Book Review: “What Passes As Love” by Trisha R. Thomas

Hello there!

For the last two months, I’ve been on what I thought would be a never-ending cycle of finding something to read to only abandon it later. I have been searching for my next great book (series) to at least excite me for a time, but l haven’t found anything like I had with the ‘Celtic Blood’ series, that is, until I found this little beauty.

I still don’t know what made me obsess over it when I saw it, because I had been scrolling through the new releases on Kindle Unlimited for days, and I just thought I would give it a try and then all of a sudden I was done with it in less than a week! Obviously, it was what I needed after so many over-the=top romance books. I was back on my trustee subject: historical fiction and I was able to dive deeply into it while suffering through chronic back pain. It was what I needed to get past everything for a time.


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A young woman pays a devastating price for freedom in this heartrending and breathtaking novel of the nineteenth-century South.

1850. I was six years old the day Lewis Holt came to take me away.

Born into slavery, Dahlia never knew her mother—or what happened to her. When Dahlia’s father, the owner of Vesterville plantation, takes her to work in his home as a servant, she’s desperately lonely. Forced to leave behind her best friend, Bo, she lives in a world between black and white, belonging to neither.

Ten years later, Dahlia meets Timothy Ross, an Englishman in need of a wife. Reinventing herself as Lily Dove, Dahlia allows Timothy to believe she’s white, with no family to speak of, and agrees to marry him. She knows the danger of being found out. She also knows she’ll never have this chance at freedom again.

Ensconced in the Ross mansion, Dahlia soon finds herself held captive in a different way—as the dutiful wife of a young man who has set his sights on a political future. But when Bo arrives on the estate in shackles, Dahlia decides to risk everything to save his life. With suspicions of her true identity growing and a bounty hunter not far behind, Dahlia must act fast or pay a devastating price.

taken from Goodreads.

When you first get into it, you will see a “Part I” page and I was unsure what this would mean while I passed each section. It wasn’t until I was finished did I realize why the author needed to spread things out into three acts.

You first a young Dahlia Holt, a sweet and resourceful girl who is swept up in the deep south, raised by her fellow slave family and the Holt family. Lewis Holt seems like every other slave owner of his time, but he has some secrets. One of which is that Dahlia is his daughter, so he has her come to the house to live along her sisters Annabelle and Leslie, and beloved grandmother but she’s also there to help serve them as well. Dahlia is somewhat unique as she is biracial so she could pass as both white and black, but choosing which side to be is proving harder to do than she thought. She has a friend though. Another slave, by the name of, Bo. They live separate lives on different parts of the plantation, but neither one are free.

In the second part, Dahlia goes out with Mother Rose and her sisters as they enjoy a day out into the city.

You want everyone to see through your eyes, but your eyes ain’t like the rest.

It’s there that Dahlia strays away from her family and finds two men, or well, they find her. They seem nice as regular gentlemen but Dahlia isn’t too convinced as she’s been warned to be careful around strangers, but she seems enchanted by Timothy, who wants to protect her when the city erupts in a panic over a robbery and she knows she needs to get back to the carriage, she is pulled by Timothy to escape with him and his brother Ryland. She sees this as an opportunity and takes it. Unfortunately for Dahlia, this was the only easy part of her journey.

As the final section begins, we see Dahlia finally make her way beyond what she knew about herself, the people she’s come to love and trust and find a solution on her quest for ultimate freedom.

There are not many books that allow me to dwell on the past, my American history, because it is disgusting on how my ancestors treated slaves – although I’m not sure how many family members in fact owned anyone, but there is a big possibility that it happened and it’s just better to understand that aspect of it. This book is a good insight on what it was like to be owned, and the prospect of being a women in those times and the fear of being raped by the master or overseer, having to serve ignorant people, and the thought of running away only to be brought back to harsher conditions than before.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, I highly suggest you check out this book. You will love it just as much as I did, trust me! It will make you think about everything once you finish, both about the book itself and how you love and treat people too.

Have you read “What Passes As Love” by Trisha R. Thomas yet? If you have, what to like about it? What section was your favorite too?

Book Review: “The Boleyns Of Hever Castle” by Owen Emmerson & Claire Ridgway

Hello!

It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve done anything for my blog.

Honestly, I see this as a good sign because it means that I am starting to enjoy these mini vacations! I have to say though, I did not do a whole lot of reading, ever since I finished the Celtic Blood series at the beginning of the summer, I have had a rough time figuring out what I want to get into next, as you might know I have really allowed myself to enjoy romance again, but they’re not as fun as they were around May, so I decided to dive deep into my historical fiction and even some nonfiction in there too, which is how I found this book on Kindle Unlimited in the middle of August.

I remember seeing this cover on the History of Royal Women’s instagram stories a few months before it actually came out. Moniek tries to give everyone an overview of all of the books coming out in both the US and UK and since it isn’t uncommon for the dates to be different, you may see it more than once. If you do not have instagram, she also does a blog post usually at the start of the month with more information about the books and when they officially come out too! If you’re curious about the books coming out in September, click here.


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Hever Castle is a picture-postcard fortified manor house nestled in the Kent countryside. It is famous for its links with the Boleyns, an East Anglian gentry family who rose and fell dramatically at the court of King Henry VIII.

In The Boleyns of Hever Castle, historians Owen Emmerson and Claire Ridgway invite you into the home of this notorious family.

Travel back in time to those 77 years of Boleyn ownership. Tour each room just as it was when Anne Boleyn retreated from court to escape the advances of Henry VIII or when she fought off the dreaded ‘sweat’. See the 16th century Hever Castle come to life with room reconstructions and read the story of the Boleyns, who, in just five generations, rose from petty crime to a castle, from Hever to the throne of England.

Owen Emmerson and Claire Ridgway have combined their considerable knowledge of the Boleyn family and Hever Castle to create this luxurious book. Packed with history and full-colour images, The Boleyns of Hever Castle will educate and enlighten you

taken from Amazon.

So, the book itself is divided up in three sections. The beginning is how the entire castle looked like when it was first built before the Boleyn family came along. The authors give you a lot of blueprints and reconstructed photos to give you a better idea, and this was something I could follow easily with but reading along through what was important about all of the balconies, rooms, and stairs. At some point of this, I became very confused and was tempted to skip that whole section–I complained so much that even my mom was telling me to do it! Once you finally complete this part, you move on to the origin story of the Boleyns.

This was definitely my favorite part of the book. I like to look up family trees to see where they came from and how various names play a part in the line of decedents. The first person you are introduced to is Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, who begins his quest to learn and work his way up the amount of positions like a mercer to sheriff of London. The men of the Boleyn were very good at their jobs, and this is something that continues through the generations to the point where you have Geoffrey’s great-great-grandson Thomas Boleyn becoming a diplomat for England, France, and Austria and then finally becoming the first Earl of Wiltshire in 1529.

Thomas would inherit a large amount of properties and after he married the Lady Elizabeth Howard, the daughter of the 2nd Duke of Norfolk, they would make Hever Castle their official residence. One of my favorite lines in the book was, they family could lived anywhere they wanted to, but they felt safe at Hever. The Countess would give birth to five children, but only Mary, Anne, and George would survive to adulthood. All of them were educated at Hever with their governesses and tutors, but most importantly Mary and Anne were allowed to take other courses that were mainly taught to the men of the household like falconry. Another part of their schooling, especially if they had family that worked within royal houses, they could live as apprentices or in Mary and Anne’s case, become ladies in waiting. They stayed with the Queen Margaret of Austria and Queen Claude of France before coming back to England and being part of Catherine of Aragon’s household.

This is the story of the rise of a remarkable family who, over five generations, rose from petty crime to a castle, from Hever to the throne of England.

My views on whether Anne was a schemer or a pawn has definitely changed over the years. I think the thing we all need to remember is, you never said no Henry. I am sure there was fear among the many families that served under the king, especially if you could not get something done right away, which is why my views on Cardinal Worsley’s responsibility has flipped as well. I do not believe Anne could get out of the king’s clutches or her family’s ambitions to gain even more control of the king. Unfortunately, the Queen could not give Henry a son, and Anne was at the right place at the wrong time and her fate was sealed.

The final section of the book is what happened after Hever was left to the Crown and the rest of the Boleyn family died out in 1634 with the death of Lettice Knollys, who was the daughter of Catherine Carey, who then was the daughter of Lady Mary Boleyn, the only child of Thomas and Elizabeth to not lose her head after the events in 1539. It wasn’t until William Waldorf Astor took control of the property and brought it back to how it could have looked like when the Boleyn family lived there, but with some added royal aesthetic. I thought this part was fairly interesting because it speaks to anyone who is obsessed with royal history, especially the Tudor dynasty! It doesn’t matter what century or year it is, everyone can fall in love with the stories this castle’s walls know by heart. It may be the only living thing to know the truth about Anne Boleyn’s thoughts about everything!

I really enjoyed this book, and think if you or someone you know loves learning about royal history, you should direct them to this lovely book. It is fairly short but it is full of information!

Have you read “The Boleyns at Hever Castle” by Owen Emmerson and Claire Ridgway yet? If you have, what were your thoughts about it? Let me know below!

Book Review: “Bad Girls Throughout History” by Ann Shen

Hello!

So… I had hoped that I would have a completely different blog post for you today but I was up late one night and like I mostly do in the daytime, I scrolled through the “newer” books on Kindle Unlimited. I have figured a small system, and one thing I have noticed helps me out sometimes is clicking the “Last 30 Days” of when the books come out on KU. I have found quite a few books through this route but this was one of my most exciting discoveries to date, it was also the quickest reads in a really, really long time!


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Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World delivers a empowering book for women and girls of all ages, featuring 100 women who made history and made their mark on the world, it’s a best-selling book you can be proud to display in your home.

The 100 revolutionary women highlighted in this gorgeously illustrated book were bad in the best sense of the word: they challenged the status quo and changed the rules for all who followed. Explored in this history book, include:

• Aphra Behn, first female professional writer.
• Sojourner Truth, women’s rights activist and abolitionist.
• Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer.
• Marie Curie, first woman to win the Nobel Prize.
• Joan Jett, godmother of punk.

From pirates to artists, warriors, daredevils, women in science, activists, and spies, the accomplishments of these incredible women who dared to push boundaries vary as much as the eras and places in which they effected change. Featuring bold watercolor portraits and illuminating essays by Ann Shen, Bad Girls Throughout History is a distinctive, gift-worthy tribute to rebel girls everywhere.

A lovely gift for teen girls, stories to share with a young girl at bedtime, or a book to display on a coffee table, everyone will enjoy learning about and celebrating the accomplishments of these phenomenal women.

taken from Amazon.

One of my favorite things is learn more about women, their histories, hobbies, relationships, sexuality, etc, just to gain another sort of boost of inspiration for my own life. I started my love of books, while reading fictional tales of famous women like Queen Elizabeth I and Marie Antoinette while I was in high school, and as I continue to grow, I am pushing for more stories like them. I will generally read a book in a female point of view but would rather write in a male’s point of view instead. Good luck explaining that one to me later!

I was very surprised by the fact that this book popped on my screen, and it wasn’t until I was done that I figured out how I found it at all. The author of “The Lost Pharaoh Chronicles,” Lauren Lee Mattingly was actually Ann’s editor for this book. After seeing this, I was like, “okay, that could be the reason why it literally appeared out of nowhere!” and made a note to make sure I included that piece of information for you guys. Honestly, even if I hadn’t known about it, I already had the actual book on my to-be-read list, so all in all, it was a nice easy book.

To be a bad girl is to break any socially accepted rule. For some women, it’s the way they dress. For other girls, it’s the act of going to school.

Unfortunately, I accidently read one or two reviews while trying to add it to my overwhelming “currently reading” stack of books on Goodreads, and someone had mentioned that although it was a great list of women, it wasn’t very diverse. I really try not to let another person’s comments reflect my own thoughts, but they were right. Out of 100 women mentioned in the book, there were only a handful I did not know about, and that really drove me crazy because as much as I adored reading about Grace O’Malley, Mata Hari, Rosa Parks and Nora Ephron, I expected lesser known bad girls included and the ones who were in the lineup, had like the smallest section. I was a little bummed out about this but again, it was a great book anyways!

Have you read “Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed The World” by Ann Shen? If you have, what were your thoughts on it overall?

Book Review: “Highland Queen” by Melanie Karsak

Hello!

On July 4th, I finished my final book of the “Celtic Blood” series by Melanie Karsak.

I was under 20% of the way done so I knew if I didn’t get too distracted I would be able to do it but I told you all back in March that I would (probably) be done in the summertime and now that I’ve added another series to my belt, I feel so sad AND thrilled on the accomplishment! .

Honestly, it didn’t take me very long but I also had to fight their tears towards the end so the whole thing ended up taking to less than a hour. It was strange because once I was told to go outside, I was able to shut off my thoughts about everything that happened and then when I came back inside later that night I allowed myself to dive deep into the story again. I gave myself little over 12 hours to think about things and that is more than any other book I’ve read in past three years! I like to get all of my thoughts out while they’re still fresh but for this, it was necessary for me to treat it differently.


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The king is dead.
Long live the queen.


With Duncan defeated, Gruoch becomes Queen of Scotland. Now she must rule at Macbeth’s side, a difficult prospect as the new King of Scots grows increasingly unstable. To keep her son, her love, and her country safe, Gruoch must call upon the raven.

Dive into the final installment of Gruoch’s epic tale in Highland Queen , a Scottish Historical Fantasy, Book 4 in The Celtic Blood Series by New York Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak.

taken from Goodreads.

After the events in the last book, Highland Vengeance, I knew what could be coming next would make me cry regardless and I’m glad I established that belief early on because everytime Gruoch talked about Lulach and Creawry, I would just start bawling my eyes out, but we finally get the answer about their paternity somewhat early in the story and as joyful that was, I was still full of emotions for Gruoch because that is what led her to that spot in her life. We are all given choices in our lives and even though we believe someone else is forcing us there, we are the ones who make the decision in the first place and it was a nice reminder for not only Gruoch but for me too.

The book isn’t full of sadness–although there were scenes that would make you think otherwise!–there are a lot of beautiful moments for Gruoch. Now that she was Queen of Scotland, she moved into another part of her life and that was caring for her estranged husband, King Macbeth, who was dealing with madness. You see a slither of it in HV but it really becomes apparent to practically everyone that Macbeth is not well at all. Gruoch is caring for everyone at this point, She is only staying there with him for the safety of Lulach’s future and she also deeply cares for her friends and family all around Scotland. She has Bancquo though and is finally able to devote her personal self to him and something happens that changes things for everyone all at once.

Avenger. Warrior. Queen. You have come full circle, Cerridwen.

As much as I loved this book, there were things I truly felt didn’t need to be included in the plot. The first were the gloves. I understand why she needed them but saying who they were from out loud and knowing that something might be given back in return as the series ends was a little odd to me. It might be part of her life as the Wyrd Sisters but we don’t get to know anything else about them. The final note was the actual ending. I had prepared myself for more deaths (as sad as that sounds!) and basically expected a bigger death but there wasn’t one really, and a group of people are saved and that’s how the whole thing ends. It was almost like a cliffhanger without any idea what happens to these people, and Melanie does acknowledge this in the ‘Author’s Note’ but I felt like it could have stopped after Gruoch’s meeting with Lulach because I thought that was beautiful (and made me cry even more!) but it kept going and I was very confused of the whole thing.

Now I am done and I don’t know what exactly to do. I have been looking on Kindle Unlimited for other books like this, where you have the historical fiction and fantasy elements there and I have found one other called Tree of Ages by Sara C. Roethle. It is based on the Druids so I will be able to learn more about them in a fictionalized way, but I might have figured out another book that discusses Paganism of different religions, like Norse, Celtic and Wiccan paganisms. If you have any suggestions into what I should look into next, please leave a comment below and I will check it out sometime!

Have you read “Highland Queen” by Melanie Karsak yet? What about the entire series? If you have, what were thoughts on how everything ended? Do you have a favorite book too?

Book Review: “Highland Vengeance” by Melanie Karsak

Hello!

It is finally time to talk about the third book in the Celtic Blood series, by Melanie Karsak. If you would like to check out what I had to say about the other two books, they are Highland Raven and Highland Blood. This post will include some spoilers down below, so in case you want to read the entire set (it’s free on Kindle Unlimited right now!) you may want to ditch this review!

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get started on discussing what went on in Corbie’s next stage in life.


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Scotland, 1032

Everything Gruoch loves has turned to ash. With Gillacoemgain gone, Gruoch rides north with her newborn son and a broken heart. While she desperately clings to hope, Gruoch’s new alliance with Macbeth proves more challenging than she ever anticipated. Only her unexpected reunion with an important person from her past offers solace. All may yet be well, but the raven’s wary eyes cannot help but notice clouds gathering on the horizon.

taken from Goodreads.

There were a lot of things I absolutely loved about this book, but it was definitely bittersweet!

When we come to this book, you see the cycle of being a woman of medieval times and I instantly felt horrible for her. However, she isn’t a young girl anymore; she was the raven, a widow, mother of two beautiful babies and she really took control of her life. She returns to Cawdor with only Lulach and they begin on this new journey, and the first thing she does is make the decision to seek out Macbeth instead of her cousin Duncan (for obvious reasons!), and although it was strange to choose the man who may have killed her husband, there would have no way in hell of going with option #2. Unfortunately, this marriage isn’t exactly the happiest for her but I liked the fact that she basically said, forget it! I don’t want no part of this anymore and focused her attention to raising Lulach as the successor of Moray.

“This is the sad reality we must accept. I am Gruoch, Daughter of Boite and Lady of Moray. I am the mother of Lulach, son of Gillacoemgain. You must know me as such.

On top of that, we see a familiar face come back into her life. As much as I really liked Gillacoemgain and how he treated her as both a woman and wife, especially since history has a way of showing the worst in men and when it comes to the line of succession, alliances have to be made and sometimes they don’t work out as you will see in this one, but it was nice to see another person so devoted to Corbie come back into her life. This person is a supporter of Macbeth with Jarl Thorfinn of Orkney, as they will lead the northern party against the king and Duncan.

The only thing I had an issue with was what happens starting on Chapter 42, because Melanie jumps through the years and we are told that they will be a war near the end, we are only centered around the final battle. Corbie joins everyone on the field and embraces the dark goddess, her magic and the raven for this one moment, and she was such a badass! I was proud of her throughout these books, but this was everything to me! She was finally able to get their revenge and it was so glorious!

As we enter the final book, I am slightly unsure of what could happen and basically everyone else close to her. She becomes Queen, but she only has this title because of Macbeth. I think she will have to make some even harder decisions about what she wants for not only herself but children too. I already know I will be crying because I know there will be more deaths and they are going to be hard on my heart as much as Corbie, but I’m ready to finish her story before the summer is over.

Have you read this book or any of the others in the Celtic Blood series? If you have, which one is your ultimate favorite of all time? What were thoughts after finishing “Highland Vengeance” too?