Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

whiteprin.jpgPhilippa Gregory (one of my favourite authors) has long written fiction about key areas in British history. She is perhaps best known for her book The Other Boleyn Girl. Her latest series, The Cousins’ War, charts the War of the Roses, the familial civil war that preceded Tudor rule and which divided England into York and Lancaster supporters. The war ended bloodily in 1485 with the death of King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Onto his throne came Henry Tudor (King Henry VII), the first Tudor king (and father to the infamous, maritally-challenged Henry VIII).

The White Princess takes place at this critical juncture: it marks the end of Plantagenet rule and the founding of the Tudors, with all of the messy political machinations in between. Navigating through this maelstrom is Princess Elizabeth of York, a complex and fascinating figure who has been largely excluded from historical attention. Yet, with her trademark dedication to both fact and personal narrative, Gregory breathes life into this character and creates an engrossing landscape rife with both political turmoil and personal upheaval.

Born the daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York soon finds herself fatherless and in hiding when her uncle Richard III takes the throne. Her life sees a seismic shift when Richard is killed in battle. The victor and new king is a young Welsh nobleman who will found one of the most infamous dynasties of England: Henry Tudor.

The scheming new Tudor house is frantic to cement its legitimacy by marrying into the old ruling family; and so, in a spectacular display of political matchmaking, Elizabeth is married off to Henry, her former enemy.

Elizabeth is caught between the machinations of two families: her Tudor husband is determined to secure his rule, but her own York mother is scheming to see him overthrown. However, Elizabeth soon grows to care for her husband and, as they build a family, she transforms from York princess to mother of Tudor royalty. Yet, when plots and rebellions surface, she must navigate between the allegiances of her own heart. Is she a York or a Tudor?
Gregory does an astounding job of creating a personal, relatable narrative around the very political machinations of crossed allegiances, confused identity, and transfers of dynastic power. Ultimately a tale of a woman’s difficult journey towards self-definition, The White Princess deftly mixes heart with history; emotion with politics (and a dash of mysticism).

The scope of this novel is wonderfully enthralling. Gregory is able to impart both raw realpolitik and its emotional toll. Infusing the early Tudor characters with an understandable inferiority complex, the novel puts a very human face on often impersonal political intrigue. This dynamic fascinated me because of my interest in Renaissance England. Further, as a reader, I was fascinated by Gregory’s sympathetic depiction of Elizabeth’s tortured feelings of divided loyalties. How difficult and complex, indeed, it must have felt to belong to two opposing royal families. Elizabeth is wholly believable, both in her love for her blood family, and in her growing concern for the one into which she has married. She is an intriguing figure of British history. This compelling work of historical fiction does her complex life justice, and is a true gem to read.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In the Dead of Winter

          When the weather becomes this blistering cold all I can think of is curling up with a book that will make me forget about all the snow that needs shoveling. What better way to escape than with a good mystery? For a limited time, in store only, Book House has a great collection of autographed mysteries to help you beat cabin fever.

        1. W is for Wasted by: Sue Grafton 
                      Sue Grafton is close to the end of her Kinsey Millhone Mystery series with only 3 letters to go, we're trying to savor W is for Wasted. Sue Grafton's mysteries never disappoint.

                                      2. The Last Kind Word: A McKenzie Novel by: David Housewright 
                     When unlicensed PI and millionaire, Rushmore McKenzie agrees to go undercover to help the ATF track stolen guns he knew it'd be a difficult task to accomplished, but soon learns he greatly underestimated the tough journey that lies ahead.
   3.  The Territory by: Tricia Fields
           If you like desert landscapes, small towns with big issues, and border feuds---you'll love Tricia Fields The Territory.  Book House also has a limited amount of autographed copies of Scratchgravel Road: A Mystery also by Fields.

       4. Arsenic and Old Puzzles by: Parnell Hall
                  An old movie, Will Shortz puzzles, and one mysterious Sudoku puzzle tucked in an elderly man's pocket set up the scene for Cora's next case to crack, but will her romantic feelings get
in the way?

       5. A Fatal Winter by: G.M. Malliet
              "There are certain things you want in a village mystery: a pretty setting, a tasteful murder, an appealing sleuth . . . Malliet delivers all that." —Marilyn Stasio. Book House also has a limited amount of autographed copies of  Pagan Spring by: G.M. Malliet. 

       6. How the Light Gets In by: Louise Penny
               "A new Inspector Gamache novel by Louise Penny is always something to anticipate, and How the Light Gets In does not disappoint, even as the nuanced and mercurial Gamache is getting older and perhaps, slightly weary of cleaning up the riffraff in Quebec. As the holidays approach and Gamache looks forward to a family trip to France, a long-term plot by those at the very top to get Gamache out of the way once and for all, the murder of the last living Ouellet quintet, and a mysterious suicide intertwine in a complex and satisfying plot that never gives itself away." -- Carol Spurling, Bookpeople Of Moscow, Moscow, ID

       7.The Wrong Girl by: Hank Phillippi Ryan
              Hank Phillippi Ryan's newest mystery has a twist at every corner. While newspaper reporter Jane Ryland investigates a corrupt adoption agency reconnecting parents with the wrong children, detective Jake Brogan is busy investigating the tragedy behind a domestic abuse case and the empty cradle that was left behind. A chilling mystery to curl up with on a chilly day.

       8. Shotgun Lullaby by: Steve Ulfelder
              "From critically acclaimed, Edgar-nominated author Steve Ulfelder-Conway Sax is back in a thrilling and heart-wrenching story of how far a father will go to save his son."

       9. Seance Society by: Michael Nethercott 
                Seance Society is a historical mystery that reads like a Sherlock Holmes novel. Full of ghost seekers, paranormal technology, and a witty duo who are out to solve a murder mystery.

     10. Blood Orange by: Karen Keskinen
              "When Lili Molina, a local teenager chosen for the coveted role of Daphne in the annual solstice parade, is murdered, Jaymie is urged to take on the case. Reluctant at first, she soon learns police are mishandling the investigation and can’t refuse. In a town where some people are filthy rich and some are dirt poor, Jaymie finds herself slipping into the fault lines between privilege and race. Her investigation turns up an array of suspects, including con artists, spoiled rich kids, and an eccentric oil heiress. Jaymie must move fast  to unravel a twisted conspiracy - before she becomes the next victim."

     Wild Beasts of Wuhan by: Ian Hamilton
11.       "Meet Ava Lee, alluring but deadly, with a mind like a steel trap, as she chases millions of dollars and dangerous criminals around the globe in this exotic and fast-paced new crime series by Ian Hamilton."

     12. Good as Gone by: Douglas Corleone
             "With lightning-fast pacing and a twist behind every turn, Douglas Corleone's Good as Gone is a gripping race against the clock for a young girl with her life on the line and a man who has nothing left to lose."

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Year, New Romance: Swoon Worthy Novels

         It's a new year and with a new year comes a ton of books. Some of New Adult and Romance's celebrated stars will be releasing the next book in their series or even starting new ones, and I for one can't wait.
        Kresley Cole's new book, The Professional, is a romantic mystery. Natalie hires a private eye to find her birth parents but it doesn't go as planned. She finds herself kidnapped by the hunky Sevastyan who throws her onto a private jet headed to Russia. I can't say too much more without giving major plot points away. Look for this book by Gallery Books in May. 

       Deceptive Innocence by Kyra Davis looks at revenge in a whole new way. Ever since Bell's mother was sent to jail for a crime she didn't commit, she has been set on bringing down the Gable family. She's smart and cunning, willing to do anything to exact her revenge, even if it means breaking her own heart. This new book is a departure from Davis's usual erotic novels, focusing more on the intrigue and character development than she has in the past. It's due out in June from Gallery Books.

      Collide and Pulse by Gail McHugh are two of m favorite books to be released in 2014.  Emily has had it really rough, when she moves out to New York City she's intent on staying with her controlling boyfriend, Dillon, who stood by her side as she watched her mother pass away. Even Gavin Blake's attention isn't enough to pull her away. But Gavin isn't one to give up easily. What happens next will leave you reading until the wee hours... Collide is due April while you'll have to wait till July for Pulse, both are published by Atria Books.
     The True Believers series by Erin McCarthy is a beautiful series about a group of college friends. The order so far is True, Sweet, and Believe- I'm on pins and needles waiting to read the next one. True starts the series off strong. Rory's friends find out she's a virgin, gasp, and they set out to correct that, in walks Tyler. In the second book, Rory's best friend Jessica has lied to her strict parents about her summer plans so she's stuck hanging out with Rory's boyfriend's brother, Riley. The sparks fly, but so does the chaos. The third book is probably my favorite. Robin was a good-time girl, never one to turn down a good party, until she wakes up in bed with her friend's boyfriend. Phoenix is just out of jail and crashing on Tyler and Riley's couch. Can these two broken souls find happiness? You'll have to read to find out! The books are due out May, June and July 2014 by Penguin Putnam.                                                                                                                                    

      Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young is the third book in the series that began with Joss and Braden in On Dublin Street. Olivia, Johanna's cousin, has moved to Scotland and has been folded into Joss, Johanna and Ellie's world. But her shy nature has limited her interaction with the opposite sex. She turns to her best friend, Nate, for assistance. Can two best friends have sex without affecting their friendship or the friendships with others? This is a can't miss book series. Available now from Penguin.                                      

        I really enjoyed Jay Crownover's Marked Men series. It began with Rule, then Jet, then Rome and soon to come Nash. The men are tatted, gorgeous and damaged. I could not put these books down, even re-reading them when the next book in the series came out. Harper Collins.

      Jodi Malpas may be considered the newest and best erotic writer with her series, This Man. I have been waiting, rather impatiently, for the final book in the series, This Man Confessed. Ava is an interior designer set on making a name for herself. Jesse Ward is used to getting what he wants, and one look at Ava convinces him that she is all he needs. Three books of pursuit, sex and fights will leave you anxious and eager for a forever after. I was really impresses by Jodi's writing as well as her ability to make you fall in love with her characters, as flawed as they are. The third book is due next Tuesday (1/21/14) from Forever.                                                                                                            

      Rachel Van Dyken's Eagle Elite series is an ebook only series which I loved. A little mob, little college drama and lots of amazing characters make this series one of my favorites. The first book explores Trace's first year at college where she meets the Elect, a group of populars who seems to rule the school, led by Nixon. The second book is full of intrigue and so many plot twists I had to re-read it to make sure I got everything.  Both books are now available from  Forever.

       I am in love with Jessica Sorensen's books! She writes from the heart about very damaged people finding love and a bit of happiness. My favorite couple has to Callie and Kayden. Luke and Violet, Ella and Micha and Lily and Ethan all have their own amazing books that will be out this year. I highly recommend them all! They are published by Forever.