A Divided Inheritance
Written by Deborah Swift
UK Publication Date: October 23, 2013
Pan MacMillan Paperback; 480p
Elspet Leviston’s greatest ambition is to continue the success of her father Nathaniel’s lace business. But her dreams are thrown into turmoil with the arrival of her mysterious cousin Zachary Deane – who has his own designs on Leviston’s Lace.
Zachary is a dedicated swordsman with a secret past that seems to invite trouble. So Nathaniel sends him on a Grand Tour, away from the distractions of Jacobean London. Elspet believes herself to be free of her hot-headed relative but when Nathaniel dies her fortunes change dramatically. She is forced to leave her beloved home and go in search of Zachary – determined to claim back from him the inheritance that is rightfully hers.
Under the searing Spanish sun, Elspet and Zachary become locked in a battle of wills. But these are dangerous times and they are soon embroiled in the roar and sweep of something far more threatening, sending them both on an unexpected journey of discovery which finally unlocks the true meaning of family . . .
A Divided Inheritance is a breathtaking adventure set in London just after the Gunpowder Plot and in the bustling courtyards of Golden Age Seville.
I love historical fiction and A Divided Inheritance is one of the reasons why. It is so rich in detail, drama and vivid imagery. I felt like I was traveling through Europe. Deborah Swift ably explores family, loyalty and duty in 17th century England; at a time, where Catholicism was forbidden in one country and violently enforced in another.
Elspet is our heroine in this novel. She is strong; but innocence. She has been given a difficult situation and very valiantly finds her path. She has to continually deal with a man’s shortcoming; whether it be her father, Hugh, or Zachary. However, she is strong and prevails.
Zachary is on a journey of self-discovery. His life prior to meeting Elspet and her father is very sad and full of abuse and violence. When he finds kindness but how does he deal with it? Poorly. Watching Elspet and Zachary trying to salvage their life is very interesting and compelling.
Religious intolerance is another aspect to this book. The fear and anxiety prevails throughout. The Inquisition is completely incomprehensible. I will never understand it. As well, as the intolerance in England. Elspet’s friar’s cellar instilled so much imagery in my mind. I couldn’t imagine having to practice my faith is secret. Same with the Moriscos in Spain. So much fear is just so sad.
A Divided Inheritance is a wonderful book full a rich historical detail. It is journey that definitely needs to be followed.
About the Author
Deborah Swift used to work in the theatre and at the BBC as a set and costume designer, before studying for an MA in Creative Writing in 2007. She lives in a beautiful area of Lancashire near the Lake District National Park. She is the author of The Lady’s Slipper and is a member of the Historical Writers Association, the Historical Novel Society, and the Romantic Novelists Association.
Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Wednesday, October 23 Review at Unabridged Chick
Thursday, October 24 Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Friday, October 25 Review at Luxury Reading
Wednesday, October 30 Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, October 31 Review at The Most Happy Reader
Friday, November 1 Interview at Layered Pages
Monday, November 4 Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Tuesday, November 5 Guest Post at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Wednesday, November 6 Review at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, November 7 Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, November 8 Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Monday, November 11 Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Tuesday, November 12 Review at Reading the Past
Thursday, November 14 Review & Giveaway at The Eclectic Reader
Friday, November 15 Review at Book of Secrets
Monday, November 18 Review at HF Book Muse-News
Wednesday, November 20 Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Monday, November 25 Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, November 26 Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Blood Rites by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files #6)
Narrated by James Marsters
Released on April 6, 2010 by Penguin Audio
For Harry Dresden, there have been worse assignments than going undercover on the set of an adult film. Still, there’s something more troubling than usual about his newest case. The film’s producer believes he’s the target of a sinister curse-but it’s the women around him who are dying.
Harry’s even more frustrated because he only got involved with this bizarre mystery as a favor to Thomas-his flirtatious, self-absorbed vampire acquaintance of dubious integrity. Thomas has a personal stake in the case Harry can’t quite figure out. But Harry is about to discover that Thomas’ family tree has been hiding a shocking revelation that will change his life forever…
Blood Rites is another great book by Jim Butcher. With every book, Harry grows into his hero status plus an even more powerful wizard. His humanity shines through even stronger in this book. And of course, James Marsters’ narration is excellent!
The central them to Blood Rites is family. Harry has no family or so he thinks. I won’t give away any spoilers but his discovery throws him into complete disarray. He doesn’t know how to react; but in the end, he embraces his new relationships. It is really touching how Harry comes to terms with his new life.
Karin, also, has family issues. In her case, she has lots of family drama. Due to all their family drama, Karin and Harry become even closer friends. They, repeatedly, put their lives on the line for each other. I continue to wonder how their relationship with evolve. At certain points in the book, Harry does show some jealousy which was very amusing.
Thomas just broke my heart in Blood Rites. His relationship with Justine is just so bittersweet. At times, he seems so completely lost. I loved that, in the end, he is able to find someone he could trust and rely on.
I love Mouse. I’m a complete sucker for puppies. I think he is going to make one hellacious watchdog. I can’t wait until he grows up.
Blood Rites is a fun and action-packed book. I love the emotion and the humor that runs throughout it. I can’t wait to start Dead Beat; which I have already downloaded and I’m ready to press play.
Written by Trini Amador
Published on July 23, 2013 by Greenleaf Book Group Press
Received from HFVBT in exchange for an honest review
The gripping story of Gracianna–a French-Basque girl forced to make impossible decisions after being recruited into the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris.
Gracianna is inspired by true events in the life of Trini Amador’s great-grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. As an adult, Amador was haunted by the vivid memory of finding a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering his great-grandmother’s home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun.
Decades later, Amador would delve into the remarkable odyssey of his Gracianna’s past, a road that led him to an incredible surprise. In Gracianna, Amador weaves fact and fiction to tell his great-grandmother’s story.
Gracianna bravely sets off to Paris in the early 1940s–on her way to America, she hopes–but is soon swept into the escalation of the war and the Nazi occupation of Paris. After chilling life-and-death struggles, she discovers that her missing sister has surfaced as a laborer in Auschwitz. When she finds an opportunity to fight back against the Nazis to try to free her sister, she takes it–even if it means using lethal force.
As Amador tells the imagined story of how his great-grandmother risked it all, he delivers richly drawn characters and a heart-wrenching page-turner that readers won’t soon forget.
Gracianna is a powerful story of a young woman trying to survive during the occupation of Paris. What makes it even more powerful is that is it the story about the author’s great grandmother. I loved his depiction of her. She is so strong; but at the same time, so vulnerable.
This book, also, introduced to the Basque culture. They are a very strong and resilient people. Their strength helped them survive the horrors of the war; especially for Constance. She survived where so many people would not.
Gracianna’s character brought my hear. She has so much determination to save her sister; however, it cost her a great deal. She is forever scarred by her own actions. She had to make so many horrific decisions. Those decisions proves how awful war is. It completely changes you and not for the better.
Juan’s love and loyalty to Gracianna is incredibly powerful. He is her rock that keeps her grounded and sane. It is truly amazing how they are able to survive the war; physically and mentally.
Gracianna is an incredible story and makes you appreciate all the people who fought and survived the war in Europe. I highly recommend reading it.
Boxers & Saints
Written by Gene Luen Yang
Published on by First Second
Historical Fiction/Graphic Novel
Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
In two volumes, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. The first is of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. Against all odds, their grass-roots rebellion is successful.
But in the second volume, Yang lays out the opposite side of the conflict. A girl whose village has no place for her is taken in by Christian missionaries and finds, for the first time, a home with them. As the Boxer Rebellion gains momentum, Vibiana must decide whether to abandon her Christian friends or to commit herself fully to Christianity.
Boxers & Saints is an incredibly powerful piece of historical fiction told in the format of a graphic novel. The illustrations are potent and the story is heartbreaking. There are no winners; only losers. It is a story of revenge and intolerance. Gene Luen Yang has written an amazing novel that you will not forget.
The images in both books tell a very strong story. At times, it is very graphic where I suck in my breath as I see the next image. Yang depicted all the intolerance of the Boxer Rebellion from the Chinese and Christians alike. I found myself getting angry at both sides. I found no heroes; only villains and victims. War is horrific and Mr. Yang captured it with his words and illustrations. Just so very powerful!
As I read more graphic novels, I’m finding that they tell amazing stories and are a great medium for historical fiction. The use of vivid colors and graphic illustrations really bring a story to life. I enjoy looking at an author’s vision of a certain piece in history; in this case, The Boxer Rebellion. I knew very little about it. From this book, I really didn’t names, dates or place; instead I learned about love, hate, faith and loyalty. Those are true emotions of war and were depicted in a way that penetrates your mind and definitely leaves a permanent mark.
Boxers & Saints is a wonderful graphic novel that needs to be read and appreciated for a great work of historical fiction.
Cold Blooded (Jessica McClain #3)
Written by Amanda Carlson
Published on October 8, 2012 by Orbit Books
Received from the author in exchange for an honest review
Jessica arrives back in town to find her best friend missing and the most powerful witch in the country is blaming her for it. But before they can move to save her, the group is attacked. On the run, Jessica and Rourke head to the mountains. Several surprises await them, but in order to save her father they are forced to leave for New Orleans early. Arriving on the Vampire Queen’s doorstep unexpectedly, and bringing trouble on their heels, the Sects are thrown into an all-out war. The vicious skirmish ends up forcing the vamps and Jessica to fight on the same team. The Vamp Queen ends up owing Jessica, but what Jessica doesn’t realize is just how soon she’ll have to cash it in…
Amanda Carlson doesn’t disappoint with her third installment of the Jessica McClain series. Cold Blooded is fast-paced, full of action and very passionate. Jessica and Rourke finally get their alone time and it was well worth the wait. Jessica and Rourke are a serious force that should never be reckoned with.
The characters in Cold Blooded are developing and growing with each book. I’m really enjoying how Jessica is growing into her powers and who is siding with her. Jessica inspires loyalty and she returns that loyalty. I like that Ms. Carlson has created a female character that is strong and independent but at the same time extremely conflicted over her place in the supernatural world. She will do whatever it takes to protect her people.
Rourke is a major character in book 3 and that is a good thing. His bonding with Jessica really comes to the forefront. He is a great character who is incredibly powerful, in every sense of the word. I’m looking forward on how their relationship grows, and I’m sure, tested.
I really like how the supernatural world is in utter chaos; all because of Jessica. I love the dynamics between the Sects. There is so much jealousy, distrust and, flat out, drama. It makes for some really good reading.
The Jessica McClain series is an exciting piece of urban fantasy. Ms. Carlson keeps getting better with each installment. I can’t wait to read what happens next.
Summer Knight (Dresden Files #4)
Written by Jim Butcher
Narrated by Jim Marsters
Audible Release: June 6, 2009
By Buzzy Multimedia Publishing Corp
Purchased from Audible.com
Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is a very powerful wizard and a dedicated private eye. He is also a wise cracking trouble magnet. Fueled by a tempest of guilt, sleep deprivation, malnutrition, bad temper and frankly awful personal grooming. Harry is hurtling toward oblivion. According to Harry that is nobody’s business but his own. The Winter Queen of Faerie manipulates him into accepting a case to solve a murder and stop a war between the courts of Summer and Winter that could have literally earth shattering consequences. His own soul is up for grabs. Dresden must dig deep to discover that a time of willingness to accept a little help from your friends, by they a cub pack of werewolves, old loves in sheep’s clothing, or a battalion of pizza loving dewdrop fairies, is a very good thing.
Summer Knight is another great book in the Harry Dresden saga. Harry has hit rock bottom after the events in Grave Peril and he’s not sure if he can crawl out. His guilt is extremely heavy and is suffocating him. However, the Winter Queen comes along and gives him a case that will help him see the light again. I really like this story. I thought it really showed Harry’s humanity. There is no doubt that Harry is one of the good guys.
James Marsters does another great job narrating Summer Knight. I can’t imagine Harry having any other voice. Mr. Marsters’ voice has such subtle nuances that capture so many different emotions and characters. I just love listening to him!
In Summer Knight, we see a whole different set of supporting characters. I like that Jim Butcher doesn’t use the same characters over and over. This time Harry’s back-up are the werewolves who were introduced in Fool Moon. Billy is a fun character. He brings some levity to the story. I, also, liked the bonding moment between Harry and Murphy. Murphy reminded Harry who he really is…one of the good guys.
Once again, Summer Knight is a great read or, in this case, listen. Harry proves he is a hero. A reluctant hero, but a here all the same. He still has some baggage but he has support to get him through. Summer Knight ends on a good note; but I’m sure Death Masks will bring more trouble for Harry and I can’t wait to listen in.
Written by Ronald Frame
To be published on November 5, 2013 by Picador
Prelude to Great Expectations
Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Catherine Havisham was born into privilege. Spry, imperious, she is the daughter of a wealthy brewer, and lives in luxury in Satis House. But she is never far from the smell of hops and the arresting letters on the brewhouse wall – HAVISHAM. A reminder of all she owes to the family name, and the family business.
Sent by her father to stay with the Chadwycks, Catherine discovers literature, music, and masquerades – elegant pastimes to remove the taint of her family’s new money. But for all her growing sophistication Catherine is anything but worldly, and when a charismatic stranger pays her attention, everything – her heart, her future, the very Havisham name – is vulnerable.
Havisham is a very interesting story that is completely from the perspective of Great Expectations’ Miss Havisham. It is her journey from innocence to complete bitterness, vindictiveness, and insanity. I think after reading this you will feel some sympathy for Miss Havisham; if you don’t, you will have some understanding of her actions and choices.
It has been a very long time since I read Great Expectations; however, Havisham brought everything back to me. It is a complete story. We learn of Miss Havisham’s beginnings and how she was raised. We are, also, shown her rationalizations of forming Estella and Pip. Her bitterness controlled her every action where she couldn’t show any tenderness at all; even when she desperately wanted to. During her downward spiral she has very little comprehension of others. She doesn’t realize, until it is too late, that she is taking others down with her.
I found reading from Miss Havisham’s perspective very interesting. I enjoyed how her opinions and feelings for Estella and Pip evolved; however, she was still a very self-absorbed, embittered woman. Mr. Frame really did a great job in breaking down her character to give readers some answers. I felt I understood her more and why she acted the way she did. But, in the end, it is very hard to forgive her for the pain she caused in others.
Havisham is a very captivating prequel to Great Expectations that will leave you with a more thoughtful, and maybe, a more sympathetic opinion of Miss Havisham. You will see the why and how she became the bitter, nasty woman of Great Expectations.
The Loyalist’s Wife
Written by Elaine Cougler
Published on June 20, 2013 by CreateSpace
Received from HFVBT in exchange for an honest review.
When American colonists resort to war against Britain and her colonial attitudes, a young couple in the crossfire must find a way to survive. Pioneers in the wilds of New York State, John and Lucy face a bitter separation and the fear of losing everything, even their lives, when he joins Butler’s Rangers to fight for the King and leaves her to care for their isolated farm. As the war in the Americas ramps up, ruffians roam the colonies looking to snap up Loyalist land. Alone, pregnant and fearing John is dead, Lucy must fight with every weapon she has.
The Loyalist’s is a heartbreaking story about loyalty and the ravages of war. Ms. Cougler has written a compelling novel about the sweeping effects of war and human savagery. I had yet read anything from the Loyalist perspective and I found it captivating. So many people lost their property, homes and lives in the name of the King. The Colonists are not portrayed in a very positive light at all.
At the heart of this book is the survival of John and Lucy. They go through so much; each had to face their own nightmares and survive. Their struggle and strength show how different life was during the Revolutionary War. The War is definitely not romanticized in this novel. It is a realistic depiction of the devastation of war.
One of my favorite aspects of this book is Ms. Cougler’s portrayal of Native Americans. They are not all savages; but can be kind and loyal. So much more than the “white” ruffians who murder and steal. They were some very despicable characters in this book.
John and Lucy have to endure so much in order to save their life together. Their love and loyalty is a saving grace after all of the brutality and violence of war. Both changed, considerably, as the war continued. Both get stronger and are harden by their experiences. I loved Lucy’s strength. She is truly amazing character.
The Loyalist’s Wife is an amazing piece of historical fiction. It is not a romanticized portrayal of the Revolutionary War; but a realistic depiction that you will not forget.
About the Author
A native of Southern Ontario, Elaine taught high school and with her husband raised two children until she finally had time to pursue her writing career. She loves to research both family history and history in general for the stories of real people that emanate from the dusty pages. These days writing is Elaine’s pleasure and her obsession. Telling the stories of Loyalists caught in the American Revolutionary War is very natural as her personal roots are thoroughly enmeshed in that struggle, out of which arose both Canada and the United States.
Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Monday, October 7 Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, October 8 Review at West Metro Mommy
Wednesday, October 9 Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Friday, October 11 Review & Giveaway at Kinx’s Book Nook
Monday, October 14 Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Monday, October 21 Review & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Written by Elaine D. Walsh
Published on June 21, 2012 by Barks Out Loud
Received from the author in exchange for an honest review
In 1953, the world was ripe for destruction. The Korean War dragged on and the Rosenbergs were executed as spies. Senator Joseph McCarthy convinced the country communists were infiltrating the government, and the threat of nuclear war festered in the collective consciousness of the nation.
While American’s constructed backyard bomb shelters, the government conducted nuclear tests in the desert, three teenage girls planned their futures. Their innocent conversations about what each of them would do if the end of the world were imminent, coupled with a friend’s obsession, become the catalyst for a prank that spins wildly beyond control and draws in an entire town. Left behind in the wake of that summer’s events are their unrealized dreams and open wounds. In 1973, a reunion trip to the small town of their youth returns them to the summer of 1953 and the passion and betrayal that changed their lives.
Atomic Summer is a beautifully tragic coming-of-age story written by Elaine Walsh. Her words draw the reader into the world of 1953 where life should be simple and fun. In actuality, it is far from it. Ms. Walsh introduces us to Faith, Octavia and Bernadette, three teenagers trying to find their hopes and dreams in Port Pompeii, New York. The entire book is from the perspectives of Faith and Octavia; who have very different beliefs but remain loyal friends.
I found so much tragedy in the book; however, I, also, found hope, healing and forgiveness. Ms. Walsh’s characters were so easy to like and empathize. Well, except for Bernadette who has to be one of the most self-centered characters I have ever seen. I tried to feel sorry for her but I just couldn’t. All of my sympathy and hope went to Faith and Octavia who were such tragic and beautiful heroines. Both faced difficult life-changing decisions and experienced loss that may be too hard to survive.
The young men in this novel, also, face tragedy and life-altering choices. Stephen just breaks your heart. His character shows how awful war really is and how hard it is to face reality again. I thought Ms. Walsh did a wonderful job convening his pain. Allen is someone who I feel free less sympathy for. His secret pain was a very taboo subject for the 1950s. However, I felt he was a coward while his best friend, Wesley, was able to rise and accept his own identity.
Atomic Summer is, also, a good reflection of the paranoia of the 1950s. Communism, atomic bombs and bomb shelters showed how people thought and reacted. Every reaction tended to be an overreaction. Faith is a prime example of that overreaction. She was so sensitive and easily influenced during that summer. She learned some very hard lessons. The 1950s, to me, represented, on the surface, innocence and simplicity. However, as you begin to dig deeper into Port Pompeii you will see darkness and complexity; not just innocence, youth and belief.
The ending, in my opinion, brought hope and healing to the characters who needed it and wanted it. They were finally ready to face their life and not wallow in the past. Overall, Atomic Summer is a wonderful book that I highly recommend.
Written by Liz Moore
Published on September 4, 2012 by W.W. Norton & Company
Purchased from Amazon.com for book club
Former academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn’t left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty miles away, in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising baseball career—if he can untangle himself from his family drama. The link between this unlikely pair is Kel’s mother, Charlene, a former student of Arthur’s. After nearly two decades of silence, it is Charlene’s unexpected phone call to Arthur—a plea for help—that jostles them into action. Through Arthur and Kel’s own quirky and lovable voices, Heft tells the winning story of two improbable heroes whose sudden connection transforms both their lives. Like Elizabeth McCracken’s The Giant’s House, Heft is a novel about love and family found in the most unexpected places.
Heft is a very profound look into mental illness and the concept of family. At times, it is extremely depressing; but ends with a light of hope. The characters struggle with their pasts, present and future. I wasn’t sure when I started that anyone would find their path and I almost didn’t finish the book. However, I’m glad a I did. The path is not very bright but it’s there.
All the characters are facing serious issues in their lives whether it be isolation, depression or just plain coping in the world. Charlene is the most tragic of the characters. My heart breaks for her but at the same time disgusted by her actions. Kel is an amazing character. He is the reason why I kept reading Heft. For an 18-year-old, he is so incredibly strong. He is flawed but strong and resilient. He is an incredible person who agonizes over taking care of his mother. He has such an incredible burden but handles it so well.
Arthur is a character that I really didn’t like. However, I loved Yolanda. She brought him back to reality and made him try to face the world again. She’s spunky and loyal which I appreciated.
Overall, I found this book to be very depressing but with a little glimpse of light at the end. I don’t think I would have read it if it wasn’t a book club selection. However, I did finish it and I’m glad I did.