Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick - Book Giveaway

Book Review and Book Giveaway
Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick



Back Cover Blurb


Two very different women are linked by destiny and the struggle for the English crown. Matilda, daughter of Henry I, is determined to win back her crown from Stephen, the usurper king. Adeliza, Henry's widowed queen and Matilda's stepmother, is now married to William D'Albini, a warrior of the opposition. Both women are strong and prepared to stand firm for what they know is right. But in a world where a man's word is law, how can Adeliza obey her husband while supporting Matilda, the rightful queen? And for Matilda pride comes before a fall ...What price for a crown? What does it cost to be 'Lady of the English'?

Empress Matilda
Lady of the English
(Maud)

Adeliza of Louvain
Queen of England

Matilda was one of two legitimate children of King Henry I of England. When her brother, William, died in the White Ship disaster, she became her father’s sole heir. Her father made his noblemen swear their oath to accept Matilda as queen of England and duchess of Normandy after his death.

King Henry I of England

As a young woman, Matilda was sent to Germany as the bride of Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor. By all accounts, they had a happy but childless marriage.


Henry V
Holy Roman Emperor

When Henry died in 1125, Matilda returned to England where her father forced her, now a dowager empress, to marry Geoffrey of Anjou, a lesser nobleman eleven years her senior. This new marriage brought her little happiness. From the start, it was fraught with abuse. She left him and ran back to England. But political need came into play. Through her father’s intervention, and urged by step-mother Adeliza, Matilda reluctantly returned to Geoffrey. She bore him three sons, Henry (later King Henry II of England, Geoffrey (Count of Nantes) and William.

Geoffrey of Anjou

Matilda's father, King Henry I of England, died in 1135. Forgetting the vow they made to crown Matilda as Queen of England, the nobles reneged and placed Stephen of Blois, her cousin on the throne.

Stephen of Blois

But Stephen did not prove a popular king. Several of his nobles turned on him. The nobles urged Matilda to come to England to be crowned. With the support of her uncle, King David of Scotland, and his army, Matilda attempted a return. Stephen was captured and taken prisoner at a battle at Lincoln.

No woman had ever ruled England or Normandy, especially Matilda who had a reputation for being arrogant, bad-tempered, and moody. Few people liked her. Nevertheless, she travelled to Winchester, and was proclaimed queen. It was then her difficult personality became evident. She refused to converse kindly with the people.

Stephen’s wife visited her to beg for her husband’s freedom in exchange for their exile across the sea and a promise to never interfere in her life again. Matilda refused and ordered the woman away, a decision she would come to regret.

Those loyal to Stephen, continued to fight for him. Their cause gained support as more and more people became disenchanted with their harsh, unkind queen. Even her husband would not come to England to help her. Surrounded by her enemies, she was forced to flee from Winchester, her supporters killed or captured. Disguised in a coffin perforated with holes so she could breath, Matilda made it to Gloucester and Oxford Castle. While one of her supporters crossed the sea to fetch her eldest son Henry who was ten years old, her castle was besieged by Stephen whom Matilda had earlier freed. His men surrounded the castle and prevented food and supplies from entering.

Determined to escape, she and three of her knights dressed themselves in white and in the dead of winter, escaped by climbing down the walls with ropes. Camouflaged against the snow, no one saw them. They crossed the ice-covered river on the ice, walked in the night, and arrived at Abingdon. On horseback, they rode to Wallingford, where Matilda greeted her young son, Henry.

An uneasy truce between Stephen and Matilda came to be. Matilda raised her son at Gloucester until her husband sent for him so he could see his eldest before he left on a crusade. Geoffrey died during this crusade.

Matilda no longer wanted to be queen. Her son, Henry, became king.

Henry II
King of England

Matilda retired to a convent until she died at Rouen in France where she was buried. Her epitaph reads:

"Here lies the daughter, wife, and mother of Henry."

From start to finish, Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick captured my interest. As with all of Elizabeth’s novels, the story is vividly described with a depth of historical detail that is rarely matched by other novelists in the genre. She brings to life the story of a queen who was contrary, vitriolic, and verbally blunt. Despite the known rancorous personality of this fascinating queen, the author allows us to see her in several dimensions – a young bride, an abused wife, a political pawn. And it is this that allows us to admire her courage and strength in the face of an entire country that refused to fully accept her as their queen. A wonderful reprieve from all the Tudor novels that are saturating the market, I urge you to get this book for insight into this fascinating woman’s life.

An Interview with Elizabeth Chadwick


Many thanks to the members of Historical Novel Review for inviting me to give this blog interview.
I’m delighted to be here!

I'm very excited to have one of Britain's finest writers joining us here today. A warm welcome to Elizabeth Chadwick. Thank you for taking the time to allow us to get to know you better. 

1. Can you tell us a little about your novel?

LADY OF THE ENGLISH is the story of Empress Matilda, daughter of King Henry I. She was so called because she had married the Emperor of Germany at the age of 12 and lived at the German court . When she was about 23, her husband died and her father summoned her back to his side, intending to make her heir to England and Normandy. A woman on the throne was not a popular choice in a male dominated society, and Matilda found herself forced into marrying a youth she hated because her father ordered it so. When her father died, Matilda’s claim to the throne was pushed to one side by his barons, who elected her male cousin Stephen to the throne instead. The scene was set for war as Matilda set out to claim her rightful crown.

LADY OF THE ENGLISH is also the story of Matilda’s stepmother Adeliza of Louvain. She was the same age as Matilda and had been married at a very young age to Matilda's father as his second wife. The women became good friends and allies. Adeliza married a baron of the opposition, and the story follows Adeliza's struggle to help Matilda and yet still be a good wife to her husband. It examines through the characters different aspects what it meant to be a woman in the 12th century.

2. What inspired you to write a novel about a woman in this period of history?

I have always written about the medieval period and both men and women in this timeframe. It’s my home territory and my comfort zone. I have done detailed research into the period and I love bringing it to life for a modern audience. It's as simple as that. I am always inspired by the Middle Ages! Also the more I research, the more I realise how much we don't know about the period today, and how much we assume we know which is often very wrong. For example: At one end you have the view that women were powerless in the society of the time, and at the other end the view that actually they were very powerful and filled with the light of modern feminism. The truth is always tinted in shades of grey. They weren't powerless, but their power was measured in different ways to modern Western society. They had their fields of influence that waxed and waned with their role in society. The most powerful women were mothers of male children and widows who were able either to wield the reins behind-the-scenes, or take them in their own right. Daughters and young wives were perhaps the most powerless and had to bide their time.

3. What hardships did women face in this particular century and what lessons can today's woman learn from it?

I've covered this is in a small part in the above question. They didn't have independence as we know it, and had to work out how to get their own way by more subtle means, but it also meant they were more vulnerable. A man was permitted to beat his wife for example, and property laws frequently put women at a disadvantage. Other hardships, are still suffered by many women around the globe today. Famine, war, rudimentary and often ineffective healthcare were just a few of the hardships medieval women might face at some point in their lives. There was the absolute peril of childbirth to face time and again. Contraception was haphazard at least, and the belief system said that one should only lie with one's spouse for the intentions of procreation.

Without vaccination, without access to good paediatric care, only the strong survived and Medieval women often had to deal with the death of one or more of their children. They might be more accepting and fatalistic than us, but it still didn't mean that they grieved less.

I think from Medieval women, we can learn to be grateful for what we have today and not to complain about small things -such as the cliché of the broken fingernail. I also think that while retaining our compassion, we should learn to be tougher.

4. What inspired you about your heroine? Why did you choose her?

LADY OF THE ENGLISH actually has two heroines in the Empress Matilda and Adeliza of Louvain. I have always been interested in the Empress. She is portrayed as a cold, hard, bad-tempered woman. I have even described that way myself in earlier novels from a superficial examination of her character. But I wanted to find out what she was really like? If she was a termagant, then were there reasons for it? What she being misrepresented? Were there any alternative views of her personality? What were the people around her like? What made her tick? Writing novels is always about asking and answering questions.

With Adeliza of Louvain, I realised that no one had ever written a novel about her, and that in fact she was very important to the history of the period, because without her quiet, understated courage, Matilda would have found it far more difficult to make her bid for England's crown, and Henry II might never have come to the throne. I was also interested to find out about Adeliza's relationship with a baron called William D’Albini who she married after her husband King Henry I died. D’Albini supported the opposition during Matilda’s bid for the crown, yet he and Adeliza seemed to live together in harmony. So what was their story?

5. Can you describe a typical writing day?

Depends what day of the week you take as all are different but typical in their own way. If you ask me on a weekday, mostly I write for half of the day and an evening. I will take time out to do the grocery shop, meet a friend, or keep fit at the gym. When I write, I tend to do so in short bursts interspersing with social networking such as Facebook and Twitter and sites such as Goodreads and Historical fiction Online. I know a lot of writers need a concentrated amount of time in which to write, but I find it fairly easy to switch between disciplines. The weekends tend to be my most intensive writing days because I don't take time out to do things away from the PC - other than eat! I am more of a night owl than a lark, and can sometimes be found toiling away in the early hours of the morning, which tend to be late at night in Australia, and mid-evening in the USA, so generally that's when I hook up with overseas readers and friends.

6. Can you tell us briefly about any new novels in the works?

I have been contracted to write 3 novels about Eleanor of Aquitaine by my UK publisher – The Summer Queen, The Winter Crown and The Autumn Throne. I’m researching and writing the first one at the moment. I feel that there is still a place for another Eleanor of Aquitaine novel in the market and my take will be unique! While waiting for the Eleanor books, Sourcebooks in the USA are going to be publishing A Place Beyond Courage, Shadows And Strongholds and Lords of the White Castle, three of my UK titles that have not received a widespread USA audience before.
Book Review and Book Giveaway
Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick



Back Cover Blurb


Two very different women are linked by destiny and the struggle for the English crown. Matilda, daughter of Henry I, is determined to win back her crown from Stephen, the usurper king. Adeliza, Henry's widowed queen and Matilda's stepmother, is now married to William D'Albini, a warrior of the opposition. Both women are strong and prepared to stand firm for what they know is right. But in a world where a man's word is law, how can Adeliza obey her husband while supporting Matilda, the rightful queen? And for Matilda pride comes before a fall ...What price for a crown? What does it cost to be 'Lady of the English'?

Empress Matilda
Lady of the English
(Maud)

Adeliza of Louvain
Queen of England

Matilda was one of two legitimate children of King Henry I of England. When her brother, William, died in the White Ship disaster, she became her father’s sole heir. Her father made his noblemen swear their oath to accept Matilda as queen of England and duchess of Normandy after his death.

King Henry I of England

As a young woman, Matilda was sent to Germany as the bride of Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor. By all accounts, they had a happy but childless marriage.


Henry V
Holy Roman Emperor

When Henry died in 1125, Matilda returned to England where her father forced her, now a dowager empress, to marry Geoffrey of Anjou, a lesser nobleman eleven years her senior. This new marriage brought her little happiness. From the start, it was fraught with abuse. She left him and ran back to England. But political need came into play. Through her father’s intervention, and urged by step-mother Adeliza, Matilda reluctantly returned to Geoffrey. She bore him three sons, Henry (later King Henry II of England, Geoffrey (Count of Nantes) and William.

Geoffrey of Anjou

Matilda's father, King Henry I of England, died in 1135. Forgetting the vow they made to crown Matilda as Queen of England, the nobles reneged and placed Stephen of Blois, her cousin on the throne.

Stephen of Blois

But Stephen did not prove a popular king. Several of his nobles turned on him. The nobles urged Matilda to come to England to be crowned. With the support of her uncle, King David of Scotland, and his army, Matilda attempted a return. Stephen was captured and taken prisoner at a battle at Lincoln.

No woman had ever ruled England or Normandy, especially Matilda who had a reputation for being arrogant, bad-tempered, and moody. Few people liked her. Nevertheless, she travelled to Winchester, and was proclaimed queen. It was then her difficult personality became evident. She refused to converse kindly with the people.

Stephen’s wife visited her to beg for her husband’s freedom in exchange for their exile across the sea and a promise to never interfere in her life again. Matilda refused and ordered the woman away, a decision she would come to regret.

Those loyal to Stephen, continued to fight for him. Their cause gained support as more and more people became disenchanted with their harsh, unkind queen. Even her husband would not come to England to help her. Surrounded by her enemies, she was forced to flee from Winchester, her supporters killed or captured. Disguised in a coffin perforated with holes so she could breath, Matilda made it to Gloucester and Oxford Castle. While one of her supporters crossed the sea to fetch her eldest son Henry who was ten years old, her castle was besieged by Stephen whom Matilda had earlier freed. His men surrounded the castle and prevented food and supplies from entering.

Determined to escape, she and three of her knights dressed themselves in white and in the dead of winter, escaped by climbing down the walls with ropes. Camouflaged against the snow, no one saw them. They crossed the ice-covered river on the ice, walked in the night, and arrived at Abingdon. On horseback, they rode to Wallingford, where Matilda greeted her young son, Henry.

An uneasy truce between Stephen and Matilda came to be. Matilda raised her son at Gloucester until her husband sent for him so he could see his eldest before he left on a crusade. Geoffrey died during this crusade.

Matilda no longer wanted to be queen. Her son, Henry, became king.

Henry II
King of England

Matilda retired to a convent until she died at Rouen in France where she was buried. Her epitaph reads:

"Here lies the daughter, wife, and mother of Henry."

From start to finish, Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick captured my interest. As with all of Elizabeth’s novels, the story is vividly described with a depth of historical detail that is rarely matched by other novelists in the genre. She brings to life the story of a queen who was contrary, vitriolic, and verbally blunt. Despite the known rancorous personality of this fascinating queen, the author allows us to see her in several dimensions – a young bride, an abused wife, a political pawn. And it is this that allows us to admire her courage and strength in the face of an entire country that refused to fully accept her as their queen. A wonderful reprieve from all the Tudor novels that are saturating the market, I urge you to get this book for insight into this fascinating woman’s life.

An Interview with Elizabeth Chadwick


Many thanks to the members of Historical Novel Review for inviting me to give this blog interview.
I’m delighted to be here!

I'm very excited to have one of Britain's finest writers joining us here today. A warm welcome to Elizabeth Chadwick. Thank you for taking the time to allow us to get to know you better. 

1. Can you tell us a little about your novel?

LADY OF THE ENGLISH is the story of Empress Matilda, daughter of King Henry I. She was so called because she had married the Emperor of Germany at the age of 12 and lived at the German court . When she was about 23, her husband died and her father summoned her back to his side, intending to make her heir to England and Normandy. A woman on the throne was not a popular choice in a male dominated society, and Matilda found herself forced into marrying a youth she hated because her father ordered it so. When her father died, Matilda’s claim to the throne was pushed to one side by his barons, who elected her male cousin Stephen to the throne instead. The scene was set for war as Matilda set out to claim her rightful crown.

LADY OF THE ENGLISH is also the story of Matilda’s stepmother Adeliza of Louvain. She was the same age as Matilda and had been married at a very young age to Matilda's father as his second wife. The women became good friends and allies. Adeliza married a baron of the opposition, and the story follows Adeliza's struggle to help Matilda and yet still be a good wife to her husband. It examines through the characters different aspects what it meant to be a woman in the 12th century.

2. What inspired you to write a novel about a woman in this period of history?

I have always written about the medieval period and both men and women in this timeframe. It’s my home territory and my comfort zone. I have done detailed research into the period and I love bringing it to life for a modern audience. It's as simple as that. I am always inspired by the Middle Ages! Also the more I research, the more I realise how much we don't know about the period today, and how much we assume we know which is often very wrong. For example: At one end you have the view that women were powerless in the society of the time, and at the other end the view that actually they were very powerful and filled with the light of modern feminism. The truth is always tinted in shades of grey. They weren't powerless, but their power was measured in different ways to modern Western society. They had their fields of influence that waxed and waned with their role in society. The most powerful women were mothers of male children and widows who were able either to wield the reins behind-the-scenes, or take them in their own right. Daughters and young wives were perhaps the most powerless and had to bide their time.

3. What hardships did women face in this particular century and what lessons can today's woman learn from it?

I've covered this is in a small part in the above question. They didn't have independence as we know it, and had to work out how to get their own way by more subtle means, but it also meant they were more vulnerable. A man was permitted to beat his wife for example, and property laws frequently put women at a disadvantage. Other hardships, are still suffered by many women around the globe today. Famine, war, rudimentary and often ineffective healthcare were just a few of the hardships medieval women might face at some point in their lives. There was the absolute peril of childbirth to face time and again. Contraception was haphazard at least, and the belief system said that one should only lie with one's spouse for the intentions of procreation.

Without vaccination, without access to good paediatric care, only the strong survived and Medieval women often had to deal with the death of one or more of their children. They might be more accepting and fatalistic than us, but it still didn't mean that they grieved less.

I think from Medieval women, we can learn to be grateful for what we have today and not to complain about small things -such as the cliché of the broken fingernail. I also think that while retaining our compassion, we should learn to be tougher.

4. What inspired you about your heroine? Why did you choose her?

LADY OF THE ENGLISH actually has two heroines in the Empress Matilda and Adeliza of Louvain. I have always been interested in the Empress. She is portrayed as a cold, hard, bad-tempered woman. I have even described that way myself in earlier novels from a superficial examination of her character. But I wanted to find out what she was really like? If she was a termagant, then were there reasons for it? What she being misrepresented? Were there any alternative views of her personality? What were the people around her like? What made her tick? Writing novels is always about asking and answering questions.

With Adeliza of Louvain, I realised that no one had ever written a novel about her, and that in fact she was very important to the history of the period, because without her quiet, understated courage, Matilda would have found it far more difficult to make her bid for England's crown, and Henry II might never have come to the throne. I was also interested to find out about Adeliza's relationship with a baron called William D’Albini who she married after her husband King Henry I died. D’Albini supported the opposition during Matilda’s bid for the crown, yet he and Adeliza seemed to live together in harmony. So what was their story?

5. Can you describe a typical writing day?

Depends what day of the week you take as all are different but typical in their own way. If you ask me on a weekday, mostly I write for half of the day and an evening. I will take time out to do the grocery shop, meet a friend, or keep fit at the gym. When I write, I tend to do so in short bursts interspersing with social networking such as Facebook and Twitter and sites such as Goodreads and Historical fiction Online. I know a lot of writers need a concentrated amount of time in which to write, but I find it fairly easy to switch between disciplines. The weekends tend to be my most intensive writing days because I don't take time out to do things away from the PC - other than eat! I am more of a night owl than a lark, and can sometimes be found toiling away in the early hours of the morning, which tend to be late at night in Australia, and mid-evening in the USA, so generally that's when I hook up with overseas readers and friends.

6. Can you tell us briefly about any new novels in the works?

I have been contracted to write 3 novels about Eleanor of Aquitaine by my UK publisher – The Summer Queen, The Winter Crown and The Autumn Throne. I’m researching and writing the first one at the moment. I feel that there is still a place for another Eleanor of Aquitaine novel in the market and my take will be unique! While waiting for the Eleanor books, Sourcebooks in the USA are going to be publishing A Place Beyond Courage, Shadows And Strongholds and Lords of the White Castle, three of my UK titles that have not received a widespread USA audience before.

R.I.P. VI

There are plenty of books I want to read for Carl's R.I.P challenge this year. Not all books will make it to the list--I simply couldn't list them all. And I'm sure there will be a few surprises or 'impulses.' But I do have a vague idea of what I'd like to read this year:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley*
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte**
The Lifted Veil: The Book of Fantastic Literature by Women 1800-World War II edited and introduced by A. Susan Williams.
Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers
The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers
Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers
A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey
Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey
The Francise Affair by Josephine Tey
The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie
The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side by Agatha Christie
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Grave Expectations by Sherri Browning Erwin and Charles Dickens
Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories by M.R. James
The Haunted Doll's House and Other Ghost Stories by M.R. James
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Kill Shakespeare, Volume 1

*Could I go a year without reading Frankenstein? Maybe? But why would I want to do something like that?! This is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite books!
**I would LOVE to reread Jane Eyre this year!
There are plenty of books I want to read for Carl's R.I.P challenge this year. Not all books will make it to the list--I simply couldn't list them all. And I'm sure there will be a few surprises or 'impulses.' But I do have a vague idea of what I'd like to read this year:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley*
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte**
The Lifted Veil: The Book of Fantastic Literature by Women 1800-World War II edited and introduced by A. Susan Williams.
Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers
The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers
Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers
A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey
Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey
The Francise Affair by Josephine Tey
The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie
The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side by Agatha Christie
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Grave Expectations by Sherri Browning Erwin and Charles Dickens
Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories by M.R. James
The Haunted Doll's House and Other Ghost Stories by M.R. James
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Kill Shakespeare, Volume 1

*Could I go a year without reading Frankenstein? Maybe? But why would I want to do something like that?! This is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite books!
**I would LOVE to reread Jane Eyre this year!

Cartier's Ring - A Novel of Canada by Pearson Moore

The premise of this book appealed to me because of the inclusion of Native American history which is a favorite sub-genre.  I wasn’t disappointed in the large dose of historical facts that flowed throughout the book, just the constant immersion in them and my inability to keep track of who was who and how the countless characters were related.   The inclusion of conflict with French traders added even more names to remember, yet introduced me to a period in history of which I knew little.  
 
The main character, Myeerah, fails to find acceptance with the tribe with whom she resides because she’s was born to a different one.  The story centers around her and her desire to shoot, ride, and assume the role of a warrior—desires that dominate her thoughts and set her aside from other Indian maidens.  The author’s writing is crisp, clean and very picturesque, which lends to the reader assuming a role in the story, although, in my opinion, often a confused one.  The use of various Indian dialects and a mixture of tenses in the presentation caused me to often close the book and return at a later time.
 
 Mr. Moore has done extensive research and written a book guaranteed to introduce or reacquaint you with details you might not know or remember from high school.  I found myself lost quite a few times and had to go back and re-read portions of the book to keep the characters and their POVs straight in my mind.  More than anything, I appreciated the detailed glimpses into the life, history and beliefs of the tribes featured in the novel. I enjoyed being part of the story in that respect.
 
Comprehension issues are often not the fault of the author, but rather the reader, however in perusing other reviews Mr. Moore has received, I see I’m not the only person to touch on the countless names and POV issues in the book.  Regardless, I invite you to read and make your own judgments.  Clearly, Mr. Moore is a talented author who believes in maintaining his historical credibility and has garnered many favored reviews.  I wouldn't hesitate to read more of his work and hopefully find fewer characters he believes vital to the story.  I also apologize to Mr. Moore for the prolonged period between receiving his work and performing my review.  Health issues kept me sidelined for a time.
The premise of this book appealed to me because of the inclusion of Native American history which is a favorite sub-genre.  I wasn’t disappointed in the large dose of historical facts that flowed throughout the book, just the constant immersion in them and my inability to keep track of who was who and how the countless characters were related.   The inclusion of conflict with French traders added even more names to remember, yet introduced me to a period in history of which I knew little.  
 
The main character, Myeerah, fails to find acceptance with the tribe with whom she resides because she’s was born to a different one.  The story centers around her and her desire to shoot, ride, and assume the role of a warrior—desires that dominate her thoughts and set her aside from other Indian maidens.  The author’s writing is crisp, clean and very picturesque, which lends to the reader assuming a role in the story, although, in my opinion, often a confused one.  The use of various Indian dialects and a mixture of tenses in the presentation caused me to often close the book and return at a later time.
 
 Mr. Moore has done extensive research and written a book guaranteed to introduce or reacquaint you with details you might not know or remember from high school.  I found myself lost quite a few times and had to go back and re-read portions of the book to keep the characters and their POVs straight in my mind.  More than anything, I appreciated the detailed glimpses into the life, history and beliefs of the tribes featured in the novel. I enjoyed being part of the story in that respect.
 
Comprehension issues are often not the fault of the author, but rather the reader, however in perusing other reviews Mr. Moore has received, I see I’m not the only person to touch on the countless names and POV issues in the book.  Regardless, I invite you to read and make your own judgments.  Clearly, Mr. Moore is a talented author who believes in maintaining his historical credibility and has garnered many favored reviews.  I wouldn't hesitate to read more of his work and hopefully find fewer characters he believes vital to the story.  I also apologize to Mr. Moore for the prolonged period between receiving his work and performing my review.  Health issues kept me sidelined for a time.

A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther by Joan Wolf

A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther

You've read it as a biblical tale of courage. Experience it anew as a heart-stirring love story. An inspired re-imagining of the tale of Esther, a young Jewish woman thrust from a life of obscurity into a life of power, wealth, intrigue . . . and tender love. Imagine anew the story of Esther, one of our faith's great heroines, destined to play a key role in the history of Christianity. She was a simple girl faced with an impossible choice. He was a magnificent king with a lonely heart. Their love was the divine surprise that changed the course of history. The beloved story of Esther springs to fresh life in this inspired novel that vibrates with mystery, intrigue, and romance. See the story of Esther in an entirely new way-with all the political intrigue and tension you remember, but told as a passionate and tender love story between a young man and woman. Misunderstood by many, King Xerxes was a powerful but lonely man. Esther's beauty caught the eye of the young king, but it was her spirit that captured his heart. 

The story of Esther in the Bible is inspirational. In the year 485 BC, Esther is a young Persian woman with Jewish roots. When the King of Persia repudiates his first wife, Vashti, he begins a search for a new wife. Young women from all corners of the kingdom eagerly attend hoping to be the one the king will choose. Although unwilling at first, Esther’s guardians encourage her to vie for his attention so that she might influence him to keep the Jews from destruction. Esther enters the harem, and much to everyone’s surprise, it is she who fascinates the King and ultimately wins his heart. However, she must keep her Jewish roots a secret from her new husband, at great risk to herself.

In A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther, author Joan Wolf gives a fascinating recounting of this intriguing Bible story. She writes in an easy to read, unencumbered style that allows you to fall into the story easily. I enjoyed the story very much. The beautiful cover art drew me to the novel, but it was the story and easy prose that kept me turning pages. The love story between Esther and the King was brilliantly depicted, as was all the intrigue and power struggles. Esther is an endearing character who goes against all Jewish practices to live an opulent life, very different from the simple life she is used to. This is great Christian fiction – tale of destiny and courage, and sweet love.
A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther

You've read it as a biblical tale of courage. Experience it anew as a heart-stirring love story. An inspired re-imagining of the tale of Esther, a young Jewish woman thrust from a life of obscurity into a life of power, wealth, intrigue . . . and tender love. Imagine anew the story of Esther, one of our faith's great heroines, destined to play a key role in the history of Christianity. She was a simple girl faced with an impossible choice. He was a magnificent king with a lonely heart. Their love was the divine surprise that changed the course of history. The beloved story of Esther springs to fresh life in this inspired novel that vibrates with mystery, intrigue, and romance. See the story of Esther in an entirely new way-with all the political intrigue and tension you remember, but told as a passionate and tender love story between a young man and woman. Misunderstood by many, King Xerxes was a powerful but lonely man. Esther's beauty caught the eye of the young king, but it was her spirit that captured his heart. 

The story of Esther in the Bible is inspirational. In the year 485 BC, Esther is a young Persian woman with Jewish roots. When the King of Persia repudiates his first wife, Vashti, he begins a search for a new wife. Young women from all corners of the kingdom eagerly attend hoping to be the one the king will choose. Although unwilling at first, Esther’s guardians encourage her to vie for his attention so that she might influence him to keep the Jews from destruction. Esther enters the harem, and much to everyone’s surprise, it is she who fascinates the King and ultimately wins his heart. However, she must keep her Jewish roots a secret from her new husband, at great risk to herself.

In A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther, author Joan Wolf gives a fascinating recounting of this intriguing Bible story. She writes in an easy to read, unencumbered style that allows you to fall into the story easily. I enjoyed the story very much. The beautiful cover art drew me to the novel, but it was the story and easy prose that kept me turning pages. The love story between Esther and the King was brilliantly depicted, as was all the intrigue and power struggles. Esther is an endearing character who goes against all Jewish practices to live an opulent life, very different from the simple life she is used to. This is great Christian fiction – tale of destiny and courage, and sweet love.

Review: Bloodlines

Bloodlines
By Richelle Mead
Publication date: August 23, 2011

My review:

In this spin-off from the Vampire Academy series, Alchemist Sydney Sage is given the assignment of going undercover as a student at a private school. She is to pose as sister to Moroi Jill Mastrano along with Jill's guardian Eddie, and Keith, a fellow Alchemist. Jill's life is in danger and the only way to keep her safe is to go into hiding among humans. Sydney has her hands full with keeping the other humans from noticing that Jill is different, helping Jill adjust to a daylight schedule, and watching for threats. She also has to contend with a very moody Adrian Ivashkov and Keith's antagonism. When someone begins murdering Moroi, Sydney realizes that she may be in over her head.

Bloodlines is in some ways very different from the Vampire Academy books. For one thing, the main character is a human. Sydney is not super strong and skilled in physical combat. She is more of a calm intellectual. In contrast, Rose was the kind of character who took action first.  Sydney shows fear and uncertainty and it is a little easier to relate to her because of this. At times, her lack of faith in herself was annoying but I understood that she acts that way because of her unfortunate upbringing. It is nice to see her grow more confident through her interactions with Jill, Eddie, Adrian, and others.  Another difference between this series and the VA series is the lack of romance for the main character. Sydney grew up training as an Alchemist and had no time to pursue romance. She also has slim pickings as she is averse to dating vampires. There are hints at future romance for Sydney down the road but fans of the steamy and stormy romance between Dimitri and Rose may be disappointed.

While Bloodlines is different, it also brings back some characters. It was great to read about Adrian and Eddie again and there were even cameo appearances from Rose and Abe. (For those who miss Dimitri, he has a very tiny cameo and will be back for the sequel.) I found myself liking Adrian more than ever in this book. There are some new characters introduced including Sydney's sister Zoe who I think will have a role in later books and another Alchemist, Keith Darnell. I liked learning more about the Alchemists though I didn't find their world as fascinating as the Moroi and dhampir. Just like the original series, Bloodlines is packed with action and plot twists. While I was able to guess some of the twists, I was also surprised by some things. There are some new revelations that will impact the series going forward. I had some reservations about Bloodlines at first but in the end I was very pleased with it and can't wait to read The Golden Lily.

Bloodlines
By Richelle Mead
Publication date: August 23, 2011

My review:

In this spin-off from the Vampire Academy series, Alchemist Sydney Sage is given the assignment of going undercover as a student at a private school. She is to pose as sister to Moroi Jill Mastrano along with Jill's guardian Eddie, and Keith, a fellow Alchemist. Jill's life is in danger and the only way to keep her safe is to go into hiding among humans. Sydney has her hands full with keeping the other humans from noticing that Jill is different, helping Jill adjust to a daylight schedule, and watching for threats. She also has to contend with a very moody Adrian Ivashkov and Keith's antagonism. When someone begins murdering Moroi, Sydney realizes that she may be in over her head.

Bloodlines is in some ways very different from the Vampire Academy books. For one thing, the main character is a human. Sydney is not super strong and skilled in physical combat. She is more of a calm intellectual. In contrast, Rose was the kind of character who took action first.  Sydney shows fear and uncertainty and it is a little easier to relate to her because of this. At times, her lack of faith in herself was annoying but I understood that she acts that way because of her unfortunate upbringing. It is nice to see her grow more confident through her interactions with Jill, Eddie, Adrian, and others.  Another difference between this series and the VA series is the lack of romance for the main character. Sydney grew up training as an Alchemist and had no time to pursue romance. She also has slim pickings as she is averse to dating vampires. There are hints at future romance for Sydney down the road but fans of the steamy and stormy romance between Dimitri and Rose may be disappointed.

While Bloodlines is different, it also brings back some characters. It was great to read about Adrian and Eddie again and there were even cameo appearances from Rose and Abe. (For those who miss Dimitri, he has a very tiny cameo and will be back for the sequel.) I found myself liking Adrian more than ever in this book. There are some new characters introduced including Sydney's sister Zoe who I think will have a role in later books and another Alchemist, Keith Darnell. I liked learning more about the Alchemists though I didn't find their world as fascinating as the Moroi and dhampir. Just like the original series, Bloodlines is packed with action and plot twists. While I was able to guess some of the twists, I was also surprised by some things. There are some new revelations that will impact the series going forward. I had some reservations about Bloodlines at first but in the end I was very pleased with it and can't wait to read The Golden Lily.

Sisters of Fortune by Jehanne Wake

Sisters of Fortune: America’s Caton Sisters at Home and Abroad is an in-depth look at the lives of four siblings who formed the backbone of wealth, politics and society in the nineteenth century.
Told from the perspective of previously unpublished letters written by the Caton family and detailing intimate facts and family history, Author, Jehanne Wake displays her flawless research and writing ability.
Marianne, Bess, Louisa and Emily Caton were born, bred and raised in Maryland, primarily by their wealthy grandfather, Charles Carroll, the sole Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.  Only because of his influence, wealth, and connections, were these sisters able to travel extensively, be exposed to impressive members of society, and gain their own financial security.  The lives of each sister is thoroughly chronicled in this interesting novel, complete with photographs.
Although my preference in reading novels are ones written in third person, I was deeply impressed with the factual display of information uncovered by Ms. Wake in this historical biography, specifically the last chapter which acknowledges the numerous avenues she traversed to write this book.  The Caton sisters were able to become influential, educated, and involved in politics and financial decisions long before other women of their time.  Opinionated, free-spirited and considered beautiful and charming, the Caton sisters rocked not only the US but England and France, overcoming prejudices and achieving enviable social status. This novel allows readers a glimpse into their personal lives and romances. 
The reading of this book was quite a different venture for me, but one I enjoyed and recommend.  The experience uncovered feelings of pride in a sisterhood that paved the way for females in today’s political and financial world. I wonder what the sisters would think  if they were alive and recognized their contributions.  To the author, I say, "Well done, Ms. Wake, well done!"
Sisters of Fortune: America’s Caton Sisters at Home and Abroad is an in-depth look at the lives of four siblings who formed the backbone of wealth, politics and society in the nineteenth century.
Told from the perspective of previously unpublished letters written by the Caton family and detailing intimate facts and family history, Author, Jehanne Wake displays her flawless research and writing ability.
Marianne, Bess, Louisa and Emily Caton were born, bred and raised in Maryland, primarily by their wealthy grandfather, Charles Carroll, the sole Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.  Only because of his influence, wealth, and connections, were these sisters able to travel extensively, be exposed to impressive members of society, and gain their own financial security.  The lives of each sister is thoroughly chronicled in this interesting novel, complete with photographs.
Although my preference in reading novels are ones written in third person, I was deeply impressed with the factual display of information uncovered by Ms. Wake in this historical biography, specifically the last chapter which acknowledges the numerous avenues she traversed to write this book.  The Caton sisters were able to become influential, educated, and involved in politics and financial decisions long before other women of their time.  Opinionated, free-spirited and considered beautiful and charming, the Caton sisters rocked not only the US but England and France, overcoming prejudices and achieving enviable social status. This novel allows readers a glimpse into their personal lives and romances. 
The reading of this book was quite a different venture for me, but one I enjoyed and recommend.  The experience uncovered feelings of pride in a sisterhood that paved the way for females in today’s political and financial world. I wonder what the sisters would think  if they were alive and recognized their contributions.  To the author, I say, "Well done, Ms. Wake, well done!"

Pocket Guide to Sheds

Thorburn, Gordon
Pocket Guide to Sheds.
ISBN/Cat.No 9781844681273 UK
ISBN-10 1844681270
Title Pocket Guide to Sheds
Author/Artist Thorburn, Gordon
Publisher Remember When (Pen & Sword Books Ltd)
Format Paperback; H:216; W:138; 160p.; 164 images integrated B&W
Status In print
Publication Date 16/06/2011
Availability 24 - 48 Hours
Price £12.99£9.09
Primary Subject Gardening
Secondary Subject Places & peoples: general interest
Readership General/trade
Thorburn, Gordon
Pocket Guide to Sheds.
ISBN/Cat.No 9781844681273 UK
ISBN-10 1844681270
Title Pocket Guide to Sheds
Author/Artist Thorburn, Gordon
Publisher Remember When (Pen & Sword Books Ltd)
Format Paperback; H:216; W:138; 160p.; 164 images integrated B&W
Status In print
Publication Date 16/06/2011
Availability 24 - 48 Hours
Price £12.99£9.09
Primary Subject Gardening
Secondary Subject Places & peoples: general interest
Readership General/trade

Covenant with the Vampire by Jeanne Kalogridis

Wow! What a novel! Simply unbelievable! This is a novel that left me breathless, turning the pages until long into the night. It is the first book of a trilogy. Without doubt, this trilogy is the most beautifully written vampire novels ever written. Through beautiful and profound prose, and in diary format, Jeanne Kalogridis reveals the story of Arkady Tsepesh and how he and his pregnant wife return to Transyvannia after the death of his father. The firstborn heir is expected to be the main council or aid to patriarch/uncle Vlad Dracula. Strange, evil, horrifying things begin to occur immediately, setting the grim, tense mood that only grows more intense until the end of the book.
Covenenant with the Vampire is intended to be a prelude to Bram Stoker's Dracula. She writes in the same style as the classic author, but her prose far supercedes that of SToker (Sorry Bram - but with Jeanne you've met your match!) If you like a book filled with the odd and unusual that will shock and horrify you with its evil darkness as innocents try to overcome the evil Vlad, then this is a must, must read. A roller coaster ride that sends one chill up your spin just as another begins! Get it - I really mean it. The best vampire stories currently available bar none!
Wow! What a novel! Simply unbelievable! This is a novel that left me breathless, turning the pages until long into the night. It is the first book of a trilogy. Without doubt, this trilogy is the most beautifully written vampire novels ever written. Through beautiful and profound prose, and in diary format, Jeanne Kalogridis reveals the story of Arkady Tsepesh and how he and his pregnant wife return to Transyvannia after the death of his father. The firstborn heir is expected to be the main council or aid to patriarch/uncle Vlad Dracula. Strange, evil, horrifying things begin to occur immediately, setting the grim, tense mood that only grows more intense until the end of the book.
Covenenant with the Vampire is intended to be a prelude to Bram Stoker's Dracula. She writes in the same style as the classic author, but her prose far supercedes that of SToker (Sorry Bram - but with Jeanne you've met your match!) If you like a book filled with the odd and unusual that will shock and horrify you with its evil darkness as innocents try to overcome the evil Vlad, then this is a must, must read. A roller coaster ride that sends one chill up your spin just as another begins! Get it - I really mean it. The best vampire stories currently available bar none!

Icons of Mens Style

Sims, Josh
Icons of Mens Style.
ISBN/Cat.No 9781856697224 UK
ISBN-10 1856697223
Title Icons of Mens Style
Author/Artist Sims, Josh
Publisher Laurence King Publishing
Format Paperback; H:280; W:197; D:23; 192p.; 264 illustrations, 173 in colour
Status Reprinting - no date
Publication Date 25/04/2011
Availability Unavailable
Price £19.95
Primary Subject Fashion design
Secondary Subject Costume
Readership General/trade
Summary
Womenswear progresses in leaps and bounds, fuelled by the readiness of women to wear what may at the time be perceived as the radical or outrageous. Not so with menswear menswear evolves, slowly. But from what? Behind nearly every item in the modern male wardrobe is a first of its kind the definitive item, often designed by a single company or brand for specialist use, on which all subsequent versions have been based (and originals of which are now collector items in the booming vintage market). The T-shirt, for example, may now be an innocuous, everyday item, but was created by American company Hanes for US Navy personnel at the turn of the 20th century and was subsequently adopted by sportsmen and bikers. Other items have been designed for sport, farm work, protection and made their way into everyday usage. "Icons of Men's Style" examines, garment by garment, the most important and famous of these products their provenance and history, the stories of their design, the brand/company that started it all and how the item shaped the way men dress today.
 
Contents
The Outerwear Department: The Mac * The Flight Jacket * The Navy Pea Coat * The Biker Jacket * The Utility Jacket * The Waxed Jacket * The Trench Coat * The Car Mac * The Western Denim Jacket * The Farmhand Denim Jacket * The Battledress * The Covert Coat * The Fishtail Parka * The Harrington The Trouser Department: The Combat Trousers * The Khakis * The Five Pocket Western Jeans * The Dungarees Tailoring: The Bespoke Suit* The Dinner Suit* The Blazer* The Sack Suit* The Ready-to-Wear Suit* The Tweed Jacket The Shoe Department: The Brogue * The Basketball Shoe * The Original Desert Boot * The Work Boot * The Loafer * The Oil Resistant Shoe * The Sandal Underwear and Hosiery: Diamond Socks * The Y-front * The T-shirt * The Panama Hat * The Boxer Short * The Braces Shirts and Sweaters Department: The Button-down Shirt * The Guernsey Sweater * The Breton Sweater * The Polo Shirt * The V-neck Sweater Accessories: The Fountain Pen * The Classic Lighter * The Windproof Lighter * The Dress Watch * The Action Watch * The Aviator Sunglasses * The Leisure Sunglasses
Sims, Josh
Icons of Mens Style.
ISBN/Cat.No 9781856697224 UK
ISBN-10 1856697223
Title Icons of Mens Style
Author/Artist Sims, Josh
Publisher Laurence King Publishing
Format Paperback; H:280; W:197; D:23; 192p.; 264 illustrations, 173 in colour
Status Reprinting - no date
Publication Date 25/04/2011
Availability Unavailable
Price £19.95
Primary Subject Fashion design
Secondary Subject Costume
Readership General/trade
Summary
Womenswear progresses in leaps and bounds, fuelled by the readiness of women to wear what may at the time be perceived as the radical or outrageous. Not so with menswear menswear evolves, slowly. But from what? Behind nearly every item in the modern male wardrobe is a first of its kind the definitive item, often designed by a single company or brand for specialist use, on which all subsequent versions have been based (and originals of which are now collector items in the booming vintage market). The T-shirt, for example, may now be an innocuous, everyday item, but was created by American company Hanes for US Navy personnel at the turn of the 20th century and was subsequently adopted by sportsmen and bikers. Other items have been designed for sport, farm work, protection and made their way into everyday usage. "Icons of Men's Style" examines, garment by garment, the most important and famous of these products their provenance and history, the stories of their design, the brand/company that started it all and how the item shaped the way men dress today.
 
Contents
The Outerwear Department: The Mac * The Flight Jacket * The Navy Pea Coat * The Biker Jacket * The Utility Jacket * The Waxed Jacket * The Trench Coat * The Car Mac * The Western Denim Jacket * The Farmhand Denim Jacket * The Battledress * The Covert Coat * The Fishtail Parka * The Harrington The Trouser Department: The Combat Trousers * The Khakis * The Five Pocket Western Jeans * The Dungarees Tailoring: The Bespoke Suit* The Dinner Suit* The Blazer* The Sack Suit* The Ready-to-Wear Suit* The Tweed Jacket The Shoe Department: The Brogue * The Basketball Shoe * The Original Desert Boot * The Work Boot * The Loafer * The Oil Resistant Shoe * The Sandal Underwear and Hosiery: Diamond Socks * The Y-front * The T-shirt * The Panama Hat * The Boxer Short * The Braces Shirts and Sweaters Department: The Button-down Shirt * The Guernsey Sweater * The Breton Sweater * The Polo Shirt * The V-neck Sweater Accessories: The Fountain Pen * The Classic Lighter * The Windproof Lighter * The Dress Watch * The Action Watch * The Aviator Sunglasses * The Leisure Sunglasses
 
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