Book review: The Wounds of Time by SL Russell

The Wounds of Time is a stand-alone novel with a protagonist, Janet Clarke, first encountered in The Thorn of Truth by SL Russell. That second stand-alone novel is about a minor character from The Healing Knife which I reviewed here.. The earlier two books were published by Hodder, whereas The Wounds of Time is a KDP edition from Highstowe Books.

Cover of the Wounds of Time

I read a paperback copy, which I bought, rather than a Kindle e-book.

The Wounds of Time is set in 2017 with events of that year featuring strongly. It opens during Storm Doris. The book is well-written and well-researched. The story is gripping. I read it over a weekend. It contains much wisdom about relationships at work and in the family and reflects problems of the time. It is a story of redemption and reconciliation. For personal reasons I preferred the earlier books in the series and other books I have read by the same author. I know others have hailed this as SL Russell’s best book yet. It is her 9th novel.

There was a blog tour in March 2022 for The Wounds of Time allowing people to learn more about the book and the author. Participants (all members of the Association of Christian Writers like the author and myself) are listed below in no particular order.

Maressa Mortimer

Wendy H. Jones

Penelope Swithinbank interviewed SL Russell about her faith.

Liz Carter also interviewed SL Russell

CF Dunn

Deborah Jenkins

SC Skillman

Ruth Leigh interviewed SL Russell

Paul Trembling

I have read and reviewed two earlier books by SL Russell – A Shed in a Cucumber Field and A Vision of Locusts.

Book review: The Trials of Isabella M Smugge


I was invited to prepare this post as part of the blog tour for Ruth Leigh’s eagerly anticipated sequel to The Diary of Isabella M Smugge, which ended with a cliff-hanger. (My review of the Diary is here.) This post includes my review, the blurb, Ruth Leigh’s author bio and details of the blog tour. More information about these books about Isabella M Smugge, which are published by Instant Apostle, may be found on Ruth Leigh’s website. It is available from Waterstones and all the usual places books are sold. #ChooseBookshops

My review

Cover of The trials of Isabella M Smugge showing the silhouette of an expectant mother,

I received an advance reader copy (ARC) as a .pdf file on the understanding that I would post an honest review of The Trials of Isabella M Smugge. As I read it on my phone it took me longer than it would have taken to read a paperback copy. I finished it on the third day. Unusually I read one passage out loud to hubby – it was such a funny situation following some worrying news on Issy’s birthday.

The Trials of Isabella M Smugge is a continuation of her diary. Influenced by her new friends and having to work harder at home, she is aware that she is becoming a #betterperson. It is not a straightforward journey with a saintly Isabella emerging overnight. The events of a year or so include the arrival of two babies (hers and another in the extended family), school-gate interactions, dealing with difficult family members (and some pleasant ones), and other ongoing themes from the Diary. Do read that first if possible! However there are sufficient unobtrusive reminders about who everyone is and what has happened previously for The Trials to stand alone.

There is a generous scattering of hashtags as Isabella broadcasts her edited life on social media. Some hashtags are very long, #didntcomedownwiththelastshower, for example. I hope that in Book 3 she will have reached the point on her journey of transformation to a #BetterPerson, that she capitalises the words in her hashtags for the benefit of anyone using a screen-reader. (If her main platform is instagram, there may not be many visually impaired people, but some readers of the Kindle edition of the book might benefit from this.)

Ruth Leigh writes extremely well. She finds humour in absurd situations and deals with some serious topics. While the end of this second book does not leave the reader dangling in quite the same way as the first book, I am sure that Issy’s readers will be looking forward to more of her adventures in Book 3. I certainly am!

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Blurb for the Trials of Isabella M Smugge

Life in the country isn’t going as Issy Smugge planned it. However, the woman Gorgeous Home magazine once called ‘Britain’s Most Relatable Mum Designer’ is nothing if not resilient!

With an unexpected baby on the way, a good-for-nothing husband and a mother who never seemed to care but now needs caring for, her hands are full. Her venal agent and creative socials guru keep work fizzing, but how will she cope with the mysterious village snitch and poisonous gossip columnist Lavinia Harcourt?

Discovering others’ problems can be far worse than her own, she confronts bizarre church sub-culture and braces herself to use the NHS, rethinking all she thought she wanted. Could true happiness be just a few hashtags away?

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Ruth Leigh

Author bio

Ruth Leigh is a freelance writer, novelist and book reviewer. Married with three children, she is a recovering over-achiever.

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The blog tour

The blog tour is running from 11th October 2021 to 23rd October. The publication date is 21st October and the official launch is on 22nd October.

Dates and contributors’ names are listed below. Twitter usernames are provided where applicable. Links to the blog posts will be added as the blog tour proceeds.

Monday 11th October Wendy H Jones @WendyHJones
Tuesday 12th October Joy Margetts @JAMarge
Wednesday 13th October SC Skillman @scskillman
Thursday 14th October Susan Sanderson @suesconsideredt
Friday 15th October Maressa Mortimer
Saturday 16th October Julia Wilson
Sunday 17th October Penelope Swithinbank @minstriesbydsgn
Monday 18th October Martin Horton @Hortonious101
Tuesday 19th October Sheila Johnson @journojohnson
Wednesday 20th October Claire Wong @ClaireRWong
Thursday 21st October Ruth Leigh @Ruthleighwrites
Friday 22nd October Liz Manning @lifemadestuff
Saturday 23rd October Claire Musters @CMusters

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Beyond the Hills: Book review and author interview

Review copy

Contents of this post



My review

Interview with Maressa Mortimer

Bio of Maressa Mortimer

Blog tour schedule


This post is part of the blog tour for Beyond the Hills, which is being launched on 18 June 2021. In my review of Maressa Mortimer’s first book in The Elabi Chronicles, Walled City, I mentioned that I cared enough about the characters to want to read the next book. The opportunity to join the bog tour arose and I read the .pdf file of the book on my phone before a review copy arrived in the post! Beyond the Hills may be ordered from the author’s website or bookshops worldwide and will also be available as a Kindle edition.

The blurb

Macia Durus, daughter of the well known Brutus Durus AMP, works hard to achieve a life of honour and prestige in her beloved Elabi. When a so-called “friend” challenges her priorities, Macia’s confusion threatens her carefully constructed plans. And her decision to investigate a forbidden book could have serious consequences for Macia as well as her family, turning their lives upside down.

My review

The scene has changed from the end of Walled City and the main character of that book is a mostly invisible influence on this second instalment. Macia was a minor character in Walled City.

Much of the story is told through her thoughts and actions. The growing influence of the forbidden book and the consequences introduce excitement and suspense. The differences between life in Elabi (the Walled City) and beyond the hills are demonstrated well through the actions and words of characters.

There is hardly any recapping of the events from the first book. The social hierarchy and strange manners may be inferred from the narrative. However for maximum enjoyment and understanding, I recommend reading the books in order of publication.

Although I am not a film buff, I wondered whether this series would make a good film. It is exciting enough, although Macia’s thought-life might be difficult to include in a film.

What the forbidden book is may be gleaned from the text. It would also be possible for readers to access the parts referred to in the story.

Interview with Maressa Mortimer

I asked Maressa some questions about writing the series.

In Walled City Gax experiences culture shock. To what extent did you find British culture different from that in your native country, the Netherlands?

As time went on, I realised there were more and more differences, some subtle, some more obvious. My main struggle has always been missing the Dutch straight forwardness, as well as the speed at which things are done (like lovely smooth roads), although this comes with a lot of pressure as well. Because Dutch society is so efficient, everyone needs to be fast and efficient, so even working on the tills of a supermarket means you have to be very quick. Some people with learning difficulties can really struggle under the pressure.

Although you have created an imaginary world as the setting for The Elabi Chronicles some of the places there have similarities to our own world either at present or in the past. Were you influenced by other books you have read and did you have to do a lot of research?

I was completely new to world building, and simply designed a world that I would like to set a book in. For visuals, I used a world from Sims3, and I decided to make the food Roman (hence the garum and fish oils mentioned in the book, as well as other foods). I decided to have it set in the southern hemisphere, and thankfully, my editor is from Australia, so she corrected my timings!

Physical fitness is a requirement of citizens of Elabi. I wondered which sports you participated in as a youngster. Did you enjoy sport?

P.E. lessons in the Netherlands are mainly gymnastics and team sports. I did do a year of Taekwondo when in college. I used to cycle a lot, and went to Arnhem with friends, which was a 50 kilometre round trip.

When do you expect to publish the next volume in the series? Is it going to be a trilogy?

It will at least be a trilogy, with a book about Downstream. I have started plotting it already, but will probably make it my NaNoWriMo project!

(National Novel Writing Month is November.)


Maressa Mortimer is Dutch but lives in the beautiful Cotswolds, England with her husband and four (adopted) children. Her debut novel, Sapphire Beach, was published December 2019, and her first self published novel, Walled City, came out on December 5th 2020, followed by Viking Ferry, a novella. Beyond the Hills is the second book in The Elabi Chronicles, and will be released on June 18th 2021.

Maressa is a homeschool mum as well as a pastor’s wife, so her writing has to be done in the evening when peace and quiet descend on the house once more. She loves writing Christian fiction, as it’s a great way to explore faith in daily life.

June Blog/Book Tour Beyond the Hills Schedule

7th  Sophia Anyanwu

8th Lydia Jenkins

9th Patricia Leslie / @Patricialeslee (instagram)             

10th This post!

11th Katy Simpson Thrive With Live Video (Instagram)              

12th Tendayi  Olga              

Week 2

14th Victoria Kay (Instagram)

15th Claire Musters

16th Liz Carter and on the More Than Writers‘ blog         

17th Joy Margetts

18th Book Launch Facebook Live @Vicarioush.ome