The Girl Who Lived Twice by David Lagercrantz

“I will be the hunter not the hunted.” – Lisbeth

Following on from the last book in the series, Lisbeth is still trying to track her sister’s movements while staying hidden herself. She ends up in Russia and has managed to hack in to cameras around Camilla’s house. Meanwhile back in Sweden Mikael is working on his story about the stock market crash. But he’s bored and uninspired, he can’t find an answer to his questions so he decides to take a break. But because he Mikael Blomkvist, he gets dragged into a mystery anyway. A homeless man died but a doctor who had seen the man often suspects fowl play. The man kept to himself and as far as she could tell there was no reason to murder him.

I realised how much I had missed Lisbeth and Mikael when I started reading this. They’re both so determined and intelligent yet chaotic, I forgot how fascinating they are. Lisbeth hasn’t told anyone where she is or what she’s up to, she works well on her own but Mikael is really worried about her, he’s searching for signs of her everywhere.

“He was fed up with it. He was tired of the news in general, tired of all the depressing political developments around the world.” – what a mood!

I felt like we’re back at what this series does best, we have a mystery, it’s possibly political but none of the pieces fit together. Lisbeth and Mikael make a brilliant team even though they’re not together. The jumps from one character to the next are seamless, it’s not confusing or difficult to follow and it keeps a nice pace to the book. It becomes incredibly tense and dramatic as the story goes on.

I like how a few times the story touched on the damaging effects the media can have. The hate campaign towards Johannes and Catrin’s dealings with negative reactions to her journalism. Social media has become this terrifying place where horrible people can sit safely behind a screen and tear down others for fun. It needs to stop.

I am so sad that this is the last book in the series, I will miss Lisbeth and Mikael a lot! The tension and action towards the end is so dramatic, I couldn’t put the book down. The whole series has shone a light on how dangerous our world is, there are secret threats everywhere when it comes to governments and spies. How much can we really trust our leaders? My bet is not at all! But there are still good people like Lisbeth and Mikael, Bublanski and Sonja who give us hope.

The Familiars by Stacey Halls Review

The Familiars is set in 1611-1612, Fleetwood is a young noblewoman, she has had multiple pregnancies but none of them have gone to term. She has recently discovered a letter from her doctor to her husband stating that another pregnancy may kill her. Yet she is pregnant again, Richard didn’t care, he would rather have an heir. Fleetwood is desperate to find help, she meets a young midwife, Alice, by chance and their lives become intertwined. When Alice is accused of being a witch Fleetwood tries desperately to save her, it could mean a death sentence for all of them if Alice isn’t there to help with the birth.

“Women carried life and death in their stomachs when they conceived; it was a fact of our existence.”

Fleetwood is treated awfully by her husband, he knows that another pregnancy would kill her but he chose not to tell her and is still obsessed with having a child. Then he ignores her worries and tries to control everything. However there is an air of mystery in the story that makes me eager to read more.

The king is not a supporter of women trying to make their way in the world any way they can: helping neighbours, and driving off sickness, and trying to keep their children alive.” – Alice

I love that Fleetwood and Alice team up to run away from the witch hunters. It makes me shudder to think what women went through during James I’s reign. The treatment of women in this age makes me so angry.

Fleetwood’s sass knows no bounds! I was so proud of her when she was investigating and trying to save Alice. She is an absolute badass, she’s riding around the countryside, heavily pregnant, threatening people who are lying about Alice. She’s determined and brave in a society that constantly puts women down or tries to kill them.

“The realisation was lapping at my edges again, the knowledge that without Alice, I may as well have a rope tied too.

This book is very well written, Fleetwood’s feelings and pain are so vivid that I felt everything with her. I wanted so desperately for her to succeed and survive along with Alice. I strongly recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and anyone who loves strong female characters.

Circe by Madeline Miller Review

“You cannot know how frightened gods are of pain. There is nothing more foreign to them, and so nothing they ache more deeply to see.”

Circe is a story of fierce strength, loneliness, rejection, a mother’s love and a woman who fought against the bullies around her and succeeded, all of this is tied into the Greek myths, we meet some of the gods and goddesses but my favourite parts were with Circe when she was on her island, fighting to keep her child safe and standing up to the people who had tried to belittle her.

“For a hundred generations, I had walked the world drowsy and dull, idle and at my ease. I left no prints, I did no deeds. Even those who had loved me a little did not care to stay. Then I learned that I could bend the world to my will, as a bow is bent for an arrow.”

I was so excited when Circe found out she is a witch. She had been scorned and bullied her whole life and now she had power and a purpose. I love the style of writing, it’s almost poetic, that’s why I have so many favourite quotes!

“In a solitary life there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.”

Circe is fierce and powerful but she still has compassion. She cares about her animals and the mortals she endangered by creating a monster. But when Circe was attacked by some sailors she started murdering all the horrible men that invaded her island, honestly what a mood.

“Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.”

I love how the book shows that just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. I prefer my own company a lot of the time, and when Circe is at peace on her island so does she, she has her pet lions and it suits her well. But because Circe is immortal she faces an eternity alone which I’m not sure I could cope with!

“The air would smell like buttery olives and iron. I would speak her name and the sky would glow bright as polished silver.”

I was very emotional at the end, I loved everything about this book, I highly recommend it, you don’t have to know about Greek myths to enjoy it.

“I thought once that gods are the opposite of death, but I see now they are more dead than anything, for they are unchanging, and can hold nothing in their hands.”

Books I Read During Lockdown

Here in Britain we were in lockdown from the end of March and this week I went back to work, so I thought I would list the books I read during lockdown and give them all a rating. All the books I read were a great escape from reality and I loved sitting outside in the sunshine with them.

50095371. sx318 sy475 The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans – 4/5 Stars

Blurb: Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and Found days before his sudden death.
Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted ‘The Garden of Lost and Found’, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.
One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…
When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.
Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?

I read the end of this during the first week of lockdown. It’s perfect for anyone who loves historical fiction. My full review is here.

11735456A Feast For Crows by George R.R. Martin – 5/5 Stars

Blurb: The war in the Seven Kingdoms has burned itself out, but in its bitter aftermath new conflicts spark to life. The Martells of Dorne and the Starks of Winterfell seek vengeance for their dead. Euron Crow’s Eye, as black a pirate as ever raised a sail, returns from the smoking ruins of Valyria to claim the Iron Isles.

From the icy north, where Others threaten the Wall, apprentice Maester Samwell Tarly brings a mysterious babe in arms to the Citadel. As plots, intrigue and battle threaten to engulf Westeros, victory will go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel and the coldest hearts.

I love this book so much, it’s my favourite in ASOIAF so far. Nearly all of my favourites have POV chapters and it’s incredibly dramatic.

27245960The Virgin’s War by Laura Andersen – 4/5 Stars

Blurb: It’s 1585, and the balance of European power is tilting dangerously toward war. It will take all of Elizabeth Tudor’s skill and wiles to defend England from the looming threat of the Spanish Armada.

Complicating matters is Elizabeth’s beloved daughter—the result of the Queen’s tempestuous marriage with her worst enemy: King Philip of Spain.

As Elizabeth commits her riches, her honor, and her people to the coming war, the Queen will risk everything—even her own life—to preserve England’s freedom.

This was a great finale to the Tudor Legacy trilogy. I still miss the characters now! My full review is here.

17452179Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty (Audiobook) – 3/5 Stars

Blurb: Yvonne Carmichael sits in the witness box. The charge is murder. Before all of this, she was happily married, a successful scientist, a mother of two. Now she’s a suspect, squirming under fluorescent lights and the penetrating gaze of the alleged accomplice who’s sitting across from her, watching: a man who’s also her lover. As Yvonne faces hostile questioning, she must piece together the story of her affair with this unnamed figure who has charmed and haunted her. This is a tale of sexual intrigue, ruthless urges, and danger, which has blindsided her from a seemingly innocuous angle. Here in the courtroom, everything hinges on one night in a dark alley called Apple Tree Yard.

The book was gripping because it started with a court case but we didn’t know what crime had been committed. Then it flashed back through the characters lives. I enjoyed it but it did drag slightly in the middle.

13337715A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin – 4.5 Stars

Blurb: In the aftermath of a colossal battle, new threats are emerging from every direction.

Tyrion Lannister, having killed his father, and wrongfully accused of killing his nephew, King Joffrey, has escaped from King’s Landing with a price on his head.

To the north lies the great Wall of ice and stone – a structure only as strong as those guarding it. Eddard Stark’s bastard son Jon Snow has been elected 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. But Jon has enemies both inside and beyond the Wall.

And in the east Daenerys Targaryen struggles to hold a city built on dreams and dust.

This destroys me at the end. I just want The Winds of Winter to come out!

49794564. sx318 sy475 Sanditon by Jane Austen – 3/5 Stars

Blurb: Written in the last months of Austen’s life, Sanditon features a glorious cast of hypochondriacs and speculators in a newly established seaside resort, and shows the author contemplating a changing society with scepticism and amusement. It tells the story of Charlotte Heywood, who is transported by a chance accident from her rural hometown to Sanditon, where she is exposed to the intrigues and dalliances of a small town – and encounters the intriguingly handsome Sidney Parker.

I enjoyed this because Jane Austen’s style is great but I actually preferred the television adaptation. To be fair to Jane this is one of her unfinished works but I still really liked all the quirky characters.

23513349Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Blurb: Milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. ‘milk and honey’ takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

A stunning collection of poems, I really related to them. I don’t usually read poetry but I’m glad I read these.

45858619The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris – 3.5/5 Stars

Blurb: Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her ‘special’ child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.

But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray. The arrival of Narcisse’s relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist’s across the square – one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own – all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence – even, perhaps, a murder…

I enjoyed this book, I liked reading about the subtle magic the characters could do and being transported to the small French village.

34466963. sy475 Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker (Audiobook) – 3.5/5 Stars

Blurb: Sleep is one of the most important but least understood aspects of our life, wellness, and longevity. Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why we suffer such devastating health consequences when we don’t sleep. Compared to the other basic drives in life—eating, drinking, and reproducing—the purpose of sleep remained elusive.

I love a non-fiction audiobook! This was really interesting and made me think about some of my harmful sleeping habits.

44147077. sy475 The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman – 4.5/5 Stars

Blurb: It is seven years since readers left Lyra and the love of her young life, Will Parry, on a park bench in Oxford’s Botanic Gardens at the end of the ground-breaking, bestselling His Dark Materials sequence.
Now, in The Secret Commonwealth, we meet Lyra Silvertongue. And she is no longer a child . . .
The second volume of Sir Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust sees Lyra, now twenty years old, and her daemon Pantalaimon, forced to navigate their relationship in a way they could never have imagined, and drawn into the complex and dangerous factions of a world that they had no idea existed.
Pulled along on his own journey too is Malcolm; once a boy with a boat and a mission to save a baby from the flood, now a man with a strong sense of duty and a desire to do what is right
Theirs is a world at once familiar and extraordinary, and they must travel far beyond the edges of Oxford, across Europe and into Asia, in search for what is lost – a city haunted by daemons, a secret at the heart of a desert, and the mystery of the elusive Dust.

I’m so glad this book exists, I really enjoyed it, especially seeing Lyra as an adult. My full review is here.

50794839. sx318 sy475 The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins – 5/5 Stars

Blurb: It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined—every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

I’m still reeling from this book. It’s so clever, I love a prequel and this exceeded all my expectations. My full review is here.

41728472. sy475 Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty – 4/5 Stars

Blurb: The retreat at health-and-wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation.
Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage, and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages.
Miles from anywhere, without cars or phones, they have no way to reach the outside world. Just time to think about themselves, and get to know each other.
Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission. But quite a different one from any the guests might have imagined.
For behind the retreat’s glamorous facade lies a dark agenda.
These nine perfect strangers have no idea what’s about to hit them . . .

I really enjoyed this book, the psychological side of it was interesting. My full review is here.

I am thankful to these books for helping me escape reality during this scary and strange time. I also noticed that my reading speed has got much quicker as well!

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty Review

“Frances felt hope rise in the room like a delicate mist. Oh, to be transformed, to be someone else, to be someone better.”

Nine Perfect Strangers is set in Australia. Nine people have signed up to a ‘life changing’ retreat. They think they heading to a normal health resort. But they are wrong.

It was interesting to see how the characters coped with the stress of not being able to talk for five days coupled with the fasting periods. I definitely couldn’t do either, if I’m not talking to others then I’m talking to myself!

The book shines a light on how rushed and superficial our society can be. I have learnt through this crisis that it is good to slow down and take in your surroundings.

Very cleverly done, the characters are detailed and completely believable. Liane Moriarty is very good at writing real people, all the characters are complex and flawed which is why this book works so well. I’ve always found human behaviour fascinating and this book definitely shows great insight.

I really enjoyed this book, it was interesting, clever, shocking and moving. I’m excited to read more of Liane Moriarty’s work.

“Nine people were depending on her. Nine perfect strangers who would soon become like family.”

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins Review

“Nothing you can take from me was ever worth keeping.”

I was drawn in completely at the beginning. Of course we already know the Panem of the future, but this version of the Capitol still has rubble in the streets where the District 13 bombs hit. The citizens still remember the war and they are full of venom, full of bitterness. They still have their pride and now they have the power back. It was interesting seeing things from the Capitols point of view. I still didn’t sympathise with them because they disgust me. But a lot of people did object to the Hunger Games.

If starving to death was a natural cause. He wasn’t entirely sure. Was it natural if hunger had been used as a weapon?”

I loved Lucy Gray (Snow’s tribute) straight away, she is bold, sassy and wonderful. Snow is very clever and always eager to please but he still has compassion. I have no idea how it came about but I did start to feel sympathy for Snow. Despite knowing how he turns out, I found myself hoping that he would somehow not become the evil President of Katniss’ day.

We see the Hunger Games taking the shape of the ones we know. The spectacle, the show that the Capitol put on to subdue the Districts. It’s terrifying seeing all the horrible things that we know one day will harm countless children and make the whole event into a show rather than the slaughter that it is.

“If the people who were supposed to protect you played so fast and loose with your life…then how did you survive? Not by trusting them, that was for sure.

I loved all the little things that remind us of the original series. Like mentions of Mockingjays etc. The music that travelled down the generations, lullabies and nursery rhymes. Even some poems from before the apocalypse were made into songs by some citizens.

I didn’t want the book to end, because it was so brilliant and because I knew it must end in heartbreak somehow. Something must happen to Snow and I wasn’t in a rush to find out.

Truly an incredible read. Collins kept me on my toes the whole way through. Especially towards the end, I felt like I couldn’t dare to breathe. I am very emotional at the end of this book. The Coriolanus Snow we knew was cold, manipulative and evil. But we’re not born evil, and nor was he. If you like The Hunger Games series this is a must read.

“I think there’s a natural goodness built into human beings. You know when you’ve stepped across the line into evil, and it’s your life’s challenge to try and stay in the right side of that line.”

The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman Review

This book is set 10 years after His Dark Materials. Lyra is twenty years-old and studying at Oxford University. It still follows on from the first in the series La Bell Sauvage, we see Malcolm has grown up to be a professor at Oxford and he even tried to teach Lrya when she was a teenager. She didn’t know, of course that he saved her life when she was just a baby.

Lyra and Pan are launched straight into a mystery surrounding roses. Pan often goes out at night on his own and he witnessed a murder. Lyra and Pan always seem to attract trouble and they are still in danger from the Magisterium. The whole world is being dictated to by the Magisterium, they are scary people and their power is growing.

It broke my heart to see that Pan and Lyra are having trouble connecting. Ever since Lyra had to go to the Underworld in The Anber Spyglass, her and Pan have been able to move around separately but it also seems their relationship has suffered over the years since. Lyra has also lost the ability to read her alethiometer naturally, she now has to rely on books to tell her all the symbol meanings.

The Secret Commonwealth is the secret world of mythical creatures. Faries and many other creatures live in Lyra’s world but most people don’t know they exist or don’t believe in them. I love this idea, I think that’s what our world is like too.

I’m so glad we get to see more of Malcolm and more of the secret organisation he’s a part of. It was created to fight the Magisterium but their nunbers are dwindling. We get to see a lot more of the politics of Lyra’s world in this book. Everything is a lot more complicated.

The way that the humans without their daemons are treated and how they feel is like they have mental health issues. People avoid them unnecessarily, they’re afraid of them. And Lyra feels lonely and broken. Seeing Lyra go through this self loathing is tough, your early twenties are really difficult. I just wanted to give her a hug.

“She felt as if shed woken up in chains and couldn’t free herself, so she had to carry them with her wherever she went, like a badge of shame.”

An incrdible book, very emotional and thought provoking. At the beginning Lyra is reading a lot of philosophy books that question the existence of daemons but on her journey she finds out about the Secret Commonwealth. There is more magic around us than we think and we often forget that as we grow up.

The book ends on a cliffhanger of course! I don’t know when the next book will be published or even what it’s called, but I am eager to read it! Philip Pullman once again has drawn me in to Lyra’s world and I don’t want to leave.

“‘There are philosophers who say that the failure would be to believe, not to disbelieve.’ ‘Then they have separated their intelligences from their other faculties. And that is not an intelligent thing to do.’”

A Song of Ice and Fire Re-read – A Dance With Dragons

This post will contain spoilers for A Dance With Dragons!

As I suspected I was not as into this book as I was AFFC. I enjoyed meeting Griff and Quentyn but some of the chapters at the beginning started to bore me a bit. Also please get Stannis away from me. In the middle it gets more exciting as everyone closes in on Meereen.

At the beginning it appears that both Tyrion and Jon have changed for the worse. Tyrion is horrible, all he thinks of is violence, he scared a girl half to death in his first chapter. Jon is making cruel decisions like sending Gilly away without her baby and sending Maester Aemon to his death to ‘protect them’. Just tell Stannis to go away, he’s a sociopath, you don’t have to be one too Jon!

Bran’s chapters end early on, we barely hear anything from him. He is still trying to learn how to use his gift. But there is a chapter with Theon where he is in Winterfell’s Godswood, he hears whispers and thinks he can see Bran’s face in the weirwood tree so clearly our boy is getting better.

I enjoyed reading about all the characters converging on Meereen. Quentyn, Griff, Aegon and Tyrion all trying to get to Dany and trying to navigate around all the armies headed for the city. Dany is in real trouble, she has about ten armies heading for her city. While inside the city walls her people are being murdered. It’s an absolute mess and I still don’t fully understand her decision to stay there rather than head for her ‘home’ in Westeros. Not that I want her to attack my babies but I am worried for her.

The biggest game changer in this book is finding out that Rhaegar’s son Aegon is still alive. Jon Connington, one of Rhaegar’s childhood friends somehow swapped the boy for another and has kept him hidden in Essos all this time. They have been plotting with Varys to get Aegon to marry Dany. Another Targaryen changes everything, ‘the dragon has three heads.’ Aegon is the second. But he decided to go in a different direction on Tyrion’s advice, Aegon takes the Golden Company across the sea himself to take Westeros. They don’t have any dragons but they do have the element of surprise and a war torn country to prey upon.

Tyrion gets his humour back later on. He also saves Jorah from being sold to a woman who kills her slaves for meat. They end up escaping their masters and joining the Second Sons. Tyrion is trying to convince them to join Team Dany again when we leave them. But Dany has gone, she has disappeared with Drogon so who knows if she will ever see Jorah again.

Jon also chills out slightly. He sasses Stannis’ wife and her stupid guards. It’s hilarious how up their own arses they are. Jon thinks Arya is riding to the wall fleeing Winterfell and the Boltons but it’s actually Alys Karstark who is running from her uncles and an unwanted marriage. As we know Arya is in Bravos learning how to become an assassin! I am proud of Jon, he made sure all the wildlings could come through the Wall and help protect themselves from the White Walkers. But some of the Night’s Watch loathed him for it. My Jon died alone in the cold, betrayed and stabbed by his own men.

The only Theon chapter I could read without wanting to throw the book across the room was quite late on. The Bolton’s and their allies are all snowed in at Winterfell, waiting for Stannis’ army to arrive. But men keep turning up, murdered, the storm is only getting worse. The North Rememberers.

Jaime only has one chapter, he’s just wandering through the Riverlands, in no haste to get back to King’s Landing where his sister is imprisoned! Thanks bro. But before he can get home he comes across Brienne. Usually this would be great, but she has been tasked with bringing Jaime to Lady Stoneheart. I don’t know how Jaime is going to talk himself out of this, I just really don’t want him to die!

Cersei’s chapters broke my heart. I hate seeing her suffer like that. The whole time she is imprisoned she still has faith that Jaime is coming with his army to save her. But we know that is not true. I am so in awe of her strength, even when faced with the humiliation of the walk of atonement, she is fierce and strong and knows that this is the only way to reach Tommen. I was sobbing through the whole chapter but she has her champion now, the Sparrows’ days are numbered.

This is a re-read but I completely forgot what happened in the epilogue! Kevan Lannister is now acting a regent. He is trying to make the chaos around him better. But he is doing too good a job. He was summoned to Grand Maester Pycelle’s chambers, only the old man is dead and Kevan gets shot in the chest with a crossbow. Varys has somehow managed to get back into to capital. He’s determined to have chaos so that Aegon can swoop in and take the throne. Kevan was the Lannister’s only hope, I have no idea what is going to happen in The Winds of Winter but it doesn’t bode well for most of my favourites.

On my kill list: Stannis, Melisandre, Theon, The Boltons, Walder Frey and all of his offspring, The High Sparrow and all his followers, the Ironborn, Jon’s murderers and Varys.

Let me protect them: Cersei, Jaime, Brienne, Arya, Tyrion, Jorah and Dany.

Heartbreaking death: Jon Snow

Some people believe that Jon isn’t dead or that he will be brought back in TWOW but to me it was clear that Jon died in his last chapter. I will never forgive those traitorous pieces of shit for killing Jon. He was the kindest and most intelligent person at the Wall. Jon was the only person who could see that by protecting the wildlings he was stopping the Wights army of the dead from growing stronger. The betrayal is the worst part, Jon put everything into being the best Lord Commander of the Nights Watch he could and they stabbed him in the back, literally. I am so sorry Jon.

Favourite quotes:Men are beasts, selfish and brutal. However gentle the words, there are always darker motives underneath.” – Vagarro’s Widow

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, the man who never reads lives only one.” – Jojen Reed

“I rose too high, loved too hard, dared too much. I tried to grasp a star, overreached and fell.” – Jon Connington, this quote breaks my heart. He’s spent most of his life in love with Rhaegar and hoping some day to avenge him.

“I am a lioness, I will not cringe for them.” – Cersei Lannister

“However bright a torch might burn it could never match the rising sun.” – Kevan Lannister, thinking that if Rhaegar had married Cersei the prince would not have turned to Lyanna.

That’s all we have for the moment, most of my favourites are in peril and I am patiently waiting for The Winds of Winter to be published!

The Virgin’s War by Laura Andersen Review

“She was a princess walking a dangerous path between competing powers that would tear her to pieces the instant she slipped.”

This is the last in the Tudor Legacy series, what a thrilling and wonderful end it is. I will miss this series and the characters in it. The Courtenay family have such strong bonds with each other and as a reader you feel part of their family too.

The book begins two years after the events of The Virgin’s Spy. Stephen and Kit are training in France with their father’s oldest friend Renaud LeClerc. Lucette is at home with her husband but has suffered miscarriages. Her family are worried for her because of the emotional toll it has taken. Pippa is at Princess Anabel’s side in the North of England. Pippa saw in a vision that it was important for Anabel to win the Catholics in the North to their side. Minuette and Dominic are at their home in Wynfield Motte, they have not spoken to Queen Elizabeth since she banished Stephen.

War is coming, much like in history the Spanish are building an armada and plan to invade England. But in this story Philip thinks he has an extra weapon in his daughter Anabel. He believes that Anabel and Elizabeth have fallen out. He sends a vile fanatic to try and mold the Princess and get her to change her allegiances.

One of the things I have loved about this series is how Queen Elizabeth and Princess Anabel are portrayed. They are fiercely strong, independent and intelligent. They cannot be manipulated and rule brilliantly on their own.

I really enjoyed reading how everyone prepared for the war. The Courtenay’s were key to the plan, their ties to our royals are strong and they are dependable friends. It was great to see all the younger characters evolve over the story. They are strong and clever and brave. I am so proud of them. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, but well worth it! I cried a lot at the end which is not unlike me, I hate goodbyes.

“You’ve been playing games with royalty. Royalty does not require evidence.”

A Song of Ice and Fire Re-read: A Feast for Crows

This is my favourite of the series so far simply because three of my best characters have the most chapters; Cersei, Brienne and Jaime! It’s the first time we get to see Westeros through Cersei and Brienne’s eyes and I have the best time reading their thoughts. Cersei is sassy and so brutal I laugh a lot, unless she makes me emotional. Brienne is an absolute gem, I love learning more about her and her childhood. I just want to give her a massive hug. Jaime continues to be the chaotic sass king that we know and love.

We get to go to Dorne, finally! I love Dorne, the people are so badass, I would not mess with them! Arianne Martel is the next in line to rule Dorne. In Dorne women can inherit lands and titles before men and Arianne is a true feminist, she wants those rights for Princess Mrycella as well. Dorne however is in meltdown, they have lost their beloved Prince Oberyn, his bastard daughters The Sand Snakes want revenge. But Doran Martell is intelligent, he knows they can’t win a war against the Lannisters now that they have the Tyrell’s with them. He makes the decision to keep the girls imprisoned so they don’t stir up anymore trouble.

Brienne is literally the kindest person in Westeros and everyone treats her like crap and always has, it’s so depressing! When Brienne went to fight for Renly, the knights in the camp had a bet on who could seduce her first. They were all being nice and romantic to her face and then laughing behind her back, they are all on my kill list. Brienne cares so much about others, even when she came across some of the Bloody Mummers who captured her and Jaime in A Clash of Kings, they attacked her again, she killed them and still felt guilty. Even though they are evil! She deserves all the good things in the world and I would love to adopt her and show her the love she deserves!! Her last two chapters broke my heart completely, she tried to protect a group of children against seven horrible men and then got captured by the Brotherhood Without Banners. They took her for a Lannister, unfortunately her sword does have a lion on its pommel…and she has a note from the King granting her permission to move about the land. Lady Stoneheart told her to kill Jaime and she could go free, but Brienne would rather die until she sees her friends being killed too. I’m still crying about it.

Cersei starts the book having just learned her father is dead. And has been murdered by Tyrion who she thought was locked away. Cersei gets increasingly paranoid that Tyrion is still creeping around the castle in the walls. She decides to burn down the Tower of the Hand with wildfire after Tywin’s funeral. So extra, I love it! Cersei is not going to let anyone take her power from her, Tommen is still far too young to rule and like hell is my girl going to let a man rule over her again. Unfortunately Cersei manages to anger both Jaime and Kevan in her ruling. They are the only dependable family she has left. She makes some questionable decisions, the worst by far was letting the creepy, pious ‘sparrows’ take up arms in the name of the Faith. The Faith Militant were disbanded and banned back in the early Targaryen days. They caused trouble for Maegor I who had super powerful dragons at his disposal. To give them power back is beyond stupid, these idiots are obsessed with ‘sinners’ and punishing them. No one is safe. One of the most important things we learnt about Cersei was the prophecy she heard about herself when she was a child. She went to see a Maegi with her friends, Cersei still thought she would get to marry Prince Rhaegar at this point so her questions were about that. “Queen you shall be, until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear. Three children for you. Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds. And when your tears have drowned you, the volonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.” The prophecy explains a lot of Cersei’s paranoia, she believes Margaery is going to take everything from her, that all her children will die before her and that Tyrion will kill her. I don’t think the younger brother mentioned in the prophecy is Tyrion. Jaime was born after Cersei, by moments but he is younger and his growing rage towards her could spell serious trouble. I worry for Cersei, mainly because I know what’s coming.

Jaime is spiralling in King’s Landing. He’s still trying to recover from loosing his hand and Tyrion’s warning to him that Cersei has been having multiple affairs keeps ringing in his head. He also has to deal with the guilt that he caused his father’s death. He let Tyrion free and his brother went straight to kill Tywin. Awkward. Jaime refuses to rule as the King’s Hand, he struggles enough with leading the Kingsguard. He is better at politics than he gives himself credit for but he’ll never be as good as Tyrion. Cersei sends Jaime to the Riverlands to take Riverrun back from Brynden Tully. On his way there he saw how desolate that part of the realm is now. It has been destroyed by the war. Outlaws roam the land along with a huge pack of wolves led by a direwolf. Jaime’s disdain of the Frey’s made me laugh, he tore some of them apart. They are a bunch of idiots and Lady Stoneheart is coming for them. Jaime seemed to feel better outside the city walls, but the outlaws may find him too, before long.

On my kill list: Littlefinger, Hyle Hunt and all the vile knights who were horrible to Brienne, Randyll Tarly, Walder Frey and all of his pathetic spawn, Olenna Tyrell, the Ironborn, The High Sparrow and his followers.

Let me protect them: Brienne, Cersei, Jaime, Arya, Sansa, the smallfolk of Westeros.

Heartbreaking death: Maester Aemon

Maester Aemon was one of the kindest and wisest characters in the whole series. He thought he was the last Targaryen in the world for years, but luckily before he died he found out about Dany and her dragons. I will miss all the knowledge he had to share, one of the things I find most incredible about him is that he could have been a king. His older brothers all died but he was already training to become a maester. He knew he wouldn’t be a good ruler so he declined and the throne went to his younger brother Aegon instead. He was never hungry for power, and he worked at the Wall to protect the whole Kingdom. And now his watch has ended.

Favourite quotes: “It was one thing to slay a lion, another to hack his paw off and leave him broken and bewildered.” – Brienne thinking about when Jaime lost his hand.

“She wanted sleet and ice, howling winds, thunder to shake the very stones of the Red Keep. She wanted a storm to match her rage.” – Cersei – this sums up Cersei’s constant rage so well, whenever I am angry this quote comes into my head.

“The women are the strong ones, truly.” – Arys Oakheart – thanks bro.

“Words are wind. They cannot hurt you. Let them wash over you.” – Brienne – this woman is so strong the amount of crap she puts up with from everyone else and still she carries on, so proud of her.

“It is being common born that is dangerous when the great lords play their game of thrones.” – Septon Meribald

The next in the series is A Dance With Dragons, George decided to split AFFC and ADWD up to focus on different characters which is why everyone at the Wall and in Essos wasn’t mentioned in AFFC. I’m probably not going to have as much fun with the first half of ADWD but I am looking forward to reading from Tyrion’s point of view again.