Category: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

WWW Wednesday No.3: A girl with an affinity for the classics!

Posted Wednesday, 19 February, 2014 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 5 Comments

WWW Wednesday badge by Jorie in Canva

I loved the premise of this meme {WWW Wednesdays} due to the dexterity that it gives the reader! :) Clearly subject to change on a weekly rotation, which may or may not lead to your ‘next’ read which would provide a bit of a paradoxical mystery to your readers!! :) Love the concept! Therefore, this weekly meme is hosted by Should Be Reading. Each week you participate, your keen to answer the following questions:

  • What are you currently reading!?
  • What did you recently finish reading!?
  • What do you think you’ll read next!?

After which, your meant to click over to Should Be Reading to share your post’s link so that the rest of the bloggers who are participating can check out your lovely answers! :) Perhaps even, find other bloggers who dig the same books as you do! I thought it would serve as a great self-check to know where I am and the progress I am hoping to have over the next week!

What are you currently reading!? {a two-week retrospective!}

I am continuing to read Crown of Vengeance by Stephen Zimmer, as it will mark my last post tied to the Sci-Fi Experience! I had wanted to read a few more books towards this reading challenge, but I lost too many hours during January to accomplish this task. I, am, however, continuing to read the books I outlined on my participation page for the Experience! I selected a few books for the Wicked Valentine’s Readathon which are as follows:

Selection One: Back to the Classics: The Ladies Paradise by Emilie Zola

Selection Two: Magical Realism (tCC) & Time Travel (SFN & SciFI Bingo): The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Selection Three: Book Itching to Read: Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan*

Selection Four: Book for Review: A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

{*} As previously disclosed, this boomeranged back to the local library; am awaiting its return!

Alongside the books I pulled for Wicked Valentine, I am also in position to start reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (as part of the #LitChat War & Peace Book Club), & Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (as part of the @RiverheadBooks RAL). Once I start to dig into these select classics, I am on my way towards revealing how I have such a hearty affinity for reading classical literature! Over the years I have dreamt of which classics to read first and which to follow in their wake. 2014 marks the year I am finally able to set aside time to start to explore the classical literary world with a curious eye towards the unknown adventures which lie ahead!

What did you recently finish reading!?

I have only finished a handful of novels within the past fortnight or thereabouts, all of which I posted reviews on my blog: The Brotherhood of the Dwarves, Dangerous DecisionsSebastian’s Way, and the Writers Workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy. The latter of course, was an anthology collection of essays and interviews compiled together to present an excellent primer on genre writing; even if your genre is outside the scope of the title! I found myself writing quite a heap about my recollections and the musings therein which were extracted from the readings!

I am in the process of reading several novels at the moment for each of my different reading challenges as well as having finished my first blog tour book review stop for Penguin Group (USA). As I am reading multiple books concurrently, I will be revealing where I am by page count rather than by chapter or section next Wednesday! I am hoping to be at the end of Chapter X or XI of Wuthering Heights by the 21st (Friday) as well as complete my reading of Crown of Vengeance to round out my focus week for Seventh Star Press! At the close of February, I am equally as hopeful to have read approx. 200 pages of War and Peace whereas my goals for the 23rd of February are too complete Somerset & most of Roses! The Ladies Paradise is on my reading table as well, as I am attempting to read in tandem at the moment! I felt best to initiate a bit of a page count goal per book in order to best ignite a pattern of reading classics in-between modern literature I explore either outside of blog tours or within them! I always have such a fanciful heart to explore literature in all of its beauty, that I felt this might help me focus on books I truly want to finish reading within the time I am allotting! Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s journal of WWW to see how well I did!

A Fall of Marigoldstook me backwards into my memories for the shirtwaist factory fire of 1911 as evidenced and exhumed into a breath of life by Meredith Tax’s Rivington Street; whilst bringing forward haunting memories of observing the horrors of September 11th by telecast. I felt honoured to be asked to be a book review stop on her blog tour, and as you can read in my review, the novel itself touched me on a very deep level. It was a blessing to find closure and peace after two events in history profoundly affected me.

What do you think you’ll read next!?

I received word that my ILL holds are in queue to arrive within a few week’s time in which I cannot wait to see what is waiting for me inside Leviathan Wakes, Jaran, and The Divining!

And, then there was the whole realisation whilst I read this tweet which led to the successive replies:

Launched myself into a bit of mini-quest to find other “foodie fiction” titles that I could plausibly devour at some point in my reading future! Laughs within a smile! Oh, the wondrous thrill of the ‘discovery’!!

  • The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister (started; need to finish!)
  • The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister (sequel to above; goes w/o saying!)
  • Chocolat by Joanne Harris (birthday gift; need to read!)
  • The Colour of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe (borrowed; returned unread)
  • Julie & Julia by Julie Powell (opted for the motion picture!)
  • Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl (always saw the films!)
  • How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O’ Neal (loved!)
  • The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (murmurs of curiosity!)
  • When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison
  • The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy
  • The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe by Mary Simses (borrowed, need to finish!)
  • The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santos
  • Eat. Pray. Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (opted for the motion picture!)
  • The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
  • Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
  • The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
  • The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
  • Coffeehouse mysteries by Cleo Coyle (need to read all of them!)
  • White House Chef mystery series by Julie Hyzy (need to keep up to date!)
  • The China Bayles mysteries by Laura Childs (revolves around a teahouse!)
  • Courtesy of Ms. Lisa via TLC Book Tours the following were also suggested:
  • The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry
  • Eating Heaven by Jennie Shortridge
  • The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher
  • Maman’s Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan
  • Hungry by Darlene Barnes
  • & the forementioned The Colour of Tea & The Lost Art of Mixing

The next books I am drinking in will be books for review and I am quite excited for them to grace my mind’s eye! For I get the absolute pleasure of re-entering the world of the #LelandDragons, as I re-read Redheart by Jackie Gamber before continuing forward into Sela and the bookend third of the trilogy: Reclamation! The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien is a hearty tome of an account of a side of the Bonaparte family I never had heard of beforehand! My pursuit of Bonaparte has re-strengthened since I read Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb! Whereas Citadel by Kate Mosse is an interest which was encouraged by my Mum when she gave me Labyrinth; in lieu of knowing where I put the book, I have borrowed the two previous books from my local library!

I had a bountiful bookish postal surprise day

in which I happily welcomed in the following books for review:

My Wish List banner


Violet Patterson Blog Tour via Tomorrow Comes Media


Inscription by H.H. Miller

via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours


A MidSummer Night’s Steampunk by Scott E. Tarbet    

and Moments in Millenia (anthology) edited by Penny Freeman

via Xchyler Publishing

Whereas I previously announced receiving Citadel & The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte!

I decided to join the 2014 Chunkster Challenge, as I had no idea how many novels I’d read over the score of the year which would qualify as being labeled ‘a tome of a book greater than 450 pages!’ Clearly, I have already begun to read stories in greater quantity of depth, but this is going to be a good record of seeing how many I gravitate towards over a regular year’s worth of reading!

Likewise, I have released posts in part of my participation of:

I will be stitching together my posts this next week for challenges hosted by Bookish Ardmour:

All of which I curate on my RALs & Challenges page, of which I update my progress as well as on my Part II of Reading Challenge Addict! I decided to pull back from several reading & bookish challenges this year, as although they appealed to me in the beginning when I was on the verge of signing into them, I decided in the long-term I would be better off honing in on the ones which were at this point in time the most keen of the lot to participate in! There will undoubtedly be more RALs, Thons, & Challenges forthcoming but these will be the main ones I am concentrating on except to say for the two Jane Austen novels I am reading to correlate with the Jane Austen Readings hosted by Reading is Fun Again!

Quite the exciting time for a bookish soul, eh!?
Have your literary wanderings been as expansive and lovely as mine!?
And, do you have a ‘foodie fiction’ recommendations for me!?

{SOURCE: The WWW Wednesday badge created by Jorie in Canva as a way to
promote the weekly meme for those who want to take part in it.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.


Posted Wednesday, 19 February, 2014 by jorielov in 18th Century, 19th Century, Anthology Collection of Stories, Back to the Classics, Blog Tour Host, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Bookish Discussions, Books for Review Arrived by Post, Chunkster Reading Challenge, Classical Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Foodie Fiction, France Book Tours, Get Steampunk'd, Go Indie, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Indie Book Trade, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Library Find, Love for Books Readathon, RALs | Thons via Blogs, Reading Challenge Addict, Reading Challenges, Rewind Challenge, Science Fiction, Seriously Series Reading Challenge, SFN Bingo, TBR Pile Challenge, tCC The Classics Club, The Dystopia Challenge, Tomorrow Comes Media, Wicked Valentine's Readathon, William Shakespeare Challenge, Wuthering Heights, WWW Wednesdays, Xchyler Publishing

*Blog Book Tour*: Sebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder by George Steger

Posted Wednesday, 5 February, 2014 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Parajunkee DesignsSebastian's Way by George StegerSebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder by George Steger

[Book One of The Sebastian Chronicles series]

[Book Two: Sebastian’s Will: The Torchbearer] releasing 2014

[Book Three: Sebastian’s World: The Gift Giver] releasing 2015

[PREQUEL: The Horse Master] releasing 2016

Read a full description of the Sebastian Chronicles series.

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Author Connections: Facebook | Site | Blog

Converse on Twitter: #SebastiansWayTour & #Charlemagne

Published by: iUniverse, 3 October 2013 | Page Count: 370
Available Format: Softcover | E-book

Read an Excerpt of Sebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder from the authors site

Read an Excerpt of Sebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder from the authors blog

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Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a stop on “Sebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder” Virtual Book Tour, hosted by HFVBT, in which I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author George Steger in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Curiosity Inspired Reading:

Whilst watching an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? involving Cindy Crawford’s ancestry (Series 4, E6), I learnt far more about Charlemagne than I ever dared hope possible! And, the fact that Ms. Crawford is directly related to him was an unexpected joy in seeing revealed! Whomever made the ancestral chart for her which unfolded like an ancient scroll is a master of their craft and field! I would love to have one for my own heritage as a keepsake! Whilst she was first being given this ‘key’ (a rather unexpected key!) to her past, it was revealed that Charlemagne was not the man everyone presumed he was based on what they knew of his military career and tactics. That there was more to Charlemagne than the world realised and that she should feel honoured to have him in her line!

This episode reaffirmed how little I know about certain pockets of historical remnants of life-changing proportion. There are certain epochs of history where rulers and conquerors alike have quite literally changed our world view as much as the map in which the world alights! Charlemagne never felt tangible to become acquainted with given his arc of life to research. When I first learnt of the blog tour surrounding this particular book, I felt as though I was being given my own ‘key’ and ‘gift’ opening the door to history and to the man of whom very few understood on a personal level. My curiosity you see, led me to the story of Sebastian (a name I always have appreciated!) as a gateway into the world of Charlemagne!

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Book Synopsis:

In a dark age of unending war and violence, one young warrior opposes a mighty king to forge a new path to peace…

During the savage Frankish-Saxon wars, the moving force of his age, Karl der Grosse, King Charlemagne, fights and rules like the pagan enemies he seeks to conquer. But in the long shadow of war and genocide, a spark of enlightenment grows, and the king turns to learned men to help him lead his empire to prosperity.

One of these men is the unlikely young warrior Sebastian. Raised in an isolated fortress on the wild Saxon border, Sebastian balances his time in the training yard with hours teaching himself to read, seeking answers to the great mysteries of life during an age when such pastimes were scorned by fighting men. Sebastian’s unique combination of skills endears him to Charlemagne and to the ladies of the king’s court, though the only woman to hold his heart is forbidden to him. As the king determines to surround himself with men who can both fight and think beyond the fighting, Sebastian becomes one of the privileged few to hold the king’s ear.

But the favor of the king does not come without a cost. As Charlemagne’s vassals grapple for power, there are some who will do anything to see Sebastian fall from grace, including his ruthless cousin Konrad, whose hatred and jealousy threaten to destroy everything Sebastian holds dear. And as Sebastian increasingly finds himself at odds with the king’s brutal methods of domination and vengeance, his ingrained sense of honor and integrity lead him to the edge of treason, perilously pitting himself against the most powerful man of his age.

This fast-paced adventure story brings Charlemagne’s realm to life as the vicious Christian-pagan wars of the eighth century decide the fate of Europe. Filled with action, intrigue, and romance, Sebastian’s Way is a riveting and colorful recreation of the world of Europe’s greatest medieval monarch.

Author Biography:

George Steger

A native of Louisiana, the author followed a long tradition of young men from the Deep South by seeking to improve his prospects in the military. From a green second lieutenant in the famed 101st Airborne Division to battalion command in Vietnam, Colonel Steger spent most of the rest of his military career in four European tours as an intelligence officer and Russian foreign area specialist, working on both sides of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. He traded sword for plowshare in a second career in academia and is now Professor Emeritus of history and international affairs at the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas. The motivation to write Sebastian’s Way came from his experiences in both war and peace, from fourteen years in Germany and Eastern Europe, and from his love of teaching medieval and other European history courses.

Steger is an avid hiker and trail biker, and much of the story of Sebastian came out of time spent in the woods and fields of eastern Kansas. In memory of Mary Jo, his wife of many years, he and filmmaker son Ben spent a recent summer trekking across Spain on The Camino de Santiago, one of Europe’s oldest pilgrimage trails. He lives and writes in rural Kansas and has four other grown and gifted children.

For more information please visit George Steger’s website . You can also find him on Facebook.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comDelving into 8th Centurion history:

I must confess, the very first page of this novel, begins by giving my impetus for reading the book: how would a ruler as heralded and ruthless as Charlemagne be turnt into a formidable man whose strength was not merely wielded from the bloodshed of his battles? To evolve through a change of mindset and heart by the influences of those closely tied to him in confidence is a story I felt had the merits of etching into the deepest forays of my mind! 

Steger launches you into the very heart of the story, but eclipsing pleasantries and edging you right into the everyday ‘now’ of Sebastian’s life! If I weren’t sweltering in an early onset of Summer’s wrath, I’d be keen to have a Spring bolt electrifying thunderstorm outside my window to entertain the atmosphere I am drinking in by text! Although, I am always concerned whilst engaging into a tome of military history, I was pleasantly surprised that the tactical deviations are tempered by a sociological transcription of the age. I appreciated getting into the internal mind of the characters, both major and minor combined, as it allowed me to step through an invisible time portal. Given the distance is greater than 1,200 years between then and now, it’s the descriptive nature of Steger’s writing which gave the visceral experience more depth in meaning!

He even goes as far as to include proper entitlements for each chapter section, as well as giving a reader like me a fathering of a chance of catching on to the dilemma of Charlemagne’s relationship with Sebastian via a proper Prologue! I have always been a bit of a bookish geek in this one regard, where I simply adore inclusions such as these as they lay way to a sturdier foundation than most. Historicals which dip into the realm of biographical fiction, need to stand tall on the merits of the writer’s ability to divert one’s mind off where one sits as the book is read in order for the fuller effect to take. Steger has blissfully launched himself on a platform of quality story-telling interspersed with bang-on brilliant dialogue and narrative!

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Sebastian's Way: The Pathfinder by George StegerMy Review of Sebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder

Whilst reading of the conditions of the siege and aftermath at Adalgray, it was in Steger’s description of Sebastian’s mother (Ermengard) which reflected back an image of a recent excursion on a nature trail whereupon I rather unexpectedly ‘found’ my errant flying red-shouldered hawk! The hawk had re-emerged on the opposite side of the cypress trees (as I had been walking in tandem at the water’s edge as the hawk had squawked from the upper boughs) settled rather stealthily on a branch with a crisp view of the world at large. I, however, was startled by the hawk’s piercing eyes and encompassing logic of place. Ermengard’s keen telling of her emotional state and of the situation at hand, reminded me of the hawk. Acutely aware and bold in tenacity to take-on what needs to be done!

I commend Steger’s cleverly bold descriptions of emotional angst which are a happy diversion from the general inclusion of more elicit language! I am thankful to see a writer champion the merits of a story, told through strong declarations of speech without having to wallow at a level that is not readily befit literature. His words ache and arch back to a time where thought was put before impulse, and where conversation was both hearty and logical. Likewise, there are only a flittering amount of grisly details which had I blinked would have missed completely! I was quite comfortable in his guiding hand as I dared myself the will to read each chapter with post-haste excitement to see what further revelations I could indulge in! A few page turns further, and I was bemused with the enlarging back-story of Charlemagne’s main nemesises!

To see Sebastian first as a grown man reformed in the knowledge of warfare attempt to sway a King’s mind towards diplomacy, I was thankful to be given the chance to see the passageways which led to his transformed heart. I am always keen on sociological understandings of a person’s psyche insofar as what attributes of their beliefs and ideals lead them to make the choices they endear throughout their lives. To understand how they absorb the tragedies around them and the horrors of living in an age in a consistent state of war is the better way of drawing out empathy and compassion for history.  To understand rather than to presume and to be mindful of the time in which the men lived to counterbalance the knowledge of today. This is how Steger presents his hero to his audience, by engaging us in the lifepath of his character.

Heimdal proved to be Sebastian’s guiding light by speaking the truth in which Sebastian was at first blind to see. I had to speculate whilst I first was introduced to Heimdal, if its his direct influence which led Sebastian to be bold to think he could change Charlemagne’s heart as well. To open Charlemagne’s eyes to the truth of war and the truth of how man ought to endeavour to live. His counsel with Heimdal and a pivotal experience during the siege overtook Sebastian’s spirit and his resolve to seek a different solution that would run counter against convention. His humanity and his insight were blessings, but I would suspect at the time in whence he lived they would be viewed as weaknesses. Attalus on the other hand was the retired warrior who agreed for Sebastian to apprentice under him, to garnish his own bones of wisdom. Remnants of his advice were like orbs shining back on the opening Prologue. Attalus is a man who dimensionally has a keen place in Sebastian’s life as with Heimdal, those who teach us the most are generally the ones of whom cross our paths serendipitously!

Yet Heimdal and Attalus was only one of the men who encouraged Sebastian to see past what every warrior took as a mark of measure for a warrior’s life. He internally strove to circumvent the order of the day with the balance of a man of faithful mindfulness. Instead of accepting the reality his eyes would observe, he bolted himself to the idea that perhaps not every path towards succession of power was meant to be laced in blood. The barbaric camaraderie of the age was taxing on Sebastian, as he took no pleasure in the joy of a hunt or kill when it came to battling foe and enemy. He’d rather seek out a point of leverage or alternative course of action where lives could be spared but power could be restored. In many ways, my heart was with Sebastian as he struggled to find his footing both as a young lad and as a young man, who had strong shoes to fulfill from his father and uncle.

The Pathfinder is an apt sub-title acknowledging that Sebastian was meant for a greater purpose than merely taking up spear, lance, and arrow as a warrior. Seeking a path towards redemption for the loss of the soul’s of men he was directly or indirectly responsible for having shed, this installment garnishes a full respect of the years in which Sebastian was schooled and apprenticed. The proving grounds for how he would come to think and process the quick-step action of the battlefield and the ruminative thoughts which pulsed through him when he was taking an accord of a difference against King and country. Despite his stature, his greatest strength was forged in the pure belief that if a man worked hard and endeavoured to understand what he was first ignorant of; true progress could be reconciled.

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In gratitude of Mr. Steger’s writing style:

I dare thought it might not be plausible to settle into a thick slice of historical suspense such as a story of Charlemagne, until I was given the chance to read Sebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder! A book which lives up to the virtues of historical fiction by etching into our mind’s eye the very inclinations and notions of the age in which Steger’s central figure lived and breathed. It was an age of boldness and an age of religious upheaval. The battle to control the power of the land and the power of the people was not forged through mediation. It was a time which bespoke more of war wounds and proven allegiances based on leadership in the field. To approach the narrative with a slight hesitation of what the context would reveal to me, gave me a bit of an edge once I was ensconced! My nerves melted with each word and paragraph I hungrily drank in to see where the author was taking me next. His ability to light the story from within the heart of the narrative itself is a gift.

One character who gave me a bit of a lasting impression, save Sebastian, was Attalus, and it wasn’t too far afield into the story where I surmised the author had a similar inkling! Attalus was a character who took me by complete surprise, and I am thankful I had the chance to meet him! And, the continuation of his story is one I long to consume!

I pray I shall have the chance to watch the evolution of the Sebastian’s story as the next volumes in this chronicle start to release! For each installment brings us closer to the fullness of Sebastian’s intuitive nudges of enlightened grace.

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Virtual Road Map for

“Sebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder” Blog Tour:

Sebastian's Way by George StegerFun Stuff for Your Blog via

Be sure to scope out
Bookish Upcoming Events
to mark your calendars!!
As well as to see which events
I will be hosting with:
Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBTMy second half of this showcase will be
my Author Interview with George Steger!

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Reader Interactive Question:

I am quite curious, dear hearts, if you have read stories about Charlemagne prior to discovering this one, what drew your eye for Sebastian’s Way!? What is it about Charlemagne do you feel allows his popularity and his legacy to continue to be spotlighted in modern society? What role do you feel he plays in our conjoined history? Do you recommend other fiction or non-fiction accountments of his life? Which century or era do you readily drink in? What captures you the most?

{SOURCES: George Steger photograph & biography, Book Synopsis, and Book Cover were provided by HFVBT and were used by permission. Book Review badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.


Posted Wednesday, 5 February, 2014 by jorielov in 8th Century, Anglo-Saxon History, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Charlemagne, Debut Novel, Feudal Europe, Frankish Warriors & Warfare, Geographically Specific, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Military Fiction, Sebastian

+Blog Book Tour+ Isabella: Braveheart of France by Colin Falconer

Posted Tuesday, 21 January, 2014 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Parajunkee Designs
Isabella: Braveheart of France Blog Book Tour via HFVBT

Isabella: Braveheart of France by Colin Falconer

Author Connections: Facebook | Blog

Converse on Twitter: #IsabellaTour
OR Tweet @Colin_Falconer

Published by: Cool Gus Publishing, 3 September 2013 | Page Count: 218
Available Format: Paperback | E-book 

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Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a stop on “Isabella: Braveheart of France” Virtual Book Tour, hosted by HFVBT, in which I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher Cool Gus Publishing in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Book Synopsis:

She was taught to obey. Now she has learned to rebel.Isabella Braveheart of France by Colin Falconer

Isabella is just twelve years old when she marries Edward II of England. For the young princess it is love at first sight – but Edward has a terrible secret that threatens to tear their marriage – and England apart.

Who is Piers Gaveston – and why is his presence in the king’s court about to plunge England into civil war?

The young queen believes in the love songs of the troubadours and her own exalted destiny – but she finds reality very different. As she grows to a woman in the deadly maelstrom of Edward’s court, she must decide between her husband, her children, even her life – and one breath-taking gamble that will change the course of history.

Does she submit to a lifetime of solitude and a spiritual death – or seize her destiny and take the throne of England for herself?

This is the story of Isabella, the only woman ever to invade England – and win.

Author Biography:

Colin FalconerBorn in London, Colin first trialed as a professional football player in England, and was eventually brought to Australia. He went to Sydney and worked in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has published over twenty novels and his work has so far been translated into 23 languages.

He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz.

His most recent novels are Silk Road, set in the 13th century, and Stigmata, set against the backdrop of the Albigensian Crusade in Southern France in 1209. He currently lives in Barcelona.

For more information please visit Colin Falconer’s blog . You can also find him on Facebook or follow on Twitter.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comLife in Medieval England & France:

I had a sneaking feeling Isabella’s marriage to Edward II was not only arranged but love would have sprung on her side of the ledger far sooner than having alighted in his own heart. A mere girl of twelve to wed a King! I sometimes cannot comprehend the strength the women had at such young ages as they were arranged to marry to secure land, peace, and the reign of their parents; if not for themselves to secure the sanctity of their lines. The weight placed on young Isabella’s shoulders is quite great, but I think what I appreciated about her as her story first starts to unfold is how well she wants her marriage to Edward to succeed! She cares more about winning his heart and being in love with a husband she always knew would be picked for her, rather than worried about anything else a typical pre-teen might even start to consider!

Her wedded husband treated her with such warmth and care of spirit, that I nearly felt as though the foreboding I felt whilst I picked up the book might disappear completely! Except to say, this is the Middle Ages and whether I like it or not, you always have a proper sense that the King is going to be devious and elusive towards the truth he may not want to be fully brought into light!

My Review of Isabella: Braveheart of France:

Despite the youth of her age at the time in whence Isabella married the King of England (Edward II), her eyes were fully open and aware of her surroundings. To be inquisitive and intuitive of her husband’s favour for another, which in this particular day and age would be devastatingly controversial, she chooses to take the upper road. In some ways, I am noticing that due to her ability to see the fuller picture as a child, she is able to endeavour to see the fuller picture as an adult. To the brink that perhaps its this first knowledge of how everything became interconnected that led her first to believe in her ability to invade a country few dared feared possible for a woman to attempt!

Isabella at twelve and thirteen had far more on the ball than her wedded King; as the narrative focuses rather heavily on his affairs in passion, rather than giving her full reign to advise him on counsel of politics and noble errants. I found some of the passages a bit droll in that she is always catching him feeding his vanity and his selfish wanton desires rather than focusing on his court, his statesman, and his command of England as a country. Isabella on the other hand, I think could have led England far better in her tender years than Edward could have in his!

I was betwixt finding the pace of the novel a bit tricky to sink into verse the slowness of carrying forward Isabella’s determination to invade! I think perhaps this section of history is going to be a bit difficult for me to absorb into due to the nature of the characters who are found inside. Its more of a story for those who do not mind the grit over the light, and appreciate the bold bluntness of passages which fuse the reader into the time of the age itself. I suppose I could contend that part of me likes history to be a bit more romanticized rather than shocking, but in this one regard, I felt as though I kept being pulled in and out of the context of the story.

Isabella, herself, is the keen interest of mine in Isabella Braveheart of France, because of how she was groomed from birth to take over as Queen, I believe she is inherently the character who will stand out in all eyes who cast upon this novel! I only regret I could have enjoyed watching her journey progress a bit more as I felt a bit muddled in the execution.

Fly in the Ointment:

There are instances of vulgarity included in the novel, but they are minute and limited to the exclamations of characters who are besotted with vile words bubbling inside them due to the circumstances surrounding them. I would be further surprised if the language of their feelings were not heated and blunt in one way or another. I might choose to use different words, but the strength of their vexations cannot be denied. No, honestly, what puzzled me a bit is how the exchanges between the scenes and chapters were settled in the novel. Sometimes I felt the chapters could have been extended to include ‘several’ individual chapters as the sweeping of the arc inside them were carried over from the one ahead of them. I am not sure why the chapter breaks were arranged in this manner, but I cannot deny the setting and placement of the story was well-researched as it were.

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Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBT{SOURCES: Author photograph, Book Synopsis, Author Biography, and Book Cover for “Isabella: Braveheart of France” were provided by HFVBT and were used by permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Go Indie

Posted Tuesday, 21 January, 2014 by jorielov in 14th Century, Arranged Marriages in Royalty, Blog Tour Host, Edward II, Fly in the Ointment, France, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Late Middle Ages (1300-1500)

*Blog Book Tour*: The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Posted Monday, 13 January, 2014 by jorielov , , 6 Comments

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The Gods of Heavenly Punishment Tour via HFVBT

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein

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Published by:
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
, 11 March 2013 [hardback] | Page Count: 384
13th January 2014 [paperback]
| Page Count: 400

Available Format: Hardback | Paperback | E-book 

Acquired Book By:

I participated in the blog book tour for the hardback edition of “The Gods of Heavenly Punishment” by visiting the various stops on the original HFVBT route! Whilst making my rounds, I entered to win a copy of the novel! Whereupon I received such wonderfully brilliant news that I had indeed won a copy via Unabridged Chick’s blog in October of 2013! I received the book direct from the publisher without obligation to post a review.

Afterwards, whilst seeing there was a new tour for the paperback release of the same title, I requested to be placed on the tour! I decided that it was one book I hadn’t wanted to wait to read and being on a tour would be quite lovely! I was selected to be a stop on “The Gods of Heavenly Punishment” Virtual Book Tour, hosted by HFVBT, in which I am reading the hardback edition rather than the paperback. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I originally came to know of this novel through reading one of my bi-weekly newsletters of “Shelf-Awareness for Readers”, whereupon I had entered to win a copy of this book in March of 2013 sending my entry directly to the author Ms. Epstein as requested. I did not receive a reply as the contest win went to someone else. However, I shared my thoughts, observations, and feelings about Japan inside my entry which went to the heart of why I was inspired to read the story contained within. These were those thoughts:

I have known about the effects of the World War on Hiroshima and Okinawa, exclusively through girls that I befriended who lived there, even if over the years, our friendships have all but faded. The girl in Hiroshima grew into a woman who had to marry, and I noticed that in marriage she wasn’t able to write as much, so we lost contact. I will never forget her kindness and her acceptance of what had happened, as she didn’t have conflict but rather a lot of peace! She was the one who originally told me about the Peace Crane project and of the statue. Through my friend in Okinawa I saw a different side of the war, one where the Japanese were welcoming to our soldiers and men, and how thankful they were for their presence.

I realise not everything that happened has a happy ending, as my friends are the same age as me, thus, we’re a few generations removed from the original events, and perhaps, as time is a healer of hearts and minds,… maybe its due to time that their memories are different than those who lived through everything first hand. I was reading my Friday edition of Shelf Awareness, and once more I felt a stirring inside me to know this particular story,… Japan has been on my mind + heart for years,… even in childhood as my grandparents loved Japanese art and culture, as much as I was drawn to everything else that encompasses the country. I have always found the Japanese to be hearty, fiercely strong, and devoted to faith, family, and survival. They have a genuine happy spirit about themselves, and they appreciate all of life, but most especially the joys and the unexpected bliss that unravel as we live.

Having said that, I never heard of the plight of Tokyo, in the war! I only know of what Tokyo is facing today, and how much it grieved me {and the rest of the world} that this nuclear meltdown was causing such added strife and sorrow…. I even feared for my friends’ I have long since lost, as I knew they were in and around the general prefects of Tokyo.

I would be honoured to read this story and open my eyes to more of the real picture of what residents of Tokyo and the rest of Japan have not only lived through but have had to overcome. There are always two sides to every story, and as time folds back on itself and shifts forward, I do find that not every element of historical truth is known until a writer has the courage to pen the story that needs to be heard. Thank you for being one of the brave ones and thank you for giving us a story to change our perspective and deepen our empathy.

{note} The contest ran in a Tuesday edition, but I waited until Friday’s edition to respond.

Whilst I was entering to win the book on Unabridged Chick’s blog I had this to say after having read Audra’s review:

I murmur your thoughts on this section of literature,… I am drawn into war stories myself, especially those stories that etch into the heart of the two couples struggling to keep their connection & make sense of everything that is happening around them. I don’t believe everyone who reads this part of literature is necessarily advocating for war, rather instead, they are appreciative of the stories that speak to the human heart and the bond that threads through us all!

I liked how you expressed the book unique style of settling the story into your mind and leaving it there a bit wantonly afterwards! You gave me the impression that the characters I’d find inside will stir my heart and leave me museful after I encounter them! Always an inclination I am in search of!

Synopsis of the Story:

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody EpsteinOne summer night in prewar Japan, eleven-year-old Billy Reynolds takes snapshots at his parent’s dinner party. That same evening his father Anton–a prominent American architect–begins a torrid affair with the wife of his master carpenter. A world away in New York, Cameron Richards rides a Ferris Wheel with his sweetheart and dreams about flying a plane. Though seemingly disparate moments, they will all draw together to shape the fate of a young girl caught in the midst of one of WWII’s most horrific events–the 1945 firebombing of Tokyo.

Exquisitely-rendered, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment tells the stories of families on both sides of the Pacific: their loves and infidelities, their dreams and losses–and their shared connection to one of the most devastating acts of war in human history.

Author’s Biography:

Jennifer EpsteinJennifer Cody Epstein is the author of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment and the international bestseller The Painter from Shanghai. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Asian Wall Street Journal, Self, Mademoiselle and NBC, and has worked in Hong Kong, Japan and Bangkok, Thailand. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two daughters and especially needy Springer Spaniel.

For more information, please visit Jennifer Cody Epstein’s website and blog.  You can also find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

A measure of innocence, ahead of stark cold reality:

Epstein opens her novel through the lens of projecting the innocence of youth, as evidenced by the opening sequences of introducing the reader to Cam and Lacy. Two university co-eds enjoying a date at a carnival in 1935, far ahead of the pending World War, of which I had suspected had a precursory quality about its delivery. To give a measure of innocence ahead of the stark cold reality which would settle in once the events of the attack on Tokyo were fully realised and turnt inward in the story. She juxtapositions straight into Japan, where we meet Billy the budding photographer whose confidence could use a nudging. Yoshi is the tender-hearted six-year-old whose Mum Hana is at a cross-roads of examining her life’s choices and the wayward path her life has taken her. Reflections on choices she erred in believing were true only to be turnt to falsehood by the man she laid her mistrust. Yoshi is a precocious child whose mastery of three languages rises her above her young years with a maturity she has not yet discovered inside her.

Hana is married to Kenji, a man she hadn’t quite chosen to wed and one who wasn’t quite her equal match. She questions the merit of their marriage as much as the depth of his understanding of her. She was carted off to different countries so frequently in her growing years, she is a woman of the world rather than the traditional Japanese wife he was expecting her to become. She held herself with a different countenance than others in her generation, and strove to keep her individual identity intact. Her state of premonitions in regards to overwhelming grief and tragedy keep an edge inside her which hasn’t a release of calm to give.

My Review of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment:

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment begins slowly as though your about to enter a dance where the music is set low in order to intone and inflect the seriousness of the movements thus forthcoming. Epstein has mastered the gift of easing her audience into the heart of her tale by misleading their confidence in seeing how each of the lives in the story are surrounded in their own waves of normalcy ahead of the terror. You gently enter their lives as though you were the unspoken observer, cleverly intuitive and receptive to their most intimate of affairs. You glide alongside their shadows, taking in the truths they would rather etch away and instill in your own mind what their realities are preparing for them to yield. She is presenting a study of soliloquy of cultural traditions against the backdrop of sociological warfare.

By 1942, Cam is fully grown and awaiting orders for a mission he would take whilst hinted at those years ago at the carnival whilst his eyes were skyward watching the planes in the sky. His letter to Lacy diverge the ominous events still yet to come. The mingling joy of their days prior to his dispatchment were long since dissolved, whilst his fear of the unknown worked to overtake his last nerve. Epstein doesn’t shy or yield away from what Cam would be hearing and seeing as he was starting to live through the horror of what was on the edges of his sight. A fighter pilot would always be pitted against the odds which would extinguish a life without a passing thought as dogfights rendered logic elsewhere.

I am not sure how I came to feel the story inside would be a far different one than the one I encountered, but suffice it to say, my forethought of reason to read the novel was intermixed with the pages giving my eyes and mind far more to ponder than I could have felt possible. The raw realities of this slice of the World War was a bit more than I was willing or able to handle, which is why I had to force myself to read ahead. This is one instance where I honestly couldn’t carry forward with the story, as it was wrenching me on the insides to the brink that I was not able to feel anything but discomfort and misery. I always approach each novel I open with an open-mind and heart, but this one touched on more than I could overcome.  I honestly could not finish this one nor can I give it a full review of what the author intended to leave behind for readers to experience.

Fly in the Ointment:

Switching point of views was a bit awkward, as your feeling as though your re-reading the same passage without the foreshadow of why it would be repeated at all. The limited windows of revelation of how the other characters were taking in the scene on the porch when Yoshi came running the hill were off-set against the inability to sort through why full dialogue and action were truth and bone intact. The initial start of the novel gave the impression of the novel heading in one particular direction with a tone altogether different than the one that veers off around page 45. I had a strugglement in following the author’s guiding hand as pieces of the narrative felt a bit choppy to me rather than maintaining their flucidity.

Virtual Road Map for
“The Gods of Heavenly Punishment” Blog Tour:

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment Tour via HFVBT

Be sure to scope out my
Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva
to mark your calendars!!
As well as to see which events I will be hosting with:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBT{SOURCES: Author photograph, Book Synopsis, Author Biography, Book Cover “The Gods of Heavenly Punishment”,  tour badge & HFVBT badge were provided by HFVBT and were used by permission. Book Review badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

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Celebrating the Paperback Release of Jennifer Cody Epstein’s The Gods of Heavenly Punishment – (

Jennifer Cody Epstein Shows Literary Excellence in Historical Fiction Novel Centered in WWII called The Gods of Heavenly Punishment – (

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Go Indie

Posted Monday, 13 January, 2014 by jorielov in 20th Century, Aftermath of World War II, Blog Tour Host, Cultural Heritage, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Japan, Japanese History, Premonition-Precognitive Visions, Shelf Awareness, the Forties, The World Wars