Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.
Hardcover, 608 pages
Expected publication: December 3rd 2013 by Ballantine Books

Many are familiar with the story of the much-married King Henry VIII of England and the celebrated reign of his daughter, Elizabeth I. But it is often forgotten that the life of the first Tudor queen, Elizabeth of York, Henry’s mother and Elizabeth’s grandmother, spanned one of England’s most dramatic and perilous periods. Now New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir presents the first modern biography of this extraordinary woman, whose very existence united the realm and ensured the survival of the Plantagenet bloodline.

Her birth was greeted with as much pomp and ceremony as that of a male heir. The first child of King Edward IV, Elizabeth enjoyed all the glittering trappings of royalty. But after the death of her father; the disappearance and probable murder of her brothers—the Princes in the Tower; and the usurpation of the throne by her calculating uncle Richard III, Elizabeth found her world turned upside-down: She and her siblings were declared bastards.

As Richard’s wife, Anne Neville, was dying, there were murmurs that the king sought to marry his niece Elizabeth, knowing that most people believed her to be England’s rightful queen. Weir addresses Elizabeth’s possible role in this and her covert support for Henry Tudor, the exiled pretender who defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth and was crowned Henry VII, first sovereign of the House of Tudor. Elizabeth’s subsequent marriage to Henry united the houses of York and Lancaster and signaled the end of the Wars of the Roses. For centuries historians have asserted that, as queen, she was kept under Henry’s firm grasp, but Weir shows that Elizabeth proved to be a model consort—pious and generous—who enjoyed the confidence of her husband, exerted a tangible and beneficial influence, and was revered by her son, the future King Henry VIII.

Drawing from a rich trove of historical records, Weir gives a long overdue and much-deserved look at this unforgettable princess whose line descends to today’s British monarch—a woman who overcame tragedy and danger to become one of England’s most beloved consorts.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields (Book Tour)

 click on banner for list of stops on this tour

For fans of The Paris Wife, a sparkling glimpse into the life of Edith Wharton and the scandalous love affair that threatened her closest friendship.

They say that behind every great man is a great woman. Behind Edith Wharton, there was Anna Bahlmann—her governess turned literary secretary and confidante. At the age of forty-five, despite her growing fame, Edith remains unfulfilled in a lonely, sexless marriage. Against all the rules of Gilded Age society, she falls in love with Morton Fullerton, a dashing young journalist. But their scandalous affair threatens everything in Edith’s life—especially her abiding ties to Anna.

At a moment of regained popularity for Wharton, Jennie Fields brilliantly interweaves Wharton’s real letters and diary entries with her fascinating, untold love story. Told through the points of view of both Edith and Anna, The Age of Desire transports readers to the golden days of Wharton’s turn-of-the century world and—like the recent bestseller The Chaperone—effortlessly re-creates the life of an unforgettable woman.


 What an interesting story.  It did take me a little bit to get into this book, once I got used to the writing style I did enjoy it.  To be very honest I never knew who Edith Wharton was until I read this book and I found myself lost in the story on many occasions.  This is also my first book by Jennie Fields.

I am not a big romance fan, this book I would not really label as romance.  Though it is about Edith's love affair with Morton Fullerton, I felt there was more to it.  And I really dislike saying too much of what happens in the book for fear of giving too much of the story away.

If the authors intent was to portray Edith as lonely, confused, selfish, insensitive and lacking compassion then she did a wonderful job.  Again I know nothing of Edith and this could very well be what she was like.  At times she was like a teenager, 'write me', 'don't write me', 'why isn't he writing'?  'Should I'? 'shouldn't I'?   She lived a glamorous life but still a very unhappy person and at times I did not like her.

Anna, her secretary was compassionate and caring. At times I was hoping something would happen between her and Teddy (Edith's husband).  

Jennie Fields did a wonderful job of bringing to life the early 1900's, from Paris to the United States she showed the social side of life for those with money and time.  She also showed a society that didnt grasp mental illness and the affect it had on family members and friends.  

I really liked how real letters and diary entries played into this book, brought more emotion to the story.  This book would appeal to those that like historical fiction based on real people.  The author was able to capture what life was like during this time period.

About the Author

Born in the heart of the heart of the country – Chicago -- Jennie Fields decided to become a writer at the age of six and produced her first (365 page!) novel when she was eleven.  She received her MFA at the Iowa Writers Workshop and published her first short stories while spending a postgraduate year at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.  But needing to feed her family  in the era just post-Mad Men, she became an early female copywriter at an advertising agency, soon rising to creative director and moving to New York.  In her 32-year advertising career, she wrote and produced many well-known and award-winning commercials.  People even now can embarrass her by telling her they grew up dancing to one of her McDonalds’ jingles. 

Still, fiction was her great love.  Writing during her lunch hour and after her daughter’s bedtime she penned her first novel, Lily Beach, which was published by Atheneum in 1993 to much acclaim.  Since then, she’s written three more novels including Crossing Brooklyn Ferry and The Middle Ages. Her latest, The Age of Desire, is a biographical novel based on the life of the author dearest to her heart, Edith Wharton.  An Editor’s Choice of the New York Times Book Review, it describes Wharton’s mid-life love affair with a younger, manipulative man.  Why the affinity to Wharton?  Because she wrote about people attempting to break society’s expectations for them – which is something Fields has been yearning to do all her life.

For more information, please visit Jennie's website.

  You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Waiting on Wednesday - Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: December 31st 2013 by Plume 
A sweeping historical debut about the Creole socialite who transformed herself into an empress

Readers are fascinated with the wives of famous men. In Becoming Josephine, debut novelist Heather Webb follows Rose Tascher as she sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris, eager to enjoy an elegant life at the royal court. Once there, however, Rose’s aristocratic soldier-husband dashes her dreams by abandoning her amid the tumult of the French Revolution. After narrowly escaping death, Rose reinvents herself as Josephine, a beautiful socialite wooed by an awkward suitor—Napoleon Bonaparte.

�A debut as bewitching as its protagonist.” —Erika Robuck, author of Hemingway’s Girl and Call Me Zelda

�Vivid and passionate.” —Susan Spann, author of The Shinobi Mysteries

Rose Tascher sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris to trade her Creole black magic culture for love and adventure. She arrives exultant to follow her dreams of attending Court with Alexandre, her elegant aristocrat and soldier husband. But Alexandre dashes her hopes and abandons her amid the tumult of the French Revolution.

Through her savoir faire, Rose secures her footing in high society, reveling in handsome men and glitzy balls—until the heads of her friends begin to roll.

After narrowly escaping death in the blood-drenched cells of Les Carmes prison, she reinvents herself as Josephine, a socialite of status and power. Yet her youth is fading, and Josephine must choose between a precarious independence and the love of an awkward suitor. Little does she know, he would become the most powerful man of his century- Napoleon Bonaparte.

BECOMING JOSEPHINE is a novel of one woman’s journey to find eternal love and stability, and ultimately to find herself.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A to Z survey

I stumbled upon this blog earlier this week and thought it would be fun to post this survey for everyone to share and give their thoughts If you like this check out Perpetual Pageturner

Author you've read the most books from - Diane Mott Davidson, 14 of them.  I've stopped reading because HF took over (and I was gaining weight - they have some wickedly good recipes)

Best Sequel Ever -An Echo in the Darkness by Francine River (Mark of the Lion Series)

Currently Reading - I usually read more than one book at a time.  For my audio it is The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham. The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields (for book tour) and enjoying a chapter or two a day of Falls the Shadow by Sharon Kay Penman (I am savoring this book and don't want this series to end)

Drink of Choice While Reading - Usually a flavored coffee.

E-reader or Physical Book - I have a kindle and prefer it, especially for larger books. Doesn't stop me from buying physical books also

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated in High School - Oh tough question,

Glad You Gave This Book a Chance - The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Hidden Gem Book - Daughters of Time by Josephine Tey

Important Moment in Your Reading Life - When I read The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory, which made me fall in love with Historical Fiction.

Just Finished - The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn

Kinds of Books You Won't Read - Science Fiction and Epic Fantasy

Longest Book You've Ever Read -  The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George - 964 pages (50 hours for audio)

Major book hangover because of - staying up way too late to finish a book

Number of Bookcases You Own - 11 (oh my!) of varying sizes

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times - Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett (makes me smile)

Preferred Place to Read -comfy chair in living room or the wing chair in my quiet office
Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you've read - Reading gives us somewhere to go when we have to stay where we are...

Reading Regret -Only that I am sure my house would be cleaner if I didn't read.

Series You Started and Need to Finish (all books are out in series) -Tudor Court series by Philippa Gregory (3 out of 6)

Three of Your All-Time Favorite Books - (tough one) The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George, As Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers and  When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman

Unapologetic Fangirl for -Sharon Kay Penman

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others -The King's Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman
Worst Bookish Habit - buying more books then I will ever be able to read, but it is fun trying

X Marks the Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book - The Sisters Queen by Sophie Poinet

Your Latest Book Purchase - The Reckoning by Sharon Kay Penman (ebook, have the 1st edition HC on my shelf)

Zzz-snatcher book (last book that kept you up way too late) - The Age of Desire by Jennie Field (last night actually)

What are your answers? I would love to hear some of them. If you want to do the survey and leave me a link I would love to stop by your blog and read your comments. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn

One powerful family holds a city, a faith, and a woman in its grasp--from the national bestselling author of "Daughters of Rome" and "Mistress of Rome."

Rome, 1492. The Holy City is drenched with blood and teeming with secrets. A pope lies dying and the throne of God is left vacant, a prize awarded only to the most virtuous--or the most ruthless. The Borgia family begins its legendary rise, chronicled by an innocent girl who finds herself drawn into their dangerous web...
Vivacious Giulia Farnese has floor-length golden hair and the world at her feet: beauty, wealth, and a handsome young husband. But she is stunned to discover that her glittering marriage is a sham, and she is to be given as a concubine to the ruthless, charismatic Cardinal Borgia: Spaniard, sensualist, candidate for Pope--and passionately in love with her.
Two trusted companions will follow her into the Pope's shadowy harem: Leonello, a cynical bodyguard bent on bloody revenge against a mysterious killer, and Carmelina, a fiery cook with a past full of secrets. But as corruption thickens in the Vatican and the enemies begin to circle, Giulia and her friends will need all their wits to survive in the world of the Borgias.

No need to recap what the book is about, you can read that above.

All my audio reads are usually in first person narrative, it feels like the protagonist is with me telling her/his story.  This book had three key players. Giulia, Leonello and Carmelina were all brought to life by 3 wonderful readers.  They had the right accents, and each told their story clearly and with the right amount of wit and emotions.

They couldn't tell their stories without Kate Quinn doing an excellent job of writing them. She was able to mix fact with fiction and made me fall in love with those three, they were written in such a way that made me feel for their different circumstances. From Giulia's hurt and disappointment on her wedding night to Carmelina's first impression of Rome with the smells (rot - maybe you need the audio to appreciate her reaction). From romance to murder, mystery to corruption and betrayal to friendships, this book had it all. 

Set in a time in history that I was unfamiliar with it was a joy to take this ride with Giulia, Leonello and Carmelina.  I've heard of the Borgia's before and how corrupt they were and this book has me wanting to learn more. The cultural side during that time period was interesting and informative also,  I especially enjoyed the cooking aspect of the novel.

I finished this book with an urgent need to bake a torte and am now toying with the ideal of rereading The Iliad. Also wondering when the companion cookbook is coming out.

 The sequel, The Lion and the Rose, is scheduled to be released  Jan 7, 2014 (Canada/US),  and you can pre order at Amazon  and Book Depository (I have).

Definitely 5 stars from me!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

To Shield the Queen by Fiona Buckley

An accomplished debut set in 1560 at the Court of Queen Elizabeth I. Impoverished young widow Ursula Blanchard, whose mother had served Queen Elizabeth's mother, has agreed to join Elizabeth's Ladies of the Presence Chamber. Estranged from her own and her late husband's families, she leaves behind her faithful groom John Wilton and puts small daughter Meg in the care of nursemaid Bridget. Once at Court, Ursula grows quickly aware of gossip about the young, unmarried Queen and her Master of the Horse, Robin Dudley. 

Dudley's wife Amy is said to be dying (amid rumors of poisoning) at Cumnor Place, some miles away. Her death, of course, would free Dudley to marry the Queen--an unpopular idea in many high places. Meanwhile, Ursula has acquired a suitor of her own--the wealthy Frenchman Matthew de la Roche--but when Dudley asks her to move to Cumnor Place, to comfort Amy (and perhaps to stop the rumors), she readily agrees. The handsome salary will help to pay Bridget, her own maid Fran Dale, and newly rehired John Wilton. Ursula finds Cumnor Place a strange household where steward Forster rules with tightfisted authority, and she comes to believe that there is a plot on Amy's life. Events prove her right, but other plots are also afoot, one of them setting Ursula on a slippery path of self-denial and discovery. 

The pseudonymous Buckley, a British author who's written other non mystery fiction, maintains high suspense throughout a lively debut that's filled with vivid characters, religious conflict, subplots, and power plays. Ursula is the essence of iron cloaked in velvet--a heroine to reckon with. -- .

I really do not like cozy mysteries, so when this book was recommended to me I thought it sounded like something I would be interested in. Then I received it in the mail, saw the size and really wasn't impressed. I like a book with a good story, some history, strong characters and a mystery that has me thinking right to the end, plus I like a nice chunky size too.

So when the library had the audio for this, I gave it a go. Gotta say I loved it. Whether because it was audio verses the book I am not sure. The reader did a wonderful job, I was hooked right in. 

There is so much mystery surrounding Queen Elizabeth and Robin Dudley and when you add the sudden dead of his wife Amy, well Fiona Buckley wove a wonderful tale of mystery/suspense with some romance (not too much, just the right amount).

 I love Ursula Blanchard and can't wait to continue with the series.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mother Earth Father Sky by Sue Harrison (BOOK TOUR)

A young woman fights for survival amid the brutality of the last Ice Age

It’s 7056 BC, a time before history. On the first day that Chagak’s womanhood is acknowledged within her Aleut tribe, she unexpectedly finds herself betrothed to Seal Stalker, the most promising young hunter in the village. A bright future lies ahead of Chagak—but in one violent moment, she loses her entire way of life. Left with her infant brother, Pup, and only a birdskin parka for warmth, Chagak sets out across the icy waters on a quest for survival and revenge.

Mother Earth Father Sky is the first book of the Ivory Carver Trilogy, which also includes My Sister the Moon and Brother Wind.
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Open Road Media
ISBN: 0380715929

 click on banner for complete list of stops for this tour

Originally published in 1985 this is the first book in a trilogy. I have been on a wonderful ride lately with books that have grabbed my attention right away and kept it till the every end.  Books about young girls, their struggles, their fears as they grow up very quickly in tragic circumstances.  Mother End Father Sky is set in a time period that I rarely read and I am happy to say that my wonderful reading streak is still going strong.

Taking place in prehistoric Alaska, this book did not disappoint!  Not only was it a really good read but an educational one as well.  The rich detail into the history of the land, the way of life and the cultural lifestyle of the different villages shows that the author did a ton of research to make this novel.  And I have so much respect for authors that spend so much time on research and delivering it such a believable and entertaining  manner, which is what Sue Harrison has done here.  I couldn't help but feel for Chagak, her future changing so drastically and the courage to survive. It wasn't just Chagak's circumstances, but the general way of life.  I was able to feel the cold water, the bitter winds of paddling the seas.  The amount of work that went into everyday life just to survive during that time period, gathering plants, skinning animals and saving every part for a specific purpose.

There were more characters, Shuganan, surrogate grandfather added a dose of mystery to the story along with glimpses of the spirit world and how it directed life back then. 

Some say this is young adult and others adult fiction, definitely would appeal to both. A series that I plan to continue reading.


Sue Harrison grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and graduated summa cum laude from Lake Superior State University with a bachelor of arts degree in English language and literature. At age twenty-seven, inspired by the cold Upper Michigan forest that surrounded her home, and the outdoor survival skills she had learned from her father and her husband, Harrison began researching the people who understood best how to live in a harsh environment: the North American native peoples. She studied six Native American languages and completed extensive research on culture, geography, archaeol
ogy, and anthropology during the nine years she spent writing her first novel, Mother Earth Father Sky, the extraordinary story of a woman’s struggle for survival in the last Ice Age. A national and international bestseller, and selected by the American Library Association as one of the Best Books for Young Adults in 1991, Mother Earth Father Sky is the first novel in Harrison’s critically acclaimed Ivory Carver Trilogy, which includes My Sister the Moon and Brother Wind. She is also the author of Song of the River, Cry of the Wind, and Call Down the Stars, which comprise the Storyteller Trilogy, also set in prehistoric North America. Her novels have been translated into thirteen languages and published in more than twenty countries. Harrison lives with her family in Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula. 

For more information please visit Sue Harrison's website.  You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.