Friday, September 15, 2017

The Maiden's Tale - Margaret Frazer.- Always wonderful

Loved this one by Margaret Frazer, who was a fine author, I thought I had read them all. 

Alice Chaucer, Countess of Suffolk is Dame Frevisse's cousin, and I am pulling out the Sister Frevisse books with Alice or her father to reread. Apparently this was not a reread or, if it was I do not remember it. Lady Jane de la Pole was the maiden, and was a real life character married to a yeoman, in addition to being Suffolk's cousin.

 Throw in two attempted murders of the Duke of Orleans, Lady Jane and others and you will have the gist of it. It was delightful!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Prophetic Queen - Matilde of Ringelheim - Well Done

A well done biographical tale of a queen who lived in a time we know little about. Matilda of Ringelheim, Saint Matida, was born around 895 in the Duchy of Saxony and married Henry the Fowler about 910.

Matilda was venerated because of her piety and her prophetic dreams.

Matilde and Heinrich were an improbable couple who shared a meaningful relationship in a time and place where that was more difficult. 

They ruled Germany together and Matilda assisted her husband with her insight.

I enjoyed the beginning immensely but it was long, and some of the dream sequences could have been shorter. Recommended to those who have great interest in medieval

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Murder in the Bowery, A Gaslight Mystery - Victoria Thompson - Get Book #20 now!!

I liked this one a lot, better than some and I have read them all. The plot line was excellent maybe until the end, the vigilante-type justice threw me a little. Frank,Sarah, Gino and even Maeve have perhaps given up on the judicial system dispensing deterrents on the wealthy, as Frank a former police officer would know of first hand.

The Bowery atmosphere and the historical facts that were actually happening make this a great read.This is book #20 and a new series written by Victoria Thompson will be out soon- I would get my cope of this well done book now!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Year Of The Gun - A WAPC Lottie Armstrong Mystery ~ PreOrder NOW and be ready - Enthralling ~

What a book, what an ending and whatta girl Lottie is! I did so hate for this one to end but I had to barge ahead to see what happened. It is always, always a pleasure to read Chris Nickson's mysteries in their unique settings. This one was enthralling.

In "The Year of the Gun",Lottie Armstrong, is recently rehired after two decades away, in the Women's Auxiliary Police Corps, WAPC for short.  She is again assistant, driver actually, to her former boss DCS McMillan, with whom she has kept in contact over those years. She is grateful that he sought her out, a widow who is nonetheless comfortable, although still numb from her husband's death.

It is February 1944 in Leeds and Lottie has been back three months and the war has not slowed down the underworld. Privations throughout England have caused  crime of all kinds to escalate, black markets and prostitution among them. American troops as well as  their own military occupied the same areas, for the most part without jostling.

Life then abruptly changes with a call to a murder scene, and those responding wore both police uniforms and army khaki.  A female military private was the victim, shot at close range with a US Army black market revolver. The next night is a repeat and then there is a third,unheard of crimes for that era.

Enter Captain Ellison and the US Army who add another dimension to  everything with different agendas and regulations. A possible romantic interest for Lottie  which was up and down while they fought to solve this desperate string of crimes. The ending was surprising for me, see what you think when you get your copy!

I am hoping against hope that there is another outing for Lottie. I so very much enjoyed the WWII  quite accurate historical atmosphere, that this  author always provides for his beloved Leeds.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Merchant's Tale- Ann Swinfen - Best one so far ~ Engrossing ~

My favorite outing of these characters so far.. the author continues to increase their depth, vitality and their exposure. I do love that they remain in the same group of friends and relatives so we do not have to relearn a lot. 

Peter Winchingham, merchant, is a new character and I hope a new volume is being worked on that includes him. I suspect it will be so, as he bought a manor in Leighton, Nicholas' home community not very far from Oxford.

The historical aspects of the St. Frideswide's fair and Priory are very important to me as a reader, as are all of Ann Swinfen's works. The inclusion of the Black Prince as a visitor to the Priory and Oxford was excellent. Does it presage more contacts between Nicholas and the Prince?

This one was wonderful and the newer characters I feel point to more outings for this group. A tremendously good read. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Cardinal's Court - A Hugh Mac Egan Mystery- Cora Harrison - Marvelous on so many levels~

Cora Harrison's novels are among my very favorite reads, for many reasons,including time, place , historical accuracy and characterization. This new Hugh Mac Egan mystery is no exception as it is a tale of an Irish Brehon, superimposed on the court of Henry VIII, a time where these worlds clashed.

Hugh Mac Egan of a Kilkenny Brehon family seems to be a Renaissance man and fits into both English and Irish culture. It was a fascinating glimpse at a world and time long gone, as well as coming into the Tudor court at an oblique angle.

It was a complicated and many faceted mystery ( think Earl of Ormond, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Cardinal Wolsey's Hampton Court) and of course had a surprise ending. Recommended to anyone at all. Marvelous.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Woman in the Shadows - Carol McGrath - Powerful and Groundbreaking ~ 5 Stars ~

"When beautiful cloth merchant’s daughter Elizabeth Williams is widowed at the age of twenty-two, she is determined to make herself a success in the business she has learned from her father. But there are those who oppose a woman making her own way in the world, and soon Elizabeth realizes she may have some powerful enemies – enemies who also know the truth about her late husband… 

Security – and happiness – comes when Elizabeth is introduced to kindly, ambitious merchant turned lawyer, Thomas Cromwell. Their marriage is one based on mutual love and respect…but it isn’t always easy being the wife of an influential, headstrong man in Henry VIII’s London. The city is filled with ruthless people and strange delights – and Elizabeth realizes she must adjust to the life she has chosen…or risk losing everything"

I have called this novel "powerful", and it was to me..and "groundbreaking" because few facts are available to the public about the wife of Thomas Cromwell, excepting for her name and her death date. Additionally, again for me, this family has not been "overdone" in fiction although the Tudors themselves perhaps have been.

I preface this review to say two things: one is that I received this ARC for a review and secondly, that I hope there is a sequel of some sorts ( Gregory Cromwell  and/or Richard Williams). This author's prior work that I am most familiar with, was a family series involving three book.

This evocative story begins with a preface, that shows how Elizabeth's life will be in 1526, then jumps to Part One, which is when she is widowed from Tom Williams. On that occasion she is reintroduced, as an adult with Thomas Cromwell ( who she may have met in childhood).

Carol McGrath,in her fine author note, indicates that any "inventions" are  a  novelist's prerogative, but emerge from facts which are in existence, from her historian perspective. She also handles "time jumps" adroitly and in a way that enhances the story.

It was very satisfying to me to be able to read about the Cromwells' life together, and to put flesh  on their bones, as the saying goes. It seems to have been a good life lived in very difficult times, poised as they were on a religious reformation with many societal norms being thrown asunder.

Many of  the associates and staff of Thomas Cromwell and "Lizzie", as she was called, had their life station rise as their employer's did. We do know that in these perilous times life was precarious. This family dared to challenge some norms and consequences occurred.

I recommend this book to all historical novel lovers as well as some Tudor fans, although Henry and his queens were only backdrops to how this story is told. Masterful!