Posts Tagged ‘Historical Fiction’

Storytellers by Bjørn Larssen

July 10, 2019 - 5:21 am 1 Comment

In celebration of this blog tour there is a competition at the end of this page

 Storytellers

In March 1920 Icelandic days are short and cold, but the nights are long. For most, on those nights, funny, sad, and dramatic stories are told around the fire. But there is nothing dramatic about Gunnar, a hermit blacksmith who barely manages to make ends meet. He knows nobody will remember him – they already don’t. All he wants is peace, the company of his animals, and a steady supply of his medication. Sometimes he wonders what it would feel like to have a story of his own. He’s about to find out.

Sigurd – a man with a plan, a broken ankle, and shocking amounts of money – won’t talk about himself, but is happy to tell a story that just might get Gunnar killed. The blacksmith’s other “friends” are just as eager to write him into stories of their own – from Brynhildur who wants to fix Gunnar, then marry him, his doctor who is on the precipice of calling for an intervention, The Conservative Women of Iceland who want to rehabilitate Gunnar’s “heathen ways” – even the wretched elf has plans for the blacksmith.

As his defenses begin to crumble, Gunnar decides that perhaps his life is due for a change – on his own terms. But can he avoid the endings others have in mind for him, and forge his own?

Storytellers by Bjørn Larssen

Published by josephtailor on 28th March 2019

608 pages

When a stranger turns up injured at Gunner’s place, a story is told to wile away the hours. Gunnar was a hermit, a blacksmith by trade who spent the majority of his time with just the company of his dog. From page one I was hooked, I took an instant liking to Gunner and as his story continued I did start to feel sorry for him as all he wanted was a simple life without the threat of nosy villagers.

Set in Iceland, the author draws on the tradition of storytelling and as you read this book, you are fortunate to read two stories instead of one. The story alternates between the present as you follow Gunner, struggling with his own health, whilst having to put up with an unwanted guest and the past as Sigurd’s tells a tale of young love. Whilst the stories run parallel with each other, there was no confusion, each story was labelled clearly and I found myself wanting to know more about Juana and Arnar.

This story was beautifully written, the scenic descriptions made the cold land of Iceland sound so beautiful and magical. One of my favourite scenes was when Juana saw the Northern lights for the first time. There was a mystery running throughout the story, which I can honestly say I did not work out until it was all revealed. Whilst the story starts off at a steady pace, the pace quickens as more is found out about Sigurd and I knew that I had to finish this book before I went to sleep. This book will bring out various emotions and even when it was a life or death situation, there was still some comedy moments which broke up the tension.

I still cannot believe that this is a debut novel and I will definitely look out for more from this author.

Author Bio

Bjørn Larssen was made in Poland. He is mostly located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, except for his heart which he lost in Iceland. Born in 1977, he self-published his first graphic novel at the age of seven in a limited edition of one. Since then his short stories and essays were published in Rita Baum Art Magazine, Writer Unboxed, Inaczej Magazine), Edurada.pl, Homiki.pl, and Holandia Expat Magazine. He is a member of Alliance of Independent Authors and Writer Unboxed.

Bjørn has a Master of Science degree in mathematics, worked as a graphic designer, a model, and a blacksmith. He used to speak eight languages (currently down to two and a half). His hobbies include sitting by open fires, dressing like an extra from Vikings, installing operating systems, and dreaming about living in a log cabin in the north of Iceland, even though he hates being cold. He has only met an elf once. So far.

Social Media Links

www.twitter.com/bjornlarssen

www.facebook.com/bjornlarssenwriter

Giveaway to Win 5 x copies of “Iceland: Making Memories” (INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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A Secret Muse (The Creative Series Book 1) by Mandy Jackson-Beverly

May 19, 2019 - 11:53 am No Comments

A Secret Muse (The Creative Series Book 1) by Mandy Jackson-Beverly

Published by Cricket Publishing on 1st February 2016

300 pages

Coco Rhodes was happy with her life, an artist and teacher, she enjoyed her freedom. Her brother Chris was a member of a secret society The Allegiance, and whilst her family and friends were members, she wanted nothing to do with them. However, when her life was put in danger, she had no choice but to accept their protection. But could that be enough to save her from Kenan, one of the evilest vampires they have come across  

I liked Coco, she was happy to be herself, she was a free spirit, lost in her art and content with her own company. Even though her best friend and her brother were part of The Allegiance, she wanted nothing to do it, which showed how headstrong she was. Even after her accident, she was still stubborn and was literally forced into having additional protection. 

I enjoyed how the supernatural overlapped with the real world, regular humans were not aware that supernatural beings lived and worked with them. Only a few people knew about the Allegiance and this kept everyone safe. Due to the society being large, they’re quite a few characters in the story, but each one is relevant to the story and when we are introduced to them, parts of their backstory is revealed. As the story continues you soon come to realise how their lives interweave with each other and how they are connected in the future. There are various supernatural beings in this story, witches, vampires, to name but a few. All have an important role in the story.

This story was well researched and as some of the characters are vampires, the story spans over a long time period. Whilst I do not know anything about art, I enjoyed reading about the supernatural involvement used to create some of the most famous paintings. The scenic views of Italy and the places visited were described in fine detail and whether it is the 15th century or the modern day you feel like you are transported there. The pace would quicken with the action, making it more intense. The fight scenes were full on, but the characters would change from fighters to lovers in a few scenes, slowing the pace making it an enjoyable read.  

This is a book for adults and whether you are looking for those tall dark and brooding men or just a good fantasy read to start a new series than this is the story for you.  

Stoker’s Wilde by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi

May 15, 2019 - 5:31 am 1 Comment

When I read the blurb “Years before either becomes a literary legend, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde must overcome their disdain for one another to battle the Black Bishop, a madman wielding supernatural forces to bend the British Empire to his will” I knew I had to be on the blog tour for Stoker’s Wilde written by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi

Stoker’s Wilde by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi

Published by Flame Tree Press and will be out on 30th May 2019

384 pages

Even if you are not a horror lover, you would have heard of Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde. Two successful and popular authors, but where did they get their ideas for their most famous books. This story will hopefully explain all this and more.

As soon as you start reading this book, you notice that the story is told using correspondence, journal and diary entries and even an interview to tell Stoker and Wilde’s adventure. This was a new way for me to read a story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story flowed smoothly and as some scenes were written from a few characters perspective, you get the whole story. Some of my favourite scenes were reading Stoker and Wilde’s journal entries and I did have a snigger to myself reading the entries when they were bitching about each other. In fact, at times you can really tell just how much they despised each other.

From the first page, you are taken on a supernatural adventure where you come across werewolves, visions and nests of vampires. The subject matter was well researched and as I was reading the book I would google every new character I came across, to see if they had any connection to Stoker and Wilde. There are hints to some of their popular stories throughout this book and I loved how these were linked to the hunt for the Black Bishop. The descriptiveness of the scenery had me feeling that I was there, watching the performances at the theatre or following them as they were hunting for vampires.

This was a fast-paced read with some unexpected twists and whilst I read it fairly quickly, I did not want it to end. I hope that the authors will write a sequel as I would love to see where Stoker and Wilde end up. This is a must-read for Horror lovers 

Meet the authors

 Steven Hopstaken was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he spent his formative years watching and reading science fiction and horror. He has a degree in journalism from Northern Michigan University and spends his free time travelling; writing screenplays, short stories and novels; and practising photography. Melissa Prusi Melissa Prusi was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (often mistaken for Canada), and studied video and film production at Northern Michigan University and the University of Michigan. She’s been a video editor, a semi-professional film reviewer, a three-time champion on the quiz show Jeopardy!, and a Guinness world record holder (1990 edition, for directing the longest live television show). They met in a college screenwriting class and married three years later. They spent a brief time in Los Angeles, where they both worked for Warner Bros. television. They eventually ended up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they love the arts scene but dread the winters. While they both currently make a living as website content managers, they have sold two screenplays, which have been lost to development hell. They’ve indulged their fascination with Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde through trips to Dublin and London to research their lives and visit sites mentioned in Stoker’s Wilde. They live in St. Louis Park, Minnesota with their two cats. If they’re not writing, you can usually find them at a movie, local theater production, improv show or pub quiz.

A Walking Shadow (Backstage Mystery Book 1) by Elizabeth Ireland

May 7, 2019 - 1:58 pm No Comments

I am on the blog tour for A Walking Shadow by Elizabeth Ireland. A historical fiction, murder mystery.  

A Walking Shadow

In 1871, Lillian Nolan accepts a small role in Macbeth, and finally fulfills her dream of becoming an actress. That is until the renowned, but venomous, female star of the production is murdered onstage opening night. When her enraged spirit haunts the theater, Lillian is shocked to discover she can communicate with her. Offered a Faustian bargain in which she will be given talent and expertise way beyond her ability in exchange for uncovering the killer, Lillian can’t resist.

Her quest for the truth causes her to descend into the Underworld, the den of inequity below the streets of Chicago. What Lillian finds soon embroils her in a battle between her passion for performing and control over her own body as it all plays out in a supernatural game of good and evil.

Here is my review.

A Walking Shadow (Backstage Mystery Book 1) by Elizabeth Ireland

Published on 13th February 2019

189 pages

Written like a memoir for her great grandniece Agnes, Lillian Nolan tells the story of her first performance on stage when the famous Irene Davenport dies on stage. One thing I quickly realised was when Lillian was 17 years old, the life of an actress was not a respected trade and they were treated like 2nd rate citizens. You had to be brave to choose that career and have to have a thick thin, to ignore all the snide comments. Lillian was one such girl, not afraid to get what she wanted, she was very headstrong, but even though her life choice was not what her family wanted, she did have a fan in her Grandma.  As you read this story; you realise how alike they both are.

The story opens with the tragic death of Irene Davenport and as Lillian tells her story, the involvement that Lillian plays in solving her murder. Set in Chicago in the 1870’s, the descriptive scenes enable you to get a feel for what it was like at the times and as you follow Lillian down memory lane, you have the feeling that you are there. The supernatural element adds another layer to the story as Lillian has enough trying to perform on stage without the haunting of a diva actress. As Lillian finds more about Irene’s life she gets dragged into the seedy part of Chicago and comes face to face with the criminal aspect and you understand how sheltered her upbringing one.

This was a gentle mystery which draws you in. You can tell that the author has a passion for the theatre and her extensive knowledge helps make the story authentic. If you like historical mysteries with a touch of supernatural than this is a series for you. With two more in the series I cannot wait to see where this series takes me.    

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Walking-Shadow-Backstage-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07NQM27YG/

US – https://www.amazon.com/walking-shadow-backstage-mystery-book-ebook/dp/B07NQM27YG/

More about the Series

THE BACKSTAGE MYSTERY SERIES

Tagline: Life upon the wicked stage can be deadly.

Set against the backdrop of the Gilded Age, the Backstage Mystery Series stars Lillian Nolan, an unconventional member of Chicago’s upper class who dreams of a career of fortune and fame in the theater. Talented and ambitious, she possesses a hidden skill which she is extremely reluctant to use—the ability to communicate with those who have died and now live in the world of “The Beyond.” 

The series chronicles her adventures in which she continually becomes enmeshed in solving mysteries which often require her accessing the realm of the paranormal. Filled with an incredible cast of characters—factual, fictional, and sometimes non-physical—who either help or hinder her quest for the truth, the stories take place during a a period considered to be the golden age of both acting and spiritualism in America.

Author Bio –

Elizabeth Ireland discovered her passion for theater early. After receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in Theater, she accepted a teaching position in a vibrant performing arts department at a college in northern Illinois. For ten years, she taught, directed and ran front-of-house operations. American Theater History—particularly that of the 19th century—has always been of particular interest to her.

She has been a quarter-finalist and a semi-finalist for the Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowship in screenwriting sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Two of her screenplays have been optioned, but remain unproduced. Her nonfiction work, Women of Vision: Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives, was published in 2008. Her work has also been published in a collection of paranormal short stories, Paramourtal: Tales of Undying Love and Loving the Undead. She lives in metro Atlanta with her ever-patient husband, and two quirky dachshunds.

Social Media Links –

www.facebook.com/BackstageMystery/

www.BackstageMystery.com

http://@EbethIreland

Sitting Murder: A Baffling Victorian Whodunit (A Lancashire Detective Mystery) by AJ Wright

March 25, 2019 - 8:08 pm No Comments

Sitting Murder: A Baffling Victorian Whodunit (A Lancashire Detective Mystery) by AJ Wright

Published by Endeavour Quill on 1st March 2018

282 pages

Whilst I have not read any of the other books in the series, I did not have to worry as it worked as a standalone.

Detective Sergeant Brennan had been asked to investigate who was behind a death threat sent to a young widow. What made her special was since her husband died, she had been communicating with the dead.

This was an enjoyable read which I read fairly quickly. Brennan being a Catholic was very sceptical about the paranormal link. However, after there was a murder, he put his own beliefs aside. Whilst there were quite a few characters, it was easy to keep track of what was going on. As more information was found out, not only did Brennan’s suspect list begin to grow, so did mine.  

The atmospheric description has you feeling that you are there, walking down the foggy street, looking for a murderer. As this is historical fiction, the case has to be solved by good old fashion police work and as lately I have read mainly modern stories. It was a refreshing change to read. There were plenty of twists and red herrings to keep me guessing and the unmasking of the murderer was unexpected. A good relaxing read.