Monday, December 29, 2014

The Blood of the Fifth Knight- E.M. Powell ~ Get your copy now- links are posted!




 I did not read the first book so who was who was a bit of a catch up. Novelists can add characters and E.M Powell did so, in an interesting fashion. After I bumped my head on who Theodosia was, and was she actually a daughter of Henry II ( I copiously read about this family), I went on and enjoyed it.

"The Blood of the Fifth Knight is an intricate medieval murder mystery and a worthy follow-on to E.M. Powell’s acclaimed historical thriller The Fifth Knight." Cross genre actually, and energetic and exciting.

Sir Benedict Palmer, the tale goes is greatly esteemed by King Henry and rightly so. He is less enamored of Rosamund Clifford than we would imagine and that part was very entertaining, towers and fires and other younger men than Henry!

All does end well with some serious twists and turns which involves a putative sister of Benedict, Joan, who muddies the waters a lot. If you love medieval mysteries, this historical thriller will surely work!
The pre-order links are posted so get this one as soon as you can! 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Orphan Train - Christina Baker Kline ~ Must Read !

It was a great and historically accurate book, made all the more poignant by the fact that I have had DNA cousin matches who had been on one of the Orphan Trains out of New York. Donegal cousins as best as I can tell.

It was written as a novel but some of the experiences were drawn from a variety of train riders experiences.I am so fortunate that I knew my grandparents and lived in the same small town and did not leave New Jersey until I was 57, so this is not my story. 

"Well I was born in a small town
 And I can breathe in a small town
 Gonna die in this small town
 And that's prob'ly where they'll bury me " 

Over 200,000 children rode these orphan trains to the West or Mid West to a new life nad for sure many did not have good experiences. May all of these children now be in a better place where the sun is always shining.

Recommended to all, not just those who like accurate historical portraits,such is history! I got this book on my Kindle as a library download, thanks to Perquimans Library.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Eye of the Law - Cora Harrison ~ Possibly my favorite?

Is it possible that this is my favorite Burren mystery, or do I always say that? For sure this one was superb with visits by Mara and the King to the Aran Islands as well as Galway and just all over her neighborhood in the Burren.

Mara is expecting her son in this book and I know how all that will come out. Nula gets situated for her life here as does everyone, actually.

A very fine book with lots of the Brehon Law spelled out for us and a terrific mystery. If you have not read this one yet, you surely need to do so. Cora Harrison's Irish history as it relates to the Burren and Brehon law is always accurate. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Chaucer's Tale - 1386 and the Road to Canterbury

Paul Strohm is a fine historian and Medieval scholar with a wealth of information on Geoffrey Chaucer. I very much wanted to read this book via NetGalley and only received it yesterday with an archive date of today, so I rushed through the reading.

I very much enjoyed the first half of the book but the rest sort of lagged a bit. Was that the result of Chaucer's life and how it played out perhaps, or was it the writing? I must explore and add to what I do already know and what might be fanciful.

It was excellent in its depiction of what Medieval London was like, and even what Chaucer's grace and favor small lodging would have looked like. Less satisfactory was the flow of the material into more of a narrative. I could have just been rushed by the one day I had to read it, an oversight I hope.

Terrific endnote and references and grasp of the times. Recommended to Medievalists and Chaucer buffs. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Remarkable Creatures - Tracy Chevalier ~ Great read via my local library digital loan



A very fine book, by a celebrated author, that I enjoyed tremendously. I borrowed this one on my Kindle courtesy of Perquimans Library's participation in Overdrive. I am beyond thrilled by this endeavor on their part.

Tracy Chevalier is an author I have long admired and followed. This is an very fine historical novel that opened up new vistas for me. I knew very little, even next to nothing about fossils in the Jurassic era, although I am involved in exploring ancient DNA. My Masters degree was partly in Anthropology( Education) so perhaps I come by that interest naturally.

The Dorset Coast of England was the world's first natural World History site. Who knew? Apparently Tracy Chevalier, a fine historian as well as novelist. Mary Anning was a young girl from a working class but poor family in Lyme Regis when the Philpot sisters, spinsters, were gently relocated there by their brother prior to his marriage. Their mutual pastime, which became their life's work and calling, shed a light on prehistoric to a world that in the 1820s was unwilling to consider evolution.

The early 19th Century was also unwilling to consider female scientists, or females with any 
profession to speak of. Enter Mary Anning who found "monsters" and Elizabeth Philpot who found fossilized fish and changed history. This is their story and done in a masterful way.

Recommended for anyone who loves historical novels and good history of any type

















Monday, December 1, 2014

The Dragon of Handale - Hildegard of Meaux - Cassandra Clark ~ A unique medieval mystery

A series I follow, this is Abbess of Meaux Mystery #5( Now called Hildegard of Meaux) and Hildegard returned from pilgrimage to Compostela. She has been sent to a very remote priory, deep in the woods in the North of England after reporting into her own. Somewhere and somehow I missed one of her relationships, although she is not terribly Abbess-like at this point.

Towers in the woods, dragons and complex plotting and character changes abound here, as all good Medieval mysteries will have. For Mystery #6 will Hildegard or "Mistress York" as she is now called end up with Ulf? What will happen to his estranged wife and my goodness, what happens to the Abbott? 

A must read for historical mystery and medieval fans and followers of this versatile series.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Guide to DNA Testing - Richard Hill ~ Great beginning how to..

Excellent and clearly readable small book which is concise and enjoyable! I will be recommending this to beginners. Would be 5 stars except that AncestryDNA was not tested or really covered and that would have been helpful. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Last Runaway - Tracy Chevalier ~ Absorbing!

This book really took hold for me, not sure why but perhaps it was the immigrant experience and the idea of the strangeness of America. I think that Tracy Chevalier portrayed the "otherworldly" sense of coming to a new world in a superb fashion, and was able to slowly allow Honor to "feel" like she belonged at the ending.

The Underground Railroad experience was informational for me and was perhaps an "inside look"? I will try to do some more research on that as well as continue to read Chevalier's work, many of which I had read.

Recommended for anyone who enjoys a historical tale

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Claiming by Octavia Randolph ~ On to the Next Episode ~


A great beginning and happy ending should bode well for the sequel. Gotland in the Baltic will begin the next episode and I shall read that one also. I am hoping for Ceridwen's sake that life is a bit easier in the future - is happily ever after too much to ask for? 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cor Rotto - A Novel of Catherine Carey ~ Very fine first novel~ by Adrienne Dillard

A thoroughly enjoyable book on a very fascinating family line who have always been a bit mysterious in their paternal origins. Were Catherine and Henry Carey offspring of Henry VIII or was that even known at the time has been conjectured for centuries? 

This author and historian has a very good premise and follows that forward in a very engrossing and extremely readable fashion. Perhaps a bit more depth to their characters could have worked but Catherine and Francis were courtiers, after all, and kept their emotions in check.

I read it straight through and will look forward to the next offering by Adrienne Dillard. An excellent first novel, by a fine historian, about this important family whose history helps define the Tudor period.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Murder in the Queen's Wardrobe- Kathy Lynn Emerson ~ Preorder Now!

An Elizabethan spy thriller by a master mystery writer, Kathy Lynn Emerson. Preorder links are up now! A fast paced and complex mystery in multiple locations will hold your attention. If you love Tudor novels and mysteries then this one is for you. Recommended highly!

From the Publisher:
"London, 1582: Mistress Rosamond Jaffrey, a talented and well-educated woman of independent means, is recruited by Queen Elizabeth I’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, to be lady-in-waiting to Lady Mary, a cousin of the queen. With her talent in languages and knowledge of ciphers and codes, she will be integral to the spymaster as an intelligence gatherer, being able to get close to Lady Mary just at the time when she is being courted by Russia’s Ivan the Terrible. However, there are some nobles at court who will do anything they can to thwart such an alliance; and Rosamond soon realises the extent of the danger, when a prominent official is murdered and then an attempt is made on both her and Lady Mary’s lives. In her quest to protect her ward – and her estranged husband – Rosamond must put herself in mortal peril." 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Light in the Labyrinth - Wendy J. Dunn - Refreshing and poignant




 A really great read which did not seem like a young adult novel to me at all, it was full of detail and quite lively. The family of Mary Boleyn has always fascinated me and this one did as well. More books on this subject would be ideal and needed, I will look for Wendy Dunn's other one now.

Enough historians agree that Catherine Carey was in the Tower with Anne Boleyn at this period and surely Anne charged those she loved with allegiance to Elizabeth. The author's notes about her age and other details are relevant also.

This book is recommended for Tudor fans for another aspect of this saga, as well as historical fictions lovers.Very fine! 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Island of the Swans- Ciji Ware ~ wonderful re-issue!



"Re-issued in its original full length, this acclaimed and bestselling romantic historical novel by award-winning author Ciji Ware tells the true story of passionate and flamboyant Jane Maxwell, the 4th Duchess of Gordon (1749-1812)." 


A large but amazingly absorbing book which I have been eagerly reading since I downloaded it. Excellent historical facts and incredibly empathetic and engaging character development make this one of the best I have read in a long time.

My husband's family, interestingly enough came from the town of Huntley so the Gordons of Scotland were doubly intriguing to me.
Jane Maxwell did not have a boring life, although she endured some early childhood problems which encouraged some risky behaviors. 

Her father was a minor Baronet and her parents had an acrimonious relationship. Jane fell in love with a highlander who went to America and was reported to have been killed. Jane was so beautiful she was called "Bonnie Jennie of Monreith, the Flower of Galloway" in song, which surely gave some feeling of entitlement. She and her husband raised seven children during the years they lived together.

Her life was incredibly exciting, as were the times, and it is a must read for historical novel lovers.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Condemned to Death - A Sixteenth Century Burren Mystery ~ A favorite series~


 A Netgalley review not yet released for publication although the preorder link has posted. I adore the Burren mysteries and have read every single one but this one was surprising in its ending.

Mara, Brehon of the Burren is remorseful at the conclusion and I was startled and not a little bit sad. This: "When Mara, Brehon of the Burren, is summoned to the sandy beach of Fanore, on the western fringe of the kingdom of the Burren, she sees a sight that she has never witnessed before during her thirty years as law-enforcer and investigating magistrate..and gradually suspicion dawns that someone near and dear to her is involved in the murder". Hmmm, my Irish premonition or as my greats called it "the Sight" makes me think that the series will have changes.

Going to Cora Harrison's author page I find I was correct but I will keep it to myself. Suffice to say that this wonderful and truly historically correct in every way series will be continuing. I checked all these places out recently in Ireland. Spent part of a day at Bunratty Castle Verdict of the Court was set and chattered on about Turlough.

It is imperative that you start this series if you like Irish, Medieval or Historical Mysteries, or just a great read.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Circle of Fortune - Elizabeth Ashworth ~ Fine and well written

A very fine and well written book and sequel to Favored Beyond Fortune. Elizabeth Ashworth is an excellent writer and her research and detail of period is top shelf.

The demise of Edward II is treated somewhat differently than some novels I have read but it is well within historical possibility. The two books together were exciting and engrossing as was the love story of Alicia de Lacy and Eble le Strange.

I recommend them to those who enjoy this time period, which was immensely complicated and dangerously political, as well as a welcome change from the Tudors.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Favoured Beyond Fortune - Elizabeth Ashworth ~ A Terrific Read!


 I really enjoyed this book and have started on the sequel already, which says a lot. Elizabeth Ashworth has accurate historical and period details which always matter.

As I finished it I was wondering why there are so many Tudor historical books when this period is absolutely both fascinating and terrible. Alicia de Lacey's life and her times really should be explored and I am looking forward to doing just that. 

A terrific read, recommend it very much.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

An Honorable Estate - Elizabeth Ashworth ~ looking for more.~




 I really liked this one, enough to give it 4.5 stars and go look for others by Elizabeth Ashworth. I think it was a very good representation of what actually transpired in Mab's life and what a hard time it actually was. 

Was the kingdom that divided into fragments so that King Edward did not commit things in writing and share with his advisors? Probably that was the case so that all that time had elapsed. I knew nothing of the " year and a day" concept or that women got remarried and still had living husbands.

I definitely recommend this to history fans. A great read and one that had me up late to finish. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Murder in Murray Hill - Victoria Thompson ~ 16th Gaslight Mystery


When facing injustice, the residents of nineteenth-century New York City’s tenements turn to midwife Sarah Brandt and Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy to protect their rights. Now, as the Edgar® and Agatha Award–nominated series continues, the two must track down a cruel criminal preying on the hopes and dreams of innocent women…





One of the best so far, but then I always say that about these Gaslight Mysteries, having read every one! We are getting into a different mode for the next one I suspect, Frank will be a private investigator and Sarah will help him, possibly with Maeve as assistant.

We should look for a wedding in the next mystery, with a newly combined family. It is just like visiting old friends, with a mystery thrown in. The period detail is always excellent, with believable characters and a fast moving story.

Get your copy now..4.5 Stars!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Blood of the South- Alys Clare ~ Preorder this Aelf Fen mystery now!

How very exciting this new Aelf Fen books was! The Preorder link is posted so order your copy right now. Thanks Netgalley and Severn for letting me preview this one at this time for a review. I give it 5 stars.

When you read this: "When Lassair encounters a veiled noblewoman on the quay at Cambridge one morning.. she assumes involvement with her will be brief. She has no idea that the woman, alone but for her infant child, brings both mystery and peril. Then a devastating flood hits the fens..Lassair, in the company of a sheriff's officer, wonders..What?"


 How could you know how connected Lassair would be in all of this? If you read "Land of the Silver Dragon", you might just begin to suspect that Lassair's family of origin is expending. What ever happened to her Uncle who fled England after  the Battle of Hastings? What does South refer to and what is this we have learned about Iceland?

How do a baby boy, and Icelandic sea captain and a Norman sheriff's officer begin to bring astonishing changes to Aelf Fen? You really must find out, so glad that I did and cannot wait for the next book because all of my questions were not answered.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Fateful Day- A Libertus Mystery - Rosemary Rowe~ Preorder now!

" .. News arrives from Rome which will turn the lives, not only of Libertus and his family, but the whole Empire upside down ."


There is a great backstory here and the history and details of the era are very fine. Roman British Glevum ( Gloucester) is described as a retirement colonia and in this novel we find the military in control.The author indicates her endeavor for accuracy and I feel she succeeds, although the pace could be quicker, and would then merit 4 stars.

Libertus is checking on the estate of his patron Marcus daily and this particular evening finds things have gone very awry. A complicated set of circumstances has led to murders and mayhem which even extends to the household of Libertus.

As Libertus attempts to notify the proper persons, his status as a citizen is always in question. Apparently only clothing infer status in this time and place, and life is precarious.

I always enjoy these trips backward into Roman Britain and visits with Celtic Libertus are entertaining. Preorder links are posted for you to continue the adventure.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Book of Fires- Brother Athelstan #14 by Paul Doherty ~ Preorder Now!!

Book of Fires, aka The Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan #14, was very entertaining and enjoyable. Volume #13 had a bit too much murder, did the author read me review, for this one was a lot different. The priest solves a series of interconnected mysteries, both connected with Church and society.

Having only read a few of the 14 books, I particularly this time enjoyed the homey peeks at Athelstan's household. His friends also were quite well fleshed out and endeared all of them to me. I plan to get some more to read now.

The John of Gaunt era, and his problems with the common man  or "Upright Men", apparently permeated and infiltrated the entire land and very strata of society. Brother Athelstan, as pastor of a cohesive flock, has a warm and fatherly ( or perhaps brotherly) concern for his parishioners. He is highly esteemed by many, the Coroner most of all!

Read this mystery and learn about Greek Fire and how it came to be utilized in medieval England, and why. Also "Who is the terrifying Fire Bringer – and what does he want? Was Isolda really guilty of murder?" You will love this one!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Tudor Vendetta- C.W.Gortner ~ The Spymaster Chronicles

My first excursion into the Spymaster Chronicles was extremely enjoyable! I had a bit of a problem plunging into some of the adventure scenes, got a bit dizzy with that unevenness but everything turned out so very well.

Although it was my first read of the series, the intricate relationships between Elizabeth I and Brendan Prescott sorted them selves out quite satisfactorily. The complex nature of all the main characters is part of the storyline and apparently well developed. Still a bit perplexed as to how Mary of Suffolk had this son with a knight in her retinue but I need to go back and read the first two books. I encourage you to read all all three!

The(to me)jolts between adventure and tranquil scenes was a bit jarring to me so, although I really liked the book, I give it 4.5 stars.

Very happy that I was able to review this book via NetGalley by such a fine author.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sovereign of Stars- She King Book Three ~ L.M. Ironside

As usual, I was transported to a different time and place as Hatshepsut and Thutmose III continue will their dual reign. Senenmut and Ahmose's death brought great sorrow to Hatshepsut but she seemed to grow in wisdom though the years. Neferure, as in real life seems to disappear from sight after a grievous deed. Live!

The series will conclude with Book Four of The She-King in "The Bull of Min". Meet us there.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The King's Curse- Philippa Gregory~ Riveting!

A very important book about the Tudor era and one that is not usually dealt with.I could literally not read anything else until I finished this book. The King's Curse much more than held my attention, it was all encompassing regarding this particular family. 

Henry Tudor's Plantagenet relatives had been perceived by him, and his father, to be a threat to their reign due to their royal blood. Usually in a Tudor tale, one or even two victims are written about but not in this much detail. 

Margaret of York,or Margaret Pole as she was known, was the aunt of Henry VIII and first cousin to his mother. She, her children and her cousins undoubtedly were as or more royal as Henry and became, in his later years, target to his paranoia.

The question may be, did this family attempt to claim the throne and constantly conspire to wrest control of event in England? Or is the question really, with Henry VIII's increasing paranoia, why they did not in fact succeed?

Margaret Pole was executed at the age of 67 and later Beatified by the Catholic Church as having been martyred for her faith. Was it a religious issue or a family feud? It is a must read and the very best, in my opinion of the Cousins series. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Slave Graves- A River Sunday Murder Mystery ~ Thomas Hollyday


I appreciated being offered this book free at Amazon via my Upper Eastern Shore and Dorchester Maryland Facebook pages. Thanks Thomas Hollyday!

 In return I am blogging about it and sharing the blog on my usual sites and with my usual followers which are fairly numerous.

 I liked the history of the area a lot and feel the author has gotten that down well. The characters perhaps not as lively as I had hoped, nor was their dialogue. That being said, I usually read ancient and medieval history novels and mysteries. These characters were Vietnam era, of course like myself- Baby Boomer era and slightly before. Nothing wrong with that.

 I recommend it to those who want to explore the history of the Eastern Shore of the Delmarva 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Land of the Silver Dragon - An Alf Fen Mystery ~ Alys Clare






 I always like to return to the Fens and experience Lassair's adventures.I wonder how different the Fens are from the salt meadows that I am familiar with? 

Immediate post Conquest is an interesting time to explore historically, and Alys Clare is very adept at bringing that to life. Politics in England at that point in time even intrude in this very remote, inaccessible area.

Lassair learns through a series of scary adventures that her grandfather was from Iceland. Family secrets give way to violent intruders into their quiet Fenland community and her grandmother's resting place is disturbed.

Recommended for those who like Medieval history with their mysteries. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Court of Traitors - V.E. Lynne


The very best part of this book is that, despite the protagonists being fictitious,the danger and drama of the Tudor Court is clearly felt by the reader. Bridget Manning de Brett is not a historical person, but she responds exactly as others have done to the terribly stressful and often terrifying event of this era.

The ending puzzles me, perhaps leaving the way for yet another sequel? I really do hope so. I recommend this book to those who follow this time period in history. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A King's Ransom - Sharon Kay Penman

Of all the Plantagenet Kings, Richard's exploits consist of fighting and more fighting,that is just what the Lionheart was about. What made this book rise to 4.5 stars were the poignant scenes that included Eleanor. She was a loving mother and a vibrant and courageous woman, all the years of her life.

Sharon Kay Penman always has done a masterful job with the Plantagenets.This time, as she laid them to their final rest, was surely no exception. 

There is still John of course, but he has his own story to tell. Heartily recommended

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Crook and the Flail - The She King -Book Two ~ L.M Ironside


The second book in the series even better than the first one, how can that be? All I know is that I raced through it, putting other very good books aside.

Is it the Thutmosides that are so riveting or is it the author's vivid style of writing about them? Whatever it is I will grad the next one as soon as I am finished this review.

Hatshesput was awesome but no more awesome than her mother, Ahmose. Their life style choices, although contextual with the era were so modern, or is that the author's prose? Senenmut, the steward is also my hero, capable of any heroic act. His image with Nererure is enclosed in anticipation of the next book.

L.M.Ironside is an incredible storyteller and lovers of any era historical novel will adore this series. 



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Sekhmet Bed- The She-King Book One - L.M.Ironside ~ Thrilling!


From the Publisher

Is Ahmose's divine gift a blessing or a curse? 

 The second daughter of the Pharaoh, Ahmose has always dreamed of a quiet life as a priestess, serving Egypt's gods, ministering to the people of the Two Lands. But when the Pharaoh dies without an heir, she is given instead as Great Royal Wife to the new king – a soldier of common birth. For Ahmose is god-chosen, gifted with the ability to read dreams, and it is her connection to the gods which ensures the new Pharaoh his right to rule. 

 Ahmose's elder sister Mutnofret has been raised to expect the privileged station of Great Royal Wife; her rage at being displaced cannot be soothed. As Ahmose fights the currents of Egypt's politics and Mutnofret's vengeful anger, her youth and inexperience carry her beyond her depth and into the realm of sacrilege. 

 To right her wrongs and save Egypt from the gods' wrath, Ahmose must face her most visceral fear: bearing an heir. But the gods of Egypt are exacting, and even her sacrifice may not be enough to restore the Two Lands to safety. 


The Sekhmet Bed is the first volume of L. M. Ironside's series The She-King, a family saga of the Thutmosides, one of ancient Egypt's most fascinating royal families. Don't miss Book 2: The Crook and Flail.


 My Review

A wonderful book which I could barely put down for meals or to sleep. I immediately downloaded the sequel and am so very glad that there are two more in the series. Who really knew that ancient Egypt as a subject would be so enthralling, well apparently a whole lot of other readers.

Libbie Hawker and L.M.Ironside are the same person with different pen names, and apparently her historical prowess extends to other eras besides very ancient history. I am so thrilled and excited that I can access all of these books on Kindle Unlimited.

Let me tell you about Ahmose, second King's Daughter, mother of Hatshepsut, wife of King Thutmose the General-Pharoah. Is it exciting? Oh yes, and it is so accurate as to time and place. Actual place names, personal names and tribes are used, and the culture and atmosphere are the very finest.


The characters are so vibrant and memorable that I shall never forget them. Could I become an armchair Egyptologist, quite possibly ?!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Tale of Melkorka- A Novella - Octavia Randolph

As always, for me, the history that my favorite authors research and reveal to me are important.This novella made clear for me the ease in which one could reach Ireland from Iceland in the 10th century,importantly for my genetic studies.

Melkorka, the Slave-Princess, happily returned to her native Connacht in the end of this short story. She lived out her life with her son and her extended family and her abusers did not. That worked for me.

Thank you Octavia Randolph for this one. I so enjoyed it.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ceridwen of Kilton, Circle of Ceridwen - Octavia Randolph ~ Great Ones

Ceridwen of Kilton was a great sequel to the Circle of Ceridwen and I greatly enjoyed reading both.I hope that the next two in the series will be available on KindleUnlimited also so I can snatch them right up.

Pre Conquest England in the 9th century was important and pivotal,and the author shone a light on those times that seems plausible and believable, utilizing all available research.

The Anglo Saxon Chronicle says this for AD 878 "In the Easter of this year King Alfred with his little force raised a work at Athelney; from which he assailed the army, assisted by that part of Somersetshire which was nighest to it. Then the army gave him hostages with many oaths, that they would go out of his kingdom"

When I read the preface of the next volume, the invaders are puzzling. The Chronicle speaks of pirates the next year, was that them? I must try to obtain that volume.

Recommended to all lovers of Medieval and early Medieval history. 

The Norman Conquest - Marc Morris ~ "A Great and Terrible Time"

An extremely readable non-fiction that read almost like a novel, it was so entertaining. Marc Morris has meticulously researched and footnoted this fine book, although as a KindleUnlimited I would have to borrow again to utilize that feature.

The Norman invasion is important to many of us to better understand where our customs comes from. My maternal grandfather's family came with the Normans to England and then into Ireland by 1250, this book shone a light on that era for me. I understand why my Irish great grandfather came to New Jersey with a British Army pension, they apparently always "sold their swords".

An excellent book, as was "A Great and Terrible King" and I recommend both of them enthusiastically. My same ancestral family worked in the retinue of all the Norman Kings and I am entranced with these works.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I Am Livia - Cum Laude ~ Phyllis T. Smith

One of the first books on Kindle Unlimited and so glad I got it! Although I had 3 years of Latin in high school, I did not know Livia's story and vaguely remembered Caesar Augustus himself. I DO like books about Rome though, and enjoyed this one immensely.

Smith's characters were extremely well developed and likeable as were the descriptions of Rome in that time period. Roman houses mostly had partitions between the rooms off the Atrium, which if I knew I had forgotten. The picture to set the storyline in was drawn in a delightful fashion.

Caesar and Livia were just like any other couple in their interactions with their world and each other.A marvelously readable and gossipy kind of novel, written in Livia's voice. 

We start when Livia is a precocious 14 and her world begins to implode around her. An arranged marriage, the loss of her beloved father and then her comes this "beautiful"( her word) young man to complicate things. 

I recommend this fine novel for anyone who enjoys Ancient Roman novels or actually any novels about historical figures. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gods of Gold- Chris Nickson ~ PreOrder Now!

Gods of Gold instantly transports the reader to 19th century Leeds, with its atmosphere of grittiness and extremes of power and powerlessness. Detective Inspector Tom Harper makes his debut, as a champion of law and justice, however difficult such a task may be in the last decade in the 1800s.

Chris Nickson builds his novel by retelling his father's story of the proprietress of the Victoria in Sheepscar, a distant relative of theirs. Annabelle, who rose from maid to mistress is Tom Harper's fiancé in Nickson's tale.

In June 1890 Leeds is in crisis, with strikers and strikebreakers and the ever present criminal that preys on the misfortunes of others. A young girl, Martha is reported as missing by the beat officer but her mother is in prison and her petty criminal father first lies and later is found dead. 

Harper and his assistant,older veteran Billy Reed, are told that the polarizing strike is the only focus of the entire police force. Determined to find Martha, the two begin to realize that all the crises have common perpetrators, protected by the city's powerful.

Superb historical detail and depictions of time and place make this an irresistible choice of a historical police procedural. I recommend this book for anyone who likes a good mystery,historical or not. Be ready to read,the preorder links are posted. 

Summertime and the reading is easy ~ Reading Now





Between NetGalley,the new Kindle Unlimited I am test driving and  gift cards for my birthday my Reading Now list is huge.. Savoring these..

Gods of Gold by Chris Nickson is absolutely awesome but so is I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith, so I have alternated nights reading. "Gods" is a review book and riveting so I should finish tonight




Very good also is The Norman Conquest by Marc Morris, Ceridwen of Kilton by Octavia Randolph and The Girl In The Ice  by Jason Vail, each for different reasons.

Raining today so will do some daytime reading..

Juliet's Nurse - Lois Leveen ~ 14th Century Italy

This book was written as an attempt to understand why Shakespeare felt that Juliet's wet-nurse was so meaningful, that he devoted so much dialogue to her. Lois Leveen decided to explore the backstory that was so meaningful. First the scene needed to be reset to a harsh Verona and a harsher plague ridden and violent era.Violence, it seems, permeated every aspect of life in the 14th century Italy.

The story starts with a dramatic, terrifying and finally tragic birth scene that that allows the entry of Juliet's nurse into this upper class family. Quickly the bereaved Angelica takes the infant Juliet into her arms, her heart and her soul. Pietro, her husband, apparently arranges her position with the family priest and profits from the arrangement, while continuing to decry her absence.

The storyline of love and loss seems paramount, and the characters though true to their roles, are not engaging. A unique retelling of the Romeo and Juliet romance that is not at all romantic, but surely intricate and arresting. Juliet's Nurse is a testament to the survival of Angelica who remains resilient despite a life of sorrow. 

The Thief Taker - C.S. Quinn ~ Order Now!!

I am glad to know that Charlie Oakley's Thief Taker enterprise is thriving after this plague epidemic, as I hope to read a sequel. The writing was vivid and in some cases graphic, which I hope was specific to the plague and not Charlie's entire life, or he will not survive much longer.

Charlie grew up in a foundling home with his brother and in this episode comes close to finding his origins. A part of them was revealed, and a part of them was whisked away for further reading~ a good clue to further episodes. Charlie's love interest Maria fits nicely into his group of significant others who are well developed characters. So stay tuned.

Historical novel reading gives me great and readable insight into periods of time I wish to learn more about. Several of my ancestors came to the US in the 1640s, was it to escape such troubles? I definitely need to know more about this.

C.S.Quinn is a fine writer for this genre, which is probably adventure with a touch of horror. Definitely recommended for those that relish murder and thrills with their history. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ambition's Queen - A Novel of Tudor England~ V.E.Lynne



This was such and enjoyable book, although about a sad period of time, that I plan to now get the next one.  V.L.Lynne surely made the characters come alive and interact with each other in a believable fashion. The only downside for me was that Bridget Manning and her immediate circle were fictional but every other aspect was historically correct. What more can one ask, since it is not definite who accompanied Ann Boleyn to the tower?

 I am looking forward to seeing how Bridget Manning fares in her career and relationships in the next book.
It was an excellent representation of the last months of the life of Henry's second queen, whether or not Bridget was a historical personage. I liked her and the novel. Stay tuned!

Day of Vengeance: Dorothy Martin Investigates Murder in the Cathedral by Jeanne M.Dams


It was great to visit with Dorothy Martin and her husband Allan Nesbitt again, can it be the 15th time? Murder in the Cathedral takes us into a series of murders which starts when a candidate for bishop of their own Sherebury Cathedral is murdered in his home church.

 Dorothy is initially drawn into this event as Alan is part of a nationwide process for such ecclesiastical affairs, as well as being a retired detective. As a couple they have become well known for their investigative efforts, and this time is no different.

 What is different is that one death is collapsed on another like a deck of cards. Playing a part in this effort is their friend and neighbor Jane,her grandson Walter and his fiancĂ©. Walter is for a time in danger and being searched for by many in this complex but low keyed series of crimes.

 Sherebury is of course a made up place but is cozy and pretty and inviting, as are all of the 60 something characters that make this series so enjoyable. Recommended for mystery lovers of the cozy genre, so make sure that you preorder right now!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ride: A Novella by Octavia Randolph


So happy to have gotten this book on Amazon Unlimited and I enjoyed it tremendously. It was a decent length with all the additions by the author which included: a preface from Flores Historianum written before 1236, the novella itself, the historical Godiva, the legend of Godiva and the religious observances in The Ride and other very fine historical data by this excellent author.

I wish it was mine to keep, but that is not the way Amazon Unlimited is set up. I am going to reread it today, I enjoyed it so very much.
Recommended for all who enjoy reading about the Norman Conquest and the immediate periods before and afterwards.

Godiva, or Godgyfu, as the name was given in that time and her husband Leofric were pivotal in our knowledge of pre and post Conquest England

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Spider and the Stone- A Novel of Scotland's Black Douglas ~ Glen Craney



I needed to read up on Electric Scotland  so that I understood the Culdees, the Stone of Scone and other aspects of this important era and this book gave me a leg up on that. Everything I needed to know about the Black Douglas and did not know who to ask, and then some I learned or looked up while reading. What was  Scotland like in Jamie Douglas's childhood ? How about Isabel McDuff  and what was that story all about? Most importantly was the divisions between the Scottish clans at this time and what it meant to this era.

It was a marvelous book and I was moved to tears at the long and sad ending. Glen Craney did a very fine job of encapsulating the life of James Douglas in one volume.The vignettes of Isabella of France at the beginning and end set a very apt and  distinct historical tone.

Very moving also to me was the utter devotion of William Wallace, Robert Bruce and James Douglas to the Scottish homeland. Yes I saw Braveheart and knew about many things the Hammer of the Scots did at Berwick and other places.These interrelationships were different and far reaching  as I discovered as continued to read.

I learned so much from this book about Medieval Scotland which was why I close to read it and I would read it again for the marvelous prose.The relationships described  are unique to this novel but possible and even plausible since much about this time is undocumented. 

We do not know exactly either, how Isabel MacDuff exactly came into this story. Isabel, hearing that Robert Bruce, her cousin was being crowned King at Scone, after slaying John Comyn, her cousin by marriage at Greyfriars, got on a horse and rode to perform her family function as crowner of kings of Scotland. Isabel, the Countess of Buchan chooses patriotism for Scotland over sure disaster as a result.

I will not share it all with you, you must now get the book yourself and read about this time in history. I am so very happy that I received such an excellent book for a review from such an accomplished author.








Sunday, August 3, 2014

Royal Inheritance, A Secrets of the Tudor Courts Series ~ Kate Emerson

Audrey Malte was said to be a daughter of Henry VIII and the book was essentially about her and her family or origin. I liked that the characters were almost all historical people, one of my criteria, although the story could have been a bit livelier. I did not like that the term "merry-begot" was used instead of natural daughter or bastard for Audrey and others she knew so often, once or twice would have sufficed.

Kate Emerson's series is a favorite of mine and I will surely continue to read them. I recommend them to Tudor fans, some are more interesting than others but then so were their subjects, surely. This is the fifth one I have read but not to best one, but all are quite readable!

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Great and Terrible King -Edward I ~ Marc Morris


Today Marc Morris tweeted this from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: 'There his counsellors came to him, and all the people occupying land who were of any account all over England.’  'They all submitted to him, and became his men, and swore oaths of allegiance, that they would be loyal to him against all other men'

 I realized that before I started my book blog I read Marc's book " A Great and Terrible King" as it was important to me ancestrally. My ancestor(s) the L'enfaunts of Limerick and Kildare Ireland were household Knights in the retinue of the Norman Kings.

 It was fine book and I relished it. So today I am blogging, reviwing and ordering "The Norman Conquest"  from Amazon also.