Monday, March 26, 2012

Upcoming 2012 Historical Fiction Release! Mistress of Mourning by Karen Harper

Mistress of Mourning by Karen Harper


Publication Date: July 3rd 2012
Format: Paperback 416pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"In a gripping new historical novel of suspense and romance, two women fight to defeat the enemies of the precarious Tudor monarchy by uncovering the secrets of the dead…

London, 1501. In a time of political unrest, Varina Westcott, a young widow and candle maker for court and church, agrees to perform a clandestine service for Queen Elizabeth of York, wife of Henry VII—carve wax figures of four dead children, her two offspring lost in infancy and her two brothers, the Princes in the Tower, whose mysterious disappearance years ago has never been solved. Having lost a child herself, Varina feels a sympathetic bond wit the queen. And as she works under the watchful eye of handsome Nicholas Sutton, an ambitious assistant to the royals, she develops feelings of quite a different nature…

Then news comes from Wales of the unexpected death of newly married Prince Arthur, the queen’s eldest child and heir to the throne. Deeply grieving, Elizabeth suspects that Arthur did not die of a sudden illness, as reported, but was actually murdered by her husband’s enemies. This time her task for Varina and Nicholas is of vital importance—travel into the Welsh wilderness to investigate the prince’s death. But as the couple unearths one unsettling clue after another, they begin to fear that the conspiracy they’re confronting is far more ambitious and treacherous than even the queen imagined. And it aims to utterly destroy the Tudor dynasty."

Copyright © 2012 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Masterpiece Monday

Masterpiece Monday is a weekly event created by Svea @ The Muse in the Fog Book Review. The purpose of  Masterpiece Monday is to share exceptional pieces of art which reflect the books that were read during the week.

In my Suddenly Sunday post yesterday (read here) I briefly spoke about the English Lit class I am taking this semester. The class as a whole has been delightful, but so far my favorite lecture was when my professor showed some pre-raphaelite artwork which was inspired by the literature of that time. And it was a great surprise to discover my favorite poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, "The Lady Shallot", inspired one of my favorite artists, John Waterhouse, to portray his interpretation of the poem on canvas. Here is the famous painting along with the poem that inspired it.

The Lady of Shallot. John Waterhouse. 1888

"The Lady of Shallot"
By Alfred Lord Tennyson

Part I
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shallot.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shallot.

By the margin, willow veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shallot?

Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
Down to tower'd Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers " 'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shallot."

Part II
There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shallot.

And moving thro' a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot:
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
Pass onward from Shallot.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad,
Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
And sometimes thro' the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shallot.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often thro' the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed:
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shallot.

Part III
A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shallot.

The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon'd baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
Beside remote Shallot.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro' the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
Moves over still Shallot.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;
On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow'd
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash'd into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro' the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shallot.

Part IV
In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower'd Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shallot.

And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance--
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shallot.

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right--
The leaves upon her falling light--
Thro' the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shallot.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darken'd wholly,
Turn'd to tower'd Camelot.
For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shallot.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shallot.

Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they cross'd themselves for fear,
All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shallot."

Copyright © 2012 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Suddenly Sunday

Suddenly Sunday is a weekly event hosted by Svea @ The Muse in the Fog Book Review. The purpose of Suddenly Sunday is to share all the exciting events that have occurred on your blog throughout the week. If you want to participate, just grab the button & link back here.

Happy Sunday everyone! After several weeks of borderline summer weather, the rain has finally arrived and washed away any thoughts of an early trip to the beach, lol. Still, I have felt completely deprived of my rainy weather reading days this year, so I hope this storm system sticks around for a while. On a non-weather front, school isn't too intense at the moment, so I've been able to enjoy my English Lit class to the fullest. We've gone through the Romantic and Victorian periods and are now entering into the 20th century. It's been predominantly poetry so far, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I do hope we evaluate some fiction in the coming weeks. Well, before I start rambling on about my favorite pieces of poetry I've discovered in my English class, let me recap what's been going on here at The Muse in the Fog Book Review:

Reviews Posted Over the Last Few Weeks:

Currently Reading:


Reviews Coming Up This Week:


And now for the Suddenly Sunday Question:
If you could choose one book to be adapted into a movie what would it be?

I would say The Pink Carnation Series, but I fear that any adaptation would spoil the vivid interpretation my mind has already created. Therefore, I shall have to go with Elizabeth Chadwick's The Scarlet Lion. Now if I really wanted to be picky, I would also have it played by actors reminiscent of the 1938 movie The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Have a great week & happy reading!

Copyright © 2012 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison

Publish Date: March 6th 2012
Format: Paperback 336 pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"From Kathryn Harrison, one of America’s most admired literary voices, comes a gorgeously written, enthralling novel set in the final days of Russia’s Romanov Empire. 
St. Petersburg, 1917. After Rasputin’s body is pulled from the icy waters of the Neva River, his eighteen-year-old daughter, Masha, is sent to live at the imperial palace with Tsar Nikolay and his family—including the headstrong Prince Alyosha. Desperately hoping that Masha has inherited Rasputin’s miraculous healing powers, Tsarina Alexandra asks her to tend to Aloysha, who suffers from hemophilia, a blood disease that keeps the boy confined to his sickbed, lest a simple scrape or bump prove fatal. 
Two months after Masha arrives at the palace, the tsar is forced to abdicate, and Bolsheviks place the royal family under house arrest. As Russia descends into civil war, Masha and Alyosha grieve the loss of their former lives, finding solace in each other’s company. To escape the confinement of the palace, they tell stories—some embellished and some entirely imagined—about Nikolay and Alexandra’s courtship, Rasputin’s many exploits, and the wild and wonderful country on the brink of an irrevocable transformation. In the worlds of their imagination, the weak become strong, legend becomes fact, and a future that will never come to pass feels close at hand. 
Mesmerizing, haunting, and told in Kathryn Harrison’s signature crystalline prose, Enchantments is a love story about two people who come together as everything around them is falling apart."

My Review: 

Throughout history, the tragedy of the Romanov's has been portrayed in film and literature, with a focus on the rumor that one of the Romanov children might have escaped the devastating massacre. Even though new DNA evidence has ruled out the possibility of that rumor being true, the majority of work tends to indulge in the myth. That's why Kathryn Harrison's novel Enchantments is such a heart warming journey through the last day's of the Romanov family. Since there is no possibility of an alternate ending, the reader is able to appreciate each characters story on a deeper level, creating a bittersweet experience from beginning to end.

Another delightful aspect of Enchantments was the choice of main characters: Alyosha, the young Tsesarevich, and Masha, Rasputin's daughter. Until now, Aloysha has always appeared to be a frail boy with little spirit. But in this novel, he becomes a three dimensional figure who is vivacious despite his physical limitations. Through his companion, Masha, the reader is told various stories about her mysterious father Gregory Rasputin; It is here the real story of Enchantments takes place. The stories of Rasputin weave together the lives of the Romanov family and their doomed fate, creating a haunting tapestry of devotion, turmoil and longing.

The novel is told solely from Masha's point of view, but there is a bit of time jumping due to her various stories, which does lead to some confusing moments. The stories do not seem to flow in chronological order and are not properly marked, so multitasking while reading is not recommended. Besides this issue there is nothing but the highest praise to be said for Enchantments. This is definitely a must read for anyone even remotely interested in the Romanov family. 

Kathryn Harrison’s TLC Book Tours tour stops: 

Copyright © 2012 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.
FTC: I received this book from the author. As always these are my own honest opinions

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Upcoming 2012 Historical Fiction Release! The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Pre Order: 

Publish Date: April 3rd, 2012
Format: Hardcover 496pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher): 
"The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza's family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future. 
Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America, Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to forge a life without him, begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the international singing sensation, Enrico Caruso. 
From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever. 
Lush and evocative, told in tantalizing detail and enriched with lovable, unforgettable characters, The Shoemaker's Wifeis a portrait of the times, the places and the people who defined the immigrant experience, claiming their portion of the American dream with ambition and resolve, cutting it to fit their needs like the finest Italian silk. 
This riveting historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny is the novel Adriana Trigiani was born to write, one inspired by her own family history and the love of tradition that has propelled her body of bestselling novels to international acclaim. Like Lucia, Lucia, The Shoemaker's Wife defines an era with clarity and splendor, with operatic scope and a vivid cast of characters who will live on in the imaginations of readers for years to come."

Copyright © 2012 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the exciting books that came into their house last week via post. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page, and is currently being hosted by Anna at Diary of an Eccentric for the month of March. 

For Review:

by Kate Quinn

Publish Date: April 3rd 2012
Format: Paperback 512pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"Powerful, prosperous, and expanding ever farther into the untamed world, the Roman Empire has reached its zenith under the rule of the beloved Emperor Trajan. But neither Trajan nor his reign can last forever… 
Brash and headstrong, Vix is a celebrated ex-gladiator returned to Rome to make his fortune. The sinuous, elusive Sabina is a senator’s daughter who craves adventure. Sometimes lovers, sometimes enemies, Vix and Sabina are united by their devotion to Trajan. But others are already maneuvering in the shadows. Trajan’s ambitious Empress has her own plans for Sabina. And the aristocratic Hadrian—the Empress’s ruthless protégé and Vix’s mortal enemy—has ambitions he confesses to no one, ambitions rooted in a secret prophecy.

When Trajan falls, the hardened soldier, the enigmatic empress, the adventurous girl, and the scheming politician will all be caught in a deadly whirlwind of desire and death that may seal their fates, and that of the entire Roman Empire."

Purchased from B&N:

by Sharon Key Penman
Format: Hardcover 608pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"From the New York Times-bestselling novelist, a stunning story of a great medieval warrior-king, the accomplished and controversial son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine: Richard, Coeur de Lion. 
They were called "The Devil's Brood," though never to their faces. They were the four surviving sons of Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine. With two such extraordinary parents, much was expected of them. 
But the eldest-charming yet mercurial-would turn on his father and, like his brother Geoffrey, meet an early death. When Henry died, Richard would take the throne and, almost immediately, set off for the Holy Land. This was the Third Crusade, and it would be characterized by internecine warfare among the Christians and extraordinary campaigns against the Saracens. And, back in England, by the conniving of Richard's youngest brother, John, to steal his crown. 
In Lionheart, Sharon Kay Penman displays her remarkable mastery of historical detail and her acute understanding of human foibles. The result is a powerful story of intrigue, war, and- surprisingly-effective diplomacy, played out against the roiling conflicts of love and loyalty, passion and treachery, all set against the rich textures of the Holy Land."

What delights arrives at your door?

Copyright © 2012 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Welcome to the 2nd annual Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop, hosted by I am a Reader not a Writer and  co-hosted By Books Complete Me & Author Cindy Thomas.

An Irish themed giveaway hop deserves no less than an Irish themed prize! Therefore, I have one brand new copy of  Jules Watson's The Raven Queen to giveaway via rafflecopter.

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"In this dazzling retelling of one of Ireland’s most stirring legends, acclaimed author Jules Watson brings to life the story of Maeve, the raven queen, who is as fierce as she is captivating.

She was born to be a pawn, used to secure her father’s royal hold on his land. She was forced to advance his will through marriage—her own desires always thwarted. But free-spirited Maeve will no longer endure the schemes of her latest husband, Conor, the cunning ruler of Ulster. And when her father’s death puts her homeland at the mercy of its greedy lords and Conor’s forces, Maeve knows she must at last come into her own power to save it.
With secret skill and daring, Maeve proves herself the equal of any warrior on the battlefield. With intelligence and stealth, she learns the strategies—and sacrifices—of ruling a kingdom through treacherous alliances. And to draw on the dangerous magic of her country’s oldest gods, Maeve seeks out the wandering druid Ruan, whose unexpected passion and strange connection to the worlds of spirit imperil everything Maeve thought true about herself—and put her at war with both her duty and her fate."

Giveaway Guidelines:

This is an international giveaway! 
Must be a follower via GFC (google friend connect)
Fill out the form below

Giveaway ends March 22nd
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Copyright © 2012 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Finds at the Bookstore: Katherine the Queen by Linda Porter

Every Friday I will be posting my latest book discovery that I found while browsing the bookstore or the library. If you'd like to join in on the fun feel free to do so, just link back to this blog :) 

by Linda Porter (non-fic)
Publish Date: December 20th 2011
Format: Paperback 416pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"The general perception of Katherine Parr is that she was a provincial nobody with intellectual pretensions who became queen of England because the king needed a nurse as his health declined. Yet the real Katherine Parr was attractive, passionate, ambitious, and highly intelligent. Thirty years old (younger than Anne Boleyn had been) when she married the king, she was twice widowed and held hostage by the northern rebels during the great uprising of 1536–37 known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. Her life had been dramatic even before she became queen and it would remain so after Henry’s death. She hastily and secretly married her old flame, the rakish Sir Thomas Seymour, and died shortly after giving birth to her only child in September 1548. Her brief happiness was undermined by the very public flirtation of her husband and stepdaughter, Princess Elizabeth. She was one of the most influential and active queen consorts in English history, and this is her story."

Copyright © 2012 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Upcoming 2012 Historical Fiction Release (Cover Update): The Second Empress by Michelle Moran

(US Cover)
Publish Date: August 14th, 2012
Format: Hardcover 448 pp

(UK Cover)
Publish Date: July 5th, 2012
Format: Hardcover 448 pp

To learn more about this novel and other works by Michelle Moran please visit her website: 

Copyright © 2012 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review: By the King's Design by Christine Trent

Publish Date: February 2012
Format: Paperback 384 pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"Annabelle "Belle" Stirling inherited the family draper shop from her late father, only to have it sabotaged by her ne'er-do-well brother, Wesley. Belle travels to London to seek redress, and while there, the Prince Regent, future King George IV, commissions her to provide fabrics for his Royal Pavilion. As Belle's renown spreads, she meets handsome cabinetmaker Putnam Boyce, but worries that marriage will mean sacrificing her now flourishing shop. When Wesley plots to kidnap the newly crowned King, Belle finds herself entangled in a duplicitous world of shifting allegiances, where every choice could have unexpected consequences for her future, her safety, and her kingdom..."

My Review:

Just like the rest of Christine Trent's novels, By the King's Design was a quick and enjoyable reading experience. The heroine, Annabelle Stirling, is a lovely character, full of spirit and determination; it's impossible not to be captivated by her story. Unlike the endearing qualities of Annabelle, King George IV possessed the exact opposite. This is the first time I've read about him in a novel, and I can definitely say that my opinion of him has not improved in the least. Christine did a fantastic job of creating a realistic experience of what the citizens felt during his reign. Unfortunately, in addition to dealing with King George IV, Annabelle also had to cope with the treasonous actions of her brother Wesley. Wesley was a selfish and weak character, but there was a constant feeling of a redeemable quality lurking somewhere inside him, which is probably why I still liked him despite his horrid treatment of Annabelle.

The novel is told from multiple points of view which lead to some confusion some choppy moments, but this was a minor flaw and didn't take away from the pace or impact of the plot. In contrast to some books which give the feeling of reading unnecessary information, Christine was able to teach the reader about a the draping trade in an intriguing and relevant way. Another delightful aspect of this book was her use of authors and play-writes of the era. I thoroughly enjoyed the moments spent with Jane Austen, and it was a delight to see Sheridan's play The Rivals mentioned as well. If you are interested in Regency England or are merely looking for a pleasurable story to read on a relaxing weekend, By the King's Design is definitely a book to consider first.

Copyright © 2012 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.
FTC: I received this book from the author. As always these are my own honest opinions.