Shadow on the Highway by Deborah Swift

deborah swiftShadow on the Highway (The Highway Trilogy 1) by Deborah Swift

May 1651. England has been in the midst of a civil war for nearly ten years. The country has been torn in two, and the King is getting ready to make his last stand against Cromwell’s New Model Army.

Abigail Chaplin, a young mute girl, has lost her father to the parliamentarian cause. But with her family now in reduced circumstances, she is forced to work as a servant at a royalist household – the estate of Lady Katherine Fanshawe.

Abi is soon caught up in a web of sinister secrets which surround the Fanshawe estate. The most curious of which is the disappearance of Lady Katherine late at night.

Why are her husband’s clothes worn and muddy even though he hasn’t been home for weeks? How is she stealing out of the house late at night when her room is being guarded? And what is her involvement with the robberies being committed by the mysterious Shadow on the Highway? (Goodreads)

Abigail “Abi” Chaplin lost her hearing after childhood illness and has had trouble finding job because of that. When she manages to get a job as a maid in Markyate Manor, she’s shocked to find in what state the Manor is. Only 3 servants and the mistress, Lady Katherine Fanshawe, is as young as she is.

Abi is not happy when Katherine decides to pose as another maid called Kate. She is horrified when her brother Ralph falls for Kate and wants Kate to join their Digger movement. It’s a commune type of thing where they think the earth will provide for all.

I’m not that familiar with this era so it was interesting to read about the common people of this time. This was short and quick read but very enjoyable.

I liked Abi but I couldn’t understand why she wanted to help Katherine or what Ralph saw in her. I didn’t like Kate at first but she did grow towards the end and I liked seeing how the relationship between Abi and Kate changed as they get to know each other better.

This was my first Swift book but if her YA book is this good I’m looking forward reading her adult books.

4/5

Published: Endeavour Press (July 15, 2014)
Format: eBook
Pages: 192
Source: kindle freebie

Mailbox Monday (19.10.2015)

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

I did a shopping trip to our capital city Helsinki and I had some gift cards to use and here’s what I got:

books18-10-2015
The Chosen Queen by Joanna Courtney
Battlemage by Stephen Aryan
Herald of the Storm by Richard Ford
Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France by Caroline Moorehead
Rebellion by Livi Michael
Succession by Livi Michael
Seduction: A Novel of Suspense by M.J. Rose
Mademoiselle Chanel: A Novel by C.W. Gortner

1066: What Fates Impose by G.K. Holloway

10661066: What Fates Impose by G.K. Holloway

King William then utters the following words to the room: ‘I appoint no one as my heir to the Crown of England, but leave it to the disposal of the Eternal Creator, whose I am and who orders all things. For I did not attain that high honour by hereditary right, but wrested it from the perjured King Harold in a desperate bloody battle.’

England is in crisis. King Edward has no heir and promises never to produce one. There are no obvious successors available to replace him, but quite a few claimants are eager to take the crown. While power struggles break out between the various factions at court, enemies abroad plot to make England their own. There are raids across the borders with Wales and Scotland.

Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, is seen by many as the one man who can bring stability to the kingdom. He has powerful friends and two women who love him, but he has enemies will stop at nothing to gain power. As 1066 begins, England heads for an uncertain future. It seems even the heavens are against Harold.

Intelligent and courageous, can Harold forge his own destiny – or does he have to bow to what fates impose? (Goodreads)

The book follows the events up to the Battle of Hastings and The Conquest. It’s told from third person narrative with huge cast of characters. Luckily for me I’ve read from the period before but there is list of characters in the beginning of the book. Which for me is useless when reading ebooks but maybe that’s just me. Anyway…

Although I found some trouble connecting with the characters, I did feel sympathy for Harold. I don’t know if William the Conqueror was as evil as portrayed here but I really hoped someone would kill him and the other Normans. Harold is likeable character who is intelligent and honorable while William is sometimes cruel, brutal and then at times like a whiny, spoiled brat. Made you root for Harold even more.

There’s politics, brutal fights and nothing is sugarcoated. I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to live in those times. The book gives good idea of the complicated political climate of the time and how it led to the Battle of Hastings.

4/5

Published: Matador (March 4, 2013)
Format: eBook
Pages: 456
Source: from author for review

Mailbox Monday (11.10.2015)

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

It feels like forever that I had Mailbox Monday post up. And when I checked it was August 10. Yep, its been quiet in my mailbox. Probably a good thing too…

Here’s what I got this week:

books11.10.15
Ardennes 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble by Antony Beevor (purchased)
Blood Price by Tanya Huff (bookmooch)

The Sisters of Versailles: A Novel by Sally Christie

01_The Sisters of Versailles

The Sisters of Versailles (Mistresses of Versailles 1)
by Sally Christie

A sumptuous and sensual tale of power, romance, family, and betrayal centered around four sisters and one King. Carefully researched and ornately detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an exciting new historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed.

Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear.

Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters: Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne, four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Their scandalous story is stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail.

Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best foot – and women – forward. The King’s scheming ministers push Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, the four sisters:sweet, naive Louise; ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne, will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power.

In the tradition of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Sisters of Versailles is a clever, intelligent, and absorbing novel that historical fiction fans will devour. Based on meticulous research on a group of women never before written about in English, Sally Christie’s stunning debut is a complex exploration of power and sisterhood; of the admiration, competition, and even hatred that can coexist within a family when the stakes are high enough.

I haven’t read much about Louis XV, or about French history in general, and I hadn’t heard about the Nesle sisters before. I’ve heard of Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry but that’s about it.

The chapters alternate between the five sisters and it starts with old Hortense remembering what happened in the past.

It’s rather surprising how much I enjoyed this book despite the fact that I didn’t like any of the characters. I hated both Pauline and Mary-Anne, I felt bad for Louise but she should have just stood up for herself, Diane is so oblivious about everything that it’s not even funny and pious Hortense was too righteous. It doen’t give very good picture about Louis either. He’s a weak king who isn’t interested in governing the country and easy to manipulate. When there’s any trouble, he just leaves someone else to sort it out.

There isn’t anything about politics but every time any of the characters speak about the common people, I want to beat them up. Seriously. You definitely can see the seeds of the revolution.

3,5/5

Published: BookTrope Publishing (September 1, 2015)
Format: eBook
Pages: 432
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

ABOUT THE AUTHOR04_Sally Christie_Author

I’m a life-long history buff – and I mean life-long. One of the first adult books I read was Antonia Fraser’s masterful Mary, Queen of Scots. Wow! That book just blew my little ten year old mind: something about the way it brought the past right back to life, made it live again on the page. I date my obsession with history to that time, but I’d been writing (“writing”) ever since I was able to hold a pencil.

If you’d told my 12-year old self that I’d not be a writer when I grew up, I would have laughed you out of the tree house. With a few detours along the way, to work overseas in consulting and development, as well as to go to business school, I’ve finally come full circle to where I think I should be.

I currently live in Toronto and when I’m not writing, I’m playing lots of tennis; doing random historical research (old census records are my favorite); playing Scrabble, and squirrel-watching (the room where I write has French doors leading out to a deck; I avidly follow, and feed, a scruffy gang).

For more information please visit Sally Christie’s website. You can also find her on Goodreads and Pinterest.

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday, September 14
Review at Reading the Past

Tuesday, September 15
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Interview & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf

Wednesday, September 16
Review at Bookish

Thursday, September 17
Review at The Book Binder’s Daughter

Friday, September 18
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Saturday, September 19
Spotlight at Romantic Historical Reviews

Monday, September 21
Review at Leeanna.me

Tuesday, September 22
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Wednesday, September 23
Review & Giveaway at History Undressed

Thursday, September 24
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Friday, September 25
Spotlight at Historical Readings & Views

Monday, September 28
Review & Giveaway at View From the Birdhouse

Tuesday, September 29
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, October 1
Review at Genre Queen
Review at bookramblings

Friday, October 2
Review at Curling Up By the Fire

Monday, October 5
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Tuesday, October 6
Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, October 7
Review at The Lit Bitch

Thursday, October 8
Interview & Giveaway at Reading Lark

Friday, October 9
Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession

05_The Sisters of Versailles_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

 

 

The Sleeping King by Cindy Dees, Bill Flippin

The Sleeping KingThe Sleeping King by Cindy Dees, Bill Flippin

The Sleeping King is the start of a new fantasy series by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Cindy Dees.

Dees has won a Golden Heart Award, two RITAs for Category Suspense and Adventure and has also twice snared RT’s Series Romantic Suspense of the Year. She is a great storyteller, and the adventures in her more than fifty novels are often inspired by her own life. Dees is an Air Force vet-the youngest female pilot in Air Force history-and fought in the first Gulf War. She’s had amazing adventures, and she’s used her experiences to tell some kickass stories.

But as much as she love romances, Cindy’s other passion has been fantasy gaming. For almost twenty years she’s been involved with Dragon Crest, one of the original live action role-playing games. She’s the story content creator on the game, and wanted to do an epic fantasy based on it, with the blessing and input of Dragon Crest founder Bill Flippin.

The Sleeping King is the first in an epic fantasy series, featuring the best of the genre: near immortal imperial overlords, a prophecy of a sleeping elven king who’s said to be the savior of the races . . . and two young people who are set on a path to save the day. (publisher)

I have to confess that I was a bit confused at the beginning because there are so many characters and it jumps between those characters at first. You can see this is first book in a series so there is lot of introducing and world building to do.

Basically we have seven characters on this quest to wake the Sleeping King but the main people are Will; who learns family secrets after family is murdered and Raina; a healer who runs away from family. Sleeping King is supposed to save the world from this evil Emperor who we see on the first chapter. I wish there would have been more about him and the court but hopefully in the next book.

There’s adventure, battles, betrayals, evil emperors, orcs, elves etc. Lots of stuff happening! And I do have a weakness for elves…

One interesting fact was that death isn’t always permanent but you can be resurrected. It makes sense since the book is based on an RPG game but I though it was cool.

4/5

Published: Tor Books (September 8, 2015)
Format: ebook
Pages: 496
Source: ARC from NetGalley

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

shadow scaleShadow Scale (Seraphina 2) by Rachel Hartman

As Seraphina travels the Southlands in search of the other half-breeds to help in the war effort, the dragon General Comonot and his Loyalists fight against the upstart Old Guard, with the fate of Goredd and the other human countries hanging in the balance. (Goodreads)

Oh dear, I don’t know what to say here… Because I loved the first book and I almost didn’t finish this one. So yeah, I’m disappointed…

It was just so boring. Seraphina leaves the castle to find other half-dragons. She meets new half-dragon, there’s drama, she meets another one, there’s more drama and so on.

We barely see Kiggs, the love interest of our heroine, and even less of her uncle Orma. We see very little of the people from the first book and instead there’s lot of new half-dragons.

Then there’s Jannoula who’s the main villain of the book. And the sad fact is that this is more Jannoula’s book than Seraphina’s. Jannoula is manipulator and good strategist who has no kindness or remorse. Seraphina is just an observer to these things.

I really wanted to love this but sadly it ended up being a disappointment.

2/5

Published: Random House (March 2015)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 596
Source: library

Incurable by E.C. Moore

02_Incurable_CoverIncurable by E.C. Moore

Her menacing past was loose and in close pursuit. The fear of the thing lived in her eyes, and trepidation sounded with each step her heels made as she fled.

Los Angeles 1956. Marilyn Palmer is a beauty with a deep dark secret. After a threatening note from a blackmailer arrives she hires a private eye to help keep her unsavory past under wraps.

Incurable is a story wrought with impetuous and regrettable decisions made by a desperate young woman. Barely eighteen years old, and a gifted seamstress, she makes the ill-fated decision to run away from her Detroit home with a wily friend. Bound for Hollywood, and seeking stardom, the girls set out on an incredible journey.

This splendidly imagined debut explores the tumultuous life and times of a woman who suffered the ultimate betrayal as a child during the Great Depression. A story of survival set against the backdrop of early Hollywood, misery on Hotel Street in Honolulu before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and heartbreak in Los Angeles during WWII, Incurable delivers an emotional intensity rarely found.

The book started little slow but it sure did pick up later on. The girls surely didn’t live a quiet time!

The book jumps between Marilyn’s past and present but it was easy to keep up. Marilyn grows to a strong woman who despite everything that happens just finds her way forward. Now she’s married with a baby and believes she’s put her past behind her but discovers that past isn’t so easy to erase.

Her friend June is completely the opposite of Marilyn; carefree and spontaneous with no thought of tomorrow. I gotta say that I didn’t care much of her and she was my least favourite character. I can’t believe how naïve Marilyn was at times and how she went with June’s crazy ideas time after time.

All in all it was enjoyable read and a great debut book.

3/5

Published: BookTrope Publishing (July 6, 2015)
Format: eBook
Pages: 360
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

ABOUT THE AUTHOR03_Author E.C. Moore

When E.C. Mooreís not writing feverishly, you will find her out walking or sightseeing. Sheís wild about coffee, books, cooking, good wine, cairn terriers, miniature ponies, historical houses, and witty people.

She resides in a fifties bungalow in Southern California, with her creative-director husband, a yappy blonde dog, and one feisty Chihuahua.

For more information visit E.C. Moore’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Amazon, Google+, and Goodreads.

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday, August 10
Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, August 11
Review at A Fold in the Spine
Spotlight & Excerpt at Curling Up By the Fire

Wednesday, August 12
Guest Post & Giveaway at Unshelfish

Thursday, August 13
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Spotlight & Excerpt at A Literary Vacation
Spotlight & Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Sunday, August 16
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Spotlight & Excerpt at Please Pass the Books

Monday, August 17
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Thursday, August 20
Review at Bookramblings
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Friday, August 21
Tour Wrap-Up & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

04_Incurable_Blog Tour Banner

Mailbox Monday (10.8.2015)

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

Here’s what I got in the last few weeks:

books10.8.15

The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell (bought)
The Winter Mantle by Elizabeth Chadwick (bought)
Richard III’s ‘Beloved Cousyn’: John Howard and the House of York by John Ashdown-Hill (bought)
Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters by Dick Winters (bookmooch)
Joan of Kent: The First Princess of Wales by Penny Lawne (bought)