Tuesday, September 29, 2009
So, if I don't post a whole lot for several days or a week at a time, never fear, I will return! Here are a few things I have in the works for October:
**I just downloaded my copy of The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, and I am unsuitably excited about reading this. I can't wait to see what harrowing adventures "renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon" has gotten himself into this time!
**More above-average romance from the Tudor Rose series by Susan Wiggs.
**Profiles to historical blogs I've been reading and LOVING lately.
And as a sort-of sidenote, since I do often read books that are not distinctly historical or historical-fiction in nature, would anyone be interested if I post reviews on those here, anyway? I've done a few in the past, but I wasn't sure if it seemed too digressive from the point of The Courtier's Book.
Monday, September 28, 2009
by Eucharista Ward
Cover: Mary is adorable. A little too adorable...just kidding. Pretty, follows the trend for Austen sequel style.
Summary: Mary Bennet is one of two sisters left from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice who remains unmarried, but she is the only one who does not wish to be married. She attends balls and assemblies at her mother's beck and call, but she longs for deeper conversation. She wants to do charitable works and discuss poetry and literature, but she must rather spend her time primping and gossiping. In short, she's not sure she will ever be married, if this is the kind of compromise she'll have to make.
The other beloved characters from P&P also make prominent appearances. Colonel Fitzwilliam has set himself to marrying Caroline Bingley, the snobbish sister of Jane Bennet's husband. Elizabeth and Darcy, married and now parents of a son, play host to their families at Pemberley. It is there that Mary meets Mr. Oliver, the new vicar of Kympton, who seems anything but the typical clergyman to her. Mary is very serious, after all, so she has decided opinions on what a parson should be like, and Mr. Oliver is not it. He is straightforward and bold and charms everyone except her. Worst of all, when she finds occupation helping instruct the local church choir, Mr. Oliver is there to distract her and her students.
Everything seems to be going wrong for Mary. When she wants to have a quiet evening in the library at Pemberley, Mr. Oliver is there. When she can't acknowledge Lydia as her sister because of her embarrassing behavior, Mr. Oliver is there to tell her that she must learn to forgive the faults in others. If familiarity can breed attraction, then Mary is starting to see the value in Mr. Oliver's constant presence.
Then Mr. Stilton arrives on the scene. He's a handsome, rich, flirtatious rake. He rides his horses fast, and in his wooing of Mary he insists that she do so, as well. We can guess how this is going to end up.
Amidst the everyday joys, sorrows, and gossip of Regency country life, Mary Bennet must find a balance between her natural inclination to spend her life educating herself and serving others, and in finding the man who will complement that life.
My Review: I got an advance copy from Sourcebooks during the summer and passed an afternoon or two enjoying this light regency romance.
I was never a fan of Mary when I read Pride and Prejudice. In fact, much like Jane Austen, I didn't really like, or find much potential for interest in her. She was judgmental and hypocritical, and it always seemed to me like she didn't want to be anywhere that she was.
Once I got into Ward's book, however, Mary became a person with flaws, but she was rounded-out, and her flaws were explained. She's not just judgmental; she, herself, is judged quite harshly on a constant basis by her mother and her sisters, and her own criticism acts almost as a defense mechanism. She comes to be more accepting throughout the story, and begins to find that others will treat her the same way.
As for the other P&P characters, I loved her portrayal of Lizzy. She was smart and sparkling, but not overwhelming or lifeless now that she is married. I never pictured her as a retiring character, and I was pleased to see her as a well-received, active member of society. Mr. Darcy, while a minor character, is generous to his family members. Caroline Bingely and Lady Catherine remain huge snobs, much to my joy.
The writing is tight and clear, and of the best example of derivative Jane Austen fan fiction. This is no bodice ripper! The characters behave as Austen herself might have written them, rather than a modernized interpretation. Die-hard Austen addicts and the casual fan will appreciate Ward's attention to period style and detail.
It is a true romance novel in the sense that we come away satisfied with the pairing of Mary and her fiancee. We know quite early on whom she will choose, but the way that it happens, the interactions between the love interests, and some surprises along the way are what make this a pleasant, relaxing read.
Overall, if this is the way that Jane Austen sequels are going these days, then I look forward to reading plenty more!
A Match for Mary Bennet comes out on October 1st, and is available now for preorder.
Buy this book on Amazon
Visit the Sourcebooks Jane Austen center, AustenFans.com
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
If you didn't win my giveaway, there are still plenty more opportunities at:
The Burton Review (along with an interview with the author)
Historical Tapestry (and a guest post by Moran)
Michelle Moran's Treasure Hunt! (this one involves a little detective work)
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Linda and Austenfan!
The publishers will be sending you the books within the next week or so!
And now I would like to wrap-up this exciting week by saying a big THANK YOU to Michelle herself! She reaches out to bloggers like me on her own time to give readers like you great opportunities to learn more about her work, and to possibly win one of her books. She was unflaggingly friendly and generous in every contact I made with her while hosting this special week and giveaway.
Finally, thank YOU, readers, for joining me in this exciting adventure to Ancient Egypt and Rome, and in reading along with me. My first contest on this blog was a lot of fun, and I hope to have more in the future.
Even if you didn't win a book here, you still have the chance for a Michelle Moran book at quite a few other blogs. I will be posting links to some of those that are coming up in the next week, along with more exciting Historical Fiction news and reviews.
Friday, September 11, 2009
by Michelle Moran
Cover: Pretty. I like the color scheme-- all red and gold, and the colors are also wrapped around the book to the back cover, too.
Summary: Cleopatra VII, last of the Egyptian pharaohs, has taken her own life, and so has her Roman husband, Marc Antony. They leave their kingdom in ruins and at the mercy of Octavian, Julius Caesar's appointed heir. But the vast empire isn't all they leave behind... their three surviving children must fight to survive the end of their world.
Cleopatra Selene and Alexander Helios are the eldest; twins that Cleopatra used to know as her "Moon and Sun." Ptolemy is the youngest, and the first to fall; he passes without ever setting foot in Rome. Selene and Alexander are left alone, prisoners in the house of Octavian's sister, wondering every day whether it will be their last. Rebels roam the streets, threatening Caesar's power as well as the survival of the Egyptian princes. We see the changing of Rome through the eyes of Selene, and the changing of a young girl into a woman.
My Review: I was lucky enough to get an advance copy from the author, and as soon as it landed on my porch (which was at night, for whatever reason), I ripped open the package and read through it. I will say right away: this was a book that I didn't want to finish, because I liked it too much!
This is the kind of book that I wish had existed back when I was the Young Adult target age. I used to read all the Ann Rinaldi historical fiction novels, the Dear America and Royal Diaries historical books, and this would easily fit alongside those. I hope that they market this book a little towards the Young Adult sector as well, because there is so much to be had from it for readers of all age levels.
Selene is entirely believable as a young teenager. At first she is traumatized by witnessing both of her parents' deaths, and is wrapped up within her own world. She will get back to Alexandria at any cost, to take her rightful place on the throne beside her brother. (sidenote: Egyptians had a tradition of symbolically "marrying" their siblings in order to further legitimize their claim to the throne. Cleopatra VII was "married" to her younger brother, and typically referred to him as "little husband," though these marriages were, for all intents and purposes, entirely platonic) Everything about her new home in Rome is disagreeable to her, from the humiliating rituals she must participate in as a servant of Octavian to the rampant sexism and violence that run through the streets.
Here, I would like to give a shoutout to Moran's writing talents and say how much I appreciated her attention to detail. As I may have mentioned, the Classical Age is not my forte when it comes to history (though heaven knows I would like to learn sooo much more about it), so I felt like I was learning about daily life in Rome along with Selene. While I got so much out of the reading, I never felt bogged down in the details. She doesn't just throw something in without a purpose to furthering the plot and the character development.
I also loved the side characters we meet along with Selene. Ovid, Virgil, the emperor Tiberius, and more appear, creating a fun kind of "Which historical figure will appear next?" sort of atmosphere. And the great thing is that Selene would have actually met all these people that, today, we revere as pioneers of their respective fields.
Selene was a unique and important figure in history, particularly because she was educated. Roman women, especially at the onset of Octavian (Augustus)'s rule, were meant to maintain the household and nothing more. As a daughter of Egypt, she was educated by world renowned scholars in the library of Alexandria, and her mother had always ensured that she was raised alongside her brothers, rather than beneath them. She is a strong and likeable heroine, and one that I was sad to say goodbye to.
My only qualm about Selene is how anti-slavery she is in this book. She comes off as "surprised" by the presence of slavery. She treats the horrible slavery of Rome like it is a unique activity to that region, and it wasn't. Egypt had slaves as much so as Rome, from what I know (though if I'm wrong, please correct me). I would have preferred to see Selene "mending her ways" and learning that slavery is wrong, rather than acting like she had never seen it before. I just thought that was a slight anachronism.
Overall, this was very high quality historical fiction and a wonderful story, and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.
Buy this book on Amazon
Visit the author's website
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Today's entry is not meant to be a be-all-end-all of Ancient Egypt in film. I am, after all, only mentioning the few that I have seen. But if, like me, you're still enraptured in the world of Michelle Moran's novel after you finish reading it, then maybe you'll want to check one or two of these out:
This is the best television show ever made.
That being said, there are some historical inaccuracies. Some shady timelines, some characters never aging. The fact that they imply Octavian's mother, Attia, was in love with Marc Antony, and ruled Rome as his mistress. That sort of thing. But it's soooo good. And if you're a history geek like me, you can overlook some problems and fall in love with the amazing detailing instead. The costumes and sets are impeccable because they're real. They are in Rome. The extras are all Romans, and the rest of the actors are a superb, ensemble British cast. It is horribly violent and crude, but then, so was much of Ancient Rome. It's not a show for everyone, but if you can stomach it, I think you'll love it, too.
Cleopatra is, I think, very realistic. She's not exactly pretty (which we are now learning is probably closer to the truth of her physical appearance), but she controls the men with her sexuality and uniquely Ptolemaic confidence. I'm not sure whether I think Cleopatra would have been shorn underneath her wig like this actress is, but I'm sure they had reason to believe it could have happened. Overall, A+ portrayal of Cleo.
I don't remember a whole lot of this movie because I've never seen it all at once.
It is almost 5 hours long.
That being said, it has a certain entertainment value that makes it worth viewing. Elizabeth Taylor is at her most beautiful here, which is saying a lot, though whether she resembles anything of the actual Cleopatra is anyone's guess. I'm willing to bet no, but again, I will overlook that inaccuracy in light of good theater. I mean, this is where Liz Taylor and Richard Burton fell in love. That's epic enough in itself! They practically portray their own lives! I'm giving it a B+ for that alone!
Ditto on this, I don't really remember it. Of what I do recall, it's kinda goofy. It's written by George Bernard Shaw, but I don't think the man read just the right history books for this one. And Vivien Leigh is a miscast, I'm sorry to say. I wouldn't exactly recommend this movie, but it has an archival appeal to it. D+ (see, I can't actually fail Vivien Leigh-- that's my problem...)
I looked this movie up on Amazon and it is currently out on DVD under the series "Camp Classics." That sums up this sword-and-sandal epic so well. Joan Collins. Need I say more?
I mean, let's forget historical accuracy altogether here and get right into the story. In the 18th Dynasty, the pharaoh hires a man to build him a labyrinth in his tomb so intricate that no thieves could ever find their way out once inside. While building this masterpiece, he takes as his bride the lovely Joan Collins, a princess with a chip on her shoulder. The princess conspires with her lover to assassinate her controlling husband, but the pharaoh is determined to never let her go... I won't even TELL you the ending, it is that good! I'm serious; the ending has a twist you will NOT see coming, and it turns this around from a cheesefest to kind of a good story. B+/A-!
ETA: Holy crap, William Faulkner wrote the screenplay. What?!?
Whatever, I threw this in. I LIKE it, okay? The original one is really funny, and while it's not exactly Ancient Egypt, there are enough elaborate crypts and crawlies to satisfy most viewers. Solid B.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Cleopatra's Daughter by thecourtiersbook featuring Missoni accessories
Hey guys, check out the collage I made! Maybe these are a few things I would want to wear if I were traveling to Egypt... or maybe only Ancient Egypt... at any rate, it's what I wanted to wear after I finished reading Cleopatra's Daughter. One thing I'll reveal about the book before I post my review of the book in two days is that I felt transported to the place and the time period. The author lets you get a taste of what daily life would have been like for the patricians of Rome, but she does so by sweeping you up in the story, rather than getting bogged down in the details. You're surprised to look down and find yourself wearing jeans and a t-shirt, rather than flowing silk tunics and elaborate pearl necklaces.
In a different way, today I'm going to link to a few places where you can find out how you can see Egypt today, and possibly some of the places that appear in Cleopatra's Daughter.
Official Tourism Website
Lonely Planet: Egypt
The main website for this company appears to be down right now, but I'll link you to a satisfied customer review... this travel company allows you to rent a personal dahabeeyah, or the type of cruising vessels favored in the earlier part of the twentieth century, to take down the Nile. You're of course paying for a full crew to man the boat, but it kind of sounds like my ultimate vacation. You get to stop in docks that tourists can't always reach on the big boats, and their appeal also comes from their personal touch to make each trip a unique voyage.
Remember, you have until midnight on Saturday to enter my giveaway for a signed copy of Cleopatra's Daughter or The Heretic Queen -- go HERE to enter!
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
But once you've reached that saaaaaad point... you close the back cover of Cleopatra's Daughter, having finished such a wonderful journey... where do you turn? What book can follow?
Your first step might be to read Michelle Moran's previous two books:
Both of them have gotten the same sort of rave reviews that are accompanying Cleopatra's Daughter, and both take place in Ancient Egypt, though much farther back in time.
Perhaps you might turn to Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody mystery series:
Beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank, this bestselling mystery series is not one to miss. Amelia Peabody is a self-proclaimed "spinster" who decides her happiness lies in travel and adventure, and so she is daring enough to set off for a cruise on the Nile by herself. This is the 1930s, after all, and it's still unique for a woman to travel alone. But she's not alone for long; she rescues a young woman from certain corruption by an erstwhile lover, so she is gifted with a helpful, friendly traveling companion. And those two are not alone for long, either; they encounter the Emerson brothers while visiting some archaeological sites. The younger brother is quick to recognize Amelia's natural proclivity for cultural studies, but the elder brother is tougher to crack. He can't see any reason to include any women on their trip, let alone feisty Amelia and her decided opinions. You can bet that high-jinks and capers will ensue.
The Amelia Peabody stories are some of the funniest books I've ever read-- I have yet to finish the series, in fact, because I want to always have another new one to read and enjoy when I "need" it.
A third option is to tackle any of the non-fiction books that Michelle recommended in my interview with her.
I would love to hear what books you all have been reading after finishing Cleopatra's Daughter-- I know I was so enthralled in the time period that I had to step away and read some non-historical fiction afterward. Nothing is quite the same thing, really.
Monday, September 7, 2009
I finished reading Cleopatra's Daughter yesterday, but I haven't written up my review yet; this is one I'm going to need a little time. Let it sink in for a while.
In the meantime, I had the chance to ask the author, Michelle Moran, a few questions about the process of writing the novel, and about what she is reading today!
1. You’ve studied history, and even done archaeology, throughout your life, so you must be familiar with good source material for writing your own historical fiction books. What original historical sources did you use the most while writing Cleopatra’s Daughter?
I did most of my research on-site (in Rome, Alexandria) and in libraries. In order to describe the Palatine, I went there (not that this was necessary… but it was certainly fun!). To get a feel for life on Capri, my husband and I booked a week there and took several trips into the Blue Grotto (where you can no longer swim). I also used dozens of books and contacted scholars such as Duane W. Roller whose work on the life of Kleopatra Selene was invaluable to me.
2. What books would you suggest to someone who is interested in reading more about Egypt in the time of Cleopatra? Is there a good “primer” book for someone who doesn’t know much about the time period?
I highly recommend Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day by Philip Matyszak. It was a wonderfully entertaining book, filled with fantastic tidbits and written as though it’s a modern a guidebook. Other resources I used included:
- The Complete Pompeii by Joanne Berry
- The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found by Mary Beard
- Chronicle of the Roman Republic (Chronicles) by Philip Matyszak
- Roman Life: 100 B.C. to A.D. 200 by John R. Clarke
- Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor by Anthony Everitt
- Caesar: Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy
- Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome by Lesley Adkins
- Daily Life in Ancient Rome by Jerome Carcopino
- Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician by Anthony Everitt
- The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories by Herodotus
- Plutarch's Lives, Volume 2 (Modern Library Classics) by Plutarch
- Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt by Joyce Tyldesley
- Cleopatra - A Biography by Michael Grant
- The Reign of Cleopatra by Stanley Mayer Burstein
3. Have you read historical fiction since you became a published author? What fiction have you been reading lately?
Her bio reads:
Michelle Moran was born in the San Fernando Valley, CA. She took an interest in writing from an early age, purchasing Writer's Market and submitting her stories and novellas to publishers from the time she was twelve. When she was accepted into Pomona College she took as many classes as possible in British Literature, particularly Milton, Chaucer, and the Bard. Not surprisingly, she majored in English while she was there. Following a summer in Israel where she worked as a volunteer archaeologist, she earned an MA from the Claremont Graduate University.
Remember to visit her website: MichelleMoran.com for more info and PLENTY of extras, including more chances to win one of her books!
If you haven't done so already, don't forget to enter my giveaway HERE for the chance to win a signed copy of The Heretic Queen or Cleopatra's Daughter.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Food: Fresh-baked banana loaf, and the ubiquitous coffee
Book at Table: Finishing up Cleopatra's Daughter!
Today marks the first day of the Cleopatra's Daughter celebration week here at The Courtier's Book. Every day I'll post a little something Egypt or Rome themed (the main character of the book, Selene, straddles both worlds), leading up to the giveaway for a copy of Cleopatra's Daughter and Michelle Moran's previous work, The Heretic Queen!
Don't forget to enter the contest HERE if you haven't already done so! This time next week, I'll be posting the winners!
Here's the schedule for the rest of the week:
Monday: My brief-but-awesome interview with Michelle!
Tuesday: What to read next when you've finished Cleopatra's Daughter
Wednesday: Modern Egyptian travel
Thursday: The films of Ancient Egypt (that is, *portraying*, not *from*)
Friday: My review of Cleopatra's Daughter
Saturday: The giveaway contest ends at midnight!
Sunday: Winners announcement!
Friday, September 4, 2009
Director: Patricia Rozema
Cast: Frances O'Connor, Jonny Lee Miller, Embeth Davidtz, Alessandro Nivola, et al.
My Review: Hey guys, remember when this movie came out? And everyone was really excited because finally a *woman* was going to direct an Austen adaptation? And it got good press because it had a hot, up-and-coming young cast? And then when it came out in theaters it got bad reviews because it took so many liberties with the source material?
Okay, technically I don't remember any of that... but that's what I've been reading on IMDB in preparation for reviewing this film. What can I say, I was in grade school when this came out, and just slightly too young to have gotten caught up in period pieces. Anyway, I find the responses to this film to be fascinating; you either love it or hate it. There is no in-between.
I'm not going to summarize this story because, really. Fanny Price is born poor, goes to live with rich relations, falls in love with her pseudo-brother, the end. I want to get to the good stuff (illustrated!).
Fanny, as played by Frances O'Connor, is judgmental, yes, and preachy, yes, and all the same stuff that we always complain about regarding the character, but overall I thought she did a decent job. She is *not* as prudish as the book character, so she had that going for her, as well. Jonny Lee Miller is adorable, of course. I heard that he will play Mr. Knightley in a new BBC adaptation of Emma to come out next year, and I think that could be excellent.
Let's get to Alessandro Nivola as Henry Crawford, the ne'er-do-well who almost steals Fanny's heart. The problem here is that he is TOO good in this role to make it believable that Fanny would choose Edmund over him. Edmund, destined to be a parson for... no discernable reason... is really harsh on everyone. Perhaps we're meant to believe that Fanny chooses Edmund because she doesn't think she deserves anyone different. Maybe she hates herself and wants to live a life of judging others and being judged. I don't know. All I know is that Austen (allegedly!) had wanted Fanny and Henry to get together, but someone who read an early draft of the novel basically told her Henry was "too good to be true," and suggested she make Fanny choose Edmund. So then Austen wrote in the little section where Henry and Maria run off together. In this movie, Fanny catches them in flagrante delicto before they run off, but still. I feel like, if I were a director, and I had a cast like Frances O'Connor and Alessandro Nivola, I would just change the ending. Actually, I would forget about an Austen adaptation and just make it a really awesome Regency romance. There, I said it.
Another thing people didn't like about this movie is how sexy it is. Ooo, yeah, check out that hand on the neck... for shame! How dare anyone introduce physicality into a romance!
I know the rebuttal is that Austen didn't write about it, but... I don't really care. People held hands, even in Regency times.
Oh my lord, what is that?!?
Aaaanyway, what I'm so sarcastically saying is that I actually enjoyed most of what Rozema "added" to the original Austen in this movie. It made it younger and fresher. There are still too many really boring, dry BBC adaptations out there, that this one stirred the pot in a nice way. I agree with the validity of the argument that it's not "true" Austen, but I will counter that with another... just because she didn't write about her characters kissing or anything of that sort, doesn't mean she didn't imagine them participating in those activities at some point in their lives. She also didn't talk about them going to the bathroom (and I bet you won't find any Regency writer who did), but you know that Regency people did, in fact, have to use the facilities at some point. They are human just like us.
So, enough ranting on that subject. I LIKE THIS MOVIE.
That is James Purefoy in the really, really tiny role of Tom Bertram, heir to Mansfield Park. He would go on to be Marc Antony in Rome and star in plenty of other great movies and shows. I just think the fact that he has approximately 3 lines and all of them are performed intoxicated is hilarious.
Visit the IMDB page for this movie
Buy this on DVD on Amazon
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Her books were published in the last century, but have enjoyed such lasting appeal that Sourcebooks has been republishing them. At my local Barnes & Noble, there is a lady who comes in every month to pick up the latest reprint! I've been enjoying a few of them over the last couple years... Venetia and Bath Tangle are two that stand out in my mind. Heyer is one of the few authors who can make me actually laugh out loud.
Luckily for us, Sourcebooks is putting out another reprint:
One of readers', librarians' and booksellers' most frequently requested Heyers, The Foundling features Gilly, the seventh Duke of Sale.
A diffident young man of 24 years, easily pushed around by his overprotective uncle and the retinue of devoted family retainers who won't let him lift a finger for himself, the Duke sometimes wishes he could be a commoner. One day he decides to set out to discover whether he is "a man, or only a Duke."
Beginning with an incognito journey into the countryside to confront a blackmailer, he encounters a runaway school boy, a beautiful but airheaded orphan, one of literature's most appealing and well-spoken comic villains, and a series of alarming and even life threatening events from which he can extricate himself only with the help of his shy and lovely fiancé…
The Foundling will be exclusively in Barnes & Noble stores this month, so there is a very cool receipt promotion going on between Sourcebooks and the bookstores:
"Send us your receipt/proof of purchase of The Foundling from your local Barnes & Noble to our office or a scanned receipt in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll be entered to win a $200 Barnes & Noble gift card! Receipts must be dated between September 1 – September 31, 2009, and can be from an in-store or online purchase."
Send your Barnes & Noble The Foundling receipts to
PO Box 4410
Naperville, IL 60567
Just think of all the other Heyer books you could buy with that gift card!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
All the reviews are being collected here in a blog unique to the challenge, and already I have so many books I'll have to add to my TBR list, it's crazy. A couple of things I've noticed so far:
- Shirley Jackson is making a serious comeback in popularity. Is that correct to say? Did she ever go "out" of popularity? Regardless. I've been afraid of The Haunting ever since I was traumatized by it as a child, so I suppose I'll have to pick up one of these at some point. Maybe I'll read "The Lottery" for my first weekend short-story post.
- Vampires. Every sort of vampire you could want: Charlaine Harris', Guillermo del Toro's, the Swedish vampires from Let the Right One In, everything. Notice that Twilight is not included. Excuse me while I raise a glass to book bloggers everywhere.
- Historical fiction-wise, we can't escape the Gothic, and why would we ever want to? The Name of the Rose (okay, not Gothic, but not far off from *actual* Visigoth times!) and some Sarah Waters Victorian creepers are appearing, as well.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I'm so excited about this month already-- there's plenty of great historical fiction being released, and I'm having my first book giveaway on this blog!
Michelle Moran's third novel, Cleopatra's Daughter, will be hitting bookstores on September 15th, and to celebrate, I will be running a special giveaway... of TWO items!
Moran's latest foray into the world of classical history (after The Heretic Queen) centers upon the children of Marc Antony and Cleopatra . After the death of their parents, twins Alexander and Selene and younger brother Ptolemy are in a dangerous position, left to the mercy of their father's greatest rival, Octavian Caesar. However, Caesar does not kill them as expected, but takes the trio to Rome to be paraded as part of his triumphant return and to demonstrate his solidified power. As the twins adapt to life in Rome in the inner circle of Caesar's family, they grow into adulthood ensconced in a web of secrecy, intrigue and constant danger. Told from Selene's perspective, the tale draws readers into the fascinating world of ancient Rome and into the court of Rome's first and most famous emperor. Deftly encompassing enough political history to provide context, Moran never clutters her narrative with extraneous facts. Readers may be frustrated that Selene is more observer than actor, despite the action taking place around her, but historical fiction enthusiasts will delight in this solid installment from a talented name in the genre.
The intricacies of the ancient Egyptian court are brought to life in Moran's fascinating tale of a princess's rise to power. Nefertari, niece of the famed heretic queen Nefertiti, becomes part of the court of Pharaoh Seti I after her family is deposed, and she befriends Ramesses II, the young crown prince. When Ramesses is made co-monarch, he weds Iset, the granddaughter of a harem girl backed by Seti's conniving sister, Henuttawy, the priestess of Isis. As Nefertari's position in the court becomes tenuous, she realizes that she, too, wants to marry Ramesses and enlists the help of Seti's other sister, Woserit. But when Nefertari succeeds in wedding Ramesses, power struggles and court intrigues threaten her security, and it is questionable whether the Egyptian people will accept a heretic descendant as their ruler or if civil war will erupt. Moran (Nefertiti) brings her characters to life, especially Nefertari, who helped Ramesses II become one of the most famous of Egyptian pharaohs. Nefertari's struggles to be accepted as a ruler loved as a leader and to secure her family's position throughout eternity are sure to appeal to fans of historical fiction.
You can win either a hardcover copy of Cleopatra's Daughter or a paperback of her second novel, The Heretic Queen, simply by replying in the comments section of this post. I will draw two names using a randomizer. Best of all, both items will are signed by the author herself, Michelle Moran!
Here's how you can get extra chances to win:
1 entry- Reply to this post with your email address. If you don't, I won't be able to contact you to get your address and send it to the publisher.
3 entries- Become a follower of this blog. If you're already a follower, you will automatically receive these points.
5 entries- Post about this contest in your own blog, and link to your blog post in your comment.
You have until midnight, September 12th, to enter the contest. Winners will have 48 hours to respond by emailing me their information before different winners will be chosen (I want the winners to get their books as soon as possible).
I'm practically jumping up and down in my chair typing this out, I'm so geeked. I've heard such great things about Michelle's work, I looooove reading her blog about archaeology, and I will soon be reading my own copy of Cleopatra's Daughter. The week of September 6th-12th, I will be featuring some Ancient Egyptian and Roman fare on this blog to get us in the mood, and will post my own review of the book then, too.
Make sure to check out Michelle's blog and her website, MichelleMoran.com. There are even more opportunities to win her books there, as well as a wealth of historical information.