Sunday, November 24, 2013

Venus in Winter (A novel of Bess of Hardwick) by Gillian Bagwell

Venus in Winter (A novel of Bess of Hardwick)
By: Gillian Bagwell
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Summary: On her twelfth birthday, Bess of Hardwick receives the news that she is to be a waiting gentlewoman in the household of Lady Zouche. Armed with nothing but her razor-sharp wit and fetching looks, Bess is terrified of leaving home. But as her family has neither the money nor the connections to find her a good husband, she must go to facilitate her rise in society.

When Bess arrives at the glamorous court of King Henry VIII, she is thrust into a treacherous world of politics and intrigue, a world she must quickly learn to navigate. The gruesome fates of Henry’s wives convince Bess that marrying is a dangerous business. Even so, she finds the courage to wed not once, but four times. Bess outlives one husband, then another, securing her status as a woman of property. But it is when she is widowed a third time that she is left with a large fortune and even larger decisions—discovering that, for a woman of substance, the power and the possibilities are endless 
Review: Venus in Winter was a refreshing novel about the life of Bess of Hardwick, a young woman who came of age in the court of King Henry the VIII, as he was going through wives, like women today might go through shoes.  From the first chapter of this novel the language flowed very smoothly and it was a very intoxicating read that I did not want to put down.  Bess leaves her house at the age of twelve for better opportunities and for the prospect of marriage, the book follows her through four marriages, over six children, four different monarchs, and four marriages.
Each husband seemed to fulfill a different need for Bess from the sweet innocent love of Robbie, the trusting love of her first William, the passionate love of her second William and with her last marriage to the earl fulfilling the  need to be known as a woman who was noteworthy as her years progressed and her children left home.  My favorite line in the book was when Queen Elizabeth asked Bess her advice about marrying and what she should do, and Bess after thinking says something to the effect of, "whatever you want."  I think this sums up how her character was portrayed and why she was loved by everyone; although marriage had been the right choice for her, she recognized that for the Queen it would probably bring more harm than good, and Bess accepted that and still loved the Queen and served her and accepted her for who she was.  Many of the characters loved Bess and she showed them kindness and professed sadness for them when their decisions got them on the wrong end of the axe (such as Jane Grey) and in trouble with the monarchs.  Yet she still showed them kindness even though they or their loves ones for them had made bad decisions.  Bess stuck to the established rules and decorum of the time, and that I think is what kept her safe, that and her choice of husbands.  I finished this book in two days because I loved the characters and how it was worded I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good read; especially who loves Tudor history.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

The White Princess 

By: Philippa Gregory

<3 <3 <3

Summary: When Henry Tudor picks up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth field, he knows he must marry the princess of the enemy house—Elizabeth of York—to unify a country divided by war for nearly two decades.

But his bride is still in love with his slain enemy, Richard III—and her mother and half of England dream of a missing heir, sent into the unknown by the White Queen. While the new monarchy can win power, it cannot win hearts in an England that plots for the triumphant return of the House of York.

Henry’s greatest fear is that somewhere a prince is waiting to invade and reclaim the throne. When a young man who would be king leads his army and invades England, Elizabeth has to choose between the new husband she is coming to love and the boy who claims to be her beloved lost brother: the rose of York come home at last.

Review: The White Princess follows the story of Elizabeth of York a princess of the House of York who was used as a game piece by her Mother and the new ruling Tudor house of England when she is married to the new upstart Tudor king Henry whom much of the country still sees as a pretender to the thrown and who the author portrays as not having the natural 'finesse' of a natural ruler that the York line had in its rulers such as Elizabeth's Father King Edward, or the last York Ruler, Elizabeth's uncle King Richard;  with whom Elizabeth of York had a much whispered about relationship.  

While some of the details in the story were interesting, this was not one of my favorite Philippa Gregory books, it was very bogged down with the political and battle details of the time, and I found myself after the first hundred or so pages getting annoyed with certain things.  Like Elizabeth constantly telling King Henry, 'I don't know' or when her cousin Maggie Teddy's sister would deliver shocking or private news Elizabeth would consistently just start off by asking 'What?' I don't think this really did justice to how smart Elizabeth would have been or how dialogue would have progressed.  The details, and events that were concentrated on in the White Princess surprised me it was not as enjoyable as other books by this author, that I've read.

Some of the settings, and descriptions of the children were enjoyable, however the overall descriptions of Elizabeth were not what I expected.  The descriptions of England, Henry and his Mother and Elizabeth's Mother were more on point in my opinion, and I do enjoy learning more about this time period. The book follows Elizabeth's life from her marriage to Henry up until he decide's the fate of "The Pretender."  I don't recommend this book if you're looking for a normal Philippa Gregory novel it was really more about King Henry's cowardice,  and Elizabeth not letting go of her love for Richard.  An interesting take on the story of the cousins war.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Red Tent
By: Anita Diamant
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Summary: Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that tell of her father, Jacob, and his twelve sons.

Told in Dinah's voice, Anita Diamant imagines the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood--the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of the mothers--Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah--the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through childhood, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past.
Review: The Red Tent is one of those novel's that I have had numerous people tell me is wonderful and that I just HAVE to read.  I remember my cousin reading it after it first came out and just loving it; I've wanted to read it for years but have just never done it.  Almost in a way because I was scared it wouldn't live up to the hype or what my expectations of it had been built up to, but it really did for the most part.  
The Red Tent tells the story of Dinah, Jacob and Leah's daughter.  (Jacob, the son of Issac who was the son of Abraham.)  It follows Dinah's story and that of her "mothers"  (Jacobs wives) from Jacob's entry into Labon's nomadic dwelling through his marriages to Rachel and Leah, and through them their concubines,  into the births of their children,  then segwaying into Dinah's childhood, entry into adulthood, and the story of her life.  The language that Diamant uses in the novel to describe the camaraderie between the women made me as a reader feel as if I could see what she was describing and feel as if I was actually there, in addition I thought that this author gave a realistic portrayal and strengthened the image of the role women played in ancient times. Women are not mentioned a lot in Biblical manuscripts because  the authors were men and women were considered to be little more than property. 
I liked the way Dinah's story was taken, I thought it was a realistic portrayal of what could have happened; In addition the way each of the mothers was described in the ways they interacted and in how their personalities differed made this a story that was very easy to relate to, because you could've been reading about women in a room together today; the surroundings and objects might be different but the emotions and having to work to be able to live in peace is something women have to work on in every generation.  The only thing I did not relate to in this book was how Joseph was portrayed, as far as his personality, and other traits other than that I would recommend this book it was a wonderful read! 

Monday, November 18, 2013


                                                                      <3 <3 <3
Texas vs. Davis (New, Sensational Disclosures - The Only Complete Account of the Bizarre Thomas Cullen Davis Murder Case)

By: Mike Cochran

 Summary :   At last, the definitive account of the sensational Cullen Davis case written by the award-winning reporter who covered the entire four-year story from the night of the mansion murders through the three circus-like trials to the news-making revelations still surfacing as the book went to press. Texas vs. Davis uncovers information never before printed anywhere and witnesses who never testified. Davis family members disclose personal insights for the first time; a woman who claims she was with Cullen the night of the murders speaks up; a hired gun spills the beans about his employer - for starters. Thomas Cullen Davis (born September 22, 1933 in Fort Worth, Texas) is an American oil heir. He was acquitted of the murders of his stepdaughter and his estranged wife's boyfriend, then hiring a hitman to kill his estranged wife and a judge. A billionaire at the time, he is the wealthiest man to have stood trial for murder in the United States.

Sidenote: This book is in a completely different genre than the books that I normally gravitate towards, and choose to review on Booksalicious, however one of my closest friends got really interested in this criminal case after she had read this book and a few articles about it.  According to her this book had the best and most factual information that she has come across as far as what you can learn about the Texas vs. Davis case.  She loaned me this book to read over six months ago, and at first I put it off because I am not usually interested in true crime type books such as this one; however after becoming involved I did get pulled in which I will talk about in the review.  Anyway I just wanted to clarify that the blogs main book review genre's will remain the same.  This book was a slight detour, which I think is healthy for every reader once in awhile reaching outside of our comfort zone and exploring different genres.

Review: Texas Vs. Davis chronicles the story of Cullen Davis, an individual who seems to live an enchanted life.  With a Father who is a self made millionarie many times over when he leaves college Cullen already has a job waiting for him in his Father's company.  Over the years Cullen seems to lead a charmed life at least looking in from the outside; living the American dream on a grand scale, raising children, traveling, working at the top of a huge corporation.  Of course there are always ups and downs but the world thinks that Cullen is taking the punches as they come.  After divorcing his first wife Cullen marries Priscilla, after this event, the story really begins to unfold, after a short period of "wedded bliss" fighting starts, including physical and emotional abuse on both sides but the heavier abuse comes from Cullen and is aimed at Priscilla.
 The couple separates and divorce proceedings come to a head; upsetting Cullen who feels financially worn down by Priscilla. And furious at the presiding divorce judge.

Not too long after Cullen's payments to Priscilla are increased; Priscilla and her companion, as well as other victims (including a 12 year old child) will  suffer heinous crimes in Cullen and Priscilla's mansion one night after returning from an outing that will start a round of trials, mistrials, and verdicts that will leave the reader speechless at just how blind justice can really be when money is involved, and the victims are forgotten.

Texas Vs. Davis for me was a very dry read.  To be fair it is not my favorite genre, and once I got to a certain point I knew I had to finish just because I needed to know what the verdict in each of Cullen's trials would be.  If you are interested in this particular case then I would definitely recommend this book.  I did enjoy some of the bantering back and forth of the lawyers; also the book is separated into three sections and there were quotes at the beginning of each section.  I felt that these quotes did a great job in portraying the relevant 'mood' for that section of the book.  Cochran seems to be a good writer and even though this type of book isn't my cup of tea.  I will admit I did not put it down the last 100 pages or so.  The story is just so dramatic, three trials, contract killers, three wives, extortion.   I've gotta admit in this case justice really was blind.  Blind to the truth.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Second Firsts, Live, Laugh, and Love Again

This book was provided by Hayhouse as a review copy in return for an honest review thank you!

Second Firsts, Live, Laugh, and Love Again is a book that truly opened my eyes to what my grieving process was truly causing in my life as far as not going out, spending time with my friends and family and not moving forward from the painful loss of my maternal Grandfather who was a huge influence in my life.  The author Christina uses the painful and traumatic loss of her husband as a catalyst to show the reader how at first she too had trouble moving forward with her own grief and in her own life; with a gentle push and in your own time Christina encourages the reader through a series of exercises and self timed steps to use grief as a step to move out of the waiting room of grief and to use your pain as a step to a new and fulfilling life, that is not an echo of your old life, but a completely new and bright life that you can achieve through believing both in yourself and in you’re ability to make good decisions and continue to move forward.  I can honestly say that this is the most refreshing thing I have read since the loss of my Grandfather that has helped me move past the numbness of the loss and back into feeling like myself again.  I would recommend it to anyone who has recently loss anyone or who is going through a divorce or tough time in their lives.