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Showing posts with label historical fiction. Show all posts

Giveaway: "The Summer Queen"

"The Summer Queen"
By Elizabeth Chadwick
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: June 3, 2013

Summary from goodreads:

Eleanor of Aquitaine is a 12th century icon who has fascinated readers for 800 years. But the real Eleanor remains elusive.

This stunning novel introduces an Eleanor that all other writers have missed. Based on the most up-to-date research, it is the first novel to show Eleanor beginning her married life at 13.

Overflowing with scandal, passion, triumph and tragedy, Eleanor's legendary story begins when her beloved father dies in the summer of 1137, and she is made to marry the young prince Louis of France. A week after the marriage she becomes a queen and her life will change beyond recognition . . .


Book Trailer:




Buy Links
IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781402294068


GIVEAWAY RULES
The publicist has generously provided a copy of this book for a lucky reader of my blog.
All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
  • US only
  • Prizes will be mailed out by the publicist
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends July 30
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, the publicist will provide a book to the giveaway winner.

Tote Bag and Book Giveaway: "The Diviners" by Libba Bray

"The Diviners"
by Libba Bray

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release Date: Dec 3, 2013 (paperback)


Summary from goodreads.com:

Do you believe there are ghosts and demons and Diviners among us? Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It's 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he'll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfurled in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened....
Printz Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray opens a brand-new historical series with The Diviners, where the glittering surface of the Roaring Twenties hides a mystical horror creeping across the country.



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Watch the Trailer:








You can win the brand new paperback version of the book and an exclusive Diviners tote bag!

GIVEAWAY RULES
The publisher has generously provided a paperback copy of this book and a tote bag for a lucky reader of my blog.
All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
  • US only
  • Prizes will be mailed out by the publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends Dec 14
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: Giveaway is sponsored by the publisher, I received a copy of the book in exchange for this post.

"The Passion of the Purple Plumeria" Review

"The Passion of the Purple Plumeria"
by Lauren Willig

Publisher: NAL Trade

Release Date: Aug 6, 2013
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:

Colonel William Reid has returned home from India to retire near his children, who are safely stowed in an academy in Bath. Upon his return to the Isles, however, he finds that one of his daughters has vanished, along with one of her classmates.

Having served as second-in-command to the Pink Carnation, one of England’s most intrepid spies, it would be impossible for Gwendolyn Meadows to give up the intrigue of Paris for a quiet life in the English countryside—especially when she’s just overheard news of an alliance forming between Napoleon and an Ottoman Sultan. But, when the Pink Carnation’s little sister goes missing from her English boarding school, Gwen reluctantly returns home to investigate the girl’s disappearance.

Thrown together by circumstance, Gwen and William must cooperate to track down the young ladies before others with nefarious intent get their hands on them. But Gwen’s partnership with quick-tongued, roguish William may prove to be even more of an adventure for her than finding the lost girls…
My Review:

Lauren Willig's books are always great, so even though this one wasn't my favorite of hers, it was still a good, entertaining read. I think my biggest hurdle with the book was William. Usually, Willig makes me fall head over heels for her love interests, even though her books aren't truly "romances." However, this time, the romantic lead just didn't work for me. I didn't see many redeeming characteristics in him. He was kind of an oaf, for lack of a better word. I'm all for strong heroines, but the hero has to keep up! William was just left in the dust by Gwen, she totally overshadowed him.

Gwen, however was a fun character to read about. She was a very no-nonsense, tell it like it is type of character. She didn't take any flack from anyone, and I loved it!

Gwen's strength, and the quick-paced mystery were what kept me reading. There was definitely a 'mystery' formula in this book, we jumped from suspect to suspect, and clue to clue, very quickly. However, this formula did keep me reading and I couldn't wait to find out what happened next.

As usual with this series, the present day parts of the story were unnecessary to me. I just don't need the present day aspect in order to be interested in the historical part. I would rather just jump right into the historical world, without all the hopping back and forth from present to past.

Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5
Setting: 4/5

Romance: 5/5

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 3/5
Writing: 5/5


Bottom Line: While this isn't my favorite installment of the series, it's a good addition for readers who already love "The Pink Carnation" series.



If you think this book sounds good, you might be interested in reading my reviews of other books by this author:




Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Spotlight: "Jack Absolute"

"Jack Absolute"
by C.C. Humphreys
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Source: N/A
Release Date: May 7, 2013

The following description is from goodreads.com:


A new historical adventure series starring the dashing Jack Absolute that has already been called "the finest historical novels since O'Brian." (Good Book Guide UK)
In 1777 Jack Absolute, the charming lover in Sheridan's comedy The Rivals, is famous throughout London. However, this notoriety comes as something of a shock to the real Jack Absolute when he arrives in England after four months at sea. But there's barely time for outrage before he finds himself dueling for his life. Even worse, as soon as he's won the duel he's forced to flee London by the quickest means possible, becoming a spy in America's war of Independence.
Thus we meet Jack Absolute - rogue, duellist, charmer and Captain in the Light Dragoons. From the field of honor in London through the pivotal battle of Saratoga to a hunt for a double agent in wintry Philadelphia, this novel marks the impressive debut of this new series.

Author Bio (from the publisher):

C.C. Humphreys is a novelist, fight choreographer, and actor who played Jack Absolute in The Rivals for a six-month run in London in the mid-1980s. When he became a full-time writer a decade ago, he decided to transform his leading man into a title character. Humphreys has written seven historical fiction novels including The French Executioner, which was runner-up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers 2002. The Jack Absolute series will feature three books: Jack Absolute, The Blooding of Jack Absolute, and Absolute Honour. 

Spotlight: "The Butternut Tree"

"The Butternut Tree"
by Maureen Ann Richards Kostalnick
Publisher: Bookstand Publishing
Source: received from publisher and publicist
Release Date: Oct 26, 2012

The following description is from goodreads.com:

Avon, Ohio, was a sleepy little farm town in 1945. A simple way of life focused around strict Catholic doctrine, St. Mary's Church, and the objective truths and sense of right and wrong contained within those hallowed institutions. Tolerance was a luxury, one in which this town never indulged, favoring the rod over compassion. In 1928, when a young woman was the victim of sexual assault, she was tarnished, regardless of her subsequent marriage and a house full of children. Years after the assault, I was born into this family -- a family that shared a dilapidated farm house scarcely big enough to contain two people, let alone my grandparents, mother, sister, and two brothers. The townspeople's denial became condemnation as my father divorced my mother; the Town shunned our family and my mother took to her bed, unable to face herself or the world. Unaware of the cause of my mother's inability to function, I only knew I would grow to live a different life. I made a promise to that effect at the age of seven, under the shade and protection of my Butternut Tree. The fulfillment of that promise has taken many turns

Author Bio (from the publicist)
Maureen Ann Richards Kostalnick is originally from Avon, Ohio and married her high school sweetheart Chuck, she now lives in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. She has dedicated her life to her family, and to working with multi-handicapped children as a Sign Language Interpreter for the Deaf. Maureen is widely recognized as an advocate for children with disabilities and those children who are forgotten.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publicist/publisher in exchange for a blog post.

Spotlight: "When Love Calls"

"When Love Calls"
by Lorna Seilstad
Publisher: Revell
Source: received from publisher
Release Date: May 1, 2013

The following description is from goodreads.com:

Hannah Gregory is good at many things, but that list doesn’t include following rules. So when she is forced to apply for a job as a telephone switchboard operator to support her two sisters, she knows it won’t be easy. “Hello Girls” must conduct themselves according to strict-and often bewildering-rules. No talking to the other girls. No chatting with callers. No blowing your nose without first raising your hand. And absolutely no consorting with gentlemen while in training.
Meanwhile, young lawyer Lincoln Cole finds himself in the unfortunate position of having to enforce the bank’s eviction of the three Gregory girls from their parents’ home. He tries to soften the blow by supporting them in small ways as they settle into another home. But fiery Hannah refuses his overtures and insists on paying back every cent of his charity.
When one of Hannah’s friends finds himself on the wrong side of a jail cell, Hannah is forced to look to Lincoln for help. Will it be her chance to return to her dreams of studying law? And could she be falling in love?

Author Bio (from the publicist)

A history buff, antique collector, and freelance graphic designer, Lorna Seilstad is the author of Making Waves, A Great Catch, and The Ride of Her Life. A former high school English and journalism teacher, she has won several online writing contests and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Lorna lives in Council Bluffs, Iowa, with her husband. Find out more at www.lornaseilstad.com.

If you think this book sounds great, check out my review of the author's previous book (which I LOVED):

My Review: "The Ride of Her Life" by Lorna Seilstad


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publicist/publisher in exchange for a blog post.

Spotlight: "It Happened at the Fair"

"It Happened at the Fair"
by Deanne Gist

Publisher: Howard Books
Source: received from publisher
Release Date: April 9, 2013

The following description is from goodreads.com:

A transporting historical novel about a promising young inventor, his struggle with loss, and the attractive teacher who changes his life, all set against the razzle-dazzle of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Gambling everything, including the family farm, Cullen McNamara travels to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with his most recent invention. But the noise in the Fair’s Machinery Palace makes it impossible to communicate with potential buyers. In an act of desperation, he hires Della Wentworth, a teacher of the deaf, to tutor him in the art of lip-reading.


The young teacher is reluctant to participate, and Cullen has trouble keeping his mind on his lessons while intently watching her lips. Like the newly invented Ferris Wheel, he is caught in a whirl between his girl back home, his dreams as an inventor, and his unexpected attraction to his new tutor. Can he keep his feet on the ground, or will he be carried away?

Author Bio (from the publicist)
With over half-a-million sales in trade, Deeanne Gist has rocketed up bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews with her very fun, very original historical and contemporary novels. Add to this three RITA nominations, two consecutive Christy Awards, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success. Deeanne has a background in education and journalism and a degree from Texas A&M. Her credits include People, Parents, and Parenting. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband of twenty-nine years and has four grown children.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publicist/publisher in exchange for a blog post.

Giveaway and Blog Tour: "A Spear of Summer Grass"

"A Spear of Summer Grass"
by Deanna Raybourn

Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Source: ARC sent by publicist/publisher in exchange for blog post


Summary from goodreads.com:
Paris, 1923

The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even amongst Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather's savannah manor house until gossip subsides.

Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society.

Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming-yet fleeting and often cheap.

Amidst the wonders-and dangers-of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for-and what she can no longer live without.

About A Spear of Summer Grass (from the publicist)
New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julie Grey series enters a new era with A Spear of Summer Grass.

Paris, 1923
The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even amongst Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather’s savannah manor house, until gossip subsides.

Amidst the wonders—and dangers—of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for—and what she can no longer live without.

If you blend glamour from The Great Gatsby and romance from “Out of Africa,” you are beginning to grasp the stunning new novel that is A Spear of Summer Grass.


About the author
A sixth-generation native Texan, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn grew up in San Antonio, where she met her college sweetheart.  She married him on her graduation day and went on to teach high school English and history.  During summer vacation at the age of twenty-three, she wrote her first novel.  After three years as a teacher, Deanna left education to have a baby and pursue writing full-time. Fourteen years and many, many rejections after her first novel, she signed two three-book deals with MIRA Books.

Deanna’s novel Silent in the Grave won the 2008 RITA® Award for Novel with Strong Romantic Elements and the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best First Mystery. The Lady Julia Grey series has been nominated for several other awards, including an Agatha, three Daphne du Mauriers, a Last Laugh, four additional RITAs, and two Dilys Winns. Dark Road to Darjeeling was also a finalist for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Historical Mystery as well as a Romantic Reviews’ finalist for Best Book of 2010.

Visit Deanna Raybourne’s Official Site

GIVEAWAY RULES
The publisher and publicist have generously provided two copies of "A Spear of Summer Grass" for two lucky readers of my blog.
All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
  • US/CAN only
  • Books will be mailed out by the publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends May 27
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!

This ARC was sent by the publicist and publisher in exchange for a blog post.

Giveaway: "Black Venus" Blog Tour and Trailer

"Black Venus"
by James MacManus

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Source: ARC sent by publicist/publisher in exchange for blog post


Summary from goodreads.com:
A vivid novel of Charles Baudelaire and his lover Jeanne Duval, the Haitian cabaret singer who inspired his most famous and controversial poems, set in nineteenth-century Paris.

For readers who have been drawn to The Paris Wife, Black Venus captures the artistic scene in the great French city decades earlier, when the likes of Dumas and Balzac argued literature in the cafes of the Left Bank. Among the bohemians, the young Charles Baudelaire stood out—dressed impeccably thanks to an inheritance that was quickly vanishing. Still at work on the poems that he hoped would make his name, he spent his nights enjoying the alcohol, opium, and women who filled the seedy streets of the city.

One woman would catch his eye—a beautiful Haitian cabaret singer named Jeanne Duval. Their lives would remain forever intertwined thereafter, and their romance would inspire his most infamous poems—leading to the banning of his masterwork, Les Fleurs du Mal, and a scandalous public trial for obscenity.

James MacManus's Black Venus re-creates the classic Parisian literary world in vivid detail, complete with not just an affecting portrait of the famous poet but also his often misunderstood, much-maligned muse.

Trailer:



GIVEAWAY RULES
The publisher and publicist have generously provided a copy of "Black Venus" for a lucky reader of my blog.
All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
  • US only
  • Books will be mailed out by the publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends May 20
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow along with the rest of the tour on BookTrib here:

This ARC was sent by the publicist and publisher in exchange for a blog post.

Giveaway, Guest Post, and Excerpt: "The Ambassador's Daughter"


As part of the blog tour for "The Ambassador's Daughter" by Pam Jenoff, I have a guest post by the author and an excerpt from the book! I'm also hosting a giveaway for a finished copy of the book!

Now on to the book!


"The Ambassador's Daughter"
by Pam Jenoff

Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Release Date: Jan 29, 2013 
Summary from goodreads.com:  

Paris, 1919.The world's leaders have gathered to rebuild from the ashes of the Great War. But for one woman, the City of Light harbors dark secrets and dangerous liaisons, for which many could pay dearly.

Brought to the peace conference by her father, a German diplomat, Margot Rosenthal initially resents being trapped in the congested French capital, where she is still looked upon as the enemy. But as she contemplates returning to Berlin and a life with Stefan, the wounded fiancé she hardly knows anymore, she decides that being in Paris is not so bad after all.

Bored and torn between duty and the desire to be free, Margot strikes up unlikely alliances: with Krysia, an accomplished musician with radical acquaintances and a secret to protect; and with Georg, the handsome, damaged naval officer who gives Margot a job—and also a reason to question everything she thought she knew about where her true loyalties should lie.

Against the backdrop of one of the most significant events of the century, a delicate web of lies obscures the line between the casualties of war and of the heart, making trust a luxury that no one can afford.


Guest Post:


Question:   When you come up with an idea for a novel how do you envision the book?

Pam Jenoff's Answer: A book for me often starts with an image or scene – a woman walking a child across Krakow’s main market square during the war for example, or a woman waking up in a Nazi prison.  Often times I don’t know who the person is or how he or she came to be in a particular situation – I have to write to find out as the story unfolds.  I typically let myself write freeform whatever comes out, dialogue, scenes, internal narrative, in no particular order.  Then, when I reach about 150 pages or so, the mass of writing becomes unwieldy, and I start to organize it into chapters, using a separate outline document to keep track of it all.  I have some sense where the story will wind up, though not how we will get there – and there are always things that surprise me along the way.


Excerpt:

“The decision to come had not been mine. ‘I’ve been asked to go to the peace conference,’ Papa informed me unexpectedly less than a month ago. He had previously professed no interest in taking part in the ‘dog and pony show at Versailles,’ and had harrumphed frequently as he read the details of the preparations in the Times. ‘Uncle Walter thinks…’ he added, as he so often did. I did not need to listen to the rest. My mother’s older brother, an industrialist who had taken over the electronics firm their father founded, could not attend the peace conference himself after contributing so much to the war machine.”


Participate in a Live Chat with the author, Pam Jenoff at Booktrib.com on Tues, Feb 5, at 3:30 PM






GIVEAWAY RULES:

BookTrib and the publisher have generously provided a copy of "The Ambassador's Daughter" for a lucky follower of my blog!
All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :)
  • US and Canada only
  • Must be a follower to enter
  • Books will be mailed out by the publisher/publicist
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends Tues Feb 12
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"The King's Damsel" Review

"The King's Damsel"
by Kate Emerson

Publisher: Gallery
Release Date: Aug 7, 2012
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:
In the fifth novel in Kate Emerson's highly acclaimed Secrets of the Tudor Court series, a young gentlewoman catches King Henry the Eighth's roving eye.In 1533 and again in 1534, Henry the Eighth reportedly kept a mistress while he was married to Anne Boleyn. Now, that mistress comes to vivid life in Kate Emerson's The King's Damsel.
A real-life letter from Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, written on September 27, 1534, reported that the king had "renewed and increased the love he formerly bore to another very handsome young lady of the Court" and that the queen had tried "to dismiss the damsel from her service." Other letters from Eustace reveal that the mystery woman was a "true friend" of the Princess (later Queen) Mary, Henry's daughter by Catherine of Aragon. Though no one knows who "the king's damsel" really was, here Kate Emerson presents her as young gentlewoman Thomasine Lodge, a lady-in-waiting to King Henry's daughter, Princess Mary. Thomasine becomes the Princess's confidante, especially as Henry's marriage to Catherine dissolves and tensions run high. When the king procures a divorce in order to marry Anne Boleyn, who is suspicious and distrustful of Mary, Mary has Thomasine placed in Anne's service to be her eyes and ears. And that's when she gets the attention of the king...
Rich in historical detail and featuring a wealth of bonus material, The King's Damsel is sure to keep readers coming back for more in the exciting series!

My Review:

There were aspects that I really liked about this historical fiction book, but then there were aspects that weren't so great too. Overall, it was a nice book, but didn't really stand out from the crowd for me.

One thing that I really liked about the book was that it was realistic historically, but it didn't push the shock factor like most historical fiction does. I liked that it did talk about the less pleasant aspects of life in the 1500's but it was never coarse or over the top with the ick factor. For me, this made the book a lighter read than most historical fiction, but I think it will still appeal to fans of the genre because of the great historical detail throughout.

However, sometimes the book moved really slowly. At times, the lead character seemed like more of an observer or a narrator rather than the main character. She seemed to just react to the events around her. Perhaps this had to do with the first person narrative.

Seeing the Tudor court through Henry's daughter, Mary, was something new that I hadn't seen done before. I thought this was very creative and interesting. Again, it was refreshing to see a more innocent view of the court without the constant onslaught of gritty realism.

Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5
Setting: 4/5

Romance: 4/5

Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 4/5


Bottom Line: A different look at Tudor court, and a quick, painless read.





Giveaway and Guest Post with Sophie Perinot!

 
As part of the blog tour for The Sister Queens, I am happy to welcome the author of the book, Sophie Perinot to In the Hammock for a guest post. The publisher is generously giving away a copy of this historical novel for a lucky reader of my blog.


Here's Sophie!




Standing at the Intersection of Women’s and Historical Fiction

by Sophie Perinot

Recently I was a featured author at the Baltimore Book Festival.  As such I participated in a number of interesting panels, including one entitled “What is Women’s Fiction?”

Good question.  Before I sat down to prepare for this panel I’d never articulated a personal definition of “women’s fiction” or thought about whether or how my work fits into the genre. I write historical fiction.  Do I consider historical fiction to be women’s fiction?

Not all historical fiction certainly.  But the type of historical fiction I personally write—most definitely.  I write what I like to call “women-centric” historical fiction.  While my plots include battles and political intrigue (what is historical fiction without intrigue) they aren’t driven by those things.  They are driven by female characters facing issues that transcend any single time period.  To me that is the heart and soul of women’s fiction—whatever other genre a book falls under, to be women’s fiction it needs to examine and expound upon situations and questions that have concerned women for hundreds of years and will concern women for hundreds more years to come.

There may well be as many definitions of “women’s fiction” as there are women readers or women writers.  For example, my fellow Baltimore panelist Lisa Verge Higgins who writes for Grand Central opined that in order to be a work of women’s fiction a book must involve “a woman falling in love with her own life.”  The women’s fiction chapter of RWA on the other hand defines women’s fiction as a commercial novel about a woman on the brink of life change and personal growth.  Neither of these definitions hit quite the right note with me, so here is my personal definition:
Women’s fiction is fiction in which (1) a female main character (2) confronts issues, relationships and/or situations that have a certain universality to women throughout the ages and (3) through her own actions, resolves or at least come out on the other side of those issues having grown.

My debut novel, The Sister Queens, definitely fulfills all three points of my definition.  Set in the 13th century, it tells the tale of two sisters from Provence who became the queens of France and England.  In doing so it focuses on how their relationship as sisters (a timeless relationship if ever there was one) shaped and sustained them as queens, wives and mothers.  In the course of the book my sisters wrestle with issues like: sibling rivalry; the illness and loss of a child, trying to build a power base in a male-dominated field (in their case 13th century royal politics); and unhappiness in marriage. All issues that I believe resonate with modern women and will resonate with our granddaughters.  And both my sisters grow immensely in the course of the novel (which covers 20 years).

In Baltimore each author on my panel was asked to select a brief reading from her book illustrating how it fit her definition of “women’s fiction.” I’d like to share the excerpt I selected from The Sister Queens.  It comes from Chapter 4 in which the eldest of my sisters—Marguerite—begins to realize that the she is lonely and unhappy in her marriage to Louis IX of France, a marriage which in its earliest stages seemed to be the stuff of fairytales.

It is 1237 and Marguerite has just joined Louis in the gardens of the Plais du Roi in Paris:
“I have heard from my sister the Queen of England.”
“Hm.”  Louis does not look up from the letter he is reading beneath the pear tree – the tree that used to be ours.  “I truly believe this fellow is being abused by one of my barons.  He sought help at the local Franciscan monastery and the abbot writes to me.”  Unlike in former times, he no longer pats the spot on the carpet beside him and asks me to sit.  And this fact makes me both sad and angry.
“Her husband the King surprised her by hiring an artist to paint her bedchamber at the Tower of London while she and all the court were at Westminster.”  I will not be distracted, certainly not by some barefoot monk from the countryside.  I do not begrudge the time Louis spends sitting where once we studied my Latin, meting out justice to his subjects.  But surely he should do me justice as well, and give me a modicum of his attention. “Louis, did you hear me?”  I put my hands upon my hips.  Have I become a shrew?  My husband looks up, startled.  He thinks of me, when his mind strays in my direction at all these days, as a mild woman, a woman of patience.  And so I have been, but to what end?
“Your sister is at Westminster.”  He looks genuinely puzzled.
“No, my sister has just returned from Westminster to find her rooms painted with hundreds upon hundreds of delicate roses at the King of England’s behest.”
“How singular, and what a waste.  Just think how many of the poor he might have fed with the same monies.”
“That would indeed have been a noble enterprise, but surely giving pleasure to his wife is also worthy?  The two are not in opposition to each other.  Henry of England may give to the poor and also to my sister Eleanor.”
“So it seems.”  Louis looks down again and turns another page.  Then, as if struck by something, looks up at me again.  “If you want your rooms painted and your incomes do not permit it, I shall be happy to advance you the money.  I sincerely hope, however, you will select a more exalted theme.  Perhaps the parables.”
I feel as though Louis has slapped me.  Mild mannered Louis, who shows the most exquisite kindness to the sick in our city’s hospitals.  Who cleans their filth and changes their dressings.  Can he not see that I do not envy Eleanor her freshly painted rooms, but the solicitude of her husband – a man whom, from what my sister’s letters tell, rises each morning intent on finding some novel manner of delighting or pampering his wife?  My eyes sting.  But even if a loss of composure might recall my husband’s attention, I cannot bear to expose my feelings to someone so clearly indifferent to them.

Women have dealt with the cooling of marital relationships for centuries and will continue to face the issue as long as marriage exists.  In fact, in The Sister Queens itself my second sister—Eleanor—whose marriage is generally happy and successful also faces a bout of marital staleness (though hers comes as more of a mid-life crisis).  So, I clearly have the first two points of my definition covered even in this brief selection.  To find out how Marguerite resolves her disappointment with and distance from Louis (thus, hitting point number three in my definition) I am afraid you’ll have to read the book ;)

What about it readers—how would you define women’s fiction?  Is there an intersection between women’s fiction and historical fiction or am I just imagining one?

http://www.agentquery.com/genre_descriptions.aspx


Thank you for stopping by, Sophie!

Here is more info about the book!

"Sister Queens"
Sophie Perinot

Publisher: NAL Trade
Release Date: Mar 6, 2012
Source: sent by publicist


Summary from goodreads.com:  


Patient, perfect, and used to being first, Marguerite becomes Queen of France. But Louis IX is a religious zealot who denies himself the love and companionship his wife craves. Can she borrow enough of her sister's boldness to grasp her chance for happiness in a forbidden love?

Passionate, strong-willed, and stubborn, Eleanor becomes Queen of England. Henry III is a good man, but not a good king. Can Eleanor stop competing with her sister and value what she has, or will she let it slip away?

The Sister Queens is historical fiction at its most compelling, and is an unforgettable first novel.
 
Link to tour schedule:  http://www.hfvirtualbooktours.com/2012/10/sophie-perinot-on-tour-for-sister.html
Links for author Sophie Perinot:  WEBSITE | BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER
Twitter Event Hashtag:  #SisterQueensVirtualTour






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All you have to do is follow my blog publicly and fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow publicly or I can't tell that you are following :)
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"Be Still My Soul" Review

"Be Still My Soul"
by Joanne Bischof

Publisher: Multnomah
Release Date: Oct 2, 2012
Source: sent by publisher
 
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:
Night’s chill tickled her skin. Lonnie pressed her hands together and glanced up. He was even more handsome up close. Having grown up the shy, awkward daughter of Joel Sawyer, she’d hardly spoken to any boy, let alone the one who had mothers whispering warnings in their daughter’s ears and fathers loading shotguns.
 
Pretty Lonnie Sawyer is shy and innocent, used to fading into the background within her family, and among the creeks and hollows of the Appalachian hills. Though her family is poor and her father abusive, she clings to a quiet faith.  But when handsome ladies’ man and bluegrass musician Gideon O’Riley steals a kiss, that one action seals her fate. 

Her father forces her into a hasty marriage with Gideon—a man she barely knows and does not love. Equally frustrated and confused by his new responsibilities, Gideon yearns for a fresh start, forcing  Lonnie on an arduous journey away from her home in Rocky Knob.

Her distant groom can’t seem to surrender his rage at the injustice of the forced matrimony or give Lonnie any claim in his life.  What will it take for Gideon to give up his past, embrace Lonnie’s God, and discover a hope that can heal their two fractured hearts?

Gideon only ever cared about himself. Now that Lonnie is his wife, will he ever be worthy of her heart?

My Review:

This book was different from any other romance that I have read. The hero, Gideon, was absolutely horrible to Lonnie.  I mean, the things he did to her were so absolutely despicable that I hardly even want to repeat all of them here. He attempted to rape her, which is why they were forced to marry, and he pushed and kicked her in the face (accidental? It's murky), among many other emotionally cold and abusive things. I was really in shock that this was the 'hero' of the story. There were a few things about the way the story was told that made it better, but it was still horrifying for the most part. First of all, the time period of the early 1900s and the setting of a poor community in Appalachia made Lonnie's decisions more clear. She couldn't go back to her family, who had forced her into the marriage. As a woman in that time and place, she literally had no options or anywhere else to go. I hope that readers realize this, and realize that as a woman NOW and in 2012, there are places to go and ways to get away from such a terrible husband and terrible situation. In this day and age, I do not believe that Gideon deserved the second, third, fourth, and fifth chances that he received then.

If it hadn't been for the appearance of Jedidiah and Elsie in the story, I don't think I could have finished the book. However, this beautiful couple came along about 1/3 of the way in, and took a pregnant Lonnie and Gideon into their home and hearts. This started as a way to protect Lonnie from her immature, selfish husband. With Jed and Elsie in her corner, Lonnie was able to stand up to Gideon a lot, and I was very proud of her. She locked him out, stopped speaking to him, and kicked him out. Yay, Lonnie!

The story itself had an elementary quality, everything was written in a super simplified way. Sometimes, scenes were left open-ended. I would turn the page, expecting a scene to continue, only to discover it had ended abruptly. I found myself doing this even the very last page of the book, thinking, "Where is the rest of the ending?" I finished the book because Jed and Elsie made me confident that Lonnie was going to be ok and cared about, and I had to know how Gideon would be able to redeem himself even a fraction.

Main Characters: 3/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5
Setting: 4/5

Romance: I just can't give it a rating

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 3/5


Bottom Line: This really is an interesting book.  I have never seen something like this done intentionally before. Hopefully readers know the difference between situations in the early 1900's and now, and realize there are options for women in 2012.

"A Place Beyond Courage" Review

"A Place Beyond Courage"
by Elizabeth Chadwick

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: Sep 1, 2012
Source: ARC sent by publisher

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:
The early twelfth century is a time for ambitious men to prosper, and royal servant John FitzGilbert is one of them. But when the old king dies and his successor is appointed, John faces a terrible choice: he must join the rival faction-his enemies- or risk losing everything. His new wife helps him carry his burden, but his final choice will seal not only her fate, but those of his young children.
As the fight for England's crown enters a new phase, John may be forced to make a terrible sacrifice...

My Review:

I prefer the rose-tinted glasses of historical romance over historical fiction, so this book wasn't really for me. The first book that I read by this author, For the King's Favor, was such a beautiful romance, that I thought all of the author's books would read that way. However, after many more chances that I've given the author, I've found that her books are true to the historical fiction norm of gritty realism instead of soft, sweet romance. While For the King's Favor will remain on my favorites shelf, I think this will be the last book I read by the author. I do not deny her fantastic skill as a writer, but her books are not for me. I will leave them to historical fiction fans and stop trying to make them into what they are not: historical romance.

The author's attention to detail is amazing, she really makes the reader feel like they are at medieval court. She uses a special method of transporting herself to the time period mentally, and savoring the feelings of the characters, and sensing her surroundings. (read about Akashic Records here) Whether or not you believe this type of telepathy has actually worked or not, she does a great job of describing things and people as if she were there.

John was just so abrasive and unlikable from the very beginning. His ambition outweighed all else. I thought his job as the coordinator of the court prostitutes was distasteful to read about instead of intriguing as it seemed to be intended.

Fans of William Marshal, from the author's arguably most popular book, The Greatest Knight, will definitely feel like they need to read this book. It's almost like the Marshal saga comes full circle, as readers can finally see him as a child.

Main Characters: 3/5
Supporting Characters: 3/5
Setting: 4/5

Romance: 3/5

Uniqueness: 3/5
Cover: 3/5
Writing: 5/5


Bottom Line: Another vastly detailed look at medieval court, this is definitely a book for fans of historical fiction and the author's previous work.


If you are interested in reading about this author's other books, I have reviewed a few others on my blog:

"For the King's Favor" (my favorite by the author)


Giveaway and Review: "Jane"

by Robin Maxwell Publisher: Tor
Release Date: Sep 12, 2012
Source: ARC sent by publisher/publicist

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Summary from goodreads.com:  


Cambridge, England: 1905. Jane Porter is hardly a typical woman of her time. The only female student in Cambridge University’s medical program, she is far more comfortable in a lab coat, dissecting corpses, than she is in a corset and gown, sipping afternoon tea. A budding paleoanthropologist, Jane dreams of travelling the globe in search of fossils that will prove the evolutionary theories of her scienti?c hero, Charles Darwin.

When dashing American explorer Ral Conrath invites Jane and her father on an expedition deep into West Africa, she can hardly believe her luck. Rising to the challenge, Jane ?nds an Africa that is every bit exotic and fascinating as she has always imagined. But she quickly learns that the lush jungle is full of secrets—and so is Ral Conrath. When danger strikes, Jane ?nds her hero, the key to humanity’s past, and an all-consuming love in one extraordinary man: Tarzan of the Apes.

Jane is the ?rst version of the Tarzan story written by a woman and authorized by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate. Its 2012 publication will mark the centennial of the publication of the original Tarzan of the Apes.
 

My Review:

I haven't read the original book, "Tarzan of the Apes" by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but since this book is authorized by the estate, I feel like it must be respectful to the original. I have seen one of the movie versions, and the story does follow the same basic path, but there is more background for Jane in the beginning. The book never feels like a boring retelling of all the info that you already know from the original. The bare bones of the story are the same, but everything feels new about this story because it is told from Jane's point of view.

My favorite aspect of the book is just how very strong and smart that Jane is. She is before her time in 1905, but she never apologizes for her strength and her character. I really admire her unapologetic feminist viewpoints. She might be slightly exaggerated, but this works here 100%. Jane is in a word: fierce.

I admit that I did want her to find Tarzan a little faster, but her academic world was interesting to read about as well. Her relationship with her father was played out a lot more in the beginning too, so we can see where the characters were coming from. As a whole, this added to the book being different from what you might expect it to be-just Tarzan and Jane.


Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5

Setting: 5/5

Romance: 5/5
Uniqueness: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 5/5



Bottom Line:
A wonderful look at the Tarzan story from Jane's point of view. Since the book is authorized by the estate, it stays respectful to the original.

GIVEAWAY RULES:

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"Love's Reckoning" Review

"Love's Reckoning"
by Laura Frantz

Publisher: Revell
Release Date: Sep 1, 2012
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:
On a bitter December day in 1785, Silas Ballantyne arrives at the door of master blacksmith Liege Lee in York, Pennsylvania. Just months from becoming a master blacksmith himself, Silas is determined to finish his apprenticeship and move west. But Liege soon discovers that Silas is a prodigious worker and craftsman and endeavors to keep him in Lancaster. Silas becomes interested in both of Liege's daughters, the gentle and faith-filled Eden and the clever and high-spirited Elspeth. When he chooses one, will the other's jealousy destroy their love?
In this sweeping family saga set in western Pennsylvania, one man's choices in love and work, in friends and enemies, set the stage for generations to come. "Love's Reckoning" is the first entry in The Ballantyne Legacy, a rich, multi-layered historical quartet from talented writer Laura Frantz, beginning in the late 1700s and following the Ballantyne family through the end of the Civil War.

My Review:

This was a really exceptional historical inspirational romance. It really goes above and beyond the genre 'guidelines' and will appeal to readers who love history and romance, not just fans of inspirational fiction. The Christian element is there, but it never comes across as preachy. The message is about love and finding a place in the world instead of strict religious viewpoints.

The romance was so addicting. Eden and Silas meeting on the stairs in secret was really fun to read about. Yes it sounds scandalous, but really it wasn't at all, which made it all the more romantic. It really took so long for them to admit their feelings, and their finally coming together was really worth the wait.

Eden's family was so horrible to both Eden and Silas, except for her mother. Eden's sister, Elspeth, was just really the type of character that you love to hate. She was just so spiteful and jealous, you really couldn't put anything past her. Thankfully, Eden had friends in her neighbors, and unexpected strength in Silas.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5
Setting: 4/5

Romance: 5/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 5/5


Bottom Line:  Fantastic historical romance, I really couldn't ask for anything more.



爵士娱乐华人