I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles

I, Elizabeth: A Novel

Title: I, Elizabeth
Author: Rosalind Miles
Published: March 2003
Pages: 656
ISBN: 9780609809105
Source: Personal Copy

Description: Publicly declared a bastard at the age of three, daughter of a disgraced and executed mother, last in the line of succession to the throne of England, Elizabeth I inherited an England ravaged by bloody religious conflict, at war with Spain and France, and badly in debt. When she died in 1603, after a forty-five- year reign, her empire spanned two continents and was united under one church, victorious in war, and blessed with an overflowing treasury. What’s more, her favorites—William Shakespeare, Sir Francis Drake, and Sir Walter Raleigh—had made the Elizabethan era a cultural Golden Age still remembered today.
But for Elizabeth the woman, tragedy went hand in hand with triumph. Politics and scandal forced the passionate queen to reject her true love, Robert Dudley, and to execute his stepson, her much-adored Lord Essex. Now in this spellbinding novel, Rosalind Miles brings to life the woman behind the myth. By turns imperious, brilliant, calculating, vain, and witty, this is the Elizabeth the world never knew. From the days of her brutal father, Henry VIII, to her final dying moments, Elizabeth tells her story in her own words.

I Give This Book 3.5 Stars!

 I picked this book up because Queen Elizabeth I fascinates me.  I’ve read many different historical fictions about her.  I really liked the first part of the book.  Most things I’ve read start were her half-sister Queen Mary has her in the Tower of London.  So, I haven’t read much concerning her childhood and when her father was still alive (at least were she was the focus of the story anyway).   I felt that reading about that time period helped me better understand some of her actions as an adult.  I also liked reading about her relationship with her half-brother, Edward.  But, sadly the later part of the story started to really drag down.  I found myself skimming parts.  But, I don’t blame it on the book really.  As stated above, I’ve read a lot about her.  This book really just did not have anything new to add.  It focused on the facts and more on Elizabeth the Queen, not Elizabeth the person.    So, if you haven’t already read some historical fiction about Queen Elizabeth, you might like this one.   But, if you already have a lot of information concerning Queen Elizabeth I, you might want to find something else.

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Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 7:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette

Title: The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette
Author: Carolly Erickson
Published: August 2006
Pages: 368
ISBN: 9780312361501
Source: personal copy

Description: Imagine that, on the night before she is to die under the blade of the guillotine, Marie Antoinette leaves behind in her prison cell a diary telling the story of her life—from her privileged childhood as Austrian Archduchess to her years as glamorous mistress of Versailles to the heartbreak of imprisonment and humiliation during the French Revolution.   Carolly Erickson takes the reader deep into the psyche of France’s doomed queen: her love affair with handsome Swedish diplomat Count Axel Fersen, who risked his life to save her; her fears on the terrifying night the Parisian mob broke into her palace bedroom intent on murdering her and her family; her harrowing attempted flight from France in disguise; her recapture and the grim months of harsh captivity; her agony when her beloved husband was guillotined and her young son was torn from her arms, never to be seen again.  Erickson brilliantly captures the queen’s voice, her hopes, her dreads, and her suffering. We follow, mesmerized, as she reveals every detail of her remarkable, eventful life—from her teenage years when she began keeping a diary to her final days when she awaited her own bloody appointment with the guillotine.

I Give This Book 3 Stars!

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much about Marie Antoinette.   And, what I do know probably comes from the movies.  She usually isn’t portrayed very kindly there.  I had built this image of a young women who liked parties, clothes, and basic extravagance.  This book took an extreme opposite view.  It touched on the rumors surrounding the Queen, but I never got a good feel for how the Queen felt about this.  The book seems to down play all of that, when in fact that malicious gossip eventually made the people of France hate her.  She had to have realized that but she seems really detached from her people and her country.  I’m sure the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  Although, I’m sure we will never know the whole truth surrounding all the gossip. 

I did really enjoy the format of the book.  The diary entries made it seem like more of a possibility that this was who the Queen really was.  I learned a few things I did not know.  Plus, it made me want to read more historical fiction about Marie Antoinette.  Some seem to complain about some characters being made up, but I able to take that in because I know it is historical fiction.  I know that not everything is fact.  Overall, and interesting read, but I feel it’s steeped more in fiction than in fact. 

Splendor (Luxe, #4) by Anna Godbersen

Splendor (Luxe, #4)

Title: Splendor
Author: Anna Godbersen
Published: November 2009
Pages: 391
ISBN: 9780061626319
Source: Library

Description: As spring turns into summer, Elizabeth relishes her new role as a young wife, while her sister, Diana, searches for adventure abroad. But when a surprising clue about their father’s death comes to light, the Holland girls wonder at what cost a life of splendor comes.
Carolina Broad, society’s newest darling, fans a flame from her past, oblivious to how it might burn her future. Penelope Schoonmaker is finally Manhattan royalty—but when a real prince visits the city, she covets a title that comes with a crown. Her husband, Henry, bravely went to war, only to discover that his father’s rule extends well beyond New York’s shores and that fighting for love may prove a losing battle.
In the dramatic conclusion to the bestselling Luxe series, New York’s most dazzling socialites chase dreams, cling to promises, and tempt fate. As society watches what will become of the city’s oldest families and newest fortunes, one question remains: Will its stars fade away or will they shine ever brighter?

I Give This Book 4.5 Stars!

I was reluctant to read this book.  Not because I was afraid I wouldn’t like it, but because I really didn’t want this series to end.  I’ve loved the parties, the catty girls, the big dresses, and of course all the drama.  This book still had all the drama, but it has evolved.  The drama has become more adult, if that’s possible.   I was not expecting the twists that came in the end.   Although not suprising the length that people will go to to come out on top (both for fame and money).  There was enough build up that the story never felt slow.  While, I was shocked at the ending, I didn’t feel any of the people acted out of character.  It was a fantastic way to end the series!

Published in: on February 11, 2010 at 7:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander, #2) by Diana Gabaldon

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander, #2)

Title: Dragonfly in Amber
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Published: June 1992
Pages: 949
ISBN: 9780440215622
Source: personal copy

Description: For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones …about a love that transcends the boundaries of time …and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his ….
Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart …in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising …and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves….

 I Give This Book 5 Stars!

I was completely floored by Outlander.  It was a story like I’ve never read before.  When I picked the book to read as part of a challenge last year, I did not know that it was part of a series.  I knew when I was finished that I wanted to read them all.  I wish I had sat down and read Dragonfly in Amber in one sitting.  Instead I drew it out over a couple months, reading here and there.  So, in that sense it’s my fault that I sometimes got confused over who was who.  Because lets face it, there’s a lot of people and even more information presented in this book.  But, its wonderful.  I feel like I’ve been taken on a history lesson that is much more personal than any book or teacher could ever have shown me.  Claire and Jamie are beginning to work their way into the favorite characters (and couple) category.  They invoke a powerful mental picture.  I love their relationship and to what grounds they will go to portray (notice I don’t use the word prove) their love for one another.  The events that happen in this story are also of high emotion and intensity.   Diana Gabaldon has written a masterpiece.  I can not wait to see were she takes Claire and Jamie next!

 

Published in: on January 27, 2010 at 7:42 am  Comments (3)  
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The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

The Heretic Queen

Title: The Heretic Queen
Author: Michelle Moran
Published: September 2008
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9780307381767
Source: Library

Description: In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family’s past and remake history. 
The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family—all with the exception of Nefertari, the niece of the reviled former queen, Nefertiti. The girl’s deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. A relic of a previous reign, Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But this changes when she is taken under the wing of the Pharaoh’s aunt, then brought to the Temple of Hathor, where she is educated in a manner befitting a future queen.  Soon Nefertari catches the eye of the Crown Prince, and despite her family’s history, they fall in love and wish to marry. Yet all of Egypt opposes this union between the rising star of a new dynasty and the fading star of an old, heretical one. While political adversity sets the country on edge, Nefertari becomes the wife of Ramesses the Great. Destined to be the most powerful Pharaoh in Egypt, he is also the man who must confront the most famous exodus in history.

I Give This Book 4 Stars!

I’ve always loved the history of ancient civilizations.  But, history class is just facts.  It does not make you feel like you are there.  It does not give you a taste of what life might have been like.   Michelle Moran does.  I can not imagine the research that goes into her work.  The minute you open the cover of one of her novels, you are there.  I love the settings, the characters, and the story itself.  I like how she takes what is known and weaves into her story, so in the end you are not sure if the book was fact or fiction.  I also enjoyed that in both books I’ve read, she has included biblical references.  And, I’ve completely missed them until I’ve read the author notes in the back.  Michelle Moran leaves me talking about her books long after I’ve read them!

The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent

The Heretic's Daughter

Title: The Heretic’s Daughter
Author: Kathleen Kent
Published: September 2008
Pages: 332
ISBN: 9780316037532
Source: Library Book

Description: Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha’s courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived.
Kathleen Kent is a tenth generation descendent of Martha Carrier. She paints a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England, but also of one family’s deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution.

I Give This Book 4 Stars!

I have to be honest in saying the book was a little different for me.  I think it’s because you know what is coming.  I kept thinking it was slow because I wanted it to get to the part were the panic has set in and people are being accused left and right.  Man that makes me sound like I crave the gruesome.   But, at the same time as thinking the story was slow, I would realize I was reading huge chunks of it in the blink of an eye.  I guess I was thinking the story focused more on the witch trials, when that’s not the case.  It’s about family and how they stand together during extreme circumstances.  It’s also about a very interesting relationship between a mother and a daughter and how that changes during this time.  You do eventually get a sense of what it was like for those who stood accused of witchcraft, but it’s such a small part of the story.  It is amazing what this family went through.  You get the sense that they are even stronger than what they were before such an ordeal.   It left me thinking about it even after I read the last page.

Published in: on January 16, 2010 at 7:10 am  Comments (4)  
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The Queen’s Mistake: In the Court of Henry VIII by Diane Haeger

The Queen's Mistake: In the Court of Henry VIII

Title: The Queen’s Mistake
Author: Diane Haeger
Published: October 2009 by NAL Trage
Pages: 416
ISBN: 9780451228000
Source: Library Book

Description: When the young and beautiful Catherine Howard becomes the fifth wife of the fifty-year-old King Henry VIII, she seems to be on top of the world. Yet her reign is destined to be brief and heartbreaking, as she is forced to do battle with enemies far more powerful and calculating than she could have ever anticipated in a court where one wrong move could mean her undoing. Wanting only love, Catherine is compelled to deny her heart’s desire in favor of her family’s ambition. But in so doing, she unwittingly gives those who sought to bring her down a most effective weapon-her own romantic past.
The Queen’s Mistake is the tragic tale of one passionate and idealistic woman who struggles to negotiate the intrigue of the court and the yearnings of her heart.

I Give This Book 4 Stars!

I confess I don’t much about Henry VIII’s last 3 wives.   I kind of became disgusted with the man after the first 3.  But, they each have their own story to tell.  This book made me feel for Catherine Howard immensely.  She was a pawn from the start.  Her family raised her to be naive but knowledgeable about sexual games with men.  But, they never taught her the ways of the royal court, nor did she known what it meant to be the King’s Queen.  And especially what it meant to belong to King Henry VIII.  She was denied what she truly wanted and her family feed her to the wolves for the own gain.  The story was slow at first, but quickly built to what you know is coming.  The story left me with the same opinion I’ve  long had of Henry VIII.  Catherine was left the victim, although if she truly was faithful while married to the King, only a few really know.

Published in: on January 13, 2010 at 7:00 am  Comments (3)  
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