Monday, April 30, 2012

The Lady of the Rivers

by Philippa Gregory

from Ms Gregory's website:
Descended from Melusina, the river goddess, Jacquetta has always had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she meets his prisoner, Joan of Arc, and sees her own power reflected in the young woman accused of witchcraft, before Joan is taken to a horrific death at the hands of the English rulers of France.

Married to the Duke of Bedford, English Regent of France, Jacquetta is introduced by him to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Her only friend in the great household is the Duke’s squire, Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the Duke’s death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen.

The Woodvilles soon achieve a place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta can sense the growing threat from the people of England and the danger of royal rivals. Not even their courage and loyalty can keep the House of Lancaster on the throne. King Henry VI slides into a mysterious sleep; Margaret , his queen, turns to untrustworthy favorites for help; and Richard, Duke of York, threatens to overturn the whole kingdom for his rival dynasty of the House of York.

Jacquetta fights for her king, her queen, and for her daughter Elizabeth Woodville, a young woman for whom Jacquetta can sense an extraordinary and unexpected future: a change of fortune, the throne of England, and the white rose of York. A sweeping, powerful story rich in passion and legend and drawing on years of research, The Lady of the Rivers tells the story of the real-life mother to the White Queen.

I like books that entertain and teach at the same time.  There's something so satisfying about learning, in fact, development of any kind.  Gregory introduces us to real people from history and to their circumstances.  I appreciated getting to know someone I had never heard of before - Jacquetta Woodville.  The only thing I knew about Henry VI was that he was a king of England sometime before the infamous Henry VIII.  What a pathetic ruler - nothing more than a puppet.  And his young bride was quite silly and yet, mean.

The love story between Jacquetta and her 2nd husband, Richard Woodville is so tender and endearing.  From the union there were 10 or 12 offspring.  It seemed that Jacquita was always expecting.  I felt bad that she had to leave her children so often to attend to the queen, but that was the way life was in those times for someone of Jacquetta's standing.

The Lady of the Rivers was recently released in paperback.  If you enjoy well-researched, enjoyably written historical novels this is one you'll want to put on your TBR list.  I can't wait to get my hands on The White Queen and continue in this 3-book series about the Cousin's War.

 ** I received a free copy of The Lady of the Rivers from Touchstone Publicity and Simon & Schuster, Inc. in exchange for my honest review.  Thank-you Kaitlyn.  No other compensation was received.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Paper Doll

by Robert B. Parker

My first book by this author and #20 in the Spenser series.  I listened to this one while squaring up and pressing quilt blocks.  I am old enough to remember Robert Urich playing the lead in the Spenser for Hire tv series.  I watched it faithfully so it's surprising I never read any of the books.

Spenser is hired by a wealthy Bostonian to find who bludgeon his beautiful, socialite wife.  His search for answers takes Spenser to South Carolina and some surprising secrets.

I liked this book a lot but I think I would have rather watched it.  Susan, Spencer's girlfriend, came across poorly with the male reader trying to sound slightly feminine.  Luckily, she didn't show up that much.  Sadly, Hawk didn't either.  I think I will read, rather than listen to, my next Robert Parker book.

Side note - Parker is also the author of the Jessie Stone books.  I enjoy those shows a lot too.  I wonder if he wrote those with Tom Selleck in mind because Selleck is perfect as Stone.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Katie Woo Rules the School

by Fran Manushkin

Written for ages 6 and older this is one of many delightful books in the Katie Woo series.  I no longer have children or grandchildren this age but the title reminded me of my 8-year-old granddaughter (kind of a Madame Fullcharge) and I thought she and I would have fun reading it together.  She wasn't interested.  Said it was too young for her.  That might be because she just finishing up her 4th grade brothers book, Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief.  Anyway I thought the book was great and I still think she would have enjoyed it.  I'll bet if I could have figured out how to get it onto Kindle she may have read it.

The stories are short, fun and well-written with cute illustrations.  Each teaches a lesson in a subtle but effective way.  I like that the child is not preached to but is allowed to make decisions about what they would do in the situations Katie Woo finds herself in - situations that most young children experience.

Rules the School is composed of 3 short chapters, each dealing with a different topic.  The first one is about the school pet that Katie gets to babysit for the weekend.  In the 2nd chapter Katie steals another child's toy airplane and lies to cover it.  And in the last Katie is chosen to play the worm in the class play.  Naturally she is disappointed because she wanted to be the princess.  I can't remember which story - maybe there are 4 instead of 3 - Katie has to deal with a bullying classmate.

I almost wished my 4 daughters were all young again so we could take an outing to the library and check out some Katie Woo books to read together.   A few other titles in the series are: Boss of the World; Red, White, and Blue and Katie Woo, No Valentines for Katie, and Goodbye to Goldie.

 ** I received a free copy of Katie Woo Rules the School from Capstone Books and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.