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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog NO SECRET TOO SMALL. A Novel of Old New Mexico by Loretta Miles Tollefson. New Mexico historical fiction that confronts some painful truths #historicalfiction

Hi all:

I bring you a new book by an author I read last year for the first time. Recommended to readers of historical fiction.

No Secret too Small by Loretta Miles Tollefson

No Secret Too Small. A Novel of Old New Mexico by Loretta Miles Tollefson

A novel dedicated to all the world’s children caught in the cross fire of adult squabbles.

New Mexico, 1837. As New Mexico teeters on the verge of revolution, eight-year-old Alma’s family experiences an upheaval of its own. Ten years ago, her father, Gerald, chose not to tell her mother, Suzanna, that some of his ancestors were born in Africa. Now Alma’s mother has learned the truth.

Stunned and furious, Suzanna leaves the family’s mountain valley and takes Alma and her younger brother, Andrew, with her. Gerald allows the children to go because he believes they’ll be safer with their mother than with him in the mountains. However, as Suzanna, Alma, and Andrew reach Santa Fe, revolt breaks out and the children are exposed to sights no child should ever have to experience.

This trauma and the prejudice the children experience because of their heritage makes Alma long for home. But even if her mother can forgive past secrets, the way is now blocked by wintery weather and entrenched rebels. Will Alma’s family ever be reunited?

A heart-breaking yet ultimately triumphant story about secrets, prejudice, love, and the impact of adult conflict on our children.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08K9DBCNC

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08K9DBCNC

https://www.amazon.es/dp/B08K9DBCNC

Author Loretta Miles Tollefson
    Author Loretta Miles Tollefson

About the author:

Loretta Miles Tollefson has been publishing fiction and poetry since 1975. (She’s not old–she started young!) Growing up in foothills of the Olympic Mountains in the log cabin her grandfather built and her father was born in led naturally to an interest in history and historical fiction. When she retired to the mountains of northern New Mexico, writing historical fiction set there was a logical result. The Moreno Valley Sketches books are the first in many planned books set there.

Before turning to historical fiction full time, Loretta wrote Crown of Laurel, a novel set in Seattle in the recession of the early 1980’s. Loretta holds a B.S. in Bible Education from Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon. This background informs her poetry collections Mary at the Cross: Voices from the New Testament and And Then Moses Was There: Voices from the Old Testament.

In the mid-1980’s, Loretta and her husband suffered the loss of their first child in the fifth month of pregnancy. Her poetry collection But Still My Child came out of that period and is designed to help others deal with the pain of miscarriage.

Loretta holds M.A.’s in Communication and in English Literature from the University of New Mexico. Most days, you’ll find her researching New Mexico history in the 1800’s and writing furiously. She publishes short historical fiction every week at LorettaMilesTollefson.Wordpress.com

https://www.amazon.com/Loretta-Miles-Tollefson/e/B00I47VVZ4?

https://lorettamilestollefson.com/

My review:

I discovered Loretta MilesTollefson’s writing through Rosie’s Book Review Team when I first read and reviewed one of the novels in the Old New Mexico series, Not My Father’s House  (you can read my review here). That was the second book that tells the story of Gerald Locke and his family. The series also includes short stories and microfiction set in the same territory during the XIX century, and also a novel based on real events, The Pain and the Sorrow. I loved the setting of the previous novel and the characters and thank the author for offering me an early ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review and enjoyed.

While the previous novel was set in the Moreno Valley, and we lived the life of mountain settlers, with its harshness, its dangers, its challenges, and also its moments of wonder and joy; this novel sees Suzanna and her two children (Alma and Andrew) move from town to town (from the Valley to San Fernando de Taos, to Chimayó and then to Santa Fe.  In the process, they get involved, although marginally, in the political upheaval of the era, coming into contact with both, rebels and supporters of the Mexican government, and witnessing some tragic events. And although their lives in the Valley weren’t easy, they soon discover that sometimes, hard work and stubbornness are not enough to ensure a decent living.

At the heart of the novel is a secret, something Gerald kept from Suzanna, although, to be fair, she insisted she didn’t need to know. The situation reminded me of one of Antonio Machado’s poems: ‘Dijiste media verdad. Dirán que mientes dos veces si dices la otra mitad.’ ‘You told half a truth. They’ll say you lie twice if you tell the other half.’ The secret (if you read the description carefully, you’ll find out what it is) involves the assumption that we are not all the same, and some are better than others just based on our ancestors and their origins/skin colour. Such prejudice is more deeply rooted than Suzanna realised (or wanted to acknowledge), and it challenges her own opinion of herself and others. Her beliefs and her attitude are put to the test while she is away, and she learns truths about herself that she does not like but ultimately make her stronger.

As was the case in the previous novel, we can find a mix of fictional and true historical characters, and the author provides a summary of historical events at the end, which help provide a more detailed background to the story, a glossary of terms (both Spanish and also English of the period), and also brief biographical notes on the real historical figures that appear in the text. Some of my old favourites from the previous novel appear as well: Ramon, although he stays behind for much of the action, Old One-Eyed Pete, the trapper, Old Bill, Gregorio García, and some new ones that I love as well, especially señora Ortega (who can appear grumpy, harsh, and keen to tell unpalatable truths, but also a fair and honest woman happy to give other women a chance), and Antonia García, the mother of Gregorio, who grabs a second chance when it comes her way.

The story is told in the third person in present tense, not a common choice, but one that works particularly well as we see things form the point of view of Alma, an eight years old girl forced to grow up far too quickly for her age. She tries hard to be strong, to do her part, and to support her mother and brother, even if she doesn’t agree with what her mother has done. I love Alma and she is easier to empathise with than her mother, whose behaviour is sometimes petulant, unreasonable and selfish. She puts her children and herself in danger, and although her husband is in the wrong as well, her stubbornness drives her too far. Having read the previous novel, and knowing how hard Suzanna had to fight to survive in the valley, and the horrific experiences she went through, make her disappointment and her inflexible attitude easier to understand, although not so much some of the deep (and perhaps even not fully conscious) reasons behind it.  The fact that others in her life don’t dare oppose her or prefer to let her do and keep the peace could have had dire consequences, for her and the children, although, of course, nobody realised how quickly the political situation would deteriorate, or how hard making a living would be for a mother of two on her own. (Or they underestimated Suzanna’s stubbornness).

The author manages to provide a strong sense of the setting, the historical period, and the customs and traditions of the era without overdoing the descriptions or disrupting the action. The story flows and ebbs, as does life, and we have quiet moments, of routine, work, and everyday life, but the three main protagonists (Suzanna, Alma, and Andrew) also travel, are exposed to dangers, and are shocked and traumatised by the violence around them. We learn about weaving, about life in the New Mexico of the late 1830s, and about the prejudices of the period. Unfortunately, some things don’t change, but at least the main characters in the novel learn from their mistakes. One can but wish the same would happen in real life in the here and now.

The ending is satisfying, and I am sure all readers will enjoy it. I don’t know if we’ll hear more about the Locke family and their adventures, but, somehow, I know they’ll be all right.

I think readers who get to this story without having read the rest of the series will be able to connect with the characters and follow their adventures without too much difficulty, although it will be easier to understand the motivations and appreciate more fully the relationships and the background to the story for those who have read the other two novels related to the Lockes’ (and I hope to catch up on Not Just Any Man at some point in the future). Although we don’t witness any violent acts directly, there are scenes illustrating the consequences of the violence bound to be upsetting for some readers of the book, and prejudice and racism are an important theme, so prospective readers need to take that into consideration when deciding if this might be the book for them. As I usually say, it is worth checking a sample of the book to see if the voice and the narrative style is a good fit for those thinking about purchasing it.

I recommend this novel to fans of historical fiction keen to learn about a little-known period of the history of the United States, to those interested in the life of pioneer women, and also any readers looking for a story that is as relevant and inspiring. And the bonus is that there are other books in the series for those who enjoy this one.

Thanks to the author for the novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and keep safe (and smiling)!

 

 

Categories
Book launch book promo

#Bookrecommendation THE FALSE DA VINCI by Francisco Tessainer #Historicalfiction with a twist

Hi all:

As you know, I translate books by other independent authors every so often, and I share them with you once they have been published. A Spanish author (from Zaragoza), whom I had met, and we even worked together at a book fair, Francisco Tessainer, asked me to translate his book into English. I had been quite intrigued by the premise of his book (the subtitle of the book is: What if Leonardo’s life had been a fraud?) and was thrilled at the prospect. And I enjoyed every minute of it. This is not a regular review, but I thought I’d share it with you, and I recommend it to those of you who enjoy alternative historical fiction, although it is not exactly that, but an interesting “what if” that fits around the facts of Leonardo Da Vinci’s life, offering them an alternative interpretation. It has a wicked sense of humour, and I must confess I learned a fair bit about Da Vinci’s life, even if it was through the lens of this peculiar version of Da Vinci.

 

The False Da Vinci: What if Leonardo’s life had been a fraud by Francisco Tessainer

The false Da Vinci: What if Leonardo’s life had been a fraud by Francisco Tessainer

In the fifteenth century, when human life was worthless; and in a territory (current day Italy) then divided into powerful city-states; a man who looks extraordinarily similar to Leonardo Da Vinci takes advantage of an accident to impersonate the great master. But, as he does not possess Da Vinci’s talents, he soon realizes that if he wants to keep up the ruse he must appropriate the works of other artists. After savoring the advantages brought by his new name, the protagonist decides to employ the same methods used by the mighty of his time to preserve his newly acquired privileges.

The False Da Vinci is a suspenseful novel full of intrigues and crimes that plays with a possible/alternative past based on real events, and tries to get a closer look at the unresolved mysteries surrounding the figure of the great master: his private life, and the paradox that, in fact, he wasn’t just one man, but three, four, five, six…

Link:

http://leer.la/TheFalseDaVinci

Author Francisco Tessainer

About the author:

From a noble land (Zaragoza), whose people are often labelled “stubborn”, he camouflages that truth with the adjective “tenacious”. And it had to be so because, he was also born under the sign of Taurus and, to top it all, through his veins flows German blood (his grandfather was born in Augsburg). Therefore, with your permission, he’s, at the very least, “stubborn”. An economist by degree and working on the supply chain as a profession, he caught the bug of the written word after being bitten by a book at a very early age. The False da Vinci is his fourth novel, although in fact and by his own admission, the first one he dared to allow others to read. As the saying goes: “Nature never rushes, yet everything gets done.”

Later he also published on Amazon the novels (not yet translated into English) ¿Y después el bienestar? y Ruido de lluvia.

Web: franciscotessainer.com  twitter: @tessainescritor

mailto:frantessainer@gmail.com

So, if you enjoy historical fiction, especially alternative historical fiction, like the Italian Renaissance, and appreciate a somewhat twisted sense of humour, check a sample of the book and see how you feel.

Thanks for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and keep safe, smile, and keep reading! 

 

Categories
Learn Spanish with Olga

Learn Spanish with Olga. My new page. #Spanish #languages

Hi all:

Those of you who follow my blog know that I have recently completed a course to qualify as a language teacher. The director of the course suggested told me that they were always looking for Spanish teachers (I hope they might need people when language schools open again, fingers crossed!), and I’ve been trying to get organised since I completed the course.

Recently I shared the first video of a series I hope to create covering basic Spanish topics, and I have also added a page to my blog with a variety of resources for those interested in learning the language. I decided to share the page today here as a post (also because I’m reading a fairly long book, so I have no new review to share), with a link to the actual page, so you can check it regularly, as I intend to keep adding more videos and resources.

Here it is:

 

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Hello everyone!

In case you don’t know me, I’m Olga and although I’m originally from Barcelona (Spain), I moved to the UK for work reasons (I was a doctor and wanted to specialise in psychiatry) in 1992 and spent there over 25 years. During those years I did plenty of things: I worked as a psychiatrist (in a variety of specialities, mostly forensic psychiatry), I studied (a BA and a PhD in American Literature, an MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice), I wrote and published a number of books (in English and Spanish) and also translated the books of quite a few authors into Spanish and English.

A couple of years ago I returned to Barcelona to support my mother, started volunteering at a local radio station and for a couple of years taught English Composition online at the University of the People. That experience made me realise that I’d like to teach languages, and in March 2020 I completed a course and obtained the CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate. With the pedagogical insights gained from the course, and as a native speaker fluent in English, I thought I could help English speakers interested in improving their level of Spanish, especially those eager to become more fluent, to practise what they have learned and brush up on their studies, those working on presentations or specific projects they would like a hand with, and people who want to communicate with the locals in a variety of situations. If you think you might be interested in that, we can chat about it in more detail. Just get in touch with me.

My CV

I am preparing a series of short videos with some basic topics, and I’ll share the links here as they become available. You can also check the following resources if you are interested in learning Spanish.

Websites:

Instituto Cervantes (Plenty of materials, from courses to articles on all kinds of topics. A well-known institution with offices all over the world.

Instituto Cervantes

BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/spanish/

RTVE (Radio Televisión Española):

https://www.rtve.es/television/tve-internacional/programas-series/hola-que-tal/

Spanish Learning Lab:

https://www.spanishlearninglab.com/

Duolingo:

https://www.duolingo.com/

Blogs:

Practica español

https://www.practicaespanol.com/

Aprender español.org

https://aprenderespanol.org/

Todo-claro.com

https://www.todo-claro.com/c_index.php

El blog Para Aprender Español

http://blogdeespanol.com/

Español para Inmigrantes

https://espanolparainmigrantes.wordpress.com/

Podcasts:

Hoyhablamos

Spanishpodcast

Notes in Spanish

Español Automático

Radio Nacional de España (RNE)

Doc Molly’s (Medical Spanish)

Radio Ambulante

Practispanish

Videos:

Video ele (A whole course based around videos)

Tu escuela de español (Elena Prieto offers regular videos in her YouTube channel. There is also a Premium option)

Tio Spanish (You can also test your level and that allows you to choose level appropriate activities).

Dictionaries:

RAE (Diccionario panhispánico de dudas). The RAE (Real Academia de la Lengua Española) is the official institution tasked with creating the official dictionary and revising and updating the grammar. There are many other options, including other kinds of dictionaries, available on their website:

https://www.rae.es/dpd/

This is a bilingual dictionary and you can choose the languages. You can also select and see the definitions rather than a translation. It’s from Collins, and it has the advantage that it gives you several options, like showing you the word as it is used in expressions and collocations, and examples of the words suggested used in a variety of sentences, so you can choose the most appropriate.

https://diccionario.reverso.net/

Videos:

Many thanks, good luck, and keep learning!

And here is the link to the page, so you can bookmark it for future reference:

https://wp.me/P73X7h-3e8

Thanks so much for reading and watching, and if you’re interested, remember to like, share, comment, and leave me suggestions for future videos as well. Ah, if you check the video, you’ll find a link to the presentation as well. ♥

Categories
Blog Tour Book launch Book review Book reviews

Bloomin’ Book Launch – Party Bus & Atonement TN Book Fair!(@teagangeneviene) #TuesdayBookBlog #Bookreview

Hi all:

You know I’m a bit fan of Teagan Geneviene’s books and her blog, so, of course, I could not resist the invitation to take part in her Blog-Party Bus. But, me being me, I’ve included a review of Atonement in Bloom as well. Here comes the bus!!!

Atonement Blog Party Bus Loaded

All aboard! Beep-beep, yeah! The party bus is here. (Click here for theme music Magic Bus!) Our first stop is in Connecticut to pick up Dan Antion, who has a handy guided tour of Atonement, TN. Dan agreed to be a relief bus driver too, since bus-driver-Lilith the calico, sometimes has to take a break to give Deme or Honeybell a head bath.

Where “atonement” begins

It’s best if you read the first book first. So, for the launch of “Bloom,” Atonement, Tennessee is on sale for 99¢ (e-book). Click Atonement book covers for purchase links.

Residents of my fictional town might be of any race and from any ancestry. So author and translator Olga Núñez Miret translated the debut novel to Spanish! For that language I changed the title to Expiación y Magia!

Cover Expiación y Magia ― Una Fantasía Urbana
Atonement, Tennessee in Spanish

Speaking of the otherworldly pigs, I should mention the order of the Atonement stories. Your first visit to the town is Atonement, Tennessee. It’s an urban fantasy — set in our present-day, real world but with magical elements. Aside from the heroine and her neighbor-friends (or as Diana Peach likes to call them, the gall palls (Diana’s review here), you’ll meet the grumpy sheriff, Robin Warden.

Includes the prequel

The first “snort” in The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee is about a very young Deputy Robin. (Review by Dr. Phuong Callaway here.) That particular story is tied to the novel I’m launching today, Atonement in Bloom.

Long awaited sequel to Atonement, Tennessee

Here’s the blurb!

The quaint town was stranger than Ralda Lawton could have imagined. The local population included supernatural beings of the fae variety. Although only she and a few others knew about that.

In a past life, Ralda ― Esmeralda had been involved in something with those supernaturals and it had carried into her present life. In Atonement, Tennessee, that almost got her killed. Now she has new problems, and new supes to complicate matters.

Atonement in Bloom continues the misadventures of Ralda, her friends, and neighbors in the small (but far from peaceful) town of Atonement, Tennessee. Her old house and cemetery are still there, along with Lilith the cat, quirky townsfolk, and assorted supernaturals.

Now Lilith the calico sniffs out a strange beast.

Fae foolery backfires. A friend is abducted.

On a cold December day, Atonement, Tennessee comes into bloom.

The Unfolding Of An Orange Rose Bud

Here comes my review of Atonement in Bloom!

I was offered an ARC copy of this novel, that I had been after for some time, and I enthusiastically decided to review it as soon as I was able to.

I have followed Teagan Geneviene’s blog for a few years and have long been amazed by her creativity and her power to weave stories from the most unlikely jumble of elements, always rising to the challenges set by her readers, and writing by the seat of her pants. I am inclined to think there is some kind of magic at work, and I am not surprised by the genre she has chosen for her novels.

I have read and reviewed several of her books (you can check my most recent review of one of her serials here) and have long been a fan of her first-novel, Atonement, Tennessee (you can check my review, here). I had been waiting for the next instalment of the series for some time and had eagerly read any stories and snippets the author has shared in her blog about the Atonement universe. And I jumped at the opportunity to read an ARC copy of this novel, the second one in the series.

The author has tried to make this book stand alone, to ensure that anybody who started reading the series at this point would be given enough background to follow the events and enjoy the narrative, without slowing down those of us familiar with the story. Having read the first novel a while back and having reread it recently, I am probably not the best person to comment, but, in my opinion, she succeeds, although I would recommend anybody considering the purchase of this novel to go ahead and get the whole series, as they will be able to more fully appreciate the plot twists and the character development that take place in the series. And there are some companion stories available that you will enjoy as well.

The story is told from two different points of view, as was the case with the first novel. We have Lilith, Esmeralda’s (Ralda for short) calico cat, whose narrative is told in the third-person, and whose personality (her likes and dislikes, her strong opinions, and, indeed, her all-appropriate curiosity) shines through even more than in the first novel. She is witness to a number of events that allow the reader to be slightly ahead of Ralda at some points, but also increase the suspense and the expectations. She is not a human narrator and her understanding of events is often puzzling for us, so her clues are a bit like cryptic crossword prompts, familiar and alien at the same time. She gets involved in some hair-raising adventures of her own, and the end of the novel hints at many interesting things to come for our favourite feline narrator.

Ralda is the other narrator, and she tells the story in the first person. Those of us who have read the first novel know that she is a Southerner at heart, although she has spent many not-very-happy years in Washington DC. Atonement, Tennessee proves to be anything but the quiet and charming little town she imagines at first, secrets and supernatural events abound, and most of them centre on her house and her family line. She is a woman of strong intuition, but there is more to the events unfolding around her than a sixth sense. If the first novel saw her teetering between real-world difficulties (the move, the state of her house, the problems of her new-found friends), and some strange and decidedly supernatural events, in this second novel she at first suspects, and later comes to realise, that in Atonement, Tennessee, there is no clear separation between the “normal” and the “supernatural”. One of the things that make her a very compelling character, apart from her lack of ego and her self-deprecating sense of humour, is her open spirit and her ability to experience the wonder of the world around her. By her own confession, she has suffered the nasty side of things and people, and she at times appears overcautious and paranoid, but she is unable to say no to anybody needing help, and no matter how hard she resists, she finds it difficult to believe the worst of anybody. She might hesitate, but she will get in harm’s way if any of those close to her are in danger (and that includes Lilith, of course).

As for the plot… After taking stock of what happened in the first novel, things start getting interesting very soon. Some of the characters we thought we knew are revealed not to have been how they looked like at first (some for the better, some for the worse), and we have quite a few new characters turn up, some supernatural without a doubt (including my beloved glowing pigs), and others… well, I’ll leave you to see what you think. But there are unrequited loves, magical objects (one of my favourite things, both in fantasy and in the horror genre), some very Shakespearian turns of events, kidnappings, natural (or supernatural) wonders, and a fantastic battle scene (and I won’t reveal anything else).

Although the storyline is complete in itself and the events that unfold during the book get a resolution (and a more than satisfying one, I might add), there are mysteries still to be solved, some new ones hinted at, and I can’t wait to read the next book. If you love fantasy, supernatural events, folklore, myths and legends, Shakespeare, and appreciate a wild-tale full of imagination, you’ll be delighted by this book. I know I was.

And now, back to the party and to Teagan!

I don’t know why the party bus is stopping. Oh! It’s a delivery of flowers in honor of the book launch from Kirt Tisdale of The Wall Gallery! Wow… beautiful blue roses. Thank you, Kirt. The blue rose of the impossible is an important element of Atonement in Bloom.

We’re back on the road, and Dyanna at Ravenhawk’s Magazine has plenty of music for our road-trip. Lilith, slow down. I see Melissa from Today You Will Write at that bus stop up ahead.

Hang on to your seat-belt. Lilith just took a sharp curve and we are magically in Kentucky. Deme wanted to check out Teri Polen’s October horror and suspense book fest, Bad Moon Rising! You’ll find 31 authors and their books there!

Welcome to Atonement, TN! Everybody in town is taking part in the fun. Annie’s Antiques is hosting an exhibit of Art by Rob Goldstein.

My Blue Heaven

What’s that on the next table? It looks like an Aladin’s lamp. And a puff of colorful smoke! Oh, it’s the Lamp Magician. Welcome, Magician. I’m glad you could join the party bus!

My stomach is growling. Thank goodness Carol Taylor and Gerlinde de Broekert have catered the book fair. There are delicious foods at every booth! However, Deme and Honeybell love to read, so they ran straight to the Atonement, TN Book Fair. They’re in hog heaven with so many great books!

Heartfelt thanks to everyone for supporting this Bloomin’ Party Bus. Click the author names for more info.

(If anyone wants to share a link to a review of your book, or anything about yourself, please leave a comment with the link.)

D. Wallace Peach

Image result for legacy of souls d wallace peach

Chris Graham (for Agnes Mae Graham)

My Vibrating Vertabrae cover

Olga Núñez Miret For this book see here.

Angelic Business 1. Pink Matters Now available as an audio book too

D.L. Finn

Image result for dl finn the button

Jan Sikes

Image result for jan sikes flowers in stone

Mary J McCoy-Dressel

Mary J McCoy-Dressel, western romance author, Book Three Canyon Junction: Hearts in Love Series, Blog Post Cover Reveal

Sally Cronin

Jacquie Biggar has a sheriff too…

jacquiebiggar_thesheriffmeetshismatch_800px

Valentina Cirasola will help you tour Atonement, TN in style.

The Road To Top Of The World: Short Stories In The Land Of Puglia

Barb Taub will keep you laughing the entire way.

Resa will help you find the right thing to wear. She’s a costume designer. She would have enjoyed helping Ralda, Bethany, and Lacey search through the antique clothes in Sunhold’s closets (scene in “Bloom”).

Staci Troilo

Tortured Soul

Mae Clair

Book cover for End of Day, mystery/suspense novel by Mae Clair shows old dilapidated church with bell tower and a cemetery in the background overgrown with weeds

John W. Howell

Annette Rochelle Aben

Image result for booku Annette Rochelle Aben

Robbie Cheadle

Image result for robbie cheadle while the bombs fell

Chuck Jackson

Image result for chuck jackson what did i do

Vashti Quiroz-Vega

Teri Polen

Image result for teri polen sarah

Categories
Book review Book reviews

The Sans Pareil Mystery (The Detective Lavender Mysteries Book 2) by Karen Charlton Great female historical figures and an enjoyable regency mystery

Hi all:

Seriously, I haven’t that many reviews left to share now before I get up-to-date… This week we have an interesting lot, so, don’t miss them!

The Sans Pareil Mystery by Karen Charlton
The Sans Pareil Mystery by Karen Charlton

The Sans Pareil Mystery (The Detective Lavender Mysteries Book 2) by Karen Charlton

On a cold February night in Regency London, a dark curtain falls on the Sans Pareil Theatre following the death of April Clare, a promising young actress, whose body is found in mysterious circumstances.

Detective Stephen Lavender and his dependable deputy, Constable Woods, quickly discover that nothing is quite as it seems. As successive mysteries unfold, they soon realise that it is not only the actors from the Sans Pareil who are playing a part.

With the Napoleonic War looming dangerously across the Channel, this is a time of suspicion and treachery. Following the clues from the seedy back streets of Covent Garden up through the echelons of society, Lavender and Woods begin to fear that the case is much bigger than they’d dared imagine—and worse, that they are at risk of becoming mere players in a master criminal’s shadowy drama.

It will take all of Lavender’s skill and wit, and help from the beautiful Magdalena, to bring the mystery of the Sans Pareil Theatre to a dramatic conclusion in the final act.

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Pareil-Mystery-Detective-Lavender-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00WFIM490/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pareil-Mystery-Detective-Lavender-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00WFIM490/

Author Karen Charlton
Author Karen Charlton

About the author:

Hello, and thank you for visiting my Amazon Page. I’m Karen Charlton, a writer of mysteries. I write historical crime fiction, set in Regency England.

My Detective Lavender Mysteries, published by Thomas & Mercer, are the fictional adventures of Stephen Lavender, who was a real-life Principal Officer with the Bow Street Police Office in London.

By the early 19th century, Principal officers had a variety of different and important roles although they were still nicknamed ‘Bow Street Runners’ as if they were messenger boys. Apart from supporting their colleagues solve crime in the capital, they were often sent out to help magistrates in the provinces with difficult cases. They also took part in undercover work in periods of insurrection, for example, during the Luddite riots in the Midlands and were available to hire by wealthy landowners.

They were Britain’s earliest private detectives and were famous throughout London. They were the only policemen allowed into Buckingham House (the forerunner of the palace) and did security work for the Bank of England. On some occasions, they were even sent abroad to help with crimes and criminals who had spilled out over our borders onto the continent.

Through my research, I have come across dozens of their cases reported in the newspapers of the time. I frequently use them as the basis for the plots of my novels. I am currently writing the fourth book in the series: ‘Plague Pits & River Bones.’ There are also two Detective Lavender Short Stories to compliment the series: ‘The Mystery of the Skelton Diamonds’ and ‘The Piccadilly Pickpocket.’

‘Catching the Eagle’, my first novel, is the true story of our notorious ancestor, Jamie Charlton, who was convicted back in 1810 of Northumberland’s biggest robbery. To explain how my late husband and I discovered this gaol-bird in our family tree, I wrote my nonfiction genealogy book, ‘Seeking Our Eagle.’ It’s a ‘How -we-did-it’ rather than a ‘whodunit?’ and is probably the closest I’ll ever come to an autobiography.

An English graduate and a former teacher, I now write full-time and live in a remote fishing village on the North East coast of England. I am a stalwart of the village pub quiz and my team once won the BBC quiz show ‘Eggheads.’ My other claim to fame is that I won a Yorkshire Tourist Board award for writing Murder Mystery Weekends.

Apart from that, I’m pretty normal really.

I hope you enjoy my stories and, if you do, please remember to leave me a review.

You can find out more about me and my work at http://www.karencharlton.com

Please remember to sign up for my Occasional Newsletter on the landing page if you would like regular updates about my literary exploits and adventures.

 

My review:

I was provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review.

This is the first novel in the series of the Detective Lavender Mysteries I’ve read and the first regency detective novel too, and I thought it was an enjoyable ride.

I liked the characters (although perhaps a bit more the sidekicks). Like in a musical or an operetta, we have the serious and higher class protagonists (although Lavender isn’t a nobleman, he’s well-educated) and then we have Constable Woods, and the servants. There are also the seedy characters around Bow Street, which together with the well-researched architectonic details and the language of the period create a credible atmosphere and bring to life the London of the era.

The characters created by the author mix with real historical figures, and I was in particular fascinated by the extraordinary women she chooses to portray, like Jane Scott and Dorothea Jordan (thanks, Sarah!), one the owner of a theatre, a writer and actress (the Sans-Pareil of the title) and the other the mistress of the Prince of Wales, and a comedy actress who kept the prince and ten children with her own work.

There are intrigues, murders, kidnappings, spies, romance… The book is a page-turner, and I enjoyed the setting, the descriptions of London, the intrigues and the mystery, the fast pace, the theatrical setting, and the humour. Lavender gets a lot of help from other characters and sometimes pure luck, but he manages to get the case to a satisfying conclusion (and there’s romance too!).

An easy and light read, with interesting and not heavily laid historical background, and good pace and sense of humour. Very enjoyable.

Thanks to the author, thanks to all of you for writing, and remember to like, share, comment, CLICK, and of course, remember to leave a review when you read a book. 

Oh, Sarah Vernon, who unfortunately couldn’t leave a comment (WordPress wasn’t cooperating) recommends a book that sounds fabulous about the real Dorothea Jordan by Claire Tomalin, Mrs Jordan’s Profession: The Story of a Great Actress and a Future King. It looks fabulous. Thanks, Sarah!

Categories
New books Reviews

#NewBook LETTER TO CHARO by Estrella Cardona Gamio (@ccgediciones) Small is beautiful

Hi all:

Today I bring you a new book that’s very special to me. I read it and reviewed it in Spanish a while back and have known the author, Estrella Cardona Gamio, who has been writing for many years, and her sister Concha, who looks after the promotional and technical side of their small and independent publishing company, from early on in my publishing journey. After chatting about it, they decided to ask me to translate it, and now, it’s available in English. I share the translated version of my review too, so you can get some idea of why I liked it so much. And if you want to read more about the author and her views on her novel, you can check this interview in Lit World Interviews.

Letter to Charo by Estrella Cardona Gamio. Translation by Olga Núñez Miret
Letter to Charo by Estrella Cardona Gamio. Translation by Olga Núñez Miret

Letter to Charo de Estrella Cardona Gamio (Autor), Olga Núñez Miret (Traductor)

AUTHOR’S NOTE

LETTER TO CHARO is not a novel like all the rest in its presentation. For starters, it is an epistolary novel, a genre that was fashionable in other eras and that has left us works like DANGEROUS LIAISONS to mention a particularly fine example. It’s a very interesting genre because through its structure, and in the first-person, intimate stories are narrated that slowly reveal the most closely guarded secrets of its characters.
In LETTER TO CHARO, the reader will find the story of two friends who’ve known each other from childhood and carried on being friends through the years and the distance when the husband of one of them, for work reasons, has to move to London with his family. Throughout the years they exchange letters, until a certain day when an event that has nothing to do with either of them, the death of a famous Italian cinema actor, Marcello Mastroianni, sends them on a trip down memory lane unearthing confidences that had been hiding for decades and discovering two people who are complete strangers to each other.
Another peculiar characteristic of this novel is that the letters that are exchanged between the protagonists open with one dated the same day when I first started writing LETTER TO CHARO, and, the intervals between the letters are authentic. The truth is that I wrote the novel as if its protagonists were dictating it to me.
In this work, romantic and sentimental, you’ll find various degrees of love revealed in detail: tenderness, nostalgia, rivalry, egotism, envy, jealousy and uncontrollable and wild passion. You should not miss it, follow my advice.

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE

I have tried to respect the style of the author and the sense of urgency and closeness of the correspondence written to (mostly) those close to us, which follows the style of our speech and the wanders of our mind, rather than grammar rules or best-practice when writing formal texts. I have adapted casual expressions but have always tried to maintain the meaning and the spirit of the original.
With regards to titles of books and/or movies mentioned in the book, I’ve adopted the ones more commonly used, although sometimes different editions or movies in different countries might be known by different titles. I have added only a few parenthetical notes where I felt that the general reading public might not be familiar with the term and it is fundamental to follow the gist of the story.
I am very grateful to the author and to her sister for giving me the opportunity to translate this short novel that I fell in love with as a reader.

 

Here my own review translated:

This is an epistolary novel collecting the letters exchanged between two friends that know each other from youth but have been living in two different countries for years (one in Barcelona, Spain, and the other one in London, UK), and other letters of those close to them (sometimes characters that are important to the story, like Charo’s husband, Antonio, others that are minor characters, like Francis, her friend’s son), and even from characters whose relationship with the two friends is tangential at best (like the last letter, that adds a totally external perspective to the situation). Nowadays, when real letters are falling from grace, it’s wonderful to bring them back and realise how many things can be said (and left unsaid) using that form of social interaction.

In the novel’s description, the author reveals to us her creation process. The date of the first letter is the actual date when she began to write the story and perhaps that explains partly why these letters feel so vivid and authentic. Although the novel is short, we get to know the characters (even though sometimes our impressions might be wrong), through their exchanges with others, through what they tell us, and what they don’t. Love stories, stories of lost loves, dreams, mistakes, misunderstandings, and the day to day of living together that each person experiences differently. Friendships that aren’t so and routines that we don’t quite know why we keep going.

I loved the characters that feel familiar and recognisable but not because of their conventionality. The letters and the style of each one reflect perfectly the personalities of the characters and the differences between them. And the references to other eras and situations make us share in the atmosphere and the experiences of the protagonists. The author proves that long expositions and pages and pages of descriptions are not necessary to develop not only a story but even two lives.

I read a comment where the reader said the novel had reminded him of ‘Cinco horas con Mario’ (Five Hours with Mario by Miguel Delibes) and it’s true that some of the letters felt like confessions, be it because they aren’t sent to the addressee (and therefore become letters to oneself) or because the author of the letters explains things to a reader that perhaps exists only in his or her imagination (because the real recipient is not the person they have created in their minds).

I recommend it to all those who enjoy a fresh read, brief and of great quality, with characters that will make you think. I am sure that from now on I’ll always remember this novel every time I watch one of Marcello Mastroianni’s movies.

Links:

http://relinks.me/B01LY90NED

Thanks to Estrella Cardona Gamio and her sister for giving me this chance, thanks to all of you for reading, and please, like, share, comment and CLICK!

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