Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Cousin's War series by Philippa Gregory

Current read
The Cousin's War series
Author - Philippa Gregory (http://www.philippagregory.com/)

Book 1 -

Amazon description -
Elizabeth Woodville is a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition. Her mother is Jacquetta, also known as the mystical lady of the rivers, and she is even more determined to bring power and wealth to the family line. While riding in the woods one day, Elizabeth captures the attentions of the newly crowned King Edward IV and, despite her common upbringing, marries him in secret. 

When she is raised up to be his queen, the English court is outraged, but Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for her family’s dominance. Yet despite her best efforts, and even with the help of her mother’s powers, her two sons become pawns in a famous unsolved mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the lost princes in the Tower of London.

In this dazzling account of the deadly Wars of the Roses, brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize: the throne of England.

Ebook currently available for $5.99 at Amazon here.

Book 2 -

Amazon description -
Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her Lancaster house is the true ruler of England, and that she has a great destiny before her. Married to a man twice her age, quickly widowed, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, to England, and even to the little boy. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty, she names him Henry, like the king; sends him into exile; and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth of York’s daughter. As the political tides constantly move and shift, Margaret masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of all time—all the while knowing that her son has grown to manhood, recruited an army, and awaits his opportunity to win the greatest prize in all of England. 

The Red Queen is a novel of conspiracy, passion, and coldhearted ambition, the story of a proud and determined woman who believes that she alone is destined, by her piety and lineage, to shape the course of history.

Ebook currently available for $5.99 at Amazon here.

Book 3 -

Amazon description -
When the young and beautiful Jacquetta is married to the older Duke of Bedford, English regent of France, he introduces her 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 has visions of the growing threat from the people of England and the danger of their royal York rivals. Jacquetta fights for her king and queen, as she sees an extraordinary and unexpected future for her daughter Elizabeth: a change of fortune, the white rose of York, and the throne of England…

Ebook currently available for $10.38 at Amazon here.


Book 4 -

Amazon description -
The Kingmaker’s Daughter—Philippa Gregory’s first sister story since The Other Boleyn Girl—is the gripping tale of the daughters of the man known as the Kingmaker, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick: the most powerful magnate in fifteenth-century England. Without a son and heir, he uses his daughters, Anne and Isabel, as pawns in his political games, and they grow up to be influential players in their own right. 

At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Married at age fourteen, she is soon left widowed and fatherless, her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy. Anne manages her own escape by marrying Richard, Duke of Gloucester, but her choice will set her on a collision course with the overwhelming power of the royal family.

Ebook currently available for $8.99 at Amazon here.


Book 5 -

Amazon description -
When Henry Tudor picks up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth field, he knows he must marry the princess of the enemy house—Elizabeth of York—to unify a country divided by war for nearly two decades.

But his bride is still in love with his slain enemy, Richard III—and her mother and half of England dream of a missing heir, sent into the unknown by the White Queen. While the new monarchy can win power, it cannot win hearts in an England that plots for the triumphant return of the House of York. 

Henry’s greatest fear is that somewhere a prince is waiting to invade and reclaim the throne. When a young man who would be king leads his army and invades England, Elizabeth has to choose between the new husband she is coming to love and the boy who claims to be her beloved lost brother: the rose of York come home at last.


Ebook currently available for $9.99 at Amazon here.

Book 6 -

Amazon description -
Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter—Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors.

After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret’s world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. But this charmed life of the wealthiest and “holiest” woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors.

Ebook currently available for $12.74 at Amazon here.

Update: Finished reading on 11/14/2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness

Current read - All Souls trilogy
Author - Deborah Harkness (http://deborahharkness.com/)

Book 1 - A Discovery of Witches

Amazon description -
It all begins with a lost manuscript, a reluctant witch, and 1,500-year-old vampire. Dr. Diana Bishop has a really good reason for refusing to do magic: she is a direct descendant of the first woman executed in the Salem Witch Trials, and her parents cautioned her be discreet about her talents before they were murdered, presumably for having "too much power." So it is purely by accident that Diana unlocks an enchanted long-lost manuscript (a book that all manner of supernatural creatures believe to hold the story of all origins and the secret of immortality) at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and finds herself in a race to prevent an interspecies war. A sparkling debut written by a historian and self-proclaimed oenophile, A Discovery of Witches is heady mix of history and magic, mythology, and love (cue the aforementioned vampire!), making for a luxurious, intoxicating, one-sitting read. --Daphne Durham


Ebook currently available for $2.99 at Amazon here.


Book 2 - Shadow of Night

Amazon description -
Deborah Harkness burst onto the scene with her 2011 debut, A Discovery of Witches, which introduced legions of fans to Diana Bishop, an Oxford scholar, and Matthew Clairmont, a handsome geneticist. Diana also happened to be a witch, and Matthew a vampire--and readers couldn’t get enough of them, right up to the thrilling cliffhanger ending. Now Shadow of Night picks up where the first book leaves off, with Diana and Matthew entering Elizabethan London, where Mathew is part of the mysterious School of Night, a group that counts Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh among its members. Characterization, a great eye for detail, and a story that takes some notable twists and turns make this a great novel that will more than live up to eager fans’ expectations. It’s even better than the first. --Chris Schluep

Ebook currently available for $4.99 at Amazon here.




Book 3 - The Book of Life

Amazon description -
Dedicated scholar, reluctant witch, and seasoned time traveler Diana Bishop returns to wrap up the wildly popular All Souls trilogy. After a supernatural “meet-cute” in A Discovery of Witches, and a time-traveling adventure in Shadow of Night, Diana and vampire/scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present, continuing their pursuit of magical alchemical manuscript Ashmole 782, aka The Book of Life; but before the secrets contained within the manuscript are revealed, Diana and Matthew must navigate the peculiarities of their essentially forbidden union. As the stakes grow increasingly higher, they prepare for a showdown in the demon world that could have direct—and possibly dire—­consequences for their own families. Harkness herself proves to be quite the alchemist as she combines elements of magic, history, romance, and science, transforming them into a compelling journey through time, space, and geography. By bridging the gaps between Harry Potter, Twilight, and Outlander fans, Harkness artfully appeals to a broad range of fantasy lovers. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With the first two volumes in this trilogy selling more than one million copies, and the movie version of A Discovery of Witches currently in development, the conclusion of this paranormal adventure is guaranteed to fly off the shelves. --Margaret Flanagan

Ebook currently available for $10.99 at Amazon here.
Update: 10/7/2014 - Over 50% into first book and it already feels like a chore. Giving this up for now. Will maybe try again at another time.