Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: January 2017

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, including discussing books read that month, challenge progress, and a summary of all posts for the month.

Last month I read a total of fifteen books: The Death Cure (The Maze Runner #3) by James Dashner, The Girls by Emma Cline, The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4) by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3) by J.K. Rowling, Yes Please by Amy Poehler, 1Q84 (1Q84 #3) by Haruki Murakami, The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry, After the Silence (Amsterdam Quartet #1) by Jake Woodhouse, The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2) by J.K. Rowling, Saga Volume 1 (Saga #1) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling, The Dead Men Stood Together by Chris Priestley and Elizabeth of York: The First Tudor Queen by Elizabeth Weir.

January was a month of unemployment, and therefore left me a lot of time for reading… yet still I fell into a bit of a slump. Not so much a general reading slump, as I still managed 15 books, but I lost interest in a lot of the SFF on my shelves and all the books I’d borrowed from the library, and felt like reading something a bit different. I aimed to get through quite a few of my Netgalley books and managed to cross quite a few off the list. I also started re-reading the Harry Potter series (because why not?), and finally read the first volume of the Saga graphic novels, which was excellent. I also re-read Amy Poehler’s autobiography, Yes Please, because I love her. The Girls was a bit of a disappointment after all that hype, and I finally finished the Maze Runner series!

 

Challenge progress:

  • Mpauli is not hosting the DC vs. Marvel Challenge this year, instead the Justice League vs. Teen Titans Challenge is being hosted by the wonderful Wayland, who is also the newest moderator of Dragons & Jetpacks. I won’t be keeping track of this on the blog, just on the book group, as I don’t plan on being quite so dedicated this year. Although I felt really proud that I managed to complete the challenge 100% in 2016, it did dictate quite a bit of my reading so I’m going for a more relaxed approach in 2017.
  • I have currently read fifteen books towards my Goodreads goal.

 

Currently reading:

How was January for you?

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Review

Review: Elizabeth of York: The First Tudor Queen by Alison Weir

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I learnt about the Tudors endlessly at school. It seemed to be our history topic every other year, but we always started with the infamous Henry VIII, and then moved on to his children. Therefore I really know very little about Henry VII, and his wife Elizabeth, in comparison – particularly Elizabeth, who barely seems to have gotten a mention in the school textbooks. It seemed like this book, by well-known historical writer Alison Weir, would be a good introduction to the ‘first Tudor queen’.

Whilst this book was immensely detailed and clearly Weir cares a lot about the subject matter and did her research very carefully, it perhaps did not feel like the right choice for someone with very little knowledge on Elizabeth to begin with. I just felt glad that I already had a lot of knowledge of later in the period, otherwise I think this book would have been very confusing. For anyone without a prior knowledge of English history, this would not be the right book at all. As you might have noticed, our monarchs have never been creative when it came to choosing names, so history books can often get confusing, what with endless Henrys, Elizabeths, Thomases etc… Obviously this is nothing to do with the author, but I feel like a family tree might have been to some advantage here, especially as the book opens a while before the birth of Elizabeth.

It is also not an easy book to dip in and out of, which I like to do with some history books – some I can read all the way through, others I’d rather just read certain bits. There are chapters only, no sub-chapters or even headings or sub-titles, which made it really quite difficult to work out where I wanted to focus on or not. And whilst some sections were really interesting – for example on Elizabeth’s childhood, her marriage with Henry VII, others were really quite dull. Weir also seems to have a habit of listing items and prices, which seemed unnecessary in some places – although the conversion to modern day currency was interesting, making the opulence of the monarchs all the more clear.

Overall, an interesting book that might be a difficult read for some, and that could definitely have benefited from sub-titles or sub-chapters, easily allowing the reader to pick out sections to read. It feels quite a heavy text without it, and whilst this may work for some, it doesn’t feel like a good place to start for those unfamiliar with this area of history.

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #15: The Tudors

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: The Tudors.

The Tudors

Following the life of King Henry VIII of England, infamous for his six wives, this series follows the reign and marriages of the Tudor king, in a way that you may never have seen him before.

The Tudor period has always been one of my favourite eras of British history. Not only was it one we frequently studied in school, but it is also one that has been covered time and time again by so many different people and mediums. Each monarch ruled in a totally different way, and it was also a time of great religious changes.It is therefore a very varied period of time to study, as well as one of great exploration and adventure. A pretty perfect setting for many books, no?

Looking for fiction?

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel is set during the first half of Henry’s reign, covering his attempt to divorce Catherine of Aragon. It is actually told from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell, which could be interesting for fans of the show, a familiar story from a more ‘minor character’. After divorcing Catherine, Henry married Anne Boleyn – but supposedly he also had a bit of a fling with her sister, Mary. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory is told from Mary Boleyn’s point of view, and in fact much of Gregory’s writing is set during the Tudor period – I would highly recommend any of her books. I also wanted to include a book set after the reign of Henry VIII, for anyone interested in reading further into the Tudor period. Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir is about Lady Jane Grey, who was queen for nine days before being executed. She was nominated as successor by King Edward VI (son and heir of Henry VIII, who died aged 15) and was eventually convicted of high treason. Her story is a short and tragic one.

Or looking for non-fiction?

Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir Six Wives: The Queens of King Henry VIII

As well as being a writer of fiction, Alison Weir has written many non-fiction books on the Tudor period, a notable example of which is Six Wives of Henry VIII. If you’d like to learn more about the ladies in Henry’s life, then this is a great place to start. David Starkey’s Six Wives: Queens of King Henry VIII is another similar book, and Starkey is a very well-respected historian. Well, generally. My A Level history teacher hated him for some reason…

Are you a fan of The Tudors? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any series or films you’d like to see recommendations for?