Category Archives: Book Reviews
England 1648. A dangerous time for a woman to be different . . .
Midsummer’s Eve, 1648, and England is in the grip of civil war between renegade King and rebellious Parliament. The struggle reaches every corner of the kingdom, even to the remote Tidelands – the marshy landscape of the south coast.
Alinor, a descendant of wise women, crushed by poverty and superstition, waits in the graveyard under the full moon for a ghost who will declare her free from her abusive husband. Instead she meets James, a young man on the run, and shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marsh, not knowing that she is leading disaster into the heart of her life.
Suspected of possessing dark secrets in superstitious times, Alinor’s ambition and determination mark her out from her neighbours. This is the time of witch-mania, and Alinor, a woman without a husband, skilled with herbs, suddenly enriched, arouses envy in her rivals and fear among the villagers, who are ready to take lethal action into their own hands.
Philippa Gregory is the author of many bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognised authority on women’s history.
Her Cousins’ War novels, reaching their dramatic conclusion with The King’s Curse, were the basis for the highly successful BBC series, The White Queen.
Philippa graduated from the University of Sussex and holds a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 at Edinburgh University. In 2016, she received the Harrogate Festival Award for Outstanding Contribution to Historical Fiction. Philippa lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire and welcomes visitors to her website, PhilippaGregory.com.
What I Thought
I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but even I am familiar with Philippa Gregory, despite never having read her work before. The Tidelands is a new series, set during a period where life could be dangerous for women who were walking a fine line between healing and what could be seen as witchcraft. Having recently read and enjoyed The Familiars by Stacey Halls I thought this would be a great introduction.
With echoes of Great Expectations the Tidelands of the title are very much a character in their own right. Foreboding and isolating, the arrival of a newcomer brings with it the intrusion of the outside world where King Charles is at war with Parliament.
A slow burning romance allows us time to get to know our main characters. Alinor, her daughter Alys and son Rob and James, the outsider, who rocks his world and theirs.
Phillippa is a master at the everyday, at representing what it might have been like to live during that time. My nearest comparison, not having read much of this genre is Catherine Cookson’s The Dwelling Place. Another book I enjoyed. Tidelands is a book with a character driven plot and historically accurate peril; the threat of being labelled a witch lingers throughout the book. I enjoyed the slower pace and the focus on women’s stories. I’ll definitely be continuing with the series and checking out some of her earlier work.
What’s your favourite Philippa Gregory novel?
Thanks to @darkroomtours and @simonschusteruk for the #gifted copy for the purposes of this honest review. #Tidelands #DarkroomTours #PhilippaGregory #historicalfiction #witchcraft #bookstagram
My review in the style of an Instagram post (like in the book)
Photo: A copy of the book on a black background with snow white sheets and silver snowflakes.
Option one: Beware the Snowflakes – they have power in numbers!
Option two: Two teen girls who have moved from the U.K. to Iceland find themselves digging for the truth behind life’s, and their own, filters.
Option three: Author Sif Sigmarsdóttir melts onto the Nordic crime scene with a standout YA thriller that says as much about modern day society as it does about murder.
Option four: I was lucky enough to meet Sif at #YALC this weekend. Her smiley and lovely persona clearly masks a twisted murder mystery writing heart.
Option five: Hoping for a sequel that explores Hannah’s “curse” more.
Option six: Love the use of #instagram within the story.
Actual caption: “you can’t judge a person by the width of their smile.” Social media, recent political sabotage, and nordic thriller combine in a murder mystery full of twists. Kept me reading, guessing and wanting more.
@darkroomtours @teambkmrk @sif.sigmarsdottir #SharpEdgeOfASnowflake #DarkroomTours #SifSigmarsdóttir #bookstagram #bookreview
The snow is falling thick and fast now. Snow in Iceland is dangerous.
Hannah Eiríksdóttir has been banished from her home in London to a place of eternal punishment for the wicked. No, not Hell, but close: Iceland. There, she faces a new life working as a journalist for her father’s newspaper – a man she barely knows.
Imogen Collins has the perfect life as a social media influencer, showing off her glamorous London existence to adoring fans. But behind the filters lies a dark secret. She thought she’d buried it: But the Beast is back – a ghost from her past who’s threatening to ruin her future.
When a man is found murdered at the edge of the road in snowy Iceland the girls’ lives collide. Imogen had the motive. Can Hannah find out the truth, and discover the reality of the girl beneath the filters?
Behind perfection often lies unbearable ugliness.
For fans of One of Us is Lying and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Sif Sigmarsdóttir is a writer and a journalist living in London. She’s a coffee drinking news addict who loves nothing more than books and chocolate.
She’s originally from Iceland. Her name comes from Norse mythology – Sif is the goddess wife of Thor, the strong and handsome thunder god. She tried to find a Thor for a husband but no one was available.
Sif lives in a flat with her two children, Inspiration-Drain-One and Inspiration-Drain-Two, and her non-Thor husband who goes by the name He-Who-Takes-Out-The-Trash. Their pet is a family of moths.
She’s been writing books for ten years. She’s also been pestering politicians for ten years. Her weekly column in Iceland’s biggest newspaper is the country’s most read. She was once blacklisted by a prime minister. She celebrated with some chocolate.
Her new book is called The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake and it’s a feminist Nordic noir YA thriller which can be described as “Nancy Drew meets The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. Eoin Colfer, author of Artemis Fowl, described it as “a breathtaking, thought provoking and wildly entertaining YA thriller”.
Thanks to teambkmk and darkroomtours for the copy of the book for the purposes of this honest review. Please note: Trigger Warning for Sexual Assault
Do check out the rest of the tour stops for guest posts, extracts and other reviews
You make me feel like there’s something good in the world I can hold on to,’ Aaron says. He kisses me again, draws me so close it’s almost hard to breathe. ‘I love you, Gem. And I promise I’ll hold your heart forever.’
When Gemma meets Aaron, she feels truly seen for the first time. Their love story is the intense kind. The written-in-the-stars, excluding-all-others kind. The kind you write songs about.
But little by little their relationship takes over Gemma’s life. What happens when being seen becomes being watched, and care becomes control?
Told in both Gemma’s and Aaron’s words, this is a raw, moving exploration of gaslighting in teenage relationships that skewers our ideas of what love looks like.
Karen Gregory has been a confirmed bookworm since early childhood. She wrote her first story about Bantra the mouse aged twelve, then put away the word processor until her first child was born, when she was overtaken by the urge to write. Her first novel, Countless, published in 2017, was shortlisted for the Leeds Book Award and longlisted for the Branford Boase. Her second novel, Skylarks, was published in 2018. Karen lives in Wiltshire with her family.
What I Thought
This starts out like a love at first sight teen romance, where main character Gemma gets swept away by the enigmatic Aaron. As do we to a certain extent, despite knowing that something is going to go wrong.
Gemma is overshadowed at home by her football playing younger brother Michael and Aaron sees this – and her.
With beach picnics and expensive gifts Gemma falls deeper and despite friends concerns she fails to see the warning signs. And that’s because they are so subtle at first. Things that are easily dismissed or put down to coincidence.
This is an interesting look at gaslighting in a relationship, made even more complex by the addition of Aaron’s point of view, one that doesn’t immediately portray neon flashing lights but indicates that something has gone wrong in a past relationship.
The author makes it clear in a postscript that having his point of view included doesn’t excuse any behaviour but it helps the reader explore the psychology of the phenomenon from both sides.
I loved the inclusion of Gemma’s family dynamic and it was intriguing how particularly her parents relationship set some foundations for certain behaviours to be seen as normal. That’s what is very tricky with emotional abuse in particular, in most relationships – even with friends – things are said that can be hurtful or occasionally manipulative, when does it become abuse?
Set in college we see how important friendships are to teenagers in navigating their transition between child and adulthood. Gemma’s great love is country music and songwriting and her changing relationships with her family, friends and activities are powerful indicators of what is happening. In isolation her relationship with Aaron can definitely be seen as romantic, but in the wider context the cracks show.
All in all this is a very powerful read that reminded me of You by Caroline Kepnes. Trigger warnings for emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
Do check out what the other reviewers on the tour thought.
Thank you to Faye Rogers and Bloomsbury for the gifted copy for the purposes of this honest review.