Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Review: "The Northern Queen" by Kelly Evans



From Goodreads:  St. Brice’s Day, England, 1002. At the order of King Aethelred, thousands of Danes are murdered in a frenzy of ethnic cleansing.

Outraged, the Danish King, Sweyn Forkbeard, swears he will take Aethedred’s head, and his crown. But Sweyn needs allies. Chief amongst his supporters is Aelfgifu, an English noblewoman and head of a once great family.

She has her own reasons to hate Aethelred, and as a pagan, she is sympathetic to the Danish cause. When Aelfgifu marries Sweyn’s son, Canute, war is inevitable.

But if Aethelred is weak, his Norman queen is not. And Emma will stop at nothing to destroy the woman at the heart of the Viking army.

Love, ambition and revenge combine in an epic struggle for justice during the most turbulent period in England’s history.


My Thoughts:  This book was such a surprise to me!  I had no idea what to expect going into it but I ended up really enjoying the story.  I have read very little about this period in English history but now I think I need to read more because I was completely captivated by the story of Aelfgifu.  Hers is a story filled with action, adventure and romance and it sucked me in through the very last page.

Aelfgifu is the quintessential heroine.  She is smart and tough and always seems able to handle whatever life life throws at her.  She is such an honorable character and I couldn't help but root for her throughout the book.  I also love that she is portrayed as such a loving mother who would do anything to protect her children and their birthright.  Emma is very clearly the villain in this story but I also thought she was an interesting character.  She was conniving and violent but beneath that she was also a strong woman trying to deal with the hardships life threw at her.  While I did not like her at all, I kind of felt bad for her and her circumstances.

In addition to great characters, the story has a really cool setting.  The reader gets to see England, Denmark and Norway as well as the people of those countries and their customs.  I liked reading about how each country governed themselves and their way of life; it was truly fascinating.

Overall, The Northern Queen is a great read for anyone interested in lesser known historical periods and those who just love a good story.  4 stars.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Mailbox Monday (56)

I'm linking up with Mailbox Monday again this week.  I've been trying hard not to buy books but yesterday, I completely failed.  It's so hard to resist a kindle sale!

I participated in Dewey's Readathon yesterday and got in a decent amount of reading (though not as much as I would have liked).  I'm getting ready to start week 3 at my new job so it was nice to relax a little bit with a good book this weekend.

Purchased (for kindle):


From the Library (ebook and physical):




 What books did you pick up this week? 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon April 2016 - Master Post






Hey y'all, it's that time again!  The first readathon of 2016 is here!  I'm feeling pretty nervous about it right now because I'm not sure how much reading I will actually get done but it's such a fun event that I can't help but participate.  Julia has swimming lessons in the morning and we have lots of errands to run so I'll try to do most of my reading while riding in the car.

I don't have a fun stack of physical books to showcase but I have four books on my kindle that I plan to choose from.  I've started The Beast but I'm not really feeling it right now so I'll probably begin the day with something else.  I do have some reading to do for the class I'm taking so even though I won't be reading a book during that time, I will be reading. : )


On my stack:
The Virgin's War by Laura Andersen
The Beast by J.R. Ward
The Midnight Watch by David Dyer
The Tsarina's Legacy by Jennifer Laam

Most of my check ins will be on twitter since that's the easiest for me.  You can follow me here: @so_many_books.  I will try to post occasional updates on the blog when my daughter is napping and goes to bed in the evening.


HOUR 0 Questionaire
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?  I'm in Kansas and the weather is supposed to be gorgeous.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?  I'm looking forward to The Virgin's War.  I love this series and even though I know I should read one of the others first, I think it will be the one I start with.

 3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?  Not sure.  I have to go to the store tomorrow so we'll see what I come home with

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!  I'm a mom to a crazy smart, sassy, adorable, almost 3 year old.  I live with my husband, daughter and crazy dog.  I work in higher education which is an adventure and a half. AND I love to read. 

 5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?  I would like to visit more blogs and cheer people on even if it's just on twitter or Facebook.

HOUR 7 UPDATE
It has been a crazy busy morning.  We had swim lessons this morning and then errands and lunch and more errands.  The hubs is currently putting the toddler down for a nap so I'm going to try to get some more reading in.  We did stop at my favorite bakery for some yummy treats so I'm feeling super ready to read!  So far, I have only read 19% of The Virgin's War.  It's probably more than I would normally read by this time on a Saturday but still I feel like a slacker.  Hopefully, I will have a better update this evening.  

I hope everyone's having a great readathon!

Final Wrap Up
So I ended up reading a total of 72% of The Virgin's War plus 3 articles for my class before I went to bed last night (and I finished after the readathon was over).  I definitely read more than I usually would on a Saturday but I still kind of miss the pre-kids readathon days where I could just lay on the couch and not be bothered.  I definitely wish I had more time during the day to visit blogs and twitter but the yesterday wound up being a lot busier than I had planned.  Looking forward to the next readathon; hopefully the toddler can go visit grandma that day!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts (15)

Hey! I'm linking up with the Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts at Bookishly Boisterous today!

1.) I want to read ALL the things right now despite having almost no time for reading.  I have been beefing up my library and goodreads lists and I'm so ready for work to die down and for my class to be over so I can jump into a ton of good books.

2.) I'm currently taking a class on the Holocaust right and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.  I'm learning about it in a way that is completely new and it's really fascinating.  That being said, it's more upsetting than I thought it would be.  Now that I have a kid, seeing pictures of children in ghettos or lined up with their mothers to be shot or go to the gas chambers is just a bit more than I can handle.  It makes it seem even more unimaginably awful then before.  (Sorry for that depressing tidbit.)

3.) I got a new job (!) and I start on Monday.  I'm now frantically trying to tie up all kinds of loose ends before Friday and I have no idea how everything is going to get done!

4.) I'm on a major ebook kick right now.  It's so much easier for me to read on my kindle/nook while on the treadmill or on my phone when I have a minute or two.  At least with life being so busy right now, physical books are just kind of a hassle.  I'm sure in a month or two, I'll be reading more physical books but I'm really thankful that there are multiple ways to read a book.  Thank you technology!

5.)  My little toddler is going to be 3 in June and I can't believe it.  It really does go by so fast.  I'm already planning her birthday party and have bought part of her gift; I'm just really excited for it.  We had a huge party last year and it was a little over the top so I think this year we're going to keep it much more simple.

6.) I have been absolutely terrible at blogging this year.  I'm really going to make a concerted effort to post more even if it's just once a week.

7.)  I swore that I was going to cut back (almost completely) on review books this year.  That is until I went on NetGalley a few days ago and found five or six books that I absolutely had to read.  Oops.  I'm really failing at my specific reading goals this year.

I hope you all have a great rest of the week!


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

March 2016 Wrap Up

I am so late in posting this but since I skipped February, I decided to go for it anyway.  March was a very busy month!  The hubs, toddler and I went to California to visit my family and we had a blast.  Traveling was a bit tricky but once we got there, it was great.  It made me miss them even more than I already do!  I also applied and interviewed for a new job which I start next week.  It's exciting but I still have a ton of stuff to do to get ready.  I just need to keep swimming (the toddler has been watching a lot of Nemo lately!).

I am right on track with my reading goal this year.  I haven't been reading as many books as in passed years but I am taking a class this semester with a pretty heavy reading load so I am still doing a lot of reading.  I have read 14 books this year (out of my goal of 52) and goodreads.com says I am 1 book ahead of schedule. 

Here is what I read in March:

1.) At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier
2.) The Virgin's Daughter by Laura Andersen
3.) The Northern Queen by Kelly Evans
4.) No Greater Love by Danielle Steel
5.) The Captain's Daughter by Leah Fleming

My March stats were:

-5 books read
   -0 non-fiction
   -5 historical fiction
   -2 review books
   -3 library books
   -0 books I own
   -2 ebooks

My reading goals also including reading books I own which I failed at miserably this month.  I also want to focus more on reading non-fiction this year; my stats for the month reflect that I haven't been successful at that.  However, the class I'm taking is on the Holocaust and everything I am reading is non-fiction so I think that counts for something. 

Since the year is a 1/4 of the way over, I thought I would share my year to date stats too:

-14 books read
   -3 non-fiction
   -9 historical fiction
   -3 review books
   -7 library books
   -4 books I own
   -9 ebooks

Hopefully by the time 2016 is half over, I will have upped my non-fiction and books I own numbers!

I hope you all have a great day!  What did you read in March?

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Book Blast and Giveaway: "The Tapestry" by Nancy Bilyeau

02_The TapestryThe Tapestry (Joanna Stafford #3)
by Nancy Bilyeau


Paperback Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
Paperback; 416 Pages

Series: Joanna Stafford
Genre: Historical Mystery

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"Fans of the Tudor era, you're in for a treat" --InStyle magazine

Henry VIII's Palace of Whitehall is the last place on earth Joanna Stafford wants to be. But a summons from the king cannot be refused.

After her priory was destroyed, Joanna, a young Dominican novice, vowed to live a quiet life, weaving tapestries and shunning dangerous conspiracies. That all changes when the king takes an interest in her tapestry talent.

With a ruthless monarch tiring of his fourth wife and amoral noblemen driven by hidden agendas, Joanna becomes entangled in court politics. Her close friend, Catherine Howard, is rumored to be the king's mistress, and Joanna is determined to protect her from becoming the king's next wife--and victim. All the while, Joanna tries to understand her feelings for the two men in her life: the constable who tried to save her and the friar she can't forget.

Ina world of royal banquets, jousts, sea voyages and Tower Hill executions, Joanna must finally choose her future: nun or wife, spy or subject, rebel or courtier.

The Tapestry is the final book in a trilogy that began in 2012 with The Crown, an Oprah magazine pick. Don't miss the adventures of one of the most unforgettable heroines in historical fiction.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound



Praise


“In Joanna Stafford, Bilyeau has given us a memorable character who is prepared to risk her life to save what she most values.” (Deborah Harkness)

“Nancy Bilyeau's passion for history infuses her books and transports us back to the dangerous world of Tudor England. Vivid characters and gripping plots are at the heart of this wonderful trilogy, and this third book will not fail to thrill readers. Warmly recommended!” (Alison Weir, author of The Marriage Game: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth I)

"A rip-roaring Tudor adventure from Nancy Bilyeau! Novice nun turned tapestry weaver Joanna Stafford returns to the court of Henry VIII. She's that great rarity of historical fiction: a fiercely independent woman who is still firmly of her time. A mystery as richly woven as any of Joanna's tapestries." (Kate Quinn, author of Lady of the Eternal City)

"The Tapestry takes its history seriously, but that doesn't stop it from being a supremely deft, clever and pacy entertainment. This is Nancy Bilyeau's most thrilling - and enlightening - novel in the Joanna Stafford series yet." (Andrew Pyper, International Thriller Writers Award winner of The Demonologist and The Damned)

"A master of atmosphere, Nancy Bilyeau imbues her novel with the sense of dread and oppression lurking behind the royal glamour; in her descriptions and characterizations . . . Bilyeau breathes life into history." (Laura Andersen, author of The Boleyn King)

"In The Tapestry, Nancy Bilyeau brilliantly captures both the white-hot religious passions and the brutal politics of Tudor England. It is a rare book that does both so well." (Sam Thomas, author of The Midwife’s Tale)

“In spite of murderous plots, volatile kings, and a divided heart, Joanna Stafford manages to stay true to her noble character. Fans of Ken Follett will devour Nancy Bilyeau’s novel of political treachery and courageous love, set amid the endlessly fascinating Tudor landscape.” (Erika Robuck, author of Hemingway’s Girl)

“These aren't your mother's nuns! Nancy Bilyeau has done it again, giving us a compelling and wonderfully realized portrait of Tudor life in all its complexity and wonder. A nun, a tapestry, a page-turning tale of suspense: this is historical mystery at its finest.” (Bruce Holsinger, author of A Burnable Book and The Invention of Fire)

About the Author02_Nancy Bilyeau


Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Ladies Home Journal. She is currently the executive editor of DuJour magazine. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her screenplay “Zenobia” placed with the American Zoetrope competition, and “Loving Marys” reached the finalist stage of Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013, and THE TAPESTRY in 2015.

Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Stay in touch with her on Twitter at @tudorscribe. For more information or to sign up for Nancy’s Newsletter please visit her official website.

Book Blast Schedule


Tuesday, March 22
Just One More Chapter
Historical Fiction Addicts
Svetlana's Reads and Views

Wednesday, March 23
Passages to the Past
With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Thursday, March 24
Impressions In Ink
The Life & Times of a Book Addict

Friday, March 25
The Reading Queen
Queen of All She Reads

Saturday, March 26
A Holland Reads

Sunday, March 27
Layered Pages

Monday, March 28
A Book Drunkard
Historical Readings & Reviews

Tuesday, March 29
Book Nerd
Carpe Librum

Wednesday, March 30
The Lit Bitch
Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne

Thursday, March 31
A Book Geek
What Is That Book About

Friday, April 1
CelticLady's Reviews
A Dream within a Dream

Saturday, April 2
So Many Books, So Little Time

Sunday, April 3
Susan Heim on Writing

Monday, April 4
100 Pages a Day
A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, April 5
The Tudor Enthusiast
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Giveaway


Two paperbacks of The Tapestry by Nancy Bilyeau are up for grabs! To enter, please use the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US addresses 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.

The Tapestry Book Blast
   

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