Monday, April 21, 2014

Claude de Vindes OEillets
Claude de Vindes OEillets (1635-1687). Claudette, or Claude is the heroine in the book The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland.

[Review] The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland
Title: The Shadow Queen
Author: Sandra Gulland
Publisher: Doubleday April 8, 2014
ISBN: 978-0385537520
Genre: Historical Fiction, France, 1600s, King Louis XIV, Sun King
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336
Rating: 5 Stars for Excellent. 
Source: Free advanced reader copy from France Book Tours, Doubleday, in exchange for a review. 

Link for book at Publisher: The Shadow Queen. 

Link at Amazon: The Shadow Queen. 
Hardcover $16.73 and Kindle $10.99


From the author of the beloved Josephine B. Trilogy, comes a spellbinding novel inspired by the true story of a young woman who rises from poverty to become confidante to the most powerful, provocative and dangerous woman in the 17th century French court: the mistress of the charismatic Sun King.
1660, Paris
Claudette’s life is like an ever-revolving stage set.  From an impoverished childhood wandering the French countryside with her family’s acting troupe, Claudette finally witnesses her mother’s astonishing rise to stardom in Parisian theaters. Working with playwrights Corneille, Molière and Racine, Claudette’s life is culturally rich, but like all in the theatrical world at the time, she’s socially scorned.
A series of chance encounters pull Claudette into the alluring orbit of Athénaïs de Montespan, mistress to Louis XIV and reigning “Shadow Queen.” Needing someone to safeguard her secrets, Athénaïs offers to hire Claudette as her personal attendant.
Enticed by the promise of riches and respectability, Claudette leaves the world of the theater only to find that court is very much like a stage, with outward shows of loyalty masking more devious intentions. This parallel is not lost on Athénaïs, who fears political enemies are plotting her ruin as young courtesans angle to take the coveted spot in the king’s bed.
Indeed, Claudette’s “reputable” new position is marked by spying, illicit trysts and titanic power struggles. As Athénaïs, becomes ever more desperate to hold onto the King’s favor, innocent love charms move into the realm of deadly Black Magic, and Claudette is forced to consider a move that will put her own life—and the family she loves so dearly—at risk.
Set against the gilded opulence of a newly-constructed Versailles and the blood-stained fields of the Franco-Dutch war, THE SHADOW QUEEN is a seductive, gripping novel about the lure of wealth, the illusion of power, and the increasingly uneasy relationship between two strong-willed women whose actions could shape the future of France. [provided by the author]
My Thoughts:
There are several reasons why I gave The Shadow Queen 5 stars for excellent. 
1. The main character Claudette, or Claude (which is the name she is referred to most often) is an admirable heroine. I found her to be intelligent and witty, imperfect and easy to relate to, she is a person who I could be friends with, a person most people would trust and feel at ease with. She has faithful devotion to family and close friends. Claude has dreams and aspirations; however, she is faithful to fulfill commitments to those in her care. 
2. Claude and her family are actors. It is intriguing to learn about this type of life during the 1600s. I didn't have a clue as to how difficult it was to earn a living, how the Catholic church viewed them, and theater life in general. My interest is peeked, and I'll be looking for more books on the life of a performer in theater.
3. Paris in the mid to late 1600s. The Shadow Queen, is an eye-opening description of the poverty in Paris. The descriptions of housing, streets, and Paris in general, gave me a well-rounded view. Although, the wealthy lived quite differently in lush and splendor. 
4.  Claude's brother is a dwarf. The prejudice, fear, and abuse, he suffered brought me to tears. I felt the love and tenderness Claude had for her brother. 
5. Claude became apart of the royal court, she is a maid to the mistress of the Sun King. The two women are strong-willed. Claude being the level-headed one. I was drawn to the similar, yet different personalities in the two women. I was moved and perplexed by the faithful devotion of Claude. 
6. Black Arts are brought forth in The Shadow Queen, it is a historical reality of the these women. People utilize magic potions to achieve control over another. I found it to be pitiable, not fearful.   
Sandra Gulland is the author of the Josephine B. Trilogy, internationally best-selling novels about Josephine Bonaparte which have been published in over seventeen countries. Her forth novel, Mistress of the Sun, set in the 17th-century court of the Sun King, was also a bestseller and published internationally.
Her most recent novel is The Shadow Queen, also set in theera of the Sun King, published in April of 2014 by HarperCollins in Canada and Doubleday in the U.S. 
See more on her website:
Sign-up for her author newsletter:
Follow her on Facebook  | Twitter  |  Pinterest  | GoodReads


Monday, April 21
Review at Impressions in Ink
Tuesday, April 22
Review + Giveaway at Turning The Pages
Wednesday, April 23
Review + Giveaway at The Avid Reader
Thursday, April 24
Review + Giveaway at Just One More Chapter
Friday, April 25
Review at Jorie Loves A Story
Saturday, April 26
Review + Giveaway at Words And Peace
Sunday, April 27
Review + Giveaway at Vvb32 Reads
Monday, April 28
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at The Most Happy Reader
Tuesday, April 29
Review + Giveaway at Doing Dewey
Wednesday, April 30
Interview at Jorie Loves A Story
Thursday, May 1
Review + Guest-post + Giveaway
at Books A to Z
Friday, May 2
Review + Giveaway at Book Nerd
Sunday, May 4
Guest-post + Giveaway at Historical Tapestry
Monday, May 5
Review + Giveaway at Just Reviews
Tuesday, May 6
Review + Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, May 7
Review + Giveaway at Library of Clean Reads
Thursday, May 8
Review + Giveaway at
Musings of a Writer and Unabashed Francophile
Friday, May 9
Review + Giveaway at Literary Chanteuse
Saturday, May 10
Review + Giveaway at Griperang’s Bookmarks


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

France Book Tours First Anniversary Celebration

France Book Tours Banner 1st anniversary

France Book Tours is celebrating

its first anniversary
on April 18!

France Book Tours has been thrilled to present amazing books related to France for a year.
To thank the authors who submitted their books and the bloggers who read and reviewed them, France Book Tours organizes a mega giveaway from April 18-25!
Depending on the number of entries in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this page, they may give away up to 10 books, so spread the word!
The winners will be chosen on April 26.

Here are all the books available to win! Click on each cover to know more about it.

Please note what format the book is available in.
Note also that some books are only available for US/Canada residents.
If nothing is specified, it means you can receive the ebook or the print copy where ever you live.

Historical fiction

Spirit of Lost Angels Wolfsangel_CoverFinal Becoming Josephine

Spirit of Angels = print + ecopy
Wolfsangel = print + ecopy
Becoming Josephine = print for US/Canada only
Unravelled Ambitious Madame Bonap

Unravelled = print
The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte = print for US/Canada only


The Paris Lawyer The Mona Lisa Speaks

The Paris Lawyer = print for US/Canada only + ecopy
The Mona Lisa Speaks = print for US/Canada only + ecopy


I see London cover Paris Rue des Martyrs - cover final

I See London I See France = print for US/Canada only
Paris, Rue Des Martyrs = ecopy


The Paris Game Moonlight & LoveSongs City of Jasmine

The Paris Game = ebook
Moonlight & Love Songs = ebook
City of Jasmine = signed print copy for US/Canada only
Promise of Provence
The Promise of Provence = ecopy

Nonfiction - memoir

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl - cover
Confessions of a Paris Party Girl = ecopy



April 23 at 5pm Central Time


Spread the word!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon April 26, 2014

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon is scheduled for Saturday, April 26. For more information the link is
@ Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon.
This is my 7th year in blogging and reviewing, but this is the first time to participate in a read-a-thon.
I doubt I'll stay up the entire 24 hours, but I do plan to pace myself during the event in order to read as many books as possible.
During the event, which for my time zone begins at 0700 April 26, I will read and post about how the read-a-thon is going for me. I'll also visit other bloggers who are taking part in this challenge.
The link at the end of this paragraph will take you to the history of how the read-a-thon began. A reader and blogger named Dewey, the author of a blog entitled The Hidden Side of the Leaf (no longer valid), began the read-a-thon in 2007. Link for more information: History of read-a-thon. 
               Join us!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

[Review] In Bed With The Tudors: The Sex lives of a dynasty from Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I by Amy Licence

Title: In Bed With The Tudors: The sex lives of a dynasty from Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I
Author: Amy Licence
Publisher: Amberley March 2014
Genre: 1400s, 1500s, England, Tudor History, House of Tudor, Kings and Queens of England
Format: Paperback
Pages: 256, with 35 illustrations
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Free copy from Amberley for the purpose of review.

Link @ Amazon: In Bed With The Tudors. Paperback $13.05. Kindle $9.99.

Link @ Amberley for more information: In Bed With The Tudors.

Henry VII
Henry VIII
Beginning with Elizabeth of York and Arthur's birth, through to Henry VIII's wives and mistresses, and ending with Mary and Elizabeth. Amy Licence has written a fresh, candid, and intriguing view, of the private nature of the Tudor family.
In Bed With The Tudors, is not a study of the sexual habits of the Tudor family; instead, it is a study of their: pregnancies, midwifery, infant care, diseases, infertility, post delivery customs, conception beliefs, religious practices, birthing, superstitions, miscarriages, myths, and illegitimacy.

My Thoughts:
There are several reasons why I gave this splendid book 5 Stars for excellent.
1. Licence's knowledge of the Tudor era. Throughout the book I was fascinated by the depth of information on aspects of culture and society.
Some examples:
A. I was not aware of the superstitions pertaining to how conception occurs. "The female body, considered to be a poor shadow or imperfectly formed version of its male counterpart, could only conceive if orgasm took place, during which a female 'seed' was emitted to mix with that of the male" Page 25-26.
B. The birth "cord" was thought to have "magical qualities of protection." Page 49.
C. Prayers to the saints during the labor process.
2.  I was given strong insight into the lives of Elizabeth of York and Catherine of Aragon. Both of these women spent much of their marriages pregnant. As soon as a baby was born, the next pregnancy was soon in process.
3. "Double standard" of how men sought and had affairs, but their wives were to remain bedded to them. During the time when a woman was pregnant, the sexual act was not performed between husband and wife, thus the husband sought a willing female to take care of his business.
4. The possibility of Henry VIII's children born to his mistresses. Licence shows pros and cons to this theory.
5. Jane Seymour, the wife who gave Henry an heir. Jane has been a mystery to me thus far. I've read a small amount of information on her, the emphasis being on the baby boy she brought forth from her womb. In Bed With The Tudors, has given me a new look at Henry's wife number three.
6. Mary Queen of Scots is included in the book. She is one of my favorite historical figures. I never tire of reading about her.
Edward VI