June 13th, 2009


Title: When Christ and His Saints Slept
Author: Sharon Kay Penman
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 746
Rating: 7/10

This is the true story of Maude, daughter of King Henry I who is forced into marriage with Geoffrey of Anjou. After losing his sons in the sinking of the White Ship, Henry I chooses to do the unthinkable: name Maude, a woman, as his heir. When he dies, Maude's cousin Stephen snatches races to London and only 3 weeks late is he crowned King. This is the story of Maude's fight for her rightful claim to the crown, and for her son, Henry.

This book stands on it's own but it is part of a triology about the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. We see her later on the this book, along with Henry.

Penman, I think, is probably the best writer of historical stories where it is known to be very complicated politically. About two thirds of this book is Maude and Stephen's war, which I didn't find always intriguing, but it was never confusing. While getting through this first part of the book I was wishing it was shorter. The last part, where we see more of Henry and Eleanor, it gets really, really exciting. It definitely makes you want to pick up the next book and find out more about their relationship.

As always, Penman is spot on with her historical detail. You can't go wrong with her when you want accuracy. I would have given this book an 8 but for the really really long campaigne storyline.

A Random Assortment of Book News & Links

Wanna buy a bookstore? Borders UK is looking to unload its 51 stores.

Once a Terminator, always a Terminator. According to PW and The Times Online, Arnold Schwartzenegger Plans to Replace California School Textbooks with E-Books.

1940's plagiarism of a 1920's book results in 1984 making headlines in 2009. Or: George Orwell pinched the plot of 1984 from an old novel hardly anyone's ever heard of. At this point in time, does it even matter?

USA Today plans to charge for a daily, digital version of their motel freebie. The for-a-fee version will be delivered via email to suckers willing to pay for the same content they could get for free on the paper's website.

Care to capitalize on a book buying audience currently being ignored by both Oprah and NPR? Bookride.com has found that fascists of all flavors are willing to pay top dollar for racist, sexist and xenophobic works of the 19th century.

It's Marley & Me meets Pet Cemetery -- at least that's how I'd sum up Thursday's news that Marley & Me author John Grogan plans to resurrect his dead dog for 13 HarperCollins children's books. I mean, whatever happened to 'Rest In Peace'?

In the gimmicky tradition of the heavily-hyped, instantly forgotten First Book Written on a Cell Phone, comes The First Book Written on Facebook. What's more, it's about Facebook! Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzzzzzzzzz. (Someone wake me when The First Book is Tweeted on Twitter.)

Cuz I'm in a one-man competition to make the most Where The Wild Things Are related posts in a six month span, allow me to direct you to a new site called Terrible Yellow Eyes. It's an online tribute to Maurice Sendak's masterpiece, where fans of the book are encouraged to send in their own artistic interpretations of Max and the monsters.

#52 Graceling by Kristin Cashore

In Kasta’s worlds, Graces are people blessed with incredible skills. Someone blessed with a cooking Grace may be born with the abilities of a master chef, or someone with a swimming Grace will swim as quickly as a fish. Kasta’s Grace is something more dangerous. She is an incredibly efficient killer. As a result, her uncle the King sends her all over his country to do his dirty work. Kasta feels that she is nothing more than a brute, and feels trapped her in current lifestyle. That is, until she meets Po, a young man Graced with fighting skills who makes her realize that she has more control over her life than she believes. Will Kasta be able to break free of her Uncle’s control?

Graceling is the type of book that reminds me why I love fantasy so much. Tough Kasta is an incredibly sympathetic protagonist. I enjoyed the fact that she was so self sufficient, and didn’t have to constantly depend on others to get her out of trouble. I liked how we got to see her grow from a gruff killer to a more complex character. The secondary characters, such as Po, are equally interesting and complex. The storyline is very action packed, filled with plenty of fight scenes, but also possesses surprising depth and feminist themes. The issue of free will is very important here, as Kasta struggles to gain her own freedom from under her uncle, and from a second king with disturbing gifts. Kasta’s rejection of traditional woman’s roles (she does not wish to get married and have children- although she doesn’t reject the idea of romance), reminds me a bit of how Alanna started out in Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet, which is one of my favorite series.

I would recommend Graceling for people looking for well paced YA fantasy read with interesting characters, a strong story, and a little romance. A companion book, called Fire, will be coming out in October. Fire is not a direct sequel to Graceling. Apparently it’s more of a prequel with a completely new cast of characters, except for one. In a way, this makes Graceling something quite rare, a stand alone fantasy novel.

Rating: five stars
Length: 471 pages
Source: Lewiston Public Library
TBR Pile: 144 books
Similar Books: The Song of the Lioness Quarter and the Beka Cooper Series, both by Tamora Pierce. Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword. Sherwood Smith’s Crown Duel
Other books I've read by this author: None. This is currently Kristin Cashore’s only published novel

xposted to bookish  and temporaryworlds 

The thirteenth tale by Diane Setterfield

Title: The Thirtheenth Tale
By: Diane Setterfield
Rating: A+(+)
Summary: There are two heroines here: Vida Winter, a famous author, whose life story is coming to an end, and Margaret Lea, a young, unworldly, bookish girl who is a bookseller in her father's shop. Vida has been confounding her biographers and fans for years by giving everybody a different version of her life, each time swearing it's the truth. Because of a biography that Margaret has written about brothers, Vida chooses Margaret to tell her story, all of it, for the first time. At their initial meeting, the conversation begins:


"You have given nineteen different versions of your life story to journalists in the last two years alone."


She [Vida] shrugged. "It's my profession. I'm a storyteller."


"I am a biographer, I work with facts."  (Summary thanks to amazon.) 

My Review:  I am seriously sleep deprived thanks to this book, bare that in mind if you see any mistakes.
  This tale is an undertow; it will draw you in and there no escapeing it, not that you will mind. This book is filled with twist and turns, lie and too many secrets( you'll wonder how they keep them all straight). And let me tell you a secret thing book is so much more than the story of two writers. And Heck if you don't like their story there five or six other you can choice from.

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