Book Review: Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

The book begins in 1348, and news of the plague has reached England.  As the first victims begin to fall, panic begins to spread.  Under strained circumstances, where no-one is willing to completely trust another, a diverse group of people are brought together, for no matter how suspicious you are, you will not survive alone.

This company comprises of Camelot, a disfigured travelling relic-seller and pedlar of hope; Zophiel, a magician and conjuror with a wagon full of secrets; Rodrigo, a musician and his apprentice, Jofre, both natives of Venice; Osmund and Adela, a young couple on the run, and who are expecting their first child; Pleasance, a herbalist and midwife; Cygnus a storyteller with one arm and one wing and finally, a small strange girl, Narigorm, who reads the runes.

The company are forced to travel around in England in an attempt to out-run the plague as it begins sweeping across the country, but that is not the only danger.  Food is scarce; the land is slowly starving as a result of bad weather and poor harvests, and everyone has secrets, dark secrets that they want to ensure remain hidden at all costs.  But as the book description explains:…the lies you tell will be the death of you.

Company of Liars is absorbing, compelling reading.  It is easy to get lost in Medieval England as Karen Maitland provides accurately vivid descriptions of both the places the company visit and the people they meet on their travels.

Religion, superstition, fear, persecution, desperation…Company of Liars has it all.  Everything about this book is engaging and more than anything, I had to keep reading to learn whether or not the plague would finally catch up with them, and if it did, who would survive.  There were many twists and turns in the plot to keep you guessing as to how the story would conclude.

Overall, Company of Liars was one of the best historical fiction novels I have read.  I expected no less from Karen Maitland and wasn’t disappointed.

I recommend this book to all lovers of historical fiction.  A great read!

Book Review: The Eleventh Question by Dianne Gray

The Eleventh Question is a fabulous tale…one that had me in tears a few times!  Indeed, I think it is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read, and no doubt one I shall return to read again and again…

The characters are believable and the storyline captivating; in fact, once I began this book, I could not stop reading it until I had reached the end!  Well done to the author for writing such an endearing, heart-warming tale that has the ability to move between the worlds of fantasy and real life with ease.  On the one hand we are following the tale of Arista, a fifteen year old girl who, whilst going through a difficult period in her life, is faced with the big philosophical questions that we as humans face.  On the other hand we have Caro facing questions of a more spiritual nature.  These threads are woven together splendidly as we are taken through two separate journeys of loss and confusion leading us towards hope, inspiration, understanding and ultimately, empowerment.

Arista’s tale is set on one side of the world, whilst Caro’s is set on the other.

Arista’s story involves her struggle with bullying at school and a mother facing struggles of her own – an abusive boyfriend, alcohol and gambling.  Eventually, Arista is sent to stay with a foster-carer, Frankie, who is a rural vet; however, it is the surprise arrival of Archie, a well-behaved and well-trained rottweiler, that in the end leads the teenager to a place where she feels like she belongs and is happy.

Caro’s is the aduyante (helper / acolyte) of a powerful Seer named Diosa, who waits and watches for those who ask the big questions.  Together, they witness Arista’s tale and all she faces as reaches the questions, one by one.  It is Caro’s job to describe the emotions Arista is feeling to the Seer, but along the way, he finds himself trying to understand his own feelings and emotions, and place in the world.

The Eleventh Question makes you see the world around you in a different light.  It is certainly a captivating read, one that can inspire and empower the reader.

Highly Recommended!

I downloaded this ebook for free when the author had the book on promotion at Smashwords.

Looking Ahead

Not to get ahead of myself, as ‘Indie Only’ month is still in full swing, but…I have been putting together a pile of books for Historical Fiction Month (August).  I couldn’t help myself…

historical fiction month books

The pile is a little ambitious, especially as I am also hoping to find a few historical fiction ebooks to add to the reading list too.  I know that there are certain offerings that I am definitely planning on reading…Karen Maitland, Lindsey Davis and Ellis Peters…

If you have any suggestions for Historical Fiction Month, please let me know.  Indie Only Month has introduced me to new a handful of new authors whose work I have thoroughly enjoyed, so understandably, I have high hopes for Historical Fiction Month too. :-)

Short Story Review: Witch Flame by Tara West

Witch Flame is the prelude to the Keepers of the Stones series by Tara West.

When Witch Flame begins, Feira has recently discovered that she possesses the powers of a witch.  However, she has also been orphaned and she is following the guidance offered to her on the wind, guiding her towards Aloa-Shay, the village by the sea.  On the journey there she is taken in by an old woman, Akahi, who raises her.  She can immediately tell that Feira is a witch, and she knows that if the villagers find out she won’t be safe.

As Feira grows up, living with Akahi, they managed to keep her secret, but they know that it can’t be kept forever.  Soon Feira and her lover, her destiny, are forced to flee from Aloa-Shay, and the abilities that she has been forced to keep hidden are soon necessary as they travel to the island of Shifting Sands, in the hope of finding a new home.  But what sort of welcome can they expect?

I really enjoyed this quick fantasy read.  I loved the concepts that the author works with, such as the Elementals.  There is a depth to the world that Feira lives in, and details provided brought it to life.  I am intrigued to learn what happens to Feira in the rest of the series.

Included with Witch Flame is a bonus story, or rather a creation myth that explains how the world that Feira lives in was created.  I found this to be a very interesting read and a great addition to the short story.

I downloaded this short story for free from Smashwords.

Short Story Review: Hope by Destiny Rose

Hope is a beautiful, highly emotional short story.

Christy is a teenager without hope.  She thinks that she has only one option, and that involves a gun.

Can her mother, who Christy feels hasn’t been listening to her, which is something that has contributed to her current state of mind, persuade her that actually she has more to live for than she thinks?

Hope is a poignant, well-written read.  It is very short, at only a couple of pages long, so if you have moment, I recommend that you give it a read.

I downloaded this free short story from Smashwords.

Short Story Review: Purple by Jennett Edmond

Josh Mclendon has spent the last month trying to find a cure for the purple plague.  However, seeing people die everyday and knowing that as yet he hasn’t been able to do anything about it is crushing him.  The only person who can make him feel better about what he is doing, who can make him believe in himself, is his wife, Arizona.

The question is, will Josh be able to find a cure before he becomes personally affected by the disease?

Purple is a tale of love and loss, and is full of emotion.  The story is engaging, the characters believable and the dialogue flows smoothly.

This short story is definitely worth a read.  It’s quick, enjoyable and engaging.  A great read.

I downloaded this free short story from Smashwords.

August is ‘Historical Fiction’ month at Sammi Loves Books!

Historical Fiction MonthFollowing the fun and success of July’s ‘Indie Only’ month at Sammi Loves Books, I thought I would do the whole thing again – with a different theme, of course!

So, for the whole of August I am planning on only reading and reviewing historical fiction on Sammi Loves Books.

If you have any recommendations, I am all ears…comment below or contact me via the form on the ‘contact me’ page.

I welcome suggestions that includes but is not limited to short works of fiction published on blogs and websites.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Sammi x


Please note:  Depending on the number of suggestions received it may not be possible to follow up every recommendation.