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National Bestseller Mrs. Poe, by Lynn Cullen, Will Leave You Mesmerized

02_Mrs. PoePAPERBACK RELEASE! Review~

Making a huge splash in the literary world last year, and now a National Bestseller, Lynn Cullen’s Mrs. Poe is now available in paperback for your collection or for all the first time readers who have been waiting patiently. Now is no time to waste, this book is definitely worth your money! I was so excited when this book first came out, as I am a huge Edgar Allan Poe fan since high school. I can feel the depth of his soul in his writing and I couldn’t wait to see what Lynn Cullen would bring to light with her novel. Which is where my review today comes in….

If you like the time period of the late 1800s and dabbling in stories of creative types of people known for art, writing, music, plus their drama and intrigue, then you’ll want to be fully swept away in Mrs. Poe very soon! It is a pretty consuming novel. That means, the story will consume you.

Mrs. Poe will certainly suck you in from the initial chapter, as we immediately feel connected and sympathetic for Mrs. Osgood, as well as a little proud of her writing accomplishments (well, I was proud, as a fellow female writer) in a time when women were fighting heavily for equal rights. I was quick stepping right in line with her pursuits as a strong, independent woman struggling to keep her social class and station during a horrid marriage, raising children, and getting her writing acknowledgements beyond writing for children. I think Cullen, as a children and young adult author herself, could probably relate to her desire, even in this more modern age.

I loved how our eyes are inquisitive as we begin this book, just like Mrs. Osgood to her surroundings and what is being read and published.  When she alights upon the poem “The Raven,” which paved E.A. Poe quite some road to fame when it was published in The Mirror in New York City in 1845, she becomes insistent on writing similar work in order to gain readers. During this pursuit, her social circles allow for a meeting between her and the moody poet. Both are married, yet both seem to have troubled marriages.

Cullen explores the hypothesis in Mrs. Poe that Osgood and Poe begin a love affair. Her characterization of Poe makes him quite the leading man (and ladies man) of his time and we begin to see past the brooding, unsmiling, mysterious macabre writer of black and photos and into the possibility that Poe had a sensitive and alluring heart. It was quite stirring and I found myself barely able to put down the book or to stop flipping through the pages. I was enthralled in Cullen’s prose, her details, her sometimes rhythmic and rhyming phrases and her eloquent dialogue and character thoughts and movements.

It doesn’t get much better to me, if I read any romance at all, for an author to put together suspense, mystery, intrigue, dark, speculative, and forbidden love/lust, coupled with a history of art or writing. I especially enjoyed Cullen’s independent character of Mrs. Osgood and am always a fan of showcasing women in history who were feminists and forging new grounds and overcoming obstacles. It left me guessing, wondering, thinking, and feeling and provided quite an escape from the stresses of life by immersing me in an even more depressing and gut-wrenching story.

Not only did it remind me of the horrors of loss that people endured in the latter 19th Century in New York, but it gave great knowledge and enlightenment as to possible real events of Poe, his wife Virginia, Osgood, and all those surrounding them.  In the end, Cullen’s story was so well-researched that I’ll come full-circle back to say that maybe this should be considered an option for a historical biography of his life and his love for two women and a daughter. Some might still disagree with me for various reasons, but Cullen certainly spent enough time putting pieces of the puzzle together that it’s at least viable. It’s realistic, yet highly entertaining and absorbing.

Was Poe really mad, did his childhood trauma, his consuming love, stress of his marriage all compile to make him crazy? Was his death unnatural? Was his name smeared after his death? These are common questions at Poe and they all surround the people associated with him as well. Cullen writes their story up to a point and ends it with what seems like hope. Yet, we know the demise of them all…maybe Cullen has finally given credence to their souls, their hearts, and kept their hope alive.

It certainly, no  matter what, gives Frances Osgood back her rightful place in history. She was quite a poet and writer herself, becoming one of the most amazing female writers of the 19th century. I adore Cullen’s book for this, as though they enduring such hard lives and died too young, women like Osgood are indelibly remembered when a book like hers is published, becomes a bestseller, and is passed down through the years.

I absolutely loved this book. I highly recommend it readers and lovers of historical fiction that showcases artists, writers, creative people of the past. If you like eloquent novels that leave you wondering and breathless, then this one should be next on your list.

02_Mrs. PoeMrs. Poe, Synopsis~
Paperback Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Gallery Books/Simon&Schuster

READ AN EXCERPT.

Great Reads of 2013 –NPR
Books That Make Time Stand Still –Oprah.com
Editor’s Pick—The Historical Novels Review
Best Books of 2013—Atlanta Magazine
Indie Next List Pick

A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife.

It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman—especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven” has struck a public nerve.

She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.

As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar’s passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it’s too late…

Set amidst the fascinating world of New York’s literati, this smart and sexy novel offers a unique view into the life of one of history’s most unforgettable literary figures.

Praise for Mrs. Poe~

“Is it true that Edgar Allen Poe cheated on his tubercular, insipid young wife with a lady poet he’d met at a literary salon? Cullen makes you hope so.” –New York Times

“This fictional reenactment of the mistress of Edgar Allan Poe escorts you into the glittering world of New York in the 1840s…A bewitching, vivid trip into the heyday of American literary society.” –Oprah.com, Book of the Week

“Vivid…Atmospheric…Don’t miss it.” –People

“Nevermore shall you wonder what it might have been like to fall deeply in love with Edgar Allen Poe… Mrs. Poe nails the period.” –NPR

“A page-turning tale…Readers who loved Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife will relish another novel based on historical scandal and romance.” –Library Journal, starred review

“Immensely engaging…Set upon the backdrop of a fascinating era…this is not only a captivating story of forbidden lovers but an elaborately spun tale of NYC society.” –The Historical Novels Review

“A must-read for those intrigued by Poe, poetry and the latter half of nineteenth-century America.” –RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

Buy the Book

Amazon (Kindle)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble
Books-a-Million
IndieBound
iTunes
Simon & Schuster

Author Lynn Cullen, Biography~

03_Lynn CullenLynn Cullen grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the fifth girl in a family of seven children. She learned to love history combined with traveling while visiting historic sites across the U.S. on annual family camping trips.

She attended Indiana University in Bloomington and Fort Wayne, and took writing classes with Tom McHaney at Georgia State.

She wrote children’s books as her three daughters were growing up, while working in a pediatric office, and later, at Emory University on the editorial staff of a psychoanalytic journal.

While her camping expeditions across the States have become fact-finding missions across Europe, she still loves digging into the past. She does not miss, however, sleeping in musty sleeping bags. Or eating canned fruit cocktail. She now lives in Atlanta with her husband, their dog, and two unscrupulous cats.

Lynn Cullen is the author of The Creation of Eve, named among the best fiction books of 2010 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and as an April 2010 Indie Next selection. She is also the author of numerous award-winning books for children, including the young adult novel I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter, which was a 2007 Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and an ALA Best Book of 2008.

Her novel, Reign of Madness, about Juana the Mad, daughter of the Spanish Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, was chosen as a 2011 Best of the South selection by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and was a 2012 Townsend Prize finalist. Her newest novel, MRS. POE, examines the fall of Edgar Allan Poe through the eyes of poet Francis Osgood.

For more information please visit Lynn Cullen’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

 See all the reviews, interviews, articles and giveaways here:

Tour Schedule with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours~

http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/mrspoevirtualtour

Tour Hashtag: #MrsPoeBlogTour

Mrs. Poe_Tour Banne_FINAL

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Cover Reveal for The Sharp Hook of Love by Bestselling Author Sherry Jones

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO EXCITED today to show you the cover for an internationally best-selling author (and extraordinary woman and friend) Sherry Jones!! Her next book, The Sharp Hook of Love, is available now for pre-order and coming in November 2014! Without further ado, here is the cover below. I think it’s gorgeous! So full of emotion and leaves you breathless with desire to open the cover and taste the pages.

Keep scrolling below to see the what the book is all about and learn about Sherry if you haven’t come across her yet (and if you haven’t you should)!!

The Sharp Hook of Love

The Sharp Hook of Love, Synopsis~

Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: November 25th 2014
by Gallery Books, Simon & Schuster

Heloise and Abelard, the original “star-crossed” lovers — before Romeo & Juliet – dare to live, and love, on their own terms in 12th-century Paris, then lose all in one tragic stroke.

He is the most famous philosopher in the world, the arrogant headmaster of the Notre Dame Cloister School, and a poet whose songs and good looks make women swoon. She is Paris’s most brilliant young scholar, beautiful and wry, and his student. Forbidden by the church and society to love each other, Heloise and Abelard defy the rules to follow their hearts, risking everything that matters to them — including each other. An illicit child, a secret marriage, an abusive uncle: nothing, it seems, can come between them — until a vicious attack tears them apart forever. Or does it?

Sherry Jones’s THE SHARP HOOK OF LOVE is the first re-telling of this much-loved tale since the discovery, in 1999, of 113 “Lost Love Letters” between Heloise d’Argenteuil and Pierre Abelard. Incorporating excerpts from these beautiful letters, THE SHARP HOOK OF LOVE offers an intimate, erotic account of one of the most famous couples of all time, and explores the meaning of true love and the sacrifice it demands.

Add to your GoodReads!  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18759329-the-sharp-hook-of-love

PRE-ORDER from AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Sharp-Hook-Love-Sherry-Jones/dp/1451684797/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1398143998&sr=8-1

Sherry Jones, Author, Biography~

sherrySherry Jones is perhaps best known for her controversial novels, The Jewel of Medina and The Sword of Medina, international best sellers about the life of A’isha, who married the Muslim prophet Muhammad at age nine and went on to become the most famous and influential woman in Islam.

Her next book, Four Sisters, All Queens, a tale of four sisters in 13th century Provence who became queens of France, England, Germany, and Italy, came out in May 2012 from Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books. She also published a novella, White Heart, about the famous French “White Queen” Blanche de Castille, as an e-book, also from Simon & Schuster. Now, we look forward to The Sharp Hook of Love in November 2104, from Simon & Schuster, Gallery Books.

Her father was in the military, and so she grew up moving around: Germany, Texas (where she was born), New Mexico, North Carolina. As an adult she’s lived and worked in Philadelphia, Montana, and Washington state. In Montana, she worked as a reporter for twenty years, writing for nearly all the state’s dailies and freelancing for national and regional magazines including CMJ, Newsweek, Southwest Art, Rider, and various agriculture magazines.

Later, she freelanced for BNA, an international news agency in the Washington, D.C. area, and for Women’s eNews, before the success of her first two novels — international bestsellers! — allowed her to turn her attention to writing fiction full-time.

She now is also a successful freelance copywriter for several companies and lives on the West Coast, where she cooks gourmet foods, plays the piano, enjoys the arts (art, music, writing), is an advocate for women and human rights, and is a mother.

Artist Statement~

“I strive for beautifully written page-turners that explore relationships and power, especially women’s power. My novels portray women in history who have achieved power, over others as well as — especially — over their own lives, in spite of patriarchal limits. My protagonists — real women from history — have given me courage, strength, and belief in my own abilities. I hope that, in telling their stories, I can inspire others to dream big, to aim high, to dare to make a difference no matter how impossible doing so might seem.” –Sherry Jones, Author

Her website:  www.authorsherryjones.com

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Flowers in the Attic: A Gothic Must-Read Even if Movie Didn’t Deliver

Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews is a book most of us thirty-somethings remember from our teenage years spent in our bedroom savoring delectable dramatic reads, right? Under our blankets, late into the night, with flashlight in hand we embraced the sordid stories she told and realized that life wasn’t always kind.

200px-dollanganger01_flowersintheattic1

For me, Andrews was one of my first forays into Gothic horror. It was just wrapped up in a pretty enough package that it didn’t scare my mother. (If I remember right, mine had special flowers on the cover and was one of those where the flap opened up (it has a window) to the sub-page. Remember those?) Even now, when some of my women friends tell me that they just can’t stomach horror, I ask them if they read V.C. Andrews. I mean her books are shocking and scary right? As humans, we love intense drama (even if we say we don’t) and there is nothing much more dramatic or shocking than her story lines.

So why am I talking about the 1979 book Flowers in the Attic? Because V.C. Andrews’ life and books have always interested me. Further, Lifetime TV premiered their movie remake of Flowers in the Attic last night. I was highly anticipating watching this made-for-TV movie based on the cool promos,  excellent actor credits, vibrant images, and haunting music. Their marketing was SUPERB, and I know my marketing. Sucked me in, line and sinker…

flowers in the atticI can’t say I didn’t enjoy the whole “idea” of watching it, either. It could have been nostalgia, I suppose, or out of respect for the book and author that made me so certain I needed to check it out. It’s long been one of my favorite books, not due to its taboo subject matter, but because of Andrews’ ability to make us feel her character’s emotions.  I DID like that they brought the story back to life in a visual manner, especially since everyone says the last movie (circa 1987) based on the book was so awful. In fact, this Lifetime version was based on the last movie, not even the book as a whole.

I think it was great timing for them to bring to their large audience as so much of the Gothic realm is currently being brought into the mainstream (yes!!). People are anxious to define and discover the term Gothic and are curious as to the macabre tales of true or fictional people and events. Life is rough, so it helps watching something more abhorrent to remind ourselves it could be much worse. And with what’s in the news today, the occurrences really aren’t that unbelievable anymore. That’s my take anyway.

As far as the Lifetime movie itself, I was sorely disappointed. It didn’t do her book justice. If anything I hope that it makes people read the book, because people will remark that the book was WAY better and so people will jump on finding it. And it truly was better. I am not sure that the script writer even got the point of Andrews’ book. If you have some fabulous award-winning actors on board and their performance is dull and lifeless, then to me that makes me think that the script didn’t make them feel enough passion in order for them to act it out. The acting all around was just bland. The movie didn’t have enough time to really capture Andrews’ character points and development of the rags-to-riches, the motivation of money, and the force of family dynamics and demons.  After enjoying the beautiful, picturesque mansion from the outside and the crisp and colorful fashion and set design, I quickly became bored with the movie. How could that happen when the book was such a page turner?

It’s easy to understand why. It should have been a mini-series and not feel like a stage play. They had 90 minutes to really delve into the social aspects of the movie, the pain, the coming-of-age, the emotions and they barely were able to include any of it. We want dramatic television that makes of cry and weep and want to raise our children better. We want TV that makes us feel as books do and these movies never translate because they just can’t bring to us the emotional details that prose can. And that is what V.C. Andrews, who died in 1986 of breast cancer, would have wanted to give to us. She once said that her books HAD to be page turners, not bogged down with details, but with character driven emotion that would result in a reader not wanting to put the book down. Translated to TV, this should mean we are riveted with our eyes to the screen and using a Kleenex by the end.

The suffering of the children, the incest, the horrible ordeal that the children went through in the book just doesn’t even seem to have existed in this movie. The only point I was able to ascertain was one I already had in mind from reading the book. Although many schools consider this book out-of-bounds due to the content, I think that Andrews really tries to make this point:  the grandmother takes in her grandchildren and locks them in the attic so that they don’t do bad things. However, the actual act of locking them in there, where they fight for survival and depend on only each other for love, is what fuels the issue. Lines are crossed when you are under duress. I’m sure there are all sorts of life parallels to this plot. Andrews is most likely telling us that fundamentalist religion in the strictest of forms can lead to fight or flight mode as you struggle (internally and externally) to break free of those handcuffs, overstepping what is right and wrong instead of finding your own moral compass. These are all themes that make the book series phenomenal, and also forbidden in some cases, yet it’s hard to flush all that out in limited screen time.

Though I will watch the sequel, Petals in the Wind, that they say they are going to make, it will only be because I won’t be able to help myself.  However, I know the books will always be better. The series, and her writing formula for all her earlier book series, is to show the reader a progression from the turmoil of the female character and then go back and give us a prequel about what psychological issues started it all. So I’d say if you haven’t read V.C. Andrews Flowers in the Attic series, and are a fan of Gothic, speculative, or dramatic ridden books, I’d put them on your list. As for the new Lifetime movies, I’ll leave that up to you.

Flowers in the Attic, Wikipedia~

200px-Dollanganger01_FlowersInTheAtticFlowers in the Attic is a 1979 novel by V.C. Andrews. It is the first book in the Dollanganger Series, and was followed by Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, and Garden of Shadows. The novel is written in the first person from the point of view of Cathy Dollanganger. It was adapted into a film of the same name in 1987. The book was extremely popular, selling over 40 million copies worldwide.

Original cover appears at right though there are many variations!

Flowers in the Attic, Book Synopsis~

At the top of the stairs there are four secrets hidden. Blond, beautiful, innocent, and struggling to stay alive…

They were a perfect family, golden and carefree—until a heartbreaking tragedy shattered their happiness. Now, for the sake of an inheritance that will ensure their future, the children must be hidden away out of sight, as if they never existed. Kept on the top floor of their grandmother’s vast mansion, their loving mother assures them it will be just for a little while. But as brutal days swell into agonizing months and years, Cathy, Chris, and twins Cory and Carrie realize their survival is at the mercy of their cruel and superstitious grandmother…and this cramped and helpless world may be the only one they ever know.

Author V.C. Andrews, Biography~

220px-V._C._AndrewsCleo Virginia Andrews (June 6, 1923 – December 19, 1986), better known as V. C. Andrews or Virginia C. Andrews, was an American novelist. She was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. Andrews died of breast cancer at the age of 63.

Andrews’ novels combine Gothic horror and family saga, revolving around family secrets and forbidden love (frequently involving themes of consensual incest, most often between siblings), and they often include a rags-to-riches story. Her best-known novel is the infamous bestseller Flowers in the Attic (1979), a tale of four children locked in the attic of a wealthy Virginia family for over three years by their estranged religious grandmother.

Her novels were so successful that, after her death, her estate hired a ghost writer, Andrew Neiderman, to write more stories to be published under her name. In assessing a deficiency in her estate tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service argued (successfully) that Virginia Andrews’s name was a valuable commercial asset, the value of which should be included in her gross estate.[1]

Her novels have been translated into Czech, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Greek, Finnish, Hungarian, Swedish, Polish, Portuguese, Lithuanian and Hebrew .

*Photo of V.C. Andrews from Wikipedia page

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Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle Showcases the Compassionate Katherine Parr, 6th Wife of Henry VIII

Queen's GambitAh, another Tudor Era novel, with Henry VIII’s last wife, Katherine Parr at the helm. Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle was an entertaining read that I truly enjoyed because of its emotional characters, amazing insight into the human psyche, and its excellent visual details.

I know many people are exasperated by the many novels stemming from this Tudor King’s life and reign, but there are so many stories to tell and so much speculation and intrigue to behold that stories keep erupting. With so many holes in history, historical fiction writers have plenty of room to use their imaginations.  I have read some novels featuring Katherine Parr and am fascinated by her role as his sixth and final wife. I don’t think, as some do, that she is the least known wife as I’ve read other novels featuring her. However, I do feel that Fremantle has brought even more of her to light for us.

Parr was first and foremost a caregiver. In our modern times, she probably would be a doctor. She knows not only how to treat many ailments with her use of herbs, but she has an ability to see also what a person needs mentally in order to thrive.  This makes her a fabulous mother, but also a wonderful wife. She knows what a man needs and desires in a mature way and how to care for those needs.  She understands that if she puts her own emotions or needs “in check” in order to satisfy theirs, she many in the end gain peace of mind as well as success.  She cares for the happiness of others and tries to see both sides of any human being or situation. With this motherly way of reading people, she finds much success with people both before and after she is Queen.  She is extremely compassionate.

This compassion, and her caregiver skills, is most likely what drew Henry VIII to her in the first place.  It’s documented in many places that he was selfish, intolerable, and had a violent, impulsive temper, but it’s also written, sometimes more subtly, that beneath this he was a child who most likely had fears and self-esteem issues. He wanted so badly to be respected and loved, which is why I think he most adored his third wife Jane Seymour and Katherine Parr. Both women were the wives with the least personal agendas and had more caring and patient natures.  I think he felt a safety that he didn’t feel anywhere else around him in his conniving court. He found some solace, compassion, and care for the times that he was most self-aware of his faults and allowed his human vulnerability to surface.  Just as Parr felt that Elizabeth (Henry VIII’s daughter who would become Elizabeth I) was misunderstood for her impulsiveness and blunt behavior as a child and teen, she also knew that Henry had this side to him also. Taking the children, including Elizabeth, under her wing as their mother helped to ground them, support them, and ultimately for Elizabeth would secure her being able to take the Crown as a woman. She also can be credited with nurturing Elizabeth’s personality along the way in order for her to be a better ruler.

All that said, Fremantle brings these topics out in the book to me. She shows the kindness that Parr carried in her heart even after losing two husbands, being raped, and having her greatest love (Thomas Seymour) sent away when the King asked for her hand in marriage. After the King’s death, she even endured betrayal by Seymour that was beyond fathom. Yet, she remained always forgiving and kind.

During her marriage to the King, she patiently and unconditionally supported him through his pain, his rants, and his abusive sex in their bedroom. She took time to hold intellectual conversations with him, something that he seemed to revere with a partner he felt on his mental level. I believe this led to her being able to be named Regent by him during his absence when there was war with France. This wouldn’t have been an easy thing for him to do and didn’t please many of the men surrounding him, of course.  Fremantle showcased her ruling ability with the King’s counsel, and detailed her informed decisions. Her power was something almost unheard of for a woman to be doing in that era. Her strength and passion for England and her uncanny ability to see the big picture of everything and everyone, helped her rule England well during that time frame. I loved that part of the book and felt proud of her, as Fremantle showcased Parr’s determination and wisdom. I am always swayed by women in history who aren’t afraid to take on men when the cause is just and the decision right.  Her ability to rule may have been a catalyst for Henry understanding that a woman could rule England and she was a force behind him dictating that Mary and Elizabeth, as the King’s daughters, be put in the succession. I think she taught Elizabeth so much more than we could ever know and as observant as Elizabeth was, maybe even more than Parr knew herself.

Also appealing to me was Fremantle’s underlying plot line that showed how Parr kept the Protestant Reformation at a slow and important trickle, knowing that with the King she needed to ride the fine line between his Catholic ideals inbred in him and his newfound Protestant devotion. Since he himself rode the fence, never wanting to declare himself fully either way, she knew how and when to speak to him of religion, while also educating herself on the Bible and the new faith. She was a high thinker, reader, and writer, eventually publishing books herself.  Fremantle alluded in the book through various scenes of how she might have been assisting the Reformation’s agenda, but never accused Parr of ever being the trailblazer and master manipulator even when those around her such as Cat Brandon were pretty open about their Protestant beliefs and enjoyed taunting Catholic factions. However, I am sure all this group of women led to Elizabeth I’s strong Protestant faith.

I especially enjoyed the character of Dot, which was Parr’s maid from her former marriage that she brought to court with her. Being around the same age as Parr’s teen step-daughter Meg, who she also brought with her, they became like sisters. Parr’s ability to treat everyone equally no matter their social standing, sexual orientation, or bad habits really was a part of her enduring legacy. I think that Fremantle brought this to the forefront in her book. By creating a personality for Dot (not much in history is known about her), she also then brings her in as a narrator for us as readers, juxtaposing chapters with Dot’s thoughts, emotions, dreams and desires. We not only see the life of the noble playmakers at court, but we also see the life of the lower rung, much like Downtown Abbey or Upstairs/Downstairs. I have really been liking when people do this with books as we get to see how social standing stereotypes people in such wrong ways.  Commoners with dreams and intellect who can never get to fulfill their dreams due to their lineage, and how being free in a country like America was founded on this class issue, are power themes for the times and one that Fremantle takes on by giving us a well-rounded view of the relationship between Dot, the staff, and the Queen.

I liked Fremantle’s fictional character of Huicke, who was the King’s doctor, her dearest friend, and a gay man dealing with being in love with a poet/playwriter who treated him poorly.  His addition to the story was a nice complement to Parr’s character and sometimes we could get a better glimpse of her, through him. As she always put everyone before herself, Huicke put HER first and we see how someone close to her might have viewed her.

I think that all Fremantle’s characters were well-done and supported. Fremantle doesn’t write like Philippa Gregory, because her writing is even better as it is more lyrical. It’s more of a fictional tale than what Alison Weir might write, with less focus on accurate non-fiction and more spotlight on an entertaining story that is filled in with factual hypothesis. It resembles Hilary Mantel’s work, but is most like Nancy Bilyeau and Sophie Perinot to me. I enjoyed her writing style; Fremantle pulled me in and made me feel connected to Parr’s story. I didn’t want to put this book down day or night. I love history and like it to be accurate of course, but with a story like this, who cares about every tiny detail and its accuracy? I’m not saying it’s not accurate either and Fremantle addresses this at the end, but many people judge historical fiction like it should be a textbook!  It’s fiction written for our entertainment and fiction lovers who like this time period will love it. Readers who like Downtown Abbey will love it. It’s better than Showtime’s The Tudors, because her descriptions gave a more accurate portrayal of King Henry, Elizabeth I, and the Brandons and is not pretentious.

Fremantle’s descriptions of her characters were absorbing and clear, as well as it didn’t surprise me that her fashion depictions were glorious and eloquent since she is a fashion writer and editor extraordinaire. Her debut from this magazine world into fiction was a phenomenal red carpet entrance and I can’t wait to read more from Elizabeth Fremantle! I’d say this 5-star book will be another on my top books of 2013 list.

Get this book now for Fall and spend a few nights cuddled up with it, with a mug of tea on your nightstand, and let Fremantle’s tale take you to a familiar time and place, but in a whole new way.

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Giveaway!~

The giveaway is for TWO copies and that means TWO WINNERS!! It’s open to US only, though. Please comment in the section under the post and leave your email so I can contact the winner! Or email me to hookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com.

Extra entries: +3 for “liking” my Hook of a Book Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HookofaBook and +2 for following my blog.

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QUEEN’S GAMBIT, Synopsis~

Queen's GambitPublication Date: August 6, 2013
Simon & Schuster
Hardcover; 432p
ISBN-10: 147670306X

Widowed for the second time at age thirty-one Katherine Parr falls deeply for the dashing courtier Thomas Seymour and hopes at last to marry for love. However, obliged to return to court, she attracts the attentions of the ailing, egotistical, and dangerously powerful Henry VIII, who dispatches his love rival, Seymour, to the Continent. No one is in a position to refuse a royal proposal so, haunted by the fates of his previous wives—two executions, two annulments, one death in childbirth—Katherine must wed Henry and become his sixth queen.

Katherine has to employ all her instincts to navigate the treachery of the court, drawing a tight circle of women around her, including her stepdaughter, Meg, traumatized by events from their past that are shrouded in secrecy, and their loyal servant Dot, who knows and sees more than she understands. With the Catholic faction on the rise once more, reformers being burned for heresy, and those close to the king vying for position, Katherine’s survival seems unlikely. Yet as she treads the razor’s edge of court intrigue, she never quite gives up on love.

View the Official Book Trailer: http://videos.simonandschuster.com/video/2472116122001

Praise for Queen’s Gambit

“This is a superbly written novel… Fremantle is surely a major new voice in historical fiction and this book is the answer to the question about what Hilary Mantel fans should read while waiting for the final part of her trilogy.” – The Bookseller

“Wildly entertaining…lively, gamey, gripped with tension…one of the best historical novels I’ve read.” – Liz Smith

“Elizabeth Fremantle’s rich narrative breathes vibrant life into Henry VIII’s most intriguing, intelligent and least known wife, Katherine Parr.” – Anne Easter Smith author of A Rose for the Crown and Royal Mistress

“Queen’s Gambit is an earthy, vivid portrait of Tudor England seen through the eyes of Henry VIII’s last wife Katherine Parr and her loyal maid servant. Elizabeth Fremantle has added a richly written and engrossing novel to the endlessly fascinating story of the Tudors.” – Stephanie Cowell author of Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet

“Queen’s Gambit is a lovely, sensual, subtle read, telling the story of Katherine Parr with both rich imagination and scrupulous attention to factual detail. After reading this historical novel, you truly comprehend what it would mean to be the sixth wife of a dangerous man wielding absolute power. Katherine is no selfless nurse here, nor religious fanatic, but a complex and compelling person who both men and women were drawn to. This is a very impressive novel.” – Nancy Bilyeau author of The Crown

“Beautifully written and finely observed, this suspenseful tale of Henry the Eighth’s last wife expertly conveys all the dangerous intensity and passion of the Tudor court.” – Rachel Hore, author of A Place of Secrets

“With a painter’s eye for detail, Fremantle brings the dazzling, dangerous Tudor court to life and sheds an intriguing new light on Katherine Parr, one of history’s great survivors. An enthralling tale of power and passion, loyalty and betrayal.” – Elizabeth Wilhide, author of Ashenden

“Fremantle…navigates Tudor terrain with aplomb.” – Publishers Weekly

“Sins, secrets and guilt dominate the landscape of British writer Fremantle’s debut…[her] emphasis is on intrigue, character portraits and the texture of mid-16th-century life. Solid and sympathetic.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Intrigue, romance, and treachery abound in Fremantle’s debut novel . . . . This compulsively readable fictional biography of the ultimate survivor is infused with the type of meticulous attention to historical detailing that discerning fans of Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory have come to expect in the Tudor canon.” – Booklist

Author Elizabeth Fremantle, Biography~

Elizabeth FremantleElizabeth Fremantle holds a first class degree in English and an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck College London. She has contributed as a fashion editor to various publications including Vogue, Elle and The Sunday Times. QUEEN’S GAMBIT is her debut novel and is the first in a Tudor trilogy. The second novel, SISTERS OF TREASON, will be released in 2014. She lives in London.

For more about Elizabeth and her future projects see www.elizabethfremantle.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/queensgambittour
Twitter Hashtag: #QueensGambitTour

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Interview with Stephanie Lehmann of Astor Place Vintage: On Vintage, Fashion, NYC, and Writing!

Today, Stephanie Lehmann talks with me about vintage buttons, stores, and fashion! She also talks about her love of history, stories, and writing. This is an entertaining and unique interview you won’t want to miss! Enjoy!

If you missed my review of her novel, Astor Place Vintage, you can see it by clicking HERE!

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Hi Stephanie, welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I am very excited to have you here as I loved your book! How has the summer been treating you?

Stephanie:  Summer has been speeding past with family trips combined with book store events. I’m used to a much quieter daily routine, but it’s been fun. I’m getting in touch with my inner-extrovert.

Erin:  Ha! Always fun to get out, but can be exhausting for introverts, as well. Let’s take a stroll through your favorite New York City area, maybe do some window shopping, having some coffee, and talk about you and your books!

Astor Place Vintage

Q:  What was your inspiration for writing Astor Place Vintage?  What was the process like?

A:  Well, as a matter of fact, lots of my inspiration came from walking down these streets of New York. I love to think about the people who used to inhabit the same spaces. There’s such a strong sense of the past here — so different from where I grew up in San Francisco.

I don’t feel like I can say anything instructive about my process, because I probably wrote this book in the most inefficient way possible. The final draft of ASTOR PLACE VINTAGE barely resembled the outline I began with. The process of finding my story took a lot of time, a lot of trial and error, and a lot of reading, reading, reading about New York City history.

Q:  Have you always liked New York City history? What stories do you enjoy from its location, what are your favorite time periods, and why to both? Mine is the turn of the 20th century NYC through the 1920s.

A:  I didn’t. As a matter of fact, when I first moved to New York, I thought the city was mean, disgusting, and depressing. I came here both BECAUSE it was New York (as a writer, I should at least experience it) and DESPITE the fact that it was New York (anyone who lived here had to be crazy). I gradually came to like it, and now it feels like home. I don’t know what that says about my sanity.

I’m partial to the same decades as you – I would just add in 1890 to 1900 because I’ve recently gotten into reading about what preceded the decade I’ve been writing about. The Astors, the Vanderbilts, all their ostentation and wealth… People went from idolizing those families to seeing them as old-fashioned and uptight. There early decades of the 20th century were a fascinating period of change.

Q:  I gather you also like fashion to have been able to incorporate so many details into your newest novel. What do you love about fashion? Do you have any favorite designers?

A:  It’s not so much that I’m into fashion or shopping. It’s more that I find it really interesting to look at what people wore with a historical perspective and to think about what that says about the times. I myself prefer to wear comfortable clothes that feel like pajamas as much as possible. My favorite designer is Claire McCardell. She’s credited with creating the first sportswear lines for women in the 40s – casual clothes that a woman could move around in while also looking chic.

Q:  I imagine it is the same for you with vintage items. Actually, I can see from your awesome Pinterest boards that you enjoy many types of vintage items. Buttons are a favorite of mine. What are some great finds you’ve found or like to enjoy looking for?

A:  I love vintage buttons too! I went through a phase of buying them on Ebay and now I have a ridiculously large collection. But I do love to sew, and its fun when I’m making something and it turns out that I happen to have the perfect button for what I need in my stash.

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One of my favorite finds was from a flea market in Vermont. A woman was selling a bunch of things for an elderly friend, and I discovered a box full of paper napkins this person had been saving for decades. I don’t know if paper napkins are an “official thing” that people collect. They’re such a natural thing to throw out. But this box was full of all these really cute napkins from the 30s and 40s and 50s that she’d saved from her kid’s birthday parties, holidays, weddings… (The napkins aren’t used, I should add.) It felt like I’d found a real treasure.  One of these days I’m going to scan them and add them to my pinterest board.

Q: Do you think owning a vintage clothing store as your modern character, Amanda, does in Astor Place Vintage, would work in NYC today? Maybe there are some there now. Why might they work, and if they are, why do you think they do?

A:  There are some vintage clothing stores in the city, especially in the East Village, like in my novel. A slew of them have opened in Brooklyn, which makes sense because the rents are cheaper there, and more of the typical younger clientele live nearby.  Some vintage stores supplement sales by renting clothes out for films and such. Consignment shops selling second hand designer clothes seem to be sprouting up everywhere.

Q:  In your book you show how women in 1907 were struggling to be able to be allowed to work, to live where they might want if they are single, and to obtain basic rights. What are your thoughts on the women’s movement? How might women today continue to fight for their acceptance?

A:  That’s a really, really complicated question! But what you said about 1907 is true, and we’re still trying to confront many of the same issues. Something I found really interesting is how hard women had to fight to get the vote, and sometimes this fighting was with other women. There was a whole movement of women who were against it called the “antis.” You can still see women at cross-purposes today. I guess I wish women wouldn’t hold each other back. But of course different people have different opinions on what “holding back” would be.

Q:  Have you ever thought about writing a novel based on any historical women? If so, who calls you to tell their story or who interests you?

A:  I like the idea of it, and maybe I will some day, but so far no one has captured my imagination more than people I’ve invented.

Q: You’ve written several other novels, but I believe this is your first type (not swipe) at historical fiction. How did you decide to write something new and how was the switch to historical writing? How much research did you have to do?

A:  I’d been reading a lot of non-fiction about New York at the turn-of-the century, so it seemed like a natural step to write something set back then. My imagination just wanted to stay there. It took a lot of research before I even began to write, and I’m sure part of the process of doing the research was to reassure myself that I could really do it.

Q:  What are your hopes for your future writing endeavors? Do you have a list of things you want to write or do you wait for something to strike your fancy?

A:  No list. I can’t think farther than the project I’m on, and then the next one. And it’s less of a fancy striking than a puzzle teasing. 

Q:  I read your very funny biography on your website and learned that you love TV like I do. Shameless, aren’t we? Ah, TV is all about stories too. And many times relationships. What are some of your favorite vintage shows and what have they taught you? Then, for fun, what are your favorite shows now?

A:  Yes, I’m a TV addict from way back. I have to mention THAT GIRL with Marlo Thomas because she was a young woman coming to New York City to pursue her dream of being an actress. As Amanda says in my novel: stories about young women coming to New York never get old for me. And Ann Marie on THAT GIRL certainly set an example as an independent single woman living in the city. (Even if she did have her boyfriend Donald and meddling parents to fall back on.)

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I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I’m partial to reality shows these days. My favorite is PROJECT RUNWAY. It truly shows people being creative. I love watching the contestants facing these weird challenges, seeing what they make, cursing at their sewing machines…

Q:  What advice do you give to aspiring authors about the publishing journey? What were your biggest challenges? What is something you feel extra good about accomplishing?

A:  My first novel published was the fourth novel I wrote. It took me a really long time to break through, and it was a very frustrating process that involved taking lots of rejection!  So my advice is to be persistent. Have a thick skin. Don’t take the business part of it personally, because it’s just plain hard, and the odds are against you to get anywhere in this business, and then even if you do there’s no guarantee that it will last, and it probably won’t. And maybe most of all, don’t lose sight of the fact that outside success isn’t really what it’s about. We write because of a need to express something that’s inside, and to engage in the challenge of finding a way to say it in the most elegant way that’s true to you.  

Q:  What is the best part of NYC to you now? What advice would you tell someone who has thought of moving there?

A:  I’ve lived on the Upper West Side for years and I’m pretty settled here. I like my coffee shops and my local library and the unpretentiousness of the neighborhood. The city is so darn expensive now, and Brooklyn seems to be more where it’s at these days. Of course you don’t have to live in New York to be a writer. You need to be in a place that inspires you to write or lets you alone enough to write or some kind of combination of both.

Q: Where can readers connect with you? And where can they purchase your books?

A:  I’m all over the web. www.astorplacevintage.com, www.StephanieLehmann.com, www.facebook.com/stephlehmann, www.pinterest.com/stephlehmann, on Twitter as @stephlehmann www.vintagemanhattan.com Did I leave anything out?
My book is available in local bookstores and all the usual places online.

Erin:  Thank you so much, Stephanie, for talking with me today about all kinds of fabulous things. Maybe one day our interview will be found and we’ll be looked upon fondly. I guess I’d have to print it off and stuff it inside something valuable, right? Ha! In all seriousness, thank you and best wishes for much continued success!

Stephanie: Thanks so much for all your great questions, and helping to tell people about ASTOR PLACE VINTAGE. Even if, in years to come, our interview is lost and never found, I will personally look back on it with fondness!

Erin:  Thank you, Stephanie. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you.

Astor Place Vintage, Synopsis~

Astor Place VintagePublication Date: June 11, 2013
Simon & Schuster
Paperback; 416p
ISBN-10: 1451682050

Amanda Rosenbloom, proprietor of Astor Place Vintage, thinks she’s on just another call to appraise and possibly purchase clothing from a wealthy, elderly woman. But after discovering a journal sewn into a fur muff, Amanda gets much more than she anticipated. The pages of the journal reveal the life of Olive Westcott, a young woman who had moved to Manhattan in 1907. Olive was set on pursuing a career as a department store buyer in an era when Victorian ideas, limiting a woman’s sphere to marriage and motherhood, were only beginning to give way to modern ways of thinking. As Amanda reads the journal, her life begins to unravel until she can no longer ignore this voice from the past. Despite being separated by one hundred years, Amanda finds she’s connected to Olive in ways neither could have imagined.

Praise for Astor Place Vintage

“The past meets the present in Lehmann’s work of feminist literary fiction. . . . The author combines an impressive knowledge of history, sociology and psychology to create an intellectually and emotionally rewarding story.”
-KIRKUS REVIEWS

« “Enchanting. . . . Lehmann does a seamless job of moving between the past and present and gives a definite sense of place to the story’s two periods, with rich descriptions of city life and architecture. First-class storytelling with an enticing dose of New York City history.”
-PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (STARRED REVIEW)

“A thoroughly engaging story about fate, struggle, and will, as told through the intertwined lives of two women in New York living a century apart. Past and present blur in unexpected ways in this insightful, charming, and wholly entertaining novel.”
—KHALED HOSSEINI, author of The Kite Runner

“Lehmann’s blend of past and present perfectly woven together create an addictively readable novel. New York City will never look the same to me after reading ‘Astor Place Vintage.’”
—KATHLEEN GRISSOM, author of The Kitchen House

“A fascinating tour of turn-of-the-century New York. Guaranteed to appeal to anyone who likes to search for the bones of the past beneath the bustle of the present.”
—LAUREN WILLIG, author of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

Stephanie LehmannAuthor Stephanie Lehmann, Biography~

Stephanie Lehmann received her B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. In English from New York University. She has taught novel writing at Mediabistro and online at Salon.com, where her essays have been published. Like Olive and Amanda, she lives in New York City.

For more information, please visit www.AstorPlaceVintage.com and www.StephanieLehmann.com. You can follow Stephanie on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and tumblr.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/astorplacevintagetour/
Twitter Hashtag: #AstorPlaceVintageTour

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The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau is a Top-Notch Thriller of Page Turning Suspense

Are you drawn to historical novels surrounding the steamy and intrigue-laden court of Henry VIII? You’re not alone. Many readers delight in books from this time period where drama unfolds at every dark corner and crevice!

The ChaliceSo how does an author make a book stand out from a sea of Tudor-mania? I’m sure this was a challenge for Tudor-era fanatic and author Nancy Bilyeau in endeavoring to write her novels.  In The Chalice (a known sequel to her popular The Crown, but really stands-alone quite well), she writes of the same era in history, but from the perspective of Joanna Stafford, a woman of noble birth and connections who was also pious and dedicated to the Catholic church being a former nun (novice). In her writing, Bilyeau delves into how the transition from England being ruled from Catholic perspective to Protestant, and the bloody fighting and paranoia it caused, confused the entire country, especially the nobles who were strong in faith but also wanted to regard their King (he was divine after all and God-ordained) without falter or question. How did the outskirts, beyond the castle walls, really handle the transformation? How did those of faith deal with priories and convents being dissolved?

Don’t let Joanna being a pious individual dissuade you from thinking this book is lacking pulse-pounding drama because it most certainly is full of hold-your-breath moments!  It was never a dull moment and I disliked when I needed to put it down due to other life demands! I couldn’t wait to pick it up again, just in time to reveal another plot twist or another piece to unraveling the riddle.  (review continued after synopsis)

Here’s the synopsis for The Chalice~

In the next novel from Nancy Bilyeau after her acclaimed debut The Crown, novice Joanna Stafford plunges into an even more dangerous conspiracy as she comes up against some of the most powerful men of her era.

In 1538, England is in the midst of bloody power struggles between crown and cross that threaten to tear the country apart. Joanna Stafford has seen what lies inside the king’s torture rooms and risks imprisonment again, when she is caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting the King. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna understands she may have to assume her role in a prophecy foretold by three different seers, each more omniscient than the last.

Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christendom are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lays at the center of these deadly prophecies…

(review continued)

Sounds full of intrigue and page turning drama, right??

Though the novel didn’t take place at court, it showcased how court drama and governance carries around the countryside as families jockey for favor or position and conspire at a moment’s notice to fight for their lives. Anyone that knows of Henry Tudor (Henry the VIII) knows that he was impulsive and could make rash and unjustified decisions out of his own fears.  He would judge entire families on an extended family member’s wrong-doing and, as his father before him, tended to kill off entire family branches to fortify his own royal legacy.

Even though Joanna and her extended family were in constant fear for their lives, she had a bond with Mary Tudor that would help to serve her through some sticky situations. But with that bond, as well as her own to the Catholic church, she is most easily aghast over Henry VIII’s desecration and desire to wipe out all monasteries, sacred relics, and bones of Saints.  Then, when a prophecy is foretold that involves her, she struggles to rebel against it.  Being a good Catholic, she strongly believes that prophecy and seers are wrong in the eyes of God.  She does not want to believe that she could be a part of such dealings, but struggles to know if the greater good outweighs the risk.

I loved the book’s emotional tender moments when Joanna was overcome with human emotions for others in the book, for instance, when she mulled over her feelings for various male characters, all whom in some regard seemed to be smitten by her and feel a need to protect her. Yet there were boundaries to all relationships in regards to love and Bilyeau walked a fine line of pulling the reader into the moment of impulsive exploratory action and then whisking them away from it, just enough for us to feel the character’s internal anguish. In all, she teaches us her characters fortitude and strength (and self-control), most often through protagonist Joanna. She’s an amazingly strong woman who was too modest to see her own attributes.

My favorite supporting character in the book was Henry Courtenay, Marchess of Exeter, who had less “print time” than most, but I loved his demeanor. There were times in the book I felt on pins and needles, times I was holding my breath and then exhaling in relief, and other times (especially a particular time) that I cried for the horror.

I love the prophetic mystery within the novel and the clues filled with symbolism that heightened as I turned each chapter. The novel was most certainly full of intrigue, but quite in a different format than what I’ve read from most other Tudor-era writers. It’s drama-filled, but stemming from a protagonist so laden with religious adherence that the drama seems almost stumbled upon because she wants so badly to not be a part of the drama. But her heart tells her different and she finds her destiny.  It read like a Dan Brown novel with a strong female lead and who doesn’t love a nun on a mission? Any reader will want to take on the prophecy of Joanna, whether to see if it’s a true outcome or to prove it wrong. Bilyeau always leaves that question  up to the reader, as Joanna struggles with that same dilemma herself.

Being a journalist and editor, Bilyeau’s writing style is succinct and not heavily flowered with extra, unwarranted details. Her research skills and plot points are highly polished and shine through in this work making it a thriller for any must-read list.

I highly recommend Nancy Bilyeau’s The Chalice (and her former The Crown) for its unique presentation of a widely written about Tudor time period, her strong and memorable Joanna and well-developed supporting cast, her suspenseful riddles and exciting prophetic plot, and most of all, her page-turning literary skills.

Please stop back tomorrow for an exclusive interview with the fantastic author Nancy Bilyeau!

The ChaliceThe Chalice Information~

Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Touchstone Publishing/A Divison of Simon and Schuster
Hardcover; 512p
ISBN-10: 1476708657

GIVEAWAY!!!!~GIVEAWAY!!!!~GIVEAWAY!!!~

We have one (1) print copy of the The Chalice to give to a lucky reader this week! Please leave a comment, with email (for notification purposes ONLY) , here or on my Facebook post, to enter! You may also email me to hookofabook@hotmail.com.

Please enter by 11:59 p.m. EST on March 26, 2013.  Open to the United States only and no P.O. boxes.

For an extra entry, please follow my blog and let me know!

Praise for The Chalice

“Rarely have the terrors of Henry VIII’s reformation been so exciting. Court intrigue, bloody executions, and haunting emotional entanglements create a heady brew of mystery and adventure that sweeps us from the devastation of the ransacked cloisters to the dangerous spy centers of London and the Low Countries, as ex-novice Joanna Stafford fights to save her way of life and fulfill an ancient prophecy, before everything she loves is destroyed.” – C.W. Gortner, author of The Queen’s Vow and The Tudor Secret

“The Chalice offers a fresh, dynamic look into Tudor England’s most powerful, volatile personalities: Henry VIII, the Duke of Norfolk, Stephen Gardiner and Bloody Mary Tudor. Heroine and former nun Joanna Stafford is beautiful, bold and in lethal danger. Bilyeau writes compellingly of people and places that demand your attention and don’t let you go even after the last exciting page.” – Karen Harper, author of Mistress of Mourning

“An exciting and satisfying novel of historical suspense that cements Nancy Bilyeau as one of the genre’s rising stars. The indominable Joanna Stafford is back with a cast of powerful and fascinating characters and a memorable story that is gripping while you are reading and haunting after you are done. Bravo! The Chalice is a fabulous read.” – M.J. Rose, author of The Reincarnationist

Nancy Bilyeau, Biography~

Nancy BilyeauNancy Bilyeau, author of critically acclaimed The Crown, is a writer and magazine editor who has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. Her latest position is features editor of Du Jour magazine. A native of the Midwest, she graduated from the University of Michigan. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children. For more information, please visit Nancy Bilyeau’s webiste at www.nancybilyeau.com

 

 
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