Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers by Margaret George


This is the story of England's most 
famous, and notorious, king.

 

Henry was a charismatic, ardent - and brash - young lover who married six times; a scholar with a deep love of poetry and music; an energetic hunter who loved the outdoors; a monarch whose lack of a male heir haunted him incessantly; and a ruthless leader who would stop at nothing to achieve his desires. His monumental decision to split from Rome and the Catholic Church was one that would forever shape the religious and political landscape of Britain.
Combining magnificent storytelling with an extraordinary grasp of the pleasures and perils of power, Margaret George delivers a vivid portrait of Henry VIII and Tudor England and the powerhouse of players on its stage: Thomas Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More and Anne Boleyn. It is also a narrative told from an original perspective: Margaret George writes from the King's point of view, injecting irreverent comments from Will Somers - Henry's jester and confidant.

Paperback, 939 pages
Published September 15th 1998 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1986) 


Margaret George is one of my very favorite authors.  I have read 4 of her novels so far
and all have been through Audible, this one coming in at just over 41 hours, I have so much
respect  for the amount of research and time (fifteen years in the making) that went into
this book. I was capitaved the whole way through and those 40 hours went by very fast.

After reading for many years about the nastiness of Henry VIII, the greedy slob, adulterer,
wife be-header and really the list could go on and on. It was a refreshing change to get his
side of the story. After all there are always two sides to every story. But when it came to 
Henry VIII he has never really be given a chance to speak.up. Margaret George changed
that and she has done a wonderful job.  She has shown a side of Henry VIII that is totally
believable.  Written with rich details this book made it possible to see the human side of
the King from being second born (and never really destined for the throne), seeking 
approval from his parents to life at court, his many wives and being King of England along
with being a father, I think this is one of Margaret George's best.

Definitely a must read for those that enjoy Tudor period HF. 

"There is was., that dreaded word - love.  I did not want to be 
loved; that was the burden. 
Unwanted love was the greatest burden of all."


Margaret George is the author of The Autobiography of Henry VIII, Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles, The Memoirs of Cleopatra, and Elizabeth I:among other novels. Margaret first got the idea to write historical fiction when, after reading numerous books that viewed Henry VIII through the eyes of his enemies and victims, she found herself wondering if there might be another side to the story. She became determined to let Henry speak for himself, and it took fifteen years, about three hundred books of background reading, three visits to England to see every extant building associated with Henry, and five handwritten drafts for her to answer the question: What was Henry really like? 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Gracianna by Trini Amador (Book Tour)

The gripping story of Gracianna--a French-Basque girl forced to make impossible decisions after being recruited into the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris.
Gracianna is inspired by true events in the life of Trini Amador's great-grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. As an adult, Amador was haunted by the vivid memory of finding a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering his great-grandmother's home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun.
Decades later, Amador would delve into the remarkable odyssey of his Gracianna's past, a road that led him to an incredible surprise. In Gracianna, Amador weaves fact and fiction to tell his great-grandmother's story.
Gracianna bravely sets off to Paris in the early 1940s--on her way to America, she hopes--but is soon swept into the escalation of the war and the Nazi occupation of Paris. After chilling life-and-death struggles, she discovers that her missing sister has surfaced as a laborer in Auschwitz. When she finds an opportunity to fight back against the Nazis to try to free her sister, she takes it--even if it means using lethal force.

As Amador tells the imagined story of how his great-grandmother risked it all, he delivers richly drawn characters and a heart-wrenching page-turner that readers won't soon forget.




This story begins in the Pyrenees, at the border of France and Spain, Gracianna has a dream to go to America one day.  Moving to Paris she is able to get a job and starts saving.  She is following shortly  by her childhood friend and love interest, Juan and then her sister, Constance.  It is at this point the Nazi's enter Paris and life won't be the same again. Without giving too much of the story away, the author has woven a wonderful story that had me captivated right from the very beginning, this book was hard to put down.


Trini Arnador was able to show not just Gracianna's strengths, but also her many struggles with life in Nazi occupied Paris.  Once her sister disappeared you could feel the bond between them and her despair as well as her determination to find her again.  Vivid pictures of what life was like not just in Paris, but in Auschwitz also.  A very moving story and I am glad to have been a part of this tour.

"Through effort and sacrifice the impossible can be done"



About the Author

Trini Amador vividly remembers the day he found a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering through his great-grandmother’s home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun. This experience sparked a journey towards Gracianna, Amador’s debut novel, inspired by true events and weaving reality with imagination. It's a tale drawing from real-life family experiences.

Mr. Amador is a traveled global marketing "insighter.” He is a sought-after guru teaching multinational brand marketers to understand how customer and consumer segments behave based on their needs, values, motivations, feeling and values. He has trained over five thousand brand marketers on how to grow brands in over 20 countries in the last 15 years. His counseling has been valued at global brands including General Electric, Microsoft, AT&T, Yahoo!, Sun Microsystems, Google, Jack Daniel’s, The J.M. Smucker Co., DuPont, Mattel, and Rodale, Inc..

Amador is also a founding partner with his wife and children of Gracianna Winery, an award-winning winery located in Healdsburg, California. The winery also pays tribute to the Amador Family’s maternal grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. Her message of being thankful lives on through them. The Gracianna winery strives to keep Gracianna’s gratitude alive through their wine. Learn more at: www.gracianna.com, like Gracianna Winery on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @GraciannaWinery.

Amador resides in Sonoma County with his family.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick

Eleanor of Aquitaine is a 12th century icon who has fascinated readers for 800 years. But the real Eleanor remains elusive.

This stunning novel introduces an Eleanor that all other writers have missed. Based on the most up-to-date research, it is the first novel to show Eleanor beginning her married life at 13. Barely out of childhood, this gives an entirely new slant to how Eleanor is treated bv those around her. She was often the victim and her first marriage was horribly abusive.

Overflowing with scandal, passion, triumph and tragedy, Eleanor's legendary story begins when her beloved father dies in the summer of 1137, and she is made to marry the young prince Louis of France. A week after the marriage she becomes a queen and her life will change beyond recognition . . .


Hardcover, 478 pages
Published June 20th 2013 by Sphere (releases in Canada July 16, 2013, US July 2014), but might be available through The Book Depository (that's where I got my copy from)


Ever since reading Skaron Kay Penman's Plantagenets series I have been fascinated with Eleanor of Aquitaine.  So it was just a given  when I heard about this book that it was a 'must read'.  The first in a planned trilogy, beginning when Alienor (that is how she is referred to in this book), is just 13 years old.  

There are times when I anxiously await a new release that I have such high hopes and expectations which causes let down and disappointment when I finally read it.  This was not the case with here, I LOVED THIS BOOK!  I did not rush through this book, but sat back and thoroughly enjoyed the journey.

Elizabeth Chadwick has written a wonderful story on the early life of Alienor, but not just Alienor,  also her sister, Petronella,  King Louis, young Henry and so many more. Starting at age 13 one can't help bonding and cheer for this young girl (we know girls of that age have no say in their lives) as she grows up along side King Louis.

"She had married a young man, never realizing he would become this warped semblance of a monk"

"Though supposedly a grown man and an anoited king, he was so childish and naive that she despaired of him"

This book was well researched and written is such a way that one could smell the flowers, visualize the clothing and feel the lumps and bumps on the journey to Jerusalem.  The book ended in a perfect place where Alienor begins a new phase of her life. I can't wait for book 2!

I highly recommend this book to those your love historical fiction and getting lost in a book.

"Because he sees horizons when the others can barely see as far as the end of their own noses"
 (not referring to King Louis here)
  

 

The Eleanor of Aquitaine Trilogy

The titles in this forthcoming series will be as follows:
  • The Summer Queen - Published in the UK June 13th 2013 and in the USA July 2014.
  • The Autumn Throne
  • The Winter Crown

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

You got trouble, wait don't run this kind of trouble is lots of fun...

July is here and with it brings lots and lots of great reading.  Here is what has arrived at my doorstep in the past 72 hours.
The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick was the first to show up.  I have been waiting for this book ever since I first read Elizabeth was writing it.

Eleanor of Aquitaine is a 12th century icon who has fascinated readers for 800 years. But the real Eleanor remains elusive.
This stunning novel introduces an Eleanor that all other writers have missed. Based on the most up-to-date research, it is the first novel to show Eleanor beginning her married life at 13. Barely out of childhood, this gives an entirely new slant to how Eleanor is treated bv those around her. She was often the victim and her first marriage was horribly abusive.
Overflowing with scandal, passion, triumph and tragedy, Eleanor's legendary story begins when her beloved father dies in the summer of 1137, and she is made to marry the young prince Louis of France. A week after the marriage she becomes a queen and her life will change beyond recognitio.

The Wild Girl by Kate Forysth, came out a month earlier than expected.  I LOVED Bitter Greens and knew this one had to be preordered. You love fairy tales, then this book is for you (so is Bitter Greens too!)

Dortchen Wild fell in love with Wilhelm Grimm the first time she saw him.Growing up in the small German kingdom of Hessen-Cassel in early Nineteenth century, Dortchen Wild is irresistibly drawn to the boy next door, the young and handsome fairy tale scholar Wilhelm Grimm.
It is a time of War, tyranny and terror. Napoleon Bonaparte wants to conquer all of Europe, and Hessen-Cassel is one of the first kingdoms to fall. Forced to live under oppressive French rule, the Grimm brothers decide to save old tales that had once been told by the firesides of houses grand and small all over the land.
Dortchen knows many beautiful old stories, such as 'Hansel and Gretel', 'The Frog King' and 'Six Swans'. As she tells them to Wilhelm, their love blossoms. Yet the Grimm family is desperately poor, and Dortchen's father has other plans for his daughter. Marriage is an impossible dream.
Dortchen can only hope that happy endings are not just the stuff of fairy tales.

The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner is a book that I was able to get from NetGalley when the hardcover was released last year.  I really enjoyed it (click on title for my review) and just had to have a copy to sit beside The Last Queen (which I also loved) on my shelf.

No one believed I was destined for greatness.
So begins Isabella’s story, in this evocative, vividly imagined novel about one of history’s most famous and controversial queens—the warrior who united a fractured country, the champion of the faith whose reign gave rise to the Inquisition, and the visionary who sent Columbus to discover a New World. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner envisages the turbulent early years of a woman whose mythic rise to power would go on to transform a monarchy, a nation, and the world. 
From the glorious palaces of Segovia to the battlefields of Granada and the intrigue-laden gardens of Seville, The Queen’s Vow sweeps us into the tumultuous forging of a nation and the complex, fascinating heart of the woman who overcame all odds to become Isabella of Castile

The Secret History: A novel of Empress Theodora by Stephanie Thornton,
it takes place in Rome and it's Stephanie's debut as well as calling my name.

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…

Venus in Winter by Gillian Bagwell, I've never read anything by this author before but have heard many good things and since it involves a person I find very interesting what choice did I have but to grab it also..

The tale of Bess of Hardwick—the formidable four-time widowed Tudor dynasty who became one of the most powerful women in the history of England.
On her twelfth birthday, Bess of Hardwick receives the news that she is to be a waiting gentlewoman in the household of Lady Zouche. Armed with nothing but her razor-sharp wit and fetching looks, Bess is terrified of leaving home. But as her family has neither the money nor the connections to find her a good husband, she must go to facilitate her rise in society.

When Bess arrives at the glamorous court of King Henry VIII, she is thrust into a treacherous world of politics and intrigue, a world she must quickly learn to navigate. The gruesome fates of Henry’s wives convince Bess that marrying is a dangerous business. Even so, she finds the courage to wed not once, but four times. Bess outlives one husband, then another, securing her status as a woman of property. But it is when she is widowed a third time that she is left with a large fortune and even larger decisions—discovering that, for a woman of substance, the power and the possibilities are endless . . .

The House on Tradd Street by Karen White, another case where this is a  new author to me, apparently this is the beginning to a great series (that's what I hear anyways).

A brilliant, chilling series debut, featuring a Charleston real estate agent who loves old houses and the secret histories inside them.

Practical Melanie Middleton hates to admit she can see ghosts. But she's going to have to accept it. An old man she recently met has died, leaving her his historic Tradd Street home, complete with housekeeper, dog and a family of ghosts anxious to tell her their secrets.
 

Stormbringers by Philippa Gregory, 2nd book in the YA Order of Darkness series. 

Luca Vero is a member of the secret Order of Darkness, tasked with searching out and reporting signs of the end of the world. Breaking his journey in Piccolo, he finds a place filled with superstitious fears: of the unknown, of the forces of the sea and sky, of strangers. With him are his loyal friend and servant, Frieze, and his clerk, Brother Peter, as well as the Lady Isolde and her mysterious servant-companion Ishraq. The five of them are followed into the town by a huge children's crusade, led by a self-proclaimed saint. Its young leader promises that the sea will part before them, and allow them to walk dry-shod all the way to Jerusalem. Luca and Lady Isolde are swept up in the growing excitement; but something dangerous is brewing far out to sea.

There is my reading pile for the month of July, would love to hear what you are reading.