“If it’s all the same to you, I’ll have that drink now.”
“If it’s all the same to you, I’ll have that drink now.”
You know how my husband always likes to tinker away with cars - in fact, the Haynes Manuals are the only books he reads. So who thought a visit to the tank museum would be a good idea? Hands up, yes that was me. I thought I could maybe get him into history by visiting a museum where he just might appreciate the exhibits. Now he wants to buy a tank. Give me strength!
But there were some pretty impressive tanks at the museum, and I loved their journey through the trenches of World War 1. It is certainly worth a visit.
The Tank Museum gets a thumbs up from me and from my husband. I just hope I can convince him that we really do not need a tank!! I am now very suspicious of any packages that are addressed to him, it would not surprise me if he builds a tank by stealth! I would not put it past him, although how he is going to get the Continuous track past me remains to be seen. He will probably get it delivered to his mums!!
We are heading back to the 1940's today. It is with the greatest of pleasures that I introduce you to Clare Flynn and and her exceptionally great novel, Sisters at War.
Sisters at War
By Clare Flynn
I will begin yet another review by saying, oh my goodness, the cover is beautiful. I barely skimmed the blurb, agreeing to read this book because of the image I was presented with, and I must say, I do not regret this decision even the smallest bit.
Hannah Kidd is married to Will, who spends the majority of this book away at sea. He is a merchant seaman, and working on a ship is his contribution to the war effort. No matter how much Hannah may worry about him when he’s not there, it seems that finding a job on land is out of the question.
The household Hannah is in is a bit of a motley crew. The owner of the house is Sam, whom she was briefly illegally married to after their fathers forced together the union. When Hannah and Judith’s father, an abusive man who preached religion to get his own way, killed their mother, Sam took Hannah and Judith in, giving them a place to stay. Although deep down a caring, lonely woman, the fourth inhabitant, Nance, takes Hannah for granted, sitting back and letting Hannah do all the housework, and cook the meals. And then there is Will, who, although isn’t home much, completes the mismatched family.
I adored Will and Hannah. They are such a beautiful couple, and it was utterly heartbreaking when Will kept leaving for sea, and Hannah would watch the telegraph boy out the window, breathing a sigh of relief when he would continue past her house without stopping. Hannah is the most selfless person imaginable, and continuously gives up things for other people, namely her sister and Nance. I didn’t like Nance all that much, she put herself first and was extremely tactless about every situation anyone else found themselves in. I couldn’t quite make my mind up about Hannah’s sister, Judith. While she has had a very traumatic childhood, and the events of this story only add to that trauma, Hannah has suffered through almost exactly the same, and yet she is expected to keep going while Judith shuts down, making her sister take over. I understand that such a scenario was likely to make Judith react so, but she is so selfish towards Hannah that I had a hard time liking her.
If you have read this book, (if not, you need to!) you are aware about the scene I am about to talk about. I was sat with my hand over my mouth, not wanting to read on for fear of what would happen, but also need to continue because I needed to know what would happen. My husband happened to walk into the room at this moment, as I was sat, curled up on the sofa under a blanket, with tears streaming down my face. At first, he thought something was wrong in real life, but when he noticed my ereader, he sighed, rolling his eyes, and mumbled something along the lines of ‘why read it if it upsets you’ as he left the room again. He did return and bring me a cup of tea, but he does not, and could not, understand the emotional turmoil of this book.
I am a firm believer that if a book has the ability to make you cry, it is a good book. If I read a bad book, I’m likely just to put it down and not show any emotional response to it, other than disgust at the waste of my time it was. This was a good book. In fact, it was more than that. It was beautiful, tragic, heartbreaking – it can cause laughter and sobbing, potentially at the same time.
If you don’t have this book, and/or haven’t read it – what are you waiting for? Did you even read my review? Go and buy it right now!
Clare Flynn is the author of thirteen historical novels and a collection of short stories. A former International Marketing Director and strategic management consultant, she is now a full-time writer.
Having lived and worked in London, Paris, Brussels, Milan and Sydney, home is now on the coast, in Sussex, England, where she can watch the sea from her windows. An avid traveler, her books are often set in exotic locations.
Clare is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of The Society of Authors, ALLi, and the Romantic Novelists Association. When not writing, she loves to read, quilt, paint and play the piano.
Please join me in welcoming historical fiction author, Tim Standish, onto Oh look, another book. Tim is taking his book, The Sterling Directive, on tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club and I am so excited to be taking part in the tour because his book is fabulous!!
It is 1896. In an alternative history where Babbage’s difference engines have become commonplace, Captain Charles Maddox, wrongly convicted of a murder and newly arrested for treason, is rescued from execution by a covert agency called the Map Room.
Maddox is given the choice of taking his chances with the authorities or joining the Map Room as an agent and helping them uncover a possible conspiracy surrounding the 1888 Ripper murders. Seeing little choice, Maddox accepts the offer and joins the team of fellow agents Church and Green. With help from the Map Room team, Maddox (now Agent Sterling) and Church investigate the Ripper murders and uncover a closely guarded conspiracy deep within the British Government. Success depends on the two of them quickly forging a successful partnership as agents and following the trail wherever, and to whomever, it leads.
An espionage thriller set in an alternative late 19th-century London.
As you may well know, I could drop one end of my to-read list from the top of a flight of stairs and it would reach the bottom and then some. This means that I often forget what a book is about and go into it blind. This one, however, I didn’t. I kept repeating the phrase ‘Victorian era with computers’ to myself, which made me incredibly excited to read this book.
Charles got himself into a bit of trouble a few years ago, wherein he ended up as the main suspect of murder and was told he could either join the army for ten years or be put to death. Unsurprisingly, he took the option that meant he didn’t die, and was shipped off to fight. With a few years still left, Charles’ father fell ill and Charles snuck back into London to try and see his father before his imminent demise. He has a very eventful welcome home, finding himself in a duel, then heading to Cooper’s, a place that can only be described as a fancy brothel, only to then be faced with a raid to the building that ended up with him in handcuffs.
Luckily, for him, the cell he was put in was only under the Thames, which apparently was no challenge for the agency calling themselves the Map Room to break him out and recruit him, in exchange for a pardon, allowing him to stay in the country and escape the notice of the police. They have a directive that they want him to help with – to investigate Jack the Ripper. New information has come to light, that there may not be just one man, but two working together to create the Ripper, and such information needs investigating.
Charles takes on the name ‘Sterling’ and works with another agent, Church, in the investigation. I must say, Church was one of my favourite characters, if only for his love of tea. He gets very upset when there is no tea, and, despite his distaste for coffee, he seems to end up drinking it quite often. Being British, I can assure you that this is not a stereotype, but almost an everyday occurance when there is a lack of tea available.
I also really liked Patience, who is an angsty computer hacker, who seems to spend all her time locked away in a room with a computer, getting up to one thing or another that is incredibly helpful to the Map Room, and an inconvenience to anyone else. Patience reminded me of Shuri, the Black Panther’s sister, if anyone has seen that movie.
A couple of times, I found myself doing some research as to when certain things were invented. For certain, in the Victorian times, there was no such thing as a card reader, they weren’t invented until the 1960s, so this book is definitely an alternative history novel. Somehow, though, this didn’t hinder the story at all. I liked the fact that it was modern day, minus mobile phones and internet, in the Victorian times. It created a world that I am accustomed to (not that I am accustomed to airship raids, but you get what I mean) in a historical setting and it was incredibly easy to get lost in the pages.
There is plenty of mystery and action in this book, which make you not want to put it down to do things like sleep because you want to keep on reading. This, unfortunately, poses an issue, as I like sleep and I already have an overactive child who likes waking up far too early. My usual early(ish) nights turned later and while my husband kept trying to get me to go to bed, I ignored him to keep reading. Eventually, he realised that tempting me with hot chocolate was the way to go, and I put the book down in favour of hot chocolate in bed, with tiny marshmallows.
All in all, this is a really entertaining and interesting book, with a good helping of murder and some mystery, action and technology used to season it to taste. I loved reading this book, and would recommend it to anyone wanting a good read, which doesn't demand too much historical knowledge to understand!
Please join me in welcoming historical fiction author, Tony Riches, onto Oh look, another book. Tony is taking his book on tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club and I am so excited to be taking part in this tour. But that is enough from me. I think it is time to read an excerpt!
We are heading back in time to the American Civil War today. It is with the greatest of pleasures that I introduce you to Glen Craney and his exceptionally great novel, The Cotillion Brigade (A Novel of the Civil War and the Most Famous Female Militia in American History).
A graduate of Indiana University School of Law and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Glen Craney practiced trial law before joining the Washington, D.C. press corps to write about national politics and the Iran-contra trial for Congressional Quarterly magazine. In 1996, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences awarded him the Nicholl Fellowship prize for best new screenwriting. His debut historical novel, The Fire and the Light, was named Best New Fiction by the National Indie Excellence Awards. He is a three-time Finalist/Honorable Mention winner of Foreword Magazine’s Book-of-the-Year and a Chaucer Award winner for Historical Fiction. His books have taken readers to Occitania during the Albigensian Crusade, the Scotland of Robert Bruce, Portugal during the Age of Discovery, the trenches of France during World War I, the battlefields of the Civil War, and the American Hoovervilles of the Great Depression. He lives in Malibu, California.
I am so excited to share my review of Saving Grace: Deception. Obsession. Redemption. (The Ropewalk series, Book 2) by H D Coulter Thank you so much to The Coffee Pot Book Club for your invite to take part in this tour.
Saving Grace: Deception. Obsession. Redemption.
(The Ropewalk series, Book 2)
By H D Coulter
Beacon Hill, Boston. 1832.
“You are innocent. You are loved. You are mine.”
After surviving the brutal attack and barely escaping death at Lancaster Castle, Beatrice Mason attempts to build a new life with her husband Joshua across the Atlantic in Beacon Hill. But, as Beatrice struggles to cope with the pregnancy and vivid nightmares, she questions whether she is worthy of redemption.
Determined to put the past behind her after the birth of her daughter Grace, Bea embraces her newfound roles of motherhood and being a wife. Nevertheless, when she meets Sarah Bateman, their friendship draws Bea towards the underground railroad and the hidden abolitionist movement, despite the dangerous secrets it poses. Whilst concealed in the shadows, Captain Victor Hanley returns, obsessed with revenge and the desire to lay claim to what is his, exposes deceptions and doubts as he threatens their newly established happiness.
Now, Beatrice must find the strength to fight once more and save Grace, even if it costs her life.
I do so love series, and when I was offered the chance to read this book, after reading book 1, I was ecstatic. Book 1 ended on a cliff hanger, and when I finished reading it, this book was still only on Preorder. You can understand how upset I was. Nonetheless, I was asked if I wanted to read this one, I agreed with maybe a little too much enthusiasm, and as soon as I received my copy, I put on the kettle and sat down.
Once again, the cover is absolutely gorgeous. What else can I say? Anyway, let us get onto the story…
Bea suffered dreadfully in the last book, and she finally ended up with the good guy – the simply delightful Joshua Mason. That doesn’t mean everything is sunshine and daisies, though, as she has to deal with the repercussions of the trauma she experienced. On top of the nightmares and constant fear, she is also pregnant. This should be a wondrous occasion, but considering the circumstances of the pregnancy, Bea has to learn to love the child. She repeats the mantra “You are innocent. You are loved. You are mine.” to her child, for the baby has done nothing wrong and knows nothing of how she came to be.
In the last book, I sang Joshua’s name to the skies in praise. He was the perfect gentleman, he loved Bea with all his heart and would do almost anything to keep her safe. In this one, however, it seems his patience has started to run thin. Not only does he have to contend with the baby (I don’t want to spoil anything, so read it and you’ll understand), but he wants his wife to be the woman he fell in love with. Instead, she has changed and, after all this time, it seems that it is not her that doesn’t want to show affection, but him instead. The Joshua in this book is not the young man I fell in love with in the last book, but a grown man in charge of a household, with responsibilities. Maybe it’s just that he didn’t have these responsibilities in the last book, but in this one, he has grown what I would call short, and his patience is waning. In case you could not tell, I did not like Joshua as much in this book as I did in the last.
With a new book comes a new set of characters and, since Bea and Joshua have moved to Boston, we get many interesting characters to read about. I absolutely loved Sarah. She is employed as a servant in Bea and Joshua’s house, but she becomes more like Bea’s sister. She is such a nice woman, always wanting to do as much good as she can. She was an absolute delight to read about, although reading her backstory almost made me cry.
One big theme in this book is Bea’s child, Grace. I have a child myself, so I will relate her experiences to mine as best I can. Grace is born via a cesarian because Bea was bleeding - why she is bleeding is never explained, but one can assume it was because of an intrapartum haemorrhage caused by a low lying placenta or quite possibly the placenta had ruptured - we are not given any details, (only that the cord was wrapped around the baby's neck,) but if this were the case Bea would most certainly have died. Neither did she die of shock which was the leading cause of C-section fatalities. Then there was the small issue, of stitching Bea up. I did a quick Google search and I discovered that until the 1870s they did not use stitches to close the open womb up, so goodness knows how anyone survived such an operation. If Bea was bleeding so heavily, and by the way, it was described she was, then surely she would have had her womb removed - how else would the bleeding have been stopped? I think a little more research was needed for this scene to make it more viable. Also, when Grace is a couple of months old, she looks at Bea in a lovely new dress in awe. I don’t know about other people’s children, but my child never cared about what I was wearing, but rather if they could get access to my breasts for dinner!
I really enjoyed reading this book, if I overlook the birth of Grace, and, much like Book 1, it ends with a cliff hanger. Except this cliff hanger is in the middle of an extremely intense scene, wherein someone might be dead, or they might not be. I don’t know. Book 3 isn’t out for ages. What am I supposed to do as I wait?!
“If it’s all the same to you, I’ll have that drink now.” Oh come on, we all knew Loki didn't die— he is one of the best characters in ...