I am a former stay-at-home mom who has given up her hopes and dreams of becoming a professional reader. I now spend my days showing small children how to play games on computers. Right now I'm living vicariously through my 9 year-old who is reading everything she can get her hands on.
There is just something about older historical fiction. Whether it's Barnes, Plaidy, or Seton, there is just something about the writing style that most modern historical fiction misses. I just can't imagine any of my grandchildren reading anything by Philippa Gregory and commenting on the serenely, lyrical way Gregory sets a scene. Because she doesn't. That's a story for a different time folks.
One of the things I enjoy most about books set during this time period is seeing how the authors deal with some of the more controversial happenings of the day. In this instance, the characterization of Richard III and the mystery surrounding to what happened to the Princes in the Tower. Barnes deals with both in a believable manner. Richard III isn't some hunchbacked, snarling, fork-bearded bad guy bent on ruling with an iron fist. He's not an overly romanticized nice guy by any means. Does Barnes believe Richard III to be responsible for the death of Edward V and his younger brother Richard? Absolutely. She uses the Tyrell argument which some might find weak. However, it's important to take into account when this book was written. That was the primary theory at the time. Barnes doesn't try to argue anything from left field. She works with the evidence as presented at the time. She's not trying to re-invent the wheel. It works for this story.
One of the other things I enjoyed about Barnes' storytelling was the manner in which she portrayed Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII. Personally, I think Margaret tends to be over vilified. She was a product of her raising and the times. She held to her faith in God and her son. Do I think she was a little overbearing as a mother-in-law? As someone who knows a thing or two about an overbearing mother-in-law, yes. Margaret probably was a bit much to handle. Do I think she was as easy going and loving as Barnes wants us to believe? Not quite. I don't think you get to where Margaret got in life by being full of sunshine and daisies. I also wasn't a huge fan of how Barnes continued to try to convince me that Beaufort was head over heels in love with her first husband and Henry's father, Edmund Tudor. Margaret knew the man for all of five minutes before he made her pregnant and then died after being captured in battle. She was 12 when they were married. Trying to convince me she was head over heels in love with the man is going to take a lot of work.
If I'm going to compare Elizabeth of York stories, I will say I like Plaidy's interpretation just a tad better. Barnes' Elizabeth comes off a little weak and at times flighty. However, her love for England and her family can never be doubted. Overall, it's a pleasant story and makes for an enjoyable, light read.
A list of things I am suppose to be doing instead of this:
1.) Laundry- Always laundry
2.) Potentially paying attention to my children- They have Legos and Play-Doh. They don't need me
3.) Finishing invoices and taking inventory after being at sales events all weekend
4.) Figuring out how badly all of these new f'n tax laws are going to screw me over- My accountant is probably going to kill me
Other things I will probably do instead of any of the above things:
1.) Make another pot of coffee- How am I suppose to do any of the other things without more coffee?
2.) Update all of my reading challenges
3.) Schedule Facebook posts for my business
4.) Take a look the spirit schedule for the week and figure out how to wear yoga pants to work for the next four days
Let me start by saying this book is not anything I would normally pick for myself. It has all of the characteristics of a books I avoid. Some of those things include over-promotion on sites like Amazon and Goodreads (which makes sense because they are the same) or books classified as romance. I'm not a huge romance reader. I'm just not.
So then why did I read this book? It was gifted to me two years ago in a secret Santa book swap. One of my reading goals this year is to read more of my unread books on my physical bookshelves. I'm plotting a trip to my favorite used bookstore in the near future. Worst case scenario, I don't like the book and I can trade it for something else on my trip.
This wasn't a bad book. I have definitely read worse and I have most definitely read better. However, I made the mistake of reading reviews at about the halfway mark. I try really hard not to read too many reviews about a book I am currently reading. Occasionally when I am on the fence about if I want to finish a book, I will see if any friends have read the book and read their reviews. In this case a lot of friends have read this particular book. Most of them mentioned how this novel was a re-telling of the Beauty and the Beast story. After digesting this nugget of information, the story telling became predictable. I was hoping for at least one plot twist but it never came. I was hoping that with this book being part of a larger series, the end would not be one of those happy endings wrapped with a big bow. This bow was big and it glittered.
Maybe at this point you are asking yourself "How did you give a book three and a half stars when it doesn't sound like you really liked it?"
That's an excellent question. Here's my answer- The writing wasn't terrible. Once I was through the first 100 pages, things took off. The plot moved along quick enough to keep my interest. The heroine wasn't overly whiny but at the same time she wasn't really anything special. Although I found myself confused about why she would find herself attracted to Tam in the first place. In my defense, I wonder that every time my children watch Beauty and the Beast. Don't get me wrong, gifting me a library would probably get you something but not a life long-head over heels-leave my family- kind of commitment. At the end of the novel, I found myself wondering why this book hasn't been created in to a cheesy movie franchise. It certainly has all of the necessary requirements along with the potential for Hollywood to get it all wrong.
At the end of the day what does all of this mean? Not much. Will I pick up the next book in the series? Maybe when the day comes that my oldest daughter wants to pick up this series. It seems like it could be an entertaining mother/daughter buddy read. For now, I'm returning to my regularly scheduled mystery and historical fiction reading channel.
I'm guessing this will pick up at some point.
Honestly, I don't have very high hopes going into this book. It's everything I tend to stay away from. However, it was a gift and I'm trying really hard to clear my physical bookshelves. The high school student who babysits my children has already claimed it if I don't like it.
Sarah Perry is an author who has been recommended to me by more than a few like minded readers. This book and her most recent release Melmoth were featured on a shelf at my local library. If we are being honest, I only picked The Essex Serpent because I need a book featuring a plant on the cover for a reading challenge task.
The blurbs on the book (which I never really take too seriously) suggest this to be a gothic style novel. I have not actually read a lot of gothic novels so I can't speak to whether or not this fits the genre. Was it a little dark and foreboding? A little. It was dramatic but not the intense, mysterious kind of drama promised when one reads the premise of the book. It was more high school drama in Victorian dress. I don't mean that to be a negative thing. At least not in this instance.
I was drawn to the author's writing style even if I didn't think much of the story. Something about her way with words made me want to sit down and devour the book whole. I had to pace myself while at the same time making sure I was going to have enough to time to sit down and read more than a few pages without interrupting. The way the book was broken up into parts and then by months made pacing easier.
At the end of things, I would have liked to see fewer characters. There was potential for some amazing characters but the constantly alternative povs and the sheer number of people involved made it difficult to really flesh anyone particular person out. The constantly diverted attention really did a disservice to Cora and William. I came away finding both of them a tad on the shallow side. I think if the author had taken the time to give the more attention and development, they could have been memorable characters.
I will be picking up Melmoth in the near future to see if the author's style evolves.
If you want a mindless, name-dropping, romp through 1880's New York City, this book is perfect. If you want something to whittle away the hours while watching the snow fall, this book is perfect. Will this book get you through the two days you are stuck indoors with your children while they temperatures drop to a feels like of -65 degree, no. For that you need wine. Lots of wine. And a book with substance.
Fortunately for me, I have dozens and dozens of books to get me through the next two days. My wine supply? Well, I might need some higher being interference.
Anyway, this book wasn't awful but it really wasn't great. The mystery gets lost in all of the names. The author clearly wants to impress the reader with his knowledge of America's new status as an industrial powerhouse. We are quickly introduced to people like J.P. Morgan, Thomas Edison, and Nicola Tesla. Somewhere in the middle of all the squabblings of the smart and the rich, there's a mystery where Miss Mary Handley has to prove she's just as good as the men. Mary does all of the things you would expect from a heroine trying to break down gender barriers. However, I will admit to be a little surprised by the mystery's outcome
Will I give the next book in the series a try? Probably. Only because it seems I'm going to have time on my hands. I'm also curious to see how many other names the author can drop into 300 pages.
I'm starting to wonder if this is a novel or just a who's who of 1880's New York City. So far we've met Edison, Tesla, J.P. Morgan, and the Pemberton's. I've heard about electricity, wine with cocaine, and pop (Soda from those of you outside of Minnesota who use the wrong word.) At this point there's more commercials than the Super Bowl.
Part of me wants to take the time to do the research to figure out if all of these people were actually in New York for the blizzard of '88. The other part of me wants to keep reading and see if Mary actually gets to solve a mystery or not.
Apparently I've been reading this book since October. I guess that's not really surprising since I was reading it using the Kindle app. I struggle to read e-books. I have no logical reason for it. I just do. It takes me months to finish books that might normally take me weeks or days.
There was nothing wrong with this book. At the same time, I didn't think there was anything great about this book either. Honestly, I think it's difficult to expect much from a book told about people we know so little about. That being said, I think the author was able to describe the conditions and emotions of the English people in the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings and the rise of Duke William to King of England.
The book is about Edith, wife of Harold Godwineson (Harold II). She's Harold's wife but not really. The church never recognizes their marriage as legit so she is only ever referred to as his handfasted wife. Roll credits. *If any of you watch Cinema Sins on YouTube, you get that reference.* The author refers to Edith as Elditha to keep the reader from being confused. Names like Edith and Emma are to the 11th century what names like Mary and Elizabeth are to 16th century. I'm not going to lie, I have zero issues with an author who elects to change the spelling of a name for the sake of the reader. I really hate having to draw out a character map while I'm reading so I can keep track of everyone. For the most part, I liked Elditha. After Harold's defeat at the hands of William of Normandy, she does what she feels is necessary to keep herself and her children from the Normans. This involves some sneaking around at night and several close encounters.
All in all, I found Elditha to be courageous and admirable. Then I made the mistake of reading the author's notes. I understand that history is written by the winners. I understand that very little is known about people of the time, especially women. I understand that our greatest source of information is the Doomsday Book which is only slightly biased. I understand all that. However, it still felt like a complete slap to the face to read the author admit that while she did immense amounts of research, she still had to make up quite a bit of Elditha's story. While it's possible these things did happen, it's highly unlikely that they actually did. Again, I understand this is a risk I take when I read historical fiction from a certain time period. It doesn't make the blow any easier to accept.
All of that being said, I'm going to read the other two books in the trilogy. I have them in e-book format so expect it to take me the rest of 2019.
There was a moment when I didn't think I would finish this book. I was about half way when I found myself asking, "What is keeping me entertained?" Honestly, nothing was keeping me entertained. Stubbornness alone kept me going. That seems to be a constant theme in my life. Ask my mother.
I will admit to knowing very little about Indian culture. Perhaps if I had a better understanding of Indian mythology, I might not have found the book to be such a trial. I did find myself involved enough with the characters to want to push forward. That combined with the fact that it's been deathly cold and snowing for the last two days was enough incentive to push me to the end of this book.
So how do I justify a four star rating when it doesn't sound like I even liked the book? It took me 16 days to get through the first 3/4 of the book. It took me three hours (Constantly interrupted, hours. Stupid Mondays when kids aren't in school.) to get through the last 1/4. The end of this novel was riveting. Enough so that I might go ahead and pre-order the next one.
I will admit to being a huge Tudor enthusiast. I can name all of Henry's wives, Mary's priests, and Elizabeth's potential husbands. It seems odd that I know so little of Francis I whose own rule intersected with Henry VIII's in so many ways. With that in mind, I was immediately intrigued when I saw this book featured on my library's new release shelf.
While, I found this book to be an interesting read, describing as a biography of how Francis created modern France is a little misleading. The author spends most of the time focusing on the relationship between Francis and Charles V of Spain. A lot of time is devoted to their various campaigns against each other in attempts to control portions of Italy and southern France. Henry VIII comes to play once in a while but he is by no means the major player most Tudor biographers would have you believe him to be.
The author spends very little time on any kind of policy or trends Francis created in France. She does take time to name names regarding the various artists (including DaVinci), Francis patronized. However, there is not much time spent on describing any kind of influence those artists had on Francis or France as a whole. That is something I would have like to have been given more information about.
Overall, if you are looking for an introduction to Francis I, this book works. I'm currently taking suggestions if anyone has any good books that delve a little deeper into how he ran France and/or his family life (specifically his own children).
I had all of these wonderful dreams of a summer spent reading and blogging. It's almost July. Neither of those things seem to be happening.
As I am starting my third year at my job, my new boss has decided it's time for me to actually do something. Seriously, what a buzz kill. This means I've spent the first two weeks of my "summer vacation" at various training sites. I spent three days out of state at Google school. Sure hotel rooms without my children that I don't have the clean are fantastic. However, at the end of the day, I miss my kids and I can only eat so much pizza. I have no scheduled training dates in July so fingers crossed.
My best friend is preparing for deployment. The last time she deployed, I said I was having a baby for her when she came back. That was when I had my twins. You might say I literally had a baby for her to take home when she came back. There are several days when I send her a text reminding her I'm still waiting for her to take delivery on her baby. Anyway. This time she has decided she wants to get married before she deploys. Her fiance is in her unit. They will be deployed together. It only makes sense. Well what's more military than a 4th of July wedding on a military base? The problem is, she has been out of state playing war games so I have been playing wedding planner. The chaplain who was suppose perform the ceremony backed out suddenly. Now instead of being wedding planner/matron of honor, I am wedding planner/wedding officiant. I pulled a Joey from Friends and became an internet ordained official. It just might be the coolest and most exciting thing I've ever done. To quote my mom "If anyone was going to pull a stunt like this, it would be you two. The only shocking thing is that you aren't marrying each other."
I also have my summer side hustle involving the selling of lipstick. I'm not going to shamelessly self-promote here but if you want more information........I have more information ;)
So, I'm still here. My girls start two weeks of swimming lessons after the 4th. With two hours poolside, maybe I'll have some time to catch up on my reading.
My nine (nearly 10) year-old wants to read mystery books.
So.......give me your best suggestions for mystery books for a fourth grader.
She's reading Trixie Belden. So far has no interest in Nancy Drew or Boxcar Children.
I'm open to suggestions.
Once upon a time, ribbons were sewn around condoms to help courtesans know what size they were. Apparently you did not want a yellow ribbon.
I'm telling my husband this and he stops me mid-sentence.
"So they poked holes in them? To put ribbons in them?"
"That's my understanding."
"The first thing every guy in college learns is that you only want one hole in your condom."
"What's the second?"
"When in doubt, use two."
Meghan Markle has a lip biting husband who tells her how amazing she looks. Mine is telling me about condoms and college boys. I think it's safe to say we are out of the newlywed phase.
I am electing not to mark spoilers in this review. I feel the events of the novel are prominent historical events that the majority of readers should be familiar with.
As excited for this book as I was, I was also hesitant to read it. As I understand things, this is the final book in the Gordianus the Finder series (Roma Sub Rosa). I'm just not quite ready to give Gordianus up despite the fact that he seems to have acquired a few more years than most Romans of the age. The author has been releasing prequel novels. However, none of those novels have really been any good.
If you are coming into this book expecting the traditional Gordianus mystery, you are going to potentially be disappointed. There is a mystery in this novel but it doesn't make an appearance until about the last 100-75 pages. The novel revolves around Caesar and his death. There's no mystery there. Everyone knows how Caesar dies. Everyone knows who killed Caesar. Saylor still managed to make me care and maybe even convince me that just maybe this was an alternate history. Maybe Caesar didn't really die.
It is difficult to make the events of the Ides of March take a backseat. Saylor manages to put Caesar's assassination in the way back. Cinna takes a front seat in this story. Cinna's work and his death are the star of this show. If you aren't sure who Cinna (the poet) is and where he stands in Roman history, I would strongly recommend doing a little bit of background research before starting this book. I must confess I had heard the name but wasn't sure exactly who Cinna was. I had to pause my reading to do some of my own research.
While the author has said there are no plans for more Gordianus novels, there was a door left open at the end of the novel for a spin off. I'm not going lie, the idea of a spin-off doesn't thrill me. The prequels were enough of a flop that I'm not sure I'm interested in anything other than Gordianus as "the Finder".
"Aren't you going to bed?"
"I need to find out how Caesar dies."
"What? You know how Caesar dies. You have a t-shirt all about how Caesar dies. You just wore it. You even stabbed Caesar yourself when you played Assassin's Creed."
"I need to see how Caesar dies from Gordianus' point of view. It's different."
"How many different ways can a man be stabbed?"
At this point, I think I've spent more time on the footnotes than I have on the actual book. Name the last book you read with footnotes that were more interesting than the book. I know I can't.
Another one of my favorite things about this book is the way the author will kind of go off and be like "Hey, don't get too attached to this guy. He's not going to make it to the end of this book. Also, watch out for this guy. He's planning something."