The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

⭐️⭐️⭐️THE KING'S DAMSEL (Secrets of the Tudor Court #5) By Kate Emerson

Publisher:  Gallery Books
Pages:  368
Release Date:  2012
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Format:  Paperback

Book Description:  In the fifth novel in Kate Emerson's highly acclaimed Secrets of the Tudor Court series, a young gentlewoman catches King Henry the Eighth's roving eye.In 1533 and again in 1534, Henry the Eighth reportedly kept a mistress while he was married to Anne Boleyn. Now, that mistress comes to vivid life in Kate Emerson's The King's Damsel.
A real-life letter from Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, written on September 27, 1534, reported that the king had "renewed and increased the love he formerly bore to another very handsome young lady of the Court" and that the queen had tried "to dismiss the damsel from her service." Other letters from Eustace reveal that the mystery woman was a "true friend" of the Princess (later Queen) Mary, Henry's daughter by Catherine of Aragon. Though no one knows who "the king's damsel" really was, here Kate Emerson presents her as young gentlewoman Thomasine Lodge, a lady-in-waiting to King Henry's daughter, Princess Mary. Thomasine becomes the Princess's confidante, especially as Henry's marriage to Catherine dissolves and tensions run high. When the king procures a divorce in order to marry Anne Boleyn, who is suspicious and distrustful of Mary, Mary has Thomasine placed in Anne's service to be her eyes and ears. And that's when she gets the attention of the king...
Rich in historical detail and featuring a wealth of bonus material, The King's Damsel is sure to keep readers coming back for more in the exciting series!

Wanda's Thoughts: 
Thomasine (Tamsin) Lodge, a young heiress, becomes a maid of honor to Princess Mary Tudor. She was overcome by homesickness, missing her stepmother, Blanche, and all her many privileges she had as a child. She had never been a servant. If she did not make herself pleasing to Princess Mary’s Court, and those she met there, there would be consequences. By the time the first year had ended, Tamsin had adjusted and became a part of her new family. Soon she was providing entertainment for the household by telling stories to the princess and her court. The character of Tamsin is strong, yet sensitive, and vulnerable.

Sir Lionel Daggett became Tamsin’s guardian, and she had an intense dislike for him from the beginning. He was a wicked man who controlled her inheritance. Daggett commanded Tamsin to impress the king by using her charms to become his damsel. If she didn’t obey, she would be married off to any man who offered him a large enough bribe. This was all to his advantage, that he might prosper – she was to become his advocate.

And the story unfolds with the account of Anne Boleyn’s life and how she played the “game of love” to win over Henry VIII, and later becoming Queen Anne. Henry VIII, King of England, had his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled because of his love for Anne Boleyn.

The research behind this story brings credibility to The King’s Damsel. I must admit I had a desire to see how the character interactions would play out. It is rich with description – the setting is vividly depicted – and the historical aspect is so very well written.

But I did struggle with this book. The pacing drags in the beginning, but finally picks up about mid-way through. There are many historical references throughout, and the story blends both fact and fiction into what should’ve been a compelling tale. Unfortunately I found it to be just lukewarm. The book had an interesting premise, but it just failed to deliver. My rating is 3 stars.

About the Author:  Kate Emerson is a pseudonym used by Kathy Lynn Emerson, author of the Face Down Mysteries featuring Susanna Appleton, 16th century gentlewoman, herbalist, and sleuth, the award-winning How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries, and a wide assortment of other books.

She was born in Liberty, New York and recieved an A.B. from Bates College and an MA from Old Dominion University. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and other professional organizations. She currently lives in rural Western Maine with her husband and three cats.

"Kate Emerson" is her pseudonym to distinguish her historical novels set in the Tudor era (England 1485-1603) that feature real but little known historical figures as the protagonists.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Publisher:  Free Press
Release Date:  2010
Genre:  Non-Fiction/True Crime
Format:  Hardcover

About the Book: 
In this new true crime book, New York Times bestselling author Rule investigates the case of a woman whose supposed suicide may not be what it seems.

Wanda's Thoughts:  Ronda had served 8 years as a Washington state trooper before resigning from the force. She had been the youngest female cadet ever hired and life seemed to be turning out just as she’d hoped. She soon met up with several misfortunes in life and after her disappointing resignation from the Patrol she started working in a store security for Wal-Mart. Ronda’s life seemed to be crashing down around her. Her first marriage had ended in divorce, and now her second marriage, that had lasted less than a year, was about to end. But Ronda always managed to bounce back, never feeling bitter or sorry for herself. On a December morning in 1998 Ronda was found dead in her home and her death was declared undetermined, and then suicide.

Barb Thompson, Ronda’s mother, would never accept that her daughter committed suicide. She would dedicate the next several years of her life trying to prove that her daughter was murdered.

Ann Rule has written a very fascinating, but haunting story with multiple sides, a disturbing story with so many possibilities, and unfortunately a story with no resolution. I was completely absorbed in this story throughout. My only complaint was the poor editing, with several grammatical errors throughout. My rating – 4 stars.

About the Author: Ann Rule was a popular American true crime writer. Raised in a law enforcement and criminal justice system environment, she grew up wanting to work in law enforcement herself. She was a former Seattle Policewoman and was well educated in psychology and criminology.

She came to prominence with her first book, The Stranger Beside Me, about the Ted Bundy murders. At the time she started researching the book, the murders were still unsolved. In the course of time, it became clear that the killer was Bundy, her friend and her colleague as a trained volunteer on the suicide hotline at the Seattle, Washington Crisis Clinic, giving her a unique distinction among true crime writers.

Rule won two Anthony Awards from Bouchercon, the mystery fans' organization. She was nominated three times for the Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. She is highly regarded for creating the true crime genre as it exists today.

Ann Rule also wrote under the name Andy Stack . Her daughter is Goodreads author Leslie Rule.

Monday, December 14, 2015

⭐️⭐️⭐️The Cavendon Women By Barbara Taylor Bradford

Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Release Date:  March 24, 2015
Pages:  448
Format:  Kindle
Genre:  Historical Fiction

Book Description:  From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes a stunning and dramatic saga of love and loyalty. The aristocratic Inghams have been served by the Swann family for centuries. The Cavendon Women follows these two families' journeys from a weekend in the summer of 1926 through to the devastation of the financial crash of 1929.

It all begins on a summer weekend in July of 1926, when, for the first time in years, the Earl has planned a family weekend. Everyone is intrigued by the invitation, and everyone has their own reasons for accepting it. As the family members come together, secrets, problems, joys, and sorrows are revealed. And as old enemies come out of the shadows and the Swanns' loyalty to the Inghams gets tested in ways none of them could have predicted, it is up to the Cavendon women to band together and bring their family into a new decade, and a new way of life.

Told with Barbara Taylor Bradford's trademark attention to detail and passionate prose, The Cavendon Women will grip readers as they follow the beloved characters through times of triumph and turmoil.

Wanda's Thoughts: 
The Cavendon Women, a sequel to Cavendon Hall, fell flat for me. The Book is predictable, problems are solved too easily, and I had a great deal of difficulty distinguishing between the many characters.

1926- 1929 – This family saga was built on the four Ingham sisters, all who emerge as strong and determined women, and the Swanns, who served them. The Inghams and Swanns have lived together for over 170 years and both families displayed an extraordinary amount of loyalty to each other. Cavendon Hall wasn’t what it used to be. The Great War had changed everything.

My favorite character was Cecily Swann, a successful fashion designer. She not only sold her clothes in London, but also in America. She had a future filled with challenges and she’d become truly independent. Miles Ingham was a part of her past. He’d broken her heart when he married another woman, but she still loved him and didn’t think she’d ever forget him.

And the story unfolds with various melodramas, complications, and romance. So much of the story came across as unrealistic, with pretentious dialogue, and excessive reiteration throughout. The ending did have some redeeming qualities, but again, problems were too easily wrapped up. My rating is 3 stars.

About the Author: Barbara Taylor Bradford is the author of 30 bestselling novels, including The Cavendon Women, Cavendon Hall, and The Ravenscar Dynasty. She was born in Leeds, England, and from an early age, she was a voracious reader: at age 12, she had already read all of Dickens and the Brontë sisters. By the age of twenty, she was an editor and columnist on Fleet Street. She published her first novel, A Woman of Substance, in 1979, and it has become an enduring bestseller.

Barbara Taylor Bradford’s books are published in over 90 countries in 40 languages, with sales figures in excess of 88 million. Ten of her novels have been adapted into television mini-series starring actors including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Liam Neeson, Deborah Kerr and Elizabeth Hurley. She has been inducted into the Writers Hall of Fame of America, and in June of 2007, Barbara was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II for her contributions to Literature.

She lives in New York City with her husband, television producer Robert Bradford, to whom all her novels are dedicated.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Publisher:  Zondervan
Release Date:  September 22, 2015
Pages:  1484
Format:  Hardcover

The NIV Understand the Faith Study Bible, with content from Christianity Today, provides a deep grounding in Scripture. You will appreciate the way this Bible keeps the joyful, astounding nature of the gospel always in view when addressing doctrine and the pressing questions about faith. Its content will help you understand what you believe and why while inspiring you to live for God.

Wanda's Thoughts: 

The NIV Understand the Faith Study Bible has a beautiful cover – a real eye catcher.  The font was crisp and clear making it especially easy to read.  I so appreciated that!  The features that I found most interesting and helpful were the Doctrine 101, Everyday Faith, and Living Parables. 

Unfortunately this Bible left me wanting more.  I just couldn’t relate to this as a study Bible.  There were no study notes to correlate with the scriptures, and I really missed that.  I will certainly continue to use it as a supplementary to my collection of Bibles, but more for reference.  My rating is 3 stars.

I received a copy of this Bible from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.