May new releases ~ Goin' For Broke!

Holy Moly! The month of May is cah-rah-zee!


Review: The Swan Maiden by Jules Watson


Rating:  5/5

The Swan Maiden is a novel based on the Irish legend of "Deirdre of the Sorrows", written by J.M. Synge.  When Deirdre was a babe, the druid Cathbad  prophesied that she would grow into a great beauty and bring about the downfall of their land.  Ignoring requests that the babe be killed, the King of the Ulaids, Conor decides to hide the child with plans to marry her when she becomes of age.  Conor enlists the help of Levercham, who teaches Dierdre the ways of the Druids.  Attempts to dissuade Conor from his mission of marrying Deirdre fail time and again, much to Levercham's dismay.  When Dierdre hears of this, she can no longer wait around, being fattened up like a pig for the day when Conor comes to collect her.  She runs away and crosses paths with three brothers, Red Branch soldiers famous for their fighting skills, and they decide to help her.  When Conor hears that Deirdre has fled and who she is with, he is beyond furious and pulls no stops to get her back.  Naisi and Deirdre eventually fall in love and despite the brothers' aching for home and their fellow Red Branch soldiers, they find a place of their own and settle in (for a while at least).  They are found and persuaded home with the promises of forgiveness, only to be betrayed by their King, again.  The rest you should read for yourself, I don't want to give it all away!

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book!!!  See, I even put three exclamation points after that sentence, just to make sure you grasp the emotion! Ha!

What I really enjoyed about The Swan Maiden was the way Jules writes about the connection with nature and animals that Deirdre feels.  She describes scenes and it's like you're there (or at least you really, really want to be).  I could even stomach the hunting scenes which I usually skim over.  So many descriptive words come to mind when I think about this book - mythical, surreal, spiritual, magical, echanting.  And the love between Deirdre and Naisi...aaahhh pure magic....the connection they have with each other is so powerful and Jules writes it so well!!

Readers you are in for a treat with this one, you will not want to put it down!  Thanks to Jules Watson for sharing such a wonderful story with me, one that I'll remember for a long time!

Stay tuned, Jules Watson will be here soon for an interview!

Poll: Who is your favorite "She Wolf"?

Inquiring minds want to know...who is your favorite naughty Queen? Which villainous Queen do you like to read about?

Catherine de Medici, Margaret of Anjou, Elizabeth Woodville or Isabella of France

The poll is on the left hand side of my blog....please cast your vote!

Wordless Wednesday

 Isle of Skye, Scotland

I reconnected with my love of Scotland yesterday as I was grazing the website of Jules Watson (a must read BTW).  Have you ever felt connected to a land that you have never been to, in a way that is hard to explain, even to yourself?  That is how I feel about Scotland.

Also on Jules' site is an old Scottish song sang (her favorite) by her husband and you have got to listen to it's one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard and he sounds fantastic.  I must have listen to it a dozen times.  It's under her About Me section on her website.  Enjoy!!

friendly zombie chickens!

Lookie, lookie....TeddyRee from
The Eclectic Reader passed on this cool award to me! Isn't she the bestest?!

Below are the bloggers I'd like to share the love with:

Michele from A Reader's Respite

I also received two more awards that I've passed on already, but I wanted to mention them because they make me so happy =)

I received the Lets Be Friends Award from Jessica Marie at Books Love Jessica Marie! She really is one of the nicest bloggers out there!

Award 411: Blogs that received the Let’s Be Friends Award are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.

"The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all..."

Mailbox Monday!


Happy Monday to you, my lovely readers!  I had a quiet mailbox this past's all about the quality, not the quantity!  What goodies did you get?

new Lindsey Davis

US Release Date: October 27, 2009

Description: "Rebels and Traitors" is a ground-breaking departure for this most admired of British authors, returning to Lindsey's first love in historical fiction, the English Civil War. Sweeping in scope and fraught with the same drama and passion, Lindsey's epic novel does the same for this conflict as Margaret Mitchell's "Gone with the Wind" did for the American Civil War. "Rebels and Traitors" is a masterpiece of historical storytelling which tells with startling realism what it was like to have fought in the front line of the battles and politics of the era. It tells the story of a man, Gideon Jukes and a woman Juliana Lovell, caught on opposite sides of the Parliamentarian/Royalist divide but fated to be brought together by adversity, loss and mutual attraction. But before this can happen, the terrible events of the seven years that King Charles waged war on his own people must be endured, and then, the day in January 1649 when the world was turned upside down and the King was executed. It is in this crucible that Gideon and Juliana love will be forged.

new non-fiction coming your way!

UK Release Date:  October 1, 2009

 The story of the English marriage is unique and eccentric. Long after the rest of Europe and neighbouring Scotland had reformed their marriage laws, England clung to the chaotic and contradictory laws of the medieval Church, making it all too easy to enter into a marriage but virtually impossible to end an unhappy one.

If England was a ‘paradise for wives’ it could only have been through the feistiness of the women. Married women were placed in the same legal category as lunatics. While Englishmen prided themselves on their devotion to liberty, their wives were no freer than slaves. It was a husband’s jealously guarded right to beat his wife, as long as the stick was no bigger than his thumb. Only after 1882 could a married woman even retain her own property.

But then marriage was all about property in a society which was both mercenary and violent, where a girl was virtually sold into marriage and a price was put on a wife’s chastity.

With a cast of hundreds, from loyal and devoted wives in troubled times to those who featured in notorious trials for adultery, from abusive husbands whose excesses were only gradually curbed by the law to the modern phenomenon of the toxic wife, acclaimed historian Maureen Waller draws on intimate letters, diaries, court documents and advice books to trace the evolution of the English marriage. It is social history at its most revealing, astonishing and entertaining.

 UK Release Date:  September 17, 2009

The tales of the various monarchs of Britain are some of the most interesting in our history. From Henry VIII and his six wives and Edward VIII's abdication to some of our lesser known and mythical monarchs such as King Arthur, "Divorced, Beheaded, Died..." takes you on a gallop through the history of Britain's monarchs from the legendary King Brutus, through the houses of Tudor and Stuart, and up to the Windsors, including the major monarchs of Scotland and Wales. Discover the sticky end that befell Edward II, the story of the teenage queen of England who reigned for less than a fortnight, and find out whether Macbeth really was a king of Scotland. Presented in an accessible, chronological format, "Divorced, Beheaded, Died..." will fill all those gaps in your history knowledge, together with some fascinating and amusing facts that are guaranteed to entertain any history enthusiast.

US Release Date:  July 27, 2009

Mary, Queen of Scots lived during one of the most fascinating periods in history. Graham’s epic work paints a unique picture of this controversial woman, showing her to be neither a Catholic martyr nor murdering adulteress but a passive young woman caught up in the ruthless sea of sixteenth-century politics who lacked the shrewdness and empowerment of her contemporaries—Catherine de Medici, Diane de Poitiers and Elizabeth Tudor. Instead, she relied on her beauty and charm and allowed herself to be a victim of circumstance. When she did finally attempt to control her future, she set in motion the events that would lead her to the executioner’s block.

Guest Post: David S. Brody of Cabal of the Westford Knight

Passages to the Past
is pleased to bring you a guest post from
David S. Brody, author of Cabal of the Westford Knight! Welcome David!

While trying to help an elderly couple save their home, attorney Cameron Thorne is thrust into a bloody tug-of-war involving secret societies, treasure hunters and keepers of the secrets of the Jesus bloodline. Joined by Amanda, a beautiful British researcher with secrets of her own, Cam races around New England with only two choices, unravel the 600-year-old mysteries encoded in the ancient Templar artifacts or die trying.
Take it away David:

Experts stubbornly cling to the outdated notion that not a single European explorer visited our shores during the 500 year gap between the Vikings and Christopher Columbus. Numerous artifacts scattered around New England tell us otherwise:

Rhode Island’s Newport Tower—a round stone tower built in medieval fashion—has long been thought to be a colonial windmill. But a mortar sample from an archeological dig was recently carbon-dated to the mid-1400s.
Maine’s Spirit Pond Rune Stones are shoebox-size stones inscribed with medieval runic lettering. The stones contain a rare runic character that links the stones to other North American rune stones
The Narragansett Rune Stone is a runic inscription engraved on a boulder in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay. The inscription, visible only for 20 minutes a day at low tide, contains the same rare, medieval runic character as the Spirit Pond stones.
The Westford Knight is a carving of a medieval battle sword pecked into a rock outcropping in Westford, Massachusetts. (Portions of the inscription depicting a medieval knight carrying a shield have largely faded.) This carving may have been left as a memorial to a fallen knight by a group of 14th-century Scottish explorers led by Prince Henry Sinclair. Details of this journey are recounted in a 16th-century chronicle known as the Zeno Narrative, written by the descendants of the original admiral of the Sinclair fleet.

The authenticity of these artifacts was recently buttressed by research conducted on Minnesota’s Kensington Rune Stone, a tombstone-size slab dated 1362 and inscribed with medieval runic lettering similar to that found on the New England rune stones. A renowned geologist studying the weathering patterns of the minerals within the rock’s inscriptions determined the stone to be an authentic medieval artifact.

So what do these artifacts tell us about the medieval explorers and why they were here? There is some evidence and much informed speculation indicating that Sinclair—clan chief of the prominent Knights Templar family made famous by Dan Brown as carrying the blood line of Jesus—led a band of outlawed religious warriors to the New World in the late 1300s to escape Church persecution and form an alternative, liberalized version of Christianity based on its “pagan,” nature-oriented roots. In fact, Sinclair’s grandson later built Scotland’s Roslyn Chapel, a monument to pagan imagery and iconography.

Excerpt from Cabal of the Westford Knight:

The Monsignor crossed himself and bowed his head in a quick, silent prayer. He lifted his head and nodded, a nod that indicated agreement rather than merely understanding. “I need to be careful here — you and I, as attorney and priest, we are required to keep certain communications in strict confidence. So please excuse my oblique approach to this conversation.” He took a deep breath. “In the event you intend to continue to represent Mr. and Mrs. Gendron in this matter….” He paused and raised an eyebrow, offering Cam the opportunity to respond.

“Yes, I do. They need my help, and I’m responsible for what happened to Brandon — ”

The Monsignor lifted a hand to stop him, the silk robe rustling. “Nonsense. You did not plant the bomb. Whoever did so will have to answer to the proper authorities. In this world and the next.”

“Well, that may be but the Bobcat idea was mine.” He shivered, remembering Brandon’s bloodied body. “I’ll continue to represent them as long as they want me to. And I’m going to find out who did this to Brandon.”

“Good. I think they still need you. But I will suggest that you are only scratching the surface of this mystery, Mr. Thorne.”

“Wait. How do you know my name?”

The priest smiled. “I am familiar with your work in the sex abuse scandal cases.”

He appreciated Marcotte’s candor. In all the months he worked on the case, nobody from the Church had ever referred to the case as a sex abuse scandal. It was always ‘the allegations’ or ‘the incident’ or ‘the unfortunate conduct.’

“It took a lot of courage for you to do what you did. Leaking that testimony forced the Church to confront its crimes, to deal with its victims. Not many lawyers would have done what you did, risking your career like that.”

Cam smiled wryly. “Priests and lawyers. Not exactly the most popular members of society right now, are we?”

And to think, mothers used to dream of their children becoming lawyers or clergymen.” He took a deep breath. “But, getting back to the matter at hand, my recommendation is that you make an appointment with a young woman named Amanda Spencer. You can reach her through the Westford library. Do so soon. I’ve never met her personally but I believe she can shed some light on this matter.” He lifted his hand and stroked his chin. “But be careful. As you have seen, this is a volatile situation.”

Cam looked back toward the driveway. “I doubt McLovick will try anything else. He knows the police will be watching him.”

“Regarding Mr. McLovick, consider this: If he planted the bomb, it means he is certain there is a treasure buried here, which makes him — whether in jail or not — a continuing danger.” The Monsignor raised his index finger. “But perhaps he had nothing to do with the bomb. And if that is the case, then I think the danger is even greater.”

“I don’t follow.” Perhaps because his head was still ringing like a church bell.

“Well, if Mr. McLovick didn’t plant the bomb, then someone else did. Someone who saw the Bobcat and wants to keep both the Gendrons and Mr. McLovick from digging. Someone who probably knows for certain what is buried in the back yard.

“Well, then, who?”

The Monsignor shrugged. If he knew, he wasn’t telling.

Cam eyed the priest. Marcotte held his gaze without blinking, a steady, kind half-smile on his face. The words the bailiff used in the courtroom while swearing in witnesses popped into his head: “The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” He believed the priest was telling the truth and also probably nothing but the truth. But the whole truth, now that might be a different story.

The police finished questioning the Gendrons and Emily immediately broke away and moved toward Cam and Father Marcotte. The Monsignor turned to embrace her before glancing back at Cam. “Make sure you contact Ms. Spencer. I think you’ll be fascinated by what you learn.”


David S. Brody is a Boston Globe bestselling author named “Best Local Author” by the Boston Phoenix newspaper. He is a Director at Large of the New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA). A real estate attorney, he resides in Westford, Massachusetts with his wife, novelist Kimberly Scott, and their two daughters. He coaches youth sports and Special Olympics and plays in adult hockey and softball leagues.

David's Blog and Website.

don't kill the messenger...

Here are a few more reasons your pocketbook is not going to like me...

US Release Date: July 21, 2009

Catherine de Medici is one of the most maligned monarchs in history: blamed for the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in which hundreds of innocents died. What motivated this Renaissance woman who was born of Florence’s most powerful family, and one day came to rule France?

In her latest historical fiction bestseller, Jeanne Kalogridis tells the story of Caterina, a tender young girl, destined to be a pawn in Machiavellian games. Left a fabulously rich heiress, imprisoned and threatened by her family’s enemies, she was finally married off to a handsome prince of France.

Overshadowed by her husband’s mistress, the conniving Diane de Poitiers, and now consort to a King, Catherine resorted to sorcery to win his love, enhance her fertility and foil her enemies. Against the lavish and decadent backdrop of the French court, and Catherine’s visions induced by the black arts, Kalogoris reveals the great love and desire Catherine bore for her husband Henry, and her stark determination to keep her sons on the throne.

US Release Date: October 1, 2009

In Regency London, the only way for a woman to succeed is to beat men at their own game. So when Mary Anne Clarke seeks an escape from her squalid surroundings in Bowling Inn Alley, she ventures first into the scurrilous world of the pamphleteers. Her personal charms are such, however, that before long she comes to the notice of the Duke of York. With her taste for luxury and power, Mary Anne, now a royal mistress, must aim higher. Her lofty connections allow her to establish a thriving trade in military commissions, provoking a scandal that rocks the government - and brings personal disgrace. A vivid portrait of overweening ambition, MARY ANNE is set during the Napoleonic Wars and based on du Maurier's own great-great- grandmother.

US Release Date: October 1, 2009

Can't locate synopsis, however Daphne at Tanzanite's Shelf and Stuff reviewed this book a few years ago - click here to read!

US Release Date: September 15, 2009

Michelle Moran returns with another riveting and untold historical tale set against the backdrop of Egypt's demise. Following Cleopatra and Marc Antony's deaths, their three children - twins named Alexander and Selene plus a younger son named Ptolemy - are exiled from Egypt and sent to Rome in chains to be raised in one of the most fascinating (and dangerous) courts of all time. Cleopatra's Daughter is the remarkable true story of what happens to these three surviving children as seen through the eyes of Selene. Their adaptation to Roman culture, their treatment as both a curiosity and a threat, and Selene's perilous journey to adulthood, are all chronicled in the elegant detail and gripping pace for which Michelle Moran is celebrated.

books that make you go hmmm...

This one sounds good, but I've never read Barbara Ewing.  Have any of you read her?

US & UK Release Date:  July 31, 2009
1765. Filipo di Vecellio of Florence, portrait painter, is the toast of London: rich, successful, and married to Angelica, known as the most beautiful woman in the city. Their Pall Mall home is the hub of the art world; their impressive social gatherings run so smoothly by Filipo's silent sister, Francesca. But beneath the surface, the house conceals a swarm of dangerous secrets. Where does Francesca di Vecellio go as the sun sets over Covent Garden? And why are there always candles lit in her attic, while no candles burn for her brother's exquisite wife? Within the bustling artistic lives of the di Vecellios hides corruption and lies; love and tragedy. And wild ambition unbalances the capital's art world as, finally, a wonderful portrait battles for the right to paint the truth ...

Wordless Wednesday

Welsh countryside
I just finished The Swan Maiden and the minute I saw this picture, I though of Dierdre - this could have been the woods in Alba she loved.

Review: Julia and the Master of Morancourt by Janet Aylmer

Rating:  4.5/5

Isn't it the BEST when you find a new author and you just love their book?!?  I sure's like opening up a whole new world with new adventures.  It reminds me of when I find a new music artist -  suddenly you're thrust into this new realm of thinking - you see the world as they see it; through their eyes, their experiences and it's fascinating!  And you are the more worldly for it!  Not sure where I was going with the whole music reference, but anyway, trust me when I say you'll be happy to have found Janet Aylmer!

Julia Maitland had an idyllic childhood with her brother and younger sisters on her family's estate in rural Derbyshire. Upon reaching marriageable age, she looked forward to everything that her new status could bring: the excitements of her first “season” in society, a choice of handsome suitors, and—hopefully—a blissful future with a man she cherishes.

But Julia's prospects take a disastrous turn with the sudden and unbearably tragic death of her soldier brother in the war against Napoleon and the loss of her father's investments. Within the span of a few weeks, she finds herself in London, then fashionable Bath, and ultimately chasing smugglers through the countryside in coastal Dorset. Yet through all the drama and turmoil she keeps alive her hopes for happiness and a love passionate, powerful, and true. 
I'm not a big romance reader, but the one type of romance I can read is of the Regency variety.  Up to this point I've only read Georgette Heyer regency romance novels and absolutely adore them.  This novel is very Heyer-ish, though without Heyer's signature wit.  It's a nice, easy read and at 240 pages, it can be devoured in one sitting, which is what I did.  This book is also great for the romance readers that don't necessarily want bodice's definitely PG rated.  But for the others who don't mind a little lovin', don't worry, the love story isn't boring! 

I was very happy to hear that Ms. Aylmer is planning on two more novels after this, depicting the lives of Julia's two sisters - Sophie - spontaneous and full of life and the sweet, docile, Harriet.  I am very much looking forward to reading about Sophie in particular - I love the naughty ones!
I very much recommend!

Please note that Julia and the Master of Morancourt is being released TODAY!!! 

Website of Janet Aylmer.


New Giveaway! The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner!


The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner is the new novel up for grabs for one lucky reader - thanks to C.W. Gortner!  The paperback issue of The Last Queen will be released on May 5, 2009!  C.W. will also be stopping by PTTP on May 6th for an interview!

Giveaway 411:
  • Giveaway ends on May 4th. Winner will be announced on May 5th.
  • Open to all domestic and international entries. Passages loves our 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 about this giveaway.
Good luck to everyone!

good morning sunshine, you are the winner of The Tory Widow Giveaway!


Without further ado...the moment you've all been waiting for...the three lucky winners of The Tory Widow Giveaway (with special gift) are:

Darby from darbyscloset 
Mishel from mis(h)takes
Jessica Marie from bookslovejessicamarie

 Alright ladies, send me an email with your address and I will forward on to Christine - she'll be handling the shipping!  I hope all of you enjoy!

Thanks to everyone for entering this giveaway...stay tuned for another one in the next few days or so!

Sunday Salon


Bonjour à tous mes amis!  Hello to all of my friends!

Let me first apologize for being rather quiet the past week or so, with both posting and commenting.  Work has been busier than usual with some special projects and then once home my attention span is shot and my brain is mush.  

 So, let's see...where to start...I'm still reading The Swan Maiden by Jules Watson - I should be done with it by now, but you know, the whole attention span thing.  It's a fantastic book, one you can really get lost in for hours.  I still owe you guys a review on Julia and The Master of Morancourt by Janet Aylmer, which was really great - that should be up this week.  Tomorrow I will be announcing the three winners of The Tory Widow Giveaway!  Good luck to all 133 of you!  Geesh...that is a lot of entries...thank you!  Stay tuned in the next few days or so for the announcement of the next PTTP Giveaway of...The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner.  This is anticipation of the paperback version being released on May 5, 2009! 

Congrats to all of you who participated in the Dewey 24 hour Read A Thon!  I have alot of posts to catch up on regarding this - it looks like a lot of you took part - very cool!  

I hope everyone has a great week! 

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