Saturday, 27 September 2014

The King's Curse
by Philippa Gregory
Rating: 3/5


Pages - 608
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: August 14th 2014
ISBN - 9780857207562

Summary (via Goodreads)

The final novel in the Cousins’ War series, the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries, The White Queen, by #1 New York Times bestselling author and “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory tells the fascinating story of Margaret Pole, cousin to the “White Princess,” Elizabeth of York, and lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon.

Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter—Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors.

After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret’s world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. But this charmed life of the wealthiest and “holiest” woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors.


The last book in the Cousins War series, The King's Curse follows on from the White Princess. Told from the eyes of Lady Margaret Pole, cousin to Queen Elizabeth, daughter of George of Clarence and Isabelle Neville, the story follows the marriage of young Prince Arthur to Katherine of Aragon and the events that followed right through to Henry VIII reign.

Continuing with the reign of Henry VII the book shows the fear and uncertainty that the county felt, particularly anyone with Plantagenet blood, like Margaret. In the beginning of the book Margaret hides behind her married name and avoids bringing attention to herself or her children for fear of being accused of treason. Then as circumstances gradually change, she finds her self pride and, as a new reign begins, relishes in the freedom and favour that comes with it.

Through Margaret the reader gets insight into the merry young court of Henry VIII and his new Queen, his brother's widow, Katherine. Margaret becomes close friends with the queen helping her in all things, including the births of her children. The young King restores her to her wealth and family titles and she watches and others rise too, including the ambitious young man called Charles Brandon.

For anyone who watched the Tudors tv series like me here's a little treat =) ain't they cute!

 back to the review......

One thing that Gregory is good at is telling a story from all sides. For me I had always pictured the Tudor court of young Henry VIII as being rich and fun and full of life, but in this book Gregory shows how for the older, nobler families the young favourites of the King were seen as rebellious, rude and rather daft in their antics, something Margaret feels as she is gradually pushed from the King's inner circles. And as each year there is still no male heir, Henry becomes more and more dangerous....

Although I have to admit this wasn't my favourite book of the series I still really enjoyed reading about Margaret and her very large family and the events that followed the end of Henry VII's reign. I find the history behind these events and her possible involvement in them very interesting in terms of plots to overthrow Henry VIII, whether she intended to or not. I recommend this series to any history lover based on this if anything else.

I personally would love to know what happened to her grandson and the other many victims of the Tower who once they went in were never seen again, but unfortunately we will probably never know their fates.

Gregory has only enhanced my devotion to the Plantagenet's and the Tudors and I look forward eagerly to her next book. 




Monday, 22 September 2014

The White Princess
by Philippa Gregory
Rating:  4/5

Pages:  520
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2013
ISBN: 978-0-85720-751-7

Summary (via Goodreads)

The haunting story of the mother of the Tudors, Elizabeth of York, wife to Henry VII.

Beautiful eldest daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville - the White Queen - the young princess Elizabeth faces a conflict of loyalties between the red rose and the white. Forced into marriage with Henry VII, she must reconcile her slowly growing love for him with her loyalty to the House of York, and choose between her mother's rebellion and her husband's tyranny. Then she has to meet the Pretender, whose claim denies the House of Tudor itself.


The White Princess tells the story of Elizabeth of York who would be the mother of Henry VIII and grandmother of Elizabeth I. Anyone who watched the tv series or knows anything about her will know that she married Henry VII, Margaret Beaufort's son. Philippa Gregory portrays Elizabeth as a woman in love with her uncle, Richard III, a legendary scandal that has helped to create his negative representation as a villain. And lets face it, the idea of it is kind of creepy.

Throughout the book is told that she will be married to Henry VII, the man she believes might have killed her two brothers, the princes in the tower. With this worry in the back of her mind she enters married life fearing that, if she is right, any son she has is doomed to die.

Alongside the curse she has to deal with her new husband and mother-in-law who are fearful of a return to the York reign. Henry VII becomes paranoid in his desire to control his new wife and her kinsmen, often leading to bouts of violence. In spite of this, Gregory shows that the royal couple did learn to live with one another and eventually Henry VII grew to love his wife even if he was still controlling, as is commonly rumoured in historical records.

For me this book was well written and showed clearly why history can be such a perfect topic to base a book on. Anyone who follows this blog will have realised by now that I am a massive fan of the Tudors and the Plantagenets and this book is one of the reasons why. Full of questioned loyalty, pretenders to the throne, love, betrayal and sex this book leaves nothing to be desired.


Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Kingmakers Daughter
By Philippa Gregory

Pages - 428
Publication Date - 2012
Publishers - Simon & Schuster UK ltd
ISBN - 978-0-85720-746-3


Summary (via Goodreads)

The Kingmaker’s Daughter, New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory presents the riveting story of Anne Neville, her sister Isabel, and their ever-changing fortunes.

The Kingmaker’s Daughter is the gripping and ultimately tragic story of the daughters of the man known as the “Kingmaker,” the most powerful magnate in England through the Cousins’ Wars. In the absence of a son and heir, he uses the two girls as pawns in his political games, but they grow up to be influential players in their own right. In this novel, her first sister story since The Other Boleyn Girl, Gregory explores the lives of two fascinating young women.

At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child brought up in intimacy and friendship with the family of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Her will is tested when she is left widowed and fatherless, with her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy.

Fortune’s wheel turns again when Richard rescues Anne from her sister’s house, with danger still following Anne, even as she eventually ascends to the throne as queen. Having lost those closest to her, she must protect herself and her precious only child, Prince Edward, from a court full of royal rivals.
Review - Guest Post by The YA Nightstand

Ah I love this book! The Kingmaker's Daughter is my favourite out of the three books I've read so far. I don't know if it's because I watched the TV series while reading this one or just the book itself but I'm a little in love with Richard III.

The thing about Anne Neville is that no matter how petty and vindictive she was at times I couldn't help but sympathise with her in a way I wouldn't with batty old Margaret. Anne was the second child, she was her father's second choice when he was planning his rise to the Kings side, in all fairness she was pretty much every ones second choice and that makes her claim to the throne all the more captivating. It's almost like she came out from no where. No one expected this girl to amount to all that much and yet she captures the heart of a Duke, brother to the King and they become a force to be reckoned with. Together Anne and Richard take their place on the throne of England and this book is Anne's story. It's how she went from being the Kingmaker's daughter to the Queen of England.

Well if she doesn't I bloody well do!
I know that if I was to look at this threw un-bias eyes I would be able to tell you that Richard III and Anne Neville's relationship was so far from perfect that it's actually hard to read but I can't. I know Richard was a bit of a tosser towards the end of their marriage but I can't help but think they were happy at one point. That until the end Richard loved Anne and he saved her because of his feelings without an ulterior motive. If I was keeping on the rose tinted glasses I would say that this is one of my favourite couples in history. I have a soft spot of Richard and think that he was a good and loyal brother who was simply pushed to far and made to deal with impossible situations. But I think even I know I'm being a little too optimistic there.

One of the great things about these books that even though they tell you a story and even though there are facts woven into the fiction there are still a lot of plot lines left open for interpretation. Philippa leaves it open for the reader to decide what really happened all those years ago and who the villains really were. After far as history goes we'll probably never truly know what happened but I like to believe that there was good in Richard. I like to think that despite her stubbornness Elizabeth Woodville was a good mother and did what she thought was right for her children, not just her throne. But most of all I believe that it was Margaret and the Tudor line that ultimately tore apart not just the York throne but also their family.

This is how I like to remember these two. 
Overall this was by far my favourite book that I've read so far in this series. I love the character's, in fact they were the ones I was most excited to read about. I can't say it's not because I'm not crushing on the actor who plays Richard but I don't think that really matters? The story is exciting and, again, full to the brim with plot twists and action. It's an epic read that I would recommend to anyone. Even if you don't read the other books in the series I hope you think to pick up Anne's story because it is one of my all time favourites.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Lady of The Rivers
by Philippa Gregory
Rating:  5/5

Pages: 497
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK ltd
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-84737-459-2

Summary (via Goodreads)
Jacquetta, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and kinswoman to half the royalty of Europe, was married to the great Englishman John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI. Widowed at the age of 19, she took the extraordinary risk of marrying a gentleman of her household for love, and then carved out a new life for herself.


Sooo....If you have read the first two books so far you already will know that Elizabeth Woodville aka The White Queen married for love. And she isn't the only member of her family who did this. Jacquetta, her mother, also married against custom to a man from lower birth than herself in an era when marriages were for extending the families prospects, not for true love.

Book Three of the Cousins War series follows Jacquetta throughout her life from her first marriage and time abroad to her scandalous love affair with the charming and sweet Richard Woodville, her future husband. For me, this book is a classic fairy-tale which tells a real-life account of forbidden love. Full of passion and even some magic, The Lady of the Rivers brings to life the woman who shocked her contemporaries and stood her ground for the man she fell in love with.

I know what you are probably thinking about my review so far...soppy, but I can't help it. For me Richard Woodville is a character who you can't help but love to read about and by mid way through the book you will find yourself routing for their marriage.

Right, so for the actual review itself, now I've finished gushing about romance and true love. Philippa Gregory brings to life a woman who is not actually that well known in history and shows how, through determination and in this case, a bit of magic, Jacquetta became mother to the Queen of England. I think the rumours that surrounded her as a historical figure for being a witch and using this to make her daughter a Queen is one of the reasons she is such an interesting character to read about. either way whether you believe in magic and witchcraft or not she is undoubtedly one the main reasons Elizabeth Woodville married Edward IV.

I think any fan of strong female characters would love this series overall as each book tells the life and story of the women behind the Cousins War. however, this book in particular is a personal favourite of mine just because, as has already been established, I'm a bit of a romantic and I really admire Jacquetta for what she did, turning against her family wishes to marry a man in her service when she could have married any number of rich men instead.

heart animated GIF

Friday, 19 September 2014

The Red Queen
By Philippa Gregory

 Pages - 387

Publication Date - 2010

Publishers - Simon & Schuster UK ltd

ISBN -  978-1-84737-457-8

 Summary (via Goodreads)

The second book in Philippa's stunning new trilogy, The Cousins War, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series - The White Queen - but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses.

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.

Review - Guest post by The YA Nightstand

The Red Queen is my least favourite of these books. In truth I've only read the first three but I found this one a lot harder to get through. That's not to say it was bad, it wasn't. I have a little bit of a love hate relationship with this instalment of The Cousins War series. I love the way in which Philippa writes and that doesn’t change with this book, it’s enchanting, endearing and down right epic. However, no matter how great a story or how great the author you can’t overlook a character like Margaret Beaufort, the stubborn mare!

She really did tell you little Henry was going to be King.
She told you over and over and over again!!
Margaret Beaufort is the most insufferable women I've ever read about and I’ve read a lot of books! Okay, I will admit that she has plenty of reasons to be the way she is and hating her is really hard knowing what she went through in her first marriage at the age of 12. Also her love of God and Saintly Knees are rather amusing at times.

Without this one woman's determination the Tudor line would most likely never have made it onto the throne. She’s a spiteful woman but her need to see her one and only son as King of England was a testament to her character. We never really find out exactly what lengths she went to, I for one think it was her who got rid of the princes, but then again, that's just me. There really isn't much more to say about this character, she had a one-track mind and she did whatever if took to get what she wanted. Or I guess more importantly, what she thought she deserved and this book shows how she did that. What her part in getting the Tudors in succession for the throne really was.

Look at her on those Saintly knees... AGAIN 
Overall this is another great book from Philippa and I can’t fault the writing or the plot. In all honesty I can’t even fault her for Margaret because she wrote the character the way she saw her. She wrote her the way she believed she was. It may not have been my favourite out of the series so far but it was certainly worth the read.

Well technically I think it's her first language...

Can I just say that I think this woman is a prime example of why you shouldn't live vicariously through your kids? It doesn't end well and you tend to loose your sanity!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The White Queen
By Philippa Gregory

Pages - 417

Publication Date - 2009

Publishers - Simon & Schuster UK ltd

ISBN - 978-1-84737-455-4


Summary (via Goodreads)

Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.
The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.
With The White Queen, Philippa Gregory brings the artistry and intellect of a master writer and storyteller to a new era in history and begins what is sure to be another bestselling classic series from this beloved author.
Review - Guest Post by The YA Nightstand

Okay so I have to admit that I wasn't completely sold on these books the first time I heard about them. In fact it took Holly here a good year to get me to read them and even then I think it might have had something to do with the TV adaptation staring the GORGEOUS Max Irons than the actual books. I know, I'm ashamed of myself but damn that boy is hot! Anyways, even though it took me a little longer than it should have to read these books the second I started reading The White Queen I was hooked! It's exciting and Philippa has a way of really bringing these characters (back) to life. I adore her take on what happened during The War of the Roses and even though I'm not a historical fiction kinda girl I was able to fall madly in love with this story. 

Just look at that face!
Time to stop gushing about how incredibly attractive Max is and move onto the review. Because at a guess I'd say that's what you really want to hear about. Okay so, the story of The White Queen is one of Elizabeth Woodville, a widowed mother of two in search of the kings help. However, the second the king sees the beautiful fair haired maiden standing by the side of the road he falls madly in love with her. The White Queen follows Elizabeth as she becomes queen during a time a war. How she bares the kings children, fights for their lives and linage through a harrowing and bloody time. 

Oh how I love thy so! This book I mean. Actually it's not even my favourite out of the ones that I've read but the story is so intricate and action packed that it doesn't give you a moment to breath. Elizabeth's character is strong and stubborn. I found myself both supporting her as a mother and also wishing she would just stop and give up all at the same time. However, I think that's part of the beauty of these books. No character if the faultless prince or princess, they all have their weaknesses and it only makes them more relatable.

I adored the way in which this book (and the rest of The Cousins War Series) is written and the fact that even though it was only ever rumoured that this woman was a witch that Philippa would choose to write it as if it was fact. That it was Elizabeth's magic that shaped her role in English history adding a magical flare to an already exciting plot.

I don't know about you lot but I didn't really know much about this period. I knew a lot about Henry the 8th and all his shenanigans but I didn't know much about what came before him. This book, even though fiction, shows just some of what went on at the time and is a series told by the women of court. It's an excellent read and works as a stand alone in a series of companion novels. I loved it and would recommend it too pretty much anyone. 

Okay now I've done the whole reviewing part can I go back to Max? Yes? Thank you :)`

No need to thank me,
You're welcome! 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Flowers in the Attic
by Virginia Andrews
Rating:  5/5


Pages: 346
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 2005 (first published in 1979)
ISBN: 9780006159292

Summary (via Goodreads)

The four Dollanganger children had such perfect lives -- a beautiful mother, a doting father, a lovely home. Then Daddy was killed in a car accident, and Momma could no longer support the family. So she began writing letters to her parents, her millionaire parents, whom the children had never heard of before.

Momma tells the children all about their rich grandparents, and how Chris and Cathy and the twins will live like princes and princesses in their grandparents' fancy mansion. The children are only too delighted by the prospect. But there are a few things that Momma hasn't told them.

She hasn't told them that their grandmother considers them "devil's spawn" who should never have been born. She hasn't told them that she has to hide them from their grandfather if she wants to inherit his fortune. She hasn't told them that they are to be locked away in an abandoned wing of the house with only the dark, airless attic to play in. But, Momma promises, it's only for a few days....

Then the days stretch into months, and the months into years. Desperately isolated, terrified of their grandmother, and increasingly convinced that their mother no longer cares about them, Chris and Cathy become all things to the twins and to each other. They cling to their love as their only hope, their only strength -- a love that is almost stronger than death.


I have read this series over and over and still get as much enjoyment from it as I did the first time.

Originally published in 1979,  Flowers in the Attic tells the tragic story of the Dollanganger siblings from being in a happy family to the betrayal and hurt experienced at the hand of the one person they trusted the most. The book covers almost every topic imaginable from betrayal and murder to forbidden, tragic love.

Okay so its not exactly a happy-go-lucky book but I enjoyed it because it reveals a great deal about human endurance through difficult situations and how confined space and terrifying circumstances can cause people to react in a way that is against all someone believes in. For the older two siblings, Cathy and Chris, the attic poses a harsh reality about human greed and ambition to a horrifying end.

I should probably make it clear for anyone who hasn't read any of Virginia Andrews books previously that when I say she writes about dark stuff I do really mean dark. This might sound a bit obvious but, particularly in the case of Flowers in the Attic some of the topics covered can be very disturbing. I would not recommend this book to young readers.

However, if like me you enjoy a bit of the disturbing then this series will be great for you!