Monday, April 28, 2014

Flame of Sevenwaters (Book #6 of the Sevenwaters Series) by Juliet Marillier: A Book Review

Flame of Sevenwaters (Book #6 of the Sevenwaters Series)
Author: Juliet Marillier
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Roc
Release Date: 2012
Pages: 448
Source: My State Public Library
Synopsis: Bestselling author Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series has been praised as a “magnificent saga” (Alernative Worlds) that is a “gripping tale of enduring love” (Publishers Weekly). Now, Marillier returns to Sevenwaters with the story of a young woman destined to unlock the secrets of the Otherworld… 

     Maeve, daughter of Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, was badly burned as a child and carries the legacy of that fire in her crippled hands. After ten years, she’s returning home, having grown into a courageous, forthright woman with a special gift for gentling difficult animals. But while her body’s scars have healed, her spirit remains fragile, fearing the shadows of her past.

     Sevenwaters is in turmoil. The fey prince Mac Dara has become desperate to see his only son, married to Maeve’s sister, return to the Otherworld. To force Lord Sean’s hand, Mac Dara has caused a party of innocent travelers on the Sevenwaters border to vanish—only to allow their murdered bodies to be found, one by one.

     When Maeve finds the body of one of the missing men in a remote part of the woods, she and her brother Finbar embark on a journey that may bring about the end of Mac Dara’s reign, or lead to a hideous death. If she is successful, Maeve may open the door to a future she has not dared to believe possible…  

     My Review: This book's protagonist is Maeve, who was severely injured in the fire in Child of the Prophecy and who went to live with her Aunt Liadan in Harrowfield. This book takes place three years after The Seer of Sevenwaters. Maeve returns to Sevenwaters from Harrowfield, and tries to reconcile with her family, whom she hasn’t seen in ten years. Soon, she and her young brother, Finbar finds themselves on a journey to the Otherworld to bring about the end of the evil Mac Dara's reign.

     Maeve is an unlikely heroine. She is severely damaged and physically scarred. She has badly damaged hands, which she cannot use. The author wrote Maeve’s story beautifully because it shows that even though she is handicapped, she is shown to be proven capable of being a heroine. Maeve can at times be difficult and judgmental. She has some bitterness to her family, especially towards her mother, because they look at her with pity because of her disability. However, soon she grows into a strong, sensible, brave, and loving woman that is loyal to her family.

    Also, Ciaran, who is Sorcha’s half-brother, also plays a major role in this story. Ciaran is the character in the Sevenwaters series who has changed the most dramatically. He has always been on a journey to discover his true self. In Flame of Sevenwaters, in order to protect his family, Ciaran realizes that he must  make a choice of self-sacrifice. This book is a great conclusion to his life's journey, and it will leave readers rooting for Ciaran to the end.

     Overall, this book’s theme is about family, love, loyalty, sacrifice, acceptance, and self-discovery. This novel has magic, romance, adventure, and mystery. I recommend this book for lovers of historical fiction, fantasy, and romance and fans of Marion Zimmer Bradley and Irish folklore. I also recommend this book for those who are looking for books that feature protagonists who are special needs or handicapped. This message of the book is to be proud of who your are, and that no matter what your deficiencies are, you have a special talent that makes you unique. After a slight letdown in the previous book in the series, this book finishes the series spectacularly. I am a huge fan of the Sevenwaters series, and I highly recommend it.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier: A Book Review

The Lost Sisterhood
Author: Anne Fortier
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Adventure, Thriller
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: 2014
Pages: 608
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: From the author of the New York Times bestseller Juliet comes a mesmerizing novel about a young scholar who risks her reputation—and her life—on a thrilling journey to prove that the legendary warrior women known as the Amazons actually existed.

     Oxford lecturer Diana Morgan is an expert on Greek mythology. Her obsession with the Amazons started in childhood when her eccentric grandmother claimed to be one herself—before vanishing without a trace. Diana’s colleagues shake their heads at her Amazon fixation. But then a mysterious, well-financed foundation makes Diana an offer she cannot refuse.


     Traveling to North Africa, Diana teams up with Nick Barran, an enigmatic Middle Eastern guide, and begins deciphering an unusual inscription on the wall of a recently unearthed temple. There she discovers the name of the first Amazon queen, Myrina, who crossed the Mediterranean in a heroic attempt to liberate her kidnapped sisters from Greek pirates, only to become embroiled in the most famous conflict of the ancient world—the Trojan War. Taking their cue from the inscription, Diana and Nick set out to find the fabled treasure that Myrina and her Amazon sisters salvaged from the embattled city of Troy so long ago. Diana doesn’t know the nature of the treasure, but she does know that someone is shadowing her, and that Nick has a sinister agenda of his own. With danger lurking at every turn, and unsure of whom to trust, Diana finds herself on a daring and dangerous quest for truth that will forever change her world.


     Sweeping from England to North Africa to Greece and the ruins of ancient Troy, and navigating between present and past, The Lost Sisterhood is a breathtaking, passionate adventure of two women on parallel journeys, separated by time, who must fight to keep the lives and legacy of the Amazons from being lost forever.


     My Review: The Lost Sisterhood tells the tale of a modern woman and another woman who lived three thousand years ago. Even though these women lived thousands of years apart, they are still interlinked with each other. The women are Diana Morgan, an Oxford professor, and Myrina, an Amazon that plays a big part in the Trojan War. In this tale, there is a secret code and a treasure hunt.

This book took me months to get through, far longer than I anticipated. I felt that reading this novel was a chore, and I didn’t like it because reading shouldn’t feel so burdensome. This is also the reason why I haven’t updated my blog for so long because I was trying my best to finish it. I trudged through it because the author wrote Juliet, which is one of my favorite books, but by the end, I found that I still didn’t like it, and this book was a major disappointment.

      I did not like the main character, Diana Morgan. She is an academic, yet she made stupid choices. One stupid choice she made is that a stranger comes up to her on the street, and gives her a ticket to Amsterdam. She ignores her colleagues warnings about not going, and meets up with the stranger who doesn’t take her to Amsterdam but to Djerba, where he hands her over to another shady man, Nick Barran, and leaves. Anyone who has common sense would not go out of the country with a stranger they just met on the street. Diana doesn’t even bother looking up Nick Barran or the foundation he is working for. She just takes him at his word. Again, if she was a woman of common sense, she should check his background and the organization to see if it is a scam. Throughout the whole book, Diana Morgan is a weak character. She does not act like a smart academic. She does not know how to take care of ancient manuscripts properly. Rather, she acts like a teenager. She pays more attention to boys than to her situations. She lets people walk all over her. She also does not worry about her job. She leisurely travels the Middle East and Europe knowing that her job may be in jeopardy. For any sensible person, if your job is on the line, you would get back to your job. 

     As for Myrina, I found that she was a stronger character than Diana. However, I found her one-dimensional. She is mostly described as a hunter. Her story is more interesting than Diana’s. Still, I felt like she too was also walked on by her love interest. She also made impulsive actions without realizing the consequences. It is because of her impulsive nature that could have prevented much tragedy.

     Overall, this book is filled with family, love, and friendship. It is a mystery, romance, and an adventure. The plot is slow-paced, and there is a lot of trudging through to get to the climax. The setting is well-developed, but the characters are not likeable and forgettable. I have to say that this book with a treasure hunt and a secret code has been done before with the Da Vinci Code and Juliet. There is nothing new to this story, and I have to say that this book was not Anne Fortier’s best. In fact, I think she didn’t even try her best in this novel. Her novel, Juliet, was the book she put all her effort into. Therefore, read this book if you must, but I believe you should skip it and read Juliet instead.

Rating 2 ½ out of 5 stars

This is the author's official book trailer for The Lost Sisterhood:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Book Blast: Towers of Tuscany by Carol M. Cram

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and author Carol M. Cram are excited to announce The Towers of Tuscany Book Blast! Join us from April 7-13 as The Towers of Tuscany is featured around the blogosphere, along with a chance to win one of three copies of this amazing new novel! Called "a beautifully crafted masterpiece of historical fiction", "lush", and "page-turning" Cram's debut novel will appeal to readers who enjoy a strong female lead who, against great odds, dares to follow a dream. The Towers of Tuscany includes a Reader's Guide making it a perfect Book Club pick! In honor of the Book Blast we are giving away three copies to three lucky readers, see below to enter.

  The Towers
of Tuscany

Publication Date: January 23, 2014 
New Arcadia Publishing
 Formats: Paperback, Ebook 
 Genre: Historical Fiction 

 Set amid the twisting streets and sunlit piazzas of medieval Italy, the Towers of Tuscany tells the story of a woman who dares to follow her own path in the all-male domain of the painter's workshop. Sofia Barducci is born into a world where a woman is only as good as the man who cares for her, but she still claims the right to make her own mistakes. Her first mistake is convincing her father to let her marry Giorgio Carelli, a wealthy saffron merchant in San Gimignano, the Tuscan city of towers. Trained in secret by her father to create the beautifully-crafted panels and altarpieces acclaimed today as masterpieces of late medieval art, Sofia's desire for freedom from her father's workshop leads her to betray her passion and sink into a life of loveless drudgery with a husband who comes to despise her when she does not produce a son.

In an attack motivated by vendetta, Sofia's father is crushed by his own fresco, compelling Sofia to act or risk the death of her soul. The choice she makes takes her on a journey from misery to the heights of passion, both as a painter and as a woman. Sofia escapes to Siena where, disguised as a boy, she paints again. When her work attracts the notice of a nobleman who discovers the woman under the dirty smock, Sofia is faced with a choice that nearly destroys her. 

The Towers of Tuscany unites a strong heroine with meticulously researched settings and compelling characters drawn from the rich tapestry of medieval Italy during one of Europe's most turbulent centuries. The stylishly written plot is packed with enough twists and turns to keep readers up long past their bedtimes. 
READ AN EXCERPT.
The
Towers of Tuscany
 

Praise for The Towers of Tuscany

"The Towers of Tuscany is a delightful escape to the Siena we all love. Carol Cram has crafted a delicious story about a strong woman torn between her secret past, her love of painting and the forbidden charms of her rich patron. Hard to resist and highly recommended!" - Anne Fortier, Author of The Lost Sisterhood and the New York Times bestseller, Juliet.

"Carol Cram's lush descriptions and intriguing characters bring this dramatic tale of medieval Tuscany to life. If you love Italian art, a feisty heroine, and a page-turning plot, you will adore this novel."- Deborah Swift, Author of A Divided Inheritance.

"The Towers of Tuscany has all the elements of a wonderful historical novel, a talented, frustrated heroine, a treacherous, feckless husband, and a promise to a dying, much loved father who orders the heroine on a dangerous mission. Carol is a first rate storyteller. The research is well done. Every chapter displays a fine knowledge of painting technique of the 14th century, and customs and mores of the age. The details of dress, fabric, food, are flawless. The clever dialogue and fast pace make the novel zing along." - Roberta Rich, Author of The Midwife of Venice and The Harem Midwife.

 "Sofia will set your heart racing as she attempts to find what we all, in our own ways, strive to seek: love, resolution, and artistic freedom. The legacy of this story will leave you yearning for more."- Cathleen With, award-winning author of Having Faith in the Polar Girls Prison.

Buy the Book

Amazon (Ebook) 
Amazon (Paperback) 
Barnes & Noble 
Book Depository 
IndieBound


About the Author

Carol Cram

Carol M. Cram has enjoyed a great career as an educator, teaching at Capilano University in North Vancouver for over twenty years and authoring forty-plus bestselling textbooks on business communications and software applications. She holds an MA in Drama from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Carol is currently focusing as much of her attention as she can spare between walks in the woods on writing historical novels with an arts twist. She and her husband, painter Gregg Simpson, share a life on beautiful Bowen Island near Vancouver, Canada.


Author Links

Website 
Blog 
Goodreads 
Facebook 
Twitter


Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 7 

Literary Chanteuse 
Bibliophilia Please 
Cheryl's Book Nook 
A Bibliotaph's Reviews 
Confessions of an Avid Reader 

Tuesday, April 8 

Mari Reads 
Peeking Between the Pages 
History From a Woman's Perspective 

Wednesday, April 9 

Reviews by Molly 
Susan Heim on Writing 
Oh,For the Hook of a Book  

Thursday, April 10 

Passages to the Past
Book Lovers Paradise 
To Read or Not to Read 
Curling Up With a Good Book 

Friday, April 11 

Words and Peace 
The Mad Reviewer 
Historical Fiction Obsession 

Saturday, April 12 

Book Nerd 
Layered Pages 
Princess of Eboli 
Kelsey's Book Corner

Sunday, April 13

West Metro Mommy 
The True Book Addict 
Caroline Wilson Writes


 photo a62b1feb-5b43-4c2a-a17c-9644bf70d54e.png

Monday, April 7, 2014

Book Blast: Inscription by H.H. Miller

H.H. Miller's Book Blast for Inscription will be featured around the blogopshere from March 31-April 13.

Inscription_Cover

Publication: January 9, 2014
H.H Miller
Paperback; 278p
ISBN-10: 0615944418

eBook; 700kb
ASIN: B00HSBNW5Y

The year is 1851 and the Grand Guard is ravaging Mainland. Arrests. Floggings. Swift executions. Twenty-year-old Caris McKay, the beautiful heiress of Oakside Manor, is sent to live with distant relations until the danger has passed. It's no refuge, however, as Lady Granville and her scheming son plot to get their hands on Caris's inheritance with treachery and deceit.

Soon, alarming news arrives that the ruthless Captain James Maldoro has seized Oakside and imprisoned Caris's beloved uncle. And now he's after her.

Caris escapes with the help of Tom Granville, the enigmatic silver-eyed heir of Thornbridge. But when a cryptic note about a hidden fortune launches them on a perilous journey across Mainland, Caris and Tom must rely on wits, courage, and their growing love for each other if they hope to survive.

Filled with adventure, intrigue, and romance, Inscription will transport you to a historically fictional world you'll never want to leave.

READ AN EXCERPT.


Buy the Book


Amazon (eBook)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble



About the Author

H.H. Miller Author


H. H. Miller is the author of the novel Inscription, a historically fictional romantic adventure. In real life, she's content director at Stoke Strategy, a brand strategy firm in Seattle, Washington, where she specializes in transforming what some might call "boring" technology jargon into compelling, readable, memorable stories. Her favorite escape is Manzanita, Oregon - a place of beautiful beaches, wild storms, chilly nights around the bonfire (even in July), and time to enjoy life with her husband and three children.

For more information please visit H.H. Miller's Facebook Page.


Book Blast Schedule


Monday, March 31
A Bookish Affair
Closed the Cover
Mina's Bookshelf

Tuesday, April 1
Historical Fiction Connection

Wednesday, April 2
Book Nerd
CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, April 3
Flashlight Commentary

Friday, April 4
The Mad Reviewer
Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Saturday, April 5
Pages of Comfort

Sunday, April 6
So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, April 7
Confessions of an Avid Reader
History from a Woman's Perspective

Tuesday, April 8
The True Book Addict
Historical Fiction Obsession

Wednesday, April 9
Broken Teepee

Thursday, April 10
SOS Aloha
Caroline Wilson Writes

Friday, April 11
Layered Pages

Saturday, April 12
Susan Heim on Writing
Curling Up With a Good Book

Sunday, April 13
Passages to the Past

 photo 47799091-e138-40ca-80ee-573ef0d9f54e.png