Stories To Make You Smile edited by Fanny Blake (Review)

Stories To Make You Smile edited by Fanny Blake

Blurb

A seriously entertaining collection of feel good stories guaranteed to put the smile back on your face written especially by ten bestselling novelists:

Jenny Éclair

Mark Watson

Veronica Henry

Eva Verde

Richard Madeley

Katie Fforde

Dorothy Koomson

Vaseem Khan

Helen Lederer

Rachel Hore

From a hilarious race against time to a moment of unexpected eavesdropping, from righting wrongs in rural India to finding joy in unlikely places, these stories are all rich in wit and humour, guaranteed to lift your spirits and warm your heart.

Stories to Make you Smile is a co-commission between The Reading Agency and Specsavers as part of World Book Night 2021.

Review

I noticed this book appearing on my bookstagram a great deal this month so I thought I would give it a go. The plus side is that it is free on kindle and I can never refuse a free book. 

This book did not take me long to read, I read the first three stories whilst having a nice cup of tea and finished the rest of the book today during the nice sunny bank holiday weather. The book could easily be read in one sitting though and each story takes less than ten minutes to read. 

I love the idea of this book and was excited to read it but I will be honest that I was rather underwhelmed with some of stories and actually had to reread two to remind myself what they were about. My favourite story is probably the first one Behind My Fat Back by Jenny Ecalir, I just really wanted to tell the main character ‘good on you!’. 

Job Opportunity by Richard Madeley I found rather funny and it made me have a little laugh and it was made even better to find out it was a true story. Some of the stories like The Wrong Cake and Schooled I just found a little ridiculous. 

All in all it was a good read that filled a gap whilst having a nice cup of tea and a biscuit. A quick read at only 143 pages long but rather underwhelming that I give 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

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The Weekly Brief

Happy Bank Holiday Weekend!

I hope everyone is having a good weekend so far!

Here is what has been happening on the blog this week.

Posts this Week

Currently Reading

Books Acquired

So there is my week. A little bit better on the blogging front this week.

Happy Reading.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Katharine Parr: The Sixth Wife by Alison Weir (Review)

Katharine Parr: The Sixth Wife by Alison Weir

Blurb

Two husbands dead; a life marred by sadness. And now Katharine is in love for the first time in her life.

The eye of an ageing and dangerous king falls upon her. She cannot refuse him. She must stifle her feelings and never betray that she wanted another.

And now she is the sixth wife. Her queenship is a holy mission yet, fearfully, she dreams of the tragic parade of women who went before her. She cherishes the secret beliefs that could send her to the fire. And still the King loves and trusts her. 

Now her enemies are closing in. She must fight for her very life.

KATHARINE PARR – the last of Henry’s queens. 

Alison Weir recounts the extraordinary story of a woman forced into a perilous situation and rising heroically to the challenge. Katharine is a delightful woman, a warm and kindly heroine – and yet she will be betrayed by those she loves and trusts most. 

Too late, the truth will dawn on her. 

Review

Katharine Parr is the one wife of Henry VIII that I have never really known much about and to be honest that is due to my own fault as I have never found her as interesting as the other wives. I now realise that I was very wrong about Katharine Parr, she was indeed a very interesting character. 

Katharine Parr had a life marred by sadness, she lost her father at an early age but had a happy childhood due to her aunt and uncle and her very forward thinking mother who believed women should have the same education as men. However, she had to leave the happy home to get married to her first husband and although her husband was friendly things were not as they seemed. Sadly, Katharine is widowed early but she soon finds happiness with her second husband and finds the love of a loving step daughter. Katharine’s life is happy but she is frustrated with the fact she has to keep her true beliefs hidden from the public eye. 

Sadly, Katharine is widowed again but happiness in the form of Tom Seymour presents itself but at the same time King Henry also wants her hand and because Katharine believes she can do some good she accepts and puts her own happiness on hold. I do believe though that the thought of being queen is also a big draw to marrying the king as in the book Katharine really does love her pretty gowns, jewellery and her major passion which is shoes. 

Katharine is a kind woman who wants to help her step children in any way she can and is an advocate for religion and education. The one problem I had with her was how heartless she could be and it was obvious she was not a mother herself. The things she said to people who had lost children were terrible and although she thought what she said was a help it really wasn’t. I also found her rather naive when it came to Tom Seymour. For such a strong woman it would appear she was easily deceived when it came to her fourth husband. 

This was an excellent read that I thoroughly enjoyed it and loved learning more about Katharine as a woman. She was strong willed and forward thinking for the time and because she had power she was able to get away with her beliefs. This is an excellent series of books and this was an excellent ending. The series teaches us about the queens of Henry VIII but not just their time as queen but their whole lives and that is the beauty of these books. I give this book 5 out 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

First Lines Friday: 28/05/2021

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Hello!

I haven’t done one of these for ages so I thought it was high time I took part again.

So here are the opening lines of the book. Remember the answer is below the cats.

No mortal alive had ever seen a Spindle.

Echoes of them lingered, in places remembered or forgotten, in people touched by magic, in creatures descendant of other realms. But no Spindle had burned in an age. The last of them was a thousand years gone. The passages closed, the gates locked. The age of crossing ended.

Get guessing!

Have you guessed the answer?

And the answer is???

A strange darkness grows in Allward.

Even Corayne an-Amarat can feel it, tucked away in her small town at the edge of the sea.

She soon discovers the truth: She is the last of an ancient lineage—and the last hope to save the world from destruction. But she won’t be alone. Even as darkness falls, she is joined by a band of unlikely companions:

A squire, forced to choose between home and honor.
An immortal, avenging a broken promise.
An assassin, exiled and bloodthirsty.
An ancient sorceress, whose riddles hide an eerie foresight.
A forger with a secret past.
A bounty hunter with a score to settle.

Together they stand against a vicious opponent, invincible and determined to burn all kingdoms to ash, and an army unlike anything the realm has ever witnessed.

Please drop me a comment with your First Lines Friday and will head over for a visit.

Happy Reading.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Friday Poetry: Maya Angelou

Happy Friday!

I hope you all have some exciting plans for the long weekend ahead. I’m hoping to get some reading done but I also have a lot of studying to do as well.

My chosen poem today is by Maya Angelou (1928-2014) who was an American poet, memorise and civil rights activist.

Life Doesn't Frighten Me

Shadows on the wall
Noises down the hall
Life doesn't frighten me at all
Bad dogs barking loud
Big ghosts in a cloud
Life doesn't frighten me at all. 

Mean old Mother Goose
Lions on the loose
They don't frighten me at all
Dragons breathing flame
On my counterpane
That doesn't frighten me at all.

I go boo
Make them shoo
I make fun
Way they run
I won't cry 
So they fly
I just smile
They go wild
Life doesn't frighten me at all.

Tough guys fight
All alone at night
Life doesn't frighten me at all
Panthers in the park
Strangers in the dark
No, they don't frighten me at all.

That new classroom where
Boys all pull my hair
(Kissy little girls
With their hair in curls)
They don't frighten me at all.

Don't show me frogs and snakes
And listen for my scream,
If I'm afraid at all
It's only in my dreams.

I've got a magic charm 
That I keep up my sleeve,
I can walk the ocean floor
And never have to breathe.

Life doesn't frighten me at all
Not at all
Not at all.
Life doesn't frighten me at all.

Maya Angelou

I know the picture isn’t a Mother Goose on her nest but it is a swan I saw on the nest yesterday.

Happy Friday!

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Mid Week Quote: Frank Sinatra

Happy Wednesday.

Now I was rather naughty and forgot last weeks quote of the week, so my apologies and I promise I will try to do better.

My chosen quote this week is by Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) who was an American singer and actor.

 “The big lesson in life, baby, is never be scared of anyone or anything.”

Frank Sinatra

Happy Reading

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Goodreads Monday: 24/05/2021

Goodreads Monday is hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners.  All you have to do is show off a book from your TBR that you’re looking forward to reading.

Hello!

I hope everyone has had a good start to the week so far. I sadly have not due to work problems but thankfully I got some research in and other bits and pieces so the day wasn’t a total loss.

The book off my Goodreads TBR that I have chosen to feature this week is…

England 1648. A dangerous time for a woman to be different . . .

Midsummer’s Eve, 1648, and England is in the grip of a civil war between renegade King and rebellious Parliament. The struggle reaches every corner of the kingdom, even to the remote Tidelands – the marshy landscape of the south coast. 

Alinor, a descendant of wise women, crushed by poverty and superstition, waits in the graveyard under the full moon for a ghost who will declare her free from her abusive husband. Instead, she meets James, a young man on the run, and shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marsh, not knowing that she is leading disaster into the heart of her life.

Suspected of possessing dark secrets in superstitious times, Alinor’s ambition and determination mark her out from her neighbors. This is the time of witch-mania, and Alinor, a woman without a husband, skilled with herbs, suddenly enriched, arouses envy in her rivals and fear among the villagers, who are ready to take lethal action into their own hands. 

I love Philippa Gregory and buy her books as soon as they are published and usually read them pretty quickly as well but for some reason I have not got around to this one yet. I actually tried reading it when it first came out but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind at the time and chose a really easy read instead. Hopefully, this will be the year that I read it because I have also got the next one in the series ready and waiting as well.

Please drop me a comment with your Goodreads Monday and I will head over for a visit.

Happy Reading.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

The Weekly Brief

Hello!

I hope everyone is having a good weekend so far. It has been another busy week where sadly the blog has suffered again. I will try to be a better blogger I promise!

Posts this Week

Currently Reading

Absolutely loving this so far.

Happy Reading

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Friday Poetry: Jack Prelutsky

Happy Friday!

I hope everyone has some good plans for the weekend.

My chosen poem today is all about how boredom is a state of mind and that if you choose to be bored you might miss things in life.

Today Is Very Boring

Today is very boring,
it's a very boring day,
there is nothing much to look at, 
there is nothing much to say,
there's a peacock on my sneakers,
there's a penguin on my head,
there's a dormouse on my doorstep,
I am going back to bed.

Today is very boring,
it is boring through and through,
there is absolutely nothing
that I think I want to do,
I see giants riding rhinos,
and an ogre with a sword,
there's a dragon blowing smoke rings,
I am positively bored.

Today is very boring,
I can hardly help but yawn,
there's a flying saucer landing
in the middle of my lawn,
a volcano just erupted
less than half a mile away,
and I think I felt an earthquake,
it's a very boring day.

Jack Prelutsky

Happy Reading

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Katheryn Howard: The Tainted Queen by Alison Weir (Review)

Katheryn Howard: The Tainted Queen by Alison Weir

Blurb

A naive girl, thrust forward by her ambitious family. A pretty girl, who has captured the heart of the King. Katheryn sings, she dances, she delights in the pleasures of being queen. The King tells the world she is his rose without a thorn.

But this young woman has a past of which Henry knows nothing. It comes back increasingly to haunt her, even as she courts danger yet again. For those who gather roses must beware of the thorns.

Review

I started reading this and could not put it down, thankfully I had handed in my latest assignment as I would have been thoroughly distracted. Alison Weir really does keep producing some amazing books and they seem to be getting better and better. 

Katheryn Howard is Henry VIII’s fifth wife and one who was used by her family and did not  remain Henry’s wife for long. Katheryn lost her mother at an early age and was then passed from one relation to another until she reached the household of her Grandam. The household of her Grandam contains many young women and these young women lack morals and soon Katheryn is following their example and also taking it further. 

When Katheryn serves Anna of Kleve she catches the King’s eye and so her uncle the Duke of Norfolk and her Grandam take advantage of this and make sure that the King only has eyes for Katheryn. 

Katheryn has lacked guidance and makes some naive decisions before she is married and sadly these come back to haunt her when she is married to Henry. Henry loves and adores Katheryn and will do anything for her happiness and Katheryn finds herself very happy whilst married to him but also she lives in constant fear.

Katheryn was basically a very naive and silly young woman who knew the risks but lived in a world of delusion where she thought she wouldn’t be found out and she was wrongly used by her family and those she trusted. 

I always felt sorry for Katheryn because if she had had better guidance as a child and teenager I believe she wouldn’t have made the decisions that she did but sadly she might still have been used by her family. Weir really builds a wonderful picture of Katheryn’s life and even though I know her story well I could not stop reading to see what happened next. I did want to shake Katheryn at times and tell her to grow up but this didn’t affect the love I have for this book. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you