Research & Writing Historical Fiction

Today Judith Arnopp talks about her research, writing and her collaboration on Sexuality and its Impact on British History with me. Judith’s life-long passion for history eventually led her to the University of Wales where she gained a B.A. in English and Creative Writing, and a Masters in Medieval History. Her first novel, Peaceweaver was published in 2009, quickly followed by two others. Her best-selling Tudor novel, The Winchester Goose lead her to create five more novels covering the lives of Anne Boleyn, Katheryn Parr and Elizabeth of York. The King’s Mother is the third book in The Beaufort Chronicles a trilogy following the fascinating life of Margaret Beaufort. She is researching her eleventh novel. Judith’s non-fiction work has been published in various historical anthologies and she is active online at her website and at Facebook  and Twitter @juditharnopp

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

During the course of research for my novel The Kiss of the Concubine: a story of Anne Boleyn I constantly came up against intriguing suggestions of some sort of romantic attachment between Anne and Thomas Wyatt. Historians are divided as to the nature of the relationship and at the time, since it had no part in my novel I wasn’t able to pursue the matter. So, when I was approached by Hunter Jones to write a piece for a forthcoming anthology to be published by pen and Sword books, Sexuality and its Impact on British History, I jumped at the chance.

The project is a collaborative project between authors: Hunter S Jones, Annie Whitehead, Jessica Cale, Gayle Hulme, Dr Beth Lynne and Emma Haddon-Wright and myself, examining how romance and sex has impacted upon history. It looks at relationships from the Anglo Saxon period right through to the Victorian, throwing up some surprising facts and details.

I love researching the Tudors. I love Anne Boleyn and I also love Thomas Wyatt’s poetry so it wasn’t long before I was fully immersed, my study piled high with books and snippets of verse stuck around the room.

Wyatt’s presence in Anne’s social circle and the fact of his arrest at the same time as Smeaton, Norris, Brereton, Rochford and Weston, is often overlooked. It is only Wyatt’s surviving poems that give us pause, make us stop and consider if perhaps he was too close to the queen; perhaps he was the lucky one, the one that got away.

Even if their affection was platonic, they were friends and moved in the same circles for most of their lives. The queen’s companions were also his, he drank with them, laughed with them, jousted with them and later, in May 1536, he watched from his prison in the Bell Tower as they died on the scaffold. He may or may not have deserved to die with them but the experience was riven into his heart and coloured his poetry ever afterwards. It is clear he could not forget.

The bell tower showed me such sight

That in my head sticks day and night.

There did I learn out of a grate,

For all favour, glory, or might,

That yet circa Regna tonat.

Whether he was guilty of adultery with Anne or not, the remainder of Wyatt’s life was difficult; he spent most of his time abroad, involved in intrigue and espionage, leading to capture and ransom by the Spanish. His involvement in the attempted assassination of Reginald Pole led a second spell in the Tower of London. His marriage to Elizabeth Brooke failed and eventually he left her and lived openly with his mistress, Elizabeth Darrell. We all know how Anne died but Wyatt died of virulent fever at the home of his friend Sir John Horsey in Sherborne, at the age of thirty nine.

My chapter on Anne and Wyatt, named These Bloody Days in honour of one of his best poems, took a great deal of time and consideration. One day I’d hold one view, the next I felt differently but the more I read the more I became immersed in the desperate sorrows of that time. My personal life took a back seat and I fell behind with my novel The King’s Mother – Book Three of The Beaufort Chronicles, the life of Margaret Beaufort. I distinctly remember one afternoon sitting on the floor surrounded by books and documents and realising that I just had to stop researching and get something on paper or I was going to miss the deadline. Once I began to write it, things became easier, as I slowly made order out of chaos I began to feel better and when it was time to send it off to the editor, I knew it was going to be all right.

As luck would have it, once Anne and Thomas were out of my head I was able to return to Margaret’s story and met the deadline on that project too. All the authors involved are in a fever of excitement and the book has been received with a great deal of enthusiasm and we are all set to go.

Author Judith Arnopp

 Sexuality and Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare 

Banner II Final for Sexuality and its imapct on history

Would you swig a magic potion or plot to kill your husband in order to marry your lover? These are just two of the many romantic and sexual customs from British history that you will explore as seven authors take us through the centuries, revealing that truth is stranger than fiction when it comes to love. From bizarre trivia about courtly love, to techniques and prostitution, you’ll encounter memorable nuggets of provocative information that you’ll want to share.

It’s all here: ménage a trois, chastity belts, Tudor fallacies, royal love and infidelity, marriage contracts (which were more like business arrangements), brothels, kept women, and whorehouses. Take a peek at what really happened between the sheets. Each story provides you with shocking detail about what was at the heart of romance throughout British history.

Sexuality and Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare chronicles the pleasures and perils of the flesh, sharing secrets from the days of the Anglo-Saxons, medieval courtly love traditions, diabolical Tudor escapades—including those of Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots—the Regency, and down to the ‘prudish’ Victorian Era. This scholarly yet accessible study brings to light the myriad varieties of British sexual mores.

Available on Amazon 

Book Review: The Property of Lies by Marjorie Eccles

The Property of Lies (A 1930s_ historical mystery) by Marjorie EcclesThe Property of Lies: A 1930s’ Historical Mystery

by Marjorie Eccles

Expected publication: September 1st 2017 by Severn House Publisher

1930: When a body is discovered on the premises of the newly-established Maxstead Court School for Girls, Detective Inspector Herbert Reardon is called in to investigate. His wife Ellen having just accepted a job as French teacher, Reardon is alarmed to find the school a hotbed of scandalous secrets, suppressed passions, petty jealousies and wanton schoolgirl cruelty. As he pursues his enquiries, it becomes clear that the dead woman was not who – or what – she claimed to be. Who was she really – and why is Reardon convinced that more than one member of staff is not telling him the whole truth?

Then a pupil goes missing – and the case takes a disturbing new twist …

My thoughts:

The Property of Lies is the first book I have read by Marjorie Eccles and I am delighted I decided to read and review it. I adore historical mysteries and mysteries surrounding old manors and estates in England’s countryside’s. I have to say I normally find out who is committing crimes in stories like these, but found myself guessing all the wrong people!

DI Rearden and his wife Ellen are new to the area and Ellen takes a teaching position at Maxstead and before you know it, is caught up in a mysterious death of a previous teacher on the property. The teacher’s death and how she was found baffled everyone. Alas, there are other strange events happening at the school and you soon discover not everything is what it seems-not even to DI Rearden.

I enjoyed reading about all the characters and their role in the story. I would like to read more about their back story however but that in no way takes away from the story itself. It was enough to keep the characters interesting. I would have liked the period of the story to be a bit more atmospheric to the era and to have drawn stronger description to the boarding house.  Having said that, I recommend this story to avid readers of mystery and for those who want to give their try in this genre for the first time.

I look forward to reading more from this author!

I have rated this book three stars and I want to thank NetGalley and Severn House Publishers for a review copy.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Reveal & Embroidering the Facts with Award Winning Author Clare Flynn

The Chalky Sea LARGE EBOOKTwo troubled people struggle to find their way in a turbulent world.

In July 1940, Gwen Collingwood drops her husband at the railway station, knowing she may never see him again. Two days later her humdrum world is torn apart when the sleepy English seaside town where she lives is subjected to the first of many heavy bombing attacks.

In Ontario, Canada, Jim Armstrong is debating whether to volunteer. His decision becomes clear when he uncovers the secret his fiancée has been keeping from him. A few weeks later he is on a ship bound for England.

Gwen is forced to confront the truth she has concealed about her past and her own feelings. Jim battles with a bewildering and hostile world far removed from the cosy life of his Canadian farm. War brings horror and loss to each of them – can it also bring change and salvation?

**************

Embroidering the Facts

When I wrote my fourth novel, The Green Ribbons, I set it in a real life English country village, Kintbury in Berkshire, but changed the name to Nettlestock. I used an invented name because I wanted to be free to move buildings to different locations and to invent a fictitious lord of the manor without offending potential ancestors. My latest novel, The Chalky Sea, is set during World War 2 in the seaside town where I now live, Eastbourne. This time I kept the town’s name. Here’s why.

Eastbourne played a surprisingly prominent role in the defence of the home front. Over the course of the war it earned a reputation as “the most heavily raided town in the south-east”. In July 1940 this sleepy Victorian seaside town, with its large hotels, splendid pier and unspoilt seafront, experienced the first of more than one hundred aerial bombardments by the German Luftwaffe.

This first attack came on Sunday July 7th at 11am and was focused on a street to the east of the town centre. Whitley Road is an unexceptional residential area. Two civilian men lost their lives in this daylight raid, twenty-two people were injured, nine homes destroyed and a further sixty damaged. A single Dornier Do17 aeroplane with ten high explosive bombs caused the damage. There had been no warning as at the time there was a government instruction that sirens were not to be used when there was only a single plane. This took place a month before the London Blitz and was the first of one hundred and twelve air raids that lasted until March 1944 and resulted in one hundred and ninety-nine deaths in the town, most of them civilians.

With so much devastation in one small tourist town, it seemed to me to be wrong to invent a fictitious town as the setting for my book. Few people are aware of what happened to Eastbourne. I lived here during my secondary school years, and was completely oblivious as to what went on during the war. I have been amazed how many others were ignorant of the facts, including many who have lived here all their lives. So I decided The Chalky Sea would stay true to the facts and any bombings featured in the book would involve the same places, dates and times as happened in real life. My characters are all completely fictitious but any deaths or injuries in the book only happen when actual loss of life occurred. In this way I hope the book can be a testimony to all those forgotten souls who lost their lives here.

Chalky Sea Clare Flynn photo

The Chalky Sea tells two interwoven stories: that of Gwen, an Eastbourne woman, staying on in the town against advice, after her officer husband has departed to fight overseas, and of Jim, a Canadian soldier from a farm in Ontario. Jim joins up in order to escape a broken heart – hoping that war will end his troubles  – one way or another.

Thousands of Canadian soldiers were stationed here in Eastbourne during the war, another little known fact. There was a Canadian presence throughout the town and its surrounds (as well as many other south coast towns), from July 1941 until just before D Day in 1944. As there were many different regiments and units billeted in the town, some for only a matter of weeks, I chose not to assign Jim to a specific regiment – just to the Canadian Second Division. I wanted to be free to move him from Canada to the British garrison town of Aldershot and thence to a particular area of Eastbourne at times of my choosing and this would have proved impossible if I had made him part of an identified unit. In any event there was a lot of fluidity during the war, with Canadians at times serving under British command and vice versa, and soldiers frequently transferring between units and locations.

One of the things that made me want to write The Chalky Sea was my wondering who might have lived in my (circa 1900) house before me. This is how I dreamt up Gwen. I live in the Meads area of Eastbourne, up above the town, close to the Downs and Beachy Head, with a view of the sea. I tried to imagine what it would have been like watching enemy planes skimming over the water, under the radar, ready to heap destruction on the town.

When I first moved here just over a year ago, every day I used to write down a short description of the sea, while waiting for the kettle to boil for my early morning tea. Each day it looked different and I used a few of the descriptions in the book. I knew the Canadians used to park their tanks at the end of my road and drank in both of my two local pubs. The first German fighter plane shot down over the town landed in school grounds at the end of my road. It was inevitable that I would have to write a book set here in Eastbourne.

The Chalky Sea is available as an e-book exclusively on Amazon, and as a paperback via all good book retailers.

About Author:

Clare Flynn

Clare Flynn writes historical fiction with a strong sense of time and place and compelling characters. Her books often deal with characters who are displaced – forced out of their comfortable lives and familiar surroundings. She is a graduate of Manchester University where she read English Language and Literature.

Born in Liverpool she is the eldest of five children. After a career in international marketing, working on brands from nappies to tinned tuna and living in Paris, Milan, Brussels and Sydney, she ran her own consulting business for 15 years and now lives in Eastbourne where she writes full-time – and can look out of her window and see the sea.

When not writing and reading, Clare loves to paint with watercolours and grabs any available opportunity to travel – sometimes under the guise of research.

Author links

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

goodreads

Award Winning B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Books

Clare Flynn banner

 

 

 

 

The Journals of Matthew Quinton Series by J.D. Davies

me-iiI can’t speak for other book bloggers but my work load of reviewing books is quite extensive and it leaves me little time to start book series. Starting one up is a big commitment but there are times one stumbles across a series that looks too good to pass up. The question is when to find the time to read them. Having said that, I will just have to get creative because The Journals of Matthew Quinton Series looks intriguing. Though my main focus right now is American History, I still like to explore European history as well. There is also the fact that I am on the lookout for stories with male protagonists.

The history surrounding Cromwell’s death and the restoration of England is a subject I’d like to further explore. I want to become stronger in that era. Like avid historical fiction loves I start with this genre and work my way through non-fiction. The Journals of Matthew Quinton Series is a pretty big, so my goal it is read at least two books from the series once a year. What if I really like the series and don’t want to wait for the next year to come? Well, then somehow, my goal will have to change- however hard that might be. I am seriously overloaded with book reviews-as always. I have listed the first three books in the series. You can find the others on Amazon or goodreads. Enjoy!

Gentleman CaptainGentleman Captain (The Journals of Matthew Quinton #1) by J.D. Davies

Paperback, 328 pages

Published April 6th 2010 by Old Street Publishing (first published 2009)

1662: Restoration England. Cromwell is dead, and King Charles II has reclaimed the throne after years of civil war. It is a time of divided allegiances, intrigue, and outright treachery. With rebellion stirring in the Scottish Isles, the hard-pressed sovereign needs men he can trust to sail north and defuse this new threat. Matthew Quinton is such a man—the second son of a noble royalist family, he is loyal, if inexperienced. Having sunk the first man-of-war under his command within weeks, Matthew is determined to complete his second mission without loss of life or honor. Upon taking command of His Majesty’s Ship the Jupiter, the young “gentleman captain” is faced with a resentful crew and has but few on whom he can rely: Kit Farrell, an illiterate commoner with vast seafaring experience, and Phineas Musk, a roguish but steadfast family retainer. As they approach the wild coast of Scotland, Matthew begins to learn the ropes and win the respect of his fellow officers and sailors. But he has other difficulties on the voyage north: a suspicion that the previous captain of the Jupiter was murdered, a feeling that many among his crew have something to hide, and the growing conviction that betrayal lies closer to home than he had thought. With cannon fire by sea and swordplay by land, Gentleman Captain is a rousing high-seas adventure in the finest nautical tradition.

The Mountain of Gold IIThe Mountain of Gold (The Journals of Matthew Quinton #2) by J.D. Davies

Paperback, 362 pages

Published August 18th 2016 by Endeavour Press (first published March 1st 2011)

1663, the Mediterranean Sea…

Captain Mathew Quinton, heir to Ravensden and his Dutch wife Cornelia tragically struggle to have children of their own. The Ravensden line is under increasing strain, as his older Brother, the tenth earl of Ravensden doesn’t have a son either.

The earl is forced into marrying the Countess Louise, and with vicious rumours circulating that she murdered her previous husbands, Captain Matthew is deeply concerned for his brother’s wellbeing.

What is the truth surrounding the beauty?

How can he stop the marriage before it is too late?

Whilst on-board his majesty’s ship The Wessex, Quinton captures a corsair pirate, who goes by the name of Omar Ibrahim of Oran right from under the nose of the ferocious Montnoir, a Maltese Knight.

Omar Ibrahim of Oran is a false identity for the notorious adventurer O’Dwyer who tells the King about ‘a mountain of gold’ to save himself from the noose.

Quinton is ordered by King Charles II to accompany the prisoner O’Dwyer to the mountain in Gambia and retrieve his riches.

The journey is anything but smooth, filled with terror, murder and betrayal…
and the question in everyone’s minds: ‘Does this mountain even exist?’

The Blast that Tears the SkiesThe Blast that Tears the Skies (The Journals of Matthew Quinton #3) by J.D. Davies

Paperback, 368 pages

Published May 15th 2012 by Old Street Publishing

  1. The land is at war and plague stalks London, but conspiracies against King Charles II are rife. Captain Matthew Quinton finds himself thrust unexpectedly into the midst of the deadliest of them when he is given command of a vast and ancient man-of-war.

Forced to contend with scheming ministers of state, a raw, rebellious crew and an alleged curse on his ship, Quinton sails against the might of the Dutch fleet. The shattering climax sees captain and crew fight for their lives at the heart of the Battle of Lowestoft, one of the greatest sea-fights in the entire age of sail, before Matthew returns home to face the disturbing truth about his own and his family’s past.

stay-calm-and-support-book-bloggers

Monday Bookish Happenings: The Love Of A Good Story

Good morning my fellow readers! How was your weekend? Did you get some reading time in or discover new books? I got about six hours of reading in but was hoping for more but not complaining. My daughter and I spent some nice time together and went to the movies yesterday. I haven’t been in months! It was nice. I am busy trying to catch on reviews I have to get through and last week I posted by first review in a while. You can check it out HERE. Be sure to take a look at the books I am currently reading. There are some great recommendations here. Reviews for these books will come soon. Enjoy your day and happy reading!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Moriarty Meets His MatchFor all you Sherlock fans, this book is for you! I am really enjoying the story thus far.

Moriarty Meets His Match (A Professor & Mrs. Moriarty Mystery #1) by Anna Castle

Professor James Moriarty has but one desire left in his shattered life: to prevent the man who ruined him from harming anyone else. Then he meets amber-eyed Angelina Gould and his world turns upside down.

At an exhibition of new inventions, an exploding steam engine kills a man. When Moriarty tries to figure out what happened, he comes up against Sherlock Holmes, sent to investigate by Moriarty’s old enemy. Holmes collects evidence that points at Moriarty, who realizes he must either solve the crime or swing it for it himself. He soon uncovers trouble among the board members of the engine company and its unscrupulous promoter. Moriarty tries to untangle those relationships, but everywhere he turns, he meets the alluring Angelina. She’s playing some game, but what’s her goal? And whose side is she on?

Between them, Holmes and Angelina push Moriarty to his limits — and beyond. He’ll have to lose himself to save his life and win the woman he loves.

Golden HillSo far this story has beautiful writing, lively and interesting characters and their interactions with each other are entertaining but there doesn’t seem to be much of a strong plot unless I’ve missed something. I hope. Not giving up on it because of the style of writing has me intrigued and I need to know how Mr. Smith acquired his fortune! Though I have my suspicions!

Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

New York, a small town on the tip of Manhattan island, 1746.

One rainy evening in November, a handsome young stranger fresh off the boat pitches up at a counting-house door in Golden Hill Street: this is Mr Smith, amiable, charming, yet strangely determined to keep suspicion simmering. For in his pocket, he has what seems to be an order for a thousand pounds, a huge amount, and he won’t explain why, or where he comes from, or what he can be planning to do in the colonies that requires so much money.

Should the New York merchants trust him? Should they risk their credit and refuse to pay? Should they befriend him, seduce him, arrest him; maybe even kill him?

As fast as a heist movie, as stuffed with incident as a whole shelf of conventional fiction, Golden Hill is both a novel about the 18th century, and itself a book cranked back to the novel’s 18th century beginnings, when anything could happen on the page, and usually did, and a hero was not a hero unless he ran the frequent risk of being hanged.

This is Fielding’s Tom Jones recast on Broadway – when Broadway was a tree-lined avenue two hundred yards long, with a fort at one end flying the Union Jack and a common at the other, grazed by cows.

Rich in language and historical perception, yet compulsively readable, Golden Hill has a plot that twists every chapter, and a puzzle at its heart that won’t let go till the last paragraph of the last page.

Set a generation before the American Revolution, it paints an irresistible picture of a New York provokingly different from its later self: but subtly shadowed by the great city to come, and already entirely a place where a young man with a fast tongue can invent himself afresh, fall in love – and find a world of trouble.

The Women in the CastleWhat I am listening too and the first half was good but it’s starting to be a bit cumbersome with all the names and trying to keep the story straight in my head. I should have gotten a printed book for this instead of an audio. But not giving up on it!

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding

Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resistor murdered in the failed July, 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.

First, Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naïve Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resistor’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war. As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.

Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.

Mask of Duplicity (The Jacobite Chronicles Book 1)What I want to read next. Though I normally avoid romance, this looks interesting and I wam willing to give it a try.

Mask of Duplicity (The Jacobite Chronicles #1) by Julia Brannan

Following the death of their father, Beth’s brother Richard returns from the army to claim his share of the family estate. However, Beth’s hopes of a quiet life are dashed when Richard, dissatisfied with his meagre inheritance and desperate for promotion, decides to force her into a marriage for his military gain. And he will stop at nothing to get his way.

Beth is coerced into a reconciliation with her noble cousins in order to marry well and escape her brutal brother. She is then thrown into the glittering social whirl of Georgian high society and struggles to conform. The effeminate but witty socialite Sir Anthony Peters offers to ease her passage into society and she is soon besieged by suitors eager to get their hands on her considerable dowry. Beth, however, wants love and passion for herself, and to break free from the artificial life she is growing to hate. She finds herself plunged into a world where nothing is as it seems and everyone hides behind a mask. Can she trust the people professing to care for her?

The first in the series about the fascinating lives of beautiful Beth Cunningham, her family and friends during the tempestuous days leading up to the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, which attempted to overthrow the Hanoverian King George II and restore the Stuarts to the British throne.

Join the rebellion of one woman and her fight for survival in…

The Jacobite Chronicles.

Book Review: Ruler of The Night by David Morrell

ruler-of-the-night1885. The railway has irrevocably altered English society, effectively changing geography and fueling the industrial revolution by shortening distances between cities: a whole day’s journey can now be covered in a matter of hours. People marvel at their new freedom.

But train travel brings new dangers as well, with England’s first death by train recorded on the very first day of railway operations in 1830. Twenty-five years later, England’s first train murder occurs, paralyzing London with the unthinkable when a gentleman is stabbed to death in a safely locked first-class passenger compartment.

In the next compartment, the brilliant opium-eater Thomas De Quincey and his quick-witted daughter, Emily, discover the homicide in a most gruesome manner. Key witnesses and also resourceful sleuths, they join forces with their allies in Scotland Yard, Detective Ryan and his partner-in-training, Becker, to pursue the killer back into the fogbound streets of London, where other baffling murders occur. Ultimately, De Quincey must confront two ruthless adversaries: this terrifying enemy, and his own opium addiction which endangers his life and his tormented soul.

**********

My Thoughts:

When I have presented Morrell’s De Quincey novels to various readers and friends-they had never heard of him. Thomas de Quincey was an English 19th century writer. At a young age he ran away from home and became addicted to opium. In the mid Victorian era in England, one was able to walk into a chemist’s shop and purchase the drug without a prescription from doctors. These types of dangerous drugs were used for making home remedies… de Quincey wrote a story called, Confessions of an Opium-Eater where Morrell draws a lot of his inspiration for his trilogy. Ruler of the Night is his third and final installment and is a fine ending to what is an outstanding Victorian mystery story.

The English Railroad during this era was a popular means of travel and the brutal murder that occurs on a train in the beginning of the story sets the tone for another intriguing mystery.

It was a true delight to read about Thomas de Quincey, his Daughter-Emily, Ryan and Becker-who are two detectives- and their dangerous adventures in finding a murderer. Their process of solving murder crimes is extraordinary and entertaining.

Morrell’s Opium-Eater (Thomas de Quincey trilogy) a Victorian mystery trilogy, is truly brilliant. Every historical detail is impeccable; you hang on to every word. His characters are unforgettable and he transports to you the Victorian London streets with vivid imagery, as if you were really there. Murder mysteries at its finest!

I have rated this story four stars and obtained a copy from the publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Manic Monday & Bookish Delights

me-iiThis weekend was fantastic. It’s not often I can just totally chill and do what I want and I can’t say that I felt foreboding that Monday was drawing near. Though the first day of the week tends to be manic, I was quite looking forward to it. Why? This weekend I was able to get lots of reading time in, drank lots of tea, watched a few shows on Netflix, and set up a couple of blog posts. Now I know that we have to get back to the work week, which leaves us very little time for reading. But, at least we can talk about the books we’ve been enjoying! There is that. *smiles*

This past Saturday, I was checking my emails and saw that I got approved for a review copy of, Ruler of the Night by David Morrell (book description below). “David Morrell is a Canadian novelist from Kitchener, Ontario, who has been living in the United States for a number of years. He is best known for his debut 1972 novel First Blood, which would later become a successful film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone. More recently, he has been writing the Captain America comic books limited-series The Chosen.” (bio from goodreads).

His Opium-Eater (Thomas De Quincey trilogy) a Victorian mystery trilogy, is truly brilliant. Every historical detail is impeccable; you hang on to every word. His characters are unforgettable and he transports to you the Victorian London streets with vivid imagery, as if you were really there. Murder mysteries at its finest!

The first book is, Murder as a Fine Art. The second, Inspector of the Dead. You can find these books on Amazon and goodreads. When the third, Ruler of the Night was announced, I was so very excited and wanted to get my hands on a review copy. Badly. Grateful I was able too! I am hoping to get to it this week. I highly recommend them.

Thank you for visiting Layered Pages today. It is always a treat to talk about bookish things with you all. Be sure to check out my interview with award winning author Lee Davis at indieBRAG. Today, I talk with him about his graphic designing and his process. I highly recommend you read the interview. It’s brilliant and insightful. You might learn something.

Oh, I almost forgot! A few of my fellow book bloggers and I are buddy reading, Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister-about the first female Pinkerton detective-and I discovered a show called The Pinkertons on Netflix! How cool is that?!

This week is going to be another great discussion in all things books and writers from my fellow bloggers and myself. On Friday, I will be sharing much about that. So stay tuned!

Cheers!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

ruler-of-the-night

The notorious Opium-Eater returns in the sensational climax to David Morrell’s acclaimed Victorian mystery trilogy.

1855. The railway has irrevocably altered English society, effectively changing geography and fueling the industrial revolution by shortening distances between cities: a whole day’s journey can now be covered in a matter of hours. People marvel at their new freedom.

But train travel brings new dangers as well, with England’s first death by train recorded on the very first day of railway operations in 1830. Twenty-five years later, England’s first train murder occurs, paralyzing London with the unthinkable when a gentleman is stabbed to death in a safely locked first-class passenger compartment.

In the next compartment, the brilliant opium-eater Thomas De Quincey and his quick-witted daughter, Emily, discover the homicide in a most gruesome manner. Key witnesses and also resourceful sleuths, they join forces with their allies in Scotland Yard, Detective Ryan and his partner-in-training, Becker, to pursue the killer back into the fogbound streets of London, where other baffling murders occur. Ultimately, De Quincey must confront two ruthless adversaries: this terrifying enemy, and his own opium addiction which endangers his life and his tormented soul.

“Ruler of the Night is a riveting blend of fact and fiction which, like master storyteller David Morrell’s previous De Quincey novels, “evokes Victorian London with such finesse that you’ll hear the hooves clattering on cobblestones, the racket of dustmen, and the shrill calls of vendors” (Entertainment Weekly).

stay-calm-and-support-book-bloggers

Cover Crush: The Worthington Wife by Sharon Page

Cover Crush banner

the-worthington-wifeLady Julia Hazelton is the most dazzling among 1920s England’s bright, young things. But rather than choosing the thrill of wanton adventure like so many of her contemporaries, Julia shocks society with her bold business aspirations. Determined to usher the cursed Worthington estate into a prosperous, modern new era, and thus preserve her beloved late fiancé’s legacy, the willful Julia tackles her wildest, most unexpected adventure in Cal Carstairs, the reluctant new Earl of Worthington.

The unconventional American artist threatens everything Julia seeks to protect while stirring desires she thought had died in the war. For reasons of his own, Cal has designed the ultimate revenge. Rather than see the estate prosper, he intends to destroy it. But their impulsive marriage—one that secures Julia’s plans as well as Cal’s secrets—proves that passion is ambition’s greatest rival. Unless Cal ends his quest to satisfy his darkest vendetta, he stands to ruin his Worthington wife and all her glittering dreams.

My thoughts on the cover and premise:

**********

I’ve said this before and I will say it again. I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of books and I must admit I first judge a book by its cover.

**********

As a rule of mine, I generally do not read romance novels. For various reasons I won’t get into here today. However, this cover and premise caught my eye. I know many people would ask why. There-I’m sure-are many similar romance stories like this one. Or maybe there is something that sets this book apart. When one opens a book, we can only hope that there is…

This story is also a period piece, so that draws me in some and the fact that I like the era. Another thing, I find reading about impulsive marriages interesting. I am always curious to the reasons why we rush into things and I am always on a lookout for something original to analyze. I know that sounds, “Geekish” but there you have it.

My moods about cover art vary at times, so today I like this cover and maybe I will think differently another day. The cover is appealing in the sense of time and place. The woman’s dress is stunning and I love the chair she is sitting on. As I look at the picture of the estate, I think, “I could live there!”

I am taking a serious chance with this book and adding it to my reading list. Let’s see if it draws out that passion, the unconventional American personality, a woman’s bold aspirations of that era and if she withstands Cal’s darkest vendetta.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Check out her latest here.

Other great book bloggers who cover crush: 

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation -Coming soon

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

stay-calm-and-support-book-bloggers

Book Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

i-see-you-ii

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .

I See You is an edge-of-your-seat, page-turning psychological thriller from one of the most exciting and successful British debut talents of 2015.

**********

Three sentences that grabbed me in the book description not mentioned above:

You do the same thing every day.

You know exactly where you’re going.

You’re not alone.

**********

My Thoughts:

How much privacy do you think we really have? With social media-it’s next to none. Imagine opening a newspaper and finding your picture shown big as a day on it with no explanation. There are no words to describe how one would feel. Or is there? Did Clare Mackintish accomplish that goal in, I See You?

I am absolutely fascinated with psychological thrillers. Why? I am curious about the human condition and what makes people tick. What motivates them to commit the acts they do. I do- however- think there is a fine line writers should not cross in this genre. Some things are too dark and disturbing for the average reader to venture to or for anyone for that matter. Clare Mackintosh is one of the few writers who can get into the mind of a psychopath or sociopath-if you will and stay in the boundaries just enough to not leave you feeling physically ill. She gives you the right amount of tension and chill factor to leave you totally creeped out. She has you thinking about just how much information do you put out there and what could happen. The ramifications in this story are mind-boggling and so intense!

I love how she has you thinking throughout the whole story-guessing-who is the perp. Who is the mastermind behind these unnerving and horrible acts? I was quite surprised the end but started to have my suspicions about a little over halfway through. I admired how she ended the story and I wanted more! I would also like to mention I was really intrigued with how the detectives handled the case and their process.

Be sure to check out I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh as well! Fabulous read.

I rated this book four and a half stars!

I received an ARC Copy from the publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

Book Publishing Information:
Berkley Publishing Group/Berkley/Mystery & Thrillers
Pub Date 04 Apr 2017

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Crush: The Girl From The Tea Garden by Janet MacLeod Trotter

the-girl-from-the-tea-gardenThe India Tea Series, Book 3

Pub Date 06 Dec 2016

In the dying days of the Raj, Anglo-Indian schoolgirl Adela Robson dreams of a glamorous career on the stage. When she sneaks away from school in the back of handsome Sam Jackman’s car, she knows a new life awaits—but it is not the one she imagined.

In Simla, the summer seat of the Raj government, Adela throws herself into all the dazzling entertainments 1930s Indian society can offer a beautiful debutante. But just as her ambitions seem on the cusp of becoming reality, she meets a charming but spoilt prince, setting in motion a devastating chain of events.

The outbreak of the Second World War finds Adela back in England—a country she cannot remember—without hope or love, and hiding a shameful secret. Only exceptional courage and endurance can pull her through these dark times and carry her back to the homeland of her heart.

Cover Crush banner

My Thought’s on the Title, Cover and premise:

I’ve said this before and I will say it again. I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of books and I must admit I first judge a book by its cover.

I am auto-approved to review this title so I decided to give it a go. I like the title of course but the cover is what first caught my attention.  The thought of a tea garden is so delightful to me. I love tea and I love gardens!

Now is it just me or does the girl in the cover look a little too old to be a schoolgirl? Or maybe she is in finishing school or whatever you want to call it. But who cares, it’s still a great cover.

The girl’s surrounding in the cover is beautiful. Do you notice the two airplanes in the right hand corner? A nice touch. Goes well with the premise.

I am really looking forward to seeing if this story lives up to the cover and premise!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary.

Other great book bloggers who cover crush: 

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court-coming soon

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation -Coming soon

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

stay-calm-and-support-book-bloggers