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Feb 27, 2013

William Marshal series by Mary Pershall

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Thanks to inka for sharing this on Goodreads

I had recently acquired some Mary Pershall titles that are out of print but looking like a lot of fun for reading by the beach type of thing, so I wanted to share with you. If this is deja vu, it is because I had posted a few of the titles in a mailbox post a few years ago. I've received a new shinier set now, with the addition of the last title and these copies are in a lot better shape. Has anyone read any of these? I would love to know if they merit the steamy covers, but I'd venture to say there are some romantic scenes.. and would make for a great buddy read/read along/book club discussion, perhaps. A little birdie told me the heroine of the first one was TSTL. I had to ask what that meant, and the answer is Too Stupid To Live. Definitely beach reads, eh? In my case, by the pool with a margarita or two.

Information is hard to find on the author. It seems she also writes children's books with her daughter and has another pen name of Susan Shelley.

My pretty  maids all in a row..

Lady Eve MacMurrough, fairest of Erin's fair flowers, her flashing emerald eyes held secrets no man could resist. Defiant daughter of one king and willful ward of another, she would bring the purity of true love to her marriage bed.
Sir Richard FiztGilbert deClare, sitting astride his great black war horse Taran, no English knight was bolder. To the tempestuous Lady Eve he had pledged his troth, but he longed to posses in timeless ecstasy her wild, resisting heart.
Born in a fierce, feudal world as cruel as it was courtly, theirs was the rapturous love destined to change the face of the Irish nation forever.

Isabel de Clare. Her tawny beauty was a King's prize, to be locked within a brooding castle until she exchanged its gray walls for a husband's tyranny...

William Marshal. The towering knight armed with a will of steel, he conquered Isabel's senses in a single blazing night.

Lovers bound by destiny. His power matched her pride. Their passion was a battlefield with no quarter given - and none asked. And with every battle they gambled what they held most dear...the tenderest of loves, in the heat of ceaseless challenge so dearly gained, and so easily lost...

Eleanor Plantagenet. The raven-haired princess of the roses, betrothed as a child, betrayed as a woman- an innocent flower waiting to be plucked by the stranger she must call her lord.. her master.. her husband. William Fitzwilliam Marshal {fictional son of William Marshal}.
The powerful Earl of Pembroke, his castle was a possession defended by his mighty sword; his bride was a royal prize granted by his king... Their destiny was desire. His passion demanded her surrender. Her pride refused to yield even as her body submitted to a traitorous pleasure in his arms. Theirs was a fierce battle of hearts, where looks could wound, where words could kill, where wanton desire drover her into rapture's flames... but kindled a war that could destroy all they cherished - or inspire the triumph of glorious love eternal...

Roanna Royston. The beautiful tavern wench from the lusty London docks whom fortune made a lady...she was as bold and rebellious as the wild mane of hair that tumbled 'round her shoulders - until one man's savage passions possessed her.

Giles fitzWilliam. The bastard son of one of England's noblest families, the stableboy who became a knight....he longed for the fiery tempered Roanna, had always wanted her, would never stop wanting her...

Destined for Danger, Desire, and Triumph.
While all of England writhed in the flames of rebellion they loved and fought with a passion that could never be conquered. Surrounded by treachery, accused of treason, forced into captivity, neither would surrender...until a final ravishing climax brought the lady and the knight together on the peaks of burning love..

I also found this image on goodreads for the last title:

*whew, off I go to fan myself*

Feb 26, 2013

The Plantagenet Series by Juliet Dymoke

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
The Synopses of The Plantagenet Series by Juliet Dymoke


I was very lucky to be put in touch with someone selling some of their out of print historicals, and this lot of Juliet Dymoke titles is exactly what made me want to buy the whole box of books, even though there were some duplicates within. I had these Juliet Dymoke books on my wish list forever but I was only able to find the USA version of Lady of the Garter once in my local used bookstore. The ones shown above are the UK editions, from 'New England Library' (London based) which are now happily part of my personal library. Some of the novels may be found via Amazon, I linked their titles above directly to their Amazon pages in case you want to buy them for yourself.

I hadn't been able to find much information online about them regarding their plot points etc., so I wanted to share the descriptions from back covers with you, keeping in mind I kept those words which are UK spellings:

A Pride of Kings
The first king whom William Marshal met had nearly hanged him. That was Stephen of Blois. Years later William Marshal, the landless, penniless younger son who earned his living with his sword on the tourney fields of Europe, and rose to the highest office in the land under the crown, served five kings of the great Plantagenet line. One died in his arms, one accused him without cause, one raised him to high honours, another turned against him.

Throughout it all, William Marshal never swerved in his loyalty to the quarrelsome, unpredictable, charming and autocratic brood of Henry II, founder of the Plantagenet dynasty.

A Pride of Kings is the first of a series of novels which tell the story of the Plantagenet monarchs through the eyes of the men and women who served them, loved them or betrayed them.

The Royal Griffin
The love story of Princess Eleanor, proud daughter of the Plantagenet dynasty, and Simon de Montfort who though not a commoner was no more than the younger son of a Norman baron, is one of the great romances of the thirteenth century.

His own qualities as much as his kinship to the royal house raised Simon to a position of importance in England, but his friendship with the vain weathercock king soon changed to bitter enmity. Simon became the champion of all those, from barons to peasants, who wanted a curb put on the king's power. Inevitably, he grew too powerful himself, and came to blows with both Henry III and his son the Lord Edward.

Throughout a lifetime of conflict and divided loyalties, Eleanor never lost sight of her royal heritage as the king's sister, but until the final disaster she remained Simon's devoted wife.

The Royal Griffin continues the fascinating story of the Plantagenet family, which began in A Pride of Kings.

The Lion of Mortimer
All the ability, strength and charm of the Plantagenets reached their peak in the person of Edward I, and Simon de Montacute was proud that his own son William should in his turn serve the old King's heir.

Though the second Edward was weak and frivolous, and his passion for Piers Gaveston roused his barons against him, he retained and repaid William's loyalty, and William shared the King's growing hatred for Roger Mortimer as that grasping baron rose to power and too great an influence over Edward's slighted Queen. It was left to young Will de Montecute, friend and close companion of Prince Edward, to play a part in  Mortimer's downfall and the resurgence of the royal Plantagenet line.

Following A Pride of Kings and The Royal Griffin, The Lion of Mortimer continues the turbulent story of the Plantagenet dynasty, their faithful friends and their bitter enemies.

Lady of The Garter
Overshadowed by her brilliant husband and then by her wayward and ill-fated son, the Princess Joan might have been remembered only as the Black Prince's wife, Richard II's widowed mother.

But Joan's life had its fill of drama and romance. Despite a secret betrothal in girlhood, she was married to another man. The King took her as his mistress; the common folk loved her for her kindliness and beauty.

For of all the Plantagenet women, Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent, was perhaps the most beautiful. Her passionate love story was lived against the background of such great events as the victories of Crecy and Poitiers, at the brilliant court of Edward III and among his sons and daughters who had their full share of Plantagenet pride and ambition.

Lady of the Garter is the fourth is this series of novels retelling the magnificent story of the Plantagenets.

{The US edition is the same, except for "at the brilliant court of Edward III, and among his proud and ambitious sons and daughters.... a series of historical novels which tell the story of the Plantagenet monarchs through the eyes of the men and women who served them, loved them, or betrayed them, and in so doing, helped shape the events of English history.}

The Lord of Greenwich
Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster, wrested the throne from his cousin Richard II and sowed the seeds of conflict between York and Lancaster. Now Henry V must keep what his father had won.

So Henry turned to his brothers for support and Humfrey of Gloucester gave in unstintingly, though he later tried to wield power during the minority of his nephew, Henry VI. And there was another side to Humfrey's character. A genuine scholar, he loved books in an age when learning was for cloisterman, not courtiers.

But Humfrey inherited not only the Plantagenet charm and energy, but also their talent for stirring up trouble. He quarrelled bitterly with the staider members of the family over his marriages and love affairs, for Humfrey's wild passions could always attract women,

Soldier, scholar and lover, Duke Humfrey embodied the best and the worst qualities of the Plantagenet dynasty, whose earlier story is told in {the names of the aforementioned books}.

The Sun in Splendour
The throne of England, seized by Henry IV, is disputed by the heirs of York and Lancaster. Edward IV, brilliant and handsome in the Plantagenet mould, rules a land split by rival factions, and his secret marriage to Elizabeth Woodville has alienated many of his supporters.

Experiencing the excitement of court life, anxious months in hiding while the Lancastrian party control England, Edward's final victory and her own personal griefs, Bess Bourchier {Elizabeth Tilney} shares tragedy and triumph with her friend the Queen, and with the King whom she idolizes. Later as she tries to make the best of a loveless second marriage, Bess sees the inevitable decline of Plantagenet greatness which will revive only briefly under Richard III, last of the dynasty.

The Sun in Splendour is the sixth and final novel in a series which traces the fortunes of the Plantagenet monarch through nearly four hundred years.

So far, this is my Juliet Dymoke collection. I have since ordered two more of her novels, and will probably buy the rest as I find them.

Juliet Dymoke is a pen name for Juliet Dymoke de Schanschieff (1919-2001). Her work should appeal to readers of Sharon Kay Penman and Elizabeth Chadwick. There is a list of other novels by the author located here.

Feb 24, 2013

Suddenly Sunday | Mailbox Monday | Book Fetish

Sunday, February 24, 2013
The Sunday   
Visit Svea's blog at The Muse in The Fog Book Review to start linking up your Sunday posts; Suddenly Sunday is a weekly event hosted by Svea whose purpose is to share all the exciting events that have occurred on your blog throughout the week.

Mailbox Monday is a meme originally from Marcia's Mailbox and is being hosted by the Amazing Audra @ Unabridged Chick this February. The Story Siren also hosts IMM, so we can find some cool YA titles there as well.

The What Are You Reading meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.

I went to Half-Price books and was eager to drop a load of money especially since I had a 20% off coupon, but it seems I already own most of the used books that are circulating Rockwall (that I want to own). So I only found these few worthy enough to come home with me:
Winter King by Thomas Penn (I was slightly geeked out when I found this hardcover for $7.99, I have wanted this ever since I had heard about it last year - & of course my personal assistant/daughter dropped it on its' head so I made her go get another)
It was 1501. England had been ravaged for decades by conspiracy, violence, murders, coups and countercoups. Through luck, guile and ruthlessness, Henry VII, the first of the Tudor kings, had clambered to the top of the heap--a fugitive with a flimsy claim to England's throne. For many he remained a usurper, a false king.

But Henry had a crucial asset: his queen and their children, the living embodiment of his hoped-for dynasty. Queen Elizabeth was a member of the House of York. Henry himself was from the House of Lancaster, so between them they united the warring parties that had fought the bloody century-long War of the Roses. Now their older son, Arthur, was about to marry a Spanish princess. On a cold November day sixteen-year-old Catherine of Aragon arrived in London for a wedding that would mark a triumphal moment in Henry's reign.

In this remarkable book, Thomas Penn re-creates the story of the tragic, magnetic Henry VII--a controlling, paranoid, avaricious monarch who was entering the most perilous years of his long reign.

Rich with drama and insight, Winter King is an astonishing story of pageantry, treachery, intrigue and incident--and the fraught, dangerous birth of Tudor England.

I am going on a MaryLu Tyndall collecting spree, so I found this one:
The Reliance (Legacy of the King's Pirates #2) by MaryLu Tyndall
Tormented by his wife's apparent demise, Edmund Merrick sails away to drown his sorrows--only to find himself trapped in the dark world of a demented Frenchman. When his mind clears from its rum-induced haze, will Edmund find the will to escape? Seemingly abandoned by her husband, Charlisse is thrown into the clutches of the vengeful pirate Kent. Will she be swept away by the undertow of treachery and despair? Can Edmund and Charlisse steer their way to the faith-filled haven they so desperately seek, or will they ultimately lose their love and lives to the sea?

Daughters of Lancaster County omnibus by Wanda Brunstetter which includes The Storekeeper's Daughter/The Quilter's Daughter/The Bishop's Daughter (Daughters of Lancaster County 1-3).
I am curious to see how I feel about this one, even though the average Goodreads rating is 4.29, actual reviews are kinda all over the place on this one. But I got it for $3 so it's worth a chance.

The riveting story of a kidnapped Amish child is told through three bestselling novels set in Lancaster, Pennsylvania's Amish country. From the beginning, Naomi Fisher blames herself for the family's tragedy and journeys away from home to find a purpose for living. Abby Miller leaves her successful Ohio quilt shop to help the Fisher family, but how long can she continue to put her dreams on hold? Leona Weaver is dedicated to her family and community, but when she falls in love with an outsider, could this friendship bring the haunting tale of a kidnapped boy full circle?

I found a very cool pop up book that I absolutely LOVE:
  awesome popup book

In the Beginning: The Art of Genesis: A Pop-Up Book by Chuck Fischer

There are great images that are fantastic fun for the five year old, yet there is text hidden amongst the folds that is suitable for the older reader like my eleven year old daughter.

An ingenious series of three-dimensional spreads with fold-outs and narrative booklets, IN THE BEGINNING shows how the timeless narratives of the Book of Genesis have inspired artists for thousands of years and continue to do so today. This spectacular gift book features Fischer's original artwork on intricate pop-ups created in collaboration with paper engineer Bruce Foster, which represent the classic stories from the first chapter of the Bible. With spreads that range from a medieval-inspired Garden of Eden to an stunningly tall tower of Babel to a magnificent diorama depicting Jacob's dream of a stairway to Heaven, IN THE BEGINNING is destined to become a treasured keepsake and perennial favorite on every family's shelf.

From Paperbackswap I received:

The untold story of the extraordinary queen who championed Joan of Arc.
Politically astute, ambitious, and beautiful, Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, was one of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages. Caught in the complex dynastic battle of the Hundred Years War, Yolande championed the dauphin's cause against the forces of England and Burgundy, drawing on her savvy, her statecraft, and her intimate network of spies. But the enemy seemed invincible. Just as French hopes dimmed, an astonishingly courageous young woman named Joan of Arc arrived from the farthest recesses of the kingdom, claiming she carried a divine message-a message that would change the course of history and ultimately lead to the coronation of Charles VII and the triumph of France.

Now, on the six hundredth anniversary of the birth of Joan of Arc, this fascinating book explores the relationship between these two remarkable women, and deepens our understanding of this dramatic period in history. How did an illiterate peasant girl gain access to the future king of France, earn his trust, and ultimately lead his forces into battle? Was it only the hand of God that moved Joan of Arc-or was it also Yolande of Aragon?

For review I received Draw The Circle by Mark Batterson, and it is a great companion to my bible study and gives me more things to journal about spiritually!!

Do you pray as often and as boldly as you want to? There is a way to experience a deeper, more passionate, persistent, and intimate prayer life. Drawing from forty days of true stories, Mark Batterson applies the principles of his New York Times bestselling book The Circle Maker to teach us a new way to pray. As thousands of readers quickly became many tens of thousands, true stories of miraculous and inspiring answers to prayer began to pour in, and as those stories were shared, others were bolstered in their faith to pray with even more boldness. In Draw the Circle, through forty true, faith-building stories of God's answers to prayer, daily scriptures and prayer prompts, Batterson inspires you to pray and keep praying like never before. Begin a lifetime of watching God work. Believe in the God who can do all things. Experience the power of bold prayer and even bolder faith in Draw the Circle.

And check out this great looking title I got for review later on this spring:

Wildish: A Story Concerning Different Kinds of Love by Robert Parry
I read Parry's last title, The Arrow Chest, (read my review!) which was a wonderful story and so I am eagerly awaiting this one!
England 1745. Matthew Wildish, poet and Master Wig-maker to the great and the good of London society, is a self-confessed libertine whose ambition is to enjoy life to the full. Yet already events beyond his control have begun to impinge upon his dissolute life. The heart of the nation is beating to the drums of war, and thousands of vengeful Jacobite soldiers from Scotland and France are about to converge upon the capital.

There is also the presence of Johanna: mysterious, enigmatic and vulnerable, a woman unlike any other he has ever known, and the inconvenient and yet increasingly agreeable sensation that he might be falling in love for the very first time.

A magical journey into the fabulous, libidinous world of Georgian England, in which reality and fantasy, romance and the occult combine in a story of epic intensity and poetic beauty.

My order from Amazon came in! Now, if I could just find the time to read them:

Love's Reckoning by Laura Frantz (I've wanted this ever since I first saw it, and entered at least a million contests to win one, but it just wasn't meant to be, so I just went ahead and bought the thing)
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 York. 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.

Forgive my photo editing/ funky filter fun =)
The top two titles in the image above are from Mary Lu Tyndall (for that collecting spree), the bottom two are of the Mercy Falls Series by Colleen Coble.

Charles Town Belles Trilogy/omnibus by MaryLu Tyndall
includes The Red Siren, The Blue Enchantress, and The Raven Saint
Follow the three Westcott sisters of Charles Towne, South Carolina, through adventures on land and sea. Faith has abandoned faith and tradition to earn her fortune and protect her sisters and herself from arranged marriages. Can a god-fearing captain in the Royal British Navy teach her about true love? Hope has chased what she thought was love all the way into the Caribbean, but will the sacrifices of a ship builder be enough to show her the truth about love? Grace has piously clung to her version of truth, but will a French mercenary have something to teach her about redemption and love?

Surrender the Heart by MaryLu Tyndall:
A mistrustful young lady desperate to save her family and a man burdened by guilt who longs to please his parents are both caught in the brink of a war that could change the course of history forever. Can they work together to bring liberty to their fledgling country?

The Lightkeeper's Daughter (Mercy Falls, #1) by Colleen Coble
With the lies of the past behind her, Addie finds love . . . and discovers her true Father.
Addie Sullivan leads a quiet life in a northern California lighthouse. She mourns the death of her father and endures her mother's bitterness, until the night a storm brings an injured stranger and a dark secret to her home. The man insists she is not who she thinks she is, but rather "Julia Eaton"-the child long lost and feared dead by her wealthy family. Seizing the chance to be reunited with the Eatons, Addie leaves her lighthouse home but decides to keep her true identity a secret until they can unravel the mystery.
Addie loves the Eatons' palatial home tucked away among the California redwood forests. She feels secure with the jovial family, adores the young boy who is her charge as governess, and finds romance with his father John, a young widower. But sinister shadows overtake Addie's joy. As dusty rooms and secret compartments give up their clues about her past, Addie finds a faith and a love she could never have guessed. To embrace this new world of promise is to risk her life; but to run away is to risk losing the greatest love she's ever known.

The Lightkeeper's Ball (Mercy Falls #3) by Colleen Coble
At the elegant Mercy Falls masquerade ball, Olivia's hidden identity will be revealed.
It is the dawn of a new century and Olivia Stewart is heiress to an empire. Her family numbers among the Four Hundred--those considered the wealthiest and most distinguished in America. Unfortunately their wealth has nearly disappeared, and now their security rests upon the Stewart daughters marrying well.

Olivia's sister, Eleanor, was engaged to Harrison Bennett, one of the nation's wealthiest men, but has since died. Now the pressure is on Olivia to take her place, despite her suspicions about Eleanor's fiance. Using her family's long-forgotten English title, Olivia travels to Mercy Falls, California, as Lady Devonworth, hoping to learn more before committing to marriage. There she finds that Eleanor's death was no accident. And Harrison is not the man she thought he would be.
When Mercy Falls holds a charity masquerade ball to raise funds for the new lighthouse, secrets--and truths long hidden--will be revealed. But can Harrison really love Olivia when he finds her true identity? Can she live with the repercussions of failing her family, or will she finally realize that nothing--not money, family, or romance--will ever compare to God's unconditional love?

Featured eBook download:
That Summer in Cornwall by Ciji Ware
That Summer in Cornwall is a contemporary, stand-alone sequel to Ciji Ware’s bestselling “time-slip” novel A Cottage by the SeaWHICH I LOVED, here is my review so I snapped this kindle cheapie up the moment I saw it. .99¢!

A different latitude…a different world…
Meredith Champlin unexpectedly finds herself the legal guardian of a child she’s never met: Janet Barton Stowe, an unruly eleven-year-old “Beverly Hills brat,” whose mother – Meredith’s cousin-- has died in a private plane crash.

At the urging of the child’s Anglo-American aunt, Lady Blythe Barton-Teague, Meredith and her Welsh Corgi decamp from Wyoming to spend the summer at Barton Hall, a shabby-chic castle perched on the remote cliffs of Cornwall, England.

Taming the wild child proves a handful, but Meredith’s summer escape gets even more complicated when former British Army Lieutenant Sebastian Pryce, veteran of a bomb-sniffing K-9 squad in Afghanistan, proposes they establish the Barton Hall Canine Obedience Academy and that she join him on the Cornwall Search and Rescue Team. She wonders whether their instant attraction is an unexpected blessing or the prelude to another heartbreak like the one she left behind in the Rocky Mountains.
Even with an assist from a novice search dog named T-Rex, the odds seem long that three months in the land of Meredith’s Cornish ancestors can transform her troubled ward into a happier child, heal the wounds suffered by her soldier-turned-rescuer, and save the Barton-Teague estate from pending insolvency.
As a friend of Meredith’s confides, “It all sounds like a stretch, but we never rule out miracles.”

What are you Reading?

Last week I posted a review for Laurie Alice Eakes' latest in her Daughters of Bainbridge series, Flight of Fancy, which you can read here.

It was an enjoyable story and I love Eakes' writing style! I am definitely going to look for book three in the series, and I have collected several of Eakes' previous titles based on other books of hers that I have read. You ought to look her up, all of her Goodreads ratings are averaging four stars.

This past week I've been reading a literary fiction novel disguised as a historical novel (In Times of Fading Light: A Novel by Eugen Ruge from last week's mailbox), but it really wasn't as eventful as I'd expected it to be. It was more of an analyzing a family dynamic type thing which you really would have to be in the mood for, and since it was set in Germany against Socialism versus Democracy views I was just hoping for a bit more. Perhaps it was lost in translation, but yet.. I still enjoyed it for what it was, though I really do not think it was appropriate for the Historical Novel Society since so much of it was set in 1989, 1991 and 2001. So this makes book three in a row that I've been hoping for something more.

So after that one I took a mini break from literary anything other than prayers. And then I started reading Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle because so many others are raving about it.. and a few pages in I was like, wow, I hope this tone keeps up with the rest of the book, because I was invested from page one.

This brilliant historical fiction debut takes you into the heart of the Tudor court and the life and loves of the clever, charismatic Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth and last wife. 
Widowed for the second time aged thirty-one, Katherine Parr finds she has fallen deeply for the dashing courtier Thomas Seymour and hopes at last to marry for love. However, obliged to return to court, she attracts the attentions of another: the ailing, egotistical and dangerously powerful monarch Henry VIII, who dispatches his love rival, Seymour, to the continent. No one is in a position to refuse a royal proposal so, haunted by the fates of his previous wives—two executions; two enforced annulments; one death in childbirth—Katherine is obliged to wed Henry Tudor and become his sixth queen.
Committed to religious reform, Katherine must draw upon all her instincts to navigate the treachery of the court, drawing a tight circle of women around her including her stepdaughter Meg, traumatized by events from their past that are shrouded in secrecy, and their loyal servant Dot, who knows and sees more than she understands. But with the Catholic faction on the rise once more, reformers being burned for heresy, and those close to the king vying for position in the new regime, Katherine’s survival seems unlikely. Yet as she treads the razor’s edge of court intrigue, she never quite gives up on love.

A must-read for fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, Queen’s Gambit brings to life the remarkable story of Katherine Parr as she battles with those intent on destroying her, but also with her own heart.
Yeah I know, it's Tudor and stick a fork in me, but this writing is starting off excellent.

And since I've been doing lots of bible reading that's pretty much where I am, as I am also reading the Draw the Circle prayer book mentioned above and doing some Lent devotions and extra church activities for Lent as well as preparing my daughter for first communion. And composing this huge blog post. I just received a huge box of goodies - bookish goodies, of course- so next week could be another HUGE post but I'm going to have to break it up a bit. It will certainly be worth spreading it out. I have already composed a post devoted to one of the authors, which go live later on this week.

Here's a funny that swamped book bloggers like me would appreciate, after they take a swig of their favorite liquor.. got this message in my goodreads box, the same one that says "Please don't contact me for review requests"..
Hi Marie, I'm psychic and I'll give you a free reading: you'll fall in love with my protagonist in my new novel...  (some novel I wouldn't touch) I would be honored if you would review my first novel
haha funny haha. Sorry I get cranky when people totally ignore the one request I make.

Feb 20, 2013

Flight of Fancy by Laurie Alice Eakes

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Is it lust or love, and does God approve anyway?
Flight of Fancy by Laurie Alice Eakes
Revell, October 2012
Christian historical fiction
Paperback 368 pages
Available on Kindle
Review copy provided by the publisher for review in the February 2013 Historical Novel Society magazine
Burton Book Review Rating: 4 stars

Cassandra Bainbridge has twice set aside her scholarly pursuits--once for the London Season and once for her wedding preparations. Love seems a wonderful alternative to study, until disaster strikes. When an accident brings an end to her betrothal, she heads for the country to recover from both her injuries and her broken heart. There she pursues her love for ballooning and envisions a future for herself as a daring aeronaut. But when her former fiance slips back into her life, what course will she choose? Filled with the mystique of London society and the charming beauty of the English countryside, "A Flight of Fancy" explores what it means to find the true source of happiness and love amid the distractions of life. Readers will love the next installment in this rousing Regency series from accomplished author Laurie Alice Eakes.

Read my previous review here of A Necessary Deception, book one of the Daughters of Bainbridge House series.

A wickedly tantalizing first chapter brings disaster to the engagement of Whittaker and Cassandra, who we first met in the entertaining first novel (A Necessary Deception) of Eakes' inspirational Regency era series. Now featured in book two, the couple is forced apart as they succumb to their fear that their forbidden pre-marital desire for one another is the reason that Cassandra is physically scarred for life. Cassandra finds comfort with her ballooning adventures, while Whittaker, a struggling mill owner, is blackmailed to be on both sides of rebellions headed by the dangerous Luddites.

Cassandra and her wild sister Honore visit Whittaker Hall only with the assurances that Whittaker would be absent, but small things begin to occur that make Whittaker fear for Cassandra’s safety and he is unable to stay away. To make matters worse, distant cousins arrive who cause suspense and hints of romance to collide, making for an exciting resolution to Cassandra's doubts of her future.

The Daughters of Bainbridge House series focuses on romance and faith equally, with an enjoyable dose of mystery as each novel focuses on one of the sisters. Honore's story, A Reluctant Courtship, will be released in the autumn of 2013.

Visit Laurie's Goodreads profile and view the many titles she has available here.
Friend Laurie on Facebook!

Feb 17, 2013

Sunday Monday Bookish Memes

Sunday, February 17, 2013
The Sunday

Visit Svea's blog at The Muse in The Fog Book Review to start linking up your Sunday posts! Suddenly Sunday is a weekly event hosted by Svea whose purpose is to share all the exciting events that have occurred on your blog throughout the week.

Mailbox Monday is a meme originally from Marcia's Mailbox and is being hosted by the Amazing Audra @ Unabridged Chick this February.

The What Are You Reading meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.
What are you Reading?

Did you all have a great Valentine's Day? Or are you one of those that considers it a bleak and black day? Once upon a time, long ago, I was in between relationships and my car was broken into while I was at work. Smash and grab, and stole my freaking awesome stereo system. On Valentine's Day. Yes, that was a crappy day for me. A few years later, I guy I had known for six days sent me a dozen gorgeous roses to where I worked. That was the first time anyone had ever done that! I married that one. He's not perfect, but he thinks he is... and this year he even sent me a gorgeous colorful display of a dozen roses on the anniversary of the day we met and then six days later he sent me a dozen more roses on Valentine's's been a great February!

In my reading life I've gotten three books done out of twelve for the 2013 TBR Challenge. I had decided to pick up To The Tower Born by Robin Maxwell last week since there are lots of fun Richard III happenings going on right now. 21 - 31 pages in I was rethinking my choice, as in do I really want to put myself through this? As cute little Dickon wants to go outside with Bessie, I am like, goodness can I really place myself outside of reality and not think about how Dickon is eventually going to be imprisoned and then disappear/be murdered/smothered... and the culprits never found.. but it's on my challenge list. And then another 30 pages in I was very dismayed with the whole thing in general, and I wasthisclosetosettingfiretoit. My sort-of review is here.

So that took up a lot of my reading time to get through, sadness, and I am afraid to read anything else at all ever again cuz what if I don't like anything at all anymore?? I am so used to just being able to enjoy a book, write about what I liked, and move on to the next. But to have two reads that were slightly annoying back to back, that rarely ever happens... I am just scared for the next book that I pick up, and it turns out that I really need to read In Times of Fading Light (see end of the post for info) for Historical Novel Society.. ack.

One of those WTF Books that just magically land in your mailbox, and you immediately wonder what to do with it. Especially because there is a word in the title that I would rather not explain to my kids right now. It's been decided it's going on paperbackswap since it's not a waste-of-paper ARC when I get a chance because 19 people have it on their wishlists and because I don't see me ever wanting to touch this. Apparently it's a bit of Twilight + Fifty Shades + in the Office. Yeah.. I mean, NO.

So here you go, some good old workplace erotica from Simon and Schuster, everyone (smh):

Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren
An ambitious intern. A perfectionist executive. And a whole lot of name calling. Whip-smart, hardworking, and on her way to an MBA, Chloe Mills has only one problem: her boss, Bennett Ryan. He’s exacting, blunt, inconsiderate—and completely irresistible. A Beautiful Bastard.

Bennett has returned to Chicago from France to take a vital role in his family’s massive media business. He never expected that the assistant who’d been helping him from abroad was the gorgeous, innocently provocative—completely infuriating—creature he now has to see every day. Despite the rumors, he’s never been one for a workplace hookup. But Chloe’s so tempting he’s willing to bend the rules—or outright smash them—if it means he can have her. All over the office. As their appetites for one another increase to a breaking point, Bennett and Chloe must decide exactly what they’re willing to lose in order to win each other. Originally only available online as The Office by tby789—and garnering over 2 million reads on fanfiction sites—Beautiful Bastard has been extensively updated for re-release.

There's a bunch of those annoying animated gif type reviews plus smut on Goodreads for this one if you are so inclined to really see for yourself how horrible it is. Don't have any young ones lurking behind you as you click over.

Paperbackswap fun:

The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig
I haven't read any of these Pink Carnation books, but bloggers have waxed endlessly about the series and I have a few on my shelf. Of course, this is book 9 so I need to fill in the gaps in my collection now and that is going to rankle with my OCD to no end. I am pretty sure I only have books 1-4.

In the ninth installment of Lauren Willig's bestselling Pink Carnation series, an atrocious poet teams up with an American widow to prevent Napoleon's invasion of England.

Secret agent Augustus Whittlesby has spent a decade undercover in France, posing as an insufferably bad poet. The French surveillance officers can't bear to read his work closely enough to recognize the information drowned in a sea of verbiage.

New York-born Emma Morris Delagardie is a thorn in Augustus's side. An old school friend of Napoleon's stepdaughter, she came to France with her uncle, the American envoy; eloped with a Frenchman; and has been rattling around the salons of Paris ever since. Widowed for four years, she entertains herself by drinking too much champagne, holding a weekly salon, and loudly critiquing Augustus's poetry.

As Napoleon pursues his plans for the invasion of England, Whittlesby hears of a top-secret device to be demonstrated at a house party at Malmaison. The catch? The only way in is with Emma, who has been asked to write a masque for the weekend's entertainment.

Emma is at a crossroads: Should she return to the States or remain in France? She'll do anything to postpone the decision-even if it means teaming up with that silly poet Whittlesby to write a masque for Bonaparte's house party. But each soon learns that surface appearances are misleading. In this complicated masque within a masque, nothing goes quite as scripted- especially Augustus's feelings for Emma.

(anyone else getting sick of name Emma?)

The Queen of Diamonds by Jean Plaidy
The affair of the Diamond Necklace shook the throne of France and, some say, precipitated the French Revolution and so helped to bring Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette to the guillotine. But why did these fantastic and ultimately sensational events fail so neatly into place? Why should a prince of the Royal House of France become so credulous and without question play the almost incredible part prepared for him? Why was an ambitious and predatory woman allowed to steal that famous piece of jewellery that represented a fortune? Who were the secret instigators of the plot? In this novel Jean Plaidy offers one solution to an historical mystery, the motives behind which have long puzzled students and
amateur detectives of history.

For about four years I've been on a slightly stupid mission to obtain all of the Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt Yadda Yadda Titles... and so when I saw this was available I had to get it.. I do believe I have 98% of her works that are somewhat easily obtained. I am not including the extremely hard to find and collectible ones from her obscure names such as Kathleen Kellow, Elliace Tate, and her real name. I say this mission is slightly stupid because I've read one Holt novel, and six of Jean Plaidy's. And I have at least 82 Jean Plaidy novels on my shelf. Roughly 32 of the Victoria Holt collection. All 20 of the Philippa Carr collection. All shoved on top of each other in a single bookcase.
My Plaidy/Holt/Carrs

See some of Plaidy Obsession here.
So that's like around 130+ books on my shelf written by the same person that I have had forever and have ignored.. Which is why I needed to step up and create a buddy read along on Goodreads, so join us on March 23rd to read the first of the Daughters of England series by Carr.

I also bought this one from Amazon because I couldn't stand not owning it any longer:
The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson
An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice. Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf's bailiff---a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past. Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff's vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf's future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.

(I bought that a day before I won this:)

The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson
A daring rescue. A difficult choice. Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother's jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie's one chance at freedom---but can she trust another person to keep her safe? Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl's inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible---she is his brother's future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else---he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what. When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help---but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them---they must also protect their hearts.

My featured eBook download:

The Sisters Montclair by Cathy Holton
The last thing twenty-one-year-old Stella Nightingale wants is a job as a caregiver for wealthy Alice Montclair Whittington. Alice, a ninety-four-year-old Southern grande dame with a dry sense of humor and a wicked tongue, has already run off a long line of caregivers. But Stella, a former runaway from a broken home who's only recently begun to put her life back together, is desperate for work. And she figures she can handle Alice. But strange things are happening at Alice's rambling mountaintop estate. As an unlikely friendship develops between the two women, Alice, whose memory comes and goes, begins to reveal long-ago tales of her illustrious past, tales that pose more questions than they answer. Who is her mysterious sister, Laura? Why won't Alice and her sister, Adeline, ever speak of her? And why are the other caregivers afraid to go down in the basement?

As Stella tries to separate fact from fiction in Alice's life, she struggles to overcome her own devastating family secret, compelled by a deepening friendship that will change the lives of both women forever.

For review:
The synopsis sold me with its descriptive prose. Plus there are tons of German (?) reviews on Goodreads for this one and I must find out what they are talking about cuz I'm nosy that way.

In Times of Fading Light: A Novel by Eugen Ruge
Enthrallingly expansive in its geographical and temporal sweep, this story of a German family tells of years spent in exile, of the revolution of 1989 and beyond. The masterful narrative makes halt in Mexico, Siberia and East Berlin, climbing the summits and charting the abysses of the 20th century along the way. The result is both a stunning panorama and a monumental German novel that makes history itself tangible through the history of one family. A novel of immense stature, founded on its humanity, its precision and its humour.

In Times of Fading Light focuses on three generations. The grandparents, still convinced Communists, return to the fledging East Germany at the beginning of the 1950s to do their part in establishing the new state. Their son returns from the other direction, having emigrated to Moscow and found himself banished to Siberia. He returns with his Russian wife to a country mired in petit bourgeois values, yet also brings with him an unwavering belief that they can be changed. The grandson, meanwhile, feels increasingly constricted in a heimat that was not of his choosing, and heads to the West on the very day that his grandfather, the family patriarch, turns 90. The glittering lights of a political utopia that once shone enticingly seem to be gradually fading as time wears unwaveringly on.

What did you get in your own boxes this week, and how has your reading been for February?

Feb 15, 2013

To The Tower Born by Robin Maxwell

Friday, February 15, 2013

To The Tower Born by Robin Maxwell
Published September 2005

In 1483, Edward and Richard of York--Edward, by law, already King of England--were placed, for their protection before Edward's coronation, in the Tower of London by their uncle Richard. Within months the boys disappeared without a trace, and for the next five hundred years the despised Richard III was suspected of their heartless murders.

In To the Tower Born, Robin Maxwell ingeniously imagines what might have happened to the missing princes. The great and terrible events that shaped a kingdom are viewed through the eyes of quick-witted Nell Caxton, only daughter of the first English printer, and her dearest friend, "Bessie," sister to the lost boys and ultimate founder of the Tudor dynasty. It is a thrilling story brimming with mystery, color, and historical lore. With great bravery and heart, two friends navigate a dark and treacherous medieval landscape rendered more perilous by the era's scheming, ambitious, even murderous men and women who will stop at nothing to possess the throne.

Robin Maxwell reimagines the world surrounding the lost princes in the tower, whom many believe Richard III was somehow responsible for their death/disappearance. No one knows what happened to the boys. I really enjoyed reading Alison Weir's Princes in the Tower in 2008/9, and I should have just re-read that one to get 'my fix' on the princes, because this read just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Maxwell creates a set of new events to fictionalize the story and from the start of this novel some things were just rubbing the wrong way, such as calling the family of Richard III, "The Gloucesters", or the use of the 'word' misliked. Or the nickname for Queen Elizabeth of York, Bessie. The use of the word cunny, which she used to specify a part of the female anatomy. Bessie was vicious to her mother Elizabeth Woodville. Nell and Antony (sic) Rivers fall in love. They are joyous at Fat King Edward's death which puts their charge little Edward on the throne. Bessie has a horribly uncontrollable crush on her uncle. As I went through more implausible events of the story, I wondered if I should go on, because quite frankly, I hated the whole thing.. pretty much when I got to this part that Nell said to Bessie, "... Though I cannot pop little kings and queens out my cunny." (page 63).. I just banged my head. I even talked to my husband about these things that were bugging me, and we don't ever ever ever talk about books, he's a football and steak kinda guy and that's about it.

But I had invested two days of painstakingly reading every word up to page 90 or so, and it was then I decided to just read it very fast and be done as soon as possible, band aid style. I did want to know what the whole mystery of the princes thing would turn out to be in this telling. And I did want to be able to cross this book off of my 2013 TBR Challenge list.

This was not a 'solicited for review' type of read, it's a personal copy that doesn't have a review requirement attached to it, so I am not going to give all of my knee jerk reactions (out of respect for those that did enjoy it) except to say I couldn't recommend this one personally. Also, there are readers who enjoy her books and there are some who don't, and now Maxwell is one for two with me. I did enjoy Robin Maxwell's O Juliet novel from a few years ago, so I think that perhaps the subject matter here is just something I am tired of having redone over and over and pointing fingers where there is no proof of anything at all, and totally reinventing stuff for fun just didn't work for me this time. The caveat is that if I had read this four or five years ago, I can see myself enjoying it, but I've read so many accounts with Richard III and his family in them that I now prefer a more serious type of historical atmosphere surrounding the events.

What happened to those poor boys? All I can say is, who put the boys in the tower? In the end, there were just simply too many eye roll moments to appreciate this new theory. I am also wishful that authors would leave cunny style words out their works. I can't say it much better than this wonderful person, may she rest in peace.

Feel free to read these positive reviews instead:
Examiner Article
Livin & Loving
Carpe Librum

For those who would like to learn more about the Princes and their lives (these are all non-fiction):
I've read these two books thus far and can recommend: Elizabeth Woodville: Mother of the Princes in the Tower by David Baldwin and The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir but both before my reviewing in 2008 and thus there are no reviews by me- sadness. Another one I read was The Wars of the Roses by Weir which was a lot of names and dates and took at least three weeks to read because it was my introduction to the era; I feel it gives an accurate portrayal of the times and who was where at what time and is on my To Be Re-Read List.

Also on my shelf to read are more non-fiction books:
Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes by Betram Fields
The Lost Prince: The Survival of Richard of York by David Baldwin

And for those who really want to know what happened to the princes according to Maxwell's book..
highlight with your mouse:

So when Maxwell states the book has been lauded by the Richard III Society, you can deduce who she says didn't do it. Those who don't think he did it believe the Tudors did it. Henry VII was not around but his mother Margaret Beaufort was... so Margaret locked them in a dungeon and Nell and her web of spies saves them so that they apparently live happily ever after, but we don't really know about that at all because the ending just kinda ended.

Feb 13, 2013

The Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
A tale of Katherine's heart, and her woes.

The Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien
Mira Publications, March 1, 2013
Advance Review copy eBook from NetGalley
Burton Book Review Rating: 3 stars

1415. The Battle of Agincourt is over, and the young French princess Katherine de Valois is the prize to be offered to Henry V of England. The innocent Katherine is smitten with Henry, but soon understands that her sole purpose is to produce an heir to unite England and France. Henry will take Katherine, not for her beauty, not for a treaty of peace - but for nothing less than the glittering French crown itself. For Katherine, a pawn in a ruthless political game, England is a lion's den of greed, avarice and mistrust. And when the magnificent King leaves her widowed at twenty-one she is a prize ripe for the taking. Her enemies are circling, her heart is on her sleeve, her hand in marriage is worth a kingdom. 
But Katherine is still young and passionate. Many desire her, and her hand in marriage is worth a kingdom. Setting aside those driven by ambition, Katherine falls in love with her servant Owen Tudor, and glimpses the happiness that love can bring. But their enemies are circling, all battling for power and determined to prevent their marriage. Katherine will have to fight to control her own destiny…

In this compelling and beautifully written book, Anne O’Brien tells the story of the innocent young princess, Katherine de Valois, a pawn in a ruthless political game between England and France, and the woman who founded the most famous royal dynasty of all – the Tudors.

This is the story of Katherine of Valois, and as the cover suggests, she played an important role in the founding of England's Tudor dynasty. Before she got to that point in her life, the story puts her in a nunnery and then married to the King of England as a young woman. Being married to Henry V, I was expecting a bit more pluck or spunk from Katherine, but we didn't get that. Her new ladies in waiting ridiculed her for being a timid mouse. We read of her daily wishes to be closer to Henry, as she was merely an object of his ambition towards the French crown. Henry V was business like, and only available to beget heirs, and so we were subjected to Katherine's woeful reflections of Henry. Katherine's character became quite boring as she pined for Henry, while he was near and then when he was dead.

Without  Henry and his guidance, Katherine becomes depressed and despondent and feeling quite useless in her role to look pretty and dignified until Edmund Beaufort comes along and entertains and woos her. Her world then revolves around Edmund. (And when that fell through, oh horrors.. couldn't see that coming...) She falls for a servant, a major no-no for a Queen. Amidst the love affairs, she has meetings with the council members regarding her status; she must be respectful as a Queen Dowager and think of her son's future as the King of England at all times. Once the council realizes that Katherine is indeed her lustful mother's daughter they even go so far as to rule that the Queen may not wed unless the King and his council agree to it (Henry VI the King was still quite young and wouldn't reach his majority for many years).

Anne O'Brien takes on this character of Katherine as a complete focus on her and her life. She leaves out historical nuances and details except for the times that Katherine had to face the irate council members who wanted Katherine to live out a chaste life. I was getting quite bored with Katherine's need for romance until the last ten percent of the book, where Master Owen steps up to the plate and offers some well needed drama. Even though the synopsis introduces Owen Tudor in the second paragraph, it wasn't until at least halfway through that Owen starts to become a major figure.

I would have loved to see more of the children, more name dropping of the important figures of the time, or even an idea of what year we were in. I was reading from an eBook, so perhaps chapter headings with dates/places/settings would be added later. The cover features the red blob that touts "Better than Philippa Gregory" which I found untrue. If O'Brien placed a bit more emphasis on the events of the era and other political figures, or added more historical details perhaps I could have entertained that notion of being in the same league of Gregory. (The dispute of whether Gregory is a historically accurate author left aside, at least Gregory offers us a meaty take on the era she writes).

This story was 98% romance in my opinion, and the constant need Katherine had for any significant other was grating. "The fundamental aching need that had touched me when I had seen him stride from the river had not lessened with the passage of time. It had grown until I had no peace." A Mr Darcy moment, perhaps?

This was my first read on Katherine, and I am not sure I need to read anything else on her. This characterization of Katherine did little to win me over. To stoop so low as to wed a servant? A Welshman at that, who was forbidden to even wear a sword? A Queen Dowager? If only the writing was focused less on the romance angle and a bit more of a sweeping tale from a few angles, even more political ones, I could have appreciated it more. There was no interaction with her family from France, just the stigmas of her eccentric parents that followed Katherine. And no mention of her elder sister Isabella who was also a Queen of England before her. The purpose of Katherine's marriage to Henry V was to offer the French crown to Henry as opposed to her brother Charles. And the famous Joan of Arc was a proud supporter of Charles, and she was not a single blip on Katherine's radar according to this telling.

I felt the first person narration of Katherine limited the scope and since the author also chose to limit the scope to the romance, there was very little complexity in it. Most history lovers of the era already know the marriage partners of Katherine of Valois, and the author simply filled in the blanks for how Katherine related to those men, and I was hoping for more. But I am in the minority here, so perhaps it was just bad timing on my part, as there are quite a few glowing stars in favor of the book on Goodreads.  Recommended for those readers eager for the story of Katherine and her heart's content, and her woes. Based on that, if you like romance stories, and its plights to a queen, you should enjoy this quick reading romance based on a lesser-known historical figure.

Feb 10, 2013

It's Mailbox Monday! What Are You Reading?

Sunday, February 10, 2013
The Sunday

Visit Svea's blog at The Muse in The Fog Book Review to start linking up your Sunday posts! Suddenly Sunday is a weekly event hosted by Svea whose purpose is to share all the exciting events that have occurred on your blog throughout the week.

Mailbox Monday is a meme originally from Marcia's Mailbox and is being hosted by the Amazing Audra @ Unabridged Chick this February.

The What Are You Reading meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.
What are you Reading?

Another week of some great reading for me! I finished reading Shadow on the Crown, the debut novel by Patricia Bracewell, and I managed to actually get the review post up on its release day =) Kudos to me. I read it in about 3 days, so it was decent. I was extremely disappointed that I wasn't aware it was first of a trilogy, so now I'll have to wait forrreevveer to read the rest of her story, boo hiss. It was the first novel I'd read that was set in the period, of the years 1001/1003 AD and I kinda liked it.

Read my review here of Shadow on The Crown.

I also posted two other reviews:
Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier (fantastic stuff, of course!)
Safe in His Arms by Colleen Coble (inspirational historical suspense romance blend that wasn't half bad)

Frenchman's Creek is book two of my TBR Challenge, just 10 more to go!

Congrats to Angela who is the winner of last week's subscriber giveaway, the books are on their way to you! And thank you to all my followers!

I also wanted to announce the buddy read along thing we are doing on Goodreads for a pseudonym of Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt etc etc etc... We will be reading Philippa Carr's first book in her Daughters of England series, The Miracle at St. Bruno's. You can probably find this one at a library, so I wanted to get the word out ahead of time for those who were interested in joining in the comments as we read it, starting March 23rd. It's an open/public group, so come join us! There is a Goodreads gadget thing on the left sidebar of the blog for you to contemplate. :)

I am currently reading The Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien (not to be confused with The Forgotten Queen by D.L. Bogdan which was recently released), and as I was halfway through I was not quite sure about how I liked this one. I LOVE the cover, I HATE that red blobby blurby disrespectful thing that says 'BETTER than Phillipa Gregory!' I mean really, how rude can you be??? Puh-lease.

Anyway, the novel features Katherine of Valois who is sent to England to marry Henry V. It's the first I've read of her, and she is pretty bland throughout. When I got to the 80% point yesterday I was really hating it/her/the romance that she always wants but can never have. BUT it is reading swiftly so that's a plus. It's a bit less dramatic than the Kenneth Branagh movie Henry V that I was forced to watch for my educational benefit and went right over my head. I can't even remember if it was high school or college that I saw that. I am still battling the myriad of sicknesses, and I have had my own maladies, so I wonder if my distaste for this one is attributed to that factor, as everyone else on goodreads is GUSHING about the FANTASTICNESS of this one. ?? Moving on.

In bible reading progress, we are halfway through the bible! We have begun The Prophetic Books, which means I'll be finishing Isaiah soon. We have also discussed future bible plans and we do plan on continuing with some others once we finish reading the bible in whole first. So if you are interested, come join us on Goodreads! We expect around Mother's Day to start reading a 65 Day Plan that focuses on People of the Bible.

I downloaded a couple of cheap kindle eBooks..

Where Leads the Heart by Colleen Coble
The Civil War has taken the one thing Sarah Montgomery values most, her fiancé, Rand Campbell. Only after she agrees to marry another man does she realize Rand is not dead after all. Set against the backdrop of Fort Laramie, this exciting story of love lost and gained will take you to that dangerous time of the Sioux Indian Wars.

Blue Hole Back Home: A Novel by Jay Jordan-Lake
"Sacred's not a word I've ever much liked. But maybe some things, and some places, just are. And maybe the Blue Hole was one of those things."

Shelby (nicknamed Turtle) never had any female friends. But when a mysterious girl from Sri Lanka moved to town in the summer of 1979, Turtle invited her to a secret haven: the Blue Hole. Turtle had no idea how much that simple gesture would affect the rest of her life, or the lives of those she loved.

In a time when America was technically well beyond the Civil Rights era, there were those in Turtle's small Appalachian town who rejected the presence of someone different. And in just one summer-in a collision of love, hate, jealousy, beauty, and a sacred, muddy swimming hole-nothing and everything changed.

And then a special one for review since Audra clued me in about it last week..

Godiva by Nicole Galland

This gorgeous thing isn't coming out till July. For shame. I think I will read it soon anyway.
Everyone knows the legend of Lady Godiva—the woman who (in)famously rode naked on horseback through Coventry to relieve her people from unfair taxation. But why would a lady of the court take it all off and risk everything, including husband, home, and well-being?

In this richly imagined retelling of an oft-told ancient tale, Nicole Galland gives us Lady Godiva in all her, um, glory, as she and her best friend (the Abbess Egdiva) and husband (Leofric, Earl of Mercia) embark on an adventure filled with courtly intrigue, deceit, back-stabbing, and romance.

With all the Richard III news, and his handsome visage and curvaceous bones, I'm a bit in the mood for a R3 read, even though I think I said not too long ago (October, actually, I looked it up) I hinted that I was going to stick a needle in my eye if I read another R3 thing.  But for my TBR Challenge I have on my list To The Tower Born by Robin Maxwell to read, so that's the one it'll eventually be.

So anything interesting catch your eye here? Are you snowed in with a great read? Hope everyone stays warm and safe and that your week goes well!