Saturday, October 22, 2016

THE LIAR by Jennifer Wells

What would you do if you saw a girl in a crowd whose face had the same, identical birthmark as your only child?
A child who, nearly ten years ago, you were told died?

It's 1935 and housewife Emma glimpses a face in a crowd – a little girl with a very unique birthmark.

Transfixed by the sight of a stranger; Emma becomes convinced that the girl is her long-lost daughter taken from her at birth. There is only one problem: Emma’s daughter is dead. So who is the stranger?

THE LIAR follows Emma’s journey as she tries to find out what really happened to her daughter - a journey that unearths secrets from the past and ends in obsession...


Emma has never recovered from the death of her newborn daughter, Violet. Emma's husband George is a local doctor who doesn’t even try to understand his wife’s pain, or is that merely seeing things from Emma’s perspective?
My first clue was that Violet’s conception is shrouded in mystery, giving Emma a sense of not being deserving of a live child.

Emma, and Ruby, the child who becomes the focus of her obsession, narrate their own stories with their unique perspective on their lives which accentuate the vast differences between the lonely wife of an affluent doctor and the child who suffers a different kind of neglect in a home where the matriarch earns pennies from sewing aprons.

The writing is beautifully woven and evocative, in that things we all see, hear and smell but don’t necessarily register as we walk through life are brought to our attention. By doing so Ms Wells conjures a place which is familiar on many levels, and especially to those brought up in the suburbs of London pre-WWII.

Emma and Ruby have their own paths which the reader must tread to discover the truth of who in this story is the Liar. Emma, Ruby, George, Maud, or maybe life itself has skewed everyone's truth so it's no longer recognisable? An intriguingly enigmatic story and one not to be rushed.

I received a digital copy of this novel via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Anita Davison is author of The Flora Maguire Mysteries from Aria Fiction

TWITTER: @AnitaSDavison

Friday, October 21, 2016

THE TEA PLANTER'S WIFE by Dinah Jefferies

#1 International bestselling novel set in 1920s Ceylon, about a young Englishwoman who marries a charming tea plantation owner and widower, only to discover he's keeping terrible secrets about his past, including what happened to his first wife, that lead to devastating consequences.


Whenever I see the label "International Bestseller" on the cover of a book, I always know I can buy it and never have any regrests! This fact alone, along with the stunning cover of this novel, made it a must read for me. And I was not disappointed. 

I adore family dramas, and this is one that is set in Ceylon in the early 1900's. Beautiful descriptions of scenery, customs, and characters, made the story spring into authentic life. First there is Gwen who travels from England to Ceylon to join her new husband on his plantation. Secondly, there is Verity, her needy sister-in-law who causes problems for Gwen and comes between her and her husband. Thirdly, there is her husband Laurence, whose love for her slowly cools for no obvious reason. And lastly, there is the raw political climate of Ceylon with all its cultural expectations and problems. To say Gwen experiences culture shock, is a gross understatement.

With plenty of underlying conflicts, some blatant, some subversive, this book became a real page turner for me. There was always something going on, something that engaged me, and something that drew upon my emotions. And slowly secrets are revealed as people put their own machinations into play.

Yup, this was entertaining at all levels. Definitely a fun, engaging book. It's no wonder it is an International Best Seller. Well worth it for entertainment value!  


Katerina inherits a scented, wooden spice box after her grandmother Mariam dies. It contains letters and a diary, written in Armenian. As she pieces together her family story, Katerina learns that Mariam's childhood was shattered by the Armenian tragedy of 1915.
Mariam was exiled from her home in Turkey and separated from her beloved brother, Gabriel, her life marred by grief and the loss of her first love. Dissatisfied and restless, Katerina tries to find resolution in her own life as she completes Mariam's story – on a journey that takes her across Cyprus and then half a world away to New York.
Miracles, it seems, can happen―for those trapped by the past, and for Katerina herself.


Before reading this novel, I knew very little about the Armenian tragedy. This novel brings to life the heart-wrenching horrors and sufferings that took place in Turkey against the Armenian people. Despite all the horrors of war, a poignant story emerges of a young modern day woman who discovers her grandmother's wooden treasure box and the secrets that lie inside. 

How can I describe the emotions I felt while reading? Heartbroken, stunned, sad, and even angry at the injustices. And this is the sign of a great book. When the reader is able to pull out and twist the reader's emotions and make them think hard upon history, this is a book worth reading! The story is built from the points of views of family members, both past and present. Interesting, poignant, and joyous - that's what this book is!

FATES AND TRAITORS by Jennifer Chiaverini

The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker returns with a riveting work of historical fiction following the notorious John Wilkes Booth and the four women who kept his perilous confidence.

John Wilkes Booth, the mercurial son of an acclaimed British stage actor and a Covent Garden flower girl, committed one of the most notorious acts in American history—the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
The subject of more than a century of scholarship, speculation, and even obsession, Booth is often portrayed as a shadowy figure, a violent loner whose single murderous act made him the most hated man in America. Lost to history until now is the story of the four women whom he loved and who loved him in return: Mary Ann, the steadfast matriarch of the Booth family; Asia, his loyal sister and confidante; Lucy Lambert Hale, the senator’s daughter who adored Booth yet tragically misunderstood the intensity of his wrath; and Mary Surratt, the Confederate widow entrusted with the secrets of his vengeful plot. 
Fates and Traitors brings to life pivotal actors—some willing, others unwitting—who made an indelible mark on the history of our nation. Chiaverini portrays not just a soul in turmoil but a country at the precipice of immense change.


Author Jennifer Chiaverini takes us deep into the thoughts and motivations of one of America's most notorious murderers, John Wilkes Booth. Skillfully, she has recreated his world and the people closest to him to describe the events in his life that affected him that helps to explain why he did what he did. 

With a lovely narrative, I was given fascinating insight into this charismatic man gone wrong. To paint a compelling picture of this enigmatic man, she researched personal letters, articles, and memoirs of those who knew him. Through the eyes of the four women who touched his life, she has been able to recreate Booth's life and the events that led him to murder one of America's most respected presidents. And by bringing all these aspects together, the author has shown us the good side and the bad side of this murderer. 

Through Mary Surratt's voice, I came to see a different perspective of John Wilkes Booth. I longed to learn more about Mary, and why she helped Booth, a mistake that cost her her life. Perhaps the world will never know for sure. And that's one of the reasons why this portion of history continues to fascinate the world! A book worth reading! Beautifully rendered!

YELLOW HAIR by Andrew Joyce


YELLOW HAIR documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. 

Every death, murder, battle, and outrage written about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in this fact-based tale of fiction were real people and the author uses their real names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century. This is American history.

Hey Readers, remember the novel Molly Lee that I raved about? Well, Andrew Joyce is back to tell us about his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR, and has offered us a fascinating tidbit of a tale about the Sioux People. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did...

Andrew Joyce

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. I would like to thank Mirella for allowing me to be here today to promote my latest, Yellow Hair, which documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage I write about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in my fact-based tale of fiction were real people and I use their real names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century.

Now that the commercial is out of the way, we can get down to what I really came here to talk about: the Sioux people. The people we know as the Sioux were originally known as the Dakota, which means ally. The name Sioux came from the Chippewa and the French. The Chippewa called them Nadonessiou, which means adder, or enemy, and then the French shortened the name to Sioux.

Every culture has an origin myth. We in the West have Adam and Eve. The Ancient Greeks had Gaia. According to the Norse people, Odin and Ymir founded the earth. If you will allow me, I’d like to tell you the creation story of the Dakota.

In the beginning, before the creation of the earth, the gods resided in the sky and humans lived in darkness. Chief among the gods was Ta՜kuwakaŋ, the Sun, who was married to Haŋyetuwi, the Moon. He had one daughter, Wohpe. And there was Old Man and Old Woman, whose daughter, Ite, was wife to Wind, to whom she gave four sons, the Four Winds.

Of the other spirits, the most important was Iŋktomi, the devious trickster. Iŋktomi conspired with Old Man and Old Woman to increase their daughter's status by arranging an affair between the Sun and Ite. His wife’s discovery of the affair led Ta՜kuwakaŋ to give the Moon her own domain, and by separating her from himself, created time.

Old Man, Old Woman and Itewho was separated from Wind, her husband—were banished to Earth. Ite, along with her children, the Four Winds, and a fifth wind—the child of Ite but not of Wind—established space. The daughter of the Sun and the Moon, Wohpe, also fell to earth and later resided with the South Wind. The two adopted the fifth wind, who was called Wamŋiomŋi.

Alone on the newly formed Earth, some of the gods became bored. Ite prevailed upon Iŋktomi to find her people, the Buffalo Nation. In the form of a wolf, Iŋktomi went beneath the earth and discovered a village of humans. Iŋktomi told them about the wonders of the Earth and convinced one man, Tokahe, to accompany him through a cave to the surface. Tokahe did so and, upon reaching the surface, saw the green grass and blue sky for the first time. Iŋktomi and Ite introduced Tokahe to buffalo meat and showed him tipis, clothing, hunting clubs, and bows and arrows. Tokahe returned to the underworld village and appealed to six other men and their families to go with him to the Earth's surface.

When they arrived, they discovered that Iŋktomi had deceived Tokahe. The buffalo were scarce; the weather had turned bad, and they found themselves starving. Unable to return to their home, but armed with a new knowledge about the world, they survived to become the founders of the Seven Council Fires.

The Seven Council Fires . . . or Oćeti Šakowiŋ . . .  are the Mdewakanton, the Wahpeton, the Wahpekute, the Sisseton, the Yankton, the Yanktonai, and the Lakota.

After Tokahe led the six families to the surface of the earth, they wandered for many winters. Sons were born and sons died. Winters passed, more winters than could be counted. That was before Oćeti Šakowiŋ. But not until White Buffalo Calf Woman did the humans become Dakota.

Two scouts were hunting the buffalo when they came to the top of a small hill. A long way off, they observed the figure of a woman. As she approached, they saw that she was beautiful. She was young and carried a wakiŋ. One of the scouts had lustful thoughts and told the other. His friend told him that she was sacred and to banish such thoughts.

The woman came up to them and said to the one with the lustful thoughts, “If you would do what you are thinking, come forward.” The scout moved and stood before her and a white cloud covered them from sight.

When the woman stepped from the cloud, it blew away. There on the ground, at the beautiful woman’s feet, lay a pile of bones with worms crawling in and among them.

The woman told the other scout to go to his village and tell his people that she was coming, for them to build a medicine tipi large enough to hold all the chiefs of the nation. She said, “I bring a great gift to your people.”

When the people heard the scout’s story, they constructed the lodge, and put on their finest clothing, then stood about the lodge and waited.

As the woman entered the village, she sang:

‘With visible breath I am walking.
A voice I am sending as I walk.
In a sacred manner I am walking.
With visible tracks I am walking.
In a sacred manner I walk.’

She handed the wakiŋ to the head chief and he withdrew a pipe from the bundle. On one side of the pipe was carved a bison calf. “The bison represents the earth, which will house and feed you,” she said.

Thirteen eagle feathers hung from the wooden stem. White Buffalo Calf Woman told the chiefs, “The feathers represent the sky and the thirteen moons. With this pipe, you shall prosper. With this pipe, you shall speak with Wakaŋ Taŋ՜ka (God). With this pipe, you shall become The People. With this pipe, you shall be bound with the Earth for She is your mother. She is sacred. With this pipe, you shall be bound to your relatives.”

Having given the pipe to the People, and having said what she had to say, she turned and walked four paces from the lodge and sat down.

When she arose, she was a red-and-brown buffalo calf. She walked on, lay down and came up as a black buffalo calf. Walking still farther, she turned into a white buffalo and stood upon a hill. She turned to bow in the four directions of the four winds and then she vanished.

Because of White Buffalo Calf Woman, the Dakota honor our mother the Earth; they honor their parents and their grandparents. They honor the birds of the sky; they honor the beasts of the earth. They know that Wakaŋ Taŋ՜ka resides in all animals, in all trees and plants and rocks and stones. Wakaŋ Taŋ՜ka is in all. They know that Wakaŋ Taŋ՜ka lives in each of us.

Because of White Buffalo Calf Woman, they have become Dakota.

To learn more about Andrew Joyce and his books, visit:

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.