Sunday, 22 June 2014

Sunday Wrap Up: Week ending June 22, 2014

Sunday Wrap Up: Week ending June 22, 2014

Please be sure to see below for the giveaway!

Louise E. Rule interviews Bobbie Coelho for The Review's Author Interview

Bobbie Coelho has written a beautiful poetry book called Finding the Light. When you open the book the first thing that you read is her short biography:

Bobbie Coehlo
[B]obbie Coelho was  born near Norwich and now lives in Hampshire with her husband and two stepsons. 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 is a great fan of Forces Poetry (, and has had work published in two of their anthologies, Voices of the Poppies and Poems of the Poppie[s.]

"My wish is that when people read this book, it will make them think a little more and reflect on their journey."

Welcome to The Review's Author Interview Bobbie.

You say on your Amazon Author's Page that writing poetry has saved you from negative thoughts and that you feel that, in these difficult times it could be a route for others too. Would you like to tell the readers why writing poetry has saved you from negative thoughts?

I found that poetry helped me to put words to my feelings; not only that, but I could use the poems to hopefully give people a way of empathising with me. Parkinson's Disease is very misunderstood, poetry has also helped me explain what it is like.

On your Goodreads Page you say that your favourite poem from Finding the Light is The Essence of Me. It is an extremely profound poem Bobbie, If I may quote a small portion:

[M]y spirit could last evermore
But my body is not playing - you know the score
Many a person has written me off
But no one can make me sto[p]

All your poems seem to have a statement or message regarding determination of some kind. Would you agree with this?

I think a lot of them strike a chord with some people; it makes them think. Most of my poems have a story behind them, but the main message is; it is always later than you think. Don't put off doing things - do them now. Enjoy life, every day is a blessing.

Check out what else Bobbie has to say right here.


Please welcome Carol McGrath and Rebecca Hazell to the Review! Take it away ladies!

Today I am interviewing Rebecca Hazell, who lives and works in Canada, and who is the author of a superb trilogy set in the 13th century, a story of adventure and a superb heroine as Russia is invaded by the Mongol hoards. If you enjoy big novels such as The Game of Thrones you will love her books. They are my great discovery this year. We both read Russian literature and history at university, Rebecca in the US and myself at Queens University, Belfast, so it is no surprise that I love these novels. In fact, I enjoyed the first two so much I asked Rebecca for an interview, and here it is.

What inspired your trilogy The Tiger and the Dove?

I wasn't so much inspired as gripped by the scruff of the neck by its plot when I was about 20. That was 40 plus years ago, and I finally had to give in, do the extensive research, and then write the three novels. When I began, I thought only of one book, but it would have weighed more than A Suitable Boy.

Tell us a little about it.

The three novels are three sections of a memoir written by the heroine, Sofia, a former princess of Kyiv (Kiev) in 13th century Russia. They are more or less intended for her daughter, but they are also a form of catharsis for Sofia, who has led a most unusual life that mirrors the many significant events of her era. The first novel, The Grip of God, begins with her capture and enslavement during the Mongol invasions. The second novel, Solomon's Bride, covers both the final years of the so-called Assassins, who were devoted to overthrowing both the Mongols and the Sunni Islamic establishment, and King Louis IX's first disastrous crusade. And the final novel, Consolamentum, carries her from Antioch to a ruined Constantinople, and then west into France where the Inquisition is burning Cathar heretics at the stake. All this is merely the background for a dramatic plot with many fully fleshed characters; in fact, the plot is driven as much by character as by event. 

Can you give us a quick snapshot of your writing day?

My writing day has been a mix of researching in libraries, and online once the Internet became available, contemplating how to say things in a manner reflecting those times, and writing, setting said writing aside, revising, and then revising some more!

You know you want to read more about these fascinating books! Go for it!


Here's an excerpt from Carol's review of The Grip of God

Set in the 13th century as the Mongols sweep across the Russian steppe and beyond, The Grip of God, the first novel in a brilliant epic trilogy, is one of the most interesting historical novels I have read in 2014.

Princess Sophia is placed in danger when the invaders threaten Kiev, the greatest Rus stronghold and cultural Mecca as The Rus Golden Age fades. The reason for this is internal division amongst Rus princes and the Mongol threat as this very united disciplined warrior people sweep across Asia into 13th century Europe.

Once Kiev is threatened Sophia’s merchant prince father sends her to safety in Constantinople. When her party is attacked by Mongol raiders she is spared because of a strange prophecy. She becomes a slave and concubine to Argamon, the teenage warrior son of a great leader. She will bring good fortune according to legend. This is the fabled princess with golden red hair. But hers is no fairy tale. Only twelve years old, she is thrust into a violent world always on the move and as a consequence she and the reader are hurtled breathlessly through events and episodes of exceptional physical and emotional danger.

…and one from Solomon's Bride

The second novel in Rebecca Hazell's trilogy, The Tiger and the Dove, set in the thirteenth century, fulfils its promise of great characterisation and a wonderful historical adventure. Helped by Arab merchant trader, Selim, Sophia has escaped her Mongol captors along with her handmaiden Anna. This time there is a third important female character, Maryam, significant too symbolically since she is a Jewess living in a Muslim world. All three women are beautifully developed rounded characters with their own narratives.

The story opens evocatively with the words, 'One morning I woke to the muezzin's call and began to steel myself for another long day of questioning.' Instantly the reader is drawn to the excitement of a distant world and an exciting journey. 

To read the rest, and get your name in the hat for a free copy of The Grip of God, follow this link to comment.

Tales of Olde Somerset by Rob Bayliss

Think of Somerset and you probably think of Cheddar cheese, strong cider (scrumpy), straw munching yokels with broad unintelligible dialects, oh, and the Wurzels (for readers beyond these shores they can delightfully be described as a "scrumpy and western" band)… Now I’m not knocking any of these things; I love cheese (I  actually used to be a cheesemaker), I’m more than partial to a glass or three of cider, I even talk like a yokel if I’ve drunk enough of them and, if you ever happen to see them, you will have a good evening's entertainment watching the Wurzels. But there’s so much more to my home county….

Somerset is a rural county framed by rolling hills; the Brendons leading to the wilds of Exmoor to the West, the Blackdowns to the South, the Quantocks and Mendips to the North, while to the east, the land gradually climbs towards the high plateau of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. In between are the fertile  lowlands, known as the Levels, where a constant battle has been waged over the centuries to claim the land from its natural state of lazy waterways and swamp. In neolithic times lakeland villages were built on stilts to cope with the rising waters. The remains of  "roads" across the marshes have been found; one such example is called the Sweet Track. It is a 2km causeway made of planks of oak, ash and lime and is some 6,000 years old.

At the time of the Roman invasion of Britain in 43AD, Somerset was split between three Celtic tribes; the Domnonii, Duroriges and Dubunni. After pacifying the southeast corner of Britain, Vespasian and the 2nd Augusta invaded the future county from the south east in 47AD, taking the great hillforts of Ham Hill and Cadbury Castle. Mass graves at Cadbury show the tell-tale injuries caused by ballista bolts and pila.
The Romans moved north ensuring that the Mendips were secured, due to the lead and silver mines that
were already being worked there. Indeed the promise of Britannia's metal resources may have been one of the reasons for the invasion of Britain in the first place. Rome had an appetite for lead,  which it was used for aqueducts and plumbing. It wouldn't be until the 18th century that lead extraction matched the levels  of production achieved in the Roman Empire. By 70AD the new province of Britannia was the biggest producer of this metal in the Roman world. Production reached such a high level that the province of Hispania (also a lead supplier) appealed directly to the Emperor Claudius, complaining that they were losing business to the newly aquired province.

The mines at Charterhouse, on the Mendips, were kept under Roman military control in order to stave off corruption. During the Iceni revolt of 61AD, there is evidence that there may have been a slave rebellion at the mines, one of the many wild fires that broke out in the province as word of Boudicca's initial success spread. With Boudicca's eventual defeat rebellions such as those at Charterhouse were brutally crushed by the legions. Such events don't carry the fame and romance of Boudicca, yet they were equally desperate. Who were these slaves who dared to defy Rome? Unlike Boudicca their deeds and names are lost forever in the mists of time; perhaps on purpose, as Rome set about imposing its order on a rebellious province.

To read more of Rob's spectacular recounting of history in his homeland, click here.

Go here for last week's wrap up!

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