Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Boleyn Inheritance - Philippa Gregory

Plot: 

Jane Boleyn saved the family's inheritance when she condemned her husband and sister-in-law to their death. Now, she is known as a lady with ambition and a spiteful tongue.

Anne of Cleves escapes her controlling family through her marriage to the King of England. Only she makes a grave mistake and must now learn who to trust and how to survive in a country that has seen the change of three Queens.

Katherine Howard is a young girl, blossoming under the care of her grandmother. She becomes lady-in-waiting to the new Queen, only to find herself the central player of a game that has been played countless times in court.

Review:

I'd never expect to rave about Philippa Gregory so much, and then come face to face with a book I simply did not like. Well the time has come, and sadly I have to say The Boleyn Inheritance takes the prize for the worst book (I have read) from Gregory.

That's not to say the book was absolutely dreadful though. I finished it in a good amount of time without feeling like it was a waste of time to read.

The use of three central characters was not as confusing due to Gregory's simple layout. Each chapter is dedicated to one of the female characters, and headed by their name. All three also had their own unique voices, so it felt a lot more believable. I liked that Gregory explored and promoted three characters that were lesser known in history. It is easy to know who King Henry VIII married but only a few are "famous"/well-known. Whilst it is fictionalised Gregory did refer to primary sources and other evidence to build a life around the characters, so it's not completely untrue.

I found the voices of the character weren't at all intriguing though. At first I was really amused by Kitty's daftness and self-interest. She is a 14 year old girl who revels in the attention given by people around her, especially men, because of her beauty. Her only interest is herself and what she can gain from the attention. Except I felt like her voice started to become so whiny and very naive. I'd figure historically a 14 year old girl would be educated enough to understand her role in life and how the court works. Kitty's voice actually suited a modern day teen instead (although I'm not saying all teens are whiny and self-centred).

Anne sounded like she had no personality. She was flat and dreary the entire way through and I skipped her parts at the end when she because almost irrelevant. Although with her upbringing, it is quite understandable to see why she had no talents or wit. She was smart enough to save her neck and compassionate enough to be liked, but eventually became very boring.

Jane was by far the most interesting because she was the central player. Using her influence and knowledge she tried to play things to her (and her "family's") advantage. I liked that Gregory gave her a chance to justify her actions. Whether it was true or not is very debatable, but at least in this story she sounded logical enough. Logical in the sense that it made sense to her beliefs, even if it didn't resonate with my own values. That made her a complex character with enough development to not fall flat.

The Boleyn Inheritance depended on the characters to really make the story, considering everything was through their recount. I didn't feel anything but annoyance and boredom with the characters, so I guess the story just didn't work for me. Maybe it will for you though?

Rating: 3/5


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Monday, 24 March 2014

February New Releases

Finally I finished the books that were released last month, well the ones I wanted to read anyways.

  • A Mad Wicked Folly - Sharon Biggs Waller

  • Pieces of Me - Amber Kizer

  • The Glass Casket - McCormick Templeman

  • Tsarina - J. Nelle Patrick (Jackson Pearce)

Watch the review below!



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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Counting Down: Top Five

3. The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory 

Plot:
Mary Boleyn enters court at a young age, full of innocence and beauty. Appointed lady-in-waiting, she secures a closeness with Queen Catherine of Aragon, not only putting her in the midst of the court but under the watchful eye of King Henry VIII. Soon, she is tumbling forward in a battle for the throne and the King's heart, not knowing that her fiercest enemy are ones closest to her.

Reason:

My love for The Other Boleyn Girl stems from many reasons.

Firstly, it introduced me into the world of Historical Fiction - the kind I liked. Whilst I knew of the existence of fictionalised recounts of World Wars and such, I never realised that people actually wrote about long dead kings and queens (I know, stupid right). It definitely pulled me in, and I quickly fell in love with the voices of characters that had appeared on Wikipedia for me.

Secondly, it intensified my love for the Tudor times. I studied the era back when I was in Year 8, and from doing a research project on King Henry VIII and his wives, I grew obsessed. The world seemed magical to me somehow, and exciting. The beauty of the court, the gowns and the "chivalrous" knights, I was determined to believe that the Tudor era was great. The Other Boleyn Girl certainly evokes those elements, but there's also the dangers of the court and the ambition that arises. There was enough drama to have me enthralled. I'm not certain it's 100% historically accurate, but Greggory has done her research. She's just taken points that have been rumoured to occur and stretched them out, to keep the plot interesting. Not going to lie, I loved the scandals and intrigued that played out.

Thirdly, whilst I say it's not 100% accurate, it still gave quite a lot of insight into the era and not only the relationship between Henry and Anne Boleyn, but also Mary Boleyn who not many people know about. I never knew she even existed until reading this novel! I guess because her sister became Queen, she was overlooked as the girl who failed. Her story, however much fictionalised it is, is still very interesting and quite believable.

That's why fourthly, I say I loved the book because Mary had me in the palm of her hands. She drew support from me, and stereotypically Anne was the villain of the story. True to history's recount, Anne was depicted in a conniving and ambitious way. I guess that might be something that was on the iffy side of this book, but I overlooked it because I was immersed in Mary's life too much.

Not only Mary though, but the other characters had such a riveting tale they seemed very much alive. George Boleyn enchanting, William charming and Catherine of Aragon dignified.

Lastly, the plot was simply amazing. It's definitely not a light read but it's filled with rich and exciting moments that had me engrossed. I've flown through the novel so many times without getting bored because it is that good. It's hard not to be swept up into the corruption and deceit that circulates a court that seems so perfect on the outside. It's the right amount of drama that doesn't overwhelm and seem exaggerated.

I understand that this might suit everyone's taste, but I would recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction and just reading in general.

P.S If you saw the movie and have written off reading the book, don't. I don't even want to acknowledge the existence of the movie.

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Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Hobbit + The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - J R. R Tolkein

Not going to lie, it took me three months to read all four books. I think it was because the font was tiny in my version so it felt like I was reading 3 pages for every 1. Still, I really enjoyed the entire adventure that happened and would definitely recommend it, especially for all fantasy lovers.

FULL REVIEW:



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Friday, 14 March 2014

The Host - Stephanie Meyer

Plot: 

Earth has been overrun by a new type of species, and human beings are ceasing to exist. The species are souls, inserted into humans as a way to tame the violent and aggressive nature is contained in them.

Wanderer takes on Melanie Stryder's body, ready for the challenges of human emotions and memories. Instead, she's met with the voice of Melanie, not willing to fade away. Melanie fills Wanderer's mind with constant images of a man and a boy, and soon Wanderer builds an attachment to strong to ignore.

Review:

I'm going to have to thank the #AYEARATHON read-a-long for pushing me to read this. This month's topic is Twilight, but that meant I could still read something else from Stephanie Meyer. Why I waited this long to read The Host is beyond me, but boy am I glad I did.

The Host is pitched as a sci-fi romance, and I can see why it's labelled as that. The whole souls moving from planet to planet, and latching onto nerves etc. can have a sci-fi feel to it, but that wasn't really a dominant part to the novel. Instead, the plot places a lot more emphasis on humanity, morality, justice and decency. It really opened a lot of questions on how humans react and interact with each other, subconsciously as well. Furthermore, it explores the relationships that expand beyond just female-male love. I liked the depth of plot that Meyer planted in this, which surprised me because I kept questioning myself as to whether this was the same author as the Twilight series. I'm not saying I hated that series, it's just that it lacked a rich plot.

Meyer was able to also create very moving and relatable characters. I liked basically every single character that cropped up, because they each had a backstory that helped play a role to the plot. It wasn't hard to grow attached to even the very minor characters. Whilst Wanderer and Melanie played the central role, the others weaved in and out seamlessly, creating such a warming atmosphere. I'd have to say I got a little annoyed with Jared but that's because I was diagnosed with second-lead syndrome. Hate it when that happens. Still, in the end I was beaming with the love that exuded from their "family".

What I loved most was that Wanderer was allowed to stick to her own personality from start to finish. She learnt new things, especially with emotions, but in the end she managed to adapt to that in her own way. I feel like there's really no way to explain it without spoiling it so I might stop here. (Also, I'm starting to sound wooden  so moving on).

Another strong factor was that it explores relationships a great deal. It's not even just the relationship between a boy and girl, or that of blood ties, but just general relationships that can sprout anywhere. It's a testament to how much humans can become attached to someone after constant interactions and the strong emotions that resound despite having nothing to tie them down to. The Host really represents how much humanity can be good as well as bad, and it was very interesting to read. 


The use of different species also portrayed how different beliefs can clash but there are always reasons behind it. It's not that we should be made to accept someone's personal beliefs, but that we should learn to respect it and be open-minded. That was really the growth for each character in the book as well.

Ultimately, The Host was thought-provoking, fast paced and entertaining to read. It made for a great read with some amazing characters, and the messages behind it really stuck with me. Don't ignore Stephanie Meyer if you didn't like the Twilight series because this was way beyond that. It's also the first book (I'm pretty sure) that I'm rating 5 stars for this year. That should say something.

Note: This is actually the first book of a series, with the sequel being released in 2015 (apparently).

Rating: 5/5

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Wednesday, 5 March 2014

TOP FIVE: Books I Want To See As Movies

Not going to lie, whenever Hollywood announces it's making a book to movie adaptation I freak out a little. Not only because of excitement, but also because of apprehension - what if they screw up big time (like they usually do)? Still, it's nice to be able to visually appreciate the scenes that I've imagined in my mind and also garner more attention for a good book.

These are my top five, check it out!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C-wRr4lVkw

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Monday, 3 March 2014

February Wrap Up

Kind of crazy because I am about half way through my reading challenge for this year.

The #AYEARATHON read-a-long started this month. It's basically a read-a-long that lasts one week every month and this month's topic was Harry Potter. So I managed to re-read some books from my beloved series.



Another thing I took part in is Top 5 Wednesday, an idea that Lainey from gingerreadslainey came up with. The group is now available to everyone, so join here! Each Wednesday I'll be releasing videos for a certain topic.

Yet again, I managed to fall into the 20% off Bookworld trap and bought one too many books.



I also managed to venture in the New Adult genre. Definitely a very interesting experience. Check out my verdict below along with reviews for the three books that I read.





That brings my total of books read this month to 12! Like what? Wrap up in video below.



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