Category Archives: Book Reviews

Secrets of the Tudor Court by Darcey Bonnette

She holds the key to a kingdom’s future! When young Mary Howard receives the news that she will be leaving her home for the grand court of King Henry VIII, to attend his mistress Anne Boleyn, she is ecstatic. Everything Anne touches seems to turn to gold, and Mary is certain Anne will one day become Queen. But Mary has also seen the King s fickle nature and how easily he discards those who were once close to him! Discovering that she is a pawn in a carefully orchestrated plot devised by her father, the duke of Norfolk, Mary dare not disobey him. Yet despite all of her efforts to please him, she too falls prey to his cold wrath. Not until she becomes betrothed to Harry Fitzroy, the Duke of Richmond and son to King Henry VIII, does Mary finds the love and approval she s been seeking. But just when Mary believes she is finally free of her father, the tides turn. Now Mary must learn to play her part well in a dangerous chess game that could change her life and the course of history.

To Die For – A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Sandra Byrd

Meg Wyatt is pledged forever as the best friend to Anne Boleyn since their childhoods on neighbouring manors in Kent. When Anne’s star begins to ascend, of course she takes her best friend Meg along for the ride. Life in the court of Henry VIII is thrilling at first, but as Anne’s favour rises and falls, so does Meg’s.

Book Review: A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix

Taken from his parents as a child and equipped with biological and technological improvements, Khemri is now an enhanced human being, trained and prepared for the glory of becoming a Prince of the Empire. Not to mention the ultimate glory: should he die, and be deemed worthy, he will be reborn…Which is just as well, because no sooner has Prince Khemri graduated to full Princehood than he learns the terrible truth behind the Empire: there are ten million princes, and all of them want each other dead.

Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.     

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.    

Re-Reading -1984 by George Orwell

1984 is as devastating, as stimulating, as simple and complex, as thought provoking, as when I first read it as a teen. The final chapter, a small essay on Newspeak, which I undoubtedly skipped with the impatience of youth, has interesting implications. Rather than being written from George Orwell’s perspective, in his present, it is written from an historical perspective, from a not too distant future in which the all-seeing, all-controlling all-powerful totalitarian Party, which seemed a psychopathic state so implacable and unstoppable to Winston Smith, has been defeated.
I want to read that book, in which the Party and its seemingly unrelenting, psychopathic, true-believing functionaries like O’Brien, are defeated. I want to know how, I want to know why.
The implications of a Newspeak that enriches, that expands vocabulary, rather than destroys it, that generates ideas, rather than limiting, also has intriguing possibilities.
If there is one book that must be read, this is it.

Her Highness, the Traitor by Susan Higginbotham

As Henry VIII draws his last breath, two very different women, Jane Dudley, Viscountess Lisle, and Frances Grey, Marchioness of Dorset, face the prospect of a boy king, Edward VI. For Jane Dudley, basking in the affection of her large family, the coming of a new king means another step upward for her ambitious, able husband, John. For Frances Grey, increasingly alienated from her husband and her brilliant but arrogant daughter Lady Jane, it means that she—and the Lady Jane—are one step closer to the throne of England…

Margaret Campbell Barnes – Brief Gaudy Hour Book Review

The infamous love of King Henry VIII and the mother of Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn undertook a rocky journey from innocent courtier to powerful Queen of England. A meticulous researcher, Margaret Campbell Barnes immerses readers in this intrigue and in the lush, glittery world of the Tudor Court. The beauty and charms of Anne Boleyn bewitched the most powerful man in the world, King Henry VIII, but her resourcefulness and cleverness were not enough to stop the malice of her enemies. Her swift rise to power quickly became her own undoing.

The Six Wives of Henry VIII Thrice – David Starkey, Antonia Fraser and Alison Weir

I’ve spent the last month reading three major modern books on Henry VIII’s wives. I had initially planned to just read David Starkey and Alison Weir’s books but someone on a Tudor History forum I’m a member of recommended I try Antonia Fraser’s book as well.  I did have it, but I might have thought it too “old” to read (although it was actually published a year after Weir’s so I was incorrect there) It might be because I’ve seen so many of Fraser’s books around I assumed they’ve all been in print for more than 20 years. I read some absolutely terrible books on Anne Boleyn last year that were published in the 1970’s and had decided I’d stick to more modern ones at present.

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence – Book Review

“Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother’s tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that’s true enough, but there’s something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.”

Wanders Through the Willows

A little while ago my friend Suz made a comment to me that has stuck in my head. I can’t remember for the life of me which book it was but I had put a photo up on Facebook of a book and she said she “wished she’d read it as a kid”. I made a reply along the lines of us still being able to enjoy books as adults but she insisted there are some things she wish she had read then.

Tudor Reading – Alison Weir and Alison Plowden on Mary Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey

I went to the library intending to get a copy of the Mary Boleyn biography by Alison Weir. After enduring a long wait and an irritating conversation with the librarian who kept telling me that I should read Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl as was completely historically accurate, I left the library completely exasperated and with a copy of Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir, as they had lost the Mary Boleyn book. With about six of her non-fiction books at home I wasn’t sure why I decided to pick up one of her historical fiction titles to start off with, but little Lady Jane Grey has always fascinated me.

Cassandra Golds – The Museum of Mary Child


Heloise lives with her godmother in an isolated cottage. Next door is a sinister museum dedicated to the memory of Mary Child. Visitors enter it with a smile and depart with fear in their eyes. One day, Heloise finds a doll under the floorboards. Against her godmother’s wishes, she keeps it. And that’s when the delicate truce between Heloise and her godmother begins to unravel . . .

Heloise runs away. She journeys far, but one day she must return to uncover the secret at the heart of her being.