Thursday, 28 September 2023

Look who is in the Spotlight - The King’s Command: For God or Country by Rosemary Hayes

The King’s Command: For God or Country
By Rosemary Hayes

Publication Date: July 3rd, 2023
Publisher: Sharpe Books
Page Length: 415 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

16 year old Lidie Brunier has everything; looks, wealth, health and a charming suitor but there are dark clouds on the horizon. Lidie  and her family are committed Huguenots and Louis XIV has sworn to stamp out this ‘false religion’ and make France a wholly Catholic country. Gradually Lidie’s comfortable life starts to disintegrate as Huguenots are stripped of all rights and the King sends his brutal soldiers into their homes to force them to become Catholics. Others around her break under pressure but Lidie and her family refuse to convert. With spies everywhere and the ever present threat of violence, they struggle on. Then a shocking betrayal forces Lidie’s hand and her only option is to try and flee the country. A decision that brings unimaginable hardship, terror and tragedy and changes her life for ever.


‘One of the very best historical novels I have ever read’
Sandra Robinson, Huguenot Ancestry Expert

This novel is FREE to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription.

Rosemary Hayes

Rosemary Hayes has written over fifty books for children and young adults. She writes  in different genres, from edgy teenage fiction (The Mark), historical fiction (The Blue Eyed Aborigine and Forgotten Footprints), middle grade fantasy (Loose Connections, The Stonekeeper’s Child and Break Out)  to chapter books for early readers and texts for picture books. Many of her books have won or been shortlisted for awards and several have been translated into different languages.

Rosemary has travelled widely but now lives in South Cambridgeshire. She has a background in publishing, having worked for Cambridge University Press before setting up her own company Anglia Young Books which she ran for some years. She has been a reader for a well-known authors’ advisory service and runs creative writing workshops for both children and adults.

Rosemary has recently turned her hand to adult fiction and her historical novel ‘The King’s Command’ is about the terror and tragedy suffered by the French Huguenots during the reign of Louis XIV.

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Monday, 25 September 2023

Look who is in the Spotlight - Dancing in the Ring by Susan E. Sage


Dancing in the Ring
By Susan E. Sage

Publication Date: 22nd June  2023
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Page Length: 350 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction / Historical Romance

Detroit in the 1920s proved to be the Paris of the West for many – including Catherine McIntosh and Robert Sage. These two law school students become as passionate about each other as they are their dreams.

From a poor family in the Detroit neighborhood of Corktown, Catherine learned early on, the necessity of being resilient. She becomes one of the first women in Detroit to obtain a law degree. Bob, the ‘battling barrister,’ boxes in order to pay for law school. Despite his gruff and tough-boy personality, my great uncle Bob was a friend to all:  judges, cops, and even a couple members of the notorious Purple Gang. The couple becomes legendary in legal circles for their commitment to social justice causes – as well as notorious in the local speakeasies and dancehalls.

At first, their optimism seems boundless, as it had for so many following an era of trauma and challenges that include the 1918 flu pandemic. It isn’t long before their passionate courtship turns into a tempestuous marriage. Then the Great Depression hits and their lives are forever changed. 

Read for FREE with #KindleUnlimited subscription.

Susan Sage

Susan Sage has published three novels: Insominy (2015), A Mentor and Her Muse (2017), and Dancing in the Ring (2023). Her writing has appeared in various literary magazines and journals. She received her English degree from Wayne State University where she was a recipient of the Tompkins Award in creative writing. 

Although a Detroit native, she has resided most of her adult life in Flushing, Michigan with her husband and two cats.  

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Wednesday, 20 September 2023

Book Review – (UN)Bury Your Gays: and Other Queer Tales by Clinton W. Waters

(UN)Bury Your Gays: and Other Queer Tales
By Clinton W. Waters

A new collection of short stories, compiling the novella (Un)Bury Your Gays and six other pieces of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror fiction. Reanimated best friends, monsters beneath the kitchen sink, desires made manifest, creek creatures, 80s cyberpunk, ghosts, and crashed alien ships all find homes between the pages of this anthology.

(UN)Bury Your Gays:

It's the late 2000's. Humphrey West and his best friend Danny are just trying to survive their senior year. Unfortunately, Danny falls short of that goal after a risky rendezvous. But Humphrey has just the thing: a concoction borne of magic and science that is able to bring the dead back to life (at least it's worked on a bee so far). Against all odds, Danny comes back from the clutches of death.

The Danny that returns is...different. And it's not just the missing memories. Soon, Humphrey is doing everything in his power to keep his friend alive, but none the wiser to what is happening.

A queering of the Lovecraft classic "Herbert West - Reanimator", (UN)Bury Your Gays is about blurring the boundaries between life and death, love and obsession, and secrets and lies.

Grab a copy HERE!

This book is, in itself, a collection of a few different stories. Let us have a look at each in detail, for to think about the book as a whole, we must first look at each story that makes up a component of the completed book.

(UN)Bury Your Gays

There is a difference between surviving your senior year at high school and being brought back to life during your senior year. Namely in the second one, you clearly didn’t survive the year. Humphrey has been obsessed with finding the answer to the colony collapse bees are suffering from, but when his best friend, Danny, is killed, Humphrey must turn his immediate attention away from the bees, and use his research to reanimate his friend.

The Danny that comes back, however, is not the Danny that died. He now doesn’t look well and doesn’t act right. Humphrey must figure out how to keep his friend alive, while also trying to get his old friend back. Once I started reading this book, I was immediately drawn in and couldn’t stop reading. This story is utterly captivating, I found it next to impossible to put it down and walk away. The mystery as to what Danny has become is more than enough to keep you reading. I also loved that, while the two were both gay, there was no romantic relationship between Humphrey and Danny. This is not a horror story with a romantic sub-genre, it is simply who the characters are. The story does not push them towards each other but simply lets them exist as two individuals who are very good friends. The book itself is well crafted, there are small hints throughout the book revealing what effect Humphrey’s actions have had on everything around him, making the story incredibly realistic in the telling.

You & Me and the Devil Makes Three

Alan Jr has started to grow concerned about his mother. She seems to spend a lot of the time in the kitchen and often talking to… something. She isn’t mumbling to herself, she is definitely having a conversation with someone. But there is no one there. When Alan starts investigating, though, things start to go rapidly downhill. This is a very short story, easily readable in under 20 minutes, but it is not lacking in anything. It is an incredibly creepy story, one that can, and will, easily send chills down your spine.

The Wanting

A man would rarely have made it so far in life without getting their Wanting, but so far, Walter has avoided it. But, it seems to have finally reached him, and he might not be able to hold it off any longer. This story is a little more on the slightly strange side, and definitely more on the sexual side of things. This story is not my usual kind of read, and while I wasn’t too much of a fan of the sexual storyline, it is very original, I don’t think I have come across anything like it before, and, like the rest of this book, it is very well written.


The wisdom of a grandmother is not always accepted at first, even though everyone knows she is probably right, and should be listened to. Although there was a warning not to go down to the crick, what better way to escape the stifling heat of the summer than with a nice, cool, swim? Of course, making sure to keep an eye out for snakes… This story is fast-paced and keeps you reading with everything happening quite quickly. It doesn’t have time for suspense, it is simply action-packed from beginning to end. It is undoubtedly an exciting read, and another excellent addition to this book. 


Nessie has just started a new job, one that comes with a large paycheck, but a few things are a little on the strange side. To start the job, Nessie had to have surgery, to implant ports into her brain, and so when she arrives for her first day, she is not entirely sure what to expect. The strangeness of the job, as well as the uncertainness as to what she has let herself in for builds to suspense and concern, keeping you reading to find out what will happen to Nessie. I think this was one of my favourite stories in the book. It has just the right level of unease and intrigue to make you want the story to keep going on and on. I would love an extended version of this story, as I think it has so much to offer.

Double Exposure

Seeing Kyle in the prom pictures was a shock, especially since he had been dead for nearly a year. Yet, here he was, posing for the picture, and digging up feelings that had never truly gone away. The pain of losing one you love so much, mixed with the morbid curiosity of trying to find out if that loved one is still lingering in the land of the living, makes this story a very emotional one. There are some darker emotional levels to this story, which have been handled by the author with care, and I truly felt for the main character as I read about their despair.

Out There

The human race has always wondered about aliens, whether they are out there or not, and what they might be like. So when proof arrives, the world comes together to try and find out as much as they possibly could. But what they find isn’t necessarily what they want to find. This story shows that, sometimes, what we don’t know can’t hurt us. I loved the whole premise of this story, and think that this one would also make a wonderful full-length novel. 

There are plenty of absolutely amazing stories within this book, and with so many different themes, there is something for everyone. The first story is much longer than the others, and is certainly the main attraction for the book, but the stories that come with it are a wonderful addition, and with them all quick enough to read during a short break, they make the book perfect to put down and come back to when you have a few minutes. The author has clearly explored several threads of creativity and genres within this book, and has been successful in the creation of a book full of wonderful stories.

If you like a good supernatural suspense story, a bit of gore, a touch of space-travel, and a little bit of the weird and wacky, you are bound to love this collection of stories! 

Born and raised in Bowling Green, KY, Clinton W. Waters holds a degree in Creative Writing from W.K.U. Their work has been featured in university publications from W.K.U. and the University of Regensburg. They are the lead writer/co-founder of Sundog Comics and their webcomic Variants.

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Tuesday, 19 September 2023

Check out The Husband Criteria by Catherine Kullmann

The Husband Criteria
By Catherine Kullmann

Publication Date: 24th August 2023
Publisher: Willow Books
Page Length: 297 Pages
Genre: Historical Romance / Regency Romance

London 1817

The primary aim of every young lady embarking on the Spring frenzy that is the Season must be to make a good match. Or must it? And what is a good match? For cousins Cynthia, Chloe and Ann, well aware that the society preux chevalier may prove to be a domestic tyrant, these are vital questions. How can they discover their suitors’ true character when all their encounters must be confined to the highly ritualised round of balls, parties and drives in the park?

As they define and refine their Husband Criteria, Cynthia finds herself unwillingly attracted to aloof Rafe Marfield, heir to an earldom, while Chloe is pleased to find that Thomas Musgrave, the vicar’s son from home, is also in London. And Ann must decide what is more important to her, music or marriage.

And what of the gentlemen who consider the marriage mart to be their hunting grounds? How will they react if they realise how rigorously they are being assessed?

A light-hearted, entertaining look behind the scenes of a Season that takes a different course with unexpected consequences for all concerned.

Catherine Kullmann 

Catherine Kullmann was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for twenty-five years before returning to Ireland. She has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector. Widowed, she has three adult sons and two grandchildren.

Catherine has always been interested in the extended Regency period, a time when the foundations of our modern world were laid. She loves writing and is particularly interested in what happens after the first happy end—how life goes on for the protagonists and sometimes catches up with them. Her books are set against a background of the offstage, Napoleonic wars and consider in particular the situation of women trapped in a patriarchal society.

She is the author of The Murmur of Masks, Perception & Illusion, A Suggestion of Scandal, The Duke’s Regret, The Potential for Love, A Comfortable Alliance and Lady Loring’s Dilemma. 

Catherine also blogs about historical facts and trivia related to this era. You can find out more about her books and read her blog (My Scrap Album) at her website. You can contact her via her Facebook page or on Twitter.

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Monday, 18 September 2023

Look who is in the Spotlight - The London Forgery (A Fabiola Bennett Mystery) by Heidi Eljarbo

The London Forgery
(A Fabiola Bennett Mystery)
By Heidi Eljarbo

Publication Date: 29th August 2023
Publisher: Self-Published
Page Length: 252 Pages
Genre: Historical Mystery / Dual Timeline Historical Fiction


Art historian Fabiola Bennett sees herself as a prudently observant deer who becomes a daring and even mischievous lioness if the situation calls for it. And that’s exactly what’s required when greedy criminals steal, forge, and tamper with treasured artwork. When the crooks add murder to their list of crimes, the chaos is complete.
A mysterious note is delivered anonymously at the door of the National Gallery in London, and the director immediately calls Fabiola’s office in Oslo and pleads with her to come without delay. The message is confusing, but it seems one of her favorite eighteenth-century portraits is in trouble.

Fabiola hops on the first plane and meets up with her vibrant side-kick Pippa Yates and the ever-loyal Detective Inspector Cary Green from New Scotland Yard. But she is not naïve enough to think untangling the purpose and meaning of the mysterious note will be as simple as a walk in Hyde Park. These things never are.


Newly married Robert and Frances Andrews, members of the landed gentry of Suffolk, England, hire young and talented Thomas Gainsborough to paint their wedding portrait. Their desire is a lovely conversation piece showing their wealth and class, an artwork to remember them by for generations to come.

Little do they know the gifted artist portrays their personalities exactly how he perceives them, and the artistic symbolism is not as flattering as they’d hoped for. Even the looming clouds in the distance promise a troublesome future.

This is the first book in a new dual timeline series by Heidi Eljarbo—an intriguing spin-off from the much-loved Soli Hansen Mysteries.

Heidi Eljarbo

Heidi Eljarbo is the bestselling author of historical fiction and mysteries filled with courageous and good characters that are easy to love and others you don't want to go near.
Heidi grew up in a home filled with books and artwork and she never truly imagined she would do anything other than write and paint. She studied art, languages, and history, all of which have come in handy when working as an author, magazine journalist, and painter. 
After living in Canada, six US states, Japan, Switzerland, and Austria, Heidi now calls Norway home. She and her husband have fifteen grandchildren—so far—in addition to a bouncy Wheaten Terrier.
Their favorite retreat is a mountain cabin, where they hike in the summertime and ski the vast, white terrain during winter.
Heidi’s favorites are family, God's beautiful nature, and the word whimsical.

Connect with Heidi: 
Website • Twitter •  Facebook • Instagram • Pinterest  • BookBub • Amazon Author Page • Goodreads 

Tuesday, 13 June 2023

Book Review – Light in the Shadows by Georgia C. Leigh

Light in the Shadows
By Georgia C. Leigh

Sheltered from the world since birth, eighteen-year-old Haven arrives at the Academy eager to learn what it means to be seraphim. Her excitement quickly fades as she struggles to master her gifts, to befriend and trust others, and above all, to understand herself.

But when she discovers an ancient magic within, she loses the glimpse of friendship she longs for and is thrown back into isolation. Her magic unknowingly awakens a dark shadow in her world and catalyzes those who seek to control her, to bind her and use her for her power. And if she can’t be bound, they will ensure she is dead.

Ryker, a world walker and a demon hunter, is the only one powerful enough to contain her magic and knows what it is like to be wanted for someone else’s gains. Ryker’s brutal methods may give her the chance to understand her gift and control it, but they are running out of time. Haven must fight for a life she desperately wants, one where she can follow her own path, and her heart. And, maybe, finally find love before her life is chosen for her.

Amazon UK • Amazon US

Haven is excited to finally arrive at the Academy and learn the ins and outs of being a seraphim. But she has spent her whole life hidden away, and the world of socialising and getting to know others isn’t something she is overly familiar with. As Haven finds herself thrown into an entirely new world, it is not just learning to control her gifts that she must focus on, but also figuring out who to trust. 

Ryker is an incredibly powerful seraphim, with a unique gift. When an ancient magic is discovered within Haven, Ryker finds himself working with her to try and gain her control over them before they are used to control her. Many people would use her for the powers she holds, and Ryker has little time to try and teach her. 

Haven is an incredibly strong character, although she is not without her limits. She struggles a lot in this book, as she makes friends, but pushes them away when things get hard, even though she really needs them. Haven is not used to relying on others to help her, but rather withdraws into herself when she doesn’t know how to keep going. I absolutely loved reading about Haven, and watching her grow as a person. Nearer the start of the book, she is incredibly naive, although she has never had proper friends, so she is unlearned in the workings of other people. She does gain an understanding of the world as she spends more time at the Academy, and I found myself liking her more the further into the book I read.

I found the Academy itself rather interesting. It reminded me a little of the training in the Divergent series, as all the young adults work to grow their physical and mental skills, but with a fantasy twist on it, with wings, and magical powers. There are plenty of people who work outside of the Academy who come in to teach their own specialised skills, and these people are mainly the ones who change Haven’s life. In particular, Ryker and his twin brother, River. I could go on and on about how much I hate River, although I feel I would begin to spoil the story, so I don’t want to get onto the topic of him. Ryker, however, is absolutely lovely. He finds himself doing things he doesn’t want to do for Haven’s benefit, and puts himself through things that affect him, just to ensure she is safe. Their training together is not always pleasant to read about, but just knowing the sacrifices he makes for her, when he doesn’t even know her, is proof that he is a fabulous person, and a wonderful character to read about. 

This book did take a while to get started. There is little explanation about the world itself, and I found it difficult to figure out what was happening, and why. There are also a lot of characters to keep up with, and the relationships are a little tricky to figure out at first, when you don’t know what’s going on with the setting. I do wish there was a little more explanation about the setting, for I think it would help the reader understand what was happening immediately, although if you stick with it, things slowly sort themselves out, and it gets easier to follow all the individual characters as their paths intertwine.

I wasn’t aware, going into this, quite how long the book itself was. Only when I came to write this review did I realise that this book is 546 pages long, and is book 1 of 4 in the series. There is not necessarily a lot of romance in this book, but it follows Haven’s time at the Academy in great detail, clearly building up necessary relationships and information for books yet to come. It did take me quite a while to read this book, which I was not expecting, but I did enjoy how in-depth the book is. There are plenty of books, I will use the example of Divergent again, where there are time skips, and I wished to follow the characters thorough their entire journey. This book allowed me to do that, and I felt I connected to Haven more by following her so closely.

Fantasy itself is a very broad genre, but if you are a fan of fantasy that follows young adults in a school, that includes learning to control dangerous magical abilities, and has a few steamy moments here and there, this is certainly the book for you! I can’t wait to continue reading this series. Book two can’t come soon enough!

Georgia C Leigh lives in California with her husband, two grown children, her cat and two horses. When not working, Georgia is an avid competitive equestrian. The Shadows and Light series are Georgia's first published books.

Book 1, Light in the Shadows, and book 2, Light Lost, will be followed by book 3, Shadow Rising, in early 2024.

Friday, 2 June 2023

Book Review – The Daddy Chronicles by Jayne Martin

The Daddy Chronicles
By Jayne Martin

One out of three women in the U.S. identify as fatherless. An absent father who occasionally appears to bestow his affections only to disappear again leads a daughter to seek out others like him – men who are charismatic, but emotionally unavailable – throughout her lifetime.

In this emotionally-charged memoir written in cinematic vignettes, Jayne Martin fearlessly bares the parts of her that were broken when her father left the family upon her birth and, in doing so, leads readers on their own journey toward wholeness and healing. Whether you are a fatherless daughter or someone who loves one, The Daddy Chronicles will tear at your heart and open a world of understanding.

Grab a copy HERE!

Delving deep into her own memories, and exploring the ins and outs of her childhood, and the emotional trauma she grew up with, Jayne Martin invites you to learn her story, to join her and to relate your life to her own. 

I find writing a review for such a deep book, wherein Jayne opens up her mind and allows you to step inside and have a look around, difficult. To give this book the credit it deserves, I find it tricky to review it as I would review any other book. Talking about fictional characters, and discussing their traumas is almost easy, but delving into words that speak of the past, that follow a real person – I find myself conflicted as to whether to go into things in quite so much detail. 

I will start by saying, this is not the kind of book I would normally read. I am not generally a fan of memoirs, although I have never been entirely sure why. It is, perhaps, the way they are laid out, following a life from start to a finishing point, and the writing style of memoirs is always so much different than the writing style of fiction novels. This book, however, was different. Jayne has a truly unique writing style. The voice she uses to write in changes as she writes about herself at different ages, not going into subjects and reasons her younger self wouldn’t have understood, while making such things painfully clear to the reader. The layout and short chapters almost reminds me of a poetry book, which in itself is a very smart stylistic choice. When I think of reading poetry, I think of digging deeper, trying to find a meaning behind everything, and with this book, Jayne reminds that there isn’t always a meaning, there isn’t always a reason – sometimes, even though you feel otherwise, there isn’t anything that you could’ve done to change the outcome. I also particularly loved the way Jayne shows her attachment to different people by whether or not she reveals their names. While her childhood best friend may be named, the-girl-who-is-not-my-sister whom Jayne never grew close to remains simply that in Jayne’s mind. It gives a layer of distance between the person and the reader, for the reader can never really get to know them, as Jayne never did.

I cannot easily relate to Jayne, for I am lucky that my parents have been together and happy my whole life, although Jayne paints a very vivid picture of how, no matter what happens around her, not having her father around is something she is always painfully aware of. Like a stone in her shoe, Jayne constantly feels her father’s absence, although there is little she can do about it, and has to simply deal with the pain and keep on walking. I can feel Jayne’s pain and sadness through the words, as she desperately searches for a feeling of love and security that only her father can give her, but she isn’t going to receive from him. Throughout her life, she was lost, jumping around both mentally and physically, struggling through different traumas and an immense feeling of loneliness while moving from place to place through her mother’s relationships, and then her own. 

This book itself is very short and easy to read, I read it within about twenty minutes, although I am a fast reader. It is a simple book if you are just consuming words and moving on. But, when you look even just slightly deeper than what is on the surface, you find a pool of emotion, and it is all too easy to fall forwards and start to drown. I fear losing my father, but to never have known him? To go my whole life without the love and support I feel is almost a given in life? Jayne’s words bring a perspective that I’ve never been able to properly observe before, and needless to say, this is a book that truly moved me.

Jayne Martin is a Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, Best Microfictions nominee, and a recipient of Vestal Review’s VERA award. Her debut collection of flash fiction, “Tender Cuts,” from Vine Leaves Press is available now. She lives in California where she rides horses and drinks copious amounts of fine wines, though not at the same time.

Prior to turning her attention to essay and fiction, Jayne Martin was a TV-movie writer whose credits include “Big Spender” for Animal Planet, and “A Child Too Many,” “Cradle of Conspiracy,” and “Deceived by Trust” for Lifetime. Her book of humor essays, “Suitable for Giving: A Collection of Wit with a Side of Wry,” is available in paperback and digital formats.

Find her at