Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

Jacquetta, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and kinswoman to half the royalty of Europe, was married to the great Englishman John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI. Widowed at the age of nineteen she took the extraordinary risk of marrying a gentleman of her house-hold for love, and then carved out a life for herself as Queen Margaret of Anjou's close friend and a Lancaster supporter - until the day that her daughter Elizabeth Woodville fell in love and married the rival king Edward IV. Of all the little-known but important women of the period, her dramatic story is the most neglected. With her links to Melusina, and to the founder of the house of Luxembourg, together with her reputation for making magic, she is the most haunting of heroines.

Philippa Gregory's book The Other Boyeln Girl was the book that started my love for Historical Fiction, I just loved that book along with 2 others in that series.  I looked forward to her new series The War of the Rose also known as the Cousins War with high hopes.
This is book 3 in the  series.  The Red Queen was about Elizabeth Woodville, so we did see her mother in this one.  The White Queen was about Margaret Beaufort.  

So now we turn to Jacquetta, mother of Elizabeth Woodville.  The book started off so nicely, there was Joan of Arc, her ties to Melusina and what I thought was a great beginning.  Everything flowed together so nicely, I looked forward to reading more.   There was her marriage to John, Duke of Bedford, widowhood and then falling in love with Richard Woodville.  About half way through I felt it started to slow down somewhat.  The friendship between the Queen and Jacquetta didn't seem genuine to me, I actually found the Queen to be somewhat spoiled, but that is my opinion, and she very well might have been.  There was baby after baby (seriously I lost count as to how many there were and I found myself wondering what her body looked like after all those pregnancies).

It was still an interesting story, not as good as The Other Boleyn Girl and I am glad to have read it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls' golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It's Brynn—shy, quiet Brynn—who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her.

But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister. Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.

Paperback, 337 pages

Published January 18th 2011 by Mira
library copy

Sometimes you just need a break from Historical Fiction, this book was my break.

I am trying to come up with words to describe this book, but I can't. It took all of 3 days to read it. I was drawn in right away, it had emotion, it had mystery and surprises. Given the subject matter it sounds strange (sadistic even) to say I enjoyed this book, but I did.

Heather Gudenkauf is a new author to me and I will read more of her works.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Daughters of Rome By Kate Quinn

A.D. 69. Nero is dead. 

The Roman Empire is up for the taking. With bloodshed spilling out of the palace and into the streets of Rome, chaos has become the status quo. The Year of Four Emperors will change everything—especially the lives of two sisters with a very personal stake in the outcome…. 

Elegant and ambitious, Cornelia embodies the essence of the perfect Roman wife. She lives to one day see her loyal husband as Emperor. Her sister, Marcella, is more withdrawn, content to witness history rather than make it. Even so, Marcella has her share of distinguished suitors, from a cutthroat contender for the throne to a politician’s son who swears that someday he will be Emperor. 

But when a bloody coup turns their world upside down, Cornelia and Marcella—along with their cousins, one a collector of husbands and lovers, the other a horse-mad beauty with no interest in romance—must maneuver carefully just to stay alive. As Cornelia tries to pick up the pieces of her shattered dreams, Marcella discovers a hidden talent for influencing the most powerful men in Rome. In the end, though, there can only be one Emperor … and one Empress.

I am a follower of Kate Quinn's blog, if you're not you should be, she is a hoot.  In one of her posting a reader was complaining about this book and how it was confusing because the story was about 4 girls all named Cornelia.  As a mother of 4 sons I could relate, there were plenty of days where I got confused too (and I didn't name them the same), so starting this book I was a little nervous.  

From the opening prologue this book grabbed me and really didn't let go.  I was able to tell one Cornelia from the other (nicknames did help alot).  Each Cornelia had a distinct personality and lifestyle and I got to each of them quite well.  Diana (Cornelia #4) was my favorite, she just knew exactly what she wanted, didn't care what anyone thought, just did her own thing.   But in the end she was always there for her family (loved the way she put an end to one wedding ceremony).