Book Review: The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir

the life of elizabeth IInfo:
Title: The Life of Elizabeth I
Author: Alison Weir
Release Date: October 5, 1999
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Source: Own
Series? No
Genre: Biography
Page Count: 560

Summary:

Perhaps the most influential sovereign England has ever known, Queen Elizabeth I remained an extremely private person throughout her reign, keeping her own counsel and sharing secrets with no one–not even her closest, most trusted advisers. Now, in this brilliantly researched, fascinating new book, acclaimed biographer Alison Weir shares provocative new interpretations and fresh insights on this enigmatic figure.

Against a lavish backdrop of pageantry and passion, intrigue and war, Weir dispels the myths surrounding Elizabeth I and examines the contradictions of her character. Elizabeth I loved the Earl of Leicester, but did she conspire to murder his wife? She called herself the Virgin Queen, but how chaste was she through dozens of liaisons? She never married–was her choice to remain single tied to the chilling fate of her mother, Anne Boleyn? An enthralling epic that is also an amazingly intimate portrait, The Life of Elizabeth I is a mesmerizing, stunning reading experience. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
I’ve read a lot of Alison Weir’s books on the Tudors (five in the past few weeks), and The Life of Elizabeth I is the worst I’ve ever read. Instead of a biography, I feel like I was reading a soap opera, or an episode of the Bachelorette. A gigantic chunk of the book was taken up by Elizabeth’s betrothals, and while I understand that those were a part of her attempts to keep England in good diplomatic relationships, it just wasn’t well done.

I had a ton of confusion while reading, for a few reasons. Anytime a person gained a new title, such as when Robert Dudley became the Earl of Leicester, he was referred to as Leicester after. It was hard to remember who was who, and who had what title. The passage of time was another big headache. The biography is poorly organized. I had no sense of the chronology of Elizabeth’s reign, nor how old she was when many of the events occurred.

The Life of Elizabeth I isn’t about her life. It’s about the lives of everyone around her, and all their petty dramas. I learned virtually nothing, and as someone that has enjoyed Alison Weir’s other books, I was shocked by the poor quality of this one.

Rating: 1 owl

Socialize with the author:
Alison Weir:
Website

– leeanna

Book Review: Desires Revealed by Rebeka Harrington

desires revealedInfo:
Title: Desires Revealed
Author: Rebeka Harrington
Release Date: June 21, 2012
Publisher: Self-Published
Source: Bought
Series? #2
Series Reviews:
#1: Vampires Revealed
Genre: Paranormal, Fiction, Romance, LGBT
Page Count: 128

Summary:

Escape from the religious war leads Nicole and her family to the most unlikely rescuer, a vampire. Nicole discovers love and a new life, but finds herself inexplicably drawn in to a private war between her protector and an extremist faction of vampires.

The deeper she gets involved in the vampire world the higher the price she will have to pay to obtain her desires.

Rejoin “Vampires Revealed” narrator Bektamun, in Paris 1572, at the height of the religious war between Catholics and Hugeunots, the day of the St Bartholomew’s Massacre. Discover the story behind her rescue of the Gervais family. How Nicole became her Avetser and was made vampire. Desires Revealed will also introduce you to Oskar, leader of the Eleiveb. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
Desires Revealed is the love story of Bektamun (from Vampires Revealed) and her Avetser, Nicole. It’s sweet yet dangerous, just as you’d expect love between a vampire and human to be.

Bektamun rescues Nicole and her family during the religious wars between Catholics and Huguenots. Although Nicole is a child at the time, she’s entranced by Bektamun, mainly because Bektamun is unlike any woman Nicole has ever met. As Nicole grows up, she envies Bektamun’s freedom — I liked that Nicole didn’t want to marry and have children, as was expected of her in that time period (~1570-1590).

The growing relationship between Bektamun and Nicole allows the author to examine differences in vampire and human thoughts. As explained in Vampires Revealed, vampires do not care about the gender of their partner, but the person’s character. In Elizabethan England, it’s not exactly proper for two women to love each other, and Bektamun is very careful to not prejudice or cajole Nicole into a relationship. Instead, because Nicole was raised in a prejudice free household, and had the opinions of a strong woman, she wasn’t affected by the societal pressures of her time.

I really liked Desires Revealed. My only real complaint? I wished that it had been longer! I would have liked to see more interactions between Bektamun and Nicole after Nicole’s transformation into a vampire. Because the book is told from their alternating viewpoints, it would have been interesting to see Nicole’s thoughts as a newbie vampire versus Bektamun’s thousands of years of experience. And I just wanted to read more about them.

I did note at least one historical inaccuracy, something that even a quick Wikipedia search would have corrected. There were a few grammar mistakes, but overall, a very readable story.

Rating: 4 owls

Socialize with the author:
Rebeka Harrington:
Website
Twitter

– leeanna

Waiting on Wednesday: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (@marissa_meyer)

scarletScarlet by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: February 5, 2013

Book two, Scarlet, is based on Little Red Riding Hood. It continues Cinder’s story as she attempts to escape Queen Levana’s vengeance and learn more about her past. The story also introduces readers to Scarlet, a girl living in southern France whose grandmother has mysteriously disappeared. In order to find her, Scarlet seeks the help of Wolf, a street fighter with more than a few mysteries of his own. (summary from goodreads)

I loved Cinder. Loved, loved, LOVED it. There are not enough words to express my admiration and adoration of it. It is one of my top two favorite Cinderella retellings. I’ve been waiting on Scarlet for what feels like forever. I can’t wait to see what the author does with Little Red Riding Hood!

Socialize with the author:
Website
Facebook
Twitter @marissa_meyer

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

– leeanna

Fit Owl Tuesdays: Week 1

Welcome to a new feature here at www.leeanna.me. I debated starting a second blog about fitness, but I’d rather put my time and energy into one blog. I’m sure I’m not the only book blogger that’s also into fitness ;)

My first update for 2013 is not much of one at all. I have been sick pretty much since December 25, and today is the first day I’ve not needed a nap after doing two things.

One of my goals for this year is to run a half-marathon. I’m admittedly a long way from that, but last night I found there is a race reasonably close to me in May. I’m wondering if I can train for it? If I’m feeling optimistic at the end of the week I’ll probably sign up. Go big or go home!

My fitness plans for this week involve taking it easy. I’ve found some yoga videos on Youtube that I intend trying, and I might, might do some walking on the treadmill later in the week. The last thing I want to do is overdo anything and end up sick again right away.

– leeanna

Book Review: Vampires Revealed by Rebeka Harrington

vampires revealedInfo:
Title: Vampires Revealed
Author: Rebeka Harrington
Release Date: September 5, 2011
Publisher: Self-Published
Source: Bought
Series? #1
Series Reviews:
#2: Desires Revealed
Genre: Paranormal, Fiction
Page Count: 106

Summary:

Leave behind your preconceived ideas, forget the horror stories and disregard everything you think you know about vampires.

For centuries the debate has raged; are vampires real? There has been plenty of myth and superstition regarding vampires but not a lot of truth or answers. In a unique piece of work, Bektamun a 3000 year old vampire, puts to rest all the myth and finally reveals the truth about the legendary creatures known across the globe as vampires.

Vampires Revealed is a journey of discovery. Never before have humans had and an opportunity such as this. To know the unadulterated truth, for every question you may have ever had about vampires to be answered. (summary from amazon)

My Review:
In Vampires Revealed, the 3,000 year old vampire Bektamun sets the story straight about vampires. In a story reminiscent of Interview with the Vampire, Bektamun shares her fascinating history, as well as reveals which vampires myths are true and which are false.

At about 100 pages, Vampires Revealed is pretty short. I would have liked more on Bektamun’s past, since from the tidbits she shares, I think she has had quite the interesting life. The book mostly focuses on dispelling vampire myths, such as vampires not being able to cross running water or being repelled by garlic.

The author is quite inventive, and has come up with an explanation for the existence of vampires that I haven’t read before. I would like to see her take this work and expand on it, using the vampire mythology she created to write a longer tale.

There were are a few grammar issues, not many, but I think this book would have benefited from another pass of proofreading. They don’t detract from the story; I’m just a picky reader and common mistakes can jolt me out of a narrative.

Rating: 3 owls

Socialize with the author:
Rebeka Harrington:
Website
Twitter

– leeanna

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #41

Last Week’s Reads:
The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner

This Week’s Reads:
Counting One’s Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother edited by William Shawcross

A late post today. I’m having some blog frustration — I broke the RSS feed and can’t figure out how to fix it. I also found out something disappointing about Facebook pages, which has me annoyed and debating if I actually want to continue to try and promote a Facebook page for this blog. Apparently, pages liking pages doesn’t up the like count, only personal accounts liking pages ups the count. How dumb is that? I’m debating making a second personal Facebook account and using that, because I like keeping things separate and organized, even though I make no secret of my identity on this blog.

Any suggestions?

The one good thing is that I’m finally over the flu! It knocked me on my butt for almost a week and a half. Here’s hoping next week I have a longer list of books read!

♦♦ indicates books received for review

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Journey.

The YA linky list for It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.

– leeanna

Inside the Nest: Week 2

What a week! I barely remember most of it. Thanks to getting the flu, I think I slept at least two days out of the past seven, if not more. I couldn’t even read or watch movies, because I had a horrible headache the majority of the time. I missed out on 99% of Bout of Books 6.0 :( . I’m going to try to do a readathon once a month or so, so I’ll make up for it in the future.

I’ve somehow managed to fork up the RSS feed for the blog. I’m not sure that happened, so I’m not sure how to fix it. Fingers crossed that I don’t have to reinstall WordPress. I think I’ll be bringing back my Linky Followers widget, and aside from the Facebook page which I’ll be promoting more, I’m not sure how else to really track followers. Bloggers on blogspot have it easy, with GFC! I could do an email newsletter, but I don’t know.

– leeanna

Book Review: The Second Empress by Michelle Moran

the second empressInfo:
Title: The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon’s Court
Author: Michelle Moran
Release Date: August 14, 2012
Publisher: Crown
Source: NetGalley
Series? No
Genre: Historical Fiction
Page Count: 312

Summary:

After the bloody French Revolution, Emperor Napoleon’s power is absolute. When Marie-Louise, the eighteen year old daughter of the King of Austria, is told that the Emperor has demanded her hand in marriage, her father presents her with a terrible choice: marry the cruel, capricious Napoleon, leaving the man she loves and her home forever, or say no, and plunge her country into war.

Marie-Louise knows what she must do, and she travels to France, determined to be a good wife despite Napoleon’s reputation. But lavish parties greet her in Paris, and at the extravagant French court, she finds many rivals for her husband’s affection, including Napoleon’s first wife, Joséphine, and his sister Pauline, the only woman as ambitious as the emperor himself. Beloved by some and infamous to many, Pauline is fiercely loyal to her brother. She is also convinced that Napoleon is destined to become the modern Pharaoh of Egypt. Indeed, her greatest hope is to rule alongside him as his queen—a brother-sister marriage just as the ancient Egyptian royals practiced. Determined to see this dream come to pass, Pauline embarks on a campaign to undermine the new empress and convince Napoleon to divorce Marie-Louise.

As Pauline’s insightful Haitian servant, Paul, watches these two women clash, he is torn between his love for Pauline and his sympathy for Marie-Louise. But there are greater concerns than Pauline’s jealousy plaguing the court of France. While Napoleon becomes increasingly desperate for an heir, the empire’s peace looks increasingly unstable. When war once again sweeps the continent and bloodshed threatens Marie-Louise’s family in Austria, the second Empress is forced to make choices that will determine her place in history—and change the course of her life.

Based on primary resources from the time, The Second Empress takes readers back to Napoleon’s empire, where royals and servants alike live at the whim of one man, and two women vie to change their destinies. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
While I had heard of Michelle Moran years ago, The Second Empress is the first book of hers that I’ve read. It’s an easy read, and sort of addicting while you’re reading, but it’s too short and ultimately forgettable.

The Second Empress is the story of Marie-Louise, an archduchess forced to marry Napoleon Bonaparte to prevent war in Austria. The book is told from three viewpoints: Marie-Louise; Pauline, Napoleon’s sister; and Paul, Pauline’s manservant. The alternating viewpoints was both a plus and a minus for me. A plus because each character had a distinct personality, and a minus because I didn’t think Paul’s viewpoint was necessary.

Setting up the marriage between Napoleon and Marie-Louise takes up the bulk of the book, and then before you know it, years of their marriage have flown by with barely any notice. Looking back, I can’t remember much about the second half of the book.

The character I was most interested in was Pauline, not Marie-Louise. Moran’s writing shined in Pauline’s sections, because Pauline had a fascination with ancient Egypt. Compared to her, Marie-Louise was somewhat of a bland character. Add in Paul’s sections, which focused mainly on Pauline, and I think a book about Napoleon’s sister would have been better than one about his second wife.

The Second Empress needed to be longer. With so much time spent on the set up, the ending of the book is too rushed. I felt like things were just getting started, and bam, the book was over.

Rating: 2 owls

Socialize with the author:
Michelle Moran:
Website
Facebook

– leeanna

Book Review: God Save the Queen by Kate Locke

god save the queenInfo:
Title: God Save the Queen
Author: Kate Locke
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Publisher: Orbit
Source: NetGalley
Series? The Immortal Empire #1
Genre: Steampunk, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Alternate History
Page Count: 354

Summary:

Queen Victoria rules with an immortal fist.

The undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath), Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day, and leeches are considered a delicacy. And a world where technology lives side by side with magic. The year is 2012 and Pax Britannia still reigns.

Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it is her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But when her sister goes missing, Xandra will set out on a path that undermines everything she believed in and uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire. And she is the key-the prize in a very dangerous struggle. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
God Save the Queen was marketed as steampunk, but it’s not. I’d call it urban fantasy. There are a few steampunkish touches, but mostly, the author gives modern technology old names and a few twists. There’s even a glossary so you can figure out what’s what, and the author explains the world she’s created before the book starts.

The author has some great ideas; I envy her creativity. Taking a popular historical period — Victorian England — and tossing in supernatural creatures, alternate history, and a ton of other stuff should have been a recipe for greatness. It almost was, with some hiccups. The book was packed full of information dumps, because there was so much stuff. I almost felt as though the book should have been split into two, because there was so much going on. The writing came across as juvenile at times, with reminding the reader of things we already knew. Example: the intense focus on food. Yeah, halvies are hungry, I get that. But I don’t want to read countless scenes of them having meals.

Xandra is a great character. She’s a kick butt, take no names kind of girl — my favorite. I liked her loyalty to her sister, and her determination to find out the truth of what really happened. Plus, I just liked her personality — let’s call it colorful.

The relationship between Xandra and Ven, leader of the werewolves, happens super fast. It’s almost insta-love of the YA variety. That’s something that usually bugs me, but for once, I was okay with it. Ven is a great guy, protective of Xandra, and he can cook. I was happy to have one person looking out for Xandra with the world-shattering events she went through.

God Save the Queen had its flaws, but overall, I enjoyed reading it. I’ll be back for more. Who could resist Queen Victoria as a vampire? Not me!

I do have to comment on the cover — it’s fantastic! It’s not often that the girl on the cover matches the main character, and kudos to the publisher for making that happen.

Rating: 3 owls

Socialize with the author:
Kate Locke:
Website
Twitter

– leeanna

Waiting on Wednesday: Poison by Bridget Zinn

Poison by Bridget Zinn
Release Date: March 12, 2013

A teen girl finds herself a would-be assassin, hunting down her former best friend, the princess of the realm, via the aid of an enchanted piglet. (summary from goodreads)

Presumably more of a summary will come out when the book is closer to release, but what little there is already caught my eye. Assassin? Yes. An enchanted piglet? Yay! I read a fantasy book a long time ago, The Pig, the Prince, and the Unicorn, that featured a magic pig and it was a fun read. So that has me looking forward to this, and finding out more about that piglet.

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.