New This Week

The Second Empress ~ Michelle Moran
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Pages: 320
Release Date: August 14, 2012

National bestselling author Michelle Moran returns to Paris, this time under the rule of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte as he casts aside his beautiful wife to marry a Hapsburg princess he hopes will bear him a royal heir

   After the bloody French Revolution, Emperor Napoleon’s power is absolute. When Marie-Louise, the eighteen year old daughter of the King of Austria, is told that the Emperor has demanded her hand in marriage, her father presents her with a terrible choice: marry the cruel, capricious Napoleon, leaving the man she loves and her home forever, or say no, and plunge her country into war.

   Marie-Louise knows what she must do, and she travels to France, determined to be a good wife despite Napoleon’s reputation. But lavish parties greet her in Paris, and at the extravagant French court, she finds many rivals for her husband’s affection, including Napoleon’s first wife, Joséphine, and his sister Pauline, the only woman as ambitious as the emperor himself. Beloved by some and infamous to many, Pauline is fiercely loyal to her brother. She is also convinced that Napoleon is destined to become the modern Pharaoh of Egypt. Indeed, her greatest hope is to rule alongside him as his queen—a brother-sister marriage just as the ancient Egyptian royals practiced. Determined to see this dream come to pass, Pauline embarks on a campaign to undermine the new empress and convince Napoleon to divorce Marie-Louise. 

   As Pauline’s insightful Haitian servant, Paul, watches these two women clash, he is torn between his love for Pauline and his sympathy for Marie-Louise. But there are greater concerns than Pauline’s jealousy plaguing the court of France. While Napoleon becomes increasingly desperate for an heir, the empire’s peace looks increasingly unstable. When war once again sweeps the continent and bloodshed threatens Marie-Louise’s family in Austria, the second Empress is forced to make choices that will determine her place in history—and change the course of her life. 

   Based on primary resources from the time, The Second Empress takes readers back to Napoleon’s empire, where royals and servants alike live at the whim of one man, and two women vie to change their destinies.

The Kingmaker’s Daughter ~ Philippa Gregory

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Pages: 432
Release Date: August 14, 2012

Spies, poison, and curses surround her…. Is there anyone she can trust?

In The Kingmaker’s Daughter, #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory presents a novel of conspiracy and a fight to the death for love and power at the court of Edward IV of England.

The Kingmaker’s Daughter is the gripping story 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. In this novel, her first sister story since The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory explores the lives of two fascinating young women.

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 and will cost the lives of those she loves most in the world, including her precious only son, Prince Edward. Ultimately, the kingmaker’s daughter will achieve her father’s greatest ambition.


The Spymaster’s Daughter ~ Jeane Westin

Publisher: NAL Trade
Pages: 416
Release Date: August 7, 2012

In the court of Elizabeth I, the daughter of the queen’s powerful spymaster becomes a secret agent, and plays a dangerous role in saving her country from its ruthless enemies.

In Tudor England, traitors are everywhere and the queen’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, is assembling the greatest intelligence-gathering network in the world. Walsingham’s only daughter, Lady Frances Sidney, is smart, courageous, and unhappy in love. She longs for the excitement of decoding encrypted messages and setting traps for those working for rival Mary, Queen of Scots. But Frances's father refuses her any opportunity to contribute to the desperate effort of keeping England safe.

Then Elizabeth, impressed with Frances’s fiery spirit, calls her to court as a lady-in-waiting, and Frances seizes the chance to prove herself. Soon, she wins the trust of her father’s de-coders and begins her secret work, thrilled with the freedom to test her talents. But her peril is compounded as her beauty and wit also attract the romantic attention of two men, one the reckless Earl of Essex and the other her own brilliant but low-born servant, Robert Pauley. And when Frances uncovers the most dire plot of all, she will risk her father’s condemnation, her heart’s longing, and her very life to safeguard her queen.

The King’s Damsel ~ Kate Emerson

Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 368
Release Date: August 7, 2012

Handmaid. Spy. Mistress. Anxious to secure his own success at the glittering court of Henry VIII, heiress Tamsin Lodge’s ambitious guardian obtains her a position as maid of honor to young Princess Mary Tudor. Tamsin soon comes to love the neglected child, but in the Tudor court, not even a princess is secure. Mary’s father is besotted with the lovely Anne Boleyn, and the girl’s future has grown perilous. Plotting to be Mary’s eyes and ears, Tamsin joins Anne’s service, but the handsome silk worker who is her co-conspirator may be her undoing. While marriage with a merchant is unthinkable, she cannot resist Rafe Pinckney’s embraces. When Tamsin also attracts the lusty Henry, she must choose between loyalty and desire. . . . With Anne’s jealousy growing dangerous, can Tamsin survive the schemes and seductions that surround her?

Ruby Red ~ Kerstin Gier

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.


Alright so this isn’t my typical novel – like at all. But once again I got hooked by the gorgeous cover art. It is absolutely spectacular! So there were things that I loved about this novel and things that really irritated me. Let’s start with the positives… I have to say that I was intrigued with the idea of time travel and of course I love the idea of ancient secret societies. I thought that the characters were very well developed and there was a lot of intrigue … and there are still a lot of questions that have remained unanswered – hopefully they will be answered in the following two novels. If you are looking for a satisfying conclusion, you definitely won’t get one with this book.

So the biggest issue that I had with this novel was the main character Gwen. She is supposed to be 16 almost 17 but she sounds like she’s 12 going on 13. I was so irritated by her and her classmates – I definitely felt like I was back in middle school – not a good thing.

Overall it was a decent read – it literally took me a few hours to get through the book – it was fast-paced and entertaining however it was also extremely juvenile. I think that it would be a great read for those “tween” girls but as an adult who enjoys Y.A novels … it’s a little young. 

Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow ~ Juliet Grey

A captivating novel of rich spectacle and royal scandal, Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow spans fifteen years in the fateful reign of Marie Antoinette, France’s most legendary and notorious queen.

Paris, 1774. At the tender age of eighteen, Marie Antoinette ascends to the French throne alongside her husband, Louis XVI. But behind the extravagance of the young queen’s elaborate silk gowns and dizzyingly high coiffures, she harbors deeper fears for her future and that of the Bourbon dynasty.

From the early growing pains of marriage to the joy of conceiving a child, from her passion for Swedish military attaché Axel von Fersen to the devastating Affair of the Diamond Necklace, Marie Antoinette tries to rise above the gossip and rivalries that encircle her. But as revolution blossoms in America, a much larger threat looms beyond the gilded gates of Versailles—one that could sweep away the French monarchy forever.


Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow is the second installment of a trilogy based on the life of Marie Antoinette. The first novel, Becoming Marie Antoinette focused on Antoinette’s childhood and her life in France as the dauphine. Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow picks up right where Becoming Marie Antoinette left off – after the death of Louis XV. The focus of this novel is on the early reign of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette as France’s new, young monarchs. The novel spans 15 years, from the beginning of the reign of Louis XVI up until the beginning of the French Revolution. The third novel in the series, The Last October Sky will be released in September 2013.

I loved Becoming Marie Antoinette so I had high hopes and expectations for this novel and I have to say that I was slightly disappointed. I was expecting another fabulous novel from Juliet Grey – and for the most part it was fantastic – but there were some flaws, mainly that there were some excruciatingly slow parts in the story. It’s written in Marie Antoinette’s voice – and I have to say that Ms. Grey does a fantastic job of getting inside Marie Antoinette’s brain – and the novel is extremely well researched, informative and well written however it just didn’t pull me into the story like Becoming Marie Antoinette did. The voices of the characters were engaging and the descriptions of the clothing, masques, palaces, etc., were vibrant and beautifully written.

I also appreciate how Ms. Grey chose to portray Marie Antoinette’s – she didn’t paint her in a good light or a bad light but rather she chose to show all of her faults, her naïveté, her inexperience in a non-judgmental way. She paints a sympathetic portrait of Marie Antoinette – she is almost a woman without a real place or purpose at court. It almost gives Marie Antoinette an excuse for all of her extravagance and bad behaviour – she was simply bored and without children to occupy her time and with a husband who never consulted her during his reign, she turned to fashion and gambling to pass the time. Ms. Grey always allowed the reader to experience Marie Antoinette’s emotions and her intrapersonal battles about her desire to have children, her desire for her husband’s love and affection, her guilt of loving another man and the torture of the people of France’s cruelty towards her.

Overall, it was a pretty good read – if only those parts that dragged were a little better! I would definitely recommend this book to people who love Marie Antoinette. Even though it is the second book in a trilogy, it is also a standalone novel, although I strongly recommend reading the first novel as well.  Can’t wait for the next novel!