Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - The White Princess


"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly waiting to get our hands on.

 

 This week I am waiting for: The White Princess by Philippa Gregory




The newest novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author and “queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory tells the passionate story of Elizabeth of York, daughter of the White Queen, who gets caught in the middle of a battle for the crown of England. 

 The White Princess opens as the news of the battle of Bosworth is brought to Princess Elizabeth of York, who will learn not only which rival royal house has triumphed, Tudor or York, but also which suitor she must marry: Richard III her lover, or Henry Tudor her enemy.

A princess from birth, Elizabeth fell in love with Richard III, though her mother made an arranged betrothal for her with the pretender to the throne: Henry Tudor. When Henry defeats Richard against all odds, Elizabeth has to marry the man who murdered her lover in battle, and create a new royal family with him and his ambitious mother: Margaret Beaufort, The Red Queen. But, while the new monarchy can win, it cannot, it seems, hold power in an England which remembers the House of York with love.

The new king’s greatest fear is that somewhere, outside England, a prince from the House of York is waiting to invade and re-claim the throne for the house of York. Fearing that none of his new allies can be trusted, Henry turns to his wife to advise him, all the time knowing that her loyalties must be divided. When the young man who would be king finally leads his army and invades England, it is for Elizabeth to decide whether she recognizes him as her brother and a claimant to the throne, or denies him in favor of the husband she is coming to love…

Hardcover, 544 pages
Expected publication: July 23rd 2013 by Touchstone

Philippa Gregory's, The Other Boleyn Girl, is the book that made me fall in love with Historical Fiction.  The White Princess is the final book in the Cousin War Series
Not sure about the cover, it doesn't really match the rest of the series.  But that won't stop me from reading this as soon as it is released.

What are you waiting for?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

In My Mailbox (3)




Weekly meme from The Story Siren. The idea is to post the books you got this week,whether you bought them, got them as a gift,from the library, or received them to review.


 Combining the pace and descriptive quality of a novel with the authority of a text book, Alison Weir's study of the revered and reviled Eleanor of Aquitaine should be valuable to anyone with an interest in medieval European history. Wife of Louis VII of France and subsequently of Henry II of England and mother of Richard the Lionheart, Eleanor played a prominent part in the politics of the 12th century.



 The bestselling author of Border Fire and Border Storm recreates the danger and passion of the 16th-century Scottish Border wars in the tale of a rebellious Highland beauty and the powerful lord determined to tame her.

I am part of a blog tour for this book in April, so stay tuned. 






It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.


I LOVED Between Shades of Gray, so looking forward to reading this one.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau

In the next novel from Nancy Bilyeau after her acclaimed debut The Crown, novice Joanna Stafford plunges into an even more dangerous conspiracy as she comes up against some of the most powerful men of her era.

In 1538, England is in the midst of bloody power struggles between crown and cross that threaten to tear the country apart. Joanna Stafford has seen what lies inside the king’s torture rooms and risks imprisonment again, when she is caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting the King. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna understands she may have to assume her role in a prophecy foretold by three different seers, each more omniscient than the last.

Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christendom are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lays at the center of these deadly prophecies…


Hardcover, 496 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Touchstone
personal library
*****



This is one of those books, you know the one?  It's the one that very early on you stop for a sec and just sit in awe, marveling at the talent of this author.  You can just tell with the flow of the words, with the vivid pictures forming in your mind, that this is going to be one of those books that will stick with you long after you are finished. Not just because of the wonderful story (because this is a WONDERFUL story), but also because of the amount of work you know went into it.  The amount of research that had to be done and then writing the story made me realize that this is an author with some serious talent.  It's like a jigsaw puzzle, where every piece fits together perfectly with no bent corners, missing or forced pieces.  I can picture a huge bulletin board, full of sticky notes of 'who is who' and 'who did what', then with string connecting the notes making sure each sticky note was put in the proper place.  With this book all those notes were perfectly positioned, there were no disjointed scenes or out of place story lines.  It flowed so nicely that I had a hard time putting it down.

We all know the stories of Henry VIII and his wives, but with The Chalice (set after the death of Queen Jane) this was a story that showed a darker side to Henry VIII's reign, there was suspense, romance, religious, spiritual elements, mystery along with the supernatural stuff, action and so much more packed into this book.  Not a small book, close to 500 pages, but worth everyone of them.

The first book in the series The Crown was just as good and I am hoping that there will be a third because I miss Joanna already.



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - The Serpent and the Pearl

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly waiting to get our hands on.

 

This week I am waiting for: 

 

The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn

 

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 world of the Borgias: 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 bodies begin to mount, Giulia and her friends must decide if they will flee the Borgia dream of power—or if they can even survive it.

 

I loved Kate's series in ancient Rome and can't wait to get my hands on this one.

What are you waiting for??

Monday, March 11, 2013

So Shines the Night by Tracy L Higley

Daria’s new home with Lucas in Ephesus both beguiles and confounds her, until she meets followers of The Way.

 

 Her past has taught her that evil is real, that it can consume a person. She saw it happen with her husband, before he took his own life. Widowed but well-educated, Daria becomes a tutor to Lucas, a rich traveling merchant from Ephesus. There she discovers evil has a strong foothold and that Lucas himself seems drawn to evil and sorcery.
As her relationship with her employer grows, she fears that she will be unable to pull him from demonic influence. Tension in the city is about to erupt, as a new sect called The Way continues to draw followers.  The man Paul leads a movement against the economic and political strength of the city, found in its goddess cult.
When she learns more of the ways of the Christians and their ability to defeat evil, she begins to have hope, but when Lucas is arrested and jailed for a brutal crime, it seems not even the Christians can help.
Tensions escalate in the city until thousands are pouring into the arena to protest the influence of the Christians, and a plot to kill Paul is underway. When Lucas’s execution is scheduled, Daria must find a way to prove his innocence, save his life, and help her new friends before everyone she loves is destroyed.

In My Mailbox (2)

Weekly meme from The Story Siren. The idea is to post the books you got this week,whether you bought them, got them as a gift,from the library, or received them to review.


 I read Nancy Bilyeau's first book, The Crown and just loved it.  I was very excited to see this being released in 2013.  Thank you to my son for pre-ordering this for me (another Christmas present).
 Thanks to CW Gortner for doing a review on this one and to Amy at Passages to the Past for discovering this cover.  I love fairy tales and retelling s. 

Thanks to Burton Book Review for mentioning this series.  An older on, but works good for my quest to read through the kings of England, present on

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - The Secret History

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly waiting to get our hands on.

This week I am waiting for: 

 

The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora by Stephanie Thornton


"Where Theodora went, trouble followed…

In sixth century Constantinople, one woman, Theodora, defied every convention and all the odds, and rose from being a common theater tart to become empress of a great kingdom, the most powerful woman the Roman Empire would ever know. But the woman whose image was later immortalized in glittering mosaic was, in fact, a scrappy, clever, conniving, flesh-and-blood woman full of sensuality and spirit whose real story is as surprising as any ever told…

When her father dies suddenly, Theodora and her sisters face starvation on the streets. Determined to survive, Theodora makes a living any way she can—first on her back with every man who will have her, then on the stage of the city’s infamous amphitheater in a scandalous dramatization of her own invention. When her daring performance grants her a back-door entry into the halls of power, she seizes the chance to win a wealthy protector—only to face heartbreak and betrayal.

Ever resilient, Theodora rises above such trials and by a twist of fate, meets her most passionate admirer yet: the Emperor’s nephew. She will thrive as his confidant and courtesan, but many challenges lie ahead. For one day, this man will hand her a crown. And all the empire will wonder—is she bold enough, shrewd enough, and strong enough to keep it?"


I LOVE debuts! I LOVE this cover and I LOVE the location!  Oh and the story sound really good too! What more can I say, can't wait to get my hands on this one.

Check out the authors website and also like her facebook page, you could win an ARC

Release date: July 2, 2013

Sunday, March 3, 2013

In My Mailbox (1)

Weekly meme from The Story Siren. The idea is to post the books you got this week,whether you bought them, got them as a gift,from the library, or received them to review.

For review


 Daria's new home in Ephesus with Lucas both beguiles and confounds her, until she meets followers of The Way.

Her past has taught her that evil is real, that it can consume a person. She saw it happen with her husband, before he took his own life. Widowed, with no family, Daria becomes a tutor to Lucas, a rich traveling merchant from Ephesus. There she discovers evil has a strong foothold and that Lucas himself seems drawn to evil and sorcery.

As her relationship with her employer grows, she fears that she will be unable to pull him to pull him from demonic influence. Tension in the city is about to erupt, as a new sect called The Way continues to draw followers. A man called Paul leads the movement against the economic and political strength of the city, found in its goddess cult.

When she learns more of the ways of the Christians and their ability to defeat evil, she begins to have hope. But then Lucas is arrested and jailed for a brutal crime, and it seems not even the Christians can help.

Tensions escalate in the city until thousands are pouring into the arena to protest the influence of the Christians, and a plot to kill Paul is underway. When Lucas's execution is scheduled, Daria must find a way to prove his innocence, save his life, and help her new friends before everyone she loves is destroyed.



When rare-manuscript expert Joseph Barkeley is hired to authenticate and purchase the original draft and notes for Bram Stoker's Dracula, little does he know that the reclusive buyer is a member of the oldest family in Transylvania.

After delivering the manuscript to the legendary Bran Castle in Romania, Barkeley—a Romanian orphan himself—realizes to his horror that he's become a prisoner to the son of Vlad Dracul. To earn his freedom, Barkeley must decipher cryptic messages hidden in the text of the original Dracula that reveal the burial sites of certain Dracul family members. Barkeley's only hope is to ensure that he does not exhaust his usefulness to his captor until he’s able to escape. Soon he discovers secrets about his own lineage that suggest his selection for the task was more than coincidence. In this knowledge may lie Barkeley's salvation—or his doom. For now he must choose between a coward's flight and a mortal conflict against an ancient foe.

Building on actual international events surrounding the publication of Bram Stoker's original novel, Royce Prouty has written a spellbinding debut novel that ranges from 1890s Chicago, London, and Transylvania to the perilous present.


Purchased

 

 Standing beside the charismatic Napoleon, Josephine's own importance and fascinating history have often been overshadowed. In a fictionalized account of Josephine's diaries and her correspondence, author Sandra Gulland has shed light on Josephine's pre-Napoleon life. 

“He calls me Josephine. He says I'm an angel, a saint, his good lucky star. I know I'm no angel, but in truth I have begun to like this Josephine he sees. She is intelligent; she amuses; she is pleasing. She is grace and charm and heart. Unlike Rose; scared, haunted and needy. Unlike Rose with her sad life.”
Sandra Gulland, The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. 


Plantagenets Series by Sharon Kay Penman


I have started a quest this year, to read through the Kings of England, it will most likely take a couple years, but what an adventure it will be.

What better way to start then with King Henry I and Sharon Kay Penman (though he isn't around for long).

 A.D. 1135. As church bells tolled for the death of England's King Henry I, his barons faced the unwelcome prospect of being ruled by a woman: Henry's beautiful daughter Maude, Countess of Anjou. But before Maude could claim her throne, her cousin Stephen seized it. In their long and bitter struggle, all of England bled and burned.


Sharon Kay Penman's magnificent fifth novel summons to life a spectacular medieval tragedy whose unfolding breaks the heart even as it prepares the way for splendors to come—the glorious age of Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Plantagenets that would soon illumine the world.

 It was medieval England’s immortal marriage—Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, bound by passion and ambition, certain to leave a legacy of greatness. But while lust would divide them, it was friendship—and ultimately faith—that brought bloodshed into their midst. It began with Thomas Becket, Henry’s closest confidant, and his elevation to be Archbishop of Canterbury. It ended with a perceived betrayal that made a royal murder seem inevitable. Along the way were enough scheming, seductions, and scandals to topple any kingdom but their own. . . .


 
The long-awaited and highly anticipated final volume in Penman's trilogy of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, a tumultuous conclusion to this timeless story of love, power, ambition, and betrayal. 

Where the second novel in the trilogy, "Time And Chance," dealt with the extraordinary politics of the twelfth century, climaxing with the murder of Thomas Becket and Henry's confrontation with the Church and self-imposed exile to Ireland, "Devil's Brood" centers on the implosion of a family. And because it is a royal family whose domains span the English Channel and whose alliances encompass the Christian world, that collapse will have dire consequences. This is a story of betrayal as Henry's three eldest sons and his wife enter into a rebellion against him, aligning themselves with his bitterest enemy, King Louis of France. But it is also the story of a great king whose brilliance forged an empire but whose personal blind spots led him into the most serious mistake of his life. 

 
 

I have decided to do this blog posting with all 3 books.  First off, these are huge books, almost 2200 pages total.  Usually when I read a big book I need a break, time to read some smaller books, clean my head before I dive in again.  With this series I read all 3 back to back, all ebook editions.  I was drawn to the first book by the title alone, how intriguing, what did it mean?  Of course once I read it, it was plainly obvious, that period in history, the fight for the crown that left people wondering if Christ and His Saints slept? It also left me very grateful to be born when I was.

This is also a new author to me and is now a favorite (made my day when she became my friend on facebook too).  There is a writing style that is so easy to follow, even when getting used to with who was who and what side their were on again.  These books are so full of history that I can't even phantom how much time the author spent researching and writing, rewriting and most likely rewriting again.  For me this is a period of history that I know very little about and what an adventure it was. 

The only part I was disappointed with was Ranulf, the only fictional character and I loved him.  I laughed at his early adventures with the nuns and smiled at his love story, a wonderful addition to the story..

I loved this series and will be reading the Welsh series as soon as I finish Lionheart.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“It was just like him, she thought; with him, a happy ending was always a foregone conclusion. But such was the power of his faith that when she was with him; she found herself believing in happy endings, too.”
 When Christ and His Saints Slept


“When does he ever think?" Richard straddled a chair and accepted a wind cup from Raoul. "If he were to sell his brain, he could claim it had never been used.", Chapter 7”
Devil's Brood

Geoffrey looked startled to see both his great-uncles bearing down upon him with such haste; he hadn’t realized men their age could move so fast.”
Devil's Brood