Reviewed: May 20th, 2023 Released: June 28th, 2018 Genre: Historical Fantasy Audiobook Narrated by Emma Powell
India Steele is desperate. Her father is dead, her fiancé took her inheritance, and no one will employ her, despite years working for her watchmaker father. Indeed, the other London watchmakers seem frightened of her. Alone, poor, and at the end of her tether, India takes employment with the only person who’ll accept her – an enigmatic and mysterious man from America. A man who possesses a strange watch that rejuvenates him when he’s ill.
Matthew Glass must find a particular watchmaker, but he won’t tell India why any old one won’t do. Nor will he tell her what he does back home, and how he can afford to stay in a house in one of London’s best streets. So when she reads about an American outlaw known as the Dark Rider arriving in England, she suspects Mr. Glass is the fugitive. When danger comes to their door, she’s certain of it. But if she notifies the authorities, she’ll find herself unemployed and homeless again – and she will have betrayed the man who saved her life.
Reviewed: May 16th, 2023 Released: January 29th, 2022 Genre: MM Historical Fantasy
Theodore Burnett has never been a hero. He prefers comfort to combat-spells, and jam-slathered scones to muddy boots. Fortunately, as the youngest-ever head librarian at the Royal College of Wizardry, Theo can spend his days with books and bibliomancy in place of battle-magic or politics — and in any case Napoleon’s been defeated and the war’s been won.
But now there’s a wounded captain of the Magicians’ Corps in Theo’s library. And he needs Theo’s help. And Theo can never resist a mystery, especially when that mystery’s tall and tempting and handsome.
Captain Henry Tourmaline, formerly of His Majesty’s Army and the Magicians’ Corps, requires assistance. He’s returned to London with scars on his body, soul, and heart — war, after all, will do that to anyone. But one of those scars refuses to heal, a curse that’s slowly draining Henry’s magic and eventually his life. The physicians have no answers, so Henry turns to the College’s books … and the College’s attractive head librarian. But the curse is unpredictable, and the last thing Henry wants is to drag someone else into the line of fire, particularly someone as kind and innocent and brilliant as Theo.
Theo wants to save Henry. Henry wants to keep Theo safe. Together, perhaps they can do both … while uncovering a perilous secret behind a spell, a deadly puzzle in the archives, and their own heart’s desires.
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is a strange child – not powerful and terrible, like her father, nor gorgeous and mercenary like her mother. Scorned and rejected, Circe grows up in the shadows, at home in neither the world of gods or mortals. But Circe has a dark power of her own: witchcraft. When her gift threatens the gods, she is banished to the island of Aiaia where she hones her occult craft, casting spells, gathering strange herbs and taming wild beasts. Yet a woman who stands alone will never be left in peace for long – and among her island’s guests is an unexpected visitor: the mortal Odysseus, for whom Circe will risk everything.
So Circe sets forth her tale, a vivid, mesmerizing epic of family rivalry, love and loss – the defiant, inextinguishable song of woman burning hot and bright through the darkness of a man’s world.
Reviewed: May 9th, 2023 Released: September 6th, 2022 Genre: Historical Fantasy Format: Audiobook narrated by Marian Hussey
A librarian with a mysterious past, a war hero with a secret, and the heist of a magic painting. THE LIBRARIAN OF CROOKED LANE is an intriguing new fantasy from C.J. Archer, the USA Today bestselling author of the Glass and Steele series.
Librarian Sylvia Ashe knows nothing about her past, having grown up without a father and a mother who refused to discuss him. When she stumbles upon a diary that suggests she’s descended from magicians, she’s skeptical. After all, magicians are special, and she’s just an ordinary girl who loves books. She seeks the truth from a member of the most prominent family of magicians, but she quickly learns that finding the truth won’t be easy, especially when he turns out to be as artless as her, and more compelling and dangerous than books.
War hero Gabe is gifted with wealth, a loving family, and an incredible amount of luck that saw him survive four harrowing years of a brutal war without injury. But not all injuries are visible. Burying himself in his work as a consultant for Scotland Yard, Gabe is going through the motions as he investigates the theft of a magician-made painting. But his life changes when he unwittingly gets Sylvia dismissed from her job and places her in danger.
After securing her new employment in a library housing the world’s greatest collection of books about magic, Gabe and Sylvia’s lives become intwined as they work together to find both the painting and the truth about Sylvia’s past before powerful people can stop them.
Reviewed: December 12th, 2022 Released: November 26th, 2019 Genre: Historical Fantasy
Ilsa Wlich, a striking, mysterious woman of indeterminate age and steeped in lore, ancient and new, arrives one fateful evening in beautiful, but remote and insular Reimersberg at the end of the Adventurer’s Road.
The town, deep in the mountains and wolf-inhabited forests in the Valley of the Witches, is seldom reached by outsiders and not particularly welcoming to them. Proud of their traditions, the people frown upon change and those who bring it.
Ilsa saves the life of a sick boy, Karl, but is suspicious of the cause of his sickness; a fact she keeps from the townsfolk for fear of causing panic. She earns the boy’s undying love, but also the enmity of some Town Elders, in particular the incompetent doctor and the mayor, Meister. Both feel as threatened by Ilsa as she feels wary of them.
Weary in mind and body from years of travelling, and still charmed by the town, Ilsa asks to settle in Reimersberg. Her presence there awakens a long-hidden darkness. She finds herself, together with Karl, treading paths far more mysterious, bloody and perilous than anything the Adventurer’s Road could conjure if they are to survive. Read my Thoughts…
Reviewed: May 27th, 2022 Released: May 27th, 2022 Genre: Historical Fiction
Cape May, New Jersey, 1916: Siblings Danny and Shannon Culligan are trapped under the thumb of their alcoholic father. Danny’s been in love with his childhood sweetheart, Jennie Martin- a wealthy cottager from Philadelphia- for as long as he can remember while her cousin, Hugh, is smitten with his sister.
As the foursome struggles to surmount the class differences between them, the nation is plunged into World War One, changing all of their lives forever. Danny is drafted into the Army and Hugh enlists in the Navy- defending the home front as a lieutenant at Cape May Section Base Number 9. While Jennie works tirelessly on the Liberty Loans campaign in Philadelphia, Shannon finds herself ensnared in a rum ring operation as the temperance movement ebbs closer to its goal of Prohibition.
A sweeping saga of betrayal, lies, and loss on all sides, Thicker Than Water, challenges readers in its exploration of the age-old question about where one’s loyalties lie. Read my thoughts…
Today I am chatting with historical fiction author, Laura Quinn, about her debut novel Thicker than Water, which is an investigation into family ties and a sweeping saga of betrayal, lies, and loss on all sides et against the abckdrop of the First World War.
Helen: Welcome Laura! First congratulations on writing a novel and now publishing it. Such an amazing feeling to publish your first book. Tell us a little about it.
Laura: Titanic meets Boardwalk Empire in this historical fiction set against the picturesque shore town of Cape May, NJ, at the onset of World War One. Siblings Danny and Shannon Culligan are trapped under the thumb of their alcoholic father. Danny’s been in love with his childhood sweetheart, Jennie Martin- a wealthy cottager from Philadelphia- for as long as he can remember while her cousin, Hugh, is smitten with his sister.
As the foursome struggles to surmount the class differences between them, the nation is plunged into the Great War, changing all of their lives forever. Danny is drafted into the Army and Hugh enlists in the Navy- defending the home front as a lieutenant at Cape May Section Base Number 9. While Jennie works tirelessly on the Liberty Loans campaign in Philadelphia, Shannon finds herself ensnared in a rum ring operation as the temperance movement ebbs closer to its goal of Prohibition. A sweeping saga of betrayal, lies, and loss on all sides, Thicker Than Water, marries the historically accurate world building of Ellen Marie Wiseman’s The Orphan Collector with the emotional resonance of Renee Rosen’s works.
Helen: I love writing Fantasy novels because I can make it all up, but you have written a historical novel about real places and real events. This must be so much more challenging. I have been really fortunate to read an early copy, and I loved it – (you can read my book review here) – Your attention to detail is phenomenal. How much research did you have to do for your book?
Laura: I spent two years in research and development before putting pen to paper. With regard to historical events in narrative, I tried to stay as close to source material as possible throughout. A NJ resident myself, making sure the details were accurate was a matter of utmost importance to me from the beginning. Writing about a pandemic while living through one was particularly difficult. My research and outline for TTW was completed prior to the COVID-19 lockdowns. There were times in the last two years where I strongly considered changing these chapters (or eliminating them completely from a reader-sensitivity standpoint). My only hope is that I did justice to those lives impacted in both outbreaks.
Helen: You have chosen quite a dramatic cover, with the monotone colours and the stormy seas. Is there a story behind how you came up with your cover?
Laura: The cover and paperback interior design were done by Elite Authors. As a debut author, I had many questions and the staff were wonderful to work with. I had some very clear ideas when it came to the cover, and shared samples of photography I’d found on iStock and Unsplash that I felt conveyed the tone of my novel. Without getting into spoilers, I can tell you that a crucial scene occurs in the midst of a nor’easter storm coming ashore. The event goes on to impact all four main characters in different ways, some of which are explored in Thicker Than Water, the others in the two sequels planned.
Helen: It’s great news that there is more to come! Let’s talk a little about how you write. Do you have a specific writing space where you like to work?
Laura: Oddly enough, at my dining room table. I like to spread out, so my “workspace” has plenty of room for me to lay out reference materials on one side of me and notes on the other. The room also has large windows and gets a lot of natural sunlight, so it’s a cozy environment. The back window faces my kids’ play area in our yard, so I can keep eyes and ears on them, too, from where I am. You can usually find our tabby, Tigger, snuggled somewhere close by.
Helen: Writing companions are the best! My cat Alfie is usually the same, curled up nearby. When not writing what do you like to do?
Laura: I enjoy many hobbies outside the bookish variety. Spending time with my family is my favorite, even if it’s just shuffling the kids to-and-from one of their activities. I love watching them perform, be it on the ballet stage or the soccer field. I also love gardening, and just planted my annuals for this season. We can learn so much from nature. It always inspires me.
Helen: Most writers are great readers, do you have a favourite book?
Laura:Little Women. I read a junior edition when I was in third grade for my first book report and fell in love with the story. My late grandmother gifted me a beautiful hardcover to commemorate the event. I’ve read it several times over and it holds an honored place on the coffee table in my living room.
Helen: How lovely! I love it when a book has a story to go woth it, evoking special memories. Thank you so much for spending time with me today. Good luck with your launch and congratulations again on the launch of your debut novel. Just to finish, do you have any advice for other aspiring authors?
Laura: Get it down. Whether handwritten in a notebook, typed up on a laptop, or texted from your phone when you can’t sleep. Tell your story. Be authentic and don’t hold back.
About the Author:
Laura Quinn currently resides in southern New Jersey with her husband, two children, and spoiled tabby cat. When not writing or consuming copious amounts of coffee, she enjoys hiking, the beach, and spending time with her family. Thicker Than Water is her debut novel, with two additional books planned to round out the Culligans’ saga.
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If you enjoy fantasybooks then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.
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Reviewed: December 4th, 2021 Released: December 26th, 2019 Genre: Historical Fantasy
Imagine you could erase grief. Imagine you could remove pain. Imagine you could hide the darkest, most horrifying secret. Forever.
Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a bookbinder–a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community, but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.
For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, the bookbinder Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to handcraft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one, they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under Seredith’s workshop, rows upon rows of books filled with memories are meticulously stored.
But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesmen, who use their talents for dark ends. And just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: there is a book with his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten.
An unforgettable novel of enchantment, mystery, memory, and forbidden love, The Binding is a beautiful homage to the allure and life-changing power of books–and a reminder to us all that knowledge can be its own kind of magic. Read My thoughts…
Reviewed: December 1st, 2021 Released: January 30th, 2020 Genre: Historical Fiction
If you love rich and complex historical stories then Full Circle is the book for you. Set in the 1700’s Daisy introduces us to a family with a tangled history, lots of mystery and powerful characters.
The year is 1786 and in the quiet countryside of Mere in Wiltshire sits ‘The Willows’. It has been the family’s home for three generations and Elizabeth Hamilton, the present owner; and her son, Stewart, lived alone until a cousin, Alexander, came when Stewart was 12.
For the last 21 years, the house has held a secret from the past which has been kept safely hidden even from Stewart. Only after Stewart marries are their lives turned into chaos, as it initiates a succession of vengeance against him and his family that lasts for over three years.
life changing, but it is how they reveal themselves that transforms the lives of many people irrevocably… Read My thoughts…
Reviewed: November 24th, 2021 Released: September 5th, 2018 Genre: Historical Fiction
A legend buried for 2000 years. A woman compelled to uncover the truth.
210 BCE, CHINA. The most powerful emperor China has ever known is on the brink of death. In desperation, he sends his most gifted alchemist and sorcerer on a quest for the mythical elixir of life.
His fleet never returned….
NOW, world-renowned archaeologist Georgia Lee is compelled to hunt for a mysterious man who may hold the secret to the greatest discovery in human history.
Her search takes her on a thrilling journey from an ancient tomb in China, through traditional Japan, to the blistering Australian outback, and the dizzying heights of verdant mountains in tropical Taiwan. But what begins as an investigation into an archaeological riddle turns into something very sinister. Georgia starts to suspect that perhaps she is the one being hunted instead….
Meticulously researched, this is a tale interwoven with rich historical facts to recreate all the drama, intrigue and mystery of East Asian culture. Read My thoughts…