REVIEW TIME: Sleeper’s Castle

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Sleeper’s Castle by Barbara Erskine.

Blurb:

Two women, centuries apart. One endless nightmare tearing Wales apart – and only they can stop it.

Hay-On-Wye, 1400 – War is brewing in the Welsh borders, Catrin is on the brink of womanhood and falling in love for the first time. Her father is a soothsayer, playing a dangerous game playing on the mixed loyalties and furious rivalries between welsh princes and English lords. For two hundred years, the Welsh people have lain under the English yoke, dreaming of independence. And finally it looks as though the charismatic Owain Glyndwr may be the man legend talks of. In the walls of Sleeper’s Castle, Catrin finds herself caught in the middle of a doomed war as she is called upon to foretell Wales’s destiny… And what she sees, is blood and war coming closer…

Hay, 2015. Miranda has moved to Sleeper’s Castle to escape and grieve. Slowly she feels herself coming to life in the solitude of the mountains. But every time she closes her eyes her dreams become more vivid. And she makes a connection with a young girl, who’s screaming, who’s reaching out… who only Miranda can help. Is she losing herself to time?

My thoughts:

Sleeper’s Castle enthralled and enchanted me from the very beginning. Barbara Erskine effortlessly weaves together the two eras of this time-slip story. I loved the references back to the ancient druids and their sacred dreaming.

There’s magic and mystery, a hint of romance, wild Welsh countryside, and mysterious characters, such as Meryn, who is mentioned in the beginning of the story. When he makes an appearance, he still carries an aura of the unknown about him. Not to mention, Pepper, the condescending cat that believes he really own Sleeper’s Castle.

I love the historical side of the story, which follows the life of Owain Glyndwr, Prince of Wales, who waged a campaign to free Wales from the English yoke.

Sleeper’s Castle is the pivotal link. The house is an extra character in the story, with its own past, tragic tales and hopes for the future. However, it’s the stories of Miranda (Andy) and Bryn, in the present day, and Catrin and Edmund in 1400 that held me all the way through, along with the suspense engendered by a crazy ex-wife out for blood.

This is a fantastic read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and highly recommend it.

5 STARS

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The House behind Thornton Park

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When I first thought of writing The Dragon Sleeps and needed a grand house for the Thornton’s family home, Werribee Park and mansion in Victoria came to mind. I’d first visited it years earlier and always intended to include a house like it into a story. 

I thought you might like to read something about the house behind my Thornton Park.

Werribee Park is approximately 10 hectares of manicured gardens and native woodland. There is Werribee Mansion, which is next to the Victorian State Rose Garden, and also Werribee Open Range Zoo.

Many people think that Australia’s history is not as rich as England’s or Europe‘s and that we don’t have grand houses and gardens. They haven’t seen Werribee Park. 

Scottish brothers Thomas and Andrew Chirnside, built the Italianate styled mansion over three years, from 1874 to 1877. They had made their fortune in Australia’s developing agricultural industry, so had the wealth to construct such an elaborate residence. 

It’s intriguing to note that there was a romantic triangle here. Some years earlier, Thomas had proposed marriage to Andrew’s wife Mary, who was also their first cousin. The mansion was built by the brothers for Mary, who held both their hearts.

It is sad that Thomas committed suicide in 1887 from depression. Andrew died in 1890. Werribee Park was left to Andrew and Mary’s children, with Mary residing in it for the remainder of her life. 

In 1923 the property was sold to the Roman Catholic Bishops of Australia, where it became a seminary, a place of reflection and spiritual development, named Corpus Christi College.

Today, the mansion is open to the public. It also has an adjoining hotel and spa. Visitors can experience the grandeur of Werribee Mansion, discover Victoria’s unique pastoral history down at the farm and homestead, or have a picnic on the Great lawn surrounded by stunning formal gardens.

It’s located 30 minutes from Melbourne by car.

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.

 

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: Beauty in Thorns – Kate Forsyth

Beauty in Thorns

 

Beauty in Thorns – Kate Forsyth

 I love Kate Forsyth’s writing and when Beauty in Thorns was released I couldn’t wait to read it.

It is a story set around the Pre-Raphaelite circle of artists and poets, including William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

For many years, I’ve adored their wonderful paintings, so I knew I’d love getting lost in their tumultuous world. I discovered there was so much I hadn’t known about their work and their relationships. Kate Forsyth brings to life their story of love and heartbreak with such care and beauty.

I also loved learning about the women in this circle. Lizzie Siddal, Georgie (Georgiana) Burne-Jones nee Macdonald, Jane Morris nee Burden, and later in the novel Margot Burne-Jones the daughter of Georgie and Ned (Edward)Burne-Jones. I was especially moved by Lizzie Siddal’s tragic life. I think I admired Georgie’s stoicism the most.

Kate Forsyth’s research is excellent and her story telling is superb. If you haven’t read Beauty in Thorns as yet, I highly recommend it.

If you’re unfamiliar with the art of the Pre-Raphaelites, it will add to your appreciation of this book if you look up some of their paintings.

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 – Another 5 Star review

I was thrilled this week to receive a 5 Star Review from English Author James Fahy. If you haven’t read Fahy’s books, you should hurry and read them. His third book in The Changeling Series is due to be released on 12 June 2017.

Review of TDS by James Fahy

Repost from @jamesfahyauthor – The Dragon Sleeps by the wonderful @ellenreadauthor was my Bank Holiday weekend read. What better way to spend a long weekend than with a pot of tea and a period murder? I love the time period this novel is set in. If I had a time machine, the 1920’s is the first place I would go, so this was an indulgent treat for me. Ellen’s story is steeped in carefully and lovingly researched detail, from the music playing, to the fashions, art, etiquette and antiques, I came away feeling like I’d attended the garden party at Thornton myself, and was surprised to find I was not wearing spats. If you’re a lover of Agatha Christie, and a good murder-mystery with a side order of love, sprinkled with some far-east exoticism, I would urge you to give this a try. You won’t be disappointed. Check my full review on Amazon.com/co.uk

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️    🐲🐉💕

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