Sunday, February 27, 2011

Henry IV crowned King of France February 27, 1595

It was on this day February 27th in 1598 that Henry IV was crowned and recognized as King of France.

Henry IV was born on December 13, 1553 in the southwest of France. He was the son of Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Vendome and Jeanne d’Albret, Queen of Navarre. His mother declared Calvinism the religion of Navarre and she brought Henry up as a Huguenot, which were French Protestants of the Protestant Reformed Church of France. Following her death in 1572, Henry became King Henry III of Navarre.

During this time (1562-98) the French Wars of Religion was going on. This was a period of civil infighting and military operations that was primarily being fought between both the French Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots). In order to help but an end to the French Wars of Religion, Henry married Marguerite de Valois, sister of the then King Charles IX. As a result of Henry IV’s plan, he was forced to convert to Roman Catholicism in 1576 and was kept in confinement. However, later that year he regained his freedom and converted back to Protestantism.

At this time, Henry III was King of France and due to Salic law, the king’s sisters and all others who could claim descent by distaff line where disinherited. As a result, the next in line to the throne of France was the Duke of Guise. In December 1588, King Henry III had the Duke along with his brother the Cardinal, murdered. Henry III had to flee Paris and join forces with Henry of Navarre. Since Henry of Navarre was a descendant of King Louis IX, King Henry III had no choice but to recognize him as the legitimate successor.

In 1589, King Henry III died and Henry of Navarre became King of France, however, he faced opposition from the Catholic League who were strengthened by support from the outside. Henry IV was pushed to the south and was forced to claim his rights to his kingdom by military conquest. By failing to take Paris, in 1593 permanently renounced the Protestant faith and converted back to Roman Catholicism, which secured him the crown of France and the allegiance of his subjects. On February 27, 1594 Henry IV was crowned King of France.

As king, he declared the Edict of Nantes, which gave toleration to the Huguenots. He also adopted and undertook projects in order to improve the lives of all his subjects that would make him one of the country’s most popular rulers ever. This is one of the reasons why I have come to love Henry IV, because he loved his kingdom and his people. Unfortunately, King Henry IV was assassinated by a fanatical Catholic, François Ravaillac in 1610.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Lucrezia Borgia and the Mother of Poisons by Roberta Gellis

Lucrezia Borgia and the Mother of Poisons by Roberta Gellis
★★★ 1/2
Published in 2003
Personal copy from used bookstore 

Synopsis from inside book cover: Poisoner!" The bellowed accusation strikes into silence all those in Lucrezia Borgia's audience chamber. Lucrezia has fled Rome to a loveless marriage with Alfonso, heir to the duke of Ferrara, to escape the rumors that she is utterly depraved---incestuous, a lecher, a poisoner. To her delight she is warmly welcomed in Ferrara, by the duke, by his court, by the people, indeed by everyone except her husband. And then, after only six weeks of basking in the warmth of general approval, Alfonso rushes into her apartment and accuses her of poisoning Bianca Tedaldo, one of her ladies in waiting and mistress to Alfonso. Immediately, Lucrezia sees the nightmare of her life in Rome recurring. The whispers behind her back, the signs to ward off evil, people making out their wills when she invites them to share a meal. To deny the charge is useless. Lucrezia knows all too well the futility of claiming innocence even when the claim is clearly and plainly true. The only way for her to retrieve her reputation is to discover who committed the crime and expose the true murderer.

My Review: I stumbled upon this book one day while browsing a local used bookstore and I immediately snatched it up because it was about Lucrezia Borgia. With all the recent Borgia talk and never having read about them I knew I had to get this book. 

This book is set in 1501 and Lucrezia Borgia has just married her third husband, Alfonso Ferrara. Bianca Tedaldo has just been murdered and Lucrezia is being blamed by none other than her husband Alfonso. Rumor has it that Donna Bianca is or was Alfonso’s mistress so the finger is being pointed in Lrecrizia’s direction since everyone believes she had a motive for killing her out of jealousy. Lucrezia is appalled at such outrageous accusations, which could not be further from the truth. In order to clear her good name, Lucrezia makes it her duty to find the true murderer and bring them to justice. 

What she wasn’t ready for was what would be revealed and the consequences for delving deep into Donna Bianca’s life. Once her number one suspect winds up stabbed to death it occurs to Lucrezia that the reasoning for Donna Bianca’s murder goes much deeper than anything she ever suspected before. Who is the true killer and could it be someone close to Lucrezia that she never would have suspected?

My opinion: While overall I enjoyed the book I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed with it. I came so close to putting this book down so many times in the beginning. It started out very slow and dry. The conversation kept going around in circles that I began to fall asleep out of boredom and frustration.  However, I didn’t give up on this book because it eventually picked up steam and got very suspenseful and thrilling. With every turn and twist there became a new suspect and a new lead to follow. I would say if you can get past a couple of the boring parts maybe by doing a little daydreaming like I did, then it’s worth reading because it did have some very exciting and “oh no” or “oh crap” moments which spurred me forward. This isn’t a book I would suggest rushing out right now and getting, however, if you have some down time then it’s worth reading.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Borders Bookstore Declares Chapter 11 Bankruptcy!

It's a sad day for the book world and book enthusiasts across the nation because Borders stores are closing all across the states. Sadly for me my local Borders store is closing its doors to me forever! Where am I going to be able to go and relax while rummaging through brand new unopened books spending money I know I shouldn't be spending? Yeah there's a Barnes & Noble, but it's not the same as Borders. It is always noisy and packed full of people, which is the last thing I want when I'm immersing myself in a new book. Ugh, I feel completely deflated right now.

Borders will begin their liquidation sales on February 19, 2011. There will be discounted prices at the Borders stores that are closing due to the bankruptcy.

The bookstore Borders declared chapter 11 bankruptcy on February 16, 2011, and the company's liquidation sales are scheduled to begin on Saturday, February 19, 2011. Although the Borders online bookshop is continuing to operate, 200 Borders store will be closed as part of the bankruptcy agreement. Borders will still honor gift certificates and give Borders Reward program points during the sale. The ebook side of Borders is not affected by the bankruptcy because that is through the online store, which will remain open.

What is On Sale During the Liquidation?


There will be great shopping deals on almost everything at the Borders stores that are having sales. The online store is not closing, so prices are normal at The stores that are closing will have 20% to 40% discounts on books, music, and movies. Audiobooks and books on cd will also be on sale. The stores will also be selling fixtures and furnishings as Borders liquidates $350 million of store inventory.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: The Queen's Pawn by Christy English

The Queen’s Pawn by Christy English

Release Date: April 2010
Source: Personal Copy
Setting: 1169 England

Synopsis: Nine year old Alais, Princess of France, is sent to England to marry Henry Plantagenet’s son, Prince Richard. Their betrothal was made in order to secure an alliance between France and England once and for all. 

Princess Alais of France is sent to live with the Queen of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was once married to Alais’s father, King Louis the seventh. Alias was brought up thinking Eleanor was wicked and evil for betraying and leaving her father.  Throughout her entire childhood she feared France’s mysterious Queen.  Unfortunately, Alais’s mother died while giving birth to her and her father gained only her, another daughter to be used as an innocent pawn shuffled around and played with for the benefit of others.

Upon meeting Eleanor for the first time, Alias for got her hatred for her. Eleanor was kind and she immediately looked upon Alias as her own daughter. Eleanor teaches Alias how to be a strong woman able to hold her own in the world of men. Once Alias develops her own ambitions, she wins the love of King Henry II and sacrifices her love for both Eleanor and Prince Richard. It doesn’t take long for Eleanor to view Alias as a threat, which changes everything that was once cherished between Princess and Queen.

Review: Eleanor of Aquitaine is easily one of my favorite women of history. She is so fascinating to study and to try and understand, which is why I just had to read Christy English’s book The Queen’s Pawn! Every book that I have read about Eleanor only briefly mentions Princess Alias. So it was nice to finally read and learn her life story.

The Queen’s Pawn showed Eleanor of Aquitaine in a totally different light then any book I have ever read about her, which is where I had a little problem with this book. It showed two different sides of Eleanor; one being loving and caring and the other being selfish, corrupt, and full of dark betrayal. No fault to the author, Christy was just staying true to Eleanor’s character. I just wasn’t ready to see Eleanor’s dark side where she was able to sacrifice her adopted daughter and the happiness of her beloved son in order to benefit herself.

This book was a real eye opener for me and I thank Christy English for that. I still love Eleanor and think she is the most fascinating women in history, but I have to face reality. In order to live in the world of royalty and not be brought down by others ambitions you have to be willing to make sacrifices even if it means betraying some of the most important people in your life.

Opinion: Overall, I LOVED this book! It was a great easy read full of passion, ambition, betrayal and revenge! I would recommend it to all book lovers’ not just historical fiction readers. The Queen’s Pawn was a great debut novel for Christy English and I can’t wait to read her next novel To Be Queen due to be released in early April.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Upcoming Release! The Queen's Rival by Diane Haeger

I am so excited to bring you news of one of Diane Haeger's soon to be released novels The Queen's Rival. I absolutely loved Haeger's book The Perfect Royal Mistress and her latest release, The Queen's Mistake, is waiting patiently on my TBR bookshelf.

The Queen's Rival is due to be released March 1st of 2011. It's her 12th novel and her third book in the Court of Henry VIII Series. I have been anxiously waiting for this book to be released and it's finally almost here!

Synopsis from author's website:
The book is based on the true, not often told story of Bess Blount, mother of Henry VIII’s only acknowledged natural son. Her inspirational story is one of a naïve young woman’s coming of age amid the powerful English court and all its players, as mistress to the king--- and companion to his queen. Through the years, Bess triumphs and survives, finding not only herself through the challenges, heartbreaks and hurdles, as well as the balancing act she must live every day to survive, but she finds the two great enduring romances of her life there, as well….

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Review: The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner

The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner
★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Review copy sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

The era of the Tudors was one of danger, intrigue, conspiracy, and, above all, spies.
Summer 1553: A time of danger and deceit. Brendan Prescott, an orphan, is reared in the household of the powerful Dudley family. Brought to court, Prescott finds himself sent on an illicit mission to the king’s brilliant but enigmatic sister, Princess Elizabeth. But Brendan is soon compelled to work as a double agent by Elizabeth’s protector, William Cecil, who promises in exchange to help him unravel the secret of his own mysterious past. 

A dark plot swirls around Elizabeth’s quest to unravel the truth about the ominous disappearance of her seriously ill brother, King Edward VI. With only a bold stable boy and an audacious lady-in-waiting at his side, Brendan plunges into a ruthless gambit of half-truths, lies, and murder. Filled with the intrigue and pageantry of Tudor England, The Tudor Secret is the first book in The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles.
Review: This was my first time reading a book by C.W. Gortner, even though I have The Confessions of Catherine de Medici on my TBR bookshelf. I’ve heard nothing but good things about his work so I was thrilled when I was asked to read his latest book The Tudor Secret, which is book 1 in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles. I wasn’t disappointed folks!  

Brendan Prescott is a foundling (orphan) discovered by the Dudley’s housekeeper and herbalist, Mistress Alice. She was the closest thing he had to a mother and she brought him up to read and write behind Lady Dudley’s back. One day Brendan was told that Mistress Alice was killed while traveling, which crushed him. All he had left of her was a strange medallion with a leaf and red ruby on it. What Brendan did not know was that medallion was the key to who he really is.

In trying to discover his true identity while also protecting Her Grace Princess Elizabeth, many obstacles stood in Brendan’s way. It was almost like bad luck followed him everywhere he went. He had plenty of near death experiences, but he always had his trusty friend Peregrine to look out for him. Once Brendan discovered who he was he didn’t at first believe it. He now understood that knowing his past was more dangerous than not knowing at all and he now wished he never found out the truth.

Although not completely historically accurate, The Tudor Secret was a great easy read that I loved to curl up with before going to bed. It was jam packed with thrill seeking adventure, secrets, lies, and deceit with a hint of romance. One thing that bothered me about this book, which may not bother most, was how quickly Brendan and Kate fell in love. One minute they are fighting and don’t trust one another and they next thing I know they are in love. I just didn’t think it was believable. It was only a minute distraction that didn’t hinder my judgment of the book nor Gortner’s work in the least. 

What I loved most about the book was how Elizabeth was portrayed. I hate when authors make her out to be some raging woman who can’t control her temper. Yes I do know she had a temper, but I doubt at least I would like to think she had some kindness in her and she wasn’t always angry. She was just a woman who knew what she wanted and wouldn’t let men tell her what to do. Okay I will stop preaching now but I think Gortner did an excellent job balancing the two personalities. 

Final thoughts: The Tudor Secret makes me want to pick up The Confessions of Catherine de Medici right now! I would have liked it to have seen a little more historical facts, but overall fantastic read! I would recommend this to any HF reader, but if you’re looking for something more historically accurate about the Tudors then this isn’t it the right book.

Monday, February 7, 2011

By Fire, By Water Giveaway Winners!

Hey everyone, sorry for the lack of reviews and interesting posts. I have been bogged down with a lot of tests and school work these past few weeks and sadly my reading & blogging time has been greatly reduced. However, I hope to have The Tudor Secret review posted within a day or two. Hopefully my school schedule will relax soon.

Okay now on to more exciting news! I have just drawn the two winners for the By Fire, By Water Giveaway!

And the winners are...

Pricilla and Ashley


I just sent out the email requesting your addresses so they can be forwarded on to the publicist.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Royal Likeness Giveaway Winner!

Hey Everyone, I just wanted to announce the winner of Christine Trent's new book A Royal Likeness!

Congratulations Siobian! You are the lucky winner of A Royal Likeness

If you signed up to win a copy and didn't win don't despair because there will be plenty more opportunities to win. I currently have two other giveaways running right now. 

-2 copies of By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan, which is open to the US only and ends Feb. 5th at midnight central time. 
-The Arrow Chest by Robert Parry is open to both US & Canada residents. It ends Feb. 10th at midnight central time.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Book Source: Personal Copy

Synopsis 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.

Review: I read Gruen’s book Riding Lessons awhile back and I remembered that I really enjoyed it. So when I heard she had another book out about a circus and that it was being made into a movie, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy! I started this book knowing that it got mixed reviews and some couldn’t even finish the book. However, I heard more good things than bad so I decided I wanted to try it out for myself. Let me just say right here right now that I have no idea why some couldn’t finish this book!

If you are a regular reader of my blog then you know my biggest thing with reading a book is the characterization and believability of those characters. Well I was not disappointed this time! Jacob Jankowski has just lost everything. He’s about to graduate from Cornell Veterinarian School when he finds out his parents have been killed in a tragic car accident. He runs out on his final exams and before he knows it he’s on board a circus train and is working as its vet. He finds himself enamored by the lovely Marlena, the star of the shows Liberty Act! Unfortunately, she’s married to the equestrian trainer, August; a certified paranoid schizophrenic who has random bouts of brutal rages that he takes out on the workers and even the animals. Uncle Al is the boss and owner who only thinks about himself and how he can make his circus better than Ringling Brother and he will do anything to make it happen even if it means throwing “roustabouts” off the train called “red lighting” in order to save a couple of bucks.

This book takes place during the Great Depression Era and there really was not a lot of work to be had at the time. So many people became “drifters” and joined up with a circus show. Back then circuses were transported across the country by train instead of by bus and massive trailers. Gruen did an amazing job researching for this book. When I read in the back of the book how she had never been to a circus before writing Water For Elephants, well let me just say I was flabbergasted! It felt like I was actually at the circus and I could smell both the animals and the circus food. 

Opinion: I absolutely loved this book! It’s definitely one of my favorite books and I can’t wait to see it come to life on the big screen! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves to read. It’s full of romance, adventure, and even a little bit of sadness. I’m glad I didn’t let those mixed reviews prevent me from giving this book a chance.