Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review + Giveaway: The Queen's Dwarf by Ella March Chase

From the Back Cover:

It's 1629, and King Charles I and his French queen Henrietta Maria have reigned in England for less than three years. Young dwarf Jeffrey Hudson is swept away from a village shambles and plunged into the Stuart court when his father sells him to the most hated man in England—the Duke of Buckingham. Buckingham trains Jeffrey to be his spy in the household of Charles’ seventeen-year-old bride, hoping to gain intelligence that will help him undermine the vivacious queen’s influence with the king.

Desperately homesick in a country that hates her for her nationality and Catholic faith, Henrietta Maria surrounds herself with her "Royal Menagerie of Freaks and Curiosities of Nature"—a "collection" consisting of a giant, two other dwarves, a rope dancer, an acrobat/animal trainer and now Jeffrey, who is dubbed "Lord Minimus."

Dropped into this family of misfits, Jeffrey must negotiate a labyrinth of court intrigue and his own increasingly divided loyalties. For not even the plotting of the Duke nor the dangers of a tumultuous kingdom can order the heart of a man. Though he is only eighteen inches tall, Jeffrey Hudson's love will reach far beyond his grasp—to the queen he has been sent to destroy.

My Thoughts:

The moment I saw this book, I wanted to read it. I'm interested in learning more about the English Civil Wars, I'd been keen to read one of Ella March Chase's books, and I'm always on the lookout for something unique in English historical fiction, and if you are too, you should add The Queen's Dwarf to your list. Ms. Chase paints a vivid picture of life at court from an unusual and refreshing angle, that of an entertainer, and not just any entertainer, but one of the wonders of England at the time, Jeffrey Hudson, or as he was commonly known, Lord Minimus, a perfectly formed human in miniature.

Friday, April 18, 2014

France Book Tours Anniversary Giveaway!

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

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Book Blast! 1066: What Fates Impose by G.K. Holloway

I'm excited to participate in a book blast for debut author G.K. Holloway as he tours the blogosphere for his historical fiction novel, 1066: What Fates Impose, from April 14 - May 2 with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. Read on for more info about the book, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win!

Publication Date: March 4, 2013
Matador Publishing

King William then utters the following words to the room: "I appoint no one as my heir to the Crown of England, but leave it to the disposal of the Eternal Creator, whose I am and who orders all things. For I did not attain that high honour by hereditary right, but wrested it from the perjured King Harold in a desperate bloody battle."

England is in crisis. King Edward has no heir and promises never to produce one. There are no obvious successors available to replace him, but quite a few claimants are eager to take the crown. While power struggles break out between the various factions at court, enemies abroad plot to make England their own. There are raids across the borders with Wales and Scotland.

Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, is seen by many as the one man who can bring stability to the kingdom. He has powerful friends and two women who love him, but he has enemies will stop at nothing to gain power. As 1066 begins, England heads for an uncertain future. It seems even the heavens are against Harold.

Intelligent and courageous, can Harold forge his own destiny – or does he have to bow to what fates impose?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blog Tour Review: The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien

From the Back Cover:

As a clever girl in stodgy, mercantile Baltimore, Betsy Patterson dreams of a marriage that will transport her to cultured Europe. When she falls in love with and marries Jerome Bonaparte, she believes her dream has come true—until Jerome’s older brother Napoleon becomes an implacable enemy. 

Based on a true story, The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte is a historical novel that portrays this woman’s tumultuous life. Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, known to history as Betsy Bonaparte, scandalized Washington with her daring French fashions; visited Niagara Falls when it was an unsettled wilderness; survived a shipwreck and run-ins with British and French warships; dined with presidents and danced with dukes; and lived through the 1814 Battle of Baltimore. Yet through it all, Betsy never lost sight of her primary goal—to win recognition of her marriage.

My Thoughts:

I wanted to read this novel the moment I saw it. I'm a sucker for American historical fiction, and I had no idea Napoleon's baby brother had spent time in the states and had even married an American girl, Betsy Patterson, "the Belle of Baltimore." The story follows Betsy from her childhood in the large family of a wealthy Baltimore shipping merchant to her meeting and whirlwind courtship with French naval officer Jerome Bonaparte, her father's futile attempts to thwart their marriage, and their adventurous honeymoon trip, and then through the fight of her life as she and her young husband, who wed without his family's permission, become subject to the ire of the Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, who refuses to recognize the validity of their marriage and makes them pawns in his war with England and the rest of Europe.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Blog Tour Interview + Giveaway with Ruth Hull Chatlien, Author of The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte

Please join me in welcoming author Ruth Hull Chatlien to Let Them Read Books! Ruth is touring the blogosphere with her debut historical fiction novel, The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte, the story of American Betsy Patterson and her marriage to Napoleon's youngest brother, Jerome. (It's very good! Click here to read my review!) I recently got the chance to sit down and ask Ruth a few questions about Betsy. Read on and enter to win a copy of The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte!

Hello Ruth! Thank you for taking the time to appear on Let Them Read Books!

When did you first encounter Betsy Patterson Bonaparte, and what inspired you to write a novel about her?

My husband and I were great fans of the Horatio Hornblower television series that was shown on A&E in the late 1990s. Then in the 2000s, we discovered an additional four episodes that we had never seen because they were produced much later. The last of those featured Jerome and Betsy Bonaparte. Despite my familiarity with world history (I’ve worked on history textbooks for 25 years), I didn’t know that Napoleon’s brother had married an American. When I looked up the facts on the Internet, I discovered that Betsy’s real life was far more interesting than the snippet shown (and distorted) in the television show.

One of things I wanted to do with the book was to portray Betsy in all her complexity. She’s someone who’s easy to dismiss as a stereotype. Older interpretations of her life focused on the romance and the injustice of Napoleon’s opposition to her marriage, while some modern historians disparage her because of her vanity, ambition, and obsession with rank. I think either interpretation is too simplistic. I wanted to create a more nuanced portrayal that showed both her flaws and her strengths, the qualities that make people want to shake her and the qualities that make people want to give her a hug. Even when I disagreed with her choices, I felt that it was my task to show why she made the decisions she did and how they grew out of her own values and goals, not mine as the writer.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review + Giveaway: The Red Lily Crown by Elizabeth Loupas

From the Back Cover:

April, 1574, Florence, Italy. Grand Duke Cosimo de’ Medici lies dying. The city is paralyzed with dread, for the next man to wear the red lily crown will be Prince Francesco: despotic, dangerous, and obsessed with alchemy.

Chiara Nerini, the troubled daughter of an anti-Medici bookseller, sets out to save her starving family by selling her dead father’s rare alchemical equipment to the prince. Instead she is trapped in his household—imprisoned and forcibly initiated as a virgin acolyte in Francesco’s quest for power and immortality. Undaunted, she seizes her chance to pursue undreamed-of power of her own.

Witness to sensuous intrigues and brutal murder plots, Chiara seeks a safe path through the labyrinth of Medici tyranny and deception. Beside her walks the prince’s mysterious English alchemist Ruanno, her friend and teacher, driven by his own dark goals. Can Chiara trust him to keep her secrets…even to love her…or will he prove to be her most treacherous enemy of all?

My Thoughts:

Another winner from Elizabeth Loupas! The Red Lily Crown is an exciting and dangerous novel of Florence under Francesco de Medici's rule, and if you're not familiar with Francesco and his family, prepare to be shocked! Our story begins when Chiara Nerini, a young woman desperate to feed her starving family, attempts to sell her late father's alchemical equipment to Francesco de Medici, the regent and soon-to-be Grand Duke of Florence. Chiara ends up helping her family survive, but not in the way she imagined. She is given a position in Francesco's court as his soror mystica, a feminine counterpart to himself and his assistant, Englishman Ruan dell'Inghilterra, in his ultimate quest to create the mythical Philosopher's Stone.

Motivated by her own reasons for seeking to harness the power of the famed stone, she embarks on a path of alchemical education and enlightenment, pampered for the first time in her life and privy to some of the inner secrets of the court. But she quickly learns that Francesco's favor never comes without a price, and as his quest for power grows and his wrath turns on those she cares about, Chiara soon finds herself trapped in his court, fighting for her own life, attempting to stay one step ahead of a madman while vowing vengeance for those he betrayed. She is eventually aided in this effort by Ruan, who has his own reasons for hating Francesco, but in a court full of deception and betrayal, considering his dark background and even darker secrets, she'll have to decide if she can afford to trust him with her own secrets, with her heart . . . and with her very life.