Carole Reviews: Murder by Misrule – Anna Castle

Author: Anna Castle
Title: Murder by Misrule (Francis Bacon #1)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Murder Mystery, and Romance
Pages: ebook
First Published: June 8th, 2014
Where I Got It: My shelf  (Given to me by the author/publisher for my honest and unbiased opinion)


“Francis Bacon is charged with investigating the murder of a fellow barrister at Gray’s Inn. He recruits his unwanted protégé Thomas Clarady to do the tiresome legwork. The son of a privateer, Clarady will do anything to climb the Elizabethan social ladder. Bacon’s powerful uncle Lord Burghley suspects Catholic conspirators of the crime, but other motives quickly emerge. Rival barristers contend for the murdered man’s legal honors and wealthy clients. Highly-placed courtiers are implicated as the investigation reaches from Whitehall to the London streets. Bacon does the thinking; Clarady does the fencing. Everyone has something up his pinked and padded sleeve. Even the brilliant Francis Bacon is at a loss — and in danger — until he sees through the disguises of the season of Misrule.”
Like earlier stated, I read this for the author/publisher for my honest and unbiased opinion.
Awwwww Francis Bacon. I don’t know why, but I liked him a lot. Maybe it’s the fact that he reminded me of me at a lot of times. He also reminded me of Sherlock Holmes from time to time. THAT may have to do with the fact that he had a murder mystery on his hands. I wish that he didn’t add the gang of kids with him, but it did add more to the story, but still. I didn’t like Tom and his friends. Okay, Ben was okay and so was Trumpet (until near the end). Tom was annoying and I think Clara deserved someone better. Oh well. Clara didn’t make it easy for Tom, so that made me feel better. She got screwed once by her first husband and wasn’t about to make THAT mistake twice. Glad she was a smart girl.
The two twists near the end surely did catch me by surprise. Especially who was the murderer and the conspirator. Kuddos to the author for getting me! haha. I’m normally really good at mysteries, but this got me and I liked it. 
There were a couple dry spots that did have me skimming a little bit. 0.0 However, the adventure was fun and I’m excited to see what adventures poor Mr. Bacon has to endure. haha. The author did a fantastic job blending historical fiction with real history and with a nice mystery on top like a cherry. Wonderful. 🙂
In the end, I liked the mystery…it was a good one and I didn’t expect it! I had my own list of suspects that surely did look suspicious. I hated Tom and his “friends”. I’m glad that the author made Clara a strong girl who didn’t completely give in to Tom and his “love”. She made him prove it and made him work for it. I loved her and I wish she had more screen-time. Also, I wish that Francis Bacon had more screen-time as well. Oh well. This book would be fun for those that like historical fiction and/or mysteries. Out of five stars I shall stamp this with 4 stars. 

Favorite Character(s): Francis Bacon, Clara, Ben, and Queen Elizabeth

Not-so Favorite Character(s): Tom and Casper 


Swords of Good Men – Snorri Kristjansson

To Ulfar Thormodsson, the Viking town of Stenvik is the penultimate stop on a long journey in this riveting adventure of clashing Viking powers. Tasked with looking after his cousin after disgracing his father, he has traveled the world and now only wants to go home.

Stenvik is different: it contains the beautiful and tragic Lilja, who immediately captures Ulfar’s heart-–but Stenvik is also home to some very deadly men, who could break Ulfar in an instant.

King Olav is marching on Stenvik from the East, determined to bring the White Christ to the masses at the point of his sword, and a host of bloodthirsty raiders led by a mysterious woman are sailing from the north.

But Ulfar is about to learn that his enemies are not all outside the walls.
My thoughts:
At first I will admit that this will not be the historical for everyone. This is about war, fighting, a siege, death. You get the idea.
Ulfar comes with his cousin to Stenvik. And he is not the only one. King Olav is coming there too, and others to plunder and kill. But before that Ulfar falls for a mystery woman (yes those things can never end well). And we gets to see the tension in the city. It was a brutal time after all.
The raiders and King do not come at once. We get to see city life, the raiders planning and King Olav telling people his way or the highway. Yeah, I have never been a fan of those who say this religion is better, follow it or die. So I can’t really be on his side then. Go back to your heathen ways Norway, do not listen to Olav.
Ulfar, he was interesting. Because he starts of, not naive, but in a way yes. He grows and sees the bloody side of things. It’s not like he is a stranger to fighting but things will get messy in this town.
Vikings as they were. A time of Thor vs White Christ. Tensions in society and like always, people doing things they should not do.
Conclusion:
And the end, rather evil wasn’t it? I will not tell you but it certainly made me wonder what Ulfar is up to next.

cover
works

Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 5th by Jo Fletcher Books
The Valhalla Saga #1
Historical fiction
for review

Dark Aemilia – Sally O’Reilly

A TALE OF SORCERY AND PASSION IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY LONDON—WHERE WITCHES HAUNT WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE AND HIS DARK LADY, THE PLAYWRIGHT’S MUSE AND ONE TRUE LOVE

The daughter of a Venetian musician, Aemilia Bassano came of age in Queen Elizabeth’s royal court. The Queen’s favorite, she develops a love of poetry and learning, maturing into a young woman known not only for her beauty but also her sharp mind and quick tongue. Aemilia becomes the mistress of Lord Hunsdon, but her position is precarious. Then she crosses paths with an impetuous playwright named William Shakespeare and begins an impassioned but ill-fated affair.

A decade later, the Queen is dead, and Aemilia Bassano is now Aemilia Lanyer, fallen from favor and married to a fool. Like the rest of London, she fears the plague. And when her young son Henry takes ill, Aemilia resolves to do anything to save him, even if it means seeking help from her estranged lover, Will—or worse, making a pact with the Devil himself.
My thoughts:
The book takes place during different important years during her life.
Aemilia is first the mistress of a powerful man and she has everything. She is happy with her lot in life. But the title already says is and the passion she and Shakespeare share drive them mad for each other. That is the first part of her life. Meeting Shakespeare, and losing it all.
The second part takes place when she is married to a gambler and her old life is long gone. She has a son. She still wants to write. But this was not a time for women, men were the writers. In this part something, well I do not want to call it paranormal, let’s just call it witchy, comes over it all. Superstition, needs and wants sets her on a different road. It’s a shitty life to be honest. I can feel the smell and dirt that was the early 1700th century. And it was not pretty and people were fools.
The last part, oh I am not gonna say everything that happens.
She was real, if she really was Shakespeare’s dark lady we do not know. But I quite like how O’Reilly portrayed it here.
Conclusion:
Love, passion, need. Witchcraft, sorcery and poetry. Plague, death and despair. Yes this book really gives us all of it.
Cover
I like the birds

Hardcover, 448 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by Picador (first published March 27th 2014)
Historical fiction
for review

Carole Reviews: The Lost Duchess – Jenny Barden

Author: Jenny Barden
Title: The Lost Duchess
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Pages: 448
First Published: November 7th, 2013
Where I Got It: My shelf (Given to me by the author/publisher for my honest and unbiased opinion)


Once a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, her only hope of surviving the scandal that threatens to engulf her is to escape England for a fresh start in the new America where nobody has ever heard of the Duchess of Somerset.
Emme joins Kit Doonan’s rag-tag band of idealists, desperados and misfits bound for Virginia. But such a voyage will be far from easy and Emme finds her attraction to the mysterious Doonan inconvenient to say the least.


As for Kit, the handsome mariner has spent years imprisoned by the Spanish, and living as an outlaw with a band of escaped slaves; he has his own inner demons to confront, and his own dark secrets to keep…


Ever since Sir Walter Raleigh’s settlement in Virginia was abandoned in 1587 its fate has remained a mystery; ‘The Lost Duchess’ explores what might have happened to the ill-starred ‘Lost Colony’ of Roanoke.”


Like earlier stated, I was given this book by the author/publisher for my honest and unbiased opinion.

First of all….I LOVE the cover. It’s so pretty. 🙂 The summary sounded good, but when I seen the cover it really was the cherry on the top. Also, I couldn’t help but want to read Jenny Barden’s “theory” on what happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Another great mystery of history that no one will ever, ever know the truth on. Honestly…this theory is close to what I think happened. I won’t discuss details, but it’s a good one.

Poor Emme….luckily Queen Elizabeth allowed her to go on this adventure. She truly needed it, because she really had some bad luck happen to her. Honestly, I think Queen Elizabeth knew sort of what happened to her, because she hints at it near the end that she knows. Love Queen Elizabeth she hates idiot men and she makes them pay with their pride and will humiliate them to knock them down a peg or two. 

Poor Kit….he got screwed too. He didn’t have an easy life and his first wife died horribly. 😦 Luckily, his son lived and he met Emme. The love they find is not an easy one to obtain though, which makes sense. They are from different social standings and they have a lot of past issues they need to work out. Also, it doesn’t help that they are in the middle of an adventure to a new land, so they don’t have a lot of time to work on their relationship. Food, shelter, and the constant threat of death takes priority over love. I’m glad that the author made their love story a realistic one. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies all the time. 

The only thing I didn’t really like was the ending. It was too open-ended. :/ Perhaps I’m just being picky. I just prefer having a nice lid-tight ending. One could really blame me growing up on the ‘Dear America’ books that had an epilogue that gave lid-tighter endings to all the main characters. IDK. However, as a writer, I LOVE leaving open-ended endings to my stories. I’m evil like that. Hehehehe. The ending in THIS story though, does end well, but it is a little cliff-hanger-y. Perhaps she did this on purpose, so if she wants to continue the story of Emme and Kit, she can. *shrugs* We shall see (I would definitely be all over a sequel for this novel). 

In the end, this was really, really good. I enjoyed every moment of the book! Even the bad events kept me hooked. The ending left me hoping their is a sequel, because I was left with some open-endedness. Besides for that, I liked it a lot! I would recommend this to those that like Historical Fiction or looking for a good adventure book. Out of five stars, I shall stamp this with 5 stars. ^.^

Favorite Character(s): Emme, Kit, Rob (cute kid), Queen Elizabeth, and Lacy
Not-so Favorite Character(s): Captain Fernando (ass, I hated his face.) 




Early Review: The Splendour Falls – Susanna Kearsley

1205 – the town of Chinon is beseiged by enemies of King John, and his young Queen calls upon a trusted servant to conceal her treasured jewels.

Emily Braden is intrigued by the medieval story of Queen Isabelle, and cannot resist when her cousin Harry, a historian, suggests a trip to the white-walled town of Chinon, nestling in France’s Loire Valley. But when Harry vanishes and Emily begins to search for him, she stumbles across another intriguing mystery — a second Isabelle, a chambermaid during the Second World War, who had her own tragedy, and her own treasure to hide.

As Emily explores the ancient town of labyrinthine tunnels, old enmities, and new loves, she finds herself drawn ever closer to the mysterious Isabelles and their long-kept secrets.
My thoughts:
This was my favorite Kearsley book to date, there was just something over it. The atmosphere, the French city of Chinon, the mystery, it all fell into place.
As often with Kearsley books there are more than 1 story. Though the the 2 other stories only get a few pages here and there. First we have Isabelle, the wife of King John, and during the siege of the Castle of Chinon she hides a treasure. During WWII a second Isabelle has her own share of tragedy.
The main story is about Emily who comes to Chinon because her cousin Henry is set on finding the missing treasure. And there we have the perfect setting of Chinon, and the guests of the hotel she is staying at. Lots of strange and fun people. And there might also be a chance of romance, but that is not the focus. That is on the mystery around the two Isabelle’s and things are getting dangerous at the end.
Conclusion:
I liked all the characters and the mystery. And well all the revelations we get. It was well written and it kept me reading and reading.
cover
eh

Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: January 14th 2014 by “Sourcebooks Landmark” (first published December 7th 1995)
Fiction / Historical Fiction / mystery
For review

Mishel Reviews: The Princess of Egypt must die – Stephanie Dray

Mishel reviews

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date:  November 2012
Publisher: Originally appeared in the ETERNAL SPRING anthology of Young Adult Fiction
Pages:  55
My Rating: 4/5 
Source: Kindle Freebie
Cover: She’s wearing the royal purple, I like it =)

Princess Arsinoe came of age in the glittering court of Ptolemaic Egypt. Abused by her ruthless sister, a pawn in the dynastic ambitions of her father, and dismissed by the king who claimed her for a bride, young Arsinoe finds herself falling in love with a young man forbidden to her. She dreams of a destiny as Egypt’s queen, but first she must survive the nest of vipers otherwise known as her family.
Review:
Ugh, this is why I dislike short stories/novellas/novellettes. Call them what you want and I’ll pretty much ALWAYS want more! The Princess of Egypt Must Die is absolutely no exception, especially when I became so attached to characters within a mere 55 pages! I mean, COME ON!?! And while I’m moaning and complaining let me underline the fact that this short story was fantastic! 
Doing some vague and mild research I’ve come to see that the heroine of this story is Queen Arsinoe II. While there is a lot of crazy rivalry – sibling, family, political, etc involved in her history (and pretty much everyone in history it seems), this particular story is about young Princess Arsinoe. Here she is portrayed as the sweet, fragile, younger daughter of the pharaoh who wants desperately to be loved. After being reluctantly married off to the King of Thrace she hopes to find some form of happiness in her new life. But Princess Arsinoe soon learns that rivals will always be around and the love and happiness she’s always wanted may continue to be out of her reach. 
I’ve only dabbled here and there in historical fiction so it’s always a treat to find a book that makes me want to go do research on the time period or featured character. Now if I follow through on said research is an entirely different subject matter that we may or may not discuss (probably not) at a later date. Ancient Egypt has continued to fascinate me with the few works I’ve read about the time period by different authors. I’m excited to continue on in the time period and hopefully continue to be just as thrilled.  
Having already read Stephanie’s work, it’s hard for me not to compare this short story to her Cleopatra’s Daughter trilogy. There are many similarities and differences but the bottom line is I truly love Stephanie Dray’s writing.  Her attention to historical detail is amazing and her ability to engage readers on an emotional level is staggering. I’m looking forward to her future work that will encompass the life of Martha “Patsy” Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson’s daughter (the third president of the United States, just putting it out there…) For those who are new to Stephanie Dray I’d highly recommend this short gem of a read as an introduction to her and her writing. P.S. It’s still a Kindle Freebie