Blog Tours

BLOG TOUR SPOTLIGHT!!! The Chronicles of Iona: Exile by Paula De Fougerolles

Image Description: The cover of The Chronicles of Iona: Exile has an excerpt from a map showing Iona and the surrounding area

Today I’m on The Write Reads blog tour for Paula de Fougerolles’s historical novel, The Chronicles of Iona: Exile; the first in her award-winning Chronicles of Iona series.

About the Book

The Chronicles of Iona: Exile tells the story of the Irish monk and Scottish warrior, Saint Columba and Aedan mac Gabran, who would band together to lay the foundation of the nation of Scotland.  They were a real-life 6th-century Merlin and King Arthur and their story has never been told.

The book begins in 563 A.D.  The Roman Empire is long gone, freeing the region of Scotland from the threat of imperial rule but opening it to chaos from warring tribes vying for control. Columba, a powerful abbot-prince, is exiled from Ireland to the pagan colony of Dal Riata on Scotland’s west coast for an act of violence. There he encounters Aedan, the down-and-out second son of the colony’s former king, slain by the Picts.

Together, this unlikely pair travels the breadth of a divided realm, each in search of his own kind of unity.  Their path is fraught with blood feuds, lost love, treachery, dark gods and monsters, but also with miracles and valour.  Beset on all sides, their only hope is to become allies—and to forge a daring alliance with the pagan Picts.

How Columba overcame exile and a crisis of faith to found the famous monastery of Iona (one of the greatest centres of learning in Dark Age Europe) and, from it, the Celtic Church in the British Isles; and how Aedan avenged his father’s death and became, against all odds, the progenitor of Scottish kings and the greatest warlord of his age, begins here.

For both, what begins as a personal imperative becomes a series of events that lead to the foundation of Iona and the kingdom of Scotland—events that literally change the world.

About the Author

Paula de Fougerolles has a doctorate from the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, University of Cambridge, and has taught and published in the field. She has lived and travelled extensively throughout Scotland and Ireland, including a prestigious year-long Thomas J. Watson Fellowship in which she criss-crossed Europe in search of the physical remains of the so-called Dark Age – research which ultimately led to this award-winning historical fiction series.

To learn more, visit www.pauladefougerolles.com.

Find Out More!

The Chronicles of Iona: Exile was named to “Kirkus Reviews'” Best of 2012 and a Silver Prize Winner in the 2012 “ForeWord Clarion” Book of the Year Awards, Historical Fiction. Readers on Goodreads have praised it as ‘a book that has everything you could want’ and ‘a MUST-READ for every history-loving reader’. Although I’m spotlighting the book today, this is a series that is definitely going on my To Be Read list – it sounds right up my historical-fiction-loving street and is set during a fascinating period of history.

The book is on tour with The Write Reads from today until 06 October 2021 so follow the hashtags #TheWriteReads #BlogTour and #TheChroniclesOfIona to follow along for more reviews and features!

You can also find out more about Paula’s work by following on her Twitter.

The Chronicles of Iona: Exile by Paula de Fougerelles is available to purchase in paperback and Kindle edition from Amazon. You can also read an extract from the book on Paula’s website, as well as find out more about the series and the inspiration, history, and research behind it.

My thanks go to The Write Reads for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour! There are lots of other reviews and spotlights on the tour so follow the hashtags #TheChroniclesOfIona #TheWriteReads and #BlogTour.

Reviews and features on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However if you enjoy the blog please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!

Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR!!! Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love anymore.

Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.

As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything–including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he’s only just met.

Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it’s that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love.

In the end, is love worth the risk?

My love for YA seems to be growing. Having dipped my toe in the water with The Inheritance Games and The Cousins – both mystery-thrillers (a genre that is very much my comfort zone), I decided to venture beyond comfort into the heady world of YA contemporary romance and give Nicola Yoon’s latest novel Instructions for Dancing a go. And I am so glad I did because I LOVED this book!

Instructions for Dancing tells the story of Evie – former avid romance reader and believer in true love. I say former because when the book opens, Evie is in the process of donating all her romance novels to the local Little Free Library. Ever since she walked in on her Dad kissing a woman who wasn’t her Mom, Evie’s stopped believing in love. Because what good is love if it ends up in heartbreak?

When her visit to the Little Free Library results in a mysterious meeting that ends up with Evie being able to see the outcome of various relationships, she becomes even more convinced of her theory. Love might be magnificent whilst lasts but no matter how bright it burns, it only ends in heartbreak – bitter break-ups, ruined friendships, and loneliness. However, when Evie pursues the other ‘gift’ that her mysterious benefactor has given her – a battered book called ‘Instructions for Dancing’ – she is forced to re-consider. The book leads her to the La Brea Dance Studio – and to her new dance partner X. Determined to live in the moment, and with a ‘say yes’ philosophy, could X be the antidote to Evie’s cynicism? Or is theirs also a love story that is doomed to have an unhappy ending?

I absolutely loved both Evie and X. As well as being perfect for each other, their chemistry is brilliantly conveyed on the page. Smart and snarky, Evie is a brilliant narrator – and her anger and bitterness is completely understandable given what has happened to her and the huge changes that have been wrought in her life as a result. X (short for Xavier) is also carrying hidden baggage – dealing with the loss of someone close to him and trying to figure out how to live his life and fulfil his dreams. They felt like real, fully rounded characters, and their romance felt natural and progressive rather than insta-love.

I also adored some of the supporting characters. The plotline with Evie and her relationship to her Mom and her Dad is really sensitively handled – redemptive without being twee is probably how I’d put it. And the dance school sections are an absolute scream – Evie and X’s instructor Fifi is definitely my favourite character and every scene with her in it had me laughing out loud at her dialogue (“No rocking side to side. You are not little teapot.”). I also really like Evie’s friends Martin, Cassidy, and Sophie.

Instructions for Dancing wholly captures what it is to be in your late teens – that feeling of being full of potential and ready to explore the world. But also of being scared of letting go the cherished things of your childhood, and the realisation that adult life – and adult emotions – may be much more complex than romance novels sometimes make out.

I laughed a lot reading it – and I also cried a bit too. No spoilers, but there are moments in this novel that will rip your heart out and stomp on it a bit so it might be a good idea to have some tissues handy, especially as you get towards the end. That said, the slight shift in tone didn’t feel out of place with the more light-hearted parts of the book. This is a novel that wears its comedy and its heartbreak side-by-side and, as such, celebrates life in all its wonderful, tragic, messy glory. I absolutely adored it – and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an uplifting book about the importance of living life to its fullest.

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon is published by Penguin and is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers including Hive, Bookshop.org, Waterstones, and Wordery.

If you can, please support a local indie bookshop by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green BookshopSam Read BooksellersBook-ishScarthin Books, and Berts Books

My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review, and to The Write Reads for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour! There are lots of other reviews and spotlights on the tour so follow the hashtags #InstructionsForDancing, #TheWriteReads and #UltimateBlog Tour for more reviews and content!

Reviews on The Shelf are free, honest, and unbiased and I don’t use affiliate links on my posts. However if you enjoy the blog please consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi!