Sunday, April 16, 2017

Review: Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

In present-day Boston, Nina Revskaya, once a great star of the Russian ballet, has decided to auction her jewellery collection and donate the proceeds to the Boston Ballet Foundation. It is a mysterious gesture that has piqued the interest of two particular individuals: a rising associate director at the auction house, Drew Brooks, who seeks to unravel the provenance of the pieces; and a professor and Russian translator at the nearby university, Grigori Solodin, who believes the jewels might hold the key to his past.

The stakes are raised when an anonymous individual donates a necklace that perfectly matches the bracelet and earrings in Nina’s collection, claiming the pieces belong together. It is this donation that will bring Drew and Grigori together in unexpected ways to uncover the story behind Nina’s fabulous jewels—a bounty said to have been smuggled out of Stalinist Russia when she defected from the country in the early 1950s.

It was there, in Russia, that Nina first learned to dance, fell in love with the handsome poet Viktor Elsin, and struggled with the choice to pursue her craft or begin a family. Nina and her circle of free-thinking artist friends lived in constant fear of Stalin’s disapproval, of arrest and torture by the secret police for unpatriotic behaviour and so-called crimes against the state. Yet when their circle was broken by just such an arrest, a devastating misunderstanding parted the four friends and lovers forever.

Paperback, 560 pages 
Published March 28th 2017 
by HarperCollins Publishers

Daphne Kalotay a new author to me and for reasons unknown I rarely venture into Russian HF.  Not totally sure why that is, maybe because it's such a vast country and I don't really know where to start.

Russian Winter tells the story of Nina a Russian ballerina who defects to America in the 1950's.  The author detailed what life was life, starting as a young girl taking her first dance steps. The era was vivid with a writing style that had me feeling and absorbing the life style as well as her struggles and frustrations.

In present day Nina is aged, wheelchair bound and ready to auction of pieces of her past. Alternating between 3 different characters, Nina, Grigori and Drew the reader is given a broader view of not just the past but the repercussions decades later.

The mystery surrounding the amber necklace was interesting, where I though to have solved it myself, it's always nice when it twists and turns in a different direction.

The author wrote in a lyrical and mesmerizing way that had me captives.  I found myself enjoying my time spend reading this book.  It wasn't one I rushed through but rather savoured the journey.  Definitely a book I highly recommend and an author I will read more of.

Thanks to TLC Tours for The opportunity to review this book.

Thank you to TLC Tours for the opportunity to review this book and a print copy.


 Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon

 Author Links: website and Facebook

Friday, April 7, 2017

Review: The Shadow Sister (The Seven Sisters #3) by Lucinda Riley

Travel through the lush English countryside and explore the magnificent estates of the British aristocracy in this next spellbinding love story in The Seven Sisters series by #1 internationally bestselling author Lucinda Riley.

Star D’Aplièse is at a crossroads in her life after the sudden death of her beloved father—the elusive billionaire, affectionately called Pa Salt by his six daughters, all adopted from across the four corners of the world. He has left each of them a clue to her true heritage, and Star nervously decides to follow hers, which leads her to an antiquarian bookshop in London, and the start of a whole new world.

A hundred years earlier, headstrong and independent Flora MacNichol vows she will never marry. She is happy and secure in her home in England’s picturesque Lake District—just a stone’s throw away from the residence of her childhood idol, Beatrix Potter—when machinations lead her to London, and the home of one of Edwardian society’s most notorious society hostesses, Alice Keppel. Flora is torn between passionate love and her duty to her family, but finds herself a pawn in a larger game. That is, until a meeting with a mysterious gentleman unveils the answers that Flora has been searching for her whole life...

As Star learns more of Flora’s incredible journey, she too goes on a voyage of discovery, finally stepping out of the shadow of her sister and opening herself up to the possibility of love.

The Shadow Sister is the third in the sweeping Seven Sisters series, “soaked in glamour and romance” (Daily Mail) and perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and the novels of Kate Morton.

Kindle Edition, 528 pages 
Expected publication: April 25th 2017 by Atria Books
This is book three in The Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley. It's one of the books I have been anxiously waiting to read, Star and her sister CeCe have such a tight relationship that it has made me very curious about their story and why they are so close. Actually it isn't that they are so close it almost feels like they cannot function without each other.

This is Star's side of the story (so far) and I enjoyed watching her take on the quest to discover her past.  Her search begins in an old bookstore in London which was a great place to start and made the story all the more endearing. Sometimes stepping out of her comfort zone can be scary but when the desire is so strong she does what needs to be done.  I loved where the author took Star. 

The past story deals with Flora and as usual it's always the part I enjoy most. Maybe it's just because I am a sucker for that time period, I love reading about high society and their way of life. Though Beatrix Potter does not have a huge role in this book her inclusion developed  Flora's character and made me want to read her books, I can envision the setting where she wrote them with the wide arrangement of critters about. 

I will be honest when I say I had reservations when this series began wondering how the author could pull off seven unique story's for seven totally different sisters and bring something new and fresh with each one. But she has managed to do quite nicely.  I am reading the series in order keeping my fingers crossed that Cece's story will be the next one, after getting a better look at her character I am really curious about her background and what makes her really tick.

Thank you to Atria Books (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Lucinda Riley is the #1 internationally bestselling author of sixteen novels, including The Seven Sisters and The Storm Sister. Her books have sold more than eight million copies in thirty four languages.

Lucinda lives with her husband and four children on the North Norfolk coast in England and West Cork, Ireland.

Visit her online at 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: Promises to Keep by Genevieve Graham

An enchanting and poignant story about the unfailing power of love in a world turned upside down by war—from the bestselling author of Tides of Honour.

Summer 1755, Acadia Young, beautiful Amélie Belliveau lives with her family among the Acadians of Grande Pré, Nova Scotia, content with her life on their idyllic farm. Along with their friends, the neighbouring Mi’kmaq, the community believes they can remain on neutral political ground despite the rising tides of war. But peace can be fragile, and sometimes faith is not enough. When the Acadians refuse to pledge allegiance to the British in their war against the French, the army invades Grande Pré, claims the land, and rips the people from their homes. Amélie’s entire family, alongside the other Acadians, is exiled to ports unknown aboard dilapidated ships.

Fortunately, Amélie has made a powerful ally. Having survived his own harrowing experience at the hands of the English, Corporal Connor MacDonnell is a reluctant participant in the British plan to expel the Acadians from their homeland. His sympathy for Amélie gradually evolves into a profound love, and he resolves to help her and her family in any way he can—even if it means treason. As the last warmth of summer fades, more ships arrive to ferry the Acadians away, and Connor is forced to make a decision that will alter the future forever.

Heart-wrenching and captivating, Promises to Keep is a gloriously romantic tale of a young couple forced to risk everything amidst the uncertainties of war.

Paperback, 336 pages 
Published April 4th 2017 by Simon & Schuster

Genevieve Graham is a new author to me and she is Canadian to boot.  Anyone who knows me knows that I get excited while discovering not just new authors from this great country but when the subject matter is Canadian history too.  Canada is a great country with rich history and I'm always on the lookout for historical fiction taking place here and sadly they are hard to find, especially going back to the time period Promises to Keep deals with.

It's 1755 in Acadia (present day Nova Scotia) and even though Amelie and Connor are fictional characters what takes place is right out of the history books.  I had no idea that something like the Acadian Expulsion could and did in fact take place.  Believe me when I say I was googling as soon as I turned the last page. 

The author painted an idyllic picture of what life was like for the Acadian's.  Content in their way of life it wasn't hard to visualize the landscape with the vivid descriptions as well as their way of life. They are content until the British showed up.  The author made me feel for the Acadians.  As life turns I could feel the despair and heartache. While this book doesn't just stay in one place the Canadian wilderness is vast and at times unforgiving.

Both Amelie and Connor are unique, interesting and fully developed characters. Watching the relationship blossom as each struggles with their own personal convictions brought this story to life. 

I won't go into detail about what takes place here, having enjoyed the ride myself I would not want to spoil it for anyone else. This book kept me captivated and it's one I highly recommend to those that love their historical fiction with history off the beaten path.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

Audio Review: A Place Beyond Courage (William Marshal #1) by Elizabeth Chadwick

Sometimes Keeping Your Honor Means Breaking Your Word 

The early twelfth century is a time for ambitious men to prosper. John FitzGilbert is a man of honor and loyalty, sworn to royal service. When the old king dies, his successor rewards the handsome and ambitious John with castles and lands.

But King Stephen has a tenuous hold on both his reign and his barons, and when jealous rivals at court seek to destroy John, he backs a woman's claim to the crown, sacrifices his marriage, and eventually is forced to make a gamble that is perhaps one step too far.

545 pages 
Published September 1st 2012 by Sourcebooks Landmark
 (first published October 4th 2007)
audiobook  16 hours and 31 minutes

I was first introduced to John FitzGilbert the Marshall and always wondered who this man was that gave the famous 'anvil and hammer' speech. If you are not familiar with it I won't recite as it would be a spoiler for this book.  Suffice to say his reputation was greatly tarnished because of it.  

The year is 1130 when King Henry I is on the throne, but not for long, England is about to enter a dark period in history since the King dies with no male heir.  As the battle for the crown ensues John FitzGilbert's story comes to life.  He needs a wife and heirs himself while at the same time John must also decide who to support, the usurper Stephen or the King's daughter Matilda. I loved the way John's character was portrayed here, I got to know him, feel his drive, struggles and understand his motivation.  It was a dangerous time and one had to be careful with each move you made, decisions had to be made with little time to think and the consequences could be deadly.

The reading world is dominated with female protagonists and this book is a refreshing change.  It just goes to show that you can still get a great story with all the some elements as with a female lead - action, romance, political intrigue and be thoroughly entertained.  

Elizabeth Chadwick is a favorite of mine, her writing seems to revolve around this time period and it's one I enjoy reading.  She brings history to life with interesting research methods that bring forth books that I find captivating and I can't help but get immersed.  The author notes goes into detail about her motivation for writing this book and other facts in history about John and the times.

This was an audio read for me, Peter Wickham is the reader and he does a great job.

I highly recommend this one to those that love a romp through Medieval England.

I received a physical copy of this book from Sourcebooks but the audio version is from my personal library.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Review & Giveaway: The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie


In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy,

Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.

“That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.”

After decades of suffering the King’s endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.

Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change.

March 21, 2017 at 
416 pages 

Here we are at the end of another favorite trilogy. And what an ending it is. Because each book deals with different mistresses of the king they can be read as standalone but I highly recommend starting at the beginning with The Sisters of Versailles, which I think is my favorite in the series. The Rivals of Versailles is Book #2, click on titles to take you to my review.

Jeanne Becu is a young child only seven years old when we first meet her. She will spend the next 10 years in a convent, but it is while working in dress shops that her life takes an about face after Comte du Berry walks in. She will become the last Mistress of Louis the XV, life isn't boring, how can it be in the French court?

Plus being hated by the King's own daughters doesn't help. Alternating chapters with Princess Adelaide, never married and obsessed with hating Jeanne she managed to convince others to do so also.  Born into privilege with every advantage she wastes it. Knowing the king always had mistresses, but this one is of such low birth, her religious upbringing and judgmental attitude take over her life. There is so much in life she is missing out on that I actually felt sorry for her.

I love the authors writing style, her words took me to France, I could feel the hostility between these two women as they both just wanted to make the king enjoy his final years of life. I love reading about strong women in history, especially ones I am unfamiliar with, in location and time periods I rarely venture into and this series did not disappoint.

Reading this series has perked my interest in French history, the scandal, liaisons rival those of the English.  Definitely a series I highly recommend.

                                  Website | Goodreads


  Sisters of Versailles - Sally Christie Sally Christie is the author of The Sisters of Versailles and The Rivals of Versailles. She was born in England and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three different languages. She spent most of her career working in international development and currently lives in Toronto.

Learn more her Versailles trilogy on her website Become a fan to hear about her next novels!

Visit her Facebook Page Check her Pinterest page

Follow Simon & Schuster on Twitter and Facebook

You can enter the global giveaway here or on any other book blogs participating in this tour. Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook, they are listed in the entry form below.


Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form] Global giveaway - for US residents 5nly 5 winners of a print copy




Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review: A Lady in Disguise (Daughters of Hampshire #3) by Sandra Byrd

In this intriguing novel of romance, mystery, and clever disguise set in Victorian England, a young woman investigates the murder of her own father. 

After the mysterious death of her father, Miss Gillian Young takes a new job as the principal costume designer at the renowned Drury Lane Theatre Royal. But while she remembers her father as a kind, well-respected man of the Police Force, clues she uncovers indicate he’d been living a double life: a haunting photograph of a young woman; train stubs for secret trips just before his death; and a receipt for a large sum of money. Are these items evidence of her father’s guilty secrets? His longtime police partner thinks so.

Then Gillian meets the dashing Viscount Thomas Lockwood. Their attraction is instant and inescapable. As their romantic involvement grows, Gillian begins to suspect even Lockwood’s motives. Does Lord Lockwood truly love her? Or is his interest a front for the desire to own her newly inherited property? And what should she make of her friend’s suggestion that Lockwood or men like him were involved in the murder of her father?

Soon Gillian is convinced that her father has left evidence somewhere that can prove his innocence and reveal the guilty party. But someone wants to stop her from discovering it. The closer she comes to uncovering it, the more menacing her opposition grows. With her life on the line, Gillian takes on an ingenious disguise and takes on the role of a lifetime to reveal the true killer—before it’s too late both for her and for those that she loves.

Paperback, 384 pages
 Published March 21st 2017 
by Howard Books

Sandra Byrd is not a new author to me I have enjoyed her Lady in Waiting series and have read book one in her Daughters of Hampshire series. All her books are stand alone so no need to read in order.  I have a great respect for authors who can write in different time periods.  With the Ladies in Waiting taking place in the Tudor times and Daughters during the Victorian era, so many changes over the years meaning more research for the author. Victorian England is new to me and it's only been recently that I have been turning some of my reading into that direction.

Gillian Young is a young woman grieving the sudden death of her father, a local and well respected police officer. But as accusations of illegal activity are brought to light Gillian refuses to believe that he was involved in any unsavory actions. As she tries to figure out the truth, events begin to make her question who she can and cannot trust and whether his accident was really an accident at all.  Also could he in fact be guilty as rumored to be.

I love the authors writing style she makes you feel part of the story and drew me in, making me care not just for Gillian but for those she takes under her wing. I love learning about the lifestyle in that era, the theater world and the art of costume making.

A Lady in Disguise is a great historical fiction novel that is full of mystery, suspense and intrigue. While I am not a big fan of romance novels I felt that the love story here was done perfectly and not overbearing, it fit the story in a realistic manner. This is Christian fiction, there is scripture, prayer and it was done in a realistic manner, not over the top.  Plus I loved the ending

Sandra Bryd will continue to be an author in which I anticipate her next book.  Be sure to check out my review for one of her previous works.

I received an ARC from the publisher (via Netgalley) and give my sincerely thanks for the opportunity to review A Lady in Disguise.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Review: The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green

After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict.

When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne's brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on?

With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king's mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.

Paperback, 416 pages 
Published January 3rd 2017
by Bethany House Publishers 

The Mark of the King made my 'best of 2017' list. I am giving this book 5 stars, if it was possible to give more I would.  It's been a while since I've read a book that was so spellbinding right from the beginning that I had a hard time putting it down.

There are so many things that I loved about this book starting with the cover.  It just spoke to me and gave off that warm vibe calling my name.

Right from the very first scene when Julianne, an experienced midwife, encounters tragedy at the birth I was hooked.  As the next scene plays out her time in prison the author didn't hold back and made me feel her distress and helplessness in a situation with no hope of a positive outcome.

The French colony is Louisiana in the 1720's is a very harsh, lonely and dangerous place, which Julianne finds out rather quickly.

The author's writing style was fabulous she wrote of the lifestyle in a wild and dangerous land, whether it was from the weather with its scorching heat and over abundance of bugs and dampness to the conflicts between the natives, British and even amongst themselves.  She didn't rush the story but made me feel what was going on nor did she mince words and painted an authentic print of Louisiana.

The Mark of the King is a story of survival, heartache, forgiveness, redemption and love.  Marked as Christian fiction but don't let that scare you off.  Someone once told me that as a Christian I should only be reading Christian fiction.  My response to that was if there were the type of books I love to read in that genre then I would jump at it.  Historical fiction is my favorite and I haven't really found too many books in that genre that satisfies what I love.  History can be brutal, raw and heartbreaking, I love books based on real life events and people, there needs to be depth of character and they need to be authentic and believable.   The Mark of the King is exactly what I want in both HF and CF.  It was realistic, heartfelt and genuine.  I think this book would be a hit for those that don't usually read this genre.

The book concluded with some wonderful author's note, going into detail about her motivation for writing this story.  In the writing I could feel the author's passion for this story and it's evident that she did a lot of research. It's a part of history that I didn't know existed, not only did I learn a lot about the time period with the struggles between French, natives and British but also what life was like for the early settlers.

I have already searched and ordered more books by this author and highly recommend this one.


"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Giveaway:Shadow of Whimsy: A Cape Cod Love Story by Ann Hymes

02_Shadow of Whimsy
Several generations of one family have lived, loved, and lied at Whimsy Towers, a unique oceanfront house in Chatham, Massachusetts. Strong women who refuse to be suffocated by marriage have found excitement and refuge in this house filled with artists and parties. Love surfaces in unexpected ways.

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

Romance arrives in the form of a young widower and landscape gardener with an awesome pickup truck, who likes Theresa’s dog and provides temptation to stay at Whimsy Towers. Tips of tree branches dance with the weight of birds that seem to scream warnings of danger, and the churning ocean disrupts family continuity.
Theresa learns how her Southern grandmother came to buy a storm-weathered New England house and how loveless marriage is not a mandatory life style. The final decision feels just right.

Publication Date: June 15, 2016
 Secant Publishing Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Genre: Contemporary/Women's Fiction/Literary
Add to GR Button

"In her debut novel, Hymes presents a conflicted young woman who is beginning to question her humdrum existence. From grief and loss to forgiveness and redemption, Hymes does not hold back. The author steers clear of predictable outcomes in this unexpected story, providing ample romantic suspense and witty prose to keep the reader turning pages. Chock-full of rich descriptions of the New England coast, as well as surprising scandals and an adorable dog named Gypsy, the book should satisfy even seasoned beach readers. A captivating and uplifting tale best suited for fans of meaningful beach-town romances." -Kirkus Reviews

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo

03_Ann Hymes

Ann Hymes is a retired real estate broker and mother of two grown daughters. She has a B.A. in English from Mills College and an M.A. in English from Washington College. Her published work includes creative nonfiction. An active international volunteer, including service in the Peace Corps in the 1960s, Ann lives in St. Michaels, Maryland.

Shadow of Whimsy

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review: The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

"Just because the men have gone to war, why do we have to close the choir? And precisely when we need it most!" 

 As England enters World War II's dark early days, spirited music professor Primrose Trent, recently arrived to the village of Chilbury, emboldens the women of the town to defy the Vicar's stuffy edict to shutter the church's choir in the absence of men and instead 'carry on singing'. Resurrecting themselves as "The Chilbury Ladies' Choir", the women of this small village soon use their joint song to lift up themselves, and the community, as the war tears through their lives.

 Told through letters and journals, The Chilbury Ladies' Choir moves seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. As we come to know the struggles of the charismatic members of this unforgettable outfit -- a timid widow worried over her son at the front; the town beauty drawn to a rakish artist; her younger sister nursing an impossible crush and dabbling in politics she doesn't understand; a young Jewish refugee hiding secrets about her family, and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past -- we come to see how the strength each finds in the choir's collective voice reverberates in her individual life.

 In turns funny, charming and heart-wrenching, this lovingly executed ensemble novel will charm and inspire, illuminating the true spirit of the women on the home front, in a village of indomitable spirit, at the dawn of a most terrible conflict.

Hardcover, 384 pages 
Published February 14th 2017 
by Crown Publishing Group
This book is told through letters, journals and the odd poster. One would think that it would be hard to get invested in the story that jumps back-and-forth this way or that it would be difficult to get to know the characters. But the author made it work here and it was brilliant, heartwarming and a clear picture of the ladies in this little town who are left when most of the men went off to war.

As the women are left to fill in roles that the men usually did, some reluctantly, it's when the war hits close to home  that everyone's true character comes to light. I won't go into detail about each of the different characters suffice to say that there were coming of age stories, romance where least expected, hearts softened and of course there are those that took advantage of the situation. This is war so there is also heartbreak and devastation. 

I think the author did a great job with this book, I was able to get to know the characters in fact I would like to continue hearing about their story and Chilbury during the rest of the war. Given the seriousness of World War II this book begins before the Battle of Britain where everyone thinks it will be over soon. The author was able to write a vivid story with wit and humour to offset the seriousness and show a realistic glimpse of a small town and the effects this war had on them. She made me care about the characters so much so that I hated to see the book end. From teenagers to retired women coming together in support, encouragement and to engulf each other in love and support it was a pleasure to read. 

Since this is Jennifer Ryan's debuted I can't wait to see what she comes up with next and would be thrilled with a sequel. Definitely a book I highly recommend, especially to those that loved Letters from Skye and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Thank you to TLC Tours for inviting me to be part of this tour.  My arc was provided by the publisher (via netgalley).


Jennifer Ryan lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband and their two children. Originally from Kent and then London, she was previously a nonfiction book editor.

Connect with Jennifer

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Review: The Autumn Throne by Elizabeth Chadwick

England, 1176 

Imprisoned by her husband, King Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of England, refuses to let her powerful husband bully her into submission, even as he forces her away from her children and her birthright.

Freed only by Henry's death, Eleanor becomes dowager Queen of England. But the competition for land and power that Henry stirred up among his sons has intensified to a dangerous rivalry. Eleanor will need every ounce of courage and fortitude as she crosses the Alps in winter to bring Richard his bride, and travels medieval Europe to ransom her beloved son. But even her indomitable spirit will be tested to its limits as she attempts to keep the peace between her warring sons, and find a place in the centres of power for her daughters.

Eleanor of Aquitaine's powerful story is brought to a triumphant and beautiful close by much-loved author Elizabeth Chadwick. 

 Hardcover, 512 pages
 Published September 1st 2016 by Sphere
Audiobook  18 hours, 9 minutes

If The Autumn Throne was one of my highly anticipated books of 2016,  why then did it take me 6 months to read it?  The answer really is quite simple, this is the end, the end of the trilogy, the end of a favorite trilogy, which means it will also be the end of Eleanor of Aquitaine and I didn't want it to end.  I had a rough idea of what was going to take place and maybe I figured if I didn't read then it wouldn't happen.  How silly is that?  Like I can actually change history.  In the end I went for the audio version, which was a tricky move since I loved reading the first two books in this series and wasn't sure if this would enhance or take away how I would feel about this book.  Katie Scarfe is the narrator and she did a stellar job, giving life to a book that was already full of it.

It's no secret that Elizabeth Chadwick is a favorite of mine. The amount of research she does shines through in her books bringing the Middle Ages to life with depth of character and that authentic feel to the story.  You feel like you are right there watching history unfold.

Eleanor of Aquitaine is a historical figure that I find so interesting.  Her story is that of a women well ahead of her time, Queen of two countries, mother of Kings, enduring so much at the hands of a troubled King Henry II.  The Autumn Throne continues as Eleanor is still being held hostage by her own husband. and spans the last 30 years of her life.  The mother of Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland her life is anything but boring.  There is a lot to fit into these pages as life isn't easy, from being Queen regent, the kidnapping of her son (and King), Joanna's return and John is usually up to no good (just to name a few).

This will be one of my 'best of 2017' books and I could definitely see myself rereading this series.  If you are a fan of Middle Aged HF with strong female character then this series is for you.

My hardcover copy and audiobook from my personal library.

click on cover to take you to my review

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Review: Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband, Andrew, was sent to jail and Lindsey started over with a new life.

Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with her own business and a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When Andrew is finally released from prison, Lindsey believes she has cut all ties and left the past behind her. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her, tracking her every move. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But has he really changed? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?

With Never Let You Go, Chevy Stevens delivers a chilling, twisting thriller that crackles with suspense as it explores the darkest heart of love and obsession.

Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Expected publication: March 14th 2017 
by St. Martin's Press

Chevy Stevens had me with Still Missing continued on with That Night and finally after reading the highly emotional Those Girls I wasn't sure I could handle another one.  Each book is uniquely themed and filled with 'gotta keep reading' suspense.   To be honest I didn't really read the blurb when I requested an ARC for the simple reason, it's Chevy Stevens so I should be in for a treat.

Starting Never Let You Go I had the feeling of deja vu here and my thoughts kept going back to an old Julia Roberts movie.  Once I figured out the direction this book was going I hoped for something different, a twist of some sort, something to get my mind off of that movie.  In that area the author did not disappoint, I was intrigued enough and while I found parts predictable the twists and turns kept me interesting.

I did struggle with the characters, mostly the daughter, her behavior while knowing her mothers fears and possible danger didn't sit well with me.  I liked the ending, it was one I didn't see coming.

The location of all Chevy Stevens books are favorites of mine.  I love British Columbia, having been there a number of times made it so easy for me to visualize the landscape even though the author did a great job with that (as usual).

All in all and good story that will appeal to those interested in a good mystery/suspense story.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy.

 click on cover to take you to my review

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Review: The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff

The Nightingale meets Water for Elephants in this powerful novel of friendship and sacrifice, set in a traveling circus during World War II, by international bestselling author Pam Jenoff.

A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan's Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival .

 Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

 Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

Paperback, 368 pages 
Published February 21st 2017 by Mira

While I love reading HF with a WW 2 setting there are times I look for something new and out of the ordinary.  With The Orphan's Tale taking place within a circus it fits the bill for something different, in fact I didn't even know this was taking place while the war was going on.  Promising the likes of The Nightingale, which was an absolute favorite of mine I jumped.

Astrid and Noa are two characters with completely different personalities and backgrounds.  Each with baggage they are unwilling to share, during this time period it is better not to reveal too much anyways.  What I enjoyed here was watching the friendship between these two develop.  It wasn't all rosy to begin with, but as time goes by they are ultimately forced to confide and trust each other.

While I struggled at times to connect with Noa, I found her to be immature and while she speaks of her love and devotion to Theo I didn't always feel it.  But then again she is only 16 years old working with Astrid who is older and wiser to the dangers of the war.  While there is romance here it was nice that it wasn't center stage but rather The Orphan's Tale was a story of survival, friendship and realizing that you are stronger than you think.

I was first introduced to Pam Jenoff with her novel. The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach and really enjoyed it.  The amount of research she does is evident within the pages and her writing is engaging.  I liked how she takes an unknown part of history and brings it front and center.  The author's notes at the end highlight her passion and motives for writing this book, a fitting conclusion in my eyes.

Thank you to TLC Tours for an advanced copy (via Netgalley) and invite to be part of this tour.

Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including the international bestseller The Kommandant’s Girl, which also earned her a Quill Award nomination.

Pam lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.

Connect with Pam

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Review: A Hope at the End of the World by Sarah Lark

In the chaos of World War II, Polish teenagers Helena and Luzyna Grabowski have lost everything. Without parents or a home, they are shipped to a refugee camp in Persia, where the days ahead hold only darkness. When they hear that orphans are being selected for relocation to New Zealand, Helena is filled with hope—until the officials say they have a place only for her younger sister.

 On the morning she is to be transported, Luzyna fails to join the chosen group, and Helena takes her place. But the horrors of war—and her guilt at abandoning her sister—follow Helena on the journey across the sea, as a man from her past preys on her fear and remorse.

 Though the people in New Zealand embrace her, the traumas Helena has suffered threaten her peace and blind her to the devotion of James, a charming, heroic young Allied pilot. If Helena can let go and dare to hope again, she may finally step out of the long shadow of her past to find a future made whole—a new community, a new family, a new love.

Paperback, 268 pages 
Published March 7th 2017
 by AmazonCrossing
What drew me to this book was the settings. Most books pertaining to World War II involves a European setting and it's a very rare thing to reach Iran or New Zealand.  It's a world war so it only stands to reason that the effects reach the farthermost corner of the globe.

 Beginning at an orphanage in Iran we meet two sisters separated from their parents. Even though I struggled to connect with these girls it wasn't hard to see the raw deal life threw at them.  From Poland to Siberia and now in Iran their lives have been one terrible thing after another.  The Iran setting is just a small part of this story as it the journey to New Zealand, but it is an important one that propels this book.

 One of the things I love about historical fiction is learning new things, with A Hope at the End of the World I was not aware that the actual events took place. The author notes do a great job of explaining the things and I found that very interesting and a great way to end the book.

There were times I found the story predictable and to me it had more of a young adult feel. The conflict with the Maori people was interesting. The story had a good premise and will appeal to those that like lighter historical fiction and young adult books.

Thanks to AmazonCrossing for an advanced copy (via Netgalley).

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Review: The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George

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

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

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

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

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

Hardcover, 528 pages
Expected publication: March 7th 2017 
by Berkley Books

Margaret George is synonymous with epic historical door stopper sized books. If you want a quick fluffy read don't look here. But if you're looking for something that is meaty with grit, rich in history with depth, intrigue as well as a setting steeped in political and cultural mayhem you've come to the right place.

 I have read everything that Margaret George has written though I've done it in audio book format this being my first time reading one of her books. Her books are usually close to a thousand pages in length or over 40 hours in audio. I will admit to a bit of puzzlement when I realized this book came in at only 528 pages, thankfully discovering Nero's life will be done in 2 parts, hopefully the wait for book 2 won't be too long.

 I know nothing about the historical figure Nero which made this all the more enjoyable. The Confessions of Young Nero begins when he is a very young child. Watching him grow up in the environment he was in made it all the easier to connect with him and to really get a sense of who he was turning into. To understand what made him tick and why.

 As always Margaret George captured the essence of Rome here, I loved how Paul of Tarsus made an appearance as well as the earthquake in Pompeii, even the fight for Britain with Boudicca showed the far reaches of his empire.  While at times more interested in the arts Nero was a very interesting character and I can't wait for the conclusion to his story.

If only history lessons had been like this.”—Cosmopolitan 

 “Extensively researched with the highest integrity, and deeply engaging, it sets a new benchmark for the genre.”—New York Times bestselling author Alison Weir

 “George leaves us with the most coveted prize of fiction: a world. . . we wished existed, and that thoroughly does between the covers.” —Chicago Tribune

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Audio review: The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

East London, 1888 - a city apart. A place of shadow and light where thieves, whores, and dreamers
mingle, where children play in the cobbled streets by day and a killer stalks at night, where bright hopes meet the darkest truths.

Here, by the whispering waters of the Thames, Fiona Finnegan, a worker in a tea factory, hopes to own a shop one day, together with her lifelong love, Joe Bristow, a costermonger's son. With nothing but their faith in each other to spur them on, Fiona and Joe struggle, save, and sacrifice to achieve their dreams.

But Fiona's life is shattered when the actions of a dark and brutal man take from her nearly everything-and everyone-she holds dear. Fearing her own death, she is forced to flee London for New York. There, her indomitable spirit propels her rise from a modest West Side shop-front to the top of Manhattan's tea trade. But Fiona's old ghosts do not rest quietly, and to silence them, she must venture back to the London of her childhood, where a deadly confrontation with her past becomes the key to her future.

Paperback, 557 pages 
Published December 10th 2007 
by St. Martin's Griffin (first published March 11th 2002)
audio book 28 hours 35 minutes

I became a fan of Jennifer Donnelly after reading Revolution and continued with The Northern Lights.  Both books drew me right in and didn't let go until I finished.  The Tea Rose has been on my TBR pile for so long, but I think the print copy I bought was too intimating.  An over sized trade paperback with tiny tiny print is why I went the audio version.  Coming in over 28 hours I was a little nervous hoping it would keep my attention all the way.  Jill Tanner was the reader and she did a great job.

I really enjoyed this book, the author painted a vivid picture of London during the time of Jack the Ripper, though his role isn't predominant, it does have a part.  The first couple of hours Donnelly spends times introducing not just the family but what life was like for the lower class.  Not just the struggles just to survive but the hopes and dreams of those ambitious enough to think they can overcome so many obstacles.

Centering mostly around Fiona it wasn't hard to sympathize and feel for her.  Her heartbreak was real as were her dreams.  As tragedy forces her to take a stand for herself and little brother she bravely ventures across the ocean to begin life a new in New York.

While at times I got the feeling of predictability the author surprised me with twists and turns I didn't see coming.

There were a couple things preventing me from giving this book 5 stars, things I won't mention as they would be spoilers.  

This book has it all, murder, romance, mystery, heartbreak, love and adventure (plus more).  The first book in Jennifer Donnelly's The Tea Rose Series, definitely one I highly recommend to those that love getting lost in a doorstopper sized book.

click on cover to see my review

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Review: The Blue Hour by Isabelle Simler

A lovely and tranquil celebration of nature The sun has set, the day has ended, but the night hasn't quite arrived yet. This magical twilight is known as the blue hour. Everything in nature sky, water, flowers, birds, foxes comes together in a symphony of blue to celebrate the merging of night and day.

With its soothing text and radiant artwork, this elegant picture book displays the majesty of nature and reminds readers that beauty is fleeting but also worth savoring."

Hardcover Expected publication: February 20th 2017 
by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

This is a very blue book, as the sunsets the world turns blue.  There are wonderful illustrations here, bright, realistic and sure to keep the attention of readers.  With a wonderful array of unique animals and plants showing this wonderful planet.  The map at the end finished this book off nicely depicting each critter and where they live.

The Blue House is a perfect bedtime story while at the same time great for older children introducing them to different, colorful and animals they might not be familiar with.

Thanks to the publisher via Netgalley for an advanced copy.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Review/Giveaway: Daughter of a Thousand Years by Amalia Carosella

02_daughter-of-a-thousand-yearsGreenland, AD 1000 

 More than her fiery hair marks Freydís as the daughter of Erik the Red; her hot temper and fierce pride are as formidable as her Viking father’s. And so, too, is her devotion to the great god Thor, which puts her at odds with those in power—including her own brother, the zealous Leif Eriksson. Determined to forge her own path, she defies her family’s fury and clings to her dream of sailing away to live on her own terms, with or without the support of her husband. 

New Hampshire, 2016 

Like her Icelandic ancestors, history professor Emma Moretti is a passionate defender of Norse mythology. But in a small town steeped in traditional values, her cultural beliefs could jeopardize both her academic career and her congressman father’s reelection. Torn between public expectation and personal identity, family and faith, she must choose which to honor and which to abandon. In a dramatic, sweeping dual narrative that spans a millennium, two women struggle against communities determined to silence them, but neither Freydís nor Emma intends to give up without a fight.

Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Lake Union Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 442 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Medieval Romance
Add to GR Button

Amalia Carosella is an author I discovered from her Helen of Sparta series, both of which are favorites of mine.  Click on the titles to see my reviews Helen of Sparta and By Helen's Hand.

The author has written Daughter of a Thousand Years in dual time periods.  Here we have two women born a thousand years apart and yet have the same struggles.

In present day there is Emma, daughter of a congressman up for reelection.  Being raised in a Catholic home has not automatically made her what her parents want, secretly converting to follow the path of Heathen she is forced to open up when word leaks to the media.  The timing couldn't be worse and she is forced to make decisions that affect not just herself but the rest of the family.

A thousand years ago there is Freydis, daughter of Eric the Red.  Christianity has just started to spread on the island and she isn't buying it, doing whatever she can to follow her heart and worship whom she wants to.  It's a struggle, as the family converts and being a daughter she is still expected to do what the family says.  Determined to follow her own path there are many struggles, decisions and conflicts she is forced to deal with.

It sometimes seems in dual time period books that I have a favorite setting and with this one I enjoyed reading the past story line.  With the historical elements, customs and lifestyle I found this part very interesting.  The immersion of Christianity onto these people and being Christian I would have loved to read more about that.  It has perked my interest in that area and I love when a book does that.  Freydis was a woman ahead of her time, she didn't want to waiver from her beliefs and yield to society demands but to forge her own destiny even when they could end with dire consequences.  If the whole book has been about Freydis I would have been satisfied with that.

I struggled with Emma's plight, she got off to a slow start but I loved how it picked up at the end.  I didn't alway feel her conviction in her beliefs, at times she was strong and other times her actions seem too impulsive. 

All in all a nice story and one I would recommend.  Thanks to Amy from HVBFT for the invite to be part of this tour and Lake Union for an advanced copy (via Netgalley).

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

03_amalia-carosella-authorAmalia Carosella graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelors degree in Classical Studies and English. An avid reader and former bookseller, she writes about old heroes and older gods. She lives with her husband in upstate New York and dreams of the day she will own goats (and maybe even a horse, too).

For more information, visit her blog at

She also writes myth-steeped fantasy and paranormal romance under the name Amalia Dillin. Learn more about her other works at

You can connect with Amalia Carosella on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Google+.
Sign up for her newsletter, The Amaliad, for news and updates.


To win a $25 Amazon Gift Card & a Thor's Hammer/Mjölnir Pewter Pendant, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 10th.
Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
Only one entry per household.
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Daughter of a Thousand Years


Monday, February 13, 2017

Spotlight: Berlin Calling by Kelly Durham

Happy Release Day to Kelly Durham on the release of Berlin Calling.  I was given an ARC but time just got away from me, rather than let the day go by here is a spotlight on Berlin Calling.

Germany 1938

While young and old are captivated by the country’s rapid ascent under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, naive Maggie O’Dea, an American studying abroad, finds her own fortunes turning after falling in love with a handsome soldier and landing a job with the Propaganda Ministry. Embodying the infectious spirit of nationalism sweeping the country, her powerful dispatches launch her broadcasting career as a champion of the Fatherland.

But as Germany invades one peaceful neighbor after another and the wheels of World War II are set in motion, Maggie starts opening her eyes to the grim reality of Hitler’s intentions. Torn between her successful career rooted in the allegiance to her adopted land and a growing dread over her role in a tyrant’s ruthless reign, Maggie—supported by a new love—must fight her own war of conscience. Will she survive a conflict threatening the world…and her own life?

Kindle Edition, 430 pages
 Expected publication: February 14th 2017 
by Lake Union Publishing

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Review: My (not so) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Part love story, part workplace drama, this sharply observed novel is a witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world. New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella has written her most timely novel yet.

 Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she's desperate to make her dad proud.

 Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

 Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the truth.

Paperback, 400 pages 
Expected publication: February 7th 2017 
by Bantam Press

Sophie Kinsella is my go to author when I need something light, witty and entertaining. Her Shopaholic books are favorites of mine in audio format, with the reader bringing so much life to the story. I don't know if I would have the same reaction if I read them but they were great in that format. When I started My (not so) Perfect Life my first thought was that it would also be great in audio and I actually debated about waiting until the release day to go that route. But I sat and read a little lot more and then a little more, eventually I was so immersed in Katie's life that I couldn't put it down.

Katie also known as Cat, has goals dreams and lives those dreams through her Instagram account. She has a career she wants and is apparently very good at it and a lifestyle she dreams about. But when things don't always go the way planned the real adventure begins.  Secrets take over, and a little revenge.  

The authors authors writing style brings this story together perfectly, her dialogue makes me smile and laugh out loud, her characters are not perfect and she does this all in a believable and realistic manner.

One of the things I really love is that this is not book was not over run with romance but it's about Katie who is trying to find her place in society.

This was a very enjoyable read and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a fun story with twists, turns and an unexpected ending.

Thank you to the publisher for an andvanced copy (via Netgalley).

Friday, February 3, 2017

Review: Mrs. White Rabbit by Gilles Bachelet

A hilarious twist on a classic tale Alice in Wonderland is one of the great classics of children's literature, but what does anyone actually know about Wonderland?

Through the diary of the White Rabbit's extremely busy wife, readers finally get to see what happens in the background during Alice's adventures.

 Mrs. White Rabbit loves her husband and their many children, but with an invisible housecat from Cheshire and a young female visitor who frequently changes size, living in Wonderland comes with a number of challenges.

 With an abundance of wit and charm, Mrs. White Rabbit gives Lewis Carroll's famous tale a refreshingly modern twist.

ebook - 32 pages
 Expected publication: Feb. 6th 2017
 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

I have a grandson who loves to sit and read books with Grandma.  When I see something interesting on Netgalley I try to grab for our special time together.  The cover for this one drew my attention and reading the synopsis I figured this was another great choice.  I have never read Alice in Wonderland, but know enough that I didn't think it would matter.

I downloaded this to my iPad to get the full effect of the color illustrations.  You can see from the cover how bright and colorful they are.  That continued throughout the book making the visual part of this book very enticing, the story matched the pictures nicely.

The book is written as a Dear Diary by an unhappy wife/mother. Some of the wording wouldn't have been understood by a younger child as well as some of the mothers issues as she rants on about her unhappy life.  While there were funny moments I think this book is for an older audience and those enthusiast fans of Alice in Wonderland.  

I rated this 2 stars but because of the wonderful illustrates went to 3 stars.

Thank you to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy.