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Girls of Paper and Fire: A Review.

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Publisher
: Jimmy Patterson/Little Brown (US)
Pub date: 6 November 2018

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel.

But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

Presented by James Patterson, Natasha Ngan’s lyrical, searing, visceral fantasy, Girls of Paper and Fire, will remind us how precious freedom is–and the price we must pay to achieve it.

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 Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

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I will begin by saying that if violence or sexual assault is a trigger for you, that this may be a hard read for you.

If you push ahead, however, I promise you that you’ll find a stunning novel that is full of such promise that waiting for the next book is going to be agonizing. I hadn’t heard a great deal about this book, admittedly, but I saw the cover and I was instantly fascinated. I mean, look at those eyes! Lei-Zhi is our narrator and the one who possesses those very eyes. She is part of the lowest caste, Paper. Her life hasn’t been the easiest; given that her mother was taken away from the family when she was young and she spends her time working in the Herb Shop with her father and Tien, who seems to be a psuedo-mother figure to her, despite being of another (higher!) caste. Life can turn in the blink of an eye, however, and the little bit of peace Lei knows is shattered when she is taken to the royal court. She is to be a Paper Girl, despite there already being eight.

Thrust from one world into one where nothing is certain, rules are strongly enforced, and your life is not your own, Lei has to learn how to survive. Though initially hesitant, she finds friends amongst the girls, particularly amongst Aoki and Lill, her handmaiden. And, not only must she learn to survive, she must assimilate if she means to survive.  However, Lei somewhat endures, despite hiccups. Surprising to even herself, she finds love.

But in this place, love is forbidden and choices must be made. What will she do? What path will she take?

I absolutely loved the world of Ikhara and I hope we get to explore it more in future books. There’s so much I’d like to learn still and read. I also was excited about representation–this is an Asian inspired world and it’s beautiful. Also, can we get a ‘yaaasss‘ for Lei x Wren? I was so happy for some LGBTQ representation. I seldom read books where it is present and is so sweetly and respectfully written. The story is nuanced and paced nicely, painting a true image into Lei’s life. I truly felt a kinship with her, enjoying her spirit and how she refused to be broken, despite being close to it and honestly, having every reason to do so.

The world she lives in is not a pleasant one and I can say with great confidence, I would not wish to live there either. Court life is oppressive, catty, and one never really knows where they stand. The King is a cruel, cruel man. One who in some moments, we are presented with some facts that made you understand why he was, but mostly, he seems to just thrive off the power he possesses. I also love how demons and those of other castes could be different animal shapes. It is difficult to describe them, but to read about them, it’s easy to picture them. (I think I would want to be a bird of some sort. My luck would be that I’d have catlike features and fur to match, and I’d be allergic to myself.) Now, this isn’t to say that life is easy anywhere, because the King wields his power and attacks other villages and cities. Whether fuelled by paranoia or just cruelty, I’ll let you wonder, but I think you should go grab this book and read it.

To try and summarize it perfectly for you, I’d do a disservice. I am rambling as it is, but I’m still half in Ikhara as I write this. I can honestly say though, you will love this story and you’ll embrace the characters like they’re old friends. Well, some of them.

((You should take a look at Natasha’s Pinterest Aesthetic Board for this; it definitely adds to the visuals.))

  • I’d give it ★★★★★ stars.
  • I won my copy in a giveaway on Twitter! )And it’s definitely a ‘never getting rid of this copy/not lending it out’ kind of book.)
  • I highly recommend this to everyone!! Go. Stop reading this and go read THAT.

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 Natasha Ngan is a writer and yoga teacher. She grew up between Malaysia, where the Chinese side of her family is from, and the UK. This multicultural upbringing continues to influence her writing, and she is passionate about bringing diverse stories to teens. Natasha studied Geography at the University of Cambridge before working as a social media consultant and fashion blogger.

She recently moved to Paris, where she likes to imagine she drifts stylishly from brasserie to brasserie, notepad in one hand, wineglass in the other. In reality, she spends most of her time getting lost on the metro and confusing locals with her French.

She is represented by Taylor Haggerty at Root Literary. Her YA novels THE ELITES and THE MEMORY KEEPERS are out now from Hot Key Books, and GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE will be published in October 2018 by Jimmy Patterson/Little Brown (US) and Hodder & Stoughton (UK). Head on over to the Books page for more info!

Natasha is also co-owner of fashion, travel and lifestyle blog Girl in the Lens.

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Becoming Mrs. Lewis (Review)

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The love story of C. S. Lewis and his only wife, Helen Joy Davidman Gresham, was improbable-and seemingly impossible. Their Eros-story led to some of C. S. Lewis’s greatest works on love, grief, and faith, yet Joy is most commonly known for how she died. Becoming Mrs. Lewis allows us to see how this brilliant and passionate woman lived-and why she stole Jack’s heart.

In a most improbable friendship, she found love. In a world where women were silenced, she found her voice. In a God beyond the religion of her birth, she found faith.

From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis-known as Jack-she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy.

In this masterful exploration of one of the greatest love stories of modern times, we meet a brilliant writer, a fiercely independent mother, and a passionate woman who changed the life of this respected author and inspired books that still enchant us and change us. Joy lived at a time when women weren’t meant to have a voice-and yet her love for Jack gave them both voices they didn’t know they had.

At once a fascinating historical novel and a glimpse into a writer’s life, Becoming Mrs. Lewis is above all a love story-a love of literature and ideas, a love of God, and a love between a husband and wife that, in the end, was not impossible at all.

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It’s always disappointing when a book you were looking so forward to doesn’t live up to your expectations. I had been looking forward to this one since I’d first heard about it. As a child, I admit, I didn’t enjoy C.S Lewis that much; but as an adult, I am always keen to get a look into the lives of people I previously was ‘meh‘ about. I knew little of him–and I still do–and I knew nothing of his personal life nor his marriage to Joy. I was keen to get a look at that site of him.

Sadly, what I got was one of the most self-centered and irritating main characters ever. Now, it bears saying that in real life they may be totally different, so my review here simply covers the fictional version of the Lewises.

This was a rare DNF for me; which ass I said is a pity. Where did I go wrong? I just could not get into this. Perhaps it was because I found I couldn’t find anything about Joy that I liked. I also found her name ironic as she seemed to have little ‘joy’ in her life. I found ‘Jack’ just as irritable. Joy was one of those characters who need a good shaking and maybe a slap. She left her first husband and had the audacity to be mad when said husband moved on. (That annoyed me thoroughly.)

You guys don’t know how much I wanted to love this…well, I’m sure you do. You can just take this title out and replace it with something you looked forward to and didn’t reach your expectations.

Also, the flashbang conversion to being religious was something. I mean, it literally just happened. Then the going over it in letters…I lost interest.

I would like to say I would read another of the author’s books; clearly, she cares deeply for the subject of her story and the research was sublime. I just didn’t enjoy this.

  • I’d give it ★ star. 😦
  • I received this in exchange for an honest review.
  • I did recommend this to a friend. Just because I didn’t enjoy it doesn’t mean other people won’t.

 

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A Well-Behaved Woman (A Review)

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So, you guys have seen how excited I have been for this one. I’ve brought it up in several different posts over the last few months and well, here we are! It was released yesterday and I’m over the moon. I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy and I’m delighted to tell you that I wasn’t disappointed, I enjoyed the read. The author was truly brilliant, the book well researched and the world lively enough for me to lose myself for a while. Whilst I wish certain parts were a little faster paced, it didn’t take away from the book for me.

Ms. Fowler painted the portrait of turn of the century beautifully. I loved reading about the rules of society and what one had to do or know to get accepted into it. When one hears the name Vanderbilt, one doesn’t think if a family who has to struggle for acceptance. They are part of that legendary echelon that most of us will never be part of. Yet, it was quite a different time and I was not at all disappointed in learning about the maneuvering to attain and keep the desired status. Reading about Alva’s privileged life was certainly one of interest for me. I liked reading about the different balls and events, how she dealt with things. She was a strong woman, even though occasionally I did find her being docile when she shouldn’t have been.

You may find that the book is slow in places, that you’re left wanting. However, I attributed that to the fact that most women’s lives were like that. There were rules and one was meant to follow them. To have a woman like Alva, who is headstrong and thinks for herself, was quite uncommon. In a time when divorce was unheard of, Alva did it. She was an outcast for a time but recovered nicely. When she wasn’t granted a box in the Academy of Music, she founded The Met. Yes, that self-same Opera House in New York. (And I don’t know about you, but I damn love a level of petty. Who’s ever heard of the Academy of Music? Well, maybe a lot of people have, but The Met! C’mon!) Alva’s influence is still very present in this day and age. Her spirit and reach lives on, nearly a century after her death.

This isn’t to say that you will love her at every moment in the book. Despite nearly being destitute and facing a life where she might have needed to work for a living, Alva is surprisingly unsympathetic to the poor in certain moments. She also, for being rather progressive on some things, was a bit backward in how she raised her daughter. Despite not enjoying the silliness of one needing a husband, she was quick to try to get her daughter with the highest bidder, so to speak. She dominates this book and I found she was very well developed. I’d have liked a bit more on her best friend, Consuelo, who became Duchess of Manchester.

Also, ladies, she was a huge part of the suffrage movement. So when you vote next month, think of Alva.

So if you want a fast pace tone, this may not be the read for you. Don’t let that hinder you though, I really think you’d enjoy this. Especially if you like historical fiction. If you love The Gilded Age and reading about those prominent families of New York, like the Astors, the Roosevelts, the Rockefellers, and of course, the Vanderbilts, you’ll enjoy this. I enjoyed her Ms. Fowler’s previous work on her book about Zelda Fitzgerald, this was no different.

  • I’d give it ★★★★ stars.
  • I received this in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you!)
  • I would recommend this to a friend.

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

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Therese Anne Fowler (pronounced ta-reece) is the third child and only daughter of a Version 2couple who raised their children in Milan, Illinois. An avowed tomboy as a child, Therese protested her grandmother’s determined attempts to dress her in frills, and then, to further her point, insisted on playing baseball even though Milan had a perfectly good girls’ softball league. She was one of the first girls in the U.S. to play Little League baseball.

After a too-early first marriage and a stint as the single mother of two terrific (now grown-up) sons, she went on to earn a BA in sociology/cultural anthropology and an MFA in creative writing, both from North Carolina State University.  Her first novel was published in 2008.

A book’s fate is almost entirely outside its author’s control. Some are published with a lot of marketing and publicity support, but most are not. After the publication of three contemporary novels, each of which sold fewer copies than the previous one, Therese faced a hard truth: her career was in a nosedive. Her editor at the time felt she should take on a pen name and try again with the same sort of book, but Therese was not persuaded. She decided, instead, to write a biographical historical novel about Zelda Fitzgerald, Z, which was published in 2013.

Therese’s work has been translated into more than twenty foreign languages and is published around the world. Z is now available as an original dramatic series for Amazon Studios starring Christina Ricci, with Killer Films producing. (Amazon has elected not to continue with its order for a second season.)

What Therese has discovered is that she has an affinity for badass women from history whose stories have been either mistold or are largely untold. Her next novel centers on Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont, a determined, opinionated, compassionate, often amusing woman from America’s Gilded Age. A Well-Behaved Woman, a kind of homage to Edith Wharton with a dash of affection for Jane Austen for good measure, will be published by St. Martin’s Press on October 16, 2018.

Therese has been a visiting professor at North Carolina State University and occasionally teaches fiction writing at conferences and workshops. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and PEN America, she is married to award-winning professor and author John Kessel. They reside in North Carolina.

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The Storyteller’s Secret {Review}

51gc3g1ssxlThis was a very interesting read. I have to say that whilst I couldn’t always relate to Jaya’s struggles, I still liked her as the main character and I found her interesting. I loved how vivid the scenery was written and I liked how the characters seemingly came to life. Whilst not as lively as some books, it did well for this one. Whilst there are occasional moments where it’s emotional, it isn’t very overwhelming. You’ll be able to read through. However, Jaya is on her third miscarriage, so if that is a trigger, you may want to be wary.

The author is stunningly talented. I found that to be very apparent. Yet, I still found myself wanting. You know when something doesn’t quite click for you? That was this. I just couldn’t get into it 100%, I felt like Ms. Badani was holding back. I wish she hadn’t because I wanted that emotional read that was going to leave me reeling. I wanted to get lost entirely. Yet, I did not. But I still enjoyed myself, I enjoyed the story.

We get to see a journey of personal growth for Jaya and as I get older, I feel that way. I did relate there. I wonder who I am? What am I? I think it’s wonderful to be able to search and find oneself, or a portion of oneself.

My biggest complaints would be, I couldn’t really gauge the time frame. Were we in the present day? Because even though Jaya is a blogger, she makes it seem like no one has cell phones. Even in poor countries, people seem to have them. She also makes mentions of scarves that’d sell in the states for hundreds of dollars, selling for 5 or 10 rupees. That doesn’t sound correct to me, but I don’t know. I could be wrong.

Another mention that had me scratching my head was when Jaya’s grandmother brought someone from the ‘untouchable’ caste into her home…and no one freaked out. The castes, from what I understand, are very much respected and you don’t cross them. But again, I could be wrong. I’d welcome being corrected.

The ending of the book was pretty predictable, but if you like that, that is all for you. It disappointed me slightly but I still enjoyed it overall.

  • I’d give it ★★★ stars.
  • I received this in exchange for an honest review.
  • I might recommend this to a friend.
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Mirror, Mirror. [A Review.]

I got this book for $1.97 at Books-a-Million and I am sorry I spent even that much. This was a DNF. I suppose I shouldn’t even put up a review, but I am in the mood to do so. Maybe you guys will have enjoyed this and you’ll tell me what I was missing.

It started out promising but then it just weird. And it wasn’t even weird in a good way. It was just hard to follow along and it wasn’t enjoyable. It’s supposed to be a retelling of Snow White, and whilst there were some mentions of it, it just wasn’t really what I was expecting at all.

Bringing in the Borgias didn’t even help, which says something given that I find Cesare and Lucrezia amongst some of the most fascinating historical figures. I will totally give the author credit for his research. It’s good if you know who the Borgias are and the political atmosphere was then, but if you don’t understand it, you’ll still manage to be kind of lost.

I just didn’t understand the hype about this; my friends were raving and I was just left going, “….what the hell did I just read?” I hate when books feature beautifully written atmospheres but the characters are flatter than a Florida landscape. (And I can tell you–it is flat here.) This was some 1-D level of flatness. The main character, Bianca de Nevada, is nothing like Snow White, except for her looks, but she’s naive and lacks in personality. Seriously, it was kind of like…why was she even there? There was no development there and I doubt it would have changed in what remained.

Also, that mention of the unicorn and the hunter sexual encounter with him ejaculating was just peculiar. I gave up around there.

My library can count on this one in my next donation. Is Wicked any good? I have it on my bookshelf, but if it’s as boring as this one, I’ll donate it too.

  • I’d give it ★ star.
  • I bought this copy for myself. What a waste. :/
  • I wouldn’t recommend this to a friend.
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Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen. (Review)

Bird - Cover Art.jpgThe compelling, hidden story of Cathy Williams, a former slave and the only woman to ever serve with the legendary Buffalo Soldiers.
“Here’s the first thing you need to know about Miss Cathy Williams: I am the daughter of a daughter of a queen and my mama never let me forget it.”
Though born into bondage on a “miserable tobacco farm” in Little Dixie, Missouri, Cathy Williams was never allowed to consider herself a slave. According to her mother, she was a captive, destined by her noble warrior blood to escape the enemy. Her means of deliverance is Union general Phillip Henry “Smash ‘em Up” Sheridan, the outcast of West Point who takes the rawboned, prideful young woman into service. At war’s end, having tasted freedom, Cathy refuses to return to servitude and makes the monumental decision to disguise herself as a man and join the Army’s legendary Buffalo Soldiers.
Alone now in the ultimate man’s world, Cathy must fight not only for her survival and freedom, but she also vows to never give up on finding her mother, her little sister, and the love of the only man strong enough to win her heart. Inspired by the stunning, true story of Private Williams, this American heroine comes to vivid life in a sweeping and magnificent tale about one woman’s fight for freedom, respect, and independence.

I always am delighted when I learn something new about history. I knew that there were certain times when women disguised themselves and joined the war effort, but Cathy Williams was entirely new to me. This is a shame because I would have delighted in knowing about her when I was younger. Originally taken as ‘contraband’ by General Philip Sheridan during the Civil War to serve as a cook for the arm, she eventually disguised herself and joined the Buffalo Soldiers after the war ended for two years. I feel there’s quite a disservice in that gems like Cathy are overlooked and relegated to whispers on the wind of history.

Of course, it goes without saying there is a lot of prejudice. Even though African-Americans were freed, society wasn’t welcoming still. Out west, they’re delegated to ‘killing the red man to steal the land for the white man.’ What a joy, right? It amazes me how they could join the army, give up their lives and yet, still be treated so poorly. There were moments where I felt myself tear up at the injustice of it all.

I know you’re likely wondering, ‘how did she hide herself?’ It wasn’t easy. But she managed it. It was rather amazing, honestly. I’m always in awe of women who took that unto themselves. Made me think of Mulan, actually.

I could have done without the romance aspect, but it wasn’t something that really affected me too much. It helped push the story along. He is a man full of ideals that made him, in my opinion, way ahead of his time. He is hopeful and he dreams of justice. In a world where they could enslave people just for the color of their skin, justice didn’t seem realistic to me. He comes to this realisation too.”The Army can make a white man salute the uniform, but it can’t make him give a man the respect that goes with it.” It’s a shame to see that idealistic young man become jaded, but such was the way of life.

I loved reading about Reconstruction and the bad management of it by Andrew Johnson, (the first president to be impeached!), the historical figures and just about the time period in general. It definitely taught me about facts that I didn’t know about the time and I just really loved Cathy and her determined spirit. I wish there was more about her!

  • I’d give it ★★★★ stars.
  • I was provided a copy in exchange for my honest review. 😀
  • I would recommend this to a friend. 😦

Bird - Author Image (credit Sarah Wilson)SARAH BIRD’s previous novel, Above the East China Sea, was long-listed for the Dublin International Literary Award. Sarah has been selected for the Meryl Streep Screenwriting Lab, the B&N Discover Great Writers program, NPR’s Moth Radio series, the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, and New York Libraries Books to Remember list. She first heard Cathy Williams’ story in the late seventies while researching African-American rodeos.
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Lies. (An ARC Review!)


  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
  • Publish Date: September 11, 2018


WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS BASED ON LIES?

A gripping new psychological thriller of secrets and revenge, perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and Tom Bale

When Joe Lynch stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she’s supposed to be at work, he’s intrigued enough to follow her in.

And when he witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he knows he ought to intervene.

But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s young son has an asthma attack – and Joe must flee in order to help him.

When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is OK, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared.

And that’s when Joe receives the first message . . .

Gripping, unputdownable and packed with twists and turns from the first page to the very last, this stunning thriller will make you question whether we can ever really trust the ones we love . . .

I am not one to read books set in today’s day and age, nor do I often read mysteries. It’s a bit ironic since I have loved mystery series on television since I was a kid. (Murder, She Wrote, Columbo, Magnum P.I, Perry Mason, and Matlock. Law and Order SVU as well.) Seeing it on TV is one thing but I have a hard time picturing it in my head.

Well, let me tell you. I am a fan. This is a short review, I know. But this one of those books where if I tell you too much, you’ll probably think i”m a liar or you’ll sort it all out and I don’t want to disappoint you.

I will say that this is a mindblowing read. Whatever you think? It’ll change. If you figure it out before the book is done, then you’re a detective or Sherlock Holmes, haha. It is a truly brilliant read.

Mr. Logan has done what I thought was damn near impossible. He wrote in this present era and he kept my interest. Better than that, he kept me on my toes the entire time. I was intrigued, enthralled and quite frankly, awestruck by the time I got to the end.

I didn’t see it coming. I really and truly didn’t.

I did not expect that twist–or any of them, actually. I was quite delighted by how clever the author is. It was really a fascinating story and it leaves you thinking.

It makes you wonder if you really know people as well as you think.

TM Logan was born in Berkshire to an English father and a German mother. He studied at Queen Mary and Cardiff universities before becoming a national newspaper journalist. He currently works in communications and lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children.

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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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Forsaking All Other: Review & Excerpt.

Forsaking All Other
by Catherine Meyrick

Publication Date: April 1, 2018
Courante Publishing
eBook & Print; 291 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

Love is no game for women; the price is far too high.

England 1585.

Bess Stoughton, waiting woman to the well-connected Lady Allingbourne, has discovered that her father is arranging for her to marry an elderly neighbour. Normally obedient Bess rebels and wrests from her father a year’s grace to find a husband more to her liking.

Edmund Wyard, a taciturn and scarred veteran of England’s campaign in Ireland, is attempting to ignore the pressure from his family to find a suitable wife as he prepares to join the Earl of Leicester’s army in the Netherlands.

Although Bess and Edmund are drawn to each other, they are aware that they can have nothing more than friendship. Bess knows that Edmund’s wealth and family connections place him beyond her reach. And Edmund, with his well-honed sense of duty, has never considered that he could follow his own wishes. Until now.

With England on the brink of war and fear of Catholic plots extending even into Lady Allingbourne’s household, time is running out for both of them.

You can read the first chapter here.

The beautiful cover for the novel was designed by Jennifer Quinlan of Historical Fiction Book Covers.

Amazon (Kindle) | Kindle (Paperback) | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

About the Author

Catherine Meyrick is a writer of historical fiction with a particular love of Elizabethan England. Her stories weave fictional characters into the gaps within the historical record – tales of ordinary people who are very much men and women of their time, yet in so many ways not unlike ourselves.

Although she grew up in regional Victoria, Australia, she has lived all her adult life in Melbourne. She has worked as a nurse, a tax assessor and finally a librarian. She has a Master of Arts in history and is also a family history obsessive.

For more information, please visit Catherine Meyrick’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Review!

This was a beautifully written book; one that takes place in one of my favorite times in history. Perhaps one has gathered that by how passionate I can be about the Elizabethan era. With a backdrop of  the Catholics versus Protestants and always the worry of ‘Papist Plots’ to overthrow Elizabeth, I was certainly intrigued. I was always rather awestruck by how many plots were hatched or at least, thought were hatched.

Our heroine, Bess Stoughton, has been given a year to find a husband of her own choosing, upon her father arranging a marriage to an elderly neighbor. Meanwhile, Edmund Wyard is a veteran from the Ireland campaign. Whilst he needs to marry, he has no inclination to. But when he and Bess meet, there’s a connection. They’re from two different backgrounds, however, and statuses. So it does beg the question of if they’ll be able to overcome that?

Both are excellent characters, equally able to draw you in. The story is crafted beautifully and keeps you guessing. You need to grab a copy for yourselves so you can read this; it’s a wonderful story.

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

Excerpt!

Wyard studied Lucy Torrington. Was this the manner of woman his mother thought would suit him best? She was well-dowered and, no doubt, malleable. But she was not to his taste, insipid was probably the best way to describe her. It had been a mistake to allow Eloise to talk him into coming here, he should have gone straight to Bucklings Hall.

He glanced at Bess Stoughton. Of all the women present she was the most appealing. Despite his initial misgivings, she seemed honest and sensible. She was not predatory or flirtatious, nothing like that bold piece who had tried to get him to dance last night. Perhaps Bess Stoughton’s relationship with that serving man was some sort of protection—life could be difficult for a widow. And she looked at him with neither pity nor revulsion.

‘You know Mistress Torrington well?’

‘As well as any. Lucy is a good and gentle girl who deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.’

‘Who does not?’

Her eyelashes fluttered as if surprised at his comment. ‘Lucy would bloom best married to someone who loved her.’

‘Few have that blessing. Kindness and respect are the best that most of us can hope for.’

She bit her lip, frowning. ‘Are you considering marrying Lucy?’

Wyard shrugged, ‘She is one of a number of young women my mother thinks would make a suitable bride.’ He gave a wry smile. ‘It may be more accurate to say would make a suitable good-daughter.’

‘Do you have a list of requirements—number of hands high, girth, teeth, temperament? A list such as you would take to a horse market.’

It sounded ridiculous the way she described it. He gave a sudden bark of laughter. ‘In truth, I have no list.’

‘Do you always do as your mother wishes?’

‘Rarely, but it is probably time I married and she fears that, left to my own devices, I will either never marry or choose someone highly unsuitable.’

‘Who would be unsuitable?’

‘From my mother’s position, someone without money or connections.’

‘And from your own?’

‘I have not thought so far.’ If you could not marry the best, the most loving woman you had ever met, it really did not matter.

‘Well you should. Can you imagine what it is like for a woman married to a man who is forcing himself to his duty, who does not like her company or her person, who married her simply because his mother or his father told him to?’

He had never thought of it from a woman’s point of view. ‘Was your own marriage like that?’

‘You lack courtesy, Master Wyard.’

‘But you sound as if you speak from experience.’

‘That is none of your business,’ she snapped, colour flooding her cheeks. ‘If I were a man, if I had your freedom, I would do exactly as I pleased. I would never accept a bride who had been bundled up for me by my mother.’ She glared at him, ‘Now, if you will excuse me.’ She swept away towards the group of singers, her back straight and her head held high.

Wyard wanted to stop her, to explain it was never so easy. He watched her go, wondering why he had never imagined he could truly do as he wished.

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 paperback copies of Forsaking All Other! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Forsaking All Other

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A young woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for unwed mothers in 1883 Philadelphia. She is told she must give up her daughter to avoid a life of poverty and shame. But she chooses to keep her.

Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and banished from her Quaker home and teaching position, Lilli de Jong enters a charity for wronged women to deliver her child. She is stunned at how much her infant needs her and at how quickly their bond overpowers her heart. Mothers in her position have no sensible alternative to giving up their children, but Lilli can’t bear such an outcome. Determined to chart a path toward an independent life, Lilli braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep herself and her baby alive.

Confiding their story to her diary as it unfolds, Lilli takes readers from an impoverished charity to a wealthy family’s home to the perilous streets of a burgeoning American city. Lilli de Jong is at once a historical saga, an intimate romance, and a lasting testament to the work of mothers. “So little is permissible for a woman,” writes Lilli, “yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.”

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Maybe I’m strange because I didn’t really like his book. I’m seeing a lot of positive reviews and I’m thinking, “what did I miss?” The story is almost kind of generic. Girl and boy have premarital sex, girl gets pregnant, the girl thinks lover has abandoned her, girl has baby, girl falls on hard times, blah blah. Factor in that she’s a Quaker, it makes it slightly more scandalous but beyond that, it was, to me, rather dull. I will not take away that the author definitely did her research. It is very excellent on its detail. But beyond that; it doesn’t really take off. There’s nothing that invites you in.

I couldn’t find anything about Lilli that I liked and I couldn’t really connect with her in any way. I thought she was foolish from the start and never lost that idea of her. It made it decidedly hard or me to continue, but ever the optimist, I hoped there would eventually be a speck of something that I could relate to. Alas, I was disappointed.

Perhaps it’s because I am not, nor am I going to be, a mother. She becomes defined by the baby and to me, that’s dull. There was little in the way of rich descriptions of the characters or any character growth and I just was underwhelmed. I couldn’t really picture myself there, there was nothing to really evoke the feeling of being there. I love to be submerged in the world that I am reading about. Sights, sounds, feeling. There was none of that; only a lot of focus on breastfeeding mothers. Bloody Nora, boobs popped out like mad back then.

There are moments where I wanted to wring her neck, so that’s something. I say this because she continued to act so pure and innocent and it didn’t work for me. I would have done anything to protect my child and there were moments where I didn’t feel she was quite doing that.  I’d have liked to have seen her with more grit as her situations changed.

Also…there is a scene on page 240…seriously, it left me gagging. I won’t spoil it, but it’s gross as hell. Actually, I will spoil it. Her former employer’s husband drinks her breast milk straight from her breast. He straight up empties her breast. It was gross.

Anyway, if you think you’d enjoy this, have at it. As for me…this was a book that I will never pick up again.