Baggy Pants and Booties by @MarilynChapma77 @PublishingPush #Histfic

Baggy Pants and Bootees - second editionBaggy Pants and Bootees – second edition by Marilyn Chapman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Baggy Pants and Bootees is a historical fiction set in England with two time settings. We first meet Sophie in 1968, she’s a trainee newspaper reporter in Yorkshire. She’s determined to make a go of a job as a woman in a male dominated career. There is prejudice and unfair working conditions for Sophie but she is strong willed and determined.

A phone call out of the blue from her mother who threw her out when she was just sixteen, concerns Sophie. When she finds out her Mum has been hospitalised Sophie feels obliged to visit. An alcoholic Frances is in a bad way.

The clock turns back to 1940. Frances just fourteen lives in Coventry with her Mum, Dad and younger brother. On one night of bombing Frances runs out into the street to see the action. This saves her life as her house took a direct bomb. Left with no relatives the system puts her in an orphanage in Leicester, but she runs away for her own safety. Working in an factory Frances and her fellow workers meet Americans from the 82nd Airborne Division, known as “The Baggy Pants”. Ed Trask helps Frances and they fall in love, only for Ed to be sent out on his next mission.

A young Frances has to cope in severe conditions and delays in shock cause her mental health to become unstable, she had a very hard life and in the 1960’s Sophie tries to build up a picture of her life and find answers to questions from long ago.

The book title and cover give very little away about this book, it’s quite a little gem. Well paced, scenes move on quickly which keep the reader engaged. I felt very connected to both Sophie and Frances in their separate plights. I liked the fact that several of the character’s endings were left quite open and not all tied neatly off, it made the book more realistic.

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by Publishing Push.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Barb Reviews Last Child by Terry Tyler

Today we have a review from Barb, she blogs at http://barbtaub.com/

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Barb has been reading Last Child by Terry Tyler

Last Child by Terry Tyler

Last Child by Terry Tyler

The good old days…weren’t

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I’ve wondered what the effect might have been if historical (or literary) figures had modern technology. (If Adam and Eve Sent Texts) Would Julius Caesar have gotten a text from Anthony: Hey, J—that seer chick’s Ides of March RT is mega trending. Might want to work from home that day bro.

Of course, the fates are sneaky bitches, so maybe they would have just wriggled things around to make them happen as usual. Romeo was a bit wet anyway, so he’d probably have forgotten to take his phone charger when he skipped out of Verona. He wouldn’t have seen Juliet’s text message: Guna fake my dead so mma d’crypt @midnite on Thu. O n dont come erly nthink I’m x-( . N no go-N2 1 of yr meltdowns n kilyrslf. Lol.

Terry Tyler’s entertaining approach to historical upgrades brought us Kings and Queens, and she’s just released her new sequel, LAST CHILD.



gold starMy Review: 5 out of 5 stars for LAST CHILD

‘Tour de force: a feat or display of strength, skill, or ingenuity. a very skillful and successful effort or performance’ –Miriam-Webster

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Terry Tyler gave serious consideration to the Tudors’ historical makeover in her stunning novel, Kings and Queens (see my review plus interview with Terry here). As I said in that review, what turned an interesting concept into a tour de force was that each woman told her personal story in her own unique voice. It was captivating and absolutely mesmerizing to not only see each character’s internal reasoning, but also to get a voyeur’s view of each woman through the eyes of the others.

The only problem? I wanted to know… no, I needed to know what came next. Sure, I could read the history books. But it wasn’t the same as getting in the heads of these women and seeing how their hopes and dreams and failures played out. And then getting to see that all over again through different eyes.

 

But great news! Terry Tyler has just released LAST CHILD. Not only can I get my “and then what?” fix, but she continues to find the unique character and voice for the next generation, the three surviving children of Harry Lanchester/ Henry VIII:

  • Young Jasper/King Edward VI, Harry’s designated heir, is teetering between childhood and proud acceptance of his future. “When Izzy talks about J. Dud ‘running amok’ I get a picture in my mind of him haring round the boardroom with a tomahawk, I don’t know why. I think it’s the ‘k’ in ‘amok’.”
  • Eldest daughter Isabella/Queen Mary I tells us, “People say, oh, Isabella never got over her parents getting divorced, it’s time she let the past go and moved on, but they haven’t got a clue what I went through, or they’d know it couldn’t do anything but colour the rest of my life.
  • Younger daughter Erin/Queen Elizabeth I is a girl whose strength—and tragedy—is to see more clearly than any other character what her role and future must be. “Do you know why I shall never do the husband bit?” she said, pointing her cigarette a bit too close to my face. “It’s because it ends women’s lives. Look at the evidence. My mother, my beautiful, intelligent, much sought after mother— she falls in love with my father, he screws around and rejects her, she ODs on charlie alone in her flat. Jaz’s mum would probably be alive and kicking if she hadn’t married my dad, as would Keira Howard. Izzy— I need say no more. Even if you don’t end up dead or in a nuthouse, getting married totally erodes your confidence and breaks your heart. Ask Kate, or Izzy’s mum. Or your mum. Or your wife, come to think of it. Nah, you’re better off alone, just having lovers. The trouble comes when you start believing in true love.

In addition, LAST CHILD give us the fascinating supporting cast of characters who orbit the Lanchester/Tudor family. I particularly liked Raine/Lady Jane Grey, whose drive to rise above her council-flat background only brings her triumph crashing down after her nine-day ‘reign’ (I can’t be the only one who likes that pun!): “Most of all, I wanted people to see me as someone they’d like to emulate, not as part of some pop psychology-loving, lazy, dog-on-a-string, pink dreadlocked, weirdo hippy underclass, to be laughed and pointed at.”

Even more remarkably, while following the sweep of history, Terry Tyler isn’t a slave to the changes that would come from modernizing. So along with the fun of recognizing characters and historical events, there is the surprise and delight of seeing them interpreted in modern terms.

I wouldn’t hesitate to give LAST CHILD five stars out of five. Quite simply, Terry Tyler has done it again. I thought that Kings and Queens would be difficult to top. But what I realized was that she didn’t need to top it. LAST CHILD is, instead, the brilliantly-executed, perfectly plotted, proper end to the story. I should probably tell you that you don’t really have to read Kings and Queens first. But that would mean you miss out on half the fun and a lot of inside jokes. So do yourself a favor—get a good bottle of wine, some quality me-time, and these two amazing reads. You deserve it.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Noelle reviews The Watchmen by Richard Denham and M. J. Trow

Today we have a review from team member Noelle, she blogs at http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

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Noelle chose to read and review The Watchmen by Richard Denham and M.J. Trow

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The Watchmen is the second book in the Britannia series by Richard Denham and M.J. Trow. I read and reviewed the first book in the series, The Wall. I liked that book; this one was more entertaining.

The Wall began in AD 367 in Roman Britannia, modern day England. The Watchmen is set years later and the four so-called ‘Heroes of the Wall’ are living very different lives from their earlier roles in the Roman Army. Leocadius, once a bragging and womanizing pedes or foot soldier, is now a leader in civilian life, the council of Londinium (London), with a cold wife and a warm mistress, Honoria. The beautiful Honoria runs an upper class brothel and has a child, Scipio, with Leocadius. Vitalis, also once a foot soldier, has become a Christian and now lives in a rough house by the Thames, where he weaves baskets for sale from the river grasses. Justinus, once a 30 year old non-commissioned officer of the cavalry, is now Commander of Hadrian’s Wall, tasked with protecting Britannia from invaders from the wild lands north of the Wall. Paternus, a semisallis (a rank above pedes) had lost his family in the earlier book and had made a political marriage with Brenna, female leader of the Voltadini, to tie her people to Rome. They’d fallen in love and had a child together, but Paternus had died five years before the story begins. Justinus is in love with Brenna and committed to overseeing the development and education of her two boys, one from an earlier marriage and the one fathered by Paternus. Around these characters the book swirls, moving swiftly from one to the other, leaving the reader with multiple cliffhangers.

The figure tying the separate story lines together is Magnus Maximus, commander of the Roman Army in Britannia. He declares himself Caesar, a challenger to the throne of Gratian, Emperor of the western Roman Empire. Gratian shares the throne with his brother Valentinian II, Emperor of the eastern half of the Roman Empire. At the beginning of the book, Maximus is demanding and winning allegiance from the various native tribes in Britannia, as their Caesar.

Leocadius is mired in the politics of Londinium and saddled with a grasping wife. He plays dice for his life. Vitalis wants a peaceful life but has to rejoin the military to help his sister Conchessa find her husband, who defrauded Valentinian and is missing. Justinus is facing a massive incursion of invaders determined to kill everything and everyone in their way and has to work with Maximus and the tribes allied with him to stop them. Each of their stories winds through the book like ribbons on a maypole, detailed with Celtic legend, Egyptian mysticism and tribal battle-fury. How many of the remaining three Heroes of the Wall will survive?

I only have two negative comments: first, the story of Maximus’ campaign against Gratian is given short shrift – in itself, it could have been another volume; second, there were places where the characters use very contemporary expressions, which was a little jarring. I appreciated the glossary at the end of the book for Roman terms with which I wasn’t familiar, and the map showing sites from the narrative.

Richard Denham is a self-taught Roman historian with an exhaustive knowledge of this period; M.J.Trow is a military historian. They have combined their talents to bring the Britannia of the fourth century and its citizens to life.

I fully admit I am not an historian and perhaps some who are might quibble. But as a general reader, I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction and Roman history. Where I felt the first book in the series would appeal mainly to men, this book has a broader appeal. I’m hoping to see a third book soon.

 

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Letter A The April A to Z blogging Challenge #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the first day of this year’s April A-Z blogging challenge.

I’m blogging my way through characters from books I’ve read, then I have some audience participation going on.

 Letter A is for Anne Haddon the heroine of June Kearn’s book An Englishwoman’s Guide To The Cowboy.

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It’s 1867 and 9 people are squashed inside a stagecoach as it beats it’s way across the hot dust of Texas. Inside are English trio Annie Haddon, her cousin Charlotte and Aunt Bea. In true British aristocracy style the ladies are broiling in their layers of clothing, gloves and hats, but it is against strict etiquette to be seen in anything less.

The white man is sweeping across the states of America, bringing it’s railway and forcing the native Indians out. Tensions are high and stages coaches easy targets. When the stagecoach crashes in a typical hold up, Annie if left for dead. That is until Colt McCall rescues her.

With an Irish father and a Sioux mother, Colt has had a tough life. He learned to fight hard to get where he is today, he respects the Comanche Indians and hates the way that money and greed of the white man is killing off a way of life. Yet he’s not safe from either side, he’s a wanted man by the army, and he hasn’t much time for a prim and proper English lady.

In the time it takes to get Annie back reunited with her relations at Fort Mackenzie, she learns to like much of the wildness. Stupid and feisty, causing endless trouble for McCall, she’ll stick up for what she thinks is right, making mistakes but earning respect along the way.

I really enjoyed this book, a fan of the old cowboy movies, this book took me back to the old stories about the wild west, with an old fashioned romance. I felt I was watching a movie again and half expected Calamity Jane to walk on set at any time.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

For my audience participation I’m focusing on Book Titles, using the picture below I want readers to come up with book titles using the letter A

A book title and cover picture can often make or break a book sale. Is a book cover eye-catching? Does the book title appeal to the reader?

Have fun creating book titles from my own pictures, you might even think about a genre they could fit.

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Leave your answers in the comments below and I’ll be picking my favourites.

Each day I’ve chosen fellow challenge bloggers for you to visit.

http://www.fictionzeal.com/

https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

http://www.djsbookcorner.com/

https://metwriter.wordpress.com/

http://sylmion.blogspot.co.uk/

Throughout the challenge we encourage readers to leave comments on blogs, thank you.

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Britannia Part II: The Watchmen by Richard Denham & M.J. Trow

The Watchmen (Britannia, #2)The Watchmen by Richard Denham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Britannia Part II: The Watchmen is the second book in this historical fiction series set around Roman Britain in the late 4th Century. Magnus Maximus is the Military officer commanding Britain – the Dux Britannorum. Power seeking he is gaining support from the legions and calling himself Caesar of Britannia. He’s causing political uproar too by marching on London and demanding the support of the Vicarius, the Governor of the province.

The four heroes of The Wall (Hadrian’s Wall) from the last book have moved on, one has died, Justinus is now Commander of The Wall, keeping the rebels such as the Picti from advancing. Vitalis turned away from his army roots and is a basket seller in London and Leocadius has slept his way into the political role of Consul in London.

This book follows these main characters in the next chapter of their lives. Maximus wants to gain the support of all of Britannia and then head off to over throw the Emperor Gratian. Vitalis’s sister comes from Gaul to ask him help her find her husband who has disappeared. Leocadius finds that politics is not his thing and Justinas faces rebels with a strong Saxon backing.

There’s plenty of action as well as insight into the likely political twists which would have gone on all over the Roman empire in real life. Power hungry men, fighting men and those just trying to survive as best they can. I enjoyed reading how a Roman army wielded itself in battle as well as learning about the local tribes of Britain and their traditions and beliefs. There is a useful glossary of place names and Roman terms, plus a map of Britannia showing many of the main areas from the book. As I read the paperback version this was really useful to be able to flip to these pages.

This review is based on a free paperback copy of the book given to me by the author.

Find a copy of this book here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Vanessa reviews Two Rivers by Zoe Saadia

Today we have a review from team member Vanessa, she blogs at http://www.vanessawesterwriter.blogspot.com

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Vanessa chose to read and review Two Rivers by Zoe Saadia

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“When I saw a book by Zoe Saadia up on the review list I have to admit that I immediately took it up! Having read “The Highlander” I knew that I enjoyed the setting of these books, and having seen other reviews I had to find out more.

So, the good news is that I loved it. I started it 10 days ago, but then was so busy that last night I finally relaxed and enjoyed! I was so engrossed I ate it up in less than 4 hours!

So on with the review…

This book is focused on a few central characters during the 12th Century in the Americas: Two Rivers; Wolf Cub (Tekeni); and Seketa.

Two Rivers is a man with ideas. He wants a new way of life among neighbouring tribes and does not see the point of revenge raids in the name of honour. His ideas are strange, different and troubling to his people, who think that he should listen to his elders and follow their instructions. To make matters worse he gets involved in a fight by defending Wolf Cub, an adopted son of a neighbouring tribe who is still treated very much as an outsider.

The book then follows the outcome of the argument… will Wolf Cub be forgiven for the way he nearly killed another man? Will he be accepted or will he always be an outsider?

For honourable reasons, Two Rivers befriends Wolf Cub and tries to help him (he even manages to get him to kill a bear!) This friendship is sure to set the scene for the rest of this series…

Alongside, this fascinating story-line an attraction develops between Wolf Cub and a strong minded and beautiful woman, Seketa. I loved the way they naturally steered towards each other and the way she was portrayed. Strong, wilful, willing to her duty, yet fair and loving.

The books ends on a cliff-hanger and I have to admit that I am intrigued to know what will happen next. I highly recommend!

Rating: 4 Stars

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Two Rivers by Zoe Saadia

Two Rivers (The Peacemaker, #1)Two Rivers by Zoe Saadia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Two Rivers is the first book in a four book series. It’s a Native American historical fiction based around the Great League of the Iroquois people of upstate New York, lake Ontario and bordering Canadian areas. The year is 1141, the people live in towns with clans and are held together by councils and precious laws handed down to the people.

We meet Tekeni a 17 year old boy who has been adopted into The Wolf Clan after his capture during a raid on his own people, the People of the Falls. Although officially adopted to replace warriors lost in battle he is treated as an out-sider, a low-life and often finds himself in trouble.

Two Rivers is a 30 year old warrior, but one not afraid to speak his mind, he questions the constant war between other clans, he finds it destructive and not a long-term answer to the future of the tribes, yet his arguments are not welcome amongst the people. When Tekeni is attacked during a ball game by a thug, Two Rivers steps in to his rescue, further alienating both against the people.

Seketa is the only person to see more in Tekeni than everyone else and her faith in him gives him hope as well as his help from Two Rivers. Both men have a prophecy to fulfil and when things come to a vicious head their best hope is to leave and set out on a dangerous unknown path which we can follow in book 2.

This is a good start to a series, you get a feel for the way the characters think and how they keep to traditions whilst is also hints at reasons for their current situation, looking forward to reading more of the adventure.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Georgia reviews All Hallows At Eyre Hall by Luccia Gray

Today we have a review from team member Georgia, she blogs at http://www.georgiarosebooks.com

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Georgia chose to read and review All Hallows at Eyre Hall by Luccia Gray

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All Hallows at Eyre Hall – Luccia Gray

4*

I read Jane Eyre many years ago at school and whilst the story has remained with me it is not a book I have ever felt the need to reread so I wasn’t sure how I would get on with this sequel from Luccia Gray. I need not have worried. Gray has done an excellent job of reimagining the Gothic classic where we find Jane as Mrs Rochester, lady of the house, 23 years older and with Mr Rochester on his deathbed.

Jane is a strong woman, much stronger than I remembered her and she needs to be, her main purpose is to protect her son John, for whom she has great plans in career and marriage, and she has much to protect him from. Her husband has not been a good one and his past misdeeds, that have been hidden for so long, are now coming back to haunt Jane and threaten the future she has planned for John. Some of the things Mr Rochester has done are truly evil and at one part in the book we see the story from his point of view when his selfishness knows no bounds in that he does something terrible just so he can have his Jane solely to himself again.

This is a solidly well told and well written story by Gray with the narrative and dialogue very much in line with the original and although I felt it a little slow at the beginning as we are filled in on the back story it soon picks up the pace and I was left not wanting to put it down. I loved the delicate romance that developed through it, however inappropriate it was at that time and again Jane is the one scheming to come up with a plan that will allow the lovers to be together.

This story is told from several different points of view which, though interesting, at times became a little confusing as you had to work out from whose perspective you were now viewing the story.

I don’t want to say too much more that will give anything away but Jane is heavily involved in the lives and futures of many others and the following parts of this trilogy will be interesting as there are many threads left hanging although this book ends in a satisfying way and not on a cliff hanger. I’m not convinced John has the same aspirations in life as his mother has for him for starters. Then there’s Jane’s planned marriage of convenience…so much has been left for us to enjoy in the future.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Mrs McKeiver’s Secrets by Margaret Morgan

Mrs McKeiver's Secrets. by Margaret MorganMrs McKeiver’s Secrets. by Margaret Morgan by Margaret Morgan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mrs McKeiver’s Secrets is a historical novel set in the fictional village of The Hills in England around 1799. It deals with the poverty of the people suffering from Land Enclosure Acts where common ground that they used to feed their animals on, perhaps grow small crops and collect firewood was no longer available to them. Poaching, another source of food for the poor was being heavily punished and the living conditions of most were severe.

Mary McKeiver is the local midwife, healer, part-time Sunday school teacher and secret keeper of many a village woman in trouble. Living with her own crippled son, Mrs McKeiver treats everyone with her herbs, tonics, teas and poultices.

The Reverand Reeves also tries to help the poor, he gives food to the needy, going against his Bishop and many of the Vestry Committee. Yet his congregation is dwindling with the arrival of Quakers at the mill and Methodists in the locality.

The situation is desperate for many, Mrs McKeiver even worries for her own future and turns to the offer of marriage from land owner Andrew Logan as she encourages his generosity towards helping those in need.

I found this book a difficult read, the period of history is not taught much in schools, so is less well known to readers, I had to look up the enclosures acts to find out more about them. The storyline is very slow paced, not a lot actually happens. I felt the pace was clogged with too many references to everyone’s toilet needs. I was desperate to read some highlights of action, perhaps with the canal opening, or the village getting a school opened, or a big scene at the poor house, or even the wedding of Mrs McKeiver. The character narrative is quite unique, particularly Andrew Logan and at times left me baffled.

I’d like to see a new cover for this book which catches the readers eye, the brown sepia style will leave it sitting on many shelves untouched. Then I think the book would benefit from a fresh look to rework areas which don’t add anything to the pace and the storyline. What Mrs McKeiver’s secrets actually are needs to be really emphasised and play a much bigger part to the whole story.

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by Publishing Push

Find a copy of this here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews

In My Lady’s Shadow by Siobhan Daiko

In My Lady's ShadowIn My Lady’s Shadow by Siobhan Daiko

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In My Lady’s Shadow is set in Italy near the town of Asolo. It is a time-slip novel, present day 1989 and past date of 1504. Fern is holidaying with her aunt when she begins to have dreams of another time. They become more frequent and begin to take the format of visions.

Cecilia was a lady’s maid to Queen Caterina Cornaro. She enjoyed art and fell in love with a young artist called Zorzo, but she was destined to marry another. It seems that Cecilia is a restless spirit who has an unknown purpose by making contact with Fern.

Fern becomes friends with Luca, a local architect and his mother Contessa Goredon. While the Contessa researches her family, Luca takes delight in showing Fern the local sights and tries to help her solve the mystery behind her visions.

The time-slips back to 1504 work really well, I enjoyed meeting Cecilia in her own time and getting a little more of her story with each time-slip. However I didn’t connect with the present day characters. I particularly wanted Luca to be more Italian in his manner, more suave and a deeper romantic. With their English connections through marriage, education or birth, all the present day main characters were out-siders to the area and didn’t quite fit for me.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads.