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review 2018-10-23 11:00
BLOG TOUR REVIEW and GIVEAWAY: 'The Assassin's Guide to Love & Treason' by Virginia Boecker
An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason - Virginia Boecker

 

This book is OUT TODAY, everyone!!!! I am so excited to be posting about it and reviewing it TODAY. This is absolutely going to go down as one of my favorite reads of the year. I read all over the map (as in sci-if, horror, thrillers, you name it), but this was a truly fun read for me, with only a little bloodshed between the pages. So loosen your bodices and get comfy, and get ready for trip back home to London, England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First; it’s 1601.

 

 

*Thank you (again) to the amazing peeps at Rockstar Book Tours for including me on this blog tour!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, VIRGINIA BOECKER

 

Virginia Boecker is the author of The Witch Hunter series and An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason. A graduate of the University of Texas, she had a decade-long career in technology before quitting to become a full-time writer. When she isn't writing, Virginia likes running, reading, traveling, and trying new things (most recently: learning to drive a boat). She has lived all over the world but currently resides in beautiful Lake Oswego, Oregon with her husband, children, a dog called George and a cat named Thomas.

You can visit Virginia online at virginiaboecker.com or on Instagram @virgboecker  

 

 

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

 

Title: AN ASSASSINS GUIDE TO LOVE AND TREASON

Author: Virginia Boecker

Pub. Date: October 23, 2018

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 384

 

SYNOPSIS:

When Lady Katherine's father is killed for being an illegally practicing Catholic, she discovers treason wasn't the only secret he's been hiding: he was also involved in a murder plot against the reigning Queen Elizabeth I. With nothing left to lose, Katherine disguises herself as a boy and travels to London to fulfill her father's mission, and to take it one step further--kill the queen herself.

Katherine's opportunity comes in the form of William Shakespeare's newest play, which is to be performed in front of Her Majesty. But what she doesn't know is that the play is not just a play--it's a plot to root out insurrectionists and destroy the rebellion once and for all.

The mastermind behind this ruse is Toby Ellis, a young spy for the queen with secrets of his own. When Toby and Katherine are cast opposite each other as the play's leads, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another. But the closer they grow, the more precarious their positions become. And soon they learn that star-crossed love, mistaken identity, and betrayal are far more dangerous off the stage than on.

 

MY REVIEW:

 

Did you know that Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night was written to capture the would-be assassin of Queen Elizabeth I?!
And what do you get when you combine a cross-dressing Catholic called Katherine Arundell, out to avenge the death of her father, and put her slap-dab in the middle of merry old London?

 

‘An Assassin’s Guide to Love & Treason’, of course, and it’s quite scrumptious.

This romp through 1601 will have you questioning any history you may think you’ve learned about Elizabethan London, about the dalliances of Shakespearean players, and about the tension between the Protestants and Catholics at that time.

 

Being from England myself, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a bit of ‘history’ from home to indulge in. I delighted in this witty, clever tale about young Lady Katherine Arundell from Cornwall, who witnesses her father’s execution for being a practicing Catholic. This was because England is now Protestant under Queen Elizabeth I, and to avenge her father’s death, she then goes to London and plans to assassinate Queenie herself. Tall order perhaps.


Katherine constructs a plan, along with her merry band of Catholic conspirators; this means she must infiltrate the upcoming production of ‘Twelfth Night’, and create a new male identity for herself, Kit.

 

This is really at the crux of how clever Virginia Boecker is being with ‘Assassin’s Guide’ (and I know she knows this, because of her most brilliant Author’s Note in the back; only I do hope everyone reads it!). As many of you may know, women weren’t players in Shakespeare’s plays, men were, and they played all the women’s parts too. In order for Katherine to disguise herself in London, she must become Kit (this was a name short for Christopher back then), as well as to be a player on the stage.


She then gets the part as Viola, who (if you haven’t read ‘Twelfth Night’) dresses up as a man in the play. It all becomes quite complicated when Kit becomes drawn to Toby, who is another lead player, and writer, and unbeknownst to Kit, a spy for Elizabeth Regina; he’s trying to deduce which of the Twelfth Night players is the treasonous one. Yet he’s falling for Kit, just as he did previously for the late Kit Marlowe (that’s Christopher Marlowe to you).


Katherine’s own confidence as a ‘man’ mirrors Viola’s growing confidence in the play, particularly as Toby and ‘Kit’ rehearse together, and the themes of bisexuality and questions about societal gender norms play like their own characters in the book. Just like the very irony we see in having men play the parts of women (who play men), this is a double irony, if you will, and forces the characters to constantly question their identities, as well as their loyalties. At a time when many only had loyalty to the Crown or to God, questioning your identity was frowned against and was highly confusing, and naturally left you open to being cast out by all sorts of weaknesses such as witchcraft and going back to the Old Religion (Catholicism). You certainly didn’t admit to liking the same sex, even if you did put on a dress for all to see in the Globe Theatre.

 

The ‘supporting cast’ of William Shakespeare, the Wright Brothers, and even the Queen, lend so much color to the tapestry that Boecker has woven for this ‘Guide’, and readers will love it when familiar names and places appear in the story. I’d also say there’s a little bit of everything here to make this an all-round great read: we start off with a murder, and then we have action, romance, and a lot of wit and charm. Shakespeare would approve of all of that.


Virginia has actually taken great pains to do her research and in her Author’s Note points out where she has meddled with the history and where she has kept to the facts. I absolutely loved this small part of the book, as well as the long bibliography she has listed.
While you may not come out with a proper Elizabethan history lesson, or an actual assassin’s guide, you will be thoroughly entertained, and may (like myself) be inclined to read up on your English history and to even re-read some Shakespeare!
This was a solid 5 star read for me.
Jolly good show.

 

**I played Maria in my high school performance of ‘Twelfth Night’.

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY:

 

For a chance to win one of 3 copies (US only, sorry) of this amazing book click on this ASSASSIN’S GUIDE GIVEAWAY LINK!

 

And next...links to BUY THE BOOK!

 

On AmazonBook Depository, B&N and iBooks - and add it to Goodreads

 

And now to follow the rest of the blog tour, here’s the FULL SCHEDULE LINK!

 

 

I hope you have been totally inspired and pick up a copy of the book, and GOOD LUCK with the giveaway too! 

x ~ K

 

“If music be the food of love, play on...”

 

 

*Guess how much this is worth?

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/37678396-an-assassin-s-guide-to-love-and-treason?ac=1&from_search=true
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review 2018-10-23 00:43
Over the River and Through the Woods
The Christmas Prayer - Wanda E. Brunstetter

Wanda Brunstetter’s “The Christmas Prayer” leaves me with mixed feelings. A brief novella, it is great for a one-to-two hour diversion, and the writing is very easy to understand. However, these qualities are also part of my criticism. The storyline seems like it would have been better suited to a full-length novel, as the plot comes across as rushed, jumping over weeks and even months at a time. The same is true of the characterization. As the reader, I did not feel any strong connection with any of the characters, and they were not developed to any real extent. Part of the narrative comes from Cynthia Cooper’s journal, which in my opinion detracted from the flow of the story. This read more like a teen or young adult novella, and everything came together too neatly and too quickly to be believable. It is reminiscent of a Hallmark Channel movie. Nevertheless, the cover is absolutely beautiful, with an embossed gold border on both the front and back, and anyone looking for a fast, feel-good tale will enjoy this one.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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review 2018-10-22 22:22
The Devil's Grin
The Devil's Grin - Annelie Wendeberg

Darkest London for Halloween Bingo!

 

​Dr. Anton Kronberg is England's leading bacteriologist.  Dr. Kronberg is called in to investigate a case of a cholera victim floating in the city's water supply.  While the fact that the victim died of cholera is pretty clear cut, the way the disease was received and how the body  found its way into the water supply opens up to many more mysteries.  When Sherlock Holmes is also brought into the case, Dr. Kronberg has even more to fear as Holmes quickly discovers Dr. Kronberg's secret that Anton is really Anna Kronberg.  Holmes and Anna find a tenuous relationship as the case brings them into dangerous scenarios with devious men and treacherous plots.


The Devil's Grin is an engaging Victorian Era mystery.  Dr. Kronberg is a very interesting character.  Her choice to live as a man in order to practice medicine is honorable, yet has many difficulties and bears the consequence of death if found out.  Since she could legally practice medicine as a woman in other countries, this seems like a strange and dangerous predicament to place herself into.  Other than that, I really enjoyed the sharp and witty writing, the mystery and the passion behind Anna's character.  The mystery was a slow burn and grew on me with a series of well crafted layers that started with what seemed like a simple case but quickly grew into a large conspiracy that took Anna under cover.   Another interesting aspect of the story was Sherlock's character, a tortured soul and amazing detective, yet very different from the classic Holmes character.  Overall, an engaging historical thriller in Victorian London. 

 

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review 2018-10-22 17:59
The Game of Hope
The Game of Hope - Sandra Gulland

 Hortense de Beauharnais  grew up during the unfortunate time of the French Revolution.  During this time many members of the aristocracy were woken in the middle of the night, dragged away and then imprisoned or killed.  Hortense's father was one of the many executed by guillotine and Hortense's mother, Josephine was one of the many imprisoned.  Josephine is now married to Napoleon, who is rising to power.  While Napoleon is fighting, Hortense attends The Institute, a boarding school for young women.  Hortense is a good student, especially in the arts.  Hortense  prayis for the protection of her brother Eugene, while fighting with Napoleon's troops.  She is also secretly pining for Christophe, a fellow officer with Eugene and dealing with Caroline, Napoleon's troublesome little sister.  Hortense has many painful memories of the past and her future is quickly changing as Napoleon gains power.  

The Game of Hope is the story of  Hortense de Beauharnais' coming of age.  Hortense would go on to become the Queen Consort of Holland; however, the events of her childhood help mold the adult she will become.  Focusing on the years of 1798-1800, we get to see a few years of Hortense's life as the Revolution was shaping France, it's people and Napoleon's rise to power.  Throughout everything that was going on with her country and her personal life, I felt that Hortense was very much captured as a regular young woman.  Written with much historical detail, I was fascinated to learn about the effects of the Revolution on those who survived as well as details of Hortense's private life.  I was amazed to know that Hortense was a composer, and that I am able to listen to her pieces being performed today.  While the focus of the story was on Hortense, I also had many glimpses into the rest of her fascinating family including the relationship between Napoleon and Josephine as well as fascinating Caroline.  Overall, an engrossing historical biography of an amazing woman in history that is filled with hope and strength. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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review 2018-10-18 15:02
The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter
The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter - Hazel Gaynor

Grace Darling is the daughter of the Longstone Lighthouse keeper in the Farne Islands. She has dedicated her life to helping her father keep the light. Although, for a young women in the 1830's, this is not the life that is expected of her. Grace's life is put into the spotlight when she assists her father in rescuing the survivors of a shipwreck. One of the survivors of the shipwreck is Sarah Dawson, who has lost both of her children to the sea. Sarah is also the brother of George Emmerson, an artist who visited Longstone and formed a strong bond with Grace. Grace and Sarah become fast friends after their ordeal on the island and share a bond of courage and heartache.

One hundred years later, Sarah's great-great granddaughter, Matilda arrives in Rhode Island disgraced and pregnant, sent away from her hometown in Ireland to stay with her cousin and lighthouse keeper, Harriet. To keep herself busy Matilda sorts through an old chest, finding momentos of Grace Darling and George Emmerson. By learning the stories of Grace, Sarah and Harriet, Matilda finds strength within herself to what must be done.


The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter is a story of courage and bravery carried through time. The phrase "Even the brave were once afraid" is a theme throughout the book and something that each character realizes over time. I was pleased to learn the history of Grace Darling, I name I have heard of, but didn't know anything about. Much of what is written about Grace is fact-based and well researched. Through the writing I could perfectly picture Grace and her attention to her duties and well as her unease at becoming a heroine for simply performing the duty of a lighthouse keeper. Matilda and Harriet's story took a little bit longer to capture my attention; however, when all of the secrets throughout time are revealed, their bravery shines through and everything falls into place. As always, Hazel Gaynor's writing transports me easily through time periods with poise and captures multiple characters personalities perfectly. Overall, an amazing story of courage and love.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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