The Forsaken Queen by Paul Nolen

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Afternnnnnnoon readers and once again happy Monday; If you haven’t noticed there have been many a review here recently and it’s because I’m having a little bit of a lifestyle change. When you’re at university and you’ve drank a pink of vodka the night before and eaten a pile of cheesy chips knowing you only have to attempt to make it to your four o’ clock lecture which will be on the Internet for you to look back at what you’ve missed you don’t have a huge amount to worry about. Now, as an adult with a full-time job you kind of have to look after yourself a little more; this means going to bed earlier, getting up earlier, reading instead of binge watching Supernatural and going for runs. I’ve just given myself a little more time, I try to stay off my phone a little more. It means I’ve got a lot more time to read and so a lot more books to review. I’m sure the influx will eventually die down but for now: the reviews are going to continue coming out of my ears. Today’s is an adventure you don’t want to miss.

What if our history is not as we think it – but as others want it to be? What if we believe only what others want us to believe? When a security guard at Hampton Court claims to have been attacked by a ghost, no one believes him, except that is, for three inquisitive children. A school trip provides them with an opportunity to investigate the guard’s claims, but when they slip away from their party, and conceal themselves within the darkest recesses of the palace, they encounter far more than they could possibly have imagined.Together with his new found friends, Dominique and Simeon, he scours the Great Castles of London, to unravel the secrets of the past, that have so long been locked away. The nearer he comes to the truth, the more he realises that not everything, or everyone, is what he once thought them to be.

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So the blurb is quite extensive so I’m not going to re-tell it to you but instead I’m going to get straight into the nitty-gritty if you like. The plot is really strong and a brilliant fit for the target audience of eleven plus. I think the genre mix of historical fiction/fantasy/adventure is a really strong mix and makes it a versatile read. As the blurb states the book follows the attack of a security guard at Hampton court which leads to Henry and his friends, Simeon and Dominque, going on a quest to unearth what is really going on. They deal with missing shoes, a surprise finding of a letter, the spilling of some rather special ink, an unfortunate event in the boiler room and a near miss with death. What more could an eleven year old reader want from a book.


In terms of characterisation all three are contrasted and written really strongly. I loved that Henry was a little quiet and stubborn but we really see him challenge himself through the book. I didn’t warm to Simeon throughout the book and at the end when the final twist occurs I think I was right to make that judgement however he’s still described well; a little stuck-up, intelligent and sure of himself he contrasts with Henry brilliantly. Dominique is both determined, graceful and full-on and I empathised with her and the pressures her parents were putting upon her. It all felt very genuine and lovingly portrayed. I thought the plot was really intriguing; I’m not going to give too much away because if I do it will spoil it, but it revolves around some rather special letters that could change the way we thought of Henry the 8th and his wife Jane Seymour.

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In terms of writing style it’s quite simple which is good because the plot it so full-on. There are twists and turns, adversities, near misses and with too much description it could bog down the plot and make it a lot slower. It moves with a lot of pace so you’re constantly gabbling to keep up and I think in terms of the target audience that’s what you want rather than long twisting descriptions. Overall this is a real credit to the author and I would have adored this as a younger reader. The mystery, suspense and the adventure added to the fantasy feel. In terms of the plot I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll say this, parents, if you’re trying to get your troublesome early teens to read a little more; this is for you and anyone else that just loves a good adventure.



The Husband’s Secret: Liane Moriarty

So today’s review starts with a huge apology. It is now just under two weeks until everything is due in, dissertation, exam, portfolio and essay for my third year of university. Therefore my blog has been very neglected. I’ve just been so swamped with university work that I have had to put off not only reviewing and blogging but also reading at all, and for that I am extremely apologetic. However, this morning I thought I would start my revision a little later and would write a quick review to give not only myself a break but give my blog some much needed attention.   So, lets get onto the review of, ‘The Husband’s Secret,’ by Liane Moriaty.

My Darling Cecilia

If you’re reading this, then I’ve died . . .

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret – something so terrible it would destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others too. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive . . .

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all – she is not only an incredibly successful businesswoman, but also a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother to three darling daughters. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home and she works hard to sustain the organised life that she is just so, so proud of. But whilst organising a number of boxes in the attic, she finds a letter that will change everything she has ever known, and it will not just affect her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia – or each other – but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of the devastating secret. The story follows the three women firstly Cecilia, and secondly the agreeable Rachel, whose daughter dies very young and is still haunting her day to day. A dedicated and soft woman, she is still finding it difficult to get over the death of her darling daughter; there is no closure and the pain of not knowing is making Rachel’s life all the more difficult. If only the police had really questioned her daughters-then-boyfriend, Connor. Maybe then they would have found out the truth about her sweet daughters death. Finally, Tess, whose husband who has decided he is instead in love with his wife’s cousin. In light of this terrible event Tess whisks herself and her darling son Liam away to her mothers in which to protect him. Back in her childhood home, Tess hooks up with her once boyfriend Connor and the two start a passionate romance. Menawhile, Cecilia questions her husband after she becomes increasingly suspicious when she finds him searching for the letter. She takes it from where she has hidden it and reads it. I won’t spoil it for you, but what she reads will have an effect on her life forever; and in ways that you will never guess until you turn the very last pages. A story of apologies, damage, romance, family, pain and most importantly secrets!

I really enjoyed this book; I was worried that it would not connect strongly enough with me as a reader however I could not help but be dragged along by the plotline. I loved the way that the book weaved between the stories, as it made me keep turning the pages desperate to work out what was going to happen. The letter isn’t actually opened until a significant way through the book and although you may think that makes the book drag, for me it just made me plough through more desperate to know the findings of the letter! I must admit I loved the way that the book ended, Moriarty managed to link up all of the ties whilst making me think and making me wonder about how things could be different dependant on the actions that the different characters made. There were a few negative to the book that left me feeling disappointed; although the characters were very different and had great story lines and they interweaved and kept the pace moving, they were all very difficult to warm to. Cecilia is at times dry and she isn’t the motherly figure we need until very near the end of the book. I wanted to feel her pain and her emotions however I felt myself being unable to warm to her. I also found it difficult to empathise with her, as her feelings were just not explored deeply enough; I wanted to get into her mind and feel everything that she was feeling and it just wasn’t enough. Additionally I found that Rachel’s feelings for her daughter were overplayed; in neglecting her son and her daughter-in-law and focusing everything on the death of her daughter, although pivotal to the story, it became very exhausting and gruelling. I found Tess’s story the most convincing, although not the most powerful, the decision whether to accept the apology of the one that you love to help to keep your family together is extremely powerful. Overall this book is about one question; just how far are you willing to go to protect your family? Your life? And are your actions justified even when it means someone else suffers? In “The Husband’s Secret,” Cecelia is asked the unthinkable—and her inaction has devastating consequences. Some secrets are just not meant to be kept.