Book Review #65: My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley (Advance Reader Copy from Bloomsbury Publishing Australia)

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Title: My Name is Victoria
Author: Lucy Worsley
Pages: 372
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Format: Paperback (Advance Reader Copy)
Date Published: March 09, 2017
Publishing House: Bloomsbury Publishing
GoodReads Rating: 3.87
Personal Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

‘You are my sister now,’ Victoria said, quietly and solemnly. ‘Never forget it. I love you like a sister, and you are my only friend in all the world.’ Miss V. Conroy is good at keeping secrets. She likes to sit as quiet as a mouse, neat and discreet. But when her father sends her to Kensington Palace to become the companion to Princess Victoria, Miss V soon finds that she can no longer remain in the shadows. Miss V’s father has devised a strict set of rules for the young princess, which he calls the Kensington System. It governs her behaviour and keeps her locked away from the world. He says it is for the princess’s safety, but Victoria herself is convinced that it is to keep her lonely and unhappy. Torn between loyalty to her father and her growing friendship with the wilful and passionate Victoria, Miss V has a decision to make: to continue in silence or to speak out. By turns thrilling, dramatic and touching, this is the story of Queen Victoria’s childhood as you’ve never heard it before.

My Personal Thoughts

This book is epic, classy, and very informative. I just love how the author made it look like a cute young adult story but the truth is it talks about history and royalty. The two main characters are both easy to like and understand. One bratty, cute, and moody princess named Victoria which is actually the late Queen Victoria when she was young and careless. And the other girl is Miss V (who also happens to be named Victoria as well), the daughter of the princess’ comptroller. I like the girls’ friendship because it is so pure and innocent, no drama and everything. Miss V is so selfless and devoted to the princess which is what I admired about her the most. The story obviously took place in England where the royal family resides and it is just so awesome to be able to travel back in time and revisit the past thru a modern-ish story like this. The author is a historian and she did a great and awesome job with this novel. It is so entertaining and fun! I like every scene and chapter. I did not get bored. I was able to finish the story in two days and there is just something about it that you won’t be able to set it aside. The antagonist on the other hand who is Miss V’s father, Sir John Conroy, is a manipulator and a total control freak. He symbolizes the image of men ages ago who manipulates women and who constantly wants to be on top and with power. I feel sorry for Princess Victoria’s mother, the Duchess, because Sir John used her to his advantage. Miss V’s mother is also a victim of the man’s greediness. The story is an eye opener, it will make a reader realise what life was a couple of decades ago. How money and wealth rules and how powerless princes and princesses are when choosing who to marry. Overall the story is screaming perfection. I like the first person narration and the small and simple images drawn every chapter. It is a very cute book, the cover is breathtaking and an auto-buy! Thank you, Bloomsbury, for sending me a copy to review and promote. Highly recommended for readers of all ages. Bravo, Miss Worsley, this was incredibly written. 😊

Book Review #41: The Scholl Case: The Deadly End of a Marriage by Anja Reich-Osang

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Title: The Scholl Case: The Deadly End of a Marriage
Author: Anja Reich-Osang
Pages: 213
ISBN13: 1925240932
Format: Paperback
Genre: Mystery, True Crime, Historical Fiction (Germany)
Date of Publication: October 3, 2016
Publishing House: Text Publishing Company
Goodreads Rating: 3.54
Personal Rating: 3.5 / 5
Synopsis

In December 2011, a corpse was found in a forest in Ludwigsfelde, a small and peaceful town south of Berlin. The body was hidden between pine trees, covered with leaves. The victim was Brigitte Scholl, sixty-seven, cosmetician and wife of Ludwigsfelde’s former mayor Heinrich Scholl. There were rumours that Brigitte was raped and killed by a serial killer. While the police hunted for the murderer, parents kept their children indoors, and joggers avoided the forest. Three weeks later, the police arrested the victim’s husband.

The residents were shocked. Heinrich Scholl was well-respected in his community, regarded as the most successful mayor of East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This charming man had it all: a successful career, influential friends and a marriage of almost fifty years. But behind closed doors, it was a very different story. Friends and family were staggered at the picture that emerged during the trial.

In 2012, Heinrich Scholl was pronounced guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. To this day, he pleads not guilty. Journalist and author Anja Reich-Osang followed the trial and talked to family, friends and Heinrich Scholl himself. She tells a gripping story about marriage, sex and politics, where nothing is as it seems.

(Credit to http://www.goodreads.com)
My Personal Thoughts

I am totally mind-blown by this book! The synopsis itself astounded me that much so I requested this copy from Text Publishing to be read and reviewed here in my blog (Thank You!). This was sent to me in exchange for an honest and fair review. I must admit that this story is pretty gripping and intense! I read and finished it in two consecutive days (with bladder break in between, hahaha!). The Mystery/Crime/Thriller genre triggers my adrenaline so badly! I am able to explore and deal with a wrecked relationship; how it affected both the husband and the wife not just physically but emotionally as well.

The story took place in a small town called Ludwigsfelde. It is set right after the World War II. This is the place where the two main characters, Henry and Brigitte, grew up and built their family. I am not sure if young adult readers will find this creation appealing because the setting per se is kind of odd and boring. I personally enjoy reading historical fiction themed books so I did not have a hard time appreciating its beauty.

The main character is Henry Scholl. He is accused and convicted for allegedly murdering and raping his wife. He is an intelligent man, career-oriented, and reserved. He always does things that he thinks is right but he mistakenly did one thing that is not right, and that is marrying Brigitte. It is all for obligation and the promise of belonging. He gets what he wants but not the affection that he needs from his wife. He is actually considered a miserable man. Brigitte, on the other hand, is a glamorous woman who came from a well-off family. She is sophisticated and always after on what other people will think of her and their family. She is an almost-perfect wife except for the fact that she is constantly neglecting Henry.

The writing style is awesome! I am really impressed by how the author showed the readers a real life situation. All the important details to be expected are present; from the day that the couple met until the day that the horrifying death of Brigitte occurred. All the people around their circle are interviewed in a manner that the significant details in the case are presented. This is a very interesting case because a couple who have been married for 50 years and overcame plenty of obstacles in their relationship still ended up being separated, but this one is very tragic. Overall it is a fun reading experience but there are certain things that I dislike about it. There is no closure and the case is not solved, yet. I am left puzzled and hanging; I still want more, more information, and more of everything. The third person narration also bothered me because I am not able to look at Henry’s perspective to be able to understand or guess if he really murdered his wife. I am giving this book 3.5 out of 5.

I made a lot of realizations after diving into their world but I will just state the major thing that made a huge impact on me. Forced relationships do not really work out well. I have met some people in the past who underwent the same situation like Henry and Brigitte (not the tragic part, though). It is so depressing to find two people who are just staying for the sake of the kids or for the sake of not having a broken family. It is stupid and heartbreaking to be in a situation like this. They do not love each other even from the start. They just need each other and it is a win-win situation. This is indeed one of the worst feelings in the world. If you do not want to be with the person any longer, just be straight forward about it. There is no point in staying when you are both aware that you are better off without the other person. In the end, it will just ruin the whole family which is exactly what happened to the main characters. Respect should always be present because once it is gone, everything else will fall.

~JaNnA (@BibliophileMom)~

Janna’s Book Review #29 : Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

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TITLE: Burial Rites
AUTHOR: Hannah Kent
PAGES: 322
FORMAT: Hardback
PUBLICATION DATE: September 30, 2013
ISBN13: 9780316243919
GENRE: Historical Fiction
DATE READ: May 04, 2016
GOODREADS RATING: 3.99
PERSONAL RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 / 5

“People claim to know you through the things you’ve done, and not by sitting down and listening to you speak for yourself.”

📚 S Y N O P S I S 📚

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect if housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Toti, a priest Agnes mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, Burial Rites evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

©Goodreads

📖 M Y T H O U G H T S 📖

📚 SETTING 📚

The story took place in Iceland during the 1800’s. I adore each and every part of this masterpiece. Margaret and Jon’s farm-house served as Agnes’s home during the times when Reverend Toti tried to bring back her faith in God prior to her execution. The place matches the flow of the story and every part is relevant and significant. In addition to that, it is very classy and informative.

📚 CHARACTERS 📚

Agnes Magnusdottir is a 34 y/o woman who was convicted and sentenced to die due to murder. She was accused of killing her master, Natan, so she suffered for a long time inside the prison. When her verdict was given, she was sent out to a family to be adopted in their farm (because the district commissioner is cost-cutting) while waiting for the day of her beheading. I am impressed with her character although at first I got bored and skeptical of her. She rarely talked. She observed a lot and was afraid to open up even to the reverend assigned to her (whom she secretly requested). Her weakness was loving someone deeply, even to the point of swallowing her own pride and honor just to be with the person that she truly desires. I hate the fact that she did not tell anybody about the truth right away, she let the people and the commissioners believe on all the lies. She kept the truth to herself and refused to fight back. If only the people who cared for her came sooner.

📚 WRITING STYLE AND PLOT 📚

This is one of the best books that I have read this year! I love each and every chapter.  Everything makes sense! Reading a historical fiction is an eye-opener, it will make you realize the kind of life that the people during those times had especially those who were convicted of crimes. A true to life story touches a reader’s heart. Mine was broken and shattered into pieces a couple of times and I almost cried and broke down especially because of the last chapter. I did not enjoy it (not in a negative way though) because it is not entertaining, majority of the readers especially the young ones will not be fond of it. It may not be a fun read but the writing style is awesome amd addictive! Hannah Kent nailed it! She writes deeply, kind of dark but with justice. Ofcourse there are dull moments, times that I fell asleep, but despite of it all, the urge to finish it is always present. I wanted to know who the killer was and if there’s still a slight chance for Agnes to be pardoned in the end. It is depressing, very depressing. I don’t remember any part in the book where I become happy or overjoyed. It is the epitome of heartbreak and disappointment but it is definitely one of the best books that I have ever read so far. The plot is common, about those people who were sentenced to die even though they did nothing wrong. I felt sorry for Agnes because she got no one. Being alone is just so traumatic specially in her case. It is a good thing that Margaret, John and Stein came in her life together with Reverend Toti even just for a while. It is also a slow read but I wasn’t bothered. All in all it is epic and one of a kind. It is kind of hard for me though because there’s an alternating point of view and narration. Some chapters were in the 3rd person narration while some were in the first person point of view. I got confused during the first few chapters. Lastly, some words are deep and hard to understand.

📚 FAVORITE LINES 📚

“For the first time in my life, someone saw me, and I loved him because he made me feel I was enough.”

“It is the waiting that cripples.”

“The treachery of a friend is worse than that of a foe,”

“It seems everyone I love is taken from me and buried in the ground, while I remain alone. Good thing, then, that there is no one left to love. No one left to bury.”

“There is only ever a sense that what is real to me is not real to others, and to share a memory with someone is to risk sullying my belief in what has truly happened”

📚 OVERALL RATING 📚

Beheading is the complete separation of the head from the body which results in death either through an axe, sword or knife. According to Wikipedia, Saudi Arabia is the only country that continues to behead its offenders regularly as a punishment for crime.

This book is a 4.5/5 for me. Kuddos to the author for creating a book that will be remembered. Every part of this book is amazing. It is indeed a masterpiece worth reading. It is well-written and the cover is screaming beauty and class. I highly recommend it because as a reader, we should all come out of our comfort zones once in a while and try something new. A  genre like this is hard to like but it will make you a flexible reader and you will appreciate history more.

📚 CONCLUSION 📚

I realized and learned a lot from this novel. That is the best part of reading a book, realizing what are its impact to your life and sharing it to other people as well. Here are some of them:

Always tell the truth. People may never believe you but it is your only chance.

Never be judgmental. Just because someone has a reputation doesn’t mean that he or she is already a bad person.

Loving someone makes you weak. Sometimes it makes you stupid. Choose wisely.

xoxo, JaNnA💋