Saturday, May 14, 2016

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Blog Tour - The Rivals of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles #2 in Trilogy) by Sallie Christie

02_The Rivals of Versaille

The Rivals of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #2) by Sally Christie

Publication Date: April 5, 2016 
Atria Books eBook & Paperback
 448 Pages 
 Genre: Historical Fiction

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And you thought sisters were a thing to fear! In this compelling follow-up to Sally Christie’s clever and absorbing debut, we meet none other than the Marquise de Pompadour, one of the greatest beauties of her generation and the first bourgeois mistress ever to grace the hallowed halls of Versailles. 

The year is 1745 and Louis XV’s bed is once again empty. Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a beautiful girl from the middle classes. As a child, a fortune teller had mapped out Jeanne’s destiny: she would become the lover of a king and the most powerful woman in the land. Eventually connections, luck, and a little scheming pave her way to Versailles and into the King’s arms. All too soon, conniving politicians and hopeful beauties seek to replace the bourgeoise interloper with a more suitable mistress. As Jeanne, now the Marquise de Pompadour, takes on her many rivals—including a lustful lady-in-waiting, a precocious 14-year-old prostitute, and even a cousin of the notorious Nesle sisters—she helps the king give himself over to a life of luxury and depravity. Around them, war rages, discontent grows, and France inches ever closer to the Revolution. Enigmatic beauty, social climber, actress, trendsetter, patron of the arts, spendthrift, whoremonger, friend, lover, foe: history books say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour. 

Alongside Catherine the Great of Russia and Maria Theresa of Austria, she is considered one of the three most powerful women of the 18th century, and one of the most influential royal mistresses of all time. In The Rivals of Versailles, Christie gets to the heart of Pompadour’s legendary relationship with Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” king. Pompadour was not only his mistress, but his confidante and influential political adviser for close to twenty years. Full of historical insight, decadence, wit and scandal, The Rivals of Versailles is about one woman’s trials and triumphs, her love for a king, and her role in shaping a nation.

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The Mistresses of Versailles Series

My Review

            "The Rivals of Versailles” by Sally Christie is just as amazing as the first book in the series, “The Sisters of Versailles.” I was pleasantly surprised at how seamlessly it picked up with the intrigue, action, and passion from the first book! Mr. Christie is truly a talented historical fiction author.

            This novel comes on the heels of the last Nesle sister to grace King Louis XV’s bed as a mistress. The first book in the series is about the king’s affinity for sisters, while “The Rivals of Versailles” starts up near the beginning of Jeanne Poisson’s (better known as Madame Pompadour) reign as the Royal Mistress. While I adored “The Sisters of Versailles”, I felt that I was better able to connect with Madam Pompadour. I think this might have been because there she was the only main character to really keep track of, rather than the four Nesle sisters. Plus, I felt like I learned a lot more about the time period in general, because Madame Pompadour was very involved in the king’s decisions for France. Ms. Christie really brought her to life through this novel. She is described as such a strong and engaging person. She had to deal with a lot of negativity as the first bourgeois mistress of King Louis XV, but eventually she hardened herself to the condescending attitudes of those around her, and she made a place for herself in history. The kind certainly did not make her life easy, and over the course of his relationship with her, he was not exactly faithful! Madame Pompadour was able to retain her position in Louis’ life for almost 20 years due to the fact that she was able to survive the intrigue of Versailles, and keep Louis dependent on her friendship and advice. She also showed her rivals that she was an enemy they did not want, and when she went up against those who tried to usurp her position in Louis’ heart, she won.

            It is obvious that Sally Christie admired Madame Pompadour, and once you finish the book, you are a true fan of hers as well. History doesn’t always paint her in the kindest light, because of her influence on the king, so it’s great to see her through a different lens. This series is absolutely fantastic, and I am so excited about the next and final novel in the series, “The Enemies of Versailles”!

Without a doubt this is a FIVE out of FIVE!

About the Author

04_Sally Christie_Author
I'm a life-long history buff - and I mean life-long. One of the first adult books I read was Antonia Fraser's masterful Mary, Queen of Scots. Wow! That book just blew my little ten year old mind: something about the way it brought the past right back to life, made it live again on the page. I date my obsession with history to that time, but I'd been writing ("writing") ever since I was able to hold a pencil. If you'd told my 12-year old self that I'd not be a writer when I grew up, I would have laughed you out of the tree house. With a few detours along the way, to work overseas in consulting and development, as well as to go to business school, I've finally come full circle to where I think I should be. I currently live in Toronto and when I'm not writing, I'm playing lots of tennis; doing random historical research (old census records are my favorite); playing Scrabble, and squirrel-watching (the room where I write has French doors leading out to a deck; I avidly follow, and feed, a scruffy gang). 

 For more information please visit Sally Christie's website. You can also find her on Goodreads and Pinterest.

Blog Tour Schedule

Sunday, May 1
Review at A Book Drunkard
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, May 2
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Tuesday, May 3
Interview at The Maiden's Court
Wednesday, May 4
Review at To Read or Not to Read
Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book
Review, Guest Post, & Giveaway at History Undressed
Thursday, May 5
Review at Bookish
Friday, May 6
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Monday, May 9
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Guest Post at
Tuesday, May 10
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, May 11
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Thursday, May 12
Review at The Lit Bitch
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, May 13
Review at
Sunday, May 15
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession


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Sunday, April 17, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Battle of Agincourt Edited by Anne Curry and Malcolm Mercer

344 Pages
Yale University Press
November 17, 2015


Published in partnership with the Royal Armouries, this comprehensive, sumptuously illustrated volume provides a defining reassessment of England’s legendary victory on the fields of Agincourt on October 25, 1415. Dramatized by William Shakespeare in Henry V, the Battle of Agincourt changed the course of the Hundred Years War and Britain’s relationship with her longtime enemy, France. In a remarkable work commemorating the 600th anniversary of arguably the most iconic military engagement of the medieval era, a wide range of experts examine the battle in its political, cultural, and geographical contexts, detailing strategies, tactics, armor, weapons, and fighting techniques while exploring the battlefield experiences of commanders and ordinary soldiers alike. In addition, this all-encompassing study offers deep analyses of many artifacts and aspects of the battle and its aftermath that have rarely been covered in other histories, including medicine and hygiene, the roles of faith and chivalry, the music of the times, and the experiences of women.

My Review

I was absolutely amazed when I received "The Battle of Agincourt." It is an absolutely beautiful, hardcover book that is filled with full color, crystal clear images related to Agincourt. The pictures are of different artifacts from the time period, paintings of those involved, photos of armor and weapons, and more. And, it's not 10 pages of color pictures stuck in the middle of the book, like many nonfiction novels. No, this book has these amazing pictures throughout! On basically every page there is a picture, as well as a description along with it. I spent quite a bit of time flipping through it in order to see the beautiful pictures before I even began reading it!

However, when I started to read it, I was just as impressed and as engrossed with what I was reading as I had been with the pictures. It is a nonfiction book, but information is not presented in a boring or text book like fashion. The facts are presented in a linear fashion, and you do not need to be a historian in order to easily follow along, and learn more about this battle and time period than you would have ever thought possible. I cannot even fathom the amount of research that had to have gone into this amazing book. It is the type of book that I will keep on a table in my living room, as a 'coffee table book', so that I can share the amazing photos with friends and family. Even those who are not huge history buffs can appreciate how nicely put together it is.

It is impossible to give this book less than five out of five stars. It has everything that a nonfiction book should have. If more nonfiction books were like this one, than I would spent less time lost in my historical fiction books, and more time learning about fascinating times and places in history. Reading "The Battle of Agincourt" has stirred my interest in this period in history, and I will most definitely be on the lookout for more books from this time!


“An exceptional study to mark the 600th anniversary of the victory of an invading English army over its French foes in the Battle of Agincourt . . . [A] comprehensive, one-volume survey of the battle and its significance.”—Choice

'A thought-provoking collection of studies by outstanding specialists of one of the most remarkable military campaigns of England's medieval history.'—Jonathan Sumption, author of The Hundred Years War

'A completely absorbing account of the how and why of Agincourt – strongest, and indeed unrivalled, in all aspects of the battle's historical context – and the political and social conditions surrounding it.'—Robert Hardy, author of Longbow: A Social and Military History

"Agincourt is a battle of totemic importance. This book is not only a worthy contribution to a significant anniversary in its own right, but also an essential addition to scholarship on medieval military history."—Jeremy Black

About the Authors

Anne Curry is Professor of History and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Southampton. Malcolm Mercer is Curator of Tower History at the Royal Armouries Museum. 

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Queen's Choice by Anne O'Brien

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA (January 1, 2016)
Pages: 549


Daughter of a murderer.

Duchess of Brittany.

The future Queen of England.

Joanna of Navarre knows her place in society. And defies it. Forthright, unemotional and politically minded, she is more than a match for the men in the court of Brittany. And when she inherits control of her lands after her husband's death, it's a testament to her intellect and loyal duty.

Then comes an unexpected proposal — marriage to Henry IV, King of England. The price? Abandoning her homeland, leaving her children, and sacrificing her independence.

Henry's hold on the crown is unsteady and war is brewing. Crossing the channel is a dangerous prospect. If Joanna's pride will allow it, this could be a chance to unite two nations.

But pride comes before a fall, and there are many who conspire to watch Joanna tumble from the English throne...

My Review

I honestly do not even know where to start with my review of “The Queen’s Choice. Anne O’Brien once again displays her artistry when it comes to bringing history to life. I was truly lost in medieval England every minute I spent reading it! This novel brings to light the fascinating life of Joanna of Navarre, who became Queen of England when she married King Henry IV. Although I have read hundreds of historical fiction novels set in medieval England, I knew next to nothing about her life prior to reading this novel, and only a little more about her husband, King Henry IV. I definitely had never imagined that there was a passionate love between them, or had any idea of the impact she had as Queen of England. Joanna’s strength is shown over and over throughout this novel as she sets out to prove to her husband, the King, as well as to the people of England, that she is more than just a foreign bride. She is a diplomat, a ruler, as well as an intelligent and strong woman. She is determined to sit beside him as his queen, and as his equal. She left everything she knew, and children she loved, in order to become his queen, and to experience true love. This novel is so incredibly well written and detailed, that I challenge any fan of historical fiction not to fall in love with this book, and with Joanna.

“The Queen’s Choice” has absolutely cemented my belief that Anne O’Brien is the best historical fiction author past of present. I have read all of Philippa Gregory’s novels, most of Elizabeth Chadwick’s, many of Sharon Kay Penman and Alison Weir’s novels, as well as hundreds of other historical fiction novels, and Ms. O’Brien’s novels honestly surpass them all, in my opinion. She has the ability to bring these somewhat obscure, royal women, as well as their passionate romances to life for the reader. As you read, you really feel as though you get to know the characters, and you’re left thinking about them when the book comes to an end. The fact that most of the women she writes about are not widely known or written about is what draws me to her novels the most. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good novel about Anne Boleyn, Eleanor of Aquitaine, or Lucrezia Borgia, but it can get repetitive reading about the same famous and dramatic women from history by different authors. The royal women Anne O’Brien chooses to bring to life are women like Elizabeth of Lancaster, Katherine de Valois, Philippa of Hainault, and more. These women were all important to the history of England, and they all have fascinating stories of strength and intelligence, and they all had incredible tales of love. However, they do not have the dramatic stories of incest and adultery like Anne Boleyn and Lucrezia Borgia, or tales riding horses half naked during the Crusades and waging war on their husband like Eleanor of Aquitaine! However, with Anne O’Brien’s gift of writing, she creates novels that are able to illustrate just how amazing and interesting these women from history truly were. I go into the majority of her novels honestly not knowing how it will end, because most of the women she writes about are only secondary characters in other novels I have read. It’s refreshing to learn more about these women, and through her impeccable research, to get an idea of who they were, what their trials were in life, and how they impacted history in their own way. I cannot say enough great things about Anne O’Brien as a writer, and I await her next novel with great anticipation!

It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyways) that “The Queen’s Choice” is a clear FIVE out of FIVE stars. It’s one of those books where you wish it was possible to rate it seven or eight stars!


O’Brien cleverly intertwines the personal and political in this enjoyable, gripping tale. --The Times

"Anne O’Brien, the much-loved historical novelist who breathes new life into forgotten medieval women, is back to enchant and enthral us with a torrid tale of love, sacrifice and rebellion at the volatile court of King Henry IV…Packed with drama, danger, romance and history, The Queen’s Choice is the perfect reading choice for the long winter nights." --Pam Norfolk, PA

‘Joanna of Navarre is the feisty heroine in Anne O’Brien’s fast-paced historical novel The Queen’s Choice.--Good Housekeeping

‘A gripping story of love, heartache and political intrigue.’ --Woman & Home

"...packed with powerful emotions and tumultuous unfolding of an affair that changed the course of royal history, this is a novel in which to enjoy the past in all it rich colour and dramatic detail..."
--Lancashire Evening Post

'There are historical novels and then there are the works of Anne O'Brien - and this is another hit.'
--The Sun

About the Author

Anne was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire. After gaining a B.A. Honours degree in History at Manchester University, a PGCE at Leeds University and a Masters degree in education at Hull University, she lived in the East Riding as a teacher of history. Always a prolific reader, she enjoyed historical fiction and was encouraged to try her hand at writing. Success in short story competitions spurred her on.

Leaving teaching – but not her love of history – she wrote her first historical romance, a Regency, which was published in 2005. To date nine historical romances and a novella, ranging from medieval, through the Civil War and Restoration and back to Regency, have been published internationally.

Anne now lives with her husband in an eighteenth century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire, a wild, beautiful place on the borders between England and Wales, renowned for its black and white timbered houses, ruined castles and priories and magnificent churches. Steeped in history, famous people and bloody deeds as well as ghosts and folk lore, it has given her inspiration for her writing. Since living there she has become hooked on medieval history.

Sometimes she escapes from writing. She enjoys her garden, a large, rambling area where she grows vegetables and soft fruit as well as keeping control over herbaceous flower borders, a wild garden, a small orchard and a formal pond. With an interest in herbs and their uses, Anne has a herb patch constructed on the pattern of a Tudor knot garden and enjoys cooking with the proceeds. Gardening is a perfect time for her to mull over what she’s been writing, as she wages war on the weeds.

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Purchase The Queen's Choice

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

SPOTLIGHT: Searching for Vivian by Babette Hughes

Publisher: Lamplight Press (February 25, 2016)
137 Pages


In 1966, seventeen year old Vivian Russell disappeared like smoke. The seemingly senseless murder of her parents in their home in Cleveland, Ohio was as unexplainable as her vanishing act in its aftermath. Her younger sister, Emma-traumatized by the horrific event- grows into a capable and relentless investigator who decides to do whatever it takes to find her. Her search takes her through the turbulent sixties- Viet Nam, The Black Panthers, dead ends, and bank jobs. Along the way, she finds herself and, whether she is prepared for it or not, the truth.   

About the Author

Born in Cleveland Ohio, Babette Hughes grew up in the time of Prohibition and bootleggers. Her father was one of the first bootleggers in the country, and was murdered by the Mafia in a turf war at the age of 29. Babette was just two at the time. 

Writing has allowed her to draw from her unusual life experiences to create her characters and tell their stories (and sometimes cautionary tales) in vivid detail. 

Now 93, she writes every day with fluidity and grace.  “The truth is liberating, but sometimes elusive.” She explains. “I’m always looking for it and how to best write about it, and I probably always will.”



Babette Hughes

Chapter 1

 The Cleveland Press called the murders senseless because the Russells had no known enemies
  and lord knows there wasn’t much to steal; all they had was a pickup, an old black and white TV with one snowy channel and little else. A detective was quoted in the article speculating that perhaps the killers had gone to the wrong house in some kind of a tragic mistake. But the baffling part was that the murdered couples oldest daughter, Vivian, 17, home from school with a cold that day, had vanished like smoke.
            But events like that, tragic and bizarre as they are, are soon forgotten, except perhaps when someone passes the house and wonders whatever happened to Vivian Russell. Sometimes someone hints knowingly that the Russells were drug dealers, or fences, or Russian spies. (The more years that transpired the more exotic the theories.) But for the most part people went on about their lives and, of course, as the years passed there were those too young or too new in town to have even heard of the murders or of Vivians disappearance.
             Even her sister, ten-year-old Emma, seemed to leave it behind. Even from the beginning. Even from the first day when she came home from school on a sunny Tuesday afternoon and found neighbors staring behind yellow police tape. Her parents bloody bodies were being carried on gurneys into an ambulance. Her big sister was gone. Struggling with her own grief, her Aunt Eleanor couldn’t understand the childs stoicism and as the weeks and months passed she worried about her more and more. It isn’t natural, she complained to her husband--it isn’t normal for a ten year old not to cry and carry on, not to grieve. The child acted as if she were just visiting her aunt and uncle as she sometimes did when her parents were alive; as if she hadn’t just lost her mother and father; as if her own sister hadn’t vanished into thin air. Although Thad Fisher was as shocked as anyone else over his in-laws murders, the truth is that he never really liked them and was secretly rather pleased to have them out of his life. They were damn hippies as far as he was concerned and it infuriated him the way Ellie ran over there all the time when they were alive. He had no objection to taking Emma in where could the kid go? She was a quiet, well-behaved ten-year-old, a bit dull for his taste, but a small eater and so quiet you forgot she was aroundactually an easy kid for a childless couple past middle age to raise. And she was someone Ellie could chatter to and leave him in peace.
            Still, it annoyed him the way the child refused to let Ellie out of her sight, following her from room to room, even coming into their bedroom at night in her white nightgown like an undersized ghost. After he locked their bedroom door she wailed and beat on it until she fell asleep on the floor and Thad carried her into her own bed.
            Ellie had eagerly welcomed Emmas arrival. Like many childless women she envied her friends who had children; she even envied the problems and commotion and mess they complained about. She thought of her sisters murder and Emmas sudden arrival as a kind of terrible deal from God; she lost her sister but received the child she had prayed for. Quiet and small, transparent almost, Emma seemed to take up less room than the beautiful big doll Ellie had bought her the day after she arrived, which Emma ignored. So she offered her a puppy and then a kitten, but the child merely shook her head.
            She tried to get her to talk about what happened. She tried to get her to ask questions about that terrible day. She wished the girl would grieve so she could comfort her. Or just cry. Something. Anything. But it was as if her family had been mysteriously wiped from Emmas mind like an eraser on chalkboard leaving the same cloudy, formless residue.
            Ellie took Emma to a psychiatrist who specialized in treating traumatized children; a Doctor Isabelle Dryer. She drove her to her office on Fairmount Boulevard twice a week until Dr. Dryer told her that although Emma came dutifully, she simply would not talk about the loss of her family and that after almost six months any further sessions would be a waste of Mrs. Fishers money and her time.
             Her aunt went to PTA meetings and teacher conferences and Home Room Nights like a mom and bragged to Thad about Emmas As. (Who didn’t seem very impressed at this information; his disapproval of Emmas parents hung in the air like fog.) Emma always hurried home after school to be with her Aunt Ellie. She liked her quick hugs and jokes; she liked seeing her in the shining, good-smelling kitchen in her high heals and sheer hose that she wore even around the house, even to the super market. (Ellie had beautiful legs the way some heavy-set women do.) She liked the way she sat down with her at the round yellow kitchen table while they talked and ate her freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Evenings, as Ellie prepared dinner, Emma followed her around the kitchen, putting lids back on jars, returning milk to the refrigerator, wiping the counter, sweeping the floor as the Mixmaster whirled, driving Ellie crazy.
             She put up with Emmas constant presence wondering if the child associated disorder with the blood and violence of her parents’ deaths. The child lived in a state of discipline and order, doing her homework, volunteering to clean blackboards and empty trash at school, cleaning her room, pressing her blouses. Where there were no rules, she made them up as if she had to be this perfect child or she would get lost in the world like Vivian.
            Her room was always in perfect order, clothes hung according to type, (school, gym class, dressy for dinners out with her aunt and uncle) color and season; the hangers all uniformly plastic, her shoes lined up by season and color (and later heal height although they didn’t exceeded an inch and a half). She catalogued her aunts recipes by soups, appetizers, entrees and desserts, and then alphabetized them within each category. She began to arrange them again by calorie and cholesterol count until her aunt stopped her. She organized and indexed the Fishers record collection according to type (classical, jazz, show tunes, operas, soloists.) She arranged books on their shelves not only by fiction, non-fiction and authors, but also by genres: mystery, horror, biography, (separated from autobiography) science fiction, politics, literary classics. She even created a section of books made into films. Her aunt and uncle shook their heads at each other and refused to let her into their closets or Thads den.
Emma did her best to act like a normal kid so everyone would leave her alone; still she refused to sign up for extra-curricular activities at school, her fantasy life more interesting than any chess club or work on the school paper. In a favorite daydream Uncle Thad died of a mysterious illness leaving her Aunt Ellie all to herself. When the telephone rang she imagined it was Vivian calling to say she was back from a trip to San Francisco or New York. Sometimes it was England. She pretended that her parents were divorced and that one of them would come back for her, or that they sailed to England on the Queen Mary like Patricia in her Social Studies class who stood up and bragged about her parents trip. Sometimes she pretended that her parents were both killed in a respectable car crash that wasn’t their fault. Half aware that her daydreams were an excessive and neurotic substitute for reality, they were so sweet and satisfying that if they also 

REVIEW: Blog Tour - The Vatican Princess by C.W. Gortner

The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner

02_The Vatican Princess

Publication Date: February 9, 2016 
Ballantine Books 
Hardcover, Ebook, Audiobook 
400 Pages 
 Genre: Historical Fiction

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Infamy is no accident. It is a poison in our blood. It is the price of being a Borgia.

Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias fascinated and terrorized 15th-century Renaissance Italy. Lucrezia Borgia, beloved daughter of the pope, was at the center of the dynasty’s ambitions. Slandered as a heartless seductress who lured men to their doom, was she in fact the villainess of legend, or was she trapped in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and survival? With the ascension of the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI, the new pope’s illegitimate children—his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful young daughter Lucrezia—assume an exalted position in the papal court. Privileged and adored, Lucrezia yearns to escape her childhood and play a part in her family’s fortunes. But Rome is seductive and dangerous: Alliances shift at a moment’s notice as Italy’s ruling dynasties strive to keep rivals at bay. As Lucrezia’s father faces challenges from all sides, he’s obliged to marry her off to a powerful adversary. But when she discovers the brutal truth behind her alliance, Lucrezia is plunged into a perilous gambit that will require all her wits, cunning, and guile. Escaping her marriage offers the chance of happiness with a passionate prince of Naples, yet as scandalous accusations of murder and incest build against her, menacing those she loves, Lucrezia must risk everything to overcome the lethal fate imposed upon her by her Borgia blood. Beautifully wrought, rich with fascinating historical detail, The Vatican Princess is the first novel to describe Lucrezia’s coming-of-age in her own voice—a dramatic, vivid tale set in an era of savagery and unparalleled splendor, where enemies and allies can be one and the same, and where loyalty to family can ultimately be a curse.


My Review

The Vatican Princess by C.W. Gortner was a five star read right from the beginning. I was completely pulled into the time of the Borgias, and I loved every minute of it! I have read several historical fiction novels about the Borgias, and this is by far my favorite. I love that it’s told from Lucrezia’s point of view, rather than a secondary (or made up) historical figure. With the amount of research that the author obviously put into writing this novel, you can really allow yourself to believe that Lucrezia is truly telling the story, and that it is HER voice. Rather than portray Lucrezia as a ‘man-eater’, evil, or disdainful and conceited, as some other novels about the Borgias do, this novel shows her almost as a victim (though she's not weak) of a family who has controlled and mapped out her entire life. Her father has the power to give her happiness or to take it away, and her brothers are men used to getting what they want, even if it is forbidden. The power these men have over her life could have destroyed her, but she refused to let it. To me, this version of Lucrezia makes the most sense. The idea that she was a shrewd and vindictive woman who poisoned her enemies never felt right to me. I always envisioned her as a strong and intelligent female who was held back due to the era in which she lived. Through this novel I felt like I really was able to really get to ‘know’ the different members of her family as well Lucrezia. I must be honest though, in my mind as I was reading, I was picturing the actors from the Showtime series The Borgias!

Any fan of historical fiction will love this novel. I have read elsewhere that books about the Borgias are overdone recently, but I cannot agree. C.W. Gortner shows the Borgias through a fresh lens, and has created a novel that brings this fascinating family back to life. Five out of Five stars without a doubt!


"Assiduously researched and expertly crafted . . . . This unholy plunge into Rome's darkest dynasty is wholly engrossing." - Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author 

"A spider web of Renaissance intrigue with a legendary cast . . . Impressive research, a lush background, and deft characterization make for a fascinating read." - Margaret George, New York Times bestselling author 

"Elegantly written and deeply researched . . . Renaissance Italy is vividly brought to life. I’m captivated by this knowledgeable author’s take on the controversial Borgias." - Alison Weir, NYT bestselling author

About the Author

03_CW GortnerC.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco. After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels. In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding. Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats. For more information visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner’s Newsletter for updates.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, February 15
Blog Tour Kick-Off at The Maiden's Court
Tuesday, February 16
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Interview at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, February 17
Review at Unshelfish
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, February 18
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, February 22
Review at Luxury Reading
Tuesday, February 23
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, February 24
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Thursday, February 25
Review at A Bookish Affair
Friday, February 26
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at To Read, Or Not to Read
Interview at A Bookish Affair

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Monday, February 22, 2016

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Blog Tour - Seven Will Out by JoAnn Spears

Seven Will Out: A Renaissance Revel by JoAnn Spears

02_Seven Will Out

Publication Date: October 31, 2015 
eBook & Paperback; 
528 Pages 
Genre: Historical Fiction/Humor/Satire

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If you thought "Six of One: A Tudor Riff" was the most fun you could have with your nightdress on, wait until you see what "Seven Will Out: A Renaissance Revel" has in store. Get ready for one 'ruff' night! Tudorphile Dolly thought that the night she spent on an astral plane with Henry VIII's six wives, learning their heretofore unknown secrets, was a one-time thing. Not so! In "Seven Will Out", Dolly finds herself back in the ether with the women of later Tudor times: Elizabeth I, ‘Bloody’ Mary, Bess of Hardwick, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Anne Hathaway Shakespeare, to name a few. They too have secrets that will turn history on its head, and comic sass that will keep you laughing. You've read all of the traditional, serious and romantic takes on the legendary Tudors. Why not try your Tudors with a new and different twist?

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My Review

Seven Will Out by JoAnn Spears definitely had my interest with its refreshing and witty humor about historical figures from the Tudor Period! I love that the author took a time period that is known for being a time of beheading of Queens and The Black Plague, and turned it into something fun and light. I have read countless books about the Tudors, as well as smaller historical figures from the same time period who were connected to them, so it really was entertaining to read some of the story lines the author created for these characters! Some of the ideas and twists that the author came up with had me cracking up! Never are characters from the medieval period portrayed as this much fun in other novels of this time period! They tend to be ambitious, ruthless men and women, or sweet heroines and knights in shining armor, but they are not funny!

Then, add Ms. Spears writing style that flows smoothly and easily from page to page into the mix, and you can definitely count this book as a winner. However, if you are a hard core lover of Tudor History, and have no sense of humor, and nitpick every historical fiction book there is out there, than this is probably not the book for you! If you are looking for a fun read, that will allow you to escape into a past that is not morbid and dark, than definitely grab this book! I give it a FIVE out of FIVE stars!

About the Author

03_JoAnn SpearsJoAnn Spears couldn't decide whether to major in English or History in college. Life stepped in, and she wound up with a Master’s Degree in Nursing instead. A twenty-five year nursing career didn’t extinguish that early interest in books and history. It did however stoke a decidedly gallows sense of humor. The story of the six wives of Henry VIII was JoAnn’s favorite piece of history. Over the years, she read just about every spin on the story that there was. It occurred to her that the one spin that hadn’t been brought to a full length novel about the Tudors was a gallows sense of humor. The Tudors certainly qualified for it, and JoAnn had plenty to spare. The first ‘real’ book JoAnn ever read was “The Wizard of Oz”. She returned to the Yellow Brick Road for inspiration for a new kind of Tudor novel, and “Six of One” was born. “Six of One” was begun in JoAnn’s native New Jersey. It was wrapped up in her new Smoky Mountain home in northeast Tennessee, where she is pursuing a second career as a writer. She has, however, obtained a Tennessee nursing license because a) you never stop being a nurse and b) her son Bill thinks she should be sensible and not quit her day job. While “Six of One” is a different kind of historical novel, JoAnn is a downright stereotypical lady author. She admits to the usual cats, flower beds, needlework, and frightfully complete collections of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, February 15
Spotlight & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Tuesday, February 16
Review at Turning The Pages
Wednesday, February 17
Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, February 18
Spotlight & Giveaway at CelticLady's Reviews
Friday, February 19
Interview at Historical Fiction Addicts
Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, February 22
Review at A Holland Reads
Guest Post at Boom Baby Reviews
Tuesday, February 23
Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession
Wednesday, February 24
Review at Rambling Reviews
Thursday, February 25
Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book
Friday, February 26
Guest Post at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Sunday, February 28
Review at The Tudor Enthusiast
Monday, February 29
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Giving away ONE Paperback Copy of Seven Will Out by JoAnn Spears!


*Must be 18 or older
*US or Canada Only
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