Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Serpents in the Garden by Anna Belfrage

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:  Serpents in the Garden by Anna Belfrage

Anna has become one of my favorite authors and this is a favorite series of mine, can't wait for this book.
To be released in March 2014 

 After years of hard work, Matthew and Alex Graham have created a thriving home in the Colony of Maryland. About time, in Alex’s opinion, after far too many adventures she is really looking forward to some well-deserved peace and quiet. 

A futile hope, as it turns out. Things start to heat up when Jacob, the third Graham son, absconds from his apprenticeship to see the world – especially as Jacob leaves behind a girl whom he has wed in a most irregular fashion.

Then there’s the infected matter of the fellow time traveller Alex feels obliged to help – no matter the risk. Worst of all, one day Philip Burley and his brothers resurface after years of absence. As determined as ever to make Matthew pay for every perceived wrong – starting with the death of their youngest brother – the Burleys play out a complicated cat and mouse game, and Alex is thrown back into an existence where her heart is constantly in her mouth, convinced as she is that one day the Burleys will achieve their purpose.

Will the Burleys succeed? And if they do, will the Graham family survive the exacted price?

Serpents in the Garden is the fifth book in Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Queen's Lady by Barbara Kyle

Abducted as a child-heiress, Honor Larke escapes to London seeking justice from the only lawyer she knows: the brilliant Sir Thomas More. With More as her affectionate guardian, Honor grows to womanhood, when the glitter of the royal court lures her to attend Her Majesty, Queen Catherine of Aragon. But life at Henry VIII’s court holds more than artifice for an intelligent observer, and Honor knows how to watch—and when to act. . . .

Angered by the humiliation heaped upon her mistress as Henry cavorts with Anne Boleyn and presses Rome for a divorce, Honor volunteers to carry letters to the Queen’s allies. It’s a risky game, but Honor is sure she’s playing it well—until she’s proved wrong. Richard Thornleigh may cut a dashing figure at court, but Honor isn’t taken in by his reckless charm. Only later does Honor realize that Richard has awakened something within her—and that he, too, has something to hide. . .

For the King’s actions are merely one knot in a twisted web that stretches across Europe, ensnaring everyone from the lowliest of peasants to the most powerful of nobles. Swept away in a tide of intrigue and danger, the Queen’s lady is about to learn everything: about pride, passion, greed—and the conscience of the King. . . .

Paperback, 500 pages

Published December 1st 2009 by Brava (first published September 1st 1994) 

Here I sit and *sigh* as I type this review hanging my head, I can't believe that it has taken so long to read this book  The whole series has  been sitting on my shelf for a number of years.  
Why did I wait so long?  I am not sure if it was the cover that provoked a 'bodice ripping feel' 
or maybe I was thinking that I couldn't handle another Anne Boleyn story.  How mistaken I was!

I was thrilled to hear that this book was going to be made into an audiobook with the author
herself doing the reading.  Barbara Kyle did a wonderful job of reading this book, she brought
the story to life with her different accents and the right amount of emotion (not too much
and not too little).

The first book in the Thornleigh series (there are 5 of them at present), set during the reign
of Henry VIII during the time of his obsession with Anne Boleyn.  I mostly like to read 
about real historical figures (it is fun to be entertained at the same time as learning some
history). Though this book is based on real historical events, the theme here varied 
from Catherine of Aragon to the religious conflicts to Thomas More, Anne Boleyn and more. 
However, the two main protagonist are fictional and I wasn't sure what I would think of that. 
First introduced to Honor Lark when only 7 years old I was captivated. Thomas More 
becomes her guardian and so begins her story. Her journey was a pleasure to watch, it was 
written with feeling and showed the effect the time period had on the people of England under 
the rule of Henry VIII.  She grew into a woman of conviction who took too many risks for what
she believed in.  This book moved along at a steady pace and I had a hard time stopping, 
there was a lot going on,  mystery, intrigue, romance, conflicts and more.

The only reason that I did not jump right into the next book (The Queen's Daughter) was that 
I didn't have enough credits left at Audible.  Once I have that I will definetely continue with this

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Review & Interview: An Untitled Lady by Nicky Penttila

Shocking family news forces Madeline Wetherby to abandon her plans to marry an earl and settle for upstart Manchester merchant Nash Quinn. When she discovers that her birth father is one of the weavers her husband is putting out of work—and a radical leader—Maddie must decide which family she truly desires, the man of her heart or the people of her blood.

An earl’s second son, Nash chose a life of Trade over Society. When protest marches spread across Lancashire, the pressure on him grows. If he can’t make both workers and manufacturers see reason he stands to lose everything: his business, his town, and his marriage.

As Manchester simmers under the summer sun, the choices grow more stark for Maddie and Nash: Family or justice. Love or money. Life or death.

Publication Date: December 20, 2013
Musa Publishing
ISBN: 9781619375963

This is a book that I was surprised with, pleasantly surprised.  I am not really sure why I even agreed to review this book because romance is really not my thing, so I am really glad that I did.  Yes there is romance but not in an over powering, mushy, unrealistic way, there is also the historical aspect (which I love).  Real life events take place which I think the author did a nice job portraying the situation in a real and honest way.  Her characters are believable, they struggle with so many emotions, love, fear, anxiety, relationships and loyalty (just to name a few)  They make mistakes and are not perfect, they are human.  Again this is another part of history that I did not know about, the author wrote about the conflicts with enough emotion and accuracy to make this book very convincing.


I am grateful that the author, Nicky Penttila has stopped by the answer a couple questions that I had for her.

      Where did your inspiration for this book come from?
A secondary character in my previous regency, A Note of Scandal, kept trying to take over that book. That novel was about the newspaper business, and the character was a reporter (the kind that investigates and observes, not parrots what people say), so I read the histories to find an important story for him to cover. The event I found —a mass demonstration in Manchester—had many of my hot-button issues: rights for women and all people, freedom of speech and assembly, how technology changes the mind and society, how great social change can divide families. But what it didn’t have was a big role for my reporter.
By the second draft, I knew I needed a new male protagonist, and when I saw a way that Nash could straddle the peerage and the working classes, I knew I had something good—and much, much more ambitious than I had planned.
      What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?
Mainly, I hope readers feel that they got a really good ride in the story. The book includes a range of people, some easy to sympathize with and some that are more difficult; I’m hoping that even if readers don’t like a character they can see some merit in the other’s point of view.
      This book is not as much 'romance' as your others, was that your intent or did it just evolve that way?  If so why the change?
It evolved. I started writing romances because I like to read them and because in my day job (newspaper editor) we so often need to take the emotion out of the story. I wanted to write a lot of emotion! But my idea of a lot turns out to be not as much as standard. In many straight romances, when the people are falling in love the rest of the world seems to fade away; in my romances, love sets the rest of the world in sharper relief. My people see their world in a new way, not just themselves or their lover.
      I've read that you like to travel to where your books take place.  Did you travel to Manchester?  How long would you spend there, what would you do and do you take the family with you or is this something you need to do on your own.
I did travel to Manchester, for about 10 days. I’d like to take the family, to get their different impressions—and use their luggage space!—but it wasn’t practical. While there, I took three walking tours of the city, including one specifically on the mass protest that I write about. I went to the People’s History Museum to see artifacts from “my” time, and to the Museum of Science and Industry to see how weaving was done. I went into the amazing John Rylands Library and filled out “visiting scholar” forms so they would fetch a book for me to look at that I couldn’t get at home—and it turned out to be in the city’s main library, available to all. I walked everywhere to see how long it took to get places, and tried to match my mental map from reading Elizabeth Gaskell and Isabella Banks with the streets and buildings here now. There are only a few buildings from that time still standing, so it wasn’t hard to visit each one. I took a couple day trips, to Liverpool and to Hoghton Tower, the basis (partly) for the Earl’s estate in my story.
I also listened to the people talk and tried to match it, but Mancunian dialect is difficult—not just the words and slang, but the structure. I have a hard enough time keeping the American bits out of standard RP English! I decided not to even try putting dialect in my book, except in a couple tiny instances that I had help with.
What are you working on next?

Next is a story set in 1808 in Spain, with reporters, soldiers, printers, and more. And, of course, another field trip: I’m traveling to the Galician region this spring. 


Nicky Penttila writes stories with adventure and love, and often with ideas and history as well. She enjoys coming up with stories that are set in faraway cities and countries, because then she *must* travel there, you know, for research. She lives in Maryland with her reading-mad husband and amazing rescue cat.

She’s chattiest on Twitter, @NickyPenttila, and can also be found at and on Facebook.

Monday, January 6
Feature & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, January 7
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Wednesday, January 8
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review & Giveaway at WTF Are You Reading?
Thursday, January 9
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Friday, January 10
Interview at Mina’s Bookshelf
Monday, January 13
Review at Reading the Ages
Tuesday, January 14
Interview at Layered Pages
Wednesday, January 15
Review at She Is Too Fond of Books
Saturday, January 18
Spotlight at Romantic Historical Reviews
Monday, January 20
Review & Giveaway at Found Between the Covers
Tuesday, January 21
Review at To Read or Not to Read
Wednesday, January 22
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Friday, January 24
Review at Turning the Pages
Monday, January 27
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review & Interview at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, January 28
Review at The Most Happy Reader
Interview at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, January 29
Review at Book Nerd
Friday, January 31
Interview at The Most Happy Reader

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Queen's Exile by Barbara Kyle

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: The Queen's Exiles by Barbara Kyle
Paperback, 448 pages

Expected publication: May 27th 2014 by Kensington

 1572. Europe is in turmoil. In the Netherlands the streets are red with the blood of those who dare to oppose the brutal Spanish occupation. A vengeful faction of exiled English Catholics is plotting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and install her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots on the throne. But amid the unrest, one resourceful young woman has made a lucrative enterprise ...

Scottish-born Fenella Doorn rules like a queen over a privateer's haven on the Isle of Sark. Her success at salvaging crippled vessels affords her gold and security, and it is on one of these ships that she meets wealthy Baron—and privateer—Adam Thornleigh. Secretly drawn to him, Fenella can’t refuse when Adam enlists her to join him in war-torn Brussels to help find his traitorous wife, Frances—and the children she’s taken from him.

But Fenella’s own bold actions have put a price on her head. Now Adam and Fenella’s lives are in peril as they race across Europe in an attempt to rescue his young ones, defend the crown, and restore the peace that few can remember.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Review: Degrees of Courage by Shari Vester (BOOK TOUR)

The book follows the story of three generation of women from 1900 through 1970, seven decades of wars and hardship. At the turn of the century, an era of strict moral codes, Angela falls in love with a priest who abandons her and her unborn child. She overcomes rejection and misfortunes, including losing her right hand, and brings up her daughter, exuberant, stubborn Ilonka. In spite of the stigma of her illegitimate birth, the girl finds happiness in love and marriage, raising five children, among them Sarika, independent and high-spirited, much like herself.  With the outbreak of WWII, however, their lives change drastically, followed by equally hard times as the country falls under Soviet-style dictatorship. When an attempt to free the country in 1956 fails and people start to flee retributions, Sarika and her brothers join the exodus to the West.  With her family torn apart Ilonka never recovers her strength.

Years of fear and political pressures hasten her descend into depression, and when she loses her husband too, she finally gives up. Alone and completely on her own, Sarika finds her way to America, and begins a new life full of opportunities and most importantly, free of fear.

Publication Date: June 19, 2012
Mill City Press
Paperback; 574p

"Only in Sopron, a small gem of a midsize town on the border where Austria and Hungary mingled together did the sun decide it was not a day for it to shine."

And so begins the story of Angela, in the year 1901.   Spanning approx. 70 years this book begins with 18 year old Angela, thrust into the job of caregiver to her 9 younger siblings after the passing of her mother.  Its a heavy responsibility with her ambitions and dreams of the future put on hold.  Without giving away too many details the story continues with her daughter (Ilonka) and then granddaughter (Sari).  There is a lot of history in this book, not just World War I, but also the collapse of the Austria-Hungary Empire, economic depression, World War II and then the political situation when Hungary converted to Communist rule and then the mass exodus out of the country.

This isn't a small book, coming in at 574 pages (over sized softcover, small print) to me it felt like a cross between fiction and non fiction.  The author really knows her history, though how could she not, she lived it. There were times I felt it dragged a little and also confusing with so many names and dates thrown at me.  This I felt mostly during the last part of the book while reading about the Communist rule before the mass exodus. However I do understand that a lot was happening at the time and to omit something would have been difficult.  Her descriptions of the changes in Hungary were vivid and I couldn't help feeling compassion for the people.  This is also a part of history that I know very little about, so reading this book was a real eye-opener for me.

The author has an easy going writing style and I really enjoyed following the lives of the whole family, not just the 3 girls. This book emphasized the importance of family and good friends, of staying true to oneself through the many turmoils endured.  I was sad to see it end, was looking forward to seeing Sari's future play out.

This book will appeal to those that like historical fiction, family saga as well as non fiction.

A great debut.

About the Author

As a young woman, author Shari Vester fled her native Hungary in 1956 after the defeat of a patriotic uprising against the country's Soviet-dictated regime. She was granted asylum in the United States to begin a new life.  After a year living in New York she moved to Los Angeles, married, and worked as an insurance account manager. Recently retired, she and her husband relocated in the Palm Spring area, where she finally found time to write. Her debut novel, Degrees of Courage, is a historical fiction drawn on her family history. It paints a sharp contrast between life as we know it in America, versus a time and place where today's "Let it be" mentality was simply impossible. 

For more information please visit Shari's website.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, January 13
Review at Bloggin’ ’bout Books
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, January 14
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, January 15
Guest Post & Giveaway at HF Connection
Thursday, January 16
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Friday, January 17
Review at Closed the Cover
Monday, January 20
Guest Post & Giveaway at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Tuesday, January 21
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, January 22
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace
Thursday, January 23
Review at From L.A. to LA
Friday, January 24
Review at Silver’s Reviews
Review at Books in the Burbs

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Release Party: Cloaked in Danger

What:  Jeannie Ruesch's Facebook Launch Party for Cloaked in Danger

 Monday, January 273:00 - 7:00pm PST

Publication Date: January 27, 2014
Carina Press
eBook ASIN: B00F93X7ZI 
Aria Whitney has little in common with the delicate ladies of London society. Her famous father made his fortune hunting archaeological treasures, and her rustic upbringing has left her ill prepared for a life of parties and frippery. But when Gideon Whitney goes missing in Egypt, Aria must embrace the unknown. Armed with only the short list of highborn men who’d backed her father’s venture, she poses as a woman looking for a husband. She doesn’t intend to find one.

Adam Willoughby, Earl of Merewood, finds London’s strangest new debutante fascinating, but when he catches her investigating his family’s secrets, he threatens to ruin her reputation. He doesn’t intend to enjoy it so much.

When their lustful indiscretion is discovered, Adam finds that he regrets nothing. But now, as Aria’s father’s enemy draws near, Adam must convince his betrothed that she can trust him with her own secrets…before it’s too late.

About Jeannie Ruesch

Jeannie Ruesch wrote her first story at the age of the six, prompting her to give up an illustrious, hours-long ambition of becoming a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader and declare that writing was her destiny. That journey to destiny took a few detours along the way, including a career in marketing and design.

Her first novel, a fairy-tale like historical romance, was published in 2009, but the darker side of life had always captivated her. So after a dinner conversation with friends about the best way to hide a dead body, she knew she had to find a way to incorporate suspense into her writing. (The legal outlet for her fascination.)
Today, she continues writing what she loves to read – stories of history, romance and suspense. She lives in Northern California with her husband, their son and an 80 pound lapdog lab named Cooper.

She is also the creator of the WIP Notebook, a writer’s tool to help stay organized while you write, which you can find at her website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Isabella: Braveheart of France by Colin Falconer (BOOK TOUR)

She was taught to obey. Now she has learned to rebel.

Isabella is just twelve years old when she marries Edward II of England. For the young princess it is love at first sight - but Edward has a terrible secret that threatens to tear their marriage - and England apart.

Who is Piers Gaveston - and why is his presence in the king’s court about to plunge England into civil war?

The young queen believes in the love songs of the troubadours and her own exalted destiny - but she finds reality very different. As she grows to a woman in the deadly maelstrom of Edward’s court, she must decide between her husband, her children, even her life - and one breath-taking gamble that will change the course of history.

Does she submit to a lifetime of solitude and a spiritual death - or seize her destiny and take the throne of England for herself?

This is the story of Isabella, the only woman ever to invade England - and win.

Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Cool Gus Publishing
Paperback; 218p


I love reading a book that begins with a young girl that I can watch grow into a strong women, where I can witness her change from childhood to adulthood.  That is what Colin Falconer has delivered with Isabella: Braveheart of France.  Introduced to Isabella when she is just 12 years old and marries King Edward II, she knows her role in life, her father, the king of France, made sure she understood her place.  She wants to be a good wife, a good queen and most of all she wants to be loved and cherished.

There were times in this book that I had to stop and remind myself that Isabella was raised in the French court, she was mature beyond her years and she proved that in the English court. It's too bad that Edward II had issues, some serious issues.  Where Isabella is self confident and strong, Edward II is the opposite.

I enjoyed the fact that I knew nothing about Isabella before starting this book.  For me the book started off a little slow and I had a hard time getting into it, but at the half way point I was engrossed and finished it the next day. This book is only 218 pages long, however I think that it could have benefited from some more details and maybe more interaction with their children, I was interested in their lives also since very little is mentioned about them.

But all in all, I am glad that I read it and enjoyed it.  This is my first novel by Colon Falconer and I will check out more of his writings.  This book will appeal to those that like historical fiction with emphasis on the royal family.

About the Author
Born in London, Colin first trialed as a professional football player in England, and was eventually brought to Australia. He went to Sydney and worked in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has published over twenty novels and his work has so far been translated into 23 languages.

He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz.

His most recent novels are Silk Road, set in the 13th century, and Stigmata, set against the backdrop of the Albigensian Crusade in Southern France in 1209. He currently lives in Barcelona.

For more information please visit Colin Falconer's blog. You can also find him on Facebook or follow on Twitter.

Be sure to check out the other stop on this tour.

Monday, January 6
Review at Seaside Book Corner
Tuesday, January 7
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Wednesday, January 8
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Thursday, January 9
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Friday, January 10
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, January 13
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, January 14
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, January 15
Review at Ageless Pages Review
Thursday, January 16
Review at Dee’s Reads
Friday, January 17
Review at Just One More Chapter
Monday, January 20
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, January 21
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Wednesday, January 22
Review at The Bookworm
Thursday, January 23
Review & Giveaway at Words & Peace
Friday, January 24
Review at The Most Happy Reader
Monday, January 27
Review at Carpe Librum
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, January 28
Review at Reading the Ages
Wednesday, January 29
Review at Book Drunkard
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Friday, January 31
Review at Turning the Pages
Monday, February 3
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Tuesday, February 4
Review at Historical Fiction Notebook
Wednesday, February 5
Review at Book of Secrets
Thursday, February 6
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Friday, February 7
Review at Found Between the Covers

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

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: Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

I love the cover and the synopsis of the book.

Hardcover, 496 pages
Expected publication: January 21st 2014 by Ballantine Books 

In her masterful new novel, Nancy Horan has recreated a love story that is as unique, passionate, and overwhelmingly powerful as the one between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney depicted so memorably in Loving Frank. Under the Wide and Starry Sky chronicles the unconventional love affair of Scottish literary giant Robert Louis Stevenson, author of classics including Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and American divorcee Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. They meet in rural France in 1875, when Fanny, having run away from her philandering husband back in California, takes refuge there with her children. Stevenson too is escaping from his life, running from family pressure to become a lawyer. And so begins a turbulent love affair that will last two decades and span the world.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin

A captivating, atmospheric return to historical fiction that is every bit as convincing and engrossing as Martin's landmark Mary Reilly.

In 1872 the American merchant vessel Mary Celeste was discovered adrift off the coast of Spain. Her cargo was intact and there was no sign of struggle, but the crew was gone. They were never found.

This maritime mystery lies at the center of an intricate narrative branching through the highest levels of late-nineteenth-century literary society. While on a voyage to Africa, a rather hard-up and unproven young writer named Arthur Conan Doyle hears of the Mary Celeste and decides to write an outlandish short story about what took place. This story causes quite a sensation back in the United States, particularly between sought-after Philadelphia spiritualist medium Violet Petra and a rational-minded journalist named Phoebe Grant, who is seeking to expose Petra as a fraud. Then there is the family of the Mary Celeste's captain, a family linked to the sea for generations and marked repeatedly by tragedy. Each member of this ensemble cast holds a critical piece to the puzzle of the Mary Celeste.

These three elements—a ship found sailing without a crew, a famous writer on the verge of enormous success, and the rise of an unorthodox and heretical religious fervor—converge in unexpected ways, in diaries, in letters, in safe harbors and rough seas. In a haunted, death-obsessed age, a ghost ship appearing in the mist is by turns a provocative mystery, an inspiration to creativity, and a tragic story of the disappearance of a family and of a bond between husband and wife that, for one moment, transcends the impenetrable barrier of death.

Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: January 28th 2014 by Nan A. Talese 
(my copy provided by Edelweiss for a honest review)

I love a good mystery, I love a good ghost story and this book has both.  Beginning with the very first chapter I was drawn right in, finishing this book in a matter of days. There are so many layers to this story and I liked how they were all woven together.

This book starts with an action packed first chapter and then evens out for the rest of the book.  There is a lot going on in this book, however the way the chapters are laid out, with appropriate titles (with year) it isn't hard to follow.  At times I wondered what Arthur Conan Doyle had to do with this story, but the writing style kept me going and I was soon to get the connection.

Does did book answer the question of what happened to/on the Mary Celeste, well no it doesn't but it is a wonderful 'it could have happened this way'.  My first time reading Valerie Martin and I will be on the look out for more by her.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Lion and the Rose by Kate Quinn

From the national bestselling author of The Serpent and the Pearl comes the continuing saga of the ruthless family that holds all of Rome in its grasp, and the three outsiders thrust into their twisted web of blood and deceit . . .

As the cherished concubine of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, Giulia Farnese has Rome at her feet. But after narrowly escaping a sinister captor, she realizes that the danger she faces is far from over—and now, it threatens from within. The Holy City of Rome is still under Alexander’s thrall, but enemies of the Borgias are starting to circle. In need of trusted allies, Giulia turns to her sharp-tongued bodyguard, Leonello, and her fiery cook and confidante, Carmelina.

Caught in the deadly world of the Renaissance’s most notorious family, Giulia, Leonello, and Carmelina must decide if they will flee the dangerous dream of power. But as the shadows of murder and corruption rise through the Vatican, they must learn who to trust when every face wears a mask . . .

Paperback, 464 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Berkley Trade 
(my copy provided by Edelweiss for my honest review)

The first book in this series, The Serpent and the Pearl, was an audio read (via Audible) for me.
The readers did a wonderful job of telling this story, I fell in love with Guilia, Leonello and
Camelina, their accents fit the characters perfectly and really brought that story to life.  I was 
hoping that this book would also be available in audio, but alas it isn't (at least at the time
of this review). 

Set in the late 1400's Rome during the reign of the Borgia's, Kate Quinn has delivered yet 
again.  Reading this book I could still visualize the accents and mannerisms of the 3 main 
protagonists. Continuing where The Serpent and the Pearl left off in the lives of Guila, 
Leonello and Carmelina. It was written in such a way that I had a hard time putting this book 
down. Full of corruption, deceit, murder, romance, mystery, power and much more at the
hands of Rodrigo Borgia (also known as Pope Alexander VI) and his children (who could 
do no wrong).  A book that shows the power of one family and the control and 
impact that they had over Rome.  A book that is fast paced and had me reading
late into the night. But at almost 500 pages, not a quick read though worth every
one of them.

Kate Quinn has been a favourite of mine ever since reading Mistress of Rome, I love her 
writing style and the way she develops her characters.  She brought them to life with the 
right amount of scandal, drama and a touch of humor.  Told from the point of view of Guila,
Leonella and Carmella I couldn't wait to see how their characters evolved and where the 
author was taking them.  Also watching minor characters from The Serpent take on a larger
role here, specifically Bartolomeo (I will never look at spuds the same way again) was

You can read this as a stand alone, but why? Read the first, you won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Giveaway ending soon

Only 2 more days to enter for a chance to win a copy of The Concubine by Norah Lofts
(click on picture to take you to the entry)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Concubine by Norah Lofts (review and giveaway)

Acclaimed and beloved historical novelist Norah Lofts brings to life the danger, romance, and intrigue of the Tudor court that forever altered the course of English history.

The king first noticed Anne Boleyn as a heartbroken sixteen-year-old, sullen and beautiful after a thwarted romance with the son of the Earl of Northumberland. "All eyes and hair," a courtier had said disparagingly of her, but when King Henry VIII fell for young Anne, nothing could keep him from what he desired. Against common sense and the urgings of his most trusted advisors, Henry defied all, blindly following his passion for Anne, using the power he held over the bodies and souls of all who reside in his realm and beyond. Anne's ascent to the throne elevates her from lady-in-waiting to the highest position a woman could attain, but her life spirals out of control when Henry is driven to desperate acts of betrayal and violence. The consequences of Anne's rise to power and eventual demise are felt well beyond the inner circle of the court. Loyalties, to church, to queen, to country, are tested, and — in the wake of the king's volatile passions — can be an unpredictable matter of life and death.

First published in 1963 and adored by readers for generations, Lofts' lush and moving portrayal of the ambitious and doomed Anne Boleyn will continue to reign as a classic retelling of this epic chapter of history vividly brought to life.

Paperback, 464 pages
Published June 10th 2008 by Touchstone (first published 1963) 

I've read enough books about Anne Boleyn, I am so familiar with her story now that I figured anything more would be boring and mundane. Coming up to December I really wanted to clear off my shelves, plus having read Norah Loft's book on Eleanor of Aquitaine I basically thought 'what the heck'.  Audible had the audio version and away I went.

Not a short book, coming in at over 16 hours (or 464 pages long), I dug in.  The reader did a wonderful job, she set a pace that was not too fast or too slow.  Pleasantly surprised and thoroughly drawn into this story, I can honestly say that it is one of my favorites about Anne Boleyn. This book showed a side of Anne that is not written about much.  A side that showed some compassion and feeling, I found myself routing for her and somehow hoping history had changed.

This book also showed the relationship between Anne and her sister Mary in a sensitive light, which was very believable. This book has a lot going for it and I encourage any Tudor fan to give it a try (I will help you do that too, see below).

Like I stated in my review of Eleanor by Norah Lofts, will definitely be reading more of her books.

Somehow I ended up with 2 copies of this book, so I am offering a paperback edition to one lucky reader.
Open international, ending on January 10th at midnight.

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