The Queen’s Rival by Anne O’Brien (ARC Review)

The Queen’s Rival by Anne O’Brien

About the author


Sunday Times bestselling author Anne O’Brien was born in West Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master’s in Education at Hull, she lived in East Yorkshire for many years as a teacher of history.

Today she has sold over 250,000 copies of her books in the UK and lives with her husband in an eighteenth-century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire. The area provides endless inspiration for her novels about the forgotten women of history.


One family united by blood. Torn apart by war…

England, 1459: Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, is embroiled in a plot to topple the weak-minded King Henry VI from the throne. But when the Yorkists are defeated at the Battle of Ludford Bridge, Cecily’s family flee and abandon her to face a marauding Lancastrian army on her own.

Cecily can only watch as her lands are torn apart and divided up by the ruthless Queen Marguerite. From the towers of her prison in Tonbridge Castle, the Duchess begins to spin a web of deceit – one that will eventually lead to treason, to the fall of King Henry VI, and to her eldest son being crowned King Edward IV.

This is a story of heartbreak, ambition and treachery, of one woman’s quest to claim the throne during the violence and tragedy of the Wars of the Roses.


I will be honest when I started to read this book I was a little put off by the story having been written in the form of letters and I found it hard to get into the style of the book to begin with. However, once I got used to the style I really started to enjoy the book and loved seeing a different side to such well known names from history.

Cecily Neville is a strong woman who is not afraid of a fight and does not stand down easily. She is proud and determined to get the very best for her family. I loved Cecily’s strength through this book and even at times she faced alarming things like her husband leaving her and three small children to face an army ransack her home and town she stood firm, she did not hide but made her children watch and learn the dangers of an army. She never gave up even when weighed down in grief and kept strong for her family.

My favourite letters in this book were between Cecily and her two sisters, I must admit they did leave me giggling at times. Sisterly love at its finest with side notes of snide remarks. I also loved the letters from Cecily’s sons to her because you can tell at times they are really fed up of their mother’s interference and constant nagging letters.

I enjoyed this book and found it interesting how O’Brien chose to write the story in the form of letters and documents. It made me wonder if O’Brien was trying to make her book a little different from all the other Historical fiction that is out there. I recommend this book to all Historical fiction fans and I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

Thank you to NetGally and HQ for providing me with an advanced copy of this book.

To preorder this book please follow the links below

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(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)


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WWW Wednesday: 17/06/2020

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The rules are answer the questions below and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you will read next?


Hello! This post is a little later than expected but here it is. Not much reading done this week I will be honest.


What I am Currently Reading


I am so close to finishing this, I have literally 12% left to read. I am thoroughly enjoying it.


What I have recently finished reading


Loved this book so much! Click on the picture for the review.


What I plan to read next


No big list this week as I have chosen this to read next and I am very excited to start it.


So that is my WWW Wednesday, please drop me a link with your WWW Wednesday and if you have any thoughts on the books I have listed.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Summer 2020 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For more info please check out Jana’s blog.

Hello and happy Tuesday!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is an interesting one for me because as most of you know I’m not great with planning my reading as I am a mood reader. This in mind I have chosen ten books that I really want to read soon and hopefully I will get round to reading them over the summer.

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths

The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory

The King’s Sister by Anne O’Brien

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

The 100 by Kass Morgan

Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir

Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir

Anna of Kleve: The Princess in the Portrait by Alison Weir


Drop me a comment with your Top Ten Tuesday link or if you have any thoughts on the books I have listed.

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Books I’m Excited About #2


I have more books that I am excited about and I have preordered them because I am that excited. Most of them appear to be coming out in October, so October could be a very expensive month!

So here is what I have recently preordered…


Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

I love the sound of this book and Susanna Clarke is an excellent writer so I’m really looking forward to this book.



Created and edited by Adam Kay (author of multi-million best seller ‘This is Going to Hurt’), ‘DEAR NHS’ features household names telling their personal stories of the health service. Contributors include Joanna Lumley, Naomie Harris, Kate Tempest, Lee Child, Tanni Grey Thomson, Bill Bryson, Trevor McDonald, Jack Whitehall, Michael Palin, Stanley Tucci and many, many more.





I love Adam Kay and find his books very emotional so I am looking forward to reading this book and will make sure I have a box of tissues ready just in case.




The story of Troy speaks to all of us – the kidnapping of Helen, a queen celebrated for her beauty, sees the Greeks launch a thousand ships against that great city, to which they will lay siege for ten whole and very bloody years.

It is Zeus, the king of the gods, who triggers war when he asks the Trojan prince Paris to judge the fairest goddess of them all. Aphrodite bribes Paris with the heart of Helen, wife of King Menelaus of the Greeks, and naturally, nature takes its course.

It is a terrible, brutal war with casualties on all sides. The Greeks cannot defeat the Trojans – since Achilles, the Greek’s boldest warrior, is consumed with jealousy over an ally’s choice of lover, the Trojan slave Briseis, and will not fight . . .

The stage is set for the oldest and greatest story ever told, where monstrous passions meet the highest ideals and the lowest cunning.

In Troy you will find heroism and hatred, love and loss, revenge and regret, desire and despair. It is these human passions, written bloodily in the sands of a distant shore, that still speak to us today.

I love this ancient story so it will be interesting to see what Stephen Fry’s take of this legendary story is.



In 1987, when Hilary Mantel was first published in the London Review of Books, she wrote to the editor, Karl Miller, ‘I have no critical training whatsoever, so I am forced to be more brisk and breezy than scholarly.’ This collection of twenty reviews, essays and pieces of memoir from the next three decades, tells the story of what happened next.

Her subjects range far and wide: Robespierre and Danton, the Hite report, Saudi Arabia where she lived for four years in the 1980s, the Bulger case, John Osborne, the Virgin Mary as well as the pop icon Madonna, a brilliant examination of Helen Duncan, Britain’s last witch. There are essays about Jane Boleyn, Charles Brandon, Christopher Marlowe and Margaret Pole, which display the astonishing insight into the Tudor mind we are familiar with from the bestselling Wolf Hall Trilogy. Her famous lecture, ‘Royal Bodies’, which caused a media frenzy, explores the place of royal women in society and our imagination. Here too are some of her LRB diaries, including her first meeting with her stepfather and a confrontation with a circus strongman.

Constantly illuminating, always penetrating and often very funny, interleaved with letters and other ephemera gathered from the archive, Mantel Pieces is an irresistible selection from one of our greatest living writers.

Very excited to learn more about such a talented writer.

So there is my list of recently preordered books. I am really looking forward to when they arrive at my front door, but I must be patient.

Please drop me a comment if you want to chat about these upcoming books or any books that you are also excited about.

Happy reading.

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Rain Before Rainbows by Smriti Prasadam-Halls (Review)

Rain Before Rainbows by Smriti Prasadam-Halls, David Litchfield (Illustrations)

About the author


Smriti Prasadam-Halls is an award-winning, internationally best-selling children’s author whose books have been published in more than thirty languages. Her titles include the Publishers Weekly #1 bestseller I Love You Night and Day, illustrated by Alison Brown. Smriti Prasadam-Halls previously worked at the BBC and in children’s publishing and television as a writer and editor for twelve years. She lives in London with her husband and three sons.

About the illustrator


David Litchfield is an illustrator from Bedfordshire in the U.K.


In this heartfelt story about courage, change, and moving on, a girl and her companion fox travel together away from a sorrowful past, through challenging and stormy times, toward colour and light and life. Along the way they find friends to guide and support them, and when the new day dawns, it is full of promise. With gorgeous, richly realised illustrations and immense hope at its heart, Rain Before Rainbows holds out a ray of sunshine for anyone looking for light.


I discovered this book a few days ago and I must admit I fell in love with it straight away. The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful and I got my husband to read it straight after me as I wanted him to see this wonderful book as well. Although the physical book of this is not released yet so I had to enjoy the digital version but the digital version on Kindle and Apple Books is free.

This book has been written for people going through a difficult period which with lockdown in place people have found the world a rather different place and this book is all about finding the light in dark places.

Rain Before Rainbows is a wonderful book for children and adults alike. The message is all about hope and that with friends and support from others you can get through the darkness. The girl and her friend the fox go on a journey to find a new and better day, they meet new friends and find a new day with hope and promise.

I highly recommend this book to everyone and I give this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons. I have also preordered myself the hardback copy of this book because I love it so much.

Purchase Links

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(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)


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First Lines Friday: 12/06/2020

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!



Welcome to my first ever First Lines Friday! I have been following this weekly feature for a while now and have decided to give it a go because I have been enjoying reading people’s posts and trying to guess the book.

So here are the first lines…

(The answer is below the cats!)

Her skin was rather sallow, Anne thought as she studied herself in the silver mirror, and she had too many moles, but at least her face was a fashionable oval. At eleven she had no womanly figure to speak of, but that hopefully would change in the next year or so.




The answer is Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir


Fresh from the palaces of Burgundy and France, Anne draws attention at the English court, embracing the play of courtly love.

But when the King commands, nothing is ever a game.

Anne has a spirit worthy of a crown – and the crown is what she seeks. At any price.


So that is my First Lines Friday! Please drop me a link with your First Lines Friday and I will head over for a visit.

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WWW Wednesday: 10/06/2020

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The rules are answer the questions below and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you will read next?


It’s that time again everyone! Here is what I have been up to in my book world.


What I am currently reading


I started this yesterday and so far it is proving to be very enjoyable.


What I recently finished reading


I loved this book so much, here is my review.


What I think I will read next

As per usual I’m never sure what I will read next but here are some of the options that I might consider.


So that is my WWW Wednesday, please drop me a comment with your WWW Wednesday or any thoughts of the books I have listed. 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ve Added to my TBR and Forgotten Why

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For more info please check out Jana’s blog.

This is a perfect subject for me because my TBR list is full of books I can’t remember why I added them. This will be hard to just choose ten so I have gone for authors I have never read before or indeed heard of before! I really can’t even remember adding these books to honest.


Penelope’s Daughter by Laurel Corona

With or Without Pulp by Michael J. Elsey

Grave Robbers by Sherry Allred

Apricots and Wolfsbane by K. M. Pohlkamp

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

White Lady by Jessica Bell

The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Powell



So that is my chosen ten. Please drop me a comment with the link to your Top Ten Tuesday and I will head over for a visit.

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (Review)

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

About the author


Suzanne Collins (born August 10, 1962) is an American television writer and author. She is known as the author of The Underland Chronicles and The Hunger Games trilogy.


It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to out charm, outwit, and out manoeuvre his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favour or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.


I was so excited when I saw this book was being released as I love The Hunger Games trilogy so I immediately preordered the book and started reading it as soon as it arrived on my doorstep. I will be honest I did not read it as quickly as I wanted but my course reading delayed things slightly, otherwise this book would have been finished in a very short period of time as I could not put it down.

It was so wonderful to revisit the world of The Hunger Games again and I was not disappointed. I know a lot of people have not been happy with this book but I think it is because they weren’t expecting it to be about a young President Snow and how he came to be. I also liked how different this book was from The Hunger Games, it was a lot more philosophical and thought provoking than the trilogy. It really made me think about the human condition and what a human can be capable of in the right conditions.

Seeing an early version of the Hunger Games before all the glamour and showbiz that appears in the trilogy was really interesting. The arena was a plain old beaten up sports arena and nothing fancy, it was a very different perspective. The tributes were also treated very differently and I felt really sorry for them, especially Lucy Gray.

Lucy Gray was an interesting character who I couldn’t help but feel sorry for. This poor girl  who loves music and is very gifted has the roughest ride possible. She also sings the song that we know so well from The Hunger Games. I really liked Lucy Gray and the Covey, they were interesting characters and I would have loved to have learned more about them.

Seeing Snow as an 18 year old boy and learning about how he lived through the war was also an eye opener that you do not see in the trilogy. The war was brutal for everyone and the things that people resorted to to survive were extreme and not something usually seen when the world is normal.

This story is primarily the development of the tyrant President Snow and how he came to be how he is. You can see how this 18 year old will make choices in his life to get where he wants to be. He won’t care who gets in his way or who gets hurt, the only thing that matters is that he gets to the top.

Overall, I loved this book and highly recommend it but I know some Hunger Games fans will not agree as it is rather different. I give this book a big 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase Links

AmazonAudibleKindleBook DepositoryWaterstones

(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)


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Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Give off Summer Vibes

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For more info please check out Jana’s blog.


I love this week’s topic especially as at the moment we are having such lovely weather. This is a hard topic for me as I don’t tend to read books that inspire summer vibes and the ones that I have chosen you will probably find strange. Last year whilst sat on the beach I read a book of Gothic Tales and a horror story, not exactly summer reading but it is what I love. Anyway here goes…


Jaws by Peter Benchley


I know a book about a man eating shark doesn’t tend to set the scene for a nice summer but I loved it and it put me in a summery mood last year.








Five Get Beach Body Ready by Enid Blyton



Ok, this isn’t by Enid Blyton but they are her characters and they are characters that always made me think of the summer holidays. I loved reading this book and remembering how I loved to read The Famous Five, to me the Famous Five are all about having adventures on holiday.







The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame



What can be more summer inspiring than pottering around in boats on the river? Wind in the Willows gets my vote!








Beach Read by Emily Henry



This one I haven’t read but it is on my TBR list. The title says it all really.








Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote



This one inspires summery vibes in me because it is my dream to go on holiday to New York and have breakfast at Tiffany’s. We had planned to go this year but for obvious reasons this did not happen. Hopefully one day.






The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen



Another odd one but it is set in Venice where I also want to visit. The descriptions in this book of Venice are wonderful and when I read it last year it made me want to visit even more.







Chocolat by Joanne Harris



It has been a long time since I have read this book and I must admit I would like to read it again at some point. I know it has Easter Eggs on the front and part of it is set in the time of Easter but it is about chocolate and an isolated French village. To me it screams holidays!






Three Men in a Boat by Jerome. K. Jerome



Another boat related book. There is something so appealing about boating in the summer, or just water in general to be honest.









Swallows and Amazons



Ok, another boat related book and a children’s book but I read this as an adult and loved it! Summer holidays are for me about adventures and seeing new things.







The Heat Wave by Kate Riordan



This looks intriguing and it is currently on my TBR list. Set in the South of France it surely can’t help but promote summer vibes.







So that is my random selection of books that promote summery vibes for me. I know rather odd in places but it works for me. Please drop me a comment with your thoughts and also a link to your Top Ten Tuesday. Thanks for stopping by.

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