Category: Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction

#HistoricalMondays Book Review | “The Secret Heir (Book One: of the Saga of David and Secret Heir series) by Janice Broyles

Posted Monday, 13 January, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#HistoricalMondays blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. Whether I am reading selections from Indie Authors & publishers to Major Trade and either from mainstream or INSPY markets – I am finding myself happily residing in the Historical past each year I am a blogger.

What I have been thankful for all these years since 2013 is the beautiful blessing of discovering new areas of Historical History to explore through realistically compelling Historical narratives which put me on the front-lines of where History and human interest stories interconnect. It has also allowed me to dive deeper into the historic past and root out new decades, centuries and millenniums to explore. For this and the stories themselves which are part of the memories I cherish most as a book blogger I am grateful to be a part of the #HFVBTBlogTours blogger team.

I received a complimentary of “The Secret Heir” direct from the author Janice Broyles in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Why I wanted to read “The Secret Heir”:

I’ve had an interest in seeking out more Biblical Historical Fiction for the past few years – as each of us walks a life of faith and were raised in Protestant Christianity approach how we read the Bible differently. For me, I had hoped there were more ‘stories’ of the people in the Bible, more background on their lives & their everyday worlds; a more intimate portrait truly of how they lived not only reflected their character but of the ongoing changes in society and the world which was evolving forward from where it first began. There was a lot of change in Biblical times – especially when it came to power & to how those in power used theirs to manipulate events and/or cause harm rather than good.

This is why I’ve been seeking out either INSPY Non-Fiction which seeks to give you an easier way to digest the ‘biographical’ histories of the people of the Bible or INSPY Historical Fiction which in of itself is a beautiful new niche of joy for me because all the reasons I enjoy seeking out mainstream #HistFic are lovingly transferred over into the INSPY side of the ledger! This is where you can draw a more interpersonal view of the people you have heard about by name but perhaps never fully connected with previously? Similar to why you might feel curiously inclined to read any other Historical narrative – to step through the threshold of time and recapture a bit of the essence of not just the timestamp on the time machine but also the people who lived through those eras & generations.

Although I’ve known about King David, I can’t say I felt close to his story or to Michal. When I first read the premise of this novel, I did feel a bit cautious about reading it as I was worried about the levels of intensity when it comes to the more graphic way ‘some writers’ of Biblical Historical Fiction & mainstream Historical narratives take the reader back into a world which was a bit more brutal than any of us really realised.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

I elected to reach out to the author via HFVBTs
and asked a particular question regarding the content of the novel/series:

I know it’s Christian Historical Fiction but I’ve sometimes become burnt on this anyway – is this considered violently graphic or does she round off the harder edges of the violence and/or is it just suggested but never truly depicted? I wanted to ask this because as said sometimes I get burnt on what I am reading.

Broyles responded:

Yes, it is a clean read, but yes, there is violence. The books are retellings of David, and he was often at war or in battles, so there are scenes where that is depicted. Everything connects with the Bible though (and there’s a lot of violence in Scripture). I try not to go overboard, but there is some in there. The books are clean, as in there is no swearing, sex, or anything close to it. I’ve had a lot of conservative readers write great reviews.
Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

With this kind response, I felt I could handle the content within the context of the story and moved forward to host the blog tour. I am grateful I had the opportunity to begin this series from the beginning within “The Secret Heir” as I wanted to truly understand where we find David in the series and how his life leading up to his anointment was affecting the future we know of him better.

I decided to share this Q&A with my readers in case you had similar concerns about what you might find within the novel. I like to be transparent about how I make my own choices in literature & if something I’ve learnt can help another reader make better choices in their readerly lives, I feel better for the transparency. As otherwise, how would any of us know what we can handle or not handle!? This is why I love the book blogosphere and other bloggers who are being openly honest about the stories their reading & the content that either is agreeable for them as a reader or has some triggering effects which ought to be noted in case other readers shared the same response.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

#HistoricalMondays Book Review | “The Secret Heir (Book One: of the Saga of David and Secret Heir series) by Janice BroylesThe Secret Heir
Subtitle: A young man - anointed to be King - must first survive the king already on the throne.
by Janice Broyles
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Years before, he was anointed future king of Israel. Now if the sitting king learns of his secret, it will mean death for David and everyone in his family. David’s secret destiny becomes more complicated when he falls in love with King Saul’s daughter, Michal. He will do whatever it takes to secure her heart, provided she doesn’t find out that David is the rumored rival to her father’s throne.

Now that Michal is of age, the Queen determines her daughter must be married as soon as possible. Michal resigns herself to a pre-arranged marriage with a man she does not love. Then by fate or God’s providence she meets the handsome, young lyre player standing outside her father’s chambers.

One lives in a palace; the other sleeps under the stars. Though they come from vastly different worlds, Michal and David are drawn together. When King Saul uncovers David’s secret and vows to kill him, Michal is torn between her love for her father and feelings for David. Two kings, two men she deeply loves but for different reasons — one heart broken in two.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781946016539

Also by this author: Guest Post | Janice Broyles, The Runaway Heir

Also in this series: The Runaway Heir


Genres: Biblical Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction


Published by Heritage Beacon Fiction

on 11th July, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 286

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Saga of David and Secret Heir series series:

The Secret Heir by Janice BroylesThe Runaway Heir by Janice Broyles

The Secret Heir (book one)

The Runaway Heir (book two)

→ The Anointed Heir (book three) *forthcoming release!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Published by: Heritage Beacon Fiction (@heritagefiction)
an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (@LPCTweets)

Converse via: #HistFic or #HistNov; #KingDavid
+ #Biblical #HistoricalFictionand  #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

About Janice Broyles

Janice Broyles

Janice Broyles is an award-winning author. She resides in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where she teaches at a local college. She spends the majority of her free time researching history and retelling fantastical stories. Luckily her husband and two sons understand her passion for history and making stories come alive.

When not researching or writing, Janice Broyles enjoys spending time with her family and hanging out with her close circle of friends. The Runaway Heir is the second book to her David saga. The Secret Heir, released in 2018, is the first novel of the series.The Anointed Heir, the third book in the series, is set to be released by the end of 2020. Janice enjoys spending time with her husband of 23 years and their two sons and one dog.

Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Divider

Posted Monday, 13 January, 2020 by jorielov in 1020s BC, 11th Century BC, 2nd Millennium BC, Ancient Civilisation, Ancient Israel, Biblical Fiction, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Father-Daughter Relationships, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, History, Important Figures of Ancient Times, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, King Saul, Military Fiction

Author Interview featuring the debut war drama “Royal Beauty Bright” (A Novel of WWI) by Ryan Byrnes

Posted Friday, 8 November, 2019 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

Conversations with the Bookish badge created by Jorie in Canva

Good afternoon, dear hearts!

I read a very stirring war drama set against the back-drop of WWI this week, wherein it hinges itself to the very real Christmas miracle those men experienced during the first Christmas season of the war. It has become a story etched through various outlets of how a story can be told – from novels to films, but Byrnes took a new approach – where he placed a man with special needs (he has Autism) on the front lines and showed how sometimes in the middle of a war, the people you grew up with in a small community might hold the keys to your survival.

Today, I am warmly welcoming this debut Historical Fiction novelist to my blog, as I had some questions to ask him about his writing craft and the story itself. I wanted to find out a few details ‘behind the debut’ which might also be of interest to my readers and those visitors who are following the blog tour route – to see what has inspired this story to be told in the way it was published. It was a rather unique read – you find yourself shifting points of view from the past when Luther was growing up with Rodney to the present, where they are in the height of the conflict in No Man’s Land.

It is gruelingly realistic from that perspective but Byrnes tempers what he visually shows you with the humanistic side of how brother to brother, those men helped each other through the worst of it. It is a character driven plot and you find yourself drawn into how their lives have remained interconnected despite the fact they each have grown up into their lives and careers.

To shift the perspective off the battlefield – Byrnes hugged us close to those who were living outside the battles but were closer still to the war than we were stateside. These were the families left behind in the ruts of what was left behind to be found in the townes, cities and harbours where supplies could be loaded and unloaded; where replacements could be housed or routed through – where everyday life was half stalled due to the war and progressively moving forward all the same. Byrnes gives out the smaller details – of how these communities had to harden themselves against the war itself and of making their children feel less fearful of the changes – as they constantly had to re-direct their focus and attention off what was happening round them into something resembling the normalcy their lives had lost. It was a humbling moment where a writer offset the front by showing what ordinary Mums and grandmothers were doing to do their bit in keeping the younger generations shielded as best they could be from the realities crowding into their childhoods.

The best moment I felt where Byrnes showed how Mums raising special needs children assert their power and strength to those in authority who do not respect them is how Mrs Baker (Luther and Jim’s Mum) gave that Doctor a bit of a run for his money! I would have hoped it would have affected his approach to his doctoring of others but something told me he was as closed minded as they come and given the era he lived, it might be expected but it is never easy to read.

The most gutting scene of course is what happened to Rodney in No Man’s Land and I was thankful for how Byrnes approached writing the scene itself. It could have become more visually graphic and more gruesome to read – but the way he depicted that incident – it was poetic in how it gave conscience thought to what your thinking about in those heightened moments of trauma and how if you were a person who felt obligated to protect someone – how in your own moment of crisis, your thoughts are not your own and there is something else protecting you from the pain which was surely buckling your resolve.

Rodney was raised in the same village as Luther – though the two were never quite close, their Mums were more distant themselves. Yet, here at war, Rodney had taken a kindness on Luther and had vowed to watch over the man – this is why this was difficult to read, as whenever you begin a war drama it is a bit like re-embarking through the Titanic exhibit – not knowing which ticket you’re holding in your hands – First Class or Third; what that foretells of your destiny had you been the person whose ticket is now yours for the day. You have to take it step by step and work through the story because that is what is pivotal – how everyone becomes connected to everyone else and how without understand the invisible lines which connect us, they are dearly important to respect.

The further you move into the context of Royal Beauty Bright the more you understand how this is a generational montage of persons who grew up in the same small community and found themselves at war at the same location of each other and all of them were inter-connected through Luther. They shared a similar history of knowledge of his character and in many ways, had interactions with him in a previous life before the war itself had overtaken their lives. In this regard, the novel is a time shift – where you move from the present moments at the front of the war itself and then you re-shift backwards by a few decades to reach into their past, to see how they first interacted with each other and how that laid down the foundation of how they would become reconnected in the future. To bridge into the theory that for every person you meet in life it is unknown whom of which might become the most important person you need to know lateron.

-quoted from my review of Royal Beauty Bright

As you can see, Byrnes has written a dramatic war drama which puts you close to the war but re-focuses your attention on the men and women who were directly afflicted by that war. It is also a partial Epistolary novel on the level that there are a healthy collection of letters and correspondences which are also important in the context of the story.

If you haven’t had the chance to read this novel, I am hopeful you might find interest in either what I’ve shared on my review and/or inside this insightful interview with the author. Be sure to brew yourself a cuppa and find a comfy chair to enjoy what we’ve conversed about in regards to “Royal Beauty Bright”!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Author Interview featuring the debut war drama “Royal Beauty Bright” (A Novel of WWI) by Ryan ByrnesRoyal Beauty Bright
Subtitle: A Novel of World War I
by Ryan Byrnes

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781943075607

Also by this author: Royal Beauty Bright

Genres: Historical Fiction, War Drama


Published by Blank Slate Press

on 5th November, 2019

Pages: 304

Published by: Blank Slate Press (@blankslatepress)
an imprint of Amphorae Publishing (@amphoraepub)

Read the story behind this women and veteran owned publishing company

Converse via: #HistoricalFiction, #HistFic or #HistNov
+ #WWI war drama and  #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

About Ryan Byrnes

Ryan Byrnes

Ryan Byrnes is a St. Louis native. His first foray into writing was founding the publishing imprint, Avency Press, where he wrote one illustrated chapter book, The Adventures of Wheatail, and four young adult fantasy novels in the Son of Time series.

Since then, he has worked with a publishing company, a literary agency, and various aspiring writers seeking to self-publish. Ryan now lives in Iowa as a student in mechanical engineering and English. Between work hours, he builds Mars Rovers with his roommates, plays with cats, and watches Wes Anderson movies.

Read More

Divider

Posted Friday, 8 November, 2019 by jorielov in 20th Century, Blog Tour Host, During WWI, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, History, Mary Todd Lincoln, Military Families of the Deployed, Military Fiction, The World Wars, War Drama

Blog Book Tour (a pre-#blogmas Christmas Story) | “Royal Beauty Bright” (A Novel of WWI) by Ryan Byrnes

Posted Thursday, 7 November, 2019 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By:

I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring.

It has been a wicked fantastical journey into the heart of the historic past, wherein I’ve been blessed truly by discovering new timescapes, new living realities of the persons who once lived (ie. Biographical Historical Fiction) inasmuch as itched my healthy appetite for Cosy Historical Mysteries! If there is a #HistRom out there it is generally a beloved favourite and I love soaking into a wicked wonderful work of Historical Fiction where you feel the beauty of the historic world, the depth of the characters and the joyfulness in which the historical novelists brought everything to light in such a lovingly diverse palette of portraiture of the eras we become time travellers through their stories.

I received a complimentary of “Royal Beauty Bright” direct from the publisher Blank Slate Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Why I wanted to read “Royal Beauty Bright”:

I cannot remember when I first stumbled across the story of the truce of 1914 – however, it left quite the impression on me throughout the years. I’ve continued to find stories rooted round this phenom of WWI as well as select films – one of which I believe was released in French, which was one reason why I haven’t yet seen it as I wasn’t sure how much I would understand. Though technically I do watch foreign language films (such as those in Mandarin or Italian) but in this particular instance, I sometimes find French harder to follow as it is a language which has quite the fast clip of a pace to listen too.

Aside from those murmurs of insight, I haven’t had any direct readings about this particular moment in history which left such an endurable impression on every generations since the war era ended. It was a moment in time which no one felt could happen and yet it did. It was proving in a very humbling way there was still a heap of humanity left on the battlefield and how in at times of war, people can surprise you by their actions and the choices they make together.

Several years ago now, I made the conscience choice to re-select war dramas I am reading anchoured more into a human interest story, a romantic arc or a mystery plotting than I would continue to seek out war dramas which are more directly connected to the battles themselves. A few might slip into my readerly queues but overall, stories like “Royal Beauty Bright” are tipping my hat of interest more due to their humbling glimpse into the human condition and the enduring strength of all of us who simply want to see peace flourish in our world.

The irony of course is that this particular novel does take you directly into the heart of the battlefield – straight into No Man’s Land no less and hugs you close to where you would find the men who were serving on the front lines. However, part of me felt this would be a good choice to tuck closer to the truth of the truce and to find out might have inspired the action to host a cease-fire at Christmas; as that is what has always interested me the most – how did they choose to do that and take inaction at Christmas despite orders to do the opposite?

What also stood out to me is this a narrative with an autistic lead character and a diversely unique cast behind him – which gave further gravity to the fact not all the stories are yet known or readily told. I wanted to read this to see what the author’s vision was for the setting, the historic event itself and how he elected to have his characters in the middle of it all tell us a story which would touch our hearts and enrich our mind with their presence. It was also a selection I felt fitting as the lead-in towards seeking out #ChristmasReads & #ChristmasRomances as I seek out holiday stories which speak to me this holiday season 2019.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Blog Book Tour (a pre-#blogmas Christmas Story) | “Royal Beauty Bright” (A Novel of WWI) by Ryan ByrnesRoyal Beauty Bright
Subtitle: A Novel of World War I
by Ryan Byrnes
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781943075607

Also by this author: Royal Beauty Bright

Genres: Historical Fiction, War Drama


on 5th November, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 304

Published by: Blank Slate Press (@blankslatepress)
an imprint of Amphorae Publishing (@amphoraepub)

Read the story behind this women and veteran owned publishing company

Converse via: #HistoricalFiction, #HistFic or #HistNov
+ #WWI war drama and  #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

About Ryan Byrnes

Ryan Byrnes

Ryan Byrnes is a St. Louis native. His first foray into writing was founding the publishing imprint, Avency Press, where he wrote one illustrated chapter book, The Adventures of Wheatail, and four young adult fantasy novels in the Son of Time series.

Since then, he has worked with a publishing company, a literary agency, and various aspiring writers seeking to self-publish. Ryan now lives in Iowa as a student in mechanical engineering and English. Between work hours, he builds Mars Rovers with his roommates, plays with cats, and watches Wes Anderson movies.

Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Divider

Posted Thursday, 7 November, 2019 by jorielov in 20th Century, Blog Tour Host, During WWI, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, History, Mary Todd Lincoln, Military Families of the Deployed, Military Fiction, The World Wars, War Drama

Blog Book Tour | “The First Lady and the Rebel” by Susan Higginbotham (aka. #JorieReads more about the Civil War)

Posted Tuesday, 15 October, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By:

I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring.

It has been a wicked fantastical journey into the heart of the historic past, wherein I’ve been blessed truly by discovering new timescapes, new living realities of the persons who once lived (ie. Biographical Historical Fiction) inasmuch as itched my healthy appetite for Cosy Historical Mysteries! If there is a #HistRom out there it is generally a beloved favourite and I love soaking into a wicked wonderful work of Historical Fiction where you feel the beauty of the historic world, the depth of the characters and the joyfulness in which the historical novelists brought everything to light in such a lovingly diverse palette of portraiture of the eras we become time travellers through their stories.

I received a complimentary of “The First Lady and the Rebel” direct from the publisher Sourcebooks exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Why I wanted to read “The First Lady & the Rebel”:

I will say – when it comes to studying the Civil War, I am not the reader most would suspect would be interested. This stems from a bad experience of studying this era in high school – where the focus was askewed towards the Confederacy and excluded most of the context of the North’s position whilst it completely took out of proportion a lot of the crucial aspects of the war itself as  it related to Lincoln and his desire to end slavery.

There was a lot of frustrating moments for me realising that I had a full year of the Civil War ahead of me but without a lot of enjoyment to look forward to because it was all a regeneration of dates & facts; no biographical information on the persons involved, no stories in context or subtext and if it was outside the scope of the textbook, it simply did not exist. In other words, like a lot of structured education – my study of the Civil War was flawed. I was so discouraged by those semesters, I tabled any further research into Civil War History.

Although, being a reader of Historical Fiction – I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for stories which might tuck me back into the folds of this war in a way where my studies failed to take me originally. When I read the premise of “The First Lady & the Rebel” – I thought, perhaps for once, I’ve found the story I wished I could have read in high school. Where there is a balance of focus between the North & South with both perspectives presented in equal measure & worth to each other and where the reader gains a keen insight into what fuelled the war itself and how important it is to remember what caused the division of the States due to how far reaching the end result has become to modern history.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Blog Book Tour | “The First Lady and the Rebel” by Susan Higginbotham (aka. #JorieReads more about the Civil War)The First Lady and the Rebel
Subtitle: One North. One South. Two Todd Sisters Fighting to Shape Lincon's War.
by Susan Higginbotham
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

From the celebrated author Susan Higginbotham comes the incredible story of Lincoln’s First Lady

A Union’s First Lady

As the Civil War cracks the country in two, Mary Lincoln stands beside her husband praying for a swift Northern victory. But as the body count rises, Mary can’t help but fear each bloody gain. Because her beloved sister Emily is across party lines, fighting for the South, and Mary is at risk of losing both her country and her family in the tides of a brutal war.

A Confederate Rebel’s Wife

Emily Todd Helm has married the love of her life. But when her husband’s southern ties pull them into a war neither want to join, she must make a choice. Abandon the family she has built in the South or fight against the sister she has always loved best.

With a country’s legacy at stake, how will two sisters shape history?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781492647089

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Women's Fiction, Presidential Life & History, Southern Lit, War Drama


Published by Sourcebooks Landmark

on 1st October, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 386

Published by: Sourcebooks Landmark (@sbkslandmark)
an imprint of Sourcebooks (@Sourcebooks)

Converse via: #HistoricalFiction, #HistFic or #HistNov
and #MaryToddLincoln, #Lincoln, #CivilWarHistory or  #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Divider

Posted Tuesday, 15 October, 2019 by jorielov in 19th Century, Abraham Lincoln, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Civil War era, Civil War History | era, Content Note, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, History, Literary Fiction, Mary Todd Lincoln, Mid-West America, Military Fiction, Presidential Life & History, Women's Fiction

Book Review | “Queen’s Gambit” (Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle series, Book Two) by Bradley Harper In this sequel to “A Knife in the Fog” Doyle is not the centre of focus, Margaret Harkness takes the lead!

Posted Wednesday, 18 September, 2019 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction. However, their imprints Seventh Street Books & Pyr were merged into Start Publishing in [2019] – wherein I had the pleasure of being approached by their new publicity team via Kaye Publicity in Spring 2019 wherein I was first introduced to the Spice Shop Mysteries as I was told about a forthcoming release [for June] was “Chai Another Day”. From there, I started to work with Kaye Publicity to continue reviewing Seventh Street Book titles and author releases I am both familiar with and/or are considered “new authors” to my readerly life.

As an aside, despite the fact Seventh Street Books has been bought out by Smart Publishing – all links to their website and social accounts have remained active and use the same urls. The new publisher has maintained all their sites and thereby, the transition was seamless for readers who wanted to keep in touch with the authors and the series they come to love by Seventh Street Books & Pyr!

I received a complimentary copy of “Queen’s Gambit” direct from the publisher Seventh Street Books (an imprint of Start Science Fiction) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

On what I enjoyed in the pages of “A Knife in the Fog”:

This novel begins the series introducing us to all the key characters – from Professor Bell, to Arthur Conan Doyle and Margaret Harkness. As the series progresses forward – the characters shift in focus & share the lead.

A reflectively pensive voice gives us the impression the following account of an investigation into the Ripper murders of East London was in effect not only of profound impact on the narrator of this story (of whom I presumed immediately was Conan Doyle) but was in reality, an important marker of time for this person. It envelopes itself into a pertinent relationship of mind and arms; of a person who not only of equal mirth of enquiry and investigative instincts but of common interests and conveyances which were equally dynamic in their own rights. It is here – within the fragmented touchstones of what is yet to come where you start to distinguish the ‘voice’ of the novel A Knife in the Fog to being very decisively Holmesian.

Doyle, similar to Holmes does not suffer fools gently nor does he wish his personal or professional time to be waylaid but people who are less than honest with him on first meeting. It is here where you can infer how much Harper was researching his protagonist not just as the subject study to influence his own series but how Doyle himself could embody a lot of the characteristics we’ve all come to love in our beloved Holmes; than thus even more readily, it would be Harper who gives us a fuller advantage of seeing the inspiration behind Watson. The interesting bit here is of whom was the inspiring force behind both characters as your own mind might have readily adapted itself to thinking it was Doyle to Holmes and Dr Bell to Watson when the reality of the truth is a bit more intriguing to say the least! For my own capacity of interest – I did vacillate at first to make the distinction myself – as there are aspects of both men within both characters, however, there are firm clues towards whom is whom so to speak throughout the narrative Harper has delivered leading to the truer truth behind the designation of which current characters elude to the infamous ones!

Finding little details of historical influence and relevancy like this uncomfortable reaction in Doyle made it a joy to read A Knife in the Fog – as there are other small touches of where the past feels ever-present and where the narrative has a lovely tone and style of being decidedly British and Historical in scope. I believe it is this kind of detailed fine tuning in the story which help alight you into the era we’re being presented – it is lovely when you can find writers who are going the extra mile to give us a presentation of an era which we can find plausible and believable like what Mr Harper has done within his series. Although some of his words and phrasing is wickedly British, he does revert back to writing this in an American voice – I would have preferred it to be more British in the choices of words but blessedly it felt British by how he conveyed the backdrop of the setting and how he approached our immersion into Doyle’s life.

I, on the other hand, took an immediate liking to Margaret – she was her own person, owning her truths and her way of life with the confidence you’d expect from a woman of her nature. She did not apologise for her choices in life (nor should she) and she had an upper edge against Doyle as his presumptive assumptions about her were loudly present even if they were left unsaid aloud. Harkness is the kind of no-nonsense woman who was game for anything and had this zest for believing she could accomplish whatever she needed to simply due to the courage she had to believe in herself. Ironically, her dedication and her fortitude seemed lost on Doyle – at least at this first crossing of their paths.

You truly appreciate how Harper has sharpened our impression of Harkness, as my favourite passage which involves her and Doyle at this junction of the story is when she saves him from a would-be robber. The event itself isn’t a spoiler for the story but it is a clear representation of how foiled Doyle was in thinking he would have held an upper hand in this situation. I love how Harkness not only re-proves the point about how women can be independently secure in their beings but also be resourceful enough to intervene whenever danger arises. It was a classy look at how misconceptions in gender and how unnecessary misunderstandings within the classes of gender can put undo judgement against people. I personally felt it was a rather fitting sequence as it set a tone for how Doyle would view Harkness and how Harkness would become endeared to the reader.

I had a feeling I knew where A Knife in the Fog was directing me in regards to whom would become unmasked as the Ripper. Harper did something quite classic in how he developed the story-line, the characters and the persons of whom they encountered along the route of the story as it shifted forward – he kept you close to the dialogue, the discoveries and the case as it evolved through the investigation. All of which is brilliantly within the guise of the genre this story is set but he also did a hat trick from a magician’s bag of tricks – he re-directed your attention away from something you might have clued in on more readily if you weren’t equally distracted from addressing what it was you thought you had picked up on earlier in the story! Laughs. I actually was quite impressed how long the suspense lasted as it takes you straight (almost!) to the concluding chapters to where Harper knits together the conclusion (some) readers might not expect to be the solution to the mysterious identity of the Ripper. I, for one, felt it was a right proper choice – it staid within the scope of the journey we took walking beside Conan Doyle, Harkness and Bell whilst it also eluded to a reality you could find believable about this infamous case of crime.

It is in the final chapter wherein I felt reconnected to Conan Doyle – as for me, he held within his character (within the scope of the series) a bit more Holmesian attributes than I think Harper even realised he had etched into his nature. He might have meant for us to view Doyle differently but in the final chapter, there was a brilliant moment of recognition and also quiet acceptance of how this characterisation of Conan Doyle was a classic representation of why I have loved Sherlock Holmes. It is fitting truly, Harper has found his voice in fiction to be fulfilling a missing gap in stories which I believe the real Conan Doyle would have appreciated had he lived to see their publication.

-quoted from my review of A Knife in the Fog

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Book Review | “Queen’s Gambit” (Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle series, Book Two) by Bradley Harper In this sequel to “A Knife in the Fog” Doyle is not the centre of focus, Margaret Harkness takes the lead!Queen's Gambit
Subtitle: A Mystery Featuring Margaret Harkness
by Bradley Harper
Source: Direct from Publisher

Spring, 1897. London. Margaret Harkness, now in her early forties, must leave England for her health but lacks the funds. A letter arrives from her old friend Professor Bell, her old comrade in the hunt for Jack the Ripper and the real-life inspiration for Sherlock Holmes.

Bell invites her to join him in Germany on a mysterious mission for the German government involving the loss of state secrets to Anarchists. The resolution of this commission leads to her being stalked through the streets of London by a vengeful man armed with a powerful and nearly silent air rifle who has both Margaret and Queen Victoria in his sights. Margaret finds allies in Inspector James Ethington of Scotland Yard and his fifteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, who aspires to follow in Margaret's cross-dressing footsteps.

The hunt is on, but who is the hunter, and who the hunted as the day approaches for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee when the aged empress will sit in her open carriage at the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral? The entire British Empire holds its breath as the assassin, Margaret, and the Queen herself play for the highest of stakes with the Queen’s Gambit.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781645060017

Also by this author: A Knife in the Fog, A Knife in the Fog (Interview)

Also in this series: A Knife in the Fog, A Knife in the Fog (Interview)


Genres: Amateur Detective, Classic Detective, Crime Fiction, Feminist Historical Fiction, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense


Published by Seventh Street Books

on 17th September, 2019

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 288

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Margaret Harkness & Arthur Conan Doyle Mysteries:

per each installment either both are featured or only Harkness takes the lead

A Knife in the Fog by Bradley HarperQueen's Gambit by Bradley Harper

A Knife in the Fog (book one) – (see also review)

Queen’s Gambit (book two)

  • more installments are forthcoming!

This Summer I also featured an Interview with Mr Harper

Published By: Seventh Street Books (@SeventhStBooks)
an imprint of Start Science Fiction, part of Start Publishing

Converse via: #QueensGambit, #HistNov and #HistFic OR #HistoricalThriller
Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

About Bradley Harper

Bradley Harper

Bradley Harper is a retired US Army Pathologist with over thirty-seven years of worldwide military/medical experience, ultimately serving as a Colonel/Physician in the Pentagon. During his Army career, Harper performed some two hundred autopsies, twenty of which were forensic.

Upon retiring from the Army, Harper earned an Associate's Degree in Creative Writing from Full Sail University. He has been published in The Strand Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine and a short story he wrote involving Professor Moriarty in the Holmes tale of The Red Headed League (entitled The Red Herring League) won Honorable Mention in an international short fiction contest. A member of the Mystery Writers of America, Authors Guild, and Sisters in Crime, Harper is a regular contributor to the Sisters in Crime bi-monthly newsletter.

Harper’s first novel, A Knife in the Fog, involves a young Arthur Conan Doyle joining in the hunt for Jack the Ripper, and has been nominated for an 2019 Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel by an American Author.

Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Divider

Posted Wednesday, 18 September, 2019 by jorielov in 19th Century, After the Canon, Amateur Detective, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Crime Fiction, Detective Fiction, England, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Margaret Harkness, Paste Creative, Realistic Fiction, the Victorian era