Category: High Seas Epic

Book Review | “I, Walter” by Mike Hartner The first book in a #YALit series for #HistFic

Posted Friday, 30 January, 2015 by jorielov , , 3 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By:

I joined Kate Tilton’s Book Bloggers as a way to seek out stories written by emerging Self Published and/or Indie Published writers who might not otherwise get highlighted by book bloggers. This was the first novel that interested me to request for review, as I enjoyed reading the premise inasmuch as the request was to read outside of a firm deadline. This is not an organised blog tour, thereby those of us who request to read the books and/or host the authors Ms. Tilton organises is scheduled around our own time frames. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Mike Hartner, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Book Review | “I, Walter” by Mike Hartner The first book in a #YALit series for #HistFicI, Walter
by Mike Hartner
Source: Author via Kate Tilton's Book Bloggers

I, Walter is the first in a series of books in a saga which will span continents and time to arrive in present day North America.

Each in the series will be connected, though that connection may not be obvious for several more books.

It's almost like looking at a menorah. Many lines, seemingly individual, connect to center at different points.

Walter Crofter was born into Elizabethan England.

In a country and a time where favor and politics were both deadly, can an honest boy stay true to himself?

Especially given his family background?

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, Nautical Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0973356137

Series: The Eternity Series,

Published by Eternity4Popsicle Publishing

on 10th May, 2013

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 225

Published by: Eternity4Popsicle Publishing (Vancouver, British Columbia)

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #MikeHartner, #IWalter, #YALit

About Mike Hartner

Mike Hartner was born in Miami in 1965. He’s traveled much of the continental United States. He has several years post secondary education, and experience teaching and tutoring young adults. Hartner has owned and run a computer firm for more than twenty-five years. He now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife and child. They share the neighborhood and their son with his maternal grandparents.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
  • CanLit Reading Bingo Card 2015

Posted Friday, 30 January, 2015 by jorielov in 15th Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Canadian Literature, Cliffhanger Ending, Coming-Of Age, Elizabethan Era, England, Father-Daughter Relationships, High Seas Epic, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Kate Tilton's Book Bloggers, Kidnapping or Unexplained Disappearances, Nautical Fiction, Pirates and Swashbucklers, Spain, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, Vulgarity in Literature, Young Adult Fiction

+Blog Book Tour+ East India by Colin Falconer

Posted Friday, 15 August, 2014 by jorielov , , 2 Comments

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East India Blog Tour via HFVBTs

East India by Colin Falconer

Author Connections: Facebook | Blog

Converse on Twitter: #EastIndiaBlogTour
OR Tweet @Colin_Falconer

Published by: Cool Gus Publishing (@CoolGusPub), 8 July, 2014 | Page Count: 314
Available Format: Paperback | E-book 

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Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a stop on “East India” Virtual Book Tour, hosted by HFVBT, in which I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher Cool Gus Publishing in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Reason I felt compelled to Read:

I previously read: Isabella: Braveheart of France whilst it was on tour with HFVBTs, however I did not make a strong connection to the narrative voice nor the content therein. I always give authors the benefit of the doubt when I first pick up a novel by them where I felt disconnected; as it could simply be that that one particular story-line was not one I could soak into. This is why I always keep my mind open to re-examining a novel by an author I previously did not connect with directly and/or felt that perhaps either the style of their story-telling might not have been the best fit for me as well. We’re all individual readers, and our approach into stories is as varied as the seven seas, but when I read the premise of this particular selection, I found at the heart of East India were two classic story-telling elements that I instantly can connect with: high seas epics intermixed with adventure! I previously adored Close to the Wind by Zana Bell and The Lost Duchess by Jenny Barden, hence why I felt perhaps with this vein of narrative, I might find a connection with Colin Falconer’s style of historical fiction.

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Book Synopsis:

In any other circumstance but shipwreck, rape and murder, a man like Michiel van Texel would never have East India by Colin Falconermet a fine lady such as Cornelia Noorstrandt.

He was just a soldier, a sergeant in the Dutch East India company’s army, on his way from Amsterdam to the Indies to fight the Mataram. Such a woman was far above the likes of him.

But both their destinies intertwine far away from Holland, on some god-forsaken islands near the Great Southland. When their great ship, the Utrecht, founders far from home, surviving the Houtman Rocks is the least of their worries.

As they battle to survive and the bravest and the best reveal themselves for what they are, Cornelia’s only hope is a mercenary in a torn coat who shows her that a man is more than just manners and money.

He makes her one promise: ‘Even if God forsakes you, I will find you.’

But can he keep it?

Described by one critic as ‘Jack and Rose in the seventeenth century’, East India will keep you wondering until the final page.

Author Biography:

Colin FalconerBorn in London, Colin first trialed as a professional football player in England, and was eventually brought to Australia. He went to Sydney and worked in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has published over twenty novels and his work has so far been translated into 23 languages.

He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz.

His most recent novels are Silk Road, set in the 13th century, and Stigmata, set against the backdrop of the Albigensian Crusade in Southern France in 1209. He currently lives in Barcelona.

For more information please visit Colin Falconer’s blog . You can also find him on Facebook or follow on Twitter.


Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comA high seas epic adventure:

Falconer presents the cast of his story well as when you first open the pages of East India, you are brought full circle and center into each of the different character’s lives you are going to become fully acquainted with by the end of the story. What I appreciated was having a modern spin of focus at the opening, where you learn of how some of the main characters befell in death rather than in life; as the opening sequence is a forensic archaeological dig site, uncovering the skeletal remains of one of the key blokes of the story itself. I have a penchant for murder mysteries, and this non-traditional opening gave me a bit of insight as to the full scope of where the novel might take me over its course of being told. I liked how he kept the details simple yet telling in their depth of what was being revealed on the dig site itself. It left a curious taste of suspense, as to whether or not this story had more to share than first realised.

He paints the picture quite grim, as the conditions of tall ships and sailing great distances during centuries past is a well-documented living hell for those who dared to live and die by the sea. The rations of food being dispensed before land is seen again and the living squalor of having to deal with unsanitary refuse of living in tight quarters without ventilation and proper means of disposing of waste. Within this space of his narrative, he breathes a bit of light into how not all the men on the ship are hardened by their life’s work nor are they blind to how to best treat the gentler few who travel amongst them. The only bit that I denoted might have been a bit obvious was giving the captain a garnishing of brutish vile attributes, as that felt a bit cliche to me, but aside from that, I was caught up in the life above and below deck.

My Review of East India:

What stood out to me about East India is the energy Falconer stitched into the story, as he starts the novel off on a high note of intrigue, where a divide of class are brought together for the intention of leaving Holland in order to reach the Far East. A motley mix of everyday citizens, soldiers, and crew for the ship itself by which they are sailing are compelled to learn to live with one another for a sailing that will last nearly six months to reach their final destination. Each of them facing conditions that are riddled with strife for anyone taking to the high seas during that period of sea travel, as it was not the best of conditions aboard ship with the volatile seas churning against the ship itself provided the most arduous adaption for a person’s constitution, but it was also in how for a swallowing of time your entire world is confined to quarters and a few merciful glimpses of the deck.

I personally liked the interaction between Cornelia and two of the serving members of the crew, one is a soldier named Michiel van Texel and one is a Commander Ambrose Secor. Her fortitude of spirit to reach her husband currently settled in the East Indies enables her forward to transition through her own personal fears of leaving behind her country and the only life she knew whilst she was there. I like how her character is honestly written, including how she breaks her society’s etiquette by forging a bond with the two men as a way to not only give her hours a bit of worth, but to give her spirit a sense of connection outside the blight of her present circumstances.

Unfortunately for me, before I even went half-way into the novel I found myself in a bit of a quandary, as the vulgar aspects of the text were turning my mind against the story rather than merely showing a gruffness of the characters who live and die by their honour living on the sea. It was harder to shake off the choices Falconer was making to convey the darker pieces of the character’s souls against the thread of the story which interested me the most: the interactions Cornelia was having with Commander Secor and Texel. I decided for myself personally, I could not finish this novel as I simply did not want to even consider what might come next in the dialogue or narrative sequences. I think the writings of Colin Falconer are better suited to a reader who does not mind a rough approach to telling a story and for inclusion of passages that are more starkly raw in their contentions of narrative thought. I, personally appreciate an approach similar to the stories I mentioned earlier as to being of my liking.

On the writing style of Colin Falconer:

I’ve read two stories by this author now, and although the first disappointed me, this one held my attention to a certain point. His personal style of creating short chapters and cunning narrative within the short space of where each chapter begins and ends works for this particular story, as he is giving you just enough knowledge of where the characters are and where they need to be next to satisfy the curiosity you have as you read. I did not notice this to be jolting as I had originally with Isabella, as I rather noticed instead that the pace for me felt more tangible and true in East India. Except to say, in the end, I did feel disappointed as the momentum I felt when I began the novel ended up being dissolved by turns of phrase and descriptive choices that simply did not sit well with me visually.

Fly in the Ointment:

I did add the tag for Vulgarity in Literature, but blessedly, the occurrences are few and far between, although given the time and era of the novel, the brutish and disrespect for women aboard ship was par for course. However, the main reason I flagged this as a novel that twitched my brow a bit is the method of delivery and the insinuations that followed the stronger words of choice. There are various ways to approach language and supposition of where said language can take a reader whilst it is used to convey different emotions and actions per use. However, I do draw the straw a bit towards what I’m willing to read and what I am willing to accept. There are a few instances inside East India, where I felt a line was crossed or could have been better abated by a different choice of visual imagery.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comVirtual Road Map for
“East India” Blog Tour:

East India Blog Tour via HFVBTs

Be sure to scope out my

Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva

 to mark your calendars!!
As well as to see which events I will be hosting with:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBT

{SOURCES: Author photograph, Book Synopsis, Author Biography, and Book Cover of “East India” were provided by HFVBT and were used by permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Go Indie

Posted Friday, 15 August, 2014 by jorielov in 17th Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, Arranged Marriages in Royalty, Blog Tour Host, East India Company, Edward II, Fly in the Ointment, France, High Seas Epic, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Late Middle Ages (1300-1500)

+Blog Book Tour+ The Lost Duchess by Jenny Barden

Posted Friday, 20 June, 2014 by jorielov , , , 5 Comments

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The Lost Duchess by Jenny Barden

The Lost Duchess Virtual Book Tour with HFVBT

Published By: Ebury Press (), 5 June, 2014 (paperback)
an imprint of Random House Group, Ltd. UK ()

Official Author Websites: Site | Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Author is Active on: English Historical Fiction Authors Blog

Available Formats:  Hardcover, Paperback, & Ebook
Page Count: 448

Converse on Twitter: #LostDuchessBlogTour & #TheLostDuchess OR

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Lost Duchess” virtual book tour through HFVBT: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Jenny Barden, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Curiosity Inspired Me to Read:

I felt plumb delighted to read this novel as it sounded quite exciting if you ask me! I love the appeal of diving into the lost colonies and of course, who wouldn’t like a thriller set at sea and land?!

I am always a reader whose eye bewitches her attention from one period of history to another, and the one section of literature I have not yet rallied my will to venture into is that of the high seas epics! I have already earmarked off the novels of Patrick O’ Brian and others like him, who enhance my curiosity and warm me to the descriptions of life at sea. I am an adventurer in spirit, and as I had relaid to MaryLu Tyndall last year whilst she was touring the blogosphere for Forsaken Dreams, I felt inclined to tell her that if I had had the proposition to set sail for a new world and a new way of living, I’d have embarked on the journey forthwith! My mind furvoured over this recollection as I broached the premise of The Lost Duchess; twirling over in my mind if I was ready to set sail and fully breathe in narrative on the high seas! As you can see, the answer that bubbled to the surface was a resounding yes! And, I think a bit inspired by my fascination and delight in reading a ChocLitUK novel entitled: Close to the Wind!

I am always forever grateful when there are enclosures with the books I receive for review, in this particular case, the paperback copy of The Lost Duchess was signed by the author! She even went so far as to include a business card which features the book cover art and her contact information, as well as a lovely postcard which includes the book synopsis on one side and a framed book cover image on the opposite one! I am always marvelling at the little surprises authors and publishers tuck into books for book bloggers, because it is one step closer to keeping the circle between us an interactive experience. I even adore the Editor’s Notes that come inside ARCs or the extensive Press Releases which publishers generally tuck inside ARCs and finished copies alike! Little bobbles of joy which make me smile as I ease into the narratives at hand! A charming reminder that what we do as we blog is appreciated but more than that, that writers are as bookish as the readers who appreciate the opportunity to read their novels! In that, we all like to have little tangible memories to reflect back on our experiences, and I am always pleasantly delighted to find what is included inside my book parcels!

I cannot express my gratitude enough for the bookmarks, as previously mentioned mine are all packed along with my personal library (for the most part!). The little business card for The Lost Duchess held my place as I shifted through the pages, and it was as fondly used as the curious little business card I wished I had had for To Live Forever by Andra Wakins! I watched so many of Wakins “Natchez Trace videos” I nearly thought it would be a keen keepsake to have a little card as a nodding reminder of my connection to her experience and journey on the Trace! The happy bit for me is using bookmarks from various authors inside new books as they arrive to be read — little fingerprints of reflections drift through my mind and heart, as I nestle into the story at hand, and for that, I am one very blessed and thankful book blogger!

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Book Synopsis:

An epic Elizabethan adventure with a thriller pace and a high tension love story that moves from the palaces of England to the savage wilderness of the New World.

Emme Fifield has fallen about as far as a gentlewoman can.

Once a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, her only hope of surviving the scandal that threatens to engulf her is to escape England for a fresh start in the new America where nobody has ever heard of the Duchess of Somerset.

Emme joins Kit Doonan’s rag-tag band of idealists, desperados and misfits bound for Virginia. But such a voyage will be far from easy and Emme finds her attraction to the mysterious Doonan inconvenient to say the least.

As for Kit, the handsome mariner has spent years imprisoned by the Spanish, and living as an outlaw with a band of escaped slaves; he has his own inner demons to confront, and his own dark secrets to keep…

Ever since Sir Walter Raleigh’s settlement in Virginia was abandoned in 1587 its fate has remained a mystery; ‘The Lost Duchess’ explores what might have happened to the ill-starred ‘Lost Colony’ of Roanoke.

Author Biography:Jenny Barden

I’ve had a love of history and adventure ever since an encounter in infancy with a suit of armour at Tamworth Castle. Training as an artist, followed by a career as a city Jenny (Portrait 2)solicitor, did little to help displace my early dream of becoming a knight. A fascination with the Age of Discovery led to travels in South and Central America, and much of the inspiration for my debut came from retracing the footsteps of Francis Drake in Panama. The sequel centres on the first Elizabethan ‘lost colony’ of early Virginia. I am currently working on an epic adventure during the threat of invasion by the Spanish Armada.

My work has appeared in short story collections and anthologies and I’ve written for non-fiction publications including the Historical Novels Review. I am active in many organisations, having run the ‘Get Writing’ conferences for several years, and undertaken the co-ordination of the Historical Novel Society’s London Conference 2012. I am a member of that organisation as well as the Historical Writers’ Association, the Romantic Nevelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. I’ll be co-ordinating the RNA’s annual conference in 2014.

I have four children and now live on a farm in Dorset with my long suffering husband and an ever increasing assortment of animals.

I love travelling, art, reading and scrambling up hills and mountains (though I’m not so keen on coming down!).

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comA notation on Cover Art:

There are moments of great joy to discover a book cover as captivating as the one on The Lost Duchess. The moment you lock eyes with the woman who graces the page, you instinctively realise that you want to venture into her life and follow where she will lead. Her clothes are quite ornate, but it is the unexpected notice she is giving you that eludes the story will no doubt capture your full attention once it is begun to be consumed. She has a story to tell, and I knew that in combination with the book’s synopsis, this was a story I wanted to walk alongside her and know intimately.

There is a common debate I have noticed recently in the book blogosphere and the twitterverse, about the presumption of selection on the books we elect to read. One side claims it is by the book cover alone and the other side laments that it is on the merits of the story’s premise. I, on the other hand, have claimed to say:

Truly though, about why I am drawn into a book!? It goes directly into the heart of the narrative — I look for book synopsis which etch out a story-line full of heart & soul characters, who either need to go on a journey of discovery or are going to live through a life experience which will either shape them, break them, or transform them. Thinking back on my own young adult years — it was the story which took central focus – I have not changed my spots! My blog is aptly named as you get to know me! I might love a book cover, but I cannot love it fully unless I get a sense of the story within it – the cover is the shell, the heart of the joy in reading lies in the pages between the covers! -quoted from my comment on Ellen Mulholland’s blog

Mistress of the Sea by Jenny BardenFor you see, I may well fancy a book’s cover illustrations and artwork, but for me, if the book itself does not ink out a reason to savvy my interest and eyes to become enthralled with its contents, I am afraid I do not pick the book up irregardless of how much I might admit the cover is quite a remarkable piece of art. For to me, it is art then, and not a story of interest. I am not sure if the debate will ever be settled, but one thing I wanted to mention is how I appreciate book covers in successive order of release from authors have a ‘turning nod’ to each other. Case in point, is the début novel (Mistress of the Sea) by Ms. Barden (seen in this paragraph) whereupon the filigree edges and the atmosphere of colours selected against the backdrop are in tune with the cover for The Lost Duchess.

Previously, I observed the same keen attention given to the books of Stephanie Thornton, as I reviewed her second novel, Daughter of the Gods recently on another Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour. The connectiveness in sequence and choice of design makes me smile inwardly, because the covers then become a bit of a triptych when viewed alongside each other (if there are three in sequence, such as the Daughter of Boston series by Julie Lessman). I like this attention to nuance detail and the methodology of selecting covers which help readers identify the collective work of an author when they go to borrow or purchase their books. I will need to remember to add notations each time I discover this amongst the books I read next, as it is one detail that I appreciate most.

Aside from period specific choices in clothing, as although I do not always realise when I am being duped by period designs and examples, there are moments where I have an inclination to feel that perhaps the clothing or manner of style on a cover is a bit of out time for the story it is attempting to reflect. Barden’s covers are an elegant grace in excellence and her tomes of work will delight all the senses a reader uses to soak into a novel’s heart.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comMy Review of The Lost Duchess:

The Lost Duchess by Jenny BardenThe wide-eyed innocence of a maid-in-waiting to the Queen is ripped out of her bodice and attacked by a most vile individual who did not see Emme Fifield as a woman to respect and honour, but an object to possess. Her most tender courage of youthful spirit encapsulated her from the worst of the attack by muffling her angst ridden heart and the screams she would have belted to heaven if not in fear of the Queen, her liege in finding out the truth. Barden opens The Lost Duchess in such a powerful way as to beg the reader’s notice that what was once felt in locking eyes with Emme on the cover, now turns to an increasingly beguiling sense of knowing.

Her steadfast knowledge of a woman’s place in the Elizabethan age purported her plight, as she knew very well that if any person learnt of her disgrace of being attacked, the brunt of the burden would be solely placed on her shoulders. The rights of women then and the rights of women now are not so very far apart from each other when it comes to domestic violence and the collision of unwanted advances from men. Barden writ inside the passages following the attack a wholesome truth of the inner workings of a woman attempting to balance her reality of the incident against the reality of her place in court. Her life was a fragile balance of obligation, duty, and expected service to her Queen.

As we are gaining insight into her strength of character, we are seeing further into her courage as she decides to carry-on and forge ahead as though nothing sinister had occurred at all; as who is there to confide in when women are always viewed as being the harbingers of their own fate?

Emme is a woman who has vision outside the plight of her own circumstances, and on the confidence of the Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth I, (Sir Francis Walsingham) she endeavours to change her stars by her own conviction and merit of industry by joining the voyage back to the New World. She knows her future is blighted at best if she stays behind to face the uncivilous rumours head-on, but to jump aboard ship and sail to Virginia? To help forge a colony in the Chesapeake that is stronger and sturdier than that of Roanoke?! I must confess, as her mind danced with images of fanciful new dreams and possibilities, I was alongside her rallying hope and encouragement for what this new beginning would mean to her well-being.

Besmirched with the tides of fate, Emme and Kit, the man entrusted to keep her safe aboard ship each have their own personal reasons for sailing for presumed sanctity in Virginia. As I had the pleasure of seeing Belle on the silver screen for my birthday this year, (a mere week ago) I could settle in my mind the joy of seeing a father acknowledge his child; a child of biracial origins and one he most earnestly loved. Reading the passages where Kit was attempting to explain to his brother the true reason he wanted to pursue a new life abroad warmed my heart, as foresaid Belle was only recently seen and has already stitched itself into my most beloved motion pictures of recent years; akin to Amazing Grace! I also appreciated the character of Manteo who is a Native amongst the Britons travelling to and fro the New World. He was given full respect for his person and I liked his ease in conversing with Emme, as he did not see her as others might and she was in full appreciation for the reprieve.

As their journey led them to the New World, so too did their adventure lead them to a rebirth of living with the full grace of freedom transformed. I appreciated the hearty realism stitched into life on ship as much as the curious details woven into the days in which they were ashore in Roanoke. Barden took a fissure of disjointed and fragmented history, and pulled together a pliable accountment of what ‘could have been’ but of which will quite surely ‘never truly be known’ of the ill-fated attempt to colonise Virginia at that point in time. I must commend her for her vision, as this particular slice of history always fascinated me in school, always thirsty for new details or curious scenarios of possibilities, and in reading The Lost Duchess, I find myself bemuseful of how this story could very well have a stock in reality.

The only bits that I found a bit disconcerning at times were the visual nature of some of the scenes, yet I did not attach a ‘fly in the ointment’ to this post because quite frankly they were very few and far between. They only entered a scene when needed to express the seriousness of an attack; especially a fatal one where someone was brutally murdered by Natives in Roanoke where the colonists were attempting to take residence. I flitted over the passages because within the whole of the book, my heart was enraptured with the evolving story between Emme and Kit, who are the heroes of the tale!

The wordsmith stylings of Barden’s narrative was rapturously exaulted:

I am forevermore blessed to have stumbled across such wonderful wordsmiths who enlighten our minds with words of which are not commonly used nor known in today’s literature. Even those words which would be harkened back to an age of the historical page in which the story entreats our imaginations to venture, not every author is able to knit the ties of that era in such a way as to unite a clarity of speech. I am always in a celebratory mood when I find a writer whose pen inks out a frothy amount of phrase, word, and era specific mentionings as to help alight us in the setting in which the story takes place. I feared not the moment I opened this particular novel, as between the Chapter Heading Quotation disclosures of passages taken from historical documents (I presume?) to engage our eye in the real characters behind the fictional story, to the benefit of the words in which grace the pages, my mind was lit afire with a truism of the Elizabethan Court!

She takes you inside this unknown world with such a propensity for details and enriched voices of the past, that you feel as though you are stepping directly into Emme’s shoes, casting footfalls where she alights in Richmond Palace as much as the shores of the New World. I found myself eating the words and pages as readily as my eyes were able to absorb their murmurings, because I had found another new author of whose story was soaking into my heart and that swelled a sea of thankfulness inside my heart! And, prompted a most curious thought as to seek out Mistress of the Sea!

A note on behalf of Ebury Press sustainability conscience:

On the reverse cover of The Lost Duchess, I was happily struck by the presence of the FSC recognisble label! I had mentioned their conservation efforts to source paper without hurting old growth forests on a previous post, as I am attempting to make a reference note of each book I read henceforth forward that has a mention inside its sleeves for stewardship and sustainable printing practices. More and more publishers (from major trade to independent press) are striving towards finding greener ways to print books and thereby, proving the point that those of us who can only read books in print can effectively read greener! A bit like how each of us who purchases second-hand books is taking a step towards the unnecessity of successive printings of the same novel. I applaud Ebury Press and Random House Group, Ltd. for being part of the forebearers of change and for giving all readers everywhere something to chew on about how reading green does not have to be electronically originated.

They mention briefly about their green-minded practices on their FAQ page, but go into greater detail on their page dedicated to how they acquire the paper for the books they bind into print editions. The best bit for me is seeing their green practices go a bit past paper production and more towards the whole concept of being a green publisher using green resources!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comThis Book Review is courtesy of:

The Lost Duchess Virtual Book Tour with HFVBT

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comas I am happily honoured to be a blog tour hostess for:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBTPlease visit my Bookish Events page to stay in the know for upcoming events!

Reader Interactive Question:

I am curious, what are your impressions of the ill-fated colony of Roanoke!? Have you sought out previous stories set amidst the rumours of unknown truths!? What do you think is plausible to explain the fact they were never found and that the search continues to today for their ancestors!? There is a lovely ‘Author’s Note’ in the back of “The Lost Duchess” which goes into a bit of detail to explain not only the author’s take on the history but how history is continuing being penned as the research continues to seek out the truth of what happened to the colony. I was grateful the passages were included as they tethered all the pieces together in both fiction and reality.

{SOURCES: Book covers for “The Lost Duchess” & “Mistress of the Sea”, Author Biography, Book Synopsis, and blog tour badges  were provided by HFVBT – Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Author Interview badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.


Posted Friday, 20 June, 2014 by jorielov in 16th Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, Adulterous Affair, Blog Tour Host, Domestic Violence, Elizabethan Era, England, Green-Minded Publishers, High Seas Epic, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Modern British Literature, Native American Fiction, Nautical Fiction, Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Francis Walsingham, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sustainability Practices inside the Publishing Industry, Sustainable Forest Certification, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Tudor Era, Virginia, Women of Power & Rule, Women's Rights, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

+Book Review+ Close to the Wind by Zana Bell #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 25 January, 2014 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

Parajunkee DesignsCTTW_packshot-newClose to the Wind by Zana Bell

Author Connections:

Personal Site | Facebook | Twitter 

Converse via: #CloseToTheWind

Illustrated By: Berni Stevens

@circleoflebanon | Writer | Illustrator

Genre(s): Fiction | Romance | Historical 

Victorian | Adventure | High Seas Epic

Published by: ChocLitUK, 7 October 2013

Available Formats: Paperback, E-Book, Audiobook, & Large Print Page Count: 352

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Acquired Book By: 

I am a ChocLit reviewer who receives books of my choice in exchange for honest reviews! I received “Close to the Wind” from ChocLit via IPM (International Publisher’s Marketing) in exchange for an honest review! The book released on 7th October 2013. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I recently re-read “The House Girl” which touches on the true meaning behind ‘freedom’ and how to free ourselves not only from our given set of circumstances but by how listening to our inner hearts we can find the path we’re meant to be on. I found it interesting in this premise that the question of ‘freedom’ is broached again in a new vein, in regards of how to know the choices your making are leading you in the right direction. As much as when you eclipse to the point of securing your freedom what is the cost of the freedom your now living? I like books that make you think! And, definitely appreciate protagonists who are conflicted, searching, and determined!

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Book Synopsis:

What would you give to be free?

Georgiana da Silva is catapulted out of the Victorian drawing rooms and into a world of danger when she escapes her fiendish fiancé to engage in a mad dash across the world to save her brother before an unknown assassin can find him.

Meanwhile, Captain Harry Trent is setting sail for New Zealand. With a mission to complete and the law on his heels, he’s got enough trouble of his own without further complications.

Thrown together, unable to trust anyone, Georgiana and Harry are intent on fulfilling their missions despite the distractions of the other. But liberty comes at a price and the closer they get, the more they must question the true cost of being free.

Zana-Bell-author-RD-e1381951315337Author Biography:

Zana Bell lives in New Zealand. She describes herself as a big fan of Georgette Heyer and combines the elements of light-hearted romance with travel and adventure. Zana’s first book was a young adult time travel, published in New Zealand and Australia. Her second novel was an historical, based on the life and times of Charlotte Badger, convict, pirate and New Zealand’s first English woman immigrant. It was voted Single Titles 10 Best Books in 2008. She is also the author of two contemporary romances from Harlequin’s Super romance line. The first won a Cataromance Reviewer’s Choice award 2010. This is her début novel for Choc Lit and the return to her love of writing historical novels.

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Setting a course for New Zealand:

There is always a moment when a reader realises that they have jumped the moon and become fully absorbed into the story they are holding in their hands! The very moment the pages etch out of view, and your mind enchants you by placing you singularly into the world in which the characters are living. For me, it was the scene in which Georgiana realises the actions of what she set forth into motion have now landed her in the berth of a ship headed in the direction of New Zealand! The last time I was swept away into a high seas epic adventure was whilst in a darkened theater watching Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, which coincidentally I had only a murmuring of a knowledge of the books by O’ Brian prior to seeing the motion picture! I went with my Da because I knew he might appreciate it a bit more than my Mum! I was so enraptured by the breadth of the story, I only dared to scant my eyes away during the scenes of surgery above decks! What I love about the world of high seas epics, is that the whole of the story is taking place within a certain diameter of space! Tight quarters, tight ship, but an expanse of a stage set against the wills of man!

I have unearthed quite a heap of stories writ in this vein of thought, but I haven’t yet squared away the proper hours to address reading them! In this way, I was pleasantly surprised to find Close to the Wind offered in the ChocLit catalogue! The appeal factor for me is the thirst for adventure and for travelling into the charted and uncharted worlds where maps do not always foretell of being. To slip away from the life on land, giving your heart to the sea and seeing where the winds take you next — there is a happy allure in this, as it’s a pure sense of freedom as you change your own stars as you journey.

My Review of Close to the Wind:

Georgiana is not only fearless in her pursuit to reach New Zealand, but she is daring in her approach of how to sail. Taken with the confidence of her years of circus training in her youth, she devises a disguise she perfected in local theatre; of a boy rather than girl! Dressed in her brother’s clothes, with her hair chopped off into a lad’s level of trim, and her chest bound with cloth, she dares herself to believe the transformation in order to save her skin whilst sailing aboard the Sally! Her guile exterior belies her a bit as she attempts to forge a distance between her female tendencies and the brave face she must constantly place forward to blend in with the crew!

As she grows her confidence to man the decks as a swab, she finds it harder to squash the affection brewing inside her heart for Captain Trent. In turn, Trent is a man of precision skill in knowing his adversities as well as knowing of whom he can trust. He sees in George (Georgiana’s ingenious name to hide the obvious!) a story of unknown depths, as he could assert from their first meeting that there was something not quite true in George’s façade. The power struggle between is cleverly writ, as Georgiana is attempting to find the stance of strength whilst surrounded by the burliness of the crew, in an ill-attempt to reach her destination. Whereas Trent is trying to maintain the clarity of his role of Captain, without having a scamp of a pup needle his yawl.

By the time they pulled into the first port, after a raging storm changed the tides for both Georgiana & Trent, we were given the chance to see each of them in a new light. The addition of the mysteriously enchanting Consuela was a happy one indeed! She softened Georgiana’s temperament towards her own self-loathing as she harboured a distasteful self-image of herself. Consuela is like a moonstone of reason for both lead characters to either take heed of and seek advice, or to run reckless of in their own directions.

Georgiana and the Captain’s path divert away from each other, hers leading to a role of Governess, whilst his leads to a new reason to grieve for her fears about where their lives are leading. The solicitous of her desire to walk against her own nature and at the very same time embrace her gender is fodder to folly. I appreciate seeing how she is distressed one minute and on the brink of fanciful thoughts the next! The story is as much of a coming-of age tale as it is a suspenseful mystery. I love seeing characters’ futures become so intrinsically entwined with each other that they start to wonder when the other wasn’t in their life. The manner in which Bell re-asserted them into their journey towards New Zealand is beyond clever!

There is a sudden depth of knowledge ebbing out of Trent’s past life which provides a kaleidoscope of emotions; as you presumed he lived his life more of a pirate than a gent. A glimpse into his rough-hewn past reveals a vulnerable vein of humanity. It’s the choices that each have to make in successive chapters which will give way to where their fates are directing them. I personally was enthralled from the first chapter until the last — not wanting the action, the danger, or the intrigue to let up even an inch! This is definitely an enjoyable read for those who like a bit of a daring risk towards seeking freedom of its most innocent ideal! As much as it is an exposition on self-identity and the assurances we all seek to understand where we belong.

Intrigue and Adventure are Bell’s mischievous graces:

I lay claim that they are mischievous graces because Bell has a way with crafting a story to where the reader is as perplexed about the outcome as the central lead characters! She gives you insightful intrigue against the passionate escapades of the adventurous crew of Sally. She has you properly endeared to the ramshackle cast long before doubt can cloud your judgement of the truer hintings of what a few characters might be attempting to keep out of sight. I like writers whose research into their topic fades gently into the back-story of their novels, to where you are feeling the story evoked through you as you read rather than feeling bogged down in a thesis of its origins. I have a cursory knowledge of tall ships and the life therein, but as Bell helps nudge us forward in the narrative, you feel as though you have stepped aboard many a ship rather than a mere few!

Her grace of giving us a responsive Captain Trent, despite his flawed nature and his qualms over his past (mere presumed, he is not giving of his internal thoughts), he responds to his crew and to his charges alike. I like how strong he is represented and how you want to support him even though there could be an element of danger if you do. In Georgiana, I could relate to the strong will of a girl trying to forge her own way in the world, as she is writ with such a hearty girth of backbone despite her tendencies to swallow in her own fears. Her natural perseverance given to her by her upbringings in the circus lend well in her role on the ship as much as her interactions with each of the secondary characters who cross her path. She’s not the atypical Victorian lass and I thank Bell for writing her in this new light of boldness! Afterall, the society balls are only one way towards happiness, and if your feet are leading your path into new areas to tread, its best to follow where they plant you!

{NOTE: I marked this as ‘debut novel’ as this is Zana Bell’s first ChocLitUK novel; but not her first novel overall.}

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This book review is courtesy of ChocLitUK,

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*NEWSFLASH* : This marks my third *#ChocLitSaturdays*, where I will be spotlighting a book published by ChocLitUK! Coordinating bonus features will alight on my blog in forthcoming weeks! My next ChocLit review will be for “Dangerous Decisions”, on the 8th of February! I will be tweeting about it ahead time if you want to watch the hashtag for future announcements for this Jorie Loves A Story feature!

{SOURCES: Author photograph, Author Biography, Book Synopsis, and Book Cover were provided by ChocLitUK and were used by permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Book Review badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Jorie Loves A Story badge created by Ravven with edits by Jorie in FotoFlexer.}

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Posted Saturday, 25 January, 2014 by jorielov in 19th Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, Blog Tour Host, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Debut Novel, High Seas Epic, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Modern British Literature, New Zealand, Pirates and Swashbucklers, Romance Fiction, the Victorian era, Victorian Era