Review: The Irish Princess by Karen Harper

YEAH!!! I finished another book off of my summer reading list.  I feel like I am really slow going on this list. The book I just finished is The Irish Princess by Karen Harper.  Ms. Harper is well-known for writing historical fiction and this book is included in this genre.

We meet Gera, our heroine, first as she is sneaking into King Henry VIII’s bedchamber.  With murder in her eyes and a dagger in her hand she is intent on revenge for the damage the king has caused to her family.  Just as she is about to plunge the dagger into the King he turns and whispers to her.  We are then spirited back to Ireland where Gera grew up.  She is part of what would have been royalty if Ireland had royalty.  At this time in history, Ireland was not an independent nation, but a part of the English crown.  Ireland was not considered part of the empire yet, but was still overseen by English governors.  Gera was part of one of the remaining Irish families that were still allowed to rule with the approval of the King.  This peaceful coexistence was short-lived for Gera.  When Gera was only 11 her father is imprisoned in the Tower of London with claims that he was trying to start a rebellion in Ireland.  Not long after being imprisoned her father dies.  This spurs her half-brother, now the Earl of Kildare,  into declaring rebellion against King Henry VIII.  When this happens Gera and her brother, the heir, are the only Fitzgeralds left at their home in Mayhoon.  When the rebellion begins Gera stays and Gerald is sent away to the continent so that he will be safe.

The rebellion is shortly quelled and Gera’s uncles and half-brother go into hiding.  After a few months of hiding the five uncles are tricked into a meeting to discuss terms of peace.  They are shackled and taken to the Tower of London.  This trap was planned by Gera’s English uncle, now the governor of Ireland.  Gera is now sent to England to live with her mother and her siblings.  On her trip over she meets Edward Clinton.  This clandestine first meeting will continue to appear throughout the book.  Her random encounters spur on the love story between them.  All the while, the court politics of King Henry VIII play a central role to both the story and Gera’s plans for revenge.  Though Gera has a lot of tragedy in her life primarily caused by the Tudor family she also has some unexpected happiness while in England .  This is one story that you just want to learn more about.

Karen Harper does a phenomenal job on this book.  Her detailed illustration of the court intrigues and the political gauntlets that are thrown down during this time is extraordinary.  Taking a fairly well-known subject of Tudor London and highlighting a little known character with an incredible backstory that is heartbreaking.  Gera’s life leads her from her beloved Ireland to Whitehall Palace where the English court is held.  I personally wish I had met the real Gera.  I think she would have been a loyal and exciting friend to have. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in a good historical fiction that highlights many smaller characters in a part of history that was so large.

For more information on The Irish Princess by Karen Harper you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other book retailer.

Feet in the Sand and a Good Book in Hand (My Top 10 Summer Reads)

Since it is coming up on vacationing season I figured I would lay out my top 10 books I want to read while on vacation or just throughout the summer.   For me it’s probably more likely hanging out by the baby pool, but either way I have some reading to do.

I have chosen a wide variety from Non-fiction to Young Adult.  When I was coming up with my list I actually felt like it was a bit daunting especially when I have plans to do some re-reading. But, that is another post entirely.  I hope you enjoy my choices.  It wasn’t easy to narrow my long list down to just 10 but I think these are a good variety to keep me entertained while trying to avoid getting splashed.

10.  The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff-At thirty-five, Gabriella “Ella” Graham is a successful portrait artist in London. She captures the essential truth in each of her subjects’ faces—a tilt of the chin, a glint in the eye—and immortalizes it on canvas. But closer to home, Ella finds the truth more elusive. Her father abandoned the family when she was five, and her mother has remained silent on the subject ever since. Ella’s sister, Chloe, is engaged to Nate, an American working in London, but Ella suspects that he may not be so committed. Then, at Chloe’s behest, Ella agrees to paint Nate’s portrait. (see more at www.bn.com)

9.  The Murder of the Century by Paul Collins-On Long Island, a farmer finds a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discover a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumble upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime are turning up all over New York, but the police are baffled: There are no witnesses, no motives, no suspects. (see more at www.bn.com)

8.  Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough-Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin’s magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.

7. The Irish Princess by Karen Harper-Born into a first family of Ireland, with royal ties on both sides, Elizabeth Fitzgerald-known as Gera-finds her world overturned when Henry VIII imprisons her father, the Earl of Kildare, and brutally destroys her family. Torn from the home she loves, her remaining family scattered, Gera dares not deny the refuge offered her in England’s glittering royal court. There she must navigate ever-shifting alliances even as she nurtures her secret desire for revenge. From County Kildare’s lush green fields to London’s rough-and-tumble streets and the royal court’s luxurious pageantry, The Irish Princess follows the journey of a daring woman whose will cannot be tamed, and who won’t be satisfied until she restores her family to its rightful place in Ireland.

6. Bedding Lord Ned by Sally MacKenzie-Determined to find a husband, Miss Eleanor “Nell” Bowman attends a ball put on by the Duchess of Greycliffe, fondly referred to as the Duchess of Love. But she roundly dismisses the suitors the matchmaking hostess has invited on her behalf. For it’s the duchess’s dashing son Ned, Lord Edward, who long ago captured Nell’s heart—and roused her desire. All it takes is a pair of conveniently misplaced silky red bloomers to set the handsome widower’s gaze on this unusual girl who is clearly more than meets the eye…

5.  Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost (June 26, 2012)-After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: a terrifying ability to channel electricity and to see a person’s darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude…until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world’s most infamous vampire..(see more at www.bn.com)

4.  Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire-Once peaceful and prosperous, the spectacular Land of Oz is knotted with social unrest: The Emerald City is mounting an invasion of Munchkinland, Glinda is under house arrest, and the Cowardly Lion is on the run from the law. And look who’s knocking at the door. It’s none other than Dorothy. Yes. That Dorothy. (see more at www.bn.com)

3.  The Watchers by John Steele-Beneath Lausanne Cathedral, in Switzerland, there is a secret buried before time began, something unknown to angels and men, until now…

Marc Rochat watches over the city at night from the belfry of the cathedral. He lives ina world of shadows and “beforetimes” and imaginary beings.
Katherine Taylor, call girl and daydreamer, is about to discover that her real-life fairy tale is too good to be true.
Jay Harper, private detective, wakes up in a crummy hotel room with no memory. When the telephone rings and he’s offered a job, he knows he has no choice but to accept.

Three lives, one purpose: save what’s left of paradise before all hell breaks loose.

2.  The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton-The novels of New York Times bestselling author Laurell K. Hamilton take readers into the dangerous life of Anita Blake, animator and vampire hunter—a woman as good at raising the dead as she is at slaying the undead. Now, a creature from beyond the grave is tearing a swath of murder through St. Louis. And Anita will learn that there are some secrets better left buried—and some people better off dead…(see more at www.bn.com)

1.  Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (July 10, 2012)-Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens. 

***All overviews came from www.bn.com.

For additional information on the above books you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other Book retailer.  For more books on my To Be Read list you can go to my Goodreads list.

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