Thursday, April 28, 2016

(Review) The Jane and Bertha in Me, Poems by Rita Maria Martinez

Publication Date: January 12, 2016
Publisher: Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books
Genre: Poetry
Pages: 90
Source: Free ebook copy from Poetic Book Tours, and Rita Maria Martinez, in exchange for a review.
Rating: 4 stars for very good.

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Rita Maria Martinez is a Cuban-American poet from Miami, Florida. Her writing has been published in journals including the Notre Dame Review, Ploughshares, MiPOesias, and 2River View. She authored the chapbook Jane-in-the-Box, published by March Street Press in 2008. Her poetry also appears in the textbook Three Genres: The Writing of Fiction/Literary Nonfiction, Poetry and Drama, published by Prentice Hall; and in the anthology Burnt Sugar, Caña Quemada: Contemporary Cuban Poetry in English and Spanish, published by Simon and Schuster. Martinez has been a featured author at the Miami Book Fair International; at the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, Florida; and at the Palabra Pura reading series sponsored by the Guild Literary Complex in Chicago. She earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Florida International University.

Tour Stops:
April 4: Musings of a Bookish Kitty (interview)
April 10: Emma Eden Ramos (review)
April 12: Everything Distils Into Reading (review)
April 15: Book Dilettante (review)
April 16: Suko’s Notebook (review)
April 18: True Book Addict (review)
April 22: Jorie Loves a Story (review)
April 25: Diary of an Eccentric (review)
April 26: Unabridged Chick (review)
April 27: Pretty Purple Polka Dots (review)
April 28: Impressions in Ink (review)
April 30: Create With Joy (review)

Summary:
This spring marks the bicentennial of Charlotte Brontë’s birth. In her ambitious and timely debut, The Jane and Bertha in Me, Rita Maria Martinez celebrates Brontë’s classic novel Jane Eyre. Through wildly inventive, beautifully crafted persona poems, Martinez re-imagines Jane Eyre’s cast of characters in contemporary contexts, from Jane as an Avon saleslady to Bertha as a Stepford wife. These lively, fun, poignant poems prove that Jane Eyre’s fictional universe is just as relevant today as it was so many years ago. The Jane and Bertha in Me is a must-read for any lover of Brontë’s work.

My Thoughts: 
Three sections holding a total of 38 poems:
"Femme Covert"
"The Gothic Grotesque"
"Promiscuous Reading"

"Fashion Remedy" is the first poem in the collection that drew me in with its provocative language. "Jane's grown weary of lingeried mannequins, of women spritzing her like exterminators."
In this poem, Jane's anger is just below the surface, ready to leap-up. Eddie is controlling and a manipulator. He's kept secrets from her, "mothballs beneath the bed." Jane questions if she can trust him again. She is drawn to him even though her intuition prompts otherwise. 
A second poem I love is "Cause and Effect".  This is a poem that must be read aloud. I love the pronunciation of the words on my tongue and lips. "She puckers, she contours, she slathers her kisser with Pink Panther lipstick before slipping under plaid quilts because there's a macaroni-shaped scar on her lip." Bertha is eccentric, different, off. However, she's a thinking woman, even if her thoughts are out-there, these thoughts and ideas need someone to disentangle and translate. 
"Letter to Edward" reeks anger, yet there is self-control. Sarcasm is spewing. 
Lastly, my favorite poem is "Reading Jane Eyre II." "I opened a can of alphabet soup and searched for clues in letters, life preservers in broth." I could read this poem 100 times and find something different that reaches out to pluck my emotions. 

A few of the poems did not appeal to me, because there is a strong tone of raw biting aggression. On the other hand, poems are not always "moonlight and roses." I appreciate the collection of poems and over-all loved reading them, but a few of them did not appeal to me. 

The Jane and Bertha in Me is a Rubik’s Cube(TM) of Jane's. Each poem is a smartly annotated, hauntingly revisionist homage to Jane Eyre. Martinez’s astounding poems are literary, conversational, personal, fun, as she confidently transports her Janes from the Moors to Macy’s, from Thornfield Hall to the world of tattoos.  —Denise Duhamel, author of Blowout
Rita Maria Martinez’s The Jane and Bertha in Me gives an unusual twist to the well-known characters from Jane Eyre, envisioning Jane at the guidance counselor, Bertha getting a makeover. These persona poems give us greater insight into the minds of madwoman and governess alike and even minor characters like Blanche and Alice, with beautiful, lush language and empathetic vision. Even casual fans of Brontë’s great book will enjoy this lively re-imagining.  —Jeannine Hall Gailey, author of The Robot Scientist’s Daughter

Further links for reading:


Thursday, April 21, 2016

(Review) The Guardian: A Tale of Andrew Murray, A Tale of Scottish Independence by Jack Whyte

Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Forge Books
Genre: Scottish history, historical fiction, 13th century, the Battle of Stirling Bridge
Pages: 560
Source: Free advanced reader copy from Forge Books in exchange for a review
Rating: 4 stars for very good

Link for book at the publisher: The Guardian

Jack Whyte's website

Jack Whyte's Facebook

Jack Whyte's Twitter

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The Guardians Trilogy:
The Forest Laird, William Wallace
The Renegade, Robert Bruce--this book can be confusing in the title. It is newly titled as Robert the Bruce
The Guardian, Andrew Murray, also known as Andrew de Moray

I noticed there is a discrepancy in the change of book titles. This can be confusing. All of the trilogy books are A Tale of Scottish Independence and The Guardian Series. The first book is about William Wallace, the second is Robert the Bruce, and the third is Andrew Murray.

I wish there was a map included in my advanced reader copy. This link includes an easy to understand map of the Battle of Stirling Bridge: BBC Bitesize.

Further links for reading:
Andrew Moray from Education Scotland
The Son of Scotland
Crann Tara

YouTube video on William Wallace by Jack Whyte. I did not find a video pertaining to this book.


The book begins with the "Author's Note". Jack Whyte answers and explains, "What is historical fiction?" I loved this introduction piece from the author. It is true, some readers do not know the definition of historical fiction.

Father James Wallace, or Jamie, is the narrator of the story. He is the cousin of William Wallace. Chapter one is dated 1343, Jamie is looking back on life in regards to the history of his cousin William Wallace, and Andrew Murray. Andrew Murray joined forces with William Wallace in the Wars of Scottish Independence. They battled the English king, Edward I, and his army.

The story is narrated and from the perspective of Jamie. He is both a man of the priesthood and a (sometime) soldier. He has written the tale to set the story straight on William Wallace. He believes his cousin has become a "demigod" and he wants an honest portrayal to be presented.

The year is 1297.
Edward I (ruled 1272-1307) invaded Scotland wanting to claim lands. Scottish forces gathered and fought to defend and reclaim their homeland.

Over-all I loved this story. This is the first book I've read from Jack Whyte. I plan to read more!

Several points lead me to award this book 4 stars for very good.

  • Historical accuracy. 
  • Portrays the brotherhood of the men in arms. Their devotion, camaraderie, commitment, strength, and sacrifice. 
  • Shows the transformation of William Wallace. He had a dramatic change in his demeanor and focus after his family's death. 
  • Records the life of Andrew Murray. His motivations, family, and part in the Battle of Stirling Bridge. 
  • Impressive and descriptive view of Stirling Castle. 
  • A masculine story, but filled with the imagery of humanity and its vulnerability.
  • Powerful account of battles and the battlefield afterwords. 
  • Jamie is an insightful and reflective man. Through his lens I saw how he processed the horrors of a battle, carnage, and death.
  • An especially emotional moment in the book when Jamie stops to give viatica or viaticum, last rights. 
The book is more of Jamie's reflection on this period in time, 1297. The book contains the characters, William Wallace and Andrew Murray. However, it did not reflect strongly the one man, Andrew Murray (in the subtitle). The story is wonderful, but it does not relay to me what the subtitle referred. I feel Jamie, Father James Wallace is the principal character. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

(Review) Midnight in Berlin by James MacManus

Publication Date: April 19, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martins
Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 416
Source: Free hardcover copy from Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc., in exchange for a review
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.

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James MacManus
JAMES MACMANUS is the managing director of The Times Literary Supplement. His other novels includeThe Language of the SeaBlack Venus and Sleep in Peace Tonight. In 2006, his film script about the life of British journalist George Hogg, based on his novel Ocean Devil, became the major motion picture, The Children of Huang Shi, starring Jonathan Rhys MeyersFor more information, please visit www.jamesmacmanus.com
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British Colonel Joel Macrae is a military attache. His new post is Berlin, Germany. Macrae's wife is Primrose. They are both middle-aged, no children. Early in the story it is apparent their relationship has chilled to the point of tepid water.
It is the spring of 1939. Macrae's job is to gather intelligence information on Nazi Germany. Meanwhile, the Gestapo is gathering information on Macrae.
Macrae meets Sara, a beautiful Jewish woman working in a brothel. Macrae takes on another assignment in helping Sara.
Midnight in Berlin is a historical fiction novel set during the spring before World War II officially began in September 1939.
Several supporting characters from this period in time are in the novel: Kitty Schmidt owner of Salon Kitty, Reinhard Heydrich, William Shirer, Nevile Henderson, and Neville Chamberlain.

Several points led me to award Midnight in Berlin 5 stars for excellent:

  • A strong supporting cast from this period in history. 
  • Setting of the scenes are vivid and led me to easily picture the story in my mind. 
  • A love story hindered by several situations. This point led me to continue reading to the last page, because I had to know the revealing of their story. 
  • Every scene is weighty, and feels like at any moment a betrayal may happen or a nasty incident or the death of one of the primary characters.
  • The story showed the sacrifices of those who hoped to stop the war, tried to sound an alarm a war was approaching, and to gather information on the enemy. 
  • Macrae is a character who struggles to do the right thing. He has external and internal struggles. He is a masculine character, yet I saw vulnerability in him. 
I did not care for the ending, it is just not how I wanted the story to conclude. However, it does not take away from the brilliance of the story. 



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

(Review) The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie

 The Rivals of Versailles
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Atria Books/Simon and Schuster
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 448
Source: Free copy from France Book Tours and Atria Books. 
Rating: 4 stars for very good.

The Rivals of Versailles is book two, in a three part series of The Mistresses of Versailles. 
The first published book in the series is The Sisters of Versailles. 
The third book is (unpublished) The Enemies of Versailles. 

Links for further reading:
Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Britannica
Madame de Pompadour, Biography
This is Versailles, Blogger
Chateau De Versailles

Link for the book tour page @ France Book Tours. 

Synopsis: 
In this scandalous follow-up to Sally Christie’s clever and absorbing debut, we meet none other than the Marquise de Pompadour, one of the greatest beauties of her generation and the first bourgeois mistress ever to grace the hallowed halls of Versailles. The year is 1745. Marie-Anne, the youngest of the infamous Nesle sisters and King Louis XV’s most beloved mistress, is gone, making room for the next Royal Favorite. Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a stunningly beautiful girl from the middle classes. Fifteen years prior, a fortune teller had mapped out young Jeanne’s destiny: she would become the lover of a king and the most powerful woman in the land. Eventually connections, luck, and a little scheming pave her way to Versailles and into the King’s arms. All too soon, conniving politicians and hopeful beauties seek to replace the bourgeois interloper with a more suitable mistress. As Jeanne, now the Marquise de Pompadour, takes on her many rivals—including a lustful lady-in-waiting; a precocious fourteen-year-old prostitute, and even a cousin of the notorious Nesle sisters—she helps the king give himself over to a life of luxury and depravity. Around them, war rages, discontent grows, and France inches ever closer to the Revolution. Enigmatic beauty, social climber, actress, trendsetter, patron of the arts, spendthrift, whoremonger, friend, lover, foe. History books may say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour, but one thing is clear: for almost twenty years, she ruled France and the King’s heart.

My Thoughts:
Jeanne-Antoinette Poison was born in 1721. At a young age, a gypsy predicted her future as a mistress to a king. Jeanne fell in love with Louis XV before their first meeting.
From the beginning pages, Jeanne is shown as a remarkable girl with an extraordinary future. She is beautiful, charming, talented, discreet, and loyal. The Rivals of Versailles portrays her life and love as only to King Louis XV. The material benefits she received from him were secondary to her love for him. Her every thought centered on him.
If The Rivals of Versailles had focused only on Jeanne, the story would still be absorbing. However, several other mistresses are included. Their varying personalities and temperaments are set against the beloved Jeanne. Sharing each of the women's stories gave me a strong view of the competition for the affections of the king. The women and their families are shown as ambitious people. Money, prestige, and power are at stake. I found this fascinating.
I was given an education of French 18th century court life during Louis XV. People gossip, slander, and make alliances with people they feel can benefit their desires. It is hard to imagine loving parents directing their daughters to become mistress to the king. But this coveted role came with gifts that extended to the families. The girls were pawns and a means to an end.
Louis XV needed constant attention, entertainment, and "comfort". He had an insatiable sex drive. In my opinion he is presented as a spoiled and bored man. His mistresses not only performed a duty as a sexual toy, but must remain discreet in any political affairs they heard.
The Rivals of Versailles's strengths are the "fairy-tale" world of wealth and luxury at the bequest of the French king, and Jean-Antoinette Poison, the enchanting Marquis de Pompadour.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sisters of Versailles - Sally Christie Sally Christie is the author of The Sisters of Versailles. She was born in England and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three different languages. She spent most of her career working in international development and currently lives in Toronto. Learn more about the sisters and the mistresses in the Versailles trilogy on her website Become a fan to hear about her next novels! Visit her Facebook Page Check her Pinterest page
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EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 10
News of my rendezvous with the king quickly leaks and throngs of well-wishers crowd our house. I greet all the visitors and listen politely to their advice. My stomach is bound in knots and I am surviving on bouillon and the knowledge that I will see him again soon.
Last night Sylvie from the kitchens replaced my tea with a glass of milk, and solemnly told me the story of her cousin, used and abused by a horse trader who, already having the horse, did not bother to buy her a bridle. I drank the glass of milk defiantly, down to the last drop.
Binet brings tidings from Court and pulls me into a corner:
Now, who would buy the chicken if they’re eating eggs every day? The Duchesse de Châteauroux held off on the eggs, and received the farm, as well as a castle.”
You don’t feed the fish you’ve already caught, now do you?” says Madame de Tencin, waggling a gnarled finger at me.
What? I want to say, but instead: “I am sorry, Madame, but I am not sure I catch the way of your words.”
Others chime in.
No one wants the beaver if they already own the hat.”
Why purchase the book if you can borrow it? Libraries—the brothels of the literary world, my dear.”
Who would buy the whole hog if all they want is a little sausage? No, wait, Madame, ignore those last words; I spoke ill.”
I flee the salon for the peace of my chambers. I want them all to go away, to do anything but give me more of their tiresome advice. I cannot explain, even to my dearest mother, what I know in my
heart: strategy, subterfuge, plans and plots—I do not need them. I reach under the mattress and pull out the note, so secret that no one else has seen it. I received it three days ago and the words
make real his whispered promise: Until Paris.
Fairest Flora, it is with delight and anticipation that I write this note. I must see you again—the ball at the Hôtel de Ville. Be by the back door, and wait for Ayen.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

(Review) The Spy of Venice, William Shakespeare Thriller 1 by Benet Brandreth

Publication Date: March 24, 2016.
Publisher: Twenty7 Books, an imprint of Bonnier Publishing Fiction.
Genre: Historical fiction, William Shakespeare.
Pages: 448.
Source: Free advanced reader copy from Twenty7 in exchange for a review.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.

Amazon (Kindle)
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About the Author:
Benet Brandreth is a highly-regarded barrister, rhetoric coach and authority on Shakespeare.  He works regularly with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Donmar and others on Shakespeare’s use of language.  He has also written and performed for radio and the stage.  His one-man show, “The Brandreth Papers”, was a five-star reviewed sell-out at the Edinburgh Festival and on its London transfer.  He is qualified as an instructor in the Filipino Martial Arts and as a stage combat choreographer.  He lives in London with his wife and two sons and is exhausted from all his efforts at becoming a Renaissance Man.
Website
Twitter

Summary:
Spring, 1585.
Young William Shakespeare is unhappy living a domestic life. He has a wife and three children. He works in a glove shop. After a short-lived tryst with a young woman, he leaves home for a new life in London. Shakespeare meets a group of players who have plans to travel with England's Ambassador to Venice, Italy. While in Venice, Shakespeare meets exhilarating and mysterious Isabella. Isabella is haunted by her past. Venice is an enticing and romantic city; however, it holds danger and intrigue.
The Spy of Venice focuses on the lost years of William Shakespeare, 1585-1592.

My Thoughts:
I love The Spy of Venice. 
I am a William Shakespeare fan. I was immediately drawn-in to the story about his (unknown) life; including the added elements of mystery, danger, travel, and romance.
The Spy of Venice has an exotic feel. The culture and society of Venice, Italy as compared to London, England is polar in differences. For example: Catholicism rules in Venice. The Protestant Reformation has settled in London. The Spy of Venice characters have a link to the pope. Another example of the exotic feel to the story is in one scene where Shakespeare is walking through the streets of Venice, the people described are of different "colours and fashions of attire, speaking all the languages of Christendom and the barbarous tongues of lands beyond...." London, England is not a metro-cultural-haberdashery of people. It is a land far away from Venice's worldly culture.
The Spy of Venice begins with a three page introduction that left me gasping. I was shocked at the beginning story and had to read-on for the full story's revelation.
The Spy of Venice is a romantic story that is a perfect fit for Shakespeare. He would never settle for a normal status-quo relationship. His heart yearns for a thrilling dramatic affair.
The Spy of Venice is organized by chapters and sections like in a play. For example, Prologue, Act One, and Interlude.
I'm anxious to read future books in this series!




Friday, April 8, 2016

(Review) Forgetting Tabitha by Julie Dewey


Publication Date: January 1, 2016
Publisher: Holland Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 221
Source: Free copy from Julie Dewey in exchange for a review
Rating: 4 stars for very good (the first 1/3 of book). 2 Stars for okay (for the rest of the book).

Julie Dewey website

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Summary:
Tabitha Salt is a first generation American. She is the daughter of Irish immigrants. After her father died, she and her mother move to a tenement in the Five Points district of New York City. Tabitha's mother makes a living by taking in laundry. They survive but barely. Within a a year of her father's death her mother dies. Tabitha is left an orphan at age ten. She has two choices: live on the streets, or live in a children's home managed by the Sisters of Charity.

Further reading:
Five Points Neighborhood from About Education
Urbanography

Five Points mid 1800s. 

My Thoughts:
I believe the strength of the story is in the descriptions of life in the Five Points neighborhood of NYC. The first thirty pages are devoted to Tabitha's perspective, feelings, and terror in this rough place where humans lived. However, it was base living. Not only was the living conditions horrific, but the people living in these conditions committed horrific crimes. There is a strong sense of entrapment for the people who lived there. They were like people living in a cramped cage of despair.
Several factors of life in Five Points are examined: diseases, filth, vermin, prostitution, murder, malnutrition, infection, child abuse, profiteering, poverty, homelessness, starvation, rape, molestation, gang fighting, gambling, and illiteracy.
There is a scene where Tabitha is looking out a window and she takes in a panoramic view of the area. This is a dynamic scene through a young child's eyes; and what the reader comes to understand as a place where humanity is broken.
The next section of the story is Tabitha's intermission period. She is in route to a new life.
A third of the way through the story a different direction takes over. Characters briefly introduced become main characters with their unique voices. Several chapters focus on these characters. Eventually Tabitha's character is reintroduced. I did not care for the focus moving away from Tabitha and to other characters. When it first happened my first thought was, "stop the presses, what happened to Tabitha?"
I feel a lengthier (first part of the book) focus on the Five Points Section and Tabitha's life there would provide a strong punch to make Tabitha a memorable character. The focus shifting away from her left me feeling deserted. I feel the main thrust should be Tabitha's life and voice continuing to the last page.
I feel the books audience should be defined. Forgetting Tabitha is not a young adult book. There are several books published for children and young adults with stories of the orphan trains. Forgetting Tabitha is an adult story with strong adult themes. I make this point because some reviewers seemed confused about whether or not the book was written for adults or young adults.
Lastly, I feel the summing up of the characters and their involvement with one another was predictable. Further, one relationship was sticky-icky.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

(Review) Grendel's Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife by Susan Signe Morrison

Publication Date: September 25, 2015
Publisher: Top Hat Books
Genre: Historical fiction, Anglo-Saxon literature, Beowulf, Grendel.
Paperback and eBook
Pages: 238
ISBN-10: 1785350099
Source: Free copy from Susan Signe Morrison and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for a review. 
Rating: 5 stars for excellent. 
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Summary: 
An amber bead. A gold and glass drinking horn. A ring engraved with Thor’s hammer – all artifacts from a Germanic tribe that carved a space for itself through brutality and violence on a windswept land. Brimhild weaves peace and conveys culture to the kingdom, until the secret of her birth threatens to tear apart the fragile political stability. This is her story – the tale of Grendel’s Mother. She is no monster as portrayed in the Old English epic, Beowulf. We learn her side of the story and that of her defamed child. We see the many passages of her life: the brine-baby who floated mysteriously to shore; the hall-queen presiding over the triumphant building of the golden hall Heorot and victim of sexual and political betrayal; the exiled mere-wife, who ekes out a marginal life by an uncanny bog as a healer and contends with the menacing Beowulf; and the seer, who prophesized what will occur to her adopted people. We learn how the invasion by brutal men is not a fairy tale, but a disaster doomed to cycle relentlessly through human history. Only the surviving women can sing poignant laments, preserve a glittering culture, and provide hope for the future.

My Thoughts: 
Back in high school I remember reading (or not reading) Beowulf. For me, Beowulf was a struggle and I don't remember grasping the story. The story seemed masculine and with uncouth characters. In 2013, I read Beowulf and fell in love with the epic poem. I love the history behind the story. I love the time period when it was written. I love the characters. I love the themes. I love the dramatic scenes. I love the writing style. 

There are several reasons I have given Grendel's Mother 5 stars for excellent. 
1. The author's knowledge of the subject, and especially her knowledge of medieval history. 
2. Secondary stories of Grendel's father and relatives. Grendel's mother's parents and parentage.  
3. A beautiful love story. 
4. A twist on the story of Beowulf. The author creates, a what might have been, and it is a thought provoking perspective on the characters motives and reactions. 
5. Grendel's Mother is still a masculine story, but it's balanced by several strong female characters. Each of these women are representative of varying personalities and character development. For example, a female servant who has every right to feel bitter. Instead, her strength is in fortitude, wisdom, and sacrificial love. 
6. It is believed Beowulf was passed down in an oral tradition before being written. I read aloud some of Grendel's Mother. I'd read silently through the first page before realizing the writing style had a particular cadence reminding me of poetry. 
7. Grendel's Mother has several examples of song lyrics. These songs give voice to love and life. 
8. Grendel's Mother portrays the story of the everyday life and labor of both the common people and those who lived in the court. From hanging seaweed to dry, to learning herbal lore. From pagan religion, to Christianity. From an apprenticeship, to raiding parties. 

Further links for study:
Britannica    


“What a gift! Grendel’s Mother is sure to become an integral part of every class on Beowulf.” -Candace Robb, author of the Owen Archer Mystery Series and, as Emma Campion, A Triple Knot
“This fascinating narrative is to readers today what John Gardner’s Grendel was to readers of the 1970s.” -Haruko Momma, Professor of English, New York University

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound



Author: 
Susan Signe Morrison writes on topics lurking in the margins of history, ranging from recently uncovered diaries of a teenage girl in World War II to medieval women pilgrims, excrement in the Middle Ages, and waste. Susan Morrison is Professor of English at Texas State University. She grew up in New Jersey by the Great Swamp, a National Wildlife Refuge with terrain not unlike that of Grendel’s Mother’s mere in Beowulf. Committed to bringing the lives of medieval women to a wider audience and making the ethics of waste fundamental to our study of literature, Susan can be found at grendelsmotherthenovel.com, homefrontgirldiary.com, and amedievalwomanscompanion.com and tweets @medievalwomen.
Susan’s BA is from Swarthmore College and her A.M./Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Brown University. She has studied in Germany and taught in the former East Germany. Susan’s publications have appeared in such journals as The Yearbook of Langland Studies, Medievalia et Humanistica, Medieval Feminist Forum, The Chaucer Review, Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, The New York Times, Women In German Yearbook , Journal of Popular Culture,  Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik, as well as numerous book chapters. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, daughter and son.
For more information visit Susan’s website.


Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, March 28
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, March 30
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Thursday, March 31
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Monday, April 4
Interview at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, April 5
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, April 6
Guest Post A Literary Vacation
Thursday, April 7
Review at Impressions In Ink
Sunday, April 10
Review at Sprinkled With Words
Tuesday, April 12
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Thursday, April 14
Review at Seize the Words: Books in Review
Friday, April 15
Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Grendel's Mother

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Book Blast for The Tapestry by Nancy Bilyeau

02_The Tapestry

The Tapestry (Joanna Stafford #3) by Nancy Bilyeau

Paperback Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon and Schuster
Paperback; 416 Pages
Series: Joanna Stafford
Genre: Historical Mystery

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"Fans of the Tudor era, you're in for a treat" --InStyle magazine

Henry VIII's Palace of Whitehall is the last place on earth Joanna Stafford wants to be. But a summons from the king cannot be refused.

After her priory was destroyed, Joanna, a young Dominican novice, vowed to live a quiet life, weaving tapestries and shunning dangerous conspiracies. That all changes when the king takes an interest in her tapestry talent.

With a ruthless monarch tiring of his fourth wife and amoral noblemen driven by hidden agendas, Joanna becomes entangled in court politics. Her close friend, Catherine Howard, is rumored to be the king's mistress, and Joanna is determined to protect her from becoming the king's next wife--and victim. All the while, Joanna tries to understand her feelings for the two men in her life: the constable who tried to save her and the friar she can't forget.

Ina world of royal banquets, jousts, sea voyages and Tower Hill executions, Joanna must finally choose her future: nun or wife, spy or subject, rebel or courtier.

The Tapestry is the final book in a trilogy that began in 2012 with The Crown, an Oprah magazine pick. Don't miss the adventures of one of the most unforgettable heroines in historical fiction.

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Praise:


“In Joanna Stafford, Bilyeau has given us a memorable character who is prepared to risk her life to save what she most values.” (Deborah Harkness)

“Nancy Bilyeau's passion for history infuses her books and transports us back to the dangerous world of Tudor England. Vivid characters and gripping plots are at the heart of this wonderful trilogy, and this third book will not fail to thrill readers. Warmly recommended!” (Alison Weir, author of The Marriage Game: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth I)

"A rip-roaring Tudor adventure from Nancy Bilyeau! Novice nun turned tapestry weaver Joanna Stafford returns to the court of Henry VIII. She's that great rarity of historical fiction: a fiercely independent woman who is still firmly of her time. A mystery as richly woven as any of Joanna's tapestries." (Kate Quinn, author of Lady of the Eternal City)

"The Tapestry takes its history seriously, but that doesn't stop it from being a supremely deft, clever and pacy entertainment. This is Nancy Bilyeau's most thrilling - and enlightening - novel in the Joanna Stafford series yet." (Andrew Pyper, International Thriller Writers Award winner of The Demonologist and The Damned)

"A master of atmosphere, Nancy Bilyeau imbues her novel with the sense of dread and oppression lurking behind the royal glamour; in her descriptions and characterizations . . . Bilyeau breathes life into history." (Laura Andersen, author of The Boleyn King)

"In The Tapestry, Nancy Bilyeau brilliantly captures both the white-hot religious passions and the brutal politics of Tudor England. It is a rare book that does both so well." (Sam Thomas, author of The Midwife’s Tale)

“In spite of murderous plots, volatile kings, and a divided heart, Joanna Stafford manages to stay true to her noble character. Fans of Ken Follett will devour Nancy Bilyeau’s novel of political treachery and courageous love, set amid the endlessly fascinating Tudor landscape.” (Erika Robuck, author of Hemingway’s Girl)

“These aren't your mother's nuns! Nancy Bilyeau has done it again, giving us a compelling and wonderfully realized portrait of Tudor life in all its complexity and wonder. A nun, a tapestry, a page-turning tale of suspense: this is historical mystery at its finest.” (Bruce Holsinger, author of A Burnable Book and The Invention of Fire)

02_Nancy Bilyeau

About the Author:
Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Ladies Home Journal. She is currently the executive editor of DuJour magazine. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her screenplay “Zenobia” placed with the American Zoetrope competition, and “Loving Marys” reached the finalist stage of Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013, and THE TAPESTRY in 2015.

Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Stay in touch with her on Twitter at @tudorscribe. For more information or to sign up for Nancy’s Newsletter please visit her official website.

Book Blast Schedule


Tuesday, March 22
Just One More Chapter
Historical Fiction Addicts
Svetlana's Reads and Views

Wednesday, March 23
Passages to the Past
With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Thursday, March 24
Impressions In Ink
The Life & Times of a Book Addict

Friday, March 25
The Reading Queen
Queen of All She Reads

Saturday, March 26
A Holland Reads

Sunday, March 27
Layered Pages

Monday, March 28
A Book Drunkard
Historical Readings & Reviews

Tuesday, March 29
Book Nerd
Carpe Librum

Wednesday, March 30
The Lit Bitch
Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne

Thursday, March 31
A Book Geek
What Is That Book About

Friday, April 1
CelticLady's Reviews
A Dream within a Dream

Saturday, April 2
So Many Books, So Little Time

Sunday, April 3
Susan Heim on Writing

Monday, April 4
100 Pages a Day
A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, April 5
The Tudor Enthusiast
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Giveaway


Two paperbacks of The Tapestry by Nancy Bilyeau are up for grabs! To enter, please use the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US addresses only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Tapestry Book Blast


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