Tag Archives: feminist

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. Review 

Read no further if you haven’t read the first book Outlander as there will be spoilers from the first novel, but none from Dragonfly in Amber

I really enjoyed Outlander where I was swept into the world of Claire and Jamie Fraser. Claire travels back through time to the 1700s where she meets a young highlander Jamie Fraser who she falls in love with. These are hefty books but beautifully written with amazing language, wonderfully put together passages of language. 

We return to this world in Dragonfly in Amber but twenty years on, Claire is back in the 1960s with a grown up daughter, returning to Scotland to reveal several truths that will blow the worlds of those near to her wide open. But fear not avid readers, we return to Claire’s memories to find out what happened next in her love saga with Jamie.

This sequel has all the passion of the first book in the series but tinged with sadness, knowing that Claire is back in present day means that the reader is second guessing how this could have happened and what may happen next. Some of the old friends and foes return and in places it’s a case of life and death! It’s another bulky novel but it doesn’t feel that way because of how engrossed you become in the storyline and needing to know what happens next. 

From a historical fiction lover’s viewpoint, I was really enamoured with understanding the rising of ’44 and the historical perspective not only of Bonnie Prince Charlie who I had heard of but never really studied, but also the court of the Parisian King Louis and his followers. It was interesting to see how much more advanced the French were in those days than the English. For example, I’m sure this doesn’t count as a spoiler but there is a very funny scene where Claire’s French friend gets her to wax her legs and armpits and Jamie’s reaction to this is just hilarious. I can’t wait to start Voyager

The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory. Review 

This was perhaps my favourite of the Tudor Plantagenet series by Philippa Gregory. It tells the story of the three Grey sisters. Jane who is otherwise known as the 9 day queen and the only one I’d actually heard of, and her sisters Katherine and Mary who were equally persecuted by a bitter and attention seeking brat, I.e Elizabeth I. 

The Last Tudor is not as we would initially think about Elizabeth I herself which is what I expected, but instead about the other remaining Tudor’s Jane, Katherine and Mary. 

The novel is split into three parts with each sister narrating each section in order of age. Jane of course was well known (so hopefully no spoilers) as the young queen forced onto the throne after King Edward’s untimely death and 9 days later is thrown into the tower under arrest as Queen Mary takes her throne back. Jane was of course beheaded for treason. 

The story then takes up with Jane’s younger sister Katherine, a seemingly frivolous girl who loves animals especially her little monkey Mr Nozzle. Always cheerful she marries for love, seeing herself as doing no wrong and yet encountering Elizabeth’s wrath. The same goes for Mary the youngest of the sisters and a little person. She too marries for love only to be imprisoned herself and pushed far from court, but it is she who is bravest and endures the most at the hands of the spiteful ruler who expects attention only for herself.

I really enjoyed this novel because I think that as people we often idolise the Tudors. They were the first monarchs I learnt about in school and of course Mary and Elizabeth were the first queens to rule as a female monarch and not the wife of a king. It was interesting therefore to see another take on it where Elizabeth is shown as actually rather a B*tch! Her obsessive behaviour, her refusal to stand up for anything and to Convict people who she saw as a threat not only to her throne but to her own life as the ‘virgin’ queen. All she really wanted was to be the most beautiful and most admired. 

I really felt passionately like I hated Elizabeth! While I felt unsympathic towards the pious (and slightly annoying) Jane Grey, I felt the true passions, loved, hopes and dreams of Katherine and Mary and felt like writing to William Cecil for their release myself! 

As always with Philippa’s books she educates, mixing fact with a little fiction to make the characters come to life, while reminding us that these events are ones which truly happened in England’s past. A book which truly makes you think. 

The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory. Review 

It all started with The Cousins War or at least it did for, my love of Philippa Gregory came when I cut my teeth on the White Queen, The Red Queen, Lady of the Rivers etc. Then of course the story began to merge with the Tudors. With the release of The Last Tudor (check back for a review on that coming soon) it made sense that I should finally get around to reading The King’s Curse. It’s a pretty hefty novel coming in at over 500 pages, and rightly so as it details the long life of one of the forgotten players in the Tudor/Plantagenet history; Margaret Pole. Beloved tutor of Princess Mary and friend to Queen Katherine of Aragon. 

Margaret saw a lot in her 67 years, a long time to live in those days. This story picks up after the fall of the Plantagenet family from the Royal Household and Margaret’s undying loyalty to her cousin the Queen, married to Henry VII. Margaret was a key player in the Tudor’s story, Prince Arthur lived with her and her husband until his death, she became friends with, and defended Katherine of Aragon and fell constantly in and out of favour with both Henry VII and Henry VIII, fearing constantly that death and danger were stalking her family because of their name, and their royal blood. 

Through Margaret’s eyes, we watch the child Prince Harry, first turn the half destroyed and neglected kingdom around from his father’s rule, to becoming the harsh tyrant who ripped apart the church, the faith of the country and tore down the monasteries, not to mention the divorcing, beheading and casting aside of his wives in his obsession to beget a male heir on one of them. We see the bitter, twisted control of the Boleyn family as they strive for greatness through the vicious Anne, a very different perspective from the one given by Anne and her family in Philippa’s earlier book. 

The novel, despite being long, is well put together and it is clear, as always that Philippa Gregory has considerably researched her subject. Although some of the storyline is not known to be completely factual (this is a work of fiction after all), Philippa does use rumours and presumptions as well as modern scientific and medical research to form her opinions and plots. 

I really enjoyed this, as I do all of the Plantagenet / Tudor hybrid novels, I’m just sad that after The Last Tudor it will all be coming to an end! 

Launching a New Book Product! 

Hi everyone, thanks for visiting my blog again! 
Just a quick post from me today to say that after a long time thinking about it I’ve decided to go ahead and launch my own book related product!! It’s really exciting but before I can proceed I need to do some research into what my potential customers would like to see and the sort of cost they would expect to pay. Subsequently I’d really appreciate it if you could take 2 minutes to take my survey 

July Wrap Up 2017 

I read 25 books this month and in the fashion of Kristin at Kristin Kraves Books I’m going to give the total pages as well: 7,736 

So here goes! I’ll not go into descriptions as there’s just too many! But I’ll give a sentence or two for each. 

Frostblood & Fireblood by Elly Blake. There are two types of people here those that fight with frost and those who fight with fire. There’s action romance and plenty of wit! 

The Wind on Fire trilogy by William Nicholson. I read these as a child and they were just as good now! The Manth people combat different evils in the search for thei home land. Dystopian. 

The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black. 3 children are drawn into a magical world unseen by everyone else and battle ogres and goblins to save the world. 

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Girl travels back in time to 18th century Scotland where she embarks on an adventure with a hunky, kilt wearing Scotsman. 

The Break by Marian Keyes. Relationship breaks down when husband goes on a break, cue Marian’s unique style of humour. 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. The loneliest girl in the world learns how to make friends. 

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks. Boy puts things in a magic cupboard and they come to life! 

Final Girls by Riley Sager, girl survives murder only to be targeted by another killer. 

The Girl Who Came Back by Kerry Wilkinson Girl goes missing and comes back years later, is it really her though? 

Rusticles by Rebecca Gransden beautifully put together short stories with phantasmagoric themes. 

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz. Author gets installed in his own story and becomes embroiled in a murder mystery. 

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin the tale of one of the great monarchs of the 20th century. 

The Friend by Dorothy Koomson a woman is embroiled into a mystery around an attempted murder and poisonous friendships. 

The Overneath by Peter S Beagle a gorgeous collection of short stories from the author of The Last Unicorn. 

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine. A woman and her family on the run become the target of a murderer. 

Storm Front by Jim Butcher a series about a wizard detective. 

Friend Request by Laura Marshall a woman becomes the victim of a stalker who appears to be an old friend who died at school. 

House of Shadows by Nicola Cormick. After the disappearance of her brother a woman finds herself embroiled in a historical mystery, a time slip between present day and Stuart England.

July Book Haul 

Where has this month gone?? Not a huge one this month and it’s going to be getting much smaller as I’m trying to read the books I have before I buy anymore, we’ll see if I stick to that though! 

So here we go! I hauled 27 books this month including ARCs. 

The Friend by Dorothy Koomson 

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz 

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo 

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo 

Frostblood by Elly Blake 

Fireblood by Elly Blake 

The Diabolic by SJ Kincaid 

Final Girls by Riley Sager 

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine 

Friend Request by Laura Marshall 

The Break by Marian Keyes 

The Overneath by Peter S Beagle 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman 

Gilded Cage by Vic James 

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris 

Orphan Sisters by Lola Jaye 

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon 

My Not so Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella 

Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare 

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill 

Above Suspicion by Lynda La Plante 

Good Friday by Lynda La Plante 

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris 

Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas 

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas 

Forgotten YA Gems 

I decided to write this post as I’ve recently bought loads of my old childhood books to read again, it made me think about what my favourite books were and a conversation with my lovely friend (and author) Lauren McNeil made me realise that not only could I help other people remember their favourites but I could also recommend some oldie but goodie fantasy novels which may have become ‘forgotten’. So here are a few of my favourites from my official ‘YA’ time I hope you find some that you remember and maybe some new ones to enjoy too! 

The Prophecy of the Gems by Flavia Bujor was a book which stayed with my all my life because Flavia wrote this book when she was only 13!! 13 and she had a published novel, as an aspiring teen writer she was my idol! Anyway, the premise is three girls; Amber, Opal and Jade who are chosen to fill an ancient Prophecy on the fourteenth birthdays. The girls set out on a quest in a magical realm called Fairytale. Magic rules there and evil is completely unknown… meanwhile in the real world, or a parallel universe as it is known in the book, a young girl named Jo is in a coma and dreaming of three girls completing an epic quest, only armed with their magical stones. Fairytale’s fate lies with them… 

Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism was a firm favourite of mine growing up although I only read the first two. Molly lives in an orphanage and isn’t treated very well, when she finds a book of Hypnotism her life changes dramatically for the better and the fun really begins. 

The World of Chrestomanci by Dianna Wynne Jones. This is a 6 book series of which I read the first four and now have the last two to read. Magic, mayhem, rules about magic, parallel worlds, doppelgängers, this series has it all and it’s wonderfully magical from start to finish. 

The Wind on Fire Trilogy by William Nicholson, I’ve just finished re-reading there and they were just as awesome the second time round. The Manth people live in the shadow of the Windsinger which no longer sings after they were attacked by the Morah. But twins Bow and Kestrel set out to save the day and bring the Windsinger’s voice back. 

The Arthur Series by Kevin Crossley-Holland. If you like your action packed stories with a hint of magic and fortune telling them these are the Arthur book for you, blurring the lines between children and adult fiction these are a great alternative tale to the traditional Arthurian Legends. 

I probably don’t need to actually say that this is forgotten,  because I know there’s loads of other Le Guin fans out there but believe it or not some people genuinely haven’t heard of her or her amazing books. This is absolutely one of my favourite series. This series follows the story of the wizard Ged (same name as my boyfriend by the way complete coincidence I promise). Ged who becomes known as Sparrowhawk, is a talented magician and soon becomes an archmage. There’s plenty of good vs evil and the series has been described as on a par with Tolkien and CS Lewis. 

The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle is an absolute classic and really appeals to any age! It’s also an amazing film and one of my absolute favourite books and films of all time. The story of a Unicorn who believes she is the Last Unicorn in the world. Cue an epic adventure involving a bumbling magician and a King’s curse. 

The Earthaven Series by Katherine Roberts begins with Spellfall which is a wonderful story of magic and curses, kidnapping, spells and an enchanted world full of spell Lords and giant giant soul trees. The follow up book Spellspring was published 15 years later in 2016. 

The Magician’s House Series by William Corlett, three siblings find themselves in a mysterious house for the school holidays where they enter The Magician’s House and a world of magic unfolds. The children become the Magician’s students and epic adventures begin. 

Another series that perhaps doesn’t need to be listed under ‘forgotten’ especially with the new one coming out in October (yay!) but this is another of my absolute favourites. His Dark Materials what I loved most about the series is the fact that everyone has a Dæmon, a little animal which belongs to them, like their soul but on the outside. Lyra travels around her parallel world to save her friend. 

The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix. Surprisingly few people have read Hess or even heard of them and yet I personally consider Garth Nix to be one of the greatest authors in the genre of all time. Sabriel, Lireal, Abhorsen were all books I read when I was younger and I have since happily enjoyed Across the Wall, Clariel, Goldenhand and To Hold the Bridge.  The Old Kingdom are fantastic tales of an amazing fantasy world where evil is close and visits to death are like visits to the local shop.

Not exactly Fantasy but definitely YA the Sally Lockhart Series by Philip Pullman is another great series by this author. Set in Victorian London these are stories of mystery, penny dreadfuls, opium dens and the dark secrets of Asian culture at a time when it was pretty much unknown. Absolutely fascinating. They’re engrossing I’ll warn you! 

Finally Artemis Fowl I only ever read the first three books although I see now there have been many others. Eoin Colfer’s twelve year old millionaire, genius protagonist mixes science and futuristic technology with magic for an eclectic but fascinating story. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of my favourites and hopefully reconnected with some of yours. Please feel free to comment your own recommendations!