31 Aug 2018

First Line Fridays 36: The Holy Lance by Andrew Latham

I have not posted in two weeks. But I have an excuse. Last week there was camp: we did not get to the destination until 9:30 pm. That morning I had a dental appointment, and then we got a puncture and so I almost did not get to my friends for the drive to Devon. Yeah, I have a good excuse.

So today, I'm finally back, and sharing a book I've been wanting to read for a long while. I heard about this title about the time it first came out in 2015, and I think I was offered the chance to review it, but declined.
Then a couple years down the line, I looked for it again, and the book seemed to have gone out of print,  but now its been republished and its back on Kindle Unlimited so I borrowed it. Introducing:

The Holy Lance: The English Templars 1 by Andrew A. Latham
 The year is 1191. A daring counterattack against the Saracens’ last-ditch effort to relieve the besieged city of Acre has not only saved the Third Crusade from a fatal defeat; it has also brought the leader of that counterattack, English Templar Michael Fitz Alan, to the attention of King Richard the Lionheart.
In the days that follow, the king charges Fitz Alan with a life-or-death mission – to recover the long-lost Holy Lance, a religious relic widely believed to be responsible for the near-miraculous success of the First Crusade.

The ensuing quest leads Fitz Alan and a hand-picked band of Templars on a journey deep into enemy territory, where they battle Saracens, Assassins, hostile Christians and even a traitor within their own ranks as they seek to return the Holy Lance to Christian hands and thereby ensure the liberation of Jerusalem and the success of the crusade

The first line reads: 

11th July 1191 

"Brother Michael Fitz Alan could not see the Saracen army, but he could hear both the rhythmic beating of its massive war drums and the unmistakable clamour of its warriors assembling in anticipation of the day's slaughter"

So, that's my contribution for this week. Don't forget to click the Meme to see what everyone else is reading, and comment with your own first line . 


30 Aug 2018

A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano

July 21st 2018, 416 Pages, Revell Books
Print, Ebook and Audio

A lonely young heiress becomes the poorest wealthy woman in Victorian England when her father dies without telling anyone where he hid his fortune. Can Tressa and the no-nonsense estate manager find the fortune before the greedy relatives get to it first? Tressa Harlowe's father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family.

He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it.
It doesn't take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences.

Tressa knows what they're really up to. She'll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father's fortune-before someone else finds it first.Award-winning author Joanna Davidson Politano welcomes readers to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England, for a treasure hunt they'll not soon forget.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

On one level, I liked this book better than Lady Jayne Disappears. The setting was atmospheric, and I liked the way that the family vineyard was used as a basis for moral and spiritual lessons. It was certainly a well-written story full of family drama and mystery, with plenty of twists and turns.

I also liked the central story line about a young woman who loved her distant father and her home, and only sets about finding the rumoured ancestral treasure to save it. She never expects to be confronted with some apparently shocking revelations about her father, and desires above all else to clear his name, so her image of him will not be shattered. Through the search, she learns to trust her Heavenly Father as well, and what real treasure means.

Maybe the hero was a little too perfect, and even Tressa at times. Another reviewer mentioned there were times when she wanted to shake her. Don't think I did at the time, but looking back, she was bit silly on occasion.

So why the lower rating? A couple of reasons. One was some apparent contradictions. Early in the story, I'm fairly sure it said Tressa and her mother had returned home after a long sojourn 'abroad': but afterwards it said they had simply been in London.
The constant Americanisms also contribute to it. The characters used the American 'trunk' and the British term 'chest' to describe wooden box believed to contain the family fortune interchangeably, sometimes in the same sentence.
Also, the characters sometimes referred to an area of the castle/stately home Tressa grew up in as a 'Hall Block'. I have no idea what that is. Is it a made up term? Never heard of anything called that before in a castle, or manor house, or any building, whatever its meant to be. The audiobook narrator was good though. Liked her West Country accent. 

I requested this title from Netgalley, and purchased the Audible version of my own volition. I was not required to write a positive one and all opinions expressed are my own.

17 Aug 2018

First Line Fridays 36: Prince Edward's Warrant by Mel Starr

This week I am sharing the first line not from the book I am currently reading, but from a book I received recently, and hope to start reading soon. I'm going away next weekend, and this book is going to be coming with me. 

Prince Edward's Warrant is the latest installment in the ongoing medieval mystery series, The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon. Its the eleventh title in the series, and actually is not due for release in the UK the 24th August but thanks to the lovely team at Lion Fiction, I was sent a copy a couple of weeks early. 

The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton are literally one of my favourite series- ever. I'll happily gush about the books, and receiving the latest title in August or September has become one of the highlights of my reading year.
The series recounts the adventures Hugh, youngest son of a knight who becomes a  surgeon and bailiff in late 14th century Oxfordshire. Although two of the most recent stories have expanded the scope of the series to outside the county: one was set in France, and this one is set in London I think. 

Master Hugh won the Black Prince’s* favour when he helped ease the prince’s illness. Now, in the autumn of 1372, the prince is suffering a relapse and sends to Bampton for Master Hugh to attend him. While at dinner in Kennington Palace, Sir Giles, the knight who escorted Hugh to London, is stricken and dies. Poison! Sir Giles is not popular, and there are many who would gladly see the fellow done away with… except for Prince Edward.

The Black Prince feels a debt to the slain man because of his heroic behaviour at the Battle of Crecy, where the knight stood firm with the prince when the fight seemed of uncertain outcome. Despite caring little for Sir Giles, Master Hugh must once again place himself in jeopardy and seek to uncover the perpetrator of the crime…

I have another little Meme for today's first line:

 Remember to click the meme to see what the other members of the group are reading: or comment with your own First Line


11 Aug 2018

Dawnsinger by Janalyn Voigt

Tales of Fearaven #1 
Published June 2012, Harbourlight Books 
Print and Ebook 
Genre: Fantasy  
 The High Queen is dying...

At the royal summons, Shae mounts a wingabeast and soars through the air to the high hold of Faeraven, where all is not as it seems. Visions warn her of danger, and a dark soul touches hers in the night. When she encounters an attractive but disturbing musician, her wayward heart awakens.

But then there is Kai, a guardian of Faeraven and of Shae. Secrets bind him to her, and her safety lies at the center of every decision he makes.

On a desperate journey fraught with peril and the unknown, they battle warlike garns, waevens, ferocious raptors, and the wraiths of their own regrets. Yet, they must endure the campaign long enough to release the DawnKing and the salvation he offers to a divided land. To prevail, each must learn that sometimes victory comes only through surrender.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I'm trying to get through books I've had on my Kindle or in my computer for years, and this was one on my list.
This book was a pleasant surprise. So much epic fantasy is not strong on the world-building, for various reasons. In a lot of it, the 'Medieval' setting resembles either Colonial America or Ancient Israel, or a combination of the two.

This one was quite different, the Medieval setting is quite authentic (no potatoes, I mean literally), and the story a world building was very strong. Only thing is I think the Glossary could have done with being at the front instead of the back, because I had to keep looking things up to remind me of what some of the 'odd' words meant.

I don't know if this is counted as YA or Adult, but the Quest/Adventure formula worked very well, although it does not start until about halfway through. Before that its sort of introducing the character/setting. Its like a classic Quest story, almost the type of formula you see in Medieval Literature except with winged horses, and a glowing sword and various other mythical elements.

A very good book, its helpful that this and the sequel are both available on Kindle Unlimited.

View all my reviews

3 Aug 2018

First Line Fridays 35: Remember Me by Penelope Wilcock

Despite being so massively behind in my Goodreads challenge (4 books!), I am actually reading, and I have started a new audio book. I hope to catch up at some point, maybe when I'm back at work after the summer.

Since I've featured both the eBooks I am currently reading in previous posts, I will include the paperback I recently opened up here.

Remember Me is the sixth book the the Hawk and the Dove Series by British author Penelope Wilcock, set in and around a monastery in fourteenth century Yorkshire . I must admit I was not impressed by the last book, but I'm continuing the series, since I got three of the books free from the Publisher a few years ago. You can see the synopsis below.

Father William knew something was changing deep within him. He felt it—from his belly, from his from his heart, from his soul—the reality of what was streaming forth unchecked. There was no denying it. This was love.

Yet Father William has more to worry about than simply upholding his vows to God, to the brothers of St. Alcuin, and to Abbot John. The brotherhood is running out of money and Father William must decide whether or not to take matters into his own hands.

Seasoned author Penelope Wilcock unlocks the story of one man’s struggles, mistakes, and heart’s longings, and traces the possibility of what it means to get things wrong and to begin again. She helps us see the unexpected ways God often chooses to heal a broken life, revealing the heart of God to make us whole.

....and there is the graphic with the first line. I'm very pleased with he picture of a ruined monastery I found on Canva.

 Until next time, enjoy have a great week and happy reading. 
Don't forget to click the meme to see what other members are reading, or post your own first line. 

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