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Carpe Librum

Reviews and bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.

If I am lost, you will find me in medieval England.

You can also find me - and my books - on my blog.

Historical Novel Society

Currently reading

The Beaufort Bride: The Life of Margaret Beaufort
Judith Arnopp
The Unholy Trinity: Blocking the Left's Assault on Life, Marriage, and Gender
Matt Walsh
In the School of the Holy Spirit
Jacques Philippe

First Blast of the Trumpet by Marie Macpherson

The First Blast of the Trumpet (The Knox Trilogy) - Marie Macpherson

I was eager to read this book, the Reformation one of my favorite eras of history and having written about Mary I of England myself. This novel promised to offer another point of view by featuring reformer, John Knox. For those who enjoy Scottish historical fiction set in the 16th century, this is a must-read.


The first thing that struck me, and I imagine most readers, is the heavy use of Scottish vernacular. For the most part, it is easy enough to determine what is intended and it adds to the authenticity of the story. However, some readers may find it frustrating. The next thing that I noticed was that it took a long time for Knox to enter the story. While this is the first in a trilogy exploring his life, much of this installment sets the stage for what is to come.


Elisabeth Hepburn is truly the protagonist of this tale, and she is a spunky one. A girl with romantic dreams of marrying for love, her future holds a rather different role for her. Women did not have many choices in those days, but Elisabeth makes the most of the situations that she is forced into without becoming anachronistic. It is through her that the reader is (finally) introduced to Knox.


Macpherson infuses this story with all of the drama, politics, religious unrest, and tragedy of the 16th century, and I look forward to continuing with the series.

Historic Places: Iceland

Finally, a new post on my blog! Enjoy a virtual trip to Iceland with me. :-)




Source: http://samanthawilcoxson.blogspot.com/2017/07/historic-places-iceland.html

A Different Journey: Mary Tudor by Lassie Gaffney

A Different Journey - Mary Tudor - Lassie Gaffney

The premise of this book drew me in. Anyone who knows me knows that I would love to have seen a happier ending for Mary Tudor (Henry VIII's daughter, not his sister). In this novel, the author attempts to rewrite history with Mary becoming a young wife and mother but never queen. And that is when the problems started.


The idea that Catherine of Aragon and her daughter would each decide to forgo Mary's birthright in order to keep Henry content starts this story off on the wrong foot for me. After all, in reality, the were both willing to sacrifice almost anything to ensure that Mary's (and Catherine's) position was recognized. This is just the first of many implausible changes in historical events and people that occurs. I understand that this is an alternate history. That's why I picked it up, but to be enjoyable it still needs to make sense based on what we know of the real people and events.


I could have accepted the historical changes if the novel was at least entertaining, but it is written almost entirely in stilted dialogue. It is tricky to write dialogue that comes across as realistic but without the ordinary level of repetition. The dialogue in this book not only doesn't sound like what people would actually say ('That's a shame' when a close family member dies, for example), but the reader is forced to endure things being repeated for the benefit of different characters.


The whole thing just reads like a first draft. There's potential here. I LOVE the idea of Mary being married to Reginald Pole, whether she became queen or not, but this needs more editing and polishing to make it a great story.

I've been absent again....

but for good reason!



Darth Plagueis by James Luceno

Darth Plagueis - James Luceno

Who can resist the inside scoop on the mysterious Darth Plagueis whose story is used to help tip Anikan toward the dark side? Well, not me. I was eager to learn more about this Sith who had supposedly controlled life and death though had not been able to avoid his own.


I must agree with other reviewers on two points. First, this novel is misleadingly titled. It becomes more and more about Darth Sidious and less about Plagueis from the moment Palpatine steps into the picture. Second, it does read differently than other Star Wars novels. There is less action and more plotting & politics. Neither of these points make it a bad story, but it was also not quite what I expected.


The history given in this book ties so many events and people to the Sith Grand Plan that it almost becomes too much. Forget Sidious tricking the rebels into ambushes, Plagueis has been ordering the entire damn universe for decades before Luke & Leia are born. It's interesting, maybe a bit unbelievable, but, hey, this is Star Wars. I was intrigued at how the author brought it all together.


Plagueis is an interesting character, brilliant and always a step ahead of everyone, which makes it all the more confounding when he doesn't see that Sidious will not share power with him for the long run. I mean, really, co-chancellors? That was the plan? How did he not see that failing? Ah well, that disappointment aside, this book was a great addition to the Star Wars EU.

Bibliophile Happiness

I was just about ready to cave in to Audible's $99/year sale when I was reminded to check out Hoopla. So many more books than are available through my library in Overdrive! I am one happy bibliophile without being a hundred dollars poorer. Hooray!

Who Was Margarett Keymes?

Was she an unknown daughter of Cecily of York? Did Katherine Gordon mean to show her everlasting belief in her first husband when she mentioned her in her will? I'm not sure. What do you think?


A look at a little historical mystery on my blog today.

Source: http://samanthawilcoxson.blogspot.com/2017/06/who-was-margarett-keymes.html

The King's Hounds by Martin Jensen

The King's Hounds (The King's Hounds series) - Martin Jensen
This was a fun, easy to listen to audiobook mystery. Some annoying anachronistic words were sprinkled throughout, but I assumed that was due to it being a translation and was forgiving regarding them.

The mystery, which our lovable protagonists have no good reason to be in charge of solving, involves the murder of a nobleman just as Cnut is gathering them to confirm his kingship. How inconvenient. The unlikely pair find their way into plenty of trouble, prove their womanizing skills, and even solve the murder. It is all a bit meandering but in good fun. This isn't a edge of your seat suspense novel, but an enjoyable diversion.

The skilled narrator bumped up the rating on this for me. Considering it is free through Kindle Unlimited, this is a worthwhile selection.

Three Giveaways - Win any of the three--and you get a copy of all three!

Reblogged from Patricia Reding, Author, Press Release:



Links are at www.PatriciaReding.com.


Time is running out. The giveaways end on June 21, 2017.

The Spanish Rescue or When Mary Had Her Chance to Flee

Read a chapter from Queen of Martyrs!


Source: http://samanthawilcoxson.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-spanish-rescue-or-when-mary-had-her.html

He made it!

Sorry about being absent for a few days. I am officially now the mom of the only senior at Edwardsburg High School to heel click off the stage at graduation!


While the World is Still Asleep by Petra Durst-Benning

While the World Is Still Asleep - Petra Durst-Benning, Edwin Miles

This book was excruciatingly dull and was only made worse by horrible audio narration. The story takes place in Berlin, but only a few people have thick German accents, while the main characters sound more American than I do. Odd anachronisms and two-dimensional characters didn't help the slow plot along either.

Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Lost Stars - Claudia Gray, Phil Noto

A few years back, I read nothing but Star Wars. I was a little addicted, but reading predictable stories about Luke, Leia, Han & their broods eventually got boring. The more recent influx of novels digging deeper into the traditional stories has some promise.

This novel gives the reader a personal view of how young people grew up after the end of the Clone Wars wanting to serve the Empire. The institution that is clearly evil in the movies isn't seen the same way by those who are raised on Imperial propaganda and 'history' lessons. I love the fact that this author gave us two main characters who grew up on the same planet and are close friends, but who end up with very different views of the Empire.

Ciena and Thane experience the events that we are already familiar with from a more personal point of view. They have friends on Alderaan and on the Death Star. Who is 'good' and who is 'bad' isn't nearly as clear to them as it is to us. The Empire has taught them not to question, only to obey, but they see too much to remain unaffected. In the meantime, they are young adults struggling to figure out their feelings for each other as well.

I thought this novel went deeper into characters and emotions than many other Star Wars stories that I have read, which made it much more enjoyable for me. We have enough shallow 'the good guys won again' action stories. This book points out what we always knew had to be true - the good guys are everywhere trying to do the best they can with what they've been given.

I may be addicted again.

From the Scriptorium: June 2017


June 2017 Newsletter

Source: http://samanthawilcoxson.blogspot.com/2017/06/from-scriptorium-june-2017.html

Cover Reveal - Kindle Box Set


Thanks or all the great feedback and tips! I hope you like how it turned out.

Day 9: The Execution of Henry Pole

I imagine this was the lowest point in Margaret's life - her son executed for his role in the supposed Exeter Conspiracy.


Source: http://samanthawilcoxson.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-execution-of-henry-pole.html