Category Archives: Historical Non-Fiction

Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots: The Life of King Henry VIII’s Sister by Sarah-Beth Watkins – Review

Title – Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots: The Life of King Henry VIII’s Sister
Author – Sarah-Beth Watkins
Genre – History, Biography
Length – 169 Pages
Publication – 8th December 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Margaret Tudor was Henry VIII’s older sister and became the Queen of Scotland after her marriage to James IV in 1503. Her life was troubled and fraught with tension. She was continually caught between her country of birth and the country she ruled. After James IV’s death, she made the disastrous decision to marry the Earl of Angus, threatening her regency and forcing the Scottish council to send for the Duke of Albany to rule in her stead. Over the years, Margaret’s allegiance swung between England and Scotland, making her brother Henry VIII both her ally and her enemy at times. Although Margaret wished for peace between the two countries, these were tumultuous years and she didn’t always make the wisest choices. Yet, all she did she did for her son James V, and her absolute conviction he would rule Scotland as its rightful king.

Review

Ever since I caught the reading bug I’ve always enjoyed historical fiction but while the tales are always exciting a fun for me once in a while I quite like learning some cold hard truths and that’s where Sarah-Beth Watkins fits in perfectly.

Watkins writes in a very clear manner, setting out the details as they are known in the life of Margaret Tudor. You might think a biography might be a little dry but I find Watkins’s books so refreshing and easy to read.

This book is packed full of detail and really shows you how a woman of royal birth was treated at the time. They are little more than bargaining chips.

It’s a short read but packed full of info so you feel you get your money’s worth.

The story itself is fascinating. Margaret Tudor suffers so much in her life and at times it’s rather emotional as the story comes to life and the relationship she had with her brother made this book a real page turner.

What Watkins does time and time again is she makes her books more than just a fact based text-book for history students..she gives it life and makes it rather more mainstream and interesting for the everyday reader.

Highly recommend for history fans.

My thanks go to the publishers and the author for the chance to read and review the book in exchange for an honest review.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

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Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Restoration Queen by Sarah-Beth Watkins – Review

Title – Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Restoration Queen
Author – Sarah-Beth Watkins
Genre – Historical
Length – 168 Pages
Publication – April 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Catherine of Braganza, a Portuguese princess, married Charles II in 1662 and became the merry monarch’s Restoration queen. Yet life for her was not so merry – she put up with the king’s many mistresses and continuous plots to remove her from the throne. She lived through times of war, plague and fire. Catherine’s marriage saw many trials and tribulations including her inability to produce an heir. Yet Charles supported his queen throughout the Restoration, remaining devoted to her no matter what. Outliving her husband, she ended up back in her home country and spent her final days as queen-regent of Portugal.

Review

I’m no historian I’ll admit but I’ve really wanted to learn more over the last few years. What Watkins gets perfect for a reader like me is she manages to make a historical character come to life. There’s lots of facts to take in but you don’t feel bogged down or bored at any point, it’s all relevant and interesting.

Once again Watkins manages to introduce me to someone I’ve heard of but knew very little..and it’s a very compelling tale indeed.. Catherine didn’t have things easy in her life.

The years with Charles were tough..he wanted an heir that she just couldn’t provide and the author manged to convey the struggle she must have been going through. Charles’s treatment of Catherine at times was harsh and scandalous but at others he showed his loyalty to her.

Catherine does her best to fit in at the English court despite the obvious hatred some held for her, she must have been a very strong woman indeed.

Overall it’s a very captivating tale. There’s plots galore and mistresses as you’d expect from the time but the tale really does open your eyes to someone we should really know more about..too many people in history are overshadowed..Catherine should not be one of them.

If you enjoy fact more than fiction give this book a go and if indeed you prefer fiction I still suggest you read the book. I never would have thought I would enjoy a tale such as this, a biography, “where’s the action” I always thought..but how wrong I was. It’s full of excitement and so much more.

Sarah-Beth Watkins definitely makes me want to read/learn more history.. there’s so much out there to explore.

My thanks go to Chronos Books for providing a copy of the book for review.

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

The Tudor Brandons by Sarah-Beth Watkins

Title – The Tudor Brandons
Author – Sarah-Beth Watkins
Genre – Historical Non-fiction
Length –    208 Pages
Publication – June 2016
My Rating – 4/5 Stars

Synopsis

This fascinating book studies the life and times of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon, Henry VIII’s dearest sister and his closest companion. Charles rose from being Henry’s childhood friend to becoming the Duke of Suffolk; a consummate courtier and diplomat. Mary was always royalty. At first married to the King of France, Mary quickly wed Charles after Louis XII’s death in 1515, against her brother’s wishes. Their actions could have been construed as treason yet Henry chose to spare their lives. They returned to court and despite their ongoing disagreements throughout the years, especially over the king’s marriage to Anne Boleyn, the Tudor Brandons remained Henry’s most loyal subjects and perhaps more importantly, his beloved family.

Review

Besides the reading I did in school and university this is the first real non-fiction book I’ve set myself down to read. It not that I don’t like non-fiction but I love the possibilities with fiction… I needn’t have worried though.

This book is crammed full of detail but told in such a way that it felt like a story playing out rather than just fact and fact.

We’ve all heard of Henry VIII I would hope but this is my first encounter Charles Brandon a very close friend of the King and I it enlightening to learn more about this period than was covered while I studied it at school many years ago.

Although Charles was not the nicest to woman I felt he must have been a very powerful and likeable man as he managed time and time again to keep on the good side of a king we all very much know wasn’t afraid to get rid of anyone in his way. We see Charles rise up through the ranks which seems to have caused quite a stir at the time, especially when he marries the King’s sister.

I’m not going to lie.. I’m not an English expert so I did find it hard to follow some of the text written in Older English but it didn’t take anything away from the tale.. it left me curious if anything so had me looking up little things here and there.

The only thing I would have liked elaborated on a bit further was the value of money at the time. We are told how much certain people were paid but since I’ve no knowledge of the currency system back then I’ve no idea the significance if any… that was the only note I scribbled down while reading.

If I had to pick a word to best describe this book it would have to be fascinating.. There’s so much history out there that isn’t taught at school.. you need to go out and look for it.. and when you do you find there’s some really interesting characters out there.

Anyone with an interest in the Tudors will enjoy this book and I’d highly recommend anyone like myself who has stuck to fiction to give this a go. It really was and enjoyable and engrossing read.

This is a family saga, love and death. It’s something you can really get your teeth into if you enjoy your history

Well worth reading

My thanks go to Chronos Books for the chance to read/review the work! Fascinating!

To find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com