Sunday, August 27, 2017

Murder in the Bowery, A Gaslight Mystery - Victoria Thompson - Get Book #20 now!!

I liked this one a lot, better than some and I have read them all. The plot line was excellent maybe until the end, the vigilante-type justice threw me a little. Frank,Sarah, Gino and even Maeve have perhaps given up on the judicial system dispensing deterrents on the wealthy, as Frank a former police officer would know of first hand.

The Bowery atmosphere and the historical facts that were actually happening make this a great read.This is book #20 and a new series written by Victoria Thompson will be out soon- I would get my cope of this well done book now!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Year Of The Gun - A WAPC Lottie Armstrong Mystery ~ PreOrder NOW and be ready - Enthralling ~

What a book, what an ending and whatta girl Lottie is! I did so hate for this one to end but I had to barge ahead to see what happened. It is always, always a pleasure to read Chris Nickson's mysteries in their unique settings. This one was enthralling.

In "The Year of the Gun",Lottie Armstrong, is recently rehired after two decades away, in the Women's Auxiliary Police Corps, WAPC for short.  She is again assistant, driver actually, to her former boss DCS McMillan, with whom she has kept in contact over those years. She is grateful that he sought her out, a widow who is nonetheless comfortable, although still numb from her husband's death.

It is February 1944 in Leeds and Lottie has been back three months and the war has not slowed down the underworld. Privations throughout England have caused  crime of all kinds to escalate, black markets and prostitution among them. American troops as well as  their own military occupied the same areas, for the most part without jostling.

Life then abruptly changes with a call to a murder scene, and those responding wore both police uniforms and army khaki.  A female military private was the victim, shot at close range with a US Army black market revolver. The next night is a repeat and then there is a third,unheard of crimes for that era.

Enter Captain Ellison and the US Army who add another dimension to  everything with different agendas and regulations. A possible romantic interest for Lottie  which was up and down while they fought to solve this desperate string of crimes. The ending was surprising for me, see what you think when you get your copy!

I am hoping against hope that there is another outing for Lottie. I so very much enjoyed the WWII  quite accurate historical atmosphere, that this  author always provides for his beloved Leeds.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Merchant's Tale- Ann Swinfen - Best one so far ~ Engrossing ~

My favorite outing of these characters so far.. the author continues to increase their depth, vitality and their exposure. I do love that they remain in the same group of friends and relatives so we do not have to relearn a lot. 

Peter Winchingham, merchant, is a new character and I hope a new volume is being worked on that includes him. I suspect it will be so, as he bought a manor in Leighton, Nicholas' home community not very far from Oxford.

The historical aspects of the St. Frideswide's fair and Priory are very important to me as a reader, as are all of Ann Swinfen's works. The inclusion of the Black Prince as a visitor to the Priory and Oxford was excellent. Does it presage more contacts between Nicholas and the Prince?

This one was wonderful and the newer characters I feel point to more outings for this group. A tremendously good read. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Cardinal's Court - A Hugh Mac Egan Mystery- Cora Harrison - Marvelous on so many levels~

Cora Harrison's novels are among my very favorite reads, for many reasons,including time, place , historical accuracy and characterization. This new Hugh Mac Egan mystery is no exception as it is a tale of an Irish Brehon, superimposed on the court of Henry VIII, a time where these worlds clashed.

Hugh Mac Egan of a Kilkenny Brehon family seems to be a Renaissance man and fits into both English and Irish culture. It was a fascinating glimpse at a world and time long gone, as well as coming into the Tudor court at an oblique angle.

It was a complicated and many faceted mystery ( think Earl of Ormond, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Cardinal Wolsey's Hampton Court) and of course had a surprise ending. Recommended to anyone at all. Marvelous.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Woman in the Shadows - Carol McGrath - Powerful and Groundbreaking ~ 5 Stars ~

"When beautiful cloth merchant’s daughter Elizabeth Williams is widowed at the age of twenty-two, she is determined to make herself a success in the business she has learned from her father. But there are those who oppose a woman making her own way in the world, and soon Elizabeth realizes she may have some powerful enemies – enemies who also know the truth about her late husband… 

Security – and happiness – comes when Elizabeth is introduced to kindly, ambitious merchant turned lawyer, Thomas Cromwell. Their marriage is one based on mutual love and respect…but it isn’t always easy being the wife of an influential, headstrong man in Henry VIII’s London. The city is filled with ruthless people and strange delights – and Elizabeth realizes she must adjust to the life she has chosen…or risk losing everything"

I have called this novel "powerful", and it was to me..and "groundbreaking" because few facts are available to the public about the wife of Thomas Cromwell, excepting for her name and her death date. Additionally, again for me, this family has not been "overdone" in fiction although the Tudors themselves perhaps have been.

I preface this review to say two things: one is that I received this ARC for a review and secondly, that I hope there is a sequel of some sorts ( Gregory Cromwell  and/or Richard Williams). This author's prior work that I am most familiar with, was a family series involving three book.

This evocative story begins with a preface, that shows how Elizabeth's life will be in 1526, then jumps to Part One, which is when she is widowed from Tom Williams. On that occasion she is reintroduced, as an adult with Thomas Cromwell ( who she may have met in childhood).

Carol McGrath,in her fine author note, indicates that any "inventions" are  a  novelist's prerogative, but emerge from facts which are in existence, from her historian perspective. She also handles "time jumps" adroitly and in a way that enhances the story.

It was very satisfying to me to be able to read about the Cromwells' life together, and to put flesh  on their bones, as the saying goes. It seems to have been a good life lived in very difficult times, poised as they were on a religious reformation with many societal norms being thrown asunder.

Many of  the associates and staff of Thomas Cromwell and "Lizzie", as she was called, had their life station rise as their employer's did. We do know that in these perilous times life was precarious. This family dared to challenge some norms and consequences occurred.

I recommend this book to all historical novel lovers as well as some Tudor fans, although Henry and his queens were only backdrops to how this story is told. Masterful!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Warrior Princess - K.M. Ashman - Welsh Rebels ~ Pre Order links are posted ~

3.5 stars. It was a good read, although not really my usual historical novel type, I tend to avoid a lot of battle scenes and gore. That being said, I think the author's notes were superb, so for sure some history was there. I gave it a bumping grade for that reason.

I have read several books about Nest so had no idea this one would lead to multiple executions, and that Gerald of Windsor sort of vanishes at the end. I would have liked, or hoped that Nest would have gone on towards her next relationship at the end.

Also was Nest or Gwenllian the Warrior Queen, the primary character? There was a bit too much of jumping from scene to scene with depth and context. Curious as to whether this was a standalone of a sequel to the Blood of Kings Series.

I appreciated being given an ARC at Netgalley by Thomas and Mercer for this read. Recommended for followers of this author and others who write about Welsh rebellions. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Last Tudor - Philippa Gregory - Engrossing read ~ Pre Order now!

This long telling of the Grey sisters trauma at the hands of Elizabeth I was engrossing as well as an emotional read. I did know a good bit about these sisters, having read other books recently but this one went into much more depth and juxtapositions of Elizabeth versus anything that was threatening. 

What I got from this very well written story was that Elizabeth's terrors and anxieties put her at odds with almost everyone from time to time, reminding me of our own political landscapes I suspect.

The book ended sort of upbeat, although we know that despite having a pension and owning a house, Mary Grey only have several years of freedom and never again lived with Thomas Keyes. Did she communicate with him in letters prior to his death? I hope so and the book portrayed it that way.

Jane Grey's tragic story is known to most and that was the shorter part of the book, which makes sense. Jane was portrayed as being a "saint" and a "martyr" and surely was fanatically religious; that fact consoled a bit for the manner of her death, as she was not terrified.

The part of the book that tells of the life of Catherine Grey had a lot of depth, which also makes sense as she lived a fuller life. Did she die because she was depressed and anorexic or as other chroniclers indicate also have consumption, if so she may have been infected from Lady Jan Seymour her sister in law.

Married first to Henry Herbert at 13 she was back at court at the age of perhaps 14. Her cousin Queen Mary was kind to her and kinder to her mother Frances Brandon Grey than Elizabeth I was.
Catherine Grey was beautiful and according to Philippa Gregory, she was the darling of the people of Britain when she was imprisoned. 

Her imprisonment was for marrying without the Queen's consent and she and her spouse and her two young sons paid dearly for their relationship. Elizabeth I was , indeed, a horrible person as her cousins ( Especially Mary Grey) said often.

I received this book from NetGalley for a review and I feel it was excellent, although I greatly missed an "author's note" , which was not in this ARC. It was an emotional read and quite engrossing. Recommended to all who appreciate this era.