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.

Blade of the Sumarai ~ Susan Spann

Hashtags: #BladeoftheSamuraiBlogTour #HFVBTBlogTour #HistNov #HistFic #HistoricalMystery
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @SusanSpann @MinotaurBooks
Publication Date: July 15, 2014
Minotaur Books
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Series: Shinobi Mystery
Genre: Historical Mystery
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June, 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori receives a pre-dawn visit from Kazu, a fellow shinobi working undercover at the shogunate. Hours before, the Shogun’s cousin, Saburo, was stabbed to death in the Shogun’s palace. The murder weapon: Kazu’s personal dagger. Kazu says he’s innocent, and begs for Hiro’s help, but his story gives Hiro reason to doubt the young shinobi’s claims.
When the Shogun summons Hiro and Father Mateo, the Jesuit priest under Hiro’s protection, to find the killer, Hiro finds himself forced to choose between friendship and personal honor.
The investigation reveals a plot to assassinate the Shogun and overthrow the ruling Ashikaga clan. With Lord Oda’s enemy forces approaching Kyoto, and the murderer poised to strike again, Hiro must use his assassin’s skills to reveal the killer’s identity and protect the Shogun at any cost. Kazu, now trapped in the city, still refuses to explain his whereabouts at the time of the murder. But a suspicious shogunate maid, Saburo’s wife, and the Shogun’s stable master also had reasons to want Saburo dead. With the Shogun demanding the murderer’s head before Lord Oda reaches the city, Hiro and Father Mateo must produce the killer in time … or die in his place.
Blade of the Samurai is a complex mystery that will transport readers to a thrilling and unforgettable adventure in 16th century Japan.
Book One of the Shinobi Mysteries series, Claws of the Cat, was released in 2013.

Praise for Blast of the Samurai

“The second Hiro Hattori mystery (after 2013’s Claws of the Cat) finds the sixteenth-century ninja—and unofficial investigator—presented with an interesting problem…A strong second entry in a very promising series.”—Booklist
“Hiro and Father Mateo’s second adventure (Claws of the Cat, 2013) combines enlightenment on 16th-century Japanese life with a sharp and well-integrated mystery.”—Kirkus Reveiws

Buy the Book

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Susan Spann is an excellent writer and clearly knows this specific era in 16th century Japan. It is always up to me to remember the hereditary occupations of the characters, a trick when reading on my kindle where flipping to the author's fine glossary. 

This mystery like the prior one was a very fine read. You will meet many new characters but only a few survived the multilayered mysteries that swirled around 16th century Kyoto. Our heroes and other characters got little sleep as they traveled back and forth to and from the shogunate. The weather, a vicious Akita and the cat Gato are elements that contribute to a sinister plot to overthrow the shogun

A satisfying ending, after many deaths, violence and intrigue, showed the Shinobi Hiro as well as his colleague,Father Mateo safe and healthy. New ties to the two newer characters who survived the fray tells me of a new series as does the statement "A warlord was a warlord after all", which referred to the NEW shogun.

 I received this from Netgalley for a review which will be posted August 1 on the HFVB Tour.See you then!

About the Author

Susan Spann acquired her love of books and reading during her preschool days in Santa Monica, California. As a child she read everything from National Geographic to Agatha Christie. In high school, she once turned a short-story assignment into a full-length fantasy novel (which, fortunately, will never see the light of day).

A yearning to experience different cultures sent Susan to Tufts University in Boston, where she immersed herself in the history and culture of China and Japan. After earning an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies, Susan diverted to law school. She returned to California to practice law, where her continuing love of books has led her to specialize in intellectual property, business and publishing contracts.

Susan’s interest in Japanese history, martial arts, and mystery inspired her to write the Shinobi Mystery series featuring Hiro Hattori, a sixteenth-century ninja who brings murderers to justice with the help of Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest. When not writing or representing clients, Susan enjoys traditional archery, martial arts, horseback riding, online gaming, and raising seahorses and rare corals in her highly distracting marine aquarium. Susan lives in Sacramento with her husband, son, three cats, one bird, and a multitude of assorted aquatic creatures.

For more information please visit Susan Spann’s website and blog.  You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.