Review: In a Time Never Known by Kat Michels

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I initially picked up this book because it’s set during the American Civil War – a period I’m interested in learning more about. From its blurb I learnt that it centred around a spy ring, which only furthered my interest.

This book is quite hard to compare to any historical fiction I’ve read recently – and I say this as a good thing, because I found it refreshingly unique. Kat Michels crafted a twisty plot full of suspense, and some quite shocking moments. I could never predict which way the story would go next, and the unpredictability kept me eagerly moving through each chapter.

Probably my favourite aspect of this novel was the complexity of the characters. Multiple perspectives were followed at various points, and every single one of those characters were morally grey. My opinion of each character leapt around repeatedly as Kat Michels explored the lengths people will go to in times of war.

Not knowing much about the period in question, I can’t comment too much on historical accuracy – but it did seem as though a lot of research had gone into this novel. I certainly felt the image of the war created by Kat Michels was believable, and multiple angles were presented, offering depth to the story. The author certainly didn’t back away from describing some of the more disturbing aspects of war – it’s worth noting that at points the book is rather graphic.

While I did really enjoy the story, what made this book a 4* rather than a 5* read was the writing. This was Kat Michels’ debut adult novel, and I felt that it could have done with undergoing another round of edits in order to make the writing really stand out. For me there were often too many chunks of very long paragraphs which halted momentum previously gained. I also feel there could have been more made of the dramatic twists, in order to have them really pack a punch.

All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable and intriguing debut, and I’ll be looking out with interest to see what Kat Michels writes next.

 

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Blog Blitz: A Warriner to Seduce Her by Virginia Heath

Today I am bringing you my review of charming Regency romance A Warriner to Seduce Her as part of a blog blitz organised by Rachel’s Random Resources. This is Virginia Heath’s fourth novel in her Wild Warriners series, but can be read as a standalone – I hadn’t read any of the three previous books but had no issues diving straight into this story.

First up, here’s some information about the novel and author:

Synopsis

A Warriner to Seduce Her

A sensible schoolmistress… Awakened by the notorious rake!

In this The Wild Warriners story, schoolmistress Felicity Blunt feels old beyond her years―and desperately dull. Meeting confirmed rake Jacob Warriner brings her gloriously alive, and yet no matter his allure she must remain immune to his obvious charms and unashamed flirtation. But is Jacob merely a mischievous scoundrel? Or is there much more to this Warriner than meets the eye…?

Purchase – http://www.myBook.to/Warriner4

 

 

About the Author

A Warriner To Seduce Her - Virginia Heath

When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down. Fortunately, the lovely people at Harlequin Mills & Boon took pity on her and decided to publish her romances, but it still takes her forever to fall asleep.

Social Media Links:

https://www.facebook.com/virginiaheathauthor/

https://twitter.com/VirginiaHeath_

https://www.virginiaheathromance.com/

 

And now for my thoughts…

 

Review

Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in this publication day event, and for providing me with an ARC of the book. All opinions are my own.

Trigger Warning: Suicide

When I first picked up this novel, I expected a fun, lighthearted Regency romance to devour – and I definitely wasn’t disappointed on that front. But what I actually got was this and so much more, because A Warriner to Seduce Her is definitely a London Season story with a difference.

Take our main protagonist, Jake Warriner. He is a self-proclaimed rake, which is not uncommon in a Regency romance – but what is different is that from the very beginning we are offered an insight into his past, from which we are able to piece together the nature of his character. This makes him so much more than your typical Regency rake, endearing him to me straight away.

Our female protagonist Fliss is also a breath of fresh air. An older and sterner character than your typical debutante, the sharp put-downs she delivers to Jake when they first meet had me snorting out loud with laughter. I really enjoyed reading about a female character with intelligence and strength, rather than one who is meek and submissive.

This story isn’t just about the romance – the plot is set against the backdrop of the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars, featuring politically-charged alliances and an element of mystery. I found these aspects just as enjoyable as the romance, the historical context adding depth to the plot.

As someone who enjoys a traditional Regency romance in the vein of Georgette Heyer, at times I found the dialogue too modern and informal – but that’s more a personal preference of mine. This didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the novel, which was a fun, fast-paced read.

 

Giveaway! – Win 3 x E-copies of A Warriner to Seduce Her (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Link to giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c6949479/

 

 

Children’s Historical Fiction: My childhood favourites

I was inspired to write this post whilst watching the lovely Ashleigh at A Frolic Through Fiction‘s video on her favourite childhood books. Filled with nostalgia, I began to think back over some of my own childhood favourites – and with this came the realisation that my interest in historical fiction developed at a very young age.

Today I’m going to share with you two of my all-time-favourite children’s historical fiction novels which helped ignite the passion for the genre I have today. Both are set during the Second World War; both contain unforgettable protagonists; and both introduced me as a child to some of the hardships of the period in a relatable and sensitive way.

Without further ado, let’s get in to the books…

Back Home by Michelle Magorian

Back Home

Most people will know Michelle Magorian as the author of Goodnight, Mister Tom – a novel I also loved – but my first taste of her writing was Back Home, the story of Rusty, who is returning to the UK in 1945 after being evacuated to America during the war.

This book was gifted to me for my ninth birthday, and I instantly fell in love with it. Rusty was a main character I could relate to so easily – at the time I was being bullied in school, so Rusty’s sense of being an outsider was something I was very familiar with. She’s such a strong and determined protagonist, and I remember finding her really inspiring.

In addition to offering young readers an insight into what life in Britain was like in the aftermath of the Second World War, Back Home also deals with issues relating to growing up. Rusty is twelve years old, just entering adolescence, so it’s also a great coming-of-age story for children to read. Basically, it’s an all-round great book!

The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips by Michael Morpurgo

The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips

Ah, Michael Morpurgo. From a very young age I discovered that his novels had the power to move me to tears. Private Peaceful, set during the First World War, is one such example – and another is this, a beautiful Second World War novel about one wilful girl and her wandering cat.

This story is set in the seaside village of Slapton in Devon, where twelve-year-old Lily and her neighbours are forced to evacuate from so that practice landings for D-Day can take place. Tips the cat is a central character – which instantly had me sold – as is Adie, the American soldier whose acquaintance Lily makes.

Both heartbreaking and uplifting, this story taught me a lot about the part Slapton citizens had to play in D-Day, whilst also featuring some very memorable characters and an adorable ending.

 

I hope you enjoyed this nostalgia-filled look at some of my very first historical fiction favourites! I’d love to know if you read historical fiction as a child, and if so, do share some of your own favourite books 🙂

 

Review: The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

This book is such a difficult one to review. The hype surrounding its release has been unreal – and after hearing the author discussing it on the radio, my expectations reached new heights.

But alas, this was unfortunately to be one of those horrible times where the book did not live up to the hype for me.

Although slow to get going, Imogen Hermes Gowar’s prose is absolutely stunning, drawing me instantly into late 18th century London. And this is not Georgian period as we know it from Jane Austen’s novels. It is as if the author has pulled back the curtain on that era of glittering glamour, unveiling its seedy underbelly. The author’s attention to historical accuracy is impressive; the extensive research put in really pays off, creating a piece of sumptuous period writing brimming with rich details of dress, food and decor.

Unfortunately, what the novel lacks for me is development, both in terms of plot and characters. The premise was promising: our main female protagonist, Angelica Neal, is a courtesan, instantly coming across as a morally grey and not entirely likeable character. On the flip side there’s Mr Jonah Hancock, a character made intriguing by the deep sense of loss in his life, and the question of what lengths he will go to in order to fill this void.

Neither of the characters, I felt, were really developed to their full potential. At a certain point in the latter half of the novel, one single thread of the plot took over and dominated the rest of the book, at the expense of any further character development. And I think it is worth mentioning that this plot point which ends up becoming dominant is one of magical realism.

I hadn’t expected magical realism upon beginning this book; perhaps foolishly, given the word “Mermaid” in the title, but I had thought this was pure historical fiction. Perhaps if I had been expecting magical realism, I would have enjoyed the end of the book more – but at the time of reading, I found it unnecessary, and felt it detracted from some of the novel’s strengths.

For me, the story meandered away to an unsatisfying conclusion, leaving many loose threads. Again, perhaps my expectations were misguided, but I had also hoped, based on Imogen Hermes Gowar’s radio discussion, to find a compelling look at how the life of a courtesan could give the opportunity for financial independence. Instead I read a story of women who were submissive and dependent on men, which was a shame.

All this being said, Imogen Hermes Gowar’s debut has been received very well by critics, so if a slower novel with mystical speculation and beautiful writing is something you enjoy, then do consider giving it a go. In terms of my preferences, it was too slow and lacking in character development for me to love it.

Down the TBR Hole #1

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When I think back to a year ago, before I had started blogging or joined Goodreads, memories spring to mind of a life where a “TBR” consisted of the maybe two or three unread books sitting on my bookshelf (note bookshelf – back in my old flat I didn’t own a bookcase!).

Fast-forward a year, and I have inevitably become a book buying addict, purchasing books at a far quicker rate than I can possibly read them. And so when I saw Lost in a Story’s fabulous method of conquering your TBR, I had to give it a try.

Here’s how it works (taken directly from the source):

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

So, let’s get started…

The Books

The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles, #1)The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
This is a YA fantasy novel which has a pretty good overall rating on Goodreads. It sounds pretty intriguing, but I’ve found the fantasy series I’ve started in the last few months pretty hit and miss so I’m a little apprehensive about giving this one a go. Another reason I haven’t picked it up is that it’s not been available at any bookshop I’ve visited, nor on Amazon – but I’ve found out that it is on Book Depository, so I think I will give it a go.

Judgement: KEEP

 

Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948

Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 by Madeleine K. Albright
I added this book to my TBR when I had some sudden inspiration for a WWII Historical Fiction about a young musician fleeing to London from Prague. This idea never came of anything, so while I’m sure this will be an interesting read, I don’t see myself picking it up anytime soon.

Judgement: GO

 

 

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
I listened to the audiobook for Cinder, the first book of The Lunar Chronicles, and really loved it, so I want to keep on listening to the audiobooks for the rest of the series. I’m pretty slow with audiobooks, and I’m currently listening to His Dark Materials to remind myself of the story before reading La Belle Sauvage – but once I’m done with that, I’ll be moving straight on to Scarlet.

Judgement: KEEP

 

 

Glass Roses: A Victorian Fairytale

Glass Roses: A Victorian Fairytale by Britain Kalai Soderquist
Back in January I marked Glass Roses as one of my Top Priority Reads for 2018 – and this is definitely still the case!

Judgement: KEEP

 

 

 

 

The Undesirables

The Undesirables by Chad Thumann
Similarly to Glass Roses, I read the first draft of The Undesirables on Wattpad – and to this day, it’s still one of the most stunning books I’ve ever read on the site. It’s a beautiful WWII Historical Fiction, and just thinking about it now is making me excited to read the published version.

Judgement: KEEP

 

Results

This Round: Kept 4/5
Overall: Kept 4/5

Let me know what you thought of my decisions, and I’ll be back with another round whenever I next feel begin to feel overwhelmed by my ever-growing TBR!

Jane Austen’s London #2: St James’s

For the original post in this series, click here.

My second Jane Austen walk around London began in Leicester Square. Nowadays it is known as a hive of entertainment, with several cinemas and shops for tourists (including the Lego store with a giant Lego Big Ben!), and plenty of street performers to watch.

Interestingly the square has been known for its interesting shops and attractions since Jane Austen’s time; though the entertainment was more along the lines of Italian sopranos and displays of needlework back then, rather than the beatboxers and breakdancers of today!

Away from the crowds gathered in Leicester Square is the relative serenity of the impressive St James’ Palace. Until the Regency period, this was the main residence of the royal family – but upon being made Prince Regent, George IV decided it was inadequate for a king and ordered Buckingham House (which we now know as Buckingham Palace) to be redesigned and extended so that he could live there instead.

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Just around the corner from St James’ Palace is a street of elegant shops fit for Regency gentlemen, including Lock & Co. Hatters, and Berry Bros wine merchants, where Jane Austen’s brother Henry, a banker in this part of London, purchased his wine.

Next door to Berry Bros is a shop front which captured my interest for a reason quite unrelated to Jane Austen. I’m sure those of you who have seen the Kingsman films will recognise this as being the location for Kingsman HQ in the films, and will also fondly remember the suits on display from the second film.

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After that unexpected stop came the part of the walk I’d been most excited about. In all its glory (if you imagine the cars outside are fancy stagecoaches), I present to you the one and only Almack’s Assembly Rooms – the hottest ticket in Regency London. Almack’s on a Wednesday night was the place to be during the London Season if you were on the marriage mart, and tickets were notoriously difficult to come by.

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One gentleman who would certainly have attended Almack’s is Mr Beau Brummell, Regency style icon. It was fitting, therefore, for a statue of him in all his Hessian-booted and cravat-ed glory to feature as part of this walk. I can definitely imagine some of Jane Austen’s more dandified characters (John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey, anyone?) dressed in such attire.

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The final part of the walk passed by several gentlemen’s clubs, including the infamous White’s which features in many a Regency romance novel. Jane Austen’s brother Henry attended the club for a grand ball in 1814 which included guests such as George III and his son; a subject of great interest and pride for Henry’s sister!

And so concludes the second instalment in this eight part series on Jane Austen’s London. All facts mentioned in this post have been taken from Louise Allen’s Walking Jane Austen’s London, which I would highly recommend checking out if you’re interested in taking these walks yourself!

 

 

20 Questions Book Tag

I first saw this tag done by Ashley at Thrifty Bibliophile, and it seemed like a fun one so I decided to do it myself!

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1. How many books is too many books in a series?
It depends on how long the author planned the series to be. Long series can be great, but not when the author keeps adding new books just for the sake of it.

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?
I’m quite strange in that I don’t actually mind them – cliffhangers give me a good reason to pick up the next book in a series as soon as it comes out!

3. Hardcopy or paperback?
Paperbacks for me – I travel a lot with work so they’re a lot easier to transport with me.

4. Favorite Book?
If I had to pick just one favourite book, I think it would have to be Emma by Jane Austen.

5. Least Favorite Book?
Maybe it was just the trauma of having to dissect it for English Lit GCSE, but I really didn’t like Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

6. Love triangles, yes or no?
Meh.

7. The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?
The Final Cut, the 3rd and final book in the House of Cards trilogy.

8. A book you’re currently reading?
Still Me by Jojo Moyes. I’m really liking it so far!

9. Last book you recommended to someone?
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, which I specifically recommended to my mum, but in all honesty I recommend it to everyone!

10. Oldest book you’ve read?
The oldest I can think of is Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (published 1811).

11. Newest book you’ve read?
Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas, published September 2017 – I’m terrible at keeping up with new releases!

12. Favorite author?
Jane Austen, as is probably evident by the number of times I’ve already mentioned her in this tag 🙂

13. Buying books or borrowing books?
I recently moved into my own flat so I’m enjoying the novelty of buying books to fill my bookcase – but libraries will always be an important part of my life.

14. A book you dislike that everyone else seems to love?
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly has loads of great reviews, but the writing style just wasn’t for me.

15. Bookmarks or dog-ears?
Bookmarks. ALWAYS BOOKMARKS.

16. A book you can always re-read?
This is probably quite a cliché, but definitely the Harry Potter series.

17. Can you read while hearing music?
Sometimes I like having some piano music on quietly in the background – nothing with words, though.

18. One POV or multiple POV’s?
Whatever works best for the story!

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?
I have so much respect for people who can read a book in one sitting – even if I’m loving a book, I couldn’t concentrate for that long!

20. Who do you tag?
Anyone and everyone who would like to do this tag 🙂