Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Outlander to be a TV Series!!!!!

In Diana Gabaldon's own words on Twitter:

"Yes! Final contracts aren’t yet signed, but we do have a deal with Sony Pictures for development of a cable-TV (HBO/Showtime etc) series."

Joanne Adds:
This is wonderful news for all Outlander fans! Not a movie, but a series to adequately have the space and time to develop the story and characters of the Outlander books. Now let's hope it is a FAITHFUL adaptation!!!

Defiant by Pamela Clare

Charged with a crime they didn't commit, the MacKinnon brothers faced a death sentence until they agreed to serve the British Crown in the colonies and take up arms against the French. Allied with the Indian tribes who lived beside them in the wilderness, the Scottish Highland warriors forged a new breed of soldier...

MacKinnon's Rangers

Major Connor MacKinnon despises his commander, Lord William Wentworth, beyond all other men. Ordered to rescue Wentworth's niece after the Shawnee take her captive, he expects Lady Sarah Woodville to be every bit as arrogant and contemptible as her uncle. Instead, he finds a brave and beautiful lass in desperate peril. But the only way to free Sarah is for Connor to defeat the Shawnee warrior who kidnapped her—and claim her himself.

Torn by tragedy from her sheltered life in London, Lady Sarah is unprepared for the harshness of the frontier—or for the attraction she feels toward Connor as he guides her first through the consummation of their forced union and then through the dangers of the wilderness. When they reach civilization, however, it is she who must protect him. For if her uncle knew all that Connor had done to save her, he would surely kill him.

But the flames of passion, once kindled, are difficult to deny. As desire transforms into love, Connor will have to defy an empire to keep Sarah at his side.
(from Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

Pamela Clare's MacKinnon's Ranger trilogy is the kind of story I could read over and over again!

 Full of adventure, danger, history, and passionate romance, the exiled Highlander brothers of Iain, Morgan, and Connor will stay with me for a long, long time (like Jamie and Clare). While the plot of Defiant followed the same pattern as Surrender and Untamed (the story of two unlikely people thrown together by fate), Connor's story touched my heart as it brought together characters from the past and gave closure to the MacKinnon brothers' plight. Pamela Clare's ability to recreate the wild and untamed land of early colonial America and her love and respect for the Native American culture is such an exciting part of the series. Her characters are so well drawn that they literally leap off the page. Very, very sexy, too!

 Loved all the books in this series! I also have reviewed Surrender (my personal favorite) and Untamed. Highly recommend.

4.5/5 stars

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sea Change by Karen White

"For Ava Whalen, a new marriage and a move to St. Simons Island means a new beginning. But what she doesn’t realize is that her marriage will take her on an unexpected journey into the deep recesses of her past that will transform her forever…

For as long as she can remember, Ava Whalen has struggled with a sense of not belonging, and now, at thirty-five, she still feels stymied by her family. Then she meets child psychologist Matthew Frazier, and thinks her days of loneliness are behind her. After a whirlwind romance, they impulsively elope, and Ava moves to Matthew’s ancestral home on St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia.

But after the initial excitement, Ava is surprised to discover that true happiness continues to elude her. There is much she doesn’t know about Matthew, including the mysterious circumstances surrounding his first wife’s death. And her new home seems to hold as many mysteries and secrets as her new husband. Feeling adrift, Ava throws herself into uncovering Matthew’s family history and that of the island, not realizing that she has a connection of her own to this place—or that her obsession with the past could very well destroy her future."

(book description from Goodreads)

My thoughts:

What a surprise this book turned out to be!

 I wasn't sure if this was going to fall into the category of "beach read" as that is not the kind of book I typically read. Fortunately, I read a great review by Laura at Laura's Reviews  and she described Karen White as one of her favorite new authors. Intrigued, I kept on reading her review and was surprised to see that Sea Change is indeed right up my alley. It's actually a blend of a little history, suspense, layers of mysteries, love stories in the past and present, all blended against the backdrop of a lovely southern setting of St. Simons Island, Georgia.

Karen White's writing style is easy and breezy and she grabbed me from the get-go and kept me moving through the story, intrigued by the enigmatic characters and the secrets they were holding close to their hearts. I always enjoy a dual-time storyline as a plot device, and Sea Change has a compelling love story and mysterious legend from the 1800's that has significance for the characters in the present time. This is a heartwarming  story of families and  hope and second chances with  stunning revelations  that is sure to please fans of romantic suspense. Very reminiscent of Susanna Kearsley's style of novels.

Highly recommended! 

Karen White has a lovely book trailer that is worth checking out to get a sense of the beautiful setting.

5/5 stars

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Queen's Vow by C. W. Gortner

About the book:

"Isabella of Castile is one of history's most famous and fascinating figures. She was the warrior who united a fractured country, and the visionary who sent Columbus to discover a New World. Revered by some as a devout leader who transformed Spain into a world power, Isabella is reviled by others as a fanatic who ushered in an era of persecution. In his evocative, vividly imagined new novel, The Queen's Vow, acclaimed historical author S. W. Gortner challenges the controversial myth surrounding Isabella, revealing the dangerous youth and dramatic early reign of the woman no one believed would be queen."
(from the publisher)

My Thoughts: 

I always enjoy the opportunity to read and review historical fiction and experience a new author.  I have been reading positive reviews of Christopher Gortner's novels over the years and adding his books to my list of "to read," but I have to admit this was my first Gortner book. I'll have to make a better effort at getting to his backlist.

 Whenever I explore an author's writing for the first time, I usually look for a few specific points:  Does the research and historical facts blend seamlessly with the fiction? Does the author create an authentic sense of time and place? Was I informed as much as I was entertained by the story? I think Gortner did an excellent job recreating the past and enjoyed his interesting portrait of the early years of  Isabella.

Told in the first person point-of-view, the author brought to life a young Isabella of Castile. Strong of character and conviction, she faced many challenges head on despite her youth.  Following the death of her father, Juan II, Isabella and her younger brother, Alfonso, were sent to live with their half brother, King Enrique and it is here that the stability and security of their world is turned upside down. Secret plots, lies, threats of treason, an ineffective King and a conniving and jealous Queen test Isabella's fortitude, but she is firmly rooted in the conviction that she is destined for greatness and does not flee from her problems and struggles. Deeply devout with a firm belief in the will of God, she is portrayed as an intelligent, forward-thinking young woman with a mind of her own. Despite others efforts to marry her for political gain, Isabella insisted that Fernando, prince of Aragon, was the only man for her. Later in life, as Isabella and Fernando are married and united in their duties, she juggled many roles as wife, mother, and queen. She was actively involved in strategic planning against Spain's aggressors and enemies, had a keen interest in advancing women's education, supported the arts and the idea of exploring new world routes, and of course, was devoted to the ideal of "one crown, one country, one faith."

Gortner does a good job of breathing life into an historical figure most known for her association with Christopher Columbus and her religious zeal which unfortunately resulted in discrimination and persecution of those who refused to convert to Catholicism ( the Spanish Inquisition). We see her as a strong and dedicated ruler, contrasted with the more human, frailer side.....a daughter concerned about an ailing mother, a wife struggling to work out personal problems with her husband, a mother dealing with the highs and lows of raising children, as well as wrestling with her own conscience as she made decisions which were, in her opinion, for the good of her subjects and country.

A very informative book and a keeper on my historical fiction shelf.

4/5 stars

About the Author:

C. W. Gortner is the author of The Last Queen and Confessions of Catherine de Medici, as well as The Tudor Secret, a mystery novel set in Elizabethan England. He is currently working on his next historical novel about Lucrezia Borgia. To find out  more about the author and his work, please visit www.cwgortner.com.http://www.cwgortner.com/

Title: The Queen's Vow
Author: C. W. Gortner
Ballantine Books
June 2012
400 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

***I received a copy of the novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thanks to the publisher, the author, and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for inviting me to participate in the virtual tour for The Queen's Vow.***

Favorite Period Dramas

Mount TBR

Joanne's to-read book montage

On a Highland Shore
A Light on the Veranda
The Queen's Vow: A Novel Of Isabella Of Castile
The Edwardians
Maisie Dobbs
Howards End
Lady's Maid
Instruments Of Darkness
When Maidens Mourn
Where Shadows Dance
What Remains of Heaven
Where Serpents Sleep
Why Mermaids Sing
When Gods Die
Before Ever After
The Sugar Queen
Garden Spells
After the Night

Joanne's favorite books »