threesisters Three Sisters, Three Queens is Philippa Gregory’s latest book about the Tudor Court.  This time, we get the perspective of Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York and sister of King Henry VIII.  Margaret, the Tudor Princess, would become the Queen of Scotland, married to King James IV of Scotland and mother to King James V of Scotland.  Even though the title suggests that the book is about three women, the primary focus is on Queen Margaret.  However, the other two women, the Queen of England and the Queen of France, have an impact on Margaret’s life.

The novel begins with Margaret as a young woman, a girl really. Her older brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales is to be married to Katherine of Aragon. Their marriage would form an alliance between the Spanish court and England.  Katherine of Aragon makes her arrival, marries Prince Arthur and they move to Wales.  Margaret misses her older brother, but looks forward to her own marriage. Her father, King Henry VII is working on a marriage between her and Scotland’s King James IV.  But then, the London court gets the terrible news that Prince Arthur has died.  Princess Katherine returns to court as the Dowager Princess.  Her parents have failed to pay the dowry money to England.  And King Henry VII refuses to pay her dowager money until the dowry has been paid.  Katherine literally is a poor princess and has to pawn off her belongings in order to eat, even though she lives at court.  Princess Margaret, having been jealous of Princess Katherine’s finery when she came to court, delights in seeing her brought down a peg.  She believes, along with her grandmother Margaret Beaufort, Lady Mother of the King, that Katherine is too arrogant and needs to learn humility.  In fact, Margaret calls her, Katherine of Arrogant to herself. At this time, Margaret is told that she will marry King James IV.  Their betrothal makes her a queen and she is one step lower than her Lady Mother, the Queen of England.

Margaret makes the long journey to her new home in Scotland and marries King James IV.  Their marriage is fairly happy.  Their first children die while they are babies and King James wonders about the Tudor curse.  Queen Margaret has a son James (who becomes King James V).  Katherine of Aragon marries Margaret’s brother, King Henry VIII.  While England and Scotland have a Treaty of Perpetual Peace, Henry continues to ally himself with France, an enemy of Scotland.  While Henry is off in France, King James invades England.  During the Battle of Flodden, King James was killed.  Queen Katherine had ordered the English army to take no prisoners.  The army took James’ body to London and Katherine sent his bloody coat to Henry in France.  Of course, Queen Margaret was angry and heartbroken to have her husband be treated this way and by her own sister-in-law.

You may be wondering about the third sister and third queen.  Margaret and Henry had a younger sister named Mary.  Mary had been betrothed to the Holy Roman Emperor’s grandson but that was called off. Instead, Princess Mary was joined in marriage to King Louis XII of France.  Their marriage did not last long due to the King’s age and health.  After he died, Mary went  ahead and married Charles Brandon, a friend of her brother Henry whom  had recently been made a Duke by King Henry.  The pair married in secret in France, without Henry’s blessing which they were punished for.  Even so, Charles and Mary were welcomed at the Tudor Court.

Margaret continues to struggle. She is the Dowager Queen of Scotland but she has no authority.  She is even kept away from the young king James.  Her husband named her regent until their child was old enough to rule but the Scottish Council disregards this.  Instead, a French Duke (who is a cousin of the deceased king) is named regent.  Margaret marries the Earl of Angus for love in secret.  The Council is very unhappy about this.  Rumors circulate that Archibald, the Earl of Angus, is already married to another woman.  Of course, Margaret feels betrayed by her husband.  Her brother, Henry VIII will do nothing to help her.  Her sister-in-law, Queen Katherine, tells her to stay with her husband.  But Katherine needs Margaret to stay married to Archibald.  If Margaret would be granted a divorce from the Vatican, then that would clear the way for Henry VIII to divorce Katherine of Aragon.  And Henry has been having affairs with other women and producing male children.  Katherine has not given Henry an heir.  The royal English marriage is in danger of dissolving.

Mary, the youngest of the original Tudor children still reports to Margaret.  Her letters had been happy ones, relaying to Margaret what had been happening at the English Court.  However, as time passes, her letters are filled with sorrow.  Mary is dismayed to see how her older brother, the King of England, is treating her sister-in-law, Katherine.  Mary has to witness Katherine’s sorrow as her husband sleeps with other women.  Katherine prays constantly and remains a dutiful wife.  Mary can do nothing to interfere as Henry VIII sets aside his wife, claiming that Katherine was not legally his wife, but the wife of his older brother, Arthur.  He claims that Katherine is the Dowager Princess of Wales and is now his “sister”.  The last letter Margaret receives from Mary is grim.  The woman, Anne Boleyn, is now married to their brother and will be crowned the Queen of England.

Three Queens, Three Sisters is available in print, large print and audiobook.

 

 

 

lady-cop-makes-troubleLady Cop Makes Trouble is Amy Stewart’s sequel to Girl Waits With Gun. You can read more about Girl Waits With Gun here.

Constance Kopp now works for the Sheriff department in Bergen County, New Jersey.  She has the same duties as any other deputy working for the Sheriff, including arresting criminals. Constance even goes with Sheriff Heath to arrest a man. But her life soon changes. One of the inmates at the jail is sick and has been sent to the hospital.  The doctors at the hospital are not sure what is wrong with the prisoner and to complicate matters, he only speaks German.  Constance is the only person at the Sheriff’s office that speaks German, so she accompanies Sheriff Heath to the hospital. However, their trip to the hospital will not be as easy as they thought it would be. When they arrive to the hospital, the scene is chaos. A train derailed and there are lot of injured people to deal with. The hospital staff is rushing around trying to help the wounded. Sheriff Heath and the other deputies help the staff with the patients. Constance goes to visit the inmate alone and during their visit, the lights go out.  The hospital is pitch black.  And in all of the confusion, the prisoner escapes the hospital.

Constance is devastated and she wants to make things right.  She wants to go after the fugitive.  Also, Constance knows that no woman will be hired to work for any police force if the story is printed in the newspapers.  However, Sheriff Heath assigns Constance to watch the female inmates at the jail.  He does not want Constance involved in the manhunt.  And, he does not want Constance’s name in the papers for allowing the inmate to escape. The rest of the deputies in the department look for the fugitive.  Most of their time is spent watching train stations and the inmate’s brother’s apartment.

But Constance will not just stand by.  She wants to correct the mistake that she made and find the missing prisoner.  So Constance goes off on her own to find him.  Her search takes her to New York City where she chases down clues and conducts interviews.  Constance is not only hunting down a fugitive, but she is racing Sheriff Heath and his deputies.  Can she find the missing inmate before the Sheriff’s department?

Lady Cop Makes Trouble is available in print and audiobook.

 

mean-streakMean Streak by Sandra Brown is a stomach-clenching story of survival in the mountains of North Carolina. Dr. Emory Charbonneau is a pediatrician and a marathon runner competitively training for her latest marathon. She decides to go away for the weekend to run a mountain trail in North Carolina. Leaving her husband, Jeff, after a bad argument, she takes off and spends the night in a tiny town to begin her run early the next morning. Running the trail by herself, Emory goes missing, leaving no trace behind except for her car abandoned in the trailhead parking lot.

By the time Jeff reports her missing, a  snowstorm has blown into the area, leaving fog and ice everywhere, halting any search for Emory, and destroying any clues about her whereabouts. Local police suspect Jeff of an ‘instant divorce’ and dive deep into his life, looking for anything that would lead him to want to get rid of his wife.

While suspicion is cast on Jeff, Emory regains consciousness from an unexplained head injury, finds herself in a mysterious cabin, and being held captive by a man who will not even tell Emory his name. She is willing to do anything to escape him, but the snowstorm raging outside force her to stay. Emory and this mystery man soon find themselves swept into a dangerous encounter with some people who have their own way of handling things. Emory soon finds herself forced to confront her own morals and sense of justice.

While local police and the FBI narrow in on her husband’s deception and the identity of her captor, Emory finds herself wondering about the true motives of her captor. Her initial fear falls away, leading her to think about his past and what could have been so violent that would have necessitated a complete move off the grid. This novel weaves together multiple storylines from many different perspectives, allowing readers to glimpse some motives without fully being able to put the whole story together. Mean Streak is ripe with tales of deceit, love, and survival that grabbed my attention and had me deeply invested in the lives of each character.


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David Baldacci — No Man’s Land
Special Agent John Puller, combat veteran and the army’s most tenacious investigator, is back in this action-packed thriller from worldwide #1 bestselling author David Baldacci.<br> NO MAN’S LAND Two men. Thirty years. John Puller’s mother, Jackie, vanished thirty years ago from Fort Monroe, Virginia, when Puller was just a boy. Paul Rogers has been in prison for ten years. But twenty years before that, he was at Fort Monroe. One night three decades ago, Puller’s and Rogers’ worlds collided with devastating results, and the truth has been buried ever since.
Lee Child — Night School

Discover the thriller series that The New York Times calls utterly addictive. After eleven straight global #1 bestsellers, Lee Child sends readers back to school with the most explosive Jack Reacher novel yet.

Clive Cussler — Odessa Sea

Over the years, Dirk Pitt has always had a knack for finding trouble. This time, it has found him. <br> The extraordinary new novel from the grand master of adventure and #1 New York Times -bestselling author.

 
Janet Evanovich — Turbo Twenty-Three

Speed is the name of the game as Stephanie Plum returns in “Turbo Twenty-Three” the thrilling, fast-paced new adventure from #1 “New York Times “bestselling author Janet Evanovich.”
Danielle Steel — The Award

Capturing historical events, terrifying moments of danger, tragedy, the price of war, and the invincible spirit of a woman of honor, The Award is a monumental tale from one of our most gifted storytellers Danielle Steel s finest, most emotionally resonant novel yet.

John Grisham — The Whistler

From John Grisham, America s #1 bestselling author, comes the most electrifying novel of the year, a high-stakes thrill ride through the darkest corners of the Sunshine State. We expect our judges to be honest and wise.Their integrity and impartiality are the bedrock of the entire judicial system. We trust them to ensure fair trials, to protect the rights of all litigants, to punish those who do wrong, and to oversee the orderly and efficient flow of justice.But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe?It s rare, but it happens.
Laurell K. Hamilton — Crimson Death

In her twenty-fifth adventure, vampire hunter and necromancer Anita Blake learns that evil is in the eye of the beholder… Anita has never seen Damian, her vampire servant, in such a state. The rising sun doesn’t usher in the peaceful death that he desperately needs. Instead, he s being bombarded with violent nightmares and blood sweats. And now, with Damian at his most vulnerable, Anita needs him the most.

 

 

Debbie Macomber — Twelve Days of Christmas

Continuing in a festive annual tradition, #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber returns with a new original holiday novel full of romance and cheer and the magical prospect of finding love in the most unexpected places.  Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that s the last straw. She s going to break through Cain s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.

 

 

 

Jodi Picoult — Small Great Things

With richly layered characters and a gripping moral dilemma that will lead readers to question everything they know about privilege, power, and race, Small Great Things is the stunning new page-turner from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult. Picoult offers a thought-provoking examination of racism in America today, both overt and subtle. Her many readers will find much to discuss in the pages of this topical, moving book.

 

John Sandford — Escape Clause

Whenever you hear the sky rumble, that usually means a storm. In Virgil Flowers case, make that two.  The first storm comes from, of all places, the Minnesota zoo. Two large, and very rare, Amur tigers have vanished from their cage, and authorities are worried sick that they ve been stolen for their body parts. Traditional Chinese medicine prizes those parts for home remedies, and people will do extreme things to get what they need. Some of them are a great deal more extreme than others — as Virgil is about to find out.

 

 

Nicholas Sparks — Two by Two

#1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with an emotionally powerful story of unconditional love, its challenges, its risks and most of all, its rewards.

 

 

Randy Wayne White — Seduced

Hannah Smith returns in the stunning new adventure in the “New York Times” bestselling series by the author of the Doc Ford novels.

 

 

Stuart Woods — Sex, Lies, and Serious Money

Stone Barrington takes on a client who gives him a run for his money in the newest heart-stopping thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author. <br> <br> Fresh off the runway at Teterboro, Stone Barrington arrives home to find an unexpected new client on his doorstep, anxiously soliciting his help. But everything is not as it seems, when the client reveals the true nature and value of his recent turn of fortune. <br>From luxury New York high-rises to the sprawling New Mexico desert, his client is pursued from all angles . . . and Stone quickly learns that easy money isn t always so easy.

yes pleaseYes Please by Amy Poehler is a hilarious biography full of anecdotes from Poehler’s time on “Parks and Recreation” and “Saturday Night Live”, as well as stories from her everyday life from both before she became a big star and after she gained fame. If you’ve seen Poehler in anything, then you know that her comedy comes fierce and fast, sometimes catching you off guard in regards to topic and delivery. This book is no different.

I chose to listen to this biography through OverDrive and was not disappointed. Poehler narrates this book, along with several other big name actors and, of course, her parents, popping in for cameos. (Looking for another funny woman biography narrated by the author? Check out Tina Fey’s Bossypants, available as a CD audiobook and an OverDrive eaudiobook.) Each person she has helping her narrate adds another level of humanity and unbridled hilarity to Poehler’s life growing up and her changing career in comedy as she worked to get to where she is today.

Poehler pulls no punches in this biography, talking about subjects ranging from growing up in the 70s, tips on how to deal with being nominated for an award, odes to different coworkers, sex, love, babies, divorce, family, parenthood, and her hilarious relationship with Tina Fey. This humorous book gives readers an all-access pass into Poehler’s life, allowing us to catch a glimpse into the crazy world of Saturday Night Live, letting us see how difficult it is to become a successful comedian, and just how crazy life is.

Poehler travels back to the 1990s, when she was in her 20s, working at ImprovOlympic in Chicago and then with the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York. She talks about her previous jobs and her struggle to make it. I highly recommend you listen to the audiobook because you get access to bonus material, as well as extra insight into her life from her many famous friends who make cameos. Choosing to do this book as an audiobook really lets Poehler’s creative talent shine as she weaves together both stories of success and failure to deliver her thoughts on anything and everything. Let us know what you think!


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vinegar girlVinegar Girl by Anne Tyler is a modern retelling of the classic Shakespeare play, The Taming of the Shrew. Initially I picked this book to listen to through OverDrive for two reasons: the cover looked interesting and it was available for checkout. I’m glad I checked this out. This was very quick to listen to, the characters are all excellently developed, and the narrator hooked me in.

In this retelling, Kate Battista lives with her father, Dr. Louis Battista, and her younger teenage sister, Bunny. Kate works as a nursery school assistant, takes care of the family house, and has watched her younger sister ever since their mother’s early death. Dr. Battista, a research scientist studying autoimmune disorders, is eccentric to sat the least. His compulsiveness shines through in his work and the way he wants Kate to run the house. Everyone’s laundry is done on a different day of the week, Bunny has to follow her father’s behavior rules 100%, and meal prep is down to a specific science. Kate follows her father’s computer-generated grocery list and makes the family’s “meat mash” at the beginning of the week, a less-than-appetizing-sounding food concoction that contains all necessary nutrients that they then eat for the rest of the week.

Dr. Battista has gone through a number of different lab assistants, the current one, Pyotr Shcherbakov, being his favorite. Pyotr is apparently a star scientist from Russia that Dr. Battista, who is equally famous in Russia, was lucky to get. Unfortunately for everyone, Pyotr’s three-year work visa is about to expire, meaning he will be deported back to Russia unless he marries an American girl. Dr. Battista has the perfect girl in mind for Pyotr: his oldest daughter, Kate, who has never turned down any of his crazy schemes before. This retelling of Shakespeare’s classic veers from the powerful emotions in the original, but is a delightful and positive retelling that leaves readers wondering what will happen between Kate, Pyotr, and her father? Will his research be successful? Will Kate and Pyotr get married? Will the meat mash ever change? Tyler’s quirkiness adds a new level to this classic Shakespeare, something that will have readers clamoring for more.


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There are many other clever adaptations of The Taming of the Shrew, some of them you may not realize. Check out this list of my favorite adaptations (and call the library for more suggestions!).
mclintockkiss me kate10 things i hate about you

 

 

 

 

 

 

CD_FirstLadies_1024x1024The history and stories of the Presidents of the United States of America and their First Ladies fascinate many Americans.  When we discuss their history, our personal politics seem to melt away as we are drawn in by the struggles and turmoil that each of these individuals faced during their time at The White House. As ordinary citizens of this country, we cannot fathom what it is like to live in a political fishbowl where every word and gesture can be misconstrued.  Throughout our nation’s history, the press has closely followed the President.  Some of the First Ladies have been treated worse by the press than their male counterparts.  There was a time when the press did not follow any ethical guidelines and many times, stories about the President and the First Lady were fabricated.  While this appalling, it is evidence that Americans have always been interested in the First Family.

Over the years, NPR has had several guests speak about the First Ladies of the United States of America on their radio programs.  Included in this list are historians, authors, actors and the First Ladies themselves.  In this CD compilation, NPR has included stories from our first First Lady, Martha Washington until our present First Lady, Michelle Obama.  For many of the latest First Ladies, listeners can hear interviews with the women themselves and hear the First Ladies discuss issues and voice their own opinions.  NPR also included voice recordings of former First Ladies which is quite fascinating.  I expected Eleanor Roosevelt’s voice to be lower and more authoritative so I was quite surprised to hear her speak in her very proper ladylike manner.  Jacqueline Kennedy can be heard talking to Arthur Schlesinger four months after her husband was killed. It was also quite entertaining to hear Lady Bird Johnson give LBJ notes on how he should speak to reporters. LBJ defensively tells her, “they get mad at you if you waste their time”.

Many of the Founding Mothers are discussed at length as well. Abigail and John Adams have over 1200 letters on file so a lot is known about her. Many years of their marriage was spent living apart which must have been a hardship for Abigail. There are only three letters that survive between the Washingtons. George ordered Martha to burn their letters after he died in order to keep their private lives private. What few people realize is that Martha lived in the military camps with George. She was a favorite among the soldiers. Sally Field discusses playing Mary Todd Lincoln. Field read all the letters that the Lincolns wrote to one another in order to help her prepare for the role.  An interesting note about The White House when Lincoln took office is that there were literally livestock on the first floor.  Mary believed that The White House was something that Americans should be proud of so she spent money making the place look better.  Of course, the press criticized her for this because she spent too much money.

A fun part of this recording is the discussion on the former First Ladies’ ball gowns. At the time of the recording, there was a display at the Smithsonian Museum featuring the First Ladies’ gowns. Most of the gowns that were described were the dresses for the Inaugural Bowl. The gowns reflect the fashion of the time and the economics of the time. The third time that Franklin Roosevelt was elected, they canceled the ball due to the Great Depression. Women in the crowd at the Smithsonian talk about which gowns they would and would not wear and little girls giggle at the poofy sleeves.

First Ladies is a fun way to learn about the First Ladies of the United States and is appropriate for the whole family!

Wildflower-450Actress Drew Barrymore is anything but conventional.  So it comes to no surprise that her book is unconventional as well. Instead of writing a memoir, Drew wrote a book of stories of her life; stories that she wanted to revisit and share with the world.  And her stories are not placed in chronological order.  One story will be about being a mother, the next one she talks about her time on the set of E.T.  As Ms. Barrymore writes herself in the preface, “This is a book you can dip into and read when you want”.  And it truly is.  You could put Wildflower down and not read it for awhile, but come across it again and be delighted with the stories.  Or, you could binge read Wildflower and learn more about Drew Barrymore.  The choice is really up to you.  Either way, this biography truly is a book of stories that are very fun to read.

I chose to listen to Wildflower on a recent roadtrip.  Drew narrates the book herself and I loved listening to her read.  My favorite part may have been when she was describing her childhood after filming E.T.  Her mother decided to move to “the Valley” and Drew blames her mother for giving her the “Valley Girl” voice that she cannot seem to get rid of.  This happens early in the book, so for the rest of the duration of the audiobook, I would catch myself laughing at her “Valley Girl” voice when she said certain phrases.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Drew Barrymore read (and sometimes scream and sometimes laugh) her own book.

Drew Barrymore has certainly led an interesting life.  She started acting when she was a toddler and describes going on auditions as a child and meeting Steven Spielberg.  Drew talks about legally separating herself from her mother when she was a teenager.  She discusses being a Barrymore and her relationship with her father.  She talks about travelling as a teenager.  Drew discusses producing and starring in movies.  And she discusses being a mother. Perhaps the sweetest story in the book is towards the end.  Drew discusses meeting her husband’s parents, Arie and Coco and how she hit the “In-Law Jackpot”.  She has such a good relationship with her in-laws that she asked Arie to walk her down the aisle and for Coco to walk in with her husband. It is quite clear that the theme of the book Wildflower is Drew Barrymore’s relationships with other people; her family, her friends, her co-stars, and the people that have touched her life.

keep-quietKeep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline is a gut-wrenching book that begins by introducing Jake Whitmore, his son Ryan, and Jake’s wife, Pam. Tensions seem to be running high in the Whitmore family, stemming from Jake’s loss of job a year ago. The family bore the brunt of his frustration and as a result, Ryan distanced himself from his father and became closer with his mother. Jake and Pam went into therapy to rebuild their relationship. Their current focus is on bringing Ryan and Jake closer together.

Jake is sent to pick up Ryan from the movies when they get into a car accident. This accident threatens the stability of their family and the tenuous relationships that hold them all together. Ryan’s future is on the line and in a split-second, Jake makes a decision that saves his son from a disastrous future. While at the time this seems like the best decision, it instead sends them both down a dark spiral of secrets, lies, and immense guilt. Jake thinks he has everything under control, but someone emerges from the woodwork with the power to destroy his carefully laid plans and expose Jake and Ryan’s dark secret. That life changing accident holds the power to destroy all their lives and Jake is struggling to hold the family together. This book is an intensely powerful guilt-laden journey into the lives of a family who are trying to redeem themselves while their whole world is unraveling around them.


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