Monthly Archives: December 2017

Book Review: ‘Tudor Wales’ by Nathen Amin

Title: Tudor Wales: Full-colour guide to the many places in Wales associated with this famous dynasty

Published: 15th March 2014

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Author: Nathen Amin

Facebook: www.facebook.com/HenryTudorSociety

Twitter: @nathenamin

 

Synopsis:

The Tudors are one of history’s most infamous families and the era over which they reigned still captures the public’s interest without rival. ‘Tudor England’ in itself has become a well-known phrase that covers many aspects of the era, particularly architecture, arts and the lifestyle. What is often overlooked however is that the Tudors, whilst coming to encompass all that is considered great about England, were a Welsh dynasty with their roots firmly entrenched in the hills across Offa’s Dyke. This guide will take you on a journey throughout the beautiful country of Wales and expose the reader to the hidden gems of the Tudor era, from Harlech Castle in the north to Pembroke Castle in the west, and from the holy Bishop’s Palace at Lamphey to the sacred Cathedral at St David’s. From Dale, Carew and Penmynydd to Raglan, Conwy and Denbigh, every part of W ales has Tudor links, both to the royal Tudors and their more obscure Welsh ancestors. This guide will put you on the path to a true Tudor experience in the Land of their Fathers.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2017 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book about the Tudors.

Well this is a great guide of Tudor places to visit in Wales and I found quite a few that would be on my list to check out. You get snippets of history about the areas links to the Tudors and those who may have used or lived in the buildings, castles, manor houses etc, thrown in with beautiful photographs of the areas and places themselves. You have a handy key at the front so you could easily plan out a visit to some of the areas within. You also get a family tree and timeline of key events to give you an idea of what was happening at the time these places came to be.

The main places I think that would be on my list are: Carew Castle, Pembroke Castle, Tenby Tudor Merchant’s House, Raglan Castle, St Fagans National History Museum, Beaumaris Castle and Gwydir Castle (though to me this looks more like a large manor house). I think you can see a bit of a theme here with the places I picked, in that I really like castles. Whether they are still standing strong or have been slowly taken by the hands of time they have so much history within them that you can’t help but be in ore with the designs and how they would have been made.

Many of these castles designs were ahead of the time with adding the likes of hexagonal towers to fifteenth century designs – like with Raglan Castle. From high turrets and keeps, to moots and enforced doors and walls six feet thick, each castle had its own way of protecting itself from the siege of others. Many would change hands a few times over throughout the time of change from the Wars of the Roses to the Tudors reign. With many seeing improvements made by those who would then be the protector of it.

If a building could talk imagine the tales it could tell. If any of these buildings, castles or manor houses could talk I think you would be in for a historical treat with the battles that took place, literally and figuratively when with more of a verbal match. Great little guide through the lives of the Tudors, how they linked back to their Welsh roots and the fabulous places still around today for us to go and see.

4 out of 5 stars

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Book Review: ‘Trading Hearts’ by Saskia Walker

Title: Trading Hearts: Boxed Set

Published: 29th August 2016

Author: Saskia Walker

Twitter: @saskiawalker

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/104558.Saskia_Walker

 

Synopsis:

In her master’s arms she becomes pleasure incarnate… Naomi Kildare, a young Scottish fashion designer, travels to London to meet a renowned fashion buyer, but when the buyer is called away she meets Lucas Eaglestone instead.

Lucas is tall, dark, and masterful – and he wants Naomi. He is a direct man, and he asks Naomi to surrender to him, totally. Lucas quickly unveils Naomi’s true nature and at his hands she experiences sexual pleasures beyond her wildest dreams. She is enthralled by his physical and emotional claim on her, but she isn’t willing to sell her own dreams in exchange for a decadent life as his willing submissive.

Lucas wants Naomi more than anything and he would pull the stars from the sky for her if she would agree to accept them. He vows to win her, but first he has to make some big changes to prove to her that their Dom/sub symbiosis is precious and worth fighting for. Together they could be the perfect match but trading hearts is never that simple.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2017 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A trilogy (The Buyer, The Seller and The Deal). Three for the price of one and just getting hotter the further you go, so hold on for a fun ride.

The Buyer:

Naomi is in fashion and has a bespoke clothing design shop in Edinburgh. To get her store more exposure she needs the help of an advertiser so heads on down to London to see the buyer Georgio at Eaglestone Agency to see if they would be interested in helping her build her companies brand. A family matter seems to keep Georgio away but when a certain mystery man in reception, one she can’t take her eyes off, steps in to hear her pitch things start to look up. Takes her a while before she realizes that this mystery man is none other than the head of the company she went to see, Lucas Eaglestone. Things might just start to get complicated.

One look and you can see the chemistry between them, which only builds the longer the meeting progresses. Seems its not just Naomi who is entranced by his presence, as she is the first person to make him think twice about in a long time. She can almost feel the dominance coming off him with how he acts around her. What she thought might scare her off only gets her more excited the longer the meeting goes. Which is then making her second guess herself as she is meant to have her business head on not her libido one. After the meeting he insists on taking her to dinner. She knows the minute she accepts where it will end but she can’t seem to deny him, or herself, as she knows it will be good. And good it is but in a completely new way for her. He might have been able to see her willingness to submit but it’s still raw and intense for her. He likes to have control in all things but can sometimes take it a step too far when trying to mix business and pleasure together.

The Seller:

So thinking his contract has an ulterior motive Naomi high tails it back to Edinburgh thinking to never see Lucas again. Gets a shock when she finds him at her shop door then. Planes trump trains every time it seems. He is willing to do whatever it takes to make her see he wants her alone. He’s going to need to pull out a few stops when his ex Clara makes an appearance because she sure knows how to push peoples buttons.

The Deal:

Seems Naomi can’t catch a break when it comes to Lucas’ ex Clara. Always wanting to make a scene no matter what. The more time she spends with him the more she submits to his will and its fear of losing herself and her goal that makes her want to pull back. Well she might say she wants to leave when things get heated but Lucas can read her so well that he always knows what she really wants. Great at giving it to her too! In the bedroom department – or wherever they might happen to be when horny – they work but outside is where the issues arise. If he wants to keep her he needs to stop trying to control everything and communicate. Otherwise he might lose her forever.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘Sensational’ by Janet Nissenson

Title: Sensational (Inevitable #4)

Published: 6th November 2015

Publisher: BookBaby

Author: Janet Nissenson

Facebook: www.facebook.com/janetnissensonauthor

Twitter: @JNissenson

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/7375780.Janet_Nissenson

 

Synopsis:

THEY SAY YOU NEVER FORGET YOUR FIRST LOVE…

Lauren McKinnon has always prided herself on never backing down from a challenge, living life to its fullest, and refusing to be ruled by her emotions. She is the quintessential wild child who became a bold, fearless woman, she doesn’t believe in regrets or second chances, and thinks that true love only happens in fairy tales. Except for the time it happened to her one magical summer. But unlike fairy tales, in real life love can also be cruel, and after having her heart broken Lauren has vowed to never allow herself to be vulnerable again.

Ben Rafferty has always been a loner, never truly belonging anywhere or to anyone, until the summer he visits Big Sur and meets the girl he immediately recognizes as his soulmate. But Lauren’s star shines far too brightly, and to stay with her means the real possibility of dimming that brilliant light. The decision to leave her behind will be the most difficult of his life, and for years later he’s left to wonder what would have happened if he’d stayed.

When their paths inevitably cross again, Lauren’s pride and refusal to forgive continues to keep them apart, as does the new woman in Ben’s life. As truths are eventually revealed, and emotions can no longer be denied, will Lauren and Ben finally find their way back to each other, or will they be destined to forever remain apart?

 

Review:

Clues in the title to how I feel about authors’ style of writing, sensational. Have loved this series so far and couldn’t wait to get to Lauren’s story. Knew it was going to be good from the get go but didn’t realize how long it would take for Ben to grow a pair to get his girl and then for Lauren to stop being so stubborn. But it’s the tension that makes a good story and helps build a more realistic one, so here goes.

Loved how this story was going on at the same time as all the others have been (Julia and Nathan, Tessa and Ian and then Angela and Nick). It seemed at first that they all were the ones that found true love first but in reality it was Lauren all along. She just hid it well from those around her and she was also the first one to suffer complete heartbreak, but we will get to that in a bit.

I liked that you got to start at the beginning with them and not present day so you could see how their lives, and lives of others’, slowly intertwined with each other. So we start in Lauren’s favourite place on earth. Her families place along the coast in Big Sur. One said place where she encounters a very handsome man, Ben. She just strolls on up in short shorts and a barely there bikini top, one he can’t seem to keep his eyes off, and informs him that he is trespassing. Ben just wanted to take a really good picture of the bay to go with a travel piece he was working on but when she sees the excuse of a camera he is uses she insists he use one of hers. He thinks she is a bit too trusting of someone she just met so I like it when she shows him exactly how she can handle herself no matter the situation. She saw something in him from the moment they met and knew what she wanted to happen from the moment he turned to look at her. As soon as she got him back to her place, with photos collected, he almost feels like he is home. Which was rare for someone who never really felt settled anywhere. You may say she pounced on him but it wouldn’t have been long before he made a move, she was just getting there first. What started as a possible one-night stand turned into a passionate escape from reality where time seemed to stand still for them both. Hot enough to build a campfire from. Young love almost too passionate to handle perhaps? It was this moment when Ben realized just what she might be capable of doing and knew, well thought he did anyway, that if he stayed she wouldn’t fulfill her dreams. So he does what he thinks is best, he leaves. Biggest mistake of his life, one he longs to take back.

You are in complete agreement with Lauren when you think of him as an asshole that doesn’t deserve her. Shame her heart doesn’t seem to get the message straight away. He might think that because she is younger than him that she would just bounce back and get with someone new within months but that was never going to be the case. From this moment on she kind of shuts down emotionally but never really lets on to the people around her. She may give off the impression in other books that she is wild and carefree but that only really applies to her career not her love life, or lack there of. Her career is all that she thinks about and years after her heartbreak thinking that she would never see Ben again she gets one hell of a shock on that front.

The same goes for Ben too when he finds out he is her new boss. Then lets rub some salt in the wounds by bringing up that he is seeing someone, Elle. Not that he is truly ‘in’ the relationship. Its almost like he feels responsible for her. She is a very highly-strung person who was never going to be more than his friend as his heart has only and will only ever belong to Lauren.

This isn’t a cheating book, as they then have to work together, along with all that tension, for the next couple of years. So when I say that you are just waiting for them to get their act together you are waiting a little while. The chemistry is as evident in present day as it was in the past but they hold back. Lauren would never go for someone who is involved with another. The longer they are in each other’s presence though the harder it gets to exist in Lauren’s eyes. She wants what she thinks she can’t have and if she had only let him explain earlier why he left then things may have sped up.

Seem history might be repeating itself when Lauren finally opens up to someone, her Aunt Madelyn. Loved the side romance story with her and how she was reunited with her lost love. She doesn’t want her niece to follow in her footsteps by waiting too long so its this moment that gives her the push she needed.

Another great read that brought together all the characters from the previous books and you can see what Lauren was really going through along their timelines which is cool. Can’t wait to get on with the rest of the series.

5 out of 5 stars

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Book Review: ‘Henrietta Maria’ by Dominic Pearce

Title: Henrietta Maria

Published: 15th November 2015

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Author: Dominic Pearce

 

Synopsis:

At the heart of the English Civil War stands the wife of Charles I, Henrietta Maria. She came to England in 1625 at the age of fifteen, undermined by her greedy French entourage, blocked by the forceful Duke of Buckingham and weighed down by instructions from the Pope to protect the Catholics of England. She was only a girl, and she had hardly a winning card in her hand; yet fifteen years later she was the terror of Parliament.

We see Henrietta Maria in the portraits of van Dyck, and hear her voice in the letters which she wrote to her husband and many others. She is a historic queen who inherited from her father, the great French statesman Henri IV, undying convictions about royal and divine authority and about just governance. There was always brutal violence in the background of her life from the early moments (her father was assassinated when she was six months old); she lived through civil war both in England and in France (the Fronde); she was tortured by the fate of Charles I; but her spirit – and her family – prevailed. Two of her children sat on the throne of England (Charles II and James II) and three of her grandchildren followed them (William III, Mary II and Anne). Her life is a story of elegance, courage, wit, energy and family devotion on a grand scale.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2017 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A History book.

A new and enticing biography of a Queen who has stayed in the background through many discussions on Charles I, their son Charles II and the English Civil war. Dominic takes the reader on a journey through her younger life before she became a player in a much more dangerous royal game in England.

From the start Henrietta Marie’s life was going to be a controversial one with religion and political gain always playing a part in the path she was being led down. At the age of fifteen she was a pawn placed in a high position when she became the wife of Charles I, then Charles, Prince of Wales. The marriage had its set backs from the very beginning with religion being the key player. She was Catholic and he Protestant. Part of her dowry always stated that this was never going to change and this is what sent fear into many a political mind. Their marriage, after a few set backs to being with, well she was just a child and couldn’t speak a word of English, seemed to be a happy one after the birth of their children. She was a very loyal woman and fiercely protective of her children and her husband.

When her husband became king you would think that they would be safe from persecution but the fear many had over her control of the king was great. It wouldn’t take long for whispers of dislike to get louder and have more of a political backing, mainly when they tried to impeach her. Which would soon bring about the start of a civil war. It was at these most difficult times that many would think she would cower and hide but she just stepped forward to help her husband take back control of the country they were losing. She was condemned and attacked at every turn but still carried on to see things through. Having the means to help where she could with other countries. She was a daughter of France so they were always there to help her, just not always as much for her husband. An interesting view on the English Civil War and the part the she played in it, from close up and a distance.

The war would end and the lose was great with the death of her husband but she knew she still had work to do to help her son claim back what was rightfully his. The Scots may have taken him as their King but the rest of the land was something else entirely. No matter the set back she always seemed to have a plan up her sleeve, not always taken though as soon it became clear that her children, most of whom she had not seen in years, were coming into their own and not needing her or her opinions. It was probably why she felt so strongly for her youngest Henrietta Anne, as she was the last one to mould in her own image.

Throughout her life she had many a friend who stayed close no matter the danger, though not all could be saved from it. She outlived most of her children and saw the fall and rise of the English royal reign when her son Charles II took back control. Her cultural influence can be seen today through the architecture designed by her protégé Inigo Jones and the art that was a love of hers. She was a creative creature from the start and seemed to want to please others, though I’d say only when deserved. This was a very interesting insight into a hidden figure of history.

From not knowing anything about her before reading the book I will admit to going back to the family trees at the front of the book from time to time just to remind myself who people were and how they were connected. Can get a little confusing when they all have the same name but that was just something they liked to do at the time so you have to just go with it.

5 out of 5 stars

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Book Review: ‘Redemption’ by Danielle Hardgrave

Title: Redemption (Sea Assassins Book 2)

Published: 1st September 2017

Publisher: Caldwell Publishing

Author: Danielle Hardgrave

Twitter: @dhardgrav3

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/15300640.Danielle_Hardgrave

 

Synopsis:

Sophia Davies is having the time of her life.

She lives with her two best friends in a city she loves and every day is a new adventure. Case in point, stumbling into her bedroom after a great night out and finding her ultimate childhood crush waiting for her.

But things have changed since the last time Sophia saw Nate. For starters, she now knows what he does for a living. And there’s the whole shark shifter thing…

Nathan Redman is burning.

He thought his mistakes would fade away with time, but the closer he comes to taking leadership of his clan, the more they sear into his skin. Revenge is the best cure for any wound, which is why Nathan’s heading out to see an old friend.

It’s nothing personal, really.

Getting close to Sophia is no problem. Killing her on the other hand…

 

Review:

Temperatures are rising the moment Nate and Sophia get in a room together so get ready for a bit more bite this time round, and not just from some sharp shark teeth.

Now its time we see a different side to our Nate. Not the shark bearing teeth side, well unless you ask really nicely that is. This side seems to be one that only Sophia could pull out of him. One he wasn’t even aware he wanted to come to the surface until Sophia managed to get under his skin. Her sister Darcy and Gabe might not like it but it seems for once she’s the one calling the shots.

So after the fail for Nate at the end of Betrayal he went away to lick his wounds and stew in his own anger. He knows he said he would never return to the bay to cause trouble for Darcy or Gabe again but he is consumed with the need for revenge. If he can’t get Darcy, his one time only real human friend, then what better way to hurt them both than by going after her sister Sophia? His plan is simple, find Sophia and kill her. He thinks he can get it done before he has to take over the clan. With his father on the way out he is all set to take the reins, whether he really wants them is another matter. Finding her is one thing but killing her is something else entirely. From the first moment they are alone – you know when he sneaks into her dorm room to kill her – with her hopping around trying to get her shoes off by throwing them in any direction she gets a shock when one doesn’t hit the floor. Acting on instinct Nate caught it, he had plenty of time to do the deed before she screamed but something held him back. He just thinks that he will try the next time, easy to do as she makes it clear she would be happy to see him again. Even after her friend hits him over the head to protect her – yep I was laughing quite a bit here. But again nothing happens; it’s like for the first time he is himself without the clan issues beating down on him when he is with her. The closer they get the more danger she could be in from outside sources.

Funny how even though Sophia knows exactly what Nate is she trusts him straight off the bat (not completely wise with his reasons for finding her in the first place) but she is just way too intrigued by the shark he turns into. The fact that she had a major crush on him while growing up only fuels her curiosity more. Taking it one step further by getting in the water with him. I mean when he turns back to human and makes her pulse race in another way I’m all for it but the swimming with him circling the boat they were once on, nope I’m sorry too much for shark phobic me. This is almost the turning point for Nate where he sees her differently, as someone for him perhaps?

Thought her friends Grace and Hannah were a laugh and their pizza race was fun. Totally something you want to try out after a night out when you are craving food. To call for a pizza and try to race back home before it gets there, if the pizza guy wins then you have to pay a bigger tip. Jack aka Snack Attack pizza guy was amusing too and the perfect person for Hannah when she finally got her head out of the clouds to see him.

Lexa was interesting and clearly ready for power to take over the clan with Nate when his dad passes. A match made from the time they were ten to draw two powerful clans together. Not something that Sophia really wants to find out when she thinks they are starting to get serious. The more you hear about Nate’s dad Marcus the more you understand how Nate became the way he is and why after he meets Sophia he might really want to change. He just needs to think about what he really wants in life and go for it before he loses something special.

I was a little surprised with how Sophia treated her sister at the end as everything she has ever done has always been for her. But then you can see how she would feel a lot of pressure on her from it, so both sides valid I guess. All set for part three where a battle might be brewing and warring friends might need to come back together to keep everyone they care for safe.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author via Caldwell Publishing for my honest review.

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