Friday, April 1, 2016

RYOB Challenge 2016: March Update

The first of April is upon us and it's really amazing how another month of 2016 has gone by so fast. Anyway, in February I talked about the Read Your Own Book Challenge (read all about it here) and, as promised, I will be giving an update on the books I've crossed off my list.

Sadly, I've only gone through two books the whole month of March. I've had a couple of sick days and I've been reading through my e-reader a LOT since most of the time I've devoted for reading were at night (in bed, before sleeping), hence ebooks are much more sensible to read (in night mode, with the Wi-Fi turned off, of course). Of course I only included books that I physically have in the challenge, so reading ebooks didn't help me with my list.

So, now, I'd like to talk about the two books I did cross off. First, I read Philippa Gregory's "The Lady of the Rivers", a novel from the Cousins' War series. I got my copy second-hand from Booksale for PhP. 100, though after reading this, I think I'm gonna be collecting hard-bound books of hers (so if you ever have a spare hard-bound copy or know of someone who's selling theirs, please do contact me!). I think the fact that I'm into history is why I love Gregory's books (I know, I know, I'm a geek) and I'm really interested in the War of the Roses, there's something in these stories that simply amaze me and reading Gregory's books can be compared to today's Fan Fictions on celebrities (I don't know what Fan-girling over a war says about me but, WTH).

"A story rich in passion and legend, The Lady of the Rivers is the story of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, a woman who navigated a treacherous path through the battle lines in the Wars of the Roses.

When Jacquetta is married to the Duke ofBedfors, English regent of France, he introduces her to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. her only friend in the great household is the duke's squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the duke's death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two becaome lovers and marry in secret, returning in England to serve at the court of young King Henry IV, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen.

The Woodvilles soon achieve a place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta can sense the growing threat from the people of England and the danger of their royal York rivals. As Jacquetta fights for her king and her queen, she can see an extraordinary and unexpected future for her daughter Elizabeth: a change of fortune, the throne of England, and the white rose of York...."

I definitely enjoyed this book and, in my opinion, Gregory's writing is simply superb. Reading this book kept me on my toes - having to put down the book and research characters that kept turning up, I love knowing the story behind each character, good thing Gregory's website is informative, so my research was quick and easy. I've read a few of Gregory's books: The Red Queen, The White Queen, and The Other Boleyn Girl and, like I've said earlier, I've been thinking of collecting her books. I quite like that she writes books on women's history though I'm no feminist, it's just unusual to be writing from a woman's point of view AND about women in history since we lived in a patriarchal world. Sometimes though, Gregory's books could be a little too heavy for me, so I stay away from her books whenever I'm stressed.

Second book I've crossed off in my list was Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons". Dan Brown's works were quite controversial in the Catholic world and there was even an instance where his books were burned in public by devotees here in the Philippines. His work, "Inferno" cited Manila as one of the "gates of hell." Before I move on to my take on "Angels and Demons" though, I would just like to say that I am a Roman Catholic and have been since birth (or since my baptism, which was two months after my birthday). I have my beliefs and I do respect others on their own. For me, although Dan Brown's books are based on real stuff (history, technology, and all that), they are and always will be a work of fiction. I love the mystery, I love the action, I love the adventure and reading his works won't ever turn me Satanic (though, really, the Illuminati are NOT Satanists, rather, "the Enlightened Ones"). Moving on, I did like the fast-paced story of "Angels and Demons", and like Gregory, Brown's work are based on historical facts. Brown's work made me want to go to Rome so, so bad. Although, Rome already is in my list of places to go to, he gave me an idea on which places to visit and I know once I've been given the opportunity, I'd make my visit an educational one (nerd alert!).

"When a world renowned scientist is found brutally murdered, a Harvard professor, Robert Langdon, is summoned to identify the mysterious symbol seared onto the dead man's chest. His conclusion: it is the work of the Illuminati, a secret brotherhood presumed extinct for nearly four hundred years - now reborn to continue their bitter vendetta against their sworn enemy, the Catholic church.

In Rome, the college of cardinals assembles to elect a new pope. Yet somewhere within the walls of the Vatican, an unstoppable bomb of terrifying power relentlessly counts down to oblivion. While the minutes tick away, Langdon joins forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and mysterious Italian scientist, to decipher the labyrinthine trail of ancient symbols that snakes across Rome to the long-forgotten Illuminati lair - a secret refuge wherein lies the only hope for the Vatican.

But, with each revelation comes another twist, another turn in the plot, which leaves Langdon and Vetra reeling and at the mercy of a seemingly invincible enemy..."

I have to admit, there were parts of the book that were particularly too good to be true, but whenever I come across these parts, I simply remind myself that the characters where the best in their respective fields, and so I go on reading peacefully. "Angels and Demons" was action-packed and I had to admit, there were plot twists that really surprised me (which was saying something since I'm usually the kind of person who watches a movie and knows who the real villain is). The only other work of Dan Brown's that I've read before was "Deception Point" and though I quite like his writing style, I wouldn't read his works consecutively so as not to get overwhelmed. Like "The Lady of the Rivers", I got my copy of "Angels and Demons" at Booksale for PhP.125, and I'm also looking for a hardbound copy of this (already have those of The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol, and looking forward to completing the series).

There goes my March RYOB Challenge update. I just noticed that both are historical fiction, a genre that I really love, so if you have suggestions for other books in the same genre, do comment them below. Follow me on Goodreads and Instagram for more updates!

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