The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield @kateheartfield @RandomTTours @fictionpubteam @HarperVoyagerUK #histfic #histfantasy #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review for The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield. This is an amazing read and is definitely one for fans of historical fiction and fantasy.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my gorgeous paperback of this book from the publisher Harper Voyager UK.

‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman,
it is a little more difficult, that’s all

1768 – Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has
never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles, they
rename her Marie Antoinette.


The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless. When they were only children, they discovered
a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.


In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take
control of their lives.


But every spell requires a sacrifice. And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send
Europe spiralling into revolution.

MY REVIEW

If you are looking for a historical fiction based on fact but with a fantasy reimagining to it then look no further than The Embroidered Book. This is based in Europe and concentrated on one generation of the Hapsburg family.

How does a little insignificant-looking book that has an unfinished embroidered cover lead to the rise and fall of some of the most famous monarchs of Europe? Well, this book is one that has something rather special in it and it opens up a fantastical world of magic. Where there is magic there is greed, there is the hunt for more power and not everyone has access to it, in fact, most people don’t even know that there is magic in Europe.

This story is set in the late 1700s when a young woman leaves her family and home in Austria to marry the king of France. She will have her name changed to help her fit in, she will have to change her style and her whole way of presenting herself. She will be known as Marie Antoinette. Her sister, Charlotte is her closest sibling and they have always been close. The Hapsburgs have been arranging marriages to bolster their own heritage, remain in power and always look to improve or stabilise countries through marriage. They are the power family of the time.

The author has picked such an interesting time in history, it is turbulent and there are revolutions and uprisings to come. Using this period makes the weaving of the fantasy element work so well. There is already a sense of distrust and of poverty. While the Kings and Queens of Europe are living lavish and opulent lifestyles, the common people are starving. So adding this twist into the story is just a great way of not only showing Europe at the time but of giving the reader an exciting alternative.

As this is a historical-based novel there is a lot of historical and political references to events. This has been done in a great way and is very much part of the story rather than a dry narrative. The author really brought the characters to life, rather than being figures from history she gave them thoughts, personalities and opinions. Even though this is an age of mistrust from regular people, it was also interesting to read the authors take on how the thoughts of the monarchs could have also been.

This is an absolutely fascinating read, the magical aspects are such a good inclusion and for me worked really well. The balance of it felt right within the contest so even if you are not a reader of fantasy I think you will get on well with this.

I adored this book and it ticked many, many boxes. It is riveting, exciting, mysterious, politically charged, has loads of research, a touch of magic, mistrust, infighting, double-crossing, treachery and treason, I could go on! It shows the wranglings and machinations of the powerful leading historical figures and thought it was done brilliantly. This is a book I would absolutely recommend. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Heartfield is the author of The Embroidered Book, a historical fantasy novel out in February 2022.

Her debut novel won Canada’s Aurora Award, and her novellas, stories and games have
been shortlisted for the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, Sunburst and Aurora awards. A former
journalist, Kate lives near Ottawa, Canada.

Check out the other stops on the Blog Tour

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂

Her Previous Self by Anne Allen @AnneAllen21 #historicalfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Her Previous Self by Anne Allen. I was very fortunate to win a signed paperback copy of this book during Anne’s recent Blog Tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. Although I do own several copies from this series it is actually the first time I have read one! I will also add that it will not be the last time 🙂

Mary, miserable in her marriage to Thomas Carre, a merchant and privateer and living in the new family mansion in Georgian Guernsey.
Lucy, separated from her husband after a tragic loss and now acting as an unwilling sitter for her elderly grandfather, Gregory Carre, who has inherited the same mansion.
Lucy is haunted by Mary’s continued presence in the house and finds herself being pulled more and more back in time. How is it possible for her to live as Mary? To experience scenes from her tragic life? Lucy is forced to come to terms with Mary’s grief as well as her own.
The more enmeshed she becomes the more anxious Lucy is to discover the truth. Why is Mary still restless? What caused her mysterious disappearance two hundred years ago?

And can Lucy move on from her own loss to find happiness again?

MY REVIEW

This is the first time I have read a book by this author, although I do own 3 or 4 from the Guernsey series. This is book 8 in the series and from what I can see with this latest book, they can be read as stand-alone books.

This is a mix of present-day and historical fiction. The present-day is set with Lucy returning home to Guernsey and she keeps her Grandfather company while her parents take a break. Lucy is tired, feeling alone and is grieving. The house in which she returns is one that has been in the family for generations. One of those ancestors is Mary, there is a mystery surrounding her. There is a date of birth, a marriage date and then a blank as to when she died.

This is told in a timeslip format, and not quite the usual back and forth format. I have to say it worked really well for me and I don’t know which character I wanted to know more about each time. When I was reading about Lucy I needed to know more about Mary, and vice versa.

I did like the historical side of this story, set in a regency style it is one that has heartbreaking revelations. The characters in this era are a mix of really good and also downright wicked. In the present day, the characters are mainly good, although there is the odd one or two who did annoy me a very small amount due to their attitudes.

Overall a great story and one that I really enjoyed reading over a couple of days. One for fans of historical fiction and romance, with a historical fantasy streak to it. Very enjoyable reading and it is an author to who I will be returning and one I would happily recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. She was born in Rugby, to an English mother and Welsh father. As a result she spent many summers with her Welsh grandparents in Anglesey and learnt to love the sea. Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.
By profession Anne was a psychotherapist but has long had creative ‘itches’, learning to mosaic, paint furniture, interior design and sculpt. At the back of her mind the itch to write was always present but seemed too time-consuming for a single mum with a need to earn a living. Now retired from the ‘day job’, there’s more time to write.

The Hanging Tree by Misha Herwin @MishaHerwin #childrenfantasy #childrenadventure #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Hanging Tree by Misha Herwin. This is the 4th book in the Letty Parker series and it is aimed at 8-12year olds. It is a gothic style fantasy, magical and mystery series that this grown-up is also very much enjoying.

The Hanging Tree (Adventures of Letty Parker Book 4) by [Misha Herwin]

The power of the Dark Ones is growing once more. Watching from their rooftop perches, the gargoyles and dragons have all the gossip they could ever want. Deadly night eels slither through the city streets. The thief-taker is on the prowl. And Jebediah Hill is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Letty discovers that Jeb, her oldest friend, has been keeping secrets, yet refuses to reveal them even though he knows he will pay a terrible price. Letty Parker and Associates set out on a race to save Jeb from The Hanging Tree.
And time is running out…

Purchase HERE

MY REVIEW

I have been looking forward to seeing what the author has in store for young Letty Parker and her Associates. The associates are a group of misfits in some ways as there is Letty who used to sell pies, Jeb a one time pickpocket and scoundrel who is now legitimate, Hepzibah a well off young lady, Mango a sort of fixer and a go-to guy as well as other recurring characters.

Letty and Associates are a tight-knit group who have come together over the past books and formed a mystery-solving agency set in the dark port city of Bristol. It is not a Victorian-era Bristol you would remember from history, this one has monstrous eels, gargoyles, dragons and The Dark Ones!

The author has taken a slightly darker turn with The Hanging Tree as Jeb has been arrested, at one time this would have been sort of expected but not now and especially when he is innocent, yes he really is! Breaking Jeb out isn’t an option as he would have no way of clearing his name, instead, it is up to Letty and Co to dig and delve into the murkiness and the backstreets in this against the clock mystery.

I do adore these characters and the whole group works together really well. They bring their own special qualities and skills as they track down and solve mysteries. As I mentioned this one is a slightly darker feeling as there is more going on with the Count. He is a Dark One and has a bigger game plan in mind. He is a threat and not everyone can see it yet.

Once again the author has created a wonderfully dark and atmospheric mystery that has such a wonderful setting. This setting has been reimagined, adapted and the author brilliantly describes the sights, sounds and unfortunately the smells! There is adventure around every corner and page, with intriguing twists and I adored it.

This is aimed at 8-12-year-olds but is also a great series for any age even the grown-ups. It is a book and actually a series I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Misha Herwin

Misha Herwin is a writer of books for adults and children.
They vary from time-slip to contemporary women’s fiction, family saga and children’s fantasy adventures.
All her books are set in Bristol, whether real, imaginary or remembered from her childhood. 

Social Media Links – WebsiteTwitter

Here are the previous books in the series

Adventures of Letty Parker

From Book 1: Letty Parker lives by her wits. Estranged from her family, she sells pies on the streets of Bristol. But this is a Bristol full of dark secrets, peopled by gangs, monsters, dragons and gargoyles – and by creatures older than time. When her friend and stepsister disappear, when members of Jeb’s gang vanish, Letty is plunged headlong into a conspiracy where homeless children are being spirited away to a place where a terrible fate awaits them. These are the poor and the lost children of the streets whom no one seems to care about – except for Letty. But what if a rich child went missing? Would the authorities then act? Together, Letty and Jeb hatch a plan…

PURCHASE LINK – HERE

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker – Chan @panmacmillan @MantleBooks #NetGalley #historicalfantasy #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker – Chan. This is the first book in The Radiant Emperor series and ios set in China in1345. It is a reimagined story from history and I adored this a lot. My thanks to Pan Macmillan and Mantle Books for accepting my request to review this title via NetGalley.

She’ll change the world to survive her fate . . .

In Mongol-occupied imperial China, a peasant girl refuses her fate of an early death. Stealing her dead brother’s identity to survive, she rises from monk to soldier, then to rebel commander. Zhu’s pursuing the destiny her brother somehow failed to attain: greatness. But all the while, she feels Heaven is watching.

Can anyone fool Heaven indefinitely, escaping what’s written in the stars? Or can Zhu claim her own future, burn all the rules and rise as high as she can dream?

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan is a re-imagining of the rise to power of Zhu Yuanzhang. Zhu was the peasant rebel who expelled the Mongols, unified China under native rule, and became the founding Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. 

MY REVIEW

The synopsis for this book mentions how it is based on Zhu Yuanzhang, a peasant born in 1328 who led the rebels who brought the end of Mongolian rule in China. This story is a reimagining or alternative version of Zhu and the rise to power.

So how is this reimagining? A young peasant girl decides she wants to live, she doesn’t want to be nothing, she wants to be something. In fact, she wants greatness and for all to know her name. The only way this can happen is she takes on the identity of her dead brother Zhu.

Set in the 1300s this is a story that I absolutely loved. I really like the idea of a woman having the nerve to rise to power especially in a time when women have no power or status, are possession and should bear the next generation of sons. Having a character that has the temerity and the nerve to make her own way in this male-dominated world was great.

As this is a reimagining of a historical period, it means the book falls into a category of historical fantasy, and to a point yes it is fantasy but it is also fabulous reading for those who love historical fiction. AS soon as I started this book and read the first couple of sentences I knew I was going to enjoy reading it. Those opening lines were ideal for drawing me in.

As this is set in the 1300s there is a lot of turmoil in the Mongolian/ Chinese areas, under the Khanate, Mongolia wanted to extend its reach and the size of the kingdom. China was a country that has had a lot of turbulent times, Mongolian rule is just one of those times.

The author created a fabulous set of characters who all have their own desires, some more honest than others but very few I would call trustworthy. The middle ages are about power, land, resources, armies, feuds and dominance. Sides and allegiances can be swapped in a blink of an eye. Families are even worse.

I did like that the author decided to choose a female to be the main protagonist, especially when women hold such a low status in this era. I really enjoyed following the journey from peasant girl to a monk and then the story that followed.

I adored everything about this book, it was also incredibly difficult to put down once I had started it. As this is the first book in The Radiant Emporer, I will be looking forward to continuing the story of Zhu in the next book.

I liked this a huge amount and it is one I would definitely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my review, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx