Monthly Planned Reads for March 2013

Friday, March 1, 2013
My planned reads for the third month of 2013:

Courtesy of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours:

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

An utterly captivating reinvention of the Rapunzel fairytale weaved together with the scandalous life of one of the tale's first tellers, Charlotte-Rose de la Force.

Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. She is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens...

Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death, sixty-four years later. Called La Strega Bella, Selena is at the centre of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition, retaining her youth and beauty by the blood of young red-haired girls.

After Margherita's father steals a handful of parsley, wintercress and rapunzel from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off unless he and his wife give away their little red-haired girl. And so, when she turns seven, Margherita is locked away in a tower, her hair woven together with the locks of all the girls before her, growing to womanhood under the shadow of La Strega Bella, and dreaming of being rescued...

Three women, three lives, three stories, braided together to create a compelling story of desire, obsession, black magic and the redemptive power of love.

Lady of Ashes (Untitled Trilogy #1 ) by Christine Trent

In 1861 London, Violet Morgan is struggling to establish a good reputation for the undertaking business that her husband has largely abandoned. She provides comfort for the grieving, advises them on funeral fashion and etiquette, and arranges funerals.

Unbeknownst to his wife, Graham, who has nursed a hatred of America since his grandfather soldiered for Great Britain in the War of 1812, becomes involved in a scheme to sell arms to the South. Meanwhile, Violet receives the commission of a lifetime: undertaking the funeral for a friend of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. But her position remains precarious, especially when Graham disappears and she begins investigating a series of deaths among the poor. And the closer she gets to the truth, the greater the danger for them both…

The Bruges Tapestry by P.A. Staes

Following a 500-year-old mystery concerning a Flemish tapestry is routine work for Detective Claire DeMaere, since she's employed by the Newport Beach Art Theft Detail. But, unlike past cases, this one involves arresting Paolo Campezzi, lover to her best friend Nora. Mr. Campezzi is a distant descendant of a Florentine Duke, who commissioned the tapestry in 1520 in Bruges, Belgium. Claire finds that she must explore the true provenance of the tapestry, free Mr. Campezzi in order to re-establish her friendship with Nora and depend on the expertise of a textile expert she doesn't know. All this must occur in 72 hours, before the Vatican takes the tapestry back. 

But Claire isn't the only one with the Vatican looking over her shoulder. Claire's story intertwines with a 1520 diary by Beatrice van Hecke, the tapestry-weaver's daughter. Only Claire can discover the secret that is woven in time.

Rocamora by Donald Michael Platt

Vicente de Rocamora, the epitome of a young renaissance man in 17th century Spain, questions the goals of the Inquisition and the brutal means used by King Philip IV and the Roman Church to achieve them. Spain vows to eliminate the heretical influences attributed to Jews, Moors, and others who would taint the limpieza de sangre, purity of Spanish blood. 

At the insistence of his family, the handsome and charismatic Vicente enters the Dominican Order and is soon thrust into the scheming political hierarchy that rules Spain. 

As confessor to the king's sister, the Infanta Doa Mara, and assistant to Philip's chief minister, Olivares, Vicente ascends through the ranks and before long finds himself poised to attain not only the ambitious dreams of the Rocamora family but alsoif named Spain's Inquisitor Generalto bring about an end to the atrocities committed in the name of the blood purity laws. 

The resourceful young man must survive assassination attempts from a growing list of ruthless foes in both Church and court, solve a centuries-old riddle to quell rumors of his own impurity of blood, and above all, suppress his love for the seemingly unattainable Doa Mara.

A Rip in the Veil (The Graham Saga #1) by Anna Belfrage

On a stifling August day in 2002, Alexandra Lind is thrown several centuries backwards in time. She lands at the feet of Matthew Graham - an escaped convict making his way home to Scotland in this the year of our Lord, 1658.

Matthew doesn't quite know what to make of this concussed and injured woman who has seemingly fallen from the skies. What is she, a witch?

Alex gawks at this tall, gaunt man with hazel eyes, dressed in what to her mostly looks like rags. At first she thinks he might be some sort of hermit, an oddball, but she quickly realises the odd one out is she.

Catapulted from a life of modern comfort, Alex grapples with this new existence, further complicated by the dawning realisation that someone from her time has followed her here - and not exactly to extend a helping hand.

Potential compensation for this brutal shift in fate comes in the shape of Matthew - a man she should never have met, not when she was born three centuries after him. He quickly proves himself a willing and most capable protector, but Matthew comes with baggage of his own, and on occasion it seems his past will see him killed. At times Alex finds it all exceedingly exciting, longing for the structured life she used to have.

How will she ever get back? And more importantly, does she want to?

Like Chaff in the Wind (The Graham Saga #2) by Anna Belfrage

Matthew Graham committed the mistake of his life when he cut off his brother's nose. In revenge, Luke Graham has Matthew abducted and transported to the colony of Virginia to be sold as indentured labour. Matthew arrives in Virginia in May 1661 and any hope he had of finding someone willing to listen to his story of unlawful abduction is quickly extinguished. If anything, Matthew's insistence that he is an innocent man leads him to being singled out for the heaviest tasks. Insufficient food, gruelling days and the humid heat combine to wear him down. With a sinking feeling, he realises no one has ever survived their seven years of service on the plantation Suffolk Rose. Fortunately for Matthew, he has a remarkable wife. Alex  Graham has no intention of letting her husband suffer and die. So she sets off from Scotland on a perilous journey to bring her husband home. Alex is plagued by nightmares in which Matthew is reduced to a wheezing wreck by his tormentors. Sailing to Virginia, she prays for a miracle to carry her swiftly to his side. 

But fate has other plans, and what should have been a two month crossing turns into a year long adventure - from one side of the Atlantic to the other. Will Alex find Matthew in time? Will she be able to pay the price of setting him free? Like Chaff in the Wind continues on from The Rip in the Veil, taking Alex and Matthew's love story to a new continent.


The Scrivener's Tale by Fiona McIntosh

 In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant… until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe’s life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

Soon, Gabe’s world will be turned upside down, and he will learn shocking truths about who he is . . . and who he can - or cannot - trust.

A fantastic, action-packed adventure starting in Paris and returning to Morgravia - this wonderful epic adventure grabs the reader from the first paragraph and doesn't let go.

India Black and the Shadows of Anarchy (India Black #3) by Carol K. Carr

In Victorian London, India Black has all the attributes a high-class madam needs to run a successful brothel--wit, beauty, and an ability to lie with a smile. Luckily for Her Majesty's Government, all these talents also make her a first-rate spy...

India Black, full-time madam and occasional secret agent, is feeling restless, when one of Disraeli's men calls on her to meet the prime minister--alone. Even though all her previous meetings have been organized by the rakishly handsome spy French, it's been decided this is a mission India must attempt on her own.

Revolt has spread across Europe and reached the shores of England--anarchists have begun assassinating lords and earls, one by one. Now India must infiltrate the ranks of the underground group responsible for those attacks, the sinister Dark Legion. To stop their dread plot, India will go from the murkiest slums of London to the highest levels of society, uncovering secrets that threaten her very existence...

The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman

In this compelling debut novel, an art authenticator and an art historian are employed by a famous, reclusive painter to sell a never-before-seen portrait, leading them to discover devastating secrets two sisters have kept from each other, and from the artist who determined the course of their lives.Forty-four years after Alice and Natalie Kessler first met the brilliant young painter, Thomas Bayber, Bayber unveils a never-before-seen work, Kessler Sisters—a provocative painting depicting the young Thomas, Alice, and Natalie. Bayber asks Dennis Finch, an art history professor, and Stephen Jameson, an eccentric young art authenticator, to sell the painting. But their task becomes more complicated when the artist requires that they first locate Alice and Natalie, who seem to have disappeared.

Told in alternating chapters that weave revelations about the sisters’ past with clues Finch and Jameson discover in the present, this story sets three characters on a collision course with their histories, showing how families tear themselves apart and then try to bind themselves together again, not always creating the same fabric.

Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1) by Richelle Mead

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block

Seventeen-year-old Penelope (Pen) has lost everything—her home, her parents, and her ten-year-old brother. Like a female Odysseus in search of home, she navigates a dark world full of strange creatures, gathers companions and loses them, finds love and loses it, and faces her mortal enemy.

In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated.

Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox

Sixteen-year-old Canny Mochrie's parents go away on a vacation, so they send her off on a trip of her own with her step-brother Sholto and his opinionated girlfriend Susan, who are interviewing the survivors of a strange coal mine disaster and researching local folklore in 1959 Southland, New Zealand. Canny is left to herself to wander in a mysterious and enchanting nearby valley, occupied almost entirely by children who all have the last name Zarene and can perform a special type of magic that tells things how to be stronger and better than they already are. With the help of a seventeen-year-old boy who is held hostage in a hidden away house by a spell that is now more powerful than the people who first placed it, Canny figures out why she, too, can use this special magic that only Zarenes should know, and where she really came from.

Printz Honor author Elizabeth Knox has created another stunning world world of intrigue in Mortal Fire.

Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can't outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling's game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

I am so so excited for all of these, but especially Siege and Storm, Gameboard of the Gods, Bitter Greens, Mortal Fire, Lady of Ashes, and India Black and the Shadows of Anarchy.

And I have to note that some these covers are outstanding - in particular, I am in love with Love in the Time of Global Warming. So gorgeous. March looks like it is going to be a fun reading month!

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