Friday, June 23, 2017

Prairie Days!

I may have mentioned that I'm kind of obsessed with the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  They are one of my childhood favorites, I've read all the books more times than I can count.  I grew up mostly in Southern California so visiting a Little House museum wasn't really an option.  I know live in the Midwest and all of the museums are within 8 hours (driving distance) from where I live.  
The Little House on the Prairie museum is only 2 1/2 hours from my house and I've been dying to go visit.  Every June they have a festival called 'Prairie Days' and this year we were finally able to go!  I've been reading the 'My First Little House' books with her so she's familiar with Laura and Mary and their stories so she was super excited too.

The property has an old original schoolhouse, an old original post office and a replica of the cabin Pa built in the Little House on the Prairie book.  I wish I had taken pictures of all of these buildings because they were really neat.  While we were there, a teacher gave lessons in the old schoolhouse, slates and all.  We couldn't go in the cabin because it's not in very good shape right now.  They are saving to build a new one because it's been severely damaged by storms and age.  However, we could look inside and it was really neat.  We also got to see the well Pa dug on the property.  Pa's well is actually how they were able to locate the land where the Ingalls family had family had lived in southern Kansas.

The festival was really fun!  They had all kinds of demonstrations and hands on activities for kids.  Julia got to make a rope, pump water and shuck corn.  You could also make corn husk dolls, tiny bales of hay and there was a costume contest and parade.  It was fun and laid back and we had a good time.  Of course, I bought Julia a sunbonnet and she actually enjoyed wearing it. : )

Julia keeps asking when we can go back and visit.  I don't know if we'll make a trip back this year but I would definitely visit again.  We also live about 4 hours from the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in Mansfield, MO so we're going to take a long weekend and visit sometime in the fall.  Eventually, I would like to visit all of the museums but the rest of them are little bit farther away.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mini Reviews (20)

This series is great! I want to live in the town of Haven Point and I love getting to know each character and their families.  This book follows Kat Bailey when she returns to Haven Point after living in South America.  She is a great character; she has the patience of a saint and I really liked reading about her relationship with Bowie's autistic brother, Milo.  Bowie and Kat had a great relationship and it was so sweet to watch them deal with their pasts and fall in love.  Kat was a little whiny at times which got annoying after a while but otherwise this was a great story.  If you're looking for a good romance story with a happy ending, this is a good one. 3 1/2 stars.

This was an interesting concept for a story.  I enjoyed reading about the resistance and the different ways the war affected women in Germany.  The story followed three women who had their own unique experiences during the war and it was interesting to see the perspective of those living in Germany.  That being said, I didn't find most of the characters to be very likable.  I think Ania was the only character who I liked.  I was really happy to have Ania's story told in full at the end of the book.  Marianne was so self-righteous and Benita was kind of whiny.  I know they all went through a lot during the war but since most of the story was told from Marianne's point of view, it was all kind of colored by her opinion.  I don't think this was a bad story, it just kind of fell flat for me. 2 1/2 stars

I received both of these books from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Book Blast: "Traitor's Knot" by Cryssa Bazos

Traitor's Knot by Cryssa Bazos

Publication Date: May 9, 2017

Endeavor Press

eBook; 394 Pages

Genre: Fiction/Historical

England 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace in the year since Parliament executed King Charles I.

Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.

Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with the dashing Hart.

The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.

Traitor’s Knot is a sweeping tale of love and conflicted loyalties set against the turmoil of the English Civil War.

“A hugely satisfying read that will appeal to historical fiction fans who demand authenticity, and who enjoy a combination of suspense, action, and a very believable love story.” - Elizabeth St. John, author of The Lady of the Tower

“A thrilling historical adventure expertly told.” - Carol McGrath, author of The Handfasted Wife

Traitor's Knot is available in eBook from Amazon

About the Author

Cryssa Bazos is a historical fiction writer and 17th Century enthusiast, with a particular interest in the English Civil War (ECW). She blogs about English history and storytelling at her blog, the 17th Century Enthusiast, and is an editor of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog site.

Cryssa's debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, a romantic tale of adventure set during the English Civil War. Traitor’s Knot is the first in a series of adventures spanning from the ECW to the Restoration and is now available from Endeavour Press.

For more information visit Cryssa's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Wednesday, May 31
Passages to the Past

Thursday, June 1
A Bookaholic Swede

Friday, June 2
The Writing Desk

Monday, June 5
Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, June 6
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, June 8
So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday, June 9
I Heart Reading

Monday, June 12
What Is That Book About

Tuesday, June 13
Books, Dreams, Life

Wednesday, June 14
The True Book Addict

Thursday, June 15
A Holland Reads

Sunday, June 18
Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, June 19
Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots (with excerpt)

Tuesday, June 20
A Literary Vacation
To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, June 21
Svetlana's Reads and Views

Thursday, June 22
CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, June 23
Book Nerd

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Mini Reviews (19)

I have really enjoyed Ms. Kostova's books in the past so when I saw this one, I knew I had to read it.  I know next to nothing about Bulgaria so I was fascinated by the history and view of the country itself that was relayed in this story.  The story has a variety of very unique characters who somehow all manage to meet up in their efforts to return the ashes to their rightful owners.  The story bounced between the past and present lives of several characters and I liked that the reader got a glimpse of Bulgaria's history from different points of view.  My one complaint about this book was that it was too long.  The story dragged on at times and I think it could have been condensed a bit.  Otherwise, a very enjoyable read.  3 stars.

I have always been intrigued by Anne Boleyn as a historical figure.  She's very complicated and I think that this book made clear how complicated of a person she was.  This book is a very detailed, sweeping view of Anne Boleyn's life from a very young age until her death.  It is clear that Ms. Weir did an extensive amount of research (as she always does) and really tried to provide some balance to Anne's life and personality.  There were points in the story where I really did not like Anne at all and parts where I felt bad for her and the position she was in.  Ms. Weir is very sympathetic to Anne in her portrayal even though Anne is pretty awful in some parts.  I will also add that this is a very long book; it really does go into depth regarding Anne's rise and fall.  Because of this the story did seem to move slowly at times; it definitely seemed like I would never see Anne and Henry get married.  We all know how  Anne's story ends but I think the author took it one step too far and things got kind of weird.  Like really weird.  Beside that, it was a good read for those who are fans of the Tudor era.  I definitely look forward to the next book in the series. 3 stars.
I received both books from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, June 2, 2017

April and May Reading Wrap Up

The month of May got away from me!  The past few months have been a whirlwind and I feel like I'm just getting my breath.  I think we had something going on for every weekend in April and May so I've gotten pretty behind with reviews.

We spent most of April looking for a house and finally found one in early May!  It's very exciting but also kind of stressful.  We close on July 10 so this weekend we get to start purging and packing.  We haven't moved in almost 4 years so it's going to be interesting.  We also took a long weekend in May to go visit my mom; my brother was state side so we got to see him too and it turned out to be a really fun trip.

Reading for the past two months hasn't been great.  May was probably reading month in a very long time; I only read 4 books!  For the year I've read a total of 36 books though Goodreads says I'm 5 books behind on my reading goal but I'm trying not let it bother me.  I am 12 books ahead of where I was this time last year and I still managed to get in 101 books last year.  I'm sure it will all work out.

Stats for April and May
-11 books read
   -  non-fiction
   - 8 historical fiction
   - 7 review books
   - 2 library books
   - 2 books I own
   - 8 ebooks

I'm looking forward to more reading in June!  I hope everyone has a great summer!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Book Blast: "Where Rainbows End" by AnneMarie Brear

Where Rainbows End by AnneMarie Brear

Publication Date: May 23, 2017

Choc Lit

eBook; ASIN: B071P7KBH6

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Romance/Western

Can she hold on to her dreams...?

It’s 1850 and the Noble family have travelled to the other side of the world to start a new life after scandal drove them from their native England.

Pippa Noble is determined to reclaim their honour by making her father’s plan for an outback farm reality, although her ambition is frowned upon by a society that has very set ideas about a woman’s place...

Pippa learns the hard way about the unforgiving nature of the bush, sometimes with devastating consequences. And when unfortunate circumstance leads to Pippa tending the farm alone, it is the friendship of neighbouring estate owner Gil Ashford-Smith that helps her through.

Then an unexpected visitor from England arrives, putting Pippa's dreams in jeopardy. But she refuses to let go. She will hold onto her family's land, even if it means losing everything else...

"A compelling story of a headstrong woman who defies the traditional female role and forages a successful life through hard work and a strong vision. Excellent descriptions of the outback and the hardships of life in Australia in the 1850's." - Amazon Review

You can purchase Where Rainbows End in eBook via:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Chapters | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo

About the Author

AnneMarie has been a life-long reader and started writing in 1997 when her children were small. She has a love of history, of grand old English houses and a fascination of what might have happened beyond their walls. Her interests include reading, genealogy, watching movies, spending time with family and eating chocolate – not always in that order!

AnneMarie grew up in Australia but now lives in the UK.

For more information please visit AnneMarie Brear's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, May 29
100 Pages a Day
A Bookaholic Swede

Tuesday, May 30
Creating Herstory
Beth's Book Nook Blog

Wednesday, May 31
Book Nerd
A Holland Reads
The Never-Ending Book

Thursday, June 1
Brooke Blogs
So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday, June 2
A Chick Who Reads
Susan Heim on Writing

Saturday, June 3
T's Stuff

Sunday, June 4
Passages to the Past

Monday, June 5
CelticLady's Reviews
Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Tuesday, June 6
I Heart Reading
WS Momma Readers Nook

Wednesday, June 7
Books, Dreams, Life
Faery Tales Are Real

Thursday, June 8
Let Them Read Books
History From a Woman's Perspective

Friday, June 9
A Literary Vacation
Library of Clean Reads

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Book Blast: Kat Clifford Mystery Series by Candace Robb

Please join author Candace Robb as her Kate Clifford Mystery Series is featured around the blogosphere, from May 9-24.

The Service of the Dead by Candace Robb

Paperback Publication Date: May 9, 2017

Pegasus Books

Paperback; 256 Pages

Series: Kate Clifford Mysteries, Book One

Genre: Historical/Mystery/Thriller

Expertly recreating the social and political upheavals of late medieval Europe, Candace Robb introduces a new series starring Kate Clifford, a woman forged on the warring northern marches of fourteenth century England.

Political unrest permeates York at the cusp of the fifteenth century, as warring factions take sides on who should be the rightful king--Richard II or his estranged, powerful cousin in exile, Henry Bolingbroke. Independent minded twenty-year-old Kate Clifford is struggling to dig out from beneath the debt left by her late husband. Determined to find a way to be secure in her own wealth and establish her independence in a male dominated society, Kate turns one of her properties near the minster into a guest house and sets up a business. In a dance of power, she also quietly rents the discreet bedchambers to the wealthy, powerful merchants of York for nights with their mistresses.

But the brutal murder of a mysterious guest and the disappearance of his companion for the evening threatens all that Kate has built. Before others in town hear word of a looming scandal, she must call upon all of her hard-won survival skills to save herself from ruin.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Praise for The Service of the Dead

“Robb’s deft hand creates a realistic political and commercial climate as King Richard II’s reign draws to a close in 1399. Comparable to Sara Poole’s Poisoner mysteries and Ariana Franklin’s Adelia Aguilar series, with its strong political setting and multiple plot strands.” (Booklist)

“A historical novel that deftly captures politics and interactions between different social interests in late medieval England…against the backdrop of social pressures and military actions, Kate’s character and world shine and draw readers into her choices and challenges.” (California Bookwatch)

“Kate Clifford is a wonderful creation, hard-nosed in some respects, compassionate and caring on the other. I look forward to the next installment of this delightful series!” (Historical Novels Review)

“The novel resonates with its compelling portrayal of an England on the brink of crisis.” (Publishers Weekly)

“The Service of the Dead is a tasty brew of political intrigue, larceny, and murder set within the walls of medieval York. Candace Robb’s latest historical mystery is steeped in the atmosphere of the late fourteenth century, and in Kate Clifford she’s given us a no-nonsense heroine and sleuth who is not only smart, but fierce when those she cares about are threatened. You’re going to love her.” (Patricia Bracewell, author of the Emma of Normandy Trilogy)

“The Service of the Dead by Candace Robb is a strikingly well-crafted novel that is a compelling page-turner from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community library historical fiction collections.” (Midwest Book Review)

A Twisted Vengeance by Candace Robb

Publication Date: May 9, 2017

Pegasus Books

Hardcover; 400 Pages

Series: Kate Clifford Mysteries, Book Two

Genre: Historical/Mystery/Thriller

As the fourteenth century comes to a close, York seethes on the brink of civil war?and young widow Kate Clifford, struggling to keep her businesses afloat, realizes that her mother is harboring a dangerous secret…

1399. York is preparing for civil war, teeming with knights and their armed retainers summoned for the city’s defense. Henry of Lancaster is rumored to have landed on the northeast coast of England, not so far from York, intent on reclaiming his inheritance?an inheritance which his cousin, King Richard, has declared forfeit.

With the city unsettled and rife with rumors, Eleanor Clifford’s abrupt return to York upon the mysterious death of her husband in Strasbourg is met with suspicion in the city. Her daughter Kate is determined to keep her distance, but it will not be easy?Eleanor has settled next door with the intention of establishing a house of beguines, or poor sisters. When one of the beguines is set upon in the night by an intruder, Kate knows that for the sake of her own reputation and the safety of her young wards she must investigate.

From the first, Eleanor is clearly frightened yet maintains a stubborn silence. The brutal murder of one of Eleanor’s servants leads Kate to suspect that her mother’s troubles have followed her from Strasbourg. Is she secretly involved in the political upheaval? When one of her wards is frightened by a too-curious stranger, Kate is desperate to draw her mother out of her silence before tragedy strikes her own household.

"Lovers of Shakespeare’s Richard II will find Robb’s intricate sequel to 2016’s The Service of the Dead a particular treat, as it charts the course of Richard’s downfall and his cousin Henry of Bolingbroke’s rise through the fears and uncertainties of the residents of the city of York in July 1399. These anxieties are worsened by a series of strange deaths connected to the extended family of Kate Clifford, a fierce young widow struggling to cope with not only her own household of jostling servants and the recently arrived illegitimate children of her late husband but also the return of her quarrelsome mother, Eleanor, from Strasbourg with religious women in tow. The character of Clifford is compelling and finely drawn, and for those readers who are patient enough to manage an unusually large number of secondary characters, the answers to a series of mysteries, starting with the reason for an intruder’s attack on a beguine (or poor sister) in the middle of the night, are highly satisfying." - Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

About the Author

Candace Robb did her graduate work in medieval literature and history, and has continued to study the period while working first as an editor of scientific publications and now for some years as a freelance writer. Candace has published 13 crime novels set in 14th century England, Wales, and Scotland. The Owen Archer series is based in York and currently extends over 10 novels beginning with THE APOTHECARY ROSE; the most recent is A VIGIL OF SPIES. The Margaret Kerr trilogy explores the early days of Scotland’s struggle again England’s King Edward I, and includes A TRUST BETRAYED, THE FIRE IN THE FLINT, and A CRUEL COURTSHIP.

Writing as Emma Campion, Candace has published historical novels about two fascinating women she encountered while researching the Owen Archer mysteries, Alice Perrers (THE KING’S MISTRESS) and Joan of Kent (A TRIPLE KNOT).

Candace was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has lived most of her adult life in Seattle, Washington, which she and her husband love for its combination of natural beauty and culture. Candace enjoys walking, hiking, and gardening, and practices yoga and vipassana meditation. She travels frequently to Great Britain.

For more information, please visit Candace Robb's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, May 9
Passages to the Past

Wednesday, May 10
The Reading Queen

Thursday, May 11
Carole Rae's Random Ramblings
The Paperback Princess

Friday, May 12
Jo's Book Blog

Saturday, May 13
The Never Ending Book

Monday, May 15
A Book Geek

Tuesday, May 16
So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, May 17
Book Nerd

Friday, May 19
Books, Dreams, Life

Saturday, May 20
Buried Under Books

Monday, May 22
The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, May 23
The Lit Bitch
A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, May 24
T's Stuff

Imagination Designs