Addition: Audiobook
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Why would a woman marry a serial killer?

Because she cannot refuse…

Kateryn Parr, a thirty-year-old widow in a secret affair with a new lover, has no choice when a man old enough to be her father who has buried four wives – King Henry VIII – commands her to marry him.

Kateryn has no doubt about the danger she faces: the previous queen lasted sixteen months, the one before barely half a year. But Henry adores his new bride and Kateryn’s trust in him grows as she unites the royal family, creates a radical study circle at the heart of the court, and rules the kingdom as regent.

But is this enough to keep her safe? A leader of religious reform and a published author, Kateryn stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own. But she cannot save the Protestants, under threat for their faith, and Henry’s dangerous gaze turns on her.The traditional churchmen and rivals for power accuse her of heresy – the punishment is death by fire and the king’s name is on the warrant…

From an author who has described all of Henry’s queens comes a deeply intimate portrayal of the last: a woman who longed for passion, power and education at the court of a medieval killer.

This is number 4 in the Tudor Court series by Philippa Gregory, and the star of this novel is Kateryn Parr – Henry VIII’s six and final wife. Shortly after her second husband dies, she is summoned to court to marry the King. The problem is, he is a very dangerous man. He has killed two wives, watched one die in child birth and divorced two others. If he gets bored of you, he can get rid of you, no questions asked. Kateryn has to be very careful in all she does. However, she is ambitious. She wants to see reform to the church, she wants to study and she wants to write. Plus, she is in love with another man; but if this knowledge gets out she could die.

I think I have enjoyed all the novels by Philippa Gregory that I have read, and this one is no exception. It wasn’t my favourite though. There were times when I felt the storyline was a bit slow and I found myself losing a bit of interest. However, the ending made up for it. It was dramatic and tense. It is common knowledge that Parr survives the King, but I found myself desperate to know she does it, as he is not happy with her all the time. The drama and suspense was really good. There were elements of this story I didn’t like though. I didn’t find the sex scenes added anything to the story. They were a bit too descriptive for my liking, and too frequent.

As a Christian, I did find the church debate throughout the book really interesting. Henry VIII made the Church of England, and placed himself at the head of it, when he wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon. As an old man though, he was still thinking of the changes he could make the church – does he make the country Catholic again, or does he go down the Lutheran way of thinking? Kateryn was a reformer, but not all of Henry’s advisors were, and she found herself walking a difficult and potentially dangerous path.

I wasn’t a massive fan of Kateryn. She was quite arrogant and proud. However, she was the only queen to unite the Tudor children, so she should be commended for that. I really didn’t like Henry. He was a mean, vindictive and untrusting man, who would kill you without any thought. Goodness, you wouldn’t want to be in Parr’s position – having to marry him because he is King, then spending all her time trying to stay alive. There were scenes in the book I didn’t like much either – particularly how Henry punished Kateryn.

I am rating this book 3 out of 5. As I have said, there were times in this book I lost interest, but overall, this was a good read. I didn’t know much about Parr, so it was an education for me. I also found the theology debates really interesting. The outcome of this book was obviously not a surprise, but it was a good read nevertheless; and I will be looking to read the other books in the Tudor Court series.

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Book number 47 was in fact an audiobook! I wanted to listen to a book whilst I worked hard on making my Mum’s Christmas present so decided to listen to Frank E. Peretti because someone had said to me that Katy Hollway‘s novels are similar to his – and as I enjoy Hollway’s books I thought I would try out Peretti. I am pleased I did, I found this a really enjoyable book to listen too. It was engaging, full of action, with twists and turns. This is not young adult fiction like Hollway but so enjoyable. I have another Peretti book on my shelf which I am looking forward to reading (even though it is MASSIVE!)

Addition: Audiobook
Genre: Christian, fantasy
Published: 1986
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Book number 37 is Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first book in the Cormoran Strike series. Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym, the author of this novel also goes by J. K. Rowling! And what a novel it is…!

I have read all the Harry Potter novels, and loved them – I even queued at midnight for the release of the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – so when I discovered that Robert Galbraith was actually Rowling, I was eager to read this book. Recently, I have found my reading tastes have changed a little. In the past, I wouldn’t have read a detective novel, for fear of it scaring me I think, yet over the past year or so I have started to really enjoy them. This book is no different. I started it as an audiobook, but about halfway in, I was so eager to find out what happens in the end, I downloaded the book and read it much quicker than it would have been read to me. I really enjoyed this book, I couldn’t put it down. I recommended it to my Mum (no surprises there!) and she also enjoyed it. This is such a good read – and not at all like Harry Potter!

Addition: E-book and audiobook
Genre: Mystery, crime, detective
Published: 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Book number 14 for me in 2014 was Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam, which is the 40th book in his Discworld series. I have read all 40 of these books and enjoyed each one of them. A large part of me is tempted to start them again from the beginning – what a fabulous series to re-read!

I have seen plenty of poor reviews for this novel, and I won’t write too much now, but suffice to say, I liked it! I did think that Sir Terry managed to mention almost every major character he has based a novel on – except the Witches – and that did leave me wondering if this is the last Discworld novel, which would be sad although understandable. There was a lot happening in this book, but I really enjoyed it. I listened to the audiobook version and I liked Steven Brigg’s narration. I have rated this 4 out of 5. I love the Discworld books.

Addition: Audiobook
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Synopsis:

“Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “All the monsters are coming back.””Why?” said Tiffany.

“There’s no one to stop them.

There was silence for a moment.

Then Tiffany said, “There’s me.”

Armed only with a frying pan and her common sense, Tiffany Aching, a young witch-to-be, is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and the warm, green Chalk country that is her home. Forced into Fairyland to seek her kidnaped brother, Tiffany allies herself with the Chalk’s local Nac Mac Feegle — aka the Wee Free Men — a clan of sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men who are as fierce as they are funny. Together they battle through an eerie and ever-shifting landscape, fighting brutal flying fairies, dream-spinning dromes, and grimhounds — black dogs with eyes of fire and teeth of razors — before ultimately confronting the Queen of the Elves, absolute ruler of a world in which reality intertwines with nightmare. And in the final showdown, Tiffany must face her cruel power alone….

This is book number 30 in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novel. This is a Tiffany Aching novel, a young adult twist on the Witches novels. Tiffany is called upon to rescue her brother from the Queen in an alternative universe and for help she has the Wee Free Men and a Toad. She calls upon powers she didn’t know she possessed – the witch in her comes out as she fights the Queen of the Elves with just a frying pan.

I found this story slow to start but by half way through I was hooked. The Wee Free Men are hilarious! I loved that they just wanted to drink and fight! The end made me laugh, when poor Rob Anyone thought he might have to marry Tiffany – his fear was funny! I liked Tiffany too. She was headstrong, determined and inventive. She kept fighting and wouldn’t let anyone take/insult her brother – although it was OK for her too.

As usual, Pratchett has written a fantastic novel. It is funny, full of action and with great characters. I would have liked Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax to feature more in this book but Tiffany was a delightful character. This is aimed at young adults but that doesn’t come through or ruin this book. This has everything you would expect from Pratchett and is well worth reading.

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Synopsis from Librivox:

What Katy Did is a children’s book written by Susan Coolidge, the pen name of Sarah Chauncey Woolsey. It follows the adventures of Katy Carr and her family, growing up in America in the 1860s. Katy is a tall, untidy tomboy, forever getting into scrapes but wishing to be beautiful and beloved. When a terrible accident makes her an invalid, her illness and recovery gradually teach her to be as good and kind as she has always wanted.

I remember having this when I was little, simply because my name is Katie too (although note the different spelling) and I don’t think I ever read it. That all changed when I decided to read some of the Wordsworth Children’s Classics. I liked this book and I will read the next two, although this has not been my favourite from the classics.

The story follows Katy Carr as she does some serious growing up. At the beginning of the book she is carefree, and although not inconsiderate, she thinks more about fun than looking out for others. Then she is struck down by what at first seems to be a cold, and it finds her bedridden for over a year. There are some big changes in the house while she is ill and all this leads her to grow up and accept more responsibility.

This is a nice story and liked the subtle changes in Katy’s character. This story starts full of fun and adventure and as the story progresses there is a lesson in how to deal with what life throws at you and about how to step up and stop wallowing in self-pity. There is a good message in this book and I think children will learn from it.

As an adult I liked this. It wasn’t the best I have read but it is worth reading. It is an interesting story with some lovely characters and I think parents and children alike should read this book.

I downloaded this book from: http://librivox.org/what-katy-did-by-susan-coolidge/

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Waterstones Synopsis:

Martyrs to hypochondria and general seediness, J. and his friends George and Harris decide that a jaunt up the Thames would suit them to a ‘T’. But when they set off, they can hardly predict the troubles that lie ahead with tow-ropes, unreliable weather-forecasts and tins of pineapple chunks – not to mention the devastation left in the wake of J.’s small fox-terrier Montmorency. “Three Men in a Boat” was an instant success when it appeared in 1889, and, with its benign escapism, authorial discursions and wonderful evocation of the late-Victorian ‘clerking classes’, it hilariously captured the spirit of its age.

I really enjoyed this book! I mean, what is there not to like? Snobby men who suffer from a severe case of hypochondria who believe they can cope with a trip down the Thames in a boat. The storyline is great. The author Jerome K. Jerome is a talented writer who kept me entertained all the way through.

I loved the commentary of the journey. Everything they saw had a story and the recollection of them made me laugh. These men thought they were more superior and their thoughts on the surrounding areas where very entertaining. The synopsis says this book was an instant success and it is easy to see why.

My favourite chapter was probably involving tie-ropes. I loved the idea of girls pulling boats along, and then getting distracted and letting the boats drift into the middle of the river. I laughed at how these men were happy to annoy larger boats and fellow sailors.

I loved these men simply because of their attitudes. They believed they could cope – although they also believed they had life-threatening diseases; and following their story was great fun. This is well worth reading!

4/5

Audiobook downloaded from: http://librivox.org/three-men-in-a-boat-by-jerome-k-jerome/

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