book review · historical fiction · recommended · women's fiction

Book Review – A Guardian of Slaves

Description

Willow Hendricks is now the Lady of Livingston. She manages this plantation with her father and best friend Whitney Barry. The two women continue her parents’ secret abolitionist mission. They use the family’s ships and estates to transport escaped slaves along the channels to freedom. Willow’s love for Bowden Armstrong is as strong as ever, but she is not ready to marry and have a family because of her attention to these noble pursuits. Torn by her love for him, can their bond survive his reluctance to support her efforts with the Underground Railroad?

Meanwhile, whispers among the quarters sing praises of a mysterious man in the swamps helping slaves escape. He is called the Guardian. They believe he will save them from brutal slave catchers and deliver them to the promised land. Masked bandits roam the countryside, but the Guardian and the criminals evade capture. A series of accidents and mysterious disappearances raise alarm throughout the region. Who can Willow and Whitney trust? One false move or slip could endanger the lives of everyone they love and bring ruin to the Livingston Plantation.

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My Review

5/5 stars

After reading book one – A Slave of the Shadows – I couldn’t wait to get started on this second book in the series.

As expected, Naomi Finley delivers more of the same high quality historical fiction in a story that is filled to the brim with heart and hope. The pain and horrors that the characters have to endure is offset by this hope and the knowledge that the forces of good are doing their damnedest to right these  many, many wrongs.

Told from numerous viewpoints, the story will suck you in. Seeing the story develop from every angle is what gives it such depth and quality, added to which the author’s descriptive scene setting will make you feel you’re in the midst of everything. It’s truly an immersive read that kept me reading late into the night.

Since her father’s untimely death, Willow is now running the Livingston Plantation, and her desire to give all the slaves freedom has not waned. But with that not an option, she and her uncle (Ben) and best friend, Whitney continue to do whatever they can to help the slaves, particularly those being hunted. Of course, she has to keep up appearances, for to be caught aiding the slaves in any way would be a hanging offence. This double life, naturally, brings her face to face with all sorts of obstacles – some pleasantly surprise her, while others are horrendously shocking and life-changing.

There are mysteries galore in the story, particularly around the “Guardian” who is deemed the saviour of the slaves, and the “masked men” who are the complete opposite. A newcomer – in the form of Silas Anderton – brings drama and speculation to town, and his links to Willow’s past are horrifying and dangerous for her.

Yet, all this runs alongside several emotional storylines – some heartbreakingly sad (Mary Grace & Gray) and others heartwarmingly wonderful (Jimmy & Ruby).

The relationship between Willow and Bowden is on and off throughout until it really seems dead in the water. Willow and Ben grow closer as they reveal more secrets in her father’s journal. Of course, it goes without saying that Whitney and Willow are a tour de force, a formidable twosome, until the idea of marriage raises its head and challenges their bond. Mammy and Jimmy are two of the most beautiful souls you could ever care to meet, so full of love despite all that has befallen them. Indeed, every character plays a part in making this an epic tale of its time. It feels authentic in each and every detail (as I can neither verify nor deny how life was lived in those times, all I will say is that the story flows effortlessly and doesn’t shy away from the harsh horrors which makes for a well-rounded tale).

A third book is in the offing, but not planned until late 2020.

What will I do until then? 😦

I do know I’ll be waiting for it.

As always,

 

 

 

book review · historical fiction · recommended · women's fiction

Book Review – A Slave of the Shadows

In 1850 Charleston, South Carolina, brutality and cruelty simmer just under the genteel surface of Southern society. Beautiful and headstrong Willow Hendricks lives in an era where ladies are considered nothing more than property.
Her father rules her life, filling it with turmoil, secrets, and lies. She finds a kindred spirit in spunky, outspoken Whitney Barry, a northerner from Boston. Together these Charleston belles are driven to take control of their own lives as they are plunged into fear and chaos on their quest to fight for the rights of slaves. Against all odds, these feisty women fight to secure freedom and equality for those made powerless and persecuted by a supposedly superior race.
Only when they’ve lost it all do they find a new beginning.
Book 1 presents Willow and Whitney—and the reader—with the hardships the slaves endure at the hands of their white masters.

About the author

Naomi is an award-winning author living in Northern Alberta. She loves to travel and her suitcase is always on standby awaiting her next adventure. Naomi’s affinity for the Deep South and its history was cultivated during her childhood living in a Tennessee plantation house with six sisters. Her fascination with history and the resiliency of the human spirit to overcome obstacles are major inspirations for her writing and she is passionately devoted to creativity. In addition to writing fiction, her interests include interior design, cooking new recipes, and hosting dinner parties. Naomi is married to her high school sweetheart and she has two teenage children and two dogs named Egypt and Persia.

My Review

5/5 stars

I absolutely loved it. It has movie-like qualities that drew me into the period with dazzling detail, tension and emotion. Strong women throughout battle to control the descent into shame and degradation that afflicts the South as a result of slavery laws. This story is brutal in its depiction of that era, but with a thumping heartbeat that strives for change.

The story starts with a prologue that entices, and sets the tone for what follows. It totally captivated me and I had to see how those events connected with the main character of the book, Willow Hendricks.  Willow grew up without her mother, and was raised by Mammy together with Mammy’s daughter, Mary Grace. As such, her relationship with the slaves on her father’s plantation is based on love and a desire to see them freed. Convinced her father does not hold the same opinion, Willow cannot imagine running her father’s plantation one day, particularly not in the same manner.

Willow also rebels at the thought of not marrying for love, and when an arranged marriage is proposed, her reaction is fiery but also – happily so – effective. Her suitor-to-be, Kip, is just as affronted that she was unaware of the potential match, and insists it will not go ahead. So, while they may not ever be married, their form a strong and enduring friendship.

It’s clear that Willow is opinionated, and not just about her future, but also about the treatment of those she considers friends, not slaves. In particular, her relationship with James, the blacksmith on her father’s plantation, is sweet and heartwarming; she sometimes imagines him to be the father she herself wants, especially during those moments when she and her father are at loggerheads.

There is plenty of tension off the plantation too, primarily in the form of Bowden Armstrong. They seem so diametrically opposed, and their confrontations only fuel Willow’s fiery nature further. There are plenty of subplots running throughout, and the joining of the dots is beautifully done. Change is afoot, but there’s a link to the past that cannot be ignored. Willow faces several surprises and finds she has misjudged those closest to her.

Oh my, I cannot wait to read book two.

 

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As always,

book review · mystery · recommended · suspense · tense

Book Recommendation – Gone The Next

Gone The Next

by Ben Rehder

Meet Roy Ballard, freelance videographer with a knack for catching insurance cheats. He’s working a routine case, complete with hours of tedious surveillance, when he sees something that shakes him to the core. There, with the subject, is a little blond girl wearing a pink top and denim shorts—the same outfit worn by Tracy Turner, a six-year-old abducted the day before. When the police are skeptical of Ballard’s report—and with his history, who can blame them?—it’s the beginning of the most important case of his life.

Considering the subject matter, the topic is handled with great sensitivity. After learning that Roy has experience of losing a child, then it was very easy to root for him. Added to that he has the kind of sense of humour that you can’t help but like, and laugh along with.
It was a fun, fast suspense read that kept me turning the pages with an interesting choice of main character. I don’t think I’ve seen an insurance fraud investigator in the ‘detective’ role before. Of course, the rules for him are different to those of a PI, and Roy is not averse to using that to his advantage.
A great story, and one that makes me want to read more from this author.

Get your copy here: Amazon

As always,

book news · fantasy · on sale · paranormal · recommended · YA

It’s deal time

An author friend of mine, A L Wright, has a special offer to share, but be warned – it’s time-sensitive, so you’ll need to act quickly. It’s on sale at only 99 cents for two days only – Today, April 12th &  tomorrow, 13th.

Hartman House

Imagine a house that is a safe haven from witch hunters and werewolf or vampire slayers. Where any mystical being could live, safe from the threat of the outside world. The Hartman family were themselves witches and had always tried their best to protect their own, and to protect other magical beings as well. To do so they built a large mansion on the edge of New Orleans and spelled it to conceal any magic.

The spell on the house also kept the wolves from needing to turn on full moons. And kept the vampires from needing to feed on human blood. With such powerful allies living among them, they could create search and rescue teams to help bring in those who were being hunted.

And with so many successful rescues in recent times, the leaders of Hartman House needed to find the secret to the spell over the house. The same spell whose secret had died with the last of the Hartman’s fifteen years earlier.

After losing her only friend, young witch Rodelle is rescued and taken to Hartman House:a safe haven for all supernatural beings.

The Hartman family was famous for their wizardry, always trying to protect their own – and other magical beings as well. A place where mystical beings live, the House is protected by powerful magic.

After Rodelle meets the handsome vampire, Dreven, she is immediately and inexplicably drawn to him. But it soon turns out that they have a history – and that danger is lurking right around the corner, ready to claim them both.

With both powerful allies and enemies at play, can Rodelle and Dreven discover the secrets of their past?

To get your copy, follow this link to Amazon on the specified days. You won’t regret it. Here’s what reviewers have said already:

  • In this paranormal romance there’s no time to stop. It’s a fast, gripping, story – that has it’s fun side too.
  • It opened with a breath-catching chase scene and moved quickly into something I couldn’t put down.
  • The story presented a different take on the usual fantasy creatures  – very imaginative and exciting!

If you do grab a copy – and at this amazing price, why wouldn’t you? – please consider leaving a review after reading. Reviews keep authors writing!

 

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

books · Contemporary Romance · cosy · historical fiction · murder mystery · mystery · recommended · serial killer · thrillers

My Best Books Calendar 2017

It’s been a wonderful year for book-lovers like me, so I thought a post about my favourite reads for 2017 would be appropriate. I had a real struggle getting this down to just twelve – still, that’s because I wanted a calendar style, so I have only myself to blame for the self-imposed limits. Doh! I’ll get on with, shall I?

It’s an eclectic mix from cosy mystery to serial killers, romantic comedy to historical fiction, legal and medical thrillers to contemporary women’s fiction. But, variety is the spice of life 🙂

Links to the books are below, and I’ll vouch for every single one of them. Not that I’m alone though, many of these have dozens – if not hundreds – of five star reviews, so if you choose any, you’ll be sure of a great story.

January – Winters Day – DM Wolfenden

February – Finding Miranda – Iris Chacon

March – The Seven Year Dress – Paulette Mahurin

April – The Devil’s Prayer – Luke Gracias

May – The Girl from Berlin – Ellie Midwood

June – Forbidden Colours – Nicole Fitton

July – The Wind in the Embers – Malcolm Logan

August – A Patriot’s Act – Kenneth Meade

September – Mirror, Mirror – Jessica Jesinghaus

October – Murder by the Book – Brigitta Moon

November – Plus Size Goddess – Cathy McGough

December – In the Best Interest of the Child – Felicia Denise.

So, feel free to go and fill your Kindle, your Nook or even your bookshelves.

As for me, I’m currently reading The Green Pearl Caper by Phyllis Entis, before settling down with a boxset of the 12 Slays of Christmas featuring Amy M. Reade – as you can see, my reading year is not yet over 🙂

The great news is that there are so many more fabulous reads to come.

Happy Reading everyone!

By the way, if you choose to read any of these wonderful books, please consider leaving a review.

Reviews keep writers writing.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Happy New Book Year x

book review · recommended · women's fiction

Book Review – Women’s Fiction

The Foreign Language of Friends

by Nadine Galinsky Feldman

Having been a foreign language teacher, naturally I was drawn to the title instantly. It’s not often that a title really resonates with my own life experiences, but in this case, after reading the book’s description (and the class being a Spanish one too), it was an obvious addition to my book shelf.

When four women meet in a foreign language class, their different backgrounds and experiences cause instant clashes! There’s Julia, vivacious and fun, who longs for something more than the country club, jet-setting lifestyle that she leads. Claire, a company attorney in a male-dominated field, intimidates everyone around her. Shy Ellen is trying to have a personal life while caring for her ailing parents. Mickey, a young newlywed, wants to get out from under the shadow of her domineering parents. As these women face various life traumas, they must learn to lean on each other. Ultimately, the foreign language they must learn is: friendship.

For me, this was a story for and about every woman. Four women, each at a different stage in their lives, join a foreign language class. Their reasons for doing so are as diverse as their backgrounds. Claire is clear about her needs; it all boils down to her career. Ellen struggles with the thought that, like her parents, she may face a future with Alzheimer’s and believes learning a language will keep her brain active and stave off the disease. Julia appears to have everything in life, but there is a void. Is learning Spanish the answer? She doesn’t know, but then again, she’s not even sure what is wrong with her life. Finally, Mickey, the youngest of the group, takes the class almost as an act of rebellion. She wants to make her own decisions for a change and break free from the pressures imposed on her by her new husband and preacher parents.

None of the women would ever have imagined how their coming together would affect their lives; especially given their initial awkwardness with each other, not to mention their contrasting attitudes and behaviours.

As life throws challenges their way, the language class becomes a safe haven, a place to try to forget their problems and work towards new beginnings. However, it is during their study group meetings that their personal issues come to the forefront. It is here too that they learn to open up and share their troubles with each other. What they don’t expect is that they would come to value the comfort and support they receive.  Bonds grow stronger and friendships blossom, these are ties that will last a lifetime.

Every reader will see some of themselves in these characters. They are real women with stories that readers can relate to. I am happy to give this a full 5 stars – not just because it’s a well-written story, but because it comes across as thought-provoking and heartfelt, honest and believable. This is fiction with oodles of credibility.

 

 

books · reading · recommended

I asked: You answered

I have a feeling my reading slump is over. 

After asking for your recommendations, I’m excited to hide my nose in a good book again. I’ve even ordered real books – the ones with paper and everything!!

While I love my Kindle, maybe my reading practice was just getting too regimental. Having a physical book will – hopefully – rekindle (pun intended) my love for reading.

And, I’ll be asking for more recommendations from you all again.

These little darlings are winging there way to me right now – some as ebooks but a couple by post:

Thank you to all who replied with a recommendation.

 

books · reading · recommended

In a reading funk: please help

If I don’t have a book at my side, then you can be sure I’m not well.

This month I surpassed my reading goal for the year. Yay, go me! (okay, so I probably underestimated how many books I’d read – 60 seemed like a good starting point at first)

But as the month went on, I struggled to enjoy—and sometimes, even finish—books that I’d been looking forward to reading.
Don’t ask me why? Had I burned out? Possibly. Maybe my reading matter had simply become repetitive; always the same types of story.
Had I become a formulaic reader? Eek, now there’s a thought—a scary one at that.


Maybe I need to explore new genres, or return to some old favourites.

Whatever happens, I can’t let this go on.
I’m going to ask my writing buddies to help out.

So, I’m asking for recommendations—any genre except horror or romance or paranormal.
Message me on Facebook, send me a tweet (the links are on the sidebar) or leave a comment here.

I’ll be forever in your debt if you can help me out of this big, black hole.

Thank you

Author · books · free on Amazon · recommended

Recommended Author: Michael Ross

I’ve just beta read a book for this author – Michael Ross – and without wishing to sing his praises too much, I feel compelled to let you all enjoy his offerings as much as I did.

Whilst the book I beta read is not yet out, he does have a couple of other books that will no doubt interest you.

A Face Not Seen

Martin Russell spends his last coins on a bus ride out of the city with barely enough motivation to face the future. Then a chance incident near his home triggers a sequence of positive opportunities for him. His life, unexpectedly, could not be better.

That is, until the phone call informing him his friend Hannah has disappeared, and people’s lives will now change forever.
a face
And who can be trusted? Certainly not the obsessive Nash nor the slimy underworld figure they call The Chemist.

How about John Staples, better known as Pin-up? Is his renewed friendship with Martin genuine or suspicious?

What is going on with Zachary and Bobby? One is a schoolboy drug dealer, the other is a disgraced ex-copper. What could they possibly have in common?

Why are their intertwined stories entitled A Face Not Seen? For the answer to that question, you would have to ask Xenon. But that is a problem, because no-one in their right mind ever questions Xenon…

Or if short stories are more your thing, then take a look at

Twenty Short Stories

What does it feel like20 stories to take another person’s life?

Will the good deeds we do come back to us in different forms?

Should we always trust our instincts?

Is it ever too late to turn back?

These are of some of the questions posed in this imaginative collection of short stories involving amongst others; a public executioner, a super hero who’s half man-half wolf, a failed celebrity writer, a disillusioned taxi driver, a father and daughter facing the end of the world, an ugly journalist, and a policeman seeking justice.
Just some of the characters in this intriguing and imaginative collection of stories where all the characters have a tale to tell. A collection that will surely leave a mark on the reader.

These are available on Amazon this weekend (from Thursday/ Friday onwards)  – FREE!

So, what have you got to lose?

 

Have a great weekend!