Books/book review/Fantasy/Romance/wars
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Time Travel Romances: adding an element of je ne sais quoi?

Time Travel Romances: The Big  Book of time travel romances with 9 authors.

Sarah Woodbury: After Cilmeri series

Well who doesn’t love a good romance and add in an element of a different time in order that a hunky hero can be extracted from that time – see Outlander’s popularity both as a book series and TV series – and the scene is set…

Yes, I am great Outlander fan and am still working my way through Season 1 on the TV – not quite as I remember the books but I’ll forgive them. Interesting choice of actors for the leads – Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan  – clearly not going for well known though they use the more well-known in smaller parts. I am not really sure about all the muscles on Sam but that just emphasises what is expected of a time travel hero. He has in fact ousted David Tennant – who is perhaps more the thinking woman’s hero style? – as the top actor for women – the heartthrob of the moment. The good thing about these 2 actors is that Sam is genuinely Scottish and so the accent is good and also they actually use Scotland and Culloden Moor and so on for the settings. Expect to get a lot more tourists following their story from Inverness  to castles to moors..

So I bought a collection of books all about time travel and haven’t yet got further than the first book in the collection. That is because the first book lured me into buying 9 more! Yes 9 books in this series – about Wales in the medieval period and the book in the collection was a prequel. I was actually very glad that I came across the prequel first as it set the scene very well indeed.  Again, I am sure it will encourage tourists and vote this series as the next to be televised after Outlander – has a wonderful storyline that even brings in Arthurian legend so ideal TV fodder.

This series of books by Sarah Woodbury about Wales in the time of Edward I of England – 1239-1307, posits an alternative history. Remember that at this time the Barons were rather feisty and were forever in rebellion against their king(s) as they wanted more power over their lands, less taxes, and more land generally.  Wales at this time was not easy under an English king and there were 2 rebellions – 1276 and 1282. The second rebellion led to Wales being completely conquered by the English, the building of some very fancy castles and English people being settled into new towns and villages to ‘subdue’ any further ideas that Wales could be different. The Welsh language declined in use as a result and the English heir to the throne became the Prince of Wales and received the monies and land etc from this Principality which was then recognised as a separate entity with its own laws.Carreg_Cennen_Cast_2622615b cardiff

Many of the issues that bedevilled the English throne came from the Marcher  Lords – these were Anglo-Norman  nobles appointed to guard the Welsh borders with a strong sense of their own independence from the English Crown.  The Earls of Chester, Gloucester, Hereford, Pembroke and Shrewsbury were the Marcher lords. They were originally established as earldoms after the Norman Conquest with a great rights and privileges that other nobles did not possess. Marcher lords were tricksy – they often deceived and spoke carefully, letting few actually know their ral intent – Machiavelli would have approved. Their overall intent to increase their power – even down to trying to take the English (or Scottish) crown if they could. Alliances were fluid and each mman considered themselves first even before family. Counsins fought each other and brothers too, sons and fathers were often on different sides. Sometimes even the women joined in and raised armies – which of course, they then had to find a man to lead as there was very little real power for women at this time. The Marches – or borders of Wales were effectively a frontier country with violence an everyday occurrence – the Welsh, as with the Scots, did not want to be governed by the English and made their feelings known.

So these books imagine we are back in the time of Llywelyn ap Gruffiudd who was the prince of Gwynedd the major last remaining territory in Wales. A number of people appear to have a genetic predisposition to time travel   ie it runs in families, and travel to and fro the modern world, beginning with Meg, and the world of Llywelyn.   The prequel story stops just before the what-if history starts with Llywelyn about to have a change in his future which will impact the future of Wales and England and in due course, even Scotland.

The strength of these stories are three fold. 1. They are set in medieval romantic Wales 1284Wales, with, as far as I can tell, accurate descriptions of life as it would have been there, and set in the wonderful countryside of Wales, damp and rainy notwithstanding; 2. Each chapter is told through the eyes of a different character, and as you progress through the books, each book relates the story of a different pair of characters and their interactions with the others; and finally 3. The historical events are real but set within the story and therefore with a twist. There were Welsh rebellions, but in our world they failed, in theirs they don’t; in our world the king was always Edward and he was asked to ‘interfere’ or intervene in the Scottish succession, in their world it was David but still the King of England who intervened.

Do I recommend them? Of course… after all I have spent a lot of money in buying all 9 books…

However, having looked at the abstracts from the author’s other books, I shall leave her other series for a while – after all I can’t afford to keep buying sets of 9 books every few weeks or days in this case!  I think I need to go back to the box set I originally bought and read some more of them!

 

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Food and eating/Tea and Cake/Random and interesting items/travel
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Boston USA: eating and tourist traps

OK so we went to Boston and ate and toured some more. We ate at the:

  • Gourmet Dumpling House
  • La Galeria in Salem Street, which is a traditional Italian;
  • Xingh Xingh which is Vietnamese and we highly recommend the fresh vegetable spring rolls and the tofu caramelised in a pot. the rice ends up stuck to the bottom of the pot and is crispy and crunchy and caramelised!
  • Mare – an  upmarket Oyster and Fish bar.
  • Boston Tea Party cafe – beware – the traditional clam chowder is made with pork fat.

Now we decided to do the traditional tour of the coast and see some villages/small towns. So we hired a car and set off to Plymouth. we ate a hearty breakfast at the Roadhouse which seemed to be cowboy themed with a central bar for alcohol and very large portions of steak for breakfast…. After wandering around for a bit we drove down the road and eventually decided we needed lunch – at the Blue Plate diner. This was in a hamlet really but was full of very friendly people.P1030371 P1030377 P1030379 P1030380 P1030384 P1030385

Off we went to Providence which is very cute town indeed, with lots of very cute doggies and owners… BUT, a warning here, in Season they can have upwards of 80,000 visitors a day.. yes I got the noughts right. However, we were there before they opened up some of the shops and the beach – which isn’t cleared until June 2nd – the Season then continuing until around 1st September. It is quite Disney-like and difficult to access the beach.

As the town wasn’t really open yet when we visited we had to go back to Plymouth for our evening meal which we ate at the Bangkok Thai.

We also visited Concorde where in the Market and Cafe (which didn’t have any type of market) we had the world’s largest iced coffees for $4 and a very delicious mocha raspberry muffin. There were some nice artisan shops there with the jewellery being locally made but often pricey.

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Bucket List? What’s Yours?

Scheduled to Die

By Alan Cupp

NetGalley Review

4 stars

You have a time to die – set by someone-else – what do you do?

This is a PI Carter Mays Series, Number 2.

When stalking gets out of line- the good pick-up line comes into play and stalking becomes something much more sinister.

There is a circle of criminal behaviour – they tend to operate within areas of familiarity.  A geographic profiler will analyse the crimes committed and can discover this circle of familiarity by certain signatures which identify which criminal has caused these acts. It lets us know the likely place of living of the criminal and/or where they work and socialise, and sometimes what they may work at. An understanding of the spatial pattern of a crime series and the characteristics of the crime sites can tell investigators other useful information, such as whether the crime was opportunistic and the degree of offender familiarity with the crime location.

The criminal profiler’s job is to create a psychological profile of a criminal suspect, which can then be used to help catch the suspect. This is done by examining evidence from the crime, interviewing witnesses and victims, and analyzing crime scenes. Information gleaned from these investigations can then be used to help the profiler determine a pattern of criminal behaviour, which hopefully can be used to find out more about the suspect.

“It’s a combination of analyzing the physical and behavioral evidence, reconstructing a crime from the beginning to the end and coming up with the most scientific determination possible with the information available.”
– The Profiler by Pat Brown

In this book it was difficult to work out the circle of familiarity and as to whether or not these crimes were opportunistic. But he chose single women away from their home and work, and as a sociopath who was charming and apparently trustworthy, would pick them up in bars and so on, and then announce “You are the one I have chosen to kill. What will you do with the days you have left to live?”

He felt that now these women would experience “true” life – you know when you will die (and not from an illness which will inhibit your action) and so your perspective on life will change. Do you go through your bucket list and see how much you can achieve and cross off? Do you buy everything you have ever wanted, designer clothes, yachts and so on, even though you know cannot pay for them, because you will be dead before the bill becomes due?

Or – Do you go to the police?

Going to the police is very disappointing to this sociopath and thus he terminates those women early. Those who go through their bucket list get longer – but he never tells you the exact date of your death..

So here we have the next victim going to a PI instead of the police – does this still count against her? And the PI is left to become the profiler and discover just what the victims had in common and how the sociopath made a living.

 

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The Widow’s Son and Thomas Shavner

Interview with author Thomas Shavner

Why I chose this particular topic to write about?BibleCorrected

A few years ago an attorney came into my bookshop to see if I was interested in purchasing a first edition Mormon bible with an inscription dated 1844 (the year of Joseph Smith’s martyrdom) from Sidney Rigdon, an early and controversial elder of the Church.

 It was the Palmyra edition printed by E.B. Grandin “for the author” and therefore extremely rare.  The latter phrase was important in identifying it as a true first, because later editions attributed the author to be Mormon himself, not Joseph Smith, Jr.  According to Smith biographer, Fawn M. Brodie, one of the original founders pledged to revenge the prophet’s death by killing Thomas Ford, the then Governor of Illinois and his descendents “to the fourth generation.” I expanded the curse to include the sixth generation in order to bring it to the present.

Mormonism has enough interesting and quirky tenets to fill a myriad novels beginning with A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle.  I live in Jackson County, Missouri, declared by Mormon founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., to be the original Garden of Eden.   It’s also where he was jailed for his beliefs and forced to flee.  About 70 miles north of Kansas City is a river valley where he claimed Adam and Eve fled after their fall from grace. The place is called Adam-ondi-Ahman and it’s where Smith decreed that the righteous would gather to greet the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  Lots of interesting material and settings.

Modern Mormons tend to shy away from the old unusual prophesies, focusing on core doctrines and what is common between their interpretation of faith and modern Christianity—they think of Zion more metaphorically, as a state of spiritual being.  That’s not to say they discount the old Mormon sites.  Places in western Missouri such as Independence, Far West and Adam-ondi-Ahman carry great significance as reminders of the suffering and fortitude of that first generation of Saints.  Nonetheless, there are still those who follow the old tenets and even some who believe in ‘blood atonement’—where some sins are so heinous that they can only be atoned by having the perpetrator’s blood spilled upon the ground as a sacrifice. 

How long do you think about a topic before writing about it?  Do you have a set of notes where you write down topics before making a decision?

Not long.  For the Michael Bevan series I simply wrote about something I knew a lot about after fifteen years in the used and rare book trade.  I’d just closed the business and had time on my hands.  There was no outline, no real idea of a plot.  I just started writing to entertain and surprise myself.  This is not to say I hadn’t spent years honing my writing skills, going to writers conferences, and submitting old manuscripts to agents.

I generally don’t consciously try to come up with a topic.  When I was recently asked by my editor what I wanted to do next in a series, what I came up with wasn’t very good.  I was straining to please her and not myself.  I decided to let it rest for a while and spent the spring revising an old manuscript in a different genre that I’d worked on years earlier.  Then one day an idea for a new mystery series materialized when I met a police officer in my neighborhood who spoke with a French accent.  He came over from Marseilles to help his brother start a restaurant in a little river town and eventually became a cop. Instead of donuts, he eats croissants.

As for notes, I jot down ideas and catchy overheard phrases in a three-ring binder.  I have a topics folder stuffed with lots of newspaper and magazine articles that strike me as possible leads—if only I could remember where I put it.  

How long does it take to research a topic before your write?  And for this book?

I spend about 25 % of my time on research.  And that’s probably too much. Research, at least for me, is the easiest part (after editing).  I have a tendency when the creative well is dry to start looking up things.  It activates my left brain while putting the right (creative half) to sleep.  I find lots of interesting tidbits, most of which I don’t use, and it takes a day or two to get back to the hard work of telling a story. 

What resources do you use?  In general and for the last book that you wrote?

I consult rare book catalogues and classics on book selling and collectors likeThe Book Hunter by John Hill Burton, The Anatomy of Bibliomania by Holbrook Jackson, Fine Books Magazine and anything by Nicholas Basbanes, but rely mainly on what I’ve learned over the years in my shop and at book fairs around the country and the United Kingdom. 

For The Widow’s Son, I referred to passages from The Book of Mormon, the great biography of Joseph Smith, Jr., titled No Man Knows My Name by Fawn Brodie, One Nation Under Gods by Richard Abanes, Prophet of Death by Pete Earls, Far West Records, and a number of other books on Smith, and old Mormon sites in western Missouri.   And then there’s Google…

How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when writing about them?  Is there a good way to approach them?

My character, Michael Bevan, knows the law, rare books, and how to handle himself in a fight.  He’s not a policeman and doesn’t try to be.  Josie Majansik was an FBI undercover agent, however.  I know an undercover policeman, as well as a beat cop, and a retired FBI agent.  Two of them I know from playing on the same rugby team. All three were willing to share some insights, but I haven’t taken advantage of the opportunity. I will for the next series that has a cop as protagonist.  Most cities have opportunities for citizens to ride on patrols.

How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted?

Over the years, probably over 500 rejections for five different novel manuscripts; and that includes having had two fine New York agents pushing my work at one time or another.  I’d stopped submitting for a few years until I closed the bookstore and finished the manuscript of The Dirty Book Murder. Then, rather than do the email submission/rejection dance, I attended the annual ThrillerFest Conference in New York and pitched to twenty or more agents in the course of one pressure packed afternoon.  Fourteen asked to see the full manuscript and one ultimately agreed to represent me.  A year later my agent informed me that I had a three-book series deal with Penguin Random House.

Did you need to self-publish on e-books before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

I had published a short story on Smashwords, but never submitted a novel. After all those rejections, I needed the assurance of professionals that I had something of real value to offer. 

Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher?  If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for an aspiring novelist?

No.  Obviously, there are rare success stories.  However, I think most publishers still look down upon self-publishing efforts.  If you are going to do it, however, you need to approach it in a truly professional manner.  And that means spending money to have your finished manuscript professionally vetted and edited for grammar, style and plot.  That goes for cover art, too. Otherwise, you’re fooling yourself.   

Does writing provide sufficient income to live on?  And how long does it take for this to happen?

The writing trade is like any creative endeavor.  I’m sure there is bell curve out there showing winners and losers and those in the middle surviving on peanut butter. Writers write.  Keep your day job while proudly proclaiming you are an author.  Consider any money gained in the trade to be a bonus, even if it takes forty years. 

What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?

Due to a brain freeze I couldn’t remember the name of my main antagonist and how the book ended.  But that pales to what happened to an author I know who lectured a crowd for an hour unaware that his fly was open.

 

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The Widow’s son: More to know and reveal

The sins of the father will be/should be cast upon their descendants until the nth generation – or until no more shall live. This is the motto of the characters bent on revenge or vengeance for the killing of their cult’s founders. So the hero’s job is to stop the latest killings – by whatever means  he can. On the whole this is a traditional cowboys and bad guys story, with a goodly dash of old Testament fervour.

Of course this book is part of the Rare Books series and so the bookseller hero and rare books are involved, as well as some rather special skills that most rare book sellers don’t usually have. I found this better than the first book in the series that I have also read.

Title: The Widow’s Son

Author: Thomas Shawver

Genre: Mystery / Thriller

Thomas Shawver, author of The Dirty Book Murder and Left Turn at Paradise, returns to the surprisingly lethal world of rare books with a third enthralling novel featuring a most unlikely hero — antiquarian bookseller Michael Bevan.

A furious man from nearby Independence, Kansas demands that Michael Bevan return a rare first edition of the Book of Mormon, claiming that it was mistakenly sold by a disgruntled descendant of A.J. Stout. Contained on the frontispiece are a list of Ford names dating from 1845 to the present. Beside each name, save the last two, is a check mark – but what could the checks signify? With this discovery, Michael Bevan stumbles onto a trail of hatred and murder stretching back to 1844.

The Widow's Son_Shawver

Author Bio

Thomas Shawver is a former marine officer, lawyer, and journalist with American City Business Journals. An avid rugby player and international traveler, Shawver owned Bloomsday Books, an antiquarian bookstore in Kansas Cit

Website: http://bloomsdaybooks.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThomasShawverAuthor

Goodreads: Goodreads

Links

Penguin Random House: Penguin Random House

Amazon: Amazon

Barnes and Noble: B&N

iBooks: iBooks

Google play: Google Play

Books a Million: Books a Million

Kobo: Kobo

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 “The Widows Son”: Excerpt

“Who was the deceased?” the investigator from the coroner’s office asked as the Fire Department EMTs packed up their respirator. “And why is he dressed in that getup?”

Rolls of flab stuck out between the corpse’s deerskin shirt and breeches. The long scarlet wig had slipped off the bald pate; a cheap replica of a torque hung just under the double chin. On a nearby chair, someone had set a pair of leather dancing pumps and a plastic shield. A long spear, its rubber tip bent at a forty-five-degree angle, leaned against the makeshift stage.

Neither I nor anyone in the small crowd of mostly mothers and their preteen daughters responded to the question. They were still recovering from the shock of witnessing a fifty-year-old man, who, half an hour earlier, had—with left leg extended horizontally before him, right foot tucked neatly under his bum, and back straight as the letter L—elevated twenty inches above the deck before crashing to earth in a lifeless heap.

The kids had thought it was part of the act and laughed. Now they whimpered in the arms of their horrified parents. Each of the girls but one was dressed in a sequined dance costume costing upward of a thousand dollars. The outfits had nothing Irish about them except for elaborately embroidered Celtic designs.

The fashion exception was an adolescent girl. She wore soft-toed shoes like the other dancers, but the plaid skirt and light blue blouse were her Catholic school uniform. Perfectly straight hair, pale as an August moon, hung below her shoulders. Colorless, too, was her skin, so much so that I might have mistaken her for an albino had it not been for the orange-brown eyes that gazed straight ahead as if in a trance. She clutched a small comb in her right hand.

“This is no time for shyness,” urged the investigator, whose name was Buford Higgins. “Who’s the unfortunate fella?”

Natalie Phelan, she of the fiery gait and flashing temper who ran the Kansas City Celtic Heritage Center, piped up with equal bits sorrow and wonder as if the body belonged to the Savior himself. “That’s Liam O’Halloran, Mr. Higgins. How could you not know?”

“Eh? Not the O’Halloran of Bog Swirl fame?”

“The very same. A few years past his prime, of course.”

“More like an eternity.”

Pushing aside the EMTs who had rolled a stretcher next to the stage, Higgins knelt beside the corpse to better study the face.

When he spoke again his voice was reverent.

“So it is, Mrs. Phelan. Sure, and he’s a long way from Carnegie Hall.”

During O’Halloran’s salad days he and the supporting cast of Bog Swirl had indeed performed the Cattle Raid of Cooley in that prestigious New York City venue. The Raid was O’Halloran’s signature epic, played hundreds of times before thousands of enraptured fans wherever in the world the Irish Diaspora planted its tricolor flag. Millions more became acquainted through his performances on Public Television so that almost overnight three quarters of the English-speaking world claimed to have a touch of the green in their genes.

O’Halloran, whose real name was Augustus “Augie” Tatem of Ottumwa, Iowa, rode the wave for nearly a decade, culminating in command performances for the Taoiseach in Dublin and the Prince of Wales at Royal Albert Hall. Tens of thousands of people who wouldn’t be caught dead attending a ballet had been thrilled to watch the long-haired dancer, shillelagh in one hand and pagan maiden in the other, kick, leap, and prance across an enormous stage to the sounds of thundering drums and trilling  pipes.

But it couldn’t last. The end of Bog Swirl came when O’Halloran broke his leg doing one too many signature backflips at a national Knights of Columbus convention in Allentown, Pennsylvania. After the last of the pipers was lured away by the siren call of a Carnival Cruise gig, O’Halloran fell to drink and dissipation.

It was Natalie’s plan to bring him out of retirement in Omaha to reminisce for a few minutes about the good old days then take a seat to watch the youngsters from the Doolan Academy perform.

Liam O’Halloran’s name still carried sufficient star power to entice women of a certain age who remembered his vulpine looks and the scandalous way he winked at the audience before leaping to save sacrificial Druid virgins. And, despite their initial shock at seeing what the years and drink had done, most felt his mere presence justified the fifteen-dollar entrance fee.

Clothed in his Hound of Ulster costume, he’d talked for over an hour in a soft lilt that none of the actual immigrant Irish in the audience could quite place—Dan Regan, the Kerryman, thought it was from Connaught; the Dubliner Bannon guessed Mayo; and Mrs. Hurley, always the cynic, suggested somewhere south of Pittsburgh—but his stirring rendition of The Hunt of Sliabh Truim proved that, no matter his origins, O’Halloran was a great Gael.

Many hundreds were in pursuit of the deer

Around us on the southern hill,

The battalions were on the watch for them—

Fierce was the onset!

The only boy in the Doolan Dance Academy stood off to the side of the stage. A ginger-haired kid, he was dressed in a canary yellow suit that made him look like a cross between Elton John and a doorman at the Hilton.

“It was Claire’s fault,” he said to Higgins, pointing a finger that nearly brushed the girl’s cheek.

“Here now, Rory,” his mother scolded. “There will be none of that.”

“But it started with her, like it did with Gramma.”

True or not, something strange certainly had occurred at the Center. Beautiful in one sense, horrific in hindsight. O’Halloran had finished his talk and started to climb off the low stage to polite applause when suddenly the pale girl began to sing, locking her eyes with his in a mystical embrace.

Her velvety voice was shimmering and clear and she sang in a language that might have been Gaelic, but possibly something else; something that came before that ancient tongue. Neither child nor adult moved as the mesmerizing notes wove sinuously through the room.

Then, in mid-voice, she abruptly stopped, returned to her chair, and slowly ran the comb through her hair as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

 

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