#BookReview: The Briar and the Rose by Laura Mills-Alcott

Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

679D196A-CD2A-4C06-95BB-EE2961A9C17ESummary:

THE BRIAR AND THE ROSE is Regency Era Historical Romance set in Ireland and London.

THE BRIAR…
One moment Raven is alone in the world and working as a maid in the gardens of a grand estate in Ireland; the next she finds herself handed the life of a lady by the dark and handsome Marquess of Castlereagh. Devan insists his intentions are honorable, and that he only wishes to help reunite her with her family. But Raven finds herself in a constant struggle to deny the smoldering attraction between them, and in her secret heart, wishes he wanted more.
THE ROSE…
Devan, Marquess of Castlereagh, is tormented by his past and determined to live out his days in quiet solitude at his Ireland estate. That is until Raven enters his life. With the face of an angel, the body of Aphrodite, and the tongue of a drunken Irishman, he’s never met any woman so infuriating… so seductive… so… his match.
THE LEGEND…
From historical Ireland and its mystical legends to the elegant ballrooms of Regency London, together Devan and Raven discover the truth of the past and a love so strong it cannot be denied.

Based loosely on the ballad “Barbara Allen”, and more specifically on Dolly Parton’s version of the ballad, THE BRIAR AND THE ROSE is set in Ireland and London.

Review:

I might be hooked! It has been several years since I read a historical romance and it might not be so long the next time. I loved the history behind this story. It is loosely based on the ballad of “Barbara Allen” and the old Irish folktale of “The Briar and the Rose”.

Right after I finished this book there was a documentary of country music and I was excited to hear them talking with Dolly Parton about Barbara Allen and the old Irish folktale. Have you ever had that happen to you? First, you were ignorant about something and then you hear it again within a short period of time. That was nice because now I knew something about The Briar and the Rose.
This book is definitely worth the time to read. You won’t be sorry! There is something for everyone. However you have to do it, go out and obtain a copy of The Briar and the Rose by Laura Mills-Alcott today.
I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

 

 

#BookReview: The Roux in the Gumbo by Kim Robinson

Reviewer: Serena Soape

C427BAA8-28F7-4A79-A9D1-95002C9D41A5Summary:

From the 1800’s in Louisiana to 1997 California

Experience the history of a family as the author makes you laugh and cry through their adventures.

Review:

“Every Person’s life is like a pot of gumbo, you get out what you put in”

This was one of my favorite sayings from Kim Robinson’s book right from the beginning.

I listened to the Audible version of “The Roux in the Gumbo” and I feel like I was able to get a real feel for the book, with all of the different characters and their voices and situations.

This story is sometimes heartbreaking and hard to hear. What they went through was often horrific! But, there were also a lot of happy points highlighted in the book, as well. Sometimes the difficult parts of the book concerned me about whether I could keep going, but I am glad I did.

I did find it a little difficult to keep up with all of the characters, as there were so many of them, but I think listening to the made that easier for me (versus reading the book) with the distinct voices.

The fact that she was able to create this novel from all of her elders stories through the years was truly amazing and a work of art.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for fair and honest review.

4 Stars.

#BookReview: Cilka’s Journey (The Tattooist of Auschwitz #2) by Heather Morris

Reviewer: Phyllis Jones Pisanelli

C8145661-CF1C-4B45-B326-96F44E9BC124Summary:

Release Date: October 1, 2019

From the author of the multi-million copy bestseller, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, comes the new novel based on an incredible true story of love and resilience.

Her beauty saved her life – and condemned her.

Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, in 1942. The Commandant at Birkenau, Schwarzhuber, notices her long beautiful hair, and forces her separation from the other women prisoners. Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly given, equals survival.

After liberation, Cilka is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to Siberia. But what choice did she have? And where did the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was sent to Auschwitz when still a child?

In a Siberian prison camp, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she makes an impression on a woman doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing. Cilka begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions.

Cilka finds endless resources within herself as she daily confronts death and faces terror. And when she nurses a man called Ivan, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love.

Review:

I am in awe! Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris is a beautiful book.

If you read the Tattooist of Auschwitz, you will love Cilka’s Journey. We met Cilka in the Tattooist of Auschwitz and as you can guess this is her story. I fell in love with Cilka as she is such a warm, kind person. Reading what she went through will break your heart.

I am not going to tell you anything about the book because I want you to discover her and her journey on your own. This book was a little easier to experience than the Tattooist of Auschwitz. I am not sure if it was because I thought I knew the horrors that would be coming or if this was truly a more gentle story just as Cilka is.

Please don’t miss reading Cilka’s Journey!
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
5 Stars.

#BookReview: The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio

The Beautiful StrangersSummary:

A legendary hotel on the Pacific becomes a haven where dreams, love, and a beguiling mystery come alive.
1958. Kate Morgan, tethered to her family’s failing San Francisco restaurant, is looking for an escape. She gets her chance by honoring a cryptic plea from her grandfather: find the beautiful stranger. The search takes her to Hotel del Coronado, the beachfront landmark on the Southern California coast where filming is underway on the movie Some Like It Hot.
For a movie lover like Kate, it’s a fantasy come true. So is the offer of a position at the glamorous hotel. And a new romance is making her heart beat just as fast. But as sure as she is that Coronado is her future, Kate discovers it’s also where the ghosts of the past have come to stay. Sixty years ago a guest died tragically, and she still haunts the hotel’s halls.
As the lives of two women—generations apart—intertwine, Kate’s courageous journey could change more than she ever imagined. And with Coronado wending its way through her soul, she must follow her dreams…wherever they may lead.

Review:

Make room on our bookshelf for The Beautiful Strangers! This book is Epic! I was totally blown away!! I didn’t even realize that I have a penchant for ghost stories and old Hollywood, so I was definitely entranced with this story. I don’t want to give anything away.
I walked away wanting to know more about the main character of the book, and I am sure you will too. Or, at least a trip to Coronado!

Camille Di Maio wrote a story that I absolutely fell in love with. It was unlike any other book I’ve read. She took timelines sixty years apart and wrapped them up like a gift!

You already know the summary, so let me say that Camille really left me breathless.

Until the very last line.

5 Stars Plus.

pro_readerI would like to thank the publishers for sending me an ARC of this novel via Netgalley.

#BookReview ~ “The King’s Sisters” by Sarah Kennedy

The Kings SistersSummary:

It is now 1542 and another queen, Catherine Howard, has been beheaded for adultery. Although young Prince Edward is thriving, and the line of Tudor succession seems secure, the king falls into a deep melancholy and questions the faith and loyalty of those around him. Catherine has found herself in a unique position as a married former nun. Now she is a wealthy widow. She has two children, a boy who has successfully joined the young prince’s household and a daughter who lives with her at Richmond Palace, home to Henry’s cast-off fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, now designated “The King’s Beloved Sister.” Catherine also enjoys the attentions of widower Benjamin Davies, and in the festive court atmosphere, she has furtively indulged her passion for him. But England has changed again. Anne of Cleves hopes for reinstatement as queen―until questions arise about the finances of the houses she keeps. Catherine, as one of the king’s “reformed sisters,” is singled out, just as she realizes that she is carrying a third child. The King’s Sisters explores the Tudor court under an aging Henry VIII. He now has a son and heir, but his two daughters remain players in the political intrigues. The Cross and the Crown series follows the very private Catherine as she is thrust into the scheming. She is skilled enough to serve a former queen . . . but this may be the very quality that endangers her future.

Review:

Again, another wonderful cover!

This is the third book in Sarah Kennedy’s “The Cross and The Crown Series”. It is now 1542, and Henry VIII’s young queen Catherine Howard has been beheaded for adultery. Catherine Haven Overton is now a widow with her two children living with Sister Ann of Cleve.

This book was not as exciting as book two in the series. This was really a book that described their lives in this time in English history in such detail…I got a bit involved, as Sarah Kennedy writes with the depictions of someone that was truly there, as in all three of the books in this series. The only thing is that there was not a lot going in the beginning of the book….but, it picked up in the second half.

I was really invested in her character, Catherine, and I kept reading to find out her fate.

This was disappointing compared to “City of Ladies”, but if I did not have that to compare this book to, I think I would have given it more stars.

3.5 Stars

#BookReview: “City of Ladies” by Sarah Kennedy

City of Ladies.jpg

Summary:

It’s midwinter in 1539, and former nun, Catherine Havens Overton, has just given birth to her second child, a daughter. The convent in which she was raised is now part of her husband’s lands, lands that once belonged to Catherine’s family. With a son, Robert, and her new daughter, Veronica, her life as the mistress of a great household should be complete. But Henry VIII’s England has not been kind to many of the evicted members of religious houses. And in order to protect her old companions from the hostilities, Catherine has gathered about her a group of former nuns in hopes of providing them a chance to serve in the village of Havenston, her City of Ladies. Catherine’s past haunts her. Her husband begins to suspect that Robert is not his child. Then the women of Overton House begin to disappear and one of them is found brutally murdered nearby. Seizing the moment, under the pretense of ensuring her safety, William forces Catherine to enter service at Hatfield House where the young Elizabeth Tudor lives. Reluctantly, Catherine obeys, only to find herself serving not only the Protestant Elizabeth but also the shamed Catholic Mary Tudor. As the murders in Yorkshire continue to mount and her loyalty to the Tudor sisters grows more complicated, Catherine must uncover the secret of the killer and save her City of Ladies.

Review:

I loved this cover. It looks fabulous on my book shelf.

This was my second book by Sarah Kennedy, and it is book two in the “Cross and The Crown” Series. When I finished I was looking forward to getting to the third book. This is a series that I will never forget and they stand out as originals, as I never read books about this time in history. Sarah Kennedy writes such knowledge of historical facts that you feel like she was right there, walking among the women.

The book “City of Ladies”, is about the women from her first book. It is 1539, and Catherine Havens Overton gathers the women that she lived with in the Convent with her when they were removed by the king’s men. She has them all working at the Overton House, to have them remain together.

But, the women start disappearing. They are being murdered. Catherine is determined to find the killer and save the women in her “City of Ladies”

This book is an amazing tale of mystery and intrigue. You will be spellbound.

5 Stars

 

#BookReview: “The Altarpiece” by Sarah Kennedy

The AlterpieceSummary:

It is 1535, and in the tumultuous years of King Henry VIII’s break from Rome, the religious houses of England are being seized by force.

Twenty-year-old Catherine Havens is a foundling and the adopted daughter of the prioress of the Priory of Mount Grace in a small Yorkshire village. Catherine, like her adoptive mother, has a gift for healing, and she is widely sought and admired for her knowledge.

Catherine’s hopes for a place at court have been dashed by the king’s divorce, and she has reluctantly taken the veil. When the priory’s costly altarpiece goes missing, Catherine and her friend Ann Smith find themselves under increased suspicion. King Henry VIII’s soldiers have not had their fill of destruction, and when they return to Mount Grace to destroy the priory, Catherine must choose between the sacred calling of her past and the man who may represent her country’s future.

Review:

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I love historical fictions, and this book delivers!! It is 1535 in Tudor England and King Henry VIII is creating the Church of England and his soldiers are overtaking the Catholic Churches, and Catherine Havens is hiding all of the important papers and other items that she does not want to be taken from Mount Grace (the Convent that she is raised in). This scavenging is how we are introduced to this story…and, it is exciting from the first page!

An altarpiece is missing, but there is much more to this story, than the Madonna and the baby statue…

Not only does Sarah Kennedy know her history, she also creates a story that will stay with you. I was in awe of Catherine and her dignity, and honor. She is a woman that believes in herbal remedies, and does not want to be taken for a witch. In these times, to have those beliefs is very difficult and Catherine tries to hold her secrets in.

Will she be able to?

Will the Altarpiece be found? And, will there be a personal cost?

Sarah Kennedy is a talented writer, and I am excited to read the other two books in this Cross and Crown Series.

4 Stars.