What a way to retell a story about King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn!! If you’ve ever wanted to know about the inner workings of the household, told from a servant’s POV, one who was closely linked to the infamous King and his wives, well, this is the book to get. This is the story of Bess Davydd, a young girl bought by Henry VIII to become a minstrel for his court, a songstress whose voice is as a nightingales. During the storyline, you are offered brief glimpses and encounters with the royals (i.e. Henry and Anne) but the story is much more about Bess and her love interests – Tom, another bought minstrel, and Nick, a nobleman. The story is compact, well-developed, and stretches into the depths of emotions separating commoners from the high-born, as well as showing the commonality, the human element. If I have one negative, and perhaps it is only from my POV, I struggled with wrapping my head around her age, of how young she is when she starts to experience “love” and with her sounding like a woman at the age of ten to fourteen. I mean, I get it, I know from my own research into history that girls at that age and in that time period were wives and mothers by the time they were fourteen, even younger, but I did struggle a bit with it. However, my own feelings did not overwhelm the overall story, to which I enjoyed thoroughly. I give this book five stars and will highly recommend to anyone who loves books about the Tudor era.
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:
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:
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:
Congratulations to Bruce Bishop for his debut novel, Unconventional Daughters! Bruce W. Bishop is a veteran travel and lifestyle journalist who is based in Nova Scotia, Canada.
It’s 1922 in a coastal town in Nova Scotia, Canada. A naïve Eva Carroll marries her stepfather with her controlling mother’s consent. The community is shocked, and when her aunts arrive from Sweden, a dangerous mix of family secrets and lies reaches a crescendo. If you love family sagas, historic locales, and surprising plot twists, you’ll become immersed in Unconventional Daughters.
One recent review (from the U.K.):
“***** FANTASTIC!!! If you love Historical Fiction full of drama, betrayal, feminism and true life events, this is for you.
Following three sisters from a very young age, you get to see how they grow up after being adopted when their parents died. They get separated from their brother, who they get to finally meet again years later. You have so much drama going on with the sisters and then when you get introduced to Eva, you’re hit with more. I don’t want to give too much away, but this is one incredible book, I felt emotional, angry, annoyed and I was so invested in the stories. I’m excited to read the spin off book that’s soon to follow.” – E.J. Palmer, England, 07 March 2021
Book and other links:
Website/Newsletter sign up: www.brucebishopauthor.com