Monday, November 15, 2010

Poppy Day 11 November 2010

On 15th November, ninety-five years ago, my great Uncle, Lance Corporal TW Ettershank was killed on Flanders fields in the First World War. He was just 21 years of age.
He came from Leeds and was a member of the King's Own Yorkshire Regiment.
I discovered where he was buried after corresponding with a historian in Belgium, who I was able to assist in finding some information about a Tasmanian soldier who is buried in a village cemetery in Belgium.
This week I received an email from Alain saying that he had visted the Irish New Farm War Cemetery and placed a cross and poppy on my great Uncle's grave.
Sadly, my mother died (aged 99) only a few months ago, but I know she would have appreciated that gesture and it would have rekindled memories of her lost brother.

Breathe again - for a spell

At last university is over for the year and I have a couple of months breathing space.
That doesn't mean I have nothing to do.
The last 9 months have been full-on! Too full-on!
Next year I am planning to only do a couple of units at uni instead of the eight I did this year.
Still, it was interesting - History, Indigenous studies and a couple of units on Antarctica.
But now I am getting the hankering to get back to writing - possible a sequel to my nautical adventure.
But first I have to do some follow-up and promo on the last book which I didn't do earlier.
The following reviews take up a fair swag of the blog but hope the publicity helps sell a few copies.

FLAOTING GOLD review by 'Pirates and Privateers'

Floating Gold
By Margaret Muir
Robert Hale, 2010, ISBN 978-0-7090-9051-9, £18.99
Captain Oliver Quintrell has recovered from his war wounds and desperately wants a new ship, but with the Royal Navy downsizing following the declaration of peace between the European nations, that is unlikely to happen. As he observes a convoy of merchant ships from the beach on the Isle of Wight, his manservant brings news that he’s been called to London, much to the dismay of Oliver’s wife. But duty calls and he goes to Whitehall, where he receives orders shrouded in secrecy.

His new post is the thirty-eight-gun frigate, and he and his crew are to accompany a convoy to Madeira. He is not, however, to engage any enemy. Nor is he in command of the convoy, which causes problems when the commodore’s orders directly conflict with those from the Admiralty. Once they arrive at Madeira, he receives additional orders – secret ones that he is not to open until his ship reaches the fifteenth parallel.

Breaking in a new crew and not knowing much about the officers who serve under him, Quintrell runs a tight ship. Before they reach their destination, they acquire additional and unexpected hands – Will Ethridge and several others. Will’s knowledge of shipbuilding and carpentry earn him a spot as mate to Chippy, the ship’s carpenter. When Chippy disappears after a stop in Brazil and two of the unexpected recruits go missing, Will is the first to sound the alarm, but there is little Quintrell can do.

The journey to their final destination, a secret place that may or may not exist, is fraught with danger – weather, a leak that was caused on purpose, and others who seek the same treasure as England. Will they survive? Will they find what the Admiralty needs? Will they return safely home?

Muir crafts a spellbinding nautical tale that captures the reader’s attention and never releases it until the final page is turned. Her research and attention to detail are impeccable and her experience as a mariner enhances the adventure. Floating Gold whisks readers back to the heyday of the British navy and while the astounding voyage never actually happened, readers find themselves living the life of a sailor and witnessing the awesome beauty and dangers of Deception Island and sailing the seas on a wooden ship in days of yore.
Reviewed by : Cindy Vallar
Editor, Pirates and Privateers:

FLOATING GOLD review from

Floating Gold By Margaret Muir

Captain Oliver Quintrell is hoping for a ship, but the recent Treaty of Amiens and his equally recent injuries make this rather unlikely. But even if he cannot sail off to war, there are other uses for a naval captain and his is to ensure safe passage for a convoy of merchantmen. He also has some sealed orders that have to be opened when he has reached a certain place…

I think Ms Muir is that rarest of rare birds, an author who can fill a fat novel with a long story. Unfortunately she does not get the chance this time, but there is a feeling in this book that despite its comparative brevity what we are getting is a shortened version of a much longer tale. I enjoy naval fiction and was impressed with this tale of sealed orders, adventures, uncharted waters and mysterious happenings. As sea stories go this one ticks all the boxes, and it isn’t even set during wartime. Ms Muir is adept at characterization, plotting and descriptions as well as showing that she knows one end of a ship from the other. We are promised on the flyleaf “unknown dangers and unspeakable horrors” and although I can promise some of these, I wonder what the book would have been like if it had been twice, or three times as long. We will never know, but I reckon it might have been a contender for my top ten books of the year. As it is this is highly recommended, and I do hope the first in a new series.
© 2010

Posted at www.MyShelf.Com

FLOATING GOLD review from The Book Bag

The novel opens with a description of the rotting remains of a human being battered by the waves on the beaches of the Isle of Wight. I cannot recall any book I have ever read starting on a more depressing note, but this is far from a depressing, or disappointing, story.
Floating Gold is an historical naval novel centred around Captain Oliver Quintrell and his crew who set sail on a secret assignment to the Southern Ocean. The story moves at a good pace. The author never dawdles on one scene for too long or gets bogged down. There were a few subplots to support the main story – my favourite being the death of a midshipman during some onboard games.
There is a good contrast to the characters, the most important three being the Captain, his lieutenant, Simon Parry, and the carpenter's mate, Will Ethridge. The characters are developed well and their backstories slot into the story perfectly. The interactions between characters and the rest of the crew is believable and well written.
I think I would have found the story harder to read if I had not recently read a couple of other books from the same genre. Naval terms, such as ketches, brigs, sloops and fo'c'sle were common and if I had not read other naval novels recently or was especially interested in the genre, I am sure I would have found some of the book harder to understand.
There can be no doubting the calibre of the author's writing. I found the book hard to put down and was kept interested throughout. There is a richness and sharpness to the prose that made the book so enjoyable. There were a few moments of humour littered throughout the book, my favourite being the colourful assertion by the Captain that women view news through kaleidoscopic eyes.
I would certainly not hesitate in recommending the book. It is well written and is a good read. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Genre: Historical Fiction
Reviewer: John Harding

Summary: Well paced historical naval fiction set in the Southern Ocean in 1802. A good read with plenty of intrigue and mystery.
Pages: 224 Date: May 2010

Publisher: Robert Hale Ltd
ISBN: 978-0709090519