Thursday, April 19, 2012

Book Review AT THE KING'S PLEASURE by Kate Emerson

I always gush about Kate Emerson and it is because I really enjoy her novels. I love how each one centers on one juicy Tudor court secret. At the King’s Pleasure is no exception to that either. I know I am really behind on this one but I admit once I got into about page 3 or four I was hooked into the story completely. I ended up not being able to put it down and finished it in only a few days. I have to mention that I am extremely honored to be quoted in the first few pages because this series is a near and dear to my heart with Pleasure Palace, Between Two Queens, By Royal Decree, and the latest addition At The King’s Pleasure. Releasing this summer on August 8 is another addition to the series “The King’s Damsel”. Thank you Kate for the mention it is a pleasure to continue reading your delicious novels. I hope that there are many more secrets in the Tudor court.

I have tried not to inhale all the Tudor stories because once you read them you cannot undo what you have read and I want to save some of the better stories for authors I hold near and dear. The 3rd Duke of Buckingham I really held back and waited on. When I heard Kate was working on him I could not wait to see what she came up with. Kate is a Tudor Queen and really has done her historical homework and to verify this check out her who’s who of the Tudors site. It does have some spoilers so be warned. Kate does the Duke the justice he deserves. The 3rd Duke of Buckingham son of Henry Strafford 2nd Duke of Buckingham. King Richard II had executed his father for treason. Did I also mention that his mother was Katherine Woodville who was sister to Edward IV’s queen Elizabeth Woodville? Katherine and Henry’s story is one of the most compelling Wars of the Roses stories. For a really good read on the Dukes parents “The Stolen Crown” by Susan Higginbotham is amazing. It will forever change your perception of the Dukes father and mother and what hand they had in the war.

The Duke of Buckingham was a headstrong man and did not take his position as head of the family lightly. His two younger sisters Anne and Elizabeth would be forever under his watchful eagle eye of their lives. With Henry VIII fresh on the Tudor throne the Duke was the highest-ranking noble in land. He felt it was his duty to live up to the title in an arrogant jerkish fashion by basically bullying everyone around him. Good thing this novel was not only about the Duke because I probably would have worn out on him pretty fast. I am glad that the focus most of most of the novel is on his stubborn sister Anne.

Anne Strafford what a woman she is someone I could like in real life, brave, intelligent, and fun-loving Anne was a beautiful addition to the Tudor court. Having been previously in a loveless marriage Anne was sent to Queen Katherine of Aragon after her brother secured her a place at court. I love Reading about king Henry’s early reining years everyone at court at the time was so happy and carefree. There was no distrust, Jousts, Masks, banquets, and all the hunting the court could ever want. Anne of course took part in all of it she reveled in it. Anne knew her brother was demanding that she remarry. Her choice ended up on the “stable suitor” rather than the “passionate poor suitor”. Anne married Lord Hastings aka George and their marriage would be anything but rocky at best. To me it seemed that George never really had any confidence in his marriage. I think he must have felt like the wolves of court were always lurking right behind his wife. The wolf this time around happened to be one of the king’s close companions William Compton. William was a notorious womanizer but neither he nor Anne could help the fact that this magnetic pull was something that neither of them could ignore forever.

In a surprising twist the whole novel took a big turn when the King began to take notice of Anne, While Queen Katherine was “breeding” King Henry wandered and this time around the court he sent William Compton to settle the water with Anne. With one thing leading to another William was found in Anne’s chambers in an uncompromising position. Figures that her bully of an older brother walked in just the wrong moment. Being the biggest jerk ever he did not even ask her the truth an instead he just locked her up and spoke with her husband about what had happened. Both men ended up locking Anne up and taking her to a despicable nunnery.

I felt sorry for Anne she was so venerable just for being a woman. Guilty with out even being questioned or allowed to speak. The really sad part is they never even asked or wanted the truth. When her husband finally came to his senses his marriage was in complete shambles and the distrust between the pair was rife. Some couples would never survive this amount of distrust but some can grow from it. Anne and George had to find their own way with out outside influences Tudor or not. Determined to make it Anne and George would have to wade their way through the court intrigue, amorous love masked as a courtly love and the execution of a loved one you never realized how much was loved until it was too late.

4.5/5 Loved it but since I have been out of the Tudor loop for a bit it was a little hard to keep mental notes on all the titles that were thrown around. I found this one was a great addition to the series because it seems each novel has a completely different type of relationship. Plus I loved reading about the children of the War of the Roses. Scandal always seemed to touch that Stafford family but this time Anne and George had each other’s love and that is what matters the most even if you are a Stafford.

Kate Emerson

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Book Review Re-Read: THE MAN IN THE PICTURE by Susan Hill

For the first time EVER in my reading history I have re-read a novel. That for me translates to it must be pretty dang good novel or the urge to re-read it would not be there. This one is a really unique gem. So much so that I had to re-read it when I finally got my hands on a copy. It only took me 3 years to get it but when it showed up I inhaled it all over again like it was the first time. If you like a good short mystery with a touch of Venetian mystery then this is your novel. I implore you all to at least check out this novel it is so short that you could inhale it in one night. Just trust me if I had to wait almost three years for a copy on and finally gave up on my efforts there and resorted to buying it from Amazon instead then I must not be the only one who wanted it. The PBS wait does prove that I am not alone in my feelings that this novel is a very intriguing mystery.

In modern day England, Oliver who lives in London, pays a visit to his old Cambridge professor whom over the years he has developed a genuine deep-rooted friendship with. During his visit to Oliver he notices a painting that has an unusual masquerade scene in it. Creepy and eerie would not even begin to describe the painting Oliver had never noticed before. Oliver was instantly drawn to it like a magnet and he began 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 painting. Immediately afterwards 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 he had never seen before. The man was being dragged to a boat on the canal by two men, with a distressed look of horror about him. Theo had never noticed him before in the painting and he found it rather particular that it would randomly show up after so many long years.

After a series of spooky happenings to Theo an unknown duchess extended an invitation to him at her country estate to discuss 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 behind it was astounding and down right creepy. Theo never could have foreseen what the paintings history was when he bought it and he truly already regretted purchasing but yet he could not part from it. It had drawn him in and it would not let him go. Never would Theo have foreseen the dark events that were to come in the not too distant future involving not only him but also others around him that he cared dearly about.

5/5 I cannot give any more details because it will ruin the mystery for you. I wish I could but I can say it is well worth it to read this tale of the mysteriously creepy masquerade painting. If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how many words a painting is worth. What secrets can lie beneath the oil and canvas of a sinister carnival scene? Your imagination will run wild with this read and you will just have to read this one to find what really happens.~Lizzie~

Monday, April 09, 2012

Mailbox Monday

Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots by Carolly Erickson

"Queen of Scotland at six days of age, married as a young 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 England—only to find herself a prisoner of her ruthless, merciless cousin Queen Elizabeth.Here, in a riveting first-person account, is the enchanting woman whose name still evokes excitement and compassion—and whose death under the headsman’s axe still draws forth our sorrow".

The Queen's Lover by Vanora Bennett

"Catherine de Valois, daughter of the French king Charles VI, is born into troubled times. Though she is brought up in a royal court, it is a stormy and unstable environment. Before she is out of her teens, Catherine is married off to England's Henry V as part of a treaty honoring his victory over France. She is terrified at the idea of being married to a man who is a foreigner, an enemy, and a rough soldier, and is forced to leave her home for England.

Within two years she is widowed, and mother to the future King of England and France--even though her brother has laid claim to the French crown for himself. Caught between warring factions of her own family and under threat by the powerful lords of the English court, she must find a way to keep her infant son safe. In Owain Tudor, a childhood friend for whom Catherine has long had affection and who now controls the Royal household, Catherine finds both strength and kinship. As their friendship turns to love, however, she risks not only her life and that of her son but the uneasy balance of power in England and France that will be forever changed.

History comes alive in this lyrical and moving true story of one woman's courage and the inception of one of the most famous royal lineages of all time".

Releasing August 7 2012
In the fifth novel in Kate Emerson's highly acclaimed Secrets of the Tudor Court series, a young gentlewoman catches King Henry the Eighth's roving eye.In 1533 and again in 1534, Henry the Eighth reportedly kept a mistress while he was married to Anne Boleyn. Now, that mistress comes to vivid life in Kate Emerson's The King's Damsel.
A real-life letter from Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, written on September 27, 1534, reported that the king had "renewed and increased the love he formerly bore to another very handsome young lady of the Court" and that the queen had tried "to dismiss the damsel from her service." Other letters from Eustace reveal that the mystery woman was a "true friend" of the Princess (later Queen) Mary, Henry's daughter by Catherine of Aragon. Though no one knows who "the king's damsel" really was, here Kate Emerson presents her as young gentlewoman Thomasine Lodge, a lady-in-waiting to King Henry's daughter, Princess Mary. Thomasine becomes the Princess's confidante, especially as Henry's marriage to Catherine dissolves and tensions run high. When the king procures a divorce in order to marry Anne Boleyn, who is suspicious and distrustful of Mary, Mary has Thomasine placed in Anne's service to be her eyes and ears. And that's when she gets the attention of the king...
Rich in historical detail and featuring a wealth of bonus material, The King's Damsel is sure to keep readers coming back for more in the exciting series!
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