Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Finds at the Bookstore: The Mercy Seller by Brenda Rickman Vantrease

Publish Date: April 2008
Format: Paperback 448pp

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
"In the fifteenth century, with religious intolerance spreading like wildfire across Europe, Englishwoman Anna Bookman and her grandfather, Finn, earn a living in Prague by illuminating precious books---including forbidden translations of the Bible. As their secret trade grows ever more hazardous, Finn urges Anna to seek sanctuary in England. Her passage abroad, however, will be anything but easy.
Meanwhile, a priest in London, Brother Gabriel, dutifully obeys church doctrine by granting pardons . . . for a small fee. But when he is sent to France in disguise to find the source of the banned manuscripts finding their way to England, he meets Anna, who has set up a temporary stall as a bookseller. She has no way of knowing that the rich merchant frequenting her stall is actually a priest---just as he does not know that he has met the woman for whom he will renounce his church.
It is only in England, which is far from the safe harbor once imagined, that their dangerous secrets will be revealed."


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Interview with Anne Easter Smith on

The delightful historical fiction author, Anne Easter Smith, has recently been interviewed on, which you can view here: Anne Easter Smith interview.

Her lovely books, set during the Wars of the Roses, currently include:
A Rose for the Crown Daughter of York cover Book cover image for The Kings Grace

and soon to be published (May 2011):
Queen By Right  cover

Be sure to check back for more information about these intriguing novels!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Book Review: The Secret Eleanor by Cecelia Holland

Cover Image
Publish Date: August 2010
Format: Paperback 368pp

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
"Eleanor of Aquitaine seized hold of life in the 12th century in a way any modern woman would envy! 
1151: As Duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor grew up knowing what it was to be regarded for herself and not for her husband's title. Now, as wife to Louis VII and Queen of France, she has found herself unsatisfied with reflected glory-and feeling constantly under threat, even though she outranks every woman in Paris. 
Then, standing beside her much older husband in the course of a court ceremony, Eleanor locks eyes with a man-hardly more than a boy, really- across the throne room, and knows that her world has changed irrevocably... 
He is Henry D'Anjou, eldest son of the Duke of Anjou, and he is in line, somewhat tenuously, for the British throne. She meets him in secret. She has a gift for secrecy, for she is watched like a prisoner by spies even among her own women. She is determined that Louis must set her free. Employing deception and disguise, seduction and manipulation, Eleanor is determined to find her way to power-and make her mark on history."

My Review:

Eleanor of Aquitaine is most well known for her marriage to Henry II and for being the devout mother of Richard I, but in The Secret Eleanor, Cecelia Holland focuses on Eleanor's early adulthood and her marriage to King Louis VII of France.

From the Beginning of the book, Eleanor's ambition and thirst for power is quite apparent. While holding court in Paris, Eleanor meets Henry II and is quickly besotted with him. Already dissatisfied with her marriage to Louis VII, Eleanor decides at once that, with Henry II at her side, nothing can hold her back from the power she desires. She immediately embarks upon a course of action that is sure to set her free of her current situation. Eleanor is strong and ruthless when it comes to reaching her goals, yet not even she can accomplish this feat alone; She will need the help of her sister Petra and the loyalty of those whom love her. But when the stakes are so high, can one completely trust anyone? In a story of love, ambition, power and betrayal, The Secret Eleanor will have you questioning who is right in their actions and what price is too high for power and loyalty to those you love.

Having read only one other book on Eleanor of Aquitaine, I was eager to learn more about this fascinating woman through Cecelia Holland's The Secret Eleanor. Unfortunately, I found this description of Eleanor to be lacking in depth and it was quite hard to derive any pleasing qualities from her demeanor. In the first few chapters she meets Henry II and has an intimate, and might I add cleverly descriptive, rendezvous with him; which lead me to ask: "Why? Where did that come from?". There were many times during the course of the novel I found myself pondering how their love came about. If only there would have been a bit more history between them it would have improved the plot greatly.

Although my issues with Eleanor were great, they became less prevalent as the book went on. This was mainly do to the sift in focus from Eleanor to her sister Petra, who's motives were not without reason. It was through her that everything was put into perspective and the story began to draw me in.

After the switch in focus, the plot quickly becomes more in depth and it twisted with great surprise. By the end of the book, I found myself wanting it to continue! I was not ready to leave Eleanor and Petra; it seemed their story had just begun. All things considered, this was a good read; though one that could have been better, especially in the beginning. I have another book by Cecelia Holland awaiting me on my bookshelf; I shall indeed be reading it.

FTC: I received this book from the publisher. As always, these are my own honest opinions.

Copyright © 2010 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Upcoming Release: The Virgin Widow by Anne O'Brien

book cover of 

The Virgin Widow 


Anne O'Brien
Publish Date: November 2nd 2010
Format: Paperback 488pp

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
"A dazzling historical novel set during England's War of the Roses- the story of the courageous Anne Neville, future wife of Richard III, who comes of age in a time of chaos... 
Anne Neville, daughter of the powerful Earl of Warwick, grows up during the War of the Roses, a time when kings and queens are made and destroyed in an on-going battle for the ultimate prize: the throne of England. As a child Anne falls in love with the ambitious, proud Richard of Gloucester, third son of the House of York. But when her father is branded a traitor, her family must flee to exile in France. As Anne matures into a beautiful, poised woman, skillfully navigating the treacherous royal court of Margaret of Anjou, she secretly longs for Richard, who has become a great man under his brother's rule. But as their families scheme for power, Anne must protect her heart from betrayals on both sides-and from the man she has always loved, and cannot bring herself to trust."


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Suddenly Sunday

Suddenly Sunday is a weekly event where I recap all the exciting things that have been going on here! If you want to join in on this weekly meme, feel free to do so, just link back to this blog :)

I hope everyone is having a splendid Sunday! Today has been a lovely day full of cloudy skies and occasional rain... perfect for a cup of coffee and a great book :) My little girl and I have just finished decorating for Halloween, which leads to the usual question: "how did the end of the month arrive so fast?". This week has been a bit busy but I am looking forward to the coming week which should be full of reading and writing! 

No reviews last week but I have some great ones coming up in the next several days:
  • The Secret Eleanor by Cecelia Holland
  • Emma and the Vampires by Wayne Josephson
  • Elizabeth, Captive Princess by Margaret Irwin
  • His Last Letter by Jeane Westin

In my mailbox for review:

Cover Image  Dark Road to Darjeeling (Lady Julia, #4) Cover Image

I am so very excited to watch the new series "Sherlock", airing tonight on PBS!

Don't forget to enter my current giveaway!

Have a great week & happy reading!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Masterpiece on PBS Presents: Sherlock

Oct. 24, 31 & Nov. 7, 2010 on PBS

Synopsis: (From PBS)
"Two men who couldn't be more different — united by ADVENTURE! Blowing away the fog of the Victorian era, the world's most famous detective enters the 21st century. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement, The Last Enemy) in the title role, Martin Freeman (The Office, UK) as Dr. John Watson and Rupert Graves (God on Trial, The Forsyte Saga) as Inspector Lestrade, Sherlock premieres onMasterpiece mystery! on Sundays, October 24, 31, and November 7, 2010 at 9pm ET on PBS (check local listings).
In with three criminally clever whodunits, A Study in Pink(October 24), The Blind Banker (October 31) and The Great Game (November 7), consulting detective Sherlock Holmes teams up with former army doctor John Watson to solve a dizzying array of crimes with his signature deductive reasoning. From the writers of Doctor Who, Sherlock is co-created and written by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat."

To learn more of this series, visit: masterpiece/ 


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Giveaway: His Last Letter by Jeane Westin

His Last Letter

Thanks to the generosity of Penguin Group Publishers, I have one copy of His Last Letter by Jeane Westin up for grabs! Be on the lookout for my review!

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
"One of the greatest loves of all time-between Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley-comes to life in this vivid novel. 
They were playmates as children, impetuous lovers as adults-and for thirty years were the center of each others' lives. Astute to the dangers of choosing any one man, the Virgin Queen could never give her "Sweet Robin" what he wanted most-marriage- yet she insisted he stay close by her side. Possessive and jealous, their love survived quarrels, his two disastrous marriages to other women, her constant flirtations, and political machinations with foreign princes. 
His Last Letter tells the story of this great love... and especially of the last three years Elizabeth and Dudley spent together, the most dangerous of her rule, when their passion was tempered by a bittersweet recognition of all that they shared-and all that would remain unfulfilled."

Giveaway Guidelines:

~10 possible entries~

  • +1 entry for posting a comment and leaving your e-mail. (no e-mail = no entry) 
  • +5 entries for becoming a Follower, or already being a Follower. (if possible, please follow through "google friend connect" so I can verify) 
  • + 3 entries for posting about this giveaway on your blog or adding a link for it on your sidebar. (please post link with your comment) 
  • + 1 entry for tweeting about this giveaway. (please post link with your comment) 

~Please post all your entries in one comment, thanks :)
~This giveaway will be open to USA residents only.
~Ends November 12th~

Good Luck everyone!


What's New Wednesday: A Look at Next Week's New Releases

This is a most exciting edition of "What's New Wednesday"! Not one, but two of my favorite series are having new releases next week. If you have not read either one of these delightful series, I would highly recommend it... you will be enthralled at once!
Pub. Date: October 28th 2010
Format: Hardcover 352pp

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
"Arabella Dempsey’s dear friend Jane Austen warned her against teaching. But Miss Climpson’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies seems the perfect place for Arabella to claim her independence while keeping an eye on her younger sisters nearby. Just before Christmas, she accepts a position at the quiet girls’ school in Bath, expecting to face nothing more exciting than conducting the annual Christmas recital. She hardly imagines coming face to face with French aristocrats and international spies…
Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh—often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation—has blundered into danger before. But when he blunders into Miss Arabella Dempsey, it never occurs to him that she might be trouble. When Turnip and Arabella stumble upon a beautifully wrapped Christmas pudding with a cryptic message written in French, “Meet me at Farley Castle”, the unlikely vehicle for intrigue launches the pair on a Yuletide adventure that ranges from the Austens’ modest drawing room to the awe-inspiring estate of the Dukes of Dovedale, where the Dowager Duchess is hosting the most anticipated event of the year: an elaborate 12-day Christmas celebration. Will they find poinsettias or peril, dancing or danger? And is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella and Turnip’s hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding?"

Cover Image
Pub. Date: October 26th 2010
Format: Hardcover 320pp

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
"Set in the lush countryside of Normandy, France, this new novel of suspense featuring Lady Emily Hargreaves is filled with intrigue, romance, mysterious deaths, and madness.
Returning from her honeymoon with Colin Hargreaves and a near brush with death in Constantinople, Lady Emily convalesces at her mother-in-law's beautiful estate in Normandy. But the calm she so desperately seeks is shattered when, out riding a horse, she comes upon the body of a young woman who has been brutally murdered. The girl's wounds are identical to those inflicted on the victims of Jack the Ripper, who has wreaked havoc across the channel in London. Emily feels a connection to the young woman and is determined to bring the killer to justice.
Pursuing a trail of clues and victims to the beautiful medieval city of Rouen and a crumbling chateau in the country, Emily begins to worry about her own sanity: she hears the cries of a little girl she cannot find and discovers blue ribbons left in the child's wake. As Emily is forced to match wits with a brilliant and manipulative killer, only her courage, keen instincts and formidable will to win can help her escape becoming his next victim."


Giveaway Winner!

Cover Image

Congratulations are in order for:

I will be sending you an e-mail shortly to obtain you mailing information!

A big thanks to all who entered in this giveaway! Be sure to check back soon for another exciting giveaway; I have a lot of great books lined up! 


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Friday Finds at the Bookstore: Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

Cover Image
Publish Date: September
Format: Hardcover 463pp

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
"In a time of fear and danger, they were determined to live a life of beauty and grace . . . 
When she decides to auction her remarkable jewelry collection, Nina Revskaya, once a great star of the Bolshoi ballet, believes she has drawn a curtain on her past. Instead, the aged dancer finds herself overwhelmed by memories of her homeland and of the events—both glorious and heartbreaking—that changed the course of her life half a century before. 
It was in Russia that she discovered the magic of the theatre; that she fell in love with the poet Viktor Elsin; that she and her dearest companions—Gersh, a dangerously irreverent composer, and the exquisite Vera, Nina’s closest friend—became victims of Stalinist aggression; that a terrible discovery led to a deadly act of betrayal—and to an ingenious escape that eventually brought her to the city of Boston. 
Nina has hidden her dark secrets for half a lifetime. But two people will not let the past rest—Drew Brooks, an inquisitive young associate director at the Boston auction house, and a Russian professor named Grigori Solodin who believes that a unique set of amber jewels may hold the key to his own ambiguous past. Together, these unlikely partners find themselves unraveling a literary mystery whose answers will hold life-changing consequences for them all. 
Artfully interweaving past and present, Moscow and New England, the behind-the-scenes tumult of theatre life and the transformative power of art, Daphne Kalotay’s luminous debut novel, an ingeniously plotted page turner of the highest literary order, captures the joy, uncertainty, and terror of lives powerless to withstand the forces of history, while affirming that even in the presence of evil, suspicion, and fear the human spirit reaches for transcendence and love."


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Upcoming Release: The King's Daughter by Christie Dickason

Publish Date: November 23, 2010
Format: Paperback 480pp

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
"The court of James I is a volatile place, with factions led by warring cousins Robert Cecil and Francis Bacon. Europe is seething with conflict between Protestants and Catholics. James sees himself as a grand peacemaker - and what better way to make his mark than to use his children in marriage negotiations?
Into this court come Henry, Prince of Wales, and his sister Elizabeth. Their louche father is so distrusted that soon they are far more popular than he is, an impossibly dangerous position. Then Elizabeth is introduced to Frederick of Bohemia, Elector Palatine. He′s shy but they understand one another. She decides he will be her husband - but her parents change their minds. Brutally denied Henry′s support, how can Elizabeth forge her own future?
At once a love story, a tale of international politics and a tremendous evocation of England at a time of great change, this is a landmark novel to thrill all lovers of fine historical fiction."


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What's New Wednesday: A Look at Next Weeks New Releases

Publish Date: October 12th, 2010
Format: Paperback 464pp

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
"From international bestselling author Posie Graeme-Evans comes the passionate tale of a woman ahead of her time.
Ellen Gowan is the only surviving child of a scholarly village minister and a charming girl disowned by her family when she married for love. Growing up in rural Norfolk, Ellen’s childhood was poor but blessed with affection. Resilience, spirit, and one great talent will carry her far from such humble beginnings. In time, she will become the witty, celebrated, and very beautiful Madame Ellen, dressmaker to the nobility of England, the Great Six Hundred.
Yet Ellen has secrets. At fifteen she falls for Raoul de Valentin, the dangerous descendant of French aristocrats. Raoul marries Ellen for her brilliance as a designer but abandons his wife when she becomes pregnant. Determined that she and her daughter will survive, Ellen begins her long climb to success. Toiling first in a clothing sweat shop, she later opens her own salon in fashionable Berkeley Square though she tells the world – and her daughter - she’s a widow. One single dress, a ballgown created for the enigmatic Countess of Hawksmoor, the leader of London society, transforms Ellen’s fortunes, and as the years pass, business thrives. But then Raoul de Valentin returns and threatens to destroy all that Ellen has achieved.
In The Dressmaker, the romance of Jane Austen, the social commentary of Charles Dickens and the very contemporary voice of Posie Graeme-Evans combine to plunge the reader deep into the opulent, sinister world of teeming Victorian England. And if the beautiful Madame Ellen is not quite what she seems, the strength of her will sees her through to the truth, and love, at last."

Publish Date: October 12th, 2010
Format: Hardcover 304pp

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
"Was the “Blood Countess” history’s first and perhaps worst female serial killer? Or did her accusers create a violent fiction in order to remove this beautiful, intelligent, ambitious foe from the male-dominated world of Hungarian politics?
In 1611, Countess Erzsébet Báthory, a powerful Hungarian noblewoman, stood helpless as masons walled her inside her castle tower, dooming her to spend her final years in solitary confinement. Her crime—the gruesome murders of dozens of female servants, mostly young girls tortured to death for displeasing their ruthless mistress. Her opponents painted her as a bloodthirsty škrata—a witch—a portrayal that would expand to grotesque proportions through the centuries.
In this riveting dramatization of Erzsébet Báthory’s life, the countess tells her story in her own words, writing to her only son—a final reckoning from his mother in an attempt to reveal the truth behind her downfall. Countess Báthory describes her upbringing in one of the most powerful noble houses in Hungary, recounting in loving detail her devotion to her parents and siblings as well as the heartbreak of losing her father at a young age. She soon discovers the price of being a woman in sixteenth-century Hungary as her mother arranges her marriage to Ferenc Nádasdy, a union made with the cold calculation of a financial transaction. Young Erzsébet knows she has no choice but to accept this marriage even as she laments its loveless nature and ultimately turns to the illicit affections of another man.
Seemingly resigned to a marriage of convenience and a life of surreptitious pleasure, the countess surprises even herself as she ignites a marital spark with Ferenc through the most unromantic of acts: the violent punishment of an insolent female servant. The event shows Ferenc that his wife is no trophy but a strong, determined woman more than capable of managing their vast estates during Ferenc’s extensive military campaigns against the Turks. Her naked assertion of power accomplishes what her famed beauty could not: capturing the love of her husband.
The countess embraces this new role of loving wife and mother, doing everything she can to expand her husband’s power and secure her family’s future. But a darker side surfaces as Countess Báthory’s demand for virtue, obedience, and, above all, respect from her servants takes a sinister turn. What emerges is not only a disturbing, unflinching portrait of the deeds that gave Báthory the moniker “Blood Countess,” but an intimate look at the woman who became a monster."


Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Suddenly Sunday

Suddenly Sunday is a weekly event, where I can recap all the exciting things that have been going on here! If you want to join in on this weekly meme, feel free to do so! Just link back to this blog :)

I hope you are all having a most excellent Sunday! It is so wonderful to be blogging again; I have thoroughly enjoyed this whole week of blogging! After this random week of fall weather, the rain this morning was an awesome surprise. I can't wait until the crisp air and stormy weather finally sets in so I can read my books by the fire :) Well, let's get started with what has been going on!

I reviewed one book this week:

In my mailbox I received for review:
'Penelope's Daughter' by Laurel Corona

I joined a challenge that should be relatively easy to accomplish:
Rip V Challenge
For this challenge I have decided to read: 
  Dracula, My Love by Syrie James
  Emma and the Vampires by Wayne Josephson
  Dracula in Love by Karen Essex 

Obviously it is a challenge inspired by Halloween. I was going review these books anyway so I might as well be apart of the challenge. I will be reading my first supernatural Austen spin off... these zombie/vampire books have never interested me, but when I was offered the chance to review one I thought "why not try something new!".

Staying on the theme of Halloween... be sure to check Harrowing Historicals, hosted by Hist-Fic Chick and Linus’s Blanket through the month of October!

Don't forget to enter my current giveaway!

Have a great week everyone & happy reading!


Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Finds at the Bookstore: The Gentleman Poet by Kathryn Johnson

Pub. Date: September 2010
Format: Paperback 319pp

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
"En route to the Americas in 1609, Elizabeth Persons, a young servant girl, sees her blinding headache as an ominous sign. Sure enough, a hurricane during the final leg of their journey tosses the ill-fated Sea Venture and its one hundred and fifty passengers and crew onto the dreaded shores of the Bermudas, the rumored home of evil spirits and dangerous natives. In the months that pass—time marked by grave hardship, mutiny, adventure, danger . . . and a blossoming love between Elizabeth and the wrecked ship's young cook—she despairs of their ever being rescued. But she finds hope and strength in a remarkable new friendship, forming a fast bond with the Sea Venture's historian, a poet traveling under the name of William Strachey. But Will is more than he seems. To many back home in England, he is known by a different name: Shakespeare. And he sees in their great shared travails the makings of a magical, truly transcendent work of theater."

Book Review: For the King's Favor by Elizabeth Chadwick

Publish Date: September 2010
Format: Paperback 544pp

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
"A Bittersweet Tale of Love, Loss, and the Power of Royalty.
When Roger Bigod arrives at King Henry II's court to settle a bitter inheritance dispute, he becomes enchanted with Ida de Tosney, young mistress to the powerful king. A victim of Henry's seduction and the mother of his son, Ida sees in Roger a chance to begin a new life. But Ida pays an agonizing price when she leaves the king, and as Roger's importance grows and he gains an earldom, their marriage comes under increasing strain. Based on the true story of a royal mistress and the young lord she chose to marry, For the King's Favor is Elizabeth Chadwick at her best."

My Review:

In Elizabeth Chadwick's latest novel, For the King's Favor, we find a captivating story of honor, duty and love....

Rodger Bigod, the unwanted son of a traitorous Earl, finds himself with a weighty decision: be loyal to his father or his king. Choosing the path he deems most honorable, Rodger devotes his life to the service of King Henry II. Although Rodger swears his allegiance and proves his merit in battle, he quickly learns it will take more than that to claim his inheritance and erase the shame his father brought on the Bigod name.

During his stay at court, Rodger is besotted with the young and beautiful Ida de Tosney, none other than the King's beloved mistress. Despite Ida's life of luxury and honor as the King's mistress, she longs for a peaceful and respectable life away from court. As she grows more confidant in her power of having the king's favor, she devises a plan that will possibly lead her to the life she has always dreamed of.

With a sudden twist of fate, Rodger and Ida find themselves able to make a new life for themselves. Undaunted by the knowledge of the trials that lie before them, they embark on life's journey together with high hopes and strong determination to finally claim everything that was so unjustly taken from them. Alas, the trials are more perilous than anticipated and their happy world is soon torn asunder. With uncertainty and turmoil at every turn, they begin to fear their hard hard work is for naught, because when a king is the lord of everything, what price can one pay to earn the favor of a king?

Elizabeth Chadwick has once again weaved a work of art with her vivid descriptions and ability to tell a most captivating tale. From the ripples cast in a pond at dusk to the warmth felt from a sun warmed stone, this story comes alive from the moment you read the first page! All of the characters were well rounded and had very distinct personalities. As usual, with Chadwick's writing style, the villains were ugly and intense emotion was felt for the main characters. The one thing that held this book back from receiving 5 crowns was the intensity of the plot. After reaching the halfway point of the book, I was still waiting for that crazy moment where everything falls to pieces and the plot twists and jerks you around; and I still found myself looking for that up until the end. That being said, the plot was indeed well thought out and was never dull. Overall this is yet another must read for any Chadwick fan or lover of historical fiction. I will definitely be reading anything I can find by this extremely talented author!

FTC: I received this book from the publisher. As always, these are my own honest opinions.

Copyright © 2010 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.