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review 2017-08-18 09:44
The Black Death, midwifery and it was hard to be a woman in XIV century France. Highly recommended
Blood Rose Angel (The Bone Angel Series Book 3) - Liza Perrat

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (author, check here if you are interested in getting your book reviewed) and thank her and the author for this opportunity.

This is the third novel I have read in the series The Bone Angel and the fourth novel by Liza Perrat. (You can check my reviews of Spirit of Lost Angel here, Wolfsangel here and The Silent Kookaburra here.) You might have guessed by now that I enjoy her books. Having read The Silent Kookaburra first, for quite a while I thought that was my favourite of the author’s novels (and don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the others) but now, I’m not so sure.

We are in Lucie-sur-Vionne, France, 1348. The whole series is set in the same location and follows the characters of the female line of a family who are linked by their midwifery skills (or wish to care for others) and by the passing of a talisman, the bone angel of the title. All the women of the series feel a strange connection to this angel (whose story/legend we hear, first- hand, in this book) and to each other, although this novel is, so far, the one set further back in the past, and at a very momentous time (like all the others). The Black Death decimated a large part of the world population and this novel offers us the perspective of the people who lived through it and survived to tell the tale.

The story is narrated, mostly in the first person, by midwife Héloïse, whose birth was problematic (her mother, Ava, a midwife herself, died before she was born and her aunt, Isa, extracted her from the womb) and due to the superstitions of the time, she was shunned and taunted as a child (she was not only a bastard, as her father was unknown, but she was also ‘unborn’). She always felt guilty for her mother’s death and resisted becoming a midwife due to that. But, eventually, she heeded her calling, learned from her aunt, and has become loved and appreciated by most people (apart from a few villagers who blame her for unlucky events). Unfortunately, as human nature dictates, when the epidemic reaches the village (at the same time as her husband, a stonemason who had been working in Florence) and people start dying, everybody looks for someone to blame, be it cats, the Jews, the lepers, or… There are a few chapters told from other characters’ point of view, only to complete the picture when Heloise is otherwise engaged (I’m trying not to give any spoilers here).

Héloïse is a strong-willed woman, who struggles between trying to fulfill her vocation (what she sees as her mission no matter how little recompense he gets for it) and being a dutiful wife who puts her husband and family above everything else. She is a compelling character and one that rings true and whose situation is ever relevant, especially to women who always have to try and find a balance between career and family life. She is a worthy heroine, who cares for people, who tries to do the right thing, even if it might cost her, who perseveres and remains faithful to her ideas, who doubts and questions acknowledged ‘truths’, and who is a natural leader. The rest of the characters, both, villagers and nobles, good and nasty, are all well-defined and recognisable, although perhaps the female characters are drawn in more detail than the males (although midwifery and birthing was women’s business at the time, so it is understandable), and I must say I felt like a member of her extended family by the end of the book.

The novel’s plot is fascinating and as good as any historical fiction I have read. History and fiction blend seamlessly to create a story that is gripping, emotionally satisfying, and informative. Even when we might guess some of the twists and turns, they are well-resolved, and the ending is satisfying. (I have read some reviews that mention it is a bit rushed. It is true that it all comes together at a faster pace than the rest of the novel, but my suspicion is that readers didn’t want the story to end. I know that was my case).  The life of the villagers is well observed, as is the relationship between the different classes, the politics of the era, the role of religion, the power held by nobles and the church, the hypocrisy, superstition, and prejudice, and the social mores and roles of the different genders. The descriptions of the houses, clothing, medical and midwifery procedures, and the everyday life are detailed enough to make us feel immersed in the era without slowing down the plot, that is a page turner in its own right. I particularly enjoyed the sense of community (strongly dominated by women) and the optimism that permeates the novel, showing the strength of the human spirit even in the hardest of circumstances. The author includes a glossary at the end that explains the words no longer in use that appear in the novel and also provides background information on the Black Death and the historical figures that grace its pages. Although it is evident that the book involved a great deal of research, this is flawlessly weaved into the story and add to the feeling of authenticity.

This novel, like the rest of the series, can be read as a stand-alone, although I doubt that anybody reading it will not want to read the rest.

Another great novel by Liza Perrat and one of my favourites. I will not forget it in a hurry and I hope to keep reading more novels by the author. I recommend it to readers of historical fiction, especially those interested in the era, the Black Death, and medical techniques of the time, readers of women’s fiction, and anybody looking for great characters and a writer to follow.



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review 2016-06-15 03:08
The Well Of Tears (R.G. Thomas)
The Well of Tears - R.G. Thomas
3.5 stars

At the end of The Midnight Gardener, we found our hero, Thaddeus Cane, alongside his father, his newly gnome boyfriend Teofil, and Teofil’s family, started their journey into the magical world to find Thaddeus’ mother, the dragon Claire. In this second installment into the series, the quest continued…

Just like in the first novella, I wholeheartedly enjoyed Thomas’s way of describing the atmospheric surroundings … from the Lost Forest, the inhabitants of troll, faeries, and living vines, as well as the tale of how Lost Forest and The Well of Tears came to be. It was fairy tale-ish and I imagined this would be perfect for bed-time stories. We have a quest, magical beings, betrayal, and a young hero who started to find his magical power in times of need.

Other than the previously appearing characters, The Well of Tears introduced a new one – a wood elf by the name of Dulindir, who helped Thaddeus and Teofil discover the missing magical well in order to save Thaddeus’s father. I thought Dulindir fit right in with the traveling group and I looked forward to his future interaction with Astrid, Teofil’s sister.

Potential readers should note that, similar to the first book, this one has an open ending since Thaddeus still has to continue his quest to save his mother from the evil witch, Isadora. I, for one, will definitely be there for the next book.

A Guest Review for The Blogger Girls

The ARC is provided by the publisher for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.
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review 2016-06-14 01:05
Harry Potter meets Harry Dresden meets The Lord of the Rings...
The Well of Tears - R.G. Thomas

'The Town of Superstition' is not a series where the books work well as standalones. Could you read this one without having read book 1, sure if you don't mind missing out on a whole lot of background information and the adventure that took place in the first book. 


Continuing from where things left off in 'The Midnight Gardener' the author draws us even further into this adventure as we travel with Thaddeus and Teofil as the search for Thaddeus's mother continues and events unfold that no one had foreseen. 


As if finding out that he's the son of a witch and a wizard isn't enough. Thaddeus is about to go on an adventure that no 15 year old ever dreamed of. Thaddeus along with his father Nathan, his garden gnome boyfriend, Teofil and Teofil's mother, brother and sister set out on a quest to find Thaddeus's mother whom he had believed dead but as fate would have it, was not killed but cursed when Taddeus was very young. Along the way they encounter more magical creatures some friend and some foe, they discover that not everyone in their groups is who or what they appear to be and Thaddeus is forced to choose between searching for the mother he never really knew or saving the father he loves.


I loved the sweet moments between Thaddeus and Teofil and the light flirting that happened as their journey continued. Also how they had to learn very quickly the importance of relying on each other, communicating with each other and most of all trusting each other.


Once again we are left sitting at the edge of that cliff and staring down, with old questions answered and new ones to consider. 'The Well of Tears' is by no means an ending but merely another step in the journey that began in the town of Superstition.


I'm looking forward to seeing what the author has in store for this eclectic group and what will happen when and if Thaddeus finally catches up to his mother.



A copy of this book was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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text 2016-06-05 16:16
Monster-Spotting on a 16th Century Map

(reblogged from Nicholas Rossis)


Continuing my infatuation with maps, I came across this fine 16th-century example of a cartographer’s imagination running wild in an excellent post by Urvija Banerji of Atlas Obscura.




Scandinavian Map | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books


The creatures depicted on land in the 16th-century Carta Marina are not particularly unusual: the map’s lands contain knights on horseback, wild boars and bears climbing trees. The west side of the map, however, shows a much more fanciful plethora of wildlife. Cartographer Olaus Magnus created the Carta Marina above while staying in Rome, between the years 1527 and 1539.


However, Magnus was originally from Sweden and chose to depict the Nordic countries in his map. The Carta Marina was one of the most precise depictions of any part of Europe at the time. Which is more than can be said about its portrayal of the oceans. As you can see, the northern seas are filled to the brim with all kinds of aquatic monsters. Some maps of the era depicted dragons to metaphorically indicate uncertainties or dangers in a region.


But the Carta Marina’s mythological sea creatures were thought to really exist at the time Magnus drew them. He even identified each creature in the map’s key. You can take a closer look at some of them below.


Unsuspecting sailors cook a meal on a sea monster off the coast of Iceland.

Magnus described this creature as a whale whose skin resembled the sand on a seashore. An English ship is depicted as having laid anchor on the whale, and two unwitting sailors are cooking a meal on its rump.


Sailors attempt to scare away attacking sea monsters with frightening sounds and empty barrels.

Read the rest of the post here.

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review 2015-11-16 02:35
The Midnight Gardener (R.G. Thomas)
The Midnight Gardener (The Town of Superstition Book 1) - Thomas G.R. Bower
3.5 stars

I admit, I saw the words “garden gnome” and immediately requested for the arc. What can I say, I enjoy urban fantasy and I really like having different supernatural beings as front and center. So I couldn’t pass the chance to read about garden gnomes, could I?

What I liked the most about this story – which is the beginning of a series called “The Town of Superstition” – was how atmospheric it was. I enjoyed how R.G. Thomas described those nights when Thaddeus first discovered, observed, and later being introduced to the world of magic and supernatural beings by way of Teofil, the garden gnome. I felt like being there with Thaddeus as his eyes were open to this new experience, that the world he was living was not at all ordinary.

I also enjoyed reading about Thaddeus’ relationship with his father, Nathan. Since Thaddeus’ mother was not in the picture – there would be an explanation for that in addition to quite a surprising moment that just made my jaw dropped – the father-son relationship was pretty strongly displayed. Although there were moments in which I thought Nathan should be more opened about their family background towards Thaddeus, especially after the ‘secret was out’.

This was only the beginning of Thaddeus’ quest and the story ended with ‘soft-of’ a cliffhanger. I said ‘sort-of’ because the threat for Thaddeus and Nathan, at the moment, was being taken care of but there were still questions left to be answered. Well, I definitely look forward to the next story because I want to see how Thaddeus evolve – I haven’t seen him doing magic yet *smile*

The ARC is provided by the publisher for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.
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