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Showing posts from January, 2016

The Lost Tudor Princess: The Life of Lady Margaret Douglas by Alison Weir: A Book Review

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The Lost Tudor Princess: The Life of Lady Margaret Douglas
Author: Alison Weir
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: January 12, 2016
Pages: 576
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: From New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir comes the first biography of Margaret Douglas, the beautiful, cunning niece of Henry VIII of England who used her sharp intelligence and covert power to influence the succession after the death of Elizabeth I.

     Royal Tudor blood ran in her veins. Her mother was a queen, her father an earl, and she herself was the granddaughter, niece, cousin, and grandmother of monarchs. Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, was an important figure in Tudor England, yet today, while her contemporaries—Anne Boleyn, Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I—have achieved celebrity status, she is largely forgotten. 

     Margaret’s life was steeped in intrigue, drama, and tragedy—from…

The Void of Muirwood (The Covenant of Muirwood #3) by Jeff Wheeler: A Book Review

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The Void of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #3)
Author: Jeff Wheeler
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: 47North
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 432
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: When banished Princess Maia is captured by her father and threatened with execution, it appears that all is lost…until the people rise in rebellion against their king. Suddenly, the cast-aside royal finds herself crowned the first Queen of Comoros. But enemies appear on all sides as her father’s conniving supporters assemble a new army against the fledgling ruler. While Maia struggles to keep the peace within her own walls, she rushes to form historical alliances with her neighboring kingdoms against an impending invasion of the ruthless Naestors—led by the cruel Corriveaux—who will destroy anyone Maia loves in order to ruin her kingdom and prevent the mastons from regaining power.

     Realizing that Muirwood Abbey is once again her only hope for survival, Maia gathers her people …

The Ciphers of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #2) by Jeff Wheeler: A Book Review

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The Ciphers of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #2)
Author: Jeff Wheeler
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: 47North
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: From the moment she was banished by her father, the king, Princess Maia journeyed to seek sanctuary at Muirwood Abbey, the epicenter of magic and good in the land. Now safe for the first time since her cruel abandonment, Maia must foster uneasy friendships with other girls training to be Ciphers: women who learn to read and engrave tomes of ancient power, despite the laws forbidding them to do so.

As Maia tries to judge whom to trust, she makes a shocking discovery: her destiny is to open the Apse Veil and release trapped spirits from her world. Then she learns that her father is coming to Muirwood Abbey to celebrate the Whitsunday festival—and Maia’s estranged husband, whom she was forced to abandon, will join him. Torn between deadly political machinations and unstoppable spiritual f…

The Confessions of X by Suzanne M. Wolfe: A Book Review

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The Confessions of X
Author: Suzanne M. Wolfe
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Before he became a father of the Christian Church, Augustine of Hippo loved a woman whose name has been lost to history. This is her story.

     She met Augustine in Carthage when she was seventeen. She was the poor daughter of a mosaic-layer; he was a promising student and heir to a fortune. His brilliance and passion intoxicated her, but his social class would be forever beyond her reach. She became his concubine, and by the time he was forced to leave her, she was thirty years old and the mother of his son. And his Confessions show us that he never forgot her. She was the only woman he ever loved.

     In a society in which classes rarely mingle on equal terms, and an unwed mother can lose her son to the burgeoning career of her ambitious lover, this anonymous woman was a fi…

Louise's Chance: A 1940s Spy Thriller Set in Wartime Washington (A Louise Pearlie Mystery) by Sarah R. Shaber: A Book Review

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Louise's Chance: A 1940s Spy Thriller Set in Wartime Washington (A Louise Pearlie Mystery)
Author: Sarah R. Shaber
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Severn House
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 192
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: 1940s, Washington DC. Government girl Louise gets her big chance, when she is tasked with recruiting German POWs for a secret mission inside Nazi Germany

     Government girl Louise Pearlie has a new job inside the OSS – the Office of Strategic Services: recruiting German prisoners-of-war for a secret mission inside Nazi Germany. It’s a big chance for her, and Louise hopes she can finally escape her filing and typing duties. With the job comes two new colleagues: Alice Osborne, a propaganda expert, and Merle Ellison, a forger from Texas who just happens to speak fluent German.

      But when the three arrive at Fort Meade camp, to interview the first German POWs to arrive there, their mission is beset by comp…

The Determined Heart: The Tale of Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein by Antoinette May: A Book Review

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The Determined Heart: The Tale of Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein
Author: Antoinette May
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 412
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: The Determined Heart reveals the life of Mary Shelley in a story of love and obsession, betrayal and redemption.

     The daughter of political philosopher William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley had an unconventional childhood populated with the most talented and eccentric personalities of the time. After losing her mother at an early age, she finds herself in constant conflict with a resentful stepmother and a jealous stepsister. When she meets the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, she falls deeply in love, and they elope with disastrous consequences. Soon she finds herself destitute and embroiled in a torturous love triangle as Percy takes Mary’s stepsister as a lover. Over the next several years, Mary struggles to wri…

Ophelia's Muse by Rita Cameron: A Book Review

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Ophelia’s Muse
Author: Rita Cameron
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 416
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: "I'll never want to draw anyone else but you. You are my muse. Without you there is no art in me." 

     With her pale, luminous skin and cloud of copper-colored hair, nineteen-year-old Lizzie Siddal looks nothing like the rosy-cheeked ideal of Victorian beauty. Working in a London milliner's shop, Lizzie stitches elegant bonnets destined for wealthier young women, until a chance meeting brings her to the attention of painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Enchanted both by her ethereal appearance and her artistic ambitions--quite out of place for a shop girl--Rossetti draws her into his glittering world of salons and bohemian soirees. 

     Lizzie begins to sit for some of the most celebrated members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, posing for John Everett Millais as Shakespeare's Oph…

Lady of The Imperial City by Laura Kitchell: A Book Review

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Lady of The Imperial City
Author: Laura Kitchell
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: CreateSpace
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 293
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Love isn’t forbidden to Lady Kirei as long as it’s with a proper gentleman of Kyō and she doesn’t mind sharing him with his wife. Her provincial upbringing makes her socially unacceptable as a true wife, yet as a lady by birth and a court favorite, her position makes it impossible for her to seek a match below her station. She’s trapped. 

     When a nobleman of similar provincial upbringing arrives in town and becomes an instant favorite of the emperor, he is sent to Lady Kirei for tutoring on city ways. Lord Yūkan is smitten, but she’s not a conquest to be won. She’s a woman of substance and worth, and she’s off limits. 

     Despite his unrefined manners, Lord Yūkan’s aristocratic bloodline shows through his fine taste and quick mind. It doesn’t hurt that he’s handsome, too. As he begins to tou…

Chivalrous (Valiant Hearts Series #2) by Dina L. Sleiman: A Book Review

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Chivalrous (Valiant Hearts Series #2)
Author: Dina L. Sleiman
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Christian
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 368
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: With Her Future In Jeopardy, This Unforgettable Heroine Won't Go Down
Without a Fight!

     Strong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers, but her parents view her only as a marriage pawn. When her domineering father makes plans to see her wed to a brutish man, Gwendolyn must fight for her future. 

     She's surprised, however, for that clash to include a handsome, good-hearted newcomer. Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, but he finds in Gwendolyn the most unexpected of women. 

     Tournaments, intrigue, and battles--along with twists and turns aplenty--await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.

     My Review: Gwendolyn longs for advent…

Named of The Dragon by Susanna Kearsley: A Book Review

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Named of The Dragon
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Paranormal
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 322
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: SOMEWHERE IN THE HEART OF LEGEND 
     LIES THE KEY TO HER TERRIFYING DREAMS
     The charm of spending the Christmas holidays in South Wales, with its crumbling castles and ancient myths, seems the perfect distraction from the nightmares that have plagued literary agent Lyn Ravenshaw since the loss of her baby five years ago.
     Instead, she meets an emotionally fragile young widow who's convinced that Lyn's recurring dreams have drawn her to Castle Farm for an important purpose--and she's running out of time.
     With the help of a reclusive, brooding playwright, Lyn begins to untangle the mystery and is pulled into a world of Celtic legends, dangerous prophecies, and a child destined for greatness.

My Review: Lyn, a literary agent, decides to spend the Christmas holi…

The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry: A Book Review

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The Courtesan: A Novel 
Author: Alexandra Curry
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 384
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: A timeless novel of one woman who bridged two worlds in a tumultuous era of East meets West

The Courtesan is an astonishing tale inspired by the real life of a woman who lived and loved in the extraordinary twilight decades of the Qing dynasty. To this day, Sai Jinhua is a legend in her native land of China, and this is her story, told the way it might have been.

     The year is 1881. Seven-year-old Jinhua is left an orphan, alone and unprotected after her mandarin father’s summary execution for the crime of speaking the truth. For seven silver coins, she is sold to a brothel-keeper and subjected to the worst of human nature. Will the private ritual that is her father’s legacy and the wise friendship of the crippled brothel maid be enough to sustain her? 

     When an elegant but troubled scholar takes …

A Spy's Devotion (The Regency Spies of London Series #1) by Melanie Dickerson: A Book Review

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A Spy’s Devotion (The Regency Spies of London Series #1)
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Christian
Publisher: Waterfall Press
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Pages: 322
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: In England’s Regency era, manners and elegance reign in public life—but behind closed doors treason and deception thrive. Nicholas Langdon is no stranger to reserved civility or bloody barbarity. After suffering a battlefield injury, the wealthy, well-connected British officer returns home to heal—and to fulfill a dying soldier’s last wish by delivering his coded diary.

     At the home of the Wilherns, one of England’s most powerful families, Langdon attends a lavish ball where he meets their beautiful and intelligent ward, Julia Grey. Determined to maintain propriety, he keeps his distance—until the diary is stolen and all clues lead to Julia’s guardian. As Langdon traces an evil plot that could be the nation’s undoing, he gr…

The Golden Braid (Hagenheim Series #6) by Melanie Dickerson: A Book Review

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The Golden Braid (Hagenheim Series #6)
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Christian
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 318
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

     Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry.

     Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again—this time, to the large city of Hagenheim.

     The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight—Sir Gerek—Rapunzel in turn rescues him farther down t…

The Princess Spy (Hagenheim Series #5) by Melanie Dickerson: A Book Review

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The Princess Spy (Hagenheim Series #5)
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Christian
Publisher: Zondervan
Release Date: 2014
Pages: 300
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha—one of the few who speaks his language—understands the wild story.

     Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin’s message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself “Lord Colin” is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. Margaretha knows she could never be a spy—not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she’s sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she…

Jane Austen: A Biography by Brian Wilks: A Book Review

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Jane Austen: A Biography
Author: Brian Wilks
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 144
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis: Jane Austen, one of the best-loved novelists of the English language, is unique in that her approach to art is without complication. 

     She never attempted to exceed the limitations of her capabilities or of that with which she was familiar, but wrote of ordinary people engaged in familiar pursuits and doing ordinary things. 

     Born the daughter of a country parson, Jane lived what many consider to have been a quiet and uneventful life. Yet in this book, Brian Wilks shows how rewarding a study of this deceptively quiet life can be. 

     Jane was a member of a remarkable family, and her story is one of her close involvement with its members. Personal relationships and their portrayal are the keynote of her art and they are also the key to understanding her life. 

     The successful…

The Captive Maiden (Hagenheim Series #4) by Melanie Dickerson: A Book Review

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The Captive Maiden (Hagenheim Series #4)
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Christian
Publisher: Zondervan
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 204
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: Happily Ever After …Or Happily Nevermore?

     Gisela’s childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father’s death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela learns the duke’s son, Valten—the boy she has daydreamed about for years—is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it’s only for a taste of a life she’ll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten’s eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

My Review:The Captive Maiden is not only a retelling of Cinderella, …

Murder in The Merchant's Hall : An Elizabethan Spy Thriller by Kathy Lynn Emerson: A Book Review

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Murder in The Merchant’s Hall: An Elizabethan Spy Thriller
Author: Kathy Lynn Emerson
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller, Mystery
Publisher: Severn House
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 256
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: The intriguing new mystery featuring Tudor sleuth, Mistress Rosamond Jaffrey.

    When Lina Walkenden is found clutching a bloody knife over the dead body of her brother-in-law and guardian, there’s only one person she can turn to for help: her childhood friend Rosamond Jaffrey. Rosamond vows to do all she can to prove Lina’s innocence, but when it transpires Lina was being forced into a marriage against her will and was instead besotted by her fiance’s charming yet unscrupulous nephew, her motives for murder seem overwhelming.

    In desperation, Rosamond seeks out the help of the Queen’s spymaster himself, Sir Francis Walsingham – but when she overhears a conversation at the French Embassy, it seems Lina’s plight is irrelevant in the face …

The Fairest Beauty (Hagenheim Series #3) by Melanie Dickerson: A Book Review

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The Fairest Beauty (Hagenheim Series #3)
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Christian 
Publisher: Zondervan
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 334
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: Sophie has long wished to get away from her stepmother’s jealous anger, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be her chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe?

     Gabe knows he defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the orphan girl has stolen his heart. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother’s future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises to himself he will keep her safe, no matter what.

     When the pair are forced to run to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each ot…