Books On Sale

Witches, Contemporary – and Historical Nonfiction about Embroidery!

  • Embroidering Her Truth

    Embroidering Her Truth by Clare Hunter

    Embroidering Her Truth: Mary, Queen of Scots and the Language of Power by Clare Hunter is .99c! This book jumped out at me because it’s an examination of how Mary, Queen of Scots used textiles, embroidery, and color to communicate and convey power. This book has a 4.13 star average on StoryGraph, and a 4.26 star average on Goodreads. It also won an award as Scottish History Book of the Year in 2022! Have you read this book?

    I felt that Mary was there, pulling at my sleeve, willing me to appreciate the artistry, wanting me to understand the dazzle of the material world that shaped her.

    At her execution Mary, Queen of Scots wore red. Widely known as the colour of strength and passion, it was in fact worn by Mary as the Catholic symbol of martyrdom.

    In sixteenth-century Europe women’s voices were suppressed and silenced. Even for a queen like Mary, her prime duty was to bear sons. In an age when textiles expressed power, Mary exploited them to emphasise her female agency. From her lavishly embroidered gowns as the prospective wife of the French Dauphin to the fashion dolls she used to encourage a Marian style at the Scottish court and the subversive messages she embroidered in captivity for her supporters, Mary used textiles to advance her political agenda, affirm her royal lineage and tell her own story.

    In this eloquent cultural biography, Clare Hunter exquisitely blends history, politics and memoir to tell the story of a queen in her own voice.

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  • The Forever Girl

    The Forever Girl by Jill Shalvis

    The Forever Girl by Jill Shalvis is $1.99! This is book 6 in the Wildstone series, and features found family, a second chance romance, and, as usual, a large cast of interesting characters. It has a 4+ star average on Goodreads, and 3.96 on StoryGraph, where readers say it’s emotional, hopeful, and funny – sounds about right! Have you read this book, or the series?

    USA Today Bestseller

    New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis does it once again with a heartfelt story of family, forgiveness, and secrets that have the power to change the course of more than one life.

    When Maze returns to Wildstone for the wedding of her estranged bff and the sister of her heart, it’s also a reunion of a once ragtag team of teenagers who had only each other until a tragedy tore them apart and scattered them wide.

    Now as adults together again in the lake house, there are secrets and resentments mixed up in all the amazing childhood memories. Unexpectedly, they instantly fall back into their roles: Maze their reckless leader, Cat the den mother, Heather the beloved baby sister, and Walker, a man of mystery.

    Life has changed all four of them in immeasurable ways. Maze and Cat must decide if they can rebuild their friendship, and Maze discovers her long-held attraction to Walker hasn’t faded with the years but has only grown stronger.


    Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

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  • The Ward Witch

    The Ward Witch by Sarah Painter

    The Ward Witch by Sarah Painter is $2.49! The first thing I need to tell you is that this is book 1 of a series called Unholy Island, and one of the lead characters is an innkeeper there. This story is “set in the same world as the urban fantasy mystery books, Crow Investigations, but it is the start of a separate series,” so if you’re a fan of that series, hooray, there’s more! This book has a 4.26-star average on Goodreads, and 3.88 on StoryGraph, where readers say it is very mysterious. Have you read this one? (NB: book 2 of the series, The Book Keeper is also available, and the ebook is $4.99.

    Mysterious, magical, and a little bit deadly… Welcome to Unholy Island.

    Esme Gray runs the guest house and tends to the ethereal wards that protect the island. She’s sheltering from a terrible past and will do anything to stay safely hidden.

    Luke Taylor has been searching for his missing twin for months, but has begun to believe that his brother might be dead. With his hope in tatters, a tip off leads him to a remote tidal island in the North Sea. It’s further out than the famous Holy Island, and far stranger.

    Visitors shouldn’t be able to stay for more than two nights, so when Luke breaks this rule, the close-knit community is sent into turmoil. The residents of Unholy Island have secrets and they intend to keep them.

    When Luke stumbles across one of the islanders dead on the shore, he finds himself under suspicion, made worse by his own troubles washing up on the tide.

    Esme is drawn to Luke, but she doesn’t trust her own instincts. That’s not ideal for a witch — especially when there is a killer on the loose and a storm is rolling in…

    The Ward Witch is the first book in a brand new contemporary fantasy series from the bestselling author of magical fiction, Sarah Painter.

    *The Ward Witch is set in the same world as the urban fantasy mystery books, Crow Investigations, but it is the start of a separate series and can be enjoyed independently.

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    This book is on sale at:
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    As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
    We also may use affiliate links in our posts, as well. Thanks!

  • It Had to Be a Duke

    It Had to Be a Duke by Vivienne Lorret

    It Had to Be a Duke by Vivienne Lorret is $1.99! This is book 1 of The Liars’ Club series, and features a fake engagement. Amanda reviewed this one, and gave it a C, saying “There’s a lot of ‘eldest child managing the emotions of relatives or handling the family baggage’ with both main characters.” Amanda also mentioned some excellent side characters, including a cheeky reverend, and an heiress who likes inventing things. Sometimes I know y’all are looking for effervescent historicals to read, and this seems like it might fit the bill. Have you read this one?

    USA Today bestselling author Vivienne Lorret launches a new series with a sparkling romance about a spinster, a duke, and a fake engagement that blurs the lines between enemies and lovers…

    Verity Hartley always tells the truth. Well, mostly. However, when her snooty neighbor returns to their small hamlet to brag about having a grand Season, a plethora of ballgowns, and so many suitors that she cannot possibly decide which one to marry, Verity tells a lie. She claims to be betrothed. To a duke. Who happens to be her family’s sworn enemy. But what are the odds that he would ever learn of this one, little, harmless falsehood?

    Magnus Warring, the Duke of Longhurst, is on the precipice of marrying an heiress to save his estate from financial ruin. At least, he was. Until he hears an unbelievable rumor that he is already betrothed. To the daughter of a liar, cheat, and swindler! Needing to protect his reputation, he hunts down the culprit. And when he finds the untamed beguiler, she has the audacity to ask him to lie for her. To pretend to be her fiancé!

    One week, that’s all Verity needs. Then Magnus can return to his life. But nothing is ever that simple. Sometimes it doesn’t take that long to fall in love, even with the enemy.

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Add Your Comment →

  1. Todd says:

    A while ago, I watched a program on PBS about how Elizabeth I used her clothing (mostly in paintings, etc.) to project an image of her as powerful and all-knowing. She also used huge numbers of pearls to emphasize her “Virgin Queen” status.

  2. SB Sarah says:

    It’s so interesting to me that fashion and couture is dismissed by a lot of people as meaningless when it’s a tool to convey a LOT, and used to be a whole language. I love learning about how the clothing of a time period communicated power or strategy, and was used as management of what we now call “personal brand” or persona.

  3. Kris Bock says:

    Coffee and Crushes at the Cat Café is 99 cents everywhere. It has 4.4 stars on Amazon with over 400 ratings and 4.2 stars on GoodReads with over 290 ratings.

    Kari doesn’t have time for love when she’s opening her new cat café. She’s busy hiring employees, fighting with the health inspector – oh, and welcoming 16 shelter cats. But when a sexy master baker walks in, she can’t let him get away.

  4. Caro says:

    I saw a tremendous amount of Mary’s embroidery on my first trip to England because it coincided with the 400th anniversary of her execution. Among the pieces was her work of a “catte” with a mouse. The photos lose something but in person, it’s easy to see the cat is supposed to be Elizabeth, with the ginger cat having “hair” on its head in a decided shade of orange arranged in tight curls. She then put her cipher in gold above the mouse, in case anyone missed the point. The face also bears a resemblance to the official face used in Elizabeth’s portraits. The canvas has warped slightly with the passing centuries, and if it could be properly blocked (which it shouldn’t be because probably quite fragile), I think the resemblance would be even more pointed.

  5. Ellen says:

    Just before seeing this post, I read an article on the Washington Post about Jill Biden’s fashion choices and their meaning at yesterday’s State Dinner! Thank you for flagging this book! I bought it and I will be looking for the PBS documentary Todd mentioned.

  6. SB Sarah says:

    @Caro – thank you for sharing this! I looked it up and WOW. I love a petty queen of embroidery.

  7. Ellen says:

    @SB Sarah – Yes! I really liked the article and now you all have sent me down a lovely rabbit hole of books and documentaries on fashion and hand crafts as communication and propoganda!

  8. HeatherS says:

    @SB Sarah – It reminds me, since I was just watching the BEST “Pride & Prejudice” yesterday (1995 BBC, accept no imitations), of how people used to be able to calculate someone’s income and social status by their clothing – the cut, fabric quality, lace, etc.

    It’s really fascinating because now we rely on labels to know if someone has money or not, but it’s the new-money people who wear designer logos on everything. Really rich, generational wealth-type rich, people have tailors and don’t wear logos. I read an article about it and the fact that someone could have money like that just boggles my mind.

  9. SB Sarah says:

    @HeatherS: belated Eid Mubarak! The way clothing instantly communicates class and wealth if one knows the language is MIND BLOWING, isn’t it? I think about how items from fashion lines like The Row, founded by the Olsen twins from Full House, don’t even have a LABEL inside because they’re so exclusive (and expensive, gee whiz). And how bespoke clothing carries its own signs and “tells.”

    It’s fascinating to me, too! It’s all a weird mix of power and wealth when you have so much money that the bespoke jacket you bought 30 years ago still holds up, AND you have enough social and class currency that you don’t have to give any craps about what people think of your attire if it does look shabby (it probably doesn’t). There’s dressing the part, and then dressing beyond the part, where you don’t even have to pretend to care, because you don’t. Truly boggling.

    @Ellen: ME TOO This rabbit hole is fulsome and very enjoyable!!

  10. Darlynne says:

    @Sarah SB: Apologies, I thought you’d want to know that fulsome doesn’t mean what most people think:

    Excessively flattering or insincerely earnest.
    Similar: unctuous
    Disgusting or offensive.
    Copious or abundant.

    As someone who said “onerous” to a favorite author because I thought it meant “honored,” well, it happens.

  11. SB Sarah says:

    @Darlynee: Well, holy crap. I wonder what word I was thinking of? I know I’ve seen “fulsome” used as “extensive” or “a heck of a lot,” like “fulsome praise.”

    OK, the Merriam usage guide is awesome on this word:

    “The senses shown above are the chief living senses of fulsome. Sense 2, which was a generalized term of disparagement in the late 17th century, is the least common of these. Fulsome became a point of dispute when sense 1 [copious], thought to be obsolete in the 19th century, began to be revived in the 20th. The dispute was exacerbated by the fact that the large dictionaries of the first half of the century missed the beginnings of the revival. Sense 1 has not only been revived but has spread in its application and continues to do so. The chief danger for the user of fulsome is ambiguity. Unless the context is made very clear, the reader or hearer cannot be sure whether such an expression as “fulsome praise” is meant in sense 1b or in sense 4 [“excessive”].”

    Now that I’ve spent a few minutes with a thesaurus, I proclaim the rabbit hole luxuriant and bounteous, if not cornucopian.

    I’m going to use “cornucopian” in every third sentence. Dinner is going to be fun.

  12. Kelly L. says:

    That Mary Queen of Scots book is…Relevant To My Interests. I’m not sure I ever slammed 1-click so hard.

  13. Katy L says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the Mary Queen of Scots book. I’ve been wanting to read it, and none of the libraries in the area (including mine!) have it. If I like it, I may have to suggest we purchase it, since we have an extensive – even fulsome – collection on Mary. I echo @Kelly L’s comment.

  14. flchen1 says:

    – Dexterity Check (Dungeons and Dating Book 5) by Katherine McIntyre
    – Seducing Steve by Maggie Wells
    – Her Beast by S.M. LaViolette

    – The Hellion and the Hero by Emily Sullivan

    – Swipe Right for a Cowboy (Riverrun Ranch Book 1) by Karen Foley
    – Sweet Spot (Smart Jocks) by Rebecca Jenshak

  15. Madscientistnz says:

    Really enjoyed The Ward Witch, a different feel to her other series, slower and more character focussed. There’s a lot of mysteries and stories to learn about the residents of Unholy Island, and I’m looking forward to finding out.

  16. LisaM says:

    I recently read THE DRESS DIARY by Dr Kate Strasdin, about an album of cloth samples collected and annotated by a 19th century British woman named Anna Sykes, identifying clothes she and her friends/family wore. I learned so much from it. The author talked about how clothing and fashion have been routinely dismissed by historians – as women’s work, women’s frivolity.

    I just picked up the most gorgeous book from the library, JANE AUSTEN’S WARDROBE, by Hilary Davison. The illustrations, y’all, you have to see them – both of Austen’s actual clothes and period illustrations. I don’t know if I can give this one back.

  17. Laura George says:

    @LisaM:Hilary Davidson’s work is terrific. You would also probably love her book DRESS IN THE AGE OF JANE AUSTEN. She’s speaking at the JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) in Cleveland this fall.

  18. cleo says:

    @SB Sarah @HeatherS @ellen – I’m so enjoying this conversation! I meant to post this yesterday, about how Madeleine Albright used jewelry to express opinions she couldn’t actually say out loud as Secretary of State.

  19. SB Sarah says:

    @Cleo I LOVE THIS ARTICLE SO MUCH. I’ve never seen this before! I knew that Albright used to have an aide whose job was to carry her bag because she wanted to enter rooms with both arms free like the men did, which I thought was really clever. But oh, this is freaking cool. Thank you for sharing this!

  20. Ellen says:

    @cleo I LOVE THAT! And you totally reminded me of this other article about Justice Ginsburg’s collars and the meaning behind them:

    I bought the dissent collar a while ago and wear it often.

  21. Susan Chapek says:

    I read and loved THE DRESS DIARY (Kate Strasdin) too. The subject of the book kept the scrapbook between roughly 1860 to 1880. (I’m probably a bit off on those dates, because I read the public library’s copy. But wanted people to know that this is Early Vic, not Regency and not later Vic.)
    Loads of stuff on dyes and printed fabrics–wild prints! wild colors!

  22. SB Sarah says:

    @Susan, @LisaM: OH MY GOSH this book sounds incredible!

    Y’all, the description of The Dress Diary made my brain hungry like my stomach when fries are in the vicinity:

    In 1838, a young woman was given a diary on her wedding day. Collecting snippets of fabric from a range of garments – some her own, others donated by family and friends – she carefully annotated each one, creating a unique record of their lives. Her name was Mrs Anne Sykes.

    Nearly two hundred years later, the diary fell into the hands of Kate Strasdin, a fashion historian and museum curator. Using her expertise, Strasdin spent the next six years unraveling the secrets contained within the album’s pages, and the lives of the people within.  Her findings are remarkable.  Piece by piece, she charts Anne’s journey from the mills of Lancashire to the port of Singapore before tracing her return to England in later years. Fragments of cloth become windows into Victorian life: pirates in Borneo, the complicated etiquette of mourning, poisonous dyes, the British Empire in full swing, rioting over working conditions, and the terrible human cost of Britain’s cotton industry. This is life writing that celebrates ordinary people: not the grandees of traditional written histories, but the hidden figures, the participants in everyday life. Through the evidence of waistcoats, ball gowns, and mourning outfits, Strasdin lays bare the whole of human experience in the most intimate of mediums: the clothes we choose to wear.

  23. LisaM says:

    @SB Sarah @Susan Dr Strasdin was a guest on the BBC History podcast, discussing the diary and her research – that’s how I was introduced to her book:

    @Laura George Thank you! I will check for that book as well. At our last JASNA chpater meeting here in Houston, we had someone asking for recommendations of books on Regency fashion. I will take these titles to the next meeting for her. I hope to attend an annual meeting one of these years. I’m still sorry I missed the Victoria BC meeting, it’s one of my favorite cities.

  24. HeatherS says:

    Honestly, there should be a post just on books about Jane Austen that we love and why.

  25. Floating Lush says:

    For anyone interested, Clare Hunter’s first book Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle is also excellent and fascinating. I have borrowed and enjoyed both through the library. She’s got a website:

  26. Ellen says:

    @HeatherS Strong agree on that one! For anyone interested, there Wondrium course called The Life and Works of Jane Austen taught by Dr. Devoney Looser that is just the BEST. If you have a subscription to Kanopy through your local library, it is on there and I highly recommend it. Dr. Looser has also written several books, including The Making of Jane Austen, which I have purchased but haven’t read yet.

    @Floating Lush, thank you for another book I’m excited to add to my TBR.

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