Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT JASPER by @tonyriches #HistFic #Tudors #wwwblogs

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

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Terry has been reading Jasper by Tony Riches

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JASPER: Book Two of the Tudor Trilogy by Tony Riches

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team

I LOVED this book. It’s a terrific page-turner, a real adventure, from the time when the country was such a dangerous place, when men were men and women waited in castles for them to come home (not so keen on that bit, as I am sure many of the women weren’t!). It made me long (as I often do) to go back to those times; this book brings the England of over five centuries ago to life so well. Book One, about Owen, Jasper’s father, was jolly good, but this is what I love to see ~ a sequel that takes the story to another level.

There is so much written and on television about the Yorkist side of the Wars of the Roses, I find, but less about the Lancasters, so this filled in many gaps in my knowledge. It’s expertly planned; I was particularly interested to see how Tony Riches would write about events during which Jasper was far away and out of touch, like Warwick’s change of allegiance, but he did this most convincingly, using the fictional Gabriel, an Irish mercenary who becomes a close friend of the hero, as a reporter of events. Similarly, the disintegration of the Yorks following the death of Edward IV is cleverly accounted for via the messengers who visit Jasper during his exile in Brittany. I also enjoyed the first appearance of the Duke of Buckingham, whose son causes trouble for Henry VIII, and of other characters who appeared as Plantagenet made way for Tudor.

In my opinion this is a book for those who already know something of the history, as there are so many names and changing allegiances that, even being quite well versed in this period as I am, I had to stop and think a few times about who was who. This isn’t Riches’ fault; he has dealt with a long and complicated story admirably. On occasion I got confused about the passage of time and felt that there needed to be a gaps in the formatting of paragraphs to indicate that a year or so had passed, but I’ve rarely read a book of this length, covering so many events over a long period, that conveys the passing of years perfectly.

To all avid readers of books such as the Game of Thrones series, I’d say ‘read this too!’ ~ it’s every bit as magical, every bit as exciting—and it really happened! Loved it; highly recommended, a real achievement, and I’d just like to say that the author’s note at the end brought a tear to my eye. I shall be the first in the queue for the final part of the trilogy (and plan to read ‘Warwick’ in the meantime!).

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

 

THE HERETIC HEIR by G Lawrence @TudorTweep #Tudor #BookReview #HistFic #WeekendBlogHop

The Heretic Heir (The Elizabeth of England Chronicles #2)The Heretic Heir by G. Lawrence
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Heretic Heir is a work of Historical Fiction about the life of Queen Elizabeth I as she endured life as a royal half sister to Queen Mary I. Written entirely from Elizabeth’s POV, some chapters are from the end of her life set in 1603 as she looks back at her youthful years. Most chapters are set in the four years between 1554 and 1558.

After the death of their brother Edward VI, a young boy crowned when he was just 9 years old, there was a struggle for the crown which led to Lady Jane Grey ruling for just 9 days before she was thrown in the Tower of London and Mary proclaimed Queen.

England was pulled first one way and then another and Mary brought back the Catholic religion and began a reign of terror for Protestants. Mary faced great opposition, few believed a woman should have such power, she also needed an heir and took Phillip of Spain as her husband. This was another unfavourable move as the English did not want to be ruled by Spain.

As a Protestant, Elizabeth was in danger and spent time in the Tower of London when Mary became suspicious of her true loyalties. Throughout Mary’s reign Elizabeth trod a fine line between support for her sister and maintaining her own safety.

I really enjoyed being immersed in the life and times of Elizabeth, from the fears and dangers to the sights and smells of every day sixteenth century England. The author had me quickly rooting for Elizabeth and wanting to see Mary’s life come to a quick end.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads

SIX TUDOR QUEENS: KATHERINE OF ARAGON, THE TRUE QUEEN by Alison Weir #HistFic #Tudors #Bookreview

Six Tudor Queens: Katherine of Aragon, The True QueenSix Tudor Queens: Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen by Alison Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Six Tudor Queens: 1 Katherine Of Aragon, The True Queen is the latest historical novel from renown historian Alison Weir. The first in a series about Henry VIII’s six wives, I was lucky to read an ARC, this is a huge book coming in at 553 pages and I believe the Hardback may be longer at 624 pages, expected publication date 5th May 2016.

The first part opens in 1501, sixteen year old Catalina, a Spanish Princess sails to England for her marriage to fifteen year old Prince Arthur, eldest son of Henry VII. Catalina is now to be known by her English version of her name, Katherine and she faces a new language, new food and very cold weather. Katherine’s first meeting with Arthur is at the Bishop’s Palace in Dogmersfield, this village today is a stone’s throw from where I currently live and the local pub “The Queen’s Head” proudly displays a Pub sign with a picture of Katherine and a local House also bears her name, hundreds of years later, even the Bishops Palace still has a large residence built on it’s foundations which is now a Hotel.

Moving on Katherine and Arthur are married, but Arthur is very sickly, probably suffering from Tuberculosis. They move to the Prince of Wales’ residence in Ludlow, but Arthur dies after just six months of an unconsummated marriage. The political games of power marriages were so important to the royal households of England, France, Spain, Flanders and beyond. They made or broke wars and wealth. Katherine was next to be betrothed to Arthur’s ten year old brother Henry, after a couple of years of negotiations they were betrothed when Henry was just twelve years old, but even this was no safe guarantee as power shifted in Europe. Katherine’s usefulness to the English throne peaked and dipped, delaying her marriage, leaving her in a form of poverty at one time while Kingdoms were won or lost. It wasn’t until 1509 when King Henry VII died that Katherine could finally marry Henry.

Even through there was a large age gap between the couple, Henry was devoted and Katherine fell in love with him. Henry oozed wealth and extravagance and huge amounts of money were spent on his wedding, his crowning and on the palaces he owned. Every Kings wants a male heir to succeed him, this stabilises politics and power and became Henry’s priority. As Henry preferred pomp and play to political governing he appointed Thomas Wolsey, who later took the title Lord Chancellor. Wolsey also rose through the Church and ended his days as a Cardinal.

Katherine fell pregnant seven times during her marriage to Henry and lost six of those children with only daughter Mary surviving. This put a great strain on their marriage as Henry became more and more desperate for a male heir. Political powers turned in Europe too with treaties and friendships turning and turning again. Katherine was ever adamant that relations with Spain should stay strong, but Henry blamed her when her father Ferdinand of Spain signed a treaty with Maximilian of Flanders and Louis of France, keeping Henry out of the power struggles.

Court rumours flew about Henry’s romantic affairs while Katherine struggled through pregnancies, but she refused to believe ill of Henry and remained devoted to him as was her duty as a wife. However when it became obvious that Katherine would bare no more children, Henry’s desperation for a male heir became apparent. The “Great Matter” threw the country into turmoil as Henry questioned the legality of marrying his brother’s wife, even though at the time they had been given special permission form the Pope. Katherine was a devout Catholic, but Henry became persuaded by new religious thinkers, he began querying the power of the Roman church in England and his passion for Anne Boleyn had a huge sway on his beliefs and actions.

In this book Weir paints Anne Boleyn as a powerful and greedy political mover with much support, she helps topple Wolsey and with men like Thomas Cramner and Thomas Cromwell now holding much sway in Henry’s courts, Katherine is kept from her daughter and put under near house arrest while Henry declares himself head of the English church and divorces Katherine so he can marry Anne. Katherine is stripped of her title, her assets and her household until her dying day, but she always believed in her love for Henry and her true right as Queen of the English throne.

This is a very long and detailed book, as is my review, which lovers of Tudor History will enjoy.

Pre-order this book here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Owen by @tonyriches #Tudors #Bookreview

Today’s team book review comes from Noelle, she blogs at http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

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Noelle chose to read and review Owen by Tony Riches

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Book Review: Owen, Book One of the Tudor Trilogy by Tony Riches

Move over, Philippa Gregory! I love to read books about the Tudors, so when Rosie Amber offered a historical novel about the founding of the Tudor dynasty, about which I knew nothing, I couldn’t resist.

The story begins in England in 1422. Owen Tudor, who comes from a line of Welsh nobleman but of humble beginnings, has risen by virtue of hard work and not a little luck, from being a soldier in the King’s army to keeper of the Queen’s household. His mistress, Catherine of Valois, is both beautiful and lonely – her husband Henry V, is a warrior and often away, leaving her with their infant son. Hers is a dangerous life, with civil war simmering at home as various noble families jockey to influence and rule Prince Henry, crowned King of England and France when his father dies. Owen begins an affair with Juliette, one of Catherine’s Ladies-in-Waiting, but it becomes clear that his real love is for the Queen. He becomes her protector, and against all odds, she falls in love with him. Eventually they risk all to marry and then have a large family together, in the process founding the dynasty that becomes an epicenter of British history.

The book is impeccably researched and written, quite an accomplishment given that there is not a lot of extant information on Owen Tudor’s life. I sensed a difference between the story up to the time of Catherine and Owen’s marriage and what happened afterward – a little stiff, as Owen’s relationships in the household were until his marriage, then more flowing and easy, as if marriage empowered and relaxed Owen. One thing that left me still wondering to the end is the unlikelihood of Owen and Catherine’s love and marriage, but history can’t be wrong! His other long term love interest, Juliette, also seems improbable, but there is a historical indication that such a woman existed. The author’s notes on the historical aspects and what he had to create were helpful and underscored his talent at putting together a great story based on limited facts.

The characters that populate Owen are distinct and colorful and the history is detailed and richly described. I know a little of the various noble families of the time, but to the initiate the names and warring factions might be a little confusing. Nevertheless, this does not distract from a grand pageant of a story.

Owen is written in the present tense, which I find tiresome in all but short stories, but Riches does such a good job that I actually didn’t even think about it until I was already hooked by the story. He managed to give the story an immediacy that maintained the tension but did not become wearing on the reader.

All in all, this is a great read. I recommend it and look forward to the next book in this series.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Owen by @tonyriches #bookreview #Tudors #histfic

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

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Terry chose to read Owen by Tony Riches

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Owen – Book One of the Tudor Trilogy by Tony Riches

4.5 out of 5 stars

I am deeply fascinated by all things Plantagenet and Tudor, so leapt on this book when it became available on Rosie Amber’s review team list. I was particularly eager to read it as Owen Tudor is someone about whom I knew little, apart from his having been Henry VIII’s great grandfather. My knowledge of the events leading up to the Wars of the Roses is sketchy, too, so this book was an education as well as a great story.

The novel is perfectly edited and proofread, which was a real treat in these days of dubious standards; I could tell that Mr Riches had spent a great deal of time drafting and redrafting, and the structure of the novel itself is extremely well thought out. The story flows beautifully throughout and is simply written in the present tense, which is always an odd choice but worked well in this case.

At first I was not very taken with Riches’ Owen Tudor; he seemed like a bit of a stuffed shirt and I couldn’t imagine why he aroused such passion in Juliette the servant girl and Queen Catherine de Valois. I found the prose a little stilted, though not terribly. I much preferred the latter half of the book, after Catherine’s death, when it loosened up considerably, Owen’s adventurous side came to the fore and I became engrossed. I looked forward to the introduction of characters about whom I know more: Margaret Beaufort (one of my favourite women in history), and Jasper Tudor, who I’ve always rather fancied; well done, Mr Riches, you portrayed him so well!

That the book is well researched is clear; many domestic details are included, but these are artfully woven into the story, rather than lumped in to show how much the author has mugged up before beginning to write. I did wonder if a reader who knows nothing of this historical period might get a little confused by all the dukes and bishops and their various allegiances, but then it is likely that anyone reading this would already have an interest in the period. There is an author’s note at the back to explain which characters come from Riches’ imagination and which are from real life.

If you’re interested in the Wars of the Roses and the origins of the Tudor dynasty I’d definitely recommend this book, and I look forward to reading the next one in the series.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Luccia reviews Kings and Queens by @TerryTyler4

Today’s team review is from Luccia, she blogs at http://lucciagray.wordpress.com

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Luccia chose to read and review Kings and Queens by Terry Tyler

Kings and Queens - Terry Tyler

Kings and Queens – Terry Tyler

A Tudor Retelling

I loved the unique premise of Kings and Queens. It is an original take on the Tudors by transferring Henry VIII and his court to contemporary England. It tells the story of the life and loves of Harry Lanchester, who has a successful property developing company, Lanchester Estates, in the south of England. It was fun working out who the contemporary characters might have been in Tudor England, and watching how the author adapts them and their circumstances to recent times.

Terry Tyler has chosen a very clever way of exposing her main character, who is denied a point of view in the novel. Various first person narrators, his wives and his best friend, Will Brandon, each with their unique voice, tell us all about Henry Lanchester, so that we get to know him through the eyes of those closest to him. I love these multiple viewpoints, because they empower the readers to make their own decisions about the character.

Another noteworthy aspect is that it brings the reader face to face with the cyclical nature of life, love, and history. People with power, their behaviour, as well as the way those around them regard them, has not changed since Tudor times. It makes the reader reflect on how human nature has or hasn’t changed over the centuries.

There are also many humorous moments, and twists and turns, making it an entertaining and enjoyable read. A must for lovers of Tudor England and contemporary family sagas.

I am looking forward to reading The Last Child, a sequel to Kings and Queens.

Find a copy on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Judith reviews Last Child by @TerryTyler4

Today’s review comes from team member Judith, she blogs at http://judithbarrowblog.com/

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Judith chose to read and review Last Child by Terry Tyler

Last Child by Terry Tyler

Last Child by Terry Tyler

I love being part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team #RBRT. I wish I had more time to read the books. I wish I wasn’t such a slow reader. I wish I’d discovered Terry Tyler’s books sooner. I wonder why she hasn’t got an agent (she doesn’t need one, probably doesn’t want one – still, I wonder why hasn’t she been snapped up?) I want to shout out, to ask why my local library hasn’t shelves displaying her brilliant covers. Am I being too effusive? Yes, but that doesn’t stop me; I am a huge fan of her work.

Last Child is both a brilliant stand-alone novel, and a sequel. I would advise anyone to read the first of (what I hope) is a trilogy. No pressure on the author there then! I would suggest reading Kings and Queens initially because, if you don’t you will not only miss out on a brilliant read but you won’t discover the wonderful beginnings of this cast of characters.

Told you I can go over the top when I’m enthusiastic.

Now I’ve got that off my chest – the serious stuff:

The plot follows the lives of the Lanchester family in much the same way that history records the (almost) parallel lives of Henry VIII and his wives and family (no chopping off of heads here though – but still plenty of intrigue). This contemporary take is hugely enjoyable and a balanced page- turner from the beginning.

The characters continue to evolve in a style that is unique to this author. They are rounded, they change, they grow, they are revealed – sometimes slowly, sometimes more subtly. But in the end I felt I knew each and every one of them as they share their own viewpoints to the narrative. And both the internal voices and the dialogue (so well written, I think), is individualistic to each of them.

I’ll mention just a few of the characters: Will: An understated character but one threaded throughout both novels, giving his own insight to the others and the lives they lead. Erin: (a contemporary Elizabeth I), energetic, determined to do the right thing, a little flawed but loyal. Isabella: (portrayed as a modern day Mary), vulnerable, yet embittered to such a degree her decisions are underlined with an unstable revenge. Jaz, Harry’s son, complex as any teenager, with an ability to evolve into an equally complex adult but…  Hannah, the nanny and short- time lover of Harry Lanchester, the founder of this dynasty; shown as the sustaining carer of this younger generation, competent, motherly, non- judgemental. Then there’s Jim Dudley, ruthless yet ultimately helpless; Raine Grey with her own devastating story; the dependable Robert Dudley, and his shallow wife, Amy.

I could go on and on – but I won’t. I think it only fair for readers to discover the characters and the story for themselves. Suffice it to say, all of them run the gamut of trials and tribulations that is life – with so much more than most of us, thankfully, avoid.

The settings, the fashion, the attitudes, the domestic lives and the world of business provide a solid backdrop to this book and truly reflect the epochs the novel is set in.

All in all a brilliant family saga, brilliantly written. I can’t recommend Terry Tyler’s work highly enough. Looking forward to the next book.

Find a copy here:

http://amzn.to/1JaPwTa

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Karen reviews Last Child by @TerryTyler4

Today’s team review is from Karen, she blogs at https://mytrainofthoughtson.wordpress.com/

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Karen chose to read and review Last Child by Terry Tyler

Last Child by Terry Tyler

Last Child by Terry Tyler

My Opinion

The book provides a greater insight into life after Harry Lanchester’s death. I will not tell you more about the story than shown in the Goodreads plot description. This would spoil the fun of reading this book yourself.

With Last Child, Terry Tyler has created an excellent sequel to Kings and Queens. Harry Lanchester’s death has not only affected his very different offspring; the lives of his friends and employees have changed as well. Last Child is a and gripping read with all too real characters. Terry Tyler carefully lets her characters evolve – a true art. I was drawn into the story right away, feeling like a close observer. This sequel confirmed my opinion on some characters; in some cases I gladly revised my opinion. Jaz, Isabella, Erin and their closest contacts are masterly portrayed. All other characters are equally real with all their virtues and/or flaws. Last Child is a great read for family saga and drama fans, readers who like parallels to history.

This is definitely not my usual genre. Despite that, I consider this – as well as Kings and Queens – as books to read again.

Recommended!

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Judith reviews Kings and Queens by @TerryTyler4

Today’s review comes from team member Judith, she blogs at http://judithbarrowblog.com/

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Judith chose to read and read Kings and Queens by Terry Tyler

Kings and Queens - Terry Tyler

Kings and Queens – Terry Tyler

My review of  Kings and Queens by Terry Tyler

 My rating 5 out of 5 stars 

My mother used to have the habit, when she finished a book of closing it up and saying, ‘By heck, I enjoyed that’. When I finished Terry Tyler’s Kings and Queens I had a ‘by heck’ moment.

I only discovered Terry Tyler’s novels last year, they are true page-turners and I’ve enjoyed each one. This book, Kings and Queens, is both a family saga and a clever contemporary take on history; Harry Lanchester lives a hedonistic life that, in many ways, parallels that of Henry VIII. He might not order the death of his wives and lovers but they are just as easily discarded, he is portrayed as a patriarch and is at the centre of his world. And that world is filled with everything that makes up ‘real life’ today; stable families, dysfunctional families, erratic individuals, stable characters, revenge and bitterness, love and caring, sex, lust, romance, death and grief, even murder – the list is endless and multi layered.

Normally I say I don’t include spoilers in my reviews but the background, the general plot in Kings and Queens is obviously a given. Yet the narrative is so original and innovative, it is easy for the reader to sit back and enjoy the modern-day twists and turns that the author conjures up as though the story is completely unknown.

As usual, Terry Tyler presents characters that are rounded, well drawn and given so many different facets to their personalities that it is easy to cheer with them, be irritated by them and to suffer with them. Through the various individualistic voices of the characters (and the dialogue is brilliantly written) the author takes us, chapter by chapter through the story. This is a particularly favourite writing style for me as a reader. Told in the first person point of view, there is always the slight suspicion (or knowledge?) that the narrator is sometimes unreliable; this certainly made me slow down and think about some passages, even though I so much wanted to know what happened next.

Kings and Queens covers the decades of the nineteen-seventies to the present time. The author’s research on each era is impeccable; every setting is drawn with subtle touches through the business economy,  the fashions, the communities, the music, the social scene.

This is a stand-alone novel but I knew there was a sequel, Last Child, so I read both in quick succession.  The review for , Last Child will follow soon. As for Kings and Queens, all I can say is that I was hooked from the first page and cannot recommend it highly enough.

Can’t say it too often -by heck I enjoyed it!

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Alison reviews Last Child by @TerryTyler4 #wwwblogs

Today we have a review from team member Alison, she blogs at alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com

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Alison chose to read and review Last Child by Terry Tyler

Last Child by Terry Tyler

Last Child by Terry Tyler

Last Child

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Kings and Queens’ so was really looking forward to the sequel and ‘Last Child’ does not disappoint.

Harry Lanchester is dead, leaving behind three very different children – young Jasper, who just wants to be a teenager and, although the youngest, the heir to the Lanchester business; bitter, unhappy Isabella, still reeling from her father’s deception and abandonment of her mother; and Erin, beautiful, strong and somewhat spoilt. These three carry with them the traits of their respective mothers, and the lasting legacy of the tragedies, upheavals and dramas so well-portrayed in ‘Kings and Queens’.

Add to the mix rivalry between those taking care of the business until Jasper comes of age – Ned Seymour and Jim Dudley – and you have a wonderful, modern take on the politics, intrigues and battles for power that dominated the English court after the death of Henry VIII.

Lanchester Estates is split down the middle – Ned Seymour is supported by Isabella, while Dudley is favoured by Erin, so much so that she sells him some of her shares in the company. Jasper is trying to cope with the difficulties of growing up, aware of the responsibility that awaits him, but more interested in girls and drinking. Former nanny Hannah, still very much a part of the family, tries to help, offering some stability to the fractured family, but then tragedy strikes and Isabella takes over the company.

Unpopular and unhappy, Isabella thinks she’s turned a corner when she meets Phillip Castillo. But Phillip isn’t all he seems. I couldn’t decide if I hated Isabella or felt terribly sorry for her – she acts selfishly and horribly, but deep down she’s so sad, and the writing conveys this so well; people behave as they do for a reason, and Isabella is a complex character whose flaws are well-explained.

Erin, meanwhile, is involved in an on-off relationship with Robert Dudley, which causes its own tragedies and unhappiness. Out of all the characters, I felt that Erin was the one who developed the most, who really ‘grew up’ as the story unfolded. Although she was far from perfect and still had her flaws, she became less the selfish, spoilt teenager and more the accomplished, capable intelligent woman that Lanchester Estates needed to keep the company going.

It’s great fun to link all these characters to their historical counterparts, and Terry Tyler does a great job of showing those links without making them obtrusive or restricting the characters or the story. Raine, for example, while ‘standing in’ for tragic Lady Jane Grey has a very different, albeit potentially heart-breaking, fate to the original.

The characters draw you in, and the writing is clever, entertaining, at times funny and always compelling. Each has his or her own story and their motivations are clear and believable. It’s one of those books that leaves you disappointed at the end – not because of the story but because you want to carry on, to see what happens next to the Lanchesters and, when you reach that last page, you’re left feeling slightly bereft. There aren’t many books that make me feel like that, so ‘Last Child’ definitely deserves five stars.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com