Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Historical Saga Set In Wales THE COVENANT by @ThorneMoore @honno

Today’s team review is from Alison, she blogs here https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading The Covenant by Thorne Moore

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What a fabulous book! The way women were expected to live in the not all that distant past has always fascinated me, and I love stories about those who endeavour to live their best lives in the face of so much misogyny and poverty.

The location appealed to me too as the novel is set close to where I live – the villages of Cilgerran and Boncath are both ten minutes away so it was very easy for me to imagine Leah’s world.

The author depicts this world so clearly, with beautiful, evocative description that doesn’t weigh the narrative down. There’s such a strong sense of time and place and a real authenticity throughout.

The novel shows how precarious life was for tenanted farmers; an accident, an illness, and everything could be lost. And no matter how strong, how intelligent, how capable, if you were a woman, your life was defined by duty – to your father, to your husband, your brother, the church.

Despite this, Leah is so full of life – she’s an absolute pleasure to read. She’s strong, she’s intelligent, she’s resourceful and determined, but she also dreams and laughs and loves. You’re willing her to find the life and the happiness she so deserves.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and it definitely won’t be the last.

Highly recommended.

Five stars.

Book description

The Owens are tied to this Pembrokeshire land – no-one will part them from it.

Leah is tied to home and hearth by debts of love and duty – duty to her father, turned religious zealot after the tragic death of his eldest son, Tom; love for her wastrel younger brother Frank’s two motherless children. One of them will escape, the other will be doomed to follow in their grandfather’s footsteps.

At the close of the 19th century, Cwmderwen’stwenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches are hardwon, the holding run down over the years by debt and poor harvest. But they are all the Owens have and their rent is always paid on time. With Tom’s death a crack is opened up and into this chink in the fabric of the family step Jacob John and his wayward son Eli, always on the lookout for an opportunity.

Saving her family, good and bad, saving Cwmderwen, will change Leah forever and steal her dreams, perhaps even her life…

The Covenant is the shocking prequel to the bestselling A Time For Silence.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Historical Family Saga THE COVENANT by @ThorneMoore @honno

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs here https://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading The Covenant by Thorne Moore.

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The Owen family are bound by covenant to hold a tenancy of 24 acres, 1 rood and 8 perches and Leah sacrifices years doing her duty to her family and a God, she eventually no longer believes in, to keep the land. The story of her life is a hard one with blow after blow being dealt as she is gradually worn down while, with a stoicism that’s hard to imagine, she has to watch another living the life she should have had.

What is clear throughout this book is the vast amount of research Moore must have done in order to settle this story so comfortably in its surroundings. I was completely absorbed by the setting and the characters that inhabited it.

Every character is wonderful but I thought Leah was exceptional and Moore’s portrayal of her extremely well done. What else can I say… the writing is superb, I did not want to put this book down and I urge anyone reading this to buy it now and start reading. I will definitely be enjoying A Time for Silence soon.

Book description

The Owens are tied to this Pembrokeshire land – no-one will part them from it.

Leah is tied to home and hearth by debts of love and duty – duty to her father, turned religious zealot after the tragic death of his eldest son, Tom; love for her wastrel younger brother Frank’s two motherless children. One of them will escape, the other will be doomed to follow in their grandfather’s footsteps.

At the close of the 19th century, Cwmderwen’stwenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches are hardwon, the holding run down over the years by debt and poor harvest. But they are all the Owens have and their rent is always paid on time. With Tom’s death a crack is opened up and into this chink in the fabric of the family step Jacob John and his wayward son Eli, always on the lookout for an opportunity.

Saving her family, good and bad, saving Cwmderwen, will change Leah forever and steal her dreams, perhaps even her life…

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Family Saga Set In Wales, THE COVENANT by @ThorneMoore @honno

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

Terry has been reading The Covenant by Thorne Moore

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5 out of 5 stars

This doom-laden tale about the Owen family and their land begins with a mystery: the discovery of a body, declared to be that that of Leah Owen, who happens to be the main character of the novel—but this is in no way a spoiler.  If anything, it provided added intrigue to the story, which then goes back in time to Leah’s childhood.  Much later, the why and how of the initial chapter comes as a total surprise.

Life on Cwmderwen is hard, with strict adherence to the word of God—and that of Thomas Owen, head of the family, who becomes a religious zealot to the point of insanity after the death of his eldest son.  Leah’s entire life is ruled by duty to family and farm, and the restrictions of religion.  Her bright childhood spirit is quelled by bereavement and loss of love—happiness is snatched from her at every turn.  Aside from the day to day problems (scratching a living, troublesome rellies and a wrathful killjoy of a god), Leah also has to contend with the malignant presence of slimy businessman Eli John, who has unwelcome influence over their lives.

I was completely absorbed in this book all the way through; it’s so well-written, every character clearly defined, every piece of research unobtrusive (and it is clear that the author knows her subject so well), every dark, dismal day in the Welsh valleys so real.  Although it is most definitely worth 5* for the quality of the writing and the story itself, I was initially going to take off a half star because of personal taste; I found this book more depressing than any novel of stark dystopian futures, simply because of the lives wasted and made unhappy because of the barmy religious and social protocols of the day.  But the end was uplifting indeed, enough to make me revise that; Thorne Moore, you have earned that extra half star!

If you love nitty-gritty, no-frills family sagas set in relatively recent times, you will ADORE this.  Even if they’re not quite your thing, you’ll still love it.  I did.  I read at the end that it’s actually a prequel to A Time For Silence, which I have just bought.  There—that proves I loved it!

Book description

The Owens are tied to this Pembrokeshire land – no-one will part them from it.

Leah is tied to home and hearth by debts of love and duty – duty to her father, turned religious zealot after the tragic death of his eldest son, Tom; love for her wastrel younger brother Frank’s two motherless children. One of them will escape, the other will be doomed to follow in their grandfather’s footsteps.

At the close of the 19th century, Cwmderwen’stwenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches are hardwon, the holding run down over the years by debt and poor harvest. But they are all the Owens have and their rent is always paid on time. With Tom’s death a crack is opened up and into this chink in the fabric of the family step Jacob John and his wayward son Eli, always on the lookout for an opportunity.

Saving her family, good and bad, saving Cwmderwen, will change Leah forever and steal her dreams, perhaps even her life…

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction THE COVENANT by @ThorneMoore

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Covenant by Thorne Moore

The Covenant by [Thorne Moore]

The Covenant is a powerful novel which gobsmacked me with the fierce emotions of its characters and the immutable future of unending work and forced acceptance of their fate, by woman in the period of this story. This is a prequel to the author’s best-selling A Time for Silence, and is a must read.

Written in first person, the author has created in Leah Owen, the middle daughter of a farmer in Wales at the close of the 19th century, a woman burdened by both love and duty. Her father, Tom Owen, is a tenant farmer on twenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches of stony, hilly
land, and together with his oldest son, barely ekes out a subsistence for his family. The farm –Cwmderwen (and I wish I could pronounce it!) and its house are very real characters in the story, setting a grim, rundown background as the result of debt and poor harvest.

Leah has hopes. As the middle daughter, she will be able to marry and leave Cwmderwen to lead her own life. Her oldest sister, a strangely quiet and dour woman, will remain behind to care for her parents. When the oldest son Tom dies, largely because of the ignorance of his father, the father, always pious, becomes a religious zealot. He drives his lazy youngest son, Frank, away. When both the oldest and youngest daughter marry and her mother dies, Leah is left to take care of her increasingly maniacal father, even when love comes her way. She is forced to follow a path of servitude and disappointments to a grim future. Tom Owen’s grandson, John – son of the wastrel Frank – becomes a miniature of his grandfather, claiming his covenant with God in keeping the farm and determined to keep the increasingly unproductive farm.

Farmhouse, Derelict, Ireland, Nature, Field, Farm

What possible future does Leah have? Can she remain dutiful, even to Frank and her nephew, bound as she is by the community, her church and custom? And how can she survive when her every dream is crushed by her family.

The author does an impressive job creating a background of isolated and rural Pembrokeshire, the changing seasons and vicissitudes of farming. The detail never becomes heavy but is integral to the story. Her ability to create depth in her characters, their beliefs and piety, and the changes and occasional joys in their lives is exceptional. The reader lives in Leah’s being and the feelings are at times overwhelming.

This is a book with a wallop, and I recommend it as an exception read.

Book description

The Owens are tied to this Pembrokeshire land – no-one will part them from it.

Leah is tied to home and hearth by debts of love and duty – duty to her father, turned religious zealot after the tragic death of his eldest son, Tom; love for her wastrel younger brother Frank’s two motherless children. One of them will escape, the other will be doomed to follow in their grandfather’s footsteps.

At the close of the 19th century, Cwmderwen’stwenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches are hardwon, the holding run down over the years by debt and poor harvest. But they are all the Owens have and their rent is always paid on time. With Tom’s death a crack is opened up and into this chink in the fabric of the family step Jacob John and his wayward son Eli, always on the lookout for an opportunity.

Saving her family, good and bad, saving Cwmderwen, will change Leah forever and steal her dreams, perhaps even her life…

The Covenant is the shocking prequel to the bestselling A Time For Silence.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

The Covenant by [Thorne Moore]

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistFic Long Shadows by @ThorneMoore #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Long Shadows by Thorne Moore

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5 out of 5 stars

Three novellas, set in different historical eras, about the same place, Llys y Garn, a rambling Pembrokeshire mansion in which aspects of its former lives still remain ~ and not just within the building itself.

I loved every word of this book; I kept trying to read it slowly, so it wouldn’t end. The stories are haunting and sad, and say much about the sad lot of women in eras in which they are set.

The Good Servant takes place around the turn of the 20th century, and is about an old spinster maid, Eluned Skeel, who has no one and nothing to love but the unwanted nephew of the family she serves, taken in by them when he has no one else. As Cyril Lawson grows up he causes everyone around him pain – but he is Skeel’s reason for being, whatever he does.  

The Witch is the story of 17th century Elizabeth, daughter of a father who cares nothing for her aside from the fortune or social standing she can bring him through marriage. Elizabeth, though, cares only for Llys y Garn, and wonders if she might be a servant of the devil, as ill falls all who would seek to take it from her.

The Dragon Slayer tells of Angharad, in the 14th century, who longs to escape from the brutality, pain and death of her father’s house, and see the world.  

I didn’t have a favourite; they’re all as good as each other.  Beautifully written, marvellous stories.This book reminded me, in subject matter and writing style, of Norah Lofts’ books The House at Old Vine and A Wayside Tavern. Can’t recommend too highly.

Book description

Llys y Garn is a rambling Victorian-Gothic mansion with vestiges of older glories.

It lies in the isolated parish of Rhyd y Groes in North Pembrokeshire. It is the house of the parish, even in its decline, deeply conscious of its importance, its pedigree and its permanence. It stubbornly remains though the lives of former inhabitants have long since passed away. Only the rooks are left to bear witness to the often desperate march of history.

Throne Moore’s Long Shadows: Tales of Llys y Garn comprises a trio of historical novellas that let us into secrets known only to these melancholy birds.

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My #Bookreview of #RomCom The Year Of Surprising Acts Of Kindness by @laurajanekemp @orionbooks

The Year of Surprising Acts of KindnessThe Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness by Laura Kemp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Year Of Surprising Acts Of Kindness is a romantic comedy.

Ceri Price is grieving for her mother who recently died. When her sister takes steps to empty the family home and make it ready to sell, Ceri finds it hard to let go. She heads to Wales where her mother asked to have her ashes spread.

The sleepy seaside village of Dwynwen has little appeal; it’s no longer a tourist hotspot, so Ceri won’t be staying long. The lack of internet cuts her off from her old life, but soon the location and the villagers appeal more than returning to work. Can a village named after an ancient goddess of love still work magic against the odds of a modern world?

When I read the title of this book, I envisioned a story dominated by a year-long challenge of kind acts. This tale is quite different to my expectations; its main storyline revolves around Ceri and her journey through loss and grief and her hopes of finding love. The acts of kindness become part of the storyline, some obvious, others less so. Some seep from characters who care, while others evolve as the story moves forward.

This was a light read and fits the genre well, not quite what I was expecting but I was still keen to see how Ceri’s story evolved. Recommended for those who enjoy a contemporary style romance and Welsh seaside setting.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Ceri Price only means to stay in her mother’s childhood village in West Wales for a few nights. But when a case of mistaken identity lands her a job as a barmaid in the local pub, she unexpectedly finds friendship, and perhaps a chance at love.

Then mysterious acts of kindness – strings of bunting, a new signpost, pots of paint to spruce up the seafront houses – start bringing new life to the village. But who is behind these surprising gifts, and can a little kindness change all their lives?

About the author

Laura Kemp writes tender but hilarious romantic comedies which are unashamed love letters to the everywoman.
Her uplifting message – based on the notion that everything is research apart from the rude bits – is ‘You Don’t Know How Brilliant You Are!’.
A journalist who has written for The Guardian, The Daily Mail and The Sun amongst others, she is married with a son in Cardiff, where she pretends to be a domestic revolutionary so she doesn’t have to do the ironing. Runs to eat crisps and drink wine, adores her mates and loves her dog, Lego and sweary cross-stitch.

Laura Kemp

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT @Jennykreeve reviews #Thriller Shadows by @ThorneMoore

Today’s team review is from Jenny R.

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading Shadows by Thorne Moore

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Shadows, by Thorne Moore

Thriller

4 stars – review by Jenny Reeve

The ‘shadows’ haunt Kate; constantly they are nagging at her and taunting her. Kate feels death and the pain and suffering which those who die feel when their life is taken from them.  This is something that Kate needs so desperately to escape from.  Can the move to Llys y Garn resolve her tormented mind? Would renovating this old place with Sylvia and Michael help to take her mind away from the disturbing shadows?

The plot unravels very slowly and Thorne Moore has a skilful way of writing, which engulfs the reader. You are taken through every character piece by piece. I felt as though I were dissecting each and every inch of them, the way their minds work, the way they feel, think and the way that they grow, moulding themselves to your thoughts.

There are a couple of twists in the tale too. Unexpected and brilliantly constructed which make this story what it is; a good thriller.

The only criticism I have is that Thorne Moore could have enhanced the use of the ‘shadows’ more. This would have given rise to additional dark goings on in the house whilst the renovations were taking place.

I found the book a very good read and would recommend it to all that like a good thriller.

Book Description

A compelling blend of mystery and family drama with a gothic twist, by the Top Ten bestselling author of A Time for Silence

Kate Lawrence can sense the shadow of violent death, past and present.

In her struggle to cope with her unwelcome gift, she has frozen people out of her life.

Her marriage is on the rocks, her career is in chaos and she urgently needs to get a grip.

So she decides to start again, by joining her effervescent cousin Sylvia and partner Michael in their mission to restore and revitalise Llys y Garn, an old mansion in the wilds of North Pembrokeshire.

It is certainly a new start, as she takes on Sylvia’s grandiose schemes, but it brings Kate to a place that is thick with the shadows of past deaths.

The house and grounds are full of mysteries that only she can sense, but she is determined to face them down – so determined that she fails to notice that ancient energies are not the only shadows threatening the seemingly idyllic world of Llys y Garn.

The happy equilibrium is disrupted by the arrival of Sylvia’s sadistic and manipulative son, Christian – but just how dangerous is he?

Then, once more, Kate senses that a violent death has occurred…

Set in the majestic and magical Welsh countryside, Shadows is a haunting exploration of the dark side of people and landscape.

About the author

Thorne Moore

Thorne was born in Luton and graduated from Aberystwyth University (history) and from the Open University (Law). She set up a restaurant with her sister but now spends her time writing and making miniature furniture for collectors. She lives in Pembrokeshire, which forms a background for much of her writing, as does Luton. She writes psychological mysteries, or “domestic noir,” and her first novel, A Time For Silence, was published by Honno in 2012. Motherlove and The Unravelling followed, also published by Honno. She has also brought out a book of short stories, Moments of Consequence. Her last novel, Shadows, was published by Endeavour in 2017. She’s a member of the Crime Writers Association.

 

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