Setting Sail

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I haven’t posted for a while, a period during which we have been packing and purging our house. I will be away for a while more, as we move next week. Our problem now is that our new house is not ready, so we can’t close on it. It seems that state laws say you cannot move into a house with no appliances (there is a refrigerator there, but no cook top or stove). Which could mean a long time in a hotel.  And a long time for our poor cat to be boarded. Please send a few prayers up that this is resolved for us!

Moving has given me packing brain, along with some underlying melancholia that I am leaving a house in which I raised my kids, spent my entire career, and grew old. There have been some small moments of tears, but I need to move on. Life is a series of changes, and some people, myself included, don’t handle change well.

I’ll be back in November with some posts from my book, The Last Pilgrim. November saw the end of the Mayflower’s journey, but not the end of the many obstacles the Pilgrims faced.

Wish me luck as I embark on my own voyage!

Book Review: Out of the London Mist by Lyssa Medana (@LMedana) #RBRT #Steampunk #Victorian London

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I believe Out of the London Mist may be the first steampunk novel I’ve read. The book was purchased for review by Rosie’s Book Review Team.

The story opens with the visit of John Farnley to the East End of London to the shop of a metal worker who has frequently made parts for Farnley’s aether-powered plane. The shop was the last place John’s brother, Sir Nicholas Farnley, visited before being killed in a nearby street. This area of London was one which Sir Nicholas would never visit, and John is determined to trace his last steps and find his murderer.

John is faced with now being a nobleman, Sir John Farnley, and all that entails, plus having to sort out family business and holdings, which entail the mining of aether crystals, a source of power in Victorian England. He must also comfort his sister-in-law, who was a decorative wife to his brother but proves to be a competent household manager of the little-used London home.

A dense London fog is blanketing London, and it becomes a character unto itself, well drawn by the author. She also creates the world of the East End slums, a deadly place where life is cheap and people walking alone are preyed upon.

John discovers that his brother was helping the father of the metal worker, a rabbi involved in creating something monstrous which now lurks in the mist-shrouded corners of the East End. People are dying from being beaten with inhuman force, and John suspects his brother was one of the victims. Aiding him in his investigation is the resourceful Miss Sylvia Armley, brave and fearless. John has an intimate understanding of the aether lines that flow above London and of the advantages and disadvantages of using aether crystals as a power source, and he is helped to understand why his brother was collaborating with the rabbi by the erudite advice of Professor Entwistle, a close friend of the rabbi.

Together with Miss Armley, John finds travels though the darkest part of London to determine exactly what his brother was doing and to stop the aether-powered monster that killed him. The ending was not at all what I expected, and I can see another book to follow this one.

The author does an excellent job limning her characters and creating a steampunk world. I enjoyed the detail and the dialogue moved crisply along. The most compelling aspect was the way in which she created the foggy world, at once opaque and frightening. The mystery compels you to read on. For my first adventure into steampunk, this book is a winner.

The author tells a good story, and I am going to download some of her other books.

 About the author:

Lyssa Medana is a wife and mother Yorkshire, UK. She loves telling stories and feels privileged to be able to share them. She is fascinated by the odd, the quirky and the unusual and enjoys dipping in to old folklore and English social history, which she shamelessly uses for her writing. Her hobbies include knitting, reading and heckling history documentaries.

Lyssa is the author of a number of other books, among them The Forgotten Village, Digging Up the Past, Tales from the White Hart, and Dinner at Dark.

You can find her on

Twitter: @LMedana

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LMedana/

And on her blog: https://alwaysanotherchapter.co.uk/

Out of the London Mist can be found on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B089DHTDDG/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0

 

Book Review: Drake – Tudor Corsair by Tony Riches (@Tony Riches) #RBRT # historical fiction #Elizabethan era

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Avast, all you fans of Tony Riches! The author has gone to sea, introducing us to Sir Francis Drake. Having confined himself to land with the Tudor series and other wonderful stories of men and women peopling the Tudor era, the author has found his sea legs.

I am, probably like many, cognizant of the name Francis Drake but know little about him except for a vague colorful impression. Born in Devonshire, England, Drake was the son of a tenant farmer on the estate of the earl of Bedford, but was brought up in Plymouth by his relatives, the Hawkins family. The Hawkins worked as merchants and privateers (pirates) and introduced Drake to sailing. The book opens with Drake’s first posting as crew on the Tiger, a slave ship in the flotilla of Hawkins ships. Drake’s thirst for adventure is satisfied as the flotilla is sails to seek fortune and trade goods in the Caribbean after visiting Africa for a cargo of slaves. Riches handles this distasteful aspect of Drake’s life in a straightforward fashion with tact.

He follows Drake through his early voyages and his rise through the ranks to become captain of his own ship. Skirting death and capture by the Spanish during these voyages, he learns of routes used to transport Spanish silver and gold, and risks his life to return to England more than once with a large amount of Spanish treasure, an accomplishment that earned him a substantial reputation along with a fortune.

Queen Elizabeth is intrigued by Drake and secretly encourages his piracy. In 1577, she commissions Drake to lead an expedition around South America through the Straits of  Magellan. Sailing the Golden Hind, he becomes the first to complete circumnavigation of the world in a single expedition, returning with enough Spanish treasure to force the Spanish to assemble an armada to attack England.

 

Writing in first person, the author explores Drake’s motives, audacity, personal disappointments, successes and failures with an objective eye. Riches is terse in detail – something I’ve noticed sets him apart from many of the female writers of the Tudor era – but gives us enough of Drake’s world to put us en scene. As a sailor, I especially liked being at sea with him, feeling the deck roll beneath my feet, the force of a good wind, and the swelling and snapping of the sails.

It was a surprise to discover that Drake was not the swashbuckling, flamboyant figure I thought he was, but a practical man, certainly drawn into Elizabethan court intrigue but not really of it. Riches creates a real person, one whose main pleasure in life is being the captain of a ship, with a purpose for his voyage.

If there is one criticism I would make, it is my frustration with not knowing what the different types of ships mentioned, or on which Drake sailed, look like. A chart or some line drawings at the beginning would have been lovely, along with a map of the Caribbean and the places Drake explored.

Notwithstanding that, I think Tony Riches’ first sea voyage is a successful one that will please not on his usual readers but also anyone drawn to sea adventures.

About the author:

Tony Riches was born in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, and spent part of his childhood in Kenya. He gained a BA degree in Psychology and an MBA from Cardiff University and worked as a Management Consultant, followed by senior roles in the Welsh NHS and Local Government.

After writing several successful non-fiction books, Tony decided to turn to novel writing. His real interest is in the history of the fifteenth century, and now his focus is on writing historical fiction about the lives of key figures of the period. His novels Warwick, The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses and The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham have both become Amazon best sellers.

Today Tony has returned to Pembrokeshire, an area full of inspiration for his writing, where he lives with his wife. In his spare time he enjoys sailing and sea kayaking.

Visit Tony online at

http://www.tonyriches.co.uk,

You can find Drake – Tudor Corsair on Amazon at:

A Lovely Review of the Last Pilgrim by Sally Cronin

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Our much-loved Sally Cronin has posted a wonderful review of my latest book, The Last Pilgrim, on her web site:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2020/09/10/smorgasbord-book-reviews-historical-the-last-pilgrim-by-noelle-granger/comment-page-1/#comment-360457

I am so honored that she liked it! That book was a labor of love.

 

If you plan to read, are reading, are or have read my book, I’d be so grateful if you’d post a review on Amazon and Goodreads!

 

Book review: The Covenant by Thorne Moore (@ThorneMoore) “#RBRT #historical fiction

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The Covenant is a powerful novel, which gobsmacked me with the fierce emotions of its characters and the immutable future of unending work and forced acceptance of their fate by women in the period of this story. This is a prequel to the author’s best-selling A Time for Silence and is a must-read.

Written in first person, the author has created in Leah Owen, the middle daughter of a farmer in Wales at the close of the 19th century, a woman burdened by both love and duty. Her father, Tom Owen, is a tenant farmer on twenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches of stony, hilly land, and together with his oldest son, barely ekes out a subsistence for his family. The farm – Cwmderwen (and I wish I could pronounce it!) – and its house are very real characters in the story, setting a grim, rundown background as the result of debt and poor harvest.

Leah has hopes. As the middle daughter, she will be able to marry and leave Cwmderwen to lead her own life. Her oldest sister, a strangely quiet and dour woman, will remain behind to care for her parents. When the oldest son Tom dies, largely because of the ignorance of his father, the father, always pious, becomes a religious zealot. He drives his lazy youngest son, Frank, away. When both the oldest and youngest daughter marry and her mother dies, Leah is left to take care of her increasingly maniacal father, even when love comes her way. She is forced to follow a path of servitude and disappointments to a grim future. Tom Owen’s grandson, John – son of the wastrel Frank – becomes a miniature of his grandfather, claiming his covenant with God in keeping the farm and determined to keep the increasingly unproductive farm.

What possible future does Leah have? Can she remain dutiful, even to Frank and her nephew, bound as she is by the community, church and custom? And how can she survive when her every dream is crushed by her family.

The author does an impressive job creating a background of isolated and rural Pembrokeshire, the changing seasons and vicissitudes of farming. The detail never becomes heavy but is integral to the story. Her ability to create depth in her characters, their beliefs and piety, and the changes and occasional joys in their lives is exceptional. The reader lives in Leah’s being and the feelings are at times overwhelming.

This is a book with a wallop, and I recommend it as an exceptional read.

About the author:

Thorne Moore grew up in Luton, near London, but has lived in Pembrokeshire in West Wales for the last 35 years. She writes psychological crime, or domestic noir, with a historical twist, focusing on the cause and consequences of crimes rather than on the details of the crimes themselves. A Time For Silence, set in Pembrokeshire, was published by Honno in 2012. It was followed by Motherlove and The Unravelling, set partly in a fictional version of Luton. Shadows, published by Endeavour in 2017, is set in an old house in Pembrokeshire, and is paired with Long Shadows, which explained the history and mysteries of the same house from Medieval times to the late Victorian period.

She belongs to a group of female Welsh writers who founded Honno Welsh Women’s Press with a goal of seeing see that women in Wales have a wider opportunity to see their writing in print.

You can find Thorne Moore:

On Twitter: @ThorneMoore

On her website:  https://thornemoore.com/

On Facebook videos: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=608140386514466

And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thorne.moore.7/

You can find The Covenant on Amazon:

 

 

Book Review: Miss Tavistock’s Mistake by Linore Rose Burkard (@LinoreRBurkard) #RBRT #Regency romance

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I am not a fan of romance novels but decided to challenge myself and read this one for Rosie’s Book Reviews. I did enjoy this book.

Miss Tavistock’s Mistake reminds me strongly of a Restoration play by William Congreve – The Way of the World – in that it is an examination of the social conventions of love and marriage at the time, with wit, banter and disguises, seasoned by delicate impropriety – in other words, a comedy of manners. This book is perhaps more light and frothy.

The story takes place a century later than Congreve’s plays, during the Regency Period, the decade between 1811 and 1820, a time of particular manners and fashions and of authors such as Jane Austin and Sir Walter Scott.

Dramatis personae:

Feodora Margaret Tavistock, an orphan from America who comes at age nine to live with her uncle, the Duke of Trent. At age nineteen, she wants nothing more than to live in London for the ‘Season’, the time when unmarried young women meet prospective husbands at a series of social events.

Gabriel Rempeare, the Duke’s nephew, who comes to little Miss Tavistock’s rescue when she first arrives. He becomes a captain in his Majesty’s Navy and is betrothed to his cousin Margaret, as she wishes to be called now, by the wishes of both their deceased parents.

Mrs. Filbert, Miss Tavistock’s older lady companion.

The Duke of Trent, a widower who loves his niece and with the right incentive will give refuse her nothing.

Lady X, a mysterious woman who is reputed to be the Duke’s mistress.

Captain Rempear has not seen Margaret in ten years when he returns after being decommissioned from the Navy due to an injury and the loss of his ship. An unfortunate confrontational meeting between them before being re-introduced causes Miss Tavistock to identify herself as Lady X, a woman identified in the newspapers as the lover of her uncle. She finds the Captain infuriating and vows not to marry him.

The plot only becomes more twisted from there, as Miss Tavistock is allowed by her uncle to go with Mrs. Filbert to London, where she herself up in an independent household, maintaining her identity as Lady X. Captain Rempear, unable to find his cousin but nevertheless determined keep his word to marry her, also goes to London, where he finds himself increasingly drawn to Lady X.  Secrets, lies, misdirection and misunderstandings created by Miss Tavistock make the reader wonder whether Captain Rempear, with whom she falls in love, can ever forgive her – if he finally figures out who she really is.

The author must have done a god job creating Miss Tavistock because I became infuriated with her continuing lies and deceptions and wanted to whack her upside the head, as they say here in the South. Captain Rempear is suitably handsome and charismatic and I was compelled to feel sorry for the way our heroine toyed with him.

The author’s command of Regency vernacular (which sent me to a computer!) and the period manners, dress and furnishings is excellent and give the story a historical richness.

This book will appeal to historical fiction aficionados and especially to readers who enjoy wholesome, romantic stories laced with comedy.

About the author:

Linore Rose Burkard is a serious watcher of period films, a Janeite, and hopeless romantic. An award-winning author best known for Inspirational Regency Romance, her first novel (Before the Season Ends) opened the genre for the CBA. Besides historical romance, Linore writes contemporary suspense (The Pulse Effex Series, as L.R. Burkard), contemporary romance (Falling In), and romantic short stories (ie., Three French Hens). Linore has a magna cum laude English Lit. degree from CUNY which she earned while taking herself far too seriously. She now resides in Ohio with her husband and family, where she turns her youthful angst into character or humor-driven plots.

You can find the author

On Twitter: @LinoreRBurkard

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LinoreRoseBurkard/
And on her blog: https://hopeinspiredstories.blogspot.com

 

Miss Tavistock’s Mistake can be found on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Miss+Tavistock%27s+Mistake&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

 

Selling a house during the pandemic or how to make your life even more miserable

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I don’t know about you, but as a writer, the initial quarantine during the corona virus was no sweat. My husband and I just continued our lives as usual – I have my writing and he works in the yard. We managed to see my daughter and her family occasionally because they also quarantined, working from home. We were virus-less.

We had decided very early this year that it was time to sell our beloved home. It is too expensive for us on retirees’ salaries and we rattle around in it with the kids gone. Covid arrived in March, but we decided to plow ahead, especially since we had found another house that suited us well.

Thus toward the end of the second month, we started shoveling 35 years of accumulated ‘stuff’ from our house. I lost 12 pounds of winter fat winnowing every drawer, cabinet and closet to near emptiness. The local landfill may have to be named for us, because there is nowhere open to donate, not even libraries.

We had an inspector come to let us know of any problems and got back a 67 page report. Most of it was photos, but the suggested changes cost thousands of dollars, with men possibly carrying those nasty little virus particles coming in and out of the house.  We instituted rules: masks, gloves and keep you distance and we survived. Whew!

Then the house went on the market, and now we have what I like to call fire drills several times a week: we run around like chickens with their heads cut off (now that’s a visual!) making sure the house is dusted and vacuumed and wiped down and all personal things are cleared away from the counters (into those previously empty drawers) before each showing. My poor cat thinks his food bowl lives in a cabinet (it does). We did have to leave his litter box out, though, to avoid accidents while we are away, but we load it with new litter each time for that nice, fresh smell.  I’ve noticed he spends more time digging in it…

Our generally optimistic natures and confidence that the house was perfect

took some hits when the comments from the showings came rolling in, all to them sure to drive a stake into a seller’s hearts:

  • The windows are old and leak. They’re old but they don’t leak. There’s no glass.

  • The upstairs floors creak and are uneven. They’re dirt but we ran around with marbles anyway trying to figure out where they were uneven. You’d think the inspector would have caught that.

  • The floor plan is awkward. Whatever floats your boat. It’s only one room.

  • And the best one of all: UPGRADES NEEDED THROUGHOUT.

We’ve been upgrading the house for 35 years – baths and kitchen remodeled, the interior painted, a new roof and a new HVC system installed, windows sealed. I’m thinking a huge, walk-in closet…..so we lowered the price.

Last night, after the latest ‘Upgrades…,” I hit a wine bottle and went to bed at 9:30.

I miss my friends, I miss eating out, and if it weren’t for a frequent infusion of cuteness from my grandson, I’d be drinking whisky for breakfast and wouldn’t bathe. Or brush my teeth. Or comb my hair. Just don’t mention any upgrades.

A Conversation with Geoffrey Gudgion, author of Draca

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My guest today is Geoffrey Gudgion, author of Draca, a sailing adventure and family epic I reviewed last week. We both love to sail so I chose Lymington, Hampshire for our meeting – a lovely harbor from which to sail – and the Mayflower pub (an homage to the Pilgrims) for a drink. Mine is a Guinness, of course.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome, Geoff, to SaylingAway. I’d like to start with a general question: Tell me something about yourself and your background.

I spent over 10 years in the Royal Navy, and made my first attempts at writing a book while on deployment. Fortunately those efforts don’t survive. A subsequent business career was fairly successful, though I never truly fitted with Corporate America; I was the quiet Brit amidst colleagues punching the air and shouting “Awesome!” After a blistering row with my CEO I left, funded my way with consultancy, and wrote in the gaps. Now I just write. I’ve found what I should have been doing all along.

So where do you get the ideas for your books?

Wall-Mart? But seriously, ideas can come from anywhere. I once wrote a whole novel after staring at a 14th Century wall painting in an old English chapel. I like history, the interplay of characters, (particularly strong female characters,) and a hint of ‘otherworldliness’ – that whiff of sulphur among the roses.

The idea for Draca came watching the sun go down over an isolated, atmospheric anchorage, a place of screaming seagulls where the ebbing tide revealed the bones of dead ships poking through the mud. I wondered what stories those timbers could tell. What if they were really old? After all, the Vikings raided that harbour in 876AD. The idea took hold.

One of the major themes in Draca is sailing, something I’ve been doing since I was a preteen, and one of the reasons I enjoyed Draca so much. Tell me about your sailing experiences and how you plotted out the sailing sequences in the book.

I learned to sail as a fumbling 17 year old cadet off Dartmouth, though the only advice I remember now is being told by a bearded Petty Officer ‘always remember lad, when you see the seagulls walking it’s time to go about’.  Years later a friend asked me to crew for him in a voyage around Brittany into Biscay. It became an annual event, either in the English Channel or the Baltic. It only stopped being fun once, when gale-force winds blew against a 5-knot tide off Alderney, and the sea went from moderate to brutal before we found shelter. The waves get higher every time I tell the story, but it was useful background for Draca.

I found the sailing sequences pretty breath-taking, reminding me all too well of my own death grip on the gunwales in some pretty high seas. I think a movie of Draca would be spectacular visually, especially with all the CGI effects possible now. Who would you cast to play the characters in Draca in a movie?

Charlotte is cool, sophisticated, and sexy. Natalie Dormer (Ann Boleyn in The Tudors).

Georgia, ‘George’, is innocent, even naïve, but strong as steel underneath. Maisie Williams (Arya Stark from Game of Thrones).

Jack I see as a younger Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn in Lord of the Rings); strong, brooding, Nordic. My wife thinks he’s hunky and calls him Viagra Mortensen.

I hate to cast an actor I admire as Harry, but Sean Bean could do the job, if he asked me nicely.

I love all those actors, especially Sean Bean. He’s been a favorite of mine for a long time.

Changing the topic – rather abruptly – are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you plot the entire novel and know who did it before you start, or can that change?

I once heard an author quote Michelangelo ‘I saw the angel within the marble and I carved until I set him free’, but anyone who claims to envision an entire novel at the outset is either extraordinarily talented, and pretentious, or blowing smoke. I usually have an end-point in mind but my angels start with three legs and ears for wings, and take a lot of re-crafting before they can fly. Eventually the characters become so real that they take over and shape their own destinies. Then I begin to think I might have a winner.

What are you working on now, Geoff? 

I’ve finished a ‘historical fantasy’ novel, more Guy Gavriel Kay than George RR Martin, loosely based on 14th century France and with a female protagonist. My agent is wonderfully enthusiastic about it, but says that publishers are currently making very few acquisitions while so many releases have been delayed. Meanwhile he’s encouraging me to crack on with a sequel. I think there will be a third book in the series, possibly more.

So we’re just going to have to wait! What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I love horses. Last year I bought a competition show jumper who is forcing me to up my game. She is so highly trained that when I climb on she behaves rather like a princess trying to understand a yokel. Riding is the antidote for lots of time staring at a computer screen. Outdoors. Physical. And just a little dangerous.

I also rode, but with my parents when I was little. My daughter used to compete in the Hunter-Jumper class. I spent so much time grooming horses, I became allergic. I have to load up on antihistamines. 

Here’s something off the wall: What makes you laugh?

The richest laughter comes from the chemistry with another person. It begins with eye contact that promises mischief, and erupts through a shared sense of the ridiculous. I like dry, British humour best.

That’s why I watch the BBC a lot!

Geoff, if you could invite anyone past or present to have dinner with you, who would you ask?

Only one? Joan of Arc would be interesting, (did she really hear angel voices?) but possibly too pious to be amusing. Ann Boleyn, the witty flirt who captivated a king, would be fun especially if she arrived in her Natalie Dormer persona.

I’ve really enjoyed our conversation, even though I did jump around a bit with the questions. I think my followers will get a good sense of who you are!

Noelle, thank you so much for inviting me. I’ve enjoyed the beer, and it’s been a breeze!

Don’t forget to let me know when your next book is out.

*****

You can find Draca on Amazon (see my review, too):

https://www.amazon.com/Draca-Geoffrey-Gudgion-ebook/dp/B087CCVKLV/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3RAU7QXM0U7MV&dchild=1&keywords=draca+geoffrey+gudgion&qid=1597847138&s=digital-text&sprefix=Draca%2Cdigital-text%2C157&sr=1-1

Followers, here are Geoff’s previous books:

Corn GoddessShort stories with a subtle, other-worldly twist

https://www.amazon.com/Goddess-Other-Stories-Geoffrey-Gudgion-ebook/dp/B0861WCQC7/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=corn+goddess+geoffrey+gudgion&qid=1597847194&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

Saxon’s Bane –  mixes ancient legends and wisdom with a modern adventure, romance and supernatural elements.

https://www.amazon.com/Saxons-Bane-Geoffrey-Gudgion-ebook/dp/B00ESH8YWC/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=Saxon%27s+Bane&qid=1597847094&s=digital-text&sr=1-3