Book Review: The Royal Art of Poison by Eleanor Herman

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I would first like to thank  Clare and Netgalley  for letting me apart of the ” The Royal Art of Poison”  blog tour.  The title of this book in just a few words sets the tone perfectly about what this book is going to about.  Not only do we get a good dose of history about Royals,  but we also get deadly medical practices,  murderous intrigues, and deadly poisons as well.

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Palace of Versailles

I think this book more than anything gave me a major wake up call.  After reading this I was grateful  that I lived in this time period and not back in the past.  One of the things I found interesting about this book,  was when Herman was talking about Castles. Unlike today,  most of the palaces back then didn’t have proper sewage running through them. So most of the time courtiers would find a secluded spot and urinate and defecate in different parts of the castle (i.e. palace staircase).  It was just not people,  but animal feces could be seen around the castle and grounds as well. It had gotten so bad in the court of Henry VIII that he had to crack down and put up a sign banning people from urinating and defecating in the Palace and on Palace grounds.

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Queen Elizabeth I

 

Another intriguing topic that was discussed in this book was cosmetics.  Women were literally killing themselves all in the name of beauty.  Well known historical figures like,  Queen Elizabeth I is well known for the cosmetics she wore. After suffering a bout of smallpox,  she started to apply deadly toxins to her skin in order to cover the pox marks.  Some of these toxins consisted of mercury and human fat that they got from prisoner that they just executed. It was said that Elizabeth suffered from depressions and dark moods towards the end of her life.  Could these toxins have contributed to her mood swings and her ultimate death?  Another interesting fact is that Elizabeth I didn’t want to be embalmed,  due to how the embalmers treated the body.  She wanted her body to be washed,  dressed, and covered with sweet smelling spices.  Elizabeth  really enjoyed this book. These orders were ignored because they were late in burying because they were waiting on James I.

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I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was very well written. I thought this book was very informative, and it made me want to study more on certain historical figures. Eleanor Herman has a way of making history fun.  I was not bored at all with this story.  I would highly recommend this book who is interested in royalty, history,  poisons,  and murder/mystery sort of thing. Please pick this book at your library or bookstores today !!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Suzanne’s Children: A daring rescue In Nazi Paris by Anne Nelson

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My enemies can kill me. But they cannot harm me ~ Socrates

“Where the children are, the mothers should be , so they can watch over them”

     “I regret Nothing”

My thought’s

 I heard about Suzanne’s Children on  Steve Donoghue’s channel on book tube.  I highly recommend his YouTube channel,  he has all sorts of good recommendations on their for nonfiction and fiction.

I quickly added this to my TBR because I found the summary interesting,  Plus anything involving WWII,  Holocaust,  and Third Reich attracts me like a magnet.  I just find this period of history very fascinating and want to learn more on it.  You’ll probably see more books like this pop up here for review.

 

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Suzanne’s Children centers around Suzanne Spaak, who was born into a wealthy Belgian family.  She married Claude Spaak despite her family disapproval.

Both Suzanne and Claude ended up having two children. Their marriage eventually grew sour and they started to lead separate lives from each other.  Claude busy with his career, and was living openly with his mistress, who happened to be Suzanne’s best friend Ruth.

Suzanne who was angered with the Nazi occupation in France joined the resistance.   At first she did menial jobs,  but then she joined the Red Orchestra, and started rescuing children and hiding them from the Nazis.

Overall,  I really enjoyed this book.  I thought that it was pretty easy read. Though,  I was having a rough time  pronouncing and reading some of the French that was littered throughout the story  (French is not my first language).  There was some parts where she would put translations in parenthesis ,  which I was very grateful for.

I also enjoyed how this book highlighted unsung heroes as well.  Even though this book was about Suzanne Spaak, who herself was an unsung heroe ,  Anne Nelson highlighted other people who were in the resistance and the Red Orchestra. She highlights the people who took Jewish children at the risk of themselves and their families.

The criticism I have read on this book is that people felt that the title was misleading.  which I can understand because its not until almost the end of the book she starts talking about how Suzanne Spaak started rescuing Jewish children.  I was kind of thinking this as well,  but once I read the book in its entirety I changed my mind.

Anne Nelson  just doesn’t give you one piece of the puzzle,  she gives you the entire picture.  I love how detailed that this book was. I think that in order to understand how Suzanne was able to go far as she did in rescuing Jewish children you would have to look in her past and the current situation that she is living in.  All of which Anne Nelson covers in this book.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Nazi occupation in France.  I think that this a great starter book.  This book has made me want to read more on that subject as a whole.

I would love to hear any recommendations that you might have.  So if you have any suggestions please comment below.  Thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review : Edward VII: The Prince of Wales and the Women He Loved By Catherine Arnold

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My thoughts

 

I want to start off by thanking St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for sending an arch of this to my Kindle.  It is much appreciated.  I just loved this book. I

I have not done and in depth study of the Reign of King Edward, I know more about his mother’s reign than I do his.

I think that this book would be a good place to start in trying to learn about him. The book centers around  the women in King Edward VII ( Bertie) life. Like Lillie Langtry,  Daisy Warwick,  and Alice Keppel. She also touches on Queen Alix and other women who Bertie had affairs with briefly ( i.e Prostitutes).

Catherine Arnold is a master story teller. I love her writing style she kept me entranced throughout this book.  I got it done very quickly.

I couldn’t put it down.

I like how she started the book by talking about Prince Albert’s death. Victoria consumed in her grief shunned and blamed Bertie for his death. I think that this greatly affected Bertie, and his subsequent relationships.  I kind of wish that Catherine Arnold had explored this avenue a little bit more.  She then goes on and talks about brief affairs that Bertie had ( i.e.  prostitutes). She the moves onto more serious relationships. She spent the most time on  Lillie Langtry,  Alice Keppel and Daisy Warrick. Given detailed accounts about their early life and their relationship with the Prince of wales.  She does dedicate some chapters to Jennie Churchill, who was the mother of Winston Churchill. Jennie was rumored to be Bertie’s mistress but it was never proven.

I have to say these were my favorite chapters.  I heard of Winston Churchill,  but I didn’t realize how interesting his family was.  I intend remedy this by learning more about them.  Overall,  I really enjoyed this book.  I highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in reading about Edward VII.

Book Review: The Road To Camelot by Thomas Oliphant & Curtis Wilkie

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The Road to Camelot  gives an in-depth account of JFK’s  five year campaign. I first found out about this book through Amazon. I was looking at the new releases and upcoming releases and then I spied.

I was super excited because this is not the first book I have read on Kennedy’s campaign. The last book that I read was the “Irish Brotherhood by Helen O’Donnell, which I enjoyed a lot.

I think that I was being unfair to this books because I was having expectations for it that it couldn’t possibly meet.  I wanted this book to be more like the  Irish Brotherhood.  But after thinking about it I am glad that it’s not.

The Road to Camelot  was well written and very detailed, which I liked. I have to admit that it took me longer to get through this and absorb the information. I do recommend that if you get this book plan on trying to re-read it again.

The book gives a fair account of JFK.   I get the sense that they admired him and his accomplishments but they were not afraid to point out some of his faults either.  Like his  extramarital affairs that could  and sometimes did put his campaign at risk.

The writers wanted to debunk the myth that the only reason JFK ran for President was due to his father. The writers state that the only reason that JFK was for him, and from the sounds of it he would listen to his father but if he disagreed he go and do his own thing regardless of what his father said.

This book covers the five year Kennedy campaign.

The main thing I liked about this book was that we got more detailed account on certain events.

Like the events that took place during the 1956 Democratic convention.  Which Kennedy was setting his sites on the VP position,  but things fell through with that and it was during this time that Kennedy decided that he was going to run for President himself.

I can’t help but wonder how things would be different had Kennedy had gotten the VP Position with Adlai Stevenson.

I also liked how they covered Johnson in this as well.  We see him from the perspective of the Kennedy Camp and then we see the Kennedy camp from Johnson and his  supporters viewpoints.  Which I loved,  because it gives a broader view. Plus it don’t make it seem like the writers are bias to one side.

I highly recommend this book if you’re interested in reading about the Kennedy campaign.  I also recommend the Irish Brotherhood by Helen O’Donnell as well.

Book Review: So High A Blood by Morgan Ring

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Margaret was her own person: she fell in love at the direction of her own heart; quarreled  rashly but fearlessly with nobles and  monarchs; stayed a staunch Catholic in a country  that was slowly embracing its new identity as a Protestant Kingdom. Often forced  to be reactive, she became a skilled reactor; she established a place for herself in a new country at a new court; moved faster then anybody else in the aftermath of Francis II’s  sudden death;  admitted,  when she read the forged Bothwell confession,  that she had been wrong  about Mary and  hastened to reconcile with her.   Above all else , she had a vision of her family and of  what  they were meant to do- claim the crowns of England and Scotland, and restore the old faith.   ~  (272-273,  So high a blood)

 

Review

I was very excited  when I heard that another book on the Tudor era was coming out.  Though I have several interest in different era’s of history ,  this particular era has always had a special place in my heart.

So High a blood Tells the story of  Margaret Douglas,  Countess of Lennox.  She was the daughter of  Margaret Tudor,  who was the sister of  Henry VIII and mother to James V,  and  Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus.

This is the first book I have read of Morgan Ring.  I have to say that I was disappointed that this was the only book written by her.  I am very much looking forward to more books from her. I still say that  Lara by Anna Pasternak is still my favorite book of the year,  this book right now is coming in at a close second.

I thought this was a very well written and detailed account of Margaret Douglas life.  I would go as far as to say that anyone who is wanting to learn more about Margaret should begin with this book.  And for those who are familiar with Margaret’s story,  I think that this book brings a refreshing insight on her and those around her.

The premise of this book was that Margaret was her own person, and she was also a survivor who was able to adapt to the  changing world around her.    Morgan Ring does an excellent job in making her case.

One example of this is that Margaret Douglas was a devout Catholic. She was able to forge a good relationship with Elizabeth and other Protestants for a time when being Catholic dangerous.

One of things I liked about this book was that we get  a clear and balance view of Margaret.   We see both her successes and her failures.  Like her determination to get her son and Mary Stuart married,  but she was the blind to the faults in her own son which led to the demise of his marriage to Mary and ultimately his death.

Another thing that I liked about this book is that we get detailed picture of the politics that was going on  in  both England and Scotland.  I am defiantly going to be reading more on Scottish history.

Again, I can’t say enough good things about this.  If your interested in learning the latter half of Tudor history,  I highly recommend this book .

 


Book Description

Title :  So High A Blood

Arthur:  Morgan Ring

Genre:  Nonfiction/Biography

Pages:  341

Format: Hardcover

Verdict: Buy it!!!!

 

Book Review: Never Caught: The Washington’s Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave Ona Judge

 

 

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Title: *  Arthur:  Erica Armstrong Dunbar * Genre: Nonfiction *  Publisher:  Atria Books * Released: February 2017 * Pages: 253 * Rated:  4 Stars

My Thoughts

The book is titled,  Never Caught: The Washington’s Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. Dunbar attended the University of Pennsylvania where she received her BA in history and what was then called the study of Afro-American studies.

She would then later on receive her  MA and PHD from Columbia University.   Her writing,  teaching, lecturing  focus on the uncomfortable concepts of slavery,  racial injustice , and gender equality.

The first part of this book gives a brief history of Ona Judge family background.  Her mother Betty was owned by Martha Washington’s first husband (Daniel Parke Custis) . She was then bequeathed to Martha after Daniel died. Betty was a skilled seamstress and spinner, and her daughter would one day would inherit her talent.

Ona father (Andrew Judge).  He was an white indentured servant, who came to America from Britain.  In order to pay for his passage here he became an indentured servant. George Washington bought his contract and he went to work at  Mount Vernon.  There is not much on his relationship with Betty,  but once his contract was up he would abandon her and their children.

The rest of the story goes into Washington first years as President of the untied States.  Ona is separated from her family when Martha Washington decides to take her to New York with her ( which the first family resided for a period of time).  The story doesn’t pick up until the Washington’s  relocate to Philadelphia.  Its there that Ona escapes, and we learn the reason circumstances regarding.  The rest of the story just talks about how she evades being captured.

I really enjoyed this book,  I found it very informative.  I didn’t know that interracial relationships between Indentured servants and slaves were not as shocking  and even on some degree accepted.  George Washington remarked he had a preference to mulatto slaves.   Though these relationships didn’t change status of the slaves in them,  they were still slaves,  and any children born  to these unions were slaves themselves.

I also  like that we can see a clear  contrast between Ona Judge and other slaves,  compared to the Washington’s.  I think that we tend to forget this side of Washington’s and focus more on their public image.

So its shocking to the system when you hear that George Washington was the one to sign off on the fugitive slave act law. He was not above whipping his slaves,  or in a desperate attempt to get Ona back threatened to harm her family. Its things like this that challenge your perception on people.

The only criticism that I really had was that I felt that she did a lot of speculations, which is fine to a degree, but what was turning me off is that she was speculating on how people were feeling, and you have no proof that they are feeling that way,  but based on your own thoughts and research,  I just find that unreliable.

Otherwise,  the book was very well researched.  I thought it was organized very well,  and it was very detailed which I liked.  There are a lot of surprises that pop up throughout the book. I highly recommend this, if your interested African American history, slavery, and early America.

Book Review: Serving Victoria

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  Title:  Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household

Author:  Kate Hubbard

Nonfiction

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing date:  2012

Themes: Victorian Era,  Queen Victoria,  servants

Verdict: Borrow it

 

 

My thoughts

This is going to be first review  of several books I want to read on the Victorian era. In Serving Victoria we get a more intimate look at the men and women who served under the reign of Queen Victoria.  From the early years of  Victoria’s reign  to her death 63 years later. One of things that I enjoyed  about this book was that it was made up of letter and diaries from various servants that served under the Queen.  I like that we get to see Victoria reign through the eyes of those who actually  lived in that time.

I like how insightful that this book is.  I can only speak for myself but sometimes I have dreams of being a lady-in-waiting and being at court.  This book brought homes some realities of court life and serving the Queen. Like if you were brought into service of the Queen you were often away from your family months on end.  Some of these women had husbands and children. And if you wanted to visit your family you had to get permission from the Queen  who sometimes would not give it. .  You also had to get permission to marry as well from the from the Queen.  This became difficult after the death of Prince Albert,   Victoria wanted her close servants by  her side. She had grown to dislike married couples or people wanting to get married. She seemed to feel that their duty was solely to her.  I also read that people under Victoria’s service were often overworked and this affected their health.

I also found myself getting attached to  some of the staff featured in this book.  I found Henry Ponsonby a really character.  He married one of the Queen’s ladies,  he also worked to becoming her private secretary.  Then there was James Reid who was Victoria private  Physician.   He was bachelor for a long time- serving the Queen.  But eventually married,  much to the disapproval of Victoria,  but ended having three children.  He was also with Victoria on her death bed.

I think that there was a lot of good things to this book,   but there was also some bad as well.  When I first picked up this book,   It was different then I thought it was just going based on the title.  I thought that the book might go more in-depth when it came to staff.  I also though there would be more history on the working class of Victorian England.  Instead it seemed like we got more Victoria- just told in perspective of those who served her.  Which Is fine,  but I think that title needs to reflect this.

I think that for those who are familiar with Victoria reign I don’t think that this book offers up anything new as far as her reign.  There was also a lot of filter as well, stuff that probably didn’t need or should have been there.

I thought the grammar in this was atrocious. It took me a minute to read this book.  I am not usually one to complain about grammar  or someone writing style,  but this was to much for me to ignore. I had a hard time reading this due to the punctuation.  I think all the quotes from the diaries and journals needed to separate or even italicized.  She had quotation marks around them,  but that was random, because some of the quotation marks were missing throughout the book.

She also made abbreviations throughout the book which is fine,  but it would have been nice if she mentioned and had some page where she deciphered  these abbreviation because some of them were hard to figure out.  And the way she used them was slightly annoying.   In one sentence she would say “Her Majesty” then in the next line she would just have a Q?  (I guess that is for Queen).

Again I don’t think this is a bad book,  I did like It in some ways. I would probably recommend this, but I would caution that utilize your library for this one.

 

 

 

 

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