Showing posts from March, 2013

Rocamora Review and Blog Tour

Rocamora by Doanld Michael Platt
review copy provided by author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Rocamora, a novel of 17th century Spain, is based on the life of Vicente de Rocamora, who struggles to make his place in a Spain obsessed with limpieza de sangre, purity of blood untainted by Jew, Moor, or recent convert.
Poet, swordsman, and master of disguise, at the insistence of his family, Vicente enters the Dominican Order and is soon thrust into the scheming political and clerical hierarchies that at Court.
Vicente becomes Confessor and Spiritual Director for King Philip IV’s teenage sister, the beautiful Infanta Doña María, five years younger than he, protégé and possible successor of Inquisitor General Sotomayor, and an invaluable assistant to the King’s chief minister, the Count-Duke de Olivares.
Vicente needs all his skills and cunning to survive assassination by a growing list of ruthless foes in both Church and Court, solve a centuries-old riddle to…

The Bruges Tapestry Review and Blog Tour

The Bruges Tapestry by P.A. Staes
review copy provided by author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Following a 500-year-old mystery concerning a Flemish tapestry is routine work for Detective Claire DeMaer, since she’s employed by the Newport Beach Art Theft Detail. But, unlike past cases, this one involves arresting Paolo Campezzi, lover to her best friend Nora. Mr. Campezzi is a distant descendant of a Florentine Duke, who commissioned the tapestry in 1520 in Bruges, Belgium.
Claire finds that she must explore the true provenance of the tapestry, free Mr. Campezzi in order to re-establish her friendship with Nora and depend on the expertise of a textile expert she doesn’t know. All this must occur in 72 hours, before the Vatican takes the tapestry back.
But Claire isn’t the only one with the Vatican looking over her shoulder. Claire’s story intertwines with a 1520 diary by Beatrice van Hecke, the tapestry-weaver’s daughter. Only Claire can discover the se…

The Tale of Lucia Grandi Blog Tour and Review

The Tale of Lucia Grandi: The Early Years by Susan Speranza
review copy provided by the author via TLC Book Tours
Description from Goodreads:
When an old woman is asked to tell the story of her life, she tells is an intense and poignant tale about growing up in and surviving an irrational, warring suburban family during the 1950s and 60s. The narrative is told from Lucia’s perspective as the second child where she and her siblings are caught in the middle of a lifelong war between her mother, Ruth, an overbearing, unhappy homemaker, and her father, Leonard, a manipulative, sometimes violent New York City cop. Lucia is the silent, thoughtful eyewitness to her parents’ constant and sometimes life-threatening battle.

The story is told as a memoir; each chapter describes a particular incident in Lucia’s life which shows the constant struggle between her parents and the perverse effect it has on her and her siblings. From her complicated and unwanted birth, to her witnessing a sui…

A Lesson in Secrets - Month of Maisie Blog Tour

A Lesson in Secrets (Maisie Dobbs #8) by Jacqueline Winspear
review copy provided by Harper Perennial via TLC Book Tours
Description from Goodreads:

In the summer of 1932, Maisie Dobbs’ career goes in an exciting new direction when she accepts an undercover assignment directed by Scotland Yard’s Special Branch and the Secret Service. Posing as a junior lecturer, she is sent to a private college in Cambridge to monitor any activities “not in the interests of His Majesty’s Government.”

When the college’s controversial pacifist founder and principal, Greville Liddicote, is murdered, Maisie is directed to stand back as Detective Chief Superintendent Robert MacFarlane and Detective Chief Inspector Stratton spearhead the investigation. She soon discovers, however, that the circumstances of Liddicote’s death appear inextricably linked to the suspicious comings and goings of faculty and students under her surveillance.

To unravel this web, Maisie must overcome a reluctant Secret Ser…

The Waste Land by Simon Acland

The Waste Land: An Entertainment by Simon Acland
review copy provided by Beaufort Books in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis from publisher website:

The Waste Land chronicles the adventures of Hugh de Verdon, monk turned knight, during        the extraordinary historical events of the First rusade.  He journeys from the great Benedictine monastery of Cluny to Constantinople, Antioch, and Jerusalem.  He encounters the Assassins, endures a personal epiphany and discovers the “truth” behind the Holy Grail.
Hugh de Verdon’s tale is retold by a group of desperate Oxford professors, based on his autobiographical manuscript, discovered in their college library.  Their humorous – and murderous – story also provides a commentary on the eleventh-century events and shows that they are perhaps not all they seem.

My Take:
The Waste Land by Simon Acland was such a delight to read. I have struggled with exactly how to write about this book and my reactions to it without giving away too much …

Guest Post by Simon Acland, author of The Waste Land

THE GRAIL LEGEND IN MEDIEVAL AND MODERN FICTION By Simon Acland, author of The Waste Land The opening conceit of my novel The Waste Land is that a group of desperate Oxford dons discover an ancient manuscript in their library. They resolve to rescue the finances of their bankrupt college by turning this manuscript into a best-selling thriller (think TheDa Vinci Code). The manuscript contains the autobiographical story of Hugh de Verdon, a monk turned knight who goes on the First Crusade (1096-99) and “discovers the truth about the Holy Grail”. What is more, the manuscript appears to be the Urtext, the original source material, for the very first medieval Grail romance written by Chrétien de Troyes around 1180.
I studied French and German at Oxford in the 1970s. Back then, Oxford was more than a little old-fashioned, and I found myself studying 12th and 13th Century Grail Romances as my special subject (that is Modern Languages at Oxford for you). However, I found them fascinating and bec…

Teaser - The Waste Land by Simon Acland

Here is a chance to meet the author Simon Acland as he talks about his book The Waste Land in the video below. Check back on Monday for a guest post by Simon Acland himself, entitled "The Grail Legend in Medieval and Modern Fiction." Then, on Tuesday, my review will be posted. Be sure to check back and find out just how much I liked this book. 

The Myth of Persecution Blog Tour and Review

The Myth of Persecution by Candida Moss
review copy provided by Harper One via TLC Book Tours
According to Cherished Church tradition and popular belief, before the Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal in the fourth century, early Christians were systematically persecuted by a brutal Roman Empire intent on their destruction. As the story goes, vast numbers of believers were thrown to the lions, tortured, or burned alive because they refused to renounce Christ. These saints, Christianity’s inspirational heroes, are still venerated today.
In The Myth of Persecution, Candida Moss reveals that the “Age of Martyrs” is a fiction—there was no sustained three-hundred-year-long effort by the Romans to persecute Christians. Instead, these stories were pious exaggerations; highly stylized rewritings of Jewish, Greek, and Roman noble death traditions; and even forgeries designed to marginalize heretics, inspire the faithful, and fund churches.
The traditional story of pers…