Drawing Anglo-Saxon and Viking Treasure: Guest Post by Gilli Allan

To tie in with the release of the gorgeous new cover for Buried Treasure, I'm delighted to hand the blog over to author Gilli Allan: ...

Friday, 14 June 2019

Friday Featured: H

Welcome to Friday Featured. I'm publishing, working from A-Z, a weekly list of authors whose works I think you should check out. Maybe I've read some of their works, maybe I've worked with them on various projects, perhaps their books are on my To-Be-Read pile, or perhaps they are friends of mine who have news that needs to be shared. The only rule here is that it is totally unsolicited. The authors don't know I'm going to feature them, and in that way you'll know that this is simply my honest opinion. If I haven't read their work yet I'll be candid and say so, but at least one book by each of these authors is either on my shelves, or on my Kindle; it might be that I just haven't got to them yet 😊

This week, H: (clicking on the names will take you to the author website; book titles will take you to Amazon)

Jane Harris I bought this in a secondhand book shop a few months ago and the back cover blurb just intrigued me. It says, "So there I was with two pens, my two titties, Charles Dickens, two slices of bread and a blank book at the end of my first day in the middle of nowhere. Except as it turned out it wasn't quite the end." The Observations has garnered mixed reviews,  but after reading the blurb I couldn't not buy it. The description on the well-known internet shopping site provides a bit more info: "Scotland, 1863. In an attempt to escape her past, Bessy Buckley takes a job working as a maid in a big country house. But when Arabella, her beautiful mistress, asks her to undertake a series of bizarre tasks, Bessy begins to realise that she hasn't quite landed on her feet." The blurb, and opening pages promise quite a  'romp'; I'll tell you more when I've read it!

Steve Harrison One of the first books I ever downloaded as an e-book, Time Storm was not my usual read, certainly not back then. I was quite new to 'time-slip' stories but I was aware of them and the idea that people can move from one time period to another. This one is different from most, in that people slip into the future, or rather, their future; right into modern-day Australia. And when I say people, it's a whole boat load of convicts from 1795. This is definitely time-slip with a twist, and what follows is part historical, part time-slip and part thriller. It's not always an easy read and there are some dark, violent moments, but it's easy to suspend disbelief and the author has a natural style which makes the narrative flow. Steve's blog is always worth a read too, where his posts are funny and insightful. 

Cathie Hartigan Cathie Hartigan is a busy lady, being the founder of CreativeWritingMatters, co-authoring books on how to write, running the Exeter Writing Prizes and winning awards herself. Secret of the Song is not time-slip, but has a dual timeline. In modern-day Exeter, a singing group decides to perform a song written by Carlo Gesualdo, a composer in Renaissance Naples. It seems that the song might in some way be cursed and we travel back to medieval Italy where there is a murder mystery. Strange goings-on in modern-day Exeter also need to be explained... I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The modern-day music group scenes were engaging, and the medieval Italian story was depicted beautifully, with setting and story-line deeply absorbing. A really satisfying read.

Suzy Henderson I met Suzy at a tiny pub in Buttermere when a few of us writers got together, and a few months later when she and I went off to a writers' conference in Newcastle. I didn't tell her at the time that I was reading her book, The Beauty Shop so I think my review came as a surprise to her. The Beauty Shop referred to in the title is where disfigured servicemen received 'plastic sugery' under the direction of pioneer Archibald McIndoe, but the story centres around Mac, a USAF pilot, and his girlfriend, Stella. The physical pain is only half the story for the men whom Archibald tried to help and there are poignant scenes where loved ones cannot cope and abandon the men. Mac and Stella's story is sweet, and felt real. The world-building is deftly done and the epilogue made me cry!

Georgia Hill I got to 'know' Georgia through a readers' club on Facebook and again, this was one of the first books I read as an e-book. While I Was Waiting  is a dual timeline story, concerning Rachel, who moves into a dilapidated Herefordshire cottage and finds letters and journals written by Hetty, who lived during the first world war. There is nothing beyond 1916, though, and Rachel tries to discover what happened. I found the modern-day scenes just as enjoyable as the historical ones, and the romance between Rachel and Gabe played out realistically without being too 'soppy'. Hetty's story was intriguing and I won't give away any spoilers but again, the period setting was very well-depicted and the heartbreak and horrors of the Edwardian period as it slipped into the time of WWI was well portrayed.

Helen Hollick I first came to know of Helen's books when The Kingmaking, the first in her Arthurian Trilogy, was a Book Club Editor's Choice. What a revelation. Not much myth and mystery here, but a realistic retelling of the Arthurian legend, with a wonderfully 'real' Guinevere. The picture here is the photo of my original hardback copy although the trilogy now boasts new covers. I've gone on to read not only volumes two and three, but Helen's Anglo-Saxon books, one about Queen Emma and one about Harold Godwineson, and the prequel to her Sea Witch Pirate series. But I think The Kingmaking is still my favourite. I should add that a dream came true in 2016 when I worked with Helen on an anthology of short stories and I now help her admin her Discovering Diamonds Review site. Pinch me!!

Perhaps you'll find your next great read from among this selection. Join me next time for authors whose names begin with J,K & L


  1. Thank you Annie... for the mention and for such a delightful post! I'm glad that I now have a better UK cover for The Kingmaking, that original was a tad disappointing!

    1. You're very welcome Helen - I know you prefer the new cover, but I must confess to having a soft spot for this one as it was my introduction to your wonderful stories all those years ago :-)

  2. I read The Observations, lovely book.The Kingmaking sounds interesting, I must read it.

    1. The Observations is on the top of my 'hardcopy' books so I'll get to it next. Good to hear that you enjoyed it. the Kingmaking is a fabulous read. Let me know what you think :-)