Saturday, February 6, 2016

Saturday in the Garden - Eggplants and the Iowa Caucuses

OUTSIDE

Happy February Y'all!
Perhaps the most common mistake novice and - we hate to admit it - even experienced gardeners make is to let the juices of early spring enthusiasm overcome rational thought.
- Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardeners Handbook by Ron and Jennifer Kujawski
The above quote encompasses the process of garden planning and seed buying perfectly.  It's one of the lessons (mistakes) I've learned over and over again  - being too ambitious with what I can actually accomplish in my garden.  The seed catalogs are so beautiful and there are so many interesting things to plant that it is hard to remember that planting ALL THE THINGS is just not realistic.  Trying one or two new things a year  - great - trying twenty new things - will bite you in the ass.

An example of the fugue that takes me over during garden planning is eggplant.  Every damn year I have to almost literally slap my hand away from buying eggplant seed.  I don't like eggplant and never have.  Sure, this may be because I just don't know how to cook it properly but the fact remains, I have no desire to cook and eat eggplant.  But there are so many cool and pretty and compact varieties of eggplant and I WANT them ALL.  *shakes head*  It's a sickness.

Source. OOOOOHHH! Look at all the pretty... Look Away Stephanie! Look Away!
The thing is, maybe someday I'll have a big enough garden to play around with eggplants and learn how to properly prepare them for eating but my current garden is tiny and shady and I do NOT need to use some of the premium space on eggplants.

I hope to (for reals this time) have my garden plan and seed order done by next Saturday.

LIFE

My life right now is just so irritating and boring, I don't even want to talk about it.  Basically, work is kicking my ass and I want to hide under my bed whimpering softly for the next 3 months.  The End.  

I can maybe talk about one unusual event of the week - The Iowa Caucus.  I currently live in the state of Iowa and have had the dubious pleasure of having an average of 10 pieces of campaign mail plus 3-4 phone calls/text messages a DAY the last three weeks or so.  The Democratic caucus is kind of a wacky and fascinating exercise in Democracy.  You get all the registered Democrats in the precinct in a room and have them divide themselves out based on who their candidate of choice is.  Then the bargaining and wheedling begins particularly if one candidate doesn't have a quorum (like Martin O'Malley). The wheedling could take the form of a representative for each of the remaining candidates standing up and giving a stump speech - just regular Joe or Jane citizens, speaking from the heart - or you could have more personal pleas person to person.  The lack-of-quorum folks then choose between the remaining candidates and divvy themselves up.  The proportion of people in each candidate's area than determine how many delegates for each candidate will be sent to convention.  It's a little crazy and quite a lot of fun.  I'm glad it's over, though I am feeling decidedly less popular now.

WATCHING, READING and BLOGGING

Watching 

This week I really got into The Great British Baking Show.  There's one random season of it available on Netflix and it was such a blast.  I'm not usually a fan of reality TV but this was both charming and impressive. And the person I wanted to win, did!  The down side was that it made me crave baked goods with a passion.

I also discovered that some of my favorite HGTV shows that I like to binge on when I stay at a hotel (and have cable) are now on Netflix.  DANGEROUS!  I've been watching lots of episodes of The Property Brothers which I love but which may cure me of my addiction to these shows just because much of the conceit is so silly.  Basically, if you aren't aware, the Property Brothers are identical twins; one of them is a realtor and the other is a contractor.  They convince people to buy a fixer upper and then the contractor brother renovates it into a beautiful gem.  At the start of each episode they take the couple to a house that fits all their needs and which is move-in ready and then cruelly break their heart by telling them it's way out of their price range.  Every show the home buyers state at the beginning that they don't, under any circumstances, want a renovation.  Then why ON EARTH are you on The Property Brothers?  It's an awkward fiction, for sure.

Reading

I am still in a really nasty reading slump though I did manage to finish one book this morning.  I hope I get my mojo back soon.

Finished Last Week: 

  • Steal the Sky by Megan O'Keefe:  An ARC and the first in a new science fiction series that sounds Firefly-esque.  Publication: January 5th, 2016.  It was okay.

Currently Reading:

  • A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil #2) by Soman Chainani: This is a super fun middle-grade series and is one of the series I identified as one I'd like to put in the finished column.  ON HOLD  - HAD TO RETURN TO LIBRARY. DANG IT.
  • One Magic Square by Lolo Houbein: A gardening book about maximize food production in a small space.  An ARC from Netgalley (though I think it's an older title).   
  • Let's Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson: A humorous memoir for the very popular blogger, The Bloggess.  
  • Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson #2):  This is the second book in this very popular middle-grade series about a modern day boy who happens to be the son of a Greek god.

Added to the TBR:

This is a list of books that I have added to my Goodreads TBR list this week.  It helps to burn the books I want to read a little more firmly into my mind, maybe get them on some other folks TBRs and gives me a chance to recognize a lot of the awesome bloggers that add stuff to my TBR!

I added nothing this week.

Blogging 


Slow week on the blog because I'm in a bit of a blogging slump as well as a reading slump.  Combination of a busy week and brain overloaded with work crap.

On the BLOG LAST WEEK:

On the BLOG NEXT WEEK:

  • SUNDAY: Review of The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater.
  • TUESDAY: TOP TEN TUESDAY hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. The topic this week is a Valentine's Day inspired freebie.  Since I just did my favorite Slow Burn Couples for the freebie two weeks ago, I may have jumped the gun a bit on this one!  I'll see if I have any other romance-based topic ideas in my head. 
  • WEDNESDAY: Review of Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare or Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Or maybe something else:0).  
  • THURSDAY: Parent of Virtues - Week 6


Monday, February 1, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY | If I Could Turn Back Time....

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Today, with the help of Cher and the ladies at The Broke and The Bookish, I am thinking about what time periods I like to travel to in books.  The specific topic description is:
Top Ten Historical Settings You Love/ Ten Historical Settings You'd Love To See or Top Futuristic Books You Love/Ten Futuristic Societies I'd Love To Read in Books --- basically this week is all about the past or the future....spin it however you choose!
I love historical settings whether it be in straight up historical fiction or a romance or mystery.  When I was young and foolish I used to wistfully protest that I was born 200 years too late.  My older self is jaded and cynical and realizes this is absurd, the reality of most women two centuries ago was likely horrendous, but I still like to visit the past in books.

As I made the list I realized my era preferences are often matched up with a location/event as well so I also included that.

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 1) Regency Era Britain
1811-1820 in reality but I really think of this 1790-1830

The love for Jane Austen's work gave birth to a whole sub-sub genre of Romance: Historical- Regency Era Britain.  It was the golden-age of the aristocracy and landed gentry in England and all the elaborate social rules are just designed for a perfect slow burn type romance.  Some of my favorite authors in romance are Georgette Heyer, Sarah MacLean, Lisa Kleypas.  I've also enjoyed a couple of mysteries set in this time period my favorite of which is Kate Ross' Julian Kestrel Series.  Finally I'm a huge fan of nautical books from this time period - The Aubrey Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian or Horatio Hornblower by C.S. Forester.

2) Turn of 20th Century 
1890-1910

I especially like mysteries set during this time period, particularly in New York.  Law enforcement was kind of at an interesting juncture, becoming more structured with many advances in technology.  Some of my favorite mysteries set in this time period are: The Alienist by Caleb Carr and Stefanie Pinthoff's Simon Ziele series.  Outside of mysteries, the books that come to mind are the Anne of Green Gables series. This is also the Victorian period in Britain, which is another favorite time period of mine for romances.

3) The American Western Frontier Period
1850-1890

I really love stories set in this time period, from traditional Westerns to "weird Westerns" that have a fantastical bent.  Recent favorites have been Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry and The Son by Philipp Meyer.

4) American Civil War
1860s

Some of my favorite time periods are centered around big events, usually wars.  The first is the American Civil War with a favorite being Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell and also The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. 

5) The World Wars
1914-1918 and 1939 - 1945

There's something about novels that take place around wars.  I include in this the aftermath from these wars.  I have a few mystery series I really like: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear, Inspector Ian Rutledge by Charles Todd, and the Flavia DeLuce series by Alan Bradley.  A very recent favorite Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart which takes place in the nineteen-teens.

6) Ancient Greece/Rome
Around the 5th Century B.C. to 600 A.D.

I actually haven't read a ton of books set in this time period but I love Greek and Roman Mythology and should seek out more.  

7) The Tudor Period in England
The 1500s

I really enjoy books set during the Tudor period, particularly Elizabeth I's reign.  The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett is probably my most obsessive favorite set in this era.

8) The Late Medieval Period
10th to 12th century

Books set in this time period are a little hit or miss for me but I am always drawn to them.  I have a favorite mystery series set during this time period, The Cadfael series by Ellis Peters.  I am also a big fan of Arthurian Legend inspired tales though they are generally set a little earlier.

9) The "Past" in Asia

This is really vague but I like books set in East Asia in the past but don't have a really particular time period I'm attracted to.  I love Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden which is set in 1930s-1950s Japan, The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck set in the 1920s, The Tales of the Otori by Lian Hearn which is a slightly fantastical story set in Feudal Japan, and Snow Flower and The Secret Fan by Lisa See set in 19th century China.  I definitely have a lot more exploring to do and perhaps that will help narrow things down a bit.

10) Colonial Era U.S.A.
17th and 18th centuries 

My definition of this era is quite broad and actually includes the time period following U.S. independence (1776).  I have a favorite mystery /thriller series set in the late 17th century; the Matthew Corbett series by Robert McCammon.  I also recently somewhat enjoyed Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati which takes place in upstate New York just a few years post revolutionary war.  

*******************
What are some of your favorite time periods to read about?  This list has made clear that mine are very euro-centric.  I bet I would also like stories set in colonial Australia and India and there are likely many interesting stories set in historical Africa and South America.  Any recommendations?

Thankfully I don't get too terribly hung up on historical accuracy, probably because I don't remember much of history from school.  How about you?  Does it drive you crazy when an author gets something wrong? 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday in the Garden | The Already Grouchy 2016

OUTSIDE

I got a bunch gardening books out of the library to jump-start my garden planning a bit.  My weekends seem to be packed with tasks, which has resulted in any thinking about the garden falling by the wayside.  I haven't even put in my seed order yet, or even cracked open a seed catalog.  The situation is getting critical as there are a few plants (like onions) that I should really start in February.

This was a week of gorgeous skies.  The configuration of the clouds and other atmospheric conditions I suppose helped put on a show that was fantastic to catch although I didn't always get great pictures. The world is beautiful, even in winter.

This is the worst pic but hard to capture when traveling 70 mph down the highway. The sky was tangerine
 

The Narcissus bloomed!

LIFE

I'm in a pretty wicked reading slump at the moment and perhaps it is a topic for the "Watching, Reading and Blogging" segment, but it is quite tied up with life so it's going here.  I think it is the result of a few things: 1) I'm not reading anything that is really knocking my socks off, 2) I am really stressed and overwhelmed by work currently, and 3) I've stumbled upon a pretty good run of TV shows lately.  It's a disheartening way to begin the reading year.

I think the major factor is work stress.  I have so much on my plate right now that I have to do some work on the weekends and I still feel like I am behind on everything.  This is pretty standard this time of year but it seems particularly bad this year. I thought I was handling it relatively well until I realized that all I want to do when I'm home is lay on the couch and watch The IT Crowd reruns.  I also tend to handle my stress by becoming a grouchy pants and every time I snap at someone for just being...you know...there, I hate myself a little more.  It's partially why I committed to the 365 grateful project; to exercise being a little more mindful and in the moment so that my stress wouldn't just boil over me unawares and turn me into a mega bitch.  It is obviously not working very well at the moment and I need to focus a little bit better.


WATCHING, READING and BLOGGING

Watching 

As I mentioned above, leisure wise, I've been doing more watching than anything else.
  • The X Files:  We got two new episodes of The X Files, which prompted me to watch "live" TV for the first time in forever.  If I'm being honest the episodes, especially the first one, were very disappointing.  Seriously, with a 14 year break you think they might have had some interesting, original ideas but no dice.  I give it a pass though, simply because I love this show and these characters so much.  
  • When Calls The Heart, Season 2:  This is a show on The Hallmark Channel that is so hokie, sickly sentimental and cliched that I am heartily ashamed to admit that I watch it and even more so that despite it all I kind of love it.  I think it is a sign that my heart so yearns for a Anne of Green Gables/Little House on the Prairie type show that I risk severe eye injury from the number of times they get rolled per episode.  The good news is that the CBC has announced that they will be producing a new Anne of Green Gables mini-series to air in 2017 which I am both nervous and excited about.  Excited for obvious reasons, nervous because who will they find to play Anne and Gilbert who will not pale in comparison to Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie?
  • The 100: This show got on my radar screen because of the recent publicity for the start of season 3.  I was getting it mixed up with The 4400, which I had tried to watch and couldn't get into.  When I realized it was different and the premise sounded cool (Dystopia, Human kind living in a space station above a radioactive Earth, in desperation send 100 teenage prisoners down to the ground to see if the atmosphere is still toxic), I started it on netflix and was kind of blown away.  For a CW show aimed at teens, it is pretty dark, doesn't pull it's bunches and features some very complex characters and relationships.  It's so heavy in fact that I had to kind of back off for the moment with work craziness but I'll definitely be diving back in.  It has also made me question whether I am really happy with influence that George R.R. has had on storytelling but that's a topic for a full post, methinks.

Reading

Finished Last Week: 

  • The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson #1) by Rick Riordan:  I've been wanting to read this for a long while.  I love Greek mythology and obviously this series is extremely popular.

Currently Reading:

  • Steal the Sky by Megan O'Keefe:  An ARC and the first in a new science fiction series that sounds Firefly-esque.  Publication: January 5th, 2016.
  • A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil #2) by Soman Chainani: This is a super fun middle-grade series and is one of the series I identified as one I'd like to put in the finished column.  
  • One Magic Square by Lolo Houbein: A gardening book about maximize food production in a small space.  An ARC from Netgalley (though I think it's an older title).   

Added to the TBR:

This is a list of books that I have added to my Goodreads TBR list this week.  It helps to burn the books I want to read a little more firmly into my mind, maybe get them on some other folks TBRs and gives me a chance to recognize a lot of the awesome bloggers that add stuff to my TBR!

Blogging 

On the BLOG LAST WEEK:

On the BLOG NEXT WEEK:

  • SUNDAY: Review of The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater.
  • TUESDAY: TOP TEN TUESDAY hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. The topic this week is pretty cool - it's all about favorite time periods for books to be set in, whether that be historical or futuristic.  I have lots of feels about this topic!
  • WEDNESDAY: Review of Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare or Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Or maybe something else:0).  
  • THURSDAY: Parent of Virtues - Week 5

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Parent of Virtues - Week 4


Another week.  Things are getting very hectic and overwhelming at work. I find myself being less attentive to the world around me and the moments.  I have to resist posting/picking a photo of one of my sweet dogs every day because every day I am so grateful for their furry snuggles.  Despite all that, I was still able to find something each day that was good and worth recognizing.

January 21, 2016
http://rudejapser.tumblr.com/post/137781342808/a-beautiful-end-to-the-day
January 22, 2016
http://rudejapser.tumblr.com/post/137845382773/i-am-feeling-doubly-thankful-with-this-one-its
January 23, 2016
http://rudejapser.tumblr.com/post/137921491018/these-two-on-my-screen-again-chasing-aliens-and
January 24, 2016
http://rudejapser.tumblr.com/post/137990935453/find-the-squirrel
January 25, 2016
http://rudejapser.tumblr.com/post/138057287598/clean-sheets-mmmmmm
January 26, 2016
http://rudejapser.tumblr.com/post/138125149978/man-how-i-love-a-book-with-a-slow-burn-romance
January 27, 2016
http://rudejapser.tumblr.com/post/138189871773/a-clear-day-for-driving

Monday, January 25, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY | My Favorite Slow-Burn Couples

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.


This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie!  I adore a good slow-burn, long developing romance so I thought I would list out some of my favorite couples that took FOREVER to get together:0). It might be surprising that none of the books on the list could be clearly classified as a Romance but it makes sense.  Romances rarely have the leisure to let a love develop or reveal itself in its own sweet time.

One  thing I should note is that this list feels pretty spoilery because a lot of times the best slow-burn romances are so subtle you're not entirely sure of things until the moment of truth so beware, I suppose?



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1) Francis Crawford of Lymond and Philippa Somerville | The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett

This series...this SERIES.  Six books long and it takes Lymond four of them to realize his feelings for Philippa.  And the moment he does is the most stunning romantic moment I've ever read and it's totally quiet and subtle. Sigh.....
All that he was not. He looked at her. The long, brown hair; the pure skin of youth; the closed brown eyes, their lashes artfully stained; the obstinate chin; the definite nose, its nostrils curled. The lips, lightly tinted, and the corners deepened, even sleeping, with the remembrance of sardonic joy... The soft, severe lips.
And deep within him, missing its accustomed tread, his heart paused, and gave one single stroke, as if on an anvil.
2) Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy | Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

So it's not too slow on Darcy's side but it still takes these two lovebirds a good long while to come together. Perhaps the original slow-burn romance?

3) Harry Dresden and Karrin Murphy | The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

I'm on book 15 and this relationship is still up in the air - talk about slow-burn!  It's only fair to say that I am one of the few readers of this series that is actually in favor of these two getting together.

4) Snow White and Bigby Wolf | The Fables Series by Bill Willingham

In the Fables series, the Big Bad Wolf falls in love with Snow White as soon as he sets eyes on her. From that moment on. he changes into his human form and quietly helps her as she manages Fabletown until she's ready to notice him as a romantic interest.  It's super sweet.

5) Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe | Anne of Green Gables Series by L.M. Montgomery

Who doesn't love a really well done friends to lover story and Gilbert and Anne are one of the best examples of this particular kind of slow-burn romance.

6) Lucy and Nicholas | Drake Chronicles by Alyxandra Harvey

This is probably my favorite YA couple I've encountered in recent times probably because it is another slow burn friends to lovers couple.  It's like Gilbert and Anne, if Gilbert were a hot teenage vampire and Anne was a spunky, sarcastic hippie girl.

7) Kate Daniels and Curran Lennart | Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews

This is definitely my favorite Urban Fantasy couple and they take three books to finally get together.  The great thing is they still work as well once they are a couple.  And yes, Curran is a were-lion.

8) Marco and Celia | The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I got so completely wrapped up in their story.  They fall into the category of star-crossed lovers. They fall in love quite quickly but can't really be with each other so it feels like a slow burn.

9) Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler | Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

If there's one thing you can say about Scarlett and Rhett it's that they are passionate.  And kind of messed up but SO glorious to read about.  In this couple, Rhett knows what he wants from the very beginning while Scarlett doesn't figure it out until too late.  Sigh.....

*************

I think that's all I can think of for books at the moment.  Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester might have made a good addition but I actually don't love Mr. Rochester. Please don't throw fruit.  I will distract you with a list of some of my favorite slow burn romances from television.

Mulder and Scully | The X Files
Sam and Jack | Stargate SG-1
Buffy and Angel | Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Kaylee and Simon | Firefly  (Mal and Inara are pretty great too but Kaylee was my fave...)
John Crichton and Aeryn Sun | Farscape
Aang and Katara | Avatar The Last Airbender
The Doctor and Rose Tyler | Doctor Who

I'm sure there are many more but those will do for now.  So how about you?  Who's your favorite couple that takes their time getting together?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

REVIEW | The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Publication Year: 1980
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: The Morland Dynasty #1
Awards: NA
Format: Audio (from Audible.com)
Narrator: Christopher Scott

WHY?:  I heard about this series on the Shelf Love blog and it sounded like a brilliantly fantastic idea for a book series; that idea being to follow one family through history starting in the late 1400s and ending in the present day.

SYNOPSIS: Eleanor Courtney, who is of noble blood and secretly in love with Richard Duke of York, is against her will, forced to wed Robert Morland, a wealthy sheep farmer's son.  This marks the beginning of the Morland Family dynasty, as Eleanor's intelligence, ambition and flat-out snobbery push the family to greater and greater respectability and prominence.  The Morland family's story starts at the beginning of the War of the Roses in England when civil war and political unrest were almost a constant in England.  The book ends as Eleanor, still a force to be reckoned with at the age of 70, dies quietly in her bed.

The reading of this book took me forever and involved long hiatuses.  It didn't capture my attention and interest as much as I'd hoped but I did still feel determined to finish it even though I have no qualms about dropping a book I'm not enjoying.  It was one of those reads I struggle to rate because there are things I really liked about it and other things that drove me up a wall.  As I mentioned in two previous posts this week, (Into The Wilderness, Cast in Shadow) this is the third book I've read recently that had me so conflicted and a lot of that had to do with how the characters were written.

Let's start with the positive, shall we?  I do love historical fiction for the unique view it can give you of historic events, usually from the perspective of the "little people".  Harrod-Eagles placement of the Morland family was perfect.  Not too high that their experiences are what we already know from historical texts but high enough that they are involved with and affected by the big events of the day. Not only do we get schooled in the political machinations surrounding the English Monarchy but also the book provides a view of women's life during that period and the politics and vagaries of marriage. Because the character of Eleanor is so strong and her husband rather weak, it is possible to see that, at least for the more well-to-do, women weren't always powerless.  This is mirrored in larger events by the influence the Queens of the time had on events.  The book also touches on commerce at the time since the Morland's are in the clothing business.

I also like the perhaps more historically accurate portrayal of certain very famous historical figures. For example, Richard III is a very different person than the greedy, usurper who stalks the stage in Shakespeare's play not to mention the bloody child-killer that he seems to be when the Princes in the Tower controversy is discussed. The image of Richard that has popularly come down to us is propaganda from the Tudors who took the throne from him, possibly illegally, so they needed to paint him a villain.  Harrod-Eagles portrays him as a sensible and intelligent man who had no ambitions for the crown but reluctantly took it when his brother was killed and it was revealed that the son on the throne was a bastard.  It was nice seeing Richard being treated a bit more kindly.

Despite all that, I still had a lot of trouble getting into the book.  Eleanor is definitely the central character but it does jump around quite a bit in time and among characters.  There were long vignettes with other characters that I would start to get interested in and then... they would die or the book would jump ahead 4-5 years and we'd never get back to that character.  It was hard to get invested, especially since I did not engage with the character of Eleanor who I found arrogant and selfish.  Even though she is the central character she was also not very deeply developed.

Eleanor wasn't the sole reason the book dragged for me however.  The book straddles the line between history text book and historical fiction.  Focusing on a single family to portray the events in England during the War of the Roses should have been an effective tool for making the history more personal. The balance between the factual history bits and the fictional story can be hard to achieve and my personal preference is for the story to be tilted more towards the personal stories and dramas. This book leans a little more heavily in the direction of a more technical recounting of historical events, taking frequent asides to just lay out what is happening when there is a crucial battle or other turning point. At the same time there is not enough of an overview of the historical context so if you are not already familiar with the history of the time period, it's confusing. I am not familiar with English history during this time period so I didn't have that to lean on.  My constant vague confusion about who was doing what, also served as a barrier to engaging with the story.

Listening to the book rather than reading it exacerbated the confusion  - I could have used a chart showing all the characters and their relationships.  There are so many characters both fictional and historical and they all have very similar names, particularly the men (Edward, Richard, Tom, Henry).  If I had been reading I don't know that I would have had a problem but I found the audio hard to follow.

There are also a number of other things, added to the above, that ended up creating a good bit of distance from the narrative.  The book's internal narration is 3rd person omniscient which keeps things very impersonal. The characters, because there are a lot of them, are not developed very deeply, not even Eleanor.  I didn't care about any of them.  Finally,the narration. I don't think the narrator is bad per se but I found him irritating, particularly how he read the women.

This book was a bit of a struggle but despite that I am somewhat interested to continue with the series.  I am much more familiar with the history of Tudor England so I'd like to see where she goes with the family during that time period.  This was a very early book for the author as well so maybe the writing style and character development improves?  If you've read this series, let me know what you think!

FINAL VERDICT: This book is the start of a Historical Fiction series with an interesting premise that doesn't quite work as executed.  I wanted a more personal narrative and characters to get into and this didn't quite provide that.  3 out of 5 Stars.

Other Opinions Are Available: Burton Book Review | Starting Fresh