Book review: Stone Circle by Kate Murdoch

About Stone Circle

Is the Ability to Read Minds a Blessing or a Curse?

When Antonius’s father dies, he must work to support his family. He finds employment as a servant in the Palazzo Ducal, home of Conte Valperga. Sixteenth-century Pesaro is a society governed by status and Antonius has limited opportunities.

When a competition is announced, Antonius seizes his chance. The winner will be apprenticed to the town seer. Antonius shares first place with his employer’s son.

The two men compete for their mentor’s approval. As their knowledge of magic and alchemy grows, so does the rivalry and animosity between them. When the love of a beautiful woman is at stake, Antonius must find a way to follow his heart and navigate his future.

My Thoughts

Stone Circle is a classic, romantic tale suited to young adult and adult audiences. Set in Renaissance Italy, the story is brimming with the esoteric practice of the era  – geomancy, astrology and ‘seeing’ are especially prominent. The inclusion of such practices might for some place the novel in the fantasy genre, but I would dispute that. Esoteric practice is not fantasy! This novel might just as well be termed visionary fiction or magic realism.

The story is simple. When seer Savinus needs a new apprentice, he devises a simple test to find one. Two applicants show the necessary attributes and Savinus decides to take them both on, making the poor and lowly and very talented Antonius his primary apprentice, and the rich and spoilt and lesser talented Nichola his secondary. Any reader will predict the tensions to follow. Nicholas shows himself to be jealous and spiteful, and Antonius of fine character. Yet he is a man with burdens and troubles and might not make the best decisions. Both young men are also attracted to Savinus’ beautiful and intelligent daughter, Giulia – also a seer – and competing for her affections. Giulia cannot practice her talents as she is female and would be classed a witch and persecuted if she did. Yet she is always there, always at the edge of being exposed.

The plot is as old as storytelling but Murdoch fills it with a unique complexity the result of her intriguing cast of lovingly crafted characters and the esoteric theme. Add to this an evocatively portrayed historical setting and the result is a captivating and gentle read that progresses at a measured pace with numerous delights and insights along the way. Stone Circle is a novel filled with charm, a story that envelopes the reader and takes them far from everyday reality. Highly recommended.

Book Tour Author Spotlight: Heathcliff by Sue Barnard

About Heathcliff

It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now…”

Cathy’s immortal words from Wuthering Heights change Heathcliff’s life.  At just seventeen years of age, heartbroken and penniless, he runs away to face an unknown future.

Three years later, he returns – much improved in manners, appearance and prosperity.

But what happened during those years? How could he have made his fortune, from nothing? Who might his parents have been? And what fate turned him into literature’s most famous anti-hero?

For almost two centuries, these questions have remained unanswered.

Until now…

Purchase Link  – mybook.to/heathcliff 

About the Author

Sue Barnard is a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet whose family background is far stranger than any work of fiction. She would write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.

Sue was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. She speaks French like a Belgian, German like a schoolgirl, and Italian and Portuguese like an Englishwoman abroad.

Her mind is so warped that she has appeared on BBC TV’s Only Connect quiz show, and she has also compiled questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” The label has stuck.

Sue’s first novel, The Ghostly Father (a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet), was officially released on St Valentine’s Day 2014.  Since then she has produced five more novels: Nice Girls Don’t (2014), The Unkindest Cut of All (2015), Never on Saturday (2017), Heathcliff (2018), and Finding Nina (2019).

Sue now lives in Cheshire, UK, with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.

Social Media Links –

Blog: http://broad-thoughts-from-a-home.blogspot.co.uk

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorSusanB

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/suebarnardauthor/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sue-Barnard/e/B00IF4ZJJU/

RNA: https://romanticnovelistsassociation.org/rna_author/sue-barnard/

 

 

Podcast: Books That Make You Reconsider Your Perceptions On #Spirituality, The #Occult, And #NewAge Thinking

#16 Books That Make You Reconsider Your Perceptions On Spirituality, The Occult, And New Age Thinking

https://www.booksthatmakeyou.com/16-books-that-make-you-reconsider-your-perceptions-on-spirituality-the-occult-and-new-age-thinking-isobel-blackthorn/

“What is new age thinking, or spirituality, or the occult for that matter? Some religions consider the occult to be quite bad, demonic and evil. They have even taken drastic measures to paint it in a negative light.

If we look back in history, a fascinating figure stands out. Considered by some to be the mother of the new age, Alice A. Bailey is an occultist who managed to get on Hitler’s black list.  She also irritates some conspiracy theorists and those that travel in fundamentalists circles. Who was she really and what is the underlying message and influence of this intriguing woman?”

In this episode of Books That Make You, I chat with Desiree Duffy about  The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey 

Have a listen!

The Unlikely Occultist

Book review: Burning Crowe by Geoff Smith

About Burning Crowe

Two teenagers, both alike in indignity. Will they be civil? Or will there be blood?

Bartholomew Crowe is 18 years old. His dad dead, and deserted by his stepmother, he’s running seriously low on justice. And when he is hired to find a rich kid gone AWOL, it isn’t just a job; it’s a chance to do good, a chance to fix things up, to make things right.

Handsome and loaded, Zack Richards has it all. A beautiful girlfriend. A burgeoning sideline in music management. Hell, he’s even semi-famous! But for all his good fortune, Zack Richards is angry. He’s addicted to trouble. And he’s gone into hiding.

But Bart isn’t the only one with Zack in his sights.

And as tensions rise and bullets fly, Bartholomew Crowe learns that the only things he can count on are friendship, and love.

My Thoughts

Burning Crowe is one of those thrillers that is impossible to put down. Smith draws the reader into the dark underworld of Margate and Ramsgate, two coastal towns in Kent, England – all sandy beaches and fun parks on the pier –  that were once primary holiday destinations for Londoners, and later infamous for gang violence. The author takes his readers into clubs and pubs and squats and cheap hotels, on the waterfront, the beaches, the arcade and there’s even a fabulous scene in the Turner Gallery. I enjoyed this realistic backdrop; Smith’s portrayal of these towns, through the youthful eyes of his protagonist, is well-executed and appropriately noir.

Smith’s private investigator is as unlikely as it gets, an eighteen year old not yet out of school, setting off on his first case, his solution to all the hurt he is feeling after the death of his father and his step mother’s apparent rejection. This is not a criticism; Bartholomew Crowe is a well-rounded and thoroughly endearing if hapless PI, bumbling and stumbling along, the most ineffectual hero, yet a hero turns out to be.

Smith deploys all the elements of a really good thriller, the twists and turns of the plot as the various players reveal their hand in a slow game of bluff, deceit and lies, play out convincingly. The pacing is good, the characters sharply defined. I particularly enjoyed the exchange of emails between Crowe and his granddad and seeing how that played out in the end. Satisfying complex, Burning Crowe is in essence a coming of age tale of love and relationships and the tensions in blended families. It is also a story of malice and greed and vengeance. This novel held my attention the the very end.

Find Burning Crowe here

 

Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. She writes dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary fiction. On the dark side are Twerk, The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks. Her Canary Islands’ collection begins with The Drago Tree and includes A Matter of Latitude and Clarissa’s Warning. Her interest in the occult is explored in The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey and the dark mystery A Perfect Square. Even her first novel, Asylum, contains a touch of the magical. Isobel is at work on her fourth Canary Islands’ novel, a sweeping historical work based on her own family history. You can find her novels here on her website.

Book review: The Pale by Clare Rhoden

About The Pale

The Outside can be a dangerous place.

But so can the inside.

It’s been years since the original cataclysm, but life has been structured, peaceful, and most of all uneventful in the Pale. The humachine citizens welcome the order provided by their ruler, the baleful Regent.

However, when one of their own rescues a human boy, Hector, from ravenous ferals on the Outside, their careful systems are turned upside down.

As Hector grows more and more human-strange, the citizens of the Pale grow uneasy.

What will happen when the Outside tries to get in?

My Thoughts

The Pale is science fiction set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia. Amid the destitution of the Broad Plain, the Pale itself is a policosmos, a walled colony ruled by a tyrannical Regent and filled with humachines – machine-augmented humans not known for their empathy. Tad, a humachine that cares a little too much, lets in a human child, Hector, when he arrives at the Pale’s gate. Outside, the caninis struggle to survive after a devastating earthquake destroys their habitat. The tribes and the Settlement also struggle for survival. Four groups, four distinct societal structures. What unfolds is a tightly woven plot that centres around a struggle for survival in the harshest of conditions.

Rhoden demonstrates tremendous descriptive powers and impressive world building, The Pale reminiscent of the intelligent science fiction novels of old. I am reminded of my favourite science fiction author, Phillip K. Dick. The Pale is filled with well-crafted and engaging characters – including dogs –  in what amounts to a classy read with an important moral message, making the reader question where we are heading and whose side we are on and what it means to be fully human. Add to this an elegant writing style which makes The Pale accessible to teens and adults alike, and I imagine it won’t be too long before this novel catches on big time.

The allegorical aspect of The Pale provides much fodder for contemplation in today’s pre-apocalyptic climate change reality, something all good high school teachers should relish were they to lay their hands on copies for their classrooms. In all, Rhoden has penned a feast for the speculative fiction aficionado.

 

Find your copy of The Pale on Amazon

Author Website

 

Author & Book Alert: A Matter of Latitude by Isobel Blackthorn

Here’s my interview with the delightful James J. Cudney, in which I talk about writing, of course…

This Is My Truth Now

Isobel Blackthorn and her novel, A Matter of Latitude, because it has an upcoming discount that you need to know about. Isobel is an author at Creativia Pub / Next Chapter Pub, the same place where I am published. I’ve previously read one of her novels, Clarissa’s Warning, and you can click the link to see my 5-star review of this excellent drama about what happens to a woman on the Canary Islands. If you’re interested in A Matter of Latitude, you can purchase it via Amazon here.

A Matter of Latitude is .99 cents from July 16th through 20th. I just bought a copy… who wants to buddy read with me this week?

From the acclaimed author of The Drago Tree comes a riveting thriller about survival, revenge and long-hidden secrets.

When Lanzarote anti-corruption activist Celestino is T-boned on a lonely road, he knows the collision was…

View original post 1,581 more words

Book review: Pigeon Blood Red by Ed Duncan

About Pigeon Blood Red

For underworld enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders, it seemed like an ordinary job: retrieve his gangster boss’s priceless ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. A job like a hundred before it.
But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu. There, the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory, when innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in a crime.

As Rico pursues his new targets, hunter and prey develop an unlikely respect for one another, and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?

About Ed Duncan

My Thoughts

What a treat it is to read a fast-paced hard-edged thriller when you know the author is in complete control and will take you to that point of release at the end, the literary climax, that vital point in any novel, but especially in a thriller. Duncan is a commanding writer who toys with his readers as all good thriller writers should. The author knows how to squeeze a story through a pin prick in a dam wall, the story unfolding in tantalisingly measured steps, the hallmark of great thriller writing.

Meet shady Rico and his side-kick Jerry, the corpulent and vile underworld figure, Frank Litvak, and a very expensive necklace. When hapless store owner and womanising drunk, Robert, snatches the necklace off the backseat of Rico’s car, he has no idea what he is letting himself in for. Then there’s Robert’s wife, Evelyn, her friend, Rachel, and her old lover, Paul. A small collection of main characters and at first it is hard to know where to place your sympathies, except for Litvak! There’s a slow build, the sense of the threads intersecting without knowing how, the added complexities along the way. A portrait of Chicago, then Duncan takes the story to Honolulu, as the necklace itself takes up stage centre. 

Tightly plotted and cleverly told, Pigeon Blood Red has a gritty noir feel and the prose is crisp and clean and laced with a sharp wit. The characters are well-crafted and believable. The reader is given a bird’s eye view, adding to the tension. The twists continue right to the end, which does not disappoint. Shining through Pigeon Blood Red is the narrative voice, a voice I can hear, a voice that resonates in tune with the story. To being with, I could see Pigeon Blood Red would make a great movie and about three quarters in, all the way to the last page I was still thinking that. Highly recommended.

Find Pigeon Blood Red on Amazon

************

About Me

For those new to me, I am a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. I write dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary fiction. On the dark side are Twerk, The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks. My Canary Islands’ collection begins with The Drago Tree and includes A Matter of Latitude and Clarissa’s Warning. My interest in the occult is explored in The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey and the dark mystery A Perfect Square. I am at work on my fourth Canary Islands’ novel, a sweeping historical work based on her own family history.