4 Stars, Alison Weir, Book review, Historical fiction

Bee Reviews: Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession (Six Tudor Queens, #2) by Alison Weir

ab1Format: Kindle edition

Published: 18th May 2017 by Headline

Genres: Historical fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Wordery


Synopsis

A novel filled with new insights into the story of Henry VIII’s second—and most infamous—wife, Anne Boleyn. The second book in the epic Six Tudor Queens series, from the acclaimed historian and bestselling author of Katherine of Aragon.

It is the spring of 1527. Henry VIII has come to Hever Castle in Kent to pay court to Anne Boleyn. He is desperate to have her. For this mirror of female perfection he will set aside his Queen and all Cardinal Wolsey’s plans for a dynastic French marriage.

Anne Boleyn is not so sure. She loathes Wolsey for breaking her betrothal to the Earl of Northumberland’s son, Harry Percy, whom she had loved. She does not welcome the King’s advances; she knows that she can never give him her heart.

But hers is an opportunist family. And whether Anne is willing or not, they will risk it all to see their daughter on the throne…


Review

A copy of this novel was given in exchange for an honest review.

Okay so I’ve never picked up Phillipa Gregory book in my life even though I have all twelve of her books on my shelves, but I think Alison Weir can give me my fix of Tudor historical fiction novels.

Where do I start with this book? It was enormously long, it took me several weeks to finish, but I enjoyed almost every minute of it. Weir’s writing had a way of magically transporting me 500 years back in time. My experience of reading this novel has implanted scenes in my mind as clear as memory – the views from Hever Castle, the hustle and bustle of Margaret of Austria’s court, every turn of the page was a new experience.

I thought I knew a lot about the Tudors prior to reading this book, but how I was wrong. There was so much to learn, and the facts made this novel all the more interesting. This is Weir, an acclaimed historian, weaving together the facts of Anne Boleyn’s life with a bit of imagination to deliver a novel that’s thrilling from start through until finish.

The only bit that was frustrating as a reader was the length of the novel allocated to Anne Boleyn’s wait for Catherine of Aragon’s and Henry’s marriage to be dissolved. But I think this is a great reflection on how frustrated Anne Boleyn probably felt. I also wasn’t sure about Henry’s characterisation at first, but it was interesting to see the renowned monarch in a different portrayal to that which I had initially imagined.

I would definitely recommend this detail-packed novel to others interested in historical fiction, and I can’t wait to read the prequel Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen.

Advertisements
4 Stars, Book review, Haley Harrigan, Mystery

Bee Reviews: Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan

ssgFormat: Kindle edition, 400 pages

Published: 6th June 2017 by Sourcebooks Landmark

Genres: Mystery, contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Wordery


Synopsis

Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What’s worse is she got away with it. Consumed by guilt, she left the small town of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, and swore nothing would ever drag her back. Now, raising her daughter and struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, Julie still can’t forget the ghost of a girl with golden hair and a dangerous secret.

When August, Reba’s first love, begs Julie to come home to find the diary that Reba kept all those years ago, Julie’s past comes creeping back to haunt her. That diary could expose the shameful memories Julie has been running from, but it could also unearth the hidden truths that Reba left buried…and reveal that Julie isn’t the only one who feels responsible for Reba’s death.


Review

A copy of this novel was given in exchange for an honest review.

This book is quite an easy one to get into, filled with mysteries large and small that keep the reader enticed. Harrigan has a way of knowing what the reader wants and gives it to them.

The novel is set in two thrilling locations – the fast-paced New York City, and the much slower, sleepier small town of Lawrence Mill. Slow and sleepy, but also full of secrets, which is what the main character, Julie, is here to unravel.

Unfortunately, the novel is quite predictable at times. At least, I found that I could predict the bigger mysteries and things that would happen next. But perhaps that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in a world where people try too hard to produce something that will make a huge impact.

I would definitely recommend this novel for people who are looking for a comparatively light mystery to delve into.

 

4 Stars, Book review, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, William Horwood

Bee Reviews: Hyddenworld (Spring) by William Horwood

hyddenworld william horwoodFormat: Paperback, 505 pages

Published: January 1st 2011 by Pan Publishing (first published January 1st 2009)

Genre(s): Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon


Synopsis

It has lain lost and forgotten for fifteen hundred years in the ancient heartland of England – a scrap of glass and metal melded by fierce fire. It is the lost core of a flawless Sphere made by the greatest of the Anglo-Saxon CraeftLords in memory of the one he loved. Her name was Spring and contained in the very heart of this work is a spark from the Fires of Creation.

But while humans have lost their belief in such things, the Hydden – little people existing on the borders of our world – have not. Breaking the silence of centuries they send one of their own, a young boy, Jack, to live among humans in the hope that he may one day find what has been lost for so long. His journey leads him to Katherine, a girl he rescues from a tragic accident – it’s a meeting that will change everything. It is only through their voyage into the dangerous Hyddenworld that they will realize their destiny, find love and complete the great quest that will save both their worlds from destruction.

Their journey begins with Spring…


Review

This book had me feeling mixed emotions initially. It’s very confusing, so, readers, sit tight! This is by no means a light read, but a very rewarding one. Horwood has an exceptional imagination, and his style of writing is otherworldly. This is a comment recycled over and over again by critics, but there truly is something Tolkienish about Horwood’s writing.

The things I didn’t like about this book include that it was confusing, long-winded, said something in several chapters that could have been written in one. Again – very Tolkienish. There was also something magical, enchanting, bewitching about this novel, and I can’t wait to continue the adventure in the sequels! I hope they’re just as spectacular, and the reading experience is just as enthralling as it has been for this one.

3 Stars, Book review, Historical fiction, Romance

Bee Reviews: Unnoticed by Amanda Deed

cover108951-largeFormat: Kindle edition

Published: March 1st 2017 by Rhiza Press

Genre(s): Christian Fiction, Romance, Historical Fiction

Rating:  ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Wordery | Book Depository


Synopsis

Plain Jane O’Reilly is good at being unnoticed. Detested by her stepmother and teased by her stepsisters, Jane has learned the art of avoiding attention. That is until Price Moreland, an American with big dreams, arrives in her small town.

Does she dare to hope someone might notice her?

However, Price Moreland may not be the prince that the whole town thinks him to be. Was his desire to be a missionary a God-given call, or just a good excuse to run from his past?

Complete with an evil stepmother, a missing shoe and a grand ball, Unnoticed takes the time-old Cinderella fairy tale and gives it an Australian twist.


Review

A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve read a lot of Christian fiction novels in my time – they’re quite enjoyable in a historical context – but this is definitely the most Christian one I’ve read so far. This is by no means a criticism as it can still be enjoyed by anyone, but more a heads up if it’s not really your thing.

Something I wasn’t sure I could get with was the author’s continuous use of description. You could probably go pages without any real action or dialogue, just the characters reflecting on themselves, which is important but also could happen in other ways. Additionally, miscommunication as a plot line can only be used so many times – and this novel certainly exceeded this.

Aside from this, the characters were pleasantly enjoyable. They were all written in-depth, a far cry from the original telling of Cinderella where people are evil because they just are. Deed certainly displays her deep understanding of human nature in this novel which makes it such a good read. My favourite parts included Deed exploring issues with the Christian community, and when the characters you thought were wicked turned out not to be so wicked after all.

2 Stars, Book review, Sci-Fi

Bee Reviews: September Sky by John A Heldt

 

september skyFormat: Kindle edition, 412 pages

Published: January 1st 2015 by John A Heldt

Genre(s): Sci-Fi

Rating:  ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon


Synopsis

When unemployed San Francisco reporter Chuck Townsend and his college-dropout son, Justin, take a cruise to Mexico in 2016, each hopes to rebuild a relationship after years of estrangement. But they find more than common ground aboard the ship. They meet a mysterious lecturer who touts the possibilities of time travel. Within days, Chuck and Justin find themselves in 1900, riding a train to Texas, intent on preventing a distant uncle from being hanged for a crime he did not commit. Their quick trip to Galveston, however, becomes long and complicated when they wrangle with business rivals and fall for two beautiful librarians on the eve of a hurricane that will destroy the city. Filled with humor, history, romance, and heartbreak, September Sky follows two directionless souls on the adventure of a lifetime as they try to make peace with the past, find new purpose, and grapple with the knowledge of things to come.


Review

A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

I would like to preface this by saying that perhaps I wasn’t the best candidate for reading this novel. My review could potentially be biased as I don’t often read books of this genre, so maybe I’m not as appreciative of Heldt’s writing as much as someone else would be.

Let’s start with the positives. This novel is certainly the work of creativity unparalleled in a field where there is an abundance of recycled plots and ideas. It’s very refreshing being presented with Chuck and Justin’s antics, and this novel certainly challenged my perception of the world, both in terms of historical contexts and modern day too. Heldt has a lot of potential as an author to expand on his ideas and take them to the next level. But there were also some points to consider for the next novel Heldt writes.

This novel doesn’t really start until a quarter of the way through. I wouldn’t recommend this novel to someone with pea-sized patience like myself. The other thing that really bugged me was the characters. I didn’t really have much of a problem with Justin, but Chuck somehow felt too wooden to me. In spite of the novel practically surrounding him, with his perspectives, his history (both recent and ancestral), Chuck never came to life for me. For me, this was the most off-putting thing. Whether this is down to the writing or how the story turned out, it’s difficult to ascertain. But this novel remains a strong indication of Heldt’s superb writing abilities!

4 Stars, Book review, Romance, Women's Fiction

Bee Reviews: Love in an English Garden by Victoria Connelly

love in an english garden victoria connellyFormat: Kindle, 320 pages

Published: 14th March 2017 by Lake Union Publishing

Genre(s): Women’s Fiction, Romance

Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Wordery


Synopsis

The Jacobs family has lived at Orley Court for generations. But when Vanessa Jacobs’s husband dies and leaves the property to her, she finds costs spiralling out of control. In order to stay in their beloved home, she and her daughters will have to sell part of it off—a decision that drives a wedge between Vanessa and her live-in mother-in-law.

The new owners of the north wing are Laurence Sturridge and his father, Marcus. Laurence wants to escape the constant pressure of his corporate job in London, while Marcus longs to heal from the grief of losing his wife. Could the beauty of Orley Court offer them a fresh outlook on life?

As the two families embark on a challenging new chapter over the course of a glorious English summer, secrets are revealed and relationships tested. But as Orley Court begins to weave its magic over them, will it be love, above all, that brings the two families together?


Review

A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

Connelly only had to whisper the words “Orley Court” to have me hooked. Anything to do with old English manor houses, courts, castles, is already a must-read on my list. This novel is every bit promising as the synopsis sounds. Connelly is an exceptional writer who has a power with words that very few authors seem to possess these days.

It was hard to comprehend that he’d never see her again, never hear that warm voice on the end of the phone, never sit at the kitchen table whilst she buzzed about making tea. When a person died, they took away so many little everyday things that could never be replaced.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author so I can’t compare it to her previous works. However, Connelley’s sensational ability to intertwine characters and plots to deliver what stories are really about is rare and astounding. The characters’ backgrounds were so varied which made the novel so much more interesting, displaying the power of the author’s imagination.

He liked the way the old house seemed to talk to him in a succession of squeaky doors and floorboards. He’d heard that old houses breathed and moved,but he hadn’t really paid that any attention until he’d experienced it for himself.

The only thing about this novel was in the middle and towards the end when some of the writing seemed rushed. Dialogue was sometimes emotionless bar the odd bit of punctuation, and there were passages with detail so little that I, as a reader, couldn’t quite envisage what the author wanted me to. But the worst of the poorly-written parts are still better than many of the better-written parts in other novels, and this is what really stood out in the book for me.

I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who’s interested in the mysterious workings of the world and how sometimes stars align, people meet in all the right places, and the world could be ending but everything just works out.