Here come the challenges…

It is that time of year again, where all the book bloggers out there start deciding which challenges they are going to take part of for the next year. I have to admit with all candor that the last few years I have majorly slacked off not only on my book blogging and blogging in general, but my challenges. There has been a lot of upheaval in my life, some of it beautiful and fantastic and some of it horrible and soul crushing. We all go through those times don’t we though?

I tend not to set resolutions for New years like many people do, instead I make myself a set of goals or I take a look at things that I have fallen down on that I really should get back up on. One of those things I have been looking at in the last few months is blogging and more to the point of this blog of course book blogging. I love blogging, I love reading, I love posting my reviews even if no one but me sees them, I enjoy keeping a record of what I am reading. I have been doing it since 2008 after all. I used to celebrate my blogversery as well, perhaps that should be added into my new goal of dedication. Alas, I digress I am heading down one of my lack of sleep induced rambles, sorry about that!

Reading challenges and 2017 goals and dedications! While I may not have kept all of my goals for 2016 (lets face it we all are going to start referring to this last year as the year that shant be named) I did keep a few of them. One of my biggest goals was NOT to beat myself up if I fell down on reading challenges or even on blogging reviews. I tend to be very hard on myself when I don’t do those things and honestly that needed to change. When you are to hard on yourself after all you tend to suck the fun out of things.

Reading should be fun. Blogging about reading should be fun. So I am very glad that I kept that goal, even better now here as we move towards 2017 I am feeling energized to blog again. The new name and theme of my book blog has energized me in so many ways not the least of all because part of it is a tribute to a stunning beautiful artistic soul that left this plane in 2016. The creative juices are flowing again!

I know, you are probably thinking come on Ambrosia get to the challenges already you are prattling on like this is a year end post. I did warn you sleep deprived ramble could happen. So here, finally my challenges for 2017. I may find some other ones in the coming months (never to late to start right?) but this year I am tending towards the ones I have been doing the last few years. I am determined that sometime in the next few years I will complete ALL of the challenges I sign up for. In the meantime my big goal for 2017 aside from continuing to be kind to myself and be better about my blog dedication, is to work on my physical TBR. I would say my entire TBR but at least the kindle TBR is all in one easy small place, and not taking up hoards of room and giving me the occasional bad dream about being stuck under a heavy book case that fell over.

I then plan on taking part of the other challenges I have for the last few years (I have taken part in TBR ones ) I am also thinking about possibly creating a challenge of my own. I know I don’t have long to think about it. But I am still thinking about that one. So the other challenges.

2017 Alphabet Soup Challenge
2017 Witches & Witchcraft Challenge
2017 Historical Fiction challenge (still looking for which one)
2017 Paranormal Challenge (formerly Reading Bites)

All of my 2016 and 2017 Challenge info can be found on the Challenge page. I am slowly gathering together what I am going to fo this year..and if I chose to do my own..of course I will make an announcement.

Book Review: The King’s Damsel (Secrets of the Tudor Court #5) by Kate Emerson

In the fifth novel in Kate Emerson’s highly acclaimed Secrets of the Tudor Court series, a young gentlewoman catches King Henry the Eighth’s roving eye.In 1533 and again in 1534, Henry the Eighth reportedly kept a mistress while he was married to Anne Boleyn. Now, that mistress comes to vivid life in Kate Emerson’s The King’s Damsel.
A real-life letter from Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, written on September 27, 1534, reported that the king had “renewed and increased the love he formerly bore to another very handsome young lady of the Court” and that the queen had tried “to dismiss the damsel from her service.” Other letters from Eustace reveal that the mystery woman was a “true friend” of the Princess (later Queen) Mary, Henry’s daughter by Catherine of Aragon. Though no one knows who “the king’s damsel” really was, here Kate Emerson presents her as young gentlewoman Thomasine Lodge, a lady-in-waiting to King Henry’s daughter, Princess Mary. Thomasine becomes the Princess’s confidante, especially as Henry’s marriage to Catherine dissolves and tensions run high. When the king procures a divorce in order to marry Anne Boleyn, who is suspicious and distrustful of Mary, Mary has Thomasine placed in Anne’s service to be her eyes and ears. And that’s when she gets the attention of the king…
Rich in historical detail and featuring a wealth of bonus material, The King’s Damsel is sure to keep readers coming back for more in the exciting series!

Something very strange happened to this review. I had it written, scheduled and all ready to go back in 2015! I did not really check on it (my mistake, obviously I should have) and assumed it posted to the blog. When I was doing a clean up after moving over and checking to make sure everything was running smoothly since moving over from Fire & Ice to The Purple Booker, I found part of the post. After doing a search through everything I could not find the rest and saw that this one never actually posted. So, after all that long babble and with no further gilding of the lily here is a review from 2015 that really should have gone up ha ha! I may even have to go back and read the book again now.

Tamsin is a Lady of good family who was used to being tended to herself, her life like many in the upper reaches of Tudor era had the best of things. However, she was tapped to be part of the court of Mary Tudor and then found herself in the servant role. Making matters worse is the fact that after her parents die she becomes the charge of Sir Lionel Daggett, there is no love lost between both of them. No love lost at all.

Like the other books in this series I found this a fast paced and fun read. All the history is there and author Kate Emerson builds upon what we know to add her own twist to things. Of course King Henry is around, but I love that the focus of this series is the smaller people in the court, those players that most often only sit in the background in fiction of this era. It is these players that make up an entire court, though, the King and his family are such a small portion. If you enjoy good historical fiction that has a little bit of love and a lot of other information to enjoy, I highly recommend not only this book but the entire series.

My Gemstone Rating:


See you in 2016

Alas I have to admit this has been another year where my reading has not gone as well as I planned it too. It has been a year of up and down and while I have read quite a lot I have not really completed most of my challenges. I have not posted as many reviews as I had hoped or wished either.

However, as I said at the out start of this while I wanted to do challenges I knew I would be very busy with some big changes in life and may not complete them. So I have accepted that! With that said I am going to be putting this blog on hiatus until just after New year. With this the first day of December I still have a great deal of work to do for Christmas.

I make most of my gifts by hand and do so with a great deal of love and attention to detail. I started late this year so it means I am behind and taking time out to catch up on my reviews here is just something that can wait. So I shall see my readers of this blog in 2016! I will do my challenge round up then and I will catch up on reviews. As well of course as getting signed up for the 2016 challenges. Yes I do plan on trying again!

I will find balance between work, family life and reading one of these days! I shall!

Book Review: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed


At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

This book made me want to sit down on the floor and sob and sob and sob and sob (anyone who has read this book will understand that seems to be how Cheryl describes everything) the book is TERRIBLE. Who would go and hike the PCT with no preparation? The fact that this woman did not end up dead due to lack of preparation is amazing. Of course, many who have actually hiked the trail think she just hitch hiked most of it. She admits to a fair amount of hitch hiking anyway and a great many things she says do not add up.

This book was a terrible bore to get through because it is just that bad. I do not for one second think she detoxed from the heroin she was supposedly doing on the trail. Of course I also do not think she almost stepped on a rattle snake several times and got all the special help she got for being a “bad ass chic hiking the PCT.” You wanna know what this book is about? The author pretty much says she screwed up her life by cheating on a perfectly nice husband (lots of times) so off she goes to the PCT. On the trail she is the only woman and she is so pretty and everyone is always looking at her, flirting with her and doing things for her because she is so pretty. She thinks everyone wants to have sex with her and some of them are kind of rapey. The end.

This book is just not worth it really not worth it. It is not empowering or life changing either because I don’t think she learned a damn thing on her supposed hike.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book review: By Royal Decree (Secrets of the Tudor Court #3) by Kate Emerson


By Royal Decree (Secrets of the Tudor Court #3) by Kate Emerson:


Charming. Desirable. Forbidden. Brought to court with other eligible young noblewomen by the decree of King Henry VIII, lovely Elizabeth “Bess” Brooke realizes for the first time that beauty can be hazardous. Although Bess has no desire to wed the aging king, she and her family would have little choice if Henry’s eye were to fall on her. And other dangers exist as well, for Bess has caught the interest of dashing courtier Will Parr. Bess finds Will’s kisses as sweet as honey, but marriage between them may be impossible. Will is a divorced man, and remarriage is still prohibited. Bess and Will must hope that the king can be persuaded to issue a royal decree allowing Will to marry again . . . but to achieve their goal, the lovers will need royal favor. Amid the swirling alliances of royalty and nobles, Bess and Will perform a dangerous dance of palace intrigue and pulse-pounding passions.

Brought to glowing life by the talented Kate Emerson, and seen through the eyes of a beautiful young noblewoman, “By Royal Decree “illuminates the lives of beautiful young courtiers in and out of the rich and compelling drama of the Tudor court.

Another wonderful installment of the Tudor court books by Kate Emerson. I am behind on my reviews (life gets in the way sometimes) but I really did enjoy this book. Bess is an interesting character and one that I felt a connection with. She is a woman who wants something, but can’t have it due to the stubborn will of the aging and unstable King Henry.

I have always enjoyed spending time in the world of the Tudor court and Kate Emerson has a way of writing it out in such a way that you feel a connection with the time. You can visually see the castle and the colors and everything that goes along with the Royal court. With all of that said the reason this one gets a 4 rating instead of a 5 is because sometimes the facts did not match up with Bess the real person but most of them did. The only other down swing is a few things did seem to get long winded so there were parts that dragged a little. So the long and short of it a solid installment in the series a good read if not the best of them.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: The Queen’s Mistake (In The Court of Henry VIII #2) by Diane Haeger

The Queen’s Mistake (In The Court of Henry VIII #2) by Diane Haeger :

From the author of The Secret Bride, the tragic tale of the fifth wife of Henry VIII?

When the young and beautiful Catherine Howard becomes the fifth wife of the fifty-year-old King Henry VIII, she seems to be on top of the world. Yet her reign is destined to be brief and heartbreaking, as she is forced to do battle with enemies far more powerful and calculating than she could have ever anticipated in a court where one wrong move could mean her undoing. Wanting only love, Catherine is compelled to deny her heart?s desire in favor of her family?s ambition. But in so doing, she unwittingly gives those who sought to bring her down a most effective weapon?her own romantic past.

The Queen?s Mistake is the tragic tale of one passionate and idealistic woman who struggles to negotiate the intrigue of the court and the yearnings of her heart.

Sometimes I read books out of order if they can be stand alone, or I post the reviews out of order. Such is the case I noticed with these two in the Tudor court series. Though it doesn’t really matter because while all in the same court these books are very different.

Katherine Howard is always portrayed as a frivolous little chit who ended up losing her head for being that way. This book manages to give her a little more depth and show things more from her perspective. She was never raised to deal with the dangers of a court like King Henry’s and she while not empty headed was not the brightest girl. Was that really a reason to have her head cut off? I don’t think so.

In this I also liked the way that the relationship with Culpepper was shown, instead of confirming that they actually slept together like a lot of other sources have (the Tudors) they do not in this. Yes they spend time together, even kiss a little she does love him deeply but she did not cheat on Henry once they were married in the physical sense. This was a good read and a different look at one of the lesser known Queens at Henry’s court.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: The Queen’s Rival (In The Court of Henry VIII #3) by Diane Haeger

From the author of The Queen’s Mistake comes the untold story of King Henry VIII’s first well-known mistress.

As the beautiful daughter of courtiers, Elizabeth “Bessie” Blount is overjoyed when she secures a position as maid of honor to Katherine of Aragon. But when she captures the attention of the king himself, there are whispers that the queen ought to be worried for her throne.

When Bess gives birth to a healthy son the whispers become a roar. But soon the infamous Boleyn girls come to court and Henry’s love for her begins to fade. Now, Bess must turn to her trusted friend, the illegitimate son of Cardinal Wolsey, to help her move beyond life as the queen’s rival..

Anyone who knows even a small amount about the Tudor court has heard of Bess Blount and her Son to the King Henry Fitzroy, but do you know the whole story? In almost every Tudor era book I Have read they start with the Anne Boleyn era and graze over Bess Blount, so I was so excited to finally have a book that told more of her story. Yes it is fiction but oh it is so good.

Diane Haeger brings Bess to life as a vibrant fresh faced girl who truly loved the King, not just because he was the King but for the man that he was. It shows that unlike many who shared the King’s bed she did not think about what it would get her but how she loved him. More then that it shows the love that Gil had for her, even while she loved the King. This is a true story of love and desire and how it can change and grow over the years. I love the way the characters have been painted in this book. Flawed humans who are doing the best that they can through the situations they have been given. Henry in this book seems to know how flawed he is, that he uses those women in his life and how he has to harden his heart at times. The hard lines we have come to know Henry VIII for are softened some when you look at him through the loving eyes of Bess, even after he breaks her heart and takes their Son to court.

The way that Diane Haeger brings this court to life is quickly becoming one of my favorite to read. If you want to jump into the life of Tudor court through the eyes of a calm, gentle loving country girl like Bess this is going to be one for you. We may know the basics of the story but after reading this (fiction or not) I truly feel connected and as if I now know Bess better.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: The Lady of Secrets (The Dark Queen Saga #6) by Susan Carroll

The Lady of Secrets (The Dark Queen Saga #6) by Susan Carroll:

Meg Wolfe, The Lady of Faire Isle, is a gifted healer who can find a cure for almost any ailment. But she’s also the daughter of Cassandra Claire, a mad witch and heretic with a notorious history.

Meg’s infamous lineage makes her a target from both those who want to use her extraordinary talents for good and those who want to use them for evil.

One man in particular needs her special skills: to execute his revenge on a king. History and a kingdom hang in the balance as Meg tries to navigate the delicate line between right and wrong. And what she discovers is that she can no longer trust anyone or anything…not even her own heart.

I have long loved reading the stories in the Dark Queen Saga that Susan Carroll has created. The story that delves deeper into the story of Meg the new Lady of the isle is no different. For me the book started out a little bit slow but once it picked up I could not set it down. I am slightly baffled and slightly annoyed by some reviews I have come across on the internet when folks have said this was the first book by this author they have read and rated it down because they did not understand some of the past references, well it clearly states it is part of a series if you haven’t read the rest don’t judge the book because of that (end rant sorry about that!)

Once again we are treated to sweeping landscapes and we get a treat this time for much of the time is spend in England. I love this era and England, and Meg has a lot of things to overcome. Danger meets her at almost every turn and of course where she least expects to find it she finds some love. If you want a solid series with danger, love and a touch of magic this is one that you will enjoy. I am so happy that Meg got her happy ending, she deserved it after the tough childhood she had and then the loss of her Father. Some characters will always touch close to your heart for me Meg is one of them and the fierce Seraphine as well how could I forget her. She is loyal and brash and she finds her happiness again too after a lot of bitter loss. I hope we get another book in this series because I want to spend more time with my old friends.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley

It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.

For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

I really wanted to like The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. It was chosen as the March reading for a book group that I plan to join I wanted to like this book so we could have good chats about it. Alas, I just could not get into this book very well. The girl who is the main character Flavia she is just, I can’t like her. I don’t mind precocious children at all but this goes above and beyond. The writing style of it all being from her point of view, it is just a little to much for me.

The book is not bad so much as it is just a bit to much for me. Ah well what can you do right? It was not a total waste of time but I think I am going to stick with Sherlock Holmes when I want smart crime solvers.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: The Obituary Society by Jessica L. Randall

When Lila Moore inherits her grandfather’s house, she finds herself in a small Midwestern town where margarine is never an acceptable substitution for butter, a coveted family recipe can serve as currency, and the friend who will take your darkest secrets to the grave will still never give you the secret to her prize-winning begonias.

Lila is charmed by the people of Auburn, from the blue-eyed lawyer with the southern drawl to the little old lady who unceasingly tries to set Lila up with her grandson. But when strange things begin to happen, Lila realizes some of her new friends are guarding a secret like it’s a precious family heirloom. It’s a dangerous secret, and it has come back to haunt them. Lila is caught in the middle, and her life may depend on uncovering it. But even if she can, can she stay in Auburn when not everyone is what they seem, and even the house wants her gone?

The Obituary Society was an interesting book and seemed to be a little bit of everything blended into one book for me that did not work but the book was still enjoyable. There were several times I just wanted to reach out and smack some of the towns people throughout the book. However, there were some I enjoyed.

Overall this book was not a bad read it just did not overly tickle my fancy and won’t be one that I probably remember for long. Lila is a fun character and the book is fairly well written so I think it would appeal to other readers without an issue. Wish I could say a little more but this book was just kind of..meh for me.

My Gemstone Rating:


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