Book Review ~ ‘Where Rainbows End’ by AnneMarie Brear.

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Where Rainbows End by AnneMarie Brear
Genres: Historical, Romance.
Release Date: 23rd May 2017.
Publisher: Choc Lit

35212578

 


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SYNOPSIS

Can she hold on to her dreams?

It’s 1850 and the Noble family have travelled to the other side of the world to start a new life after scandal drove them from their native England. Pippa Noble is determined to reclaim their honour by making her father’s plan for an outback farm reality, although her ambition is frowned upon by a society that has very set ideas about a woman’s place.

Pippa learns the hard way about the unforgiving nature of the bush, sometimes with devastating consequences. And when unfortunate circumstance leads to Pippa tending the farm alone, it is the friendship of neighbouring estate owner Gil Ashford-Smith that helps her through.

Then an unexpected visitor from England arrives, putting Pippa’s dreams in jeopardy. But she refuses to let go. She will hold onto her family’s land, even if it means losing everything else.

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Book Review ~ ‘Where Rainbows End’ by AnneMarie Brear ~ 5 Stars!

AnneMarie Brear’s Where Dragonflies Hover was one of my favourite historical reads of last year, and with Where Rainbows End Brear has made the list for 2017 too!

A beautifully written historical novel Where Rainbows End brilliantly depicts early Australian life in the colonies through the eyes of a foreigner, and having never been to Australia myself I lived and learned through the eye of our heroine Pippa as she takes it upon herself to bear the struggles of building a new life in a beautiful, yet harsh and unknown land.

Pippa was the kind of heroine I love. Her fierce devotion to helping her family have the best new beginning, and her willingness to shoulder the burdens herself in order to achieve her dreams made her strong, likeable, and also inspiring. The relationships she forges with those around her, including the respect she earns from the workers on her land, and the others in the area will make you proud of her, as though she is someone you know yourself.

What I loved most about this novel was the perfect timing of the ultra slow-burning romance between Pippa and Gil. The novel takes place over a number of years, and the characters change so much throughout the time after overcoming some of the hardest battles, and through it, Pippa and Gil grow as friends, part and regret as love and jealousy comes to one before the other feels it, and all the while a hope grows in the reader that they will find a way to be happy together.

My only disappointment was that it ended so soon! The last chapter ends so quickly, that you turn the page hoping for more. But this is a firm 5 star read, and a fantastic book for anyone who loves heartfelt historical fiction.

5 Stars!


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AnneMarie Brear

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Book Review ~ ‘New Boy’ by Tracy Chevalier.

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New Boy: Othello Retold by Tracy Chevalier
(Hogarth Shakespeare)
Genres: Adult, Historical, Retellings
Release Date: 11th May 2017.

31706251


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SYNOPSIS

From the New York Times bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring comes the fifth installment in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, a modern retelling of Othello set in a suburban schoolyard

Arriving at his fifth school in as many years, a diplomat’s son, Osei Kokote, knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.

The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970’s suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practice a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Peeking over the shoulders of four 11 year olds Osei, Dee, Ian, and his reluctant girlfriend Mimi, Tracy Chevalier’s powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.

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Book Review ~ ‘New Boy’ by Tracy Chevalier ~ 5 Stars!

In ‘New Boy’ Tracy Chevalier has created an incredible retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello that creeps up on you, and lingers in the mind long after you’ve turned the last page.

The never altering routine of a school playground is thrown into disarray when 11 year old Osei arrives at his new school. Why does this young boy cause such an uproar? Because this is 1970s Washington, and Osei is black. The themes of race and segregation of the time are heartbreakingly portrayed in this retelling where not only is Osei victimised for the colour of his skin, but so is the young Dee, a white girl who chooses to befriend him.

Chevalier’s decision to base this story in a school was so clever, as nowhere else in a modern setting would the trail of lies, rumours and jealousy be so rife as in a school playground where, as is truthfully stated by one of their teacher’s “kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime.”

I adored this retelling of Othello, and many parallels can be found between this and the current Black Lives Matter movement in America. I strongly recommend this book, as the issues raised are made even more black and white by their being portrayed and noticed by children who can only have picked up their casual racism from the careless comments of adults.

5 Stars!


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Book Review ~ ‘The Bear and the Nightingale’ by Katherine Arden.

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The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.
(The Bear and the Nightingale #1)
Genres: Historical, Fantasy, Fairy Tales.
Release Date: 12th January 2017

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SYNOPSIS

A young woman’s family is threatened by forces both real and fantastical in this debut novel inspired by Russian fairy tales.

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift – a precious jewel on a delicate chain,intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, the father hides the gift away and his daughter, Vasya, grows up a wild, willfull girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay.

Atmospheric and enchanting, with an engrossing adventure at its core, The Bear and the Nightingale is perfect for readers of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman.

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Book Review ~ ‘The Bear and the Nightingale’ by Katherine Arden ~ 5 Stars!

Lyrical, Fantastical, and Awe inspiring, The Bear and the Nightingale is up there with Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, and has me still thinking about it.

A beautiful historical tale of family, fairytales, and the dangers of mass-hysteria, Katherine Arden has created a story with tones of Joanne Harris’ Chocolat and Russian fairytales that have been passed down through generations. We follow Vasya’s story, a young girl who grows up without her mother, and is in a world that is hovering between modern religion and practice, and the rituals, beliefs and superstitions of old; Spirits are to be given offerings in exchange for their protection, the signs of nature listened to and heeded, slowly being feared and shunned in favour of a christian way of life.

Vasya has a gift to speak with the spirits and demons that surround her village, but with this gift, as paranoia grows in the village, and her stepmother’s hatred for her grows more and more, Vasya is in danger of forces both real and supernatural as she tries to keep those she loves safe.

A magical tale that will take you to the freezing winters of a small Russian village, and will creep into your heart like the tiniest of icicles, making you shudder and gasp as you follow Vasya’s fantastical story.

5+ Stars!

*Review copy was kindly provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*


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Book Review ~ ‘The Thief’s Daughter’ by Victoria Cornwall.

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The Thief’s Daughter by Victoria Cornwall
Genres: Historical, Romance
Release Date: January 3rd 2017.
Publisher: Choc Lit

32943892


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SYNOPSIS

Hide from the thief-taker, for if he finds you, he will take you away.

Eighteenth-century Cornwall is crippled by debt and poverty, while the gibbet casts a shadow of fear over the land. Yet, when night falls, free traders swarm onto the beaches and smuggling prospers.

Terrified by a thief-taker’s warning as a child, Jenna has resolved to be good. When her brother, Silas, asks for her help to pay his creditors, Jenna feels unable to refuse and finds herself entering the dangerous world of the smuggling trade.

Jack Penhale hunts down the smuggling gangs in revenge for his father’s death. Drawn to Jenna at a hiring fayre, they discover their lives are entangled. But as Jenna struggles to decide where her allegiances lie, the worlds of justice and crime collide, leading to danger and heartache for all concerned.

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Book Review ~ ‘The Thief’s Daughter’ by Victoria Cornwall ~ 5 Stars!

If, like me, you are having Poldark withdrawals, then look no futher. The Thief’s Daughter is a gorgeous tale of love and betrayal that will have you reading up until the wee hours of the morning as you follow Jenna and Jack on their journey to find their place in the world.

Victoria Cornwall’s debut novel is set on the gorgeous coast of Cornwall, and the descriptions will whisk you away to another time and place where you will feel the wind in your hair, and taste the sea air on your lips. I loved Jenna and warmed to her from the get-go. Strong, fierce and loyal, she was the perfect lass to keep our hero Jack on his toes, whilst also being a definite heroine in her own right. Their romance was paced perfectly, and I could feel the tension building, as well as understanding her insecurity following her abusive past marriage. Her strong morals, and dedication to the family that didn’t deserve it, made for some fantastic scenes, especially when her decisions caused her to be at loggerheads with Jack.

And Jack, what can I say? Now that is my kind of hero!

A beautifully written historical romance, that delves into the dangerous world of smuggling and questions how far you can and should go, even for those you love. I cannot wait to read more from Victoria Cornwall!

5 Stars!

*Review copy was kindly provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*


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Book Review ~ ‘Into the Dim’ by Janet B. Taylor.

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Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor
(Into the Dim #1)
Genres: Young Adult, Time-Travel
Release Date: March 1st 2016

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SYNOPSIS

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.

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Book Review ~ ‘Into the Dim’ by Janet B. Taylor ~ 5 Stars!

Intriguing, exciting and beautifully written ‘Into the Dim’ took me on a journey where I could never guess what would happen next.

When I find a good time-travel story I lap it up, because it has to be done so carefully to work. With ‘Into the Dim’ it was the scientific elements mixed with folklore that had me believe in the characters travelling, and I loved how the author brought these elements to life, and twisted them to make a unique portrayal of this fantastical travel.

The author has a beautiful writing style which I think will really appeal to Young Adult readers. It gives enough gorgeous detail of the old manor in Scotland and the surrounding country, and the historical detail of the times gone past, without bogging down the reader. It all helped alighten my senses to these different worlds, without being hard work. She also brilliantly contrasted the modern day Scotland and the past London, so I felt as a reader than I had travelled along with the characters.

There is mystery and intrigue that will have you nervous for Hope and her companions, and a sweet, slow-burning romance that I can’t wait to see progress further in the next books, however above all else, it is a story of the strength of family, whether blood or not. Hope’s determination to save her mother is what will have you reaching for a box of tissues.

The only issue I had with this book, was actually not the fault of the author, but in marketing. Being described as ‘Outlander for Teens’ was actually very misleading, as ‘Into the Dim’ is an entirely different story. The only similarities I could see were the setting of Scotland, and the element of time-travel, but that was the extent of it. I really hope that this marketing decision won’t affect readers enjoyment of the book, and urge readers to not expect ‘Outlander’.

5 Stars!

*Review copy was kindly provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*


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Janet B. Taylor

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Book Review ~ ‘Where Dragonflies Hover’ by AnneMarie Brear.

 

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Where Dragonflies Hover by AnneMarie Brear.
Genres: Historical, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: April 8th 2016.
Publisher: Choc Lit

29540388


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SYNOPSIS

Sometimes a glimpse into the past can help make sense of the future …

Everyone thinks Lexi is crazy when she falls in love with Hollingsworth House – a crumbling old Georgian mansion in Yorkshire – and nobody more so than her husband, Dylan. But there’s something very special about the place, and Lexi can sense it.

Whilst exploring the grounds she stumbles across an old diary and, within its pages, she meets Allie – an Australian nurse working in France during the First World War.

Lexi finally realises her dream of buying Hollingsworth but her obsession with the house leaves her marriage in tatters. In the lonely nights that follow, Allie’s diary becomes Lexi’s companion, comforting her in moments of darkness and pain. And as Lexi reads, the nurse’s scandalous connection to the house is revealed …

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Book Review ~ ‘Where Dragonflies Hover’ by AnneMarie Brear ~ 5+ Stars!

Wow! Wow! Wow! I was intrigued when I picked up ‘Where Dragonflies Hover’, (WWI Nursing, crumbling old manors and romance are the perfect combination to me) but as I delved into the story that AnneMarie Brear created, I was captivated, enchanted and completely in love with the characters, story, setting…just everything! This really is a truly special novel.

The modern day scenes were beautifully wistful of a time gone by, and I loved following Lexi’s journey as she struggled to make her marriage work, but also to embrace the life she wanted to live. Brear did a fantastic job in creating a believable and heartfelt crack in Lexi and Dylan’s marriage, and not once did I hate Dylan, only felt sad that he wouldn’t fight for Lexi more, and vice-versa. All too often, authors make tension by creating unlikable, overly evil charachatures of the men who break their partners hearts, but with Dylan, Brear created a heartbreaking, realistic depiction of a relationship that was falling apart, no matter how much Lexi and he loved each other.

Alternating between Lexi’s struggle in the modern day, we enter the horrors of the First World War Front Line. Allie was a fantastic character, and brilliantly portrayed the no-nonsense, over-worked but feeling and caring nurse of the military hospitals of WWI. Researched to perfection, and as real to me as any contemporary setting, I believed every second of Allie’s hospital work. For anyone who, like me, is still in mourning that the BBC axed ‘The Crimson Field’ after only one series, then this will fantastic story will give you what we all wanted in a second series.

I could blabber away about the perfection of this book for pages, but it wouldn’t be coherent. All I can say is; please, please read this amazing book. It has stayed with me for days, and has inspired me as a reader and writer!

5+ Stars!

*Review copy was kindly provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*


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Book Review ~ ‘The Girl in the Painting’ by Kirsty Ferry.

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The Girl in the Painting by Kirsty Ferry
(The Rossetti Mysteries #2)
Genres: Historical, Time-Slip, Romance.
Release Date: February 29th 2016.

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SYNOPSIS

What if you thought you knew a secret that could change history?

Whilst standing engrossed in her favourite Pre-Raphaelite painting – Millais’s Ophelia – Cori catches the eye of Tate gallery worker, Simon, who is immediately struck by her resemblance to the red-haired beauty in the famous artwork.

The attraction is mutual, but Cori has other things on her mind. She has recently acquired the diary of Daisy, a Victorian woman with a shocking secret. As Cori reads, it soon becomes apparent that Daisy will stop at nothing to be heard, even outside of the pages of her diary …

Will Simon stick around when life becomes increasingly spooky for Cori, as she moves ever closer to uncovering the truth about Daisy’s connection to the girl in her favourite painting?

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Book Review ~ ‘The Girl in the Painting’ by Kirsty Ferry ~ 5 Stars!

I’m one of those girls that when I hear the name ‘Rossetti’ I get all fangirly and swoony. I make no apologies for this. Being born in the wrong century, I think it’s only fair that my celebrity crushes tend to focus on men from different eras. So when I started reading ‘The Girl in the Painting’, I was excited!

I should also point out that at the slightest mention of Dante Rossetti loving somebody more than Lizzie Siddall, I get very defensive and start war crying “I SHALL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP!”, so there were some evocative emotions I was experiencing when immersing myself into Kirsty Ferry’s fantastic time-slip novel.

I adored the contemporary scenes with Cori and Simon, and the return of the brilliant characters from the first book ‘Some Veil Did Fall’. They were all necessary to bring the story together and it was great to see how they are interacted with each other, and worked together to solve the mystery of Daisy. In turn, the historical scenes, where we see Daisy’s embellishment in her diary of her relationship with the Pre-Raphaelites, and Lizzie Siddall, were heartbreaking and I couldn’t stop thinking about them long after I finished the book.

Kirsty Ferry did a brilliant job by bringing together the many elements of Victorian life and weaving them into her story and characters. Daisy’s addiction to laudanum highlighted a huge problem in society, and showed how damaging it could be to mental health as well as physical. To see the truth behind her story, her relationships with the members of the Pre-Raphaelite brothers, her devotion and awe of Lizzie Siddall, and how this all lead to her downfall ripped at my heart because of how true it could have been.

With brilliantly connected contemporary and historical scenes, eerie ghostly sightings and hauntings, stories desperate to be told, and romance that keeps people together as well as tears them apart, this is a novel that you will devour from start to finish, and then feel empty as you leave the artistic world behind.

5 Stars!


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