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Nov 11, 2012

It's Mailbox Monday! What are you reading?

Mailbox Monday is a meme originally from Marcia's Mailbox and is temporarily being hosted at Kathy's at during the month of November.

In the Mail....
Mailbox treats!

Remember that Swap I had a few weeks ago (take a peek if you're in the mood to swap)? I swapped out some books and got some goodies! I also received a few titles from Paperbackswap, so that makes ALL OF THESE NON-REVIEW books! SQUEEE!!
Thank you to Kimberlee from Girl Lost in a Book for some awesome swap books!
The Thirteenth Disciple by Bette M Ross (Published in 1984, OH LOVE THAT COVER!) 
In this Biblical novel, the young priestess Prisca deserts the goddess she serves, Artemis, to follow Jesus. She is rejected by the Twelve Disciples after Christ's death but believes that He chose her to carry the gospel. The story thickens as she falls in love with a merchant captain in the tempestuous times of the early church.

A Tailor Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer (Published 2010..of course this becomes available on PBS two days before it was free on Kindle, le sigh)
Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with Coventry, Texas's new dressmaker. He's all too familiar with her kind--shallow women 
more devoted to fashion than true beauty. Yet, except for her well-tailored clothing, this seamstress is not at all what he expected. 
Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff 
manner while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man? 
When Hannah decides to help Jericho's sister catch a beau--leading to uproarious consequences for the whole town--will Jericho and Hannah find a way to bridge the gap between them?

The Venetian Mask by Rosalind Laker (Published 2008)
Enduring friendships and long-held vendettas come alive against the splendor and decadence of eighteenth-century Venice.

In 1775 Venice–known to outsiders as “the brothel of Europe”–the tradition of mask-wearing has allowed adultery and debauchery to flourish. But Marietta and Elena, two dear friends at the Ospedale della Pietà, a world-famous orphanage and music school for girls, know little of that milieu–until they come of age. 

Elena is forced to wed the head of the Celano clan, a jealous, brutal man, while Marietta marries Domenico Torrisi, whose family vendetta with the Celanos is centuries old. Tradition dictates that the friends should never speak again, but their bond is too strong to break. 

As the French Revolution unsettles all of Europe, Elena’s husband frames Domenico and he becomes a political prisoner. Marietta and Elena plot to save him, and the women discover that Venetian masks have noble purposes, too–but will their efforts put their own lives at risk?

Embodying the glitter and the treachery of the city it portrays, The Venetian Mask will keep you turning pages long into the night.

The Second Empress by Michelle Moran (Published 2012, one where it was emailed that I would get a copy from the author but never did, I think the new owners of my old house are getting lots of books. Too bad I don't think they speak English)

After the bloody French Revolution, Emperor Napoleon’s power is absolute. When Marie-Louise, the eighteen year old daughter of the King of Austria, is told that the Emperor has demanded her hand in marriage, her father presents her with a terrible choice: marry the cruel, capricious Napoleon, leaving the man she loves and her home forever, or say no, and plunge her country into war.

Marie-Louise knows what she must do, and she travels to France, determined to be a good wife despite Napoleon’s reputation. But lavish parties greet her in Paris, and at the extravagant French court, she finds many rivals for her husband’s affection, including Napoleon’s first wife, Joséphine, and his sister Pauline, the only woman as ambitious as the emperor himself. Beloved by some and infamous to many, Pauline is fiercely loyal to her brother. She is also convinced that Napoleon is destined to become the modern Pharaoh of Egypt. Indeed, her greatest hope is to rule alongside him as his queen—a brother-sister marriage just as the ancient Egyptian royals practiced. Determined to see this dream come to pass, Pauline embarks on a campaign to undermine the new empress and convince Napoleon to divorce Marie-Louise.

As Pauline's insightful Haitian servant, Paul, watches these two women clash, he is torn between his love for Pauline and his sympathy for Marie-Louise. But there are greater concerns than Pauline's jealousy plaguing the court of France. While Napoleon becomes increasingly desperate for an heir, the empire's peace looks increasingly unstable. When war once again sweeps the continent and bloodshed threatens Marie-Louise’s family in Austria, the second Empress is forced to make choices that will determine her place in history—and change the course of her life.

Based on primary resources from the time, The Second Empress takes readers back to Napoleon’s empire, where royals and servants alike live at the whim of one man, and two women vie to change their destinies.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (Published 2010)
Filled with stunning parallels to today's world, The Postmistress is a sweeping novel about the loss of innocence of two extraordinary women-and of two countries torn apart by war.

On the eve of the United States's entrance into World War II in 1940, Iris James, the postmistress of Franklin, a small town on Cape Cod, does the unthinkable: She doesn't deliver a letter. In London, American radio gal Frankie Bard is working with Edward R. Murrow, reporting on the Blitz. One night in a bomb shelter, she meets a doctor from Cape Cod with a letter in his pocket, a letter Frankie vows to deliver when she returns from Germany and France, where she is to record the stories of war refugees desperately trying to escape.

The residents of Franklin think the war can't touch them- but as Frankie's radio broadcasts air, some know that the war is indeed coming. And when Frankie arrives at their doorstep, the two stories collide in a way no one could have foreseen. The Postmistress is an unforgettable tale of the secrets we must bear, or bury. It is about what happens to love during wartime, when those we cherish leave. And how every story-of love or war-is about looking left when we should have been looking right.

Heresy by S.J. Parris (Published 2010; Giordano Bruno #1)
Giordano Bruno was a monk, poet, scientist, and magician on the run from the Roman Inquisition on charges of heresy for his belief that the Earth orbits the sun and that the universe is infinite. This alone could have got him burned at the stake, but he was also a student of occult philosophies and magic. 

In S. J. Parris's gripping novel, Bruno's pursuit of this rare knowledge brings him to London, where he is unexpectedly recruited by Queen Elizabeth I and is sent undercover to Oxford University on the pretext of a royal visitation. Officially Bruno is to take part in a debate on the Copernican theory of the universe; unofficially, he is to find out whatever he can about a Catholic plot to overthrow the queen. 

His mission is dramatically thrown off course by a series of grisly murders and a spirited and beautiful young woman. As Bruno begins to discover a pattern in these killings, he realizes that no one at Oxford is who he seems to be. Bruno must attempt to outwit a killer who appears obsessed with the boundary between truth and heresy. 

Like The Dante Club and The Alienist, this clever, sophisticated, exceptionally enjoyable novel is written with the unstoppable narrative propulsion and stylistic flair of the very best historical thrillers.

Prophecy by S.J. Parris (Published 2011, Giodarno Bruno #2.. now I need #3 Sacrilege)
It is the year of the Great Conjunction, when the two most powerful planets, Jupiter and Saturn, align—an astrologi­cal phenomenon that occurs once every thousand years and heralds the death of one age and the dawn of another. The streets of London are abuzz with predictions of horrific events to come, possibly even the death of Queen Elizabeth. 

When several of the queen’s maids of honor are found dead, rumors of black magic abound. Elizabeth calls upon her personal astrologer, John Dee, and Giordano Bruno to solve the crimes. While Dee turns to a mysterious medium claiming knowledge of the murders, Bruno fears that some­thing far more sinister is at work. But even as the climate of fear at the palace intensifies, the queen refuses to believe that the killer could be someone within her own court. 

Bruno must play a dangerous game: can he allow the plot to progress far enough to give the queen the proof she needs without putting her, England, or his own life in danger? 

In this utterly gripping and gorgeously written novel, S. J. Parris has proven herself the new master of the historical thriller.

I bought a Kindle book, too..
For $2.99: To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer (Published 2011)
Having completed his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father's knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past. But small towns leave little room for secrets... 
Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she steels herself against the attraction he provokes. His halting speech and hesitant manner leave her doubting his intelligence. Yet as the mysteries of the town's new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart. 
Levi's renewed commitment to his faith leads Eden to believe she's finally found a man of honor and integrity, a man worthy of her love. But when the truth about his prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian's affections?

And I was gifted two titles from a fellow reader (thank you!!): The Welsh Healer, A Novel of 15th Century England; and El Rey, a novel of Renaissance Iberia both by Ginger Myrick, a new author who is getting great buzz!

Some of the Kindle freebies which I am excited about:
Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz
Michal: A Novel (Wives of King David) by Jill Eileen Smith

What are you Reading?

What are you reading? meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.
I have been crazy busy at work with end of year fiscal stuff and audits and Girl Scouts and oh stick a fork in me.. so I am not reading as much. But... it's about QUALITY right? so I'd say reading the Bible is awesomeness since I haven't accomplished this feat yet.

This past week I have finished the Book of Genesis learning about the forefathers of Israel, and now I am knee deep in Exodus and the Red Sea and locusts and Pharoah not listening to Moses for the umpteenth time..

I am also reading At Every Turn by Anne Mateer, a book I rec'd for review last week.and is available now for purchase. As I loved Mateer's previous Wings of A Dream, I was hoping this would ooze entertainment - but, alas - I am just eager to slap our naive heroine Alyce who loves to race cars in the olden days of 1916 but that's just a brave backdrop for her true silliness.

I posted a review of The Ride of Her Life by Lorna Seilstad which I read eons ago but had to hold the review pending its official publication in the HNS November edition..This was a book #3 of a series I hadn't read yet but I saw that many other readers loved her books, so I took a chance. It wasn't fabulous for me, so it is one I would say to read the prior novels to gain appreciation of the scheme of characters.

I am wondering if now that I have read lots of Christian Historical fiction this past year, I am now honing my tastes and wishing for something more substantial. It's time to find the cream of the crop so to speak of the genre. So far it looks like it's Tamera Alexander and Julie Klassen still, which I discovered last year. Susan Page Davis hasn't disappointed me yet, though..and I am holding out hope for Karen Witemeyer which I received an older title in the mail (above)..

Coming up next in my list of reads will continue with the same pace as it's been.. a snail's pace. But reading the bible has been on my bucket list for quite a long time, and now is a good a time as any. I am also taking notes in a journal and I've downloaded a fantastic iPhone app which you gotta look for if you own one of the Apple devices:  "Laudate".. The most popular and most comprehensive free Catholic App . Daily Mass Readings (with Saint of the Day and Reflections). Liturgy of Hours, New American Bible, interactive Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Stations of the Cross, prayers and Latin prayers with English translation. Multiple podcasts for daily meditations and Rosary. 

Also, feel free to jump into the Read the Bible in 180 Days read along here on Goodreads.

Hope you have a fantastic week, and I'll see you next Monday!