Book Review- Stalking Jack the Ripper

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Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Published by Jimmy Patterson on September 20 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical, Mystery, Horror
Pages: 326
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Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

HOLY ALKKJDNVQERGNALJAL MY LIFE IS OVER. THIS BOOK HAS KILLED ME.
Phew, okay I think I got that out of my system…. (but seriously a girl named Emma was killed so like…. I was killed?)

As you can probably tell, I loved this book. Just everything about it was so beautiful and dark and mysterious and sexy and beautiful (yes, it needs to be said twice).

Audrey Rose is amazing. Just everything about her. She is such a strong and independent person, yet she is still very feminine. She is witty and strong minded and sassy and just all together a really fun person to read about.

Now Thomas *sigh*. He is adorable. I literally want to just burst with adoration for him and his relationship with Audrey Rose. By himself, Thomas is amazing, but the whole courtship between the two of them just added this romantic side to the story that was just TOO CUTE. I AM LITERALLY DYING OVER IT.

All of the characters are just so dimensional and interesting and amazing. Even the characters that don’t play a major role are well developed. They each had a unique voice and story that were somehow conveyed even if they were only present for a scene or two. I loved how the victims of Jack were given a story and a voice as well. And I loved how Audrey Rose reacted to the murders. It was just perfect.

The historical aspect to the book was also breathtaking. I felt as if I was thrown back in time to London circa 1888. Everything was so exquisitely described and portrayed. And I loved how historically accurate everything was regarding Jack the Ripper (all of the liberties taken by Maniscalco were disclaimed at the end) and how seamlessly Audrey Rose and all the other characters were put into the story to solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper.

There was a lot of rather graphic descriptions of the murdered girls, but honestly I can’t imagine the book without them. They added this darker element to the story that balanced out the light flirtations between Audrey Rose and Thomas. They also added an urgency and realness to the story that it would have been incomplete without.

So, I kind of guessed who Jack was in the beginning, but that really didn’t take anything away from the story. Everything about this book was just amazing. I don’t know how many times I’m going to say that, but seriously that is the only thing going through my mind right now. It really was just so amazing.

I waited wayyyy too long to read this book, and unless you really don’t like graphic descriptions of mutilated bodies (okay, that sounds really bad but I promise its not that bad) you need to go get this now and understand the beautifulness of this wonderful book. Seriously, just get it. Read it. Love it.

Stalking Jack the Ripper is easily one of my favorite books. So, it should be no surprise that I am giving it five out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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Book Reivew- Miss E.

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Miss E. by Brian Herberger
Published by Birch Cove Books on May 9, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Children’s Books
Pages: 256
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Being the new kid in town is a way of life for Bets, but moving to California in 1967 is different. Her father leaves for the war in Vietnam, her history teacher gives an assignment that has the whole school searching for clues, and the town’s most mysterious resident shares a secret with Bets that has been hidden away for decades. When a peaceful protest spins out of control, Bets is forced to reconsider how she feels about the war her father is fighting and her own role in events taking place much closer to home.

Miss E. was a great book. I was sucked into the story from the very first sentence, and I finished the whole book in one afternoon.

The book was very easy and fun to read, and I feel in love with the characters. Bets is strong willed and an independent thinker. As the story progressed, she not only learned about Miss E., she learned about herself. The whole story left me all warm and fuzzy.

I loved how each character was so unique. Even the characters with smaller parts had their own story and individuality without much being said about them. It was so easy to imagine myself back in 1967, meeting each of the characters and going to Sonny’s to eat pizza and hang out with them.

I also love Miss E. I love her so much! All I want to do is go in her house and drink tomato juice and listen to her stories… and of course go on adventures with her! Although the story is about Bets, Miss E. is a huge driving force behind her actions, and teachers her some important life lessons without saying more than a few words.

This is a book I would recommend to anyone and everyone. It is a fun and easy read, and it is such a feel good story!

I am going to give Miss E. five out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

*This book was given to me for free by the author in exchange for an honest review. This has not in any way influenced my views of opinions of the book.

Book Reivew- Fear The Drowning Deep

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Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Expected Publication by Sky Pony Press on October 4, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 304
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Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.

Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

Fear the Drowning Deep was amazing! The whole book was filled with magic and excitement and anticipation. There was a surprise in every chapter and it kept me on my toes till the very end.

I loved so many things about Fear the Drowning Deep. Firstly, the names. Oh my gosh, the names. I love them so much. And I can’t forget the nicknames like Bridey-bird… they add such a special touch to the writing! But seriously, look at these beauties:

  • Grayse
  • Catreena
  • Nessa
  • Peddyr
  • Fynn

Don’t you just love them!! Those are some of my favorites.

Secondly, I loved the setting and the use of Manx (a Gaelic language). It all feels so authentic, and brings the story to life. The Isle of Man sounds absolutely stunning, and makes me want to visit so badly (besides, you know, what’s in the water). Also, like I said, Manx is such a beautiful language, and a few sayings are worked expertly into the story, such as how to say “Hello” or “Good morning”.

Moghrey mie – Hello/Good morning in Manx Gaelic

Thirdly, I loved how the plot unfolded. It didn’t feel forced at all, instead it felt like the events were unfolding… like dominoes toppling over. And when the ending came (which did a wonderful job of tying up all the loose ends), I just wanted more. I still want more!

Fear the Drowning Deep was an easy and fun read, and I definitely recommend reading it! I am giving the book five out of five stars! I can’t wait to read more from Sarah Glenn Marsh!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

*This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. This has not in any way affected my views or opinions of the book.

Author Q&A- Tony Riches

Today I had the pleasure of talking to best-selling historical fiction author Tony Riches. Tony is a full time author and lives in Pembrokeshire, one of the most unspoilt areas of the UK. Read the interview below!

 Tony  Riches Pembroke

Q: How long have you been writing?

A: Like many authors, I wrote for magazines and journals before self-publishing my first book on Amazon four years ago. It was a short ebook about how everyone can use the principles of Agile Project Management and was a surprising success. I went on to write non-fiction books on subjects as diverse as the story of Scott’s Antarctic ship, the Terra Nova, to Atlantis, about the last flight of the NASA Space shuttle. Now my focus is very much on historical fiction and I have become something of an expert on the rise of the Tudor dynasty.

Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?

A: My muse is my wife, Liz, who always encourages me to write and helps me develop my ideas and characters. It was Liz’s idea for me to write The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham – about her ancestor who was condemned as a witch and imprisoned for life.

Q: What was the main idea behind your series The Tutor Trilogy?

A: Everyone knows about King Henry VIII and his daughter, Queen Elizabeth Ist – but I was surprised to discover there were no books about the amazing story of Owen Tudor, the Welsh servant who married a queen and founded the Tudor dynasty. I discovered several accounts of the life of Henry Tudor (who later became King Henry VII and began the Tudor Dynasty) but there were no novels that brought his own story to life. The idea for the Tudor Trilogy occurred to me when I realized Henry Tudor could be born in book one, ‘come of age’ with the help of Owen’s son, Jasper Tudor, in book two, and rule England in book three, so there would be plenty of scope to explore his life and times.

Owen and Jasper

Q: Have you always been interested in history? What sparked your passion?

A: Yes – and I enjoy visiting historic sites, so the research for my books is always fun. In June I’m off to explore chateaus in Brittany where Jasper and Henry Tudor lived in exile. I think my passion was ‘sparked’ by the Hollywood historical epics, which raised more questions than they answered – and led to me reading the original sources.

Q: Is there a particular time in history that you find most interesting? If so, when and why?

A: I was born within sight of Pembroke Castle, so I feel a special connection with Henry Tudor, who was born there. My historical fiction books have so far been set in the fifteenth century, during what have become known as ‘The Wars of The Roses’ – and I have a wealth of books I’ve collected over the years on life in the period. As a writer I’m glad there are plenty of detailed records of the time – but it’s still little known by most readers, which means they can learn a lot from my books.

Q: If you could travel back in time, when would you go and where would you visit?

A: I’d like to return to Pembroke Castle at Christmas 1460 and find a way to warn Owen Tudor and his son Jasper NOT to take on the army of Edward of York!

Q: Which of your books has been the most fun to write?

A: I’ve particularly enjoyed writing my last book, JASPER, as the hero Jasper Tudor has some great qualities. He never forgot his promise to his brother’s widow, Lady Margaret Beaufort, to always look after her son, Henry Tudor. In the new book he narrowly escapes York’s army and flees with his nephew Henry to exile in Brittany. In an unlikely and daring move, they then return to England with an army to seize the throne for Henry.

Q: How much ‘grunt work’ goes into each of your books?

A: One of the great things about writing historical fiction is that I have the ‘framework’ of my historical research – so all I have to do is ‘fill in the gaps’. I’ve developed a good system of writing 25 chapters, each around 4000 words long, to arrive at a first draft of 100,000 to reduce in the editing by around 5000 words. The whole process takes about a year, as I allow about six months for the first draft, then about three for editing and revisions. I try to have a long summer break, as my main interests are sailing and sea kayaking, so I like to have the best of the weather. When I first started writing novels I kept making improvements to the final draft but experience makes it easier to know when it’s time to publish.

Q: Are you currently working on any writing projects? If so, what can you tell me about them?

A: I’m now researching book three of my Tudor trilogy, which explores the life of King Henry VII. Henry Tudor was born in book one, and book two takes him up to the Battle of Bosworth, so the final book will follow his life from there to his death at Richmond Palace on the 21st of April 1509. It will be published in the spring or early summer next year

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: I’m sure there are many people who know they could write a novel – if only they had the time. I’d like them to realize that simply writing one page a day is a book a year, so even if you still have to juggle other responsibilities, write something, every day, until it becomes a habit, which it will.

Book Trailers- The Tudor Trilogy

Find Tony Online:

The Writing Desk

WordPress website

Facebook

Twitter @tonyriches.

 

 

Book Review- Emerald Green

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Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
(Translated from German by Anthea Bell)
Published by Henry Holt on October 8, 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
Pages: 451
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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.

I read the Ruby Red trilogy in record time. Seriously. It took me 2 days.

Emerald Green was just as good as Ruby Red and Sapphire Blue. The stakes are high, and Gwyneth is running out of time; both in the present and the past.

One of the really fun things about the book is you see events from the first and second books from a different perspective. For example, you get the full story of what happened when Gwen travelled back for the third time and saw herself.

The book definitely had a lot of unexpected twists, and left me with a warm happy feeling when I finished. Some characters really do surprise you.

My only complaint about the book is it’s the last one. Now I’m stuck with that sad feeling you get when you finish a series.

I’m going to give Emerald Green five out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

It was an amazing book, and a fun, fast read!

Book Review- Sapphire Blue

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Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
(Translated from German by Anthea Bell)
Published by Henry Holt on October 30, 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
Pages: 357
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Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.
At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

After finishing Ruby Red, I immediately began reading Sapphire Blue. I couldn’t wait!

It picks up right where Ruby Red ends; with *spoiler alert* Gideon and Gwyneth kissing. Somehow, between all the time traveling, Kerstin Gier manages to throw in a great deal of relationship drama (not that I’m complaining).

Usually I’m not a big fan of relationship drama, but in this case it really helped to drive the story along. Also, I can’t help but love Gideon. For all his faults, he is pretty swoon worthy (there I go again falling for fictional characters… oops!).

In the beginning of the book, when Xemerius the gargoyle is introduced, I wasn’t sure of his role. He just seemed like an overeager commentator. But as the book went on, he turned out to have quite a bit of importance. He was also pretty entertaining and made me laugh quite a few times.

The end of the book almost broke my heart. It really would have if not for the epilogue. When I turned the last page (or whatever the equivalent on a kindle is), I was so excited to see what happens next that I went ahead and got Emerald Green, the last book in the trilogy.

I’m going to give Sapphire Blue four out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I’m very happy to report that unlike many sequels, this one did not disappoint!

 

Author Q&A- Roger Billings

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Roger Billings; and up and coming historical author. Read all about him in the interview below!

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Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?

A: I have been working on my current novel for over five years, and I hope to finish in 2016. Yea!

I am a lawyer in my real life and it is often a struggle to find time to write.

I have been an avid reader all of my life. I thought of writing as something I should do, but never did, until a few years ago I was reading the biography of Bernard Cornwell. He moved with his wife to the United States and he did not have a work visa. Since he was not allowed to work at a traditional job, he started writing instead. From that came his first historical novel, Sharpe’s Eagle. I thought if he could do it when he had to, maybe I can do it because I want to.

Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?

A: I am often inspired by a sense of place. I love to find out-of-the way places that people might not have heard of before but that have a rich history. Then it seems natural to write about what might have happened there back then. One example is the floating islands (hortillonnages in French) in Amiens, France. They are a series of tiny islands that have been cultivated out of marsh land in the Somme River. It is a labyrinth of gardens and water, the history of which extends back to Roman times. I love to write about the kinds of mysteries that might have happened in places like that.

A: On the other hand, I have noticed that I am not “full of ideas” to write about, as some say they are. I feel like my ideas are buried in the subconscious and most of the time I am not aware that they are there, until I start writing. When I write, those buried ideas come to the surface. So I suppose I write to find out what is in my subconscious.

Q: You are a historical novelist. How much research goes into your projects?

A: There is more research than I expected, but I probably do more than I need to. No, I definitely do more than I need to. My idea for my current novel came from general reading in the time period of the French Revolution until several historical facts started to cluster together and I realized I had a book to write. Then the real work began of reading histories, biographies, and letters, and studying maps, lists and court cases, and anything else I could get my hands on. It has been countless hours. How much? I have not keep track, but I enjoy the research, so it has not felt like work.

Q: Why historical novels? Have you always been fascinated by history?

A: I do love history and historical research. In particular, I love literary history. The first thing I think about with respect to a particular time period is who the writers were then. My novel takes place in France and England in 1792, so I think a lot about the writers from that time and immediately prior to that time, such as Rousseau, Dr. Johnson, Fanny Burney, Cowper (I love Cowper!), and of course William Blake, Wordsworth and Coleridge, to name only a few. Both Wordsworth and Burney were in France during the Revolution, and Rousseau made an infamous visit to England some years before, all of which is great food for the imagination.

Q: What is the favorite place you have visited? Why?

A: If you take the time to get to know a place, anywhere is magical.

One example is the ancient walled city of York, in Northern England, that I visited many years ago. Any time there is still a massive wall around a city, going there is like a trip back in time.

CJ Sansom wrote a novel, Sovereign, set in York at the time that Henry VIII and his huge entourage visited the city. When royalty travelled, it was called the Progress, and nobles who hosted royalty on a Progress were sometimes (often?) bankrupted by the expense. I would have liked to have written that book. It is great fun.

In addition, some of my ancestors are from Yorkshire and my great grandfather sang in a choir for boys at the Minster Cathedral in York. I have a drawing of the Cathedral hanging on my wall. So York is special, for sure.

Q: When you travel does your family go with you?

A: Generally I travel with my family, and I enjoy traveling much more when I am with my family. Otherwise, traveling seems much more like just work.

Q: Tell me about your kids. Do they (or do you hope they will) love history as much as you?

A: It is easy for parents to expect their children to be projections of themselves, instead of individuals. My wife and I both love literature and culture. My children have their own unique interests and pursuits. I don’t think any of them are as fanatical about literature as I am, but they know what they are interested in and we encourage them to follow their interests.

Q: You are working on your first novel! What can you tell me about it so far?

A: I am in the middle of my second draft. But the second draft feels like a first draft, because as I wrote the first draft, I learned a huge amount about writing fiction. Now I can see much more clearly what I did wrong or what can be improved. The first draft was an apprenticeship, a great learning experience. Now I just need to finish and then celebrate!

The story goes as follows: a British spy dies while rescuing a young seventeen year old aristocrat from the French Revolution. The aristocrat, ungrateful and mortally offended to owe his life to a commoner, determines to discredit the spy’s reputation. Searching for hidden scandals, the aristocrat inadvertently uncovers a plot to overthrow the British Monarchy, pulling himself into a perilous underworld of treason and crime. Journeying from the jostling streets of London to the lonely mountains of Wales, the young aristocrat can only survive by finding the man within himself, and by finishing the work the detested spy had started.

Q: What challenges have you faced in your writing?

A: Finding the time to write is hard. I have been doing some dictating, which helps to use the time better.

Learning not to edit myself while I am writing and letting the words flow has been difficult. When I am being too critical and I want to write faster instead, I sometimes challenge myself to purposefully write as badly as I can. That gets me started, which is great.

I have also been challenged in finding the historical sources and information I need. For example, I had a scene in which my characters visited the office of the Foreign Secretary in London in 1792. I wanted the location to be authentic, but I wasn’t sure where it was back then. I knew it was somewhere in Whitehall and that the office had been recently created but I didn’t want to be vague and I didn’t want to guess. Then I found a Twitter address for an official historian for the Office of the Foreign Secretary, and they responded that the office was in Downing Street at that time, next to the Office of the First Lord of the Treasury (now Prime Minister) at 10 Downing Street. It was much easier writing the scene knowing I had the location right, and the actual location turned out to be a very significant part of the scene.

Q: If you could go back and meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?

A: There are so many I would like to meet. Perhaps the 18th century poet Samuel Johnson. He was known as one of the greatest conversationalists of all time. If you are going to go to all of the trouble of meeting someone from the past, it had better be an interesting conversation! I was also thinking of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. She was also a great conversationalist, but there is a bonus that she was almost always surrounded by many other luminaries: Richard Sheridan, Charles James Fox, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess de Polignac, many others.

Q: What is something you think the world should know about you?

A: I think people should know that I like to look for the good in people. There is much more good out there than can be easily seen, and so looking for it is necessary.

Find Roger Online:

Twitter