REVIEW TIME: The Daughters of the Oak by Becky Wright

Daughters of the Oak

 

Daughters of the Oak
The blurb of this extended edition of The Manningtree Account.

“A supernatural thriller, weaving witches, and ghosts, together, in one spine-tingling tale.”

1646 – The English Civil War. The Royalists of King Charles I, and Cromwell’s Parliamentarians, battle, both eager to lay claim to a tattered country, where life has become cheap and death trivial.

Though, for the lowly commoner, a greater, far more devious, war rages. It threatens the souls of the weak, timid and needy. Seeking refuge in the Lord’s word, God fearing folk employ the skills of one man, the Witchfinder. His success speaks of his talent, to seek out, punish and rid the countryside of Witches, the Devil’s Whores.

2016 – A paranormal team are called to investigate, as poltergeist activity brings terror to one family. Under the cover of darkness, in silent suburbia, an endless night of battle against evil ensues, until finally, a new day dawns.

Lies, secrets, and treachery, it seems, are never forgotten.
Welcome to Manningtree…

After reading The Manningtree Account, I was interested to read this extended version. Becky Wright has combined history with chilling imagination to craft this dark, paranormal tale of witchcraft. Of course, Matthew Hopkins, The Witchfinder General, isn’t a fictional character. Women who were branded witches had no hope of escaping his brand of terror.

Becky Wright seamlessly merges the story in the 1600s with the characters in 2016.

I found Daughters of the Oak dark and disturbing.

The ending has quite an unexpected twist that is quite chilling.

If you like a dark tale, then this is for you.

 

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The Light Over Broken Tide by Holly Ducarte

REVIEW TIME: by Ellen Read

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Young love, an Irish legend, a hidden lighthouse and Peter Pan – I was hooked before I started reading.

This is also a story of mental illness, an otherworldly encounter, loss and grief. Holly Ducarte handles these difficult themes with great sensitivity.

‘We’re all like paper dolls. Happiest when linked to another, often unaware of our flimsiness. So easily torn. What happens when we reach out to find there’s no one there to hold our hand?’
These are the opening lines of the story.

Becky is torn and is reaching out for a hand to hold. She finds it in Shawn, the boy-next-door, who believes magic does exist.

In the beginning, I had mixed feelings about Rebecca because she is rebellious and so difficult to get along with, but I sensed her vulnerability. She is a teenager, she’s lost her mother, doesn’t know her father well, and is then whisked away to a new house in a new coastal town in Nova Scotia. I soon felt empathy for her. This is really a testament to Ducarte’s writing that she portrayed Becky so well.

Becky’s relationship with her father, Andy, is an important thread in the story and I was pleased with how it developed. In the beginning, I wasn’t certain if I’d like Andy but my respect and liking for him grew.

I loved the references to Peter Pan and, in the magical dreamlike scenes, I felt myself fly away with them on their adventure. Shawn becomes Becky’s Peter Pan. This gives her a lifeline but forces beyond her control send Rebecca spiralling into dark places. When she emerges, she wonders what was real.

This book moved me so deeply.

I highly recommended this YA read. It’s excellent, something very different.

Well done, Holly Ducarte, on your debut novel.

Mrs Preston’s Kitchen

Thank you to Michael Chrobak for inviting me to write a guest post for his blog.

Please visit his link below.

https://eatingwrite.weebly.com/guest-blogs/mrs-prestons-kitchen

Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings to Everyone

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You may wonder why I have a wombat in my photo. This is Waddles. I bought him in Daylesford when I was researching my next book. So what does a wombat have to do with a cozy murder mystery?

My next book, the second in The Thornton Mysteries is set in Daylesford, Victoria, Australia, where the Thorntons have a holiday home. It isn’t as grand as Thornton Park but it’s a large house set into the side of Wombat Hill. There’s the clue. Daylesford, in its gold mining days, was called Wombat.

I first went to Daylesford about ten years ago. It’s set in the Macedon Ranges and is a favourite spa town. The area is known for its mineral springs. Mt Franklin, which most Australians know of, is about a twenty minute drive away.

The Thornton’s home is Wombat Hill Manor, and just as I did with Thornton Park, I based Wombat Hill Manor on a real building. It was initially built as a private residence and later sold to the Catholic Church as a Convent.

It’s now The Convent Gallery, beautifully restored as an art gallery and restaurant/cafe. If you go to Daylesford, I recommend going there. It’s about a one hour drive from Melbourne and worth the trip.

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I’ve been to Daylesford twice this year, the first time to do research for my book. The second time was after I finished my first draft and I wanted to check on some details.

This year has been a busy one. The two trips to Daylesford. A trip to Adelaide and the Barossa Valley, which besides being a wonderful holiday, was also research for book three. For those who don’t know, the Barossa Valley in South Australia is famous for it’s wineries. I’ll be starting book 3 early in the new year. You’ll remember from reading The Dragon Sleeps that Benedict’s family own a vineyard in South Australia. There’s a hint about book three.

I’ve not long returned from a trip to Hawaii. It was another fabulous holiday with my family. I thought I can’t go to such a location and not write a book set there. I didn’t have any ideas for a story when I arrived but I had the start of Book 4 before I left. My dilemma was why would the Thorntons want to go to Hawaii. Book two is set in 1928. Book three in 1928 also. So why in 1929 would they want to travel so far? The reason came to me. I was so pleased! Originally, I intended writing three books but now book four is on the schedule.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends and I wish you a Happy New Year.

REVIEW: Wardens of Archos

Wardens of Archos

Wardens of Archos is the second book in Sarina Langer’s Relics of Ar’Zac fantasy series.

I was so pleased to be back in Rifarne with Rachael and her colleagues. It was great to pick up the story from where it finished in the first book. New characters were introduced and joined Rachael on her journey to new lands in an attempt to find the answers to what is hidden beneath the ancient Krymistian ruins of Archos.

The story moves at a good pace and always left me wanting to turn the page. Sarina Langer’s world building is excellent, with plenty of description but nothing to slow the pace down. The new worlds came to life.

I loved the dynamic between Rachael and Cale. Their story develops further.
Thank you to the author for providing a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

If you enjoy fantasy, you’ll love this book.

Review: My Year of Stories by Abigail Shepherd

My Year of Stories

This is a delightful book that follows the journey of Abigail Shepherd from unpublished writer to debut novelist, with the release of her YA book Victoria’s Victorian Victory.

In My Year of Stories, we follow Abigail’s journey with twelve stories to represent each month, preceded by an excerpt from her journal. I like the addition of this diary extract as it gives the reader an idea how each story was created and when.

This is a book you can read in one sitting or go to when you want to read another story for the first time or as a reread. You’ll find you’ll want to do that. I read the first story, The Dandelion Clock when it was first published in Whim online magazine but I enjoyed reading it again as January’s story in this book. There is also a prequel to Victoria’s Victorian Victory.

The stories are each different, some sweet and moving, others humorous and some a little dark.

I highly recommend My Year of Stories. You’ll enjoy the read.

A Cup of Conversation: Soulla Christodoulou talks with Ellen Read author of The Dragon Sleeps

I was recently asked to do an interview for Soulla Christodoulou’s new series, A Cup of Conversation.

Thank you so much, Soulla.

You can read it here

 

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The House That Inspired Me.

 

Thornton Park is the Thornton family home and is where the mystery takes place in my book The Dragon Sleeps.

It’s a murder mystery set in the late 1920s.

A Dragon statue. An ancient sword. What treasure is worth killing for?

Alexandra Thornton is determined to discover how these things are connected to the antiques her great-grandfather brought with him from Hong Kong so many years ago. What secret has remained hidden for the last eighty years?

Photos:
Top left is the main hall, the others are of the drawing room. Far right is my book.

These photos are of the real house that inspired me – Werribee Mansion in Victoria.

You can go through the mansion if you’re visiting Melbourne or Victoria. It’s definitely a worthwhile day.

Review: The Dragon Sleeps by Ellen Read — Cookie Break

I was so thrilled to receive this wonderful review. Please read on!

“A Dragon statue. An ancient sword. What treasure is worth killing for? It’s 1927 in Victoria, Australia. A hedonistic time after the Great War when young people knew they could enjoy life without the threat of war hanging over them. A time when women have more options opened to them. There is a weekend house…

via Review: The Dragon Sleeps by Ellen Read — Cookie Break

The Dragon Sleeps – 5 Star Review on Amazon

I was so thrilled to receive this fantastic 5 Star Review on Amazon from Charlie Edwards.

Thank you so much.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

As a huge fan of Agatha Christie and the other masters of crime I went into this book with high expectations and I’m happy to say that those expectations were exceeded! Set in the grandiose estate of Thornton House and taking place in the heart of the antiques trade of the 1920s, The Dragon Sleeps is a clever little novel that keeps you guessing throughout and which is equal parts murder mystery as it is a charming look into the past.

One of the aspects that really stood out for me was Read’s use of music and other well researched parts of the history that brought the 20s setting to life. I found myself googling various pieces of music she mentioned, letting them play as I read the book so that I could fully plunge myself into the story and experience what her characters were enjoying at the same time, an interesting experience which really added to the charm of the book as a whole.

The characters are full of vitality and believable, and the relationship between Lexy and Edie in particular was really charming to experience, not to mention the smooth suave of the ever charming Benedict whom I’m sure is the sort of man that no woman could find fault with.

The mystery itself is well researched and cleverly put together, and of course I won’t spoil it but the solution is not as straightforward as you would initially presume – the twists and turns keep the novel going exactly as a murder mystery should.

An enchanting and engaging novel that sets the stage for murder and intrigue with aplomb, I can’t wait to read more of what Ellen Read has to offer – here’s hoping she is writing more!