The Taming of the Queen
by Philippa Gregory Published by Simon and Schuster
on August 25th 2015 Genres: Fiction
, Romance Pages:
Kateryn Parr, a thirty-year-old widow in a secret affair with a new lover, has no choice when a man old enough to be her father who has buried four wives – King Henry VIII – commands her to marry him.
Kateryn has no doubt about the danger she faces: the previous queen lasted sixteen months, the one before barely half a year. But Henry adores his new bride and Kateryn's trust in him grows as she unites the royal family, creates a radical study circle at the heart of the court, and rules the kingdom as regent.
But is this enough to keep her safe? A leader of religious reform and a published author, Kateryn stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own. But she cannot save the Protestants, under threat for their faith, and Henry's dangerous gaze turns on her. The traditional churchmen and rivals for power accuse her of heresy - the punishment is death by fire and the king's name is on the warrant...
His last wife. The luckiest of them all. Kateryn Parr, Queen of England.
I wasn’t a big fan of the last two Philippa Gregory books I read (one of them being a DNF if I can remember). In fact, I was about to quit reading her works altogether because they didn’t seem to catch my interest anymore. But I gave her another shot.
The Taming of the Queen follows Kateryn’s rise to the throne and the turmoil of life being married to a man of many thunderous moods. She’s the wife I know the least about and I enjoyed reading about her life. But my biggest issue, what kept me from really loving the book, was that Kateryn was being overshadowed by her passion for Thomas Seymour. I felt her desire for learning, scholarship, reformation was underwritten compared to the longing for Thomas’ love and safety. I get it. She loved him. But to reduce her to that…I don’t know. *shrug*
Three Sisters, Three Queens
by Philippa Gregory Published by Touchstone
on August 9th 2016 Genres: Fiction
, Thrillers Pages:
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory, the little-known story of three Tudor women who are united in sisterhood and yet compelled to be rivals when they fulfill their destinies as queens.As sisters they share an everlasting bond; as queens they can break each other’s hearts… When Katherine of Aragon is brought to the Tudor court as a young bride, the oldest princess, Margaret, takes her measure. With one look, each knows the other for a rival, an ally, a pawn, destined—with Margaret’s younger sister Mary—to a unique sisterhood. The three sisters will become the queens of England, Scotland, and France. United by family loyalties and affections, the three queens find themselves set against each other. Katherine commands an army against Margaret and kills her husband James IV of Scotland. But Margaret’s boy becomes heir to the Tudor throne when Katherine loses her son. Mary steals the widowed Margaret’s proposed husband, but when Mary is widowed it is her secret marriage for love that is the envy of the others. As they experience betrayals, dangers, loss, and passion, the three sisters find that the only constant in their perilous lives is their special bond, more powerful than any man, even a king.
Three Sisters, Three Queens follows the stories of three women as they live and fight through life-shattering ordeals of love, loss, and the whims of powerful men. Queen Katherine, Queen Margaret, and Queen Mary shared many things in common, but their fates proved much different.
I think I’m completely burned out on Philippa Gregory’s books. They’re not as good as I remember. And this one was, admittingly, a challenge to finish. It was so long and dull. I wasn’t a fan of how Margaret was written. She was insufferable. Actually, there weren’t many characters who weren’t annoying in some way. Her first husband was the most interesting.
I know the book is supposed to show their bond as sisters and queens, but I didn’t get that impression. Katherine is put on a pedestal of sorts (in Margaret’s mind) while Margaret spends most of the book trying to prove herself and be better than Katherine solely for her own satisfaction. And Mary was mostly a nonentity, spending frivolous letters to Margaret. It felt like a waste of time.
Hate to say it…but Wikipedia has a lot more spunk. I haven’t given up on PG’s books yet, but I still can’t help but be hesitant.
Helen of Sparta
by Amalia Carosella Published by Lake Union Publishing
on April 1st 2015 Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology
, Literary Pages:
Long before she ran away with Paris to Troy, Helen of Sparta was haunted by nightmares of a burning city under siege. These dreams foretold impending war--a war that only Helen has the power to avert. To do so, she must defy her family and betray her betrothed by fleeing the palace in the dead of night. In need of protection, she finds shelter and comfort in the arms of Theseus, son of Poseidon. With Theseus at her side, she believes she can escape her destiny. But at every turn, new dangers--violence, betrayal, extortion, threat of war--thwart Helen's plans and bar her path. Still, she refuses to bend to the will of the gods.A new take on an ancient myth, Helen of Sparta is the story of one woman determined to decide her own fate. The sequel to Helen of Sparta will be published by Lake Union Publishing in May 2016.
An ethereal beauty born of Leda and Zeus, Helen of Sparta is a young princess famed for her magnificent features which no other mortal woman can rival. To onlookers, it seems Helen has everything she could ever want. However, Helen suffers from mistreatment and bitterness from her own mother and is expected to marry Menelaus even against her will. Worse yet are the nightmares of a foreign prince and a war at her expense. A famed hero by the name of Theseus seems like the answer to all her problems, perhaps even her loneliness, but life with him is not without new troubles.
I found Helen of Sparta to be an interesting read since I’ve never before read anything to do with Helen as a central character. This book gives us a look into how she might have felt and what she might have wished for in her life before Paris and the Trojan War. I’ve never really considered what she was like before becoming Helen of Troy. I liked seeing her as a person rather than an attractive prize to be fought over. As for how she is portrayed, I think I liked her character and she is not as perfect in personality as she is in beauty. She is both strong and at times weak, but admirable in her struggles.
I’m still contemplating over the book and the characters, but Theseus was another one that I liked. He was also perfectly flawed in that there were moments I wanted to tell him that he was too old for his own selfish, reckless decisions. I’m back and forth with my attitude about their relationship, some moments I like their relationship and other times it’s just ‘iffy.’ Overall, I did like them and I’m dreading what will eventually come next for the two. On a side note, Theseus should pick better friends.
I’m looking forward to reading book two, By Helen’s Hand, but at the same time dreading what will happen next.
The Mapmaker's Children
I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review.
by Sarah McCoy Published by Crown/Archetype
on May 5th 2015 Genres: Contemporary Women
, Literary Pages:
When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril. Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance. Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.
I was a little hesitant when starting The Mapmaker’s Children because more often than not I tend to dislike alternating point of views if they’re not done too well, especially when it comes to stories that are taking place in the past and present. That being said, I really enjoyed this book and it worked perfectly, keeping my interest throughout the three hundred pages (I wish the font was bigger).
Sarah Brown and Eden seemed to have only an infertility problem in common at first, but their stories unfold and I could see how these two different women, from very different times could intertwine and make such an interesting story. I personally loved Sarah’s chapters a lot more because I found the historical aspects more interesting than some of Eden’s life. Although, despite not going through the same trials and dangers as Sarah Brown, Eden was also a woman who had endured through pain and despair. They’re both strong.
The Mapmaker’s Children is a must read for any historical fiction lover or someone who likes really interesting reads such as this.
by Hermione Eyre Amazon Published by Crown/Archetype
on April 14th 2015 Genres: Fiction
, Visionary & Metaphysical Pages:
“Using an alchemy all of her own, Eyre’s postmodern take on the 17th century renders it dazzlingly fresh and contemporary.” —Guardian (UK) Venetia Stanley was the great beauty of her day, so dazzling she inspired Ben Jonson to poetry and Van Dyck to painting. But now she is married, the adoration to which she has become accustomed has curdled to scrutiny, and she fears her powers are waning. Her devoted husband, Sir Kenelm Digby—explorer, diplomat, philosopher, alchemist— refuses to prepare a beauty tonic for her, insisting on her continued perfection. Venetia, growing desperate, secretly engages an apothecary to sell her “viper wine”—a strange potion said to bolster the blood and invigorate the skin. The results are instant, glorious, and addictive, and soon the ladies of the court of Charles I are looking unnaturally youthful. But there is a terrible price to be paid, as science clashes with magic, puritans rebel against the decadent monarchy, and England slides into civil war. Based on real events and written with anachronistic verve, Viper Wine is an intoxicating brew of love, longing and vanity, where the 17th and 21st centuries mix and mingle in the most enchanting and mind-bending ways. From the Hardcover edition.
It’s always a shame to DNF a book, but here’s my latest.
The cover is what initially drew me to Viper Wine (my cover is a little different than this one). Give me a pretty cover and I’ll try to read almost anything. Historical Fiction usually always works for me, but this one wasn’t the case. The writing was beautiful at times, although sometimes there were descriptions that were a bit awkward. I really could not get into the story and the modern references just weren’t my thing, so I couldn’t make myself push through the entire book. It was by far the most bizarre Historical Fiction I’ve ever come across, so it is very unique. If you like quirky books, try reading this.
The Girl in the Road
by Monica Byrne Published by Crown/Archetype
on May 20th 2014 Genres: Fiction
, Science Fiction
, Visionary & Metaphysical Pages:
A debut that Neil Gaiman calls “Glorious. . . . So sharp, so focused and so human.” The Girl in the Road describes a future that is culturally lush and emotionally wrenching. Monica Byrne bursts on to the literary scene with an extraordinary vision of the future. In a world where global power has shifted east and revolution is brewing, two women embark on vastly different journeys—each harrowing and urgent and wholly unexpected.When Meena finds snakebites on her chest, her worst fears are realized: someone is after her and she must flee India. As she plots her exit, she learns of the Trail, an energy-harvesting bridge spanning the Arabian Sea that has become a refuge for itinerant vagabonds and loners on the run. This is her salvation. Slipping out in the cover of night, with a knapsack full of supplies including a pozit GPS, a scroll reader, and a sealable waterproof pod, she sets off for Ethiopia, the place of her birth.Meanwhile, Mariama, a young girl in Africa, is forced to flee her home. She joins up with a caravan of misfits heading across the Sahara. She is taken in by Yemaya, a beautiful and enigmatic woman who becomes her protector and confidante. They are trying to reach Addis Abba, Ethiopia, a metropolis swirling with radical politics and rich culture. But Mariama will find a city far different than she ever expected—romantic, turbulent, and dangerous. As one heads east and the other west, Meena and Mariama’s fates are linked in ways that are mysterious and shocking to the core. Written with stunning clarity, deep emotion, and a futuristic flair, The Girl in the Road is an artistic feat of the first order: vividly imagined, artfully told, and profoundly moving.
The briefest brief review:
There was a lot of hype surrounding The Girl in the Road. The writing itself was good although confusing. A good deal of people really enjoyed the book, so don’t let me discourage you if you may be interested in reading it. Unfortunately, I could not force myself to finish the book. The story started off slow and was, again, confusing. There were things that happened that made me really uncomfortable (like the molestation of a young girl). I tend to try to give all books a chance, but I just could not finish The Girl in the Road.