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Category Archives: History

Book Review – The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

ARC Received from Netgalley

Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.

This book was a very welcome surprise for me. I knew it was a historical YA type read. I knew that it focussed on America amidst the women’s suffrage movement and I hoped it was really going to grab my attention. And thanks to very clever writing it absolutely did!

Olivia is the daughter of a dentist father, is supposed to be the perfectly behaved young lady that society expects her to be… She is also book smart and is a progressive thinker. She strives to be a part of the movement that intends to earn women the same rights as men and is enamoured with the changing tide of what is expected of women. She is, in so many way, the epitome of a teenager… She is just the 1900 equivalent to our modern day teens. These days we strive for our children to question everything, we encourage independent thought and tell them that they can do anything. However this was not always the case and if there is one thing this book does very well it’s that it reminds us to remember just how far we’ve come and what’s at stake if we become complacent.

I am a history buff, I love a good historical read, so this book was always going to catch my interest. However this book has something more than that, a point of difference that really makes its presence known. The very mysterious hypnotist Henri Reverie manages to bestow on Olivia a very unwelcome gift. Resulting in not only her seeing things ‘the way they really are’ but seeing them with so much gruesome detail that suddenly there are fangs, yellow eyes and evilness personified at every turn. THIS detail. THIS part of the story is what pushes this book into the ‘something special pile’.

At the very basis of the story it is a fictional telling of a young females experience during the time where women were fighting for their right to vote. For their right to be heard. For their right to fight to be equals. What the author has done so cleverly is write it in a way that it’s an accessible history lesson, rich in descriptive supernatural elements. This story is a story that makes me proud to be female, proud of where we’ve come. Education and entertainment wrapped so perfectly together you don’t realize where one ends and the next begins, definitely a ‘must read’.

The Cure for Dreaming

By Cat Winters

photo credit: El Bibliomata via photopin ccphoto credit: national museum of american history via photopin cc

Book Review – Kings & Queens by Terry Tyler

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This book was received from the Author in return for an honest review

Terry Tyler’s seventh novel is a romantic drama spanning the years 1971 – 2007, with an unusual echo from history …

“KINGS AND QUEENS” tells of the life and loves of charismatic Harry Lanchester, which just happen to mirror the story of Henry VIII and his six wives. All the passion and suspense of the Tudor court, but set in modern times.

Harry’s realm is his South of England property developing company, Lanchester Estates, while his ‘wives’ are the twentieth century sisters of their historic counterparts: Anne Boleyn is reincarnated as the equally intriguing Annette Hever, and Henry VIII’s fifth wife with the risqué past, Catherine Howard, lives again in 1999 as Keira Howard, a former lap dancer.

The saga is narrated by each of the six women, in turn, interspersed with short chapters from the point of view of Harry’s lifelong friend, Will Brandon.

Don’t worry if you know nothing of this period in history – “Kings and Queens” can be enjoyed as a contemporary family drama, very much in the vein of Ms Tyler’s previous novels. Readers with an interest in the Tudors, though, will pick up on many similarities, references and metaphors, some quite amusing. For those non-Tudor fanatics who would like a brief look at the life of Henry VIII before reading, the author has included, in the Kindle book, a link to a mini-biography on her blog.

A sequel, following the lives of Harry’s three children, is already planned.

There was the promise that this novel would be something different. That it would entwine the story of Henry VIII and our (by comparison) very modern current day world. I knew that if it was done well I was going to absolutely be absorbed by it. I also knew that if Terry Tyler wrote the characters in this book nearly as well as she had done in the past books of hers that I’ve read then I would be well and truly enamoured. I’m very happy to report that my expectations were more than met on both counts.

I loved how the book was broken down. Having the women in Harry’s life tell the story kept the pace up and most importantly it kept it fresh. Because Terry Tyler is so great at really giving her characters their own ‘voice’ and making them as individual as you and I are, you really got a clear picture of each woman, of how people and their personalities and idiosyncrasies really can make everything so completely different from what it was and what it will be. It’s so true that some people bring out the best in each other and some bring out the worst.

Along with the ‘wives’ each recounting their time with Harry we also hear regularly from Will, who is Harry’s best friend. His chapters are integral to the story as he fills in gaps and fleshes out parts of the storyline that you just know there is more to tell…. (Obviously the wives don’t witness everything about their husband’s life!) I definitely did have my favourites from the six women in Harry’s life, but Will had to trump them all. Possibly because he had been a constant in Harry’s life since they were both children and he was the kind of friend that stuck by Harry even when he didn’t agree with him, the romantic minded soul in me loves the idea of that length of friendship, or possibly because he seemed to be one of the kindest characters in the book, or possibly because he always came through with the extra details to whatever scandal was going on at the time. Whatever the reason I love how sometimes a character can sneak up on you like that and become someone that you are very attached to.

It’s so true that you don’t need really any knowledge at all of the Tudors to enjoy this book. You absolutely could pick it up and read it for what it is and be very entertained, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. But like I said at the beginning of this review I LOVE that there is more to it than that if you want there to be, that you can draw parallels between the stories of Harry and Henry VIII. That this take on the Tudor history has you dying to know more, even though really you do know the path the story takes… but trust me, even though you know the direction of this story you will not sit there checking off the boxes. There is so much going on that you’ll just HAVE to know whats coming next.

Terry Tyler has cleverly written a mini history on the Tudors on her blog so that those who want to know all about the people and story that this modern day fiction is based on then they can, I popped on and had a quick read as a refresher (I had a basic knowledge but certainly nothing in-depth enough to think I knew this story.) Personally I’m really glad that I did this, I definitely felt like knowing the history that the book is based on really added to the complete package of this story, I could appreciate the links that wouldn’t have been so obvious if I hadn’t schooled myself on the subject first. It really did illustrate how much thought and skill has gone into writing this very absorbing, very entertaining re-imagining of the tales of Henry VIII and his six wives. I have to say, that this is my favourite Terry Tyler read so far.

Kings And Queens

By Terry Tyler

photo credit: joiseyshowaa via photopin ccphoto credit: Caucas’ via photopin cc