Book Review: Red Rose, White Rose by Joanna Hickson

red rose white rose

Title: Red Rose, White Rose
Author: Joanna Hickson
Pub Date: 4th December 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Obtained: Review Copy via NetGalley
Rating: 3/5*

Red Rose, White Rose is a historical fiction story based on Cecily Neville, the wife of Richard Plantagenet of York and mother of Edward IV and Richard III. Plantagenet history is a topic that I’m hugely passionate about, and any books, movies or TV shows about this period I’m sure to love.

Some of my favourite books about the Plantagenets are written by Philippa Gregory – namely The Cousins War series. Where Gregory excels is in bringing the Plantagenet era to life – her writing is stunning, her characters believable and the history weaved into the fiction so naturally.

My problem with Red Rose, White Rose was in the fiction element. First, let me say that the historical details were brilliant – I felt like I learnt a lot from reading this, which is always a good feeling!

The narrative is split between two first person perspectives – Cecily and her half-brother, Cuthbert. I was, unfortunately, in two minds over whether this worked or not. A lot of the action (and historical events) happened in Cecily’s chapters and there were times where I felt like Cuthbert’s chapters weren’t really necessary.

However, his chapters introduced us to some of the lesser-known figures during that time. I knew about Cecily Neville and Richard Neville (The Earl of Warwick, who features in Gregory’s The Cousins War series a lot) but the rest of the Neville family were unknown to me. The copious amounts of detail surrounding the Neville family and the family split were often quite hard to process at times, and I often had to do a quick Google search into the Neville family tree – but once I ‘got it’, I felt like I enjoyed the novel a lot more.

What I couldn’t quite get to grips with, unfortunately, was the characterisation and the writing. There were times where I often felt as if I wasn’t immersed in the plot and this effected my motivation to finish it. However, I did love the fact that it introduced me to events and historical figures that I wasn’t already aware of. An enjoyable historical read, but perhaps not one for those who aren’t familiar already with the Plantagenet’s history.

Thanks to HarperCollins for providing me with this copy for the purpose of review.


Exciting New Releases: March

Hello fellow readers! I’ve not updated this blog in about a week and a half, so I thought I’d write a really exciting post about books coming out in the next month that I’m super excited for.


Half Bad by Sally Green | 4th March | Penguin


In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his sixteenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

Super excited about this one!


Panic by Lauren Oliver | 6th March | Hodder and Stoughton


Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do. Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.
Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for. For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

Panic sounds like an awesome read. I can’t wait to read more from Lauren Oliver – if the Delirium series is anything to go by, I’m sure Panic will be just as enthralling.


The May Bride by Suzannah Dunn | 13th March | Little, Brown


I didn’t stand a chance: looking back over thirteen years, that’s what I see. In the very first instant, I was won over, and of course I was: I was fifteen and had been nowhere and done nothing, whereas Katherine was twenty-one and yellow-silk-clad and just married to the golden boy. Only a few years later, I’d be blaming myself for not having somehow seen … but seen what, really? What – really, honestly – was there to see, when she walked into Hall? She was just a girl, a lovely, light-stepping girl, smiling that smile of hers, and, back then, as giddy with goodwill as the rest of us.
When Katherine Filliol arrives at Wolf Hall as the new young bride of Jane Seymour’s older brother, Edward, Jane is irresistibly drawn to the confident older girl and they develop a close and trusting friendship, forged during a long, hot country summer. However, only two years later, the family is destroyed by Edward’s allegations of Katherine’s infidelity with his father. When Jane is also sent away, to serve Katharine of Aragon, she watches another wife being put aside, with terrible consequences.

This sounds amazing! I’m a huge historical fiction fan – it’s my favourite genre aside from YA – and the Tudors are perhaps my favourite period in history. Definitely will be picking this up!


The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner | 25th March | Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill


Summer has begun, the beach beckons and Francesca Schnell is going nowhere. Four years ago, Francesca s little brother, Simon, drowned, and Francesca s the one who should have been watching. Now Francesca is about to turn sixteen, but guilt keeps her stuck in the past. Meanwhile, her best friend, Lisette, is moving on most recently with the boy Francesca wants but can t have. At loose ends, Francesca trails her father, who may be having an affair, to the local country club. There she meets four-year-old Frankie Sky, a little boy who bears an almost eerie resemblance to Simon, and Francesca begins to wonder if it s possible Frankie could be his reincarnation. Knowing Frankie leads Francesca to places she thought she d never dare to go and it begins to seem possible to forgive herself, grow up, and even fall in love, whether or not she solves the riddle of Frankie Sky.

This sounds like such a heartbreaking contemporary read – it’s definitely going on my TBR list.


Starling by Fiona Paul | 20th March | Philomel


In the final book in the trilogy, Cass and Luca are back in Venice trying to find the Book of the Eternal Rose to clear Luca’s name and keep them both out of prison. But the hunters become the hunted when the Order of the Eternal Rose figures out their plan. Filled with twists and turns, danger and torrid romances, this novel brings the Secrets of the Eternal Rose novels to a thrilling, heart-pounding, sexy conclusion.

So so so so excited for Starling! I adore The Secrets of the Eternal Rose series – it’s one of my favourite historical series of all time. I can’t wait to find out what Fiona Paul has in store for Cass, Luca and Falco in this final book!

Are you excited for any of these titles? What will you be reading in March?