Book: The Lost Tudor Princess- The Life of Lady Margaret Douglas

*I received a free copy of this ebook through netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

(I am SO late in writing up this review).

I requested The Lost Tudor Princess thinking I was requesting a historical fiction of Lady Margaret Douglas. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. It was non-fiction. I was surprised as I don’t have any non fiction in my categories, but I decided to read it. Honestly, I probably should read more non-fiction.

lost-tudor-princessThis is a true biography of the life of Margaret Douglas, niece to Henry VIII and cousin to Queen Elizabeth I. It describes Margaret’s life in detail, to the circumstances surrounding her birth, her long life, and to the lives of her children as well. Margaret was an interesting woman, and walked a very fine line between a tumultuous political time.

I’m fairly familiar with the history of Henry VIII and Elizabeth’s long road to power, through the brief reign of her brother and bloody reign of her sister. Despite my knowledge of the history and familiarity with some of the more famous figures of the time, I had never heard about Margaret Douglas. I was really intrigued by her life and impressed by her. She lived through a lot, including imprisonment (multiple times), the death of her parents and uncle, the death of her cousins (Edward and Mary), the death of her son, and then the death of her husband.

The problem I had with the book is how very dry it was. I understand it was non fiction and a biography. It almost read like an academic biography with how extremely detailed it was. But it’s extreme detail also made it very difficult for me to get through. It would give names of the various people involved in Margaret’s life, and then refer to them as their title rather than their name. This ended up being very confusing as titles were often changing. I wish there had been a guide to the key people mentioned in the book. Between all the political ties and servants, especially with all the people Margaret Douglas corresponded with through letters, it was difficult to keep track of everyone. I often had to refer to the family time line or the annotated notes in the back, but my ebook links were off and didn’t take me to the specific page. Halfway through I decided to give up reading the notes.

Despite Margaret being a fascinating person in history, I have to give this a 2 out of 5 stars. Between the cumbersome ebook format, lack of of who’s who section, and the incredibly dry writing, it was a difficult read for me.However, I felt like I learned a lot.

On another note, I learned something about myself. I always tend to romanticize the Elizabethan era time. I blame Shakespeare. But I think this book helped me realize how terrible of a Lady I would be. Margaret was incredibly cunning and very ambitious. I am not the least bit ambitious or competitive, so I probably would not have fared well. I would have ended up like poor Lady Jane and got myself beheaded.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday of 2015

I know it is already the end of January, but I still feel like 2016 just started for me. So here is my Top Ten Tuesday books I read in 2015 (not always books published in 2015, but books I read in 2015).

10.) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood-

I didn’t score this book very high but I had to include it in my top ten because I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s a book I wish I read in Feminist Literary Theory, so I could discuss it with other people. Because I have a lot of things to say about this book.

9.) The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

I am a huge fan of the Percy Jackson series. And the Heroes of Olympus series was even better. The last book was a great conclusion to the series. It also got me excited for his new series, Magnus Chase.

8.) Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham

I was a little worried the first novel by an actress I loved. I didn’t want it to be terrible. It was not terrible. It was lovely and delightful. It had awkward moments, but it had all the humor that I associate with Lauren Graham.

7.) Entwined by Heather Morris

I love fairytale retellings and this one was by far my favorite this year. A well done retelling of the 12 dancing princesses (that was a stand alone!) with enough of a twist to make it interesting.

6.) The Heir by Kiera Cass

I was not excited initially when it was announced she was doing more books from the Selection series. I was worried it would ruin the integrity of the original series. I was pleasantly surprised. It was fantastic with a fresh new voice. Can’t wait for the next book.

5.) Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

This book totally took me by surprise as I had no idea where it was going. It’s a little…odd. But in a totally great way. Just read it.

4.) The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I was hooked after I read a excerpt of this online. Game of Thrones meets the Hunger Games. Looking forward to the next in the series.

3.) How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

What a surprising find this was. It’s about what reinventing yourself really means and how things don’t go the way you think they will. If you don’t want to read the book, just read chapter 24. It’s two pages of brilliant.

2.) and 1.) Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot and Winter by Marissa Meyer

Really these books are tied. Excellent ending to both series. You can read my full review of Royal Wedding here. Marissa Meyer’s conclusion was extremely well done and didn’t fall flat as some dystopia society series have done. I love both these writers and look forward to more from them in the future.

Honorable mentions: Snow like Ashes by Sara Raasch, Exile by Kevin Emerson, The Fault in our Stars by John Green, Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield, and Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

 

Book: The Secret Chord

secret chord book cover*I received a free copy of this ebook through netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

I was very excited when I got access to this book. I have read Geraldine Brooks’ March, which is the story of Mr. March from Little Women while he is at the war. I really enjoyed her taking a character and giving a new voice to him. I knew most of the basics of King David’s story, so I was interested to see her take on it.

The book is from the perspective of the prophet Nathan and David is already King. Nathan is chronicling David’s past from speaking with others from his past, getting stories of his childhood, his defeat against Goliath, and becoming close with King Saul. Nathan is also recalling his past with King David, as he met David as a child who’s family had been killed and began prophesying. David spared him and brought him into his royal court. The current time of the story is right before David commits his grievous sin of adultery.

From the description, there are a lot of jumps in time. At times, this made the book very confusing. Sometimes it wasn’t clear if Nathan was speaking with someone or if he was recalling his own memories. Some of the interviews he had and his own memories overlapped. Once the story caught up with itself, it read a lot easier.

Overall, I thought Brooks’ did a great job depicting the story of David, the man. She paints David as passionate and fiery, but also deeply spiritual and poetic. I loved that she often brought up the music and songs David created. It fit very well with scripture as he is known to have created most of the book of Psalms. Although the timeline was confusing, I liked the story’s perspective told from Nathan. It allowed Brooks to give a more honest portrayal, as he foresaw what was to come.

One of the strengths of the book was Brooks’ portrayal of the female characters, such as David’s mother Nizevet, his first wife Michal, and Bathsheba. Each of them was mistreated in a way or cast out by their husbands, as wives were treated like property. They shared their story with Nathan, and he expressed sympathy for each of them. However, these three female character were not depicted as weak. They were still strong in the ways that they could be strong. I appreciated that they were all given such a strong voice where most Biblical women do not have one (not counting Esther and Ruth).

One of the downsides of the books was the violence and language. I expected most of the violence, since the Old Testament had a lot of war. David fought lots of battles to gain his kingdom, and they were very gruesome. I prepared myself for that. I did not prepare for the very violent incest/rape scene. I am usually not squeamish, but I had to set the book down for a second to keep reading. I didn’t think the scene was necessary in that detail and greatly impacted my feelings on the book.

I also did not expect the profane cursing. I understood what Brooks was trying to do. David’s men were soldiers and they probably had their languages’ equivalent of dirty slang and curses. But I couldn’t handle the use of ‘f***’ in the context of the book. That wasn’t a word that was even created until the 15th century. Using modern curses for a story set in David’s time just didn’t work for me. She should have been more creative then that.

Overall, I would rate the book 3 out of 5. The book had great moments and the writing was still very strong, although I don’t think it is Brooks’ best work.