River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay

15808474

BLURB

In his critically acclaimed novel Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay told a vivid and powerful story inspired by China’s Tang Dynasty. Now, the international bestselling and multiple award-winning author revisits that invented setting four centuries later with an epic of prideful emperors, battling courtiers, bandits and soldiers, nomadic invasions, and a woman battling in her own way, to find a new place for women in the world – a world inspired this time by the glittering, decadent Song Dynasty.

Ren Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate of Kitai. That moment on a lonely road changed his life—in entirely unexpected ways, sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws. From there he emerges years later—and his life changes again, dramatically, as he circles towards the court and emperor, while war approaches Kitai from the north.

Lin Shan is the daughter of a scholar, his beloved only child. Educated by him in ways young women never are, gifted as a songwriter and calligrapher, she finds herself living a life suspended between two worlds. Her intelligence captivates an emperor—and alienates women at the court. But when her father’s life is endangered by the savage politics of the day, Shan must act in ways no woman ever has.

In an empire divided by bitter factions circling an exquisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far more than the burdens of governing, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading to events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.

REVIEW

I am once again in awe. I have waxed enthusiastic praise on each of the five books I have previously read by this author. River of Stars now makes six. It is a masterpiece of compelling fiction; a narrative that grabs hold and propels the reader along the meandering path of the multi-faceted plot. It is breathtaking in it’s scope; the world created by the author; the characters who fit perfectly into it; the endless tale of court (political) intrigue, a tale worthy to be called a classic.

I read a lot of historical fiction books, a good portion of them are by request as it seems my humble blog of reviews has garnered some interest among authors. I have a backlog of books to read and review, but I also like to read just for the pure pleasure of it. The backlog be damned – there are more Guy Gavriel Kay books yet to be read.

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Primitive Passions (The Boschloper Saga #1) by John M. Cahill

23608086

BLURB

When Sean O’Cathail deserted in New York Harbor in 1681, it was not to become a boschloper. He jumped ship to save his own skin. Getting into the fur trading business was just where he landed. As an Irish refuge hiding out in a Dutch colony now controlled by the English, Sean found he had a knack for diplomacy as he negotiated between the colonists and their Iroquois neighbors. This skill also helped with his love life, torn between courting a servant in town, while sleeping with an Indian lass when in the wilderness.

As the French and their Indian allies encroach ever farther into their territory. Sean’s diplomatric skills will be put to the test. Then, he learns more than a few pelts are at stake!

REVIEW

As an author who writes historical fiction of early America, I was fascinated with this truly enjoyable tale. Leading my interest is the author’s descriptions of the lives of the Iroquois tribes that made up The Five Nations. It is evident that Mr. Cahill has done his homework regarding the ‘savages’, but also in the telling of the nature of the fur trade and its impact on the colonies as well as England and France. A strong mix of history and historical characters with a plot line with surprises and believable fictional characters make Primitive Passions a definite pleasure to read. So, dear readers, take a journey to America’s beginnings, to a time when the beaver pelt trade made or broke men, and drove nations to war. 4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Cold Hearth (The Atheling Chronicles #3) by Garth Pettersen

51200846. sy475

BLURB

“The sons of Cnute are dead men.” The dying words of his brother’s assailant travel across the North Sea to the English Midlands.

Harald, the king’s second son, receives the warning while rebuilding a hall where he hopes to farm and lead a peaceful life with Selia, his Frisian wife. But as the hall nears completion, they learn the family who lived there before them all perished in a single night of bloodshed. Could the grounds be cursed?

Now the threat of unknown enemies casts a long shadow. Should they distrust the brooding Saxon neighbor or the two weapon-bearers they hired for protection? Should they suspect either of the two women they have taken on with the other hirelings? Only their Jewish warrior friend, Ravya ben Naaman, seems to be the only one above suspicion.

REVIEW

It’s not easy being the son of the King. While you might have started a new peaceful existence, and are the sort who gets along with the common folk, your family is another matter. Ever present in just about any monarchy is the issue of succession, and Harald Harefoot and his brothers aren’t the only contenders. The Cold Hearth is an engaging tale of an unsettled period in English history….the House of Wessex seeks to regain the throne from the House of Cnute, and one way to make that happen is to eliminate the Danish contenders to the throne. Wonderfully crafted characters fill the pages of this multi-threaded story; plot lines with twists and turns that leave the reader gasping at the turn of events. I was drawn into the emotional turmoil and stress resulting not only of the planned removal of Harald, but also from a brutal event in the past that threatens the tranquility of Harald’s friends and family. So, while Harald may have wanted a peaceful existence away from the turmoil, that isn’t what he gets in this rousing tale. Now I’m only guessing, but methinks that the turmoil will continue in the next episode of The Atheling Chronicles.   5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sorcery in Alpara by Judith Starkston

47870793. sy475

BLURB

A curse that consumes armies, a court full of traitors, a clutch of angry concubines and fantastical creatures who offer help but hate mankind.

Tesha’s about to become queen of a kingdom under assault from all sides, but she has powerful allies: her strategist husband, his crafty second-in-command, and her brilliant blind sister.

Then betrayal strips her of them all. To save her marriage and her world, she will have to grapple with the serpentine plot against her and unleash the goddess Ishana’s uncontrollable magic—without destroying herself.

“Based on historical events in the Bronze Age, Starkston wraps history and magic together in an unforgettable package.”

If you like unique world building, ancient sorcery, and mythical beasts, with richly portrayed characters and enthrallingly complex plots, then immerse yourself in Sorcery in Alpara, the second in this award-winning epic historical fantasy series. See why readers call the Tesha series “fast-paced,” “psychologically riveting” and “not to be missed.”

REVIEW

A startling sequel, Sorcery in Alpara, is one intense tale. Tesha, in a series of events becomes an outcast even in the eyes of Hattu. Time and again, situations are twisted to make her situation worse. Powerful magic, sorcery, and a coterie of people who want to see her fall make this story a joy to read.  Time and again, I would wonder how much Tesha could take. Masterful characters, a multi-faceted plot that keeps the reader in suspense…a good read indeed.  4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

Written in their Stars (The Lydiard Chronicles #3) by Elizabeth St.John

48802836. sy475

#WrittenintheirStars #ElizabethStJohn #HFVBTBlogTours
 
Twitter tags: @ElizStJohn @hfvbt  
 
Facebook tags: @ElizabethJStJohn @hfvbt 

BLURB

London, 1649. Horrified eyewitnesses to King Charles’s bloody execution, Royalists Nan Wilmot and Frances Apsley plot to return the king’s exiled son to England’s throne, while their radical cousin Luce, the wife of king-killer John Hutchinson, rejoices in the new republic’s triumph. Nan exploits her high-ranking position as Countess of Rochester to manipulate England’s great divide, flouting Cromwell and establishing a Royalist spy network; while Frances and her husband Allen join the destitute prince in Paris’s Louvre Palace to support his restoration. As the women work from the shadows to topple Cromwell’s regime, their husbands fight openly for the throne on England’s bloody battlefields.
But will the return of the king be a victory, or destroy them all? Separated by loyalty and bound by love, Luce, Nan and Frances hold the fate of England—and their family—in their hands.
A true story based on surviving memoirs of Elizabeth St.John’s family, Written in their Stars is the third novel in the Lydiard Chronicles series.

REVIEW

Another triumph, another fascinating read. The author has retained that emotional tug at her reader’s hearts throughout the series, while at the same time providing a powerful tale of shattered dreams, hopes, and survival in a country torn by civil war, and rife with divisive politics that tear families apart. The trials and tribulations of the family, overwhelming at times, are rendered beautifully through the strength of the characters; characters who pull the reader into the turmoil, the chaos, the victories in an ever changing reality.  Let the pages turn, my fellow readers – Luce, Nan and Frances are calling you.   5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

03_Elizabeth St. John.jpg

About the Author

Elizabeth St.John spends her time between California, England, and the past. An award-winning author, historian and genealogist, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Nottingham Castle, Lydiard Park, to the Tower of London. Although the family sold a few castles and country homes along the way (it’s hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth’s family still occupy them – in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their imprint. And the occasional ghost. But that’s a different story…

For more information, please visit Elizabeth St. John’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

 

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away two signed copies of Written in their Stars! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on January 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Embed Code: <a class=”e-widget no-button” href=”https://gleam.io/APiuX/written-in-their-stars” rel=”nofollow”>Written in Their Stars</a>
http://a%20href=

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/APiuX/written-in-their-stars

WITS_Blog Tour Poster.png

Commodus (The Damned Emperors #2) by Simon Turney

42413627. sy475

BLURB

Rome is enjoying a period of stability and prosperity. The Empire’s borders are growing, and there are two sons in the imperial succession for the first time in Rome’s history.

But all is not as it appears. Cracks are beginning to show. Two decades of war have taken their toll, and there are whispers of a sickness in the East. The Empire stands on the brink of true disaster, an age of gold giving way to one of iron and rust, a time of reason and strength sliding into hunger and pain.

The decline may yet be halted, though. One man tries to hold the fracturing empire together. To Rome, he is their emperor, their Hercules, their Commodus.

But Commodus is breaking up himself, and when the darkness grips, only one woman can hold him together. To Rome she was nothing. The plaything of the emperor. To Commodus, she was everything. She was Marcia.

REVIEW

Well now, that was certainly not the Commodus from Gladiator. Once again, Mr. Turney has taken on myth and misconception, and has brought forth a fascinating look at one of the more enigmatic of the Roman emperors. As in his other novels, the author relies on his ability to glean from contemporary sources those facts or myths, and turn them into a page turning (and to this burgeoning author), mind boggling tale that grabs the reader’s attention from page one, word one, and does not relent in it’s grip. Written from the perspective of Marcia, the narrative is rich in detail, poignant in its telling, and once again left this reader amazed at the creative talent of the author. 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Across the Great Divide: Book 1 The Clouds of War by Michael Ross

acrossthegreatdivide.jpg

BLURB

Lexington, Kentucky, 1859. After saving John Hunt Morgan from a puma attack, fifteen-year-old farm boy Will Crump joins Hunt’s militia, the Lexington Rifles. Morgan mentors Will and enrolls him in the local university, where he hopes to study law. As tensions rise between the North and South, Will is torn between his loyalty to Morgan and his love for his family. Will’s father, sisters, and sweetheart follow the Union, while Morgan and Will commit to the South. As part of Morgan’s band, Will participates in ambushes and unconventional warfare until his first real battle at Shiloh. He fights bravely, but increasingly questions what the war is accomplishing, and whether his devotion to honor has led him astray. And where is God in all this killing?

Will’s sister Albinia, friend of the Clay family, becomes increasingly aware of the plight of the slaves. When she finds Luther, a slave she knows, trying to escape, she must decide between her conscience, and her friends. She becomes involved in the Underground Railroad, helping slaves to freedom – but will it cost her love and her freedom?

Will’s other sister, Julia, is approaching spinster status and despairs of ever meeting a man who can give her more than life on a farm until she meets Hiram Johannsen, a son of immigrants who owns a steamship company. They marry and she makes a new life in the North. When Hiram answers the call to fight for the North, Julia runs the steamboat company in her husband’s absence and uses her boats to help Albinia ferry escaped slaves to freedom. Her business relations put her in the perfect position to spy for the North. When the Confederates capture her, will she survive?

Luther is one of the first slaves Albinia helps flee the South after his master cruelly abuses his mother and sister. He escapes with his family, and when war breaks out, he fights for the North as an auxiliary of the Third Ohio Cavalry, alongside Julia’s husband, Hiram, and against Morgan and Will. Luther has to confront the demons of his past, an abusive master, and a slave catcher that kills his little sister. Will the desire for revenge destroy him?

Throughout the war, Will is forced to examine and question everything he believes in—his faith in God, his love for his family, his loyalty to Morgan, and his worth as a human being.

Will and his family must somehow mend the torn fabric of relationships to find peace, and reach Across the Great Divide.

REVIEW

An emotionally charged tale reflecting the divisive times of The Civil War. With the ‘neutral’ state of Kentucky as the backdrop, the author paints a vivid picture of life and issues confronting his characters. The issues involved are meticulously described – slavery, states rights, the North as invaders, the Underground Railroad – a story told from the perspective of the people who are faced with impossible decisions and see their lives ripped apart by the storm of war.  Strong characters, a steady flowing narrative, and intriguing story lines following the Crump family and associates make this a definite page turning tale.

4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

03_Michael L. Ross.jpg

Michael Ross is a lover of history and great stories. He’s a retired software engineer turned author, with three children, and five grandchildren, living in Newton, Kansas with his wife of 39 years. Michael graduated from Rice University and Portland State University. He was born in Lubbock, Texas, and still loves Texas. He’s written short stories and technical articles in the past. “Across the Great Divide: Book 1 The Clouds of War” is his first novel.

Across the Great Divide Poster.png

SIGIRIYA: A Tale of Grandeur, Love and Tragedy by Senani Ponnamperuma

47646255. sy475

BLURB

Palace intrigue, passion, deceit, betrayal, and tragedy—this is the story of King Kasyapa and his beloved Sigiriya. Born of a village girl and a warrior king, he is denied the crown because of his inferior birth – but is forced to become king. Accused of murdering his father, he abandons his capital and builds a new city in the inhospitable forests of Sri Lanka. There, he lives in a spectacular sky palace atop a massive rock two hundred meters high.

It is also the story of Amira, a beautiful girl from Afghanistan who is only twelve years old when she is sold into slavery. At eighteen, she is traded for a hundred pearls from Sri Lanka. Arriving at her new home, she is trained as a concubine in Kasyapa’s harem and becomes his favorite consort.

Set fifteen hundred years ago, this spellbinding novel weaves historical facts into a remarkably entertaining story of fate, dangerous alliances, enduring friendships, and forbidden love.

REVIEW

An engaging tale of a place that I am not well versed in; an exotic, mysterious land, and a story that is timeless throughout the history of mankind. Born with the stigma of a commoner for a mother, and yet the son of a king, Kasyapa finds himself propelled into a position he was not born to, the kingship. The author has produced a story of love, ambition, and palace intrigue; one that flows easily and allows the reader to enjoy the beauty and splendor of the land, and to become immersed in Kasyapa’s struggles, triumphs, and dreams. Prepare yourselves, my fellow readers, to travel to an ancient land, to be entertained, and to wonder in awe at Sigiriya. 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Katharina Fortitude by Margaret Skea

47195012. sy475

BLURB

Eagerly-awaited conclusion to Katharina Deliverance – Runner-up in the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2018.

‘Beautifully written and meticulously researched – historical fiction at its best.’ BooksPlease
Fans of Hilary Mantel, C J Sansom and Winston Graham will love this book.

‘We are none of us perfect, and a streak of stubbornness is what is needed in dealing with a household such as yours, Kat… and with Martin.’

Wittenberg 1525. The unexpected marriage of Martin Luther to Katharina von Bora has no fairytale ending.

A sign of apostasy to their enemies, and a source of consternation to their friends, it sends shock waves throughout Europe.

Yet, as they face persecution, poverty, war, plague and family tragedy, Katharina’s resilience and strength of character shines through.

While this book can be read as a standalone, it is also the powerful conclusion to her story, begun in Katharina: Deliverance.

If you like your historical Fiction to be authentic, immersive and packed with drama, this book is for you.

REVIEW

One of the aspects of historical fiction that I look for in my reading is authenticity where the history is concerned coupled with fiction that could very well be part of the actual history being told.  In Katharina Fortitude, the author has created just such a narrative. The struggles to keep hearth and home together are daunting enough given the obstacles and the emotional toil that Kat faces, and on top of all of that she is married to an unrelenting, firebrand reformation theologian who is prone to irascible outbursts at any perceived deviation to his reformed beliefs. That is the Martin Luther she married, but what I really love about this story is the way Martin is portrayed when not dealing with his ‘calling’. His tenderness, the joy he exhibits with his children, the way he gradually succumbs to Kat’s industriousness, and sharpness of mind. It is a captivating tale that reaches into your heart; an emotional journey of love and loss.  5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Passage by Prue Batten

46017076. sy475

BLURB

Meeting Alex Tremayne changed Annie’s life.
Losing him through a shocking farm accident shattered her.

Passage is the story of one woman, Annie Tremayne, and her journey through grief.
After Annie loses Alex, her husband and soulmate, she withdraws into the state of solitude that has always been her refuge.

Unsure how to move forward, she leans on Blighty, her bizarre little Jack Russell terrier for comfort, wishfully encountering the spirit of her late husband and craving the dry wit and understanding of her French friend, Lisette.

Amongst the raw beauty of Tasmania’s east coast, Annie discovers stalwart friends where she thought she had none and, ever so occasionally, there are glimmers of what could be.
With the help of feisty Blighty, her husband’s earthy wisdom, and the glaring honesty and wit of Lisette, Annie begins the journey back from sorrow.

Will she reach the other side?
Maybe only her diverse companions know…

REVIEW

I know that in every review I’ve written about the books by Prue Batten, I have waxed effusively on the beauty of her prose; the eloquence, the spot on emotions, narrative descriptions that linger, like the smell and sound of the sea, and so on. So it might seem ironic that my favorite sentence in Passage is this:

‘You know what, Blighty?’ she mumbled into his coarse fur. ‘Life is such shit sometimes.’

Then again, maybe not so ironic when taken in context. Passage is one of the most poignant stories I have read in a long time. The coming to terms with grief for Annie is a grueling passage, and the author has given her an eloquent, heartrending tale to tell. A highlight feature, for me, is Annie’s conversations with her recently deceased husband, Alex. The give and take between them is priceless and helps set the tone for dealing with the other people in her life…a new way of understanding the events..a new way of understanding herself.

So, my peeps and fellow readers, Hoover Book Reviews gives it 5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐, and it’s highest recommendation…

owlpaulitzer

Editor’s note:

Yeah, I know it says historical fiction on the Paulitzer, but hey, like I said I don’t read contemporary fiction very often, and this is the only Paulitzer currently in stock. 😁