Wednesday, 10 October 2018

The Dangerous Friends Trilogy by Jennifer Young

Today Claire Lyons reviews The Dangerous Friends Series by Jennifer Young. The author has very kindly offered ebooks of all 3 books of the trilogy as a giveaway to one very lucky winner. To be in with a chance of winning this wonderful prize, simply leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Good luck!




 When Bronte O'Hara finds an injured man in her kitchen in the run-up to an international political summit in Edinburgh, a world she thought she'd left behind catches up with her. But once the man has made his escape, the police seem less interested in finding out where he went and how he came to be there than they are in Bronte's past - more specifically, her ex-boyfriend, Eden Mayhew. Eden's an anarchist, up to his neck in any trouble around - and he's missing. The police are keen to find him, certain that he'll come back. Who can she trust - and what has Eden's disappearance got to do with the handsome stranger?

There are currently three books set in modern day Edinburgh, following the lives of Bronte O’Hara and Marcus Fleming… and it’s complicated!

Bronte is a wonderful character, and I immediately liked her – I suspect she’s a bit like my younger self. Working in a large bank doesn’t sit very well with her values or her private life – to add to her woes she comes home to find a man unconscious on her kitchen floor… and so begins a rip roaring tale of deceit, passion, environmental activism, spies and even romance! It’s a very compelling and fast paced story with twists and turns at every corner. I was a little daunted at reading all three, but once I started I just had to know what happened next and read them all back to back.

Each book would stand alone, but I recommend reading them together if possible as the love story needs the slow build of understanding and affection, of two people learning to accept their differences and making sense of their inexplicable need to save each other. To get the deeper emotions and to see more clearly why they behave the way they do in the later books, it would help to have started at the beginning. It also makes finally meeting some of the family members a real treat as you will have heard about them in snippets in the earlier books.


The supporting cast of characters are just as well defined and polished as Bronte and Marcus – they each play an important role in the first and subsequent books (even the dead have an influence). I enjoyed the intensity of the story and the modern topics that Jennifer tackles with sensitivity and care. Despite being challenging subject matter the books aren’t overly graphic or gratuitous and I liked being allowed to imagine my own scenes in addition to what we are told, rather than being spoon fed every word. Jennifer manages to contain issues within the stories without making sweeping judgements or giving ‘lectures’ to the reader, there is a healthy dialogue throughout all the books highlighting different ideas and opinions which allows the reader to come to their own conclusions.


One aspect I particularly enjoyed was having an independent and flawed female lead, there is a good mix of both men and women being ‘saved’ in various ways and there are several strong female characters which made a refreshing change.  Although not a coming of age book, I did recognise the changes that Bronte goes through as an undercurrent to the stories, as she battles with a complicated series of events in her life and has to decide what she wants, and then fight for that. Getting to know her is a pleasant thread throughout the stories and I really hope there are more to come!

This series would suit people who like a crime novel, and edgy romance rather than sex scenes. The writing is crisp and fresh, and the Scottish setting is very evocative. They tackle modern policing methods, activism, international politics, the slave trade, environmental issues and the aftermath of violence.

About the Author: Jennifer Young is an Edinburgh-based author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Her books are rich in a sense of place -- visit Majorca for a romantic adventure, Italy for some new adult romance, or Edinburgh for dark deeds and romance in Scotland's capital. 

Her Dangerous Friends series focuses on the adventures of former political activist Bronte and her policeman boyfriend, their romance at odds with their very different outlooks on life.

You can follow Jennifer on Facebook  or Twitter, or via her website and blog

Blank SpaceAfter Eden and Storm Child are all available from Amazon and on Kindle Unlimited.


About the Reviewer:
Claire has run Mrs Average Evaluates for five years now, and still writes a regular book review in a local magazine. Her passion is to share great writing and encourage wide reading for learning, pleasure and escapism. She also runs her own business, has four young children and a dog to keep her busy. You are most welcome to join her friendly FB Group, and she’s always on the lookout for Guest Posts on the website.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Aunt Bea's Legacy by Jeanette Taylor Ford

Today Claire Lyons reviews Aunt Bea's Legacy by Jeanette Taylor Ford. The author has very kindly offered a paperback giveaway to a winner in the UK or an ebook to winner elsewhere in the world.  To be in with a chance of winning this wonderful prize, simply leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Good luck!


Lucy’s Aunt Bea leaves her lovely old house to her niece under the condition she lives in it for a year. A suggestion that her aunt died in suspicious circumstances leads Lucy to move in to try to find out what happened, despite her fiancĂ© Jim, who doesn’t want to live in the country. Lucy soon falls in love with the house and the village and enjoys taking over her aunt’s business, ‘Aunt Bea’s Pantry’. Into the mix comes Kenny Baxter, Lucy’s neighbour, who she is increasingly drawn to. But is the house haunted, or is someone trying to frighten her? Lucy becomes unsettled and unsure and begins to doubt even the man she is falling in love with – could Kenny be behind the mysterious happenings, and why?


So Aunt Bea has died unexpectedly and left her niece an old house and business, but they are not where Lucy currently lives – and there are some unusual terms to her Will… Set in modern day Britain, Aunt Bea’s Legacy is a wonderful, rich story about family, relationships and following your hunches.

I so enjoyed this book, it really has a bit of everything, there is more than one romance a lot of drama and it gets pretty spooky too. I enjoyed the slow and deliberate building of tension, as on the surface it feels like an ordinary romance… and then the spooky bits start and the characters develop and it becomes something much more unexpected. Did Aunt Bea die of natural causes? Or are Lucy and the local police right to be suspicious… It all seems so out of character, and then Lucy starts to read some disturbing notes left by Aunt Bea, was she being followed or spied on?

At the same time as grieving and reminiscing over a loved relative, Lucy has to manage a long distance relationship and the crystallising idea that he may not be the man for her, but who can she trust to talk to in this new village where someone may have hurt a lovely old lady?

There are quite a few characters in the book, and this is the first in a series (Jeanette is on Book 3 already!) so I’m hoping to meet some of those on the ‘edges’ as I suspect they all have stories to tell. The main characters are carefully created and more of their past and idiosyncrasies are revealed throughout the book. As each one is introduced they all bring something to the story, and are well described and believable, you could draw a map of the village from the clear imagery.  Of course the house is the central character of the book, and although I still don’t understand why they slept in separate bedrooms, it has a real presence and influence on Lucy and how she feels about her life and her future. As someone who has strong reactions to buildings, I could understand that feeling – that you’re where you should be.

There is a good mix of humour and a few more eccentric people that add colour, preventing the book becoming scary or too serious. Even the periphery characters are well described enough that you can easily imagine them, I particularly liked the policeman.  Throughout the whole book you are rooting for Lucy, she is easily likeable and empathetic. The story has many threads that are well woven together and it reaches a satisfying conclusion.

This book would suit people who like romance with a bit more going on and fans of a cosy mystery, and there is no gore or too much sex.  It’s also good if you like to get to know a fictional area and its people - I do now feel connected to the village, and there is something going on with that field I want to know more about…



About the Author: Jeanette Taylor Ford is a retired Teaching Assistant. She grew up in Cromer, Norfolk and moved to Hereford with her parents when she was seventeen. An undiagnosed Coeliac, Jeanette was a delicate child and missed a great deal of schooling, but she had a natural ability to write good stories, even at the tender age of nine or ten. When young her ambition was to be a journalist but life took her in another direction and her life’s work has been with children – firstly as a nursery assistant in a children’s home, and later in education. In between she raised her own six children and she now has seven grandchildren (soon to be eight!), a beautiful great-granddaughter and a mischievous great grandson.
Jeanette took up writing again in 2010; egged on by a Facebook friend. To date, she has published eight novels for adults, a fantasy for children and a little book of short stories and poems. Aunt Bea’s Legacy is the seventh book and the first of a series.
 Music has always played a big part in Jeanette’s life; she plays the piano and has conducted church choirs over many years and taught choir at her local school for a couple of years. Currently, she is a member of a local ladies’ choir. She also embroiders, teaches people how to do Family History and does card crafting.
She lives with her husband Tony, a retired headmaster, and two cats, in Derbyshire with a Nottinghamshire postcode, England. (I never know whether to tell folks I live in Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire!)
You can find Jeanette on Facebook, her books are available from Amazon in the UK and US.

About the Reviewer

Claire has run Mrs Average Evaluates for five years now, and still writes a regular book review in a local magazine. Her passion is to share great writing and encourage wide reading for learning, pleasure and escapism. She also runs her own business, has four young children and a dog to keep her busy. You are most welcome to join her friendly FB Group, and she’s always on the lookout for Guest Posts on the website.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

The Lady of the Tower by Elizabeth St John

Today Paul Bennett reviews The Lady of the Tower by Elizabeth St John. The author has very kindly offered a paperback copy of the book PLUS 2 e-book special novellas as a giveaway to one very lucky winner. To be in with a chance of winning this wonderful prize, simply leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Good luck!







Orphaned Lucy St.John, described as "the most beautiful of all," defies English society by carving her own path through the decadent Stuart court. In 1609, the early days of the rule of James I are a time of glittering pageantry and cutthroat ambition, when the most dangerous thing one can do is fall in love . . . or make an enemy of Frances Howard, the reigning court beauty.
Lucy catches the eye of the Earl of Suffolk, but her envious sister Barbara is determined to ruin her happiness. Exiling herself from the court, Lucy has to find her own path through life, becoming mistress of the Tower of London. Riding the coattails of the king’s favorite, the Duke of Buckingham, the fortunes of the St.Johns rise to dizzying heights. But with great wealth comes betrayal, leaving Lucy to fight for her survival—and her honor—in a world of deceit and debauchery.
Elizabeth St.John tells this dramatic story of love, betrayal, family bonds and loyalty through the eyes of her ancestor Lucy and her family’s surviving diaries, letters and court papers.


I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  A fascinating tale of the period when England said goodbye to the Tudors and hello to the Stuarts. The protagonist, Lucy, grows up in a household where she is treated with contempt by her guardian and by her scheming sister Barbara. In a time when women had very little say in their futures and where the intricate, backstabbing antics of the Royal Court, Lucy struggles to survive.  Married to an important member of the King's retinue of courtiers, she finds herself living in the infamous Tower of London, the wife of the Tower Gaoler.

The author paints a vivid picture of life in the early 17th century. I was drawn in by the descriptive, and indeed the educative nature that arises from the pages. Lucy, a woman, dares to formulate and even more daring, lets her opinions known. It was indeed a world dominated by men of noble birth, not very unlike the world we live in now (substitute rich for noble). In Lucy's words, "I so tire of these court behaviors, where the men who rule think only of their own affairs and not of those of the citizens of this land." Words that I utter every day. 

I chose to read this book not knowing much of the period, at least not from the perspective of the court of King James and his son Charles. I now know a lot more, and if there is one thing I love to do is to learn history. If I can do that and be entertained along the way, then so much the better. The author has done those things while at the same time preparing the way for a sequel. After all of the pain, anguish, fear, and even the joys of her life, Lucy emerges as one of the more interesting characters I have come across in my historical-fiction reading. 

5 stars



About the author:

Elizabeth St.John spends her time between California, England, and the past. A best-selling author, historican and genealogist, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Nottingham Castle, Lydiard Park, and Castle Fonmon to the Tower of London. Although the family sold a few fortresses and stately homes along the way (it's hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth's family still occupy them - in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their imprint. And the occasional ghost. But that's a different story...  

Follow her on Twitter @ElizStJohn

Facebook: Elizabeth J StJohn



About the reviewer: Paul Bennett


Let me begin this intro-bio by revealing that I love to be up in the wee hours of the morning.  Coffee is best at that time of day which also coincides nicely with the inspiring actions of my Muse.
My interest in things ancient had been kindled earlier by movies such as Ben Hur and Spartacus (flawed and incorrect as it is).  My buddy Harry and I would use rolled up newspapers as swords as we fought against the evil Roman legions.  A slightly more educated spark came from my reading of Heinrich Schliemann’s excavation of Troy.  This curiosity was ratcheted up a few notches when I started classes at Wayne State University.  Professor Milton Covensky was instrumental in making me a history nut with his teaching style and through his book Ancient Near East Traditions.  Of course being less than proficient in math and the sciences also helped me decide what to major in.  Thusly I became a Classical Civilization major and even learned (but long since forgot) ancient Greek.  My favorite assignment/memory was from a class on life in ancient Greece and Rome.  For the final exam I had to write an essay on the Watergate scandal from three perspectives and style; Herodotus, Thucydides and my own.  It was certainly the most fun I ever experienced in a final exam. J  However; I did not complete my degree as I was overtaken by the need to live a little. So, I quit school and my job and took a year and a half sabbatical from anything practical.  The next 18 months were spent in frivolous activities such as traveling to California a couple times and smoking a lot of weed.  Sometimes the two coincided, for example, when driving past Whittier, CA my buddies and I thought it would be cool to find Richard Nixon’s house and smoke a doobie in front of it and it would have been except for the fact that he lived practically next door to the Marine base at Camp Pendleton.  We were rather surprised to see a marine guard station on the road ahead of us; fortunately we had time to do a U-turn before meeting up with the Semper Fi guys with guns.

Once I re-entered the practical world I found that historical fiction filled the vacuum left after quitting school.  Authors like Mary Renault (The King Must Die; etc.) and Mary Stewart (her Merlin/Arthur trilogy) fanned the flames of curiosity but it wasn’t until after I married and raised a family that this love affair really took off.  Nowadays I am inundated with books and authors that feed my need for things ancient.  Colleen McCullough’s series on the fall of The Roman Republic for example sent me on a search for more works of this sort and boy have I ever found them.  So many authors, so many books, call to me these days that I have had to create a spreadsheet to keep track.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Triumph of a Tsar by Tamar Anolic



Today Renny de Groot reviews the alternative history novel, Triumph of a Tsar by Tamar Anolic.
We have a wonderful giveaway of paperback copy of the book as prize. 
To enter, simply leave a comment below or on our facebook page. Good luck!



Triumph of a Tsar is a work of alternate historical fiction in which the Russian Revolution of 1917 is averted, and the hemophiliac Alexei, son of Tsar Nicholas II, comes to the throne. In August, 1920, sixteen-year-old Alexei is enjoying his birthday celebrations when Nicholas dies suddenly. Overnight, Alexei becomes tsar of an empire that covers one-sixth of the world’s landmass.
Thank you to the author Tamar Anolic for a complimentary copy of this novel.
It’s been a while since I read a story of Russia, although those I have read stay with me in a way so many books don’t. The detailed psychological and philosophical explorations one can expect tend to set Russian novels in a category of their own.

With this novel, Triumph of a Tsar, the author takes us on a journey in the traditional style of the great Russian novelists. The sweeping portrayal of Russian aristocracy woven with true historic events evokes a strong sense of place and time to the point where we forget that this is alternative historical fiction. Anolic has created a world peopled by characters that are believable in their behaviours and actions. The protagonist, Alexei is thrust into a role before he is ready, and yet he steps up to assume the mantle of responsibility in a way that we can see and feel. Despite those who would see him fail, he learns and grows. We, the reader, find ourselves concerned about his concerns; his health, his enemies, his family and most of all the survival of his country.

As in any good book, we need to feel connected to the story and characters, and Tamar Anolic has successfully given us that connection as we consider Alexei taking great risks while he attempts to do what he feels is right amid contradictory priorities and advice. Who amongst us has not gone against the guidance of others to forge our own path?


The author uses dialogue to great effect in moving the story forward. We hear from the characters themselves how they are coping with the unfolding dramatic events. As WWII threatens Russia, Alexei calls his family together:
“During a pause in the food service, after the borscht and pickled fish had been cleared, Alexei called the table to order. “Thank you for coming,” he said. “I know you’re all busy with the war effort, and I want to thank you all for everything you’ve done. Having the imperial family visibly involved has made a large difference, both in morale, and in our fighting strength.”
He took a deep breath. “I’ve asked you all here on something of a more personal note. The Germans have already invaded Russia’s frontiers, and they’ve set their eyes upon both of our capitals- first Moscow, and now St. Petersburg. I fear that as members of the Imperial family, we will become the Germans’ targets- not only our persons but our palaces as well.”
 
“You think the Germans would bomb our palaces?” Ioann asked. “They’re our homes!”
 “That’s precisely the point,” Alexei said. “Besides, our palaces are huge buildings that make for easy targets for the Luftwaffe.”
This is a well researched piece of writing. The story flows and while it offers an alternative to what really happened, it still provides enough history to leave the reader satisfied.

Congratulations to Tamar Anolic on creating a fascinating book. I give it four stars and recommend it to anyone who is interested in something a little bit different.

Triumph of a Tsar by Tamar Anolic is available from Amazon in the UK

About the Author
“Triumph of a Tsar” is Tamar’s second novel. She has a history of writing about the Romanovs. Her first book, the nonfiction biography entitled “The Russian Riddle,” was the first biography of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. In addition, one of her short stories focuses on Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich and his sons: “Rumors of War,” published in The Copperfield Review in May, 2017. Tamar’s first novel, “The Last Battle,” was published in 2017.
Links: website; Amazon US

About the reviewer:
Renny deGroot is a first generation Canadian of Dutch parents. Her debut novel, Family Business, was shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize.  Her second novel, After Paris, has also been well received, with the current interest in all things WW1.  Renny has a BA in English Literature from Trent University.
Renny lives in rural Ontario with her elderly Chocolate lab, Great Pyrenees and young Golden Retriever.
You can find Renny's books on Amazon in Canada and the US.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

The Road to Newgate by Kate Braithwaite

Today Elizabeth St John  reviews  The Road to Newgate by Kate Braithwaite. And there's a giveaway! The author has kindly offered a paperback copy of this wonderful book as a prize. To be in with a chance of winning, simply leave a comment below or on our Facebook page. 
Good luck!





Titus Oates, an unknown preacher, creates panic with wild stories of a Catholic uprising against Charles II. The murder of a prominent Protestant magistrate appears to confirm that the Popish Plot is real.

Only Nathaniel Thompson, writer and Licenser of the Presses, instinctively doubts Oates’s revelations. Even his young wife, Anne, is not so sure. And neither know that their friend William Smith has personal history with Titus Oates.

When Nathaniel takes a public stand, questioning the plot and Oates’s integrity, the consequences threaten them all.

The Road to Newgate is overflowing with raucous Londoners and a cacophony of sounds, sights and smells that steals away our breath and drops us into the cesspool of 17th century city life. And in the extraordinarily talented hands of Kate Braithwaite, we travel eagerly along the road, joining the jostling crowd and immersing ourselves in the story unfolding before us.

Meticulously researched and beautifully written, the cadence and rhythm of The Road to Newgate introduces us to extracts from historical accounts woven with language and scenes from Ms. Braithwaite’s vivid imagination. And, when these mingle to form an unforgettable backdrop to the engaging plot, the effect is memorable. The shouts of the crowd in a bear-baiting pit (such detail—down to the gates for the dogs to enter) give way to the most sinister sound of all: that of chains on a stone floor in Newgate prison. In her end note, Ms. Braithwaite takes great care to explain which is fiction and which are true characters and accounts. Such is her skill, that as readers we put complete trust in her decisions as to which blend of each makes great historical fiction.

Told alternately by Nat and Anne, a young married couple and the protagonists of the novel, we see London through the eyes of a Licenser of printed materials and his independent-minded printer wife. Early in the story their own relationship is challenged, and when Titus Oates, the villain of the piece arrives on the scene, the tension is mirrored in encounters with him, and is ratcheted to almost unbearable levels. When the true extent of the Popish Plot is revealed, we stand hopeless to help Nat and Anne. And through triumph and tragedy, gain and loss, we walk side-by-side with them as if they were friends just a letter’s reach away.

With fascinating accounts of Westminster trials and Old Bailey hearings, Newgate visitations and Bartholomew Fair outings, The Road to Newgate is an unforgettable journey through late 17th Century London culture. The bitter lessons of crowd-thinking, charismatic perjurers and a climate of fear echo through the centuries, and make us realize that little has changed in human nature between them and us. And that’s the heart of Ms. Braithwaite’s beautifully crafted novel—a study in all the complexities of humanity, against a dazzling backdrop of a fearful age.

An excellent historical fiction novel that will stay with me for a long time. Five stars.

About the author:
Kate Braithwaite was born and grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her first novel, Charlatan, was longlisted for the Mslexia New Novel Award and the Historical Novel Society Award. The Road to Newgate was released by Crooked Cat in 2018. Kate lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and three children. 
To buy the book.
Social Media Links: Facebook; Twitter; Website.


About the reviewer: 
Elizabeth St.John was brought up in England and lives in California. To inform her writing, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Nottingham Castle, Lydiard Park, and Castle Fonmon to the Tower of London. Although the family sold a few castles and country homes along the way (it's hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth's family still occupy them - in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their imprint. And the occasional ghost. But that's a different story...



Elizabeth's Historical Fiction series "The Lydiard Chronicles" follows the fortunes of the 17th Century St.John family through royal favor and civil war. Her latest novel, By Love Divided, continues the story of Lucy St.John, The Lady of the Tower. This powerfully emotional novel tells of England's great divide, and the heart-wrenching choices one family faces.

Links: Amazon; Facebook; Twitter; Website.




Wednesday, 20 June 2018

The Lesson

Today Elizabeth St John reviews The Lesson, a book of poetry by Bobbie Coelho. And there's a giveaway! The author has kindly offered 2 copies as a prize. To be in with a chance of winning, simply leave a comment below or on our Facebook page. 


Good luck!



I have always been interested in poetry, so when I was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2002 I turned to poetry to make sense of what was happening.
Following on from Finding the Light and Reflecting the Light, I feel I still have something to say. In this collection I've touched on a mixture of themes, some shocking, others light-hearted, and all personal to me. For example, one poem is based on the tragic events of Aberfan in 1966, while another was inspired by my sister’s wedding anniversary.
I hope you find something within The Lesson that resonates with you too.



Bobby Coehlo’s Anthology, The Lesson, is an exquisite collection of prose and poetry that speaks of the passage of time and all the ways we measure and capture memories and moments. Within each beautifully wrought piece of writing runs a common theme; time is insubstantial, life is fleeting, and that to be conscious of the precious moments – a wedding day, a granddaughter’s daisy chain – is to capture the essence of life itself.
Although no one likes to be reminded of inevitability of death, Ms Coehlo does so in a simple, direct and sometimes funny way, and her captivating choice of subjects evokes memories of love and loss shared by all. At the same, she is not afraid to confront death full on, and some of her more wrenching poems – a tribute to the Aberfan disaster, a musing on the battlefields of Ypres, cut to the quick.
Poetry is an opportunity to share memories, feelings and philosophies across multiple points of view, and in my opinion, Ms Coehlo’s work is an important reminder that all of us are on the same road to a common ending. She just expresses it better than most. Aptly named “The Lesson”, this anthology is one to be kept close at hand to read over and over. A memorable collection.

About the author: Bobbie Coelho was born near Norwich and now lives in Hampshire with her husband   She has two stepsons and two granddaughters. She has always enjoyed poetry, but after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2002, she was particularly compelled to write as a way of putting things into perspective. Bobbie ahs written two other anthologies: Finding the Light and Reflecting the Light: she is a is a great fan of Forces Poetry (flowforall.org), and has had work published in two of their anthologies, Voices of the Poppies and Poems of the Poppies.

“My wish is that when people read this book, it will make them think a little more and reflect on their journey and realise how luck we are to have the sun on our backs.
Links: Website; Amazon.

About the reviewer: Elizabeth St.John was brought up in England and lives in California. To inform her writing, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Nottingham Castle, Lydiard Park, and Castle Fonmon to the Tower of London. Although the family sold a few castles and country homes along the way (it's hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth's family still occupy them - in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their imprint. And the occasional ghost. But that's a different story...


Elizabeth's Historical Fiction series "The Lydiard Chronicles" follows the fortunes of the 17th Century St.John family through royal favor and civil war. Her latest novel, By Love Divided, continues the story of Lucy St.John, The Lady of the Tower. This powerfully emotional novel tells of England's great divide, and the heart-wrenching choices one family faces.





www.ElizabethJStJohn.com


Wednesday, 13 June 2018

King Billy and the Royal Road

Today James Holdstock reviews the children's book King Billy and the Royal Road by RC Ajuonuma. And there's a giveaway! The author has kindly offered paperback copy as a prize. To be in with a chance of winning, simply leave a comment below or on our Facebook page. 
Good luck!


Billy lives like a prince with his mum, eating all the feasts and treats a boy could want. He doesn’t know much about people and places because she never lets him out. 
One day, he wakes up peckish and sneaks off for a snack. But what begins as a trip to town becomes a search for a new friend and the start of a magical journey…


King Billy and the Royal Road is a children's book written entirely in rhyme by RC Ajuonuma and illustrated by Beverley Young.

The whole book is one long poem and appeared to be a very dream like journey for Billy.

A Trumpet blew loud,
Like a call from a cloud,
And Billy awoke with a start.

The book describes everything in rhyme and starts with Billy waking up, although reading on, it is surreal and imaginative enough to be a dream.

The themes of the book seemed very deep. To me (an adult) it read as a moral tale that explored emotions such as fear, loss, and childhood.

There is a constant theme of Billy's hunger and his quest to satisfy it. Along the way he is encouraged but also tricked! I felt at first that Billy was a little arrogant but quickly that turned to naive and I almost then felt sorry for Billy as one does watching a child learn life lessons. They are hard but must be learnt. The book juxtaposes light frolicking language and playful characters with a deep sombre overtone.

I felt some of the book was about making choices and that they can be tough and also affect outcomes, for good and bad.

There were a couple of times I had to re-read some of the sections to keep up with the wonderful language. A child reader would possibly have to be relatively advanced but could really get a lot out of this book and it's approach. I thinks it's a great example of poetry with the subject matter appealing to adolescents.

You are guided through the whole book with lovely pictures by Beverley Young that almost act as way markers and do give some light relief from what might be a rewarding but intense reading experience for kids.

In a world where rhymes are often reserved for nursery, it's nice to see an older children's book that plays so much with expressive language. 

About the author: RC Ajuonuma enjoys dreaming up stories and writing them down. He also likes theatre and
football, but not necessarily in that order. He lives in London with his family.
Social Media: Website; Twitter; Facebook; Instagram - rcajuonuma; Good Reads.


About the reviewerJames Holdstock is a People Performance Analyst in London. However, he loves nothing more than pretending to be a medieval knight whether it be visiting castles, playing roleplay games or dressing up! He has always had a passion for history especially medieval England. His aim in writing 'To Murder a King', apart from being very enjoyable, was to inspire younger readers to learn about history and get them reading historical fiction since it's a great way to absorb facts and immerse yourself in our glorious past.
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