Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy (Review)

Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy 

Blurb

Under the Greenwood Tree is Hardy’s most bright, confident and optimistic novel. This delightful portrayal of a picturesque rural society, tinged with gentle humour and quiet irony, established Hardy as a writer.

However, the novel is not merely a charming rural idyll. The double-plot, in which the love story of Dick Dewey and Fancy Day is inter-related with a tragic chapter in the history of Mellstock Choir, hints at the poignant disappearance of a long-lived and highly-valued traditional way of life.

Review

Thomas Hardy is one of my favourite authors and I am hoping to one day manage to read all of his novels. This book had been sat on my TBR pile for way too long so I decided it was high time to read this book. 

To start with I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. I think what drew me into this book so much was the church musicians. As a church organist and a musician myself I found the church musicians fascinating and I also found it sad as the church traditions were slowly being eroded away by a forward thinking vicar who is not quite so considerate of his congregation but is very happy to blame the church wardens for his decisions. Having recently read Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot I found quite a few parallels between the two books. 

I also loved how the church band are very anti clarinets and clarinet players. As a reluctant clarinet player myself I found this hilarious! I also loved how they use Dumbledore as an insult, turns out Dumbledore doesn’t just mean bumblebee. 

The other plot in this book is the love story of Dick and Fancy. Dick is a hard working lad who falls instantly head over heels for Fancy and in that moment decides to make himself worthy of her. In all honesty Fancy is not worthy of Dick, she is clearly very spoiled and quite frankly vain and shallow. Dick on the other hand will walk for miles in the rain to be a pallbearer for a friend’s funeral, Dick will go out of his way to help people and is honest and kind hearted. 

I struggled after a while with this book. I disliked Fancy’s character which didn’t help because I really wanted people to see her true character. I also struggled with the local dialect. Having to constantly read the local dialect slowed things down for me and made reading a bit of a hard slog. Overall, I liked the plot line of the church musicians, although I did find it sad but the storyline of Dick and Fancy I could have happily done without. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

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About the author

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot. He was highly critical of much in Victorian society, especially on the declining status of rural people in Britain.

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A Secret Affair by Barbara Taylor Bradford (Review)

A Secret Affair by Barbara Taylor Bradford

Blurb

Seeking some much-needed rest and relaxation after a long stint as a TV-news war correspondent in Bosnia, 33-year-old Bill Fitzgerald travels to Venice. There he is struck by the dark beauty of a young American woman, Vanessa Stewart, a 27-year-old glass designer from New York. Unhappily married, she welcomes a no-strings friendship with Bill. Soon they embark on an illicit affair and find themselves desperately in love. They vow to see each other whenever and wherever they can. But on their third meeting, one of them does not show up.

Review

I do like Barbara Taylor Bradford but I will be honest I haven’t read any of her books since I was a teenager so when I saw this book at a National Trust second hand bookshop I knew I had to have it and get reading her books again. 

This book is considerably smaller than her books from the Emma Harte series so it didn’t take me long to read. However, sadly it wasn’t quality over quantity with this book. There was no real story to this book and when a story really started to come through the book was over which I found very disappointing. 

Bill is a war reporter who has clearly led an interesting life but it is also a life which has at times been quite sad. I would have loved to have learned a bit more about Bill and his history but sadly we only get a small snippet of his life in this book. I also found it interesting that after months and months living in a war zone he chooses to go to Venice rather than going home to spend time with his family but maybe that is just me. 

Vanessa is another interesting character in this book who I found quite fascinating but yet again I found the background and history of this character lacking. Vanessa is in an unhappy marriage and so meeting Bill is like a breath of fresh air in her life. Meeting Bill also makes her face up to some things in her life and make some hard decisions. 

I will be honest in my opinion this book was not up to Barbara Taylor Bradford’s usual standard. Her characters fell flat for me and the storyline just went from event to another without any real padding. It was like she had made an outline of the story with a timeline of events but had forgotten to add in the extra bits that give her books the usual flare. I really debated my rating of this book and have changed my mind more than once on what I wanted to rate this book as. I finally decided 3 out of 5 Dragons because although this book was lacking a few things for me I still enjoyed it. 

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About the author

Barbara Taylor Bradford is the author of 30 bestselling novels, including The Cavendon Women, Cavendon Hall, and The Ravenscar Dynasty. She was born in Leeds, England, and from an early age, she was a voracious reader: at age 12, she had already read all of Dickens and the Brontë sisters. By the age of twenty, she was an editor and columnist on Fleet Street. She published her first novel, A Woman of Substance, in 1979, and it has become an enduring bestseller.

Barbara Taylor Bradford’s books are published in over 90 countries in 40 languages, with sales figures in excess of 88 million. Ten of her novels have been adapted into television mini-series starring actors including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Liam Neeson, Deborah Kerr and Elizabeth Hurley. She has been inducted into the Writers Hall of Fame of America, and in June of 2007, Barbara was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II for her contributions to Literature.

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The Empty House by Rosamunde Pilcher (Review)

The Empty House by Rosamunde Pilcher

Blurb

Virginia Keile has a secret dream. To have a second chance at loving the tall, handsome Cornish farmer she met – and foolishly lost – the heady summer she was a debutante. Life has taught Virginia a great deal in twenty-seven years – about wedding a titled bachelor picked out by her mother, about a lonely marriage that ended in her husband’s accidental death, and about nearly losing her children to her husband’s mother and bossy Nanny. Now she has come back to picturesque Cornwall to rent a battered seaside cottage. For herself and for the children. And to discover if this time she can fill an empty house with love.

Review

Pilcher is one of my all time favourite authors but I still haven’t read all of her books. This one was on offer on the Kindle so I bought it for my holiday. 

I enjoyed this book but sadly I didn’t gel with the main character Virginia. Virginia has spent her entire life so far being pushed around and told what to do, either by her mother, her husband, her mother in law and the family Nanny. Virginia is very good at making excuses, she has a lot of excuses for why she didn’t try to get back into touch with Eustace, she has excuses for why she doesn’t look after her own children and many more besides. To be honest I really disliked Virginia because she was such a weak character. 

Virginia really made her mother out as a baddie but actually I can see some of the reasons behind her mothers actions. Yes, she was also a bit of nightmare but overall she wanted the best for her daughter and wanted to protect her from a man who was a good deal older than her daughter. But Virginia as usual made it out as all her mothers fault rather than taking the blame herself. 

The book really paints Virginia as a victim but to be honest I have little sympathy for her. I also didn’t really like Eustace as he was rude and a bit of a bully. The thing that saved this story for me was Pilcher’s amazing descriptions and nobody can create an atmosphere like Pilcher. Pilcher’s writing is excellent but sadly I just didn’t get along with her characters. Overall, my rating is 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

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About the author

Rosamunde Pilcher was born on the 22nd September 1924 in Cornwall. She began writing when she was 7 and published her first short story at the age of 15. From 1943 to 1946 she served with the Women’s Royal Naval Service. In 1946 she married her Graham Hope Pilcher and they moved to Dundee, Scotland together. In 1949 Pilcher’s first novel was published under the pseudonym Jane Fraser, she went on to publish a further ten novels under that name. In 1955 she published her first novel under her own name, by 1965 she had dropped the pseudonym entirely. Pilcher retired from writing in 2000, two years later she received her OBE.

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Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (Review)

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Blurb

This is a seductive and evocative epic on an intimate scale, which tells the extraordinary story of a geisha girl. Summoning up more than twenty years of Japan’s most dramatic history, it uncovers a hidden world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation. From a small fishing village in 1929, the tale moves to the glamorous and decadent heart of Kyoto in the 1930s, where a young peasant girl is sold as servant and apprentice to a renowned geisha house. She tells her story many years later from the Waldorf Astoria in New York; it exquisitely evokes another culture, a different time and the details of an extraordinary way of life. It conjures up the perfection and the ugliness of life behind rice-paper screens, where young girls learn the arts of geisha – dancing and singing, how to wind the kimono, how to walk and pour tea, and how to beguile the most powerful men.

Review

This book has been sat on my TBR list since 2019 and due to an unexpected hour long break at work where I found myself without a book I fired up the Kindle app on my phone and began reading this book and then found I couldn’t put it down. 

This book begins in a small fishing village in a shack where there live two sisters and their parents. The father is a poor fisherman and when the mother falls sick a local successful businessman suggests sending the two daughters to the city for a new life which the father eventually agrees to. The story then moves to a geisha house in Kyoto where the youngest of the two sisters starts her new life. 

The story is told from the first person perspective of the younger sister who is called Chiyo. Chiyo begins her life in the Okiya as a servant where she must win the approval of those who now own her who she knows as Mother and Granny. If Mother and Granny approve of her she will be trained as a Geisha. However, there is someone who stands in her way and that is the Geisha who currently lives in the Okiya called Hatsumomo. Hatsumomo is an evil woman who has taken a dislike to Chiyo and through the story Hatsumomo works her hardest to stop Chiyo from advancing in anything. 

As the story goes on we learn how Chiyo becomes a Geisha and gets her Geisha name of Sayuri and what her life entails. We also learn how and who helps her to get to her life as a Geisha. Sayuri is telling us her story from her home in New York many years later. She shows us how the life of a Geisha isn’t all luxury but it is hard work and dominated by the world of men. A Geisha spends her whole existence trying to beguile and please men. 

This book is so full on and really informative and that is one of the main reasons I could not put it down. It is also beautifully written and a joy to read. The main reason that I did not give the book a full 5 Dragons was because I didn’t really like the ending. I just didn’t like what Sayuri was willing to do to get her own way and it involved hurting the one man who always tried his hardest to keep her safe and be kind to her. It is for that reason I give the book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

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About the author

Arthur Golden was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was educated at Harvard College, where he received a degree in art history, specialising in Japanese art. In 1980 he earned an M.A. in Japanese history from Columbia University, where he also learned Mandarin Chinese. Following a summer in Beijing University, he worked in Tokyo, and, after returning to the United States, earned an M.A. in English from Boston University. He resides in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children. 

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Lady Susan and Other Works by Jane Austen (Review)

Lady Susan and Other Works by Jane Austen

Blurb

This collection brings together Jane Austen’s earliest experiments in the art of fiction and novels that she left incomplete at the time of her premature death in 1817. Her fragmentary juvenilia show Austen developing her own sense of narrative form whilst parodying popular kinds of fiction of her day. Lady Susan is a wickedly funny epistolary novel about a captivating but unscrupulous widow seeking to snare husbands for her daughter and herself. The Watsons explores themes of family relationships, the marriage market, and attitudes to rank, which became the hallmarks of her major novels. In Sanditon, Austen exercises her acute powers of social observation in the setting of a newly fashionable seaside resort. These novels are here joined by shorter fictions that survive in Austen’s manuscripts, including critically acclaimed works like Catharine, Love and Freindship [sic], and The History of England.

This edition includes:

Frederic and Elfrida

Jack and Alice

Edgar and Emma

Henry and Eliza

Love and Freindship

A History of England

The Three Sisters

Lesley Castle

Evelyn

Catharine, or the Bower

Lady Susan

The Watsons

Sanditon

Review

This was the only work by Austen I had left to read and as I usually like to start the New Year with an Austen book I decided it was high time to read this collection of works and complete the set. 

I was really excited to read Austen’s juvenilia work and I was not disappointed. I was also really frustrated that so much was left unfinished. I knew it would be unfinished but I so desperately wanted to know how the stories ended. 

Austen’s juvenilia stories were hilarious and you could really tell they were written by a girl who had not seen a lot of the world yet but was starting to get a good understanding of people. At times you could really see the true magic of Austen’s wit starting to develop and make itself known. There are a great deal of fainting ladies in Austen’s juvenilia works, they are either fainting on the sofa, on the floor, basically all over the place and for very little reason. One thing we do learn though is that it is better to run around like a lunatic than faint in bad weather because running around keeps the cold away and fainting will make you catch a chill with mortal consequences. 

One of my favourites in this book was A History of England. I loved Austen’s clear love of Mary Queen of Scots and hatred of Elizabeth I, she is forever putting down Elizabeth I and praising Mary Queen of Scots at every opportunity. The history is not accurate and it is clear that Austen has made up quite a bit of her facts with hilarious results. There are also no dates but the monarchs are in chronological order. The added illustrations by Cassandra Austen were an added bonus. 

Lady Susan I struggled to get into to begin with due to the story being written in the form of letters but once I got used to it I loved it. Lady Susan is quite a character and one I imagine people with any sense would steer clear of. She has a quite a reputation but men pay no heed to this reputation because of her way with words and her beauty. Thankfully, most women can see through this scheming character. 

I could go on and on about how much I loved this book and there really wasn’t any story that I did not enjoy. It was so interesting to see Austen develop as an author and I loved her little dedications for each story. I give this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons and will definitely be reading it again. 

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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 ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Jane Austen born 16th December 1775 died 18th July 1817 was an English novelist known for her six major novels. Austen’s novels are known for social comedy and accurate depiction of human relationships.

This review is part of my Classics Club challenge. Please click the link to see my list of 50 books.

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Death of Darkness by Dianne Duvall (Review)

Death of Darkness by Dianne Duvall

Blurb

Seth has led the Immortal Guardians for thousands of years. With them fighting by his side, he has protected humans from psychotic vampires, defeated corrupt mercenary armies, defended military bases under attack, and more. But the latest enemy to rise against the Immortal Guardians has proven to be a formidable one, wielding almost as much power as Seth. His goal is simple. He wants to watch the world burn. And he will use every means at his disposal to accomplish it. Seth and his Immortal Guardians have succeeded thus far in staving off Armageddon despite heartbreaking losses. But they have never before faced such danger. Seth has only one wish: to protect his Immortal Guardians family and ensure the continuation of humanity by defeating his foe. But then Leah walks into his life and sparks a new desire. 

Leah Somerson has suffered losses of her own. It has taken her a long time to rebuild her life and find some semblance of peace. Then one night a tall, dark, powerful immortal with what appears to be the weight of the world on his shoulders stumbles into her shop, and everything changes. Peace and contentment are no longer enough. Now she wants more. She wants to find happiness. She wants to erase the darkness in Seth’s eyes and replace it with love and laughter. She knows he’s different in ways that make most fear him. Even some of his immortal brethren keep a careful distance. But Leah will not. Nor will she shy away when danger strikes.

Review

It has been a couple of years since I have read a book by Dianne Duvall and I’m not sure why because her books are brilliant. 

Each book of the Immortal Guardians series focuses on one main character but the other characters also feature within the story which is always nice because you can keep up to date on the characters you have already met in the previous books. This book is focused on Seth who is the leader of the Immortal Guardians. 

The battle against Gershom is still raging and Seth and his Immortal Guardians are starting to get overwhelmed with the chaos that Gershom is creating and Seth is trying to protect everyone and not looking after himself. Then Leah enters his life and everything begins to change. 

Leah owns the toy shop that Adira loves and because of a chance encounter where Seth takes Adira to the shop instead of Ami, Seth meets Leah and from that moment on can’t stop thinking about her. Leah is an interesting character and takes everything in her stride when finding out the truth about Seth and his Immortal Guardian family. I will be honest she does tend to take everything rather too laid back for me which at times is rather unbelievable. 

I also enjoyed learning more about the origins of Seth, Zach, Jared and the rest of the Others and I hope we will learn even more as the series continues. The humour in the book was also up to its usual standard and I was happily laughing away to myself when reading.

Overall, I enjoyed the book immensely and couldn’t put it down but the reason the book did not get the full 5 Dragons and only 4 was because Leah was just a little too unrealistic for me and at times annoying. 

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About the author

Dianne Duvall is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Immortal Guardians and The Gifted Ones series. When she isn’t writing, Dianne is active in the independent film industry and has even appeared on-screen, crawling out of a moonlit grave and wielding a machete like some of the vampires she so loves to create in her books.

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie (Review)

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

Blurb

A young woman investigates an accidental death at a London tube station, and finds herself on a ship bound for South Africa… Pretty, young Anne came to London looking for adventure. In fact, adventure comes looking for her – and finds her immediately at Hyde Park Corner tube station. Anne is present on the platform when a thin man, reeking of mothballs, loses his balance and is electrocuted on the rails.The Scotland Yard verdict is accidental death. But Anne is not satisfied. After all, who was the man in the brown suit who examined the body? And why did he race off, leaving a cryptic message behind: ‘17-122 Kilmorden Castle’? 

Review

This is the fourth book in my Agatha Christie challenge and I will be honest it is the first Agatha Christie novel that I actually considered not finishing. The main reason for this was that I just found the lead character Anne Beddingfield ridiculous and extremely annoying. The only thing that kept me reading was the very humorous diary entries of Sir Eustace and wanting to find out who the culprit was. 

Anne has had an odd childhood and spent most her life making sure her genius but eccentric father doesn’t do anything crazy but when he passes away she decides it is time for an adventure and gets the chance to move to London. She then witnesses the death of a man and decides to investigate. This leads to her going off all on her own with barely any money on a ship bound for South Africa. Thankfully she meets Colonel Race and Suzanne who can keep an eye on her but this doesn’t stop her falling into ridiculous traps and just walking into trouble. The amount of times she got into trouble really started to annoy me as the girl really had no common sense. 

Sir Eustace just wants an easy, comfortable life but due to his mysterious secretary Pagett he never gets a moment’s peace from work or the annoying stationary trunk. Sir Eustace, who is also ship-bound for Cape Town, befriends Anne, Suzanne and Colonel Race. Sir Eustace has a very odd obsession for girls with fine legs and liquid eyes and complains a great deal if women do not have these items. 

Colonel Race is a true gentleman who I must admit I felt rather sorry for during this book. Suzanne is the wife of a wealthy man and she delights in travelling without her husband and spending all of his money. She is a rather spoiled character who also drove me a little insane.

Overall, the plot was interesting and had plenty of red herrings to keep you on your toes but sadly the female characters just drove me a little bit mad. I think that with a different lead character I would have been a lot happier with the book. I give this book 2 Dragons out of 5. 

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About the author

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. She also wrote the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap. She also wrote 6 novels under the name Mary Westmacott.

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Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Laconis (Review)

Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Laconis

Blurb

Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardise the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

Review

I watched the film of this in 2019 on a plane on the way back from my holiday and I cried my eyes out. I was so worried an air steward would come over to see what the matter was with me. As soon as I got home I ordered the book but didn’t get around to reading it until now. I will be honest the book made me even more emotional than the film did. 

Stella and Will both have cystic fibrosis and both find themselves in hospital but they are both very different characters. Stella is a control freak who lives her life following lists and making sure she takes all her medications at the right time so she can stay healthy for everyone around her. Will however is fed up with treatments and hospitals and wants freedom to see the world and couldn’t care less about taking his medications. 

However, Stella and Will find themselves drawn to each other but there is a problem: they can’t be nearer to each other than six feet in case Will infects Stella with B cepacia which would mean she could not get a lung transplant if one became available. Stella decides that they can still be together but will be five feet apart instead of the recommended six. 

The other character that I loved in this book is Poe. Poe is another CF patient at the hospital and has known Stella since they were children and they are best friends. Poe has a wonderful sense of humour and is a kind and good friend to Stella and Will and whenever he is around you can’t help but smile. 

Although this story is mainly set in the hospital it is still fascinating and lovely to see how Stella and Will’s relationship develops and how Poe helps it all to work. I really didn’t notice at times that it was a hospital that the book was set in. I learned a lot from this book about cystic fibrosis and I really loved how even though there is sadness there is also so much joy and happy memories to celebrate. This book made me smile, it made cry, and it made me laugh, I really could not put it down. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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These Violent Nights by Rebecca Crunden (Review)

These Violent Nights by Rebecca Crunden

Blurb

Once upon a time, inhabitants of another world tore a hole through the universe and came to Earth. They called themselves Suriias, and rivalled humans in knowledge and skill with one great exception: they had magic.

War followed. Humanity lost. And three hundred years later, humans are on the brink of extinction.

Orphans Thorn and Thistle live in hiding. They are the last of their families, the last of their friends. They scrape by, stealing to survive and living on the streets or hiding in sheds. But even under the brutal regime of the Suriias, there are places where humans can mingle in secret with magical sympathisers, and one night Thistle gets an unexpected offer of marriage from a Suriia with high standing and friends in all the right places. For Thistle, it’s a chance at safety and comfort; for Thorn, it’s a chance to find the ones who killed her parents.

And so the pair move into the capital city of Courtenz. An urban monstrosity of magic and might, false friends and flying cars, drones and death tolls, the new city promises a fresh start – and new love – for both. 

But if there’s one thing Thorn knows for certain, it’s that dreams can swiftly turn into nightmares.

Review

Firstly, a massive thank you to Rebecca Crunden for gifting me a copy of her wonderful book These Violent Nights in exchange for an honest review.

This is rather a substantial book and I was a bit worried about the size of the book when I first started reading it because I struggled to get into it to start with. However, thankfully I kept reading because I was soon hooked and was pleased at the size of the book because I did not want to leave the characters and finish the book. 

Thistle and Thorn are humans who live in hiding from the Suriias who are magical beings from another world. Thistle and Thorn have a very sad past and this has left both of them scarred both emotionally and physically. When Nithin who is a Suriia proposes to Thistle, Thistle and Thorn move in with Nithin and his best friend Kol. Thistle is overjoyed to be safe and living in wealth and comfort but Thorn only sees it as an access to find the murderer of her parents.

I really felt sorry for Thorn during this book. She is forced to live with the very species she fears and hates and even though Nithin and Kol support humans and are fighting for the humans’ rights Thorn struggles to trust and believe them. At the same time Thorn sees her best friend slowly slip away from her and change. Thorn feels alone and angry with everything and no matter how much Kol tries to help her she still resists. I completely agree with the character Lucien who says that Thorn has never had a chance to breathe. 

Thistle annoyed me and made me rather angry at times because she hurt Thorn so much. Yes, Thistle wanted to start living life and enjoy her new found freedom and wealth but she forgot her best friend at times and didn’t see just how much Thorn was suffering.

I loved the concept of this book and I loved how in the end humans and Suriia had to work together and overcome each species’ difficulties. I also loved the different romances that occurred within the book and how they crossed species. This book was brilliant and I will definitely be reading more books by Rebecca Crunden. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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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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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.

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