Sunday, October 29, 2017

Review: Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen (Six Tudor Queens #1) by Alison Weir

The lives of Henry VIII's queens make for dramatic stories and Alison Weir will write a series of novels that offer insights into the real lives of the six wives based on extensive research and new theories.

In all the romancing, has anyone regarded the evidence that Anne Boleyn did not love Henry VIII? Or that Prince Arthur, Katherine of Aragon's first husband, who is said to have loved her in fact cared so little for her that he willed his personal effects to his sister? Or that Henry VIII, an over-protected child and teenager, was prudish when it came to sex? That Jane Seymour, usually portrayed as Henry's one true love, had the makings of a matriarch? There is much to reveal ...

Alison will write about the wives in the context of their own age and of the court intrigues that surrounded these women and - without exception - wrecked their lives. She will transport readers into a lost and vivid world of splendour and brutality: a world in which love, or the game of it, dominates all.

Hardcover, 700 pages 
Published May 5th 2016 
*** 1/2

This is the first book in Alison Weir's series on the wives of Henry VIII. Weir is a widely known British historian who writes both fiction and nonfiction, a number that I have read.

One of the things that attracted me to this series is that it is told from the perspective of the wife. I have previously read books on Katherine of Aragon but usually from someone else’s point of view, for me this was a nice change to get inside her head and get a different perspective. Always fascinated with Katherine, daughter of Queen Isabel of Castile and King Ferdinand of Spain, I took her to be strong and courageous. She is married the longest to Henry and takes her marriage vows very seriously. It was a refreshing change seeing her side of the story, while there was still political and religious strife played out here it did not overpower the story like it would have from other points of view.

Well I enjoyed reading this book it did take me most of the summer to complete it. It wasn’t the type that have me begging to read but rather I would pick up and read a couple chapters throughout the week while reading other things. The author stayed true to the time period using historical documents and quoting from them throughout this book sometimes giving the feel of a history lesson. Having said that reading this has given me a new appreciation for Katherine, with all that she went through, from the death of her first husband, Arthur and the many years between till her marriage to Henry. There were many pregnancies, alienation at court while dealing with Henry’s tirades and ultimate abandonment over Anne Boleyn.  Alison Weir has written a detailed account of Katherine’s life.

Definitely a series I will continue to read.

 Hardcover copy part of my personal library.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Review: The Promise of Dawn (Under Northern Skies #1) by Lauraine Snelling

Beloved Author Lauraine Snelling Launches New Immigrant Series

 When Signe, her husband, Rune, and their three boys arrive in Minnesota from Norway to help a relative clear his land of lumber, they dream of owning their own farm and building a life in the New World. But Uncle Einar and Aunt Gird are hard, demanding people, and Signe and her family soon find themselves worked nearly to the bone in order to repay the cost of their voyage. At this rate, they will never have land or a life of their own.

 Signe tries to trust God but struggles with anger and bitterness. She has left behind the only life she knew, and while it wasn't an easy life, it wasn't as hard as what she now faces. When a new addition to the family arrives, Signe begins to see how God has been watching over them throughout their ordeal. But after all that has happened, can she still believe in the promise of a bright future?

 Paperback, 386 pages
 Published August 1st 2017 
by Bethany House Publishers

Lauraine Snelling is a new author for me and this, The Promise of Dawn, is the first book in her Northern Skies Series.

It is April 1909 when this book begins. Having never read this author before I was looking forward to being transported back in time. To feel the emotions of leaving family behind, sailing clear across the globe to begin a new life in a land full of new opportunities. The author did just that, from their treatment as lower class citizens by people they didn’t know to even worse treatment by family. Once arriving at their destination, where family awaiting things don’t goes at planned. In fact it really is kinda horrible what awaited this little family.  Talk about having your dreams shattered.

The author doesn't mince words while describing what it takes to run a household in 1909, I was exhausted for poor Signe and Rune. With both of them telling this story and getting inside their heads brought The Promise of Dawn to life. While there were parts I found repetitive I think that worked in the author's favor as it showed what the folks of that era had to do, everyday over and over again.  The story flowed along nicely with a fitting conclusion leaving me anxious for the next book in this series.

releases April 2018
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 “Book has been provided  courtesy of Baker Publishing and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Spotlight/Giveaway: The Painter's Apprentice by Laura Morelli

Category: Adult Fiction, 482 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: The Scriptorium
Release date: November 15, 2017

Would you rather sacrifice your livelihood, your lover, or your life? When the Black Death comes knocking on your door, you’d better decide quickly.

Venice, 1510. Maria Bartolini wants nothing more than to carry on her father’s legacy as a master gilder. Instead, her father has sent her away from the only home she’s ever known to train as an apprentice to Master Trevisan, a renowned painter.

When the painter’s servants uncover the real reason why Maria has been sent away, they threaten to reveal a secret that could tear down her family and the future of their trade. She is forced to buy the servants’ silence, but as their greed steadily grows, Maria resorts to more desperate measures. She questions whether her heart’s desire is worth risking her family, her trade, and her future, but Maria’s sacrifices may amount to nothing if the plague arrives on her father’s doorstep before she is able to get back home.

From the author of the award-winning The Gondola Maker comes a rich tale of Renaissance Venice, a heroine with a lust for life, and love against all odds.
Pre-Order Campaign:
Laura Morelli's new book, The Painter’s Apprentice, is out on November 15, and she is offering a set of great bonuses exclusively to her readers. If you like to delve deeper into the “story behind the story,” you’ll want to take advantage of Laura’s pre-order package (ends Oct 31st), which takes readers behind the scenes of The Painter’s Apprentice with videos, pictures, commentary about Renaissance Venice, and other exclusive content.

 Learn more here and order your copy today!

Buy the Book:

LAURA MORELLI holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, has taught college students in the U.S. and in Italy, and currently produces art history lessons for TED-Ed. She authored a column for National Geographic Traveler called “The Genuine Article” and has contributed pieces about art and authentic travel to CNN Radio, The Frommers Travel Show, and in USA TODAY, Departures, and other media.

Laura is the author of the Authentic Arts guidebook series that includes the popular book Made in Italy. Her fiction brings the stories of art history to life. Her debut novel, The Gondola Maker, won an IPPY for Best Historical Fiction and a Benjamin Franklin Award.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Nov 25

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Review/Giveaway: Pleasing Mr. Pepys by Deborah Swift

London 1667. Set in a London rising from the ruins of the Great Fire, Pleasing Mr Pepys is a vivid re-imagining of the events in Samuel Pepys’s Diary. 

Desperate to escape her domineering aunt, Deb Willet thinks the post of companion to well-respected Elisabeth Pepys is the answer to her prayers. But Samuel Pepys’s house is not as safe as it seems. An intelligent girl in Deb’s position has access to his government papers, and soon she becomes a target of flamboyant actress Abigail Williams, a spy for England’s enemies, the Dutch. 

Abigail is getting old and needs a younger accomplice. She blackmails Deb into stealing Pepys’s documents. Soon, the respectable life Deb longs for slides out of her grasp. Mr Pepys’s obsessive lust for his new maid increases precisely as Abigail and her sinister Dutch spymaster become more demanding. When Deb falls for handsome Jem Wells, a curate-in-training, she thinks things cannot possibly get worse. 

Until – not content with a few stolen papers – the Dutch want Mr Pepys’s Diary.

Publication Date: September 28, 2017
Accent Press
eBook & Paperback; 407 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
I have been a fan of Deborah Swift's since reading The Lady's Slipper and The Gilded Lily.  She has that great ability to transport this reader back in time and become fully immersed in her books.

Reading in the 1600's is not a time I visit that often, being unfamiliar with the history and events it is always a treat to learn more especially at the hands of an author who has definitely done the research.  To be honest I really couldn't even have told you who the King was at the time let alone heard of Samuel Pepy, and it's learning about these unknown (to me anyways) figures that I thoroughly enjoy.  Even Deb Willet is from the pages of history, though not much is known and the author does a great job creating her story.

Deborah Swift did not disappoint, her research shines through here.  Told from different POV's I was able to get into the heads of different characters which balanced out the story nicely.  England is still recovering after the Great Fire, it's created dire situations for a vast majority of it's citizens as well as political tension with the Dutch, life isn't easy.  With vivid descriptions it wasn't hard to feel the conditions and despair.

Definitely a book I highly recommend and my thanks to HFVBT for the invite to be part of this tour.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Chapters


Deborah Swift is the author of three previous historical novels for adults, The Lady’s Slipper, The Gilded Lily, and A Divided Inheritance, all published by Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, as well as the Highway Trilogy for teens (and anyone young at heart!). Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress prize for new novelists. She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District – a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.

For more information, please visit Deborah Swift's website.

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed copy of Pleasing Mr. Pepys to one lucky winner! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
 – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on October 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
 – Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
 – Only one entry per household. Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Pleasing Mr. Pepys

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Excerpt: Lilac Lane by Sherryl Woods

No one writes about friends, family and home better than Sherryl Woods. Told with warmth and humor, Lilac Lane is a brand-new story in her beloved Chesapeake Shores series, one readers all over the world have waited two years to read!

 At the heart of Lilac Lane is Keira Malone, who raised her three children alone after her first marriage broke apart, and who, after years of guarding her heart, finally finds love again. But that love is short-lived when her fiancĂ© suffers a fatal heart attack. Grieving and unsure of what’s next, Keira agrees to move from Dublin to Chesapeake Shores, Maryland, to spend time with her daughter, Moira, and her new granddaughter, Kate, as well as to help her son-in-law, Luke, with his Irish pub, O’Briens

 Not wanting to live underfoot, she rents a charming cottage on Lilac Lane, replete with views of the ocean and her neighbor’s thriving garden—not to mention views of the neighbor himself. The neighbor is none other than Bryan Laramie, the brusque and moody chef at the pub, with whom Keira is constantly butting heads. But things get real when Bryan’s long-lost daughter, whom he hasn’t seen since she was a baby, shows up out of the blue. As Bryan and Keira each delve into their pasts, reopening wounds, the rest of the town is gearing up for the Fall Festival Irish Stew cook-off, and making no bones about whose side they’re on. It’s Kitchen Wars meets This is Your Life—a recipe for disaster…or a new take on love?

You won’t want to miss this epic return to Chesapeake Shores, a place we’re betting you’ll want to stay forever.

Hardcover, 352 pages 
Expected publication: October 17th 2017 
by Mira Books

be sure to click on icon for more stops on this tour 
(including excerpts and reviews)

“I never miss an opportunity to see the water,” Kiera responded at once. “It’s one of the reasons I found my little cottage so appealing. There’s a glimpse of the bay from the yard.” “There’s an even better view from upstairs in my house,”

Bryan said. “When I leave my bedroom windows open, I can hear the lapping of the waves on the shore.”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Bryan regretted them. He’d spoken the truth, but it had sounded far too close to an invitation. He couldn’t be certain from her expression if Kiera had heard it that way, but he knew absolutely that the provocative image of her in his room, in his bed, wouldn’t be going away anytime soon. It shocked him just how powerful that image was.


At the questioning note in Kiera’s voice, he snapped back to the moment and realized a waitress had arrived and was waiting for their orders. “An espresso for me,” he said quickly. “Kiera?”

“I’ve already ordered a cappuccino,” she said, her lips twitching as she tried to hold back a smile.

“Well, that’s all, then,” he said, then met her gaze. “Unless you’d like something to eat.”

“The coffee will do.”

“Sure thing,” the waitress said, leaving them alone.

“Was your mind wandering?” Kiera teased. “I have to wonder where it went. It must have been a pleasant place.”

“Nowhere worth following,” he assured her, then focused his attention on the boats chugging along on the bay in the morning sunlight. It was a tranquil picture, far more tranquil than his oddly chaotic thoughts.

It had suddenly occurred to him that he was actually on something that some people would consider a date. When he’d issued the impulsive invitation, he’d given it no thought beyond the momentary desire to have Kiera’s company for a little longer before their day started at the pub. They seemed to do better with each other away from that atmosphere. Now he was realizing it was a step, albeit a tiny one, toward a more complicated relationship, something he’d successfully avoided for years.

Because he and Melody had never divorced, he’d considered himself unavailable for anything more than the most casual encounters. He was always honest with the women he’d dated, making sure they understood he wasn’t looking for anything lasting. But trying to explain why he wasn’t interested in more was too personal to share, so he avoiding anything that might be leading toward that uncomfortable conversation. Was he actually willing to have that conversation with Kiera? He couldn’t quite envision it, which meant he needed to be very careful about any signals he sent to her. “For a man who said his morning had gotten off to a good start not that long ago, you’re looking increasingly troubled,”

Kiera said. “Have I said something to make you uneasy?” “Not at all,” he said at once. “I’m just not used to doing
things like this.”

She stared at him blankly. “Like what? Having coffee?” He nodded, then chuckled. “Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?” “We’ve had coffee before,” she reminded him. “Well,
you’ve had coffee and I’ve had tea, but it’s the same sort of thing.”

“That was at the pub. This is entirely different. Can’t you see that?” Even as he spoke he knew that he was making way too much of an innocent hour at a sidewalk cafĂ©.

Kiera simply looked puzzled, but before he could attempt an explanation, Mick O’Brien came striding down the street from the direction of his wife’s art gallery and spotted them. He paused at their table, then looked pointedly from Bryan to Kiera and back again. “Well, this is a surprise,” he said, grabbing a chair from a neighboring table and pulling it over without waiting for an invitation. “Imagine seeing the two of you here,” he said, then pointedly added, “together.”


With her roots firmly planted in the South, Sherryl Woods has written many of her more than 100 books in that distinctive setting, whether in her home state of Virginia, her adopted state, Florida, or her much-adored South Carolina. Sherryl is best known for her ability to creating endearing small town communities and families.

She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 75 romances for Silhouette Desire and Special Edition.

Connect with Sherryl 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Review: The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook

Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl.

It’s no challenge—her readings have always been faked, but this time she has some insider knowledge. The kidnapping was supposed to be easy—no one would get hurt and she’d get the money she needs to start a new life.

But a seemingly harmless prank has turned dark, and Skye realizes the people she’s involved with are willing to kill to get what they want and she must discover their true identity before it’s too late.

Hardcover, 320 pages 
expected publication: October 3rd 2017 
by HMH Books for Young Readers

Happy Release Day to Eileen Cook on the publication of The Hanging Girl. Marketed for young readers, I think it fit the bill nicely. The cover was the first thing I noticed when this popped up on Netgally, and I can't really put into words why - it's eerie and begs to be picked up and read.

'trust no one. deceive everyone.' - matches the story perfectly!

As you can read from the synopsis above the premise for this story is intriguing, with false tarot cards, a kidnapping prank along with Skye's inside info, but then everything starts to go terribly wrong. As I dug deeper realized there are many layers here and secrets of the past always come to light one way or another.

Once I started reading it didn't take long to be sucked right in, especially getting to know Skye, she is honest in her untruthfulness and one can't help feel sympathy towards her (though at times she is hard to even like), she has a hard life and it appears will do anything to change that and get out of this small town.

There were many twists and turns to the story that kept me guessing and just when I thought I figured things out there would be another flip. The ending I didn't see coming and I love it when an author does that.

This is my first book by Eileen Cook and I am anxious to read more.

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