My 5 Favourite…March Reads

Here’s my 5 favourite books out of the twelve I read in March:

Ares Road (Jake Caldwell #2) by James L. Weaver

Six months on from the thrilling conclusion of Poor Boy Road, Jake Caldwell is trying to start a new career as a private investigator, mentored by ex-cop Logan. Having rekindled his relationship with old flame, Maggie, Jake’s soon up to his neck in trouble though. Thankfully, he can count on the support of his old buddy Bear, Sheriff of Benton County. Jake’s moved on in his life, has a positive future in prospect so now he’s got much more to protect – and he will fight for it, make no mistake.

I really enjoyed the first book, Poor Boy Road, and this follow-up didn’t disappoint – it was fast-paced, full of twists and turns and sees the return of some favourite characters from the first book. I hope there will be a third very soon. (5/5)

These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper

In a forgotten corner of Paris stands a building. Within its walls, people talk and kiss, laugh and cry; some are glad to sit alone, while others wish they did not. A woman with silver-blonde hair opens her bookshop downstairs, an old man feeds the sparrows on his windowsill, and a young mother wills the morning to hold itself at bay. Though each of their walls touches someone else’s, the neighbours they pass in the courtyard remain strangers.  But in distant corners of the city, as Paris is pulled taut with summer heat, there are those who meet with a darker purpose. As the feverish metropolis is brought to boiling point, secrets will rise and walls will crumble both within and without Number 37…

Due to be published mid-May, this is a very impressive debut novel. I loved the way you learn about the different characters living at no. 37 – some likeable, some less so – and then see how their lives intersect against the background of momentous events taking place in Paris. Reading this at the same time as the dreadful terrorist attack in London made the themes it explores only resonate more. There will be a full review on my blog closer to publication. (5/5)

Shelter by Sarah Franklin (final cover not yet available)

Connie, a spirited young woman, escapes bombed-out Coventry in WWII to work as a ‘lumberjill’ with the Women’s Timber Corps within a reclusive community in the Forest of Dean.  Nursing a secret and running from a tragic past and life-defining decision, the forest becomes a haven and also a source of new opportunities.

This has been a month when NetGalley has really aced it because here is another new writer making an impressive debut. Due for publication at the end of July, I really enjoyed the story, the period setting and the quality of the writing. There will be a full review on my blog closer to publication. (4/5)

Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen

Hannah arrives back from a conference to find that her boyfriend, Matt, has left their shared home taking all his possessions with him.   That’s all his possessions plus every trace of their life together.  It’s as if he’d never been there, as if their relationship had never happened. Distraught, Hannah sets out to find out where Matt has gone and why he left. But the more she discovers, the more questions it poses, the more she is driven to search for answers. Her single-minded search for him will have unforeseen consequences for her, her friends and family.

I likened this really entertaining thriller to a mystery tour where all you know is you’re in a car going somewhere but you’ve no idea what that destination is, you’ve just got to trust the driver to get you there. There’ll be unexpected bumps in the road, dead-ends, stop signs and abrupt hand brake turns. You’ll think you know where you’re going and then – wham – you’re taking a sudden, unexpected detour. (4/5)

The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer

The year is 1348 and brothers John and William have been infected by the plague. Their fate is sealed. Until a voice from the skies offers them a choice: ‘You may stay here and spend your last six days with your wife and children. Or you may put yourself in my hands now. I will wipe the scars from your face and the swellings from your body. I will extinguish your fever. I will let you live your last six days in the distance of the future.’ John and William agree: they will live for six more days and in return they will do good deeds in order to try to save their souls. But there’s a twist: each of those six days will begin ninety-nine years after the last, delivering them each time to an increasingly alien existence. As they travel, the reader travels with them, seeing the world change with conflict, disease, progress and enlightenment. But all the while time is counting down to a moment of judgement…

Historian Ian Mortimer has created an unusual mix of historical fiction, time travel and straight history for his first work of fiction. I wasn’t sure initially that there was enough of the fiction element for me but as I became more immersed in the story of the two brothers I found myself really curious about what would become of them. There will be a full review on my blog closer to publication in mid-June. (4/5)

What books have you enjoyed in March?

Book Review: The Du Lac Devil by Mary Anne Yarde

DuLacDevilAction-packed, tightly plotted historical fantasy/ romance

About the Book

Publisher’s description (courtesy of Goodreads): War is coming to Saxon Briton. As one kingdom after another falls to the savage might of the High King, Cerdic of Wessex, only one family dares to stand up to him — The Du Lacs. Budic and Alden Du Lac are barely speaking to each other, and Merton is a mercenary, fighting for the highest bidder. If Wessex hears of the brothers’ discord, then all is lost. Fate brings Merton du Lac back to the ancestral lands of his forefathers, and he finds his country on the brink of civil war. But there is worse to come, for his father’s old enemy has infiltrated the court of Benwick. Now, more than ever, the Du Lac must come together to save the kingdom and themselves. Can old rivalries and resentments be overcome in time to stop a war?

Book Facts

  • Format: ebook
  • No. of pages: 393
  • Publication date: 6th December 2016
  • Genre: Historical Fantasy, Historical Romance

My Review (3.5 out of 5)

This is the second book in Mary Anne Yarde’s The Du Lac Chronicles series.  I haven’t read the first book and I did find it difficult at first to work out who everyone was, who was related to whom and how and what the different political factions were. So I would probably recommend readers to start with the first book in the series to get more of the back story on the characters.

Having said that, I enjoyed the book and thought the author did a great job of blending her imaginary world with the limited historical fact and the more extensive fable surrounding King Arthur, Lancelot, etc.   There was no attempt at period language which I think is probably wise as this is often unsuccessful although there were a couple of occasions when some very modern sounding phrases jarred such as ‘Come on, sunshine, time to wake up’ and ‘This could all go pear-shaped at any minute’.

The book focuses on Merton, the youngest of the sons of Lancelot du Lac, who has built up a fearsome reputation as a mercenary.   His rumoured ‘devilish’ actions are actually the key to his success as a mercenary but of course there is usually more than one side to a person’s character.   The plot is fast-paced and full of twists and turns. There are secret alliances, plots and counter-plots, intrigues and acts of violence driven by ambition, revenge, love and betrayal.   At times, it became a little taxing to keep up with all the changes of alliances and revelations. Into the heady mix is woven romance as Merton finds himself the object of more than one woman’s affection.  Can the Du Lac Devil be tamed?

The author has created a thoroughly entertaining story, a blend of historical fiction, fantasy and romance, with plenty of loose ends that could be picked up in future books.

I received a review copy courtesy of Xpresso Book Tours and the author in return for an honest review.

To buy a copy of The Du Lac Devil from, click here (link is provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme)

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In three words: Fast-paced, entertaining, romance

Try something similar…Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff

MaryAnneYardeAbout the Author

Mary Anne Yarde is an award winning author of the International Bestselling series — The Du Lac Chronicle. Born in Bath, England, Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury – the fabled Isle of Avalon – was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood. At nineteen, Yarde married her childhood sweetheart and began a Bachelor of Arts in history at Cardiff University, only to have her studies interrupted by the arrival of her first child. She would later return to higher education, studying equine science at Warwickshire College. Horses and history remain two of her major passions. Yarde keeps busy raising four children and helping run a successful family business. She has many skills but has never mastered cooking–so if you ever drop by, she (and her family) would appreciate some tasty treats or a meal out!

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