New Books: October 2016


Hello my fellow bookworms, recently I have managed to keep myself away from those tempting book shops. However, a few lovely, new books have winged their way to be by different routes. Here are the goodies I have added to my Kindle:

Class of ’59 by John A. Heldt

First, I was contacted by the author, John A. Heldt, about his new and fourth instalment to his American Journeys series. I have previously enjoyed his novel, The Mine, so I was happy to accept a review copy of his new novel.

The Lioness and the Spellspinners by Cheryl Mahoney

Recently, I hosted the wonderful author, Cheryl Mahoney, for a guest post on her use of fairy tale references in her new novel. Also, Cheryl kindly sent me a review copy of her new novel which I am super excited about reading.

The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland

Then whilst having a mooch on Netgalley, I spotted Karen Maitland’s new historical fiction being offered to ‘read now’ – I had heard good things about it so I snapped a copy up.

Life of the Beloved by Henri J. M. Nouwen

The King’s Concubine by Anne O’Brien

Finally, I went on Amazon to find a copy of Life of the Beloved which is to be the third read for my church’s book club. Whilst there I spotted The King’s Concubine, an older historical novel, from my favourite historical author, Anne O’Brien, at a bargain price – how could I not snap up a copy?!

Do you fancy any of these? What new book purchases have you made recently?

Challenge: Women’s Classic Literature Event (October)

Blog - Women's Classic Literature Event

Hello my fellow bookworms and classic lovers, it is time for the fourth check-in for The Women’s Classic Literature Event. Since the July check-in I have read:

Mr Harrison’s Confessions by Elizabeth Gaskell

Mr Harrisons Confession

After loving Cranford, I continued The Cranford Chronicles with this charming, comedy of errors when the young, worldly but naïve doctor comes to the small, provincial town of Duncombe.


That is 1 book read in 3 months which I am little disappointed with, however it does bring my total, so far, up to 7 books and I am very pleased with that. Now it is time for the October group question:

Share the most memorable scene from one of your reads for this event.

One of my favourite reads for the event, so far, has to be The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit. It has many memorable scenes I could mention: the children waving their white handkerchiefs at the passing trains; rescuing the young runner from the train tunnel and making flags of the girls’ red petticoats to stop the train. However, I would say my favourite has to be when Bobby, by chance, goes down to the train station to discover when the smoke clears that her father has returned; a really beautiful, memorable and poignant scene.

Have you been reading any classic female authors recently? What is your favourite memorable scene from a women’s classic?

New Read: A Feast For Crows


After watching the sixth, and I think best, season of Game of Thrones to date, I was left feeling bereft! So I decided to throw myself back into George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire book series, that the TV show is based on. Next up for me to read was the fourth book: A Feast For Crows.

After some shocking deaths, Queen Cersei is desperately trying to keep her power and position through her second son, Tommen. However, his seat upon the Iron Throne is precarious, with him being only a child and the terrible rumours of his mother’s adultery and his subsequent illegitimacy. Even with a quick, advantageous marriage, to the beautiful and popular Margery Tyrell of Highgarden, they must still contend with two other strong claimants to the throne: Stannis Baratheon and Daenarys Targaryen. As well as a rebellion brewing in the South; bloody raids by the pirate Iron Lords; a deadly gang of outlaws; a militant faith movement and the coming Winter. Peace seems a distant dream for the Seven Kingdoms.

These books are peopled with a whole host of interesting characters, with each chapter focusing on a different character’s point-of-view. This book, unlike previous books in the series, focuses heavily on the characters in and surrounding the capital, Kings Landing. Which means we get to hear a lot from the point-of-view of Queen Cersei and her twin brother Jaime. Cersei is a cruel, manipulative character who will do anything for power but she also thinks she is protecting her family – I love to hate her! While Jaime started out just as bad he does at least seem to be changing and atoning for them now.

Meanwhile, a few chapters follow Brienne, the lady knight, who is on an important mission for Jaime; Sansa Stark who is hiding from the wrath of Cersei; Arya Stark who has travelled across the sea and Samwell Tarly who is making his way to the Citadel. Some very notable characters are marked by their absence though. We hear some rumours but sadly, see nothing of Jon Snow and Stannis Baratheon up on The Wall, or of Cersei’s hated brother Tyrion, or of Daenarys Targaryen across the sea in Slaver’s Bay. Jon, Tyrion and Daenarys (as well as Arya) are my favourite characters, so I really, really hope we will see more of them in the next book!

With so much action, drama and interesting characters I found it very hard to put this book down and considering the epic length, I reached the end before I knew it. Like the previous books, it is jam-packed with action, adventure, intrigue, love, war, lies, fighting, secrets, and shocks! I love Martin’s detailed and compelling writing and how he allows us to explore different cities, castles, and lands through the eyes of different characters. In particular, for the first time in this book we glimpsed the cold, brutal life on the Iron Islands and the tension growing in the hot, exotic land of Dorne. I warn you there are a lot of names, places, and events to remember in these books. However, I haven’t found it that hard to keep track, especially as there are fantastic maps and appendix to help.

A Feast For Crows is another excellent, epic fantasy adventure and drama. I can’t wait to read more and I should be able to fit another book in before the return of the TV show. Great read.

Have you read this or other books in the series? Are you watching the TV series?

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XI – 1/4

Guest Post: Cheryl Mahoney on Fairy Tale Connections


I am super excited to have Cheryl Mahoney back on my blog for the fourth time to discuss all the interesting connections she has made between her books and fairy tales. I don’t usually host guest posts but I always make a special exception for Cheryl; a fellow book blogger at Tales of the Marvelous, and the author of The Wanderers, The Storyteller and Her Sisters and The People the Fairies Forget. Take it away Cheryl…

I’m delighted to be welcomed onto Jessica’s blog for a guest post today! I love stories that draw in references and connections to other stories, creating a bigger tapestry beyond a single book.  Today, I’m going to explore a bit about some of those connections layered into my newest book—with maybe a secret or two from the author’s-eye view!

My Beyond the Tales series began with the intention to create larger, more complex, hopefully more logical (!) stories that go beyond what we see in the traditional fairy tales. The Wanderers pulls in frequent elements from fairy tales, like youngest sons always succeeding at quests; The Storyteller and Her Sisters retells “The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces;” and The People the Fairies Forget retells “Sleeping Beauty,” “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast” from new points of view. The Lioness and the Spellspinners is closer to the first book, more independent in plot—but still with plenty of fairy tales references for readers to spot.

In the first portion of the book, one of the chief challenges for the characters is strange spells cropping up without explanation. I hope readers won’t immediately solve the mystery of the spells, but will recognize the literary sources: I use elements of “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “The Red Shoes,” plus a talking animal who could be from many fairy tales.

A later scene involves exploring a magician’s study. This particular magician is a collector of magical items, and I had fun thinking of objects to present from different tales.  The magician has traditional things like Snow White’s apple, walnuts from the tale of “Donkeyskin,” and a golden apple from Greek mythology.  I also couldn’t resist a teacup with a chip in the rim!

Besides connections to fairy tales, I like connecting my various novels. Each book in the series can be read independently, but readers of multiple books will spot connections.  This one links most closely to The Storyteller and Her Sisters.  The princesses in that tale must free twelve princes from a curse, and Lioness is set in the princes’ country, in pre-curse days.  Prince Dastan, the love interest in Storyteller, appears as a child in Lioness.

Magical knitting is a major theme in this book that has not directly appeared in the others—but there is a small link.  I added an extra detail at the last possible moment when I was doing final edits for Storyteller.  That book came out October, 2014, a month before I started writing Lioness, but I was already working out the magic system.  I was just barely in time to include a new detail where Dastan gives my heroine a scarf, dyed a special color that is a trade secret in their country. Lioness reveals what that scarf and color mean magically, for readers who go back to compare the details.

I also had to sneak in another character—Sam Jones is a personal favorite character of mine, who has made appearances in every novel I’ve written, including the unpublished ones I wrote in high school.  He’s always earnest, well-meaning and deeply clumsy.  He already appeared in the other books in this series, and with this one set significantly earlier he can’t really be the same person…so we have to assume that the Sam in this book is an ancestor of the other one.  But really, they’re all Sam, and I was particularly pleased to be able to give him a nice moment highlighting his best qualities.

I hope readers will enjoy looking for the connections in the story—and I haven’t given away every secret about characters or references that may turn up!

Thank you so much Cheryl for another great post. I loved your previous books and I can’t wait to read your new one:

The Lioness and the Spellspinners

Forrest can’t fathom this prickly, knife-wielding girl who so unceremoniously turns up in his family’s barn one morning. His life has never been thisthe-lioness-cover exciting.  Karina can’t make herself trust the strangely hospitable villagers on this island she’s now stuck on, and when they claim they can knit spells into their garments, that doesn’t help.  She knows magic exists, but that’s just ridiculous.

And no one can understand why the chickens have suddenly started laying gilded eggs, or why the horse is talking in rhyming couplets.

When the inexplicable magic goes from mere bad poetry to actual threats, when dancing becomes dangerous and the wrong thought could cause disaster, the only answers are in the past Karina is fleeing—and the only way to survive is for the knife-wielder to trust the spellspinner.

The Lioness and the Spellspinners is now available to buy in paperback or Kindle edition at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Have you read any of Cheryl’s wonderful books? Are you looking forward to reading her new one?

Top Ten Tuesday: Literary-Inspired Baby Names

Blog - Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

Ten Characters I’d Name A Child/Dog/Cat/Car/Etc.

I’ve decided to go with names for a child which has made it quite a tough topic. As there are so many cool character names I love, however would I necessarily name my child them i.e. Bilbo, Aslan, Katniss, etc…. perhaps not. After some thought though here are my favourite literary-inspired baby names (ordered alphabetically):

~ 1 ~


Young gunslinger and childhood friend of Roland Deschain in the epic Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I think it is a bit different but not too out there to call a child in the real world.

~ 2 ~


The legendary king and hero of the Medieval, Arthurian tales. A classic name which I secretly hoped Prince William and Kate would have chosen for their son, George, because when he grew up we could’ve had a real King Arthur!

~ 3 ~


The strong, patient and selfless heroine of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. A beautiful name and a wonderful character to be named after.

~ 4 ~


The strong, independent and witty heroine of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. A beautiful, Biblical name and a wonderful character to be named after; plus we’ve had two great queens with the name too.

~ 5 ~


The magical protagonist of the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness which also links back to the goddess of the hunt, moon and nature in Roman Mythology. A classic name that I have loved for some time.

~ 6 ~


The brave, steadfast hero of Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. A strong, Biblical name and a great character to be named after.

~ 7 ~


The young, kind and brave protagonist of the magical Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. A good, traditional name but which is very popular at the moment.

~ 8 ~


The first name of the scheming and ingenious Professor Moriarty; archenemy of Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic mysteries. Another strong, Biblical name and a cool character to be named after.

~ 9 ~


The alternative and kick-ass protagonist from the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. I think it is a bit different but not too out there to call my child.

~ 10 ~


The female member of Roland Deschain’s Ka-tet in the epic Dark Tower series by Stephen King. A beautiful name which a few authors have too, although spelt differently, e.g. Susanna Kearsley and Suzannah Dunn.

What are your favourite literary-inspired baby names? Also, link in the comments if you have taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic too.

Meme: The Bookish Time Travel Tag


After reading Jane @ Beyond Eden Rock wonderful answers I was thrilled to find I had been tagged at the end of her post. So let’s have a look at the wonderful books and authors which have transported me through time:

What is your favourite historical setting for a book?

I’m not sure I have just one favourite historical setting – I have enjoyed many books that have taken me back to the War of the Roses, Tudor and Victorian times, and the roaring twenties. Plus there are many more time periods I would love to be taken back to too.

* * * * *

What writer/s would you like to travel back in time to meet?

This is a no brainer for me, I would have to travel back in time to meet C. S. Lewis. Best known for writing the magical children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia, as well as some powerful Christian literature. Over a nice cup of tea, I would love to pick his brain on the inspiration for Narnia and his conversion to Christianity.

* * * * *

What book/s would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?

If I had the chance, I would travel back in time to give my younger self a copy of the beautiful and inspiring Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Even though I loved this tale as an adult, I do wonder how much more I would have related with it when at an age nearer to the March sisters themselves.

* * * * *

What book/s would you travel forward in time and give to your older self?

If I had the chance to travel forward I think I might give my older self our family’s old, battered copy of The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. Simply because I really want it to survive!

* * * * *

What is your favourite futuristic setting from a book?

I think my favourite futuristic setting is Panem from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to visit and I definitely wouldn’t want to live there, but it is a fascinating, intricate and believable setting to read about.

* * * * *

What is your favourite book that is set in a different time period (can be historical or futuristic)?

Ooo just one favourite book set in a different time period?! Okay, I will just go for the one that first came to mind which was Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Although this novel doesn’t take the reader that far back, I do love how it allows us to glimpse the glamour and freedom of the 1920/30’s.

* * * * *

Spoiler Time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book just to see what happens?

I don’t believe I have ever skipped ahead to the end of a book, however when reading Stephen King’s gripping series, The Dark Tower, I often skipped ahead a bit because I couldn’t sleep until I knew the characters would be okay!

* * * * *

If you had a Time Turner, where would you go and what would you do?

It might seem a bit simple but if I had a Time Turner I would use it to fit in more reading!

* * * * *

Favourite book (if you have one) that includes time travel or takes place in multiple time periods?

When it comes to multiple/dual time period novels the author I have been impressed by time and again is Susanna Kearsley. One of my favourite novels by her is The Rose Garden which actually involves some time travel as the protagonist moves between two time periods.

* * * * *

What book/series do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time?

I think this is perhaps the toughest question for me. One of my favourite books/series of all time is The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. While I would love to re-discover the magic of the first time I read them, I also love the familiarity and comfort I experience re-reading them too.

* * * * *

Now here are the fellow bloggers I would like to tag to take part (that weren’t already tagged in Jane’s post). There is no pressure to take part, I would just be interested in seeing your answers:

Have you enjoyed any of my choices? What great books have transported you in time?

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favourite Villains

Blog - Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

All About The Villains

For me, Autumn is a time for mysteries, thrillers and other books on the darker and creepier side, and what would they be without a good villain?! So here is a list of my top ten favourite literary villains (ordered alphabetically):

~ 1 ~

Count Dracula

Transylvanian nobleman and centuries old vampire, antagonist of Bram Stoker’s gothic horror, Dracula. An alluring, dangerous and love-sick villain, who I would be in serious danger of falling for; especially when he is played by Gary Oldman!

~ 2 ~

Ebenezer Scrooge

The cold-hearted, miserly protagonist of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. While Scrooge starts out all bad, it is wonderful to watch his miraculous transformation and final redemption.

~ 3 ~

Frankenstein’s Monster

Often mistakenly called Frankenstein after his creator and/or book title, the monster or creature of Mary Shelley’s gothic horror, Frankenstein, actually has no name. A nameless, confused and shunned figure who I can’t help having some sympathy for.

~ 4 ~


A villain so feared and reviled that most characters in J K Rowling’s fantasy, Harry Potter series won’t even use his name out loud. Lord Voldermort or Tom Riddle is a dark wizard who will stop at nothing for power and influence over others.

~ 5 ~

Professor James Moriarty

Criminal mastermind who keeps the famous detective Sherlock Holmes on his toes in several of Arthur Conan Doyle’s crime stories – anyone who can get Holmes second guessing is a great villain in my book.

~ 6 ~

Mrs. Danvers

Manderley’s head housekeeper and chief antagonist of Daphne du Maurier’s gothic Rebecca. A bitter, cruel and manipulative woman who seeks to undermine the new Mrs. de Winter at every opportunity.

~ 7 ~

Cersei Lannister

A central point-of-view character in George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. The scheming and ruthless Queen of the Seven Kingdoms – a character you love to hate; portrayed brilliantly in the TV series by Lena Headey.

~ 8 ~


Dark lord, necromancer and main antagonist of J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. In which Sauron is an evil spirit who takes the form of a giant, unsleeping eye which wishes to cover the land in a second darkness.

~ 9 ~


A terrible dragon who has stolen the home and treasure of the dwarves in J. R. R. Tolkien’s children’s fantasy novel, The Hobbit. A greedy, highly intelligent and cunning villain who you shouldn’t strike up a conversation with!

~ 10 ~

Jadis, the White Witch

A powerful witch and main antagonist of C. S. Lewis’ children’s fantasy novel, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The cruel, self-styled Queen of Narnia who has brought perpetual winter and fear to the inhabitants of the land.

Who are your favourite villains? Also, link in the comments if you have also taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic.