, but also about its future.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Monday, 15 July 2013

'Brown County Mornings' by Gary Moore

Release date: 11th September 2013
Published by: Indiana University Press
ISBN No: 978 0253011251

Rolling hills, rich forests, and beautiful vistas have made Brown County, Indiana, a favorite haunt of painters and ordinary tourists. In this gorgeous collection, landscape photographer Gary Moore reveals the spirit of the place in the morning hours as it awakens to the new day. Complementing Moore's wonderful photographs is a text by James P. Eagleman, one of the area's lifelong naturalists, which showcases the county's unique flora and fauna. Included with more than 100 color landscape photographs are Moore's tips on composition, atmosphere, and lighting, encouraging readers to test their creativity with whatever equipment they possess. A book to treasure, Brown County Mornings beckons visitors to enjoy this magical place at any time of day or year.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Emerald Green' by Kerstin Gier

Release date: 8th October 2013
Published by: Henry Holt and Company
ISBN No:  978 0805092677

Gwen has a destiny to fulfill, but no one will tell her what it is. She's only recently learned that she is the Ruby, the final member of the time-traveling Circle of Twelve, and since then nothing has been going right. She suspects the founder of the Circle, Count Saint-German, is up to something nefarious, but nobody will believe her. And she's just learned that her charming time-traveling partner, Gideon, has probably been using her all along. This stunning conclusion picks up where "Sapphire Blue" left off, reaching new heights of intrigue and romance as Gwen finally uncovers the secrets of the time-traveling society and learns her fate.

Copyright: The Book Depository Synopsis

'The Sunne in Splendour' by Sharon Penman

Release date: 12th September 2013
Published by: Macmillan
ISBN No: 978 0230768697

Richard, last-born son of the Duke of York, was seven months short of his nineteenth birthday when he bloodied himself at the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury, earning his legendary reputation as a battle commander and ending the Lancastrian line of succession. But Richard was far more than a warrior schooled in combat. He was also a devoted brother, an ardent suitor, a patron of the arts, an indulgent father, a generous friend. Above all, he was a man of fierce loyalties, great courage and firm principles, who was ill at ease among the intrigues of Edward's court. The very codes Richard lived by ultimately betrayed him. But he was betrayed by history too. Leaving no heir, his reputation was at the mercy of his successor, and Henry Tudor had too much at stake to risk mercy. Thus was born the myth of the man who would stop at nothing to gain the throne. Filled with the sights and sounds of battle, the customs and love of daily life, the rigours and dangers of Court politics and the touching concerns of very real men and women, The Sunne in Splendour is a richly coloured tapestry of medieval England.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Cross of Vengeance' by Cora Harrison

Release date: 30th September 2013
Published by:  Severn House Publishers Ltd
ISBN No: 978 0727883209

When Mara attends mass at Kilnaboy Church, it is just another duty in her busy life as Brehon of the Burren, responsible for the maintenance of law and order in the kingdom. The church holds an important relic: a piece of the true cross itself, housed inside a round tower and heralded by the huge two-armed stone cross on the church gable. Hence, on this special day, the church is packed with locals, as well as pilgrims from all over Europe. But when fire attacks the tower where the precious relic is housed, and Mara then discovers that one of the pilgrims is a disciple of Martin Luther and a hater of such sacred relics, a Spanish priest threatens the might of the Inquisition and a German traveller takes refuge in the church. However, the next morning, a naked body is found dead, spread-eagled in the shape of a cross, on top of one of the tombs on the hill behind the church. Was it one of the true pilgrims who killed him? Or perhaps the priest of the parish, helped by his grave digger? Or was it even the innkeeper, whose business has been ruined now that the relic, which attracted visitors from all over Europe, has been destroyed? Once again, it is Mara's task, along with that of her law-school pupils, to investigate and uphold the power of the law ...

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Saturday, 13 July 2013

'Postcards From The Past' by Marcia Willett

Release date: 10th October 2013
Published by: Bantam Press
ISBN No: 978 0593071519

Siblings Billa and Ed share their beautiful, grand old childhood home in rural Cornwall. Their lives are uncomplicated. With family and friends nearby and their free and easy living arrangements, life seems as content as can be.

But when postcards start arriving from a sinister figure they thought belonged well and truly in their pasts, old memories are stirred. Why is he contacting them now? And what has he been hiding all these years?

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'The Kingdom of Little Wounds' by Susann Cokal

Release date: 8th October 2013
Published by: Candlewick Press
ISBN No: 978 0763666941

A young seamstress and a royal nursemaid find themselves at the center of an epic power struggle in this stunning young-adult debut.

On the eve of Princess Sophia’s wedding, the Scandinavian city of Skyggehavn prepares to fete the occasion with a sumptuous display of riches: brocade and satin and jewels, feasts of sugar fruit and sweet spiced wine. Yet beneath the veneer of celebration, a shiver of darkness creeps through the palace halls. A mysterious illness plagues the royal family, threatening the lives of the throne’s heirs, and a courtier’s wolfish hunger for the king’s favors sets a devious plot in motion. Here in the palace at Skyggehavn, things are seldom as they seem — and when a single errant prick of a needle sets off a series of events that will alter the course of history, the fates of seamstress Ava Bingen and mute nursemaid Midi Sorte become irrevocably intertwined with that of mad Queen Isabel. As they navigate a tangled web of palace intrigue, power-lust, and deception, Ava and Midi must carve out their own survival any way they can.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Wars of the Roses: Stormbird' by Conn Iggulden

Release date: 10th October 2013
Published by: Michael Joseph
ISBN No: 978 0718159832

King Henry V - the great Lion of England - is long dead.

In 1437, after years of regency, the pious and gentle Henry VI, the Lamb, comes of age and accedes to the English throne. His poor health and frailty of mind render him a weakling king - Henry depends on his closest men, Spymaster Derry Brewer and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, to run his kingdom.

Yet there are those, such as the Plantagenet Richard, Duke of York, who believe England must be led by a strong king if she is to survive. With England's territories in France under threat, and rumours of revolt at home, fears grow that Henry and his advisers will see the country slide into ruin. With a secret deal struck for Henry to marry a young French noblewoman, Margaret of Anjou, those fears become all too real.

As storm clouds gather over England, King Henry and his supporters find themselves besieged abroad and at home. Who, or what, can save the kingdom before it is too late?

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Chaucer: A London Life' by Ardis Butterfield

Release date: 30th September 2013
Published by: I.B.Tauris and Co Ltd
ISBN No: 978 1845118341

Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340-1400) is celebrated as the father of English. Demonstrating for the first time that the English language had greatness and legitimacy, Chaucer's role in the rise of England's self-identity was immense. Yet there was more to Chaucer than national wordsmith. Clerk of the King's Works, and servant of the state, he lived in the seething streets and echoing alleyways of 14th century London. Through his works we hear the voices of everyday Londoners in a way that was not to be repeated until Pepys began his diary. This late medieval capital was a tense and febrile urban environment, convulsed by riot and climaxing in the shattering overthrow of a deserted king. It was also a city in constant and intimate contact with the continent. Chaucer travelled on court and diplomatic business right across Europe, and married a woman from the Low Countries. In this major new biography, the first for many years, Ardis Butterfield opens a window onto this pulsating city, placing the writer in vibrant context. She shows that Chaucer's major works, The Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Crysede, were not written in isolation from but in response to international ideas. London was an innovative capital at the centre of cultural and political events, populated by communities who were now encountering the daring new work of Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio, written not in Latin but in these poets' own vernaculars. Far from being a narrowly national writer, Chaucer was cosmopolitan to the core, living, like modern-day Londoners, in one of the most exciting cities on earth.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Friday, 12 July 2013

Guest Post and New Book Release by Author Grace Elliot

I am delighted to be able to welcome back the author Grace Elliot to 'The Secret Writer'. Grace leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Grace lives near London and is passionate about history, romance and cats! She is housekeeping staff to five cats, two sons, one husband and a bearded dragon (not necessarily listed in order of importance)! Grace has just published her fourth novel “Verity’s Lie” and she has written a guest post for us today. Grace's post is titled 'Cats in Fiction' and in this post she will also tell us a bit about her latest novel 'Verity's Lie'. Thank you Grace for your Guest Post and we all wish you the very best of luck with your new book! 

Cats in Fiction
Is it just me, or is a house not a home without a pet?

OK, I admit to being biased because I’m a bit bonkers when it comes to cats, but for me animals give a place soul – and the same is so for animals in books – their presence gives an extra dimension and by seeing how characters react to felines, give extra clues to their character. References to cats in particular can be found in classic literature from Charles Dickens to Henry James, Rudyard Kipling to Emile Zola.

Indeed, I suspect the Victorian novelist George Moore thinks much the same as me as he bemoaned the absence of pets from those most august of novels ‘Tom Jones’ and ‘Vanity Fair’. His reasoning went like this:“Both books lack intimacy of thought and feeling. No one sits by the fire and thinks…and welcomes the approach of a familiar bird or animal.”

To my view, Charles Dickens was on the right track. He knew that animals are important in making a book come to life. Take for example ‘Bleak House’ which features several cats. There is Krook’s cat Lady Jane who follows her master or perches hissing on his shoulder. Then there is Mr Jellyby’s cat who finishes his morning milk, and finally, Mrs Pipchin’s old cat who likes to purr...   “While the contracting pupils of his eyes looked like two notes of admiration.”

Come to think of it, Dickens has quite an association with cats because he made several references to cat pies…but that’s another story.

Perhaps the master of feline literature is Rudyard Kipling in his “Just So” stories. He wrote a story titled “The cat that walked by himself”. In this tale the cat makes a bargain with the woman that he will accept milk and a place by the hearth, and in return will do only what he wants to do– which deliciously sums up the independent nature of the cats.

In one of my favourite novels, ‘Wolf Hall’ by Hilary Mantel, there is a delicious evocative passage that describing an interaction with Cromwell’s cat, Marlinspike.

“A cat may look at a king,” he [Cromwell] says. He is cradling Marlinspike in his arms, and talking to Thomas Avery, the boy he’s teaching his trade……He puts the cat down, opens the bag.He fishes up on a finger a string of rosary beads; for show says Avery, and he says, good boy. Marlinspike leaps on to his desk; he peers into the bag, dabbing with a paw. “The only mice in there are sugar ones.” The boy [Avery] pulls the cat’s ears, tussles with him. “We don’t have any little pets in Master Vaughan’s house.”

I love to find a reference to an animal in a novel. To see how characters react to it can speak volumes for their personality – things they may wish to keep hidden, leak to the surface when there’s a cat about. In my new release “Verity’s Lie” – rogue and general bad boy, Lord Ryevale, encounters a cat and in so doing, accidentally reveals a softer side that sets our heroine wondering…

Verity stepped into a bright hallway that smelt of sweet peas.  A jute runner covered the flagstones and picture frames lined the walls.  There was a lack of fussiness and sense of refined simplicity that appealed to Verity.  Added to that, a plump back cat came padding along the corridor, mewling for attention.

 "Gibbe, you cheeky boy.  I might have known you'd appear when visitors arrive...making out as if no one feeds you."

The cat made straight for Lord Ryevale and rubbed around his ankles whilst purring ecstatically.  His lordship stooped to rub Gibbe's ears, the purrs growing ever louder.  Seeing this softer side of Ryevale moved Verity beyond words.

"You like that, don’t you?  Is that the spot?" A soft light entered Ryevale's eye.  Verity watched wide-eyed as the cat rolled over to display his ample belly whilst Ryevale clicked his tongue and made gooey noises. 

It was Mrs Featherstone who interrupted this touching scene.  "Now Gibbe, leave his lordship alone.  Come into the kitchen and I'll find you some oysters.  Lord Ryevale, dear, Miss Foster is in the studio.  Can you see yourself up?"

"Indeed."  Ryevale glanced around defensively, as if remembering Verity's presence.  "This way, Miss Verrinder."

Book Synopsis
Charles Huntley, Lord Ryevale, infamous rogue…and government agent.

In unsettled times, with England at war with France, Ryevale is assigned to covertly protect a politician’s daughter, Miss Verity Verrinder. To keep Verity under his watchful eye, Ryevale plots a campaign of seduction that no woman can resist– except it seems, Miss Verrinder. In order to gain her trust Ryevale enters Verity’s world of charity meetings and bookshops…where the unexpected happens and he falls in love with his charge.

When Lord Ryevale turns his bone-melting charms on her, Verity questions his lordship’s motivation. But with her controlling father abroad, Verity wishes to explore London and reluctantly accepts Ryevale’s companionship. As the compelling attraction between them strengthens, Verity is shattered to learn her instincts are correct after all – and Ryevale is not what he seems. So if Lord Ryevale can lie, so can she… with disastrous consequences.

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