All About Books: Forrester, Humphreys, Rogan, Grimes, Allee, plus ROW80, Star Trek, and Whisky Trench Riders

I've got lots of book reviews!

First up are two new releases by James Forrester and C C Humphreys.

I was lucky enough to feature an interview with James Forrester last autumn, on the release of the first book in his Elizabethan conspiracy series, Sacred Treason.

The second installment in the trilogy, The Roots of Betrayal, is now published in North America!

"It's 1564, and Clarenceux has been entrusted to protect a dangerous document, containing a secret so powerful that it could challenge Queen Elizabeth's legitimacy on the throne.

When the document is goes missing, Clarenceux suspects an underground society known as the Knights of the Round Table. With England on the verge of a bloody conflict, Clarenceux's determination to protect the Queen (and his own life) takes him from the dungeons in the Tower of London to the high seas (with a roguish captain inspired by the real Elizabethan adventurer Peter Carew).

With Forrester's mix of vibrant history and edge-of-your seat plot twists, Clarenceux discovers a shocking conspiracy, and is forced to confront personal questions of loyalty and love, faith and fear."

"James Forrester captures the sights, smells and dangers of Tudor England and tells a gripping story." -- Philippa Gregory

"No one can create a sense of historical space as convincingly as [Forrester] does." -- The Daily Telegraph
I almost feel guilty reviewing this book because I enjoyed it so much both as a story and as research - if only all research could be as exciting as this! My historicals are set one hundred years before this time frame, but I don't think day-to-day life had changed all that much - yet. Forrester's detailed descriptions of London and seaside towns in England, down to the sights and smells on an ordinary village street, are so vivid that I felt I was walking directly beside Clarenceaux, or Carew.

For those who've read the first book, Raw Carew is an intriguing new character that appears in this second installment; a daredevil captain with his own system of honour, whom the reader can't help empathising with.

A sense of honour is woven throughout the story, in fact, as each character struggles to do what they think is best for their country, their family, and the friends they value. Clarenceaux's internal struggles give an added weight to the fast pace of events, as he attempts to reconcile his feelings for Rebecca and his desire to protect his marriage - put to the test when he finds out exactly what sort of secrets his wife has been keeping from him.

I won't give away what happens, but if you're looking to dive into a historical novel, no matter your favourite period, move this one to the top of your list.

One lucky commenter on this post will win a copy of The Roots of Betrayal!

Also, if you're in England at the end of the summer, here's your chance to meet James Forrester in person!

The Roots of Betrayal is available here.

Actor and author C C Humphreys also has a historical novel out this month in North America (yes some of these books are already available in England. Unfair, no?)!

"Meet the real Jack Absolute – not the comic captain from Sheridan's play The Rivals. Meet the Redcoat. The Mohawk. The Lover. The Spy."

Jack US Front Cover

"The year is 1777. As the war for American independence rages across the sea, London is swept off its feet by Jack Absolute, the dashing rogue in Richard Sheridan's comedy The Rivals. That is, until the real Jack Absolute, former captain of the 16th Light Dragoons, returns after years abroad to discover this slander of his reputation. Before he can even protest, he is embroiled in a duel over an alluring actress of questionable repute, and his only escape is the one he most dreads: to be pressed again into the King's service—this time, as a spy for the British in the Revolutionary War. From the streets of London to the bloody battlefields of Saratoga, from the forest fights to the Hudson to the seedy corners of wintry Philadelphia, Jack Absolute marks the exhilarating beginning of an epic historical series and a character you won't soon forget."
Don't you love it when a novel introduces you to characters that you can follow elsewhere? My favourite part of this novel was a plot twist I can't mention for fear it's a spoiler, but my other favourite is being able to discover Sheridan's play - I've only ever read Rochester when it comes to Restoration-era-and-after writing.

Jack Absolute is a grand introduction to a dashing character - but don't take my word for it:

"An absolute delight! Swashbuckling adventure, eighteenth century wit, hugely entertaining plots, and one of the most appealing military gentlemen ever to wear a sword.”" -- Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander and Lord John Grey series.

Jack Absolute is available here.

In jump-up-and-down news, I've just discovered that Humphreys has also written a book called A Place Called Armaggedon: Constantinople 1453. Looks like an Amazon order is in my near future!

I'm really excited to announce that Barbara Rogan's Café Nevo is being reissued as an ebook and in paperback!

"CAFÉ NEVO is a Tel Aviv gathering place for artists, politicians, lovers, and Bohemians—both Arabs and Jews, young and old, conservative and radical. Nevo is presided over by Emmanual Sternholz, the waiter whose unblinking gaze takes in the tangled web of destinies and desires spun out around him. In this comic, tragic, and compelling mosaic of intertwined lives, Barbara Rogan has created a dazzling work of fiction—and a marvelously illuminating mirror of Israel in its pioneering heyday."
I started the book on a Sunday and finished on Monday morning - I'd have finished Sunday night but I knew I was reading too quickly and wanted to savour it just a little longer!

I love books that you can't put down - I know we all say this, and some of my friends think I read everything just because I'm willing to devote time to fellow authors' books no matter what the genre - but it really only happens to me once or twice a year, if that (and usually with YA - the last two books I devoured in one sitting were John Green's The Fault In Our Stars and Amanda Howells' The Summer of Skinny Dipping).

If I could write a book about real people, Café Nevo is just the sort I'd love to write - vaguely omniscient, theatre-like in its being centred on one location (and where the location is as real as the characters), and with threads running through all the characters even when they don't realise it. Also love some of the similes and analogies, especially the 'natural pun' of how the main events in one character's life always seem to be reflected on in one location. Also this: "Too late he learned that couches were anathema in a married home, for, like new weapons systems, they demanded use." One other aspect I enjoyed - the unexplained mysteriousness of a certain character's ability to draw on the past, literally; I like it when otherwise everyday-world books have a hint of something other.

Plus Rogan got back cover blurbs from Madeleine l'Engle and Alan Sillitoe. Wow.

I was lucky enough to be part of one of Barbara's Revising Fiction Workshops, and I would recommend it!

One more book I have to mention - I got to read the sequel to Linda Grimes' In A Fix:

"The second installment of the original urban fantasy series starring human chameleon Ciel Halligan

Ciel Halligan, an aura adaptor with a chameleon-like ability to step into the lives of her clients and fix their problems for them — as them — is working a job at the National Zoo with her boyfriend, Billy, and his ten-year-old sister, Molly. It's supposed to be a quick fix, giving her time to decide if it's wise to pursue the romantic relationship her charming scoundrel of a best friend wants, or if she should give Mark, the CIA spook she's crushed on since hormones first rattled her pubescent brain, a chance to step up to the plate.

Molly has already begun to show signs of being an adaptor herself. She's young for it, but she's always been precocious, so it's not impossible. What is impossible is her taking on the form of the baby orangutan she touches — adaptors can only project human auras. Until now, apparently. Worse, Molly is stuck in ape form. She can't change herself back.

Escaping from the zoo with their new baby orang, Ciel and Billy head for NYC and the only person they know can help: Ciel's brother James, a non-adaptor scientist who's determined to crack the aura adaptor genetic code. But when Billy winds up in jail, accused of attempted murder, Ciel begins to suspect Molly's unusual adapting ability is more than just a fluke. Who's been experimenting on Molly, and what do they hope to gain? And will Ciel survive to find out?"
Quick Fix is just as exciting as the first book, and Ciel is as irrepressible as ever! And, of course, the two guys are... well, you'll have to discover them yourself.

Another new release this month: Tiffany Allee - who was one of my Revising Fiction Workshop colleagues! - has a new book coming out: Don't Bite the Bridesmaid!

"Alice Shepard needs one thing: a date for her sister’s wedding. And not just any date. A hunk who will make her fiancé rue the day he left her for her best friend. Her drop-dead gorgeous neighbor fits the bill—even if he is a bit quirky and never comes out during the day—and Alice has downed just enough appletinis to ask him. But she makes it quite clear that there will be no funny business.

Spending a week on a cruise ship full of humans while sleeping close to his sexy next-door neighbor sounds like a helluva bad idea to vampire Noah Thorpe. But his friends need time to get him out of a shotgun wedding—a vampire bonding that will tie his fate to a female vampire he’s never met. And Alice’s offer comes at just the right time.

What could possibly go wrong?"

Get a free review copy of Don't Bite the Bridesmaid here!

While I'm reviewing, I should mention that I finally finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo. If I'd read it in English, I'd have barrelled through it - reading in the original French, and reading only on the commute to and from work, forced me to read slowly, something I am not accustomed to. I ended up rereading bits here and there because I was forgetting - especially over a weekend - what exactly had happened.

Possibly because Dickens is in English, and I can read at my usual pace, I don't find some of the 19th Century storytelling conventions as jarring in his work as I did in The Count of Monte Cristo - speaking especially of the vagueness of some character interactions, and the fact that we're not even in the main character's point of view for many - many! - chapters at a time, even in scenes that focus on his choices.

On the other hand, I did love the story. I love the ending. And I think it's hilarious that so many tropes have been spawned by this one book.

Why is this post so long you ask, and where is my ROW80 check in? Well, you see, as part of my ROW80 prerogative to revamp my goals any time I see fit, I'm going to attempt to drop to one blog post per week.

Last year around this time I came up with a brand new schedule that worked wonders for my progress and motivation. It's been a year now, and I think the schedule, in all its variations, has run its course.

I need something new! I need something that will keep me motivated and on-task for editing. I feel like drafting a new story, but that's a cop out. I need to edit the ones I already have! Any motivational tips will be very much appreciated.

Speaking of ROW80, one of the long time members author Lauralynn Elliott needs our help.

Now a bit of levity. Someone gifted my nephew this book:

Star Trek Book of Opposites

Best example ever

As for new releases, the Whisky Trench Riders have a new album out! The Long Way Home is free on bandcamp! Here's a sample track:

Finally, a happy announcement: Matthew is the winner of Susan Kaye Quinn's giveaway on my blog as part of her blitz for the Debt Collector series!

How's everyone's writing/blogging life going?
What books have you been enjoying lately?

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