Monday, June 25, 2012

The Courtesan

Title: The Courtesan 

Author: Susan Carroll

Rating: <3 <3 <3 <3

Summary: Skilled in passion, artful in deception, and driven by betrayal, she is the glittering center of the royal court–but the most desired woman of Renaissance France will draw the wrath of a dangerous adversary.

Paris, 1575. The consort of some of Europe’s most influential men, Gabrielle Cheney is determined to secure her future by winning the heart of Henry, the Huguenot king of Navarre. As his mistress, Gabrielle hopes she might one day become the power behind the French throne. But her plans are jeopardized by Captain Nicolas Rémy, a devoted warrior whose love Gabrielle desires–and fears–above all. She will also incur the malevolence of the Dark Queen, Catherine de’ Medici, whose spies and witch-hunters are legion, and who will summon the black arts to maintain her authority. With the lives of those she loves in peril, Gabrielle must rebel against her queen to fulfill a glorious destiny she has sacrificed everything to gain.

Alive with vivid period detail and characters as vibrant as they are memorable, The Courtesan is a sweeping historical tale of dangerous intrigues, deep treachery, and one woman’s unshakable resolve to honor her heart.

Review: Gabrielle Cheney has established herself as both a woman a court, and in the arms of the men of Paris, and she is even dabbling in becoming the mistress of the Huguenot Navarre king.  However, one thing always takes Gabrielle's mind away from her conquest of power, the memory of her love the young captain Remy; who perished in the Huguenot masequere or so she believes until she receives the shock of her life, and then the tug of war begins between two very strong personalities. This part of the novel bothered me. The tug of war between Gabrielle and Remy; normally I can understand tug of war between two lovers, but the nobility in Remy's character to which he expects her character to live up to; and the attack that Gabrielle suffered were a bit over done. I suppose with these two at each other's throat's that is the point but opposite's had to attract in this book with Gabrielle's selfishness at other points because I could not stand it.  I have a feeling this will be my least favorite book of the series, with amulet's, crazy bipolar friend's and Nostradamus sightings.

The Dark Queen

Title:  The Dark Queen 

Author: Susan Carroll

Rating: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 

Summary: From Brittany’s misty shores to the decadent splendor of Paris’s royal court, one woman must fulfill her destiny–while facing the treacherous designs of Catherine de Medici, the dark queen.

She is Ariane, the Lady of Faire Isle, one of the Cheney sisters, renowned for their mystical skills and for keeping the isle secure and prosperous. But this is a time when women of ability are deemed sorceresses, when Renaissance France is torn by ruthless political intrigues, and all are held in thrall to the sinister ambitions of Queen Catherine de Medici. Then a wounded stranger arrives on Faire Isle, bearing a secret the Dark Queen will do everything in her power to possess. The only person Ariane can turn to is the comte de Renard, a nobleman with fiery determination and a past as mysterious as his own unusual gifts.

Riveting, vibrant, and breathtaking, The Dark Queen follows Ariane and Renard as they risk everything to prevent the fulfillment of a dreadful prophecy–even if they must tempt fate and their own passions.

Review: The Dark Queen was an enjoyable novel that took me into the world of Ariane the oldest of the Cheney sisters , three young girls on the verge of their twenties who having lost their Mother are now facing the debts that their Father left behind when he fled on a sea voyage to escape their Mother's illness and his guilt at having caused part of her heart ache because of his illicit affair in far off Paris.

Ariane struggles as she takes her place as the Lady of Fair Isle, who is known for protecting the inhabitants of the Island and passing down the secrets of its healing healing myths and legends to her daughters. She has learned everything she needs to know from her recently deceased Mother, and is struggling to raise her two sisters, as they grieve the total loss of one parent, and the disappearance of another.  Gabrielle the middle sister is set on escaping the island, and her past which the book, hints at is not a pleasant one, because of the pain caused by a past suitor.   And this is the least Ariane's problem's as an errant soldier comes to stay, the younger sister half nymph in training, invite's stray animal's with a look to come to roost in their home, and the local comte Renard  and Ariane, fight on and off, as he vighs, for her hand in marriage with or without her cosent; which she seems more than at times willing to give.

This book will keep you turning the pages into the night as the first in a series of truly bewitching novels.  

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Blood of Flowers

Title: Blood of Flowers

Author: Anita Amirrezvani 

Rating: <3 <3 <3 

Summary: Both a sweeping love story and a luminous portrait of a city, THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS is the mesmerizing historical novel of an ill-fated young woman whose gift as a rug designer transforms her life. Illuminated with glorious detail of persian rug-making, and brilliantly bringing to life the sights sounds and life of 17th-century Isfahan, THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS has captured readers' imaginations everywhere as a timeless tale of one woman's struggle to live a life of her choosing.

Review: The Blood of flowers took me into the world of 17th century Isfahan, the story began with a young girl who had what she thought was a secured future ahead of her with a good marriage in front of her planned by her parents who were working hard to make sure that her dowry would be provided for her, however tragedy strikes when her Father develops a sudden illness while working in the fields and despite the family and friend's best efforts, dies thus leaving the girl and her Mother destitute and having to travel to the large city of Isfahan to stay with her wealthy Uncle and his wife who treat the girl and her Mother like servants rather than like loved relatives as the young girl unlike her Mother had expected.  

Some details in the story were very interesting like the way that rugs were made in the middle east, by thousands of tiny knots, and all the details, that went into them, however the "rash" decisions that the girl made seemed a bit abrupt to me in the storyline in accordance with her character, who seemed to go back and forth between wanting to please everyone with strict obedience, then all of a sudden making a decision that didn't fit at all with her personality as a character, also in the middle or end of some of the chapters, fairytales of her culture would be told which were enjoyable when they fit with the plot; but some did not seem to fit in at all and became annoying at times.  These and the ending which was abrupt to me, were my only complaints, that and I wish there had been more cultural and sensory details, all in all it was a good read. 

Friday, June 8, 2012


Title: The Moon in the Mango Tree

Author: Pamela Binnings Ewen

Rating: <3 <3 <3 <3

Summary:Set in Siam and Europe during the 1920s, a glittering decade of change, The Moon in the Mango Tree is based upon the true story of Barbara Bond, a beautiful young opera singer from Philadelphia who is forced to choose between her fierce desire for independence—a desire to create something of her own to give purpose and meaning to her life—and a deep abiding love for her faithful missionary husband whose work creates a gap between them.
But when you choose between two things you love, must one be lost forever?

Review: The Moon in the Mango Tree takes you into the world of young Barbara Bond, who while still in high school meets the man who will become her husband, Harvey, a young man who is finishing medical school and who will eventually require Barbara to make the choice between following him into the mission field in Siam or following her love of Opera, and the career that she has always dreamed of.  The story follow's the up's and down's of their marriage as Barbara makes the choice to give up her chance at singing under the tutelage of a famous opera singer, and goes with Harvey to his post of first a missionary doctor in Siam, and later after returning to the states for a brief sabbatical returning to Siam to become doctor to members of the royal family.

During this time reader's will become involved in the live's of the young couple as they begin a family in a foreign country, learn about the culture they are living in, and go through the many heartbreaks and struggles that Barbara experiences as a missionary wife, and Mother, and as she also feels as if she has given up a part of herself for her husband and yet he has not done the same in return.  This book truly takes you to the brink of what it takes to love someone and truly sacrifice for that love, and how faith and a sacred vow can push even the strongest of bonds to their very limit.  This book was even more enjoyable for me, because it was based loosely on the author's Grandmother's life, who is pictured below the review.