Philippa Gregory: Order of Darkness Vols i-iii
Published by Simon and Schuster 15th June 2017
A bind-up of the first three books in bestselling author Philippa Gregory's
rich, dramatic, atmospheric Order of Darkness series, launching a
fantastic new cover look! “deftly conceived … richly detailed” THE
DAILY TELEGRAPH on Changeling...
THE YEAR IS 1460 AND ALL SIGNS POINT
TO IT BEING THE END OF THE WORLD.
Accused of heresy and expelled from
his monastery, Luca Vero is recruited by a mysterious stranger to record the end
of the days. His first mission takes him to a nunnery where the women are
showing terrible signs of possession under an imprisoned Lady Abbess –
Isolde. Thrown together by danger, Luca and his true friend Freize,
alongside Isolde and her companion Ishraq, embark on a daring journey across
Europe, as they uncover the secrets of Order of Darkness, racing to stay ahead
of the end of the world. Dive deep into the world of medieval legends
and disentangle reality from fear: read the first three books in the Order
of Darkness series from the internationally renowned author of historical
fiction Philippa Gregory.
Philippa Gregory's Mediterranean Medieval trilogy gets five-star treatment from publisher Simon and Schuster in this blockbuster one-volume book. Immerse yourself in a time of heresy and sedition as Luca and Freize battle to stay alive while others around them are murdered or imprisoned.
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Adult Book of the Month #1: Winston Graham: The Four Swans
Published by Pan 1st June 2017
The Four Swans is the masterful sixth novel in Winston Graham's
sweeping series of Cornwall, Poldark. Cornwall 1795-1797. Although Ross Poldark – now something of a war hero –
seems secure in his hard-won prosperity, a new dilemma faces him in the sudden
infatuation of a young naval officer for his wife Demelza. All four women – the four swans – whose lives touch Ross’s, face a crisis in
these years. For his wife Demelza, his old love Elizabeth, his friend’s new wife
Caroline and for the unhappy Morwenna Chynoweth these are times of stress and
conflict. Published by Pan 1st June 2017.
For me, this is by far the best of the six Poldark novels so far republished by Pan to coincide with the brilliant BBC drama - the turbulent love lives of Demelza, Elizabeth, Morwenna and Caroline are all laid bare in the earthy tones of Winston Graham as he finally succumbs to the heady majesty of the superb female characters he has created and gives them their freedom to explore the world of love and lust in all its glory. Mesmerising stuff!
Adult Book of the Month #2: Philippa Gregory: The Last Tudor
Published by Simon and Schuster 8th August 2017
‘How long do I have?’ I force a laugh.
he says very quietly. ‘They have confirmed your sentence of death. You are to
be beheaded tomorrow. We don’t have long at all.’
was Queen of England for nine days. Using her position as cousin to the deceased
king, her father and his conspirators put her on the throne ahead of the king’s
half-sister Mary, who quickly mustered an army, claimed her crown and locked
Jane in the Tower. When Jane refused to betray her Protestant faith, Mary sent
her to the executioner’s block. There Jane turned her father’s greedy, failed
grab for power into her own brave and tragic martyrdom. ‘Learn you to
die’ is the advice that Jane gives in a letter to her younger sister
Katherine, who has no intention of dying. She intends to enjoy her beauty and
her youth and find love. But her lineage makes her a threat to the insecure and
infertile Queen Mary and, when Mary dies, to her sister Queen Elizabeth, who
will never allow Katherine to marry and produce a potential royal heir before
she does. So when Katherine’s secret marriage is revealed by her pregnancy, she
too must go to the Tower. ‘Farewell, my sister,’ writes Katherine
to the youngest Grey sister, Mary. A beautiful dwarf, disregarded by the court,
Mary finds it easy to keep secrets, especially her own, while avoiding
Elizabeth’s suspicious glare. After watching her sisters defy the queen, Mary is
aware of her own perilous position as a possible heir to the throne. But she is
determined to command her own destiny and be the last Tudor to risk her life in
matching wits with her ruthless and unforgiving cousin Elizabeth.
Forget everything you knew or thought you knew about Queen Elizabeth 1st - Philippa's latest (and possibly last) foray into the histories of Tudor England and the women who lived, loved and died during the period reveals a side to Elizabeth I for one never knew existed, and portrays her as something of a monster - obsessed with the belief that everyone was plotting against her, obsessed with Robert Dudley, obsessed with keeping the three Grey sisters and their offspring from inheriting the throne of England and going to any lengths to do so. Philippa reveals that very little is known about the Grey sisters, but what she has turned up is pure dynamite, and in her brilliant, expert hands, the Tudor court and Elizabeth's machinations are brought once more to life in a manner that no other historical novelist of the Tudors can match. Absolutely superb!
John Connolly: He
Published by Hodder & Stoughton 24th August 2017
John Connolly recreates the golden age of Hollywood for an intensely
compassionate study of the tension between commercial demands and artistic
integrity and the human frailties behind even the greatest of artists. An extraordinary reimagining of the life of one of the greatest screen
comedians the world has ever known: a man who knew both adoration and
humiliation; who loved, and was loved in turn; who betrayed, and was betrayed;
who never sought to cause pain to others, yet left a trail of affairs and broken
marriages in his wake . . . And whose life was ultimately defined by one relationship of such tenderness
and devotion that only death could sever it: his partnership with the man he
knew as Babe. he is Stan Laurel. But he did not really exist. Stan Laurel
was a fiction. With he, John Connolly recreates the golden age of Hollywood for an
intensely compassionate study of the tension between commercial demands and
artistic integrity, the human frailties behind even the greatest of artists, and
one of the most enduring and beloved partnerships in cinema history: Laurel
Beautifully written account of the life and times of Stan Laurel.
Tony Rea: Red Sky over Dartmoor
Published by Matador 28th June 2017
On a September morning in 1920, beneath a striking, vividly red sky, three
ex-soldiers meet in a sleepy Devonshire village. One of them is soon to die. Red
Sky Over Dartmoor is a fast-moving war novel, featuring everyday heroism and
moral failure. Marc Bergeron is a Canadian artillery captain who just can't keep
out of trouble. His gritty sidekick, Bombardier Ryan, is a wiry Irishman with a
reputation for fist fighting and deadly accuracy with a Mauser pistol. Whilst
fighting in France, Bergeron encounters the incompetent Major Cross and the
deplorable Captain Wadham, both of whom have an axe to grind with one of their
NCOs. When two suspicious deaths occur, Bergeron is determined to find those
responsible and ensure that justice is served. Tony's debut novel contains
meticulously researched historical references, complimented by brief historical
endnotes which separate fact from fiction. The fast-paced battle scenes are
interspersed with post-war events in south Devon, helping readers to observe the
effects of war on all those involved. Red Sky Over Dartmoor is a unique book
that will appeal to fans of historical and war fiction, as well as those with an
interest in Devon.
Santa Montefiore: The Last Secret of the Deverills
Published by Simon and Schuster 1th July 2017
Be swept away with beloved bestselling author Santa Montefiore and the
It is 1939 and peace has flourished since the
Great War ended. But much has changed for the Deverill family and now a new
generation is waiting in the wings.
Martha Wallace came to Dublin from
her home in America to find her birth mother. But instead she has lost her heart
to the impossibly charming JP Deverill. Then she discovers that her
mother comes from the same place as JP, and her fate seems
Bridie Doyle, now Countess di Marcantonio and mistress of
Castle Deverill, is determined to make the castle she used to work in her
home. But her flamboyant husband Cesare has other ideas. And as his eye
strays away from his wife, those close to the couple start to wonder if he
really is who he says he is.
Kitty Deverill has come to terms with
her life with her husband Robert, and their two children. But then Jack
O’Leary, the love of her life, returns to Ballinakelly. And this time his
heart belongs elsewhere…
This summer discover the dramatic
conclusion to the bestselling Deverill Chronicles.
It's difficult for me to go into too much depth without having read the previous volumes in what appears to be an excellent series - suffice to say that it has a brilliant mix of everything that's good about family stories - this will keep you going for ages on the beach and at bedtime. Superb.
David Collenette: Hawk's Cross
Published by The Book Guild 28th June 2017
Abandoned at birth, Matthew Hawk has established a reasonable existence
living on the streets of London, his only income coming from a remarkable and
unique talent. This solitary lifestyle suits Matthew until he crosses paths with
Ethan Connelly, a wealthy and extremely powerful man with a desperately
dangerous mind, who throws Matthew into a deadly and terrifying game with no
hope of success.
T C Sutton: Legacy of a Duellist
Published by The Book Guild 28th June 2017
A dirty ragged child wanders through woodlands, driven by a desperate need to
appease his hunger. Attracted by the sound of laughter and voices, he peers
through the undergrowth to be confronted by a scene so far divorced from his
limited experience that it appears magical in his eyes.
ragged scrap of humanity has no idea that the finger of fate is already writing
his story in the sands of time.
Circumstances gradually draw him into a
lifestyle that his humble birth right, in the early years of the eighteenth
century, could never have given him without the intervention of destiny. He will
find comfort, knowledge, and a family life. As he grows to adulthood he will
become affluent, knowledgeable and refined. He will become one of the upper
classes that he currently gazes on in such awe. Fickle fate, however, will
charge him a high price for the gifts it bestows on him…
He would know
the fear and desperation of the hunted felon.
He would know unbearable
Our unnamed protagonist will have to overcome the doubts and
uncertainties that the fear of death brings to all who stand on the field of
honour. Worst of all, he will have to endure the lonely isolation of someone
feared by his fellow man.
Fate, although bestowing her favours on him,
provides him with a destiny peopled by powerful enemies dedicated to his
destruction. They will ensure he must always be looking over his shoulder, never
daring to trust or to give friendship freely for fear of being betrayed and
delivered, helpless, to those who wished to destroy him.
Ultimately the path
of destiny will lead him to the final challenge, where he will look into the
jaws of death itself in order to gain his rightful legacy…
Rob Osborne: Anything Is Possible
Published by The Book Guild 28th June 2017
Matt leads an ordinary life, working at a bank in London. He whiles away the hours at his normal job, fantasising about a soap star, Abbey Jones – and can’t believe his luck when she arrives in his branch to make a cash withdrawal during a visit to London. However, during this once-in-alifetime moment, Matt makes a fool of himself and Abby is somewhat abrupt with him. Following a stream of events and another chance encounter, Matt and Abbey begin to develop feelings for each other. After all of these years spent yearning for Abbey, Matt does not feel an ordinary man like him can develop a sustainable relationship with someone so famous, which leads to their relationship breaking down. Will Matt and Abbey find a way to be together? Or will her fame destroy their chance of happiness? Anything is Possible has been inspired, in part, by Rob’s jobs in banking – from Nationwide Building Society to Alliance & Leicester and then Lloyds TSB.
Edward Forde Hickey: Footsteps In The Dew
Published by Matador 28th July 2017
Footsteps in the Dew is a novel which details the social history of rural
Ireland between the two World Wars. In days when the immediacy of television was
unavailable, the richness of human speech was the main source of daily
entertainment. These tales are written in a similar lyrical language as used by
a past generation of storytellers. They range from the uniqueness of family law
to tales of heroes, adventurers and even murderers. There is a dichotomy
expressed in the role of men and women towards nationalism, the gentry, the
clergy and also alternative faiths (e.g. Protestantism and Quakerism). The
freedom of men is noticeable (for it is only the men who spin tales) in contrast
to the yearly struggles of women and childbearing. One tale includes the stain
of illegitimacy and the ostracising of the young girl to lifelong 'laundry work'
with the nuns. As might be expected, the book ends with a tale of romantic love
-- of reconciliation and jubilation.
J Paul Henderson: Larry and the Dog People
Published by No Exit Press 10th August 2017
Larry MacCabe is a man who needs people more than most... The problem for
Larry is that most people have little need for him. Larry MacCabe walks along the hard shoulder of life with an empty gas can
in his hand. He's a retired academic, a widower, and, until a chance meeting
with Ms Parker, the administrator of a care home he's no longer allowed to
visit, he's also without associates. At her suggestion, he adopts a Bassett
Hound and joins Ms Parker and her friends at Georgetown's Volta Park one
Saturday. He becomes a regular visitor and, for the first time in his life, the
member of a gang whose affiliates number a waterfall tuner, an overweight museum
attendant, an ex-tank commander and a woman defined by her birth at the centre
of the United States. As the Dog People prepare for the annual Blessing of the Animals service on
the Feast Day of St Francis, Larry puts the finishing touches to his paper on
the Desert Land Act of 1877 and arranges for Wayne Trout, a challenged young man
he's met and befriended in the park, to house-sit while he delivers his paper in
Jerusalem. Neither the service nor his visit to Israel go to plan, and on his
return Larry is charged with conspiring to blow up a church and complicity in
the deaths of four people. All that stands between him and conviction is a personal injury lawyer called
Osmo McNulty - and things for Larry aren't looking good.
This is so different from mainstream adult fiction it's hard to know where to start. It's offbeat, qhacky, quirky, and brilliant fun!
Ian Williams: Beijing Smog
Published by Matador 28th May 2017
Set in contemporary China, Beijing Smog is a novel about deception. It is
about the power of online ridicule and rumour in a society where truth and
reality are about as clear as the thick smog, beneath which corrupt politicians
struggle for power, spies stalk cyberspace, and a bubble economy is about to
It is the story of an image, which is posted online as a joke,
goes viral, and ends up threatening the ruling Communist Party, which doesn’t
have a sense of humour.
It is built around three characters. A
21-year-old Chinese blogger who lives mostly in a virtual world beyond the
screen of his smartphone, and who first posts the image; a delusional British
businessman, still selling the China Miracle even as it crumbles around him, and
an American diplomat chasing cyber spies. Their individual stories collide as
the image takes on a life of its own in a bizarre and threatening way for them
all – but mostly for the Party.
Ian Williams’ cyber thriller takes
readers from Beijing’s smoggy streets to Shanghai’s historic Bund, from the
casinos of Macau to the grim factories of southern China, the ice sculptures of
freezing Harbin and the islands off the coast of Hong Kong.
is a gripping, character-led novel that takes a satirical look at the
topsy-turvy world that is modern China. An edgy and original approach, this
novel intelligently captures the madness, but also the corruption and dangers of
the People’s Republic and sheds light on the Westerners who have grown rich by
looking the other way.
Perfect for fans of classic, fast-moving
thrillers, Beijing Smog will also appeal to those with an interest in eastern
politics, economics and culture. Ian Williams has lived in and reported from
Asia for more than 20 years, travelling the length and breadth of China. He
draws on that experience to provide an authentic and realistic account of a
nation consistently shrouded in secrecy.
The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its sixteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.