Cynthia Haggard’s “The Thwarted Queen” ~Thirteen Thursday Pre-Review Commentary!!

Elizabeth Woodville (1437–92), Queen Con...

Elizabeth Woodville (1437–92), Queen Consort of Edward IV of England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edward IV Plantagenet (1442-1483)

Edward IV Plantagenet (1442-1483) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The Thwarted Queen” is a beautifully written historical novel I’ll be reviewing next week, but in preview to that, I’d like to bring you these two notices: a quick summary and “Thirteen Thursday!”   Here’s a summary of the book~

“Cecylee is the apple of her mother’s eye. The seventh daughter, she is the only one left unmarried by 1424, the year she turns nine. In her father’s eyes, however, she is merely a valuable pawn in the game of marriage. The Earl of Westmorland plans to marry his youngest daughter to 13-year-old Richard, Duke of York, who is close to the throne. He wants this splendid match to take place so badly, he locks his daughter up.

The event that fuels the narrative is Cecylee’s encounter with Blaybourne, a handsome archer, when she is twenty-six years old. This love affair produces a child (the “One Seed” of Book II), who becomes King Edward IV. But how does a public figure like Cecylee, whose position depends upon the goodwill of her husband, carry off such an affair? The duke could have locked her up, or disposed of this illegitimate son.

But Richard does neither, keeping her firmly by his side as he tries to make his voice heard in the tumultuous years that encompass the end of the Hundred Years War – during which England loses all of her possessions in France – and the opening phase of the Wars of the Roses. He inherits the political mantle of his mentor Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, and become’s the people’s champion. The rambunctious Londoners are unhappy that their country has become mired in misrule due to the ineptitude of a King prone to fits of madness. Nor are they better pleased by the attempts of the King’s French wife to maneuver herself into power, especially as she was responsible for England’s losses in France. But can Richard and Cecylee prevail? Everywhere, their enemies lurk in the shadows.

This book is filled with many voices, not least those of the Londoners, who forged their political destiny by engaging in public debate with the powerful aristocrats of the time. By their courageous acts, these fifteenth-century Londoners set the stage for American Democracy.”

Now, Let the Games Begin!

Welcome to Thursday Thirteen, Ms Haggard! 

THIRTEEN REASONS TO READ/BUY THWARTED QUEEN:

REASON NUMBER THIRTEEN: I came to novel writing by accident, taking courses in creative writing to hone my prose style. But once I’d started, I couldn’t stop. I love writing novels and hope that every reader enjoys reading my work as much as I enjoyed writing it.

REASON NUMBER TWELVE: I wrote this novel because I heard that British historian Michael K. Jones had come across some evidence showing that one of Cecylee’s sons was illegitimate. Since that particular son became Edward IV of England, and since the present Queen of England traces her lineage through this monarch, it throws her claim to the throne into doubt.

REASON NUMBER ELEVEN: I wrote this novel because I had a burning question: What on earth did Cecylee say to her husband Richard of York, when he returned from his summer campaign only to find her expecting another’s child? How did she manage to persuade him to keep the child and make that child his heir?

REASON NUMBER TEN: Before I wrote a word of THWARTED QUEEN, I consulted many history books about the time period (the wars of the roses).

REASON NUMBER NINE: I started the actual writing of the novel by taking THREE courses on the craft of writing.

REASON NUMBER EIGHT: I took SEVEN years to write it, to perfect my craft.

REASON NUMBER SEVEN: I solicited feedback from many people, including professional writers and editors.

REASON NUMBER SIX: I spent money to have it edited.

REASON NUMBER FIVE: I hired a professional to transform my Word documents into Mobi and ePub files.

REASON NUMBER FOUR: I organized a photo shoot to obtain images I could use for the cover design.

REASON NUMBER THREE: I taught myself Photoshop in FIVE days to design the cover. I also did the interior design.

REASON NUMBER TWO: I turned a hobby into a business, educating myself about the publishing industry by going to conferences, and taking online courses and webinars.

REASON NUMBER ONE: The story is fabulous. Cecylee is an engaging character. And I tell the whole story of her life, from age 9 to age 80.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this feature, and will come back to read the interview of Ms Haggard and more about her book next Friday, May 25th.  I’m also holding a GIVEAWAY  at that time!!!

Thanks for taking time to stop by!                Deborah/TheBookishDame

“Houses”~A Nostalgic and Brilliant Novel

“Houses” is about the many beautiful, enduring and literally earth-shattering epidodes that women and men experience in life. It’s how the locust-like numbers of “baby boomers”…in our gusto for living, for challenge and change, helped bring about impassioned awareness, and long standing, meaningful new ways of living in our generation…not just social unrest, mindless war, entitlements and greed. And, we continue to effect social, spiritual, political and cultural change even today.

Ms Parks processes the conflicts of being a woman during the turbulent years of the mid-to end of the 20th century. Specifically, we follow the life story of Lacey Winters, a girl whose growing up years to current “golden years” will leave a lasting impression on readers of all ages.

Readers are taken on a nostalgic trip through childhood days of playing outside with neighborhood friends, the Kennedy and Martin Luther King days, civil and women’s rights, the Viet Nam War, the bliss of first love, and the self-affirming conviction of being politically active for the first time. We come to know and love her family members, her friends both male and female and her loved ones.

We relive Lacey’s agonies, [the agonies we, ourselves, may have endured, possibly still do!] to be a “good Mom” while minding the house and budget, working for a pittance at a boring/stagnant job, and trying to take one or two classes at a time to finish a college degree so that some day it might be possible to become what she “is.” All of this only to find herself alone and most of those she loved gone by the time she “got there.”

Ultimately, Lacey does find a satisfaction from things fought for and won, and they give some consolation keeping her in the game, though the questions and conflicts of the nature of being a nurturer and/or a concerned parent still linger even to our childrens’ generation.

In chosing the title, “Houses,” Ms Parks chooses a metaphor relating to the different houses either lived in, toured, loved or hated, by Lacey to define the stages of her life, and the expressions of her “self.” This brilliant symbol leaves an indelible mark, causing us to examine ourselves in the same context. Parks is a powerful writer.

I want to leave these quotes of so many brilliant ones in this novel:

“Maybe I’m naive, but I’m hopeful that our daughters and granddaughters will find it easier. The internet and telecommunicating now offer the promise, not just of a greener way of working, but of an avenue, for both men and women, to productive and fulfilling work that doesn’t require abandoning the home, especially the children, whose needs don’t always correspond to nine to five scheduling. We have the Family Leave Act now and the notion of daycare in the workplace seems less radical. The stay-at-home dad is not such a joke.”

and:        

” This, chickadees, is (sic) the things about happiness.  You must take it where you find it.  Don’t question or second guess or wish for minor modifications.  Laugh, eat, joke.  Bounce the baby on your knee.  Don’t look forward or back.  Keep your eyes focused on the faces around you.  One of them may be missing come next year. Come next year everything may be entirely different.  Memory may have to darken your perfect day with its tincture of melancholy and the happiness will never seem so clear and real again…Should you find yourself happy, as happy as I was that Thanksgiving Day, don’t even think. Just be….Eat all you want”

This book is brilliant and readable. Ms Parks is a writer you’ll not soon forget.
While we sit on the cusp of the lst quarter of the 21st century, I know many of us will never rest on the footings we’ve gained in so many areas of our American lives…I hope and pray our children and grandchildren will continue to walk with us.

Deborah/TheBookishDame

“The Last Train from Paris” ~ Love, Art and the Resistance ~ WWII

The Last Train from Paris”~Love, Art and Parisian Patriots in WWII

A novel about Paris, not just the beautiful “City of the Lights,” but a city captured and terrorized in the grip of a hostile German army in WWII, this is a book I couldn’t help dying to read. I love Paris above all European cities, and my heart just stops at the thought of anyone destroying a single piece of its architecture or fine arts.

So, I could hardly wait to tell you that this book will leave you breathless and pensive. From the very first paragraphs you will be taken in to the epic story of lovers and liars, artists and anti-heros…

Stacy Cohen paints with a gentle hand and delft stokes the story of an occupied Paris that is so confined and crippled that you feel the constraints of it as you read. We come to know and love favored contemporary artists Miro and the grumpy but irrepressible Matisse, who take under wing the talented but fledgling young artist, Jean Luc Beauchamp.

Jean Luc becomes the hero of this story as we follow his passions of art, true love for a beautiful Russian ballerina with a secret, and love of Paris…all elements of the human story and the battle of good vs. evil. Ms Cohen also provides us a German Oberst officer villian to heat up the struggles. He’s interesting, darkly intriguing and easy to hate.

A novel that will set you adrift into another time, “The Last Train for Paris,” will catch you up in a story that will rush over your heart and bring you to tears. It is a story that will create a righteous indignation about the savaging of the arts, and the art thefts of WWII. And, it is a novel that will remain with you should you visit Paris or when you think of its beauty and many treasures.

Hopefully, you will never find yourself taking the last train from Paris…but always going toward Paris. It is the most beautiful and mysterious of European cities. Just like cities all over the world in these times and in the past, it is worthy of our concerns and protection.

I’m grateful to Ms Cohen for reminding me of that. It took many brave hearts in the Resistance to liberate Paris and France from a hostile enemy. Theirs is a story that is beautifully rendered in “The Last Train from Paris.”

Highly recommended and timely.

****
Since Ms Cohen is a most admirable woman in every respect,  I wanted to add this very interesting information about her for you:
 
“Stacy Cohen, author, philanthropist, and life-style consultant continues to bring her passion for love and life to everything she does.  With her first novel, she creates a distinct voice that combines her passions for art, history, and the undying power of love….
In the world of international philanthropy, she has been a tireless advocate of children, including her support of Camp Okizu, the largest camp in Northern California for children and their families affected by cancer.  She has raised hundreds of thousands for children’s hospitals and funded a special performance by the Russian National Orchestra in support of Russian orphans, bringing her love for children and her passion for the arts full circle.”
 
Your Bookish Dame/Deb

New Deanna Raybourn Book!

Review: Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn

Posted: 02 Oct 2010 10:00 AM PDT

http://luxuryreading.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/dark-road-to-darjeeling.jpgReviewed by Jenna A.

Deanna Raybourn submerses us in a world of ball gowns, Rajahs, mystery and death in the 1889 setting of Dark Road to Darjeeling. Set in India, the story begins with a series of small introductions to the Marchs, a predominant family stretched across continents and time. At a time when gowns were seen commonplace, private investigators flourished and mystery in the world still abounded, the story finds us at the honeymoon of our most notorious and elusive characters, Brisbane and Lady Julia.

On their world travels, the newly married Brisbane and Lady Julia are suprised to find in their dining parlor Plum and Portia, Lady Julia’s siblings, beckoning them to India.

Upon arrival, Portia tells a story about her once lover, Jane, who had ran away to India to marry Portia’s distant cousin; the cousin died shortly after under mysterious circumstances. Begging Brisbane and Julia to accompany her to India, they embark unknowingly on a trip of disaster, and deeply hidden secrets. Slowly and reluctantly, Portia reveals to her sister that she indeed fears the worst: that Mr. Cavendish, Jane’s husband, was murdered and Jane may be next. Quietly and without arousing suspicions, Lady Julia must find the truth in a family tree where secrets rule lives.

Thoughtful and whimsical, Dark Road to Darjeeling has the air of a classic 19th century exotic mystery. With an airy yet solid plot and strong subtext, the story allows the readers to think outside the box, and explore their thoughts, feelings, and suspicions in the fantastical world of The Marchs and Cavendishs.

The story was entertaining, however, what it gained and achieved in plot and flow, it lacked slightly in climactic tones and suspense, leaving readers in a monotone pattern of satisfaction. Written with a feminine undertone, Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia is definitely appealing to the more romance taken, unfortunately leaving the book less as a craving for the male and dark mystery infatuated readers.

Raybourn has created another successful addition for fans of the series who were left wanting more after Lady Julia and Brisbane’s last appearance. I would not recommend this novel to those who find interest in darker or more thriller-type mysteries; however, I would highly recommend this story to those female readers who crave just a little bit more romance and intrigue in their everyday lives.

Please visit Deanna Raybourn’s website to learn more about her books.

Jenna lives in a small town in Ohio with her fiance and cat Osiris. Along with her passion for reading and the literary world, she is also a painter, poet, fiction writer, and amateur photographer.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Mira Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.