now reading...Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

Holy crap am I excited....I am FINALLY reading THE book that I have been waiting for allllll year!  My super-duper uber-fabulous husband surprised me with it yesterday and you should have seen me jumping up and down and squealing like a little kid! 

I am a HUGE fan of Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End so you know I just had to read his newest historical fiction novel, which is the first book in The Century Trilogy and titled Fall of Giants.  The hardcover is real boss with smooth, silky pages and I can't wait to dive in.

Will you be reading?

SYNOPSIS:  Ken Follett's World Without End was a global phenomenon, a work of grand historical sweep, beloved by millions of readers and acclaimed by critics. Fall of Giants is his magnificent new historical epic. The first novel in The Century Trilogy, it follows the fates of five interrelated families-American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh-as they move through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women's suffrage.

Thirteen-year-old Billy Williams enters a man's world in the Welsh mining pits...Gus Dewar, an American law student rejected in love, finds a surprising new career in Woodrow Wilson's White House...two orphaned Russian brothers, Grigori and Lev Peshkov, embark on radically different paths half a world apart when their plan to emigrate to America falls afoul of war, conscription, and revolution...Billy's sister, Ethel, a housekeeper for the aristocratic Fitzherberts, takes a fateful step above her station, while Lady Maud Fitzherbert herself crosses deep into forbidden territory when she falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German embassy in London...

These characters and many others find their lives inextricably entangled as, in a saga of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, Fall of Giants moves seamlessly from Washington to St. Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion. It is destined to be a new classic.

In future volumes of The Century Trilogy, subsequent generations of the same families will travel through the great events of the rest of the twentieth century, changing themselves-and the century itself. With passion and the hand of a master, Follett brings us into a world we thought we knew, but now will never seem the same again.


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, but for the month of September MM is on tour and hosted by Kathy at Bermudaonion Weblog.  

Hello all....sorry I haven't been around much this week but the job hunt it still in full-swing and taking up a lot of my time.  But you know I had to post my favorite meme of the week!   No books for review by publishers, but I did pick up 3 books from a local used bookstore for cheap.

First, I picked up Crown of Aloes by Norah Lofts, which I chose for two reasons - one, I want to read more about Queen Isabella of Spain and two, I really enjoyed The Concubine (READ MY REVIEW) and want to read more by Lofts.

SYNOPSIS:  Crown of Aloes is presented as a personal chronicle. Within the framework of known fact and detail drawn from hitherto unexploited contemporary Spanish sources, a novelist's imagination and understanding have provided motives, thoughts, and private conversations, helping to build up the fascinating character Isabella must have been. Her fortunes were varied indeed: she knew acute poverty, faced anxiety and danger with high courage, gave much, suffered much, lived to the full. At the end she was mainly aware of her failures. It was left to others to realize how spectacular her successes had been. 

Next up is The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley.  The reason I picked this up is because of the many tribute posts that have been written over the author's recent passing.  I had heard of her previously but haven't gotten a chance to read her yet, so I thought now would be a good time.  I'm looking forward to checking it out!

SYNOPSIS:  Seventeenth-century Paris. Geneviève is a skinny, precocious girl with a mind full of philosophy and the remarkable power to read the swirling waters of an oracle glass. Left for dead by her family, she is taken in by the ingenious occultist La Voisin, who rules a secret society of witches that manipulates the rich and the scandalous all the way up to the throne. Tutored by La Voisin, Geneviève creates a new identity for herself--as the mysterious Madame de Morville, rumored to be one hundred fifty years old.

Soon, even the reigning mistress of the Sun King himself consults Madame de Morville on what the future holds for her. And as Madame de Morville, Geneviève can revel in what women are usually denied--power, an independent income, and the opportunity to speak her mind. But beneath her intelligence and wit, and in the face of unexpected love, Geneviève is driven by the obsessed spirit of revenge....

And my last choice was one that took me 2 seconds to make once I set my sights on it.  My blogger bud Allie from Hist-Fic Chick has been talking about Vicki Leon's Uppity Women Series and I finally got my first one:  Uppity Women of Medieval Times and I can't wait to dive in!  I already leafed through it a bit and it looks quite entertaining!

DESCRIPTION:  The author of Uppity Women of Ancient Times makes history sizzle once again with insightful and witty portraits and accounts of women, notorious, courageous, and unusual who both defined and defied their times. Exceptionally researched and irresistibly entertaining, Uppity Women of Medieval Times gives readers a feminist--and humorous--perspective on little-known great women of history.

 Well, that's my mailbox....what about yours?


Review: For the King's Favor by Elizabeth Chadwick

by Elizabeth Chadwick

Publication Date: September 1, 2010
Sourcebooks Publishing

SYNOPSIS: A Bittersweet Tale of Love, Loss, and the Power of Royalty.

When Roger Bigod arrives at King Henry II's court to settle a bitter inheritance dispute, he becomes enchanted with Ida de Tosney, young mistress to the powerful king. A victim of Henry's seduction and the mother of his son, Ida sees in Roger a chance to begin a new life. But Ida pays an agonizing price when she leaves the king, and as Roger's importance grows and he gains an earldom, their marriage comes under increasing strain. Based on the true story of a royal mistress and the young lord she chose to marry, For the King's Favor is Elizabeth Chadwick at her best.

MY REVIEW: There’s not much more I can say about the brilliance of Elizabeth Chadwick that hasn’t already been said by many. Medieval fiction doesn’t get any better than her novels and For the King’s Favor is no exception! Fans of William and Isabel Marshal from The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion will be sure to love the equally lovable couple, Roger Bigod and Ida de Tosney.

Ida meets Roger after he defects from his father and joins the service of King Henry II. At the time of their first meeting Ida is the ward of Henry, as well as his reluctant mistress. Being a royal mistress is not a role that she wanted, but when the King beckons you have no choice but to jump. Roger, being possessed with the knowledge that you don’t mess with what belongs to the King, tries to play it smart and keep his distance from the beautiful Ida, but she has set her sights on him and doesn’t make it easy for him to ignore her. It was really great to see the woman being the pursuer and seeing Roger sweat!

Thanks to Chadwick’s use of Akashic records readers are treated to more intimate details about Roger and Ida that we wouldn’t normally have known, such as Ida’s talent in needlework and Roger’s affinity for hats. I believe this brings to her novels an authenticity that is unique to her alone. It’s about as close to a fly in the wall as we can get, that’s for sure!

Smart writing, a mastery of the time period and impeccable research is what we’ve come to expect from Elizabeth Chadwick and she certainly brought it with For the King’s Favor.

Make sure to check out To Defy a King (to be released in the US on March 1, 2011), which continues the story of the Bigods and Marshals and features Hugh Bigod (Roger and Ida’s son) and Mahelt Marshal (William and Isabel’s daughter)….the offspring of champions as I like to call them!

For more information, visit Elizabeth Chadwick's WEBSITE

FTC DISCLOSURE:  I was sent this book from the publisher for review.


giveaway winners galore!

Okay all, it's time to spread some joy and announce some giveaway winners!! Please help me in congratulating the following winners:

#10 - Rachel W.
#31 - Terra from Yankee Romance Reviewers

#66 - Katy F. from A Few More Pages

#63 - Kelly A. from Fresh off the Shelf

#13 - Laura from Laura's Reviews

CONGRATS to all the winners!  

As always, thank you to all of you who entered and helped spread the word and to the publicists and authors who provided the giveaway copies.


Review: Great Maria by Cecelia Holland

by Cecelia Holland

Publication Date: August 3, 2010
Sourcebooks Publishing
560 pages


SYNOPSIS: Her father is a robber baron...

Her husband has grand ambitions and a quick temper...

She will become...the Great Maria.

A lush portrait of the eleventh century that leaves out none of its harshest nature, Great Maria is Cecelia Holland at her most evocative. A mere fourteen years old, strong-willed Maria is betrothed to Richard. Theirs is a marriage of conflict, yet one that grows over the years into respect and partnership. As they struggle-at times against each other, at times side-by-side-Maria and Richard emerge as full-blooded characters you'll never forget.

REVIEW: This was my second Cecelia Holland novel and I gotta say my emotions are mixed. Haughty and clever, with an innate ferociousness when threatened, Maria is not your typical 11th century woman and while I am always intrigued by a book focusing on a strong-willed, it took me a while to warm up to Maria.

Unfortunately, it also took me a while (150 pages) before it started grabbing my attention and had this not been for review I don’t think I would have continued. Maria’s husband, Richard is an ass who treats her badly and beats her, which husbands in the 11th century had every right to do, but I just hated him. And even though I respected Maria, I would sometimes found myself questioning her actions. But in later scenes she would remind me of two other glorious women from the Middle Ages, Isabel Marshall or Isa de Tosney and you can’t go wrong in the company in those ladies.

Holland’s writing is choppier than I prefer (though that does get better as the novel picks up) and sometimes confusing to where I found myself having to re-read paragraphs to figure out what was going on, but in the end I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and am glad that I stuck with it.

For more information please visit Cecelia Holland's WEBSITE.

FTC DISCLOSURE: This book was sent by the publisher for review.


Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This weeks Teaser Tuesday comes from The King's Touch by Jude Morgan.  I am really, really loving it so far but I'm going to have to abandon it for a little while to start reading for my October scheduled reviews.

"If a man cannot see the shapings of fate in his life, then he is blind, just as much as if he denies that he grows from a child, puts on flesh, finds grizzle in his hair, begins at last to stoop.  These things, and the grace that succeeds them, are called with justice the common fate.  It is a man's path through the world, and he cannot step off it: it is as peculiarly his own as his face in the glass, which is like no other that ever was.  So I believe, in my blood.  And it was from this time, I think, that the belief entered me."


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, but for the month of September MM is on tour and hosted by Kathy at Bermudaonion Weblog.  

Hey everyone!  How's this Monday finding you?  Me, I am still on the prowl for a job and thankfully a few packages came my way last week from publishers to bring a wee smile to my face.  I also picked up a few at my local Goodwill store.

by Annemarie Selinko

Release Date:  October 1, 2010

SYNOPSIS: To be young, in France, and in love: fourteen year old Desiree can't believe her good fortune. Her fiance, a dashing and ambitious Napoleon Bonaparte, is poised for battlefield success, and no longer will she be just a French merchant's daughter. She could not have known the twisting path her role in history would take, nearly breaking her vibrant heart but sweeping her to a life rich in passion and desire.

A love story, but so much more, Désirée explores the landscape of a young heart torn in two, giving readers a compelling true story of an ordinary girl whose unlikely brush with history leads to a throne no one would have expected.

An epic bestseller that has earned both critical acclaim and mass adoration, Désirée is at once a novel of the rise and fall of empires, the blush and fade of love, and the heart and soul of a woman.

by Susan Fletcher

Release Date:  November 15, 2010

SYNOPSIS:  A breathtaking novel of passion and betrayal in seventeenth-century Scotland, and the portrait of an unforgettable heroine accused of witchcraft.
February 13, 1692. Thirty-eight members of the MacDonald clan are killed by soldiers who had previously enjoyed the clan's hospitality. Many more die from exposure. Forty miles south, the captivating Corrag is imprisoned for her involvement in the massacre. Accused of witchcraft and murder, she awaits her death. Lonesome, she tells her story to Charles Leslie, an Irish propagandist who seeks information to condemn the Protestant King William, rumored to be involved in the massacre. Hers is a story of passion, courage, love, and the magic of the natural world. By telling it, she transforms both their lives.

And here is what I picked up at Goodwill...

by Keith Donohue

SYNOPSIS:  The double story of Henry Day begins in 1949, when he is kidnapped at age seven by a band of wild childlike beings who live in an ancient, secret community in the forest. The changelings rename their captive Aniday and he becomes, like them, unaging and stuck in time. They leave one of their own to take his place, an imposter who must try–with varying success–to hide his true identity from the Day family. As the changeling Henry grows up, he is haunted by glimpses of his lost double and by vague memories of his own childhood a century earlier. Narrated in turns by Henry and Aniday, The Stolen Child follows them as their lives converge, driven by their obsessive search for who they were before they changed places in the world.

Moving from a realistic setting in small-town America deep into the forest of humankind’s most basic desires and fears, this remarkable novel is a haunting fable about identity and the illusory innocence of childhood.

by Arthur Golden

SYNOPSIS:  In this literary tour de force, novelist Arthur Golden enters a remote and shimmeringly exotic world. For the protagonist of this peerlessly observant first novel is Sayuri, one of Japan's most celebrated geisha, a woman who is both performer and courtesan, slave and goddess.

We follow Sayuri from her childhood in an impoverished fishing village, where in 1929, she is sold to a representative of a geisha house, who is drawn by the child's unusual blue-grey eyes. From there she is taken to Gion, the pleasure district of Kyoto. She is nine years old. In the years that follow, as she works to pay back the price of her purchase, Sayuri will be schooled in music and dance, learn to apply the geisha's elaborate makeup, wear elaborate kimono, and care for a coiffure so fragile that it requires a special pillow. She will also acquire a magnanimous tutor and a venomous rival. Surviving the intrigues of her trade and the upheavals of war, the resourceful Sayuri is a romantic heroine on the order of Jane Eyre and Scarlett O'Hara. And Memoirs of a Geisha is a triumphant work - suspenseful, and utterly persuasive.

The Blood of Flowers
by Anita Amirrezvani

SYNOPSIS:  Both a sweeping love story and a luminous portrait of a city, THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS is the mesmerizing historical novel of an ill-fated young woman whose gift as a rug designer transforms her life. Illuminated with glorious detail of persian rug-making, and brilliantly bringing to life the sights sounds and life of 17th-century Isfahan, THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS has captured readers' imaginations everywhere as a timeless tale of one woman's struggle to live a life of her choosing.

Mrs. Dalloway
by Virginia Woolf

SYNOPSIS:  Heralded as Virginia Woolf's greatest novel, this is a vivid portrait of a single day in a woman's life. When we meet her, Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway is preoccupied with the last-minute details of party preparation while in her mind she is something much more than a perfect society hostess. As she readies her house, she is flooded with remembrances of faraway times. And, met with the realities of the present, Clarissa reexamines the choices that brought her there, hesitantly looking ahead to the unfamiliar work of growing old.

Well, that's my mailbox....what about yours?

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