Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Eleanor, Countess of Desmond - Anne Chambers ~ A fine history

Such an excellent book about the Civil Wars that tore England part with a fine history of the life of Eleanor Countess of Desmond. Eleanor Butler married "Garret Fitzgerald" the 15th Earl of Desmond and was almost immediately thrust into practically unimaginable circumstances. Circumstances that included, her rejection by the Fitzgeralds and her eventual estrangement with her own brother, and almost life long battles with the English crown.

Eleanor Butler was strong, aristocratic, educated and politically more savvy than her husband and she outlived most of her adversaries. She made a second marriage with Sir Donough O'Connor Sligo which had its good years, when possible during Ireland's war with England. She fared better with O'Connor than she had in her years with Desmond although the times did not allow many Irish nobility much comfort.

A true heroine of the most traumatic time for Ireland, Eleanor was resilient beyond belief and was a loyal wife and a resourceful and pragmatic mother. Anne Chambers has written a well researched and thoughtful history of Eleanor and her life and the times she lived in.

The period came alive for me in this book and I heartily recommend it for all serious Irish scholars and lovers of the history of this period. My own family suffered the same losses at this time and I learned a great deal in reading it.

Monday, May 26, 2014

HFVBT Presents Jenny Barden’s The Lost Duchess Virtual Tour & Book Blast, May 26-June 20

Paperback Publication Date: June 5, 2014
Ebury Press
Paperback; 448p
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An epic Elizabethan adventure with a thriller pace and a high tension love story that moves from the palaces of England to the savage wilderness of the New World.
Emme Fifield has fallen about as far as a gentlewoman can.
Once a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, her only hope of surviving the scandal that threatens to engulf her is to escape England for a fresh start in the new America where nobody has ever heard of the Duchess of Somerset.
Emme joins Kit Doonan’s rag-tag band of idealists, desperados and misfits bound for Virginia. But such a voyage will be far from easy and Emme finds her attraction to the mysterious Doonan inconvenient to say the least.
As for Kit, the handsome mariner has spent years imprisoned by the Spanish, and living as an outlaw with a band of escaped slaves; he has his own inner demons to confront, and his own dark secrets to keep…
Ever since Sir Walter Raleigh’s settlement in Virginia was abandoned in 1587 its fate has remained a mystery; ‘The Lost Duchess’ explores what might have happened to the ill-starred ‘Lost Colony’ of Roanoke.

Buy the Book

Amazon (AUS)
Amazon (UK)
Book Depository

About the Author

I’ve had a love of history and adventure ever since an encounter in infancy with a suit of armour at Tamworth Castle. Training as an artist, followed by a career as a city Jenny (Portrait 2)solicitor, did little to help displace my early dream of becoming a knight. A fascination with the Age of Discovery led to travels in South and Central America, and much of the inspiration for my debut came from retracing the footsteps of Francis Drake in Panama. The sequel centres on the first Elizabethan ‘lost colony’ of early Virginia. I am currently working on an epic adventure during the threat of invasion by the Spanish Armada.
My work has appeared in short story collections and anthologies and I’ve written for non-fiction publications including the Historical Novels Review. I am active in many organisations, having run the ‘Get Writing’ conferences for several years, and undertaken the co-ordination of the Historical Novel Society’s London Conference 2012. I am a member of that organisation as well as the Historical Writers’ Association, the Romantic Nevelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. I’ll be co-ordinating the RNA’s annual conference in 2014.
I have four children and now live on a farm in Dorset with my long suffering husband and an ever increasing assortment of animals.
I love travelling, art, reading and scrambling up hills and mountains (though I’m not so keen on coming down!).

Author Links

Jenny Barden’s Blog
English Historical Fiction Authors Blog

Also by Jenny Barden

Publication Date: June 20, 2013
Ebury Press
Formats: Paperback, Ebook
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Mistress Cooksley may be a wealthy merchant’s daughter, but she blushes at my words and meets my eyes look for look. Yet I cannot hope to court her without fortune, and a dalliance with a pretty maid will not hinder me from my path.
Captain Drake’s endeavour might bring me gold, but I, Will Doonan, will have my revenge.
The Spaniards captured my brother and have likely tortured and killed him. For God and St George, we’ll strike at the dogs and see justice done.
I thought I’d left Mistress Cooksley behind to gamble everything and follow Drake, and here she is playing the boy at the ends of the world. She’s a fool with a heart as brave as any man’s. Yet her presence here could be the ruin of us all…

Virtual Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, May 26
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Book Blast at Reading the Ages
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse
Book Blast at Bibliophilia, Please
Tuesday, May 27
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Book Blast at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at To Read or Not to Read
Wednesday, May 28
Review at Carole’s Ramblings and Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
Book Blast at The Little Reader Library
Thursday, May 29
Book Blast at The Maiden’s Court
Book Blast at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Book Blast at Book Reviews & More by Kathy
Friday, May 30
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer
Book Blast at Curling Up by the Fire
Saturday, May 31
Book Blast at From L.A. to LA
Book Blast at Gobs and Gobs of Books
Sunday, June 1
Book Blast at Lily Pond Reads
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time
Monday, June 2
Review & Giveaway at The Tudor Enthusiast
Book Blast at The Bookworm
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews
Tuesday, June 3
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Book Blast at West Metro Mommy
Book Blast at bookworm2bookworm’s Blog
Wednesday, June 4
Review at The Wormhole
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Book Blast at Kelsey’s Book Corner
Thursday, June 5
Book Blast at Books and Benches
Book Blast at Book Lovers Paradise
Friday, June 6
Interview at Dianne Ascroft Blog
Book Blast at Kincavel Korner
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes
Saturday, June 7
Book Blast at Royal Reviews
Book Blast at History Undressed
Sunday, June 8
Book Blast at Book Nerd
Monday, June 9
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Book Blast at The Musings of a Book Junkie
Tuesday, June 10
Review at She Reads Novels
Book Blast at Just One More Chapter
Book Blast at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Wednesday, June 11
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Book Blast at Books in the Burbs
Thursday, June 12
Book Blast at Big Book, Little Book
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Notebook
Friday, June 13
Review at Susan Heim on Writing
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Saturday, June 14
Book Blast at Hardcover Feedback
Book Blast at One Book at a Time
Sunday, June 15
Book Blast at Passages to the Past
Monday, June 16
Review at Layered Pages
Review at Starting Fresh
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, June 17
Review at The Lit Bitch
Book Blast at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Wednesday, June 18
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Thursday, June 19
Review at A Bookish Affair
Book Blast at Girl Lost in a Book
Friday, June 20
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Agincourt Bride (Catherine de Valois, #1) by Joanna Hickson

What a great book about Catherine of Valois, whose life was shrouded in mystery. The author did very fine research, with an engaging and believable storyline and sympathetic principal characters.

 Joanna Hickson has written a novel which facts that seem very accurate and plausible to me. I cannot wait for the sequel having already got a taste with the sample. How soon?

 The scenes and staging of France and England were very fine. The details of the battle of Agincourt were riveting. Recommended for any fans of this era and medieval history fans.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Summer Queen - Elizabeth Chadwick

So very sorry that I am finished this wonderful book, about my very favorite historical character, and written by a gifted writer and researcher. Alienor, as Chadwick chooses to refer to her citing her own charters, comes to life in a new way for me, which is very amazing as I thought I knew everything there was to know. 

It makes absolute sense to me that Geoffrey of Anjou would have been first to suggest or hint about a marriage of Henry to Eleanor as they were known to each other and were even related. They could, and probably did, have a discrete discussion about that possibility that Henry and Eleanor followed through with. Research shows that Henry consulted his vassals about that possibility several days after Louis and Alienor's annulment went through. Yes, it works that for years the possibility of that annulment ebbed and flowed, and was not a well kept secret.

Always it has seemed to me that Eleanor, married so young to an ineffective, erratic and reluctant husband and being very beautiful was attractive to men. Never did I think she had an affair with Her uncle Raymond or that she was an unfaithful wife. Geoffrey of Rancon or others like him surely were very attentive to her, and very surely she appreciated that fact.

Eleanor was a strong and resilient woman and Elizabeth Chadwick described her character, as well as Henry's in an extremely effective manner. I wholeheartedly recommend ordering this one right now!

About Elizabeth Chadwick

Best selling historical novelist Elizabeth Chadwick won a Betty Trask Award for her first novel The Wild Hunt. She has been shortlisted for the UK's mainstream Best Romantic Novel of the Year Award 4 times and longlisted twice. Her novel The Scarlet Lion about the great William Marshal and his wife Isabelle de Clare, has been selected by Richard Lee, founder of the Historical Novel Society as one of the landmark historical novels of the last ten years. 
When not at her desk, she can be found taking long walks with the dog, baking cakes, reading books (of course!) exploring ruins, listening to various brands of rock and metal music, and occasionally slaving over a steaming cauldron with re-enactment society Regia Anglorum. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Wolf and the Raven - Steven McKay ~ A New Spin

An enjoyable fast paced novel about Robin Hood and his battles in the Forest with his not always merry men. I am looking forward to the next two installments and have chatted with Steven McKay about more family time for Robin and Matilda and their young son.

A bit less mayhem would work for me, although I do know that was the name of their game. Some very endearing characters have not made it through this book so please, pretty please let the good guys stay healthy in the next one.

An enthusiastic and polished author indicates that the characters have dictated what will happen next. These selfsame characters have  moved a trilogy into a longer series. Works for me! I gave it 4.5 stars and will review the next outing also.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Benjamin Franklin's Bastard ~ A Novel~ Sally Cabot

I really enjoyed this book, and am happy  to have purchased it recently at a discount as I learned so much more about Franklin and his family. My first read by author Gunning surely will not be the last. A very good portrayal of the conflicts within groups, communities and families of loyalist and rebellion mindsets.

The known history was accurate and the characters seemed true to what is known of them, most of that unknown to me. At times the back story was a bit energetic with Anne making off with William as a child, but who really does know? The descriptions of life in early Philadelphia were quite awesome and added to my knowledge of how some of my ancestors lived.

Benjamin Franklin and his son were sympathetic figures as were some of the others when the circumstances of early Colonial times were spun out for the reader. Sally Cabot Gunning is a fine historian and storyteller. Recommended for anyone, not just historical novel fans.