Sunday, 30 March 2008

Katherine, the Virgin Widow by Jean Plaidy

The young Spanish widow, Katharine of Aragon, has become the pawn between two powerful monarchies. After less than a year as the wife of the frail Prince Arthur, the question of whether the marriage was ever consummated will decide both her fate and England's. But whilst England and Spain dispute her dowry, in the wings awaits her unexpected escape from poverty: Henry, Arthur's younger, more handsome brother - the future King of England. He alone has the power to restore her position, but at what sacrifice?

This is the first book in the Katherine of Aragon trilogy, and second in the Tudors series. As I decided to read the Tudors series in order this one slightly back tracks on 'Uneasy Lies the Head' and covers a little of what was covered there but, thats no problem, as this could also be read alone.

Arthur dies shortly after becoming married to Katherine, leaving her a virgin widow as the marriage was never consummated, or was it? This must be one of the most debatable parts of our history as to whether Katherine and Arthur really did consummate their marriage. I would not like to say whether they did or didn't but, I more lean to the fact that they did or didn't.

Of course as we know Katherine then goes on to become Henry's wife, and also we see a glimpse of Katherine's sister Juana and life at Spanish and English court which was quite different as I found most of the books concentrate mainly on the English court.

Overall a good read, I don't think the book showed as much of Katherine's character I much preferred Philipps Gregory 'The Constant Princess' but, still a good read and whetted my appetite for the next 2 books.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Uneasy Lies The Head by Jean Plaidy

In the aftermath of the bloody Wars of the Roses, Henry Tudor has seized the English crown, finally uniting the warring Houses of York and Lancaster through his marriage to Elizabeth of York.

But whilst Henry VII rules wisely and justly, he is haunted by Elizabeth's missing brothers; the infamous two Princes, their fate in the Tower forever a shrouded secret. Then tragedy strikes at the heart of Henry's family, and it is against his own son that the widowed king must fight for a bride and his throne...

This was another interesting view for me for life with the Tudors, there was more here on Henry VIII's parents and life then something I have not really read a great deal on, most of my Tudor reading surrounds life from Henry VIII's rule, It was nice reading something different.

This is not the first Jean Plaidy book I have read but, this was the first from this particular Tudor series and also being book 1 in that series. Not only did this concentrate more on Henry's parents but, also on Henry's sisters, I think we know most of Arthur's story - and how tragically short that was - the only thing I think could have been done better was how quickly Ms Plaidy described what happened around Arthur's death one minute he was ill the next gone but, I wouldn't say it detracted from the story at all.

Another way of looking at Katherine of Aragon too - I can't say she is one of my favourite of Henry's wives but, I really felt for her here being sent to England to marry a future king must have been so daunting.

I found Henry's mother, Elizabeth of York a little bit of a walkover, she didn't seem to have any control over Henry VII, although he seemed quite a dominant figurehead. I would like to have seen more of Henry & Elizabeth's marriage written about as again this was, I wouldn't say skirted over but, maybe a little rushed.

This was a really good book and very easy to read. I have the whole of the Tudors series and the way its going I will be reading them all one after the other, I don't think I will ever tire of reading about the Tudors!

Monday, 24 March 2008

The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George


Much has been written about the mighty, egotistical Henry VIII: the man who dismantled the Church because it would not grant him the divorce he wanted; who married six women and beheaded two of them; who executed his friend Thomas More; who sacked the monasteries; who longed for a son and neglected his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth; who finally grew fat, disease-ridden, dissolute.

Now, in her magnificent work of storytelling and imagination, Margaret George bring us Henry VIII's story as he himself might have told it, in memoirs interspersed with irreverent comments from his jester and confidant, Will Somers. Brilliantly combining history, wit, dramatic narrative, and an extraordinary grasp of the pleasures and perils of power, this monumental novel shows us Henry the man more vividly than he has ever been seen before.

My view:

I think we must all know the story of Henry VIII and his famous six wives only too well, personally I have only mainly read the story fom the view of his wives or from the third person, this was so different to read it as though Henry was himself writing how he saw things.

I put off reading this for quite some time mainly crazy as thought it may sound it got such good reviews I thought I might not enjoy that much, which is what invariably happens to me (I tend to like the ones that don't get such good reviews for some bizarre reason ...)

Starting from when Henry was a young boy right up to almost the end of his life this was a fabulous account, almost as if you was reading Henry's own memoirs. I thought before reading this that I might find the notes by Will Somers a little boring as I wanted to read Henry's story but, no I think I added an interesting view to the story overall.

I do think it was written sympathetically towards Henry although I guess it would do as it was written by him! As an Anne Boleyn sympathiser I found the scenes of Anne being beheaded quite graphic but, also the scenes with Catherine Howard I really did feel for Henry, I think with that storyline for me I never really saw the 'Henry ' side of things and just that Catherine was beheaded and the reasons behind that.

Overall this was a brilliant account of Henry's life and possibly one of the best Tudor fiction books I have read!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Vengeance is Mine by Brandy Purdy

There was room for only one woman in George Boleyn's heart-his sister, the mercurial and fascinating Anne Boleyn, who was destined to change history and wear a crown. To his adoring wife, Lady Jane Rochford, he was cold and indifferent. When Anne failed to give Henry VIII the son she had promised him, and he was tiring of her tart tongue and tantrums, false charges of adultery were hastily concocted.

Lady Rochford provided the crowning touch when she accused her husband and his beloved sister of incest. Both died upon the scaffold. Lady Rochford paid dearly for her treachery. She was left alone, shunned and friendless, until wild, sweet, wanton Katherine Howard danced into her life and became Henry's fifth queen. When Katherine, disgusted by the obese and impotent King's fumbling attempts to make love to her, took a lusty young lover Lady Rochford helped them meet.

And when the truth came out, she was the first to betray them. As she sits in the Tower of London, being tormented by the ghosts of George and Anne Boleyn, and awaiting her own appointment with the headsman's axe, Lady Rochford takes up her pen. Vengeance Is Mine is her story.

This book bears similarities to Philippa Gregory's The Boleyn Inheritance in that it tells the story of Anne Boleyn and katheirne Howard but, this time the whole book is told from the whole viewpoint of Jane Rochford rather than the 3 different viewpoints.

Going from previous books I have read I always found Jane Rochford to be rather cold and calculating at her involvement in bringing the deaths of Anne & Katherine but, hear I sympathised with her to some degree, how George Boleyn was portrayed he was really quite horrible, at least to Jane there is a particular part where he makes love to her and then in the morning when he says it was you was really horrible and I quite felt for Jane, quite why he married her in the first place I don't know!

And then there is poor Katherine Howard, I'm rather fond of Katherine and really felt for her although she could at times be quite silly I do find her amusing so Jane's part in Katherine's downfall I did not sympathise with! Hearing Katherine practice putting her head on the block was awful, I just can't imagine what must have been going through the poor girls head.

And Anne of Cleves also plays a small part in this book as does Jane Seymour, there is little about Jane Seymour but, as it is told by Jane I guess that is why. There was a little more about Anne of Cleves and the part of Jane cutting her stinky armpit hair was quite gross! I'm so glad I wasn't eating while reading that!

I really really enjoyed this book, if you have read and loved The Boleyn Inheritance you will enjoy this and it was nice to see things through Jane Rochford's eyes.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Brief Gaudy Hour by Margaret Campbell Barnes

A beautifully written account of the life of Anne Boleyn, a story we know only too well and despite having read different authors accounts of her life I never tire of it, I never fail to be shocked at her ending, this was one of the most beautiful accounts of her life I have read.

The story goes right back to her life at Hever right to her grisly end at Tower Green. The book does have some historical inaccuracy but, this is a novel if historical fact bothers you that much then maybe this is not the book for you but, I would say it didn't bother me, it does weave between fact and fiction.That said this book was originally published in 1949, so maybe that should be taken into account too.

This novel, was I felt a little sympathetic to Anne so would appeal to those who like Anne more than they do Henry, despite what she done I did feel for her so possibly abnother reason why I liked this book so much. It elaborates quite a bit on Anne's relationship with Henry Percy whereas other books I have read in the past have perhaps skimmed over this part of her life.

Without going in to the storyline, which I am sure many know so well this is a brilliantly written story that anyone who loves historical fiction, and most especially Tudor fiction will love.

The descriptions of life at court are quite vivid and help you to set the scene in your mind.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands

That hot guy tied to Lissianna Argeneau’s bed? He’s not dessert—he’s the main course!

Lissianna has been spending her centuries pining for Mr. Right, not just a quick snack, and this sexy guy she finds in her bed looks like he might be a candidate. But there’s another, more pressing issue: her tendency to faint at the sign of blood… an especially annoying quirk for a vampire. Her mother thinks she has the perfect solution, and serves up the therapist on a silver platter (or at least a wrought iron bed). Of course it doesn’t hurt that this psychologist has a delicious looking neck.

What kind of cold-blooded vampire woman could resist a bite of that? Dr. Gregory Hewitt recovers from the shock of waking up in a stranger’s bedroom pretty quickly—once he sees a gorgeous woman about to treat him to a wild night of passion. But is it possible for the good doctor find true love with a hemophobic vampire vixen, or will he be just a good meal?

That’s a question Dr. Greg might be willing to sink his teeth into… if he can just get Lissianna to bite.

This is the fourth book but, should have been the first, sounds confusing? But, it does not detract at all from the story in fact I think if you wanted you could read this first to get Lissiana's story before reading the others but, I really think it doesn't matter.

Every inch as good as the other three I have so far read although, Etienne's story is my favourite so far.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Tall, Dark & Hungry by Lynsay Sands

New York hotels cost an arm and a leg, and Terri had flown from England to help plan her cousin's wedding. The new in-laws offered lodging. But they were a weird bunch. There was the sometimes-chipper-sometimes-brooding Lucern, and the wacky stage-actor, Vincent. (She couldn't imagine Broadway casting a hungrier singing-and-dancing Dracula.). And then there was Bastien. Just looking into his eyes, Terri had to admit she was falling for him - someone even taller, darker and hungrier than the other two. She was feeling a mite peckish herself. And if she stayed with him, those bloodsucking hotel owners wouldn't get her!

Bastien is a workaholic and lives in the gorgeous penthouse over the top of the Argeaneau offices. Kate has to go out of town and so it is left to Bastien and his brother to pick Terri up from the airport and she will also be staying at his gorgeous apartment!

Terri has no idea Bastien is a vampire, in fact she has no idea any of the Argenau's are vampires. So Bastien has to try and keep it from her for the 2 weeks she is staying. Just to make matters worse, Chris - Kate's editor colleague also has to stay at Bastien's apartment (apparently Chris is based on Lynsay's own editor).

I loved this one and despite the not so favourable reviews on Amazon this was a brilliant instalment in the Argenau's. Of course the end is fairly predictable but, its all nice and sweet!

Monday, 10 March 2008

Love Bites by Lynsay Sands

Etienne Argeneau's three hundred years of bachelorhood were at an end. Either that, or he'd be forever alone. He could only "turn" one human in his lifetime, and most of his kind reserved that power for creating a life mate. If he turned the wrong woman . . .

But what choice did he have? He had to save Rachel Garrett. He didn't know her very well, but the beautiful coroner had saved his life. To save hers he would make her immortal.

We first met Etienne in Single White Vampire but, this time its his own story. While Etienne is in the morgue, after having been shot and as Rachel prepares Etienne for a post mortem when Etienne wakes up sending Rachel into shock and subsequently fainting.

After having a week away from work Rachel returns and Etienne is back in the morgue again, only to find a madman trying to kill Etienne but, Rachel saves him and in turn Etienne saves Rachel by turning her into a vampire.

This was another hilarious romp in the life of the Argenau vampires, slightly different in that Rachel didn't really have much choice in being turned. All the great characters from SWV are back here although of course, we don't see them as much because this is Etienne's turn to take centre stage.

I'm beginning to like this world of Vampires even more than Charlaine Harris's!

Monday, 3 March 2008

Is it Spring yet?

After reading Margo's blog I thought I would change my template too! Nice and fresh and springlike, the other template was a bit stale and boring and not being too techie minded I was never too sure how to change the templates, and din't want to mmuck it up so I am very pleased it works!

I've also created a new blog! One of my other passions is photography and here's a link to the new one

There's not much on there at the moment but, will be adding stuff over time.