The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory

the-kings-curseTitle: The King’s Curse
Author: Philippa Gregory
Series: The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels (formerly The Cousin’s War)
Publisher: Touchstone
Published: August 14th, 2014
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)

Quick Look:

While not my favorite of the Cousin’s War series, I nevertheless loved this book. I’d never heard much about Margaret Pole and I found her story fascinating. Her story also provides a different look at Henry VIII, a point of view I hadn’t thought about. Continue reading

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe
Rating: ★★★

I am confused on how to rate this. There is no denying that Hodge created a beautiful, interesting world with an interesting history. The characters are flawed, yet wonderful. The ending felt a little fast, but I still liked it. I’m not quite sure that it’s “Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast,” but it’s still a captivating read.

Nyx has known for most of her life that she would be the sacrifice. Here sister is the beloved daughter and she is the useful one kept at a distance. She knows she will be married to the Gentle Lord, the one who rules all demons. She knows she is expected to destroy him, and in the process either be trapped with his forever or die. Nyx has never felt loved or valuable to her family, something that plays an important role later in the story. She’d developed a tough skin and an even tougher heart. She knows that if she doesn’t let herself care for anyone, no one can use that against her.

Nyx fascinated me as a character. Her father has never shown her much love, instead showering her sister with affection while training Nyx to be the revenge he desires upon Ignifex. Nyx and her sister were part of a bargain their father struck with Ignifex, but it cost him his wife. As revenge, Nyx is supposed to marry and destroy him and his castle. Her father’s desire for revenge leaves no room for compassion and love for Nyx. She’s angry and hurt. She wants someone to feel for her situation. She feels like she is not a person, just a tool.

Ignifex somehow breaks her down and reveals a different side to Nyx. She suddenly has someone she wants to care for. She’s meant to destroy him, but finds common bonds that make that task difficult. The main fault I find between Ignifex and Nix is that they barely spend much time together before it becomes love. I wish the relationship had been developed a little more right from the beginning.

The world building was done well. There’s some Greek mythology mixed with the Beauty and the Beast elements. My favorite piece was the castle, though. It’s forever changing, revealing new secrets and hiding others constantly. I loved reading Nyx’s wanderings of the castle. Everything was so vividly described I could picture it all easily. The castle is its own character.

In the end, despite how I loved individual pieces of the novel, I didn’t fall head over heels in love with it. It was good, yes, but not amazing. I think the Beauty and the Beast elements will really draw people in. It’s a lovely and well-written novel, just not exactly what I thought I was getting into. Still worth a read for the imagery alone. Everything else is just an added bonus.

If Cruel Beauty sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

Title: The Violets of March
Author: Sarah Jio
Rating: ★★★★★

This is only the second book of Jio’s I’ve read, but it’s another home run.

In The Violets of March, Emily is going through a bit of a rough patch. She’s getting a divorce and hasn’t been able to write a decent word since the publication of her first novel 8 years prior. At the suggestion of her best friend Annabelle, she travels to Bainbridge Island in Washington. It’s always had a special palace in her heart and Annabella thinks its exactly what she needs.

Once there, Emily finds a small notebook with a fascinating story unfolding on its pages. The story of Ester and the tragedy that befalls her is what draws Emily in and starts the healing process.

Every character in this book is wonderful. Aunt Bee is just eclectic enough, Jack is the sweetheart, and even the characters in the story within the story are well-written. They are what make this novel so engaging. They are what make the words on the page come to life and wrap you up in the beauty of the island.

There is a romance in this novel, but instead of distracting from the character building, it only aids Emily in the search for herself. The relationships in the novel only add to the fantastic characterizations.

Something else I love about Jio’s writing is how easily she can take me into the setting of the story. There is something about her writing that just draws you in so well that when she describes the water, you can see it, smell it, hear it, taste it, and feel it. You are immediately pulled in and even when you stop reading, everything lingers.

TheViolets of March is a superb novel about family secrets and finding out who you really are. It pulls you right onto Bainbridge Island and wraps you up in the sea breeze. I is another fantastic novel by Jio and only serves to prove that Jo is an author you must read.

If The Violets of March sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Title: Shadow of Night
Author: Deborah Harkness
Series: All Souls Trilogy
Rating: ★★★★

A Discovery of Witches felt like something I hadn’t read before. Sure, the witch and vampire idea is out there and has been for a while, but something felt different about that book. The same thing happened with Shadow of Night.

In Shadow of Night, Diana and Matthew timewalk back in time with the hope of finding Ashmole 782 complete. They want to find the secrets of their creation and their future. On top of that, they want to find a witch to help Diana as she finds her witch powers. They travel back to 1590 and are thrown right into the world of Elizabeth’s England.

Matthew falls back into his life as a spy and gets back together with his group of friends, known as the School of Night. Diana has to find a way to adjust to the time in nearly every way, on top of trying to find a witch with the power to teach her about her own powers. She’s living in the world that, as a historian, she could only dream of seeing.

Matthew and Diana are married before they timewalk, but they still have problems they need to work out. There are still secrets between them, and while some are insignificant, some are important. They have to work on their relationship and find ways to accept the good and the bad, as well as air those hidden secrets.

I think the cast of characters for this novel is one of my favorites in recent memories. Every single person was unique and I fell in love with several of them. The homes Matthew and Diana occupy while in Elizabethan England are rarely empty and each person that took up space in those homes was fantastic. They all added something special to the novel and I could easily read books about each and every one of them.

There’s a lot that doesn’t happen in this novel, but that doesn’t bother me. Even though not everything felt as though it held importance to the overall plot or characters, I didn’t mind reading about everything that went on. Nothing felt like filler, even though some pages were not as important as others. There are often times when things aren’t happening, but that’s okay. Harkness makes every word feel purposeful.

Shadow of Night was a fantastic novel that I made sure to really read. I slowed myself down in order to enjoy each word. This was a wonderful sequel and I am looking forward to what comes next and how Diana and Matthew’s trip to the past has changed their future.

If Shadow of Night sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Review: The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

Title: The Tutor’s Daughter
Author: Juile Klassen
Pages: 412 pages paperback, 416 ebook
Rating: ★★★★

I’ve been a fan of Klassen for a couple years. She’s able to write Regency romance extremely well. Despite a slow start, The Tutor’s Daughter fits right in with the style and sweetness of Klassen’s previous novels.

Emma Smallwood and her father travel to Cornwall set to tutor the two younger brothers of students Mr. Smallwood once had at his school. They hardly get off on the right foot, arriving somewhat unexpectedly. Emma had been friends with Phillip Weston and tormented by his older brother Henry when they were boys at her father’s school, and she’s both anxious and nervous to see how living in the same home goes.

Right from the beginning, it’s easy to tell there are a couple secrets being kept. Odd things keep happening and no one seems to have the right explanation for them. I will say I guessed one of the secrets early on, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

The first third of the novel moved a little too slowly for my tastes, but the last third definitely helped make up for that. There’s action and accusations and it’s wonderful.

Klassen once again proves her fantastic ability to write a 19th century English romance. The language she uses is perfect, and she’s able to paint the world as it was. The Tutor’s Daughter has just the right amount of mystery and romance, plus it doesn’t over do it when it comes to the religious discussions. I know this genre isn’t for everyone, but for lovers of Regency romances, Klassen is an author to add to your bookshelves.

If The Tutor’s Daughter sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Review: Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood

Title: Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses
Author: Sarah Gristwood
Rating: ★★★★

I’ve only recently become interested in the time of the Cousin’s War, and mainly because of Philippa Gregory’s latest novel series. So when I came across this book dealing with the women of the time, I knew I wanted to give it a read.

Not a lot can be known for certain about the women discussed in this book. The records are spotty and not always reliable to begin with, but women weren’t usually considered important enough to have much written about them. It truly is a shame, because it seems as though these women played a huge part in getting England through this crazy time.

Each of the women has an interesting story, but some played a greater part than others. Margaret Beaufort worked nearly her entire life to get to her final position of mother of a king. Elizabeth Woodville came up from a low position to become queen. Her daughter saw how easily fortunes could change, but still made it through it all to become one half of the marriage that united a country divided.

Sometimes, books such as this one can become a little boring and textbook-like. There were parts of the book I glazed over, mostly because the material being discussed wasn’t all too interesting, like how much money was spent on what things, but overall the book kept me interested enough that I really took my time to read this. I wanted to gain a bit of knowledge from this book that I wouldn’t have otherwise found.

If you’re interested in the history of the Cousin’s War and want to learn more about it, this is definitely a good book to pick up.

If Blood Sisters sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Basic Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.