Tag Archives: historical fiction

Long Shadows: Tales of Llys y Garn by Thorne Moore

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You may recall my interview with Thorne in September. She co-hosts the Narberth Book Fair in Pembrokeshire with Judith Barrow. You can read more about Thorne here https://wendysteele.com/2018/09/12/thorne-moore-author-and-co-organiser-of-the-narberth-book-fair/

I was fascinated to read her books and began with Long Shadows, her newest book released in April of this year.

A compelling read

This book is written as three novellas, each containing tales of Llys y Garn, a house in Pembrokeshire. Each story is told by the female protagonist.

The first is The Good Servant 1884, the second The Witch 1662 and the final story is The Dragon Slayer 1308. The house changes over the centuries, but the women who strive to be heard within it do not.

The first story is about Eluned Skeel, servant to the wealthy owners of the house, while the second is from the perspective of Elizabeth and her siblings. The third is about Angharad, daughter to Owain ap Elidyr.

The reader is given a fascinating insight into the lives of these three women during these points in history. They are all required to be obedient and subservient to men and yet, they’re strong women, willing to fight for justice, family and their honour. Eluned will do anything for her precious ‘son’, while Elizabeth battles for the right to live in the house she adores and Angharad fights in memory of her mother and sister.

The characters are beautifully drawn, giving the reader enough information to paint in their own colours and bring the story to life as they see it. Visually crafted books, written in the third person are my favourite. Each story is compelling, memorable in its own right and written with nothing held back. The stories are set in violent, cruel times and nothing is omitted when describing fights, abuse and childbirth, yet there is joy in Angharad’s friendship with Johan and delight when Mrs Skeel’s boy comes home.

If you’re looking for a compelling read, look no further.

You can buy Thorne’s book, Long Shadows here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Long-Shadows-Tales-Llys-Garn-ebook/dp/B07CQRXKBL/ref

or for my friends across the pond https://www.amazon.com/Long-Shadows-Tales-Llys-Garn-ebook/dp/B07CQRXKBL/ref

 

Pop back for more book reviews, author interviews and other writerly stuff, plus tried and tested plant based recipes, dance and magic. Sign up for my newsletter and receive a FREE short story, as well as first opportunity to enjoy my latest special offers. Bright blessings xx

 

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Why I enjoy historical fiction

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I don’t read historical fiction all the time, but when I pick up a book that not only chronicles a specific time in history, but brings me closer to the people, I can’t put it down. I’ve just finished The Wolf’s Banner by Paula Lofting, sequel to Son’s of the Wolf, set ten years before the Norman Conquest when the British Isles were in a state of chaos, as earls and thegns battled to keep hold of their piece of England…

‘I enjoy reading historical fiction for the same reason I enjoy watching Time Team, not just to immerse myself in the historical era, but to get close to the people and Ms Lofting describes her characters and their relationships with skill and an artful touch. Details of clothing and daily tasks help paint a picture of life from 1056AD in Horstede.

Where the first book in the series, Sons of the Wolf, is mainly about Wulfhere, a real thegn from the Doomsday book, The Wolf’s Banner begins and ends with Wulfhere and his family, but chronicles the trials, victories and setbacks of Burghred, son of Afgar, who goes against his father in support of his king. He wishes to uphold his grandfather’s name, rather than gain back his Mercian kingdom at the expense of the English throne.

There’s battles and blood feuds, family disputes and coming of age trials, set against the political maelstrom, ten years before the Norman Conquest. Even though these are violent times, the author doesn’t shirk from describing the outright fear and seeming futility of hacking your opponents to death in a shield wall as they breathe their last breath in your face, before another victim treads over his kinsman to receive the same brutal punishment.

I loved reading of Wulfhere’s children growing up, and the inevitability of the destruction of his relationship with his wife, Ealdgytha made me sad. Burghred’s ambitions and clever use of tactics to end a siege and the coming of age of Winflaed were two highlights of the book for me, and I felt for both of them, living their lives as pawns at a time of chaos and political uproar.

Three tumultuous years take their toll on Wulfhere, but he lives to fight another battle, and there’s hope at end of the book, that he will be restored.’

 

If you’d like to read historical fiction by Paula Lofting, check out her Amazon author page https://www.amazon.co.uk/Paula-Lofting/e/B007IWFIIM/ref

 

My Review of Fortune’s Wheel – The First Meonbridge Chronicle by Carolyn Hughes

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I enjoy historical fiction novels but need there to be a good story, not just a telling of historical facts. This novel, by Carolyn Hughes, sets the scene beautifully, helping the reader relate to the characters.

It’s 1349. The Black Death has halved the population of Meonbridge so the ‘cast’ of this story are the family members left behind, forced to adapt to the broken world they now live in.

The village adjusts to the new order of things. Eleanor, in her late teens, without parents and her fourteen year old step brother her only surviving kin, decides to expand her sheep onto more of her land with the help of her shepherd. The cottars, tenants without land of their own, are getting wise to their worth, demanding more money to farm Sir Richard’s land while Alice, mourning the loss of her husband and eldest son is left to guide her youngest sons, while hoping her only daughter Agnes will return safely after disappearing before the plague made leaving the village ill advisable.

It’s a sad but gripping beginning to the book. There are a host of characters, the whole village it seems, but imagining them at the time in the setting described makes it easy to remember them. There are plenty of wise, strong women in this book, finding themselves in traditionally male roles, out of necessity.

I enjoyed this book, packed full of historical facts and set during a period in British history where a third of the population was lost to the plague. Having played the lead role in Isolation at Eyam at school, I knew a little of the history but I’ve enjoyed learning more through this novel.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fortunes-Wheel-Meonbridge-Chronicle-Chronicles/dp/1781325820/ref

https://www.amazon.com/Fortunes-Wheel-Meonbridge-Chronicle-Chronicles/dp/1781325820/ref

 

 

 

Reading Indie

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As I approach my 100th book review, I thought it was a good time to look back and reflect on the Indie books I’ve read and offer comments on changes to the publishing industry over the past two years.

Wales to 20th Nov 2014 078Since my children bought me my Kindle for a big birthday two years ago, I’ve explored more diverse genres than in my whole reading life before then. Access to books online has enabled me to explore, seek out new writers and find new stories to enjoy. I’ve discovered things about my reading preferences that I didn’t know as well as confirming that some genres just don’t rock my boat! I decided to review every book I read to give readers the confidence to look outside their regular list of authors and give support to other Indie writers like myself.

I’ve never thought of myself as prudish but some of the erotica I’ve read crosses the boundaries for me and reads like blatant porn. I’ve discovered two writers whose cheeky, sexy stories I really enjoy, Kameron Brook and Lelani Black.

Brook’s Naughty Delights…’It’s a short read but I loved it!
Set in a cake shop of sexy delights run by Elizabeth and Felicia, iced boobs and chocolate covered balls are some of the delicacies to make you smile while the first date between Elizabeth and Donovan explores the feelings of love and lust they feel. Communication breaks down but, after sharing their feelings with their best friends, Elizabeth and Donovan talk and…you’ll have to buy the book and read for yourself!
Very very sexy:-)’

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=naughty%20delights

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Naughty-Delights-Kameron-Brook-ebook/dp/B00DELSA9K/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

 

Black’s Doctor, Doctor…’This book begins in a direct, punchy style, intriguing the reader to want to read further. It’s cheeky and sexy and easy to read and its island setting is beautifully described by the author.
Audrina, our heroine, is attractive, young and sassy but also practical, hard working and entrepreneurial. She loves her family and they come first in her world. The alpha male hero, Dr Love, is cool, sexy and an experienced lover so, when Audrina takes her mother’s place, working as his housekeeper while her mother looks after grandma, there is bound to be fireworks! Ms Black sprinkles the book with colourful characters and lush descriptions of the setting and I loved the books visual nature.

With its graphic descriptions of love making, this book is definitely for over 18s but though explicit, it’s very much about consensual pleasure between two adults and I loved it!

For an easy going read to leave you warm and smiling, look no further!’

http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Island-Moonlight-Collection-Book-ebook/dp/B00AUHR13C/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424194943&sr=1-1&keywords=doctor%2C+doctor+lelani+black

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Doctor-Island-Moonlight-Collection-Book-ebook/dp/B00AUHR13C/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1424194878&sr=1-1&keywords=doctor%2C+doctor+lelani+black

 

I also tried my first lesbian erotic novel…and loved it! The Dark Cully’s Mistress by Shiralyn J Lee

‘This story is told in the first person by Annie Smith, a prostitute living in Covent Garden during the reign of Queen Victoria. Her life changes when she falls in the street and is rescued by Mr Rotherham. This was my first encounter with lesbian erotica and I really enjoyed it.
It took me a few pages to get into the first person narrative but once enveloped in the social workings of London in the mid 1800s, the story intrigued me, kept me devouring every word until the end.
There are a few editing hiccups and the swap to Rose’s story two thirds of the way through was a little ‘clunky’ but the story held my attention and the erotic scenes were captivating.
My favourite stories are those I can ‘see’, evoking vivid scenes between the characters and this book did that for me. As a straight woman I was surprised how much I enjoyed it so, why not step away from your usual preferred genre and give lesbian erotica a go!’

http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Cullys-Mistress-Shiralyn-Lee/dp/150317638X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424194242&sr=1-1&keywords=the+dark+cully%27s+mistress

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Dark-Cullys-Mistress-Shiralyn-ebook/dp/B00BEWGJGM/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

 

I rediscovered my love of historical fiction. I read about Vikings, Anglo Saxons and Tudors and more recent history around the time of WWII. I also read books with a historical setting but more focussed on the story of the characters. Hard to pick a favourite here so books by Judith Arnopp, Mary Ann Bernal, C.S. Burough and Christoph Fischer come very close to the top but my favourite is Paula Lofting’s Sons of the Wolf.

‘The story of Wulfhere is a cracking one…even better for me, the story is set at one of my favourite times in history. Ms Lofting has taken for her main character a real thegn from the Doomsday Book, Wulhere and created a family and domestic life for him.
There are battles, loyalties, oaths and fines to pay by the men privy to the royal court, balanced out by much drinking and brawling and rewarding of bravery and loyalty. The women’s role may at first be seen to be a domestic one but they too aspire to power and status, just as the men.
Those not part of the royal circle are also chronicled as Ms Lofting weaves her tapestry of words on which her characters play out.
I loved every word from Freyda’s emerging from an infatuated teenager into a woman who knows her own strengths to Alfgyva’s simple life and devotion to her one true love, from Harold’s common sense and loyalty to his king and his men to ten year old Tovi’s struggles to make sense and find comfort and reassurance in a violent, adult world.
Loved it, loved it, loved it! Most enjoyable book I’ve read this year…can’t wait for ‘The Wolf Banner’!’

http://www.amazon.com/Sons-Wolf-Paula-Lofting/dp/1781320276/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424194414&sr=1-1&keywords=sons+of+the+wolf+paula+lofting

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sons-Wolf-Paula-Lofting/dp/1781320276/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

 

Young Adult Fiction provided interesting reading and two books stood out for me. The first was Torn by Christine Hughes. ‘She’d known Ethan and Lucas all her life, her father having taken them into his home when their own father died but how well did Samantha English REALLY know them? How well did she know her own father?
As the story of ‘Torn’ unfolds, life changing revelations rock Sam’s life as she struggles to cope with the feelings and angst of a teenager as well as the powerful emotions coursing through her body as she approaches her 18th birthday. The reader is introduced to a hierarchy of angels assigned roles by the divine to help, or sometimes hinder, the humans on earth.
‘Torn’ is a well written, well researched story following Sam’s journey as she accepts the adult role in life decided for her. It’s a story of love, betrayal, hope and pain and highlights the fine line between good and evil.
Once begun, this book is tough to put down! Though billed as YA, I found it a really enjoyable read and so give it my 5* rating…I loved it, would recommend it and I will definitely read it again. As this was Ms Hughes’ debut novel, watch out for the next one!’

http://www.amazon.com/Torn-Christine-Hughes-ebook/dp/B00EEO0T8G/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424194545&sr=1-1&keywords=torn+christine+hughes

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Torn-Christine-Hughes/dp/1937329518/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

 

And the second Lake Caerwych by J Conrad ‘Cerena starts at Bridget’s school and immediately, the girls feel a connection and soon seal an exclusive friendship. On a trip to Louisianna, Bridget buys a Celtic pendant, framed with delicate twists of ivy and the first step on an adventure to Wales begins.

Pacey, funny, full of ideas, this book is well written and a wonderfully engaging read.

http://www.amazon.com/Lake-Caerwych-Travel-Fantasy-Copper-ebook/dp/B0055HRF24/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424195065&sr=1-1&keywords=lake+caerwych

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=lake%20caerwych&sprefix=lake+caer%2Cdigital-text

 

I tried stories about vampires, shapeshifters and werewolves but most weren’t for me but I stuck with the fantasy genre and found Helen Daly and Pulse. ‘Thank you Helen Daly! Having recently completed my first week in a tent on a Welsh hillside with my partner and three cats, this book kept me going as the rain hammered down and the wind blew.
Ms Daly grabs the reader’s attention immediately by introducing the main character Esa, feisty, determined and intent on her own survival. With her contact and sympathy for Rootu, the spinner, a friendship is born.
As the story of the changes to this world and the other become apparent since the Pulse, a world the reader recognises becomes the backdrop to growing tension and the possibility of a fight between the two realms becomes a reality. The story is fast moving and exciting…I devoured the whole book in six sittings!
There are a few editing errors and a couple of times I had to read back a few sentences to confirm who said what but this is mere pickiness on my part as it didn’t distract from the story or characters as I was compelled to read on. Forget which genre you usually prefer! This is a cracking story and well worth the read as it’s well written and beautifully balanced. There are moments my heart beat fast during the battles, described concisely and graphically and other times I smiled as Esa stood up to those around her and questioned their motives. Other times, I was drawn in to the description of the second realm, elves, pixies and spinners living and working together and mischievous Rootu, always there to add excitement and fun.

So I say again, ‘Thank you Helen Daly’ for a great story that kept my mind off the Welsh rain battering my tent!’

http://www.amazon.com/Pulse-H-J-Daly/dp/0988847612/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424194099&sr=1-2-fkmr0&keywords=pulse+helen+daly

 

I read my first ghost story and loved it! Lydia North aka Kim Scott weaves a fabulous story in Waiting for Harvey ‘While a hurricane force storm threatens the east coast of America, Erik decides he needs a break from City life to finish his much awaited third novel. He contacts his older brother John and asks if he will drive him to the cabin in the woods in Maine.

The joy of this book is you really don’t know what is going to happen next. It’s so beautifully crafted that, even when I had an idea that ‘such’ would happen, I still had no idea of the final outcome!

North is a true story weaver, spinning the tale of Erik’s childhood, growing up and through the twists and turn of Harvey’s life. I loved this book. Well written, well researched and easy to read, my perfect book at the end of a long day. My favourite story of 2014.’

http://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Harvey-Spirits-Maine-1/dp/1499534949/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424193618&sr=1-1&keywords=waiting+for+harvey

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Waiting-Harvey-Spirits-Maine-Book-ebook/dp/B00KAGI30S/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

 

Romance has never been a favourite of mine but I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed historical romance. Tarah Scott’s To Tame a Highland Earl had me hooked from the first line. ‘I enjoyed this book from the first line “If ever a woman deserved to be shot, it was Miss Crenshaw” until the very end. There are well rounded characters in this beautifully crafted story and it’s pacey, sexy and well written.
Against a backdrop of Scottish/English loathing at the beginning of the 19th century, where challenges were issued and duels fought as a means to uphold honour, Erroll, handsome cad and womaniser and Eve, sensible eldest daughter, yet determined to marry for love, are thrown together and forced to extricate themselves from a complicated tangle of kidnapping, well meaning parents and scheming paramours.

Really enjoyed this story so it’s a 5* read from me.’

http://www.amazon.com/Tame-Highland-MacLean-Highander-Novel/dp/1499168586/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424193488&sr=1-1&keywords=to+tame+a+highland+earl

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tame-Highland-MacLean-Highlander-Novel-ebook/dp/B00KBSYU52/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

….as did Amber Dane’s Gem of Gravane ‘ I really enjoyed this book!

Dark, swarthy Aric Claydon arrives at the Gravane estate to claim his prize from William; the estates of Gravane, Egway and Gent and Danielle, the lady of the Gravane manor, as his bride. Tall, strong and curvaceous, dark haired Danielle awaits her suitor in fear but also in hope that he will rid her of the humiliation and abuse she has suffered from her cousin Thomas and his sister, enabling her and her new husband to run and manage the whole estate once more.
I loved the story and the conflict between Aric and Danielle as each copes with trying to maintain their former position in a Saxon household, turned upside down by the arrival of a Norman lord. There’s blood and gore and plenty of sexual tension as battles are fought to protect the lands of Gravane in the name of King William.

Real page turner…give it a go!’

http://www.amazon.com/Gem-Gravane-Northern-Knights-1/dp/1481135856/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424193790&sr=1-1&keywords=gem+of+gravane

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gem-Gravane-Northern-Knights-Book-ebook/dp/B008GF4DNG/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

 

And finally, if you’re looking for a good read with well crafted real characters, look no further than the books of Jan Ruth. I read Wild Water and The Long and the Short of it, one a novel, the other a collection of short stories, and I could not put these books down. For all this author’s books, visit her Amazon author pages:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jan-Ruth/e/B006F1NXZM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

http://www.amazon.com/Jan-Ruth/e/B006F1NXZM/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

 

Since launching my first novel Destiny of Angels – First book in the Lilith Trilogy in June 2012, the publishing world has been swamped by new books both on kindle and in paperback. My diverse reading has allowed me to sample a wide range of books and genres and the one thing that seems to make the Indie books stand out, not in a good way, is the lack of editing. Some books feel like reading a first draft often littered with spelling mistakes and with words left in or left out. I will be the first to hold my hands up to struggling with ‘point of view’ and some grammar errors myself but every book I write is edited, edited and edited again. Often the editing takes longer than the writing but the book I finally publish needs to be the best I can make it.

You may ask, why not pay for editing? I paid for the first chapters of Destiny to be edited and, since then, have had two editors tell me that the editing is incorrect and both wanted to change it in different ways. Who do I believe? This poses a real dilemma for Indie authors as added costs have to be met by us so, with the help of alpha and beta readers as well as articles on grammar and punctuation I have gathered over the years, I aim to produce a book edited to the best of my ability.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my look back over Indie books and will try out a new genre or author for yourself and remember….please leave a review. We want to be the best we can be and your reviews help us know what you, our readers, want.

To find out more about my books, please use the buttons above or visit my author pages:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1424195981&sr=1-2-ent

http://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1424195993&sr=1-2-ent