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Deborah Harkness: A Conversation

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I’m so honored to have the marvelous Deborah Harkness visiting my blog! The All Souls Trilogy has been absolute favorite of mine. THE BOOK OF LIFE has been released in paperback and I hope this gives you the opportunity to dive into her magical world. If you would like to read my reviews of each of her books, I have the links at the end of her conservation. If there is one trilogy you have to read this summer, the All Souls Trilogy has to be it. You will LOVE it!!

A Conversation with Deborah Harkness

Q: In your day job, you are a professor of history and science at the University of Southern California and have focused on alchemy in your research. What aspects of this intersection between science and magic do you hope readers will pick up while reading THE BOOK OF LIFE?

A: There is. Welcome back to the present! What I hope readers come to appreciate is that science – past or present – is nothing more than a method for asking and answering questions about the world and our place in it. Once, some of those questions were answered alchemically. Today, they might be answered biochemically and genetically. In the future? Who knows. But Matthew is right in suggesting that there are really remarkably  few scientific questions and we have been posing them for a very long time. Two of them are: who am I? why am I here?

Q: Much of the conflict in the book seems to mirror issues of race and sexuality in our society, and there seems to be a definite  moral conclusion to THE BOOK OF LIFE. Could you discuss this? Do you find that a strength of fantasy  novels is their ability to not only to allow readers to escape, but to also challenge them to face important moral issues?

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 A: Human beings like to sort and categorize. We have done this since the beginnings of recorded history, and probably well back beyond that point. One of the most common ways to do that is to group things that are “alike” and things that are “different.” Often, we fear what is not like us. Many of the world’s  ills have stemmed from someone (or a group of someones) deciding what is different is also dangerous. Witches, women, people of color, people of different faiths, people of different sexual orientations – all have been targets of this process of singling others out and labeling them different and therefore undesirable. Like my interest in exploring what a family is, the issue of difference and respect for difference (rather than fear) informed every page of the All Souls Trilogy. And yes, I do think that dealing with fantastic creatures like daemons, vampires and witches rather than confronting issues of race and sexuality directly can enable readers to think through these issues in a useful way and perhaps come to different conclusions about member of their own families and communities. As I often say when people ask me why supernatural creatures are so popular these days: witches and vampires are monsters to think with.

Q: From the moment Matthew and a pregnant Diana arrive back at Sept Tours and reinstate themselves back into the sprawling family of witches and vampires, it becomes clear that the meaning of family will be an important idea for THE BOOK OF LIFE. How does this unify the whole series? Do you draw on your own life?

A: Since time immemorial the family has been an important way for people to organize themselves in the world. In the past, the “traditional” family was a sprawling and blended unit that embraced immediate relatives, in-laws and their immediate families, servants, orphaned children, the children your partner might bring into a family from a previous relationship, and other dependents. Marriage was an equally flexible and elastic concept in many places and times. Given how old my vampires are, and the fact that witches are the keepers of tradition, I wanted to explore from the very first page of the series the truly traditional basis of family: unqualified love and mutual responsibility. That is certainly the meaning of family that my parents aught me.

Q: While there are entire genres devoted to stories of witches, vampires, and ghosts, the idea of a weaver – a witch who eaves original spells – feels very unique to THE BOOK OF LIFE. What resources helped you gain inspiration for Diana’s uniqueness?

A: Believe it or not, my inspiration for weaving came from a branch of mathematics called topology. I became intrigued by mathematical theories of mutability to go along with my alchemical theories of mutability and change. Topology is a mathematical study of shapes and spaces that theorizes how far something can be stretched or twisted without breaking. You could says it’s a mathematical theory of connectivity and continuity (two familiar themes to any reader of the All Souls Trilogy). I wondered if I could come up with a theory of magic that could be comfortably contained within mathematics, one in which magic could be seen to shape and twist reality without breaking it. I used fabric as a metaphor for this worldview with threads and colors shaping human perceptions. Weavers became the witches who were talented at seeing and manipulating  the underlying fabric. In topology, mathematicians study knots – unbreakable knots with their ends fused together that can twisted and shaped. Soon the mathematics and mechanics of Diana’s magic came into focus.

Q: A Discovery of Witches debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list and Shadow of Night debuted at #1. What has been your reaction to the outpouring of love for the All Souls Trilogy? Was it surprising how taken fans were with Diana and Matthew’s story?

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A: It has been amazing – and a bit overwhelming. I was surprised by how quickly readers embraced two central characters who have a considerable number of quirks and challenge our typical notion of what a heroine or hero should be. I continue to be amazed whenever a new reader pops up, whether one in the US or somewhere like Finland or Japan – to tell me how much they enjoyed being caught up in the world of the Bishops and de Clemonts. Sometimes when I meet readers they ask how their friends are doing – meaning Diana, or Matthew, or Miriam. That’s an extraordinary for a writer.

Q: Diana and Matthew, once again, move around to quite a number of locations in THE BOOK OF LIFE, including New Haven, New Orleans, and a few of our favorite old haunts like Oxford, Madison, and Sept-Tours. What inspired you to place your characters in these locations? Have you visited them yourself? 

A: As a writer, I really need to experience the places I write about in my books. I want to know what it smells like, how the air feels when it changes direction, the way the sunlight strikes the windowsill in the morning, the sound of birds and insects. Not every writer may require this, but I do. So I spent time not only in New Haven but undertaking research at the Beinecke Library so that I could understand the rhythms of Diana’s day there. I visited New Orleans several times to imagine my vampires into them. All of the locations I pick are steeped in history and stories about past inhabitants—perfect fuel for any writer’s creative fire.

Q: Did you know back when you wrote A Discovery of Witches how the story would conclude in THE BOOK OF LIFE? Did the direction change once you began the writing process?

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A: I knew how the trilogy would end, but I didn’t know exactly how we would get there. The story was well thought out through the beginning of what became The Book of Life, but the chunk between that beginning and the ending (which is as I envisioned it) did change. In part that was because what I had sketched out was too ambitious and complicated—the perils of being not only a first-time trilogy writer but also a first time author. It was very important to me that I resolve and tie up all the threads already in the story so readers had a satisfying conclusion. Early in the writing of The Book of Life it became clear that this wasn’t going to give me much time to introduce new characters or plot twists. I now understand why so many trilogies have four, five, six—or more—books in them. Finishing the trilogy as a trilogy required a lot of determination and a very thick pair of blinders as I left behind characters and story lines that would take me too far from the central story of Diana, Matthew, and the Book of Life.

Q: A Discovery of Witches begins with Diana Bishop stumbling across a lost, enchanted manuscript called Ashmole 782 in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, and the secrets contained in the manuscript are at long last revealed in THE BOOK OF LIFE. You had a similar experience while you were completing your dissertation.  What was the story behind your discovery?  And how did it inspire the creation of these novels?

A: I did discover a manuscript—not an enchanted one, alas—in the Bodleian Library. It was a manuscript owned by Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer, the mathematician and alchemist John Dee. In the 1570s and 1580s he became interested in using a crystal ball to talk to angels. The angels gave him all kinds of instructions on how to manage his life at home, his work—they even told him to pack up his family and belongings and go to far-away Poland and Prague. In the conversations, Dee asked the angels about a mysterious book in his library called “the Book of Soyga” or “Aldaraia.” No one had ever been able to find it, even though many of Dee’s other books survive in libraries throughout the world. In the summer of 1994 I was spending time in Oxford between finishing my doctorate and starting my first job. It was a wonderfully creative time, since I had no deadlines to worry about and my dissertation on Dee’s angel conversations was complete. As with most discoveries, this discovery of a “lost” manuscript was entirely accidental. I was looking for something else in the Bodleian’s catalogue and in the upper corner of the page was a reference to a book called “Aldaraia.” I knew it couldn’t be Dee’s book, but I called it up anyway. And it turned out it WAS the book (or at least a copy of it). With the help of the Bodleian’s Keeper of Rare Books, I located another copy in the British Library.

Q: Are there other lost books like this in the world?

A Absolutely! Entire books have been written about famous lost volumes—including works by Plato, Aristotle, and Shakespeare to name just a few. Libraries are full of such treasures, some of them unrecognized and others simply misfiled or mislabeled. And we find lost books outside of libraries, too. In January 2006, a completely unknown manuscript belonging to one of the 17th century’s most prominent scientists, Robert Hooke, was discovered when someone was having the contents of their house valued for auction. The manuscript included minutes of early Royal Society meetings that we presumed were lost forever.

Q: Shadow of Night and A Discovery of Witches have often been compared to young adult fantasy like Twilight, with the caveat that this series is for adults interested in history, science, and academics. Unlike Bella and Edward, Matthew and Diana are card-carrying members of academia who meet in the library of one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Are these characters based on something you found missing in the fantasy genre?

A There are a lot of adults reading young adult books, and for good reason. Authors who specialize in the young adult market are writing original, compelling stories that can make even the most cynical grownups believe in magic. In writing A Discovery of Witches, I wanted to give adult readers a world no less magical, no less surprising and delightful, but one that included grown-up concerns and activities. These are not your children’s vampires and witches.

My Reviews of the All Souls Trilogy:

A Discovery of Witches

Shadow of Night

Book of Life

For additional information or to schedule an interview with

Deborah Harkness, contact:

Lindsay Prevette / 212.366.2224 / lprevette@penguinrandomhouse.com

Shannon Twomey / 212.366.2227 / stwomey@penguinrandomhouse.com

Emma Mohney / 212.366.2274 / emohney@penguinrandomhouse.com

Continue reading

My Favorite Scene: Chamber of Secrets

Currently, I’m rereading the Harry Potter series and instead of writing a review (because we all know amazing the books are) I’m writing about my favorite scene and why. Last week, I picked my favorite scene from Sorcerer’s Stone. Now its time for Chamber of Secrets!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

15881Synopsis: The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone–or something–starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects…Harry Potter himself.

My Favorite Scene:

My favorite scene is when Harry goes to The Burrow for the first time. He finally gets a true sense of family and I love the camaraderie and love between the Weasley family members.  I love that Mr. Weasley was so excited to hear how the car flew and when he had to look outraged when Mrs. Weasley gave him a nasty look. The Weasley is the best example of a loving and supportive family.

Also, you feel Harry’s strong desire for his own family and maybe possible that the Weasleys can fit that bill. At times, throughout the series, Ron has been jealous of Harry; however, it is Harry that is jealous of Ron. His family, his home… that is something Harry never had.

If you’re curious, here’s the scenes from Chamber of Secrets.

“Harry?”  said Mr. Weasley blankly. “Harry who?”

He looked around, saw Harry, and jumped.

“Good lord, is it Harry Potter? Very pleased to meet you, Ron’s told us much about – ”

Your sons flew that car to Harry’s house and back last night!” shouted Mrs. Weasley. “What have you got to say about that, ed?”

“Did you really?” said Mr. Weasley eagerly. “Did it go all right?” I – I mean,” he falterd as sparks flew from Mrs. Weasley’s eyes, “that – that was very wrong, boys – very wrong indeed…”

Then he turned to look at Ron, who was watching him almost nervously, as though waiting for his opinion.

“It’s a bit small,” said Ron quickly. “Not like that room you had with the Muggles. And I’m right underneath the ghoul in the attic; he’s always banging on the pipes and groaning…”

But Harry, grinning widely, said “This is the best house I’ve ever been in.”

Ron’s ears went pink.

What is your favorite scene from Chamber of Secrets?

 

Harry Potter!

My name is Kendal. I’m 45 years old. And I love Harry Potter!

I have decided to re-read the Harry Potter series for the umpteenth time. Instead of writing reviews, I going to write about my favorite of each book. I will write about the what and the why it’s my favorite scene.

My kids are finally old enough to read Harry Potter; however, they feel they need to rebel against their mother and said, NOPE! I even bribed them $50 to read Sorcerer’s Stone. Still… NOPE. Recently, Amazon had a sale where I got the entire paperback set for just $25. My youngest daughter uses the set as room decoration. At least that’s a step. Right?!

My next thought was… how about I re-read the entire series where they can see me react to every and LOVE every word of Harry Potter. I hope that I can tempt them to take the dive into the most amazing world of Harry Potter!

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Synopsis (like we don’t already know): Orphan Harry Potter is miserable in an under-stairs closet. Dursleys – his witch mother’s sister, husband, Dudley – held no birthday party for Harry in 11 years. Owls fly notices to attend Hogwarts School. Wizard Harry flies on broom, hides under Cloak of Invisibility, sneaks past 3-headed dog with friends Hermione and Ron. A great destiny awaits if Harry can survive.

My Favorite Scene:

My favorite party is NOT the Mirror of Erised. Actually, it is when Hagrid gives Harry is first birthday present ever…Hedwig. I can just envision the face of pure joy. For your 11th birthday (and first every birthday present), you receive a beautiful snow white owl. So completely AWESOME! But Hedwig becomes so much more.

Hedwig is Harry’s constant connection to the magical world. She is so loyal. She, also, represents Harry’s freedom from the Dursleys. She is a magnificent creature and she helped Harry through so many times of complete loneliness and abandonment.

For Hagrid to give him such a precious gift, is a complete turning point in Harry’s life. It represents the beginning of his life as a wizard and one of his truest and most loyal of companions.

I love Hedwig and to me she was his anchor in the wizarding world.

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WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SCENE FROM SORCERER’s STONE? 

Book Excerpt: Sudetenland

Please join George T. Chronis as he tours the blogosphere with HF Virtual Book Tours for Sudetenland, from March 16-27.

02_Sudetenland_CoverPublication Date: September 30, 2014
BookBaby
Formats: eBook
ASIN: B00O2T6B9Y

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Sudetenland is the premiere novel by author George T. Chronis. The book delivers suspenseful and sweeping historical fiction set against Central European intrigue during the late 1930s leading up to 1938’s Munich Conference. Having swallowed up Austria, Adolph Hitler now covets Czechoslovakian territory. Only France has the power to stand beside the government in Prague against Germany… but will she? The characters are the smart and sometimes wise-cracking men and women of this era – the foreign correspondents, intelligence officers, diplomats and career military – who are on the front lines of that decade’s most dangerous political crisis. If Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš ignores the advice of French premier Édouard Daladier and refuses to give up Bohemian territory willingly, then Hitler orders that it be taken by force. The novel takes readers behind the scenes into the deliberations and high drama taking place within major hurtles toward the crucible of a shooting war.

Book Excerpt:

Général Gamelin appeared satisfied with the progress marked on the main campaign board illustrating the disposition of French units committed to Offensive Sarre. At least that was the conclusion of the général’s adjutants who were reliably quick to sense the slightest sign of irritation in the normally unruffled demeanor of their chief of staff. What he had wanted, Gamelin had achieved: a springboard into Germany should he choose to press the attack. Of course, Gamelin had yet to make that decision but this was something he by rights kept to himself. Colonel Petibon, the général’s chef de cabinet, knew Gamelin’s mind yet was just as secretive. For now, Gamelin was content to finish bringing up his reserves while allowing advance units to probe the German lines for weakness. Outside of Petibon, Gamelin’s intentions were something of an enigma to the général’s staff. Out of earshot there was a lively debate whether the chief of staff would turn out like McClellan in Virginia; raising a great army he was unwilling to commit to battle; or Marshal Davout, who’s wise prudence never impeded his boldness of action.
“Fine, fine… everything is as it should be,” Gamelin moved away from the board. “Now what of the British? Any word?”
“No developments,” Commandant Huet supplied like a shipping clerk checking off items ordered yet not delivered. As one of Gamelin’s primary adjutants, Huet had a full list of topics to stay current on. The British were at the top of the list.
“High time for Chamberlain to get off the pot. What more does he need? The Czechs are mounting a spirited defence against all expectations. Hitler has already been denied the easy victory he coveted. Now is the moment for us to settle the matter,” Gamelin allowed his growing impatience to show.
“A shame the prime minister appears set on denying himself a role in the final outcome,” Petibon coveted the sole disposition of spoils that might lie ahead.
Much of Gamelin’s strategic goals had hinged on what the British did or did not do. Three weeks prior the général had sincerely believed that his freedom to choose an aggressive offensive against the Germans required, at the very least, commitment of Royal Air Force squadrons to the battle. Gamelin accepted that London was hard-pressed to raise an expeditionary corps of any consequence. Yet France’s glaring need was for far more aircraft than she could raise herself. On the ground, Gamelin was in a far better position to move forward without British ground troops. The French chief of staff’s analysis had long been that without the promise of fresh reserves from the United Kingdom, the depth of any French penetration into Germany should be limited. Push too deep into the middle of Germany and he risked the Wehrmacht sweeping through Belgium to outflank the French lines, which is why Gamelin had always sought British support opposite the Low Countries. But that was before the Czechoslovak’s amazing battlefield success in their border mountains. The bulk of Hitler’s available divisions were tied down and suffering significant rates of attrition. Those regiments would be difficult to extricate from action to shift west. That gave Gamelin more aggressive options, and he was flirting with availing himself upon them.
A runner from the headquarters wireless section hurried into the room and approached Huet. The adjutant took receipt of the message and dismissed the clerk. An eyebrow raised as Huet read the details.
“What is it?” Petibon, who was aware of everything that went on around the général, inquired at once.
“Editors from the major newspapers are calling, sir. Their correspondents are reporting by telephone from the Sarre that units of the 3éme Brigade de Chars have accepted the surrender of Saarbrücken. They seek confirmation on this great victory,” Huet felt like whistling but did not dare.
“Which regiments of the 3éme Brigade?” Petibon sharply cross-examined the messenger.
“Such details were not provided,” Huet answered truthfully, although there was little doubt about who was leading this attack.
“Damn that man! Those were not his orders,” Gamelin pounded a fist onto the table.
“Of course, if true, it could be argued that Delestraint’s regiments never operated beyond their artillery cover,” Petibon thought to soften Gamelin’s ire. “Which means they have not violated the principles of the Methodical Battle.”
“Do not attempt to sugarcoat the matter. We both know this is de Gaulle’s handiwork. That rogue is attempting to force my hand – a great victory indeed,” Gamelin would not put it past de Gaulle to have delivered engraved invitations to the correspondents corps.”
“Général, how would you advise we respond to these inquiries?” Huet returned to the topic at hand. “If we say nothing the editors will print whatever they wish.”
“Quite correct,” contemplating a plan of action permitted Gamelin an avenue to calm himself. “Until we get confirmation from General Georges’ command, issue a communiqué: The campaign in the Sarre is continuing as planned.”

Praise for Sudetenland

“Chronis impresses with such a challenging and intriguing debut effort, well written, impeccably researched.” — Melinda, Unshelfish

“Anyone that is looking for a thorough and rewarding read will enjoy Sudetenland.” — Diana, BookNerd

“The plot moves quickly along keeping you intrigued with well defined characters and great imagery to help immerse yourself in the story… I adored the way George managed to weave together the tragedy of war, depression and politics with romance, love and hope.” — Jennifer, pirategrl1014

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Kobo

About the Author03_George T. Chronis

After years as a journalist and magazine editor, George T. Chronis decided to return to his lifelong passion, storytelling. A lover of both 1930s cinema and world history, Chronis is now devoted to bringing life to the mid-20th Century fictional narratives that have been in his thoughts for years. Sudetenland© is his first novel. Taking place during turbulent times in Central Europe during the 1930s, the book took eight years to research and write. The author is already hard at work on his second novel.

Chronis is married with two daughters, and lives with his wife in a Southern California mountain community.

For more information please visit the Sudetenland website or George T. Chronis’s website, or follow him on Tumblr. Subscribe to George T. Chronis’s newsletter.

Sudetenland Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 16
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, March 17
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, March 24
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, March 26
Review at A Virtual Hobby Store and Coffee Haus

Friday, March 27
Review at Genre Queen

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It’s Monday! What are you reading?

ItsMonday

Welcome to It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?! This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well…you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! Hosted by Book Journey.

I’M BACK!!! Since about last October I have put aside my blog to focus on other things; one of which is a new job that I love. Now that I’m settling into my new job, I’m going to try to do some blogging again. So here goes:

Last Week:

The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau
The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau (review coming soon)

This Week:

Son of the MornngSon of the Morning by Linda Howard

A scholar specializing in ancient manuscripts, Grace St. John never imagined that a cache of old documents she discovered was the missing link to a lost Celtic treasure. But as soon as she deciphers the legend of the Knights of the Templar — long fabled to hold the key to unlimited power — Grace becomes the target of a ruthless killer bent on abusing the coveted force. Determined to stop him, Grace needs the help of a warrior bound by duty to uphold the Templar’s secret for all eternity. But to find him — and to save herself — she must go back in time . . . to fourteenth-century Scotland . . . and to Black Niall, a fierce man of dark fury and raw, unbridled desire. . . .

Maus I: A Survivor’s TaleMaus

A story of a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe and his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father’s story and history itself.

Audiobook of the Week:

16054217Book of Life by Deborah Harkness (All Souls Trilogy #3)

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches–with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

 What are you reading this week?

Leave a comment and let me know

Review: The Crown

The Crown (Joanna Stafford #1)
Written by Nancy Bilyeau
Published on January 10, 2012 by Touchstone
409 pages
Historical Fiction
Purchased from Amazon

Synopsis:

The CrownJoanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with the king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London.

While Joanna is in the Tower, the ruthless Bishop of Winchester forces her to spy for him: to save her father’s life she must find an ancient relic—a crown so powerful, it may possess the ability to end the Reformation.

With Cromwell’s troops threatening to shutter her priory, bright and bold Joanna must decide who she can trust so that she may save herself, her family, and her sacred way of life. This provocative story set in Tudor England melds heart-stopping suspense with historical detail and brings to life the poignant dramas of women and men at a fascinating and critical moment in England’s past.

The Crown is a wonderful depiction of Tudor England. Henry VIII has broken away from Rome in order to produce an heir. By doing, he has selfishly destroyed so many lives that depended on the Catholic church for survival. Joanna Stafford is one such person. She only wanted to live a peaceful life as a bride of Christ. But that life was cruelly taken from her. Nancy Bilyeau has a written a tale that takes the reader through Joanna’s turbulent life. It is a tale that depicts a woman’s life that has so few choices and very little power.

Joanna is a remarkable heroine for this story. She is highly educated which was very rare for that time. She is intelligent, strong-willed and a true believer of the Faith. Her Faith is what carries her through each brutal event in her life. Ms. Bilyeau brings her to life with such intensity and richness. Joanna is not weak and she will fight for beliefs and the people she loves.

Ms. Bilyeau has also vividly brought to life the bloody times of Tudor England. By destroying the Catholic Church in England, he basically started a civil war. Conspiracies ran everywhere. Henry VIII executed thousands to protect his new church reign. His paranoia and selfishness runs rampant. I find it so amazing how ugly and brutal religious war can be. So much torture, blood and betrayal in the name of God. It’s too bad we can’t learn from the past. There are never any winners in a religious war. Furthermore, the political intrigue is dizzying. Cardinal Gardner plays both sides to increase his power. Joanna is caught in his vicious web.

The Crown is a piece of historical fiction that needs to be savored. This is a wonderful being to a series that will be full of intrigue and suspense. I look forward to see how Joanna Stafford is able to find her place in this new world of hers.

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Hiatus

Kinx’s Book Nook is currently on hiatus. I’ve started a new job and once I settle in I hope to return to my book reviews.

Thanks!

Kendal

Review: The Ripper’s Wife

Please join Brandy Purdy and HF Virtual Book Tours for The Ripper’s Wife Blog Tour from October 27-November 14.

The Ripper's Wife

 

Publication Date: October 27, 2014 | Kensington Books | Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
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A suspenseful, spellbinding novel of love, jealousy, and murder, The Ripper’s Wife re-imagines the most notorious serial killer in history through the eyes of the woman who sealed his fate.

“Love makes sane men mad and can turn a gentle man into a fiend.”

It begins as a fairytale romance–a shipboard meeting in 1880 between vivacious Southern belle Florence Chandler and handsome English cotton broker James Maybrick. Courtship and a lavish wedding soon follow, and the couple settles into an affluent Liverpool suburb.

From the first, their marriage is doomed by lies. Florie, hardly the heiress her scheming mother portrayed, is treated as an outsider by fashionable English society. James’s secrets are infinitely darker–he has a mistress, an arsenic addiction, and a vicious temper. But Florie has no inkling of her husband’s depravity until she discovers his diary–and in it, a litany of bloody deeds…

My Review:

The Ripper’s Wife is a compelling look into how a repressive society can completely turn people into fiends and psychopaths. On it’s face, Victorian society is all manners and civility. However, behind closed doors you have addiction, affairs, violence and abuse. It is hypocrisy at its best.

I found all the characters in this book to be completely insane; but at different levels. Florie lives in her own little girl world; she wants to grow up but no one will let her. In my opinion she really doesn’t want to face reality. However, she is forced to when she has to face what her husband has become. At times, I found it hard to reconcile the young Florie with the woman who narrated the story. They seem to be two completely different people. But leading a life full of death and regret can do that.

James Maybrick makes for a very believable Jack the Ripper. Furthermore, his entire family are completely depraved and insane. Edwin is such plain creepy without any moral sensibility. James complete break from reality is pure hypocrisy. He can philander all he wants but God forbid that his wife does the same. However, he must maintain the illusion of his sweet and innocent wife. In the end, he created a woman that could take his own fate into her hands.

The Ripper’s Wife is a riveting tale of the dark side of Victorian life. It is dark, depraved and completely insane. Getting a glimpse into Jack the Ripper’s mind is not a pretty experience; but it makes for a wonderful story.

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Praise for the Novels of Brandy Purdy

“Recommended for readers who can’t get enough of the Tudors and have devoured all of Philippa Gregory’s books.” —Library Journal on The Boleyn Wife

“Purdy wonderfully reimagines the behind-the-scenes lives of the two sisters.” —Historical Novel Reviews on The Tudor Throne

“I love Brandy Purdy’s books, she does thorough research into the lives of the people in the Tudor era and it shows in her writing style. Very descriptive, engaging characters makes The Queen’s Rivals a page turning novel. If you are a fan of the Tudor era like I am, then this book is a must.” -CelticLady’s Reviews on The Queen’s Rivals

“The writing is inviting, intense and flawless, rich with the flavor of English country life as well as court life. The political machinations, the tragedy to befall the Dudley family and the mystery surrounding Amy’s death were weaved to captivating detail and the end result is a mesmerizing work of historical fiction that puts Brandy Purdy on my “must read” list.” -Psychotic State Book Reviews on The Queen’s Pleasures

Buy the Book

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

About the Author

Brandy Purdy is the author of several historical novels. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading or watching classic movies. She currently lives in Beaumont, TX. Visit her website at http://www.brandypurdy.com for more information about her books. You can also follow her via her blog at http://brandypurdy.blogspot.com/ where she posts updates about her work and reviews of what she has been reading.

The Ripper’s Wife Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 27

Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, October 28

Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession

Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, October 29

Review at Kinx’s Book Nook

Review at The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 30

Review at Book of Secrets

Friday, October 31

Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Feature at Passages to the Past

Monday, November 3

Review at A Chick Who Reads

Interview & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, November 4

Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book reviews

Interview at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, November 5

Review at JulzReads

Thursday, November 6

Review at History & Women

Friday, November 7

Review at A Book Geek

Monday, November 10

Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, November 11

Review & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry

Wednesday, November 12

Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Thursday, November 13

Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Friday, November 14

Review at Girl Lost in a Book

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It’s Monday! What are you reading?!

ItsMonday

 

Welcome to It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?! This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well…you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! Hosted by Book Journey.

Last Week:

The Vintner’s Daughter by Kristen Harnisch

The Stuart Vampire by Andrea Zuvich

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (Audiobook)

 

This Week:

22605835City of Ladies by Sarah Kennedy

It’s midwinter in 1539, and former nun, Catherine Havens Overton, has just given birth to her second child, a daughter. The convent in which she was raised is now part of her husband’s lands, lands that once belonged to Catherine’s family. With a son, Robert, and her new daughter, Veronica, her life as the mistress of a great household should be complete.

But Henry VIII’s England has not been kind to many of the evicted members of religious houses. And in order to protect her old companions from the hostilities, Catherine has gathered about her a group of former nuns in hopes of providing them a chance to serve in the village of Havenston, her City of Ladies.

Catherine’s past haunts her. Her husband begins to suspect that Robert is not his child. Then the women of Overton House begin to disappear and one of them is found brutally murdered nearby. Seizing the moment, under the pretense of ensuring her safety, William forces Catherine to enter service at Hatfield House where the young Elizabeth Tudor lives.

Reluctantly, Catherine obeys, only to find herself serving not only the Protestant Elizabeth but also the shamed Catholic Mary Tudor. As the murders in Yorkshire continue to mount and her loyalty to the Tudor sisters grows more complicated, Catherine must uncover the secret of the killer and save her City of Ladies.

 

Audiobook of the Week

Ash You Wish Inconceivable Tales From the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes21412202

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years!

With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

 

What are you reading this week?

Review: The Stuart Vampire

Please join Andrea Zuvich as she tours with HF Virtual Book Tours for The Stuart Vampire, from October 13-24.

02_The Stuart Vampire

Publication Date: October 31, 2013

Self-Published

eBook; 215p

Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror/Paranormal

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Henry Stuart, Duke of Gloucester, the youngest brother of King Charles II is a handsome man with sound principles. When the twenty-year-old prince contracts smallpox in 1660, however, his life takes a decidedly sinister turn. Obsessed with Henry from afar, Contessa Griselda di Cuorenero – one of the Devil’s concubines – turns him into a vampire and plunges him into the world of night. But Henry soon discovers that not all horrors are of the paranormal kind…

In the unnaturally close village of Coffin’s Bishop, Henry encounters a severely abused young woman – a woman who has suffered under humans who are more monstrous than vampires. Could love save them from the evil they have known? And at what cost?

Henry must choose between his humanity and his monstrous, insatiable desire for human blood.

From the author of “His Last Mistress,” The Stuart Vampire is a dark gothic tale in the vein of The Monk.

My Review of the Stuart Vampire:

The Stuart Vampire is a nice blending of historical fiction and supernatural fiction. It is, also, a really good start to new series of books that I really look forward to reading. It is dark and full of vampire lore. However, the author, Andrea Zuvich, has put a unique twist to the traditional vampire story.

In Ms. Zuvich’s vampire world, vampires are initially begotten by the Devil himself. But the Heavens don’t give up and reclaim many who have been unjustly begotten. I really enjoyed the conflict between the two sides. It is a true good versus evil story. This sets up a really interesting battle that will evolve in future books.

Henry and Susanna are a wonderful hero and heroine. They represent all that is good; but human flaws as well. Henry was turned against his will and must try to overcome what he has become. Susanna reminds him is humanity and what he must do to reclaim his soul. Susanna is an incredibly strong character who has faced and survived some serious horrific acts. But her love for Henry keeps her alive and strong.

The true villain of this story is Griselda. She is a nasty piece of work. She is psychotic and perfect for this book. She’s obsessive and truly insane. She will do anything to keep Henry to herself.

If you like supernatural fiction, then this book is a must read. It is dark, brooding and romantic. It will keep you engaged until the very last page; which I might add is quite the cliffhanger. I can’t wait to get the second installment. Thank you Ms. Zuvich for giving us a new vampire series that we can really sink our teeth into.

KinxsBookNookScore4

Praise for The Stuart Vampire

“An intriguing historical with a darkly gothic twist, I enjoyed The Stuart Vampire and would recommend it to anyone with a taste for period horror.” – Erin Davies, Flashlight Commentary

Buy the Book

Amazon US

Amazon UK

About the Author03_Andrea Zuvich

Andrea (aka The Seventeenth Century Lady) is a 17th-century historian, historical consultant, and historical fiction authoress. His Last Mistress – a biographical fiction novella about the Duke of Monmouth and Lady Henrietta Wentworth was published by Endeavour Press, London in 2013. She received double BA degrees in History and Anthropology from the University of Central Florida, and continued her History studies with the University of Oxford and Princeton University. Zuvich has been filmed for NTR television in The Netherlands, talking about William III, and was recently on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour discussing Queen Anne. She was one of the original developers and leaders on The Garden History Tours at Kensington Palace, London. Zuvich lives in Windsor, England.

For more information please visit Andrea’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

The Stuart Vampire Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 13

Review at A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, October 14

The Stuart Vampire Launch Party @ 12:00pm-2:00pm EST

Wednesday, October 15

Review at Kinx’s Book Nook

Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Thursday, October 16

Review & Guest Post at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Friday, October 17

Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Monday, October 20

Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Tuesday, October 21

Review at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, October 22

Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Friday, October 24

Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

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Kendal's bookshelf: currently-reading


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Kendal's to-read book montage

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment
Where Are the Dinos?
Lydia Bennet's Story: A Sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
Cold Blooded
Bristol House
My Notorious Life: A Novel
Moms Who Drink and Swear: True Tales of Loving My Kids While Losing My Mind
Long Live the King
To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Bad News for a Ghost
The Next Pendragon
Caroline Bingley
My Beloved World
Royal Mistress
My Dear Sophy
The Wild Girl
To Marry an English Lord: Or How Anglomania Really Got Started
Hades: Lord of the Dead
The Man Who Loved Jane Austen


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