Anne Boleyn is a popular figure in Tudor historical fiction and it’s easy to see why with all the drama surrounding her. Anne’s story began as a love story for the ages only to end with her tragic execution. Anne was the commoner who seduced King Henry VIII, a king willing to break from the Catholic Church to have her. More than that, she ended up being the first queen arrested and executed in Britain, a dark ending for a queen who chose “The Most Happy” as her motto.
Anne was the second of King Henry’s six wives. Before her came Queen Katherine of Aragon who never provided the king with an heir, a huge failure for a king who needed to ensure the safety of his line. By the time Anne appeared at court, it was clear there would be no heir from Katherine. At first Henry only wanted Anne as his mistress, but she hailed from a cunning line and in the true fashion of her family, used Henry’s desire for her and an heir to become queen. Anne and Katherine became rivals for the throne and Katherine held tight to her position as queen even after Henry banished her from court. Since the Catholic Church refused to grant Henry a divorce so he could marry Anne, he broke away from the Catholic Church and made himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Continue reading
Over the weekend I read a historical that I got sucked into and couldn’t put down. Flight of the Sparrow is by Amy Belding Brown and I give it four stars out of five.
Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1676. Even before Mary Rowlandson was captured by Indians on a winter day of violence and terror, she sometimes found herself in conflict with her rigid Puritan community. Now, her home destroyed, her children lost to her, she has been sold into the service of a powerful woman tribal leader, made a pawn in the ongoing bloody struggle between English settlers and native people. Battling cold, hunger, and exhaustion, Mary witnesses harrowing brutality but also unexpected kindness. To her confused surprise, she is drawn to her captors’ open and straightforward way of life, a feeling further complicated by her attraction to a generous, protective English-speaking native known as James Printer. All her life, Mary has been taught to fear God, submit to her husband, and abhor Indians. Now, having lived on the other side of the forest, she begins to question the edicts that have guided her, torn between the life she knew and the wisdom the natives have shown her.
Based on the compelling true narrative of Mary Rowlandson, Flight of the Sparrow is an evocative tale that transports the reader to a little-known time in early America and explores the real meanings of freedom, faith, and acceptance.
I finally got around to reading Caraval by Stephani Garber and I can see why it became a bestseller. I loved the book. I had some misgivings when I first started reading, but I got hooked and didn’t want to put the book down. I loved how I couldn’t predict the book with the twists and turns thrown at me. It made for an exciting read and a breath of fresh air since I love an unpredictable book but read so few. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book and in fact hope to get one of my friends to read it.Normally I don’t pay attention when books are heralded as the next whatever one of the latest bestsellers have been, in Caraval’s case The Night Circus, but this is definitely a book that would appeal to Night Circus fans although the writing styles are vastly different. Still, they are both about a magical world hidden away in the normal world with a sprinkling of love thrown in. I found Caraval enchanting and if it were real, you’d better belief I’d be trying to get myself a ticket every year. I’d probably try to be a performer. And while there is a romance thread, I appreciated how in the end the focus was on the love between the sisters winning at the end of the day.
Why did I have misgivings at first? Well the father in this book was abusive and I’ve noticed a tendency toward terrible parents in books lately as an excuse in fantasy for characters to leave to go exploring, which was also true in Caraval’s case. However once the sisters left their island, I couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to know more about Caraval and just exactly who the mysterious sailor known as Julian was. And once the game of Caraval started, there was no way I could walk away from the book.
I find books boring when I can predict the ending, and even if I enjoy the reading an ending I predicted can at times disappoint me. On the flip side I hate when authors go with unbelievable twists in an attempt to be unpredictable. I definitely didn’t predict the way the game ended in Caraval. As soon as I thought I understood the infamous Legend and his Caraval, another twist made me feel like I knew nothing. But that didn’t frustrate me, it just made me eager to know the which truth was right. After all, you can’t trust anyone in Caraval. The twists and turns fit in with the Caraval game well and made for some mind blowing endings.
The first thing I did when I finished reading was hop online to see if there would be a sequel–and there is one! The sequel is coming May 2018 and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I’m curious to have a story from Tella’s perspective since Caraval was from Scarlett’s. I want to know more about her and if the way her sister views her as being rash is true. But more than any other character I want the chance to meet Legend and learn more about the enigmatic man.
So if you haven’t read Caraval yet, you definitely should grab a copy and dive in. But be warned by the end you might want a ticket to next year’s game.
If you have any interest in learning more about the lives of royal mistresses, then you must read “Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge” by Eleanor Herman. She also has a book called “Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics” for those who want to know more about the lovers Queens took. I found this book so fascinating that I plan to eventually read “Sex with the Queen” as well. I read this book over a few sessions to give myself time to absorb all the information. This book is well written without the dry, stuffy text that some non-fiction books suffer from.
The only historical royal mistress I could name before reading this book was Anne Boleyn, who is in fact mentioned in the book. This book taught me everything I hoped to learn and then some. It focuses on a handful of mistresses, like Madame de Pompadour who was the official chief mistress of Louis XV from 1745 to 1751. However, Lesser known mistresses are also mentioned, including a few that last a year or less along with what we know about them. But a few like Madame Pompadour are repeatedly mentioned throughout, so they are the ones that stuck with me due to how much information was known about them and how fascinating their lives and the end of their reign as mistress was. Continue reading
To start off my reading challenge, I started with “How the Irish Saved Civilization” by Thomas Cahill. My goal was to learn more about Irish history, and this book most definitely helped me accomplish that. Next time I’d like to focus on ancient Ireland and the Celts, but this book taught me a lot about Ireland leading up to the Medieval era after the fall of Rome. After reading, I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic.
I’m starting a new reading challenge next week. For those who follow me on Twitter, you know I like to write. For those who also write and are trying to get published, you know how hard and draining the process can be. Sometimes you just need to take a break and regroup. For those who work in publishing, you likely understand how hard it can be to find time to read outside of your workload. While I’m between writing projects, I decided to make a dent in my library wishlist. At this point it has something like 70 books on it and it grows every month.
One of the best ways to improve your writing outside of well, actually writing, is reading. Since I work as an editor and literary assistant, I try to read widely to get a handle on what’s hot, what’s been overdone, and what I wish would be written. I’ve also been working hard at trying to improve my own writing. As such, I’m planning to read 1-3 books a week for a minimum of a month across multiple genres outside of my work hours, which alone include at least two unpublished books a week. I like to write fantasy and historical, so there will be a lot of that included. I plan to include adult, young adult, and some historical non-fiction. Continue reading
This time I want to talk about a historical I read recently based on a real woman. The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence is a good read for those interested in 15th century Florence and the painter Botticelli. The story is about Simonetta, Botticelli’s muse and the woman who may have been his inspiration for Venus in his famous Birth of Venus painting. I couldn’t pass up the chance to read about Botticelli’s muse and a woman rumored to have been Giuliano Medici’s mistress. I’d never heard of Simonetta before and I love reading historical fiction about real people, especially well-researched stories. Plus the cover is gorgeous.
Big warning on this one: Simonetta’s story ends in tragedy. I don’t want to give spoilers, but if you only like happy endings this isn’t the book for you. However the ending added to the tragic romance aspect of the book in a way that tugged at my emotions. I appreciated that the author kept the tragedy true to life and didn’t trade it in for a happier ending. Out of everything about this book, the ending is what will stick with me. Continue reading