Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope everyone had great Christmas with your families.

New year will start rather slowly around here because I’m leaving tomorrow to Dublin, Ireland for 3 months to do my practical training/internship there. I have couple of reviews scheduled but otherwise I don’t know how much time I have to read.

Also my laptop crashed just before Christmas so I’ve been without computer and I’m using my mom’s laptop now. I was told there is something in the motherboard but they couldn’t fix it in the store so now I have to take laptop to Dublin and try to find someone to fix it. Fun times ahead I’m sure…

Mailbox Monday (30.12)

Mailbox Monday was created by The Printed Page. Mailbox Monday is currently on tour, hosted by a different blog each month. Today’s Linky will be hosted by Rose City Reader.

Aethelstan: The First King of England by Sarah Foot (for Christmas)
The powerful and innovative King Athelstan reigned only briefly (924-939), yet his achievements during those eventful twelve years changed the course of English history. He won spectacular military victories (most notably at Brunanburh), forged unprecedented political connections across Europe, and succeeded in creating the first unified kingdom of the English. To claim for him the title of “first English monarch” is no exaggeration. In this nuanced portrait of Athelstan, Sarah Foot offers the first full account of the king ever written. She traces his life through the various spheres in which he lived and worked, beginning with the intimate context of his family, then extending outward to his unusual multi-ethnic royal court, the Church and his kingdom, the wars he conducted, and finally his death and legacy. Foot describes a sophisticated man who was not only a great military leader but also a worthy king. He governed brilliantly, developed creative ways to project his image as a ruler, and devised strategic marriage treaties and gift exchanges to cement alliances with the leading royal and ducal houses of Europe.

Elfrida: The First Crowned Queen of England by Elizabeth Norton (for Christmas)
Contrary to popular belief, Anglo-Saxon England had queens, with the tenth century Elfrida being the most powerful and notorious of them all. She was the first woman to be crowned queen of England, sharing her husband King Edgar’s imperial coronation at Bath in 973. The couple made a love match, with claims that they plotted the death of her first husband to ensure that she was free. Edgar divorced his second wife, a former nun, after conducting an adulterous affair with Elfrida, leading to an enmity between the two women that lasted until their deaths.During her marriage, Elfrida claimed to be the king’s only legitimate wife, but she failed to secure the succession for her son, Ethelred. Elfrida plotted against her stepson, King Edward the Martyr, before arranging his murder at Corfe Castle, where she lived with her son. She then ruled England on behalf of her young son for six years before he expelled her from court. Elfrida was eventually able to return to court but, since he proved himself unable to counter the Viking attacks, she may have come to regret winning the crown for Ethelred the Unready.Wife, mother, murderer, ruler, crowned queen. The life of Queen Elfrida was filled with drama as she rose to become the most powerful woman in Anglo-Saxon England.

The Norman Conquest by Marc Morris (for Christmas)
An upstart French duke who sets out to conquer the most powerful and unified kingdom in Christendom. An invasion force on a scale not seen since the days of the Romans. One of the bloodiest and most decisive battles ever fought. This riveting book explains why the Norman Conquest was the single most important event in English history.

Assessing the original evidence at every turn, Marc Morris goes beyond the familiar outline to explain why England was at once so powerful and yet so vulnerable to William the Conqueror’s attack. Why the Normans, in some respects less sophisticated, possessed the military cutting edge. How William’s hopes of a united Anglo-Norman realm unravelled, dashed by English rebellions, Viking invasions and the insatiable demands of his fellow conquerors. This is a tale of powerful drama, repression and seismic social change: the Battle of Hastings itself and the violent ‘Harrying of the North’; the sudden introduction of castles and the wholesale rebuilding of every major church; the total destruction of an ancient ruling class. Language, law, architecture, even attitudes towards life itself were altered forever by the coming of the Normans.

The Kings & Queens of Scotland by Tim Venning (for Christmas)
A complete history of the Scottish rulers, from the heads of its early constituent states and the first King of Scots Kenneth MacAlpin, to Queen Anne and the union with England Interest in Scottish kings and queens currently piqued by discussions over Scottish independence and the approaching 700th anniversary of the Battle of BannockburnThe kingdom of Scots was the last of the non-Anglo-Saxon states of Britain to survive as a political entity. Alone of the Celtic nations, it was not absorbed into England by conquest. James VI of Scotland came to the throne of England in 1603, and when union with England finally came in 1707 during the reign of Queen Anne, it was technically on equal terms. This success owed much to the abilities and tenacity of a succession of rulers, from the time that the multiplicity of states was merged into one kingdom. The story of the rulers of Scotland s constituent states and then of the united kingdom of Scots from Kenneth MacAlpin onwards is complex and often violent. It is full of rapid reversals of fortune, brilliant and incompetent leadership, family strife, and triumph and tragedy closely intertwined. The obscure earlier history is often as fascinating as the better-known stories of the Bruce and Queen Mary though less familiar. This saga of a thousand years bears tribute to the qualities of Scotland s rulers.

The Kings & Queens of Anglo-Saxon England by Timothy Venning (for Christmas)
A major re-examination of an important period in British history Includes such famous figures as Hengest, Aethelburh, Enfleda, Alfred the Great and many more right up to the last Anglo-Saxon king, Harold GodwinesonThe Anglo-Saxon era is one of the most important in English history, covering the period from the end of Roman authority in the British Isles to the Norman Conquest of 1066 in which the very idea of England was born. In The Kings& Queens of Anglo-Saxon England, Venning examines the rulers of Anglo-Saxon England, beginning with the legendary leaders of the Anglo-Saxon invasion as Hengest and Horsa or Cerdic and Cynric and moving on through such figures as Aethelbert of Kent, the first king to be converted to Christianity and his daughter Aethelburh, whose marriage began the conversion of Northumbria, to Alfred of Wessex and his dynasty, the Viking invasions, and the last of the Anglo-Saxon kings, Harold Godwineson.

Reaver by Larissa Ione (purchased)
WARRIOR OF HEAVEN

Reaver is an angel with a past, a record, and a less-than-heavenly attitude. Powerful enough to fight alongside the fiercest battle angels-and crazy enough to risk his wings on a one-way mission to hell-he’s agreed to go where no angel has ever gone before…to steal the most seductive and dangerous prize of Satan himself.

ANGEL OF HELL

Harvester is one of the Fallen, a once-heroic angel who sacrificed her wings to work as an undercover agent in hell. But now her cover has been blown, and she’s been doomed to an eternity of agonizing torture. Even if Reaver can snatch her away from Satan’s lair, even if they can fight their way out of the underworld’s darkest depths, there is one thing Harvester can never escape-her newfound thirst for an angel’s blood…

Den of Wolves by Luke Devenish (bookmooch)
It is 44BC and the rival clans of Rome are driving the Republic towards a violent, blood-soaked end. The jealous Claudians covet the power of the Julians, who are kings in all but name.

A tiny infant utters the prophecy of a goddess. If the darkly beautiful thirteen year old Livia Drusilla marries her bastard cousin, eleven year old Tiberius Nero, four great kings of Rome will spring from her womb. Four great Claudian kings…

Livia and her child groom begin their star-crossed marriage, but scheming Livia has dangerous ideas. She believes herself greater than the gods, and she doubts the interpretation of the prophecy.

When Julius Caesar is murdered the fortunes of the Claudians take a sudden, deadly turn. The great patricians become paupers, and Livia and her husband must flee Rome or face being killed as criminals.

But Rome falls under the spell of Caesar’s golden-haired nephew, Octavian. The youthful dictator in the making offers Livia and her boy husband forgiveness. Yet Livia sees more than the promise of mere forgiveness in Rome’s most desired new man. She sees Octavian as the true sire for her prophesised kings. And she sees her own chance for power…

So begins a murderous tale of sex, corruption and obsession as Livia pursues her great destiny.

No crime is too shocking. No sin is too low. No evil is beyond her grasp.

Narrated by the 100 year old slave, Iphicles, and set in a time where no woman could hope to wield power, DEN OF WOLVES brings life to the legendary women behind the legendary men. With ambition, beauty and cunning as their weapons, the women of Rome are history’s unsung survivors. Unsung until now…

Mailbox Monday (16.12)

Mailbox Monday was created by The Printed Page. Mailbox Monday is currently on tour, hosted by a different blog each month. Today’s Linky will be hosted by Rose City Reader.

The Last Conquest by Berwick Coates (purchased)

October, 1066: Two bitter rivals, William and Harold, are about to lead their men into a brutal battle…

Taking up arms, Gilbert, a scout in William’s army, seeks victory. Edwin, roundsman to King Harold, knows his king is about to make history – no matter the cost – and he is going to be part of it.

This is a story of the greatest battle ever seen on British soil.

It is the story of the Battle of Hastings.

Owain Gwynedd Prince of the Welsh by Roger Turvey (bought)

A study of the life and career of Owain Gwynedd (c. 1100-70) who played such a dominant role in the history of Wales before her conquest. He was king of Gwynedd from 1137 until his death and was the first to be styled prince of Wales. He was considered the most successful of all the north Welsh princes prior to his grandson Llywelyn the Great.

A Newfound Land by Anna Belfrage

 A Newfound Land (The Graham Saga 4) by Anna Belfrage

It’s 1672, and Matthew Graham and his family have left Scotland. Having taken the drastic decision to leave their homeland due to religious conflicts, Alexandra and Matthew hope for a simpler, if harsher, life in the wilds of the Colony of Maryland.

Unfortunately, things don’t always turn out as you want them to, and the past has a nasty tendency to resurface at the most inappropriate moments. Both Matthew and Alex are forced to cope with the unexpected reappearance of people they had never thought to meet again, and the screw is turned that much tighter when the four rogue Burley brothers enter their lives.

Matters are further complicated by the strained relations between colonists and the Susquehannock Indians. When Matthew intercedes to stop the Burleys from abducting Indian women into slavery he makes lifelong – and deadly – enemies of them all.

Once again Alex is plunged into an existence where death seems to threaten her man wherever he goes.

Will Matthew see himself – and his family – safe in these new circumstances? And will the past finally be laid to rest? (back cover)

Grahams have settled in Maryland but the situation with the Indians is starting to escalate and they find themselves drawn into it. Grahams meet old enemies, gets some new and have a visit from someone unexpected.

I have to confess I’m somewhat unfamiliar with the history of America and the book concentrates on the slavery and the indian issues on colonial America. I did find it interesting but can’t comment much about it because it was all new to me.

It’s been great to see these characters grow see their romance develop. I like that their relationship isn’t portrayed as “perfect” and they fight and have problems like anyone else. And oh, how the time flies! Ian is all grown up and married. I’ curious to see what will happen to them and if their marriage will last. It was nice to see how close Alex and Ian have become despite everything.

We see bit more about Magnus and I kind of revised my opinion about him. Don’t know what to say without spoilers so we’ll just leave it there.

Another great book from Belfrage and I can’t wait to see what happens next to these characters!

4/5

Published: Silverwood Books (2013)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 402
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

 

You can check the tour schedule here.

About the author

I was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

For more information, please visit Anna Belfrage’s website.  You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

City of Women by David R. Gillham

City of Women by David R. Gillham

It is 1943—the height of the Second World War. With the men away at the front, Berlin has become a city of women.

On the surface, Sigrid Schröder is the model German soldier’s wife: She goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and dutifully cares for her meddling mother-in-law, all the while ignoring the horrific immoralities of the regime.

But Sigrid is not the only one with secrets—she soon finds herself caught between what is right and what is wrong, and what falls somewhere in the shadows between the two . . . (back cover)

Sigrid’s husband is far away at the war and she’s living very bored life with boring job and living with her mother-in-law. But then she meets Egon at the cinema and they became lovers. She also befriends young girl named Ericha who has ties with underground movement that helps Jews.

I had read lots of great reviews about this and I was quite excited to start this but unfortunately this just wasn’t for me.

The first half started very slowly, I couldn’t connect with the characters and I didn’t like either Sigrid or Egon.
We have many, and I mean many, sex scenes and I’m not sure if her adulterous relationships were supposed to make me like her but it didn’t. And while she seems so in love with her Jewish lover, she also has sex with her neighbor’s brother.
I didn’t quite understand how she even became to have any feelings for Egon because besides sex they don’t actually talk very much. Or when Sigrid tries to talk and get to know him, he just shuts off. He never tells her anything about him or his past and she just takes it all.

And also what kind of intelligent person would have sex with a Jew in a crowded cinema at the times like that? I mean you could end up in prison or whatever for that but apparently you just can’t help that… And when we do learn more about Egon’s dealings it definitely didn’t make me like him any more.

I liked the second part more and the parts where Sigrid was helping the Jews and her relationship with Ericha. But otherwise this just fell flat for me.

2/5

Published: Berkley (2013)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 437
Source: library