20. Becoming a Cathedral Guide

Saturday 21 June 2014

Things have been very quiet on the blog front lately. I was doing so well but work got very busy and something had to give. I had no energy to think about anything creative, and I wanted to just read a book and get lost in it for a few hours and not have to think about it too much.   

Sometimes you just need to give yourself a little break. I'm glad I did. I have come back to my blog revived and inspired. I know I'm a sporadic poster most of the time, and that if I want to maintain regular blog posts I do have to plan in advance, therefore I'm making sure I give myself a window of time for post planning. I intend to stick to it this time. 

I'm in the process of writing reviews for the most recent books I have read, however I thought my first post in a while should be to share a piece of good news that has come to me recently. 

I live in Saint Albans, and love that it is a place of so much history, especially the vital roles it has played during the Wars of the Roses - my favourite period in history for sure! Tied directly to this is Saint Albans Cathedral. I have previously written a post detailing interesting facts of the Cathedral, and I absolutely love wandering around and getting lost for a few hours. With that in mind, I recently applied, and was interviewed to train to become a Cathedral Guide and I was successful!

I'm so excited. I am training in my own time, with classes and a mentor provided. It is a voluntary position but it will bring me such inner joy to be sharing the history of the Cathedral that is a living and breathing part of my community, and the period of time that I am so passionate about. I am thankful for all those around me who kept their fingers crossed, and whose joy and excitement was clear when I was offered a place on the course. 

19. 'The Fortune Hunter' by Daisy Goodwin

Tuesday 27 May 2014

"Was Queen Victoria a kitten or a codfish?"

18. 'The First Princess of Wales' by Karen Harper

This next post is slightly out sync because I forgot I had it hidden away in my drafts, and went and posted a different review ahead of this one. As certain links to the previous post are recent and live I am loathe to change them, so this incorrect numbering of posts will have to do I'm afraid!
Now, the book that I am reviewing in the post is based on a historical figure that I have always been very interested in. She is the basis of my own historical fiction that may or may not ever see the light of day. I find her endlessly fascinating even though little is really known about her, but my goodness what we do know paints for a very interesting life! 

Who is this illustrious lady I hear you cry? Why, none other than Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent! 
I try to devour as much fiction and fact as I can about her to aid my own attempts to tell her story. First up is 'The First Princess of Wales' by Karen Harper.

17. 'The Crimson Ribbon' by Katherine Clements

Wednesday 2 April 2014

'Sometimes death comes like an arrow, sudden and swift, an unforeseen shot from an unheeded bow..'

The very first sentence of 'The Crimson Ribbon' drew me in like a moth to a flame and instantly catapulted me to England 1646 where The Civil War is raging and society is turned upside down. The repercussions of Charles I's and Parliament's very brutal battle is felt all over the country. Hysteria is at an all time high, with no one safe from accusing fingers pointing and condemning innocents as witches, and of turning against the sacred laws of the church and God.

16. Spare Brides by Adele Parks

Monday 10 February 2014

Spare Brides is a tale based during the aftermath of the First World War, introducing four women who's lives are drastically affected by the chain of events caused by that fateful day in 1914 when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated.  

On the surface it seems that Lydia has all she could ever want. Her husband, Lawrence survived the war, and became the sole heir to the Clarendon Earldom. She spends her days shopping and socialising, the darling of everyone. She longs for a baby to complete their family, although this has of yet eluded her. Lydia doesn't know it yet, but an innocent encounter in a tea shop will change the course of her life forever.

Headstrong, liberal Ava found independence in supporting the war effort, and reaped the benefits that came her way. She resents being sidelined into to supporting ladies charities where she feels she seldom makes any difference, and where she desperately wants to see a change. One of the nouveau riche, Ava sticks out like a sore thumb in a world of old money, but glitters and seduces her way through society in a way that she can't help but be smiled upon. With a blasé attitude to marriage, she chooses to purse love affairs with married men over settling down. Marriage is a trap she will not slip willingly into.

Beatrice and Sarah did not fare as well as their friends. Sarah lost her husband during the war, and struggles with feeling irrelevant in society now that she is no longer a wife, merely a widow like so many other unfortunate women. She is sidelined to caring for her two children, and helping to care for her brother Samuel who returned from the front half the man he used to be, in more ways than one.

Poor Beatrice has never felt as though she fitted in with her sister and their glamorous friends. The popular styles of the 1920s do nothing but make her feel out of place, with little to no fortune she must continuously alter old, out dates dresses which can never compete with Ava and Lydia's plethora of beautiful gowns or charm. She is constantly overlooked, and her one chance at marriage disappeared over the trenches, lost to a muddy grave. At 26 she is determined not to become an old maid but without fortunes or looks to aid her she is quite hopelessly lost. 

The four women's lives are interwoven by Parks in a mesmerising and ever changing world where not everything is quite as it seems. The world as they know it has changed forever, and Lydia, Ava, Sarah and Beatrice must decide where they fit and where their loyalties lie. With so many twists and turns, Parks is sure to keep you entertained on this journey starting during New Years Eve in 1920, where glamour and damage are irrevocably entwined. 

Parks writes with confidence and grit. Don't take Spare Brides at face value just because of the cover - she challenges the reader to confront the harsh realities of the First World War and how it affected every soul, whether fighting in the trenches or waiting at home for news. The reader can fully step into the shoes of each character, and their lives because the women aren't too dissimilar from us today. There is something relatable in each character - it's almost as though she's taken elements of Sex and the City back to 1920, with all the damaged beauty that came with post war Britain. 

Spare Brides is released Thursday 13th February 2014. 

Rating: 5/5

**I was sent  a copy of Spare Brides in exchange for an honest review**

15. Pleated Skirts and a New Direction

Sunday 9 February 2014

I am making my return to blogging after taking a bit of a break. I started a new job towards the end of last year and things got busy very quickly. I felt I was struggling to keep up with everything going on in my life at the time and unfortunately something had to give - not that I have posted on a regular basis for a while.

I wanted to set myself some goals for 2014 - I don't like the word resolutions because I generally don't stick to them. I wanted my goals to be achievable and enjoyable and not put so much pressure on myself that I end up not wanting to follow through. I want to really enjoy blogging so I am going to combine a few of my interests together here, more so than I have before. That also involved not rushing into posting just any old thing as soon as January started. 
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