Saturday, April 29, 2017

Advice for Choosing Historical Fiction

I've actually gotten the idea from talking to my brother-in-law, who mentioned he wanted to visit my blog and see which historical fiction I might recommend. Dedicated to Logan W. for idea

If someone is to ask me what kind of historical fiction I would recommend, first of all I might freeze because historical fiction is very broad, and not just in different time periods. I've had a chance to read historical fiction novels that take place about 10,000 years ago to ones that take place in 1980s (ugh why is 1980s historical fiction? Am I that old?) And it's not just time periods, it's also what type of historical fiction one might enjoy. Do you want to read stories that focus more on psychology, drama and intrigue, ones that are detailed, or do you want to read stories that are focused more on fighting and battles? There are no wrong answers in deciding what to read or enjoy. So, what type of period are you interested in? What continent will the time period be set in?

In how to get started, first of all figure out what type of period you might want to learn more about, maybe you want to know more about WWII, or more about American Revolution, or even more about China. Some time periods, like WWII are extremely broad in terms of historical fiction because the whole world joined in WWII,  and if one is to narrow that down, maybe to Europe, then let's think what country and from who's point of view you would like to read. (Maybe more about German Jews, maybe about countries that were forcibly taken over by Germans, maybe about American soldiers during WWII, maybe even a fantasy or a mystery set during WWII)

About Me:

I love historical fiction and read and review very frequently on my blog. Thanks to some wonderful book tours in past and present, I've gotten to know a lot of wonderful authors and literature which I'll be happy to recommend. I love psychology, drama and intrigue when it comes to historical fiction. I love getting to know the people behind the events and seeing their growth in different ways. This is a short list, and by no means exhaustive.

Here are my favorite historical fiction reads in no particular order

1. Gone with the wind by Margaret Mitchell

Summary: Gone with the wind explores the depths of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the bluff red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it brings the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction vividly to life.

This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, ruthless daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War sweep away the life for which her upbringing has prepared her. After the fall of Atlanta she returns to the plantation and by stubborn shrewdness saves her home from both Sherman and the carpetbaggers. But in the process she hardens. She has neared starvation and she vows never to be hungry again.
In these vivid pages live the unforgettable people who have captured the attention of millions of readers-of every age, in every walk of life. Here are Rhett Butler, Scarlett’s counterpart, a professional scoundrel as courageous as Scarlett herself; Melanie Wilkes, a loyal friend and true gentlewoman; and Ashley Wilkes, for whom the world ended at Appomattox. Here are all the characters and memorable episodes that make Gone with the Wind a book to read and re-read and remember forever.

Why I Love it: Aside from unfortunate racism of the time, what's not to love about this wonderful book? It's extremely detailed when it comes Scarlet O'Hara and her life a bit prior, during and after Civil War. There is a lot of psychology when it comes to figuring out Scarlet and watching her grow from a spoiled southern belle to a resourceful woman who refuses to be dependent on anyone. Scarlet is someone you love to hate. Also, it's a type of book that you just want to keep going on and on. (Seriously, 1000+ pages is too short.)

2. The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George

Summary: This is the story of England's most famous, and notorious, king.

Henry was a charismatic, ardent - and brash - young lover who married six times; a scholar with a deep love of poetry and music; an energetic hunter who loved the outdoors; a monarch whose lack of a male heir haunted him incessantly; and a ruthless leader who would stop at nothing to achieve his desires. His monumental decision to split from Rome and the Catholic Church was one that would forever shape the religious and political landscape of Britain.

Combining magnificent storytelling with an extraordinary grasp of the pleasures and perils of power, Margaret George delivers a vivid portrait of Henry VIII and Tudor England and the powerhouse of players on its stage: Thomas Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More and Anne Boleyn. It is also a narrative told from an original perspective: Margaret George writes from the King's point of view, injecting irreverent comments from Will Somers - Henry's jester and confidant.

Why I Love it: When I say that the author has talent and ability to get into Henry VIII's head, I am not joking. I honestly felt transported back in time, sitting next to Henry VIII and listening to him describe his life in great amount of detail. I love the details, feeling as if I am living in late 1490s to 1500s and being part of Henry VIII's life. PS: The author has recently released her first book about Nero, (have to wait until October of 2018 for part 2 to come out...) which is also a wonderful read, so be sure to check it out.

3. The Golem and the Djini by Helene Wecker

Summary: Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

Why I Love it: It's a fantasy, philosophical, unique and very beautifully written. The author truly brings to life the New York of early 20th century through Chava's and Djini's eyes. I may have read it years ago, but I still recall the wonder and amazement of the sentences.

4. The Color of Light by Helen Maryles Shankman

Summary:NEW YORK CITY, 1992. At the American Academy of Classical Art, popular opinion has it that the school’s handsome and mysterious founder, Raphael Sinclair, is a vampire. It is a rumor Rafe does nothing to dispel.

Scholarship student Tessa Moss has long dreamed of the chance to study at Rafe’s Academy. But she is floundering amidst the ups and downs of a relationship with egotistical art star Lucian Swain.
Then, one of Tessa’s sketches catches Rafe’s attention: a drawing of a young woman in 1930s clothing who is covering the eyes of a child. The suitcase at her feet says Wizotsky. Sofia Wizotsky, the love of Rafe’s life, was lost during the Holocaust.

Or was she? Rafe suspects Tessa may be the key to discovering what really happened.

As Rafe finds excuses to interact with Tessa, they cannot deny their growing attraction to one another. It is an attraction forbidden by the Academy Board and disapproved of by anyone familiar with Rafe’s playboy reputation and Tessa’s softhearted innocence.

But Tessa senses the truth: despite his wealth, his women, and his townhouse filled with rare and beautiful treasures, Rafe is a haunted man…for reasons that have nothing to do with the rumors they whisper about him at school.

Intensely romantic and deeply moving, The Color of Light blends fact and fantasy in an unforgettable tale of art and passion, love and war, guilt and forgiveness, spanning the New York art scene, high-fashion magazine publishing, the glittering café society of pre-World War II Paris, and the evil stalking the back roads of Nazi-occupied Europe.

Why I Love it: Umm, two words that I doubt I'll ever use to describe a book: vampires plus Holocaust. Like The Golem and the Djini, it's also a heartbreaking and wonderful read about a man whose dreams were shattered and who is trying to survive.

5. The Prince's Doom by David Blixt

Summary: The explosive fourth novel in the Star-Cross'd series! Verona has won its war with Padua, lost its war with the stars. The young prodigy Cesco now turns his troubled brilliance to darker purposes, embracing a riotous life and challenging not only the lord of Verona, but the stars themselves.

For once Pietro Alaghieri welcomes the many plots and intrigues of the Veronese court, hoping they will shake Cesco out of his torpor. But when the first body falls, it becomes clear that this new game is deadly, and will only to doom them all.

Why I Love it: I cannot believe that I read Prince's Doom few years back because it's yet another book that stayed with me even if I read it once. Although it's part of the series, it's a good stand-alone, and will encourage the reader to get the previous three books. Francesco 'Cesco' is perhaps one of my favorite male characters crush because of his wittiness, charm and ability to poke at himself. I found myself laughing and chuckling at a lot of numerous lines. Aside from Cesco, Italy of 1300s is vividly brought to life and despite the lenght it's an exciting and page-turning read. Okay, now I really must read the first three books...

Stay tuned for more of my historical fiction recommendations...

Book Spotlight for More Than A Soldier: One Army Ranger's Daring Escape From the Nazis by D.M. Annechino

In either May or June, stay tuned for a review for this book!

Book Description:

Feeling a patriotic duty to defend his country after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, seventeen year old, Angelo J. DiMarco, enlists in the U.S. Army. Severely short of frontline fighters, the Army rushes Angelo through Ranger training and sends him to Italy as part of the 1st Ranger Battalion. Their objective: stop the German invasion.

Fighting on the front lines in Italy, the German’s teach Angelo a sobering lesson on life when they capture him during the bloody battle of Cisterna. Against insurmountable odds, Angelo miraculously escapes in a way that stretches the imagination. He survives behind enemy lines for over five months, hiding from the Germans and trying to outmaneuver them. He begs for food, sleeps in barns and suffers from many ailments, including dehydration, malnutrition, malaria and exposure to the elements.

More Than a Soldier is Angelo DiMarco’s powerful story of survival, resilience and courage.

Praise for More Than a Soldier:

Annechino colorfully draws the actions scenes, and richly brings the supporting cast of characters to life. A moving tale of survival in war-torn Europe.
- Kirkus Reviews

Nuanced and eloquently written, More Than a Soldier adds to the body of WWII literature an extraordinary story of survival and a deeply affecting portrait of a soldier’s coming-of-age.
- The iRead Review

Buy the Book:

Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

Daniel M. Annechino, a former book editor, wrote his first book, How to Buy the Most Car for the Least Money, while working as a General Manager in the automobile business. But his passion had always been fiction, particularly thrillers. He spent two years researching serial killers before finally penning his gripping and memorable debut novel They Never Die Quietly. He has written and published five novels—all thrillers. But his latest work, More Than a Soldier, is a Historical Biography set in Italy during WWII.

A native of New York, Annechino now lives in San Diego with his wife, Jennifer. He loves to cook, enjoys a glass of vintage wine, and spends lots of leisure time on the warm beaches of Southern California.

Connect with the Author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook


April 24 - Library of Clean Reads - book spotlight / giveaway
April 24 - Puddletown Reviews - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
April 25 - Working Mommy Journal - book spotlight / giveaway
April 26 - A Mama's Corner of the World - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
April 27 - Books, Dreams, Life - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
April 28 - 100 Pages A Day - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
April 28 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - book spotlight
May 1 -    My Reading Journeys - book spotlight / giveaway
May 2 -    Il Mio Tesoro - book spotlight / guest post
May 2 -    Leels Loves Books - book spotlight
May 3 -    fundinmental - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
May 4 -    A Soccer Mom's Book Blog - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway 
May 4 -    T's Stuff - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 4 -    Writers and Authors - guest post
May 5 -    Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - book spotlight / guest post
May 7 -    Writers and Authors - book spotlight / giveaway
May 8 -    Cheryl's Book Nook - book spotlight / giveaway
May 8 -    Deal Sharing Aunt - book spotlight / giveaway
May 9 -    Kristin's Novel Cafe - book spotlight / author interview
May 10 -  Nighttime Reading Center - book spotlight / giveaway
May 11 -  Books for Books - book spotlight
May 12 -  Celticlady's Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
May 12 -  Rockin' Book Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 15 -  The Autistic Gamer - book spotlight
May 16 -  Bound 2 Escape - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
May 17 -  Blooming with Books - book spotlight / giveaway
May 18 -  Lukten av Trykksverte - book spotlight / giveaway
May 19 -  Essentially Italian - book spotlight / giveaway

G808 Book Review of The Queen's Maid of Honour by Michael Stolle

Name of Book: The Queen's Maid of Honour

Author: Michael Stolle

ISBN: 9781530621156

Publisher: Self Published

Part of a Series: The French Orphan

Type of book: Catholics vs Protestants, King, secret service for king, friendship, 1643, adventures, seduction, goals, revenge, fortuntelling, Oliver Cromwell, the Queen

Year it was published: 2016


The year is 1643. The scheming Cardinal Mazarin is now Prime Minister of France, but on the other side of the Channel, unrest in England grows daily, as civil war is erupting. As the political situation in England deteriorates, the royal court flees London for Oxford, and King Charles is desperate to secure both funding and troops to come to his aid.

Mazarin, every bit as devious as his predecessor, Richelieu, engages the services of François de Toucy to save the Queen of England, a former royal princess of France. François and his friends will set sail for England, in a quest to ensure the safety of the queen.

Whilst François is walking a diplomatic tightrope across the political cauldron of the royal court, his friend Armand falls desperately in love with the Queen’s Maid of Honour, a lady as beautiful as she is cunning.

Soon the friends find themselves deeply entangled in a deadly combination of cut-throat politics, disasters on the battlefield and bitter machinations at court over love and war and the struggle between Protestants and Catholics that threaten to spell only death and disaster.


The author makes Elizabeth and Francois as well as Armand as the main characters, which is a good move on his part. Francois adds an interesting dimension to the story and he himself is fascinating. I do hope if there will be future installments then Francois will continue to be the main character. Elizabeth is one of his more complex heroines because she desires few things and is willing to do whatever she can for her goals. Towards the end, I ended up being disappointed in how the author planned her out. Armand continues to be his charming devil may care self. Of course there is also Henri who continues to succeed in some ways and get necessary for his dastardly deeds. I like that although he cannot get his main goal, he does succeed in other goals, and I am curious about how he survived, which I'm not sure if the author addressed or not. There are other characters as well but I think it will be more fun for the reader to discover them.


Sometimes you may not get what you desire and that's okay


The story is in third person narrative from multiple characters points of view, mainly Francois, Elizabeth and Armand. Yes, Pierre also makes an appearance, but this time he plays more of a secondary character rather than main. What I also liked is development of Elizabeth, although I'll admit that towards the end the author disappointed me with her development and perhaps I think I would have liked there to be more scenes between Elizabeth and the person she ended up with. The characters changed little if at all, but I think its part of the story's charm.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Born and educated on the Continent, Michael has spent most of his working outside the UK. ALthough an Economics graduate, Michael's first love has always been history, and he indulges hsi thrist for reading at every opportunity.

It was during yet another tedious business trip and a severe lack fo suitable reading matter that the characters of Pierre, Armand, and Henri came to mind; once they were conceived, so to speak, it was only a matter of time before they became real and took over any free time Michael had. The rest, as they say, is history. Or historical fiction, perhaps...


This is much better than its three predecessors. In beginning, with Elizabeth, this is exactly what I meant when I wished that the author would give women more function than just being there for one reason. Elizabeth is brave, smart and complex in terms of what she wants and what she is willing to do to gain her desires. Francois, Armand's cousin, moves on to being one of the main characters instead of being relegated to the background, which is a smart move by the author, and yes, multiple characters in one way or another do make an appearance in the book; Pierre, Armand, Charles, Henri, (of course) as well as new characters like Oliver Cromwell. The British king and his wife are there as well. Something I'd like to add is if one is confused by 1640s history, then this series is a perfect way of clearing up history because it's styled simply and understandably.

This is for HFBT

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.)

G807 Book Review of under the Spell of the serenissima by Michael Stolle

Name of Book: under the Spell of the serenissima

Author: Michael Stolle

ISBN: 97814942117594

Publisher: Self published

Part of a Series: The French Orphan

Type of book: 1642 or 1643, Italy, France, travel, friendship, adult, Cardinal Mazarin, ring, the templars, revenge, relationships, trapped

Year it was published: 2013


The third in the French Orphan series follows the exploits of Pierre, former penniless orphan who discovers he is heir to the de Beauvoir inheritance.

So far, Pierre has found friends in unexpected places, been surprised by love, learned the true meaning of friendship, discovered the extent of human cunning and depravity and dodged numerous attempts by his closest family member to despatch him to the next world.

In Under the Spell of the Serenissima Pierre’s search for the third Templar ring continues, but as ever, his path is not a smooth one. Pierre and Armand, along with Jean and Edoardo, are making for Venice, unaware that others too are racing towards the beautiful city, some intending to help, others with far more sinister motives.

As the various characters are drawn inexorably towards Venice, a conclusion will be played out that must decide Pierre’s fate, one way or another…


There are a lot of characters, but I will cover only a few; first of all is Pierre who is a French Marques as well as a British Duke. He is intelligent, a bit naive and is in love with Marie, although that doesn't stop him from feeling affection towards other women. Armand is Pierre's best friend who is more worldly and knowledgeable and is also a bit of a playboy. Jean is Pierre's devoted valet who is talented in fighting and also has premonitions of sorts. Francois is Armand's cousin who seems to have love/hate relationship with Armand and who is best described as sort of a dandy as a cover while in reality he is very hardworking and loyal to his mother and sisters. The villains include Henri, Pierre's villanous cousin who desires to the title of Marques and who looks like Pierre. (Many characters get the two confused) The Contessa, a beautiful, deadly and mysterious woman who seems to enjoy sucking men from their money. It's rumored quite a few men died just to be with her, and Nicolas, Henri's former/current lover who is seeking revenge against Pierre and Armand.


Don't judge a book by its cover, or in this case, don't judge people by their covers


The story is in third person narrative omniscient point of view from Pierre's, Armand's, Henry's and Nicolas's points of view. (I am pretty sure that there are few other characters involved, but I cannot recall who they might be.) In this novel, the women are portrayed a little bit better than the previous two books, but I still think the author needs to work on developing their characters/personalities. Although I understand about the double standard between men and women, that it's okay for men to have multiple lovers while women are expected to be devoted to one man, I am still uncomfortable reading that aspect of the story. The series, in my opinion, is beginning to be a bit addictive because one does become curious about the multiple roles that the characters play.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Born and educated on the Continent, Michael has spent most of his working outside the UK. ALthough an Economics graduate, Michael's first love has always been history, and he indulges hsi thrist for reading at every opportunity.

It was during yet another tedious business trip and a severe lack fo suitable reading matter that the characters of Pierre, Armand, and Henri came to mind; once they were conceived, so to speak, it was only a matter of time before they became real and took over any free time Michael had. The rest, as they say, is history. Or historical fiction, perhaps...


To me it feels that the author is getting better with each successive book of the French Orphan series, which is a good thing. Like previous books, this one contains the "lovable" cousin Henri who seems to have nine lives of sorts, and again Henry is messing with the heroes, this time when they travel to Italy for the mysterious ring. On top of Henry's machinations, the infamous Cardinal Mazarin of the Three Musketeers fame also makes an appearance in order to attempt to steal the diamond away. Along with the old favorites such as Pierre, Armand, Jean, Pierre's cousin and love interest as well as Armand's cousin, new characters such as The Contessa and Julia as well as her influential aunt also appear. Again, while the writing may be similar to the original Three Musketeers, due to possible numerous threesomes, I wouldn't recommend the book for young adults.

This is for HFVBT

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.)

Friday, April 28, 2017

G867 Book Review of The mourning ring by Sarah Parke

Name of Book: The Mourning Ring

Author: Sarah Parke

ISBN: 9781539635734

Publisher: Self published

Type of book: 1832, England, Bronte siblings, fantasy, Angria, Glass Town, kingdom, fairies, secrets, stories, creativity, group effort

Year it was published: 2016


Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Bronte lives to tell stories. She longs to improve her fortunes through her writing. Charlotte’s father expects her to leave behind her childish fantasies in order to set an example for her three younger siblings.

But the Bronte children hold a secret in their veins—a smidgeon of fairy blood that can bring their words to life.

When Charlotte discovers that the characters from their childish stories exist in an alternate world called Glass Town, she jumps at the opportunity to be the heroine of her own tale.

The city of Angria teeters on the brink of civil war and Charlotte and her siblings must use their magic and their wits to save its people from a tyrant with magic abilities. But entering the fictional world means forfeiting control of their own creations. If they fail, the characters they have come to know and love will be destroyed.

Charlotte is determined to save the city and characters she loves, but when the line between creator and character becomes blurred, will she choose her fantasy or her family?


Main characters include Charlotte, the eldest sibling of the quartet who feels responsible for her younger siblings and she seems to hesitate on letting them grow up a bit, at least in beginning. She feels responsible for everything and wants to fix things herself without any help. Emily, I believe is the second oldest sister who secretly enjoys dressing masculine clothes (Charlotte thinks its because Emily doesn't have feminine clothes that fit her) and she tends to sleep-walk. If I'm not mistaken she and Branwell often butt heads over various things. Branwell is the only boy in the family and I believe he feels like he is the odd one out. He doesn't feel appreciated by his siblings and often seems to be more selfish than anything. Anne is the youngest sister who is very curious and who also tends to be malleable, or so Branwell hopes. She is also observant.


Stories are powerful


The story is in third person narrative from the four Bronte siblings' point of view; that is Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell tell the tale of their journey to the fantasy world. My favorite parts of the story include the beginning, seeing how connected the siblings are to one another through their stories as well as when Charlotte learns a secret about her ancestry because due to what I knew about the siblings, the beginning, I feel, is extremely beautiful to their sad lives. The rest of the story for me, moves in a slow motion and asks the reader to be involved with the characters and their decisions for better or worse.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Sarah Parke writes fantasy and historical fiction (sometimes at the same time) for young adult readers.

When she's not researching her next project or writing, Sarah likes tor ead, scrapbook, and watch Netflix with her husband and their cats.

For more informationa bout Sarah, visit her website at or follow her on Twitter @SParkeAuthor.


My only experience with the Bronte siblings is Emily's book, Wuthering Heights which is a tortured love story about Heathcliff and Catherine. I haven't read books by Charlotte Bronte nor Anne Bronte (Branwell never published a story of his own) I recall reading some facts about the Bronte siblings, namely how close they were to one another, how they were stuck in their own worlds, and how in terms of tragedy they were similar to Edgar Allan Poe (my own comparison because they went through a lot of death just like he has done.) I did read briefly that they created their own fantasy worlds but that is all. When I read the book, I wondered how much of the siblings' books is incorporated into the story? That is, are there some forces in their fantasy world that inspired them to come up with Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights as well as Villette? While I cannot speak for Jane Eyre nor Villette, I can speak a little bit for Wutheirng Heights, and if there were forces that Emily used from the world to incorporate into her novel, these forces aren't visible. Other than that, a fun and creative what-if novel of how possibly the Bronte siblings' fantasy world is like.

This is for HFVBT

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.)

G835 Book Review of shadow of whimsy by Ann Hymes

Name of Book: Shadow of Whimsy

Author: Ann Hymes

ISBN: 978-1-944962-13-5

Publisher: Secant Publishing

Type of book: Massachusetts, fertility issues, love interests, secrets, marriage, relationships, modern times, Cape Cod, life

Year it was published: 2016


Several generations of one family have lived, loved, and lied at Whimsy Towers, a unique oceanfront house in Chatham, Massachusetts. Strong women who refuse to be suffocated by marriage have found excitement and refuge in this house filled with artists and parties. Love surfaces in unexpected ways.

The newest owner, Theresa Alston Crandall, has just inherited the property and leaves her too-predictable husband in Virginia to spend time on the Cape and unravel family secrets and history. She swims, reflects, explores, and watches dramatic cloud formations float high over the ocean as she sorts through the choices in her path forward.

Romance arrives in the form of a young widower and landscape gardener with an awesome pickup truck, who likes Theresa's dog and provides temptation to stay at Whimsy Towers. Tips of tree branches dance with the weight of birds that seem to scream warnings of danger, and the churning ocean disrupts family continuity.

Theresa learns how her Southern grandmother came to buy a storm-weathered New England house and how loveless marriage is not a mandatory life style. The final decision feels just right.


Main characters include Theresa Alston Crandall, a beautiful and imaginative brunette who recently is going through fertility issues and is separated for the first time from her husband Kevin. She knows very little about the ancenstral home of her family and desires to learn more about home. Kevin is Theresa's husband who is best described as extremely practical and trustworthy of Theresa. Gypsy is Theresa's dog who can be seen as a surrogate child. There are also other characters such as Theresa's grandmother, her father and mother as well as love interests. Theresa's grandmother is best described as someone with an unconventional life while Theresa's mother is someone who loved the sea, and Theresa's father is someone who is devoted to her mother. I recall that the first love interest is a gardener, while the second one is a widower


I have read the story from cover to cover, but I think the lesson that the author wanted me to learn-to take a chance- wasn't strong for me.


The story is in third person narrative from Theresa's point of view. A number of things about the characters seemed to be repetitious a lot which killed my enjoyment, and while the scene and the characters' backgrounds were the story's strong points, the characters and the plot were not as strong as the background and descriptions of scenery. I didn't appreciate being constantly reminded that Theresa painted her toe nails red because her husband finds the purchase frivolous, and while I am sorry that Theresa is going through some fertility issues, it was annoying on how she constantly brought it up in the book.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Ann Hymes is a retired real estate broken and mother of two grown daughters. She has a BA in English from Mills College and an MA in English from Washington College. Her published work includes creative nonfiction. An active international volunteer, including service in the Peace Corprs in the 1960s, Ann lives in St. Michaels, Maryland. SHe may be reached at


I found the book to both be charming yet in some parts a bit annoying. It's a short book with extremely vivid scenery about the property that the main character's family owns which I've enjoyed, but I do think that the characters needed more work to be honest. The scenery descriptions were reminiscent quite a bit of Mariah Stewart, but the characters, much to mine disappointment were not fully fleshed out but seemed to have very few attributes to them. Also, the book cover is very beautiful and gorgeous. (something that attracted my 13 month old son to constantly take it off the book)

This is for Book Junkie Promotions

3 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.)

Monday, April 24, 2017

G848 Assata Shakur; a 20th century Escaped Slave

Title of the book:Assata Shakur; a 20th century Escaped Slave

Author: Barbara Casey

Publisher: Strategic media Books

Publishing Date: 2017

ISBN: 978-1939521606


In May 1973, Assata Olugbala Shakur was involved in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike in which she was accused of killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster and assaulting Trooper James Harper. This resulted in her indictment of first-degree murder of Foerster and seven other felonies related to the shootout. A member of the Black Panther Party, she became a prime target of the Federal Bureau of Investigations Counterintelligence Program. When she joined the Black Liberation Army and went into hiding, between 1973 and 1977, she was placed on the FBIs Most Wanted List for three bank robberies, the kidnapping and murder of two drug dealers, and the attempted murder of two New Jersey police officers. In March 1977 Assata Shakur was convicted of murdering state trooper Werner Forrester and was imprisoned. Two years later she broke out of the maximum-security wing of Clinton Correctional Facility in New Jersey, pistol in hand, as she and three cohorts sped out of the prison grounds. In 1984 she was granted political asylum in Cuba where she has lived ever since. On May 2, 2013, the FBI added her to the Most Wanted Terrorist List, the first woman to be listed. "Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave" is the story of Assata Shakur, before she became a fugitive and since.

Author Info:
(From the book)

Barbara Casey's numerous award-winning novels include THe Gospel Accordign to Prissy, the House of Kane, The Coach's Wife, The Cadence of Gypsies, and The Wish Rider. She also has another work of nonfiction, Kathryn Kely: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly, which has been optioned for a movie. and television series. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant for independent publishers and writers, and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, established in 1995, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix; Fitz, a miniature dachshund; and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

Connect with the author:  Website

Personal Opinion:

Prior to this book, I have never heard of Assata Shakur who, apparently has some relation to the infamous rapper, Tupac Shakur. I didn't know who she was, nor what role she has played in various governments. It's actually a first time I'm trying out a true crime read. The book may look slim but its filled with a lot of interesting information, especially how it seems history tends to repeat itself because even back then, people of African-American descent fought over police brutality as well as equality, or lack of equality. What worked for me is that the subject matter as well as the research are very well done in presenting the '60s and tactics used by African-American groups and the government agencies. I also was intrigued by the symbol that Assata Shakur became as well as the tough decision that government of Cuba as well as government of US have to overcome. Should the bygones be bygones or should Assata still be judged by her previous deeds? While the story worked as a big picture, for me it didn't work as a small picture because I feel that I didn't really get to know Assata Shakur as a person, and it feel as if the insider perspective is lacking because a lot of her formative years prior to her extradition to Cuba the story is all tell and very little show.

This is for iRead Book Tours

3 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.)

Monday, April 17, 2017

G837 Book Review of The last chance matinee by Mariah Stewart

Name of Book: The Last Chance Matinee

Author: Mariah Stewart

ISBN: 978-15015991-6

Publisher: Gallery Books

Part of a Series: The Hudson Sisters Trilogy

Type of book: Yoga, healthy eating, life changes, secrets, sisterhood, relationships, women's fiction, Pennsylvania, contemporary times, renovating, details, slow build, building relationships

Year it was published: 2017


From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes the first novel in her all-new series, The Hudson Sisters, following a trio of reluctant sisters as they set out to fulfill their father’s dying wish. In the process, they find not only themselves, but the father they only thought they knew.

When celebrated and respected agent Fritz Hudson passes away, he leaves a trail of Hollywood glory in his wake—and two separate families who never knew the other existed. Allie and Des Hudson are products of Fritz’s first marriage to Honora, a beautiful but troubled starlet whose life ended in a tragic overdose. Meanwhile, Fritz was falling in love on the Delaware Bay with New Age hippie Susa Pratt—they had a daughter together, Cara, and while Fritz loved Susa with everything he had, he never quite managed to tell her or Cara about his West Coast family.

Now Fritz is gone, and the three sisters are brought together under strange circumstances: there’s a large inheritance to be had that could save Allie from her ever-deepening debt following a disastrous divorce, allow Des to open a rescue shelter for abused and wounded animals, and give Cara a fresh start after her husband left her for her best friend—but only if the sisters upend their lives and work together to restore an old, decrepit theater that was Fritz’s obsession growing up in his small hometown in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Guided by Fritz’s closest friend and longtime attorney, Pete Wheeler, the sisters come together—whether they like it or not—to turn their father’s dream into a reality, and might just come away with far more than they bargained for.


The characters are very fleshed out and each have complex and different personalities, from the sisters to residents of Hidden Falls. Main characters are the three sisters; Cara is the youngest sister I believe, a thoughtful and sweet redhead who became recently divorced and is into yoga, eating healthily and she has had a wholesome upbringing thanks to her mom and her dad. She was close to both of them. She also loves the small town and is considering making a major change in her life. Des is Allie's younger sister who has talent for acting but wishes she didn't and who is very good with finances and money. She also has a soft spot for dogs and devotes her life to taking care of them. She is a bit more willing to try to work things out with her sisters and has never been married. Allie is the oldest sister who has a secret of drinking alcohol and who also has a daughter named Nikki. Throughout the story she is best described as a porcupine and someone who wants to do the job and then leave. She is prickly and doesn't try to be close to anyone. Nikki is Allie's daughter who seems to be complete opposite of her mother and whom others dote on. Aunt Barney is their aunt, their father's older sister who is best described as practical minded yet has a big heart and wants to do the right thing.


People all have hidden sides to them


The story is in third person narrative from Cara's point of view. At times Cara's two sisters, Allie and Des also narrate things from their points of view, but the main focus is on Cara. The pacing of the book is very slow, but that's part of the charm; to kick back, relax and enjoy the read without worries. The pacing also allows for the reader to see the relationships between the sisters and their aunt and niece and of them learning and trying to discover the father they thought they knew. For me personally, I can't find anything I disliked or will want to criticize, except that I have to wait until 2018 until the second book comes out?

Author Information:
(From the book)

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York TImes and USA TODAY bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories. A native Highstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambuctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of CHester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tens to her gardens while she works on ehr next novel. Visit her website at, like her on Facebook at, and follow her on Instagram @mariah_sewart_books


While I enjoy reading the Chesapeake Diaries a great deal, I often feel that there is a limit of sorts when it comes to the length of the story; In this book, the author took a chance and has wowed and astounded me with the story, especially how addictive it is from start to finish, and  there is the classic Mariah Stewart touch in descriptions from yoga to the small town of Hidden Falls to how the sisters attempt to get to know one another. I also am hoping that the author will answer some questions about the girls' father in her future books about the sisters and how he managed to get away with a number of things. Just like in Chesapeake Diaries, the fictional town is brought to life through the memorable residents, beautiful scenery and relationships between the people living there. If Chesapeake Diaries are your favorite reads, don't miss this book and give it a chance.

This was given to me for a review

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.)

G861 Book Review of Mama's Knight; a cancer story of love by Aurora Whittet

Title of the book: Mama's Knight; a cancer story of love

Author: Aurora Whittet

Publisher: Wise Ink Publishing

Publishing Date: 2016

ISBN: 978-1-945769-08-5


Once upon a time . . . It’s how all heroes begin their story, and you’re a hero, too! Your mama has cancer, and it’s a scary journey, but you can help your mama just by being you—special, wonderful, YOU. Your mama loves you just the way you are. You are your mama’s knight.

Mama’s Knight: A Cancer Story of Love is an emotional toolbox that can help kids and parents communicate about what it means for Mama to have cancer. The book is filled with tools and activities designed to make coping with illness easier on both parent and child, and can be personalized for each child.

Author Info:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Meet the Author:

Aurora Whittet started out as a wild red-haired girl in Minnesota dreaming up stories for her friends to read. Today, she has completed Bloodmark, Bloodrealms, and Bloodmoon of the Bloodmark Saga trilogy and started her journey into children’s books with Mama’s Knight in honor of her own mother who lost her battle with cancer. She’s a national award-winning graphic designer and birth doula in her day jobs. Aurora lives with her family in Minnesota.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Author's Website

Personal Opinion:

I really don't know how to begin my review. While I loved the book, especially the diverse illustrations of children and women, I hope it's not a book that I will be using it soon. The book is designed to be personalized for the child, and I can imagine that all sorts of people, from those with cancer to some mental illnesses can use the format to explain to the child what is going on, and to show the child how much they care for them. All in all, a beautiful story designed to show the child how much they mean to you through this difficult time

This is for iRead Book Tours


April 3 - Library of Clean Reads - book spotlight / giveaway
April 4 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
April 5 - Cheryl's Book Nook - review / author interview / giveaway
April 6 - Books, Dreams, Life - review / author interview / giveaway
April 7 - 100 pages a day - review / guest post / giveaway
April 10 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
April 11 - Heidi's Wanderings - review / giveaway
April 12 - Fantastic Feathers - review
April 13 - ReadingBifrost - review / giveaway
April 14 - T's Stuff - review / guest post / giveaway
April 17 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
April 18 - Deal Sharing Aunt - review / giveaway
April 19 - FUONLYKNEW - review / author interview / giveaway
April 20 - Book Room Reviews - review / guest post
April 21 - Kristin's Novel Cafe - review
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.)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

G821 Book Review of the confessions of young nero by Margaret George

Name of Book: The Confessions of Young nero

Author: Margaret George

ISBN: 978-0-451-47338-7

Publisher: Berkley Books

Type of book: Rome, Emperor Nero, 40 ME-64? ME, Acte, creativity, torn, secrets, poisonings, marriages, tradition vs innovation, changes, life, love, mentoring, passion

Year it was published: 2017


The New York Times bestselling and legendary author of Helen of Troy and Elizabeth I now turns her gaze on Emperor Nero, one of the most notorious and misunderstood figures in history.

Built on the backs of those who fell before it, Julius Caesar's imperial dynasty is only as strong as the next person who seeks to control it. In the Roman Empire no one is safe from the sting of betrayal: man, woman or child.

As a boy, Nero's royal heritage becomes a threat to his very life, first when the mad emperor Caligula tries to drown him, then when his great aunt attempts to secure her own son's inheritance. Faced with shocking acts of treachery, young Nero is dealt a harsh lesson: it is better to be cruel than dead.

While Nero idealizes the artistic and athletic principles of Greece, his very survival rests on his ability to navigate the sea of vipers that is Rome. The most lethal of all is his own mother, a cold-blooded woman whose singular goal is to control the empire. With cunning and poison, the obstacles fall one by one. But as Agrippina's machinations earn her son a title he is both tempted and terrified to assume, Nero's determination to escape her thrall will shape him into the man he was fated to become, an Emperor who became legendary.

With impeccable research and captivating prose, The Confessions of Young Nero is the story of a boy's ruthless ascension to the throne. Detailing his journey from innocent youth to infamous ruler, it is an epic tale of the lengths to which man will go in the ultimate quest for power and survival.


I have to say that the author is a master when it comes to working with and creating various characters because they all feel lifelike, ready to jump off of the pages into one's life. First is Nero, a young imaginative and impressionable boy who has been dealt a heavy fate of being born into the family of Caesars where poison and threats against life are common., The reader literally watches Nero grow up from an imaginative young boy to a young man who is torn between tradition and innovation as well as being torn between his good self and his bad self. Nero is extremely creative, generous, imaginative, and unafraid of spending money on bettering his image. There is also Nero's mother, an extremely ambitious woman who doesn't understand nor appreciates her son but who is is single-minded in getting Nero to be emperor by any means necessary be it murder, poisoning, etc. She is also extremely controlling and is not someone one would want to get on her bad side. Other characters include Nero's stepfather, Nero's numerous friends, mentors and teachers as well as his lovers and yes, each one is memorable and stands out in the book.


Unlimited power does not equal happiness


The story is in first person narrative from Nero's point of view, although a few times the story does get interrupted by Acte or Locusta. In terms of plot and characters as well as details and bringing the ancient Rome to life, the author has done an excellent job in re-creating how Nero might have been like thousands of years ago. While reading it, I did feel that the story was incomplete and that the book seems to suffer without a second part. I am also a bit grateful that the Romans are portrayed more sympathetically when it comes to different faiths. (One of the things they are well known for is tolerance, believe it or not.) I didn't feel comfortable with the way the Jewish religion was portrayed as being for snobs though (At least how Nero saw Judaism thanks to Poppaea, pg.444 of my copy)

Author Information:
(From the book)

Margaret George, who lives in Madison Wisconsin, comes from a Southern basckground and has traveled extensively. After reading numerous novels that viewed Henry VIII through the eyes of his enemies and victims, she became determined to let Henry speak for himself, and it took fifteen years, about three hundred books of background reading, three visits to England to see every extant building associated with Henry, and five handwritten drafts for her to answer the question: what was Henry really like?

She is also the author of two other highly acclaimed novels, Mary Queen of Soctland and the Isle and The Memoirs of Cleopatra


Previously I read and reviewed the author's The Autobiography of Henry VIII, which I've really loved. I'm really unsure on how to begin the review; but I will begin with what I loved about The Confessions of Young Nero; first of all I loved Nero's character which will make anyone who is a competitor or an artist understand the pain he is going through. I loved how torn he felt between what he called the good and the bad Nero, and I also loved how I felt as if I could relate to him. The psychology of Nero in the book is very fascinating and if the author's goal was to rehabilitate Nero, she has done an excellent job. Nero's life as well as the characters and the little details about that she placed in the book has really made the author a master of the craft. I also liked that she included Petronius in the book, and am curious if she was trying to send a message by the type of flowers that Nero's bride wears to her wedding (I know the narcissus and hyacinth myths, but what is the myth of roses?) Nero is not a saint in the book, but its obvious, or so it seems, that a lot of things he had supposedly done are exaggerated. There are two things I didn't like in the book, which I will mention: I did not appreciate that in the book Judaism is seen negatively thanks to Poppaea, and I also feel that Nero being split in two parts is not exactly good because the story feels very incomplete and without the second half, it lacks the tautness and excitement that Henry VIII had.

I won this at first reads goodreads giveaway

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.)

G844 Book Review of the varangian by Bruce Macbain

Name of Book: The Varangian

Author: Bruce McBain

ISBN: 978-1-943075-24-9

Publisher: Blank Slate Press

Part of a Series: Odd Tangle-Hair's Saga

Type of book: Greece, 1037-1042, guard, castration, control, Constantinople, Sicily, war, ruling, siblings, power, peasantry, emperors, empresses, Varangians, eunuchs, secret religions

Year it was published: 2016


The Varangianis the final entry in Bruce Macbain's Odd Tangle-Hair Saga and brings Odd's challenging adventures to a climactic and satisfying finish. On a secret diplomatic mission to the Emperor's court in Miklagard, the Viking's name for Constantinople, Odd meets the members of the fearsome Varangian Guard whose elite Viking members served as the Emperor's personal bodyguards. Harald, his former master and the man he's been sent to murder, now serves among the guards. Court intrigue and imperial dynastic disputes provide the backdrop for the conflict between Odd and Harald. LikeOdin's ChildandThe Ice Queenbefore it, The Varangianis dictated by Odd to a young scribe whose own life is changed by the telling of the tale."


There are quite a few main characters; Odd Tangle-hair is the protagonist who is in late 20s and comes from Iceland to pursue his enemies. He is best described as very resourceful, talented in languages and very well liked. Harald seems to be Odd's frenemy, that is they are friends but then happen to be enemies. Harald is ruthless but at the same time has a little bit of decency and once he gives a vow, he doesn't break it. He is not talented in languages and is forced to rely either on Odd or another man to be his ears. He also is loyal to Yelisaveta and is determined to provide as much comfort as he can. Psellus is a Greek man whom Odd meets and the two become extremely good friends. Psellus is an intellectual and helps teach Odd about the Greek government and so forth. Zoe is an empress that has face of perpetual youth and who is interested in creating lotions as well as perfumes. For her whole life she has been mistreated and been denied a choice in just about everything. Selene will become Odd's wife and she is daring, not afraid of cross dressing. There are plenty of other characters, but it will take a long time to discuss them.


Homeland has strong ties


The story is written in first person narrative, although from time to time, other characters are written in third person point of view. I imagine that if the reader read the previous two books then it offers great continuity because it seems to pick up from where it left off, with Odd landing in Constantinople and trying to pass himself off as a Rus diplomat. Characters from what I think are the previous books are introduced right away, and I feel that the reader is tasked with knowing who they are while very little background information about them is given. The author does write the details about the lands and battles very well and for me the details are not easily forgotten. I also appreciated seeing a little bit of history of my former homeland in the book. I also liked how the story ended with Odd and do wish that some plot points would have been tied up.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Bruce McBain grew up reading histroy and historical fiction and eventually acquired a master's degree in Classical Studies and a doctorate in Ancient History. As an assistant professor of Classics, he taught courses in Late Antiquity and Roman religion and published  a few impenetrable scholaryl monographs, which almost no one read. He eventually left academe and turned to teaching English as a second language, a field he was trained in while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Borneo in the 1960s.

Macbain is also the authro of historical mysteries set in ancient Rome, (Roman Games, 2010, and The Bull Slayer, 2013) feautring Pliny the Younger as his protagonist. Following Odin's Child and The Ice Queen The Varangian is the thrid in his Viking series, Odd Tangle-Hair's Saga.


I previously haven't read the first two books in a series, thus I am new to the protagonist as well as the author. I do strongly feel that the book should be read in continuity with the other two, although I can see instances where it can be a stand-alone. But despite not reading the first two books, I enjoyed the last one and really liked seeing the Greek empire prior to the Crusades, especially learning history of the Byzantium way after 6th century. The history is very unique and memorable, which makes it a positive in my book. What I also enjoyed are the various characters that populate the book from the protagonist himself to Empress Zoe and to Odd's friends and enemies, although in order to fully appreciate the friends and enemies, there is definite need to read the first two books. What I feel I didn't like is that the women weren't drawn in a three dimensional way, and perhaps the author has done it in previous books, but I feel not much is explained about the Viking ways and customs. Towards the end the story speeds up quite a lot and the author leaves us with a cliffhanger about Odd's future.

This is for HFVBT

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.)
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