Shadow of the Raven by Millie Thom

Millie ThomShadow of the Raven (Sons of Kings 1) by Millie Thom

A tale of Viking raids, hapless thralls, noble kings and their sons and friendship and love. Above all else, a tale of unforgivable betrayal and the ever-present desire for revenge…

The life of Eadwulf, ten-year old son of the Mercian king, is changed forever when his family is betrayed to the Danes by his treacherous uncle. In a Danish raid, his father is killed and his mother is raped. And along with his tutor and childhood friend, Eadwulf is captured and taken to the Danish lands to be sold as a slave. As a thrall in Jarl Ragnar’s village, Eadwulf’s life is hard, his days unbearably long. But on the return of Bjorn, the jarl’s jovial firstborn, from his summer raids, Eadwulf’s life greatly improves. Under the protective wing of Bjorn and his crew, he spends the next few years sailing to places he’d never even dreamed of, trading and raiding. And though he’s still a thrall, he becomes a well-respected member of Bjorn’s closely knit crew. But through it all, the smouldering desire for revenge on those who destroyed his family refuses to abate. Eadwulf’s tale plays out against the backdrop of events unfolding in Wessex in the face of escalating Danish raids. Alfred, the fifth son of the Wessex king, faces family tragedies from an early age, losing first his mother, then his beloved sister when she is married to the new Mercian king. At his father’s court and the successive courts of his three elder brothers, he learns the weighty art of kingship. And, like Eadwulf, he learns the harshest lesson of all . . . that a trusted kinsman can so easily turn traitor.

This is the story of the early years of Alfred of Wessex and the fictional Eadwulf of Mercia, son of Beorhtwulf of Mercia. Eadwulf is 10 years when his home is attacked by Vikings, his father killed and Eadwulf taken as a slave. He learns the viking ways and in time earns the respect of his master Bjorn. Meanwhile Alfred is growing as the king’s youngest child who is already showing piousness as a 4 year old. Mature for his years, his life is also turning upside down when his mother dies.

This started really slow but I’m glad I kept reading because after it started picking up it was good. Eadwulf goes from being king’s son to a slave, thrall, and becoming one of them. But he never forgot who he is or where he came from and longs to avenge his family.
Alfred is so young that he doesn’t really do anything in this book but I’ll look forward seeing more about him.

There’s lot of great minor characters like Bjorn and his sister Freydis and I hope we get to see some of them in the future.

3,5/5

Published: self published (2015)
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

DarkerA Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic 1) by V.E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last travelers – magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There’s Grey London, without magic and ruled by the mad King George III. Red London- where magic is revered, and where Kell was raised alongside the heir to the empire. White London – where people fight to control the remaining magic and magic fights back. And once there was Black London.

Officially Kell is the Red traveller, carrying letters between the monarchs of each London. Unofficially he is a smuggler, a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences. His escape to Grey London leads to a run-in with Delilah, a cutpurse with lofty aspirations, who forces Kell to take her on a proper adventure. But perilous magic is afoot, and an adventure becomes a mission to save all of the worlds. (back cover)

I really liked the idea of different worlds where in all of them there’s London in the same place. All of the worlds have something in common and still are very different.

Kell can travel between the worlds and it’s a rare ability since only two is known to possess it nowdays. He was raised with the royal family but doesn’t feel he belong there but I liked his relationship with his foster brother Rhy, the heir to the throne. Kell doesn’t know who his parents are or anything about his childhood and I hope we learn more about his past in the future. And he has a coat that has many sides depending how he wants to look. How cool is that?

When we first meet Lila I wasn’t too excited. I don’t know, I guess she was too reckless, selfish and caused unnecessary problems which lead to me wanting to shake some sense into her. But she did grow on me and I started to like her more.

This was my first book by the author and I really look forward reading rest of this series!

4/5

Published: Titan Books (2015)
Format: paperback
Pages: 384
Source: library

Mailbox Monday (15.6.15)

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

I just realised that I haven’t posted mailbox monday since April. But it’s been quiet in my mailbox which is a good thing… But here’s what I got in the last few weeks:

books15.6.15
Bitter Blood by Rachel Caine (bookmooch)
Odin’s Child by Bruce MacBain (for review)
Visions by Kelley Armstrong (bought)

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

red queenRed Queen (Red Queen 1) by Victoria Aveyard

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood–those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard–a growing Red rebellion–even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal. (Goodreads)

In Mare Barrow’s world there’s two kinds of people: those who has Red Blood and those who have Silver Blood. Those with Silver blood are “better” people and have magical gifts while those with Red blood do not have any gifts and are more on the poor side. Those Reds who turn 18 and don’t have a job, are sent into army on the war front.

One night Mare meets a stranger who arranges a job for her in the court. There she discovers she has powers while it’s unheard for a Red to have one and Silvers hatch a plan so the world won’t discover the news.

There was huge hype for this some time ago so I was little nervous to start this and I have to say that I have mixed feelings about this. I liked the idea of Silvers and Reds but I just didn’t connect with the characters enough. There wasn’t any chemistry between Mare and Cal, or Mare and Maven. I kinda liked Cal alone but with Mare there was no sparks flying.

I liked the end but otherwise it was little slow and especially in the middle it dragged too much.

And our heroine Mare… The first problem I have is with her name. First thing that comes to mind is a (female) horse. Second thing is brood mare. Can you see a theme here? Every time I read her name I wondered if we would start talking about horses. So distracting…
She’s just so naïve it’s a wonder how she has survived this long. She tells us how good she is reading people and that she’s no one’s fool. Umm yeah… I don’t know how many times I wanted to shake some sense into her.

But as I said I liked the end, which saved the book for me and earned the third star. So it wasn’t all bad.

3/5

Published: Harper Teen (2015)
Format: paperback
Pages: 388
Source: library

Spotlight: Phoenix Rising by Hunter S. Jones

02_Phoenix Rising_CoverPublication Date: May 19, 2015
MadeGlobal Publishing
eBook; ASIN: B00X806742
Genre: Historical Fiction

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The last hour of Anne Boleyn’s life…

Court intrigue, revenge and all the secrets of the last hour are revealed as one queen falls and another rises to take her place on destiny’s stage.

A young Anne Boleyn arrives at the court of King Henry VIII. She is to be presented at the Shrovetide pageant, le Ch‚teau Vert. The young and ambitious Anne has no idea that a chance encounter before the pageant will lead to her capturing the heart of the king. What begins as a distraction becomes his obsession and leads to her destruction.

Love, hate, loyalty and betrayal come together in a single dramatic moment… the execution of a queen. The history of England will be changed for ever.

Praise for Phoenix Rising

“Compelling, captivating and moving.” Claire Ridgway, The Anne Boleyn Files

“Thought provoking, esoteric and heart wrenching.” – R.J.Askew, blogger, reviewer, author and journalist

Phoenix Rising Available at

Amazon

About the Author03_Hunter S. Jones_Author

Deb Hunter publishes as Hunter S. Jones. Her best-selling novel, “September Ends” won awards for Best Independently Published Novel and Best Romance, based on its unique blending of poetry and prose. Her story “The Fortune Series” received best-selling status on Amazon in the Cultural Heritage and Historical Fiction categories. She has been published by H3O Eco mag, LuxeCrush, Chattanooga Times-Free Press, and is now a freelance contributor for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. She has recently been accepted into the prestigious Rivendell Writers Colony. Her arts, music and culture blogs on ExpatsPost.com are filled with eclectic stories regarding music, writing, the arts and climate awareness. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her Scottish born husband. Her undergrad degree is in History with an emphasis on the English Renaissance and Reformation.

For more information please visit Hunter S. Jones’ website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Phoenix Rising Blog Tour

Tuesday, May 19
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Wednesday, May 20
Guest Post & Giveaway at The Anne Boleyn Files
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Thursday, May 21
Review at Book Drunkard

Friday, May 22
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Saturday, May 23
Spotlight at Curling up by the Fire

Monday, May 25
Review at JulzReads
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, May 26
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, May 27
Review at Book Nerd
Guest Post at The Readers Hollow

Thursday, May 28
Review at Bookramblings

Friday, May 29
Review at The Reading Queen

Saturday, May 30
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Spotlight at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Sunday, May 31
Review at Genre Queen
Spotlight at Unshelfish

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The Holy Lance by Andrew Latham

02_The Holy Lance_CoverThe Holy Lance (The English Templars 1) by Andrew Latham

The year is 1191. A daring counterattack against the Saracensí last-ditch effort to relieve the besieged city of Acre has not only saved the Christian host from a fatal defeat; it has also brought the leader of that counterattack, English Templar Michael Fitz Alan, to the attention of King Richard the Lionheart.

In the days that follow, the king charges Fitz Alan with a life-or-death mission ñ to recover the Holy Lance, a long-lost religious relic widely believed to be responsible for the near-miraculous success of the First Crusade.

The ensuing quest leads Fitz Alan and a hand-picked band of Templars on a journey deep into enemy territory, where they battle Saracens, Assassins, hostile Christians and even a traitor within their own ranks as they seek to return the Holy Lance to Christian hands and thereby ensure the success of the crusade.

I have to confess that I though there would be less religious stuff and more historical fiction stuff. I realize that Templars are connected to church but yeah I’m stupid.

King Richard sends Fitz Alan to get Spear of Longinus, it’s believed to have pierced Christ on the cross, because he believes that it will turn the war on his side. But after Saladin hears about this quest he sends men to retrieve it too, so there’s a race against time to get hold of the spear.

The most interesting thing in the book was the protagonist Michael Fitz Alan. He used to be a knight in England but joined the Templars trying to find a life without murder, violence and other base impulses and temptations. There were hints about Fitz Alan’s past association with Richard and I was very curious to know what has happened because it certainly didn’t give good impressions to Fitz Alan about the king.

The book is action packed with lots of battle scenes but I though those were engaging. We get very realistic picture of Templars, Saracens and Crusaders. On all sides there is both good and bad people, genuinely devout and then those who are more political schemers.

While the religious aspect made me skip some parts, prayers and stuff, otherwise the book was gripping and well researched.

3/5

Published: Knox Robinson Publishing (March 24, 2015)
Format: hardcover
Pages: 360
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author03_Andrew Latham_Author

Knox Robinson author Andrew A. Latham is an award-winning professor of International Relations who regularly teaches courses in medieval political thought, international relations, and war. Trained as a Political Scientist, Latham has spent the last decade-and-a-half researching political violence in the Middle Ages. He has written scholarly articles on medieval war, the crusades, jihad, and the political thought of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas. His most recent book is a work of non-fiction entitled Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics: War and World Order in the Age of the Crusades.

Latham was born in England, raised in Canada and currently lives in the United States. He graduated from York University in Toronto with a BA (Honours) in Political Science, later earned an MA from Queenís University in Kingston and, later yet, a PhD from his alma mater, York.

Latham is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Historical Writersí Association and De Re Militari: The Society For Medieval Military History.

Since 1997 Latham has been a member of the Political Science Department at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he where he lives with his wife Wendy, daughter Bernadette and son Michael.

For more information and updates, please visit Andrew Latham’s website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

The Holy Lance Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 4
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, May 7
Guest Post & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Friday, May 8
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Sunday, May 10
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Monday, May 11
Review at A Book Geek
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, May 12
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, May 13
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, May 14
Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, May 15
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace

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The Novice by Taran Matharu

SummonerThe Novice (Summoner 1) by Taran Matharu

Fletcher was nothing more than a humble blacksmith’s apprentice, when a chance encounter leads to the discovery that he has the ability to summon demons from another world. Chased from his village for a crime he did not commit, he must travel with his demon to the Vocans Academy, where the gifted are trained in the art of summoning.

The academy will put Fletcher through a gauntlet of gruelling lessons, training him as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against the savage orcs. Rubbing shoulders with the children of the most powerful nobles in the land, Fletcher must tread carefully. The power hungry Forsyth twins lurk in the shadows, plotting to further their family’s interests. Then there is Sylva, an elf who will do anything she can to forge an alliance between her people and Hominum, even if it means betraying her friends. Othello is the first ever dwarf at the academy, and his people have long been oppressed by Hominum’s rulers, which provokes tension amongst those he studies alongside.

Fletcher will find himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with nothing but his demon Ignatius to help him. As the pieces on the board manoeuvre for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands … (publisher)

I was positively surprised with this book. Somehow I was totally unaware that this was YA book and it still tuned out good.

Orphan boy finds out he can summon demons and goes to an academy, school that teaches summoners, there’s a war going on so they need everyone they can get. Nobles, commoners, dwarfs and elves. There is tension between nobles and well, everyone which escalates in a tournament where you can earn positions for the war.

I liked Fletcher and seeing him grow into his powers. He’s very loyal to his friends and isn’t afraid to stand up to bullies, the type you want to have on your side. He gets some hints about his biological parents and I can’t help but wonder if there’s something more to it and why he was abandoned.

One of my favourite part of the book was the demons. They all have different personalities, they are connected to their owners and can sense their emotions.

I can’t wait that they get out from the academy to the real world. We haven’t seen anything from the actual war against the orcs and I’m curious to see how that turns out.

3,5/5

Published: Hodder Children’s Books (May 5, 2015)
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

Godwine Kingmaker by Mercedes Rochelle

02_Godwine Kingmaker Cover

Godwine Kingmaker by Mercedes Rochelle

Harold Godwineson, the Last Anglo-Saxon King, owed everything to his father. Who was this Godwine, first Earl of Wessex and known as the Kingmaker? Was he an unscrupulous schemer, using King and Witan to gain power? Or was he the greatest of all Saxon Earls, protector of the English against the hated Normans? The answer depends on who you ask. He was befriended by the Danes, raised up by Canute the Great, given an Earldom and a wife from the highest Danish ranks. He sired nine children, among them four Earls, a Queen and a future King. Along with his power came a struggle to keep his enemies at bay, and Godwine’s best efforts were brought down by the misdeeds of his eldest son Swegn. Although he became father-in-law to a reluctant Edward the Confessor, his fortunes dwindled as the Normans gained prominence at court. Driven into exile, Godwine regathered his forces and came back even stronger, only to discover that his second son Harold was destined to surpass him in renown and glory.

This was the first book I read that has Godwine as the main character and it was great to see things from his perspective. We see how he manages to rise from a commoner to one of the most influential men in England.

I’m in two minds how I felt about this book and probably the biggest reason is that I couldn’t relate to Godwine. He’s like I met this total stranger in the forest, he seems like a nice fellow so why don’t I join him and turn traitor to my country? Simple as that. And off to kill your countymen you go. Hmm…

He falls in love with Gytha, who refuses his proposal and acts all haughty anyway, and king gives permission to marry her after Gytha’s brother is killed. She suspects Godwine is involved in the murder. Does it surprise that the marriage starts bit rocky? I just couldn’t understand why he wanted to marry her in the first place. I did like to see how they could turn that into a love match later on.

Godwine was a good hero for the book and it was fascinating to see how he manages to maneuver between difficult political times and different alliances. Later in the book we get another view of him when Edward the Confessor comes into picture.

3/5

Published: Top Hat Books (April 24, 2015)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author03_Mercedes Rochelle Author

Born in St. Louis MO with a degree from University of Missouri, Mercedes Rochelle learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they built themselves.

For more information please visit Mercedes Rochelleís website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Godwine Kingmaker Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 20
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Spotlight at Genre Queen

Tuesday, April 21
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at Unshelfish

Wednesday, April 22
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, April 23
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Saturday, April 25
Spotlight at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Tuesday, April 28
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, April 29
Review at Broken Teepee

Thursday, April 30
Guest Post & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Spotlight at The Writing Desk

Monday, May 4
Review at Impressions in Ink
Character Interview at Boom Baby Reviews

Tuesday, May 5
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, May 7
Review at Bookramblings
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Friday, May 8
Review at Layered Pages

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Mistress Firebrand by Donna Thorland

02_Mistress Firebrand Cover

Mistress Firebrand (Renegades of the American Revolution 3) by Donna Thorland

 

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British Occupied Manhattan, 1777. American actress Jenny Leighton has been packing the John Street Theater with her witty comedies, but she longs to escape the provincial circuit for the glamour of the London stage. When the playwright General John Burgoyne visits the city, fresh from a recent success in the capitol, she seizes the opportunity to court his patronage. But her plan is foiled by British intelligence officer Severin Devere.

Severinís mission is to keep the pleasure-loving general focused on the war effortÖand away from pretty young actresses. But the tables are turned when Severin himself canít resist Jenny LeightonÖ

Months later, Jenny has abandoned her dreams of stage glory and begun writing seditious plays for the Rebels under the pen name ìCornelia,î ridiculing ìGentleman Johnnyî Burgoyne and his armyóand undermining the crownís campaign to take Albany. With Jennyís name now on the hanging list, Severin is ordered to find heróand deliver her to certain death. Soon, the two are launched on a desperate journey through the wilderness, toward an uncertain future shaped by the revolutionóand their passion for each other…

American revolution is an era that I haven’t read much – if anything, so this was all new and fascinating for me.

I liked Jenny who was a strong woman who was determined to be successful in her own right. In a time when actress was pretty much synonym for a whore it wasn’t easy to be taken seriously as a playwright.

Severin is half-Indian so he’s had his own share of troubles. I liked these two together and it was great to see this mutual respect between an actress and a spy. Jenny didn’t just fall head-over-heels in love but realized that Severin could be dangerous killer.

Jenny’s aunt Frances was interesting character as well as Angela Ferrers. Strong women, who chose another life than the life of a dutiful wife.

This was my first Thorland book but it definitely won’t be my last. In fact I don’t remember when was the last time I ordered the other books in a series before I even finished the book.

4,5/5

Published: NAL Trade (March 3, 2015)
Format: Paperback
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author03_Donna Thorland

A native of Bergenfield, New Jersey, Donna graduated from Yale with a degree in Classics and Art History. For many years she managed architecture and interpretation at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, and wrote and directed the Witch Cityís most popular Halloween theater festival, Eerie Events. She later earned an MFA in film production from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Donna has been a sorority house mother, a Disney/ABC Television Writing Fellow, a WGA Writerís Access Project Honoree, and a writer on the ABC primetime drama, Cupid. Her screenwriting credits include episodes of the animated series, Tron: Uprising. Her short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcockís Mystery Magazine and Albedo One. The director of several award-winning short films, her most recent project, The Night Caller, aired on WNET Channel 13 and was featured on Ainít It Cool News. Currently she is a writer on the WGN drama SALEM. She is married with one cat and divides her time between the real Salem and Los Angeles.

For more information visit Donna Thorland’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Mistress Firebrand Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 6
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Excerpt & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, April 7
Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, April 8
Interview at The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, April 9
Guest Post & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Friday, April 10
Spotlight at Broken Teepee

Sunday, April 12
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Monday, April 13
Spotlight, Excerpt, & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, April 16
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes

Friday, April 17
Spotlight at I’d So Rather Be Reading

Saturday, April 18
Excerpt & Giveaway at A Dream Within a Dream

Monday, April 20
Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, April 21
Guest Post & Giveaway at Book Babe

Wednesday, April 22
Guest Post & Excerpt at The Lit Bitch

Thursday, April 23
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Friday, April 24
Review at Back Porchervations

Monday, April 27
Review at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, April 28
Review at Historical Readings & Views

Wednesday, April 29
Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Guest Post at Boom Baby Reviews

Thursday, April 30
Review at Bookramblings

Friday, May 1
Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway at Drey’s Library
Spotlight at Genre Queen

Sunday, May 3
Review at Forever Ashley

Monday, May 4
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Guest Post & Giveaway at To Read, or Not to Read

Tuesday, May 5
Excerpt at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, May 6
Review at Unabridged Chick

Thursday, May 7
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Friday, May 8
Interview at Scandalous Woman

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Mailbox Monday (27.4.15)

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

Here’s what I got last week:

books27.4.15
The Rebel Pirate by Donna Thorland (bought)
The Turncoat by Donna Thorland (bought)
Odin’s Wolves by Giles Kristian (bought)
God of Vengeance by Giles Kristian (bought)
The Woodvilles: The Wars of the Roses and England’s Most Infamous Family by Susan Higginbotham (bought)
Jane Seymour: Henry VIII”s True Love by Elizabeth Norton (bought)