Monday, August 27, 2012

The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc

Nancy Goldstone tells the whole story of Joan of Arc and the Hundred Years War. Rich with details, the reader is given extreme insight into the fight for France's Crown. Going back years before Joan takes up the fight, the book steeps readers in French dynastic relationships and court life, especially related to the Armagnac and Burgundian Parties. Enter Yolande of Aragon, daughter of a king, wife of another. As mother-in-law to the current and disinherited Dauphin, it is in Yolande's best interest to see Charles crowned. Using her political astuteness, her spies and money, Yolande works to elevate Charles, who sees her as his mother. When the fight for France is at it's bleakest, a girl emerges from Yolande's territories, answering the Dauphin's prayers. A maid with visions telling of France's victory and Charles' crowning. Joan encourages not only France's people, but Charles himself. Joan's victories save France, but doom herself.

This book wonderfully explains the two women with one goal to save France. I loved how Goldstone's unbiased attitude allows the reader to determine their own views of these two powerful woman, especially Joan. Goldstone also breaks down the complex relationships and "mere coincidences" making the years leading to Joan's arrival easy to understand.

Though packed with historical events and characters, once established, this book reads fairly quickly and easily. This book taught be a lot about the 100 Years War.The beautiful Artwork scattered through out the book is like icing on the cake.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Guest Post with David Leroy, author of The Sirens of Paris

The premise behind The Siren of Paris is that Marc Tolbert becomes trapped in France, due to various circumstances, after the outbreak of World War II.  So, naturally, the question before me is this: is my protagonist an idiot?  Who in the world would travel to France in 1939 in the first place?  Why would anyone remain in France after the outbreak of the war?  After all, it is difficult to feel sympathy for someone who appears to be asking for trouble.  
The story shows the reader that all the ocean liners were canceled just days after the war broke out. However, a motivated individual could have found some way to get back to America.  There were ships running, out of Spain and Portugal, to South America and the Caribbean.  Marc is well off enough to afford the recently established Trans-Atlantic Air service out of Lisbon or the Pan AM Yankee Clipper flying boats.  There are a few reasons why Marc finds himself trapped in France which you may never consider. 

First, there was a sense of overconfidence, when the war broke out in 1939, that Germany could not prevail against both the British and the French.  That overconfidence was broadcasted on radio, in newsreels, and in newspapers, eventually finding a welcome home in the hearts of all those who had a vested interest in just such an outcome.

Second, people had become desensitized, over time, to the warnings of war.  I sat down and read three of the popular Parisian papers of the day.  I wanted to know if I could set aside my own prejudgments regarding the beginning of WW II and view the development of the war from the point of view of someone reading the daily news.  After reading nearly a year's worth of news headlines in French, the approaching crisis, intermingled with other mundane local news, did not seem serious until about a week before the outbreak of war.  Psychologically, when we hear something over and over again, it loses it power.    

Third, Marc stays to satisfy his own ego.  His father had been in The Great War, so the idea of running home when the war began seemed cowardly.  Having a new and important job, with responsibilities for the first time in his young life, he comes to believe that by remaining in France, he can help other Americans with families make evacuation plans.

However, there is something else that trumps the overconfidence, the desensitization to the dangers, and his ego.  Marc Tolbert fell in love, and therefore he had a vested interest in staying in Paris, for his new girlfriend, as long as he could.  Twenty years old and in love, he had a superhuman ability to rationalize his decisions.  Therefore, my dear reader, of course he was an idiot, but not for the reasons you may have suspected.  He could not see or hear the dangers unfolding all around him, with a clear head, because he was already possessed by another call. 

The people who were not in love struggled with transportation issues or fear of the risk associated with U-Boats.  Some of them lived in a state of denial due to their own overconfidence.  However, many more were able to escape the unfolding war.  Marc had just one other thing that held him back and how many of us can relate to that problem?  He is a fool, but a very sympathetic one, which makes his journey all the more haunting to the reader.  

David Leroy did extensive research on the German occupation of France for his debut novel The Siren of Paris. This historical novel follows the journey of one American from medical student, to artist, to political prisoner at Buchenwald Concentration Camp during World War Two. 
Marc, a French born American student, never suspected that he would become trapped in German occupied France when he came to Paris in the summer of 1939 to study art. While smuggling a  downed airman out of the American Hospital, through the Paris resistance underground, his life is plunged into total darkness when someone he trusts becomes a collaborator agent for the Gestapo. Marc then must fight to save his soul when he is banished to the “Fog and the Night” of Buchenwald, where he struggles with guilt over the consequences of having his trust betrayed.

You can purchase The Siren of Paris in Kindle e-book format from Amazon -- and learn more about this author and novel at

For more information about this virtual book tour, please visit --

Thank you to David for stopping by!! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Shadow Queen by Rebecca Dean

Raised by her widowed mother and provided for by her rich paternal uncle, Bessiewallis Warfield lives a life of privilege in Baltimore. Headstrong Bessie attends elite boarding schools populated by the Ton Children and is expected to make a marvelous marriage. Wallis spends her days dreaming of boys and trying to survive "poverty". In her teens, Wallis suffers a brutal heartbreak and soon after marries a dashing pilot with a reputation as a lady's man. The marriage falls apart, but teaches Wallis to be independent. Wallis' independence take her to China and Britain. Wallis marries a British Businessman and begins socializing with royalty in London. Wallis is determined to find her true destiny, with a King for a lover.

I am largely unfamiliar with the extraordinary life of the Duchess of Windsor. I know the rumors, but who was the woman? I was apprehensive about this book, but my fears were totally unfounded. Wallis is a enigmatic woman. Her magnetic character draws in both the reader and the secondary characters. Wallis is a walking conundrum. Though intelligent, she is often flippant and naive. Her boyish looks ooze sexuality. She uses others around her as stepping stones, but seems concerned about their welfare. Though Wallis' life is rough, she is determined to outshine those around her.

I highly recommend this book to those who wish to learn more about Wallis Simpson. The sequel will follow Wallis' romance with Edward.

I have a copy up for grabs. US Only, and you must follow my blog to enter. Giveaway ends 9/20/12. Good luck.