Tag Archives: BOOK REVIEW

Book Review and Blog Tour – “The Poison Keeper” by Deborah Swift

To follow this blog tour and to check out The Hist Fic Chickie’s book review on “The Poison Keeper” by Deborah Swift, please click here to redirect to our new address:

BLOG TOUR at THE HISTORICAL FICTION COMPANY – new address for The Hist Fic Chickie blog.

Thank you for following me here – please come join the fun over at HFP!!

D. K. Marley

The Hist Fic Chickie / HFP CEO / Historical Fiction Author

BLOG TOUR – “Sisters at War” by Clare Flynn

I’d like to welcome Clare Flynn to the blog today on her blog tour for “Sisters At War”, a heart-tugging tale of the sisterly bond between Judith and Hannah amidst the chaos of war.

BLOG TOUR BOOK REVIEW

5 stars

This book is proof that you can take the simple relationship of two ordinary young women, two sisters, and turn a spotlight on them in the midst of the incredible chaos around them, and the result? Simply great story-telling.

This family living together at the Laurels, a modest home in Liverpool, during WWII is simple and stunning in the way you are a fly-on-the-wall into their lives. Every conversation is filled with emotion, despair, survival, disappointment, fear, and ultimately, love. I was particularly moved by the next door neighbor who at one point loses his cat, and his grief morphs into other losses in his life. I can relate to this in so many ways and I think anyone else who reads this will get the sense of why characters like this are vital in books. A character on the fringes of these two sisters lives, but so very necessary.

This book also deals with the racial cruelties during the war, and not just those thrust upon the Jewish community by the Germans. I was quite taken back in reading of the treatment of British citizens of Italian descent when Mussolini joined Hitler in the fight. And then I was thrilled with the sudden journey to Australia, a land which must have felt like a peaceful haven while the rest of the world was on fire, even for those prisoners who were sent there.

I definitely hope there is another book to come along. I want to know more about these two sisters and where life takes them after the war.

I give this book five-stars and I received this book through Netgalley.

Book Title: Sisters at War

Author: Clare Flynn

Publication Date: 1st May 2021

Publisher: Cranbrook Press

Page Length: 314 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Sisters at War

By Clare Flynn

BLURB

1940 Liverpool. The pressures of war threaten to tear apart two sisters traumatised by their father’s murder of their mother.

With her new husband, Will, a merchant seaman, deployed on dangerous Atlantic convoy missions, Hannah needs her younger sister Judith more than ever. But when Mussolini declares war on Britain, Judith’s Italian sweetheart, Paolo is imprisoned as an enemy alien, and Judith’s loyalties are divided.

Each sister wants only to be with the man she loves but, as the war progresses, tensions between them boil over, and they face an impossible decision.

A heart-wrenching page-turner about the everyday bravery of ordinary people during wartime. From heavily blitzed Liverpool to the terrors of the North Atlantic and the scorched plains of Australia, Sisters at War will bring tears to your eyes and joy to your heart.

Buy Links: 

Universal Link: 

https://books2read.com/sistersatwar

Amazon UK: https://amazon.co.uk/dp/B08Z473XG2 

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Sisters-War-wartime-voyage-across-ebook/dp/B08Z473XG2/

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Sisters-War-wartime-voyage-across-ebook/dp/B08Z473XG2 

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Sisters-War-wartime-voyage-across-ebook/dp/B08Z473XG2/ 

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sisters-at-war-1

Author Bio:

Clare Flynn is the author of thirteen historical novels and a collection of short stories. A former International Marketing Director and strategic management consultant, she is now a full-time writer. 

Having lived and worked in London, Paris, Brussels, Milan and Sydney, home is now on the coast, in Sussex, England, where she can watch the sea from her windows. An avid traveler, her books are often set in exotic locations.

Clare is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of The Society of Authors, ALLi, and the Romantic Novelists Association. When not writing, she loves to read, quilt, paint and play the piano. 

Social Media Links:

Website: https://clareflynn.co.uk/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/clarefly

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorclareflynn 

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Clare-Flynn/e/B008O4T2LC/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6486156.Clare_Flynn 

Instagram https://instagram.com/clarefly 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/clareflynn/ 

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/clarefly/ 

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/clare-flynn

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR

BOOK REVIEW: “The Kiss of the Concubine” by Judith Arnopp

5-star HFP “Highly Recommended” Medal

There are moments when, as a reader, you know the second a book impacts you. And when that impact comes at the very beginning, well, you know you are about to take an exquisite journey. I have felt this many times throughout the years and when it happens, the books become dear to me, and a must-have for my own personal library. This is one of those times.

Reading the blurb, one might think this is just another retelling of the infamous story of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, but I am here to say that this book transcends anything I have read to date on this popular subject. When you read lines such as: “…The king’s eyes fly open and his eyeballs swivel from side to side, his disintegrating ego peering as if through the slits in a mummer’s mask.” or “Henry and I are the most powerful couple in all of England and yet, in the face of death, we are powerless,” you are compelled to soak in every last detail. And last, I have to share this… “It is a dead sort of day, the type of day where the sky is white, and there is not even the hint of a breeze. Clouds muffle the horizon and I want to push them away, thrust back the oppression and the fear, and revel for one more day beneath blue skies, feel the wind on my cheeks, the scent of Hever in the air. Instead I am here, in my palatial prison, with no future, no next week to look forward to, perhaps not even a tomorrow.”

Oh, there are so many many more for you to enjoy on this heavenly journey of words. This is just a small sampling.

The immense beauty of Judith Arnopp’s selection of words and phrases is a lesson on how to write a historical novel. She takes what we already know of Anne and Henry to another level, a rare personal glimpse into their personalities, their fears, their hopes, and their love that turned England upside-down in terms of religion. In this book, Anne draws a reader’s sympathy, as she is portrayed as a young naïve girl thrust down a path that ultimately brings her ruin. The delicate way the author shows Anne’s love for her family home, Hever Castle, and the simplicities of that ‘other life’, the life before Henry, fleshes out her character and makes her tremendously relatable; as does the bond she shares with her brother, George, that is taken completely out of context by those wishing to destroy her.

The Kiss of the Concubine is now among my ‘go-to’ books that I will read again and again. Even this review does not do it justice. Simply put… get this book. It is stunning. A must-read!!

BUY HERE:

https://amzn.to/2TITenL

BOOK REVIEW – “Essex” by Tony Riches

BOOK REVIEW

The Earl of Essex. Well, what can I say? I began this book knowing full well the story of this high-spirited ambitious young man fawning after a much older Queen Elizabeth I, but I have to say that Tony Riches has excelled in really giving life to this notorious man in history. There were times I truly felt a sense of compassion and empathy for him, for his vainglorious attempts to prove himself in the eyes of the Queen, and then his failure to learn from his mistakes. Over and over and over, again. He was a man on the brink of glory, but never reached the clouds, ultimately falling into the precipice of his own making.

I loved this book and it is one I could read again and again. This is the first time I have read any of Tony Riches books and I know it won’t be the last. All of his books are on my to-read list and I foresee a binge read in the near future! Tony Riches’ books are a must read for anyone who wants an excellent historical biography about figures in the Tudor era.

I received a copy for an honest review from The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Book Title: Essex – Tudor Rebel

Series: (Elizabethan Series, Book 2)

Author: Tony Riches

Publication Date: 9th April 2021

Publisher: Preseli Press

Page Length: 352 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

ESSEX – Tudor Rebel 

(Book Two of the Elizabethan Series)

By Tony Riches

(Blurb)

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, is one of the most intriguing men of the Elizabethan period. Tall and handsome, he soon becomes a ‘favourite’ at court, so close to the queen many wonder if they are lovers.

The truth is far more complex, as each has what the other yearns for. Robert Devereux longs for recognition, wealth and influence. His flamboyant naïveté amuses the ageing Queen Elizabeth, like the son she never had, and his vitality makes her feel young.

Robert Devereux’s remarkable true story continues the epic tale of the rise of the Tudors, which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy and concludes with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Buy Links:

This novel is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription.

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/bwo16Y

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09246T7ZT

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09246T7ZT

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09246T7ZT

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B09246T7ZT

Author Bio 

Tony Riches

Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling Tudor historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the history of the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. Tony’s other published historical fiction novels include: Owen – Book One Of The Tudor Trilogy, Jasper – Book Two Of The Tudor Trilogy, Henry – Book Three Of The Tudor Trilogy, Mary – Tudor Princess, Brandon – Tudor Knight and The Secret Diary Of Eleanor Cobham. 

Social Media Links:

Website: https://www.tonyriches.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/tonyriches

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tonyriches.author/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tonyriches/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tonyriches.author/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Tony-Riches/e/B006UZWOXA

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5604088.Tony_Riches

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BOOK REVIEW – “The Testament of Mary” by Colm Toibin

I took some time to truly think about what I wanted to say about this book. This is difficult. To be honest, I bought the audio version solely on a whim and because I adore Meryl Streep. I thought, “Well, anyone who was able to get her to narrate a book . . . well, this must be astounding!’

However, I must admit there was several times I almost stopped listening, not because of the narration (which was perfection), but for the storyline. While I must give kudos to Colm Toibin’s originality, I have to say that I was quite taken back by portraying Mary as a cynic who often time appears not to have a clue what is going on with her son. While true, many of his family did not accept him as the Messiah, Mary was not one of those. In reality, she “kept all these sayings in her heart” KNOWING who he was, and BELIEVING in him. Mr Toibin’s writing style is unique, told in a continuous breath of Mary’s thoughts, and was sometimes confusing and tiresome. From a historical POV, perhaps this might be referred to as alternative history, at least in my opinion. I did not enjoy it, save for the exquisite voice of Meryl Streep.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EHNSNO6

BOOK REVIEW – “The Usurper King” by Mercedes Rochelle

I received this book from Netgalley for an honest review.
This is the first time I have read any books by Mercedes Rochelle, but it won’t be the last!! I must say, she has an impeccable talent for providing in-depth research bordering on a non-fiction style, flawlessly with the necessary elements of fiction. The dialogue was natural; she gives you well-rounded characters, fleshing out these historical figures so that you feel as if you are actually standing in the room with them in their time period.
One of my favourite Shakespearean plays is Henry V, and I adore the Hollow Crown series, so this book expanded the story of that time period with perfection. I will definitely be adding the rest of this series to my TBR list. I highly recommend this book!!

BOOK REVIEW – “A WIDER WORLD” BY KAREN HEENAN

After giving a resounding five stars for Songbird by Karen Heenan, her first book in The Tudor Court Series, I’ve had to take a step back from the next book, A Wider World. While the story continues with one of the characters introduced in Songbird, a young minstrel called Robin, who comes into contact with Bess and Tom through his own servitude to Cardinal Wolsey, I must say that I had a hard time connecting with his character. I was completely lost within the first few chapters as each chapter flip-flopped back and forth in time, from his beginnings back and forth to his current situation as an arrested heretic on his way to the Tower of London. I think it might be a good idea for a person to read Songbird first, and then A Wider World, to get some kind of bearing, which perhaps is what Ms Heenan wants in the first place. After pushing though the story, I came to the conclusion that I just particularly did not like Robin’s character and I think that is the reason that I did not enjoy his story. The opening quote at chapter one is “He that is discontented in one place will seldom be happy in another,” and I think this Ms Heenan portrays this quite well in his story. I want to like the character and enjoy his journey when I read a book, and I did not connect with him at all.

That all being said, Ms Heenan is a gifted writer and does well in her descriptions and immersion in history and revealing to us as readers another world… and in Robin’s case, several worlds as he travels the continent and becomes acquainted with the ‘wider world’. For Ms Heenan’s skill alone in offering a well-told story, another view of Tudor life, I give this book four stars. I received this copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest 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 – 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: