The Queen’s Fool by Phillipa Gregory

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250 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To prove that I can, I’m reviewing about something completely outside of my comfort zone. I know it’s strange, but I actually enjoy reading historical fiction especially about families as messed up as the Tudors. Philippa Gregory is known for her historical fiction, and perhaps, best known for her book, The Other Boleyn Girl. When I was in high school, I read as I do now, mainly sci-fi and fantasy, but I dabbled in other things. The Other Boleyn Girl  was one of the books I dabbled in. I absolutely loved it. I thought the writing was superb, and the characters beautifully corrupt. I have gotten older, but I  still enjoy that book. I have read another book of hers a while back, but it disappointed me as it wasn’t nearly as good as The Other Boleyn Girl, and I stopped reading it half way in. But enough reminiscing.

The Queen’s Fool is the story of a young Jewish girl named Hannah who has fled Spain with her father after her mother was burned at the stake for their faith. Hannah and her father come to England to escape persecution, and to set up a book shop. One day, Hannah, dressed as a boy, sees her three men: an old man, a beautiful young man, and another beautiful man clothed in white. The old man turns out to be John Dee, notorious scholar and future spy master of Elizabeth I. The young man is Lord Robert Dudley, famous on and off again traitor, and lover of Elizabeth I. But the last man, is an angel. Particularly, the angel Uriel. Hannah was able to see him, because she has the ability of the Sight which consists of mainly of premonitions. The Queen’s Fool follows Hannah’s journey to becoming the “holy fool” to King Edward, Queen Mary, and while she was a princess, Elizabeth I.


It is better than The Boleyn Inheritance, that much I can say. The emotions in Hannah are complex as are the loyalties. The details of the Jewish culture are perhaps the most impressive thing in the book. Sometimes it is hard to wrap your mind of the ideas and actions of the characters in the book, but it is important to keep in mind that this was a different time period and different culture. Unlike some movies that paint Elizabeth in the best light, and Mary in the worst, The Queen’s Fool shows them with good characteristics as well as their flaws. Hannah herself is portrayed as independent, and what we would consider spunky. However, I do not know if Hannah fits the idea of a girl at the time. I like to think there were women like her, but with the culture and societal pressures of the time, I find it hard to believe.


Hannah’s story is almost like a roller coaster though at one point near the end I got bored. You will most likely get frustrated as I did, but all in all if you like historical soap operas, you will probably enjoy this book. The little bit of a supernatural twist helps if you like fantasy, and Gregory serves up something that you can tell that at least her facts are straight even when she does embellish.


Cold Fire by Kate Elliot

    For my first review, I didn’t really choose to do Cold Fire, but it was what I was reading that was current.  I’ve been trying to think of a good way to write about it and decided it is better to just write and see what the readers that my review needed or lacked. So here it goes..
    Cold Fire follows the continuing story of Kat and Beatrice as their world gets ever darker and more complex. Kat goes through a series of swift, life-changing events and emotions that permeate the story. Kat is like any girl her age: she does stupid stuff. I like to think that in this book she does mature through her mistakes though still remains a little naive, which is strange considering how stubborn and intellectual she is. However, for me, this makes her character easier to relate to. Beatrice isn’t featured in this book as much, but still more than the first one in my opinion. She is also naive, but more politically and I love her quick tongue. I hope she plays an even bigger part in the next book.
     It differs greatly from the first book, Cold Magic, in that it is much more fast paced and fraught with politics. The setting is opened up by the cousins traveling and Elliot does a wonderful job of setting the scene. Elliot also offers up a new kind of magic and zombies. It seems like everyone loves zombies these days, but I guess whatever sells. Elliot also introduces new characters that are realistic, interesting and entertaining i.e. Camjiata, a general who wants desperately to become emperor with Marxist views. Overall it is a great read, presenting slightly steampunk (but that isn’t focused upon), fantasy with a realistic heroine who makes mistakes.If you, like steampunk, zombies, British Mythology, and romance, this book is definitely for you.
    I will probably edit this as I’ve probably forgotten something and it seems too short to do the book justice, but please make suggestions so that I might better review and share with you the books I feel you should or shouldn’t read.

Jovah’s Angel by Sharon Shinn

Before I start this review, I have to say that Sharon Shinn is one of my favorite authors. I’m trying not to be bias but when it is a great book what can you do?

Jovah’s Angel is set in Samaria, a world in which science and magic are blended so much you can’t tell which is which. Angels walk among mortals, rule and protect them, and are as beautiful as religious texts claim them to be. However, these are not the Nephilim a reader might assume they will be, though some are sinful enough to be. And Jovah is very different from the Christian God, the oracles talking to him through a plane of glass which words appear in a language only they and Jovah understand.

This is the second book in the world of Samaria, but it can be read with no knowledge of the previous book and reveals nothing substantial about the previous story you cannot figure out on your own early on (unless you are not very good at figuring out plots). Jovah’s Angel, if anything, complements the previous book, Archangel, by offering new information on the world, making clues in Archangel come together.  I would recommend reading Archangel first, but it is not necessary

Another important aspect of this world, the final one (that I can think of right now), is it’s concentration on music. I have to say I don’t listen to music that much and most of the people I know can’t live without it. But when I read scenes in which the angels are singing, I can hear it and it is beautiful. Everyone sings in this world it seems like as singing is how angels pray for rain and save them from God’s wrath each Gloria, a ritual in which the Archangel and his/her angelica/angelico (wife/husband of archangel) lead the country in praising Jovah. The way Shinn writes I long to hear their music and voices. If that doesn’t tell you anything, I don’t know what does.

In this story of Samaria, life has gotten a bit more industrialized than it was before, they have electricity, factories, and a new dam that one of the main characters helped design. This new industrialization and sudden weather problems when angels are supposed to control the weather leads to political distress. There is quite a bit of politics which if you are from the U.S. you should recognize from our history. Of course, there are some things that would apply to other countries, but I’m an American and this is just what I know about. However, if you have read this, I would like to know how someone from a different country relates or doesn’t relate to this book.

The main characters, Alleuia or Alleya and Caleb Augustus are very different from each other but some how fate or Shinn (if you aren’t romantic) casts them together. Alleya has just become the Archangel with a tragedy (but not a fatal one) befalls Delilah, the previous Archangel. Delilah is not quite a main character but not a minor one either as you will see her story unfold through the main characters’ eyes. But back to Alleya,.. she had no desire to be the Archangel and is known as sort of a bookish loner, but Jovah always hears her prayers when he does not hear any of the other angels’. Caleb Augustus is an inventor, a scientist, blunt and lacking in faith. He loves science and his dream is to invent wings that he might fly like the angels. How these very different people come together in very different, separate worlds, you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Overall, this book is a ten to me. However, I know that some Christian sci-fi/fantasy readers might be offended because of the way Shinn uses the angels and Jovah, but I sincerely hope you will stay open-minded and enjoy a great story. Anyone who loves/likes angels, sci-fi, romance, and mystery will be enchanted by this magical, political, intellectual, romantic story. Enjoy and if you’ve read it I would love to know your opinions!

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors and I have once before compared her to Shakespeare of the modern novel. She understands the complexities of human emotion and asks questions that most wouldn’t dare ask. She is, however, probably considered a “woman’s” author, though I don’t see her that way. Her characters are unfathomably layered and so realistic, it is painful. Also, like Shakespeare, Picoult’s happy endings aren’t always happy and yet satisfying. That being said, this book does not have her touch at all.

It is, of course, her daughter’s story and while I’m glad Picoult supports her daughter’s endeavors, I don’t see any of Picoult’s talent in Samantha. The plot is simple enough. A lonely girl finds a fairy tale in which the characters have a separate life from the story. One of the characters is a prince who desperately wants out of the book. Unfortunately, this plot isn’t all this new to me having read a similar story in middle school. This book was called The Great Good Thing. It actually became a really intriguing series and would recommend it to anyone who likes fairy tales or imagines talking to characters or just a bibliophile.

I realize that Samantha Van Leer is only a junior in high school, but this book is not fit for the Young Adult genre. It is more of the children’s book and I don’t mean that as an insult, but simple truth. I feel like through out the story they underestimate the emotions of teenagers and young adults. Maybe it’s just too rose-colored through out and and the end I was left feeling like there were things unresolved or resolved too simply.

I promise I went into this knowing it would not be like Picoult’s other books, but I can’t help feeling disappointed as well as bothered by the fact how greatly their names overwhelm the title. I know that it helps that she is a well-known author, but it saddens me how much they throw it in your face. I won’t say that I’m not bias. But at the same time I do feel like I’ve read enough to confidently say this isn’t the best read, except maybe if you are in 7th or 8th grade, even then you might have a higher level than I do for all I know.

One last thing before I go, I just read The Rise of Nine but wasn’t going to review it having not reviewed the previous books. However, if you want to know my thoughts on it, please let me know!