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review 2020-01-06 03:25
Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy
Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart - John Guy

Typically non-fiction takes me months to read. I tend to get so bogged down in the details that I find myself able to only read a chapter at a time. This was not the case with Guy's biography of Mary, Queen of Scots. 

 

I have yet to find a biographical work that doesn't show any bias. Suggestions welcome if you know of any. This book wasn't any different. Guy obvious has a fangirl thing going on with Mary. He things she's smart, beautiful, and cunning. Personally I think one of those two things may be true. To quote some of my favorite preschool teachers, Mary makes a lot of bad choices. 

 

While Guy makes his adoration of Mary no secret, he also makes it perfectly clear that he is not a fan of one William Cecil (later Lord Burghley). Guy seems to believe Cecil is the root of all Mary's problems. Cecil wasn't leading Mary's fan club or even getting the newsletters but let's not get nuts. Mary was a queen in her own right. If Mary was as smart and capable as Guy wants his readers to believe, shouldn't she have been able to outsmart Cecil and survive? 

 

I have Guy's biography of Elizabeth I on my shelf. While I wasn't planning on reading it any time soon, I may have to move it up the list. I'm interested to see what kind of picture Guy paints of the people living on the other side of Mary's fence. I would think his characterization of Cecil would remain consistent. Right?

 

 

Read 1/1/2020- 1/5/2020

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text 2020-01-02 22:17
Reading Summary for 2019
Excellent women - Barbara Pym
A Brightness Long Ago - Guy Gavriel Kay
A Song for Arbonne - Guy Gavriel Kay
Stillhouse Lake - Rachel Caine
The Queens of Innis Lear - Tessa Gratton
A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin
Sword and Pen - Rachel Caine
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer - Michelle McNamara,Patton Oswalt,Gillian Flynn
All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault: A Novel - James Alan Gardner

2019 was a good reading year. I read about 270 books (I’m pretty sure that a few of my re-reads didn’t make it into my calculations). Out of that total, 9 books earned over the 4 star rating for me. The vast majority of my choices ended up in 4 star territory, very satisfactory. Some of my favourites, which I re-read a lot, end up in the 4 star category simply because they are fun, but I’m aware that they aren’t great literature.

Longest book in 2019Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan.
Shortest book in 2019Saving Thunder the Great: the true story of a gerbil's escape from the Fort McMurray wildfire by Leanne Shirtliffe.
First book of the yearVery Good, Jeeves! by P.G. Wodehouse
Last book of the yearMagic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Best non-fiction book of 2019I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara. It’s a shame that the author didn’t live to see this case solved, but she wrote one hell of a book about her investigations.

When Words Collide conference: I attended this conference in August and discovered a new favourite author, James Alan Gardner. I would highly recommend the first two books in his Dark/Spark series: All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault and They Promised Me the Gun Wasn't Loaded.

I read 41 books in my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project, falling a bit short of my goal of reading one book per week. Notable books include Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh, and Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb.

Favourite book in my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading projectA Game of Thrones. A dramatic and fully realized world, with strong characters and an uncompromising plot. I could feel the cold and smell the food, plus sympathize with people on both sides of the conflict. I can hardly wait to read the second book of the series.

Shakespeare Project: I saw 3 Shakespearean plays this year, including Antony and CleopatraCoriolanus, and Richard II. I have now seen over half of the Bard’s plays. Yay!

Best Psychological SuspenseStillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine. Un-put-down-able. Do you get a second chance at life after discovering that your husband is a serial killer? I couldn’t help but root for this determined heroine in her quest to keep herself and her children safe. I also loved the sequel, Killman Creek.

Best Historical Fantasy: This was a tie between two books by the same author, Guy Gavriel Kay. A Song for Arbonne, set in a version of Renaissance Provence and A Brightness Long Ago, set in a fantasy version of Renaissance Italy. I’m gradually working my way through all of Kay’s books and none of them have rated lower that 4.5 stars for me.

Best Fantasy Retelling of a Shakespearean workThe Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton. This was my first 5 star book of 2019 and I can totally see myself reading it again in the future. A luxurious dark fantasy with plenty of magic and mystery.

Best Young Adult novelSword and Pen by Rachel Caine. Fifth volume in The Great Library series and just as good as the previous volumes. This conclusion to the series reduced me to emotional tatters by the end and I cried a lot. Start with the first volume and enjoy them all.

Favourite Classic read this yearExcellent Women by Barbara Pym. A look at the life of a single woman and the pressures of society to be part of a couple. With wicked commentary on the usefulness (or lack thereof) of many men. I count myself in the number of Excellent Women.

Most Powerful Novel read in 2019Beloved by Toni Morrison. Gorgeous writing about a difficult subject. Well worth reading, although I found I had to read it slowly: Read a chapter and reflect.

Summer Reading Project: This year featured the Summer of Sherlock. I read 29 books for this project, including several of the originals by Arthur Conan Doyle and lots of Holmes pastiche. My favourite discovery was the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas.

Best Book Read for BookclubWe Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. This one kept me thinking about it for days after I finished it. I think it provoked the most discussion among the book club members too.

Re-reads of 2019: I spent a fair amount of time re-reading several favourite series, including Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris, The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman, and Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews. All three of them are in my preferred genre, Urban Fantasy.

New Releases that I’m looking forward to in 2020Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews, A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn, Imaginary Numbers by Seanan McGuire, The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman, False Value by Ben Aaronovitch, Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas, and A Killing Frost by Seanan McGuire.

I’ll look forward to seeing how my friends’ 2019 reading year went and I wish you all the best 2020 possible! Happy New Year!
 

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url 2020-01-02 15:38
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url 2019-12-31 14:39
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url 2019-12-30 14:48
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