Michele

Michele Recommends:

The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory

michele1FROM THE PUBLISHER
A young woman caught in the rivalry between Queen Mary and her half sister, Elizabeth, must find her true destiny amid treason, poisonous rivalries, loss of faith, and unrequited love. It is winter, 1553. Pursued by the Inquisition, Hannah Green, a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl, is forced to flee Spain with her father. But Hannah is no ordinary refugee. Her gift of "Sight," the ability to foresee the future, is priceless in the troubled times of the Tudor court. Hannah is adopted by the glamorous Robert Dudley, the charismatic son of King Edward's protector, who brings her to court as a "holy fool" for Queen Mary and, ultimately, Queen Elizabeth. Hired as a fool but working as a spy; promised in wedlock but in love with her master; endangered by the laws against heresy, treason, and witchcraft, Hannah must choose between the safe life of a commoner and the dangerous intrigues of the royal family that are inextricably bound up in her own yearnings and desires. Teeming with vibrant period detail and peopled by characters seamlessly woven into the sweeping tapestry of history, The Queen's Fool is another rich and emotionally resonant gem from this wonderful storyteller.

 

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

michele16FROM THE PUBLISHER
Three Women Who Share One Fate: The Boleyn Inheritance

Anne of Cleves
She runs from her tiny country, her hateful mother, and her abusive brother to a throne whose last three occupants are dead. King Henry VIII, her new husband, instantly dislikes her. Without friends, family, or even an understanding of the language being spoken around her, she must literally save her neck in a court ruled by a deadly game of politics and the terror of an unpredictable and vengeful king. Her Boleyn Inheritance: accusations and false witnesses.

Katherine Howard
She catches the king's eye within moments of arriving at court, setting in motion the dreadful machine of politics, intrigue, and treason that she does not understand. She only knows that she is beautiful, that men desire her, that she is young and in love -- but not with the diseased old man who made her queen, beds her night after night, and killed her cousin Anne. Her Boleyn Inheritance: the threat of the axe.

Jane Rochford
She is the Boleyn girl whose testimony sent her husband and sister-in-law to their deaths. She is the trusted friend of two threatened queens, the perfectly loyal spy for her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, and a canny survivor in the murderous court of a most dangerous king. Throughout Europe, her name is a byword for malice, jealousy, and twisted lust. Her Boleyn Inheritance: a fortune and a title, in exchange for her soul.
The Boleyn Inheritance is a novel drawn tight as a lute string about a court ruled by the gallows and three women whose positions brought them wealth, admiration, and power as well as deceit, betrayal, and terror. Once again, Philippa Gregory has brought a vanished world to life -- the whisper of a silk skirt on a stone stair, the yellow glow of candlelight illuminating a hastily written note, the murmurs of the crowd gathering on Tower Green below the newly built scaffold. In The Boleyn Inheritance Gregory is at her intelligent and page-turning best.

 

The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory

michele2FROM THE PUBLISHER
From the author of The Other Boleyn Girl and The Queen's Fool comes a stunning portrait of the first perilous years of Elizabeth I's reign. As a new queen, Elizabeth faces two great dangers: the French invasion of Scotland, which threatens to put Mary Queen of Scots on her throne, and her passion for the convicted traitor Robert Dudley. Bud Dudley is already married, and his devoted wife Amy will never give him up, least of all to an upstart Protestant Princess. She refuses to set her beloved husband free to marry the queen; but she cannot prevent him from becoming the favorite and the focus of the feverishly plotting, pleasure seeking court. Others too oppose the marriage, but for very different reasons. William Cecil, the queen's wisest counselor, knows she must marry for policy; her uncle hates Dudley and swears he will be murder him first. Behind the triangle of lovers, the factions take up their places: the Protestants, the priests, the assassins, the diplomats and the moneymakers. The very coin of England is shaved and clipped to nothing as Elizabeth uncertainly leads her bankrupt country into a war that no-one thinks can be won. Then someone acts in secret, and for Elizabeth, Dudley and the emerging kingdom, nothing will be as planned. Blending historical fact with contemporary rumor, Philippa Gregory has created a dark and tense novel of Tudor times, which casts Elizabeth I in a light no one has suggested before. Passionate, fearful, emotionally needy, this is a queen who will stop at nothing.

 

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

michele3FROM THE PUBLISHER
Two sisters competing for the greatest prize: the love of a king. When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family's ambitious plots as the king's interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king, and take her fate into her own hands. A rich and compelling tale of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue, The Other Boleyn Girl introduces a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamorous court in Europe and survived by following her own heart.

 

The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

michele4FROM THE PUBLISHER
I am Catalina, Princess of Spain, daughter of the two greatest monarchs the world has ever known...and I will be Queen of England." Thus, bestselling author Philippa Gregory introduces one of her most unforgettable heroines: Katherine of Aragon. Daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain, Katherine has been fated her whole life to marry Prince Arthur of England. When they meet and are married, the match becomes as passionate as it is politically expedient. The young lovers revel in each other's company and plan the England they will make together. But tragically, aged only fifteen, Arthur falls ill and extracts from his sixteen-year-old bride a deathbed promise to marry his brother, Henry; become Queen; and fulfill their dreams and her destiny. "They tell me nothing but lies here and they think they can break my spirit. I believe what I choose and say nothing. I am not as simple as I seem." Widowed and alone in the avaricious world of the Tudor court, Katherine has to sidestep her father-in-law's desire for her and convince him, and an incredulous Europe, that her marriage to Arthur was never consummated, that there is no obstacle to marriage with Henry. For seven years, she endures the treachery of spies, the humiliation of poverty, and intense loneliness and despair while she waits for the inevitable moment when she will step into the role she has prepared for all her life. Then, like her warrior mother, Katherine must take to the battlefield and save England when its old enemies the Scots come over the border and there is no one to stand against them but the new Queen."It was my dying husband's hope, my mother's wish, and God's will that I should be Queen of England; and for them and for the country, I will be Queen of England until I die." Raised on the battlefield and in the most beautiful Moorish palace in the world, sent to England alone at the age of sixteen to take her place in a court where she couldn't speak the language, and abandoned and forced to endure poverty after the death of her husband, Katherine remained a woman of indomitable spirit, unwavering faith, and extraordinary strength. Philippa Gregory brings to life one of history's most inspiring women and creates one of the most compelling characters in historical fiction.

 

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

michele5FROM THE PUBLISHER
One of the greatest mystery thrillers ever written, Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White was a phenomenal bestseller in the 1860s, achieving even greater success than works by Dickens, Collins’s friend and mentor. Full of surprise, intrigue, and suspense, this vastly entertaining novel continues to enthrall readers today. The story begins with an eerie midnight encounter between artist Walter Hartright and a ghostly woman dressed all in white who seems desperate to share a dark secret. The next day Hartright, engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie and her half sister, tells his pupils about the strange events of the previous evening. Determined to learn all they can about the mysterious woman in white, the three soon find themselves drawn into a chilling vortex of crime, poison, kidnapping, and international intrigue. Masterfully constructed, The Woman in White is dominated by two of the finest creations in all Victorian fiction—Marion Halcombe, dark, mannish, yet irresistibly fascinating, and Count Fosco, the sinister and flamboyant “Napoleon of Crime.”

 

Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

michele6FROM THE PUBLISHER
In 2002 Lynne Truss presented Cutting a Dash, a well-received BBC Radio 4 series about punctuation, which led to the writing of Eats, Shoots & Leaves. The book became a runaway success in the UK, hitting number one on the bestseller lists and prompting extraordinary headlines such as Grammar Book Tops Bestseller List (BBC News). With more than 500,000 copies of her book in print in her native England, Lynne Truss is ready to rally the troops on this side of the pond with her rousing cry, Sticklers unite! Through sloppy usage and low standards on the Internet, in e-mail, and now text messages, we have made proper punctuation an endangered species. In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, former editor Lynne Truss dares to say, in her delightfully urbane, witty and very English way, that it is time to look at our commas and semicolons and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are. If there are only pedants left who care, then so be it. This is a book for people who love punctuation and get upset when it is mishandled. From George Orwell shunning the semicolon, to New Yorker editor Harold Ross's epic arguments with James Thurber over commas, this lively history makes a powerful case for the preservation of a system of printing conventions that is much too subtle to be mucked about with.

 

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

michele7FROM THE PUBLISHER
I Capture the Castle tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries. Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle's walls, and her own first descent into love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has "captured the castle"--and the heart of the reader--in one of literature's most enchanting entertainments.

 

The Blue Castle by L.M.Montgomery

michele8FROM THE PUBLISHER
At twenty-nine Valancy had never been in love, and it seemed romance had passed her by. Living with her overbearing mother and meddlesome aunt, she found her only consolations in the "forbidden" books of John Foster and her daydreams of the Blue Castle. Then a letter arrived from Dr. Trent — and Valancy decided to throw caution to the winds. For the first time in her life Valancy did and said exactly what she wanted. Soon she discovered a surprising new world, full of love and adventures far beyond her most secret dreams.

 

Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

michele9FROM THE PUBLISHER
Murder, mystery, mistaken identity, madness, bigamy, adultery: These were the special ingredients that made the sensation novel so delectable to the Victorian palate. Readers who devoured Lady Audley's Secret were thrilled and frightened by its inversion of the ideal Victorian heroine. Lady Audley looks like the angel-in-the-house ideal of Victorian womanhood-she is blonde, fragile, and childlike-but her behavior is distinctly villainous. At a time when Victorian women were beginning to rebel against their limited roles as wives and mothers, novels such as Lady Audley's Secret spoke to their secret longings and fantasies.
Genteel women readers, slaving away as governesses in other people's families, could share the fantasy of poor Lucy, suddenly made a lady by her marriage to Sir Michael. Part detective story, part domestic drama, Lady Audley's Secret became a runaway bestseller of its era. Nearly a century and a half since it was first published, Lady Audley's Secret has lost none of its ability to disturb and captivate readers.

 

Bellwether by Connie Willis

michele11FROM THE PUBLISHER
Sandra Foster studies fads, from Barbie dolls to the grunge look - how they start and what they mean. Bennett O'Reilly is a chaos theory scientist studying monkeys' group behavior. They both work for the HiTek corporation, strangers until a misdelivered package brings them together. It's a moment of synchronicity - if not serendipity - and they find themselves in a chaotic system of their own, complete with misunderstandings, a million-dollar research grant, caffe latte, tattoos, bobbed hair, Browning, and a series of coincidences that leaves Bennett monkeyless, fundless, and nearly jobless. Sandra intercedes with a flock of sheep and an idea for a joint project. (After all, what better animal to illustrate both chaos theory and the herd mentality that so often characterizes human behavior?) But scientific discovery is rarely straightforward and never simple, and Sandra and Bennett have to endure a series of setbacks, heartbreaks, dead ends, and disasters before they find their answers....

 

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

michele10FROM THE PUBLISHER
For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman traveling alone. For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be received.
But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin — barely of age herself — finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history's darkest hours.
Five years in the writing by one of science fiction's most honored authors, Doomsday Book is a storytelling triumph. Connie Willis draws upon her understanding of the universalities of human nature to explore the ageless issues of evil, suffering and the indomitable will of the human spirit.

 

Fire Watch by Connie Willis

michele12FROM THE PUBLISHER
Winner of six Nebula and five Hugo awards, Connie Willis is one of the most acclaimed and imaginative authors of our time. Her startling and powerful works have redefined the boundaries of contemporary science fiction. Here in one volume are twelve of her greatest stories, including double award-winner "Fire Watch," set in the universe of Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, in which a time-traveling student learns one of history's hardest lessons. In "A Letter from the Clearys," a routine message from distant friends shatters the fragile world of a beleaguered family. In "The Sidon in the Mirror," a mutant with the unconscious urge to become other people finds himself becoming both killer and victim. Disturbing, revealing, and provocative, this remarkable collection of short fiction brings together some of the best work of an incomparable writer whose ability to amaze, confound, and enlighten never fails.

 

Passage by Connie Willis

michele13FROM THE PUBLISHER
A tunnel, a light, a door. And beyond it ... the unimaginable.
Dr. Joanna Lander is a psychologist specializing in near-death experiences. She is about to get help from a new doctor with the power to give her the chance to get as close to death as anyone can.
A brilliant young neurologist, Dr. Richard Wright has come up with a way to manufacture the near-death experience using a psychoactive drug. Joanna’s first NDE is as fascinating as she imagined — so astounding that she knows she must go back, if only to find out why that place is so hauntingly familiar.
But each time Joanna goes under, her sense of dread begins to grow, because part of her already knows why the experience is so familiar, and why she has every reason to be afraid.
Yet just when Joanna thinks she understands, she’s in for the biggest surprise of all — a shattering scenario that will keep you feverishly reading until the final climactic page.

 

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

michele15FROM THE PUBLISHER
Ned Henry is badly in need of a rest. He's been shuttling between the 21st century and the 1940s searching for a Victorian atrocity called the bishop's bird stump. It's part of a project to restore the famed Coventry Cathedral, destroyed in a Nazi air raid over a hundred years earlier. But then Verity Kindle, a fellow time traveler, inadvertently brings back something from the past. Now Ned must jump back to the Victorian era to help Verity put things right--not only to save the project but to prevent altering history itself.

 

Remake by Connie Willis

michele14FROM THE PUBLISHER
It's the Hollywood of the future, where moviemaking's been computerized and live-action films are a thing of the past. It's a Hollywood in which Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe are starring together in a remake of A Star Is Born, and if you don't like the ending, you can change it with the stroke of a key. A Hollywood of warm bodies and sim-sex, of drugs and special effects, where anything is possible. Except what Alis wants to do, which is dance in the movies. Tom offers to make her dream a reality: he'll digitize her face onto any actress's she likes - Ann Miller, Ruby Keeler, even Ginger Rogers. What Tom doesn't understand is that Alis doesn't want to look like she's dancing. She wants the real thing. And as Tom finds himself seduced by Alis's impossible dream, he begins to learn that even in a world of technological miracles, there are still some things that just can't be faked.