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review 2016-03-08 06:11
Fail, Fail, Fail.
Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford - Julia Fox


Alas! Disappointment, thy name is Julia Fox!


Written amateurishly, this is not a book about Jane Boleyn.

I was so utterly disappointed, because Lady Rochford is a character of Tudor history into whose story I would have loved to sink my teeth. We know her in popular history as the spiteful, jealous wife of George Boleyn whose testimony sent her own husband, sister-in-law, and, later, the queen she served, to their deaths.

But, unfortunately, this book is not about Jane Boleyn. It does not have a firm grip on its subject. The book is 316 pages. It takes more than 100 pages before we are past the generalizations and background stories of the Tudor landscape at the time.

This could be forgiven if Fox then dove into Jane's life. Instead, the author danced around her central character. The first half of this book wasn't "Jane Boleyn," it was "The Life of Any Tudor Woman at Court." The prose is riddled with phrases of what Jane "likely would have thought," how she "must have felt," or "what she may have believed." Mistaking the historian's educated determination for vague conjecture, Fox does not tell us what documents, accounts, or other evidence reveals about Jane's life. Instead, she maddeningly and broadly describes the entire story of the six wives of Henry VIII, as though writing a light textbook. She is so determined to pack in every fact about the Tudors that she forgets that the book is supposed to be about Jane Boleyn. Instead, we are treated to a very basic retelling of English history from 1513 to the 1530s.

Jane, then, becomes a bystander. Indeed, it can be difficult to reconstruct the life of a figure about whom very little is concretely known--we don't know Jane's exact birthdate, nor much about her upbringing. Fox can be forgiven for relying on what "the average Tudor noblewoman would have done" in recounting these years of Jane's life. (It's seriously annoying, though, to be reading phrases like "Jane, like other women at the Court, likely would have felt sorry for Catherine of Aragon." How is that helpful? It doesn't distinguish Jane; it tells us nothing about her.)

But this book's apathy towards its subject becomes criminal when it discusses those moments in which Jane Boleyn played such an infamous role: her testimony against her husband and sister-in-law. What should have been a climax of the book was, instead, a whisper. In the vaguest move in the book, Fox fails to even examine what Jane said, and why she said it. Mindbogglingly, she glosses over the very incidents that make Jane Boleyn a famous historical figure.

We may not have transcripts of what Jane said; but it is the role of the historian and biographer to understand the subject and her landscape to be able to recreate, intelligently speculate, or at least offer some insight into the titular figure. There is no such insight here. We are told that Jane was likely afraid, and likely "told all she knew" about her husband and her sister-in-law. But, wait! WHAT DID SHE KNOW? What did she see? Did she make it all up? Did she lie? Fox doesn't bother even examining these questions. Of Jane's most infamous act, she spins a blurry cocoon of "well, she testified, and she must have been afraid, okay, bye."

That was incredibly odd. I kept telling myself that the story would pick up by the time Catherine Howard entered the picture. Alas, no.

The essential problem of this book is that Fox tries to tell Jane's story without Jane in it. She has dozens of quotes per page from various respected sources about what was happening at the Tudor court, but she rarely focuses these accounts on Jane. By the time Catherine Howard is being investigated for treason, we, who should be in the author's confidence, are being told after the fact that---surprise! Jane had secured meetings for Catherine and her alleged lover, Thomas Culpepper. Fox doesn't narrate this in real time: that is, she blows through the story of Catherine's reign, dropping no hints that Jane Boleyn, our main character, was playing any role whatsoever in Catherine's infidelities. Biographies are supposed to take us along for the ride with our subject. This book is a watered-down pseudo-history of the Tudors. If you are a newcomer to Tudor history, it might be a nice entry point.
But for people, like me, who wanted a pointed, focused work of historical biography on Jane Boleyn, it fails devastatingly.

The one redeeming factor to this book is its epilogue. After 300 pages of conjecture, Fox finally begins to write like a historian in tracing the Jane Boleyn's historiography--in following the way in which the myth of the mad, spiteful Lady Rochford gained traction in English history. And that is the only interesting part of the book. Learning how revisionist Elizabethan historians (no, not Shakespeare this time!) planted seeds of "the bawd Lady Rochford" and how 18th century historians villainized her into the character we know now was wonderful. If only the rest of the book had been given such treatment.

I was agog to read this, but was very disappointed. I don't know how many biographies of Jane Boleyn there are, which makes me all the more deflated.

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text 2016-02-22 02:33
"Jane Boleyn": Currently Reading...And Ranting
Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford - Julia Fox

This is making me very upset indeed.


The author is not a historian. That can be fine, but when you're dealing with biography and history, particularly history of another nation 500 years ago, you need to be a trained historian or, at least, a biographer to understand and clearly communicate the trends and threads in the subject's life.


I feel as though Julia Fox has as much of an interest in Tudor history as I do, but, literally, the first 150 pages of this (300 page) book are the most generic, social-studies-y sentences I've ever read as an adult. I'm not intending to be harsh. Phrases such as the following abound:

"The Field of the Cloth of Gold occurred in 1520. Here's what happened: [insert entire account of the Field of the Cloth of Gold]. + [Fox remembers she is writing a book about Jane Boleyn] + Per this historical event, we do not know whether Jane attended it, but she likely did because a Tudor woman at court at that time likely would have gone to the event. We also don't know if Anne Boleyn was there, but  maybe she was! And, hey, maybe the two of them met! We don't know, but maybe Jane caught a glimpse of her future sister-in-law!"


And so on.


It's really disappointing :(


I am by no means suggesting that only historians should write these kinds of books; I just don't think Fox is a good writer. She's been loosely explaining the general world of Tudor politics to me for 150 pages. It's great if you're completely unfamiliar with Tudor England, but not so great if you're looking for a specialized, pointed account of a relatively obscure figure in history (Jane Boleyn), as I was.


Also, I suspect most people interested in books like these are not newcomers to the historical atmosphere in which the events occurred. And I know it's important to understand the backdrop of Jane's life, but, for God's sake, in a biography, do not waste 100 pages talking about things that relate little or not-at-all to your subject. This needn't be a speculative "Jane may have done this because many Tudor women did". It needs to be pointed, clearly stated, and even aggressive in tackling its subject matter.


Oh, and may I add that dramatic writing has no place in such a book? As in, using fragments for dramatic effect. Case in point: (paraphrasing) "This was not good for Henry. At all." or "This made things hard. Really."


That's just not good writing.


//end rant.

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text 2015-04-06 16:05
Romance on Spring Break
Beyond Me: Sex on the Beach - Jennifer Probst
Love Overdue - Pamela Morsi
Elements of Chemistry: ATTRACTION (Hypothesis Series Book 1) - Penny Reid
Trade Me - Courtney Milan
Adrienne (A Bron Universe Novel #1) - D. Renee Bagby
Spring Fling: A New Adult Anthology - Sara Fawkes,Lauren Hawkeye,Julia Kent,Cathryn Fox
Confessions of a Demon - Susan Wright,Susan Wright
Take What You Want - Jeanette Grey
Delicious Do-Over - Debbi Rawlins
The Guy Next Door - Victoria Dahl,Lori Foster,Susan Donovan

Some of you are lucky enough to be on Spring Break. Some of you are in the the wrong hemisphere for that.  I took last week off. Woo hoo! 


Here are some great Romances that will take you on Spring Break with them.


My lists are never in any particular order. 


1. Beyond Me: Sex on the Beach by Jennifer Probst


Spring break in Key West with my besties was supposed to be casual fun. But I never expected to meet him. Sex and frolic? Yes! A relationship? No. But his hot blue eyes and confident manner drew me in. And when he let me see the man behind the mask, I fell hard, foolishly believing there could be a future for us. Of course, I never considered our relationship might be based on lies...or that his betrayal could rock my foundation and make me question everything I believed in…

The moment I saw her I knew I had to have her. She hooked me with her cool eyes and don’t-touch-me attitude. I had it all—money, social status, and looks. I could get any girl I wanted...until her. When my friends challenged me with a bet to get her into bed by the end of the week, I couldn’t pass it up. But sex wasn’t supposed to turn into love. She wasn’t supposed to change me, push me, and make me want more for myself. She wasn’t supposed to wreck me in all ways. And now, if I can’t turn my lies into truth, I just might lose her forever..


2. Love Overdue by Pamela Morsi


Meet Dorothy Jarrow: devotedly unsexy librarian 

Buttoned-up book lover DJ is all sensible shoes, drab skirts and studious glasses. After an ill-advised spring-break-fueled fling left her mortified, she's committed to her prim and proper look. When she's hired by a rural library in middle-of-nowhere Kansas, she finally has the lifestyle to match—and she can't wait to get her admin on. 


But it's clear from day one that the small-town library is more interested in circulating rumors than books. DJ has to organize her unloved library, win over oddball employees and avoid her flamboyant landlady's attempts to set her up with the town pharmacist. Especially that last part—because it turns out handsome Scott Sanderson is her old vacation fling! She is not sure whether to be relieved or offended when he doesn't seem to recognize her. But with every meeting, DJ finds herself secretly wondering what it would be like to take off her glasses, unpin her bun and reveal the inner vixen she's been hiding from everyone—including herself.


3. Elements of Chemistry Parts 1-3 by Penny Reid


Parts 1-3: Elements of Chemistry
This book has been split into 3 novels.
Part 1: ATTRACTION * Part 2: HEAT * Part 3: CAPTURE

One week.
Private beach.
Invisible girl.
Jerk-faced bully.
What’s the worst that could happen?

Kaitlyn Parker has no problem being the invisible girl, which is why she finds herself hiding in various cabinets and closets all over her college campus. Despite her best efforts, she can’t escape the notice of Martin Sandeke—bad boy, jerkface bully, and the universe’s hottest, wealthiest, and most unobtainable bachelor—who also happens to be Kaitlyn’s chemistry lab partner.

Kaitlyn might be the only girl who isn’t interested in exploiting his stunning rower’s build, chiseled features, and family's billionaire fortune. Kaitlyn wants Martin for his brain, specifically to tabulate findings of trace elements in surface water.

When Kaitlyn saves Martin from a nefarious plot, Martin uses the opportunity to push Kaitlyn out of her comfort zone: spring break, one week, house parties, bathing suits, and suntan lotion. Can she overcome her aversion to being noticed? Will he be able grow beyond his self-centered nature? Or, despite their obvious chemistry, will Martin be the one to drive Kaitlyn into the science cabinet of obscurity for good?


4. Trade Me by Courtney Milan


Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Systems. But when he makes an offhand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life.

To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations.

But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart...but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life.


5. Adrienne by D. Renee Bagby


He crossed dimensions to claim her as his queen -- but her reign may destroy his world.

Backett wants two simple little things this spring break: rest and
relaxation. After nearly four years of slaving away for her college
education, she deserves a holiday. What she gets is pulled into another
dimension by a man who claims she's his rightful queen.

King of Ulan, has until his birthday to find his bride or he must
forfeit his throne. When a spell reveals her location, he will do
anything, even cross dimensions, to claim her as his own.

As if fending off a lusty king isn't enough of a headache, Adrienne finds
herself a pawn in a rival monarch's plot to bring Malik's world to its
knees. But is the real danger being stuck in the middle of a power
struggle between rival kingdoms? Or the damage Malik could do to her


6. Delicious Do-Over by Debbi Rawlins

On the cusp of a new business venture, überpractical accountant Lindsey Shaw has reluctantly let her friends talk her into a "second spring break" in Hawaii. Now she's in Waikiki…and even reuniting with her wickedly hot one-night fling from years ago! Only Lindsey is feeling a tingle of fear—or is that sweet, sweet anticipation?

Rick Granger has his own fear—that gorgeous, smart Lindsey might discover more about him than he's ready to reveal. She thinks he's just a surfer dude—fine with him, it keeps things uncomplicated. Only, complications whip up like waves once Lindsey dips a toe in his waters….


7. Spring Fling by Julia Kent


Four tales of hot New Adult romance in New Orleans …


Party Spring Break–style with four bestselling romance authors, including Julia Kent and Sara Fawkes, as they dish out sexy tales of romance in the Big Easy!


Share Me by Julia Kent
Emma Barton has just been dumped—for being boring. Now she's letting loose and reclaiming her inner bad girl with not one, but two sexy strangers! Double the pleasure means double the fun, right?


Shake Me by Sara Fawkes
Determined to forget her cheating boyfriend, Cassidy Dupre agrees to a night out with playboy Travis Dean. But when she finds herself wanting more than she bargained for, this evening could spell desire … or disaster!


Show Me by Cathryn Fox
Eva Parker wants a lesson in seduction … from her brother's best friend. When teaching becomes tension, will they be able to keep it professional? Or will friends forever become something much hotter?


Shock Me by Lauren Hawkeye
Callie Gilmore is determined to break out of the friend zone with Ryder Hawkins. Donning a mask and making her move seems easy, but when fate throws a curveball, Callie must choose: turn and run … or embrace the night.


8. Confessions of a Demon by Susan Wright


After accidentally stealing the life force of a dying demon, Allay became the only human-demon hybrid in existence. Demons feed on human emotions, so Allay decided the safest way to satisfy this need-and still retain some semblance of her humanity-was to open a bar. Here she can drink from, and ease, her patrons' pain, which has helped her to stay under the demon radar...until now.

When Allay is attacked and nearly killed by another demon, a human comes to her rescue. Theo Ram is tall, handsome, and mortal-and Allay feels a connection to him she didn't think she'd ever know. But that bond is tested when the demon community in New York begins to rise up, and two opposing clans fight for power. Now Allay is caught in the middle, and she must decide where her loyalties lie.


9.  Take What You Want by Jeanette Grey


She needs an escape…and he’s exactly what she had in mind.


College senior Ellen Price spends every spare minute studying to get into medical school. Until spring break yawns before her, as empty as her wallet.


With no money to hit the beach, she fills her empty to-do list with a plan: for just one week, she will become the kind of take-no-prisoners woman she secretly wishes to be, starting with the hot guy at the bar. It's a no-risk situation: at the end of break, he’ll head back to his campus, and she’ll go back to hers. No muss, no fuss.


At first, Josh Markley isn’t sure what to think when the quiet, intense beauty from his pre-med classes approaches him for a night of casual sex. Even more mystifying, she doesn’t seem to return his recognition. But if she wants to play “strangers in a bar”, he’s game.

Their passionate night is a welcome respite from life’s stress, but afterward, Josh realizes he wants more—from himself, from life, from Ellen. Except she still thinks he’s a one-off she’ll never see again. Confessing the truth now—before she figures it out on her own—could shatter the fragile beginnings of just what the doctor ordered. A forever love.


10. The Guy Next Door by Lori Foster


Ready, Set, Jett by Lori Foster

A vacation from her no-strings romance with her sexy next-door neighbor. That's what Natalie Alexander needs to get her head—and heart—together. But her solo trip south turns into a disaster when gorgeous Jett Sutter turns up with another challenge.

Gail's Gone Wild by Susan Donovan

Single mom Gail Chapman insists on chaperoning her teenage daughter's spring-break trip to Key West. But she never expects to face temptation—in the hunky form of Jesse Batista, the mysterious man in the cottage next door.

Just One Taste by Victoria Dahl

All-work-and-no-play businessman Eric Donovan won't be distracted by a "businesswoman" who's all wrong for him. Beth Cantrell owns a women's erotica shop! And she has a juicy little secret. Can she tempt him to put pleasure before business for once?


Did I miss one? Let me know! Vote for the best Spring Break Romance on my Goodreads list: Romance on Spring Break.


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review 2014-06-22 00:00
Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives Of Katherine Of Aragon And Juana, Queen Of Castile
Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives Of Katherine Of Aragon And Juana, Queen Of Castile - Julia Fox I didn't like this book because it seemed to lack a focus. It was mostly written in a chronological order. However, I'm not sure what the focus was in the lives of Katherine and Juana. In the beginning, there seems to be no focus, but the book gains more of a focus as it progresses. I think it's an interesting read because it expands on two women who we've heard mentioned in school, but the way that the book explores the lives of those women is confusing.

As another Goodreads reviewer mentioned, there are sections where Fox says, "Maybe she felt this way. maybe she felt that way. We're not sure." In some paragraphs, the author completely takes back what she says previously. I know we can't be completely sure of something if it's not documented, but the way that the author writes "maybe--maybe not" frustrates me while reading. I think if the author is not sure, then he or she should mention it in passing and move on or perhaps leave it out in the first place. In the case of Katherine's virginity, which is important to the story, the "maybe--maybe not" trick is ok and even useful, but everywhere else, I think it was unnecessary.
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review 2014-03-17 00:00
Spring Fling: A New Adult Anthology
Spring Fling: A New Adult Anthology - Sara Fawkes,Lauren Hawkeye,Julia Kent,Cathryn Fox 3.5 Cocktails

This was definitely a story of girls gone wild. Authors Julia Kent, Sara Fawkes, Cathryn Fox and Lauren Hawkeye give us for different stories of Spring Break madness in New Orleans. In each story, the heroine has to learn to embrace her inner bad girl and discover that it can be fun to be a little bad, but not loose who you are.

Each story is fun and very hot, with great heroes for the heroine. Whether it's two guys in New Orleans for work who teach a girl that she's not a "fat, egotistical bitch", a girl's childhood best friend/adult enemy who shows her there's more out there than Mr. Wonderful, to a girl's brother's best friend who teaches her it's easy to love her just the way she is and finally to the brother of a girl's best friend, proving his bad boy self is just who she needs. Each hero rocks the girl's world in a matter of a few days and proves that sometimes a spring fling is just what you need.

If you're looking for something quick and fun to read, definitely pick this one up.
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