Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Blast & Giveaway: 1066: What Fates Impose by G. K. Holloway

Please join G.K. Holloway on he tours the blogosphere for 1066: What Fates Impose, from April 14 - May 2.

1066 What Fates Impose1066 What Fates ImposePublication Date: March 4, 2013
Matador Publishing

King William then utters the following words to the room: ‘I appoint no one as my heir to the Crown of England, but leave it to the disposal of the Eternal Creator, whose I am and who orders all things. For I did not attain that high honour by hereditary right, but wrested it from the perjured King Harold in a desperate bloody battle.’

England is in crisis. King Edward has no heir and promises never to produce one. There are no obvious successors available to replace him, but quite a few claimants are eager to take the crown. While power struggles break out between the various factions at court, enemies abroad plot to make England their own. There are raids across the borders with Wales and Scotland.

Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, is seen by many as the one man who can bring stability to the kingdom. He has powerful friends and two women who love him, but he has enemies will stop at nothing to gain power. As 1066 begins, England heads for an uncertain future. It seems even the heavens are against Harold.

Intelligent and courageous, can Harold forge his own destiny – or does he have to bow to what fates impose?

Buy the Book

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Amazon US
Book Depository
Troubador Publishing

GK Holloway
About the Author

I have been interested in history since I was a boy, which I suppose explains why, when I came across a degree course in History and Politics at Coventry University that looked tailor made for me, I applied right away. In my first year at Coventry I lived in the halls of residence within a stone’s throw of the Leofric Hotel. In the opposite direction, just a short walk from my halls, is the bell tower that houses a clock, which when its bell chimes the hour, produces a half size model of naked Lady Godiva riding a horse for the titillation of tourists. Above her, Peeping Tom leans out of a window for a better view. In all of the three years I was there, it never once occurred to me that I would one day write a book featuring Earl Leofric and his famous wife, as key players. After graduating I spent a year in Canada before I returned to England to train as a Careers Officer in Bristol. Later, I lived and worked in Gloucestershire as a Careers Officer and then in Adult Education as an Education Guidance worker. After I met my wife, I moved back to Bristol to live and I worked at Bath Spa University as a Student Welfare Officer for a number of years. It was about this time I read a biography about King Harold II which fascinated me so much I read more and more about the man and the times. I found the whole pre-conquest period of England so interesting I couldn’t understand why no one had written a novel about it. So, I decided to write one myself. Now, after many years of study and time spent over a hot keyboard, I have finally produced that novel. 1066: What Fates Impose is the result of all that study and hard work and is the first book I’ve written. I am now working on a sequel.

Virtual Tour and Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 14
Book Blast at Kincavel Korner
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, April 15
Book Blast at Passages to the Past
Book Blast at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, April 16
Review at Svetlana's Reviews and Views
Book Blast at To Read or Not to Read

Thursday, April 17
Book Blast at Closed the Cover
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry

Friday, April 18
Book Blast at Time 2 Read
Book Blast at The Bookworm

Monday, April 21
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at Griperang's Bookmarks

Tuesday, April 22
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, April 23
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Interview at The Maiden's Court

Thursday, April 24
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Book Blast at Reading the Ages

Friday, April 25
Review at Impressions in Ink
Book Blast at Ink Sugar Blog
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer

Monday, April 28
Review at Kinx's Book Nook
Book Blast at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, April 29
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Book Blast at Historical Readings and Reviews

Wednesday, April 30
Review at Historical Tapestry
Book Blast at Book Nerd

Thursday, May 1
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes

Friday, May 2
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Book Blast at A Book Geek
Book Blast at Layered Pages


To win a copy of 1066: What Fates Impose please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on May 2nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter on May 3rd and notified via email.
Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Review: Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by the Countess of Carnarvon

This is a very well written and interesting account of Lady Almina, Countess of Carnarvon, and her family, including coverage of the family's involvement of the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb.

The biggest downside is that while there is a bibliography, there's no citations and I get the impression that some of the more intimate details are actually just family lore and legend passed down the generations. The author is, after all, the current Countess of Carnarvon and so this is essentially her husband's family history. As a genealogy enthusiast myself, I can certainly appreciate the incorporation of stories passed down generations but it also means that I always take family lore with a grain of salt. I wish that it was more clear about what information came from what sources. That said, to be fair, the author prefaces the book by making it clear this is "not a history" or biography so she is upfront about it being rather more like a family story.

But if you think that means it's all about gossip, you'd be wrong. Almina's contribution to society, especially during the war, was very admirable and I enjoyed reading about her personal growth and professional growth during her efforts to help people and support the war. This, along with the detailed account of the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, which was funded by her husband, were definitely the highlights of this book.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn

This is the story of the infamous Borgia family as told from the first person points of view of Giulia Farnese, the Pope’s mistress, and her cook Carmelina, and bodyguard Leonello. The addition of these latter two fictional characters was welcome, since without them it would have been a rather flat, one dimensional romance story. But Carmelina and Leonello’s stories give us a glimpse into the commoner’s world and allowed the author some more creative freedom. Meanwhile, Giulia’s point of view (and a little of Leonello’s and Carmelina’s too) gives us a window into the world of a very complex and fascinating family.

At times, some of the characters seemed a little too modern but they were compelling characters who made their stories really come to life. The protagonists are flawed but likeable and some of the characters continued to surprise me. I really enjoyed watching Giulia grow up and figure out what is important to her. I enjoyed waiting for the inevitable to happen when Carmelina’s past caught up with her. Though Leonello’s character did remind me of Tyrion, the author swears she had developed his character before she read Game of Thrones (and for those who haven’t read Game of Thrones, the character Tyrion is similar to Leonello). In a way, that is a testament to how good the characters in this novel are: great minds think alike, after all.

Although the novel was written in first person multiple points of view, which I don’t normally love, I hardly even noticed it, perhaps because it was just so well written that it didn’t matter. I think what I enjoyed most about this novel, apart from the characters, was the attention to cultural detail, not only in the food descriptions (which have been praised enough in plenty of other reviews, so I won’t repeat them) but also with elements such as the mentions of different accents and dialects. It’s easy to think the book is set in Italy so the Italian characters would all have Italian accents - but with Quinn’s attention to detail, characters notice when another character has a Venetian accent instead of a Roman accent. It’s this kind of attention to detail that brings the setting to life and does it with ease; the descriptions are full and rich but you’ll never feel like they bog down the story. The plot certainly isn’t neglected even amid all these rich descriptions and characters. While Giulia initially spends much of her time sitting around beautifying herself for her Pope in the beginning, we get to watch Carmelina come into her own in the kitchens, and Leonello attempts to investigate a serial killer. But Giulia is more than just a trophy mistress and she proves it in the second half.

It ended on a cliffhanger though, so if you’re the type of person who hates that, this might not be for you. However, the second book is out now so if you’re happy to just immediately pick up the second book, the cliffhanger shouldn’t be a problem. I bought the sequel literally the moment I finished this one, I am really looking forward to where the author takes the sequel.

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