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Mystery, drama, oh my!

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Historical fiction and Biblical fiction, reviewing since 2008

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Dec 31, 2009

Historical New Releases 12/31/2009 - 1/5/2010

Happy New Year to all my blogger buddies!!

I am looking forward to 2010 with the fabulous new historical fiction titles that are coming out. I would love to be able to JUST read for a living! Available for your reading pleasure are some fabulous new releases during this week in the historical genre.

Leslie Carroll has a follow up to Royal Affairs with her newest non-fiction work titled Notorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire. Visit some of my other bloggers sites this coming week to see what special events they have going on in honor of this highly anticipated new release. A kickoff special is also going to be happening at the brand new site of the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table, and I will also have a chat with the author on January 7, so please check in here next week!
VISIT THE ROUND TABLE SITE FOR MORE EVENTS!



A funny, raucous, and delightfully dirty 900-year history of the royal marriages of Europe's most famous-and infamous-monarchs.

Since time immemorial, royal marriages have had little to do with love- and almost everything to do with diplomacy and dynasty. Clashing personalities have joined in unholy matrimony to form such infamous couples as Russia's Peter II and Catherine the Great, and France's Henri II and Catherine de Medici-all with the purpose of begetting a male heir. But with tensions high and silverware flying, kings like England's Henry II have fled to the beds of their nubile mistresses, while queens such as Eleanor of Aquitaine have plotted their revenge...

Full of the juicy gossip and bad behavior that characterized Royal Affairs, this book chronicles the love-hate marriages of the crowned heads of Europe-from the Angevins to Charles and Di-and ponders how dynasties ever survived at all.

In historical fiction, we also have Kate Emerson's follow-up in the Secrets of The Tudor Court Series: Between Two Queens. I really enjoyed this novel very much, and I think those readers who feel that they have read too many Tudor era novels really ought to give this one a try. This was written in a refreshing style leaning towards historical accuracy, and you can find my review here.

Other newly released historical books to look for:
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (Now available in Paperback - Jan 1, 2010)

"Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave."

These ominous words are the last threat that Sir Edward Grey receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, he collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.

Prepared to accept that Edward's death was due to a long-standing physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that her husband was murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers damning evidence for herself, and realizes the truth.
Determined to bring the murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.


The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent (Paperback - Dec 29, 2009)


On the brink of revolution, with a tide of hate turned against the decadent royal court, France is in turmoil - as is the life of one young woman forced to leave her beloved Paris. After a fire destroys her home and family, Claudette Laurent is struggling to survive in London. But one precious gift remains: her talent for creating exquisite dolls that Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France herself, cherishes. When the Queen requests a meeting, Claudette seizes the opportunity to promote her business, and to return home...Amid the violence and unrest, Claudette befriends the Queen, who bears no resemblance to the figurehead rapidly becoming the scapegoat of the Revolution. But when Claudette herself is lured into a web of deadly political intrigue, it becomes clear that friendship with France's most despised woman has grim consequences. Now, overshadowed by the spectre of Madame Guillotine, the Queen's dollmaker will face the ultimate test.

Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer (A reissue from Sourcebooks - Jan 1, 2010)


"A swashbuckling tale set in the second half of the 16th century, when Elizabeth was on the throne and the Spanish Armada ruled the waves. Sir Nicholas Beauvallet, pirate and nobleman, captures a Spanish galleon and discovers a lovely lady on board. Chivalrous to the core, he woos and wins her heart, then returns her and her father to their homeland, vowing to come after her—even though there's a price on his head and discovery of his identity will mean certain death. In the midst of much adventure, Beauvallet masquerades as a Frenchman, is betrayed, and must fight his way to freedom while stealing the lady willingly away…

In her signature style, Heyer has mastered the vernacular of the time, bringing to life an era of daring heroism and harrowing adventure, all intertwined with a breathtaking love story."

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the Last Man in the World by Abigail Rynolds (paperback - 01/1/2010)

"In this sexy Jane Austen sequel, Elizabeth Bennet accepts Mr. Darcy's first marriage proposal, answering the "What if...?" question fans everywhere have pondered
"I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry."
Famous last words indeed! Elizabeth Bennet's furious response to Mr. Darcy's marriage proposal has resonated for generations of readers. But what if she had never said it? Would she have learned to recognize Mr. Darcy's admirable qualities on her own? Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy follows Elizabeth and Darcy as they struggle to find their way through the maze of their prejudices after Elizabeth, against her better judgment, agrees to marry Darcy instead of refusing his proposal.
Two of the most beloved characters in English literature explore the meaning of true love in a tumultuous and passionate attempt to make a success of their marriage."


My review of this one by Reynolds is posting 1/4/2010, so stay tuned for that!

My Dearest Mr. Darcy: An amazing journey into love everlasting by Sharon Lathan (Paperback - Jan 1, 2010)

Married life is bringing out the best in the Darcys. Their mutual attentiveness brings readers into a magical world of love and wedded bliss.
Elizabeth is growing into her role as Mistress of Pemberley, and Darcy has mellowed under her gentle teasing and light-heartedness. Pemberley becomes a true home and a welcoming environment for loving family and friends. The Darcys travel to the seaside, welcome their firstborn, celebrate their anniversary and second Christmas, and at every moment embrace the love gifted to them.
"I love you, my Elizabeth. You are my soul, my blood and bone, my very life."

My Name was Five by Heinz Kohler (Paperback - Jan 1, 2010)


When a private plane crashes in Florida in 1991, the surviving pilot makes the strangest of remarks. "It was World War II," he says. The National Transportation Safety Board attributes the accident to a collision with birds, but one stubborn investigator insists on going further. Before long, his inquiry reveals how the pilot's past had trailed him on his last flight and vividly brings to life a terrifying slice of history - the story of a German boy who grows up in Berlin before, during, and after the Second World War; sadistic teachers just call him Five. The boy's father, an opponent of the Nazis, ends up in a concentration camp and later in a penal regiment that marches through mine fields to clear the way for regular troops. In contrast, one of the boy's uncles is a fervent Nazi in charge of cleansing Hitler's capital of every last Jew; another uncle revels in the governance of Paris.

A favorite aunt, a confidential secretary at the Gestapo, is horrified by all she knows about the "final solution." The boy's mother is the one who keeps him sane when Spitfire guns kill his best friend standing right next to him on a bridge. But worse is to come: bombings and firestorms, the senseless sacrifice of children and old men in the battle of Berlin, the Soviet occupation, along with rape, murder, hunger, and disease, and then the emergence of a new kind of tyranny yet. In the end, we come upon an unexpected twist that shows how the consequences of war can emerge decades later and in faraway places.

The Kingdom of Ohio by Matthew Flaming (Hardcover - December 31, 2009)

"An incredibly original, intelligent novel-a love story set against New York City at the dawn of the mechanical age, featuring Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, and J. P. Morgan.

After discovering an old photograph, an elderly antiques dealer living in present-day Los Angeles is forced to revisit the history he has struggled to deny. The photograph depicts a man and a woman. The man is Peter Force, a young frontier adventurer who comes to New York City in 1901 and quickly lands a job digging the first subway tunnels beneath the metropolis. The woman is Cheri-Anne Toledo, a beautiful mathematical prodigy whose memories appear to come from another world. They meet seemingly by chance, and initially Peter dismisses her as crazy. But as they are drawn into a tangle of overlapping intrigues, Peter must reexamine Cheri-Anne's fantastic story. Could it be that she is telling the truth and that she has stumbled onto the most dangerous secret imaginable: the key to traveling through time?

Set against the mazelike streets of New York at the dawn of the mechanical age, Peter and Cheri-Anne find themselves wrestling with the nature of history, technology, and the unfolding of time itself."
My review of this one will post around 1/11/2010. Quite intriguing it is, a fabulous debut for this author and it was like a breath of fresh air to read something not set in England!

And Allie at Hist-Fic Chick has another list of titles that encompasses the month, so head on over to that post to check out some more fabulous finds! 2010, here we come!!!Bookmark and Share

Booking Through Thursday: 2009 Looking Back



It’s the last day of the year, and you know what that means … nostalgia and looking back.

What were your favorite books of the year? (Books that were new to you in 2009, if not necessarily published this year.)



I did post my favorite 2009 books, my Top Ten 2009-published books can be found here.
They were all new to me of course, and many new authors.
The three authors that I am really pleased to have 'discovered' are Anna Elliott, Michelle Moran and C.W. Gortner. I am confident that any new books that they write I will enjoy. As far as a new author to me who is not a new author, Georgette Heyer is now one of my favorite authors.

Happy New Year!
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Dec 30, 2009

HELP ME BLOW OUT THE CANDLE, FOLKS!! YOU GUYS ROCK!


It's my One year Blog(o)(i)versary!!! The powers that be will have to get that word into the dictionary soon so I can figure out how to spell it.



You can stop laughing any time.

Lots of amazing friends I've found, and SOO MANY AMAZING BOOKS I've found.. thanks to the wonderfulness of my follow rocking book bloggers.. so my bookshelves are now crammed and multipying at a pace I *almost* can't keep up with (bats eyelashes at hubby requesting another bookcase!)..


I wanted to say thank you to my followers, and my fabulous commenters, and the wonderful group of ladies that I've bonded with. Thank you for your support, your inspiration with your own blogs, and I look forward to 2010 with hopes for more fantastic reading!

Did that sound like an awards ceremony speech? (*bows*)
And isn't it WILD that one of my bestest biggest Fan, Ms. Lucy's Blog/i/o/versary was yesterday?! That is so wild about great minds and all that :) and JennyGirl's was this month's also! SO cool to be in good company! And check out this fantastic tag that Clare made me, from The Literary Omnivore:
From Clare!
Thank you so much to The Literary Omnivore, you are one of those gals that ROCK!

GIVEAWAY ALERT!!! SOURCEBOOKS HISTORICAL ROMANCES ALERT!!

I have an ARC of Kathryne Kennedy's My Unfair Lady (see my review) to giveaway, along with my ARC of Treasures of Venice by Loucinda McGary (see my review) to give away to ONE of my lucky CURRENT FOLLOWERS IN THE USA =) I will also throw in some bookmarks.


So, if you are one of those 300/301/302 (Google gadget fluctuates from page to page) who have already supported me this year and would like these gently used ARC's, then just comment here letting me know that you do, and leave your email address also so I can contact the winner.

I'll end this one sometime around January 15, 2010.

SMOOCHES to all my Followers and Bloggy Buddies!!!!!

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Dec 28, 2009

Book Review: The Boleyn Wife by Brandy Purdy


The Boleyn Wife by Brandy Purdy
Publisher: Kensington (January 26, 2010)
Historical Fiction
ISBN-13: 978-0758238443
Review Copy provided by the author
The Burton Review Rating:

Description:

Shy, plain Lady Jane Parker feels out of place in Henry VIII's courtly world of glamour and intrigue--until she meets the handsome George Boleyn. Overjoyed when their fathers arrange a match, her dreams of a loving union are waylaid when she meets George's sister, Anne. For George is completely devoted to his sister, and cold and indifferent to his bride. As Anne acquires a wide circle of admirers, including King Henry, Jane's resentment grows. But if becoming Henry's queen makes Anne the most powerful woman in England, it also makes her highly vulnerable. And as Henry, desperate for a male heir, begins to tire of his mercurial wife, the stage is set for the ultimate betrayal...

Encompassing the reigns of five of Henry's queens, THE BOLEYN WIFE is an unforgettable story of ambition, lust, and jealousy, of the power of love to change the course of history, and of the terrible price of revenge.

Tudor fans have long been intrigued by the wife of George Boleyn, Jane Parker, as she was a crucial witness for Thomas Cromwell in condemning George, his sister Queen Anne, and four other men for treason against King Henry VIII. This is the fictional story of Lady Jane Parker, as she first meets George, and begs her father to procure him as a husband for her, and her story lasts until she is also sent to the scaffold, years after her husband.

In this retelling of the Tudor legacy of wives, Brandy Purdy takes the drama and the rumors a step further by adding spice and sexual encounters. Where Philippa Gregory has told a fictional account of the fall of Anne Boleyn and her extended family in The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance, Purdy dresses it up with all of the falsehoods that were bandied about, and stretches it beyond my wildest imaginations.

Much to Jane's delight, George and Jane are married as she so fervently wished, but seemingly George's amorous intentions are elsewhere. Ultimately, Jane takes this jealous realization to Thomas Cromwell and secures a reason for King Henry to rid himself of his tiresome wife, Queen Anne. Jane was bent on vengeance, as stated several times in this novel told in a first-person account through Jane, as she was always the one in the background being taunted and ridiculed when all she wanted was to be loved by her husband. She wanted Queen Anne to die, and didn't care the men she also implicated were to die, but she somehow did not believe her husband would also be sent to the block. She merely wanted Anne out of the picture so that she could have George all to herself.

Immediately we are thrust into the typical Boleyn-hating rumors regarding Anne, such as her sixth finger, the 'wen' (witch's mark) on her neck; Anne giving birth to a two-faced monster; Anne's sister Mary's children being Henry's spawn; George being a homo-sexual..and Purdy adds a few more to the pot by having Jane give birth to Cromwell's baby..

And once the Boleyns are out of the picture, Jane is back at court tending to Anna of Cleves and then Katherine Howard. Purdy added for dramatic effect the notion that Jane had met this Katherine when Katherine was an adorable five year old, and thus had developed a mothering nature towards Katherine once she was at court. Katherine is oblivious to this one sweet nature of Jane's, as she blindly cavorts with Thomas Culpepper while she was married to King Henry and thereby seals her doom, along with Jane's, due to her lust.

Purdy ventures not too deeply into the accused incestuous nature of George and Anne's relationship, but this is the only freedom that she does not seem to take. She shows the courtiers of Brereton, Weston, Norris, and musician Smeaton as always doting on Anne and seemingly always at court; Smeaton kissing Anne's hem of her skirt, with all the other gentlemen fawning over Anne at every waking moment, even when she was out of favor with King Henry. The scaffold scenes are all factually wrong, though poignant. The supporting characters of the Tudor court are not dealt with, there were as few names as possible dropped. There is no mention of Jane's own family once she marries George. I would have loved to know how the Parkers felt about George being executed and their daughter being the cause of it. There are many facts that were disregarded for the sake of a good story, and too much sex was included. For instance, we are also privy to Anna of Cleves and Katherine Howard getting it on. And much wasted seed was spilling down legs at various times.

Much like Gregory's writing style, Purdy's own is fast and quick paced, making this a fast read. I hesitate to say 'easy' read.. those readers who like their Tudor novels without excessive copulation will be sorely disappointed; as well as those will be disappointed if you prefer the Tudor era novels to stick closer to the actual facts of the times. Purdy takes as many liberties as possible with this telling of the wives of Henry Tudor, in an attempt to offer an exciting alternative to the standard Tudor fiction. If you have little knowledge of the Tudor era, this read may be less grating on your sensibilities as opposed to the latter. But, if you want the "Oh my GOD!" factor this time around, this one would certainly satiate that need. Especially for the fact that sneaky Jane was absolutely everywhere whenever anything was going on at all. I had to roll my eyes back into my head a few times every time she stealthily left the room so she could go hide in a cupboard and watch what was about to occur.

The Boleyn Wife is available February 2010, as a reissue of Purdy's self-published Vengeance is Mine.

Mailbox Monday~ From Santa!



Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. And I am adding what I purchased, swapped, etc.

This is a sample of what I received for Christmas, I mentioned some other titles before so these are the ones I have not mentioned. The second one is on sale at Amazon for $2.05, so you need to get that one before they run out!

The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: Mary, Katherine, and Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Tragedy by Leanda de Lisle

Pub. 10/13/2009
Mary, Katherine, and Jane Grey–sisters whose mere existence nearly toppled a kingdom and altered a nation’s destiny–are the captivating subjects of Leanda de Lisle’s new book. The Sisters Who Would Be Queen breathes fresh life into these three young women, who were victimized in the notoriously vicious Tudor power struggle and whose heirs would otherwise probably be ruling England today.

Born into aristocracy, the Grey sisters were the great-granddaughters of Henry VII, grandnieces to Henry VIII, legitimate successors to the English throne, and rivals to Henry VIII’s daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. Lady Jane, the eldest, was thrust center stage by greedy men and uncompromising religious politics when she briefly succeeded Henry’s son, the young Edward I. Dubbed “the Nine Days Queen” after her short, tragic reign from the Tower of London, Jane has over the centuries earned a special place in the affections of the English people as a “queen with a public heart.” But as de Lisle reveals, Jane was actually more rebel than victim, more leader than pawn, and Mary and Katherine Grey found that they would have to tread carefully in order to avoid sharing their elder sister’s violent fate.Navigating the politics of the Tudor court after Jane’s death was a precarious challenge. Katherine Grey, who sought to live a stable life, earned the trust of Mary I, only to risk her future with a love marriage that threatened Queen Elizabeth’s throne. Mary Grey, considered too petite and plain to be significant, looked for her own escape from the burden of her royal blood–an impossible task after she followed her heart and also incurred the queen’s envy, fear, and wrath.

Exploding the many myths of Lady Jane Grey’s life, unearthing the details of Katherine’s and Mary’s dramatic stories, and casting new light on Elizabeth’s reign, Leanda de Lisle gives voice and resonance to the lives of the Greys and offers perspective on their place in history and on a time when a royal marriage could gain a woman a kingdom or cost her everything.

Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell (author of upcoming Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet April 6, 2010)


Amadeus meets Little Women in this irresistibly delightful historical novel by award- winning author Stephanie Cowell. The year is 1777 and the four Weber sisters, daughters of a musical family, share a crowded, artistic life in a ramshackle house. While their father scrapes by as a music copyist and their mother secretly draws up a list of prospective suitors in the kitchen, the sisters struggle with their futures, both marital and musical—until twenty-one-year-old Wolfgang Mozart walks into their lives.

Bringing eighteenth-century Europe to life with unforgiving winters, yawning princes, scheming parents, and the enduring passions of young talent, Stephanie Cowell’s richly textured tale captures a remarkable historical figure—and the four young women who engage his passion, his music, and his heart.
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Dec 27, 2009

2009: Top Ten Books Reviewed at Burton Book Review



I read about 64 books in 2009. They included genres of historical fiction, general fiction, regency styles, and non-fiction. This was my first year of reviewing books for authors and publishers, and it has opened up my reading world to many new authors that I otherwise may not have read. It has been the inspiration of other bloggers' reviews and recommendations that have increased my collection of books, which has grown from roughly 100 books to probably 500 books over the last year. I joined Paperbackswap, bookmooch and swaptree, which helps decrease my costs. I won a contest at Alibris where I won $100 worth of books, and I also won 25 books from Paperbackswap. I also won several giveaways, sponsored by bloggers, publishers and authors.

My complete review list can be found here which will show what I rated the book at the time as well. The specific titles mentioned below will be linked to the review I wrote. Sometimes even a 5 star rating or 4 star rating doesn't differentiate how the book resonated with me months later; so not all 5 star reviews made it to my favorite of-all-time type of a status.

So, now that 2009 is over, which 2009 published book did I enjoy the absolute MOST? Everyone knows you can't pick just one...


From Georgette Heyer, I really enjoyed Arabella (reissue 2009, 5 stars). A classy, witty, regency-style read that was comic in nature. Georgette Heyer is a new-to-me author for 2009, and I am working on collecting the rest of her romances and mysteries.


DelilahBiblical fiction is another new-to-me genre, and I really enjoyed Delilah by India Edghill (2009, 4 stars). It was a suspenseful read that had me hooked on its love triangle angle.


My favorite fictional book on Royalty was probably The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner (2009, 5 stars); it was an inspiring read that was done on a subject who seems to have been largely misunderstood, and forgotten over the years. The author did a fabulous job of pulling me into Queen Juana's world.




Burnt Shadows As a sort of thinker-type book, I really enjoyed Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie (2009, 4.5 stars) which was about the effects of war on a group of family members. Another surprising read for me was The Housekeeper and The Professor by Yoko Ogawa (2009, 5 stars) which was an endearing story of little boy, his mom and the man she worked for.


I was also inspired by Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant (2009, 4.5 stars) moreso than others were; it was a thought provoking read that also had me intrigued with the setting of a convent in Italy. The author's writing style really engaged me throughout this read.

Another enjoyable read was The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan (2009, 4.5 stars), which was a fabulous debut for the author and an inspiring story of one family's relationship with the economy and the Niagara Falls.

In another historical genre, The Twilight of Avalon by Anna Elliott (2009, 4.75 stars) which is set in the aftermath of King Arthur's court with the love story of Tristan and Isolde. This is a trilogy, and Dark Moon of Avalon will be released in the spring of 2010.

Finally, in the fictional group, is Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran (2009, 4.5 stars ) which was a very moving and touching story of Queen Cleopatra's remaining surviving children after Cleopatra's death. I cried during this one, and wish for a sequel.

I read ten non-fiction books this year, from the Tudor genre to inspirational books. My favorite non-fiction was Elizabeth's Women: The Hidden Story of The Virgin Queen by Tracy Borman (2009, 4 stars) which easily helped me to understand Elizabeth I with such a greater understanding that I really don't think any other book could accomplish. This is one that I hope to read again soon.

For 2010, there are many promising-looking releases that have been scheduled, and I think it is going to be another great year for readers, especially in the historical fiction genre.
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EDITED to add: Lorielle at Just Bookin' Around is doing a Top Five Meme, so if you want to join in the fun, click the pic:


Enter Your Top Five Reads of 2009

Dec 24, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: HISTORY!!!!!


Given the choice, which do you prefer? Real history? Or historical fiction? (Assume, for the purposes of this discussion that they are equally well-written and engaging.)


OH MY!! My favorite topic. History is my favorite genre to read about, both fiction and non-fiction alike!! I have read much more historical fiction over non-fiction, but it is simply because that is what has been available to me to review this year.

I have read and reviewed some wonderful non-fiction this year, such as Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman who Helped Hide the Frank Family by Miep Gies, Elizabeth's Women by Tracy Borman and The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir. And given the choice.. at this point I would really like to read a lot more NON-FICTION! I love the Tudor and Stuart eras in England, and I would really like to branch out this year to include more of Europe and ultimately the United States.
I have some biographies on my shelf such as Harry S. Truman and Mary Todd Lincoln that I would like to read, and I would like to read more on Louisa May Alcott.

I have read a lot of historical fiction this year (see all my reviews listed here) and in 2010 there are some more promising historical fiction works being published. So, I predict I will still be reading a lot more historical fiction rather than non-fiction in 2010 because of the abundance of new releases.


Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it!!!

Dec 22, 2009

Teaser Tuesday~ Between Two Queens by Kate Emerson

TEASER TUESDAYS is hosted by ShouldBeReading and asks you to:
♠Grab your current read.
♠Let the book fall open to a random page.
♠Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page.
♠You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!






"It was a pity that her opportunity had been lost, but she was no worse off than she had been and she'd been spared the onerous task of pretending, night after night, perhaps for years, that the king was a wonderful lover. Perhaps she'd had a lucky escape."~p. 190


Dec 21, 2009

Book Review: The Secrets of The Tudor Court: Between Two Queens by Kate Emerson





Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Pocket (January 5, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-1416583271
Review copy provided by the author
The Burton Review Rating:Four Stars

Product Description:
THE SECRETS OF THE TUDOR COURT SERIES IS "RICH AND LUSHLY DETAILED, TEEMING WITH PASSION AND INTRIGUE," SAID ROMANTIC TIMES. NOW TALENTED KATE EMERSON CONTINUES A SAGA AS DRAMATIC AND SEDUCTIVE AS THE COURT ITSELF.

Pretty, flirtatious, and ambitious. Nan Bassett hopes that an appointment at the court of King Henry VIII will bring her a grand marriage. But soon after she becomes a maid of honor to Queen Jane, the queen dies in childbirth. As the court plunges into mourning, Nan sets her sights on the greatest match in the land...for the king has noticed her. After all, it wouldn't be the first time King Henry has chosen to wed a maid of honor. And in newly Protestant England, where plots to restore the old religion abound, Nan may be the only one who can reassure a suspicious king of her family's loyalty. But the favor of a king can be dangerous and chancy, not just for Nan, but for her family as well...and passionate Nan is guarding a secret, one that could put her future -- and her life -- in grave jeopardy should anyone discover the truth.

Based on the life of the real Anne Bassett and her family, and drawing extensively from letters and diaries of the time, Between Two Queens is an enthralling picture of the dangers and delights of England's most passionate era.

In Kate Emerson's second installment in the Secrets of The Tudor Court series, Emerson brings to life the character she imagines as Nan Bassett. Called 'Nan' by her friends, there is not a lot known about Anne Bassett, this mistress of Henry VIII, except that he had courted her briefly. How far that went is unknown, but Henry seemed to be fond of her. The author takes this a bit further, and has Nan in the midst of Tudor court intrigues, as a maid of honor to Jane Seymour, albeit quite briefly due to Queen Jane's death; and then as a maid of honor to Anne of Cleves, and eventually to Queen Mary Tudor.

But we are treated to more than just the coquettish ways of the courtiers: the author cleverly inserts facts of the times such as habits and foods, and the politics of the factions within the court as well. The writing style is adept at inserting these facts without turning it into a history lesson, and those readers who would truly like to learn more about the customs and traditions of Tudor England will appreciate the references the author relays. Along with the many details offered, there is a wide cast of characters within the novel, from Nan's large family to the courtiers and the movers and shakers of the time. The author supplies a genealogical chart, and an informative Who's Who section as well.

Since Nan spent time in Calais, then still an English possession, we are also privy to the unrest in Calais. Nan's stepfather, to whom the author portrays as being close to Nan, was Lord Lisle, Deputy of Calais, otherwise known as Arthur Plantagenet. He was the illegitimate son of Edward IV, and Henry VIII's uncle. Lord Lisle becomes implicated in a treasonous plot, along with some of the family members, while Nan needs to find ways to help her family without implicating herself in the process. Thomas Cromwell figures heavily here as well, as Cromwell dislikes Lord Lisle and believes he is incompetent in Calais. When Lord Lisle was arrested in 1540, the letters that were seized during this arrest were preserved, which in turn did historians a great service.

Nan's mother is also featured, who was Honor Grenville, and in her second marriage to Lord Lisle had found herself in a higher standing than she had enjoyed with her previous husband; whom she had her children by. Emerson doesn't go into great detail regarding the personal lives of the many siblings of Nan; they are seen more in the background and perhaps as a bit less than supporting characters. Their mentions are more along the lines of who and when they are going to marry.

Nan would like to have an advantageous marriage herself, and this is the characteristic that we are heavily introduced to in the beginning of Emerson's novel, which did not endear me to her right away. But, as the novel progressed, Nan's better side began to show through as if she had matured as we read on, and she was more careful than I expected her to be. Such as when the author takes liberties and invents an affair with one of her father's men, Ned Corbett, and they have a child together. It was an intriguing storyline that could have ended badly as far as plot and predictability, but the storyline was played out well which was surprising. The author inserted this fictitious affair into the story, but it created an interesting plot and served the story well.

The novel weaves its way through the everyday court life, with comings and goings as we learn more about how life was during the period. There are not a lot of dramatics, but as a reader I came to also hope for Nan's ultimate goal of securing a stable future for herself. She wisely conducted herself when she was with the king and did not flaunt whatever relationship she and others perceived her to have with him. When Catherine Howard comes into the picture, Nan doesn't fight for a place as Henry's mistress, as we would expect her to do, and I found this refreshing. It seems that Nan did ultimately but briefly achieve a sense of happiness, but her life also could be seen as one that was full of hardship and sacrifice.

I was intrigued by the way that Emerson portrayed Catherine Howard, which was more as shrewd young woman rather than the naive twit that we are used to. I enjoyed the name dropping the author deftly employed as I enjoy trying to place who was where, when and why; although those newer to the time period may find the multitude of names confusing and unwarranted. Emerson seems to take great care to provide her readers with a full sense of the Tudor times, with all of the main characters present.

The use of the title Between Two Queens made me think... as the book was not necessarily about two queens. But the fact that Nan was 'stuck' between two queens could be cause for discussion. Nan's only source of income and status was as a maid of honor, and she was briefly one for Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Mary Tudor. Much of the focus is within the time period that Henry was looking for a wife, and Henry was without one when Jane had died after childbirth. There was a time when Christina of Milan was purpoted to be the Queen, but she would not have him. Anne of Cleves was next, and luckily survived the marital state. Catherine Howard, a fellow maid of honor with Nan, was selected as the next Queen. One wonders if Nan had a shrewd uncle, like Catherine had in the Duke of Norfolk, if Nan could have been advanced further. But Nan's family had clung to the 'old ways' and the Catholic religion, although they tried to stay low during the Reformation and Henry's reign. They did not succeed fully in that endeavor, as Nan's mother and stepfather were implicated and held in the Botolph plot, thus further tainting Nan's own reputation.

The author Kate Emerson mentions that she relied heavily on the six volume edition of The Lisle Letters compiled by Muriel St. Clare Byrne, which comprises of multiple family members' letters and correspondence primarily between the years of 1533 -1540. Emerson astutely derives facts from these letters and reconstructs Nan Bassett's life surrounding the facts within these letters. As a work of fiction, readers need to be aware that most of what is in this story regarding Nan is what the author imagines "could be true", but I still enjoyed this story on a Mistress Anne Bassett, for whom will always be within a shroud of mystery, as with many historic figures of Tudor times are. Those who wish for drama akin to Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl may be disappointed, however. As a Tudor junkie myself, I enjoyed the education within the story and the writing style of Kate Emerson made this a pleasurable read for me. Instead of focusing on the life of royalty or kings and queens, this is an endearing work of fiction about a female struggling to maintain a safe existence within the many intrigues of the Tudor Courts.

For those wanting to know, Kate Emerson's previous Secrets of The Tudor Court: Pleasure Palace is pertaining to a different family altogether. These two novels are stand alone, although I did enjoy the first one as well (see my review). Kate Emerson also created an inspired guest post during the first Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event, and you can read that here at The Burton Review. Kate Emerson is a pseudonym for Kathy Lynn Emerson, and she also writes mysteriesand non-fiction works. She has also created a very interesting website devoted to Tudor women.

Dec 20, 2009

The Sunday Salon~ Merry Christmas!!

The Sunday Salon.com



(*Newsletter subscribers get this in their mailbox every Saturday (an early version sometimes un-edited), with access to exclusive newsletter only giveaways. This is the only mail that you will receive from me if you sign up for my newsletter; it winds up in your spam folder. Sign up for my newsletter by looking below my Follower gadget in the left sidebar.)

Christmas Christmas Christmas...It's almost here already!! I hope you are all done with your shopping.. I am not looking forward to the grocery shopping in preparation for the big day. It was utter madness for Thanksgiving.

I finished reading Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World by Abigail Reynolds, and I will have that up for you right after the New Year, and a guest post probably with a giveaway as well courtesy of Sourcebooks.

This week, I also read Kate Emerson's second novel in her Secrets of The Tudor Court Series: Between Two Queens. Some people tend to pull their hair out when there is a new Tudor novel, but I really enjoyed her last novel "Pleasure Palace". With this one, Nan Bassett is the main protagonist who is known to Tudor fans as a mistress to Henry VIII. This review will be posted Monday.

I think I will begin another Tudor novel, Brandy Purdy's The Boleyn Wife aka Vengeance is Mine aka The Tudor Wife.

Every now and then I come across an eye-opening article on the world wide web. With a hop skip and jump, I was at M.'s blog, and she mentioned certain fees for aspiring writers, and directed her readers to L'esprit D'escalier's article regarding Harlequin H-something (I already forgot). Apparently, they offer(ed) this awesome program for those writers who are rich and want to be published. Go check it out. It was indeed interesting. Yes I know the post is a month old. But it is still worthwhile.. think of $0.042 cents/word.. marketing packages.. And I wish I could be a publicist. With Harlequin's rates.

For newsletter subscribers, the book giveaway for Norah Loft's The Lute Player (for my ARC) is still ongoing, so if you didn't get a chance to enter for it last Sunday, there is still time. Instructions are in your newsletter, and you will need to dig it out of your Spam folders.

My blogoversary is in 10 days!! One whole year being blessed with books and online friendships with fellow book fiends!! It's been a fabulous year as far as books go. You can see all the books I reviewed here.



Till next time, my friends, but let me offer you my sincerest Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Season's Greetings!! May your holidays be happy, stress-free, and bountiful.

Dec 14, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: DEVIL'S CUB BY GEORGETTE HEYER

Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer
Product ISBN: 9781402219535
Historical Romance
Reissued by Sourcebooks, originally issued in 1932
Publication Date: November 2009
Review Copy from the publisher
The Burton Review Rating:Four and a Half Fun & Witty Stars!
See my other Heyer reviews

Synopsis:

Devil's Cub is one of Georgette Heyer's most famous and memorable novels, featuring a dashing and wild young nobleman and the gently bred young lady in whom he finally meets his match…
Like father, like son…

Dominic Alistair, Marquis of Vidal and fiery son of the notorious Duke of Avon, has established a rakish reputation that rivals his father's, living a life of excess and indulgence. Banished to the Continent after wounding his opponent in a duel, Vidal schemes to abduct the silly aristocrat bent on seducing him into marriage and make her his mistress instead. In his rush, however, he seems to have taken the wrong woman…
A young lady of remarkable fortitude…

Determined to save her sister from ruin, virtuous Mary Challoner intercepts the Marquis's advances and throws herself into his path, hoping Vidal will release her upon realizing his error. But as the two become irrevocably entangled, Mary's reputation and future lie in the hands of a devilish rake, who finds her more fascinating every day…


Hooray for another fun-tabulous Georgette Heyer novel! This one is more Georgian than the typical Regency novels she wrote, but reads just as well. In Heyer's Devil's Cub, she brings to life the Lord Vidal, otherwise known as Dominic, who is yet another dashingly irresistible debonair gentleman that every blushing beauty would like to get her hands on. Some he happily obliges, but then he promptly walks away. This time, in typical Heyer tragical comedic fashion, Mary attempts to save her naive sister Sophia from Lord Vidal but in doing so, Mary threatens to ruin her own chances at a respectable future.

This is the second in the series of the Alastair trilogy (Heyer really liked these characters); the first book of the series, These Old Shades (1926), perhaps in fitting Heyer comedic fashion, arrived 26 hours too late at my doorstep, forcing me to read this series out of order. Once I had gotten thirty pages into Devil's Cub, the arrival of These Old Shades wasn't enough to deter me from this one. Let me stop right here and pronounce the fact that I am a Georgette Heyer fan (possibly upgradeable to junkie status). She is devilishly clever in her stories, and she makes me laugh (oh.. all right, except for once). I love the way she can take the same sense of a plot and make each of her books new and clever, illustrating how she expertly develops her characters. (I say this because the plot in The Convenient Marriage resembles this one somewhat.) Yet, Devil's Cub was no exception to Heyer's ability to breathe laughter and life into age old plots. For some reason in all the regency novels I've read, there is always the pressing need to find an eligible bachelor for the young girl who needs to get out of her mama's house.

(an older cover version shown here) I couldn't make up my mind, though, if I should loathe or love Vidal. Oddly enough, our heroine had the same conundrum. 'Strait-laced' Mary knew what type of man he was, but of course that glitter in his eye made Mary wonder if there were more to him than just charm and arrogance. But I was getting a little unnerved at the fact that every time a pistol was near Vidal it invariably would go off. Murderer! (Dueling was still the rage then). Or, was he and his pistol always in the wrong place at the wrong time? And it is just this occasion that sends Vidal packing to Paris, fleeing England, but unbeknownst to him, he is bringing along Mary and not the silly Sophia. And hoity-toity Vidal gets his comeuppance and is shot by none other than Mary herself!!!

The melodramatics continue when all of the main characters and their family members collide in Dijon, where Mary consented to marry a Mr. Comyn as opposed to Lord Vidal, and more misunderstandings occur when the mom and dad (who are featured in These Old Shades) get into the middle of it. (Funny little side note was that the parson in Dijon that they were counting on doing the marrying would not do it for them anyway).

There were quite a lot of supporting characters in this one and many cousins and uncles for which I getting ready to draw a genealogical chart if one more relation was mentioned. I was getting confused! But that didn't detract from the hilarious adventures and the witty dialogue that is seemingly typical Heyer traits. I loved this one, and can't wait for my next Heyer romp.

Not wanting to give the rest of the plot away, and there is indeed a lot more that could be said, I'll simply say that was another win for Georgette Heyer.. she is my go-to-gal when I need a pick-me-up and I am so happy to report that this one did just that. The sequel to Devil's Cub is An Infamous Army.

If you are lucky, maybe you can find These Old Shades, Devil's Cub, and An Infamous Army in the 2006 omnibus shown here:

Mailbox Monday Time!



Mailbox Monday
Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. And I am adding what I purchased, swapped, etc.

From Paperbackswap:
My Dream of You My Dream of You by Nuala O'Faolain

This compelling novel by Nuala O'Faolain intertwines the stories of two women, an Irish travel writer living in present-day London, and a British landowner's wife during the 19th century potato famine, who was convicted of committing adultery with an Irish groom.

"A lovely heartbreaker of a novel that asks the hard questions...O'Faolain writes beautifully about longing and regret." (USA Today)

"One of the finest achievements of the book is its unflinching, empathetic depiction of just how it feels...to experience the chill clutch of the thought that the rest of one's life might be empty of love, sex, intimate human contact...a fully rendered portrait." (The New York Times Book Review)

Fallen Skies
Fallen Skies by Philippa Gregory

"Now back in print from New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory, Fallen Skies takes readers to post-World War I England in a suspenseful story about the marriage of a wealthy war hero and an aspiring singer he barely knows.

Lily Valance is determined to forget the horrors of the war by throwing herself into the decadent pleasures of the 1920s and pursuing her career as a music hall singer. When she meets Captain Stephen Winters, a decorated veteran, she's immediately drawn to his wealth and status. And Stephen, burdened by his guilt over surviving the Flanders battlefields where so many soldiers perished, sees the possibility of forgetting his anguish in Lily, but his family does not approve.

Lily marries Stephen, only to discover that his family's facade of respectability conceals a terrifying combination of repression, jealousy and violence. When Stephen's terrors merge dangerously close with reality, the truth of what took place in the mud and darkness brings him and all who love him to a terrible reckoning."
Above is a picture of my Georgette Heyer's that I purchased via Ebay. The pink one is "Venetia" and that one is from 1958. Pretty old! The lot was a total of 28 books.
My Heyer collection now includes:
A Blunt Instrument
A Civil Contract
An Infamous Army
Arabella
Behold, Here's Poison
The Toll-Gate
The Black Moth
These Old Shades
Devil's Cub
The Corinthian
The Grand Sophy
Venetia
The Masqueraders
The Convenient Marriage
The Nonesuch
Powder & Patch
Envious Casca
Footsteps in The Dark
No Wind of Blame
Why Shoot A Butler
They Found Him Dead
Detection Unlimited
Duplicate Death
The Unfinished Clue
Charity Girl
Death in the Stocks
Faro's Daughter
Fridays Child
The Spanish Bride
The Conqueror
Beauvallet
Sylvester
Royal Escape
Regency Buck
My Lord John

Shown above were purchased by me at my local bookstore & the 3 on the right are for review:
Firedrake's Eye by Patricia Finney (1998)
"Brilliantly written in language eerily reminiscent of sixteenth-century England and filled with the dazzling color and drama of Tudor England, Firedrake's Eye concerns a meticulously constructed plot to kill Queen Elizabeth I. Tom O'Bedlam, the mad son of prominent Catholic family, stumbles upon evidence that his hated brother has returned to England to spearhead a scheme to assassinate the Queen. Patricia Finney transports the reader back in time to the dirty, dangerous underbelly of 1583 London. Combining accurate and detailed historical research with story-telling of an unusually high caliber, Firedrake's Eye brilliantly evokes that danger and treachery of Tudor politics."

Unicorn's Blood by Patricia Finney (1999)
"Patricia Finney's outstanding literary thriller plunges into the vivid and deadly world of the 16th century: from the torture chambers of the Tower to the elegant artifice of court life; from the bawdy-houses of Southwark to the Queen's own bed. Why are the Jesuits, the Queen's Puritan councillors and even the Queen herself searching for the mysterious Book of the Unicorn? What ancient scandal threatens Elizabeth Tudor as she fights to avoid executing her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots? And what of the man waking up in the dungeon with no memory of who he is? David Becket and Simon Ames, the two mismatched heroes of FIREDRAKE'S EYE find themselves unwillingly in the thick of the struggle to unravel the plot."

Mapping the Edge by Sarah Dunant
"Anna, a self-sufficient and reliable single mother, packs her bags one day for a short vacation to Italy. She leaves her beloved daughter at home in London with good friends. When Anna doesn't return, everyone begins to make excuses, until the likelihood that she might not come back at all becomes chillingly clear. In this dazzling work of suspense, Sarah Dunant interweaves parallel narratives that are stretched taut with tension even as they raise difficult questions about love, trust, and accountability. We are challenged, unnerved, and ultimately exhilarated as Dunant redefines the boundaries of the psychological thriller."

From the author of A Separate Country, released 2009, this is his previous work:

The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
"In 1894 Carrie McGavock is an old woman who has only her former slave to keep her company…and the almost 1,500 soldiers buried in her backyard. Years before, rather than let someone plow over the field where these young men had been buried, Carrie dug them up and reburied them in her own personal cemetery. Now, as she walks the rows of the dead, an old soldier appears. It is the man she met on the day of the battle that changed everything. The man who came to her house as a wounded soldier and left with her heart. He asks if the cemetery has room for one more.
In an extraordinary debut novel, based on a remarkable true story, Robert Hicks draws an unforgettable, panoramic portrait of a woman who, through love and loss, found a cause. Known throughout the country as "the Widow of the South," Carrie McGavock gave her heart first to a stranger, then to a tract of hallowed ground - and became a symbol of a nation's soul."

From Sourcebooks to review:
The Stolen Crown: The Secret Marriage that Forever Changed the Fate of England by Susan Higginbotham
"On May Day, 1464, six-year-old Katherine Woodville, daughter of a duchess who has married a knight of modest means, awakes to find her gorgeous older sister, Elizabeth, in the midst of a secret marriage to King Edward IV. It changes everything—for Kate and for England.
Then King Edward dies unexpectedly. Richard III, Duke of Gloucester, is named protector of Edward and Elizabeth's two young princes, but Richard's own ambitions for the crown interfere with his duties...
Lancastrians against Yorkists: greed, power, murder, and war. As the story unfolds through the unique perspective of Kate Woodville, it soon becomes apparent that not everyone is wholly evil—or wholly good."


Young Bess (Book one in the Good Queen Bess trilogy) by Margaret Irwin, this is a reissue by Sourcebooks. Originally published 1944.
"This first of Irwin's trilogy about Elizabeth traces her early life from the execution of her mother, Anne Boleyn, to Bess's banishment from her Henry VIII's court, to the intrigues of Tom Seymour and the death of her brother, Edward VI."

From Simon & Schuster to Review:
Eve of the Isle by Carol Rivers
"January 1928, the Isle of Dogs. Following the mysterious disappearance of her sailor husband (missing, presumed drowned), young widow Eve Kumar struggles to provide for herself and her twin sons. But her flower-selling business is destroyed overnight when the Thames floods its banks, wrecking Eve's ramshackle riverside cottage and forcing her to take refuge with the lecherous Harold Slygo and his drunken wife. As Eve's home life turns from bad to worse, she is befriended by a young constable, Charlie Merritt, who shares Eve's growing suspicions that her husband's death was no accident. But Eve and Charlie's investigations are attracting unwelcome attention - and when Eve herself disappears, it becomes clear there are those who would go to any lengths to ensure the truth remains buried. Will Charlie be able to save the woman he has grown to love?"