• ❤ Wed, Jul. 02, 2014

    Review: The Queen of Bedlam by Laura Purcell (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) #QueenofBedlamTour


    Queen of Bedlam

    Queen of Bedlam


    What should a woman do if her husband goes mad? Most especially, what should she do if he is the King of England?

    It is 1788 and Queen Charlotte is trying to hold the court together while her husband’s, King George’s, behavior become more suspect. Rumors of his madness are spreading like wildfire around court and beginning to leak outside of England’s palaces. Charlotte does not know how to handle her beloved husband, especially when he begins to claim that he is not married to her. Their thirteen children are affected as well, especially their daughters, when news of George’s madness spreads to the courts of Europe. Who would marry a madman’s daughter?

    In Queen of Bedlam, Laura Purcell alternated between the points-of-view of Queen Charlotte, her eldest daughter Charlotte (known as Royal), and a younger daughter named Sophia. It took place during King George III’s reign, the king we know as a tyrant in America and the reason why we had the Revolutionary War. It has always been easy to dismiss George III as a horrible person who wanted to make the lives of colonists miserable and leave it at that. But after reading this book, even as a fictional account, I had a lot more sympathy for him and especially for his family. As most of you know, I mainly stick to the Tudor era when reading historical fiction and I believe the Queen of Bedlam was my first foray into this particular dynasty. I found it highly interesting and Purcell’s novel has made me more interested in reading about this particular era in the future, especially to find out if some of the claims about George III were true because I was not too familiar with him.

    In the novel, the reasons given for George’s madness were his loss of the American colonies and the ongoing revolution occurring in France. There may have been some history in his family; Charlotte kept mentioning bad blood on his side of the family, but if there was family history then certainly those two revolutions would have been enough of a trigger to unleash his illness. Purcell made me sympathize with George, but I really felt for Charlotte and her daughters. Charlotte had come to love George, so when he became unstable and claimed he was married to another woman and began pursuing her it broke Charlotte’s heart. And even though she was not without fault when it came to her relationships with her children, she was a strong character and had to endure a lot of stress. Royal, the eldest daughter, did not have a good relationship with her mother. She always craved more than Charlotte could or would give and between that and her father, she felt imprisoned and just wanted to marry and get away; her own vision of freedom. But what she wished for was not necessarily better. Her younger sister, Sophia, did not so much crave her mother’s affection, but she also wanted to be free and knowing that with her own illnesses and her father’s illness that it was unlikely she would find a husband, she found love closer to home but it was nothing like she expected.

    Queen of Bedlam was an enthralling and intimate fictional look at the lives of King George III, Queen Charlotte, and their daughters and how affluence does not equal happiness and tragedy can happen to anyone. It was well-written and character-driven with alternating viewpoints. The story of this ruling family set after the American Revolution and against the backdrop of the French revolution was so interesting that I want to learn more about them in the near future. Queen of Bedlam will appeal to any historical fiction reader, but especially to those who enjoy eighteenth century fiction and family dynamics.


    Laura PurcellLaura Purcell debuted Queen of Bedlam in the UK on 10 June 2014 and it will be available in the U.S. in November 2014. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and The Society for Court Studies and Historical Royal Palaces and has subsequently appeared on PBS’s “The Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palace” to talk about Queen Caroline and Hampton Court. She has plans to write more books set in the Georgian era and the next is tentatively titled Mistress of the Court. All will focus on the psychological and emotional ups and downs of the royal women of the time. She lives in Colchester, England with her husband and pet guinea pigs.

    Buy on: AmazonBook DepositoryBooks-A-Million

    Follow the Queen of Bedlam Blog Tour!

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    Tags: 2014 | 2014 150 Reading Challenge | review | ARC | eBook | historical | adult | Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours |
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  • ❤ Mon, Jun. 30, 2014

    Review: The Lost Duchess by Jenny Barden (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) #LostDuchessBlogTour


    The Lost Duchess

    The Lost Duchess


    How far would you go if you were trying to hide from scandal?

    Emme Fifield serves as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth but dreams of being the mistress of her own home one day. All of her hopes are dashed when a former traitor to the Crown violates her in the worst way possible. Horrified by her ordeal and too terrified to confide in anyone, Emme hides her shame for months before rumors begin circulating. Desperate to keep the rumors from reaching the Queen’s ears, Emme keeps a low profile until she meets Kit Doonan and some other adventurers who plan to sail to the New World with the Queen’s support. For Emme, sailing to Virginia means freedom from her shame and freedom to start anew.

    Kit Doonan is never far from the sea or adventure. When the Queen gives her permission for a crew to sail to Virginia he knows he may never see England again, but he jumps at the chance to make a new life for himself and for his young page.

    The Lost Duchess was a very interesting book to read and I think it was the first adult historical fiction novel I have enjoyed in a while. The mysterious aspect of Jenny Barden’s latest novel was what really attracted me. Yes, there was a love story but that story took place in Virginia’s lost colony of Roanoke; a colony that is still shrouded in mystery today. It amazes me that we do not know what happened to the people of this colony to this day. In The Lost Duchess, Barden imagined what could have happened to the people of Roanoke through the fictional accounts of Emme Fifield and Kit Doonan.

    As you may have already guessed, the love story and the characters were secondary for me. Although some of the side characters were real historical figures, like Governor White, George Howe, and the Dares, the plot and Barden’s fictional conclusions about what happened to the colony appealed to me the most. Not only did Barden provide a voice for her historical and original characters, but she also wove key historical facts into her novel, such as George Howe’s fate and the words “CRO” and “CROATOAN” carved into the trees at the colony. Barden’s fictional account of what happened at Roanoke was so believable that I found myself wanting it to be true.

    If you are more of a character person (which I can be, but I find it really depends on the book whether I am into the characters or the story more), the secrets that Emme and Kit harbored were life-changing and brought them together in the New World before they were even revealed. There were a lot of snags, like creating shelter and defending themselves from warrior tribes, but if you need a love story you will find it in this book.

    Whether you want a love story, adventure, history, or a hypothesis on the end of the lost colony, The Lost Duchess is the book for you.


    Jenny Barden

    Jenny Barden writes for the Historical Novels Review and has also authored the historical fiction novel Mistress of the Sea. She has a husband, four children, and lots of animals.

    Buy on: AmazonBook Depository


    Tags: 2014 | 2014 150 Reading Challenge | review | review copy | adult | fiction | historical | Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours | paperback |
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  • ❤ Wed, Jun. 18, 2014

    Excerpt: The Bone Church by Victoria Dougherty (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) #BoneChurchTour

    Please join Victoria Dougherty as she tours the blogosphere with HF Virtual Book Tours for her Cold War Historical Thriller, The Bone Church, from June 16 - July 31.

    02_The Bone Church
    Publication Date: April 15, 2014
    Pier’s Court Press
    Formats: eBook, Paperback
    Genre: Historical Fiction/Thriller/Suspense
    Add to GR Button

    About the Book

    In the surreal and paranoid underworld of wartime Prague, fugitive lovers Felix Andel and Magdalena Ruza make some dubious alliances – with a mysterious Roman Catholic cardinal, a reckless sculptor intent on making a big political statement, and a gypsy with a risky sex life. As one by one their chances for fleeing the country collapse, the two join a plot to assassinate Hitler’s nefarious Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Josef Goebbels.

    But the assassination attempt goes wildly wrong, propelling the lovers in separate directions.

    Felix’s destiny is sealed at the Bone Church, a mystical pilgrimage site on the outskirts of Prague, while Magdalena is thrust even deeper into the bowels of a city that betrayed her and a homeland soon to be swallowed by the Soviets. As they emerge from the shadowy fog of World War II, and stagger into the foul haze of the Cold War, Felix and Magdalena must confront the past, and a dangerous, uncertain future.


    Chapter 1

    Vatican City: March 11, 1956

    The viscount with the dense, copper hair rocked back and forth in the front pew. He whispered to the man next to him.

    Felix pretended not to notice the disturbance. He unlocked the tabernacle and retrieved a gold chalice, pyx, paten, and crucifix from its purple silk interior, then arranged them on the altar before the Cardinal. A sweet, breathy gust of air blew in from the only open window in the chapel, making Felix’s cassock flutter against his legs. It felt good – almost like the touch of a woman’s fingertips.

    “In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen,” the Cardinal said, making the sign of the cross over his head and breast.

    At long last, the viscount looked up from his rocking and whispering. He folded his hands and consigned them to his lap, where Felix could still see on the man’s middle finger the shiny indentation where a bulbous emerald ring had rested until a few weeks ago. It had come time to pay off the Romanian attaché and his pet border guard in exchange for a wispy woman with an advanced case of Parkinson’s disease.

    “But what wouldn’t a man do for his mother?” The viscount had said upon their last meeting. Plenty, Felix had thought. He’d once watched a man shoot his mother in the face for a single gold tooth rolled in a piece of blood-stained suede. Of course, the attaché had failed to disclose that the viscount’s mother – in addition to her Parkinson’s – was also in the late stages of dementia, soiling herself and exhibiting a total vocabulary of five words: “Paris, last Christmas” and “hideous curtains!” Still, the viscount appeared grateful for her safe recovery. He’d even remarked that she was eating better.

    “Judica me deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo; et doloso erue me.”

    Psalm 42. Felix recited it in tandem with the Cardinal. Judge me, O God, distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy; deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man.

    Mass was brief – twenty-five minutes start to finish – and Felix was glad of it. Cardinal Carlo Merillini’s obligation to the row of elegant gentlemen bowed in the front pew was fulfilled. The Cardinal now stood in the back of the nave with Primo, his valet, while Felix collected the tithes and thanked the visitors: an Argentine cattleman, an American steel magnate, a Polish-born hotelier, the viscount, and a handful of other influential Catholics.

    “Envy and death, Father,” muttered the cattleman.

    “I’m sorry?”

    “It’s all they know.” He was a little man, fully bald.


    The cattleman spoke lovingly of his Lithuanian wife. Pretty woman. Felix had met her before.

    “Envy and death,” the cattleman repeated.

    The cattleman’s sister-in-law and young niece had been killed by a Russian soldier at the end of the War. Raped on a bed of horse dung in their stables, then bludgeoned with a bottle of cheap brown vodka. Only his wife’s daughter from a first marriage had survived the incident, hiding behind a bushel of hay and biting a salt lick to keep quiet. The cattleman mouthed the girl’s name.

    It was just the year before last when Felix had finally been able to arrange passage for the girl. Already sixteen by then, she’d been instructed to dress as a prostitute – presumably for one of the port guards – but was instead folded into the bowels of a sofa and smuggled over the Baltic Sea into Sweden.

    “She still hates horses,” the man said. “And she hates her mother.” The cattleman tapped Felix’s forehead with his index finger. “Poisoned her mind.”

    Felix looked the man in the eye and clasped his hand. He then took the cattleman’s envelope and handed it to Primo.

    “And this is the acquaintance I wrote to you about.” The cattleman tugged at Felix’s cassock.

    Felix nodded at the Polish hotelier, though they hadn’t been officially introduced. The man took Felix’s hand and squeezed, bringing it to his lips and rubbing his twice shaved cheek over the priest’s knuckles.

    “A tragic story if I ever heard one,” the cattleman said.

    The Pole began to sob.

    Felix put his hand on the Pole’s head and assured him that he would speak to the Cardinal on his behalf. “These matters take time,” he explained.

    He didn’t have the heart to tell the man how far down in the queue he was – how many dozens had come before him begging about a wife, a husband, a son or daughter, a brother, a lover. And how Felix, too, had begged and prayed until finally his turn had come.

    About the Author

    03_Victoria Dougherty Victoria Dougherty writes fiction, drama, and essays that often revolve around spies, killers, curses and destinies. Her work has been published or profiled in The New York Times, USA Today, International Herald Tribune and elsewhere. Earlier in her career, while living in Prague, she co-founded Black Box Theater, translating, producing and acting in several Czech plays. She lives with her husband and children in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    For more information, please visit Victoria Dougherty’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

    The Bone Church Blog Tour Schedule

    Monday, June 16
    Review at Flashlight Commentary
    Interview at Mina’s Bookshelf
    Tuesday, June 17
    Interview at Flashlight Commentary
    Wednesday, June 18
    Excerpt at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
    Thursday, June 19
    Guest Post at I’d So Rather Be Reading
    Monday, June 23
    Review at Based on a True Story
    Tuesday, June 24
    Review at Bibliotica
    Friday, June 27
    Review at Back Porchervations
    Monday, June 30
    Review at Dianne Ascroft Blog
    Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
    Tuesday, July 1
    Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
    Wednesday, July 2
    Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
    Thursday, July 3
    Review at leeanna.me
    Monday, July 7
    Review at Library Educated
    Thursday, July 10
    Excerpt & Spotlight at Books and Benches
    Monday, July 14
    Review at 100 Pages a Day
    Tuesday, July 15
    Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
    Thursday, July 17
    Guest Post at Savvy Verse & Wit
    Friday, July 18
    Review at Curling Up By the Fire
    Monday, July 21
    Review at Book Nerd
    Tuesday, July 22
    Review at The Lit Bitch
    Wednesday, July 23
    Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
    Thursday, July 24
    Review at Mari Reads
    Review at bookramblings
    Monday, July 28
    Review at Queen of All She Reads
    Review at Good Friends, Good Books, and a Sleepy Conscience
    Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
    Tuesday, July 29
    Review at Historical Tapestry
    Wednesday, July 30
    Review at Luxury Reading
    Thursday, July 31
    Review at From the TBR Pile
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    Tags: 2014 | excerpt | Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours | adult | historical | fiction |
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  • ❤ Wed, Jun. 04, 2014

    Book Blast: Murder by Misrule by Anna Castle (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) #MurderbyMisruleBlogTour #MurderbyMisruleBookBlast #HistNov #HistFic

    HF Virtual Book Tours proudly presents Anna Castle’s Blog Tour & Book Blast for Murder by Misrule, the first book in her Francis Bacon Mystery Series. Please join her as she tours the blogosphere from June 2 - July 4.

    02_Murder by Misrule Cover
    Publication Date: June 8, 2014
    Formats: Ebook, Paperback

    Add to GR Button

    A Kirkus Indie Books of the Month Selection for July.

    Francis Bacon is charged with investigating the murder of a fellow barrister at Gray’s Inn. He recruits his unwanted protégé Thomas Clarady to do the tiresome legwork. The son of a privateer, Clarady will do anything to climb the Elizabethan social ladder. Bacon’s powerful uncle Lord Burghley suspects Catholic conspirators of the crime, but other motives quickly emerge. Rival barristers contend for the murdered man’s legal honors and wealthy clients. Highly-placed courtiers are implicated as the investigation reaches from Whitehall to the London streets. Bacon does the thinking; Clarady does the fencing. Everyone has something up his pinked and padded sleeve. Even the brilliant Francis Bacon is at a loss — and in danger — until he sees through the disguises of the season of Misrule.

    The Francis Bacon Mystery Series

    This series of historical mysteries features the philosopher-statesman Francis Bacon as a sleuth and spymaster. Since Francis prefers the comfort of his own chambers, like his spiritual descendent Nero Wolfe, he sends his pupil, the handsome young Thomas Clarady, out to gather information. Tom loves the work, not least because he meets so many interesting people, like Lord Burghley, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Christopher Marlowe. Murder by Misrule is the first book in the series.

    Praise for Murder by Misrule

    “Though the plot keeps the pages turning, the characters, major and minor, and the well-wrought historical details will make readers want to linger in the 16th century. A laugh-out-loud mystery that will delight fans of the genre.” - Kirkus Starred Review

    “Murder by Misrule is a delightful debut with characters that leap off the page, especially the brilliant if unwilling detective Francis Bacon and his street smart man Tom Clarady. Elizabeth Tudor rules, but Anna Castle triumphs.” - Karen Harper, author of Mistress Shakespeare

    “Well-researched… Murder by Misrule is also enormously entertaining; a mystery shot through with a series of misadventures, misunderstandings, and mendacity worthy of a Shakespearean comedy.” - M. Louisa Locke, author of Bloody Lessons

    “Historical mystery readers take note: Murder by Misrule is a wonderful example of Elizabethan times brought to life.” — D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

    About the Author

    03_Anna Castle

    Anna Castle has been a waitress, software engineer, documentary linguist, college professor, and digital archivist. Historical fiction combines her lifelong love of stories and learning. She physically resides in Austin, Texas, and mentally counts herself a queen of infinite space.

    For more information please visit Anna Castle’s website and blog. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

    Virtual Book Tour Schedule

    Monday, June 2
    Review at Flashlight Commentary
    Book Blast at Mari Reads

    Tuesday, June 3
    Interview at Flashlight Commentary
    Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

    Wednesday, June 4
    Book Blast at The Musings of ALMYBNENR

    Thursday, June 5
    Book Blast at Our Wolves Den

    Friday, June 6
    Review at Book Nerd
    Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer
    Book Blast at A Dream Within a Dream

    Saturday, June 7
    Book Blast at Kelsey’s Book Corner

    Sunday, June 8
    Review at Carole’s Ramblings

    Monday, June 9
    Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

    Tuesday, June 10
    Book Blast at West Metro Mommy

    Wednesday, June 11
    Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
    Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse

    Thursday, June 12
    Review at Curling Up By the Fire

    Friday, June 13
    Book Blast at Cheryl’s Book Nook

    Monday, June 16
    Book Blast at Closed the Cover
    Book Blast at To Read or Not to Read

    Tuesday, June 17
    Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day
    Book Blast at A Book Geek

    Wednesday, June 18
    Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews

    Thursday, June 19
    Review at Bibliotica
    Book Blast at Historical Fiction Obsession

    Friday, June 20
    Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
    Interview at All Things Girl

    Saturday, June 21
    Book Blast at Griperang’s Bookmarks

    Monday, June 23
    Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
    Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
    Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time

    Tuesday, June 24
    Review at Jorie Loves a Story

    Wednesday, June 25
    Book Blast at Susan Heim on Writing

    Thursday, June 26
    Review at A Bookish Girl
    Review at Layered Pages
    Review at Kinx’s Book Nook

    Friday, June 27
    Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes

    Monday, June 30
    Book Blast at Historical Tapestry

    Tuesday, July 1
    Interview at Starting Fresh

    Wednesday, July 2
    Review at Kincavel Korner

    Thursday, July 3
    Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
    Guest Post & Giveaway at Bibliophilia, Please

    Friday, July 4
    Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

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    Tags: 2014 | book blast | Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours | adult | historical | fiction |
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  • ❤ Tue, May. 27, 2014

    Review: The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) #DyingBreathsTour


    The Collector of Dying Breaths

    The Collector of Dying Breaths


    In early sixteenth century Italy, orphan and perfuming apprentice René Bianco is devastated when his mentor, the monk Serapino, passes away. In addition to his grief, there is also suspicion surrounding the monk’s death; suspicion that attracts the interest of young Catherine de Medici and prompts her to invite René to accompany her to France to be her perfumer. Thereafter, he is known as René le Florentin and creates beautiful perfumes for Catherine…as well as more nefarious concoctions. But René has a project of his own. His life’s work has been to find a formula to reanimate dying breaths and if he succeeds he may be able to bring back his mentor Serapino and someone even more dear to him.

    Almost five centuries later, Jac L’Etoile experiences her own grief which eventually leads her to become entangled in a search for René le Florentin’s formula. During Jac’s search, she reunites with an old flame and encounters an obsessed heiress and way more than she bargains for.

    Set in Italy and France across time, The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose mainly attracted me with its promise of the sixteenth century and Catherine de Medici. I did enjoy both but having read the description of the novel months ago, I had forgotten that it also took place during the present day. The dueling storylines and eras kept me interested as well as the overall premise. Rose alternated between the sixteenth century and present day and as the story progressed, I could almost see how the two times and the two main characters were tightly woven together. René, who began the search for the formula to reanimate dying breaths, and Jac, who sought to solve the whole mystery. I found both characters to be intriguing and their stories connected across time. The story became more and more interesting, but it was ultimately anticlimactic for me.

    This was my first foray into an M.J. Rose book and while I was expecting history, mystery, and suspense, the romance took me by surprise because it was more on the graphic side. That does not really bother me, but I felt like it was gratuitous at times. Also, I enjoyed the majority of the book, but I felt sort of cheated by the end. It was like all of this build up to a big discovery that ultimately culminated in dissatisfaction.

    The Collector of Dying Breaths was a very interesting and intriguing story crossing centuries and full of exciting reincarnation theory, but it could disappoint some at the end. It will appeal to those interested in historical fiction mixed with mystery, suspense, and romance as well as those, like me, who are particularly interested in the sixteenth century and get excited when they see names such as Catherine de Medici. If you like Andrew Davidson’s The Gargoyle, Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, or Patrick Suskind’s Perfume, you may also like The Collector of Dying Breaths.

    Rating rounded up from 2.5 because I do not have half-ratings.


    M.J. Rose
    M.J. Rose has published fourteen novels and The Collector of Dying Breaths is the sixth in her Reincarnationist series. Rose and her work has been featured in O Magazine, The New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today, and The Today Show. She lives in Connecticut with her musician and composer husband, Doug Scofield, and their dog Winka.

    Buy on: AmazonBook DepositoryBooks-A-Million


    Tags: 2014 | review | ARC | paperback | adult | fiction | historical | contemporary | Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours | 2014 150 Reading Challenge |
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