Tag Archives: Philippa Gregory

Book Review: “The Red Queen”

This month’s reading theme, “Month of Women,” has been exceptionally interesting, and introduced me to a lot of new female authors, books, and characters. The idea was, in honor of National Women’s Month, to read books for women, by women, about women. This week, I read Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction novel, The Red Queen.

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The Red Queen is the second in Gregory’s “The Cousin’s War” series, which follow characters throughout the infamous Cousin’s War in England in the Middle Ages. We read the first book, The White Queen, in January, and it was one of my favorite books of the challenge. The Red Queen had a lot to live up to, in my opinion, but Gregory hit a home run with her second book in the series! Where The White Queen followed the York queen Elizabeth Woodville, The Red Queen followed the founding mother of the opposing family, the Lancasters. Born as a cousin to the King of England, Margaret Beaufort was raised as a pious, regal young woman. She was forced married to a Tudor, and at the ripe old age of 13 birthed her only child, Henry Tudor, who would become heir to the throne of England. With usurpers and decades of battle, Margaret grows from a young mother dedicated to her “true king,” to a queen mother on the warpath to win her son the throne.

The Red Queen is absolutely fascinating. Margaret is a really powerful female lead, and one can’t help but allow their heart to go out to the woman who faces every misfortune on her rise to power. Unlike Elizabeth in The White Queenwho lives a rather fortunate life on her way to power, and needs to face a downfall, Margaret takes the opposite journey – struggling and desperate on her rise to power (or her son’s power), and finally successful later in her life. Gregory weaves a very successful and exceptionally interesting story, allowing readers to related to the character, feel for her disappointments, and enjoy her successes.

I found myself a bit distracted when reading this novel, trying to match up the timeline to that of Elizabeth’s story in The White Queen. Their stories run parallel to one another, and I feel like I can better understand parts of Elizabeth’s story by understanding Margaret’s. These novels tie together so neatly. Gregory’s historical edge is captivating. I am a fan of historical fiction, and her novels remind me of why. While reading her novels, I feel inspired to research the era and the families more completely. Elizabeth and Margaret are the grandmothers of the infamous king, Henry VIII, and great grandmothers to Elizabeth I. Margaret was the matriarch of the famous Tudor dynasty. I love that I learn while reading these novels, and I can’t wait to pick up the next one.

We’ve read the first of a few series during this book challenge, but this is the only time we’ve picked up a second book from a series. There is a reason – I have really enjoyed these novels, and find myself thinking about them well after they’re done (I even had a dream that I was watching the final battle of The Red Queen take place), and inspired to learn more.

So how about you? Did you read along? Have you read The White Queen or The Red Queen? Are you a Gregory fan? Share your thoughts about this novel!

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Week 30 Reading: “The Red Queen”

Wow! I can’t believe we’re onto our 30th book in the challenge! Even if you’re only reading along periodically, or simply collecting recommendations for future reading, I thank you for taking part in this reading adventure! This week we’re keeping with our “Month of Women” theme (book for women, by women, about women), and picking up Philippa Gregory’s The Red Queen.

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The Red Queen is the second in Gregory’s The Cousin’s War series. We read the first book back in January (see: Book Review: “The White Queen”). If you haven’t read that one yet, I recommend you pick it up and catch up with the story before picking up The Red Queen

I have been looking forward to this book since I finished The White Queen in January!! Gregory has a way with storytelling, and infuses just the right amount of mystery, history, and magic in her historical fiction series. I hope The Red Queen continues on the path of excellence Gregory started with her first novel in the series! This novel follows the same story line told through a different point of view, and I just can’t wait to crack it open and get more of this series!

I hope you’ll join me this week! Remember, at the end of the week, you are encouraged to share your thoughts, arguments, criticism, or giddy feelings about any of the readings (and if you hate my opinions, you are free to let me know). We’re going for a “book club” atmosphere, and I hope you’ll join in the fun!

Happy Reading!

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Book Review: “The White Queen”

Well, normally I take the whole week to read a book, but this week I had a few things working in my favor. Firstly, I’m still on school break (until Monday, when “The Aurthurian Legend” class begins); secondly, my husband is finally back at work – meaning I’m back into a daily routine of housework, schoolwork (with the pre-K munchkins), and downtime (from having no homework to do). Add that to a book I had a hard time putting down, and the book got finished very quickly.

This week’s reading was the first of our “New” reading of January (note: this book is “new to me”), The White Queen by Philippa Gregory.

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What a great book! I have never read a book by Gregory, and I am so pleased I picked this one up – and am fully inspired to pick up another of her novels. The White Queen follows one of England’s most fascinating monarchs – Elizabeth Woodville – in one of England’s most trying times – The Cousin’s War of the late 15th Century. Elizabeth, a commoner who captures the heart of a usurper king on his ascent to power, helps shape a country in trouble, and forever changes the face of the Royal Family.

I loved this read! I had a really hard time putting it down (just as my husband, who had to suffer through the light being on in our bedroom until midnight). Gregory has a very strong voice, and tells a fascinating story through the eyes of Elizabeth, a passionate lover, powerful queen, desperate mother, and “daughter” of a legendary water goddess. Readers follow Elizabeth through her secret marriage, the ebb and flow of her rule, and her many heartaches over the 20+ years this story covers.

Gregory certainly did her historical research when preparing for this book! Her “Author’s Notes” are just as interesting as the story, and outline her research process and how she pieced her story together. She throws in a delicate balance of fact, fiction, mystery, and magic – a cocktail for a successful, intriguing, and inspiring story. While reading the book, I found myself putting it down, opening up my laptop, and researching the Cousin’s War, and Elizabeth’s family. I realized I had no idea how little I knew about the monarchs of Renaissance England. Elizabeth was grandmother to the infamous Henry VIII, great-grandmother to the “Virgin Queen,” Queen Elizabeth I, and grandmother to the scandalous “9 Day Queen,” Lady Jane Grey (her grandmother through her son, Thomas Grey, from her first marriage).

Gregory helped me pinpoint exactly what it is I love about historical fiction – the opportunity to learn the facts and legends surrounding people and times I know very little about. Historical fiction inspires me to learn more about history, and allows me to do that in a way that is more exciting and interesting than simply reading a text book. To feel a connection with the characters, and to history, is, in my opinion, the sign of a well written piece of literature.

The book started a little slowly, and seemed to be more of a glorified romance novel, following the standard structure of the genre (which you know I’m not a huge fan of)- unhappy, desperate widow meets a rising king with a reputation for enjoying the ladies… she tries to resist him, but she can’t… and he can’t resist loving her, despite her being stations below him… blah, blah, blah. I couldn’t help rolling my eyes and thinking “this is just a 408 page romance.” I’m glad I kept reading, because the story became much more interesting once Elizabeth becomes the “White Queen,” and raises herself, and her family, to power. I wish the beginning of the book didn’t seem like the stereotypical romance novel, but I can easily forgive Gregory when the rest of her novel turns out to be exceptionally interesting.

The White Queen is a great piece of historical fiction, and contains a little something for everyone – a glimpse at the monarchs of the Renaissance for the historian, a beautiful love story for the romantic, terrifying battles for the warrior, magic for the fantasy fans, and a great female lead who will open your heart to her family and her country. I can’t wait to pass this beautiful book on to a friend or loved one, who can enjoy it as much as I have.

Your turn. Did you enjoy The White Queen? Have you read any of Gregory’s books (and if you did, do you have any recommendations for me)? What did you think about Elizabeth Woodville (York), the White Queen? Was she brave in the face of adversity, or was she power hungry?!

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Week 19 Reading: “The White Queen”

January’s reading theme is “New,” and this week we are picking up a book that is “new to me” – The White Queen by Philippa Gregory.

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Okay, this book isn’t technically “new,” but before you point the accusatory finger, the book is exceptionally new to me. My sister received it as a gift on Christmas morning, and having already read it, she immediately handed it to me so I could read it for my book challenge. So the book is brand-spanking-new – and there are few things I love more than cracking a book open for the first time… feeling the binding bend and that glue snap a little… carefully removing the cover because there’s nothing worse than a wrinkled book cover (YES – I know it’s meant to protect the book, but in my opinion it is meant to look pretty on the shelves!). But I digress…

I have heard a lot of great things about The White Queen. It has been recommended to me by my sister and my friend Dee (Hi Tanya, Hi Dee!). It has also been made into a TV show this past year, and gotten rave reviews (I’ll have to look for it after I read the book). Lastly, it is written by the same author who wrote another wonderful piece of regency historical fiction, The Other Boleyn Girl

I’m really looking forward to this week’s reading! I’m a huge historical fiction fan, and I always love a good, strong female lead! I hope you’ll read along with me, and kick off the new year with a great new book!

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New Year, New Reading List

Happy New Year, my friends! It’s hard to believe it’s already 2014 – I feel exceptionally old! I know I missed my initial post for this week’s reading, but my little bug came back, and I’ve been battling what I think to be The Dreaded Flu for the last week. This week we are reading I am Regina by Sally M. Keehn, which is technically a children’s book.

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I picked it anyway, because it is a beautiful piece of historical fiction about a young girl kidnapped by Native Americans in the late 18th Century American wilderness. That, and I haven’t read a youth fiction for his book challenge, yet! But more on that this weekend!

It’s time for the reveal of the January reading list. In honor of the New Year, the theme for January reading is “New.” I think I’ve assembled a pretty interesting group of books that will inspire us to keeping up with this reading challenge this month, and for the rest of 2014!

Jan. 5 – 11 – The White Queen – Philippa Gregory

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Okay, so this book isn’t technically (or in any way) “new,” having been published in 2009. But it is “new to me.” My sister actually got it as a Christmas present from our mother, but as she has already read it, she passed it on to me for a quick read before returning it to her ever expanding bookshelves (a girl after my own heart). I’m very excited to read this book, as I’ve heard wonderful things about it, and it was actually recommended to me by my friend Dee (hi, Dee!) back when I started my blog. With great reviews from my sister, I decided it was time to open this brand-spanking-new book, and give it a shot. It should prove to be a wonder work of historical fiction (my favorite, as I’m sure you know by now), and I always love a good, strong female lead.

 

Jan. 12 – 18 – How to Kill a Rock Star – Tiffanie DeBartolo

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I’m SO EXCITED to finally crack this book open. I actually won this book in an online drawing (I never win ANYTHING!), from an awesome book blog I follow, called The Book Bosses (thanks ladies!)… if you haven’t been to their site, you should check them out! This book actually came to me personally signed by the author (which makes it extra awesome!). When I opened it up, my friend Anna was with me and snatched it right out of my hands, singing DeBartolo’s praises for another novel she had written. With such praise for the author, I know this one will be a winner as well, and I can’t wait to dive in. The story is a contemporary romance (“contemporary” = new… and it is “new to me”), and while we all know I’m not a HUGE fan of romance novels, this one looks pretty promising!

 

Jan. 19 – 25 – Hero – Rhonda Byrne

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This book falls under the “new” requirements in two ways: it is the newest in the The Secret series (and was published in November of 2013), and is a New Age book. If you know nothing about The Secret, the books (Hero being #4) are about the power of the mind, and how self-affirmation can truly change your life. If you have Netflix (or YouTube), watch the documentary entitled The Secret to learn more about the power of suggestion! This book expands on The Secret, exploring how we can all be our truest selves and live our most fulfilling lives – simply by being our own heroes. This one might also inspire some New Years Resolutions, and help us all have a super successful 2014. I hope you’ll read along with me for this one!

 

Jan. 26 – Feb. 1 – Celtic Moon – Jan DeLima

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I’ll be honest – I picked up this book because I was struggling to pick a fourth book for the “New” theme for the month. I walked into the book store, walked over to the Sci-Fi section (in an attempt to put a different genre into our reading this month), and saw a “New in Science Fiction” section. On those shelves, I found Celtic Moon. The book was published in September, making it relatively new, and is the first in a series, called the Celtic Wolf series, so I thought that would count as “new” as well! I usually wouldn’t look toward this book, generally avoiding paperback sci-fi (and most sci-fi in general… I like the shows and the movies, not usually the books), but this is the whole point of the book challenge – pick up books I wouldn’t have read before.

So there it is – our reading list for January and our “New” theme for the month. I hope you’ll pick one (or more) to read along with me, and start off your 2014 reading list with something good! I look forward to some engaging discussions about these books, as I promote a “book club” type of atmosphere. Remember, I not only encourage, but LOVE, comments and reviews from my fellow readers! This blog isn’t about me telling you what I think, it’s about inspiring you to read (and inspiring me to stop being a Netflix addict and read more!), and talk about books!

I hope you all have a healthy, prosperous New Year! Happy Reading!

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