Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

HFVBTour for BEYOND DERRYNANE by Kevin O’Connell

04_beyond-derrynane_blog-tour-banner_final

I’m so happy to be taking part in the Historical Fiction Blog Tour for DERRYNANE, a story of Ireland in the 1700’s and the start of a saga. It is a beautifully written and engaging story, and the start of a larger chronicle. Here’s the scoop:

02_beyond-derrynane

Beyond Derrynane by Kevin O’ Connell

Publication Date: July 7, 2016
Gortcullinane Press
eBook & Paperback; 348 Pages

Series: The Derrynane Saga, Volume 1
Genre: Historical Fiction

Add to GR Button

Wed in an arranged marriage to a man nearly fifty years her senior, sixteen-year-old Eileen O’Connell goes from being one of five unmarried sisters to become the mistress of Ballyhar, the great estate of John O’Connor, one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Ireland.

When O’Connor dies suddenly seven months into their marriage, Eileen must decide whether she will fulfill her brother’s strategic goals for her family by marrying her late husband’s son.

Headstrong and outspoken, Eileen frustrates her brother’s wishes, as, through the auspices of her uncle, General Moritz O’Connell of the Imperial Austrian Army, she, along with her ebullient elder sister, Abigail, spend the ensuing richly-dramatic and eventful years at the court of the Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna.The sisters learn to navigate the complex and frequently contradictory ways of the court–making a place for themselves in a world far different from remote Derrynane. Together with the general, they experience a complex life at the pinnacle of the Hapsburg Empire.

Beyond Derrynane – and the three books to follow in The Derrynane Saga – will present a sweeping chronicle, set against the larger drama of Europe in the early stages of significant change, dramatising the roles, which have never before been treated in fiction, played by a small number of expatriate Irish Catholics of the fallen “Gaelic Aristocracy” (of which the O’Connells were counted as being amongst its few basically still-intact families) at the courts of Catholic Europe, as well as relating their complex, at times dangerous, lives at home in Protestant Ascendancy-ruled Ireland.

In addition to Eileen’s, the books trace the largely-fictional lives of several other O’Connells of Derrynane, it is the tantalisingly few facts that are historically documented about them which provide the basic threads around which the tale itself is woven, into which strategic additions of numerous historical and fictional personalities and events intertwine seamlessly.

*************************************************

Me again — I loved the character of Eileen in this book. She was quite strong and independent. As someone who’s great grandparents came from Ireland, I thought I was fairly familiar with Irish history, but I really did not know about the expat Irish who went to court in Europe (full disclosure: I came from a fairly long line of farmers not aristocracy!). This book was so interesting and also well-written.

Thank you for making me part of the tour and for my review copy!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

About the Author

03_kevin-o%27connell

Kevin O’Connell is a native of New York City and a descendant of a young officer of what had—from 1690 to 1792—been the Irish Brigade of the French army, believed to have arrived in French Canada following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October of 1793. At least one grandson subsequently returned to Ireland and Mr. O’Connell’s own grandparents came to New York in the early twentieth century. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.

He is a graduate of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.

For more than four decades, O’Connell has practiced international business transactional law, primarily involving direct-investment matters, throughout Asia (principally China), Europe, and the Middle East.

Mr. O’Connell has been a serious student of selected (especially the Eighteenth Century) periods of the history of Ireland for virtually all of his life; one significant aspect of this has been a continuing scholarly as well as personal interest in the extended O’Connell family at Derrynane, many even distant and long-ago members of which, especially the characters about whom he writes, he has “known” intimately since childhood.

The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 16
Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, January 17
Review at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, January 18
Review at Luxury Reading
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, January 19
Review at Books, Dreams, Life

Friday, January 20
Review at The Book Junkie Reads

Sunday, January 22
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, January 23
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Tuesday, January 24
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook

Wednesday, January 25
Review at A Bookaholic Swede
Excerpt at A Literary Vacation

Friday, January 27
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Monday, January 30
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Tuesday, January 31
Review at Book Nerd

Leave a comment »

BECOMING JOSEPHINE by Heather Webb

81h09Zgm1qL.jpg

Continuing my fascination of “the woman behind the man”, I found BECOMING JOSEPHINE on sale for my kindle a while back. I loved Heather Webb’s RODIN’S LOVER (review here) and was excited to read her debut novel.

Here’s the overview via Amazon:

A sweeping historical debut about the Creole socialite who transformed herself into an empress

Readers are fascinated with the wives of famous men. In Becoming Josephine, debut novelist Heather Webb follows Rose Tascher as she sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris, eager to enjoy an elegant life at the royal court. Once there, however, Rose’s aristocratic soldier-husband dashes her dreams by abandoning her amid the tumult of the French Revolution. After narrowly escaping death, Rose reinvents herself as Josephine, a beautiful socialite wooed by an awkward suitor—Napoleon Bonaparte.

*****************************

So — I have to admit that beyond knowing that Josephine was married to Napolean, and that he loved her deeply, I knew nothing about her. What a fascinating woman! She lived in very turbulent times and she endured a major amount of hardships and trials, including slave revolts, imprisonment during the Revolution, assassination attempts, and a horrible accident where her balcony gave way with her on it. Ms. Webb states a reminder that this is historical fiction, but most of the events of the story are true. What fascinated me most is how determined and resourceful Josephine was (she was also intelligent and self-centered). She would do what she needed to do in order to benefit herself and her children. I was also surprised at the amount of lovers she took. It felt like Tudor reading with all the bed hopping going on! Josephine used her relationships, though, to survive and to support herself.

Interesting reading, especially if you have never read much about Josephine in the past. I found myself looking up more information online.

You can find this book online or at a bookstore or library near you.

Leave a comment »

Spotlight on THE SWORD AND SCABBARD by Allen Woods

cover.jfif

I’m happy today to be taking part in the blog tour for THE SWORD AND SCABBARD – a story of Revolutionary Boston.

Here’s what the publicist has to say:

The Sword & Scabbard: Thieves and Thugs and the Bloody Massacre in Boston

by Allen Woods

The Real Sons of Liberty:

HISTORICAL THRILLER EXPLORES CRIMINAL, POLITICAL INTRIGUE IN THE MARCH TOWARDS REVOLUTION

In every basic U.S. History class, children and teenagers learn about the American Revolution and how the colonists came together to fight unfair taxation by their British counterparts, creating a country founded on the values of freedom, liberty and justice. One of the most notorious events leading up to this revolution was the Boston Massacre, which helped light the spark that fueled a rebellion. But what do we know about the events the paved the way to this historic moment?

The Sword & Scabbard: Thieves and Thugs and the Bloody Massacre in Boston by Allen Woods is the first in a series of novels that answers this question, weaving a story of crime, intrigue and politics to look at an unexplored section of history in a compelling new way.

The streets and taverns of Boston prior to ‘The Bloody Massacre’ were filled with brawls and scrapes, hot words and cold calculations. Nicholas Gray and Maggie Magowan run The Sword and Scabbard, a tavern that is the center of both criminal and political scheming. Each is a fugitive from a dangerous past and their relationship grows fitfully in the midst of historic events. The pair remain suspicious of politicians on both sides of the Atlantic, but are eventually caught in a world where politics and crime meet.

“The road to the Revolution was not a smooth one,” Woods explains. “There were almost constant conflicts within the British and American sides, while many ‘ordinary’ people just wished they could live simple lives without all of the political speeches and protests. But inevitably, they were drawn into the conflict.”

In this thrilling, yet in-depth look at life in the colonies and the onset of the American Revolution, The Sword & Scabbard reveals that:

  • Samuel Adams and other leaders saw themselves at war long before bullets flew, and they were willing to use physical intimidation and threats by gangs of unemployed sailors and dockworkers to further their goals.
  • The Sons of Liberty had no belief in freedom of the press if someone published information harmful to their cause
  • Revolutionary Boston was a city in turmoil, not a mythical place of pure and uniform Revolutionary ideals, and was filled with both self-serving and heroic people, as well as many others who just wished they could be left alone.
  • Resistance to the taxes of the Stamp Act (which led to the Massacre and eventually the Revolution) through an import boycott helped John Hancock and other large merchants run smaller competitors out of business.

Allen Woods has been a full-time freelance writer and editor for almost 30 years, recently specializing in social studies and reading textbooks for all ages. The inspiration for The Sword & Scabbard came while doing research for an American history text. He resides in Massachusetts and has been married to his wife, Irene, for over 30 years.

For more information about Allen Woods and The Sword & Scabbard: Thieves and Thugs and the Bloody Massacre in Boston, please visit http://www.theswordandscabbard.com

or his Facebook, LinkedIn and Goodreads pages.

The Sword & Scabbard: Thieves and Thugs and the Bloody Massacre in Boston is available for purchase at lulu.com, as well as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

 

Me again!

I am reading this book now and really enjoying it. It has the gritty, tough side of Boston in the 1700’s. Life was not easy for those folks and I always appreciate historical fiction that can adequately show both sides of a disagreement. The characters are memorable (and fun, I have to say!). I look forward to more in this series!

If you like historical fiction of this period (American Revolution), then pick this one up today!

Thank you for my review e-copy and having me be part of the blog tour!

Leave a comment »

HFVBTour for A MASTER PASSION by Juliet Waldron and Giveaway!

04_A Master Passion_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

A Master Passion: The Story of Alexander and Elizabeth Hamilton: Book One: Love and Liberty
by Juliet Waldron

Publication Date: March 25, 2015
Books We Love
eBook & Print; 428 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Add to GR Button

THE MASTER PASSION is the story of the marriage of our brilliant first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, and his courageous wife, Elizabeth Schuyler. It begins with a whirlwind Revolutionary War courtship at Washington’s headquarters. Conflict, however, is built into this marriage.

Betsy’s passion is Alexander. While Hamilton adores his wife and children, there are times when he loves America more.

“…And hence one Master Passion in the breast
Like Aaron’s serpent, swallows up all the rest…” ~~Alexander Pope

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

03_Juliet Waldron

Juliet Waldron has lived in many US states, in the UK and the West Indies. She earned a B. A. in English, but has worked at jobs ranging from artist’s model to brokerage. Thirty years ago, after her sons left home, she dropped out of 9-5 and began to write, hoping to create a genuine time travel experience for her readers. Juliet’s a grandmother, a cat person, and fascinated by reading history and archeology. Juliet spends a lot of time visiting other centuries, but she’s also certain she doesn’t want to live there.

Juliet gardens, bicycles and is involved in local advocacy groups. She and her husband of fifty years enjoy the winding backroads of PA aboard their Hayabusa superbike.

For more information visit Juliet Waldron’s website. Juliet also blogs at Possum Tracks andCrone Henge, and you can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

———————————————————————————————–

02_A Master Passion

Oh my goodness — I have to say that I didn’t know much about Alexander Hamilton before reading this book. I knew he was one of our founding fathers and I thought I remembered that he had something to do with money or the Treasury and had a conflict with Aaron Burr. This book was a fascinating and intimate look at Hamilton and his wife, Elizabeth Schuyler. When I first started reading about his childhood in the West Indies (orphaned, abused, destitute) I had to look him up to make sure this was all real. What a brilliant and fascinating man — and what an interesting and intelligent wife he had. I loved their love story. Of course, like reading about Titanic, I knew something bad was coming, so I was quite anxious during the last quarter of the book. What a story, though, and I was shocked to see how lengthy it is because it moved quite swiftly.

I loved this love story about this couple and Hamilton’s role in the shaping of the new United States.

Highly recommended for history lovers! Thank you so much for making me part of this tour and for my review e-copy. I feel like I learned so much and have a new respect for both Alexander Hamilton and his Betsy.

GIVEAWAY

To enter to win a paperback copy of A Master Passion & $5 Amazon Gift Card, please enter via the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on October 2nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– 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.

Go to: A Master Passion
https://js.gleam.io/e.js

Leave a comment »

Review: WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD (Outlander #8) by Diana Gabaldon

If you know me, you know I have an Outlander obsession. I’ve read them all (and watch the show). Of course I had to read the latest tome from Ms. Gabaldon. I did it over time, though, reading several other things at the same time, because sometimes I just needed a break from the trials of living in the 1700’s!

This book starts where the last one left off, and I only wish I could have remembered exactly what had happened at the end of the last book! Next time I am definitely re-reading the end of the previous book. It took me about 100 pages to get settled and remember all the challenges folks were facing. (What I really needed was a chart with characters, which is there, but really not too accessible via kindle; print copy would have been better).

Anyhow, Claire and Jamie were reunited. Lord Grey was having some serious physical issues in the war (and with Jamie). Ian was wanting to marry his Quaker love, Rachel. Brianna was fending off a crazy man who was trying to abduct Jem, while Roger runs off to the past thinking Jem is there (but ends up in the wrong time). Then there was a whole HOST of other folks running around and having problems. I could scarcely keep track of it all!

As always, I love the story of Claire and Jamie. Theirs is a love that truly transcends time. The other many subplots are fun to follow, though I found the time in the forest with the soldiers v-e-r-y s-l-o-w. Things picked up quickly towards the end and one can see another book on the horizon.

Now if you know me, you know I have a “problem” shall we say, with Brianna. I can’t stand her “I’m perfect. I’m intelligent. I’m beautiful. Everyone desires me. I’m Brianna.” personality. I found her much more likable in this installment. Her motherly side has softened me to her. Now, instead, I find Rachel annoying. Her “I am pious. I am perfect. I am incredibly beautiful and brave with a perfect body under these drab Quaker togs. Look at me!” character a bit much. I don’t want her killed off, but really, let’s make her not quite so perfect. And once I got thinking about this I realized that all the women in these books are pretty much physically perfect while most of the main men have some sort of physical difference or scar or missing limb: Jamie’s scars and missing finger, Jenny’s husband’s limp, Roger’s damaged throat, Fergus’ hook, Colum’s Toulouse-Latrec. Interesting…

Okay – I just googled to make sure it was Colum with the T-L and not Dougal and there’s an Outlander Wiki???

Anyhow, you, too, can slog through the 800+ pages of the latest Outlander. You can see it on Amazon where I got mine and where I am an Associate:

1 Comment »

Quick YA Review: WHISPER FALLS by Elizabeth Langston

Through Net Galley I found this YA title about a teenager who meets up with a mysterious young woman through the curtain of a waterfall one day when he’s out riding his mountain bike.

Mark Lewis is a typical high schooler who is training for a mountain bike competition. One day he comes across an oddly dressed young woman, Susannah, and they become friends. However, Susannah is from 1796 and Mark lives in the present day. The two teens are drawn to each other, and danger mounts for Susannah from her employer. Can Mark cross the barrier of time to save Susannah from her fate?

I really enjoyed this story, and the ending suggests that there will be a sequel. I look forward to more from Ms. Langston!

You can see this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

Thanks, Net Galley and Spencer Hill Press, for my copy!

Leave a comment »

Review: THE SECRETS OF CASANOVA by Greg Michaels

I was recently approached to read and review Greg Michaels’ new novel: THE SECRETS OF CASANOVA. It sounded fun and interesting (and to be honest, I know very little about the real Casanova – a great lover, right? And always makes me think of Greg Brady in the Brady Bunch?). This was a rollicking, fun, adventure story, with a little history and a lot of fiction thrown in.

Giacomo Casanova was a real person who lived in the mid to late 1700’s (see Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giacomo_Casanova). He was known for having many affairs with women and this reputation continues today when we call someone “a Casanova”. However, he was an interesting figure, intelligent and well-known, who wrote many works (best known is his autobiography), was imprisoned in Venice, lived in Paris, and knew many famous people of his era.
Michaels makes Casanova come alive as a flesh and blood man – part swindler, part earnest young man. He’s a bit of a lovable rogue who shows his more sensitive side in his relationships. He is on a quest for a holy relic, complete with “treasure map”, and his adventures take him and his companions across Europe with various close calls along the way.

As I read this book, I thought of what a fun movie it would make! I kept seeing Robert Downey Junior in the lead (call me a child of the 80’s). If you like swashbuckling adventure, you would probably like this book. There are some sexual scenes (not many, but they are there) or I would suggest it to the younger crowd as well.

I wasn’t sure by the ending if we might be hearing more from Mr. Michaels and Casanova. I would look forward to seeing his adventures continue!

You can see this book on Amazon where I am an Associate. Right now it is priced for Kindle at $3.99. Thanks for the opportunity to share your book, Greg!

1 Comment »

QUICK YA REVIEW: The Hangman in the Mirror by Kate Cayley

“The Hangman in the Mirror” by Kate Cayley is a historical fiction piece, set in New France (Canada) in the 1700’s. Francoise Laurent is a destitute 17-year-old washerwoman, left orphaned when her parents die of small pox. She takes a job as a lady’s maid to a wealthy woman, but is accused of thievery and sentenced to hang. She must use her considerable wits to save herself – or die trying.

While this book was written for young adult readers, I think adults would enjoy it, too. The most amazing thing about it is that it is based on true events. I enjoyed the writing, the story, and the characters.

Thanks, Net Galley, for my copy!

See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

Leave a comment »

Review: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

While on vacation, I downloaded and read “The Winter Sea” on my Kindle (actually my Kindle recommended the title to me). This was a new author for me and the genre was one I don’t often read – historical romance.

In “The Winter Sea”, author Carrie McClelland is visiting the coast of Scotland to get ideas for a historical novel she is penning. Carrie starts having vivid dreams and strong feelings about the different places she sees and even the people she meets. Carrie’s ancestor lived in this area, though she has little information on her, and Carrie eventually comes to believe that she is channelling the memories of Sophie, her ancestor from the 1700’s. In current day, Carrie feels drawn to the son of the man from she rents a small cottage; and both his sons show romantic interest in her. Sophie’s story and her history become Carrie’s quest, and she learns about Sophie’s life as she tells her story through her novel.

This lengthy (over 500 pages) book was an interesting read, especially as it was really two stories in one, with alternating chapters (Carrie in present day; Sophie in the 1700’s). I did find some of the story rather flat: everyone seemed in love with Carrie and I wasn’t exactly sure why. She was an “okay’ character, but not particularly compelling or extraordinary. In the 1700’s, Sophie had her share of suitors as well, though she professed an undying love for one man. I did find some of the events in the story – particularly those of 1700 – rather unbelievable. And of course, it all tied together neatly. however, if you enjoy historical romances, you would probably enjoy this novel.

I have to say that the most interesting part of this novel to me was the idea of “genetic memory” and memory being handed down. At one point it is said that some believe that people who think they have past lives are actually having genetic memories from their ancestors. An interesting concept!

I thought perhaps this story would be similar to “Outlander” – the Diana Gabaldon series which I adore – however, I consider the Outlander books to be more of a saga (and one in which I have learned a ton about what life was like in the 1700’s in Scotland) while I would categorize this book as a story.

You can see this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:

 

2 Comments »