(Review) The Monastery Murders: A Stanton and Barling Mystery by E.M. Powell


03_The Monastery Murders_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

02_The Monastery Murders

Publisher and Publication Date: Thomas & Mercer. September 27, 2018.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Series: Stanton and Barling #2.
Pages: 288.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Recommend. Good.
Audience: Readers of mystery books and medieval history.

The ebook on Amazon Kindle Unlimited is free right now.

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Their lives are ones of quiet contemplation—and brutal murder.
Christmas Eve, 1176. Brother Maurice, monk of Fairmore Abbey, awaits the night prayer bell. But there is only silence. Cursing his fellow brother Cuthbert’s idleness, he seeks him out—and in the darkness, finds him brutally murdered.
Summoned from London to the isolated monastery on the Yorkshire Moors, Aelred Barling, clerk to the King’s justices, and his messenger Hugo Stanton, set about investigating the horrific crime. They quickly discover that this is far from a quiet monastic house. Instead, it seethes with bitter feuds, rivalries and resentments. But no sooner do they arrive than the killer strikes again—and again.
When Barling discovers a pattern to these atrocities, it becomes apparent that the murderer’s rampage is far from over. With everyone, including the investigators, now fearing for their lives, can Barling and Stanton unmask the culprit before more blood is spilled?

03_E.M. Powell

About the author:
E.M. Powell’s historical thriller Fifth Knight novels have been #1 Amazon and Bild bestsellers. The King’s Justice is the first novel in her new Stanton and Barling medieval murder mystery series. She is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers’ The Big Thrill magazine, blogs for English Historical Fiction Authors and is the social media manager for the Historical Novel Society.
Born and raised in the Republic of Ireland into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State), she now lives in North-West England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog.
Find out more by visiting www.empowell.com. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

My Thoughts:
Early in the book there is a story about a bear being attacked by dogs. This was a source of entertainment for the townspeople: a bear being attacked by dogs in a pit. It’s not that I like this sort of thing, but it is an ingenious sub-story. This event gave me a perspective of that era. Their type of entertainment and sport was bear-baiting. This leads me to my first reason for liking this book: The Monastery Murders gave me a strong view of life in 1176 in North Yorkshire, England.
The mystery of the book is deaths that take place in a monastery. A monastery is not the sort of place where gruesome murders are committed. And, all of this begins at Christmas time. So, the opposite of what I’d expect in a murder case is turned upside down by the date and place. I like this unexpected aspect of the story.
Hugo Stanton and Aelred Barling are the two men who work together to solve the murders. Barling is a senior clerk in the court of King Henry. Stanton is a messenger with the law court. They’d solved a case several months ago (this must have been in book one.) Stanton is the pupil of Barling. Stanton is a younger and handsomer man. Stanton has charm and is a physical type man. Whereas, Barling is described as “pale skin” and “thin face.” Barling comes across to me as a brooding, secretive type man. Later in the story a personal mystery about Barling will be revealed that explained my suspicions.
I enjoyed reading The Monastery Murders, but was not swept up in the story as I’d liked, and this is why I gave the book a good rating.


(Review) They Fought Alone: The True Story of the Starr Brothers, British Secret Agents in Nazi-Occupied France by Charles Glass


Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Press. September 11, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction. World War II. Memoir. Secret Service.
Pages: 336.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Recommend. Very good.
Audience: World War II readers.


Included are 46 illustrations and a six page list of characters.

I love the opening line of the prologue: “The German occupation of France, as Dickens wrote of the French Revolution, was the best and the worst of times.”
In mid 1940, Nazi Germany invaded France, and the French people lived under Germany’s heavy rule until late summer of 1944.
During the occupation, the French Resistance worked to collect information and sabotage German efforts.
The Starr brothers were George Reginald Starr and John Ashford Renshaw Starr. Their father was born in America, but the brothers were born in England. These brothers joined the new organization of SOE or Special Operations Executive. The brothers worked in different areas of France. One of them was arrested, tortured, and spent time in a prison. Later, one of the brothers was accused of war crimes. An investigation proceeded.
They Fought Alone is the story of the Starr brothers, but shares the stories of many of the SOE and Resistance workers during the occupation of France.

My Thoughts:
The previous book I reviewed on the same kind of topic was Long Live Freedom, about resistance efforts in Germany. Their group was named the White Rose. Both Long Live Freedom and They Fought Alone are nonfiction, neither are narrative nonfiction. They are journalistic or academic. They Fought Alone is chronological in time and this is helpful to the reader.

What I loved about the book:
•For the most part it is chronological in sequence of dates and events.
•The historical characters are shown with their positive and negative traits. They are described with a transparent and unbiased view.
•The agents had code names, and at times I had to remember who was who. However, I did not become lost as the list of characters in the front of the book helped.
•The Resistance and SOE work is shown in the book. Operations and how they were carried out as well as the results.
•A strong aspect of the book is the history surrounding one of the brothers who was accused of war crimes. After all he’d endured, he was accused and investigated.



(Review) Long Live Freedom! Traute Lafrenz and the White Rose by Peter Normann Waage, translated by DiMari Bailey


Publisher and Publication Date: Cuidono Press. July 24, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction. Memoir.
Pages: 256.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Recommend. Very good.
Audience: World War II readers.


DiMari Bailey


In 1942, a group of students in Munich wrote and distributed leaflets that went against Nazi Germany. These writings encouraged the German people to question and resist Nazi Germany. It was Heinrich Himmler who had the group of students arrested and murdered. A young woman named Traute Lafrenz was a member of the group. This group was named the White Rose. Later in life, Lafrenz gave an interview to Peter Normann Waage.
It’s important to note that the book begins with the arrest of the group of students in 1943. Then, the book backs up to tell the complete story of the people involved. Several of the students lives are shared. The book does not just focus on Traute Lafrenz, but other students.
Peter Normann Waage is a Norwegian philosopher and journalist.
DiMari Bailey is the translator of the book from Norwegian to English. In addition, Bailey edited the original work for this book. The preface explains Bailey’s other sources, focus, and organization.

My Thoughts:
The only thing about this book I did not like is the moving around in time, back and forth with different years. This is a common practice in a fiction book. I’m not used to this in a nonfiction history book.
A point that readers will want to know is this is not a narrative nonfiction work. It is a nonfiction retelling about the events, reflections from Lafrenz, letters, and the leaflets.
The story of the White Rose is not something I’d read about. World War II is one of my favorite genres. Books about the German people rising up against their government is not as prevalent. I feel this book is important, because it shows that their were individuals and groups of German people who defied Nazi Germany.
An important feature of the book was Hitler’s impact on the German people. When he spoke with fervor and emotion, the people responded in like. I’d wanted to understand a bit more about what Hitler did to cause people to blindly follow his insane rhetoric. This book not only answered my curiosity, but it was a thorough analysis.
On page 68, it is explained that an American journalist had visited Germany in the 1930s. This journalist, John Gunther, witnessed how the German people responded to Hitler. This proceeds the fascinating and disturbing information about the goals of the Nazi Party, especially in regards to the Jews.
On page 122, the rise of the resistance begins. This includes the assassination attempts on Hitler.
I feel this is an important book. It showed me the resistance of the White Rose, but the book held heavy information about Hitler and the German people.
Included in the back of the book are the leaflets that were printed.


2019 Georgian Reading Challenge


Georgian Reading Challenge

The following is copy and pasted from the original sign-up post:

Georgian Reading Challenge
Host: Becky’s Book Reviews (sign up here)
Duration: December 1, 2018 – December 31, 2019
# of books: minimum four

Georgian Era can be defined as either 1714-1830 OR 1744-1837. You may choose how you want to define it in terms of the reading challenge. It covers the reigns of George I, George II, George III, and George IV of England. (If you go with the later definition, it also includes the oh-so-brief reign of William IV.) This includes the REGENCY PERIOD but is more inclusive.

There will be seven check-in posts. February 16, 2019; April 6, 2019; May 18, 2019; July 6, 2019; September 7, 2019; November 2, 2019. December 28, 2019.

IF you love reading AND you happen to love tea…consider joining my Share-a-Tea reading challenge.

“Official” theme song: Born 2 Rule (The Four Georges)

What counts:
Novels, poems, plays, short stories, novellas, letters, diaries, essays, nonfiction published in Great Britain (or its colonies) during the Georgian era.
Nonfiction books published about the Georgian era. Including, of course, biographies on the royal family.
Historical fiction set during the Georgian era.
Books, e-books, audio books.
Movies and television series set during this period–if you review them–can count. But try to keep things balanced.
You may make a list if you want to plan ahead…or read according to your whimsy.


I’m signing up to read 4 in 2019.
The first book I’ll read is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Published in 1813.
My copy is a beautiful, large, hardcover edition by the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2010.


Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge 2019

share a tea challenge

Share-a-Tea Challenge is hosted by Becky @ Becky’s Book Reviews.
This is the link for the challenge and to sign-up:
Pasted from Becky’s Book Reviews:

Love drinking tea? Love reading books? Love reading a book while drinking tea? Have I got a reading challenge for you! In 2019, I’ll be hosting the Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge again.

Who can join? Anyone who enjoys reading. You don’t need to have a blog. You don’t need to have a twitter account.

Are coffee drinkers welcome? Well. You can still join in, I suppose. But you might be outnumbered by tea drinkers.

Which books count towards the challenge? Any book that you primarily read while drinking tea. Not every single page needs to have been read while drinking tea. (I’m not that strict!!!) But this challenge is all about celebrating SLOWING DOWN and SAVORING the moments.

How many books? Is there a set minimum? This challenge is about QUALITY and not quantity. It’s not about reading fifty books or even twelve books. This is an anti-rush reading challenge. Enjoy where you are in a book, and, engage fully in it. Live in the book.

This challenge has a focus on SHARING. How can you share? Several ways:

1) When you sign up in a comment below, share one favorite tea and one favorite book. And if you’ve got one handy: a favorite quote.
2) If you write a post on your blog announcing the challenge (and making a place to keep track of what you’ve read), consider sharing a bit about yourself–your reading and drinking habits. You might consider a longer list of recommendations!
3) If you’re on twitter, tweet me as often as you like. @blbooks OR @operationbible Tweet about favorite teas, favorite books, favorite authors, favorite quotes, what you’re currently reading, what you’ve just finished reading, etc.
4) Consider adding me and fellow participants to your blogroll, and cheer on other participants by reading reviews and leaving comments.
5) At the end of each month, I’ll publish a check-in post. You can leave comments sharing what you’re reading, what you’ve read, tea recommendations, etc. Even if you haven’t finished a book, you can share where you’re at. Remember, it isn’t about how many books you read per month! I plan on posting a check-in post on the FOURTH SATURDAY of every month. The check-in posts for 2019 will be January 26, February 23, March 23, April 27, May 25, June 22, July 27, August 24, September 28, October 26, November 23, December 28.


My drinking habits are coffee in the morning, water all day, tea later in the day-preferably decaf tea. My favorite tea is Wholefoods 365 Everyday Value Organic, Rooibos Tea, Orange Vanilla Crème. This is the link at Amazon. 40 tea bags for $3.99.

The book I will read for the first check-in post on January 26 is Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I read this book years and years ago. I’m planning to read it on Kindle ebook. I think it’s the perfect first read for Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge. 

January 26, 2019—–Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen 
February 23, 2019—–
March 23, 2019—–
April 27, 2019—–
May 25, 2019—–
June 22, 2019—–
July 27, 2019—–
August 24, 2019—–
September 28, 2019—–
October 26, 2019—–
November 23, 2019—–
December 28, 2019—–

Happy Reading!