Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Reviews to Look For...

The following books are books that I have read and reviewed, but will not publish the reviews until they have first been published by the Historical Novel Society.

Syncopation: A Memoir of Adèle Hugo       

William & Lucy  Look for these reviews ( and more!)throughout the Summer!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Place Beyond Courage

I believe this book, which was published in 2007 in the U.K. will be published in the U.S. sometime this summer. 
Before this book I had read of John Marshal , in When Christ and His Saints Slept(Sharon Kay Penman), and of course, Wikipedia, so my impression of him was as a ruthless, heartless man who would stop at nothing to advance himself and his cause.  Actually, in my mind I called him "Mr. Hammer and Anvils,"  because of his comment, while his son was being held hostage for his good behavior, that he had the "hammer and anvils to forge more and better sons." 
So one day on Facebook I followed a discussion on Elizabeth Chadwick's page that involved women swooning over John...I was perplexed.  After a lengthy discussion I decided I could not live another day without reading this book, and was disappointed to find out that I would have to order it from the U.K and wait.  It was worth the wait.

The book follows John Marshal, before and during England's Civil War between Stephen former Count of Mortain and usurper of the English throne, and the Empress Matilda, rightful heir to her father's kingdom. In order to survive John has to make agonizing and dangerous decisions, some of which have been condemned through out time as mad, heartless, the actions of a lunatic. From having half of his face melted off while trapped in a burning church, to allowing his 5 year old son to be hung for his own "traitorous" behavior, to the more mundane things like trying out all the court prostitutes to make sure they were fit for service, this was an amazing, breath-holding page-turner. Although I well knew the Marshal's story long before I read this book, Elizabeth Chadwick is that rare sort of story-teller that makes you believe you are reading the story for the first time.

Once again, I can't stress enough that Elizabeth Chadwick is an amazing writer who makes you feel as though you are living the history.  Her use of the Akashic Records is fascinating.  So, here is to John Marshal, one of my new historical heroes.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Homage to my First Favorite Book

This book was published in 1992, the same year that I scooped it up as a freebie at an end-of-school year book give away.  I was late to the give away because I was off playing somewhere,  so all of the popular books (Babysitter's Club, etc.) were taken.  I got stuck with the left-overs, which happened to be this book.  It is a non-fiction encyclopedia-type book full of all kinds of trivia and just down-right interesting facts.  I gobbled the book up and it sent me on many different paths and and directions.
That was 20 years ago, and I have gone through thousands and thousands of books since then, some have stayed on the shelf and traveled here and there with me, others have been traded off for newer or better models, but there has never in my mind been a question of getting rid of this book.  It has a proud place of honor at the top of my shelf, with it's brittle yellow pages and musty smell.  I show it off to anyone and everyone who takes an interest in my book shelves.  So this post is my homage to my very first, very favorite book,
Kid Stuff:  People, Places and Things to Know.

My Enemy's Tears


I reviewed this self-published book for the HNS several months ago in the fall.  I remember sitting at work in my car on my lunch break, rain pouring, reading this book.  The pouring rain suited the book and I thought added to the atmosphere...

Mary Bliss (Parsons) moves with her family from England to the colonies to escape religious persecution and the King’s tyranny.  We watch the intelligent, beautiful and observant Mary grow up in the harsh environment of Puritan New England. Throughout her life, from sleepwalking child to serving girl to wealthy wife, Mary is confronted with her neighbor’s jealousies and superstitions.  She is accused more than once of witchcraft, and we see the story through all the way to her trial in Boston.
This book is an interesting mix of novel and biography, a format that works here extremely well. There are no gaps in the story, characters are consistent and well-developed, and I grew to love Mary and her family—and to resent the petty suspicions of her neighbors. Mary’s story is told with the careful attention to detail of an author who obviously cares deeply for the story, and consequently, the reader also cares deeply. When I reached the last page, I would have been content to read 450 more pages of Mary’s life. The book is very professionally printed, the cover is a beautiful dark matte finish, and I found no misprints. This was an excellent read.

My review courtesy of the Historical Novel Society.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Her Highness, the Traitor

Susan Higginbotham does it again!

This is not the story of the nine-day Queen, Lady Jane Grey, but of her family, her husband Guildford Dudley’s family, and how they were affected by King Edward VI’s device for the succession. It is told from the points of view of Lady Jane Dudley and Lady Frances Grey, the mothers of the would-be ruling couple. Here the infamous Duke of Northumberland, John Dudley, becomes a devoted and attentive husband; he is a firm leader for England and peaceful about meeting his gruesome end. Lady Frances becomes not a mean, ambitious mother, but a woman who loved but could not relate to her intelligent teenage daughter, Jane.
The story begins with Henry VIII’s death and recaps all of the classic anecdotes from this time: Katherine Parr’s shocking remarriage and death, Lady Mary Tudor’s failed attempt to escape England and her imagined religious persecution, and the feud between Northumberland and Somerset, resulting in Somerset’s demise against the English population’s wishes – all leading up to Edward VI’s plans to make his Protestant cousin Jane the queen of England. But it also provides the stories behind the stories, told from the fresh perspectives of the mothers involved.
Along with historical accuracy, a swift-moving plot and little family details that any mother would remember and treasure, such as Lady Dudley’s talking parrot and Lady Grey’s dismay at her daughter’s surprising lack of common sense, the novel includes characterizations at which this author excels. She takes the infamous villains of history and presents them as relatable human characters.
This book at times made me smile and then cry with the tragedy. I very much recommend it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

TBR--To Be Read/Reviewed/Revered/Reviled

Here are a couple of the books that are on my current TBR pile....

Product Details         

Of course, I have yet to be disappointed in any of Elizabeth Chadwick's work.  She is amazing.  Not only is she a brilliant story-teller with a searching imagination, but she also makes use of the Akashic record, which even if you have your doubts, is fascinating.
I have never read Sharon Potts, and I requested this book from NetGalley on a whim, it is out of my usual range, for sure, but sometimes a change is nice.
Happy reading, all!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Rare 5 Star Book

You Are Not Like Other Mothers

You Are Not Like Other Mothers is a simple title for a book that is neither simple fiction nor dry enough to be called non-fiction. Instead it is a narrative vacuum into which the reader is sucked along with the author’s thoughtful (if belated) understanding of her flighty, pleasure-seeking mother, Else, and those who lived in Else’s world.
A middle-class Jewish girl in pre-WWI Berlin, Else, to her parents’ horror, loved Christmas trees; as a new wife and mother, she elopes with the moody, artistic gentile Fritz. In self-absorbed roaring ´20s Berlin, she and Fritz both take numerous lovers and throw countless wild parties, the guest lists including most of Germany’s intellectual elite.
Meanwhile, Else’s decent Jewish parents are kept in the dark about her wild lifestyle until Else becomes pregnant with her third child, who does not belong to her husband. Fritz chooses to leave Else and marry his lover.
The child turns out to be Angelika, the precocious and peculiar author of this epic character study. Through Angelika’s reflections and Else’s copious letters, we live through Germany’s good times, then Hitler’s rise, Else’s last-minute evacuation to Bulgaria with her children, narrowly escaping the beginning of the Holocaust. Then, the misery of war and the terror and joy of the Allied bombs, the miraculous fall of the Third Reich, and the close of the Iron Curtain on Eastern Europe.
Else and her child finally return to Germany, where Else, tired and terminally ill, confronts her memories of her misspent life and reflects upon her newly-found, hard-won wisdom.
Schrobsdorff writes a poetic ode to her mother, whom she hated and adored, revered and pitied, and who couldn’t help but to live life to its fullest and regret the consequences later. This book was fantastic. I more than recommend it.
My review (and thanks for this wonderful book) courtesy of the HNS.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Books I Want to Read!

Product ImageA lot of people have told me that this is the book that started their HistFic obsession.

Product Image   Because C.W. Gortner creates his characters fully and with passion.

There are a few others, but these are the ones on my mind today.  I have just started reading The King's Damsel by Kate Emerson, which I am reviewing for the Historical Novel Society.

The King's Damsel (Secrets of

Happy reading!