Rosie’s #Bookreview of Award Winning Small Town #Fiction Olive Kitteridge by @LizStrout #TuesdayBookBlog

Olive Kitteridge: The Beloved Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novel by [Strout, Elizabeth]Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

4 stars

Best selling, acclaimed novel Olive Kitteridge includes a series of vignettes about people who are all connected to the eponymous retired teacher. Set in the north east coastal region of America, the book dips in and out of the lives of various members of a small town community.

Through the interactions of the characters, the reader gets to know more about Olive. During her latter years, we see changes in her as she reflects upon her own life and the choices that she made.

At times I found moving onto a new character a little frustrating, especially when I wasn’t ready to leave the previous one, though that shows how absorbing I found each tale. When writing this review I asked myself how best to sum it up. I thought about a tree; Olive is the trunk and the characters are the branches and twigs; all part of the one, but connected to the trunk.

I can’t say that I liked Olive, but I did go a fair way to understanding her. I felt sorry for the way she treated some of her friends and family. But if any book has you wanting to know more, which I did, about several of the characters, it shows that the author knows how to bring a person to life.

Overall a character driven novel about the lives of those from just one of the many small towns across America. With the main character being retired and several others of similar age, this book may not suit younger readers.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Olive Kitteridge might be described by some as a battle axe or as brilliantly pushy, by others as the kindest person they had ever met. Olive herself has always been certain that she is 100% correct about everything – although, lately, her certitude has been shaken.
This indomitable character appears at the centre of these narratives that comprise Olive Kitteridge. In each of them, we watch Olive, a retired schoolteacher, as she struggles to make sense of the changes in her life and the lives of those around her – always with brutal honesty, if sometimes painfully. Olive will make you laugh, nod in recognition, as well as wince in pain or shed a tear or two. We meet her stoic husband, bound to her in a marriage both broken and strong, and her own son, tyrannised by Olive’s overbearing sensitivities. The reader comes away, amazed by this author’s ability to conjure this formidable heroine and her deep humanity that infiltrates every page.

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Olive Kitteridge: The Beloved Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novel by [Strout, Elizabeth]

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Art Heist #Thriller MARKED FOR REVENGE by @JSAauthor

Today’s team review is from Robbie, she blogs here https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Robbie has been reading Marked For Revenge by Jennifer Alderson

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This is the third book I have read in the Zelda Richardson series which I find quite unique as a whole due to its focus on the world of art museums in the Netherlands. Ms Alderson describes the artworks that feature in her stories with rich clarity which I really enjoy. She clearly has an extensive knowledge of this subject which she shares in an interesting and entertaining way and makes me long to visit the art museums in the Netherlands.

Zelda has is finally coming together. She has a paying job in a local museum as a researcher, her relationship with Jacob is going well and she has a great apartment in a building inhabited mainly by artists. She has befriended on of the artists, a young Croatian woman called Gabriella, and has even started making her own stained glass windows again. Life couldn’t be better until a series of brazen art thefts starts rocking the art world in the Netherlands.

Skilled and daring thieves break into the poorly secured museums around the country and steal a selection of rather unusual artworks. They do not take the most valuable and well know pieces, but rather the more obscure artworks by famous artists. A card saying the art has been taken by Robber Hood due to the poor security of national treasures is left behind at each location.

When Gabriella suffers a diabetic collapse in front of Zelda who takes her to her apartment to administer her insulin, Zelda sees what she believes to be a copy of one of the stolen pieces together with an in-progress copy on Gabriella’s easel. She is attacked by a visitor to Gabriella’s apartment while she is still there and incurs a serious head injury which affects her memory, making it unreliable.

Soon after Zelda returns to work, her museum becomes a victim of Robber Hood and due to various circumstances surrounding her attack and what she thinks she saw in Gabriella’s apartment, Zelda becomes a suspect and is suspended from her job. She teams up with a well-known art theft private investigator hired by the museum to find the missing art and sets of on an adventure to clear her name and find the missing artwork before it disappears forever.

This is my favourite of the Zelda Richardson series so far. The character of Zelda has matured and become a bit more of a thinker and a planner. I enjoyed the step up in her relationship with Jacob and the introduction of a bit of a more stable romance which in no way detracted from the main storyline. All in, a well research, well written and entertaining read.

Book description

An adrenaline-fueled adventure set in the Netherlands, Croatia, Italy, and Turkey about stolen art, the mafia, and a father’s vengeance.

When researcher Zelda Richardson begins working at a local museum, she doesn’t expect to get entangled with an art theft, knocked unconscious by a forger, threatened by the mob, or stalked by drug dealers.

To make matters worse, a Croatian gangster is convinced Zelda knows where a cache of recently pilfered paintings is. She must track down an international gang of art thieves and recover the stolen artwork in order to save those she loves most.

The trouble is, Zelda doesn’t know where to look. Teaming up with art detective Vincent de Graaf may be her only hope at salvation.

The trail of clues leads Zelda and Vincent on a pulse-pounding race across Europe to a dramatic showdown in Turkey that may cost them their lives.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #PostApocalyptic #Horror #ShortStory CONGEAL by @john_f_leonard

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Congeal by John F. Leonard

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4.5 stars

Another fine novella that fits perfectly into the limited space – I do appreciate writers who understand how to use the shorter format so well.

Amelia had a happy life with a man she loved, but then the Clag arrived; now she’s stuck in a deserted city with a guy she can’t stand, as nasty slimy stuff from the deep bowels of the earth rises up to swamp the world….

Having just read two post apocalyptic novels that centred round human relationships and practical survival, Congeal underlined to me how many subsections this genre has; this one is far into the ‘horror’ end.  Amongst its many strengths, I liked the short, sharp prose style, so appropriate for the horror and despair of Amelia’s situation, though not without dry humour.  I also enjoyed that those in the group with whom she found herself trying to survive―a standard in all PA stories―were not all of the likeable, resourceful, charismatic variety, as they so often are; indeed, Pete, Maurice, Yvonne and the others were types she would have avoided like the plague (pun intended) in real life.

A good ending, too―I had no clue about Amelia’s fate, even by 95%.  Anyone who has read the author’s recent novella The Bledbrooke Works will enjoy the connection between the two, but both are entirely stand alone.  Oh, and one more thing – in the flashbacks to Amelia’s pre-apocalypse life, she refers to her mother as ‘Mom’, several times.  As she is English, living in England, and her story is written by a British author, I questioned this – out of place American English is one of my ‘ouches’, but apparently it’s a Birmingham-Irish thing, as well. Just making this point, in case it’s one of your ‘ouches’, too.

Book description

It starts with reports on the news of an inland lake turning semi-solid.
Surely, a media joke, some lame April Fool’s prank?
The before and after pictures are vaguely ludicrous and oddly disturbing, the contrast stark and strange.
First, darkly rippling water that hints at hidden depths. Slightly spooky and perfectly normal. Next, a putrid blotch of clotted sludge which bears little resemblance to anything aquatic.

It isn’t a joke.
And pretty soon, that greasy, sickening substance isn’t confined to an inland lake.
It’s spreading. Flowing over fields and filling streets.
Each morning brings a new revelation. Countryside denuded of life and towns empty and echoing.
The night is when it changes, becomes something that consumes. Something infinitely worse than a congealed impossibility.

CONGEAL is a short tale of apocalyptic horror. How the world ends may not be how you expect. Nuclear Armageddon or a zombie apocalypse could get beaten to the punch.
Our apocalypse may come from below.
An ancient, cosmic entity bubbling up to the surface in search of food.
It’s also the story of one individual and her fight to stay afloat in a sea of despair.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #RegencyRomance The Work Of Art by @MimiMatthewsEsq

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading The Work Of Art by Mimi Matthews

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Phyllida Satterthwaite is presented to us surrounded by a cacophony of misbehaving dogs, all of whom she owns and cares about. Insisting on bringing them to the London home of her uncle Edgar Townsend, she must soon find a husband to provide for her, now she is penniless.  It is apparent that she puts animals before people and she seems unaware of her beauty, only thinking herself odd because of her mismatched eye colours.  But for one person, the Duke of Moreland, she is a work of art, which he wishes to add to his collection.

It might have gone according to Townsend’s plan had it not been for the noble actions of Captain Arthur Heywood, but what use is he, so badly injured from the battle of Albuera that he can hardly walk. Yet Arthur and Philly are drawn together because they don’t fit into the artificial society of Regency London.  Arthur fears a terrible fate will befall Philly and he is prepared to use his wealth, and power to keep her safe.  But can there be a happy ending?  Arthur is damaged, physically and mentally, while Philly is an innocent, gentle girl who longs for independence and a safe place to look after her animals.

As with all Miss Matthews’ novels, it is the conversations between hero and heroine which catch the imagination. As love grows, problems increase. Philly is still in danger and Arthur is not fit enough to protect her.  There are credible misunderstandings and a complex plot but the intimacy of this delightful couple is such a pleasure to read.

Book description

An Uncommon Beauty…

Hidden away in rural Devonshire, Phyllida Satterthwaite has always been considered more odd than beautiful. But in London, her oddity has made her a sensation. Far worse, it’s caught the eye of the sinister Duke of Moreland–a notorious art collector obsessed with acquiring one-of-a-kind treasures. To escape the duke’s clutches, she’s going to need a little help.

An Unlikely Hero…

Captain Arthur Heywood’s days of heroism are long past. Grievously injured in the Peninsular War, he can no longer walk unaided, let alone shoot a pistol. What use can he possibly be to a damsel in distress? He has nothing left to offer except his good name.

Can a marriage of convenience save Philly from the vengeful duke? Or will life with Arthur put her–and her heart–in more danger than ever?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #NonFiction ARTHUR: Shadow of a God by Richard Denham @britanniaseries

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Arthur: Shadow Of A God by Richard Denham

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I have read all of Richard Denham’s Britannia Series and enjoyed them immensely – they are fascinating historical fiction with attention to true detail. Arthur: Shadow of a God is quite different. Here we have an in-depth analysis of the possible reality of a British king called Arthur and the possible truth that he was not a man at all but became a god, based on Celtic tales and Druidic traditions.

A historical fiction novel this is not! What it is: a compilation of research done by the author in an attempt to define who Arthur really is, based on research of ancient texts and stories. Nevertheless, this is not a dry book. Its contents are fascinating!

Like most people, I have been drawn to stories of Arthur since childhood, and I always believed he was real. The author digs for his reality in the history of Britain before, during and after the Roman occupation based on previous scholarly consensus that Arthur was a Romano-British warlord. That worked for me until it became obvious from this book that much of the research on which this idea was based is guesswork – guesswork compounded by a lack of archeological information and fact-based sources from what would have been his time. The magical swords, wizards, dragons and faeries interweaving Arthur’s story added to my doubt. Do you see Arthur as a knight in shining armor? Such men, mounted on destriers and armed with swords and lances are the stuff of medieval times!

What was evident to the author, based on many sources and his own scholarship, is that Arthur is a god in the appearance of a king, drawn from Celtic folklore and Druidic tales handed down orally from generation to generation. Legend and myth, human imagination and perhaps a longing for such a hero combined to produce Arthur.

If you are as fascinated by King Arthur as I have always been, then you need to read this book. It is rich in detail and peels away, like the layers of an onion, all of the mystery surrounding him to get to the truth. It is your choice to believe or not!

Book description

King Arthur has fascinated the Western world for over a thousand years and yet we still know nothing more about him now than we did then. Layer upon layer of heroics and exploits has been piled upon him to the point where history, legend and myth have become hopelessly entangled.

In recent years, there has been a sort of scholarly consensus that ‘the once and future king’ was clearly some sort of Romano-British warlord, heroically stemming the tide of wave after wave of Saxon invaders after the end of Roman rule. But surprisingly, and no matter how much we enjoy this narrative, there is actually next-to-nothing solid to support this theory except the wishful thinking of understandably bitter contemporaries. The sources and scholarship used to support the ‘real Arthur’ are as much tentative guesswork and pushing ‘evidence’ to the extreme to fit in with this version as anything involving magic swords, wizards and dragons. Even Archaeology remains silent. Arthur is, and always has been, the square peg that refuses to fit neatly into the historians round hole.

Arthur: Shadow of a God gives a fascinating overview of Britain’s lost hero and casts a light over an often-overlooked and somewhat inconvenient truth; Arthur was almost certainly not a man at all, but a god. He is linked inextricably to the world of Celtic folklore and Druidic traditions. Whereas tyrants like Nero and Caligula were men who fancied themselves gods; is it not possible that Arthur was a god we have turned into a man? Perhaps then there is a truth here. Arthur, ‘The King under the Mountain’; sleeping until his return will never return, after all, because he doesn’t need to. Arthur the god never left in the first place and remains as popular today as he ever was. His legend echoes in stories, films and games that are every bit as imaginative and fanciful as that which the minds of talented bards such as Taliesin and Aneirin came up with when the mists of the ‘dark ages’ still swirled over Britain – and perhaps that is a good thing after all, most at home in the imaginations of children and adults alike – being the Arthur his believers want him to be.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Travel Stories PASSIONATE TRAVELLERS by @TrishaNicholson #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading PassIonate Travellers by Trisha Nicholson

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Recounting the story of 21 epic journeys, made by a panoply of individuals through known time, is quite a challenge.  How should they be sorted?  Do they share a common purpose?  Can we learn from their experiences?  Trish Nicholson had chosen to group the journeys according to the geographical region they visited, with each section introduced by a Perspective giving the reader a picture of the area’s context within society at the time of the travellers described. Each person had different reasons to set out; curiosity, greed, a mission, a need for challenge, but all were surprised. The sketch maps of each journey are a great asset, however knowledgeable (or not) you may be of the 21st century world.

This is a book of choices. Do you seek out the names which are familiar, such as Herodotus, Mungo Park or Robert Louis Stevenson, do you choose to follow the brave journeys of the women who endured discomfort to find new experiences or do you read from the beginning to the end?  All approaches are rewarding, but I admit to skipping first to some of my favourites such as Gladys Aylward, whom I’ve admired since childhood, and Marianne North, whose accurate, beautiful drawings of plants are on show at Kew gardens.  Then I discovered amazing journeys made by strangers to me. Ida Pfeiffer’s suffering in order to see most of Iceland, Stevenson’s fascinating tour of the islands of the Pacific Ocean and the anarchic Alexandra David-Neel’s determination to enter the forbidden city of Lhasa, all filled me with awe and admiration, even though many of these people would not be easy companions.

I shall be buying Passionate Travellers as a present for friends who love journeys or who find people intriguing. Its fluent prose and detailed account of the world of the past are irresistible.

Book description

Accompanying these 21 passionate travellers on their personal quests, we discover what drove them, and share their incredible journeys through deserts, mountains, jungles and seas to every continent, spanning 2,000 years of history from 480 BCE to the 1930s. These are true stories of daring adventure, courage, cunning, even murder and, above everything, sheer determination against all odds.
Most of these eight women and thirteen men were ordinary people transformed by their journeys. They travelled from Africa, China, Persia, Russia, and the Mediterranean as well as from Europe and America. Their backgrounds were diverse, including: poet, artist, invalid, slave, pilgrim, doctor, missionary, scholar, diplomat, dilettante, storyteller, and anarchistic opera singer.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Ya #Fantasy Daughter of Kali: Unholy Alliance by Shiulie Ghosh @hackhound @sheilland

Today’s team review is from Lilyn, she blogs here https://www.scifiandscary.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Lilyn has been reading Daughter of Kali: Unholy Alliance by Shiulie Ghosh

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I was asked to read Unholy Alliance after my positive review of the first book Daughter of Kali: Awakening. I would have had it done a few months ago, but it fell into my black hole of an e-mail and I just recently found it again.

Unholy Alliance is a good follow-up to Awakening. It smoothly carries on the story thread left at the end of the first book, while upping the ante as any good sequel should do. I can legit say that I did not expect things to play out at the very end quite the way they did, and now I’m curious to read the third book.

I feel like I was more irritated by the YA elements in this novel than I was in the previous one. However, as this is indeed a YA novel, I’m not going to harp on them. I’ll just say the love triangle was more predominant and the hormones got a bit much at times. In the intended age range, it’s stuff that I’m sure will probably give (most) readers a huge happy.

There are many, many dark times in this book. Scenes of horror upon horror. Ghosh makes the right decision in trying to keep things light with periodic injections of levity. Sometimes she succeeds wildly and I found myself snickering while reading. Other times it came off as trying a bit too hard and I just sighed and kept reading.

I felt like the Harry Potter nods were strong in this one. From the pesky little flying creatures to the colors of the spells to the strongly accented man with a love for a big, dangerous creature, it was hard for me to not see them. To be honest, it took away from my enjoyment of the book a bit, because it made it less of its own thing and more something I was too familiar with. (Were they actually Harry Potter influenced on her end, or just how I see them because I was a big fan of Harry Potter? The world shall never know.)

The action-monger in me was very happy with the sheer amount of ass-kicking that happens in this book. The dialogue wasn’t fantastic, but it was never cringe-worthy either. I am glad the technomagic had more play in this book, but I would love, love, love to see a short story or something from Em’s point of view where she’s completely geeking out and creating, instead of just seeing what it can do and a scene in her mad scientist lab.

As things built to the climax, I was fully invested. The end wrapped up this story arc nicely, but now I need to see how a couple characters are going to manage to work things out. I hope that Ghosh makes the third book into an amazing powerhouse of a third novel and shows readers the potential that we see shining so strongly in the other two books.

Book description

The time of prophecy is near.
Sixteen year old Kaz is now a trained Warrior for the secret society known as the Guild. Just like her mother before her. But her mother is dying, and only demonic power can save her. Going against everything the Guild stands for, Kaz must form an uneasy alliance with a Named One.
She also has a goddess on her case. Kali wants her to fulfil a prophecy – only Kaz isn’t quite sure what that is. Her own power, the bloodthirsty inner voice she calls the other, is getting stronger.
And as if that wasn’t enough, her emotions are torn between Darius, the Warrior in love with her best friend; and Jack, dark, brooding, and a bit irritating.
Kaz finds herself navigating a dangerous path at great cost. The lives of those she loves are in danger, and her only hope of saving them is to solve the mystery of the prophecy even if it destroys her.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #FamilySaga #HistoricalFiction MAHONEY by @huckfinn76

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Mahoney by Andrew Joyce

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I am a big fan of Andrew Joyce’s books, and I think this may be the best one yet. Perhaps it’s because the book is so entertaining, perhaps it’s because I’m part Irish through the migration during an Gorta Mór (the Irish potato famine or great hunger), or perhaps because I am a sucker for history and family sagas – but probably all three.

Mahoney is the story of the family by that name and was written as a trilogy tied together by common ancestry. The reader is first introduced to Devin, who is the last of the Mahoneys, famine and sickness having taken everyone else in his family. He lies on the dirt floor of the single room in his small, dark home in Ireland, waiting to die. When given the opportunity to take a ship to America, which looms large in his mind as a place where he can grow rich, he takes it.

The author has done some incredible research for his book, as he has for all the previous ones. Devin’s voyage to Quebec in the crowded and disease-ridden hold of a ship is richly drawn in its sordid and dangerous details. The story of how Devin makes his way and his living in cities prejudiced against the Irish is intense and his letters as a soldier in the Civil War are heart-breaking.

The next Mahoney we meet is Dillon, son of Devin. His life is a tapestry of adventures, from working on the transcontinental railroad, to becoming a cowboy on a vast cattle ranch, to earning a reputation as a gunslinger in the Wild West, to earning a fortune as an oil wildcatter in California.

Finally there is David, the dissipated and spoiled son of Devin. The disappointment I initially felt with this character is gradually lifted with his foray into the South during the time of the Depression and the Klu Klux Klan.

All in all, an adventurous ride I could not put down. The writer’s strengths are in his ability to paint the history in succinct brush strokes, in the development of his characters, and most of all, in the dialogue. The story of Devin is perhaps the strongest of the three, as this characters has the most to overcome and does it mainly on his own. I wanted to stay with his story, but events of the time interfered. Dillon and David have somewhat miraculous help at critical times (who’s not to say they wouldn’t?) to move their story forward.

Nevertheless, Andrew Joyce gives us a rich and colorful picture of America, with all its faults, from the Irish migration to the Deep South of the 1930s, covering a lot of history with an engrossing story.

I highly recommend Mahoney if you want a great read.

Book description

 

In this compelling, richly researched novel, author Andrew Joyce tells a story of determination and grit as the Mahoney clan fights to gain a foothold in America. From the first page to the last, fans of Edward Rutherfurd and W. Michael Gear will enjoy this riveting, historically accurate tale of adventure, endurance, and hope.

In the second year of an Gorta Mhór—the Great Famine—nineteen-year-old Devin Mahoney lies on the dirt floor of his small, dark cabin. He has not eaten in five days. His only hope of survival is to get to America, the land of milk and honey. After surviving disease and storms at sea that decimate crew and passengers alike, Devin’s ship limps into New York Harbor three days before Christmas, 1849. Thus starts an epic journey that will take him and his descendants through one hundred and fourteen years of American history, including the Civil War, the Wild West, and the Great Depression.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Ya #GhostStory The Haunting Of Alice May by Tony Lee Moral

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs here https://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading The Haunting Of Alice May by Tony Lee Moral

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It’s not giving anything away to say that Alice May gets saved one day while out on a kayak by Henry. They soon become romantically involved which would be fine were it not for the fact that Henry died 100 years ago and is living in some sort of purgatory. And he’s not the only one ‘living’ this way.

I enjoyed the setting with the descriptions of Alice’s life in the town of Pacific Grove where she lives with her dad and sister after her mum died. I also liked her friends Christian and Emily.

The things that jarred with me were that I was confused about whether people could see Henry with Alice, or not, at least at first. Later in the story it was clear he could be seen by everyone and also he seemed as solid as a properly living person.

Strangely at one point Alice is concerned by the fact that Henry is 100 years old and what effect that would have on their relationship, without considering the perplexing issue that he is essentially dead so their future together is not looking that promising anyway.

I am probably not the ideal audience for this book but I’m sure it would appeal to younger readers as they would relate to the age range of the characters better.

Book description

Alice May Parker moves with her family to the sleepy town of Pacific Grove after her Mom dies, but little does she know the strange and terrifying events to come. When she falls into the bay during a kayaking trip, she is rescued from drowning by the mysterious Henry Raphael. Handsome, old fashioned and cordial, he is unlike any other boy she has known before. Intelligent and romantic, he sees straight into her soul. Soon Alice and Henry are swept up in a passionate and decidedly unorthodox romance until she finds out that Henry is not all what he seems. . .

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Tudor #HistFic Jane The Quene by Janet Wertman

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Jane The Quene by Janet Wertman

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Jane Seymour is one of the Tudor characters about whom I have read little, other than incidentally in stories of Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn. The Tudor period has been so over-written, I approached this book with some hesitancy, thinking it would be another rehash of everything I’ve read.  I was pleasantly surprised – Jane Seymour comes across as a unique and layered individual, in contrast to the colorless, vapid, and upright woman described in so many other books.

In the England of 1535, Jane Seymour is 27 years old, edging to spinsterhood. She wants more than anything a marriage that will give her a future and a real place in society, but she is a shy and unspoiled woman who manages everything but is only part of the background. When the court of Henry VIII visits Wolf Hall, her family’s manor, she directs the event with such poise and efficiency that she finally gets noticed, and by Henry VIII himself.

Henry’s wife, Anne Boleyn, has become something of a curse to him: he changed England’s religion to divorce his first wife, Queen Katherine, to marry her (both unpopular moves with the English people) and Anne has given him only a girl child, followed by several miscarriages. He is desperate for a son and sees Jane’s honesty and innocence as a means to his redemption as well as a male heir.

Thomas Cromwell, an ambitious man who has, as the King’s clerk, managed to satisfy his every desire, also sees redemption for Henry in Jane and engineers the plot to have her become queen.

The author has woven a story in which we can see Jane as she was before the King’s visit and watch her develop into a confident queen. Her thoughts, fears and experiences through the plot to remove Anne and Anne’s subsequent beheading create a three dimensional person trying to manage the ardor of the King and her new and unprepared- for position at court. Her ambition, nascent at first, grows as she marries Henry and becomes Quene Jane, and I enjoyed the contrast the author made between the sweet story of her early life and encounters with the King and her developing ambition, which seemed to get the better of her as time went on.

As seems normal for the treachery and intrigue of the Tudor court, relatives tend to direct the loves of the women, and in this respect Jane is not different – her brothers regulated her life from the beginning and I was quite thrilled when she finally stood up to them, although she did take their advice to manipulate the king through his affection for her.

There are many unanswered questions about Jane – what were her feelings about the haste with which Anne Boleyn was removed and executed, her unduly swift marriage to the King, her insertion into the Tudor Court and the gossip associated with it. The author does a good job getting into Jane’s thoughts: guilt, joy, and growing strength and ambition. One can only wonder what would have happened if she had not died following childbirth. Would the King have tired of her and moved on?

I will freely admit I did not like the person Jane became as she moved fully into the role of queen. She lost the humility and sweetness that I had come to love about her. But I believe this is probably what would have happened, and the author has the pulse of this character. The historical detail is wonderful and the dialogue smooth, which made this an easy and fun read.

If you like historical fiction and are a fan of the Tudors, this is a good book for you! And I am more than ready for the next book in the author’s trilogy on the Seymours – The Path to Somerset

Book description

All Jane Seymour wants is a husband; but when she catches the eye of a volatile king, she is pulled deep into the Tudor court’s realm of plot and intrigue….

England. 1535. Jane Seymour is 27 years old and increasingly desperate for the marriage that will provide her a real place in the world. She gets the perfect opportunity to shine when the court visits Wolf Hall, the Seymour ancestral manor. With new poise born from this event, it seems certain that her efficiency and diligence will shine through and finally attract a suitor.

Meanwhile, King Henry VIII is 45 and increasingly desperate for a son to secure his legacy. He left his first wife, a princess of Spain, changing his country’s religion in the process, to marry Anne Boleyn — but she too has failed to deliver the promised heir. As Henry begins to fear he is cursed, Jane Seymour’s honesty and innocence conjure redemption. Thomas Cromwell, an ambitious clerk who has built a career on strategically satisfying the King’s desires, sees in Jane the perfect vehicle to calm the political unrest that threatens the country: he engineers the plot that ends with Jane becoming the King’s third wife.

Jane believes herself virtuous and her actions justified, but early miscarriages shake her confidence and hopes. How can a woman who has done nothing wrong herself deal with the guilt of how she unseated her predecessor?

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