Le Languedoc: guest-post by Charles Gibson – I love France #120

I LOVE FRANCE!

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The Languedoc

 When most Americans think of places in France, they of think Paris, Normandy, Provence. Few seem to know of the Languedoc. Yet, if they have journeyed there, it is a place not easily forgotten. It not only has the largest intact Medieval walled city in Europe, but is the realm of the troubadours, of courtship and romance, and of the first crusade that was targeted against lands in Europe. Taking the Cross is set in the Languedoc and Provence during the first summer of this Crusade, which came to be known as the Albigensian Crusade against heresy.

The Languedoc is named for the language which used to be predominantly spoken there, a tongue called Occitan. It was the language of the troubadours and of those who lived in Southern France and Northern Spain during most of the Middle Ages. Occitan as a language is much closer to Spanish than to French. Before the Albigensian Crusade, the nobles of the Languedoc aligned themselves with King Pedro of Aragon, whose throne was in Barcelona. The name Languedoc comes from Langue d’oc, or the “language of yes”.

In the early thirteenth century, at a time when so much of Europe was issuing an emphatic “no”, the Languedoc said “yes”. Yes to greater freedom of religion, yes to increased economic freedom, yes to more freedom for Jews and not persecution. In June, 1209, the Languedoc was likely the most free and the most wealthy realm in Europe. The size of its great cities such as Beziers, Carcassonne, and Toulouse, rivaled or surpassed London, Paris, and Rome itself. Albigensians and Waldensians, groups that thrived in the Languedoc under protection, groups that either did not believe or did not practice their faith in the way of the Catholic Church, were deemed to be heretics.

Pope Innocent III declared heretics to be more evil than Saracens and launched the Albigensian Crusade. It ravaged a free and prosperous land. It led to the oppression and brutality of the Inquisition. C.S. Lewis declared that if not for the Albigensian Crusade, the Renaissance would have begun in the Languedoc in the thirteenth century two-hundred years before it began in Italy.

The largest intact Medieval walled city in Europe is Carcassonne. It is the Chateau Comtal, the castle of the city of Carcassonne, that is pictured on the cover of Taking the Cross. When I traveled to the Languedoc, I was able to go inside the Chateau Comtal, the castle of Viscount Raimon Roger Trencavel I, who is a main character in Taking the Cross. From the Chateau Comtal, I went to the nearby Tower of Heretics. It is so named because heretics were hanged there after the Albigensian Crusade from the crossbeams of the roof of the tower.

It was in the Tower of the Heretics that the history of the Languedoc came alive for me. As I stared up at the broad crossbeams, it was as if I could hear the screams and feel the suffering of those who were hanged, feel the heat and smell the smoke from those burnt at the stake. Even though it took me many years to figure it out, it was then I knew I had a story to tell.

The first installment of that story is Taking the Cross.

Taking The Cross

 

Taking the Cross cover

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this book for free in exchange
for a fair and honest review.
I was in no way compensated for this post
as a reviewer,
and the thoughts are my own.
Taking The Cross
By
Charles Gibson
PublisherKöehler Books
Pub. Date: October 1, 2014
ISBN: 1940192277

Pages:  269
Genre:  historical fiction
Source: Received
from the publisher for a
virtual book tour on France Book Tours 

Goodreads

Buy the book:

BAM

amazon

BN

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

 

Taking the Cross is a historical novel by Charles Gibson about the little-known crusade launched by the Roman Catholic Church against fellow Christians in France, a time of great religious turmoil and conflict.

In the Middle Ages not all crusades were fought in the Holy Land. A two-pronged threat to the Catholic Church was growing within Christendom itself and Pope Innocent III called for the crusade against heresy to eliminate both the Albigenses and Valdenses, two movements that did not adhere to Church orthodoxy.

Andreas, a knight who longs to go on crusade to the Holy Land, finds himself fighting against one in his French homeland. While Andreas wages war for the lives and religious freedom of his people, a battle rages within his soul.

Eva, a young woman of a new religious order, the Beguines, discovers a secret message within a letter about the death of her father in the Holy Land. As she learns more of her father, she is forced to confront the profound and perilous spiritual inheritance he has bequeathed to her. A legacy for which she must fight.

Hearing of the feats of Andreas, Eva senses her inheritance may lead her to him.

Filled with battles of the flesh and the spirit, Taking the Cross reveals a passionate aspect of Medieval times where some fought ardently for the freedom of others. [provided by the author]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Taking the Cross - Charles GibsonCharles Gibson first started reading about history and geography when he was seven.
He wrote his first short story at the age of nine.
He continues to read and write whenever he can.
Charles has spent many years researching the Middle Ages and the Crusades,
and has traveled to the Languedoc region in France.
He has combined the passions of history and geography and prose to finish his first novel, Taking the Cross.
It takes place during the summer of 1209 in France.
Charles Gibson has previously written for the inspirational book series God Allows U-Turns
as well as for a Minnesota newspaper.
He also works as a project manager for a medical device company.
He also loves travel writing,
and would like to start his own magazine some day about travel as a journey through life.
The dominant theme of his writing is freedom.
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free;
therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

He lives in Minnesota with his lovely wife and energetic sons.
He can be reached at cg [at] charlesgibson [dot] net

Visit his website. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter , Google +

Send him your questions and comments.

 

Buy this title now from these booksellers or a store near you:
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READ MY REVIEW

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DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
BEFORE TOMORROW NIGHT !

Enter the giveaway here

It’s open internationally
There will be 2 winners
print copy for resident of any country!

CLICK ON THE BANNER HERE BELOW
TO READ OTHER REVIEWS, INTERVIEW
AND GET MORE CHANCES TO WIN THE BOOK!

Taking the Cross banner***

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Book review and giveaway: The Sharp Hook of Love – I love France #119

I LOVE FRANCE!

I plan to publish this meme every week.

You can share here about any book

or anything cultural you just discovered related to France, Paris, etc.

Please spread the news on Twitter, Facebook, etc !

Feel free to grab my button,

and link your own post through Mister Linky,

at the bottom of this post.

*******

The Sharp Hook of Love

 

Sharp Hook of Love

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this book for free in exchange
for a fair and honest review.
I was in no way compensated for this post
as a reviewer,
and the thoughts are my own.
The Sharp Hook of Love
By
Sherry Jones
Publisher Simon and Schuster/Gallery Books
Pub. Date: October 7, 2014
ISBN: 978-1451684797

Pages:  384
Genre:  historical/biographical/literary fiction
Source: Received
from the publisher for a
virtual book tour on France Book Tours 

Goodreads

Buy the book:

S&S  |  Amazon  |  B&N  |  BAM  | IndieBound  | Kindle   | iBookstore  | Nook

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

      books-on-france-14   New author challenge    2014 historical fiction

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

Rating systemRating systemRating systemRating systemRating system

Almost a thousand years after their death, I would say Héloïse and Abélard are still the most famous Medieval couple in Europe. Their story has given rise to a massive amount of literature, and it is the source of many works, and myths as well. Unfortunately, it seems their fame is not so widespread in the US, apart from the world of Medieval scholars. So I am really thrilled Sherry Jones decided to introduce her American readers to them through The Sharp Hook of Love. Based on lots of primary and secondary sources, it is a brilliant presentation of their life.
Click to continue reading

Book Club: 5 titles for our September meeting

Recap of our Block Book Club September 2014 meeting

 

Recap of the titles we shared [synopsis from Goodreads.com].

1. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (2002)

presented by A.
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March and Caleb’s Crossing—an unforgettable tale of a brave young woman during the plague in 17th century England

When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated village, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna’s eyes we follow the story of the fateful year of 1666, as she and her fellow villagers confront the spread of disease and superstition. As death reaches into every household and villagers turn from prayers to murderous witch-hunting, Anna must find the strength to confront the disintegration of her community and the lure of illicit love. As she struggles to survive and grow, a year of catastrophe becomes instead annus mirabilis, a “year of wonders.”

Inspired by the true story of Eyam, a village in the rugged hill country of England, Year of Wonders is a richly detailed evocation of a singular moment in history. Written with stunning emotional intelligence and introducing “an inspiring heroine” (The Wall Street Journal), Brooks blends love and learning, loss and renewal into a spellbinding and unforgettable read.


2.
Wyatt Earp: A Vigilante Life by Andrew C. Isenberg (July 2014)

presented by J.

John began his review with a song, and finished by inviting everyone to sing with him.

Finalist for the 2014 Weber-Clements Book Prize for the Best Non-fiction Book on Southwestern America

In popular culture, Wyatt Earp is the hero of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, and a beacon of rough cowboy justice in the tumultuous American West. The subject of dozens of films, he has been invoked in battles against organized crime (in the 1930s), communism (in the 1950s), and al-Qaeda (after 2001).

Yet as the historian Andrew C. Isenberg reveals in Wyatt Earp: A Vigilante Life, the Hollywood Earp is largely a fiction—one created by none other than Earp himself. The lawman played on-screen by Henry Fonda and Burt Lancaster is stubbornly duty-bound; in actuality, Earp led a life of impulsive lawbreaking and shifting identities. When he wasn’t wearing a badge, he was variously a thief, a brothel bouncer, a gambler, and a confidence man. As Isenberg writes, “He donned and shucked off roles readily, whipsawing between lawman and lawbreaker, and pursued his changing ambitions recklessly, with little thought to the cost to himself, and still less thought to the cost, even the deadly cost, to others.”

By 1900, Earp’s misdeeds had caught up with him: his involvement as a referee in a fixed heavyweight prizefight brought him national notoriety as a scoundrel. Stung by the press, Earp set out to rebuild his reputation. He spent his last decades in Los Angeles, where he befriended Western silent film actors and directors. Having tried and failed over the course of his life to invent a better future for himself, in the end he invented a better past. Isenberg argues that even though Earp, who died in 1929, did not live to see it, Hollywood’s embrace of him as a paragon of law and order was his greatest confidence game of all.

A searching account of the man and his enduring legend, and a book about our national fascination with extrajudicial violence, Wyatt Earp: A Vigilante Life is a resounding biography of a singular American figure.

3. I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling With Villains (Real and Imagined) by Chuck Klosterman (2013)

presented by R.

From New York Times bestselling author, “one of America’s top cultural critics” (Entertainment Weekly), and “The Ethicist” for The New York Times Magazine, comes a new book of all original pieces on villains and villainy in popular culture.
Chuck Klosterman has walked into the darkness. As a child, he rooted for conventionally good characters like wide-eyed Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. But as Klosterman aged, his alliances shifted—first to Han Solo and then to Darth Vader. Vader was a hero who consciously embraced evil; Vader wanted to be bad. But what, exactly, was that supposed to mean? When we classify someone as a bad person, what are we really saying (and why are we so obsessed with saying it)? In I Wear the Black Hat, Klosterman questions the very nature of how modern people understand the culture of villainy. What was so Machiavellian about Machiavelli? Why don’t we see Batman the same way we see Bernhard Goetz? Who’s more worthy of our vitriol—Bill Clinton or Don Henley? What was O.J. Simpson’s second-worst decision? And why is Klosterman still obsessed with some kid he knew for one week in 1985?

Masterfully blending cultural analysis with self-interrogation and limitless imagination, I Wear the Black Hat delivers perceptive observations on the complexity of the anti-hero (seemingly the only kind of hero America still creates). I Wear the Black Hat is the rare example of serious criticism that’s instantly accessible and really, really funny. Klosterman is the only writer doing whatever it is he’s doing.

Crossing the Line

4.Crossing the Line (Paris Homicide #2) by Frédérique Molay, Anne Trager (September 2014)

presented by me

It’s Christmas in Paris. Chief of Police Nico Sirsky returns to work after recovering from a gunshot wound. He’s in love and raring to go. His first day back has him overseeing a jewel heist sting and taking on an odd investigation. Dental students discovered a message in the tooth of a severed head. Is it a sick joke? Sirsky and his team of crack homicide detectives follow the clues from an apparent suicide to an apparent accident to an all-out murder as an intricate machination starts breaking down. Just how far can despair push a man? How clear is the line between good and evil? More suspense and mystery with the Paris Homicide team from the prizewinning author Frédérique Molay, the “French Michael Connelly”. This is the second in the prize-winning Paris Homicide series.

Click on the cover to access my full review.

5.Guilty Wives by James Patterson (2012)

Presented by S.
No husbands allowedOnly minutes after Abbie Elliot and her three best friends step off of a private helicopter, they enter the most luxurious, sumptuous, sensually pampering hotel they have ever been to. Their lavish presidential suite overlooks Monte Carlo, and they surrender: to the sun and pool, to the sashimi and sake, to the Bruno Paillard champagne. For four days they’re free to live someone else’s life. As the weekend moves into pulsating discos, high-stakes casinos, and beyond, Abbie is transported to the greatest pleasure and release she has ever known.

What happened last night?

In the morning’s harsh light, Abbie awakens on a yacht, surrounded by police. Something awful has happened—something impossible, unthinkable. Abbie, Winnie, Serena, and Bryah are arrested and accused of the foulest crime imaginable. And now the vacation of a lifetime becomes the fight of a lifetime & for survival. GUILTY WIVES is the ultimate indulgence, the kind of nonstop joy-ride of excess, friendship, betrayal, and danger that only James Patterson can create.

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 HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THOSE?
WHICH ONE IS YOUR FAVORITE?

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