Book Review : The Gilded Fan by Christina Courtenay

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REVIEW

I have always enjoyed Christina Courtenay’s books and this one was no exception. An adventure across continents, where different cultures meet, we follow Midori and Nico as they set sail from Japan to England.

Midori was a great character with mixed heritage, a Japanese father and an English mother, she could wield a sword as good as any man, if not better. She was fiercely independent and determined to deal honourably with the situation that forced her to escape from her beloved Japan and seek refuge with her English family in Plymouth.

Nico, captain of the ship that carried Midori to England, was simply delicious. A true leader, strong and well respected, fair and with a gentler side when needed. His meeting with Midori presented itself with all sorts of problems from the start and took him not only to physical places he had no intention of going, but to emotional places which he had long since buried.

Set in the 1600’s, with the English Civil War as a backdrop, there was lots of action and adventure in this book, together with a healthy dose of romance, I really enjoyed spending time with these characters.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

How do you start a new life, leaving behind all you love?

It’s 1641, and when Midori Kumashiro, the orphaned daughter of a warlord, is told she has to leave Japan or die, she has no choice but to flee to England. Midori is trained in the arts of war, but is that enough to help her survive a journey, with a lecherous crew and an attractive captain she doesn’t trust?

Having come to Nagasaki to trade, the last thing Captain Nico Noordholt wants is a female passenger, especially a beautiful one. How can he protect her from his crew when he can’t keep his own eyes off her?

During their journey, Nico and Midori form a tentative bond, but they both have secrets that can change everything. When they arrive in England, a civil war is brewing, and only by standing together can they hope to survive…

AUTHOR LINKS

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www.christinacourtenay.com

Twitter : @PiaCCourtenay

Publishers : ChocLitUK

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Behind the Book and Cover Reveal : ‘The Red Effect’ by Harvey Black

Today I’m delighted to have on my blog, author of military thrillers, Harvey Black.

Harvey is here to talk about the historical facts behind his novel ‘The Red Effect’ and to reveal the cover. Over to you Harvey …

“Today, West German imperialism is United States’ chief ally in Europe in aggravating world tension. West Germany is increasingly becoming the seat of the war danger, where revenge-seeking passions are running high… The policy pursued by the Federal Republic of Germany is being increasingly determined by the same monopolies that brought Hitler to power.

The Rhineland politicians fancy that once they get the atomic bomb, frontier posts will topple and they will be able to achieve their cherished desire of carving up the map of Europe again and taking revenge for defeat in the second world war.

One of the most ominous factors endangering peace is the bilateral military alliance that is taking shape between the ruling circles of the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany. This factor remains an objective of unflagging attention.” (Leonid Brezhnev, 23rd Party Congress, March 1966)

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The Cold War and Nitroglycerin had one thing in common, both were stable when circumstances allowed. But, when something rocks the boat, or events are overtaken by Incidents that get out of control, the status quo is lost. The consequence is an eruption that is both violent and lethal.

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The Cold War trilogy will trace the Cold War as it simmers, overheats and eventually turns East against West. The outcome? Start with ‘The Red Effect’ out in April, followed by ‘The Black Effect’ and ‘The Blue Effect’.

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1983: The Cold War has been in existence since the end of World War Two. Although tensions have always been fraught between the Western nations and the members of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact, common sense prevailed.

Until, as a consequence of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, the shooting down of a Korean passenger aircraft in 1983, and the relentless build up of Soviet military strength, everything is about to change.

In a panoramic novel, readers travel from centres of power to the front lines – a war is brewing and events are happening at every angle. Is the Cold War about to turn hot? Can NATO forces endure a mass strike by thousands of Soviet tanks? Can the West survive?

Follow the series of gripping events that culminated in ‘The Red Effect’, in the first instalment of Harvey Black’s Cold War trilogy.

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Harvey Black is a qualified parachutist. Harvey served with British Army Intelligence for over ten years. His experience ranged from covert surveillance in Northern Ireland to operating in Communist East Berlin during the cold war, where he feared for his life after being dragged from his car and attacked by Russian KGB soldiers. Since then he has lived a more sedate life in the private sector as a Director for an International Company, but now enjoys the pleasures of writing.

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Thank you Harvey and very best of luck with ‘The Red Effect‘, I shall certainly be reading it 🙂
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Book Review of Gray Justice by Alan McDermott

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About the Book

Gray Justice is the fast-paced debut thriller from Alan McDermott. When a killer walks free from court, the victim’s father sees just two options: accept the judge’s decision; or take on the entire British justice system. Tom Gray chooses the latter and his crusade attracts instant worldwide media coverage. It was just what Tom was hoping for, but it brought him a lot more than he bargained for.
Gray Justice is much more than a simple tale of revenge: it’s a roller coaster ride with an ending you’ll never forget!

My Review

At first you could be forgiven for second guessing how the plot might go; an ex-SAS soldier seeking revenge for the unlawful death of his son and subsequent suicide of his wife. Cue ex-SAS guy blasting away with a semi-automatic rifle, car chases, fist fights, killing all the bad guys but ultimately coming out a hero.  Well, Gray Justice doesn’t quite go like that, it tackles the need for revenge in a rather unique way.

Gray Justice is a fast paced, action packed thriller. Yes, there was a shoot-em-up gun battle, explosions and death, but it wasn’t over-done and it was perfectly fitting of the plot.  The premise of Gray’s revenge was very thought provoking and it did make me stop and think. Without giving anything away, the method Gray uses to decide what justice to dish out is something that could prompt a healthy debate over a pint or two.

The ending wasn’t exactly what I was expecting and leaves the door open to the sequels which I shall definitely be reading.

Gray Justice is currently available FREE on Amazon.

About the author

alan mcdermott

Alan McDermott is a software developer from the south of England, married with beautiful twin daughters. When he isn’t creating critical applications for the NHS, he is writing action thrillers.

His debut novel, Gray Justice, has been very well received. The other two books in the series – Gray Resurrection and Gray Redemption – were released in 2012.

Alan is currently working on his fourth title.

You can follow Alan on Twitter through his @Jambalian account.

Alan blogs at http://jambalian.blogspot.co.uk/p/t.html

Book Review : No Such Thing As Immortality

I’m in love with … A VAMPIRE! 

NSTANever thought I’d say that, but Nathaniel Gray from Sarah Tranter’s novel ‘No Such Thing As … Immortality’ has stolen my heart. He is Mr Darcy with fangs.

‘I will protect you until the day I die … forever!’

A vampire does not have to feel any emotion not of his choosing. And Nathaniel Gray has spent two hundred years choosing not to feel. But when he accidentally runs Rowan Locke off the road, he is inexplicably flooded with everything she’s feeling, and that’s rage, and lots of it.

He is consumed with the need to protect Rowan at all costs including from himself. To Nate, what is happening is unthinkable and is pretty much as unbelievable as the existence of faeries. 

But you see, ‘There is no such thing as …immortality.’

My review

As you can probably tell from above, I absolutely adored Nathaniel Gray, the 250 year old vampire, from Derbyshire.

Quirky? Yes.

Humourous? Most definitely.

Intense? Oh yes.

Sexy? Hell, yes!

The supporting cast were great too, each with their own personality traits, Elizabeth was very sweet but had hidden depths and James’ dry sense of humour really made me laugh at times.

Nate and Rowan had a great relationship, very intense and the chemistry between the two sizzled right off the page.

Sarah Tranter has a very distinctive style of writing, one which I found refreshing and captivating. I’m not one for vampires, but I really bought into the whole idea. The plot was exciting and at times had me on the edge of my seat, I really didn’t know what was going to happen. This wasn’t just a love story, it had action and adventure in it too and a smattering of humour throughout.

A most excellent read and I am already looking forward to the next book in the series.

LINKS

sarah tranterSarah Tranter website

Twitter @sarah_tranter

Facebook : Sarah Tranter

Publishers ChocLit

AMAZON.CO.UK

Orion’s Gift by Anneli Purchase

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About Orion’s Gift

While camping in the exotic landscape of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, Kevin and Sylvia, both on the run from abusive relationships, meet and fall in love.

Two things stand in the way of their happiness. One—the secrets they keep from each other. Two—their abusers hunting them down.

Will fear drive them apart or will passion and trust surmount the violence and hostility they have endured?

My Review

Told in the first person from different points of view, I found Orion’s Gift refreshing and enjoyed getting into the head of each different character.  

It was good to really get to know the cast and their back stories, having inside information as it were added to the atmosphere and kept the tension high throughout the book.  

As I read Orion’s Gift I was struck by the setting. It was beautifully described with lots of small detail that added to creating a very vivid picture of the area.

Laced with danger, tension and emotion throughout I very much enjoyed reading this novel. At the heart of Orion’s Gift  is the love story of two people leaving behind failing marriages and finding inner-strength and happiness in their new love.

Orion's_GiftLinks for Orion’s Gift:

On Amazon.com http://amzn.to/UhJE00

On Smashwords.com http://bit.ly/MFOcOX

 

AnneliBlog: http://wordsfromanneli.wordpress.com

Website: http://www.anneli-purchase.com

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An Audience with an Author … Christina Courtenay

I am delighted to have Award Winning ChocLit author, Christina Courtenay with me today. I’ve always loved Christina’s books and her latest The Gilded Fan was no exception. I asked Christina if she could talk about the Far East influence.

TheGILDED_FAN_frontThe Gilded Fan is the sequel to my novel The Scarlet Kimono (although it can be read as a stand-alone), and both these stories were inspired by the Far East in general and Japan in particular.  It’s a fascinating part of the world and whenever I’m lucky enough to go there, I fall in love with it all over again.

I can’t really explain why I like it so much and it wasn’t something that happened overnight.  In fact, the first time I went to Japan I cried for days because I didn’t want to be there!  That may sound crazy, but if you consider that I was a teenager at the time (just turned sixteen) and had left behind my very first serious boyfriend in order to move with my family halfway across the world, it might be more understandable.  As it happened, I soon forgot all about him.  The three years I lived in Tokyo turned out to be the best of my life!

Looking back, I think the Japanese culture slowly seeped into me and I began to appreciate all the great things about it.  Most of all, it’s a beautiful place steeped in history – not the skyscrapers perhaps, but the little traditional buildings squeezed in between them, the parks, the temples and the shops and markets.  Even food is always displayed in an attractive way, tempting you to eat far too much!

So this then is the country in which the heroine of The Gilded Fan, Midori, has grown up.  Imagine her feelings when she has to leave it behind and travel back to Europe (my journey in reverse, you might say).  It’s not something she wants to do, but she has no choice – it’s either leave Japan or die.  I totally empathised with her as I didn’t have much choice either, but I didn’t have to travel alone!  It’s lucky for Midori that she’s a lot more stoical than I was and that she meets a sea captain willing to protect her …

One thing this story doesn’t have is a dog – my characters usually always have one as I love them myself, but for this particular story it wasn’t practicable for various reasons.  We, on the other hand, were crazy enough to bring our dog along when we moved to Japan.  A big rough collie, he looked so much like Lassie that whenever we walked him we were stopped by people thinking he was the canine movie star.  He took it all in his stride (he probably thought he deserved all the adulation) and didn’t mind being called Lassie.  And I never let on either, as my grasp of the Japanese language wasn’t up to it.  So there may be people over there who think they’ve met an icon, who knows? 🙂

Many thanks for having me as your guest, Sue!

Blurb:-

How do you start a new life, leaving behind all you love?

It’s 1641, and when Midori Kumashiro, the orphaned daughter of a warlord, is told she has to leave Japan or die, she has no choice but to flee to England. Midori is trained in the arts of war, but is that enough to help her survive a journey, with a lecherous crew and an attractive captain she doesn’t trust?

Having come to Nagasaki to trade, the last thing Captain Nico Noordholt wants is a female passenger, especially a beautiful one. How can he protect her from his crew when he can’t keep his own eyes off her?

During their journey, Nico and Midori form a tentative bond, but they both have secrets that can change everything. When they arrive in England, a civil war is brewing, and only by standing together can they hope to survive…

Links for Christina Courtenay

'Promote Me!' portrait

Available in ebook and paperback format AMAZON UK link  and AMAZON.COM link

Website www.christinacourtenay.com

Facebook : christina.courtenay.9

Twitter : @PiaCCourtenay

Choclit Publishers

Book Review of London 2012 : What If…? by Ian C P Irvine

london what ifContemplating having an affair, bored with work, and convinced there must be something more to it all, James Quinn is a man just about to enter a mid-life crisis. James leads a successful life. But is it the right life? Instead of a Product Manager in Telecoms, should he have been a plumber, an Olympic athlete, or an artist? Life, as they say, isn’t a practice run. This is it.

Then one day, during the normal underground commute to work in London, he looks up from his book and doesn’t recognise the station name on the Jubilee Line, …and in a split-second, everything changes.

Emerging onto a platform at “New Cross Gate North”, a station that shouldn’t exist, James finds that Canary Wharf has vanished. Gone. And so have Selfridges and mobile phones.

Is the grass really greener on the other side or should he try and find a way back to his old life?

(See Amazon for a fuller description)

My Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It is a thought that must have struck us all at one time, ‘What if…?’ or something we have idly contemplated but for James Quinn it became more than that.

Think ‘Life on Mars’ meets ‘Sliding Doors’ with a touch of Dan Brown thrown in for good measure. Loved the idea of what might have happened to James had things been different and how he dealt with his new life. The whole concept made me really wonder whether his new life was better than his old life – which one should he choose? I found myself  sympathising with his dilemma, especially as the longer he spent in his new life, the higher the stakes became.  The scenes between James and his father, I found very poignant and touching.

I thought the old professor from university was a great character. I can’t say physics was ever my subject, but there was enough in here to make the theory plausible and understandable, without it going right over my head.

There are some fun differences in James’ new life – one which brought a wry smile was the trains running on time,  always with somewhere to sit and commuters enjoying their journey. Anyone having experienced the rush hour commute into London would understand. 🙂 Other little things were threaded throughout the novel which, again, had me wondering ‘what if?’

I can’t comment too much on the ending, as this would be a terrible spoiler, suffice to say, I have spent all day thinking about it.

There are some great questions at the end to ponder and would make excellent talking points for book clubs.

So, all in all, a really thought provoking read that invokes compassion, understanding, me almost shouting at James at times and a fair bit of day dreaming on my part. Am now off to ride the Jubilee Line, after all, I know how to get back! 😉

London 2012 What if…? can be bought as two separate books or as an Omnibus edition, it was the latter I chose to read.

Links for Ian C P Irvine

ian irvine

Website www.iancpirvine.com/

Facebook : www.facebook.com/ian.irvine.3705

Twitter : @IanCPIrvine

Amazon.co.uk link HERE

Amazon.com link HERE