Monday, January 14, 2013

The Favored Queen by Carolly Erickson

112380665-1-198x300 Born into an ambitious noble family, young Jane Seymour is sent to court as a maid of honor to Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s aging queen. She is devoted to her mistress and watches with empathy as the calculating Anne Boleyn contrives to supplant Catherine as Queen. Anne’s single-minded intrigues threaten all who stand in her way; she does not hesitate to arrange the murder of a woman who knows a secret so dark that, if revealed it would make it impossible for the king to marry Anne.

Once Anne becomes queen, no one at court is safe, and Jane herself becomes a victim of Anne’s venomous rage when she suspects Jane has become the object of the king’s lust. But Henry, fearing that Anne’s inability to give him a son is a sign of divine wrath, asks Jane to become his next queen. Deeply reluctant to embark on such a dangerous course, Jane must choose between her heart and her loyalty to the queen. (from the cover flap)

Book Details Title: The Favored Queen, Author: Carolly Erickson, Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, ISBN: 978-0-312-59690-3, Format I read: Hardcover, $25.99, Source: My personal collection, Rating: 4 Crowns

My Thoughts:

Given the title, The Favored Queen: A Novel of Henry VIII’s Third Wife, I was expecting this to be about Jane Seymour’s life. Although rather than being an account of her life, it is Jane’s account of the happenings around her starting towards the end of Katherine of Aragon’s reign and ending with Jane’s death.

Jane is present for every argument, every birth, and every important diplomatic visit all the while falling in love twice (neither time with Henry). She gives in-depth accounts of the end of Katherine’s reign and Anne’s yet there is little about her time as queen. To my surprise, most of Jane story was wrapped up in the two men that she loved, which on occasion felt forced, and the hate she held for her father. What also surprised me was the fact that Henry took Jane into his confidence and fully trusted her.

While the novel is engaging and pulled me in, I had to ignore my knowledge of Tudor history as the author tells readers that this is a ‘reimaging of the past’ and while some details are historical accurate, most have been pulled from the author’s imagination.

Overall, I found that I could not put this book down. I was thoroughly engaged in the story that unfolded, which surprised me considering that I am a Tudor history buff. While most of the events that occur in The Favored Queen are purely fictional, some have their roots in Tudor myths giving the book an interesting turn. What bothered me the most was the fact that Jane’s brother, Thomas, was absent throughout while Edward was front and center almost as much as Jane was. Also, I was a bit irked that she portrayed Henry as having gold hair when it has been proven that he had red/auburn hair.

Read ForThe flowing descriptive story that takes you inside the intrigue Tudor court.

Overlook—The historical inaccuracy. In a note to the reader, the author does caution that reader that The Favored Queen is a historical entertainment, in which the authentic past and imaginative invention intertwine. Fictional events and circumstances, fictional characters and whimsical alterations of events and personalities are blended. Fresh interpretations of historical figures and their circumstances are offered, and traditional ones laid aside.’

If you are eager to feed your Tudor-addiction with a healthy dose of Tudor fiction, you should give this book a go.

If topsy-turvy reimagings of history drives you up the wall, perhaps you should check this out from your local library before purchasing it.

*review also posted on Royal Reviewsangela new

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Island House by Posie-Graeme-Evans

imagesCA59V2V3 In 2011 Freya Dane, a Ph.D. candidate in archaeology, arrives on the ancient Scottish island of Findnar. After years of estrangement from her father, himself an archaeologist who recently died, Freya has come to find out what she can about his work. As she reads through his research notes, she sees he learned a great deal about the Viking and Christian history of the island. But what he found only scratches the surface of the discoveries Freya is about to make.

In 800 A.D. a Pictish girl named Signy loses her entire family during a Viking raid. She is taken in by the surviving members of the Christian community on Findnar, but when she falls deeply in love with a Viking boy, she is cast out. She eventually becomes a nun and finds herself at the center of the clash between the island’s three religious cultures. The tragedy of her story is that, in the end, she must choose among her adopted faith, her native religion, and the man she loves.

Centuries apart, Freya and Signy are each on the verge of life-changing events that will bring present-day and Viking-era Scotland together. The Island House plunges the reader into a past that never dies and a love that reaches out across a thousand years. (taken from Goodreads)

Book Details:

Title: The Island House, Author: Posie Graeme-Evans, ISBN: 978-0-7432-9443-0, Publisher: Atria, Format I read: Trade Paperback, $16.00, Source: Publisher, Rating: 4 Crowns

The bones of the brothers lay in the dark. Dust thick as cloth covered them, for the air was ancient and dead.

It has been a different world then, in the days of the Wanderer. A time when people turned from the old Gods, and slaughter stalked those of the newer ways. Gods are never replaced without blood.

The younger had died for love, seeking justice. The older was cut down as he’d expected to be, surrounded by his fighters. They were both betrayed.

-Taken from page 1of The Island House

My Thoughts:

Crossing between present day and 800 AD, the story is essentially a book about relationships. The relationship between the present and the past. The relationship between Signy, a Pictish girl, and Bear, a Viking boy. Dan and Freya. Freya and her deceased father. Freya and her father’s girlfriend.

While each relationship was interesting, I felt that I couldn’t quite connect with Signy and Bear. While their story was heart wrenching and well plotted, the connection just wasn’t there. Surprisingly I felt more of a connection to Freya, Dan, and the story of the present.

I would describe this book as a cross between Susanna Kearsley and Bernard Cornwell. And like Cornwell’s novel Stonehenge, the story of the past, while entertaining, fails to connect.

Overall, I was hooked from the opening. The flowing prose pulled and kept me glued to the book until the very last page.

Read for: The amazing way Posie Graeme-Evans weaves the story of the past into the story of the present.

Overlook: The lack of regional dialect and the fact that Fraya and Dan go from chalk and cheese to sugar and spice in under sixty seconds.

angela new

*review also posted on Royal Reviews

Friday, January 11, 2013

An Amish Love By Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Long


_225_350_Book_317_cover Two of today's most popular genres--Romance and Amish fiction--together in one volume.

"Healing Hearts" by Beth Wiseman: Levina Lapp and her husband Naaman are alone for the first time in 30 years. When Naaman left to visit cousins in Ohio, Levina wasn't expecting him to be gone a year. Now that he's back, will they be able to move beyond this estrangement and fall in love again?

"What the Heart Sees" by Kathleen Fuller: A tragic accident rocks a peaceful Amish community, leaving Ellie Chupp blinded and Christopher Bender's future shattered. But they find love and forgiveness in a place they least expect.

"A Marriage of the Heart" by Kelly Long: Rachel Yoder is tired of her Amish lifestyle and her domineering father's ways. When handsome Joseph Lambert comes back from the Englisch, she lies to force a marriage of convenience, providing the perfect means to escape her father's rule. But Rachel never imagined she'd fall in love with Joseph so quickly or irrevocably.

My Thoughts:

This book would make the perfect gift. Containing three Amish novellas penned by three different authors, An Amish Love was an enjoyable read.

Each author has a unique voice that makes each novella truly stand out. While I did not have a particular favorite, the book was amazing. I look forward to enjoying more from these lovely authors.

angela new

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mailbox Monday


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.

January Host is : Lori's Reading Corner

For Review:

Georgette Heyer by Jennifer Kloester—The groundbreaking biography of one of the world’s best-loved and bestselling

After The Rain by Karen White


The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer

Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer

The Foundling by Georgette Heyer

Received as Gifts

The Favored Queen by Carolly Erickson

Rival to the Queen by Carolly Erickson

Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen by Anna Whitelock—nonfiction

Duchess: A Novel of Sarah Churchill by Susan Holloway Scott

Head In The Clouds by Karen Witemeyer


I received a lovely book filled gift basket, which contained the following:

Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer

Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer

The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough

Edmund Bertram’s Diary by Amanda Grange

Colonel Brandon’s Diary by Amanda Grange

A leather bound book journal

A “Keep Calm and Carry On” Ceramic mug

A Tin of Rose Petal Gypsy Tea

The 1969 Version of Jane Eyre starring George C. Scott and Susannah York

I also received numerous gift cards to B&N and Amazon.

What little lovelies arrived at your house?

Best Wishes & Happy Reading,

angela new

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 Read-A-Latte Challenge


Are you a book addict? Well, are you? Are you that person who is always seen with your nose buried between the pages and never without a book or two nearby? Perhaps, your looking for the ultimate reading challenge?

Well then, the 2013 Read-A-Latte Challenge is just for you!

This is the place where I challenge you to read... -a- latte!

Here are some of the challenge details:

TIME FRAME: This challenge will begin on January 1st, 2013 and end December 31, 2013.

HOST: Kimberly’s Bookshelf

Books for this challenge can be from any genre and may include print books as well as e-books and audio books.

This challenge can cross-over to your other reading challenges.

Choose a Level:

Latte 75 books

Cappuccino 100 books

Double-Espresso 150+ books

MY GOAL: Cappuccino—although I am hoping that I will make it up to Double-Espresso

Best Wishes & Happy Reading,

angela new