Posts Tagged Book Review

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

Essex, England, 1645. With a heavy heart, Alice Hopkins returns to the small town she grew up in. Widowed, with child, and without prospects, she is forced to find refuge at the house of her younger brother, Matthew. In the five years she has been gone, the boy she knew has become a man of influence and wealth—but more has changed than merely his fortunes. Alice fears that even as the cruel burns of a childhood accident still mark his face, something terrible has scarred Matthew’s soul.

There is a new darkness in the town, too—frightened whispers are stirring in the streets, and Alice’s blood runs cold with dread when she discovers that Matthew is a ruthless hunter of suspected witches. Torn between devotion to her brother and horror at what he’s become, Alice is desperate to intervene—and deathly afraid of the consequences. But as Matthew’s reign of terror spreads, Alice must choose between her safety and her soul.

Alone and surrounded by suspicious eyes, Alice seeks out the fuel firing her brother’s brutal mission—and is drawn into the Hopkins family’s past. There she finds secrets nested within secrets: and at their heart, the poisonous truth. Only by putting her own life and liberty in peril can she defeat this darkest of evils—before more innocent women are forced to the gallows.

Inspired by the real-life story of notorious “Witchfinder General” Matthew Hopkins, Beth Underdown’s thrilling debut novel blends spellbinding history with echoes of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale for a truly haunting reading experience.

 

REVIEW

 

I’ve always been interested in the history of the witch trials and the unbelievable mindset during those times. If the author’s good, and this one is, I get very frustrated with the docile demeanor of the women and the obviously hateful nature of the accusers. Common sense seems to have been lost while the powerful beat down the powerless with fear and intimidation.  All of this drama makes it all too hard to put down!

Underdown has done a wonderful job delivering a well-rounded novel, completed by a surprise ending. The setting is perfect, situations true to times, and plot well-crafted.  I feel it’s quite an imaginatively written story, as there’s not a great deal of information about Matthew Hopkins from a personal standpoint.

I recommend for those interested in the era.

 

***As with all my reviews, I must warn of possible triggers, violence, and adult situations***

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About This Literary Chef

Beth Underdown was born in Rochdale in 1987. She studied at the University of York and then the University of Manchester, where she is now a Lecturer in Creative Writing.

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REVIEW! WINNIE DAVIS: DAUGHTER OF A LOST CAUSE by Heath Hardage Lee

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Synopsis

Varina Anne “Winnie” Davis was born into a war-torn South in June of 1864, the youngest daughter of Confederate president Jefferson Davis and his second wife, Varina Howell Davis. Born only a month after the death of beloved Confederate hero general J.E.B. Stuart during a string of Confederate victories, Winnie’s birth was hailed as a blessing by war-weary Southerners. They felt her arrival was a good omen signifying future victory. But after the Confederacy’s ultimate defeat in the Civil War, Winnie would spend her early life as a genteel refugee and an expatriate abroad. 
 
 
After returning to the South from German boarding school, Winnie was christened the “Daughter of the Confederacy” in 1886. This role was bestowed upon her by a Southern culture trying to sublimate its war losses. Particularly idolized by Confederate veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Winnie became an icon of the Lost Cause, eclipsing even her father Jefferson in popularity. 
 
Winnie Davis:  Daughter of the Lost Cause is the first published biography of this little-known woman who unwittingly became the symbolic female figure of the defeated South. Her controversial engagement in 1890 to a Northerner lawyer whose grandfather was a famous abolitionist, and her later move to work as a writer in New York City, shocked her friends, family, and the Southern groups who worshipped her. Faced with the pressures of a community who violently rejected the match, Winnie desperately attempted to reconcile her prominent Old South history with her personal desire for tolerance and acceptance of her personal choices.
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Review

My roots run South in this country; therefore, I was instantly intrigued by this novel.

I’m very familiar with The Daughters of the Confederacy, and the prodigal daughter that started it all, but this author has taken an extraordinary approach by reintroducing Winnie Davis to the world in a most intimate manner. Starting from her birth, we get a detailed background on how Winnie’s future was forged by the chaotic world to which she was born. This young woman was thrust into situations that exceeded her limitations both physically, and mentally. The relationship she had with her mother is one in which many in the South can relate, and her timid behavior was that of a true lady.

Although Winnie is the main subject, she is by no means the only person of which whom we become familiar. The whole family is introduced, as well as the love of her life, which later gives reference to Winnie’s somber and emotional state.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, but I must warn that some may feel as if the entire southern gentry are portrayed as one group of like-minded idiots. Readers must keep in mind, the anger and frustration after the war towards “The Yankees” was so intense, it still resonates today. There are also a couple of “hmm” moments in which the lost Confederate Money conspiracies do not seem so far-fetched. The historical details are extraordinary; however, and the research involved is evident.

My heart ached for Winnie Davis, as the writer has depicted her life with great care.  A tragic tale from a tragic time.

Recommended read.
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About This Literary Chef

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Heath Hardage Lee

Heath comes from a museum education, historic preservation, and writing background. She holds a B.A. in History with Honors from Davidson College, and an M.A. in French Language and Literature from the University of Virginia.

She started her museum career at the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, North Carolina, as the Director of Education and Programs. Heath has since worked as a consultant for southern house museums such as Stratford Hall, Robert E. Lee’s birthplace, and Menokin Plantation, once home to Francis Lightfoot Lee. She is currently working as the Coordinator of the History Series for Salisbury House & Gardens, a 1920’s house museum in Des Moines, Iowa.

Potomac Books, a division of the University of Nebraska Press, published Heath’s first book, Winnie Davis: Daughter of the Lost Cause, in 2014. This biography about the fascinating youngest daughter of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was one of Potomac Press’s bestselling books for 2014. Winnie won the 2015 Colonial Dames of America Annual Book Award as well as a Gold Medal for Nonfiction writing from the Independent Publisher 2015 Book Awards.

Heath is currently working on her second book, a group biography entitled Vietnam War Wives about the courageous Wives of men who were Prisoners of War or Missing in Action during the Vietnam War. Stay tuned for more news on that book this fall.

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TOUR STOP & GIVEAWAY! DAUGHTER OF VALOR by @EmilyMimsAuthor

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BOOK INFORMATION

TITLE – Daughter of Valor
SERIES – Texas Hill Country Series
AUTHOR – Emily Mims
GENRE – Romantic suspense
PUBLICATION DATE – January 2015
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 332 pages, 99,500 words
PUBLISHER – Boroughs Publishing Group
COVER ARTIST – Boroughs Publishing Group Art Department


BOOK SYNOPSIS

Wounded war hero Holly Riley has come home to the lake shore community of Heaven’s Point to recover from her injuries and build a new life for herself with her band of fellow wounded warriors. Temporarily employed as a nanny by charismatic Congressional candidate and neighbor Jimmy Adamcik, Holly and Jimmy quickly begin to care for one another in spite of Holly’s distrust of politics. But Jimmy finds himself sucked deeper and deeper into the seamy side of the political process, and an old enemy from Jimmy’s past targets Holly’s soldiers one by one. Will Jimmy and Holly’s love survive the double onslaught-or will they be the final target of their unknown enemy’s rage?


REVIEW

Opening with a most chilling account of horrific events, from both our hero and heroine, I was immediately immersed in this novel!

I’ve recently become a fan of updated military novels, and this was an excellent read! The author has developed an intriguing and suspenseful story line, which kept me on the edge of my seat constantly.  There are some graphic scenes involving combat, but the manner in which they are delivered moved me immensely.  The characters are relatable and I simply love Holly and Jimmy.  Holly’s story touched me more; however.  Wounded veterans are close to my heart. The trauma they endure, both physically and psychologically hits home, and I adore those who help.  Mims implemented a message, here, brilliantly!

Jimmy is not to be ignored, though.  He’s a hero, as well, and suffers in silence.  My heart broke for this single father as he tried to juggle his aspirations, his longing for someone to lean on, and a sweet little girl.

I would recommend this to Military Romance lovers.


 

Daughter of ValorBUY & TBR LINKS

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EXCERPT

Jimmy took one look at Holly’s face and ushered her in grimly. “They decided to support Navarro, didn’t they?” he demanded tersely.
“I tried to get them to change their minds,” she said quietly. “I’m sorry.”
“You’re sorry?” he demanded incredulously. “You and your buddies are going to embarrass the hell out of my campaign and you’re sorry? May I be so bold as to ask what made them throw their support to Navarro?”
“Jimmy, get real,” she shot back. “You have platitudes. He has a plan.”
He flinched. “So they realize the position I’m in with your mother and her buddies?”
“That’s part of the problem,” she admitted. “They feel like you won’t have the freedom to represent their best interests and Navarro will.”
“Why didn’t you fight them?” he asked. “Why are you just going along with what they’re doing to me?”
Holly was silent for a moment. “Because if I weren’t involved with you, I would be doing exactly what they are. And as much as I hate to admit it, I think Alex Navarro would be light years better for me and my soldiers than you would.”
“Oh, really? Then your buddies can take a hike and you can go with them,” he said angrily.
It was Holly’s turn to flinch. “If that’s how you feel I will most certainly be taking that hike. But first I’m going to tell you to your face that you are a hypocrite of the highest order. Yes, you are,” she said when he started to object. “You expect me to separate my feelings for you from my work with the soldiers. You expect them to understand when you would rather brown-nose my mother and her supporters for their money than support them. And then you act like a spoiled brat when my soldiers throw their support to the candidate who might actually do something for them. That, my friend, is hypocritical.”
She jerked open the front door and turned back around. “You know, Jimmy, an election isn’t just about money,” she said softly, “it’s about votes. And if you run off all your votes chasing the money, you’re going to lose the election, no matter how much money mom’s cronies put into your coffers.”


 

AUTHOR BIO

The author of twenty romance novels, Emily Mims combined her writing career with a career in public education until leaving the classroom to write full time. The mother of two sons, she and her husband split their time between central Texas and eastern Tennessee. For relaxation she plays the piano, organ, dulcimer and ukulele. She says, “I love to write romances because I believe in them. Romance happened to me and it can happen to any woman-if she’ll just let it.”

AUTHOR FOLLOW LINKS

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RELEASE BLITZ! SKIN DEEP by PAMELA SPARKMAN

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Title: Skin Deep

Author: Pamela Sparkman

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: July 20, 2015

Cover Designer: Sarah Hansen with Okay Creations

Cover

Cover

Synopsis

She hates me.

I’m in love with her.

Her life is a masquerade.

Mine is cloaked in secrets.

She thinks I can’t see her.

But she’s the only thing I can see.

he thinks we have nothing in common.

We have everything in common.

And I’m done being patient.

I’m determined.

She’s stubborn.

You think you know us.

You don’t.

The things you know about us are only Skin Deep.

*Warning – This book contains instances of self harm in the form of an eating disorder and may be a trigger to some readers.*

Teasers

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Excerpt

Beth had been good at pretending to be this happy carefree girl – bubbly and energetic. Looking at her now, I saw a girl who was anything but carefree. She obviously had demons that haunted her, and I knew from experience that fighting certain demons can be almost impossible.

I listened through the door, making sure Lily had gone. “This isn’t over. Me keeping your secret from Lily is not a sign I’m letting this go. It’s a sign that I’m going to be a thorn in your side until you let me help you.”

Beth prickled at my comment and unfurled herself from the protective ball she had curled into. “I don’t need your help!”

“Yes, you do.” I took another step towards her. Beth took a step back. “And the way I see it, you don’t have much of a choice.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Do you want Lily to know what you’ve been doing?”

Beth’s eyes pooled with unshed tears. She looked hurt by my words. “Please don’t tell Lily,” she pleaded in a whisper.

“I’ll tell her everything unless you let me help you.” The look of fear and disbelief on Beth’s face made me feel like a total jackass.

Her expression changed again. She glowered at me like she wanted to set me on fire. “I hate you so much right now.”

Her words, she meant them. And hearing her tell me she hated me… it hurt, because somewhere along the way I had fallen in love with her.

“I know you do. But I’d rather you hate me for the right reasons, than like me for the wrong ones. I guess we’ll both have to figure out how to fucking live with that.”

Review

 

I cried, I laughed, and I swooned!

This is not your average romance novel; it’s a thought-provoking, tear jerking, and profoundly emotional love story. Family values, love in its most rare form, and friendship are the core values Sparkman has exemplified with perfection.

The narration alternates between Hayden and Beth with acute precision, making the complexity of the story line flow naturally. Sparkman’s writing style made me ache for our hero and heroine as the intimate details of their lives unfolded. Their story is never rushed, which made the relationship more genuine, and completely addictive. Serious issues are dealt with tastefully, and the supporting characters make this novel complete.

I fell in love with this story almost immediately, and I highly recommend it to any lover of romance!

Purchase Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | KOBO | iTunes

About This Literary Chef

I grew up in Alabama and have always been an avid reader. I had a stack of those Little Golden Books and I can remember reading Three Little Kittens over and over and over again. It was my favorite.

Fast forward and the older I got the more in love with books I became. So, I’m admitting that I am a huge nerd. The only reading I don’t like are those math word problems. And I’m okay with that because no one has ever asked me in real life… “If I give you two bananas and take away six apples, how long will it take the southbound train to collide with the northbound train if Johnny left his house at midnight?” It just doesn’t happen.

So, yeah, books are my thing.

Oh and music. All kinds. Love.It.

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REVIEW & SPOTLIGHT! Captive Guardian (Witches Amulet Book 2) by Paulina Woods

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BLURB:

High above New York, in a gilded cage, Marcus lives out his lonely life. Born in captivity, he has been told he has one purpose in life, to produce powerful female witch offspring.

Michael is second in command to the general of the gargoyles army. He lives a fast and dangerous life, always looking for the next adventure. When he is captured, bound and tossed into a cage all thoughts of revenge go out the window when he is faced with his mate.

Can Michael convince Marcus that they are meant to be together or will he lose his mate before he a chance to know him?

REVIEW

This is a very unique paranormal series that gets better with each installment.

The beginning is an extraordinary introduction presented in mythical, scriptural form. As in the first book, this is an immediate hook that captures interest. The plot is well crafted, the suspense is intriguing, and the smooth flow allows time to connect with each character.

There are some grammatical errors, but I wasn’t deterred. The focus bounces between a M/M love story, the devious acts of an unusual coven, and the paranormal forces acting against the coven. The author’s growth is visible from one book to the next, and I find her writing style quite charming.

I recommend reading after the first installment, and I have no doubt that Ms.Woods will continue to mesmerize her audience with this creative series!

Links:

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About This Literary Chef

Paulina is a small town girl with big dreams. She is the second oldest of three talented siblings.

An extraordinary young writer with an amazing story of her own, she is currently working on the third installment in The Witches Amulet Series.

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