Review: The Nightmare Affairby Mindee Arnett

Thursday, February 28, 2013
Title: The Nightmare Affair
Author: Mindee Arnett
Genre: supernatural fiction, mythic fiction, young adult
Series: Arkwell Academy #1
Pages: 370 (ARC edition)
Published: expected March 5, 2012
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 3/5

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.


Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

I have to admit I am a little disappointed in this one. Such an intriguing and creative premise - Nightmares are real, paranormal creatures with a unique methodology and mythology -  but the novel uses such average execution of those great ideas. Mindee Arnett has the kernels and beginnings of something pretty fantastic, but unfortunately, can't deliver up the goods. There are some good twists and ideas that do show up during a read of The Nightmare Affair, but, for me,  this is another book that just can't live up to its synopsis (and cover).

I wanted to like this more than I did. I mean, I really wanted to like this - I'd been anticipating reading The Nightmare Affair for weeks before starting. But the style of the novel itself seemed to work against me from the first chapter. I want to learn about the world, creatures, etc. as I read. I don't want them clumsily infodumped or straight told to me. It's always a better idea to show rather than tell, and unfortunately, this is an author more prone to the latter rather than the former. The plot, the characters, and especially the mystery were shortchanged by how the author chose to write her novel. I adjusted as the book progressed and the problems eased up somewhat, but it was a very rough start and abrupt way to impart knowledge about key facets of the novel to the readers.

For a novel that started out so originally, obvious parallels can be drawn between The Nightmare Affair and the most famous magic boarding school series, Harry Potter. Magic people of all kinds are sent to the same school, and trained to harness their powers. Thankfully, there are numerous differences between the two that also help to keep them independent and original enough. Arnett has clearly thought-out her world and creatures and managed to keep them uniquely hers. The idea of Nightmares especially stands out from the rest. That was what kept me interested and reading when the plotline began to stall around the halfway point. I do love boarding school novels, especially magical ones, so I will certainly be reading the sequels about Arkwell, and can only hope the author diverges even more from the HP path.

I did enjoy some aspects of this novel. Like I said, the idea of the Nightmares is a highpoint, as is main character Dusty. She is not the most defined or evolved main character, but I liked her all the same. She might not stand out as a favorite heroine, but she is more than capable during her investigation. I also liked the twist the author manages to work into her story - it both works for the plot and caught me entirely by surprise. Some readers might not find it believable or feasible, but I thought it was creative and infused some new life into a lagging story.

Great premise, average execution is the  TL; DR version. There's promise, and I think talent, in the novel but it founders under a poor style execution. Still, I was entertained and involved enough in the mystery to think this is worth 3/5 stars. I liked it; I just didn't love it the way I wanted to.

Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Title: Dare You To
Author: Katie McGarry
Genre: contemporary, young-adult
Series: Pushing the Limits #2
Pages: 655 (ARC edition)
Published: expected May 28 2013
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....

Two for two!

McGarry continues to improve and grow as a writer! I'm impressed and happy that this was such a quick, enjoyable real. McGarry's sophomore novel was by turns so fun, and entertaining and sad, in all the right places. A fast read, with great and well-drawn protagonists, Dare You To is an impressive and strong second novel from this promising and talented author. I loved this, from drama to dialogue to plot, it all worked so well together and added up to a really memorable read.  Full of the same complex, flawed characters one has begun to expect from McGarry, the second Pushing the Limits novel was an even bigger hit with me than the first, the eponymously-titled Pushing the Limits

A lot of the reasons this was a bigger success than its predecessor with me comes down the main characters. While I liked Noah and Echo (mainly Noah), they each were a bit too dramatic and cliche for my tastes. Their story was compelling enough, but nowhere near the level of Beth and Ryan's interactions.  These were two complete opposites whose attractions felt genuine, and believable. Full of the typical ups and downs of teenage relationships, the sources of the drama between the two that prevent their inevitable coupledom didn't feel like filler. Both have fleshed out personalities and lives beyond each other, and that help to shape these two into real people with incredibly sad histories. McGarry has largely left behind her overwrought drama from the first and learned to craft more subtle - and thus meaningful - conflicts and struggles for her two protagonists to overcome.

 There is a plot in Dare You To, but it really takes a backseat to the evolution of the characters and their relationship. McGarry is more than adept at creating a character-driven novel and both Beth and Ryan's narrations are engaging and distinctive. It's intense and emotional from the start, and the slow reveal of how horrific Beth's life has been pulled all the heartstrings I have. Ryan might have had a better homelife, but these are two characters you want to end up together. It's a foregone conclusion that they will, but McGarry and Beth and Ryan make it a tumultuous ride to that result. McGarry isn't afraid to make hard choices for her characters - as Beth's rejection of Isaiah shows in spades.

McGarry is a growing writer, and it's apparent in Dare You To. All the talent and promise she showed, but didn't quite achieve in her first book has come to fruition with her second. I am immensely excited for this, especially as there is a third Pushing the Limits novel due out not soon enough soon. Crash Into You will be Isaiah's story, and I for one can't wait to see even more improvement from an already talented author. McGarry - you've won me over. I am officially a fan.

Top Ten Tuesday - My Auto-Buy Authors

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
This is my first time participating in The Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday meme, but hopefully I can keep it up and continue on after this.

My Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors:

1. J.K. Rowling - read book count: 10 novels (Seven Harry Potter novels, Tales of Beedle the Bard, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and The Casual Vacancy).

I'm a Harry Potter fan for life, so it's no surprise that when JKR tried for a more adult, less-magical novel,  I willingly followed her there. What did surprise me was how much I liked The Casual Vacancy, even if it wasn't Harry Potter: The Later Years. I will always read whatever this woman chooses to write, and I guess I can only hope that one day a series about the Marauders comes to life.

Recommended reading: everything! But especially the Potter series. 

2. Kate Morton - read count: 4 novels (The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, The Secret Keeper, and The House at Riverton).

I bought The Distant Hours on a whim, because I had a giftcard with about $15 dollars on it and didn't want to carry it around anymore. And I am so grateful I made that impulsive decision because you never forget your first Morton. I've since embarked on a bookish love affair with every subsequent book of hers I have read. Every novel she has written has impressed me with character development, intricate plotting, deft authorial slight of hand, and unpredictable twists.

Recommended reading: The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper and The House at Riverton were all 5-star reads for me. The Forgotten Garden is good, just not as good as good those books. Try one of the first three for your first experience with this immensely talented writer.

3. Steven Erikson - read count: 10 novels, 3 novellas (The entire Malazan Book of the Fallen series, and three three novellas featuring Bauchelain and Korbal Broach [Blood Follows, The Healthy Dead, The Lees of Laughter's End]). To be read: The Forge of Darkness, and Crack'd Pot Trail.

If inventive, philosophical fantasy is your game, Steven Erikson is king. With his epic, sprawling and original Malazan books, Erikson took popular fantasy themes and ideas and made them fresh and fun. A huge series of ten books with impressive history and detailed worldbuilding, Erikson may hit a few stumbles, but the good vastly outweighs any negatives. This is an author that isn't afraid to try something different, and he makes it work for him. Bonus: Bugg and Tehol are two of the funniest characters I've read. Ever.

Recommended reading: Though you can technically start reading Malazan at several different points/book (weird, right?), it's best to go with the first, Gardens of the Moon and proceed from there. That said, my favorite novels of the ten are probably House of Chains (#4) and Midnight Tides (#5). Except now that I am thinking about it, I really loved #7 (Reaper's Gale), #9 (Dust of Dreams) and #10 (The Crippled God). It's all good, really. Even when it missteps.

4. Gail Carriger - read count 5, soon to be 6 (Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, Timeless and am about to start Etiquette & Espionage).

Cheeky, funny, and steampunk! Also: sexy werewolves. Also: hilarious vampires. Though it's rapidly becoming a more popular genre, Carriger is my hallmark series for steampunk, especially steampunk that incorporates the paranormal as well. One of the things I enjoy so much about this book is it seems and reads effortlessly. Carriger combines steampunk with vampires, with werewolves and makes it seems like it is a plausible, secret awesome history we're missing out on. Her alt-England is entirely believable, and in many cases the way it's explained, it's downright plausible. Originality is the keyword when it comes to this author. The ingenious idea for the requirements of being supernatural, not to mention the uniqueness of Alexia's condition and the ramifications surrounding it, are clever, amazing plots and ideas. Instead of a run-of-the-mill mythology, Miss Carriger invents her own and it's way way better than any else I've come across. 

Recommended reading: The entire Parasol Protectorate series. And hopefully The Finishing School series, but I will  have to get back to you on that one. I have high hopes, though. 

5. Melina Marchetta - read count: 3 (On the Jellicoe Road, Saving Francecsa, and The Piper's Son. Yet to read: Looking for Alibrandi, Finnikin of the Rock, Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn).

The Queen of YA - and not just Aussie YA. Nobody, nobody, does it like Melina Marchetta and on one hand that's a good thing -- I can only take so much heartache. On the other hand, characters like Taylor Markham and (swooon) Jonah Griggs are far and few between in the insta-love obsessed YA genre. Marchetta's contemporary novels have yet to NOT make me cry. To quote another meme: they give me ALL the feels. I've yet to dig into her fantasy offerings, though I own them, probably because I'm still recovering from Jellicoe Road, a year later.

Recommended reading: Jellicoe Road is my favorite so far, but The Piper's Son and Saving Francesca are also top-notch novels.

6. Laini Taylor - read count 3 (Lips Touch: Three Times, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Days of Blood and Starlight). Yet to read: Blackbringer, Silksinger.

From the tagline of Daughter of Smoke and Bone ("Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well") alone I knew I was in for an epic star-crossed love affair and had faith that Laini Taylor would handle it with aplomb and not melodrama. I was right. And the way this woman writes is remarkable. One of the few authors I would call an artist, Taylor's way with words is lyrical, beautiful and full of sensory language. Scenes, places, people all pop from page, from Prague to Zuzana.

Recommended reading: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, immediately followed by it's even better sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight. If you like creative (and beautifully-illustrated) adaptations of fairy tales, Lips Touch: Three Times is a must read.

7. Elizabeth Kostova - read count 2 (The Historian, and The Swan Thieves).

The Historian is one of my top-five favorite ever reads. I have two copies - one I read, and one that no one is allowed to open. The only other books I have two copies of, for the same reasons, are Ender's Game, The Lord of the Rings, and my brand-spanking new editions of the first four Song of Ice and Fire books. The Historian and Kostova's style may not be for everyone, but it slowly but deftly plotted novels are your thing, Kostova reigns supreme. The history, the twists and turns and reveals all worked so well for me. It was one of my favorite reading experiences - as soon as I finished, I turned the book over and read it again. The Swan Thieves miiiight not be on quite the same level, but provides another excellently written and plotted mystery. Kostova may have only written two books in the last ten years, but I will be patiently waiting to immediately snap up anything new.

Recommended reading: The Historian - especially if history (Vlad Tepes in particular) interests or intrigues you.

8. Garth Nix - read count 3 (Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen). To be read: Clariel, Across the Wall, A Confusion of Princes.

A newish to me author, I stumbled upon the Abhorsen series early 2011.  This series is lively and creative, and shines with imagination and invention. Reading that series lead me to Goodreads, which led to me creating this very blog. Thus, Nix is a personal favorite. The only reason I've yet to finish the Abhorsen series is because Clariel's publishing date keeps getting pushed back. His books are great examples of YA fantasy done right. Creative magic systems, unlikely characters you can root for, a talking cat, and a re-imagining of our real world as one with magic are all great reasons to pick up his books.

Recommended reading: All of the Abhorsen series. And probably A Confusion of Princes - I've just yet to get to it.

9. Brandon Sanderson - read count 9 (All three Mistborns, Warbreaker, Elantris, The Way of Kings, 3 Wheel of Time novels) To read: The Alloy of Law, The Book of Endless Pages/Highprince of War/Stormlight Archive #2, The Emperor's Soul, Legion, Steelheart, and The Rithmatist.

Sanderson is probably the second most prominent fantasy author working today (behind GRRM, thanks to the success of HBO's series and the popularity of A Song of Ice and Fire novels), and he certainly is one of the most prolific. I have loved all his novels (some more than others - Way of Kings is one of the best fantasy novels I've ever read), but they're all imaginative and full of some of the strongest worldbuilding I've read. With overarching themes, mysterious omnipresent characters (HOID), Sanderson is another inventive author. His books are usually huge, and dense, but still remain page-turning reads. I will read anything he chooses to write - even if it's outside his best genre. He even managed to put out of its misery wrap up the long-running and at-that-time faltering Wheel of Time series with considerable aplomb.

Recommended reading: The Way of Kings is his best work, and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel. After that, Warbreaker is great, as is Elantris. The Mistborn series starts strongly, but becomes a bit weaker as the novels progress. Still: all are more than worth a read.

10. Patrick Rothfuss - read count 2 (The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man's Fear). Yet to read: awaiting publication of The Doors of Stone.

Another author that I've not read a ton of novels by, but one that leaves a lasting impression with just a few books. Rothfuss is one of those able to use words so well he could be called an artist. The first book is my favorite, but with the second, he was able to continue a high standard with the middle novel in the Kingkiller Chronicle. Kvothe is a great main character and narrator - it's remarkably easy to be caught up in his world and story as it unfolds over the course of these books.

Recommended reading: both, clearly. And in order.

George R. R. Martin, Charles de Lint , A.S. Byatt, Frank Herbert/Dune, Juliet Marrilier, Neal Shusterman, Lisa See, Amy Tan, Gail Z. Martin, Margaret Atwood, Paulo Coelho, Ian C. Esslemont.

Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Thursday, February 21, 2013
Title: If You Find Me
Author: Emily Murdoch
Genre: young adult, contemporary
Series: N/A
Pages: 256 (Nook ARC edition)
Published: expected March 26 2013
Source: publishers for review
Rating: 4/5

There are some things you can’t leave behind… A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

Wow. Impressive. Rich. Emotional. Heartbreaking. These are only some of the words that come to mind after finishing this short but powerful novel. Emily Murdoch writes with the authority, care, and subtlety of a much more experienced storyteller. If You Find Me is a strong, sad and quietly impressive debut from a very talented new author; one that promises more good things to come in the future from such a writer.  Beautifully written, with an amazingly strong, compelling survivor for a narrator, this is one novel that I won't be forgetting anytime. Read in one day, in under three and a half novels, I can easily say that If You Find Me grabs the reader from page one and won't let go. It definitely will leave a lasting impression, from the well-drawn characters to the unique and wonderful writing.

If You Find Me is quiet and subtle, a novel that doesn't lay all the answers or reasons out for the reader. You have to work to understand what has happened to Carey and her sister Jenessa. And, even before the end, it's worth the effort. The kind of lives these two intelligent but abused children have had to lead, hidden from the world in the backwoods of Tennessee, is compelling and wholly heartbreaking . The bond between Carey and her selectively mute sister provides the emotional heart of the novel. Carey is the only real mom her sister has ever known; one who provides for her and protects her from the evil of the world their addicted mother has brought them into.

Emily Murdoch is an author that can get under your skin. An unflinching look at child abuse, and to a lesser degree, the impact of drug addiction on children, her debut novel is by turns heartbreaking, charming, and hopeful. With the kind of suspense that slowly builds as the book progresses, the final reveal of what happened on the worst night of Carey's young life is shocking, and yet, given the few flashbacks, not wholly surprising. Murdoch manages to take a revelation that could have felt predictable and still make it a moving, harrowing event. I won't say much more for fear of spoilers, but even if you called how it all plays out before the end, Murdoch will still manage to tug on your heartstrings with skill. 

I'm impressed. I'm eager to see what else this author will produce, because this was one of the best debuts I've had the pleasure to come across in a long, long time. With hard subjects, great characters and an unrelenting look at both the good and bad sides of human nature, Murdoch isn't afraid to go dark places with her story. And what's more, is that while it may not always be fun to go there with her, her novel is rich and rewarding and worth all the feelings it will arouse in its readers.

Review and Giveaway for The Sign of the Weeping Virgin by Alana White

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Title: The Sign of the Weeping Virgin
Author: Alana J. White
Genre: historical fiction, mystery
Series: N/A
Pages: 384
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Rating: 4/5

Romance and intrigue abound in The Sign of the Weeping Virgin‚ an evocative historical mystery that brings the Italian Renaissance gloriously to life.

In 1480 Florentine investigator Guid’Antonio Vespucci and his nephew‚ Amerigo‚ are tangled in events that threaten to destroy them and their beloved city.

Marauding Turks abduct a beautiful young Florentine girl and sell her into slavery. And then a holy painting begins weeping in Guid’Antonio’s church. Are the tears manmade or a sign of God’s displeasure with Guid’Antonio himself?

In a finely wrought story for lovers of medieval and renaissance mysteries everywhere‚ Guid’Antonio follows a spellbinding trail of clues to uncover the thought-provoking truth about the missing girl and the weeping painting’s mystifying—and miraculous?—tears‚ all pursued as he comes face to face with his own personal demons.

I've always wanted to go to Europe - Italy, and France in particular, which is a big part of why historical fiction is such a favorite of mine. I'm a a major, unrepentant history nerd, and getting to read and see these fascinating locales in new ways through new books, especially ones so vividly drawn like Florence here with The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, is always a highlight of reading for me.  Alana White's novel of Renaissance Florence is a strong, well-written and full of life, from the characters to the streets they walk. From the first page, the reader is caught up in the life of Guid'Antonio Vespucci, his famous nephew Amerigo Vespucci, and that of Il Magnifico - Lorenzo de' Medici. With a detailed, informative style and a clear voice, White's story is enveloping and vivid; a dense read but one that is rewarding.

The disappearance and assumed death of a young, beautiful Florentine wife, the "miraculous" appearance of the tears from a painting of the Virgin Mary, and the ongoing struggle with Pope Sixtus IV are all important factors to the plot, and the the struggles of the protagonist, Guid'Antonio. A Medici man through and through, one literally haunted by his failure to protect Lorenzo's murdered brother, Guid'Antonio finds himself charged with finding out whether there is a conspiracy to incite Florentines to revolt against their unofficial but powerful Medici leader. Guid'Antonio is a strong protagonist - full of principle, but also internal conflicts and doubts. He didn't develop as much as I would have liked, but this was a solid, intelligent lead for a strong mystery novel.

The Sign of the Weeping Virgin is consistently very evocative of Renaissance Florence. That's a very good thing, and what kept me coming back when I would struggle with the mystery. The vivid imagery is the strongest aspect of the novel, and Florence really comes to life under White's pen. From the neighborhoods and churches, to the Medici palace, White clearly knows her way around the City of Flowers, and it shows in her sensory language. The characters are solid, even if the secondary personages need a little more definition, the plot is compelling and fresh, and the mystery not easily uncovered, but it is the setting that really makes this novel stand out.

I did think the novel stalled a little bit in the middle. Guid'Antonio understandably has a lot of leads to run down, questions to be answered and people to be found and the pace slowed down enough to make my reading progress a bit difficult. I didn't want to stop reading The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, but I did want some faster revelations or progression on the mystery. The mystery is itself well-constructed; the red herrings few but believable until Vespucci disproves them, but it did feel a bit stretched (or ignored, as when Maria's mother takes over the story) at times. However, White is a more than capable author and she found her storytelling footing soon enough and kept me engaged til the end.

If you're a fan of Italy, or of the Italian renaissance, or in papal politics, or in the fascinating life of Lorenzo de' Medici, you cannot pass on Alana White's impressive The Sign of the Weeping Virgin. Good, convoluted historical mysteries with interesting characters and creative plots can be hard to come across and it will be a while until I find one that measures up to the caliber of White's first novel. Impressive, well-written, and with an excellent use of place-as-character, The Sign of the Weeping Virgin was a hit with me.

Rafflecopter is no longer working for me, and I have no idea why. But, to enter: follow via GFC and leave your GFC name and your email so I can contact you if you win.

You can get extra entries by liking my review page on FaceBook  and leaving your FB name in a comment (+3), following me on twitter, and stating who you are on twitter (+3), following Historical Fiction Vitrual Book Tours on twitter and leaving your name to confirm (+3), or tweeting about the giveaway (leave a link to the tweet, +3).



Monday, February 11
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Interview & Giveaway at Enchanted by Josephine

Tuesday, February 12
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, February 13
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Guest Post & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Friday, February 15
Review at The Novel Life
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace

Monday, February 18
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, February 19
Interview & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, February 20
Review & Giveaway at Ageless Pages Reviews

Thursday, February 21
Review at A Bookish Libraria

Friday, February 22
Review & Giveaway at The Book Garden

Book Tour Review: Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Haggard

Friday, February 15, 2013
Title: Thwarted Queen
Author: Cynthia Haggard
Series: Thwarted Queen #1
Pages: 480 (paperback edition)
Published: October 2011
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating: 4/5

THWARTED QUEEN is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.

Cecylee is the apple of her mother’s eye. The seventh daughter, she is the only one left unmarried by 1424, the year she turns nine. In her father’s eyes, however, she is merely a valuable pawn in the game of marriage. The Earl of Westmorland plans to marry his youngest daughter to 13-year-old Richard, Duke of York, who is close to the throne. He wants this splendid match to take place so badly, he locks his daughter up.

The event that fuels the narrative is Cecylee’s encounter with Blaybourne, a handsome archer, when she is twenty-six years old. This love affair produces a child (the “One Seed” of Book II), who becomes King Edward IV. But how does a public figure like Cecylee, whose position depends upon the goodwill of her husband, carry off such an affair? The duke could have locked her up, or disposed of this illegitimate son.

But Richard does neither, keeping her firmly by his side as he tries to make his voice heard in the tumultuous years that encompass the end of the Hundred Years War - during which England loses all of her possessions in France - and the opening phase of the Wars of the Roses. He inherits the political mantle of his mentor Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, and becomes the people’s champion. The rambunctious Londoners are unhappy that their country has become mired in misrule due to the ineptitude of a King prone to fits of madness. Nor are they better pleased by the attempts of the King’s French wife to maneuver herself into power, especially as she was responsible for England’s losses in France. But can Richard and Cecylee prevail? Everywhere, their enemies lurk in the shadows. 

This book was a surprise for me, for a number of reasons. Because of personal issues, it took me longer to get into and read than I would have liked, but once Cecylee gets her foot in the door, she is impossible to ignore. Talk about a strong, passionate female protagonist. Cynthia Haggard is a strong writer and her novel about one of the most tumultuous times in England's fascinating history is rich with detail and well-realized characters with very strong, individual voices. 15th century England readily comes to life under the author's research and knowledge, easily forming a setting and plot that will keep readers raptly entertained.

Cecylee is a woman with many faults, but I loved reading her inner monologue all the more for them. She's strong and passionate, foolhardy and determined. She makes mistakes and goes forth in her same manner. She is smart and self-possessed under pressure. The struggle for power that eventually shaped the lives of her family so intimately was constant from the beginning of her life, when she was betrothed at the tender age of nine.  Through all she and her family go through, she proves herself loyal (if in her own way) and capable in a way few women were allowed to be at the time. I've never read much about the mother of Edward IV and Richard III before, but this novel has sparked a new interest in her, and her extended, complicated family.

I lost a little steam heading into the later parts of the book, when the struggle and fights against the Lancastrian faction become more in earnest, but Haggard would find new ways to reel me right back into the story.  Haggard kept the pace moving right along and the story unwinding with ease. For a novel that clocks in at nearly 500 pages, it was a surprisingly fast and easy read. The research the author did is obvious, but not overpowering.The second half was a bit more uneven in storytelling, but the plot and story at the heart of the novel were always compelling, and most importantly, they both felt fresh. Despite the presence of another battle or fight, there was no feeling of "been there, read that" with this book. Even when historical figures I am more familiar with (Edward, Richard, etc.) came into the fore, this story remained Cecylee's.

Though I did wish Cecylee's affair with Blaybourne had more of a solid, believable foundation, it was one of my few complaints and I readily say this was an excellent start to Haggard's series about this little-known figure of the War of the Roses. A fascinating protagonist, a quick pace, and a sufficient amount of action all add up to a very good book and fun read. I would and hope to read the rest of the novels the author has written to see where she takes this story next. And again, this is a historical fiction novel with an author's note that is really just as engaging and worth reading. Much about Cecylee's life is still questioned, and the author's reasons for why she did what she did in the novel really add to the overall impact. 



Monday, February 11
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading

Tuesday, February 12

Review at The Book Garden

Wednesday, February 13

Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, February 14

Review at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, February 15

Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Guest Post at Flashlight Commentary

Monday, February 18
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Tuesday, February 19
Interview & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, February 20
Review at A Book Geek
Thursday, February 21

Review at Psychotic State Book Reviews
Feature & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Friday, February 22
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Monday, February 25
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, February 26
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Interview & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, February 27
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, February 28
Author Guest Post at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, March 1
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Guest Post From Historical Fiction Author Anne Easter Smith

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Looking for Richard

By Anne Easter Smith
Author of the soon-to-be-published Royal Mistress

So now we know! It was Richard III under the car park in Leicester, and the exciting
announcement on February 4th made me cry. Now all of us who are Richard fans will have
somewhere to go and pay our respects. It appears Leicester has won out in the re-interment battle between there and York Minster. A ceremony is being planned for early 2014, I understand.

The discovery of a skeleton beneath a municipal parking lot in Leicester last September sent a shiver of excitement through the history world and especially several thousand fans of England’s much maligned king, Richard III.

When I heard that an archeological dig was being considered to find the last remains of my
favorite king, I quickly opened my wallet and donated to the attempt. How could I refuse? After all, Richard is the only crowned king of England whose grave has remained shrouded in as much mystery as his life has. And he is featured in all of my books!

The venture was to be undertaken by the archeology department at Leicester University, but the force behind the dig was a fellow Ricardian and president of the Scottish branch of the Richard III Society, Philippa Langley. She was convinced her exhaustive research would uncover the remains of the Greyfriars Church, where Richard’s battered body was lain out for “all men to wonder upon” before being given burial, with little ceremony, somewhere inside the church. We only have a couple of references to where it might have been, but I’ll get to that later.

I happened to be in England when they first began to dig on August 25th, so I was privy to more media coverage than perhaps was first given in the US. The Society had approached the BBC about including the dig in its popular “Time Team” program that documents archeological digs all over Britain. They refused at first, but a barrage of emails from Ricardians and enthusiasts all over the world got their attention, and when artifacts from a well-endowed building were uncovered in two trenches, they changed their minds. You can be sure they were doubly glad when, on September 12th, a skeleton was unearthed in a third trench that had uncovered the nave and its shallow burial crypt beneath.

Lo and behold! A solitary skeleton of a male was discovered, its skull caved in by some sharp
instrument, an arrowhead still lodged in its spine, and, most curious of all, a curvature of the
spine that would have made the man’s right shoulder higher than the left. The news raced around the world that finally, King Richard III’s grave may have been uncovered.

Richard III at Leicester Square
But why only now? It seems history forgot Richard after the Tudors sowed their damning seeds about the last Plantagenet king to shore up their own feeble claim to the throne. Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond, who became Henry VII, chose to date his reign from the day BEFORE the battle of Bosworth, thus making it possible to proclaim Richard’s supporters traitors, and Richard’s body to be treated with despicable irreverence.

After the battle, with a halter around its neck, Richard’s naked, battered body was thrown
ignominiously over the back of a horse and taken back into the city of Leicester and given over to the monks of Greyfriars to lay out for public viewing. After two days, the monks were given permission by the king to bury him somewhere within the monastery walls.

The battle of Bosworth where he lost his crown and his life

At some point in the next ten years, however, the notoriously stingy Henry must have felt guilty for his ill treatment of an anointed king’s remains, and he managed to untie his purse strings to pay one James Keyley to fashion a small alabaster monument to be placed over Richard’s grave. Unfortunately, the Greyfriars monastery and church went the same way the rest of England’s Catholic bastions of religion went during Henry’s son’s reign forty years later. Monks and priests were strung up, churches stripped of all their treasures, monasteries ransacked and burned and tombs overturned and desecrated. In fact, some history books will state that Richard’s bones were found and thrown into the nearby River Soar and his stone sarcophagus (of which there is no mention in the contemporary chronicles) used as a water trough for horses.

In 1611, John Speed (of map fame) wrote a history of Great Britain based on his travels around the country. He writes that a mayor of Leicester owned the now secular Greyfriars monastery as a pleasant residence, and the alabaster monument was still in what was now the garden, albeit covered in nettles and weeds. A traveler in the 18th century also wrote in his journal that he had seen the same monument, but since then the old house has disappeared and the land was subsumed by the city of Leicester. At the time of the dig last year, it had been a parking lot for many years; the city allowed the excavation to take place before the lot is built on yet again.

Is the skeleton Richard’s? Scientists are using DNA from a descendant of Richard’s sister, Anne, to try and ascertain that. Other tests like carbon dating should also help, and a reconstruction of Richard’s face can be done with the latest technology, which will be exciting. By the time you read this, we should know, and I for one wish I could be on hand to witness a more fitting re-burial for this unfortunate, misunderstood king.

About the Author

Anne Easter Smith is an award-winning historical novelist whose research and writing concentrates on England in the 15th century. Meticulous historical research, rich period detail, and compelling female protagonists combine to provide the reader with a sweeping portrait of England in the time of the Wars of the Roses. Her critically acclaimed first book, A Rose for the Crown, debuted in 2006, and her third, The King’s Grace, was the recipient of a Romantic Times Review Best Biography award in 2009. A Queen by Right has been nominated by Romantic Times Review for the Best Historical Fiction award, 2011.

Look for Royal Mistress out in May 2013!

In January 2013, I Went Book Crazy

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
I've not done one of these in a while, so this might be quite a lengthy post. I went on a bit of a book spree, and while my wallet may be suffering, I'm thrilled for all of these books.

Physical Books I Bought:

Cinder (Luanr Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

 Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

This is not the fairytale you remember.

But it’s one you won’t forget.

Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. The police have closed her case. The only person Scarlet can turn to is Wolf, a street fighter she does not trust, but they are drawn to each other.

Meanwhile, in New Beijing, Cinder will become the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive – when she breaks out of prison to stay one step ahead of vicious Queen Levana.

As Scarlet and Wolf expose one mystery, they encounter Cinder and a new one unravels. Together they must challenge the evil queen, who will stop at nothing to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner . .

The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victoria Schwab

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster

An exotic treat set in an entirely original, fantastical world brimming with deadly mystery, forbidden romance, and heart-stopping adventure.

Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.

Revel by Maurissa Guibord

There’s an island off the coast of Maine that’s not on any modern map.

Shrouded in mist and protected by a deadly reef, Trespass Island is home to a community of people who guard the island and its secrets from outsiders. Seventeen-year-old Delia grew up in Kansas, but has come here in search of her family and answers to her questions: Why didn’t her mother ever talk about Trespass Island? Why did she fear the open water? But Delia’s not welcome and soon finds herself enmeshed in a frightening and supernatural world where ancient Greek symbols adorn the buildings and secret ceremonies take place on the beach at night.

Sean Gunn, a handsome young lobsterman, befriends Delia and seems willing to risk his life to protect her. But it’s Jax, the coldly elusive young man she meets at the water’s edge, who finally makes Delia understand the real dangers of life on the island. Delia is going to have to fight to survive. Because there are monsters here. And no one ever leaves Trespass alive.

Pivot Point ( Pivot Point #1) by Kasie West

Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Sophronia Temminnick at 14 is a great trial more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners -- and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Her poor mother, desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady, enrolls the lively tomboy in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage -- in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

Kindle/Nook eBooks Bought -- all at $3.99 or under

Breathe (Breathe #1) by Sarah Crossan

Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe . . . The world is dead. The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

Alina has been stealing for a long time. She's a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she's never been caught before. If she's careful, it'll be easy. If she's careful.

Quinn should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it's also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn't every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

Bea wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they'd planned a trip together, the two of them, and she'd hoped he'd discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days' worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?

The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy #1) by Jennifer A. Nielsen

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war– and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

Everneath (Everneath #1) by Brodi Ashton

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she's returned--to her old life, her family, her boyfriend--before she's banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance--and the one person she loves more than anything. But there's just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's queen.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Jenna Fox Chronicles #1) by Mary E. Pearson

  Everything is different

Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox has just awoken from a year-long coma - so she's been told - and she is still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. But what happened before that? She's been given home movies chronicling her entire life, which spark memories to surface. But are the memories really hers? And why won't anyone in her family talk about the accident? Jenna is becoming more curious. But she is also afraid of what she might find out if she ever gets up the courage to ask her questions.

What happened to Jenna Fox? And who is she really?

Incarnate (Newsoul #1) by Jodi Meadows

New soul.

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

No soul.

Even Ana's own mother thinks she's a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she'll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?


Sam believes Ana's new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana's enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else's life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Red Fox (Experiment in Terror #2) by Karina Halle

With book two of the Experiment in Terror Series, Perry Palomino and Dex Foray trade in the stormy Oregon coast for the unforgiving deserts of New Mexico.

In the for­got­ten town of Red Fox, New Mex­ico, a Navajo cou­ple is tor­tured by things unseen and by motives unknown. Wild ani­mals slink through their house in the dark, a bar­rage of stones pound their roof nightly, and muti­lated sheep car­casses are turn­ing up on their prop­erty. Armed with a cam­era and just enough to go on, Perry and Dex travel to the des­o­late locale, hop­ing to film the super­nat­ural occur­rences and add cred­i­bil­ity to their flail­ing web­cast. Only their show has a lot more work­ing against them than just grow­ing pains. Tested by dubi­ous ranch hands, a ghost from Dex’s past, and shapeshift­ing decep­tion, the ama­teur ghost hunters must learn to trust each other in order to fight the most ancient of myths…or die trying.

Dead Sky Morning (Experiment in Terror #3) by Karina Halle

With the Experiment in Terror show finding some success, amateur ghost hunters Perry Palomino and Dex Foray embark on their most terrifying investigation yet. A tiny, fog-shrouded island in the rough strait between British Columbia and Washington State has held a dark secret for decades: It was a former leper colony where over forty souls were left to rot, die and bury each other. 

Now a functioning campground, Perry and Dex spend an isolated weekend there to investigate potential hauntings but as the duo quickly find out, there is more to fear on D’Arcy Island than just ghosts. The island quickly pits partner against partner, spiraling the pair into madness that serves to destroy their sanity, their relationship and their very lives

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. They had been best friends since they were six, spending hot Minneapolis summers and cold Minneapolis winters together, dreaming of Hogwarts and Oz, superheroes and baseball. Now that they were eleven, it was weird for a boy and a girl to be best friends. But they couldn't help it - Hazel and Jack fit, in that way you only read about in books. And they didn't fit anywhere else.

And then, one day, it was over. Jack just stopped talking to Hazel. And while her mom tried to tell her that this sometimes happens to boys and girls at this age, Hazel had read enough stories to know that it's never that simple. And it turns out, she was right. Jack's heart had been frozen, and he was taken into the woods by a woman dressed in white to live in a palace made of ice. Now, it's up to Hazel to venture into the woods after him. Hazel finds, however, that these woods are nothing like what she's read about, and the Jack that Hazel went in to save isn't the same Jack that will emerge. Or even the same Hazel.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Breadcrumbs is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. Having missed her flight, she's stuck at JFK airport and late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

Received for Review:

Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Sally Haggard

THWARTED QUEEN is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.

Cecylee is the apple of her mother’s eye. The seventh daughter, she is the only one left unmarried by 1424, the year she turns nine. In her father’s eyes, however, she is merely a valuable pawn in the game of marriage. The Earl of Westmorland plans to marry his youngest daughter to 13-year-old Richard, Duke of York, who is close to the throne. He wants this splendid match to take place so badly, he locks his daughter up.

The event that fuels the narrative is Cecylee’s encounter with Blaybourne, a handsome archer, when she is twenty-six years old. This love affair produces a child (the “One Seed” of Book II), who becomes King Edward IV. But how does a public figure like Cecylee, whose position depends upon the goodwill of her husband, carry off such an affair? The duke could have locked her up, or disposed of this illegitimate son.

But Richard does neither, keeping her firmly by his side as he tries to make his voice heard in the tumultuous years that encompass the end of the Hundred Years War - during which England loses all of her possessions in France - and the opening phase of the Wars of the Roses. He inherits the political mantle of his mentor Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, and becomes the people’s champion. The rambunctious Londoners are unhappy that their country has become mired in misrule due to the ineptitude of a King prone to fits of madness. Nor are they better pleased by the attempts of the King’s French wife to maneuver herself into power, especially as she was responsible for England’s losses in France. But can Richard and Cecylee prevail? Everywhere, their enemies lurk in the shadows.

The Sign of the Weeping Virgin by Alana J. White

Romance and intrigue abound in The Sign of the Weeping Virgin‚ an evocative historical mystery that brings the Italian Renaissance gloriously to life.

In 1480 Florentine investigator Guid’Antonio Vespucci and his nephew‚ Amerigo‚ are tangled in events that threaten to destroy them and their beloved city.

Marauding Turks abduct a beautiful young Florentine girl and sell her into slavery. And then a holy painting begins weeping in Guid’Antonio’s church. Are the tears manmade or a sign of God’s displeasure with Guid’Antonio himself?

In a finely wrought story for lovers of medieval and renaissance mysteries everywhere‚ Guid’Antonio follows a spellbinding trail of clues to uncover the thought-provoking truth about the missing girl and the weeping painting’s mystifying—and miraculous?—tears‚ all pursued as he comes face to face with his own personal demons.

A Rip in the Veil (The Graham Saga #1) by Anna Belfrage

On a stifling August day in 2002, Alexandra Lind is thrown several centuries backwards in time. She lands at the feet of Matthew Graham - an escaped convict making his way home to Scotland in this the year of our Lord, 1658.

Matthew doesn't quite know what to make of this concussed and injured woman who has seemingly fallen from the skies. What is she, a witch?

Alex gawks at this tall, gaunt man with hazel eyes, dressed in what to her mostly looks like rags. At first she thinks he might be some sort of hermit, an oddball, but she quickly realises the odd one out is she.

Catapulted from a life of modern comfort, Alex grapples with this new existence, further complicated by the dawning realisation that someone from her time has followed her here - and not exactly to extend a helping hand.

Potential compensation for this brutal shift in fate comes in the shape of Matthew - a man she should never have met, not when she was born three centuries after him. He quickly proves himself a willing and most capable protector, but Matthew comes with baggage of his own, and on occasion it seems his past will see him killed. At times Alex finds it all exceedingly exciting, longing for the structured life she used to have.

How will she ever get back? And more importantly, does she want to?

Like Chaff in the Wind (The Graham Saga #2) by Anna Belfrage

Matthew Graham committed the mistake of his life when he cut off his brother's nose. In revenge, Luke Graham has Matthew abducted and transported to the colony of Virginia to be sold as indentured labour. Matthew arrives in Virginia in May 1661 and any hope he had of finding someone willing to listen to his story of unlawful abduction is quickly extinguished. If anything, Matthew's insistence that he is an innocent man leads him to being singled out for the heaviest tasks. Insufficient food, gruelling days and the humid heat combine to wear him down. With a sinking feeling, he realises no one has ever survived their seven years of service on the plantation Suffolk Rose. Fortunately for Matthew, he has a remarkable wife.

 Alex Graham has no intention of letting her husband suffer and die. So she sets off from Scotland on a perilous journey to bring her husband home. Alex is plagued by nightmares in which Matthew is reduced to a wheezing wreck by his tormentors. Sailing to Virginia, she prays for a miracle to carry her swiftly to his side. But fate has other plans, and what should have been a two month crossing turns into a year long adventure - from one side of the Atlantic to the other. Will Alex find Matthew in time? Will she be able to pay the price of setting him free? Like Chaff in the Wind continues on from The Rip in the Veil, taking Alex and Matthew's love story to a new continent.

So, yeah. That's a lot of books. I also picked up some other books: The Swan Kingdom, The Demon's Lexicon, The Demon's Covenant, The Space Between, The Dragon's Path and the first two Ministry of Peculiar Occurences novels. I just lack the energy to add them to this mammoth post. And now that I can see how book crazy I went, I'm scared about paying rent for February! I'm pretty excited about everyone of the books I got and I hope to review most as well.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Copyright © 2015 Ageless Pages Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

Amelia Theme by The Lovely Design CO and These Paper Hearts.