Katharine Parr by Alison Weir

I was lucky enough to be gifted the ‘Six Tudor Queens’ collection as part of the readalong from Tandem Collective UK. The final book of the collection, ‘Katharine Parr’, was the subject of the readalong – and what a wonderful read it was.

Now, I am always very cautious about historical fiction – it is a great genre but sometimes not everyone remembers the ‘fiction’ part, and history is easily rewritten. However, it is clear that Alison Weir takes the reasearch seriously, as shown with the ‘Author’s Note’ at the end.

Katharine Parr is often known simply as the last of ‘The Six’, but this book shows she is much more than that. And maybe she, in fact, deserves a little more space in the history books.

This book takes you from Katharine’s childhood, through her first two marriages (and the religious unrest), her meeting Henry VIII, becoming his last queen, and her life once he dies It is amazing how much Katharine lived through and the interest she had in the world, and in religious reform in England. But, also, how seriously she took her role as stepmother to the future monarchs of England. I would love to have known what she would have thought of the life each of them went on to have.

This book has inspired me to ensure that I find out more about Katharine Parr, because I do not feel that she has the fame she truly deserves for the life she led.

Thursday Thoughts – Audiobooks

Until recently, I was not counting audiobooks in my reading stats; in fact, I was not really listening to audiobooks. A full cast radio dramatisation has always been something I enjoyed. However, audiobooks I often switched off (which is odd because, as kids we had lots – Asterix and Just William being particular favourites). Yet, since I was on a listenalong, with Tandem Collective UK, of ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid, I have become hooked again. In fact I am on my third Taylore Jenkins Reid audiobook in two months. So, clearly, these books have brought me back to audiobooks.

I think I have realised that audiobooks just mean I can enjoy even more stories – even if I do not feel that I actually have time. It makes tales more accessible wherever I happen to be. Although, I guess I do not need to possibly try some different authors.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H Lawrence

I have just read ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ as a buddy read with a brilliant bunch of book lovers. And it was not quite the book I was expecting it to be. Of course, I am aware of all the scandal that surronded this book on its publication. For its time, I can see it would have raised a few eyebrows – and maybe it being a banned book added to its classic status – after all, isn’t the phrase ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’? However, it is not a classic in the way I view even a modern classic.

I did not feel that this was a book of likeable characters – I did not root for them. There is no romantic hero in Mellors – in fact, I think I liked him the least. However, I still enjoyed the read because, for me, this was a fascinating study of society. This was a book about relationships; not of romantic ones, but of relationships across class and society. And a book about the world of the interwar years, when men had returned damaged in so many different ways from World War One – not just them struggling to return to the world that they had left behind. There is a clash of ideas as new and old collide – Connie, appears to be a modern woman, but does she just want to follow the traditional role of a woman, and her struggle with this leads her down the path she takes?

I am so glad I have read this book – and I do think I will return to it one day, because I think you probably find something different each time.

The Maid by Nita Prose

I have read ‘The Maid’ as lovely little readalong with my bookstagram buddies. As always, it was lovely to read and talk about books – but I feel a little bit of a let down, as I liked the book, but did not love the book.

The characters were lovely: Molly was just the thought of character you root for and know deserves a happy ending – even if the road to it may not always be smooth. And, well, how can you not adore a fan of Columbo. Plus, her friends are perfect for her.

However, for me, the plot was too obvious. Nothing particularly surprised me throughout, so it was not quite as thrilling as the opening page suggested. This does not make the book unenjoyable – just a little obvious but it is, overall, a nice read, and perfect when you just need a book to relax with and bring you some happiness during your treasured reading time.

You’re the One That I Want by Simon James Green

I was lucky enough to win a copy of ‘You’re the One That I Want’ by Simon James Green and it has been on the TBR pile a little while. However, when a novel by Green was suggested as one of my ’12 in 22′, then I knew I had to pluck this one off the TBR pile and get reading. And, as always, what an absolute joy this book was. A delight to brighten cold winter days.

As a group of college kids prepare for their production of ‘Grease’, the drama is not just on the stage. Freddie is challenged to say ‘yes’, and not stop holding back and missing out on fun – because being Mr Nice Guy doesn’t seem to be bringing him all the joy he expects from his teenage years. However, when he meets the new kid on the block, Zach, he ends up on a journey of romance and self-discovery – and realises that maybe being Freddie is not so bad after all.

Simon James Green writes YA fiction with a heart and the most fabulous characters, representing diversity, which is so important for the modern world, and the young people growing up in it.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

My first title for ‘The Unread Shelf Project 2022’ was ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go’ by Patrick Ness. This is a book that has been recommended to me a number of times, but it had sat unread on the shelf. And, as usual, I am now unsure why it has taken me so long to start the ‘Chaos Walking Trilogy’.

I absolutely do not want to spoil this for anyone who has not read it, so I am going to keep my post as spoiler-free as possible.

This is a great concept for a book. A world of ‘noise’ where there is no silence for many and no secrets. And some strange ideas about what the ‘new world’ should and could be. Interpretations can be so different amongst different people depending on the knowledge that people have received – their world view so easily influenced.

This book ends on a real cliffhanger, which means I am determined to continue with this trilogy. I have to know what happends to Todd and Viola, and if their world will be changed forever.

The Fell by Sarah Moss

I actually had no idea what this book was about – I was simply attracted to the cover and the title. As well as having seen quite a few fans of Sarah Moss on bookstagram.

Well, it turned out to be my second piece of pandemic fiction in January – unintentionally. ‘The Fell’ s quite a poignant reflection of life in lockdown. The impact that the events had on four different individuals: a mother and son, an elderly neighbour and a mountain rescue volunteer. Quite a tense read, it really highlights how suffocating lockdown could be – even in the most open of places – and the impact it had on the wellbeing of so many. And the need to survive.

A beautifully written book, you will find yourself reflecting on it for quite some time. And it is certainly a reminder to be kind and support each other, as the world will possibly not be the same again.