Netflix + documentaries + Amy = ♥

Always late to the party, I have just found the joy that is Netflix.  While I'm not a huge movie fan I LOVE documentaries, but they're not the easiest things to find in Blockbuster and I'm too cheap to buy them (though now that I'm looking at Amazon they aren't that expensive).  Netflix to the rescue!  They are currently running a free month subscription offer and so I jumped on the site to see what they had in the way of documentaries and was extremely excited to see how many they have to offer!  I filled my queue up in no time flat! 

The first one I received the other day is Elizabeth: The Acclaimed Saga of England's Virgin Queen narrated by David Starkey.  This is a 2 Disc DVD, so I'll be watching the first disc this weekend and then the second one whenever it comes to me. 

Documentary reviews will also be a new feature on Passages to the Past, so stay tuned for that! 

SYNOPSIS:  One of the most important rulers in history, Elizabeth I came to the throne at a time when England was under threat of annexation from abroad and collapse from within. When she died after a reign of 45 years, she left behind a nation protected by the greatest navy on earth and in the midst of a cultural explosion she made possible. Hosted by the world-renowned historian David Starkey (author of Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne) ELIZABETH explores the life and rule of the woman who gave her name to an era. A compelling blend of dramatic re-creations and incisive commentary brings alive the courtly intrigues and epic conflicts that shaped her reign, opens a window into the Queen's private struggles and convictions, and examines her monumental legacy. The four volumes in this epic set are From the Prison to the Palace, The Virgin Queen, Heart of a King and Gloriana.

Here are a few of the others I will be watching soon:

SYNOPSIS:  This gripping PBS-produced offering charts the course of this larger-than-life emperor, from his birth on the island of Corsica to his eventual exile on another island, St. Helena. In between, of course, are his military exploits and achievements, his undying love for his muse, Josephine, his marriage to an Austrian royal much younger than him and his impressive failure to conquer Russia in an ill-conceived invasion.


SYNOPSIS:  MARIE ANTOINETTE Queen Of Versailles There are few women in history as renowned for glamour and decadence as Marie Antoinette, the French Queen who is alleged to have fueled a Revolution with the immortal line "Let them eat cake." Step back in time to 18th Century France and visit the beautiful Palace of Versailles, where Marie Antoinette was sent, hardly into her teens, to be the bride of the future King Louis XVI. Through the great Hall of Mirrors and the beautiful formal gardens of the Palace, to the lesser-known Petit Trianon and Peasant Village, discover for yourself what really happened to the Austrian Princess. It may be a story that sadly lacks a happy ending, but Marie Antoinette, Queen of Versailles, is still worthy of our attention, telling us of one woman's remarkable courage when an entire nation turned against her. 58 MIN.

SYNOPSIS:  The lives of English sovereigns are exhaustively chronicled in this series, beginning with the rulers of Anglo-Saxon times and ending with Charles II's restoration of the crown in 1660. Featuring David Starkey's compelling narration and dramatizations of events such as the Norman Conquest in 1066 and Queen Elizabeth I's majestic reign, the absorbing documentary illustrates how the monarchs affected the course of British and world history.

If you've seen any of these documentaries or have some to recommend I'd love to hear it!!

announcing the May event for HFBRT...The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner

I am thrilled to announce the next event for the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table.... 

 I just started reading it a few days ago and it's really good!  C.W. really knows how to write women!  We'll be bringing you reviews, 3 guest posts written by C.W., a few creative posts by the ladies of the Round Table and a few super terrific giveaways!

SYNOPSIS:  "The truth is, none of us are innocent. We all have sins to confess."

So reveals Catherine de Medici in this brilliantly imagined novel about one of history’s most powerful and controversial women. To some she was the ruthless queen who led France into an era of savage violence. To others she was the passionate savior of the French monarchy. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner brings Catherine to life in her own voice, allowing us to enter into the intimate world of a woman whose determination to protect her family’s throne and realm plunged her into a lethal struggle for power.

 The last legitimate descendant of the illustrious Medici line, Catherine suffers the expulsion of her family from her native Florence and narrowly escapes death at the hands of an enraged mob. While still a teenager, she is betrothed to Henri, son of François I of France, and sent from Italy to an unfamiliar realm where she is overshadowed and humiliated by her husband’s lifelong mistress. Ever resilient, Catherine strives to create a role for herself through her patronage of the famous clairvoyant Nostradamus and her own innate gift as a seer. But in her fortieth year, Catherine is widowed, left alone with six young children as regent of a kingdom torn apart by religious discord and the ambitions of a treacherous nobility.

Relying on her tenacity, wit, and uncanny gift for compromise, Catherine seizes power, intent on securing the throne for her sons. She allies herself with the enigmatic Protestant leader Coligny, with whom she shares an intimate secret, and implacably carves a path toward peace, unaware that her own dark fate looms before her—a fate that, if she is to save France, will demand the sacrifice of her ideals, her reputation, and the passion of her embattled heart.

From the fairy-tale châteaux of the Loire Valley to the battlefields of the wars of religion to the mob-filled streets of Paris, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is the extraordinary untold journey of one of the most maligned and misunderstood women ever to be queen.
I hope to see you there and that you enjoy it!



May releases in Historical Fiction & History/Non-Fiction


more future releases from Sourcebooks

Here are a few really exciting future releases from Sourcebooks!

by AnneMarie Selinko

Release Date:  October 2010

SYNOPSIS:  First published in 1953, this riveting true-life tale comes to life in diary form, giving readers an inside glimpse at the young Napoleon and his family. Désirée is enchanted by the young officer, and he asks her to marry him. But he must leave for Paris, where he meets his eventual wife Josephine. A heartbroken Désirée is unsure she’ll ever find anyone again. A love story, but so much more, Désirée is the tale of a simple merchant’s daughter who ends up with a kind of royalty she never expected: an unforgettable story just waiting to be reborn.

Child of the Northern Spring
by Persia Wooley

Release Date:  November 2010

SYNOPSIS:  Often portrayed as spoiled, in Persia Woolley’s hands Guinevere comes alive as a high-spirited, passionate woman. When she is chosen by Arthur to be his wife, Guinevere’s independence wars with her family loyalty. As the wedding approaches and hints of rebellion abound, she learns that the old gods are in revolt against the new Christian church, and that scattered kingdoms are stirring from their uneasy peace. This is Arthurian epic at its best, filled with romance, adventure, authentic historical detail, and a landscape alive with the mystery of Britain in the Dark Ages.

The Forever Queen
by Helen Hollick

Release Date:  November 2010

SYNOPSIS:  Married to a king incompetent both on the throne and in bed, Emma does not love her husband. But she does love England. Even as her husband fails, Emma vows to protect her people—no matter what. For five decades, through love and loss, prosperity and exile, Emma fights for England, becoming the only woman to have been anointed, crowned, and reigning queen to two different kings, the mother of two more, and the great aunt of William the Conqueror.

A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury
by Edith Pargeter

Release Date:  November 2010

SYNOPSIS:  A masterful tale of 14th century England, as fans of Edith Pargeter’s The Brothers of Gwynedd have come to expect. Henry Bolingbroke, banished and deprived of his inheritance by Richard II, returns and deposes the king to become Henry IV. He is aided by powerful lords, especially by his friend, Harry “Hotspur” Percy. But his triumph quickly fades in the face of evergrowing crises. Not only is Wales rebelling, but the question of how Richard II really died lingers, causing dangerous trouble. The king also has powerful enemies poised to pounce, as he and his kingdom are drawn inexorably to a bloody collision some two miles from Shrewsbury.

Jeremy Poldark: Third Novel in the Poldark series
by Winston Graham

Release Date:  November 2010

SYNOPSIS:  Ross Poldark faces the darkest hour of his life, as he is accused of wrecking two ships and is made to stand trial at the Bodmin Assizes. Despite their stormy marriage, Demelza tries to rally support for her husband, to save him and their family. But there are enemies in plenty who would be happy to see Ross convicted, not the least of which is George Warleggan, the powerful banker whose personal rivalry with Ross grows ever more intense and threatens to destroy the Poldarks…



2010 Release: Kings of the North by Cecelia Holland

by Cecelia Holland

Release Date:  July 6, 2010

SYNOPSIS:  Having fled from Constantinople, Raef Corbanson and his companions--Lief the Icelander, and Laissa, the young girl who they rescued from Constantinople--are cast up on shore in Normandy. Their goal is to return to Raef’s home in the Viking town of Jorvik in England.  Raef is back in his home territory, and his old friend and shipmate Sweyn Forkbeard is now King of Denmark--and soon to overthrow King Ethelred II of England. Raef’s connections throw him into the middle of the struggle between Sweyn, Ethelred, and Ethelred’s son Edward. Raef becomes foster father of Sweyn’s son Knut…who will become known as King Canute when he in turn takes the throne of England.



Guest Post & Giveaway with Emery Lee, author of The Highest Stakes

Yours truly is pleased to bring you an...

THE RISE OF THE HOUSE OF HANOVER The naissance of the Georgian age, made glorious under the House of Hanover, was the direct result of the Act of Settlement. Without going into tedious details, suffice to say that upon Queen Anne’s death, Great Britain passed-over fifty Catholic aspirants to the throne in order to settle it upon the closest Protestant, a German princeling who neither desired the crown, nor spoke the tongue!

JACOBITE INTRIGUE The Scots and English Jacobites, however, were never completely on board with this plan of succession, which would eventually result in several attempts over the next half-century to restore the Stuarts, all doomed to failure. They continued to try nonetheless!

THE BIRTH OF PLURALISTIC GOVERNMENT What history says of the reluctant but avaricious Georg Ludwig, is that he left England to rule itself as much as possible, and took his living from it as much as achievable. During his rather apathetic reign, Britain began a steady transition of power away from the absolute monarchy favored by the Stuarts of old, toward a government led by a cabinet of ministers. Chief among these was Sir Robert Walpole, who proved more than willing to take up the reins of government to become the first de facto Prime Minister.

THE AGE OF REASON The early Georgian Age was the age of enlightenment, ushered in by men such as Sir Isaac Newton, with the torch carried on by Henry Cavendish and Joseph Priestly.

THE GROWTH OF THE ARTS The literati were led by the poets Alexander Pope and John Gaye, who made their homes at Button’s or Will’s Coffee House. The modern novel was crafted by the hand of Samuel Richardson, only to be satirized by the brilliantly sardonic wit of Henry Fielding.

CULTURE AND SOCIETY Georgian Society was a fascinating paradox, with its powerful aristocracy using an outer façade of honor and politesse to cover its multifarious sins. In the words of Dr. Johnson: “Vice, in its true light, is so deformed, that it shocks us at first sight; and would hardly ever seduce us, if it did not at first wear the mask of some virtue.”

Marriage in the upper classes was seldom pursued without social or financial gain. Gin was cheap and readily available. The cities were rife with prostitutes. All of these realities were readily lampooned by the pencil and brush of William Hogarth.

The Georgians by-and-large were a profligate and riotous breed: hard drinkers, with little regard to sexual morality. Brothels abounded to suit any particular fancy, from flagellation to sodomy, considered the “English” vice. Mercury pills may have killed more patients than the “French disease” it was meant to cure. 

ENTERTAINMENT AND PLEASURE The gentlemen of rank and title pursued every manner of pleasure, dissipation, and gaming. They lived hard and played harder – wagering on bare-fisted pugilism, (sometimes employing cudgels), cock fighting, bear, and bull bating. Astronomically high stakes were laid out at the hazard and card tables, and let us not forget the horses!

HORSERACING Horses, in particular were ideally suited for this fast-living crowd who admired no virtue more than “bottom.”

Following the example set by the voluptuary Charles II in the prior century, for whom horseracing came to be called “the sport of kings,” the aristocrats of the Georgian age wholeheartedly embraced horseracing.

Although twenty-eight Royal Plates were run under the patronage of Queen Anne, who first remarked the open heath near Windsor Castle (later Ascot) ideal to “gallop horses at full stretch,” the Georgian era breathed new life into the sport of kings. Ninety races were held under George I, but horseracing reached its true zenith under George II, with four-hundred-sixty-two Royal Plates run between 1727 and 1760!

With this growing fervor came the importation of Eastern blood horses, the kings of the desert well known for their unparalleled stamina. The Byerley Turk, the Darley Arabian, and later the Godolphin Arabian were some of the very best horses selectively crossed with the blood of the early mares of Charles II to create an entirely new type of horse. Bred specifically for racing, this horse became known around the world as the English Thoroughbred.

As fodder for a horse-loving historical novelist, the Georgian era offers untold delights. In writing THE HIGHEST STAKES, a novel of thwarted love, retribution and horseracing, I have barely scratched the surface of this bygone world. Nonetheless, I hope you “enjoy the ride.”


Emery Lee is graciously providing 1 signed copy of THE HIGHEST STAKES to 1 of my lucky readers! Thank you Emery!

- To enter just leave a comment below and please include your email address
- Giveaway is open to US entries only.
- Only one entry per person.
- Giveaway ends on May 9th.




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.

This week I didn't get much in the way of my mailbox, but I did splurge and picked up a few books for myself!  From Barnes & Noble I got...

by Norah Lofts

SYNOPSIS:  Eleanor of Aquitaine rules as a modern heroine in the twelfth century, in this beloved classic of royal fiction from renowned author Norah Lofts. 

At a time when a woman’s value was measured solely by her wealth and the number of sons she bore, Eleanor was the high-spirited, stubborn, and intelligent heiress to the vast duchy of Aquitaine. 

Her leadership inspired the loyalty of her people, but she was continually doubted and silenced by the men who ruled beside her—the less wise but far more powerful men of the church and court who were unwilling to lose power to a woman, regardless of her rank or ability. 

Through marriages to two kings, two Crusades, and the births of ten children— including the future King Richard the Lionhearted—Eleanor solidified her place in history. In Eleanor the Queen, Norah Lofts brings to life a brave and complex woman who was centuries ahead of her time. 

by Jane Feathers

SYNOPSIS:  At Queen Elizabeth’s palace, intrigue abounds. And when a naive girl with a gift for keen observation enters the court, she can hardly imagine the role she will play in bringing England—indeed, the whole of Europe—to the brink of war. Nor can she foresee her own journey to the brink of ecstasy and beyond.

When she becomes a junior lady of Queen Elizabeth’s bedchamber, Rosamund is instructed by her cousin, the brilliant and devious secretary of state Sir Francis Walsingham, to record everything she observes. Her promised reward: a chance at a good marriage. But through her brother Thomas, Rosamund finds herself drawn to the forbidden, rough-and-tumble world of theatre, and to Thomas’s friend, the dramatic, impetuous playwright Christopher Marlowe. And then Rosamund meets Will Creighton—a persuasive courtier, poet, and would-be playwright who is the embodiment of an unsuitable match.

The unsanctioned relationship between Rosamund and Will draws the wrath of Elizabeth, who prides herself on being the Virgin Queen. Rosamund is sent in disgrace to a remote castle that holds Elizabeth’s cousin Mary Stuart, the imprisoned Queen of Scots. Here, Walsingham expects Rosamund to uncover proof of a plot against Elizabeth. But surely, nothing good can come of putting an artless girl in such close proximity to so many seductive players and deceptive games. Unless, of course, Rosamund can discover an affinity for passion and intrigue herself.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jane Feather conspires with history to tell this dazzling story about two very real, very wily queens— and one impassioned young woman whose life they change forever. 

by Leonie Frieda

SYNOPSIS:  Poisoner, despot, necromancer -- the dark legend of Catherine de Medici is centuries old. In this critically hailed biography, Leonie Frieda reclaims the story of this unjustly maligned queen to reveal a skilled ruler battling extraordinary political and personal odds -- from a troubled childhood in Florence to her marriage to Henry, son of King Francis I of France; from her transformation of French culture to her fight to protect her throne and her sons' birthright. Based on thousands of private letters, it is a remarkable account of one of the most influential women ever to wear a crown.

by Thomas J. Craughwell

SYNOPSIS:  Conflict. Glory. Romance. Tragedy. Bloodshed. No matter the era, the lives of the men and women who have wielded power and controlled destinies make for fascinating reading. 

5,000 Years of Royalty compiles the rich pageant of history into a lushly illustrated, accessible guide that will delight both the amateur historian and inveterate royal watcher alike. Profiles include: 

The Assyrian warrior king Ashurbanipal, who hitched the kings of four nations to his chariot for a victory parade; 

Montezuma, who was stoned to death by his Aztec subjects upon his capture by the Spanish; 

Ivan the Terrible of Russia, who, upon the suspicious death of this wife, executed bot only those he thought were guilty, but also their families, so that no one would remain alive to pray for their souls; 

Mary I, Queen of Scots, who had no luck with men—her closest advisor was dragged from her room and stabbed to death and her husband's house was blown up while he was lying sick in bed; 

King Leopold II of Belgium, who's private colony in the Congo caused the death of more than 2 million Africans working for him.

And from Prometheus Books...

by Stuart Lutz

SYNOPSIS:  When we read about famous historical events, we may wonder about the firsthand experiences of the people directly involved. What insights could be gained if we could talk to someone who remembered the Civil War, or the battle to win the vote for women, or Thomas Edison's struggles to create the first electric light bulb? Amazingly, many of these experiences are still preserved in living memory by the final survivors of important, world-changing events.

In this unique oral history book, author and historic document specialist Stuart Lutz records the stories told to him personally by people who witnessed many of history's most famous events. Among many others, Lutz interviewed:

-the final three Civil War widows (one Union and two Confederate)
-the final pitcher to surrender a home run to Babe Ruth
-the last suffragette
-the last living person to fly with Amelia Earhart
-the final American World War I soldier
-the last surviving employees of Thomas Edison, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Harry Houdini.

The wide-ranging stories involve humor (the 1920 Olympic medalist who stole the original Olympic flag), tragedy (the last survivor of the 1915 Lusitania sinking), heroism (the final Medal of Honor recipient for actions on Pearl Harbor Day), and eyewitnesses to great events (one of the last scientists at the first nuclear chain reaction, and the final Iwo Jima flag raiser).

In more than three-dozen chapters, Lutz blends background information in a lively narrative with the words of the interviewees, so that readers not familiar with the historical episodes described can understand what occurred and the long-term significance of the events.
A book that truly makes the past come alive, The Last Leaf will fascinate not only history buffs but anyone who likes a good story.

What goodies came your way?



recent giveaway winners....

Four giveaways ended recently here at PTTP and now it's time to announce the lucky winners...

The winner of Impatient with Desire by Gabrielle Burton is...

Congrats Dar!!  You can visit her blog at Peeking Between the Pages.

The winner of The Queen's Pawn by Christy English is...

Congrats to Heather (Zibilee) from Raging Bibliomania!

The winner of Daughters of Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt is...

Congrats to Jess who can be found at her blog, Confessions of a Book Hoarder!

The winner of Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell is...

 Congrats Stacie from Simply Stacie!

Thanks to all who entered and Happy Reading to the winners!!!



2010 Release: The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots by Carolly Erickson

The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots

Release Date:  September 14, 2010

SYNOPSIS: Erickson mines rich historical territory when she excavates the relatively brief, yet ever-fas­cinating, life of Mary Queen of Scots for her latest historical tour de force

Queen of Scotland at six days of age, married as a young girl to the invalid young King of France, Mary took the reins of the unruly kingdom of Scotland as a young widow and fought to keep her throne. A second marriage to her handsome but dissolute cousin Lord Darnley ended in murder and scandal, while a third to the dashing Lord Bothwell, the love of her life, gave her joy but widened the scandal and surrounded her with enduring ill repute.

Unable to rise above the violence and disorder that swirled around her, Mary escaped to England—only to find herself a prisoner of her ruthless, merciless cousin Queen Elizabeth.

Here, in a riveting first-person account, is the enchanting woman whose name still evokes excitement and compassion— and whose death under the headsman’s axe still draws forth our sorrow.



the winner of Legacy by Susan Kay is...

Congratulations Briana!!  You have won a used copy of Legacy by Susan Kay!  

Briana has a groovy site at The Book Pixie - you should check it out!  Plus she's a fellow Georgian, so you know she's super cool ;-)

Thanks to everyone who entered!



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.

It's been a while since I've been able to participate in a Mailbox Monday, so am I glad to be back!  Let's hope that my mailbox draught is officially ovah!

Juliet by Anne Fortier
(acquired via Ballantine Books)

SYNOPSIS:  Of all the great love stories ever told, hers is perhaps the most famous. To me, she is the key to my family's fate. To you, she is Juliet.

When Julie Jacobs leaves for Italy per the instructions of her late aunt's will, she never imagines that she'll be thrust into a centuries-old feud, not to mention one of the most legendary romances of all time. However, as she uncovers the story of her ancestor, Giulietta, whose love for a man named Romeo proved ill-fated, Julie finds herself increasingly under threat, and can't help but feel that the past and present are very much connected. Juliet is a gripping historical novel of great passion and scope from a remarkable debut author.

Georgette Heyer's Regency World by Jennifer Kloester
(acquired via Sourcebooks)

SYNOPSIS:  Georgette Heyer fans will delight in Jennifer Kloester’s definitive guide to her Regency world: the people, the shops, clubs and towns they frequented, the parties and seasons they celebrated, how they ate, drank, dressed, socialized, voted, shopped and drove. A fun read for any Heyer fan.

So, what goodies showed up in your mailbox?



Suddenly Sunday

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by the wonderful Svea at Confessions and Rambling of A Muse in the Fog.

Hellloooo lovelies!  I hope everyone is doing well this Sunday.  It's a beauteous day here in Atlanta, though the pollen is still out in force!  Here's a picture of my shoes, pollen sprinkled, from when I took the tulip picture posted in my Wordless Wednesday.  Ewww.

So, read any good books lately?  I am finishing up The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham and thoroughly enjoying it, as is always the case with one of her novels.  I am also reading The Afflicted Girls by Suzy Witten, which is about the 1692 Salem Witch Trials.  I'm not that far into yet, but so far it's good.


The Claude & Camille HFBRT event wrapped up on Tuesday.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by and commented - we hope you enjoyed it!  I know we had a lot of fun!  The C&C Schedule of Events is HERE with links in case you missed anything.  There are still giveaways going on as well!
Our next event will be in May for C.W. Gortner's Confessions of Catherine de Medici.  I can't wait to start it!  

Speaking of giveaways, there are SIX of them happening at PTTP!
The Queen's Pawn by Christy English (ends tomorrow)
Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell
Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell
Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn
No Will But His by Sarah A. Hoyt

I wanted to thank Vera from Luxury Reading for bringing to my attention the lack of an email subscription button for PTTP.   I hadn't realized that I never put it on the site.  It has been added and you can find it on the left sidebar.  Thanks Vera!

I owe you guys a few reviews:  Within A Hollow Crown by Margaret Campbell Barnes, The Highest Stakes by Emery Lee, Impatient With Desire by Gabrielle Burton, No Will But His by Sarah A. Hoyt and The Sisters Who Would Be Queen by Leanda de Lisle.

Have a good week everyone!


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