Friday, March 28, 2014

Wolf’s Head~ Steven A. McKay

A delightful read which I give 4.75 stars and put aside other books to read right through ( hard for a reviewer to do).Perfection would have been the same time period that we usually find Robin Hood in and dialogue a bit more period appropriate. That said, McKay explained everything very well in his author's notes, which were excellent.

The upcoming book should be interesting given the ups and downs of King Edward's reign and his overthrow. Will the Outlaw band be out in the forest through all that turmoil? Will I miss King John and Richard the Lion Heart too much? I need to find out by reading The Wolf and the Raven due out on April 7th!

Recommended for all who like historical fiction which is action packed. I like a little bit more cozy so am hoping some of them get to settle down at last. Hop right on over to Amazon.com and get the sequel.


About the Author - Steven A. McKay

My first book, Wolf’s Head, is set in medieval England and is a fast-paced, violent retelling of the Robin Hood legends. I think my take on the theme is quite different to anything that’s been done before. It is available worldwide NOW on Kindle, and paperback from Amazon.

The second book in the trilogy is coming along nicely and should – all being well – be available not too long after Wolf’s Head…

http://stevenamckay.wordpress.com/

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Queen Elizabeth's Daughter - Anne Clinard Barnhill

I really did like this book, Anne Clinard Barnhill is great and the Shelton family are so interesting. A problem for me were that Madge Shelton and her cousin Anne Boleyn in At the Mercy of the Queen were more likeable,vivid characters, Queen Elizabeth not being a favorite for me. 

The dialogue that Elizabeth has with herself and/or Blanche Parry was a bit awkward, although I understand the need for Elizabeth to make her reasoning known to the reader. The appearance of those conversations may also be improved in the corrected version, not sure, but the prologue starts with such a conversation which puzzled me at first.

I knew nothing about the Sheltons' close connection to Anne Boleyn and enjoyed and appreciated the research involved in both books of these books. Learning about the entangled origins of nobles and royals is why I read books from these eras. I was not disappointed in this one.

 I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review and give it between 3-4 stars. I am looking forward to the next one, of course. Recommended to Tudor fans as well as historical mystery readers. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Julie Dewey’s One Thousand Porches Book Blast

HF Virtual Book Tours is thrilled to introduce you to author Julie Dewey’s historical novel One Thousand Porches!
A heart warming story about family, love, and perseverance, One Thousand Porches chronicles the lives of tuberculosis sufferers and their family members at a sanatarium in Sarnac Lake, NY. A beautiful story that is meant to inspire and uplift readers through the cast of characters that are genuinely kind human beings, readers have called One Thousand Porches “illuminating” and “historically significant”. Down the Kindle Ebook for FREE on March 20th!
In celebration of the release of One Thousand Porches we are giving away 2 paperback copies and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

One Thousand Porches
by Julie Dewey
Publication Date: November 1, 2013
CreateSpace
Formats: Ebook, Paperback
Set in the majestic yet untamed Adirondack Mountains of New York more than a century ago, an extraordinary story unfolds about a little known town called Saranac Lake.
The town is home to a man with a disease known as consumption, white plague, or as some called it, the red death. It is here that Doctor Edward Livingston Trudeau finds a hopeful cure for tuberculosis in the form of open air. Trudeau’s patients vary in age, gender, class, and race, but they have one thing in common. They must all choose to embrace life, even in the face of death, if they wish to heal at the Sanitarium.
Christine, a woman at the helm of her family, has already lost two children to the dreaded plague. But when her daughter, Collette, contracts the disease, she is determined to keep her alive. Venturing into unknown territory, Christine risks her own health and that of her unborn child, as well as her marriage, to help her daughter seek a cure that to many is absurd. Christine embarks upon a life-changing journey as she moves from caregiver to patient. In the face of adversity she must find the courage to sustain herself. When Lena, a factory worker and mother of three, begins coughing up blood she is faced with a decision no mother wants to make. She either stays with her family and risks her own death, or leaves her loved ones behind while she goes off in hope of a cure at the Sans. Big Joe, once a strong man for a traveling circus, seeks a quiet place to live out his final days in hiding. When he is sent to the Sanitarium, he is terrified to learn he will be housed with fellow circus performers for he is a hunted man. Gaunt and thin, he can only hope no one from his past recognizes him in his current state. Little Amy, a six year old child, must care for her entire family of seven, all whom are afflicted with different forms of plague. When she is diagnosed with a very rare form herself, she is sent to the Sanitarium and put under the care of Dr. Trudeau. Alone and afraid, Amy faces her fears and allows herself to dream of a future.
With a cast of characters so vivid, One Thousand Porches is a heart warming and engaging story that will instill hope and faith in even the most pessimistic reader.

Read an excerpt

Chapter 1 Pittsford, NY 1885
The sputum most likely crossed the hearth of our large country estate in Pittsford, New York on the scalloped hem of my favorite green velvet dress.  The flattering ensemble with the well fitted bodice and bustle below my waist in the back.  I was told this by my husband, James Lyndon, who made me watch while he set the garment to burn in our grate, the embers coursed thru the fabric destroying the residue left from a lungers hacking.
Consumption was a poor man’s disease, it was inconceivable that it gained entry into our pristine home miles outside the village by any other means. James had no one else to hold responsible for his son’s suffering so the burden of blame was mine in his eyes.  I had ventured into town for groceries and fabric, as well as lunch with the ladies several times over the course of the month.  I dare not remind my husband, but he ventured far more places than I did.
My husband could not bear witness as his sons flesh was consumed, his lungs gurgling and dissolving as he gasped and choked for air.   All Henry’s strength and will were sapped from his body as he withered away in isolation.  His soul leaving us for heaven mere weeks before his 18th birthday celebration this October.  I was given no choice but to accept the guilt that Henry would never attend college, or marry and have children.  James placed the blame squarely upon my shoulders and defiantly closed me out from our bedroom and from his affections, punishing me for the death of our first born son.
Typically solid and stoic to a fault, James became maniacal for a short time immediately following Henry’s death.  Frenzied, he set off on a tirade where he emptied gown after gown from my closet along with dress coats, shoes, scarves and gloves, immersing them all in the raging blaze to be destroyed. James wasted no time, and stormed through the house ripping sheets and pillowcases off beds, kitchen aprons from hooks and even the old fraying rags under our sink that we stored for cleaning, were all set to burn.
“James, I beg of you, you cannot burn our entire wardrobes, we will have nothing left!”  I screamed in a panic, trying to get through to him, but knew I could not be heard for his empty eyes did not meet mine but instead flickered across the house, leaping from object to object  in search of anything else he missed, telling me in short, he was momentarily insane.
Amidst my pain and suffering I took great measures to prevent the bacteria from infecting the rest of us, beginning with scouring the house daily to an immaculate state until my fingers cracked and bled.  In the evenings my gentle daughters slathered my hands, one finger at a time, with petroleum jelly and wrapped them in strips of cotton in order to heal.   All of my remaining  dressing gowns, the ones set aside to be tailored that James missed as he ransacked the place, as well as Collette’s and Emma Darlings were hemmed to mid-calf so as not to risk contact with the ground. Lucas and Daniel, our two remaining boys wore trousers that did not drag but I feared the disease  and their fathers instability so intensely now that I made them take off their shoes on the porch and wipe the soles with rags dipped in boiling water the moment they got home from school. Then the rags were burned in our outdoor fire pit.
We were told the disease could lay dormant for months or years even, causing even more panic, and so the fires raged and our old shifts were ripped to make rags to use for boiling and cleaning purposes.
The disease known as consumption, white plague, the red death, or tuberculosis was especially harmful to anyone with an already compromised immune system, such as our Collette with her weakling lungs.  It was spreading like wildfire across the nation and was being touted as the most fatal disease known to man, far surpassing typhoid and scarlet fever in its death toll.  Taking nearly one in every seven Americans or four hundred souls daily.  It took no prejudice in who it afflicted either.  The elderly as well as children, men and women, black and white, poor and wealthy were disposed of but most often it was young adult males in the prime of their life, like our Henry, falling prey.
Doctors were perplexed by the spread of the disease, some believed it was developed based on the patient’s constitution, either physiologically or psychologically and therefore didn’t believe it could be spread.  Along the same lines other scientists and researchers believed it to be hereditary and therefore took no precautions against it.  Still others thought it was airborne spread from spitting, coughing, laughing, sneezing, and even talking.  It was thought it could also be transferred from bodily fluids such as pus and bowel discharge.  Doctors encouraged everything from wearing beards for the men to prevent the germ from entering their orifices, to eating nothing but diets rich in meat and dairy.
“I tell you Christine, this disease is contagious.  We must be vigilant over our hand washing, and we shall each bathe nightly in separate water.” James spoke to me through his fog of grief.

Praise for One Thousand Porches

“I greatly enjoyed the time I spent reading this book. Historically significant as well as heartwarming, One Thousand Porches is an engaging tale of family, friendship, hope and perseverance in the shadow of uncertainty.” – Erin, Flashlight Commentary Blog
“This novel was fascinating. Of course I know of TB but to hear the history behind what Dr. Trudeau did for so many is remarkable. I think anyone interested in history and especially the history of TB and the development of the first sanitariums should enjoy this novel. I’ve read one other of Julie’s books and I find her writing to be very frank and real. I look forward to seeing what subject Julie tackles next!” – Dar, Peeking Between the Pages Blog
“One Thousand Porches is such a treasure. I learned so much about tuberculosis through the intertwined lives of Christine, Joe, Collete, Will, Amy, Daniel, and, of course, Edward Trudeau. Such inspiring lives these characters show us. As we advance in the 21st century, we can learn so much from those who lived, learned and loved over a hundred years ago. Thank you, Julie, for another illuminating look back in history.” – Cindy Gorham-Crevelling
“Julie Dewey loves history…that is clear!!! And, as in her first book about the orphan trains of old, she has again chosen to write about a time in our past that few remember. She writes about tuberculosis, and shows us that TB did not discriminate! She introduces us to a cast of characters from all walks of life, from the very wealthy, the poor and indigent, to everything in between. This is a warm story about people making the best of their circumstances after they are torn away from their homes and families!! Because I live in New York state, I was particularly intrigued. I feel a visit to Saranac Lake and surrounding areas need to be on my “bucket list”! I also love that Julie Dewey wove her own personal history into the story, with the introduction of LENA!!! As per her dedication, Lena was her great Grandmother!!!” – Dr Michael A. Radz

Buy the Book

Amazon (eBook)
Amazon (Paperback)
Amazon UK (ebook)
Amazon UK (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

About the AuthorJulie Dewey

Julie Dewey is a novelist who resides with her family in Central New York. Her daughter is a singer/songwriter, and her son is a boxer. Her husband is an all-around hard working, fantastic guy with gorgeous blue eyes that had her falling for him the moment they met.
In addition to researching and writing she is an avid reader. She is also passionate about jewelry design and gemstones. She loves anything creative, whether it be knitting, stamping, scrapping, decoupaging, working with metal, or decorating.
Visit her at www.juliedewey.com to get your reading guide for this book and to read an excerpt from Forgetting Tabitha, the Story of an Orphan Train Rider.

Author Links

Website
Facebook
Goodreads
Join Julie Dewey’s Fan Club.

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, March 17
Historical Tapestry
Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, March 18
Layered Pages
Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, March 19
West Metro Mommy
Turning the Pages
Thursday, March 20
Reading the Ages
Passages to the Past
Friday, March 21
Pages of Comfort
To Read or Not to Read
Saturday, March 22
Book Nerd
Reviews by Molly
Sunday, March 23
Carpe Librum
Books in the Burbs
Monday, March 24
A Bookish Affair
Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Tuesday, March 25
Peeking Between the Pages
Historical Fiction Obsession
Wednesday, March 26
CelticLady’s Reviews
So Many Books, So Little Time
Thursday, March 27
Closed the Cover
HF Book Muse-News
Friday, March 28
Broken Teepee
A Bookish Libraria

Giveaway

To enter to win one of the following prizes, please complete the Rafflecopter form below.
2 – Paperback copies of One Thousand Porches
1 – $25 Amazon Gift Card
Giveaway will run from March 17-28. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on March 29 and notifiied via email.
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra ~ Available for Pre-order ~


The Romanov Sisters was a very timely book to read as the Crimean crisis is unfolding daily on the news. I was gratified to receive the book from NetGalley for a review and put others books aside in the interest of understanding more about events occurring now. That is why I read books, for understanding of things I have not personally experienced.

Helen Rappaport is an incredibly comprehensive historian, at least of Russian history. There was a great deal that I did not know or understand about the Russian Revolution and was quite glad of the footnotes and author notes.

My heart is heavy today, as I knew it would be, about this family's demise and the terrible circumstances of their ending. I have read other books about their last days but this seemed different, given we knew a great deal about them from their diaries and writings of others.That so many of those others did not survive makes the tale even more stark.

There were a few things I looked up for clarification, although quite possibly they were somewhere in the text. Who White Russians were exactly and why they also would be fleeing to exiting the country through Siberia was puzzling, as well as who and why Vasily Yakovlev was delegated to send them to Ekaterinburg from Tobolsk. I need to learn more it seems.

I was pleased with the Author's Note in the preface which indicated the "rigorous scientific analysis and DNA testing".As an avid Genetic Genealogy researcher, that part was necessary for me to enjoy the book. This day and age makes that a necessity for real history.

This book introduced me to the "real" Romanovs, to the Grand Duchesses as babies and children, what their place was in society, and what they might have achieved if their parents had been more skillful in their roles in life. The Russian Revolution was a tragedy but I feel these girls were unnecessary victims through their whole lives of inadequate parenting by parents ill equipped for any of their roles.

I heartily recommend this book to royalists, history lovers and those who seek to know more about the world stage. My own intention is for further reading about this era which illustrates some things about present day Russia. I have a grandparent who seems to have had some Yakut roots being from a Norwegian town on the Russian border where many Saami still live and this author has illustrated her knowledge of the culture.

                                                                
                                                                  
Born in Bromley, England, Helen Rappaport studied Russian at Leeds University but
ill-advisedly rejected suggestions of a career in the Foreign Office and opted for the acting profession. After appearing on British TV and in films until the early 1990s she abandoned acting and embraced her second love - history and with it the insecurities of a writer’s life.

She started out contributing to biographical and historical reference works for publishers such as Cassell, Reader’s Digest, and Oxford University Press. Between 1999 and 2003 she wrote three books back-to-back for a leading US reference publisher: Joseph Stalin: A Biographical Companion, the award-winning An Encyclopedia of Women Social Reformers and Queen Victoria: A Biographical Companion. Her first trade title was No Place for Ladies: The Untold Story of Women in the Crimean War ( Aurum press, 2007 ). She followed this with Ekaterinburg: The Last Days of the Romanovs (Hutchinson 2008), which became a best seller in the USA, published by St.Martin’s Press as The Last days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at 
Ekaterinburg

A passionate Victorianist and Russianist, Helen is a member of Equity, the Victorian Society, the Society of Genealogists , the Society of Authors, The Biographers’ Club, and Writers in Oxford.  

 http://www.helenrappaport.com/

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Queen Elizabeth's Daughter - Publication Day!

TODAY is the publication date for this great book.. I just received it yesterday from NetGalley and started it last night. Barnhill is a favorite author and this book has pushed others out of my "reading now" list.



Anne Clinard Barnhill

Author profile


website


About this author

Anne Cli­nard Barn­hill has been writ­ing or dream­ing of writ­ing for most of her life. For the past twenty years, she has pub­lished arti­cles, book and the­ater reviews, poetry, and short sto­ries. Her first book, AT HOME IN THE LAND OF OZ, recalls what it was like grow­ing up with an autis­tic sis­ter. Her work has won var­i­ous awards and grants. Barn­hill holds an M.F.A. in Cre­ative Writ­ing from the Uni­ver­sity of North Car­olina at Wilm­ing­ton. Besides writ­ing, Barn­hill also enjoys teach­ing, con­duct­ing writ­ing work­shops, and facil­i­tat­ing sem­i­nars to enhance cre­ativ­ity. She loves spend­ing time with her three grown sons and their fam­i­lies. For fun, she and her hus­band of thirty years, Frank, take long walks and play bridge. In rare moments, they dance.(less)







Monday, March 17, 2014

The Eagle and the Swan ~ Justinian and Theodora



I received "The Eagle and the Swan" for review purposes, after reading a sample which I really liked. The book, like the lives of Justinian and Theodora, had it's ups and downs. Possibly a bit too many details of Theodora prior "occupation",but it does explain the narrator Fabianus. All in all I like it a lot and will look forward to the sequel.

A well written and researched tale of two important persons in the last days of the Roman Empire. Justinian, sometimes called the "Great" was born into a Latin speaking peasant family in what is now Serbia. All of that information was delightful. It is a era I like a lot.

Justinian's judicial reforms have importance today, especially his protection of women who were abused. Surely that speaks to his marriage to Theodora and why Fabianus told her story in the book.
Hopefully in the next volume we will hear more of Justinian's voice.

Recommended for ancient history fans as well as those of us who really enjoy stories of Roman life. 








Tour Hashtag: #EagleandtheSwanTour

Publication Date: November 7, 2013
Erudition Digital
eBook
ASIN: B00GIR54MI
For 1,500 years she has been cruelly maligned by history. Labelled as corrupt, immoral and sexually depraved by the sixth-century historian Procopius in his notorious Secret History, the Byzantine Empress Theodora was condemned to be judged a degenerate harlot by posterity. Until now. Due to a conviction that its contents would only be understood by generations of the distant future, a manuscript that has remained unopened for a millennium and a half is about to set the record straight. It will unravel the deepest secrets of a captivating and charismatic courtesan, her unlikely romance with an Emperor, and her rise to power and influence that would outshine even Cleopatra. This historical novel traces the love affairs, travails, machinations, scandals and triumphs of a cast of real characters who inhabit an Empire at its glorious and fragile peak. It’s the tale of a dazzling civilization in its Golden Age; one which, despite plague, earthquakes and marauding Huns, would lay the foundation for modern Europe as we know it.

Listen to an interview with Carol Strickland

Praise for The Eagle and the Swan

“It’s a book rife with detail and passion. If you like historical fiction this book hits on all cylinders. The level of detail in terms of prose and historical relevance is engaging. And THEN the plot is what’s moving. The love and lust combined with a compelling story, taking on universal themes from a cross section of history, makes for a gripping work.”
“Carol Strickland has written a masterful epic. It is beautifully crafted and impossible to put down.”
“Beautiful storytelling. Fascinating and well-developed characters. What an interesting time in history! This book was thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. The Eagle and the Swan is a must-read!”

Buy the eBook

Amazon

About the Author




Carol Strickland is an art and architecture critic, prize-winning screenwriter, and journalist who’s contributed to The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Art in America magazine. A Ph.D. in literature and former writing professor, she’s author of The Annotated Mona Lisa: A Crash Course in the History of Art from Prehistoric to Post-Modern (which has sold more than 400,000 copies in multiple editions and translations), The Annotated Arch: A Crash Course in the History of Architecture, The Illustrated Timeline of Art History, The Illustrated Timeline of Western Literature, and monographs on individual artists.
While writing on masterpieces of Byzantine art (glorious mosaics in Ravenna, Italy featuring Theodora and Justinian and the monumental Hagia Sophia basilica in Istanbul built by Justinian), Strickland became fascinated by the woman who began life as a swan dancer and her husband, an ex-swineherd.
Knowing how maligned they were by the official historian of their era Procopius, who wrote a slanderous “Secret History” vilifying them, Strickland decided to let the audacious Theodora tell her story. She emerges not just as the bear-keeper’s daughter and a former prostitute who ensnared the man who became emperor, but as a courageous crusader against the abuse of women, children, and free-thinkers.

Author Links

Author Website Book Website Facebook Page Twitter Pinterest

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Thursday, March 13
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Monday, March 17
Review at Reading the Ages

Wednesday, March 19
Review at Unabridged Chick

Thursday, March 20
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Monday, March 24
Interview & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, March 25
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, March 26
Guest Post at Kelsey’s Book Corner

Monday, March 31
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, April 2
Review at Book Drunkard

Friday, April 4
Review at Just One More Chapter

Monday, April 7
Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession

Wednesday, April 9
Review & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Thursday, April 10
Review & Giveaway at Curling Up By the Fire

Friday, April 11
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, April 14
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Tuesday, April 15
Guest Post & Giveaway at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, April 16
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Thursday, April 17
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Hild ~ Nicola Griffith

St.Hilda is a favorite of mine, as is the 7th century. The Venerable Bede said about her "Her life on earth fell into two equal parts: for she spent thirty-three years most nobly on secular occupations, and dedicated the ensuing thirty-three even more nobly to our Lord in the monastic life." 

The Anglo Saxon Chronicle gives her death in 680.." and the same year died Hilda, Abbess of Whitby and her baptism in 627 at the age of 13 "This year, at Easter, Paulinus baptized Edwin king of the Northumbrians, with his people".

Historically that is all we know about her and Nicola Griffith has written a beautiful novel to fill in the gaps. Hilda or Hild does not enter the church until she was 33 years old. Her sister Hereswith became a nun after her marriage and it is possible that Hild also married. Born into a royal family, being a Peacemaker surely would have been a necessity for her.

Griffith posits,in great depth,a fictional life for Hild to explain what may have happened to her. We do not know the truth and this version has a lot of merit. I very much enjoyed this long but beautifully written tale of a favorite time and person.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Pilgrim Footprints ~ On the Sands of Time..


Link to Tour Page: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/pilgrimfootprintsonthesandsoftimetour
Tour Hashtag: #PilgrimFootprintsVirtualTour


Publication Date: December 2, 2013
LightEye Editions
Paperback; 396p
ISBN-10: 2917183349

A few months after Richard FitzUrse and his fellow knights murder Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, Lord Robert and Lady FitzUrse are instructed by King Henry to make a penitential pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint James the Greater in Spain in order to earn redemption for his disgraced family.
William Beaumont has made a promise to his dead mother and younger sister to go on a pilgrimage to save their souls. William is secretly in love with Alicia Bearham, niece of Lord Robert. He is overjoyed when he is asked to accompany the family and their servants on their three-month pilgrimage.
They face many adversities, dangers, and an attempted murder on the long and hazardous journey across England, France and Spain. Who is trying to kill Sir Robert and Alicia? What does the gypsy woman they meet in Paris mean when she predicts that Alicia and William are destined to be soul mates, but only when the eleventh flaming star returns to the skies and the water carrier rises over the horizon? One fateful night, a shocking event changes their lives forever.

Buy the Book


Amazon UK Amazon US (eBook) Amazon US (Paperback) Book Depository Fishpond Waterstones




Sylvia Nilson knows about pilgrims and pilgrimages as her company amaWalkers takes groups on the Camino Frances pilgrimage in Spain and had walked over 5,000 km on pilgrimage trails in France,Spain, Italy and Switzerland. She has herself seen the medieval pewter scallop shell brooch found in Thames River mud and wove a remarkable tale around it.

The novel depicts an actual pilgrimage decreed by the Pope for the four knights who murdered Thomas Becket in 1170. These were family members of Reginald FitzUrse,so the details are likely fictional. Author's notes for these and other period details would have been appreciated.

The author translates a love and passion this classic and historical religious exercise into a tale of love and loss. One passage I greatly enjoyed was about the pass of Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees and realized that in this 12th century tale Charlemagne and Roland were only 300 years in the past.

I received a review copy for a review on my blog.
                                                               
About the Author
Sylvia Nilsen, well known in the Camino world for her ‘amaWalker blog’ is a South African freelance writer who has been published in numerous local and international publications.

She has worked as a research agent and editor for a UK-based travel guide publisher and produced several African city and country guides.

Sylvia has walked over 5,000 km of pilgrimage trails in Europe including Paris to Spain, the Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port and Roncesvalles to Santiago, from Lourdes to Pamplona, el Ferrol to Santiago, Santiago to Finisterre and from Switzerland to Rome on the Via Francigena. She also walked from Durban to Cape Town as part of the ‘Breaking Free’ team in aid of abused women and children. Sylvia has served as a volunteer hospitalero in Spain and is a Spanish accredited hospitalero trainer having trained over 40 people to serve as volunteers in Spain. She was the Regional Co-ordinator for the Confraternity of St James in South Africa from 2003 to 2010.

In 2009 she started amaWalkers Camino (Pty) Ltd and takes small groups of pilgrims on three weeks walks of the Camino Frances in Spain.

For more information on Sylvia Nilsen please visit her website.  You can also find her on Facebook.





Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Winter King - A Hawkenlye Mystery ~ #15



The Winter King is number 15 in the Hawkenlye Mystery series by Alys Clare,and still going strong. King John is the Winter King which may allude to his life span, as Lilas of Hammhurt prophecies. Lilas flees to the Tunbridge Kent location in fear for her life and we find her in Hawkenlye Abbey.

Alys Clare's books have taken us from Queen Eleanor serving as regent for King Richard to King John who has a complicated tie to Helewise and Sir Josse. Helewise and Josse have a complex relationship made more intricate by their children's lives being entangled, but you must read all that for yourself! Suffice to say that there are layers of mystery in every book, which grow more convoluted, as good mysteries should.

Helewise, Sir Josse and his Meggie are instrumental in saving King John's life, for the time being. Lilas and Meggie's combined visionary skills seem to pinpoint the date and time of John's demise but without sharing this knowledge with the reader.

Recommended as a solid historical series with suitably complicated subplots for mystery and historical novel fans alike. I received it from NetGalley for review purposes.