Book Review: The Queen’s Rival (In The Court of Henry VIII #3) by Diane Haeger

From the author of The Queen’s Mistake comes the untold story of King Henry VIII’s first well-known mistress.

As the beautiful daughter of courtiers, Elizabeth “Bessie” Blount is overjoyed when she secures a position as maid of honor to Katherine of Aragon. But when she captures the attention of the king himself, there are whispers that the queen ought to be worried for her throne.

When Bess gives birth to a healthy son the whispers become a roar. But soon the infamous Boleyn girls come to court and Henry’s love for her begins to fade. Now, Bess must turn to her trusted friend, the illegitimate son of Cardinal Wolsey, to help her move beyond life as the queen’s rival..

Anyone who knows even a small amount about the Tudor court has heard of Bess Blount and her Son to the King Henry Fitzroy, but do you know the whole story? In almost every Tudor era book I Have read they start with the Anne Boleyn era and graze over Bess Blount, so I was so excited to finally have a book that told more of her story. Yes it is fiction but oh it is so good.

Diane Haeger brings Bess to life as a vibrant fresh faced girl who truly loved the King, not just because he was the King but for the man that he was. It shows that unlike many who shared the King’s bed she did not think about what it would get her but how she loved him. More then that it shows the love that Gil had for her, even while she loved the King. This is a true story of love and desire and how it can change and grow over the years. I love the way the characters have been painted in this book. Flawed humans who are doing the best that they can through the situations they have been given. Henry in this book seems to know how flawed he is, that he uses those women in his life and how he has to harden his heart at times. The hard lines we have come to know Henry VIII for are softened some when you look at him through the loving eyes of Bess, even after he breaks her heart and takes their Son to court.

The way that Diane Haeger brings this court to life is quickly becoming one of my favorite to read. If you want to jump into the life of Tudor court through the eyes of a calm, gentle loving country girl like Bess this is going to be one for you. We may know the basics of the story but after reading this (fiction or not) I truly feel connected and as if I now know Bess better.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Book Review: The Lady of Secrets (The Dark Queen Saga #6) by Susan Carroll

The Lady of Secrets (The Dark Queen Saga #6) by Susan Carroll:

Meg Wolfe, The Lady of Faire Isle, is a gifted healer who can find a cure for almost any ailment. But she’s also the daughter of Cassandra Claire, a mad witch and heretic with a notorious history.

Meg’s infamous lineage makes her a target from both those who want to use her extraordinary talents for good and those who want to use them for evil.

One man in particular needs her special skills: to execute his revenge on a king. History and a kingdom hang in the balance as Meg tries to navigate the delicate line between right and wrong. And what she discovers is that she can no longer trust anyone or anything…not even her own heart.

I have long loved reading the stories in the Dark Queen Saga that Susan Carroll has created. The story that delves deeper into the story of Meg the new Lady of the isle is no different. For me the book started out a little bit slow but once it picked up I could not set it down. I am slightly baffled and slightly annoyed by some reviews I have come across on the internet when folks have said this was the first book by this author they have read and rated it down because they did not understand some of the past references, well it clearly states it is part of a series if you haven’t read the rest don’t judge the book because of that (end rant sorry about that!)

Once again we are treated to sweeping landscapes and we get a treat this time for much of the time is spend in England. I love this era and England, and Meg has a lot of things to overcome. Danger meets her at almost every turn and of course where she least expects to find it she finds some love. If you want a solid series with danger, love and a touch of magic this is one that you will enjoy. I am so happy that Meg got her happy ending, she deserved it after the tough childhood she had and then the loss of her Father. Some characters will always touch close to your heart for me Meg is one of them and the fierce Seraphine as well how could I forget her. She is loyal and brash and she finds her happiness again too after a lot of bitter loss. I hope we get another book in this series because I want to spend more time with my old friends.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley

It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.

For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

I really wanted to like The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. It was chosen as the March reading for a book group that I plan to join I wanted to like this book so we could have good chats about it. Alas, I just could not get into this book very well. The girl who is the main character Flavia she is just, I can’t like her. I don’t mind precocious children at all but this goes above and beyond. The writing style of it all being from her point of view, it is just a little to much for me.

The book is not bad so much as it is just a bit to much for me. Ah well what can you do right? It was not a total waste of time but I think I am going to stick with Sherlock Holmes when I want smart crime solvers.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Book Review: The Obituary Society by Jessica L. Randall

When Lila Moore inherits her grandfather’s house, she finds herself in a small Midwestern town where margarine is never an acceptable substitution for butter, a coveted family recipe can serve as currency, and the friend who will take your darkest secrets to the grave will still never give you the secret to her prize-winning begonias.

Lila is charmed by the people of Auburn, from the blue-eyed lawyer with the southern drawl to the little old lady who unceasingly tries to set Lila up with her grandson. But when strange things begin to happen, Lila realizes some of her new friends are guarding a secret like it’s a precious family heirloom. It’s a dangerous secret, and it has come back to haunt them. Lila is caught in the middle, and her life may depend on uncovering it. But even if she can, can she stay in Auburn when not everyone is what they seem, and even the house wants her gone?

The Obituary Society was an interesting book and seemed to be a little bit of everything blended into one book for me that did not work but the book was still enjoyable. There were several times I just wanted to reach out and smack some of the towns people throughout the book. However, there were some I enjoyed.

Overall this book was not a bad read it just did not overly tickle my fancy and won’t be one that I probably remember for long. Lila is a fun character and the book is fairly well written so I think it would appeal to other readers without an issue. Wish I could say a little more but this book was just kind of..meh for me.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Book Review: Habibi by Craig Thompson

Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern industrial clutter, Habibi tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them. We follow them as their lives unfold together and apart; as they struggle to make a place for themselves in a world (not unlike our own) fueled by fear, lust, and greed; and as they discover the extraordinary depth — and frailty — of their connection.

At once contemporary and timeless, Habibi gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling

This one was the assigned read for my book club this month and I wish I had liked it better. The subject matter was pretty tense for a lot of it but overall I just felt kind of “meh” about the book. Maybe it is just because I am not a graphic novel reader?

The drawing and images were well done and you could really see the beauty in it but for me the story was just kind of meh. I think a lot of the Orientalist things brought about in this novel are what set me to not enjoying that much. I struggled a little but the beauty in the drawings can’t be missed either so 3 gemstones for this one mostly because of the beauty of the art.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Book Review: Narcissus in Chains (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #10) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Hamilton’s vampire-hunting Anita Blake faces a plethora of foes in her tenth outing. Just returned to St. Louis after six months away, Anita is still no closer to choosing between her lovers–Jean-Claude, a vampire, and Richard, a werewolf. But she has to rely on both for help after two of the wereleopards that she has been watching are abducted at a seedy club called Narcissus in Chains. Anita and her boyfriends rescue the wereleopards from the sinister people holding them, but Anita is wounded in the fight and put at risk of becoming a wereleopard herself. Richard angrily captures the wereleopard he believes is responsible and threatens to execute him. Anita must now rescue that wereleopard from Richard and the werewolves he leads, even as she mourns the apparent end of her relationship with him. Then she realizes that those who kidnapped the first two wereleopards are targeting other lycanthropes. Maybe she will be next. With plenty of steamy sex and graphic violence, this is engaging reading for vampire cultists.

Alright, I love this series. I have loved that Anita is a kick ass and ask question later kind of girl. I love that she doesn’t give into things easily and she is her own woman. With that said this has so far been my least favorite book in the series. It is not the sex, I have not issues with sex scenes in books. It is how much is going on, how much Anita seems to have no control and some of the reasons for the sex and how the scenes are.

Honestly there does not seem to be a whole lot of plot to this book, there are some bad guys and they are attacking as usual but the bulk of the book is spent fighting the Ardour. Having sex with people or close to sex with people, my least favorite is Micha. Anita was for all purposes raped. She said no. No many times and never actually said yes and they had sex anyways. I mean seriously? COME ON. Just seems very not Anita like to me. Richard needs to just be kicked in the face I am tired of his complaining. Who stands out for me as someone who grew in the right direction in this book? Nathaniel. He seems to be starting to get some back bone and be a bit of a man. Good for him.

Bottom line is I don’t hate the book but it was not my favorite at all either.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Book Review: Changes (The Dresden Files #12) by Jim Butcher

In Changes (The Dresden Files #12) by Jim Butcher we are reminded that Long ago, Susan Rodriguez was Harry Dresden’s lover—until she was attacked by his enemies, leaving her torn between her own humanity and the bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. Susan then disappeared to South America, where she could fight both her savage gift and those who cursed her with it.

Now Arianna Ortega, Duchess of the Red Court, has discovered a secret Susan has long kept, and she plans to use it—against Harry. To prevail this time, he may have no choice but to embrace the raging fury of his own untapped dark power. Because Harry’s not fighting to save the world…

He’s fighting to save his child.

Holy crap Harry has a kid. Holy crap Harry has a kid. Is what went through my head from the moment that we find out that Harry has a kid. I mean seriously, holy crap. From there I can honestly say I enjoyed the book. Harry has to make a lot of tough choices in this book and while I won’t give it away by saying what all those choices are but trust me in this they are big. This is perhaps the biggest adventure yet for Harry and what he has to take on to get his child back.

The ending will rip your heart out it surely did mine but it had its good spots too. The world of Harry is getting darker by the chapter and pretty soon I would say something has to give. The question is what will it be? Another solid installment of the series, Jim Butcher keeps on giving.

My Gemstone Rating:

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