My Top 10 Books Of 2018

I’ve read a hell of a lot of books this year – and surprisingly a lot of them this year are novels! I’ve been on a bit of a fiction kick this year and it’s actually been wonderful – a nice break, as it were, from the heavy non fiction books that come with research. That’s not to say that I haven’t been reading non fiction, because of course I have. So my top ten books of 2018 are going to be a bit of a mix!

10. The Flames Of Florence by Donna Russo Morin


This wonderful novel is set during the reign of Savonarola in Florence, and let me tell you….it’s bloody brilliant! Russo’s writing style makes this book so easy to read and you can really tell that she’s put her research in. Highly recommended.

9. Forsaking All Others by Catherine Meyrick


If you love historical romance novels then this is a book for you. Romance novels aren’t normally something that I would read, let alone enjoy, but this book really is a diamond in the rough and it’s one that kept me up seriously late in order to finish it. Wonderful writing and brilliant characters – a joy to read!

8. The Tigress of Forli by Elizabeth Lev



This book. Oh my God. This book. Lev’s biography of Caterina Sforza has become my bible on this remarkable woman. If you want to know about the life of one of the Renaissance’s most powerful and courageous women then I HIGHLY recommend this book.

7. The Private Lives of the Saints by Dr. Janina Ramirez


I’m a huge fan of Dr. Ramirez’ work and this book is just brilliant. It’s scholarly, yet easy to read and chock full of wonderful information on a group of people from history who don’t seem to have had all that much work done on them.

6. The White King by Leanda de Lisle

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The Stuart’s are another fascination of mine and a very close second to the Borgia family. So when I received this book on Christmas morning last year I was VERY excited, and it was cracked open literally that day. This book is absolutely wonderful. Lisle has really done her research and put together and excellent biography of King Charles I that gives the reader a balanced view of a man so often tarred with the name of traitor. Definitely check this book out!

5. The House of Beaufort by Nathen Amin


This is a book that everyone needs to read as it delves into the beginnings of a family who went on to found one of the biggest royal dynasties in history. It’s wonderfully researched and is another book that is an absolute joy to read. If you’re interested in knowing more about where the Tudors come from then definitely check out this book!

4. Riddle of the Runes by Janina Ramirez


Riddle of the Runes is Dr. Janina Ramiez’ first foray into the world of fiction. It’s a children’s book but let me tell you….I absolutely devoured this tale of mystery in the Viking world. And I cannot WAIT for the next instalment. Highly recommended for both young and old alike!

3. How to Ruin a Queen by Jonathan Beckman


Marie Antoinette is another woman in history who absolutely fascinates me and I will quite happily devour anything about her reign and the awful Revolution that ended up taking her life. This book is a wonderful account of a scandal that only helped to bring about her downfall. This truly is a fascinating account of a scam that blackened Marie Antoinette’s name and the book is full to bursting with information on pre-Revolutionary France. Highly recommended and one I will definitely be re-reading!

2. The Colour of Murder by Toni Mount


This book has to be my favourite novel of 2018. Toni Mount’s books are always absolutely brilliant but this book? This book has set the bar even HIGHER. The fifth installment of the Sebastian Foxley tales is a story set once again in Medieval London with murder and intrigue blighting the lives of our hero and his family. Mount weaves history with fiction seamlessly, bringing to life the streets of Medieval London and the lives of its inhabitants. A novel that is electric and emotionally charged – everyone needs to read this book, and the entire series!

1. The Colour of Time by Dan Jones & Marina Amaral


My book of 2018 has to be The Colour of Time by Dan Jones & Marina Amaral. This book is chock full of re-coloured photographs and information on some of the most important moments in history 1850-1960. The work put into doing those photographs is insane and I have so much respect for Marina Amaral for taking on such a task. Those photographs, added in with Dan Jones’ text on the history of what is shown in the photos, make a book that everyone should read. Literally, everyone. It’s a book that will end up pulling people into history and that will spark an interest in it and that? That is brilliant. 

The Best Borgia Novels

I’ve been on a bit of a fiction kick lately – mainly because I needed a bit of a break from the heavy non fiction that I’ve been looking at whilst researching for my current work in progress. It’s not been all Borgia/Renaissance novels either – I recently finished a wonderful book set mainly in 1940’s England, a tale told by an elderly woman who once worked as a servant in a large country house and I’m currently reading a murder mystery set during the Great Plague of 1665. However, as I was sat in bed last night I had a thought – I’ve read a lot of novels set around the time of the Borgia family, some of them excellent and some of them utter tripe, so why not do a blog post in and around the best of them. So here we are! Below are the best (in my opinion) novels set during Renaissance Italy and the time of the Borgia family.

The Borgia Chronicles – Kate Quinn

Kate Quinn’s Borgia Chronicles is made up of two novels, both with Giulia ‘La Bella’ Farnese as the main character and heroine. In these novels we read of Giulia’s journey from mistress to Pope Alexander VI, to an independent woman in her own right. We also have the stories of Leonello, a dwarf who is pulled into the service of the ruthless Cesare Borgia, and Carmelina, a young cook who has run away from her family in Venice. These books have been meticulously researched, winding fiction in with fact in a fast paced manner that truly draws you in from the first word you read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading both of these and highly recommend the both of them.

The Borgias: Two Novels in One Volume (Madonna of the Seven Hills & Light on Lucrezia) by Jean Plaidy


The Borgias – made up of “Madonna of the Seven Hills” and “Light on Lucrezia” – was the first ever Borgia novel that I read. Originally published in the 1950’s, these two novels tell the story of Lucrezia Borgia and, looking back on it now, I’m actually surprised that Plaidy doesn’t use the myth of incest and make out that it’s true. The novels are exceptionally well researched and wonderfully written. I would say that this book (or the two separately) are the perfect read for someone new to reading Borgia fiction – it’s a great, perfectly and easily readable, stepping stone.

Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant


Where should I begin with this utter joy of a novel? Sarah Dunant’s Blood & Beauty tells the story of the Borgias from the beginning of Cesare and Lucrezia’s lives. Dunant has really put in her research for this book and damn, you can tell. This has to be the most historically accurate Borgia novel I have ever read – and it’s my absolute favourite.

In the Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant


In the Name of the Family is the sequel to Sarah Dunant’s “Blood & Beauty” – Dunant set the bar seriously high with her previous Borgia novel and, dare I say it, she has surpassed herself in this excellent work. This novel tells the story of Cesare and Lucrezia’s later lives and involves characters such as Niccolo Machiavelli, who witnessed Cesare’s rise to Prince of the Romagna. There are some incredibly sad moments in this novel – death stalks the characters and, if you know the history, it will truly bring tears to your eyes. This is another brilliantly researched piece of work and it truly makes you feel as if you are there, in Renaissance Italy, with these truly interesting people.