Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Reconstructing Jackson by Holly Bush

Jackson Reed is a broken man after the Civil War. Returning home in a wheelchair, his father hands his birthright,including his fiancee, off to his younger brother. Needing clarity in his life, he travels West to Fenton Missouri, to live with his cousin who owns a hotel. There life is different. Former slaves are now free and help his cousin and wife run their hotel. Jackson's upbringing contrast with the freedom of the hotel. Jackson's melancholy is interrupted when Belle, a poor dirt farmer's daughter, is caught learning to read from Beulah, a former slave. Belle is beaten almost to death by her family and crawls to Beulah at the hotel. Jackson know he must protect her, and does the only thing he knows how to do.

Reconstructing Jackson is a book that focuses on a hard time in US history. Racial and class biases dominate this book. Jackson drastically changes through out the course of the book and Belle becomes even more feisty. This book had some unexpected twists and turns. It also had violence and racial biases and slurs, so be forewarned. The character redemption make this book well worth your time.

Reconstructing Jackson
Publication Date: September 25, 2012 | BookBaby | 191p

1867 . . . Southern lawyer and Civil War veteran, Reed Jackson, returns to his family’s plantation in a wheelchair. His father deems him unfit, and deeds the Jackson holdings, including his intended bride, to a younger brother. Angry and bitter, Reed moves west to Fenton, Missouri, home to a cousin with a successful business, intending to start over.

Belle Richards, a dirt poor farm girl aching to learn how to read, cleans, cooks and holds together her family’s meager property. A violent brother and a drunken father plot to marry her off, and gain a new horse in the bargain. But Belle’s got other plans, and risks her life to reach them.

Reed is captivated by Belle from their first meeting, but wheelchair bound, is unable to protect her from violence. Bleak times will challenge Reed and Belle's courage and dreams as they forge a new beginning from the ashes of war and ignorance.

Romancing Olive

Publication Date: November 1, 2011 | BookBaby | 205p

In 1891, spinster librarian, Olive Wilkins, is shocked to learn of her brother’s violent death at a saloon gaming table and her sister-in-law’s subsequent murder, traveling far from her staid life to rescue her niece and nephew, now orphans. She arrives to find the circumstances of her brother’s life deplorable and her long held beliefs of family and tradition, shaken.

Accustomed to the sophistication of Philadelphia, Olive arrives in Spencer, Ohio, a rough and tumble world she is not familiar with, facing two traumatized children. Her niece and nephew, Mary and John, have been living with a neighboring farmer, widower Jacob Butler, the father of three young children of his own and a man still in pain from the recent loss of his wife.

Real danger threatens Olive and Mary and John while Jacob and his own brood battle the day-to-day struggles for survival. Will Olive and Jacob find the strength to fight their battles alone or together? Will love conquer the bitterness of loss and broken dreams?
About the Author

Holly Bush was born in western Pennsylvania to two avid readers. There was not a room in her home that did not hold a full bookcase. She worked in the hospitality industry, owning a restaurant for twenty years and recently worked as the sales and marketing director in the hospitality/tourism industry and is credited with building traffic to capacity for a local farm tour, bringing guests from twenty-two states, booked two years out.  Holly has been a marketing consultant to start-up businesses and has done public speaking on the subject.

Holly has been writing all of her life and is a voracious reader of a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, particularly political and historical works. She has written four romance novels, all set in the U.S. West in the mid 1800’s. She frequently attends writing conferences, and has always been a member of a writer’s group.

Holly is a gardener, a news junkie, has been an active member of her local library board and loves to spend time near the ocean. She is the proud mother of two daughters and the wife of a man more than a few years her junior.

Link to Tour Schedule:
Twitter Hashtag: #HollyBushVirtualTour

I reviewed this book as part of the HFVBT for Holly Bush. Thank you to Amy!!


Monday, February 25, 2013

A Handful of Earth by Larisa Walk

Yaroslava, a Russian Princess, fights along side her father and people to save her town from the Tartar conquerors. When the town falls, Yaroslava is taken as a hostage by the Mongol Leader Batu Khan. Though he desires Yaroslava, he gives her a choice: Become his concubine or his slave. To save her dignity, she becomes a slave, living in a hut closely guarded by his Mistress of Concubines and milking goats. As time marches on, she becomes like a daughter to her guard and becomes a adviser to Batu. This inspires the jealousy of Batu's current favorite concubine. But Yaroslava's ability to see people's essences enable her to stay out of harms way for the most part. But she finds herself falling for Batu. Is Batu Yaroslava's destiny?

This book surprised me in many ways. Yaroslava is a determined girl, who will not be broken. I loved  how descriptive the author was, detailing the differences in the Tartar and Russian People and their lifestyles. I expected Batu to be a barbarian, as the Khan. His gentle nature and his kind treatment of Yaroslava surprised me. This book is full of wonderful characters, even the supporting ones. I hope to revisit Yaroslava one day!

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a  honest review. Thank you to  Netgalley.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Uneasy lies the Crown by N. Gemini Sasson

Owain Glyndwr lives the life of a Welsh Nobleman with a loving wife and 11 kids. Having fought beside Richard II, Owain has ties to the English Crown and lives in relative peace.When Henry of Bolingbrook usurps the crown from Richard II, Owain's life becomes difficult after refusing to fight alongside the English. Owain, now a Traitor, begins leading a Welsh Rebellion. But wars come at a cost, and Owain isn't exempt from such costs. Prophesied to be the deliverer of Wales, Owain wonders what price he must pay for Wales' Freedom. As his family crumbles, and those he loves fall, Owain doubts himself, the prophecy and his mission. A battle hardened man must decide what is worth fighting for.

N Gemini Sasson's latest book is a heart wrenching story of war, love, lust and honor. Owain was a family man, setting aside his duties to protect his family. His honor and honesty draw many supporters. Readers watch as Owain transforms from a family man to a warrior. His self doubt was gut wrenching and it was hard to follow Owain down the path he chose. The price of freedom and the price of love have never been so steep. This wonderful book broke my heart, but had me cheering for Owain and Wales' Freedom.  A Five Star Read!!

I received this book from t he generous author. This in no way affected my review!
Pick up some of N Gemini Sasson's other books about Robert the Bruce, The Black Douglas, Edward II and Isabella!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir

The Tower of London is a dark and sinister place. Katherine Grey is happily married alongside her sister, Jane, at the beginning of Jane's short reign. Jane's fall brings the end of Katherine's marriage, as no one wants to be married to a traitor's sister. Katherine's heartbreak is mended a bit after she is brought to Elizabeth's court as the unofficial heir to the throne.
Katherine's story runs parallel to Kate Plantagenet's story. The bastard daughter of Richard III, Kate is loved by her father, stepfather and cousin. Her father takes the throne, and vicious rumors spread about how exactly he obtained the throne. Kate watches helplessly as her father changes from a gentle loving father to a ruthless and suspicious king. Desiring to clear her father's name and her conscience, Kate tries to find the true fate of her cousins that were held in the Tower.
Katherine Grey finds herself in the Tower after marrying without Elizabeth's permission. With a child on the way, untrusting Elizabeth knows she poses a threat. Kate's questions over the fate of the Princes, as well as her correspondence with the traitorous Earl of Lincoln, her one time lover, lead her to the Tower of London. There not even her husband will support her.
Both women soon learn that Royal Blood doesn't guarantee safety.

While I  have several of Weir's novels on my TBR shelf, this is the first of her novels I've read. Set during the reigns of Richard III and Elizabeth I, this novelties the lives of two girls together. Though I am familiar with Katherine Grey, Kate was a new character that I had never even thought of. Both girls are undeserving of their fate. Katherine is a girl who wants to do right by her family. Though her family has fallen on hard times, Katherine still believes she will be crowned Queen after Elizabeth.  Katherine is unlucky in love and languishes in the Tower, though her lover is close. Kate, however, seems to have it worse. Daughter of a Traitor, she is married to a man who desired to be close to the Throne. Never loving Kate, his cruelty increases after Kate has lost her royal connections. Abandoned, she gambles with her conscience, her father's reputation and her life. In the end, both girls have a lot in common. Weir leaves the Tower shrouded in mystery, but spins an amazing story of two girls lost to history. Very highly recommended.
I received this book from LibraryThing. Thank you to them.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Captain Blackwell's Prize by VE Ulett

This nautical tale of love and high seas adventure features Captain Blackwell and his "prize", Mercedes de Aragon. Taken as a hostage after Captain Blackwell captures La Trinidad, Mercedes is a woman who knows what men want. To buy her protection, she takes up with Captain Blackwell. She loses her heart to the burly sea captain. Danger abounds about the Inconstant, especially during war.

This tale brings a lot of unexpected surprises. Mercedes is not your typical damsel in distress. She can sword fight, she wears men's clothes at times, and she isn't scared of being a woman. She is level headed and presents herself as an equal at all times. Captain Blackwell isn't your typical Sea Captain either. He can be gentle, and tries to accommodate Mercedes at all times.  This love story is a good slowly building love story, which doesn't rely on lust. The fighting scenes can be intense, but never gruesome. The plot twists make the book a short challenge, especially the last half where the action is concentrated. I really enjoyed this book!!

Praise for Captain Blackwell's Prize

“… a satisfying page-turner. Ulett’s characters are as convincing as her naval action is credible.” - Julian Mackrell, Historic Naval Fiction

“a fine story … Highly recommended for those who enjoy a romantic tale with a little action included as well.” - Jeff Westerhoff, Historical Novels Review

About the Author

A long time resident of California, V.E. Ulett is an avid reader as well as writer of historical fiction.  V.E. is a member of the National Books Critics Circle and an active member and reviewer for the Historical Novel Society.  Eighteenth and nineteenth century journals and letters inspired the writing of CAPTAIN BLACKWELL'S PRIZE. The sequel takes Captain Blackwell and Mercedes to the far side of the world, on a new personal, and cultural adventure.

I reviewed this book for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. 

Link to Tour Schedule:
Twitter Hashtag: #CaptainBlackwellsPrizeVirtualTour