Book Review: Evening in the Palace of Reason by James Gaines

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As a musician I am often interested in reading about different musicians and composers so recently I read the book Evening in the Palace of Reason by James Gaines and loved it. This book contains essentially two biographies following Johann Sebastian Bach and Frederick the Great culminating in their famous meeting.  Continue reading

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The Ladies Guide to History: Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir 

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Eleanor of Aquitaine was and probably still considered both a villain and hero. However you see her she is recognizable as a woman who knew her own mind and made decisions to support herself and her children. At times her life felt like I was reading a Mel Brooks movie (Men in Tights anyone?) with the endless schemes of betrayal between father and sons and brother to brother.

In Eleanor’s biography by Alison Weir the author makes it clear that Eleanor was a woman whose influence was remarkable. She had influence over two kings through marriage (albeit not at the same time) the king of France Louis VII and Henry II. She also had influence over another two kings by being their mother (Richard the Lionheart and John of Robin Hood fame). Her influence was wielded during a time period when woman had no influence and where woman were sold to the highest bidder and had relatively little control over their own lives.

This biography did a good job of introducing Eleanor not as a hero or a villain but as a woman who made decisions for good or for bad. The author made it clear that Eleanor was neither a saint nor an evil seductress set upon destroying men. The men in her life certainly made their own bad decisions. The author argues that Eleanor did not kill Henry II mistress that the rumor started by rumors and an opera. However, this biography focuses very heavily on the men in Eleanor’s life. Their were several chapters where their was only a brief mention of Eleanor and while this is understandable due to he lack of resources written about her and understanding the political landscape is to understanding what was going on in the time period and in her own life, it was a bit excessive especially when the author took a whole chapter to describe Henry II and Thomas Becket’s feud.

Overall I did think that this was an interesting and insightful biography on one of England’s most powerful women. I gave this biography 3.5/5 stars. I would love to see a reality TV show based on this family. I would love to see a scene with Richard composing songs while imprisoned and taking a break from surging castles and razing land to conduct his personal chorus. Although I have to ask did these people care nothing about the serfs and peasants?

Bonus: Here is the link to the composition Richard wrote while being held prisoner

Introducing The Ladies Guide to History

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The Ladies Guide to History will be a series of book reviews on the biographies of influential and important women. In this series I will review the biographies of women throughout history as well as books about women’s daily life during a time period. Hopefully these reviews will shed some light on influential and important women throughout history. I don’t really have an order to the women or biographies that will be featured but I’m hoping to cover a wide variety of women. I should have one Ladies Guide post up per month on a different biography, the one for January should be up soon. Wish me luck on this adventure!

New Year Reading Resolutions / January TBR

Hello All and Happy New Year! 
I thought that I would share some of my reading resolutions as well as what I plan on reading in January. 


Reading Resolutions: 

  1. I want to read a total of 75 books this year! Of those 75: 
  2. 12 should be nonfiction: I hope to read at least one a month
  3. Another 12 should be classics again at least one classic a month 
  4. I will keep a monthly TBR (I won’t be strict about it but, I think it will eliminate the stress in choosing what to read next.) 
  5. I will update my TBR Jar and will choose one book a month for my monthly TBR.

January TBR:

  1. Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir (carried over from December and finished by the time of posting)
  2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  3. Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb
  4. The Children of Hurin by JRR Tolkien, Edited by Christopher Tolkien (picked from my TBR Jar)
  5. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
  6. Evening in the Palace of Reason by James R. Gaines 
  7. Here Be Dragons by Sharon K. Penman
  8. Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erickson
  9. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

These are my picks for the month and I am excited to get reading! 

Hello All…

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How sooner one tires of anything than of a book.”

Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice

This is just a quick post to introduce myself and to introduce this blog. Basically this blog will be a place to share my enthusiasm and passion about the books I read and discussing them with equally as passionate fellow readers.

What will I post? 
I will post primarily on the books I read with a sprinkling of posts on my other interests. I am a huge reader of fantasy novels so expect many reviews within the fantasy genre. However, I do read books within many other genres. Some other reviews and discussions may make there way on here including posts on music history, and podcasts. I love discussions so let me know of any topics that would make for an interesting post.