Historical Fiction

#BookReview
The King’s Consort by Debbie A. McClure
@debbiemcclure59

#BookReview The King’s Consort by Debbie A. McClure @debbiemcclure59Title: The King's Consort

Author: Debbie a McClure

Published by: BWL Publishing Inc. on February 11, 2017

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 370

Format: eBook

Source: Debbie A. McClure

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Most little girls dream of marrying their Prince Charming and having the happy ever after, but what if the fables we’ve been told don’t tell the whole story?

Born the illegitimate daughter of a seamstress in Denmark’s mid-1800s, Louise Rasmussen rises to become a noted ballerina with the Royal Danish ballet, but getting pregnant with her own illegitimate child dashes her every hope and dream, forcing her to start a new life. Falling in love with Crowned Prince Frederik of Denmark should have made her life easier, but fate is fickle.

Despite severe opposition from the nobility, Frederik weds Louise, the newly titled Countess Danner, soon after he is crowned King. Deeply in love, the two must fight to find some semblance of happiness in an environment that refuses to bend, and amid pending war and social turmoil, Louise and Frederik discover what is most important. Many claim she was a gold-digger, yet toward the end of her life, she creates Danner House, a home for unwed mothers and orphans, which still exists today.


Review:

Insightful, atmospheric, and extremely fascinating!

This story is set in Denmark in the mid-1800s and tells the story of Louise Rasmussen, an illegitimate ballerina who not only had a relationship and a son with Carl Berling, the paper heir, but also went on to fall in love with and marry Prince Frederik of Denmark.

The prose is smooth and clear. The characters are intriguing, progressive, and complex. And the plot unfolds chronologically with just the perfect amount of fact, fiction, narration, dialogue, surprises, and emotion to keep you eagerly flipping the pages.

Louise Rasmussen was a strong, determined women ahead of her time. Her perseverance, intelligence and compassion allowed her to endure a life filled with humiliation, rejection, opposition, poverty, and societal disdain while still loving to her heart’s content and establishing a legacy for women in need, The Danner House, that still stands and operates today.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaChapters/Indigo

 

 

Thank you to Debbie A. McClure for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It was enlightening, captivating and a real pleasure to read.

#BookReview #BlogTour
Fifteen Words by Monika Jephcott Thomas

#BookReview #BlogTour Fifteen Words by Monika Jephcott ThomasTitle: Fifteen Words

Author: Monika Jephcott Thomas

Published by: Clink Street Publishing on November 22, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 293

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Authoright

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Two young doctors form a profound and loving bond in Nazi Germany; a bond that will stretch them to the very limits of human endurance. Catholic Max – whose religious and moral beliefs are in conflict, has been conscripted to join the war effort as a medic, despite his hatred of Hitler’s regime. His beloved Erika, a privileged young woman, is herself a product of the Hitler Youth. In spite of their stark differences, Max and Erika defy convention and marry.

But when Max is stationed at the fortress city of Breslau, their worst nightmares are realised; his hospital is bombed, he is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to a POW camp in Siberia. Max experiences untold horrors, his one comfort the letters he is allowed to send home: messages that can only contain Fifteen Words. Back in Germany, Erika is struggling to survive and protect their young daughter, finding comfort in the arms of a local carpenter. Worlds apart and with only sparse words for comfort, will they ever find their way back to one another, and will Germany ever find peace?

Fifteen Words is a vivid and intimate portrayal of human love and perseverance, one which illuminates the German experience of the war, which has often been overshadowed by history.


Review:

Insightful, poignant, and incredibly moving!

This is an extremely compelling story that allows us a rare opportunity to see the war from two different German perspectives and reminds us of the emotional, psychological and physical horrors seen and endured during times of conflict and their long-lasting effects on not only the soldiers themselves, but also the families they leave behind.

The story is set in both Germany and Siberia, Russia, and is told from two points of view; Max, a German doctor, who continues to aid and comfort to the best of his abilities even when freedom seems beyond reach and home seems a world away; and Erika, Max’s wife, a young doctor herself who struggles to stay positive and raise and support her daughter despite her flagging optimism.

This is story about war, loss, loneliness, determination, hope, love, courage, and survival.

The prose is descriptive and smooth. The characters are strong, real, multi-layered, and damaged. And the plot is subtle but impactful with an underlying current that sometimes we can say so much with so few words.

Overall, this is truly a powerful story I won’t soon forget.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

 

 Thank you to Authoright for providing me with a copy in an exchange for an honest review.

 

About Monika Jephcott Thomas

Monika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002. In 2016 her first book Fifteen Words was published.

 

 fifteen-words-alternative-banner

#BookReview
To Capture What We Cannot Keep
by Beatrice Colin @beatricecolin

#BookReview To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin @beatricecolinTitle: To Capture What We Cannot Keep

Author: Beatrice Colin

Published by: Flatiron Books on November 29, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 291

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Flatiron Books, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Set against the construction of the Eiffel Tower, this novel charts the relationship between a young Scottish widow and a French engineer who, despite constraints of class and wealth, fall in love.

In February 1887, Caitriona Wallace and Émile Nouguier meet in a hot air balloon, floating high above Paris, France–a moment of pure possibility. But back on firm ground, their vastly different social strata become clear. Cait is a widow who because of her precarious financial situation is forced to chaperone two wealthy Scottish charges. Émile is expected to take on the bourgeois stability of his family’s business and choose a suitable wife. As the Eiffel Tower rises, a marvel of steel and air and light, the subject of extreme controversy and a symbol of the future, Cait and Émile must decide what their love is worth.

Seamlessly weaving historical detail and vivid invention, Beatrice Colin evokes the revolutionary time in which Cait and Émile live–one of corsets and secret trysts, duels and Bohemian independence, strict tradition and Impressionist experimentation. To Capture What We Cannot Keep, stylish, provocative, and shimmering, raises probing questions about a woman’s place in that world, the overarching reach of class distinctions, and the sacrifices love requires of us all.


Review:

Incredibly atmospheric, extremely alluring, and remarkably insightful.

This story is predominantly set in Paris in the late 1880s when the city was bursting with industrialization, immigration, artistic freedom, and high fashion; and is, ultimately, a story about familial obligations, social acceptance, independence, morality, impropriety, secrets and passion.

The prose is clear, precise, descriptive and fluid. The characters are genuine, engaging, and complex. And the story has two distinct plots; one involving the ingenuity, foresight, hardships and struggles involved in the creation and completion of the iconic Eiffel Tower; and the other the budding romance developing between Émile Nouguier, a wealthy, upper-class engineer, and Caitriona Wallace, the lowly, Scottish widower.

I will say that although I enjoyed reading this novel I did find the ending a little lacklustre and wish that it had just a little bit more.

However, overall this book is well written, well researched, with a varied cast of characters that is well worth the read.

 

This book is due to be published on November 29, 2016. 

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaChapters/IndigoBook Depository

 

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Flatiron Books, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Beatrice Colin

Beatrice Colin was born in London and lives in Glasgow, Scotland. A former arts and features journalist, she also writes novels for adults, children, short stories, radio plays for the BBC. She has spoken at numerous book festivals, taught at Arvon and was a judge and mentor for the Scottish Boom Trust's New Writers Award.
Beatrice was also once a singer in the band, April Showers, whose single, Abandon Ship, reached the number 144 in the charts.

#BookReview
Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
@daisygoodwinuk

#BookReview Victoria by Daisy Goodwin @daisygoodwinukTitle: Victoria

Author: Daisy Goodwin

Published by: St. Martin's Press on November 22, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 404

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press, NetGalley

Book Rating: 7.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

“They think I am still a little girl who is not capable of being a Queen.”

Lord Melbourne turned to look at Victoria. “They are mistaken. I have not known you long, but I observe in you a natural dignity that cannot be learnt. To me, ma’am, you are every inch a Queen.”

In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….

Drawing on Victoria’s diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.


Review:

This is a fascinating interpretation about the life of Alexandrina Victoria, a young, sheltered girl who became the Queen of England at the age of eighteen, and her dependence and close relationship with the then mature Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne.

It is a story about familial responsibilities, monarchical duties, coming-of-age, friendship, and love.

Queen Victoria’s early reign was during a time when government was in turmoil, the parties in power were changing and the populace was highly critical of the choices and decisions made by the monarchy, and although she was small in stature and seemingly immature she possessed a confidence and strength beyond her years.

The prose is clear and fluid. And the story line takes us into a short time in Queen Victoria’s life when she may have had a strong reliance, attraction, and reverence for the British statesman, Melbourne.

Overall, even though this book is only centred on Victoria’s life from her early teens to her marriage proposal to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in her early twenties, it is quite intriguing and captivating and definitely a good choice for anyone interested in the British Monarchy.

 

This novel is due to be published on November 22, 2016.

Pick up a copy of this book from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaChapters/IndigoBook Depository

 

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Daisy Goodwin

DAISY GOODWIN, a Harkness scholar who attended Columbia University’s film school after earning a degree in history at Cambridge University, is a leading television producer in the U.K. Her poetry anthologies, including 101 Poems That Could Save Your Life, have introduced many new readers to the pleasures of poetry, and she was Chair of the judging panel of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. That was the year she published her first novel the American Heiress ( My Last Duchess in UK) , followed by The Fortune Hunter and now Victoria. She has also created VICTORIA the PBS/ITV series which starts in January. She has three dogs, two dogs, and one husband.

#BookReview
The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley
@lucindariley

#BookReview The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley @lucindarileyTitle: The Seven Sisters

Author: Lucinda Riley

Series: The Seven Sisters #1

Published by: Atria Books on May 5, 2015

Genres: Contemporary Romance, General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 463

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 10/10

 

Synopsis:

Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings.

Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to complete his vision. Izabela—passionate and longing to see the world—convinces her father to allow her to accompany him and his family to Europe before she is married. There, at Paul Landowski’s studio and in the heady, vibrant cafes of Montparnasse, she meets ambitious young sculptor Laurent Brouilly, and knows at once that her life will never be the same again.

In this sweeping, epic tale of love and loss—the first in a unique, spellbinding series of seven novels—Lucinda Riley showcases her storytelling talent like never before.


Review:

Intriguing, heartwarming, and incredibly captivating!

This is the first book in “The Seven Sisters” series and boy is it a good one.

This is the story of Maia, a young woman who embarks on a journey to discover her parentage and ancestry after recently suffering the loss of her beloved, adoptive father. 

It is predominantly set in Rio, Brazil during both the late 1920s, as well as present day, and is told from two perspectives, Maia and Maia’s maternal great-grandmother, Izabela.

The story, itself, is a sweeping saga filled with self discovery, family, loss, determination, strength, grief, heartbreak, happiness, and everlasting love; as well as an in-depth look into the culture, history and landmarks of Rio, complete with the construction of the iconic Christ the Redeemer and the boom and subsequent demise of the coffee industry.

The prose is precise, poetic, and exquisitely descriptive. And the characters are multi-faceted, genuine, empathetic, and engaging. 

I have to admit I was a little skeptical at first about the size of this novel, but don’t be daunted. This is truly a powerful, fascinating story that will make you cry, make you smile and will have you mesmerized from start to finish.

I can honestly say that after reading this novel, The Storm Sister (Book #2) available now, and The Shadow Sister (Book #3) releasing soon, will be jumping to the top of your “to read” pile.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy of this story from your favourite retailer or from the following links. You won’t be disappointed.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaChapters/IndigoBook Depository

 

 

About Lucinda Riley

Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland, and after an early career as an actress in film, theatre and television, wrote her first book aged twenty-four. Her books have been translated into over thirty languages and sold over ten million copies worldwide. She is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author.

Lucinda’s novels include The Seven Sisters, a seven-book series telling the story of adopted sisters and based allegorically on the mythology of the famous star constellation. The first three books, The Seven Sisters, The Storm Sister, and The Shadow Sister have all been No.1 bestsellers across Europe, and the rights to a multi-season TV series have already been optioned by a Hollywood production company.

To read about the inspiration behind The Seven Sisters series, please visit thesevensistersseries.com

When not writing, travelling or running around after her children, she loves reading books that she hasn’t written with a glass or two of Provençal rosé!

#BookReview
The Witches of New York by Ami McKay
@SideshowAmi

#BookReview The Witches of New York by Ami McKay @SideshowAmiTitle: The Witches of New York

Author: Ami McKay

Published by: Vintage Books Canada on July 4, 2017

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 504

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Penguin Random House Canada, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

The beloved, bestselling author of The Birth House and The Virgin Cure is back with her most beguiling novel yet, luring us deep inside the lives of a trio of remarkable young women navigating the glitz and grotesqueries of Gilded-Age New York by any means possible, including witchcraft… 

The year is 1880. Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, Adelaide Thom (‘Moth’ from The Virgin Cure) has left her life in the sideshow to open a tea shop with another young woman who feels it’s finally safe enough to describe herself as a witch: a former medical student and “gardien de sorts” (keeper of spells), Eleanor St. Clair. Together they cater to Manhattan’s high society ladies, specializing in cures, palmistry and potions–and in guarding the secrets of their clients. 

All is well until one bright September afternoon, when an enchanting young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment. Beatrice soon becomes indispensable as Eleanor’s apprentice, but her new life with the witches is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Objects appear out of thin air, as if gifts from the dead. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind? 

Eleanor wants to tread lightly and respect the magic manifest in the girl, but Adelaide sees a business opportunity. Working with Dr. Quinn Brody, a talented alienist, she submits Beatrice to a series of tests to see if she truly can talk to spirits. Amidst the witches’ tug-of-war over what’s best for her, Beatrice disappears, leaving them to wonder whether it was by choice or by force. 

As Adelaide and Eleanor begin the desperate search for Beatrice, they’re confronted by accusations and spectres from their own pasts. In a time when women were corseted, confined and committed for merely speaking their minds, were any of them safe?


Review:

Dark, fascinating, and incredibly atmospheric!

This story is set in New York City in the early 1880s, a time when building and bridge development was rampant, immigration was ongoing, and the Statue of Liberty was still only a torch-bearing arm displayed in Madison Square Park. However, it was also a time of religious condemnation, fear of the unknown, and a time when cruel and barbaric behaviour towards women who didn’t conform to what society deemed norm was still acceptable.

The writing is elegant and vividly descriptive. The three main characters, Adelaide, Eleanor, and Beatrice, are strong, bold, and independent. And the plot is a creative, dark, mysterious ride of historical tidbits, mystical occurrences, friendship, murder, witchcraft, and love.

This definitely is an enjoyable read that sweeps you away to another place and reminds you of some of the hardships and struggles of a different time. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read anything else by Ami McKay, I highly recommend “The Virgin Cure” still today one of my all-time favourites.

 

This novel is due to be published on October 25, 2016. 

Pick up a copy of this story from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaChapters/IndigoBook Depository

 

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Penguin Random House Canada, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Ami McKay

Ami McKay’s debut novel, The Birth House was a # 1 bestseller in Canada, winner of three CBA Libris Awards, nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and a book club favourite around the world.

Her new novel. The Virgin Cure, is inspired by the life of her great- great grandmother, Dr. Sarah Fonda Mackintosh, a female physician in nineteenth century New York. Born and raised in Indiana, Ami now lives in Nova Scotia.

#BookReview
The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa
@ArmandoCorrea @AtriaBooks

#BookReview The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa @ArmandoCorrea @AtriaBooksTitle: The German Girl

Author: Armando Lucas Correa

Published by: Atria Books on October 18, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 360

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Atria Books, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A stunningly ambitious and beautiful debut novel, perfect for fans of Sarah’s Key and All the Light We Cannot See, the story of a twelve-year-old girl’s harrowing experience fleeing Nazi-occupied Germany with her family and best friend, only to discover that the overseas asylum they had been promised is an illusion.

In 1939 before everything changed, Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. Her family moved in Berlin’s highest social circles, admired by friends and neighbors. Eleven-year-old Hannah was often taken by her mother for an afternoon treat at the tea room of the beautiful Adlon Hotel, both dressed in their finest clothes. She spent her afternoons at the park with her best friend Leo Martin. But, in an instant, that sunlit world vanished. Now the streets of Berlin are draped with red, white, and black flags; their fine possessions are hauled away, and they are no longer welcome in the places that once felt like home. The two friends make a pact: come what may, they promise to have a future together.

As Hannah and Leo’s families desperately begin to search for a means of escape, a glimmer of hope appears when they discover the Saint Louis, a transatlantic liner that can give Jews safe passage to Cuba. After a frantic search to obtain visas, the Rosenthals and the Martins depart from Hamburg on the luxurious passenger liner bound for Havana. Life aboard the ship is a welcome respite from the gloom of Berlin—filled with masquerade balls, dancing, and exquisite meals every night.

As the passengers gain renewed hope for a bright future ahead, love between Hannah and Leo blossoms. But soon reports from the outside world began to filter in, and dark news overshadows the celebratory atmosphere on the ship; the governments of Cuba, the United States, and Canada are denying the passengers of the St. Louis admittance to their countries, forcing them to return to Europe as it descends into the Second World War. The ship that had seemed their salvation seems likely to become their death sentence.

After four days anchored at bay, only a handful of passengers are allowed to disembark onto Cuban soil, and Hannah and Leo must face the grim reality that they could be torn apart. Their future is unknown, and their only choice will have an impact in generations to come.

Decades later in New York City on her eleventh birthday, Anna Rosen receives a mysterious envelope from Hannah, a great-aunt she has never met but who raised her deceased father. In an attempt to piece together her father’s mysterious past, Anna and her mother travel to Havana to meet Hannah, who is turning eighty-seven years old. Hannah reveals old family ties, recounts her journey aboard the Saint Louis and, for the first time, reveals what happened to her father and Leo. Bringing together the pain of the past with the mysteries of the present, Hannah gives young Anna a sense of their shared histories, forever intertwining their lives, honoring those they loved and cruelly lost.


Review:

Poignant, realistic, and incredibly impactful!

The German Girl is a novel that reminds us of the persecution and maltreatment of the Jewish people during the war and the enduring effects experienced by both the survivors and their progeny.

It is a deeply moving story, told from two differing perspectives, about familial relationships, friendship, loss, injustice, guilt, grief, survival, solace, and love.

The prose is clear and fluid. The settings are vividly described. And the characters are strong, resilient, empathetic, and multi-layered. 

Overall, The German Girl is truly a heartbreaking, powerful story that I promise you won’t soon forget.

 

This book is due to be published on October 18, 2016.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

         

 

 

Thank you to Atria for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Armando Lucas Correa

Armando Lucas Correa is an award-winning journalist, editor, author, and the recipient of several awards from the National Association of Hispanic Publications and the Society of Professional Journalism. He is the author of the international bestseller The German Girl, which is now being published in thirteen languages. He lives in New York City with his partner and their three children.

Photograph by Héctor O. Torres.

#BookReview
The Spider and the Stone by Glen Craney
@glencraney

#BookReview The Spider and the Stone by Glen Craney  @glencraneyTitle: The Spider and the Stone

Author: Glen Craney

Published by: Brigid's Fire Press on January 1, 2014

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 432

Format: eBook

Source: Glen Craney

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

As the 14th century dawns, Scotland’s survival hangs by a spider’s thread. While the Scot clans scrap over their empty throne, the brutal Edward Longshanks of England invades the weakened northern kingdom, scheming to annex it to his realm. But one Lanark lad stands in the Plantagenet monarch’s path.

2015 Chaucer Award First Place Category Historical Fiction 
Foreword Reviews Book-of-the-Year Finalist in HF 
2015 B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree 

The beleaguered Scots cherish him as their “Good Sir James.” In England, his slashing raids deep into Yorkshire and Northumbria wreak such terror that he is branded the Black Douglas with a reward placed on his head.

As a boy, James falls in love with the ravishing Isabelle MacDuff, whose clan for centuries has inaugurated Scottish monarchs on the hallowed Stone of Destiny. But his world is upturned when he befriends
Robert Bruce, a bitter enemy of the MacDuffs. Forced to choose between love and clan loyalty, James and Isabelle make fateful decisions that will draw the opposing armies to the bloody field of Bannockburn.

Isabelle will crown a king. James will carry a king’s heart. Both now take their rightful places with Robert Bruce, Rob Roy, and William Wallace in the pantheon of Scot heroes.

Here is the story of Scotland’s War of Independence and the remarkable events that followed the execution of Wallace, whose legend was portrayed in the movie Braveheart. This thrilling epic leads us to the miraculous Stone of Destiny, to the famous Spider in the Cave, to the excommunicated Knights Templar, to the suppressed Culdee Church, and to the unprecedented Declaration of Arbroath, the stirring oath document that inspired the American Declaration of Independence four hundred years later.

The Spider and the Stone is the unforgettable saga of the star-crossed love, religious intrigue, and heroic sacrifice that saved Scotland during its time of greatest peril.


Review:

Informative, captivating, and extraordinarily descriptive.

This story recounts the difficulties and hardships Scotland underwent in her search for Freedom, and immerses you in a time when clans routinely switched allegiances between the Scottish Crown, William Wallace and the British Empire.

The writing is well done and exceptionally descriptive with vivid battle scenes and horrific violence. The main characters are true Scotsman; strong, stubborn, fascinating, and relentless in their quest for rights and justice. And the plot is a roller coaster road of turbulent times, bloody battles and cruel Plantagenet kings.

This novel is remarkably researched with a good mix of factual historical data, legends, and theories. I especially like the authors views surrounding the mysterious love life of James Douglas, the friendship between Black Douglas and Robert the Bruce, and ultimately the demise of a brilliant war monger.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy of this book from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaChapters/IndigoBook Depository

 

For more information on Glen Craney, visit his website at: glencraney.com

or follow him on Twitter at: @glencraney

 

 

Thank you to Glen Craney, the author, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It was a pleasure to read.

#BookReview
Bolshoi Confidential by Simon Morrison
@simonm1

#BookReview Bolshoi Confidential by Simon Morrison @simonm1Title: Bolshoi Confidential

Author: Simon Morrison

Published by: Knopf Canada on October 11, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 400

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Penguin Random House Canada, NetGalley

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

In this enthralling, definitive new history of the Bolshoi Ballet, sensational performances onstage compete with political machinations backstage.

On January 17, 2013, a hooded assailant hurled acid into the face of the artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, making international headlines. A lead soloist, enraged by institutional power struggles, later confessed to masterminding the crime. The scandal, though shocking, is not an anomaly in the turbulent and tormented yet magnificent history of the Bolshoi. Renowned music historian Simon Morrison reveals the ballet as a crucible of art and politics, beginning with the disreputable inception of the theatre in 1776 and proceeding through the era of imperial rule, the chaos of revolution, the oppressive Soviet years, and the recent $680 million renovation project. Drawing on exclusive archival research, Morrison creates a richly detailed tableau of the centuries-long war between world-class art and life-threatening politics that has defined this storied institution. As Morrison makes clear, as Russia goes, so goes the Bolshoi Ballet.


Review:

This is a remarkably researched, sophisticated story of the tumultuous history of the iconic Bolshoi.

It is a journey through its 240-year history, complete with an in-depth look into the scandals, corruption, damage, destruction, violence, and restorations that it has endured over the years, as well as an introduction to the characters that have played an important role its enduring successes and failures, including Tsars, politicians, dancers, directors, composers and choreographers.

This is, ultimately, an expository story about the creation and production of one of the most beautiful art forms the world has ever known, complete with the shady and gritty underworld that plagues its backstage.

Overall, this novel is incredibly descriptive, effortlessly fluid, and highly fascinating.

 

This book is due to be published on October 11, 2016. 

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaIndigoBook Depository

 

For more information on Simon Morrison, visit his website at: princeton.edu/~simonm

or follow him on Twitter at: @simonm1

 

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Penguin Random House Canada, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

#BookReview
Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran

#BookReview Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle MoranTitle: Mata Hari's Last Dance

Author: Michelle Moran

Published by: Touchstone on July 19, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 272

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

From the international bestselling author of Rebel Queen and Nefertiti comes a captivating novel about the infamous Mata Hari, exotic dancer, adored courtesan, and, possibly, relentless spy.

Paris, 1917. The notorious dancer Mata Hari sits in a cold cell awaiting freedom…or death. Alone and despondent, Mata Hari is as confused as the rest of the world about the charges she’s been arrested on: treason leading to the deaths of thousands of French soldiers.

As Mata Hari waits for her fate to be decided, she relays the story of her life to a reporter who is allowed to visit her in prison. Beginning with her carefree childhood, Mata Hari recounts her father’s cruel abandonment of her family as well her calamitous marriage to a military officer. Taken to the island of Java, Mata Hari refuses to be ruled by her abusive husband and instead learns to dance, paving the way to her stardom as Europe’s most infamous dancer.

From exotic Indian temples and glamorous Parisian theatres to stark German barracks in war-torn Europe, international bestselling author Michelle Moran who “expertly balances fact and fiction” (Associated Press) brings to vibrant life the famed world of Mata Hari: dancer, courtesan, and possibly, spy.


Review:

This is a fascinating and engaging story about the life of Mata Hari, the famous dancer, courtesan, who was tried and convicted by the French for being a double agent during WWI, and was subsequently executed for treason by firing squad in 1917.

It is told in first-person narration, and it takes us through a life filled with abandonment, abuse, poverty, riches, love, loss, and wartime.

Mata Hari lived in a time when respectable woman were meant to be demure and obedient and she was certainly nothing of the sort. She appeared to be extremely independent and passionate, but one wonders if this was simply a facade for loneliness and naiveté.

I have to admit that I knew very little about Mata Hari when I started this book, and I found her story to be extremely captivating and intriguing.  It certainly leaves you questioning whether she was truly a spy or whether she merely got caught up in all the glitz and glamour and, ultimately, chose the wrong paramours.

The writing is poetic and the story flows effortlessly from page to page. 

I really enjoyed this story and I highly recommend it.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaChapters/Indigo

 

 

About Michelle Moran

Michelle Moran is the international bestselling author of seven historical novels. A native of southern California, she attended Pomona College, then earned a Masters Degree from the Claremont Graduate University. During her six years as a public high school teacher she used her summers to travel around the world, and it was her experiences as a volunteer on archaeological digs that inspired her to write historical fiction.

In 2012 Michelle was married in India, inspiring her seventh book, Rebel Queen, which is set in the East. Her hobbies include hiking, traveling, and archaeology. She is also fascinated by archaeogenetics, particularly since her children's heritages are so mixed. But above all these things Michelle is passionate about reading and can often be found with her nose in a good book. A frequent traveler, she currently resides with her husband, son, and daughter in the US. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

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