“The Tenth Circle” by Jodi Picoult


The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
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)
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo

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)
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo

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)
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo

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!

“The Lady of the Rivers” by Philippa Gregory

The Lady of the Rivers (The Cousins' War, #3)The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

Historical Fiction, Royal Fiction
Hardcover, 443 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group (first published 2011)
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo

This book is about a woman named Jacquetta. It chronicles her life from that of a girl, to an aging mother. She began her life in English France as an heiress of the house of Luxembourg. It is believed that her family descends from the water goddess Melusina, and this family history of magic plays a part in the story. She becomes a very important woman in England and a player in the Wars of the Roses.

This is the first book that I have read by Philippa Gregory. I had heard good things about her, but have never really felt the desire to read her books after seeing the movie The Other Boleyn Girl. I didn’t really like it that much. However, a couple of weeks ago I found this book on sale at chapters so I thought, what the heck? and bought it. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. This proved problematic as I am a student in the last month of her honours bachelor degree. I’m not sure what it is exactly about this book that drew me in so deeply. Gregory’s writing style is not particularly special or particularly refined. However, maybe the simple narration is the key. Maybe it allowed for all the focus to be on the story that Gregory brilliantly unfolds before you. I’m not sure exactly what it is that does it, but I just got swept up in the story, eager to know more, to learn more. It was great. Two thumbs up.

“The Dispossessed” by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Dispossessed
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

This book is about a man named Shevek who is part of an anarchist society called the Odonians living on the moon. The original Odonians came to the Annares (the moon) after a revolution on Urras, their mother planet. A hundred or so years later, the physicist Shevek has a temporal theory he thinks would be beneficial to all people, but there seems to be too much red tape to get it out. This leads to him to questioning the functionality of their society, because it seems like they are becoming again like the “properatarian” people on Urras. To further develop and spread his important theory, he makes the controversial decision to go to a university on Urras. Shevek feels that his calling is to tear down the walls between the societies and make a true utopia.

I liked it. Ursula Le Guin is a good story teller. This book was pretty weird, but all in all I liked it. My one comment is that sometimes I found the layout a little confusing. As you go through the book, you’re on two different timelines in Shevek’s life: one is in the past leading up to him going to Urras, and one is the present while he is on Urras. The concept is simple enough, but the chapters were often so long that sometimes when it would switch back to the other time I’d have forgotten what was going on. However, I thought that the story itself was pretty unique, compelling, and thought provoking. I would recommend it to lovers of sci-fi and philosophy.

Welcome to my Blog

The title of my blog comes from one of my favourite books: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. “The Year of the Rose” was one of her working titles for the novel prior to its publication. 

For the past few months I have been avidly frequenting goodreads.com and also posting book reviews on my tumblog. Because of my great passion for books, I have decided to start a blog entirely devoted to my reviews. 

In my reviews, I will use goodreads’ rating system. It’s easy to use, and I also find that it has the added bonus of not presuming to actually rate the value of the work. It is just my opinion, and I don’t presume that my opinion is the be-all-end-all! For those not familiar with goodreads’ rating system, this is how it works:

One star–I didn’t like it.
Two stars–It was okay.
Three stars–I liked it.
Four stars–I really liked it.
Five stars–I loved it! 

So, here it goes 🙂