Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Waiting of Wednesday: Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt by Stephanie Thornton

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.
This week I am waiting for:: Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt

Paperback, 448 pages
Expected publication: May 6th 2014 by NAL Trade

 Egypt, 1400s BC. The pharaoh’s pampered second daughter, lively, intelligent Hatshepsut, delights in racing her chariot through the marketplace and testing her archery skills in the Nile’s marshlands. But the death of her elder sister, Neferubity, in a gruesome accident arising from Hatshepsut’s games forces her to confront her guilt...and sets her on a profoundly changed course.

Hatshepsut enters a loveless marriage with her half brother, Thut, to secure his claim to the Horus Throne and produce a male heir. But it is another of Thut’s wives, the commoner Aset, who bears him a son, while Hatshepsut develops a searing attraction for his brilliant adviser Senenmut. And when Thut suddenly dies, Hatshepsut becomes de facto ruler, as regent to her two-year-old nephew.

Once, Hatshepsut anticipated being free to live and love as she chose. Now she must put Egypt first. Ever daring, she will lead a vast army and build great temples, but always she will be torn between the demands of leadership and the desires of her heart. And even as she makes her boldest move of all, her enemies will plot her downfall....

Once again, Stephanie Thornton brings to life a remarkable woman from the distant past whose willingness to defy tradition changed the course of history.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Eleanor the Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Norah Lofts

Eleanor of Aquitaine rules as a modern heroine in the twelfth century, in this beloved classic of royal fiction from renowned author Norah Lofts. At a time when a woman's value was measured solely by her wealth and the number of sons she bore, Eleanor was the high-spirited, stubborn, and intelligent heiress to the vast duchy of Aquitaine.

Her leadership inspired the loyalty of her people, but she was continually doubted and silenced by the men who ruled beside her; the less wise but far more powerful men of the church and court who were unwilling to lose power to a woman, regardless of her rank or ability.

Through marriages to two kings, two Crusades, and the births of ten children; including the future King Richard the Lionhearted; Eleanor solidified her place in history. In Eleanor the Queen, Norah Lofts brings to life a brave and complex woman who was centuries ahead of her time.

Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 20th 2010 by Touchstone (first published January 1955) 
 I was a little leery starting this book. I've read about Eleanor's life by Sharon Kay Penman and Elizabeth Chadwick already so really did I need to read another one? Since I feel the need these days to read books on my shelf and because I was able to grab the audible version I went ahead and read it. I  have to say that I really enjoyed it. The reader did a wonderful job and the writing was just as good.
 The book doesn't go into great details about certain major events and skips over others totally. But still I was totally captivated with it, it was entertaining and had a writing style that I liked.  
Originally written in the 1950's this book and many others by Norah Lofts have been reissued.

I think this book will appeal to those that like HF about strong women of their time and kings/queens in Medieval time period.
(here are some that appear on my bookshelves)


Monday, November 25, 2013

Review: The Tenth Saint by D.J. Niko (book tour)

Gold Medal Winner, Popular Fiction, 2013 Florida Book Awards.

Cambridge archaeologist Sarah Weston makes an unusual discovery in the ancient Ethiopian mountain kingdom of Aksum: a sealed tomb with inscriptions in an obscure dialect. Seeking to ascertain the translation and the identity of the entombed man, she and her colleague, American anthropologist Daniel Madigan, stumble upon a lethal conflict.
Tracking down clues in Addis Ababa and the monasteries of Lalibela, Sarah and Daniel uncover a codex in a subterranean library revealing a set of prophecies about Earth’s final hours written by a man hailed by Coptic mystics as Ethiopia’s tenth saint. Violently opposed by the corrupt director of antiquities at the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism, they’re left for dead in the heart of the Simien Mountains. Surviving to journey to Paris, Sarah is given another piece of the ancient puzzle: a fourteenth-century letter describing catastrophic events leading to the planet’s demise.
Connecting the two discoveries, Sarah faces a deadly intercontinental conspiracy to keep the secret of the tenth saint buried. Risking her reputation and her life, Sarah embarks on a quest to stall the technological advances that will surely destroy the world.

Publication Date: January 25, 2012
Medallion Press  
ISBN-10: 1605422452  
Paperback; 464p

 Even though this book comes in at 464 pages it was a quick read.  The chapters are not too long and usually ended with a little cliffhanger, which just made me want to read more and 3 days later I was finished.  Weaving back and forth in time, the author wove a very interesting story that I enjoyed and thought was original. 

This book was a mix of mystery, action, historical, suspense, archaeological and romance along with time travel. In the 1600's we have a man named Gabriel, you know that there is something different about him, but ya just can't quite put your finger on what it is.  I really liked his part of the story, very mysterious and intriguing.  In present day we have Sarah and Daniel, as much as I really enjoyed this book I had a difficult time connecting with these two. I found Sarah to lack feeling or any emotion, same with Daniel.

There were parts of the story that I found predictable, while others were a surprise.  Some of the action scenes were a little farfetched, but then again the way the author wrote them out I could cleanly see them happening in my little brain (and that's a good thing). 

This is the first book in the Sarah Weston Chronicles with book 2 already released, The Riddle of Solomon.
All in all a fast paced book that will appeal to those that like face paced books with lots of action.

Praise for The Tenth Saint

“The characters are lively, and the story is fast-paced and exciting, especially for inveterate fans of the genre.” – David Pitt, Booklist (January 1, 2012)

“Like ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ ‘The Tenth Saint’ takes you to a place you have never been, creating an adventure you will not soon forget.” – Laurence Leamer, New York Times-bestselling author of ‘Kennedy Women’

“Interesting, intricate and intriguing, ‘The Tenth Saint’ is an archaeological puzzle the reader can’t wait to solve.” – James O. Born, author of ‘Burn Zone’

“Her descriptive powers are remarkable. Whether constructing the distant past or today, whether reproducing the foreign or the familiar, Ms. Niko brings vivid, convincing sensory detail to her settings.” – Phil Jason, Naples Florida Weekly (April 2012)

“Fast-paced and filled with danger and action in interesting and less well-known locales, The Tenth Saint will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the end.”-

“An impressive and well-researched thrill-ride … Dark tombs, buried secrets, and apocalyptic prophecies, this book has it all!” – Ronald Malfi, author of ‘The Ascent’ and ‘Floating Staircase’

“The Tenth Saint is a clever and well-written story which piqued my interest and curiosity. I enjoyed the wicked twist at the end, which I thought brought everything together cleanly. I look forward to more of Ms. Niko’s writing!” – Star Fyre, Bibliophilic Book Blog

“The author, D. J. Niko, thoroughly researched the history and geography of Ethiopia, providing sufficient authenticity to the story line and plot to satisfy even the most skeptical Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.” – The Etritrea and Ethiopia Herald (for Peace Corps volunteers)


Wednesday, November 20
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, November 21
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, November 22
Guest Post at A Bookish Libraria
Monday, November 25
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, November 27
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Thursday, November 28
Guest Post at A Book Geek
Monday, December 2
Review at Library of Alexandra
Tuesday, December 3
Review at For Winter Nights
Wednesday, December 4
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, December 5
Interview at For Winter Nights
Friday, December 6
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Monday, December 10
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading

D.J. Niko is the nom de plume of Daphne Nikolopoulos, an award-winning author and journalist. Her first novel, titled The Tenth Saint, was released in March 2012 to rave reviews by both readers and the trade. In March 2013, it was awarded the Gold Medal for popular fiction in the prestigious, juried Florida Book Awards. An archaeological thriller embroidered with historical motifs, The Tenth Saint takes readers on an adventure across the globe: Ethiopia, the Syro-Arabian Desert and Abyssinian Empire circa fourth century, London, Paris, Brussels, and Texas. The Tenth Saint is the first book in The Sarah Weston Chronicles series. The second, titled The Riddle of Solomon, releases July 1, 2013.
Daphne is now at work on a historical novel set in tenth century B.C.E. Israel. The epic story details the collapse of the United Monarchy and the glory and fall of the empire built by King Solomon. It will be released in early 2015.
As a former travel journalist, Daphne has traveled across the globe on assignment, or for personal discovery. She has been to some places most of us don’t realize are on the map, and she has brought them to life through her writing for various magazines, newspapers and websites on an international scale. Her travel background and rich experiences now bring authentic detail, color, and realism to her fiction.
She also is the editor in chief of Palm Beach Illustrated magazine, a 62-year-old luxury-lifestyle glossy. She also is the editorial director of Palm Beach Media Group, and in that capacity oversees 11 magazines and 3 websites.
She is the mother of twin toddlers and, in her spare time, volunteers for causes she believes in—literacy, education, child advocacy, and the advancement of traditional and tribal arts from around the world. Born in Athens, Greece, she now lives with her family in West Palm Beach, Florida.
For more information, please visit D.J. Niko’s website. You can also follow on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Buy Links

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Daughters of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

Based on the true story of Cleopatra’s daughter…

After years of abuse as the emperor’s captive in Rome, Cleopatra Selene has found a safe harbor. No longer the pitiful orphaned daughter of the despised Egyptian Whore, the twenty year old is now the most powerful queen in the empire, ruling over the kingdom of Mauretania—an exotic land of enchanting possibility where she intends to revive her dynasty.

With her husband, King Juba II and the magic of Isis that is her birthright, Selene brings prosperity and peace to a kingdom thirsty for both. But when Augustus Caesar jealously demands that Selene’s children be given over to him to be fostered in Rome, she’s drawn back into the web of imperial plots and intrigues that she vowed to leave behind.

Determined and resourceful, Selene must shield her loved ones from the emperor’s wrath, all while vying with ruthless rivals like King Herod. Can she find a way to overcome the threat to her marriage, her kingdom, her family, and her faith? Or will she be the last of her line?

Paperback, 576 pages
Expected publication: December 3rd 2013 by Berkley Trade 
(arc provided by author for an honest review)

This is book #3 in the Cleopatra's Daughter series, competing the series which started with Lily of the Nile and Song of the Nile  (click for my review of both).  You might be able to read this as a stand alone, but I don't recommend it, it is just too wonderful a series to miss any part of it.

How do I begin to review this book?  It is hard at times to do a review justice without any spoilers and I don't want to spoil anyone's enjoyment of this wonderful book.  It was a fitting conclusion to an awesome series and I am very sad that it is over. This is a part of history that I know very little about, plus (according to the author's notes) there is not a lot of information available.  Stephanie Dray filled in the blanks perfectly and wrote a very believable and emotional story.

This was one of those books, that I didn't rush through.  I knew it was the end of the series but I just took my time and  enjoyed the ride.  First introduced to Selene when she is taken to Rome (in Triumph), she is now married and Queen of Mauretania. This book is about relationships, and there are a number of them in here.  There is Selene's relationship with Augustus, which is dark and warped. He wants control of her, her children and it was very interesting to see how that situation continued to develop (really I want to say more, but a major spoiler would most likely take place).

Her relationship with King Juba, her husband was not without turmoil.  I really enjoyed watching that play out, the author has a way of writing that made the conflicts genuine and one can't help feeling the emotions of certain situations.  Yeah I shed a few tears too.

So much more is offered, Selena's relationship with her daughter, Isadora, her friend Julia (Augustus daughter), Livia, the people of Mauretania, even Herod. There is also King Juba and Augustus's relationship, oh I could go on and on.  As you can tell there is a lot going on in this book and it is written in such a way that it was not overwhelming with everything flowing together perfectly.

This book has so much to offer and I am very grateful to have received an ARC.

This book will appeal to those that are interested in HF Rome, Egypt, Isis, Cleopatra and Caesar Augustus.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Book of Life (All Soul's Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness

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.
This week I am so anxious for: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
(I mean that this is the one that I am most, absolutely, 'lets order out till I finish', waiting for :), or better yet, send everyone away for a couple days, looking forward too...

Hardcover, 592 pages
Expected publication: July 15th 2014 by Viking Adult

  The highly anticipated finale to the #1 New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with A Discovery of Witches

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchant­ing series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they re­unite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its miss­ing pages takes on even more urgency. In the tril­ogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowl­edge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions and translations, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir

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.

Kindle Edition, 592 pages
Expected publication: December 3rd 2013 by Ballantine Books
I received my copy free from published for an honest review
Coming on the heels of reading The White Princess by Philippa Gregory (and the release of The White Queen by BBC - I didn't watch it) I wanted to know more about Elizabeth of York, daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Wydeville.  Having read only a couple nonfiction in my time I wasn't sure what to expect and for some reason feel nonfiction can be a tad boring. That wasn't the case with this book. 
Alison Weir is a well known historian and it shows.  This book is full of meticulous details, all backed up to show authenticity. The author has done an amazing amount of  research for this book and I can only imagine how long it has taken to write it.  She starts the book off by allowing the reader to see monetary values (by conventing to today's values) this gives the reader an idea of the cash flow in Elizabeth's time and I found this so very helpful.  Yes some might find it boring to read from her ledger and see what Elizabeth spent money on, but I found it fascinating.  It shows her to be a very generous and a caring queen, and also shows what was expecting of a her. 
Most of my history lessons are gleamed through historical fiction, this book was an eye opener to show that non fiction is just as interesting.  I learned a lot about Elizabeth of York, court life, the struggles that Henry VII sent through during his reign, their children and much more.  I found it very interesting that Elizabeth had a better claim to the throne then Henry VII, which is something that I never realized before.  I learned a lot from this book and am glad to have read it.

This book will appeal to those interested in the War of the Roses, Elizabeth of York, Henry VII and Henry VIII.

Other books by Alison Weir that I have enjoyed are A Dangerous Inheritance and Innocent Traitor

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier

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.

My pick for this week: The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier

Release date March 11, 2014

I loved Anne Fortier's debut Juliet, was thrilled to see a release date for this one. 

Don't you just love that cover?!

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Juliet comes a mesmerizing novel about a young scholar who risks her reputation—and her life—on a thrilling journey to prove that the legendary warrior women known as the Amazons actually existed.

Oxford lecturer Diana Morgan is an expert on Greek mythology. Her obsession with the Amazons started in childhood when her eccentric grandmother claimed to be one herself—before vanishing without a trace. Diana’s colleagues shake their heads at her Amazon fixation. But then a mysterious, well-financed foundation makes Diana an offer she cannot refuse.

Traveling to North Africa, Diana teams up with Nick Barran, an enigmatic Middle Eastern guide, and begins deciphering an unusual inscription on the wall of a recently unearthed temple. There she discovers the name of the first Amazon queen, Myrina, who crossed the Mediterranean in a heroic attempt to liberate her kidnapped sisters from Greek pirates, only to become embroiled in the most famous conflict of the ancient world—the Trojan War. Taking their cue from the inscription, Diana and Nick set out to find the fabled treasure that Myrina and her Amazon sisters salvaged from the embattled city of Troy so long ago. Diana doesn’t know the nature of the treasure, but she does know that someone is shadowing her, and that Nick has a sinister agenda of his own. With danger lurking at every turn, and unsure of whom to trust, Diana finds herself on a daring and dangerous quest for truth that will forever change her world.

Sweeping from England to North Africa to Greece and the ruins of ancient Troy, and navigating between present and past, The Lost Sisterhood is a breathtaking, passionate adventure of two women on parallel journeys, separated by time, who must fight to keep the lives and legacy of the Amazons from being lost forever.

What are you waiting for?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Review: Aiding the Enemy by Julie Rowe - Book Tour

Book three of War Girls

German-occupied Brussels, Belgium
December 1915

Rose Culver is in grave danger. For months the Red Cross head nurse has been aiding Allied soldiers caught behind enemy lines, helping them flee into neutral Netherlands. It's only a matter of time until she's caught. Which makes it the wrong time to fall in love with a handsome German military doctor as devoted to the sanctity of human life as she is.

The Great War has caused Dr. Herman Geoff to question everything he once believed. He knows Rose has been hiding British soldiers in her hospital—he's even treated some of them, refusing to go against his own Hippocratic oath. As a doctor, he admires Rose's skill and conviction. As a man, he can no longer deny his attraction to her. But when Rose is arrested for treason, Herman must choose between love for her and duty to his country...

For more tales of love and war, download Saving the Rifleman and Enticing the Spymaster, available now!

Publication Date: October 7, 2013
Carina Press

 Even though this is the third book in the War Girls Series, it works just fine as a stand alone.  I did read the first 2 books and enjoyed them, they aren't long, just over 100 pages each, plus they are more historical romance verses historical fiction. 

Though I am not a big fan of romance, I do have to say that I enjoyed reading all three books, but Aiding the Enemy would be my favorite. The author wrote in a way that I was able to connect with Rose, I could understand her need to help soldiers flee a country at war and as a nurse to help those suffering and care for their needs.  Briefly being introduced to Herman Geoff in the first book, it wasn't hard to see where he was coming from and feel his concerns and feeling for his country. The tough decisions he had to make while at the same time putting others at risk.

I think this book gave more details on the struggle and difficult's with getting out of the country and it added nicely to the story. 

For the size of this story I enjoyed it and think it was well written, though I do think that with a little more descriptions and historical facts that this would make a wonderful full length novel.

I am hoping that this series continues because I would like to know what happens to each of the couples. 

Monday, November 11
Review, Guest Post & Giveaway at Romantic Historical Reviews
Tuesday, November 12
Review at Just One More Chapter
Interview & Giveaway at Book-alicious Mama
Wednesday, November 13
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, November 14
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, November 15
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Guest Post & Giveaway at History Undressed

Julie Rowe’s first career as a medical lab technologist in Canada took her to the North West Territories and northern Alberta, where she still resides. She loves to include medical details in her romance novels, but admits she’ll never be able to write about all her medical experiences because, “No one would believe them!”. In addition to writing contemporary and historical medical romance, and fun romantic suspense for Entangled Publishing and Carina Press, Julie has a short story in the Mammoth Book of ER Romance (releasing Sept 15, 2013). Her book SAVING THE RIFLEMAN (book #1 WAR GIRLS) won the novella category of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in several magazines such as Romantic Times Magazine, Today’s Parent, and Romantic Times Magazine.

For more information please visit Julie Rowe's website.  You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Divided Inheritance by Deborah Swift

A family divided by fortune. A country divided by faith.
London 1609...

Elspet Leviston’s greatest ambition is to continue the success of her father Nathaniel’s lace business. But her dreams are thrown into turmoil with the arrival of her mysterious cousin Zachary Deane – who has his own designs on Leviston’s Lace.

Zachary is a dedicated swordsman with a secret past that seems to invite trouble. So Nathaniel sends him on a Grand Tour, away from the distractions of Jacobean London. Elspet believes herself to be free of her hot-headed relative but when Nathaniel dies her fortunes change dramatically. She is forced to leave her beloved home and go in search of Zachary - determined to claim back from him the inheritance that is rightfully hers.

Under the searing Spanish sun, Elspet and Zachary become locked in a battle of wills. But these are dangerous times and they are soon embroiled in the roar and sweep of something far more threatening, sending them both on an unexpected journey of discovery which finally unlocks the true meaning of family . . 

A Divided Inheritance is a breathtaking adventure set in London just after the Gunpowder Plot and in the bustling courtyards of Golden Age Seville.

Published October 24th 2013 by Pan MacMillan
source - personal library

Deborah Swift has once again delivered another wonderful novel.  Full of rich details that shows her knowledge and the amount of research that she did for this book.

This book comes in at just over 500 pages and it was a pleasure to read.  I love big books, but sometimes they run the risk of  being too wordy with unnecessary and repetitive information.  This was definitely not the case with A Divided Inheritance, to grasp the full story, looking at it from all sides it was the perfect length.

The author has shown her nack for details.  From lace making, sword play, English customs, Spanish customs to the religious conflicts in both England and Spain. It was also about relationships, trust, bonds and commitments (just to name a few).  It was very interesting to follow Elspet and Zachary's journey and to see where life was taking them and to see them change.

 I loved how every once in a while a little sentence or phase would pop up that left me scratching my head wonder, what? really? thinking that I can't wait to see where that leads. Meaning I had a couple late nighters.

This was a well written story that grabbed me right from the beginning and didn't let go till that last page was turned.  This book will appeal to those that love historical fiction royal free.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Empress of the Night by Eva Stachniak

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.

My pick for this week: Empress of the Night by Eva Stachniak

Release date: March 25, 2014


I loved the first in this series and can't wait her continue the story.

Catherine the Great muses on her life, her relentless battle between love and power, the country she brought into the glorious new century, and the bodies left in her wake. By the end of her life, she had accomplished more than virtually any other woman in history. She built and grew the Romanov empire, amassed a vast fortune of art and land, and controlled an unruly and conniving court. Now, in a voice both indelible and intimate, she reflects on the decisions that gained her the world and brought her enemies to their knees. And before her last breath, shadowed by the bloody French Revolution, she sets up the end game for her last political maneuver, ensuring her successor and the greater glory of Russia.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier transports readers to a bygone time and place in this richly imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer's most celebrated paintings. 

History and fiction merge seamlessly in this luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening. Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of sixteen-year-old Griet, whose life is transformed by her brief encounter with genius...even as she herself is immortalized in canvas and oil.

Paperback, 233 pages

Published 2001 by Plume (first published 1999)

This isn't a big book, just 233 pages long and another audio (from Audible) version for me.

I was totally captivated by this book.  The reader did a wonderful job and brought Griet's story to life. Told in first person it was like sitting down with Griet and her telling me her story.

Even though I was born in Canada, my roots are from the Netherlands.  I've been to Delft and have some lovely pieces in my home.  So reading about it in this book just brought back memories and stories from long ago.

Watching Griet grow up in the Vermeer household, I could feel her pain in leaving her family behind.  The struggles in the Vermeer household were vivid and I couldn't help but feel her heart ache in some of the struggles that she went through.  The details in the life of not just the artist but a serving girl and the affect both had on Vermeer's family was very interesting. 

“He saw things in a way that others did not, 
so that a city I had lived in all my life seemed a different place,
 so that a woman became beautiful with the light on her face.”

This is my second book by Tracy Chevalier, The Last Runaway, was my first.  Definitely an author that I will be reading more of.

This book will appeal to lovers of historical fiction involving art and a little of Dutch history.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Review: The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

Caught between loyalties, the mother of the Tudors must choose between the red rose and the white.

When Henry Tudor picks up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth field, he knows he must marry the princess of the enemy house - Elizabeth of York - to unify a country divided by war for nearly two decades.

But his bride is still in love with his slain enemy, Richard III - and her mother and half of England dream of a missing heir, sent into the unknown by the White Queen. While the new monarchy can win power, it cannot win hearts in an England that plots for the triumphant return of the House of York.

Henry's greatest fear is that somewhere a prince is waiting to invade and reclaim the throne. When a young man who would be king leads his army and invades England, Elizabeth has to choose between the new husband she is coming to love and the boy who claims to be her beloved lost brother: the rose of York coming home at last.

Hardcover, 528 pages

Published July 23rd 2013 by Touchstone 

I think every review that I do for a Philippa Gregory book usually starts with me saying how she is the one that introduced me to historical fiction.  Her book The Other Boleyn Girl was the first I read and it is part of her Tudor Court series. 

The White Princess is the 5th book in The Cousins' War Series. This series started with The White Queen, which is the story of Elizabeth's mother, also named Elizabeth. Part of me feels that this book, The White Princess is the continuation of The White Queen.  I loved the ending of The White Queen, how it gave a totally different theory of what could have happened to the Princes in the tower.  We will never know exactly what happened to them, but it is interesting reading about different theories (no matter how outlandish). Even though it is part of a series, it could be read as a stand alone also.

I will begin with what one I liked about this book and this revolves around Perkin Warbeck.  Gregory told an interesting theory that I found plausible and she did write it with feeling and emotion.

I purchased The White Princess as soon as it was released back in July, I tried numerous times to read it, but just couldn't get into it.  The first chapter set a tone that annoyed me to no end.  It was flat and boring, Elizabeth pining away for Richard constantly.  So not wanting to give up I went for the audio version. It helped (alot).  The reader did a good job of reading, though at times a little slow.  The story itself lacked emotion and it wasn't until the last 1/3 of the book that I felt it really picked up.  Once Warbeck showed up (I felt) the writing got a better, it was an interesting story line (though at times a little repetitive) but it had some emotion that this book needed.

Back to Elizabeth, really I do have to give her some credit, given no choice in her life she did the best she could given the situation - being married to a King who might have or might not have been involved in the disappearance of her brothers, taking the crown away from her true love and having to deal with the King's mother too.

I know this is historical FICTION, but when you know certain facts that are true then it is hard to read otherwise.  Henry is portrayed here as a weak King, always looking over his shoulders waiting for a York prince to pop up and take his crown away. I also believed that the marriage of Henry and Elizabeth was a loving one, though this book ends at the end of Perkin Warbeck's story, things could very well have changed for them both at that point and they fell in love (again).

I guess that you could say I had mixed feelings about this book.  I ended up giving it 3 1/2 stars rounding up to 4 (why can't you give half stars on goodreads?)