Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book Review: THE BOLEYN WIFE by Brandy Purdy

Due to hit bookstores January 26th 2010. I was lucky to receive an advanced readers copy from the lovely Brandy Purdy. When I jumped on board to get an advanced readers copy I had no idea the Boleyn wife was the infamous Jane Rochford herself. I had assumed it was possibly Mary Boleyn, not her sister in law Jane. As many of you readers know the Boleyn story and what role Jane played in their fall from grace. I had always been curious about Jane and what was the logic behind the driving force in betraying her husband and sister in law. I am a firm believer that the incest between the siblings did not really occur.

I enjoyed Jane's perspective for the insight alone. At times I felt the novel was crude and extremely sexual. A bit too graphic for my taste. I accepted this for one reason only. That reason being that Jane Rochford was a vile creature. At least in my mind. I expected her to to be vile, loathsome, and a shrew. I never expected her logic to make sense to a point.

Jane's husband never loved her and she never accepted it. Instead she blamed Anne for the lack of love from her husband. No real incest ever existed between them, yes they were close and others interpreted it as too close to be normal. She hated the fact that George loved his sister more than his own wife. Painfully jealous of the "click" of Anne and her evergreen gallants Jane sought to destroy them. Revenge has a bitter sweet taste Jane would soon come to find out.

Through out the novel consistently Jane was an evil woman. Murderous thoughts and a raging temper all amounted to a ticking time bomb. The break down came full force when George was executed. Jane possessed an abusive love for George. The type where if I can not have you no one can. Yet she still believed once Anne was gone George would love her. Self delusion was her best friend. The problem with that was he never loved her and had turned his back on her completely after she purposely told Anne "the king is dead" causing her to miscarry king Henry's unborn prince he so badly wanted. After George was executed Jane lost it completely. The guards had to wrestle her away from cradling and kissing her husbands dismembered head.

Catherine Howard was a piece of work in this read. The only words I can use to describe her is nymphomaniac, bisexual, delusional, broken woman, who was doomed from the beginning. Since Jane was her closest confidant she open up about her life at the duchesses house. Being abused as a young child gave Catherine a child like mentality leaving her unable to comprehend. I do not think she grasped the reality of the situation she had put her self in until it was too late. She was the aggressor in all her sexual follies, even with Thomas Culpepper. Jane wanted to mother her but Catherine did what she wanted with no regard to consequences. I knew eventually it would all come crashing down once Henry found out. Jane tried to help her but you can not help someone who does not want to be helped.

The best part was Jane's final breakdown that led to the madness. What was it that finally broke her mind? Guilt or the delusions of ghosts plagued her mind sending her into chaos, the constant laughing of the dead never stopped. The guilt was too much for one person's mind and she already had an extreme personality disorder and a murderous temper. The three combined sent her into a dark and sinister downward spiral that was her destiny. How could you go up if there is no light above? It is like being in a dark hole, not knowing which way is up or down, suspended in cold darkness all alone.

3 Muses, I enjoyed this read but it did have it's pros and cons. The cons were some of the things that happened were more "historical entertainment" and not at all plausible or likely to have occurred. Normally I am not a big one for exact historical accuracy because if I wanted that I would read non fiction not fiction. The combination of historical entertainment and the graphic sexual encounters turned me off. The pros did out weigh the con's in the end and Purdy did give an interesting spin on Jane's prospective. One thing she did deal with that no other author has ever done was give an explanation of what happen to Anne Boleyn's notorious B necklace. I did thoroughly enjoy Jane loosing her mind in a eerie kind of way.

I would recommend this to any historical fiction lover who does not mind a highly charged sexual novel. This is defiantly not a book I could recommend to my mom but every once in awhile I enjoy a dirty book. Thank you Brandy I did enjoy the read.

Animals Need Love Too, Adopt-A-Pet

If any of you are like me then furry animals have a special place in your heart. After recently reviewing my "cat hates you", I spoke of my sweet kitty who I adopted from my local no kill cat shelter and I feel it necessary to bring to light the fact that there are so many wonderful animals out there that need our help. is a really neat blog that is a nonprofit site that displays over 125,000 homeless animal shelters from nearly 8,000 animal shelters and humane societies across the country.

They try to post two times a week. Recently posting stories of 24 animals being saved and one woman's 23 trips to Iraq to save animals. They have tips on animals care, good places to get animal supplies, one post I found really interesting on how to introduce a new cat or kitten to your cats. They also recognize active community members by posting a Hero of the month features one outstanding animal rescuer. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook

I think if you are in the market for a new pet this would be an excellent place to start. Besides from all my years of owning and loving animals I have noticed that animals that have a history (shelter or rescue) have the most amazing personalities. I am grateful for all people who stand up and actively participate in animal rescue. If it would not have been for all the hard working rescuers out there I might not have my baby. He is the world to me and if someone would have not saved him as a kitten then we may never have found each other. Thank you Adopt-A-Pet I commend you on all your hard work and our furry friends appreciate it too!
"What is is the world's largest non-profit pet adoption website. We are like an ad agency for shelters and shelter pets. Sadly there are 4 million healthy adoptable companion animals killed in shelters each year due to overcrowding. We do our best to relieve that problem and put pets from shelters in the homes of pet seekers all over the country.

Our website makes it easy for anyone with an Internet connection to find profiles and pictures of adoptable animals by location, breed, gender, age, size, and color. Over 8,000 shelters posts pets on our website displaying over 125,000 pets available for adoption at any given time. We also help volunteers connect with shelters, and currently host over thousands of people listed in our volunteer database for shelters.
What Makes Unique:
- On our website, people can use something we call “Search Saver.” This feature will notify users by e-mail when a particular pet of their specifications in available for adoption. For example, I can tell “Search Saver” where I live, and what type of breed I am looking for. When that animal is available, I am notified the next time a pet matching my search is added on

- As of this summer we have now made it easy for our visitors to find pets and then recommend them to friends and family via Facebook, Twitter and other social applications. We are calling the idea “Social Petworking.” Here is how it works; once you have searched and found a pet in need, on the pet details page simply hover over the button labeled “SHARE,” there you can send the pet details page to any of your friends. For more information visit this page

- In addition to dogs and cats, we now feature all kinds of pets for adoption, including rabbits, farm animals, ferrets, hamsters and other small animals, horses, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and even fish. This was a major initiative that took many months to research and program into the site, and it is being well-received within the shelter community.

- By teaming up with the renowned street-artist Shepard Fairey, who designed the iconic Obama "Hope" image, we have available a number of stylish ways to promote pet adoption. Shepard was able to translate his work with Obama to an image that can be used to represent pet adoption support. Merchandise can be found at HYPERLINK ""

- We have begun blogging and created a Twitter Page along with a Facebook Page. Our blog is located at HYPERLINK "", there you can join our Facebook Group, or follow us on Twitter.

Blog Highlights: has recently begun blogging, and every week we publish posts from two separate columns. On Tuesday we blog about pet care tips, and on Fridays we do our best to find heartwarming stories about adopted pets all over the country. Here are a few highlights from our blog:
10 Ways To Help Homeless Pet, Even If You Can’t Adopt
What To Ask Your Veterinarian
Good News In Pet Adoption – A Weekly Post
10 Things To Consider Before Adopting

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Mary Rose Preservation Needs Help Your

"We have an amazing and exciting opportunity to give the Nation a world-class museum and to preserve for future generations this extraordinary ship and all her treasures. The long period of spraying will come to an end in 2011 and the hull will be slowly dried out with conservation completed in 2016. The public will then enjoy a much closer, fully illuminated look at the ship. Over 14,000 of the artefacts will be displayed , shown in their original positions and in relation to their owners, presenting a vivid illustration of life on board a Tudor warship."
  • The full Mary Rose story can then be told, and its significance to the study of Tudor life both on and off the water will be clearly illustrated and accessible to all.
  • A new learning centre will quadruple the existing learning space and increase our work with people of all ages who have special needs.
  • New and improved laboratory and workshop facilities will further enhance the Mary Rose as a Centre of Maritime Archaeology and Conservation.But all this will be very costly - in the order of £35M! To date, we have raised nearly £3.5 million through our Fundraising Appeal and our bid to the heritage Lottery Fund for £21 million has been successful.
  • View the Mary Rose Appeal Video

We need your help because we receive no Government grants and we rely on voluntary donations.

Five things you probably didn’t know about the Henry VIII and his Mary Rose. For futher reading on the history of the Mary Rose go here. For more on the really interesting excavation go here.

The debate continues as to why the Mary Rose mysteriously sank off the Portsmouth coast in 1545. Four of the suggested possibilities are:
  • Too many cooks and not enough skilled seamen on board
  • Poor communication and slow responses from an international crew
  • A hole made by a French cannonball in battle led to the Mary Rose taking water onboard
    e Mary Rose was too top heavy and keeled over when changing course
2. On 19th July 1545 Henry VIII was watching his fleet set sail to battle the approaching French and saw the Mary Rose sink. So did the wife of Vice Admiral Sir George Carew, who was on board – not surprisingly, she fainted

3. Scientists have used Facial Reconstruction technology to illustrate the facial features of the crew of the Mary Rose from skulls found on board (also attached):

4. As well as iron bolts The Mary Rose was held together by thousands of wooden pegs – each one made by hand

5. Celebrated Marine Artist Geoff Hunt researched the Mary Rose for 113 hours before he began his new painting of the ship, unveiled earlier this year. His research revealed that King Henry VIII’s flagship had one more fighting castle deck than had previously been thought, fuelling speculation that it was the ship’s top heaviness that may have led to her mysterious sinking (also attached)

Any help in spreading the word about our ambitious appeal to fund a new £35 million museum project. As it currently stands sadly there is no government funds for this project

The sailors aboard the Mary Rose engraved their personal possessions with their individual marks. Some of these marks will be etched into wooden panels forming the outer cladding of this remarkable new museum. To make your mark you can donate to buy a plank that will be displayed with your name on it.

Become a Patron
Patrons enjoy a very close relationship with the Trust. As a Patron you will have unlimited free access to the Mary Rose. In addition the following benefits will be yours:

  • Regular updates with the Annual Report, newsletter etc
  • Your own personal contact at the Trust
  • Discounted goods in the shop
  • Access, by arrangement, to the reserve collection and behind the scenes
  • Invitations to social events and major functions
  • Membership of the Mary Rose Society.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

C.W. Gortner The Humanitarian, Become Active in your Community

After working together with fabulous author C.W. Gortner. I feel I need to bring to light a very special tab on his website. The tab is labeled "Causes" I found myself curious as to what was on the page and when I clicked the link I was speechless. This is what it says:
"Our planet is our only home. We are facing tremendous, long-term challenges due to the climate crisis and our ongoing population expansion -- both of which pose severe threats to the survival of our natural world.

I am committed to doing everything I can to fight this crisis and assist these organizations with writing letters, signing online petitions, donations, and by informing family and friends of what we can collectively do to make our planet a better, healthier place to live. You can, too. It doesn't take as much time as you may think and the rewards can be tremendous for you and for the planet as a whole. So, please get involved! Check out these organizations, which represent only a fraction of the dedicated people out there working to safeguard our Earth for future generations."
With links to everyone of his causes.
Defenders of Wild Life
The Alliance for Climate Protection
The Natural Resource Defence Council
Green Press Initiative
The Human Society
The Historical Novel Society

This is amazing to me that not only is he a author but he is a true believer in humanitarian work and promoting philanthropy. Bravo C.W. my hat is off to you for your incredible stance on playing an active role in your community. Become active with C.W. and sign a E-petition to save the wolves in Yellowstone National park. It is not hard to sign online just fill out a form with your information
and viola your done. Give yourself a voice and stand up for what you believe or else it might not be here for future generations to enjoy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Book Review: THE LAST QUEEN by C.W. Gortner

I encourage any one who loves historical fiction to read this absorbing novel. I realize that I read this novel before I started my blog and had not posted a review on it. I need to bring it to light for my readers because it is one of my most favorite novels in historical fiction. It left a lasting impression on me, and it is an unforgettable read.

Juana is the daughter of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. Together her parents laid the foundation for the political unification of Spain. Joanna of Castile was more commonly referred to as Juana the Mad, Queen of Castile, Leon, and Queen of Aragon. She was the older sister of Catherine of Aragon who married the notorious king Henry VIII which we all know what that led to.

Since this was my first read on Spain I had no idea what to expect. I instantly became absorbed in the world C.W. painted. Portraying what it was like for a child to be born into a time of war. Not to mention her mothers unwavering faith was kind of creepy considering I have heard that she believed she was god's messenger. Upon conquering the Moor's they made triumphant entry to Granada. The harems women knew there was no salvation for them and jumped to their deaths on the rocks below was only the beginning of worse to come. The Alhambra was a place that offered peace and tranquility for Juana in her younger years. A safe haven that was more beautiful than imaginable.

Looking back on this which I find myself doing quite frequently. Empathy is the underlining emotion. She was never expected to be queen. Fate played a cruel joke on Juana. After starting a new life abroad with her husband Philip the fair. She was called back home to be queen after the loss of her two elder siblings and later her mother. She was a loving woman to her husband and her family. But the bloody lust for a crown could devourer any willing soul including her own husband. After her mothers death she became vulnerable. Her father and husband took advantage of it and would ultimately place her in perilous situations that would have broken any other weaker minded person.

The question C.W. logically purposes is what if she was not the mad queen but the queen no body wanted? Was she really mad or would they try and break her? Claiming mental illness leaving the crown vacant for themselves. Or was it duress from her circumstances?

5/5 Muses and if I had six muses it would be 6 instead. Highly recommended reading. C.W. gave logic and reasoning in what others might claim is madness. I can usually judge how much I love the book by how long it takes me to finish it. This goes with Signora Da Vinci, a two day read where it is so good that you do not want to sleep. Thank you C.W. for the novel, like I said "Someone would have to pry it from my cold dead hand before I would ever give it up". It means that much to me.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sundays Art: The Capilla Real de Granada

The Capilla Real de Granada or Royal Chapel located in the city of Granada. Final resting place of King Ferdinand, Queen Isabella, Queen Juana and her husband Philip the handsome.

This photo is spectacular and beautiful. I can only imagine the emotions a person would feel standing with in this beautiful place. We can dream right? Someday I will be able to view it in person in all its splendor.

A Talk with C.W. Gortner Author of The Last Queen

How did the idea for THE LAST QUEEN originate?
I’m often asked how I became interested in Juana la Loca. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t. I was raised in Spain (I am half Spanish by birth and fully bilingual). My maternal grandfather, Tomás Blanco, was a famous film actor in Spain whose career spanned from the early 40s well into the 70s; and my grandmother Pilar Gomez del Real was a well-known theater actress who portrayed Juana on stage. I lived near a castle that had belonged to Juana’s parents, Isabella and Ferdinand. Clambering to its highest tower, I knew Juana had touched these same stones, perhaps marveled, as I did, at the landscape’s beauty.

During a school trip to Granada, where Juana is buried, I found myself entranced by the marble effigy of this woman, whose face is turned away from the figure of her dead husband beside her. Most school children in Spain know the tale of Juana la Loca; she is legendary. But I immediately wanted to know more. What was she like in real life? Did she really pull her husband’s bier behind her throughout the country, venerating his corpse? What happened to her to plunge her into such despair?

Love is madness. And Juana la Loca is famous for both. But what if her legend only told half the tale? My vision of this vibrant princess who became the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit the throne was at odds with the bereft queen of legend. THE LAST QUEEN is the first novel about Juana written in English in twenty years. I felt she deserved a chance to tell her side of the story.

How long did it take you to write, and what special research was involved?
It took five years for me to write THE LAST QUEEN. As far as special research is concerned, I took two separate trips to Spain, including one in which I undertook the very journey Juana made from Burgos to her last home in Tordesillas. I visited the Alhambra and the castles associated with her, and read every contemporary account about her that I could find, including letters from her custodians to Charles V, which are currently archived in Simancas.

It is interesting to note that during General Franco’s dictatorship (the last years of which I experienced as a child), some of the documents in the Simancas were restricted to scholars who required special permission to access them. The documents pertaining to Juana were included in these restrictions. I found it particularly fascinating that hundreds of years after her death the government still found it necessary to “hide” certain evidence about her. However, by the time I was researching, the documents were available and they provided an invaluable, if at times chilling, framework for the novel in terms of which parts of her life I wanted to focus on.

Why are you drawn to historical fiction?
Since childhood, I’ve loved historical fiction and I’m very happy that the genre has become so popular again. The truth is, it’s one of the oldest and finest traditions in fiction. Many of today’s novelists bring fresh, exciting perspectives but the basic structure of conjuring history and the people who lived it hasn’t changed. Historical fiction at its best helps us see where we are by revealing where we’ve been. I believe such classic writers as Alexandre Dumas and Rafael Sabatini turned to historical fiction because history exerts such a powerful influence on us. I write historical fiction because I want to immerse myself in a different time and still make sense of the world I inhabit today.

How do you strike a balance between history and fiction? Do you think accuracy remains a primary obligation of all historical fiction?
The balance between fact and fiction in an historical novel like mine is often a delicate one. It can even become tenuous, in particular when you are confronting issues of religion, race, sexuality, and gender. I write about people in the 16th century; I do not share their beliefs. The Renaissance was a brutal, quixotic, and complex time in history: As much as I strive to bring it to life for readers, the truth is we can never truly understand what it was to actually live in the 16th century. The best even a very gifted historical novelist can achieve is a close approximation.

That said, I do consider historical accuracy a primary obligation—in that the writer should not deliberately alter or distort known facts or have characters behave in overtly modernized way, just to suit a particular publishing fad or temperament. To have my lead character march at the head of an army like Joan of Arc, for example, would fly in the face of every known fact about her.

However, facts are only a small part of a life filled with moments, and in the final say, I write fiction. My books are novels; their principal function is to entertain. I hope my readers will become immersed in the story, that they will feel it on a sensory level. I also hope, as a secondary objective, to awaken interest in the time itself. If someone reads my book and thinks, “I want to know more about Spain in the 16th century,” then I’ve done what I set out to do. Likewise, if someone reads my book and writes to me, as they have, saying, “I couldn’t wait to turn the page,” that, too, accomplishes my goal as a novelist.

THE LAST QUEEN is told in the first person by a woman. Did you find it difficult to write?
I actually enjoyed the challenge of telling Juana’s story in the first person. My first drafts were in third person and something elusive was missing. It was only after I allowed myself to slip into Juana’s skin, so to speak, that I began to experience her emotional complexity. There’s a general fallacy that men cannot write women as well as women can. I disagree, just as I disagree that women cannot write from the male perspective. Writers must inhabit their characters in order to bring them to life. We are not limited by gender or appearance. We are invisible. There are no limits other than our imagination.

What do you hope readers take away from your work?
I seek to reveal secret histories. Whether it’s Juana of Castile’s alleged madness or Catherine de Medici’s reputation for evil, I strive first and foremost to entertain. I also hope readers will come away from my work with the experience that they’ve been on an emotional journey. I want them to feel the way these people lived, their hardships and joys, and differences and similarities with us. Though a Renaissance queen faced issues we don’t, love, hatred, power, intolerance, passion, and the quest for personal liberty are universal themes.

What is your latest project?
I am currently working on a historical novel about Catherine de Medici, tracing her life from her tumultuous childhood in Florence to her rise to power as queen-regent of France and mother of the last Valois kings. Catherine has been widely maligned and, I believe, misunderstood. Her leadership and tenacity forestalled the end of the monarchy in France by two hundred years. Without her, the history of Europe and France in particular would be very different. As a contemporary of Elizabeth I and mother-in-law to Mary, Queen of Scots, she is one of a triptych of powerful women ruling in the 16th century.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Last Queen Excerpt by C.W. Gortner

Excerpt from Chapter One "The Last Queen" by C.W. Gortner
Ballantine Books copyright 2008

We entered Granada in resplendent procession, the battered crucifix sent by His Holiness to consecrate heretic mosques carried aloft before us, followed by the nobility and clergy. Discordant wailing sundered the air. The Jewish warehouses were being impounded. Gorged with fragrant spices, yards of silk and velvet, and crates of medicinal herbs, the market represented Granada’s true wealth, and my mother had ordered the wares secured against looting. Later, she would have them inventoried, tallied and sold to replenish Castile’s treasury. Riding with my sisters and our ladies, I gazed in disbelief upon the ravaged city. Shattered buildings stood empty, seared by flame. Our catapults had leveled entire walls, and the stench of rotting flesh wafted from the mounds of broken stone. I saw an emaciated child standing motionless beside some dead rotting animal bound to a spit; as we passed, gaunt women knelt in the ruins. I met their impenetrable stares. I saw no hatred or fear, no remorse, as if the very life had been drained from them. Then we started to ascend the road to the Alhambra—that legendary palace built by the Moors in their flush of glory. I couldn’t resist rising in my saddle to peer through the gusts of dust kicked up the horses, hoping to be the first to see its fabled walls. Someone cried out. Around me the women pulled their mounts to a halt. I looked about in bewilderment before returning my gaze to the road ahead. I froze. A high tower thrust into the sky like a mirage. On its parapet I could see a tiny group of figures, the wind snatching at their veils and flimsy wraps, light sparkling on the metallic threads woven through their gowns.

Behind me Dona Ana hissed, “Quick, cover the child’s face. She must not see this.” I swiveled in my saddle to look at Catalina. My sister’s eyes met mine in fearful confusion before one of the ladies pulled the veil over her face. I clenched at my reins, turning back around. A cry of warning hurtled up my throat as I saw, in paralyzing horror, the figures seeming to step out over the parapet, like birds about to take flight. Around me, the ladies gasped in unison. The figures floated for an impossible moment in the air, weightless, shedding veils. Then they plummeted downward like stones. I closed my eyes. I willed myself to breathe. “See?” chortled Dona Ana. “Boabdil’s harem. They refused to leave the palace. Now, we know why. Those heathen whores will burn in hell for all eternity.” All eternity The words echoed in my head, a terrible punishment I could not imagine. Why had they done it? How could they have done it? I kept seeing those fragile forms in the pin-pricked darkness behind my eyelids, and as we rode under the Alhambra’s gateway, I did not point and laugh with the other women at the broken bodies strewn on the rocks below. My parents, Juan and Isabella swept ahead with the nobility. Maria, Catalina and I remained behind with our women. Taking Catalina by the hand and hushing her anxious questions (for she knew something terrible had happened) I gazed at the citadel. With the afternoon light turning to vermilion on its tiled facade, it appeared blood-soaked, a place of death and destruction. And still I was overwhelmed by its exotic splendor.

The Alhambra was unlike any palace I’d ever seen. In Castile, royal residences doubled as fortresses, encircled by moats and enclosed by thick walls. The Moorish palace had the mountain gorge for protection, and so it sprawled like a lion on its plateau, sheltered by cypress and pine. Dona Ana motioned to Maria; together with our ladies-in-waiting, we marched into the audience hall. With Catalina’s hand still clutching mine, I took in everything at once, my heart beating fast as I began to see just how magnificent the Moor’s world was.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Guest Post C.W. Gortner The Last Queen

Spectacular author C.W. Gortner has paid a visit to Historically Obsessed with a wonderful guest post. I know I am late on all the hype for "The Last Queen" so forgive us if you have read this before but I just could not resist. I am extremely excited about the upcoming release of "Confessions of Catherine De Medici" which is not due to hit bookstores until May 25th, 2010. It is going to be a hard long wait for it. This will just have to hold me over for now. Thank you C.W. we bloggers love you!

Power and Intrigue: Being a Queen of Spain Is Never Easy

In 1538, John Knox issued his pamphlet, The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, in which he denounced the rule of women as “unnatural”. The pamphlet is a classic example of 16th century misogyny; like many men of his era, Knox believed women had no place on the throne and he saw the ascendancy of such queens as Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I as a sign of corruption in the moral fabric of society.

Of course, history has proven him wrong. Elizabeth I brought glory to her island kingdom; Catherine de Medici steered France through one of history’s most savage religious conflicts and though her life was disastrous, Mary Stuart left behind a lasting legacy through her son James I. But they were not the first women to wear crowns in their own right; before them was Isabel of Spain, who overcame significant odds to become queen of Castile. Like Elizabeth I, Isabel was a female monarch of the Renaissance; in her lifetime she held more power and ruled a larger portion of Spain than her husband Ferdinand of Aragon. And she bequeathed all her power to her second eldest daughter, Juana of Castile, the central character of THE LAST QUEEN.

The kingdom Juana inherited had only recently been united under her parents. Isabel and Ferdinand’s marriage brought Castile and Aragon under one rule, ending centuries of rivalry. Their union also allowed them to fulfill the ambition of every Christian monarch of Spain: to banish the Moors and unite the entire country. By the time Isabel and Ferdinand accomplished this, France’s centuries-old centralized monarchical power menaced Spanish interests in the Mediterranean, while England had survived years of civil tumult to be ruled by the new Tudor dynasty. The Renaissance, flourishing in Italy since the 1400s, was about to sweep north, and Isabel of Castile was determined to place Spain at its forefront. She curtailed her nobles’ lawlessness; initiated strict new laws of adherence to the throne; and wrestled a feudal court into modernity. She, in fact, managed to achieve what no king in Spain before her had.

Why, then, did her daughter Juana experience such terrible difficulties when the time came to assume her throne? First of all, it is important to note that none of Isabel’s daughters were expected to rule; though all four reaped an enviable education, their anticipated roles in life were as queen-consorts. Though she had achieved the throne, Isabel apparently never paused to consider that her realm might fall to one of her daughters; it was only through misfortune that Juana suddenly found herself heiress to Castile and to her father’s realm of Aragón, which at the time did not sanction female succession.

Misogyny of the type promulgated by Knox was a major obstacle and source of conflict for Juana. Her husband Philip of Habsburg actively campaigned against her because he could not accept the lesser role of king-consort that accepting her as queen entailed, and Castile itself had a fractious yet powerful nobility, which had flourished during the long medieval age of divisiveness. They’d chaffed under the strict rule of Ferdinand and Isabel, who stripped them of their affluent holdings to support the Crown, their intrigues and zealous self-aggrandizement curbed by monarchs with no tolerance for anything that did not put Spain first. Isabel was definitely a queen to be reckoned with; but it cannot be overstated enough that she also had her husband’s support, something Juana lacked. Ferdinand may have held the lesser power on paper, but at court Isabel set him at her side as her equal and she never let her nobles forget it. With her demise and Ferdinand’s banishment (he had no further right to call himself king of Castile after his wife’s death) the nobility surged up against Juana, flocking to the bribery offered by her husband, Philip. They had determined that under no circumstances would another queen rule over them and they plunged Castile into chaos to prevent it.

Being a queen of Spain had never been easy. Only a handful of women had held power in Castile and all faced the machinations of the nobility, prejudices of their male counterparts, and, at times, the lethal ambitions and envy of husbands or sons. Juana of Castile stepped into the formidable shadow cast by a warrior-queen mother with only her bravura, her determination, and her blood right to do battle with. Unlike Isabel she lacked the support of her spouse and her nobles; she did not even have the ability to raise an army. Yet like Isabel before her, she never conceded defeat.

C.W. Gortner holds an MFA in Writing, with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies. He is the author of THE LAST QUEEN and THE SECRET LION. His novel about Catherine de Medici will be published by Ballantine Books in 2010. He enjoys interacting with his readers and is always available for reader group chats. Please visit him at:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Upcoming Release: The Confessions of Catherine De Medici by C.W. Gortner Cover Art

It has arrived the new cover art of C.W. Gortner's new novel "The Confessions of Catherine De Medici". I am so excited about the release of this novel I can barely hold on anymore! I LOVE the cover, I think it turned out spectacular! A little dark because Catherine was a dark woman. I have pretty much accepted the fact that in historical fiction the model's heads are cut off because why leave the head? If you leave the head then the face should have some resemblance to the character in the novel. Which today there probably is not too many women out there who look like historical fiction heroins, or what we idealize them to look like. I am now at the point where I expect it to be cut off. My hope is that this cover will be able to entice some new historical fiction readers into exploring new frontiers in novel land.

Thank you C.W. for sharing this juicy tid bit, we are waiting patiently.

Booking Through Thursday: One Question

Q: If you could ask your favorite author (alive or dead) one question … who would you ask, and what would the question be?

A: Jean Plaidy hands down. I did not even have to think twice about that one. I would love to hear in her own words what was her inspiration for writing so many prolific historical fiction novels. A one of a kind author of the millennium. She has written over 200 novels just under her pen name Jean Plaidy but she has many more novels under numerous pen names, Victoria Holt is one of them too. But there are others. My life goal is to own every book she has ever published.

If I was given a chance I would also have to slip in: Where can I get my hands on a copy of Rochester The Mad Earl under your pen name Kathleen Kellow?
"This is the true story of John Wilmott, Earl of Rochester, a poet and libertine who lived at the time of King Charles II."
The Jean Plaidy Reading group leader Arleigh inspired me to join this wild goose chase.

Author Spotlight: C.W. Gortner

C.W. Gortner’s fascination with history, in particular the Renaissance, is a lifetime pursuit. He holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California and has taught university seminars on the 16th century. In addition, he travels extensively to research his books. He’s experienced life in a medieval Spanish castle and danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall; dug through library archives all over Europe; and tried to see and touch — or at least gaze at through impenetrable museum glass — as many artifacts of the era as he can find.

He wrote his first novel in his teens and started pursuing publication in his mid-twenties. After thirteen years of rejection, he independently published his debut novel of suspense in the Tudor Court, THE SECRET LION, which was praised by the Historical Novel Society as “one of the most exciting debuts in years” and went on to become a Barnes& hourly bestseller. After independently publishing his second novel THE LAST QUEEN, he was discovered by his current agent, who sold THE LAST QUEEN via auction in a two-book deal to Ballantine Books, Random House. Published in hardcover in July 2008, THE LAST QUEEN became a Marin Independent Journal bestseller and is currently being translated into eight languages. Ballantine will publish his third novel THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI in 2009.

C.W. is half-Spanish by birth, fully bilingual, and was raised in Fuengírola in southern Spain. He lives in Northern California with his partner and their beloved Corgi. In addition to his love for writing, he is a passionate advocate for the environment, animal rights, and literary causes.

He is represented by Jennifer Weltz at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc., and welcomes visitors at his website:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Winner of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Thank you to all who enter for a chance to in this wonderful book. The winner is ..........



Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Winner of Pendragon's Banner by Helen Hollick

I know everyone has been waiting patiently for this contest and thank you to all who entered. The winner is .......

Be sure to enter for a chance to win Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel it ends tonight

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mary Queen of Scots Gets a New Voice

Mary has come to life again but this time she has a new set of pipes! Forrest came though once again and delivered the goods, aka Mary.

Leslie Carroll the sweetest author in the whole entire world wanted to jump in on this and recorded her own voice to be Mary's. She did an amazing job and it turned out perfect!

Thank you Leslie and Forrest for all the hard work and time you put into making this video possible. I love her!

Forrest recently has added some new Virtual Tours of the UK on his site, which are really cool it is like you are standing there!

Leslie also has a newer blog that she has been posting some really interesting topic's be sure to check it out too.

Today is also the last day to enter the Giveaway for Penndragon's Banner By Helen Hollick

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sundays Art: The French Hood

Anne of Brittany
"In France, England, and the Low Countries, black hoods with veils at the back were worn over linen undercaps that allowed the front hair (parted in the middle) to show. These hoods became more complex and structured over time.

Unique to England was the gable hood, a wired headdress shaped like the gable of a house. In the 1500s gable headdress had long embroidered lappets framing the face and a loose veil behind; later the gable hood would be worn over several layers that completely concealed the hair, and the lappets and veil would be pinned up in a variety of ways.

A simple rounded hood of the early years of the century evolved into the French hood, popular in both France and England; its arched shape sat further back on the head and displayed the front hair which was parted in the center and pinned up in braids or twists under the veil.

German women adopted hats like fashionable men's baretts early in the century; these were worn over caps or cauls (colettes) made of netted cord over a silk lining.[13] Hats became fashionable in England as an alternative to the hood toward the 1540s. Close fitting caps of fur were worn in cold climates.

Linen caps called coifs were worn under the fur cap, hood or hat.

In warmer climates including Italy and Spain, hair was more often worn uncovered, braided or twisted with ribbons and pinned up, or confined in a net. A Spanish style of the later 15th century was still worn in this period: the hair was puffed over the ears before being drawn back at chin level into a braid or wrapped twist at the nape.

First-time brides wore their hair loose, in token of virginity, and a wreath or chaplet of orange blossoms was traditional. A jeweled wreath with enameled "orange blossoms" was sometimes worn." Wikipedia

Friday, October 16, 2009

Today In History, Marie Antoinette

In 1793 Marie Antoinette took the long walk to the guillotine today. As many of you know her history I did not feel it was necessary to do a bio on her life. I would rather focus on the fact that she passed away today and my thoughts are on her today. Sadly she was buried after her traumatic execution in an unmarked grave of no importance. Only after the restoration was her and her husbands bodies given a proper burial and respect they so deserved.

Regardless of what people have previously though of Marie, mostly her being frivolous. She came from a family who never expected her to become a queen. I do have to give her credit for the fact that in the face of danger she stood her ground. In the end she died Marie Antoinette a woman with a back bone who did love her family.

She is not the woman who said "Let Them Eat Cake"

Vive La Reine

Book Review: MY CAT HATES YOU by Jim Edgar

I just had to do this because this book has been a constant in my life lately. I originally bought this book for my husband on his birthday as a joke. We have cat issues here and it took me 5 years to convince him to let me get a cat. He always said "NO CATS" but my daughter wore him down and we got a kitty. Sadly that sweet cat did not make it a year, he got really sick and passed away. I later by chance was giving a beautiful Siamese cat that we named Ninja.

Sometime after that I went to the cat adoption place where we got the first cat and this sweet baby cat grabbed my pant leg through the cage and my heart melted. I had to leave him there but my mind would not let him go. I broke my husband down and he told me "Go get Your Cat, just leave me alone". I brought him home and he has been my baby ever since.

We had a incident in the backyard late one night (I was asleep). One thing led to another and the cat got out, got into a fight with the dogs and my husband tried to break it up and in the process got bit by my baby. It was terrible my husbands hand blew up to 2 times the normal size. Lets just say he had to go to the ER the next day. When he got there they did an X-ray and the cat had broken a small bone in his hand. Not to mention he had to get a tetanus shot and have his hand all wrapped up. At one point it even had to be lanced to bring the swelling down. Poor husband attacked by a cat he never even wanted.

I got this for him to keep at his work desk to make him laugh anytime he was having a bad day. The book is compiled of funny pictures of cats doing crazy things. Lets just say it never made it to work and it is my daughters favorite book. If you ever want a good laugh pick this one up.

5/5 because it still makes me laugh every time I read it.

"More than 245 Sour-Faced Furballs Who Can't Stand the Sight of You
Before there were lol cats, there was Bad Cat. Now, in his first book since his #1 New York Times bestseller, Jim Edgar reveals what cats really think of you: not much.
Straight from his website, personal archives, victims' accounts, and anonymous underground sources, My Cat Hates You brings to light a conspiracy against mankind that reaches across the globe. Whether they're going fishing in the family fishbowl (or toilet), attempting to blast off to Mars when you aren't looking, mocking your taste in bed sheets, self-medicating with catnip, or hanging from the rafters ready to pounce, the delinquent cats within these pages can't conceal their contempt for you.
Keep this book out of reach of children and especially cats -- they don't need the encouragement."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Weeding

"We’re moving in a couple weeks (the first time since I was 9 years old), and I’ve been going through my library of 3000+ books, choosing the books that I could bear to part with and NOT have to pack to move. Which made me wonder…

When’s the last time you weeded out your library? Do you regularly keep it pared down to your reading essentials? Or does it blossom into something out of control the minute you turn your back, like a garden after a Spring rain?

Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all? (This would have described me for most of my life, by the way.)

And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore? SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?"

A: I am moving in a couple of weeks too and I have been weeding though them also. I recently posted about my trades on paperback swap, which I love. I have pretty much narrowed it down to what I am keeping. I do have to admit that I have one whole bookshelf dedicated to historical fiction. I am one of those people, a hoarder, with the life goal of whoever dies with the most books wins! I love every one I own and treat them like my personal jewels. No one is allowed to touch them Period, all mine and I know I am greedy.

My biggest pet peeve is when you lend out a book and never get it back, which is the same difference of getting rid of it. Because of that reason I have lost some very good books and I will not lend them out anymore unless I know I can really trust a person to return it. I lost "Memoirs of a Geisha" that way, never lend your crappy boss at work a book you love. I wish I could say I have 3000+ books. I think I am in the ball park of 500, not including educational books, that is a whole different bookcase. My husband on the other hand owns almost every Star Wars novel ever written including the reference books. He would never part with a single one and I think it is about 400 novels.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Unread Owned Books TBR update

I feel I need to put this out there so I can put my mind at ease about my TBR (to be read) list. When I originally set up my TBR list I was a brand new blogger and did not really comprehend how the whole thing worked before it was too late to change it. I being the goofy goober I am picked out some books I owned but many of the books I had picked were not ones I owned. What made it worse was that I did not look to much into the novels I picked and I found out after the fact that many of them were non fiction, blah.

To date there are 16 books on the list and I have finished reading 6. I am calling it quits on the list and decided that for next years TBR list it will be compiled of only books I own. Until the new TBR opens I am keeping my own list and as I read them I will take them off. I am hoping to at least have a few finished finished off the list before the new year opens. If you would like to see my original TBR post from 3.17.2009 go here. Who knows if I can even finish all of my owned unread books with a list like this it might spill into 2011 for all I know. I promised my husband no more buying books until I read at least half of these books. Enjoy my insane list there are a few odd balls in there that might stir up some rukus.

Books Owned To Be Read

1. Hammer of Scots, Jean Plaidy
2. Red Rose of Anjou, Jean Plaidy
3. Indiscretions of the Queen, Jean Plaidy
4. The Courts of Love, Jean Plaidy
5. Goddess of the Green Room, Jean Plaidy
6. Williams Wife, Jean Plaidy
7. The Third George, Jean Plaidy
8. The Queen’s Confession, Victoria Holt aka Jean Plaidy
9. To Hold the Crown, Jean Plaidy
10. Lady in the Tower, Jean Plaidy
11. Mary Queen of France, Jean Plaidy
12. The Kings Grace, Anne Easter Smith
13. Rose for A Crown, Anne Easter Smith
14. Royal Harlot, Susan Holloway Scott
15. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, Lauren Willig
16. The Mask of the Black Tulip, Lauren Willig
17. The Deception of the Emerald Ring, Lauren Willig
18. The Last Boleyn, Karen Harper
19. Twilight Tower, Karen Harper
20. The Poyson Garden, Karen Harper
21. Through A Glass Darkly, Karleen Koen
22. Dark Angels, Karleen Koen
23. Guenevere Queen of the Summer Country, Rosalind Miles
24. The Knight of the Sacred Lake, Rosalind Miles
25. The Child of the Holy Grail, Rosalind Miles
26. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
27. Persuasions, Jane Austen
28. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
29. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See
30. The Last Greatest Dance on Earth, Sandra Gulland
31. The Memoirs of Cleopatra, Margaret George
32. In the Shadow of the Sun King, Golden Keyes Parsons
33. Courtesan, Diane Haeger
34. Leonardo’s Swans, Karen Essex
35. The Tea Rose, Jennifer Donnelly
36. The Duchess of Milan, Michael Ennis
37. Elizabeth the Great, Elizabeth Jenkins
38. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
39. The Golden Nineties, Lisa Mason
40. We Two, Gillian Gill
41. Margaret Pole, Hazel Pierce
42. Ovid, The Poetry Library
43. Pandora, Anne Rice
44. Merrick, Anne Rice
45. Blood and Gold, Anne Rice
46. Black Wood Farm, Anne Rice
47. The Loves of Charles II by Jean Plaidy
48. The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. by Sandra Gulland
49. Victoria Victorious by Jean Plaidy
50. Cassandra, Lost by Joanna Catherine Scott
51. Royal Road to Fotheringhay by Jean Plaidy
52. The Courts of Love by Jean Plaidy
53. Peoney in Love by Lisa See

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Winner A Land Beyond Ravens by Kathleen Cunningham Guler

With out Delay The winner of "A Land Beyond Ravens" is...... JAMIE

Congrats Jamie!
Be sure everyone to enter in the other current giveaways:

Pendragon's Banner by Helen Hollick
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Giveaway Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel New Release on October 13Th 2009
Man Booker Prize Winner!

Remember I do not want to have to disqualify your comment for not leaving a contact email.

It is a hardback copy and is only open to US and Canada.

For 1 entry leave me a comment with a way to contact you.
For 2 entries follow my blog. If you already do, thanks, and please let me know in the comments. You're eligible for the extra entry as well.
For 3 entries blog, sidebar, or tweet this giveaway to spread the word. My user name is HObsessed.

I will end the contest at 12 pm October 20Th. I will randomly generate one winner and I will post the winners on the 21st and will contact the winner then through email to obtain shipping information so be on the watch out for me. Good Luck to all and let the giveaway begin!

"England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. The quest for the king’s freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum.

Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people and a demon of energy: he is also a consummate politician, hardened by his personal losses, implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage. With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, the novel re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Giveaway Pendragon's Banner by Helen Hollick

ooh wehe, another rocking giveaway this one is courtesy of Sourcebooks. The contest will run until the 19th at midnight. The winner will receive one paperback copy of "Pendragon's Banner" by Helen Hollick. Sorry but this one is for the US & Canada only.

* For 1 entry leave me a comment with a way to contact you.
* For 2 entries follow my blog. If you already do, thanks, and please let me know in the comments. You're eligible for the extra entry as well.
* For 3 entries blog or tweet this giveaway to spread the word.

Good Luck Everyone

"After claiming his throne on the blood-soaked fields of Rutupiae—striking fear into the hearts of his enemies—only Morgause “the witch” dared to challenge Arthur in this follow-up to Helen Hollick’s smash hit The Kingmaking. In a deadly game of politics and back-stabbing, Arthur must deal with the reality that taking a kingdom is far different from keeping one! Hollick’s new historical, Pendragon’s Banner (ISBN: 978-1402218897), spans six years, from 459-465 A.D., and details Arthur’s struggle to stay in power and keep his family alive.

Two enemies in particular threaten everything that is dear to him: Winifred, Arthur's vindictive first wife, and Morgause, priestess of the Mother and malevolent Queen of the North. Both have royal ambitions of their own.

This is not a fairy tale or fantasy. There is no Merlin, no sword in the stone, and no Lancelot. This is a tale of battle, intrigue and an irate Morgause who delights in nurturing the belief that she is a witch—especially after her very public curse on Arthur’s sons… This is an account of Arthurian legend, based on historical evidence and meticulous research; a story of King Arthur as it may have actually unfolded.

Bernard Cornwell has said that “Helen Hollick has it all” and that she “tells a great story.” Sharon Kay Penman felt that the novel was “compelling, convincing and—ultimately—unforgettable.” In this story of harsh battles, treasonous plots, and the life-threatening politics of Britain 's dark ages, author Helen Hollick boldly reintroduces King Arthur as you've never seen him before. This is the true story of King Arthur’s quest to keep all of Britain united under his legendary Pendragon’s Banner."

500 Mary Rose Appeal, Join the New Crew

Today marks the launch in a new public effort to raise awareness and funds to help protect Henry VIII "Mary Rose". The beautiful historical artifact needs our help in raising funds for a new place to call Mary Roses Home. You can visit there site for more information and get the cool inside scoop on the ship itself.

Preservation is the key to saving this wonderful beauty for generations to come. If we do not act how will our children be able to enjoy this in the future? Everyone can contribute even if it means just posting a link on your blog.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sundays Art:The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Great Pyramid of Giza
Egyptians built as the tomb of fourth dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Khufu. Still standing

Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Babylonians Diodorus Siculus described multi-levelled gardens reaching 22 metres (75 feet) high, complete with machinery for circulating water. Large trees grew on the roof. Built by Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife Amytis of Media.

Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Greeks Occupied the whole width of the aisle of the temple that was built to house it, and was 12 metres (40 feet) tall.

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis, it took 120 years to build. Herostratus burned it down to achieve lasting fame. Rebuilt by Alexander the Great only to be destroyed again by the Goths. It was rebuilt once again after, only to be closed in 391 and destroyed by a mob led by St John Chrysostom in 401.

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Carians, Persians, Greeks Stood approximately 45 metres (135 feet) tall with each of the four sides adorned with sculptural reliefs. Origin of the word mausoleum, a tomb built for Mausolus, a satrap in the Persian Empire

Colossus of Rhodes

Greeks A giant statue of the Greek god Helios, c. 35m (110 ft) tall.

Lighthouse of Alexandria
Hellenistic Egypt Between 115 and 135 metres (383 - 440 ft) it was among the tallest structures on Earth for many centuries. The island that it was built on, Pharaohs, eventually spawned the Latin word for lighthouse, again Pharaohs.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

10 Winners of Lady Vernon and Her Daughter

LinkThank you to all who entered, with out delay here are the ten winners of "Lady Vernon and Her Daughter" by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway. Congrats to everyone!

journeythroughbooks, delilah0180, andie.v107, cyeates, haleymathiot, nihongo90, runaway84, throuthehaze, meiran, marieburton2004

Be sure to check into my other giveaway, A Land Beyond Ravens by Kathleen Cunningham Guler

Friday, October 09, 2009

Last Chance For Giveaway of Lady Vernon and Her Daughter

Just a quick reminder that today is the last day to enter for a chance to win one of ten copies of Lady Vernon and Her Daughter by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

Go here to ENTER, it ends at midnight!
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