My Name Is Victoria // Two Victoria’s, One Queen, An Alternative History

Author: Lucy Worsley
Genre: Historical //  YA
Goodreads rating: 3.85
My rating: ⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

 

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. Her father is Sir John Conroy, confidant and financial advisor to Victoria’s mother, and he has devised a strict set of rules for the young princess that he calls the Kensington System. It governs Princess Victoria’s behavior and keeps her locked away from the world. Sir John says it’s for the princess’s safety, but Victoria herself is convinced that it’s to keep her lonely and unhappy. Torn between loyalty to her father and her growing friendship with the willful and passionate princess, Miss V has a decision to make: continue in silence or speak out.Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

This one was a bit disappointing to me. Last month I read a similar book from Worsley, but about Queen Mary, which I had (mostly) the same problems with as this one, so I guess Worsley’s books are just not for me? Because I love lists* let’s sum up these problems

* And I’m too exhausted to write a full review lmao stayed up too long because I was on a Eurovision high and then found out that B99 is cancelled hahahaha everything is garbage 🙃

💛 Not much happens?? This is the biggest problem with both this one and Lady Mary: there isn’t much of a plot. I mean, there technically is, but it doesn’t feel like it because barely anything happens. There’s just,, a lot of talking?

💛 Because of this it’s just,, a bit boring? I feel like this book could’ve been so much more interesting given the concept and the historical people it focues on. I mean there’s so much political intrigue, but because we see everything through the eyes Miss V. we barely know anything about it

💛 That plot twist was,,, not to my liking. This is a very personal thing which led to my two star rating instead of three, and shouldn’t keep you from not reading this book. The plot twist itself was well-written as there were enough hints for it to not be entirely out of the blue, but not that many that it was predictable (though I did see it coming) and Worsley explains that this is an alternative history, just her exploring a ‘what if’, it’s not some conspiracy theory haha, I just personally didn’t like it?

💛 I feel like the characters were just not that interesting either? Worsley knows her stuff, especially when it comes to Queen Victoria, so it’s not a lack of research, but the characters were kinda flat and while we follow both girls through childhood to their teenage years, I just don’t feel they changed much? Also Miss V.’s voice was just,,, so lack-luster?

But!! There were definitely things I liked. Like I said, if it weren’t for the plot twist I would’ve given this three stars*

💛 The friendship between the girls!! They were probably not such great friends in reality, but Worsley wanted to explore this what if and honestly it was lovely. At first they didn’t really know what to make of each other of course, but in the end they love and support each other, want what’s best for the other, would risk anything and everything, know each other like the back of their hand, were willing to give up their own happiness for the other’s… It was so great to see, even though Queen Victoria probably hated Miss V. in reality lmao

💛 Despite not much happening and the characters feeling a bit flat, it’s clear that Worsley knows what she’s talking about. It really does feel like you’re transferred to the 1800s

💛 While Miss. V didn’t change that much, I do like how she eventually stood up to her father

💛 Queen Victoria’s support system! Of course she was isolated, but she still had a small group (including Miss V.) that would do anything for her and loved her with all their heart

💛 Not much is known about Miss V. Conroy, so it’s nice to see more about her

💛 Dash!!

* Honestly me not liking the plot twist probably has to do with the tv show and maaaybe with my crush on Jenna Coleman but,,

Gently, but inescapably, she pulled me nearer until our foreheads touched. ”You are my sister now,” she said quietly and and solemnly. ”Never forget it. I love you like my sister, and you are my only friend in all the world.”

I don’t think Worsley’s books are for me, but if you love historical fiction than I do recommend checking them out. There’s a good chance you won’t have these problems after all!Have you read My Name is Victoria, or one of Worsley’s other books? What did you think? Do you like historical fiction? What’s your favourite? And do you watch Victoria? (if so I haven’t seen season 2 yet please don’t spoil!) Let me know in the comments!

Lady Mary // An Interesting Look At Queen Mary I

Author: Lucy Worsley
Genre: Historical //  YA
Goodreads rating: 3.63
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

 

By turns thrilling, dramatic and touching, this is the story of Henry the Eighth and Catherine of Aragon’s divorce as you’ve never heard it before – from the eyes of their daughter, Princess Mary.

More than anything Mary just wants her family to stay together; for her mother and her father – and for her – to all be in the same place at once. But when her father announces that his marriage to her mother was void and by turns that Mary doesn’t really count as his child, she realises things will never be as she hoped.

Things only get worse when her father marries again. Separated from her mother and forced to work as a servant for her new sister, Mary must dig deep to find the strength to stand up against those who wish to bring her down. Despite what anyone says, she will always be a princess. She has the blood of a princess and she is ready to fight for what is rightfully hers.

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

For someone who claims to love history I don’t read enough historical fiction. So when I saw this title on Netgalley I just had to request it*

* Plus that cover?? SO PRETTY

Going in I didn’t know anything about Mary, so learning about her was definitely interesting, though I was bored quite a bit, because for most of the book I felt like not much was happening. Just when things were starting to get interesting, it was over. I think I would’ve liked a little less detail on her childhood and teenage years, and a little bit more on her return to court. Not that her childhood and teenage years weren’t interesting, but most of the time there just wasn’t much happening? I don’t know if that’s because of a lack of sources on what was happening during that time, or a choice of the author. Maybe I would’ve felt different about this if I had connected with the writing style better, which is my next point.

The writing style was a bit too simple for me – it might be aimed at younger readers, but I don’t think writing for younger teens/kids has to be simple. Just look at Harry Potter and Percy Jackson for example, both books read and loved by those older than the main younger audience. I also found it a bit weird how naive fifteen year old Anne was. Sometimes it felt like she still didn’t understand how things at court worked, which I found a bit unrealistic. Not to mention that I even forgot that she was supposed to be fifteen at that point. She did grow a lot through the book as she grew older and she really stood up for herself, which was nice to see. I’m not going to call her an ‘inspiration’ or anything like that, as older Mary is responsible for putting a lot of Protestants to death. Just like her father and sister Elizabeth I put Catholics to death, as the author rightfully points out in her afterword. It’s interesting, as she points out, that Mary has been quite vilified for doing something her father and sister did as well, just because Protestant historians told her story and she got the nickname ‘Bloody Mary’. Of course all three of them were horrible for what they did, but it was interesting to read about Mary and find out what kind of person she was. And to see the affair between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn from her eyes.

Also if you ever thought Henry VIII was awful,, well boy are you in for a ride! The things Mary went through were inhumane and he didn’t even acknowledge it for the most part? Or really apologise?

 

 

 

Spoiler

He did finally see it at the end of the book, apologises and finally gives her the status she deserves, though I don’t know if that actually happened and I’m too lazy to find out haha. The author is a historian though, so maybe it did happen?

 

 

 

While reading the book I couldn’t help but read up a bit more about Mary, since I’m curious like that, and Lady Mary seems like a very accurate portrayal.If you have an interest in the Tudors, or just in history in general, I say give this a go! It’s definitely an interesting read and liking the writing style or not is very subjective.

Lady Mary is out today!Have you read Lady Mary, or are you planning to? Do you like historical fiction? What are some of your favourites? Let me know in the comments!

Review: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

the crown's gameGenre: Ya | fantasy | historical
Series: The Crown’s Game #1
Goodreads rating: 3.79
My rating:  2.5

summary

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love… or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear… the Crown’s Game is not one to lose (Goodreads).

review

This book was very, very hyped and I can totally see why: gorgeous cover and intriguing premise. Sadly I was a bit underwhelmed. The Game wasn’t really that exciting. In the beginning I liked that they were both anxious because they thought the other could kill them any moment, but that tension was gone pretty soon. Not to mention that going in I just didn’t expect them to make houses look pretty and create magical fountains. I expected something more intense. Not necessarily bloody, but their lives were at stake – the loser was going to die. I didn’t really feel those stakes while reading the book.

The characters were pretty flat and I didn’t feel any attachment to them at all. I did like Vika’s relationship with Ludmila (a woman she had known all her life and who moves in with her the moment the Game begins and her father is banished, so that she doesn’t have to be alone) and Nikolai and Pasha’s friendship definitely had potential. Spoiler: when their friendship fell apart, it didn’t really hurt, because I wasn’t invested in their friendship. And don’t get me started on the ‘romance’. Instalust, instalove and a love triangle. All the love-related tropes I pretty much despise (love triangles not so much if they’re done right and don’t take over the plot. Which in this case I felt it really did). 

While the writing wasn’t bad and I did like the descriptions, my biggest problem with it was, was the lack of emotions. I didn’t feel any attachment to any of the characters, I didn’t feel their emotions, I didn’t sympathise with them, I didn’t care for the villain, I just didn’t care about anything.

I also really wanted to know more about the magic system. I mean, The Game is all about their magical skill, yet I have no idea how their magic works.

So you’re probably wondering: Michelle, why did you give it three stars? It doesn’t sound like you enjoyed it. Okay so here’s why I gave it three stars (though honestly I’m still leaning towards 2,5 stars): I liked the concept and I love the world: it takes place in 19th century Russia except with magic. History + magic = yes please. And while not much happened, I wasn’t necessarily bored until the ending and hey I did finish most of it in one day, so I don’t feel like it was necessarily a 2-star read if that makes sense. Speaking of the ending though, there were like roughly ten pages left when they introduced some action. I actually thought that it was going to end on a cliffhanger right before that action took place, because how could that take only ten pages or so?  But nope, that final (more like finally) action scene was very underwhelming and anti climatic. I couldn’t care less.

So have you read this and how did you feel about it? Honestly I have such mixed feelings about it and I just hope that the sequel will be better. If I do pick it up (right now I’m leaning towards it, but from experience I know that it’s very likely that my interest in it and motivation to read it will decrease over the next few months) I’ll definitely wait for the paperback to come out. It’s such a shame because I was really excited for this book. If you haven’t read this yet, any hyped books you read lately that disappointed you? Let me know in the comments!

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