“The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory

The Other Boleyn GirlThe Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Historical Fiction
Paperback, 664 pages
Published January 22nd 2008 by Touchstone (first published 2001)
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The Other Boleyn Girl is the story of the rise and fall of Queen Anne Boleyn–Henry VIII’s second wife–as told through the eyes of her sister, Mary Boleyn. Mary Boleyn was only a child when her family married her off. However, a few years later when she is brought to the court of the King Henry VIII and Queen Katherine of Aragon, the Boleyn family’s ambition has another use for Mary. She has caught the eye of the King, and her family sees to it that she becomes his mistress–whether she likes it or not. They just as easily toss her aside again when the King’s interest wanes, and an attraction sparks between him and Mary’s sister Anne. The family’s conniving ambition, coupled with Anne’s own ambition, bring about a story so salacious and horrendous it could end only in the spilling of blood.


In true Philippa Gregory fashion, the story is told with precision and tact. She chronicles the lives of the Boleyn siblings as they weave their way through the most luxurious, avaricious, and lecherous court of Europe. Although I did enjoy Gregory’s telling of the story and her accuracy of her historical facts, I did not enjoy the subject matter itself very much. It’s pretty scandalous stuff. However, overall it was a good read. It’s not my favourite of Gregory’s novels, but it was still good. If you like Philippa Gregory, or historical fiction in general, I’d recommend giving this book a shot if you are interested in the Tudors.

“The Undomestic Goddess” by Sophie Kinsella

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
Chick Lit

The Undomestic Goddess is the story of lawyer Samantha Sweeting. She is a workaholic with a messy desk, devoting her blood, sweat, and tears to firm Carter Spink. On the eve of being made partner, she makes a mistake. A mistake so huge that it will likely cost her her career. She does the only sensible thing, and walks out of the office in a daze, hops on a random train out of the city, and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Not only so, but she knocks on a random door, and accidentally takes a job as a housekeeper when she barely knows how to make toast. She considers telling her new “employers” that they have mistaken her for someone else, but instead thinks that this might be the break she needs. That, and the gardiner is gorgeous.


This book was a super fun summer read! Light Chick Lit that would make an ideal poolside companion.

 

“SOMEDAY, SOMEDAY, MAYBE” by Lauren Graham

Someday, Someday, Maybe
Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Fiction, Chick Lit (ish)
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published April 30th 2013 by Ballantine Books
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Someday, Someday, Maybe is the hilarious and charming tale of aspiring actress Franny Banks.

It’s 1995 and Franny lives in Brooklyn with her two best friends, Jane and Dan. She works as a waitress at a comedy club to pay the bills, and tries not to get too disheartened by the lack of auditions lining her filofax.

Franny doesn’t want to become one of those people who can’t seem to admit to themselves that they simply aren’t meant to be an actor. Therefore, she has set a three-year deadline for herself: if after three years in New York she has not become a successful actress, she is going to pack it in.

Her deadline is nearing, and things aren’t going too well. Should she extend her deadline? Give in? WHAT? She stays hopeful, attending an acting class. Perhaps this will get her noticed by some bigwigs. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a handsome and successful actor among her fellow students.

To be frank, that Lauren Graham wrote this book sort of hurt its chances with me. I love her SO MUCH that it was impossible for me not to subconsciously have extremely high expectations for it. I tried my best to keep an open and clear mind… But it proved to be too great a task.

However, I did really enjoy this book. Graham is a really good writer. Not only so, but she brought some amusing creativity with the many filofax entries. I really loved her style, and often found myself laughing out loud. That being said, I couldn’t always connect with the main character. I just had very little in common with her. However, on the whole, I did enjoy the novel and would recommend it to all who are interested!

“Where We Belong” by Emily Giffin

Where We BelongWhere We Belong by Emily Giffin

Fiction
Published April 16th 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Paperback, 384 pages
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This is the story of Marian Caldwell and Kirby Rose. Marian is a successful TV producer living the dream in NYC. At least that is how it seems. But does she really have it all? Is she truly happy? Enter Kirby Rose. She is a angsty teenager looking for contentment as well as her birth mother. When she knocks on Marian’s door late one night, everything changes. For the both of them.


I found this book fun and charming–just like the other Emily Giffin books that I have had the pleasure to read. It is fun and funny, and just the right combination of serious and light. I find Emily Giffin Chick Lit at it’s best, and Where We Belong did not disappoint. That being said, there was nothing particularly noteworthy about the novel. One thing that I did notice (however neurotically) was the overuse of many adjectives. For example, the word “deadpan” was extremely overused. It takes only a couple of seconds to look a word up in the thesaurus to shake things up. However, I did really enjoy this book, and would recommend it if you like Chick Lit!

“A Place Called Here” by Cecelia Ahern

A Place Called Here by Cecelia Ahern

Chick Lit
Paperback, 485 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by HarperTorch (first published in 2006)
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This story is about a somewhat neurotic woman named Sandy Shortt who runs a missing person’s agency in Ireland. She is obsessed with finding lost objects and always has been–At least since she was ten years old and her neighbour disappeared without a trace. However, along the way, she herself becomes lost. She finds herself in the land where lost things go–a place called Here.
 

This was a light novel that had more… whimsy then I was in the mood for when I read it. It wasn’t bad, and was often quite enjoyable. However, I didn’t find there was anything particularly special about the book. It’s a neat idea, but I didn’t find it as engaging as I had expected it to. It is a suitable companion for a trip to the beach, but if you are looking for anything more than that, maybe you ought to look elsewhere.

“The Girl Who Played with Fire” by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

This novel is the second installment of Stieg Larsson’s epic Millenium trilogy. The girl Who Played with Fire focuses more closely on Lisabeth’s character. It delves deeper into her past and her psychology while placing her on the run from not only the law, but also her past. Lisabeth’s story is further cloaked in mystery as you flip through the pages. What does Lisbeth have to do with this sex trafficking ring? Who is Zala?


Although there were several racy elements in the novel, I did find that on the whole it was less disturbing than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This book is pretty long, but I could hardly put it down! It was very exciting and enjoyable. I really liked it. It could have been toned down some, but the story was solid, interesting, and engaging. If you can get past the swearing and the promiscuity, I would recommend it! If you are easily offended, I might suggest to give this one a pass.

“The Tenth Circle” by Jodi Picoult

 

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
Fiction
Paperback, 512 pages
Published 2013 by Pocket Books
Purchase: [Amazon] [Book Depository]

This book is about family, and about change. It’s about figuring out who you are, and seeing how all the things that have happened in your life add up to who you are now. Trixie Stone, and her parents Daniel and Laura, are the main characters in the novel. After an act of violence changes Trixie’s life forever, she has to figure out how to pick up the pieces and reconcile who she was with who she has become. However, this doesn’t just affect Trixie. Both of her parents have to face their own demons and come to terms with the fact that their lives will never be the same. They have to deal with their past, and figure out their future.


This book was a powerful and compelling read (like most of Picoult’s work). She seems to have a firm grasp on how to combine popular commercial accessibility with strong literary undertones. This novel deals with serious issues and brings them to the forefront. Not only so, but in this novel, Picoult has also drawn on the graphic novel which adds another level to keep your intrest. Overall I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it.


Content warning: Themes of sexual assault. 

“The Constant Princess” by Philippa Gregory

The Constant Princess (The Tudor Court, #1)
The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

Historical Fiction
Paperback, 490 pages
Published 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (first published 2005)
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This was my first taste of Gregory’s Tudor Court series. Although it is not technically the first book in the series, I have decided to read them chronologically. This one follows Catalina, Princess of Spain who was betrothed to the Prince of England and Wales basically since birth. The story chronicles the hard life she had, and later introduces us to the court of the notorious Henry VIII. I was slightly confused with the ending, because I personally know next to nothing about Katherine of Argon, Queen of England. But I’m sure the pieces will be fully put together when I read The Other Boleyn Girl as that is technically the first book in the series.


I liked this book. Found it really enjoyable. It isn’t my favourite Philippa Gregory book so far, but I still really liked it. I knew almost nothing about Katherine of Argon so it was pretty interesting to learn about her life. I’ve heard some people complain about the narrator in the story, saying the main character is really annoying. I didn’t find that. She had her flaws, of course, but she wasn’t nearly as annoying as Margaret Beaufort in The Red Queen!

“The Red Queen” by Philippa Gregory

The Red Queen
The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

Historical Fiction, Royal Fiction
Paperback, 419 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by Touchstone (first published 2010)
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I liked this book. However, I don’t recommend reading it right after reading The White Queen because the plot is so similar. Although it’s through the eyes of a different character, it’s the same story. However, it was a good read.


Reading about Margaret Beaufort’s life really gives insight into the woman that she becomes. She had quite the rough go of it—married at 12, a mother at 13, and a widow the same year. She was married off again shortly thereafter, and was not allowed to raise her own son. Although it’s understandable why she became the way she was, she was still always kind of annoying and self-righteous.


Over all, I give it a thumbs up.

“The White Queen” by Philippa Gregory

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Historical Fiction, Royal Fiction
Paperback, 529 pages
Published 2010 by Pocket (first published 2009)
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The White Queen is the story of Elizabeth Woodville–a woman not of royal descent–who married the King of England in secret. She married Edward IV as a widow with two sons.

Elizabeth’s new husband, the king, must fight his whole life to keep the throne he fought to get. He leaves two male heirs in a court wrought with jealousy and malice.

This is the story of a woman who fights for the rights of her family. She fought so hard to achieve her position, and she will not give up now. In the War of the Roses, known to the players in it as the Cousins’ War, you can trust no one, and war is always imminent.

I loved this book. I could not put it down. I really liked The Lady of the Rivers (the third of the Cousins’ War series, but first chronologically), but The White Queen was even better! There was a lot of action and intrigue, keeping me completely engaged the whole time.

What intrigued me most was the mystery of the Princes in the Tower and Richard III. It didn’t disappoint. It did surprise, but did not disappoint. At first, the narration distracted me. It is written in the present tense, and that usually bothers me. However, as the story went along, I found I actually liked it. It made me feel as if I was a part of the action, and not having someone recount a story to me. I also appreciated how the more unseemly aspects of the story are not ignored, but are not focused on either. For example, it clear that Edward IV was a womanizer and slept with hundreds of women outside of his marriage. This is given the weight it is due, but there are no graphic sex scenes or anything like that. Tasteful, but honest.

This was my second Philippa Gregory novel, and I am eager for more! I recommend this to everyone!