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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-10-15 14:45
Review: The King's Mistress by Emma Campion





"When had I a choice to be other than I was?"

This quote foreshadows the constant barrage of wangst in store for you when reading The King's Mistress by Emma Campion. This is a historical fiction of the life of Alice Perrers, who's regarded as one of the more infamous ladies ever to keep royal company. She was the longtime companion of Edward III, whose rule was once considered glorious but was later encompassed in fiscal and political scandal. The above statement is inserted at the start of each section of the book, reminding you how poor Alice was ever a victim of powers beyond her reckoning. Might as well have been Gwen Stefani singing, "I'm just a girl... in the world..." It would have been interesting to see her as she's been portrayed: a woman surviving by her wiles in the shark-infested waters of the royal court, instead of as a helpless leaf blown in the storm winds.

Our heroine was born Alice Salisbury, simply the bestest daughter ever. She's pious, humble, loves her father, honors her mother, cherishes her family, rescues kittens, feeds the homeless, cures the sick, negotiates peace treaties... and blossoms into such a flower that of course, her own mother is utterly jealous of her. This thing wasn't written in ink, it was High Fructose Corn Syrup.

This fairy tale is delivered in four purple-tinted segments:
Part I/An Innocent Encounters The World- Where Alice comes of age and her father arranges a marriage for her to a widowed merchant, Janyn Perrers, whom its discovered has complicated ties to the scandalized Queen Mother Isabella, who helped overthrow her husband the king and set her son, Richard III, upon the throne. The Perrers family fortunes are intricately bound to the royals, but with privilege comes peril, so much so that Janyn ensures her safety by placing her in the Queen's service. What choice does she have? Her husband wills it!

Part II/The Queen's Handmaid- Alice becomes established in Queen Philippa's retinue and comes to be noticed by Edward III, king of England. As Philippa's health declines, the queen is driven to seek an amiable companion for her husband, someone she can trust... What choice does she have? The King & Queen desire it!

Part III/The King's Mistress- Alice and Edward form a deep, abiding relationship, and she even bears him children and he bestows lavish gifts of land, jewels and whatnot upon her. What choice does she have- the king made her take them! Yet the more she becomes a fixture in Edward's life, the more she is targeted by the differing factions at court. What choice does she have? She's but a commoner at court!

Part IV/Phoenix- In the wake of the king's passing, the nation is left in some difficulty from Edward's excesses and a scapegoat is needed. What choice does she have? She's but a woman alone who's blamed for leading their beloved king astray, taking the realm down with him! Yet Alice manages to rise somewhat from the ashes of her ruination.

There are two overwhelming problems with this story. One, the character of Alice is an uber MarySue- an embodiment of author's wish fulfillment whom every man must possess and every woman either admires or despises, and of course any characters that dislike this person are obviously up to no good. Alice is so much this she could almost be her own trope. The author has clearly fallen prey to what seems to be a trend in historical fiction- falling completely in love with the character and somehow trying to redeem them through fantasy instead of simply telling their story. Alice is so overflowing with compassion that at the end of the book she can even forgive everyone who's ever wronged her. Campion even goes so far as to give Alice a new life with another man while admitting to having no evidence that they ever did anything more than conduct business together- can't have a fairy tale without a happy ending, right?

Two, nothing much happens. For a person so embroiled in political scandal and panned by history Alice is spectacularly uninvolved in events; Campion always keeps Alice on the periphery, supplying the true love and support her man needs until she's swept along by the tides of fate simply because she's there. Beginning with her own arranged marriage to Janyn, we're given exposition-delivered intrigues filtered through Alice's limited perspective, all making for very dull reading. For someone constantly in the eye of the storm, she's often caught unawares despite constantly being warned about what's happening (But what choice does she have? She is unused to such manipulations, even after living at the palace for almost twenty years!). Yet with every step you're expected to cry with her pain and laugh with her joy, except you won't. You'll just want it to be over with. Despite a few insights into the social mores of the times, I suggest you don't even start.
1.5/5 Stars
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review 2018-10-04 13:49
Winter’s Bone ★★★★★
Winter's Bone - Daniel Woodrell,Emma Galvin

I’m not even sure how to review this book. It was a tough read, in that it provoked powerfully conflicting emotions. Being a fan of horror fiction, it’s not as though graphic violence is especially off-putting for me, but this portrayed graphic violence in a setting of utter realism, in a segment of American society where survival is a daily struggle, in a social structure where children boast that the head of the family is one of the best at cooking up a batch of meth, and family loyalty is everything, and one can both acknowledge that

death is a just punishment for snitching

(spoiler show)

and also rage

at those who deal it out.

(spoiler show)

Somehow this book managed to make me feel that what I would normally consider appalling child abuse is good training for adulthood. It was tough to read because the protagonist’s tiny window for escape from this world is being inexorably closed by family obligations, as she tries to find her missing father before their home and land is confiscated and she is left caring for them instead of joining the army.


But there is also hope, and love, and celebration of a girl with “sand”. And the writing keeps the characters and setting real and present, so it was easy to fall into this story and cheer her on and hope for her and be disappointed for her. 


Audiobook, via Audible. The performance by Emma Galvin is pitch-perfect. I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square Modern Noir: mystery with noir elements, including authors like James Ellroy, Ian Rankin, anything that falls generally under the category of Nordic Noir, Tartan Noir, Granite Noir, etc.

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review 2018-09-30 16:33
England's Lane - Emma Woolf

As advertised, "ENGLAND'S LANE" is a modern love story, with London by and large figuring prominently as the backdrop. The reader is witness to an affair and its effects on all persons involved. The novel also showcases the highs and lows of love, loss, betrayal, the bonds of family and friendship --- as well as redemption and love rediscovered. I'm glad I took the journey.

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review 2018-09-27 04:20
Great Book and Great Characters
Defying Fate - Heidi Lis,Emma Mack

Waking up Izzy felt refreshed even though she had slept on the floor. That all she had in the two bedroom house she rented was what she could fit in her car. She left the rest in Iowa.Dominic is Izzy’s ex and took everything from her and left her broke.Kara is Izzy’s best friend but also is Dominic’s sister and helps Izzy escape.   She only had the essentials. Izzy’s family hates her now. and she had them behind her. The stares and the gossip about Izzy was spreading like wildfire. Izzy ended up in Washington state. She lived in Monroe now. A small town with a great feel to it. Izzy knew she needed to get a job. Izzy felt to sleep in a bed and cook a meal for herself would feel like heaven. Evelyn was the homeowner Izzy knew she would love her. Kara called Izzy to check o  her, she had already told Izzy to find a hot biker and leave. They both loved bikers from when they were teens and read MC books. Izzy was out planting some flowers when she realized someone was there, it turned out to be a little girl of six or seven.They started to talk the little girl was Eve and she lived at the end of the block. She says her money isnt around but she lives with her daddy. Izzy says if it is ok with her daddy Eve can come over the next day and help. Izzy wondered how long it had been since she had a fun time with another female.  Izzy and Eve planted flowers for two hours. Eve was like the daughter she would never have. Izzy carrying a child is close to zero, Domonic toje that form her. On Saturday morning Izzy is woke up to knocking on her door and it’s Eve They spend time together then her dad- Braxton Ryles /Brax stops by, Brax is Hot and TROUBLE. Then Eve’s dad offers Izzy a job at his shop as a front office girl. The shop is Ryles Custom Shop. Brax surprises Izzy so much she is out of her element. Brax is like a tornado ready to knock Izzy on her butt. He just blew into her life , and she somehow changed it forever. Braxton will do anything to make Eve happy.  What’s it gonna be like working for this smooth-talking- sexy-as- hell badass biker? Saturday night Brax showed up with dinner for her. He had grilled chicken and said “didn’t want you going hungry”, winked at her and left to walk back down the street to his house. Izzy likes calling him Braxton. Izzy realizes Braxton may be complex,and a master of mind games, but he is also vulnerable. He is a man in need of something special. He also has a big heart. Braxton’s best friends/co-workers are Knox and Brody. Eve’s mother is Tiffany and trying to be a mom although Braxton has his doubts in that. Tiffany comes into Izzy’s office at work when she is hugging Braxton in comfort and Tiffany tells Brax have that girl-Izzy- to take her hands off Braxton. Brax tells Tiffany she lost the right to say anything a long time ago as he pulled Izzy closer to him. Tiffany won’t let go even though Braxton told her they had been over a long time. She doesn’t want Braxton but wants no one else to have him.Tiffany tracks down Dominic and tells him everything and   Dominic is determined Izzy is going to be with no one but him, and he knows about Izzy and Braxton and where Izzy is. Dominic kidnaps Izzy and tortures her, he even cuts her. Kara is determined Izzy will be free of Dominic.

I absolutely loved this book I loved Izzy and Braxton together and how they interacted except when he hurt her emotionally. I loved Eve and felt she definitely added to this book/ I loved the drama, suspense, and betrayal in this book. I loved how Kara was such a best friend to Izzy especially as she was Dominic’s sister but then again… This book takes you on an emotional roller coaster but you don’t want to put this down. This had me from page one until the last page. This made me chuckle at times and choke up at others. I loved the twists and turns . The author did handle the subject of domestic violence very good in this book. I do think Izzy fell a little too hard fr Braxton a little too quick especially after what Dominic put her through. She also forgave Braxton too easily after he hurt her emotionally because he made a mistake hasn't she been through enough get some backbone Izzy. This was a great debut novel in my opinion. I hated Tiffany but more so Dominic but that was their purpose. I loved this book, the characters and the twists and turns of this book and I highly recommend it.

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review 2018-09-25 02:15
Best Served Cold by Emma Hart
Best Served Cold - Emma Hart



It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. Chase and Raelynn are caught up in a bad cliche. Pride has them fighting a losing battle with both determined to keep score. Can these former lovers let go of mistakes of the past and work toward rebuilding their future? Hart uses the perfect blend of sweet and salty to create a tasty treat. Best Served Cold is a tempting glimpse of an uphill climb. War of the sexes with a sugary twist equals an enchanting good time.

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