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review 2018-12-01 20:34
An Army, a Parliament, a King, and a dash of idealism
Garland Of Straw - Stella Riley

 

'It was never going to be anything other than it was. The route to being rid of him.’

 

Second in Stella Riley's Roundheads and Cavaliers series, we're once again immersed into political, societal, and familial drama during the second part of the English Civil War (1640s). The first in the series (The Black Madonna) was about the build up and first part while also introducing us to three families and other assorted characters that represented sides of the war. While the first installment mainly followed a Roundhead family along with an outsider's perspective, our heroine is a Cavalier and forced to marry a Roundhead.

 

While in the first, I thought the author had too many irons in the fire that lead to a somewhat fractured story, she nails the inclusion of real historical events and people with her fictional characters. Our hero Gabriel is a Colonel in the Roundhead army and thus, we are given an amazing inclusion and relay of the events of the day.

 

So that,’ concluded Venetia, ‘is it. I’m required to forget the man I’ve been betrothed to for five years in order to marry a base-born Roundhead usurper.

 

If you read the first in the series, you'll remember Venetia and her betrothal to Ellis Brendan. She's a heroine that will make you feel like she takes stubbornness and obstinate actions to the next level for the majority of the story. Her forced hand and lack of control in instances of vital importance are worth remembering but mirrored against Gabriel's strong, steadfast, and generous attitude, will have you feeling very frustrated with her. Their romance is very slow burning and the turmoil swirling around them are much more front and center; this is historical fiction with a thread of romance. That is not to say that their romance isn't inspired, Gabriel is a hero you'll fall in love with, just that I couldn't help reveling in all the historical drama taking place.

 

Said Algernon Sidney, ‘The King can be tried by no Court; and no man can be tried by this Court.’

I tell you,’ replied Cromwell, ‘we will cut off his head with the Crown upon it.’

 

The way the author relayed history and wove it into a story that was entertaining along with intellectually stimulating deserves a standing ovation. I was lost into the various different factions of the Army, Parliament, rising up of Levellers, and various others fighting for control, and bringing and introducing new ideals that pop up in our government today. This was living breathing history that directly shaped and impacts us today. I felt the passion of Free-born John, the self-righteousness of Cromwell, the weariness and fear of the people, and the monumental moment of trying a King.

 

Our heroine and hero have a bit of side story and drama but I thought the author did a better job, than the first, of integrating it into the overall and spotlight deserving Army and Parliament battles of the Civil War. Books like this is how you reach people who think history is boring, they'll learn, it will spark thinking, and be entertained. I can't wait to read on in the series to follow along with these characters Riley has created to see what becomes of them, not mention England's growth struggle.

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text 2018-11-30 17:39
50%
Garland Of Straw - Stella Riley

‘It’s starting all over again, isn’t it? The taking of sides and being at odds with your neighbours … and the killing.  And for what?  So the Parliament and the Army and the King can go on squabbling endlessly amongst themselves while the rest of us suffer?’

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review 2018-11-30 06:47
The Oracle Glass
The Oracle Glass - Judith Merkle Riley

Before France had the Revolution, they had the Affair of the Poisons. If you don’t know anything about it, look it up. It is wild. Lovers poisoning potential rivals, heirs poisoning their heads of family, wives poisoning their husbands, husbands poisoning their wives, and everyone and their second cousin dabbling in Satanism to make them lucky in love/politics/business/gambling/whatever. It’s entirely possible that if no one had intervened, the Revolution would have been moot as the entire French aristocracy would quite probably have poisoned each other to near extinction.

 

Riley shows us her meticulously researched version of the Affair through the eyes of Genevieve Pasquier, who takes up fortunetelling under a pseudonym to support herself after super cliché events involving murder, a missing inheritance, and rape force her to leave home. At the tender age of fifteen, she apprentices to the Shadow Queen, the foremost witch in Paris, and becomes the Marquise de Morville, an alleged 150-year-old victim of alchemical experimentation who reads fortunes in an oracle glass.

 

She’s so good at playing an old woman that it’s easy to forget she’s a teenager—until she abandons her maturity and independence to throw herself at a man, ignoring her own common sense and the advice of others in favor of following her heart (and by “heart” I mean “hormones”). And that’s fine and dandy and makes sense and all, but I just cringed all the way through her love affairs. I’m a hard sell on romance, and in this case I wasn’t inclined to buy.

 

The best/worst part of this book is all that meticulous research that went into it. It’s the best because almost all the details feel authentic. It’s the worst because it seems Riley was intent on not leaving anything out, and some of those authentic details didn’t really add to the story. The story itself drags, as Genevieve seems to forget she’s doing it all for revenge against her horrible family and has to remind herself and the reader what her motivations are.

 

TL;DR, it’s not bad but it’s not quite my cuppa. Not being much of a romantic, I thought there was too much pining and not enough actual poisoning in this particular Affair of the Poisons.

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text 2018-11-27 00:32
15%
Garland Of Straw - Stella Riley

 

 

‘Nothing can convince me why any man born in England should not have his voice in elections,’ snapped Rainsborough hotly. ‘All Englishmen are subject to English laws – and the foundation of all law lies in the people.  Where does it say “I am a poor man – therefore I shall be oppressed”?  And I would know what we have fought for, if not for our laws and liberties!’

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text 2018-11-26 17:35
Reading Update: 5%
Garland Of Straw - Stella Riley

 

George was to stop the Parliament denuding the Army of artillery [and thus hastening its disbandment] by securing the Oxford magazine; and then, with a troop of volunteers at his back, he was to proceed to Northamptonshire and prevent a second civil war by making sure that neither the Scots Commissioners nor their Presbyterian allies in the Commons put an ace up their collective sleeve by carrying off the King. 

 

I could't find an actual Fawkes themed story on my shelves but this takes place a few decades after (1640s) and is dealing with the end of the English Civil War and how now parliament and the army are fighting. 

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