Award Winning Deadly Engagement: A Georgian Historical Mystery by Lucinda Brant

me-iiStarting now through the summer I will be choosing and featuring books here from the indieBRAG Library that I am interesting in reading.  Not only will I feature them, I will talk about why I chose them as well. IndieBRAG’s mission is to discover talented self-published authors and help them give their work the attention and recognition it deserves. Their primary focus is fiction across a wide range of genres; however, they selectively consider non-fiction books.

Authors, if you feel your book can meet indieBRAG’s high standards, they encourage you to nominate it, but they cannot make any guarantees that it will pass either the initial screening or the subsequent review by their readers. On average, only 10-15% of the books they consider are awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion and are presented on their website and promoted on various social media sites. Conversely, they do not make public the titles of any books or the names of their authors that have been reviewed but were not selected to receive a B.R.A.G. Medallion.

This award is an honor indeed!

Deadly EngagementAward Winning B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

Deadly Engagement: A Georgian Historical Mystery by Lucinda Brant

Synopsis

Spring 1763. Career diplomat Alec Halsey returns to London to the shocking news his estranged brother, the Earl of Delvin, has not only killed his friend in a duel but is engaged to the woman Alec hoped to marry. The dead man’s mother wants Alec to investigate, so he reluctantly attends a weekend house party celebrating the engagement. Houseguests get more than they bargained for when a lady’s maid is murdered, the bride-to-be is attacked, and a guest is shot dead. Uncovering a connection between these sinister acts and his brother’s duel, Alec confronts a cruel twist of fate and why his brother will go to any lengths to ruin him in Polite Society.

Why I picked this book to add to my reading pile:

The 18th Century is a good era to write about. One of my favorites in fact. Actually I have so many favorite eras in history. I’m also partial to stories that take place in England and I do love a good mystery story! Author Lucinda Brant is an extremely talented writer and story-teller. It is an honor to have her as part of the indieBRAG family.

Lately on social media I have been really stressing the fact that I want to see more male protagonist roles. I’m also over the “often times” stereotypical characters that I am seeing in books. I am delighted when I come across a story that has what I am looking for. I am sure this book will meet my expectations and look forward to meeting Lucinda’s character, Alec Halsey!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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Our readers are the foundation of what makes indieBRAG unique. They not only select the books to become the next B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree but give feedback to our authors. This feedback is important not only to the authors but to the reader as well. Readers carry a lot of weight in what we regard as quality in self-publishing. If you love to read and have an ebook and would like to read for free, please submit your request to do so HERE

We would love to have you join the indieBRAG family.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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