The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou by Susan Higginbotham

The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou by Susan Higginbotham

A man other than my husband sits on England’s throne today.

What would happen if this king suddenly went mad? What would his queen do? Would she make the same mistakes I did, or would she learn from mine?

Margaret of Anjou, queen of England, cannot give up on her husband-even when he slips into insanity. And as mother to the House of Lancaster’s last hope, she cannot give up on her son-even when England turns against them. This gripping tale of a queen forced to stand strong in the face of overwhelming odds is at its heart a tender tale of love. (Goodreads)

Margaret of Anjou is married to Henry VI with hopes of making peace between England and France. But Margaret won’t find her life easy in England; the peace doesn’t succeed, people won’t trust her because she’s French and her being unable to produce heir doesn’t help. When she finally gives birth to a boy after 8 years, rumours starts guessing who the father really is. Then there is Richard, Duke of York, who believes that he has stronger claim to the throne and when Henry goes mad, he believes he’s the right man for the job.

I have to say that I wasn’t fan of the multiple POV’s at first but I grew used to it. I loved Hal’s and Edward’s povs the best.. We see rather innocent and frightened Margaret to grow to a strong woman but she seemed little too goody at times. Some faults wouldn’t have hurted. But I loved how Edward was portrayed. He was quite adorable and not just blood-thirsty brat. And got some laughs over Anne and Edward, she was such a tactful woman!

Margaret and the mices was hilarious! And for the first time I could keep the dukes of Somerset in order! I always confuse those guys…

I really enjoyed the book and it was great to read from Lancastrian point of view for change.

4/5
Published: Sourcebooks Landmark (2011)
Format: ARC
Pages: 345
Source: publisher

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner

The truth is, none of us are innocent. We all have sins to confess.

So reveals Catherine de Medici in this brilliantly imagined novel about one of history’s most powerful and controversial women. To some she was the ruthless queen who led France into an era of savage violence. To others she was the passionate savior of the French monarchy. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner brings Catherine to life in her own voice, allowing us to enter into the intimate world of a woman whose determination to protect her family’s throne and realm plunged her into a lethal struggle for power.

The last legitimate descendant of the illustrious Medici line, Catherine suffers the expulsion of her family from her native Florence and narrowly escapes death at the hands of an enraged mob. While still a teenager, she is betrothed to Henri, son of François I of France, and sent from Italy to an unfamiliar realm where she is overshadowed and humiliated by her husband’s lifelong mistress. Ever resilient, Catherine strives to create a role for herself through her patronage of the famous clairvoyant Nostradamus and her own innate gift as a seer. But in her fortieth year, Catherine is widowed, left alone with six young children as regent of a kingdom torn apart by religious discord and the ambitions of a treacherous nobility.

Relying on her tenacity, wit, and uncanny gift for compromise, Catherine seizes power, intent on securing the throne for her sons. She allies herself with the enigmatic Protestant leader Coligny, with whom she shares an intimate secret, and implacably carves a path toward peace, unaware that her own dark fate looms before her—a fate that, if she is to save France, will demand the sacrifice of her ideals, her reputation, and the passion of her embattled heart.

From the fairy-tale châteaux of the Loire Valley to the battlefields of the wars of religion to the mob-filled streets of Paris, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is the extraordinary untold journey of one of the most maligned and misunderstood women ever to be queen. (Goodreads)

I absolutely loved The Last Queen when I read it and I’m glad I wasn’t disappointed with this either!

Catherine de Medici is leaving Italy to marry Henry, second son of French King François I. But Henri is on love with his older mistress Diane de Poitiers and doesn’t seem to care about Catherine at all. She feels lonely but she does befriend the king. Things gets better after years of waiting she delivers a boy. But it’s only after Henri’s death she becomes to her power.

She fights hard to secure the crown for her son(s) and keeping the dynasty alive. We see her growing from naive girl to powerful woman with capacity for compassion and understanding. And who also knows how to make people fear.

I loved how Gortner describes St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and how Catherine is involved with it. And how the things got to that point.

I love how Gortner is able to humanize Catherine and to show there were reasons to what she did. She made mistakes but she tried to do her best. And it wasn’t easy juggling between Catholics and the Huguenots.

The only quibble I had was that I’d liked to have something on the author’s note about Catherine and Coligny. But that was the only thing.

I just loved this book and can’t wait to read more from him!

5/5
Published: Ballantine Books (2010)
Format: ARC
Pages: 397
Source: won at a giveaway

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

The Red Queen (The Cousins’ War 2) by Philippa Gregory

The second book in Philippa’s stunning new trilogy, The Cousins War, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series – The White Queen – but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses. The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England. Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth’s daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty. (Goodreads)

Margaret Beaufort wants to devote her life to church but is instead maried off to Edmund Tudor when she is 12. He dies soon after that but manages to get her pregnant before that. After her son Henry is born, Margaret devotes her life to get him on the throne.

I don’t think I’ve ever hated any character so much as I hated Margaret! By page 60 I just wanted to stab her. She think she is England’s Joan of Arc ans is here to deliver England from the Yorkist. I got it, she’s pious person and loves to spend time in praying. I don’t need to be reminded of it on every page. And what up with Margaret and her “saint’s knees”? I read that way many times.

I think the book suffer from first person narrative. Margaret spends most of her time in the countryside and much of the happenings must be told in letters. I

All in all I enjoyed The White Queen more than this. I just couldn’t stand Margaret and it took a lot from the reading.

2,5/5
Published: Simon & Schuster UK (2010)
Format: Hardback
Pages: 432
Source: library

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls 2) by Maggie Stiefvater

Grace and Sam must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping dangerous secrets. For Sam, it means grappling with his werewolf past …and figuring out a way to survive the future.

But just when they manage to find happiness, Grace finds herself changing in ways she could never have expected… (Goodreads)

Sam has found a cure that keeps him as human but his problems aren’t over yet. Grace’s parents seems to hate him more every time and then there’s Cole, one of the new wolves Beck made in the last book. And Grace gets fever but feels that it’s not just ordinary fever…

I’m glad to say that I liked this as much as the previous one! The book is told from 4 point of views: Grace, Sam, Isabel and Cole. I think it was great addition to hear the story from Isabel’s and Cole’s side too. Isabel seems more “humane” since last book, she’s gone through a lot since her brother died and feels guilty. At first I thought Cole was just an ass but I grew to like him.

After Grace’s parents finds Sam sleeping with Grace they freak out and starts trying to get some control over the situation. In Shiver they were never there and acted more like a teenager than Grace and then suddenly they think that Grace is supposed to do like they say. No, I don’t have kids and I understand how Grace felt about that one.

I enjoyed this but I didn’t have that same feeling that I need to know right now what’s gonna happen. But still very quick read!

Can’t wait to read Fever!

4/5
Published: Scholastic (2010)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 420
Source: library

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls 1) by Maggie Stiefvater

When a local boy is killed by wolves, Grace’s small town becomes a place of fear and suspicion. But Grace can’t help being fascinated by the pack, and by one yellow-eyed wolf in particular. There’s something about him – something almost human. Then she meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away…

A chilling love story that will have you hooked from the very first page. (Goodreads)

Grace is attacked by wolves when she is 11 and is rescued by a wolf with yellow eyes. She becomes rather obsessed with wolves and particularly with the yellow eyed one.
After a boy is attacked by the wolves, people starts hunting them. When a boy, Sam, with yellow eyes shows on Grace’s porch with gunshot wound she knows it’s her wolf.

I have to say I liked this much more than I thought I would. After all the hype I feared I’d be disappointed but I did enjoy it.

The book is told by Grace’s and Sam’s point of view. I rather liked to see the story from two sides and even the pov switches didn’t annoy me.
I liked how she did the weather thing with wolves. When it’s warm they can can shift and become human and when it’s cold stay as wolves.

Sam was bit too wishy-washy at times, and made really bad lyrics, but I thought he was so sweet. But his yellow eyes made me think Micah from Anita Blake every time. I couldn’t help it!

It was actually hard to put away at times and I’m happy I already have the next book!

4/5
Published: Scholastic (2009)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 437
Source: library

Miss Hildreth Wore Brown: Anecdotes of a Southern Belle by Olivia deBelle Byrd

Miss Hildreth Wore Brown: Anecdotes of a Southern Belle by Olivia deBelle Byrd

While Olivia deBelle Byrd was repeating one of her many Southern stories for the umpteenth time, her long-suffering husband looked at her with glazed over eyes and said,“Why don’t you write this stuff down?” Thus was born Miss Hildreth Wore Brown—Anecdotes of a Southern Belle. If the genesis for a book is to shut your wife up, I guess that’s as good as any.  On top of that, Olivia’s mother had burdened her with one of those Southern middle names kids love to make fun.  To see “deBelle” printed on the front of a book seemed vindication for all the childhood teasing.  With storytelling written in the finest Southern tradition from the soap operas of Chandler Street in the quaint town of Gainesville, Georgia, to a country store on the Alabama state line, Oliviade Belle Byrd delves with wit and amusement into the world of the Deep South with all its unique idiosyncrasies and colloquialisms.  The characters who dance across the pages range from Great-Aunt LottieMae, who is as “old-fashioned and opinionated as the day is long,” to Mrs. Brewton, who calls everyone “dahling” whether they are darling or not, to Isabella with her penchant for mint juleps and drama.  Humorous anecdotes from a Christmas coffee, where one can converse with a lady who has Christmas trees with blinking lights dangling from her ears, to Sunday church,where a mink coat is mistaken for possum, will delight Southerners and baffle many a non-Southerner. There is the proverbial Southern beauty pageant, where even a six-month-old can win a tiara, to a funeral faux pas of the iron clad Southern rule—one never wears white after Labor Day and, dear gussy, most certainly not to a funeral.  Miss Hildreth Wore Brown—Anecdotes of a Southern Belle is guaranteed to provide an afternoon of laugh-out-loud reading and hilarious enjoyment. (goodreads)

I’ve never laughed so hard while reading! This was absolutely hilarious! The book contains 41 short stories about childhood, motherhood and life in general in the South. I loved the writing style which was very down to earth.

My favorite was Directionally Challenged. I can totally relate! I have no idea which way to held a map and can’t for the life of me to tell which way if North and which South.

I truly recommend this if you want to read something light and funny. Quaranteed to give you good laugh!

4,5/5
Published: Morgan James Publishing (2010)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 176
Source: from author for review

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles 1) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen. She struggles to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. Ethan Wate finally meets the girl who haunts his dreams. On her birthday, she must choose good or evil. In a town with no surprises, this secret could change everything. (Goodreads)

Lena moves to Gatlin to live with his uncle and ends up in pretty much middle of nowhere where you’re an outsider if you’ve lived there for 50 years. She meets Ethan who has been having dreams about this girl who’s face he never sees but when Lena shows up, he realises it her. He finds out that Lena is a Caster (witch) and on her 16th birthday something bad is gonna happen.

I was fearing this would be too YA and it kinda was. I liked that it was dark but it went little too overboard. Especially the first half was just I’m soo alone here, no one understands me kind of crap. Only thing that was missing was suicidal thoughts. Of course the cheerleaders were straight from Mean Girls.

It was refreshing that it was from male’s point of viw but unfortunately I just didn’t feel any connection with him, nor with Lena. The people I liked was Lena’s uncle Macon and Ethan’s great-aunts.

After all this bashing I have to say the second half was better. It took too long to actually start but after that there was parts when I was curious what would happen. So I ended giving 3 instead 2.5.

3/5
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2010)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 563
Source: library

The White Boar by Marian Palmer

The White Boar by Marian Palmer

Richard III, last of the Plantagenet Kings, could condemn the author of that crude doggerel to a traitor’s death but he could not stem the inevitable tide of history. Richard’s emblem, the white boar, commanded the loyalty of able men like Lords Catesby (the Cat) and Ratliff (the Rat), and Francis Lovell (our Dog). It could not withstand the onslaught of the Tudor rose.

The White Boar is a dramatic historical novel that vividly recreates the life and times of England’s controversial King Richard III. Shakespeare portrayed him as evil incarnate, a hunchback who gained the throne by murdering his two nephews. Conversely, many historians argue that he was an innocent scapegoat and might have been one of history’s great monarchs had his reign not been so tragically short.

In this novel one issue concerning Richard’s life is never in doubt – that he held the unfaltering devotion of two extraordinary men, Phillip and Francis Lovell. And it is through their eyes that the reader of this remarkable book sees the last Plantagenet – the man and the King.

Marian Palmer presents a striking chronicle of England in the last half of the fifteenth century: the pomp and pageantry of the royal court; the treason and the intrigue which were the death of the Plantagenet dynasty; and the bitter struggle between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians that was the War of the Roses.

The author does not offer a solution to the riddle of Richard III; rather she presents him as he might have appeared in his own lifetime to the two men who were, above all else, his friends. The character which emerges is as unforgettable as Shakespeare’s misshapen monster. (Goodreads)

The story is told by the Lovell cousins Philip (pretty sure he’s fictional) and Francis. Francis is given is wardship to Warwick and goes to Middleham. There he meets Philip after long time and for the first time sees Richard, Duke of Gloucester. There’s lot more going on but I don’t even try to tell it. Wikipedia is your friend.

I did enjoy this but it was bit dry on points and some of the phraisings does show the book’s age. But I liked how the characters were described, especially Richard. He was neither too good or too bad. I loved how Anne Neville’s rescue was portrayed.

It was nice to read that Francis and his wife Anna had their happy moments. They are always portrayed hating each other and while this either didn’t end happily there was some good too.

4/5
Published: Hodder & Stoughton (1969)
Format: hardrback
Pages: 374
Source: my own

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

Drums of Autumn (Outlander 4) by Diana Gabaldon

It began in Scotland, at an ancient stone circle. There, a doorway, open to a select few, leads into the past—or the grave. Claire Randall survived the extraordinary passage, not once but twice. Her first trip swept her into the arms of Jamie Fraser, an eighteenth-century Scot whose love for her became legend—a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child. Her second journey, two decades later, brought them together again in frontier America. But Claire had left someone behind in the twentieth century. Their daughter, Brianna….

Now Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the stone circle and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she is risking her own future to try to change history…and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past…or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong…. (Goodreads)

Jamie and Claire lives now in America They have some lands in the middle of wilderness and they’re ready to settle to “normal” married life. The local Indians are relatively peaceful and Jamie’s nephew Ian becomes good friend with them.

In the 20th century Brianna is trying to find what happens to his parents. She’s also coming closer to Roger Wakefield, who helped Claire to trace Jamie. When Brianna finds old newspaper article about her parents she decides to go through the stones without telling Roger. When Roger finds out she has left, he’s determined to find her.

Yet another godd book by Gabaldon! I enjoyed it but still thought it to be the weakest book in the serie so far. But that doesn’t mean it was bad! I just found Roger so utterly boring. And there were too many pages from his point of view. He seemed more interesting in the future time.

I liked to see how Brianna and Jamie got to know each other and their relationship grow. AndI liked how well she get along with John Grey. But I didn’t understand how John could be so uninterested about his wife’s death.

The one thing I could have lived without was Brianna getting raped. I just didn’t see the point of it…

4/5
Published: Dell (1997)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 1070
Source: my own

Child of the Northern Spring by Persia Woolley

Child of the Northern Spring (Guinevere 1) by Persia Woolley

In an age alive with portents and magic, a spirited young beauty rode out of the rugged Celtic lands to wed the great warrior king, Arthur. Now, at las, Guinevere herself unfolds the legend.

Born a princess, raised to be a queen, Guinevere traveled the length of England protected by the wise enchanter Merlin. As Britain struggled out of a long darkness, scattered armies raised the cry for war and old gods challenged the new in combats mortal and immortal. And Guinevere encountered her destiny in the fabled dreams of her king. She would reign as High Queen of all Britain, but her most perilous adventure was yet to come…the journey from royal innocent to passionate lover. (Goodreads)

Story starts when Guinevere is a child, the Romans has left and the Saxons are coming. Arthur isn’t King yet and there is no round table. I liked that there’s no dragons, magic or anything like that but it’s more based on fact.

I like that Guinevere is strong and independet who loves horses but the first half of the book was rather boring. It gets better after she mets Arthur. And the time jumps were annoying! I don’t like when time jump happens and it’s not clearly stated and you spend 2 pages wondering what the hell is going on.

This was a good start in a series and I’m curious to see how the story continues and hoping there’s more action in the future!

3/5
Published: Poseidon Press (1987)
Format: Hardback
Pages: 428
Source: my own