Friday, December 24, 2010

Favorite Books Read in 2010

Hey everyone! HAppy ChriStmaS Eve! Can you believe it's almost the end of the year 2010 and we are vastly approaching 2011!

Today I wanted to list my top 5 favorite reads that I read this year, whether they be books published this year or several years back. So here it goes and I'm sorry if this makes your Christmas wishlist even bigger!

My favorite book read this entire year was...

The Courts of Love by Jean Plaidy

I absolutely loved this book! It's about the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine in Jean Plaidy's Queens of England series. Unfortunately, I hadn't started reviewing books when I read this book so I don't have a review posted on this one. Here's the review from publishers weekly.
From Publishers Weekly

This fifth volume in the Queens of England Series is devoted to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Evoking the beautiful, tempestuous and sensual woman who divorced the King of France and married the King of England, Plaidy employs the ingratiating domestic details that are characteristic of her historical storytelling. Despite a hobbling first-person narrative that tends to repetition, the novel is dramatic in the sweep of its background and in the vividly realized events of Eleanor's long life. Raised with the Provencal languor of the courtly love tradition in her native Aquitaine, her beauty the toast of jongleurs, Eleanor relieves the tedium of her marriage to the pious French King Louis by daringly joining the Crusaders. She further shocks by pursuing her attraction to unattractive Henry Plantagenet, lured as much by the English crown as by the mutual sensuality that produces her favorite son, the enigmatic Richard the Lionhearted. Later, ambitious, headstrong Eleanor locks wills with Henry, leading to her imprisonment for many years. Even then, Eleanor remains central to the tumultuous epoch that witnessed the murder of Thomas a Becket and other royal infamies. Plaidy's prose style is serviceable at best, lacking in grace and nuance. Readers who enjoy easily accessible historical fiction, however, will find Eleanor's story adequately told.

Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Next in the running was...
The Queen's Bastard by Robin Maxwell
This was an amazing read. Here's publishers weekely review:
From Publishers Weekly

Maxwell's second novel (after The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn) breathes extraordinary life into the scandals, political intrigue and gut-wrenching battles that typified Queen Elizabeth's reignAas seen through the eyes of Arthur Dudley, the man who may have been the illegitimate progeny of the Virgin Queen and her beloved Master of the Horse, Robin Dudley. Arthur's first-person narration is cleverly juxtaposed with third-person dramatization of significant events in the queen's life, bringing an intricate authenticity to the possibility that Elizabeth gave birth to a bastard son. Maxwell's research examines the biographical gaps in, and documented facts about, the queen's life, making this incredible tale plausible, and the author aptly embellishes her story with rich period details and the epic dramas of the late 16th century. Switched at birth with a baby's corpse by a lady-in-waiting who foresaw the disastrous political consequences of a royal bastard, the infant is raised in the English countryside, where he is abused by his adoptive mother. Only his adoptive father, Robert Southern, knows his true background, and it is only when Southern lies dying that he reveals the secret to Arthur. The circumstances leading to Arthur's reunion with his father and finally his mother range from the young man's military training in Wales and encampment in the Netherlands to his post as a spy in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, all played out against the backdrop of England's defeat of the Spanish Armada. The novel falters only with an abundance of references to Anne Boleyn's diary (coy allusions to the author's first novel), but this minor affectation defuses none of the powerfully lascivious intersections of sexual and international politics that, combined with Maxwell's electrifying prose, here make for enthralling historical fiction.

My third favorite book of 2010 was...

A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent

This was such an enchanting read entaingled with the wax workings of Madame Tussuad. Here's my review: Synopsis: A Royal Likeness is the sequel to The Queen’s Synopsis: A Royal Likeness is the sequel to The Queen’s Dollmaker. Years have passed and Marguerite is now the sole heir of Claudette’s Fashion Doll business. She couldn’t be happier living the life of a tradeswoman with her devoted husband, Nicholas Ashby, constantly at her side. It would seem nothing could bring Marguerite’s spirits down until a raging band of rioters end up on her doorstep harassing and accusing her of conspiring with the enemy as a result of being a French émigré. Suddenly, the riot breaks loose and descends upon her shop breaking everything in their path. While defending his wife’s work, Nicholas is brutally murdered right before Marguerites eyes and her life ceases to matter.

Marguerite decides to escape everything that reminds her of Nicholas and goes to stay with her Aunt Claudette and Uncle William in the country. She soon finds herself immersed in the depths of depression, until one day her aunt gets the idea to send Marguerite to work as an apprentice for Madame Marie Tussaud, who has a wax exhibition residing in London.

Just when Marguerite becomes settled in her new life working for Madame Tussaud, England’s Prime Minister William Pitt, sees Tussaud’s wax work as a useful war strategy and decides to commission a wax figure of Admiral Horratio Nelson. Madame Tussuad decides Marguerite has developed enough skills to go to London herself. Upon arrival, Marguerite captures the attention of two completely opposite men who desperately try to compete for her affection. It doesn’t take long for disaster to strike again and Marguerite finds herself entangled in a dangerous adventure that no woman should ever be subjected to.
Fourth in the running is...

O'Juliet by Robin Maxwell

I loved Maxwell's spin on Shakespeare's classic Romeo and Juliet! It had me guessing the entire time. Here's a tid bit of my review:

When Juliet meets Romeo Monticecco, at her friend Lucrezia’s masquerade ball, she immediately falls in love with him. They find they have something in common; their love of Dante’s poetry. They quote his work to express their feelings towards one another, which brings them even closer. For once in Juliet’s life, she has found someone who actually understands and shares her passion for writing and reading poetry, however, this posses two problems. The Capalletti’s and the Monticecco’s are families at war with one another and Juliet is soon to be betrothed to Jacopo Strozzi.
Click here to read more:

Last in the lineup is...

Katherine of Aragon by Jean Plaidy
Here's Publisher's Weekly review:
Katharine of Aragon, first of Henry VIII's six wives, is brought to life in the three books which make up this volume. Katherine comes to England from Spain to marry Henry's older borther, Arthur; after his death she marries Henry. The three novels cover the time she spent in England, up through Henry's divorce from her. Katherine is a figure who is often passed on for more exciting fare such as Henry's second wife, Anne Boleyn, and I'm pleased that Jean Plaidy chooses to spend time upon her. As always, each writer of historical fiction has a different conception of the people and places he or she writes about, but Plaidy plays much attention to detail- whether or not what she recounts in fact took place.

This book follows the story of Katharine, but it doesn't focus soley uopn her; we also see bits and pieces of the politics which occur at court. Thomas Wolsley plays a small role here as the upstart butcher's son who dreams of someday becoming Pope.


  1. Great list! I have a few of these on my TBR for 2011. Happy reading in the new year!

    Joanne@Slice of Life

  2. It is always nice to see which books had an impact for the year! I hope you have an excellent 2011 full of amazing reads :)

  3. I absolutely loved The Queen's Bastard--it's my favorite of Robin Maxwell's Elizabeth novels. O'Juliet is wonderful as well. I haven't met a Plaidy novel I didn't like (I've read about 40 of hers). Great list!