The year is almost over…

This year has been an exciting one for me with the release of The Dragon Sleeps in November. It’s the first book in The Thornton Mysteries. A cosy mystery series with a tender love story.

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Book 2 is with my publisher, with book 3 soon to follow. I’ve finished it except for a last read through.

In January, I’m starting book 4. The research is done. I’m looking forward to writing it.

Book 1 is set at Thornton Park, the family home in Victoria.

Book 2 is principally set in Daylesford, a small town in the Macedon Ranges of Victoria. Dayleford is a beautiful place, and today is known for its spas and for its natural mineral springs.

Book 3 is set at Thornton Park and the Barossa Valley in South Australia. The Barossa is prime wine country.

Book 4 will take us to Norfolk Island, a beautiful island in the South Pacific not far from Australia. I went there last year to do some research. I’m going back in 2020.

I hope you’ll come on this journey with me.

This year also saw the release of Broken, a story that is free on my website.

After the tragic death of her parents, Rachael Watson ran away, leaving her sister to manage the family lavender farm and shop. Three years later, crushed by her unrelenting grief, workplace bullying, and guilt and shame for letting her sister down, Rachael decides to return home.

There, Rachael meets Ebony, a black mare who has been mistreated and beaten. Rachael realises she is not the only one who has been broken.

The Treasure is also free on my website. It’s a novelette – short than a novella but longer than a short story. YA/NA Fantasy.

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Lastly, I’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas – or Happy Holidays if you don’t celebrate Christmas – and a Happy, Healthy New Year.

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The Dragon Sleep – Book of the Day

BOOK OF THE DAY

My publisher Crimson Cloak Publishing is holding a
‘Book of the Day’ promotion.


For Friday 29th November it is my book,
The Dragon Sleeps by Ellen Read

A Dragon statue. An ancient sword. A body in the orchard.

What secret has remained hidden at Thornton Park for the last eighty years?

It’s 1927 in Victoria, Australia. A time after the Great War when women have more options opened to them.

At a weekend house party at Thornton Park, Alexandra Thornton decides to break the news to her father that she wants to be an antiques dealer, like her father, grandfather and great-grandfather before her.

Guests include Zhang Huo, the Chinese antiques dealer who, with his son, has brought a Ming dragon statue from China for Thomas Thornton, Alexandra’s father.

Benedict Archer, manager of Thornton Antiques in Melbourne, is also invited.

When Edith Blackburn, her friend since childhood, points out to Alexandra that Benedict is attracted to her, Alexandra can’t believe it.

Then a body found in the orchard, and before the weekend is over, a priceless artefact is stolen.

Alexandra is determined to discover how these things are connected to the Ming dragon and the antiques her great-grandfather brought with him from Hong Kong so many years ago.

What treasure is worth killing to possess?

The link to purchase is below:
http://myBook.to/DragonSleeps

 

BOOK REVIEW: HEART OF A WARRIOR

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Heart of a Warrior by Denna Holm

Heart of a Warrior is the fourth book by Denna Holm in her Immortal Warriors series.

Each book is definitely a standalone. I haven’t read the first three books and I followed this story without any difficulty.

The story, along with the engaging and well-drawn characters, drew me into its pages from the very first start.

In the beginning, we meet Elena Murphy as she prepares her ranch for an approaching storm, but not all of her chills are because of the thunder on the horizon. She thinks of Gabriel, the dark-haired, ancient vampire who often visits Earth from his home planet of Laizahlia. Elena can sense he’s close. Would he show himself to her? He watches over her and protects her, but from a distance.

Elena is expecting visitors – Cami Benton is sixteen and her brother Ryan, who is eight. They’re going to spend the weekend with her. She has a strong connection to the children, partly because their own home life is stressful, with their parents’ divorce. Only when their father Martin, who has driven them to Elena’s home, makes unwanted advances to Elena, does Gabriel appear, a tall, daunting figure, in his black leather of a Laizhalian Hunter.

Once Martin has run away, Gabriel helps Elena get her horses in before the storm hits. Once it hits, the storm brings more than thunder and lightning.

I don’t want to write any spoilers, so let me say from here on is a desperate and urgent journey across the universes, to strange planets with wonderful live forms, some more weird and dangerous than others. We also meet werewolves and shape-shifters.

Denna Holm has imagined these worlds and their inhabitants so fully that I slipped into them as if I were really there.

I also loved the romance and UST (unresolved sexual tension) between Elena and Gabriel.

I highly recommend this book to young adult (the older side of young adult as there are some detailed sexual scenes) and adult readers who love sci-fi, fantasy, vampires and a great love story. There’s plenty of action and excitement to please everyone.

I’ll certainly be going back to read the first three books.

A 5-star read.

The Thornton Mysteries – Book 3, Draft 2

I’m very pleased to have finished the Second draft of Book 3 of The Thornton Mysteries.

It’s set in the Barossa Valley, northeast of Adelaide, in South Australia, which is an area known for its superb wines. Shiraz grapes are the local speciality.

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Barossa Valley.  Photo by Ellen Read

 

The stone cottages and Lutheran churches throughout the region owe their heritage to a 19th-century wave of German settlers.

My story is also set in Handorf, a beautiful little town, closer to Adelaide. Its German history can be traced back to 1838 when George Fife Angas, a director of a South Australian company, made a trip to London to promote colonisation. During his trip he met Pastor Kavel who was helping German Lutherans, being persecuted by the King of Prussia, to immigrate to safer places.

 

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Photo by Ellen Read

Set in 1928, the Handorf in my story has become Ambleside. Because of the Great War 1914-1918 (World War I), the government changed the name of the town because it sounded too German.

An interesting point I discovered in my research is that Handorf/Ambleside residents were not interned during the war, unless they posed a threat because of strong German allegiances. Anyone who was interned, however, was deported to Germany after the end of the war.

Four days ago at 11.00am on the 11 November, was the 100th Anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, the agreement that warring parties would stop fighting.

In my book, the Thornton family go to the Barossa Valley as Benedict’s parents have a vineyard and winery. Alexandra wants to discover why they rejected Benedict after he returned home from the war.

This was Benedict’s war and he suffers nightmares from the horrors of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Two Title Reveal : The Thornton Mysteries

I’m very pleased to announce the title of Book Two in The Thornton Mysteries Series.

THE INCA’S CURSE

 

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In the 1850’s, Daylesford, in Country Victoria, found itself in the grip of a gold rush. Thomas Thornton Senior made his fortune during those days, as did his friend, Aquilino Bassetti. Giacomo Rigoni remained a dirt miner before he worked for Thomas Thornton Senior.

By 1928, when the Thorntons visit Wombat Hill Manor, their holiday home, tucked into the side of Wombat Hill, Daylesford’s new ‘rush’ is spring water. Mount Franklin, which most Australians know for its spring/mineral water, is close by.

The Thorntons have kept their gold mines in operation, but others, like the Bassettis, have gone into the hotel business. Hungry miners have to eat and drink. In 1928, the Bassettis still own an hotel, cheese factory and mineral springs. The Rigonis remain at Wombat Hill Manor as caretakers and staff.

Through the years, the Inca’s curse has insidiously filtered through the generations, killing with its touch, until at the end, it nearly tears three families apart.

BLURB:  Inca’s Curse – Book 2  is set at the Thornton’s holiday home in Daylesford, country Victoria. Alexandra and Benedict are no sooner there, than Alexandra’s pearls are stolen. Two murders follow. A girl’s body thrown into a lake. The second body is found at the bottom of a collapsed gold mine tunnel.

What do these have to do with the drowning of Thornton Antique’s acting manager in Melbourne?

Then, Alexandra discovers an old love letter written by her grandfather, along with a necklace that is missing a large diamond.

Are the rumours about a cursed necklace true? Can a curse cling to an object and unleash its power through the decades?

Alexandra must discover the truth before more people are killed.

 

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.

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: Eléonore by Faith Rivens.

Elenore

This if Faith Rivens debut novella and it certainly delivers. From the very beginning the story grabbed me and didn’t let go. I haven’t read an Urban Fantasy at all. For my first to find the protagonist is a demon hunter and a librarian and a mother is very appealing. I particularly love the relationship between Eléonore and her son. It’s very touching and real. Rivens portrays a mother’s love so heart-warmingly. Raphael is another engaging character and the dynamics between him and Eléonore are exciting and foreshadow more to be told.

It is well-written, with a snappy pace and has a great structure to the story. I liked the small diary entries at the beginning of each chapter that help the reader understand the demon hierarchy.

I highly recommend this book. You really can’t go wrong.

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.