Monday, February 24, 2014

China Jewel Review & Giveaway from Beck Valley Books

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Book Review 

China Jewel (River Sunday Romance Mysteries)

China Jewel
by Thomas Hollyday

Book Description
Media around the world cover an inspiring and beautiful ocean race as international tall ships once again sail the ancient tea trade route to China. Yet, beneath the bright sails hide evil and treachery as the competitors sabotage and even murder each other to win the billion dollar prize.

An American entry, the Peregrine, a replica of a famous Nineteenth Century clipper built in the same small Maryland shipyard, is tarnished by rumors. Claims are made that the original Peregrine was involved in criminal activities as well as the violent theft of a famous Chinese jewel and the brutal death of a young girl.

Jim Cutter, Peregrine race director and his friend professor Katy Marbury research the true story of the ship's past. They constantly risk their lives as they uncover a tale which may affect the future of modern China, all the time knowing they are targeted by an unseen enemy. 

Then far at sea, the Peregrine mysteriously disappears. Cutter must find and rescue the ship against impossible odds. Tough former soldier that he is, he must still conquer his recurring personal demon. His only son is aboard. He deserted his son once before and he fears he will fail him again.

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About the Author
Thomas Hollyday was born on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 1942.

Thomas Hollyday (1942-present) was born in Easton, Maryland. His father was an acclaimed photographer and his mother a brilliant teacher.  He grew up in the southern atmosphere of the Eastern Shore with its maritime and military heritage.  He studied writing with Elliott Coleman at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars and with C.Michael Curtis of the Atlantic Monthly.  He served with distinction in Vietnam and became a successful international businessman.  He also drew illustrations for national magazines and published maritime and Civil War history. 

He currently edits the Wet Their Whistles newsletter for animal water rights ( He draws the popular humorous Animal Viewpoint Cartoons for newspapers. He continues to please his fans with new novels in his River Sunday Romance Mysteries collection. In his fiction he describes his recurring theme that human settlers since prehistoric times in the Chesapeake region have left a mist of legend and history that permeates its modern stories with a certain compelling truth. 

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Our Review
Another excellent novel from a rising star of the literally world, the research and knowledge of the author shines through and uses his favourite place and characters from Chesapeake.

The story revolves around a international tall ships race, following an ancient tea trade route, where the boats have to be
replicas from the nineteenth century.

When the Americans start researching the history of their ship it takes them on a treasure hunt and they find it takes them on a journey into the old ships route and brings them into conflict with the Chinese authorities.

The author style of writing draws and enthralls the reader and you feel as if you are there experiencing all the emotions of all the characters in the situations they face.

The tension and suspense that the writer builds up to a crescendo is superb and the adventures and scenarios that are described are first class.

The intense relationships which are portrayed in the storyline are excellent and you can relate the feelings to moments in your own life.  This vibe you get brings the characters even more to life.

This novel has everything a reader needs, romance, thrills, excitement, treasure seeking and the building of relationships between father and son.  Another first rate account from one of my favourite authors and look forward to reviewing more of his books.

Our Rating

An excerpt from China Jewel: 

Out in the harbor more sails were let go from yardarms and dropped to fill
with wind. The crew adjusted the staysails and jibs to the early southeast
breeze. The square cloth slapped and grew taut with the braces and sheet lines.
As they provided thrust, the Peregrine, towering over the spectator boats,
sailed ahead. The outward tide added speed. The ship’s wake became a white curl
sliced upward by the curved sharp bow. The water raced along the black planks of
the hull and out from the sides of the deep canted rudder.
She moved towards the Chesapeake, past the town’s famous rock pile rising like a
tiny island in the harbor. The monument, constructed to honor the freed local
slaves after the Civil War, would normally have been the center of attraction
for tourists, but not today. All eyes were on this classic replica ship as it
passed on its port and starboard sides the sleek late Twentieth Century ocean
yachts. They were owned by observers from American, British, and French
competitor teams, as well as many smaller weekend cruisers and sloops. Overhead,
helicopters from Baltimore, photographing live video for the national and
overseas news, droned like big searching bees looking over the strange white and
black flower below.

In front of her a gray United States Navy guided missile frigate was
moored. Her ensign flew at the center masthead; a Sikorsky Seahawk helicopter
warmed up on her deck. The Assateague, a 110-footer from the Coast Guard, also
stood by. To her starboard, on shore, hundreds of white, tan, and black families
were standing in the backyards of their houses, silent as the ship heeled and
gathered speed. Next to them, craftsmen were clustered on the wooden and steel
railway of the shipyard or the tarpaper-covered roof of the long white
woodworking shed. Seamstresses who created the antique Peregrine cotton sails
stood on the town pier, their faces glowing. Here also the local high school
band belted out the state song “Maryland My Maryland.” With them a white-haired
choir from the Flying Tigers World War Two veterans club sang in harmony. All in
all, the birth of this ship was treated as a resurrection by the townspeople; a
rebirth of their heritage.

Morning shadows from the taller brick buildings spread over Cutter and the
other spectators. When the band stopped, they heard the commands of the mates
and the continuing cracks of sails filling with wind. The sailors climbed aloft,
letting go more cloth and shifting the great controlling lines that adjusted the

“Good party on the Peregrine deck last night,” said Jolly.
Cutter nodded. “The town newspaper editor said it’s the best Goddamned
thing that has ever happened to this town.”

He paused, then said, “You got us all set?”

Jolly leaned over and whispered, “The navigation people estimate her to log
two hundred twenty nautical miles a day.” The little man looked around
suspiciously at the other revelers, many of them competitors, here to learn
Peregrine race secrets.

“Keep at it,” Cutter said. “We need all the speed we can get.”

Writer Tom Hollyday always includes an animal in his novels. The creature serves as a non-speaking but thematic character. Check out this one from China Jewel, the albatross. 

Remember the warning from Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Read China Jewel to find out why the crew in the book named this beautiful ocean bird "Pancake".


3 Lucky winners will each a receive 

China Jewel ebook

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Ending on Sunday 16th March

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