Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Haul #2: "History" Books

Okay, so I may have purchased more books even though I haven’t finished a single one from my book haul at the beginning of January. I’m a book junkie and have a difficult time saying no to a book fix if I’m near to a bookstore, and I happen to live 5-10 minutes from Barnes and Noble (which is also conveniently located next to a DSW shoe warehouse, but I digress…). Thanks to multiple gift cards to Barnes and Noble for my birthday and Christmas, I was more than a bit jazzed about adding new books to my collection.

There ended up being a theme to my mini book haul—history. I can’t say that I’m all that surprised since the majority of my books fall into the history or historical fiction categories anyway. I did try to branch out a little bit as far as sub-genres go though!  Do I get points for that?

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill.

“History” is in the title, so does that count?

Donna Tartt won the Pulitzer in 2014 for The Goldfinch, but I’ve heard great things about The Secret History, her debut novel. Actually, a lot of people who’ve read both Tartt books preferred this one. The Secret History has been on my radar since a former classmate said that it could easily be about my undergraduate career at Cornell. A small group of history majors and I developed a close relationship with one of our history professors, and she continues to influence us almost three years after graduation. I can’t wait to start reading this one to see if the comparison is a reasonable assessment!

Accidents of Providence by Stacia M. Brown

It is 1649. King Charles has been beheaded for treason. Amid civil war, Cromwell's army is running the country. The Levellers, a small faction of political agitators, are calling for rights to the people. And a new law targeting unwed mothers and “lewd women” presumes anyone who conceals the death of her illegitimate child is guilty of murder.

Rachel Lockyer, unmarried glove maker, and William Walwyn, Leveller hero, are locked in a secret affair. But while William is imprisoned in the Tower, a child is found buried in the woods and Rachel is arrested.

So comes an investigation, public trial, and a cast of extraordinary characters made up of ordinary Londoners: gouty investigator Thomas Bartwain, fiery Elizabeth Lilburne and her revolution-chasing husband, Huguenot glover Mary Du Gard, a lawyer for the prosecution hell-bent on making an example of Rachel, and others. Spinning within are Rachel and William, their remarkable love story, and the miracles that come to even the commonest lives.

This is my attempt at branching out in the historical fiction category. I tend to lean heavily towards three time periods—Tudor England, the Italian Renaissance, and the 19th century. The 17th century in England with the civil war going on is new territory for me. Although I won’t be relying on this for a history lesson, it could pique my interest in this time period, at least for a little while.

Sex with Kings by Eleanor Herman

Throughout the centuries, royal mistresses have been worshiped, feared, envied, and reviled. They set the fashions, encouraged the arts, and, in some cases, ruled nations. Eleanor Herman's Sex with Kings takes us into the throne rooms and bedrooms of Europe's most powerful monarchs. Alive with flamboyant characters, outrageous humor, and stirring poignancy, this glittering tale of passion and politics chronicles five hundred years of scintillating women and the kings who loved them.

I’ve already gotten through about half of this book, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I started it just a few days before Valentine’s (perfect timing) and only stopped reading it after I got slammed by reading at work. I’m eager to pick it back up again, and you’ll definitely be seeing a review sometime in March. It’s straight history but Herman writes cleverly, and her subjects—kings and their mistresses throughout history—are a colorful cast of characters. It’s almost hard to believe that they were real people!


Have you purchased any new books lately?  What's your favorite genre?

*Synopses are taken from


  1. Oooooh. I've been looking for some new books to read! I recently just finished Wild and I read another called The Wild Truth (the sister of the Into the Wild guy)...I guess I sort of see a theme lol.

    Which out of the 3 do you recommend most?

    Sophie |

    1. I'd definitely recommend THE SECRET HISTORY. It's next on my reading list, but I haven't met a single person who didn't like it when they read it!