Welcome to the Christmas Book Fair where I will be featuring all the authors currently on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.
The first author today is Mike Biles who has written a succinct and entertaining history of Britain that I can highly recommend. He has a new release just in time for Christmas. A Bit About Britain’s High Days and Holidays.
About the book
High Days and Holidays are special occasions, celebrations, or commemorations. They occur throughout the year, some wanted, some not, some remembered more than others. In days gone by, the passing year was marked by seasonal or religious feast days of one sort or another; in some respects, they still help define our calendar.
A Bit About Britain’s High Days and Holidays explores a baker’s dozen of Britain’s notable occasions and traditions, from New Year onward, the things we associate with them and the stories behind each one. If you’ve ever wondered who Valentine was, where Christmas crackers come from, or thought about the Easter bunny (and who hasn’t?), A Bit About Britain’s High Days and Holidays is for you. And, whilst this book is not just for Christmas, it does include an A-Z of the festive season. A couple of recipes have been thrown in for good measure too, as well as an agenda for your hosting your very own Burns’ Supper. Oh – and at the end is an extensive list of Britain’s Big Days and events that normally form part of Britain’s Year – through Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
So, if you’ve ever been baffled as to why some Brits do some of the things they do, or have even questioned why you do them yourself, this little book might help. Occasionally lighthearted, fascinating and useful, once you’ve read it, keep it handy to refer to when needed.
Also by Mike Biles
A recent recent review for A Bit About Britain
Refreshingly concise, it breaks Britain’s complex and often dramatic history into fascinating chunks, without the unnecessary and let’s face it – often relatively dull detail that so many history books give us. A Bit About Britain’s History gives the reader the opportunity to decide for themselves which periods interest them most (it’s the War of the Roses for me!) and has the power to convert anyone into a history lover.
Hugely engaging and often witty, it’s definitely the sort of book that knowledgeable historians and complete novices can enjoy alike.
I have already given four copies to my English- speaking family members in Brazil, and the others all keep asking me when the Portuguese version will be available!
Now for some recent reviews.
The next author is Lisette Brodey who is a recent addition to the Cafe and Bookstore, with a review for the coming of age novel, The Sum of our Sorrows
About the book
In an idyllic suburb in Northern California, tragedy strikes the Sheppard family when Abby, the mother of three daughters and wife to Dalton, is killed in a car accident. Charlotte, the middle daughter, is in the car with her mother and survives without physical injury but remains deeply scarred on the inside.
Dalton tells Lily, his eldest daughter, that she must sacrifice long-awaited college plans and put her life on hold to take care of her sisters. Lily is torn between her devotion to family and an increasing need to find her place in the world — but how can she leave, knowing her family may crumble? Will her presence eventually cause more problems than it resolves?
The Sum of our Sorrows reveals how the aftermath of a family tragedy can precipitate sorrows never imagined. It is a tale of grief, hope, healing, coming-of-age, friendship, and survival. It is also a love story of two broken souls living through pain in search of better days and the renewal of one’s spirit.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I write characters as I hear them speak to me. Some of these stories contain non-gratuitous expletives and sexual references. This book also contains some situations that may be triggering to some readers. If this is not to your liking, please don’t read this book. Thank you.
One of the recent reviews for the book
Journey Another 5 Star Story Reviewed in the United States on November 20, 2020
Another five-star tale from Lisette Brodey. I have to admit, I was pretty certain I would like this one when I first read the title. THE SUM OF OUR SORROWS describes the premise of the book perfectly. When the mom of the family is killed in an accident, grief gets hold of the family and seems it will never let go. Adding to that huge sorrow is the dad’s insistence that Lily, the eldest daughter, must take over the household while putting her own dreams on hold indefinitely. I turned the pages wildly, hoping to discover that Lily would find a way to escape this travesty of injustice, hoping—at the very least—that her father would come to his senses. But of course, life isn’t that easy, and therein lies the story. Be prepared for an emotional roller-coaster of a read, but rest assured, happiness and romance are out there, all is not lost. The ending satisfies. Kudos, Ms. Brodey. Kudos! ;
A selection of books by Lisette Brodey
The next author today with a recent review for her paranormal novel is Roberta Eaton Cheadle and Through the Nethergate. You will also find books for children by Robbie and her son Michael in the Children’s Cafe.
About the book
Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own. In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise. With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.
One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads
When I started ‘Through the Nethergate’ I thought to myself, “Ooo, a good old fashioned ghost story!” Then suddenly, author Roberta Eaton Cheadle went and changed the rules. Ghosts became semi solid, famous (and infamous) figures from history were involved in socio-political intrigue, and the Big Bad was nothing short of Lucifer himself! I’ve rarely come across a book with such left of centre twists and turns, where the stakes rise and rise until it literally turns into an epic battle between good and evil.
Amidst all that, Cheadle weaves in historical nuggets about characters, places, and events spanning from Roman times right up to the late 1900s. Her history accounts are very well researched, and I found myself learning a lot about historical characters and events that I only had a passing knowledge of.
Somewhat reminding me of Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’, ‘Through the Nethergate’ pits the forces of good against the literal forces of evil. There’s a strong message (or two or three) about the state of humanity and its dwindling morals and ethics, but the message doesn’t get in the way of the story. The same goes for an underlying theme of religion; it’s present, but does not come across as pontifical, and just because the author explores religious themes, this is not a pious read; expect horror, gore, and some disturbing moments.
‘Through the Nethergate’ is one heck of a surprising read. The characters are numerous and fleshed out (no pun intended!), the story twists and grows into something epic, the horror is nicely done without being over the top, and the end is deeply satisfying. A solid read I can highly recommend.
A selection of other Sir Chocolate stories co-written with Michael Cheadle and other books by Robbie Cheadle
The next author today with a recent review is Audrey Driscoll for her latest book Tales from the Annexe: seven stories from the Herbert West Series and seven other tales
About the collection
Seven stories from the world of Audrey Driscoll’s Herbert West Series, followed by seven other tales of illusions, delusions, and mysteries on the edges of logic. Discover Herbert West’s connections to Egypt, and how a dead man can help solve a mystery. Share Charles Milburn’s ruminations as he explores another dimension of his friendship with Herbert. Sample the treats on offer from an ice cream truck from Hell. Ride along with a dad who abandoned his ten-year-old son in the woods where something howls. Find out why a woman paints her bedroom a very special colour. Watch fifteen-year-old Ann as she tries to prove she belongs to the glamorous family on the other side of town. These and seven other curious encounters may be found in this annexe to the ordinary.
A recent review for the collection
Reviewed in the United States on October 29, 2020
Having read all the author’s Herbert West novels, I was curious about the additional glimpses into that world afforded by this collection of stories. I enjoyed them all, with one of my favorites being “A Visit to Luxor” (I’m partial to the character of Andre, West’s only fully successful effort at resurrection). “One of the Fourteen” is chilling, and The Night Journey of Francis Dexter” is a must-read for Herbert West fans. I thought the weakest of these treatments was “The Nexus,” the introductory story. It isn’t something that grabs the attention and compels the reader to continue. Quarrington didn’t come to life for me. It might have been better placed at the end of the initial seven tales.
Actually, I enjoyed the final seven stories the most. They are great examples of the range of the author’s imagination, and her concluding comments on what inspired these stories was revelatory. She has the ability to work magic into a reality setting, even if the reality takes place in a constructed world (“The Blue Rose,” which reminded me a little bit of LeGuin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.”) I had read “The Ice Cream Truck from Hell” on the author’s blog, but I believe it has been reworked a bit and turned out perfect in the suggestiveness of its conclusion. “The Colour of Magic” was excellent, and “The Glamour” was definitely a favorite. The author’s ability to write great descriptive passages continues unabated.
I recommend this collection, even if you aren’t familiar with the Herbert West series. The concluding seven stories certainly make it worth the price of an ebook.
The final author today brings us full circle back to history an another book that I can recommend. The Story of the Huguenots: A Unique Legacy by Joyce Hampton.
About the book
The Huguenots were the most successful refugees to leave their homeland in search of freedom. The book tells of their questioning of the established Catholic faith in France and continues through the rise of Calvinism, the wars of religion, the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and the global diaspora of the Huguenots. It examines the national events that shaped their times, and brings to life some of their personal stories of persecution and flight, and how they travelled far and wide to begin new lives with the promise of religious and personal freedom.
The book not only tells their history but informs the reader of the numerous, diverse and ingenious inventions, many of which are still much in evidence in our lives today.
The book focuses mainly on France and the United Kingdom but within its covers can be found a kaleidoscope of information of their worldwide diaspora. Included within its pages are countless, often previously unpublished, Huguenot family histories set against the events they lived through.
The book covers 500 years of history from 1517-2017 and includes many courageous and selfless acts of Huguenot descendants during both world wars and identifies many well-known individuals who have Huguenot ancestry.
There is also information on how to research your Huguenot ancestors. The book has been described as a factual novel as it embraces both dedicated meticulous cross-referenced research with the easy read of a novel. A book with a difference that will suit both academic scholars and those who have very little knowledge of the Huguenots but would like to know more.
My review for the book October 27th 2020
This book is not just about the unique history of the Huguenots, which is compelling, tragic and inspiring, but is also how the legacy of these refugees from religious persecution enriched the lives of millions today around the world.
Covering 500 years this book takes us through the wars, revolts, betrayals and eventual sanctuary found in England and other parts of Europe, as well as the far outposts of the world in later centuries including South Africa. As refugees they were generally made welcome as the Huguenots brought with them a wealth of artisan skills which were highly regarded in their host countries, a strong moral and work ethic, and a belief in community and its well-being.
The author shares detailed histories of the countries of origin and the host nations. The Protestant and Catholic conflicts of the middle ages onward were a time of great uncertainty. Your religion was subject to a change in status on a frequent basis as kings and queens ascended the various European thrones. This included the thrones in Scotland and England during the 15th and 16th centuries.
It was fascinating to learn more about the various artisan skills that the refugees brought with them and re-established in London and some other major cities in England, Scotland and Ireland. The author gives detailed accounts of these such as silk production and spinning, gold and silver work, clocks and watchmaking, architecture and design, furniture making and printing. On the medical front leading doctors and scientists established protocols and advances in obstetrics and the establishment of pharmacies. Over the centuries Huguenot business leaders set in motion commercial ventures that are the origins of the Bank of England and our stock market.
It was interesting to discover that many well known authors, artists and actors that have brought their talent to the arts around the world were of Huguenot ancestry.
As well as the detailed history of the Huguenots as protestants from diverse nationalities, Joyce Hampton also shares the stories of individuals with a background to their reasons for seeking sanctuary, and how they brought great benefits to the adopted countries. These bring a personal element to the book that I much enjoyed, especially as it brought some people and events in my own life to mind. I had not given any thought to the name of my teacher in South Africa for example, but from the book I discovered that Miss Du Plessis was of Huguenot origins.
I can recommend this book to history lovers, genealogists and writers of historical novels as the detail and research is impeccable. For those researching their family trees it is a great reference for identifying possible Huguenot connections over the last 500 years, particularly if you originate from London or other major cities where the refugees settled.
More than anything, I came away from reading the book with a sense of hope. Today we see parallels to the religious persecution of 500 years ago, with millions still fleeing oppression and seeking sanctuary which is often denied. Without the acceptance and integration of Huguenots within our society, many of the advances in science, economics, commerce and the arts would be sadly lacking in our modern world. We need to take on board some of the lessons from the past.
Also by Joyce Hampton
Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some gifts to share.. thanks Sally.