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~
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