Daughters of the Winter Queen: Four Remarkable Sisters, the Crown of Bohemia, and the Enduring Legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots by Nancy Goldstone

Daughters of the Winter Queen: Four Remarkable Sisters, the Crown of Bohemia, and the Enduring Legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots

(Caidyn)

4/5

I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! This did not influence my opinion.

I requested this ARC because this basically lines up with Tudor history. Mary Queen of Scots was a big name during that time, so I thought it would be interesting to read about her continued line. It’s something I’m vaguely familiar with, after all.

The story really focused on her granddaughter, Elizabeth. She married the man who would later become the King of Bohemia and had a lot of kids. Like 13. That’s a whole lot of kids. Four of the ones that lived to adulthood were girls. Elizabeth, Louise Hollandine, Henriette Marie, and Sophia were her four daughters, all of them impressive in their own right. Two never married and were abbesses, one died young, and the last lived to a ripe old age and almost became the next Queen of England, her son becoming George I.

I learned a whole lot from it, as I usually say from nonfiction books. I found it fascinating, easy to follow, and fun to read. You don’t have to know much about the history of this time because Goldstone explains it as she writes. She goes into it assuming that you don’t know a whole lot, which worked for me since I didn’t know a whole lot. But I enjoyed making connections to what I knew. It was a whole lot of fun.

Something that I didn’t like, though, was how the book is supposed to be about the daughters of Elizabeth of Bohemia, also known as the Winter Queen. But most of the book focused on Elizabeth herself. From her childhood and upbringing, through to her death. After she died, it talked about the daughters and focused on them. The focus of the book lacked in that way. While I found it interesting, it focused more on people other than her daughters, which was a shame since I felt that I got an abbreviated history of their lives in the end.

That’s a minor thing, though. It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book, but it made me wonder when we would exactly get to them rather than getting context for their lives.

Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne

Seven Ages of Paris

(Caidyn)

2/5

For me, this book was a great big ball of meh. I got it from a bookstore because I thought it sounded fascinating. A historian telling me what he thinks the seven ages of Paris were and what happened during those ages? Fascinating! A social history, in a way, all focused on certain ages he noticed through his years of study.

That wasn’t this book. If anyone knows of a book like that, please hit me up. I think another reviewer said it best: This book is an aging British scholar’s love letter to Paris – and it read that way. He focused on the rulers and the politics of their reign, not the experiences of the people in Paris. Instead of a social history, it was a political history. And that made it super boring since it focused more on the various rulers rather than what the people felt.

I found it pretty boring and watered down by the opinions of an aged historian. Such as, he loved assuming the sexuality of various rulers. And he’s using a definition of homosexuality that was created in the 1800s and applying it to people who were around centuries before it was created. So, that’s a bad thing to do as a historian. You don’t apply modern terms to historical people. As an example, I wouldn’t call Joan of Arc transgender because that term wasn’t a thing back then, even though she shows some signs of it. That’s not the best example, but it’s one I could come up with. You just don’t do that as a historian. And he labeled multiple people as “homosexual” when they had relationships with women and some of them actually had kids. Yeah. He called them homosexual when they were, at best, bisexual.

Then, he had a bias against Marie Antoinette and he made so many other snide comments that I became exasperated. Great, he has an opinion, but they’re not backed up by history. And it felt like this was, as the reviewer before me put it, a love letter to Paris. It was terribly boring. Especially since Paris isn’t my favorite city in the world.

In short, I wouldn’t recommend this book. It’s readable and somewhat interesting at times, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. I should have read some reviews before I went and bought this one, but I’m glad it’s off my TBR.

Crusade and Jihad: The Thousand-Year War Between the Muslim World and the Global North by William R. Polk

Crusade and Jihad: The Thousand-Year War Between the Muslim World and the Global North

(Caidyn)

3/5

Thanks to Netgalley and Yale University Press for the advanced copy! This did not influence my opinions whatsoever.

First thing’s first. I didn’t technically finish it. I got super close to the end of part three before I decided that, right now, it was enough for me and that I had formulated my opinion very early on. I simply did not need to keep reading the book to find out more.

It’s a very dense book. I mean, it takes you from pre-Islamic history (because you have to get background on exactly why Muhammad’s message was radical) to current times. That’s a lot of history. And since Islam spread globally, that is a lot of countries, areas, and names. It’s dense. It’s difficult. It’s a journey.

And, I couldn’t get through it because I was finding myself confused. That’s not a ding on the book, per say. It’s just that you have to concentrate very hard on it to glean the information, keep names straight, and really understand what was going on. It’s not an easy book. While I wasn’t looking for one, I didn’t expect it to exactly be like this.

The writing was good. Polk assumed that you knew nothing or next to nothing. I think he had great theses and really backed them up with how many examples he gave, not to mention the depth of analysis he was able to draw from his examples.

However, this book is not for a beginner such as myself. This is a book that you should take months to read and absorb. I didn’t have that much time. So, good but a bit too much for me right now.