Monday, February 23, 2009

Mailbox Monday

History and historical fiction being my passion and inspiration, this photo seemed appropriate for this Mailbox Monday. They did manage to get here from Cripple Creek with five books this week.

1) regina's closet by diana m. raab
Thanks to Marcia from The Printed Page and host of Mailbox Monday
2) The Secret Keeper, by Paula Harris
3) Tater & Tot, by Andrea Burris
4) The German Woman, by Paul Griner
5) The Strain (The Strain Trilogy)by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

By the way Marcia...your book looks brand new, thank you again for sending me this. I can't wait to read it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sunday Salon, February 22, 2009

The Sunday

Thank you Iliana for visiting my blog today and letting me know something was wrong with my feed. Apparently, when I went to Feedburner about a month ago I missed a step and I was stuck on a post in January. It looked like I hadn't been around if you subscribe to my feed. In any case I am glad to say after a bit, more like an hour of troubleshooting, I think I am in business. Please let me know if you subscribe to my feed if you receive this Sunday Salon post. Thanks so much and special thanks to Iliana at Bookgirl's Nightstand.

Interview with Sandra Worth

Since many of you may have missed my feed, I have a terrific interview with a historical fiction author a few days back. You might want to check it out and see her books, review and website information.

Reading this week

...was much about History 598 and Common Good/Pursuit of Happiness..alias my American History grad course.

The Duke of Stockbridge: A Romance of Shay's Rebellion

by Edward Bellemy... was a serialized romantic fictional account of the grass-roots uprisings in 1786 by laborers and farmers against the Federalists in power. I risk sounding cliche when I say "history repeats itself", but the workers, common laborers were rebelling against taxes, foreclosures, imprisonment due to debt-basically, a major recession!! For anyone interested in American History and likes historical literary fiction, this is an interesting read. Some regional dialect of the time period is challenging to sort through in the beginning, but adds ambiance and an element of social separation by the author. It was published after Edward Bellamy's death in 1900 by his brother. He wrote it some 100 years after the event and people are still reading this novel 100+ years after he wrote it. It is striking to draw such close parallels with the recession of 1786 and our current economic climate. As for the romance....that we know will never change.

Couple of chapters left to go....

Recovery of Ecstasy,Notebooks from Siberia, by Sandy Krolick
Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung

Reviews to follow!

History 598

is again calling me to The Revolution of 1800, another long book. All essays about the election of 1800/01. I know some of you like to know my course book requirements, this is edited by Horn, Lewis, and Onuf. all of you who are suffering with colds and flu and other ills that have you in bed this is a pic for you! Feel better.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

An Interview with Sandra Worth

I am so excited today to bring to you an interview with Sandra Worth, author of several historical fiction novels. I read and then reviewed her recent book in the Rose of York Series, The King's Daughter on my New Year's Day post. Sandra has also written Lady of the Roses the first book of thes series and the Rose of York Trilogy. She has received countless awards and frequently lectures on the Wars of the Roses. Please visit her stunning websitethat will take you into her world of English Royalty.

Hi Sandra,
Thank you so much for being here today to discuss your book, The King’s Daughter. I know the blog readers will love to read this interview about Elizabeth of York, Queen of England. (wife of King Henry VII).

Wisteria, thank you so much for having me!

1) You obviously love writing about this period in England’s history. What is the allure that creates such passion compelling you to write about this time?

I first became interested in medieval England through a novel I read as a child. The story picked up where my fairytales left off, and I was fascinated because it was true history about girls in long dresses, and handsome men in shining armor. I never did let go of that book, and when the time came to write my own stories, I set them in medieval England. However, it quickly became apparent to me even as a child that the lives of real princes and princesses were complicated and usually didn’t end well. Anya Seton, my favorite author, had managed to find the one and only love story set in that time period that had a happy ending! That was KATHERINE, re-printed a few years ago and still claiming readers’ hearts.

2) Why did you decide to write about Elizabeth of York?

I first became acquainted with Elizabeth of York through her involvement with King Richard III, who she loved. After his death, she married his enemy Henry Tudor, the man who had killed him. I wondered how her life had turned out, and as I researched, I realized that here was yet another great drama.

3) Through your extensive research you must have come to know Elizabeth very well. What is your personal opinion of her. Do you like her?

I do like her very much, and I admire her for the hardships and griefs that she endured with such dignity and grace. It may seem odd to say this, but if she lived today, I think we’d be friends! Hers was not a happy lot, but she dedicated her life to good works, and went without in order to find money to help others.

4)The Queens of England have had various roles and influence during their reigns. What do you feel was Elizabeth’s greatest achievement? What was her greatest weakness?

Her greatest achievement was winning the hearts of her people and of those around her, especially her husband, Henry VII, one of the most unloveable of English kings. Her greatest weakness was her inability to assert herself. She was unable to take control of events, and was submissive to the will of others. Of course, once married to Henry VII, her situation precluded her from insisting on her way, and if she had done so (like her mother) Henry VII would have most likely done away with her, quietly, but effectively. This knowledge made her tread warily, and she—very wisely—chose her battles.

It is possible that Elizabeth’s mother had a great deal to do with this passivity. Elizabeth seems to have made a determined effort to prove herself the opposite of her angry, overbearing, domineering mother. For example, she chose as her motto “Humble and Reverent.” I see this as Elizabeth making a statement. Her mother was known for her arrogance, and piety was not regarded as one of her virtues, since she was thought to dabble in the Black Arts. Also, Elizabeth’s passivity (mentioned above) marks her as taking an opposite path through life from her mother. Elizabeth was a “healer” rather than a destroyer like her mother, Elizabeth Woodville.

5) As a young princess, Elizabeth had a loving relationship with her father, King Edward. One day after he executed his brother and Elizabeth was consoling him, she questioned his decision. Her father told her , “Sometimes a king must do what he knows is wrong, what is hateful to him. For the peace of the land.”

How do you think this defined Elizabeth? How does she cope with the strong women around her,--mother and mother-in-law?

To answer the first part of the question, it made her more accepting of Henry VII’s actions. As princess, she had witnessed the harsh realities of kingship and the sometimes cruel decisions that her father had to make. As Henry VII’s queen, she was forced to watch her husband murder her relatives, one by one. But even if she accepted that this had to be the way it was, how could she bear it as a woman of goodness and conscience? It is known that all through her married life the gift she commonly gave to others was a psalter. Perhaps here lies a clue. Helpless to alter the flow of events, she turned to prayer for sustenance.

As regards Elizabeth’s mother and mother-in-law, they seem to have been two peas in a pod. They both thirsted for power, and once they obtained it, they abused it heartily-- indulging their greed, their egos, and their paranoia. These two insufferable bullies dominated gentle Elizabeth of York while clashing violently with one another. Since power can only be met by power, eventually one of these women destroyed the other. Elizabeth of York, however, picked her battles. According to Francis Bacon, Bess Woodville is quoted as saying that her daughter was “demeaned”, in other words, not a true queen and kept low. Powerless to intervene, Elizabeth seems to have stayed out of their quarrels.

Elizabeth must have chafed under her domineering mother-in-law, but modern options such as divorce or leaving her husband were out of the question in those days. Only her husband could check her mother-in-law, but he didn’t love Elizabeth, and had no fear of her. No foreign army stood ready to march against him on her behalf, and he owed his mother his crown. So Elizabeth endured as courageously as she could.

6)How would you describe Elizabeth’s legacy?

It is a notable achievement. She healed a nation, and by sacrificing her heart and not fleeing after Bosworth, she united her country. She had no power, no money, and was of little consequence to her family. She couldn’t help those she loved, yet she won the hearts of her people and of all who knew her. When she died, her husband locked himself up to weep out the heart no one had guessed he had, and a nation plunged into mourning. She is known to history as Elizabeth the Good, and for good reason. She was truly “the people’s Queen.”

7)What would you like the readers to know most about The First Tudor Queen?

That she might be a forgotten queen, but she deserves to be remembered for the kind, gentle, beautiful, and loving person she was.

8)When writing historical fiction, I know the research is arduous and time consuming. What part of your research is the most difficult?

To capture the essence of the person you’re writing about in the absence of any surviving personal information. It’s like arranging a puzzle with way too many holes. You have to fill in the gaps, and the picture that emerges has to “fit” the known facts. So it takes a great deal of thought and imagination to see what might really have been, and to come up with a person of depth and credibility.

9) Can you tell us a little bit about your next novel and targeted release date?

Thanks, Wisteria, I’d be happy to—if I knew myself! There are two in the offing, both on the Wars of the Roses, but I don’t know which will “hit” first. I suspect one will be released close to the end of this year or early next winter, but I don’t have a release date for it yet.

This has been a great inside look from your perspective that readers don’t often have. I want to thank you Sandra for your time and the opportunity to share your thoughts about your fabulous book, The King’s Daughter. I will be one of those waiting somewhat impatiently for your next book.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mailbox Monday

There was no candy this Valentine's Day in my mailbox but I did receive the following sweet presents, all ARCS. Who needs chocolate anyway?

Follow Me by Joanna Scott
Poppy & Erethby Avi
Unpolished Gemby Alice Pung
The Recovery of Ecstasy-Notebooks from Siberia by Sandy Krolick
I,Jacqueline by Hilda Lewis

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Salon

Happy Valentine's Weekend! Hope everyone had a great week. As far as the reading goes this week I finished:

William Cooper's Town for my grad class in American History.

The Miracles of Prato a collaborative historical fiction by author Laurie Albanese and art historian Laura Morowitz.(Review forthcoming)

I, Jacqueline by Hilda Lewis,written in 1957, is a historical fiction from the 15th century. Based on the life of Jacqueline of Hainaut who was married and imprisoned three times and used as a political pawn. A woman of character and strength she withstood and survived the political environment and chaos in three courts;England,France and Burgundy. Review forthcoming in Historical Novels Review(May 09).

I'm in the middle of reading:

The Night Battles by M. F. Bloxam
Journey to Tracer's Point by Gwyn Ramsey
The Duke of Stockbridge: A Romance of Shay's Rebellion by Edward Bellemy

Upcoming on the nightstand:

Yellow Knife by Steve Kipp
Follow Me, by Joanna Scott
The Sacred Well by Antoinette May
Big Boy Rules by Steve Fainaru

I red this a while ago and had to wait for the published article to appear to print my review. This was a very interesting read for those fans of historical fiction...take a look.

William J. Everett, Booklocker, 2008, $18.95, 436pp, 9781601454188
Red Clay, Blood River is a three-century saga peppered with symbolic images and a complicated lineage of characters. Valentin Trask sails to America as an indentured servant; Jakob Trask sails to England and eventually South Africa. Thembinkosi is captured, chained, and sails to South Africa where she is enslaved. Years later, she is sold and sails to America, where she is slave to a Cherokee couple.
Earth is the narrator for this part of the story and a sagacious communicator with the women in the novel. The theme is about the connectivity we have to our world and how the earth binds us to each other. To support this, Everett presents the parallels between the Cherokee “Trail of Tears” and South Africa’s “Great Trek.”
The second story is that of Clayton, Lanier, and Marie, ecology students who met while doing research. At first I was annoyed by their conversations, wanting to focus more on the past. It becomes less intrusive as the story develops.
The author’s strength is his subtle symbolism threaded throughout, beginning with his choice of title, Red Clay, Blood River. He has planned his flow of symbols to show connections between people. The character of Thembinkosi is enchanting and regal, yet a slave, who withstood so much and complained so little. Her strength, beauty, and soul out-shined all others, enough where I would hope her story would develop more into another novel.
Everett has conveyed the harsh realities of each country’s historical events, government oppression, brutality, and the degradation of slavery. It is a story of inspiration, love, romance, and hope with a message given that deep relationships can form with others when we eliminate the lines, borders, and walls that prevent connections. -- Wisteria Leigh

I can't write much this week as I have a pinched nerve in my neck, but I did want to say hi to everyone. I hate missing a week of Sunday Salon, because it always pumps me up for the week. I love hearing about everyone's week and book choices. So hope your weeks go smoothly. Happy Valentine's Day, President's Day and Don't forget....Read Across America is coming up soon. Yeah Dr. Seuss!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Soul Enchilada by David Macinnis Gill

A copy of this book came to me to read and I had to share my review with you.
The book is intended for young adults grade 9+, but don't let that prevent you from picking this book up to read. If you can stand the heat. I highly recommend this spiced up "can't touch this" surprise debut.

Soul Enchilada, by David Macinnis Gill,Greenwillow Books/Harper Collins.978-0-06-167301-6

Soul Enchilada: The Devil is in the Details is a riotous, rip roaring ride in a 1958 Cadillac Biarritz about to be repossessed by Mr. Beals, otherwise known as Beelzebub. The current owner is Bugs, a struggling young teen, who can barely make rent, and barely make it to work. She has title to the car, because she co:signed for her grandfather, who without her knowledge, had made a side deal with the devil before his demise that included giving him his soul if he could just have this beautiful Cadillac.

The problem now is that sitting on her passenger seat is Mr Beals, invisible to all but her, and he wants payment. Papa C, her grandfather, skipped out on his last payment, his soul of course. When Bugs finds out that when she co-signed the loan she was next in line to pay up, the joy ride begins.

The setting is El Paso, Texas and Eunice “Bug” Smoot is thirteen. She is the fastest pizza delivery person in El Paso, but not fast enough to keep her job and so this story will deliver a plethora of comedic scenes and dialog that will have you rolling along with Bugs. You just can’t imagine the trouble she encounters trying to run from the devil.

David Macinnis Gill is a brilliant conversationalist accurately synthesizing the natural flowing cultural dialect, speech patterns and slang of the streets. Believable, humorous and age appropriate make the dialogue just right.
Hilarious moments as the story unfolds will grab you with chuckles, belly laughing and outright hysteria from beginning to end.

I enjoyed this book so much, I can’t wait for another adventure by this debut author. This is a must have on library shelves and will be enjoyed by all readers in high school.

David Macinnis' Website

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mailbox Monday

It was another fun week arriving home to discover treasures lying at my doorstep or at times in the mailbox. I have to give PROPS to the FedEx, UPS and USPS drivers for their patience and will to sludge through the snow and ice to get to my door. Even though there is a path and sand, sometimes they prefer to take that shortcut across the lawn. Here's to you. They are always so curious about my packages. I had one neighbor so curious, he finally asked me what I was getting in the mail all the time. Now honestly, I would never have the nerve to blatantly babble on about another person's personal deliveries. Would you? Do you have a funny story?

Here is what arrived this week in my mailbox:

1. The World in Half by Christina Henrique
2. The Suburban Dragon by Garasamo Maccagnone
3. The Age of Orphans by Laleh Khadivi
4. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
5. Secrets Unveiled by Sheshesna Pedger

...and then I received nine free books for an American History class I am taking. These are all part of a grant that our district applied for and won. I'll let you know each week which book I have to read. Yes, one book a week and they are rather challenging reads.

This week the book is:

William Cooper's Town by Alan Taylor, 549 pages. (427 text)

This Pulitzer Prize winning history about William Cooper and Early American life in the late 1700s is informative and at times remarkably humorous. Can you picture chuckling as you read a history book? Taylor makes our founding fathers real, not polyester clones of perfection. The story is about William Cooper's development and the settlement of Cooperstown. It shows his ubiquitous frenetic desire to gain acceptance into the social stratus of gentility at nearly all costs. James Fenimore Cooper's (his son)wrote the book The Pioneers, a novel where he used Cooperstown and its inhabitants as models for the story. Taylor combines both historical snippets and references to his son's novel throughout the book creating a wonderful historical narrative worthy of the Pulitzer it won.

What was in your mailbox? Does anyone want to know?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sunday Salon, The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles

William Morrow/Harper Collins

If you are a New Englander, you can’t appreciate the panoramic vistas of the Western Plains, the overshadowing mountains, the vast visual omnipresent beauty in this part of the country, unless you have been there. In The Color of Lightning, Paulette Jiles told this story as if she was recapturing the travels of Lewis and Clark. With a palette of colorful prose, a prism of grandness is picturesquely painted. This period of history presents hope and despair, promise and disappointment, good times and bad. As Americans move west, after the Civil War, settlers, black men and women are now free.

The Color of Lightning is a picture of the times. Ms. Jiles is a lyrical storyteller who captures every nuance. A time of the struggle and courage. An adjustment of space and alteration of territory. A period of learning and resisting change. Settlers moving in, Native People encroached upon.

As in any historical conflict, there are two sides, and the author handles this with delicacy and honesty serving up no blame. Opposing the grace and grandeur of the setting is the actions of the characters in the novel. With the violent bloody brutality that the settlers face with the Kiowa and Comanche, the author details the grim desperate reality of their life. The author does not diminish the harsh, hostile and violent treatment doled out by the enemy. I was surprised by the author’s honesty and commend her for adhering to historical accuracy.

My only area of concern would be the overburden of insignificant details that bog down the flow of the story at times. I am looking forward to more historical fiction by Paulette Jiles. The Color of Lightning was a spectacular achievement of storytelling quality.

Wisteria Leigh

The Color of Lightening is due out in April, thanks to Harper Collins & the First Look Program for sending the advance copy so that I could share it with you.
Have a great week!!!

Book Buddy Challenge First Review

Rebecca @ Lost in Books has read,The Life of Pi as her first book, in the Book Buddy Challenge for 2009.I have posted a sidebar list where I will post all reviews for this challenge. I will also update everyone when a new review has been received for the challenge. Great job on the review, Rebecca and thanks for sending me the email so that I could share it!!!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Let's Be Friends Award

I wanted to thank Cathy from Kittling Books for giving me this surprise award. Here is what it says:
The award says:

These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

Cathy, I want to thank you for giving me this award and I will be your friend with or without the award. As far as my friends in the blogosphere I don't want to limit this award to eight selected people. It is a very hard thing for Gemini people to do. We always want to please everyone. So, having said that....this award is for all my blog friends on Sunday Salon, and a couple who I chat with along the way. I hope to meet, chat and share with more of you very soon.


Friday Fill-Ins February 6, 2009

1. Please don't tell me I won't get paid this week.

2. Can you meet me at Borders in the morning?

3. The color blue-green makes me want to visit the ocean!

4. I have a craving for ice-cream, ice-cream, ice-cream and ice-cream.

5. If my life had a pause button, I would keep it right where it is now forever.

6. Eyes are what I first notice about people I meet.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to visiting friends, tomorrow my plans include reading for grad course...William Cooper's Town(400+pages)by Alan Taylor, I want to read, the rest of the weekend books I started and want to finish.( I hope Cooper doesn't take over my life this week).

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Sorry this is Tuesday, but I couldn't get it ready yesterday because I was too engrossed in this new book I received from Permanent Press called The Disappearance, by Efrem Sigel. I'm going to finish it tonight and I don't want to give anything away, but let me say this writer is phenomenal. Efrem takes you inside each character's being, soul, mind, thoughts and vision. Don't wait for my review. Just get it!!!

Received in my mailbox:

1. The Virago Book of Ghost Stories by Richard Dalby
2. Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly..Thanks Miriam at Hachette
3. The Big Bell and Little Bell by Alastair Graham
4. Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth (Winner of the Booker Prize
5. Secret Daughter by June Cross
6. Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, Lucia Orth
7. A Richer Dust, by Amy Boaz
8. The Night Battles, M.F. Bloxam
9. Entering Ephesus, Daphne Athas
10. The Disappearance, by Efrem Sigel

I can't wait to read and give my thoughts.