The Revelations of Carey Ravine: A Shiny New Books review

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Issue 11 of Shiny New Books, the online magazine for book lovers, was published today. As usual, you can expect lots of tempting book reviews as well as some other fascinating features and discussions. I was happy to provide a review of The Revelations of Carey Ravine by Debra Daley for this edition.

Here are the first few paragraphs of my review:

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The Revelations of Carey Ravine There was always a good chance that I was going to love The Revelations of Carey Ravine. A book which has been compared with “Sarah Waters, Amitav Ghosh’s The Sea of Poppies, and Jamaica Inn” sounded perfect for me…and it was. Set in 1770s London, this is a dark tale of deception and betrayal in which nothing is as it seems. Our guide through all of this is Carey Ravine, an intelligent and spirited woman with an interesting past.

On the surface, Carey and her husband, Oliver Nash, appear to be the perfect couple: rich, good-looking, charming and leading a life of glamour and luxury. In reality, their lavish lifestyle is funded by Carey’s dwindling savings – and as their finances become stretched to the limits, cracks in their marriage begin to appear. When Carey finds a dossier in Nash’s desk describing the death by poisoning of a young man during a medical experiment in India, she confronts her husband and asks for an explanation. It’s obvious, though, that Nash doesn’t want to talk about it, so Carey is left to investigate on her own…

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You can read more of my thoughts on this wonderful book here – and don’t forget to explore the rest of the new issue!

A review for Shiny New Books: The Sun King Conspiracy

This is just a quick post to let you know that Issue 10 of Shiny New Books is out today!

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If you haven’t come across it yet, Shiny New Books is an online recommendations magazine for book lovers and is packed with reviews and other features. I was happy to provide a review of The Sun King Conspiracy by Yves Jégo and Denis Lépée for this edition.

This is what the book is about:

The Sun King Conspiracy “This fascinating and complex historical thriller is set in 1661 at the court of France’s Sun King, Louis XIV. As the novel opens, Cardinal Mazarin, Chief Minister to the young king, is dying. Having effectively ruled France alongside Anne of Austria throughout Louis’ early years, the balance of power is set to change with his death. When a fire breaks out in Mazarin’s palace, some incriminating coded documents are stolen from the dying Cardinal – documents which must be prevented from falling into the wrong hands. The theft sparks a power struggle among rival factions, with political figures as prominent as Nicolas Fouquet and Jean-Baptiste Colbert drawn into a race to find the mysterious papers.

Also drawn into this dangerous game – much against his will – is Gabriel de Pontbriand, an aspiring young actor who has come to Paris to pursue his dream of a career in the theatre. Mazarin’s stolen documents unexpectedly come into Gabriel’s possession and, to his horror, he recognises the signature at the bottom of one of the papers. Caught between the schemes of unscrupulous politicians on one side and a secretive religious brotherhood on the other, Gabriel finds himself at the heart of a conspiracy which has the potential to change the future of France and its monarchy forever…”

You can read the rest of my review here – and don’t forget to explore the rest of the new issue!

The Moor’s Account – a Shiny New Books review

Just a quick post to let you know that Issue 7 of Shiny New Books is out today!

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Shiny New Books is an online magazine for book lovers and is packed with book reviews, news and other features. In this issue, I have provided a Q & A with author Laila Lalami and a review of her Man Booker longlisted novel The Moor’s Account.

This is what the novel is about:

The Moors Account “In 1527, the Spanish conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez embarks on an expedition to the New World. With five ships and six hundred men, there’s every reason to hope that the voyage will be a success and will result in the area now known as the Gulf Coast of the United States being claimed for Spain. Within a year, however, most of the men have succumbed to disease, lack of food, extreme weather and encounters with Native American tribes. Eventually, only four of the original party remain: the treasurer of the expedition, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca; the nobleman Alonso del Castillo Maldonado; Andrés Dorantes de Carranza, an explorer; and finally, Estebanico, a Moroccan slave in the service of Dorantes.

The story of the disastrous Narváez expedition is told in a chronicle written by Cabeza de Vaca, known as La Relación, yet Estebanico – one of de Vaca’s three fellow survivors – is only very briefly mentioned. Laila Lalami’s The Moor’s Account gives Estebanico a voice of his own and an opportunity to tell his side of the story, including details which were omitted from the official records…”

You can read the rest of my review here – and don’t forget to explore the rest of the new issue!

Heir to a Prophecy – A Shiny New Books review

Just a quick post to let you know that Issue 4 of Shiny New Books is out today! If you haven’t come across it yet, Shiny New Books is an online magazine for book lovers and is packed with features and reviews.

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I was happy to provide a review of Mercedes Rochelle’s Macbeth-inspired historical fiction novel, Heir to a Prophecy. This is what the book is about:

Heir to a Prophecy “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.” In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, these are the words spoken by the three witches to Macbeth’s friend, Banquo. Soon after this, Banquo is murdered and his son, Fleance, flees Scotland and does not appear again in the play. In Heir to a Prophecy, we follow Fleance as he escapes to Wales and joins the court of the Welsh king, Gruffydd ap Llewelyn. Here he meets Gruffydd’s daughter, Nesta, and they have a child together. The name of this child is Walter and it is through him that the witches’ prophecy will eventually be fulfilled.

According to some legends, the Stewart monarchs of Scotland were descended from Fleance, although more recent research has shown that in reality Banquo and Fleance probably never even existed. However, this doesn’t make Heir to a Prophecy any less enjoyable to read. The witches’ prophecy is a starting point which the author uses to explore the history of the 11th century, mixing fact, fiction and fantasy together into one fascinating story…

You can read the rest of my review here – and don’t forget to explore the rest of the new issue!

Mr Mac and Me – a Shiny New Books review

Just a quick post today to point you in the direction of the new Christmas ‘Inbetweeny’ issue of Shiny New Books which is packed with reviews, features and a Christmas quiz.

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I was pleased to provide a review of Esther Freud’s latest novel, Mr Mac and Me. This is what the book is about:

Mr Mac and Me In Mr Mac and Me, Esther Freud paints a beautiful portrait of a small rural community and the ways in which it is affected by war. Our narrator is young Thomas Maggs, a quiet and observant thirteen-year-old boy who has grown up in the Blue Anchor Inn on the Suffolk coast. Life is difficult for Thomas and often very lonely; his father is an alcoholic, his mother is still grieving for the six babies she has lost, and his two sisters are growing up and have lives of their own now. Thomas wishes he could go to sea, but knows that his twisted foot will prevent him from pursuing that particular dream.

In 1914, two newcomers – a man and a woman – arrive in the village and begin to paint the flowers and the scenery. The man is the Scottish artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the woman is his artist wife, Margaret MacDonald. With Margaret frequently returning to Glasgow, Mackintosh spends his time walking in the countryside, sketching, taking notes and looking out to sea. Recognising another lonely soul, Thomas befriends ‘Mr Mac’, joining him on his walks and watching him as he paints.

With the outbreak of war, however, the villagers become suspicious of Mr Mac and soon even Thomas begins to wonder why his new friend is receiving letters from Germany addressed to Herr Mackintosh. Has Mac really come to Suffolk just to admire the scenery or is he up to something more sinister?

You can read the rest of my review here and don’t forget to explore the rest of the new issue!