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review 2017-07-13 21:43
A Different Journey: Mary Tudor by Lassie Gaffney
A Different Journey - Mary Tudor - Lassie Gaffney

The premise of this book drew me in. Anyone who knows me knows that I would love to have seen a happier ending for Mary Tudor (Henry VIII's daughter, not his sister). In this novel, the author attempts to rewrite history with Mary becoming a young wife and mother but never queen. And that is when the problems started.

 

The idea that Catherine of Aragon and her daughter would each decide to forgo Mary's birthright in order to keep Henry content starts this story off on the wrong foot for me. After all, in reality, the were both willing to sacrifice almost anything to ensure that Mary's (and Catherine's) position was recognized. This is just the first of many implausible changes in historical events and people that occurs. I understand that this is an alternate history. That's why I picked it up, but to be enjoyable it still needs to make sense based on what we know of the real people and events.

 

I could have accepted the historical changes if the novel was at least entertaining, but it is written almost entirely in stilted dialogue. It is tricky to write dialogue that comes across as realistic but without the ordinary level of repetition. The dialogue in this book not only doesn't sound like what people would actually say ('That's a shame' when a close family member dies, for example), but the reader is forced to endure things being repeated for the benefit of different characters.

 

The whole thing just reads like a first draft. There's potential here. I LOVE the idea of Mary being married to Reginald Pole, whether she became queen or not, but this needs more editing and polishing to make it a great story.

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review 2017-06-14 05:10
Living through footnotes...
Queen of Martyrs - Samantha Wilcoxson

Bloody Mary... First Queen of England... Daughter of Henry VIII... Disinherited... Unloved and Alone.. These are just a few of the thoughts that come to mind when one thinks of Mary Tudor..

 

Mary Tudor has long been vilified in the eyes of history. Condemned for her harsh treatment of perceived heretics in her kingdom, the first queen of England was hiding the longing that was inside of her.
As a child, she was the apple of her father's eye, loved and cherished. Then came the nasty business of the "other woman" and the loss of Mary's mother. With queen Catherine removed from court, and the process of a divorce moving forward, Mary became lost in limbo. Losing her status as princess, and forced to serve in the household of her new half-sister, she throws herself deeper into her faith. All she wanted was her fathers affection, but that was only given sparingly. As she matured into adulthood, she began to hope for love and a family of her own. Her hopes her dashed as time keeps moving forward and no move is made to procure a marriage for her. When her father finally dies, and her brother comes to the throne, she does her best to be there for him, but the changing climate in religion forces her to move away from court.
Throughout her brothers reign, the warnings about her faith are given, but she continues regardless of what they say. But when her brother finally puts his food down, she realizes that he is growing up, and will soon be his own counselor. But the foundation of her faith is the only thing that keeps her going. Her house continues to practice Catholicism, regardless of the tenor from the courts. But after her brothers death and the young Lady Jane is proclaimed queen, Mary moves forward with her own claim for the throne. With the country behind her, she is swept into London, and proclaimed queen. Her countrymen have become her children, and she pours her love into her kingdom. With marriage coming into the picture, she can hope for happiness, but again she is disappointed. Philip fulfills what he must for the marriage, but no more. Mary pours herself into her marriage, only to have her heart broken continually. With the support of her cousin, the Cardinal Pole, she pushes forward with her reforms and her punishments, but slowly she is losing the love of her land. With no heir, she is forced to name her sister, who has not converted to the Catholic faith.
With the death of Mary comes the death of the hopes of returning England to the fold of the church of Rome, and ushers in a new era.

The story of Mary is one that is both heartbreaking and horrifying. All she wanted was love, the love of a father figure who was never there for her. The upheavals of her life must have seriously marked the young lady. Six queens, six mother figures, only two that were ever really there for her. Friendships which were lost through deaths, and the sad life of a woman who only wanted someone to confide in. With her husband not really caring for her and anxiously looking for any reason to leave, the queen is left with no one to really turn to for support. Her loyal ladies and the few supporters she has, are not ones that can be trusted with the pains of her heart.
I loved this story, and the breath of fresh air that has turned a history deemed monster back into a human being. Mary Tudor has become one of the most underrated and misunderstood women in royal England. The sad life of this woman has been summed up in very few books, very little has been kind to her. In a life that was never bright to a wearied woman, history was not compassionate in remembering her either. I do not think she was innocent in everything, I regard her as responsible for the deaths of those who were burned for their faith, but I also believe that she was zealous in her beliefs, and could not understand why everyone else could not entrench themselves in their religion as she did. Samantha Wilcoxson has done a wonderful job of bringing this sad queen back from the depths of history, and pushing her once more into the limelight. This books brings some well deserved justice for the queen who only wanted prosperity and happiness for her realm, not dejection and rejection at every turn in life.

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text 2016-08-01 14:05
July Reading Roundup
The Colour of Poison: A Sebastian Foxley Medieval Mystery (Volume 1) - Toni Mount
The Imp of Eye (Renaissance Sojourner Series Book 1) - Kristin Gleeson,Moonyeen Blakey
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania - Erik Larson
Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen - Anna Whitelock
The Tudor Kings & Queens - Alex Woolf
Fires of Faith: Catholic England Under Mary Tudor - Eamon Duffy
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
The Errant Flock (The Flock Series Book 1) - Jana Petken
Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen - Alison Weir

I was also hoping to be done with Jasper by Tony Riches by the end of the month but didn't quite get there. This month had it's share of hits and misses & they are listed above in my approximate ranking from best - Colour of Poison - to worst - Katherine of Aragon: True Queen. Interestingly, these are both novels written by women who are better known for their historical nonfiction.

 

Audiobooks:

Dead Wake

Katherine of Aragon: True Queen

 

Indie Authors:

Imp of Eye

Errant Flock

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text 2016-07-26 22:15
Summer Splurges (AKA: Be Good to Yourself)
The Colour of Poison: A Sebastian Foxley Medieval Mystery (Volume 1) - Toni Mount
Wars of the Roses - Charles Ross
Last White Rose: The Secret Wars of the Tudors - Desmond Seward
Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses - Sarah Gristwood
Mary Tudor: The First Queen - Linda Porter
Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen - Anna Whitelock
The Sugar Planter's Daughter - Sharon Maas
The Princes of Ireland - Edward Rutherfurd
The Rebels of Ireland - Edward Rutherfurd
The Chronicles of Narnia CD Box Set: The Chronicles of Narnia CD Box Set - C.S. Lewis,Kenneth Branagh

Largely inspired by Carpe Librum (Samantha Wilcoxson)'s recommendations following up on my read of her books Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen and Faithful Traitor – as well as looking forward to book 3 of her Tudor Women trilogy – I've been on a minor shopping spree lately. Not all of these are Samantha's recommendations, but that's the way book browsing goes ... one thing leads to another!

 

* Toni Mount: The Colour of Poison – actually ordered already before my exchange with Samantha on which books she recommends in connection with her own novels, though another recommendation of hers, too; what a pity I probably won't be receiving it before the end of its "book of the month" status in More Historical Than Fiction.

* Charles Ross: The Wars of the Roses – though I've already got Trevor Royle's book on the same subject, but it can't hurt to get another one just for comparison's sake;

* Desmond Seward: The Last White Rose – since, after all, the Yorks didn't just die out all at once together with Richard III at Bosworth in 1485;

* Sarah Gristwood: Blood Sisters, The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses – since women played an important part during that period and it's time we finally took note of them ... and not just Margaret of Anjou, either (which is why Samantha's books on Elizabeth of York and Margaret Pole are such a welcome read);

* Linda Porter: Mary Tudor, The First Queen – since there's more to Mary I than is hidden behind her epithet "Bloody Mary";

* Anna Whitelock: Mary Tudor, Princess, Bastard, Queen – ditto (and two books are always better than one, see above)

 

... and while I was at it, I also did a bit of wish list cleanup, ordering:

 

* Sharon Maas: The Sugar Planter's Daughter (book 2 of her Winnie Cox trilogy; fresh from the publisher's press);

* Edward Rutherfurd: The Princes of Ireland and The Rebels of Ireland;

* David Suchet: Poirot and Me (since my reviews of some of the Poirot dramatizations starring Suchet are up next for copying over to my Wordpress blog)

... and then I also found a dirt cheap (used, but near new) offer of the Chronicles of Narnia audiobook set read by Derek Jacobi, Kenneth Branagh, Patrick Stewart, Michael York, Alex Jennings, Lynn Redgrave and Jeremy Northam – which I of course had to have as well.

 

And look, the first lovely books already made it to their new home, too:

 

 

But anyway, I obviously also needed to make space on my wish list for all the other books I found when following up on Samantha's recommendations:

 

* Lisa Hilton: Queens Consort, England's Medieval Queens (which I hope is going to live up to Helen Castor's She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth I);

* Dan Jones: The Hollow Crown (since I've already got his earlier book on the Plantagenets ...);

* Charles Ross: Richard III (by all accounts still the standard biography);

* Chris Skidmore: Richard III (the most recent incarnation of Richard III biographies);

* Amy Licence: Richard III, the Road to Leicester (I guess there goes my resolution not to give in to the publicity craze of the recent[ish] discovery of his bones);

* Amy Licence: Elizabeth of York, Forgotten Tudor Queen (and really, I swear it was this book and the RIII bio by Charles Ross that led me to Licence's book on RIII in the first place);

* Alison Weir: Elizabeth of York, the First Tudor Queen (one of Samantha's major "go-to" books for background information on Elizabeth; also, I own and rather like Weir's bio of Eleanor of Aquitaine);

* Hazel Pierce: Margaret Pole, 1473-1541, Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership (on which Samantha says she relied substantially in writing Faithful Traitor) and

* Susan Higginbotham: Margaret Pole (brand new and due out in August 2016).

 

And then ... well, there's this absolutely gorgeous and super-nice tea and spice store in Frankfurt that my best friend and I discovered when I was living in Frankfurt way back in 2003.  Shelves crammed with goodies from all over the world and an amazing staff ... even after I moved to Bonn, we just kept going there; and we still try to make it down there at least once or twice a year.  So last Saturday we decided another splurge was overdue, took to the road – and returned home late in the afternoon laden with delicacies.  This was my share of the bounty:

 

 

* A small bag of Nanhu Da Shan Qinxin Oolong (the prize catch of last Saturday's shopping trip; and yes, they do actually let you try all of their products in their store);

* A foursome of Kusmi tea blends (Kashmir tchai, ginger lemon green, and a double serving of spicy chocolate);

* One of their homemade rice & spice mixes (in this instance, a blend of Indian basmati rice with currants, cashew nuts, coconut flakes, lemon pepper, cinnamon, sea salt, cardamom, ginger, and pieces of dried mango, apricot, papaya, and cranberries, going by the fanciful name Maharani Rice ... one of my absolute favorites);

* A bottle of Stokes Sweet Chilli Sauce (my kitchen just isn't complete without this stuff, it goes on practically everything);

* A bottle of Belberry Spicy Mango Ketchup (new to me, tried it in the store and instantly loved it);

* A duo of Sal de Ibiza (green pepper and lemon, and ginger and lemon grass);

* A lidded Chinese dragon tea mug that will go well with the two (differently-colored) mugs in the same style that I've already got

* ... and a collection of their very own recipes, all of which they also serve up (though obviously not all at the same time) for tasting purposes in their store.; this particular collection being recipes created by a charming lady from Sri Lanka named Rajitha who has been part of their team since practically forever.

 

Alright, so I guess I did splurge.  In my defense, though, I'll mention that I won't be able to travel at all this year, nor actually take a whole lot of vacation time or other time off work, so I'm having to make to with what's available by way of compensation ... and is there any better compensation than books and food?

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text 2016-07-03 23:15
July TBR
Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen - Alison Weir
The Imp of Eye (Renaissance Sojourner Series Book 1) - Kristin Gleeson,Moonyeen Blakey
Fires of Faith: Catholic England Under Mary Tudor - Eamon Duffy
Jasper - Book Two of the Tudor Trilogy - Tony Riches
The Heretics of De'Ath (The Chronicles of Brother Hermitage Book 1) - Howard of Warwick
The Tudor Kings & Queens - Alex Woolf
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania - Erik Larson
The Errant Flock (The Flock Series Book 1) - Jana Petken
The Colour of Poison: A Sebastian Foxley Medieval Mystery (Volume 1) - Toni Mount

Here's this month's overly ambitious to-read list!

 

Colour of Poison is our More Historical than Fiction book club read.

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