It’s 1981 and Belfast is burning. So, too, is freshly widowed Bessie Halstone: she burns with a desire to break with her troubled past. With her feckless husband gone, she leaves home hurriedly with her naughty nine-year-old son, Herkie, and not much else. The Dentist, an IRA enforcer, is on her tail. He’s convinced that Bessie, with her “yella hair all puffed up like Merlin Monroe’s,” has absconded with the takings from a bank heist.
But car trouble strands mother and son in Tailorstown, a sleepy Ulster village. Bessie finds temporary work as housekeeper for the handsome and mysterious parish priest.
In the meantime, Lorcan Strong, an artist and a native of the village, is summoned home. He’s been shanghaied into forging paintings for the IRA. It’s work he cannot refuse; his mother and their business are under threat.
Yet things are not what they seem in quirky Tailorstown. There is a “sleeper” in the village. But who? Bizarrely, it is young Herkie, due to his childish curiosity, who unravels the mystery and saves the day.
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The Glassblower (Just 99p Audiobook £3.49) In the village of Lauscha in Germany, things have been done the same way for centuries. The men blow the glass, and the women decorate and pack it. But when Joost Steinmann passes away unexpectedly one September night, his three daughters must learn to fend for themselves.
The American Lady (Just 99p Audiobook £3.49) Tempestuous and beautiful Wanda Miles, daughter of Ruth and Stephen Miles (or so she thinks), aspires to more than the life of a debutante, but the trouble is she doesn’t know precisely what she wants. Then her aunt Marie, the family’s renowned glassblower, arrives from Lauscha, Germany, and Wanda decides that learning about her ancestry may hold the key to her future.
The Paradise of Glass (Just 99p Audiobook £3.49) Johanna, the oldest of the three Steinmann sisters, has successfully managed the family glassblowing business since her father’s death, and her sister Marie’s artistic gifts have made their wares unexpectedly famous. But now the livelihood of the town of Lauscha, Germany—known around the world as the “paradise of glass”—is in danger.
From humble beginnings as a shopkeeper’s son in Coventry to ‘Page of the Backstairs’ at Clarence House, William Tallon, or ‘Backstairs Billy’ as he came to be known, entered royal service at the age of fifteen. Over the next fifty years, he became one of the most notorious and flamboyant characters ever to have graced the royal household – the one servant the Queen Mother just could not do without. While others came and went, he remained by her side, becoming one of her most trusted friends and confidants.
The fascinating life story of the man who spent more than half a century working for one of the world’s most elusive institutions, Backstairs Billy provides a rare glimpse of what the royals really get up to behind closed doors…
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Philip, Prince of Spain, the unwilling bridegroom of Queen Mary, has been warned about the Queen’s half-sister, the young Elizabeth. According to all reports, she is a heretic, a rebel and a potential enemy, and has ‘a spirit full of enchantment’. An alluring description and one that immediately intrigues, rather than deters, the foreign prince.
Accused of treachery by Mary and under threat of death, Elizabeth’s life hangs in the balance. Only Philip, idolised by his ageing wife and able to sway her decisions, holds the power to save the courageous young princess. And so Elizabeth must advance warily towards her destiny, running the gauntlet between Bloody Mary’s jealousy and Philip’s uneasy ardour . . .
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Banquo’s Son (Just 99p Audiobook £2.99) Fleance is the son of Scottish thane Banquo, friend and then victim of the ruthless Macbeth. Ten years have passed since his father’s brutal murder and still Fleance lives in hiding in the woods of northern England—his identity cloaked, his birthright denied. With sweet, beautiful Rosie by his side, he has settled into a simple life rather than one of power and prestige.
But every man has his price.
Bloodlines (Just 99p Audiobook £3.49) The rebellion is over, Scotland has its rightful king, and the battlefields lie still—for now. Fleance, son of Banquo, has brought a new dawn to Scotland, and in the process become a very different man from the lowly huntsman who rode north to save his country.
With the rebels circling and his crown starting to slip, the time has come for Fleance to prove that Scotland is in his heart as well as in his blood.
Eleven-year-old William yearns for the life of a falconer—training the magnificent birds of prey for the favored sport of medieval England’s nobility. But in the boy’s clubfoot his mother sees a sign from the gods: like the legendary Hephaestus of ancient mythology, William is bound to wield a blacksmith’s hammer. So his future lies in the smoky foundries of a swordmaker rather than the rolling fields of a falcon master.
Then fate plays its hand: William rescues the wounded bird of King Henry himself, gains favor with the grateful monarch, and at last sees his deepest desire within reach.
But with his new life as apprentice falconer at a nobleman’s castle begins a tumultuous coming-of-age. The years to come will bring triumph and tragedy, friendship and treachery, truest love and most brutal loss. Yet through it all, he will never stop battling—for justice, joy, and the chance to soar skyward in spirit beside his beloved falcons.
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It was 12:30 a.m. on 9/11 and Roselle whimpered at Michael’s bedside. As a trained guide dog, when she was “on the clock” nothing could faze her. By all indications it was going to be a normal day. Until they went into the office.
In Thunder Dog, follow Michael and his guide dog, Roselle, as their lives are changed forever by two explosions and 1,463 stairs. When the first plane struck Tower One, an enormous boom, frightening sounds, and muffled voices swept through Michael’s office while shards of glass and burning scraps of paper fell outside the windows.
But in this harrowing story of trust and courage, discover how blindness and a bond between dog and man saved lives and brought hope during one of America’s darkest days. You can purchase this book today only for only 99p. Audiobook: £3.99.
Our review: Written by Michael Hingson, Thunder Dog describes how he and his guide dog escaped the World Trade Center on September 11. The account was interspersed with Hingson’s reflections on his experiences growing up in a sighted world. The description of the fire and destruction of 9/11 are vivid but not disturbing. This would be an appropriate read for someone as young as middle school or someone who needs motivation or inspiration.
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1583, and tensions are running high. Dissension rages between King and councillors, and between the separate factions of the Kirk.
At St Mary’s college, the reformer Andrew Melville is unsettled by a series of unnatural events, while the ailing Archbishop Patrick Adamson plays out his darkest fantasies, in the safe seclusion of the castle vaults.
Hew is called to investigate a mysterious incident and finds suspicion falling upon him as he is ensnared in a world of superstition, subterfuge and death. This new Hew Cullan story sees the academic lawyer once again in the company of his sister Meg and her husband, physician Giles Locke, in their most challenging case yet.
Alliances are formed; there are old scores to be settled; old ghosts reappear and spies are abroad. The king’s escape from captivity throws all in confusion, and as Hew’s loves and loyalties are put to the test, his own life and future are no longer secure.
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1217: England has been invaded. Much of the country is in the iron grip of Louis of France and his collaborators, and civil war rages as the forces of the boy king try to fight off the French.
Most of this means nothing to Edwin Weaver, son of the bailiff at Conisbrough Castle in Yorkshire, until he is suddenly thrust into the noble world of politics and treachery: he is ordered by his lord the earl to solve a murder which might have repercussions not just for him but for the future of the realm.
Edwin is terrified but he must obey; he takes on the challenge and learns more until he uncovers a horrific secret which has been dead and buried for fifteen years, a secret which might kill them all – and realises there are some questions to which he might not wish to know the answers.
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Since its original publication in 1936, Gone With the Wind—winner of the Pulitzer Prize and one of the bestselling novels of all time—has been heralded by readers everywhere as The Great American Novel. Gone With the Wind explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction.
This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life.
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Below is a personal story about Gone with the Wind:
The two ladies who bring you this website grew up on a farm in a rural Midwestern community in the United States. Our parents encouraged reading for our entertainment and we didn’t go to the movies like the kids who lived in town.
In the mid-70s, Gone with the Wind was re-released to theaters and our mother told us that it was one of the only movies she had seen as a teen. This was long before movies were readily available through mass-marketed video tapes or DVDs. Even though it had been more than 30 years since she had seen the classic, Mom remembered many details and she expressed a desire to see it again.
The Friday night the movie was showing in town, we jumped in the car, bought tickets at the same theater where Mom had seen it 35 years earlier and were enthralled by Scarlett O’Hara’s story on the big screen. We loved the splendor of Tara, laughed at Prissy’s “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ babies!”, and agreed that Ashley was a wimp, Rhett was all man and Scarlett wouldn’t have lasted a week in the Midwest.
More than 30 years have passed since that Friday night adventure. Though the details of the movie have faded, I fondly remember the only time that Mom and I went to the movies together.