January book reviews

booksLast month, I began a new tradition in my blog of doing a collective book review at the end of every month. There were five books I read last month and they were all over the board as far as subjects. Some were paranormal, some were fiction, and one was a letter collection. I thought it was a good idea, not only for myself in keeping track of what I read, but also for people who ask me quite often what I’m reading right now.

This month, I decided to do a little bit of a theme with my books. I have a lot of books I haven’t read yet in my Kindle. I’m trying to read all of them before I go and buy new books. So this month I scrolled through and picked out all of the historical novels that I haven’t read yet and I read as many as I could in 31 days. I couldn’t read as many as I had hoped, unfortunately. I was rather ill for the majority of the fall and winter, and it became really bad at the beginning of January. I lost a few weeks of reading time. February will be better though!

Here are the book reviews for January.

Becoming Marie AntoinetteBecoming Marie Antoinette
by Juliet Grey
5 stars

As if you expected me to read anything else! I devour everything about my Queen. This is the first novel in a trilogy about Marie Antoinette’s life. It shows her childhood and upbringing in Austria through her own eyes. Written in first person, the novel conveys intimacy that leaves the reader feeling like they’ve stumbled onto the Archduchess’ diary. You have to approach this novel from a fictional perspective, not a history lesson. The characters, based on the real people that populated her life, are well-written and well-defined. The novel follows Antoinette’s life through the day she becomes Queen of France and I was quite impressed with how the narrative voice grew up with the little Archduchess, into the Dauphine, and into the young Queen in the last pages. The novel was not without its faults though. No novel is perfect. Some of the language sounded a little too modern at times. Overall, however, it didn’t detract too much from my experience and enjoyment of the world of 18th century Austria and France. I highly recommend this trilogy if you love historical fiction as I do.

Days of Splendor Days of SorrowDays of Splendor, Days of Sorrow: A Novel of Marie Antoinette
by Juliet Grey
4 stars

This is the second novel in Grey’s Marie Antoinette trilogy, which follows the Queen of France from the beginning of her reign through the dark days of the French Revolution. (The third and final novel, The Last October Sky, is due out in September 2013.) I found this novel to not quite be as fluid as the first. I don’t hold the author entirely at fault for this because I’m in the process of writing my own novel at this period of French history and untangling the truth from the spiderweb is incredibly difficult. I found her research to be thorough, however, just like the first novel. Anything that had to be leant a poetic license carefully blended into the story and I couldn’t find anything that truly struck me as false. Again, some of the language drifted precariously close to modern voices, but the author managed to pull herself back into the period before it distracted me too much from the story. Villainous people in their own time (as viewed by their people) are likable¬†while still quite flawed and realistic in the novels. It is their flaws that bring them down from mythology. I will definitely read the third novel.

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