Friday, October 24, 2014

(Review and Giveaway) The Sharp Hook of Love by Sherry Jones

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon and Schuster, October 7, 2014.
Genre: Historical Fiction, biographical, literary fiction.
Format: Advanced Reader Copy. Paperback.
ISBN: 978-1451684797
Pages: 384.
Rating: 5 Stars for excellent.
Source: Free copy from Simon and Schuster and France Book Tours in exchange for a review.
France Book Tours is managed by Emma at Words and Peace.

SHERRY JONES is also the author of Four Sisters, All Queens;
The Sword of Medina;
and her controversial, internationally bestselling debut, The Jewel of Medina.
She lives in Spokane, Washington.
Visit her website. Follow her on FacebookTwitter , Google +Pinterest, and Linked In
Subscribe to her newsletter.  Send her an email: sherry [at] authorsherryjones [dott com
Buy the book:  S&S  |  Amazon  |  B&N  |  BAM  | IndieBound  | Kindle   | iBookstore  | Nook

The giveaway link is located here @ The Sharp Hook of Love. 
It’s open internationally
We will have 10 winners: 
print or digital copy for US/Canada,
digital copy for overseas

Summary:
“To forbid the fruit only sweetens its flavor”
Among the young women of 12th century Paris, Heloise d’Argenteuil stands apart. Extraordinarily educated and quick-witted, she is being groomed by her uncle to become an abbess in the service of God.
But with one encounter, her destiny changes forever. Pierre Abelard, headmaster at the NĂ´tre Dame Cloister School, is acclaimed as one of the greatest philosophers in France. His controversial reputation only adds to his allure, yet despite the legions of women swooning over his poetry and dashing looks, he is captivated by the brilliant Heloise alone. As their relationship blossoms from a meeting of the minds to a forbidden love affair, both Heloise and Abelard must choose between love, duty, and ambition.
Sherry Jones weaves the lovers’ own words into an evocative account of desire and sacrifice. As intimate as it is erotic, as devastating as it is beautiful, The Sharp Hook of Love is a poignant, tender tribute to one of history’s greatest romances, and to love’s power to transform and endure. [provided by the author]

My Thoughts:
Young, Sweet, beautiful, intelligent, and naive Heloise, looses all common sense and becomes involved with an older experienced man named Pierre Abelard. I was not surprised at her attraction to Abelard. Heloise seeks affection and love. Heloise had been raised in a bleak monastery and is to become an abbess. Heloise is intellectual minded. But she is not wise to the world. There were moments in the story when I became exasperated with Heloise. I did not want her to become involved in a relationship that seemed unwise, yet she followed her heart.
While reading the story I had to place my age and logic on the back burner so to speak. I had to remember what it was like to be fully engulfed in passion. The Sharp Hook of Love is a story with the same resonance of Romeo and Juliet. I felt compassion for Abelard and Heloise, yet I had a nagging sense of fear for them.
I felt glued to the story, even though I felt troubled, I had to know what the future held for Abelard and Heloise.
The prose is evocative and dramatic.
The beauty of the story is in the closure. I had teary eyes as I read the last few pages.
The Sharp Hook of Love is an emotional read. It is a memorizing read. It is a haunting and memorable read.

Favorite quotes:
"The moon shone full and fertile." Page 124.
"A valuable jewel must be jealously guarded. She who makes herself a ewe will be eaten by the wolf." Page 36.
"The lofty thoughts which used to flood my mind and spill onto the wax will not come to me now. Instead, desire consumes me, and the pleasures of the flesh." Page 170.


VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE

Tuesday, October 7
Review at Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, October 8
Review + Giveaway at The Avid Reader
Spotlight + Giveaway at Caroline Wilson Writes
Thursday, October 9
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at Unshelfish
Friday, October 10
Review + Giveaway at Just One More Chapter
Saturday, October 11
Guest-Post + Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads
Sunday, October 12
Review + Giveaway at An Accidental Blog
Thursday, October 16
Review + Giveaway at Vvb32 Reads
Friday, October 17
Review + Giveaway at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Saturday, October 18
Review + Giveaway at The Book Binder’s Daughter
Monday, October 20
Review + Giveaway at Caffeinatedlife.net
Interview at Caffeinatedlife.net
Wednesday, October 22
Review + Giveaway at Words And Peace
Thursday, October 23
Review + Giveaway at Book Nerd
Friday, October 24
Review + Giveaway at Impressions In Ink
Sunday, October 26
Review + Giveaway at Indiereadergirl0329

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

(Review) The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees

Paperback cover. 
Publication: Amy Einhorn Books/G. P. Putnam's Sons a member of Penguin Group USA, April 1, 2010.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Format: Hardcover.
Pages: 352.
Rating: 4 Stars for Very Good.
Source: I won a hardcover copy of the book. It has been in my to be read pile such a long time I don't remember who sent me the book.

The book is available at Amazon.

Summary:
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, is loosely based on the life of the private author Louisa May Alcott. The time period of the story is July to November 1855. However, the story begins and ends with Alcott as a 48 year old woman reflecting on her life.
Louisa is the second daughter in a family of four daughters. Her oldest sister is sensible Anna. The younger sisters are Lizzie and May. Their hardworking and long-suffering mother is named Marmee. Their head-in-the-clouds father is Bronson.
The Alcott family lives in financial poverty. They depend on "charity" from family and friends. The family has recently moved to Walpole, New Hampshire.
Bronson is a speaker and author for the Transcendentalism movement. He makes little money, but he boasts and dreams large ideas.
The family is friends with the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. A new poet Walt Whitman is introduced. The girls are taught to value intellect, reason, free-thinking, and independence.
Louisa is anxious to begin her life away from the family and live in Boston. She is a writer and wants to pursue writing full-time.
On the cusp of her freedom she meets Joseph Singer. Will their relationship change her plans?

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed reading the story.
It is a quick read.
I saw many similarities between The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott and Little Women. 
There are strong descriptive scenes of humanity, bringing intimacy and warmth to the story. Marmee's body language, voice, reactions, and affects on her daughters made an impression on me.
Bronson is a selfish, emotionally unhealthy man. He is abusive in his neglect, but does not see himself this way. He has an inflated ego. His family is patient and forgiving to him.
After reading the story I can understand Louisa's behavior and choices. But I don't have to like them.
The story is not a happy ending. People who are readers of Louisa May Alcott already know a little about her life and will not be surprised by The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. However, there is a poetic beauty to this story that I loved.
"We must never give if we are hoping for something in return." A quote from Marmee. Photograph of Louisa May Alcott.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Edward II Blog Tour, October 28th-November 4th, 2014

An Edward II blog tour is scheduled for October 28th through November 4th, 2014. 
Edward II: The Unconventional King by Kathryn Warner is available to purchase through the following links.
Amberley Books

The hosts for the tour:
October 30---Susan Higginbotham
November 4---Olga at Nerdalicious

Kathryn Warner can be found at the following links:

Monday, October 20, 2014

(Review) The Anglo-Saxons, General Editor James Campbell

Publisher: Penguin Books 1991.
Genre: Non-fiction, Anglo-Saxon, England.
Format: Paperback.
Page: 272.
Rating: 5 Stars for excellent.
Source: Self-purchase.

The link to see inside the book: Amazon. 

The Anglo-Saxons is not available in an ebook. I don't feel an ebook would ever do justice to its vivid photographs. The paperback size is 8.2 x 10.9.  

Link to purchase at Amazon. 
Summary:
Three historians have compiled an in-depth chronicle of the Anglo-Saxon era. James Campbell, Patrick Wormald, and Eric John began with the Roman rule in Britain, and ended with the Battle of Hastings. Specific studies of Christianity, German settlers, reigns of kings, manuscripts, Vikings, warfare, and key battles are all explored.
The Anglo-Saxons is a large glossy paperback. A must-have for all readers of British history, especially those keen on the Anglo-Saxon era.  

My Thoughts:
I love this book. I repeat, I love this book! I'm giddy, and this is an unusual response from a gal who is reserved in nature.
I read the book cover to cover and zeroed in on the photographs and illustrations. Most of the photographs and illustrations are in black and white, some are in color. But all of them are fascinating.
An added gem to the The Anglo-Saxons, is the large amount of information gleaned on ecclesiastical history in Britain. I did not expect to read-in several areas of the book-a study on Christianity. A sub-chapter titled "The Making of the Early English Church," examines "culture" and "values" the Christian church provided. One of my favorite chapters was "The Age of Bede and Aethelbald." A synopsis of Bede's book is included in this chapter.
A personal goal of mine is to read and study ecclesiastical history. I have the book written by Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People. I hope to read this book later this year or in the new year.
The Anglo-Saxons vacillates between academic reading and narrative history reading.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: The Plantagenets, The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England by Dan Jones

Publisher: Viking, April 18, 2013.
Genre: Non-fiction, House of Plantagenet, Kings and Queens of England, medieval history.
Format: Hardcover.
Pages: 560.
Rating: 5 Stars for excellent.
Source: Self-purchase.

Available @
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Waterstones

A second book has recently been released, The Wars of the Roses. The book was published October 14, 2014.

The highlighted link will pronounce the word Plantagenet correctly.

Summary:
The Plantagenets, is a precise chronicle of their rule in England, from Henry II to Richard II. Dan Jones, began by giving an account of Henry I, and the "ship-wreck" that ended the life of his son and heir, William Aetheling in 1120. Henry II, born in 1133, was the son of Matilda, the daughter of Henry I, and her second husband Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou. After Henry I died, Stephen of Blois, staked his claim to the throne. There was a power struggle between Stephen and Matilda, and their armies clashed. "Eventually, in 1148, Matilda left England." Matilda's son, "Henry II was crowned at Westminster Abbey on December 19, 1154, with a heavily pregnant Queen Eleanor sitting beside him."
The history section at libraries and book shops are filled with non-fiction and historical fiction books pertaining to Tudor History. I love reading Tudor History, but my true passion is the Middle Ages. Reading a book that spans from 1120 to 1400 "is my cup of tea."
Henry II
My Thoughts:
While reading The Plantagenets, I looked for new historical information I'd not read before. One of the Plantagenet rulers who was not regarded with respect then nor now is King John. King John ruled 1199 until 1216. He reigned after his brother Richard I died. Their parents were Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor is one of my favorite historical figures, John is not a favorite. My first introduction to John was in the movie, The Lion in Winter. Nigel Terry portrayed John as a blubbering incapable person next to his brothers Richard and Geoffrey. Movies and books can change how we feel about historical people and events. I admit being influenced by the movies depiction of John.

I have not changed my mind in regard to thinking warm positive thoughts about John, but I do understand him a bit better. He loved an extravagant lifestyle. He took more baths than most people in this era. He had a problem with rage. John had a strong interest in law and wherever his royal court traveled, "a judicial circuit" prevailed. I was surprised to read he had sympathy for the poor. John "was a hands-on king, closely involved in day-to-day governance and keen to intervene in person wherever he could, from disputes between the great barons to stone throwing between boys." Taxes increased heavily during his reign, then followed seizure of lands. Taxes was one way he controlled England. Dan Jones expressed, "The second way in which John used the law to profit was far more political and eventually caused him far more problems. He used it as a direct tool by which to both tax and control the great barons of England."  
Reading through the generations of the Plantagenet kings and queens, I was able to compare their personalities as well as reigns.
Jones provides a fascinating narrative study of each royal figure. He examined their characters and the decisions they made.
Edward I, Edward II, and Edward III are kings I plan to read more extensively. I'd not been interested in Richard II until reading The Plantagenets, but I've decided to read more of his history in the near future.
The Plantagenents has been one of my absolute favorite books I've read thus far in British History. I'm anxious to read his next book, The Wars of the Roses. 
Richard II