Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"The Boleyn Wife" by Brandy Purdy


* * * *

Three covers, two titles, one good book.  "The Boleyn Wife" by Brandy Purdy will be available in February 2010 as a re-issue of the originally self published title "Vengence Is Mine". The photos above depict the original self-published cover, the new US edition cover and, on the bottom, the British cover.

I have always been fascinated by the purported strong relationship that Anne Boleyn had with her brother George. Jane Parker, Lady Rochford, wife to George  Boleyn, Lord Rochford has always been mentioned in the history books as an afterthought. Indeed, I don't think that there is a lot of factual information to be had about Jane Parker - women themselves, unless famous, were more or less afterthoughts in Tudor times!

I am an avid reader of both history and historical fiction - and am always enthralled by anything Tudor. This book was no exception! The book draws on history to tell the tale of Jane Parker  who, through an arranged marriage, became wife to George Boleyn.  Jane paled in comparison to the fiery spirit of Anne Boleyn - George's sister and wife to England's notorious King Henry VIII. As Anne's star rises in the Court, Jane's resentment grows and she begins to plot her revenge. Ultimately, it is Jane's spurious charges, of adultery and incest with her brother George that brings about Anne's downfall. Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector is the person that Jane turns to. She unfurls her plot - making allegations to Cromwell that will ultimately cause the downfall of both Anne and George as well as the other courtiers who were alleged by Janeto have been Anne's lovers. Jane erroneously thought that by arranging to have Anne out of the picture she would, at last, have George's attentions all to herself. Wrong! George, always proclaiming his innocence and remaining true to his sister, goes to the block just short of Anne's own appointment with the swordsman.

Free of Anne - and her husband, Jane is sent from Court but she is soon brought back to Court to attend to Henry's newest bride, Anna of Cleves. Anna of Cleves is the only one of King Henry's wives prior to his last wife, Katherine Parr, to keep her head because Henry's dislike of her results in Anna's becoming the King's 'beloved sister". Their marriage is annulled -  freeing Henry to marry once again. Henry's next marriage, to the very young Katherine Howard,  finds Jane ready to serve once again and Jane becomes the go-between, arranging clandestine meetings between Katherine and her love, Thomas Culpepper. Ultimately,when the affair is exposed to King Henry,  Jane Parker Boleyn herself along with Queen Katherine, becomes a victim of the swordsman's axe.

This book is, we must remember, historical fiction. When I read a historical fiction book I like to reference the true history to see where the author remains true to the facts and where the true facts diverge and become true fiction. I don't expect a work of historical fiction to read like a history book. It is true that there are places in this book where scenes are invented and/or extrapolated. I anticipate this in a work of fiction. Indeed it is works of fiction that originally spurred my fascination with the Tudor period as a youngster and fanned my desire to read the true historical books about the period later on. I remain Tudor smitten.

I find it unfortunate that the new publisher chose a cover that sports an image that is somewhat tawdry and most definitely not in period garb. It reminds me too much of bodice ripper's like some of the Harlequin series. I much prefer the original, self-published cover - or the British edition's cover. It is an unfortunate fact of a literary life that, once a publisher accepts a book for publication, author's have little input into cover selection. I can't think what the publisher was thinking when they chose this one.

Nonetheless, under the cover this book is an enjoyable read; it's fast paced and will hold your attention. I recommend this book for all 'Tudor-philes' and for everyone who enjoy historical fiction and who can accept it as fiction based on some historical events rather than history that reads like fiction. I think everyone who buys this book will enjoy it quite well!

Monday, December 28, 2009

'Quilts, Baby' by Linda Kopp

please note that all phtos may be doubled clicked for a better view!
 * * * * *

I could use many words as descriptors about this book. Delightful, refreshing, enchanting , appealing -  and, simply, one of the best little quilt books I have come across in a long while.  I was not sure that I would be the best reviewer for this book because I don't make a lot of baby quilts any more. Boy! Am I ever glad I decided to have a look! This is one of those books that screams originality.  The patterns are simple - and simple is a favorite with me - but each quilt also features the addition of something that makes the quilt special, endearing and enchanting.

Just look at some of the names of the quilts in the 'contents' section! Just plain fun! The beginning of the book focuses on a very well thought out 'quilting basics' section. The book is also peppered with great short-cut ideas. A combination of captivating hand drawn images as well as photographs makes reading the directions, for the 'basics' as well as for the quilts totally enjoyable. Quilt directions are beautifully done - exemplars of the quilts are shown  in sketches as well as photographs and you glean information about the special talents of each of the quilt designers featured in the book.

The books contains 12 simple quilt designs - each of which has an added, endearing, element. Folk artsy, colorful, embroidered and unique additions to each design makes these simple quilts stand out. The ideas are, of course, great for a child - but also for the adults in the crowd who look for a touch of whimsy in their lives! The designs are great for beginner's, especially with the wonderful 'basics' chapter to guide them, but also would be winner's for adults as well.

 There are also lots of tips and tricks for applique, embroidery, quilting, bindings and how to add fun elements like small pockets.

This book makes me smile. It makes me want to put more fun back into my quilting. I have always thought that rules are made to be fiddled with (once you know the basics anyway) and this book , I think, proves me right. This is one book that will please quilters of all ages - and I am certain that if you buy it - you will find yourself smiling too!

This book was provided to me by the publisher for review purposes only - no other remuneration was received

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme,
hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. 
Anyone can play along!
Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read

  • Open to a random page

  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

  • "...she was attractie, but not in a conventional way - not eratinly like the profusion of young women at
    Prince Farnz' ball in Paris, She wore a dress and a cloak of light brown silk, and her chestnut hair was puled back from her face. She used little of the heavy powder and rouge much favored by thew ladies Baptise had known thus far. Her face was fair, her cheeks a healthy pink and her full lips plum hued....she wore a singe oval brooch .."

    From:  Across the Endless River
    By:      Thad Carhart
                308 pages


    Monday, December 14, 2009

    "The Queen's Mistake: In The Court Of Henry VIII" " By Diane Haeger

    * *  *  *  *  

    Over the last couple of days I have been able to read a couple of very good historical fictions reads - as well as a couple of exciting new quilting books - so hang on!

    I had actually started "Her Mother's Daughter" - the new book out by Julianne Lee, but when I picked up "The Queen's Mistake" I felt compelled to read it through. This book had been chosen as a Tudor group read over at Good Reads. I knew very little about Queen Catherine Howard so this was a nice, easy read to get me ready for some more nuts and bolts historical fact finding later on. I actually stayed up late each night reading this book - which in and of itself comes as a high recommendation from me. I need my 'sanity' rest more than most!

    The most significant impression that I have been left with from the recent spate of historical fiction reading that I have been doing  is the utterly deplorable women that women were treated. They were nothing more than pawns and chattles in the greater scheme of the male dominated politics. of the day. With no real power of their own,  no property or monies at their personal disposals - their lives were lived at the will  & whimsey of powerful men - most usually male family members. Love had nothing to do with marriage - alliances were all powerful.  The one area where I have found, perhaps, some dissension about the laws of matrimony was possibly during the early years of Queen Eleanor Of Acquitaine. It appears that for at least a part of her reign, and possibly that of he mother and grandmother, Dangereuse, matrimony was a civil affair - not bound by the usual strictures of church sanctioned marriage - but that discussion must be for another day.

    Catherine Howard was literally foist upon Henry VIII by her strong Howard relatives. Eager to redeem themselves from the taint of the diastrous marriage of Henry to Anne Boleyn (another Howard cousin) they were bound and determined to have Catherine front and center in the marriage dance. as Henry prepared to anull his marriage with Anne of Cleves. An enraptured Henry would mean greater glory for the Howard family as a whole.  No matter that Catherine and a young courtier, Thomas Culpepper, had fallen madly in love, Catherine was made to do her duty with an aging and infirm King - all for the glory of family. I find it amazing really, reading many Tudor era biographies that young people then were as mature as they were. Of course life spans were so much shorter that it stands to reason that they had a need to grow up quickly, produce progeny and, if very lucky, have a second chance at a marriage for love. It was indeed, a very dangerous time to be alive. Catherine was a teenager when Henry noticed her and it is normal that teens of any era would be fond of experimenting and pushing envelopes. Catherine Howard was, I believe just trying to carve out a smal bit of happiness for herself with her lover, Culpepper. Of course, Henry being the maniacal whim murderer that he was, could see nothing other that infidelity. Cathrine never had a chance with him.  He had called Catherine his "rose without a thorn" and, once his rose grew a thorn he felt that he had to choie but to excise it.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was was crafted, built on some strong historical footings and kept my interest until the very last page. Highly recommended and with 5 stars because I couldn't put it down!

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Teaser Tuesday

    Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme,
    hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. 
    Anyone can play along!
    Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read

  • Open to a random page

  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

  • Here goes !

    " ...Mary's interest perked. To sign the Submission unread then sign a statement to the effect that she had not read it before signing would not be a lie, and it would clear her of treason. She reached for the paper and turned it towards herself, but carefully, touching only the edge with the tip of her finger, as if it were dirty and she did not wish to smudge herself. Argument could be made that she knew the contents of the Submission, but this statement drafted by Chapuys only referred to the reading of the thing, not the understanding of it..."


    Sunday, December 6, 2009

    "The Sustainable Network" by Sarah Sorensen

    I am always interested in books that make a case for sustainability – some of these books are dry as unbuttered toast, some posit the same suggestions that have been made time after time – few come up with anything novel. This book does just that.  In her book, “The Sustainable Network: The Accidental Answer for a Troubled Planet”, Sarah Sorensen suggests how networking can help to amplify the small things that each of us can do to aid our ailing planet.

    Ms. Sorensen first defines her terms – networking meaning not only in terms of computers but also in terms of each and every one of and the influence we can have on others can be used to effect changes on the enviroment, technology, as well as social issues.

    Some verbiage taken directly from The publisher, O’Rielly’s, states the books strong points best perhaps:

        1.Discover how the sustainable network connects us all, with examples of how it's already effecting change

        2.Understand how this network magnifies the impact of even the smallest change and newest idea

       3.Explore the role that various market and political forces play

        4. Learn how the network can be improved to better address environmental, economic, and social conditions
    5.       Get practical advice that you or your business can follow now

    Another interesting idea that Ms Sorensen postulates is that increasing available band width will make the internet, networking, more easily available to people, businesses and governments – which, she believes, will lead to ‘faster innovation’. Interesting concept – and ,perhaps, correct.

    As I understand this book, we can all be considered as spokes on a wheel – all of us are part of that network. The books calls each of us, every person, very business and every government , to take up a role in enabling the network as a whole to use it’s cumulative power to effect positive changed for out planet.

    I liked this book more than I thought I would. In places it is a bit dry but all in all it is a very readable, very positive book that I think belongs on many bookshelves. Each of us, as part of a whole network, can effect positive change one step at a time.


    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    "One Yard Wonders" by Rebecca Yaker & Patricia Hoskins

    * * * *
    Please remember that all of the photos can be double clicked on for a better view

    I was not quite sure just what I would think of this book when I first saw. I think I was leery of the title - only because I tend to dislike titles like ' fast, fun easy' or fun & quick'. Don;' get me wrong we all need a quick fix at times and more or less instant result can be a very good thing sometimes too...I am just one of those people who stills likes real letters and finds more comfort in slow cloth than quick and easy.

    Although it is difficult to see in this photo - 
    the pattern pieces for some of the projects are happily 
    ensconced in a nice pocket on the inside front cover.

    The first thing I noticed about this book is it's quality. It's a nice size, the paper is high quality and the cover spiral binding is very well made - these are things that I so look for in books - and yes, I am a page 'sniffer'. I love the smell of ink on paper - and I can be critical of paper color and paper quality - the latter especially in hard-covered books or those books that are made to get a lot of use. Of course the next thing that I looked at were - what else?! - the patterns. The patterns are divided into sections with titles such as "On The Go" (bags, lunch bags, lap top covers etc), "Household Affairs" (tea cozies,aprons, hot& cold packs), "Outfit Your Small Wonder" (obviously geared to clothing for your own little one). There are patterns for dog couture items, toys for children, great shopping bags and a wealth of small projects that really can be made with just a yard of fabric. Also included are things like sewing fundamentals - good for beginners or as a refresher for those of us with older cloth fixations. A couple of the 'patterns' are more like instructions for doing things like covering a cork board or scale with fabric. No necessarily sewing projects but they can be done with a yard or less of fabric.

    Some of these projects are for things that we could all probably figure out how to make. I don't know about you , but there are times when I am thrilled not to have to re-invent the wheel - and enjoy the fruits of what others have made pattern for so that I can save my brain cells  for the more involved projects that I barely have to complete as it is. Simple and right in front of me with a "how-to" can be a real time save.

    Have a look at this! 
    You can enter to win free yardage for a year.... now that's a cool thing!

    I really liked this project for an obi inspired hot and cold pack

    This little 'catch all' holder called an 'Origami Organizer'
    is a very interesting project that I am going to have to try.

    I have been on a kick to find good looking alternatives to to the now ubiquitous grocery store provided 'green' bag. This book includes two patterns that are good. The one above is a bag that will fold in on itself for easy storage - making it easy to always have a shopping bag with you. The photo on the bottom is just a regular shaped bag and it is one of those patterns that I am glad is included so that I don't have to go and do the measuring to make the pattern myself. Easy!

    Dog Couture - how cute!

    I thought this little apron or smock for a wee one was just adorable.

    All in all I really like this book a lot and will highly recommend it. It seems to have something that will please everyone and is one of those books that will be a good resource and reference book - and yes, it does hold a lot of things that could be termed "fast, fun and fabulous" ! Give it a try - I don't think that you will be disappointed.

    Note: This book was provided to me by the publisher for reviewing purposed. No other remuneration was received.

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    "O! Juliet" by Robin Maxwell

     * * *

    I had just finished a book and looked at the rather tall stack of books on my shelf. What to read?! I had been very in lucky to be able to get an ARC of O! Juliet and I picked it up half expecting that I would put it down momentarily and select another book because I was not in the mood for a re-read of Shakespeare. I found, however, that I couldn't put the book down and I read til the wee hours.

    Yes, as  you may read from other reviews on other sites , the character of  Mr.Strozzi is over stated and yes there are far too many references to his yellow teeth and his bad breath - he's the quintessential bad sort of dude. There is also some rather goofy poetry included in the book. It's a lightweight, easy read with characters who are somewhat predictable I suppose. No prize winning novel and not, perhaps, for those who may, because of the title, think that it will, in any way, compare to Shakespeare. It doesn't. I tend to try not to have expectations when I pick up a book other than I expect to always enjoy my favorite authors. I generally enjoy Robin Maxwell's books and although this was not, in my opinion, up to her usual standards, I found this to be very enjoyable none-the-less. I can't give it four stars because  I don't consider it to be exceptional but I can say that my three stars are solid and that this book is worth a try if you're in the mood for a light, easy to read, enjoyable book.

    Sunday, November 29, 2009

    "Scraps" by Elsebeth Gynther & Christine Clemmensen

    * * * * *

    Second to my love of historical fiction & history books  is my love for all books art & craft. I thrive on looking at a variety of different books for inspiration.

    "Scraps" by Elsebeth Gynther & Christine Clemmenson is a captivating new title from Lark Books about mixed media & collage. The subtitle of this book is ' an inspirational field guide to collage' and I think that about sums it up. The authors walk you through all of the basics of collage; what materials you need, where to find materials, the qualities of paints & other coloring methods, how to 'loosen up' & free yourself to begin your work - and finally they answer the question "when is a collage finished?" - see page 71!

    The table of contents :

    I have found several things in this book that I really want to do. I have a very special journal from Jenni Bick Book Binders that I have been hoarding for a special purpose - and I found it in 'Scraps'... make an alphabet book ! What a great idea !

    Another captivating project from the book  is  creating envelope art- this is  especially relevant to me since I have been making & mailing art cards a lot lately!

    The book guides you through issues that always come up when making collage & mixed media art. What do I do if I don't want to glue or cut a special item? Answer: sew it in! What kind of glues are best to use with special, treasured items? Answer: acid free. There is a lengthy discussion of what sort of glue is best for what & what each glue is best used for. Other sections of the book discuss paper types, composition, "first aid for collages in distress" and on & on. This is one great "go to" book for collage and mixed media enthusiasts.

    There are several pages in the book with inspired ideas for jump-starting your work; creating patterns,  & a wide variety of theme ideas. Fun things that just gets your mind in gear to make art!

    I really went over this book and tried hard to think of a reason to NOT give it five stars - but I could not think of anything the books lacks, nor anything that would have made it better or more inspiring. This really is a 5 star, gotta have book for anyone who wants to improve their collage & mixed media art work. I feel in love with this book without really meaning to ! It's an addition to your library that you won't regret!

    Note: A proof of this book was provided to me for reviewing purposes- no other remuneration was involved.

    Friday, November 27, 2009

    "The Lady In The Tower" by Alison Weir

    * * * * *

    I was thrilled to be given an opportunity to review a proof of this book! I always eagerly await the release of any book written by Alison Weir. Both her fictional works as well as her non-fiction, always well researched books, never fail to please. I am happy to be able to say that "The Lady In The Tower" has been no exception! I began to read it as soon as I got my hands on it and enjoyed this book all of the way through.

    I have long believed that Henry VIII was a narcissistic megalomaniac - especially in the way that he treated Anne Boleyn. Despite whatever faults Anne may have had, Henry quite literally, changed the course of history in order to make Anne his Queen. In this very well researched book, Ms. Weir postulates that it was, in fact, Thomas Cromwell, not King Henry himself, who was the 'pot stirrer' who trumped up the allegations made against Anne that resulted in her death. This books covers a very small window in time - 1536 - and it has been Ms. Weir's task to sift through voluminous, and sometimes very conflicting, historical accounts, reports & letters to formulate her opinion that Thomas Cromwell was the cause of Anne's meteoric fall from Henry's good graces. In referencing Anne Boleyn's inability to carry a second child, the longed for son & heir, to full term, Ms. Weir postulates a very likely theory that Anne's pregnancies were complicated by the RH negative antibody. There would have been no treatment let alone understanding for this sort of complication at this time and the theory goes a long way as an explanation for the still born son who, in effect, sealed Anne's fate.

    Ms. Wier has managed to make what really amounts to 19 days - from sham trial to execution - an engrossing read that will appeal to history lovers in general and, most especially, to those of us of thrive on Tudor and Elizabethan history. The wait for this book was worth it. I do highly recommend this book!

    Pre-order this great book from Amazon now- or at your own, great, local bookstore!

    Note: A proof of this book was provided to me for reviewing purposes- no other remuneration was involved.

    Thursday, November 26, 2009

    Historical Fiction - A Life Long Passion

    There are so many varieties of books in this wonderful world, but I have to admit that I have long been addicted to historical fiction - especially European history from the 15th through the 17 centuries . For as long as I can remember I have read books about European history -  & I can clearly recall my rather young interest in all things York & Tudor. This interest, far from waning, has grown stronger as I have gotten older. I wonder why though? I am a similar, though far less strong pull toward Oriental history - but it is Oriental art, rather than the history really, that calls to me.

    Do many of you have a particular area of history that calls to you? Does one place make you 'feel' more comfortable? I feel as though I can crawl right into a book about European, well, alright about British history, and walk right alongside the characters. Of course the skill of the author and the subject matter also goes far to holding enthralled in the pages. I don't discriminate either - I love non-fiction just about as much as fiction.

    I would love to know what sort of books you enjoy reading- and why? What kind of books " take you away"? What kind of books sing to you and make you stay up late reading them?

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    ' A Lady Raised High' by Laurian Gardner

    This book recounts the tale  of the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, and begins with Anne as she , on the route of one of her progresses, passes through the small village in which  the main character of the book, Frances Pierce, lives. The daughter of a minor baronet/farmer, Frances shields Anne from mud slinging detractors along the route. Anne takes notice of the girl who shielded her & Frances is rewarded & brought to Court to serve Anne. Frances quickly becomes a favored attendant and confidant. The rise and fall of the infamous Anne Boleyn, mother of my favorite Queen Elizabeth 1, told through the story of Frances Piece revitalizes this sometimes hackneyed tale of Queen Anne. We witness Frances becoming adjusted to the riches, power struggles & vagaries of the Court. We relive what girlhood crushes can be like & what the strength of a good marriage can bring as Frances weds one of King Henry's courtiers, Jack Carlisle and becomes the Lady Carlisle, has a son & treads  treacherous waters as Anne falls out of grace with King. It is obvious that Anne becomes jealous of Frances - Anne's marriage is falling apart whilst Frances' is growing stronger; Anne cannot  produce a son & much needed heir to the throne whilst Frances has a healthy baby boy who thrives.

    This book is really about two different ladies who were raised high; Anne Boleyn raised high by Henry VIII & Frances, raised high by Anne. I read this  book over the last two nights & I have to say that I couldn't put it down. I think that it's a refreshing take on an oft told story. Well done & highly enjoyable I definitely can recommend this as a good read - especially for Tudor era buffs and historical fiction fans.

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    Mailbox Monday: What's In Your Post Box Today?

    This last week brought quite a few new to me reads:

    1.       Banners of Gold by Pamela Kaufman
    2.      The Book Of Eleanor by Pamela Kaufman
    3.      Calligraphy Alphabets Made Easy by Margaret Shepard
    4.      Capitals For Calligraphy: A Sourcebook of Decorative Letters by Margaret Shepard
    5.      Written Letters: 33 Alphabets for Calligraphers by Jacqueline Svaren
    6.       I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles

    Thank You, again this week to Marcia of The Printed Page for hosting this really fun weekly "meme". If you'd like to see what books other bookish friends have found in their mailboxes  click on Marcia's link for a list of this weeks 'post box reporters'!

    Saturday, November 21, 2009

    "All Cakes Considered" by Melissa Gray/ Chronicle Books

    I have a self confessed sweet tooth that is most partial to cakes - rather than just sweets -candy or cookies do not hold as much appeal for me as does an ohlalala cake! Maybe I shared some cake with Marie Antoinette in a past life?! Well at any rate this is one of those cake cookbooks that you absolutley must not miss out on owning. Hurry to you local book store - or if you are isolated as I am - to your favorite on line book purveyor - and order this one up! you will not be disappointed.

    This book came about as producer Melissa Gray wends her way through a year full of cakes that pleased her fellow NPR work mates. I think that this book is notable in it's appeal not just to the seasoned cake baker but to the budding cake aesthete as Ms. Gray shares cake secrets that she has learned along the way. Interesting anecdotes, recipes culled from lots of places & many people. This book is exceptional and won't fail to please those of us that adore cake in all of it's sublime shapes & sizes (and who may try to hide that extra 'sliver' we ferret out the door without anyone noticing!)

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    Teaser Tuesday!

    Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, 
    hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. 

    Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
    • Grab your current read
    • Open to a random page
    • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
    • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
    • Here's mine Teaser For Tuesday !
    • "...he feared the extreme physical pain it was likely to entail, being dragged alive by horses on a hurdle over the bumpy ground from the Tower to the usual place of execution at Tyburn, a journey of some four miles. He had no way of knowing whether he would be granted the 'privilege' of decapitation....."
    From "A Daughter's Love" by John Guy.... I am really enjoying this read !

      Monday, November 16, 2009

      What Are You Reading Monday Nov 16

      It's Monday! What are you reading this week?
      is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week. Feel free to pile on a little extra.  If you'd like to join in this weekly event, please include a link to this post. That way others can find it and join in.

      1.          I am still wending my way through "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel. First person narrative is not my favorite thing. It seems like it's taking forever to get to the end of this book, but this tale is really interesting - a bird's eye of the King Henry VIII / Anne Boleyn debacle from from  Lord Cromwell's perspective for a change - the end is in sight.

      2.           "Modern Mark Making" by Lisa Englebrecht. I LOVE this book on calligraphy. I did a small review of this book on my other blog when I first got it, but I am learning so much more every time I go back to it that I may have to review it again here

       3.           AUDIO: "Mary Queen Of Scots" by Margaret George. I have no idea how this one could have escaped my earlier attention. It's wonderful - and the narrator (I use Audible) is perfect for it.

      4.           My next audio book will be "The Thrall's Tale" by Judith Lindberg. This one was recommended to me by a friend and it sounds great. Thanks Karen!

      Sunday, November 15, 2009

      Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

                                                                                           Yep! That's 5 stars!

      Who doesn't love cupcakes? I am about as far away from being a 'Martha' as far can get. Granted, I would love to be more organized and, if I had more space, I probably would be. One thing that Martha always does, however, is put out a wonderful cookbook!  I love this cupcake cookbook. There is something for everyone within it's pages from simple to super cute and fussy. I was happy to find this at our wonderful local library and can highly recommend this great  cupcake compendium! Sorry about the photos. I took them outside in as much light as possible - but there was not much on this rainy day!

      This is going to be the first thing I make from this book! I love Boston cream Pie!


      Now this is what I call fussy.
      Although I think making cupcakes that look as cute as this is cool
      I can't imagine spending the time to do this !

      These are almost wnough to make me want to go and get a baker's torch
      hummm that would be good for creme caramel too wouldn't it ?!!

      This is another favorite cupcake cookbook!
      I have repeatedly taken it out of the library -
      enough times that I really should break down and buy it one of these days!

      Saturday, November 14, 2009

      Review: "The Lie: A Novel" by Fredrica Wagman

                                                                      *   *   *   (three out of 5 stars)

      First I would like to welcome everyone to my latest blog which will be devoted entirely to books. I will be reviewing all sorts of books here &I  hope that I will offer will be something to please everyone. Please consider following me here on Books By The Willow Tree.

      My first review on my new blog is for "The Lie:A Novel" by Fredrica Wagman. I chose it because it is a book that I have been meaning to review for some time and felt that I owed it to the author and the publisher to finally review the book .

      I did not know what, exactly, I was expecting when I began reading this book but it was, surely not what I found. This book is 214 pages that recount the psychology of a girl/woman & her journey to self. Growing up with the mind set of the 50's, the books protagonist, Ramona, takes us through her life; a life in which she finds a myriad of heart break and bewilderment; loss & sorrow. From the abusive home in which Ramona grows up - the daughter of an abusive father and a narcissistic mother - to the sorrows of marriage to ' the most understanding of men ' - we view Ramona's struggle to survive her deepest pains & sorrows.

      I found this book to be unique for sure. It was dark & a bit disturbing to me. This book can be read as a metaphor for some of the struggles that women, in general, face. I am not certain that this book would be for everyone but I will say that it provides you with a lot to think about. I believe that Ms. Wagman has real talent for getting to the pith of matters and that she relates her take on things in a most unusual, beautifully written, way.