Thursday, November 6, 2014

The French Executioner by CC Humphrey

Jean Rombaud is brought to England by Henry VIII to behead his Queen Anne Boleyn. Jean arrives, determined to do his job and collect his reward. Instead, he finds himself drawn to Anne as she remains strong in her final days. He makes a vow to her to bury her six fingered hand in the Loire Valley. But others have plans for the rumored magical hand of the heretic queen.

This book has it all. Fast paced and entertaining, I almost couldn't put it down. I loved all the characters, but especially loved Haakon. This is a great book! Very highly recommended!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why write a novel about the man who killed Anne Boleyn, a Guest Post by CC Humphreys

Where do the ideas for novels come from?

I remember exactly what I was doing when the idea for The French Executioner hit me like a bolt of lightning. I was working out.

I was living in Vancouver at the time. Making my living as an actor. I’d written a couple of plays. But my dream from childhood had always been to write historical fiction.

I wasn’t thinking of any of that, on that day in a gym in 1993. I was thinking about shoulder presses. Checking my form in the mirror.

This is what happened. (It also shows you the rather strange associations in my brain!)

I lift the weight bar.
Me, in my head. ‘God, I’ve got a long neck.’
Lower bar.
‘If I was ever executed,’ - Raise bar - ‘it would be a really easy shot for the ax.’
Lower bar.
‘Or the sword. Because, of course, Anne Boleyn was executed with a sword.’
Raise bar. Stop half way.
‘Anne Boleyn had six fingers on one hand.’

Flash! Boom! Put down bar before I drop it. It came together in my head, as one thing: the executioner, brought from France to do the deed, (I remembered that from school). Not just taking her head. Taking her hand as well, that infamous hand – and then the question all writers have to ask: what happened next?

I scurried to the library. Took out books. I knew it had to be a novel. I did some research, sketched a few ideas. But the problem was, I wasn’t a novelist. A play had seemed like a hill. A novel – well, it was a mountain, and I wasn’t ready to climb it. So I dreamed a while, then quietly put all my research, sketches, notes away.

But I never stopped thinking about it. The story kept coming and whenever I was in a second hand bookstore I’d study the history shelves and think: if ever I write that novel – which I probably never will – I’ll want… a battle at sea between slave galleys. So I’d buy a book on that subject, read it. Buy another, read it.

November 1999. Six years after being struck by lightning. I’m living back in England and I find a book on sixteenth century mercenaries - and I knew the novel I was never going to write would have mercenaries. Twenty pages in, I turn to my wife and say: “You know, I think I’m going to write that book.” And she replies, “It’s about bloody time.”

I wrote. The story, all that research, had stewed in my head for so long, it just poured out. Ten months and I was done. I wondered if it was any good. I sent it to an agent. She took me on and had it sold three months later.

I was a novelist after all.

 About the Book: The year is 1536, and notorious French executioner Jean Rombaud is brought in by Henry VIII to behead Anne Boleyn, the condemned Queen of England. But on the eve of her execution, Rombaud becomes enchanted with the ill-fated queen and swears a vow to her: to bury her six-fingered hand, a symbol of her rumored witchery, at a sacred crossroads.
Yet in a Europe ravaged by religious war, the hand of this infamous Protestant icon is so powerful a relic that many will kill for it. Bloodthirsty warriors, corrupt church fathers, Vikings, alchemists, and sullied noblemen alike vie for the prize as Rombaud, a man loyal to the grave, struggles to honor his promise.
From sea battles to lusty liaisons, from the hallucinations of St. Anthony’s fire to the fortress of an apocalyptic messiah, The French Executioner sweeps readers into a breathtaking story of courage, the pursuit of power, and loyalty at whatever cost.
C.C. Humphreys is the author of eight historical novels. The French Executioner, which was his first novel and a runner-up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers award in 2002, has never before been published in the U.S. The sequel, The Curse of Anne Boleyn, will be published in the U.S. in May 2015.
Humphreys has acted all over the world and appeared on stages ranging from London’s West End to Hollywood’s Twentieth Century Fox. He is also an accomplished swordsman and fight choreographer. For more information, visit
Praise for The French Executioner
“Set against the backdrop of the Protestant Reformation, his superbloody Princess Bride-like adventure is, at its heart, a tale of redemption, well-earned and hard-won.” – Library Journal
“This unusual tale conjures visions of an Errol Flynn-type Hollywood swashbuckler...the tale's well-told, engagingly written, and includes a colorful immersion into a time when life was cheap and danger or death literally waited around every corner. A gory but fascinating...look at the world in the early 16th century.” -Kirkus

Thank you to the publisher and CC. My review will be posted next week! Stay tuned!

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Fairest of Them All by Caroline Turgeon

Rapunzel was raised in the forest by her foster mother, Mathena. Sheltered from men and the outside world, Rapunzel helps Mathena tend to women in need. One day Prince Josef stumbles upon the castle and falls in love with Rapunzel, though he must marry another. When Rapunzel loses the Prince's child, her life changes. After his wife's death, Josef is back to marry Rapunzel. But life in the castle is a big adjustment for Rapunzel.
This melding of two fairy tales was amazing. Though Rapunzel had issues, I still was sympathetic with her to a point. I loved how Turgeon kept the Grimm outlook on the stories, with dark twists and turns. It's an amazing book, well worth your time. It's completely devourable! Thank you to the publisher for a review copy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault

Alexander the Great has been praised by many. But who was the boy before he was a man. Starting with Alexander's youngest years as a pawn between husband mother, Olympias and his father, Phillip, Renault tells Alexander's story. Sent to learn from Aristotle  with a group of teens who would become his friends, allies and brothers, Alexander is shaped to be different from his parents. Alexander may still be mortal, but his story is legendary.
This was my first Mary Renault book. I loved it, but it's highly  detailed storyline got a bit heavy at times. The action flowed well when action was called for and then turned introspective for a while. I found myself drawn to all the characters, including Alexander's parents. I really enjoyed this novel!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The King's Hounds by Martin Jensen

The year is 1018 and Cnut sits on the united English throne. Halfdan, the half Danish son of an English lord is down on his luck. Stripped of his lands, he wanders the Kingdom living off theft and charm. He intends to rob Winston,  a former monk and illustrator, but ends up saving his life. Winston invites Halfway to accompany him as a strong arm to Oxford to see the King. The duo arrives in Oxford and are tasked by Cnut to solve a murder. As a Dane and Englishman, no one can question their justice. But will the duo live to see the light of another day.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the chemistry between Winston and Halfdan. The story is action packed and very quick. The setting seemed real. I enjoyed the humor, banter and dialogue. I do wish Cnut had been portrayed more.
As a resounding recommendation, I purchased the next book in the series after finishing the first.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Freemantle

Katherine Parr, the recently widowed Lady Latimer, has rejoined Henry VIII's court. As she mourns her loss, she finds comfort in Thomas Seymour. But Katherine has also attracted the attention of the King. Soon, Thomas is dispatched to a foreign court and Katherine becomes Queen Katherine. Katherine tries to find contentment in her new position, but longs for her lost lover.
Told by Katherine's maid Dot, this book charts the last years of Queen Katherine Parr. I liked Dottie. She kept the story interesting and different. She showed a different side of Katherine, more motherly. I really enjoyed this book. A really great book. I can't wait to read another book by Elizabeth Freemantle.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Kiya 2: Mother of a King by Katie Hampstead

Kiya is forced to flee Armana with Malachi and her children. Back in Thebes hiding as Naomi, she faces danger and heartbreak of a different kind. Her family, even her beloved father, had given her up for dead.  Malachi is welcomed back into his family, but Naomi and her children are shunned. Just as Naomi seems to adjusting to her former life, Horemheb arrives unannounced. Now Tut is in danger. Naomi must become the mother of a King.
The second book in this series is even better than the first. The danger is much more vivid, and he stakes have been raised. I see the appeal of Malachi, but I like the darkness of Horemheb. This book was well done and very enjoyable.