Category: Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction

Book Review | “Almodis: The Peaceweaver” by Tracey Warr My first EPIC historical novel from Impress Books!

Posted Wednesday, 27 July, 2016 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I am a new reviewer for Impress Books (from the UK), as I found Impress Books at the conclusion of [2015] and have been blessed to start reviewing for them. I crossed paths with one of their publicists on Twitter and started a convo about the historical novels of Tracey Warr. This led me to ask if they would consider a book blogger stateside to review her stories and thankfully my enquiry was well-timed as Warr has a new series launching in 2016! I look forward to hosting their authors (either for review or guest features) and finding well-researched stories of convicting historical story-lines in the process.

I received a complimentary copy of “Almodis: The Peaceweaver” direct from the publisher Impress Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What initially drew my eye to read Almodis:

I love EPIC Historical dramas – especially the ones where your being treated to an unknown chapter of history you’ve yet to visit properly! The 11th Century is one of my under-read centuries of interest and when it comes to the locale for this novel (Languedoc) I’ve visited this setting previously in the war drama that crushed my soul: Citadel. I entreated inside the Early Middle Ages previously when I read Illuminations, wherein I was so distraught for Hildegard’s plight, I was thankful her story had a bit of restitution at it’s conclusion. By the time I re-visited this part of the Middle Ages in Camelot’s Queen, I had noted how guttingly difficult the Medieval Ages were overall.

I am drawn to fiercely strong female protagonists in historical fiction narratives – this has been true throughout my wanderings in literature for the past three years I’ve been blogging my bookish life. Inasmuch as it held true as a reader who sought out one wicked good read after another that would bring the gravity of historical perspectives through a living spirit of a character you felt you could emphatically respond too outright.

When I first read the synopsis for this novel, I was struck by several things all at once: the centreing of the timescape by Warr, the determined grit of her lead character Almodis and the conviction of proving to everyone that you can carve out your own destiny, even if others around you are not as easily convinced your living in an era where a woman can choose her own path to walk. The backdrop of war felt fitting for the era, as most of the early centuries were torn by war and by power re-alignments to such a madding level of frequency, it’s curious how anyone felt any measure of peace to simply ‘live their lives’ without a cloud of fear looming over them; especially to see if war would touch them directly.

Going into my readings, I was wicked happy to be reading a well-researched and well-thought out portion of the historical past, as evidenced by Warr’s approach to conceive this story but also, how she aligned her vision by the way her story is laid out inside the novel itself. I also had in the back of mind the notion that before I could address her newest novels (the Conquest series), I wanted to pull back time and retreat inside the debut novel that set the tone and score of everything that would come lateron.

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Book Review | “Almodis: The Peaceweaver” by Tracey Warr My first EPIC historical novel from Impress Books!Almodis
Subtitle: The Peaceweaver
by Tracey Warr
Source: Direct from Publisher

"Some say Almodis was a serpent, a scandal, a whore. They say wrong."

After generations of fighting amongst the ruling families of eleventh-century Occitania, the marriage of Almodis de la Marche to Hugh of Lusignan is intended to bring peace and harmony to the region. But at a time when a noblewoman's purpose is to produce heirs, Almodis resolves to create her own dynasty.

Almodis' path to power and happiness is fraught with drama. Having escaped her marriage blanc to God-fearing Hugh, she weds the lascivious Pons of Toulouse and takes over the administration of the great city. However, his distrust leaves him plotting to imprison her at a nunnery. Fearing for her life, Almodis flees in the dead of night - the young, gallant Count of Barcelona might be her one chance, if only he wasn't betrothed to another...

Intrigue, forbidden love and murder underpin this extraordinary story based upon the life of a real medieval countess, whose children went on to rule southern France and northern Spain.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781907605093

Also by this author: Conquest: Daughter of the Last King Cover Reveal, Conquest: Daughter of the Last King Cover Reveal

Genres: Biographical Fiction, French Literature, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance


Published by Impress Books

on 12th October, 2011

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 345

Published by: Impress Books (@ImpressBooks1)

Formats Available: Hardcover & Ebook

Warr’s second novel was The Viking Hostage (Book Synopsis) | Pub Date: 1st September, 2014

Warr’s upcoming NEW RELEASE is the 1st novel of the Conquest series:

Daughter of the Last King (Book Synopsis) | #PubDay is 1st September, 2016

Converse via: #HistFic or #HistRom

About Tracey Warr

Tracey Warr

Tracey Warr is a writer based in Wales and France, and has published novels and books on contemporary art. She was Senior Lecturer, teaching and researching on art history and theory of the 20th and 21st centuries, at Oxford Brookes University, Bauhaus University and Dartington College of Arts.

Her first novel, Almodis: The Peaceweaver (Impress, 2011), is set in 11th century France and Spain, and was shortlisted for the Impress Prize for New Fiction and the Rome Film Festival Book Initiative and received a Santander Research Award. Her second historical novel, The Viking Hostage (Impress, 2014), is set in 10th century France and Wales.

She received a Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary for work on her new trilogy, Conquest , set in 12th century Wales, England and Normandy. She received an Authors Foundation Award from the Society of Authors for work on a biography of three medieval sisters, entitled Three Female Lords. She is also working on a new historical novel featuring a 12th century female troubadour in Toulouse, and on a future fiction novel set in the debatable territory of a river estuary, between water and land, in the 22nd century.

Her writing on contemporary artists has been published by Phaidon, Merrell, Black Dog, Palgrave, Manchester University Press. Her latest art publication is Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture (Ashgate, 2015). She reviews for Times Higher Education, Historical Novels Review and New Welsh Review.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Wednesday, 27 July, 2016 by jorielov in 11th Century, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), British Literature, Brothers and Sisters, Bullies and the Bullied, Castles & Estates, Child out of Wedlock, Coming-Of Age, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Disillusionment in Marriage, Early Middle Ages [the Dark Ages] (1001-1300), Family Life, Father-Daughter Relationships, France, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Impress Books, Indie Author, Inheritance & Identity, Jorie found the Publisher on Twitter, Life Shift, Midwife | Midwifery, Midwives & Childbirth, Monastery, Monk, Passionate Researcher, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Religious Orders, Siblings, Sisterhood friendships, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Spain, Spontaneous Convos Inspired by Book, Twin Siblings, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Vulgarity in Literature, Warfare & Power Realignment, Women's Health, Women's Rights, Writing Style & Voice

Blog Book Tour | “The Judgment” by D.J. Niko #Biblical #HistoricalFiction

Posted Friday, 10 June, 2016 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

On how I acquired the book & my connection to the publicist:

I was selected to participate on The Judgment blog tour coordinated by Hook of a Book Media & Publicity, run by a fellow book blogger and friend of mine: Erin Al-Mehairi. I crossed paths with Erin via her book blog Oh for the Hook of a Book when I first started hosting blog tours for historical fiction writers via HFVBTs. Our friendship developed out of a shared passion for riveting historicals with compelling stories and incredibly dimensional characters who felt they could walk off the pages! Friendship aside, as I start to host for her authors my opinions are based solely on the story I am reading for review and are never influenced by my connection to Erin. I take each story I am reading as a new experience whether or not I know the author or publicist directly or have only met them for the first time by accepting a book to review.

I received my complimentary copy of The Judgment direct from the author D.J. Niko in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read ‘The Judgment’:

(initial reaction)

I’ve seen her novels on blog tours, but the timing was never good for me to participate or get involved whilst the tours were progressing. I liked the fact this historical takes place in Ancient History! I’ve been wanting to find authors who write during this section of history, as Biblical Historical Fiction fascinates me! I also love the Ancient Civilisations of Egypt and Rome, whilst learning more about History so far removed from our present world to soak inside something wonderfully different! This was one reason I was so keen to read Stephanie Thornton’s “Daughter of the Gods” which I thoroughly LOVED!

Expanding on my initial joyous celebration of being selected to read my first Niko novel, and thereby my second Biblical Historical novel, I wanted to recaptialise on things I had shared during a blog tour about Women of the Bible: Scripture Princesses by Rebecca J. Greenwood (see Review & the Q&A) wherein I talked about my appreciation for ‘meeting’ some of the remarkable women of the Biblical Historical past. When I first encountered the book blogosphere, I went instinctively to my favourite author’s blogs (i.e. Lauren Willig* & Julie Lessman) before finding The Word Wenches*, Heroes, Heroines & History, and routed myself through the INSPY Fiction blogs which took me to a lot of incredible authors & book bloggers sites alike! I was stumbling across writers for Biblical Historical Fiction along that route as well, except to say, this isn’t a new pursuit of mine!

Going back into my childhood, when I would visit book shoppes quite regularly, seeking a wicked good story that may or may not be designated for my age group (as once I fought to understand how to read, I grew easily bored remaining inside my age group of selections! thus, I read adult novels by thirteen; although I sampled a bit prior to that! there wasn’t such a designated genre to explore like there is today for ‘young adult’.) – thus, I started to fetch an eye of interest for the Biblical fiction authors even back then! At the time, I knew the issues and story-lines facing those characters were going to be difficult to read, so I side-stepped them for lighter INSPY novels – mostly Historical Romance or a story of the Amish, as Amish & Mennonite Fiction always delighted me, as I had a bakery IRL as a teenager run by a local Mennonite family.

My curiosity for this section of literature, was re-inspired by Stephanie Thorton’s novel (as foresaid) but also by the Early Reader introduction by Ms Greenwood! I simply haven’t had the proper chance to sort through what is readily available to read whilst dipping further back into the past, than perhaps, I routinely do! We all have our ‘favourite’ timescapes and settings; for me, I like to continue to challenge myself to even move further back into the past, root out new heroines and heroes of time I may never have heard of or only know by ‘name’ but not on a personal level of saying ‘this person lived this life & accomplished this’.

When I caught sight of the premise behind The Judgment, I felt this was as good of a place as any to continue my journey — reading a story set against the backdrop of Kings would be an easy transition for me, as I spend enough hours wrapped up in the Royal Courts of England (throughout their extensive historical past!) to know a bit about life at court inasmuch as the political potboilers & changing tides that goes along with that kind of a life.

Some (aspects) of the story I know loosely based on lessons I learnt ages ago in Sunday School but I never would say my classes dipped past the superficial acknowledgement of things; hence one of the wrinkles I oft found with Sunday School. We might have been told about King Solomon being a ruler, but the lessons fell flat just as my lessons in school always did as well – names, dates, event markers in time; but never the exploration of who a particular person was or how that person lived or even, what happened between their birth, major event and date of death?

There is so much between ‘dates’ and ‘events’ – this is one reason I have drawn a pleasurable passion in reading Historical Fiction; imagine what is awaiting me in Biblical Historical Fiction!? Not to mention, in this instance it’s partially ‘Biographical Historical Fiction’, too! To say I was excited would be putting it mildly!

*NOTE: As I read across genres, I also read across Mainstream & INSPY literary spectrums; these two were earmarked to say, they were not INSPY but Mainstream. As literature to me is forever all-encompassing. To find out which INSPY authors are marked on my most immediate ‘next reads’ list, please visit my 70 Authors Challenge!

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Notation on Cover Art: It is hard not to readily notice the cover art on behalf of ‘The Judgment’ due to how strong the woman on the cover is portrayed! You immediately think back towards King Solomon’s era of life – where boldness was paramount to power; where women had to endeavour to overcome great odds & find the will to reign even when their heart was not fully invested. It was a time of uncertainty and a time where bold colours are felt to have flourished; thus I felt the make-up choices and the darker lit design befitted the quick impression that flitted to mind after reading the  premise of the story! Once I greeted Basemath in the first Chapter, everything pulled together nicely! It truly is a striking book cover but to match the character is beyond brilliant! Unfortunately for me, I believe my first inclination to believe which character is featured on the cover was mistaken.

Blog Book Tour | “The Judgment” by D.J. Niko #Biblical #HistoricalFictionThe Judgment
by D.J. Niko
Source: Direct from Author via Hook of a Book Media & Publicity

965 BCE

Upon the death of his father, Solomon has been appointed king of the united monarchy of Israel and Judah and charged with building the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. He travels to Egypt to negotiate with Pharaoh Psusennes II for gold for the temple and to improve relations between the two nations. There he falls in love with the pharaoh’s beautiful daughter, Nicaule, and the two kings agree to an arranged marriage. Against her will, for she loves another, Nicaule follows her new husband to Israel.

Forty years later, Solomon’s empire is on the verge of collapse. Power has made him arrogant, permissive, and blind to the scheming of his wife and one of his lieutenants to topple the united monarchy. As the king’s faith falters and his people’s morals collapse, enemies gather at the gates of Israel. A visit from a mysterious queen restores Solomon’s perspective in time to save his soul—but it is too late to preserve his kingdom.

Someone who once was loyal to King Solomon has come back to claim the crown of Israel—and tear Solomon’s empire asunder.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Genres: Ancient Civilisation, Biblical Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction


Published by Medallion Press

on 10th May, 2016

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 317

Published By: Medallion Press (@medallionpress)

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #TheJudgment, #AncientHistory & #WomenInHistory

+ #BiblicalFiction or #HistFic

Read the Guest Post attached to the blog tour I appreciated the most | The Lit Bitch

About D.J. Niko

D.J. Niko

D.J. Niko is the pseudonym for Daphne Nikolopoulos, an award-winning journalist, author, editor, and lecturer who has spent her entire adult life traveling the world.

As a former travel writer and zealous adventurer, she has visited remote spots on six continents, many of which have inspired her archaeological thriller series, The Sarah Weston Chronicles. She was born and raised in Athens, Greece, and now resides in Florida with her family.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Friday, 10 June, 2016 by jorielov in 10th Century BC, 1st Millennium BC, A Father's Heart, Ancient Civilisation, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Israel, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Biblical Fiction, Biblical History, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Cover | Original Illustration & Design, Christianity, Content Note, Domestic Violence, Equality In Literature, Family Life, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Hook of a Book Media & Publicity, Important Figures of Ancient Times, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Iron Age, King Solomon, Mental Health, Military Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Vulgarity in Literature, Warfare & Power Realignment, Women of Power & Rule

Blog Book Tour | “Loving Eleanor” by Susan Wittig Albert

Posted Monday, 30 May, 2016 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary used copy of “Loving Eleanor” direct from the author Susan Wittig Albert in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read ‘Loving Eleanor’:

I admit I’ve been charmed by the previous releases on behalf of Ms Albert, especially a nod towards her China Bayles series as I am a tea drinker who loves reading Cosy Mysteries – however, even her Cottage Tales and the Historicals she’s written with her husband have fetched my eye! I even have the first of the China Bayles series – still awaiting me to peruse it’s chapters, as I originally began reading it during a readathon in August of 2013 when I first launched Jorie Loves A Story live to the world – who knew in a few months, I’d be celebrating my third blog birthday so soon after my third blogoversary this past March?

I was especially pleased to see the author moving into the curious branch of writing Biographical Historical Fiction – as this is a particular preference of mine as a reader! I have oft-times mentioned how I seek out these kinds of stories for the fusion of reality, history and a closely personal touch of insight on behalf of the person who lived whose come back to life against the pages! I love soaking into the shoes of living persons, feeling their emotional connection to their lives and watching how things played out for them.

For me, I find I have hours of enjoyment nestled inside a Biographical Historical Fiction novel – one nod of assurance in this regard is how many lovelies I’ve previously found and devoured, whilst finding Ms Albert is writing about the women I most want to know more about! I have appreciated Eleanor Roosevelt since I was a young girl – she was extraordinary due to how she broke tradition and how she lived a life on her terms. I never could quite put my finger on which biography to read first, until I saw this book come into my life! I thought for once, I finally have found the right author who can pen the truer story behind who Eleanor was in her private life!

Thus, it’s quite fitting, this shall be the first novel I’ve read in full by Susan Wittig Albert! I know I will be picking up her mysteries, if my thoughts on behalf of Tea & Crumples are any indication of how I love reading about ‘tea, life and conversations’ – yet, what strikes my fancy moreso than the mysteries themselves, is to find a copy of A Wilder Rose! I grew up on the Little House series, inasmuch as I adored the Little House novels – I think it would be quite champion to read her cleverly written biographical historicals ahead of her mainstay releases!

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Blog Book Tour | “Loving Eleanor” by Susan Wittig AlbertLoving Eleanor
Subtitle: The intimate friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok
by Susan Wittig Albert
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

When AP political reporter Lorena Hickok—Hick—is assigned to cover Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the wife of the 1932 Democratic presidential candidate, the two women become deeply, intimately involved. Their relationship begins with mutual romantic passion, matures through stormy periods of enforced separation and competing interests, and warms into an enduring, encompassing friendship that ends only with both women’s deaths in the 1960s—all of it documented by 3300 letters exchanged over thirty years.

Now, New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert recreates the fascinating story of Hick and Eleanor, set during the chaotic years of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War. Loving Eleanor is Hick’s personal story, revealing Eleanor as a complex, contradictory, and entirely human woman who is pulled in many directions by her obligations to her husband and family and her role as the nation’s First Lady, as well as by a compelling need to care and be cared for. For her part, Hick is revealed as an accomplished journalist, who, at the pinnacle of her career, gives it all up for the woman she loves. Then, as Eleanor is transformed into Eleanor Everywhere, First Lady of the World, Hick must create her own independent, productive life.

Drawing on extensive research in the letters that were sealed for a decade following Hick’s death, Albert creates a compelling narrative: a dramatic love story, vividly portraying two strikingly unconventional women, neither of whom is satisfied to live according to the script society has written for her. Loving Eleanor is a profoundly moving novel that illuminates a relationship we are seldom privileged to see and celebrates the depth and durability of women’s love.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780989203531

Also by this author: The Darling Dahlias series Novels 1-6-7

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Biography / Autobiography, Historical Fiction


Published by Persevero Press

on 1st February, 2016

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 306

Published By: Persevero Press
(author directed publishing platform)

Formats Available: Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #LovingEleanor

About Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert is the award-winning, NYT bestselling author of the forthcoming historical novel Loving Eleanor (2016), about the intimate friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok; and A Wilder Rose (2014), about Rose Wilder Lane and the writing of the Little House books.

Her award-winning fiction also includes mysteries in the China Bayles series, the Darling Dahlias, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries she has written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige.

She has written two memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place, published by the University of Texas Press.

Her nonfiction titles include What Wildness is This: Women Write About the Southwest (winner of the 2009 Willa Award for Creative Nonfiction); Writing from Life: Telling the Soul’s Story; and Work of Her Own: A Woman’s Guide to Success Off the Career Track.

She is founder and current president (2015-2017) of the Story Circle Network and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.

Site for A Wilder Rose
Site for China Bayles series | Site for Darling Dahlias series | Site for the Cottage Tales series
Mystery Novels with her husband
Story Circle

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Monday, 30 May, 2016 by jorielov in 20th Century, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Eleanor Roosevelt, Equality In Literature, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Lorena Hickok, Passionate Researcher, Self-Published Author, Time Slip, Writing Style & Voice