24 Nov 2017

First Line Fridays #15: The Edict by P.J. Keyworth

That time of the week again! Of course,  we don't celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK, but I can still wish all readers in the USA my best wishes for the day. We're eating duck in blackberry sauce, follow by lemon tart for tonight, its not a special occasion, just a girl's night in, with a movie rental from Amazon video for after.
Sadly, I have also had to take my computer in for repair, because it had a little accident. With all my links and bookmarks on it, being without it is a pain. The 'quotation' button on the computer I am using now does not seem to work, so please bear with me on the odd formatting of this post.

Today I'm featuring the first line of a new book from British author Philippa Jane Keyworth. She is author of three Regency novels The Widow's Redeemer (2012), The Unexpected Earl (2014) and Fool Me Twice (2016), and has another book coming out in exactly a week. Its fantasy, and because its different from her other titles, the author has used her initials instead of her full name.

I have the pleasure of being one of the Advanced Readers for 'The Edict' and I plan to start on it soon.

Amidst robberies, prison breaks, palace intrigues, and an oncoming war, the struggle for peace rests on the shoulders of unlikely allies...

The Reluwyn Empire of Emrilion spans from the Northern Moors to the Tao Desert. The Laowyn, a people chosen by the Spirit, are subject to the Regent’s harsh rule on behalf of the Prince and a raft of oppressive Edicts is about to tip the scales toward rebellion. The Laowyn Resistance defend against persecution but the Regent Garesh’s stranglehold on power is unrelenting. In a bid to solidify his position he arranges for the Edict of Maidens to gather all eligible brides for the Prince’s choosing that the royal might ascend the throne as King with Garesh at his side as rightful power-wielder.

Kiara, a Laowyn woman whose race remains a secret, is chosen for the Prince but before she can be taken she escapes under the guise of a boy. Falling from one captor to another she eventually comes face-to-face with the man she loathes and suddenly two very different worlds collide.

The Edict is an epic fantasy and love story forming the basis of a trilogy that will see the fantasy world brought to the brink of destruction with only a chosen few capable of protecting it.

The first lines read:
"Before the guttering fire was allowed to flicker into oblivion, a small servant scurried over to bank it with fresh logs. Smoke billowed out from the irritated fire but did little to cover the stench of fever, and now in these late stages, of putrefaction."


17 Nov 2017

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

November 7th, 2017, 320 Pages, Thomas Nelson
Print, ebook, and audio
Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues – particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.

But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath. While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by the other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them.

Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.

My Review:


I don't tend to read contemporary fiction, unless its timeshift or crossover. I just don't really get on with it, and I think, in part that was the case with this book. I just don't much care for contemporary American settings.

Even the connections with Jane Austen's work did not always grab me, and the central plotline was well done but there was something about Isabel's character. She just never rang true with me: seemed more like a stereotype or a stock character, and never really fully developed. She seemed to spend the entire book just being really unpleasant and bossy, or apologetic.
Even the whole memory loss thing didn't always seem plausible: did Isabel really lose her memory or was she faking, and I mean how could she really think she was living in the nineteenth century when surrounded by modern technology. I don't know if this was the impression that the author was intending to give, but its the one I got.

The details about Jane Austen's Bath were interesting and authentic, but I think you have to have visited some of the sites, and be very familiar with her books to really understand some parts of this book. It's no bad thing, it's just that I'm not that familiar with them. Finally, there were a few mistakes, with the British characters using Americanisms like 'vacation' and 'fall', which usually jar me out of the story.

This was not a bad book by any means, or uninteresting, it just wasn't totally my cup of tea. I know many people love books by this author, and they should like this one as well.

I requested this title from Thomas Nelson via Booklook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

10 Nov 2017

First Line Fridays #14: A Hobbit, A Wardrobe and A Great War

So I was planning to do another book, but then I saw the note about Veterans Day (or Remembrance day, as its called in the UK), which is of course tomorrow. Finding a book is a struggle, as I don't read a lot of stuff set during the World Wars. A couple of novels this year, and I have been approved for one releasing in January. 

I just don't fancy doing one of them: something set during another war in the far distant past? In the end, I've chosen to use a non-fiction title I listened to on Audiobook a few months back about the experiences of the famous authors J.R.R Tolkien and C.S.Lewis in the First World War, and its impact on their lives and writings.

Although I disagree with the subtitle of the book and some of the claims made in it .C.S.Lewis if anything, I supposed to have lost his faith during the War, far from having it strengthened, and the two men did not even meet until 1928. 
 Yet, Joseph Loconte does a good job making the subject matter interesting: and bringing to light some interesting passages in the Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings which reflect the experiences of the authors in that terrible conflict.  Its even believed that Tolkien penned some of his early work set in Middle Earth during the conflict. 

My passage today does not come from the actual first line, but from part of the introduction to the book.
"Both authors have been accused of escapism. Their choice of literary genre, the romantic myth, was by some estimations "essentially an attempt to liberate themselves from the ugliness and moral impasse of the modern world". Yet neither Tolkien nor Lewis took their cues from works extolling escapist fantasies or the glorification of war".

Readers, I hope will also forgive me for including a meme with another quote, appropriate to the commemorations, spoken by the character of Faramir, Captain of Gondor in the Lord of the Rings; The Two Towers. 

Join me again next week, and click the meme below to see what books other members are including this week.


5 Nov 2017

Two Short Review from Goodreads: Turn of the Century NY and Regency Smuggling

A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden
Empire State #1
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't usually read much fiction set in America, so I have not read anything written by Elizabeth Camden before. I chose this story mostly because it had a British hero.

Her writing style is lovely, the historical details were well-used, and the characters ones that the reader could care about (even if their actions seem a little inconsistent at times), and there was plenty of suspense.
So why did I not give a higher rating: I can't quite put my finger on it exactly, something just didn't click. Perhaps it was just that  I don't really identify with the setting, as I've never been to New York.
Also, I did not really care for the ending: or rather, I did not like the way that it was brought about.

I requested a copy of this title from NetGalley and listened to the Audible version of my own volition. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own. 


True As Fate by Laurie Alice Eakes
Ashford Chronicles #2 
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fair story, if a little over the top. It was exciting, and the characters not quite as annoying as in the last book. 
Still a lot of mistakes: British characters using American terms like 'gotten, someplace and 'whomever', and the general assumption that the Brits and wrong and Americans right over the War of 1812. Oh, and of course, American privateering is fine: but for Brits its bad and done because they want to take over everything. Naturally.

Worth a read, despite the stereotypes though. I don't think that the parallels between Ross Trennery a certain rakish Cornish nobleman named Ross are accidental. Not a typical Regency and an interesting sequel. Book borrowed through Amazon Kindle Unlimited, so I was not required to write a review.

1 Nov 2017

The Hour Before Dawn by Penelope Wilcock

Hawk and the Dove #5 
2nd edition September 27th 2015, Lion Fiction 
208 Pages, Print and Ebook
Once again, author Penelope Wilcock reaches back through the centuries to the ancient monastery of St. Alcuin. Abbot John is undergoing deep, emotional shock after learning of the rape of his sister and murder of his mother; Father William is discovering his own vulnerability; and there, immersed in the daily routine of simple tasks, the brothers undertake the greatest task of nurturing the grace of God in their souls.

Book 5 in the recently continued The Hawk and the Dove series, The Hour before Dawn explores the psychological impact of grief and trauma as well as how one can be healed. Wilcock deftly weaves themes of the resurrection and ascension throughout the story, exploring the process of having survived suffering, but not yet having moved on. Characters eagerly await the coming dawn of restoration. Based on solid historical research, Wilcock’s representation of monastic life is authentic, rich with poetic prose and a sense of time and place.

The Hour before Dawn affirms our need for one another’s understanding and love as well as our need for a personal relationship with Jesus. Wilcock’s newest story helps readers understand the grieving process, make connections between the Bible and everyday life experiences, and nurture an attitude of understanding and kindness.

 My Review:

This is another one of those books that I am in two minds about. I knew from before I read it that is was very controversial because of the subject matter and some of the content. Basically, it begins with an account of an attack by a group of drunken village men on the mother and sister of Brother John, Abbot of the fictional St Alcuin’s monastery in Yorkshire. The attack culminates in the women’s house being burned down, Madelaine’s John’s mother is accidentally killed and his sister very deliberately raped. 

I do understand where the author was coming from with including these scenes, I really do. It resulted from a desire to explore the impact of emotional trauma as well as the struggle of Christians to reconcile their faith with the bad things that happen in the world, and to other Christians. I am not one of those people who think we should shy away from exploring difficult or painful subjects in Christian Fiction. In fact, I find such content less objectionable when it has a serious purpose then when it simply used to create drama. 

However, I do object to the context in which the scenes in question was presented. It was made out that the villagers attacked Madelaine and her daughter because they were suspected of being ‘witches’ for being able to read, and knowing about herbalism. Later in the story, when a distraught John was considering pursuing legal action, it was claimed that this would only cause more trouble because a Sheriff would probably also suspect such a woman of being a witch. 
Sorry, but I consider such claims to be patent nonsense, which only serves to perpetuate myths about history. There is plenty of evidence that Medieval women could read, and plenty of evidence that they owned books, including religious books and missals. Some women even wrote or translated religious books and were never suspected of ‘witchcraft’ for doing so. It was entirely acceptable for women to be literate, and herbalism was a commonly known and widely accepted practice for both sexes. 

I almost think that in some places, a false or misguided basis was being created from which to condemn supposedly sexist and misogynist attitudes which may not have even existed in the first place, or at least not have been so pervasive as was claimed. Finally, I was a little concerned about one scene in the monastery in which a monk referred to the spiritual resurrection of Christ. Church doctrine for much of the last 2000 years has held to a physical resurrection: only Gnostics believed it was spiritual.
Once I got past certain passages, I did find this book more enjoyable and I will certainly try to finish the series, but this installment is not for the fainthearted or easily offended. Sadly, also, on a historical level, the points detailed above prevent me from giving it a higher rating. 

I was sent a paperback copy of this title from the publisher Lion Fiction upon my request. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.
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