Monday, December 1, 2014

The Iron King by Maurice Druon

Philip the Fair, King of France, is a man born to rule. His iron hand has built France into a powerful and peaceful nation. To further strengthen France, the errant Knights Templar have been hunted down. Now as their leaders are executed, a curse is uttered. So begins the Accursed Kings series. Phillip's sons are weak and cuckolded, while his iron hearted daughter is married to a weakling king of England who loves his male courtiers. Curses, manipulations and lies surround the throne.
I loved this book. I received The Strangled Queen from the publisher and knew I needed to start at the beginning. This series is amazing. Read it!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb

When Rose leaves Martinique to marry her aunt's lover's son, her life seems full of promise. Quickly abandoned after two children, Rose begins the life of leisure and parties in pre-revolution France. When the blood starts running in the streets, Rose and her children barely survive. When an awkward general offers protection and marriage, Rose, now Josephine, accepts not knowing that she is embarking on a life she never imagined.
This book is one of the first I have read about Josephine, though there are many out there. Josephine seems likeable and relatable. Her life seems almost to fall neatly into sections. She was a remarkable woman who lived a larger than life. Her extravagances were amazing, but underneath it all she seen like any woman who wants love, security and a place to call home.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli

Luca Vianello is the heir to one of Venice's most famous gondola makers. When tragedy strikes, Luca flees his home and life and begins a new life as the personal gondolier to the artisan Trevisan. When Luca finds an old family gondola, he begins restoring it with dreams of winning the affections of noble Guiliana.
This touching coming of age novel was very satisfying. Though Luca can be a quiet narrator, he is thoughtful and is very likeable. I enjoyed this book. The historical details are amazing. I wish that the end had been a bit more clearer, but maybe that sets up for a sequel!

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Triple Knot by Emma Campion

The Fair Maid of Kent had a storied life. After he father is executed, her family lives at the mercy of Queen Eleanor, who had her father executed. She finds friendship with Ned and Bella, her cousins and the Royal Children. Ned vows to make her his queen, but life separates them. When Joan embark on a secret and ill advised love match and marriage, her life is turned upside down. Chronicling Joan's life, this book is never boring.
I loved this book. I had never read much about Joan or Ned. I loved Joan's personality. And though I knew how it ended, it was an amazing journey. Very highly recommended.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The French Executioner by CC Humphrey

Jean Rombaud is brought to England by Henry VIII to behead his Queen Anne Boleyn. Jean arrives, determined to do his job and collect his reward. Instead, he finds himself drawn to Anne as she remains strong in her final days. He makes a vow to her to bury her six fingered hand in the Loire Valley. But others have plans for the rumored magical hand of the heretic queen.

This book has it all. Fast paced and entertaining, I almost couldn't put it down. I loved all the characters, but especially loved Haakon. This is a great book! Very highly recommended!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why write a novel about the man who killed Anne Boleyn, a Guest Post by CC Humphreys

Where do the ideas for novels come from?

I remember exactly what I was doing when the idea for The French Executioner hit me like a bolt of lightning. I was working out.

I was living in Vancouver at the time. Making my living as an actor. I’d written a couple of plays. But my dream from childhood had always been to write historical fiction.

I wasn’t thinking of any of that, on that day in a gym in 1993. I was thinking about shoulder presses. Checking my form in the mirror.

This is what happened. (It also shows you the rather strange associations in my brain!)

I lift the weight bar.
Me, in my head. ‘God, I’ve got a long neck.’
Lower bar.
‘If I was ever executed,’ - Raise bar - ‘it would be a really easy shot for the ax.’
Lower bar.
‘Or the sword. Because, of course, Anne Boleyn was executed with a sword.’
Raise bar. Stop half way.
‘Anne Boleyn had six fingers on one hand.’

Flash! Boom! Put down bar before I drop it. It came together in my head, as one thing: the executioner, brought from France to do the deed, (I remembered that from school). Not just taking her head. Taking her hand as well, that infamous hand – and then the question all writers have to ask: what happened next?

I scurried to the library. Took out books. I knew it had to be a novel. I did some research, sketched a few ideas. But the problem was, I wasn’t a novelist. A play had seemed like a hill. A novel – well, it was a mountain, and I wasn’t ready to climb it. So I dreamed a while, then quietly put all my research, sketches, notes away.

But I never stopped thinking about it. The story kept coming and whenever I was in a second hand bookstore I’d study the history shelves and think: if ever I write that novel – which I probably never will – I’ll want… a battle at sea between slave galleys. So I’d buy a book on that subject, read it. Buy another, read it.

November 1999. Six years after being struck by lightning. I’m living back in England and I find a book on sixteenth century mercenaries - and I knew the novel I was never going to write would have mercenaries. Twenty pages in, I turn to my wife and say: “You know, I think I’m going to write that book.” And she replies, “It’s about bloody time.”

I wrote. The story, all that research, had stewed in my head for so long, it just poured out. Ten months and I was done. I wondered if it was any good. I sent it to an agent. She took me on and had it sold three months later.

I was a novelist after all.









 About the Book: The year is 1536, and notorious French executioner Jean Rombaud is brought in by Henry VIII to behead Anne Boleyn, the condemned Queen of England. But on the eve of her execution, Rombaud becomes enchanted with the ill-fated queen and swears a vow to her: to bury her six-fingered hand, a symbol of her rumored witchery, at a sacred crossroads.
Yet in a Europe ravaged by religious war, the hand of this infamous Protestant icon is so powerful a relic that many will kill for it. Bloodthirsty warriors, corrupt church fathers, Vikings, alchemists, and sullied noblemen alike vie for the prize as Rombaud, a man loyal to the grave, struggles to honor his promise.
From sea battles to lusty liaisons, from the hallucinations of St. Anthony’s fire to the fortress of an apocalyptic messiah, The French Executioner sweeps readers into a breathtaking story of courage, the pursuit of power, and loyalty at whatever cost.
C.C. Humphreys is the author of eight historical novels. The French Executioner, which was his first novel and a runner-up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers award in 2002, has never before been published in the U.S. The sequel, The Curse of Anne Boleyn, will be published in the U.S. in May 2015.
Humphreys has acted all over the world and appeared on stages ranging from London’s West End to Hollywood’s Twentieth Century Fox. He is also an accomplished swordsman and fight choreographer. For more information, visit http://cchumphreys.com/
Praise for The French Executioner
“Set against the backdrop of the Protestant Reformation, his superbloody Princess Bride-like adventure is, at its heart, a tale of redemption, well-earned and hard-won.” – Library Journal
“This unusual tale conjures visions of an Errol Flynn-type Hollywood swashbuckler...the tale's well-told, engagingly written, and includes a colorful immersion into a time when life was cheap and danger or death literally waited around every corner. A gory but fascinating...look at the world in the early 16th century.” -Kirkus

Thank you to the publisher and CC. My review will be posted next week! Stay tuned!

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Fairest of Them All by Caroline Turgeon

Rapunzel was raised in the forest by her foster mother, Mathena. Sheltered from men and the outside world, Rapunzel helps Mathena tend to women in need. One day Prince Josef stumbles upon the castle and falls in love with Rapunzel, though he must marry another. When Rapunzel loses the Prince's child, her life changes. After his wife's death, Josef is back to marry Rapunzel. But life in the castle is a big adjustment for Rapunzel.
This melding of two fairy tales was amazing. Though Rapunzel had issues, I still was sympathetic with her to a point. I loved how Turgeon kept the Grimm outlook on the stories, with dark twists and turns. It's an amazing book, well worth your time. It's completely devourable! Thank you to the publisher for a review copy.