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Ambrosia's bookshelf: currently-reading

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine
tagged: currently-reading
At the King's Pleasure
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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Ambrosia has read 1 book toward her goal of 26 books.
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Posted by on October 14, 2017

This is the story of the making of England in the 9th and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred the Great, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.

The story is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, a dispossessed nobleman, who is captured as a child by the Danes and then raised by them so that, by the time the Northmen begin their assault on Wessex (Alfred’s kingdom and the last territory in English hands) Uhtred almost thinks of himself as a Dane. He certainly has no love for Alfred, whom he considers a pious weakling and no match for Viking savagery, yet when Alfred unexpectedly defeats the Danes and the Danes themselves turn on Uhtred, he is finally forced to choose sides. By now he is a young man, in love, trained to fight and ready to take his place in the dreaded shield wall. Above all, though, he wishes to recover his father’s land, the enchanting fort of Bebbanburg by the wild northern sea.

This thrilling adventure—based on existing records of Bernard Cornwell’s ancestors—depicts a time when law and order were ripped violently apart by a pagan assault on Christian England, an assault that came very close to destroying England.

Full disclousure this series will make you want to watch the netflix series based on the books and you will get to see…this guy (yup excuse to use this gift again LOL sorry not sorry.)

Bernard Cornwell is an amazing author and I find that his stories are so rich and textured and layered. These are really books you can sink your teeth into. Better yet most of his works are part of a series so you get to spend a lot of time with the characters you enjoy. This is the first of the Saxon Series and you get to dive into a crazy world. England was just starting to be forged into what we know it as today and watching the transformation unfold while following these characters around is truly enjoyable.

Uhtred is such a fantastic character you can’t help but feel drawn to him. Even before seeing him brought to life on the screen he is the type of character you can see in your mind because he just jumps off the page. He is so charismatic and unique as a character. Born a Saxon but raised a Dane it really just makes a unique man with a different look on the world.

He is not a perfect man by any means, he is flawed and he makes bad choices and he admits to them. That is what makes him so fantastic though, you get to see his flaws and yet see him still be a hero. It is easy to like a character that is just a hero and always seems to make the perfect choices. It is harder to look past flaws, things we might not chose to do ourselves and still see a character as a hero.

If you like history, intrigue and just a plain good read I would recommend giving this one a try. It isn’t a fast read, but it is a really good read.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on January 12, 2017

Penniless and disgraced, Adelaide Wentworth is feeling rather desperate. With nothing left to lose, she and her sister, Louisa, flee to Lake Geneva with Adelaide’s lover, the infamous poet Julian Estes. There, Louisa hopes to persuade Bayard Sonnier—celebrated writer and her former lover—to advance Julian’s career. He is their last hope for salvation.

At the Villa Diodati—the place that inspired the writing of Frankenstein sixty years earlier—Louisa plots to rekindle her affair with Bayard, while Adelaide hopes to restore her fading love for Julian by being the muse he needs.

But soon, secrets are revealed, passions ignited, and hidden talents discovered. Adelaide begins to imagine a different life. Confused, she turns to Giovanni Calina—Bayard’s assistant and a man with his own secrets and deep resentments—and the two form a dangerous alliance. No one leaves unscathed in this richly imagined, emotionally nuanced tale of passion, ambition, inspiration, and redemption.

I want to thank Net Galley and the publisher for allowing me to get an ARC of this book. I will admit that it was the cover which drew me in first, but the description kept me interested and the book and the book itself that made me keep reading.

This is one of the most unique books I have had a chance to read in a while and the tapestry of characters is rich and interesting. If you are a reader who is also very interested in writing and the entire process it has you are really going to enjoy a drop of ink because it is all about the process of writing and the characters who are writers while of course also giving you a nice dash of history and romance too. If you are looking for a happily ever after kind of romance this is not the book for you, I am just going to say that now without giving away any major spoilers.

The year is 1876 the place is Lake Geneva in Switzerland, at a Villa where famous writers Lord Byron and Mary & Percy Shelly stayed some 60 years ago. It was this Villa where Frankenstein and his Monster were born. There is a curious collection of characters gathered here this time as well, Bayard the famous writer, Giovanni his assistant who is trying to claw his way up the social ladder, Estes, who is, well, in my opinion a useless poet who likes his drug flask way t0o much and the Sisters Adelaide and the rather insane Louisa.

You get plotting and scheming and controversy and sometimes of course scandal. Overall, I really enjoyed the book it was fun and entertaining and the historical backdrop was nice. Other times I could not help but roll my eyes a little and sigh, some of the drama that Louisa caused was just over the top and Adelaide well she was not much less crazy at times then her sister. The fact that so many people didn’t really seem to notice all the drama was also a bit curious and yet those people had no problem showing up and surrounding the famous writer. The trope of the grumpy ole writer who hated being surrounded like that was probably my least favorite of the bunch. However, when it comes to complaints that is really a small one as far as things go.

This book really was one that I enjoyed a great deal. It had supernatural theories and fun playing along as well as humor, romance and history. I have always adored the idea of writing a book in the old way with a dip or fountain pen on parchment paper. So this one was bound to be a fun, enjoyment for me. The ending really was not overly satisfying for me, but it was realistic and I understand that sometimes realism has to win over the happily ever after.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on December 22, 2016

The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name.

Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009 at number seventeen because of the sometimes explicit content, particularly in terms of violence.

There are some books that you read in your life and they stay with you. There are some books that you read in your life and they change your life. For me one of those books was The Color Purple. Although I Have read it many times I have ever done a real review about it, I think now is the time. I first read this book when I was only in Junior High and perhaps that was a little early, but oh, it gave me such a view on the world. I hated that these characters and of course real people of this time had to go through these things. This is one of the books that really, truly turned me on to studying history, I wanted to learn more about the past so I could try and help and keep the past from repeating.

This book is emotional and it rips at your heart and there is a reason that it is a book that truly did change the world. It is full of fantastic colorful characters. I often find myself at a loss for words when saying how I feel about this book. I also enjoy the movie, I felt the movie really did justice to the book. However, the book itself just truly I have found it hard to say the right words. It changed me when I first read it and at times where I feel disconnected I often come back to it. I read it and I remind myself of the feeling that I had when I first read the book. Most of the time it can center me again, that is why I read it again this year in 2016.

The writing style is unique and I like the way that Alice Walker used poor grammar and short phrases among other things, to truly bring the characters to life. There are times that you feel as if they could leap off the page and you could talk directly to them. If you have not read this classic book I suggest that you do. It is life changing. However, although I read it when I was very young I would not recommend it be read before High School personally. I can look back now as an adult and see that I read a few very graphic books that I likely should not have at a young age. Luckily for me those books galvanized me into the person I am today, but it could have very easily traumatized me. Before anyone reading this thinks my parents were not supervising me enough, they watched over me carefully, but like any kid sometimes I was sneaky and naughty. Not only that but my parents tried not to stifle my reading choices because they encouraged me to read and to learn about these things. Events like what happened in The color Purple are events that happened in the world you can’t rosy color history sometimes. Much like being allowed to read Trinity by Leon Uris long before I should have (another very graphic and violent book) and yet today it is also one of my favorites and a book I feel had an impact on my life. History and event books were generally approved, romances, though well, tsk tsk none of those until I was of proper age!

I realize this review has turned into a bit of a ramble and a little off topic. I am sorry about that. The long and short of it, The Color Purple is, was and always will be to me a fantastic book. It is a book that I feel everyone should read before they die.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on September 21, 2015

Royaldecree

By Royal Decree (Secrets of the Tudor Court #3) by Kate Emerson:

AS TEMPESTUOUS AS THE TUDOR MONARCHS THEMSELVES, THE SECRETS OF THE TUDOR COURT SERIES HAS BEEN CALLED “RIVETING” (“BOOKLIST”) AND “WELL DRAWN” (“PUBLISHERS WEEKLY”).

Charming. Desirable. Forbidden. Brought to court with other eligible young noblewomen by the decree of King Henry VIII, lovely Elizabeth “Bess” Brooke realizes for the first time that beauty can be hazardous. Although Bess has no desire to wed the aging king, she and her family would have little choice if Henry’s eye were to fall on her. And other dangers exist as well, for Bess has caught the interest of dashing courtier Will Parr. Bess finds Will’s kisses as sweet as honey, but marriage between them may be impossible. Will is a divorced man, and remarriage is still prohibited. Bess and Will must hope that the king can be persuaded to issue a royal decree allowing Will to marry again . . . but to achieve their goal, the lovers will need royal favor. Amid the swirling alliances of royalty and nobles, Bess and Will perform a dangerous dance of palace intrigue and pulse-pounding passions.

Brought to glowing life by the talented Kate Emerson, and seen through the eyes of a beautiful young noblewoman, “By Royal Decree “illuminates the lives of beautiful young courtiers in and out of the rich and compelling drama of the Tudor court.

Another wonderful installment of the Tudor court books by Kate Emerson. I am behind on my reviews (life gets in the way sometimes) but I really did enjoy this book. Bess is an interesting character and one that I felt a connection with. She is a woman who wants something, but can’t have it due to the stubborn will of the aging and unstable King Henry.

I have always enjoyed spending time in the world of the Tudor court and Kate Emerson has a way of writing it out in such a way that you feel a connection with the time. You can visually see the castle and the colors and everything that goes along with the Royal court. With all of that said the reason this one gets a 4 rating instead of a 5 is because sometimes the facts did not match up with Bess the real person but most of them did. The only other down swing is a few things did seem to get long winded so there were parts that dragged a little. So the long and short of it a solid installment in the series a good read if not the best of them.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on June 12, 2015

The Queen’s Mistake (In The Court of Henry VIII #2) by Diane Haeger :

From the author of The Secret Bride, the tragic tale of the fifth wife of Henry VIII?

When the young and beautiful Catherine Howard becomes the fifth wife of the fifty-year-old King Henry VIII, she seems to be on top of the world. Yet her reign is destined to be brief and heartbreaking, as she is forced to do battle with enemies far more powerful and calculating than she could have ever anticipated in a court where one wrong move could mean her undoing. Wanting only love, Catherine is compelled to deny her heart?s desire in favor of her family?s ambition. But in so doing, she unwittingly gives those who sought to bring her down a most effective weapon?her own romantic past.

The Queen?s Mistake is the tragic tale of one passionate and idealistic woman who struggles to negotiate the intrigue of the court and the yearnings of her heart.

Sometimes I read books out of order if they can be stand alone, or I post the reviews out of order. Such is the case I noticed with these two in the Tudor court series. Though it doesn’t really matter because while all in the same court these books are very different.

Katherine Howard is always portrayed as a frivolous little chit who ended up losing her head for being that way. This book manages to give her a little more depth and show things more from her perspective. She was never raised to deal with the dangers of a court like King Henry’s and she while not empty headed was not the brightest girl. Was that really a reason to have her head cut off? I don’t think so.

In this I also liked the way that the relationship with Culpepper was shown, instead of confirming that they actually slept together like a lot of other sources have (the Tudors) they do not in this. Yes they spend time together, even kiss a little she does love him deeply but she did not cheat on Henry once they were married in the physical sense. This was a good read and a different look at one of the lesser known Queens at Henry’s court.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Posted by on April 10, 2015

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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