Monday, June 29, 2009

Book Review: POPE JOAN by Donna Woolfolk Cross

Being set in the 9Th century Pope Joan's extraordinary one of a kind story humbles a person to be grateful we do not live in such times anymore. At the end a reader question was asked of why the brutality? I personally had come to expect a extreme brutality since it is the 9Th century, not 19Th century and in my mind set I had pictured an extreme living. A time of darkness in which life was unforgiving and most cruel. Many were lucky if they happened to make it past twenty five. Sleeping on the dirt with animals is literally what had come to my mind. In this time women were also objects of possession, thought to be completely with out sense or thought. My personal feelings of why I love historical fiction so much is it brings life into prospective. That we are so fortunate to have evolved into a era of higher learning, science, and are encouraged as women to our own self empowerment. That we may choose our own fate and destiny, and we can reach for the sky and there is no limit to what is up there.

Joan grew up with her father "The Cannon" and her mother Gundrun "the heathen", she also had two older brothers Mathew and John. The Cannon was cruel in his firm religious belief. He had brought her mother back with him from a missionary in Saxony. Pushing his sons to a higher learning and forcing his daughter and wife into abusive submission. "A woman's hair, her husband said, is the net wherein Satan catches a man's soul". Her oldest brother Matthew taught her secretly how to read and write, all the time being afraid of what the Cannon might do if he found out. Matthew perished and with him all Joan's hope of an education. Hopelessly she showed her father she could read and she paid for it almost with her life. Joan had developed very early in life a sense of how to fight for her right to survive, her unbreakable spirit, and even on the verge of death would not surrender her spirit. She made it over hurdle after hurdle after hurdle in a mans arena with out truly ever reaching a point of safe ground even in her own household.

Her courage and ability to question led her to some very interesting people who would play an important role in her life. The first was her Greek tutor Aesculspius who had arrived to teach her brother but he took Joan as a student instead and had to be coerced into teaching her brother John. I firmly believe everyone has a destiny. Sometimes we have to fight for it even if we do not know what it is we are fighting for. Joan is a perfect example of this, she was smart, smarter than most, she knew it, and it got her into trouble. Escaping her father's wrath, Joan went onto the schola to further her education, her Greek tutor had found her a place there even though it was a boys only school. There she was to meet Gerold, the knight in shining armor. He spoke up for her in the beginning and took her in as his ward. She lived with his family and worked on her education continuously fighting the constant threat she posed as a woman among men. Until the fateful horrific attack on the town by Vikings. Joan the woman died but John the man (her deceased brother) lived just long enough to escape the horror, and flee.

In a string of events Joan ends up in Rome after leaving the monastery of Fulda where she had lived for many years after the Vikings attack in her disguise as John. A inquisitive mind such as Joan's, it figures she would become what they called a doctor, she had the unquenchable thirst for knowledge, always questioning. Fully devoting herself to her philanthropy work previously at the monastery and now to the throne of St. Peter. She went where help was needed and with out fear. In Rome she was John. She never forgot that there were people out there who had nothing, came from nothing, that society expects them to stay nothing hiding in the shadows. Refusing to give up on people, she deeply cared, where there is a will there is a way. It led her into becoming Pope, she never gave up reason for the people. One determined "old soul" who always thought of others first and foremost. A woman as Pope, unthinkable right? How would they even think to question with out a reason or a cause.

I loved this book I was kind of getting bored after my last review. Where nothing seems pleasing, floundering in the wind, and nothing really grabbing me. This was just what I needed. It gave me the ump I needed to go back to my TBR list. Thank you Donna for so graciously sending me a copy to review, it was a pleasure! I will be patiently waiting for her next book which is to be set in 17Th century France, ooh. Also the book will be a movie, set to come out soon, and which is going to be worth getting a babysitter to see in the theaters. This is such a inpisring quote and it was in the questions response, As George Santayana said, "Those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it".

"A Synopsis of Pope Joan
: As its title reveals, the novel is based on the life of one of the most fascinating, extraordinary women in Western history--Pope Joan, a controversial figure of historical record who, disguised as a man, rose to rule Christianity in the 9Th century as the first and only woman to sit on the throne of St. Peter.
Brilliant and talented, young Joan rebels against the medieval social strictures forbidding women to learn to read and write. When her older brother is killed during a Viking attack, Joan takes up his cloak and identity, goes to the monastery of Fulda, and is initiated into the brotherhood in his place. As Brother John Anglicus, Joan distinguishes herself as a great Christian scholar. Eventually she is drawn to Rome, where she becomes enmeshed in a dangerous web of love, passion, and politics. Triumphing over appalling odds, she finally attains the highest throne in Christendom.
Pope Joan is a sweeping historical drama set against the turbulent events of the 9Th century -- the Saracen sack of St. Peter's, the famous fire in the Borgo that destroyed over three-quarters of the Vatican, the Battle of Fontenoy, arguably the bloodiest and most terrible of medieval conflicts. The novel is a fascinating vivid record of what life was really like during the so-called Dark Ages, as masterwork of suspense and passion that has as its center an unforgettable woman, reminiscent of Jean Auel's Ayla, Jane Austen's Emma, and other heroines who struggle against restrictions their souls will not accept."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sundays Art: The destruction of the Irminsul by Charlemagne

Artist Heinrich Leutemann in 1882. Since I am currently reading Pope Joan I felt that it was necessary to bring to light my love of all forms of mythology, Egyptian, Roman, Greek, and now added Germanic Paganism. My mother had read stories of Thor and other Greek gods to me as a child. Kind of an unusually bedtime story but it sprouted my dear fondness for mythology.

Irminsul "The universal tree" Old Saxon, probably "great or mighty pillar" or "arising pillar" was a kind of pillar which is attested as playing an important role in the Germanic paganism of the Saxon people. The oldest chronicle describing an Irminsul refers to it as a tree trunk erected in the open air.

According to the Royal Frankish Annals CE 772, during the Saxon wars, Charlemagne is repeatedly described as ordering the destruction of the chief seat of their religion, an Irminsul.
The Irminsul is described as not being far from Heresburg now Stadtbergen , Germany.

Whether it was a tree or a column it was sadly destroyed to oppress the "heathen" religion.

Today in History, Happy Birthday Henry VIII

Happy Birthday Henry VIII, born June 28Th 1491. Bed, wed, and behead was Henry's norm. I have posted many articles about the wives of Henry, especially Anne Boleyn because she is my favorite. Today is Henry's day and yes he did have six wives. First, Catherine of Aragon died in banishment from the court. Second, Anne Boleyn was beheaded on Henry's trumpet up charges on adultery and incest. Third, Jane Seymour died shortly after giving birth to Henry's son. Fourth, Anne of Cleve's marriage was annulled because it was never consummated. Fifth Catherine Howard ( wife number two's cousin) was beheaded for adultery. Sixth Catherine Parr was the only one who lived past Henry. It has been speculated that he would have divorced her too if he had lived longer. She was a good nurse to Henry in the end. She went on to marry Thomas Seymour (brother of wife three).

Henry was an avid sportsman. He enjoyed hunting, jousting, wrestling, and anything else physical. Obviously he was arrogant but he also enjoyed the softer things of life like composing music and poetry. He was a constant supporter of the liberal arts, employing Hans Holbein in his court. He was also dedicated to higher learning and contributed to the colleges often.

Henry had a special quality a glittering magnetism that made people drawn to him not only because he was king but because they were drawn to him. Like an Arabian horse drawn to an oasis in a desert. He was a deeply religious man, whether it changed from catholic or protestant. Daily he went to church and read from the scriptures. He was a faithful man to his beliefs but was never faithful to any of his wives. He would change everything, no one would be safe from the kings wrath, not even the church. The Act of Supremacy in 1534 declared that the King was "the only Supreme Head in Earth of the Church of England" and the Treason Act 1534 made it high treason, punishable by death, to refuse to acknowledge the King as such. England separated with Rome leaving many theological issues for many successors to follow.

Crazy that in this life I should be so lucky as to be very close to two people that share the same birthday. First of all my mother in law, second my sweet daughter who happened to be born five days over my due date. They all share the same birthday June 28Th, and I swear moody, moody, crabby crabs. I feel it is only fitting to include his astrology sign, it opens a window to what type of person he was.
"As we enter the Golden Age of Aquarius, you are ready to receive all the blessings that are there for you, especially in the areas of communications and relationships.
Being understood and getting the responses you desire helps you believe in your ability to succeed and reach your highest potential. Your focus is excellent, and you know what you want. Use this to your advantage when working with others, but don't demand that they see your ideas as visionary -- even if you do. As ideas start flowing freely to you, make sure you articulate your insights clearly.
This year, you will be strongly motivated by transformation, especially in romantic unions. When balanced in your heart and mind, you easily express your emotions and are quick to support others. It is important for you to have a partner who is willing to explore different ways of doing things. You will experience many changes as you learn new ways of expressing yourself.
As you make this shift, avoid putting restrictions on yourself and stopping the flow. You are learning to behave in a new positive way, not worrying about the outcome. This will curb your need to control situations and enable you to take your relationships -- work and personal -- to a higher level of consciousness."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Sorted Book Project

"Browsing through my blog, I found a link to this post about the “Sorted Book Project.” Go read it. I’ll wait. The idea is to take a few books and physically sort them in such a way that the titles make some kind of sense … something that I’ve never quite gotten around to doing and photographing, but which fascinates me.
What title/combinations can you come up with? (Bonus points if you actually assemble the books and photograph them, like in the original post.)"

I have always had an OCD love affair with my library, but this one I have never heard of. So here it is: To Hold the Crown In the Shadow of the Sun King, A Secret Alchemy Forbidden Knowledge, The Last Plantagnets In Cold Blood Polishing The Diamond Enlightening The Mind. Whoo, that was a hard one but I only used the titles and it made me realize how truely lacking my library is.

Today in History, Loosing Mary Tudor

Mary died at Westhorpe Hall, Westhorpe, Suffolk on 25 June 1533, and was initially buried at the abbey at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Her body was moved to nearby St. Mary's Church, also in Bury St Edmunds, when the abbey was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Her husband soon married their son's fiancée, who was also their ward, fourteen-year-old Catherine Willoughby, by whom he had two sons.

Her relationship with her brother Henry VIII had turned sour over his sought annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Whom Mary had become close with. She strongly disliked Anne Boleyn, they had previously met in France when Mary married old king Louis XII.

After Louis died she secretly married the ladies man Charles Brandon. They had three children together, and Mary was also grandmother of the executed Lady Jane Grey.
She spent most of her time in the country estate of Westhorpe Hall in Suffolk

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Today In History, Happy Birthday Robert Dudley

The notorious ladies man Robert Dudley 1st Earl of Leicester's birthday was June 24Th 1532. He was long time favorite of Queen Elizabeth I being named master of the horse, privy councillor, and later became Lord Steward of the Royal Household. He was Elizabeth's champion of the Protestant faith. Lavishing Elizabeth in frequent entertainments designed specifically to please her.

He was also married to Amy Robsart who fell down a flight of stairs and died in 1560. Court rumor's had been flying over Robert and Elizabeth's close relationship many believed them to be lovers, and now that his wife was dead in a freak accident. Many took the opportunity to slander the queen's favorite, and go so far to speculate that he had done away with her.

His grandfather, father, and brother were all executed for treason to the crown. The latter trying to start a
monarchy called "The Tree of Commonwealth" was executed after trying to escape by Henry VIII. Father and brother were later executed for unsuccessfully trying to place lady Jane Grey on the throne. Jane was executed and Dudley was still imprisoned for aiding his rebellious father with Jane's placement. Robert was condemned to die with them but miraculously he remained a prisoner in the Tower of London by Queen Mary. Coincidentally Elizabeth also had been sent to the Tower on the orders of her half-sister, the Queen.

After being released it is said the two became close at Hatfield Robert even helped her out financially at one point. All the while he was still married to Amy. Elizabeth came to the crown when her half sister Mary died childless. Robert planned an elaborate coronation for Elizabeth. Having been close most of their lives Elizabeth bestowed upon him titles, lands, estates, and eventually Dudley's bedchamber at court was invariably adjacent to Elizabeth's or had a private access to her.

Sadly Elizabeth would never marry Robert after Amy's death. The court would not tolerate him as king, they had a hard enough time excepting him as favorite. The court would try to push Elizabeth into a different direction of a foreign marriage. Robert was a notorious lover of many women and many men hated him and who he descended from. He ended up marrying Lettice Knolly's first cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth on her mother's side. He could not have Elizabeth so he settle for her cousin. A rift had developed between them but it did diminish her fondness for him. Elizabeth although did pretty much ban Lettice from all social events and refereed to her as "the she-wolf".

In July 1588, the Earl of Leicester was appointed "Lieutenant and Captain-General of the Queen's Armies and Companies" as the Spanish Armada came nearer, he was beside Elizabeth on her famous review of the troops. After victory, he dined every day alone with the Queen. A week after farewell to Elizabeth, he died on his way to Derbyshire to take the bath. Elizabeth was devastated at the loss of her old friend and "honorary consort"
and locked herself in her apartment for a few days, until Lord Burghley had the door broken down. She kept his letter that he had sent her only six days before his death, and wrote on it "His Last Letter." She put it in her treasure box at her bedside, and it was still there when she died 15 years later.

For further reading about Robert my favorites are The queens Fool by Philippa Gregory and The Queen's Bastard by Robin Maxwell

Monday, June 22, 2009

Book Review: MY ENEMY THE QUEEN by Victoria Holt aka Jean Plaidy

Lettice Knolly's father was Francis Knolly's he was a gentleman pensioner of Henry VIII. Her mother was Catherine Carey, daughter of Lady Mary Boleyn. She grew up on her father's country estate at Greys Court in Rotherfield Greys and at his town house in nearby Reading. The family fled to Switzerland when Queen Mary I of England ascended the throne. Her firm Catholic stance would earn her the nickname bloody Mary for all the 'heretics' she burned which was anyone not catholic. The Knolly's family returned home to England when Elizabeth I ascended to the throne after Queen Mary's death. Her father was named Treasurer of the Household and her mother Chief Lady of the Bedchamber and Lettice was now lady in waiting to the new Queen.

Young and vivacious Lettice from the beginning was the who who was an explicit the big
"B". She was selfish, vain, and what men of today would call high maintenance. I had read many novels that have explored more of the rumor that Catherine Carey was actually King Henry's daughter. This rumor never came into play, which gave a chance for more of a tangible reason why the Lettice and Elizabeth had friction prior to Robert Dudley. Her mother would compare her and the other children to that of "their scholar cousin Elizabeth, who speaks already three languages". Being compared to Elizabeth her whole life and then going to court to be a servant was too envious for her. She was jaded on life and wanted attention, the bad girl who does things just because they can. The scariest part of her was she was wicked smart and able to not get caught unless she wanted to. She first saw Robert Dudley, Elizabeth's new Master of the Horse in the accession parade through London. Robert a glittering diamond of manhood beside her. Lettice was enchanted. I personally have always pictured him as a playboy who was dashing, daring, and in the category of Gone with the Wind, a lost breed of man. It all came down to plain ol' jealousy, Lettice had the case of the green envy.

She sought to seek and destroy, all the while she married another, peeved at the thought Robert had never bothered to notice her. She went to her new husbands estate and bore two daughters. She returned to court and after that is where is got juicy between her and Robert, the queen's favorite. The queen taking notice of the lustful eyes at court she ordered her home, she quickly had two more children, settled into family life and began to forget about Robert Dudley. That of course could not be the end of Robin. Lettice returned to court and reunited with robin to their lusty love affair, she liked it because it was dangerous and thrilling.

They say that Carma is a "B" and you get what you put out there. Lettice had it coming and bad, Elizabeth had commonly refereed to her as "the she wolf" and with good reason. She had snatched up Robin in the midst of scandal and now was banished from court after marrying him in secret. You have to reap what you sow and a selfish person such as herself was bound to still be a constant thorn in the queen's side. Not to mention the scandal that her son would cause later in the Queen's heart and court.

I was lucky enough to find this book at a used book store for 1.25$, dang lucky dog. I really enjoyed this book it was a bit more lusty than say a queen of England series book. Or maybe it was just Lattice's character. A defiant must read with a view point of Elizabeth's whole rein from a arch enemy perspective.

"She was the beautiful impetuous Lettice Devereux. It was Lettice who married the Earl of Leicester, who Elizabeth I loved. And it was Lettice who was the mother of the Queen's beloved Earl of Essex. That young Earl would one day break the queens heart. It was always Lettice, the constant spoiler in the triangle of love surrounding Elizabeth...."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Fathers Day: We love you all!

So sweet I just had to share my favorite picture of my husband and daughter for fathers day. I came across a quote that fits most daddy's "A daddy is a man who has pictures in his wallet where his money used to be". Here is to all the hard working daddy's who love their families and never give up no matter how hard it gets. We love you all!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sundays Art: Tudor's Jonathan Rhys Meyers

I had to do this, I found this by chance he he. I remember a post by Amy of Passages of the Past where it had come up of "how could anyone hate this man". Point very well taken Amy. I am a avid Tudor's fan and I have noticed the changes they have done in the most recent episodes of how he is suppose to be mean old Henry. When Anne was executed he was colorful and towards her end he had a slight mow hawk of defiance. He is currently sporting longer slicked back hair and wears all black. Like that is going to make him mean. He is still hott and yes the show is scandalous but that is what makes it Tudor's.

Booking through Thursday: Sci Fi

June 23 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Day! What might you do on the 23rd to celebrate? Do you even read fantasy/sci-fi? Why? Why not?

I currently do not read any Sci Fi or Fantasy novels. I did how ever read only fantasy when I was a young adult. My favorite first author was Piers Anthony and later in college was Anne Rice. I have tried to go back and it just is not the same for me anymore I need realism.

Anne Rice helped me evolve my taste in reading in the Vampire Chronicles, I found that I more enjoyed the history aspect of living forever, watching the rise and fall of civilizations, society give way to invention, and even industrialization. To live to see all history and thrive on it was fascinating to me. I enjoyed the fantasy of living forever to wander time. Evolution is part of who we are and even our taste in books evolve. I still to this day own every book written by Anne Rice associated or in the Vampire Chronicles. You never forget your first love right?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Book Store Adventures In Portland

Hello All I just had to share that yesterday I went to a local used bookstore for the first time. Wow, I snagged some really good finds like Courts of love, My Enemy the Queen, The third George, Goddess of the Green Room, Indiscretions of the Queen, Hammer of Scots, Red Rose of Anjou, The Follies of the King, & William's Wife all by Jean Plaidy aka Victoria Holt. What is amazing is I got them all for a little less than twenty dollar. All though they are paper back and the really old covers some from the 70's. I still love them all! This is for all of you out there who can not afford to buy every new book that come out be sure and check your local used book store. It is like finding hidden treasure that you did not even know you were missing.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Today In History: The Magna Carta & King John

On June 15Th 1215 King John of England Seals the Magna Carta. The youngest son of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II. He was a Plantagenet or Angevin king of England. The popular legend king who was arch enemy of Robin Hood. In the Disney version of Robin Hood King John in his sleep calls out for mommy. Which as a child I thought was very funny. The reason probably being that the real King John had a very turbulent child hood and his mother Eleanor was imprisoned some 16 years by his father. He is probably best-known for having acquiesced to the barons of English nobility, to seal the document The Magna Carta, a document which limited kingly power in England and which is popularly thought as an early first step in the evolution of modern democracy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sundays Art: Marie Antoinette

Happy relaxing Sunday all! From now on every Sunday will be Sunday's Art day with each week featuring a new art work. This Week's is Marie Antoinette in 1778, A preparatory drawing for the famous official portrait of Marie Antoinette. Painted by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun. This is one of the few that I believe really conveys more of who Marie was, and the softer side of her personality.

Sundays Art: Marie Antoinette & The Storming of The Tuilleries

"The Tuilleries 20Th June 1792" By unknown artist. I love this painting for many reasons one of them being that there is much more than meets the eye. I would like to know more of the details but I have been unlucky in all attempts. I am really intrigued by the woman across the table in black with the endearing look. Why is she with the revolutionist but not wearing a single stitch of red and why are they all looking towards her like she has a plan? Any info would be wonderful!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Release, The Queen's Mistake: In the Court Of Henry VIII by Diane Haeger

Releasing on Paperback October 6Th 2009
Not a usual new hard back release but this one managed to slip by me in hardback. Diane Hager also wrote some must read books called The Secret Bride and The Perfect Royal Mistress. Since I enjoyed the other two titles I am positive this will be well worth the read.

When the young and beautiful Catherine Howard becomes the fifth wife of the fifty-year-old King Henry VIII, she seems to be on top of the world. Yet her reign is destined to be brief and heartbreaking, as she is forced to do battle with enemies far more powerful and calculating than she could have ever anticipated in a court where one wrong move could mean her undoing. Wanting only love, Catherine is compelled to deny her heart’s desire in favor of her family’s ambition. But in so doing, she unwittingly gives those who sought to bring her down a most effective weapon—her own romantic past.

The Queen’s Mistake is the tragic tale of one passionate and idealistic woman who struggles to negotiate the intrigue of the court and the yearnings of her heart.

Booking through Thursday: Niche

There are certain types of books that I more or less assume all readers read. (Novels, for example.)

But then there are books that only YOU read. Instructional manuals for fly-fishing. How-to books for spinning yarn. How to cook the perfect souffle. Rebuilding car engines in three easy steps. Dog training for dummies. Rewiring your house without electrocuting yourself. Tips on how to build a NASCAR course in your backyard. Stuff like that.

What niche books do YOU read?

My number one niche area of books that have followed me ever since I started my hobby is guides to saltwater aquariums and fish. Since we have two salt water reef tanks, sometimes it is good to have them as a reference. I also enjoy anything to do with plants, gardening, and landscaping.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Book Review: THE MAN IN THE PICTURE by Susan Hill

I am beginning to think that I do not I do not have a normal book genre and I am being pulled in new directions, in a good way. I NEVER read scary books. I am what my husband call wussy, I hate scary movies, books, rides, anything scary, because I get genuinely scared. In college I read a book called In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. For all of you who have never watched the TV show friends, on one particular episode Joey finds that Rachel has a book in her freezer, and he asks what the heck it it doing there. She replied "it is so scary when I read it I get scared and throw it into the freezer afterwards" the book was The Shining. Joey in the end becomes scared of the book too after reading it. I feel the same way about Capote's book, so much still to his day that I came across the book at my moms house and it made me cringe almost ten years later.

I was initially drawn to this book because of its physical appearance, being the size of a half book, and having less than 150 pages. I figured even though it said it was a ghost story, I was going to be brave and try and read it. I was pleasantly surprised that it was more of a eerie thriller and not too scary.

Oliver who lives in London, pays a visit to an old Cambridge professor of his who he has genuinely become friends with over the years. During his visit to Theo he notices a painting that has a unusual mascaraed scene in it. Oliver was instantly drawn to it asking Theo questions of how he acquired the piece. Theo in response told him, I would like to tell you a story, mostly for my sake, to alleviate some of the burden. Theo's story started with how he came across the painting at an auction, & won the paintings auction. Immediately after a mysterious man appeared and wanted to purchase the painting for any price Theo named. He refused and the man told him he would regret it. After some time he had the painting at his home when one day the light hit it just right and a mysterious man appeared in the masquerade scene, being dragged to a boat on the canal by two men, with a distress look about him. He had never noticed before in the painting.

After a series of spooky happenings Oliver is contacted by a duchess who extended an invitation to her country home to talk to him about the painting. Wearily he arrived and met the duchess, who was probably well into her nineties. She wanted the painting and Theo knew it, but the story she told of the painting and the history of it was astounding and down right creepy.

I can not give anymore details or it will ruin the mystery but I can say it is well worth it to read this tale of the mysterious masquerade painting. If a picture is worth a thousand word, imagine how many words a painting is worth. I will be buying this one amazon has used copies for only three dollars.

"An extraordinary ghost story from a modern master. In the apartment of Oliver's old professor at Cambridge, there is a painting on the wall, a mysterious depiction of masked revelers at the Venice carnival. On this cold winter's night, the old professor has decided to reveal the painting's eerie secret. The dark art of the Venetian scene, instead of imitating life, has the power to entrap it. To stare into the painting is to play dangerously with the unseen demons it hides, and become the victim of its macabre beauty. By the renowned storyteller Susan Hill--whose first ghost story,
The Woman in Black, has run for eighteen years as a play in London's West End--here is a new take on a form that is fully classical and, in Hill's able hands, newly vital. The Man in the Picture is a haunting tale of loss, love, and the very basest fear of our beings."

Today Only Contest for Pope Joan, walk the red carpet

Join me and my family as we walk the red carpet on the night of the Pope Joan movie premiere!
... Includes two tickets to the movie premiere, plus round trip airfare for two from any location in the continental United States or Canada, and one night hotel accommodation for you to share with your guest.
Simply buy a new, Three Rivers Press/Crown Publishing paperback edition of Pope Joan during the months of June or July 2009 and send me the original receipt. In August, I'll pick randomly from the pile of receipts to select someone and their guest to join me at the U.S. movie premiere in the fall (exact date still to be determined).

Anyone who buys the book on June 9Th only gets TWO chances to attend the movie premiere, Go here to check it out!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Book Review: THE TRIUMPH OF DEBORAH by Eva Etzioni-Halevy

Nothing but praise for The Triumph of Deborah. It had me utterly engrossed in its story of biblical Deborah. Considering I stopped what I was reading because the first page grabbed me like no other. I finished it entirely in a few days. Since I have a sister who is Deborah's name sake it made it all the better for me and sometimes down right amusing.
They both share a strong leadership trait that does not diminish their own feminine qualities. Strong women in their own right. Having grown up a in a religious household I find myself now being more of a spiritual person instead of religious person. Having said that I think that is important to know that this book opened a new door for me to a new unexplored time period.
Deborah's introduction "Some way in the south, on the top of Mount Tabor in the heart of the land of Israel, another woman stood: the Israelite prophetess and judge Deborah" it gave me chills. A seamlessly intertwined story of the fallen kings daughters, the warrior who took him down, and the prophetess who sent the warrior who is also searching to find the right way not just for her but for all the people. A man can lead them to war but who will lead them to peace?
Typically being weary of anything religious I was skeptical of how the book would play out religious beliefs of two waring fractions. My skepticism was vanquished by Deborah meeting the kings warrior Sisra "my god told me to come here as did your god". A aspect of the book I really enjoyed was that it had excerpts from the Torah given at a time of reference for each character's insight. That in itself gave a different aspect of each characters beliefs and a deeper understanding of the times.
This book was so powerful in the end it made the hair on my arms stand up, which no other book has never done. There cannot be enough praise for Eva's work considering that the book had some enormously great qualities in the fact that it was riveting, it never dragged or slowed down, informative on the times, and I was very sad to have it end. Thank you Eva for reaching out to me and opening the door for me. I am so glad you found me. Now I can add you to my list of favorite authors. For more info on Eva's books and herself visit her site here
"In ancient Israel, war is looming. Deborah has coerced warrior Barak into launching a strike against the neighboring Canaanites, who threaten their people with destruction. Against all odds he succeeds, returning triumphantly with two daughters of the Canaanite King as his captives. But military victory is only the beginning of the turmoil, as a complex love triangle develops between Barak and the two princesses.

Deborah, recently cast off by her husband, develops a surprising affinity for Barak. Yet she struggles to rebuild her existence on her own terms, while also groping her way toward the greatest triumph of her life: the attainment of peace.

Based on the book of Judges , and filled with brilliantly vivid historical detail, the novel shows that in her own life Deborah was very much a woman, and that her femininity did not detract from her stature as national leader. Thereby it pays tribute to Deborah's feminine strength and independence from which present day women, seeking to build lives of their own and assert themselves in whatever way they choose to do so, may derive inspiration.

The Triumph of Deborah describes a prominent woman leader who led her people to war but also to peace. Hence it should be of special relevance in an American presidential election year in which a female candidate is a front runner. It should also be of relevance on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of Israel, where women's leadership is becoming increasingly prominent, a year in which the topic of female leadership in time of war and peace will be most prominent on both countries' agenda. "

Reading Young Adult Historical Fiction

Recently a girlfriend of mine asked me for help in finding a good historical fiction novel for a school report for her older daughter. I had a hard time finding a novel that was age appropriate for a young impressionable mind. With no avail, she settled on a reasonable book that was not very interesting to her, and as soon as it was over she went back to finishing Twilight.

I began a search for a novel that would be more to her liking when I came across a book named The Redheaded Princess by Anne Rinaldi. Which we all know could be the one and only redhead princess that later became Queen Elizabeth. Given the scandalous details of Henry VIII rein, I was curious as to how it would play out in the young adult world. It stuck my curiosity and I read the first chapter. I was thoroughly amazed at the way it opened to Elizabeth. Keeping to a view point of a young adult who's life experiences would shape her future.

This is Ann's first book on Tudor era her previous books had been more centered around American History, civil war era. This is for all of you out there looking to spark a interest in a historical fiction for a young adult reader. I sincerely hope that Anne will explore more of this time period with future books because as we all know the world will never have enough books. Visit Ann's site here

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Today in History: The Field of Cloth of Gold 1520

A favorite setting for historical fiction novelist. Set to take place nearby of Calais in the area of Balinghem. The field of cloth of gold was opened on June 7Th and followed through to June 24Th in the year 1520. Intended for Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France to strengthen the bond of friendship following the signing of the Anglo-French treaty of 1518. It more so became a challenge of each kings egocentric personalities. Both kings going above and beyond the norm to upstage one another. The days were taken up with tournaments, in which both kings took part. There were banquets in which the kings entertained each other's queens. The many other entertainments included archery displays and wrestling between Breton and English wrestlers. The French account of events stated that apparently things turned sour for Henry when he lost a wrestling match with Francis.

Friday, June 05, 2009

New Release, The Secret Wife of Louis XIV: FranCoise d'Aubigne, Madame de Maintenon by Veronica Buckley

Releasing on September 1st 2009

How Exciting, this has really sparked my interest. I recently read & reviewed The mistress of the Sun King by Sandra Gulland, and it left a lasting impression on me. This novel falls into the follow up time period. The woman who usurped the wicked witch of France

The Marquise de Maintenon, mistress of Louis XIV, was born in a bleak French prison in 1635. Her father was a condemned traitor and murderer who seduced the warden’s daughter. Yet in her lifetime, Françoise d’Aubigné—armed with beauty, intellect, and shrewd judgment—managed to make her way from grimmest poverty to the center of power at Versailles, the most opulent and cutthroat court in all Europe.

This is the extraordinary story of Françoise’s progress from brilliant salonnière to governess for the king’s illegitimate children and, finally, to the delicate position of Louis’s secret wife and uncrowned queen. Louis, who as supreme sovereign believed he had entrée to any bed he chose, would remain in love with her for forty years. Bursting with the gossip of such witty contemporary chroniclers as Madame de Sévigné, this exactingly researched biography is a pinnacle of the form. In vibrant, shocking colors, it paints a portrait of France in the process of becoming itself, and Europe in an age of violent change.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

New Release, The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots by Carolly Erickson

Released on September 1st, 2009

I just love Erickson's books, they never are a let down, and I tend to devourer her books. I have already read her other books, The Secret Life of Josephine, The Last Wife of Henry VIII, and The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette. All of which were excellent books.

Born Queen of Scotland, married as a girl to the invalid young King of France, Mary took the reins of the unruly kingdom of Scotland as a young widow and fought to keep her throne. A second marriage to her handsome but dissolute cousin Lord Darnley ended in murder and scandal, while a third to the dashing Lord Bothwell, the love of her life, gave her joy but widened the scandal and surrounded her with enduring ill repute.
Unable to rise above the violence and disorder that swirled around her, Mary escaped to Englandonly to find herself a prisoner of her ruthless, merciless cousin Queen Elizabeth.
Here, in her own riveting account, is the enchanting woman whose name still evokes excitement and compassionand whose death under the headsman’s axe still draws forth our sorrow.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

New Blog Award, Kreative Blogger from Alabama Book Worm

This award was bestowed upon me by sweet Alabama Book Worm, you rock Girl! She enacted some guidelines for the award which has made it very interesting. Here are the award guidelines: Post 7 things you love & Give the award to 7 other blogger's who are creative.

My seven, I love are very much the same: My family, animals, gardening, my obsession for all kinds of history, books, art of any form, and my never ending thirst for knowledge.

I know there is a possibility that some of these blogs have already received this award. I still think they deserve it. My Seven blogs I am bestowing the award on to are:

Monday, June 01, 2009

Today in History, Anne Boleyn Crowned Queen

Today in history, Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen of England at Westminster Abbey, followed by an elaborate dinner feast. For further reading about Anne check out a previous post here,
P.S. Happy Birthday 3rd B day J.J.
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