Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy O'Brien

Temple McFadden, a Met detective, mistakenly comes into possession of two valuable diaries days after Lincoln is assassinated. The two diaries belong to Mary Todd Lincoln and James Wilkes Booth. These diaries reveal the sinister plots of those who wanted to assassinate the President and how much the government was involved. But Temple isn't the only one who wants these diaries. The Union Spy Network, the Pinkertons and others want to these diaries for their own sinister purposes, and they are willing to kill to obtain these diaries. With the help of his nurse wife, Fiona,  and their famous friends, Temple tries to stay alive and in possession of the diaries.

This detective book weaves readers in and out of the Capitol in precarious days. With danger all around and coming from all directions, Temple McFadden becomes a hero. Carrying a cane instead of a gun, quick-thinking Temple makes for a fun adventure. Fiona and the other characters round out the story. The plot was full of twists and turns, but somehow Temple always manages (more or less) to stay one step ahead of the others. Thought I'm not a huge mystery fan, I really enjoyed this book. The historical accurate characters and exciting plot make this book a great read!!

I received this book from the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. You can see the schedule here.

Timothy L. O’Brien is the Executive Editor of The Huffington Post, where he edited the 2012 Pulitzer Prize–winning series about wounded war veterans, “Beyond the Battlefield.” Previously, he was an editor and reporter at The New York Times. There, he helped to lead a team of Times reporters that was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Public Service in 2009 for coverage of the financial crisis. O’Brien, a graduate of Georgetown University, holds three master's degrees -- in US History,Business and Journalism -- all from Columbia University. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and two children.

Twitter Hashtag: #LincolnConspiracyTour

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick

Matilda, the former German Empress and daughter of King Henry of England, returns to England following the death of her husband. She is a complete stranger to England, having left many years ago. But her father and his new wife, Adzelia, have no heir. Henry names Matilda his heir, but marries her off to the young Count of Anjou to beget heirs. Hotheaded Matilda finds her young husband childish and mean spirited and leaves. Forced to return to him, she bears him three sons. Upon her father's death, the barons who swore fealty to her years ago support her cousin, Stephen. War ignites as Matilda fights for her crown. Adzelia, now a widow, finds love with a supporter of Stephen and at long last has children. Adzelia struggles with her conscience and heart, knowing that Matilda is the rightful Queen, even though she is losing the war. This is a story of two women, bound by love, respect and friendship.

Chadwick weaves masterfully written stories and Lady of the English is no different. Adzelia and Matilda are so contrasting.  Motherly Adzelia loves the rash and stubborn Matilda, though she is bound to her husband who supports Stephen. Their friendship defies even the greatest odds. This time in history is a new time period for me. I enjoyed how Chadwick brought the time period to life. I do wish that Matilda would have been a warmer woman, but Chadwick portrayed her true to life. This is another great book by Chadwick!!
I purchased this book from Amazon for my Kindle.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Queen's Vow by CW Gortner

Isabella of Castile conjures up thoughts of the Inquisition and the New World, but who was the woman behind the Crown? Isabella of Castile grows up largely ignored by her half brother King Enrique. She lives away from court, raised by her mother, the former Queen, and her brother. When called to court to swear fealty to the unrightful heir to the throne, Isabella finds herself thrown into a frightening court, full of debauchery led by her vile half sister in law and twisted half brother. As life in Spain boils over, Isabella is caught up in the Civil War that pits her brother against her half brother. Isabella longs to rule Castile with her cousin, Ferdinand of Aragon as her husband. They secretly marry, defying the King. They begin the fight for Castile, and vow to vanquish all Castile's enemies.

History hasn't been the kindest to Isabella of Castile. Though she is associated with the discovery of the New World, she isn't remembered for her kindness. Gortner spins his usual magic, giving a sympathetic portrait of the Most Catholic Majesty. Raised by her mad mother, Isabella learns nothing of politics. In fact, her education is almost nonexistent. But what she lacks in education, she makes up for in determination. Thrown into the political arena, Isabella relies on powerful men to teach her. As Isabella matures, her confidence level increases and she becomes Castile's Queen in the truest sense. Thought decisive, she isn't rash. But her downfall is two fold- her husband and her inquisitor. Ferdinand is a great leader, but is rather stubborn and prideful. Torquemada constantly urges Isabella to rid Spain of the Jews. I will admit, I liked seeing Isabella struggle. One assumes ( incorrectly, perhaps) that Isabella was an evil woman. Gortner takes our eyes off the crown, and focuses our attentions on the heart of Isabella of Castile.
I received this book from LibraryThing in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Four Sisters, All Queens by Sherry Jones

The small Provence may not be a rich country, but it has great treasure. Four beautiful sisters, all destined to be Queens. Marguerite, the eldest and Queen of France, is ruled by her ruthless monster-in-law and forgotten by her pious husband. Eleanor, the fierce sister marries Henry, the King of England. She is loved by her husband, but hated by England. Shy Sanchia marries Richard, the harsh but wealthy brother of Henry. He buys the title of King of Rome. Sly and Ambitious Beatrice is given Provence by her father, and marries Louis' equally ambitious brother. Together they scheme and fight for the throne of Sicily. Her unchecked ambition, coupled with her inheritance make her the enemy of her sisters. Becoming a Queen is what these girls were made for. But being Queen is no fairy tale, it's is real life.

This fantastic book has it all: family drama, love, lust, betrayal, redemption and irony.  Sherry Jones brings readers along as the close knit sisters are thrown into the world of men. As the sisters are married off, competition ignites between the kings, forcing the sibling rivalry between the girls to explode. The result is tears, hysterics, and scheming politics. Jones does a wonderful job of bringing each sister back to life with all their strengths and flaws. Jones tells the story of Four Sisters, All Queens with freshness and vitality!!

I highly recommend this book to all HF Fans!

I received this book from the author. However, this in no way affected my review.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Allison Sekemoto lives in a world ruled by vampires. The vampires take care of those who donate blood, but hunt the unregistered humans who refuse. Allison and her unregistered crew scrounge for food during the day and avoid the vampires by night. A scavenging accident leaves Allie with a choice. "Just know whatever you choose, you will die today. The manner of your death however, is up to you." Ever the fighter, Allie chooses to become a vampire. Her sire, Kanin, teaches her the rules of the vampire world before being captured by an old vampire enemy. Allie flees the City, fighting rabids and raiders employed by the vampires. She stumbles upon a "family" seeking Eden, a mythical place free of vampires.Allie reluctantly joins the group, acutely aware of the predator/prey relationship, but longing for companionship.But, Allie is still a monster and must decide what type of monster to be.

The first book in the Blood of Eden series introduces us to a dystopian world ruled by vampires. A girl emerges in the sea of monsters, but refuses to give up her humanity. The plucky katana wielding Allie leaves the reader awed by her power, but sympathetic to her self loathing plight. The characters that she meets along her journey range from the deadly Jackal to the caring Zeke. All fit nicely into the story and up the ante just a bit.

Though this book is YA, but is not too light for an older reader. Nor is it too heavy for a younger but mature reader. Kagawa shows us all the faces of humans, giving monsters humanity and humans monster like reactions. Her writing is reminiscent of Memoirs of a Geisha, using lyrical prose that entrances the reader. Her dystopian view is reminiscent of The Road or I Am Legend. The book's themes of redemption, life, love and humanity breathes fresh life into the vampire genre.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.