...making decisions on the basis of what seems best instead of following some single doctrine or style.
Me in a nutshell!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

I say to Kindle that is the answer...

to the question To Kindle or not to Kindle. I love it!!!! I have had it for a month now and take it every where with me. It's easy to read and no glare. What is so fun is the highlighting feature that saves into your clippings folder. Also having the classics available for free is outstanding. You always have your wish list with you so when you finsih one book you can look at your wish list and start another one. I have read and recommend Kindle Editions:

The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff 4 stars Very exciting and fast paced. Great ending!!

The Girl with the Dragon Tatto by Stieg Larrson 4.5 stars~beware very graphic, but I couldn't put it down!!

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveria 3.5 stars A good story but sometimes a bit boring.

Moon Rock by Arthur Rees 4.5 stars Loved it!!! Had no idea about this author or the book. Found it in British classic mystery section of Kindle store for .99. Grabs you from the beginning. Very atmospheric. Takes place in Cornwal, England in Edwardian time period.

and currently reading~Pentacost Alley by Anne Perry.

Anyway I wanted to check back and let y'all know how I liked it. I ended up getting one for my husband for Christmas.

I say take the plunge and go Kindle!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Review of Sarah's Key by Tatian de Rosnay

Recently I went on a field trip with my daughter. While visiting with one of the other mother's she mentioned this book and how good it was. I am a real fan of anything WWII especially concerning the surviving citizens. I quickly came home and purchased the book and was not disappointed. A wonderful read, grabbing you right from the beginning.

The story begins in Paris during the German occupation and deportation of Jews, many of which had recently immigrated from Slavic countries fleeing the same persecution. The Vichy government of France at the time were only too pleased to hand over their Jews, something I hadn't realized before. The local citizens couldn't move into the vacant residences after the Jews were gathered for deportation fast enough. The French anti-Semitic attitude was quite surprising to me, I always thought of the French as mainly being involved with the resistance. The story takes you from Paris to the French country side, eventually ending up in the United States covering at least 50 years and 2 generations. Sarah's Key is a heart wrenching story of a child and what it cost her and her descendants at the hands of the Nazi's. I read this book in a day and half. This is a great selection of the month for your book clubs.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

To Kindle or Not to Kindle...

that is the question...

I was very against this little devise at first. I love books, I love the feel of them and of course the gorgeous covers. In my mind using a Kindle you would lose all of the ambiance. I mean I can't really picture sitting curled up by the fire with a cup of tea and instead of a book you have a Kindle in your hand. However; with all this being today I broke down and purchased the little beast and I'm anxious to get it and start messing around with it. To be truthful the motivating factor was the lack of room I have to store any more books. I'm beginning to feel like a used book store.

I would love to hear any of your thoughts positive or negative about The Kindle. I look forward to it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Great Message for Americans...

This is a message well worth viewing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Announcing the WINNER!!!!

Congratulations Kelly you were the random # picked by to win The Countess and The King by Susan Holloway Scott!!
I have sent you an email.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Book Giveaway The Countess and the King by Susan Holloway Scott...

Great giveaway of this wonderful book!!!! To enter in the giveaway make a comment including your email address. This is for U.S. and Canada only. Sorry about that.
Giveaway runs from today 9/13 - 9/27.

Good Luck!!!!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Review of The Countess and the King by Susan Holloway Scott...

This is a mesmerizing story of 17th century England during the regin of Charles II. Such a tumultuous time to have lived. Scandalous affairs, libertines, and religious unrest. This is the world that Katherine Sedley was born into and raised. Her mother was crazy and her father was a well known libertine and favorite of King Charles II.

Katherine went to live with her father at the age of 10 and was brought up with indulgence and no discipline in the company of less than desirable characters such as the Duke of Buckingham and Rochester. Her father was her world and she was his. Katherine was never considered a beautiful child even said to be homely. She made up for her lack of beauty with her scathing wit. She was clever and percoious.

It is said that the habits established in youth are the hardest to break as the years pass, and certainly that was the case with me. My father's indulgence gave me much freedom and little guidance, and like the fledgling bird that tries to fly too soon to flutter unformed wings, my first attempts to act beyond my tender years were often not sweet. I told unseemly jests, I swore when I lost at cards, I laughed too loudly, and my ever sharpening wit was much more suited to one of Father's libertine friends than a brash, ungainly girl of thirteen. The Countess and the King pg. 43.

When Katherine was 15 she was not the least bit interested in marriage much to the dismay of her father the girl just wanted to have fun. Her world was just fine as it was until her father found his true love, Mrs. Ayscough. Katherine's life of late nights and late mornings were about to come to an end along with her inheritance. Mrs. Ayscough would become Lady Sedley and produce the longed for male heir which diminished Katherine's fortune by half. Her father will no longer be the fun loving libertine but a faithful, dutiful and responsible husband.

Katherine will be invited to court to attend to the newly married Duchess of York who the King feels will relate well to Katherine because of their similar ages. Katherine will go to court and attend the Duchess of York where she will for-go a respectable marriage to become the mistress of the handsome Duke of York who will later become the King James II. The story continues with intrigue, betrayal and scandal. Katherine does find love and stays true to her Protestant convictions in spite of her lover being a Catholic who will have to morally rationalize to himself his affair with her.

There is so much more to this amazing story. I am usually stuck in 14th and 15th century England so this was a refreshing change. I really think it would make for a good period piece. I think we are all a little intrigued by Charles II's court.

Last summer I had the opportunity to visit Windsor Castle and my favorite part was visiting the apartments of King Charles. Also visiting London and seeing where the great fire started, etc. was fascinating to say the least.

I loved this book and I am a new fan of Ms. Scott's. She captures the essence of the feelings she is portraying. One part that was particularly poignant to me was when Katherine realized her father was in love with another woman and she was asked to accept her. I have been there and done that with my own father and I am ashamed to say that I acted in much the same way as Ms. Scott portrayed Katherine's reaction.

Thank-you Ms. Scott for giving me this opportunity to read and review your marvelous new novel I look forward to reading your previous works.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Book Review re-schedule...

Just a little note to let everyone know that my review of The Countess and the King by Susan Holloway Scott will be rescheduled for Tuesday Sept. 7.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Guest Post with Susan Holloway Scott author of the newly released The Countess and the King...

It is a great privilege to present this awesome guest post from Susan Holloway Scott the author of the newly released The Countess and the King about Katherine Sedley who becomes the mistress of King James II the brother of King Charles II. It's an extraordinary story and Ms. Scott does an awesome job in presenting it. I am sure you will enjoy her post on Two Brothers, Two Kings...

Two Brothers, Two Kings
By Susan Holloway Scott

As a visitor here at All Things Royal, it seems only fitting to discuss the two king in The Countess and the King. Charles II (1630-1685) and James II (1633-1701) were the last two Stuart kings to sit on the English throne. They were also brothers. Charles was the elder, ruling from 1649 until his death. With no legitimate son and heir, James inherited the throne, though his reign was considerably shorter. But more about that later….

It’s unusual for royal brothers to both become kings, but then the lives of these Stuart brothers didn’t follow the customary plan for royal princes. The eldest sons of Charles I and Henrietta Marie, Charles and James were part of a large family of healthy, handsome children, including another brother and three sisters – a rarity for any family, high-born or low, in 17th century England. (They’re preserved with heartbreaking beauty in the lovely group portrait by court painter Anthony Van Dyck.) Even more rare, the king and queen weren’t distant parents, but dearly loved one another and their children as well. All three young princes were educated to be potential kings. English history was sadly filled with young heirs who died before their fathers –– Henry VIII was a second son, as was Charles I himself –– but no one expected the family to be broken apart as it was.

For although Charles I was an excellent father, he was a lamentable king who resisted the desires of his people. Most disastrously, he believed his monarchy was divinely appointed, and refused to listen to Parliament’s wishes regarding taxation and religion. His defiance led to the two English Civil Wars between his own Royalist supporters and the Parliamentary forces led by General Oliver Cromwell. The Royalists lost and the king was captured, tried for treason, and, on a cold January morning in 1649, beheaded.

While the teenaged Charles, Prince of Wales, fought for his father in the early stages of the Civil Wars, by 1646, he was sent abroad for safety’s sake. He never saw his father again. James, Duke of York, was seized by the Parliamentary troops and held as a prized political pawn. But the fifteen-year-old prince boldly managed to escape his captors and join his older brother in exile. The queen also fled to France with Henrietta, the youngest princess. The last brother, Henry, Duke of Gloucester, was only nine when his father was executed. Unlike his older brothers, he remained in England as a prisoner with his sister Elizabeth, who died in captivity 1650 at fifteen. At last, in 1652, Henry was released to join his mother in France.

The exile was devastating to the once-close royal family. Scattered among several royal courts in Europe and pawning jewels for living expenses, the Stuarts survived largely on hope. When Cromwell died, Charles II was invited back to London to be restored to his throne in 1660. Charles and his two brothers returned to the joyful celebration known as the Restoration. But the personal sorrow wasn’t over. Their oldest sister, Mary of Orange, died in 1660, and their youngest brother, Henry, died of smallpox the same year. The youngest sister, Henrietta, was unhappily wed to the younger brother of Louis XIV, and she, too, died too young at 26. Queen Henrietta Maria died in 1669. By 1670, Charles and James were the only ones left.

So much tragedy left its mark on both men, but in surprisingly different ways. Charles was determined not to repeat his father’s errors. He resolved not to keep himself apart from his people, but moved freely among them, in parks, playhouses, and churches. Ever-charming, he avoided conflict if he could help it, whether with his mistresses or with Parliament. To keep himself as independent from Parliament as he could, he engaged in elaborate secret diplomacy with France and other countries, even accepting private subsidies as part of his backstairs diplomacy. While known to history as the Merry Monarch, Charles had an inescapable air of melancholy about him that shows in his portraits. For a king who lived so publicly, he was also very private; though he most likely converted to Catholicism on his deathbed, he had always remained an Anglican for the good of England.

James, however, reacted very differently to the family’s misfortunes. Just as Charles was dark-eyed and olive-skinned while James was blue-eyed and fair, their personalities, too, were equally at odds. While James was known for his hearty bluster and bravery in battle, he lacked his brother’s wit and intelligence. He could be stubborn and inflexible, much as their father had been. Also like their father, James believed in the divine right of absolute monarchy, and regarded Parliament as something to be bent to royal will. When he followed his conscience and publicly converted to Catholicism, his popularity among Protestant England sank, and he refused to see the reason why. He endorsed a large standing army, and defensively wished to eliminate any sort of dissension among the people.

It was all the proverbial recipe for disaster, and when James became king at the childless Charles’s death, the disaster was not long in coming. After three years of James’s reign, he was chased from his throne in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and replaced by his son-in-law and daughter, William and Mary. Yet James was not a bad man (and certainly not the monster that many later historians have painted him.) He followed his conscience, however misguided the results, and he believed that he was acting for the good of England. He was, quite simply, the wrong man for a vastly complicated job.

When Katherine Sedley fell in love with a Stuart brother, it was not the charming Charles who caught her heart, but the challenging James. And that is the story of The Countess and the King.

Here’s a link ( to an excerpt from The Countess and the King on my website (
I hope you’ll also stop by my blog with fellow author Loretta Chase, where we discuss history, writing, and yes, even the occasional pair of great shoes:

Many, many thanks to Susie for having me here today!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Upcoming HFBRT Event The Countess and the King by Susan Holloway Scott...

We at the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table are proud to announce our upcoming event featuring Susan Holloway Scott's new release The Countess and the King beginning Sept. 1 through Sept. 7th. We each will be sponsoring a giveawy of this great book at the end. There will be the usual guest posts, an interview and our book reviews. Should be a great week.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Announcing Winner of For the King!!!!

Congratulations SouthernBelle you are the winner of For The King by Catherine Delors.


Friday, July 16, 2010

The new man in my life...

Here he is Kilraeke's Hold The Wall Boys, Stonewall Jackson (Jackson for short). He came home with me last Saturday. I am so in love. He is my Markie's grandson. He is our future Mr. Golden Stud at Kilraeke Kennels.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

For the King by Catherine Delors giveaway...

I am excited to announce this giveaway for a brand new hardback edition of For the King by Catherine Delors. Great book! Here's your chance to get a free copy.

~ Must be a follower
~ Giveaway only for U.S. and Canada
~ To enter just post a comment and make sure you include your email address.

Giveaway will end on Wedensday July 28. Winner announced Thursday July 29.

Good Luck!!!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt Book Review...

I read this book for the first time in the summer of 1978. I was pregnant with my 3rd child and was having complications. I was ordered to be on bed rest for 4 months. It was really a tough time with two children age 3 and under running around. To brighten up my day a friend brought over a big bag of books. They were mostly Victoria Holt books. I had never even heard of her. What a treat. Mistress of Mellyn was the first one I read and fell in love. I devoured Victoria Holt that summer and now 32 years later I'm devouring them again.

I just finished Mistress of Mellyn for the 2nd time. I had forgotten most of it so it was really fun to read it all over again. What could be better than a suspenseful romance set in Cornwall. Martha Leigh "Marty" is forced into taking a position as a governess in Connan TreMellyn's household. Her charge is the bright, but sassy 7 year old daughter, Alice, of Lord TreMellyn. Martha has never been to Cornwall and is completely mesmerized by the place, so far away from every where else. Mellyn Manor is a huge house with spooky dark corners and hiding places. There are hushed secrets between the servants that Marty is dying to find out. What really happened to the late Mrs. TreMellyn? Was she really an adulterer or a victim of a murder? Marty will make it her mission to find the answers even if it will put her own life in danger. She can't help but notice how unhappy Alice and her father are and maybe uncovering the truth will help them move on with their lives.

What a fun and fast read this is. Mistress of Mellyn was the first book that Elenore Hibbert wrote under the pen name of Victoria Holt in 1955. As she continues to write as Victoria Holt the stories will get even more intricate and suspenseful. Ms. Holt wrote several books that will take place in Cornwall, Mistress of Mellyn, Bride of Pendoric, and Lord of Far Island. She must have loved the place. I can understand her love and fascination with the country. I had an opportunity last summer to stay in Boscastle, Cornwall. It's breathtaking. A place where land meets the sea. There is an aura about the place that is a little spooky no matter how beautiful it is. It is a place filled with stories and legends of smugglers, pirates, and witchcraft.

There is an amazing Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle that my daughter and I went in. We thought it was probably going to be silly, but I am here to tell you there was nothing silly about it. It was seriously spooky and I couldn't wait to get out of there.

Smuggler caves are all over the place. You can see how Daphne De Demauer was able to create Jamaica Inn and Frenchman's Creek.

Do yourself a favor and take an afternoon or two and sit back and enjoy Mistress of Mellyn. It's on sale right now on Amazon for $5.99.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Join The Holt & Heyer Summer Reading Challenge...

Holt and Heyer Summer Reading Challenge 2010
July 1 - September 22

All Things Royal is hosting a Holt and Heyer Summer Reading Challenge for 2010. The object is to read as much Victoria Holt and/or Georgette Heyer books as you can during the summer beginning July 1 – September 22. There will be monthly prices awarded and a surprise grand prize for the overall winner at the end of the challenge. Many of you know that I am a doll maker and sell my dolls all over the world, so you can guess what the grand prize will be!

As you read and finish your book report back to me with your accomplishments and I will post them.
Points awarded:

  • 1 pt awarded if you post the book you are reading on your blog as Currently Reading and send me the link.
  • 2 pts awarded for each book you read
  • 3 pts awarded if you post a review.
  • 4 pts awarded if you link back to me with your review.
  • 15 bonus pts. for tweeting about this Challenge
  • So ultimately you can earn up to 10 pts per book and an extra 15 pts. for tweeting. The reviews do not have to be elaborate. I want this to be fun, fun, fun.
  • To enter:

    ~Canadian and U.S. Residents only
    ~Must follow my blog
    ~Copy the challenge button and put it on your side bar with link and report back by commenting on this post with link to your site.

    That’s it!!!! Really this should be lots of fun. Summer is the time to relax and not be too serious! I will post information on what the monthly price is beginning July 1.

    Follow the link(s) for a complete list of Holt and Heyer books to choose from:
  • Victoria Holt:
  • Georgette Heyer:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Book Review of For the King by Catherine Delors...

I really knew so little about the post revolution in France and Napoleon. I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't know a thing about King Louis XVIII and royal conspirators plotting to usurp Napoleon and reinstate the Royal household.
For the King is just one book, but was so enlightening regarding this time period. It was intriguing to read about the plotting to overthrow Bonaparte and the investigation of Chief Inspector Roch Miquel in uncovering the plot. This story takes you through the streets and boudoirs of Paris. No one can be trusted.
This is a great summer read and wets your appetite for more. I hope this won't be Inspector Miquel's last case we will read about :-).
Congratulations Ms. Delors for a well written novel and thank-you for sharing it with the HFBRT.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Arc de Triomphe...The Trimpuh of Napeloen

Besides the Eiffel Tower The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most well recognized monuments associated with Paris. While in Paris a few years ago I was able to see this glorious monument up close and personal. It's just right there in the center of it all, traffic flowing all around it. I didn't know much about it's history other than I knew it was associated with Napoleon's victories.

It is really beautiful, as all Parisian monuments, being located in the center of town with the avenues radiating out from it in Pentagon shape, the best view being from the famous avenue Champs Élysées.

It was commissioned in 1806 by the Emperor Napoleon following his victory at Austerlitz. It was designed by the famous architect Jean Chalgrin in the Neoclassical version of the ancient Roman architecture. The Arc's sculptures represent the departing of the troops in 1792, the victories of Napoleon and the Revolution. Inside the walls of the Arc are found names of notable Generals and Soldiers who fought for French freedom from tyranny. In 1920 following WWI the tomb of The Unknown Soldier was laid to rest underneath the Arc.

The Arc de Triomphe has always represented victory for the troops and not withstanding two of the most memorable victory marches in recent history was the victorious Germans marching into Paris in 1940. Who can forget these pictures, they send chills down my spine just looking at them and thinking of the Parisians watching as the invaders march through their beloved landmark to change their lives forever.
1940 the Germans invaded Paris but it didn't stop the spirited French from plaguing their enemies with the resistance for five years. Paris was spared the bombs and destruction thank-goodness, however the devastation of life and morale was enough, so in the spring of 1945 it must have been such a glorious site to see another victorious army marching through the Arc this time liberators rather than conquerors.

Allied troops marching into Paris 1945

The Arc de Triomphe is a beautiful monument and I am so grateful I had the opportunity to see it in my life time. I have thoroughly enjoyed putting together this creative post for the HFBRT event featuring the soon to be released novel For the King by Catherine Delors.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Guest Post by Catherine Delors author of For the King...

I am so happy to be able to present this wonderful guest post by Catherine Delors the author of the fascinating soon to be released novel For the King. This post is so interesting about Napoleon and Josephine. Thank-you Ms. Delors for providing this for my blog and for participating in the HFBRT event highlighting your new book.

Napoléon and Joséphine in 1800

An interesting couple if ever there was one… Bonaparte then is not the portly man we
have come to associate with traditional Napoleonic imagery. He has not yet crowned himself Emperor of the French, but he has seized power a year earlier in a bloodless coup. In 1800 he is the First Consul, a reference to the era of the Republic in Rome. But his regime is already authoritarian, and he will use the bomb attack described in my new novel, FOR THE KING, to eliminate many of his political opponents.

In 1800 Bonaparte is only 31. His valet describes him as thin to the point of emaciation, with a sallow complexion, deep set blue eyes, a high forehead, and already thinning hair. He is of average height for the late 18th century (5 feet six and a half inches in English measurements.)

Josephine is 37, six years older than her husband, and the Bonaparte siblings, who hate her, calls her la vieille (“the hag.”) In fact she looks rather younger than her age, a gracious, elegant brunette.

What about the state of things between them? Sadly, the romance is gone. Oh, Napoléon was utterly smitten in the beginning of their marriage, but within a few months of the wedding, while he was waging war in Italy, she dashed his illusions by taking a lover. He retaliated in kind, and a string of mistresses ensued.

Now she is the one who is jealous. There are a few other clouds on the horizon: Bonaparte would like a son and heir, but a middle-aged Joséphine shows no signs of fertility. Yet Bonaparte’s immediate concerns are to consolidate his grip on power, not –quite yet- to establish a dynasty.

There is also the small matter that Joséphine receives enormous sums, 1,000 francs a day, from Fouché, the redoubtable Minister of Police, to spy on her husband. If Bonaparte knew about this, he would not take kindly to this new kind of betrayal, but the important thing is that he doesn’t know.

The truth of the matter is that Joséphine is a compulsive spender, far more so than Marie-Antoinette ever was, and that she is always in debt in spite of the generous stipend she receives as the wife of the First Consul. Bonaparte cannot comprehend where all that money goes, and she dreads asking for still more to pacify her creditors. This too creates great stress in their marriage.

But what matters in 1800 is that Napoléon and Joséphine are political allies. He knows he owes his rise in the army and national politics to her and her connections. Without those, it is unlikely that his coup would have succeeded. Napoléon and Joséphine planned it together, they would have shared the consequences of any failures, and now they bask together in the glow of success. He may no longer be madly in love, but he values his wife as his closest associate, and also, because he is very superstitious, his lucky star. Maybe, in his mind, she is the one who allowed him to escape the bomb detonated on their path on Christmas Eve 1800 . . .

Monday, June 21, 2010

New HFBRT Event for June For the King by Catherine Delors...

I am happy to announce this month's event for the HFBRT featuring the For the King by Catherine Delors. It will be an exciting week. Please check in with HFBRT for daily updates on reviews, guest posts, creative posts and give aways.
My schedule is as follows:
Guest Post by the author Catherine Delors June 23
Creative Post on Louis XVIII June 24
Book Review June 26.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Book Review of The House at Riverton by Kate Morton...

This beautiful debut novel by the Australian author Kate Morton is outstanding. Truly British, depicting the end of the Edwardian era along with the advent of WWI. If you are a fan of the BBC series Upstairs, Downstairs you will love this book.
Grace Reeves at 14 takes a job at the house on the hill known as Riverton. Her mother was a housemaid there until she left to give birth and raise Grace her only child. Grace becomes an integral part of the household upstairs and down. She is loved by the staff and the Hartford sisters whom she serves. Grace will see it all at Riverton, love, sorrow, despair, & betrayal. She will discover the answers to her own questions that her mother has kept silent about for years. She will have her own secrets and share in the desperate secrets of her employer.
Grace will learn a very hard, hard lesson that even the smallest deception can be life altering. She will eventually leave Riverton and go on with her own life until she makes a full circle back again to Riverton to put to rest events that have haunted her throughout her life. She is the only one who really knows what happened that night in 1924 that will change her life and Riverton forever.

I cannot recommend this book enough. I couldn't put it down. Ms. Morton has a lovely flowing way of writing. It is almost like you are on a boat peacefully sailing down a river, enjoying the beautiful scenery, taking it all in and then every once in awhile come the rapids that you have to sit up and pay attention to.

My favorite genre is British Historical Fiction and this book just fit right in. It's the type of book you will want to read a 2nd and 3rd time.

5 Royal Stars from me!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Book Review of The Secrets of the Tudor Court by D.L. Bogdon...

I have been ignoring my blogging responsibilities lately due to some health issues, but I am feeling better and part of the reason is because of this book.
A couple of weeks ago I did a very clumsy thing and fell at work on my way to the Ladies room. Of all things my non-slip sandal actually got stuck on the floor and I just kept going falling face forward and hitting my chest on the door frame on my way down landing on both knees. Unfortunately I was alone in the office and it scared me to death. I couldn't get up for awhile. When I did I turned off my computer, locked the doors and went home crying my head off. It hurt like crazy. I managed to get ice on everything, get in bed and grab a book. The book I grabbed off the shelf was none other than The Secrets of the Tudor Court. To tell the truth I wasn't planning on too much because this is the author's debut novel , etc. Was I in for a surprise!!!! From the first page it got me. I love the Tudor era. It seems to be never ending. Always some intrigue or new character that hasn't yet been explored. This book doesn't disappoint.

Mary Howard the daughter of Thomas Howard the 3rd Duke of Norfolk is our lovely protagonist who grows up in the Tudor Court beginning with being a young lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn. She is there through it all, the banishment of Catherine of Aragon. The rise and fall of Anne Boleyn. Anne of Cleve's divorce. The execution of her young sweet cousin Katherine Howard, and Catherine Parr's gentle care of King Henry in his final years. Mary marries the King's bastard son Henry FitzRoy and is not allowed to consummate the marriage. FitzRoy will die young never having made Mary his actual wife. She will be left destitute and have to fight for her rightful inheritance from her husband. She is used as a pawn by her scheming, ambitious father the Duke of Norfolk. She witness's her mother being abused by her father and she will know first hand betrayal, neglect and violence at her father's hand. Through all of this Mary maintains her dignity and, unbelievable as it sounds, her love and duty towards her father. She was the best contribution he ever made to this world, and in the end one would hope he realized this.
The author weaves an amazing story depicting their love/ hate relationship. The book is full of richly developed characters and plots. You might say the book could have been titled Yet Another Howard in The Tudor Court or the Tudor era could actually have been the Howard era. There were so many Howard's compared to Tudors. The Tudors were not prolific, but my word there were, and still Howard's coming out of the wood work. My goodness Katherine Howard was one of 10 children, the Duke himself was one of many as well. There are a lot of Howard descendants around including me. I never knew anything really about the Duke of Norfolk's immediate family. Somehow I could never imagine him having a wife and children. It was very interesting finding out about Mary and her brother the Earl of Surrey both of which were played by their father to meet his ambitions.
This book is well worth the purchase. You will not be disappointed. It will move you, it did me.
Ms. Bogdon is a talented author and this being her debut novel is amazing. I really look forward to her other books that will surely follow.

4.5 royal stars from me

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Book Review of The Confessions of Catherine DE Medici by C.W. Gortner...

It gives me great pleasure to review this outstanding book by the talented author C.W. Gortner author of The Last Queen and The Secret Lion.

Catherine is the last heir of the De Medici Dynasty of Italy in the 16th century. Her uncle is the infamous Pope Clement. Her childhood is controlled by her extended family. She is placed in a convent by her families adversaries. She witnesses the sacking of Rome by Charles the Emperor of Spain and sees things no child should ever have to witness.

She like most princesses is used as a political pawn in marriage. She is betrothed to Henri the son of Francois I of France and packed off to Paris where she will marry Henri whose life mission appears to be humiliating his new wife. He barely shows up for the wedding and has no mercy for her on their wedding night where it's slam, bam, thank-you mam and then he leaves to spend his honeymoon night with his mistress Diane le Poithers. In the beginning Catherine appears to be very timid and certainly not the Madame Serpent she is later refereed to as. Her husband is repulsed by the fact that she comes from mercantile heritage and not a true blue blood. In France according to her father-in-law Francois I pedigree is everything. It is finally made clear to Henri by his father that he has obligation to provide an heir for the kingdom, so he and Catherine finally get down to business with Diane le Poither's assistance and provide France with an heir, Francois II who is swept up by Diane and supervised by her in the royal nursery. Catherine and Henry will go on to have several children 4 of them being sons who will all at one time or another rule France. Catherine is bitter about sharing her husband with his mistress, but in time she will develop with Henri a loving relationship.

She will go onto rule France through her sons after her husband's death. She is determined to keep the kingdom in tack and Catholic. The world is turning upside down with religion. Holy wars are in abundance. In particular in France with the Huguenot's a Protestant faction that is ever threatening to over throw the crown. Catherine will seek drastic measures to assure that the crown remains in her family. St. Bartholomew's massacre of the Huguenots will be one horrible event that will earn her the title of Madame Serpent. Much has already been said about her association with the famed physic Notrotdamus so I will not be covering that here.

On page 321 of the book is a great summation of her life I would like to share.
Left alone I sank into my chair. I did not think. I simply put my face in my hands and wept as I hadn't in years. I mourned a thousand losses:for the child I'd been and the family I'd left behind, for the country I barely recalled anymore and country I now fought to save. I wept for my dead children and my living ones, who'd grown up infected by the poisonous hatred of our religious wars. I wept for my friends and my enemies;for all the lost hopes and illusions. But most of all, I wept for myself and the woman I had become.

Mr. Gortner tells a great story. This book is written in first person which is my favorite. I was captivated from the beginning to the end. The author really knows women , and how they express themselves and their feelings. I was amazed, it's not everyday a man can portray women so well.
I can tell you now that I will be reading The Last Queen and The Secret Lion soon. I would like to express my thanks to Mr. Gortner and HFBRT for the opportunity to review this book.

4.5 stars from me.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Upcoming HFBRT Event for May...

This is such an exciting new book. I have never read Mr. Gortner before and I will say I am very impressed! I really enjoyed this book and will doing a review as well as a creative post for this event. Make sure your check out HFBRT for the schedule. It will be interesting for sure. My review is scheduled for Saturday May 15th.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Power of Motivation to spruce up the old...

I love my home, I truly do, but lately(like the last 4 years) I have been totally unmotivated to do anything new to spruce it up. In my younger years I loved decorating, now I love blogging and making dolls. My standards beyond cleanliness has been in a rut. What could get me more motivated than hearing that my dear friend of 34 years is coming to visit with her husband? Motivated, more like complete panic. The last time she visited was my son's wedding 11 years ago. I don't think anything has really changed in 11 years.

I just couldn't have her see the rut I'm in, so my daughter and I sat down and made a list of what need changing and began making plans. We realized it was going to take some investment. We didn't want to spend a great deal, like a whole new room of furniture, we knew we had to be economical. We both love English decorating, we wanted something in between English country and formal. We began with a major declutter. We made a place for our doll making supplies to be hidden out of the way instead of in the dining room. We bought slip covers for the old couch and love seat.
I bought a whole bunch of accent pillows at Wal-mart to bring out the color in the wood and art work. We spent a lot of time in Ross and Marshalls and was able to pick up some fun decorating pieces such as table frames, tea trays, table cloths and pictures. We are both doll collectors/makers, but nothing looks worse than going into a home that is just overwhelming with dusty dolls.
My daughter found a vintage pram off of Craig's list for $150 in perfect condition. We chose one doll each that would compliment the room and have them in the pram. We completely redid the upstairs bathroom. I will have to show picture of that later. By the time we were finished it just looked beautiful. It was exactly what we were trying to achieve. All in all we figure we spent about $600 which is very reasonable for a makeover.
I wish I had before pictures, but I am sharing some quick pictures I took this morning on my way to work.

My friends were very impressed and when we were out shopping yesterday she found a Feltman Bros. vintage infant dress for one of my pram dolls. I love going home now and walking in my front door! I would love to hear how you have made over your home. It's fun to share ideas.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Who do you think you are?

One of my favorite shows lately is Who Do You Think You Are? aired on NBC Friday's at 8:00 p.m. If you are interested in your family history at all this is the show to watch. Totally fascinating!!! I have also been reading The Confessions of Catherine De Medici by C.W.Gortner in preparation for our HFBRT event in May. It has been a real treat to see the Brooke Shields episode on Who Do You Thing You Are? She has family links back to Henri III and Catherine. One of her great grandmothers, the daughter of Henri IV was born in the Louvre. Perfect timing for the upcoming HFBRT event, it just makes it more real.
I am including a clip from her episode and a link to the full episode.

Link for full episode:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Life and Times of Queen Elizabeth II pt 2...

My daughter made this amazing movie in tribute to the Queen. It's just beautiful, so touching and so romantic. She has said with pictures and music far more than I could say in words. Hope you will enjoy this and let me know which part touched you the most. I have few favorite scenes but one in particular, but don't want to spoil it for you.

Life and Times of Queen Elizabeth II, A Royal Tribute by Elizabeth Fiorito

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Queen Elizabeth II 84th Birthday Today...

In commemoration of HRM Queen Elizabeth II 84th birthday today April 21 I would like to do a series of posts over the next few days highlighting her life.

What better place to start than at the beginning. Elizabeth Alexandria Mary Windsor the first child of Prince Albert, Duke of York and his wife Elizabeth was born by C-section April 21, 1926.
Her official title at birth was Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of York. She was then 3rd in line to the throne behind her Uncle Edward, Prince of Wales and her father. There was no reason at the time of her birth to presume she would ever be Queen of England, it was always assumed that the Prince of Wales would marry and have children providing an heir to the throne.

Elizabeth was very close to her grandfather King George V he always enjoyed her company especially in his final days, she provided great relief to him. In 1936 he died leaving the throne to the still unmarried Edward Prince of Wales. Elizabeth now became 2nd in line to the throne after her father and within the year after her uncle would abdicate the throne to her father she would become the Heiress Presumptive , and was there after known as Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth.

Elizabeth grew up with her only sibling Princess Margaret born in 1930. She was much loved and doted on by both her parents and the royal household. She was known at a very early age to be "a jolly little girl, but fundamentally sensible and well-behaved". Winston Churchill described Elizabeth at two as "a character. She has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant."

The following pictures are newly released never before seen pictures of Elizabeth as a baby. They are now on display at Windsor Castle in commemoration of her 84th birthday.

Tomorrow I will doing her early to teen years. I hope you will drop by and check out the commentary and pictures.

“I have to be seen to be believed.” Elizabeth II

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Claude and Camille giveaway...

Excited to offer this giveaway of Stephanie Cowell's newly released Claude and Camille. This give away is for follwers only.
Just comment on this post with your email address and follower ID.

U.S. and Canada only.

Winner will be chosen through Wedensday April 28th.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Passion for Old Libraries, Guest Post with Stephanie Cowells

I feel very honored today to be able to bring you a wonderful guest post by the marvelous author Stephanie Cowells. As many of you know the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table is featuring her newly released book Claude and Camille for this months event. I want to tell Stephanie thank-you for sharing with us this wonderful post on Old Libraries. I think I can safely say that all book bloggers are groupies of libraries and book stores. Something about the smell and feel of books that turn us all on :-). This was a perfect guest post subject for my blog.

From Stephanie Cowells:

Nothing makes my heart beat the same way than entering an old library. There are many such libraries in New York City where I live, among them the Frick Museum and the Morgan. I used to have fantasies of being locked into the Frick all night and able to take down any book I wanted and read it. They are huge and beautifully bound. The Morgan has books way back before the dawn of printing.

When traveling to Europe and England, all anyone needs to say to me is, “Would you like to see the old library at…” and my pulse quickens. So I approached Duke Humphrey’s Library, whose books have sat on those shelves since 1488; it is part of the magical Bodleian at Oxford. For twelve days I lived in its shadow at Jesus College. And some months ago I went to Dublin to see the Book of Kells (gospels copied and illustrated on calfskin around 800) and then climbed the steps to the ancient huge Trinity Library at whose sight I was so stunned that I stood motionless while my eyes filled with tears.

I understood while writing my first novel (Nicholas Cooke, which takes place largely in Elizabethan London) that with an accredited publisher standing behind me, I could be admitted to research libraries and read the books. And so I studied the science of 17th century London from books published at the time; I also studied the invaluable Stow’s Chronicles of London in its first 1596 edition in which John Stow intimately talks about every street and shop he knew in London when Will Shakespeare was a rising writer and the Queen very old and very fascinated by Lord Essex.

Several years ago, the curator’s assistant at the famous Berg Collection of manuscripts in New York’s Public Library invited me over to see some special things. Did I like the Brontes? Well then! He unfolded what I remember was a small leather envelope which held a scrap of brown paper and on it, in her tiny, faded writing, was an early poem by Emily. I touched the very paper she touched over a hundred and fifty years ago in a parsonage in Yorkshire. Another time I went to Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book Library and, in the vault of the adjoining Elizabethan Club where tea is served each day, I found and was able to study one of the 13 extant copies of the original publication of Shakespeare’s sonnets. It may have been his own copy; there were a few tiny holes in the pages where a candle spark had burned them.

But there is also a library I love dearly only a few feet away from my desk which has a good collection of books, if none of them as old as the Book of Kells. It is my library. I have a reproduction of Shakespeare’s First Folio and a friend gave me a Victorian housekeeping book printed 1848 in which I found very dry pressed flowers between the pages. Who put them there?

Old books and libraries! There time past is surely time present always.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mary Cassatt an Impressionist...

I have chosen to do my creative post for the Historical Fiction Round Table event featuring Stephanie Cowell's newly released Claude and Camille on Mary Cassatt~the only recognized woman and American Impressionist.

Mary was born in 1844 into a very wealthy family in Allegheny City Pennsylvania. She was one of seven children. Her parents were firm believers in education for both sons and daughters. They were very encouraging in broadening their children's horizons. They sent Mary as a pre-teen abroad to Europe visiting all the capital cities for five years. It was during this time that she began to pursue her talent as an artist. Her first exposure to the Impressionist was at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1855. Degas and Pissarro were exhibiting and would later become Mary's colleagues and mentors.

Upon returning to the United States Mary enrolled at the age of fifteen in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Her parents objected to her becoming a professional artist. They were concerned about the bohemian lifestyle and feminist indoctrination. Mary was not impressed with the academic at the Academy and left it with no degree granted. She wanted to study real art with live models. She finally was able to convince her father and she, her mother and a few family friends left for Paris. She studied with Jean Leon Gerome, Charles Chaplin and Thomas Couture.

Becoming a recognized and commissioned artist is a rough road at best. Mary was very frustrated. She had many admirers, but no sales. 1870 during the Franco-Prussian war Mary returned to the United States. Her father still adamantly objected to her chosen profession. He allowed her to live in the family home and paid for her living expenses, but would not allow her to spend one penny of his money on art supplies. She was so frustrated that in 1871 she wrote to her friend I have given up my studio & torn up my father's portrait...

In 1872 Mary returned to France with hopes of self starting her career. What she found was that the art world was a man's world. Female artists were seen with contempt and publicly ridiculed. Mary was very outspoken regarding this giving the public more reason to dismiss her work.

1877 was the lowest point of her career. She was rejected and humiliated. It was during this time that the Impressionist Degas came to notice Mary's work and invited her to exhibit with the Impressionists at independent exhibitions that were gaining much attendant notoriety. Mary was always an admirer of Degas, Renoir, Monet and the others. She was so grateful to Degas, they became life long friends. This was the launching of her career. Mary would go onto receive countless awards and recognition. Her legacy includes: SS Mary Cassatt a World War II Liberty Ship launched in 1943, the all-female Cassatt Quartet formed at Julliard in honor of the painter in 1985, and US Postal Service stamp collections. Her paintings have sold for as much as $2.9 million. She died in 1926 at the age of 82 near Paris and is buried in the family vault in Le Mesnil-Théribus France.

She was said to be the artist that captured the tender moment. Her art work was almost exclusively about real life scenes especially those of the mother and child. She often used her own mother, sisters, nieces and nephews as her models. She drew from observing those tender moments in life and transported them onto the canvas making them eternal. She is my favorite Impressionist.

The following are some of her more recognized works:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Origins & Ten Commandments of Medieval Knighthood...

To coincide with our HFBRT The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick event I have decided to do my creative post on Medieval Knighthood.

William Marshall being The Greatest Knight and my 27th great grandfather sparked a keen interest in me to explore the origins of Knighthood in the Middle Ages further. Through my research I have learned that knight is a "gentleman soldier". Knighthood in the Middle Ages found it's genesis with the Emperor Charlemagne, King of Franks in the 8th century. It was during the Crusades in the 11th century that knights began to gain their notoriety. A well known and often legendary order of knighthood during this time was The Knights Templar; a holy order of knights which William Marshall always had an affinity towards and joined the order with instructions to the Templar's regarding his burial while on his death bed.

Basically a medieval knight was a warrior, from a middle to upper class family who was considered a protector and servant of the realm. They really held no political office, knighthood was granted by the sovereign to a selected person for some merit of achievement. In the medieval era only the sons of a knight were eligible for knighthood. These young men who were singled out were sent off to a castle as pages, and then later squires for other knights. Around the age of 20 they would be admitted to their rank and expected to obey the code of chivalry at all times, no failure was accepted.

It would be rare, if not impossible during the middle ages for a poor man to become a knight. The heavy armor worn and weapons used by the soldier was very heavy and very expensive. The soldier needed family support to purchase his armor, and horse(s), it was not provided by the state, thus William's uncle was his sponsor and later through ransoms gained in battle or tournaments William supported himself.

A knight rode into battle on horseback he was not a foot soldier. In battle a knight would carry his colors on his horse, armor, or on a banner. This was an identification similar to dog tags used in today's military. His colors also indicated he was a knight, and if captured by the enemy was afforded military courtesy. Beginning in about the 12th century knights carried their color banners to tournaments for identification in the games. These colors were actually the beginning elements of a family's coat of arms, which became very popular from the 12th century to present day. Once a knight they were expected to obey the code chivalry at all times. Their social status was permanently controlled, and their lives were always under watchful eyes.

Below are the Ten Commandments of the Code of Chivalry:
1. Thou shalt believe all that the Church teaches, and shalt observe all its directions.

2. Thou shalt defend the Church.

3. Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.

4. Thou shalt love the country in the which thou wast born.

5. Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.

6. Thou shalt make war against the Infidel without cessation, and without mercy.

7. Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of God.

8. Thou shalt never lie, and shall remain faithful to thy pledged word.

9. Thou shalt be generous, and give largess to everyone.

10. Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this HFBRT event it's been my favorite so far. I hope you all will pick-up a copy of both The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick. I cannot recommend these two books enough. You will be in for a treat.

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