Friday, February 27, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Rogue Queen by Marcia Maxwell

  • ISBN-13: 9781507503416
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/9/2015
  • Pages: 378


In the year of grace 1308 Isabelle of France marries Edward II of England, becoming his Queen Consort. She soon discovers, however, that the king is not the man of her dreams but rather an unstable, erratic individual who prefers digging ditches and thatching roofs to running the country, coupled with a dangerous obsession for greedy and ambitious male favorites who do not like sharing the king's favors. Isolated and powerless in the English Court, Isabelle struggles to protect herself and her children as she slowly gains friends and allies. But how can she, a woman, prevent her adopted country from descending into the chaos of war between the barons and the king? And what is the meaning of the oubliette that haunts her dreams?

Filled with meticulously researched detail, The Rogue Queen recounts the incredible true story of one woman who refused to accept society's limited role for her as it brings to vivid life the people and events of fourteenth century England.

My Review

I was lucky enough to receive this book directly from the author in return for an honest review on my blog.

The Rogue Queen by Marcia Maxwell had me hooked from the very start, which is obviously the absolute best thing you can say about a book! I thought the research was well done, although the book seemed to have a bit of a different account of the lives of King Edward II and Queen Isabelle. That’s fine by me though, because the same book about historical characters, written by different authors, gets boring. I like to see a bit of a different twist on the lives of historical figures, to see an author’s different perspective of the lives of these fascinating people.

The author did an amazing job at describing the different scenes, as well as where they took place and the details of these places. I was really able to picture the different characters and scenes clearly through the author’s descriptions and clear writing style. She also did a great job at not bogging the reader down with pages and pages of details, there was an equal balance between descriptions, dialogue, and action. The only complaint that I have, would be that the dialogue is pretty modern, and that was a little off putting when reading a novel that takes place in the 1300’s. However, I was able to look past that, and overall enjoy the novel. Plus, I must admit that I have a soft spot in my heart of Ms. Maxwell, as she is a High School French Teacher, and I am a High School English Teacher, and we teachers must stick together these days!!

I give this novel a FOUR out of FIVE stars!

Meet the Author

Marcia Maxwell first stumbled upon Isabelle's story while editing a fourteenth century manuscript in Anglo-Norman French for her Ph.D. thesis at Michigan State University, which is not as dull as it sounds. Now living in the Pacific Northwest, when she's not writing she teaches high school French.

Buy The Rogue Queen


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Thursday, February 26, 2015

BLOG TOUR, GUEST POST, REVIEW, & GIVEAWAY: The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

 What I hope you, the reader, will take away from reading The Accidental Empress...

I want readers to finish The Accidental Empress feeling like they’ve taken an exquisite journey to another time and place—that they have been immersed into the world of Habsburg Vienna and Budapest. I want readers to be inspired to learn more about Sisi—whether that means traveling to her locales, reading more about her, or studying the history of the time period.

I also want readers to see that, even though Sisi was an Empress who lived in a glittering kingdom with an Emperor for a husband, that this is not your typical fairy tale. Sisi’s struggles and emotions and joys and defeats were incredibly relatable. No, we don’t all live in grand palaces, but we are all human, and Sisi was not afraid to show her humanness—even though more-than-humanness was expected of her. People thought Sisi ruled by “divine right,” that she was “God’s chosen vessel,” and yet, we know from her story that she was just a young woman involved in a tumultuous marriage with personal struggles of her own. She is a leading lady we can all root for and empathize with.

Sisi was a fascinating, complex, modern, beautiful, and tragic leading lady in her own time. And yet, somehow, she has become a footnote in modern history. It is so interesting to me how many women—women who accomplished huge things—have slipped through the cracks of history with their stories going largely untold.

I want people to read the story of Sisi so that they can empathize with the great things she did and tried to do. So that they can be transported to the beautiful and romantic world of the imperial Habsburg Court, filled with Walt Disney-esque castles and grand ballrooms and violin waltzes. So that they can empathize with the incredibly difficult and human difficulties Sisi weathered. So that they can be inspired in their own lives to learn more about history in a fun, entertaining and accessible way.

Sisi is a woman people should know. She presided over the golden era of the Habsburg Court, an age that gave us advances in culture and the arts and architecture, as well as advances in science and politics. Her family gave us the castle that we all know of as “The Walt Disney Castle.” Her family gave us the waltz and Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Klimt’s paintings. Sisi ruled at the time that a young Doctor named Sigmund Freud was just down the street in Vienna inventing psychoanalysis. And this reign of Sisi and Franz Joseph takes us right up to the doorstep of World War I. Her heir was the man who was assassinated (Archduke Franz Ferdinand), setting off World War I, the greatest armed conflict the world had known to that point.

We’ve read all about Anne Boleyn and the Tudors. We’ve read about Marie Antoinette. We’ve read about the Medici in Italy and the Tsarinas in Russia, and yet, Sisi’s story is more compelling and complex than all of those, I believe. I hope people will really enjoy diving into the world of Sisi and the Habsburg Court.

My Review:

The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki was wonderfully written and very well researched. The characters were very thoughtfully developed, as were the dialogues throughout the novel. This book was definitely a page turner from beginning until end, which above everything, is what I look for in a book. I have not read many books (if any) that were set during this historical era, and due to the excellent research that the author put into writing this novel, I really felt like I walked away from this book with a lot of new found knowledge relating to the people and the cultures of the time. Sisi’s life is incredible, and she definitely makes her mark on history when she and Emperor Franz Joseph of the Holy Roman Empire meet and fall in love and end up marrying, even though she had originally gone as a companion to her sister, who was the one who was really supposed to marry the Emperor, and become the Empress. However, as fate would have it, he became captivated by the younger sister, and the rest is history, fascinating history that the author captures perfectly!

I would definitely recommend this book to all fans of historical fiction, it is definitely worth the money! I give The Accidental Empress a FIVE out of FIVE stars!

Tour Schedule The Accidental Empress 

Monday, February 9th - 
Reader Girls - Guest Post 

Tuesday, February 10th - 
Sassy Book Lovers - Excerpt 

Wednesday, February 11th - 
Fine Lines - Author Interview 

Thursday, February 12th - 
Reading Reality - Guest Post 

Friday, February 13th - 
Fiktshun - Author Interview - 

Monday, February 16th - 
The Maiden's Court - Guest Post 

Tuesday, February 17th - 
Bewitched Bookworms - Author Interview 

Wednesday, February 18th - 
Fire and Ice - Guest Post 

Thursday, February 19th - 
Bookish - Author Interview 

Friday, February 20th - 
Curling Up With A Good Book - Author Interview 

Monday, February 23rd - 
Books and Things - Guest Post 

Tuesday, February 24th - 
Books Glorious Books - Excerpt 

Wednesday, February 25th - 
Sara In Bookland - Author Interview 

Thursday, February 26th - 
Historical Fiction Obsession - Guest Post 

Friday, February 27th - 
Library of a Book Witch - Author Interview 

About the Author

Allison Pataki is the author of the New York Times bestselling historical novel, The Traitor's Wife. She graduated Cum Laude from Yale University with a major in English and spent several years writing for TV and online news outlets. The daughter of former New York State Governor George E. Pataki, Allison was inspired to write her second novel, The Accidental Empress, by her family’s deep roots in the former Habsburg empire of Austria-Hungary. Allison is the co-founder of the nonprofit organization, ReConnect Hungary. Allison is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and, as well as a member of The Historical Novel Society. Allison lives in Chicago with her husband. To learn more and connect with Allison visit or on Twitter.

  • Add the book to your shelf on GoodReads
  • Get a Copy: Allison's Website | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million
  • February 17th 2015 by Howard Books

  • Find Allison Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

    Thanks to Allison Pataki and Simon & Schuster, one lucky winner will receive a $120 gift card to the ebook retailer of their choice (Amazon/B&N/iTunes)! 

    Please enter via the Rafflecopter form. 

    Giveaway is open internationally.

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015

    BLOG TOUR INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Confederado do Norte by Linda Bennett Pennell

    02_Confederado Do Norte_Cover

    Publication Date: July 7, 2014 
    Soul Mate Publishing 
    eBook; 310p 
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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     After surviving war, young Mary Catherine is torn from her home and thrust into a strange new life when her family decamps for Brazil rather than live with the terms of Reconstruction. Shortly after arrival in Brazil, she is orphaned, leaving only maternal uncle Nathan to care for her. He hates Mary Catherine, blaming her for his beloved sister’s death following a childish mistake. He is also a man with an incredible secret that he will go to great lengths to protect. When the opportunity for Nathan to be rid of her arises, Mary Catherine faces either forced marriage to an unsuitable man or flight into the wilderness containing jaguars and enclaves of people with much to hide. Mary Catherine chooses escape. Finding refuge among strangers who become her surrogate parents, she matures into a beauty who marries the scion of a wealthy Portuguese family. At last, Mary Catherine has happiness and security until civil unrest brings armed intruders with whom she has an inexplicable connection. When the thugs murder her husband for failing to meet their demands, she directs them to her uncle and his secret in order to save herself and her in-laws. With the danger passed, however, her husband’s family demands that she is arrested for complicity in her husband’s murder. Innocent and betrayed by family for a second time, Mary Catherine must now fight for survival. Mary Catherine is rescued from the gallows by friends, but cannot remain in Brazil. She boards a ship bound for New York with little money and without a home to return to, a family to welcome her, or a nation from which to claim citizenship. Her father never took the loyalty oath required of all former Confederates in order to have their citizenship restored. Once again, she must recreate herself in order to survive. In old age, Mary Catherine is still haunted by the long ago events for which she feels responsible. After a lifetime trying to forget, she seeks peace, understanding, and the ability to forgive through writing her story, Confederado do Norte.

    Interview with Linda Bennett Pennell

    What do you do when you are not writing?

    When not writing, you can find me singing with the Texas Master Chorale, working as a substitute administer for the local school district, and volunteering with my church and local arts organizations.

    How important is history to your stories?

    History is the foundation upon which my stories are built. I always start with real events and/or characters and create my work of fiction around them.

    What about that era appeals to you?

    My story, Confederado do Norte, takes place from Reconstruction through the beginning of World War II. The last half of the 19th century through the first half of the 20th was a particularly important era in history. It ushered in the modern world, and we in the US, finally began to figure out what we stand for as a nation and who we are as a people.

    Where do you get your information or ideas for your stories?

    Ideas for stories are everywhere. All one must do is be open to them and be ready to play "let’s pretend” with what one finds. Since I write historical fiction, research is a tremendous part of my process.

    Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

    In an earlier portion of my life, I had close personal relationships with true gangsters. They are not the type I wrote about in Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel or my current work in progress, however. Sadly as a school administrator, I had students who were members of street gangs, primarily Latin Kings, Crips, and Bloods.

    What do you like to read?
    Historical fiction and mysteries, of course!

    What’s the best thing about being a writer?
    The creative process give me tremendous joy.

    What’s the worst thing about being a writer?

    Marketing - hands down! If writers could just write, our lives would be sooooo much easier.

    If your book went to Hollywood, which actor/actress pair would you want to play your main characters?

    Since Mary Catherine had fair skin and auburn hair, we might have to ask English actress Keira Knightly to dye her hair or wear a wig. For Gustavo, I kept visualizing Nacho Figueras, the real life polo player who models for Ralph Lauren. That is one beautiful man!

    What type of scene is the hardest to write? Love? Action? Racy? Etc.

    I just cannot make myself write on-screen sex. I find having the door closed much more alluring!

    Which character that you have created, if any, is the most like you? How?

    I suppose there is at least a little bit of the writer in each character she/he creates, though none of my female characters are particularly like me. Meg in Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel and Mary Catherine in Confederado do Norte are based on the strong women in my life who survived very hard times and came out of them triumphant. That list includes my mother, mother-in-law, stepmother, and several aunts. Liz Reams, the main character history professor in the present day chapters of Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel, has grown a lot as she now appears in my work in progress and I suppose comes closer to who I am. She works hard, loves history, and holds family and the man in her life very close to her heart.

    If you weren’t writing books, what would you be doing for a career?

    I have always been, am now, and always will be an educator.

    How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?

    I have completed four books: Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel (2013, Soul Mate Publishing), Confederado do Norte (2014, Soul Mate Publishing), Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn (coming in 2015 from The Wild Rose Press), and The Calling (my first and not yet ready for prime time). I hope to bring out my present work in progress, Miami Days, Havana Nights, in 2016. Just as a mother does not have favorite children, I do not have a favorite book baby. Each is special in its own way. This is probably because, while I write historical fiction, the eras and themes vary from book to book. 

    Buy the eBook


    About the Author

    03_Linda Bennett Pennell_AuthorI have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother's porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work. As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, "Let's pretend." I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl. Favorite quote regarding my professional passion: "History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up." Voltaire For more information please visit Linda Bennett Pennell's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

    Confederado Do Norte Blog Tour Schedule

    Monday, February 23
    Review at Flashlight Commentary
      Tuesday, February 24
    Interview at Flashlight Commentary
      Wednesday, February 25
    Review at Book Babe
    Interview & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession
      Thursday, February 26
    Review & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
    Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews
      Friday, February 27
    Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book
      Monday, March 2
    Character Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
      Tuesday, March 3
    Review at Book Nerd
      Wednesday, March 4
    Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

    One Print Copy of Confederado Do Norte


    – Must be 18 or older to enter.

    – Giveaway is open to US residents 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.

    Monday, February 23, 2015

    BLOG TOUR: The Witch Hunter's Tale by Sam Thomas

    Publication date: January 6, 2015
    St. Martin’s Press
    Formats: eBook, Hardcover
    Pages: 320

    Series: Book Three, The Midwife Mysteries Series
    Genre: Historical Mystery

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    Sam Thomas takes readers back to Puritan England with midwife Bridget Hodgson, hailed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as “one of the most fascinating detectives in contemporary mystery fiction.”
    Winter has come to the city of York, and with it the threat of witchcraft. As women and children sicken and die, midwife Bridget Hodgson is pulled against her will into a full-scale witch-hunt that threatens to devour all in its path, guilty and innocent alike.

    Bridget—accompanied once again by her deputy Martha Hawkins and her nephew Will Hodgson—finds herself playing a lethal game of cat and mouse against the most dangerous men in York, as well as her sworn enemy Rebecca Hooke. As the trials begin, and the noose begins to tighten around her neck, Bridget must answer the question: How far will she go to protect the people she loves?

    Praise for the Midwife Mysteries Series

    “Sam Thomas has created one of the most fascinating detectives in contemporary mystery fiction—a crime-solving, wealthy, widowed midwife in embattled 17th-century York, England. . . . Bridget is as fascinating, fun and fierce as ever.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer on The Harlot’s Tale

    ”Besides making his heroine a plausible sleuth, Thomas conveys the challenges of midwifery without clumsy exposition.” —Publishers Weekly (starred) on The Harlot’s Tale

    “As pleasurable as his mystery is, the true thrill here is Thomas’s lively portrait of 1644 York and his unique heroine.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer on The Midwife’s Tale

    “A briskly plotted historical mystery starring a pair of brave, tenacious, intelligent women who take no prisoners and make no apologies.” —Lyndsay Faye, author of Gods of Gotham

    “Thomas is a historian by profession and it shows in the wealth of detail with which he recreates the city of York amid the turmoil of the English civil war.” —Rhys Bowen, author of the bestselling Royal Spyness series

    “A heart-stopping page-turner coupled with a gritty and realistic portrayal of two strong and contrasting woman characters vividly depicted against the backdrop of the besieged city of York.” —Cora Harrison, author of I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend

    “The gripping story, fascinating characters, and intriguing era make Thomas’s debut mystery a reader’s delight.” —Priscilla Royal, author of The Killing Season

    “Thomas’s fiction debut is packed with fascinating information about a midwife’s skills and life during the English civil war. The ingenious, fast-paced mystery is a bonus.” —Kirkus Reviews on The Midwife’s Tale

    “Everything rings true in historian Thomas’s superb first mystery. . . Authentic details of life in 17th-century York complement the whodunit’s intelligently concealed clues.” —Publishers Weekly (starred) on The Midwife’s Tale

    Buy the Book

    About the Author

    Sam Thomas is an assistant professor of history at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He has received research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Newberry Library, and the British Academy. He has published articles on topics ranging from early modern Britain to colonial Africa. Thomas lives in Alabama with his wife and two children.
    For more information please visit Sam Thomas’s website. You can also find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

    The Witch Hunter’s Tale Blog Tour Schedule

    Monday, February 9 Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book
    Spotlight at What Is that Book About
    Tuesday, February 10 Review at Flashlight Commentary
    Spotlight at The Lit Bitch
    Wednesday, February 11 Review at Build a Bookshelf
    Friday, February 13 Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
    Monday, February 16 Review at Book Babe
    Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
    Tuesday, February 17 Review at The Emerald City Book Review
    Wednesday, February 18 Review & Interview at Back Porchervations
    Friday, February 20 Spotlight at Passages to the Past
    Monday, February 23 Interview at Mina’s Bookshelf
    Spotlight at Historical Fiction Obsession
    Tuesday, February 24 Review at A Book Geek
    Wednesday, February 25 Review at A Chick Who Reads
    Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
    Thursday, February 26 Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
    Spotlight at Brooke Blogs

    Friday, February 27 Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

    Wednesday, February 18, 2015

    BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: This Side of the River by Jeffrey Stayton

    At the end of the Civil War, a group of young, angry Confederate widows band together, take up arms, and march north to Ohio intent to burn down the home of General William Tecumseh Sherman.

    Nautilus Publishing
    February 15, 2015
    ISBN: 978-1-936946-38-9
    240 Pages


    This Side of the River is a novel set in in Georgia in the summer of 1865, after Confederacy has collapsed. A contingent of war widows who have survived Sherman's March have armed themselves and rallied around a teenage Texas Ranger named Cat Harvey in order to ride north to Ohio and burn Gen. Sherman's home to ashes. It is a story about trauma, revenge and redemption. What happens when they light out for Ohio is a terrible, doomed odyssey that forces these young women to ask the darker questions of the human condition.

    My Review:

    This Side of the River by Jeffrey Stayton was overall an interesting read. I really liked the fact that the widow’s voices were definitely all their own—each one had their own story, their own background, and their own reasons for doing what they were doing when they decided to join the march north to burn Sherman’s home. It was unique how the author brought all of the different voices together, and created a gritty and realistic story of strong southern women during the Civil War joining together for a cause. The leader, Cat, seemed so elusive to me. It seemed that no one could truly get to know him, yet they had chosen to follow him, and he had chosen to lead a bunch of women north, so he definitely was not your typical man.

    I liked the story, but it was often difficult to follow, especially at the beginning. I had a little trouble initially getting into the book, because it seemed a little repetitive initially, and somewhat awkward. The descriptions were good, and he writing style was unique, but parts were a little slow. Overall it was an interesting book, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in historical fiction.

    I feel comfortable giving this book a FOUR out of FIVE stars.

    About the Author:

    Jeffrey Stayton grew up throughout Texas and lived in Mississippi before landing in Tennessee where he’s lived with his wife in Memphis for the past four years. The southern author releases his first literary noir novel in February 2015, the 150th anniversary year of the Civil War’s end. This Side of the River was inspired by his question of what would have happened if the war-widows of Georgia took up arms in the aftermath of the Civil War?

    He earned his Ph.D. in English from the University of Mississippi and specializes in 20th Century American literature.

    He writes poetry, has written book reviews for the Missouri Review and has published stories in StorySouth, Lascaux and Burningword Literary Journal. His original story “Pepper” won the Bondurant Award for Fiction, and his story “Chisanbop” appeared in the Best of Carve Magazine.

    He is a scholar and teacher of Modernist, Southern and African-American literature, often teaching women’s literature courses as well. His passion for Latin American literature brought Stayton and his wife on a hike across northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago where he brushed up on his Spanish.

    When not writing and teaching, he’s in his studio working on oil paintings.

    Having at one point performed stand up comedy, Stayton embarks on a unique book tour in Winter 2015 gearing up to be as entertaining as the pages within his literary fiction.

    See this Article from Shelf Awareness about Jeffrey’s wonderful contribution to Indie Bookstores during the 2015 Holiday Season:

    Author Links:

    Tuesday, February 17, 2015

    BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose

    02_The Witch of Painted Sorrows Cover

    Publication Date: March 17, 2015 
    Atria Books 
    Formats: Hardcover, Ebook 
    Pages: 384 
    Genre: Historical Mystery 

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    Possession. Power. Passion. International bestselling novelist M.J. Rose creates her most provocative and magical spellbinder yet in this erotic, gothic novel set against the lavish spectacle of 1890s Belle Époque Paris. Sandrine Salome runs away to her grandmother’s Parisian mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds is even more menacing. The house, famous for its lavish art collection and elegant salons, is mysteriously closed up. Although her grandmother insits it’s dangerous for Sandrine to visit, she defies her and meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing young architect. Together they explore the hidden night world of Paris, the forbidden occult underground and Sandrine’s deepest desires. Among the bohemians and the demi-monde, Sandrine discovers her erotic nature as a lover and painter. Then darker influences threaten – her cold and cruel husband is tracking her down and something sinister is taking hold, changing Sandrine, altering her. She’s become possessed by La Lune: A witch, a legend and a sixteenth-century courtesan, who opens up her life to a darkness that may become a gift or a curse. This is Sandrine’s “wild night of the soul,” her odyssey in the magnificent city of Paris, of art, love and witchery.

    My Review:

    After reading The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose, the first word that comes to my mind is “Wow.” This book was seriously an awesome piece of historical fiction. I was completely sucked in right from the start, and though I had to get up early for work each morning, I had trouble putting the book down to go to bed at night! The main character, Sandrine, was the perfect historical fiction heroine. She was able to overcome many obstacles that she never knew she would have the strength to overcome after she left her evil husband. The mystery behind the mansion that her ancestors had lived in was fascinating, including the ancestor La Lune (who was thought to be a witch), whom Sandrine has become fascinated with. I loved when Sandrine would describe the different areas of the mansion, or the different artifacts that were inside the mansion. Everything about the house had a cryptic air about it, it was like a living, breathing thing under La Lune’s control, and because of Sandrine’s love of the house, she soon begins to fall under La Lune’s control.

    I can’t say enough good things about this book! It is such a well written novel that I can’t imagine anyone disliking it or having anything negative to say about it. The characters are well written and likable, the scenes are interesting and descriptive, and the story line flows nicely and stays true enough to the history of the time, so it should not annoy the “history Nazis”. This is the second novel by M.J. Rose I’ve had the chance to read, and I definitely plan on reading all of her novels after reading this one.

    I give this novel a FIVE out of FIVE stars.

    Praise for the novels of M.J. Rose

    The Witch of Painted Sorrows

    “Rose's new series offers her specialty, a unique and captivating supernatural angle, set in an intriguing belle epoque Paris—a perfect match for the author's lush descriptions, intricate plot and mesmerizing storytelling. A cliffhanger ending will leave readers hungry for the next volume. Sensual, evocative, mysterious and haunting.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

    “A haunting tale of possession.” (Publishers Weekly)

    The Collector of Dying Breaths

    "Breathtaking...combines fascinating history, torrid romance and a compelling mystery into a marvelous package that will entice fans of Anne Rice and Diana Gabaldon.” (Associated Press) 

    "A page-turning, alluring concoction of fiction infused with fantastical yet actual history. Readers will be charmed by her well-drawn and memorable characters, and they will be mesmerized by her enchanting narrative, which takes them on a mystical and magical journey." (Library Journal (starred))

    "A terrific piece of entertainment." (CT Post)

    "Wondrously original... elegantly written. Rose manages to utterly suspend our disbelief in a book that leaves us, appropriately enough, breathless." (Providence Journal) 

    "Mysterious, magical, and mythical…what a joy to read!" (Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants)


    "Atmospherically romantic and perfectly toned. Classy and elegant literary seduction of the highest measure. As wondrously crafted as it is original." (Providence Journal) 

    "Readers will be enchanted by M.J. Rose's supernaturally charged novel Seduction, inspired by Victor Hugo's self-imposed exile on the British island of Jersey in the 1850s." (USA Today) 

    “Has just about everything a thriller fan could wish for.” (Philadelphia Inquirer) 

    “Full of well-researched history, the paranormal, and modern intrigue, this atmospheric tale of suspense is fully engrossing to those willing to suspend their disbelief.” (Library Journal (starred review)

    The Book of Lost Fragrances

    "A compelling page turner...Once you catch a whiff, you will be enchanted." (Associated Press) 

    "M.J. Rose is a bold, unflinching writer and her resolute honesty puts her in a class by herself." (Laura Lippman) 

    "The Book of Lost Fragrances resonates with spirit, blending myth with reality, tragedy with triumph, pain with joy. You'll find yourself questioning everything you believe--and wanting more." (Steve Berry) 

    “Provocative…a sweeping sense of romance [and] history.” (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

    Buy the Book

    Barnes & Noble

    About the Author

    03_M.J. Rose AuthorM.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother's favorite books before she was allowed. She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her online at Connect with M.J. Rose on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads. Sign up for M.J. Rose's newsletter and get information about new releases, free book downloads, contests, excerpts and more.

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

    REVIEW, INTERVIEW, & GIVEAWAY: Captives by Emily Murdoch


    Normandy. 1067.

    England has been brought to its knees by the invasion of William the Conqueror and his Norman troops.

    Lady Catheryn, an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman, is taken against her will to Normandy after the invasion.

    She arrives, a prisoner, at the castle of Lord Geffrei, a ruthless invader who hopes to gain a ransom for her.

    Her husband Selwyn is dead, slain in the Conquest, and her daughter Annis has been left behind in England at the mercy of the invaders.

    Catheryn is treated like an animal, and left in a cell until she begins to despair.

    When Queen Matilda, William the Conqueror’s wife, sees her plight, she takes pity on her.

    Catheryn is sent to the castle of the noble FitzOsberns – but will her new captivity be any better than the cruelty she faced at Geffrei’s hands?

    She finds her hostess cold and embittered, but when her husband William FitzOsbern returns from the Conquest, Catheryn’s heart is torn by unwanted emotions.

    She becomes entangled in the quarrels and heartbreaks of her jailers even as she tries to remember her place among them.

    Is she falling in love with the man who helped to destroy her homeland?

    Can Catheryn betray her Anglo-Saxon roots, and her late husband?

    Or will she break free, and find her way back to Annis? 

    Captives’ is a moving historical story of love and loss, and the strength of one woman even in the most dangerous of times. It is the sequel to ‘Conquests’.

    'An enthralling saga.' - Robert Foster, best-selling author of 'The Lunar Code'.

    Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US

    My Review:

    I absolutely love the novel Captives by Emily Murdoch. The entire novel kept me interested from beginning until end. Right from the start you are drawn in by the mystery that surrounds the captive that is brought forward in terrible condition after England has been invaded by the Normans in 1066. The reader finds out that this captive is Lady Catheryn, and her story continues to get more and more interesting from that point forward. I love the fact that her and her captive, Lord FitzOsbern are so drawn to each other, their connection makes for a great romantic novel read!

    The descriptions are great in this book, and you can definitely picture everything that you are reading. Also, the author has a great writing style. I definitely am going to look to see if this author has written other historical fiction/romance novels, because I was really impressed with this book. I’m always excited when I find a new book that I love, and I don’t recognize the author, because then I have a chance to check out some new books and see if they are all great! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes historical romance novels. I was hooked from the start, and I give it a FIVE out of FIVE stars!


    Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?

    I’m probably very similar to other people – I was convinced I was going to be a pop singer, or an author, but I decided pretty early on that my ability to write far outstretched my ability to sing!

    When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

    When I received my first royalty payments for my book ‘Conquests: Hearts Rule Kingdoms’. It begins the series that ‘Captives: Kingdoms Rule Hearts’ finishes, and when I finally realized that people were willing to spend money to read my words, that’s when it hit home.

    How long did it take to get your first book published?

    I’m one of the lucky ones: I was only 22 when my first book was published. Hopefully that means I’ve got a lot of time to fit in more!

    Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?

    I write for a living, but in different ways. During the working week, I work as a copywriter within a marketing company for a large business, and at the weekend I concentrate on my fictional writing.

    How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?

    I find that my books are a labour of love, which often means that I write frantically until I become exhausted – say two or three weeks – leave it for a week, and then come back to it. My first book took me three months, but my third took my longer as I moved from the UK to New Zealand in the middle!

    What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

    I’m currently working on a really exciting series of six books, all that follow different characters within the same world. They are still historical fiction, but I’ve moved to a different time and place. I can’t reveal any more yet!

    Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?

    I find it difficult not to love Avis, one of my female characters in the ‘Conquered Hearts’ series. She’s feisty, and angry, but loyal to the point of putting herself in danger. I slightly based her on one of my favourite people in the whole world – and she has no idea!

    How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?

    I am really fortunate to have parents that really respect knowledge and books, and so I was always encouraged to read when I was young. I was also never explicitly, but always implicitly told that I could do anything if I worked hard enough. However, it wasn’t until my boyfriend – now husband – told me to be more serious with my writing that I started finishing off my novels.

    Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?

    I’m a morning person, so I always find that my most productive times come before lunch time. After I’ve had lunch, I can’t usually write anything new, so I go over yesterday’s work as an editor, and hope that I’m left with something useful!

    Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?

    I do . . . for better or for worse! What my readers think really matters to me, and sometimes that can be a heavy burden to bear. But it is certainly lovely to hear some of the positive comments about what I have written.

    How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?

    I have a MA in Medieval Studies, so much of the framework for my books has come from my research and my studies. There will often be a place that I love the sound of, and then the more I look into it the more I realise that it is perfect as a setting.

    Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
    Before I first got my Kindle, I was adamant that it was attempting to destroy physical books. All of my favourite books I have in hardback – but when I finally gave in and treated myself to a Kindle, my eyes were opened. I could access so many more books through eBooks, and so I buy eBooks when I’m trying something new, paperbacks of authors that I enjoy, and hardbacks of books I want to keep forever.

    Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?

    Books will always be able to transfer to movies – and movies to books – as long as the directors, script writers, producers, actors, and anyone else involved – is really sympathetic to what the book is trying to do. I’m happy to see a film that alters the book slightly, as long as they still create the atmosphere and the feelings of the books. I loved the way that the Harry Potter books were done; obviously not every scene or every line appeared on screen, but you definitely get the sense of loyalty, courage, and friendship that pores from every page J K Rowling wrote.

    Your favorite food is?

    Cheese, of any sort, on anything!

    Your favorite color is?


    Your favorite Author is?

    Anyone who is writing with passion and enthusiasm.

    About the Author:

    Emily Murdoch is a medieval historian and writer. Throughout her career so far she has examined a codex and transcribed medieval sermons at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, designed part of an exhibition for the Yorkshire Museum, worked as a researcher for a BBC documentary presented by Ian Hislop, and worked at Polesden Lacey with the National Trust. She has a degree in History and English, and a Masters in Medieval Studies, both from the University of York.

    Emily is currently working on a new six part book series, as well as writing freelance.

    You can learn more at


    FIVE eBook copies of Captives (PDF)