Hi everyone – welcome to another Down the TBR hole post!
For anyone unfamiliar with how this post works, the meme was created by Lia @ Lost in A Story. The idea is to review the books on your TBR to decide if you still want to read them. The rules are as follows: –
- Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
- Order on ascending date added.
- Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
- Read the synopses of the books
- Decide: keep it or should it go?
Shall we review the next ten books on my list?
The Elizabethan World – Lacey Baldwin Smith
The Elizabethan World was a world remade. At the dawn of the sixteenth century, Europe was emerging from an age of ignorance and uncertainty. New lands were being discovered and old ones revitalized. People abandoned the ideals of medieval times to make startling advances in technology, science, and art. Here, award-winning historian Lacey Baldwin Smith vividly brings to life the story of Queen Elizabeth – perhaps the most influential sovereign in England’s history – and the age she created.
During her reign, Queen Elizabeth, last of the Tudor monarchs, presided over developments that still shape and inform our lives and culture today, including her patronage of William Shakespeare, the formation of the Church of England, victory over the Spanish Armada, even the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. Smith’s keen eye for detail and sense of how those details have echoed through the centuries make this book essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how history works.
The Tudor period is my favourite topic of history. I don’t know why I love it so much… it was quite a morbid time (especially for Henry VIII’s wives). I studied the subject extensively at school, and loved watching the TV series with Jonathan Rhys Meyers a couple of years ago.
There is definitely no question about keeping this book on the list!
Mayflowers for November: The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn – Malyn Bromfield
A novel depicting Anne Boleyn’s dramatic downfall through the eyes of a servant in the court of Henry the Eighth.
Avis Grinnel’s life is forever changed when a young musician arrives unexpectedly to escort her to the innermost sanctum of King Henry VIII’s royal court.
However, it is not the king who has demanded her presence but his new queen, the much-disliked Anne Boleyn.
She has been told Avis is a “little cunning wench who has the sight” and demands she uses her powers to divine whether the queen is pregnant with a girl, or with the boy child the king expects.
From the moment she gives her fateful answer, Avis becomes embroiled in an extravagant world of intrigue, deceit and murderous plotting that is far removed from her lowly home life in the king’s kitchens at Greenwich Palace.
She becomes an unwilling participant and watcher in the alliances and misplaced loyalties of court life as the King wages religious war with the Pope and the churches while changing wives and mistresses in his relentless pursuit of a male heir.
Whispers, lies and rumours abound as the Queen fights for her survival and Avis struggles to balance her life of opulence in the royal chambers with the humble world of her baker parents and a mysterious suitor.
Her story is revealed partly as it unfolds and partly as a deeply-felt memory told to the faithful blind White Boy, who has been at her side for most of her life.
The brutal ending of Anne Boleyn’s reign is already known and written into history but this dramatic and vividly drawn story records the stark reality with an intricate and colourful portrayal of life at all levels in Tudor England.
I must have been in a history-buff mood this day, as I added this at the same time as The Elizabethan World. Anne Boleyn is one of the most memorable and controversial wives of Henry VIII. Naturally, I want to remind myself of her life story.
Twelve Years a Slave – Solomon Northup
Twelve Years a Slave, sub-title: Narrative of Solomon Northup, citizen of New-York, kidnapped in Washington city in 1841, and rescued in 1853, from a cotton plantation near the Red River in Louisiana, is a memoir by Solomon Northup as told to and edited by David Wilson. It is a slave narrative of a black man who was born free in New York state but kidnapped in Washington, D.C., sold into slavery, and kept in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana. He provided details of slave markets in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, as well as describing at length cotton and sugar cultivation on major plantations in Louisiana.
The release of the film inspired me to read this book. I’m firmly in the camp of books-are-better-than-the-film-adaptations, so reading it first is a must.
Bad Girls from History: Wicked or Misunderstood – Dee Gordon
You won’t be familiar with every one of the huge array of women featured in these pages, but all, familiar or not, leave unanswered questions behind them. The range is extensive, as was the research, with its insight into the lives and minds of women in different centuries, different countries, with diverse cultures and backgrounds, from the poverty stricken to royalty. Mistresses, murderers, smugglers, pirates, prostitutes and fanatics with hearts and souls that feature every shade of black (and grey!). From Cleopatra to Ruth Ellis, from Boudicca to Bonnie Parker, from Lady Caroline Lamb to Moll Cutpurse, from Jezebel to Ava Gardner. Less familiar names include Mary Jeffries, the Victorian brothel-keeper, Belle Starr, the American gambler and horse thief, La Voisin, the seventeenth-century Queen of all Witches in France but these are random names, to illustrate the variety of the content in store for all those interested in women who defy law and order, for whatever reason. The risqu’, the adventurous and the outrageous, the downright nasty and the downright desperate all human (female!) life is here. From the lower strata of society to the aristocracy, class is not a common denominator. Wicked? Misunderstood? Nave? Foolish? Predatory? Manipulative? Or just out of their time? Read and decide.
Whilst I have no doubt that the women in these pages are interesting, I don’t know. I’ve lost enthusiasm to read it. There isn’t any point forcing myself to read it when I know I don’t want to. This is the first casualty of the TBR Hole today.
How to Be a Woman – Caitlin Moran
Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven’t been burned as witches since 1727, life isn’t exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them? Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women’s lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother.
On the whole, I’m not a huge fan of women’s literature. The one notable exception I have read (part of and is subject to a re-read) is I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson. To keep my attention, this “genre” needs the humour to keep me turning the pages… and something inside me says I’ll like this one.
Based on the last two books on the list, you’d think I was a feminist!
After the Fire – Will Hill
The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.
Father John controls everything inside The Fence. And Father John likes rules. Especially about never talking to Outsiders. Because Father John knows the truth. He knows what is right, and what is wrong. He knows what is coming.
Moonbeam is starting to doubt, though. She’s starting to see the lies behind Father John’s words. She wants him to be found out.
What if the only way out of the darkness is to light a fire?
If I’m 100% honest, I’m keeping this on the list as I have heard so many others rave about this book. I’m not a huge fan of contemporary novels. I started this blog to give new books a try though – so where better to start than here?
Soul Identity – Dennis Batchelder
You can’t take it with you… but what if you could? Most people believe their souls outlive their bodies. Most people would find an organization that tracks their souls into the future and passes on their banked money and memories compelling. Scott Waverly isn’t like most people. He spends his days finding and fixing computer security holes. And Scott is skeptical of his new client’s claim that they have been calculating and tracking soul identities for almost twenty-six hundred years. Are they running a freaky cult? Or a sophisticated con job? Scott needs to save Soul Identity from an insider attack. Along the way, he discovers the importance of the bridges connecting people’s lives.
It’s not very often I get a book recommendation from my Dad. He isn’t much of a reader, except on holiday really. If a book catches his eye, then I trust his judgement. I’m quite interested by the combination of science-fiction and crime element… it’s not a combination you see every day.
The Bone Collector – Jeffrey Deaver
Lincoln Rhyme was once a brilliant criminologist, a genius in the field of forensics — until an accident left him physically and emotionally shattered. But now a diabolical killer is challenging Rhyme to a terrifying and ingenious duel of wits. With police detective Amelia Sachs by his side, Rhyme must follow a labyrinth of clues that reaches back to a dark chapter in New York City’s past — and reach further into the darkness of the mind of a madman who won’t stop until he has stripped life down to the bone.
My sister bought us a copy of this book to share/read MONTHS ago… she was going to read it first and then pass it on to me. I think either she has forgotten, or is hoping I’ve forgotten because she wants to keep it so much!
Sister dear, if you want to keep it, I’ll get my own copy.
I also had an interesting bookish conversation at work today… and I think the person I was talking to might like this as well. I’ll drop them an email on Monday! Usually, when I start talking about books, this is the kind of reaction I get:-
The Librarian of Auschwitz – Antonio Iturbe
Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.
Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.
- This is a book about Auschwitz
- This is a book about a girl who risks her life to keep books
I’d be a fool to take this off my list! If anything, I am bumping this up further – I’d forgotten I’d added it to the list!
Killing Floor – Lee Child
Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He’s just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he’s arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Jack knows is that he didn’t kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn’t stand a chance of convincing anyone. not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.
My granddad read these books… or so mum tells me. Lee Child was one of his favourite authors (together with Wilbur Smith), so I want to give these books a try to see if I will like them too.
I am binning one book this time – lame! Aha! Oh well, at least I know that I genuinely still want to read these books. That is the point of the exercise after all!
Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time,