Mailbox Monday

Another Monday, Another Mailbox!! This is a feature where we all share with each other the yummy books that showed up at our doors! WARNING: Mailbox Mondays can lead to extreme envy and GINORMOUS wishlists!!

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

I had another HF-tastic week! 

by Emery Lee

Release Date:  April 1, 2010
Acquired via Sourcebooks Publishing

SYNOPSIS:  All thoroughbred horses in the world to this very day can trace their blood back to three specific Arabian stallions imported to England in the early part of the 18th century. Against this backdrop comes a painstakingly researched novel with breathtaking scenes of real races, real horses, glimpses of the men who cared for them, and the tensions of those who owned and controlled them.

In 18th century England and Colonial Virginia, when high-spirited stallions filled the stables of the lords of the land and fortunes were won and lost on the outcome of a race, a love story unfolds between a young woman for whom her uncle's horses are her only friends and the young man who teaches her everything about their care and racing. When she's forced into marriage, his only hope of winning her back is to race his horse to reclaim all that was stolen from him—his land, his dignity, and his love.

by Clare Clark

Release Date:  February 2, 2010
Acquired by GoodReads First Reads

SYNOPSIS: It is 1704 and, while the Sun King Louis XIV rules France from the splendour of Versailles, Louisiana, the new and vast colony named in his honour, is home to fewer than two hundred souls. When a demand is sent requesting wives be dispatched for the struggling settlers, Elisabeth is among the twenty-three girls who set sail from France to be married to men of whom they know absolutely nothing. Educated and skeptical, Elisabeth has little hope for happiness in her new life. It is to her astonishment that she, alone among the brides, finds herself passionately in love with her new husband, Jean-Claude, a charismatic and ruthlessly ambitious soldier. 

Auguste, a poor cabin boy from Rochefort, must also adjust to a startlingly unexpected future. Abandoned in a remote native village, he is charged by the colony’s governor with mastering the tribe’s strange language while reporting back on their activities. It is there that he is befriended by Elisabeth’s husband as he begins the slow process of assimilation back into life among the French. 
The love Elisabeth and Auguste share for Jean-Claude changes both of their lives irrevocably. When in time he betrays them both, they find themselves bound together in ways they never anticipated. 

by Dara Horn

Release Date:  March 8, 2010
Acquired by W. W. Norton Publishing

SYNOPSIS:   How is tonight different from all other nights? For Jacob Rappaport, a Jewish soldier in the Union Army, it is a question his commanders have answered for him: on Passover, 1862, he is ordered to murder his own uncle, who is plotting to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. After this harrowing mission, Jacob is recruited to pursue another enemy agent—this time not to murder the spy, but to marry her. Based on real historical figures, this eagerly awaited novel from award-winning author Dara Horn delivers multilayered, page-turning storytelling at its best.



Dante, Beatrice and La Vita Nuova

As part of the Historical Fiction Round Table event for O, Juliet, I bring you a creative post written by yours truly about the great poet, Dante Alighieri, his muse, Beatrice and the poem, La Vita Nuova.

Dante, Beatrice & La Vita Nuova

In O, Juliet, the star-crossed lovers share a mutual admiration of a Medieval poet by the name of Dante Alighieri, most commonly known to us as just plain Dante. One of his works, La Vita Nuova, is particularly referred to throughout the novel. In it, Dante speaks of his ever-lasting love for a woman named Beatrice and it got me wondering who this woman was and the story behind their relationship.

La Vita Nuova was written in 1295, in a combination of both prose and verse and was unique in that it was written in Italian and not the usual Latin. Dante’s reason behind writing La Vita Nuova, was to write something that has “never been written for any woman”. It begins with Dante first meeting Beatrice when they were around 9 years old. For Dante, it was love at first sight.

Dante's first meeting with Beatrice
“Nine times already since my birth the heaven of light had almost revolved to the self-same point when my mind’s glorious lady first appeared to my eyes, she who was called by many Beatrice (‘she who confers blessing’), by those who did not know what it meant to so name her. She had already lived as long in this life as in her time the starry heaven had moved east the twelfth part of one degree, so that she appeared to me almost at the start of her ninth year, and I saw her almost at the end of my ninth. She appeared dressed in noblest colour, restrained and pure, in crimson, tied and adorned in the style that then suited her very tender age.

At that moment I say truly that the vital spirit, that which lives in the most secret chamber of the heart began to tremble so violently that I felt it fiercely in the least pulsation, and, trembling, it uttered these words: ‘Ecce deus fortior me, qui veniens dominabitur michi: Behold a god more powerful than I, who, coming, will rule over me."

Their next meeting isn’t until nine years later…

"Dante meets Beatrice (in yellow) at Ponte Santa Trinita" by Henry Holiday
From La Vita Nuova…
“When so many days had passed that exactly nine years were completed since the appearance of this most gracious being I have written of above, it happened, on the last of these days, that this marvellous lady appeared to me, dressed in the whitest of white, between two gracious ladies who were of greater age: and passing through a street she turned her eyes to the place where I stood greatly fearful, and, with her ineffable courtesy, that is now rewarded in a greater sphere, she greeted me so virtuously, so much so that I saw then to the very end of grace. The hour at which her so sweet greeting welcomed me was exactly the ninth of that day, and because it was the first time that her words deigned to come to my ears, I found such sweetness that I left the crowd as if intoxicated, and I returned to the solitude of my own room, and fell to thinking of this most gracious one.”

So, who was this woman that had captured Dante’s heart to the point where his “spirit was completely dedicated to thoughts of that most graceful one”? Not much is known about her really, besides her fame from Dante’s writings, she would’ve been largely unknown. We know that she was a 13th century Florentine woman named Beatrice Portinari, or known among friends, Bice. Though she was married to another and then died at the age of 24, Dante would remain loyally devoted to his Beatrice throughout his life.

"Beata Beatrix" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

In La Vita Nuova, Dante says of the passing of his love…
Beatrice has gone to the highest Heaven,
to the realm where the angels have peace,
and stays with them, and has left you ladies:
no quality of coldness took her,
or of heat, as it is with others,
but it was only her great gentleness:
since light from her humility
pierced the skies with so much virtue,
that it made the Eternal Lord marvel,
so that a sweet desire
moved him to claim such greeting:
and called her from the heights to come to him,
since he saw our harmful life
was not worthy of such a gentle one.

"Dante's Dream at the Time of the Death of Beatrice" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Beatrice also features in Dante's The Divine Comedy. In it, Beatrice takes over as Dante’s guide from Mount Purgatory to Paradise.

Dante’s love for Beatrice influenced several Pre-Raphaelite painters, including Dante Rosetti and John William Waterhouse.

"Dante and Beatrice" by John William Waterhouse

"Beatrice" by John William Waterhouse



Announcing the O, Juliet Giveaway!

To help celebrate the release of Robin Maxwell's new novel, O, Juliet and the associated HF Round Table event, I have a copy to give away to one lucky winner!

Giveaway is open to US and International entries.  Giveaway ends on February 12th.

SYNOPSIS:  Before Juliet Capelletti lie two futures: a traditionally loveless marriage to her father's business partner, or the fulfillment of her poetic dreams, inpired by the great Dante. Unlike her beloved friend Lucrezia, who looks forward to her arranged marriage into the Medici dynasty, Juliet has a wild, romantic imagination that takes flight in the privacy of her bedchamber and on her garden balcony.

Her life and destiny are forever changed when Juliet meets Romeo Monticecco, a soulful young man seeking peace between their warring families. A dreamer himself, Romeo is unstoppable, once he determines to capture the heart of the remarkable woman foretold in his stars.

Read my review HERE.

Want more chances to win?  Hop on over to my fellow HF Round Table ladies and improve your chances:

Allie at Hist-Fic Chick
Arleigh at
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Lizzy at Historically Obsessed
Lucy at Enchanted by Josephine
Marie at The Burton Review
Susie at All Things Royal

Good Luck!!!



February Releases in HF/NF



color me a proud mama

I'd like to share with all of you a poem that my 13 year old daughter wrote for a class project.  It's based off of the poem, Mother to Son by Langston Hughes, and the assignment was to follow the format, but put your own spin on it. 

I seriously teared up when I read it last night and am still beaming with pride today.  Her talent never fails to impress and surprise me - I am so proud to be her mother. 

And now, without further ado, I bring to you the literary debut of my daughter, Bella...

Well, darling, I'll tell you:
Love for me ain't been no calm ocean
It's had sharks in it,
And urchins,
And jellyfish,
And turtles with no shells on their backs--
But all the time
I'se been swimming away,
And floating on currents,
And touching bouys,
And sometimes diving so deep
Where there ain't been no life.
So noe, don't you drown.
Don't you quit paddling
'Cause you are too tired.
Don't you stop now --
For I'se still swimmin', honey,
I'se still diving.
And love for me ain't no calm ocean.

Bella 2009 (photo by me)



2010 Release: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees

by Kelly O'Connor McNees

US & UK Release Date:  April 1, 2010

SYNOPSIS:  Millions of readers have fallen in love with Little Women. But how could Louisa May Alcott—who never had a romance—write so convincingly of love and heartbreak without experiencing it herself?

Deftly mixing fact and fiction, Kelly O’Connor McNees imagines a love affair that would threaten Louisa’s writing career— and inspire the story of Jo and Laurie in Little Women. Stuck in small-town New Hampshire in 1855, Louisa finds herself torn between a love that takes her by surprise and her dream of independence as a writer in Boston. The choice she must make comes with a steep price that she will pay—for the rest of her life.

Pre-order at:  PTTP's Amazon US Store | PTTP's Amazon UK Store



Review: O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell

O, Juliet
by Robin Maxwell

Like a lot of the world, I’ve been captivated by the story of Romeo and Juliet ever since the first time I read it. I was drawn in by the all-consuming passion these two characters felt for each other and the sad circumstances that led to their end. I remember thinking to myself that when I grown up I hope to have the chance to feel such an awe-inspiring love for another person. And once I met my husband, I knew what it was to feel that. It’s exhilarating, but scary at the same time!

In O, Juliet Robin Maxwell tackles her own version of Shakespeare’s golden couple – bringing new characters and plots into the mix. Juliet Capalleti is the 18 year old daughter of a prominent Florentine silk tradesman, and about to be married to a hideous soon-to-be business partner of her father’s, Jacopo. While loath to let his daughter go, this is the only way he can think of to save the family business. Jacopo, on the other hand, is quite happy with the situation – he gets to be part of Florence’s most famous silk producer and he also gets a wife, whom he plans on using as a baby-making machine, while still enjoying his mistresses.

One night, while attending her best friend’s party, Juliet meets Romeo, a member of the Capalleti’s rival family – the Monticecco’s. Drawn together by their mutual love of prose, in particular, that of Dante Alighieri, the teenagers fall in love and begin to meet in secret - their affection for each other growing with each meeting. As the time for Juliet’s wedding to Jacopo draws closer, they become more and more desperate to find a way to be together.

All in all, I found O, Juliet to be a very pleasant and mellifluous read. Maxwell is an excellent author – her descriptions of Florence and her ability to bring uniqueness to each character is a real telling of her talent. Juliet is sweet, feisty, intelligent young woman, in love with the written word and not afraid to go after what she wants! And Romeo, oh Romeo, is such a charming and gentle soul…add into that a romantic poet and you’ve got one irresistible guy! Now, I do have one critique about this book – it wasn’t long enough! I wanted more!

O, Juliet is a great novel to curl up to by the fire, sipping hot cocoa (cause chocolate is an aphrodisiac), with a little Barry White playing in the background!

Chocked full of passion, love and poetry, O, Juliet would be a welcome addition to any literature lover’s bookshelf!

Check back in a few days for a giveaway announcement to win your very own copy of O, Juliet!

For more reviews on O, Juliet:

The Burton Review
Enchanted by Josephine



Review: The Book of Fires by Jane Borodale

The Book of Fires
by Jane Borodale

SUMMARY: It’s 1752 and in a small town in England a young Agnes Trussel finds herself in a very delicate situation. She is pregnant and unwed and completely unsure of what to do. All she can think of to do is leave and one morning she sneaks out of her childhood home and runs away to London.

18th century London is a dirty, over-populated and scary place to be, especially for a country girl and Agnes is overwhelmed and fearful that she won’t be able to find a job or lodging. A help wanted sign draws her to the home of Mr. Blacklock, a fireworks maker, where she is hired as his assistant. Agnes blossoms in her new role and as time goes by she is shown to have a real talent in the art of firework making. Sensing a kindred spirit Blacklock takes Agnes under his wing and together they set out to make some of the world’s most incredible fireworks. Agnes is thrilled with her new venture, but there’s one thing that threatens to ruin it all – her advancing pregnancy.

MY THOUGHTS: I really thought I would like this book much better than I did and now that I’m reading through reviews on Amazon, it seems my 3 star rating is in the minority. Borodale’s writing wasn’t bad, but the story itself just didn’t make sense at times and the characters were pretty one dimensional – the lack of depth made it hard to feel any sympathy for any of them. The pregnancy aspect got on my nerves too – between several attempts at aborting the baby (which never worked) and trying to snare a guy just to try and pass it off as his (and this while she was in her last trimester). I mean, how the heck did she think that would work? Also, no one in the household noticed that she was with child, but whenever she would run into someone on the street, the first thing their eyes focused on was her belly. Ugh – it drove me crazy!!

One of the reasons why this book appealed to me in the first place was that it was marketed as reminiscent of The Year of Wonders, which is a book that I adore, but I have no idea where they came up with that from. It’s nothing like it, not one bit. I realize they are both about a woman prevailing over diversity, but that’s the extent of it – one novel is about a town wiped out by the plague and the other about an un-wed, pregnant girl in London, making fireworks.

I would’ve given this book 2.5 stars, but the ending brought it up a bit to 3 stars. This is the author’s first novel and while I didn’t care for it, I would most definitely read her again, as I sense a real budding talent on the HF scene!

FCC: This book was given to me for review by Viking Press.



Announcing the next HF Bloggers Round Table event...O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell

This month for the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table we are spotlighting Robin Maxwell's new novel, O, Juliet!  And boy, have we got some goodies lined up for you!!

ABOUT THE BOOK: “One of the queens of historical fiction” offers a new take on the mesmerizing young woman and poetess who inspired Shakespeare’s most famous female character.

Before Juliet Capelletti lie two futures: a traditionally loveless marriage to her father’s business partner, or the fulfillment of her poetic dreams, inspired by the great Dante. Unlike her beloved friend Lucrezia, who looks forward to her arranged marriage into the Medici dyansty, Juliet has a wild, romantic imagination that takes flight in the privacy of her bedchamber and on her garden balcony.

Her life and destiny are forever changed when Juliet meets Romeo Monticecco, a soulful young man seeking peace between their warring families. A dreamer himself, Romeo is unstoppable, once he determines to capture the heart of the remarkable woman foretold in his stars. The breathless intrigue that ensues is the stuff of beloved legend. But those familiar with Shakespeare’s muse know only half the story…”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robin Maxwell is a screenwriter and the award winning author of eight historical novels, including: The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, The Queen’s Bastard, Virgin: Prelude to the Throne, The Wild Irish: A Novel of Elizabeth I and the Pirate O’Malley, To The Tower Born: A Novel of the Lost Princes, Mademoiselle Boleyn, and Signora da Vinci.  Her latest novel, O, Juliet releases in stores 2/2.  She is also a contributor to The Huffington Post, where she has written such articles as “The Swiftboating of Anne Boleyn”.  She resides in the high desert of California with her husband, yogi Max Thomas.  Visit her on her website or on her blog at

VISIT ROBIN’S BLOG TO PARTICIPATE IN THE O, JULIET LOVE GAMES! Robin hosts challenges and giveaways on her blog,  In Robin’s own words: “I think I can safely say that everyone wishes for love in her or his life, but there are too few safe places where this vital human emotion can be openly discussed. So with Romeo and Juliet as ‘guardian angels,’ my new blog will host the ‘O, JULIET Love Games,’ a forum where in coming months — through chats, challenges, giveaways and competitions — we will explore the way romance informs, defines and illuminates our lives.”  Head over there to participate in the Love Poetry Competition (the winner will receive a finished copy of O, Juliet and a beautiful leather-bound notebook), and the Words of Love Challenge (the winner will receive a finished copy of O, Juliet and a hand-blown glass heart necklace).

Can’t wait until 2/2 to get your fill of Romeo and Juliet?  Click the image below to read a sneak peek of this wonderfully heart-wrenching new novel!


Schedule of Events:

January 25th – Q&A with Robin Maxwell on the HFBRT, Lucy’s Book Review at Enchanted by Josephine, Allie’s Creative Post: “Romeo & Juliet in Art” at Hist-fic Chick, Arleigh’s Creative Post: "Versions of Romeo & Juliet Throughout History" at

January 26th – Amy’s Book Review at Passages to the Past, Lizzy’s Creative Post: “Romeo & Juliet Original Artwork by Elizabeth Johnson” at Historically Obsessed, and Susie’s Creative Post: “The Life of William Shakespeare Part I” at All Things Royal.

January 27th – Robin Maxwell Guest Post at Hist-fic Chick, Heather’s Creative Post: “Lucrezia Tournabouni” at The Maiden’s Court, Marie’s Book Review at The Burton Review.

January 28th – Lizzy’s Creative Post: “The Duel” at Historically Obsessed, and Susie’s Book Review at All Things Royal.

January 29th – Arleigh’s Book Review at, and Susie’s Creative Post: “The Life of William Shakespeare Part II” at All Things Royal.

January 30th – Heather’s Book Review at The Maiden’s Court, Marie’s Creative Post: "Tragic Romance in Literature" at The Burton Review, Allie’s Creative Post: “Romeo & Juliet in Fashion Photography” at Hist-fic Chick.

January 31st – Amy’s Creative Post: “Dante Alighieri” at Passages to the Past, Lizzy’s Book Review at Historically Obsessed.

February 1st – Q&A Survey Discussion on the HFBRT, Allie’s Book Review at Hist-fic Chick, Lucy’s Creative Post: “Verona” at Enchanted by Josephine, Susie’s Creative Post: “The Life of William Shakespeare Part III” at All Things Royal.

February 2nd – O, Juliet Book Release Date, Summary of Events at HFBRT.

I hope to see you all at our events!!



Mailbox Monday

Another Monday, Another Mailbox!! This is a feature where we all share with each other the yummy books that showed up at our doors! WARNING: Mailbox Mondays can lead to extreme envy and GINORMOUS wishlists!!

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

Quality over quantity prevailed this week and I received one of my most anticipated reads of 2010...C.W. Gortner's new novel, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici! It's taking every ounce of will power not to jump right on it - although I do restrain myself from sleeping with it ;-)  Confessions will be the May event for the HF Bloggers Round Table and I am really excited about working with Christopher again - you just couldn't meet a nicer guy!

by C. W. Gortner

US & UK Release Date:  May 25, 2010

SYNOPSIS: The most infamous queen of the Renaissance reveals her secrets in an epic tale of persecution, intrigue, and betrayal.

At the age of fourteen, Catherine de Medici, last legitimate descendant of the Medici blood, finds herself betrothed to the King Francois I's son, Henri. Sent from her native Florence to France, humiliated and overshadowed by her husband's life-long devotion to his mistress, when tragedy strikes her family Catherine rises from obscurity to become one of 16th century Europe's most powerful women.

Patroness of Nostradamus and a seer in her own right, accused of witchcraft and murder by her foes, Catherine fights to save France and her children from savage religious conflict, unaware that her own fate looms before her -- a fate that will demand the sacrifice of her ideals, her reputation, and passion of her own embattled heart.

From the splendors of the Loire palaces to the blood-soaked battles of the Wars of Religion and haunted halls of the Louvre, this is the story of Catherine's dramatic life, told by the queen herself.

by Mitchell James Kaplan

US & UK Release Date:  May 18, 2010

SYNOPSIS:  Luis de Santángel, chancellor to the court and longtime friend of the lusty King Ferdinand, has had enough of the Spanish Inquisition. As the power of Inquisitor GeneralTomás deTorquemada grows, so does the brutality of the Spanish church and the suspicion and paranoia it inspires. When a dear friend’s demise brings the violence close to home, Santángel is enraged and takes retribution into his own hands. But he is from a family of conversos, and his Jewish heritage makes him an easy target. As Santángel witnesses the horrific persecution of his loved ones, he begins slowly to reconnect with the Jewish faith his family left behind. Feeding his curiosity about his past is his growing love for Judith Migdal, a clever and beautiful Jewish woman navigating the mounting tensions in Granada. While he struggles to decide what his reputation is worth and what he can sacrifice, one man offers him a chance he thought he’d lost…the chance to hope for a better world. Christopher Columbus has plans to discover a route to paradise, and only Luis de Santángel can help him.

Within the dramatic story lies a subtle, insightful examination of the crisis of faith at the heart of the Spanish Inquisition. Irresolvable conflict rages within the conversos in By Fire, By Water, torn between the religion they left behind and the conversion meant to ensure their safety. In this story of love, God, faith, and torture, fifteenth-century Spain comes to dazzling, engrossing life.

So, what goodies showed up at your door?


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Passages to the Past
All rights reserved © 2013

Custom Blog Design by Blogger Boutique

Blogger Boutique