Tag Archives: historical

Paper & Fire by Rachel Caine. Review. 

Please be aware that this review while not containing spoilers for this book, will contain spoilers for the first book Ink and Bone. 

Paper and Fire picks up where Ink and Bone left off and it’s a great sequel! Jess and friends are still reeling from the events of Ink and Bone, their friend Thomas was killed, their other friend and sort of Jess’ girlfriend; Morgan has been imprisoned in the Iron Tower of the Obscurists and Jess no longer knows who he can trust. Especially when a routine training excercise of his company in the High Garda turns sour. 

This book is another teaser at what the library may contain, what secrets are hidden inside its walls and what the people at the helm will do to protect it. It is a story of friendship and relationships that are stronger than those of blood. In a world full of secrets it’s impossible to know who can be trusted and who would just as soon Knife you in the back. It’s down to Jess and his friends to fight the library to the bitter end. 

I love that this series is all about books, it’s such a great concept and it’s easy to see that it’s taken some inspiration for the onslaught of ebook readers on the market today. I find the premise incredibly engaging and interesting, sometimes the second book in a trilogy can read like a ‘filler’ and be a bit flat but that is not the case with this one at all. I can’t wait for Ash and Quill now. 

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier. Review 

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier is, like Rebecca a novel of thrilling mystery and distrust and unexpected twists and turns. 

Philip Ashley has lived with his elder cousin Ambrose since he was small, they have always had each other, their collection of male servants and the love of the people who live around their estate. There has never been the need for a woman in their lives. That is until Ambrose goes to Florence and meets their mysterious cousin Rachel, and marries her. 

When Ambrose dies under suspicious circumstances, Philip is determined to reep revenge on the woman he blames for his death. But when she turns up on his doorstep he finds that his feelings for her are quite different. 

The novel makes you want to scream with frustration at the naïveté of some of the characters, while wanting to bash the heads in of others at the same time. It is equally, if not more darkly gripping than Rebecca. Although it’s left for you to decide if Rachel is guilty or not, I think it was great to see people getting their just desserts in the end for once. Really enjoyed this suspense filled novel of love and betrayal.

The Girl of Ink & Stars by Karen Millwood Hargrave. Review 

‘And the wolves? The deer?’ 

Da’s face would darken. ‘Seems the sea was better than what they were running from.’ 

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Karen Millwood Hargrave is winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and it’s easy to see why. 

Beautifully written and engrossing, we are drawn into the world of Isabella, daughter of a cartographer and living in the tiny village on the island of Joya which is cut off from not only the rest of the world but the rest of their island after a controlling governor moves in and prevents them from leaving. 

Isa loves the maps her father creates and while he dreams of boarding a ship to begin exploring the rest of the world again, Isa secretly dreams of mapping the rest of the island which is cut off from their small village. 

Despite being a short book, the world building is very effective. The world of the book is very similar to our own, Europe becomes Europa, China is Chine, America is Amrica etc. 

Isa is a passionate and worthy heroine, only 13 years old but caring and considerate of others, fiercely loyal to those she loves and strong in her views of how the world should be. 

Despite technically being a children’s book, this novel is equally interesting to adult readers who love folklore and fairytale retellings, although it is not a retelling as such it does have elements of myth and legend and it proves an engrossing read which is suitable for adults and children alike. 

The Virgin of the Wind Rose by Glen Craney 

Glen recently contacted me to ask me to review his newest novel The Virgin of the Wind Rose and I have to admit I was highly intrigued by the subject matter. The real identity of Christopher Columbus? It’s definitely a line which draws you in. 

The storyline is a bit hard to grasp at first due to there being many different puzzle pieces fitting together and being narrated seperately. 

Jaq is a rookie state department lawyer enjoying her life and embracing her religion, when she suddenly receives devastating news which leads her to the male dominated lands of Ethiopia to investigate a murder. 

Here she teams up with the mysterious antiquities thief Elymas to find the one relic which will rebuild Solomon’s Temple. 

Meanwhile many centuries before, a parallel story runs in Portugal. A young boy named Pero gets involved in the oldest secret societies; Portugal’s Order of Christ. Keen to begin exploring the seas Pero gets involved with the reclusive Prince Henry the Navigator. 

The story flits back and forth between past and present as the ‘real’ identity of Christopher Columbus is finally revealed. The reader soon starts to realise that there is a connection between the real CC and the modern day second coming of the Messiah. 

The writing is heavily detailed, it’s engaging but not an easy read. At time the detail feels a little too much, but there is so much history and build up entwined in there that it’s definitely worth it. 

The writer is correct in saying that this is a story for lovers of Dan Brown or anybody who loves the history of religion. 

Reading Challenge 2017

I’ve decided to take part in the 2017 reading challenge. The idea is to inspire my readers and followers with 26 different books every 2 weeks for the whole year. It starts off with week 1: A Book You Read in School. 

It was a difficult choice but I’ve decided on Spies by Michael Frayn which I read for my GCSE English literature. 

A book which explores both human mistakes and the fallible nature of memory it is engrossing despite being aimed more at children than adults. 

Set during WWII, the narrator and his friend decide to play a game of spying. They pretend that the friend’s mother is a German spy and it’s up to them to stop her and bring her to justice. As you may expect things don’t exactly turn out to be as innocent as they first seem. Very quickly the story changes from aimed at children to a mysterious murder mystery full of shocking revelations, leaving the reader reeling. 

Three Sisters, Three Queens. Philippa Gregory. Review 

I must admit I was a little disappointed with this one. I read all of the Tudor Court series while I was on holiday last week and I was surprised at how interesting and captivating I found them. But what I loved most about the earlier ones is that Philippa took a woman who was perceived in history as to be nothing better than the wife of a king and then turned her into a powerful feminist image. Except for Catherine Howard who was just an idiot. 

Anyway, this one focuses on three queens (as the title suggests) but mainly of Queen Margaret of Scotland, sister to Henry VIII. The other two are Katherine of Aragon Queen of England and Queen Mary of France the other sister of Henry VIII. The whole of the novel is told from the point of view of Margaret. In one sense it’s a very interesting read. Margaret is not a hugely famous figure in history, overshadowed of course by her brother Henry. So from a historical point of view it was an eye opener. 

So what spoilt it? What made it different from the others? Frankly Margaret was a spoilt brat. While Katherine and Mary developed a loving friendship, all Margaret cared about was competing with them. She had to be higher in the ranks that Mary. She couldn’t follow Katherine’s train. There was no way they should have better fashion, better children, better husbands, better anything than her. She just acted like a spoilt brat the whole time. This unfortunate character trait made her very unlikeable and therefore, I found it impossible to empathise with her when things went wrong. 

I understand the need to tell Margaret’s story but I think personally it could have worked better as a stand alone novel and not part of the Tudor series. Mary’s part was very insignificant and barely touched upon other than a lot of letters she wrote to Margaret about clothes. As for Katherine everything we learned about her was what we already knew from The Constant Princess. 

The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick. Review 

Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for my ARC. 
This book was surprisingly brilliant. I say surprisingly because I must admit that while it appealed to me (obviously as I requested it), I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a little and think ‘not another novel set in Tudor times’. This may have something to do with the fact that I’ve packed the whole of Philippa Gregory’s Tudor Court novels to take on holiday with me. 

However, I was pleasantly surprised. This book was such a page turner. I literally couldn’t put it down! 

The Phantom Tree follows the story of Alison Banestre an orphan in the 16th century who ends up staying at Wolf Hall with her relatives the Seymours and specifically her cousin Mary Seymour daughter of the ex-Queen Katherine Parr. What follows is a tale of time travel, Magic, history and romance both in this century and the past. 

I think what really won me over with this book was the author’s ability to write something which was not in anyway cliched or ridiculous when it was a topic which frankly could have been. Time travel is something which has to be handled very carefully and it was great to see how well it was dealt with and also to see it turned on its head. Here we aren’t talking about someone who who travelled back in time but instead travelled forward and actually coped and adjusted to the modern world. That was the true magic in this story.w

The characters were both engaging and likeable and the language understandable and not overly ‘olde english’ as is often the case with historical novels. 

This is definitely up there as one of my reads of this year. Highly recommended!