Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"The Boleyn Wife" by Brandy Purdy


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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!
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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

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    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

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    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.