I'm really not a quitter!

But I just had to put Sacred Hearts down uncompleted.  Not that it's bad, it's just not doing it for me right now.  With all the drama going on in my real life I think I need a book with more bite to it - something with more action and that can make me forget MY drama (for the moment at least) and a book that takes place solely in a nunnery isn't it.

Now, I'm on to Susan Carroll's Twilight of a Queen.  I'm certain that my favorite bad girl, Catherine de Medici, will do the trick!

Has there been a book that you just had to give up on simply because of the mood you're in?


New Feature: Series, Trilogies and Sequels, oh my!

I'd like to introduce a new feature on PTTP where I discuss my favorite sets of novels - Series, Trilogies and Sequels, oh my! I am a sucker for a good series and I just know that you'll love them as much as I did.

I've also noticed that I've been focusing too much on new releases (which isn't hard to do when there are so many good ones being released lately), and I want to showcase more of the "must reads" of historical fiction.

For the inaugural post I'd like to feature the most beloved of trilogies to yours truly:

The Welsh trilogy by Sharon Kay Penman. These are honestly the BEST books I have EVER read in my life! Penman can write battle scenes and love stories with equal passion and equal awesomeness. She is known for her historical accuracy and meticulous research. For me, Penman is the ultimate in historical fiction and her novels are most definitely "must reads" for any fan of the genre!

Thirteenth-century Wales is a divided country, ever at the mercy of England’s ruthless, power-hungry King John. Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, secures an uneasy truce by marrying the English king’s beloved illegitimate daughter, Joanna, who slowly grows to love her charismatic and courageous husband. But as John’s attentions turn again and again to subduing Wales---and Llewelyn---Joanna must decide where her love and loyalties truly lie.

The turbulent clashes of two disparate worlds and the destinies of the individuals caught between them spring to life in this magnificent novel of power and passion, loyalty and lies.

Simon de Montfort was a man ahead of his time in the thirteenth century, a disinherited Frenchman who talked his way into an English earldom and marriage with a sister of the English king, Henry III. A charismatic, obstinate leader, Simon soon lost patience with the king’s incompetence and inability to keep his word, and found himself the champion of the common people.

This is his story, and the story of Henry III, as weak and changeable as Simon was brash and unbending. It is a tale of opposing wills that would eventually clash in a storm of violence and betrayal—an irresistible saga that brings the pages of history completely, provocatively, and magnificently alive.

“Never forget, Llewelyn, that the world’s greatest fool is a Welshman who trusts an English king.”

His father’s words haunt Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales, who has been ruling uneasily over his fractious countrymen. Above all else, Llewelyn fears that his life and his own dream—of an independent, united Wales—might be lost to Edward I’s desire to expand his English empire.

Alive from the pages of history, this is the hauntingly beautiful and compelling tale of a game poised to play itself out to its bloody finale as English and Welsh cross swords in a reckoning that must mean disaster for one side or the other.

Your turn, fellow HF junkies - have you read this trilogy? If so, what are your thoughts?


Wordless Wednesday & Today in Herstory


 On July 29, 1565 Mary, Queen of Scots marries Lord Darnley at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Scotland.


books that make you go hmmmm...

Books that make you go hmmm....is a feature where I post about a novel I stumbled across that I'm not quite sure about - novels that can either be really great or really crappy.

If this one book proves to be as tantalizing as the synopsis makes it sound, we are in for a good ride!  

What think you?

From stunning stately homes to the prisons of wartime Britain; from the House of Lords to Edwardian asylums; from the Ritz and the Dorchester to East End pubs, "Splendour and Squalor" tells the stories of four of Britain's most illustrious aristocratic dynasties and of the black sheep who brought them down. They kept monkeys in West End hotels, and rent-boys in Deauville and Kensington. They spiced up life in pre-war Britain by patronizing illegal gaming clubs and staging elaborate five-in-a-bed sex in stately homes. They used firearms with convincing disregard for their own and others' safety and drove their Rollses and Bentleys with apparently suicidal intent. They acquired yachts and helicopters as they shipped the family silver to California and disposed of Old Masters at auction. They married frequently and unsatisfactorily, humiliating their wives and always withholding from them dynastic secrets of schizophrenia and insanity. Lacking the energy and appetite to do so, they rarely developed their talents. Carpeting their lives with deceit, they sought consolation in ferocious expenditure, funding narcotic and alcohol-fueled blow-outs. They ignored the advice of sane relations, shrugged off trustees, and experimented with burglary, shop-lifting, vagrancy and fraud. Their primary, possibly sole, accomplishment was to drag down their families with them. They were the black sheep of aristocracy and this is their story.

Release Date:  November 1, 2009


Review: The King's Grace by Anne Easter Smith

The King's Grace
by Anne Easter Smith


Grace Plantagenet, bastard daughter of King Edward IV of England is only mentioned once in history - in a account written first hand about the small party seen escorting the Dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville’s funeral barge. This lack of the Grace’s historical background provides the author, Anne Easter Smith, complete control over her heroine, which is quite unique in a historical fiction novel (if it’s a GOOD historical fiction novel, that is!).

Grace spends the first 11 years of her life in an abbey, when one day Dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville summons her to court. England is in much turmoil at this time - King Edward IV is dead and the marriage between he and Elizabeth has been declared invalid and their children made bastards, based on the facts now coming to light of Edward’s previous betrothal. Edward’s brother, King Richard III wears the crown, the two York princes and heirs to the throne are in the tower for “safe keeping” and Henry Tudor is threatening to invade.

When Henry Tudor succeeds with his invasion and King Richard III dies in battle, the Tudor Dynasty is born. Edward and Elizabeth’s daughter, Bess, reluctantly marries the usurper and surprisingly they end up very happy together. They will eventually produce four children: Arthur, Mary, Margaret and the infamous, Henry VIII.

As his hold on the crown is not very secure, Henry is constantly fearful and paranoid. He suspects Elizabeth Woodville of plotting against him and sends her to Bermondsey Abbey. Grace accompanies her out of respect and feelings of gratitude, although she never thought she’d be once again in an abbey. This part was really interesting to me – we get to see a softer side of the formidable Woodville woman and even though she’s every bit of a Royal snob, she is a real human being underneath and I actually grew to like her a bit! The proper and moral Good Queen Bess and her less than moral, impetuous sister, Cecily bring amusing moments to the novel and provide a sense of family among the siblings. Grace is the diplomat between these two very strong personalities.

Stories of a young man calling himself Richard, the lost duke of York, begin reaching England. No one knows what to believe – is it the lost prince or a boatman’s son from Tournai named Perkin Warbeck (sp) pretending to be Richard? And if he is just a boatman’s son, how does he know French & Latin? Grace’s inquisitive nature takes her on a mission to find out the truth – for her and for her family. In the end, nothing is quite what it seemed to be.

Not only is The King’s Grace about the mystery of Perkin Warbeck, but of Grace - a girl who is trying to find her own path in life and the obstacles she overcomes to get there. Sweet natured and one for the underdogs, Grace is a pleasure to read about and I truly enjoyed this story. I’m no expert on The Princes in the Tower, so I can’t really comment on Smith’s explanation of the Perkin/Richard debate, but her conclusion doesn’t seem too out there and was believable for me. And the happy ending was a nice change of pace from your usual historical fiction ending.


I am all over this one!

The Burning Times by Jeanne Kalogridis is being re-released by Harper Collins on August 1, 2009!

Medieval France, witchcraft and lust...what more can you want in a novel? I really enjoyed The Borgia Bride and I've heard a lot of good things about I, Mona Lisa, so I am definitely picking this one up!

What about you dear readers?! Are you a Jeanne Kalogridis fan?


A sweeping historical epic and powerful romantic drama set in medieval France: a time of the Great Plague, of witchcraft, and the Inquisition. During the height of superstition, in the midst of the Great Plague, religious fervour and terror of witchcraft sweep fourteenth-century France. Locked in a torture chamber within the walled city of Carcassonne the Abbess Marie Francoise listens helplessly to the screams of her sisters while she awaits the arrival of the Inquisition to take her confession. As relapsa, the worst of heretics, a fiery death awaits her at the stake. The Grand Inquisitor's scribe, Brother Michel, arrives with his mentor, Father Charles, confident that her soul can be saved. But upon meeting the Abbess, Michel is assailed by a sudden, horrifying wave of desire for her: a desire that is both physical, and attended by memories of another man's life; and spiritual: for surely this is the woman he saw with his own eyes perform a miracle outside the Palace of the Popes in holy Avignon? As the Abbess slowly divulges her past, Michel's safe and ordered world is ripped apart. Her tale will shake the very foundation of his belief, while his heart will be trapped between the cleansing fires of Christian purity and the seductive flames of his desire.


Wordless Wednesday

Caerphilly Castle


new Ariana Franklin

Release Date: April 1, 2010

Adelia is back in this thrilling fourth installment of the Mistress of the Art of Death series.

In 1176, King Henry II sends his daughter Joanna to Palermo to marry his cousin, the king of Sicily. Henry chooses Adelia Aguilar, his Mistress of the Art of Death, to travel with the princess and safeguard her health. But when people in the wedding procession are murdered, Adelia and Rowley must discover the killer’s identity . . . and whether he is stalking the princess or Adelia herself.


new EC book trailer for To Defy A King

Elizabeth Chadwick has posted the trailer for her book-in-progress about Mahelt Marshall and Hugh Bigod, To Defy A King!  I really dig these trailers EC puts together, but they drive me cah-rah-zee with anticipation and I want to read it, like, NOW!

Click here to read the latest news on To Defy A King via her blog, Elizabeth Chadwick News.


Mailbox Monday


via Susan Holloway Scott (thanks Susan!)...

The acclaimed author of Duchess and Royal Harlot returns with the unforgettable story of a king’s last love and London’s darling…

Nell Gwyn has never been a lady, nor does she pretend to be. Blessed with impudent wit and saucy beauty, she swiftly rises from the poverty of Covent Garden to become a sensation in the theater. Still in her teens, she catches the eye of King Charles II, and trades the stage for Whitehall Palace—and the role of royal mistress.

Even though she delights the king, she must learn to negotiate the cutthroat royal court, where ambition and lust for power rule the hearts of all around her. For beneath her charm and light-heartedness, Nell has her own ambition—to become no less than the king’s favorite.

via Berkley Trade...

Devastated by the death of the beloved grandfather who raised her, precocious young pianist Eleanor Rose heeds the words of the unknown woman in her dream.

Leaving the security of her privileged life in Boston, she heads for Eden’s Meadow, a Louisiana estate which she has never seen, and which has been closed since her grandmother died there mysteriously twenty-five years earlier. She longs for a tranquil haven in which to nurse her grief and concentrate on her music.

At first Eden’s Meadow seems to be just that. But Eleanor’s shocking discovery of a forgotten painting, the timely arrival of a letter from a man who seems to hold the answers to the questions it raises, and her growing love for an enigmatic Russian musician draw her into a labyrinth of past and present deception, which ultimately threatens her sanity—and her life.

via Berkley Trade...

It is 1859, and Hugh and Serena Hallam have left Charleston society behind to build a new life for themselves and their three children in the near-wilderness of West Tennessee. War may loom on the horizon, but life at their farm, Palmyra, is good, both for their family and—so they convince themselves— their slaves. Young and idealistic, torn between their ambivalence toward slavery and their love of the land, they keep hope that goodwill might yet prevail against the growing hostility dividing the two Americas. But soon, events will move the Hallams’ entire world toward destruction, sweeping Hugh into battle while stranding Serena at a besieged Palmyra. Their values will be tested on the battlefield and at home and in the end only their passionate and enduring love for one another will sustain them as they face the war that transforms a nation.

Mailbox Mondays are hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.


The King's Grace Giveaway!!


All that history knows of Grace Plantagenet is that she was an illegitimate daughter of Edward IV and one of two attendants aboard the funeral barge of his widowed queen. Thus, she was half sister of the famous young princes, who -- when this story begins in 1485 -- had been housed in the Tower by their uncle, Richard III, and are presumed dead.

But in the 1490s, a young man appears at the courts of Europe claiming to be Richard, duke of York, the younger of the boys, and seeking to claim his rightful throne from England's first Tudor king, Henry VII. But is this man who he says he is? Or is he Perkin Warbeck, a puppet of Margaret of York, duchess of Burgundy, who is determined to regain the crown for her York family? Grace Plantagenet finds herself in the midst of one of English history's greatest mysteries. If she can discover the fate of the princes and the true identity of Perkin Warbeck, perhaps she will find her own place in her family.

Giveaway 411:

* Giveaway ends on August 9th. Winner will be announced on August 10th.
* Open to all domestic and international entries. Passages loves her neighbors across the water =)
* For 5 additional entries sign up as a follower; if you already are a follower you will automatically get this.
* For another additional one entry: post, sidebar, facebook or twitter about this giveaway.


books that make you go hmmm...

Release Date: March 23, 2010

A lush and compelling tale of royal intrigue and artistic longing, set in the sixteenth–century Spanish court.

The Creation of Eve is based on the true but little-known story of Sofonisba Anguissola, the first renowned female portraitist of the Renaissance. After a scandal in Michelangelo’s workshop, Sofonisba flees Italy and joins the Spanish court of King Felipe II to be a lady-in-waiting to his young bride. Sofonisba befriends the queen, only to become embroiled in a love triangle involving the queen, the king, and the king’s illegitimate half brother, Don Juan. The Creation of Eve combines art, romance, and history from the golden age in Spain in a story that asks the question: Can you ever truly know another person’s heart?


Future Release: The Queen's Governess by Karen Harper

Release Date:  January 21, 2010

Katherine Ashley, the daughter of a poor country squire, happily secures an education and a place for herself in a noble household. But when Thomas Cromwell, a henchman for King Henry VIII, brings her to the royal court as a spy, Kat enters into a thrilling new world of the Tudor monarchs. Freed from a life of espionage by Cromwell’s downfall, Kat eventually befriends Anne Boleyn. As a dying favor to the doomed queen, Kat becomes governess and surrogate-mother to the young Elizabeth Tudor. Together they suffer bitter exile, assassination attempts, and imprisonment, barely escaping with their lives. But they do, and when Elizabeth is crowned, Kat continues to serve her, faithfully guarding all the queen’s secrets (including Elizabeth’s affair with the dashing Robert Dudley) . . . and ultimately emerging as the lifelong confidante and true mother-figure to Queen Elizabeth.


Announcing the winner of the Sacred Hearts giveaway!

I though I would give the honor to my favorite holy person being that this book deals with nuns.

“Now, who could it be? Could it be ... SATAN?” No it's Deborah - you have won Sacred Hearts! Just respond to my email with your address and I'll get it out to you!

Thanks to all who entered - another great turnout!!!

And here for your enjoyment is a skit of Church Chat. I couldn't find my favorite one - the one with Sean Penn, but this one is funny too!


The Virgin's Daughters Giveaway!

In a court filled with repressed sexual longing, scandal, and intrigue, Lady Katherine Grey is Elizabeth’s most faithful servant. When the young queen is smitten by the dashing Robert Dudley, Katherine must choose between duty and desire—as her secret passion for a handsome earl threatens to turn Elizabeth against her. Once the queen becomes a bitter and capricious monarch, another lady-in-waiting, Mistress Mary Rogers, offers the queen comfort. But even Mary cannot remain impervious to the court’s sexual tension—and as Elizabeth gives her doomed heart to the mercurial Earl of Essex, Mary is drawn to the queen’s rakish godson…

Giveaway 411:

* Giveaway ends on August 3rd. Winner will be announced on August 4th.
* Open to US entries ONLY. Sorry kiddos, I'm not fronting the shipping on this one!
* For 5 additional entries sign up as a follower; if you already are a follower you will automatically get this.
* For another additional one entry: post, sidebar, facebook or twitter about this giveaway.

A BIG THANKS to Kaitlyn at Penguin for making this giveaway happen!

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