Interesting Tudor/Stuart Books

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If you know me well, you’ll know that one of my favourite eras of history is the Tudor period, and the Stuarts as well. Recently, I’ve been reading lots of books on those historical times, particularly the famous Kings and Queens. Here is a list of my recommendations if you’re also interested.

These books are in no particular order.

1.

The Tudor Court Novels by Philippa Gregory

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Widowed and alone in the avaricious world of the Tudor court, Katherine has to sidestep her father-in-law’s desire for her and convince him, and an incredulous Europe, that her marriage to Arthur was never consummated, that there is no obstacle to marriage with Henry. For seven years, she endures the treachery of spies, the humiliation of poverty, and intense loneliness and despair while she waits for the inevitable moment when she will step into the role she has prepared for all her life. – from Goodreads.com

Philippa Gregory is perhaps one of the most famous historical novelists. I haven’t read the entirety of the Tudor Court novels, only from Katherine of Aragon to Kateryn Parr, as the series continues onto Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. Although their historical accuracy has been questioned many times, the scandal and political intrigue make these books excellent page turners!

2.

The Tudor Treasury by Elizabeth Norton

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This history begins when the dynasty was secured by the plotting of Margaret, the mother of Henry VII, who returned from exile to take the English throne. In time, a 17-year-old prince was crowned Henry VIII, ushering in a golden era that would gradually darken as the king broke away from Rome to establish the Church of England and dissolve the monasteries. – from Goodreads.com

This non-fiction book was a bargain buy from The Works. I got it for £3 and absolutely loved it. It’s a great resource book, but also if you want to get clued up and read from front to back, it’s not too long and very easy to digest. Everything is simply written to help you absorb the facts of a dynasty that lasted over a hundred years!

3.

The Royal Diaries by Katheryn Laksy

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A series of twenty books published by Scholastic Press from 1999 to 2005. In each of the books, a fictional diary of a real female figure of royalty as a child throughout world history was written by the author. – from Goodreads.com

Elizabeth, Mary, Anne Boleyn, in fact, all of Henry’s six Queens… the list goes on! Katheryn Lasky has written them ALL, which I find completely overwhelming and admirable. These books, in particular, are fantastic for children, as they highlight the day-to-day routine of the era and also inject facts about the Queen’s lives throughout.

4.

Mary, Queen of Scotland and The Isles by Margaret George

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Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles is the story of a woman born to rule a nation — and the glorious pageant of love and tragedy that followed in her wake. Mary’s beauty inspired poetry — yet her birthright engendered hideous treachery and terrible, bloody murder. This novel is Margaret George’s magnificent recreation of the life of one of history’s greatest legends. – from Goodreads.com

This is one of my most recent reads, and certainly the biggest. My copy weighs in at a hefty 880 pages. (Although it’s not quite Les Miserables or War and Peace, both over 1,000 pages). This book chronicles the life of Mary, Queen of Scots from her birth to her death. It’s written so beautifully that you skip through the pages easily, and doesn’t feel as heavy as it looks. It’s a definite must-read for those wanting to know more about Mary’s life.

So these are my recommendations for most interesting Tudor/Stuart novels. Do you have any you’d like to recommend to me? Let me know in the comments!

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Unexpected Favourites

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I’ve been thinking a lot about books I’ve marked as favourites and why I love them so much, and a few books popped out at me as selections that I didn’t necessarily expect to love but did. I love those types of books that creep up on you in the best way, and here are a few of the biggest surprises.

1.

Blankets by Craig Thompson

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Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith. – from Goodreads.com

Before reading Blankets, I’d never really read a graphic novel before and certainly not one of that size. (The book comes in at just under 600 pages!) But I absolutely gobbled this story up and loved every minute of it. I would definitely consider reading more Craig Thompson books and I’d like to branch out in my graphic novel exploration and read more of the genre too.

2.

Flowers in the Attic by VC Andrews

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It wasn’t that she didn’t love her children. She did. But there was a fortune at stake–a fortune that would assure their later happiness if she could keep the children a secret from her dying father. So she and her mother hid her darlings away in an unused attic. Just for a little while… – from Goodreads.com

I was guided to read this book for my dissertation but quickly fell in love with the story and read all of the books in the series. This book, at the time, wasn’t something I was particularly interested in but the gothic tone and style of writing really drew me in. It’s such a shame that Virginia didn’t write more books before her untimely death, as her ghostwriter isn’t quite up to the standard that Andrews set out.

3.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

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The spirit of fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon describes her murder, her surprise at her new home in heaven, and her witness to her family’s grief, efforts to find the killer, and attempts to come to terms with what has happened. – from Goodreads.com

The Lovely Bones has such a unique style of writing that I wondered whether I would take to it, but really I didn’t need to worry. The Lovely Bones swept me up and before I knew it I had finished it. I did absolutely love it and I’ve gone onto read Lucky, which is Alice Sebold’s memoir, and I adored that too. On my TBR, I have her latest book, The Almost Moon, which I can’t wait to read!

So that concludes a few of my unexpected favourites. I’m sure this blog post will be one of many, as the books I read quite often surprise me! Do you have any unexpected favourites? Has my list of glowing reviews made you add these books to your TBR? Let me know in the comments!

Mary, Queen of Scots in Edinburgh

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My trip to Edinburgh in October 2016 was one of my favourite holidays I’ve been on so far. My friends Brendan, Dan and I spent a week in the Scottish capital and had so much fun looking around the city. There was plenty to do for Harry Potter fans but I also wanted to look at the Mary, Queen of Scots sites, as I’m also a huge fan of her era of history. For those of you who also are thinking of travelling to Edinburgh to see the sites of Mary, Queen of Scots, here is my round-up of places to visit.

1.

John Knox House, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh

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(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

One of Mary’s greatest rivals was Protestant minister, who famously opposed Mary’s rule in Scotland, not only because she was a Catholic but also because she was a woman. The house itself tells the story of Knox’s life as you go through the museum, and you have the added knowledge that Knox also lived there for a period of his life. The biggest highlight is the ceiling in his bedroom, which is original.

2.

Holyrood Palace, Horse Wynd, Edinburgh

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(c) Dan Luxton

When Mary returned to Scotland after spending time at French court with her then-husband Francis II of France, she took to Holyrood Palace and married again, this time to her cousin, Henry, Lord Darnley, who also had a claim to the English throne. At Holyrood, you are able to see the chairs which Mary and Darnley sat, their beds and chambers. You can also see the spot where David Rizzio was murdered, which still has a shade of blood-red on the floorboards.

3.

Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh

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(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

Edinburgh Castle is where Mary gave birth to her son James VI, fathered by Darnley. In the castle, you can see Mary’s apartments and the side room where she actually gave birth. You can also see the Scottish crown jewels which are held in the castle. Like most historical landmarks, the castle is open to the public and is a popular tourist attraction.

4.

Linlithgow Castle, Kirkgate, Linlithgow

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(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

Linlithgow is only half an hour from Edinburgh and was where Mary, Queen of Scots was born to James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise. At aged six days old she succeeded her father and became Queen of Scotland. Now, Linlithgow is virtually in ruins. The windows are open to the wind and when we visited the palace had extensive repairs being done to the exterior to keep it open to the public. In the grounds of the castle, there is a statue of Mary to commemorate this area in her history.

Are you fans of Mary, Queen of Scots? Do you want to visit the historical sites of Scotland? Let me know in the comments!

Series I Need to Finish

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When thinking about bookish resolutions, I always consider the series that I need to finish up. Quite often I’ll power through a series, but occasionally I’ll be delayed in picking up sequels for whatever reason. Maybe my tastes change, maybe the next book hasn’t been released yet. Whatever the reason, I’m making a comprehensive list of books I need to crack on with!

These books are in no particular order.

1.

The Study Series by Maria V Snyder

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About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. – from Goodreads.com

I read the first book in the series, Poison Study, last year and only yesterday did I finish the second book in the series, Magic Study. I need to get reading the third book in the series, Fire Study, pronto! There are lots of companion books to Yelena’s journey that all come under the title of The Chronicles of Ixia, so hopefully, I’ll get around to reading those too!

2.

The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon

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In 1945, Claire Randall is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon in Scotland. Innocently she walks through a stone circle in the Highlands and finds herself in a violent skirmish taking place in 1743. Suddenly she is a Sassenach, an outlander, in a country torn by war and by clan feuds. – from Goodreads.com

In 2017, I read both Cross Stitch/Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber, both of which I enjoyed. The Outlander series is actually compromised of eight books in total, and whether I’ll end up reading all eight of them, I don’t know, but I’m certainly enjoying where the series is at, at the moment.

3.

The Tudor Court Series by Philippa Gregory

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Thus, bestselling author Philippa Gregory introduces one of her most unforgettable heroines: Katherine of Aragon. Known to history as the Queen who was pushed off her throne by Anne Boleyn, here is a Katherine the world has forgotten: the enchanting princess that all England loved. – from Goodreads.com

The Tudor Court series begins with The Constant Princess and continues with The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance, all of which I read in 2017. I’m currently reading The Taming of the Queen, which concludes Henry VIII’s wives with Katherine Parr. These books thrive on the scandal that drove the Tudor court, and I absolutely love the excitement of the novels that keep the Tudors as some of the most notorious historical figures in British history.

So these conclude the series I need to continue reading in 2018. Have you read any of these books? Or finished any of these series? Let me know in the comments!

Top 10 Films of 2017

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2017 was a big year for film, and I had so many movies on my most anticipated list that I’d planned to watch. Thanks to having a Cineworld card, I saw SO many of those films and more so now I’m going to count down my favourites of the year.

10.

Murder on the Orient Express

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When a murder occurs on the train he’s travelling on, celebrated detective Hercule Poirot is recruited to solve the case. – from IMDb

A lot of Poirot Purists weren’t fans of Kenneth Branagh’s latest adaptation of Agatha Christie’s mystery, Murder on the Orient Express. I, personally, happened to really enjoy seeing Johnny Depp stabbed twelve times, especially by a handful of women, so I rated it quite highly. I did, however, agree that Branagh’s Lorax-style moustache was a bit much.

9.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe. – from IMDb

What’s not to love? A slick science fiction film that aims to entertain and, in my case, succeeds. I can’t comment on whether it was loyal to the original source material, but I did enjoy watching it. Again, another film that didn’t seem to be very popular, except with yours truly.

8.

The Greatest Showman

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Inspired by the imagination of P.T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation. – from IMDb

Again, another thoroughly entertaining film that captures the hearts of the audience and pulls you along for the ride. The musical numbers are electric and toe-tapping, and the team of Circus “Freaks” are inspiring to watch and listen to. A really great, family friendly film.

7.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

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The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. – from IMDb

Another slick sci-fi flick that hauls you along for the ride, exciting you from beginning to end. Slightly soap opera-y in places, but the drama and drive of this movie has projected it into my top ten. I can’t wait for volume three to come out! (Spoiler alert: this isn’t the last Marvel movie on my wrap up!)

6.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order. – from IMDb

I think 2017 has been the year for sci-fi films! I’ve seen so many amazing ones that have really entertained me, and The Last Jedi is no different. Again, lots of hardcore Star Wars fans didn’t like the newest instalment of the series, but I loved it!

5.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

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Peter Parker balances his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens with his superhero alter-ego Spider-Man and finds himself on the trail of a new menace prowling the skies of New York City. – from IMDb

To be honest, when I first heard they were remaking Spider-Man AGAIN, I was worried. We’ve already had Peter Parker’s origin story made twice, but then us Marvel fans discovered that the newest instalment in MCU was to continue with the incarnations of Spider-Man we had already seen. Thank goodness for that! And it was a bloody grand effort if you ask me. Funny, charming and witty, there was nothing I didn’t love about this coming of age tale!

4.

Beauty and the Beast

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An adaptation of the fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince and a young woman who fall in love. – from IMDb

Another film that I was sceptical about at first, because I love the original so much, but of course I was pleasantly surprised. The remake was true to the original and had a great cast, and included all the songs we loved. It didn’t try to make it better, it just tried to honour an already brilliant film, in the same way you’d celebrate an anniversary.

3.

Call Me By Your Name

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In Northern Italy in 1983, seventeen-year-old Elio begins a relationship with visiting Oliver, his father’s research assistant, with whom he bonds over his emerging sexuality, their Jewish heritage, and the beguiling Italian landscape. – from IMDb

This film was beautifully written, beautifully shot and beautifully acted, and all in all was downright BEAUTIFUL. That’s the only way I can describe this film. This film wasn’t on my radar at all, but because my sister wanted to go and see it, and asked me along with her, I went and thoroughly enjoyed myself!

2.

Paddington 2

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Paddington is happily settled with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens, where he has become a popular member of the community, spreading joy and marmalade wherever he goes. While searching for the perfect present for his beloved Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, Paddington spots a unique pop-up book in Mr Gruber’s antique shop and embarks upon a series of odd jobs to buy it. But when the book is stolen, it’s up to Paddington and the Browns to unmask the thief. – from IMDb

When Paddington 2 was released, I heard rumours that it was even better than the first one… a rumour I can confirm is true! This film made me laugh, made me cry, gave me heartache and stitch all in one afternoon. It was beautiful. The Paddington movies continue to charm and shows that everyone is different and so everyone is welcome.

Drum roll, please…

1.

Thor: Ragnarok

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Imprisoned, the mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization. – from IMDb

I liked the first Thor movie… I didn’t like the second… but the third I LOVED! The comedy, the pace, the story, Hemsworth and Hiddleston are a duo like no other. Thor Ragnarok was by far my most favourite film of 2017. Bring on Infinity War!

So, this concludes my top ten list of films from 2017. Are there any on this list that you loved? Or do you disagree with my rankings? Let me know in the comments!

Top 10 Books of 2017 (2&1)

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And so we’ve made it! The past few days I’ve been counting down my favourite books of 2017 and now we’ve come to the last two books on my list. Number two and my all time favourite of the year! Without further ado, let’s get cracking!

2.

Wires and Nerve, Vol 1 by Marissa Meyer

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When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. – from Goodreads.com

Last year, Winter and The Lunar Chronicles was my number one book of 2016, and this graphic novel was also at the top spot if it wasn’t for a certain book that was published in October (you’ll see who in a minute!). I absolutely love this series and to have a graphic novel sequel/companion that I LOVED too was just the icing on the cake.

Drum roll, please…

1.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

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It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward. Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. – from Goodreads.com

Surprise, surprise! John Green’s latest venture into the world of YA tops my book list of 2017. John Green is one of my favourite authors who I’ve been reading for years! It’s been such a long time since Green published a book, five years to be exact, and so when he announced a new book my excitement went through the roof! It’s safe to say I wasn’t disappointed. Green’s new book is own-voices as he struggles with OCD and translated his experiences into Turtles All the Way Down, showcasing what it’s like to live with OCD through Aza’s story. It was so inspirational, so moving and raw. A definite recommendation for those who like contemporary YA.

So that wraps up my top ten books of 2017! I hope you’ve enjoyed my countdown, and let me know in the comments if any of these books were on your top ten too!

Top 10 Books of 2017 (4&3)

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We are almost at the end of my 2017 best books countdown! If you haven’t been following my previous blog posts, I am posting every day with two books from my top ten of 2017. Now, we are well within the top five now so here are with numbers four and three.

4.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs. – from Goodreads.com

I started reading this in tandem with the Hulu series that also came out this year. It was such a great TV show and I absolutely adored the book too. It’s definitely up there with my favourite modern classics! It’s quite scary to think that one day this could be our society, and Atwood definitely has seen something in our future and brought it to light. Now we must do all we can to prevent it and make better lives for ourselves and others. Let’s consider this a warning, as all good dystopian books are.

3.

Cross Stitch (Outlander) by Diana Gabaldon

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(Honourable mention to Dragonfly in Amber, also by Diana Gabaldon)

In 1945, Claire Randall is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon in Scotland. Innocently she walks through a stone circle in the Highlands and finds herself in a violent skirmish taking place in 1743. Suddenly she is a Sassenach, an outlander, in a country torn by war and by clan feuds. A wartime nurse, Claire can deal with the bloody wounds that face her. But it is harder to deal with the knowledge that she is in Jacobite Scotland and the carnage of Culloden is looming. – from Goodreads.com

I began watching the TV show and knew immediately I had to stop and read the book. It was a story so captivating and beautifully set that I knew I must read it immediately. I wasn’t disappointed! I adored Outlander/Cross Stitch and went on to read Dragonfly in Amber, the second book in the series, which I enjoyed, although it was not to the standard of Cross Stitch in my opinion. I then went back to watching season one and two.

Tomorrow, I’ll be concluding my top best books from 2017 with numbers one and two on my list.