Sunday, May 28, 2017

Great Ladies:The Forgotten Witnesses to the Lives of Tudor Queens - Sylvia Barbara Soberton - Informative Read ~

This was a fine read, a bit heavy on Elizabeth I and known facts, but I enjoyed knowing about the interactions with Katherine Carey Knollys and others. Some little known interactions were mentioned which I appreciated reading about. 

There were other less remarked upon vignettes, such as the brief life of Mary Seymour daughter of Katherine Parr and Thomas Seymour, that were the reason I decided to read the book.

I definitely have noted the other books by this author and will be acquiring them also. I am giving it 4 + Stars and definitely will recommend it to others

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Bear and the Wolf - Ruth Downie & S.J.A. Turney ~ Such a Treat ~

Very happily I stumbled upon this short novel by favorite author Ruth Downie and SJA (Simon) Turney while looking for some Anglo Saxon books. I did not realize there was such a book, but was very glad that she and Simon Turney had another collaboration. ( see " The Year of Ravens")

Here it is:"A short story of love and danger on the empire's most hostile frontier..from two acclaimed authors of Historical Fiction "
It read like a full length novel with depth of character and plot as well as very accurate historical detail. A quite marvelous authors' note tells of "Prince" Caracalla son of the Emperor Severus who was violent and without scruples.

The setting is Vindolanda on Hadrian's Wall, where Senna the main female character's tribe lived within a long day's walk. As a reader who has an anthropology degree and love this era, the landscape was meticulously described. "The Maeatae live next to the cross-wall ,which cuts the island in half", was how it has been explained, which suggests it is not the Antonine Wall .

Brigius, the main male character is Senna's man, of the Votadini tribe and a solider in the Second Nerviorum stationed at Vindolanda. There is a very intricate plot and a complex battle scene which I must reread now to get straight. ( I read too fast) I must also try to figure out which of Senna's family survive this event by rereading the battle.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Tribute Bride- Theresa Tomlinson - 5 stars- A Great Find and Terrific Read!!



"A flood ruins King Alle’s kingdom. His crops are destroyed and he does not have the necessary grain to pay his yearly tribute to neighbouring war-lord, Aethelfrid. Instead he offers him his daughter, Acha, who, aged 16, must become a peace-weaver bride to the most brutal and feared warrior in the land. "

What a terrific book this was! I found it while starting to reread "A Swarming of Bees" which I loved.. I may have even loved this book more but will know when I finish my reread ( which is the same group of people more or less)

These people from Anglo Saxon Chronicle "A.D. 617. This year was Ethelfrith, king of the Northumbrians,slain by Redwald, king of the East-Angles; and Edwin, the son of Ella, having succeeded to the kingdom, subdued all Britain,except the men of Kent alone, and drove out the Ethelings, the sons of Ethelfrith, namely, Enfrid. Oswald, Oswy, Oslac, Oswood. Oslaf, and Offa"

Mentioning here that Oswald, Oswy and Oslac were his nephews from his sister Acha, these nephews did not go away so this book and "A Swarming of Bees" are must reads!! I just loved the characterization and the historical details were superb. 



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Girl in the Glass Tower -Elizabeth Freemantle ~Poignant and Sad ~


Arbella Stuart, niece to Mary, Queen of Scots and presumed successor to Elizabeth I, has spent her youth behind the towering windows of Hardwick Hall. As presumed successor to the throne, her isolation should mean protection - but those close to the crown are never safe. 


I received an ARC from Netgalley and Penguin UK for this book for an unbiased review and I would give it above 3 stars so 3.5. I thought that the juxtaposition of Ami the poet's story with Arbella Stuarts's was hard to do well and might have been better with only a few vignettes of Ami. Did it detract from Arbella's character, perhaps?

I have not read a book about Arbella and although she was not a vibrant subject, I appreciated the very fine historical details. Elizabeth Freemantle had a wonderful afterward that really did the trick. Perhaps less of being a "novel" and more of the historical details would have worked for me.

Having said that, I do recommend it to Elizabethan Era lovers and Bess of Hardwick followers. I think the King James era was done quite well. Very poignant. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

On Copper Street: A Victorian Police Procedural - Tom Harper Mystery ~ Chris Nickson ~ Gritty and Gripping!

"Detective Inspector Tom Harper finds answers hard to come by in his latest, most challenging, investigation to date."

Nothing is more satisfying than a Chris Nickson historical police procedural, set in various time periods, in Leeds. Why Leeds? The author says "It's where I was born and raised , and that puts a place in your bones." 

I think there is more than that however. Leeds, in whichever epoch we see here described, exemplifies a time and place that existed and mattered and vanished but not without a trace. Each subsequent era left it's mark upon those who follow, other regular working class men and women, who chose to make their city a good place. 

Why police procedurals? Because good and bad people exemplify all places, and are a necessity to describing a society. Chris Nickson is an accomplished author who writes with a deep sociological perspective of "his" Leeds.

D.I Tom Harper, soon to be Superintendent Harper, becomes plunged into a series of murders. "Leeds, England. March, 1895. The day after his release from prison, petty criminal Henry White is found stabbed to death at his terraced home on Copper Street." 

These crimes are bookended by his promotion, and the deaths of important people in his life. His touchstones are his wife, Annabelle a suffragist and political figure in her own right, and his daughter Mary. His predecessor's death is a blow to him but he leaves him a touching legacy gift.

If you like historical police novels, this one has all the elements, with a maiming by acid of two youngsters which leaves several mysteries of it's own. Several innocent or well meaning people came to untimely ends which is why I did not always read it at night.

Please join Superintendent Harper and Annabelle,newly promoted Inspector Ash and Fireman,, former copper, Billy Reed in Victorian Leeds. Start with "Gods of Gold" Book 1 ,why don't you? You will enjoy this series.

I received an ARC via Netgalley, and Severn House for an honest review. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Clash Of Spheres - Sir Robert Carey mystery~ PF Chisholm ~ Out this week!

"It's late August, 1592. Sir Robert Carey, cousin to Queen Elizabeth from the wrong side of Henry VIII's blanket, remains at his post on the Borders at Carlisle. He has at last been confirmed by his monarch as Deputy Warden and is still deeply in love with Lady Elizabeth Widdrington while despising her elderly, abusive husband (will the man never die?). Carey remains estranged from his dour but lethal henchman, Henry Dodd"


The story is  intriguing but perhaps a bit too intricate, as events are presented in vignettes that go back and forth in time, winter and then the previous summer and back again. The intricacy is my only problem with the book, whose characters I adore and  an author I admire.

Henry Dodd did not really want to have Robert Carey killed, but the thread of the book goes there more than once. Janet his wife does want a child to secure Dodd's land but at what expense? 

The complicated plot against the Scots King James is because Elizabeth will die soon ( see the book the Duke of York) and bring the Spanish and English under James' control. 

Lady Elizabeth is still with her " her elderly, abusive husband" but I know that will end also and she will be with Robert Carey ( Duke of York book). Did Henry Dodd really die at the end? I am not sure but since we are left with that impression a sequel will be in order.


I suggest reader start with Book # 1 of the series ( there is a special price for that) and get to this point..Well worth every one!! I give it 4.5 for the hard to follow parts ( a paper book which is NOT an ARC might be easier to go backwards with) 


Feast of Sorrow - A Novel of Ancient Rome- Crystal King ~ A fine first novel

I received an ARC from NetGalley which I saw on Twitter for an honest review. It was an era I enjoy a lot so I requested it.I give it more than 4 stars maybe 4.25- 4.5 which is great for a first novel.

The story devolves around Marcus Gavius Apicius, a Gourmand, who a real person that we know a fair amount about. Thrassius, his kitchen slave, the main character was fictional, as are his contemporaries. Passia,his love who he eventually marries and Sotas, his long time friend were fictional also. Will there be any sequel? That would be very fine - if so I am sure that the fictional characters will acquire more depth.

Apicius and Apicata ( who possibly was not his daughter but this version makes it so) were real characters we heard about in other Roman Annals like Seneca. Tacitus said that Sejanus, also real "Disposed of his virtue at a price to Apicius, a rich man"

The author is fond of cooking ( which I'm not, sorry) and mentions that Sally Grainger's "Cooking With Apicius" a 2006, is a favorite of hers. Food lovers will like this book! I am a lover of Ancient Rome and I liked it quite well, and look forward to the author's next outing.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Watergate - A Muirteach MacPhee Novelette - Susan McDuffie - A treat!!

4.5 stars. Nice little novella although I usually prefer a longer book. It took about a third of it for me to orient myself as to why Muirteach McPhee was in that place, as well as where that place was located.

The water-horse is a mythical creature which could be Nessie, as of course Muirteach was at Loch Ness. The beast or water horse or kelpie, as Muirteach said spoke with Uisdean's voice "or perhaps I heard the words in my mind. "

However or whatever it was, you see, had killed Dubhglas and his wife Sorcha. Celtic monsters are said to be still seen in lakes in Scotland, as well as actual vicious fish off the coasts.

A delightful small book. I recommend Susan McDuffie's characters. 


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Year of Ravens - Anthology with Ruth Downie - What a read ~


Britannia: land of mist and magic clinging to the western edge of the Roman Empire.

Sometimes getting into a novel written by a group of authors, even excellent authors does not work for me. However this one was different and I just loved it!

Ruth Downie writes so wonderfully about Roman Britain, and I could not get enough of Ria! This one is Ria - "A neglected slave girl seizes her own courage as Boudica calls for war" - she is the daughter of Prasutagus king of the Iceni.

"A conflicted young warrior finds himself torn between loyalties to tribe and to Rome." Andecarus who had been fostered in a Roman family but was son of Boudica's war chief and dies at his side.

I am very much hoping to see this same team of authors come back with a sequel, if that is possible. At least the half sisters Keena daughter of Boudica the Queen and Ria daughter of a slave. Hoping ~

The Rainbow Comes and Goes - A Mother and Son on Life, Love and Loss~


I borrowed this on my kindle from the library and it was good if not spectacular. I did not know a lot about Gloria Vanderbilt and it was an eye opening read, although I thought I read one about her young years.

Her life was not a particularly pleasant one, although she definitely had good years. Apparently both she and son Anderson Cooper are and always have been on good terms. The book ends with this quote.
"I know her. She knows me. She is my mother. I am her son. The rainbow comes and goes"
That sums it up fairly well.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Brotherly Love - Lorna Peel - a fine historical romance about 19th Century Ireland~

4.5 Stars ( which does not show so am making it 5)

I really enjoyed this book about rural Ireland and Lorna Peel's historical facts were excellent. I am not a romance reader although have made exceptions for historical romances, and am glad I did for this one.

I said this while reading:"an amazing read! I am of Irish descent and know about this period but not faction fighting etc. " and the book blog indicated:"Ireland, 1835. Faction fighting has left the parish of Doon divided between the followers of the Bradys and the Donnellans. Caitriona Brady is the widow of John, the Brady champion, killed two years ago. Matched with John aged eighteen, Caitriona didn’t love him and can’t mourn him. Now John’s mother is dead, too, and Caitriona is free to marry again.
Michael Warner is handsome, loves her, and he hasn’t allied himself with either faction. But what secret is he keeping from her? Is he too good to be true?"

Some of my ancestors in Tipperary were said to have been part of the 18th century "Whiteboys", a retaliatory movement  by the rural poor against an oppressive class structure. However my own immigrant ancestor  from that area was in the British Army and in a local Barracks charged with keeping the peace. The "Ribbonmen" in Peel's tale is the 19th century version and the Constabulary  who invaded were maybe similar to some of the local barracks charged with "peacekeeping".

I was thrilled to read this book and will hope there will be a sequel. The characters could use a bit more development, same for dialogue, but it was well done overall.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Queen's Midwife - Lozania Prole - Lives and Loves of the Royals 2 ~ Pleasant Read




Alice is a young girl of uncertain background, who was placed by her aunt in a noble home, to be a seamstress. Due to her aunt's occupation as a healer, Alice eventually becomes a young midwife in King Henry VIII's court. Henry's wives repeated failures to produce living children gives Alice a number of years of employment.

This is story which explores the reign of King Henry superimposed on Alice's life. It is a unique way to tell both the story of Henry's marital and personal failures and the life of Alice. The ending is a nice twist, which left this reader happy for the main character. I plan to read Book 1 now. Enjoy!