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The Darling Strumpet
The Darling Strumpet
by Gillian Bagwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and interesting fictional biography of Nell Gwyn, 22 Jan 2013
This review is from: The Darling Strumpet (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book. I had never read about Charles II's era before and it has definitely wet my appetite! Now I know more about Nell Gwynn I love her. This is a real rags to riches tale and I enjoyed the fact that it had a very different feel to it from many of the other royal historical fictions I have read - it wasn't all about power and survival. I found all the detail about the theatre fascinating too. I found the excerpts from and details of the plays really interesting and would be interested in taking a closer look at some of these plays at some point.

I had been a bit dubious about this book when I first picked it up but the reviews were all very good so I decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did. I found Gillian's style very readable. I loved the way she described the scenery, even remembering to include the smells as well as the sounds. In this sense this book reminded me of Water for Elephants, which I remember also had a great level of sensual detail. I felt I got a really good feel for what London was like at this time and the struggle that a large part of the population would have gone through just to stay alive.

I found the latter-middle part of the book slowed a bit and I did find it a bit annoying at the end that the author described Nell as feeling a sense of loss each time just before she found out about another loss.

But this book did fully capture my imagination. I fell in love with the main character, was intrigued by Charles II, his other mistresses and the theatre. I felt fully immersed in the times. This has left me wanting to read more historical fiction of this era and learn more of the real historical facts of the time too. It has also left me keen to read more from Gillian Bagwell.


The Captive Queen
The Captive Queen
Price: £3.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Good intro to Eleanor of Aquitaine, 22 Jan 2013
This review is from: The Captive Queen (Kindle Edition)
I have seen many mixed reviews about this book but I enjoyed it. I believe it showed a stereotyped character for Eleanor of Aquitaine and didn't perhaps explore her motives in as much depth as I would have liked but went with the 'rumour' version of her. However I found the book read at a good pace and gave a good overview of the story of Eleanor and Henry. It is a good introduction for someone like me who likes to start building up a picture with the fictional accounts and then delve into the historical facts when I feel more comfortable and familiar with the stories to see what actually is accurate. So far this is the second fictional account I have read of Eleanor and I have also read the chapter on her in Lisa Hilton's Queen's Consort. I found the book very enjoyable, enjoyed the detail provided about the era, although would have liked more of this and didn't find the sexual scenes over powering as some have commented. I do not read romance novels and did not feel this had degenerated into a rompy romance as some have commented. There were some references within the text that became repetitive but not to the extent that you will find within Philippa Gregory novels. It was also clunky in some aspects where the author had charatcers retelling stories/legends of the past.

I am left liking Eleanor's character and wanting to read more about her. As a fairly new Plantagenet reader this has also wet my appetite for more from the family ie Richard and John and more about courts and general life in this era. I do feel a little confused about Henry ii and don't feel I understand his character through reading this book.
Personally I would recommend the book as an enjoyable read. I have given it four stars as I enjoyed it, couldn't put it down and read through it very quickly


The Ghost of Lily Painter
The Ghost of Lily Painter
Price: £3.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Good captivating read but too predictable, 22 Jan 2013
As an obsessive amateur genealogist and a lover of historical fiction I really enjoyed this book. It was a good story with a unique plot although a bit predictable. I found the scenes of early 1900s very interesting especially the awful baby farming. However it was a feel good novel by the end. I was hooked towards the end and ended up having a long bath to finish the book. It was an enjoyable easy read but I have given this three because of the predictability.


The Winter Palace (A novel of the young Catherine the Great)
The Winter Palace (A novel of the young Catherine the Great)
Price: £3.66

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and slow, 22 Jan 2013
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I found this book very slow and gossipy and it took me a long time to read. I did however enjoy reading about Poland, Russia and Russian court - this is not an area of history I have ever read about before. The characters of Elizabeth, Peter and Catherine were intriguing and I will go on to investigate further. Although I was frustrated that this book didn't focus on Catherine as much as I wanted it to. I liked the characters of Varvara and Darya though. I found once Elizabeth had died the book picked up pace and became more interesting. If it had been that pace all the way through I would have certainly rated it higher. Not sure I would recommend this though as it was painfully slow in places.


Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo
Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Gentle and good English humour, 22 Jan 2013
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I really enjoyed this gentle book. It was very English, full of great humour and the characters were very loveable. A nice easy read but a great story.


Madame Verona Comes Down The Hill
Madame Verona Comes Down The Hill
Price: £6.65

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Touching and witty, 22 Jan 2013
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An easy read with a sort of witty amusing humour - not laugh out loud but similar humour to that in The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window. Not a huge amount happens in this book, as is to be expected when you know the vague outline of the story. However I found it a touching read with interesting insight into the end of a life.


The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (WOMEN IN HISTORY)
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (WOMEN IN HISTORY)
Price: £8.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good easy history, 22 Jan 2013
I listened to an audio version of this whilst doing household chores and cooking etc. I found it very easy to listen to and a good balanced account of the wives. I liked the little extra details about the Queens that were mentioned. I would recommend this as a fairly easy historical nook about the six wives and will definately read more Antonia Fraser in the future.


The Autobiography Of Henry VIII
The Autobiography Of Henry VIII
Price: £4.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Long but very worthwhile read, 22 Jan 2013
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This book took me 11 weeks to read! It is big! There were times when I read through really fast and when I couldn't put it down and others that slowed. However, I realy enjoyed this book and it is interesting to imagine the events of Henry Viii's life through his own perspective. There were times when I disliked the guy and times when I really felt for him, overall I have ended up with a much softer opionon of him being a much troubled man with a difficult life and not having the right personal tools and skills to deal with it. It was very interesting to see him aging over time and becoming reflective and affected by the previous acts of his life. I was disappointed that the relationship with Katherine Parr seemed so distant - I guess this may have been the case but it was portreyed differently to the traditional view of her as his nurse. I will need to investigate this relationship a bit more I think! I definately recommend this book as a great historical fiction account of his life and whilst it took me a long time to read it was definately worth persevering with and spending all that time and energy on!


Zentangle® Basics
Zentangle® Basics
by CZT Suzanne McNeill
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good starter guide but too thin, 8 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Zentangle® Basics (Paperback)
A good starter guide but as per other reviews rather thin (especially for price) and only provides quite a limited number of patterns.


Lonely Planet Jamaica (Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Jamaica (Travel Guide)
Price: £9.26

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful information guide, 8 Nov 2012
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Tgia guide was quite useful. I especially enjoyed the history & culture section was very informative. The information about what to do in Jamaica was good but a bit frustrating as it was organised by region and there was no index so if you had heard of an attraction and wanted to know more it was hard to find if you didn't know where it was on the island.. An index so you could look up attractions by name would have made all the difference to this guide. Some of the info was a little out of date but no book can be current for long I guess!


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