All arrivals to my mailbox this past week are my own purchases (synopses courtesy of Chapters.indigo.ca):
It was 1501. England had been ravaged for decades by conspiracy, violence, murders, coups and countercoups. Through luck, guile and ruthlessness, Henry VII, the first of the Tudor kings, had clambered to the top of the heap-a fugitive with a flimsy claim to England's throne. For many he remained a usurper, a false king.
But Henry had a crucial asset: his queen and their children, the living embodiment of his hoped-for dynasty. Queen Elizabeth was a member of the House of York. Henry himself was from the House of Lancaster, so between them they united the warring parties that had fought the bloody century-long Wars of the Roses. Now their older son, Arthur, was about to marry a Spanish princess. On a cold November day sixteen-year-old Catherine of Aragon arrived in London for a wedding that would mark a triumphal moment in Henry's reign.
In this remarkable book, Thomas Penn re-creates the story of the tragic, magnetic Henry VII-a controlling, paranoid, avaricious monarch who was entering the most perilous years of his long reign.
Rich with drama and insight, Winter King is an astonishing story of pageantry, treachery, intrigue and incident-and the fraught, dangerous birth of Tudor England.
A child born in the plague year of 1348, abandoned and raised within the oppressive walls of a convent, Alice Perrers refused to take the veil, convinced that a greater destiny awaited her. Ambitious and quick-witted, she rose above her obscure beginnings to become the infamous mistress of Edward III. But always, essentially, she was alone.... Early in Alice's life, a chance meeting with royalty changes everything: Kindly Queen Philippa, deeply in love with her husband but gravely ill, chooses Alice as a lady-in-waiting. Under the queen's watchful eye, Alice dares to speak her mind. She demands to be taken seriously. She even flirts with the dynamic, much older king. But she is torn when her vibrant spirit captures his interest...and leads her to a betrayal she never intended. In Edward's private chambers, Alice discovers the pleasures and paradoxes of her position. She is the queen's confidante and the king's lover, yet she can rely only on herself. It is a divided role she was destined to play, and she vows to play it until the bitter end. Even as she is swept up in Edward's lavish and magnificent court, amassing wealth and influence for herself, becoming an enemy of his power-hungry son John of Gaunt and a sparring partner to resourceful diplomat William de Windsor, she anticipates the day when the political winds will turn against her. For when her detractors voice their hatred and accusations of treason swirl around her, threatening to destroy everything she has achieved, who will stand by Alice then?
Honour and the Sword by A.L. Berridge
A breathtakingly impressive debut novel, the first in a brilliant series set in seventeenth century France, the time of the famed musketeers, heroic noblemen and hard, bloody warfare
It is 1636-the height of the Thirty Years War, one of the bloodiest and most destructive conflicts Europe has ever seen.
In the sleepy border village of Dax-en-roi, facing the overwhelming might of the Spanish forces, the Chevalier de Roland rallies a valiant defence, but in vain-his household guard no match for the invaders. There is only one survivor as the Roland estate is razed to the ground, one soul who escapes the Spanish brutality: the lone heir-a young boy by the name of André de Roland, the new Sieur of Dax...Upon this young nobleman's shoulders all hope lies. He alone must bear the honour of the Roland name and, with it, the fate of his people.
The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy
In the last months of the Nazi occupation of Poland, two children are left by their father and stepmother to find safety in a dense forest. Because their real names will reveal their Jewishness, they are renamed "Hansel" and "Gretel." They wander in the woods until they are taken in by Magda, an eccentric and stubborn old woman called "witch" by the nearby villagers. Magda is determined to save them, even as a German officer arrives in the village with his own plans for the children.
Combining classic themes of fairy tales and war literature, this haunting novel of journey and survival, of redemption and memory, powerfully depicts how war is experienced by families and especially by children, and tells a resonant, riveting story.
I also purchased a couple of e-books this past week:
- The Prophet by Amanda Stevens (Graveyard Queen series #3) -- I've already read this one and just loved it!
- The Sword-Edged Blade by Alex Bledsoe
- The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham -- this is the only novel of Higginbotham's I haven't read and even though I have the book in hard copy it was available as a free e-book this past week so I took advantage of the offer!