Monday, March 26, 2012

Mailbox Monday & Weekly Update!



Mailbox Monday

is a gathering place for readers to share the books that

came into their house last week and explore great book blogs.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

March Host is: Anna@ Diary of an Eccentric

For Review:

fsf 9781451641813

The “Nice Girls” Series by Molly Harper


All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith

lord of the black isle

Lord of the Black Isle by Elaine Coffman


What little lovelies did you find in your mailbox?


Weekly Update:

Reading Update:

I was a bit of a slow reading week for me. I hope that I will be able to read more this week, because I am obviously not going to be doing much else!

True Highland Spirit by Amanda Forester- Review to come Tuesday. I also re-read the first two books in this series, The Highlander’s Sword and The Highlander’s Heart.

The Perfect Storm by Lori Foster-Review to come in April.

In my TBR pile:

The Flower Reader by Elizabeth Loupas

The Invasion of Falgannon Isle by Deborah Maccillivray- I bought this book last year and have never really had a chance to read it so I thought that I would finally give it ago!

What was on my telly:

Breakfast at Tiffany’s-I love this movie, although I am seriously considering a bathtub couch.

holly_golightlys_bathtub_sofa-525x400 What do you think?

MI-5 Volume 9-I am seriously addicted to this series, plus I love looking at Lucas North…

lucas northLook at him! Who wouldn’t love that face?

I was not expecting most of the events that happened in Volume 9, which really surprised me (and had me throwing things at my telly whilst shouting at the characters to watch out). Now I am getting ready to start on Volume 10.

Robin Hood Series 3-My absolute favorite version of Robin Hood. The BBC did a brilliant job with this one!  


Gisborne reevaluating his life while in jail.  

My favorite episode thus far has to be “A Dangerous Deal”, which is episode 9 from season three. Throughout the series, we have briefly seen Guy of Gisborne’s humanity peaking out from his rough and tough exterior, but in this episode, you finally see his breakthrough.


My favorite scene!

A Review of Everything Else:

Last week was not a good week for the following reasons.

First-My newly installed alarm from ADT decided that it was going to go off by itself from 7-9:30 at night. I called the company, although they were suppose to call me because the alarm had gone off for more than 15 seconds, they gave me several excuses as to why the alarm went off with actually providing the real reason. Then eventually they stopped trying to come up with an excuse shut the entire alarm off. They said that they were sending a tech out Tuesday…it is now Monday and I am still waiting for the tech to arrive.

Second-Because they shut the entire alarm off, they also shut down my phone and internet because the tech who installed the alarm cut into my phone/internet wires that hooked into the modem. Needless to say, I had to call the phone company to redo the mess the tech from ADT made.

Third-Apparently I wasn’t dealing with enough problems with the alarm and the phone/internet so, I decided that Friday would be a brilliant night to come down with the flu.

To sum up last week:

I went through so many boxes of Kleenex and bottles of Germ-X that I should have stock in the company. I was alarmed, then unalarmed, then unable to make a phone call to the police if I should indeed be in need of their services, which I found very alarming.


In the end, I was left with a key pad/alarm system that does not work.


A hole in my wall from where the tech did not properly install the box and five hundred and some odd dollars wasted because ADT will not refund money.


Until We Meet Again

Best Wishes & Happy Reading,

Angela Renee

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

In a Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener


in a treacherous court

Title: In A Treacherous Court

Author: Michelle Diener

ISBN: 978-1-4391-9708-0

Publisher: Gallery Books

Format: Trade Paperback


Pages: 298

How I Read It: Finished Copy from Publisher


rating 5

An unconventional woman. A deadly enemy.

A clash of intrigue, deception, and desire…

1525: Artist Susanna Horenbout is sent from Belgium to be Henry VIII’s personal illuminator inside the royal palace. But her new homeland greets her with an attempt on her life, and the King’s most lethal courtier, John Parker, is charged with keeping her safe. As further attacks are made, Susanna and Parker realize that she unknowingly carries the key to a bloody plot against the throne. For while Richard de la Pole amasses troops in France for a Yorkist invasion, a traitor prepares to trample the kingdom from within.

Who is this mastermind? What are men vying to kill the woman Parker protects with his life? With a motley gang of urchins, Susanna’s wits, and Parker’s fierce instincts, honed on the streets and in palace chambers, the two slash through deadly layers of deceit in a race against time. For in the court of Henry VIII, secrets are the last to die…

(from the back of the book)

My Thoughts:

“I am the Keeper of Paradise, Purgatory, and Hell.” John Parker spoke through gritted teeth.

With an opening like that how can you not want to read this book?

I will admit it…I made a mistake and read the second book, “Keeper of the King’s Secrets” first, which means I knew how this novel played out before I even opened the first page. Yet, I still wanted to read this novel because I wanted to know how Parker and Susanna met and the events that led up to the second novel.

The Plot

First off, let me start by saying that this was one of my favorite Tudor novels. I enjoyed it so much that I am not sure others will be able to top it. It kind of surprised me how much I liked this novel as I hold Tudor-themed fiction to fairly high standards because I have studied this era for what seems like ages.

Having known the ending when I started this book, I knew that the plot would have to have a certain

je ne sais quoi to hold my attention. Thankfully, it did and I was hooked from the very first page. There was so much going on in this novel that I was not expecting, especially when the author threw in the Duke of Suffolk could be involved in some sort of plot against the King. Some events were actual events pulled from history while others were created for entertainment purposes. Plus, there was an air of mystery about this book which added to the intrigue. Even though I already knew the ending I wasn’t exactly sure how the author was going to get there so I could not put this book down.

The Characters

In A Treacherous Court had several characters, some major some minor and just like the actual Tudor court most were there to see that their own status was elevated. I loved seeing the way they intertwined with each other and as this was a historical mystery of sorts the characters played their parts well, each one was like string that led to the next character. What surprised me was that none of the characters felt forced. Each one perfectly balanced the book

As for the main characters, Parker and Susanna, I was eager to see how they would be portrayed in this novel and I was glad to see that Parker was not a status climber; he truly wanted to show his loyalty to the King. Having majored in Tudor history, I had created my own version of John Parker and Susanna Horenbout (who were actually married in real life), yet the information that is out there on them is very limited. I found Michelle Diener’s interpretation of Parker and Susanna to be brilliantly done and was eager to watch them develop as the story progressed.

With this being a book set in the court of Henry VIII, it is hard not analyze the way that the author portrays Henry VIII. As this book is set while Henry was still married to Catherine of Aragon we see a younger more pleasant Henry, one who believes in courtly love and doing right by his courtiers. Yet at the same time we see the traits that Henry became known. I would have loved to have seen more of Henry in this book as it has to have been one of my favorite portrayals of him

The Historical Aspect

Way before I read the author’s notes I could tell that Michelle Diener drew heavily off of Alison Weir’s nonfiction Tudor books, which made me happy because the historical elements in the book were spot on. Although, with any work of historical fiction the author does take a few creative liberties and In A Treacherous Court is no exception. However, the invented history that takes place in this novel was so well done and so believable no one would even question it. In fact, several of the fictitious events I could see those courtiers carrying them out.


I loved this novel. It had the perfect blend of history, mystery, and romance. Tudor fans will be both enthralled and delighted!

Noteworthy Items:

Violence: This book starts off with a man being murdered and that was only the beginning of the body count…so it is filled violence. But, it wasn’t exceedingly gory where you would retch reading it. I felt that for the type of novel it was the violence/gore/death was well handled.

Romance: There are a few brief romantic encounters, but I personally did not find them to be explicit.

Language: A few curse words pop up here and there, but they are few and very far between.


Until We Meet Again

Best Wishes & Happy Reading,

Angela Renee


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Heartstrings and Diamond Rings by Jane Graves


Title: Black Ties and Lullabies
Author: Jane Graves
ISBN: 9780446568487
Publisher: Forever Romance
Release Date10/1/2011
Format: Mass-Market Paperback
$7.99/$8.99 CAN.
Pages: 400
How I Read It: Mass-Market paperback

Rating: Raitng 1


In a world full of frogs, Alison Carter is determined to find her prince. Maybe her dating past is more Titanic than Love Boat, but she's seen enough happy marriages to know that true love is possible. No matter what, she won't give up on happily-ever-after. If she can't find Mr. Right, she'll simply hire someone who can.


When Brandon Scott inherits a successful matchmaking business, he thinks his prayers have been answered. Set up a few lonely ladies, collect the fee, how hard can it be? No one needs to know he's not really a professional matchmaker-especially not his first client, the beautiful, spirited Alison. Soon he's falling for her-and her dreams of kids and carpools. But Alison is getting close to figuring out his secret, and if she learns he's deceived her too, she'll walk right out the door, taking Brandon's heart with her.


My Thoughts:

Ok, so I am going to be honest. Life is too short to read books that you cannot stand and the next time I encounter a book such as this…I am going to chuck it out or pass it off to a friend.

I could not get into the flow of this book. There was something off about it which made the book feel like one of those cheesy made-for-tv movies. I was a bit saddened by the fact that this novel was so poorly done because I absolutely loved her novel, Black Ties & Lullabies.

I did up finishing this book and I hoped that I would change my tune about it when it was finished, but that was not the case. I ended up wasting my time as well as $8.

This book did not go to waste…I ended up using the pages to create these brilliant pieces of art!





So, now I have two lovely pieces hanging on my walls!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros



Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening paragraph(s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

in a treacherous court


In A Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener


February 1525

I am the Keeper of Paradise, Purgatory, and Hell.” John Parker spoke through gritted teeth.

The shipping clerk who’d questioned his right to be on the quay backed away, stammering, and Parker got a grip on his annoyance. He wasn’t used to being challenged these days. He’d forgotten it brought out his temper.

His anger would have been hotter had the clerk let him through unquestioned, though. The King’s goods needed ample protection.

The clerk sidled off and disappeared into the thick mist.


Would you continue reading?

I am once again feeding my Tudor addiction and I cannot wait to see what Parker gets up to in this novel!

Until We Meet Again,

Best Wishes & Happy Reading,

Angela Renee

Time Travel Tuesday Meme!



If you could time travel where and when would you go?

What location?

London, England

What era?


What literary character or author would you meet there?

John Parker from Michelle Diener’s Tudor novel, In A Treacherous Court!


Until We Meet Again,

Best Wishes & Happy Reading,

Angela Renee

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mailbox Monday & Weekly Update!



Mailbox Monday

is a gathering place for readers to share the books that

came into their house last week and explore great book blogs.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

March Host is

Anna@ Diary of an Eccentric

This is what I found in my mailbox!

For Review:


The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O’Melveny


The Flower Reader by Elizabeth Loupas


For Fun:


Royal Affairs by Leslie Carroll

A lovely gift from my Mother!

Weekly Round-Up

Here is what I have read this week:


Agony of the Leaves by Laura Childs-My favorite Tea Shop Mystery so far!


Keeper of the King’s Secrets by Michelle Diener-I received an ARC of this book and simply devoured it! A great way to feed my Tudor addiction! Review coming in April!


The Tudor Age by Jasper Ridley-A lovely nonfiction book that perfectly captures the culture of the Tudor era. Review to come.


The Wolf Who Loved Me by Lydia Dare (out April 2012)-I could not resist reading this one and simply cannot wait until April arrives so that I can review it.

What I am Currently Reading:

In A Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener

The King’s Witch by Cecelia Holland

On My Wish list:

The Tempest by Charlotte Hawkins

Until We Meet Again,

Best Wishes & Happy Reading,

Angela Renee

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thursday Tea-Tudor Edition

The Books: I am reading two books today.
The first is The Tudor Age by Jasper Ridley. By chance I was able to snag the British version which means this copy contains extra chapters although it also means that it’s a paperback version, but the way I see it the extra chapters make up for its format.
Rather than this being your standard Tudor bio this reads more like a research book of the Tudor era, customs, pastimes, and such which is the reason I wanted this book. Thankfully the book is light and well composed so while you do get an in-depth look into that era you don’t feel as though you are being lectured by a boring tweed-wearing professor. My only problem with the book is the first section of pictures is in B&W while the second section is colour which makes me wonder if there was a fluke with the first section.
The second book is In a Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener. I read, Keeper of the King’s Secrets (which is the second book in Michelle Diener’s Tudor Series) a few weeks ago without realizing that it was a second book, so I have been eager to get my hands on a copy of this book since I finished the other one.
I am really enjoying this book, even though I know pretty much how it will end. Plus, I am learning so much more about Parker and Susanna (the main characters) that I really didn’t get to find out in the second book. The writing in the book flows off the page so it is a rather quick read. And I am so interested in these characters that I may even break my no e-book rule and buy Dangerous Sanctuary, which is a short story that takes place in-between In a Treacherous Court and Keeper of the King’s Secrets.
The Tea: Henry’s Earl Grey by Steep Show Teas. I received a package of this tea for my birthday a few weeks ago and have been in love with it ever since. Not only is it an Earl Grey tea but it is a tea that was blended in honour of Henry VIII and the package has his picture on it.
The taste is almost like your standard Earl Grey although it has a stronger bergamot taste and it’s a loose leaf which also contributes to the stronger body this tea has.
Do they go together? Of course! Henry VIII reads as well as Henry VIII tea!! Can your tea/reading experience get any better than that? I think not. Plus it’s the perfection combination for me since I have been having Henry VIII withdrawal as of late.
Best Wishes & Happy Reading,

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Agony of the Leaves by Laura Childs



Title: Agony of the Leaves

Author: Laura Childs

ISBN: 978-0-425-24553-8

Publisher: Berkley Crime Hardcover

Release Date: March 6, 2012

Format: Hardcover


Pages: 320

How I read it: Trade Paperback Arc from Author


rating 5

In the latest novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Scones and Bones, Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning finds herself in hot water when a body surfaces at the grand opening of Charleston's Neptune Aquarium...

The opening of the aquarium is a major Charleston event, and Theodosia has been hired to cater tea, scones, and sandwiches for the private party to honor dignitaries and big buck donors. Things are going swimmingly, until Theodosia escapes the party for a momentary rest, only to discover the body of a man entangled in a net, drowned in one of the aquarium's state-of-the-art tanks.

To make matters worse, the victim is Theodosia's former boyfriend Parker Scully. The EMTs on the scene think Parker's drowning was an accident, but when Theodosia notices what look like defense wounds on his hands, she realizes that someone wanted Parker dead. The local police aren't keen on hearing her theory-especially because of her ties to the victim-so Theodosia knows that if she wants Parker's killer brought to justice, she'll have to jump into the deep end and start her own investigation...

(from the back of the arc)

First Thought After Reading the Blurb:

What?! I cannot believe she killed off Parker!! Who kill him?

My Thoughts about the book:

I knew that eventually one of Theodosia’s inner circle would fall victim…I just wasn’t expecting it to be Parker. Once I got over the initial shock, I realized that this book, which is #13 in Laura Child’s Teashop Mysteries, was going to quickly become my favorite book thus far. Of course I loved her last Teashop Mystery, Scones & Bones because of the whole pirate aspect and I thought that it was going to my favorite in the series however, after reading Agony of the Leaves I changed my mind.

Why was this one my favorite? Normally the victims are a bit further removed from Theo, normally they are a friend of a friend or a business owner, but this time it was her ex which makes Theo very close to the case that she will be investigating. Another reason that it was my favorite is because I had no idea who done it. Normally, I can figure out who the killer is and why they did it but this came out of the blue so I was definitely intrigued and could not put the book down until I had read the very last page.


Until We Meet Again,

Best Wishes & Happy Reading,

Angela Renee

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wild Decembers by Edna O’Brien



Title: Wild Decembers

Author: Edna O’Brien

ISBN: 978-0-618-12691-0

Publisher: Mariner Books

How I read it: Trade Paperback from off my own shelf


Rating: 4 Cups


Edna O'Brien's masterly new novel, WILD DECEMBERS, charts the quick and critical demise of relations between Joseph Brennan and Mick Bugler - "the warring sons of warring sons" - in the countryside of Western Ireland. With her inimitable gift for describing the occasions of heartbreak, O'Brien brings Joseph's live for his land to the level of his sister Breege's love for both him and his rival, Bugler. Breege sees "the wrong of years and the recent wrongs" fuel each other as Bugler comes to claim recently inherited acreage on what her brother calls "my mountain." A classic drama ensues, involving the full range of bonds and betrayals and leavened by the human comedy of which Edna O'Brien rarely loses sight. A dinner dance in the village of Cloontha and the seduction of Mick Bugler by an eager pair of uninhibited sisters rival Joyce in their hectic exuberance. But as the narrative unfolds, the reader is drawn into the sense of foreboding in a place where "fields mean more than fields, more than life and more than death too."

(from amazon)

My Thoughts:

I purchased Wild Decembers because the Irish Times compared it to Wuthering Heights and while there are hints of Bronte’s novel peppered here and there, it did not really feel much like W.H. Once I stopped comparing the two novels I began to enjoy the work of Edna O’Brien.

The book was very descriptive and gave me a great sense of being in the Irish countryside. It also gave a brilliant sense of the three main characters, Breege, Bugler, and Joseph. The plot was a bit off kilter and draggy in some place especially when the sisters, Reena and Rita, come into the story as they feel out of place and make the novel drag.

Overall, I would compare this to more of a Shakespearean tragedy than a Bronte novel. While it was indeed draggy in parts I read the novel in less than two hours. Also I could not pinpoint a time for which the novel was taking place and I believe that the author did that to give the novel a sense of timelessness.

Would I read this novel again? Maybe…although the events that take place in the novel really make this a onetime read.

Would I recommend this novel? Of course, after disassociating this from W.H. I was able to enjoy the novel.

Who would I recommend this too? This is the perfect book for readers who enjoy family sagas as well as the Irish countryside.