Monday, August 29, 2016

The Castle of Kings by Oliver Potzsch

An epic tale of murder, treachery, bravery, and love


In 1524, in what is now Germany, hundreds of thousands of peasants revolted against the harsh treatment of their aristocratic overlords. Agnes is the daughter of one of these overlords, but she is not a typical sixteenth-century girl, refusing to wear dresses and spending more time with her pet falcon than potential suitors. There is only one suitor she is interested in: Mathis, a childhood friend who she can never marry due to his low birth status. But when a rogue knight attacks Agnes and Mathis shoots the knight to save her, the two are forced to go on the run together, into the midst of the raging Peasants’ War. 

  
Over the next two years, as Agnes and Mathis travel the countryside, they are each captured by and escape from various factions of the war, participate in massive battles, make new friends both noble and peasant, and fall in love. Meanwhile, Agnes’s falcon finds a mysterious ring, and Agnes begins having strange, but seemingly meaningful dreams. Dreams that lead the two lovers to revelations about their place in the world and in the emerging German states. With The Castle of Kings,Oliver P√∂tzsch has written a historical yarn that calls to mind Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth and Bernard Cornwell’s Agincourt.

As a medieval enthusiast, I loved this story. What impressed me most was the depth and richness of the story that unfolded. First, the time period was a tumultuous one, with the German peasant class suffering greatly from the greed of the upper classes. The seeds of revolt had already been planted and were taking root. Next, it is a love story between a young woman, Agnes, of the upper classes with the son of a blacksmith named Mathis. Their love is doomed from the start. Next, historical details are mixed with fiction to create a realistic, nicely written tale. And lastly, there is a touch of mystery with a special ring and a pet falcon. Add to all that, a colorful cast of characters, and the end result was a long story that kept me fully engaged from start to finish.

This is a story that will appeal to both men and women and I can't wait for his next novel! 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for visiting my blog, http://greathistoricals.blogspot.ca, where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit http://www.historyandwomen.com.

First Dry Rattle by Celia Boyd

PUBLISHER’S BLURB

“The first dry rattle of new drawn steel
Changes the world today.”

So wrote Kipling, 300 years later in his poem, Edgehill Fight. The Civil War divided England and altered it for ever.

"Once whilst committing suicide, I changed my mind.” Tom Fletcher, a youth of Worcester, aged sixteen in 1639 revolts against his chosen career, by trying to hang himself. It was intended that he should follow his father, Amyas Fletcher, as a Master Butcher. But his father seeing his son’s distress at his chosen vocation, apprentices him to his cousin Ben, a physician of some standing in Worcester. Suddenly in September 1642, Tom, now a qualified doctor, is thrust into the melee of the English Civil War, and finds that he can best respect his Hippocratic oath by remaining fiercely neutral.

Returning to Worcester from a visit to friends in Ledbury, he falls foul of a Parliamentarian quartermaster, Brigstock who is using the outbreak of hostilities to indulge his psychopathic tendencies. The Earl of Essex’ army occupies Worcester and Brigstock treacherously names Amyas Fletcher as a spy. Tom flees from Worcester and travels across the Midlands to serve the King’s army as a surgeon, but is captured by Brigstock at the Rollright Stones. He escapes and at Edgehill his medical skills prove invaluable to both sides. Brigstock is finally vanquished and Tom is a guest at Great Tew, the home of Lucius Carey, Viscount Falkland, intellectual, pacifist and politician.

REVIEW BY ANITA

As an avid enthusiast for the English Civil War, I was looking forward to reading this novel, bearing in mind I had been warned this was no fluffy romance with limpid eyed heroines in silks dreaming of dashing cavaliers, but a gritty account of what it was really like in the 1640’s.
I was certainly not disappointed. The opening line, which as another reviewer has already said must be the best opening line ever, told me I was in for a beautifully written adventure which delves deeply and convincingly into both the Royalist intractability to keep the natural order of things, and the Rebels’ determination that the rights of the common man must change.

Tom Fletcher has chosen to negotiate the horrors of the Civil War in his own way, and although one expects doctors to be essentially well-meaning, Tom’s inherent goodness shines through, even when his pledge to care for all men, no matter their politics doesn’t always work as he intended.

The prose is elegant and the character of Tom, as well as Amyas and Phoebe are beautifully drawn. I learned a lot about 17th C medicine and the use of plant treatments which with the background of everyday life was extensively researched, elements which brought the story to life.

Tom discovers his own capacity for hate when his father is unjustly killed and he seeks revenge against his better judgement. As if things weren’t bad enough, Tom has made a dangerous enemy, one without a conscience who uses war as an excuse for unforgiveable behaviour. The author show us how and why ordinary men are changed by violence, allowing them to perpetrate acts they wouldn’t consider under normal circumstances, but without making excuses for them.

A brilliant, fast paced and exciting novel from this impressive author.

Anita Davison author of ‘Royalist Rebel’ under the name Anita Seymour. Her latest venture is a Victorian cosy mystery series from Aria, Head of Zeus, the first of which is scheduled for release in October 2016.



Celia Boyd's Website here

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for visiting my blog, http://greathistoricals.blogspot.ca, where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit http://www.historyandwomen.com.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams

An exciting novel about the life of Josie Earp, her husband Wyatt, and the shoot out at the O K Corral. 

Two decades after the Civil War, Josephine Marcus, the teenage daughter of Jewish immigrants, is lured west with the promise of marriage to Johnny Behan, one of Arizona’s famous lawmen. She leaves her San Francisco home to join Behan in Tombstone, Arizona, a magnet for miners (and outlaws) attracted by the silver boom. Though united by the glint of metal, Tombstone is plagued by divided loyalties: between Confederates and Unionists, Lincoln Republicans and Democrats.
But when the silver-tongued Behan proves unreliable, it is legendary frontiersman Wyatt Earp who emerges as Josephine’s match. As the couple’s romance sparks, Behan’s jealousy ignites a rivalry destined for the history books…
At once an epic account of an improbable romance and a retelling of an iconic American tale, The Last Woman Standing recalls the famed gunfight at the O.K. Corral through the eyes of a spunky heroine who sought her happy ending in a lawless outpost—with a fierce will and an unflagging spirit.

Opinion:

The first thing that grabbed me about this book was the brash and colorful first person narrative of Josie Earp. It's a bold, blunt, and in-your-face style and I loved it!

The book reveals to the reader, Josie's rebel heart, a woman who was not afraid to break away from her conventional Jewish upbringing to chase her passion - theatre and the notorious rake, Johnny Behan. At first, Johnny appears honorable, visiting Josie's parents and asking for her hand in marriage, then sweeping her away to Tombstone long before the vows could be uttered.

Almost immediately, Josie meets Wyatt Earp and the attraction between the two was instantaneous. In the meantime, Josie sets up a home with Johnny, but as time progresses, he drags his heels on all promises he made to her regarding marriage, home, and finances. She even discovers his womanizing and frequent trips to the local bordello. That's when she reaches out to Wyat. As the tensions heat up between these two men, Josie is helpless to thwart the gunfight at the OK Corral. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, especially the voice and the way the author brought to life the characters involved. I definitely enjoyed this book and am happy to recommend it for lovers of western historical fiction and women's biographical fiction.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for visiting my blog, http://greathistoricals.blogspot.ca, where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit http://www.historyandwomen.com.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Miss Jane by Brad Watson

Astonishing prose brings to life a forgotten woman and a lost world in a strange and bittersweet Southern pastoral.
Since his award-winning debut collection of stories, Last Days of the Dog-Men, Brad Watson has been expanding the literary traditions of the South, in work as melancholy, witty, strange, and lovely as any in America.
Now, drawing on the story of his own great-aunt, Watson explores the life of Miss Jane Chisolm, born in rural, early-twentieth-century Mississippi with a genital birth defect that would stand in the way of the central "uses" for a woman in that time and place: sex and marriage. From the highly erotic world of nature around her to the hard tactile labor of farm life, from the country doctor who befriends her to the boy who loved but was forced to leave her, Miss Jane Chisolm and her world are anything but barren.
The potency and implacable cruelty of nature, as well as its beauty, is a trademark of Watson’s fiction. In Miss Jane, the author brings to life a hard, unromantic past that is tinged with the sadness of unattainable loves, yet shot through with a transcendent beauty. Jane Chisolm’s irrepressible vitality and generous spirit give her the strength to live her life as she pleases in spite of the limitations that others, and her own body, would place on her. Free to satisfy only herself, she mesmerizes those around her, exerting an unearthly fascination that lives beyond her still.

Opinion:

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It was not what I was expecting at all. In fact, I even had my doubts, as I often do when a man writes from a woman's point of view. But Brad Watson surprised me on all accounts. This novel worked on so many levels.

Based on the life of one of his distant relatives, he was able to write a tale so vivid, so emotional, so heart-wrenching, that at times it left me stunned. The main character is Jane Chisholm who is born with a defect. The author teases the reader by revealing tidbits of information pertaining to this rare defect little by little throughout the story. This kept me flipping pages because I needed to understand what this deformity was. 

The secondary characters who must deal with Jane have varying reactions to her - protectiveness, fear, love, and even abhorrance. Above all, it was Jane's innocence, her abiding inner strength, and genuine heart that fascinates and makes this book rise over others. And all this is set in rural and poor Mississippi in the early 1900's where life was never easy. 

This totally engrossing novel will keep book clubs talking for hours and hours because of its complexity, likeability, and the birth defect. Beautiful and poignant. I loved it.   

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for visiting my blog, http://greathistoricals.blogspot.ca, where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit http://www.historyandwomen.com.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Prophetic Queen Book Launch special $2.99

"I WAS BORN with the ability to prophesize thefuture. The destinies I dream about are impossible toalter, despite my many attempts to do so. With vibrant clarity, nightly visions forewarn me of good fortune, butalsoof despair, discord, and death--always death."

To celebrate the launch of my 6th novel, The Prophetic Queen, the ebook is on sale until August 31st for $2.99.

Apple iTunes, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and other online vendors

Matilde of Ringelheim, a paragon of virtue and achievement, a legendary woman of passion, beloved 10th-century queen, and saint of the Germanic states, was one of the most influential and charitable women in medieval history. Her story of love, family discord, betrayal, prophetic dreams, and political intrigue is an epic account of her history. 

As the virtuous daughter of a noble family educated in an abbey, young Matilde faces a promising future, but she keeps a secret. Through her dreams, she can predict the future. When Duke Heinrich of Thuringia arrives unannounced at the abbey and wishes to marry Matilde, her childhood is over. At fourteen, she weds the young, enigmatic duke. She must leave everything behind and learn to navigate the intricacies and intrigues of her new life as a duchess, and later as queen. 

Beset by great political intrigues, a ravaged people, fraught relationships, and yet inspired to a greater calling, Matilde sees what her future could hold if she could seize the moment—if her husband will believe in and act upon her prophetic dreams.