2017 Book #4 – Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

51frawx0hul-_sx328_bo1204203200_-1Title: Victoria
Author: Daisy Goodwin
Date finished: 1/14/17
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
Pages in book: 416
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse NOTE:I received this book for free from BookBrowse in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Drawing on Queen Victoria’s diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin―creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria and author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter―brings the young nineteenth-century monarch, who would go on to reign for 63 years, richly to life in this magnificent novel.
Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world.
Despite her age, however, the young queen is no puppet. She has very definite ideas about the kind of queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name.
“I do not like the name Alexandrina,” she proclaims. “From now on I wish to be known only by my second name, Victoria.”
Next, people say she must choose a husband. Everyone keeps telling her she’s destined to marry her first cousin, Prince Albert, but Victoria found him dull and priggish when they met three years ago. She is quite happy being queen with the help of her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who may be old enough to be her father but is the first person to take her seriously.
On June 19th, 1837, she was a teenager. On June 20th, 1837, she was a queen. Daisy Goodwin’s impeccably researched and vividly imagined new book brings readers Queen Victoria as they have never seen her before.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I received this book from Book Browse in order to participate in an online book discussion on the book. If you’ve read it please come join the discussion! This book tells the story of Victoria, Queen of England in the mid 1800’s. The book begins before Victoria is queen, when she was still Alexandrina, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. Controlled for her whole childhood by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend/advisor (Conroy), Victoria becomes Queen when she’s barely 18 and relishes the freedom this provides. This book chronicles her Victoria’s life between the ages of around eighteen and twenty as Victoria comes into her place in the regency. As a young woman she has a lot to prove though, and with so many people who’d like to control her or use her power to their advantage, she has to be careful who she trusts. As Victoria navigates through her first couple years as Queen, she makes mistakes and falls in love and causes some scandal but all in all she stands her ground, makes her own decisions, and follows her heart.
Overall I did enjoy this book. Victoria was very interesting as a main character and the story line was interesting. There were parts of the story line that I thought could have been dug into more, like the discussions of  the poor people in London and how Victoria was spoiled with riches while there were children starving in the streets.And if I’m being completely honest, I didn’t like the way the story ended. I didn’t like Victoria’s second love interest, I wanted her to end up with Melbourne despite the age difference. That probably was the thing that bothered me most about the book. Also it seemed like everyone wanted something from Victoria, which I’m sure is normal for a book about a Queen but I have to say is kind of depressing for a book about a young woman. This was a good and interesting book though and I would recommend it.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot. Victoria was extremely interesting as a character and the book included a good deal of dramatic tension, conflict, and romance as well as political intrigue. I didn’t really like the ending but overall I thought the book was very well written. I would recommend, especially for fans of books about royalty.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

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2016 Book #121 – The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie

5154lvfkqgl-_sx320_bo1204203200_Title: The Enemies of Versailles
Author: Sally Christie
Date finished: 12/27/16
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Pages in book: 399
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy
Where I got the book from: Author/Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.
“That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.”
After decades of suffering the King’s endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.
Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about France and its history really, told through two separate points of view. The chapters alternate between the point of view of Jeanne, the Comtesse du Barry and King Louis XV’s most recent mistress, and Adelaide, King Louis XV’s eldest daughter (unmarried). Jeanne’s story begins in her childhood and tells of her rise in status from the streets of Paris to being the King’s formal mistress. Jeanne is not what I would call an ambitious woman, and her good fortune comes mainly from her good looks, pure luck and the greed of those that surround her. Things seem to work out ok for her in the end though and she does genuinely care for the King. The King’s daughter Adelaide though, is genuinely shocked that her father would even consider bringing Jeanne (to be fair she was actually a prostitute) to Versailles and having her presented at Court. Adelaide’s chapters are heart-wrenching, as she so desperately wants her father’s approval and love, but unfortunately she is very judgmental due to her upbringing and so her interactions with her father never seem to go well. After King Louis XV’s death though, the political unrest in France falls into a downward spiral. And as the French Revolution begins, neither Adelaide (a princess) nor Jeanne (a prostitute) are safe from the Reign of Terror.
Overall I really liked this book. I love this whole series really, because while not everything that happens is factual there is a lot based on real fact, and to be honest a lot of this I haven’t learned about before. So I’m learning as I read and it is just riveting stuff. The ending of this one especially was captivating since I could tell that the whole Revolution business was not going to end well for any of the main characters. I found this novel to be really thought provoking as well. There were a lot of subtopics to this story that I could delve deeper into and think about, especially ones that would apply to this day and age as well as the time period discussed in the book. I thought it was especially interesting to see the characters’ progressions through the novel. This book covers a time period ranging from 1750 to 1800, so many of the characters grow old within the span of this one novel, and there are many changes to each characters’ personality. I liked this novel a lot, it probably ended up being my favorite in the series. I can’t wait to see what this author writes in the future, I really enjoyed the Mistresses of Versailles series!

The bottom line: This was a great conclusion to the trilogy! I thought the different points of view in this novel were especially interesting and I really enjoyed the author’s take on a bloody time in history, the Reign of Terror. Great read though, I would definitely recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #121 – Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

51VBdmvv70LTitle: Tiny Little Thing
Author: Beatriz Williams
Date finished: 12/8/15
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: June 23, 2015
Pages in book: 354
Stand alone or series: Can be read as a stand alone but there are other novels starring characters in this book (Along the Infinite Sea is about Tiny’s sister Pepper and The Secret Life of Violet Grant tells Vivian’s story somewhat I think)
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

In the summer of 1966, Christina Hardcastle—“Tiny” to her illustrious family—stands on the brink of a breathtaking future. Of the three Schuyler sisters, she’s the one raised to marry a man destined for leadership, and with her elegance and impeccable style, she presents a perfect camera-ready image in the dawning age of television politics. Together she and her husband, Frank, make the ultimate power couple: intelligent, rich, and impossibly attractive. It seems nothing can stop Frank from rising to national office, and he’s got his sights set on a senate seat in November.
But as the season gets underway at the family estate on Cape Cod, three unwelcome visitors appear in Tiny’s perfect life: her volatile sister Pepper, an envelope containing incriminating photograph, and the intimidating figure of Frank’s cousin Vietnam-war hero Caspian, who knows more about Tiny’s rich inner life than anyone else. As she struggles to maintain the glossy façade on which the Hardcastle family’s ambitions are built, Tiny begins to suspect that Frank is hiding a reckless entanglement of his own…one that may unravel both her own ordered life and her husband’s promising career.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will count towards my “Holiday 2015 Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “Multiple POV” square, since this book is told alternating between Tiny and Caspian’s points of view. I really wanted to read this book after reading Along the Infinite Sea recently by this author, I wanted to see what more I could get of a background story on the Schuyler sisters. Tiny (Christina Schuyler) has always done the right thing, she’s always been the perfect daughter and the now she’s the perfect wife. But she’s tired of being perfect, and what she really wants is just to be herself, whoever that might be. When on a chance encounter she meets Captain Caspian Harrison, she asks him to help her disappear. The story line alternated between 1964 when Tiny asks Caspian to help her escape from her fiance and her family and 1966 where Tiny is obviously married so as the story unravels between the two time periods the reader is left to wonder what exactly ended up going down in 1964. And also what the hell is going on in 1966 because there is some shady stuff going on behind the scenes! In 1966 Tiny is married to Frank Hardcastle, who is running for Senator. And now here to help him is his handsome cousin Caspian who recently lost one of his legs in the Vietnam War.
I really did enjoy this book. I didn’t give it as great of a rating only because I found it to be slow in the beginning of the book. I can’t tell if it was the book (pretty sure it wasn’t) or my crazy schedule that only allows me to read for 10 minutes at a time while trying not to get distracted (most likely the reason) but whatever the case I just had trouble getting into the book and it didn’t give me a ton of enjoyment. Once I got mid-way and the story picked up for me though it was better and the end had a great twist that I never saw coming which I always love. Overall this was a solid, good book for me and I would definitely recommend reading it!

The bottom line: This book was a little slow to get into for me, most likely because of my limited available reading time and less likely because of the book. The ending really was quite riveting though, I didn’t want to put it down! Would recommend this one!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page