Book Review: The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

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Previously read by the same author:

Read between: 7th- 11th September
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 405
Published: 14th April, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Synopsis: The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England.

Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth’s daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty.

Rating: 3-5-stars

Review: This book follows Margaret Beaufort, heiress to the House of Lancaster (hence the Red Queen- red being the colour of the Lancaster rose) and her rise and fall in society and the royal court during the War of the Roses.

Margaret is very devout to her religion which probably helps her get through life considering she is married off at 12, and goes through a very brutal birth to her only child, Henry Tudor, before becoming a widow at 13. So- not a very happy start  to her life, especially at such a young age!

A big part of this book focuses on her hatred for Elizabeth Woodville and the rest of the Rivers family- mainly because she’s jealous (a trait I didn’t like). She wants her son, Henry, on the throne of England and will stop at nothing to make that happen.

This includes ordering the murder of the princes in the tower (which her husband ends up covering up to blame King Richard III!)

However, I really liked her character, even if she could be very jealous and childish- but as she got older, she got more ambitious. Everything she did, she did for her son and for herself.

The fact that this book crosses over with the events of ‘The White Queen’ made it a lot easier to follow. I already had an idea of the story, but this time it was from a different point of view.

Both the Red Queen and the White Queen are formidable women, so it’s easy to see why they don’t get on, but they do end up working with each other to try and remove Richard from the throne of England. Neither believe he belongs there.

I really enjoyed Margaret’s story- she had a touch childhood, she hardened, and then she became the woman that she wanted to be. Margaret Regina.

3.5/5 stars. I enjoyed the story but sometimes felt the character let herself down in her spouts of jealousy and anger.

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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Book Review: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3)

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Read between: 14th- 21st August
Format: ebook
Published: April 8th, 2014
Publisher: Little Brown
Synopsis: Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.

When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited – not in love, but in a tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?

Rating: Image result for four stars

Review: In the final installment of the series, angels have invaded Earth and taken over the Vatican, dead chimaera have been dug up, and a scientist, Eliza Jones, has a secret that she tried very hard to run from.

Although they’re on the eve of a war between species, Karou is busy resurrecting chimaera and using that skill to fool them into thinking Ziri is Thiago, so that they can trust him. And hint of mistrust and they could lose their army…

As I know Karou and Akiva pretty well by now, I actually preferred the side characters more in this story- especially Mik and Zuzana, who seemed to have grown in character since the first book- especially considering they’re out of their comfort zones- quite literally!

Despite the war going on, they still find time for each other.

It was also great to see Karou’s fake grandma, Esther again, although the outcome of her return definitely wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t see it coming and it was definitely a shock! Just goes to show that you don’t always know the people closest to you.

There was plenty going on to keep me reading, from the war to Akiva and Karou and their ‘will they? won’t they?’ relationship, but especially the revelation about Eliza, and her true genetics. If she hadn’t been dragged to examine the bodies of dead chimaera, and left her phone in unsafe hands (stupid Morgan Toth), maybe she could have kept her secret for longer.

I liked it though. It made her more important than just a background character.

I enjoyed the series! It didn’t end how I thought it was going to, I’m not complaining though- it worked. I still think the first book is my favourite though!

4/5 stars.
A great fantasy series, I’d recommend it!

Thanks reading
~Katie

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Book Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2)

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Read between: 11th- 14th August
Format: ebook
Published: November 16th, 2012
Publisher: Little Brown
Synopsis: Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Rating: 003d1-threestar

Review: So…..funny story, my kindle has the books ordered wrong so I started reading the third one, and was pretty much done before I realised what I was reading didn’t make any sense….

So, now I have a better understanding of what happened after the first book, here’s my review!

After the events of Prague, Karou finds out what Akiva really did and the two go their separate ways, she goes to the chimaera to help them prepare for the inevitable war against the seraphs. Akiva goes to the seraph’s to find his father….and kill him. Each of them have their own missions in the war between their species.

There are lots of emotional moments in this book- deaths on both sides and a pretty horrible near-rape scene that was very hard to read. It’s that scene that lowered my rating just because I had to put the book down. However, the death that hurt the most was that of the Kirin, Ziri, because I felt Karou’s pain at losing one of her own.

An element I liked is that with Karou’s friend, Zuzana and her boyfriend Mik in the mix, there were plenty of light-hearted and funny moments too! It was also nice to get more of Akiva’s backstory, even if, as a Misbegotten, he isn’t overly liked by the other angels- especially the emperor (who is also his father.)

It is clear that that this book is setting up the scene for the third one which is probably why I didn’t connect with it as much as I did with the first one! The constant flicking between Karou’s situation and Akiva’s got confusing sometimes but it also worked well to progress their stories until they were reunited.

Zuzana and Mik are so cute though.

I enjoyed this book- I enjoyed the different sections and different locations- it added to the story.

The first book is still my favourite, this one was problematic in some places. Let’s hope the new Thiago is a little nicer though….I actually hate him.

Still, a good story, and I can’t wait to finish the series!
Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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Read between: 27th July- 1st August
Format: ebook
Published: September 27th, 2011
Publisher: Little Brown
Synopsis: Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?


Rating: Image result for five stars

Review:

I was so excited to start this series and I’m glad I did! Laini Taylor has a way with words, from worlds to characters- it’s all very beautiful! I was hooked from the first page.

Firstly, the book is set in Prague, a city I’ve never visited, but it sounds perfect for the world Laini created. I could totally see it being full of doors leading to a world full of demonic beings. Secondly, the main character, Karou, was so interesting! For starters, she doesn’t really have a back story- she has no idea where she came from, just that a chimaera called Brimstone raised her.

And ever since she was old enough to do so, he calls her away from Prague to his shop to run errands for him….which is mainly collecting teeth.

With her bright blue hair it was easy to become drawn to Karou. I had a hunch about who she really was and it was actually a shock to discover I was right! However, it did feel good to have the clarification.

I also loved her best friend, Zuzana. When the truth comes out she just accepts everything! We all need a best friend like that! One that is so accepting, and doesn’t stop being Karou’s friend even if the truth sound crazy!

Karou’s ex was a bit of a dick though….

It was such a good book! I can’t wait to continue with the rest of the series! I hope they get even better. I’d definitely recommend it!

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

 

Book Review: The Crown by Kiera Cass

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Previously read by the same author: The Selection Series (The Selection, The Elite, The One) & The Heir

Read between: 16th-20th July
Format: ebook
Published: May 3rd, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Synopsis: When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.

Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined.

Rating: 003d1-threestar

Review: I read ‘The Heir’ last year, and when I started The Crown it took me a while to get my head around what happened previously, but then I started to remember and the story began to flow and it all came back in no time- The Crown continues exactly where The Heir left off. So it wasn’t hard to get back into the story.

The Crown is the second half of Princess Eadlyn’s story, and follows the second half of her Selection. Something that isn’t at the front of her mind at the moment, however, considering her mother is bed-ridden after her heart attack.

Her father is by her mothers bedside, and she has to make decisions about a possible husband on her own. She feels on her own, despite having her ladies, maids, and the six remaining boys by her side to help her on this journey.

Eadlyn makes a lot of decisions for herself- to help herself, and I think that’s why I found her character to be slightly problematic, in a similar way that America was in the first three books. I mean, America didn’t really have a choice, but Eadlyn does- so that’s why I was so surprised by the way she ended her Selection.

I was surprised by her choice more so. The whole novel seemed to be leading up to her union with Kile Woodwork, she even voiced this out loud to her ladies and advisors, she had a plan set in motion….and then she completely goes against that plan and changes her mind, and then goes against that choice to be with someone who wasn’t actually part of the Selection at all!

I mean, I understand she was in love, and you can tell by the way it was written, but honestly, she needed to make up her mind and stick to it- even if she did become Queen halfway through. However, despite my animosity over Eadlyn’s character, I did enjoy this book.

I had forgotten the world and it was nice to return to the Kingdom of Illea. Although, not all the subjects seem to be as nice as before, especially Marid Illea, who turned out to be a horrible person! Eadlyn learnt that the hard way- she trusted him, she was nice to him, and it backfires!

Still, it was a good story and it was nice to finalise the Selection series through Maxon and America’s daughter.

A good read!

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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Book Review and Movie Comparison: London Boulevard by Ken Bruen

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Read between: 8th-11th July
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 288
Published: (this edition) November 25th, 2010 (originally published, 2002)
Publisher: Transworld Ireland
Synopsis: When Mitchell is released from prison after serving three years for a vicious attack he doesn’t remember, he reluctantly finds himself caught up with Robert Gant, a ruthless lowlife with violent plans.

Attempting to stay out of Gant’s way, Mitchell finds work as a handyman at the mansion of a faded movie actress. When she eagerly plies him with cash, cars and sex, Mitch starts to wonder if even this job comes with a catch.

But it isn’t long before Mitchell’s violent past catches up with him. When people close to him start getting hurt, Mitchell is forced to act, and take brutal on revenge on those who’ve stolen his life..

Rating: 003d1-threestar

Review: Mitchell is fresh out of prison- an ex con, who wants to put his past behind him. Of course, it’s not that simple or that easy, when his old friends wrangle their way back into his life- especially Billy Norton, a man who beats innocent people for rent money.

It’s Norton’s fault that Mitchell finds himself caught up with the violent Robert Gant (Tommy Logan in the original publication) which really doesn’t help his new life plan. Add his sister Briony into the mix, a woman with her own problems, and he has a lot of pressure on his shoulders to stay on the right path.

His only way out is to hide behind his work as a handy man for faded actress, Lillian Palmer…which is more than he bargained for! Is everything with Lillian as it seems? Can Mitchell hide from his past forever?

This book has an awful lot in it, despite being only 288 pages!

There was never a dull moment- I mean, the only gory bit that really got me was the gory death of Briony’s poor dog. I hate it when animals die in fiction. Always makes me have to stop.

However, the writing, although written in first person, was simple and repetitive in places, for example:
“Aisling was wearing a killer black dress. I said ‘Killer dress’ ”

It’s weird how he thinks something, and then we have to be told that he is voicing those thoughts, rather than just dialogue, but it wasn’t always a bad thing because at least it gave us an insight into Mitchell’s mind.

I was definitely hooked on the story, and it’s a good book. However, it is pretty violent in both content and language so it’s not for the younger or the faint hearted of readers. If you want something light-hearted, this isn’t it!

3/5 stars!
It kept me on my toes!


London Boulevard ( 2010) – Starring Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley and Ray Winstone

Director: William Monahan

Trailer:

Comparison:

William Monahan changed a LOT of the book when turning it into a movie, a few of the gory scenes are removed, and differences have been made. The main difference is that of the actress. In the Ken Bruen novel, she is in her sixties. In the movie, Monahan has changed her name to Charlotte, and cast 25 year old Keira Knightley in the role. (Not that I’m complaining- I love Keira)

However, the storyline is pretty much the same, apart from the ending.

I do believe the writer and directors tried to stay true to the book, but a lot of the content was probably far too sickening to pull in the money the movie needed to do well. Despite that, I can definitely see the inspiration!

Watch the trailer above and see what you think! Having read the book now, I would say the movie isn’t the most accurate adaptation but for a gangster/crime/thriller movie it’s pretty good- and I usually tend to avoid that genre.


Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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Book Review: A Meditation on Murder by Robert Thorogood

Previously read by the same author: The Killing of Polly Carter

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Read between: 22-26th June
Number of pages: 358
Published: January 2nd, 2015
Publisher: Mira
Synopsis: Aslan Kennedy has an idyllic life: Leader of a Spiritual Retreat for wealthy holidaymakers on one of the Caribbean’s most unspoilt islands, Saint Marie. Until he’s murdered, that is. The case seems open and shut: when Aslan was killed he was inside a locked room with only five other people, one of whom has already confessed to the murder.

Detective Inspector Richard Poole is hot, bothered, and fed up with talking to witnesses who’d rather discuss his ‘aura’ than their whereabouts at the time of the murder. But he also knows that the facts of the case don’t quite stack up. In fact, he’s convinced that the person who’s just confessed to the murder is the one person who couldn’t have done it. Determined to track down the real killer, DI Poole is soon on the trail, and no stone will be left unturned.

Rating:

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Review: A health and lifestyle guru is murdered in broad daylight in a building made of paper- in front of witnesses. But something doesn’t add up- is Julia Higgins really the murderer?

D.I. Richard Poole doesn’t seem to think so- so he decided to take the case of Aslan Kennedy’s murder (along with trying to get rid of his lizard) whilst working out, out of the five people who were in the room- who actually committed the crime?

It was great to be back in the Caribbean- Death in Paradise is always entertaining- as are the novels! So many secrets are revealed and I was so intruiged! All the suspects have a motive. I made a guess as I was reading but I turned out to be completely wrong.

I’m never very good at solving the crime.

I preferred this to the other Death in Paradise novel I read- mainly because there was so much more background to the characters- including the victim!

Not everyone is who they seem.

It was a great read- when DI Poole solved the case, it was so clever how it was done that I felt a little silly for not working it out. I was also very impressed at the killer!

I really enjoyed this book and it’s very easy to follow. There’s funny moments amongst the crime- this made it more enjoyable and less of a drag. I’d definitely recommend it!

5/5 stars! A decent crime novel with added fun!

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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