Thursday, July 24, 2014

Quick Review: "The Book of Life" by Deborah Harkness

From Goodreads:  After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

My Thoughts:  I loved this trilogy, but The Book of Life is by far my most favorite of the three.  It had this awesome mix of history, folklore and science that just made for a fantastic story and I absolutely loved how Harkness wrapped everything up. 

It's hard to talk about all the things I liked about this book without giving things away so I am not  going to say too much.  The characters are one of my favorite aspects of this book.  There were a ton of them so at times it was hard to keep track of who everyone was but they were all so unique and interesting.  I know Baldwin is supposed to be a bad/good guy but I really loved him.  I also adore Gallowglass; his loyalty to both Matthew and Diana makes him so lovable. Benjamin was a super scary villain and his antics were beyond creepy.

I loved the scientific and DNA discussions in the book.  I find genetics to be incredibly interesting and the whole discussion of witch and vampire genetics was really cool.  I also enjoyed learning more about the Book of Life, what secrets it held and the magic involved.  This book is not just a great read, it is also an intelligent read.  Harkness obviously did a ton of research to be able to write this story and it was definitely worth it.

I can't recommend this book, and the others, enough.  If you have any interest in historical fiction and/or fantasy, this is the book for you. 5 stars.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review: "The Boleyn Reckoning" by Laura Andersen

From Goodreads:  Elizabeth Tudor is at a crossroads. After a disastrous winter, the Duke of Northumberland has been executed for treason while his son, Robert Dudley, claims from the Tower that the true traitor has not yet been caught. And though her brother, William, has survived smallpox, scars linger in the king's body and mind and his patience is at an end. As English ships and soldiers arm themselves against the threat of invasion, William marches to the drumbeat of his own desires rather than his country's welfare. Wary of this changed royal brother, Elizabeth assembles her own shadow court to protect England as best she can. But William, able to command armies and navies, cannot command hearts. Minuette and Dominic have married in secret, and after an ill-timed pregnancy, they take to flight. Faced with betrayal by the two he loved most, William's need for vengeance pushes England to the brink of civil war and in the end, Elizabeth must choose: her brother, or her country?

My Thoughts:

Likes:  I love the whole alternative history aspect of this book. It is the third in a trilogy and I thought the author did a wonderful job of wrapping everything up.  I loved the romance between Minuette and Dominic and how it withstood all the horrible things that were thrown their way.  I also really liked Elizabeth's character.  She was the voice of reason in what was a really chaotic situation.

Characters:  William was crazy.  I hated him in this book because he was a complete mess and basically a horrible person.  I kind of felt bad for him but he really needed to get a grip.  Also, a lot of characters died in this book.  I was a little surprised by how many were killed off but it's an alternative history so I guess anything can happen.

Dislikes:  The only thing I really 'disliked' was that I wanted an epilogue or something to tell me what happened to Dominic and Minuette years after.  I really want to know how things worked out for them!

Overall:  This was a great finish to a really good series.  I have to give Ms. Andersen a lot of credit for writing such a creative and unique story.  4 stars.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Mailbox Monday (22)

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme started by Marcia at To Be Continued.  Check it out here!

Since the local library closed on July 9 for a few weeks, I had to make a second trip there last weekend to pick up some more books.  You would think they were going to be closed a few months, not simply a couple weeks with how many books I checked out. I definitely won't run out of books to read.

From the Library:

(I've featured this book before but never got around to reading it.)

For Review (from HFBVT):

(pictured above)

What books did you get this week?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Quick Review: "A Triple Knot" by Emma Campion

From Goodreads:  Joan of Kent, renowned beauty and cousin to King Edward III, is destined for a politically strategic marriage. As the king begins a long dynastic struggle to claim the crown of France, plunging England into the Hundred Years’ War, he negotiates her betrothal to a potential ally and heir of a powerful lordship.

But Joan, haunted by nightmares of her father’s execution at the hands of her treacherous royal kin, fears the king’s selection and is not resigned to her fate. She secretly pledges herself to one of the king’s own knights, one who has become a trusted friend and protector. Now she must defend her vow as the king—furious at Joan’s defiance—prepares to marry her off to another man.

In A Triple Knot, Emma Campion brings Joan, the “Fair Maid of Kent” to glorious life, deftly weaving details of King Edward III’s extravagant court into a rich and emotionally resonant tale of intrigue, love, and betrayal.

My Thoughts:   I loved that this book covered a period of history that I am not very familiar with.  It was so refreshing!  It was nice to meet an entirely new set of characters instead of ones that I have seen portrayed in fifteen different ways.  I liked Joan a lot but there were times where it seemed weird that the story was told by a 12 year old (at least in the beginning).  Prince Edward was a little scary.  He wasn't really the villain of the story but every time he showed up, he gave me the creeps.  

I think what interested me most about this story was the case involving Joan's marriage to Thomas Holland.  It was fascinating to read about the extent each side went to in order to 'win' and I really enjoyed reading about the process of investigating her the details of her marriage and interviewing witnesses, etc.  It's just crazy to think about how Joan had to deal with so much and wait so long in order to actually be with her husband.

One of the things I didn't love about this book was that the historical aspects got really confusing.  I spent a lot of time googling different historical characters and their stories so that I could get a better idea of what was going on.  It made it a little hard to get into the story.  I also didn't like that the story kind of just ended; Joan lived a long while after the point at which the story ended.  I was definitely left wanting more.

Overall, this was a good read that made me want to read everything I can find about Joan of Kent. 3 stars. 

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mailbox Monday (21)

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme started by Marcia at To Be Continued.  Check it out here!

 I hope everyone had a great 4th of July!  It was so nice to have a three day weekend.

My local library is closing for a few weeks as they get ready to move into their new building so I had to stop by and pick up some books while I still had the chance.

From the Library:

The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva
Daughters of Rome by Kate Quinn
The Borgia Betrayal by Sara Poole
Children of Wrath by Paul Grossman

For Review:

Prisoner of the Queen by E. Knight

Knowing she was seen as a threat to the Queen she served, Lady Katherine Grey, legitimate heir to the throne, longs only for the comfort of a loving marriage and a quiet life far from the intrigue of the Tudor court. After seeing her sister become the pawn of their parents and others seeking royal power and then lose their lives for it, she is determined to avoid the vicious struggles over power and religion that dominate Queen Elizabeth’s court. Until she finds love—then Kat is willing to risk it all, even life in prison.

What books did you get this week?

Friday, July 4, 2014

June Wrap Up

Happy 4th of July!! June was a super slow reading month for me.  June was ridiculously crazy with work and preparing for Julia's birthday so reading wasn't a huge priority. I only read 3 books for a total of 36 for the year.  I'm hoping things will pick up in the the coming months.  My goal is 50 for the year but I wouldn't mind hitting 75 though I'm not sure that will be possible.

Here is what I read:
1.) The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick
2.) Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle
3.) A Triple Knot by Emma Campion

How much reading did you get done in June?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts (7)

 Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts is hosted by Bookishly Boisterous.  Check it out here!

1.) My sweet baby Julia turned 1 on Saturday!  We had a big party for her and it was so much fun.  I am really excited for all the fun things the next year will bring.

2.) A couple of weeks ago, we got some new couches.  I absolutely love them and the color they bring to our living room.

3.) I've known for a while that I was having some issues with my blog posts showing up on bloglovin' but I was struggling to figure out how to handle it.  A few weeks ago, I finally figured out what the problem was and got it fixed.  Yay! Now people can see what I post.

4.) Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon came out on June 10!  I have been waiting for it for 5 years but I think it came out at a bad time for me.  I am struggling to get into it.  I may finish listening to the 2 books preceding it and then dive back in.

5.) I've been kind of in a reading slump.  The end of May/beginning of June was rough and I was struggling to want to read.  I've read a couple books in the past few weeks that have kind of pulled me out of my slump so I look forward to fitting in some more reading time.

6.) My job has been kind of ridiculous lately and is a huge stress in my life.  I am so tired of the drama!

7.) We bought Julia a play kitchen off Craigslist and she loves it.  She has the best time playing with it and it was a great deal!

8.) They have been building a newer, bigger library in town and it opens at the end of the month.  For the past year, the library has been housed in the old Border's building and has been pretty loud and crowded feeling (at least to me).  I can't wait to visit the new building! It looks amazing.

9.) I'm officially done pumping.  I'm still nursing Julia at home but no more pumping.  That means less reading time but at least I don't have to lug so much stuff to work everyday.

10.) I made Julia's birthday cake and it wasn't super great.  I'm pretty out of practice at decorating cakes but I really need to start working on that.  A good friend of Jordan's asked me to make their wedding cake in June so I need to get practicing.

I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July!
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