Widdershins: 1600’s Witchcraft trails

Morning all, I hope you enjoy your weekend – I know I did! Lots of things have been going on in my life, so it’s nice to finally sit down and blog!

Today, I am part of the ‘Widdershins’ tour. Debut author Helen Steadman sees her novel Widdershins published this Saturday (July 1st), which uncovers the story of the Newcastle witch trials of the 1600’s, following apprentice healer Jane Chandler who uses herbs to cure the sick.


Was the Newcastle witch-finder the earliest example of local authority performance-related pay?

The common council of Newcastle, in perhaps the earliest incidence of local authority performance-related pay, is said to have paid the witch-finder twenty shillings per witch.

Things were just as grim down south, where Aldeburgh spent over one-seventh of its annual budget on witch-finding. They had to pay for the witchfinder general, Matthew Hopkins, and a special tax was put in place to raise money.

But it seems that either inflation set in, or prices rose further north. When the Scottish witch-finder fled Newcastle following the trials, John Wheeler stated that he went ‘went into Northumberland, to try women there, where he got of some three pound a-peece’.

Dr Fian engaged in necromancy (Source: Newes from Scotland)

According to John Wheeler, Henry Ogle a former MP seized him, but the witch-finder got away again, this time mostly likely back to his native Scotland. There is a record of him there being paid six pounds for ‘brodding ’ a woman called Margaret Denham at Burncastle near Lauder. In addition to this eye-watering fee, it seems Kincaid also charged a further four pounds for ‘meat and drink and wyne’. More worryingly, two men were also paid forty-five pounds for guarding Margaret Denham for a month. It seems that the witch-finding industry was a most profitable one. Not least, because Margaret Denham was a wealthy woman who had to pay for her own testing and execution, which still left sixty-five pounds following her death.

Sources
Hugo Arnot’s Criminal Trials, appendix, in J. Sands (1881) Sketches of Tranent in the Olden Time, Chapter 3 ‘Witchcraft, 1591’.
Ralph Gardiner (1849 [1655]) England’s Grievance Discovered in Relation to the Coal Trade. North Shields: Philipson and Hare. Ch. 53.
Newes from Scotland (1591) ‘Declaring the damnable life of Doctor Fian a notable sorcerer, who was burned at Edenbrough in Ianuarie last.’ London: William Wright (in Special Collection Ferguson Al-a.36 at Glasgow University).

Be sure to take a look at the previous stops on the tour – they’re fab’ hosts! My review of Widdershins will be on the blog soon!


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Blog Tour & Extract – Twister River by Siobhan MacDonald

Twisted River - Blog Tour

Happy Tuesday everyone, I hope you’re all having a good week so far 🙂 I’m super excited to be a part of the Twisted River blog tour! In this fun-packed post, you’ll be able to read an extract from the book, which will most definitely leave you wanting more!


Book Extract

Oscar
Curragower Falls, Limerick, Ireland
Late October

She would never have fit as neatly into the trunk of his own car. He presses two fingers against her beautiful neck. Just in case. No pulse. The blow was fatal. He looks at her one last time and closes the trunk.

Her blood is all over his hands. Oscar stares at the curious patterns forming on his pale skin. No latex gloves this time. He tries to think. In the cold he hardly moves, watching the tiny pearls of red slide down the coarse hairs to his wedding band. The burning in his stomach spreads upward to his chest. His control is slipping, his panicked breath forming small clouds in the dark. Oscar is in turmoil. From man to shivering animal in the space of three minutes.

Across the road, water rages over the falls. Oscar has felt like this before. It was a long time ago but the memory is vivid. In fourth grade, he punches Annabel Klein so hard in the stomach that she vomits. Another memory flashes before him. This time he’s standing over Birgitte, watching her die. Up the road, the church bells sound a mournful chime. What’s done is done.

There comes the sudden beat of wings. Looking up, Oscar sees an arrowhead of swans slicing through the night sky. A splutter of rain starts to fall, the drops making a tinkling sound on the plastic bags scattered at his feet. Shards of glass from a smashed jar of peanut butter mingle with exploded bags of popcorn. There’s a squashed banana— the flesh pulped from its skin— and a packet of brownie mix daubed in blood.

Should he look in the trunk of the car one more time to make sure?

He fumbles for the catch. It isn’t like his BMW. This is a VW sedan. The car they’d agonized in, attempting to sort things out. He’d so wanted to straighten things out. His fingers slip left and right, searching for the catch. The VW badge is smeared with blood. There it is. He squeezes with his thumb and forefinger.

“Dad?”

He freezes. He hadn’t seen the kids pick their way across the gravel.

“Elliot?”

His nine- year- old is shivering in pajamas in the driveway. Jess, his twelve- year- old daughter, is behind him.

“You’ve been gone a long time, Dad,” says Elliot.

It’s more a question than a statement.

Jess stands there, perplexed, eyes innocent and wide. He sees her scanning the debris of the grocery shopping all over the driveway. His children cannot know what just happened. They must be protected, no matter what. The roaring in his ears begins to build again. He wills his mouth into a smile, pulling his lips over his teeth. He hopes it looks convincing.

Jess’s face drains of color as she edges toward him. The sound in his ears is almost unbearable.

“What is it, Jess?”

He can see her mouth is moving. She is asking something.

“What did you say?” he shouts.

“Where’s Mom?” she shouts back.


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The Blurb

Kate and Mannix O’Brien and their children live beside Curragower Falls in Limerick, Ireland, in a house they love but can barely afford. What her family needs, Kate decides, is a vacation. So when she sees a beautiful Manhattan apartment on a house swap website, it seems like a dream come true.

Oscar and his wife, Hazel, live with their two children in a gorgeous apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. They too need a vacation, and Hazel has long wanted to take her children back to her native Limerick. The house swap seems like the perfect solution. But this is anything but an ideal vacation, and the discovery of a body is just the beginning.

Twisted River by Siobhán MacDonald is available now in eBook by Canelo.

Purchase on Amazon


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Book quote challenge: Day Three

Well, that was a quick challenge! Today is my last day of the ‘Book Quote Challenge’ and I’ve had lots of fun! I never expected it to be so difficult to find 9 book quotes to showcase to you all.

So here goes, it’s the last instalment:

“Being interesting isn’t important. But being happy is. As well as being a person you’re proud of.”

– The Manifesto of how to be interesting, Holly Bourne

“Exuberance is not a trait of which I’m overly fond. I am not that fond of enthusiasm either.” – The Art of Letting Go, Anna Bloom

“Shoot for the moon, even if you fail, you’ll land among the stars.” – Cecelia Ahern, P.S. I Love You

I’m not going to nominate just one person to participate, I open it to everyone! Get searching for them quotes.

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Book quote challenge: Day Two

I’m back for day two of the ‘Book quote challenge’.

If you’re unfamiliar with the challenge, you can find out all the details here.

Today’s quote selection is:

“We need never be ashamed of our tears.”

– Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

“He used to say that one man couldn’t change the world, but he was wrong, he changed her world, made it a better place.”

– The Perfect Daughter, Amanda Prowse

“Home is now behind you, the world is ahead.”

– The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

Today, I nominate:
– Lisa from Lisa Talks About


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Book quote challenge: Day One

Thank you to Donna at Chocolatenwaffles for the nomination. For the next three days, I’m going to be participating in the ‘Book quote challenge’.

The rules are:

– Post for three consecutive days
– Pick three quotes per day
– Challenge three different bloggers per day

So here goes…

“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear”

– The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

“You never really know a man, until you stand in his shoes, and walk around in them.”

– To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

“There are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t started wondering about yet.”

– James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl

Today, I nominate:
– Amanda from Chocolate Pages


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5 reasons why being a book blogger is great

5 reasons why being a book blogger is great?

I often get asked why I enjoy being a book blogger and most of the time, I say ‘it’s because it’s fun’. I suppose that’s not really a good enough reason, is it? So, I had a think, whilst drinking lots of tea, and decided on the following 5 reasons – I’m sure I could think of more, but 5 will do for now!

1. You get to read lots and lots of books
An obvious one, but it’s so good to be able to read lots of different books all of the time! I have to admit that your ‘to be read’ pile never decreases, but hey, who will complain at having to read lots of books? No one, that’s for sure!

belleandbooks

2. You’ll enjoy a variety of authors
I’ve discovered so many different authors through blogging and most of them I wouldn’t have known existed. The feeling when an author thanks you for reviewing their book is also another positive. I’ve had a few well-known authors tweet me recently and it’s felt amazing.

3. Connecting with publishers is great!
I thank my lucky stars that publishers send me books to read and review. I never started blogging to receive books, it was more to show my passion of reading, so when the postman delivers you goodies, it feels good.

4. The community is full of like-minded people who LOVE to talk books
Great, right? I’ve made some amazing friends from the community and the best thing of all, you can fangirl and squeal about all things book related. Big shout out to Lisa from >lisatalksabout.com for being a great book buddy!

fangirl

5. Your creative ability and imagination will be in full force
Your blog needs to be updated regularly, so you’ll definitely have to rack your brain for ideas! A notebook and pen will become your new best friend, it’ll contain all your thoughts for new posts and sketches for all blog images. Photoshop will be your go-to, you’ll love getting creative!

What things do you like about being a book blogger? let me know!


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