#AtoZChallenge 2019 #Audiobooks ‘K’ is for Lisa Kleypas @LisaKleypas ‘The Ravenels and The Wallflowers’ @Scribd #HistoricalRomance

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

I love novels set in Vicrorian England and I enjoy reading romance, in between psychological thrillers and literary fiction, and I’ve found the perfect combination in Lisa Kleypas. She has written various series of historical romance, set in 19th century England, such as The Ravenel Series of four novels and The Wallflowers of five novels. In her latest novel, The Devil’s Daughter, The Ravenels meet The Wallflowers!

Lisa is ranked #10 bestselling kindle (US) author of historical romance, and the reason is she writes engaging and entertaining, well-written historical romance. On this occasion, I’ve listened to her  novels on Scribd, but they’re also available on Audible.

Lisa Kleypas

All her novels are standalones, but if you read them in order, it leads to a better reading experience, because the characters are related, either by family or friendship, so characters in previous books will appear in later titles.

I’d recommend you start with the first Ravenel book, published in 2015, which is also one of my favourites. By the way, aren’t those covers beautiful?

Cold-Hearted Rake audiobook cover art

Hello Stranger, published in 2018 is my favourite, perhaps because it was the first one I read and then I made my way back to the first three books in the series!

The female lead in Hello Stranger, Dr. Garrett Gibson, is a woman ahead of her time. She’s the only female physician in England, and is making herself respected in a man’s world. She’s intelligent, strong-willed, daring and independent. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. They are both drawn into dangerous plot against the government.

Hello Stranger audiobook cover art

Her latest novel, Devil’s Daughter, is the delightful story of a widow with two young children and a reformed rake.

Devil's Daughter audiobook cover art

Lisa Kleypas’s historical novels have all the ingredients for an exciting and entertaining journey into Victorian England. The novels are well researched and plotted, with engaging heroes and heroines. Readers will visit Victorian London, from the dark alleyways and slums, gentlemen’s and gaming clubs, to stately town houses and horse rides in Regents Park, as well as travels to country estates. There are villains, rakes and other evil characters who battle against her main characters. You can also look forward to plenty of (unstressful) suspense, in spite of expecting a happy ending, because the journey towards the grand finale is so enjoyable.

Lisa Kleypas, like Jane Austen, is well aware that in 19th century England, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” And just like Jane Austen, that’s what she writes about, except in Kleypas’ case, the novels are more about assertive women fighting for love matches and independence in a world of marriages of convenience and gender inequality.

Most of her novels are read by Mary Jane Wells, who does all the accents and genders very nicely, although, as always, I would have prefered at least two narrators, for male and female voices, but I enjoyed listening to all of them as they are.

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Lisa Kleypas’ novels are especially for readers who want an escape from real 21st century life for a few hours, and enjoy historical romance set in Victorian England, with strong-willed female leads who overcome obstacles on their way to a happy marriage. A delightful indulgence!

Lasa Kleypas’s Audible Author Page

Lisa Kleypas’s Scribd author page

What? You’ve never read an Audiobook? Here are my 34 reasons why you should be reading audiobooks!

I’ll be reviewing an audiobook a day throughout April, so come back on Monday! There will be a round-up tomorrow!

Would you like to read about the other authors and audiobooks I’ve posted about during the challenge, which started on 1st April? Here they are!

Find out more about this blogging challenge here!

#AtoZChallenge 2019 #Audiobooks ‘F’ is for Ken Follett @KMFollett @Audible ‘The Century Trilogy’

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

I’m thrilled to continue my AtoZ Blogging challenge with one of my favourite authors, the masterful writer of thrillers and historical fiction, Ken Follett, who has been writing engaging, literary fiction for over forty years.   

Ken Follett

If I had to save a trilogy from the last library in the world which was on fire, I’d save The Century Trilogy, and if I had to save just one book, it would be The Winter of the World.

 

The Century Trilogy (3 Book Series) by  Ken Follett

Fall of Giants, Winter of the World and Edge of Eternity, make up the Century Trilogy. This Trilogy, is a tour de force, which narrates the main events of the 20th century, following the lives of five families in – America, Germany, Russia, England and Wales, who will gradually become interrelated, as the original characters and their descendents experience the First World War, the Russian Revolution, the struggle for Women’s Suffrage, the Second World War, The Cold War, The Civil Rights Movement, The Race to Space, and finally the reunification of Germany.

I loved every word of The Fall of Giants. Every single sentence, paragraph and page is engaging. The characterisation is extraordinary. Every character, and there are plenty of them, has a unique appearance and personality. The plot is thrilling with plenty of drama and historical detail that make it an unforgettable read.

Winter of the World, my favourite, is a brutal and honest fictional account of WWII. It should be compulsory reading at High Schools, because the historical events portrayed affect the reader, much more than a set of facts in a history book or lesson. Let’s not forget what happened in order to be alert and compassionate and never let it happen again. Ken Follett illustrates the horrors of war as well as the goodness and self-sacrifice that we are capable of.

Although the writing is brilliant, I’m really glad I listened to the trilogy as an audiobook, because John Lee is the best audiobook narrator I’ve heard.

Lee does all the voices so perfectly that you know at once who is speaking, and there are five nationalities, with their own accents and different social classes, as well as male, female and children’s voices. The novels are lively and authentic due to the great deal of dialogue included, yet it’s no easy feat for the narrator. Chapeau!

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The Century Trilogy, is especially for readers who enjoy historical novels and dramatic family sagas, which explore political, social and personal issues through various generations.

Ken Follett’s Audible Author Page 

By the way, Ken Follet has a fabulous Author Webpage, which has ‘Writing Advice’. I’ve found it very inspiring and thought-provoking.

What? You’ve never read an Audiobook? Here are my 34 reasons why you should be reading audiobooks! 

I’ll be reviewing an audiobook a day throughout April, so come back on Monday! There will be a round-up tomorrow!

Would you like to read about the other authors and audiobooks I’ve posted about during the challenge, which started on 1st April? Here they are!

Find out more about this blogging challenge here!

 

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Mogul’ and ‘Tycoon’ by @JoannaShupe #amreading #amreviewing

Thanks to a long weekend, an almost ten-hour car trip, and a few hours waiting in hospitals, visiting a relative, I’ve finished the Knickerbocker Series. I had already read books one and two, which I reviewed here last week.

Now I’ve completed book Three Mogul and Tycoon a novella.

I loved Mogul, and Tycoon was included too, as a bonus.

The novels are set mostly in New York at the end of the 19th century. The knickerbocker Club series includes strong-willed, independent women, and powerful men who pull the ropes in NY society of the time. Intriguing plots and plenty of twists and turns to keep readers turning pages.

Mogul is book three, but they can be read as standalones. A rich heiress, Lillian Davies, and a journalist who has worked his way up to become the owner of three major newspapers, Calvin Cabot, become involved in dangerous dealings with the Chinese Mafia, which leads to many exciting chapters.

It so happens that Lillian and Calvin had been married and later had their marriage annulled, sparks fly as they’re forced to work together leading and face their unsolved issues as they preserve their own integrity and that of the people they love.

It was wonderful to be immersed once again in 19th century New York and Joanna Shupe’s clever and enthralling story. 

Especially for lovers of historical romance, set in New York in the Gilded Age.

I also enjoyed Tycoon, my only objection being that it was too short! I would have loved to know more about the enchanting Clara Dobson, who grabs a stranger’s arm at Grand Central Station, in New York, pretending to be his wife, and asks him to help her. Fortunately for her, the man is Ted Harper, a gentleman, owner of one of the biggest banks in New York, and a member of the prestigious, albeit secret, Knickerbocker Club. On their two-day train journey to St. Louis, their mutual attraction will grow. Ted will gradually discover who she’s running away from and she’ll discover who Ted really is, too. 

A great short read for lovers of historical romance.

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Knickerbocker Club Series buy links US

Knickerbocker Club Series buy links UK

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Joanna Shupe has always loved history, ever since she saw her first Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. While in college, Joanna read every romance she could get her hands on and soon started crafting her own racy historical novels. In 2013, she won Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award for Best Historical. She now lives in New Jersey with her two spirited daughters and dashing husband.

Follow Joanne Shupe on Twitter 

Visit Joanna’s Web Page 

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#AuthorSpotlight: Frances Evesham, #Author of ‘Danger at Thatcham Hall’

Victorian Crime Mystery 

Frances Evesham writes Victorian crime mystery. Danger at Thatcham Hall is her second novel. It takes us back to Thatcham Hall, the location of her first novel, An Independent Woman. Thatcham Hall ia a large country estate in Victorian England, where the reader will encounter more mysteries and romance.

Danger at Thatcham Hall pic

My Review

Danger at Thatcham Hall is easy to love if you enjoy well-written, entertaining, moving, exciting, and romantic, crime novels, set in Victorian England. It was easy for me to love. Victorian England is my favourite place, so it was a joy to spend several hours wandering around the English countryside, solving crimes.

On this occasion, there are two guests at the Hall, and a murder mystery to be unraveled, which endangers the lives of the residents at the Hall. Nelson is Lord Thatcham’s ambitious lawyer, who is a physically and spiritually scarred man, having experienced trauma at war and the betrayal of his fiancée. He meets Olivia, a strong willed pianist, who fears she may have to become a governess due to the constraints women faced when pursuing musical careers.

They stumble across a dead body, and Lord Thatcham asks Nelson to investigate the accusations against one of his staff. Nelson accepts the job and with Olivia’s help finally disentangles the mystery.

There are plenty of richly drawn characters including a villain, a spoilt child, the imposing Dowager, the lovers, a mysterious healer, villagers, farmhands, and servants at the Hall. The reader is submerged with the characters into daily life in Victorian England, including a visit to London.

Once again, the author shows expert knowledge of Victorian England, which she transmits wrapped up in an enjoyable parcel of mystery, action, and romance.

Danger at Thatcham Hall can be read as a stand-alone. The action in the first book in the series, An Independent Woman, revolved around Lord Thatcham and how he met his wife-to-be, Philomena. My only complaint is that I would have liked to see more involvement of these two impressive characters in this second novel. Of course, it is no longer their story, but I came to like them enough to want to know more. If you have not read an Independent Woman yet, I also highly recommend it, too!

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Frances writes historical fiction, as I do. It’s great to be able to chat with another author with similar interests as a writer. This is part of our virtual conversation.

Frances cropped

 

  1. What would you say to a reader who doesn’t usually read historical fiction to give it a try?

Imagine living in a world where everything is different: clothes, culture, food, manners and customs, but where people’s deep feelings are the same as yours.

Picture yourself as a servant, up at dawn to clean fireplaces, or a labourer working every daylight hour on someone else’s farm, or toiling in a dirty, noisy factory. Perhaps you’d rather be a member of the aristocracy, rich and envied, moving in a small social circle, but closely watched, terrified your slightest mistake will see you ostracised forever from society. How would you feel if you had to marry for money, were forbidden to own property or travel alone?

Falling in love, longing for happiness, struggling against the difficulties and barriers of a past time stopping you reaching your goals: would you sink or swim?

When you buy historical fiction, you travel back in time to that different world, letting modern day stresses and strains fall away from your shoulders as, for a few, precious hours, you belong in another vivid time and place.

I think this is a wonderful answer, Frances! I absolutely agree. One of the most exciting things a reader can do is travel in time. It’s somewhere you’ll never be able to visit unless a writer takes you there!

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  1.    Where did the idea or inspiration for Danger at Thatcham Hall come from?

It’s such a delight to pick up a story and lose all track of time, reading murders, mystery, history and crime. I devour Philippa Gregory, Agatha Christie and Robert Galbraith as well as the 19th century novelists, Wilkie Collins, Mrs Gaskell and the Brontes, Charles Dickens, and my all-time writing hero, Jane Austen.

Danger at Thatcham Hall lets me introduce Olivia, a women with a talent repressed by the social order of the day, to Nelson, a wounded, bitter soldier searching for his own place in society. They spar together, trying to solve a series of thefts and murder, each wondering whether the other can be trusted.

It’s a joy to indulge a love of spooky old buildings, deep, dark woods and gothic crypts, and meet old friends from An Independent Woman; Philomena, Hugh and his irrepressible son John.

We share the same favourite writers, Frances. Jane Austen, The Bronte’s, Wilkie Collins, and Charles Dickens, are so much part of my literary mind, that I’m sure I’d be another person if I hadn’t read their novels! I certainly wouldn’t write what I write or the way I write. I feel so much respect for them that I constantly turn to them for inspiration.

 

3- Can you tell us something about your next project?
I have a third Thatcham Hall Mystery in progress, and I’ve also begun a new series of short, contemporary murder mysteries set at the seaside in Somerset, called Exham on Sea. I’m planning to bring out new Exham on Sea stories every 3 or 4 months, because they’re such fun.

Somerset makes a terrific setting, full of misty levels, miles of sandy beaches, and the ancient, atmospheric sites of Glastonbury Tor and Brent Knoll. My own town, Burnham on Sea, boasts the shortest pier in the UK and possibly the oddest lighthouse, with nine wooden legs rooting it in the sand.

That lighthouse features on the cover of the first story in the series, Murder at the Lighthouse. Libby Forest picks her way through the intricacies of small town relationships to uncover the killer of the town’s famous folk-rock star, Susie Bennett, helped by Bear, an enormous Carpathian Sheepdog, Fuzzy, the aloof marmalade cat and the unsettling, secretive Max.

Lighthouse.1

 

Somerset is a lovely part of England. I haven’t been there for a long time. I’m sure it’s inspirational. I’m looking forward to reading your short mystery, Murder at the Lighthouse, and your next instalment of the Thatchan Hall Mysteries.

The sea and coastal areas are no doubt an added stimulus for artists. The first two volumes of the Eyre Hall Trilogy are set almost entirely in Yorkshire and London, although the final chapter of Twelfth Night  at Eyre Hall, also includes a sea voyage to Jamaica and back. However, my third novel takes place in Yorkshire and Cornwall. I bet that surprised you! I can say no more…

 

  1. What’s your writing routine like?

I’ve just started writing in a standing position, with a raised desk, to counteract the effects of sitting in a chair all day. Of course, there’s new research out now, suggesting it does no good at all.

When I’m in the middle of a story, I hardly notice the time passing, because I’m lost in my fictional world. I’ve taken to setting alarms to remind me to get up and walk about from time to time. When I get to a knotty problem, or can’t see how my characters can possibly get themselves out of their latest mess, I go for a walk on the beach and eat ice cream. That usually does the trick.

I’ve never tried standing up while writing! I also forget to walk around while I’m writing, so my legs feel heavy and swollen sometimes. When that happens, I usually go for a walk, too, but I think I’ll take some ice cream next time. Sounds like a plan!

I’ve had a great time answering your questions, Luccia, thanks so much for inviting me.

Thank you so much for coming, Frances. It’s been great having you.

That was fun!

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Find out more about Frances:

Frances Evesham: Author of The Thatcham Hall and Exham on Sea Mysteries for readers who love Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Midsomer Murders and cosy crime

Her Website

Her Twitter 

Her Facebook

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I’ll be doing Author Spotlights every Friday. I have quite a few lined up for the following months, but if you are an author and you would like to be featured, please let me know. I’m especially keen on featuring debut and independent authors. I enjoy all sorts of novels with engaging characters and compelling plots, especially romance, historical, mystery and suspense.

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See you all next Friday for next weeks’ Author Spotlight.

Have a great weekend! Read a book!

 

 

‘Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall’ Available for Pre-order on Kindle

If you enjoy reading Victorian Gothic fiction, with plenty of romance, mystery, action, and suspense, you will love Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, the second volume of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, which chronicles the lives and vicissitudes of the residents of Eyre Hall from the beginning to the height of the Victorian era.

Twelfth Night 1

Following Edward Rochester’s death, Jane Eyre, who has been blackmailed into marrying a man she despises, will have to cope with the return of the man she loved and lost. The secrets she has tried so hard to conceal must be disclosed, giving rise to unexpected events and more shocking revelations.

Romance, mystery, and excitement will unfold exploring the evolution of the original characters, and bringing to life new and intriguing ones, spinning a unique and absorbing narrative, which will move the action from the Yorkshire countryside, to Victorian London, and across the Atlantic Ocean to Colonial Jamaica.

Excerpts from Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall

Romance:

I was convinced I would never see him again. I had tried unsuccessfully to expel him from my thoughts, but he was always there, haunting my dreams and slipping into my mind during the day.

Suspense:

The morning after Twelfth Night, I had planned to leave London and return to Eyre Hall. I was having breakfast by the hearth at the inn, when someone crept up behind me and sat down in the chair to my right. I looked down at his unsteady hands, fearing he wished me no good.
“Michael, I done it. I killed him.”

Gothic elements:

“Will you be responsible for Mr. Mason’s permanence in this house as one of the undead?” I roared impatiently.
“What is it you want?”
“To see the corpse and absorb his sins, of course.”

Mystery:

John stopped before a small casket which looked out of place inside a large niche positioned on the lower level, at the end wall of the vault, below Edward’s, and read, “Infant Eyre Rochester. May 1855.”
He smiled at me, “Do not faint now, mother. You are going to see your baby again, at last.”

Adventure:

Hours later, we were woken by a wild raging storm, which tossed our ship mercilessly like a seashell on the shore. My whole body was shaken and turned inside out. It seemed my entrails desired to escape the storm by tearing out of my body. I looked out of the tiny port hole and saw a huge mass of water and dark objects spinning like a whirlpool, and I was thrust back against my desk.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon International Link

Dressing Up for an Eventful Week

I don’t usually write diary-like entries to my blog, but today is going to be an exception, because I’ve had a strange and eventful week, which I’d like to share with all of you. A lot of work, fun, excitement, and dressing up has been going on…

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My daughter and granddaughter, getting ready for Halloween!

Sunday 26th was great! I spent the day with my daughter, her husband, and children at the beach, watching the new generation gradually take over. She used to be my little girl, but now she has two children of her own, a job, a car, a mortgage, just like most adults do…

In the evening, I wrote my blog post on The Truth about Halloween.

Monday was amazing. It was the official opening of the Academic Year at the University where I teach English Language part-time, so I dressed up with the Faculty of Arts (called Philology in Spain) Academic Dress, namely a black robe with a short light blue cape or hood, and tasselled cap (the cap is worn by those with a PhD). I had never worn this gown before, but I thought I’d do so at least once, so that I could show my grandchildren in the future… I did feel rather grand!

Waiting for the ceremony, tassled cap in hand!

Waiting for the ceremony, tasselled cap in hand!

UNED Opening Ceremony in Academic Dress

UNED Opening Ceremony in Academic Dress

On Tuesday, on my way to work, I literally waked through an exhibition, in the Orange Tree Patio in the Cathedral-Mosque in Cordoba, where I admired the sculptures, by a recently deceased, international, Cordoban artist, Aurelio Teno, He’s the one who designed and made the Don Quixote sculpture near the Kennedy Centre in Washington.

Quijote Teno

Don Quijote by Aurelio Teno. Kennedy Center, Washington.

Aurelio Teno Exhibition in Patio de los Naranjos, Cordoba.

Foto taken at Aurelio Teno Exhibition in Patio de los Naranjos, Cordoba, Spain.

I also wrote my blog post on Halloween Festivities in All Hallows at Eyre Hall.

On Wednesday I was busy working all morning and all afternoon, at school and college. We rehearsed Stop all the clocks by W. H. Auden, for a poetry recitation at the Halloween Festivities we’re organising at school.

In the evening, I went shopping for Halloween goodies such as hats, stickers, sweets, and ingredients for Halloween biscuits/cookies, with my grandson.

My grandson, the Wizard!

My grandson, the budding Wizard!

On Thursday morning, I made tons of cookies, for my grandson, my students, and colleagues, before going to work. I work afternoons-evenings evenings on Thursdays.

Scary Cookies made by me!

Scary Cookies made by me!

On Friday, we had our big event at school. I teach at an Adult Education Centre, although we have mostly young adults, under thirty. The three English teachers dressed up as witches, and performed the opening scene of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, in English and Spanish. The students also read poems in Spanish and English, and a beautiful short story by Jorge Bucay.

English Teachers with a cauldron, preparing for their act!

My colleagues and I preparing the cauldron for our act!

Performance of the opening cene of Macbeth with the three witches.

Performance of the opening scene of Macbeth.

Afterwards, we ate all the cakes and biscuits we (students and teachers) had made for the occasion.

Halloween biscuits/cookies and cakes!

Halloween biscuits/cookies and cakes!

In the evening, I wrote my Flash Fiction Story for Flash! Friday, as I do almost every Friday.

This morning, Saturday, 1st November, I woke up to a wonderful surprise. This week, I had scheduled a special reduced price book promotion for All Hallows at Eyre Hall, and as a result of my diverse efforts by using Twitter, Facebook, Blog, word of mouth, some paid promotion on Masquerade Crew, and Ereader news today, I discovered had sold 183 books! More than I’ve sold since my book was published in May. I’m overwhelmed, and very excited.

All Hallows at Eyre Hall: The Breathtaking Sequel to Jane Eyre, has also managed to get into the Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store ranking today in three categories!  Best Sellers Rank #26 on Sagas, #29 in Family Sagas, #41 in Historical Fiction. Overall ranking #727 out of over a million Ebooks! Not bad for a debut novel, which was self-published in May, 2014!

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I’m feeling really proud! Did someone cast a good spell last night? Am I dreaming?

Wow, what a week! Fortunately, they’re not all this exciting or busy, or are they?

My daughter and a friend.

My youngest daughter (at the back) and a friend celebrating Halloween in London, last night.

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What can I say? Dressing up runs in the family! We just love it!

 

By the way, All Hallows at Eyre Hall (international link) is on special offer all over the world for the next few days, £0.77 /$0.99 / €0.89. Please help spread the word. I still have a long way to go, but I couldn’t have got this far without your support. A big thank you!