The Jewel of St. Petersburg ~ Kate Furnivall

Set in the early stages of revolution in St. Petersburg Russia during a period of great civil unrest. The working class are getting poorer and more desperate each day as they fight starvation, disease and injuries at unsafe factories while the upper class continue to live their extravagant lifestyles. Revolutionaries decide to take things into their own hands and begin to start killing government officials and members of the upper class. This is the story of Valentina Ivanova, daughter of the Minister of Finance to Tsar Nicholas II, Minister General Nicholas Ivanov. In the summer of 1910, Valentina faces death when she is attacked in the forest on her father’s land by Bolsheviks. Valentina manages to evade her attackers and makes it home just in time to see her house destroyed by a bomb. Valentina’s younger sister Katya is seriously injured in the attack and becomes paralyzed as a result. Even though Valentina is born into the upper class, all she wants to do is become a nurse, a station way below her status, in order to take care of her sister Katya. She has no desire to live the life her parents have planned – to marry her off to a Captain in Tsar’s army for his money and for her to live the life of an upper class wife, a life of tea parties and fancy dresses. Instead Valentina falls in love with the dashing Danish “Viking” engineer Jens Friis, builder of tunnels for sewage and water drains. Valentina is determined to live her life the way that she wants to without disappointing her parents or her heart.  


This was the first book I have read by Kate Furnivall and I have just picked up “The Russian Concubine” and “The Girl from Junchow” and they are waiting restlessly on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and I thought that it was extremely well written. I have loved Russian history and culture for years and I think that Furnivall did an excellent job in creating the backdrop of St. Petersburg in the early 1900s. Furnivall creates exquisite characters from Valentina, the intelligent, strong-willed upper class girl with the desire to become a nurse; Arkin, the revolutionary with a heart and a soft spot for one upper class family; Jens, the endearing engineer who wants to help the working class even though they consider him the enemy. Furnivall manages to create a vivid, fast-paced story that keeps the reader engaged from the very first page to the very last sentence.


The Irish Princess ~ Karen Harper

This is the story of Elizabeth "Gera" Fitzgerald, the daughter of Earl of Kildare, king of Ireland in all but name. Gera's world is soon flipped upside down when King Henry VIII imprisons her father in the Tower of London and her uncles are declared traitors. Gera's family is forced to move to England to live with her mother's cousins, the Grey family. On the ship crossing to England, Gera meets admiral Edward Clinton, a man with whom she she falls in love with. Once in England, Gera is sent to live in Henry's royal court where she must learn to navigate the ever changing alliance as she nurtures her own secret desire for revenge-- and she wont be satisfied until she restores her family to its rightful place back home in Ireland.


I absolutely loved this book. I have been a fan of Karen Harper for years now and I love how she is able to bring the characters to life as well as being able to describe the settings with great detail. There was enough factual information to keep my history loving self entertained and enough of a romance to keep me reading until the very end. You can definitely tell that Harper has a great love for Tudor England and that she has a great talent for writing. It was beautifully researched and I love how she never intended on writing a story about Elizabeth Fitzgerald but stumbled upon her by accident but yet she was still able to create a fiery yet lovable character and breathe life into her in the pages of the novel. I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves historical fiction and who would enjoy one of the few historical fiction novels set in Ireland. I would be ecstatic if Harper would continue to write novels set in Ireland as I think that Ireland is a gem yet to be deeply explored by historical fiction writers. 


The Heretic Queen - Michelle Moran

The Heretic Queen is the continuation of Moran's "Nefertiti" and it focuses on the Heretic Queen's (Nefertiti) niece and namesake Nefertari. Nefertari was orphaned at birth, her father was already deceased and her mother Mutnodjmet dies in childbirth. Nefertari is taken in by Pharaoh Seti I and raised along side his son Ramesses. Nefertari begins to develop romantic feelings towards Ramesses however the union does not appear to be popular among the people and definitely not at court as Nefertari is judged solely on her ancestors. Ramesses however falls in love with Nefertari and marries her despite the courts wishes with exception of his father and one of his aunts. The young couple has high hopes that they will be able to change the people's opinion of Nefertari and that they would come to love her as Ramesses did. As Ramesses was unable to make her his Chief wife, Nefertari must fight for her position at court while Ramesses leads his troops into battle against the ever-threatening Hittites. Thanks in part to her education and her vast knowledge of languages, Nefertari rules Egypt while Ramesses is at war and she eventually gains the love and support of the Egyptian people.


Michelle Moran did it again - another awesome novel about Ancient Egypt. I literally read this book in a day and a half and it was even more difficult to put down than "Nefertiti" was. Again, immense praise for Moran's writing style and her ability to create the most vivid images of the court and everything within right down to the clothing and makeup. Her ability to create vibrant characters of whom there is little know is amazing. The novel is a great example of a great historical fiction novel as it is filled with politics, intrigue, love, betrayal and war. Another aspect that I loved with both this novel and "Nefertiti" was that Moran included a glossary of Egyptian terms- it was definitely helpful.

It was definitely one of my favourite novels that I have read so far this year. Another fantastic novel and I can't wait to read her future novels. Go out and get this (and Nefertiti) and enjoy a fantastic trip back to Ancient Egypt!

Nefertiti - Michelle Moran

Nefertiti is destined to be a great ruler; she is the daughter of the Queen's brother Ay and it is her fate to become Queen of Egypt. Not only is Nefertiti beautiful but she is also intelligent, independent, strong-willed and power-hungry. It is Queen Tiye's hope that her niece will be able to exert some control over her son and Nefertiti's intended husband Amenhotep IV. Amenhotep is impulsive, reckless and unstable with disastrous and heretical ideas-- it is Amenhotep's goal to take Egypt from a polytheism to a monotheism religion, with Aten the Sun god at the centre. He also desires to make Pharaoh the voice of Aten and remove the Priests from their power therefore starting the age old battle of church versus state.

The story tells the story of Nefertiti's rise and subsequent fall from power as she is unable to control her husband Akhenaten's (formerly known as Amenhotep) vision of a new Egypt. Pharaoh decides to build his empire Amarna in the middle of the desert and he removes the Priests from their positions of power, greatly angering the people of Egypt. Throughout Akhenaten's reforms, Nefertiti is waging her own battles within her family, mainly with Kiya, Akhenaten's other wife. Kiya has produced an heir for Pharaoh whereas Nefertiti only gave him daughters.

The entire story is narrated by Nefertiti's younger sister Mutnodjmet. Mutnodjmet is the total opposite of her sister and although she is forced to live with Nefertiti at court as her chief lady, Mutnodjmet wants nothing more than a quite life in the country with an herb garden, as far away from court life and her sister as possible.


Nefertiti was an amazing story! I was captivated from page 1 and it was virtually impossible for me to put down this book. It was a page turner and it was a quick paced and extremely well written and researched with great care. It was everything that historical fiction should be as it was full of intrigue, romance and history.

I was super excited to read this book as I have been fascinated with Ancient Egypt for as long as I can remember, I even took a few ancient history classes in school in an attempt to learn more about this period. There is just something about the culture and the way of life that I find to be spellbinding. The fact that Michelle Moran was able to create such a vibrating and captivating set of characters living in a time period where there is not an extensive amount of accurate information was amazing. Moran's writing style is exquisite—she gives enough detail for you to picture the temples and the way of life in Ancient Egypt without overdoing it therefore your imagination is still a vital part of enjoying the story. She is also able to create characters that literally jump off the page. I also enjoyed the fact that there was a love story within the novel but it wasn’t an in-your-face love story, but something that subtly happens within the story. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn more about Ancient Egypt and the notorious ancient pharaoh Akhenaton and his pharaoh wife Nefertiti.


A Shore Thing ~ Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi

Its summer at the Jersey Shore and cousins Gia and Bella want to make it a summer to remember. The girls rent a beach house on the Shore and their summer goal consists of 3 D’s: dancing, drinking and duh! The girls are on the prowl for some hot, juice-head guido gorillas and are looking for a good time and a wild summer.


So confession time: “Jersey Shore” is one of my guilty pleasures and one chapter into the book I felt like I had moved into the shore house with Snooki and JWoww. 

Gia is a spitting image of Snooki from her pouf to the fuzzy slippers, the love of pickles and her trademark “waa!!” whereas Bella is just like JWoww, tall and toned with fake boobs and a killer right hook. The story unfolded like a season of “Jersey Shore” minus the house drama. Although it was not a challenging read and the language was simple it was a quick, easy, humorous summer read. 

After reading The Postmistress, I needed something light and fun and that is exactly what this book is. I literally read this in a matter of an hour and a half - its not at all challenging but it was still enjoyable. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the show and of Ms. Snooki herself.