Category Archives: BOOK REVIEW

Book Review – STEALING THE HOLY GRAIL by S. M. Perlow

Stealing the Holy Grail by S. M. Perlow, a book I requested from Netgalley, was a heart-pounding gallop through another rendition of the King Arthur stories. I am a sucker for a great Camelot story, and this one did not disappoint.
This one takes on the story of Perceval and his quest for the Grail, as he tries to prove worthy not only to become a knight of the Grail but to achieve the love of the Grail Princess, Cera. When, at last, his quest is complete and her love is won, both entertain thoughts of the Grail’s true purpose in the world. Cera and Perceval, knowing and understanding the Grail’s meaning, that of life itself, swear to bring this gift to the world instead of hiding it away in a box meant only for worthy knights on a grail quest. But as in all the Camelot stories, danger lurks and evil fights against the good. This time, in the personage of Merlin and a hell-raising fighter named Roan, both of whom lend their souls to the Devil’s bidding.
I loved the accents of historical fiction woven into the storyline, as well as the fantastical and lyrical threads of the myths. Nimue, as the Lady of the Lake, and Cera, as the ultimate protector of the Grail, portray incredibly strong women with a will of their own and minds fixed on their purpose.
This is a book I won’t forget for a long time. The writing was flawless, beautiful, raw, heart-wrenching, viseral, and inspiring. I was so thankful to see on the last page instead of reading “The End”, finding the words “Book One”; which means I will anxiously await the next in the series. These books will go on my shelf, right next to my copy of “The Mists of Avalon.” Bravo, S. M. Perlow, bravo!!!

Now on pre-order, release date March 25, 2021, get it here:

Book Review – THE GIRL FROM THE MOUNTAINS by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

The Girl from the Mountains by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger is a haunting reminder how things can progress from idyllic to horrific in the blink of an eye. First off, the first few chapters flowed slowly but methodically, setting the stage for Magda’s transformation of enjoying her serene family life with her parents and brothers to the captivating rush of the last chapters and her full-on resistance against the Nazis. The beauty of any story is to recognize the author’s desire to demonstrate contrast. Christina does this with skill. I liken this story to the movie “A Hidden Life” contrasting love against hatred, morality against immorality, and innocence against guilt. To put this into visual terms, this book is a visual fire, a flame sparked in the beginning, slowly burning in the initial chapters as more and more fuel is added until, finally, the story bursts into a bonfire. Magda never believes she is a warrior, a hero, but she is; a woman who is relatable to women today as well as being true to the time period in which Chrystyna writes. My favourite lines from the book:

“….where Swastika stamped flags snapped salutes to the wind.” (Great alliteration and visual)

“Everything about love requires an act of courage. Absolutely everything. But loving yourself perhaps the most heroic act a person can perform.” (Great line!)

“We all understand the difference between right and wrong. But what if wrong is the law?” (Hmmm, makes you think, huh? Especially in our modern day!)

“I believe a soul can die a thousand times before the body does. That’s a good thing because it means you have the chance to recover. So, today, right now, we must choose to live.” (I have lived this so many times, after losing my kids in death, so this profound statement will stay with me a long time.)

“We are shaped by our circumstances, and marked by our choices.” (Simply put, yes!)

I give this book five stars and highly recommend. Well done, Chrystyna!!

Now available on Amazon here:

Book Review – THE GIRL WHO ESCAPED FROM AUSCHWITZ by Ellie Midwood

FIVE STARS!!!!!!!!!!

The Girl Who Escaped Auschwitz is another poignant and captivating story from the brilliant mind of Ellie Midwood. What can I say? After reading her first novel, The Violinist of Auschwitz, I must admit I had high expectations for this one. First and foremost, I was not disappointed and neither will you be if you choose to read any of her books! I am so astounded at her ability in writing words that flow with such ease over the deplorable settings she writes about. She doesn’t transport you to another time and place, she lives there and invites you to sit next to her in the death camp while she tells these stories. I think another reviewer said “brutally authentic” and I have to concur. And the way love is portrayed as a contrast to the evil in the camp is stunning. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating – Ellie Midwood is a genius wordsmith, an old soul bringing these people back to life in her words. Mala and Edek, another inspiring couple, and another five-star heart-wrenching story worthy of reading again and again. Highly recommend!!

I received this book through Netgalley.

Now available on Amazon here:

Book Review – A COMFORTABLE ALLIANCE by CATHERINE KULLMAN

A Comfortable Alliance by Catherine Kullman is a beautifully written historical novel set right after the Napoleonic Wars. From the start, I could tell this was a gentle read, in other words, a peaceful-evening-sitting-by-the-fire-with-a-glass-of-wine kind of book. Ms Kullman does not disappoint in her ability to transport you with her true-to-the-era dialogue and situations. The overall story is quite lovely, giving you enough romance while not being gratuitous in anyway which, to me, gives credibility to the time period in which she writes. The dialogue is easy, not cumbersome, except for a few out-of-place descriptive passages which I thought a person might not ordinarily say in regular conversation. But, then again, sometimes we read with a more modern eye. I think of this book as a meandering river, flowing along with Will and Helena’s relationship as their characters develop over the course of the book – a comfortable alliance becoming a very sweet romance. The title is perfect in that respect! Along with the historical backdrop, which Ms Kullman portrays with great skill, this book is a great read for anyone wanting a well-told Regency story. Very recommended!!

I received this book through Netgalley.

The book will be released on March 25, 2021 and is now on pre-order here:

BOOK REVIEW – HISTORICAL STORIES OF BETRAYAL

First and foremost, I must say I am privileged to know many of these phenomenal historical fiction authors and have shared and re-shared Twitter and FB posts for many years now. But knowing someone through social media and reading their words is quite a different experience.

In reading “Historical Stories of Betrayal” and noting the different aspects in style and voice, I truly hear their passion and soul in the stories.

This is a book not to be missed! Here you are given a sampling of short stories and excerpts spanning the globe from ancient Rome to the Tower of London; and through the eras from the 5th-century to the 19th-century – all with one basic premise known throughout time: BETRAYAL.

I do have my favourites among the twelve stories, all having to do with my own insatiable appetite for particular eras and locales, but for the sake of this review, I must say – each and every story is a pearl in this luscious historical jewelled necklace. You will not be disappointed and I highly recommend not only reading the short stories and excerpts of these authors, but grabbing up their novels, as well.

Here is the link to buy:

Book Review – “The Violinist of Auschwitz” by Ellie Midwood

RELEASE DATE: November 18, 2020

Is it possible to give a book ten stars? If so, this is one!!

Ellie Midwood is an expert wordsmith and brilliant storyteller. This story is a sumptuous feast of words amid the starving and bleak setting of Auschwitz, and she contrasts her main character’s angelic artistic abilities against the dark demonic depravity of the SS, especially when she introduces the characters such as Mengele, the notorious Doctor of Death.

Without giving too much away, since I am already telling the reader of this review to get this book as soon as possible for your next read, I will highlight some of my favorites lines – lines that broke my heart. I was immersed from the first paragraph and by chapter five, I was in tears. The tears never left and I read this in one sitting, not from the ease of the read, but from the sheer inability to put it down.

So many lines stood out for me, such as: “Hatred aged them just as fast as suffering aged their victims. Alma thought it to be a form of poetic justice.” or “Sensitivity doesn’t live long here. Sensitivity gets people killed.” or “Alma stepped outside the warehouse, a pillowcase bursting at the seams with dead people’s belongings, the bright August sun spilled its golden light onto her with astonishing insolence.” or, oh my, I could go on and on. This novel lacks nothing in the availability of highlighter-worthy passages and sentences – ones I will certainly go back and read again and again.

The immense skill of showing the contrast between the light airy beautiful music from a violin against the stark gruesome darkness of the realities of Auschwitz proved Ellie Midwood’s genius as a writer. Within one novel, she captured the essence of hope and despair, of life and death, of humanity and inhumanity, and of the sheer will and strength this incredible woman showed in the face of utter deplorable insanity.

Bravo, Ellie, Bravo! Your name is now added to my favourite author’s list!!

(This book review will be permanently posted on my “Nest of the Best” page!!)

“The Paris Affair” by Susanne Dunlap – A HistFicChic Review

“The Paris Affair” by Susanne Dunlap is the third installation of the Theresa Schurman Mystery Books, and an exciting tale of intrigue during the reign of Marie Antoinette. Amid the sensational rumours surrounding the Queen, Theresa, an accomplished violinist and god-daughter to Haydn, is sent to France by Antoinette’s brother, Emperor Joseph II of Austria, to uncover the source of the circulating pamphlets blasting his sister.

Theresa is swept into a world of mystery while escaping the pressing decision of marriage to a Hungarian Baron, and she finds herself in the position as bookkeeper to the Queen of France’s milliner, Rose Bertin. Along the path of unravelling the puzzle, she encounters the Chevalier de Saint-George, a black man of extraordinary skill with both the violin and the sword; as well as someone from her past – Captain von Bauer, a man who annoys her, yet entices her. Music is her passion, solving mysteries is her skill, in this novel set in the turbulent city of eighteenth-century Paris, a time when rumours and scandal kill.

Being the third installation in the series, as a stand-alone book I must admit I was a bit confused at the beginning, so I do recommend reading the first two in the series before beginning this one. The outset assumed a person already knew the relationship between Theresa and the Emperor, as well as the love/hate relationship betwixt her and Captain von Bauer. That aside, the external conflict thrust upon her by the Emperor, as well as the internal conflict she has of whether to marry or not, sweeps you right into the story, continuing on into the thick of palace intrigue and murder.

This novel is perfect for a mid-teen to young adult wishing to delve into the world of historical fiction with a mix of mystery as the sentence structure is simple and the grammar is attuned to that age level with incredible skill. In other words, expect more of a Phyllis Whitney-style rather than Tolstoy, which is well in introducing young readers to the world of historical fiction.

What I liked: First, the cover is amazing!! Kudos to the designer!! Second, I loved the way the book handled the matters of prejudice during the time period, and the injustice; as well as the passion for the incredible music of the era. The book was easy to read, and I finished in one sitting.

What I did not like: I must admit, I am more of a Victor Hugo-girl when it comes to French Historical novels, so my preference for a thick, voluminous, and wordy story was not fulfilled with The Paris Affair; which, is not a bad thing, just not for me. I wanted more conflict, more internal dialogue, more tension, and more roller-coasters of passion. I loved the characters and the storyline, I just felt a craving for more.