Thursday, December 26, 2013

Book Review: THE THREE CROWNS by Jean Plaidy

In Post-Restoration England Princess Mary was the favorite niece of King Charles II. Her father James the Duke of York heir apparent doted on his favorite daughter. Her uncle Charles sadly had no legitimate male heirs making Mary’s father next in line for the throne and her second if her father had no male heirs. Mary’s parents married for love and besides her fathers affairs with numerous mistresses her childhood was a happy one. Mary’s younger sister Anne and her grew up in a close family. Both girls had it all, beauty, titles, wealth, family, education, and good health except for bad eyes, they were all very happy together. Mary was a daydreamer and she knew she had an ideal life; she was a beauty at court that was petted and loved by her father, uncle, and handsome illegitimate cousin Duke of Monmouth. She could have gone on living that way forever and been happy. She had never really given any thought to marriage or the fact that princesses were normally married off for the political gain of their country. Princesses were political bargaining chips and all of that went completely over Mary’s head. She never thought she would be subject to the same fate as most before her.

When Mary was 15 Charles decided it was time for Mary to be married and it had to be a Protestant bridegroom for Mary. Mary and her sister had been raised in the Church of England and since her father had converted to being a Catholic and re-married a Catholic woman; Charles concluded Mary had to marry a protestant for a few reasons. One reason was to please the people of England because there was unrest all over England about the heir apparent being Catholic. The second reason was King Charles needed Holland on his side and the prince of Orange (his nephew) had already met Mary and wanted her for his wife. The deal was sealed even though her father was forced to submit to the marriage he never wanted for his daughter.

Poor Mary her whole life fell apart the moment she was told she was to marry the Prince of Orange. William was ugly, rude, reserved, and could not be more opposite from Mary’s sunny disposition. She sobbed all the way to the wedding vows and William would never forgive her rejection of him. William was emotionally abusive and over the years he degraded her yet he constantly kept his eye on his one true ambition, the three crowns of England. The only thing in William’s way was James Duke of York his own father in-law. Pit between father and husband Mary must choose between the love of a father or the love and approval of her husband.

4/5 I liked this one but it really got old that William just heaped abuse upon abuse on Mary. I wanted to kill him yet I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book “Royal Sisters” because it really cut off at the ending.

PG 13 for slight sexual reference.
FTC this novel is from my personal collection.

"The Three Crowns" by Jean Plaidy
The Stuart Saga by Jean Plaidy

Friday, December 20, 2013

Book Review: THE MURDER IN THE TOWER by Jean Plaidy

Robert Carr fell from his horse in front of King James I and became his longtime favorite from that day on. Handsome as he was he was not very bright yet James was very forgiving of his faults. With help from an old friend working as his secretary Robert became the most powerful man at court for decades. He had never really given too much thought about relationships with women until he crossed paths with Frances Howard.

Frances Howard was rotten even as a child. She was cruel to her servants and was used to getting her way. Her uncle and parents made her a child bride; she was married at court then sent back home for a while to “grow up”. Regret sank in while her husband studied abroad. She wanted to return to court and eventually she was allowed to return. Frances was the type of woman that knew she was beautiful and used it as a weapon. She would stop at nothing to get what she wanted. At that moment Frances wanted to be free. She was married to one man but that did not stop Frances from falling madly in love with the only man at court that could compete with her beauty the kings long standing favorite Robert Carr.

She set her hopes high on Robert yet he was only half warm towards her. Robert was a man that did not want conflict in his life and avoided it whenever he could. Francis wanted the one thing she should not have. She wanted to be married to Robert even though she belonged to another. To keep the man she loved and get rid of the one she did not want, Frances would go to any means to get what she wanted. She would let no one stand in the way of what she wanted but could she be capable of murder?

5/5 Plaidy, Plaidy, Plaidy we all love Plaidy. I enjoyed this novel but found so hard not to hate Frances with every fiber of my being. I feel like Robert got all tangled up in a black widows web of deceit and paid the ultimate price. I am bound and determined to finish Plaidy’s Stuart Saga and I am elated that I can finally do it. I would highly recommend this novel because Plaidy novels are always perfectly blended historical fiction novel. Plaidy just makes sense of everything historical fiction and I cannot recommend her more highly.

PG-13 Sexual reference and violence.
FTC-This novel is from my personal collection.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Book Review: THE KING'S DAUGHTER by Christie Dickason

Elizabeth Stuart daughter of king James I of England was born in Scotland. She eventually moved to England when her father became King of England upon Elizabeth I’s death. Elizabeth had a very sheltered childhood. Her father was adamant that she would not have any knowledge of the court’s happenings. He even went so far as to make sure she was not educated too much because he believed educated women were trouble. Even though her father forbade her many things including a loving mother, Elizabeth gathered court information from her beloved older brother Henry Prince of Wales.

Henry and Elizabeth were thick as thieves because their mother was not exactly all there and James was abrasive to say the least. That made their relationship solid but with their parents it was very awkward. The siblings literally had no relationship with their mother Queen Anne of Denmark and their relationship with James was brutal. James was cold, calculating, and hardly missed a beat. His children were terrified of the things he did. In the political world James wanted to play peacemaker in the courts abroad. To appease all fractions James promised one child would marry Catholic and the other Protestant. As Elizabeth came of age her list of suitors was long and always changing, which made it very hard for her to gather information about who was on the list. She was literally in the about any negotiations until a new unlikely friend was forced upon her.

This new friend showed up after Elizabeth had a disastrous reunion with her mother after she arrived in England. Her mother had treated her strangely. She was shown no love and later her mother gifted her a peculiar gift of a human being flesh and blood. Her name was Tallie and she showed up unannounced and had put Elizabeth on edge because she really had no idea what to do with the gift of a person. Tallie was a slave and had dark ebony skin yet it was not the color of her skin that made Elizabeth uneasy. Elizabeth did not care much for appearances she wanted the one thing no one else would give her, the truth. Elizabeth's “herd” of ladies were never completely honest with her and she knew it. Elizabeth became friends with Tallie because they made a pact that they would always be honest with each other. After the ground rules were established for their new friendship the two conspired together on gathering information on the ever-changing court objectives of the moment. Top on the courts priority list was finding a suitable suitor for Elizabeth.

Tallie would do anything for Elizabeth and Elizabeth the same because no one else ever seemed to care about the two girls except for Prince Henry. Henry was Elizabeth’s everything and he wanted to make sure Elizabeth married well. He genuinely wanted his sister to be happy. There were new suitors being added to the list daily for her hand. Then there was one suitor that the siblings became immediately smitten with, Frederick Elector of the Palatine. When he arrived in England Elizabeth immediately knew he was meant for her heart and soul. But in a tragic turn of events Elizabeth could loose the man she never had and the best friend she never asked for. She had to be brave and take her future into her own hands or loose everything she held so dear to her heart.

4/5 Light, fun read some might find this a “fluffy” novel. I enjoyed it and that is all that really matters in the end. I have not read much on James I’s court, which is a problem I am quickly working to rectify. I have a feeling this novel was more on the dramatic side of the historical fiction spectrum so if accuracy is your thing this might not be your cup of tea. I would recommend this novel to newbies of James I’s court and Elizabeth Stuart.

R-Rating for sexual reference
FTC- this novel is from my personal collection.

The King's Daughter by Christie Dickason

Monday, December 09, 2013

Mailbox Monday

Isabella Braveheart of France by Colin Falconer
"She was taught to obey. Now she has learned to rebel. 12 year old Isabella, a French princess marries the King of England - only to discover he has a terrible secret. Ten long years later she is in utter despair - does she submit to a lifetime of solitude and a spiritual death - or seize her destiny and take the throne of England for herself? Isabella is just twelve years old when she marries Edward II of England. For the young princess it is love at first sight - but Edward has a terrible secret that threatens to tear their marriage - and England apart. Who is Piers Gaveston - and why is his presence in the king’s court about to plunge England into civil war? The young queen believes in the love songs of the troubadours and her own exalted destiny - but she finds reality very different. As she grows to a woman in the deadly maelstrom of Edward’s court, she must decide between her husband, her children, even her life - and one breath-taking gamble that will change the course of history. This is the story of Isabella, the only woman ever to invade England - and win. In the tradition of Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick, ISABELLA is thoroughly researched and fast paced, the little known story of the one invasion the English never talk about".~Lizzie~

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Book Review "ROYAL MISTRESS" by Anne Easter Smith

"Royal Mistress" is a mistress I have not touched on before and I was pleasantly surprised to find a whole new perspective in The War of the Roses. Jane Shore was one of Edward VI mistresses but the only difference with Jane is that she was in it for the long haul. There are many sad stories that occur during the War of the Roses and Jane's was no exception. Each and every story during this time period has such a different perspective of what went down. I had never really touched upon Jane’s until now even though she was Edwards’s favorite. I had been saving it for a book I really wanted to read. I fell in love with Jane just like everyone else did in her day. Jane had grown up Jane Lambert. Her father was a successful silk merchant in London. Her father and her never really had a good relationship and he was eager to marry her off to a lame older silk merchant. Sadly her future husband never had any libido. Jane was considered a striking beauty and even that did not rouse her husband. Jane concluded that he was impotent and had been robbed her of the one thing she desired most: children. With a loveless marriage and no children in the future Jane was the unhappiest in her life. On one fateful day in London her husband had picked out the most exquisite dress and headdress to match for her to wear. He had made it all especially for this day so that she may sit in the shop window and get the attention of the nobility that would be parading through the London streets that day. His ultimate goal was to ensnare a rich customer even maybe a royal one but instead he ensnared something else he never saw coming that might yet become an advantage for him. 

Prior to Jane’s marriage she had fallen for the Marquis Tom grey and it never came to anything serious, one because she did not know who he really was and two he was already married. He never told her who he really was but that did not stop Jane’s puppy love for Tom. While Jane was married she fancied herself with Tom and he was never far from her thoughts. It was by chance that Will Hastings; King Edwards’s right hand man saw the beauty exquisitely sitting in the window waving at the procession that day. William saw Jane but Jane saw her Tom Grey and it was then everything clicked into place. Tom already had a wife and so did Will Hastings but that did not stop either one of them from falling head over heels for “Shore’s Wife”. Hastings wasted no time in tracking her down under the guise of a new gown for his wife. Jane and Will became fast friends and he became her “in” at court. Jane did not return Will’s feelings but instead they developed a friendship. Will knew it was only a matter of time before King Edward saw her and he would have to relinquish the newly discovered beauty.

King Edward had held a party at the palace in honor of all the guild members. Jane and her husband were personally given thanks from the king and queen. Love or Lust at first sight it did not matter both King and Jane became instantly smitten with each other. Edward was quick to dispatch Jane’s lame husband and claim her all for himself. He became Jane’s first love and lover all at once. Edward was blissfully happy with Jane. He even went so far as to parade her in front of his notorious wife Elizabeth Woodville. That is one woman you never want to cross yet Jane loved Edward so much she could not stay away from him. At that point it did not matter what Elizabeth Woodville thought because Jane had Edward’s love on lock down and it was enough for her. She never really thought about what could happen to her if he were suddenly gone. Jane tended to live in the moment and had not given too much thought into what her future could be like with out Edward. In a turn of tragic events Edward is suddenly taken from her and that is where the story really picks up. With Edward VI gone and his brother Richard now in control, Richard was adamant about cleaning up the loose morals at his brother’s court. Richard specifically went after Jane truly believing that she had hastened his brother quick demise. She would be his first example at court of how he would deal with immoral women.

4/5 I was on the fence about this one, I was unsure if it was a full 5 or not. I give this one a four because I kind of felt the whole execution of Anthony Rivers was kind of glossed over. However this novel is very moving I found myself rooting for Jane and her quick wit. I really could not put this one down after ¼ the way through it. At one point in my reading I was reduced to tears because I thought someone stole my book out my garage but thank goodness I found it.

PG-13 Sexual reference, violence.
FTC-this book was sent to me by the publisher for review.


Monday, December 02, 2013

Mailbox Monday

Shakespeare's Sonnets
The bard's sonnets read by a leading actor of stage and screen Simon Callow.

Savor the most celebrated love poems in the English language. Written almost 400 years ago, the sonnets of William Shakespeare are passionate and exalted, rich in imagery and alliteration, and full of mystery and intrigue.

This selection presents all 154 sonnets composed from 1593-1601. In words and rhyme, he reveals his infatuation with the "Dark Lady," his relationship with a rival poet, and his private thoughts on love, death, beauty, and truth: timeless themes that span the centuries to touch our hearts today.

A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America
A dramatic retelling of our nation's past by today's preeminent multiculturalism scholar, Ronald Takaki, this book examines America's history in "a different mirror"-from the perspective of the minority peoples themselves. Beginning with the colonization of the "New World" and ending with the Los Angeles riots of 1992, this book recounts the history of America in the voices of the non-Anglo peoples of the United States-Native Americans, African Americans, Jews, Irish Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and others-groups who helped create this country's rich mosaic culture. In this significant work of scholarship, Professor Takaki grapples with the raw truth of American history and examines the ultimate question of what it means to be an American.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Great Gatsby Movie Art and Fashion

I know I am really late on "The Great Gatsby" Train but I must admit I held myself back. I read the book before I watched the movie and it was worth the wait. Beautifully filmed this movie is breath taking and I am glad I waited. I wanted to share with you all some of my favorite little things related to "The Great Gatsby". Happy reading all!

Carey Mulligan "Daisy Buchannan

Tiffany even jumped on board for Gatsby themed spread May 2013

For More On The Great Gatsby:
Check out the Soundtrack on Google Play
Amazon, Books, The Movie, and More on The Great Gatsby
You Tube "Young and Beautiful" - A Tribute to "The Great Gatsby"
You Tube The Great Gatsby Deleted Scenes - Alternate Ending SPOILER ALERT!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Book Review: THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald

American classic literature at its finest. Short yet anything but sweet this novel will leave you feeling very reflective on your own life’s choices. At a tiny 180 pages this novel is not exactly an easy novel to read even for me it was rough going in a few spots. My interpretation is that Fitzgerald purposely wrote this novel intentionally vague. I think the point is to leave the story open for the reader to decide how they view the novel.

In the fabled city of West Egg Nick Carraway moved into a forgotten gardeners cottage between mansions the summer of 1922. Nick a WWI vet had moved to West Egg from the Midwest to pursue his hobby of writing. Nick’s had a lovely cousin named Daisy Buchannan that lived across the bay in East Egg. West and East Egg were very different from each other. East Egg residents were made of “old money” and West Egg was considered “new money”. The two suburbs fabled to be outside of Long Island NY were worlds apart. The two rarely crossed paths except for at “Gatsby’s Parties”. Coincidentally Gatsby happened to live right next door to Nick in a giant mansion. His parties were notorious for being the best in New York and the whole city would turn out for his shindigs.

Nick became quickly reacquainted with his beautiful cousin Daisy and her husband Tom. Nick and Tom were old Yale grad buddies. Tom also was heir to a vast family fortune and was an arrogant jerk. He and Daisy lived in the lap of luxury in East Egg. It was crystal clear to Nick after spending dinner with his rich cousins that Daisy was a very unhappy woman. Tom was the main source of that pain because it was said that he “kept a woman in NY”. Nick with out a choice would happen to meet this other woman that very night. During dinner Tom insisted that they go out for a night in town. On their way into town on the train Tom jumped off the train and headed straight to the local mechanic shop. Nick was stunned to discover that this other woman of Tom’s was also someone else’s wife. The mechanic’s wife Myrtle made Nick very uneasy. Daisy was his cousin yet after a little cajoling Nick partied like a wild man all night with Tom, Myrtle, and their closest friends.

Nick had been on a parting splurge when he received an official invitation to one of Gatsby’s wild parties. When he arrived he realized he was the only one who had actually been invited. He had a hard time finding the host of the glorious party and he happened to come across Daisy’s best friend he had met at dinner the other night, Jordan Baker. At least he had Jordan to cling to at the party because Gatsby was always aloof at his own parties. Nick had set out to discover more about the host and all he got back were outlandish tales of Gatsby’s background. He came to the conclusion that no one knew who Gatsby really was and right when he had given up searching him out Gatsby found him. He was nothing like he had expected, young, handsome, and defiantly sober unlike Nick. The pair hit it off and Nick found himself invited into Gatsby’s mysterious life of “new money”.

Gatsby had engaged Nick because he “wanted him to know something of him” because he had a request for Nick and miss Jordan Baker would explain the rest to him. Jordan had mentioned at the party that she had met Gatsby before and Gatsby needed their help. His request seemed like a simple thing. He wanted Nick to invite Daisy Buchannan to tea. Sounds simple enough yet Nick had no inkling at the history behind Jay Gatsby and Daisy. Nick felt compelled to arrange the meeting between his married cousin and this eccentric millionaire he barely knew and that was just the beginning.

4/5 I gave this novel a four even though I loved it because I had to re-read quite a few parts. The style of the prose maybe hard to digest for some readers, it can be difficult at times. If you did not read this in high school then I would highly recommend reading it before you watch the movie. I also think that if you did read it as high school mandatory curriculum then you should re-read it again because your interpretation as an adult might vary from a youth’s stand point. I also want to point out that the movie is almost exactly like the book except a few small parts cut out. The movie made a great follow up to the read.

R – Rating for violence and sexual references.
FTC – I bought this novel for my personal collection.
Amazon – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review: THE SISTER QUEENS by Sophie Perinot

My new favorite historical fiction sisters are back at it again. This is a lovely novel on Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence. These exciting sisters are the reason why us historical fiction lovers read so much.

“The Sister Queens” focuses on the two elder daughters of the Count of Provence, Marguerite and Eleanor. Both sisters married very well. Marguerite married Louis IX of France and Eleanor married Henry III of England. Both sisters became queens of powerful countries. Though both women were queens they each had very different temperaments. Eleanor was the saucy one and stubborn to boot. Marguerite was the opposite she was docile and learned young to keep her feelings always guarded. Living apart the sisters did not let that stop them from keeping tabs on each other. Faithful pen pals though out their lives the adventures these sisters had were anything but dull.

The sister’s marriages could not have been more different. Eleanor’s Henry was a loving, devoted husband who always put her first. Marguerite's husband Louis on the other hand was so pious he felt guilty just for coming to her bed. They could have been happy together yet Louis’ pious ways kept them apart emotionally and physically. Marguerite strived to be a good wife and she proved her worth when they went on crusade to Egypt. The Egyptians captured both king and his nobles. Marguerite came to his rescue pregnant as she was she still was able to ransom the release of her husband and his men.

Sadly Louis never really saw Marguerite for the woman she was. He only cared about his faith and Marguerite was not a part of it. Eventually this beat Marguerite down and her eyes began to wander elsewhere. She fell madly in love with her husband’s closest friend Jean de Joinville the Seneschal of Champagne. Jean gave her what Louis never did real love, emotional, and physical. It was this relationship I enjoyed the most besides the sisters. Jean was a hopeless romantic just like Marguerite. He loved his King and Queen yet he also secretly loved the woman that was behind the Queen. She could not help her feelings yet she knew the consequences if they were caught it would her undoing.

Eleanor however was fully faithful to her “true husband” as Marguerite stated. She had the husband Marguerite never would. They were truly a happy pair. The real struggle they faced was securing Gascony for their son. After tirelessly fighting tooth and nail for it they finally had Gascony on lock down and the happy couple confirmed their new rule by paying homage to their brother in-law the King of France. The sisters were finally reunited after over a decade apart. Together these sisters now had one common goal and that was to insure lasting peace between England and France.

5/5 This novel was so different from “Four Sisters, All Queens” by Sherry Jones that I thoroughly enjoyed both novels. In this novel the sister’s personalities are swapped from Four Sisters. I enjoyed it both ways. For this one I enjoyed that Perinot explored Marguerite’s relationship with Joinville even more. It made for some super romantic moments. I highly recommend this novel because if you are not familiar with the Savoy sisters of Provence then you must make it a priority to read about these exciting sisters lives.

R-Rating for sexual content
FTC – This novel was sent to me by the author for review.
Amazon – The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot

Monday, November 18, 2013

Book Review: FOUR SISTERS, ALL QUEENS by Sherry Jones

Famously beautiful the house of Savoy was renowned for their lovely qualities. Four beautiful sisters from the house of Savoy each different in their own ways snared me into their stories from the beginning of this novel. This was a delightful read that I related to so much. I also have four sisters and each one is unique just like the Savoy sisters. The tile of this novel is pretty self explanatory "Four Sister’s all Queen’s" yet I found what really mattered was how they got there.

Marguerite, the eldest of the siblings was the arrogant one yet at heart she was a hopeless romantic. Eleonore second in line was very close with her elder sister and both matched each other in ambition and wit. Sanchia was next and was born pious through and through. She loved her elder sisters but was a constant ball of anxiety that was filled with self-doubt. She was said to be the most beautiful of the girls yet it did nothing for her personality. Last but not least is Beatrice, the baby of the family. She was also a daddies little girl. Beatrice had a nasty mean streak in her but she too still loved her sisters. Growing up the girls lived in beautiful Provence. Their family lands were coveted for their rich salt mines. With four girls born to the Duke of Provence there was only one solution and that was to marry all the girls off and marry them off well.

The girls were all married off one by one as they came of age until only little Beatrice was left home. Marguerite married Louis IX of France and became Queen of France. Eleonore married Henry III of England and became England’s Queen. Then the two queen’s conspired together and married younger Sanchia to Henry III’s brother Richard of Cornwall and later King of Germany making Sanchia Queen of Germany. The three older sisters were pretty close and it really surprised me that they all spent so much time together in this novel. I can honestly say I have never read about any other Queens that traveled so much together. It made for exciting reads set in amazing locations.

Marguerite’s marriage was rocky from the beginning. Her new mother in law Blanche dubbed “the white queen” for all her white face paint held all the real power over her marriage. Blanche exerted her power over Marguerite every minute of every day. Marguerite really was queen only in name she had no real authority. Eleonore also had her own problems with her “aged” husband. Though he had a heart of gold she had no desire for him. In time she did grow to love him but her real struggles lay with the English court. They were not exactly keen to having a new foreign queen. They took every possible swipe they could at her. Yet she found security in her relationship with her husband because he truly loved her and she returned that loved whole-heartedly.

Sanchia was not really an arranged marriage yet her two older sisters defiantly played a hand in its fourth coming. The sisters needed a way to have an “in” with the Earl of Cornwall. Since Sanchia was the “fairest” of all the sisters and a devout woman they knew Richard would not be able to resist her. All Sanchia ever wanted was to enter a nunnery but her mama had always said “family” first and the family needed her to marry well. Over sensitive she was and Richard can be best descried as a pig headed man they started out good but the bad began to out weigh the good and Sanchia was very unhappy.

When the sisters sadly lost their father before Beatrice was married it became time for her to join her big sisters in the courts of the world. This was a huge turning point in the novel because when their father died Beatrice was named in his most recent will to be the now unwed Countess of Provence. He left Beatrice everything. This created some big problems because their father still had yet to pay Marguerite's dowry to France. It was this that wholly tore the sisters apart. Mama always said “family first” and Beatrice was a brat making everything very unpleasant. Beatrice chose a husband and her husband of choice was none other than the King of France’s little brother the Count of Anjou. Marguerite had a few run in’s with him through the years and he was a brat too. The new couple was so much alike, they both were bratty younger siblings and they both had a nasty mean streak.

Over the years these courageous sisters that were raised with “the hearts of boys” grew into women that possessed hearts of men. They never backed down, not during the Holy War, Civil War, or even when conquering new lands. These sisters were warrior queens of the 13th century.

5+/5 one would think that reading a novel with four protagonists would be a hard to follow read. Author Sherry Jones broke this novel down into chapters that were one person at a time and I was not in the dark every chapter because it picked right back up where it left off before. I really made use of the full family trees of all the different houses and most importantly everyone’s titles. The map also was a great resource because these sisters really went everywhere. I loved this novel it made me think of my own sisters and their unique qualities. I would highly recommend this novel to who has not heard of these dramatic sisters lives.

R-Rating for sexual content.
FTC-I received this novel by the author for review.
Amazon - Four Sisters, all Queens, Sherry Jones

Friday, November 15, 2013

Book Review: THE WHITE PRINCESS by Philippa Gregory

This one was not a new favorite of mine. Sadly I had really high hopes for this novel and it really fell short for me. I am a big fan of Philippa Gregory and always will be but in all honesty “The White Princess” was a real let down for me.

Elizabeth of York, daughter of Elizabeth Woodville and Edward VI was dubbed “the white princess”. Elizabeth’s life s a royal princess was a happy time but her father passed away suddenly and England fell apart at his swift departure from this life. This novel picks up right after the battle of Bosworth. King Richard III is dead and Henry VII is now King of England. Elizabeth’s mother Elizabeth Woodville and Henry’s mother Margaret Beaufort arranged the marriage to form an alliance between the house of York and Lancaster. They would join together the two houses and form the house of Tudor which would finally end the never ending “cousins war”. This is where I have to state that I did not like Philippa’s Henry Tudor. He was mean and down right unlikeable from the beginning. Margaret Beaufort had only one requirement before the wedding could proceed; Elizabeth had to prove she would be a very fertile wife. Elizabeth did not like Henry from the moment she met him and neither did I. She was still madly in love with her uncle Richard III. This was another aspect of the novel I did not like. The fact that they both had a real sexual affair irked me. Henry found this out and set himself to claim Elizabeth before they were married. He attacked her and she was not willing. He rapped her and she called him her “rapist” all through the first half of the book. However she did prove she was like her mother and she very quickly became pregnant.

After they were married the new king and queen welcomed their first child a boy name Arthur Tudor. Marriage to Henry Tudor was not at any point easy. His years of hiding and fighting his way through the war made him a very uneasy man. He suspected everyone and everything especially his own wife. He constantly accused her of conspiring with her “York” family to throw him down. She suffered many abuses by her husband but she knew her place and knew she was powerless in the Tudor court to do anything about it.

The biggest threat the Henry’s thrown came in the form of a “pretender” who claimed to be Elizabeth’s long lost younger brother Richard of York. This was a real threat and Henry recognized that if people believed this “pretender” then he could be thrown back down to where he came from. In protecting his court Henry alienates everyone especially his wife and her blood relations. Henry struggled to keep control of England and the “pretender” coming into the picture really complicated everything even more. Elizabeth found herself stuck in the very middle. She had already lost so much in her short life and wanted some peace but in a newly established Tudor Court conspiracies ran rampant and her husband always thought she had alliterative motives for the things she did. You cannot please everyone in life and Elizabeth found that out the hard way.

3/5 I enjoyed Elizabeth’s relationship with her cousin “Maggie” or how I knew her before this Margaret Pole aka the elderly woman Henry VIII executed for treason. I never imagined the two could have been so close. Now I can see that it would have made much sense. I was really disappointed with this novel. I kept reading thinking it would get better but it never really did. I really did not like that this novel had a whole different feel from the previous novels. Normally I can do a far-fetched historical fiction novel but even this one was reaching way too far. The whole book was really negative and anti climatic but that is just my two cents on this novel. .

PG-13 rating for some sexual references.
FTC-I bought this one for my personal collection.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book Review: THE PARIS ARCHITECT by Charles Belfoure

WOW…. this is an amazing novel. This one is not my normal time period. Yet I really enjoyed reading WWII novels when I was in college. This novel has a compelling story line that I just could not resist.

“The Paris Architect” set in 1942 Paris during WWII; the German’s have been occupying France for some time now violence is an every day part of life in Paris at this time. Lucien Bernard really is not the most likable person at first. He is architect struggling tot make ends meat just like everyone in this time period. He is not a man of high moral fiber. He is married yet he also has a mistress who is part of the Paris fashion elite. Lucien is the type that would never put his neck out for anyone else but in a time where murders happened daily it desensitizes a person and makes horrific uncalled for violence an everyday part of life. Lucien was barely making it and people around him were killed everyday for just trying to live.

Lucien came highly recommended for his architectural skills and when he is approached for a new job that could put his life at risk he really had to consider all his options. It was meant to be a one-time job of the up most secrecy. The job was to make a hiding space no Nazi or Gestapo could ever find. If he took the job then his new employer would make sure as an added bonus that he got a contact for building a brand new war factory for the Reich. Lucien had much to gain by drawing up one blue print for this ultra exclusive hiding spot. On the other hand he could loose not just his life, he could be tortured to death by the Gestapo. It was more than a huge risk to help anyone Jewish because anyone who was caught hiding a Jew or helping a Jew was killed right along with the Jew on the spot. Lucien deiced he would take the job because getting one over one the despicable Nazi’s was just something he could not pass up.

Lucien and his new employer did not anticipate that they would have to move more than once, which meant more than one hiding spot. The Gestapo aka Nazi secret police were closing in and if caught everyone would die. They had to stay one step ahead of the Nazi’s. Lucien at this point became fully invested in hiding some of the Jews and feared greatly the Gestapo were following him. Even with the looming threat he knew he could never just walk away at this point. His heart had changed and now he would do anything to help save people that were being wrongfully persecuted.

5/5 WOW again wow this novel is a quick paced mysterious read. You really have no idea what might happen next. I really enjoyed this one. However I do have to mention that if you are not up for blood or violence then this is not the book for you because there are gruesome torture scenes that are very detailed. I would highly recommend this novel to WWII lovers because it is a unique novel that pulls all your heart strings.

R-Rating for blood, gore, violence and sex
FTC- this novel was sent to me by the publisher for review.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Book Review: ROYAL ROMANCES by Leslie Carroll

Everyone loves a good romance but it is even better when they are true stories. Like Leslie has said before “I could not even make this stuff up” and man is she right. Leslie’s witty style comes through time and time again. This time around it is fun in the game of love. Covering Charles VII, Henri II, Louis XIV, Sophia Dorthea of Celle, Luis XV, Catherine the Greta, Caroline Mathilde, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon Bonaparte, Ludwig I of Bavaria, George VI, and last but not least Prince William of Wales. Perfect bite sized bits of romance all put into one great non-fiction book.

My top favorite of course has to be Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton. I had no idea they broke up so many times though out their relationship. I was really surprised their relationship was so rocky in the beginning. It opened my eyes to how down to earth they are especially towards each other.  No servants allowed yet Williams father has an army of servants he even has one to “squeeze the tooth paste” every morning. That made me laugh. After reading that section it really made me look forward to when it is William and Kate’s turn to rule.  In true royal fashion they will be the peoples King and Queen.

4/5 Loved it but I have to admit that for a standard size book it sure has some bulk to it. I found my eyes struggled with the font size.  Other than that I really had no other issues. Leslie really has a gift for making non-fiction fun and exciting.

FTC-this book was sent to me by the publisher


Monday, October 21, 2013

Mailbox Monday

The King's Mistress, Emma Campion

"When had I choice to be other than I was? From childhood Alice Salisbury has learnt obedience in all things and at fourteen, dutifully marries the man her father has chosen for her - at the cost of losing the love of her mother forever and the family she holds dear.

But merchant Janyn Perrers is a good and loving husband and Alice soon learns to enjoy her marriage. Until a messenger brings news of his disappearance and she discovers that her husband had many secrets, secrets he didn't want her to know - but which have now put a price on her own head and that of her beloved daughter. Brought under the protection of King Edward III and Queen Philippa, she must dutifully embrace her fate once more - as a virtual prisoner at Court.

And when the king singles her out for more than just royal patronage, she knows she has little choice but to accept his advances. But obeying the king brings with it many burdens as well as pleasures, as she forfeits her good name to keep her daughter free from hurt.

Still a young woman and guided by her intellect and good business sense, she learns to use her gifts as wisely as she can. But as one of the king's favourites, she brings jealousy and hatred in her wake and some will stop at nothing to see her fall from grace".

The Calligrapher's Daughter, Eugenia Kim

"A sweeping debut novel, inspired by the life of the author’s mother, about a young woman who dares to fight for a brighter future in occupied Korea
In early-twentieth-century Korea, Najin Han, the privileged daughter of a calligrapher, longs to choose her own destiny. Smart and headstrong, she is encouraged by her mother—but her stern father is determined to maintain tradition, especially as the Japanese steadily gain control of his beloved country. When he seeks to marry Najin into an aristocratic family, her mother defies generations of obedient wives and instead sends her to serve in the king’s court as a companion to a young princess. But the king is soon assassinated, and the centuries-old dynastic culture comes to its end.

In the shadow of the dying monarchy, Najin begins a journey through increasing oppression that will forever change her world. As she desperately seeks to continue her education, will the unexpected love she finds along the way be enough to sustain her through the violence and subjugation her country continues to face? Spanning thirty years, The Calligrapher’s Daughter is a richly drawn novel in the tradition of Lisa See and Amy Tan about a country torn between ancient customs and modern possibilities, a family ultimately united by love, and a woman who never gives up her search for freedom".

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

"The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.
The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature".


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Book Review: SONG OF THE NILE by Stephanie Dray

Time for round two in the Cleopatra’s Daughters series, “Song of the Nile” follows Cleopatra’s daughter Selene through her struggle to wrest Egypt away from the greedy Imperator of Rome Augustus. Selene survived being a royal captive in Rome only to be married off to the newly named King Juba of Mauretania. He once was her teacher yet he was not her choice for husband but when you live under the Imperator’s roof you automatically loose all your rights especially if you are a woman. Selene’s feelings became no longer of import. Augustus did whatever he pleased because he literally ruled the entire known world at the time. He knew he had Selene trapped, holding her little brother as a royal hostage in Rome. He had power over her and he planned on keeping it that way. With one brother a hostage and her twin Helios’s circumstances unknown, Selene constantly fretted that she would never see Helios’s again.

After Selene was married it was time to go to her new kingdom Mauretania to take her place as Queen. She would never be the same after that horrible voyage to Mauretania. The creepy Imperator Augustus would take full advantage of Selene’s venerability on this trip. The Imperator’s vicious wife Livia set up Selene. She waited for her chance to strike at Selene and the time was now before Selene made it to her new kingdom. Liva set Selene up to be attacked by Augustus and he always got what he wanted. I cried for Selene, it was awful and rape is never ever a pretty thing. I truly was heartbroken for Selene because he had taken from her the only thing that was truly hers. Eventually my heartbroken feelings were replace with anger and then it evolved into this feeling that she deserved revenge against the man who took everything she ever had and more.

Upon her arrival in Mauretania Selene was traumatized by the previous events. I think she went into a state of shock. She also took a vow to never let another man touch her again and that included her new husband Juba. Heartbroken and once again sick of the cruelties of life she gets word that her rebellious brother Helios was dead. Her heart would never let her believe it and she would have to endure the trials the Imperator would put her through. The only thing that held Selene together at this point was her ambitious need to get Egypt back. Everything was in her way on the road to get Egypt. Friends, family and even her own husband she might have to sacrifice everything she ever had for Egypt. Her heart always belonged in Egypt but making a new home in Mauretania had begun to change everything for her. She had to find her own way in this life and Caesar be damned nothing was going to stop her.

5/5 I found this novel way more dark and mysterious compared to “Lilly of the Nile”. I really enjoyed it but I wish I had read them closer together. I seemed to have forgotten a lot of the important details from the first one. This novel goes deeper with Selene’s mystical side and I found like “Lilly of the Nile” that Dray perfectly blended the right amount of historical fiction with fantasy. There really was just enough magic where it was not overwhelming. I feel I must note a couple points about this novel that might be a turn off to some readers. First Selene is rapped and it is brutally graphic and the other issue is incest. As many of you know in Egypt’s history it was common for royal siblings to marry each other. Some readers might find Selene’s relationship with Helios a little much in this novel. It did not bother me but it might bother others just like the rape. I just wanted to bring that to light so readers do not expect something else out of this novel. I would highly recommended this novel for mature historical fiction readers who are looking for a unique novel that is off the beaten historical fiction path.

FTC-this book was sent to me by the publisher.
R-Rating for sexual violence.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Book Review: THE QUEEN'S VOW by C.W. Gortner

This novel was a hard one for me in the beginning. My mind just was not in it like it should be. It really was my own issues holding me back. I originally started this novel and got about twenty pages in in and ended up putting it down. I recently came back to it and read about five pages and was really hooked into it. I have always loved Gortner’s novels but this one was really different for me because I have not read any novels on Isabella of Castile. I am elated that I went back to it because it really gave an extensive background on his previous novel “The Last Queen” which is about Isabella’s daughter Jauna.

Isabella Queen of Castile known as the warrior queen. A rightly earned nickname because she fought tooth and nail for a better Castile. Her father had died when she was very young and her older half brother was named King Immediately. Her mother, brother and her instantly fled the court because it seemed to me like her mother and older half brother had some serious friction there. They lived a quiet life for years before her half brother the King called her and her little brother back to court. Court in Castile was a viper pit and both children were very weary of what their court life would entail. Isabella was keen to pick up from the get go that the court was having some serious issues. It was said that the King’s new child was not of his making because the Queen had a handsome lover at court that was possibly the real father of the little girl. The Queen did not like Isabella and she made it very clear that this was no secret in court. It was Isabella’s first court dinner that she was introduced to her handsome cousin Ferdinand of Aragon, Prince of Aragon. Her introduction to court was just the beginning of a long-standing fight for the ultimate power of ruling Castile.

It is no secret that Isabella was a strong willed individual even from the beginning. Her daughters would obviously inherit this trait from her and she did not earn the title of defender of the faith from the Pope for doing nothing. She was determined to marry her cousin Ferdinand and if her brother had his way it would never ever happen. He tried to forbid it yet he did nothing to really stop them. It really was a halfhearted effort on her brothers part. After many years of fighting with her kingly brother he passed away but before he did he had named his daughter with the queen illegitimate, and since Isabella's younger brother had passed some years before it left only Isabella as Castile’s true heir. Isabella became the sole ruler of Castile and she made her husband Ferdinand her King Consort. Immediately the pair began to make changes to everything and demanded fealty from all of Castile’s nobles. Together they revolutionized Spain and made it what it is today. They fought to take back what was rightfully theirs and they would never back down even if that meant war with the Moors. They had their sights set on taking back the city of Granada and nothing would stop them not even the dreaded Spanish Inquisition.

5+/5 Gortner always amazes me. I love his style of prose. I still am really kicking myself for putting this one down for so long but I am glad I picked it back up because I really would have missed out on a great read. One thing about this novel that I did not expect was that Gortner had hinted that Isabella’s daughter Juana had another side to her that leads up to the events that take place in “The Last Queen”. I found it a really nice add in to the novel. I would highly recommend this novel because Gortner makes you live, and breath Isabella’s life, which is a true gift in an author.

FTC-This novel was sent to me by the author.
PG-13 rating for implied sexual reference


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Book Review: ROYAL INHERITANCE by Kate Emerson

Kate Emerson is a long-standing favorite author of mine. She really knows her Tudor’s. Her extensive background really shows through in each and every one of her novels. What I love about Kate is her novels are easy to read, fast paced, and she really has a gift for leading you through the Tudor courts secrets. I literally inhaled “Royal Inheritance” and it brought back a reminder of why I love reading so much. It is always a pleasure to live and breathe Kate Emerson’s Tudors.

Audrey Malte, was the daughter of a Windsor castle laundress and the royal tailor John Malte. Her life was not easy to begin with and she was sorely abused until she ran off in the palace one day only to be found by King Henry VII. Audrey had never known her father and it was then that King Henry took Audrey to him. From that day on her happy childhood had begun. She was lucky from that day on. She had a loving father and family well except her nasty half sister Bridget who would be a constant pain in the rear. Bridget though out the years became even nastier to Audrey and their relationship took a really nasty turn when King Henry commanded that his tailor bring Audrey along to court with him. No one in the family had any reason or logic behind why all of the sudden the King of all people favored Audrey. On her first visit to the palace Henry had given her one of his beloved dogs. A sweet little pocket beagle she named “pocket”. Pocket was not the only favor he had given her. He made sure she had music lessons from a hunky courtier named John Harington, dance lessons, and even a female companion to escort her on her trips to court. Audrey had it all but as she grew up into womanhood the only thing she lacked in her life was love and a husband.

As a young girl Audrey had fallen madly in love with her music teacher but King Henry had other plans for her future and they defiantly did not include John the music teacher. She was given an order to marry another man she did not even like let alone love. As fate would have it though Audrey held her ground and Henry quickly went downhill. Sadly King Henry and her father John Malte passed away very close together. When both king and tailor had passed Audrey’s nasty sister Bridget was named the executor of her fathers will. Bridget had always been jealous of her sister but now it had reached its highest point. Her fathers will had left Audrey a very well endowed because King Henry had also named her along with her father to inherite in his passing also. There was no way Bridget would easily let Audrey claim her rightful inheritance. Audrey had to think fast or else Bridget was going to steal her future away from her. She could only think of one safe place she could go and that was to the now widowed Queen Catherine Parr. She was safe there but what did the future have in store for her she wondered. With no husband or father to defend her how could she rightfully take what was hers?

5/5 Kate did it again! She might as well be called the Tudor goddess. I loved every page of "Royal Inheritance" because it was so exciting. The best part of Kate’s style is that you never ever have any idea how her novels will end and you never know what secret of the Tudor court it will expose. Kate makes for excellent reading. I highly recommend all of Kate’s novels because they are so much fun to read. They seem to surprise me every time.

FTC-this book was sent to me by the publisher for review.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Mailbox Monday

The Harem Midwife, Roberta Rich
Publication date 2-25-14

"An opulent, riveting, and suspenseful continuation of the thrilling historical novel The Midwife of Veniceset in medieval Constantinople.
The Imperial Harem, Constantinople, 1579.

Hannah and Isaac Levi, Venetians in exile, have begun a new life in Constantinople. Isaac runs a newly established business in the growing silk trade, while Hannah, the best midwife in the city, plies her trade within the opulent palace of Sultan Murat III, tending to the thousand women in his lively and infamous harem.

But one night, when Hannah is unexpectedly summoned to the palace, she’s confronted with Zofia, a poor Jewish peasant girl who has been abducted and sold into the sultan’s harem. The sultan favors her as his next conquest and wants her to produce his heir, but the girl just wants to return home to the only life she has ever known. Will Hannah risk her life and livelihood to protect this young girl, or will she prioritize her high esteem in the eye of the sultan?

Filled with adventure, lavish detail, and peopled with unforgettable characters, The Harem Midwifeshowcases Roberta Rich as a beloved and talented writer".~Lizzie~

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Late Mailbox Monday

The Lost Queen by Nora Lofts
"'Princesses are born to be exiled. What is the alternative? Spinsterhood?' Thus the future of Caroline Matilda, youngest sister of George III, was settled - exile to a foreign country, and marriage to a nearly insane Crown Prince of Denmark. Entreatingly prompted by a sense of foreboding, she begged that one of her sisters be sent in her place. But Caroline was the healthiest, the strongest of the English princesses, and as well as being exiled, princesses were meant to be brood mares...Here is the life of Caroline Matilda set against the stark contrasts of 18th century Denmark; the cruelty, poverty and oppression of life under an absolute monarch sinking into madness; and the hatreds and court intrigues that swirled around the young English girl who was the Queen of Denmark".
The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas
"A rich, compelling historical novel-and a mystery of royal intrigue. In a city-state known for magnificence, where love affairs and conspiracies play out amidst brilliant painters, poets and musicians, the powerful and ambitious Alfonso d'Este, duke of Ferrara, takes a new bride. Half of Europe is certain he murdered his first wife, Lucrezia, the luminous child of the Medici. But no one dares accuse him, and no one has proof-least of all his second duchess, the far less beautiful but delightfully clever Barbara of Austria.

At first determined to ignore the rumors about her new husband, Barbara embraces the pleasures of the Ferrarese court. Yet wherever she turns she hears whispers of the first duchess's wayward life and mysterious death. Barbara asks questions-a dangerous mistake for a duchess of Ferrara. Suddenly, to save her own life, Barbara has no choice but to risk the duke's terrifying displeasure and discover the truth of Lucrezia's death-or she will share her fate".
The Scarlet Contessa by Jeanne Kalogridis
"What Philippa Gregory has done for Tudor England, Jeanne Kalogridis does for Renaissance Italy. Her latest irresistible historical novel is about a countess whose passion and willfulness knew no bounds—Caterina Sforza.

Daughter of the Duke of Milan and wife of the conniving Count Girolamo Riario, Caterina Sforza was the bravest warrior Renaissance Italy ever knew. She ruled her own lands, fought her own battles, and openly took lovers whenever she pleased.

Her remarkable tale is told by her lady-in-waiting, Dea, a woman knowledgeable in reading the “triumph cards,” the predecessor of modern-day tarot cards. As Dea tries to unravel the truth about her husband’s murder, Caterina single-handedly holds off invaders who would steal her title and lands. However, Dea’s reading of the cards reveals that Caterina cannot withstand a third and final invader—none other than Cesare Borgia, son of the corrupt Pope Alexander VI, who has an old score to settle with Caterina. Trapped inside the fortress at Ravaldino as Borgia’s cannons pound the walls, Dea reviews Caterina’s scandalous past and struggles to understand their joint destiny, while Caterina valiantly tries to fight off Borgia’s unconquerable army".
The White Princess by Philippa Gregory
"Philippa Gregory, #1 New York Times best­selling author and “the queen of royal fiction” (USA Today), presents the latest Cousins’ War novel, the remarkable story of Elizabeth of York, daughter of the White Queen.
When Henry Tudor picks up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth field, he knows he must marry the princess of the enemy house—Elizabeth of York—to unify a country divided by war for nearly two decades.

But his bride is still in love with his slain enemy, Richard III—and her mother and half of England dream of a missing heir, sent into the unknown by the White Queen. While the new monarchy can win power, it cannot win hearts in an England that plots for the triumphant return of the House of York.

Henry’s greatest fear is that somewhere a prince is waiting to invade and reclaim the throne. When a young man who would be king leads his army and invades England, Elizabeth has to choose between the new husband she is coming to love and the boy who claims to be her beloved lost brother: the rose of York come home at last".
The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
"In 1942 Paris, gifted architect Lucien Bernard accepts a commission that will bring him a great deal of money – and maybe get him killed. But if he's clever enough, he'll avoid any trouble. All he has to do is design a secret hiding place for a wealthy Jewish man, a space so invisible that even the most determined German officer won't find it. He sorely needs the money, and outwitting the Nazis who have occupied his beloved city is a challenge he can't resist.

But when one of his hiding spaces fails horribly, and the problem of where to hide a Jew becomes terribly personal, Lucien can no longer ignore what's at stake. The Paris Architect asks us to consider what we owe each other, and just how far we'll go to make things right.

Written by an architect whose knowledge imbues every page, this story becomes more gripping with every soul hidden and every life saved".~Lizzie~
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