Thursday, December 30, 2010

Shakespeare Reading Challenge 2011


Yet another reading challenge for 2011 :) I am really excited about this one. I have been wanting to read and reread some of Shakespeare's plays for a while now, so this is perfect! The Shakespeare Reading Challenge is hosted by Elena and is hosted on its own webpage. Here are the details:

First off, the Levels:

1. Puck: Read 4 plays over the year, 1 of which may be replaced by a performance
2. Desdemona: Read 6 plays, 2 of which may be replaced by a performance
3. Henry V: Read 12 plays, 3 of which may be replaced by a performance

Now, the Rules:

1. All plays must be read between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011. Anything begun before that cannot be included.
2. Audio versions are also acceptable but all plays must be unabridged.
3. You don't need to list your plays ahead of time but you may, if you'd like.
4. Review pages for each month will be created but are optional.

I will be updating my status here on this post. You can easily find it via the "Challenges" page tab at the top of this blog, or by clicking the Challenge Picture on the left hand side of this blog.

My Goal: Desdemona: Read 6 plays
My Progress:

  1. -
  2. -
  3. -
  4. -
  5. -
  6. -


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

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

~ For the week of January 2nd - 8th ~

Cover Image
Publish Date: January 4th 2011
Format: Paperback 384pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"A thrilling debut novel starring one of history's most famous and beloved courtesans.
From London's slums to its bawdy playhouses, The Darling Strumpet transports the reader to the tumultuous world of seventeenth-century England, charting the meteoric rise of the dazzling Nell Gwynn, who captivates the heart of King Charles II-and becomes one of the century's most famous courtesans.
Witty and beautiful, Nell was born into poverty but is drawn into the enthralling world of the theater, where her saucy humor and sensuous charm earn her a place in the King's Company. As one of the first actresses in the newly-opened playhouses, she catapults to fame, winning the affection of legions of fans-and the heart of the most powerful man in all of England, the King himself. Surrendering herself to Charles, Nell will be forced to maneuver the ruthless and shifting allegiances of the royal court-and discover a world of decadence and passion she never imagined possible."

Cover Image
Publish Date: January 4th
Format: Paperback 304pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"In the winter of 1876, the beautiful young madam India Black is occupied with her usual tasks - keeping her tarts in line, avoiding the police, and tolerating the clergyman bent on converting her girls. But when Sir Archibald Latham of the War Office dies from a heart attack while visiting her brothel, India is unexpectedly thrust into a deadly game between Russian and British agents who are seeking the military secrets Latham carried. 
French, the handsome British spy, discovers India disposing of Latham's body, and blackmails her into recovering the missing documents. Their quest takes them from the Russian embassy to Claridge's Hotel, from London to the English coast, all the while chasing the Russian agents who are intent on spiriting the stolen documents out of England.

But it is their own tempestuous relationship they will have to weather as India and French attempt to resist the mutual attraction between them - an attraction that can prove as deadly as the conspiracy entangling them..."


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

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 “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists!

This week my teaser comes from A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent.

Page: 307 
"She dropped his hand and crossed her arms over her chest again. She was back to being defiant. 'You are the strangest, most inconsistent man I have ever met.' "


Victorian Literature Challenge 2011

The Victorian Literature Challenge 2011 is hosted by Bethany of Words, Words, Words. Here is what the challenge entails:

What you need to know:

This challenge will run from 01 Jan 2011 - 31 Dec 2011.
Participants can sign up at any time throughout the year.

Read your Victorian literature.
Queen Victoria reigned from 1837-1901. If your book wasn't published during those particular years, but is by an author considered 'Victorian' then go for it. We're here for reading, not historical facts! Also, this can include works by authors from other countries, so long as they are from this period.

Literature comes in many forms.
There are so many Victorian reads out there, including novels, short stories, and poetry. One poem doesn't count as a 'book': pick up an anthology instead!

Choose your books.
List your books before you begin, or pick up titles along the way. It's up to you! You can review them if you choose to, but it's not necessary. If you don't have a blog, that's fine! Link to a Facebook, or a page somewhere where you can list what you've been reading. If you can't link up, no problem - feel free to just comment and enjoy.
Spread the love.

Post the reading challenge on your blog.
Make your own post(s), or stick the button on the side of your page. The more the merrier, after all. Let's build a big community of Victorian literature lovers!

Choose from one of the four levels:
Sense and Sensibility: 1-4 books.
Great Expectations: 5-9 books.
Hard Times: 10-14 books.
Desperate Remedies: 15+ books.
I will be updating my status here on this post. You can easily find it via the "Challenges" page tab at the top of this blog, or by clicking the Challenge Picture on the left hand side of this blog.

My Goal: Sense and Sensibility 1-4 books.
My Progress:

Monday, December 27, 2010

Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge

Blog Button

Robin of My Two Blessings is hosting the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge. I am definitely determined to complete this challenge; it should help me keep on track with my reading goals for the year! Here are the challenge details:

The rules are very simple and the goal is to read one book (at least) a week for 52 weeks.
  1. The challenge will run from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011. 
  2. Our book weeks will begin on Sunday. 
  3. Participants may join at any time.
  4. All forms of books are acceptable including e-books, audio books, etc.
  5. Re-reads are acceptable as long as they are read after January 1, 2011.
  6. Books may overlap other challenges. 
  7. Create an entry post linking to the hosts blog. 
  8. Come back and sign up with Mr. Linky in the "I'm participating post" below the post on the hosts blog.
  9. You don't have a blog to participate. Post your weekly book in the comments section.
  10. Mr. Linky will be added to the bottom of the weekly post for you to link to reviews of your most current reads.
I will be updating my status here on this post. You can easily find it via the "Challenges" page tab at the top of this blog, or by clicking the Challenge Picture on the left hand side of this blog.

My Progress:


Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2011

The delightful ladies over at Historical Tapestry will be hosting this years Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. Here is what the challenge will entail: 

Each month, a new post dedicated to the HF Challenge will be created. To participate, you only have to follow the rules:

  • everyone can participate, even those who don't have a blog (you can add your book title and thoughts in the comment section if you wish)

  •  add the link(s) of your review(s) including your name and book title to the Mister Linky we’ll be adding to our monthly post (please, do not add your blog link, but the correct address that will guide us directly to your review)

  • any kind of historical fiction is accepted (HF fantasy, HF young adult,...)
  • you can overlap this challenge with others kind of challenges
  • During these following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels:
  1. Severe Bookaholism: 20 books
  2. Undoubtedly Obsessed: 15 books
  3. Struggling the Addiction: 10 books
  4. Daring & Curious: 5 books
  5. Out of My Comfort Zone: 2 books

The challenge will run from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2011. 
I will be updating my status here on this post. You can easily find it via the "Challenges" page tab at the top of this blog, or by clicking the Challenge Picture on the left hand side of this blog.

My Goal: Severe Bookaholism 20 Books
My Progress:

  1. Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn
  2. The Lady's Slipper by Deborah Swift
  3. India Black by Carol K. Carr
  4. The Gentleman Poet by Kathryn Johnson
  5. Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray
  6. The Queen of Last Hopes by Susan Higginbotham
  7. The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner
  8. Daughters of Rome by Kate Quinn
  9. Sins of the House of Borgia by Sarah Bower
  10. The Raven Queen by Jukes Watson
  11. Pale Rose of England by Sandra Worth
  12. Elizabeth I by Margaret George
  13. Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain by Margaret Irwin
  14. The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner
  15. Queen by Right by Anne Easter Smith
  16. Mary of Carisbrooke by Margret Campbell Barnes
  17. Dracula in Love by Karen Essex
  18. The Queen's Gamble by Barbra Kyle
  19. Three Maids for a Crown by Ella March Chase
  20. The Women of the Cousins' War by Phillipa Gregory, David Baldwin & Michael Jones
  21. Song of the Nile by Stephanie Dray


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Vintage Postcard of Santa Claus holding a lantern in his hand with a bag of presents over his shoulder
From Virginia O'Hanlon to the editor of The Sun, followed by the editors reply in 1897.

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.' Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

"Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!" "

May your Christmas be filled with love, joy and peace, and may the blessings of the season be with you all year long!


Friday Finds at the Bookstore: A Dangerous Affair by Caro Peacock

Cover Image
Publish Date: January 2009
Format: Paperback 320pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"In Victoria s England, there are perilous intrigues a proper young lady would do well to avoid 
Liberty Lane, still in her early twenties, is doing her best to make a new life for herself in London after being bruised by loss and treachery. But there s no chance for her to settle down as a conventional young lady. First, a disturbingly attractive young politican, Benjamin Disraeli, wants her to use her contacts in the theatre world to find out more about a prima ballerina with a notorious love life called Columbine. He hints that some important interests may be at stake. Then Columbine is murdered in her dressing room, after an on-stage brawl with a younger and less successful dancer, who becomes prime suspect. Liberty is at the center of the investigation because one of her dearest friends, Daniel Suter, is convinced of the girl s innocence and will put his own neck in danger to save her. Liberty s determination to save them from the gallows leads her from the upper reaches of the aristocracy to some of London s lowlife haunts, posing the question: how far would you go to save a friend?
Caro Peacock, the acclaimed author of A Foreign Affair, once again ingeniously blends history, suspense, and adventure, and returns an endearing and exceptional heroine to the fictional fold."


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

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

~ For the Week of December 21st - January 1st~

Cover Image
Publish Date: December 28th 2010
Format: Paperback 384pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"As heiress to the famous Laurent Fashion Dolls business, Marguerite Ashby's future seems secure. But France still seethes with violence in the wake of the Revolution. And when Marguerite's husband Nicholas is killed during a riot at their shop, she leaves home vowing never to return. Instead, the young widow travels to Edinburgh and joins her old friend, Marie Tussaud, who has established a touring wax exhibition.
Under the great Tussaud's patient instruction, Marguerite learns to mold wax into stunningly lifelike creations. When Prime Minister William Pitt commissions a wax figure of military hero Admiral Nelson, Marguerite becomes immersed in a dangerous adventure--and earns the admiration of two very different men. And as Britain battles to overthrow Napoleon and flush out spies against the Crown, Marguerite will find her own loyalties, and her heart, under fire from all sides.
With wit, flair, and a masterful eye for telling details, Christine Trent brings one of history's most fascinating eras to vibrant life in an unforgettable story of desire, ambition, treachery, and courage."


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kate Emerson, Author of "Secrets of the Tudor Court: By Royal Decree", Guest Post and Giveaway!

I am delighted to have the very talented Kate Emerson join us today on Confessions and Ramblings of a Muse in the Fog! Her latest novel, Secrets of the Tudor Court: By Royal Decree, is the third installment in her Secrets of the Tudor Court series.
Cover Image
And now, without further ado, I hand it over to Kate.

Merry Christmas from Henry VIII’s England

As Kate Emerson I write the “Secrets of the Tudor Court” series set in Henry VIII’s England and although the most recent entry, BY ROYAL DECREE, doesn’t have any particular connection to the Yuletide season, I’ve done a fair amount of research into how the holidays were celebrated. I knew that Christmas trees were a Victorian invention, but the one thing that did surprise me was that mistletoe wasn’t yet in use either. So much for using a kissing ball to get my characters together!

Even without those two traditional parts of Christmas, sixteenth-century England still had plenty of Yuletide customs. Revelers would get the season off to a good start by going into the woods to find a Yule log, which they’d drag home, singing about the holly and the ivy. The holly was used to decorate the interior of the house; the ivy adorned the outside of the door. The Yule log itself was set ablaze with a fragment of the previous year’s log, saved just for that purpose.

At about the same time, in many communities, the parish hogglers came calling to solicit contributions for the local church. This tradition is probably a variant on wassailing, where groups singing carols were invited in to sip a special Christmas punch called wassail.

The Great Hall of a typical Tudor manor house would be decorated with boughs of holly—and yew, bay, rosemary, and box, too. In another room, flowers might be twined around and through the spinning wheel in the corner—it would not be used again until Plough Monday, the first Monday after Twelfth Night. During Yuletide, all but the most necessary work—cooking and caring for animals—was forbidden.

On Christmas Day, there was feasting, with a Lord of Misrule to act as master of ceremonies in the largest houses. Even lesser gentry celebrated with minced pies made with dried fruits and spices and mutton (in remembrance of the shepherds). Each pie contained thirteen different ingredients, one each to represent Christ and his apostles. There was brawn, too, with mustard. And bread and cheese and fruit and nuts and spiced ale that had roast apples floating in it. But the much-anticipated centerpiece in many households was carried in on a huge platter. It held a large pastry case surrounded by jointed hare, small game birds, and wild fowl. Inside the pastry was a turkey that had been stuffed with a goose that had been stuffed with a chicken that had been stuffed with a partridge that had been stuffed with a pigeon.

New Year's Day, not Christmas, was the traditional time for the exchange of gifts, and in some rural communities it was also the day on which everyone went out into the orchard to wassail the trees. I think this is my favorite tradition, and it is still carried on in some areas of England today. To ensure a good crop for the next year's cider, villagers turn out to wish the trees good health and abundant crops. The celebration begins shortly after sundown, in front of the oldest tree in the orchard. A crust of bread is fished out of the bottom of a large wooden wassail bowl and placed it in the crook of the tree. Then loud noises fill the air—drums and horns and people banging on pans with ladles. Someone pours mulled cider around the base of the tree as the crowd begins to sing: "Old apple tree we wassail thee, hoping thou will bear."

I wassail thee, dear reader. Happy Yuletide.

     Kate Emerson (aka Kathy Lynn Emerson and Kaitlyn Dunnett)

Thank you Kate for stopping by and sharing with us this delightful post! A very happy Yultide to you as well!

And now for some exciting news! Kate had been gracious in offering a signed copy of Secrets of the Tudor Court: By Royal Decree to one lucky winner!
Publish Date: December 2010
Format: Paperback 353pp

Synopsis: (From the Publisher):
Charming. Desirable. Forbidden. Brought to court with other eligible young noblewomen by the decree of King Henry VIII, lovely Elizabeth “Bess” Brooke realizes for the first time that beauty can be hazardous. Although Bess has no desire to wed the aging king, she and her family would have little choice if Henry’s eye were to fall on her. And other dangers exist as well, for Bess has caught the interest of dashing courtier Will Parr. Bess finds Will’s kisses as sweet as honey, but marriage between them may be impossible. Will is a divorced man, and remarriage is still prohibited. Bess and Will must hope that the king can be persuaded to issue a royal decree allowing Will to marry again . . . but to achieve their goal, the lovers will need royal favor. Amid the swirling alliances of royalty and nobles, Bess and Will perform a dangerous dance of palace intrigue and pulse-pounding passions.
Brought to glowing life by the talented Kate Emerson, and seen through the eyes of a beautiful young noblewoman, By Royal Decree illuminates the lives of beautiful young courtiers in and out of the rich and compelling drama of the Tudor court."

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 will be an international drawing!
~Giveaway ends January 7th

Copyright © 2010 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Book Review: Child of the Northern Spring by Persia Woolley

Publish Date: November 2010
Format: Paperback 567 pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher)
"Among the first to look at the story of Camelot through Guinevere’s eyes, Woolley sets the traditional tale in the time of its origin, after Britain has shattered into warring fiefdoms. Hampered by neither fantasy nor medieval romance, this young Guinevere is a feisty Celtic tomboy who sees no reason why she must learn to speak Latin, wear dresses, and go south to marry that king. But legends being what they are, the story of Arthur’s rise to power soon intrigues her, and when they finally meet, Guinevere and Arthur form a partnership that has lasted for 1500 years.
This is Arthurian epic at its best—filled with romance, adventure, authentic Dark Ages detail, and wonderfully human people."

My Review:

Child of the Northern Spring brings to life one of the most mystical times in history through Guinevere, the young and intelligent Celtic princess. From the very first page it is obvious that you are in for a captivating retelling of the mysterious Arthurian Legend.

The first half of the book follows Guinevere as she is escorted to the southern country, where she will be united with Arthur and become High Queen. During this time there are many flashbacks which help the reader understand Guinevere's childhood and how Arthur came to win the hearts of the people. While reading of how Arthur came to power was intriguing, it was completely dull while reading of Guinevere's childhood. The parts about her childhood did not seem to hold a great deal of importance and were quickly glossed over. Thankfully, when Guinevere arrived in the southern countries, the plot seemed to take on a livelier pace. The bond between Guinevere and Arthur was wonderful to see and kept the flow of events exciting.

This was my first venture into Arthurian Legend, and I can definitely say I am most enthralled with it! I know what is to come and so I must prepare myself for the sadness, but I am really looking forward to becoming lost in the Dark Ages with all its mystical and dastardly intrigue.

Despite the slow pace of the first half, I was captivated by the second half and I was extremely happy with how Woolley decided to conclude this first book in the trilogy. It might not have been a thrilling adventure, but it is perfect for those who are just starting out with Arthurian Legend.

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

Copyright © 2010 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 19, 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 :)

Hello everyone! I hope you are all having a delightful Sunday. It is hard to believe that there is only one Sunday left before the new year! It has been a delightful year and I can only imagine what might await in 2011. But there is still a couple weeks left and Christmas is right around the corner. My little girl is so excited for Christmas and has been decorating everything in sight! A three year old + tinsel... oh the possibilities, lol :) Well, enough rambling, lets see what has been going on here:

Last week I had the delight of reviewing:

I have a lot of exciting things planned this week... here is a little peak:
  • Child of the Northern Spring review
  • The Lady's Slipper review
  • Not one but TWO giveaways!

In my mailbox for review:
Cover Image Cover Image

Have a great week and happy reading!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Finds at the Bookstore: The Diamond by Julie Baumgold

Cover Image
Publish Date: December 2010
Format: Paperback 320pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"The Diamond is a brilliant, dazzling historical novel about a famous diamond -- one of the biggest in the world -- that passed from the hands of William Pitt's grandfather to the French kings and Napoleon, linking many of the most famous personalities of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and serving as the centerpiece for a novel in every way as fascinating as Susan Sontag's The Volcano Lover or Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose.
Rich with historical detail, characters, and nonstop drama, the story centers on the famous Regent diamond -- once the largest and most beautiful diamond in the world -- which was discovered in India in the late seventeenth century and bought by the governor of the East India Company, a cunning nabob, trader, and ex-pirate named Thomas Pitt. His son brought it to London, where a Jewish diamond-cutter of genius took two years to fashion it into one of the world's greatest gems.
After hawking it around the courts of Europe, Pitt sold the diamond to Louis XIV's profligate and deeply amoral nephew, the Duc d'Orléans. Raised to glory by this fortune, Pitt's grandsons would rule England and devote their lives to fighting the very Bourbon kings who wore their diamond, the enduring symbol of the rivalry between France and England.
The diamond was worn by Louis XIV, Louis XV, and by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. A beautiful blond whore placed it in her private parts to entice Czar Peter the Great on his visit to Paris. A band of thieves stole it during the bloodiest days of the Revolution. Found in an attic, it was pawned for horses for Napoleon's first campaigns. Napoleon redeemed the diamond and, though his wife Josephine craved it, set it in the hilt of his sword, where it appeared in many of his portraits. After his fall, his young second wife, Marie-Louise, grabbed it when she fled France. The Régent was hidden in innumerable secret places, used by Napoleon III and the ravishing Empress Eugenie to impress Queen Victoria, and finally ended up on display in the Louvre museum, where it remains today, then and now the first diamond of France.
Julie Baumgold, herself the descendant of a family of diamond merchants, tells this extraordinary story through Count Las Cases (author of Le Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène), who writes it in his spare time while in exile with Napoleon I. The book is in Las Cases's words, those of a clever, sophisticated nobleman at home in the old regime as well as in Napoleon's court. As he tells his story, with Napoleon prodding, challenging, and correcting him all the while, they draw closer. The emperor has a kind of love/hate relationship with the diamond, which represents the wealth and fabulous elegance of the French courts as well as the power for good or evil that possessing it confers on its transient masters. He thinks of it as his good luck charm, but is it? For the diamond has its dark side -- murder, melancholy, and downfall ever shadow its light.
A glittering cast of characters parades through The Diamond: a mesmerizing Napoleon and the devoted Las Cases, stuck on Saint Helena with their memories; Louis XIV and his brother, the dissolute Monsieur; Madame, the German princess who married Monsieur; the Scottish financier John Law and Saint-Simon, who sold Pitt's diamond to Madame's depraved son; the depressed Louis XV; and Madame de Pompadour. Here too are the families, the Pitts in England and the Bonapartes in France; the men of Saint Helena; nobles and thieves; Indian diamond merchants and financiers -- nearly everyone of interest and importance from the late seventeenth through the early nineteenth century.
Written with enormous verve and ambition, The Diamond is a treat, a plum pudding of a novel filled with one delicious, funny, disgraceful episode after another. It is grand history and even grander fiction -- a towering work of imagination, research, and narrative skill."


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy 235th Birthday Jane Austen!


Jane Austen, one of the most beloved authors in classic literature, is celebrating her 235th birthday today! Well, she would be if she was still with us... but we can still celebrate her life and delightful novels with great enthusiasm! Below are some links to the many blogs and websites that are joining in on this Austen birthday bash. So here's a toast and cheer for this most extraordinary author, happy birthday Miss Austen!


Sourcebooks is joining in on the celebration of Jane Austen's birthday by offering the following:

Special e-book editions of:
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Emma
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Northanger Abbey
  • Persuasion and
  • Mansfield Park
These will be available for free on December 16th only and will include the full novels plus the legendary color illustrations of the Brock brothers (originally created to accompany the books in 1898).

Sourcebooks will also be offering these best-selling Austen inspired novels:
  • Eliza’s Daughter by Joan Aiken 
  • The Darcys & the Bingleys by Marsha Altman
  • Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll
  • What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown
  • The Pemberley Chronicles by Rebecca Ann Collins
  • The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview
  • Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange
  • Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One by Sharon Lathan
  • Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe
  • Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy by Abigail Reynolds


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Release: Secrets of the Tudor Court: By Royal Decree ~ By Kate Emerson

Cover Image
Publish Date: December 14th 2010
Format: Paperback 353pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"Charming. Desirable. Forbidden. Brought to court with other eligible young noblewomen by the decree of King Henry VIII, lovely Elizabeth “Bess” Brooke realizes for the first time that beauty can be hazardous. Although Bess has no desire to wed the aging king, she and her family would have little choice if Henry’s eye were to fall on her. And other dangers exist as well, for Bess has caught the interest of dashing courtier Will Parr. Bess finds Will’s kisses as sweet as honey, but marriage between them may be impossible. Will is a divorced man, and remarriage is still prohibited. Bess and Will must hope that the king can be persuaded to issue a royal decree allowing Will to marry again . . . but to achieve their goal, the lovers will need royal favor. Amid the swirling alliances of royalty and nobles, Bess and Will perform a dangerous dance of palace intrigue and pulse-pounding passions.
Brought to glowing life by the talented Kate Emerson, and seen through the eyes of a beautiful young noblewoman, By Royal Decree illuminates the lives of beautiful young courtiers in and out of the rich and compelling drama of the Tudor court."


Monday, December 13, 2010

Book Review: The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

Cover Image
Publish Date: October 28th 2010
Format: Hardcover 352pp

Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
'Tis the season to get Pink! Lauren Willig's beloved Pink Carnation series gets into the holiday spirit with this irresistible Regency Christmas caper.
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 twelve-day Christmas celebration. Will they find poinsettias or peril, dancing or danger? Is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella's and Turnip's hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding?"

My Review:

Just in time for some holiday cheer, Lauren Willig has given us a gift full of wit and suspense with her newest novel, The Mischief of the Mistletoe.

We first meet Arabella Dempsy as she secures a position, much to the dismay of her friend Jane Austen, at Miss Climpson's Select Seminary for Young Ladies. Being thoroughly warned of the hazards of teaching energetic young females, Arabella is prepared for whatever may come her way... that is until common school-girl pranks take on a sinister dimension.

Aided by the blundering yet dashing "Turnip" Fitzhugh, Arabella sets out on a mission to find out just who is tormenting her so. But when Arabella refuses to agree that the events are the dangerous work of spies, she risks alienating herself from the one person who can save her.

Filled with dastardly Christmas puddings, nefarious shepherds and a 12 days of Christmas extravaganza for every possible hazard, The Mischief of the Mistletoe is sure to have you laughing all the way and enjoying Christmas puddings with a whole new flavor!

Lauren Willig has created another spectacular read with The Mischief of the Mistletoe! As soon as I read the first few pages, I knew I was in for a great read; which was confirmed by the instant smile on my face whenever I picked the book up. The main characters were well detailed and the chaotic scenes easily consumed you, as if you were really there. If you want a book that has a little bit of everything, this is the one for you! There was the perfect mixture of hilarious phrases, random objects with special purposes, romance and intrigue. I can not speak highly enough of this book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

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

Copyright © 2010 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.