Once again, I am doing mini-reviews on a couple of books. If you haven’t read my mini-reviews before, I do them for the following reasons:
- I just read so many books every month, both ARCS and books that I buy or get from the library, that I have a very difficult time with my schedule reviewing every single book. So a mini-review is the best and easiest way to accomplish reviewing any books that are in my backlog of unreviewed books!
- Or I just don’t have enough to say about the book to write a full review, so a mini-review is the best way to express my thoughts about a certain book. It doesn’t mean I didn’t like the book…
- Although if I rated a book with 2.5 stars, it will only ever get a mini-review. And likely a lot of 3 star books as well.
Here we go with my thoughts on a couple of reads!
Book Title and Author: Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory
Series: The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels #8
Publication date and Publisher: August 8, 2016 by Touchstone
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 556 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: May 20, 2017 (Audiobook)
As sisters they share an everlasting bond; As queens, they can break each other’s hearts.
“There is only one bond that I trust: between a woman and her sisters. We never take our eyes off each other. In love and in rivalry, we always think of each other.”
When Katherine of Aragon is brought to the Tudor court as a young bride, the oldest princess, Margaret, takes her measure. With one look, each knows the other for a rival, an ally, a pawn, destined—with Margaret’s younger sister Mary—to a sisterhood unique in all the world. The three sisters will become the queens of England, Scotland, and France.
United by family loyalties and affections, the three queens find themselves set against each other. Katherine commands an army against Margaret and kills her husband James IV of Scotland. But Margaret’s boy becomes heir to the Tudor throne when Katherine loses her son. Mary steals the widowed Margaret’s proposed husband, but when Mary is widowed it is her secret marriage for love that is the envy of the others. As they experience betrayals, dangers, loss, and passion, the three sisters find that the only constant in their perilous lives is their special bond, more powerful than any man, even a king.
First, I want to say that I listened to the audiobook for this and the narrator, Bianca Amato was absolutely amazing! Based on her narration, this would be a 5 Star read but sadly, no. Ok, moving on…
Normally, I devour Gregory’s writing, but it took me 7 months to finish this book because I kept putting it aside since I just could not get into it! One issue was the misleading, to me anyway, premise. The story is told from the first person POV of Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland and elder sister of King Henry VIII. I expected the book to also be told from the POV’s of Katherine of Aragon and Mary Tudor, Henry VIII and Margaret’s younger sister based on the title and book synopsis. But, no, Katherine and Mary are relegated to minor roles in the book. Three POV’s would give much-needed contrast to the book since the interactions between the sisters are in the form of letters. These interactions, while interesting, only provide Margaret the chance to show jealousy, moan, belittle, rage, and constantly whine for over 3/4 of the book! Either her sisters are completely beneath her because she is the mother of the heir to the throne of England and Scotland and better than they are, or she is beneath them because her circumstances have fallen very low. It would have been so much more readable to have the three queens show us their own feelings and reactions versus Margaret telling us and her tedious overreactions!
This leads me to my biggest problem with the book: Margaret Tudor’s portrayal. I literally could not stand her character. Of course, Gregory has artistic license but the woman she presents is mean and outright vicious, and it would be entirely tolerable to read her representations of Margaret if they were supported by historical fact. It was such a hardship to endure Margaret’s wild and crazed obsession with her sisters, which is why I vacillated between listening to the book and thrusting it away over the course of 7 months!
I think Gregory attempted to accomplish something great here in the telling of Margaret Tudor, but she got bogged down trying to portray how inferior Margaret felt, which she could have done without having her moan for over 400 pages. Overall, Gregory’s writing was excellent as usual and I will continue to read her books with the hope that this was just a fluke. Plus, it was interesting to learn about Margaret Tudor’s life, her three marriages, and her divorce in a time when women did not initiate divorce (if you can get past her pity party)! If you enjoy Tudor history and Gregory’s writing, then I say give this a try because it is these things that make the book enjoyable even when Margaret is at her worst. Otherwise, give it a pass.
Book Title and Author: The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne
Publication date and Publisher: June 13, 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Suspense
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: June 20, 2017 (Audiobook)
The suspense thriller of the year – The Marsh King’s Daughter will captivate you from the start and chill you to the bone.
‘I was born two years into my mother’s captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’
When notorious child abductor – known as the Marsh King – escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.
No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.
And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.
Packed with gripping suspense and powerful storytelling, The Marsh King’s Daughter is a one-more-page, read-in-one-sitting thriller that you’ll remember forever.
The Marsh King’s Daughter was one of my most anticipated reads of the summer not only because of all the hype but because the synopsis read like one of my favorite thrillers. Sadly, it was not the right book for me and if I had read more reviews in depth, I would have realized that. However, I did enjoy parts of the book and do recommend it to the right reader. The premise is clever and well executed, Dionne’s characterizations are very thorough and detailed, and she is an exceptional writer.
I did not delve deeply into how much time the daughter, Helena, was victimized and held a prisoner by her father before reading the book, which was my mistake entirely and I take full responsibility for that. I can handle books with very intense graphic violence and honestly, I love reading those books until they reach horror territory but when it comes to terrorization of children, I have an impossible time handling such levels of cruelty and evilness. Because I know we live in a world where such evilness and sadistic cruelty towards children occurs every 10 seconds in the United States, I can’t read about it and feel as if I am being bathed in pure evil whenever I do.
But, it was more than the issues of child abuse; there were elements of animal cruelty I absolutely could not stomach. Yes, hunting was needed for their survival in the Marsh, and I understand that Jacob, Helena’s father was teaching her so she’d have the necessary skills, so I realize why Dionne wrote it. But I don’t need repeated details of a hunt no matter how glossed over. I also don’t want to read about a bear cub’s violent death more than once. And I refuse to read any parts of any book where there is violence towards a pet.
Those were MY biggest issues with the book, and I realize they are MY issues alone, so I do not fault the book or the author in any way. But I do think that those triggers of graphic animal cruelty and child abuse must be mentioned to other readers who, like myself, are very sensitive to those issues.
This was as I said before an enjoyable read even with the triggers, but I did not love it as I anticipated but for entirely different reasons. I read suspense and thriller novels almost exclusively and although I occasionally got a chilling vibe, I didn’t think it was as suspenseful as promised, which was terribly disappointing. I expected there to be a lot of dark, chilling drama and jump in my seat fright but instead, I found it read more like crime fiction. Again, I recommended to the right reader, and I will definitely give Dionne’s next book a try and hope it’s better suited to my reading tastes!