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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Review:The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy - The Marquess House Trilogy #2

Title: The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy - The Marquess House Trilogy #2
Author: Alexandra Walsh
Publisher: 1st June 2019 by Sapere Books
Pages: 475 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction, mystery
My Rating: 4.5 crowns

A timeshift conspiracy thriller that will shock you to your core! Perfect for fans of Dan Brown, Philippa Gregory, Kate Mosse and Tom Harper. 
Was Elizabeth I really the last Tudor princess…? 
Nonsuch Palace, England, 1586 
Elizabeth I has been queen for 28 years. She has survived hundreds of plots against her but now she faces the revelation of a secret she thought would remain hidden forever… 
Elizabeth is not the last of the Tudor line — there are two more legitimate heirs to her crown. 
Her sworn enemy, Philip II, King of Spain, has discovered the secret and thinks he can control the missing princess as his puppet queen. 
Can Elizabeth maintain control over her throne? And what happened to the lost Tudor heirs? 
Castle Jerusalem, Andorra, 2018 
Dr Perdita Rivers and her twin sister Piper are safely hidden in Andorra. 
Despite their narrow escape from those pursuing them, Perdita is determined to continue her grandmother’s legacy by uncovering her ground-breaking research into the English royal bloodline. 
But she soon realises that nothing about the Tudor era was as it seemed. And now the national identity of Great Britain must be called into question. 
With their enemies still tracking them and the lives of those they love in deadly risk, Perdita and Piper must succeed in exposing the secrets of history or there is no hope of them escaping alive... 
THE ELIZABETH TUDOR CONSPIRACY is the second book in the Marquess House trilogy, a dual timeline conspiracy thriller with an ingenious twist on a well-known period of Tudor history.
My Thoughts

I loved the first book in this trilogy, The Catherine Howard Conspiracy (HERE), so it was with great anticipation that I embarked on the second book. It did not disappoint. If you enjoyed the first, this book follows a similar style with chapters in the past and present with a mystery that continues to unravel. However, you most definitely need to have read book one before reading this latest instalment. 

‘Would a woman be capable of reigning for so long without a man to guide her while creating a prosperous country and resolving so many of its political issues? Elizabeth worried most men of her era because she was strong, politically astute, clever and educated to a higher standard than most of her privy council’

Returning to this clever scenario set up by the author, I still thoroughly embraced and enjoyed the whole twist on the accepted thinking of the Tudor lineage. The dual narrative once again works well as the author has really done her research in an attempt to make the whole plot appear plausible! Love it! On the flip side however, I did not find this book to read at quite the same pace of the first but found it still to be a rollicking good tale. Also, for the Elizabethan chapters, you really had to be thinking straight with the large (and I mean large) assortment of characters (all real though - which is actually mind blowing when you think about it). However, sometimes it did read a little like a history text book of ‘who’s who’ and you had to look past the rather large information dumps. Similar to the first, you really have to suspend your logical thinking and just go with it, for given the combination of fact and fiction, it really makes you wonder just what could have been. 

On the contemporary side of things, the story surrounding the MI1 Elite conspiracy is fun with all the characters returning from the first book and some loose ends tied up. It really is a wonderful trilogy and I can’t wait to read the final instalment. The author’s note at the end helps to explain exactly where her thinking was coming from and how she tried to substantiate her claims. If you are a Tudor fan, you simply cannot pass up this opportunity to read a most effective and plausible version of events. It is Tudor history at its best. 

‘Contrary doesn’t even begin to cover it but if you filter in all that we’ve discovered, these strange decisions begin to make more sense.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Review: You, Me and the Movies

Title: You, Me and the Movies
Author: Fiona Collins
Publisher: 14th November 2019 by Random House UK, Transworld Publishers Corgi
Pages: 388 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: contemporary, romance
My Rating: 4 crowns

He only speaks in movie references but they make her remember everything...
After a marriage which threatened her entire sense of self, Arden Hall is divorced, doing a lacklustre job and living a quiet, rather unexciting life. But one day, visiting a friend in a London hospital, she suddenly re-encounters her former lover from thirty years ago, charismatic Film Studies lecturer, Mac Bartley-Thomas, who is lying in a bed on the same ward.
Suffering from a brain injury and unable to converse, all Mac can utter is short references to the famous films he and Arden once watched together, back when she was a student and they conducted their affair: Casablanca, Bonnie and Clyde, Some Like It Hot and more...
These movies spark both bittersweet memories of their passionate relationship and the potential for a more reflective Arden to finally fulfil the promise of her younger self. And in the course of her visits to Mac, she starts to reconnect with the world in a way that she didn’t think was possible...
My Thoughts

‘Do you ever wonder what happens after the end of the movie?’ I say. ‘After all the decisions have been made, all the kissing has been done, the baddies have been banged up, the goodies have found the treasure? Do you wonder what comes next?’

You, Me and the Movies is a book that certainly grows on you with its bittersweet, nostalgic reflections about past regrets and future possibilities. This story alternates between present day middle aged Arden and her reminiscing about the great love affair of her life with Mac when she was a university student. It is interesting to see how the dual narratives progress with its impact on present day.

‘I know I am a survivor, that I have survived so much, but I don’t know how to move on from it. How to get the old me back. I want to be funny and optimistic. I want to be someone people are happy to spend time with. It seems I have forgotten how to be that person.’

The highlight for me is, of course, the movie referencing. With Mac only able to converse (present day) with short references to famous films, it provides Arden with the trigger to reflect on what was and what has evolved. The list of classic movies provide the catalyst to all that unfolds in the reminiscing. A self confessed movie buff, I relished the references, everything from classics such as Casablanca and Kramer versus Kramer, to modern day ones such as Pretty Woman. I reveled in their discussion and analysis of the films, both in isolation and in tandem with how events were unfolding in the story. They provided the perfect link between the past and present narratives, providing the spark  for often bittersweet reflections, yet simultaneously, a stimulus for fleshing out unfulfilled promises to younger selves. Will they provide the bridge to reconnect with the world when Arden thought there were no possibilities?

‘Showing up is not enough, I think. So much more is required. I want and need to apologize, to start over, to build a bridge I’m not sure I have the tools for. I simply don’t know where or how to start. ‘

This book slowly trundles along (a bit too dragged out in some passages) but I encourage you to persevere for the ending is heartfelt and enlightening. Don’t worry ... you don’t need to have watched all the films in question in order to enjoy the book (but it does deepen one’s appreciation). Also, this most certainly is not a light hearted romance. It is a well written story with an array of engaging characters with the themes of regret and redemption. 

‘Mac believed in the magic of the movies, the finite Hollywood ending. But I also knew what he was saying was true–there were some things that weren’t magical, or turned out the way you wanted.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.