book review · historical · historical fiction · trilogy · Tudor

Book Review – Nest of Ashes

October 1537

At a time of most supreme triumph, the moment of her greatest glory, security and power, a Queen of England lies dying.

Through dreams of fever and fantasy, Jane Seymour, third and most beloved wife of King Henry VIII remembers her childhood, the path forged to the Tudor Court; a path forged in flame and ashes. Through the fug of memory, Jane sees herself, a quiet, overlooked girl, who to others seemed pale of face and character, who discovered a terrible secret that one day would rain destruction upon her family.

Nest of Ashes is Book One in The Phoenix Trilogy: Story of Jane Seymour, by G. Lawrence.

The author’s thanks are due to Julia Gibbs, proof reader of this work of fiction, and to Larch Gallagher, the cover artist.

My Review

I’ve always loved historical fiction and have two favourite periods that never fail to catch my attention. The first is WWII and the other is The Tudors. As author Gemma Lawrence states, there is so little told about Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII. It’s a huge understatement to say I was intrigued as to how she would portray a story based on someone about whom so little actual “history” is known. Indeed, following Anne Boleyn as Henry’s queen must surely have been a daunting time for Jane, after all was not Anne the original viper in the nest that led to the break with Rome and to Henry’s marriage with the dignified and most-popular Katherine of Aragon.

Nest of Ashes is the first in a trilogy of Jane Seymour’s life, and it is probably in book one where the author has the most scope to create Jane’s story. The author’s has imagined situations from Jane’s early years that are in keeping with the world she inhabits, its traditions and customs. So believable is her creation that you could be forgiven for thinking it is not historic fact, and so engaging is the story that you are instantly drawn into its fictional realm. The very best of both worlds.

When we meet Jane, she is the only daughter (so far) born to the Seymour couple. Her plain appearance marks her out as a disappointment to her mother who had longed for a daughter to grace the King’s Court as she had once done herself. As such, Jane becomes almost invisible to them, particularly when her brother Thomas is around. For Thomas can do no wrong, and despite Jane’s objections to the contrary, it is always she who is on the receiving end of any punishment. Knowing what we do about Jane’s future, it felt as though Karma was watching over her: the invisible daughter who would be queen.

Jane’s world is shaken for the first time when her beloved brother Edward takes a wife, Catherine. This beautiful and vivacious young woman is everything Jane’s mother had hoped for in a daughter, and the Seymour household is soon captivated by her charms. For Jane, that charm quickly wears off when she realises Catherine is not the sweet young woman she professes to be, but rather is intent on seducing Jane’s (and her husband, Edward’s) father. From here on, all doubt as to Catherine’s true nature is cast aside, and Jane sees her only as making a cuckold of her brother. Being invisible to everyone else in the household, Jane has no-one to tell, let alone anyone who might believe her. Confronting Catherine only makes things worse for her.

Jane can only hope her brother will find a place for her at Court, away from her family and the lies she has to ignore daily. When Edward does come through for her, and Jane is called serve Mary, the King’s sister, only then does her mother recognise how much she relied on Jane.

Jane arrives at Court, quiet and reserved and not at all confident of her position. It is her shy nature that catches the eye of Queen Katherine, who takes a liking to the young woman and appoints Jane to her own staff.

Jane’s mother is torn between fury and pride; Jane has usurped her own position at Court and without all the fuss and fancy. She begs Jane to meet with her cousin, Anne Boleyn, which she reluctantly agrees to; they are never going to be close but who would have thought they would be rivals for the King’s affections?

Jane’s future at Court is about to change her life and the history books. Forever.

As Nest of Ashes came to an end, my appetite for the next book only increased. In today’s society we are used to binge-watching complete series, so biding my time until the next instalment will be a challenge. Suffice it to say, I’m ready when you are, Gemma Lawrence! (No pressure LOL)

I received a copy of this book as part of the review-a-book challenge. What a wise move that was on my part.

As always,

blog tour · excerpt · fantasy · trilogy

Blog Tour – Forgotten Magic (plus giveaway)

ForgottenMagic

Welcome to the blog tour for the final installment from the Magic Underground trilogy, Forgotten Magic! Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a paperback copy of the book!

Forgotten Magic Book Cover

Forgotten Magic (Magic Underground #3) Publication Date: May 2020 Genre: Anthology/ Fantasy/ Magic Publisher: Magical Mayhem Press For the last time, these heroes, witches, wizards, vikings and more will put it all on the line. No quest is too dangerous. No monster be it a dragon or something cuddlier with teeth is off-limits in the epic conclusion to the Magic Underground Trilogy. Stay tuned for details. Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

The Ones Who Choose by C. S. Johnson

Before I’d left to return home, Ai started talking to me about the Bloodmagic. After I’d rescued him from the tower, I had taken him down to the caves. I’d settled him in one as best as I could, and then faced the cave entrance, keeping a lookout for Aiden. I was more concerned for Aidan at first; I didn’t know if he was coming or not. There was a good chance that when Ai was taken, the Community Elders would find a way to keep everyone in the tower until they had answers. As much as we were both in this together, I didn’t know what to expect now that we’d accomplished something this big. But as Ai kept talking to me, and considering his talk of condemnation, I began to ask Ai questions. It didn’t take us long to talk about Bloodmagic. “Bloodmagic is their word for the sacrifice,” Ai said. “What?” My head snapped to look at him, as if to make sure he wasn’t trying to fool me. Instantly, I regretted my action, seeing his mangled body and the sad condition it was in. That was part of the reason I’d offered to stand watch in the caves, keeping my focus on the entrance. While I did not want the Community Elders to find us, and although I was watching for Aidan, I did not want to look at Ai too much. He made me feel uncomfortable. Ai slumped beside me, looking out toward the cave entrance. The last of the sunlight was gone, and the temperature dropped. Ai did not seem to notice, even if he was nearly naked, with only a thin cloth around his loins. “They call humanity’s curse ‘Bloodmagic,’” Ai said. “That is their name for it. I don’t think they like to think about it much.” “If this is why you’ve been hurt, they probably don’t like to think of it,” I said. I glanced at him quickly, before reverting my eyes back to the cave entrance. “This is terrible.” “It is,” Ai agreed. “But it is like I told you before. All of my suffering is your suffering.” “That’s not right.” He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. I have been alive for nearly a century, thanks to the Bloodmagic, and this is just the way things are. That is why I would prefer that you return me to my tower room.” “What?” I gasped at the remark. “No. Why would you want that?” “The Community won’t survive long, Skyla,” Ai said. “Without the Bloodmagic Covenant, the full effects of suffering will return to your friends and family swiftly and mercilessly. They will suffer, and in their suffering, they will make others suffer more. They might even begin to enjoy hurting others if we don’t hurry.” “But you will suffer if you return,” I said. “And I will make you suffer, too. I don’t want that. Can’t something else be done about the Bloodmagic?” “There is nothing that can be done about human nature,” Ai said quietly. “We are prone to self-destruction, and we live in a world where pain and suffering are constants. All the countries and nations of the world have wrestled with this question, and in the end, all of the pain still exists. Many tried to fix the problem and only made it worse. “So they decided to try something else. And it works.” He reached up and touched the shard on his forehead, the one what was darkening along with the sky. “If I am not returned, the suffering will only increase, and you will see people at their very worst. Every evil, selfish, and ignorant thought will manifest into danger and disaster. I’ve been able to hold off their degeneracy for a long time, and without me, they will exponentially become violent and careless.” “Surely we still have some more time to stop them.” I put my hands together, trying to think of something else. “Maybe it is a matter of education. The adults here are smart. They’ll be able learn how to deal with the pains our Community has.” Ai shook his head. “You don’t understand,” he said with a sad sigh. “But you will, once you see it. You must promise me you will not forget me when you do, or you could be at risk, too.” From that moment, we lapsed into silence, and I was grateful. I shivered as we sat there, but I didn’t think it was because of the chill in the air.

Available on Amazon! Authors:

Melinda Kucsera, Joynell Schultz, Lee French, H.B. Lyne, Raven Oak, L.C. Ireland, Alesha Escobar, Tiffany Shand, C.S. Johnson Anela Deen Erik Kort Devorah Fox Stephen Wallace Gwendolyn Woodschild Leah W. Van Dinther Barbara Letson C.K. Rieke William C. Cronk, Majanka Verstraete Toasha Jiordano H.M. Jones Krista Ames A.R. Johnston

Giveaway: For a chance to win a print copy of Forgotten Magic, click the link below! a Rafflecopter giveaway Blog Tour Organized By: R&R Button R&R Book Tours

blog blitz · series · thriller · trilogy

Blog Blitz – One of Us

One Of Us

‘Leave, or die.’

Jess Dyer has won safety for her sister-in-law Ruth and proved her worth as the leader of her refugee community.

Sarah Evans has stood up to her parents and discovered who she can trust.

But the villagers still aren’t welcome. When the local population expresses its anger, can Jess keep everyone safe? And can she hold it together as Steward when someone she loves dies?

And how will Sarah react when her new fiancee Martin receives death threats, telling him he must leave her, and their village?

One Of Us is a gripping thriller about belonging and acceptance. It’s the third book in the Village trilogy, and the sequel to Sea Of Lies.

Purchase Link:

https://books2read.com/one-of-us

Author Bio 

My name’s Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think.

What does that mean?

In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.

Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen?

My books aim to fill that gap.

If you’d like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub. I’ll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I’ll let you know when my books are on offer.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rachelmcwrites

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rachelmcleanwrites/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelmcwrites/

As always,

 

 

NetGalley · postwar · series · thriller · trilogy · WWII

Book Review – Berlin: Uprising

BERLIN: Uprising

by Paul Grant

 

It’s 1953 Berlin and the seeds of the bloody Workers’ Uprising have been sown…

Whilst working on the prestigious Stalinallee building project, Ulrich Schultz becomes embroiled in the protests, contrary to the desperate pleas of girlfriend, Ursula. As the protests intensify, Ulrich sees his fellow workers disappear one by one. Already uncertain which way to turn, he is unexpectedly approached by a West German agent warning him he is under surveillance by the East German Security Service.

Meanwhile in Leipzig, Hans Erdmann is still suffering the harrowing death of his wife and son. The KVP officer accepts a transfer to Berlin in an attempt to get his life back on track, yet only arrives in a city waiting to blow. Back in 1948, Ulrich’s father, Klaus struggles to survive as a POW in a frozen Siberian work camp, wondering if he will ever see his family again. He pits his wits against the wily commandant, Burzin, to whom there is more than meets the eye. As a snowstorm engulfs the camp, Klaus eventually facilitates the escape of one of his comrades, Markus Schram, but not without bloodshed. With the odds stacked against him, and the sadistic MGB captain Dobrovsky back to haunt him, can Klaus survive? Will Klaus’ family ever learn of his fate?

Indeed, will he ever make it back to his family in Berlin? As the protest spills on to the streets of the city, how will Ulrich react to the many warnings as the dreaded Stasi close in on his activities? BERLIN: Uprising is the final, thrilling installment of the Schultz family trilogy.

My Review

This is a tension-packed, thrilling read about post-war Berlin and the German POWs in Siberian camps. Although this is the last part of a trilogy, it can stand alone on its own merits.
The story centres on the Schultz family – father Klaus has been a prisoner for ten years, having become the focus of a vengeful Major who is intent on making him suffer.
Klaus’ wife, Maria, has raised their two children alone, but at the same time looked after and stood up for others who were persecuted during that time. Her son, Ulrich, now a young man, has followed in his father’s footsteps as a builder. But, Ulrich wants more for his co-workers, for his fellow Germans, and gets involved in many protest meetings, all planning for the big uprising.

Wonderful descriptions and well-drawn characters bring the story to life, truly painting a vivid picture of the era and the division within Berlin during those dangerous and tumultuous times. Fascinating to read about in such detail.
The drama comes from every direction – from the dangers in the Siberian gold mines to the Stasi in East Berlin.
Secrets, plots and conspiracies blend well with the changing relationships of the main characters as they encounter warnings and betrayals, not knowing who to trust and who to fear.
An exciting read that had kept my attention throughout. I almost wish I’d read the previous two stories in the trilogy first.