Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Huntsman's Tale - Ann Swinfen - Book 3 is charming~

"Oxford, Late Summer 1353. 
Hearing that his cousin is short-handed for the harvest, Nicholas Elyot takes a group of friends back to the family farm to help. When a deer hunt ends in tragedy, suspicion is directed toward the huntsman, a friend of Nicholas."

This is a great series and the ending makes me hopeful that it will continue. A trifle slow perhaps in the beginning but it picked up speed and barreled towards the exciting ending.

Nicholas and his coterie are fun to read about and he seems to help them to be more "well-rounded" in their lives. Will Philip decide to make his family life permanent although it may impact on his life? Will Nicholas' workers continue to have their lives better?

Additionally this period of the 14th Century after the Black Death has been illuminated very well, and presented a prime setting for the crime that Nicholas and his friend Jordain encounter. It is very well documented historically and that perhaps is the best part.

Recommended to all lovers of historical novels, especially those in Medieval times. 

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.