(Review) The Way of Glory by Patricia J. Boomsma

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Publisher and Publication Date: Edeleboom Books. November 14, 2018.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 406.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to write a positive review. Complimentary paperback copy provided by the author, Patricia J. Boomsma.
Rating: Very Good.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction. Readers who love medieval history. Adult and young adult audience.

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Praise for The Way of Glory:
“One of the many impressive things about The Way of Glory is how lightly it wears its scrupulous research. This fine novel invites you to lose yourself to the compelling character and tumultuous life of a young woman trying to find God and love at the heart of a crusade rooted in greed and hate. This is a remarkable debut by a writer to watch.” -Naeem Murr, author of The Perfect Man
The Way of Glory convincingly portrays a place, a time, and a people vastly different from our own. Historical fiction is a fantastically difficult genre to get right, but Pat Boomsma manages it with aplomb.” -Pinckney Benedict, author of Dogs of God
The Way of Glory is a riveting read from first page to last, as it expertly traces the trajectories of several compelling characters caught up in the Crusades. As the protagonist, Cate will steal your heart; she’s as complex a fourteen-year-old as you will ever meet, and the fate she struggles against is a complicated and often frightening vortex of forces, made ever richer by the intense evocation and very thoughtful depictions. This is a remarkable novel.” -Fred Leebron, author of Welcome to Christiania

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About the Author:
I grew up in a far southwestern suburb of Chicago among the trees and sloughs of the Cook County Park District, then attended college in Michigan. After graduating, I dreamed of an academic life teaching English literature and began a Ph.D. program at Purdue University. There I concentrated on medieval studies, receiving a Master’s and continuing on for four more years before realizing that no one I knew was finding a permanent, let alone tenure-track, position. So, instead of writing my dissertation I went to law school. I moved to Arizona to escape the brutal midwestern winters and have been practicing law there for over thirty years. My first novel, The Way of Glory, is, in part, an extension of my love for all things medieval.
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Summary:
Cate, a teenage girl from twelfth century England, joins her brothers and aunt on a crusade to save Jerusalem that stops in Hispania to battle the Moors. Life on a battlefield strains the family’s closeness as they confront the terror and contradictions of holy war. Cate’s dreams of sainthood change to those of a husband and children when she falls in love with a soldier, but she finds no peace even after the family settles on land taken from the Moors. Cate’s friendship with a conquered Moor soon leads to impossible choices as she faces the cost of betrayal and the loss of all she’s known.

My Thoughts:
Medieval history is one of my favorite genres. I sometimes go through periods of reading time where this is the only type of book read.
The main reason I gave The Way of Glory a very good rating is because of the details of life during this historical period.
The main character is Cate. She is 14. She has two older brothers, a knight, and a future priest. They have other siblings and parents who do not have strong parts in the story. Cate’s aunt, Mary, is a strong character. Mary is a mature anchor in the story versus Cate’s impulsive immaturity.
Cate’s immaturity is irrational, selfish; and is in itself a theme that later leads to a disaster. Cate is the main character but I disliked her to the point of annoyance.
Mary is a character I’d like to read more about. She has knowledge and wisdom behind eyes that take in a mature perspective. However, making Mary the main character would change the whole story.
Cate wants to be given a mature responsibility. Mary is going to travel as a pilgrim with the soldiers who are “fighting for Christ” against the Moors. Mary can cook. She has knowledge of medicinal arts. And, she will care for the wounded soldiers. Cate and Mary will work together as a team ministering to the men who are fighting. However, Cate’s immaturity will display itself.

Reasons why I love The Way of Glory:
•The descriptions of everyday life in England: family life, church, food, role of women, priesthood, and knights training. And, early in the story a mystery surrounding a death. The village sheriff gave me a view of how a crime is investigated.
•The descriptions of how injured people were cared for during battle.
•Through Cate’s fresh lens I saw her world. The traveling by ship, plants, animals, buildings, bridges, ports, and a lighthouse.
•The people of Hispania. Their language and culture is interesting. Their culture versus the English culture was shown in the story.
•The feelings people had about the crusades. How they felt in England versus how they felt after arriving in a new land, and later, after the fighting began.

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(Review) The Monastery Murders: A Stanton and Barling Mystery by E.M. Powell

 

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Publisher and Publication Date: Thomas & Mercer. September 27, 2018.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Series: Stanton and Barling #2.
Pages: 288.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Recommend. Good.
Audience: Readers of mystery books and medieval history.

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Summary:
Their lives are ones of quiet contemplation—and brutal murder.
Christmas Eve, 1176. Brother Maurice, monk of Fairmore Abbey, awaits the night prayer bell. But there is only silence. Cursing his fellow brother Cuthbert’s idleness, he seeks him out—and in the darkness, finds him brutally murdered.
Summoned from London to the isolated monastery on the Yorkshire Moors, Aelred Barling, clerk to the King’s justices, and his messenger Hugo Stanton, set about investigating the horrific crime. They quickly discover that this is far from a quiet monastic house. Instead, it seethes with bitter feuds, rivalries and resentments. But no sooner do they arrive than the killer strikes again—and again.
When Barling discovers a pattern to these atrocities, it becomes apparent that the murderer’s rampage is far from over. With everyone, including the investigators, now fearing for their lives, can Barling and Stanton unmask the culprit before more blood is spilled?

03_E.M. Powell

About the author:
E.M. Powell’s historical thriller Fifth Knight novels have been #1 Amazon and Bild bestsellers. The King’s Justice is the first novel in her new Stanton and Barling medieval murder mystery series. She is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers’ The Big Thrill magazine, blogs for English Historical Fiction Authors and is the social media manager for the Historical Novel Society.
Born and raised in the Republic of Ireland into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State), she now lives in North-West England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog.
Find out more by visiting www.empowell.com. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

My Thoughts:
Early in the book there is a story about a bear being attacked by dogs. This was a source of entertainment for the townspeople: a bear being attacked by dogs in a pit. It’s not that I like this sort of thing, but it is an ingenious sub-story. This event gave me a perspective of that era. Their type of entertainment and sport was bear-baiting. This leads me to my first reason for liking this book: The Monastery Murders gave me a strong view of life in 1176 in North Yorkshire, England.
The mystery of the book is deaths that take place in a monastery. A monastery is not the sort of place where gruesome murders are committed. And, all of this begins at Christmas time. So, the opposite of what I’d expect in a murder case is turned upside down by the date and place. I like this unexpected aspect of the story.
Hugo Stanton and Aelred Barling are the two men who work together to solve the murders. Barling is a senior clerk in the court of King Henry. Stanton is a messenger with the law court. They’d solved a case several months ago (this must have been in book one.) Stanton is the pupil of Barling. Stanton is a younger and handsomer man. Stanton has charm and is a physical type man. Whereas, Barling is described as “pale skin” and “thin face.” Barling comes across to me as a brooding, secretive type man. Later in the story a personal mystery about Barling will be revealed that explained my suspicions.
I enjoyed reading The Monastery Murders, but was not swept up in the story as I’d liked, and this is why I gave the book a good rating.

 

(Review) The Lost Queen, Book One by Signe Pike

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Publisher and Publication Date: Touchstone. September 4, 2018.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 544.
Source: I received a complimentary advanced reader paperback copy from Touchstone, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Recommend. Good.
Audience: Historical fiction readers. Readers who love Scottish history. Readers who love medieval history.

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Website for Signe Pike

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signe pike

Her memoir Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World, was a “Best of 2010” Pick from Kirkus Reviews and received glowing reviews from Harper’s Bazaar, Women’s Adventure Magazine, and renowned spiritual leader Marianne Williamson among others. Pike has been featured on WPR’s “To the Best of Our Knowledge” in an episode on enchantment along with Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman, and A.S. Byatt.

She was born in Ithaca, New York and currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

Summary:
AD 550. Land of the Britons. Strathclyde, Scotland.
Languoreth, and her twin brother, Lailoken, are the children of a king. Their mother died. Their nursemaid is Crowan. Languoreth is strong-willed and independent. She wants to become a Wisdom Healer like her mother had been. Instead, she will someday marry a man of her father’s choosing and become a queen. Lailoken has a gift of reading signs from the gods. Languoreth can read Lailoken’s thoughts. They are handsome children. They have a close bond. When the story begins, Languoreth, and Lailoken are children destined for greatness.
The timeline of the story is AD 550 to 572.

My Thoughts:
Medieval history is one of my favorite periods to read about. I love historical fiction. These two combined loves led me to read this book.
I have several thoughts:
The Lost Queen has been compared to the Outlander series and Camelot. I disagree. Outlander is a different period in Scottish history and time travel is involved. Camelot is a larger than life story. It’s a famous story. A story with a bit of magic, and a lot of romance. I’ve not read The Mists of Avalon series (so I cannot compare.)
•Languoreth is the narrator or voice in the story. Her brother is a strong character, but it is her thoughts and words that is prominent.
•For most of The Lost Queen, it felt more like a young adult novel. Until the last quarter of the story, the main characters are young people who are headstrong and valiant. Plus, the story lacked a maturity (probably because of the ages of the twins.)
•Languoreth is in love with a young man whom she’s spent only a brief time with. For me, chemistry and lust is something you feel immediate. Love takes time to grow. Also, love over the years takes dips and turns, it develops roots, and it may or may not look anything like the love that was there at the start.
The Lost Queen showed the practice and culture of people living in this time period. I enjoyed reading about the medicinal arts and mysticism.
•Despite how Languoreth feels, and despite her strong-willed nature, she obeys her father in marrying another man. I love characters who do the right thing despite how they “feel.” Feelings often lead people astray. Of course, I’m in my mid 50’s and I’m reflecting back on those feelings that led me astray. Doing the right thing requires courage, humility, and sacrifice. This gave Languoreth a maturity in the story. This was a sign she had blossomed and developed.
•The romantic element is strong but brief. Brief in that most of the romance is in her mind and heart. She remembered their stolen moments and wonders how he truly feels? She wondered if it was something of lasting value?
The Lost Queen covers at least half the life of Languoreth. I can’t imagine what a second novel will reveal? Possibly it will be the story of Lailoken. He is the basis for Myrddin or Merlin.
•I was not swept away in The Lost Queen; however, I was entertained. I recommend this novel and I’m enticed enough to read its sequel.