Oathbreaker

If you have a moment, please have a read of my latest novel.  It’s currently available to read for free via Wattpad…Click the book cover below for the link…Thank you so much for your support ♥

~ Oathbreaker is now available to read in full on Wattpad ~

Longlisted for The Wattys 2018

Summary

Eleri, priestess of the Green Lady, has waited for so long to marry her tribe’s champion, Celyn. Finally, the date is set for Midsummer’s Eve, when the tribes have gathered in the valley to celebrate the longest day at the stone circle perched up on the hill. But nothing is as it seems…

A glimpse of a bird circling over the stones foretells of doom…and maybe even death.

An oath is made. An oath is broken. And Eleri’s life changes forever…

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Oathbreaker is a story inspired by ancient history, mythology, and the landscape. Set in the Iron Age, where there is no distinction between history and mythology, and where magic is as real as the ground beneath your feet, Oathbreaker charts the journey of Eleri, Priestess of the Green Lady, and the unusual quest she finds herself forced to make…

If you enjoy historical fiction, myths and legends, fantasy, adventure and romance, you might enjoy this too…

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Bookish Reflections – August 2018

A monthly round up of all things bookish at Sammi Loves Books…It’s my attempt at becoming more accountable in my reading and reviewing habits…


In a nutshell

It’s been another busy month.  Historical Fiction Month was, as always super fun.  I also managed to read and review a non-HMF selection, a poetry pamphlet, which was a treasure to read.  I’ve also decided to close to review requests after 14 September 2018 until 2019.  Away from reading, my own book, Oathbreaker, which I’m currently posting to Wattpad a chapter at a time, has made The Wattys 2018 Longlist, which was unexpected but extremely exciting.  For those interested, you can read it for FREE here, but I’ll also write a post about it over the next few days too.

Books I’ve reviewed

Favourite read of the month

Poseidon’s Gold by Lindsey Davis / Surfacing by Annest Gwilym

Books I’ve bought (or been given)

  • The Green Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock
  • The Anxiety Solution: A Quieter Mind, A Calmer You by Chloe Brotheridge

Books I’ve downloaded

  • None this month – thank heavens!

What I’ve been reading on Wattpad

  • Footsteps in Time by Sarah Woodbury

July’s “Read and Review” Goals*

  • The Merry Devils by Edward Marston
  • The Trip to Jerusalem by Edward Marston
  • Poseidon’s Gold by Lindsey Davis
  • The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland

* Light blue = review posted | Blue = review not posted | Black = did not read

What I’m reading and reviewing in September

  • Footsteps in Time by Sarah Woodbury (my last read for Historical Fiction Month – still reading)

For the rest of the month, I’m going unplanned.  My bookshelves are bursting, so there is plenty to choose from.

Goodreads Reading Challenge

My goal is 40.  I’ve read 28.  70% complete.  Currently 2 books ahead of schedule. (Yes, you read that right! This is the fourth month in a row that I’m ahead!)

Other reads (books not on Goodreads): 2 (Outside the Law by Anthony Berkeley | Surfacing by Annest Gwilym)

Total books read so far this year: 30

Book Review: Poseidon’s Gold by Lindsey Davis

Poseidon’s Gold is the fifth book in the Falco series by Lindsey Davis.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Wonderful as ever, Falco and the gang never disappoint.  A thoroughly engaging mystery, combined with sharp wit and historical detail.  A great book in a great series.  Highly recommended! 5 / 5

Summary (from back of book)

Rome AD 72: Marcus Didius Falco returns from a six-month mission to the German legions.  But trouble is in store for him: his apartment has been wrecked by squatters and an ex-legionary friend of his colourfully heroic brother Festus is demanding money, allegedly owed him as the result of one of Festus’ wild schemes.  Worse still, the only client Falco can get is his mother – who wants him to clear the family name.

Then just as Falco thinks things can only get better, fate takes a turn for the worse…The legionary is found viciously stabbed to death with Falco the prime suspect.  Now he has only three days to prove he is not a murderer, to trace the real suspect, amass evidence and win a fortune…

Favourite Quote

I narrowed it down to two…

He would have had more luck trying to dispute the philosophy that life is a bunch of whirling atoms with a half-naked, barely sober garland girl.

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Filial piety was not my strong point but I was willing to join in a fight.

Review

I love this series and am thoroughly enjoying revisiting these books.

In this instalment we are introduced to even more of Falco’s family as Falco’s dead older brother, the war hero Festus, is causing a spot of bother from beyond the grave.  In an attempt to clear his name of murder, Falco is forced to reconnect with his estranged father and together they try to piece together the mystery of Festus’ last trip home.

Lindsey Davis brings the Roman world to life with ease and in amazing colour.  Her characters are always believable and well-thought out and her storylines are gripping and full of plot twists that keep you reading and guessing.  The humour that is infused with the tale never fails to entertain and the multiple story threads are deftly woven together.  Historically accurate and brimming with detail and description without slowing the pace or making the reading too heavy, there is a reason why Lindsey Davis is one of my favourite authors and these books, some of my favourites.

With this story set in Rome itself as opposed to elsewhere in the empire, all my favourite characters make an appearance: Petro, Falco’s mum, Helena’s dad and now Falco’s Pa has been added to that list too.  It was great getting reacquainted with Falco’s numerous sisters – Maia is my favourite – and their husbands and children…However, the limelight is never taken away from Falco and Helena; they are simply wonderful and witty and I adore them.

If you’ve yet to read any of the Falco novels, I can’t recommend them highly enough.  I would suggest that you start the series at the beginning, not because the individual novels don’t work as standalones, but because they are all fantastic and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to skip even a moment of Falco’s company.  Next up in the series is my personal favourite, Last Act in Palmyra, and I can’t wait…

Rating

Book Review: The Trip to Jerusalem by Edward Marston


The Trip to Jerusalem is the third book in The Bracewell Mysteries by Edward Marston.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

An intriguing, convincing historical mystery with a great cast of characters.  Entertaining, enjoyable and highly recommended. 4 / 5

Summary (from back of book)

When the deathly horrors of the Black Plague decimate the audiences of London’s theatres, the acclaimed troupe of players called Lord Westfield’s Men take to the high road to seek out fresh audiences.  But wherever they go, they are thwarted by misfortune and baffled by mysteries.  Their scripts are stolen, their players abducted.  A dead man walks, and a beautiful woman hears the voice of God.

Only one man is clever enough to match swords with the troupe’s burgeoning troubles.  Upon Nicholas Bracewell, the company’s bookholder and mainstay, falls the burden that may cost him his life – as they head for an ancient inn called The Trip to Jerusalem, where the last act of a bloody drama is about to begin.

Favourite Quote

Death moved through the streets of London every day and sent loved ones to an early grave but the citizens of London were still not satisfied.  Private grief afflicted new families by the hour but there was still enough ghoulish interest left over to send a large crowd to Tyburn for the execution.

Review

I can’t help but love these books.  After reading the first one in the series, The Queen’s Head, a few years ago, I went out bought something like the next half a dozen or more because they are just that good.

There is a different tone to the mystery of this book compared to the two previously, at least at first.  As Lord Westfield’s Men travel north from London, their plans to bring their high quality theatre performances to a country audience are continually hampered by strange events that precede them.  The road is dangerous, the accommodation not up to standard and the theatrics are not kept to the stage.

A number of different things are going on in this story, and as it progresses, they are woven together to create an intriguing, convincing mystery.  There is drama (of course), romance (well, sort-of), political intrigue, religious disquiet and persecution, plague, petty rivalries, and so much more, combined with historical accuracy and vivid settings.

The characters are fantastic.  I’ve said in the reviews for the earlier books in the series, that I like Nicholas Bracewell.  He is interesting and yet compared to the other characters, especially the more outlandish actors (Lawrence Firethorn and Barnaby Gill, for example), and playwrights (Edmond Hoode), he comes across as understated but intrinsically important to the running of the theatre company.

I can’t recommend this series highly enough.  If you enjoy cosy historical mysteries, or are interested in the Elizabethan period, I think you might enjoy these.  I’m looking forward the reading book four in the series, The Nine Giants.

Rating

Book Review: Absolution by Murder by Peter Tremayne

Absolution by Murder is the first book in the Sister Fidelma Mysteries by Peter Tremayne.

Quick Review

Full of historical detail and drama, Absolution by Murder is an interesting mystery and Sister Fidelma, an interesting main character.  I will happily read more from this series.  3 / 5

Summary (from back of book)

As the leading churchmen and women gather at the Synod of Whitby in 664 AD to debate the rival merits of the Celtic and Roman Churches, tempers begin to fray.  Conspirators plot assassination, while mysterious, violent death stalks the shadowy cloisters of the Abbey of St Hilda.  When the Abbess Étain, a leading speaker for the Celtic Church, is found murdered suspicion inevitably rests on the Roman faction.

Attending the Synod is Fidelma, of the community of St Brigid of Kildare.  As an advocate of the Brehon Court, she is called on to investigate the murder with Brother Eadulf, of the Roman faction.  However, the two are so unlike that their partnership is described as that of a wolf and a fox – but which is which?

More gruesome deaths follow and the friction among the clerics could end in civil war.  Can the solution to the mysteries avert such a conflict?

Favourite Quote

I couldn’t decide between the two:

“Among our people the science of astrology has been far advanced.  Even the simple people are taught to know the sky and make simple astronomical observations in daily life.  Most know the hour of the night throughout the year by the position of the stars.”

*

‘…my aim must be to discover the murderer not to appease superstition.’

Review

Although this is the first book in the Sister Fidelma Mysteries by Peter Tremayne, this is in fact not my first meeting with the seventh century nun from Kildare.  I first encountered her in a short story in a historical mystery anthology, the story being Who Stole The Fish?  (You can read my review here.)  And, I really enjoyed that so my expectations were high for the first full-length book in the series.

However, although I did enjoy the story, I must admit I struggled with some of it, hence the three star rating.  Cosy historical mysteries are some of my favourite books to read, and this certainly fit the bill.  There is a great deal of historical detail, and the author’s background as a historian really shows through.  The setting was great, perfect for a murder mystery, as there were two opposing factions meeting in Whitby to decide and debate the future path of Christianity in Britain and Ireland.  However, so much historical explanation is needed (there are great number of important names to be listed and their roles and positions to be explained) that the pace of story is slow in places.

I both liked and disliked Sister Fidelma in this story.  I liked the fact that she was strong, independent, determined, well-educated and well-respected by those who know of her achievements.  But I didn’t always like her attitude.  The monk she is forced to work with on the case, the Saxon Brother Eadulf, was also likeable, and I would like to see how they get on in the future.

Will I read more of the series?  Yes, definitely.  I will keep my eye open for a copy of book 2, Shroud for the Archbishop.

Rating

Book Review: The Merry Devils by Edward Marston

The Merry Devils is the second book in The Bracewell Mysteries by Edward Marston.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

An enjoyable historical mystery, full of interesting characters, vivid settings and unexpected plot twists. 4.5 / 5

Summary (from back of book)

The audience was merry indeed when a third devilish imp bounded onstage to join the two that had been written into the script.  But backstage all was uproar.  The third demon seemed too much like the real thing.  Even Nicholas Bracewell, the company mainstay, was shaken when, next time the play was given, only one devil appeared.  The second, poor fellow, was now only a little red heap under the stage.  Dead.

Before the curtain rose again, Lord Westfield’s Men would suffer the sermons of a Puritan fanatic, the enchantment of passion, the terror of a London madhouse, prophecies of a famous alchemist, and danger as they’d never known it before…

Favourite Quote

The duty of a poet is to ask questions.  That can lead to danger.  Religion is there to reassure.  Art disturbs.

Review

It has been a few years since I read the first book in this series, The Queen’s Head (find my review here) but I remembered that I really enjoyed it.  So for my first read for my reading challenge, Historical Fiction Month, I decided to continue on with book two.  And I’m so pleased I did.  The characters and setting came back to me at once; there was an easy familiarity that I didn’t expect as it had been two and a half years or more since reading The Queen’s Head.  I take that as a sign of a great writer and a good book.

The opening paragraph immediately sets the scene for the reader, immersing us in the sights and sounds of Elizabethan London.  From then on, we are treated to fluid, vivid descriptions of all we can see and hear as the story unfolds.  The people and places of The Merry Devils come to life with ease and I felt as if I was there watching the story instead of reading the book.

Nicholas Bracewell is an interesting main character. We are offered glimpses of the life he led before becoming the book holder for Lord Westfield’s Men, but the past isn’t allowed to bog down the present.  The focus is very much on the theatre company and what they are faced with.

One of my favourite characters from this book was Dr Mordrake, who reminded me of Dr John Dee, the famous alchemist and astrologer (amongst other things) from the time period.  It is he who utters the quote above.

All-in-all, this is an enjoyable, quick read that isn’t too taxing on the brain, though it took me until almost the end to work out whodunnit! 🙂  In fact, I liked The Merry Devils so much, as soon as I finished it I started book three in the series, The Trip to Jerusalem.

Rating

4.5 / 5

Poetry Pamphlet Review: Surfacing by Annest Gwilym

Surfacing is Annest Gwilym’s debut collection of poetry, published by Lapwing Publications in 2018.  My thanks to Annest for providing me with a copy of the collection in return for an honest review.

About the Author (from back of pamphlet)

Annest Gwilym lives in North Wales, near the Snowdonia National Park.  Her writing has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies.  She has been placed in competitions winning one in recent years.  She is the editor of the webzine Nine Muses Poetry (https://ninemusespoetry.com/)

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Surfacing is a brave, powerful collection of poetry, charting a journey through darkness and back out into the light.  Well-written and moving, it leaves the reader feeling inspired by the time the final poem is reached.

Summary

Surfacing is a collection of nineteen poems, divided into three parts, that documents the author’s personal experience of mental illness.

Favourite Quote

…whisper that even / my broken glass / can become sea treasure

(from Beach pottery mosaic)

Review

I found the cover to this poetry pamphlet eye-catching.  The stark minimalism and the black and white photo draw the eye through the tunnel of the trees in centre of the cover, inviting the reader to open it and begin reading.

Immediately I discovered the poet has a beautiful way with words, creating images that are easy to visualise.  The collection is powerful and well-written, and each poem captures the attention of the one reading it.  There is no doubt that Annest Gwilym is brave and unwavering as she shares with the reader a glimpse into what she has endured.

Label is perhaps is the starkest of the poems, possessing a rawness of emotion in its simplicity.  Its topic is clear, there is no ambiguity within the words.  Those who have ever suffered from mental health issues will be able to point to it and say, “Yes, that’s exactly how I feel /felt.”  This poem moved me more than I say.

It was when I reached the end of Beach pottery mosaic (see the quote above) that I could really feel the movement and energy changing in the poems.  Those three lines speak of realisation, of awareness, of a joy in unearthing the possibility that the darkness might not last forever.  The poignancy of this really shines through.

The final poem of the collection, Today’s birdsong is turned up loud, was a joy to read and the perfect ending to the pamphlet.  The energy of the words, combined with the fluidity of the lines, evoke a sense of lightness…of happiness.

Surfacing is an emotional read, but one that leaves the reader feeling inspired.  I highly recommend it.

To learn more about Annest’s poetry pamphlet including how you can get your own copy, as well as read a sample of the poems, please click here.

Rating