The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

How do you begin to talk about what a phenomenal book this is? The story is so beautifully written it speaks for itself. The author is a fabulous story teller. I was enthralled from the first page.

I wanted to go with Daniel to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and never come out. What a beautiful concept, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. It makes you wonder if there really could be such a place. Just imagine!

This story , I think, is for everyone. It has everything you could want. If someone were to ask me what I thought of it. I would tell them they just need to read it and they will know.          

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Clair a nurse is with her husband in Scotland 1945. She time-travels back two hundred years. She finds herself surrounded with the fighting of Scottish clans, and the dealings of the 18 century life. She marries Jamie (husband #2) a Scottish Lord. Runs into her husbands (husband #1) ancestor, an English officer, (MAY HE ROT) who is a horrid man and a sadist among other things in my opinion. Clair and Jamie find themselves in trouble at every turn and poor Jamie sure has been through the grind!

At first I wasn’t feeling the love story between Clair and Jamie. But it gradually grew on me. I’m not a big fan of time-travel fantasies. I did however enjoy this one. It was well written into the story. I like how clair wasn’t going back and forth through time which drives me crazy to read.

There were lots of tedious details I felt that could have been left out. The story could have been shorten about two hundred pages as well. I did have some problems with the immoral content to the story. It was a hard pill to swallow. But I got through it. The graphic descriptions of Jamie’s rape and torture was disturbing to my sensibilities. Something I could have done without.

Outlander is a remarkable book. But I must say….I have a love/hate relationship with this story.        

Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey

This story of Marie Antoinette flowed beautifully. It starts with her childhood in Austria then to her marriage with Louis Auguste the future King of France. The transition and acceptance of the French Court is difficult for Marie.
Marie is torn between what her conscious dictates and being accepted by the French Court to living up to her mothers expectations. Her mother uses her children as political pawns and I felt deep sympathy for them.
Marie also struggles with building a relationship with her husband and trying to consummate their marriage. They’re under a great deal of pressure to produce a male heir.
The story is rich in the culture and politics of that time. This story leaves you admiring and cheering for Marie Antoinette and Louis.

The Queen’s Pawn by Christy English

The Queen’s Pawn is a captivating story. I love it when I read a novel that holds my attention to the very end and leaves me wanting more. It takes great skill and talent for an author to do so. Christy English is one of those authors. She puts so much passion and emotion into her characters and the story she tells.

The Queen’s Pawn is a story of Princess Alais of France who is sent to England to wed Prince Richard. Richard is the son of Henry the Second and Queen Eleanor. Princess Alais and Queen Eleanor quickly form a loving mother/daughter relationship. When Alais becomes of age she is swept up in court life. She becomes a strong women and Eleanor sees that as a threat, in my opinion. Although Eleanor loves her as a daughter, she betrays her. Alais wants revenge and she gets it! As the story unfolds she sees the error of her ways, she must make a choice. Will it be the right one? You will just have to read this book to find out! I highly recommend that you do.

To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Christy English

To Be Queen is a fascinating story of Eleanor becoming Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, to becoming Queen of France and in the end divorces King Louis, then goes on to marry Henry of Normandy.

Eleanor is now my favorite person of the middle ages. She was a courageous, strong-willed, and a powerful women. I was pretty amazed how she was able to keep her title and lands during and after her marriage to King Louis. That was uncommon during those times.

I also felt that Eleanor was brilliant how she maneuvered her way out of marriage to King Louis who was a weak King and easily manipulated by the Catholic Church. Although, I felt sorry for King Louis.He was a good man and I believed he truly loved Eleanor.

I’m really glad that Christy wrote about Eleanor’s younger years before coming duchess and queen. I feel that it helped give you a clear picture of the women Eleanor would become.

Eleanor certainly beat the odds that were stacked up against her during those times.

I really enjoyed reading this book and I’m looking forward to reading Christy’s next book, The Queen’s Pawn.

The Greatest Knight (William Marshall #1) by Elizabeth Chadwick

This story is about William Marshal who was a fourth son of a minor aristocratic family who rose above his situation in life. William became a knight who served King Henry The Second, Eleanor Of Aquitaine and their sons during the twelfth century in England.

Chadwick begins this story with Williams childhood. Although, Chadwick immediately sweeps you into Williams Knighthood. The story of his childhood is lacking…but the character development is fascinating. The book is full of examples of William showing his loyalty to the royal family despite the opposition of others.

At the end of this book Chadwick leaves you wanting to know more about the life of William Marshal. This is definitely a book that I would want to pick up and read again sometime. I enjoy reading about the Middle Ages and this book is without a doubt one of the best stories that portrays Medieval Europe.