Category: Monastery

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

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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

+Book Review+ The Road Back by Liz Harris #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 5 July, 2014 by jorielov , , , 5 Comments

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The Road Back by Liz HarrisThe Road Back by Liz Harris

Author Connections: Personal Site | Blog

Facebook | Twitter | Converse via: #ChocLit

Illustrated By: Berni Stevens

 @circleoflebanon | Writer | Illustrator

Genre(s): Fiction | Romance | Time Shift

Forbidden Love | Drama | Historical

Published by: ChocLitUK, 6 September, 2012

Available Formats: Paperback, E-Book & Audiobook

Page Count: 314

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Acquired Book By:

I am a ChocLit reviewer who receives books of my choice in exchange for honest reviews! I received a complimentary copy of “The Road Back” from ChocLit via IPM (International Publisher’s Marketing) in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. 

On my Connection to Ms. Harris & my inspiration to read this novel:

When I began reading this novel, I was already hosting #ChocLitSaturdays chats on a regular basis. Eleven in the morning of a Saturday, has become a favourite hour for me to exchange conversation and joy with everyone who shows up to participate in a chat centered around ChocLit novels and the Romance branch of literature in general. Ms. Harris and I had exchanged a few conversations ahead of the chats beginning, and during one of those lovely moments she had mentioned to me about how she met Mr. Dexter (the writer behind Inspector Morse). I had an inkling I would appreciate reading this novel ahead of her mentioning that story to me, but afterwards, I knew I wanted to read this sooner rather than later! The fact that this story centers around an adoption story solidified my interest, as I will be adopting in the future myself.

Similar to my previous thoughts I shared about Ms. Courtenay, I have come to appreciate chatting with Ms. Harris, either through #ChocLitSaturdays chats or privately. She is most giving of her time and I have appreciated the opportunity to know the writer behind the stories I enjoy reading! She always shares her happy spirit in the chats too, and her insights into why she enjoys writing the books that speak to her the most.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Harris through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse whilst I host #ChocLitSaturdays the chat as well as privately; I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time.

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Book Synopsis: 

When Patricia accompanies her father, Major George Carstairs, on a trip to Ladakh, north of the Himalayas, in the early 1960s, she sees it as a chance to finally win his love. What she could never have foreseen is meeting Kalden – a local man destined by circumstances beyond his control to be a monk, but fated to be the love of her life.

Despite her father’s fury, the lovers are determined to be together, but can their forbidden love survive?

A wonderful story about a passion that crosses cultures, a love that endures for a lifetime, and the hope that can only come from revisiting the past.

Author Biography:Liz Harris

Liz was born in London and now lives in South Oxfordshire with her husband. After graduating from university with a Law degree, she moved to California where she led a varied life, trying her hand at everything from cocktail waitressing on Sunset Strip to working as secretary to the CEO of a large Japanese trading company, not to mention a stint as ‘resident starlet’ at MGM. On returning to England, Liz completed a degree in English and taught for a number of years before developing her writing career.

Liz’s debut novel, The Road Back, won a 2012 Book of the Year Award from Coffee Time Romance in the USA and her second novel A Bargain Struck was highly praised by the Daily Mail in the UK.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comGeographically Specific: Ladakh (north of the Himalaya Mountains):

Ms. Harris has a way of capturing the scenery and the depth of locale in such a beautiful scale of visual fortitude! As I was reading the passages expressing the angst and anguish of Patricia’s life in London, England and then, juxtapositioned that life against the life of Kalden in Ladakh, and the imagery is quite startling! She gives the reader such a window into their everyday worlds as if to breathe in a piece of that scenery for the very first time and know that you’ve gone to the location rather than merely ‘visiting’ the locale off the printed page. For Ladakh, she even used local words which would make sense from the character’s point of view to be authentic and true to his identity, as much as writing in the everyday elements I have always appreciated which are stitched into the fabric of the background.

I love how through Kalden’s eyes we are seeing the lush beauty of the glaciers within the Himalayan mountains, as much as we see the stark isolating quiet of being present in a place that has more silence than sound. She gives you the essence of being in Kalden’s shoes, and for that I am celebrating ‘going somewhere’ quite different and alluring from what I have previously read. I love Eastern Religions and Spirituality, and having this story set in a mystical place as a backdrop to the enveloping story was a very special treat.

My Review of The Road Back:

Grabbing you in the heart with her opening bits of narrative to explain the journey Amy is about to embark on to seek out her birth parents now that her adoptive parents have passed on is gripping to say the least! The fact that I am reading this novel as a Prospective Adoptive Mum, of whom is planning to adopt children out of foster care in the future puts the story firmly in the forefront of my mind and heart. I have always had a strong empathic heart for children who either do not know their birth families if removed from their homes as infants or young toddlers, or children who know of their birth families but have been removed as school-aged children. The connective ties of family stitched together become fragmented memories and a heartache of ambiguous loss for the ones who never knew them at all. My heart went out to Amy as she’s on the brink of breaching back into her past, uncovering the secreted mysteries of her birth mother, and wondering if she is brave enough to handle what she discovers.

Patricia is the elder sister of a special needs brother, who was physically affected by the siege of war; her childhood is altered the day her father chooses him over her in his affection. For a young child to realise how a father can choose which child to adore, dot, and love more than the other, has ramifications as the child grows. I felt for her in the sequences where not even her mother was strong enough to stand against her father when he was in the wrong. And, how disconcerting it was to watch as he did not realise how he was affecting his daughter.

Kalden’s entrance into the story is heart-wretching as his position in his family is that of the fourth son, a designation that has him sentenced towards being a monk rather than a husband and father. In his culture, a fourth son cannot inherit land at least not in his family, where the land is divided by three and unable to be partitioned off into fourths. For such a young lad to enter the story, the weight of his heart bleds out of his scenes, giving us a heartfelt grasp of his reality despite the youth of his eight years.

The beautiful irony is that both Patricia and Kalden’s upbringings were a bit similar to each other, in that neither of their families elected to place their needs first or in any measure of importance. They were each self-reliant at a young age, and they each treasured their family’s affection but knew that for whichever reason, they were not the children in the family of whom theirs would consider had worth. Their lifepaths were already on a route towards convergence long before their encounter in Ladakh. Two souls from two very different worlds, and yet on the heart level, their spirits were entwined by the circumstances of their lives.

Tragedy affects people in different ways, and the unique twist in the story for me was in realising that out of the grief for her brother, Patricia turnt her full attention to her father rather than drawing closer to her Mum. Whereas Kalden’s world was tethered and tied to a missionary family whose only hope in life was to bring education to his village; yet the prejudice his village gave them in return shattered his hopes for a familial connection. Each of them were searching for something outside the tangible and outside the scope of what they fully understood. Life is lived forward and understood only in the hours in which we truly take a pause to resolve the angst of our souls.

An emotionally gutting story about two entwined soul mates who are magnetically connected to each other despite distance and circumstances attempting to separate them. My heart was full, my head was wrenched with a desire to know the ending, but it is not an ending you want to rush. You have to go through each step of the narrative, allowing their story (Patricia & Kalden) to absorb into you and become a part of you. Theirs is a love story that lifts up your own soul as you read the passages, and gives new meaning of hope through the transcendence of love set against the greatest odds two people could ever want to survive. This started out as an adopted daughter seeking her birth parents, but in the end, it is about a romance between two people who were forbidden from being together and found solace in their union.

Time Shift rather than Time Slip:

I appreciated the flow of the story being encapsulated inside of a ‘time shift’ rather than a ‘time slip’ sequencing, as it gave a strong sense of each character’s reality as the story was told. The start of the novel itself was with a proposition of unearthing information about Amy’s birth parents, yet it is where her journey takes her to find her birth mother & birth father that has such a confluence of drama and heart;  you will find that you do not want to put the book down! The pacing is set to its own rhythm as each chapter unfolds a new piece of either Patricia or Kalden’s lives, taking us one step closer to understanding who they were as adults. The novel is also broken into two distinctive parts, where the latter of the two is the summation of the whole.

A Note of Appreciation on behalf of the writing style of Ms. Harris:

This is the second novel I have read on behalf of Ms. Harris, and it is her début novel! I am thankful that I have had the honour to read two of her novels now, as her writing style within the heart of the narrative is fully conjoined, as she is a writer who puts her heart into her pen. She writes her heart out, and I will always appreciate that style, as it mirrors my own. I even appreciate the fact that she can move and shift through locations, time sequences, and elements of distinction between where her characters and story are set alive. She has the ability to become a chameleon as she writes one story to the next. This is a quality that is appreciated because she gives us such an intense view of her worlds and characters, with a pulse on who they are and how they lived that each story becomes an experience your willingly thankful to have had afterwards.Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

This book review is courtesy of ChocLitUK,

ChocLitUK Reviewer

Previously I have happily hosted Ms. Harris three times on Jorie Loves A Story:

a book review of A Bargain Struck,

an Author Guest Post on behalf of writing Western Fiction,

and an Author Guest Post on behalf of The Road Back.

check out my upcoming bookish events and mark your calendars!

#ChocLitSaturdays | a feature exclusive to Jorie Loves A Story

*NEWSFLASH* : Each Saturday henceforth onward from here in July shall feature a new ChocLit book review! For the updated schedule, please visit my Bookish Events page! The next novel I will be reading & sharing my thoughts on will be “Flight to Coorah Creek” by Janet Gover!

For those who are unware of #ChocLitSaturdays, the chat, we meet regular @ 11am EST / 4pm London! I created the chat to encourage new readers to discover not only the ChocLit novels I am showcasing & reading through my blog feature of the same name, but to help draw a close knit group of Romance booklovers, writers, and appreciators together for an hour of solid friendship and wicked sweet conversation!

All are welcome to attend! Tweet me or leave a comment in this thread for further details!

{SOURCES: Author photograph, Author Biography, Book Synopsis, and Book Cover were provided by ChocLitUK and were used by permission. Book Review badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Jorie Loves A Story badge created by Ravven with edits by Jorie in FotoFlexer. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

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Posted Saturday, 5 July, 2014 by jorielov in 20th Century, Adoption, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Equality In Literature, Family Life, Father-Daughter Relationships, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Modern British Literature, Monastery, Monk, Mother-Son Relationships, Passionate Researcher, Psychological Abuse, Religious Orders, Romance Fiction, Time Shift, Writing Style & Voice