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Sisters of Treason
Sisters of Treason
by Elizabeth Fremantle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional tale of the noble Grey sisters of the Tudor court, 18 July 2014
This review is from: Sisters of Treason (Hardcover)
Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Freemantle is set in 16th century England during a time of political upheaval. At the heart of the story are three women, the sisters Mary and Catherine Grey, and painter Levina Teerlinc. Through their collective points of view, the story unfolds. The main story plot are the struggles of the two sisters to avoid court intrigue and politics. Still reeling after the beheading of their Sister, Lady Jane Grey, Catherine and Mary find themselves pulled into court intrigue despite their attempts to keep their distance, where a single swipe of the quill or a few angry words, or even worse, the truth, will spill out and see them imprisoned in the Tower or executed.

Although I had not read the previous book, The Queen's Gambit, it made no difference – this story definitely stands alone. At first I was a little apprehensive because of the over-abundance of Tudor novels on the market currently, and I am getting a little weary of them, but I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. The author has taken us deep into the viewpoint of two lesser known women in England’s history. So for that aspect alone, I found this book unique and refreshing. Brava Elizabeth Freemantle for bringing to life women other than those married to Henry VIII!

I did not expect to become so involved in this story, but I did. Lots of detail, spectacular writing, and an engaging plot kept me involved right to the very last page. Definitely a book not to overlook, especially if you are a fan of English history! I'm definitely looking forward to reading The Queen's Gambit!


Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America
Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America
by Amy Belding Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting tale of suffering and survival, 14 July 2014
Flight of the Sparrow is a biographical novel about the experiences of Mary Rowlandson who lived in 17th century Massachusetts at a time when conflict with Native Americans was at its pinnacle. After the town of Lancaster is attacked and burned, Mary and three of her children survive, but are taken captive by a local tribe. She is separated from her children, except for the youngest, Sarah, who is severely injured, and wounded herself, Mary stoically carries her child as far as she can, desperate to try to save her daughter’s life, but knowing that there is little hope. They are taken to the Indian village where she struggles to survive, despite the ultimate loss of Sarah. She is befriended by a Praying Indian named James Printer, who helps guide her in this strange new culture that has been forced upon her.

I found Mary’s story and plight heart-wrenching for it is hard to imagine such loss, such cruelty, not only at having witnessed the murder of friends and family, but of having to stoically go on with one’s life without respite. The first half of the story pertains to Mary’s captivity and all that she had to endure. Following that is her rescue and her re-assimilation into a society that would never again embrace her, that almost shuns her. But Mary had somewhat adapted to the native culture, and found many things to laud about it. So when she is installed back into her previous life, a whole new set of struggles arise. Her marriage, her family life, even her Christian faith have been shaken.

A great deal of research went into the writing of this novel, made evident by the many interesting details and facts presented through a fictionalized prose. The author did a wonderful job of bringing to life the personal side of Mary’s story including the reactions of her family, friends, and other contacts. The author has presented not only Mary’s suffering, but also that of the Puritans and the tumult faced by the native Americans. A very compelling and authentic story! Highly recommended.


The Summer Queen
The Summer Queen
by Elizabeth Chadwick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, 10 July 2014
This review is from: The Summer Queen (Paperback)
Elizabeth Chadwick has once again put forth a wonderfully authentic recreation of the life of a famous historical figure. In this case, it is the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, or Alienor, as she was officially referred to. The Summer Queen is the first in a trilogy and covers Alienor’s life from childhood until she meets Henry who will become her second husband. And the author does it with grand details, breaking down this famous woman’s life into small increments to truly make her real! One cannot help but be spellbound with each page as we follow Alienor through an unhappy marriage with a spineless, overly religiously devout king as he drags her into peril into a crusade. Awesome characterization, a fascinating plot, and in depth research makes this story stand above all others about Eleanor of Aquitaine. Definitely a book to read and savor!


Sultana: The Bride Price (A Novel of Moorish Spain)
Sultana: The Bride Price (A Novel of Moorish Spain)
Price: £2.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly lovable, 7 July 2014
Do you want to discover a fabulous, talented new author? Do you want to sink your teeth into a gripping, poignant, and rich tale of power, lust, greed, and love? If you have not yet read the Sultana series of novels by author, Lisa J. Yarde, then I encourage you to read this series! The books are a comprehensive historical journey deep into the heart of medieval Moorish Spain, but more importantly, the books are gripping, powerful, and fascinating revelations into murder, greed, and family conflicts. Incredibly, it is all based on fact.

Now, with this fourth book in the series, THE BRIDE PRICE, we are introduced to a new generation in this epic family saga. At the center of the story is a burgeoning romance between Muhammad, the current Sultan of Granada, and his wife, Jazirah, a forced marriage to strengthen family ties. Also returning to the story are the previous Sultana’s Butayna and Maryam whose vitriol continues and threatens to tear Muhammad’s family apart. Love and hate, dark secrets and shocking revelations, all combine to make this story as gripping as the previous books.

I have eagerly followed every book in the series. Lisa Yarde is a captivating writer, writing with powerful, lush prose, and recreating the nail-biting, twisted history of a family’s bloodlust and greed for power. Based on years of intense, impeccable historical research, this book, and others in the series, provide readers with a first-hand look at the dangerous life inside the Sultan’s harem in medieval Granada. Her rich writing is sensual, evoking not only sights and smells, but the strong emotions of the characters, real historical personages.

I cannot recommend this book and the others in the Sultana series enough. Although each book stands alone, I recommend reading the books in order to get the full impact of this historic family. Truly rich reads that will hold your interest from start to finish.


Crossing the Rubicon
Crossing the Rubicon
by Eric De La Harpe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.27

4.0 out of 5 stars Painful at times, 29 Jun 2014
This review is from: Crossing the Rubicon (Paperback)
CROSSING THE RUBICON is a coming of age story about a young boy growing to manhood in Apartheid South Africa. Painful at times, and written with depth and emotion, I was exposed to the hardships of prejudicial way of life that in its dying days. The novel spans several decades and culminates with Nelson Mandela when he retires as President.

There were plenty of good descriptions to make the setting come alive, heart-wrenching scenes, and a memorable main character. It gives a very good historical perspective of what it was like to live in South Africa before the abolishment of Apartheid.


The Settler
The Settler
by Brian Duncan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.64

4.0 out of 5 stars A novel of South Africa's violent past, 29 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Settler (Paperback)
Martin dreams of a life outside of England, in Africa where he can explore a new land, settle down someday, and farm. Before he departs, he is asked by a friend of his father, to take an unruly young American named Perry Davenport to South Africa with him. Perry has been tasked with seeking out for an uncle who owns and operates several gold mines. Little is Martin to know that Perry will become a nemesis in many ways.

Set in South Africa during the end of the 19th century, The Settler is an intriguing adventure rich with historical accuracy and a touch of romance. The story sweeps the reader into the heart of the Matabele War, the Mashonaland Rebellion, and finally the Second Boer War. Some of the war scenes are not for the feint of heart, but war is war and the graphic are accurately depicted and feel very real. I found the scenes that concerned the women and children in the concentration camps most poignant of all.

There is definitely something for everyone in this sweeping novel. Nicely written, with plenty of emotional turmoil, I enjoyed this historical novel and learning more about the Boer war in exotic Africa.


Succession
Succession
by Livi Michael
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars War of the Roses as seen by the two women at the heart of the conflict, 27 Jun 2014
This review is from: Succession (Hardcover)
SUCCESSION is a novel that focuses on the two women on opposing sides during the War of the Roses – Margaret of Anjou and Margaret Beaufort. Author Livi Michaels successfully brings to life both women, and through them, describes the War of the Roses in clear, concise, and easy to understand prose. She uses extracts from articles/chronicles to mark out peculiarities and/or public opinions of the period, which helps to underscore the importance of what is happening in the story and its impact to the people.

The two women are portrayed beautifully, honestly, with their faults as well as their qualities. I could feel their emotions as I read along, experience their hopes and dreams, and motivations too. Credible secondary characterizations also help bring to life this tempestuous period in English history.

All in all, I enjoyed this novel very much, not only for its ability to educate, but also for its entertainment value. The story is presented in easy-to-read and easy-to-understand prose! A uniquely wonderful way to gain a better understanding of the War of the Roses and how it changed England’s history.


Carenza's Heirs
Carenza's Heirs
Price: £3.05

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A page turning family saga, 23 Jun 2014
This review is from: Carenza's Heirs (Kindle Edition)
Carenza’s Heirs is the sequel to Carenza’s Journey, a family saga about a young woman named Carenza Heston and her children. Carenza runs a highly successful antiques business, which she hopes to leave to her twins, Lily and Georgia. While Lily and Georgina are at university, Lily meets a young man named Janyn who begins to consume all her time. He is possessive and controlling, and this leaves Georgia frustrated at the loss of contact with her twin. Lily seems blind to Janyn’s faults as Georgia tries unsuccessfully to separate the two lovers. Janyn is a titled, but penniless aristocrat who desires Lily for her money. Soon Lily learns he is controlling and abusive, and when she finds herself pregnant, flees the relationship, keeping her condition secret. But Janyn is not so easily got rid of. He makes several attempts to get Lily back, but failed. Subsequently, he moves on with his life and Lily moves on with hers. The past, however, has an uncanny way of returning to haunt those involved. Through numerous twists and turns, the family is thrown into danger and conflict.

When I began reading this novel, I was unaware there was a previous book to the series. It was reassuring to learn that the story carried well on its own, and you don’t have to read the first book to enjoy the sequel. Lovely prose and intriguing characters made this a very enjoyable book. I always enjoy good villains, and Janyn kept me intrigued to the very end. There is also a good love story or two thrown in to delight readers! All in all, this is a great family saga! Very enjoyable.


[ TO DIE A DRY DEATH ] By Rol, Greta Van Der ( Author ) ( 2013 ) { Paperback }
[ TO DIE A DRY DEATH ] By Rol, Greta Van Der ( Author ) ( 2013 ) { Paperback }
by Greta Van Der Rol
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking Atrocities, 14 Jun 2014
To Die a Dry Death is a novel about the shipwreck of the Batavia, a ship owned by the Dutch East India Company. Laden with riches and treasure, the ship struck ground near the coast of western Australia in the year 1629. Like the Titanic, it was her maiden voyage. The men, women, and children who managed to flee the sinking ship found refuge on deserted small islands with only a few barrels of food and water to sustain them. Food and water were scarce or non-existent on the islands upon which they landed.

The ship's captain, an official with the Dutch East India Company, and a handful of crewmembers set sail in a longboat headed for Batavia (Jakarta) searching of help and supplies. They promised to return to rescue the survivors and retrieve the valuables. What happened after they departed can only be described as a nightmare.

Thirst, starvation, and a primitive existence brought out the worst in some of the survivors. In their struggle to survive, prejudices and greed surfaced. Sailor vs soldier, men vs women, German vs Dutch vs French. A tyrant came to rule and he secretly ordered the weak to be killed, one by one.

This is not a story for the weak kneed. It is a tale of survival, of brutality, and finally vindication. Intense research into the shipwreck leads to a factual tale that reads like a suspense novel. Although there are numerous characters, the story is easy to follow, shocking as well as poignant at times as the horrific crimes are described. There is a great surprise at the end as well.

Long after closing the book, the story will continue to haunt. For those who love to read factual based fiction, and who love to be gripped and shocked, this book is definitely for you.


Ghostwritten
Ghostwritten
by Isabel Wolff
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly poignant and rich!, 14 Jun 2014
This review is from: Ghostwritten (Paperback)
Jenni Clark is a young woman with a dark past – she holds herself responsible for your young brothers death when they were children. As an adult, she is a ghostwriter – she makes a living by writing other people’s stories. She is asked by an acquaintance to write the memoirs of Klara, an elderly Dutch woman from Cornwall who used to live on a plantation in the Dutch East Indies, and in an internment camp under Japanese occupation.

As Klara begins to unburden herself of long buried secrets and suffering, the reader is exposed to the incredible cruelty women and children suffered while imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp. Klara’s suffering slowly unfolds and is exceedingly disturbing, but also enthralling.

To say this novel has great depth would be an understatement. The plot and subplots unfold with rich layers, and is like peeling the skin from an onion – with every layer, come more dark secrets, surprises, and revelations. In between Klara’s tale, Jenni’s tale slowly unfolds. She draws some parallels from Klara’s story and compares them to her life. Through Klara’s pain, Jenni learns to accept the past and forgive herself, just as Klara had to do the same decades prior.

This is an amazing novel that will profoundly move you as it educates readeards about historic events during World War II but that happened beyond Europe’s borders. Incredibly raw, horrific, but lush descriptions make this novel one not to miss. Prepare yourself for a wonderfully complex plot, an emotional roller coaster ride, and plenty of jaw-dropping scenes that mesmerize. It culminates in one hugely satisfying ending! This is a definite must read for the summer!


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