Last Reviews of 2018

Honest! I’m not doing anymore this year. I’ve been ill, there’s been a lot of reading time. I’ve been making progress through my Pen & Sword collection.

Pirates and Privateers in the 18th Century
Published By: Pen & Sword
Publication Date: 7th November 2018
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781526731654
Price: £15.99


Pirates and Privateers tells the fascinating story of the buccaneers who were the scourge of merchants in the 18th Century. It examines their lifestyle, looking at how the sinking of the Spanish treasure fleet in a storm off the coast of Florida led to a pirate’s gold rush; how the King’s Pardon was a desperate gamble – which paid off – and considers the role of individual island governors, such as Woodes Rogers in the Bahamas, in bringing piracy under control.

The book also looks at how piracy has been a popular topic in print, plays, songs and now films, making thieves and murderers into swash-buckling heroes. It also considers the whole question of buried treasure – and gives a lively account of many of the pirates who dominated the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of Piracy.

My Review

A very good introduction to the subject, concentrating on the era known as the ‘Golden Age’ of piracy, and while the author notes that piracy is still with us and is the result of systemic inequalities, he doesn’t discuss modern piracy – that is outside the scope of the book. The chapters cover the general history of piracy, biographies of various pirates and colonial officials who sought to deal with them, and the ‘pirate’ sub-genre of crime literature and it’s later developments in novels and other popular culture such as plays and films.

The book was very easy to read, the author writes sympathetically but is realistic about the nature of piracy – not heroes but thieves, rapists and murderers – and explores the myths surrounding pirates and their treasures with a keen eye for poppycock. The book explores only a tiny fragment of the subject, but it is a good starting place for further research.

The Scandal of George III's Court
BPublished By: Pen & Sword
Publication Date: 19th November 2018
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781473872516
Price: £15.99


From Windsor to Weymouth, the shadow of scandal was never too far from the walls of the House of Hanover. Did a fearsome duke really commit murder or a royal mistress sell commissions to the highest bidders, and what was the truth behind George III’s supposed secret marriage to a pretty Quaker?

With everything from illegitimate children to illegal marriages, dead valets and equerries sneaking about the palace by candlelight, these eyebrow-raising tales from the reign of George III prove that the highest of births is no guarantee of good behaviour. Prepare to meet some shocking ladies, some shameless gentlemen and some politicians who really should know better.

So tighten your stays, hoist up your breeches and prepare for a gallop through some of the most shocking royal scandals from the court of George III’s court. You’ll never look at a king in the same way again…

My Review

What a family! I’d be so embarrassed if I was directly related to them. An overbearing matriarch and patriarch, daughters confined to the palace, sons and brothers making ‘unsuitable’ marriages, girlfriends and illegitimate children here there and everywhere, the odd murder. Sounds like most families. Except this one had money and power to back up their behaviour and silence people. And they were the centre of press focus for decades. And what fun the press had with them…

I sat and read this book yesterday after I’d finished reading about pirates. Sometimes a bit of gossip is fun, especially when those concerned have been dead for two centuries. It was fun, amusing. Curzon’s jaunty writing style lends itself to the subject and it’s obvious that the eighteenth century is her passion. She writes sympathetically and makes evenhanded judgements on the truth or otherwise of the rumours and scandal. She uses contemporary sources, later literature and current scholarship to provide a rounded picture of events and the people involved.

This book is a an accessible, fun, introduction to the period and people of George III’s court.

Review: ‘Murder In The Caribbean’, by Robert Thorogood

Published By: HQ
Publication Date: 27th December 2018
I.S.B.N.: 9780008238193
Format: paperback
Price: £7.99
Continue reading “Review: ‘Murder In The Caribbean’, by Robert Thorogood”

Wearing a human suit

This comes from a text conversation I had with my sister on Friday. We were supposed to be going out.

H: I’m on my way

Me: Okay. I’m awake, just making myself human.

H: I thought you were a dragon. What are you making yourself human?

Me: People get scared if I turn up all dragon-y, so I’m putting a human suit on. It’s a bit of a tight fit, constraining even.

That’s what it feels like to mask, to be less than my authentic self, I’m wearing a tight, restrictive ‘human suit’, forcing me to act in limited ways that make me uncomfortable at least and hurt at worst. When I’m stressed or anxious and I’m forced to not pace or chatter by other people saying “Stop that.” etc. I’m hurting. I get that people are uncomfortable with me not acting like a ‘normal’ person, but they aren’t in pain because of it, I am.

Just another fun thing about being autistic in a majority non-autistic world.

Review: ‘A Christmas Railway Mystery’, by Edward Marston

Cover of A Christmas Railway Mystery

Published By: Allison & Busby
Publication Date: 18th October 2018
Format: Paperback
I.S.B.N.: 9780749021696
Price: £8.99


December 1860. The morning shift at Swindon Locomotive Works is about to begin and an army of men is pouring out of the nearby terraced houses built by the GWR. Frank Rodman should have been among them, but he is destined for the grave sooner than he might have expected, or he will be, once his missing head is found.

But Christmas is fast approaching, and the last thing Inspector Colbeck needs is a complex case, mired in contradictions. As he wrestles with one crime, he is alarmed to hear of another – the abduction of Superintendent Tallis. Colbeck and Leeming find themselves in a hectic race to solve a brutal murder before rushing off to Kent in a bid to save the superintendent’s life. 

Continue reading “Review: ‘A Christmas Railway Mystery’, by Edward Marston”

Blog Tour Calendar: ‘She was the quiet one’

Last blog tour of the year, or for me, first blog tour of the new year, goes to HQ’s She Was The Quiet One  by Michele Campbell.

The Enright twins are dropped into a world of New England privilege when their mother dies and their paternal grandmother comes back into their lives. Shipped off to the prestigious Odell Academy, where their father and grandfather had gone to school, the twins react very differently. A death occurs and investigation ensues.

This book is my current reading and I look forward to reviewing it for you all on New Year’s Day.

Edit: This is the updated calendar.

Review: ‘Lady of the House’, by Charlotte Furness

Lady of the House
Published by: Pen & Sword
Publication Date: 3rd July 2018
Format: Paperback
I.S.B.N.: 9781526702746
Price: £12.99


This book tells the true stories of three genteel women who were born, raised, lived and died within the world of England’s Country Houses. This is not the story of ‘seen and not heard’ women, these are incredible women who endured tremendous tragedy and worked alongside their husbands to create a legacy that we are still benefitting from today.

Harriet Leveson-Gower, Countess Granville was the second born child of the infamous Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire who married her aunt’s lover, raised his illegitimate children and reigned supreme as Ambassadress over the Parisian elite.

Lady Mary Isham lived at Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire with her family where, despite great tragedy, she was responsible for developing a house and estate whilst her husband remained ‘the silent Baronet’.

Elizabeth Manners, Duchess of Rutland hailed from Castle Howard and used her upbringing to design and build a Castle and gardens at Belvoir suitable for a Duke and Duchess that inspired a generation of country house interiors.

These women were expected simply to produce children, to be active members of society, to give handsomely to charity and to look the part. What these three remarkable women did instead is develop vast estates, oversee architectural changes, succeed in business, take a keen role in politics as well as successfully managing all the expectations of an aristocratic lady.

Continue reading “Review: ‘Lady of the House’, by Charlotte Furness”

Bonus Review #2: ‘Margaret Tudor: The Life of Henry VIII’s Sister’, by Melanie Clegg

Published by: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 9781473893153
Published: 19th November 2018

Price: £19.99

Format: Hardback


When the thirteen year old Margaret Tudor, eldest daughter of Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York, married King James IV of Scotland in a magnificent proxy ceremony held at Richmond Palace in January 1503, no one could have guessed that this pretty, redheaded princess would go on to have a marital career as dramatic and chequered as that of her younger brother Henry VIII.

Left widowed at the age of just twenty three after her husband was killed by her brother’s army at the battle of Flodden, Margaret was made Regent for her young son and was temporarily the most powerful woman in Scotland – until she fell in love with the wrong man, lost everything and was forced to flee the country. In a life that foreshadowed that of her tragic, fascinating granddaughter Mary Queen of Scots, Margaret hurtled from one disaster to the next and ended her life abandoned by virtually everyone: a victim both of her own poor life choices and of the simmering hostility between her son, James V and her brother, Henry VIII.

My Review

Margaret Tudor, the eldest daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Ever heard of her?

As a child she lived in luxury in the royal nursery with Prince Henry and Princess Mary. There were others but they died young, and Prince Arthur had his own household elsewhere. At the age of 13, after losing her brother Prince Arthur, her mother and then her grandmother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, Princess Margaret married King James IV of Scotland, who was 29.

That’s about the time her life got complicated. Poor lass, her first husband slept around on her, her second and third husbands were abusive theives, her brother was a dick to her, she was separated from her daughter, and people who were supposed to support her didn’t. She wasn’t the most intelligent or educated woman and didn’t really care for politics, but she did her best when she was dropped in the muck, to help her son on to the throne and keep him there. She tried to act as peace maker between her husband, and then her son, and her brother, however the distrust between monarchs put paid to all her efforts.

This is a sympathetic and easy to read biography of a rather unfairly obscure but important woman in a formative time in early modern Europe.

Review: ‘Start’, by #Graham Morgan,#FledglingPress, #LoveBooksGroupTours


Published By: Fledgling Press

Publication: 1 October 2018

I.S.B.N.: 9781912280070

Format: Paperback

Price: £11.99

ISBN 9781912280087

Format: Ebook

Price: £5.99


Graham Morgan has an MBE for services to mental health, and helped to write the Scottish Mental Health (2003) Care and Treatment Act. This is the Act under which he is now detained.

Graham’s story addresses key issues around mental illness, a topic which is very much in the public sphere at the moment. However, it addresses mental illness from a perspective that is not heard frequently: that of those whose illness is so severe that they are subject to the Mental Health Act.

Graham’s is a positive story rooted in the natural world that Graham values greatly, which shows that, even with considerable barriers, people can work and lead responsible and independent lives; albeit with support from friends and mental health professionals. Graham does not gloss over or glamorise mental illness, instead he tries to show, despite the devastating impact mental illness can have both on those with the illness and those that are close to them, that people can live full and positive lives. A final chapter, bringing the reader up to date some years after Graham has been detained again, shows him living a fulfilling and productive life with his new family, coping with the symptoms that he still struggles to accept are an illness, and preparing to address the United Nations later in the year in his new role working with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.

Continue reading “Review: ‘Start’, by #Graham Morgan,#FledglingPress, #LoveBooksGroupTours”

All done for the year

All my scheduled reviews are done for the year, books read and written up. There’s a couple of the scheduled reviews to post but that all set up so nothing to worry about there.

And I’ve started on next year already…

Well, scheduling tour calendar and review posts anyway. I’ve also started reading the first book of the year to get a review, on New Year’s Day. It’s a crime novel set in a posh US boarding school, that HQ sent me earlier in the month. I’m enjoying it so far. i’m going to get the usual monthly schedule of reviews written and posted so you can see what’s coming up next year. My calendar is full for January already. February is a bit sparse but I think March is also full. Lots of crime, as well as my unscheduled, bonus, history non-fiction reviews. 

There will be a couple of my Pen & Sword stash books reviewed between now and Xmas, too.

After all, I need to get them read before I hand them out as gifts…