Mini Book Reviews - June.

Welcome to the first of my new monthly post topic, Mini Book Reviews, were I am will take a quick look at the books I have read over the last month.

June's books were a mixture of topics, with a book that has shot up in my favourite books ever list.

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner tells the story of Amir and his friend Hassan growing up in Afghanistan in the 1970s and the tragic consequences following a kite-fighting competition they take part in. Although the Russian invasion forces Amir to leave Afghanistan to start a new life in the United States, the events of his childhood never really go away and years later, he returns to his home country following the rise of the Taliban in the hope of finding redemption.

It is a beautifully written book, full of tragedy & heartbreak and redemption. Hosseini's story-telling helps the reader to build a vivid and colourful picture of Amir's world.

While I thoroughly enjoyed The Kite Runner, I found it has left a profound sadness behind. The descriptions of a, seemingly, permanently war torn Afghanistan are deeply moving, and I found it quite hard to like the main character, Amir. 

The King's Curse, Philippa Gregory

I am a huge fan of Phillippa Gregory and the Tudor period in general, so The King's Curse was an exciting read for me.

The King's Curse tells the story of Margaret Pole, the ill fated cousin of King Henry VIII's mother Elizabeth of York.

Caught in the Cousin's War, or as it is now known, The War of the Roses, Margaret was the daughter of George Duke of Clarence, brother to the King, and granddaughter of Warwick "the Kingmaker". 

Margaret and her brother are in line to the throne and seen as rivals by the victorious Henry Tudor, later King Henry VII.

Margaret's brother is imprisoned and eventually beheaded to prove to the Spanish Royal family that there is no threat to their daughter, Princess Catherine of Aragon, becoming the wife to Henry and Elizabeth's eldest son, Arthur the Prince of Wales. Margaret is married off to an unimportant knight, thereby lower her social standing.

Despite Catherine of Aragon's arrival was due to the result of her brother's death, Margaret aligns herself with the princess becoming both friend and confidant. Margaret makes a powerful enemy of Henry VIII's mother, the formidable Margaret Beaufort, when she says that Catherine's marriage to Arthur was not consummated.

Gregory charts Margaret's story from her lowest point following her husband's death, to her rise under the new monarch, King Henry VIII.

Gregory has a unique and beautiful way of bringing Tudor England alive. I really liked this book, and learning of Margaret Pole, and the extroinary life she led.

Margaret was a survivor, a thorny rose in the history of England. Someone who tried to grow under catastrophic circumstances. Gregory creates a real sense of the time, the fear of disease, the horrors of childbirth, a woman's helpless role in society.

The King's Curse was a curse supposedly made by Elizabeth of York, in retaliation for the deaths of her brothers, the princes in the tower. Ultimately, the curse led to the downfall of her own house. 

Everyone Brave is Forgiven, Chris Cleave

This is such a fantastic book, although filled with sadness, horror and heartbreak.

Mary is from a wealthy family, the daughter of an MP, who leaves finishing school early due to the pull of duty to help in the war effort. After signing up at the War Office, she is assigned to be teacher to children who have become rejected by the those in the countryside following the evacuations of London.

Mary soon meets Tom and the two start a love affair, meanwhile Tom’s best friend Alistair, an art restorer at the Tate, enlists into The Army. When Mary meets Alistair for the first time, through introduction by Tom, sparks fly and begins a tragic and emotional love story, set to the backdrop of the war, which is raging throughout London.

For Alistair he soon finds himself trapped in the siege of Malta. At the end of the book, we learn that the author’s grandfather served in the siege of Malta, a particularly harsh period during WW2.

The amount of detail is thanks to the immense research undertaken by Cleave. He describes the horror of war vividly.
This has become one of my top two books of 2016 and will be very hard to beat an incredible absorbing story that is both brutal and also incredibly humorous at times.
It is a book that left me feeling that I was leaving new friends behind, never to hear from again, but who I needed to know more about.