Sunday Salon

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving - mine was perfect!!  We returned late last night from Orlando after seeing our friends and family.  Had an awesome time, but glad to be home.

Thank you to everyone who sent their Thanksgiving wishes to me - book bloggers really are the nicest group of people!

Classic moment of the trip:  when explaining to family about my blog, my young cousin says, "Aunt do book reports...for fun?"  My "cool" aunt status has thus been revoked.

On to book news...we've driven down to Florida a few times since moving to Atlanta and each time we pass through Valdosta we see billboards for "$3 Book Sale, 250+ titles", but we haven't stopped there until this time.  It didn't turn out to be quite as glorious as they made it sound, mostly had religious books, which isn't my thing, but if it's your thing then you'd be in heaven (sorry, bad pun...come on people it's a joke).  I did manage to scrounge up the following:

Baudolino by Umberto Eco
The Traitor's Tale by Margaret Frazier (Amazon has wrong cover attached to this one)
Silent In The Grace by Deanna Raybourn
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Prince and The Pilgrim by Mary Stewart
The Observations by Jane Harris

I finished The Conqueror by Georgette Heyer on the trip and will be posting the review shortly.  Here's a one word version for you now...fantastic!  Next on my list is A Lady of Quality, another Heyer...this one looks promising...the first page already gives a giggle.  I just love her.

2009 is the year of Georgette Heyer!

Don't you just love finding new authors? To me it's like a potato chip...once you start, you just can't get enough.

My new obsession is Georgette Heyer. Having just read Faro's Daughter and currently reading The Counqueror, my OCD has begun full force and it must be satisfied. I have two more of her novels that are next to be reviewed, The Cotillion and Lady of Quality, courtesy of Sourcebooks (thanks Danielle)!

Another of my stalking techniques for finding future releases is to look at the catalogs from publishing houses, so I was taking a peek at Sourcebook's catalog )since they seem to be taking over the historical fiction world) and lo and behold, fodder for my OCD! 2009 is not going to be a very nice year for Amy's wallet, let me just tell ya.

February 2009 The Convenient Marriage
March 2009 The Talisman Ring
April 2009 The Nonesuch
May 2009 Cousin Kate
June 2009 The Corinthian
July 2009 The Grand Sophy

They are also releasing some of her mysteries, which I can't wait to delve into.

February 2009 Behold, Here's Poison
March 2009 The Unfinished Clue
April 2009 Why Shoot A Butler? (isn't that a great title)

And one historical:

May 2009 My Lord John

If you wish to see the Catalog (pdf) for yourself.

This day in history for November 25

Catherine of Braganza, future wife to King Charles II of England, was born this date in 1638. She was the second daughter of the Duke of Portugal and his wife Louisa de Guzman, who was the daughter of a Duke herself.

Being the daughter of a King, she had her pick of the litter among the young, single Royals, including Louis XIV and Charles II. And in 1662, 2 years after Charles II was restored to his throne, they married.  Catherine was never crowned because of her religious beliefs, she was a Roman Catholic and they were forbidden to take part in Anglican services.

Charles II, appropriately dubbed The Merry Monarch, had numerous children with his many mistresses, but sadly, Catherine never bore an heir.  Regardless of his mistresses, Charles II was always very respectful of Catherine and made sure she received all that was entitled a Queen.

She survived her husband by twenty years and died in Lisbon on December 31, 1705.

In bookstores tomorrow

The extraordinary author of the Outlander series, Diana Gabladon, is releasing her third Lord John novel in paperback tomorrow!

I have the other two Lord John novels on Mt. TBR, but I think I can safely assume that they are brilliant since they come from the mind of Gabaldon.  I do admit to not liking Lord John in the Outlander all that much, but since he's not after my man Jamie anymore, I think I'll give him another try.

Lord John and the Hand of the Devils is a trio of novellas in one:  In Lord John and the Hellfire Club, Lord John glimpses a stranger in the doorway of a gentlemen’s club—and is stirred by a desperate entreaty to meet in private. The rendezvous forestalled by a sudden murder, Lord John will wade into a maze of political treachery and a dangerous, debauched underground society. . . . In Lord John and the Succubus, English soldiers fighting in Prussia are rattled by the nocturnal visitations of a deadly woman who sucks life and soul from a man. Called to investigate the night-hag, Lord John finds a murdered soldier and a treacherous Gypsy, and comes to the stark realization that among the spirits that haunt men, none frighten more than the specters conjured by the heart. . . . In Lord John and the Haunted Soldier, Lord John is thrust into the deadly case of an exploding battlefield cannon. Wounded in the same battle, Lord John is called to testify and soon confronts his own ghosts—and the shattering prospect that a traitor is among the ranks of His Majesty’s armed forces.

Have you read any Lord John?

Cool Library

I'm one of those rare people that find libraries cool, just because of the books alone. But how uber cool would it be if your library looked like this? They'd have to kick me out at closing time.

This beautifully unique, new age library is the new Royal Library in Copenhagen. It has seven stories and includes a bookshop, cafe, restaurant, clutch of research centers, archives, a roof terrace, and the Queen’s Hall, which provides seating for 600 in a venue that works for concerts, stage performances, and conferences.

Click here to see three images of The Royal Library in Copenhagen, including a larger version of this picture.

Review: Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer

When young Lord Adrian Maplethorpe proclaims to his mother that he wishes to marry a young lady from a gaming house, she is both floored and horrified. It's obvious to her that the girl must only want him for his money and title. And so Lady Maplethorpe immediately sends for her nephew, Max Ravenscar, to talk some sense into Adrian. He too is surprised at the news and decides to take a look at this girl himself.

Max marches himself on down to St. James Square to the home-turned-gaming house of Eliza Bellingham in the hopes of meeting Ms. Deborah Grantham, Ms. Bellingham's niece and object of Adrian's affection.

However, the girl he encounters is not the girl he had imagined. Beautiful, funny, smart and not in the least the loose, vulgar thing he was expecting - she quite takes him by surprise. Their first meeting leaves him unsatisfied and eager to find out more about her. They meet up again and Max unveils his proposal to pay her off to stay away from his cousin and that is when things get good!

Deb is utterly offended and beyond rage at Max's offer and vows revenge. In a nutshell she tells him to take his money and shove it! She'd even go as far as taking Adrian up on his offer (even though shew had no intention before), even if it meant his ruin, just to spite the "most hateful, odious man I have ever met in my life". Max is flabbergasted at her rejection! What is this woman up to? She must be holding out for more money, of that he is certain. Thus begins a tug-of-war of wills between Max and Deb.

What follows is an endearing and humorous story of two people who drive each other absolutely crazy and end up falling in love.

Faro's Daughter is the first novel I have read by Georgette Heyer, the Mother of Regency romance and I can tell you with a certainty that it will not be the last! I'm not usually a romancy kind of gal, but I have to admit that I really enjoyed this novel. It was a light, funny read with memorable characters and some kidnapping thrown in for good measure.

I recommend this book to any reader, of any age that likes a nice, sweet story of the heart.

Amy says: 5/5

The Postman Rings on Thursday

A few weeks ago I received an unexpected bonus at work and decided to treat myself to a few books that had been on my wish list and to my delight they finally arrived today!!

Bess of Hardwick
by Mary Lovell

A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale

I have a feeling that these will not last long on the TBR pile...they look too good to resist!

Care to join me at The Pub?

1 More Chapter is once again hosting The Pub Challenge and I'm really excited to joining this one, as I missed all the fun last year.

This challenge lasts all year and here is the 411:
  • Read a minimum of 9 books first published in 2009. You don’t have to buy these. Library books, unabridged audios, or ARCs are all acceptable. To qualify as being first published in 2009, it must be the first time that the book is published in your own country. For example, if a book was published in Australia, England, or Canada in 2008, and then published in the USA in 2009, it counts (if you live in the USA). Newly published trade paperbacks and mass market paperbacks do not count if there has been a hardcover/trade published before 2009.
  • No children’s/YA titles allowed, since we’re at the ‘pub.’
  • At least 5 titles must be fiction.
  • Crossovers with other challenges are allowed.
  • You can add your titles as you go, and they may be changed at any time.
Here are my choices:
  1. The Rose of Sebastopol by Katherine McMahon
  2. Twilight of A Queen by Susan Carroll
  3. Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harper
  4. Vlad by CC Humphreys
  5. Mistress of the Monarchy by Alison Weir
  6. The Sisters Who Would Be Queen by Leanda de Lisle
  7. The Convent by Sarah Dunant

What are they up to?

One part of my Internet ritual is looking at my favorite HF author's websites to see what they are working on next. So I thought I would do the stalking for you and let you know what's up.

Elizabeth Chadwick is working on a novel about Mahelt, the eldest daughter of that medieval stud, William Marshall. There is no publication date yet.

She has also begun research on Edith Swan-Neck, who was the un-wedded consort to Harold II of England.

EC will also be having three novels, after some re-edits, re-release in the UK. The Wild Hunt, The Running Vixen and The Leopard Unleashed will be released in 2008 and 2009.

Jeanne Kologridis, author of The Borgia Bride (which I really enjoyed) is in the progress of completing a novel about Catherine de Medici. I'm looking forward to see what Kalogridis does with Catherine as she is fascinating to read about. In the US it is going to be called The Bloodiest Queen and in the UK, The Medici Queen. No publication date.

The talented new Queen of Egypt, Michelle Moran, has a really great novel up her sleeve. Cleopatra's Daughter is the story about the fate of Cleopatra and Marc Antony's children. Click here for the really cool trailer. The release date is September 15, 2009.

Jennifer Donnelly, the outstanding author of The Tea RoseThe Winter Rose, is now working on the last book in the trilogy, The Wild Rose. This book reconnects us with the Finnegans as they live through World War I and into the Roarin' 20s. If you haven't read this trilogy yet then you are really missin' out. No publication date yet.

A novel on the latter part of Elizabeth I's reign is the focus of the next novel of Margaret George. George is the author with such books as Helen of Troy and The Autobiography of Henry VIII (which was wonderful) under her belt. Be warned she likes 'em big...her books are for the readers that are in for the long haul. Don't let me scare you off though - they are beautiful stories.

Susan Higginbotham, who I think could start her own genre of historical comedy. She has a very funny and entertaining blog that is one you should check out.

Susan's novel The Traitor's Wife is being re-released by Sourcebooks (see, there's that name again) on April 1, 2009. And she is now working on another novel set during the War of the Roses. Edit: Susan was kind enough to email me back with more information on her new project (thanks Susan!). It is told by Harry Stafford, second Duke of Buckingham and his wife, Katherine Woodville (youngest sister of Elizabeth Woodville, mother of the princes in the tower) and will cover the events from 1464 to 1495. She hoes to have it completed in 2009. There is no publication date set.

I just read an awesome book. Perhaps you've heard of it? Devil's Brood by Sharon Kay Penman, which is the third book (and not last) in her Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II series was a sensation around the book blog world when it was released in October.

Penman's next sensation is going to be the fourth novel dealing with Eleanor, Richard, John and Joanna (the daughter that married Llewelyn in her Welsh Trilogy). It is titled Lionheart and set to be released in 2011. Argh....that seems sooooo far away!!

p.s. Sharon has started her first blog. Check it out.

Sunday Salon

Hope everyone is having a good Sunday. It's a beautiful Fall day here in Georgia and Petunia and I are once again chillin' by the fire.

At the moment I am reading Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer, courtesy of Sourcebooks (who seems to be taking over the historical fiction genre). It's a nice light read so I should have the review up soon. I have three more of Heyer's so it looks like I'll be with her for a little while.

I added some books to my TBR Mountain this week:

Fiction set in 12th Century Rome.

Venice 1775. I'm excited to read this, having really enjoyed her other novel, To Dance With Kings.

Here are some I added to the equally large wishlist:

Signora de Vinci by Robin Maxwell. Brought to you by Tanzanite's Book Covers.

Review: Murder of a Medici Princess by Caroline P. Murphy

Italy, 1542. Isabella de Medici was born very shortly after the death of her father, Cosimo's, first daughter Bia. And subsequently was most cherished, cosseted and spoiled by her father . Her mother, Eleanora bore Cosimo seven sons and four daughters, with eight surviving til adulthood. They were all housed at the Palazzo Vecchio with the children's special apartments taking up several floors above Cosimo and Eleanora's chambers, which had private access to the children's rooms above.

In 1558 Isabella is wed to Paolo Giordano Orsini, member of the Roman Orsini family. Cosimo immediately sends the groom away to Spain to secure diplomatic commissions which allowed Isabella (and her dowry) to stay in Florence with her father. In Cosimo's opinion if Paolo wanted to see his wife he could come to her. Isabella and her father were very close...some wondered how close (although nothing was ever proven).

Isabella's husband, the Duke of Bracciano was a careless spendthrift, accruing enormous debt and living way beyond his means. Despite the letters that survived that time which Murphy quotes from, there was no love between Paolo and Isabella, just business. He saw her as a means of paying off his debts and she saw him as someone weak enough to use to her liking. Isabella did not want to leave her father in Florence and husband and wife did not spend a night alone until four years after their wedding. It's a wonder she had multiple miscarriages and bore two children. Although she had a lover, Troilo Orsini (her husband's cousin), are thus uncertain who the father is. Something Paolo would store away and use to his advantage later on.

Cosimo Medici
When Cosimo dies, Isabella's eldest brother, Francesco, becomes Grand Duke of Tuscany.  Her protector and provider is gone - suddenly Isabella is vulnerable and subject to her older brother. Francesco and Isabella have never been close; Francesco begrudging Isabella's freedoms and indiscretions, her "loose" ways. They begin a tug-of-war of wills in regards to Cosimo's will and providing for her children now that he was gone.

In the past, she used illness and deferment when dealing with Paolo's requests for her to come home to him to Bracciano. Her long-lasting affair with Troilo Orsini, Paolo's cousin, was a spurn in the side of her brother Francesco. Immediately after Cosimo's death, Francesco wasted no time, throwing his step-mother in a nunnery and he began proceedings on getting Isabella back to her husband.

Paolo had been humiliated and de-masculinated for years because of Isabella's disregard for his authority and her affair. Everyone knew he had no command over his own wife. Murphy's argument is that Francesco, disgusted with his sister's behavior and generally not liking her, gave permission to Paolo to murder her. At the same time it is said that he also gave permission to his brother, Pietro, to do away with his unfaithful wife, Leonora (friend to Isabella). The women died within a week of each other, both last seen in the company of their husbands. 

Isabella and Paolo (doesn't he look like Jon Lovitz with a lot of hair?)

I had been looking forward to this book - having a liking for historical fiction and murder. But I found myself scanning pages and skipping paragraphs, which is not something I make a habit of doing. It felt inundated with facts at times, although I did find some of it very interesting, such as, the day to day expenses of Paolo Giordano and Isabella's - the income that is needed to sustain a household the size of theirs was enormous. About three-quarters of the way through, I found myself wandering, actually anxiously awaiting her that point, I needed some action! And when the time did come for her demise it was...well...anti-climactic.

I think I would have been friends with Isabella de Medici - she was smart, had a great sense of humor, light of heart and at times could be a smart ass. She was unconventional in a time when women were not.

Murphy is one talented writer and it is obvious that a HUGE amount of research went into this book, but I wish it would have been focused more on just Isabella and less Cosimo's politics. Just my opinion. I found it well-written, not overly intellectual like some non-fiction can be. Nice reading flow.

Amy Says: eh. renter.

Friday Funny

Like you need more books.....

Book of Henry VIII as seen through the eyes of his fool, Wil Sommers.
US Release Date:  April 1, 2009
The lovely, funny and oh so talented Susan Higginbotham is having her novel re-released by Sourcebooks. 
US Release Date:  April 1, 2009
Synopsis:  In fourteenth-century England, young Eleanor de Clare, favorite niece of King Edward II, is delighted with her marriage to Hugh le Despenser and her appointment to Queen Isabella’s household as a lady-in-waiting. It soon becomes apparent, however, that Eleanor’s beloved uncle is not the king the nobles of the land—or his queen—expected.
Hugh’s unbridled ambition and his intimate relationship with Edward arouse widespread resentment, even as Eleanor remains fiercely loyal to her husband and to her king. But loyalty has its price… Moving from royal palaces to prison cells, from the battlefield to the bedroom, between hope and despair, treachery and fidelity, hatred and abiding love, The Traitor’s Wife is a tale of an extraordinary woman living in extraordinary times.
 US Release Date:  March 5, 2009
Synopsis:  In 1854, beautiful, adventurous Rosa Barr travels to the Crimean battlefield with Florence Nightingale’s nursing corps. A headstrong idealist, longing to break out of the rigid confines of life as a young lady, Rosa is determined to make a difference in the world.

For Mariella Lingwood, Rosa’s cousin, the war is contained within the pages of her scrapbook, in her London sewing circle, and in the letters she receives from her fiancĂ©, Henry—a celebrated surgeon who has also volunteered to work within the shadow of the guns. When Henry falls ill and is sent to recuperate in Italy, Mariella impulsively decides she must go to him. But upon her arrival at his lodgings, she makes a heartbreaking discovery: Rosa has disappeared without a trace. Following the trail of her elusive cousin, Mariella’s epic journey takes her from the domestic restraint of Victorian London to the ravaged landscape of the Crimea and the tragic city of Sebastopol, where she encounters Rosa’s dashing stepbrother, a reckless cavalry officer whose complex past —and future—is inextricably bound up with her own. As Mariella’s quest leads her deeper into the dark heart of the conflict, her ordered world begins to crumble and she finds she has much to learn about secrecy, faithfulness, and love.
US Release Date:  March 1, 2009
Synopsis:  Arthur Pendragon, chosen as the new leader of the Britons, becomes a pawn in a political triangle, and he is forced to choose between his new kingdom and Gwenhwyfar, the woman he loves.
US Release Date:  March 1, 2009
Synopsis:  Neither Sir Tristram Shield nor Eustacie, his young French cousin, share the slightest inclination to marry one another. Yet it is Lord Lavenham's dying wish. For there is no one else to provide for the old man's granddaughter while Ludovic, his heir, remains a fugitive from justice.
(Isn't that a purty cover?)
US Release Date:  February 5, 2009
Synopsis:  In Mistress Shakespeare, Elizabethan beauty Anne Whateley reveals intimate details of her dangerous, daring life and her great love, William Shakespeare. As historical records show, Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton is betrothed to Will just days before he is forced to wed the pregnant Anne Hathaway of Shottery. The clandestine Whateley/Shakespeare match is a meeting of hearts and heads that no one—not even Queen Elizabeth or her spymasters—can destroy. From rural Stratford-upon- Avon to teeming London, the passionate pair struggles to stay solvent and remain safe from Elizabeth I’s campaign to hunt down secret Catholics, of whom Shakespeare is rumored to be a part. Often at odds, always in love, the couple sells Will’s first plays and, as he climbs to theatrical power in Elizabeth’s England, they fend off fierce competition from rival London dramatists, ones as treacherous as they are talented. Persecution and plague, insurrection and inferno, friends and foes, even executions of those they hold dear, bring Anne’s heartrending story to life. Spanning half a century of Elizabethan and Jacobean history and sweeping from the lowest reaches of society to the royal court, this richly textured novel tells the real story of Shakespeare in love.

Booking Through Thursday...Why Buy?

I’ve asked, in the past, about whether you more often buy your books, or get them from libraries. What I want to know today, is, WHY BUY?

Even if you are a die-hard fan of the public library system, I’m betting you have at least ONE permanent resident of your bookshelves in your house. I’m betting that no real book-lover can go through life without owning at least one book. So … why that one? What made you buy the books that you actually own, even though your usual preference is to borrow and return them?

If you usually buy your books, tell me why. Why buy instead of borrow? Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you could get for free?
IMO (of course it's my opinion, it's my blog, who else's opinion would it be?), there is nothing more satisfying than walking into a book store. There is nothing quite like walking up and down the aisles searching for that next perfect adventure, that next perfect novel to lose yourself in. For me it's complete bliss. I love the smell of a bookstore too - when I walk in I stand there for a sec and just breathe it all in. Yeah, I may get weird looks, but since when has that stopped me? I'm sure the employees are thinking "Oh lord that strange girl is back again".

I must own the books I read. I think that I have a sickness, but it's one that I am finding running rampant among us book lovers. Reading historical fiction is full of perks, with one being the pretty, pretty covers. I'm a very aesthetic person, so I love to display my collection. Seeing as I've only had one other person in my house so far this year (besides the kid and husband) I guess I just do it for myself!

Since I was little I've liked to sorta collect things and this obsession plays into that. I used to read Nancy Drew and the Babysitters Club...really any series with numbers on the spine. They were always lined up and in order on my shelf. A little anal-retentive huh?! But, that is what makes me happy! Every weekend I dust the 3 small bookshelves I have in our husband likes to make fun of me, but then I remind him of his Pearl Jam shrine and that usually shuts him up.

On another note, I feel good about buying books because it helps support my favorite authors, especially during this huge pile of crap we are wading through, called the economy.

There's my 2 cents...what about you?

Christmas in BookBlogLand

Marg at ReadingAdventures is hosting the 2008 Blog Advent Tour!

Isn't this the coolest idea? I signed up and was assigned December 8th, so make you sure you check back then for my Christmas post!

I learned about this from My Friend Amy and since I buy books for everyone on my list anyway I thought I'd sign up and support! This is for a great spread the joy of reading. This is a collaborative effort with many book bloggers and they have set up a site. On the site there is opportunity to leave posts looking for specific ideas or giving recommendations. Hop on over and take a peek!

Introducing Petunia!

This is Petunia. She is my early Christmas present and will be assisting me with bringing you all of the Passages to the Past yummy goodness! Thanks Santa!

P.S. I find it funny that when I asked my husband to take a picture of the computer for my post this is what he gave me. Apparently, Petunia is fond of spending pleasant evenings sitting by the fire.

Mailbox Monday

Take a look and see what the postman brought this hippie chick...

Courtesy of Sourcebooks I now have a quartet of Georgette Heyer novels to add to Mount TBR.

The Conquerer
Lady of Quality
Faro's Daughter

But, the best package had a cute smiley face on it and was from a very good friend, Michele at A Reader's Respite who sent me Lydia Bennett's Story by Jane Odiwe.  Click here for her review.  Thanks girl!

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