Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cat Thursday - Happy Birthday, Alice and Arya

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

Yesterday was the girls' birthdays! Well, technically it was only Alice's. I know her exact birth date because the woman I adopted her from knew the exact date. Since Arya was a rescue, I have no idea when her birthday is. It was most likely late Fall based on the age she was when we got her, but to make things easy, I just decided to combine the dates. I'm so forgetful these days (as last week was evidence. lol). 

Arya is not fond of the boys holding her. Hence, the pic of her by herself. She really enjoyed the food. I had to stop her or she would have ate it all. Alice, my big eater, turned her nose up. She's never been a fan of wet food.

Oh, forgot to mention their ages. Alice is 9 and Arya is 5. 

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cat Thursday - Yup, I forgot!

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

Um, yeah...I did it again. I can't believe I keep doing this. Wow. I'm so sorry. 

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HFVBT: C.W. Gortner's The Vatican Princess - Book Blast and {Giveaway}

The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner

Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Ballantine Books
Hardcover, Ebook, Audiobook
400 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Infamy is no accident. It is a poison in our blood. It is the price of being a Borgia.

Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias fascinated and terrorized 15th-century Renaissance Italy. Lucrezia Borgia, beloved daughter of the pope, was at the center of the dynasty’s ambitions. Slandered as a heartless seductress who lured men to their doom, was she in fact the villainess of legend, or was she trapped in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and survival?

With the ascension of the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI, the new pope’s illegitimate children—his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful young daughter Lucrezia—assume an exalted position in the papal court. Privileged and adored, Lucrezia yearns to escape her childhood and play a part in her family’s fortunes. But Rome is seductive and dangerous: Alliances shift at a moment’s notice as Italy’s ruling dynasties strive to keep rivals at bay. As Lucrezia’s father faces challenges from all sides, he’s obliged to marry her off to a powerful adversary. But when she discovers the brutal truth behind her alliance, Lucrezia is plunged into a perilous gambit that will require all her wits, cunning, and guile. Escaping her marriage offers the chance of happiness with a passionate prince of Naples, yet as scandalous accusations of murder and incest build against her, menacing those she loves, Lucrezia must risk everything to overcome the lethal fate imposed upon her by her Borgia blood.

Beautifully wrought, rich with fascinating historical detail, The Vatican Princess is the first novel to describe Lucrezia’s coming-of-age in her own voice—a dramatic, vivid tale set in an era of savagery and unparalleled splendor, where enemies and allies can be one and the same, and where loyalty to family can ultimately be a curse.

“Assiduously researched and expertly crafted . . . . This unholy plunge into Rome’s darkest dynasty is wholly engrossing.” – Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author

“A spider web of Renaissance intrigue with a legendary cast . . . Impressive research, a lush background, and deft characterization make for a fascinating read.” – Margaret George, New York Times bestselling author

“Elegantly written and deeply researched . . . Renaissance Italy is vividly brought to life. I’m captivated by this knowledgeable author’s take on the controversial Borgias.” – Alison Weir, NYT bestselling author

About the Author
C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads,Pinterest, and YouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner’s Newsletter for updates.

Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, February 9
Drey’s Library
The Maiden’s Court
CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, February 10
The Lit Bitch
The Never-Ending Book
A Dream within a Dream
What Is That Book About

Thursday, February 11
Laura’s Interests
The Reader’s Hollow
Flashlight Commentary

Friday, February 12
Let Them Read Books
To Read, Or Not to Read

Saturday, February 13
So Many Books, So Little Time
Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne

Sunday, February 14
100 Pages a Day
With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Monday, February 15
A Book Geek
A Bookish Affair
Puddletown Reviews

Tuesday, February 16
Just One More Chapter
Historical Fiction Obsession
Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Wednesday, February 17
Impressions In Ink
A Literary Vacation
The Country Bookworm

Thursday, February 18
The True Book Addict
Ageless Pages Reviews

Friday, February 19
Passages to the Past
Kristin Un-Ravelle’d
Book Lovers Paradise

Saturday, February 20
Beth’s Book Nook Blog
One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Sunday, February 21
Carpe Librum (Seize The Book)
Seize the Words: Books in Review

Monday, February 22
Broken Teepee
Book Drunkard
The Reading Queen

Tuesday, February 23
Teatime and Books
View from the Birdhouse
Historical Fiction Connection

To win a Borgia-Inspired Velvet Bag & Beaded Bracelet from C.W. Gortner please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 23rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Vatican Princess Book Blast


Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2016 - It's Back!

I've been living under a rock so I just found out last night that this was being brought back by The Estella Society...and I signed up...11th Hour!

Today, we introduce ourselves with five books that represent us as a person. I'm going to do mine more as a defining moment, or why/how these books shaped me as a reader. Kinda sorta.

Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice. My favorite book and the book that introduced me to my favorite author of all time. It was the third book in the Vampire Chronicles series, but I read it first for some reason. Only then did my mom, who had read the first book, Interview with the Vampire, many years before, inform me about the first book. Doh! I proceeded to read the first and second book, and then read Queen of the Damned again. I have since read it four times and the first, second and fourth books twice. Of course, I will read Queen of the Damned again, and probably the others too.

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Another favorite. I credit this book with igniting my huge passion for historical fiction which has become one of my top three favorite genres.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This is the book that I read and loved when I was a girl, and have since read it many more times. Jo taught me that a girl could do anything and sparked my passion for writing.

Grist by Linda Little. This one is a relatively recent one, but it was my favorite read in 2014 and it touched me profoundly. I guess it was because it reminded me how blessed I am to be mother...what a precious thing it is, and also how lucky I am to be a woman in this age, able to make my own choices.

Let Me In (or Let The Right One In) by John Ajvide Lindqvist. I'm a huge horror fan. I mean, I have another blog dedicated to the horror/speculative fiction genre (Castle Macabre) so that makes it pretty obvious. I credit this book for getting me excited about horror again. I read it in 2009.

Trying to define yourself by five books is really hard. There are so many books I've loved and that have changed my life. I'm sure it's the same for many of you as well.

Once again, welcome back BBAW!


Friday, February 12, 2016

HFVBT: Brandy Purdy's The Secrets of Lizzie Borden - Review #LizzieBorden

My thoughts
"I can only tell you this, for whatever it is worth to you, all those old adages about money embroidered on so many samplers are absolutely true; it cannot buy happiness and it is the root of all evil."

This, a quote from Lizzie Borden in the book, entirely sums up the story of Lizzie, at least as told in this book. This fictional account of Lizzie and the murders of her parents is so excellently told, it reads like it was written by Lizzie herself. I am thoroughly impressed with how engaging it is and the amazing polarity of the character of Lizzie. Purdy has outdone herself.

As one long fascinated with the story of Lizzie Borden, I, like many others, have often speculated on whether she truly committed the murders (I have always leaned toward yes) and if she did, what was her motivation. Unlike the many stories I've watched about Borden in the television medium, this telling fully develops Lizzie as a person. We learn of her inner fears and wants. We learn of a life with very little love from a miserly father and a grave and cold sister. And not only was her father a miser, but he was also condescending and always quick to inform Lizzie of her naivety and lack of worth in the eyes of others, except as a source of getting to his wealth. Lizzie was a woman so desperate for love and affection that trying to grasp it in any way she could was what ultimately led her to the rash decision and terrible acts that would change her life forever.

Going back to the quote above, Lizzie thought that she would be free...and she was. She was free to spend money and live the way she always wanted. And yet, although she was acquitted of the murders, no one ever truly believed she didn't do it and that stain would follow her the rest of her days. She could never feel truly loved because someone always seemed to have ulterior motives of getting close to her to get her story, or for notoriety. Sadly, the one time she had a chance at happiness was dashed because of her notorious past. She was destined to spend the rest of her life alone.

That Lizzie was a bisexual woman is neither here nor there. There are plenty of people in history that I'm sure were the same. In Lizzie's case, instead of being liberated by loving who she wanted, because of the norms of the time, and her upbringing to feel shame, she could never truly be happy, or feel good about herself and how she felt toward other women. Suppressed sexuality can lead to volatile feelings and this may be another clue to the motivations of her committing the murders.

We will never truly know if she did it or not. Since she was acquitted by a court of law, one wants to believe that perhaps she was innocent. However, in my mind, I must go along with the portrayal in this book, which coincides with what I've always believed. Do I think what Lizzie did was wrong? Yes, I do. Do I feel she was not punished properly? Yes, I do. Lizzie received a far worse punishment than if she would have been sentenced to hang. She sentenced herself to a life of loneliness and self-loathing. To me, that was punishment enough.

The Secrets of Lizzie Borden really is a must read. I can't even begin to express how much I enjoyed this book. I highly recommend it.

About the book

The Secrets of Lizzie Borden
by Brandy Purdy

Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Kensington Books
eBook & Print; 384 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

In her enthralling, richly imagined new novel, Brandy Purdy, author of The Ripper’s Wife, creates a compelling portrait of the real, complex woman behind an unthinkable crime.

Lizzie Borden should be one of the most fortunate young women in Fall River, Massachusetts. Her wealthy father could easily afford to provide his daughters with fashionable clothes, travel, and a rich, cultured life. Instead, haunted by the ghost of childhood poverty, he forces Lizzie and her sister, Emma, to live frugally, denying them the simplest modern conveniences. Suitors and socializing are discouraged, as her father views all gentleman callers as fortune hunters.

Lonely and deeply unhappy, Lizzie stifles her frustration, dreaming of the freedom that will come with her eventual inheritance. But soon, even that chance of future independence seems about to be ripped away. And on a stifling August day in 1892, Lizzie’s long-simmering anger finally explodes…

Vividly written and thought-provoking, The Secrets of Lizzie Borden explores the fascinating events behind a crime that continues to grip the public imagination—a story of how thwarted desires and desperate rage could turn a dutiful daughter into a notorious killer.

About the Author
Brandy Purdy (Emily Purdy in the UK) is the author of the historical novels THE CONFESSION OF PIERS GAVESTON, THE BOLEYN WIFE (THE TUDOR WIFE), THE TUDOR THRONE (MARY & ELIZABETH), THE QUEEN’S PLEASURE (A COURT AFFAIR), THE QUEEN’S RIVALS (THE FALLEN QUEEN), THE BOLEYN BRIDE, and THE RIPPER’S WIFE. An ardent book lover since early childhood, she first became interested in history at the age of nine or ten years old when she read a book of ghost stories which contained a chapter about Anne Boleyn haunting the Tower of London. Visit her website at, you can also follow her on Facebook as Brandy Purdy aka Emily Purdy.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cat Thursday - Authors and Cats (50)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

The second Cat Thursday of each month is Authors and Cats Thursday. Each time I will feature an author with their cat(s), or pictured with a cat(s).

This month's author is Alice Walker, who celebrated her birthday on February 9.

Alice Walker, one of the United States’ preeminent writers, is an award-winning author of novels, stories, essays, and poetry. In 1983, Walker became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction with her novel The Color Purple, which also won the National Book Award. Her other books include The Third Life of Grange Copeland, Meridian, The Temple of My Familiar, and Possessing the Secret of Joy. In her public life, Walker has worked to address problems of injustice, inequality, and poverty as an activist, teacher, and public intellectual. (from Goodreads)

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Cat Thursday - Cats in Art (17) and In Memoriam: Rockykins

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

I would just like to thank you for staying loyal to Cat Thursday through all of my personal crises. I appreciate all your well wishes.

Attr to Ambrosius Benson (1519-1550) Portrait of a Woman with Cat 
(stylistically in between Ambrosius Benson & Adriaen Isenbrandt)

Bruno LILJEFORS Cat in the Summer Meadow

Charles Burton Barber, A Rival Attraction, 1887

Le Chat Angora by Fragonard

I have some sad news. One of our good friends here on Cat Thursday, Troythulu and Eccles, have lost their beloved Maine Coon, Rockykins. We're sending our love and hugs their way and wishing the dear boy much happiness across the Rainbow Bridge. Losing our beloved fur babies is so hard. RIP

Photo credit: The Call of Troythulu

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sophie Perinot's Medicis Daughter - Review #SophiePerinot

My thoughts
I first learned of Marguerite de Valois (Princess Margot) upon watching the 1994 French film, La Reine Margot. The subject matter and her character fascinated me and ever since I've been intrigued to learn more about her. When I was given the opportunity to read and review Medicis Daughter, I couldn't wait to say yes.

Perinot is a talented historical author. She takes characters already known to us and makes them even more real. Princess Margot's mother, Catherine de Medici, a woman both maligned and admired in history, quite lives up to her reputation of Madame la Serpente in this depiction. I have heard arguments on both sides regarding her true nature, but the fact remains that she would have had to have been a formidable woman to navigate the treacherous times she lived in. That she pretty much used her daughters as pawns while worshiping her sons, namely Henri, was the difficult part of this book. How women of royalty could stand to live the way they were forced to live is beyond my comprehension. I guess my 21st century self can't wrap my head around having no choices in your own life. This being said, Margot really learned to hold her own. Perinot has depicted Margo as a strong and resilient woman who weathered the storm and finally came into her own when she showed her mother she had no control over her any longer. It was a triumphant moment and I cheered at the end.

There are so many remarkable women in the history of the world and I know I can always count on Sophie Perinot to tell a compelling story while staying true to historical detail. I can't wait to read what she publishes next. If you haven't read this one, you really simply must!

About the book

Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Thomas Dunne Books
Hardcover & eBook; 384 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot’s intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family.

Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot’s heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother’s schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot’s wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul.

Médicis Daughter is historical fiction at its finest, weaving a unique coming-of-age story and a forbidden love with one of the most dramatic and violent events in French history.

Advance Praise
“This is Renaissance France meets Game of Thrones: dark, sumptuous historical fiction that coils religious strife, court intrigue, passionate love, family hatred, and betrayed innocence like a nest of poisonous snakes. Beautiful Princess Margot acts as our guide to the heart of her violent family, as she blossoms from naive court pawn to woman of conscience and renown. A highly recommended coming-of-age tale where the princess learns to slay her own dragons!” –Kate Quinn, Bestselling author of LADY OF THE ETERNAL CITY

“The riveting story of a 16th century French princess caught in the throes of royal intrigue and religious war. From the arms of the charismatic Duke of Guise to the blood-soaked streets of Paris, Princess Marguerite runs a dangerous gauntlet, taking the reader with her. An absolutely gripping read!” –Michelle Moran, bestselling author of THE REBEL QUEEN

“Rising above the chorus of historical drama is Perinot’s epic tale of the fascinating, lascivious, ruthless House of Valois, as told through the eyes of the complicated and intelligent Princess Marguerite. Burdened by her unscrupulous family and desperate for meaningful relationships, Margot is forced to navigate her own path in sixteenth century France. Amid wars of nation and heart, Médicis Daughter brilliantly demonstrates how one unique woman beats staggering odds to find the strength and power that is her birthright.” –Erika Robuck, bestselling author of HEMINGWAY’S GIRL

About the Author
SOPHIE PERINOT is the author of The Sister Queens and one of six contributing authors of A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii. A former attorney, Perinot is now a full-time writer. She lives in Great Falls, Virginia with her three children, three cats, one dog and one husband.

An active member of the Historical Novel Society, Sophie has attended all of the group’s North American Conferences and served as a panelist multiple times. Find her among the literary twitterati as @Lit_gal or onFacebook.


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