Book Review: “Bad Girls Throughout History” by Ann Shen

Hello!

So… I had hoped that I would have a completely different blog post for you today but I was up late one night and like I mostly do in the daytime, I scrolled through the “newer” books on Kindle Unlimited. I have figured a small system, and one thing I have noticed helps me out sometimes is clicking the “Last 30 Days” of when the books come out on KU. I have found quite a few books through this route but this was one of my most exciting discoveries to date, it was also the quickest reads in a really, really long time!


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Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World delivers a empowering book for women and girls of all ages, featuring 100 women who made history and made their mark on the world, it’s a best-selling book you can be proud to display in your home.

The 100 revolutionary women highlighted in this gorgeously illustrated book were bad in the best sense of the word: they challenged the status quo and changed the rules for all who followed. Explored in this history book, include:

• Aphra Behn, first female professional writer.
• Sojourner Truth, women’s rights activist and abolitionist.
• Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer.
• Marie Curie, first woman to win the Nobel Prize.
• Joan Jett, godmother of punk.

From pirates to artists, warriors, daredevils, women in science, activists, and spies, the accomplishments of these incredible women who dared to push boundaries vary as much as the eras and places in which they effected change. Featuring bold watercolor portraits and illuminating essays by Ann Shen, Bad Girls Throughout History is a distinctive, gift-worthy tribute to rebel girls everywhere.

A lovely gift for teen girls, stories to share with a young girl at bedtime, or a book to display on a coffee table, everyone will enjoy learning about and celebrating the accomplishments of these phenomenal women.

taken from Amazon.

One of my favorite things is learn more about women, their histories, hobbies, relationships, sexuality, etc, just to gain another sort of boost of inspiration for my own life. I started my love of books, while reading fictional tales of famous women like Queen Elizabeth I and Marie Antoinette while I was in high school, and as I continue to grow, I am pushing for more stories like them. I will generally read a book in a female point of view but would rather write in a male’s point of view instead. Good luck explaining that one to me later!

I was very surprised by the fact that this book popped on my screen, and it wasn’t until I was done that I figured out how I found it at all. The author of “The Lost Pharaoh Chronicles,” Lauren Lee Mattingly was actually Ann’s editor for this book. After seeing this, I was like, “okay, that could be the reason why it literally appeared out of nowhere!” and made a note to make sure I included that piece of information for you guys. Honestly, even if I hadn’t known about it, I already had the actual book on my to-be-read list, so all in all, it was a nice easy book.

To be a bad girl is to break any socially accepted rule. For some women, it’s the way they dress. For other girls, it’s the act of going to school.

Unfortunately, I accidently read one or two reviews while trying to add it to my overwhelming “currently reading” stack of books on Goodreads, and someone had mentioned that although it was a great list of women, it wasn’t very diverse. I really try not to let another person’s comments reflect my own thoughts, but they were right. Out of 100 women mentioned in the book, there were only a handful I did not know about, and that really drove me crazy because as much as I adored reading about Grace O’Malley, Mata Hari, Rosa Parks and Nora Ephron, I expected lesser known bad girls included and the ones who were in the lineup, had like the smallest section. I was a little bummed out about this but again, it was a great book anyways!

Have you read “Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed The World” by Ann Shen? If you have, what were your thoughts on it overall?

Book Review: “Highland Queen” by Melanie Karsak

Hello!

On July 4th, I finished my final book of the “Celtic Blood” series by Melanie Karsak.

I was under 20% of the way done so I knew if I didn’t get too distracted I would be able to do it but I told you all back in March that I would (probably) be done in the summertime and now that I’ve added another series to my belt, I feel so sad AND thrilled on the accomplishment! .

Honestly, it didn’t take me very long but I also had to fight their tears towards the end so the whole thing ended up taking to less than a hour. It was strange because once I was told to go outside, I was able to shut off my thoughts about everything that happened and then when I came back inside later that night I allowed myself to dive deep into the story again. I gave myself little over 12 hours to think about things and that is more than any other book I’ve read in past three years! I like to get all of my thoughts out while they’re still fresh but for this, it was necessary for me to treat it differently.


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The king is dead.
Long live the queen.


With Duncan defeated, Gruoch becomes Queen of Scotland. Now she must rule at Macbeth’s side, a difficult prospect as the new King of Scots grows increasingly unstable. To keep her son, her love, and her country safe, Gruoch must call upon the raven.

Dive into the final installment of Gruoch’s epic tale in Highland Queen , a Scottish Historical Fantasy, Book 4 in The Celtic Blood Series by New York Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak.

taken from Goodreads.

After the events in the last book, Highland Vengeance, I knew what could be coming next would make me cry regardless and I’m glad I established that belief early on because everytime Gruoch talked about Lulach and Creawry, I would just start bawling my eyes out, but we finally get the answer about their paternity somewhat early in the story and as joyful that was, I was still full of emotions for Gruoch because that is what led her to that spot in her life. We are all given choices in our lives and even though we believe someone else is forcing us there, we are the ones who make the decision in the first place and it was a nice reminder for not only Gruoch but for me too.

The book isn’t full of sadness–although there were scenes that would make you think otherwise!–there are a lot of beautiful moments for Gruoch. Now that she was Queen of Scotland, she moved into another part of her life and that was caring for her estranged husband, King Macbeth, who was dealing with madness. You see a slither of it in HV but it really becomes apparent to practically everyone that Macbeth is not well at all. Gruoch is caring for everyone at this point, She is only staying there with him for the safety of Lulach’s future and she also deeply cares for her friends and family all around Scotland. She has Bancquo though and is finally able to devote her personal self to him and something happens that changes things for everyone all at once.

Avenger. Warrior. Queen. You have come full circle, Cerridwen.

As much as I loved this book, there were things I truly felt didn’t need to be included in the plot. The first were the gloves. I understand why she needed them but saying who they were from out loud and knowing that something might be given back in return as the series ends was a little odd to me. It might be part of her life as the Wyrd Sisters but we don’t get to know anything else about them. The final note was the actual ending. I had prepared myself for more deaths (as sad as that sounds!) and basically expected a bigger death but there wasn’t one really, and a group of people are saved and that’s how the whole thing ends. It was almost like a cliffhanger without any idea what happens to these people, and Melanie does acknowledge this in the ‘Author’s Note’ but I felt like it could have stopped after Gruoch’s meeting with Lulach because I thought that was beautiful (and made me cry even more!) but it kept going and I was very confused of the whole thing.

Now I am done and I don’t know what exactly to do. I have been looking on Kindle Unlimited for other books like this, where you have the historical fiction and fantasy elements there and I have found one other called Tree of Ages by Sara C. Roethle. It is based on the Druids so I will be able to learn more about them in a fictionalized way, but I might have figured out another book that discusses Paganism of different religions, like Norse, Celtic and Wiccan paganisms. If you have any suggestions into what I should look into next, please leave a comment below and I will check it out sometime!

Have you read “Highland Queen” by Melanie Karsak yet? What about the entire series? If you have, what were thoughts on how everything ended? Do you have a favorite book too?

Book Review: “Highland Vengeance” by Melanie Karsak

Hello!

It is finally time to talk about the third book in the Celtic Blood series, by Melanie Karsak. If you would like to check out what I had to say about the other two books, they are Highland Raven and Highland Blood. This post will include some spoilers down below, so in case you want to read the entire set (it’s free on Kindle Unlimited right now!) you may want to ditch this review!

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get started on discussing what went on in Corbie’s next stage in life.


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Scotland, 1032

Everything Gruoch loves has turned to ash. With Gillacoemgain gone, Gruoch rides north with her newborn son and a broken heart. While she desperately clings to hope, Gruoch’s new alliance with Macbeth proves more challenging than she ever anticipated. Only her unexpected reunion with an important person from her past offers solace. All may yet be well, but the raven’s wary eyes cannot help but notice clouds gathering on the horizon.

taken from Goodreads.

There were a lot of things I absolutely loved about this book, but it was definitely bittersweet!

When we come to this book, you see the cycle of being a woman of medieval times and I instantly felt horrible for her. However, she isn’t a young girl anymore; she was the raven, a widow, mother of two beautiful babies and she really took control of her life. She returns to Cawdor with only Lulach and they begin on this new journey, and the first thing she does is make the decision to seek out Macbeth instead of her cousin Duncan (for obvious reasons!), and although it was strange to choose the man who may have killed her husband, there would have no way in hell of going with option #2. Unfortunately, this marriage isn’t exactly the happiest for her but I liked the fact that she basically said, forget it! I don’t want no part of this anymore and focused her attention to raising Lulach as the successor of Moray.

“This is the sad reality we must accept. I am Gruoch, Daughter of Boite and Lady of Moray. I am the mother of Lulach, son of Gillacoemgain. You must know me as such.

On top of that, we see a familiar face come back into her life. As much as I really liked Gillacoemgain and how he treated her as both a woman and wife, especially since history has a way of showing the worst in men and when it comes to the line of succession, alliances have to be made and sometimes they don’t work out as you will see in this one, but it was nice to see another person so devoted to Corbie come back into her life. This person is a supporter of Macbeth with Jarl Thorfinn of Orkney, as they will lead the northern party against the king and Duncan.

The only thing I had an issue with was what happens starting on Chapter 42, because Melanie jumps through the years and we are told that they will be a war near the end, we are only centered around the final battle. Corbie joins everyone on the field and embraces the dark goddess, her magic and the raven for this one moment, and she was such a badass! I was proud of her throughout these books, but this was everything to me! She was finally able to get their revenge and it was so glorious!

As we enter the final book, I am slightly unsure of what could happen and basically everyone else close to her. She becomes Queen, but she only has this title because of Macbeth. I think she will have to make some even harder decisions about what she wants for not only herself but children too. I already know I will be crying because I know there will be more deaths and they are going to be hard on my heart as much as Corbie, but I’m ready to finish her story before the summer is over.

Have you read this book or any of the others in the Celtic Blood series? If you have, which one is your ultimate favorite of all time? What were thoughts after finishing “Highland Vengeance” too?

Book Review: “Salvation In The Sun” by Lauren Lee Merewether

Hello!

I have been interested in Ancient Egypt since I was very young, and I know I’ve said this before, but I’ve watched hundreds of documentaries over the years and even visited the King Tut exhibit at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum back in 2009! It was so amazing to see all of these treasures laid out and read about what each item meant to the boy king and the rest of Ancient Egypt too. I still wish I had a blog back then because I would have lots of material to talk about for a few months! I hope this isn’t the only exhibit I will ever visit because it was everything to me.

Now, as for this book, I wasn’t even looking for a new read; it just sort of happened by accident. I was a day away from getting another book and I decided to look up historical fiction books about different eras and places, and this one kind of popped up on the first try and I am so glad I found it because it was nice to be introduced to these figures I’ve heard about for years, and in a strange way, they became so real for me. I just can’t wait to share things with you below.


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This future she knows for certain–the great sun city will be her undoing.

Amidst a power struggle between Pharaoh and the priesthood of Amun, Queen Nefertiti helps the ill-prepared new Pharaoh, Amenhotep, enact his father’s plan to regain power for the throne. But what seemed a difficult task only becomes more grueling when Amenhotep loses himself in his radical obsessions.

Standing alone to bear the burden of a failing country and stem the tide of a growing rebellion, Nefertiti must choose between her love for Pharaoh and her duty to Egypt in this dramatic retelling of a story forgotten by time.

Salvation in the Sun is the first volume of Lauren Lee Merewether’s debut series, The Lost Pharaoh Chronicles, a resurrection of an erased time that follows the five Kings of Egypt who were lost to history for over three millennia. The story continues in book two, Secrets in the Sand.

taken from Goodreads.

I actually didn’t read the blurb so all I really knew was this was going to be the story of a pharaoh. The one hint I did get right was the word “sun” so this instantly lead me to believe we’d be discussing the origins of the Aten. Now for anyone who knows anything about Ancient Egypt, you may be familiar with the amount of different gods, goddesses, and deities and the importance of afterlife. While the book mentions a few things, it focus on the beginning of both Akhenaten and Nefertiti disbanding and creating one singular god, the sun disc, the Aten.

You start with a scene where the “current” Pharaoh and his Queen, are making the decision to basically erase everything about this time. I thought opening it up with this was very interesting! You could tell in a way that they were forced into this idea but before it happens, they discuss it out loud with the priests of Amun-Re one last time; and then we are suddenly brought to a birthing scene and we learn about a fictionized story of Queen Nefertiti. Nefertiti is a very mysterious character in general. We know very little about her, but there are records that speak about how beautiful she was and how she became regent perhaps before the boy king, Tutankhamun.

“It is a wonderful thing, to be the powerful Queen of Egypt, but it is a cursed thing.

You see the makings of a Pharaoh with Amenhotep, and although the main character is Nefertiti, he is just as important because he is the one who made the decision for everything. However, there are some features to Amenhotep that we need to discuss beforehand. Amenhotep is seen as a weakling to basically everyone of the royal family. He fights for acceptance to anyone with importance and the main person is his namesake, his father: Pharaoh Amenhotep III. There were many scenes that I thought were crucial to be understood about the mind of this person, especially after changing the main religion of the whole country. Nobody wants to be a heretic but yet he was so open to the possibly he’d make his father proud of what he was able to do as Pharaoh, but it wasn’t the only element that drove Amenhotep in general. He’s always felt unwanted and the one thing that made him feel better at all was sitting in the sun. He believed that the sun was healing him of his physical aliments and nobody likes to be told something different just because the other disagrees, I mean, trust me I deal with it all the time!

Honestly, I didn’t quite know what to expect once I started reading. but once I got started though, it became very difficult to put it aside for a long period of time, so I managed to get through pretty quickly and still ended up liking it more than I thought I would! There were parts that I found to be like in the times of King Henry VIII’s break from the Catholic faith. If you have watched The Tudors on Showtime, you might remember the contrast between King Henry at the time of choosing an entirely different God and religion to worship for his people and the power struggle for his eldest daughter Princess Mary, because she was still very Catholic and since Henry believed his marriage with Catherine if Aragon was wrong and wanted a divorce from her so he could marry Anne Boleyn. She saw her father and younger siblings as heretics, as they also saw her as one in their Protestant perspective as well!

It may seem like I had a difficult time dealing with what I’ve learned and reading the first book in the series, but honestly, I opened up to it fully. I wanted to see someone else’s “suggestions” in a way. I am finally getting better at reading historical fiction stories and I’m deeply thankful for it because I literally can’t wait to see what else could happen in Nefertiti’s story, because instead of being focused on the statue of her that I’ve grown up knowing about, I am able to see her as a real human being, dealing with life, even in ancient times, they were really alive and endured a lot of things that most people can only think about, or don’t want to think about! If you can separate what history tells you and like to explore new but familiar worlds, I think you may enjoy the rest of the series. Lauren has a wide selection of Ancient Egypt books and they’re available on Kindle Unlimited too!

Have you ever read Lauren Lee Merewether’s “The Lost Pharaoh Chronicles” yet? If you have, what were your thoughts about the story of Nefertiti so far?

Book Review: “Before Wallis: Edward VIII’s Other Women” by Rachel Trethewey

Hello!

I did not expect to finish two books this month but I am thrilled to do so, because I’m not reading as much as I did at the start of the year, so I have been feeling discouraged about it lately. And if I am reading, I’m not going as fast either, like with this book, I began reading it during the last week of March and it was smooth sailing for a while but then once I distracted with other things, I kind of lost my mojo with it.

Something you may not know about me is that I have thought if I was alive around the time that Edward was alive, I’d probably be one of his ‘royal groupies’ honestly him and Prince Albert (King George VI) were so good looking that I often wonder what exactly happened with the recent generations! I swear I think the good looks stopped after The Queen and her sister Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. Of course, this is just my opinion on the matter!


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Wallis Simpson was the woman who stole the king’s heart and rocked the monarchy – but she was not Edward VIII’s first or only love. This book is about the women he adored before Wallis dominated his life.

There was Rosemary Leveson Gower, the girl he wanted to marry and who would have made the perfect match for a future king; the Prince’s long-term mistress, Freda Dudley Ward, who exerted a pull almost equal to Wallis over her lover, but abided by the rules of the game and knew she would never marry him. Then there was Thelma Furness, his twice-married American lover, who enjoyed a domestic life with him, but realized it could not last forever and demanded nothing more than to be his mistress.

In each love affair, Edward behaved like a cross between a little boy lost and a spoilt child. Each one of the three women in this book could have changed the course of history. In examining their lives and impact on the heir to the throne, we question whether he ever really wanted to be king.

taken from Goodreads.

I have always wondered about Edward VIII, and how he, himself, saw the monarchy in the early 1900’s. He was an odd duck as royals go, as he would rather wear polo clothes and smoke out in public than keeping the suit and tie, discreet traditions, He also had a habit with chasing women too. As you learn in this book, there were quite a few women who had his attention before he became infatuated with Wallis Simpson.

When you first start reading, the author Rachel explains that while you will learn about the three main women in Edward’s life before meeting Wallis, later you will learn more about their lives after each relationship fizzled out. The first lady is Lady Rosemary Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, as she acts as a nurse in a field hospital created by her own mother, Millicent, The Duchess of Sutherland around 1918. It was while taking care of wounded soldiers that she met the prince for the first time.

The more I was able to learn about Rosemary, the more I fell in love with her too. It is such a shame that the King and Queen refused their son’s wish to marry her because she was the ultimate woman for the king-to-be, but it also reminds you that despite being part of the upper class of nobility and well-liked throughout the royal family, even they had their standards. If it wasn’t for King Edward VII’s “secret” relationship to Rosemary’s half-aunt Daisy, Countess of Warwick (plus her blunt opinions of politics!) Rosemary would have been the perfect bride and Queen consort to the prince,

Once that relationship was over, Edward moved onto another well known lady of nobility: Freda Dudley Ward. She was the wife of William Dudley Ward, the Liberal member of Parliament (MP) and they had two daughters and you will get to know everyone, trust me. Edward’s relationship to Freda lasted for 10 years and is the bulk of the actual book.

This is where you start to see a noticeable shift personality wise with Edward, because Rachel includes the letters he wrote to the Queen, Rosemary and Freda. He leans on Freda on support not just for a sexual release. He was as invested with Freda as if they were married like a regular couple. Honestly, at first I really wasn’t a big fan of Freda, mainly because she was next in line, but as I continued reading, I ended up changing my mind. She was first and most importantly a mother in a era where the children where mostly left with nannies but she truly loved her daughters and they came before anything, including her lovers!

And then finally, we move to Thelma Furness, Viscountess Furness. My opinion of Thelma never went away, because she just seemed so self-centered compared to her counterparts. Thelma had a twin sister named Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, and Thelma is the aunt to Gloria Vanderbilt and great-aunt to Anderson Cooper! After figuring this out, I was pretty much done with learning more about Thelma’s personal life.

He did not want to be a prince on a pedestal, but rather to be treated like an ordinary man.

One thing that I definitely kept in the back of my mind was when Prince Charles was starting his relationship with Camilla, before he met Lady Diana, because Camilla was already married, The Queen Mother and Lord Louis Mountbatten thought that Charles would ruin the monarchy because it was like when Edward met Wallis, as she was already divorced once in the beginning and then of course become divorced again to keep the prince. They had arranged that Prince Charles meet and talk to his paternal great-uncle The Duke of Windsor. Obviously we don’t know what was said but whether or not Edward had the same thoughts about Camilla, Charles didn’t care and perused her anyways.

The thing is, I was thinking that the book itself reminded me of Prince Charles, when he was running around with all of these women in the his 20’s and 30’s, before settling down, but honestly he made think about the royal family’s current situation with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Edward was never happy with his public persona as the first son of the king, and you could see it on his face that he seemed bored and sad in a way, and I think he acted out with his many relationships to find some normalcy in his life. We don’t know what truly goes on within the royal court and households so I actually saw the Harry and Meghan exit as senior members in a new light.

If you are interested in learning about the British royal family, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and everything else that happened from 1918-1934, this is the book for you. It was a very interesting read but I only gave it three stars because it did become somewhat boring towards the end.

Have you read ‘Before Wallis’ by Rachel Trethewey yet? If you have, what did you get out of it the most? Did your opinion(s) about the previous and/or modern royals change at all?