Top Ten Tuesday: Royal-list

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

Today’s topic was

June 28: Books On My Summer 2022 To-Read List

But that’s sort of what I did last week. So I decided to go with this idea I stole from Orangutan Librarian. My attitude toward real life royalty in general is a “who needs it?” But I do enjoy a good palace soap opera on occasion!

American Royals by Kristin McGee – I can’t leave this one off the list! If George Washington had been made America’s first king instead of the first president, life in the US would probably look very different in some ways, and remarkably similar in others. At least that’s the case for the latest generation of the American royal family. I read the first two in the series and really enjoyed them. The third is out now but I haven’t read it yet.

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – I’d heard a lot about this one, but I didn’t love it as much as some people seemed to. I did like it, it was very enjoyable and sweet! But as I was reading, the practical problems that a romance between the son of the president and the British prince would have, kept intruding. I kept thinking “how come they both have such terrible security that they can sneak around so easily?” just as one example. Eventually that interfered with my enjoyment. I think I could have bought it, if it stayed in the realm of fantasy, but when it tried to bring in reality (to some extent at least), it didn’t work as well.

The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool Will Somers by Margaret George – OK Henry is a pretty tough guy to make sympathetic! This author comes surprisingly close at times. But that’s not to say it excuses any of his actions. It presents a compelling case for how he may have seen them though. I recommend the authors other work too in this area. She’s tackled other monarchs including Helen of Troy, Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I and Cleopatra.

The Plantagent and Tutor series by Philippa Gregory – Because I can’t stick to just one! These overlap quite a bit. They start with the story of Jacquetta Woodville, mother of Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV. It continues though several generations of a twisted family tree, that holds the fate of a nation in it’s branches…

Queen of Camelot by Nancy McKenzie- This is one of my favorite Camelot stories. I found myself sympathizing with all of the characters, even when they were at odds. I thought that Guinevere and Arthur actually came off as likeable here, and therefore worthy of the loyalty they inspired! As a disclaimer though, I will say it’s been about fifteen years since I read it, so who knows how accurate my memory is?

Her Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen – Yes, the main character is only a cousin to the actual royals, but she hangs around with them enough for me to count this. Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie (Georgie) is 34th in line for the English throne in 1932. That means she’s far enough away from the action to be flat broke, but the queen often calls on her for favors. And these favors tend to accumulate a bit of a body count…

Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman – When Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales marries King John (of England) daughter, Joanna as an attempt to make peace, no one expects it to be a great romance. But love grows in unexpected places, and Joanna finds herself caught between her husband and her father. This had some bits that I remember reading and thinking “yeah, right!” only to find out in the author’s note that these were actual historical fact. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction! Penman is another author who has covered a lot of royals. This book launches her Welsh Princes trilogy, but her Plantagenet novels are also worth a look (well, based on the two I’ve read so far…)

Katherine by Anya Seton – Katherine Sywnford wasn’t a royal, but her children were. When John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (son of Edward III, uncle of Richard II, father of Henry IV, grandfather of Henry V), falls for the already married Katherine in the 14th century, their scandalous romance lasts for decades and produces several children who are the direct ancestors of the last 700+ years worth of royals.

Queen Margot by Alexandra Dumas – When I was about seventeen or eighteen I went through brief obsession with this book, the film adaptation, and the characters in general, as a result of “discovering” them while doing a school project. In 1572, French Catholics and Protestant Huguenots had been in a decade long struggle for the country. Charles IX is technically king, but his mother, Catherine de Medici, is the one who pulls the strings. She arranges a marriage between her daughter, Margot, and the Huguenot king of Navarre, Henri de Bourbon. But when Protestants gather in Paris to celebrate the wedding, Catherine has something else planned for them. Meanwhile, poor Margot has been married against her will, and starts a torrid affair with a Protestant solider. Things get bloody.

Advertisement

Top Ten Tuesday: Literary Gardens

For That Artsy Reader Girls Top Ten Tuesday:

This week’s topic was:

April 19: Bookish Merchandise I’d Love to Own

But I’m not big on bookish merchandise. If I’m going to spend money on bookish stuff, I’ll spend it on actual books, thank you! But since it’s spring, and it’s starting to get nice out, I decided to look at gardens. Even though I’m not a gardener (I don’t have the patience for it) I do love a story set in a garden. So here are some favorites:

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

This is a classic garden. Mary goes to live with her uncle on the gloomy Yorkshire moors, but discovers a hidden, abandoned garden. By nurturing it back to life, Mary restores health, both physical and mental, to herself and everyone around her.

Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

Tom is staying with his aunt and uncle who live in the city with nowhere to play outdoors. But when the clock strikes 13 each night (yes, you read that right) Tom sneaks out of bed and goes to play in a garden that appears only then.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

I remember when I read this, it reminded me of The Secret Garden in a number of ways. That may have been intentional, because The Secret Garden author, Frances Hodgson Burnett, even makes a cameo appearance here.

Garden Spells- Sarah Addison Allen

Claire Waverly has a magical garden behind their North Carolina home, that is the work of generations of Waverly women. The fruits and flowers enhance the lives of those who know how to use them well.

Earthly Joys and Virgin Earth by Phillippa Gregory

These can be read as a duology or as stand alones. The first is about John Tradescant, a royal gardener in the early 17th century. The second follows his son, who travels to Virginia. Father and son have little in common other than a love of making things grow.

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

Eva Ward returns to her Cornwall to spread her sister’s ashes. She discovers that she can slip into the estate’s past. The rose garden serves as a kind of anchor for her travels.

Consider the Lily by Elizabeth Buchan

This is a book I read a lot time ago and liked a lot. It also had some Secret Garden vibes. Gardening once again is a metaphor for the life and health of the characters. I’d like to reread this at some point soon.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

This book consists of Marco Polo and Kublai Khan sitting in Khan’s garden, while Marco Polo describes all of his travels and the places that he’s been.

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring-y Books

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

March 9: Spring Cleaning Freebie (for example, books you’re planning to get rid of for whatever reason, book’s you’d like to clean off your TBR by either reading them or deciding you’re not interested, books that feel fresh and clean to you after winter is over, etc.)

For this one I decided to stay simple and go with books that feel like/ remind me of springtime. Themes of nature, rebirth, renewal, hope, and second chances abound!

  1. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim– It’s a miserable February when two English ladies see an advertisement “To Those Who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine.” They end up spending their April with two other ladies. The only thing these four have in common really is dissatisfaction with their everyday lives. The month they spend in a medieval castle in Portafino, Italy, is transformative for all.

2. The Lake House by Kate Morton– This is actually not my favorite Kate Morton book, but it does strike me as the most spring-y. Alice lives on her family’s estate in Cornwall. Her baby brother, Theo vanishes without a trace one night after a party, and the family, torn apart, abandons the lake house. Decades later, the house is discovered by Sadie, a young detective with the London police force, who is staying in Cornwall with her grandfather. Her investigation into what happened long ago connects her with Alice, and some shocking revelations. I think the themes of healing and second chances make this one feel like springtime.

3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett- This childhood favorite is all about rebirth, renewal, second chances, and of course, gardens! Mary is raised in India and sent to her uncle’s gloomy English manor after she’s orphaned by a cholera outbreak. As she tries to crave a new life for herself on the moors, she discovers and abandoned garden. In making the garden grow, she helps herself and others grow as well. She brings healing, and new life, to a grieving household.

4. Earthly Joys and Virgin Earth by Phillipa Gregory- Technically these two books make up the Tradescant duology, but they’re both pretty stand alone, so they can be read in either order. The first book is about John Tradescant, royal gardener in 17th century England. The second book follows his son, who immigrates to America (which was then colonies). The only thing that the father and son, and the two books, have in common is their name, and their strong connection to nature.

5. Arcadia by Lauren Groff- In upstate New York, in the 1970s, a few idealists found a commune on the grounds of a decaying mansion (Arcadia House). They vow to work together and live off the land. The books follows the utopian dream through it’s demise. This may seem almost: anti-spring! After all the living off nature idea falls apart. But the people change. They grow. They realize they have to face the wider world outside, and they emerge when they’re ready to take it on. To me that seems like a springtime theme.

6. Persuasion by Jane Austen- This is actually one of my least favorite Austen books (which still makes it better that about 90% of other books!), but it’s themes of first loves and second chances make it great for spring. It’s about a couple that falls in love and is separated by fate. Years later, they meet again. Older, wiser, and still in love. Is it too late for them? After all, they’ve both grown and changed… Of course not! Spring is the season of second chances.

7. Spring by Ali Smith-Spring is the third novel in Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet. All of the novels have connections but they’re all stand alone and can be read in any order. All are about contemporary Britain, but also in a larger sense about the attitudes of the western world. This book has a focus on immigration and refugee crises. While the depiction of detention centers is sometimes hard to take, there is also a sense of optimism and hope that we can learn and change, that feels spring-y.


8. Flush: A Biography by Virginia Woolf– This imagined biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s loyal canine friend is a story of love, companionship and renewal. It’s also a story of transformation, change and growth. We see Flush go from stifled lap dog to cosmopolitan dog about town.

9. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter- This book opens on the Italian coast in 1962. A chance at romance between an innkeeper and an aspiring actress is cut off. But 50 years later it might get a second chance thanks to some Hollywood hustlers. This could have been a cynical Hollywood satire, but Walter gives the story a sweetness that is accompanied by wit.

10. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed- Cheryl Strayed is in sort of a personal, metaphorical winter at the beginning of this memoir. And much of the content takes her though actual snowpack! But she emerged from the winter, stronger, wiser, and most of all, hopeful: a metaphorical spring ends the winter.

Top Ten Tuesday: Guilty Pleasure Reads

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

ttt-new

This week’s topic was:

July 14: Books That Make Me Smile (For any reason! Maybe tell us why? Submitted by Julia @ pagesforthoughts)

I tweaked it a bit and made it about guilty pleasures. These books make me smile because they are are trashy, tropey, and soapy. But they also make me smile because they’re fun.

91jgf9xfe0l._ac_uy218_1. The Luxe series by Anne Godberson– Soapy melodrama in an Edith Wharton setting. I love it.

 

71vfsf-jfl._ac_uy218_2. The Shopaholic books by Sophie Kinsella– Well really just the first few. After that I stopped reading the series because I got annoyed at the character making the same mistakes over and over. But the first 3 were I Love Lucy– esque fun.

 

41mq0rfvfvl._ac_uy218_3. The Dollanganger series by VC Andrews– By this I mean the original 5 books series, not the new add ons.  VC Andrew was my middle school guilty pleasure. I still have  nostalgic fondness for her work but I’m hesitant to reread because I’m fairly sure it won’t live up to my memory.

 

b1fhmjabubs._ac_uy218_4. The Flappers series by Jillian  Larkin– Along the lines of the Luxe series (see above) this is pure historical soap.

71gkvh61vl._ac_uy218_5. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory– This kicked off a Tudor obsession when I was in my early 20’s. And not the historical Tudors or the TV Tudors (never got into the show) I was all about the soapy novel Tudors.

51tkzsftjl._ac_uy218_6. A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Devereaux– I wasn’t sure if this qualified as trashy enough to put on the list (IMO a book doesn’t belong on this list purely because it’s romance!) but this one is bodice ripper-y enough to qualify I think

71xd7ivfuel._ac_uy218_7. The Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon– I read this when I was about 14. I don’t think I looked up from the page once for the whole two days it took me to read it.

81vvgnqiaol._ac_uy218_8. Scarlett by Alexandra RipleyGone With the Wind is too upscale for this list! In my defense I read this mostly because I wanted to see Scarlett and Rhett back together on better terms.  I got that, so I was happy.

b1vjcbcumqs._ac_uy218_9.Tarien Soul series by CW Wilson– Because it’s  so tropey. One after another after another. But I’m invested and I want to find out how it ends. I’m up to the last book.

810izexapdl._ac_uy218_10. American Royals by Katharine McGee– This soapfest imagines the American royal family that we might have had (in present day) if George Washington had accepted the crown that was offered to him some 200 years ago.

Top Ten Tuesday: Upcoming Film Adaptations That I’m Excited For

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

ttt-new

May 14: Page to Screen Freebie (Books that became movies/TV shows, movies that became books, great adaptations, bad ones, books you need to read before watching their movie/TV show, movies you loved based on books you hated or vice versa, books you want to read because you saw the movie or vice versa, etc.)

This week I’m highlighting some film adaptations pf books that I’m eager to see.

  1. Where’d You Go Bernadette? Based on the novel by Maria Semple

2. We Have Always Live in the Castle based on the novel by Shirley Jackson

3. The Spanish Princess (limited series) based on the novel The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

4. His Dark Materials based on the novels by Phillip Pullman

5. The Chaperone based on the novel by Laura Moriarty

6. Ophelia based on the novel by Lisa Klein

7. Ladies in Black based on the novel by Madeline St. John