30/08/2012

AUTHOR GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY - ROSANNE E. LORTZ, I SERVE. A NOVEL OF THE BLACK PRINCE.


One of the chief attractions of reading (and writing!) historical fiction is that it is set in a world far different than the world we live in today. That different-ness, however, also poses one of the greatest challenges for historical novelists. We must understand the unique situation faced by the citizens of an older era, and then convey it to our readers in such a way that they can relate to our characters.

The fourteenth century provides the setting for my book I Serve: A Novel of the Black Prince. It was a grim time—one of the greatest disasters imaginable overtook the Western world, with nearly half the European population perishing in the Black Plague. It was a bloody time—France and England became locked in the interminable struggle known as the Hundred Years’ War, with the Scots, the Spaniards, and the Germans participating intermittently.

But despite these harsh realities, the fourteenth century was also a seminal time—an era of change, courage, and determination. Strong men and women saw the world they had been given, took it in their hands, and molded it into something new. In religion, literature, societal structure, and warfare, mankind made monumental strides, preparing the way for the more earth-shattering changes that the Renaissance and Reformation would bring.

28/08/2012

CORNWALL - THE BEAUTIFUL LAND OF KING ARTHUR, POLDARK AND DOC MARTIN

Land's End
My latest trip to the UK was a one-week tour in the South - West of the country with friends. We went from Somerset to Dorset (see my travelog Visiting Bath and Lyme Regis at My Jane Austen Book Club), then Devon and Cornwall.
The first thing that comes to anyone's  mind thinking of Cornwall is King Arthur, Camelot,  the Knights of the Round Table but my friends and I,  while travelling all over the beautiful coasts,  had in ours mainly  the  memories of handsome Ross Poldark living near Truro and his dashing 18th century look . This doesn't mean we neglected visiting great Arthurian sites. Apart from the stunning cliffs at Land's End, our trip to Mount St. Michael, the ancient charm of Tintagel Castle, our exciting night at the Minack Theatre,  we'll never forget the thrill of driving  an incredibly huge rented car  along the most incredibly narrow roads and paths.  If you've driven in Cornwall or seen at least one episode of Doc Martin on TV, you know what I mean! But our dauntless driver  Lou  and  her inseparable satnav Chiara were not scared a bit and drove us everywhere we had planned to go: "Always heading toward new adventures and beyond", acrobatic  manoeuvres included.

26/08/2012

AUTHOR INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY - CHRISSIE ELMORE, UNMAPPED COUNTRY. MRS GASKELL'S NORTH AND SOUTH CONTINUES.

  North and South 2004 - www.richardarmitagenet.com
A new variation of Mrs Gaskell's North and South has been written and released on Amazon Kindle Store and could I resist? No, of course! So I read it, wrote a short review you can find HERE, and finally send my interview to the author, Chrissie Elmore, who kindly took the time to answer. Read the post, leave your comment or a question for my guest, add your e-mail address and get the chance to win a kindle version of UNMAPPED COUNTRY. (N.B. If you don't have a kindle reader, check the link on my sidebar for downloading free Kindle for PC, iPad or smartphone)  The giveaway contest is open internationally and ends on 5th September when the name of the winner will be announced. 

Welcome to FLY HIGH, Chrissie! My first question for you is when did you first read Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South?
I first read Mrs G in my early twenties. Revisited after the TV mini series and numerous times during writing Unmapped Country. Wives & Daughters and Mary Barton followed.

What did you especially like in Mrs Gaskell’s novel?
The 'will they, won't they?' of the love story and the development of the characters would captivate anyone, but for me the real draw was the time and place. The frenetic atmosphere of Manchester in the middle years of the Industrial Revolution; the opportunity for anyone with drive and intelligence to rise to the challenges and make their mark; to contribute to the massive social changes which were to lift people from poverty and ignorance – this is what inspired me and why I  identified more with Thornton than any other character.

24/08/2012

RICHARD III - SOME TOUCH OF PITY AND THE SEARCH FOR HIS RESTING PLACE IN LEICESTER


1. Rhoda Edwards, Some Touch of Pity. Book Review
“No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. But I know none, and therefore am no beast.”
(William Shakespeare, Richard III)
Another well written historical fiction novel about Richard III. Although this book is out of print  I managed to get  a used copy through Amazon.com and at a very special price. It is not my first Richard III novel since I started my quest for the real King. It is my fifth novel since, a couple of years ago,  I  joined the many loyal Ricardians who want to wipe off the stained reputation the Tudors stuck on Richard III after his defeat.
In 1976 Rhoda Edwards (author of another Ricardian novel, Fortune's Wheel)  won the Yorkshire Post’s Best First Work Award for this novel, Some Touch of Pity (The Broken Sword in the US edition) which was  her first work of historical fiction about King Richard III.
The peculiarity of Some Touch of Pity is that it  is  presented as a series of first person narrations of the key events in the last two years in the life of Richard III (March 1483 – August 1485)  We follow the compelling accounts of Lady Anne before and after becoming the Queen of England; King Richard himself; the King’s physician, Dr William Hobbes ; Sir Francis  Lovell, Richard’s best friend;   Robert Bolman a clerk in the Privy Seal Office; Lady Elizabeth, daughter of King Edward IV (King Richard’s niece and future wife to  Henry Tudor); George Stanley, Lord Strange; and finally a Squire of Sir William Stanley.

23/08/2012

LAST DAYS OF FREEDOM GIVEAWAY HOP - WINNER OF CAROLE MATTHEWS'S SUMMER DAYDREAMS


For the Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop (1) hosted at I am a reader, not a Writer + The Elliott Review , I chose to give  away the perfect summer read:  Carole Matthews's (2) Summer Daydreams (3). Have you read  her lovely guest post? What came first the bag or the book? Among all the readers who commented - and to whom I'm very grateful - one lucky winner: 

20/08/2012

AUTUMN AT THE MOVIES WILL BE BY THE BOOK

Do you have the slightest idea how much I love screen adaptations of the classics? Maybe, if you've been reading FLY HIGH! for a while. Well, the next season at the movies will make me and many other fans very happy with a few interesting titles: Anna Karenina, On The Road, Great Expectations

September (Ireland, UK, Spain) - Anna Karenina 
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way " (L. Tolstoj)
Joe Wright,  after directing Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice (2005) and Atonement (2007) , has  chosen her again to play the role of the tragic heroine in Tolstoj's 1877 novel, Anna Karenina. With a  screenplay by Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love),  Anna Karenina 2012   also stars Jude Law as Alexei Karenin, Anna's husband and  Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Count Vronsky, Anna's lover. Other familiar faces in the cast Matthew MacFadyen (who played with Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice as Mr Darcy, now her womanizing brother, Oblonsky) , Ruth Wilson (Jane Eyre), Michelle Dockery (Mary in Downton Abbey),  Emily Watson (Miss Potter, War Horse), Holliday Granger (Sparkhouse, Robin Hood, The Borgias) and Olivia Williams (Miss Austen Regrets, An Education).

18/08/2012

HEARTBREAK CHRONICLES: WHY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL DATING MEMOIRS ARE SO POPULAR


(by guest blogger Katheryn Rivas)
At the end of almost every Disney fairytale, we see an innocent, kind-hearted princess marrying a wealthy, handsome prince. When we're young, inexperienced, and naïve, these kinds of love stories don't seem too far-fetched or abnormal at all. Through years of watching Disney movies and reading lighthearted children's literature, we are cursed from the beginning into believing that love is simple, easy to find, and eternally everlasting. Those of us who have already entered the dating world know better. Love isn't fun and games; it's a ruthless battlefield.

It's funny how the tone of romantic literature evolves as we grow older. As we get deeper and deeper into our twenties, thirties, and forties, our views of love transition from being innocent and optimistic to something much more confusing and complicated. In fact, some of the most popular literature on shelves today draws attention to this very phenomenon. Nowadays, people are picking up heartfelt dating memoirs and confessionals and reading them one right after the other. Here are four reasons why dating memoirs like Bridget Jones's Diary and He's Just Not That Into You have become so popular in modern culture.

16/08/2012

LAST DAYS OF FREEDOM GIVEAWAY HOP - CAROLE MATTHEWS, SUMMER DAYDREAMS

For the Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop hosted at I am a reader, not a Writer + The Elliott Review , I've chosen to give  away the perfect summer read!  Carole Matthews tells the story of how she came to write Summer Daydreams in her lovely guest post.  How can you win  a kindle copy of her Summer Daydreams

One mandatory entry: Become a follower of FLY HIGH, if you are not already one, then leave your comment + your e-mail address.

It's as simple as that! Remember: the giveaway is open internationally and ends August 22.  This is a giveaway hop so check all the blogs in the list below this post, there are plenty of prizes to win!

What Came First: the Bag or the Book?

Carole Matthews
I knew something was amiss when I first moved in with my partner, Lovely Kev , and his children, mouths gaping and wide-eyed with amazement, they stared at my three packing cases crammed with handbags and declared in the manner of discovering dinosaurs eggs in the living room, ‘Have you seen how many handbags, Carole’s got?’
Er, yes. I do have a few. If there is such a thing, I’m a handbagaholic . Whilst in a rush to go out a few weeks ago, I asked Lovely Kev to bring my black clutch bag for me. He came in with a selection of five - all pretty much identical - and a raised disapproving eyebrow.
 It’s such a girl thing, but I do love handbags. A few years ago, there was a solitary present nestling under the Christmas tree with my name

MICHELLE MORAN, THE SECOND EMPRESS - BOOK REVIEW


Michelle Moran's fifth  book has just been released (14th August) and I'm glad I had the chance to read it in advance receiving my review copy from NetGalley. It's a new brilliant tale set in  those year I like to think of as The   Regency - being more interested in English literature than French history - but set in France and Austria. It's a gripping tale of feelings and emotions which I wanted to share with you  immediately after finishing  it . That is now!

Synopsis of the book (from the author’s Official Site)

National bestselling author Michelle Moran returns to Paris, this time under the rule of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte as he casts aside his beautiful wife to marry a Hapsburg princess he hopes will bear him a royal heir. 
After the bloody French Revolution, Emperor Napoleon’s power is absolute. When Marie-Louise, the eighteen year old daughter of the King of Austria, is told that the Emperor has demanded her hand in marriage, her father presents her with a terrible choice: marry the cruel, capricious Napoleon, leaving the man she loves and her home forever, or say no, and plunge her country into war.

 Marie-Louise knows what she must do, and she travels to France, determined to be a good wife despite Napoleon’s reputation. But lavish parties greet her in Paris, and at the extravagant French court, she finds many rivals for her husband’s affection, including Napoleon’s first wife, Jos├ęphine, and his sister Pauline, the only woman as ambitious as the emperor himself. Beloved by some and infamous to many, Pauline is fiercely loyal to her brother. She is also convinced that Napoleon is destined to become the modern

13/08/2012

READING THE HOBBIT IN SEARCH FOR THORIN - PART II

Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit upcoming movie

This is my second post in the series “Reading the Hobbit in search for Thorin”.       (Click HERE for Part I)
The second part of my reading has been influenced by one of  Richard Armitage’s recent statements in  an interview related to the upcoming Hobbit movies. When asked how he tried to update a classical Lord figure like his Thorin Oakenshield  for  a contemporary audience, he answered:

I never really thought of updating it. I actually did the opposite. I thought of it as more kind of Greek tragedy. I looked at Shakespeare, a lot of my preparation I was looking at Henry V and bits of Richard III, just to find roots in British literature that were deeper. But I think making it feel contemporary the big themes of the story — loyalty and trust and camaraderie — I think those things are contemporary (transcript from http://io9.com/5929748/the-hobbits-thorin-oakenshield-tells-us-what-happens-when-you-get-a-tolkien-dwarf-drunk . See interview following the same link).

I  wonder  if  the bits Richard Armitage mentions are really of Shakespeare’s iconic wicked king or if he had  the ideal of the fair king,  which the Ricardian historians  rediscovered through documents,  in his mind. So I went on reading The Hobbit in search for Thorin and a bit also of  Richard III or Henry V.  I can anticipate I didn’t find much of them in Tolkien’s Thorin. So, as usual, this means that  Richard Armitage has been giving his own very personal interpretation to the character. Under the direction of Tolkien expert,  Peter Jackson, of course.

N.B. Don’t go on reading if you mind spoilers!

12/08/2012

THE EUROPEAN RENAISSANCE ENTUSING AMERICANS

(guestpost by Mark)
The European Renaissance is still remembered by the people of the continent as it opened the door for creative expressions. A lot of new classics that were ignored by the Orthodox Church had been introduced during that period. That era is in the middle of us in the form of renaissance festivals. As a matter of surprise, such festivals are more popular in America as compared to Europe. American descendants of Europeans seem keen to know about their medieval culture. 

These festivals provide the wonderful blend of interactive entertainment, commercial enterprise and outdoor costume party. The themed events belonged to the era of William Shakespeare, but these festivals are entirely different from the Shakespeare festivals. In the Shakespeare festivals, dramas of this great author are performed by the expert artists. On the other hand, renaissance festivals are meant for the light entertainment. The plays of Shakespeare are performed in these festivals also, but in their shortened versions. Various music performances are also the prominent attractions of the fairs. Moreover, archery, jousting and many other reenactment activities also increase the enthusiasm towards the festivals. On the other hand, the merchants with household goods can also be seen in the festivals making the profits. The renaissance and pirate costumes can also be obtained from the stalls in the fairs. 

10/08/2012

GIVEAWAY WINNERS ANNOUNCEMENT - PRUE BATTEN'S A THOUSAND GLASS FLOWERS & LUCINDA BRANT'S AUTUMN DUCHESS


It was great partying with friends living in Australia, Prue Batten,  and in New Zealand , Lucinda Brant, here at FLY HIGH! It's been lovely to be together and have a chat to celebrate their great achievement as finalists in the Readers Favorite 2012 Award Contest . Thanks to the kind readers who joined us and wanted to express their support with their comments. Among them the winners in this giveaway contest:

Margay wins Lucinda Brant's Autumn  Duchess
&  to
jman1985  goes Prue Batten's A Thousand Glass Flowers

Congratulations and thanks for taking part!

I'm infinitely grateful to Prue and Lucinda for being my guests again and I want to wish them all the best in their writing careers as well as in their lives. To our real meeting, sooner or later!

09/08/2012

CLASSIC ENGLISH LITERATURE DESERVING A TV ADAPTATION


(guest post by Lauren Bailey)

The English literary canon is filled with rich material just waiting to be brought to the big screen. There are so many classics that have yet to get the visual treatment, so many of which would blow contemporary TV dramas out of the water. I know what you might be thinking—many TV adaptations of literary novels tend to fall short or fail to do any justice to the source material at all. We’ve all had the experience where we eagerly await the release of a movie or miniseries adapted from one of our favorite books, only to be letdown by the finished product.
But there are those instances where directors bring real magic to the screen with miniseries and TV shows that pay homage to the literary source material. When an adaptation is done write, it makes up for all the lesser versions out there. I’m looking at you, Pride and Prejudice and Brideshead Revisited.
I’d like to that this opportunity to list some classic English works of fiction that I think would make for outstanding television. Without further ado, here are three works that place on the top of my list.
Lights, cameras, action!

07/08/2012

AUTHOR INTERVIEW & DOUBLE GIVEAWAY : MARY LYDON SIMONSEN, THREE'S A CROWD

After publishing several Austen-inspired novels, Mary Lydon Simonsen has released a new e-book titled "Three's A Crowd", which marks her debut as a mystery writer. She's my guest today and has kindly accepted to answer some questions as well as granted you readers two Kindle  copies of her new novel. Leave your comment below this post and don't forget to add your e-mail address. The giveaway contest is open worldwide and ends on 15 August.

First of all, thank you for inviting me to post on your blog, Maria Grazia. You and I have become friends through our shared love of Jane Austen, and I appreciate the opportunity to share my latest novel, a British police procedural, with your readers.

You are welcome, Mary! At Fly High as well as at My Jane Austen Book Club, any time you wish to be my guest! This is my first question for you: What is the appeal of the mystery genre?

06/08/2012

QUICK, LIGHT, ROMANTIC SUMMER READS: IN A CLASS OF HIS OWN AND UNMAPPED COUNTRY (THE STORY OF NORTH AND SOUTH CONTINUES)

In A Class of His Own by Georgia Hill
I am used to seeing gorgeous male teachers, well they are often gorgeous on TV, especially in American  series! Only ... I have been a teacher for such a long time now and 1. men teaching as their profession are very rare beings (the great majority of teachers are female in Italy) 2. handsomeness is not the most common peculiarity in teachers (writitng female one included).
So when Georgia Hill was my guest and I posted the cover of her latest book, In a Class of His Own, I immediately became curious to discover more about the good-looking bloke featured on it. "A gym teacher, I bet" was my first thought. But no, I was wrong. The man in question was the headmaster! "I must read it!" was my second thought.

Synopsis  (from Amazon.com)
Forsaking the bright lights of London, Nicky Hathaway comes to live and teach in a sleepy Herefordshire town. She’s expecting the quiet life but then Jack Thorpe takes over as her headmaster...
Nicky is a woman who won’t take no for an answer and soon all sorts of sparks are flying between her and the implacable but gorgeous Jack. But, is it hate or love that’s growing between them? And just what is Jack’s big secret?


03/08/2012

FIFTY SHADES OF SHAME - I WANTED TO KNOW WHAT ALL THE FUSS WAS ABOUT.


Jane Austen? Jane Eyre? Please, leave them be! What has this 50 Shame  … ehm … Shades trilogy by E.L. James got to do with that greatness and depth? It is a vanity fair of shallowness and pettiness. How can these books be anyway connected with those great classics? And I wonder how could they become best selling works with millions of readers?
Do you think I’m prejudiced? I am not. Never thought graphic sex inappropriate when well written and justified in a gripping plot.
Do you think I’m too harsh? That’s exactly what I intend to be. And yes, I read those books, I’m not talking of something I know nothing about.

I read the first instalment  very quickly but then once I started the  second one, I felt I was really wasting my time and left it when halfway through  it . I couldn’t stand all that silliness one page more.
First of all it was so boring and repetitive. “O my! Holy cow!  Holy f**k!”, these are the most frequent exclamations the young heroine, Anastasia Steel,  utters or thinks every ten seconds. So irritating!

01/08/2012

A VIRTUAL CELEBRATION WITH FRIENDS - JOIN LUCINDA BRANT, PRUE BATTEN AND ME AND WIN ONE OF THEIR GREAT BOOKS!


A friend’s success is always a great occasion to celebrate but when there are two friends there is double partying with masses of enthusiasm to share and experience. So, are you ready to join me and my friends in our party?
Prue Batten and Lucinda Brant are not only two dear friends whom I  met by chance in the blogosphere, but honestly also two of the best new writers I discovered thanks to my blogs,  whose books I most appreciate. I was incredibly happy when I heard they had been both nominated and were among the finalists in the Readers Favorite 2012 Award Contest and I decided to organize a small celebration for them, inviting all the readers to join us.
Have you read Prue’s A Thousand Glass Flowers or Lucinda’s Autumn Duchess? They are awesome readings and have been nominated respectively in the Fantasy and Historical Romance categories of the contest.
Join us in our chat and celebration with your own questions or comments. You’ll be not only welcome but will also have the chance to win an e-book copy of either A Thousand Glass Flowers or Autumn Duchess. Don't forget to add your e-mail address to be warned in case you win! This giveaway is open internationally and ends on August 10th
Let the party begin!