Autumn TBR

Autumn is here and although is’t not my favorite season and I’m already missing summer, I still think it’s better than winter. Long nature walks, board game nights with friends and of course some reading under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate.

I might be late to the party but I decided to make an autumn TBR as I don’t have specific reading plans yet and this post can help me pick up a next book. According to Goodreads I only need to read six books by the end of the year to finish my reading challenge of 35, but I hope to finish above that number.

Books I hope to grab in the library:
It’s always a guess which books I can borrow from the library, so mostly my list is a lot bigger than I know I will be able to read.

As I won’t make it to the library as much as in non covid times and I need to choose from what is available then, I’ll probably also bring home other books not mentioned above.

Kindle books on the shelf

I still have three interesting books to go on my Kindle, maybe this autumn?

Netgalley books

In the meantime, I’ve been approved for some really interesting Netgalley books, most of them with a publication date in December, so I will read them this autumn.

From my own bookshelves

Sometimes I forget I also have some physical books to read from my favorite authors :D. I have selected two that might be my next read.

  • Queen of the north by Anne O’ Brien – I loved ‘the shadow queen’ by Anne O’Brien a lot. So I’ve decided I want to read all of her books. This story about Elizabeth Mortimer is set during a rebellion under king Richard II’s reign.
  • First of the Tudors by Joanna Hickson – I’m lagging behind in reading Hickson’s books. She’s in the middle of some books set at the beginning of the Tudor reign. First of the Tudors is about Jasper Tudor, Henry’s VI uncle who helped him win the throne.

I know I won’t be able to read all these books this autumn, and I might even pick up some that aren’t on this list. But it’s always nice to have some inspiration when choosing my next read.

What will you be reading this autumn?

Top ten Tuesday: covers with dresses

Today’s top ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl is a cover freebie. Historical fiction is a really recognizable genre in terms of their cover art. Especially when you look at novels about historical/royal figures. They look all the same. Showing a women in a fancy dress. Mostly the women is recognizable as she is looking straight at you. But this is not always the case.

Today I want to show you ten specific covers from my (to be) read list where a dress is the key element on the cover. So a cover with no head or clear face, but just a dress.

  1. Empress of the night by Eva Stachniak

2. The wardrobe mistress by Meghan Masterson

3. Four sisters, all queens by Sherry Jones

4. Milady by Laura L. Sullivan

4. The queen’s Mary by Sarah Gristwood

5. Queen Elizabeth’s daughter by Anne Clinard Barnhill

6. The Royal Physician’s Visit by Per Olov Enquist (Dutch cover)

7. The queen’s vow by C.W. Gortner

8. The queen’s fool by Philippa Gregory

9. The forgotten queen by D.L. Bogdan

10. Queen of silks by Vanora Bennett

Which one is your favorite?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Should be Adapted into a Netflix series

This is my first top ten Tuesday and I’m so excited! I’m new to all the challenges in the book blog community. But I was already familiar with this one and I decided to join. TTT is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and every Tuesday there’s a new topic to list ten books.

Today’s topic: Books that Should be Adapted into Netflix Shows/Movies.

My relationship with book adaptations is quite complex. I don’t like movies based on a book, because a movie is so limited in time and needs to leave out so many details from the book. The book is always better than the movie.

But with a series, it is sometimes different. I also discovered some of my favorite book series via an adaptation (such as Outlander, The last kingdom and Poldark). So I’m focusing here on which books I would like to see as a (Netflix) series.

1. The Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden

I finished the last book ‘the winter of the witch‘ a few months ago and my review on Goodreads said that this should be a Netflix series. It’s just a wonderful coming-of-age story in an original setting (medieval Russia). With both historical and fantasy elements. I think it would appeal to a broad audience.

2. Elizabeth Chadwick’s trilogy about Eleanor Of Aquitaine

If there’s one medieval queen whose story is interesting enough to deserve her own series, it’s definitely Eleanor Of Aquitaine. The books of Elizabeth Chadwick, starting with The summer queen, will provide a lot of material to start from.

3. All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr

And I have some good news for you! Netflix is at the moment working on a mini series based on this book. The book will always be better. But this original story about two innocent children finding their way in times of war will make a good series.

4. The poison bed by E.C. Fremantle

Move over Gone girl, this historical thriller will surprise you even more. I really need to write a review about this book, as I loved it.

5. How to stop time by Matt Haig

I didn’t love this book, partly because of the romance that dominated the story, but also because the whole secret organisation thing just couldn’t catch my attention. With all the flashbacks and flashforwards, I believe this story would work better on TV.

6. The song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Thanks to this book, we could have a sexy LGTB+ series in ancient Greece. A doomed war, heroes and villains, romance, and a mythological setting. The story has it all and it could bring the Iliad alive to a whole new generation.

7. Dissolution (and the following books) by S.J. Sansom

Move over Comoran Strike or Sherlock Holmes, the new star detective is called Matthew Shardlake. I would love to see this series come alive on the big screen.

8. The watchmaker of Filligree street by Natasha Pulley

I love a peculiar story once in a while. And especially on TV. The watchmaker of Filligree street would bring us to Victorian London and Japan. I just discovered there’s a prequel that I didn’t read yet.

9. The convert by Stefan Hertmans

A Belgian book about a young girl in the 11th century who converts herself to the Jewish faith. It’s a dramatic story that is still really relevant today in the light of the refugees crisis in Europe.

10. A gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

I didn’t love the book and I believe it would work better on TV. By bringing the hotel to life and including more material and backstory about Russian history.

So this is my list 🙂 Which series would you like to see?

Historical novels set in a monastery

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite settings of a historical novel: a monastery. I’m no religious person whatsoever, but I find it really interesting to read about life in religious houses. I don’t know exactly what attracts me to this setting. I believe the fact that inhabitants are isolated from the rest of the world and limited to a certain amount of space contributes to the story, especially when a mystery is involved. The killer needs to be someone from inside—making it all the more exciting. Do you get me?

Also the role that monasteries played during the reformation and especially the dissolution by the likes of Thomas Cromwell is a topic that I have read about a few times. It gives a nice insight in why people would want to live a solitary and contemplated life. Religion was (and still is for some people) an important aspect of everyday life. Most people took their vows willingly, or went to a convent or abbey to repent for their sins, or to seek sanctuary.

Here’s my list of books that I’ve read where a monastery or religious life is involved and plays a key part in the novel.

The name of the rose by Umberto Eco

Probably the most famous novel of the list. It tells the story of Brother William of Baskerville who, together with the novice Adso, arrives at an Italian monastery for a religious debate. But a monk was murdered and William and Adso are charged to find the murderer before the delegates of the pope arrive.

I do want to include this book, but I need to say that I didn’t like reading it at all. I didn’t understand the whole religious conflict thing. The murder mystery was what kept me reading, but I was as lost in the story as William and Adso were in the monastery’s mysterious library.

I gave the story a second chance by watching the excellent Italian mini series (also named The name of the rose). I did enjoy it a lot but I didn’t recognize anything from the book :D. So, I do recommend to give this book a try, as so many love it. But I won’t reread it.

Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake #1) by S.J. Sansom

We move on to what might be my favorite story of this list. One of Thomas Cromwell’s men is murdered at the monastery of Scarnsea. Lawyer Matthew Shardlake is sent to catch the murderer.

This is the start of a historical mystery series about Shardlake during the Tudor era. I’m quite new to this genre of historical novels, but I love this series and I love Matthew. The murder mystery is quite good, although I found out halfway who the killer was, there were still a lot of elements that surprised me.

The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

Joanna Stafford is a novice in the monastery of Dartford. During the dissolution of the monasteries, she get’s involved in the quest for an ancient relic on behalf of bishop Stephen Gardiner.

What I liked about this book is the fact that you get an insight in how a monastery reacted to the dissolution by Cromwell. You feel their fears and doubts. What I didn’t like was the search for the relic, this gave the story some kind of Dan Brown vibe (and coming from me, I don’t mean that as a compliment). Also the flashback to Joanna’s previous court life didn’t contribute to the story, I would have liked to just stay between the walls of the monastery. I still don’t know if I want to read the second book in the series. Is it getting better?

Sacred hearts by Sarah Dunant

This story is set in 15th century Italy in the convent of Santa Catherina. In that time a lot of noble girls where forced to enter a convent for the sake of their family. And not all of them go willingly. We meet young novice Serafina who is such a girl. With the help of Suora Zuana, the convent’s apothecary, she starts to feel at home a bit.

This is a different story, no murder mystery, but a novel about love and friendship during challenging times. Every nun has its own story and burdens to bare. I enjoyed this book a lot and I definitely want to reread it.

The pillars of the earth by Ken Folett

Everyone will know this book and yes, it’s not only set within a monastery. It’s an epic medieval tale set during the Anarchy in England. But thanks to prior Philip, you get an insight in the workings of an abbey and how a new prior could get selected and the power that it gave him.

Also the building and funding of the new church is an important topic and convinced me to add this must-read novel on this list.

Have you read any of these? Do you know of any other good story about a monastery, convent or abbey? I’m happy to add it to my list!