They like me...they really like me!

My favorite new book blogger, Michele at A Reader's Respite, has just laid an award on me! I am sooo super stoked!

Now to pass on the love I would like to nominate 7 blogs that I heart very much. And without further adieu:

1. This might be illegal, but I've never been on to follow rules, so I must start off with A Reader's Respite. Her blog is the first one I visit when I start my morning ritual. She is fairly new (I say that like I'm an old pro!) and she is wonderful. We have eerily similar tastes, so I am always interested in what she writes and she is really funny to boot. Also, she's a pilot and I think that that is bad ass!

2. Elizabeth Chadwick - Living the History. I adore EC and purchase her books from the UK whenever I can. She writes great posts about her trips for book research (always fascinating) and gives us a glimpse into a writer's world (something that has always fascinated me).

3. The Literate Housewife Review. She was one of the first visitors to my blog. I was so geeked out when I got my first "comment" and I will always be grateful. She has a wonderful blog - I actually wonder where in the hell she gets the time to put in so much work on her blog!

4. Susan Higginbotham at Reading, Raving and Ranting by a Historical Fiction Author. She is the author of A Traitor's Wife, a novel of Edward II. Susan's blog is a mix of reviews, research and a little of this and that. She is extremely clever and humorous, oh, and her dog, Boswell is just so cute!

5. Tanzanite's Shelf and Stuff. Extremely good book reviewer. Hers is the first I go to when I want a good, thorough review of a novel. I want to be her when I grow up! P.S. I see today that she is reading an ARC of Devil's Brood and I am sooo jealous!

6. Medieval bookworm is on her way to York in England for school and I am wishing her all the best. She is a great blogger and a very quick reader - I swear that girl has a new review every day!

7. iLax Studio is the only non-book blog that I read, which says a lot! Kim is sooo funny and sweet and always has great stories! She is one of my best comment-ers and I really appreciate her support!

There are so many can visit them from the left side of my blog under Blogs that I Read!

Updates on author websites

Here are some updates from a few of our favorite authors:

Elizabeth Chadwick:  Publication for The Time of Singing has been pushed back to October 16, 2008, the same day that A Place Beyond Courage comes out.  She does note that Amazon UK is selling the book now.

There is a new book trailer for A Place Beyond Courage.  Click here.

Sandra Worth:  the author of the Rose of York series is releasing her newest book, The King's Daughter, on December 2, 2008.  Click here to read about the book.  She is having a give-away:  to enter just send her an email:
 To win one of five copies of The King's Daughter: A Novel of the First Tudor Queen to be given away December 2nd, please send an email.
 Diana Gabaldon: Visit Diana's website for an excerpt from An Echo in the Bone and the Outlander Graphic Novel, as well as, three other excerpts including a Lord John story from an anthology.  Click here to read.

She has also written updates of her work in progress and posted a Podcast.  She is so interesting to listen to and I just love her voice.  The front page of her site has all the updates.

Review: The Heretic Queen

Ever since I was a little girl I have had a fascination with Egypt.  My mom would buy me books with pictures of Egypt; the pyramids and artifacts and I would just eat it up!  I'm not sure what's behind all the fascination, but I like to think that maybe I was there in another life.

Michelle Moran brings me back home in The Heretic Queen.  It is a tale of Nefertari, who was hailed as the Warrior Queen by the people in Egypt and was known for her knowledge of 8 languages.  Nefertari was the Chief Wife to Rameses II (Rameses the Great) and it was truly a love match.  The Heretic Queen follows the life of Nefertari as she becomes one of the most well-known Queens of Egypt.

This is a story filled with passion, deception, intrigue, adventure and best of all, love.  And we all know...all you need is love!  Rameses and Nefertari were very much in love, and it shows by the passage Rameses had written on her burial chamber wall:  "My love is unique and none can rival her...Just by passing, she has stolen away my heart."

This is a fantastic novel that I recommend to anyone!  Moran is an excellent writer and can pull you right into the story...right into Egypt...smell the incense....taste the pomegrante wine.  This is a book where you can just disappear into another world for hours on end and not ever want to leave.  This is the kind of book that gets me in trouble because I tune out/ignore everything and everyone around me!

I am so excited for her next book, Cleopatra's Daughter, which is about Cleopatra's children with Marc Antony.  The release date is September 15, 2009.

Rating:  5/5

Here is a picture of Nefertari:

Booking Through Thursday...Well, that was different!

btt buttonWhat was the most unusual (for you) book you ever read? Either because the book itself was completely from out in left field somewhere, or was a genre you never read, or was the only book available on a long flight… whatever? What (not counting school textbooks, though literature read for classes counts) was furthest outside your usual comfort zone/familiar territory?
And, did you like it? Did it stretch your boundaries? Did you shut it with a shudder the instant you were done? Did it make you think? Have nightmares? Kick off a new obsession?
I would have to say that the most unusual books I have read were the Sleeping Beauty series by Anne Rice.   They include The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty's Punishment and Beauty's Release.  It starts off similar to the real Sleeping Beauty fairy tale;  she is asleep for a hundred years and Prince after Prince tries to wake her with a kiss, but nothing...then a Prince comes along and um..."takes" her and voila!  She's awake!  The Prince then claims Sleeping Beauty as his sexual slave. 

These are the raciest books I have ever read!  The erotica and bondage are a little over the top, but it was interesting none the less.

Two weeks seems like an eternity!

October 7th cannot come fast enough!

Sharon Kay Penman releases her long-awaited last book for the Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine series!  Are you waiting as patiently impatiently as I am?

P.S.  I think we all should chip in some money and find a cure for Mono so that Sharon can just worry about writing more wonderfully captivating stories!  Who's in?

New book in The Wicked Years series!

Look what I came across today while browsing Amazon! I've been so caught up in Historical Fiction World that I had no clue Gregory Maguire was writing another book for The Wicked Year series. What amazing books they are!! The first in the series is Wicked (obviously) and the follow up, Son of A Witch (I love that title).

The third book is A Lion Among Men and is a story about the Cowardly Lion (my favorite character in The Wizard of Oz).

I plan on re-reading the first two novels before delving into this one and will post my reviews after. Wow - I just thought of something...these books will be the ONLY non-historical fiction novels I have read yet this year! Can you say I'm a little obsessed?!

Here is the synopsis:

Since Wicked was first published in 1995, millions of readers have discovered Gregory Maguire's fantastically encyclopedic Oz, a world filled with characters both familiar and new, darkly conceived and daringly reimagined. In the much-anticipated third volume of the Wicked Years, we return to Oz, seen now through the eyes of the Cowardly Lion—the once tiny cub defended by Elphaba in Wicked.

While civil war looms in Oz, a tetchy oracle named Yackle prepares for death. Before her final hour, an enigmatic figure known as Brrr—the Cowardly Lion—arrives searching for information about Elphaba Thropp, the Wicked Witch of the West. As payment, Yackle, who hovered on the sidelines of Elphaba's life, demands some answers of her own.

Brrr surrenders his story to the ailing maunt: Abandoned as a cub, his earliest memories are gluey hazes, and his path from infancy in the Great Gillikin Forest is no Yellow Brick Road. Seeking to redress an early mistake, he trudges through a swamp of ghosts, becomes implicated in a massacre of trolls, and falls in love with a forbidding Cat princess. In the wake of laws that oppress talking Animals, he avoids a jail sentence by agreeing to serve as a lackey to the war-mongering Emperor of Oz.

A Lion Among Men chronicles a battle of wits hastened by the Emerald City's approaching armies. What does the Lion know of the whereabouts of the Witch's boy, Liir? What can Yackle reveal about the auguries of the Clock of the Time Dragon? And what of the Grimmerie, the magic book that vanished as quickly as Elphaba? Is destiny ever arbitrary? Can those tarnished by infamy escape their sobriquets—cowardly, wicked, brainless, criminally earnest—to claim their own histories, to live honorably within their own skins before they're skinned alive?

At once a portrait of a would-be survivor and a panoramic glimpse of a world gone shrill with war fever, Gregory Maguire's new novel is written with the sympathy and power that have made his books contemporary classics.

September 16th is Queen's Day!!

The release date for Philippa Gregory's The Other Queen and Michelle Moran's The Heretic Queen is only a few days away!!

Now to decide which one to feast on first? Hmmm....should I visit Mary, Queen of Scots or should I travel to Egypt and meet Nefertari? Which novel are you most excited for? If you are plan on reading both, which one would you read first?

Review: My Lady of Cleves

My Lady of Cleves covers the life of Anne of Cleves from right before her marriage to Henry VIII until his death in 1547. The story opens with an agitated King Henry VIII, talking with his ministers about his need for a new wife after the death of his third wife, Jane Seymour in childbed. Among the candidates are the Duchess of Milan and the Cleves Princesses. The Duchess of Milan has already replied with “Only if I had two heads”! Smart girl!

Hans Holbein is sent to Cleves to paint both Anne and her sister, Amelia. Once there he becomes quite smitten with Anne and they begin a friendship. He paints a flattering picture of her because that is the way he sees her. Unfortunately, Henry does not see the same way and is almost instantly put off by Anne’s looks and hard mannerisms. Henry likes the petite type (go figure!).

We follow Anne through her short marriage to Henry, her annulment, “retirement” to Richmond Palace, Henry’s next marriage to Katherine Howard and her eventual downfall. Anne even plays a part in the infamous scene where Katherine is desperate to talk to Henry and goes screaming for him through the halls of the Palace. Anne seems to resign herself to her fate; after all she still has her head! She genuinely enjoys the life of a Princess of England; she can come and go as she pleases and has no husband or man to answer to. In seeing the freedom that Anne as a “woman” had, that had to have been a big impact on Elizabeth I, who always said she would never have a master.

My Lady of Cleves was an interesting look into a woman that survived marriage to Henry VIII. Anne is a very likeable, intelligent, straightforward woman and I think she would have made a wonderful Queen, had she been given the chance. It pulls on your heartstrings to know that she never had the children she wanted and never married. I wish the story was longer and covered the time during Mary’s rule as Queen - I would have liked to have heard Anne’s thoughts on “Bloody Mary”.

Margaret Campbell Barnes is also the author of Brief, Gaudy Hour, a novel on Anne Boleyn. Click here for more information on Brief, Gaudy Hour click here.

Note: Anne of Cleves died at Hever Castle on July 16, 1557. She lived 10 years past Henry. Her tomb is in a “hard to find place” in Westminster Abbey.

Overall: 4/5

Song: "Sweet Dreams" by Tori Amos

Review: The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

It’s very rare in Hollywood where the sequel is as good or better than the original…but not so in the literary world!  Jennifer Donnelly hits one out of the park with her follow-up to The Tea Rose.  In The Winter Rose we are taken back to London at the turn of the 20th Century and meet back up with Fiona and Joe and now, their children.  Fiona still has her Tea business and Joe has decided to take up politics in order to help the working class from whence he came from.

The other heroine of the book is India Jones, an independent young woman who has just graduated from Medical School and has dreams of opening a hospital for the poor women and children of Whitechaple.  She soon crosses paths with Sid Malone and thus begins their relationship.

Fiona’s brother, Seamie has returned to London after leaving school – he has hopes of being an adventurer.  I really liked reading about Seamie and his adventures – I hope there is more of him in the next novel.

In The Winter Rose, we travel to London, Africa, Kilimanjaro and eventually California where the novel ends in the best, most romantic way ever!  Get your tissues ladies!

Donnelly is working on the third novel titled The Wild Rose, but there is not yet a release date.  I’m not a very patient person, but I am sure this will be well worth the wait.

Thanks for the beautiful story Jennifer!

Overall:  5/5

Review: The Tea Rose

“Buy my fine parsley-o!” 

I loved, loved, loved this book!  The Tea Rose is a fabulous story of an amazing, ambitious girl, Fiona, from the slums of Whitechaple who dreams of a life without poverty and a boy named Joe.  Fiona and Joe grew up with each other and are very much in love.  Their relationship changes when Joe moves to a better job and then Fiona loses her family tragically and escapes to New York taking her 5-year-old brother, Seamie, with her.  The story then follows Fiona’s life and struggles in New York and her rise to the top of the Tea trade.  

Donnelly includes many wonderful characters throughout the book, my particular favorite being Nick. Fiona is a very interesting woman to read about, you really get to know her and you kinda miss her when you’re done. The relationship with her and Joe is beautiful and pure – you just know they are meant for each other.  

All in all this is fabulous story telling and I highly recommend it to any lover of fiction. I mean this book has everything you could want: mystery, romance, power struggles, murder, grief, heartbreak, love…all the essentials!!!

I am off to read the sequel now, The Winter Rose.  Can’t wait!!!

Overall:  5/5

The Heretic Queen giveaway!

Lezlie at Books 'N Border Collies has just announced a giveaway for The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran.  Just stop by and leave a comment and she will enter your name in the giveaway!  Good luck to all!

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