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Arc Review: The Locksmith’s Daughter.

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  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Publish Date: July 31, 2018

From acclaimed author Karen Brooks comes this intriguing novel rich in historical detail and drama as it tells the unforgettable story of Queen Elizabeth’s daring, ruthless spymaster and his female protégée.

In Queen Elizabeth’s England, where no one can be trusted and secrets are currency, one woman stands without fear.

Mallory Bright is the only daughter of London’s most ingenious locksmith. She has apprenticed with her father since childhood, and there is no lock too elaborate for her to crack. After scandal destroys her reputation, Mallory has returned to her father’s home and lives almost as a recluse, ignoring the whispers and gossip of their neighbors. But Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster and a frequent client of Mallory’s father, draws her into his world of danger and deception. For the locksmith’s daughter is not only good at cracking locks, she also has a talent for codes, spycraft, and intrigue. With Mallory by Sir Francis’s side, no scheme in England or abroad is safe from discovery.

But Mallory’s loyalty wavers when she witnesses the brutal and bloody public execution of three Jesuit priests and realizes the human cost of her espionage. And later, when she discovers the identity of a Catholic spy and a conspiracy that threatens the kingdom, she is forced to choose between her country and her heart.

Once Sir Francis’s greatest asset, Mallory is fast becoming his worst threat—and there is only one way the Queen’s master spy deals with his enemies…

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I was so excited to read this book when I first heard about it and even more delighted when I was approved for an ARC. Apparently, this was published under a different publisher, but William Morrow picked it up. However it happened, here we are! Karen Brooks is a new author to me but one who will always be on my radar now. She’s an excellent writer, weaving a truly fascinating and heavy read. But don’t fret–the heaviness I speak of is a good one–this book is almost 600 pages! Yet, it’s a story that will stay with you and draws you in right away.

Mallory Bright is a brilliant narrator. She’s a young woman who has sullied her reputation–and thus by extension, her family’s, as well–but fortune seemingly shines upon the Locksmith’s Daughter. Where other women would bear the brunt of their shame, Mallory is given the chance of a lifetime.

However, it is one full of intrigue, danger and comes with consequences that Mallory had no way of foreseeing she would ever be part of. In an era where there are Catholic plots to set Mary Stuart of Scotland upon Elizabeth Tudor’s thrones, Mallory learns quickly that her actions have far-reaching and devastating consequences. But for Queen and country, is she willing to take that step? Redemption is something she longs for but is it worth the cost?

I was absolutely over the moon to see a book where ample time would be dedicated to Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster. As a historical figure, he is seldom appreciated for all of his efforts to keep Queen and Country safe. He is an interesting figure and I loved getting to read about him and the lengths he went to in order to achieve his means.

This was well researched and quite frankly, one of the best reads I’ve had in ages. Each character, be they fictional or a real figure, jumps off the pages and is amazingly vibrant. The scenery is also presented in an unflinching way, so you’ll be able to truly envision the sights and smells. I also appreciated the usage of Elizabethan era terms and actions. I truly stepped back in time!

A wonderful and amazing novel. I couldn’t put it down. Bravo!

  • I’d give it ★★★★ stars.
  • I was provided a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 😀 (Thank ya’ll!)
  • I would recommend this to a friend!

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Amazon || Books-A-Million || Indie Bound || Barnes & Noble

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(E-Mail)box Monday!

tumblr_oq1sxdeuhz1qelqjto1_500Happy Monday…well, almost Tuesday, actually. I thought it’d be fun to share with you guys the ARC’s (advance reader copies) that I’ve been approved to read. I’m very excited to get into these. They’re all on my kindle and are ready for me to dive into! I can’t wait to read them. I’ve posted the descriptions of each book for you. If you’ve heard about any of these, let me know your thoughts! Are you excited for them? What books are you guys looking forward to?

What are ya’ll reading? Let me know in comments below!

Hope you had a good Monday! xxx

P.S: In light of the weekend’s events, I just wanted to take the time to tell you guys that I love you and if you ever need to talk, I’m here. We should remain vigilant and be mindful of history because those who forget it are doomed to repeat it. Be good to each other! x

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The year is 1739. Eliza Lucas is sixteen years old when her father leaves her in charge of cover111991-mediumtheir family’s three plantations in rural South Carolina and then proceeds to bleed the estates dry in pursuit of his military ambitions. Tensions with the British, and with the Spanish in Florida, just a short way down the coast, are rising, and slaves are starting to become restless. Her mother wants nothing more than for their South Carolina endeavor to fail so they can go back to England. Soon her family is in danger of losing everything.

Upon hearing how much the French pay for indigo dye, Eliza believes it’s the key to their salvation. But everyone tells her it’s impossible, and no one will share the secret to making it. Thwarted at nearly every turn, even by her own family, Eliza finds that her only allies are an aging horticulturalist, an older and married gentleman lawyer, and a slave with whom she strikes a dangerous deal: teach her the intricate thousand-year-old secret process of making indigo dye and in return—against the laws of the day—she will teach the slaves to read.

So begins an incredible story of love, dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

Based on historical documents, including Eliza’s letters, this is a historical fiction account of how a teenage girl produced indigo dye, which became one of the largest exports out of South Carolina, an export that laid the foundation for the incredible wealth of several Southern families who still live on today. Although largely overlooked by historians, the accomplishments of Eliza Lucas influenced the course of US history. When she passed away in 1793, President George Washington served as a pallbearer at her funeral.

This book is set between 1739 and 1744, with romance, intrigue, forbidden friendships, and political and financial threats weaving together to form the story of a remarkable young woman whose actions were before their time: the story of the indigo girl.

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In this beautifully written novel of historical fiction, bestselling author Susan Holloway Scott tells the story of Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Eliza—a fascinating, strong-willed heroine in her own right and a key figure in one of the most gripping periods in American history.

“Love is not easy with a man chosen by Fate for greatness . . .”

As the daughter of a respected general, Elizabeth Schuyler is accustomed to socializing

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with dignitaries and soldiers. But no visitor to her parents’ home has affected her so strongly as Alexander Hamilton, a charismatic, ambitious aide to George Washington. They marry quickly, and despite the tumult of the American Revolution, Eliza is confident in her brilliant husband and in her role as his helpmate. But it is in the aftermath of war, as Hamilton becomes one of the country’s most important figures, that she truly comes into her own.

In the new capital, Eliza becomes an adored member of society, respected for her fierce devotion to Hamilton as well as her grace. Behind closed doors, she astutely manages their expanding household, and assists her husband with his political writings. Yet some challenges are impossible to prepare for.

Through public scandal, betrayal, personal heartbreak, and tragedy, she is tested again and again. In the end, it will be Eliza’s indomitable strength that makes her not only Hamilton’s most crucial ally in life, but also his most loyal advocate after his death, determined to preserve his legacy while pursuing her own extraordinary path through the nation they helped shape together.

 

 

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cover116861-mediumThe family behind the Virgin Queen

It is 1559, and Elizabeth Tudor has just succeeded to the throne of England. Beside her are the family who will share the momentous triumphs and setbacks of her reign: the Allgraves. Richard and Margaret Allgrave’s lives and those of their children and grandchildren are destined to be closely bound to that of the queen, though with such power will also come grave personal sacrifice.

This is a tale of kinship, loyalty, heroism and reward, set in the time of Drake, Frobisher and the Armada; of Mary Stuart, sent to her violent death. It is also the story of Elizabeth herself, the woman behind the magnificent facade of velvets, silks and jewels. A woman who passionately loved just one man, but chose to devote her life to her country and its people. Together Elizabeth and the Allgraves created the Tudor Heritage – a nation whose power was to be feared and respected for centuries to come.

Told with Lynda Andrews’ trademark vibrant storytelling panache, The Tudor Heritage will appeal to readers of Phillipa Gregory, Emily Purdy and Anne O’Brien. Reissued nearly 40 years after their original publication, they showcase the emerging talent of a writer who has become one of Britain’s bestselling and most-loved authors.

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cover115011-mediumOn the Feast Day of Bride, 
The Daughter of Ivor, 
Shall come from her mound, 
In the rocks amongst the heather.
I will not touch Ivor’s daughter, 
Nor shall she harm me.

Two extraordinary women come back to full-bodied life. Flora McIvor has been rescued from the pages of Sir Walter Scott, who sent her to a nunnery. Her close friend, the real life Clementina Walkinshaw, was the love of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and mother of his only child. Both are caught up in a tangle of espionage and treachery following the defeat of the 1745 Jacobite Rising in Scotland.

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Time to play catch up!

If you’re like me, you’ve got an e-reader (and bookshelf) with books you just haven’t gotten around to reading yet. It feels like your TBR pile is massive and unending, right? Well, as you can see…there’s an upcoming challenge to help you solve this problem. 


My Goals!


  • I’m going to aim to lessen my TBR list by 25. I have a lot of books there. 
  • I will visit other participants pages. 🙂 
  • I will write two replies a week.

This is my first COYER, I’m very excited to be taking part! There’s still time for you guys to sign up too and on December 20th, we begin the challenge. You want to join in? Click the pic! Everything you need to know is right there. 🙂 Let me know if you sign up! xxx

 

 

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She Who Would Be Queen.


Publication Date: October 14th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-307-95676-7
Hardcover, 384 pages
Crown Publishing

Genre: Biography

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Biographies are often thought of as dry and boring reads. I tend to agree sometimes; there are some biographies that merely drive you mad and make you want to pull your hair out instead of want to read further. Fortunately, Kara Cooley who is very quick to remind you in the beginning that she had 22 years of experience in Egyptology. What I find amusing is that the blurb provided on Goodreads sums everything up nicely. It says, “An engrossing biography of the longest-reigning female pharaoh in Ancient Egypt and the story of her audacious rise to power in a man’s world.

Hatshepsut, the daughter of a general who took Egypt’s throne without status as a king’s son and a mother with ties to the previous dynasty, was born into a privileged position of the royal household. Married to her brother, she was expected to bear the sons who would legitimize the reign of her father’s family. Her failure to produce a male heir was ultimately the twist of fate that paved the way for her inconceivable rule as a cross-dressing king. At just twenty, Hatshepsut ascended to the rank of king in an elaborate coronation ceremony that set the tone for her spectacular twenty-two year reign as co-regent with Thutmose III, the infant king whose mother Hatshepsut out-maneuvered for a seat on the throne. Hatshepsut was a master strategist, cloaking her political power plays with the veil of piety and sexual expression. Just as women today face obstacles from a society that equates authority with masculinity, Hatshepsut had to shrewdly operate the levers of a patriarchal system to emerge as Egypt’s second female pharaoh.”

Ms. Cooley does a fine job of offering her theories of things, walking along the line of non-fiction and fiction flawlessly. It’s a hard task she has set herself up for, seeing as there is very little on Hatshepsut that exists beyond the above mentioned blurb. For some strange reason, they desecrated her images and any trace of her. Of course, since we do actually know about her and there were some images that remain. I was very fascinated to hear the theories and ideas she offered and gave me a far better idea of the Pharaoh’s life and her politics. There were moments where it did jump around and I had to reread the passage to be certain that I got it right. If you’re curious about Hatshepsut, I would recommend this book very much. It’s a fast read, surprisingly, and it will get you thinking.

4 out of 5!

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True love never dies!

“I love you more than ever; and so revenge myself on him. I will still love you with all the tenderness of my soul till the last moment of my life. If, formerly, my affection for you was not so pure, if in those days both mind and body loved you, I often told you even then that I was more pleased with possessing your heart than with any other happiness, and the man was the thing I least valued in you.” –Héloïse d’Argenteuil

 

6ad0d3a5557129f3cc63df13562543abI am finding it so difficult to come up with enough words to describe how much I adored this book. Sherry Jones is an absolute tour de force in this. If you haven’t tried her books before, I cannot emphasize enough how much you’re missing out by not reading them. She has written “Four Sisters, All Queens,”, “The Jewel of Medina”, “The Sword of Medina,” and an e-novella, “White Heart,” which is a prequel to Four Sisters. I have read all of these and I assure you, whatever Sherry writes next, I will be in line to read. She is an absolutely stunning author and a wonderful, warm person who I am honored to know…and share a birthday with!

Writing from Heloise’s point of view, she brings us to the first day that Abelard and Heloise meet and the road they traverse down. It is beautifully written and I found myself being brought to tears, laughing with them, feeling anxiety, wanting the happiest of endings…but alas, if you know the story then you know, that is a fate that will elude them both, unfortunately. They eventually have a child, secretly marry and are cruelly separated, with Heloise eventually taking vows and becoming a nun and eventually becoming an abbess, which is the last thing she wants to become.   Abelard is brutally attacked by some of Heloise’s uncle’s friends…there’s so much I want to tell you all but that would be unfair. I don’t want to give everything away!

There are moments where you will ponder, why is life so cruel? Why couldn’t they simply be allowed to be together? (Consequences be damned!) The medieval years were truly an oppressive time if you were a woman; bound to do as a man told you and what the church tells you to do. That Heloise was allowed to be the scholar that she was is astounding, as most women back them were restricted to learning housewifely duties.

Only in death were they brought together once more, being buried together. Though their story has survived the ages and their letters to one another remain, I like to think that they’ve been reunited in the next life (if you believe in such a thing).

If you do take the plunge and read this–which, you absolutely should!–I promise you that you’ll forget your surroundings and be brought to the time period and back to France. It’s a stunning piece of literature. Brava, Sherry!

Can’t wait until October 7th? Head over to Goodreads and enter the contest to win a copy! There are 30 of them up for grabs!

5/5! (Obviously!)

(ARC was received for a fair and honest review.)

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You’ll be enchanted…

Synopsis: Fantastic tales of demons and the Evil Eye, magical incantations, and powerful attractions abound in Enchantress, a novel that weaves together Talmudic lore, ancient Jewish magic, and a timeless love story set in fourth-century Babylonia.  

One of the most powerful practitioners of these mysterious arts is Rav Hisda’s daughter, whose innate awareness allows her to possess the skills men lack. With her husband, Rava–whose arcane knowledge of the secret Torah enables him to create a “man” out of earth and to resurrect another rabbi from death–the two brave an evil sorceress, Ashmedai the Demon King, and even the Angel of Death in their quest to safeguard their people, even while putting their romance at risk.

The author of the acclaimed Rashi’s Daughters series and the award-winning Rav Hisda’s Daughter: Apprentice has conjured literary magic in the land where “abracadabra” originated.  Based on five years of research and populated with characters from the Talmud, Enchantress brings a pivotal era of Jewish and Christian history to life from the perspective of a courageous and passionate woman.

 

Continue reading “You’ll be enchanted…”

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Mail Call!

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I spent most of my morning at the dentist, which is an hour and a half away, so I was up at 5.30 am and by the time I got home at 12.30 pm, I was sore and a little cranky and tired. I was also a bit sore…they’d poked, prodded, cleaned…yeah. I’ll be having some major work done in months to come. A root canal is coming soon and I figure I’ll use the time I spend in bed reading. I had some lunch (yay Taco Bell!) and got on my computer and proceeded to fall asleep for awhile. The mailman knocked on our front door and sent Tess (our female Jack Russell) into a tizzy and so, half asleep and utterly frazzled (her bark sounds more like a German Shepard!), I was surprised most pleasantly to see there was actually mail for moi! (I just saw Miss Piggy on the tv, so it slipped out, lol). Not one thing…but two! They were books! I was extremely excited to see these. Thank you to Stephanie and to Amy from HFVBT! (You should go visit Amy’s page. She’s an absolute doll, you’ll love her.)  

 

10612846_10153074797649428_4953396376809542983_nOnce I was done opening the envelopes (more like ripping them open in a frenzy), I double checked to see if there were any notes in there and I was even more delighted to see the scroll included with ‘The Tiger Queens’, which included the note from Stephanie. (Stephanie, I will of course post my reviews for you! <3) How amazing is that! It’s absolutely beautiful and definitely a first; I’ve never received a message in a scroll.)  I am very excited to tuck into this book and to post up my review. As for ‘East India’, I will read it a little closer to the date that I’m included in the Book Tour for it so my review is fresh and everything is still new in my head. 🙂 (I admit to being terribly absentminded at times.)

Blogging For Books

Frieeeed Chicken!

First off–thank you Blogging For Books! I recieved this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Now, let’s get down to business…

Fried Chicken.

I’m a woman in the south and I have to say, I love me some fried chicken. I love biscuits too. I’m obviously not alone in my love and admiration for this particular meal because there are more than 50 recipes for it (and some side dishes) in here from some well known chefs, some specialty places and hell, even Popeye’s! (Wylie Dufresne made that one; Popeye’s isn’t aiming to hand out their recipe.) Marcus Samuelsson, Art Smith are just two of the big names in here…oh! And there’s a foreword by Whoopi Goldberg. Who doesn’t love her? This book is just full of amazingness and it’s fun to see all the different types of Fried Chicken there can be. My only wish is that they’d included some Kentucky recipes in here too. However, from Louisiana to Senegal (!!), there are a lot of choices provided here.
Continue reading “Frieeeed Chicken!”

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‘I, Morgana’? More like ‘Author, Fail’.

You know what’s frustrating? When you see a book and you think, “OMG, OMG, this looks awesome!” And then…it’s not. I really, really wanted to love this book. You really have no idea how much I wanted to. The cover reminded me of Katie McGrath (of Merlin fame) when she played Morgana, which was a beautiful, wonderful performance. It also made me happy to see that someone was giving Morgana some attention. I thought for certain this would be a brilliant read. I thought for certain I’d walk away thinking, “Arthur, you creep. Merlin, I hate you. Gwen, why were you so mean to her?” et cetera, et cetera and so forth. You get what I mean. 

I love the Arthurian legends and Morgana LeFey (or Morgan, if you prefer). I think she gets a bad rap and she deserves some love because the circumstances kind of sucked for her, to be blunt. Everyone turns their back on her, so she turns to the one thing she is certain will never fail her–magic. So, I thought this book would finally give Morgana the voice she deserved and we’d hear her view.

Continue reading “‘I, Morgana’? More like ‘Author, Fail’.”

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The Boleyn King [review]

(*ARC obtained from NetGalley* (Please note I wrote this review awhile ago and I forgot to post it here when I first began.)

This was a really brilliant read. I loved it. I am a Tudor buff and I am quite open to reading AU stories and such. I always felt that Anne Boleyn’s life was cut short far too early and she might have had a son. This book gave me (along with other Tudor fans) the chance to read what it might have been like with Henry only having two wives along with the son he so longed for. A healthy, strong boy, unlike Prince Edward.

I loved how well drawn out all of the characters were, both real and imagined. Anne was just as fiery, Elizabeth just as strong and intelligent, Mary, religious and dour as we’ve read her to be. 

I enjoyed that when Anne was giving birth to William; her favorite lady in waiting, Marie, is giving birth to a child of her own, a daughter nicknamed Minuette by Elizabeth. She will be an integral part of this story too. The entire novel revolves around William, Elizabeth, Minuette and Dominic and tells of the friendship between the four of them. The book starts when they William and Minuette are 17 and William waiting until he is 18 to officially take on the role of King. The book leads us through the year and through the intrigues that only a Tudor court could hold! 

The ending was quite surprising and I am anxiously awaiting the next installation of this trilogy!