Book Review: The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory

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Title: The Other Boleyn Girl
Author: Philippa Gregory
Date Read: February-September 2016
Date Reviewed: September 11th, 2016
Spoilers Ahead?: Yes

Introduction: A long time ago I wanted to watch the movie adaption (with Natalie Portman) of this book, but once I rented it and noticed there was a book I decided to not watch the film and try to find the novel. That was way back when the film came out, so it’s been a long time trying to find the book (and forgetting about the book the minute I got to the book store…whoops!). When I finally got to reading it, the book took me months (literally months, look at the date read…) to finish this book. Why? Because it starts off slow and explains every detail you can imagine! But overall, it was a good book and I want to read the rest of them!

A lot of my criticism is based on the historical accuracy, but it is also in how the writer displayed these characters. For example, Anne is said to have been a strong and not evil woman in real life, yet she seemed to be quite spineless and conniving in the novel. I would have loved to see a stronger character, since the one we got doesn’t appear to be as fleshed out as Philippa might have liked.

Quick Summary: Mary and Anne Boleyn are sisters during Henry the VIII’s reign. Mary falls in love with Henry, and begins to enjoy the life of royalty. But what happens when Anne decides to take her place? With both the girls being pawns in their family’s  game, drama sorts to ensue on all levels.

This book was (loosely) based on historical facts – Henry VIII did reign, and both of the women were his lovers. But (obviously) the conversations and exact events that happen in the novel did not happen in real life.

Evaluations: I enjoyed this book once I got closer to the end. I won’t lie and say it was all sunshine and roses all the way through, in fact it started off rather boring for me. All the explaining and slow introduction of the characters made me want to put the book down. But, I was determined to finish this book because I want to watch the movie. Once I got through the first 3/4s of the book, I became totally obsessed. The drama, love triangles, the arguments, the sex scenes, all of it combined made the book suddenly pick up speed and become almost like a historical soap opera.

I did enjoy learning a bit about history through this book. While not all the history is accurate and I fact checked after I read, it gave me an interesting insight (despite the fictional aspects of the story). After reading this, it made me want to research Henry the VIII and all of his wives and children.

Overall, while it was a slow starter, it was very insightful. Philippa Gregory did an incredible job of getting me interested in history!

Plot: The plot was a slow start, as I’ve said numerous times already. It takes a while to get into the book, but once you do you don’t regret it (well, you might. It’s a long book).  The plot follows Mary and Anne Boleyn, with Mary being the first courting the King. This part was not as interesting as Anne’s courting which occurs later in the book. I would have loved Philippa to expand on Mary’s relationship with the King to give the reader a bit more passion and love towards their relationship. Even later in the novel the King acts as if almost nothing happened with Mary, and that left me feeling cheated. The King really threw his women away like that? He never treated his wife Katherine like Mary, just treating her like some commoner. He at least talked to her…
Anne’s courting was far more interesting, and dramatic. The involvement of her brother George also made the reader question what was going on (did they actually sleep together? Was this just comments?).
I found I did not totally like the ending. Suddenly the entire court thought George and Anne had slept together, but the reader never really saw these rumors flying around. I understand that Philippa probably had to finish her book at a certain word count, but the sudden change in plot to the sad ending made me feel cheated as well.

Characters: There were many characters within in novel, but I’m only going to focus on a few.
Mary Boleyn – I liked her better than Anne, but she was definitely not my favourite character in literature. She wasn’t relatable in any sense, even if I was cheering for her over her sister. She reminded me of a “Bella Swan” sort of character (with more emotion and depth). She was there, and you rooted for her, but she could have been a lot better. Throughout the story I felt bad for her constantly – the loss of her relationship with her lover Henry, then the King Henry, then her first husband William, and up until her final marriage to William Stafford, I just felt like the entire story was stacked against her. It was like we were made to feel bad for her, and it wasn’t exactly a choice.

Anne Boleyn – Philippa Gregory must hate Anne Boleyn, because she was the main character and the villain in this novel. She was constantly trying to one up Mary. The woman was conniving, mischievous, she stabbed anyone and everyone in the back to get what she wanted, and it was impossible to like her. After researching, I discovered that most historians say Anne was quite sweet, much like Mary was for the novel. It was disappointing to see a character who I wanted to like to be so evil, but there needed to be a villain in this book. I also found that the book described Anne as being cheerful and witty, yet she never portrayed that. She was often very nasty to her sister and was always expecting to get everything she wanted. Her seduction of the King also seemed very lame in the long run. She had never known a man that she loved like the King? Never even a school girl’s crush? And suddenly she was asking everyone and their Mother how to woo, and seemed to be totally innocent. I doubt the total ignorance on her part. This also made her seem like an odd character – so manipulative and nasty, but a sweet and innocent girl? That didn’t connect well with me.
When you read up about Anne and how she gave birth to the Queen of England (Queen Elizabeth the First) you see how strong she actually was. I would have loved to see her be a stronger character. Her daughter became the Queen! This woman must have an incredible back story, and she does. This book doesn’t show this, and that lets my English heritage down.

Henry VIII – I felt like Henry was a total throwaway character. He was essentially just a means to an end, and not the character he could have been. He was some toy for both the women to sleep with to gain power and he seemed to have less strength than the women. I was always under the impression that the King’s ruled over all and were very strong, but Henry seemed very wimpy. His wife Katherine seemed to have more strength than he did, and that made him quite pathetic.

Themes/Creativity:
Witchcraft was a part of this novel, and it appears out of nowhere (like a lot of things in this novel). It appears to be a way to get rid of George and Anne since they die in real life, so they obviously have to die in the fictional novelization of their lives as well. If this would have been introduced earlier in the novel, even if just in stories and tales told to children, I would have liked this aspect of the book more. It seemed like a cop out.
The incest was also very strange. I understand it was a theory in their live’s made in historical books, but George and Anne suddenly becoming incestuous also seemed weird. It was hinted at, with a bit of foreshadowing earlier in the novel, but it could have been portrayed so much better.
The family issues also could have been made so much better. Anne and Mary constantly fight and try to one up each other, yet Mary does what Anne says and Anne still wants Mary’s help. Two sisters who hate each other as much as these women do wouldn’t help each other out, in my opinion. If they had little spats here and there it would be understandable, but the loyalty and changed in personalities when they need to like each other was incredibly strange.

Uniqueness: Compared to more historical accurate novels, this book is unique! Anne is evil, Mary isn’t strong, there’s incest and witchcraft and drama! It’s unique! It gives a very different spin on this story, which makes Philippa a great novelist. If so many people read this, despite the historical inaccuracy and enjoyed it, she has done a great job! I applaud her for this novel despite it’s troubles. It truly is a beautiful read! Don’t discount the issues I found within it anything other than constructive criticism! Philippa Gregory did a fantastic job making this novel and I want to read more of her books to see how she grew (since this was the first book written in the series).

Strengths: The love stories were a great strength. Philippa should write Harlequin romance novels! This book is almost like a historical Pretty Little Liars or Desperate Housewives! Which seems fitting, since there is a Tudors series on television….

Weaknesses: Character growth. I found these characters stale and their descriptions in accurate. A conniving, evil woman is sweet and virginal? That’s definitely two sets of traits I wouldn’t necessarily put together. A witty and caring woman suddenly becomes wicked towards her sister every time she sees her? Hmm, that doesn’t make much sense either…

Score: 3 out of 5 stars.
I enjoyed this book and I will read the rest of the series (it will probably take me a decade, but I’ll get there), but it had it’s issues.

Quick Book Review: Perfectly Flawed by Shakeerah Oatis

Perfectly Flawed was an interesting take on a soap-opera like family.

I enjoyed Perfectly Flawed for it’s story, but it definitely had it’s “flaws” (sorry, the puns are to hard to hold back on this one) that left me feeling cheated as a reader.

The story itself focuses on the African American Community and some of the stereotypes and flaws within these stereotypes – teenage mothers, mental illness, etc. It’s taboo to discuss these topics, so children grow up and end up repeating the same mistakes. We follow Adrian and her daughter Aaliyah, and discover where secrets can lead a family.

The story is realistic – a teenage mother who didn’t want a child but ended up in a bad situation. It opens my eyes to a world I don’t know about, and the plot was a great idea!

But – there is a but – my print version of this had many grammatical errors. These errors had words missing, the wrong word choice/spelling, and run-on sentences. The errors made it super hard to read, and it made me feel like this book hadn’t gone through the editing process. I may have an ARC, which means the final version of the book would have all of this fixed, but I honestly don’t know if it’s the ARC or a real copy. If these errors were fixed, the book would be perfect and flawless. I love the idea of this story, but it just feels like it wasn’t well written in word choice.

Overall, I’m not totally impressed with my copy of the book. It could have been a spectacular story!

Three out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Quick Book Review: Night of Nyx by Karpov Kinrade

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Night of Nyx is an excellent companion to the Nightfall Chronicles.

This little novella gives a great insight into Zorin. It gives a great deal of information alongside the novel series (of course, you don’t need to read this novella to understand the series, but for readers who are obsessed with this series, it definitely doesn’t hurt!). I think it would be best to read it after House of Ravens.

Zorin’s motivations and Danika are discussed in this novella, and it won’t disappoint the readers. The insight into this character is fantastic, and written in a beautiful perspective! The alternate POVs also makes this novella even better!

Karpov Kinrade wow-ed me yet again! I can’t wait to get my hands on the next novel in the Nightfall series!

Quick Book Review: Song of Kai by Karpov Kinrade

 

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The Nightfall series is by far a swoon worthy set of novels. It not only is a great fictional read, but it takes you away on a mental adventure and leaves you completely breathless.

This bridge novel is no different. Song of Kai, which is between Night of Nyx and Daughter of Strife, takes you away from the real world, into a fantastical, epic realm.

It is in Princess Corinne’s point of view, and gives you an insight into her world. We are introduced to new characters that also give more life to this ever growing fictional world. Emotions run wild in this story, much like the entire series. It will leave you breathless and gripping on to every word that Karpov Kinrade writes.

This novel fills in some holes while you read it, so I think it would be a great read for any fan of the Nightfall series. It might not be a mandatory read, but it increases the interest in this beautifully written world so I suggest everybody who picks up the Nightfall series reads it.

It also teaches readers an important lesson – not everything is as it seems. A royal princess can easily be a butt-kicking, fierce protecting warrior.

5 out of 5 stars! An excellent read!

Jewell by Tina DeSalvo

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Jewell by Tina DeSalvo was a cute, romance-mystery mix!

This book has a very slow start, and at first seems rather boring. Tina DeSalvo introduces the book well, but it drags on quite a bit. Once you get about 1/4th into the novel, it suddenly speeds up and gets exciting – there’s mystery, there’s potential romance, there’s comedy! It’s such a great book! You just have to get through the first little bit of the book and suddenly it’s fantastic!

It’s not your typical romance book – the main characters have to build their relationship over the course of the book, and they do. They also have to deal with realistic situations – Jewell’s professional reputation is being threatened, her Grandmother has Alzheimer’s, and then there is family drama to deal with.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Despite the slow start, the book is beautifully written! There’s the perfect mix of mystery, drama, comedy and romance all wrapped into this book!

Four out of five stars – due to the slow start.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Quick Book Review: Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren

 

 

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Most of this book is really, really hot – and the other half is…well, not.

This book is essentially pure erotica – which some people enjoy! If you want a book that is mainly the two characters going at it constantly, then this book is for you! If you were hoping for a dramatic novel mixed with sexy scenes, well, you are outta luck!

When I heard about this book, it was explained to me as mainly a drama mixed with the “romance” scenes…alas, they were wrong. Perhaps they picked up the wrong book?

Now, don’t get me wrong. This book is well written for a steamy book! This soap opera like novel is definitely a great book if you want to turn your brain off and not deal with complicated issues – just steamy romance, the odd dramatic moment, and then more sexy time!

I did enjoy this book – mainly for the time that I could turn my brain off and just read. It’s not complicated, it’s quite easy to read, and the book keeps moving along!

Would I have liked more drama? Yes. But, this book was a turn-your-brain-off-and-relax sort of book!

Would I have liked the main characters not to be the stereotypical “they hate each other but oh wow let’s get busy”? Yes.

It seemed like another novel made as a Twilight fan fiction into a book…but hey, it was hot!

Three out of five stars!

Quick Book Review: Opal Summerfield and the Battle of Fallmoon Gap by Caldwell Jones

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Opal Summerfield and the Battle of Fallmoon Gap was an interesting read by Mark Caldwell Jones.

Opal Summerfield left me feeling a little confused – the book seemed like it was trying to go for a young reader vibe (like 8-12) but it was written for a Young Adult age group. It was still an incredible book, but I couldn’t figure out where it sat.

There was lots of action, but it didn’t keep a lot of my attention. It was beautifully written and it was truly incredible, but it wasn’t my kind of book. I feel like I am a bit above the age group for this book – it didn’t connect with me like other young age grouped novels (like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter).

Nonetheless, it was still an amazing book. Opal is a well developed character who would sit beautifully with young female readers. She’s strong and stands for herself, and she’s very heart warming. I would definitely read this book to a child!! It’s morale boosting!! It gives you a feeling like you can do anything!

The book is very imaginative and it original. Many books seem to follow the same path over and over, but Opal Summerfield was a breath of fresh air. It’s not based on some ooey gooey romance – it’s action based and has fantasy aspects. If you want a different read that is clearly original, pick this up! It feels like a young reader’s Indiana Jones!

There are constant twists and action and adventure at every turn! It’s truly breath taking!

For a debut, it was great! It just didn’t have me personally hooked. A younger reader base would love this!!

Three out of five stars – it didn’t get me hooked, but I’m looking forward to Mark Caldwell Jones making more books – he’s an amazing writer!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.