british monarchy

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The King’s Curse – Philippa Gregory

Published October 2, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The final novel in the Cousins’ War series, the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries, The White Queen, by #1 New York Times bestselling author and “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory tells the fascinating story of Margaret Pole, cousin to the “White Princess,” Elizabeth of York, and lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon.

Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter—Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors.

After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret’s world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. But this charmed life of the wealthiest and “holiest” woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors.

What did I think?:

I’ve got such fond memories of when I first became aware of Philippa Gregory. A friend introduced me to her Wideacre trilogy consisting of the books Wideacre, The Favoured Child and Meridon all of which I adored and then my sister introduced me to her Tudor books and this is when I fell in love with her as an author. I haven’t been reading her as prolifically as I once did as unfortunately I feel like her last few novels in the Cousins’ War series haven’t been as brilliant as I know she can write but I still hugely enjoy both her writing and her intense focus on the women that history hasn’t given an adequate voice.

Margaret Pole is one of those women and The King’s Curse tells her story. She is daughter of the Duke of Clarence, cousin to Elizabeth of York (Henry VIII’s mother) and in this novel, becomes lady in waiting to Henry VIII’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon and then warden to her first daughter, Princess Mary. You may all be aware of what happens to poor Queen Katherine so this story is a fascinating insight into Margaret’s feelings and loyalties to both her King and to the woman she adores like a sister. Margaret comes across as a strong, sensible woman whose own family’s safety and well-being is paramount in her mind but she also demonstrates a steadfast faith and respect for those that she binds herself to both in duty and in friendship. She doesn’t have an easy life and her morals and values are tested in the worst ways imaginable but by the end, she remains true to herself and those close to her and earns the reader’s instant respect and admiration.

As I mentioned before, I love how Philippa Gregory takes a forgotten woman of history and suggests how important they may actually have been in the grand scheme of things. I loved learning more about her and was especially intrigued by her fragile relationship with King Henry VIII as he views her and her family as an obvious threat to his throne. Even though Margaret is our main protagonist, we still hear a lot about what is happening at the Tudor court at that period of history i.e. the divorce of Henry and Katherine, the rule of Anne Boleyn and the dissolution of the Catholic church with Henry VIII attempting to replace the Pope as the supreme ruler in England. It’s obvious the author has done some meticulous research as she forged this story and although parts of it have already been told before, for example in The Constant Princess and arguably her most famous novel, The Other Boleyn Girl, it never feels tired, old or re-hashed as we hear about events from a completely different point of view. I don’t think I’ll ever get weary of reading about the Tudor dynasty, a period of our past where the characters are just so incredibly effervescent and fascinating and I’m looking forward to getting to her next novel: The Taming Of The Queen.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


Blog Tour – Defender Of The Realm (Defender Of The Realm #1) by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler

Published March 6, 2016 by bibliobeth

Defender of the Realm

What’s it all about?:

Super-villains. Hungry monsters. One kid to stop them all. Meet King Alfie: fourteen-year-old British monarch and Defender of the Realm. Alfie never expected to become king so young. He definitely didn’t expect to become a legendary superhero: the Defender. Which means fighting an ancient secret battle against mega-villains and evil monsters. All while grappling with adoring crowds, paparazzi and minders. Now the terrible Black Dragon is rising. Only Alfie can stop him. Think being a king is just about wearing a crown? Wrong.

What did I think?:

First of all, a big thank you to my fellow blogger Faye over at A Daydreamer’s Thoughts who asked me if I would like to be part of this tour and to the team over at Scholastic UK for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review. I can’t remember having read many books in the past, kid-lit or otherwise that were written by two people and I wasn’t quite sure how it would work but the writing team that is Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler is an undeniable force to be reckoned with for creating a story that is packed full of drama, adventure and excitement, a trip into a fantasy world that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Set in contemporary times, Defender Of the Realm is the first in a series that might make you look at the monarchy of the United Kingdom in a whole new light! Our main character and reluctant heir to the throne of Great Britain is Alfie, a fourteen year old boy that just wishes he was “ordinary,” and didn’t have the responsiblity of a kingdom resting on his shoulders. Alfie has a twin brother Richard and a little sister, Ellie but as he was born mere seconds before his twin brother so when his father the King passes away, the throne and all the power that comes with it will automatically revert to him. To make it worse, Alfie has always felt that his brother Richard would make a better king – he is popular, stronger and more sporty but unfortunately, rules are rules and Alfie must accept that one day he will be king.

Tragically, the young royals lose their father much earlier than anticipated from a heart attack (..or was it?) and Alfie must assume his role and lead the country. What Alfie isn’t expecting is the EXTRA roles that come with being King Alfred II, responsibilities that have been passed down from his ancestors and aren’t your run of the mill royal duties. Alfie is pulled into a whole new world of secrets, underground passages, magical powers and monsters that wreak chaos from the Thames right through to Edinburgh Castle. Along with his new friend Hayley, Alfie discovers that there is a lot more to being King and being a hero than he could ever have imagined and they must work together to prevent an malign and deadly force in its attempts to get ultimate power for itself and begin a reign of terror, destroying Great Britain as we know it.

This book was unbelievably exciting and I’m so glad I read it. The characters are wonderfully drawn, from the awkward and loveable Prince Alfie to his brave and intelligent friend Hayley whose efforts are instrumental in helping Alfie defend his country and her adorable Gran, who I had a real soft spot for. The plot is entertaining and action-packed with a monstrous being that children will love to hate and battle sequences that are simply breath-taking. I’m so pleased it’s the first in a series and look forward to reading hopefully many more adventures of our reluctant hero Alfie because believe me, when you get to the ending (and it’s a real humdinger of a cliffhanger!) you’re going to be desperate to read the next installment!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0 +07957284588

Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler

Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler are Emmy and BAFTA-nominated screenwriters best known for writing popular TV shows such as Danger Mouse and Thunderbirds Are Go!


Mark’s Twitter:

Nick’s Twitter:

A huge thank you to everyone involved in this blog tour, I’ve had a great time doing it. Why not check out the rest of the stops on the tour where you’ll find some fantastic reviews from my fellow bloggers. Defender Of The Realm was released on 3rd March 2016 by Scholastic UK and is available from all good bookshops now.

Goodreads link:

Amazon UK Link:

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