Thursday, March 31, 2016

Young Elizabeth: The Making of the Queen: A Book Review

Young Elizabeth: The Making of the Queen
Author: Kate Williams
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography
Publisher: Pegasus 
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 282
Source: Edelweiss/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: A lively and poignant biography of the young princess who, at the impressionable age of eleven, found that she was now heiress to the throne, by the New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Queen Victoria.

     We can hardly imagine a Britain without Elizabeth II on the throne. It seems to be the job she was born for. And yet for much of her early life the young princess did not know the role that her future would hold. She was our accidental Queen.

     Elizabeth's determination to share in the struggles of her people marked her out from a young age. Her father initially refused to let her volunteer as a nurse during the Blitz, but relented when she was 18 and allowed her to work as a mechanic and truck driver for the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service. It was her forward-thinking approach that ensured that her coronation was televised, against the advice of politicians at the time.

     Kate Williams reveals how the 25-year-old young queen carved out a lasting role for herself amid the changes of the 20th century. Her monarchy would be a very different one to that of her parents and grandparents, and its continuing popularity in the 21st century owes much to the intelligence and elusive personality of this remarkable woman.

     My Review: Young Elizabeth and the Making of the Queen chronicles the early life of Queen Elizabeth II. In this biography, Queen Elizabeth was never meant to be a queen. However, due to the scandal of Edward VIII and his abdication, this paved the way for her ascension to the British throne. While Elizabeth was not wholly prepared for her role as queen, she played the role successfully. In over half a century, Queen Elizabeth’s role and image has remained constant.

      Queen Elizabeth’s childhood was idyllic.  Her father and mother did not provide their children with a good education because they loathed it when they were children. When Edward VIII gave up his throne. Elizabeth and Margaret knew that their lives had changed dramatically. They were in the spotlight, and Elizabeth had a duty as queen. This book  describes how Elizabeth was the poster girl, especially in WWII, and how she had to play her part. She is portrayed as a woman who is pressured to play her role well. She is very charming and photogenic. However, this biography does not cover up Elizabeth’s faults. She can be temperamental, stubborn, and unforgiving. Still, Elizabeth is a fascinating and complex woman. 

     Overall, this biography shows that behind that glamorous facade of being a queen, in actuality the role can be very lonely. This biography is very comprehensive to the average reader. While there are no new facts surrounding Elizabeth’s young life, I thought it was interesting how Elizabeth is portrayed. Elizabeth is a smart and pragmatic young woman. She learns  from tragedies in her life, especially the death of her father, about what it means to be queen. There were some chapters that I thought were irrelevant to this biography. I thought Princess Margaret’s and Peter Townsend’s romance and Princess Diana’s death should have been left out. Still, I recommend this biography to those who do not know much about Queen Elizabeth’s early life or those who want to read a different portrayal of Queen Elizabeth.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Here is a video of the author discussing her book: Young Elizabeth: The Making of the Queen:

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Blog Tour: Grendel's Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife by Susan Signe Morrison: A Book Review

02_Grendel's MotherGrendel's Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife by Susan Signe Morrison


Publication Date: September 25, 2015 Top Hat Books Paperback & eBook; 238 Pages ISBN-10: 1785350099 
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Source: This book was given to me by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. 
Shortlisted for the 2014-2015 Sarton Literary Award for Historical Fiction
Synopsis: An amber bead. A gold and glass drinking horn. A ring engraved with Thor’s hammer – all artifacts from a Germanic tribe that carved a space for itself through brutality and violence on a windswept land. Brimhild weaves peace and conveys culture to the kingdom, until the secret of her birth threatens to tear apart the fragile political stability. This is her story – the tale of Grendel’s Mother. She is no monster as portrayed in the Old English epic, Beowulf. We learn her side of the story and that of her defamed child. We see the many passages of her life: the brine-baby who floated mysteriously to shore; the hall-queen presiding over the triumphant building of the golden hall Heorot and victim of sexual and political betrayal; the exiled mere-wife, who ekes out a marginal life by an uncanny bog as a healer and contends with the menacing Beowulf; and the seer, who prophesizes what will occur to her adopted people. We learn how the invasion by brutal men is not a fairy tale, but a disaster doomed to cycle relentlessly through human history. Only the surviving women can sing poignant laments, preserve a glittering culture, and provide hope for the future.

     My Review: Grendel’s mother is one of the main antagonists in the Old English poem of Beowulf. When Beowulf kills Grendel’s mother we cheer and feel that she has finally been given her just desserts. However, what if the often told legend of Beowulf were rooted in fact? And, instead of a hideous monster, Grendel was a man, with a very real mother? In this book, we are presented with this perspective, a real-life happening that through the years grew into the famous legend. In Grendel’s Mother, we see a different perspective of whom Grendel’s mother might have been.

     Brimhild, the mother of Grendel, lives a very sad life. She is a very sympathetic character, and is a victim of injustice in a cruel world. As a child she is very inquisitive and bright. When she is sent off to live in the real world to work in the king’s hall, she is very innocent of the world. She sees the violence and brutality of the court. She sees the court’s corruption. When she marries the king and becomes queen, she wants to restore the court to goodness and peace. However, her ideals push the king away from her because he believes that violence ensures their kingdom's security. She finds herself lonely and becomes attracted to Christianity because she agrees with their ideals. One day, the king sends her into exile. She and Grendel become bitter and filled with hate and revenge. While I did not approve of Grendel and his mother’s actions of how they sought out revenge, I did for sorry for them, and I could sense their pain.

     Overall, this story is about friendship, love, loss, and redemption. The message of this book is that there is always hope. I did feel that there were some unnecessary scenes in this novel. However, I found this story to an emotional and poignant read. I loved reading Brimhild’s journey and wished for her to find her happiness. I found the writing to be very beautiful and lyrical. I also liked how the setting was set in the Anglo-Saxon world, and I loved how Norse mythology was incorporated into the story. Grendel’s Mother is sure to linger with you even after you have finished the last page. I recommend this story to anyone interested in reading a different take on the classic, Beowulf, Norse Mythology, and anyone who enjoys reading stories about a mother’s love for her son.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Praise:


"What a gift! Grendel's Mother is sure to become an integral part of every class on Beowulf." -Candace Robb, author of the Owen Archer Mystery Series and, as Emma Campion, A Triple Knot
"This fascinating narrative is to readers today what John Gardner's Grendel was to readers of the 1970s." -Haruko Momma, Professor of English, New York University


 

About the Author


03_Susan Signe Morrison

     
     Susan Signe Morrison writes on topics lurking in the margins of history, ranging from recently uncovered diaries of a teenaged girl in World War II to medieval women pilgrims, excrement in the Middle Ages, and waste. Susan Morrison is Professor of English at Texas State University. She grew up in New Jersey by the Great Swamp, a National Wildlife Refuge with terrain not unlike that of Grendel’s Mother’s mere in Beowulf. Committed to bringing the lives of medieval women to a wider audience and making the ethics of waste fundamental to our study of literature. Susan can be found at grendelsmotherthenovel.com, homefrontgirldiary.com, and amedievalwomanscompanion.com and tweets @medievalwomen

     Susan’s BA is from Swarthmore College and her A.M./Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Brown University. She has studied in Germany and taught in the former East Germany. Susan’s publications have appeared in such journals as The Yearbook of Langland Studies, Medievalia et Humanistica, Medieval Feminist Forum, The Chaucer Review, Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, The New York Times, Women In German Yearbook , Journal of Popular Culture, Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik, as well as numerous book chapters. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, daughter and son. For more information visit Susan's website.  


Blog Tour Schedule


Monday, March 28 
Spotlight at Passages to the Past 

Wednesday, March 30 
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective 

Thursday, March 31 
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter 

Monday, April 4 
Interview at Svetlana's Reads and Views 

Tuesday, April 5 
Review at A Chick Who Reads 

Wednesday, April 6 
Guest Post A Literary Vacation 

Thursday, April 7 
Review at Impressions In Ink 

Sunday, April 10 
Review at Sprinkled With Words 

Tuesday, April 12 
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf 

Thursday, April 14 
Review at Seize the Words: Books in Review 

Friday, April 15 
Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book   


Giveaway


To win one of two copies of Grendel’s Mother by Susan Signe Morrison please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.



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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Blog Tour: Death of an Alchemist: A Bianca Goddard Mystery (Bianca Goddard Mysteries, Book 2) by Mary Lawrence: A Book Review

02_Death of an AlchemistDeath of an Alchemist: A Bianca Goddard Mystery (Bianca Goddard Mysteries, Book 2) by Mary Lawrence

Publication Date: January 26, 2016 Kensington Books Hardcover & eBook; 304 Pages Genre: Historical Mystery

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Source: This book was given to me by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: In the mid sixteenth century, Henry VIII sits on the throne, and Bianca Goddard tends to the sick and suffering in London’s slums, where disease can take a life as quickly as murder…

     For years, alchemist Ferris Stannum has devoted himself to developing the Elixir of Life, the reputed serum of immortality. Having tested his remedy successfully on an animal, Stannum intends to send his alchemy journal to a colleague in Cairo for confirmation. But the next day his body is found and the journal is gone.

     Bianca, the daughter of an alchemist, is well acquainted with the mystical healing arts. When her husband John falls ill with the sweating sickness, she dares to hope Stannum’s journal could contain the secret to his recovery. But first she must solve the alchemist’s murder. As she ventures into a world of treachery and deceit, Stannum’s death is only the first in a series of murders—and Bianca’s quest becomes a matter of life and death, not only for her husband, but for herself…

     My Review: Ferris Stannum has made the Elixir of Life. His elixir can not only stop someone from dying but can give that person immortal life.  He is about to send his elixir’s recipe to Cairo for verification when suddenly, before he can send it, he is murdered, and his recipe is missing. Bianca goes on a quest to find the journal to use the recipe to saving her ailing husband. While looking for the recipe, she soon finds she has to make a difficult choice. Should she use the elixir on her husband and make him immortal or leave her husband’s fate up to nature?

     Bianca is a likable protagonist. She is practical and very observant. She has a passion for science and knowledge. She is also courageous and is a loyal friend. She also has a very compassionate nature. She is tough and can defend herself and others. She is very determined and refuses to give up when defeat seems to be staring at her in the face. When she decides to resort to using the elixir, she discovers the lengths she will go to keep her husband. While she does not want to lose him, she realizes that by making the elixir for her own husband, she is defying the laws of nature. Throughout the course of the novel, she is forced to make difficult decisions, and she is trying to determine what should be the right thing to do.

     Overall, this book is about friendship, love, choices, and sacrifices. This book is very complex and relies heavily on the theme of nature vs man. The message of the book is to leave everything in nature’s hands, not man’s. The characters in this book are also very complex and they struggle with the same issue: should they leave it up to nature or should they defy nature and create their own fate? This book is very slow because it is more character-driven than plot-driven and the mystery is predictable, yet I found myself intrigued by Bianca and I wonder what choices she would make. I also like how it is set in Tudor London, and I found sixteenth century science to be fascinating. I recommend this book for anyone who interested in reading mysteries set in Tudor England and for anyone who enjoys stories about the question of fate versus choice. 


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound


Praise for The Alchemist's Daughter (Bianca Goddard Mysteries, Book 1)


“A realistic evocation of 16th century London’s underside. The various strands of the plot are so skillfully plaited together.” —Fiona Buckley

“Mystery and Tudor fans alike will raise a glass to this new series.” —Karen Harper


About the Author


03_Mary Lawrence


     Mary Lawrence studied biology and chemistry, graduating from Indiana University with a degree in Cytotechnology. Along with writing and farming, Lawrence works as a cytologist near Boston. She lives in Maine. The Alchemist’s Daughter is the first book in the Bianca Goddard Mystery series For more information please visit Mary's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.


Blog Tour Schedule


Monday, March 21
Review at Broken Teepee 

Tuesday, March 22 
Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book 
Guest Post at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More 

Wednesday, March 23 
Review at A Book Geek 

Thursday, March 24 
Interview at Books and Benches 

Friday, March 25 
Review at Book Nerd 
Interview at The Book Connection 

Monday, March 28 
Review at Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne 

Tuesday, March 29 
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews 
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective 

Wednesday, March 30 
Review at A Holland Reads 

Thursday, March 31 
Interview at Author Dianne Ascroft's Blog 

Friday, April 1 
Guest Post at Passages to the Past


Giveaway


     To enter the Death of an Alchemist giveaway, please use the GLEAM form below. Four winners will receive a signed copy and the Grand Prize Winner will receive a signed copy plus a $15 Amazon Gift Card!

Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 1st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US addresses only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.


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Friday, March 25, 2016

Blog Tour: Outrageous: The Victoria Woodhull Saga, Volume One: Rise to Riches by Neal Katz

02_OutrageousOutrageous: The Victoria Woodhull Saga, Volume One: Rise to Riches by Neal Katz

Publication Date: October 1, 2015 Top Reads Publishing Hardcover, Paperback, Ebook; 344 Pages Series: The Victoria Woodhull Saga (Book 1) Genre: Historical Fiction

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Synopsis: Historical fictionalized account of Victoria Woodhull’s rise to presidential candidate and wealth, coming from poverty and abuse.

     What compels a woman and her youngest sister to overcome abject poverty and violent abuse to grow up to defy convention and obliterate every barrier to become the first women to own and operate a Wall Street brokerage firm and publish their own newspaper?

     How did Victoria Claflin Woodhull (1838 – 1927) become the first woman invited to speak to the United State Congress, and then the first female to run for president. What made Tennessee Celeste Claflin (1845 – 1923) so beguiling that the richest man in America, Cornelius Vanderbilt, fell completely in love with her?

      What caused the sisters to live out their long lives as royalty and peerage in Europe. Victoria living as landed gentry outside of London, and Tennessee in a huge castle like a queen? Why aren’t these empowered and independent women iconic in our culture?

     Volume One of The Victoria Woodhull Saga tells the poignant, lascivious, and compelling inside story of how the sisters worked closely with Cornelius Vanderbilt, who at age 74 fell in love with the beguiling 24-year old Tennessee. Victoria provided the titan of industry “Inside Her Information” gathered through the soiled sisterhood, the ladies of the evening working at the top seven brothels servicing the rich and famous of New York City.

     This relationship resulted in the great lion of industry having his last public roar as together they manipulated the financial markets and created the impending collapse of the U.S. economy in the gold scandal of 1869. To avert the crash, President Ulysses S. Grant provides the richest man in America insider information on the gold market and telegrams Vanderbilt that his railroad company is “Too Big To Fail!” Vanderbilt was proclaimed “The Savior of the American Economy” for intervening in a crisis he helped create.

     View Victorian America through the eyes and thoughts of one of its leading heroines., Victoria Woodhull. Watch as the infighting and elitism of the earliest suffrage women denigrating, castigating, and denouncing other passionate suffrage rights women delayed woman suffrage and equal legal standing for five decades. Learn wonderful anecdotes of the origins of products and phrases used today. Learn the story of Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, the most popular man in America, who transformed Christianity from his father’s “fire and brimstone” theology to one of a compassionate and loving Jesus, who will redeem all who turn to salvation with complete confession of their sins. The reverend’s personal life did not imitate his lofty and popular theology of his weekly sermons at Plymouth Church. He was a notorious womanizer, often bedding, and sometimes impregnating the wives, sisters, and daughters of his most ardent trackers and deacons of the church.

     Written in the first person from Victoria’s viewpoint, Neal Katz weaves a compelling page-turning story that cleverly unfolds history while providing a wonderfully entertaining ride. Katz has pledged one half of book sale proceeds to charities dedicating to the empowerment and sustainable economic improvement of women, especially single mothers.


Excerpt:

From Chapter 22, "Torn Assunder"

      Before I realized it, I was standing and everyone was looking at me. I looked around and peered into the surprised, curious faces in the room. I tried to say something, but I was overwhelmed by the realization that I had never spoken my thoughts, or feelings, amidst such august people. I tasted bile at the back of my throat and felt my heart racing.

     I made a choice. Instead of getting lost in my apprehensions, I focused on the roiling anger in my gut and the pain I felt in my womb. I wanted my thoughts spoken. I wanted to be heard. I turned to Mr. Frederick Douglass and addressed him.

     “Good Mr. Douglass, you are a man of high education and broad experience.” I stopped and look around the room and nodded at each one present. “In fact, all of you are.” …

     “I must ask you if there is anything that I could do or say that would fully convince you that I completely understand and appreciate your circumstance?

     “Were I to tell you that I can fully imagine the pain and suffering of the lash whipping on my back and tearing my skin away, would it assuage your pain? No, sir, I think not!

     “What if I were to proclaim, with God as my witness, that I see all the ugly, craven, and disgusting indignity, opprobrium, injustice, and inhumanity with which my race has treated your race? Would that make your circumstance any less intolerable? Respectfully, no, sir. I think not! ...

     “With your incredible ability at persuasion, could you convince me that you know what it feels like to be raped by your father at age nine, sold into prostitution to feed your family and later by your husband? To be repeatedly used and abused as an object created solely for the pleasure of men? No, sir! I think not!” …

     “Mr. Douglass, I stand before you both naked and unabashed as a child of God to tell you openly and without hesitation, that I will never be able to fully understand your plight as a Negro male. It is not within my powers.” I looked directly into the eyes of the powerful advocate before me. I appealed to his humanity and begged of him. “I ask you, most educated of men, will you not confess, with the same innocence and revealed truth, that you will never understand the circumstance of being a woman?” 



Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo


Praise

     
     “Victoria Woodhull is one of the most fascinating but forgotten characters in American history. She deserves to be better known by anyone who cares about gender equality and the ongoing fight to make America a more tolerant and just country–kudos to Neal Katz for bringing her story to life for a new generation of readers.” -Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher

     “I can’t believe this is Neal’s first book. Incredibly well written, this is an important work. I see a National bestseller and a long running series.” -Victor Villasenor, National bestselling author of Rain of Gold,Three time Pulitzer Prize nominee, and author of Revenge of a Catholic Schoolboy


About the Author


03_Neal Katz

     Neal Katz is a semi-retired, serial entrepreneur, CEO with a passion for women rights. He lives a life based on self-awareness and Love. He practices Yoga, meditates daily, has taught A Course in Miracles, produced Oregon wines, enjoys being a gourmet chef, recites Vedic sutras, and writes his own inspirational poetry.

     The saga of Victoria Woodhull appeals to Neal, as it serves three purposes. First, the story provokes public awareness of the historical and continuing denigration and subjugation of gender prejudice. Second, the tale exposes the historical basis for the manipulation of the free markets of stocks, bonds and commodities. Third, the story shows how existing financial and political power structures used prison and seizure of assets to prevent innovation and social change. Victoria Woodhull overcame all these obstacles in a remarkable life.

     Neal chose to write in first person using Victoria s words, thoughts, and point of view to tell the tale, inviting the reader to see through her eyes. The style is magic realism along the lines of Allende, Marquez, and Kathleen McGowan (The Magdalene Trilogy). This is an expression of the HeForShe solidarity movement for gender equality championed by Emma Watson, and Neal proudly proclaims himself a male feminist!

     Neal has pledged fifty percent (50%) of his author’s royalties from book sales and all ancillary revenues, including foreign print distribution and Hollywood rights to a foundation formed in tribute to Victoria Woodhull and her passion for woman rights. The foundation will promote and prove programs for the empowerment and sustainable economic improvement of women, especially single mothers.For more information visit http://outrageousthebook.com/. You can also follow the author on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


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Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund: A Book Review

A Daring Sacrifice
Author: Jody Hedlund
Genre: YA, Christian, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Zondervan
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Pages: 222
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: In a reverse twist on the Robin Hood story, a young medieval maiden stands up for the rights of the mistreated, stealing from the rich to give to the poor. All the while, she fights against her cruel uncle who has taken over the land that is rightfully hers. Forced to live in the woods and hide with the poor people she's grown to love, she works to save and protect them, but she never anticipates falling in love with the wealthy knight who represents all she's come to despise.

      My Review: A Daring Sacrifice is a retelling of Robin Hood. Juliana, once the rightful heir of Wessex, seeks refuge in the woods to hide from her uncle who wants to capture her. Juliana steals from the rich and gives to the poor. However, what Juliana never expected was to fall in love with a wealthy knight. She has to make a choice between her duty and her heart.

     Juliana is a likable protagonist. She is feisty and daring. She is also outspoken and stubborn. She is not a damsel in distress and can take care of herself. She does make irrational decisions at times  but she has good intentions. She is very judgmental, especially against the nobility because they have done nothing to help the poor. Eventually, she begins to see past her prejudice against the nobility and to see each person as they are. Juliana is also a very compassionate person. She is also a loyal friend. She is a woman who is willing to risk her life to save those she loves. Thus, I found Juliana to be a strong female character, and I like how she grows into a mature and capable young woman throughout the novel.

     The hero in this story is Collin, who is the rejected knight who pursued Rosemarie in An Uncertain Choice. In the first novel, I found Collin to be my least favorite character. His personality was very repugnant, and he came across as arrogant and selfish. He had no concern for the poor and believed that money can buy everything. When I realized that he was the hero for A Daring Sacrifice, I was hesitant to read it because I did not like Collin. However, after reading it, I found myself pleasantly surprised. Collin is egotistical in the beginning, but when he meets Juliana he undergoes a great character change. Collin becomes compassionate and slowly begins to care for those around him. Collin also realizes what true love is. He understands that love is to put others before himself. When Collin learns this, he begins to put it into practice. He makes small sacrifices for Juliana. Eventually, he is willing to lay down his life for her. Therefore, I really loved Collin, for he has grown into a mature young man.

     Overall, this book is about friendship, love, choices, and sacrifice. The message of the story is to love one another and to be willing to lay down your life for another. The story is action-packed and fast-paced. I liked all the characters for they were fresh and fun. I  felt that the cliffhanger at the end was unnecessary. I would also have liked there to be more appearances by Sir Derrick, the hero in An Uncertain Choice. Nevertheless, this was a light, sweet love story. I recommend this book to those who are fans of the Robin Hood legend and for those who enjoy stories where characters must choose between love, duty, and life.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund: A Book Review

An Uncertain Choice
Author: Jody Hedlund
Genre: YA, Christian, Romance, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Zondervan
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 252
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: Due to her parents' promise at her birth, Lady Rosemarie has been prepared to become a nun on the day she turns eighteen. Then, a month before her birthday, a friend of her father's enters the kingdom and proclaims her parents' will left a second choice--if Rosemarie can marry before the eve of her eighteenth year, she will be exempt from the ancient vow.

     Before long, Rosemarie is presented with the three most handsome and brave knights in the land. But when the competition for her heart seemingly results in a knight playing foul, she begins to wonder if the convent is the best place after all. If only one of the knights--the one who appears the most guilty--had not already captured her heart.

     My Review: An Uncertain Choice is a medieval Bachelorette. Lady Rosemarie is forced to enter the convent when she turns eighteen. She is reluctantly prepared for her life as a nun, when her godfather, the Duke of Rivenshire finds a new alternative to Rosemarie’s fate. If she can marry for true love before she turns eighteen then she would not have to enter the convent. The duke then brings Rosemarie to his three knights hoping that she will fall in love with one of them. Each of the knights court her until Rosemarie can find which knight is her true love. Can Rosemarie escape her destiny to enter the convent or does God have something else planned for her?

     I did not really like Rosemarie all that much. She seems like an undeveloped character. All we know is that she cares for the poor and is really beautiful. Other than that, she comes across as a selfish person. She thinks about herself all the time. She does not seem to care for other people or ask the knights and the duke for what they want. She does not ask them what she will do for them, rather it is what they will do for her. I really did not see her as a caring person. Instead, her compassion for the poor seemed to be rather shallow, for she is wanted to be seen as a great lady to her people. I also did not think that she was smart, for some of the choices she made were not bright. Also, Rosemarie was a damsel-in-distress and always needed saving. Thus, I found her to be a weak character and was not given much depth.

      Overall, this book is about love and choices. The message of the book is that it is our hardest trials where we see God’s love. The characters were one-dimensional, and there was not really much of a plot in this novel. Instead much of the story revolves around her courtship with three men to see whom she likes the best. The story was also very predictable. Another thing that I did not like about this book was that the ending had an unnecessary cliffhanger. For those of you who are looking for a light, quick, Christian medieval  love story, you might enjoy this book. However, this book falls short with other YA, Christian medieval romances. I recommend Melanie Dickerson’s or Dina L. Sleiman’s books instead. 

Rating: 2½ out of 5 stars




Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Blog Tour: Winter Queen by Amber Argyle


Winter Queen

by Amber Argyle
Release Date: June 19th 2013
Summary from Goodreads:
Becoming a winter queen will make Ilyenna as cold and cruel and deadly as winter itself, but it might be the only way to save her people from a war they have no hope of winning.

Mortally wounded during a raid, seventeen-year-old Ilyenna is healed by winter fairies who present her with a seductive offer: become one of them and share their power over winter. But that power comes with a price. If she accepts, she will become a force of nature, lose her humanity, and abandon her family.


Unwilling to pay such a high price, Ilyenna is enslaved by one of the invaders, Darrien. While in captivity, she learns the attack wasn’t just a simple raid but part of a larger plot to overthrow her entire nation. 


With the enemy stealing over the mountains and Darrien coming to take her to his bed, Ilyenna must decide whether to resurrect the power the fairies left behind. Doing so will allow her to defeat Darrien and the other invaders, but if she embraces winter, she will lose herself to that destroying power—forever.


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Buy Links:


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To receive Amber Argyle’s starter library for free (4 books!), simply tell her where to send it: http://eepurl.com/l8fl1


About the Author:





     Amber Argyle is the number-one bestselling author of the Witch Song Series and the Fairy Queen Series. Her books have been nominated for and won awards in addition to being translated into French and Indonesian. Amber graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in English and physical education, a husband, and a two-year old. Since then, she and her husband have added two more children, which they are actively trying to transform from crazy small people into less crazy larger people.  Visit her website, Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook.


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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Raven Flight (Book #2 of Shadowfell Trilogy) by Juliet Marillier: A Book Review

Raven Flight (Book #2 of Shadowfell Trilogy)
Author: Juliet Marillier
Genre:YA, Fantasy
Publisher: Knopf
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 418
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: Neryn has finally found the rebel group at Shadowfell, and now her task is to seek out the elusive Guardians, vital to her training as a Caller. These four powerful beings have been increasingly at odds with human kind, and Neryn must prove her worth to them. She desperately needs their help to use her gift without compromising herself or the cause of overthrowing the evil King Keldec.

     Neryn must journey with the tough and steadfast Tali, who looks on Neryn's love for the double agent Flint as a needless vulnerability. And perhaps it is. What Flint learns from the king will change the battlefield entirely—but in whose favor, no one knows.

      My Review: Neryn is now the secret weapon for the rebel army against King Keldec. The army plans to strike a surprise attack against the king in midsummer, and Neryn must be ready. To help the army, Neryn must find the Guardians of Alban to complete her training as a Caller. She is accompanied by a female guard named Tali. During her training, Neryn realizes the true cost of what it means to be a Caller.

     Neryn is a girl who still has little self-confidence in herself. She has not fully come to terms with her powers. They still terrify her because she has the power to do horrible things to her enemies. Over time, she realizes that not only does she learn to trust herself, but she needs to trust nature and the world around her. Neryn also becomes wise and learns much through her training. She is very concentrated and her mind is focused on her task. 

     I also like her friendship with Tali. At first, they don’t like each other, but over time, they come to an understanding. Tali is a strong fighter, and I like how stubborn she is. While Tali is caring, I also like how she is focused on her duty and does not let her emotions cloud her judgement. She is also willing to risk her life to save her friends.

     Overall, this book is about love, friendship, loss, and redemption. It is a about a woman trying to find her self-identity. There are a few drawbacks to this story. Flint, who was one of the main character in Shadowfell, made little appearances in this book. Because of this, there was very little character development. I would have liked for him to be in this book more. The other drawback is that the magical creatures have an Irish derelict, and it slowed the pace of the my reading down as I tried to decipher what they were saying. Still, this book is filled with adventure and action that kept me glued to my seat as I was reading. I look forward to reading the final book in the trilogy, The Caller. This book will appeal to not only long-time fans of Juliet Marillier but also J.R.R Tolkien, Terry Brooks, and Sandra Waugh.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Blog Tour: Guest Post by Kathleen C. Perrin- In Joan's Footsteps

     Today's guest writer is Kathleen C. Perrin. She is the author of The Watchmen Saga. This essay is about her writing process and also how she was moved to write The Sword of the Maiden after being inspired by Joan of Arc's story. I hope this guest post not only gives you insight into her creative process, but also how we can all learn something from the legacy of Joan of Arc. Thank you Mrs. Perrin.


In Joan’s Footsteps By Kathleen C. Perrin

     
     While going through the process of writing The Sword of the Maiden, the second novel in The Watchmen Saga, I was preoccupied by all things “Joan of Arc.” Actually, my preoccupation with Joan started long before I wrote my first novel in the series, The Keys of the Watchmen. In fact, the entire unwritten premise of the first novel was to set up Katelyn Michaels as the one mortal who could fully understand and logically assist Joan in her mission. No, my preoccupation with Joan is not just a passing fancy. I have been interested in her remarkable story for years, even decades. 

My challenge in writing this novel was that so much has been said about Joan and so much has already been written about her. She is probably the most iconic figure ever to have come out of France. Consequently, I knew that trying to tell her story from a fictional platform was risky business. How could I bring anything of value to her story? How could I add one iota of understanding to what actually motivated her? How could I do her improbable narrative justice? I finally came to the conclusion that all I could do was try to give my readers a personal experience with her, and to do that, I wanted to be as accurate as possible about the places she visited and the conditions in which she lived.


Because my Breton husband and I are blessed to own a small cottage in Brittany, I have the opportunity of spending a lot of time in France. Consequently, we visited the important sites in Joan of Arc’s story on many occasions and in every season of the year. I paced off distances and even whipped out my handy-dandy tape measure to assess the width of battlements and ramparts. I took hundreds of photos from every possible vantage point. Incidentally, I hope you will visit my website to see some of those photos at www.kathleencperrin.com. 





  I especially wanted to know what conditions would have been like for Joan to travel on horseback from Lorraine in Eastern France to the Loire Valley during the winter months, so I traipsed across fields from Domrémy to Chinon, saturated from the near-constant drizzle that   hangs over France during January and February. Even in the seemingly firm fields covered with green vegetation, my feet sank several inches into mud and muck. Unlike Joan, I had a warm car in which to take refuge, a hotel room in which to shower, eat and sleep, several changes of clothing and shoes, and I didn’t have English marauders out to kill me! I could barely fathom how miserable conditions must have been during that monumental voyage she undertook with her little band of merry men, but I got a small taste of it. I did all of this so that I could more accurately describe where Joan grew up, the places she visited, and the conditions present during the initial part of her mission to save France. I wanted to be as precise as possible so that you, my readers, could perhaps feel a bit of what she felt. 

I just returned from my latest trip to France where my husband and I revisited some of the sites I write about in The Sword of the Maiden. However, on this occasion, with all of the hectic moments of getting the book finished and published behind me, I was able to just contemplate. I hardly took any photographs. I certainly didn’t take any measurements. No longer concerned about how I was going to describe the Jehannic sites in words, I finally took the time to ponder more deeply about the remarkable maiden who walked in these places. 


While standing on the very spot in Rouen where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431, I felt overwhelmed by emotion for the young woman I had tried to come to know personally. I was overcome by the reality of how she must have suffered, and of how she must have felt abandoned and betrayed by her compatriots, her voices, and even by God. I hoped that at that moment when the flames engulfed her, she knew that her sacrifices served a noble purpose and that her martyrdom mattered. I reflected on the difference she made in her very short life, not only for the Dauphin Charles and her beloved France, but for generations to come. This 19-year-old child-woman impacted the entire Western world. As I expressed in the novel, I firmly believe that her actions were critical for France to finally regain its sovereignty, and that a strong and independent France was key in assisting and motivating American Revolutionaries to obtain America’s independence from England. Obviously, many, many other factors were critical in these developments, but what would have happened if Joan had failed in her mission? How might the course of history have been entirely different? I felt honored to have had the opportunity, in some small way, to share the story of Jehanne la Pucelle with others.


     The feelings I had at that moment reinforced the conviction I have that each of us can make a difference in some way, even if it’s just in the life of a single individual. To that person, it could mean everything. I’ve learned from Joan’s story that to make a difference, we have to be driven by deep conviction and complete unselfishness. We cannot be focused on our own self-centered desires. Very few of us will ever impact the world like Joan of Arc did, but every one of us can make our homes, neighborhoods, communities, cities, states or countries better places by focusing on others. I hope that learning about Joan’s courage and conviction will motivate my readers to find ways to make a difference. This is how we can honor her legacy.




The Sword of the MaidenKathleen C. Perrin


The Sword of the Maiden

(historical fiction) Release date: December 3, 2015 Self published at Langon House 515 pages ISBN: 978-0692576922 Website | Goodreads     
Synopsis: After being abruptly separated from Nicolas le Breton during the battle to save Mont Saint Michel from the English siege in 1424, Katelyn Michaels finds herself back in her normal twenty-first century life as an American teenager. Depressed and anxious to be reunited with Nicolas, she is comforted when a series of events and impressions lead her to believe she is being prepared for another mission as a Watchman. 

     After her beloved mentor, Jean le Vieux, comes to her in a dream and gives her the injunction to “Learn of the Maiden and take her the sword,” Katelyn understands that her mission involves assisting one of the most iconic figures in all of French History. 

     Katelyn is once again whisked back to the turmoil of medieval France during the Hundred Years’ War and to Nicolas. However, before the two can consider the future of their relationship, they must first complete their mission to take the sword to the Maiden. Little do they know that their old nemesis, Abdon, is already on their trail and will do everything in his unhallowed power to stop them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The Sword of the Maiden Kathleen C Perrin 

     Kathleen C. Perrin holds bachelor's degrees in French and Humanities from Brigham Young University and is a certified French translator. Besides being the author of The Watchmen Saga, she has published several non-fiction articles, academic papers, and a religious history about Tahiti. Kathleen has lived in Utah, New York City, France, and French Polynesia. She and her French husband have spent years investigating the mysteries and beauties of his native country--where they have a cottage--and have taken tourist groups to France. The Perrins have three children and currently reside in Utah. Visit her website. Follow her on Facebook, TwitterSign up to receive her Newsletter. Buy the book on Amazon.


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