Monday, October 31, 2016

Conquest, Daughter of the last King - Tracey Warr - Just wonderful!

5 Stars. This was an amazing book on many levels for me and I was indeed sorry for it to end. I think there may be a sequel, and I have downloaded The Viking Hostage by Tracey Warr so I'm comforted..

Nest ferch Rhys is someone I knew about historically, and since my name is Carrow, also someone I needed to know about. I should tell you that I pursue genetic genealogy and have tons of Welsh DNA matches I cannot yet figure out. John Carrow my 9th great grandfather was likely from close to there and his sons and grandsons marry into Welsh families. I did know about Carew Castle, and Nest's children, but this book has so much more. That of course is one level of amazement.

I think all the characters in this novel have great depth, some more than others. The author has positioned her story in a way that brings Nest into contact with important persons in her life. Gerald FitzWalter de Windsor ( Carew Castle) and Henry I of England and  Owain, Nest's cousin who abducts her were some of them. Haith who is historically known as Hait,Sheriff of Pembroke was not known to me and Nest's last husband was not either. 

The history as we know it was amazingly well documented (Orderic Vitalis and other documents) and the characters were vivid and engaging. Sybil de Montgomerey and her husband Robert FitzHamon ( known as FitzHamon here) Lord of Gloucester and Glamorgan, a confidante of some  of the sons of William the Conqueror, specifically William Rufus and Henry I.

That Sybil Montgomery and Fitzhamon's  ties lead them in different directions at the time that Nest is entrusted into their care is a strong thread in the story. Gerald's  ties to Glamorgan are known as was his on again and off again career at Pembroke Castle so it works quite well.

Definitely recommended to all Medieval history lovers of this period. It is engaging and  artfully written  and is one time that multiple person storytelling works for me.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Flood - Ann Swinfen - On to the sequel!

Terrific book and loved it so much I immediately started Book #2 "Betrayal". It does have some sad events but they are tempered by positive ones as well. The characters have grit,resilience and greatly support each other in a distressing time period of the English Civil Wars.

Mercy and generations of her family have lived in this same place of the Fenlands. Long accustomed to a life where interdependence on others was the norm, they were thrust into a time of upheaval and unrest. Cromwell is now in charge, the King is imprisoned and nothing is as it always was.

The Fenlands required group effort and the village had long used common lands and areas for their existence. Unscrupulous of shoots of Cromwell's government had run amok and sold or leased lands to Dutch investors who proceeded to demolish the natural draining and dyke lands in a dangerous manner. 

As the winter rains threatened new settlers and the long time occupants were thrown together for survival against a threatening flood. Common effort is required for survival as the book ends with everyone sequestered in the village church.

I am now off to the sequel to see what comes next. Very close to 5 Stars! 

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Rustle of Silk - Alys Clare - New series coming out. Get your preorder in!

Alys Clare is a favorite author of mine, having read all of the Hawkenlye and all the Aelf Fen books. ( Hoping there are more)This book was not the genre and time period I usually read but it was a good tight mystery, with  in unique flavor. The setting and characters were  unique and colorful if a bit noir. 

I am quite sure the series will continue to attract many of Clare's readers as well as new ones.I appreciate receiving this ARC from NetGalley.  Preorder your copy now!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Northern Queen - Kelly Evans ~ A Fine First Novel

4+ Stars. It was a fine first novel and I enjoyed it. A bit too detailed in some places and scene breaks would have made it a smoother read, but historically correct for the most part. 

It was a twist on the more popular idea of Emma being the beloved queen, however it is absolutely clear that Canute had feelings for both Aelfgifu of Northampton and Emma of Normandy. Later contemporary writings lean towards Emma but this version worked well.

I did enjoy Cnut's first wife's story and learning about her life. It was a very good representation of the history of that time which I always seek out to read. I am hoping Kelly Evans has another in the works.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Winter Siege - Ariana Franklin ~ Enjoyable~

Rounded up to a 4 Star, it was an enjoyable and readable book. It was one that took me awhile to immerse myself in , perhaps a bit darker than I usually choose. The epoch was one that I very much enjoy so that brought me into the storyline. It was a novel built upon this period of history in a way that was not exactly historical.

The characters were surely unique and memorable but again took time for me to accept their separate personalities. Questions remain: Did Penda reunite with her family or did I miss something? Maud and Alan of Ghent did apparently live happily every after. There then was William, who provided the different voice, and was not revealed to the reader until the end.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Novice's Tale - Ann Swinfen - 5 Stars ~ Hoping for more!

A very marvelous book that took up where the first left off.. with greater character depth and intricate plot line. Subsequent books in a series sometimes are that it the reader or the writer or both? The first book was very good but this one surely surpassed it. 

I found myself gasping at certain events just like it was happening before my eyes. Nicholas rescuing Emma from her stepfather's attack dogs was one such moment! Of course I did not want it to end and I am anxious for a sequel.

The history is unique and the period details are just superb. The candle-makers and the deputy sheriff were brought into the storyline very skillfully and all added strength to the plot.I have read and enjoyed 'This Rough Ocean' so now will try others by Ann Swinfen

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Bookseller's Tale- Ann Swinfen - a fine series start!

I liked this book a great deal and plan to get the second book in the series to continue with it. Setting the stage for the characters and the location slowed down the reading of the book early on, but the history was excellent as was the characterization.

The stage is set for an unusual historical era, Spring 1353 in Oxford is just past the plague or Black Death which took the lives of many. Nicholas Elyot, bookseller, scrivener and former scholar and University fellow is discussing with his motherless children the possibility of adopting a puppy. His sister Margaret, also bereaved and childless , who serves as his housekeeper was against the idea but they agree to give it a try. 

Later that day as he was coming from Yardleys farm for goose feather quills for his business he passed over a bridge and came upon a young man floating and dead in the Cherwell River. Two lay brothers of St. John's Hospital help him pull out William Farringdon. Was he a suicide? Was it a murder ? 

The crime would occupy his and his friend Jordain as well as his employees in a variety of ways.
Nicholas children and sister, as well as family members of the deceased become at risk as the tale unravels. Recommended for Medieval mystery fans with fine period detail. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Iron Water - Tom Harper Mystery - Chris Nickson ~ Preorder this one now!!

" Two macabre discoveries in a single morning present an intriguing challenge for Detective Inspector Tom Harper Leeds, England. July, 1893"

Thanks to NetGalley I am privileged to have gotten an ARC for this terrific 5 Star book by a favorite author.

Leeds and vicinity is a favorite reading destination for me as long as Chris Nickson takes me there. The 1360s, 1730s and the Victorian era have equal fascination- is it the author or the origins of the population? I am not sure but all Nickson's books have that effect on me, Leeds or Chesterfield area equally.

This one was very exciting and seemed to be wrapping up some of the criminal elements and exiting them from the narrative. Where are we going now I am wondering, but wherever the plot takes us I will follow.

Detective Inspector Tom Harper is sent to represent the new "City" of Leeds at a "torpedo" as weapon exhibition, all of which begin to introduce a changed political climate for this area. He is, therefore, an eyewitness to a murder and concealment of that crime. In rapid succession, murder are committed which implicate two warring crime factions and possibly introduce a third. It s a mystery however so all is not as it seems.

Also spotlighted is Annabelle Harper who is a suffragist, hotel and bakery proprietor and beginning a new career associated with women's suffrage as a political entity Societal changes weave in and out of these murders, which have our characters growing and changing with Leeds as it takes it's place a a major city.

Visiting characters like Billy Reed and his wife provide interest and back up for some of this societal change, upward mobility being spotlighted. The specter of Scotland Yard as "Big Brother" was introduced but that bullet was dodged, for now!

I am very much looking forward to the next installment in Spring 2017 where we may see the Leeds City political climate continue to change. Pre Order links are up now at Amazon, add this to your wish list! Recommended for all mystery lovers of any era.          

Modern Crimes - A WPC Lottie Armstrong Mystery- Chris Nickson - PreOrder Now!

This was just an amazingly well done, and of course well researched mystery, and not my "usual" genre although that varies a bit. I try to read historical mysteries set in other countries than the US, and mostly different eras- medieval is a favorite. However Chris Nickson's mysteries make that criteria fly out the window. 

1924 Leeds has partially recovered after WWI, although jobs are in short supply and crime is ramping up. Lottie Armstrong,WPC, is a female police officer in a period when women were being turned out of jobs that able bodied males "should" have first choice at. She and her partner Cathy Taylor were the only two women constables in Leeds, and they were not welcomed with open arms.

A related group of crimes, some of which harkened back to the war, and involving the fairer sex allowed Lottie to come to the attention of Sgt. McMillan in CID. The first involved an unwed mother who disappeared from the maternity home she was placed in and eventually involved crime figures, murders and one suicide.

Lottie takes her sworn duties quite seriously and runs afoul of the male Constables and eventually some higher up law enforcement as well. She is surprised when her redoubtable supervisor, Mrs Maitland, matron, speaks up in her defense on several occasions.

Her career is ended with termination for doing what she felt was her duty, and definitely was the duty of some male constables. I would have been quite horrified about Lottie, accompanied by her sidekick Cathy, turning in their uniforms together except for one bright spot. My ARC, graciously sent to me by the author, revealed what appears to be a sequel to this series. 

However when and how the short narrative I saw begins, I think you need to find out for yourself by preordering this book. Make it your Christmas present to yourself.There has never been a Chris Nickson book that I did not enjoy and I will prove it now by ordering a Dan Markham book.