Saturday, 30 August 2008

Hasta La Vista

After months of anticipation in about 10 hours time I will be leaving for Gatwick en route to Mexico!! I cannot wait so after a nice warm day in Kent, it was about 26c it was a nice pre-cursor to the lovely 36c I will be experiencing this time tomorrow!! Although not so much looking forward to the 10 hour flight but, on the plus side tomorrow is my birthday and instead of a 24 hour birthday I get a 30 hour one!

So have all my books packed, hubby has moaned and said do you really intend to read all those books? (Er, yes!) and the excitement is too much I have wanted to go to Mexico for so so long, Hasta La Vista!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Into The Green by Charles de Lint

The harp was a gift from Jacky Lantern's fey kin, as was the music Angharad pulled from its strings. She used it in her journeys through the Kingdoms of the Green Isles, to wake the magic of the Summerblood where it lay sleeping in folk who had never known they had it.

My View
Having read a few of CDL's books I can categorically say this is my most favourite that I have read to date! This story revolves around Angharad who was grew up as a tinker she is now a witch having been taught the ways of a witch. This is a precursor to a mission she is sent on to help instil the magic to those who have the ability.

Two witches tell Angharad that through her veins runs the Summerblood, inherited from the kowrie and their lord Hafarl, the ancient fey who still live in the world beyond our sight. Those with Summerblood can see into that world, "into the green," and speak the languages of animals and trees. To the ordinary housey-folk, however, such people are called witches, and they are feared. And sometimes hunted.

This is such a beautifully written book as I said it is my favourite so far, it is very fast paced and with a cast of characters that are easy to follow, some books have so many characters that you can get lost, well I do at times.

A really beautiful magical fairytale.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Lord Robert by Jean Plaidy

In the grim recesses of the Tower of London, two captives begin a passionate love affair that will last years but is destined to destroy them; one is Robert Dudley, the other is the future Queen of England, Elizabeth I. Pardoned by Queen Mary, Dudley and Elizabeth are freed, but their mutual longing must be from a distance: Dudley is married, and as the next heir to the throne, Elizabeth must tread carefully...

My View
This book was brilliant, I was quite surprised to see it rated only 3½ stars on Amazon but, I guess we can't like the same things! A wonderful portrait of Robert Dudley and whilst there have been comparisons to The Virgins Lover by Philippa Gregory I wouldn't say it was either better or worse just maybe a bit different.

It was quite fast moving and some areas were a little rushed but, there was so much to cram in, I always think Jean Plaidy's books are like a non-fiction book and if nothing else I learn a lot from them this was no different and it was good that we learned more about Robert from when he was born and when he met Elizabeth etc..

Fiction books on Elizabeth never fail to disappoint and she was portrayed really beautifully here whereas in TVL I found her just a teensy bit weak than I imagined her to be.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

The Sixth Wife by Jean Plaidy

Katharine Parr has unwittingly become the last pawn in King Henry VIII's ambitions for an heir. Already twice widowed, Katharine finally dared to hope that she might find love with the dashing Thomas Seymour. But Henry has decided he must have a sixth wife and Seymour's intentions to marry Katherine have not gone unnoticed. Unable to refuse the King of England Katharine becomes his reluctant bride. Once again it seems only a matter of time before another wife's fate leads her to the Tower of London...

My View
Loved this, not to be confused with Suzannah Dunn's book of the same name this is a brilliant portrayal of Henry's sixth and last wife. I don't think I need to tell you the background to this story as most of us know the history surrounding Henry's wives but, this was beautifully told. The part about Anne Askew was rather disturbing describing what happened to her on the rack was just awful! But, very well described at the same time.

I did really feel for Katherine towards the end of her life and what must have been going on in her head with regards to her husband and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was portayed here as probably not someone who I would like very much, its always interesting seeing how different authors portray Elizabeth.

A brilliant example of great historical fiction IMO.

Sometimes I look upon Jean Plaidy's work as historical non-fiction fictionalised if that makes any sense!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

The Queen's Sorrow by Suzannah Dunn

A queen brought low by love compromised and power abused -- the tragedy of Mary Tudor. Plain, dutiful and a passionate Catholic, Mary Tudor was overjoyed by joy when she became England's queen. After the misery of her childhood, when her father had rejected her mother, and effectively disowned his daughter, Mary felt at last that she was achieving her destiny. And when she marries Philip of Spain, her happiness is complete. But Mary's delight quickly turns sour as she realises that her husband does not love her. In fact he finds her devotion irritating. Desperate for a baby, she begins to believe that God is punishing her. Her people are horrified at the severity of the measures she takes and begin to turn against their queen who is lonely, frightened -- and desperate for love. Rafael, a member of Philip of Spain's entourage, is a reluctant witness to the unfolding tragedy and as the once-feted queen tightens her cruel hold on the nation, Rafael becomes closer to Mary and his life -- and new-found love -- are caught up in the terrible chaos that follows.

My View
I always felt the reviews I read of Suzannah Dunn's books really gave her a raw deal while yes she is not the greatest historical fiction writer she is (was?) far from the worst but, this book really was dire.

Basically the story of Mary Tudor is told through the eye of a member of her husband (Prince Philip of Spain's) entourage. It doesn't even really tell the story, actually at the beginning I thought it was going to turn into a pretty good book but, nothing ever seemed to happen. This book was mostly about someone who is really not very interesting.

I am sorry to say that I probably won't read another of Ms. Dunn's books unless I see it get really rave reviews - this really is the worst yet, her previous book on Katherine Parr really was not too bad and the previous was OK.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Elizabeth & The Prince Of Spain by Margaret Irwin

Philip of Spain, unwilling bridegroom of Queen Mary, has been warned about the Queen's half-sister, the young Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn. According to all reports, she is a heretic, a rebel and a potential enemy with 'a spirit full of enchantment'. But Philip is not deterred, and Elizabeth must advance warily towards her destiny, running the gauntlet between Bloody Mary's jealousy and morbid outbursts of hate, and Philip's uneasy ardour...

My View

The final instalment of Margaret Irwin's brilliant Elizabeth trilogy, as I have said before the descriptions here are brilliant and that continues in this book, I would say this is probably the weakest book of the three not that that is a bad thing as this was a very good series I just felt it didn't keep my interest as much as the others.

As far as a portrait of Elizabeth goes this was not the greatest I think I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles and Queen of this Realm by Jean Plaidy are very hard to beat but, then this is a different kind of storyline, that said still a brilliant Elizabethan saga and very well written.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Elizabeth, Captive Princess by Margaret Irwin

In July, 1553, sibling rivalry has never been more tumultuous and perilous than between the daughters of King Henry VIII. Queen Mary Tudor has just won possession of the throne, but her younger half-sister - the beautiful and vivacious Princess Elizabeth - holds the hearts of the people. Knowing this, Mary banishes her sibling to a country retreat, determined to keep her as far away from court life and any powerful supporters she has there as possible.But Mary's health is fading fast and her power beginning to crumble. The people of England are crying out for a new monarch and it seems, at last, they may have their wish and crown their beloved Bess as queen...But Mary refuses to relinquish the throne, determined to rule to the absolute end as her father did before her. In a final show of strength, Mary orders Elizabeth's imprisonment in the Tower of London, there to await her execution. In these treacherous times, when all about her there is secrecy and deception, Elizabeth must rely on her faith and courage if she is to survive her ordeal and rise to fulfil her destiny.

My View
This is the second in Margaret Irwin's Elizabeth trilogy and the same excellent writing that we saw in Young Bess is prevelent here. This book covers the period when Elizabeth's half-sister Mary Tudor was on the throne. Beautifully descriptive this really gives you the feel for the time period, I think descriptions of clothing, houses etc are so important with historical novels and they were such brilliant descriptions.

For me Elizabeth I was along with her mother one of the most fascinating and interesting of all historical people and I cannot read enough books about either of them, this was very addictive reading and well worth a read if you love the Tudor period.