Tuesday, March 19, 2019

G1100 Book Review of Brandon Tudor Knight by Tony Riches

Name of Book: Brandon Tudor Knight

Author: Tony Riches

ISBN: 9781790733163

Publisher: Preseli Press

Type of book: The Tudor family, King Henry VII, King Henry VIII, princess/commoner marriage, 1505-1537, work, family, duty, loyalty, alliances, marriages, sacrifices, debts, Queen Catherine, Anne Boleyn, Bessie Blount

Year it was published: 2018


From the author of the international best-selling Tudor Trilogy:

Handsome, charismatic and a champion jouster, Sir Charles Brandon is the epitome of a Tudor Knight. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Brandon has a secret. He has fallen in love with Henry’s sister, Mary Tudor, the beautiful widowed Queen of France, and risks everything to marry her without the King’s consent.

Brandon becomes Duke of Suffolk, but his loyalty is tested fighting Henry’s wars in France. Mary’s public support for Queen Catherine of Aragon brings Brandon into dangerous conflict with the ambitious Boleyn family and the king’s new right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell.

Torn between duty to his family and loyalty to the king, Brandon faces an impossible decision: can he accept Anne Boleyn as his new queen?


Main characters include Charles Brandon, King Henry VIII and Mary Tudor. Charles Brandon is best described as a talented and enterprising young man who doesn't have the noble blood, but is resourceful and seems to live beyond his means numerous times. He is extremely dedicated to his job and to the nation, taking his oath as a knight very seriously. King Henry VIII is also drawn well although I couldn't help but compare him to King Henry VIII in Margaret George's novel. Mary Tudor is loyal and devoted to Brandon and is often caught between her brother and her husband. I also enjoyed gaining more knowledge about Thomas Cromwell and Cardinal Wolsey. I was a bit surprised to learn that the tale stopped in 1537 and honestly thought I would witness King Henry VIII's six marriages from behind-the-scenes.


The lesson I got from the book is the importance of family for support and that its more worth it than work


The story is in third person narrative from Charles Brandon's point of view and it is chronological. A lot of the focus on the story is of Brandon trying to control King Henry VIII's mistakes as well as his efforts for the kingdom of England. I think I also would have liked there to be more about his family and children, although I understand that he is too busy to see them. The story is definitely well-researched and well-told and it fills up the gaps of King Henry VIII's life nicely, and it also helped me understand a bit more about the succession and the mention of the nine day queen.

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)

About the Author

Tony Riches is a full-time writer and lives with his wife in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. After several successful non-fiction books, Tony turned to novel writing and wrote ‘Queen Sacrifice’, set in 10th century Wales, followed by ‘The Shell’, a thriller set in present day Kenya. A specialist in the history of the early Tudors, he is best known for his Tudor Trilogy. Tony’s other international best sellers include ‘Warwick ~ The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses’ and ‘The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham’.

For more information please visit Tony’s website and his blog The Writing Desk. He can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

I only know of Charles Brandon for his marriage to King Henry VIII's sister, Margaret, and that information I received from reading Margaret George's first novel, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF KING HENRY VIII, thus it was nice to have the background story of the man who was unafraid to reach to the top and to marry a princess with him being a commoner (a trope I'm really attracted to...) The whole tale is of the sacrifices that Charles Brandon is forced to make to be in King Henry VII as well as his son, King Henry VIII's good graces, and those sacrifices are many. I really enjoyed the tale and looking into the background of the famous couple.

This is for HFVBT

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, February 28
Review at Passages to the Past

Friday, March 1
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Monday, March 4
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, March 5
Review at Donna’s Book Blog

Wednesday, March 6
Guest Post at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Thursday, March 7
Feature at T’s Stuff

Friday, March 8
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Monday, March 11
Guest Post at On the Tudor Trail

Tuesday, March 12
Review at Hisdoryan
Feature at To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, March 13
Review at For the Sake of Good Taste

Thursday, March 14
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Friday, March 15
Review at Coffee and Ink
Review at A Darn Good Read

Sunday, March 17
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Monday, March 18
Review at Maiden of the Pages
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Tuesday, March 19
Review at The Tudor Enthusiast
Review at Just One More Chapter

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Thursday, March 14, 2019

G1086 Book Review of Trials and Trails by Jim Halverson

Name of Book: Trials and Trails

Author: Jim Halverson

ISBN: 9781732619401

Publisher: Gail Force Publishing

Type of book: 1870s and 1880s? Legacy of slavery, diversity, lessons,  Maslow's hierarchy of needs, travels, episodic, wandering, rarely settling down, job, business, finances, friendship, bromance

Year it was published: 2018


With a past of slavery and compliance, LeRoy has learned to pick his battles carefully. Johnny B, a quick-tempered Sioux, is still learning to control his anger. When dangerous circumstances bond them together, the pair learn to navigate Reconstruction Era America and all its prejudices. They save an innocent man from hanging, reunite two old friends, assist in an honorable death for an elder Indian, and discover their worth as they steadily assimilate self-respect into their lives.

From Jim Halverson's debut novel comes a tale of adventure, purpose, and the pursuit of self-actualization. Cowboys and psychology ride hand in hand, traveling a journey from living life on the edge to finding a place of belonging, joy, vulnerability, and distinction. Through trials along their trails, LeRoy and Johnny B transform people they meet, brand the world a better place, and reap the benefits.


Main characters include LeRoy and Johnny B as well as Alice. LeRoy is an African-American cowboy hand who had experienced slavery and discrimination by others. He is intelligent and often thinks before he acts, which he blames it on his background. He also helps out Johnny B with numerous tasks and loves science. Johnny B. is an orphaned Sioux male who in someways best resembles the modern audience; he is quick to fix up the problems and often does things without thinking them through. He was a judge's ward and thinks quickly on his feet as well as creating elaborate plans to prove his point. (I admit was my favorite character.) Alice is a widowed young woman they meet on the road who lets them stay with her in exchange for calving work. The three end up getting along well, but know they must part. Alice is plucky, resourceful and very tenacious.


From Lao Tzu, I believe: "A thousand mile journey begins with a single step"


The story is in third person narrative from Johnny B's and LeRoy's points of view. I think one of the things I had issues with is that the time wasn't crystal clear; that the story is set in nebulous 1870s or 1880s of America with wild west theme. The tale is also reminiscent of a road trip, of two men walking through towns attempting to do the right things but never staying long enough to put down any roots, which I guess I found a bit confusing because why did they stay in this particular town versus why they rejected others? The character growth is slow but it is there and it is evident in how they reason and think towards different scenarios. Also, the author doesn't shy away from the racism that both men experienced and went through.

Author Information:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble
Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

Jim Halverson grew up in the rural, gold-mining town of Mokelumne Hill, CA and received his MBA from Golden Gate University. He spent part of his life on a ranch and is an avid student of psychology. He recognizes the struggles of all men and women seeking equality and respect. Jim and his wife, Gail, spend their time traveling from their small farm in Forestville, CA.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook

Years back, I remember that I read and reviewed a story about the secrets to business success, which is also told in a very similar style to this book; that of lessons wrapped in a story. On the surface and in depths, TRIALS and TRAILS seemed to have a lot that I would enjoy; travel through America, attention to diversity and messages that strongly profilirated the pages. I also enjoyed the episodic format of the story with Johnny B and LeRoy showcasing us their talents and their friendship. And yes, its a novel devoid of sex, drugs, alcohol and so forth, which means that I hope if my young son will be interested in reading, I will encourage him to pick this book up. (He's only 2, going on 3.) But for some odd reason, I wasn't really grabbed by the tale as I hoped I would be, and I'm not quite sure why: maybe its because I am used to tales with romantic tales and this one didn't really have any? Or perhaps the fact that I'm not used to reading books that star African-American and Sioux characters? (I do read diverse books, and have read countless Asian or Asian-American novels that I have enjoyed greatly.) But still, a very thoughtful read that deserves to be re-read.

This is for iRead Book Tours


March 4 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
March 5 - Literary Flits - review / giveaway
March 6 - Viviana MacKade - book spotlight / guest post
March 6 - Books for Books - review
March 7 - JB's Bookworms with Brandy Mulder - book spotlight / guest post
March 7 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
March 8 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
March 11 - Fountain of Books - review / author interview / giveaway
March 12 - T's Stuff - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
March 13 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
March 13 - Rockin’ Book Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
March 14 - Two Girls and a Book - review
March 15 - The Legal Duchess - review / giveaway
March 18 - Paulette's Papers - book spotlight / giveaway
March 19 - Locks, Hooks and Books - review / giveaway
March 20 - Cheryl's Book Nook - review / giveaway
March 21 - #redhead.with.book - book spotlight / giveaway
March 22 - Nighttime Reading Center - review / giveaway
March 25 - Read and Review - book spotlight
March 25 - Sefina Hawke's Books - review
March 26 - Truly Trendy - review
March 27 - StoreyBook Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
March 28 - My Devotional Thoughts - book spotlight / author interview
March 29 - Christine's Book Corner - review

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

G1097 Claiming my place; coming of age in the shadow of the Holocaust

Title of the book: Claiming my place; coming of age in the shadow of the Holocaust

Author: Planaria Price and Helen Reichmann West

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

Publishing Date: 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-30529


Young adult nonfiction about a young Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust by moving into Nazi Germany and hiding in plain sight.

Gucia Gomolinska grew up comfortably in Piotrkow, Poland, a devoted student, sister, daughter, and friend. Still, even in the years before World War II, she faced discrimination as a Jew—but with her ash-blond hair she was often able to pass as just another Pole. When her town was invaded by Nazis, she knew her Aryan coloring gave her an advantage, and she faced an awful choice: stay in the place she had always called home, or leave behind everything she knew to try to survive. She took on a new identity as Basia Tanska, and her journey led her directly into Nazi Germany.

Planaria Price, along with Basia's daughter Helen West, tells this incredible life story directly in the first person. Claiming My Place is a stunning portrayal of bravery, love, loss, and the power of s


Author Info:

(From HFVBT)

About the Author

After graduating from Berkeley and earning a Master’s Degree in English Literature from UCLA, Planaria Price began her career teaching English to adult immigrants in Los Angeles. She has written several textbooks for University of Michigan Press and has lectured at over 75 conferences. In addition to her passion for teaching and writing, Planaria has worked with her husband to save and restore over 30 Victorian and Craftsman homes in her historic Los Angeles neighborhood. Claiming My Place is her first book for young adults.

For more information, please visit Planaria’s website at www.planariaprice.com.

Personal Opinion:

I think because I am in a different place now, but reading Claiming My Place; Coming of Age in the Shadow of the Holocaust was both a sad and heartbreaking tale. (I think also because I have been gifted a wonderful little boy about three years ago, and if I read something tragic, then I often place myself in the character's to see how I would feel.) I also feel that when my son grows up, I will be using this book as a way to introduce him to Holocaust and to what his great-grandparents, (may G-d rest their souls) have experienced. In other words, a more definite connection. (Although by then I would wish to discover tales of Holocaust that will take place in Ukraine and Russia...) This is a tale of human resilience and its a good read for young adult population as well as adult population. While the narrator didn't live in a concentration camp, this book shows a painful lesson I have learned; evil isn't black and white, and evil doesn't happen right away; it happens in increments of time, little by little like the carving of a mountain by water.

This is for HFVBT

Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, March 1
Interview at Passages to the Past

Sunday, March 3
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Monday, March 4
Interview at The Book Connection
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, March 5
Feature at The Book Junkie Reads
Feature at To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, March 6
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, March 7
Review at Peppermint Ph.D.
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, March 8
Feature at T’s Stuff
Review at Hopewell’s Public Library of Life

Sunday, March 10
Review at Clarissa Reads it All

Monday, March 11
Feature at Coffee and Ink
Review at Jathan & Heather
Review at Impressions In Ink

Tuesday, March 12
Feature at Maiden of the Pages

Wednesday, March 13
Review at Just One More Chapter

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Book Review of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Name of Book: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3923-9

Publisher: Atria Books

Type of book: 1950s-2000s, Hollywood, glamour, LGBTQ+ romances, acting, Oscars, the system, interview, family, friends, hiding self, California, New York, secrets

Year it was published: 2017


Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn's luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the '80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn's story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique's own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Written with Reid's signature talent for creating "complex, likable characters" (Real Simple), this is a mesmerizing journey through the splendor of old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it costs—to face the truth.


Main characters include Evelyn Hugo, Celia St. James, Harry Cameron, and Evelyn's six other husbands or so. Out of all the people, Evelyn Hugo and Celia St. James are the ones that are fully fleshed out as complex individuals who have to tread on rocky ground. Evelyn Hugo is unapolgetic and accepts herself as she is. She often thinks of reputation and appearances first and of consequences last, which make her a delightful character. She has to learn things the hard way and is a very strong woman who is loyal to her friends and her lover. Celia St. James is a lesbian who is in love with Evelyn Hugo and quite often Celia seems to be more socially savvy, or at least far more talented because she has won far more Oscars than Evelyn and she has to navigate between what attracted her to Evelyn versus letting Evelyn be herself. Harry Cameron is Evelyn's fifth husband, but prior to that he has his own secret and is a dedicated producer to Evelyn. The two have always continued to be lifelong friends through thick and thin. Evelyn's other six husbands are drawn well, but I sense they are more secondary characters rather than primary ones, and in case of Evelyn's first husband, tertiary.


Nothing is what it seems


The story is told in first person narrative primarily from Evelyn Hugo's point of view, and from time to time her interviewer, Monique also tells the tale in first person narrative. Although I wanted to like Monique, I admit that I fell more in love with Evelyn Hugo rather than Monique, and a lot of the tale was spent with Evelyn Hugo, (at least I couldn't wait until we got back to Evelyn Hugo.) There were no slow or boring parts and reading SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO was like eating an expensive and gourmet meal at a finest restaurant. The tale also covered Hollywood from 1950s up until 1980s and described a lot of what LGBTQ+ actors had to face in order to remain employed and famous.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Taylor Jenkins Reid lives in Los Angeles and is the acclaimed author of ONE TRUE LOVES, MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE, AFTER I DO, and FOREVER, INTERRPUTED. Her novels ahve been named best books of summer by PEOPLE, COSMOPOLITAN, GLAMOUR, InSTYLE, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, USA TODAY, US WEEKLY, PARADE, POPSUGAR, BUZZFEED, BUSTLE, BRIT+CO, Goodreads and others. To learn more, visit TaylorJenkinsReid.com


First of all, I can't believe I have waited almost two years to read and review this wonderful gem. I received the book in 2017, months after it was published because I kept seeing it everywhere on the 'net. But once I got it, I kept putting off reading it, and this year I finally decided to plunge into it namely because the author has a new book coming out: DAISY JONES AND THE SIX (which yes, I want to read it now...) and diving into this book is an experience that I haven't yet had before because its a beautiful and addictive tale that will long keep you past bedtime to squeeze one more chapter, and the reader will find themselves falling in love with Evelyn Hugo and half hoping she is real instead of a wonderful figment of imagination. The love story is both unexpected, explosive and breathtaking because even the romance novels I have read pale to this novel, as I was happy yet sad for Evelyn. The tale will also expose the ugly side of the 1950s to 1980s Hollywood as a lot of movie stars have to hide themselves at the cost of being famous. I also should mention that there are elements of LGBTQ+ in the story and there is heavy focus and balance on LGBTQ+ romance.

I reviewed it out of my personal collection

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Friday, March 1, 2019

Coming Attractions for March 2019

Hey everyone, we are already in March, and I can't believe that its the month where spring begins. Interestingly enough, spring and summer are the least of my favorite seasons, therefore its an irony that my child was born just as the spring has began; March 23rd, 2016. Also, I have been blogging for 9 years and have blogged, well, a thousand or so books. Expect a lot of book reviews in March, which I'm excited about. Without further ado, here are the book tours and possible reads:

Book Tours/Spotlights: 

Claiming my place; coming of age in the shadow of the Holocaust by Planaria Price with Helen Reichmann West (March 6th, 2019)

Trials and Trails by Jim Halverson (March 7th, 2019)

Brandon Tudor Knight by Tony Riches (March 18th, 2019)

The Way of Glory by Patricia J. Boomsma (March 19th, 2019)

From An-other land by Tanushree Ghosh (March 25th, 2019)

My lovely wife by Samantha Downing (March 26th, 2019)

The Goodbye Cafe by Mariah Stewart (March 27th, 2019)

Scheduled Reviews:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Tamara Jenkins Reid (March 3rd, 2019)

The Power of Context; How to Manage Our Bias and Improve Our Understanding of Others by Daniel R. Stalder (March 14th, 2019)

Alvar the Kingmaker by Annie Whitehead (March 17th, 2019)

Planned Reads:

Left to their own devices; How digital natives are reshaping the American Dream by Julie M. Albright

The Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Wunderland by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Promised Land by Martin Fletcher 

Things we lost in the fire by Mariana Enriquez

My Half of the Sky by Jana McBurney-Lin 

For Fresh Fiction:

That Churchill Woman by Stephanie Barron

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

Crimson Lake by Candice Fox

Drops of Cerulean by Dawn Adams Cole 

March 2019

A House Divided-Pearl S Buck
SR: March 11th, 2016
The Way of Glory-Patricia J. Boomsma
SR: March 9th, 2019
Little Faith-Nickolas Butler
SR: March 1st,. 2019
FR: March 10th, 2019
Drops of Cerulean-Dawn Adams Cole
SR: March 10th, 2019
Crimson Lake-Candice Fox
SR: March 9th, 2019
From An-other land-Tanushree Ghosh
SR: February 27th, 2019
FR: March 11th, 2019
Brandon Tudor Knight-Tony Riches
SR: February 24th, 2019
FR: March 5th, 2019
The Things We Cannot Say-Kelly Rimmer
SR: March 6th, 2019
The Island of Sea Women-Lisa See
SR: February 28th, 2019
Goodbye Cafe- Mariah Stewart
SR: February 16th, 2019
FR: March 5th, 2019

Tree of Souls-Howard Schwartz
SR: February 10th, 2014
Left to their own devices; How digital natives are reshaping the American Dream- Julie M. Albright
SR: March 5th, 2019
FR: March 12th, 219

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Book Spotlight for The Chef's Secret by Crystal King

Book Details:

Book Title: The Chef's Secret by Crystal King

Category: Adult fiction, 352 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Atria/Simon & Schuster

Release date: Feb 12, 2019

Tour dates: Feb 11 to 28, 2019

Content Rating: R (for a couple of explicit, but loving, sex scenes (no abuse or rape) and minor curse words)

Book Description:

A captivating novel of Renaissance Italy detailing the mysterious life of Bartolomeo Scappi, the legendary chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time, and the nephew who sets out to discover his late uncle’s secrets—including the identity of the noblewoman Bartolomeo loved until he died.

When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair.

As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.

With luscious prose that captures the full scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion.

To follow the tour, please visit Crystal King's page on Italy Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author:

Crystal King is an author, culinary enthusiast, and marketing expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language, and culture of Italy. She has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at several universities including Harvard Extension School and Boston University, as well as at GrubStreet, one of the leading creative writing centers in the US.

A Pushcart Prize–nominated poet and former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her MA in critical and creative thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in medias res. She resides in Boston but considers Italy her next great love after her husband, Joe, and their two cats, Nero and Merlin. She is the author of Feast of Sorrow.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

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