Quick preview: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

I remember watching Anastasia when I was younger and totally getting sucked in. Heck, I watched it last year and still remembered all the songs. The idea of a princess surviving, when her family didn’t, gave me chills. The strength she would have to have. WOW. So when I heard that Nadine Brandes was wrote a story about Anastasia, I HAD to read it. And yet I knew it would be hard to read. I always get choked up at the idea of her family’s assassination. I can’t even imagine how terrified she must’ve been. Ugh.

Romanov was a magical twist of the story of an exiled princess. It tugged at my heart numerous times and it gave me hope. I think I loved it even more because it wasn’t all real, there was a bit a magic woven into the story. I was not expecting that at all. But I’m honestly happy it was there. If this was a 100% true account, I would’ve been crying the whole time.

While the story was a retelling, some parts were very real and mildly graphic. If giving this to a younger teen, give them a little heads up about what really happened. I know my stomach dropped while reading. I was prepared, and yet I wasn’t, for the firing squad scene.

This retelling is now one of my favorites. I look forward to what Nadine gives us next.

You definitely should add Romanov to your TBR!
Release date: May 7, 2019

~Melpomene

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Review – Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett.

You know the term “book hangover”? Well, suffice to say that I’m now experiencing it after finishing the final book in Follett’s The Century Trilogy. 3000 pages, countless characters, many different countries and time periods later, I have come to the end of this literary tour de force.
In the third installment, Follett allows us to experience life between 1960 and 1989 for all the different families. Pretty much every major event is covered, albeit in different levels of detail (I think it is fair to say that Follett’s interest in WWII is more apparent than his interest in the Vietnam War). We see the characters develop with the times, and indeed how their offspring handle various stumbling blocks in similar, or different ways than the previous generations.
As stated above, this series does run in at about 3000 pages. Don’t let that scare you though. Yes, it does seem to consume all your time, and you will become very invested in these characters. At the same time though, you will find that you fly through it and you’ll then find yourself wanting so much more.
The best way to describe how I’m feeling, and this will be a feeling many of us have shared, is that of knowing when something is so perfect that it has to end. That holiday romance that is full of passion, that meal at a once in a lifetime restaurant, that week on a tropical island… You don’t want it to end because it is perfect, but you also want it to stay a perfect memory, so you know it has to end…
I’m not sure how my brain is going to function without being in Follett’s world everyday, but I know that I’ll get over it and that it will always be a great memory.
Let yourself get swept away and give this series your undivided attention!

You can get all 3 books for about $20

The Century Trilogy (3 Book Series)

Review: Mrs. McKeiver’s Solutions by Margaret Morgan

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This story set in 18th century England was such a treat! Mrs. McKeiver is the local midwife and general mother figure for the villagers. Her son doesn’t have the use of his legs and vacillates between depression and moving forward with his life.

The plot seemed secondary to the characters and setting. Basically, Mrs. McKeiver was remarrying, and her son had to figure out where to go when his mother moved. Other characters had babies, were forced to move to a different home, changed their religious inclinations, and were punished for their crimes.

I’m not big on non-fiction, so this fictional account was the perfect way for me to learn about English villages in the 1700s. The filth stands out in my mind, especially. People stank of sweat, urine, vomit, and disease. Animals stank, period. Food rotted and clothes deteriorated. Author Margaret Morgan employs Chaucer’s manner of slipping in crude bodily remarks in a matter-of-fact way… and always elicited from me a delayed but genuine laugh!

Besides the daily living outlined in the story, I was intrigued by the power that “the church” had on the villagers. Bishops, supposedly representing the Church, were totally in charge of everything, from disbursement of food and jobs to determining where people would live! Of course this autonomy led to corruption, another thread in this novel.

My only complaint is that I was rendered impatient by the rambly writing. I sometimes found myself not wanting to pick up at the next chapter because I knew it require some effort to work through all the words to get to the meat of the story. And so, Mrs. McKeiver’s Solutions was a long-winded but eye-opening, educational, amusing glimpse of a pretend village in a very real period in history.

-Calliope

buy MRS.MCKEIVER’S SOLUTIONS

Review – LIFE The Day Kennedy Died: Fifty Years Later: LIFE Remembers the Man and the Moment by the editors of LIFE.

17333556I am a self-confessed conspiracy nut, and make no apologies for it.  Saying that however, I am an intelligent conspiracy nut – I like to review the evidence and make my own conclusions.  Now, we’ve all seen in the last few weeks a flurry of books being hastily released in order to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the day that President Kennedy was assassinated.   Most of these have no merit, and are purely released to garner some money and attention.   This is not to say that this book released by LIFE magazine isn’t making money – you still have to pay for it – but I would rather pay for another JFK book by a respected author/collaboration such as LIFE magazine.

Before we get into the review proper, I must warn you that this is a book with media – the original, unedited Zapruder film; it is only downloadable to tablets, Fires, etc… I’m not sure how the DTB edition deals with it.

This book covers events from the emigration of the Kennedy family from Ireland, right up until the horrible day in 1963.  We are treated with many previously unseen personal photos, some in colour, some black and white, with a running commentary.   As it is told in chronological order, there is a sense of a real narrative here, and it actually makes the read all the more shocking.  Like I said above, I am conspiracy/history buff, so I thought I had known pretty much all there was to know about JFK, but I was wrong!  LIFE magazine has a reputation for preserving history through photographs and articles, and I learnt a few new interesting things last night.

Due to the linear narrative, when it comes time to watch the Zapruder film, it really does pack quite the punch.  Even though I knew what was going to happen, I still audibly recoiled and felt a bit sick.   This was real life, with real people, and EVERYONE was affected somehow.  That is proved in the chapter that collects the “where I was on that day” stories from random people from reporters, to Barbara Streissand, to Bill O’Reily.   The Kennedy’s may have been economically out of touch with many Americans, but even when you have staunch republicans, and Russian leaders say that they were dismayed when died, you know that he was someone unique, and someone to look up to.

~ Pegasus.

Buy it here:  LIFE The Day Kennedy Died: Fifty Years Later: LIFE Remembers the Man and the Moment<

Review: The Untamed Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

imageLady Louisa Scranton’s father, an earl, died in shame. He had swindled investors out of their money. Louisa is looking to marry well to help her overcome the scandal.

The Bishop of Hargate was one of her father’s investors. He tries to blackmail her into marrying by promising that the debt owed against him will be forgiven. Before Louisa can give him an answer, Hargate falls dead at her feet.

Sent to investigate investigate the crime is Detective Inspector Lloyd Fellows. Lloyd is the half-brother of the four infamous MacKenzie men. Louisa’s older sister married Lord Mac MacKenzie. Louisa and Lloyd shared a passionate over Christmas that neither can stop thinking about.

Hargate was poisoned. All evidence suggests that Louisa had the motive and opportunity to murder the bishop. Lloyd knows she is innocent and goes to lengths to protect her. He even re-stages the crime scene so that it appears that the killer might have quickly entered and left. By doing this, it also allows Lloyd time to discover the real killer.

All of the Mackenzies appear in this novella. They are a loving and boisterous group. They either are trying to help Lloyd with the case or trying to play matchmaker to Louisa and Lloyd. Daniel Mackenzie does both. His appearance made me want his book NOW.

The only dis-satisfaction I had was with the mystery. Much of the detecting by Lloyd and others was done off-stage. There were no real clues to track. It was all told at the end how Lloyd discovered who the killer was.

If you have not read the MacKenzie series, I would not recommend starting with this novella. Start with the first book so that you can understand the family dynamics. You can also see where it all started for Lloyd and Louisa.

4/5 stars

~Thalia

Buy It Now The Untamed Mackenzie (Mackenzies Series)

Buy Book 1 The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Mackenzies Series)

Review: Never Kiss a Rake by Anne Stuart

imageLet me begin this review with a confession. Anne Stuart is one of my book crack authors. After I devoured my first Stuart book decades ago, I searched for more. She is my most expensive book glom. Well worth every penny spent and every minute searching on eBay.

Bryony Russell and her two younger sisters are left close to penniless after their father passed away six weeks ago. Their father was a wealthy shipping magnate who was accused embezzling money from his company. Everyone believes that he died from a carriage accident while trying to flee England.

Her father left a note:
“Don’t trust any of them. Someone’s stealing money, and it looks like Kilmartyn’s in league with them, no matter what excuses he makes. Don’t trust Morgan either. Never trust a pirate. Something’s going on, and I’ll get to the bottom of it…”
This note leads them to believe that their father may have been murdered. Bryony plans to investigate Adrian Bruton, Earl of Kilmartyn, and discover if he is responsible for her father’s death and also if he embezzled the money.

Adrian has a difficulty maintaining a housekeeper. Bryony’s plan is to apply for that position. She figures that she’s better suited for housekeeper than maid because she “knows more about running a household than…dusting and cleaning.”

Bryony disguises herself as a widow and goes to the Kilmartyn home. When Bryony interviews with Adrian’s wife, she is turned down the position because his wife doesn’t want to be surrounded by ugliness. The ugliness is the smallpox scars on Bryony’s face. Luckily for Bryony, Adrian intervenes and hires her.

Adrian does this mainly to spite his wife. He was forced to marry her after she blackmailed him with her knowledge of his deep dark secret.

Since Bryony must report directly to Adrian, they spend much time together. That spark of interest at the interview becomes simmers.

Adrian is the epitome of the Stuart hero: dark, brooding and ambiguous. Sometimes you’re not sure if you should root him. He knows that Bryony is not whom she claims she is.

I enjoyed the time spent with Bryony and Adrian as they try to figure out what each other is really doing. Neither trust each other. Both are very much attracted to each other.

The weakest part of the book is the wife. She’s very one-dimensional. It’s never revealed how she found out about Adrian’s secret.

Because this is the first book in the trilogy, there is a teensy thread unresolved. I look forward to reading the next book. A Russell sister investigates a pirate.

3.5/5 stars

ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley.

~Thalia

Buy It Now Never Kiss a Rake (Scandal at the House of Russell)

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