Monday, November 24, 2014

More Five Star Book Reviews

Hey Friends!

I meant to get this blog out yesterday, but you know how life goes sometimes. The best intentions...and all that. So, without further ado, here are another five books that I gave the highest ratings to in the past year! Again, feel free to comment if you've read them and if you agree with my choices, or respectfully disagree. I'd love to hear from you!  Again, all synopses are borrowed from Goodreads, with my personal comments following after. Enjoy!

1.  (Historical Fiction) The Forgotten Queen by D.L. BogdanMarried by proxy to James IV, Margaret Tudor, the daughter of Henry VII, becomes the Queen of Scotland and, after a tragic loss, falls victim to the attentions of the ambitious Earl of Angus.  (Linda's Note:  I hadn't read anything by this author before, but will certainly again.  I hadn't read much on Margaret either, and this novel paints her as neither saint nor sinner, providing a highly entertaining glimpse into the turbulent, and often tragic, life she must have led. And now, of course, I want to read more about Margaret, a compliment to this novel's author!)

2.  (Non-Fiction)  Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed:  A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again. At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone. (Linda's Note:  This is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE books read so far in 2014. I didn't even expect to like it, as I thought it would be all about hiking, but it's not. It's so much more. It's also about a woman's emotional journey through grief to healing. Whether hiking interests you or not, this is still a must-read. Put it on your "To Be Read" list now. 

3.  (Fiction-Mystery)  So Pretty It Hurts (Bailey Weggins Mystery #6) by Kate White: 
Bailey Weggins, the Manhattan-based thirtysomething true-crime journalist, is in a good place. She's enjoying her regular gig at Buzz, a leading celebrity magazine, getting freelance work, and hoping her first book will garner attention. In the love department, she's finally back in the game with her recently-turned-exclusive boyfriend, Beau Regan. When Beau heads out of town one early December weekend, Bailey accepts an invitation from her office friend Jessie to a music mogul's house in the country, hoping for a fun, relaxing getaway. But a weird tension settles over the houseguests--a glamorous crowd that includes the famously thin supermodel Devon Barr. An impending snowstorm only adds to the unease. So when Devon's lifeless body is found in her bed, Bailey immediately suspects foul play: she can't stop thinking of the day before, when a frightened Devon shivered in the woods and pleaded, "I have to get out of here. . . . It's not safe for me." When Bailey starts to nose around, she finds herself a moving target--running closer to the truth and straight into danger. (Linda's Note: This is the last novel (so far anyway, I have hopes for more!) in the Bailey Weggins murder mystery series by author, Kate White. I've read all of them, and once again, I enjoyed this novel even better than the last. I've also enjoyed Ms. White's single title "The Sixes" and look forward to reading her latest novel, "Hush". If light mysteries are on your reading radar, you must give this series a try. Finishing this last novel feels like I'm saying good-bye to an old friend, and that speaks volumes, as mysteries are not usually a genre I read.)

4.  (Historical Fiction)  To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Ladies in Waiting #1) by Sandra Byrd: Meg Wyatt has been Anne Boleyn's closest friend since they grew up together on neighboring manors in Kent. So when twenty-five-year-old Anne's star begins to ascend, of course she takes Meg along for the ride.Life in the court of Henry VIII is thrilling... at first. Meg is made mistress of Anne's wardrobe, and she enjoys the spoils of this privileged orbit and uses her influence for good. She is young and beautiful and in favor; everyone at court assumes that being close to her is being close to Anne.But favor is fickle and envy is often laced with venom. As Anne falls, so does Meg, and it becomes nearly impossible for her to discern ally from enemy. Suddenly life's unwelcome surprises rub against the court's sheen to reveal the tarnished brass of false affections and the bona fide gold of those that are true. Both Anne and Meg may lose everything. When your best friend is married to fearsome Henry VIII, you may soon find yourself not only friendless but headless as well. (Linda's Note: One of the best historical fiction novels I've read. Told from the point-of-view of the fictional Meg Wyatt, we are given a first hand look into the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn. Meg is a childhood friend of Anne's, and follows her to court to become one of her ladies. The writing is spot-on, the voice engaging and the pacing perfect. I also liked how the author didn't paint Anne Boleyn as either sinner or saint, which in my mind was the correct way to go. An excellent and enjoyable read.) 

5.  (Historical Fiction) The Other Queen (The Tudor Court #6) by Philippa Gregory:  
This dazzling novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory presents a new and unique view of one of history's most intriguing, romantic, and maddening heroines. Biographers often neglect the captive years of Mary, Queen of Scots, who trusted Queen Elizabeth's promise of sanctuary when she fled from rebels in Scotland and then found herself imprisoned as the "guest" of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his indomitable wife, Bess of Hardwick.The newly married couple welcome the doomed queen into their home, certain that serving as her hosts and jailers will bring them an advantage in the cutthroat world of the Elizabethan court. To their horror, they find that the task will bankrupt them, and as their home becomes the epicenter of intrigue and rebellion against Elizabeth, their loyalty to each other and to their sovereign comes into question. If Mary succeeds in seducing the earl into her own web of treachery and treason, or if the great spymaster William Cecil links them to the growing conspiracy to free Mary from her illegal imprisonment, they will all face the headsman. (Linda's Note: Philippa Gregory can do no wrong when she writes of the Tudors. This novel just proves it again. I could not put it down. Highly recommended!)

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