Sunday, January 30, 2011

Water For Elephants Movie & Book

About a month ago, Heather, over at The Maiden's Court  posted the Water For Elephants movie trailer and I became so enchanted with it. I just had to get my hands on a copy of the book. It took three trips to the book store before I laid my paws on a copy! So this week I finally found time to squeeze Water For Elephants into my reading schedule.

I have heard different opinions about this book. Some said it was amazing and the best book ever or that they just didn't get it and had to put it down. I have about 80 or so pages left to read and although it's not my favorite book of all time, it is definitely climbing the charts! I can't wait until the movie comes out in theaters! If you a US resident then it will be out in theaters April 22nd. My review will be up within a couple of days, but here's the book synopsis from publisher weekly and the movie trailer. Enjoy!

From Publishers Weekly

With its spotlight on elephants, Gruen's romantic page-turner hinges on the human-animal bonds that drove her debut and its sequel (Riding Lessons and Flying Changes)—but without the mass appeal that horses hold. The novel, told in flashback by nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski, recounts the wild and wonderful period he spent with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a traveling circus he joined during the Great Depression. When 23-year-old Jankowski learns that his parents have been killed in a car crash, leaving him penniless, he drops out of Cornell veterinary school and parlays his expertise with animals into a job with the circus, where he cares for a menagerie of exotic creatures[...] He also falls in love with Marlena, one of the show's star performers—a romance complicated by Marlena's husband, the unbalanced, sadistic circus boss who beats both his wife and the animals Jankowski cares for. Despite her often clichéd prose and the predictability of the story's ending, Gruen skillfully humanizes the midgets, drunks, rubes and freaks who populate her book. (May 26)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Guest Post: Robert Parry author of The Arrow Chest

 Hey everyone! Please welcome Robert Parry, author of The Arrow Chest, to ATHF! Read my 4 1/2 star review of this book and don't forget to sign up for a chance to win a copy of The Arrow Chest. Click here to read and sign up!

Thank you Taylor for the opportunity to tell your readers about my new novel, ‘The Arrow Chest.’

When we look back to the year 1536 and to the execution of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, we are faced with one of the most bizarre and puzzling questions of English history. Why, after her death was her body (and head) placed in an old arrow chest and buried, unmarked, beneath the floor of the Chapel in of the Tower of London? How strange! That a Queen of England should be treated with such disrespect. Hardly a dignified burial!

An arrow chest in Tudor times was a large wooden box for storing arrows, but also for housing long-bow staves - sufficient in size, therefore, to be able to take a body. It was made of elm wood and might have been decorated or inlayed in some way according to the status of its owner.

Arrows were significant to the Tudors not only as weaponry, but because they were also used for the hunting of deer and wild boar - a pastime reserved for the aristocracy at the time - and the symbolism of the hunt and the ‘chase’ often became associated with courtly romance and sexual desire. Henry, for example, in one of his love-letters to Anne Boleyn mentions being struck by Cupid’s dart! Cupid is not just the chubby little rascal with the bow that we find on Valentine cards – he was regarded as an important classical figure, wound up in the myth of Daphne and Apollo, and we find him mentioned frequently in the poetry of Sir Thomas Wyatt – a handsome, gifted man whom Henry always perceived (rightly or wrongly, we shall never know) as a rival for Anne Boleyn’s affections. 

Being learned and educated in the classics was important in Tudor times. Henry certainly liked to think of himself as a ‘Renaissance man’ in this respect, fluent in Greek and Roman mythology. He liked to identify himself with the archer-god Apollo, master of poetry and music, sports and games - an ideal allegorical figure for the still-young and athletic king of England at the time of his marriage to Anne Boleyn. During Anne’s coronation there was even a special tableau designed by the great artist of the Tudor court, Hans Holbein, located on the procession route and in which Henry was depicted as the god Apollo seated on a throne surrounded by the Muses.

Which brings me to my story. Without giving too much away, it is a kind of Tudor love triangle, only moved forward in time to the 19th century and to the gloriously extravagant neo-Gothic culture of Victorian England. This time shift is perhaps not so odd as it might at first seem. The Victorian age had many parallels to that of the Tudors. There were plenty of powerful men at large – ‘kings’ in their own right. There were beautiful elegant women, and there were the fabulous poets and painters of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. So it was not difficult to find surrogates for Anne, Henry and for Thomas Wyatt in that kind of environment. The Victorians in the 19th century, moreover, had to endure their very own crises in faith, similar to the experience of the 16th century Reformation, with the arrival of Darwin’s theory of evolution and the threat this held for the established Church at the time.
So there you have it! The story opens in 1876, the year in which the skeletal remains of Anne Boleyn first came to light during a renovation project in the Chapel of St Peters ad Vincula at the Tower of London. It is a Tudor story - only moved forward a few centuries to become a gothic tale of mystery and intrigue.

Thank you Robert for taking the time to stop by and talk with us today! If this sounds like a book you would enjoy reading click here to sign up for the chance to win a copy! Giveaway open to US & Canada residents only and end
Feb. 10th.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Review + GIVEAWAY The Arrow Chest by Robert Parry

The Arrow Chest by Robert Parry
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ 1/2

Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Source: Review copy sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Setting: London, England 1876. It was said that Anne’s body was placed in an Arrow Chest, a large box used to store bow staves as well as arrows. The chest was buried under the Tower of London and she along with Lady Jane Grey and Catherine Howard were forgotten.

Synopsis: Three female bodies were discovered under the Chapel in the Tower of London. The mysterious bodies were believed to be the remains of Lady Jane Grey and the two wives of Henry VII: Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. Amos Roselli, a painter, was commissioned to sketch the remains of the three women. He was a little afraid of being left alone eerie chapel so he asked if someone could be sent in to keep him company and within a couple of minutes a yeoman warder came in  who turned out to be very friendly and talkative man. Once Amos was through with the sketch he noticed the warder was gone and nowhere to be found. He inquired about the warder and was disturbed by the fact that the warder had been dead for many years.

Amos is a struggling artist who has eccentric taste and style. He is still in love with his life-long companion and muse, Daphne, who has married a powerful industrialist. Daphne’s husband, Oliver Ramsey, has hired Amos to come to his home and paint a portrait of him. Amos is a little weary because this will be the first time he has seen Daphne in a year. Upon arrival, the two life-long friends act as if they have not been separated for over a year. Amos soon learns that Daphne is trapped in a loveless marriage and is terrified that her husband is going to somehow be rid of her since she has yet to provide him with an heir. 

While visiting Daphne and finishing up her husband’s portrait many bizarre and strange things have been occurring. Amos keeps seeing a mysterious lady that is the spitting image of Daphne. He soon discovers that he is not the only one who has seen this mysterious woman. His loyal maid, Beth, claims she saw this woman leaving a bouquet of flowers for Mr. Roselli. She believed the woman to be Lady Daphne, which was impossible because Daphne was with him when the flowers arrived. This sends Amos into a frenzy because he now believes that he is haunted and there is nothing he can do about it.

Review: The Arrow Chest is full of haunting mysteries. Who is the mysterious woman who keeps appearing and as quickly as she appears she’s suddenly gone. I had many ideas as to who the woman was, but was later proven wrong as I kept reading. One of the things I loved about this book was how it paralleled with Anne Boleyn’s story during the 16th century. In order to understand what I mean by that you will just have to read the book for yourself.

The characterization in this book is incredible.  Amos is the passionate painter who has lost his muse to a tyrant of a man. He realizes his love for her too late and is ensnared by the drama of Daphne and Oliver’s marriage. Amos struggles with his increasing desire for Daphne, but knows it would be wrong to succumb to it.  I could not help but to feel for Daphne. I could not imagine being trapped in a home with a man who wishes to be rid of me by any means necessary and always living in fear with no one to turn to.

Beth was the one who I connected with most in the story. She is Amos’s maid who would do anything for him. She is an orphan who nobody wanted and was never treated right until she came to work for him. They had an unconventional friendship that would have been frowned upon by London society because she was his maid and he was her master, but they did not care.

I absolutely loved this book. There were a few slow points in the book, but as I began to doze off the book would take off with astounding speed. This story is full of mystery, passion, and artistry. There is a little bit of everything in this novel and I would suggest this book to any book lover not just historical fiction readers because I feel it caters to a vast audience. 

If you would like a chance to read this book Robert is graciously giving away 1 copy of The Arrow Chest to a lucky winner! This giveaway is open to the US & Canada only and is open until February 10th!

Here’s how to enter the giveaway:

    To enter, please leave a comment below and include your name and email address.
     For +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, or tweeting.  You can use the SHARE buttons below and please include the link in the comment section below
     You can also get +1 additional entry by being a new follower of my blog. 
Good Luck! 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Arrow Chest by Robert Parry

Hey Everyone, this entire week All Things Historical Fiction will be featuring Robert Parry and his new book The Arrow Chest.

Here's a list of this weeks events:
  • January 23rd The Arrow Chest book synopsis and book trailer
  • January25th my Review of The Arrow Chest and book Giveaway US/Canada
  • January 27th Guest Post by Robert Parry
Author: Robert Parry
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical literary, Victorian Gothic
ISBN-10: 1452801142
ISBN-13: 978-1452801148
Createspace, January 2011
342 pages
Available in Paperback $11.95 and on Kindle

Book Synopsis: London, 1876. The painter Amos Roselli is in love with his life-long friend and model, the beautiful Daphne - and she with him - until one day she is discovered by another man, a powerful and wealthy industrialist. What will happen when Daphne realizes she has sacrificed her happiness to a loveless marriage? What will happen when the artist realizes he has lost his most cherished source of inspiration? And how will they negotiate the ever-increasing frequency of strange and bizarre events that seem to be driving them inexorably towards self-destruction. Here, amid the extravagant Neo-Gothic culture of Victorian England, the iconic poem ‘The Lady of Shalott’ blends with mysterious and ghostly glimpses of Tudor history. Romantic, atmospheric and deeply dark.

Book Trailer

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review & GIVEAWAY: By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan

By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ 1/2 (Loved)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Source: I received this book from the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from publisher: Luis de Santangel, chancellor to the court and lifelong friend of the lusty King Ferdinand, has had enough of the Spanish Inquisition. As Inquisitor General Tomas de Torquemada’s power and influence over Queen Isabel grow, so does the brutality of the Spanish Church and the paranoia it inspires. When a dear friend’s demise brings the violence close to home, Santangel takes retribution into his own hands, though the risk is great. Santangel is from a family of converses, and his Jewish heritage makes him a target. Soon, he finds himself implicated in the murder of the first Chief Inquisitor of Aragon and in possession of a mysterious text that has brought death and discrimination to Jews for centuries.

As he witnesses the horrific persecution of his loved ones, he begins slowly to reconnect with the Jewish faith his family left behind. Feeding his curiosity about his past is his growing love for Judith Migdal, a clever and beautiful Jewish woman navigating the mounting tensions in Granada. While he struggles to decide what his reputation is worth and what he can sacrifice, one man offers him a chance he thought he’d lost … the chance to hope for a better world. Christopher Columbus has plans to discover a route to paradise, and only Luis de Santángel can help him.

Within the dramatic story lies a subtle, insightful examination of the crisis of faith at the heart of the Spanish Inquisition. Irresolvable conflict rages within the conversos in By Fire, By Water, torn between the religion they left behind and the conversion meant to ensure their safety. In this story of love, God, faith, and torture, fifteenth-century Spain comes to dazzling, engrossing life.
Review: The Spanish Inquisition that took place in the late 15th century is a historical subject that I wasn’t too familiar with before I devoured Kaplan’s book. It really described the three main religions during this era( Islam, Christianity, and Judaism) in such great detail, especially Christianity and Judaism. 

By Fire, By Water is not a light read; however, it’s not impossible. One of the many reasons why I enjoyed this book so much was that it actually made me think. The story is mainly focused on Luis de Santángel, King Ferdinand’s chancellor, and his journey with trying to answer questions about his Jewish ancestry that he will later regret because not only does it lead to his own downfall, but it also causes him to lose some very important people in his life. 

Kaplan did an outstanding job telling both sides of the story for both the Christians and the Jews. Before I read this book I knew little to nothing about the Jewish religion and found it to be a major eye opener to how they were treated back then. Everyone is familiar with the Jewish Holocaust and how the Jews were treated like animals instead of human beings. Well unfortunately, it was not so different for them back then either. 
It’s obvious that Kaplan really researched this era and the Spanish Inquisition in order to make it so captivating. This was a great read that really opened my eyes to other religions and what they had to go through. I would recommend this book to any historical fiction reader. It’s a definite must read.

If you would like chance to read this book the publicist is giving away TWO copies of Mitchell James Kaplan’s book open to the US only and is open until February 5th!

Here’s how to enter the giveaway:

    To enter, please leave a comment below and include your name and email address.
     For +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, or tweeting.  You can use the SHARE buttons below and please include the link in the comment section below
     You can also get +1 additional entry by being a new follower of my blog.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Author Interview & Giveaway: Christine Trent author of A Royal Likeness

Hey everyone! Boy do I have a treat for you today! Christine Trent, author of A Royal Likeness and The Queen's Dollmaker is here today to discuss her new book and her life as a Historical Fiction author. She is also graciously giving away a copy of her new book A Royal Likeness, which is open INTERNATIONALLY

Guest Interview with Christine Trent
All Things Historical Fiction

1. I was pleasantly surprised that A Royal Likeness picks up right where The Queen's Dollmaker left off with Marguerite taking over Claudette's Doll shop. What made you decided to continue the story of Marguerite and Claudette?

Well, truth be told, I continued the story because my editor told me to!  I was halfway through an entirely different manuscript when I sold THE QUEEN’S DOLLMAKER, but my editor at Kensington, Audrey LaFehr, said she’d prefer to see a sequel.  I knew instantly that Marguerite’s story needed to be told, and that her dollmaking skills would transfer well to waxworking.

2. One of the things that I love about both your books is that you creatively incorporated doll making (The Queen's Dollmaker) and wax working (A Royal Likeness) into your storyline. What made you decide to write books centered on artistic trades in the late 1700s and early 1800s?

My inspiration was British historical romance author Rosalind Laker, whose romances frequently incorporate a heroine in a business – fan making, mask-making, haute couture, etc.  Reading her books inspired me to write my own with professions but with a twist:  I wanted to write about very unusual professions, with a little more emphasis on the historical aspect, vs. the romance side.

3. When beginning a new book or project, what steps do you take in researching and developing both your characters and your plot? Do you travel abroad to do your research or do you do it all through the internet? Where do you get your ideas for your main characters both fictional and historical?

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been abroad, but I’ve visited many of the places I write about:   Versailles, Edinburgh, and Brighton Pavilion, to name a few.  To develop a book, I first decide on the unusual profession.  From there, I try to build the profession around both major and minor historical events, and I draw in as many real people as I can.  There are usually only half a dozen or so invented characters in my books.  As far as my portrayal of fictional characters goes, I can only say that those people just pop into my head fully formed.

4. Who did you enjoy writing about most, Marie Antoinette or Madame Tussaud and why?

Wow, a difficult choice.  I guess I’d have to say that Madame Tussaud was a greater creative challenge, because so little is known of her touring years in early 19th-century England, so I had to fill in a lot of gaps myself.  And who doesn’t enjoy a creative challenge?

What I really enjoyed about Marie Antoinette, though, was giving her a more sympathetic portrayal than history has done.  The queen was silly and extravagant, but so was everyone else around her.  I don’t think she deserves the “let them eat cake” reputation she’s been stuck with for many years.

5. Do you have a favorite place to do all your brainstorming and writing for your books, such as a coffee shop or your home office. Where do you think you do your best writing?

My husband built me a little 3x5 writing space in our home library.  We call it The Writing Hut, or The Hut for short.  It has space for my current project’s research books, as well as a cat bed for whichever kitty is joining me that day.  I do all of my writing there, except for once each month when I go to the hairdresser.  I can do an amazing amount of writing while sitting in a chair with potions on my head!

6. I really like when books that I have read get turned into films because I can see all the characters and settings come to life. If the opportunity ever came your way, how would you feel about turning your books into film and seeing your creations come to life? If this is something that appeals to you, which one of your books would you most like to see on the big screen and why?

There is no author on the planet who doesn’t want to see her book turned into film!  Those opportunities are, unfortunately, few and far between.  If I had a choice, I’d like to see A ROYAL LIKENESS on the screen.  It would be sort of a cross between Master and Commander and the Vincent Price movie, House of Wax.  J

7. What projects are you currently working on and if you're willing can we have a little sneak peak as to what we can expect from you in the future?

My next book, tentatively titled THE PRINCE’S PAVILION, about a cloth merchant named Annabelle Stirling, should be released in early 2012.  Thanks to her patron, the great architect John Nash, Belle Stirling is a rising star in the homes of London’s fashionable elite.  Even the Prince Regent wants her elegant, high quality fabrics used in the decoration of his new palace, Brighton Pavilion.  But when those closest to her conspire against Parliament, she risks losing her reputation, her business. . .and even her life.  To read the prologue, visit here:

As always, I plan to bring in historical events both great and small, including the Luddite riots, the Cato Street Conspiracy, the rebuilding of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, and other events of Regency England.  I hope readers will be as fascinated as I was by details of early 19th century cloth manufacture.

My fourth novel will encompass another unusual profession, this time a dark and mysterious one set in Victorian England.  And that’s all the detail I’m giving for now!

Thanks Christine for taking the time out of your day and spending it with us here at ATHF!

 If you would like to read my review of A Royal Likeness click here: A Royal Likeness

A Royal Likeness International Giveaway: Ends February 1st
If you would like to win a copy of Christine's new book all you have to do is:
1. Be a follower of my blog
2. Leave your name and email address in the comments section

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: The Princess of Nowhere by Prince Lorenzo Borghese

The Princess of Nowhere by Prince Lorenzo Borghese
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ (Enjoyable read)
Book Source: Given to me by Amy of Passages to The Past
Genre: Historical Fiction

Setting: Early 1800’s. Pauline’s husband, Emmanuel, has just passed away and now her ambitious brother, Napoleon Bonaparte, wants her to marry Prince Camillo Borghese for his own political reasons.

Synopsis: Recently widowed, Pauline is asked by her brother to take in her young cousin, Sophie, in order to provide her with a better life than what her father can give her. At first Sophie is shy and reserved around her vivacious cousin. However, it doesn’t take long for Sophie to see Pauline as a goddess who she begins to idolize.

Prince Camillo Borghese knew since childhood that his bride required the approval of the pope and would be chosen for him not by him. This was true until he laid eyes on the flirtatious Pauline. Within their first meeting they both were in awe of each other, although, Camillo had his reservations in marrying her due to her scandalous reputation. Pauline was still supposed to be in mourning for her first husband, but they couldn’t wait to be with one another. So they were soon married in secret, despite Napoleon’s relentless objection.

Even though they were both passionately in love with one another, their marriage was no fairytale. Pauline was wild and eccentric and did not like being told what and what not to do by anyone, especially by her husband. Camillo was very conventional and adamant in staying true to tradition. It was no shock when Paulina started to rebel by having affairs with other men and spending outrageous sums of money. Camillo only put up with her unseemly behavior for so long out of love. They later went their separate ways and lived separate lives for many years until something brought them back together one last time.

Review: I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Lorenzo Borghese’s book. With him being a distant heir to the Borghese family and this being his first novel I thought this book would be full of bias and that I would be let down. Let me just say that that was not the case. I found this story to be charming, erotic, and amusing.

The characterization was perfection. It was apparent that Lorenzo did his research and really built the characters from the inside out. Paulina was so eccentric and wild that I just couldn’t help but envying her at times. Don’t get me wrong I don’t envy her being able to go out and have affairs with other men but what I do envy is her confidence and poise. Prince Camillo is the dark and handsome prince that every girl dreams about. Yes he was a little prude in the beginning but he did come out of his shell bit by bit. Now Sophie was a bit odd. At first she sort of gave me the creeps by always sneaking around and practically worshiping Pauline, however, I began to understand her better as the story progressed.

As witnessed through the eyes of Pauline’s young cousin and surrogate daughter, this book is full of scandal, passion, and humor. I loved the historical aspect of this book and getting to know Pauline and Camillo Borghese. I would recommend this book to any historical fiction enthusiast.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Review: Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer

Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer
☆ ☆ (Just okay)
This is the first book to be read for my Georgette Heyer 2011 Reading Challenge.

Book source: My own copy
Genre: Regency Romance

Book Synopsis: Abigail Wendover, on the shelf at 28…is determined to prevent Fanny, her pretty and high-spirited niece, from becoming attached to Stacy Calverleigh, a good-looking town-beau and an acknowledged fortune-hunter of shocking reputation.

Miles Calverleigh, the Black Sheep of his family…is enormously rich from a long sojourn in India, has a scandalous past, and is not at all inclined toward good manners. Could he be Abby’s most important ally in keeping her niece from a most unfortunate match? But Miles turns out to be the most provoking creature Abigail has ever met with a disconcerting ability to throw her into giggles at quite the wrong moment…

Review: This is the first book by Georgette Heyer I’ve read. I was so excited to read this book because I have only heard good things about her work. Unfortunately, I was lost from the very beginning. I had to go back and re-read the first 5 pages or so just to understand what was going on. I think what confused me in the beginning was how the story is told. This book is told in the third person point of view and it kept skipping from one character to the other, which caused me to get lost a number of times throughout the book. Also, regency romance is not the genre I tend to read and so the old fashioned wording really through me for a loop. For example on page 106

“You don’t favor your father much: for one thing, he wasn’t a dapper-dog. Hadn’t the figure for it. I collect that yellow calf-clingers are now all the crack?”

Due to the narrative and the old fashioned wording, I found myself drifting off and then coming to and realizing I have no idea what I’ve just read. This was really frustrating. However, once the story started to pick up and I got more used to the wording I began to enjoy the book more.

One other thing that I didn’t much care for was the characterization. I never could really connect to the characters of the story. They weren’t very developed and I never really got a since of who they were with the exception of Abby Wendover and Miles Calverleigh. I got to know who Abby was right from the beginning whereas Miles’s character was being developed throughout the entire book. He was sort of a mystery character and bits and pieces of him were revealed to the reader throughout the story.

Overall, the book was just eh for me. I never got the urge to rush back to it to see what would happen next. There were some highlights throughout, such as Abby’s and Miles first meeting but overall I was disappointed. I hope Heyer’s historical fiction novels will do more for me than her regency romance novels. I would only recommend this book to someone who loves regency romance and understands their jargon otherwise you may be bored at times if you are like me and like the fast-past plots that keep you wanting more. 

Here's the link if you would like to sign-up for this challenge: Georgette Heyer

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Borgia's on Showtimes

So I don't know how many of you have Showtimes or if you have even heard of the Borgia family, but Showtimes has a new show called The Borgias airing some time this year. I absolutely can't wait and I'm so glad that my mom just purchased Showtimes for us to watch! I decided to post this because I thought this may be of interest to some of you. Enjoy!

Here's the plot of the show:

Oscar®-winning actor Jeremy Irons will star in the epic drama series as Rodrigo Borgia, the cunning, manipulative patriarch of The Borgia family who ascends to the highest circles of power within Renaissance-era Italy. Additionally, Academy Award® winning director Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) will create and executive produce the series as well as direct the first two episodes.
THE BORGIAS will be a complex, unvarnished portrait of one of history's most intriguing and infamous dynastic families. The series begins as the family's patriarch Rodrigo (Jeremy Irons), becomes Pope, propelling him, his two Machiavellian sons Cesare and Juan, and his scandalously beautiful daughter, Lucrezia, to become the most powerful and influential family of the Italian Renaissance.

Here's a sneak peak that I found on You Tube:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Review: Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Book Source: My own copy

Setting: It’s 1351 BCE Thebes, Egypt. The crown prince Tuthmosis dies from injuries what was to be thought from a chariot accident, but some are skeptical that the crown prince’s death wasn’t an accident at all. Now the second eldest son, Amunohotep is crowned Prince of Egypt and is soon to become Pharaoh of Lower Egypt while his father rules Upper Egypt.

Synopsis: Nefertiti, the eldest daughter of Vizier Ay, is stunningly beautiful with a strong personality to go along with it. She is destined to marry the unpredictable Pharaoh Amunohotep in order to sway him back to Amun, the most important God in Egypt, and distract him from his interests in the sun disk Aten.

At 15 years old, Nefertiti marries Amunohotep who instantly becomes transfixed by her captivating spell. Now Nefertiti is Amunohotep’s Chief Wife and Queen of Lower Egypt, however, this isn’t enough for Nefertiti. She becomes so obsessed with Kiya, Amunohotep’s second wife, that she forgets the reasons why she was placed on the throne to begin with. Instead of convincing Amunohotep that Amun is all powerful, Nefertiti goes along with Amunohotep’s outrageous ideas of destroying and robbing all the temples of Amun out of fear of losing Amunohotep to Kiya.

By desecrating the temples of Amun, Amunohotep loses the love and respect of the people and now everything rests on Nefertiti’s shoulders in order to prevent the people from rebelling. The only person courageous enough to stand up to Nefertiti and tell her the truth is her younger sister Mutnojmet who has always remained loyal to her and the crown. However, Nefertiti refuses to see the error of both Amunohotep’s and her own ways. So the one loyal person to Nefertiti refuses to stand by and watch her sister singly corrupt Egypt. It doesn’t take long for Egypt to crumble under Amunohotep and Nefertiti’s reign and now they are both afraid of a rebellion that will result in either losing their crown or even worse their death.

Review: I absolutely loved this book! This was my first encounter with Michelle Moran and I am so pleased that I picked this book up off the rack at Barnes & Noble. From start to finish I was lost in the world of the Egyptians. Michelle did an amazing job describing every minute detail that I felt like I was their witnessing it.

This story was told in the point of view of Nefertiti’s younger sister Mutnodjmet, which was perfection! The characters were so well developed that you couldn’t help but to fall in love with Mutnodjmet and her body servant Ipu and absolutely despise the weak and shallow Amunohotep, who later changes his name to Akenhaten for Aten. Nefertiti is in a category of her own. Throughout the entire book I kept going back and forth from loving and feeling sorry for her to thinking she’s selfish and deserved what she got.

I recommend this book to everyone both historical lovers and not. I guarantee you will be griping your seat throughout the entire ride. I can’t wait to read the next book The Heretic Queen.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Review: Pilot Mountain by Robert Wall

Pilot Mountain by Robert Wall
☆ ☆ 1/2
Setting: It’s 1862 and America is in the midst of Civil War. During this year on April 16, a law was passed stating that it was mandatory for able-bodied men 18 to 35 to serve in the military.

Synopsis: 18 year-old Louis is the eldest son of the Wall family in North Carolina. Along with some cousins, Louis decides to join up fighting for the South. He and his cousins are shipped off into the Army of Northern Virginia. Upon arrival, Louis is introduced to Sergeant Flarity who takes Louis under his wing and teaches him the craft of making medicinal alcohol and stills.

Later on, Louis’s abilities become noticed and appreciated by his Captain, which gives him the idea to send Louis on a treacherous trip to Arkansas in order to give medicinal aid to another Southern regiment. Throughout the entire trip, Louis was put in several life-threatening situations where he used his cunningness to escape with his life. Once Louis makes his way back home he is forced to make a decision that could change his life forever.

Review: Pilot Mountain isn’t directly focused on the Civil War like I initially thought. Instead it is about a young man’s life journey serving in the Army and his near death experiences in some of the most famous and horrific battles during the Civil War. This story was based on the author’s Great-grandfather and his regiment during the Civil War.

Some highlights of this story that I liked was Louis’s journey to Arkansas and how he managed to stay alive despite all the obstacles he had to face. I also liked learning about how to make medicinal alcohol, which saved many lives during this war. 

There were some things that were really distracting throughout the entire book. For one I didn’t see how the book cover pertained to the story until the very end. I kept wondering who the woman was on the cover and what her role is in the story. Also, there were so many grammatical and punctuation errors in the book. I would have over-looked them if it was a review copy, but it wasn’t. I found those mistakes to be very distracting. 

 Overall the story was really an easy read that was a bit dry in certain areas. It was really hard to get myself motivated to finish the book. Robert Wall did a great job researching for this book, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I don’t think of this book as being completely hopeless, but I wouldn’t go out and recommend it to just anyone. I would have to say that I would recommend it only to someone looking for a light read looking for bits and pieces of the Civil War thrown in the mix of the story.