Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Review: THE RED QUEEN by Philippa Gregory

Finally it is time for “The Red Queen”, it feels like an eternity since the first installment of Gregory’s new series The Cousins' War was released. The Red Queen officially hits US bookstores on August 3rd, UK publication date – August 19th ANZ publication date – September 1st. I enjoyed “The White Queen” and all of Gregory's other books including “The Other Queen” which I know many people did not like at all. I know that Philippa has a past of  stirring up controversy, her books are usually a hot topic of debate. One that history buffs hold strong opinions on. I am sure this one will be no different on the controversy cauldron. I personally am not one who has to have complete historical accuracy, but I do draw the line at a certain point. One thing I will never be able to forgive Gregory for is the mythical sixth finger nub she gave to Anne Boleyn in “The Other Boleyn Girl”.  Even if I cannot forgive her for that I still enjoy her books even if they can be a bit off historically sometimes.

The notoriously pious Margaret Beaufort has always been one in my book that is a known Tudor villain. Personally I think the woman was evil. She schemed and plotted her way all through the War of the Roses and came out on top. I figure she must have been smart and quick as a whip because she was one of the few people that survived the war. It was all for one great cause, her son Henry Tudor. Being the only heir left of the house of Lancaster Margaret sees her sons cause simply as put in place by God himself. God himself wanted Henry to defeat York and roar into England as the red dragon. Even in her younger years Margaret was sure she was destined to become a saint and that her "lady" sent her visions of Joan of Arc for a reason while she prayed on her “saints knees”. It was like she was supposed to be England’s version of Joan of Arc which I can not even say out loud with out huffing about it. Margaret was firm in her belief that her prayers were answered and that a higher power spoke to her and gave her a divine purpose of placing her son on the throne of England. Her only child was destined to rule England because God himself willed it. Which translated to Margaret simply as, it did not matter how many people died in her path because her way was the righteous way to the throne.

Margaret was everything I expected, nasty, conniving, cunning, cold-hearted, and as strict as a nun schoolteacher who would beat a child with a large ruler in class. Gregory nailed Margaret's personality down to the T and since the book starts with a young Margaret you can get a feel of maybe just maybe why it was she was so dang mean. I enjoyed that Gregory gave a unique reason as to why Margaret was never able to give birth again after Henry was born. Scary as it sounds poor Margaret had a hard labor and Henry was just not coming. The crazy answer hum lets see; lets toss her in a blanket over ten times to shift the baby, dumb but it worked to get Henry out at the time. The tossing must have caused damage on her already too young body. Surprisingly I did not feel bad for her very much.

My only upset which I cannot go into too much detail about, is not that Margaret and Jasper Tudor shared feelings for each other which was more like a crush. For me it was Jasper's role that did not settle well in the end. It is well worth the read just to be able to understand what I mean but I can not give away too much it just is not my style. I will say however that it was not line crossing.

4/5 enjoyed it but I was a bit disappointed in the handling of the Lost Princes of York. It seemed a little anticlimactic leading up to Margaret’s perspective of the events. I am hoping the book in the series that will be on Elizabeth of York will be the tie into for both red and white queen but...we might have to wait for Elizabeth Woodville's mother Jaquetta's appearance first. I just have a feeling Elizabeth’s story will make all of it just make more sense. Recommended to all, especially newbie’s who want to get into the War of the Roses because this one is limited to almost wholly Margaret's prospective. I have to say though I think the historical accuracy lovers might have a few issues with this read. Even with all my quips I really did enjoy the read and will continue to read the series.

FTC: Book was sent to me by publisher

PG-13 Rating Violence

The White Queen: A Novel (Hardcover)
Other Books
The Other Boleyn GirlThe Boleyn InheritanceThe Constant Princess (Boleyn)The Queen's Fool: A Novel (Boleyn)The Virgin's Lover (Boleyn)The Other Queen: A Novel

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Giveaway Brandy Purdy UK Edition

"A lustful king. A thirst for power. The terrible price of revenge! When we meet the shy, plain Lady Jane Parker, she feels out of place in Henry VIII's court, which is filled with glamour and intrigue. Then she meets the handsome George Boleyn and becomes overjoyed when her father arranges a match! until she meets Anne. George Boleyn is completely devoted to his sister Anne; and as Anne's circle of admirers grows, so does Jane's resentment. Becoming Henry's queen makes Anne the most powerful woman in England; but it also makes her vulnerable, as the King is desperate for an heir. When he begins to tire of his mercurial wife, the stage is set for the ultimate betrayal! Encompassing the reigns of four of Henry's wives, from the doomed Anne to the reckless Katherine Howard, The Boleyn Wife is an unforgettable story of ambition, lust, and jealousy".

This is for one finished copy of The Tudor Wife, sorry but this one is for US residents 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. 

Giveaway will end on August 3rd at 12pm, good luck all!
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Monday, July 26, 2010

CSN Giveaway Winner & Mailbox Monday

Now onto the mailbox,  
From Publishers 
"Watch out Edward Cullen! Meet Mr. Knightley…The Vampire
Screenwriter Wayne Josephson Gives Jane Austen’s Emma Some Bite. Literally.
From Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of the Count in the 1931 film Dracula, to the hit 90s TV show Buffy The Vampire Slayer, to the modern-day HBO series True Blood and the blockbuster book and film franchise Twilight, the vampire has evolved from a being that wreaks horror on humans to one that wreaks havoc on the affairs of the heart.

Pop culture continues its fascination with vampires in the latest classics mashup Emma and the Vampires (ISBN:9781402241345; AUGUST 10, 2010 by Wayne Josephson.

The Regency-era comedy of manners finds Jane Austen’s beloved title character, Emma Woodhouse, attempting to arrange the affairs of the young ladies and gentleman vampires, including Mr. Knightley, in her social circle with delightfully disastrous results.

Emma and the Vampires reflects the author’s passion for retelling the great classics of literature for a modern-day audience. Josephson originally rewrote Emma for his teenage daughter, who then suggested he add vampires given their popularity in books, TV, and film. 

Emma is the most popular Jane Austen novel with young adult readers, and continues to delight audiences today, including the loose adaptation of the story in 1995’s Clueless, starring Alicia Silverstone, and the 1996 film adaptation with Gwyneth Paltrow portraying Emma.

Is the mashup dead? No, it’s undead".footer sig

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Leslie Carroll Cover Alert

Leslie Carroll is so sweet, she shared this juicy bit of information with me about the upcoming release of "Royal Pains A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Brutes, and Bad Seeds". I know it is a long time to wait but I am sure it will well be worth the wait until March 1st 2011. Thank you for sharing Leslie and I can not wait to read this one.
"In a world where sibling rivalry knows no bounds and excess is never enough, meet some of history’s boldest, baddest, and bawdiest royals

The bad seeds on the family trees of the most powerful royal houses of Europe often became the rottenest of apples. In an effort to stave off wrinkles, sixteenth-century Hungarian Countess Erzsébet Báthory bathed in the blood of virgins, and for kicks and giggles devised even more ingenious forms of torture than the über-violent autocrats Vlad (the Impaler) Dracula and Ivan the Terrible had ever imagined. Lettice Knollys strove to mimic the appearance of her cousin Elizabeth I and even stole her man. The Duke of Cumberland’s sexcapades and subsequent clandestine marriage led to a law that still binds England’s royal family. And the libidinous Pauline Bonaparte scandalized her imperial brother by having herself sculpted nearly nude and commissioning a golden drinking goblet fashioned in the shape of her breast.

Chock-full of shocking scenes, titillating tales, and wildly wicked nobles, Royal Pains is a rollicking compendium of the most infamous, capricious, and insatiable bluebloods of Europe".

Praise for Leslie Carroll's Notorious Royal Marriages
“For those who tackled Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, and can’t get enough of the scandal surrounding Henry VIII’s wives, [Notorious Royal Marriages is] the perfect companion book.”—The New Yorker

“Carroll writes with verve and wit about the passionate—and occasionally perilous—events that occur when royals wed.”—Chicago Tribune 
Royal Affairs: A Lusty Romp Through the Extramarital Adventures That Rocked theBritish MonarchyNotorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Book Review: DRACULA IN LOVE by Karen Essex

"Dracula In Love" by Karen Essex is due to hit bookstores everywhere August 10, 2010. In the past ten years I have steered clear of vampire reads. Though I have in the past read all of Anne Rice’s series “The Vampire Chronicles”. I found that my taste has changed and one of the big reasons I loved the Rice series is because I was really into the historical aspect of her books which eventually led me to historical fiction. I do have to admit that I did buy the whole “Twilight” series because so many people were into it.  Sadly I could not get past page three and ended up giving the books to my nephew. I did watch the movie after my mother coerced me into it only because they filmed part of the Twilight movie where she lives. I would have to say that Essex has astonished me with her “Dracula In Love” because she combined Anne Rice’s sensuality and historical practicality with Twilights modern romantic edge.  “Dracula In Love” held all of the adult components that Twilight was lacking for me.

The emerald eyed beauty Mina hooked me into her mysterious life, even she really was not sure why she was having crazy dreams that within the first chapter lead her to sleep walking outside her home where she was an etiquette teacher at a boarding school for girls. When she suddenly awoke she realized she was outside in her nightgown being attacked by a man who happened to come across her wandering the night.  Luckily her savior came in the form of a handsome man that she vaguely recognized. After running away it became clear to her that it all started with her dreams. The dreams were erotic and sensual which later led Mina to confide in her long time best friend Lucy.  Since Mina had no living family and she had spent all her childhood at the girls school and later became a teacher there, in the summer time when the school took its off time Mina decided to go and visit Lucy at her home in Whitby.

Mina’s visit to Whitby was anything but normal and her nerves had been on edge since her dearly beloved fiancée went on a business trip for his uncle to manage a high-end client that was a Count. Not having word that her beloved had arrived safely gave her reason to worry but even her BFF Lucy gave her a whole different reason to worry. Mina was constantly covering for Lucy who was having a sordid love affair with an American painter Morris Quince. She had heard from the locals the tales of Whitby and really did not think too much of them until one day a ghastly looking ship crashed on Whitby’s coast with the whole crew murdered. As Mina and the crowd watched the events unfold with the ship all of them were astonished to see a silver colored dog emerge as the soul survivor of the ships ordeal. Slinking off with hound and wolfish like features they watched the dog jump ship and trot right past them towards the town cemetery. Everyone looked for the strange animal but only Mina picked up that something was going on in Whitby and she felt that something or someone was out there calling to her.

5/5++ I loved this book, especially since I have not read a vampire book in a long time. Essex has made the perfect vampire book for the avid historical fiction lover. I loved and enjoyed that it was darkly mythical with a distinct flavor of erotic historical fiction that was completely mysterious all at the same time.  I really enjoyed the fact that Essex was compelled to appeal to more of the “mythical” aspects of the Bram Stokers original Dracula. Essex has succeeded in making Dracula sexy. I would recommend this read for HF lovers who would like to give a good vampire read a chance. Let this be the book that ensnares you into trying something different. I do have to admit that I have not devoured a book in less than three day in quite some time but this one trapped me into Mina’s mysterious world and I even found myself yearning to read more when I had things I was suppose to do.

R-rating, definitely erotic at points but in not the typical erotic sense, very sensual and a bit of violence. I would not recommend this book to people who want prim and proper.
FTC: This book was sent to me by publisher.

I decided to do something a little different since I loved this book so much. I made the lovely graphic below to honor the upcoming release of "Dracula In Love". Anyone and everyone is allowed to take it and use it but my only thing that I ask is if you put it up you link it to Karen Essex's website,
Enjoy the pretty button and I hope that all of you get a chance to read this really sexy book!
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Late Mailbox Mondays

The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir Hardcover, wish on

The Lady Elizabeth: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle)"Alison Weir was already one of Britain's most popular historians when she wrote her first novel, "Innocent Traitor", which hit the "Sunday Times" bestseller list to a chorus of praise. Now, in her second novel, Alison Weir goes to the heart of Tudor England at its most dangerous and faction-riven in telling the story of Elizabeth I before she became queen. The towering capricious figure of Henry VIII dominates her childhood, but others play powerful roles: Mary, first a loving sister, then as queen a lethal threat; Edward, the rigid and sad little King; Thomas Seymour, the Lord High Admiral, whose ambitions, both political and sexual, are unbridled. And, an ever-present ghost, the enigmatic, seductive figure of her mother Anne Boleyn, executed by Henry, whose story Elizabeth must unravel. Elizabeth learns early that the adult world contains many threats that have to be negotiated if she is to keep her heart and her head".

Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of AquitaineThe Murder in the Tower: The Story of Frances, Countess of Essex
Both of the above beauties I bought at Powell's Bookstore this week. Sadly I went up to buy them both on release day and they did not have them in yet. I was so upset that the books were still in thier warehouse about 3.5 hours away. I had to order them but I got lucky. I got lucky that Powell's had a "used" copy for sale of "Captive Queen" and I swooped on it 17$ for a brand new hardback copy. You can not beat that. Now I just have to figure out where "The Murder In The Tower" fits into in my Plaidy collection. It gets so confusing with all the reprints because they have changes some of the titles. If I am correct this one is between the Mary Queen of Scots books and The Loves of Charles II.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sundays Art: The Black Brunswicker by John Everett Millais

John Everett Millais
Oil on Canvas
104 cm x 68.5 cm or 41 in x 27 in

I know it has been a long time since I have posted a Sundays art, I figure this one will be a little bit easier than the Pre-Raphaelites. Millais is one of the prominent Pre-Raphaelites artists and has created some of my favorite works. This one though has a special place in my heart becasue of the hidden clues in the picture. There are many things about this piece that screem to me tragity. One of them is the picture of Napoleon on the wall, the red ribbon on her arm and the tiny ribbons on his uniform. The way in which he is leaning from her is unusual for her pose.

Here is what the web says:

"It was inspired in part by the exploits of the Black Brunswickers, a volunteer corps of the Napoleonic Wars, during the Waterloo campaign and in part by the contrasts of black broadcloth and pearl-white satin in a moment of tender conflict.The painting was originally exhibited with the plural title The Black Brunswickers, but is most commonly known by the singular form of the title.

The painting depicts a Brunswicker about to depart for battle. His sweetheart, wearing a ballgown, restrains him, trying to push the door closed, while he pulls it open. This suggests that the scene is inspired by the Duchess of Richmond's ball on 15 June 1815, from which the officers departed to join troops at the Battle of Quatre Bras.

In a letter to his wife, Effie Gray, Millais described his inspiration for the work, referring to a conversation with William Howard Russell, the war correspondent of The Times:

My subject appears to me, too, most fortunate, and Russell thinks it first-rate. It is connected with the Brunswick Cavalry at Waterloo...They were nearly annihilated but performed prodigies of valour... I have it all in my mind's eye and feel confident that it will be a prodigious success. The costume and incident are so powerful that I am astonished it has never been touched upon before. Russell was quite struck with it, and he is the best man for knowing the public taste. Nothing could be kinder than his interest, and he is to set about getting all the information that is required". Wiki

Study piece

"Millais spent three months painting ‘The Black Brunswicker’. Studies for the work exist both in the Lady Lever Art Gallery’s archives as well as in Tate Britain. Millais used Charles Dickens’s daughter Kate as the model for the girl and a private in the Life Guards for the soldier. Each had to model separately using a lay figure to lean against.

Millais wished to be historically accurate in making the girl’s dress look quite antique (it is actually a compromise between the fashions of 1859 and 1815 when waists were still kept high). The intensity of emotions is well conveyed in the close encounter of the couple, the girl’s body attempting to obstruct the soldier from his task and prevent his destiny.

The dark and enclosed space enhances the tragedy of the scene. The work appeals both to spectators’ patriotism and sentimentality. The only distraction is perhaps the brilliant shine of the girl’s dress, its creases tempting spectators’ tactile senses. The dog at the soldier’s feet also draws attention to the humanity of the subject. On the wall of the room an engraving of a painting by JL David, depicting Napoleon crossing the Alps serves as a reminder of Waterloo while also alluding to current events in 1860, when Napoleon III entered upon a war in Northern Italy in an attempt to expel the Austrians". Liverpool Museums

Be sure and check out the CSN giveaway for your chance to win a gift code for sixty dollars. Giveaway ends 7.24.10 at 12pm.
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cover Alert, Christine Trent A ROYAL LIKENESS

I could not help myself even if this already has been posted. I LOVE Christine Trent and I really have been waiting on this one since I first read "The Queen's Dollmaker". I knew Trent would deliver the cover goods, and this one is one lovely cover. I am sorry but I have to point out that I like the headless beauties, it gives me a chance to use my own imagination for her face. I have to say this one is just as beautiful as "The Queen's Dollmaker". I can not wait to get my hands on this one.

Releasing December 28, 2010
"A ROYAL LIKENESS by Christine Trent author of "The Queen’s Dollmaker" and a rising star in historical fiction, crafts a superb romantic novel with a thrilling theme—the true-life exploits of Madame Tussaud and her world-famous wax exhibition.

As heiress to the famous Laurent Fashion Dolls business, Marguerite Ashby’s future seems secure. But France still seethes with violence in the wake of the Revolution. And when Marguerite’s husband is killed during a riot, the young widow travels to Edinburgh and becomes apprentice to her old friend, Marie Tussaud, who has established a wax exhibition. When Prime Minister William Pitt commissions a wax figure of Admiral Nelson, Marguerite becomes immersed in a dangerous adventure—and earns the admiration of two very different men. And as Britain battles to overthrow Napoleon, Marguerite will find her loyalties under fire from all sides.

With a masterful eye for details, Christine Trent brings one of history’s most fascinating eras to life in of a story of desire, ambition, treachery, and courage".

“Winningly original...glittering with atmospheric detail!” —Leslie Carroll, author of Royal Affairs

“Unique, imaginative...replete with delightful details and astounding characters, both real and imagined.” —Donna Russo Morin, author of The Courtier’s Secret

For more on Christine Trent you can check out her site.
The Queen's Dollmaker
Amazon: The Queen's Dollmaker
Amazon: A Royal Likeness
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