Thursday, May 30, 2013

Review: The Lady of the Rivers (The Cousins' War #3), by Philippa Gregory

Title: The Lady of the Rivers (The Cousins' War #3)
Author: Philippa Gregory
Format: eGalley
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "#1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory weaves witchcraft, passion, and adventure into the story of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, a woman who navigated a treacherous path through the battle lines in the War of the Roses.
Descended from Melusina, the river goddess, Jacquetta has always had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she meets his prisoner, Joan of Arc, and recognizes her own power in the young woman accused of witchcraft. They share the mystery of the tarot card of the “wheel of fortune” before Joan is taken to a horrific death at the hands of the English rulers of France. Jacquetta understands the danger for a woman who dares to dream.
Married to the Duke of Bedford, English Regent of France, Jacquetta is introduced by him to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Her only friend in the great household is the Duke’s squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the Duke’s death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen.
Drawing on years of research, Philippa Gregory tells the story of the Woodvilles who achieve a place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta can sense the threat from the people of England and the danger of royal rivals. Not even their courage and loyalty can keep the House of Lancaster on the throne. Henry the king slides into a mysterious sleep; Margaret the queen turns to untrustworthy favorites for help; and Richard, Duke of York threatens to overturn the whole kingdom for his rival dynasty of the House of York.
Jacquetta fights for her King, her Queen, and for her daughter Elizabeth Woodville, a young woman married to a neighbor for whom Jacquetta can sense an extraordinary and unexpected future: a change of fortune, the throne of England, and the white rose of York.
A sweeping, powerful story based on history and rich in passion and legend, The Lady of the Rivers tells the story of the real-life mother to the White Queen. Philippa Gregory is writing at the height of her talent."
My Opinion: When I requested this book from NetGalley I wasn't aware that it was the third in a series, but I was happy to find out that each book tells about a different woman from the time of the War of the Roses. Therefore, this installment was able to stand on its own very well. 
The Lady of the Rivers tells the story of Jacquetta, who as a child meets Joan of Arc and who as a young woman and adult becomes a friend and confidante to young Margaret, the queen of England. She is married to an older Englishman,  John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI, when she is still very young, and is widowed when she is not much older. She defies the rules of the time and  becomes the lover, and later wife of the Duke's squire, Richard Woodville. While that could have been the end of her life at court, she is not allowed to leave for long because the queen, Margaret, insists she needs her close. She spends her life trying not to get caught between all of the rivalries at court, and the constantly changing social strata of the many players. 
Philippa Gregory is a masterful storyteller and I enjoyed this book very, very much. Saying that it is a sweeping, powerful story is an understatement! Now, I have to go back and read the first two books in this amazing series, The Red Queen and The White Queen :D

Review: Awakening (Tankborn #2), by Karen Sandler

Title: Awakening (Tankborn #2)
Author: Karen Sandler
Format: eGalley
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "Once a GEN (genetically engineered nonhuman) girl terrified of her first Assignment, Kayla is now a member of the Kinship, a secret organization of GENs, lowborns, and trueborns. Kayla travels on Kinship business, collecting information to further the cause of GEN freedom.

Despite Kayla’s relative freedom, she is still a slave to the trueborn ruling class. She rarely sees trueborn Devak, and any relationship between them is still strictly forbidden.

Kayla longs to be truly free, but other priorities have gotten in the way. A paradoxically deadly new virus has swept through GEN sectors—a disease only GENs catch. And GEN warrens and warehouses are being bombed, with only a scrawled clue: F.H.E. Freedom, Humanity, Equality.

With the virus and the bombings decimating the GEN community, freedom and love are put on the back burner as Kayla and her friends find a way to stop the killing . . . before it’s too late."

My Opinion: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

This is the second book in the Tankborn trilogy and since I enjoyed the first book so much, I was really happy when NetGalley approved me for this installment. Where the first book really set the stage for this very unique and interesting dystopian world, this one was primarily about Kayla and what she's going through as she tries to navigate the ins and outs of being a Kinship spy. I think one of the things I enjoyed the most about the first Tankborn book was the romance between Devak and Kayla and I really missed that in Awakening. I understand that they are star crossed lovers since Devak is trueborn and Kayla is tankborn and there should be some conflict there to keep it interesting, but there was so little interaction between then in this book that they might as well not even know each other! With this being a YA book, there should have been something going on with them and I really did miss that. I liked that Kayla began to realize that the Kinship wasn't all good like they wanted her to think they were and the fact that she began to really stand up for herself showed huge personal growth from the beginning of the series. I realize that the "second book syndrome" is hard to fight, and while I recognized it in Awakening, I was still able to read the book very quickly and enjoyed it very much. I'm really looking forward to the third book and hope that it answers the questions that were raised in Awakening, but judging from how much I enjoyed books 1 and 2, I'm fairly certain that I will not be disappointed! :D