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Showing posts from February, 2015

Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser: A Book Review

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Marie Antoinette: The Journey
Author: Antonia Fraser
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, History
Publisher: Anchor
Release Date: 2006
Pages: 512
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: France's iconic queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous "Let them eat cake," was alternately revered and reviled during her lifetime. For centuries since, she has been the object of debate, speculation, and the fascination so often accorded illustrious figures in history. Married in mere girlhood, this essentially lighthearted child was thrust onto the royal stage and commanded by circumstance to play a significant role in European history. Antonia Fraser's lavish and engaging portrait excites compassion and regard for all aspects of the queen, immersing the reader not only in the coming-of-age of a graceful woman, but in the culture of an unparalleled time and place.

My review: Marie Antoinette is one of history's most hated women. Her reputation has been negative both i…

Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile by Julia Fox: A Book Review

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Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile
Author: Julia Fox
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, History
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: 2012
Pages: 370
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: The history books have cast Katherine of Aragon, the first queen of King Henry VIII of England, as the ultimate symbol of the Betrayed Woman, cruelly tossed aside in favor of her husband’s seductive mistress, Anne Boleyn. Katherine’s sister, Juana of Castile, wife of Philip of Burgundy and mother of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, is portrayed as “Juana the Mad,” whose erratic behavior included keeping her beloved late husband’s coffin beside her for years. But historian Julia Fox, whose previous work painted an unprecedented portrait of Jane Boleyn, Anne’s sister, offers deeper insight in this first dual biography of Katherine and Juana, the daughters of Spain’s Ferdinand and Isabella, whose family ties remained strong despite their separation. Lookin…

Blog Tour: Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran by Marion Grace Woolley: A Book Review

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Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran
Author: Marion Grace Woolley
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Ghostwoods Books
Release Date: February 14, 2015
Pages: 288
Source: This book was given to me by TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis: A young woman confronts her own dark desires, and finds her match in a masked conjurer turned assassin. Inspired by Gaston LeRoux's The Phantom of the Opera, Marion Grace Woolley takes us on forbidden adventures through a time that has been written out of history books.

     "Those days are buried beneath the mists of time. I was the first, you see. The very first daughter. There would be many like me to come. Svelte little figures, each with saffron skin and wide, dark eyes. Every one possessing a voice like honey, able to twist the santur strings of our father's heart."

     It begins with a rumour, an exciting whisper. Anything to break the tedium of the harem for the Shah's eldest daughter. People speak of a man with a f…

The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran: A Book Review

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The Heretic Queen 
Author: Michelle Moran
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Release Date: 2008
Pages: 383
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family’s past and remake history.

     The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family—all with the exception of Nefertari, the niece of the reviled former queen, Nefertiti. The girl’s deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. A relic of a previous reign, Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But this changes when she is taken under the wing of the Pharaoh’s aunt, then brought to the Temple of Hathor, where she is educated in a manner befitting a future queen.

     Soon Nefertari catches the eye of the Crown Prince, and despite her family’s history, they fall in love and wish to marry. Yet all of Egypt op…

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran: A Book Review

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Nefertiti
Author: Michelle Moran
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Release Date: 2007
Pages: 463
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: Nefertiti and her younger sister, Mutnodjmet, have been raised in a powerful family that has provided wives to the rulers of Egypt for centuries. Ambitious, charismatic, and beautiful, Nefertiti is destined to marry Amunhotep, an unstable young pharaoh. It is hoped by all that her strong personality will temper the young Amunhotep’s heretical desire to forsake Egypt’s ancient gods, overthrow the priests of Amun, and introduce a new sun god for all to worship. 

     From the moment of her arrival in Thebes, Nefertiti is beloved by the people. Her charisma is matched only by her husband’s perceived generosity: Amunhotep showers his subjects with lofty promises. The love of the commoners will not be enough, however, if the royal couple is not able to conceive an heir, and as Nefertiti turns her attention to producing a son, she fails to …

Guest Post by Jeffrey Statyon: Sherman's March (and the Women Who Won't Let Him Forget It)

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Today's guest author is Jeffrey Stayton. He is a professor of Southern and African American literature. He published his first book, This Side of the River two days ago, which I have just recently reviewed. It is about a group of angry Confederate widows that band together, take up arms, and march north to destroy General Sherman's house. In this guest post, he talks about Sherman's march and the women who were affected by it.I hope this guest post will give you some insight into his work. Thank you, Mr. Stayton.



Sherman’s March (and the Women Who Won’t Let Him Forget It)

     Years ago I gave a scholarly paper in Rome, Georgia, about the plantation mistresses who kept diaries and journals during Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s March to the Sea. It wasn’t a bad paper, though I knew I wouldn’t turn it into an article. It was well-received, especially since it dealt with some of the source material that Margaret Mitchell used for her Civil War epic, Gone With the Wind. I …

This Side of The River: A Novel by Jeffrey Stayton: A Book Review

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This Side of The River: A Novel
Author: Jeffrey Stayton
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Nautilus
Release Date: February 15, 2015
Pages: 256
Source: This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: At the end of the Civil War, a group of young, angry Confederate widows band together, take up arms, and march north to Ohio intent to burn down the home of General William Tecumseh Sherman.

      My review: A group of Confederate widows are filled with hatred  against General Sherman for what his army had done to them. In order to satisfy their lust for revenge, they get together, grab their guns, and march north to Ohio to burn down General Sherman’s home. Their chosen ringleader is Captain Cat Harvey, a Texas Ranger with a dark side. When the widows start to see Cat Harvey’s sinister side, they soon begin to wonder what price they have to pay for their common cause.

     The story is told from many points of view from both genders male and female. But the…

City of Liars and Thieves: A Novel by Eve Karlin: A Book Review

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City of Liars and Thieves: A Novel
Author: Eve Karlin
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Alibi
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Pages: 266
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: A crime that rocked a city. A case that stunned a nation. Based on the United States’ first recorded murder trial, Eve Karlin’s spellbinding debut novel re-creates early nineteenth-century New York City, where a love affair ends in a brutal murder and a conspiracy involving Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr erupts in shattering violence.

“It is high time to tell the truth. Time for justice. . . . How she was murdered and why she haunts me. It is not only Elma’s story, it’s mine.”

 On the bustling docks of the Hudson River, Catherine Ring waits with her husband and children for the ship carrying her cousin, Elma Sands. Their Greenwich Street boardinghouse becomes a haven for Elma, who has at last escaped the stifling confines of her small hometown and the shameful circumstances …

Miramont's Ghost by Elizabeth Hall: A Book Review

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Miramont’s Ghost
Author: Elizabeth Hall
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: February 1, 2015
Pages: 336
Source: This book was given to me by TLC book tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Miramont Castle, built in 1897 and mysteriously abandoned three years later, is home to many secrets. Only one person knows the truth: Adrienne Beauvier, granddaughter of the Comte de Challembelles and cousin to the man who built the castle.

     Clairvoyant from the time she could talk, Adrienne’s visions show her the secrets of those around her. When her visions begin to reveal dark mysteries of her own aristocratic French family, Adrienne is confronted by her formidable Aunt Marie, who is determined to keep the young woman silent at any cost. Marie wrenches Adrienne from her home in France and takes her to America, to Miramont Castle, where she keeps the girl isolated and imprisoned. Surrounded by eerie premonitions, Adrienne is locked in a life-or-death st…

The Towers of Tuscany by Carol M. Cram: A Book Review

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The Towers of Tuscany
Author: Carol M. Cram
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: New Arcadia Publishing
Release Date: 2014
Pages: 388
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Set amid the twisting streets and sunlit piazzas of medieval Italy, The Towers of Tuscany tells the story of a woman who dares to follow her own path in the all-male domain of the painter’s workshop.

     Trained in secret by her father to create the beautifully-crafted panels and altarpieces acclaimed today as masterpieces of late medieval art, Sofia’s desire for freedom from her father’s workshop leads her to betray her passion and sink into a life of loveless drudgery with a husband who comes to despise her when she does not produce a son.

     In an attack motivated by vendetta, Sofia’s father is crushed by his own fresco, compelling Sofia to act or risk the death of her soul. The choice she makes takes her on a journey from misery to the heights of passion—both as a painter and as a wom…