Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review: "The Boleyn Bride" by Brandy Purdy

Synopsis:  From carefree young woman to disillusioned bride, the dazzling lady who would become mother and grandmother to two of history’s most infamous queens, has a fascinating story all her own…

At sixteen, Elizabeth Howard envisions a glorious life for herself as lady-in-waiting to the future queen, Catherine of Aragon. But when she is forced to marry Thomas Boleyn, a wealthy commoner, Elizabeth is left to stagnate in the countryside while her detested husband pursues his ambitions. There, she raises golden girl Mary, moody George, and ugly duckling Anne–while staving off boredom with a string of admirers. Until Henry VIII takes the throne…

When Thomas finally brings his highborn wife to London, Elizabeth indulges in lavish diversions and dalliances–and catches the lusty king’s eye. But those who enjoy Henry’s fickle favor must also guard against his wrath. For while her husband’s machinations bring Elizabeth and her children to the pinnacle of power, the distance to the scaffold is but a short one–and the Boleyn family’s fortune may be turning.

My Thoughts:  I've read a lot of books about Anne Boleyn and I can't remember one where her mother was ever mentioned so I was very intrigued by the premise of this book.  The Boleyn Wife tells the story of Elizabeth Boleyn, mother to three infamous figures in English history, in her own words.

I'm going to say it, Elizabeth Boleyn was not a likable character in this book.  She was really interesting and had a lot of layers to her personality but she was very difficult to like.  The only time you could see that she had the potential to be a nice person was when she was with Remi.  He was the last person I would expect her to fall in love but he was perfect for her.  During the times they were together, she seemed almost to be a different person as though the only time she could be herself is when she was with him.  Despite being unlikable, I still really enjoyed reading about her.  She was kind of a pawn; her father married her off to Thomas Boleyn for his own advantage and Thomas Boleyn used her and their children to boost his standing at court.  I did feel bad for her because a lot of her bad behavior was the result of her unhappiness with her marriage. 

I really like Brandy Purdy's books and I thought that this was a unique take on the Anne Boleyn story.  As a reader, it was really cool to see such a well-known period in history described from a completely different point of view.  The story is fast moving and kept me interested from start to finish and I really wanted to see how things would turn out for Elizabeth and how she would react to the events leading up to the deaths of Anne and George.  If you have any interest in Tudor England, I would highly recommend this book.  3 stars.

About the Author:

Brandy Purdy (Emily Purdy in the UK) is the author of the historical novels THE CONFESSION OF PIERS GAVESTON, THE BOLEYN WIFE (THE TUDOR WIFE), THE TUDOR THRONE (MARY & ELIZABETH), THE QUEEN’S PLEASURE (A COURT AFFAIR), and THE QUEEN’S RIVALS (THE FALLEN QUEEN). An ardent book lover since early childhood, she first became interested in history at the age of nine or ten years old when she read a book of ghost stories which contained a chapter about Anne Boleyn haunting the Tower of London. Visit her website at, you can also follow her, and her cat Tabby, via her blog at where she posts updates about her work and weekly book reviews.

Check out other stops on the tour here!
Follow the tour on twitter:  #BoleynBrideTour

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts (3)

I'm linking with Bookishly Boisterous' "Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts" again this week.  Check out other posts here!

1.) I recently discovered that my local library's elibrary has gotten a whole lot better than it used to be.  It's still not great but I have found several books from my TBR list that are available to borrow in ebook format.

2.) I am seriously fighting the urge to go on a book buying spree.  Not for budgetary reasons or anything, I just don't think I need to spend money on books right now.  I love my local library and want to get back to using it again.  Why spend money when there are so many books available for free at the library?

3.) I still haven't decided what I want to do with this blog.  I have commitments scheduled for March and April but I think I'm going to leave May wide open.  I am having a hard time deciding because I am also taking a class this semester and it's taking a lot more of my time than I expected.  It's hard to decide if I have time to keep up the blog when I have other commitments to deal with first.

4.) My little Julia cut her first tooth last weekend!  I can't wait until it's all the way up because her little grin is going to be even more adorable with a tooth.

5.) I stayed up way too late last night finishing a book.  I haven't done that in a long time and it was kind of nice to have that time to myself.  I'll pay for it today but that's okay.

6.) The book I was reading was Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.  Man, I don't even know what to say about it.  It completely freaked me out and I haven't decided if I really liked it or just think it was a well-written story.  It's hard to say.

7.) My husband works graveyard shift and so I am on my own with Julia and Turbo in the mornings )(as well as all night long).  Lately, the mornings have not been going as smooth as I would like and I am kind of over it.  I shouldn't complain because it could be a whole lot worse but still.

I hope everyone has a great rest of the week!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Announcing the UK release of "The Chalice" by Nancy Bilyeau!

 The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau is being released in the UK on February 13. You should check it out!  I know I will definitely be picking this one up soon!

The Chalice
by Nancy Bilyeau
Paperback Publication Date: February 13, 2014
Orion Publishing
Paperback; 432p
ISBN-13: 978-1409135807

Series: Joanna Stafford, Book Two
Genre: Historical Mystery

SYNOPSIS:A curse to kill a king, a fight to save a nation. Follow young Joanna Stafford right into the dark heart of King Henry VIII’s court in this stunning Tudor thriller.
England, 1538. The nation is reeling after the ruthless dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII.

Cast out of Dartford Priory, Joanna Stafford – feisty, courageous, but scarred by her recent encounter with rebellion at court – is trying to live a quiet life with her five-year-old charge, Arthur. But family connections draw her dangerously close to a treasonous plot and, repelled by violence and the whispered conspiracies around her, Joanna seeks a life with a man who loves her. But, no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape the spreading darkness of her destiny. She must make a choice between those she cares for most, and taking her part in a mysterious prophecy foretold by three compelling seers.

Joanna embarks upon a testing journey, and, as she deciphers the meaning at the core of the prophecy, she learns that the fate of a king and the freedom of a nation rest in her hands.

Praise for The Chalice

“Expect treason, treachery, martyrs and more.” — Choice magazine

“A time in which no one at all can be trusted and everyday life is laced with horror. Bilyeau paints this picture very, very well.” — Reviewing the Evidence

“Bilyeau creates the atmosphere of 1530s London superbly.” — Catholic Herald

“Bilyeau continues from her first novel the subtle, complex development of Joanna Stafford’s character and combines that with a fast-paced, unexpected plot to hold the reader’s interest on every page. — Historical Novel Society

“Joanna Stafford is a young novice caught up in power struggles familiar to readers of Hilary Mantel and C.J. Sansom, but with elements of magic that echo the historical thrillers of Kate Mosse.” — S.J. Parris, author of ‘Heresy,’ ‘Prophecy’ and ‘Sacrilege’

“Second in this compelling and highly readable Tudor thriller series following the 16th century adventures of (now cast out) nun Joanna Stafford. Treason, conspiracies and a dangerous prophecy draw Joanna back from the quiet life she had made for herself after being cast out of Dartford Priory – but she isn’t prepared for the gravity of the situation she finds herself in or the responsibility she now holds. Nancy Bilyeau has followed up her impressive debut with an accomplished historical thriller perfect for fans of C. J. Sansom, Philippa Gregory and S. J. Parris.” — Lovereading UK

“Sharply observed, cleverly paced and sympathetically written, this book more than fulfils the promise of THE CROWN, itself named as last year’s most impressive debut novel by the CWA Ellis Peters judges. If Joanna Stafford is to return to see out the final years of Henry’s tempestuous reign and the accession of his Catholic daughter Mary, I am sure I will not be alone in waiting eagerly for her.” —

“A stunning debut. One of the best historical novels I have ever read — ALISON WEIR
THE CHALICE offers a fresh, dynamic look into Tudor England’s most powerful, volatile personalities: Henry VIII, the Duke of Norfolk, Stephen Gardiner and Bloody Mary Tudor. Heroine and former nun Joanna Stafford is beautiful, bold and in lethal danger. Bilyeau writes compellingly of people and places that demand your attention and don’t let you go even after the last exciting page” — KAREN HARPER, bestselling author of MISTRESS OF MOURNING

“Rarely have the terrors of Henry VIII’s reformation been so exciting. Court intrigue, bloody executions, and haunting emotional entanglements create a heady brew of mystery and adventure that sweeps us from the devastation of the ransacked cloisters to the dangerous spy centers of London and the Low Countries, as ex-novice Joanna Stafford fights to save her way of life and fulfill an ancient prophecy, before everything she loves is destroyed.” — C.W. GORTNER, author of THE QUEEN’S VOW

“Bilyeau paints a moving portrait of Catholicism during the Reformation and of reclusive, spiritual people adjusting to the world outside the cloister. This intriguing and suspenseful historical novel pairs well with C. J. Sansom’s Dissolution (2003) and has the insightful feminine perspective of Brenda Rickman Vantrease’s The Heretic’s Wife (2010).” — BOOKLIST

“As in The Crown, Bilyeau’s writing style means that the story reads almost flawlessly. The narrative really makes the reader throw themselves into the story, and makes it so the book is really difficult to put down. I was really very impressed with Bilyeau’s writing (As I was in The Crown), and honestly can’t recommend this book highly enough.” — LOYALTY BINDS ME

“THE CHALICE is a compelling and pacey time machine to the 16th Century. And when you’re returned to the present, you’ll have enjoyed an adventure and gained a new perspective on a past you’d wrongly thought to be a done deal.” — Andrew Pyper, author of THE DEMONOLOGIST

“The Chalice is a gripping, tightly-plotted mystery, with a beguiling heroine at its heart, that vividly conjures up the complex dangers of Reformation England. Bilyeau’s deftness of touch and complete control over her complex material make for a truly exciting and compelling read.”— ELIZABETH FREMANTLE author of QUEEN’S GAMBIT

“THE CHALICE is brimming with sinister portents, twisted allegiances, religious superstition and political intrigue. It’s a darkly fascinating Tudor brew that leaves you thirsting for more.” — PATRICIA BRACEWELL, author of SHADOW ON THE CROWN

Watch the Book Trailer:

Buy the Book

Amazon UK
Book Depository
Orion Publishing

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.

Some earlier milestones: In 1661, Nancy’s ancestor, Pierre Billiou, emigrated from France to what was then New Amsterdam when he and his family sailed on the St. Jean de Baptiste to escape persecution for their Protestant beliefs. Pierre built the first stone house on Staten Island and is considered the borough’s founder. His little white house is on the national register of historic homes and is still standing to this day.

Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

Author Links 

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Mini Reviews (5)

I think this is one of the best books I have read in a long time.  I was completely sw
ept away by the characters and the story.  I love how Kearsley's books weave the past and the present together so beautifully.  Kearsley is such a great writer; the setting and characters are always so magical.  The romance was epic and overall this was a fantastic book!  5 stars.

The Firebird is amazing in that it contains characters from both The Winter Sea and The Shadow Horses.  The present characters are from the latter and the past characters are from the former.  It was awesome to find out what happened after The Winter Sea as there was a lot left wide open at the end.  I also loved to getting see Robbie from The Shadowy Horses all grown up.  It is actually because of this book that I wanted to read Kearsley's books.  The fact that it was about Russia appealed to me but I also knew it would make more sense if I read her other books first.  This is a new favorite. 5 stars.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review: "Isabella: Braveheart of France" by Colin Falconer

Isabella is just twelve years old when she marries Edward II of England. For the young princess it is love at first sight - but Edward has a terrible secret that threatens to tear their marriage - and England apart.

Who is Piers Gaveston - and why is his presence in the king’s court about to plunge England into civil war?

The young queen believes in the love songs of the troubadours and her own exalted destiny - but she finds reality very different. As she grows to a woman in the deadly maelstrom of Edward’s court, she must decide between her husband, her children, even her life - and one breath-taking gamble that will change the course of history.

Does she submit to a lifetime of solitude and a spiritual death - or seize her destiny and take the throne of England for herself?

This is the story of Isabella, the only woman ever to invade England - and win.

My Thoughts:  My first encounter with Isabella occurred when I watched the movie 'Braveheart' for the first time.  While her character in the movie is almost entirely fictional, I found myself wanting to know more about her.  Though she has been dubbed 'the she-wolf of France', the depiction of her in Isabella: Braveheart of France is much more sympathetic.

Falconer's Isabella is an impressive figure.  She is incredibly intelligent and much better suited to the role of ruler than her husband.  She was not a meek and obedient wife/queen that would have been the norm back then and she has gone down in history because of it.  While I found her to be a very admirable character, she didn't necessarily have an easy life.  All she ever wanted was to love and be loved and that just seemed to elude her.  Her husband was incapable of loving her and Mortimer saw her only as a conquest.  She seemed so lonely and desperate for love and I couldn't help but feel bad for her.

This book is very short but the story is engaging.  The other characters are very well-developed and interesting and I really enjoyed reading about the political climate in England during this period.  This is a great read if you are interested in medieval England.  3 stars.

About the Author: 

Born in London, Colin first trialed as a professional football player in England, and was eventually brought to Australia. He went to Sydney and worked in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has published over twenty novels and his work has so far been translated into 23 languages.

He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz.

His most recent novels are Silk Road, set in the 13th century, and Stigmata, set against the backdrop of the Albigensian Crusade in Southern France in 1209. He currently lives in Barcelona.

For more information please visit Colin Falconer's blog. You can also find him on Facebook or follow on Twitter.

Check out other stops on the tour here!
Follow the tour on Twitter: #IsabellaTour

Monday, February 3, 2014

January Wrap Up

January was a great month for reading!  I managed to read 6 books and get half way through a seventh.  I know 6 books isn't very much compared to past months but it's pretty good for me considering I'm working, have a baby and am taking a class this semester.  According to, I am two books ahead of schedule in meeting my goal of 50 books read for the year.  Three books were for review and the other three I just read for fun.

Here is what I read this month:

1.) Isabella: Braveheart of France by Colin Falconer
2.) Degrees of Courage by Shari Vester
3.) The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
4.) Haunted by Joy Preble
5.) Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb
6.) Anastasia Forever by Joy Preble

What books did you read this month?  How are you doing with your reading goals?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Mini Reviews (4)

I love this series so much and this book was a great addition to the series.  I loved reading Adrian's point of view and the story in general was just awesome.  Sydney's sister makes an appearance in this book and I am so not a fan of hers.  There is also a crazy cliffhanger ending.  I seriously don't know if I can handle waiting until the next book comes out!  4 stars.

Okay, I'm going to be honest, I have never really been a super fan of these books.  I think these are books I read simply because they were so popular.  I wasn't wowed by Divergent but I did enjoy Insurgent so I decided that I needed to finish the series.  Allegiant was just okay.  I didn't like the ending and the story took turns that kind of surprised me.  Overall, I am just not impressed by the trilogy in general.  3 stars.

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