Currently I am trying to read one book a month this year, as part of a challenge set between myself and my sister. So far, I am slightly ahead and have read 3 books. It is these 3 books that I will write my book review on.
Book Review No.1
History, Religion and science collide. A well-researched piece, igniting curiosity about what our future holds.
Dan Brown (2017)
The Robert Langdon series, 5th instalment
Basic plot summary
A mystery thriller where Harvard Professor Robert Langdon is yet again fleeing for his life and cracking the code to unveil a life changing scientific discovery to be viewed by all across the world. The answers to where are we from? Where are we going? Are discovered by Langdon’s dear friend and revealed to the world.
I do love a good Dan Brown book particularly from Robert Langdon series. Having read The Da Vinci Code. Angels and Demons and The Lost Symbol, I was intrigued to see what Mr Langdon had in store next.
This book touched on various topics and was well detailed around Modern Art, History of Spain’s famous landmarks as well as in Budapest and Dubai. Also computer science, physics and biology was a hot topic in this book. This is one of the reasons why I like this book. Not only did the story have a twist but I learnt a lot of facts, something that doesn’t always happen in fictional books. Dan Brown certainly researched well and it showed and paid off in this book.
There is always a female co-star in Dan Brown’s books. In the Origin it was Ambra Vidal. I liked her character as she was written as a headstrong, independent woman. Successful in her career and a good-hearted person. She broke the norm despite being engaged to the future King of Spain! Her character alongside Langdon was great as they worked well together to discover codes on their journey on that dreadful night.
I also liked how the character of Valdespino was well written. I cannot give to much detail as it will give most of the plot away, however I liked the ending – it showed him being very much human.
Now Winston, another character, was extraordinary and also slightly scary as he was unpredictable ironically. Again, I cannot give to much information on this character as it will give the plot away, but I have to say he made the story come alive.
• Well – researched history, religion and science
• Always something to learn
• Well written characters
It took a while for me to get into the story, it was only until many chapters later that I become hooked.
Also, I do find some of the historical and scientific information to be incredibly wordy and so I found myself scanning quickly through the chapter as there was no way I was going to understand it! Maybe that was the point?
• Takes awhile to get into the story
• Can be wordy
Overall, I do feel this is a good read despite it being wordy at times. If you are anything like me and I love to learn something new- you would love Origin.
If you debate religion vs science – Origin is the book to read.
If you question where do we come from? Where are we going? – You must read Origin!
Rating = 7/10
Book Review No.2
A courageous woman who kept a cool head – Henry VIII forth wife Anna of Kleves shows a perspective on living with a tyrant – was she ever free?
Anna of Kleves Queen of Secrets
Alison Weir (2019)
Six Tudor Queens series – 4th instalment
Basic plot summary
If you know your Tudor history, you will know Princess Anna of Kleves became the fourth wife of Henry VIII based on a portrait painted by Hans Holbein. When they united Anna cannot enchant him despite her efforts. Many secrets are held by Anna and she knows full well if exposed she would be killed, just like Anne Boleyn. Rumours are court can often touch on the truth – how will Anna save herself?
I enjoyed reading this book. I had always thought of Anna being the less exciting of all The Tudor Queens. However, Alison Weir always spices up a good historical fiction, not to mention the facts based around Anna’s story also made the book come alive. She appeared clever, spirited and courageous. All good qualities to keep the Kings favour.
As with all historical fiction there is a story which is not based on facts, however makes you question why Henry VIII was not attracted to Anna of Kleves , you will see what I mean when you read the book.
I enjoyed how Anna thought through her every move wisely, she showed logic and reason but did not push her opinions onto others as she knew the consequences and learnt how to survive at court.
It was great to see how she bonded with Mary and Elizabeth, and how she kept Ann Boleyn’s name alive when she inherited Hever Castle. I particularly liked how Anna sympathised with Elizabeth’s situation and allowed some talk of her Boleyn in front of Elizabeth.
Yes, Katherine Howard featured in this book. Alison Weir showed Anna’s human side of feeling hurt at being cast aside and names as the Kings sister, she observed how intimate Henry VIII and Katherine were and she had mixed emotions of relief as she was not attracted to Henry VIII, and hurt, she questioned why he did not like her.
Overall, I liked how Anna respected and valued her position as the King’s sister and made her inheritance her own, she stood her ground wisely and lived as independently as she possibly could in the Tudor era.
• Well written character of Anna of Kleves
• Other characters all relate to one another, particularly those who have passed and moved on
• Appealed more to the feminist side of me#
The storyline was not based on facts. I would have liked to have read Anna as living without the story and see how she coped independently and free from loves constraints. I cannot go into detail without giving it away. In some ways its nice she had those loves in this book as she deserved it after all the turmoil she went through.
• One storyline was not based on fact did not appeal to me
I would recommend reading the Six Tudor Queens series as they are all linked, and they are all a good read. There are 4 books so far, the next is due out on 14th May 2020 – Katherine Howard The Tainted Queen.
If you love your Tudor history or a feminist – I recommend this book. There are some reading group questions at the back which would be good for a book club.
Overall, I see to love Anna of Kleves more so than when I started this book. She appears to be an interesting woman who knows how to survive a tyrant like King Henry VIII.
Rating = 7/10
Book Review No. 3
Mysterious Anne, captivating and alluring – True Love?
Anne Boleyn A Kings Obsession
Alison Weir (2017)
Six Tudor Queens – 2nd Instalment
Basic plot summary
We should all know about Anne Boleyn’s story. Alison Weir captures beautifully Anne’s life from the beginning to the end. Anne has seen how men can control their lives and can get away with mistreatment of a woman. She also experienced heartbreak and grieved massively, the King began to summon and make demands of her which led Anne down a treacherous path. She was a woman before her time, but how can she live in this man’s world?
I was completely captivated by how she learnt from strong females in her life, but also how she learnt from other peoples mistakes. Anne seemed very observant and incredibly intelligent – well educated. From a young age It seemed Anne wanted a deep passionate love and to be respected, she was seeking a better life. Alison Weir gave the impression that Anne Boleyn at a young age was smart and knew what was right for her.
I enjoyed reading the strong female characters such as The Regent (Margaret of Austria) and how her life turned out, how she was well educated and smart enough to make advances in her country despite being a woman. Observing Queen Mary’s (King Henry VIII’s sister) troubles after her husband King of Portugal died, King Francois pursued her and he could not take no for an answer, her defiant declines were brave to Anne. Marguerite Duchess d’Alencon (King Francois sister) who encouraged open opinions and intellectual conversation amongst her ladies.
I liked reading what influenced Anne Boleyn to become head strong, intelligent and an ambitious woman.
• Beautifully written early years of Anne Boleyn
• Showed how females were intelligent and has to hide it when amongst men
• Appealed to the feminist in me
Everyone has an opinion about Anne Boleyn. Truth is there is not enough facts or records of Anne as they were all mostly discarded after her death. Historical fiction usually create Anne Boleyn who sought revenge. I’m am yet to read a book that portrays Anne as woman ahead of her time, living in a man’s world, and a woman who cannot refuse a King for fear of consequences.
Alison Weir creates Anne Boleyn in a way that I dislike in her later years, why? To create a good read? To provide an opinion on Anne’s case? It does give a good read but being a massive Anne Boleyn fan, I can’t help but feel disappointed with the story line after she caught the eye of King Henry VIII.
- Negative perspective on Anne Boleyn in her later years
As with my previous review I recommend this book to Tudor addicts and most definitely feminists.
Rating = 8/10
So that’s it, all 3 books I have read in the past 3 months. Please let me know what you think if you do get a chance to read any.