Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Blog Tour: Time and Regret by M.K. Tod: A Book Review

     Please join M.K. Tod as she tours the blogosphere with HF Virtual Book Tours, from August 16-31. This is M.K. Tod's second tour with HFVBT. She toured previously for Lies Told in Silence in 2015.


02_Time and Regret

Time and Regret by M.K. Tod

Release Date: August 16, 2016
Lake Union Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 366 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: This book was given to me by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

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Synopsis: When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long-buried family secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determined to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her…

     Through her grandfather’s vivid writing and Grace’s own travels, a picture emerges of a man very unlike the one who raised her: one who watched countless friends and loved ones die horrifically in battle; one who lived a life of regret. But her grandfather wasn’t the only one harboring secrets, and the more Grace learns about her family, the less she thinks she can trust them.

      My Review: Grace is going through a hard time. Her husband wants a divorce. As she is dealing with the loss of her marriage, she discovers her grandfather’s war diaries. He also left her a note that says that he regrets stealing them. What is it that her grandfather has stolen? Curious, Grace reads through her grandfather's diaries. Intrigued by what she reads, she decides to go to France to follow her grandfather's footsteps and piece together the meaning of the cryptic note that her grandfather left her

     Grace is a likable heroine that readers can root for. We can connect to her. She is a woman, who is going through difficult times in her life. The grandfather’s diaries provide her not only a diversion of drastic situations, but also provide comfort and healing. She is also very inquisitive and observant because she notices when things seem odd. Yet, she also has low self-confidence and seeks assurances from others to feel good about herself. Thus, while she has some weaknesses, she is a very strong-willed heroine. She is able to come to terms with herself. 

     I also like her grandfather, Martin. As a soldier in WWI, he is also going through hard times. There are times he faces his fears, doubts, and uncertainty. Yet, he is very smart, determined, and caring. I found him to be a complex, but fascinating character. I really loved reading his chapters and his diary entries for they are filled with action and tragedy.

     Overall, this book is about family secrets, love, choices, second chances, acceptance, and hope. I found the characters to be realistic and complex. I also thought this book was very meticulously researched and the setting was very vivid. Time and Regret has elements of action, mystery, family drama, and romance. I really found it to be a very poignant, raw, and emotional read. I really felt compassion for these characters. Therefore, this book is beautifully-written and thought-provoking. It will linger with you long after you have read the final page. I recommend this novel for fans of Lisa Jewell, Kate Morton, and Beatriz Williams.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


Praise For Time and Regret


“With fluid prose and a keen eye for detail, M.K. Tod takes readers on a decades-spanning journey of wartime loss, family secrets, and, ultimately, redemption.” – Holly Smith, Managing Editor, Washington Independent Review of Books

“Spiced with mystery and a spark of romance, TIME AND REGRET is an immersive journey into one man’s brave but terrifying slog through the killing fields of France and Flanders during WWI. Tod’s prose brims with exquisite atmospheric detail, drawing the reader into an unforgettable story.” – Juliet Grey: author of the acclaimed Marie Antoinette trilogy

“Time and Regret, equally captivating and suspenseful, presents well-drawn characters who strive to resolve past mysteries and overcome present obstacles. M.K. Tod is an impressively gifted storyteller who creates relatable conflicts and believable dangers. Highly recommended!” – Bestselling author Margaret Porter

“Hugely satisfying – impossible to put down.” – Elizabeth St. John author of The Lady of the Tower

“Time and Regret is something as rare as a treasure hunt with heart. Between the gritty trenches of World War I, the romantic allure of present-day France, and the cut-throat New York arts scene, M.K. Tod has spun a gripping family drama that delves deeply into the effects of war on the human soul and takes us on an intriguing journey of self-discovery. It is a book rich in hard-won wisdom and crucial historical insights, and Tod’s perceptive voice leads us unfaltering through some of the darkest chapters in human history to a very satisfying conclusion.” – Anne Fortier author of The Lost Sisterhood


About the Author

03_M.K. Tod     
     Time and Regret is M.K. Tod’s third novel. She began writing in 2005 while living as an expat in Hong Kong. What started as an interest in her grandparents’ lives turned into a full-time occupation writing historical fiction. Her novel Unravelled was awarded Indie Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society. In addition to writing historical novels, she blogs about reading and writing historical fiction on www.awriterofhistory.com, reviews books for the Historical Novel Society and the Washington Independent Review of Books, and has conducted three highly respected reader surveys. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and is the mother of two adult children.


     For more information visit M.K. Tod's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Blog Tour Schedule


Tuesday, August 16
Review at Diana's Book Reviews
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, August 17
Guest Post at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium

Thursday, August 18
Review at Creating Herstory
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, August 19
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Monday, August 22
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review at Curling up by the Fire

Tuesday, August 23
Review at The Book Return

Wednesday, August 24
Spotlight at Broken Teepee

Thursday, August 25
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Friday, August 26
Review at A Bookaholic Swede
Review at Dianne Ascroft Blog (Author)

Sunday, August 28
Review at Carole's Ramblings

Monday, August 29
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, August 30
Review at Bookramblings
Guest Post at The Gadoury Dreamer

Wednesday, August 31
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective



Giveaway


To enter to win a paperback copy of Time and Regret by M.K. Tod please see the GLEAM form below. Two copies are up for grabs!

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US 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.




04_Time and Regret_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Blog Tour: Haven: Chronicles of Warshard #1 by Katherine Bogle: A Book Review

Haven: Chronicles of Warshard #1
Author: Katherine Bogle
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: FriesenPress
Release Date: May 10, 2016
Pages:208
Source: This book was given to me iRead Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Haven (Chronicles of Warshard #1) is the 2nd place winner of World's Best Story!

     Princess Haven was never meant to be Queen.

     Her immortality has saved her time and time again, but when the last of her royal family dies at her feet, she is next in line to rule a nation on the brink of war. With no formal training on how to be Queen, Haven must rise to the occasion with the help of her best friends, and personal guard, or risk losing everyone she has ever loved.

     With war to the West, and no escape to the East, the evil tyrant Kadia sets her sights on the six kingdoms. Haven's neighbors are quick to fall under the swords of Kadia's shadow soldiers, leaving a sea of bodies and a clear path to Haven's only home. Haven must make a choice; take her people and flee to the foreign Republic across the sea or lead a last stand against a powerful dictator.

      My Review: Haven was never meant to be queen. Yet, with her curse of immortality and with her family gone, she is forced to take the throne. However, she does not know how to rule. Immediately, when she is on the throne, she finds out the her kingdom is in danger. Soon, she goes to war against an evil queen who is determined to destroy them all. Can Queen Haven defeat the evil queen and save her kingdom?

     Queen Haven is an unlikely heroine. She is thrust into a position that she has no training for. She is uncertain in her position as queen. She is often clueless and leans on the advice of others. Yet, she has a good heart. She loves her friends and her kingdom. She is willing to do everything to help others. She gradually begins to have self-confidence and learns to trust herself. While there were some actions that I did not agree with, I find that she did it on good intentions. Nevertheless, I thought that she grew stronger as a queen. Thus, Haven is a character that audiences will root for and will like to see how she grows as a character.

     Overall, this story is about love, friendship, responsibility, and self-acceptance. The message of this book is to believe in yourself. I found the book to be very slow. It is not until halfway through the book that it picks up. I think I would have enjoyed this book much better if it was shorter. I also thought that the secondary characters needed to be fleshed out. I would have loved to have known more about the villain, Queen Kadia, as well as other characters, such as her love interest. I also thought that the romance was forced because it was instant-love and needed more time to develop naturally. I also thought the world-building needed a bit more work, for it was not really fleshed out and needed more details about the six kingdoms. As I read it, I was confused about the places. This needs more work for an epic fantasy and in a war story, the places are very important. Haven has elements of action, adventure, political and court intrigue, and romance. I recommend this book for those who enjoy reading about unique heroines, coming-of age stories, and journeys of self-discovery.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Book Depository, Indigo Chapters

About the Author:




Katherine Bogle's debut young adult novel, Haven, came second in the World's Best Story contest 2015. She currently resides in Saint John, New Brunswick with her partner in crime, and plethora of cats.  Visit her website, Facebook, and Twitter.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Lady of the Bridge by Laura Kitchell: A Book Review

Lady of the Bridge
Author: Laura Kitchell
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Laura Kitchell
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 245
Source: This book was given to me by Read for Review in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Forbidden love between a warrior princess and an elite samurai makes for an adventure set during the early days of the Tokugawa shogunate. Join this couple in a race across 17th century Japan where political unrest has created dangerous ronin, civil uprisings, and war-ravaged castles. Caught in the middle of the struggle between Shogun's rise to rule and the old regime, this warrior princess is forced to battle for her life. 

     In the end, she must choose between family honor and her heart's desire. 

     My Review: Princess Saiko  has lived a sheltered and privileged life. Her father dotes on her and allows her to study martial arts. When the time comes for her to be the imperial consort to the emperor of Japan in Kyoto, the princess is saddened that she has to leave behind the life she had always known. A few days before she leaves, she decides to take a walk in the garden. When she arrives at her favorite bridge, she meets a handsome samurai. The two immediately fall in love. However, she knows that they are already doomed. Yet, no matter how hard she tries to resist, she cannot deny the love they have for each other. Can the two of them find a way to be together or are they fated to be apart forever?

     Princess Saiko is a fun character. She is very intelligent and has a passion for art, books, and poetry. She is also very feisty and can fight. She is very loyal and is willing to do her duty as a princess. Still, she can sometimes be a very frustrating character. She is very reckless. I also did not like her actions. I think that the story would have flowed better had she been more open and straightforward. There were moments that I thought that she was weak. I thought that the romance between Saiko and Takamori felt a bit forced and would have liked more time to develop naturally. I also thought that Takamori needed more character development, for he seemed to be one-dimensional throughout the story.

     Overall, this story is about finding one’s happiness. I thought the story was a bit repetitive at times. It was also very slow-moving and drawn-out. I did however, love the setting of medieval Japan. I thought the author had done her homework on Japanese history. I also thought the book to be very well-written. While I did not like Lady of the Bridge as well as her other novel, Lady of the Imperial City, I did find it to be touching and romantic. I really loved the ending. I recommend this story for those interested in star-crossed love stories and Asian romances.


Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee: A Book Review

A Most Magical Girl
Author: Karen Foxlee
Genre: Children's, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: From the author of Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy comes the story of a friendship between two girls set in Victorian England, with magical machines, wizards, witches, a mysterious underworld, and a race against time.

     Annabel Grey is primed for a proper life as a young lady in Victorian England. But when her mother suddenly disappears, she’s put in the care of two eccentric aunts who thrust her into a decidedly un-ladylike life, full of potions and flying broomsticks and wizards who eat nothing but crackers. Magic, indeed! Who ever heard of such a thing? 

     Before Annabel can assess the most ladylike way to respond to her current predicament, she is swept up in an urgent quest. Annabel is pitted against another young witch, Kitty, to rescue the sacred Moreover Wand from the dangerous underworld that exists beneath London. The two girls outsmart trolls, find passage through a wall of faerie bones, and narrowly escape a dragon, but it doesn’t take long for Annabel to see that the most dangerous part of her journey is her decision to trust this wild, magical girl.

     Sparkling with Karen Foxlee’s enchanting writing, this is a bewitching tale of one important wand and two most magical girls.

     My Review: Annabelle’s mother has sent her to her great-aunts to be educated. Yet, when Annabelle arrives in London, she finds that her education is not what she thought it would be. Instead of an education that is fit for a lady, Annabelle learns that she is a witch and must learn to use her magical powers. When a dark wizard plans to take over London, Annabelle must go on a dangerous mission to find a magical wand. She not only encounters terrifying monsters along the way, but also makes friends. Can Annabelle and her friends defeat the dark wizard and save London?

     At first, I did not like Annabelle. I thought that she was a spoiled brat and whined a lot in the book. She did not like doing chores that her aunts made her do and mocks them behind their back. I also thought that she was a Mary Sue because everything she did was perfect. While she is still a damsel-in-distress throughout the book, I eventually grew to like her almost at the end of the book. This is because she realizes the values of friends and family. She also begins to have confidence in herself. However, I have to say that I like her friends more. They were fun and interesting.

     Overall, this story is about family, friendship, and acceptance. The message of this book is to believe in yourself. I really thought that this tale was creative. A Most Magical Girl is a fast-paced action and adventure tale. While I did not like the main character as much as I would have wanted, I did love her secondary characters. I also thought the world-building of a fantastical London was very breathtaking, and I was glad to explore more of this secret London. I recommend this story to those who love reading a fun frolic on a broomstick ride through Victorian London. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Architect of Song (Haunted Hearts Legacy Book 1) by A.G. Howard: A Book Review

The Architect of Song (Haunted Hearts Legacy Book 1)
Author: A. G. Howard
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Paranormal
Publisher: Golden Orb Press
Release Date: August 15, 2016
Pages: 318
Source: This book was given to me by Rockstar Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: A lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower – intertwine in this love story that transcends life and death. 

     For most of her life, Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton. 

     To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

     International and NYT bestselling author, A.G. Howard, brings her darkly magical and visual/visceral storytelling to Victorian England. The Architect of Song is the first installment in her lush and romantic Haunted Hearts Legacy series, a four book New Adult gothic saga following the generations of one family as - haunted by both literal and figurative ghosts - they search for self-acceptance, love, and happiness.

     My Review: When Juliet arrives at the cemetery where her mother is buried, she sees Lord Thornton, a man who wants to buy her estate. She sees him angry at a tombstone written with the name of “Hawk”. At the bottom of the grave site, an unusual flower catches her attention. Enthralled the by flower’s beauty, she decides to take it home. As soon as she touches the flower petals, a ghost of a handsome man appears. The ghost has no memory of his identity or his past. As Juliet tries to recapture the ghost’s identity, she learns that he has a connection with Lord Thornton. Soon Juliet must uncover Lord Thornton’s secrets to help her ghost.

     Juliet is an emotionally-damaged character. Since the death of her mother, she leans towards thoughts of depression. She has become a recluse. She has shunned her uncle and her maid, who is also her best friend, just to be alone. She welcomes death and does not want to be with the living. Yet, when the ghost appears, she is drawn to him by the voice he sings. He comforts her, and slowly, he gives her a will to live. With the ghost as her guide, she slowly embarks on a quest to appreciate life. Thus, I really did like Juliet. She is very vulnerable. However, she becomes a strong protagonist because she finds her inner strength and confidence. She is also very smart and observant. Therefore, I believe that Juliet is a character readers can relate to when they are going through a difficult time in their life or mourning the loss of a loved one.

     Overall, this book is about family, friends, love, choices, acceptance, redemption, and second chances. The Architect of Song is about a woman’s quest to appreciate being alive. The message of this book is that there is always hope, and that while you are going through difficult times, there are still good things ahead. This novel is very well-written. It is haunting, lyrical and evocative. This story will linger with you even after you read the last page. While this book is very slow and the tone is dark, I thought that it was perfect for its atmospheric setting. The Architect of Song is filled with paranormal, suspense, and romance, and I look forward to reading more books in this series. I encourage you to read it, for you will not be disappointed. This book is perfect for fans of M.J. Rose’s The Secret Language of Stones, Anne Rice’s Violin, and Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Blog Tour: Throne of Lies by Sara Secora

Throne of Lies
Author: Sara Secora
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Synopsis: As a seventeen-year-old ruler chafing under the obligations of her bloodline, Princess Amethysta Serelle finds the royal life anything but enchanting.

     Betrothed to a nefarious highborn, Amethysta’s heart mourns her lost chance at love—that is, until she becomes mesmerized by someone other than her suitor, and her heart begins to beat anew.

     Desperate to keep her daughter on the path toward duty and the throne, the queen keeps a deadly secret. But as Amethysta balances the burden of expectations and freedom, the glowing, blue truth will not stay hidden for much longer.

     Desire and duty battle on, further complicated by strange occurrences happening to Amethysta’s body. She struggles for control as her once unquestioned reality is obliterated.

     Will she discover the truth, in her heart and hands, before it’s too late?

     Buy the book on Amazon.


Author Bio



     Sara Secora has a passion for all things gamer and nerdy, as evidenced on her YouTube channel, AviGaming. She is also a well-branded voice over artist.

     Secora has always been in love with writing, and in 2007 she turned her talents to the arduous endeavor of authoring an exciting fantasy trilogy. Her whimsical stories are full of enchantment, mystique, and insight—destined to intrigue readers of any age.

     Secora lives in Detroit, Michigan, where she continues to explore old and new avenues for her talent and hard work. You can visit her on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk: A Book Review

Wolf Hollow
Author: Lauren Wolk
Genre: Children, Historical Fiction
Publisher:  Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

     Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience and strength help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history.

     My Review: In a small Pennsylvania town, a tragic event has occurred. Annabelle is a young girl who has been bullied by an older girl named Betty. When Betty suddenly disappears, the suspicion falls on an outsider, Toby, whom Annabelle has befriended. Annabelle must master her courage to fight for the injustice of her friend. Can Annabelle save her friend or is it too late?

    Annabelle is a strong protagonist that audiences will root for. She is very fierce and loving. She will do anything to protect her family and also the first to befriend a stranger. She is also a young woman who must conquer her fear. Because she has been bullied by Betty, she becomes afraid of her. Yet, she must stand up to Betty and her lies to not only help herself but for her friend. Annabelle is also very brilliant. She is observant and is able figure out the mystery before anyone else. There were many times that Annabelle came off more like an adult than an eleven year old child, yet I liked this character that I was able to ignore her mature voice.

    Overall, this story is about family, friendship, injustice, and courage. The message of the book is to stand up for what is right. Wolf Hollow is a fast-paced mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. I really did like the characters. I do wish that Betty’s character was developed a bit more. I would have liked to understand her motives rather than her just being a mean girl to further the plot. While this is a children’s story, I believe that due to the story elements and the writing style that this book is more for mature teens and adults. Nevertheless, it would be good source material for teachers to read aloud in the classroom alongside The Watsons Went to Birmingham. Still, I recommend that parents read this novel first and discuss the themes with their children. I recommend this novel for fans of Bud, Not Buddy, Sounder, and Where the Red Fern Grows.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Setting the World on Fire: The Brief, Astonishing Life of St. Catherine of Siena by Shelley Emling: A Book Review

Setting the World on Fire: The Brief, Astonishing Life of St. Catherine of Siena
Author: Shelley Emling
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography, Religion
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Pages: 256
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: One of only two patron saints of Italy, the other being St. Francis of Assisi, St. Catherine was ahead of her time. As a political powerhouse in late 14th century Europe, a time of war, social unrest and one of the worst natural disasters of all time--the plague, she worked for peace between Christians while campaigning for a holy crusade against Muslims. She was illiterate but grew into a great writer by dictating to assistants. She was frail and punished herself mercilessly, often starving herself, while offering moral guidance and inspiration to kings, queens and popes.

     It's easy to see why feminists through the years have sought to claim the patronage of St. Catherine. From her refusal to marry to her assertion that her physical appearance was of no importance, the famous Saint is ripe for modern interpretation. She was a peacemaker during Siena's revolution of 1368, sometimes addressing thousands of people in squares and streets; she convinced Pope Gregory XI to return the papacy to Rome at a time when the Catholic Church was unraveling.

     How did this girl, the second-youngest of 25 children of a middle-class dyer, grow to become one of the most beloved spiritual figures of all time, a theological giant to rank alongside the likes of Thomas Aquinas? In Setting the World on Fire, Emling gives an intimate portrayal of this fascinating and revolutionary woman.

     My Review: St. Catherine of Siena was not only one of the Catholic Church’s greatest mystic, she was also one of its greatest writers. She wrote a book called Dialogues, a conversation between God and the human soul about spiritual life. She is also one of the few women that was given the title of Doctors of the Church. In this biography of the saint, this novel focuses on her accomplishments as well as her struggles.

     St. Catherine of Siena was the daughter of a wool dyer. She was known as a happy child. When she was six years old, she received a vision of Jesus that profoundly changed her life. After this, she became melancholic. She also defied her family by not marrying and instead devoted her life to God, which eventually her family supported her. Soon, Catherine attracted a large group of followers and eventually she became involved in the political and social matters of the church. One of her accomplishments was that she brought Pope Gregory XI back to Rome. For seventy years, the popes left Rome and established their pontiff in Avignon, France. However, her accomplishment was short lived, for Pope Gregory died, and this divided the Church which led to the Great Schism, an event that spanned for four decades where the Catholic Church had two popes. Yet, while this event distressed her, she nevertheless continued to be a prolific secant of the church.

     Overall, this biography focused on St. Catherine of Siena’s legacies as well as disappointments. This novel only focuses on the basics of St. Catherine’s life, and I would have liked for the biographer to give more details to certain events of her life. However, this book was a quick and easy read. I recommend this book for the general reader and for those who do not know much about St. Catherine of Siena. Setting the World on Fire is a great tribute for a woman who worked until her dying breath to reform the Catholic Church and to try to bring about peace and prosperity.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi: A Book Review

The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Pages: 353
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?

     Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

     But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

     A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.

     My Review: On the day that Maya was born, she was prophesied that her marriage would be of death and destruction. Since then she has been shunned by most of her family members and lives a life of obscurity. One day, her father, the Raja, forces Maya to commit suicide. Right when she is about to kill herself, Amar, the Raja of Akaran, saves her at the last minutes and marries her. With this marriage, she has a second chance of life. However, Amar and Akaran is not what it seems to be. Can Maya and Amar overcome the obstacles to find happiness?

     I found Maya to be a likable protagonist. I liked that she has a deep love for her sister. However, there were some moments where I found her to be a bit frustrating. She is a very lonely girl who has low-self confidence. She is willing to do whatever people tell her. She is also very gullible and believes everyone’s lies without questioning why. Therefore, for most of the book, she is a weak protagonist. Gradually, she becomes a strong woman. She realizes her mistakes and tries to correct them. Therefore, Maya is a heroine that readers can relate to because she learns her lesson.

     Overall, this book is about family, friendship, and love. The Star-Touched Queen is about a woman’s quest to recover what she has lost. The message of this book is to believe in yourself, and to appreciate each moment you have for your loved one because you do not know when that person may be gone. I did find this book to be predictable and slow in the middle. I also did not like that there was a star-crossed love story. Because of this, I thought that Amar’s character-depth was lacking along with the relationship. I also thought the secondary characters needed a bit more work so that I could truly understand them. Nevertheless, the writing is very evocative and lyrical. I also liked how it is heavily rooted with Indian mythology. I really thought it was a well-developed fantasy with a taste of adventure, and I look forward to reading her companion novel, A Crown of Wishes! I recommend this book to fans of Cruel Beauty, A Thousand Nights, and Ever.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Monday, August 8, 2016

Blog Tour: Sacred Legacy by Kat Flannery: A Book Review

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Sacred Legacy by Kat Flannery

Publication Date: July 31, 2016
Imajin Books
eBook & Paperback; 234 Pages

Series: The Branded Trilogy, Book 3
Genre: Historical/Romance/Western

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Source: This book was given to me by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Tsura is a Chuvani, and with that comes great power…

     Desperate to escape the memories that haunt her, Tsura Harris returns to Jamestown, the very place her mother forbade her to go. A gifted Chuvani, Tsura has sworn off all magick, thus making her vulnerable to the Renoldi clan, who wish to kill her and take the pendant that is the key to her power.

     Red Wolf is hell-bent on living his life on the sea, until he runs into Tsura on the docks. His pride wounded from her rejection years before, he hoped to never see her again. But when the evil Corsair, Romulus Black, demands to know where she is, Red Wolf must protect her, as is his duty.

     But is duty and honor his only reason, or does Red Wolf still carry a flame of love in his heart? And will Tsura finally discover her destiny?

     My Review: After a horrific event that haunts her, Tsura decides to start a new life in Jamestown. She is a woman that has magical powers, yet she chooses not to use them. However, there are people in Jamestown that want her dead. She also encounters people from her past. Red Wolf, her former love, has chosen to protect her from her enemies. Can the two of them find love again after a brutal break-up?

     I really liked the heroine,Tsura. She is a broken woman, who wants to start a new life. She is trying to heal from the past. Yet, she finds herself caught up with the past and is struggling to handle it. She is at times very strong and stubborn. Most of the time, she does not believe in herself. Throughout the novel, she is spent trying to find her self-confidence. I also liked her relationship with Red Wolf. Even though Red Wolf is still bitter with her over their break-up, he still chooses to protect and help her. He is very patient and stubborn also. I like how the two rekindle their relationship.

     Overall, this book is about second chances and healing. The message of this book is that there is always hope. I did like how this novel was set in a Native American tribe. I thought Sacred Legacy was meticulously researched on Native American culture and customs. However, I found the plot to lack creativity. I felt that I had read this story too many times. It was basically a Native American retelling of Persuasion. I would have liked more emphasis on the magic element. Nevertheless, it is a quick and light read. I recommend this for anyone who would like to read a sweet romance and for fans of Jane Austen, Pema Donyo, and Sarah Price.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

     “One of the few stories that captured me from beginning to end.” —USA Today bestselling author, Rosanne Bittner


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About the Author

04_Kat Flannery

     Kat Flannery’s love of history shows in her novels. She is an avid reader of historical, suspense, paranormal, and romance. When not researching for her next book, Kat can be found running her three sons to hockey and lacrosse. She has her Certificate in Freelance and Business Writing. A member of many writing groups, Kat enjoys promoting other authors on her blog. She’s been published in numerous periodicals. Her debut novel CHASING CLOVERS has been on Amazon’s Bestsellers list many times and was #62 over all their titles. LAKOTA HONOR and BLOOD CURSE (Branded Trilogy) are Kat’s two award-winning novels and HAZARDOUS UNIONS is Kat’s first novella. Kat is currently hard at work on her next book.

     For more information please visit Kat Flannery's website. You can find Kat on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Giveaway

     
     To enter the Sacred Legacy Giveaway for a $100 Amazon Gift Card, please see the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– 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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My Third Blog Anniversary!

Today, I would like to celebrate the third year of having this blog! It has been an amazing ride! I appreciate the support from my fellow bloggers and my readers! I look forward to bringing more honest reviews this year along with guest posts and author interviews! Thank you all so much!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Blog Tour: Madame Presidentess by Nicole Evelina: A Book Review

02_Madame PresidentessMadame Presidentess by Nicole Evelina

Publication Date: July 25, 2016 Lawson Gartner Publishing eBook & Paperback; 400 Pages Genre: Historical Fiction 

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Source: This book was given to me by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
 Synopsis: *Winner: U.S. Women’s History category – 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction

     Forty-eight years before women were granted the right to vote, one woman dared to run for President of the United States, yet her name has been virtually written out of the history books.

     Rising from the shame of an abusive childhood, Victoria Woodhull, the daughter of a con-man and a religious zealot, vows to follow her destiny, one the spirits say will lead her out of poverty to “become ruler of her people.”

     But the road to glory is far from easy. A nightmarish marriage teaches Victoria that women are stronger and deserve far more credit than society gives. Eschewing the conventions of her day, she strikes out on her own to improve herself and the lot of American women.

     Over the next several years, she sets into motion plans that shatter the old boys club of Wall Street and defile even the sanctity of the halls of Congress. But it’s not just her ambition that threatens men of wealth and privilege; when she announces her candidacy for President in the 1872 election, they realize she may well usurp the power they’ve so long fought to protect.

     Those who support her laud “Notorious Victoria” as a gifted spiritualist medium and healer, a talented financial mind, a fresh voice in the suffrage movement, and the radical idealist needed to move the nation forward. But those who dislike her see a dangerous force who is too willing to speak out when women are expected to be quiet. Ultimately, “Mrs. Satan’s” radical views on women’s rights, equality of the sexes, free love and the role of politics in private affairs collide with her tumultuous personal life to endanger all she has built and change how she is viewed by future generations.


This is the story of one woman who was ahead of her time – a woman who would make waves even in the 21st century – but who dared to speak out and challenge the conventions of post-Civil War America, setting a precedent that is still followed by female politicians today.



      My Review: Victoria Woodhull is the first woman who ran for president of the United States. However, despite her accomplishments, she was known to lead a scandalous life that made her an unsuitable candidate for President. However, Nicole Evelina takes this controversial figure and gives her a voice to let readers see her side of this story. Madame Presidentess chronicles the life of Victoria Woodhull from her childhood until after her run for President. In this novel, it shows a woman’s determination to fight to make her dreams come true.

     Victoria Woodhull’s early life is very sad. It was very hard and disturbing to read. Yet, even though it was uncomfortable, it shows how her early life greatly impacted her beliefs. Victoria was abused by her parents, and her first husband was a womanizer who never cared for her. Both her parents and her husband treat her cruelly. Yet, no matter how dire the circumstances were, Victoria was a determined woman. She vowed that she would make her life better, and that she would fulfill her dreams. It is through her persistence that readers come to admire Victoria. She was a woman who made her own success. However, Victoria had her flaws. She was prideful and sometimes she could be a bit ruthless. Yet, I found her to be very human. While she had her ups and downs, trials, and obstacles, she gave all her effort to make a successful life. 



     Overall, this is an in-depth psyche of a controversial and complex woman. This story is about a woman who never gives up. While I found that I did not like Victoria as a whole, I do find some of her qualities to be very admirable. She was a strong advocate for women’s suffrage. She believed in women’s rights. I really found this story to be very engrossing, and I would have liked for the story to be longer. I would love for the author to write another book about Victoria’s later life or her sister, Tennessee Claflin because in the author’s note, they seem to have had a colorful life while they were in England. I believe Madame Presidentess is a great tribute to a woman who has been largely forgotten by the women’s suffrage United States history as a whole.


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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About the Author


03_Nicole Evelina

     
     Nicole Evelina is an award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel, Been Searching for You, a romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

     She also writes historical fiction. Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, was named Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews, took the Grand Prize in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, won a Gold Medal in the fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. The sequel, Camelot’s Queen is out now.

     Nicole is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. Nicole has traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

     Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society, and Sirens (a group supporting female fantasy authors), as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Broad Universe (promoting women in fantasy, science fiction and horror), Alliance of Independent Authors and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

     Her website/blog is http://nicoleevelina.com and she can be found on Twitter as well as on Pinterest, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram and Tumblr.


Giveaway

     
     To enter the Madame Presidentess Giveaway for a paperback of the book and/or Victoria Woodhull Bumper Sticker, please see the GLEAM form below. 3 winners will receive a copy of the book and a bumper sticker. 7 winners will receive the Victoria Woodhull Bumper Sticker.



Victoria Woodhull Bumper Sticker


Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 26th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US 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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