Sunday, December 27, 2015

BOOK REVIEW - The King's Sister by Anne O'Brien

Pages: 560
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Date: November 2014

Book Blurb

One betrayal is all it takes to change history

1382. Daughter of John of Gaunt, sister to the future King Henry IV, Elizabeth of Lancaster has learned the shrewd tricks of the court from England’s most powerful men.

In a time of political turmoil, allegiance to family is everything. A Plantagenet princess should never defy her father’s wishes. Yet headstrong Elizabeth refuses to bow to the fate of a strategic marriage. Rejecting her duty, Elizabeth weds the charming and ruthlessly ambitious Sir John Holland: Duke of Exeter, half-brother to King Richard II and the one man she has always wanted.
But defiance can come at a price.

1399. Elizabeth’s brother Henry has seized the throne. Her husband, confidant to the usurped Richard, masterminds a secret plot against the new King. Trapped in a dangerous web, Elizabeth must make a choice.

Defy the King and betray her family. Or condemn her husband and send him to his death.

Sister. Wife. Traitor.

She holds the fate of England in her hands.

My Review 

Anne O’Brien is by far one of my favorite historical fiction authors, and I am reminded of why this is after reading “The King’s Sister”. I can honestly say that I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster while reading this novel. I laughed, cried, felt angry, shocked, and sad as I completely lost myself in this book due to Anne O’Brien’s superb writing skills. Prior to reading “The King’s Sister” I knew very little about Elizabeth of Lancaster. She has always been a minor character who I “met” in passing as I read novels about King Henry IV or her famous father the Duke of Lancaster. However, after reading this book, I honestly felt as though I knew her. Ms. O’Brien really has a way of bringing her characters to life for readers. I’ve read several of her novels, and I’ve loved every one. The way that the author describes the everyday lives of her characters makes them seem so real. Obviously Elizabeth of Lancaster truly was a real person hundreds of years ago, but there was very little that was known about her. As with many important women from history, their importance was overshadowed by whatever the men at that time were doing. However, the way that the author portrays Elizabeth of Lancaster feels right, and it is easy to picture her just as described. Since I knew so little about her life, I was shocked when certain events happened, and I actually got teared up towards the end. To be able to really connect with a character, to me, is a priority when I read a novel. I want to love, and sometimes even hate, the character. I want to feel like I KNOW the character by the time I finish the novel. Nothing is more disappointing than reading a novel and being unable to understand the main character or to have any type of strong emotions for the character.

“The King’s Sister” had my interest right from the beginning, and when I closed the book at the end, I wanted it to keep going. I have nothing but positive feelings and glowing praise for this novel, and it is a solid FIVE out of FIVE stars for me!

Praise for Anne O’Brien

‘The gripping tale of Elizabeth of Lancaster, sibling of Henry IV. Packed with love, loss and intrigue’ - Sunday Express S Magazine

‘Her writing is highly evocative of the time period… O’Brien has produced an epic tale’    - Historical Novel Society

‘Anne O’Brien’s novels give a voice to the “silent” women of history’ - Yorkshire Post

‘This book is flawlessly written and well researched, and will appeal to her fans and those who like Philippa Gregory’s novels’ – Birmingham Post

‘A brilliantly researched and well-told story; you won’t be able to put this book down’ - Candis

About Anne O'Brien

Anne was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire. After gaining a B.A. Honours degree in History at Manchester University, a PGCE at Leeds University and a Masters degree in education at Hull University, she lived in the East Riding as a teacher of history. Always a prolific reader, she enjoyed historical fiction and was encouraged to try her hand at writing. Success in short story competitions spurred her on.

Leaving teaching – but not her love of history – she wrote her first historical romance, a Regency, which was published in 2005. To date nine historical romances and a novella, ranging from medieval, through the Civil War and Restoration and back to Regency, have been published internationally.

Anne now lives with her husband in an eighteenth century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire, a wild, beautiful place on the borders between England and Wales, renowned for its black and white timbered houses, ruined castles and priories and magnificent churches. Steeped in history, famous people and bloody deeds as well as ghosts and folk lore, it has given her inspiration for her writing. Since living there she has become hooked on medieval history.
Sometimes she escapes from writing. She enjoys her garden, a large, rambling area where she grows vegetables and soft fruit as well as keeping control over herbaceous flower borders, a wild garden, a small orchard and a formal pond. With an interest in herbs and their uses, Anne has a herb patch constructed on the pattern of a Tudor knot garden and enjoys cooking with the proceeds. Gardening is a perfect time for her to mull over what she’s been writing, as she wages war on the weeds.

Learn more about Anne and her fantastic novels on her website:

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

BLOG TOUR - GUEST POST by Sophie Perinot, author of Medicis Daughter: Dangerous Seductions

I am excited to have Sophie Perinot, author of Medicis Daughter (click here for my review of this novel), share a post about Queen Catherine de Médicis l'escadron volant (flying squadron). So interesting!

Dangerous Seductions: The Cautionary Tale of the Baronne de Limeuil

At the conclusion of the first French War of Religion, Queen Catherine de Médicis made a calculated decision—the most important place to promote and maintain the tenuous peace was within the French Court itself.  Borrowing a page from her father-in-law, King Francis I, Catherine set out to amuse the heads of the great noble houses, hoping that if they were sufficiently distracted by pleasure and good living they would have no further interest in leading armies. As part of her plan Catherine, who up to this point had a pretty unremarkable household, assembled a collection of exquisite women from the best houses in France. These eighty to one-hundred beauties came to be called Her Majesty’s l'escadron volant (flying squadron). Its members dressed to dazzle and made witty conversation. Exactly what they did beyond that provides an excellent illustration of the difference between standards of conduct set at the French Court and behaviors that were, in reality, tolerated and even ordered.

Pierre de Brantôme (worldly abbot and recorder of royal doings) described the members of the Queen’s l’escadron volant as “very polite maidens,” and insisted they were highly virtuous, providing only the most innocent diversions to the gentlemen of the court.  It should be noted, however, that Brantôme was an enormous fan of Queen Catherine, and she returned the admiration (showing him profitable favor), presumably because he was a man who knew how to chronicle the court in a way that reflected well on the Valois.  So Brantôme’s description of Catherine’s ladies-in-waiting must be taken with a grain of salt.  The truth is probably closer to a cutting remark made by Jeanne d’Albret, Queen of Navarre, that, at the Valois Court, it is “not the men who invite the women, but the women who invite the men.” It is fairly clear from the historical record that Catherine wished her young dames d’honneur  to appear as models of decorum in settings where decorum was required, but to act in more lascivious ways—using seduction to both spy upon and control powerful gentlemen—where that was profitable to her.

This dichotomy was one of the unspoken rules that the youthful Princess Marguerite, main character in Médicis Daughter, had to decode when she joined her Mother’s household.  As a Royal princess whose virginity was coin of the realm, Margot also quickly learned that no double-standard would be tolerated in her case. Brining dishonor to the family was a dangerous act with frightful consequences.  This was true even for those ladies whose duty to the queen encompassed being the mistress of one great man or another.  Such women walked a tightrope between reward and ruin and the penalties for slipping and embarrassing Queen Catherine could be very severe.

A case in point—and one which Princess Marguerite would have witnessed firsthand—is the sad story of Isabelle de la Tour, Baronne de Limeuil.  The Baronne was a thirty-year-old dame d’honneur when Margot joined the court in 1564. At that point Isabelle had already been mistress to: Claude d’Aumale (brother of the influential Francis, Duc de Guise) and Florimond Robertet, Seigneur d’Alluye (a young secretary of state who was entirely a creation of the Guises). Both of these “placements” had served Catherine de Médicis’ need for eyes and ears within the powerful Guise entourage.  But when the old Duc de Guise was assassinated in 1563, the balance of power at the court changed. Ratification of the Peace of Amboise with the Protestant rebels just a month later shifted the balance further still. Scores of Protestant nobles returned to court to take up positions they had vacated to wage war against their king. The House of Bourbon was the most powerful and highly ranked of the returning families because it included the Princes of the Blood—men legitimately descended in dynastic line from France’s hereditary monarchs. Catherine needed a spy among the Bourbons, so that she might hear any whispers of new disloyalties to young Charles IX.  So the Baronne de Limeuil was set upon their leader—Louis de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, Huguenot chief, and negotiator of the treaty of Amboise.
So far so good.

Isabelle was where Catherine de Médicis wanted her to be and, while all at the court may have known of the lovely Baronne’s amour, blind eyes could be turned as needed or desired. Unfortunately, the Baronne allowed herself to fall in love with Condé. And then she did something even more unacceptable: she got pregnant. In fact, when Margot arrived at court for the Grand Royal Progress (see my blog post on this journey), Isabelle was already concealing her pregnancy.  What de Condé said about the situation is lost to history. But it is quite clear that Isabelle believed she would be taken care of by her lover.

Extraordinarily, Isabelle managed to keep her condition a secret until the fateful moment when—in June 1564, while the Royal Progress was stopped at Lyon[1]—she went into labor. Delivered of a boy, the baby was put in a basket with a note and quickly dispatched to the Prince de Condé (who was momentarily not with the royal travel party). The Baronne was much more roughly treated. Catherine was furious that Isabelle had allowed herself to become pregnant—never mind that it was in direct pursuit of her duties. Such a pregnancy reflected poorly on the morals of the Queen’s household, and on the King’s Court. Isabelle was summarily dismissed from royal service and banished to a convent where she was confined by Catherine’s orders. The Baronne experienced a moment of hope in her captivity when, just a month after her son’s birth, the Prince de Condé’s wife died. Isabelle believed she would be the next Princesse de Condé. But, the Prince did not rescue his former amante. Instead he married a girl from a prominent Protestant family, Francoise d’Orleans (who was only 16). The betrayal of Isabelle de la Tour, Baronne de Limeuil—by her Queen and by her beloved—was now complete.

Eventually, Catherine de Médicis released the Baronne from imprisonment. The price for that freedom? Well, in 1567 Isabelle was married off to one of her Catherine’s wealthy Italian financiers, Sardini Scipio. Thus she was freed only to be turned once again into a “reward” bestowed by her queen upon a powerful man. One imagines Isabelle felt no great affection for Catherine de Médicis at this point. It is certain that she was forever bitter at and furious with the Prince de Condé. When Condé was killed (March 1569), after surrendering at the Battle of Jarnac, the historical record tells us that Isabelle celebrated. Who can blame her?

The dramatic story of Isabelle de la Tour was a subplot in my first draft of Médicis Daughter. Alas, considerations of length and storytelling required me to remove it. But in the near future I will be sharing excerpts at my blog, so keep an eye out.

[1] Some sources suggest the birth was in May and at Dijon, but that is not my assessment.

BLOG TOUR - REVIEW: Medicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite De Valois by Sophie Perinot

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Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot s intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family.Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot's heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, aHuguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother's schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot's wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul. Médicis Daughter is historical fiction at its finest, weaving a unique coming-of-age story and a forbidden love with one of the most dramatic and violent events in French history.


My Review

I was seriously due for a great read after dealing with the past couple months of craziness in my life, and a great read is exactly what author Sophie Perinot provided! “Medicis Daugher: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois” was the perfect escape into the past, and I was able to quickly lose myself in this novel for long periods of time. Marguerite de Valois, called Princess Margot, is one of the daughters of Queen Catherine de Medici, who history has portrayed as a witch, poisoner, murderer, manipulator, and more. Margot fights to find her own way to happiness, in a world where her every move is controlled and manipulated by either her mother or her brother. The author, Sophie Perinot, did an excellent job bringing these intriguing historical figures to life for her readers. I like that she did not paint Catherine de Medici as either an evil sorceress or an innocent bystander, but stayed somewhere in the middle. Many books I have read about Catherine either portray her as at fault for everything that went wrong during her husband and son’s reigns, or as completely innocent, but Ms. Perinot takes the ‘middle road’ with her character in this novel. I also enjoyed reading more about the lives of Catherine’s children. I have read several novels about Catherine in the past, but the focus has always been on her life, not her children’s lives. It was interesting to see her sons shown as more than sickly, weak men. Also, in previous novels, Princess Margot was almost an afterthought, so I really enjoyed reading about her life. I was able to connect with her character while reading, and she definitely came to life for me in this novel. There is some romance in this novel, but it is far from your typical romance. Margot has her fair share of ups and downs, and as with most women during this era, there seem to be more “downs” than there are “ups” in her life. However, she is able to make it work, as she is a strong woman, who knew how to play it safe in a court where saying or doing the wrong thing could get you killed.

This time period in France, the late 1500’s, is completely fascinating. The author describes the people, places, and events of this time period with great accuracy, but does so in a way that keeps the story flowing smoothly, and without boring the reader. This is the second novel I have read by Ms. Perinot, as she also wrote “The Sister Queens” (another wonderful historical fiction novel!) I will continue to ready and review any of her future novels, as she is a historical fiction author who has made it onto my list of favorites! “Medicis Daughter” gets a solid FIVE out of FIVE stars from me!

Also, be sure to check out additional information about this fabulous novel by reading Sophie Perinot's Guest Post DANGEROUS SEDUCTIONS at Historical Fiction Obsession! 

Advance Praise

This is Renaissance France meets Game of Thrones: dark, sumptuous historical fiction that coils religious strife, court intrigue, passionate love, family hatred, and betrayed innocence like a nest of poisonous snakes. Beautiful Princess Margot acts as our guide to the heart of her violent family, as she blossoms from naive court pawn to woman of conscience and renown.A highly recommended coming-of-age tale where the princess learns to slay her own dragons! --Kate Quinn, Bestselling author of LADY OF THE ETERNAL CITY

"The riveting story of a 16th century French princess caught in the throes of royal intrigue and religious war. From the arms of the charismatic Duke of Guiseto the blood-soaked streets of Paris, Princess Marguerite runs a dangerous gauntlet, taking the reader with her. An absolutely gripping read!" --Michelle Moran, bestselling author of THE REBEL QUEEN 

"Rising above the chorus of historical drama is Perinot's epic tale of the fascinating, lascivious, ruthless House of Valois, as told through the eyes of the complicated and intelligent Princess Marguerite. Burdened by her unscrupulous family and desperate for meaningful relationships, Margot is forced to navigate her own path in sixteenth century France. Amid wars of nation and heart, Médicis Daughter brilliantly demonstrates how one unique woman beats staggering odds to find the strength and power that is her birthright." --Erika Robuck, bestselling author of HEMINGWAY'S GIRL

About the Author

SP SmallSOPHIE PERINOT is the author of The Sister Queens and one of six contributing authors of A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii. A former attorney, Perinot is now a full-time writer. She lives in Great Falls, Virginia with her three children, three cats, one dog and one husband.An active member of the Historical Novel Society, Sophie has attended all of thegroup s North American Conferences and served as a panelist multiple times. Findher among the literary twitterati as @Lit_gal or on Facebook.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 16
Review at The Mad Reviewer
Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, November 17
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, November 18
Review at The Maiden's Court
Thursday, November 19
Review at The Eclectic Reader
Friday, November 20
Review at The True Book Addict
Monday, November 23
Review at Broken Teepee
Guest Post at ALiterary Vacation
Tuesday, November 24
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Wednesday, November 25
Review at A Literary Vacation
Friday, November 27
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Monday, November 30
Review at
Tuesday, December 1
Review at To Read, Or Notto Read
Wednesday, December 2
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Thursday, December 3
Review at The Book Binder's Daughter
Friday, December 4
Guest Post at Bibliophilia, Please
Monday, December 7
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, December 8
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, December 9
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Thursday, December 10
Review at The Readers Hollow
Friday, December 11
Review at Reading Lark
Monday, December 14
Review at A Book Geek
Tuesday, December 15
Review at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, December 16
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Friday, December 18
Review & Interview at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Monday, December 21
Review at Bookish
Tuesday, December 22
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, December 23
Review & Guest Post at Historical Fiction Obsession
Monday, December 28
Review at Unshelfish
Tuesday, December 29
Interview at Unshelfish
Thursday, December 31
Review at The Reading Queen

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

BLOG TOUR - REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie

The Sisters of Versailles (Mistresses of Versailles, Book One) 

by Sally Christie

01_The Sisters of Versailles

Publication Date: September 1, 2015 
Publisher: Atria Books/Simon & Schuster 
Formats: Ebook, Paperback 
Pages: 432 
ISBN-10: 1501102966 
Genre: Historical Fiction

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 A sumptuous and sensual tale of power, romance, family, and betrayal centered around four sisters and one King. Carefully researched and ornately detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an exciting new historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France's most "well-beloved" monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed. Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear. Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters: Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne, four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Their scandalous story is stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail. Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best foot - and women - forward. The King's scheming ministers push Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, the four sisters:sweet, naive Louise; ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne, will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power. In the tradition of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Sisters of Versailles is a clever, intelligent, and absorbing novel that historical fiction fans will devour. Based on meticulous research on a group of women never before written about in English, Sally Christie's stunning debut is a complex exploration of power and sisterhood; of the admiration, competition, and even hatred that can coexist within a family when the stakes are high enough.

My Review

I don’t think that I can say enough great things about “The Sisters of Versailles” by Sally Christie. It has been awhile since I have read a book that I was unable to put down. A book where I became completely wrapped up in the character’s lives, and felt as though I really knew the characters intimately as I read. The author really brought this time period to life for me. I have read a few books that took place in France during the time of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, but this is the first book that I have read about the life of King Louis XV and his mistresses. In the books I have read where he has been mentioned, it has always been later in his life, when he was basically an old lecher. This novel gave me the chance to see him as he was as a young king, and also to get to “know” the women who kept him company outside of his marriage (and in the bedroom). It just so happened that out of five sisters, four ended up becoming his mistress, and any time one man has had relationships with four sisters, there is bound to be drama and intrigue. The author did an excellent job with regards to the conflict and the action within the story. One might think a book about a king’s mistresses might not have enough action to hold a reader's interest, but the author’s ability to describe the different sisters, and their extremely different relationships with the king, made the book impossible to put down. The sisters were all completely different people; from shy and naïve to loud and boisterous, all of these women had qualities that made them unique and interesting, especially to the king! I love that the author did not skimp on any of the sister's stories. Each sister has their own story with the king, and the author mad sure that each of their stories were interesting and exciting. I definitely feel more knowledgeable about this time period after reading this novel. I also felt that I was able to connect with each sister individually, though I did not necessarily like or agree with every sister’s actions, I do feel that I got to “know” them. The main characters are all complex and well-rounded, and for me to really enjoy a novel, I have to be able to connect with the main characters.

There is nothing negative to say about this novel, I loved it! I will definitely be looking for more novels by this author. This is a great work of historical fiction, but also has enough romance in it, without be raunchy, for those who enjoy historical romance. If only all the novels I read were as spectacular as “The Sisters of Versailles.” I wish I could get it more, but a FIVE out of FIVE stars will have to do!


“A stunning breadth of period detail, offered in a fresh, contemporary voice.” —Juliet Grey, author of the acclaimed Marie Antoinette trilogy 

 "Sally Christie's The Sisters of Versailles is an intriguing romp through Louis XV's France. Filled with lush backdrops, rich detail, and colorful characters, fans of historical fiction will enjoy this glimpse into the lost golden era of the French monarchy." – Allison Pataki, author of The Accidental Empress



04_Sally Christie_AuthorI'm a life-long history buff - and I mean life-long. One of the first adult books I read was Antonia Fraser's masterful Mary, Queen of Scots. Wow! That book just blew my little ten year old mind: something about the way it brought the past right back to life, made it live again on the page. I date my obsession with history to that time, but I'd been writing ("writing") ever since I was able to hold a pencil. If you'd told my 12-year old self that I'd not be a writer when I grew up, I would have laughed you out of the tree house. With a few detours along the way, to work overseas in consulting and development, as well as to go to business school, I've finally come full circle to where I think I should be. I currently live in Toronto and when I'm not writing, I'm playing lots of tennis; doing random historical research (old census records are my favorite); playing Scrabble, and squirrel-watching (the room where I write has French doors leading out to a deck; I avidly follow, and feed, a scruffy gang). For more information please visit Sally Christie's website. You can also find her on Goodreads and Pinterest.


Monday, September 14
Review at Reading the Past
Tuesday, September 15
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Interview & Giveaway at Mina's Bookshelf
Wednesday, September 16
Review at Bookish
Thursday, September 17
Review at The Book Binder's Daughter
Friday, September 18
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Saturday, September 19
Spotlight at Romantic Historical Reviews
Monday, September 21
Review at
Tuesday, September 22
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Wednesday, September 23
Review & Giveaway at History Undressed
Thursday, September 24
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Friday, September 25
Spotlight at Historical Readings & Views
Monday, September 28
Review & Giveaway at View From the Birdhouse
Tuesday, September 29
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Thursday, October 1
Review at Genre Queen
Review at bookramblings
Friday, October 2
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Monday, October 5
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, October 6
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, October 7
Review at The Lit Bitch
Thursday, October 8
Interview & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Friday, October 9
Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession

Giving away ONE PAPERBACK COPY of "The Sisters of Versailles"! 


– Must be 18 or older to enter.
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Giveaway ends 10/21/15

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Monday, September 7, 2015

BLOG TOUR - REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Avelynn by Marissa Campbell


Avelynn by Marissa Campbell

Publication Date: September 8, 2015 
St. Martin's Press 
Formats: eBook, Paperback, Hardcover 
Pages: 320 
ISBN13: 978-1250063939 
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

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   One extraordinary Saxon noblewoman and one fearless Viking warrior find passion and danger in this dazzling and sensuous debut. Marissa Campbell's debut novel is a winning combination of romance, history, and adventure sure to appeal to fans of Diana Gabaldon. It is 869. For eighteen years, Avelynn, the beautiful and secretly pagan daughter of the Eadlorman of Somerset has lived in an environment of love and acceptance. She hasn't yet found a man to make her heart race, but her father has not pressured her to get married. Until now. With whispers of war threatening their land, her father forces Avelynn into a betrothal with Demas, a man who only covets her wealth and status. The dreaded marriage looming, she turns to her faith, searching for answers in an ancient ritual along the coast, only to find Alrik the Blood-Axe and sixty Viking berserkers have landed. Alrik is unlike any man she has ever known, strong and intriguing. Likewise, he instantly falls for her beauty and courage. The two stumble into a passionate love affair, but it's more than just a greedy suitor who will try to keep them apart. As the Saxons and Vikings go to war, Avelynn and Alrik find themselves caught in the throes of fate. Can they be true to their people as well as to each other?


My Review

“Avelynn” by Marissa Campbell is an intriguing novel about a passionate woman from the 800’s. She was not raised like a normal girl was during that time period. She had been allowed by her father to speak her mind, and to have some say in her future; to a point. Eventually he becomes tired of waiting for her to choose a husband, and decides to choose one for her. Avelynn is set on marrying for love and passion, and the man her father has chosen for her is her worst nightmare. However, she has met a man who ignites the flames of passion inside her, something that no other man has done. The problem is, there is no way she can be with him, and no way would her father or anyone approve of him.

This is an interesting book, and I like Avelynn’s character the majority of the time. I like that she is passionate, and that she is a strong female character in a time when women were made to be submissive, and had their lives mapped out for them by their fathers. I don’t feel like I really knew her though, at least not as well as I would have liked. I felt that I knew her character on the surface, but I would have liked to understand her thoughts and feelings more. Like, her “dabbling” with the goddess rituals—I felt like there was not a whole lot that led up to this. Also, we were only introduced to the man she is betrothed to that she can’t stand, and we’re given a quick glimpse of one suitor that she had turned down,  but it would have been interesting to have an idea of what other types of men she had rejected. I don’t know, I just felt like I didn’t know her very well as a reader, so it was hard to get really invested in her character, I liked her, but didn’t love her, if that makes sense. Also, while it is an interesting book, it took a while to pick up. I really didn’t get interested in it until she met the man that she basically fell passionately in love with in less than a day. After that happened, the book began to pick up, and there was some suspense, and something to look forward to. Prior to that, it did drag for me.

“Avelynn” is well written, and the author obviously did her research when writing it. I like the descriptions, and the author’s writing style, and I would recommend this book to readers, because I think that it is a book that people will enjoy. I usually enjoy historical fiction that is based on a real historical figures life, so that could possibly be why this wasn’t a five star book for me? As it is, I would give this book a 4 stars out of 5. 


"Marissa Campbell brings a long-forgotten era splendidly to life in this adventurous and passionate debut." - Susanna Kearsley, New York Times bestselling author

"Avelynn is a captivating tale of star-crossed lovers. He is a Viking and she is a Saxon. Their struggle to be together will lead you on an exciting journey through a background filled with rich and detailed description." - Connie Mason, New York Times bestselling author of Viking Warrior

"Marissa Campbell's Avelynn is a fast-paced, rollicking historical novel whose irresistible heroine starts out as the willful daughter of a Saxon earl and evolves into a warrior and leader, as fierce as she is passionate." - Barbara Rogan, author of A Dangerous Fiction and Suspicion

"A hot-blooded tale of Viking invasion, Saxon valor, and a love that conquers kingdoms. Get ready to be bewitched by the bold, brave Avelynn." - Barbara Kyle, author of The Queen's Exiles



03_Marissa Campbell_AuthorMarissa Campbell is a published freelance author, and co-author of the award-winning, spiritual self-help book Life: Living in Fulfillment Every Day. Look for her debut historical fiction Avelynn coming September 8th, 2015, from St. Martin’s Press. Currently, hard at work on the second book in the Avelynn series, she is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, Writer’s Community of Durham Region, and local critique group B7. When she is not writing, she is busy looking after her wonderful children, spending time with her fantastic husband, hanging out with her awesome friends, teaching yoga, dancing, laughing, and having fun! For more information visit You can also follow Marissa Campbell on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Monday, September 7
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, September 8
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession
Wednesday, September 9
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Thursday, September 10
Interview at Unshelfish
Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise
Friday, September 11
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book
Saturday, September 12
Excerpt & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Sunday, September 13
Review at Genre Queen
Monday, September 14
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, September 15
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Friday, September 18
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Spotlight at Romantic Historical Reviews
Monday, September 21
Interview & Excerpt at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, September 22
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, September 23
Review at Curling up by the Fire
Thursday, September 24
Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day
Sunday, September 27
Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews
Monday, September 28
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Tuesday, September 29
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Wednesday, September 30
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Thursday, October 1
Review & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation
Friday, October 2 Review at The True Book Addict

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

BOOK TOUR - REVIEW, & GIVEAWAY: Andersonville by Edward M. Erdelac

Hydra | Aug 18, 2015 | 272 Pages


Readers of Stephen King and Joe Hill will devour this bold, terrifying new novel from Edward M. Erdelac. A mysterious man posing as a Union soldier risks everything to enter the Civil War’s deadliest prison—only to find a horror beyond human reckoning.

Georgia, 1864. Camp Sumter, aka Andersonville, has earned a reputation as an open sewer of sadistic cruelty and terror where death may come at any minute. But as the Union prisoners of war pray for escape, cursing the fate that spared them a quicker end, one man makes his way into the camp purposefully.

Barclay Lourdes has a mission—and a secret. But right now his objective is merely to survive the hellish camp. The slightest misstep summons the full fury of the autocratic commander, Captain Wirz, and the brutal Sergeant Turner. Meanwhile, a band of shiftless thieves and criminals known as the “Raiders” preys upon their fellow prisoners. Barclay soon finds that Andersonville is even less welcoming to a black man—especially when that man is not who he claims to be. Little does he imagine that he’s about to encounter supernatural terrors beyond his wildest dreams . . . or nightmares.

My Review

“Andersonville” by Edward M. Erdelac is a great historical fiction read if you’re interested in the Civil War. It does not really give you a lot of insight about the actual war, but you are able to clearly see the inner workings of a Civil War Prison Camp. Andersonville was the most notorious prisoner of war camp there was during the Civil War in America. The prisoners were starved, abused, and not provided proper medical care.  A lot of this had to do with the fact that it was located in Georgia, which was controlled by the Confederacy, and it was during a time in the war when the south did not have enough supplies to keep their own troops fed and clothed properly, so obviously they were not going to give the Union soldiers more than their own men were receiving. This novel shows the prison through the eyes of a black man named Barclay Lourdes. Through his eyes the reader is able to see how the prisoners were treated, and how the racism towards blacks was shown not only from the Confederates who were in charge of the camp, but also by many of his fellow prisoners. The author did a great job of describing the suffering the men were going through, and what an actual day was like as a prisoner within the walls of Andersonville. He definitely goes into some detailed descriptions when writing about some of the sickening things that happened while inside the prison camp, so if you’re squeamish be prepared.

The reason I’m not giving it a full five stars has to do with the elements of voodoo/supernatural within this book. I am completely fine with reading about people practicing voodoo, and things similar to it, but when the characters started talking about the guards and Wirz (the man who ran the camp and was later convicted of war crimes) being actually possessed by evil spirits and things like that, it was just a little too much for me. I think it kind of took the historical fiction element away, and gave it too much of a supernatural feel for me, and I’m just not a fan of reading about the supernatural. Another reason I could not give it a full five stars is because I read a different historical fiction book named “Andersonville” around 10 years ago. This book is a lot like that one, but in my opinion, not as good. So, while this book IS a good read, and I DO like it, I could only give it FOUR out of FIVE stars. Definitely worth picking up to read if you like Civil War historical fiction.


“The true story of Andersonville is one of unimaginable horror and human misery. It’s a testament to his unmatched skill as a storyteller that Edward M. Erdelac is not only able to capture that horror but to add another level of supernatural terror and reveal that the darkest evil of all resides in the human soul. Highly recommended to fans of horror and history alike.”—Brett J. Talley, Bram Stoker Award–nominated author of That Which Should Not Be and He Who Walks in Shadow

“Andersonville is a raw, groundbreaking supernatural knuckle-punch. Erdelac absolutely owns Civil War and Wild West horror fiction.”—Weston Ochse, bestselling author of SEAL Team 666

About the Author

Edward M. Erdelac is a member of the Horror Writers Association and the author of six novels (including the acclaimed weird western series Merkabah Rider) and several short stories. He is an independent filmmaker, award-winning screenwriter, and sometime Star Wars contributor. Born in Indiana, educated in Chicago, he resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and a bona fide slew of children and cats.

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Author Links

Andersonville by Edward M. Erdelac TLC Book Tours Book Stops

Monday, August 17th: Bell, Book & Candle
Tuesday, August 18th: Fourth Street Review
Tuesday, August 18th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, August 19th: The Reader’s Hollow
Wednesday, August 19th: Tynga’s Reviews
Thursday, August 20th: A Book Geek
Monday, August 24th: Bewitched Bookworms
Tuesday, August 25th: Kissin’ Blue Karen
Wednesday, August 26th: Kari J. Wolfe
Thursday, August 27th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, August 31st: It’s a Mad Mad World
Tuesday, September 1st: SJ2B House of Books
Wednesday, September 2nd: Historical Fiction Obsession
Thursday, September 3rd: Kimberly’s Bookshelf
Friday, September 4th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Monday, September 7th: From the TBR Pile