Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman

Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman

A.D. 1189. After the death of his father, Henry II, and the early demise of two of his brothers, Richard is crowned King of England and immediately sets off for the Holy Land. This is the Third Crusade, marked by internecine warfare among the Christians and extraordinary campaigns against the Saracens. Richard’s surviving brother, the younger John, is left behind—and conspires with the French king to steal his brother’s throne. Only their mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, now freed from decades of captivity, remains to protect Richard’s interests and secure his destiny.

In this engrossing saga, Sharon Kay Penman delivers a novel of passion, intrigue, battle, and deceit. Lionheart is a sweeping tale of a heroic figure—feared by his enemies and beloved by those he commanded—who became a legend in his own lifetime. (back cover)

I have to admit I’ve never tried to read a book about Richard whilst he was on crusade. I feared it would be boring but it certainly wasn’t. I confess I had a crush on him in Devil’s Brood so I was so excited that this book came out.

Have to feel sorry for Berengaria though, even if the marriage started well. They were so ill-matched that I’m surprised it started that well at all. Sometimes opposites attract and all that but sometimes it’s just too different.

I really liked Joanna and how she could knock some sense into her brother’s head at times. It seems like it’s been too long since I read Devil’s Brood and I tried to remember if we met Joanna in that book also? I can’t remember.

It’s not a fast read but I didn’t find it boring. There’s a huge cast of characters and POV changes that might be annoying to some readers.

4,5/5

Published: Ballantine Books (January 1, 2013)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 624
Source: My own

A Song of War: A Novel of Troy

A Song of War: A Novel of Troy by by Christian Cameron, Libbie Hawker, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton, SJA Turney, and Russell Whitfield
Foreward by Glyn Iliffe

Troy: city of gold, gatekeeper of the east, haven of the god-born and the lucky, a city destined to last a thousand years. But the Fates have other plans—the Fates, and a woman named Helen. In the shadow of Troy’s gates, all must be reborn in the greatest war of the ancient world: slaves and queens, heroes and cowards, seers and kings . . . and these are their stories.

A young princess and an embittered prince join forces to prevent a fatal elopement.

A tormented seeress challenges the gods themselves to save her city from the impending disaster.

A tragedy-haunted king battles private demons and envious rivals as the siege grinds on.

A captured slave girl seizes the reins of her future as two mighty heroes meet in an epic duel.

A grizzled archer and a desperate Amazon risk their lives to avenge their dead.

A trickster conceives the greatest trick of all.

A goddess’ son battles to save the spirit of Troy even as the walls are breached in fire and blood.

Seven authors bring to life the epic tale of the Trojan War: its heroes, its villains, its survivors, its dead. Who will lie forgotten in the embers, and who will rise to shape the bloody dawn of a new age?

I haven’t read many books about Troy so this was a great read. While I absolutely loved this, it was also very hard to read and sometimes I didn’t even want to pick it up. Sometimes it just sucks to know the history! I would just go; Noo, he’s going to die! I don’t want that to happen!

I really liked to read about Cassandra. At times she appears to be a mad-woman and other times she seems to be the only voice of reason. It was frustrating so see how she tried to warn her people what would happen and how they just ignored her.

I liked how Helen was portrayed in a more active role as a schemer. She wasn’t just stolen from Sparta but decided to leaves on her own accord.

Another awesome collaboration by the authors. Christian Cameron was the only new author for me and I was little scared how he would do Hector’s death. I thought it was a great idea to see it through the eyes of Briseis so it was a bit less painful. I thought the chapters worked well together.

5/5

Published: Knight Media, LLC (October 18, 2016)
Format: ebook
Source: Author

2016 End of the Year Survey

Hosted by The Perpetual Page-Turner

Number Of Books You Read: 61 (including novellas etc)
Number of Re-Reads: 1
Genre You Read The Most From: Historicals

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?
I really can’t choose just one so here’s top 4 in no particular order:
A Song of War: A Novel of Troy by various
Karolina’s Twins by Ronald H. Balson
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Days of Sun and Glory by Anna Belfrage

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Girl With No Name by Diney Costeloe. It’s set in WWII and sounded so interesting but it was so boring that I didn’t finish it.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
Who Is to Blame? A Russian Riddle by Jane Marlow. I was pleasantly surprised how good this was.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
I didn’t do that.

5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?
Best new series: Da Vinci’s Disciples by Donna Russo Morin. Best sequel: Can’t choose between A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab and Days of Sun and Glory by Anna Belfrage. Best Series Ender: I didn’t end any series this year.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?
Ronald H. Balson. I loved Karolina’s Twins!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Didn’t read anything out of my comfort zone this year.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Karolina’s Twins and Time and Regret by M.K. Tod

9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
I don’t think I’m doing any re-reading.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?
The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose. I chose her book cover the best last year too :)

11. Most memorable character of 2016?
Hmm… This is a tough one… I’d say Hector from A Song of War: A Novel of Troy. Still recovering from his death…

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?
Not sure…

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?
Born Survivors by Wendy Holden

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?
A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii by various.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?
I can never remember those…

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?
Shortest: The Assassin and the Princess by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass extra)
Longest: Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
A Song of War: A Novel of Troy. So many deaths!

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
Curran and Kate from Kate Daniels.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
hmmm, I’ll say Kate and Andrea (Magic Shifts)

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Portrait of Conspiracy by Donna Russo Morin

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
I don’t think I read any

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?
Hector from A Song of War: A Novel of Troy

23. Best 2016 debut you read?
Who Is to Blame? A Russian Riddle by Jane Marlow and Promised to the Crown by Aimie K. Runyan

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Unknown Soldiers by Väinö Linna. Even though it’s a story about a war it’s fun to read because of the characters.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?
A Song of War: A Novel of Troy. That was such an emotional book and sometimes it sucks to know the history…

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Unknown Soldiers.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
A Song of War again…

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?
I don’t know

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Born Survivors by Wendy Holden. It tells about three women ho gave birth in a concentration camp.

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?
For The Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
I’m not sure what’s coming out yet…

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?
A Conjuring of Light

Mailbox Monday 26.12.2016

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia and is now hosted on its own blog.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas with their families! Here’s what I got for Christmas:


Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar by Tom Holland
Eleanor of Castile: The Shadow Queen by Sara Cockerill
Alfred the Great by Justin Pollard
The Welsh Kings: Warriors, Warlords, and Princes by Kari L. Maund
King John: England’s Evil King? by Ralph V. Turne
The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff
Ghettopäiväkirja: nuoren tytön elämä Łódźin ghetossa by Rywka Lipszyc
Isabella: Queen Without a Conscience by Rachel Bard

Duty to the Crown by Aimie K. Runyan

Duty to the Crown (Daughters of New France 2) by Aimie K. Runyan

Set amid the promise and challenge of the first Canadian colonies, Aimie K. Runyan’s vividly rendered novel provides a fascinating portrait of the women who would become the founding mothers of New France.

In 1677, an invisible wall separates settlers in New France from their Huron neighbors. Yet whether in the fledgling city of Quebec or within one of the native tribes, every woman’s fate depends on the man she chooses—or is obligated—to marry.

Although Claudine Deschamps and Gabrielle Giroux both live within the settlement, their prospects are very different. French-born Claudine has followed her older sister across the Atlantic hoping to attract a wealthy husband through her beauty and connections. Gabrielle, orphan daughter of the town drunkard, is forced into a loveless union by a cruel law that requires her to marry by her sixteenth birthday. And Manon Lefebvre, born in the Huron village and later adopted by settlers, has faced the prejudices of both societies and is convinced she can no longer be accepted in either. Drawn into unexpected friendship through their loves, losses, and dreams of home and family, all three women will have to call on their bravery and resilience to succeed in this new world… (publisher)

This book follows Manon, Gabrielle and Claudine who we met in the last book.

All the girls are from different backgrounds but they all have their lives intertwined. Manon is back with the Lefebvre family after being cast out by her Huron village. Both the Hurons and the French treat her with suspicion. Claudine becomes to live with her sister at the Lefebvre mansion and has big dreams about finding a young, handsome and rich husband. Gabrielle works at her adoptive parents’ bakery and dreams about becoming a seamstress.

I loved to see how the girls changed during the time. Claudine became from a silly girl into a devoted mother and realizes that she might have to lower her standards with life and getting a husband. Gabrielle went from an alcoholic and abusive father to an abusive husband but manages to change her life and finds love in her life. Manon finds her life between two very different worlds and found love and family.

I really loved this book and I’m hoping there will be a 3rd book.

4/5

Published: Kensington (October 25, 2016)
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

Who Is to Blame? A Russian Riddle by Jane Marlow

02_who-is-to-blameWho Is to Blame? A Russian Riddle by Jane Marlow

Jane Marlow’s debut novel is a beautifully written historical saga of two families—one born of noble heritage and the other bound as serfs to the noble’s household. Set during the mid-1800s in the vast grainfields of Russia, Who Is to Blame? follows the lives of two star-crossed serfs, Elizaveta and Feodor, torn apart by their own families and the Church while simultaneously trapped in the inhumane life of poverty to which they were born.

At the other end of the spectrum, Count Maximov and his family struggle to maintain harmony amidst a tapestry of deception and debauchery woven by the Count’s son. The plot twists further when the Tsar emancipates twenty million serfs from bondage as the rural gentry’s life of privilege and carelessness has taken its final bow, while much of Russia’s nobility faces possible financial ruin.

Aficionados of historical fiction will be captivated by the lyrical flow of Marlow’s intertwining stories of love, loss, courage, and pain against her backdrop of social upheaval. The novel’s riddles flow subtly throughout, spurring readers to ponder where the blame actually lies. In the end, we must tap into our own hearts to navigate the depths and quandaries of the author’s perplexing question.

“When you try to describe Russia you can use well-known historical events. If you want to know about the lives of the Russian people, it becomes a little murkier until now. Jane Marlow has done a marvelous job in giving the reader a deep and beautiful insight into the day to day life of the Russian people from nobles to the peasants in the 19th century. As you immerse yourself in the book you can feel their struggles and experiences as though you were walking in their shoes. Brilliant!” -Mark Schauss, host of the Russian Rulers History Podcast.

The book is set in the 1800s before the emancipation of the serfs and follows Count Stepan Maximov and Elizaveta who is a peasant.

Elizaveta loves her childhood friend but they can’t marry because marrying your godparents’ child can’t happen. Instead, she has to marry a man she knows is a violent one and the marriage isn’t a happy one. But it seems like abusiveness kinda runs in Ermak’s family and Elizaveta’s sister-in-laws aren’t having any more luck in their lives.

Maximov’s lost their child and Stepan’s wife never got over her grief and it starts to affect their marriage too. Stepan struggles to run the estate, to find new ways to grow and develop it but new things takes time. In the latter part, we see more of Anton, the eldest Maximov son who spends most of his time drinking and playing cards.

I don’t really know what to say about this. I loved the book and was pleasantly surprised how good it was. It’s always hardest to write about a book you like… I just wanted to keep reading and wanting to know what happens next!

You can see that the author has done her research and there are lots of little details but it’s well written in the story.

We get to see how disconnected the nobility and the peasants were and had so little contact with each other. Nobility thought that the peasants should be thankful because they are being taken care of…. By working them to death yet they were seen as just lazy…

I wanted to slap Anton so many times that I’m not surprised that Stepan was so frustrated with him. He did change his ways a bit in the end but I would like to know if he manages to really change. But I think there is next book coming so I’m hoping we’ll see that.

4/5

Published: River Grove Books (October 18, 2016)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 301
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Mailbox Monday (28.12.2016)

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia and is now hosted on its own blog.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted my mailbox but these are what I’ve got in the past month or so. I’ve already read Who Is to Blame? and loved it.

books28-12-16
The Heaven Tree by Edith Pargeter (bookmooch)
Storm Born by Richelle Mead (bookmooch)
Who Is to Blame? A Russian Riddle by Jane Marlow (for review)

Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula’s Rome by Sherry Christie

02_roma-amorRoma Amor: A Novel of Caligula’s Rome
by Sherry Christie

Marcus Carinna hears a voice whisper, “Your turn,” as he rides past his family tomb. An unseen presence also startles the Germanic priestess Aurima, whom he is bringing to Rome. But hardheaded Romans scoff at ghosts, and Marcus can’t believe it’s a warning from his brother, who killed himself three years earlier.

37 AD: To great acclaim, 25-year-old Caligula Caesar has become Rome’s new master. No one is more pleased than Senator Titus Carinna, who helped him succeed to the throne. It’s a shame the Senator’s older son–Caligula’s closest friend–committed suicide after being charged with treason. But that still leaves Marcus, his second son.

Headstrong and hot-tempered, Marcus would rather prove his courage by leading legions against Rome’s enemies than take his brother’s place. Yet when his father orders him to befriend Caligula, he has no choice.

Caught in a web of deceit, conspiracy, and betrayal, he will uncover a secret that threatens his family, the woman he desires, even his life… and may bring chaos to the young Roman Empire.

The first installment in a page-turning saga that revisits the heroes and villains of the grandest city of the ancient world…. Comes alive with the long gone characters who were its lifeblood” -Kirkus Reviews

‘Combines current political concerns, the wide lens of the serious historical novel, and emotional maturity and realism with an utterly splendid grasp of what it must have been like to live in Rome under Caligula’s reign.” -Sarah Smith, Agatha Award winner and New York Times Notable author

Marcus Carinna isn’t happy when his father orders him to leave the army life behind and come back to Rome and befriend the new Caesar Caligula. Three years ago Marcus’ brother (and Caligula’s best friend) committed suicide after charged with treason and Marcus hasn’t forgiven his father that he let it happen. It’s after he becomes Caligula’s friend he starts to unravel old family secrets.

I liked Marcus who was so devoted to learning the truth about his brother’s death. He had earned quite a reputation in Rome but seemed committed to reforming his name and to live up to his father’s expectations. When Marcus develops an interest in the Marcomanni Priestess called Aurima, his father is less than pleased.

I really liked Aurima and the chapters with the so-called barbarians. We see that women had much more rights in their life than the Roman women. I’ve never read books with Caligula with in it so this was new. Didn’t really make me like Romans more than usually…

In the end, I really loved this and it was quite a quick read too.

Published: Bexley House Books (April 15, 2016)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author03_Sherry Christie

After earning a Phi Beta Kappa creative award in college for an early draft about a nobly born charioteer, Sherry Christie spent many years of research and revision developing ROMA AMOR into the story about fathers and sons that it wanted to be. It’s a joy to immerse myself in the lives of first-century Romans–and a distinct change from my day job as a . In addition to writing, Sherry is a professional copywriter. She lives on the coast of Maine with a native-born Viking and two cats.

For more information, please visit Sherry Christie’s website. You can also connect with her on Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 24
Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 25
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, October 26
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook

Friday, October 28
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Monday, October 31
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, November 1
Review at Bookfever

Wednesday, November 2
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, November 4
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, November 7
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, November 9
Review at Bookramblings
Review at The Book Junkie Reads
Interview at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, November 10
Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, November 11
Review at Beth’s Book Nook
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Guest Post at The True Book Addict

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