Tag Archives: historical fiction

Hannah’s Moon by John A Heldt

Regular readers of my blog may remember that I really enjoyed a couple of books by John Heldt last year. You may see my reviews of The Mine here and Indiana Belle here. So I was pleased when John asked me to review his latest book, Hannah’s Moon. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

Hannah's Moon by John A Heldt

 

Here is the book blurb.

After struggling for years to have a child, Claire Rasmussen, 34, turns to adoption, only to find new obstacles on the path to motherhood. Then she gets an unlikely phone call and soon learns that a distant uncle possesses the secrets of time travel.

Within weeks, Claire, husband Ron, and brother David find themselves on a train to Tennessee and 1945, where adoptable infants are plentiful and red tape is short. For a time, they find what they seek. Then a beautiful stranger enters their lives, the Navy calls, and a simple, straightforward mission becomes a race for survival.

Filled with suspense, romance, and heartbreak, HANNAH’S MOON, the epic conclusion of the American Journey series, follows the lives of four spirited adults as they confront danger, choices, and change in the tense final months of World War II.

This book starts in the present day (or a few months hence to be precise) when Claire and Ron’s son is stillborn. A couple of months later they decide to try to adopt, but discover the average wait time is 6 years and that they will need a hefty loan to afford the fee.

When Claire’s brother David comes to visit, he brings far-fetched news from their Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Geoffrey Bell. They have a time-travel tunnel in their basement and David has been through it back to 2001 and retrieved Claire’s lost diary. The Bells are offering Claire and Ron the chance to time-travel back to 1945, when it should be easy to adopt.

So a few weeks later with falsified documents, Claire, Ron and David head back to 1945 at the same time as the Bells, Uncle Geoffrey has set them up with a $10,000 savings account and rented them a house. They say their goodbyes to the Bells who are heading to Latin America and board a train to Tennessee.

There they get very friendly with neighbour Margaret and begin the process to adopt 10 month old Hannah. They are on a 3 month parent probation period before the adoption will be finalised, so can’t return to the modern day as soon as they hoped. But when Ron intervenes to save a black man from a beating, things start to get more tricky initially and then very scary indeed.

That’s all I’m going to say about the storyline. However it is interesting to note that this is the final story in the American Journey series, as I saw scope for at least a couple more books featuring Geoffrey Bell. I’ve only read two out of the five, but I liked how those two are linked by his character, yet they work brilliantly as stand-alone stories.

Hannah’s Moon is available on Amazon, currently priced at £4.10 in Kindle format. I loved this book. A really great read which certainly lived up to my expectations of a John Heldt novel, As always I highly recommend this author.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Songs of Princes by Janell Rhiannon

I have received a free e-copy of the book Songs of Princes by Janell Rhiannon to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

Song of Princes by Janell Rhiannon

Here is the book blurb.

Sing Muse. Sing of the shining citadel of Troy rising from the hot sands of Asia. Sing of the Greek palaces ascending from their rocky hilltops. Sing of one woman’s dream heralding the madness of men and the murder of innocents. From bull dancing rings and wild meadows, the Forgotten Prince must choose between love and a golden crown. From seclusion and safety, the Golden Warrior must choose between his honor and his life. From behind the Great Wall, the Golden Prince must choose between his family and his city. And from a rugged realm on the far side of Greece, the Warrior King must choose between his son’s life and certain exile. Here shepherds and princes, warriors and kings, and seers and lovers seek to conquer their passions, outwit destiny or surrender to it.

PARIS, the FORGOTTEN PRINCE. ACHILLES, the GOLDEN WARRIOR. HEKTOR, the GOLDEN PRINCE. ODYSSEUS, the WARRIOR KING.

Where did their legends begin before their lives converged at Troy in one of the most famous battles of all time? The HOMERIC CHRONICLES tell the stories of Paris, Achilles, Hektor, and Odysseus in one chronological tale, beginning before the ILIAD and ending long after the ODYSSEY. Blending both history and myth, the Homeric Chronicles will satisfy your love of Greek mythology, while paying homage to the original storyteller, Homer.

SONGS OF PRINCES begins with the birth of Paris and Achilles, and introduces us to a young Hektor and Odysseus. The journey of the princes begins…

Fall in love with Greek mythology for the first time or all over again.

Although I occasionally read historical fiction, it is usually only a few hundred years ago, so this is an era I don’t know much about at all, mainly what I learned long ago at school or from watching fictional programmes like Atlantis. So I was very interested to see how this novel would portray Greek mythology.

This is book 1 in the Homeric Chronicles. It starts by introducing the gods followed by a timeline for the heroes and heroines of The Iliad and Odyssey from 1295 BC to 1251 BC. Some of the character names were familiar to me.

The story itself begins in Troy with a bad dream for Queen Hecuba. The seer foretells that that her unborn son heralds the destruction of Troy and that the prince should be killed. When the child is born, King Priam reluctantly hands his son to herdsman Agelaus to expose him on the mountain. He has to obey but prays to goddess Artemis to save the child, who converts to bear form and suckles the infant for 9 days, before Agelaus returns and finds the babe alive and well. He takes him home, keeping his parentage secret and naming him Paris, where the boy grows up looking after the sacred bulls. Years later as a bull dancer, it is finally discovered that he is The Forgotten Prince.

We are also introduced to Achilles as a baby, son of Thetis and Peleus. Similarly his future is foretold which is either to refuse to go to battle and rule after his father but die forgotten without glory. Or choose battle, die early but become the greatest warrior the world has ever known. Achilles grows up training to run like the wind with with Chiron the centaur. His mother, Thetis returns suggesting Achilles should be sent to Skyros in order to avoid battle.

Meanwhile Theseus kidnaps beautiful Helen of Sparta and hides her with his mother Aethra. Helen’s brothers Pollux and Castor find her and seize her back. Her father Tyndareus decides she must wed, but to whom. A throng of suitors descend on Sparta but her father secretly insists Helen must choose Menelaus. Then he makes all the other suitors take an oath to serve her chosen husband with military aid if she is ever abducted again.

Then King Priam sends Paris to Salamis to bring back his aunt Hesione to Troy. Enroute he stops to gift horses to Menelaus. Paris knows it is also time to claim goddess Aphrodite’s gift from many years ago of the most beautiful woman. It cannot be avoided. Aphrodite’s voice is speaking in his head. He forgets his own wife Oenone and takes Helen willingly back to Troy.

Menelaus invokes the oath and a thousand ships set sail for Troy. Odysseus goes via Skyros and finds Achilles who chooses glory and joins them.

However the book does end very abruptly with a To Be Continued banner across the bottom of the page, when Princess Iphigenia is slaughtered because the goddess Artemis demanded her sacrifice to raise the winds for the ships to sail to Troy. Although I knew it was book 1 in a trilogy, i wasn’t expecting it to just end on a cliffhanger.

Songs of Princes is available on Amazon, currently priced at £12.16 in paperback or 99p in Kindle format. Certainly worth a read, although I did keep getting myself confused over character names and between gods, mortals and nymphs, often having to retrace to something I had read earlier.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Indiana Belle by John A Heldt

Regular readers of my blog may remember that I recently received free e-copies of two books by John Heldt to review. You may see my review of the first one, The Mine here. And now we have Indiana Belle, which is the stand-alone third book in the American Journey time-travel series. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

Indiana Belle by John A Heldt

 

Here is the book blurb.

Providence, Rhode Island, 2017. When doctoral student Cameron Coelho, 28, opens a package from Indiana, he finds more than private papers that will help him with his dissertation. He finds a photograph of a beautiful society editor murdered in 1925 and clues to a century-old mystery. Within days, he meets Geoffrey Bell, the “time-travel professor,” and begins an unlikely journey through the Roaring Twenties. Filled with history, romance, and intrigue, INDIANA BELLE follows a lonely soul on the adventure of a lifetime as he searches for love and answers in the age of Prohibition, flappers, and jazz.

This book starts in the present day (or next year to be precise) with Cameron looking through historical papers he had purchased from the 1920s including the diary and photograph of journalist, Candice Bell. He is intrigued by several references in the diary to Candice’s father and uncle having discovered a formula for time-travel. And he is fixated on Candice’s photo but discovers she was murdered in 1925.

He meets with Professor Geoffrey Bell, who is the great grandson of Candice’s uncle. Geoffrey reveals that both he and his wife Jeanette have time-travelled many times. Geoffrey reluctantly agrees to a deal to send Cameron back to 1925 in exchange for Cameron finding and bringing back some of the crystals needed to power his time-travel tunnel. He also insists that Cameron does nothing to alter the timeline.

So Cameron heads back in time to early 1925, several months before the date of the murder and takes a train to Evansville, Indiana where Candice lives. However when he arrives, he finds Candice is out of town on leave for a couple of weeks visiting her mother. He goes to visit her there and as the sky darkens, his future memories realise that a serious tornado is about to strike. He convinces them to hide in the cellar just in time before the tornado destroys the house. Afterwards amongst the debris, he finds the missing journal of Candice’s late father.

Candice invites Cameron out to dinner and things gradually progress from there. I will leave you to read the rest as I’m sure you’re wondering what happens next. I was also interested to see that the story encompassed tales of the Klu Klux Klan.

Indiana Belle is available on Amazon, currently priced at £3.76 in Kindle format. I loved this book. A really great read and having now read two John Heldt novels, I can say I highly recommend this author.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

The Learn by Tony Halker

I have received a free e-copy of the book “The Learn” by Tony Halker to review.

The Learn by Tony Halker

Here is the book blurb.

Blending reality, history and legend, about a time when women were considered as important as men, taking power in an oral society that worships the Goddess. A whole Celtic Druid world is laid out before us, incorporating beliefs, technology and the natural environment.

A Celtic boy, a beach scavenger, is pledged to the Learn, a life of endurance, a path to become sworn Druid: scholar and warrior.  Young women and men progress, becoming Priests and Druidii. Friendship, affection, passion and care develop as novices mature, confidence emerging. Seasonal battles of winter and summer bring rich festivals when seeds of men are taken by women in pleasure to prove fertility. Small damaged, hurt peoples on the margins of Celtic society blend in and out of vision.

At frontiers with Nature, dependent for everything on what the earth gives or takes, an emotional response to the natural environment defines who people are and the values they live by. A lyrical novel resonating with modern readers through portrayal of character, language and history; arising from a landscape of today, yet centred in the Celtic Bronze Age of North Wales.

Although I do read historical books from time to time, the Celtic Bronze Age is an era I am not at all familiar with. There is a list of Celtic tribes at the beginning of the book along with characters and places which I found very helpful to refer to. The book is set in North Wales.

The book starts by introducing the boy Owayne and his mother Rigantona. Owayne finds a large red pearl amongst the seaweed on the beach which the Celts believe are tears of the Goddess, so Rigatona negotiates a price for the pearl with druid Merle to train Owayne for the Test and Learn, so that he may become a priest or druid.

I did find it hard to relate to the Celtic ways like taking several chapters to decide whether a round wooden frame was blasphemy against the Goddess or new knowledge to be added to the Learn.

We meet Gwen, Huw and Nial, three others like Owayne, sworn to the Learn. Owayne, Gwen and Nial team together on the Learn challenge to each make a charcoal pit.

At Beltane, a small race called Syth join in the festivities as honoured guests but one of the Iceni tribe kills a Syth girl. Her mother demands justice. A life for a life.

Owayne also learns from the Syth and has to help defend the Learn when the Iceni and Gargani attack.

Although this book is well-written, I have to say it didn’t hit the spot for me.

You may purchase this book on Amazon


Here’s an extract to give you a taster of the story.

Pages 153-154. Beltane (Calain Mai) is the festival that celebrates the end of winter and the beginning of summer, when cattle are put to higher ground and crops sown. Fires are lit, danced over, put out by the rite, then relit. Syth come in the dark to join the celebrations, jumping fires running in the shadows.

Looking carefully I see that some Syth, a high number, are not quite like us, are misshapen with joints out of place, breaks of bone that have remained distorted, some have burn marks from metal, even stumps of hand or foot where liquid metal has made hole or break, all have energy, all tumble, fight and compete, all endure, struggling to be in this celebration. Misshapen in form they can be fluid beautiful in movement and in their commitment of energy.

Noise is ramping, rising, confused, screeching shell blown air merging with voices, bangs and calls, there is constant fire jumping, more reckless, screams with pain burning embers, drunk and foolhardy try to take burning sticks and branches. Lines of jumpers men and women running at the fire from different places and angles, jostling to be next, risking meeting another over the fire, falling into its flames, all miss, blessed.


About Tony Halker

Born in London, Tony Halker studied geology at Leeds University after which he worked as a geologist, travelling extensively overseas. Following an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, he became a manager in hi-tec business and later a businessman and entrepreneur. His writing is inspired by powerful natural landscapes and his interest in the people and technologies emerging from those hard places. His two daughters were born in North Wales. He lives with his wife there and in Hertfordshire.

Website – http://www.tonyhalker.com/

Blog – http://www.tonyhalker.com/blog


I’m participating in the book tour and you may like to check out some of the other blog stops on the tour.

The Learn by Tony Halker

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife by Anne Boileau

I have received a free e-copy of the book “Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife” by Anne Boileau to review. Being asked to review this brought back a memory from my childhood that I will share with you. I muddled up Martin Luther and Martin Luther King in my schoolwork. Two famous figures with similar names, but that is as close as it gets. Anyhow, on with the book review.

Katharine Luther by Anne Boileau

Here is the book blurb.

On 31st October 1517 Martin Luther pinned ninety-five theses on the Castle Church door, Wittenberg, criticising the Church of Rome; they were printed and published by Lucas Cranach and caused a storm. Nine young nuns, intoxicated by Luther’s subversive writings, became restless and longed to leave their convent. On Good Friday 1523 a haulier smuggled them out hidden in empty herring barrels. Five of them settled in Wittenberg, the very eye of the storm, and one of them – Katharina von Bora – scandalised the world by marrying the revolutionary former monk. Following a near miscarriage, she is confined to her bed to await the birth of their first child; during this time of enforced rest, she sets down her own story. Against a backdrop of 16th Century Europe this strikingly realised account of the early life of Katharina von Bora brings to the spotlight this spirited and courageous woman.

A timely and compelling new study of a woman whose story is not widely known in the English-speaking world,Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife will captivate fans of the likes of Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel, and is set to fascinate, enlighten and leave readers hooked until the very last page.

This book is set in Germany in the 16th century at the time of the Protestant Reformation which was initiated by Martin Luther. The book is in the format of a diary by Katharina Luther, written whilst she is confined to her room in the last weeks of her pregnancy. Her journal begins with her childhood, sent to a convent at age 9 and soon afterwards, one of the sisters confiscates her stuffed mole. At age 15, Katharina becomes a novice.

One of the nuns then received an illicit copy of Luther’s translation of the Bible which a few of the younger nuns including Katharina took turns to read in secret for 4 weeks until sister Charity discovered them reading in German rather than Latin. Over 6 years after becoming a nun, Katharina realises she wants to escape the convent and see what is happening outside.

There are a small group of young nuns who feel the same and they write a letter to Dr Luther for help, as it is his writing which has said monks and nuns should be allowed to forsake their vows. 6 weeks later they get a reply, instructing them to get in the empty herring barrels on Good Friday. And thus they escape, some returning to their families but the other five including Katharina carrying on to Dr Luther in Wittenberg.

There Frau Reichenbach helps them adapt to the noisy secular world. Herr and Frau Cranach take in Ave and Katharina as house daughters. Ave leaves to marry Basilius. In due course, Katharina has a suitor, Hieronymous Baumgartner but as a runaway nun she is not considered suitable by his parents. She next receives a marriage proposal from an elderly pastor, Dr Glatz whom she turns down.

Then she receives another marriage proposal by proxy from Dr Luther via Herr Cranach. She meets him (see extract below) and agrees to marry. An ex-monk and an ex-nun. After her marriage, she tries unsuccessfully to reconcile with her father and step-mother. However her Aunt Lena comes to live with her following the closure of the convent. And her diary ends with the birth of her son.

I used to read a lot of historical fiction and really enjoyed revisiting this genre. A nice read.


Here’s an extract to give you a taster of the story.

From Chapter 13 ­– The Storks’ Nest
Dr Luther asked Lucas Cranach to convey a proposal of marriage to Katharina on his behalf. It seems he did not have the courage to ask her himself. Katharina is now going to see him, having written him a note, and he then invited her to come up to his study.

I counted the steps as I went up, stopping now and then to catch my breath. Sixty three. I tip-toed along the corridor carrying my shoes so he wouldn’t hear my footsteps. Though he must surely hear my thumping heart! The door to his study was shut. I stood still before it and tried to steady my breathing, to slow down my heart. My bodice was too tight, the laces cutting into my chest. My armpits were damp and prickling. I got a hanky out of my pocket and wiped my sweaty face. ‘Come on, you stupid girl, what are you waiting for?’ I raised my right fist and rapped on the door.

“Come in.”

He stands up as I enter and walks towards me, his hands outstretched. He takes my hands in his and we stand facing each other in silence for what seems like several minutes. Then he leads me to a chair and I sit down. I tell my heart to slow down. My breathing is steadier now.

The great man seems rather shy. Can he really be nervous of me, a young woman of no consequence? He sits down behind the desk and runs his fingers through his hair. Then he twists away from me and points out of the window at a heap of sticks on a chimney.

“You see the stork? She’s sitting on a clutch. That bodes well, you know, for the coming year.”

“Yes, we have a pair at the Cranach House too, though we can’t see the nest so close.”

“Lovely birds. Where do they disappear to in winter do you suppose?”

“I really wouldn’t know, Herr Doktor. Somewhere warmer, I should think.”

“Yes, no doubt. They fly south, that much we know.”

He turned back to look at me, then looked away again, cleared his throat and shifted some papers about on his desk. Eventually, with averted eyes, he said:
“Fräulein von Bora, you received my message, from Herr Cranach?”

“I did.”

“And might I ask if you have had a chance to think about it?”

I looked past him through the window at the birds’ nest, and just then the other stork arrived, landing awkwardly on the heap of sticks. It was change of shift for the brooding pair. I thought about my prayers to Jesus, about my asking him for a sign. Was this His sign to me that it was all right? A pair of birds, raising their chicks, living and working together, in harmony and mutual affection. Yes, Jesus couldn’t have sent a clearer sign, a more apt way of telling me that this was the road for me to take. That I should indeed accept his proposal and build a nest with him, on our metaphorical chimney, like those long legged birds outside his window.

“I have thought about it. I have prayed too.”

“We can make no decision without the help of Our Lord. So let me ask you again, Fräulein, after your thoughts and sleep, after your prayers and supplications, what decision have you come to? Would this young beautiful one-time nun be prepared to marry this middle-aged ugly, difficult one-time monk?”

“I think so. Yes, I think she might be. Be prepared to, I mean.”

“But you’re not sure. I’m not an easy man. I think you know that already.”

He looks at me with such anxiety and tenderness, I see a yearning in his eyes which I have never seen before. And all of a sudden I hear myself talking with a fluency quite new to me, I hear words spilling out of my mouth almost before they take shape in my head.

“Herr Doktor. I have had reservations, I must admit. I have been wrestling with my conscience. After all, as you know, I took my vows when I was fifteen, I became a Bride of Christ. Then I became disillusioned, partly because of reading your sermons and letters. So with eight other nuns I abandoned my husband, the dear Lord Christ, and we ran away from the convent. I broke my vow of Obedience. I have suffered a heavy conscience about that for two whole years. Now, I find myself weighing up the possibility of yet another betrayal of our Lord, by promising to marry you. That would entail my breaking a second vow made to Christ, the vow of chastity. And you, Dr Luther, you were a monk and you have broken your vows. Is it not sinful for a monk to marry a nun? I’ve heard it said that any children born of such a union are evil, cursed, even monsters. You asked me about my reservations. I have done my best to explain.”

“Dear Fräulein von Bora, I understand entirely what you feel and I would worry if you didn’t find it necessary to examine your conscience on such a grave matter. But let me explain about celibacy and what I see as God’s attitude to our sexuality. God made women in such a way that they are able to bear children and give them milk to suck. He also made men long for the comfort and company of women. This is natural. God wants what is natural. As I said, He created men and women to be together in marriage, and what happens in the marriage bed is as natural as eating and drinking….”


About Anne Boileau

Anne Boileau (also known as Polly Clarke) lives in Essex. She studied German in Munich and worked as interpreter and translator before turning to language-teaching in England. She also holds a degree in Conservation and Land Management from Anglia University and has written and given talks on various aspects of conservation. Now she shares, writes and enjoys poetry; her work has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines; she has also won some awards, including First Prize with Grey Hen Press, 2016. She translates modern German poetry into English with Camden Mews Translators and was Chair of Suffolk Poetry Society from 2011 to 2014.

This book will be published on 4th October and you may purchase on Amazon.


I’m participating in the book tour and you may like to check out some of the other blog stops on the tour.

Katharine Luther by Anne Boileau

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

The Mine by John A Heldt

I have received free e-copies of two books by John Heldt to review. The first one up is The Mine, which is book one in the five-volume Northwest Passage time-travel series. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

The Mine by John A Heldt

Here is the book blurb.

In May 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can’t use, money he can’t spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of swing dancing and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.

I wasn’t entirely convinced by this book in the first few chapters set in modern-day, but once Joel time-travelled back to 1941, I started enjoying it more and was hooked by the point Joel relocated to Seattle and helped Tom, who was being attacked. One favour deserves another, so destitute Joel (since modern credit cards are no use at all) gets to stay in the trailer outside Tom’s house. From there he progresses to a job as a salesman working for Tom’s Dad and gets to meet Tom’s circle of close friends. This includes Tom’s girlfriend Ginny, who Joel soon realises is his own Grandma.

From this point on, the reader is constantly wondering whether the course of history is going to be permanently changed, as Tom is obviously not Joel’s Grandpa Joe. And will Joel ever get back to his own time?

Meanwhile Joel falls in love with one of Ginny’s house-mates Grace. And in wartime 1941 he is very conscious of pending historical events. When a chance arises to potentially return to the present day, what should Joel do? Leave Grace or risk changing the timeline for ever? You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens.

The Mine is available on Amazon, currently priced at £3 in Kindle format. Reading this story has definitely whet my appetite for the rest of the series. Highly recommended. I also enjoyed Joel’s humorous personal thoughts interspersed throughout the book. I’m certainly looking forward to reading Indiana Belle, the other John Heldt novel that I received. Watch out for my review of that sometime next month.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.