March Rosepoint Reviews Recap—Hello April—and Spring Snow Showers!

 

We certainly aren’t clear of snow forecasts (have one for tonight). Spring doesn’t happen here as early as the southern states and it’s still plenty cold. March is usually a celebration, however, in that it is Reading Ireland Month, Women’s History Month, and my birthday. A huge surprise in store for me this year when our son and Croatian son joined forces to get me a new cell phone. OMG!! I haven’t had time to play with it yet, but already so jazzed with the amazing colors, photos, and speed. Maybe it’ll read my books for me now!

The CE and I read nine books for #readingirelandmonth21 and I read two for #womenshistorymonth.

We posted seventeen book reviews for March, which included ARCs from NetGalley as well as author requests and my audiobooks from our local library.

The Shortest Day (shortest book – #begorrathon21 *)

The Pull of the Stars *

Murder in an Irish Bookshop *

Long Island Iced Tina

A Matter of Life and Death

Lying in Wait *

Dead Even

The Castilions

First Love *

Normal People *

Last Port of Call *

Vagabond Wind

Alley Katz *

The Chain *

The Cotillion Brigade (longest book)

Search for Her

The Hiding Place *

I hit 97,000 views in the month of March, still working toward my goal of 3,000 followers with a ways to go. My schedule has become overwhelming, however, and I’m thinking of taking a breather by exclusively posting reviews from the CE in a concentrated effort to clear the backlog of his reads.

March and April filled up fast and I’ll be laying out a new plan shortly to post reviews. (The CE reads faster than I for sure!) Despite my backlog of his books, I’m still running at 94% on NetGalley and well ahead of my 175 book goal on Goodreads.

Four books for the Audiobook challenge, bringing the total to 12 for a goal of between 20-30—Binge Listener.

Historical Fiction – Four books in March and two considered for Women’s Historical Month.

NetGalleyNine additional books in March bringing my total to 27 in a goal of 75.

You can check out my challenges progress by clicking on my Reading Challenges page.

Please let me know if you’ve read one of the above listed books or put them on your TBR and I’m always open to title suggestions.

Apologies to my readers for the awkward format of this post. WP is having fun with me again and has refused my access to the “classic” word editor (again!) I don’t do “blocks” well.

As always, welcome to my new followers—and those who continue to support the blog through your participation, likes, and comments. You help me grow and keep me going. Thank you!

(c) V Williams

Vagabond Wind (Bold Women of the 19th Century Series Book 2) by Amanda Hughes – #BookReview – #historicalfiction – #TBT

“…a vagabond wind—a wind that brings change.”

Book Blurb:

Vagabond Wind by Amanda HughesWild and hard-hearted, Zya Lazar is reckless with her life. Raised by the Romani, she rides with gypsy marauders terrorizing settlers across Virginia. Relishing the violence, the young woman seems hell-bent on destruction until a series of events opens her eyes. Retreating to the mountains, Zya finds a more peaceful existence, but it does not last. Another vortex of violence is brewing, and it is the American Civil War. Joining a group of Confederate partisans on the fringe of the fight, Zya and eight men wage their own kind of war in the mountains of Virginia. Captain Davis Wyndham has a dangerous plan, and Zya finds herself putting not only her life but her heart on the line for the enigmatic commander.
Once again Amanda Hughes splashes the pages with gritty adventure and love stories about audacious women in the past. Her page-turning tales will keep you on the edge of your seat as you take wild rides through dramatic and dazzling periods of history.

My Review:

In a radical change of pace, one of my favorite authors, Amanda Hughes, develops a strong and exotic woman in this novel about the civil war. It is the fleshing of a five year old abducted from her “Melungeon” family (Indian, African, and Portuguese) and raised with a band of Romani. By the time she is fourteen, her Romani uncle has married her to one of his sons and trained her in the art of raiding and stealing. The gypsy band ranges over western Virginia until Zya knows the mountains like the back of her hand.

Vagabond Wind by Amanda HughesZya is capable and independent and when her husband is killed in a skirmish, simply carries on. She enjoys the raids, the excitement, until one ends in the violent death of a young girl that has her reassessing the role her uncle has given her and eventually ends in her flight from the band.

She survives on her own in the mountains until defending herself lands her in jail.

Avoiding a lengthy sentence in prison, she agrees to scout for Captain Davis Wyndham. All the experience of traveling the mountains, survival, and independence serves both she and the band of eight that includes Wyndham when they progress to hit and runs in the war between the North and South. The special missions are accomplished with a group of eclectic men each harboring a highly specialized talent.

Her irregular tactical soldiers build quite the reputation for themselves against the railroad with their interruption of payroll, supplies, and materiel destined for the Yankees. The setting of movement, conditions, and spies is immersive in detail and draws you into the war. Whether you initially liked Zya or not, you are gradually drawn to the character as she progresses through the well-plotted and paced storyline.

An explosive and brilliant battle scene at the climax—satisfying conclusion. The reversal of the protagonist from unlikable to respected is an interesting and unique departure from the norm. A history buff, Civil War buff or not, you’ll appreciate learning more of the conditions, the strategies, the area, and the people. Thoroughly engaging and entertaining. Highly recommended.

Rosepoint Rating: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Military Romance, Historical Fiction

  • ASIN : B015NGF8E8
  • ISBN : 1517077842

Print Length: 345 pages
Publication Date: September 19, 2015
Source:
Request to author

Title Link: Vagabond Wind [Amazon]  

Amanda Hughes - authorThe Author: Bestselling and award-winning author, Amanda Hughes is a “Walter Mitty”, spending more time in heroic daydreams than the real world. At last, she found an outlet writing adventures about bold women through the centuries. Well known for her genre-busting books, she is the winner of the Gems National Medal for Writing, featured in USA Today and is nominated for the 2017 Minnesota Book Award. Amanda is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and when she isn’t off tilting windmills, she lives and writes in Minnesota. Don’t miss these page-turning novels for readers who like historical fiction with a just bit of a love story. All of her books are stand-alone and can be read in any order.

The Bold Women of the 17th Century: The Firefly Witch Book 1

The Bold Women Series of the 18th Century: Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry Book 1 The Pride of the King Book 2 The Sword of the Banshee Book 3

The Bold Women Series of the 19th Century: The Grand Masquerade Book 1 Vagabond Wind Book 2 The House of Five Fortunes Book 3

The Bold Women Series of the 20th Century: The Looking Glass Goddess Book 1

Interested in her new books or a free novelette? Go to http://www.amandahughesauthor.com

©2021 V Williams

Last Port of Call: The Queenstown Series by Jean Grainger – #BookReview – Historical Irish Fiction #readingirelandmonth21

Last Port of Call by Jean Grainer

#1 Best Seller Historical Irish Fiction 

Book Blurb:

Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland
April 1912

Twelve-year-old Harp Delaney is an unusual child, quiet and intelligent far beyond her years. She would rather spend her days in the library of the grand Georgian house that she sees as her home than playing on the streets with other children.

Her mother, Rose, is the reserved and ladylike housekeeper at the Cliff House. The local women envy her grace and poise while the men admire her beauty. She behaves not as a servant should, but as someone who belongs at the ancestral home of eccentric loner Henry Devereaux.

Nobody ever visits the Cliff House, but Harp, Rose and Henry have a happy life together, each accepting the idiosyncrasies of the others.

The day Titanic sails from Queenstown, taking with it the hopes and dreams of so many, Harp’s life too is devastated. The small port town is shaken to its foundations at the loss of the unsinkable ship, but the revelation of a long-held secret means that Harp and Rose have a much more pressing issue to solve, one that could destroy them if they cannot find a solution.

Unexpectedly, fate takes a hand, and mother and daughter find themselves thrown a lifeline, one that inextricably links them to the stories of men, women and children for whom Queenstown was the last-ever sight of Ireland as they sailed away to new lands and new lives.

Last Port of Call is the first book in The Queenstown Series.

My Review:

Those of you who have a problem reading a book in the middle of the series should be delighted to learn that this is the first in a new series by the masterful Irish storyteller Jean Grainger. Now is your chance to get in on the bottom rung—don’t say I didn’t warn you as this is already a #1 Best Seller on Amazon. There is a reason for that.

Last Port of Call by Jean GraingerThe author delights in describing her Ireland, the people, the culture, and its famous landmarks and it shows in her prose. While I must admit that the first portion of this book begins slow and includes some repetition, there is the full fleshing of Rose, the housekeeper and her 12 year old daughter, Harp, as well as the explanation of their occupancy of the grand Georgian mansion known as Cliff House. The multi-story mansion sits high above the Queenstown Bay and the entire harbor commanding a magnificent view. It is the last port of call for the Titanic (of the White Star line) before she leaves on the fateful journey that still creates chills more than a century after sinking.

The story of Harp and Rose is described as they care for the aging owner, Henry Devereaux, and the shock of his passing. Henry, a benevolent eccentric leaves the decaying mansion to Harp with whom he’d enjoyed a very unusual relationship. Along the way, we learn fascinating new tidbits about the land (fairy ring forts, castles, and Phoenicians).

Saved from being turned out into the street, they must now devise a way to stay in the old house. And then Rose has an idea. She and Harp will open a guest house. Their first guests are comprised of a wide variety of Irish, each with a story of their own, and as we get to know each individual, invest in their hopes and dreams.

The stories are immersive, gentle or suspect, and pull at the emotions. Somehow, the author manages a perfect resolution for each. However, there is one thread introduced early that is not revisited until the conclusion resulting in a cliff hanger (!). Book #2 of the series is scheduled for release the third week of May, 2021.

“…speculation based on no information whatsoever was pointless.”

I have read many books written by this prolific author, some prior to posting reviews, several as standalones, some in series: Robinswood, The Tour, and the Conor O’Shea series. I considered many were five star novels, including The Star and the Shamrock, Return to Robinswood, Trials and Tribulations, and The Homecoming of Bubbles O’Leary. Her characters are always engaging and relatable, the stories entertaining, and most unique in their plots and pacing. This is a great start to a new series. In for a penny, in for a pound. (Or is it ha’penny?) If you missed Ms Grainger’s Soda Bread recipe, you can find that page here.

Rosepoint Rating: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Historical Irish Fiction, Saga Fiction, Family Saga Fiction

  • ASIN : B08RS885CH
  • ISBN : B08WZJK285

Print Length: 476 pages
Publication Date: February 26, 2021
Source: Direct Purchase
Title: Last Port of Call [Amazon]

 

Jean Grainger - authorThe Author: JEAN GRAINGER, USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR,
SELECTED BY BOOKBUB READERS IN TOP 19 OF HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS,
WINNER OF THE 2016 AUTHOR’S CIRCLE HISTORICAL NOVEL OF EXCELLENCE

I have worked as a history lecturer at University, a teacher of English, History and Drama in secondary school, a playwright, and a tour guide of my beloved Ireland. I am married to the lovely Diarmuid and we have four children. We live in a 150 year old stone cottage in Mid-Cork with my family and the world’s smallest dog, a chi-chon called Scrappy-Do.

My experiences leading groups, mainly from the United States, led me to write my first novel, ‘The Tour’. My observances of the often funny, sometimes sad but always interesting events on tours fascinated me. People really did confide the most extraordinary things, the safety of strangers I suppose. It’s a fictional story set on a tour bus but many of the characters are based on people I met over the years.

Truncated…

Many of the people who have reviewed my books have said that you get to know the characters and really become attached to them, that’s wonderful for me to hear because that’s how I feel about them too. I grew up on Maeve Binchy and Deirdre Purcell and I aspired to being like them. If you buy one of my books I’m very grateful and I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, or even if you don’t, please take the time to post a review. Writing is a source of constant contentment to me and I am so fortunate to have the time and the inclination to do it, but to read a review written by a reader really does make my day.

Find Ms Grainger at her official website or Facebook page.

©2021 V Williams

The Castilians: A story of the siege of St Andrews Castle by VEH Masters -#BookReview – Historical Scottish Fiction

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

1546, and Scotland is bludgeoned by Henry VIII, determined to marry his son to the infant Mary, Queen of Scots. A few among the Scottish nobles, for both political and religious reasons, are eager for this alliance too. They kill Cardinal Beaton, who is Mary’s great protector, and take St Andrews Castle, expecting rescue any day from England.

The Castilians by VEH MastersFor a sister and brother, spirited Bethia and rebellious Will, living in St Andrews and caught up on opposite sides, the siege becomes a fight for survival. As the long blockade unravels, it also becomes a test of their loyalties and what’s more important: to save their family, stay true to their beliefs, or to save themselves.

This debut novel closely follows the tumultuous events of the siege of St Andrews Castle, and its dramatic re-taking

‘A clever blend of fact and fiction, with engaging characters, gripping action, tension and drama galore, and a dash of romance. For lovers of Scotland and Scottish history this is a great read.’ Margaret Skea: winner of the Beryl Bainbridge Award.

‘The setting, the history and the characters all come together in a perfect blend. I highly recommend this intriguing novel.’ Jean M Roberts

‘The darker side of St Andrews Castle’s history, written with such delightful detail I could almost taste and smell the medieval streets of the historic town!’ Lynsey Maxwell

‘This book has everything I like – suspense, romance and humour. Beautifully descriptive and left me thinking about the characters even after I finished reading it.’

Finalist, Wishing Shelf Book Awards

His Review:

The Reformation is in its’ infancy! Martin Luther has started a movement that will separate brother from brother, father from son and countries will wage war as a result. The early years in the 1500’s were not a great time to be alive! The control of the family is ruled by a dictatorial father and a society can turn against a family in an instant. The ruling class is only too happy to seize a families’ property and turn them out into the street penniless.

Thee Castilians by VEH MastersA man is being burned at the stake for preaching the gospel in opposition to the Catholic Church. Elspeth’s brother Will is outraged as are many of the people in the city. Will and a group of reformers calling themselves The Castilians take over the castle of the local Cardinal Beaton who has exacted large “tithes” from the local population. The Cardinal is living in splendor in Castle St. Andrews. The Castle was the former home of a Queen of Scotland. The storehouse is filled with all kinds of excellent foods and drinks while food is scarce for the population.

Occupying the castle is the central theme of the story. I found the accompanying theme of Elspeth trying to save her brother even more compelling. She is a strong lass who often ignores her father in attempts to aid and save her brothers’ life. The description of the castle and its’ surrounds paint a vivid scene of life during that time period.

Unaccompanied young females are looked upon with avarice and wonton lust! Elspeth’s endeavors to get food and other necessities to her brother put her in danger of rape, although she does have some young men in the community who look after and protect her from some of these miscreants. Meanwhile her father is looking for a convenient marriage for his daughter. This will keep him in the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed. Family alliances are critical to maintaining this good lifestyle.

International trade and pilgrimage are part of the charm of the town. Elspeth becomes very interested in one of these pilgrims who came to pray at the local St. Andrews Cathedral. She is torn between obeying her father, helping her brother, and avoiding being paired with a local fat but affluent man. He is called “Fat Norman.” He is solicitous towards Elspeth and seems a gentle soul. She could do worse!

Overall, the flavor of this narrative is both engaging and enlightening. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in historical environs and strong protagonists. 5 stars-C.E. Williams

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author through direct request. This in no way swayed my opinion and these are my unbiased thoughts. 

Book Details:

Genre: Historical British & Irish Literature, Historical Scottish Fiction, Scottish Historical Romance
Publisher: Nydie Books

  • ASIN : B08NYSLN9Z

Print Length: 239 pages
Publication Date: November 26, 2020
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: The Castilians
Also find the book on Barnes and Noble

Add to Goodreads

 

VEH Masters - authorThe Author: VEH Masters was born and grew up on a farm just outside of St. Andrews in Scotland. She’s been fascinated by the siege of St Andrews Castle ever since her history teacher took the class on a visit, which included going down the siege tunnel dug out of rock and peering into the bottle dungeon where Cardinal Beaton’s body is said to have been kept, pickled in salt, for over a year.

She’s lived for most of her life nearby and St Andrews is one of her two favourite places in the world. She now lives between Penicuik and Peebles, which are both pretty amazing towns too.

The Castilians is her debut novel and she’s currently working on a sequel. Find her on Twitter and her Website.

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams

Six Fun, Fast, and Easy Challenges for 2020 (Wink, Wink)

Six Fun, Fast, and Easy Challenges for 2020

(Cause, what, you don’t need more work?)

Yes, I know, I know–late to the party again. And these won’t be anything new for you if you participate in challenges, but after I dropped the Alphabet Challenge, I went a little overboard and signed up with a new one–and then another new one. Last count is six. What have I done?! My white knight, as previously noted, has come to the rescue with a few reads and reviews of his own. Even if the same book, we often have differing opinions.

  1. Let’s start with the Audiobook Challenge since I’m learning to love these for errands, working around the house, and exercising. It would seem there is more time for listening than reading and I’ve apparently hit a slump in reading lately. Easy to sign up, if you haven’t already. Pick your level listener of the eight listed. I chose Stenographer, 10-15.
  2. GoodreadsI know y’all are already doing this one. Watch the Goodreads widget in the right column for progress. (I’ve set the bar at 200 since my associate reviewer is included in this count.)
  3. Historical FictionYou read a few or more historical fiction. Right? Well, here is your chance to post your reads for posterity. Again, choose your level from one of six. I chose Renaissance Reader, 10. Don’t forget to add the tag: #2020HistFicReadingChallenge
  4. Murder Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge -Thinking this would not be a challenge, forgetting I read a wide variety of genres; not just all murder mysteries. My cards are pretty bare but it’s only January. Still, there are four cards: Weapons, Crime Scenes, Clues and Clichés, and Red Herrings. Everybody loves Bingo. Right? Check it out. (I see fellow blogger Tari of Cuddle Up With a Cozy Mystery already has two cards!)
  5. The NGEW2020 Challenge keeps a count of your NetGalley or Edelweiss novels. Go ahead, choose a goal. If you need to, you can always add or subtract. (Life has its little interruptions.) I’m going for 75 again–and that WAS a challenge. Always use the hashtag: #NGEW2020 (and my associate reviewer is included in this count.)
  6. Reading IrelandReading Ireland Month occurs in March (of course), and I won’t have that link or banner until posted this year. Check out my post from last year here.

Several of these include the MrLinky widget to upload your links and keep you honest. Also, I’ve updated my Reading Challenges page (it’s all clean and bright) laying out all the above challenges and adding a few details, but for all the instructions, you may wish to link directly to the challenge. (I’ve also listed these linked challenges in the right-hand widget column.)

Going into the weekend, hope yours is special and IF you have time, look at a few challenges to liven up your reading year! I’d love to hear which ones you are doing or how many of these you are doing. Or drop me a comment with “NONE.”

©2020 V Williams V Williams