Thursday, October 30, 2014

(Review) Juliet's Nurse by Lois Leveen, Plus a Giveaway

Publisher: Simon and Schuster/Atria/Emily Bestler Books, September 23, 2014.
Genre: Historical fiction, Verona, Italy, Romeo and Juliet.
Format: Hardcover.
Pages: 416.
Rating: 5 Stars for excellent.
Source: Free copy from Italy Book Tours and Emily Bestler Books in exchange for a review.

1360, Verona, Italy.
Angelica and Pietro have been married thirty years. Their last child, born in mid-life, is a precious daughter they name Susanna. Susanna's life ends before it begins. Angelica is summoned to be a wet-nurse to another new born precious baby girl. The baby's name is Juliet Cappelletti. Angelica misses her beloved Pietro, but the bond with Juliet is strong.
The story begins in 1360 and ends in 1375.
Angelica is the voice/narrator of the story.
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy/play written by William Shakespeare. The following link will give the ability to read the tragedy in its entirety: Romeo and Juliet. 
The tragedy was written in possibly 1591 to 1597. It was published in quarto in 1597. The story is based on an old Italian love story/tragic tale.

My Thoughts:
I'm moved emotionally by the quattro love story. The tragedy/love story between Romeo and Juliet is the back story-important, but the focus of the story is Angelica, the nurse of Juliet.
The three additional love stories are Angelica and Pietro, Angelica and Juliet, Angelica and Tybalt.
Angelica is a common denominator in each of the relationships.
In my mind, I picture Angelica as a voluptuous, passionate, affectionate, wise, open-large-hearted woman. She has experienced multiple tragedies in her life. But the tragedies did not dry her heart preventing her from loving again. She is an admirable character. She is beyond the perfection of motherhood, she is like a dream.
Pietro is the masculine image of Angelica. They are a beautiful match.
It's interesting to me that in Juliet's Nurse, Romeo only has a few words. He is a stranger, an impostor. Angelica is the mother bear defending her baby Juliet against a wolf named Romeo.
I love this story and have enjoyed reminiscing over it.

Lois Leveen is the author of The Secrets of Mary Bowser. I will be reviewing this book in early November.

Author Lois Leveen is an award winning historian, author, and former college professor. She holds degrees in history and literature from Harvard, UCLA, and USC. She traveled to Verona, Italy, to research Juliet's Nurse, as well as apprenticing herself to an urban beekeeping group in her adopted hometown of Portland, Oregon, to write accurately about the life cycle of hives. Lois has given talks in Finland, France, and throughout the US about the historical research behind Juliet's Nurse, and about how she approached challenging themes of teen violence, suicide, and plague epidemics in adapting Shakespeare for contemporary readers. Her first novel, The Secrets of Mary Bowser based on the true story of an African American woman who spied for the Union during the Civil War by posing as a slave in the Confederate White House, was a 2012 Target Book Club pick and is currently being adapted into a Broadway musical.
Contact information: 
Twitter @LoisLeveen

Links for the Tour Schedule and Giveaway

Oct 20 - Studentessa Matta - review / giveaway
Oct 21 - Unabridged Chick - review / giveaway
Oct 22 - Savings in Seconds - review / interview
Oct 23 - My Devotional Thoughts -  interview / giveaway
Oct 24 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
Oct 28 - Unabridged Chick -  interview
Oct 29 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review / interview
Oct 29 - View from the Birdhouse - review / giveaway
Oct 30 - Impressions in Ink - review
Oct 31 - Words and Peace - review / interview / giveaway
Oct 31 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
Oct 31 - Like a Bump on a Blog - review / guest post

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

(Review) Tristan and Iseult: A Story of Promise The Legend of Love by J.D. Smith

Publisher: Quinn Publications, January 21, 2014.
Genre: Myth, medieval story, romance.
Format: ebook.
Pages: 220.
Rating: 4 stars for very good.
Source: purchased item.

Available as an ebook at Amazon. 

Further links on the mythical story:
Myths Encylopedia
Timeless Myths (includes the original full-length tale).
The story at Project Gutenberg.

Tristan and Iseult: A Story of Promise The Legend of Love is a twist on the traditional tale. Tristan is a young battle hardened man. He defends Briton from the Saxon invaders and an Irish tyrant named Morholt. Tristan's king and uncle is Mark. Mark is the king of Kernow. Beautiful Iseult from Ireland regards Morholt with fear and disdain; nevertheless, she must obey Morholt. They travel to Briton and a skirmish erupts changing the course of lives.

My Thoughts:
I loved the story and read it in one day. It is a romantic story that rustles with passion just below the surface. The characters of Tristan and Iseult are lovers before they display physical affection. I felt their love for one another was genuine. They wanted what was best for each other. There was not a hint of selfishness.
I felt a strong investment in the story from the first page. Iseult needed help. Tristan is the knight in shining armor. Iseult is beautiful and feminine. Tristan is handsome and masculine. Their characters compliment one another.
I disliked the twenty year break in the story followed by a brief end. Since most readers are familiar with the story of Tristan and Iseult we are aware of the ending. I needed (would have liked) an ending that spoke of a continuing love. It just felt as if something was missing at the end.
In the story a "castle" is referred to. I thought castles were introduced in England by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. The story of Tristan and Iseult, and because Tristan is fighting the Saxon invaders, must have a time period of 5th or 6th century. A castle means "fortified place." It could be the author is using the word more for the meaning itself, than my nit-picking about the word castle by historical definition.
Over-all the story is a wonderful romantic tale to take away the chill of autumn. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

(Review) England, Arise: The People, the King and the Great Revolt of 1381 by Juliet Barker

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group, October 27, 2014.
Genre: Non-fiction, British History, British History Reading Challenge 2014, Peasant's Revolt.
Format: Hardcover.
Pages: 384.
Rating: 5 Stars for excellent.
Source: Free copy from Little, Brown Book Group in exchange for a review.

The book is available at Amazon. 

Link to read an excerpt from the book: England, Arise. 

Contact links for Juliet Barker:

Further links to read on the history of the Peasant's Revolt:
The History Learning Site
Britannia History
BBC Radio 4

King Edward III of England died June 21, 1377. His heir had been Edward the Black Prince. The Black Prince died in 1376. Edward's heir became his grandson the future Richard II. At Richard's coronation he was age ten. While Richard was a boy-king, he had a council of thirteen to "assist" him in ruling. A truce between England and France ended. A war with France required money. Taxes were a way to create money for wars. The first poll-tax began in 1377, followed by a second and third. At the third poll-tax a revolt began. Richard II was age fourteen in 1381, the year of the third poll-tax and revolt. His uncle John of Gaunt was a wealthy nobleman. His estates created a large revenue. John of Gaunt would be deeply affected by the revolt during the summer of 1381.
Juliet Barker's subject is the revolt, which had been titled during the "nineteenth-century" as the "Peasant's Revolt." Barker explains,
As with so many neat and enduring labels, including the Black Death, this was a name bestowed by nineteenth-century historians who equated the chroniclers' description of the revels as rustici, meaning rural or country people, with peasants and serfs in particular. The problem with this term is that it is no longer simply a description of agricultural labourers of subsistence farmers, but has acquired a politically charged meaning which elevates the universalities of dogma above the differences of the particular...In other words, the 'Peasant's Revolt' was an unavoidable result of the age-old class struggle.
My Thoughts:
Juliet Barker has taken the theme of a revolt because of taxes, and expounded to further reveal a history of the medieval era of England. Several historical areas of interest are explored: the Black Plague, Church wealth, literacy and education, the new middle-class, and landlords versus tenants.
England, Arise has given me a deeper view of medieval life than I expected. I had hoped to explore the Great Revolt of 1381 and understand the early part of Richard II's reign. It has been a pleasant surprise to examine the lifestyle, and attitudes and actions of the people.
John of Gaunt is not seen in a favorable light in the book. I think because I'd read the historical fiction book Katherine by Anya Seton, I had seen a romantic version of his persona.
Two important aspects of the revolt is Richard II's response and the defiant men who were in charge of the uprisings. I feel these aspects were examined and without bias.
The final chapters of the book explore Richard II and the "aftermath" (legacy) of the Great Revolt. These chapters are my favorite in the book. To look back on this period of history and see how it has affected generations of people, as well as uprisings and rebellions in other countries was very interesting. 

(Review) The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise by an Anonymous Translator

The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise were written in about 1128 or 1132. They were published in Paris 1616. I found three links to read the letters, the ebook may be purchased at Amazon for $1.50. The print length is 384 pages.
Link for online source of letters: The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise.
Link for ebook at Amazon: The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise. 
Link from Gutenberg: The Letters of Abelard and Heloise.
Link for resource information from Sherry Jones, author of The Sharp Hook of Love. 

While reading the love letters I came to understand the couple's reflections on their affair. Abelard and Heloise are older, in a different stage in their life, and they are able to reflect. Powerful feelings that once swept them away are replaced with intense nostalgia, reflection, and guilt. I cannot help but feel sorry for their plight. It is bittersweet.
The letters are tender, evocative, and haunting.
The appendix holds a poem written by Alexander Pope in 1717.
An additional link:
Abelard and Heloise 

Friday, October 24, 2014

(Review and Giveaway) The Sharp Hook of Love by Sherry Jones

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon and Schuster, October 7, 2014.
Genre: Historical Fiction, biographical, literary fiction.
Format: Advanced Reader Copy. Paperback.
ISBN: 978-1451684797
Pages: 384.
Rating: 5 Stars for excellent.
Source: Free copy from Simon and Schuster and France Book Tours in exchange for a review.
France Book Tours is managed by Emma at Words and Peace.

SHERRY JONES is also the author of Four Sisters, All Queens;
The Sword of Medina;
and her controversial, internationally bestselling debut, The Jewel of Medina.
She lives in Spokane, Washington.
Visit her website. Follow her on FacebookTwitter , Google +Pinterest, and Linked In
Subscribe to her newsletter.  Send her an email: sherry [at] authorsherryjones [dott com
Buy the book:  S&S  |  Amazon  |  B&N  |  BAM  | IndieBound  | Kindle   | iBookstore  | Nook

The giveaway link is located here @ The Sharp Hook of Love. 
It’s open internationally
We will have 10 winners: 
print or digital copy for US/Canada,
digital copy for overseas

“To forbid the fruit only sweetens its flavor”
Among the young women of 12th century Paris, Heloise d’Argenteuil stands apart. Extraordinarily educated and quick-witted, she is being groomed by her uncle to become an abbess in the service of God.
But with one encounter, her destiny changes forever. Pierre Abelard, headmaster at the NĂ´tre Dame Cloister School, is acclaimed as one of the greatest philosophers in France. His controversial reputation only adds to his allure, yet despite the legions of women swooning over his poetry and dashing looks, he is captivated by the brilliant Heloise alone. As their relationship blossoms from a meeting of the minds to a forbidden love affair, both Heloise and Abelard must choose between love, duty, and ambition.
Sherry Jones weaves the lovers’ own words into an evocative account of desire and sacrifice. As intimate as it is erotic, as devastating as it is beautiful, The Sharp Hook of Love is a poignant, tender tribute to one of history’s greatest romances, and to love’s power to transform and endure. [provided by the author]

My Thoughts:
Young, Sweet, beautiful, intelligent, and naive Heloise, looses all common sense and becomes involved with an older experienced man named Pierre Abelard. I was not surprised at her attraction to Abelard. Heloise seeks affection and love. Heloise had been raised in a bleak monastery and is to become an abbess. Heloise is intellectual minded. But she is not wise to the world. There were moments in the story when I became exasperated with Heloise. I did not want her to become involved in a relationship that seemed unwise, yet she followed her heart.
While reading the story I had to place my age and logic on the back burner so to speak. I had to remember what it was like to be fully engulfed in passion. The Sharp Hook of Love is a story with the same resonance of Romeo and Juliet. I felt compassion for Abelard and Heloise, yet I had a nagging sense of fear for them.
I felt glued to the story, even though I felt troubled, I had to know what the future held for Abelard and Heloise.
The prose is evocative and dramatic.
The beauty of the story is in the closure. I had teary eyes as I read the last few pages.
The Sharp Hook of Love is an emotional read. It is a memorizing read. It is a haunting and memorable read.

Favorite quotes:
"The moon shone full and fertile." Page 124.
"A valuable jewel must be jealously guarded. She who makes herself a ewe will be eaten by the wolf." Page 36.
"The lofty thoughts which used to flood my mind and spill onto the wax will not come to me now. Instead, desire consumes me, and the pleasures of the flesh." Page 170.


Tuesday, October 7
Review at Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, October 8
Review + Giveaway at The Avid Reader
Spotlight + Giveaway at Caroline Wilson Writes
Thursday, October 9
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at Unshelfish
Friday, October 10
Review + Giveaway at Just One More Chapter
Saturday, October 11
Guest-Post + Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads
Sunday, October 12
Review + Giveaway at An Accidental Blog
Thursday, October 16
Review + Giveaway at Vvb32 Reads
Friday, October 17
Review + Giveaway at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Saturday, October 18
Review + Giveaway at The Book Binder’s Daughter
Monday, October 20
Review + Giveaway at
Interview at
Wednesday, October 22
Review + Giveaway at Words And Peace
Thursday, October 23
Review + Giveaway at Book Nerd
Friday, October 24
Review + Giveaway at Impressions In Ink
Sunday, October 26
Review + Giveaway at Indiereadergirl0329