Book Review: I, Jane (In The Court of Henry VIII #4) by Diane Haeger

I,JaneThough her path to the throne was long and paved with treachery. Jane Seymour would win the heart of her king—and heal her own. Jane Seymour of Wiltshire is not meant to go to Court. Not a child like her, with her lack of beauty and no title. But family connections are enough to have her named to the bridal retinue of Mary Tudor. At the French Court, the plain and docile Jane meets the girl who will grow into her rival in years to come. The already charismatic and conniving Anne Boleyn.

Would she get to stay in the countryside she craved?

Soon back home in the English countryside, Jane wants nothing more than peace and quiet. And the devotion of her childhood protector, William Dormer. But his family vows to keep them apart And Jane is called back to Court to serve Katherine of Aragon, who is fighting for her life as Queen in the face of Anne Boleyn’s open seduction of King Henry VIII.

In those turbulent years, Jane will learn the value of loyalty and honesty, while holding fast to her convictions. And it is her unblemished soul that will slowly rise above the chaos—and turn a king’s head.

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Book Review: When We Were Brave by Karla M. Jay

Brave
When we were Brave

In WHEN WE WERE BRAVE, we find a conflicted SS officer, Wilhelm Falk. Who risks everything to escape the Wehrmacht and get out the message about the death camps. Izaak is a young Jewish boy whose positive outlook is challenged daily as each new perilous situation comes along. American citizens, Herbert Müller, and his family are sent back to the hellish landscape of Germany because of the DNA coursing through their veins. In the panorama of World War II, these are the high-stakes plots and endearing characters whose braided fates we pray will work out in the end.

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Book Review: Nappily Ever After (Nappily #1) by Trisha R. Thomas

What happens when you toss tradition out the window and really start living for yourself?

Venus Johnston has a great job, a beautiful home, and a loving live-in boyfriend named Clint, who happens to be a drop-dead gorgeous doctor. She also has a weekly beauty-parlor date with Tina, who keeps Venus’s long, processed hair slick and straight. But when Clint–who’s been reluctant to commit over the past four years–brings home a puppy instead of an engagement ring, Venus decides to give it all up. She trades in her long hair for a dramatically short, natural cut and sends Clint packing.

It’s a bold declaration of independence–one that has effects she never could have imagined. Reactions from friends and coworkers range from concern to contempt to outright condemnation. And when Clint moves on and starts dating a voluptuous, long-haired beauty, Venus is forced to question what she really wants out of life. With wit, resilience, and a lot of determination, she finally learns what true happiness is–on her own terms. Told with style, savvy, and humor, Nappily Ever After is a novel that marks the debut of a fresh new voice in fiction.

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Book Review: The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen

Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch’s daughter. Though he’s initially wary of Julia Midwinter’s reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul–and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master–a man her mother would never approve of–but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec’s help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village. . .and to her mother’s tattered heart?

Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a “good match” in Regency England

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Book Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan

 

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents — considered expendable by society — are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she’s haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor’s son, came to Earth for the girl he loves — but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope.

You are about to read a sentence that I have never written before (that I can recall) and most likely will not do so again. Don’t bother with the book at all and stick with the TV series. Honestly, I feel like I am saving you time here. Normally when you read a book you get more detail than you could ever hope to get on screen. I mean I don’t know a single reader that hasn’t said a book they love should have been turned into a 12 hour epic that covers everything. That is so very much not the case with this book.

The pacing is wrong, the focus is wrong and I just want to slap some of the characters so hard. Where as on the show sure I want to smack a few characters, but I understand the motivation the have, I feel invested and I get more details. The book really just seems to fall truly and epicly flat. This is a series about humanity. It makes sure to show us the best and the worst, the human strength and the human weakness. The book just misses that mark very epicly. The book seems to dance around and focus more on all of the shitty things that we do for love. I mean it is true, we do a lot of stupid things for love that is human nature. I just don’t like that focus, like it is trying to be a romance novel and it doesn’t need all of that. There is plenty of love that happens without needing to focus on it. So my bottom line, watch the show and enjoy that and save your time don’t, read the book.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Book Review: Famous in Love (Famous in Love #1) by Rebecca Serle

The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen.

Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…

When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.

In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches.

I lost a dare with a friend, who wanted to watch this series. I of course have to read before I watch, what can I say I am really a stickler for that. So I sat down, knowing very little about this one, it sounded a little Twilight to me and I was not wrong. Alas guess what I confess I enjoyed Twilight and I found myself enjoying this book as well.

Yes, it is full of the typical tropes of YA with the instant love and the sort of triangle and all the silly drama that comes up. I mean seriously. However, you can’t say some of this stuff isn’t right out of Hollywood because there is a reason we call it Hollyweird and I personally could never live in LaLa land full time. Paige is your typical girl who suddenly gets tossed into the deep end. I can relate to her on many levels. We all have a time and a road to find out who we are, can you imagine having to do that in the fishbowl which of course is what Paige has to do. People are obsessed with celebrity, so much so you get the situation like Paige, before her movie even comes out.

She is famous for being famous.

All in all I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t my super favorite, but I don’t regret spending time with the characters. Best yet, I wasn’t yelling about glitter at any point during the reading.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Book Review: Intentions of the Earl (Scandalous Sisters #1) by Rose Gordon

Will he secure his future by ruining hers, or will she ruin his plans by securing him? A new twist on the old fortune hunter plot puts an impoverished earl in a position to gain his fortune only by ruining an innocent’s reputation without offering marriage. The innocent he’s selected, however, has no plans to settle for anything less than marriage and will go to almost any length to secure him.

With no other means for an income, the impoverished Andrew Black, Earl of Townson, makes an agreement that will put a definite end to his eight year poverty streak. But, in order to gain his fortune he must do only one simple thing: ruin an innocent young lady’s reputation enough to make her flee to America.

Brooke Banks isn’t interested in marriage, or so she thinks. She came to London to have a good time, and that’s exactly what she’s doing. Widely known for her tendency to flout the rules, she suspects nothing when a handsome stranger appears on her doorstep.

Thirteen days, a handful of kisses and one scandalous situation later, Andrew and Brooke will have to choose to stick to their original plans, or decide if a life together is worth the risk.

I got this book as an Amazon freebie and to be honest, I did not have super high expectations going into this one. It seemed like it would be a little bit of fun to read while I was on the tube and such in England. I was happily surprised this book actually got my interest and I found myself invested in the characters.

Brooke was a firecracker and I really loved the way she happily teased and flaunted and act like a “typical” American of her era while her other sister flitted and worried about proper protocol. Andrew is an interesting character. Sure, he is the typical member of the Ton that needs money because he has a really bad Dad and some other family issues. However, he is observant and funny and a bit of fun. The ending well dang it, I was in tears when he presents her with all the paper roses. I won’t detail more than that so I am not giving it away, but it is a beautiful moment.

This is a little bit predictable as a book, it has many of the usual bodice ripper tropes. That does not mean it is a bad thing. Sometimes you just want to curl up with a book that has something familiar about it and have an easy enjoyable read. To me this book provided that and it was even more fun for me reading it while in England because I treated myself to walking to a few of the places mentioned in it, while I read. So the bottom line for me, I enjoyed this one and I am going to put the second book of the series on my To read pile. If you like an easy read fun little book you will probably enjoy this one too.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Book Review: The Virgin’s Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I by Jeane Westin

In a court filled with repressed sexual longing, scandal, and intrigue, Lady Katherine Grey is Elizabeth’s most faithful servant. When the young queen is smitten by the dashing Robert Dudley, Katherine must choose between duty and desire-as her secret passion for a handsome earl threatens to turn Elizabeth against her. Once the queen becomes a bitter and capricious monarch, another lady-in-waiting, Mistress Mary Rogers, offers the queen comfort. But even Mary cannot remain impervious to the court’s sexual tension-and as Elizabeth gives her doomed heart to the mercurial Earl of Essex, Mary is drawn to the queen’s rakish godson…

I wanted to like this book so much more then I did. I read some of the reviews, but since I have enjoyed other books by the author and do love historical fictions in the time of Elizabeth I, it seemed like this would be a hit read. Sadly for me this book did fall a little bit flat. It was not a completely awful book but in the end it was just a bit repetitive and trite overall.

On nearly every single page at least once we the reader were reminded that at any moment Lady Katherine Grey could be named the heir to the throne. This of course was seen as a totally awful thing that the Lady did not want and we were told again and again how much she didn’t want it. With that being the very loud overall theme it was a little harder to get into the other events going on over that kind of noise.

It also felt for me that a lot of the characters were not fully fleshed out and I felt many of them were vapid because of this. With those negatives said there were some bright moments here and there. The book also flowed fairly well which is what saved it from a lower rating. My end thoughts are if you want to take a chance on a book give it a try. Otherwise if you don’t have much interest in the time period or taking risks give it a pass.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Book Review: Mistress of Rome (The Empress of Rome #1) by Kate Quinn

An exciting debut: a vivid, richly imagined saga of ancient Rome from a masterful new voice in historical fiction

Thea is a slave girl from Judaea, passionate, musical, and guarded. Purchased as a toy for the spiteful heiress Lepida Pollia, Thea will become her mistress’s rival for the love of Arius the Barbarian, Rome’s newest and most savage gladiator. His love brings Thea the first happiness of her life-that is quickly ended when a jealous Lepida tears them apart.

As Lepida goes on to wreak havoc in the life of a new husband and his family, Thea remakes herself as a polished singer for Rome’s aristocrats. Unwittingly, she attracts another admirer in the charismatic Emperor of Rome. But Domitian’s games have a darker side, and Thea finds herself fighting for both soul and sanity. Many have tried to destroy the Emperor: a vengeful gladiator, an upright senator, a tormented soldier, a Vestal Virgin. But in the end, the life of the brilliant and paranoid Domitian lies in the hands of one woman: the Emperor’s mistress.

I am going to be completely honest here, I picked this book because it was based in ancient Rome and I wanted a book set in Rome to come with me on my Roman Holiday. So I really expected just a quick, fun, but cheesy read with this one. I am glad to say I got more than what I thought I would.

Mistress of Rome does have some of the familiar historical romance tropes, but it also has so much more within the pages. The characters created are multi layered and the story that unfolds is really gripping and spans so many years. I found myself feeling the anguish of Thea and her loved ones. This story really does show how little power over their own lives as slaves of the ancient times had. However, it also shows that if played right slaves could have a form of power, especially the Gladiators who won the heart of the mob. Was it a useful power? Was it power that was worth the price? Well, that is hard to say and you will have to read the book yourself to find out the details of this story. I truly enjoyed this read so much and I am going to be reading more in the series. The Emperor Domitian was no one that I did much research on personally, but this historical fiction has ignited my desire as a history fan to dig more into this interesting and complicated Emperor who was assassinated.

All in all, for me the fact that I really enjoyed the book AND it has made me want to dig into more real research means this is a winner. I am sure this read wont be for everyone, but if you like a good story with lots of layers and interesting characters with a hearty helping of love, this is a read for you to give a shot. It moves quickly and it holds your interest.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Book Review: The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories #1) by Bernard Cornwell

This is the story of the making of England in the 9th and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred the Great, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.

The story is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, a dispossessed nobleman, who is captured as a child by the Danes and then raised by them so that, by the time the Northmen begin their assault on Wessex (Alfred’s kingdom and the last territory in English hands) Uhtred almost thinks of himself as a Dane. He certainly has no love for Alfred, whom he considers a pious weakling and no match for Viking savagery, yet when Alfred unexpectedly defeats the Danes and the Danes themselves turn on Uhtred, he is finally forced to choose sides. By now he is a young man, in love, trained to fight and ready to take his place in the dreaded shield wall. Above all, though, he wishes to recover his father’s land, the enchanting fort of Bebbanburg by the wild northern sea.

This thrilling adventure—based on existing records of Bernard Cornwell’s ancestors—depicts a time when law and order were ripped violently apart by a pagan assault on Christian England, an assault that came very close to destroying England.

Full disclousure this series will make you want to watch the netflix series based on the books and you will get to see…this guy (yup excuse to use this gift again LOL sorry not sorry.)

Bernard Cornwell is an amazing author and I find that his stories are so rich and textured and layered. These are really books you can sink your teeth into. Better yet most of his works are part of a series so you get to spend a lot of time with the characters you enjoy. This is the first of the Saxon Series and you get to dive into a crazy world. England was just starting to be forged into what we know it as today and watching the transformation unfold while following these characters around is truly enjoyable.

Uhtred is such a fantastic character you can’t help but feel drawn to him. Even before seeing him brought to life on the screen he is the type of character you can see in your mind because he just jumps off the page. He is so charismatic and unique as a character. Born a Saxon but raised a Dane it really just makes a unique man with a different look on the world.

He is not a perfect man by any means, he is flawed and he makes bad choices and he admits to them. That is what makes him so fantastic though, you get to see his flaws and yet see him still be a hero. It is easy to like a character that is just a hero and always seems to make the perfect choices. It is harder to look past flaws, things we might not chose to do ourselves and still see a character as a hero.

If you like history, intrigue and just a plain good read I would recommend giving this one a try. It isn’t a fast read, but it is a really good read.

My Gemstone Rating:

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