Showing posts from February, 2016

(Review) Charles Brandon: Henry VIII's Closest Friend by Steven Gunn

Publication Date: October 15, 2015. Originally published 1988.
Publisher: Amberley Books
Genre: Nonfiction, British History, Henry VIII, Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk.
Pages: 304.
Source: Free copy from Amberley in exchange for a review.
Rating: 4 stars for very good.

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Links for further reading:
English History

We don’t really consider Henry VIII to have had friends, rather subjects, cronies and dutiful wives and ministers of state. But Henry was a very sociable person and craved genuine relationships. Charles Brandon, the son of Henry VII’s standard-bearer at the Battle of Bosworth, was to be his closest friend and companion for his entire life. They met at his father’s court, where Charles was a dashing jouster, and Charles would hold a succession of important offices in the royal household. Henry VIII trusted Charles with some of the dirtiest jobs at the Tudor court, clearing out Katherine of Aragon’s household and negotiatin…

Book Blast! The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner

The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner Publication Date: February 9, 2016.
Publisher: Ballantine Books.
Hardcover, Ebook, Audiobook
Pages: 400.
Genre: Historical Fiction.

Infamy is no accident. It is a poison in our blood. It is the price of being a Borgia. Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias fascinated and terrorized 15th-century Renaissance Italy. Lucrezia Borgia, beloved daughter of the pope, was at the center of the dynasty’s ambitions. Slandered as a heartless seductress who lured men to their doom, was she in fact the villainess of legend, or was she trapped in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and survival? With the ascension of the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI, the new pope’s illegitimate children—his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful young daughter Lucrezia—assume an exalted position in the papal court. Privileged and adored, Lucrezia yearns to escape her childhood and play a part in her family’s fortunes. Bu…

(Review) Only The Stones Survive by Morgan Llywelyn

Publication Date: January 5, 2016.
Publisher: Forge, A Tom Doherty Associates Book.
Genre: Fiction, Irish Myth and Legend, Fantasy.
Pages: 304.
Source: Free copy from Forge in exchange for a review.
Rating: 2 stars for okay.

Link at Forge for more information.


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A people group named Tuatha De' Danann live a closeted peaceful existence on an island. They worship nature. They are targeted for extermination by the Gaels.
A youth named Joss is a survivor. His goal is to bring the remnant together and escape to survive.
Only The Stones Survive is part Irish history and part legend.
The story has elements of training for war, war, survival, and magic.

My Thoughts:
I loved the premise of the story. I love the front cover. I love the main character Joss. I love the fantasy fiction element. I love Irish history. However, I felt the book fell flat. Two things I felt is needed.
1. I want to "feel" Joss's pain and determination to survive. Instead, …

(Review) Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Publication Date: First published 1891. My edition published 1966.
Publisher: My copy is an old Washington Square Press.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 446.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.

When the book begins Tess is 16. She is the oldest child in the family. Her siblings look to her as a mother figure. Their mother is foolish and unwise. She encourages Tess to live with a "relative," who has shown he is a scoundrel. Tess is reluctant but obedient. The results are life-altering.
In the opening pages, Tess is described as having, "large innocent eyes," and "a mere vessel of emotion untinctured by experience."
Her character reminds me of a young innocent lamb. She perceives danger, yet is unable to protect herself; and the people who are her parents and protectors are negligent. While the shepherds are not watching, the wolf overcomes his prey.

My Thoughts:
Tess is a sensitive girl, and this is shown in an opening story when she bla…