The best presents of this recent holiday season were not wrapped beneath my tree. They came instead as enthusiastic endorsements from book bloggers and kind words from readers.  Five weeks out from release and one week into the New Year Médicis Daughter has racked up so many lovely thoughtful reviews.

I squealed like a three year-old confronted with a stack of presents taller than myself when Médicis Daughter was selected by Goodreads as one of the “Best Books of the Month: December 2015,” and featured in its reader newsletter.  I felt a profound appreciation for the 50+ customers on Amazon who took the time to share their thoughts (and with 50% of those reviewers giving the book 5-stars). And as for the bloggers . . . well let’s just say their praise and recommendations will spur me on as I work on “what’s next.”

Here is a sampling of what they had to say:

I’ve been beyond excited to post this review because I absolutely loved this book. It is most definitely one of my favourite reads this year.” ~With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

♦♦♦

The way that Perinot describes the court makes the reader feel like they are right there, and the historic characters are well written and true to their forms for the period and what history tells us of these characters.” ~The Lit Bitch

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Perinot excels at illustrating the nuances of interpersonal relationships, and those she depicts – and their transformations over time – are worth beholding.” ~Reading the Past

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Historical fiction has always been my favorite genre to read and with authors like Sophie Perinot, it continues to be my favorite. I give it five stars!” ~The Celtic Lady

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This is a story you won’t want to end, as you follow a determined princess on a journey of self-discovery that concludes with her decision to follow her heart or her mind. One choice leads to the life she’s always wanted; the other provides a freedom she never knew she needed.” ~Chick Lit Plus

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I was seriously due for a great read after dealing with the past couple months of craziness in my life, and a great read is exactly what author Sophie Perinot provided! ~Historical Fiction Obsession

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I was drawn in from the first page” ~Literate Housewife [Great Reads of 2015]

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Ms. Perinot has delivered a beautiful blend of history with an intriguing story line that escalates and consistently gains momentum with the turn of each page.” ~Feathered Quill Reviews

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I hope that Sophie gets the recognition she deserves for this amazingly told story.” ~Bookish Lifestyle

I can honestly say Bookish Lifestyle, sentences like that are the best kind of recognition there is! So thank you to the blogging and reading communities. Thank you for finding Médicis Daughter on over-crowded shelves, and for taking Marguerite de Valois and me into your homes and hearts!

thank you

Reviews come in all shapes and sizes. Obviously good ones are better than bad ones 😉 But once in a while an author receives a review that stands out, not because it is a rave (though it often is), but because the reviewer GETS the book on its deepest levels.

That is a euporic moment for the writer, because conveying meaning–our own particular meaning–is what we live for.

Today Médicis Daughter received such a review from Erin at “Flashlight Commentary.”  Yes,  Erin liked the book: “Atmospherically, the novel swept me off my feet. Perinot’s depiction of the French court was beautifully drawn and I was wholly captivated by both the political and social interaction that unfolded among its players.” But more importantly she understood my heroine, who is no cardboard princess, but very human and very flawed but still–in my estimation–laudable:

Margot fascinated me in her own right. She isn’t an easy character, but her layers and complexity are hard to ignore. Her family is ruthless and self-serving and while she possesses many of the same characteristics, she plays them much differently and distinguishing herself as a somewhat unique force. Her goals and ambitions are relatively modest, but her loyalties are often at odds. Her courage and tenacity are intriguing and while I didn’t always agree with the course of her actions, I found much admire in the determination and resolve required in carrying them out.

From where I am sitting this feels like a huge victory.

You can check out the rest of what Erin had to say here.scarlet gown

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“Thank you to Sophie Perinot for introducing me to a whole new section of historical fiction to now become obsessed with (move over Tudors)!”

Thank YOU Colleen at A Literary Vacation, and readers everywhere.  Without a receptive audience what we writers do would be a little like a tree falling in the forest with no one to hear it. THANKSGIVING WISHES

Yes I am SUPER thankful for readers, and particularly readers who take the time to review. Because here’s the thing: word of mouth is still the most powerful tool in the world when it comes to supporting novels.

So Thanks A Literary Vacation for this doozy of a review!  For embracing the characters I lived with for so many long months and letting them become as real to you as they are to me:

I think one of my favorite thing about Margot (and really all of these characters) is that she isn’t perfect, not even close. Sophie Perinot did an astounding job of making each character so well rounded and complex that they felt wholly real to me, not just glitzed up or vilified representations of what someone might want them to be.

And for understanding and perfectly expressing the essence of Médicis Daughter:

With all this going on (and there is a lot of action and intrigue to delight in, perfectly presented by the author) the real heart of the story, to me, is much smaller: that of a beautiful, intelligent girl long held prisoner to her family’s demands, threats and machinations finally learning how to break free, at least in part, from their control to become the woman of honor she longs to be.

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Nov 242015
Brilliant. This is what I call a “WOW” book.
What better way to celebrate the madness of “one week to publication” than with a WOW review?! 1 week to go
 
Book Lovers’ Paradise declares that Médicis Daughter:
…doesn’t read like a history book, but like a fantastic tale.
And Donna has officially read the book more times than my mother. Thanks Donna! — “I have re-read this book not once but TWICE, it’s that good!!!”
 

This week it was a review-a-day for Médicis Daughter, and all of them good!

Peeking Between the Pages highly recommended the novel, declaring:

Well researched and rich in historical detail Medicis Daughter is sure to please any historical fiction fan and it’s one of my favorites of the year.

1And Darlene paid me a great compliment in saying that my “talent at weaving history with a captivating story is what makes her novels so entirely readable.”

Over at The Mad Reviewer (where Médicis Daughter earned 5 of 5 stars), Carrie said:

Perinot’s descriptive writing style … brings the court and the characters to life.  She can be beautifully descriptive but also knows when to pare down her writing for the sake of pacing.

A theme picked up by Just One More Chapter:

Sophie Perinot writes with rich details, her descriptions made it so easy to visualize what was taking place – I was totally absorbed in her story.

Both The Maiden’s Court (where Heather gave the book 4.5 of 5 stars) and The Eclectic Reader (Teddy) appreciated the coming-of-age aspects of the tale. Saying:

There is a real sense of Marguerite’s growth as the novel progresses, fueled by the machinations and ill-treatment by her family, naivety fast becomes awareness and intelligence and a strong moral compass hold her in good stead challenging her family in doing what she believes is right. (Teddy)

And

. . .we see a coming of age story from a young, innocent girl into a woman of the Valois court who makes decisions for herself, goes toe-to-toe with her powerful mother, and ultimately who becomes a strong woman (Heather)

Well thank you ladies all! I am blushing!  For those of you who are not sick of me saying it already, Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois releases in 11 days.  It is currently available for pre-order at Amazon, B&N, Indiebound and (for the international set) Book Depository (though it appears they will be shipping out later).  If you order today then you will have it in your hands more quickly!

March 6th is a good day for debuts.  One hundred and sixty years ago today (March 6, 1853)   La Traviata premiered at the La Fenice opera house in Venice.  One year ago today (March 6, 2012) my debut novel, The Sister Queens, hit shelves.  Auspicious.  And while I never expect to be as popular as Verdi, I’ve been overwhelmed by the generous responses of critics and the kind and often moving responses of readers.  Thanks all! 

Readers—Visit my Sister Queens Facebook page for instructions on how to get one of twenty signed bookplates (there are still a few left) for your copy of The Sister Queens.

Writer friends — The day after its premiere Giuseppe Verdi worried that La Traviata was a failure so EVERYBODY has artistic angst.  Have faith in your work and its ability to find an audience.

Finally, for those who haven’t tried The Sister Queens yet — I believe that Amazon still has the book on sale for $6 a copy (limit 2).  Wouldn’t now be an excellent time to add it to your TBR pile?

The Sister Queens just made its TENTH “best of  2012” list thanks to Kayla at the Historical Fiction Examiner.  Make sure to check out Kayla’s entire Top 10— lots of great books to add to your TBR pile there.  My debut is listed with novels by so many authors I truly admire including, Michelle Moran, Juliet Grey, Elizabeth Loupas and Susan Higginbotham.

Must admit it feels overwhelming to make see my book alongside the work of so many luminaries of the genre.  This time I am actually one-of-ten with Philippa Gregory.  Weird.  But weird in a good way!

While I was baking up a storm and wrapping gifts for friends and family I received a couple of very special year-end presents.  The Sister Queens made several  “best of” lists” (in addition to the list at Let Them Read Books  mentioned in a previous post).

I am exceedingly flattered that The True Book Addict, has my debut keeping company with books by the likes of C.W. Gortner, Hilary Mantel and my good friend Nancy Bilyeau. Holly’s list at Bippity Boppity Book lets me rub elbows with Ken Follett and Diana Gabaldon (wow).  Book Drunkard’s “Top 12”  and Tanzinite’s Castle Full of Books  both also have me in very august company.   I am  thrilled that Kate Quinn, author of a brilliant trilogy set in ancient Rome that I personally devoured, also picked The Sister Queens as one of her 2012 favorites and Space Station Mir named me as one of her “Top Ten New-To-Me Authors for 2012.”  Finally, I feel very privileged that The Sister Queens made two of the “personal favorites” 2012 lists at Romantic Historical Lovers—Meagan’s and Jenny’s. 

Not so sound like The Count from Sesame Street, but by my reckoning that makes nine favorites lists  I am gobsmacked and grateful. Thank you to the book bloggers who did me such honor and thank you to all the readers who embraced my first novel so warmly!

Stars and flowers—what better way to start The Sister Queens 7-month anniversary blog tour? The first two reviews are in and they are five stars and four flowers. A sparkly combination. 

Crystal at My Reading Room gave me her top rating saying, “I was honestly captivated from the very first page as I read the tale of Marguerite and Eleanor, sisters who were in competition at home and then were wed off one-by-one to Kings.” She pays me the very great compliment of putting me among her favorite historical writers (in some pretty impressive company):

The Sister Queens was more than I could have ever asked for in a book and now reigns in my top three historical fiction novels with Michelle Moran’s Cleopatra’s Daughter and Sandra Byrd’s To Die For. For me that is some great company. I will be highly recommending The Sister Queens to all of my friends, even ones who don’t read historical fiction.”

Meanwhile  A Chick Who Reads gave me the lovely flowers and some kind words as well:

This is Sophie’s first novel and if it is any indication of what’s to come, well, move over Phillipa Gregory.”

I will be back at A Chick Who Reads tomorrow as a guest blogger talking about “Hair-Shirts 101”(and how often do you hear someone say that?). Hope you’ll join me.

On the fence about The Sister Queens?  Looking for a little persuasion—a reason to add it to your “To Be Read” pile?  Well, I am about to give you fifteen.

You see I keep a list of comments from reviewers—comments that rocked my world.  And I noticed the other day that, with the 4 month anniversary of its release just around the corner, my novel has received in excess of three dozen really super reviews from bloggers and book-related publications.  That’s not counting the more than one-hundred readers who have taken the time to write reviews for it at either Goodreads or Amazon.

So, at the risk of tooting my own horn most unbecomingly, I’ve decided to share a compendium of my favorite quotes grouped to support fifteen excellent reasons for any reader to take notice of The Sister Queens:

#1:  The Sister Queens is amazing—don’t take my word for it (I am a little partial), it has received a staggering amount of good reviews:

“This is the must read novel of the summer for anyone with a passion for historical fiction.” (Fresh Fiction)

THE SISTER QUEENS is probably my first Perfect 10 in well over a year—but it certainly merits at least that.(Romance Reviews Today)

“Word on the street (rather, consensus among historical fiction bloggers) is that this is an author to watch whose book is a page-turner, fast-paced, emotional, passionate, well-written and carefully researched.” (School Library Journal)

“Historical fiction lovers rejoice! A new and true talent has arrived on the scene!” (Let Them Read Books)

The Sister Queens is an amazing debut novel. Telling a story about history in a way that only the best historical fiction does.” (The True Book Addict)

I’ll be recommending this to everyone I know who loves historical fiction and putting this author on my “buy immediately” list for her future releases” (Bippity Boppity Book)

The Sister Queens is historic fiction at its absolute finest. I simply cannot wait to see what this author does next. She’s already won herself a spot on my list of favorite authors. In all of its colorful prose, deep and eccentric characters, and historical brilliance, this book can be summed up with one word: phenomenal. Brava!” (The Tulsa Book Review)

“In short, an excellent work of historical fiction . . . . Certainly the best I’ve read this year set in the Middle Ages. Highly recommended.” (Medieval Bookworm)

“This is one of the few historical fiction stories that I’ve read lately that I would consider a page-turner(Debbie’s Book Bag)

#2:  The story has it ALL:  Whatever you like in your historical fiction you are going to find it in the pages of The Sister Queens, a novel that spans 40 years and locations including England, France, Provence, Cyprus & the Holy Land.

“The Sister Queens has it all… court life, balls, rivalry, politics, love and lust; with the added element of it seeming so real to the reader as though watching a film.” (Peeking Between the Pages)

“This is an excellent slice of an extremely interesting period of time. We get the politics and social aspects of not one but two countries (always a bonus!) as well as in the latter part of the book, Louis’ crusade to the Holy Land.” (The Broke and the Bookish)

 #3  Rumor has it I can actually write:

“Sophie Perinot’s writing style is simple and honest and all the more eloquent for it.” (Let Them Read Books)

“I hope that Ms. Perinot is considering further books on unsung women in history as she does have a magical way with words. A way that brings long dead characters to very real life.” (Broken Teepee)

“I couldn’t believe that this is Sophie’s first book. It reads like it’s written by someone with years of writing experience and dozens of novels under their belt.” (Book Drunkard)

 “. . . this is a novel that I quickly lost myself in. It was written beautifully and Perinot does an amazing job of bringing these two characters to life.” (The Owl Bookmark)

Perinot’s writing is almost flawless, and she brings to rich life characters who lived more than 600 years ago, no small feat.” (Briar Patch Books)

Perinot is a great writer and I’m anxious to see what other books she comes out with in the future” (A Bookish Affair)

#4  So I am getting compared to some pretty well-known historical novelists (and I am both flattered and grateful):

“Fans of Philippa Gregory and Carolly Erickson will want to add this author to their collection.”  (Joplin Loves 2 Read)

“I was reminded of one of my favorite historical fiction authors, Sharon Kay Penman. (Although Ms. Perinot’s style is deliciously more sexy :)” (Let Them Read Books)

“. . . Perinot’s writing style reminds me of my revered Jean Plaidy—that is high braise indeed from this reader. (historical-fiction.com) Continue reading »