Palimpsest: Book One of the MDS Series by Craig Herdern. Published in 2019 by HFS Rundle Publishing
Rating: Four Stars
A real page turner, kept me guessing until the end.
Palimpsest is a riveting, twisting crime story centered around a dysfunctional family and an experimental drug that allows users to access a multiple dimension state (MDS) that others might believe to be in the realm of science fiction and fantasy. This allows the users to access the lives of others at will, including those across the span of time.
As with all means and powers, this ability can be used for immense good or immense evil, depending on the individual. Heroine Lucinda Soames-Parker, or Lu, finds herself in a drug trial at University while trying to make some extra money to pay her tuition, thanks to the poor relations with her father, Edward Soames-Parker. who will stop at nothing to make his youngest daughter pay for not bending to his will. She’s aided by a number of people in her quest to stop those from harming her before it’s too late.
I won’t give the plot away, but the twists and turns in this novel kept me going until the very end. The only complaint that I have is that at times it felt quite jaunty while traveling in time without warning, thus made it a bit difficult to follow, but I later got used it. A compelling and thought-provoking read.
Looking for a romantic five-star read this weekend? Then snap up Before the Flood, the second book in my Laurelhurst series! It’s free to download on Kindle now through Sunday!
A beautiful, haunting celebration of the lasting bonds of family and friendship, Before the Flood returns readers to the world of the Cavert family and the Laurelhurst saga.
Fiery art student Lydie Cavert nearly has it all after putting the shadows of her uncle’s sinister legacy behind her: great friends, a blossoming art career, and romance with the handsome but reserved Dr. Henry Bainbridge, her brother’s best friend and colleague.
Her hope for peace is shattered when she returns to England to help Henry’s recovering sister Kate find her own happiness during the London Season. The sinister empire that claimed her uncle has plans for Lydia. Plans that could threaten her and Henry’s happiness by exposing secrets both would like to keep from resurfacing.
From New York City’s vibrant streets and the idyllic farmlands of Upstate New York to the cosmopolitan avenues of London and Paris, Before the Flood tells a story of the richness of family bonds, the searing heartbreak of betrayal, and the redeeming power of love and friendship.
It’s been a while since I posted content related. Like many people in this time of uncertainty, I’ve been dealing with the Coronavirus. My household has been affected, and I took time off from blogging to take care of myself.
I’m pleased to share a couple of Q&As and guest posts that I’ve done over the last few months.
I have a brand new Meet the Author interview with Michelle Whitman of Curled up with a good book. I’m answering all sorts of questions, some book related and others not. To read it head here:
I was also on Patricia Osborne’s blog this past spring with her Tuesday Guest Post series, right before the virus came to visit my household. Patricia is another saga author with books set in the 1960s. She was also featured on my Northern Reads series. To read it head here:
Do drop them a comment if you like the posts.
Also, I’ll be posting more this autumn now that I’m feeling much better.
Today on my blog, I’m having a chat with historical fiction author Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger about her books, research, and latest projects. Welcome, Chrystyna.
Tell us about your books. What topics inspire you? Are there any particular settings that you’re drawn to?
My stories tend to focus on the things that make my blood boil. One of my greatest values is fairness, tolerance and justice. Combine that with my love for discovering stories beneath the surface of things, and you’ve got a writer who writes the institutionalized stories: join ‘em, leave ‘em or take ‘em down.
My Reschen Valley series is set in northern Italy, in the province that was once Austria, and is based on the building of a dam. The fascist regime destroyed the entire valley and displaced hundreds of German-speaking families.
Souvenirs from Kiev is based on my relatives’ histories during WWII in Ukraine and takes readers on a perilous journey from the Underground to the DP camps of Germany.
Magda’s Mark, which is releasing in a collection, The Road to Liberation, this May, is based on a true story about my friend’s husband. Her father-in-law was a district SS officer in Moravia. When his son was born, he was returned to the mother circumcised.
Now, can you imagine the repercussions? My first thought was, “Holy ****! Who had the cajones to do that —pun intended—and what had pushed that person to take that great of risk?” My next question was, “And when we are pushed that far, are we not just becoming ‘one of ‘em’?”
As soon as I start asking those questions, I know I have a story—or an entire book. Magda’s Mark started off as a short story but when I got invited to take part in the Road to Liberation collection, it was burning to be expanded into novel length. I’m so glad I tackled that. I loved going to the beginning and to the end of Magda’s story.
What inspired you to become a historical novelist and write about the Second World War?
I had no intention of being a historical fiction novelist. It just happened that way. First, was the project I undertook in my mid-twenties to record the events my relatives experienced in WWII Ukraine. After I was done with writing what would become an publishable piece of work, I drove down to South Tyrol—that area of northern Italy I mentioned above—to recover. I passed Reschen Lake as I always did, haunted by that steeple poking out of the water. But this time the community had set up an exhibit illustrating exactly how the valley had been flooded. I took a walk after that, and wham! Like spirits rising from the waters, I had a whole cast of characters hovering before me, just above where those villages had once stood. I took in a deep breath and thought, another historical? Really? But they all crawled into my Nissan Micra and accompanied me for the next ten years.
I’ve got two more books to go and when I hit the WWII years with the current WIP, I realised I still have quite a few WWII stories in me. Souvenirs…came out in January and to rave reviews! Magda’s Mark was written in parallel and releases May 5th. I’ve got at least two more in me that I will tackle after the current series.
How do you go about researching your books?
I always, always visit the places I write about. I’m grateful to be able to do that. I live in central Europe, so hopping into the car and driving to my locales is hardly a challenge. In January this year I visited Litomerice, Czech Republic with my friend and cover designer. She goes on these research trips with me because she finds them inspiring and enriching. The visit was a surprise. I had written ahead to some of the libraries and ministries requesting to meet with sources I needed. Litomerice is not a terribly small town but a number of people knew who we were when we arrived. They’re kind of excited that someone from America is writing about them.
How do you think fiction, especially historical fiction, help us learn about different eras?
I think stories help us to understand the past, the present and the future. We function on narrative as much as we do on air and water. Now, in my opinion, historical fiction and science fiction serve the purposes of helping us to understand ourselves as a species, and the societies we live in. Surely, we learn historical details from our novels, but these stories are character-driven. They should resonate with the reader. Otherwise, we are writing non-fiction. I made that mistake of not drawing the lines in my first manuscripts. I still read some historical fiction and think, uh-oh, the author is info-dumping and the characters—as one mentor of mine remarked about my first drafts—are just being moved around like pieces on a chess board. I even saw a play like that in London a week ago. I was at the theatre with Marion Kummerow, who also writes WWII, and the story took place in Austria from 1899 to 1955. There was so much info-dumping done by the characters through monologues, Marion and I would glance at each other in the dark and kind of roll our eyes.
What can we look for next with you?
I’ve got a number of audiobook projects in the works—three to be exact, but the virus is preventing us from moving further on certain aspects—and then I will be releasing at least Book 5 of the Reschen Valley series by the end of October and perhaps the last one in December or January. Then possibly a whole slew of non-fiction books for my other business, two more WWII novels, and then I’m switching to a series that takes place in the 16th century in the Ottoman Empire. It’s going to be a doozie. In either case, if I have to be quarantined for a long time, I have a thousand ways to keep busy.
Can you give us a teaser of Magda’s Mark?
When the German military rolled past Voštiny, they were on the road opposite the Elbe River. Magda and her mother were singing “Meadows Green” and threshing the wheat but at the sight of those black automobiles and grey-green trucks, their song dissipated like smoke into the air. Magda’s mother straightened, one hand on her headscarf, like a gesture of disbelief. No tanks. No marching soldiers. Just the caravan, moving on south, growing smaller in size but larger in meaning.
When she looked towards the fields, Magda saw her father and her two brothers also pausing, one at a time, to witness the Germans chalking off the Sudetenland boundary with their exhaust fumes. The Nováks’ farm lay within it.
Magda’s father faced the cottage, and an entire exchange silently took place between her parents.
Then the rumors are true, her father said with a simple lift of his head.
What now? her mother asked via a glance toward the river and the pursing of lips.
Her father lowered his head. We finish the wheat.
And with that, Magda, her two brothers, and her parents stuck their heads in the sand and went back to work.
Later, at midday, urgent knocking rattled their door. Everyone froze except Magda. She looked around the room, as if this was to be the last scene she should remember. Her father held the edge of the table. Her mother stood. She was straight and proud and beautiful with an open face, the kindest light-brown eyes, and full lips. Magda’s brothers sat rigid in their chairs. Each of their wives held a child. And her grandparents sat so close to each other on the bench against the oven that they might as well have been in each other’s laps.
The knocking came more insistently, and this time they stirred into action. Magda’s father pushed himself from the table and left the room. The rest were in various stages of trying to look normal. A moment later, her father returned with the village heads. With baffling lightness, he offered them Becherovka, as if it were Christmas, and shared a joke about a cow and a farmer—Magda could never remember the story or the punch line that had made them laugh so.
The Sudetenland, the village wisemen announced, was now part of the Third Reich. Hitler was protecting his people. And that was why none of the other countries called foul on breaching the treaty.
“But we will not go to war,” one village elder had said, “as we may have feared.”
“Imagine that,” Magda’s father had said abruptly, in the tone he used when angry.
Her brothers, however, had visibly relaxed. They shouldn’t have.
Today on my blog, I have a stellar book review of Judith Barrow’s latest novel, The Memory, out today from Honno Press. Many thanks to Honno for an advanced review copy.
Hauntingly poignant, The Memory by Judith Barrow had me hooked from the beginning. Relationships between mothers and daughters aren’t always the picture-perfect images we see on social media. In fact, sometimes they are anything but. The relationship between main character Irene and her mother evolves around the birth of baby sister Rose, who was born with Down’s Syndrome during a time when children with handicaps or special needs were treated with shame by society.
Barrow’s beautifully written narrative perfectly captured the tensions that sometimes we inherit from one generation to the next beween mothers and daughters, and our ability to hold on to something we love at any cost.
I loved Irene as a character because although at times heartwrenching, she never gave up on the people that needed her. Her bond with her little sister, Rose, her gran Nanna, her father Derek, and the love of her life, Sam, painted an honest portrait over time of the joys and utter despairs of being a carer for nearly everyone else. I so wanted for her to finally have some peace in the end.
A must read for any mother and daughter as we navitage this challenging thing called sisterhood. Highly recommended. Five stars.
Today on my Northern Read series, I’m proud to have fellow historical fiction author John R McKay on the blog discussing how growing up in Wigan influenced his WWI novel, The Sun Will Always Shine.
Welcome, John. Tell us about how The Sun Will Always Shine and why you set it in the north?
The book is set before and during World War One and is about two brothers who live on a dairy farm with their parents and young sister (who has learning difficulties). Their father is abusive towards them, and, not to give too much of the plot away, they commit a gruesome crime to free themselves and their sister from his evil ways. To escape the fallout, one of the brothers joins the army and ends up in the trenches of the Western Front, whilst his older brother stays at home to face the consequences of what they’ve done.
I chose the north of England for two reasons. The first is that I am from Wigan in Lancashire/Greater Manchester and wanted to write a novel set near to my home town. The second is that I wanted to write something about the ‘Pals Battalions’ of the First World War, many of which hailed from the north of England. These were groups of friends who joined up together and paid the ultimate price together on the Somme and other battles. Rather than just write about what happened to those young men, I decided to incorporate a drama around those events to show the human element to an awful historic event. Being from the north of England myself and having been stationed near to a lot of WW1 sites when in the RAF in Belgium, this is a period of history that has always fascinated me.
I have managed to incorporate a couple of scenes into the novel that are set in my home town of Wigan, including a convalescent home that actually existed at the time.
I am proud to be a northerner and my latest project will also be set in the north west of England.
Can’t wait to read it!
More about The Sun Will Always Shine:
Set before and during the First World War The Sun Will Always Shine tells the story of brothers Harry and Charlie Davenport, who live on a farm in northern England, and their attempts to protect their mother and sister from their abusive and violent father. They believe that their father’s increasing brutality needs to be stopped and they will need to carry out strong action to do that in order to protect their family. With war approaching they realise that these actions could have terrible consequences upon the very people they have sworn to protect. As suspicions grow ever stronger, could they find an escape in the trenches of the Western Front before their secret is revealed and their world is ripped apart? This is a tale of war, grief, horror, lost love and sacrifice and is John R McKay’s most powerful novel to date.
About John R McKay:
John R McKay was born and raised in Wigan, Greater Manchester where he lives with his wife, Dawn. He has two grown up daughters Jessica and Sophie. John has recently become a USA Today Bestselling author following the success of the anthology ‘The Darkest Hour – Tales of WW2 Resistance.’ John’s contribution to the anthology ‘V for Victory’ has now been released as a standalone novella. His other works include ‘The Absolution Of Otto Finkel’, a historical novel covering largely unknown events of World War 2 and how war affects people in different ways. His latest novel, ‘Codename: GREYMAN’ concludes the tale. In ‘Mosquitoes’, which is a break from his normal genre, John has produced a contemporary study of how a man can ‘lose the plot’ when circumstances in his life change suddenly. A black comedy, Mosquitoes is a uniquely written story, told from the perspective of a man unable to cope with the both the pressures of modern society and those pressures he puts upon himself in a constant struggle to accept the situation fate has given him. His novel, ‘The Worst Journey In The World’ is set aboard a Royal Navy frigate which carries out perilous journeys to the Soviet Union during World War 2. He cites his modern literary favourites as Sebastian Faulkes, Robert Harris and Wilbur Smith.
John is a qualified Advanced Open Water Scuba diver and also enjoys cinema, reading books of various genres and following the fortunes of his beloved Liverpool Football Club.
I loved V for Victory! Where can we find you on social media?
Today on the blog for this edition of Northern Reads we welcome Anne Marie Brear as she discusses her novel The Slum Angel which is set in York.
Welcome, AnneMarie. Please tell us about why you chose to set The Slum Angel it in York?
Although Australian born, my family are from Wakefield in West Yorkshire. I’ve lived in England and love the history. The Slum Angel is set in York, where several of my books are set. York is a great place and I only lived an hour’s drive from there so I could visit and walk the streets to help with my research. York has a fascinating history in all eras, and I thought to set a book there which highlighted the slum problems in the Victorian era.
That’s fascinating! My grandfather’s name was Wakefield. 🙂 He never got to see his namesake, though. What can readers expect from The Slum Angel?
Orphan Victoria Carlton is brought up by her uncle, a banker, to be a lady and make a good marriage. Yet, she is drawn to help the poor families in the slums, much to her family’s disgust. When her uncle dies suddenly, her cousins blame Victoria, and she is thrown out of the house with nothing. Victoria flees to the poor side of York to start again in a world that is full of perils. To combat the heartache of being without her family, she befriends the destitute women and children in the slums, but such friendships come with the danger of disease, and increasing poverty, and the threat of a brutal man could cost her everything. Can Victoria find the security she has lost? Will a certain doctor be the man she can give her heart to? Or will the ghosts of the past return to take away everything she has worked so hard for?
Amazon UK bestseller and award winning Australian author, AnneMarie Brear has been a life-long reader and started writing in 1997 when her children were small. She has written 22 novels and several short stories. She has a love of history, of grand old English houses and a fascination of what might have happened beyond their walls. Her interests include reading, genealogy, watching movies, spending time with family and eating chocolate – not always in that order!
On this edition for Northern Reads in February, we cap the month off with Jo Fenton and her brand new release Revelation.
I’d like to thank you, Kellie, for allowing me to appear on your blog today.
Revelation is my latest novel, released by Darkstroke Publishing on Monday 24th February.
It is set in Manchester in 1989, and is about students, Becky and Dan, whose friend, Rick, was found dead in suspicious circumstances. It’s a story of unrequited love, grief, friendship, betrayal and revenge.
The setting is the Halls of Residence where I lived as a student, and other areas around Manchester University and Fallowfield.
I remained in Manchester after graduating, as my parents moved to North Manchester at the end of my first term at University, and I’ve lived in the area ever since. I definitely consider myself an adopted Northerner!
Revelation is the start of a series of books, featuring Becky as a Manchester-based detective.
In Revelation, she investigates the death of her friend, Rick. In subsequent books, we meet her as a middle-aged adult – married with kids, and a recent trauma.
My detailed knowledge of the area and community where I live features strongly in the novels, and adds a distinct local flavour. However, readers will not need to know the area to enjoy the books.
Book 2, Paparazzi, is in progress, and will hopefully be ready for release next winter.
About the book:
A student, Rick, is found dead in halls of residence.
His friends get caught up in the aftermath: Dan, who was in love with Rick; and Becky, who is in love with Dan.
Their fraught emotions lead them into dark places – particularly a connection to a mysterious Kabbalistic sect.
Will Becky discover who killed Rick in time to save her best friend?
About the author:
Jo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age and, at eleven, discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer. She now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.
Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.
When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her family and is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and two reading groups.
Revelation was released on Amazon on 24th February
Today on my edition of Northern Reads, I’m pleased to welcome Sandra Danby as she discusses her novel Connectednesss and growing up in East Yorkshire.
Thanks for stopping by, Sandra. Tell us about Connectedness.
Connectednessis the second novel in the ‘Identity Detective’ series of adoption reunion mysteries and it is set partly in Spain and partly on the East Yorkshire coast. I lived for ten years in Southern Spain and grew up on a dairy farm on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds, half a mile from the coastline. This meant I woke early on a summer’s day to the sound of the waves breaking on the shore and the call of ‘Good Morning Campers!’ from the local Butlins camp. A few miles away is Rudston, the Wolds village where Winifred Holtby was born. So I grew up in awe of the author who wrote South Riding. They say you should always write what you know, Holtby did. The Yorkshire Wolds are present in her writing, but particularly in South Riding and Anderby Wold.
Ignoring Gravity, first in the ‘Identity Detective’ series, is set in Wimbledon because that’s where I was living when I wrote it. For Connectedness I returned home, to the place on the East Yorkshire coast where my heart belongs even though I live hundreds of miles away. The cliffs that feature in Connectedness are the cliffs where I grew up, my sister recognised many references when she read the book. There’s a Christmas scene where mother and daughter arrange biscuits in a tin, it is a moment of togetherness, of belonging, and it’s something I did with my own mother every year in that excitable week before Christmas.
When I started writing fiction, I naively didn’t expect my own upbringing to have a big effect on my writing. I’d been a journalist in the South for over thirty years, surely I had left my childhood behind.
But the imagination has a uncanny way of unlocking memories and emotions and I soon found that instead of imagining a make-believe place, I was remembering a real one. So for Connectedness I harnessed this energy in a positive way, by having my main character grow up where I did. I suspect Yorkshire will sneak into my future books too.
TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD, ARTIST JUSTINE TREE HAS IT ALL… BUT SHE ALSO HAS A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERYTHING
Justine’s art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.
Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud the deeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells for millions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her art? And what will she do if her daughter hates her?
This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain.
Sandra Danby is a proud Yorkshire woman, tennis nut and tea drinker. She believes a walk on the beach will cure most ills. Unlike Rose Haldane, the identity detective in her two novels, Ignoring Gravity and Connectedness, Sandra is not adopted. She is now writing Sweet Joy, third in the ‘Identity Detective’ series.