Monday, February 23, 2015

The Wars Of The Roses

In The Wars Of The Roses Jones outlines how two branches of the Plantagenet family, the Yorks and the Lancasters, fight for the crown. After years of fighting, they are replaced by the Tudors. How exactly the Tudors gained power, who the major historical figures that were involved, major battles, and an explanation of the Tudor propaganda of this period are some of the major topics that are all covered in this book.

I really enjoyed this overview of the War of the Roses, and learning more details about what led up to the Tudors being in power. I am interested in this time period, and was looking for an overview that connected all the major characters and events. I was very impressed with Jones' writing style, the presentation of the information, and the quality of the research. It was a very absorbing account, and I added this book to My Favorite Books List.

I liked that Jones showed how events such as: Henry V dying too soon, war with France, the marriage between Margaret of Anjou and Henry VI, the acknowledgement of royal half-siblings, the Princes in the tower, and many more events small and large all play an interesting and important role in the Tudors gaining power. I really liked seeing how each person and event played a part in what happened. Jones gives us a fascinating piece of history in this book.

I think anyone who is interested in this time period will like Jones' book. It works for both those who are familiar with the topic, and those that have not approached the topic in depth before. There are a lot of details, but Jones writes in such an engaging way that even those that do not read history books will find themselves enjoyably immersed in the events of The War Of The Roses. I will definitely be reading this book again, and I am looking forward to reading Jones' book: The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings And Queens Who Made England.

I highly recommend reading this book.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Daughters Of The Witching Hill

Bess Southers is a widow living in Pendle Forest. She has visions, and is known as a cunning woman. She uses folk magic to heal the sick and tell the future. She passes on her knowledge to her granddaughter Alizon and to her friend who gets caught up in dark magic. She is named as a witch as their neighbors become suspicious of them and their craft.

This story is based on the 1612 Pendle witch-hunt, and is fictionalized to show what it might have been like for some of the accused women. The first part of the book is narrated by Bess Southers, and the second by Alizon. I liked this because it gave different perspectives on what the women were doing, and what brought about the accusations from their neighbors.

The story flowed beautifully, as Sharratt brought to life the events of the Pendle witch-hunt. I got caught up in the details that easily brings the reader into the everyday events of 1612. I thought there was a great balance between historical details and setting, and the telling of Bess and Alizon's story. It was an engaging and thought provoking read. I thought it was a compelling story, and I am so glad I discovered it. It is definitely one I will read again.

A must read for historical fiction fans or those interested in witch-hunts.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Jack Of Fables: The Bad Prince

In this volume, we learn more about Jack's time with the Snow Queen, his run in with the sword Excalibur, and are introduced to someone that turns Jack's world upside down. The bit with the Snow Queen reveals his time as Jack Frost because he took her powers. Jack's discovery of the location of Excalibur is somewhat amusing and ties into the main Fables series.

This is the third volume of the Jack of Fables series that is a spinoff of the Fables graphic novel series. To avoid spoilers for the main series, I would read the first few Jack books after volume six: Homelands, but read them before Fables: The Great Fables Crossover volume thirteen. Jack's story is brought back to the main story, and it will help to know what is happening if you read these before you get to the thirteenth book. It is not necessary to understand the story, but it lets you know who the characters are, and helps with some of the jokes.

I am honestly not enjoying this spinoff series. I am reading them all once to know as much as possible about the Fables world, but if you are not a huge fan of the Fables series I would not bother reading them. Jack is suppose to be the bad boy of the series that gets into trouble with his antics. The problem is, he is not a lovable bad guy, he is just an annoying horrible person. I could deal with his character in the main series because he was not the focus of the story. As a main character there is not enough to Jack to make it worth investing time or money in the series.

I only recommend reading this if you happen to like Jack's character or are a huge fan of Fables. Otherwise, I would not recommend reading this book.

Friday, February 13, 2015


Nick Allen is always looking for a way to make school more exciting. One day in class, he learns how words are created. He gets the idea to rename pens frindles. Nick gets his friends to use the word frindle, and soon the whole town is using the new word for pen. It creates a huge stir at school as his teacher tries to put an end to the nonsense word frindle. Nick soon discovers that he may have started frindle, but he is no longer in control of the word, everyone is using it.

This was my first time reading Frindle, and I had fun reading it with the Bookworms. It is a great way for kids to discover how words originated, and how they can change over time. It also shows how people can make a difference if they are persistent. I liked that Nick is a relatable character. He is mischievous, but never a real troublemaker. It is a great way to show kids and adults that it is ok to have fun and do your own thing without taking things too far.

I think this is a great book for kids to read. It is easy to understand, and not too long so they will stay interested in the story. There are some thought provoking ideas that are good for children to start thinking about. It is not just serious though. It is funny and you find yourself hoping that Nick has success with the word frindle.

This is the ninth book the Bookworms read together. Paige picked this book out for us. I had never heard of it before, and had fun discovering a new book. We all had great time discussing the book. We had some great discussions about words, villains, and the characters. Here are some of the Bookworms thoughts on the book. Warning there may be some spoilers!

Q&A With The Bookworms Book Club

How many stars out of 5 would you give Frindle?
Paige 4 1/2
Alejandro 4 1/2

What was your favorite part of the book?
Paige I liked the dictionary with the word Frindle in it.
Alejandro Towards the end of the book when he gets the package.

Some people thought Nick was being disrespectful, do you think Nick was disrespectful?
Alejandro No. I don't get why people thought that. He was just making a new word.
Paige Kind of when he was wasting time in class. With Frindle, he was just using his imagination.

What did you think of Nick's teacher?
Alejandro I thought she was pretty nice.
Paige Sometimes she seemed nice, and other times she seemed a little mean.

Nick got a lot of money for inventing the word Frindle, what would you do with all that money?
Alejandro Save it to go to college.
Paige Yes, and save so my kids could go to college too. I would buy a house too.

Would you tell your friends about this book?
Paige All my friends know about it because my teacher read it to us in school.
Alejandro Yeah, because some parts are really funny.

What word would you change or invent?
Alejandro That's hard to say because we already know the names or words for things. Maybe Chilito for hot/spicy things.
Paige I don't know what word I would make yet, but I would have it be something for candles having to do with fire.

Thank you to the Bookworms for reading and reviewing this book with me. It is always a lot of fun, and I look forward to our next book.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Fables: Wolves

Mowgli is on a special mission for Fabletown. He must track down Bigby so he can be sent on a secret mission involving a beanstalk to thwart the adversary. Knowing Bigby might not be inclined to help he is offered an irresistible reward. If he successfully completes the mission he will be reunited with Snow and their children. Cinderella is on a diplomatic mission in the Cloud Kingdoms, a prisoner goes free, and there is a special event the Fables celebrate.

This is the eighth volume in this series in the Fables series. This one is a must for fans that really like Bigby and Snow's characters. It does not have as much action as the volumes that focused on the war with the Adversary, but there are some interesting plot developments. I liked that this volume uses characters that we have already gotten to know a little bit and brings them into the story more. I liked having Mowgli and Cinderella included in this story.

There were also some maps of Fabletown and the farm included at the end of this volume. It really helps bring the places that are constantly referred to alive. I love the puns used for the shop names and streets. They all are related in some way to an author or tale we know and love in the fairy tale genre. I think this volume was an excellent edition to the series, and really shows the diversity of that the series is capable of. While a lot of this book was wrapping up some previous plot points, it does leave an opening for the future of the series.

I highly recommend reading this series!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Provence 1970

In the winter of 1970 culinary figures M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, Simone Beck, Richard Olney, and Judith Jones got together in the south of France. They cooked together and talked, sometimes heatedly, about the future of food in America. These are some of the people that helped shape the culture of food, without realizing just how much impact they would have. M.F.K. Fisher recorded in her journals and letters the conversations and food the group had on this trip. The letters and journal were later discovered by her nephew Luke Barr.

This intimate look at such well known figures is from M.F.K. Fisher's point of view. Her letters and journals are used as the primary sources for this book, so it seemed very natural to use her perspective on these events. I really liked seeing these popular people through a friend and colleague's eyes. She is very real in the way she records the different relationships between the group, and gave us what seems to be a realistic idea of who they were.

I thought it was very interesting to discover how American tastes changed, and what some of the influences of those changes might have been. I liked the permeating idea of how food can shape memories and experiences. I appreciated how Barr included details about the menus and cooking processes to really help the reader understand the connections to food, and how different it was to the way many people eat now.

It was an interesting read. It took me a little while to get into the flow of the writing, but by the time they were all together in France I was enjoying the almost nostalgic feel the book had. The end was also a little harder to get through, but people who are interested in the food movement or the culinary figures mentioned in this book will enjoy reading it.

I read this book as an ebook on my Nook, and had no problems reading it in that format.

I recommend reading this book.

**I received a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review**

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a book sooner than I would have gotten to it or heard about otherwise.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Maid And The Queen

The Maid And The Queen explores the relationship between Yolanda of Aragon, Queen of Sicily and Joan of Arc. Yolanda was a powerful woman who supported Charles the dauphin of France's claim against the English. When circumstances seemed the most bleak for the French, Joan of Arc appeared, claiming a divine message for Charles. She inspired Charles and the French changing history.

I heard about this book on a history podcast I listen to, and it seemed like a really good book about Joan of Arc, so I was excited to finally read this book. It was even better than I expected. I added it to My Favourite Books List because I liked it so much. Goldstone explores questions such as: how did a peasant girl gain access to the dauphin? Was she entirely dependent on her voices, or was there someone else helping her? The exploration of these and other questions brought new depth to the historical and mythical figure of Joan of Arc.

I liked that Goldstone had a wonderful balance of exploring what was behind the myths of Joan--knowing what the dauphin's secret prayers were, how she managed to meet with Charles, why people would believe in a peasant girl, when she started hearing voices and what they initially were telling her, without degrading such an important historical person. I found the explanations behind Joan's behavior only increased my fascination and respect for her, they did not ruin my view of this mythic figure at all.

I also liked learning more about Yolanda of Aragon. She is a fascinating woman, and I enjoyed learning how much she influenced events in France at this time. She is a person I want to learn more about. She was very educated, learned from the people around her, and was able to run her husband and son's property while they were unable to do so, with great success.

I found this a fascinating biography of Joan of Arc and Yolanda of Aragon. Goldstone writes in a very clear way. There was an excellent balance between providing interesting details but not overwhelming the reader with too many facts. If you want a lot of intimate details for each woman, you should probably read other books about them that focus more on the individual you want more information about. This book shows the relationship between these two women. It is an engrossing read that anyone interested in Joan of Arc should read.

I highly recommend reading this book.