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text 2020-05-20 04:41
Reading progress update: I've read 467 out of 757 pages.
The Mirror and the Light - Hilary Mantel

We played hooky today. The only time I spent with a device today was right away this morning when I lied to the girls' teachers and told them that of course we were going to be working today. It's been cold and raining for the last four-ish days. Today was sunny and 70. We're all out of the office today. Sorry. Not sorry. When you go to the lake on a Tuesday, you get the beach to yourself. It was glorious.


Now that everyone has scrubbed of the sand and I have applied half a bottle of aloe gel to the places I apparently forgot to apply sunscreen, I'm going to curl up with some tea and contine on with Lord Cromwell. However, it feels like Bring Up the Bodies would be a more fitting book today. 


"I filled his treasury, made his coinage sound; I packed off his old wife and got him a new one of his choosing; while I did this I soothed his temper and told him jokes. If like a princess in a fairy tale I could have spun a babe from straw, I would have worked a year of nights. But he has his prince now. He has paid a price for him, but good fortune never comes free. It is time he knew that; it is time he grew up."


I've said it before and I'll say it again - I think Mantel paints the most complex and human portrait of Henry VIII of any author, EVER. 



"Henry's eyes are on his portrait of himself, massive, on t he wall of the chamber. His own eyes consult the image of his master 'What should I want with the Emperor, were he emperor of all the world? Your Majesty is the only prince. The mirror and the light of other kings.'


Henry repeats the phrase, as if cherishing it: the mirror and the light. He says, 'You know, Crumb, I may from time to time reprove you. I may belittle you. I may even speak roughly.'


He bows.


'It is for show,' Henry says. 'So they think we are divided. But take it in good part. Whatever you hear, at home or abroad, I repose my faith in you.' 


Anyone else feel like Cromwell should know better than to believe Henry. 

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text 2020-05-13 04:23
Reading progress update: I've read 434 out of 757 pages.
The Mirror and the Light - Hilary Mantel

"What is a woman's life? Do not think, because she is not a man, she does not fight. The bedchamber is her tilting ground, where she shows her colours, and her theatre of war is the sealed room where she gives birth.


She knows she may not come alive out of that bloody chamber. Before her lying-in, if she is prudent, she settles her affairs. If she dies, she will be lamented and forgotten. If the child dies, she will be blamed. If she lives, she must hide her wounds. Her injuries are secret, and her sisters talk about them behind the hand. It is Eve's sin, the long continuing punishment it incurred, that tears at her from the inside and shreds her. Whereas we bless and old soldier and give him alms, pitying his blind or limbless state, we do not make heroes of women mangled in the struggle to give birth. If she seems so injured that she can have no more children, we commiserate with her husband."



No pressure on your uterus Jane. I mean, everyone knows Henry's not the problem. 

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review 2020-05-10 05:30
A Life Renewed Review and GIVEAWAY!

About the Book


Book:  A Life Renewed

Author: Olivia Rae

Genre:  Christian Historical

Release Date: April 2, 2020

In 1554, Lady Jane Grey, “The Nine Days’ Queen” was executed for high treason.

But what if, instead of feeling the blade on her neck she secretly survived?

Escaping execution, Lady Jane hides as a peasant girl in a principality in Germany. She loves the simple life and never wants to return to England. But her benefactor, a power-hungry German prince, wants to march on London and place her on the English throne again, thereby increasing his dominance in Europe. If she doesn’t agree to his plan, her beloved childhood nurse will be put to death. Desperate for help, Jane must put her trust in the mysterious spy Asher Hayes.

Asher Hayes is done rounding up Protestants for “Bloody Mary” and wants nothing more than to live a quiet life as a farmer and expunge the blood of many from his hands. Except Queen Mary isn’t done with him yet. She throws his father, mother, and sister into prison on false charges in order to force him to accept one last mission – find and kill Lady Jane Grey. But when Asher discovers Lady Jane isn’t a threat to the throne as he believed her to be, he faces a devastating decision – does he sacrifice his family for the woman who reigns in his heart?

Click HERE for your copy!

About the Author


Olivia Rae is an award-winning author who spent her school days dreaming of knights, princesses and far away kingdoms; it made those long, boring days in the classroom go by much faster. Nobody was more shocked than her when she decided to become a teacher. Besides getting her Master’s degree, marrying her own prince, and raising a couple of kids, Olivia decided to breathe a little more life into her childhood stories by adding in what she’s learned as an adult living in a small town next to a big city. When not writing, she loves to travel, dragging her family to old castles and forts all across the world.

More from Olivia


The Challenge in Writing About a Real Historical Person

I like creating a story out of a kernel of information. The idea of my new book, A Life Renewed came when I took a trip to England and learned about the tragic life of Lady Jane Grey. Her life was so disastrous, I just wanted to give her a second chance at happiness. So that’s exactly what I did when she escaped her execution instead of dying as she did in real life.

My greatest challenge in writing this book was picking a heroine that actually lived. I had to do a lot of research in Lady Jane Grey’s life and her family. It was very interesting. Lady Jane was what we would call a progressive protestant. The conflicts between the Catholics and Protestants (The beginning of The Church of England) was very real and very deadly at that time. What many people don’t know is that Henry VIII was actually against many other Protestant religions (Calvinists, Lutherans, etc.). He feared their religious influence as much as he did the Catholic’s. His son Edward was more progressive, like Jane. If he would have lived, Jane’s outcome would have been totally different. After Jane’s death, Queen Mary went on a mission to turn England back to Catholicism. In her reign she killed over 300 Protestants. Hence later in history she was known as “Bloody Mary.”

My Review


One of the most interesting questions to ponder is “What if?” After all, this query forms the basis of literary fiction. Adding in an element of truth serves to enhance the fascination, and thus the historical fiction genre exists. This is one of the many reasons that I love this genre and never become bored with it. While I favor the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, I enjoy reading and learning about other time periods as well, and this book is my first foray into the 1500s, at least for reviewing purposes. An era that has never particularly attracted my attention before, I must say that this was an excellent novel to pave the way!

Olivia Rae’s “A Life Renewed” kicks off her Secrets of the Queens series with a captivating tale of an alternative version of Lady Jane Grey. Instead of being beheaded, she escapes and ends up living as a peasant girl in a small German princedom, a simple life that she loves. However, Prince von Hoffbauer has other plans for her, intending to further his own cause, and English spy Asher Hayes is on an assigned mission to bring her head to Queen Mary in order to save his own family. With intrigue and romance, sixteenth-century Tudor England comes alive in this thrilling story, along with its turbulence and bloodshed. Of all the characters, I think that my favorite is Otto Werner; he wants to do God’s will but allows himself to be sidetracked, as happens to several other characters as well. As such, all of the characters feel genuine, because they each exhibit less-than-admirable qualities at times. Rae does include some Messianic imagery in the story, as when Asher says of Lady Jane, “She was either a lamb for the slaughter or a lion sent to tear all apart.”

The hatred and calculating animosity between the Catholics and Protestants calls to mind the current political landscape in America between the Democrats and the Republicans. If the seeds of division can be sown, they reap disastrous results for everyone. Author Olivia Rae does not appear to take sides when discussing the religious affiliations of those in “A Life Renewed,” and it is Lady Jane who gives the impassioned speech that so perfectly targets the heart of the issue, both then and now: “How can we profess to believe in Him if we curse one another? How can we profess to be His children if we are maiming and killing each other? How can we profess to believe in Him if we do not love our enemies as He has taught us?”  How, indeed? We should come together in Christ and strive to demonstrate His love to everyone, seeking to live together in peace whenever possible. Having been given a renewed life in Jesus, we need to extend to others the same grace and mercy that we have received, a necessity for all time periods, Tudor and contemporary alike.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops





To celebrate her tour, Olivia is giving away the grand prize packaged of an autographed copy of the book and a $25 Amazon gift certificate!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


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review 2020-05-10 04:14
The Other People by C.J. Tudor
The Other People - C.J. Tudor

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had such a great time with this book! After loving this author's previous work, I was pretty excited to give this book a try. When I started reading this book, I hoped that this would be a story that would really capture my attention and it was. I was completely swept away by this story and found myself trying to figure out what was really happening to these characters even when I wasn't reading the book. I enjoyed this page-turner of a story from the first page until the last.

On his way home one night, Gabe sees a car covered in bumper stickers weaving in and out of traffic in front of him. It wouldn't have been that big of a deal if he hadn't seen the face of a little girl sitting in the backseat of the car. He knew that face because it belonged to his daughter. Years later, he cannot let it go and spends his time driving up and down the same roads looking for either the car or his little girl.

This is one of those stories where it is better to go in knowing little about the story and letting things unfold as you work your way through the book. There are tons of twists and turns during this story and sometimes a new detail would have me questioning everything I had previously thought. We see this story from several different points of view that become more connected as the book progressed. There were times that I had no idea where the story was going but I wanted so much to see Gabe find his Izzy that I couldn't put the book down.

I would highly recommend this book to others. I thought that this was a wonderfully crafted and quite complex story filled with interesting characters. This book kept me guessing until the very end and I liked the fact that there was just a bit of supernatural worked in as well. I cannot wait to read more from this very talented author!

I received a review copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine Books.

Initial Thoughts
So, this was pretty much fantastic. I loved The Chalk Man when I read it a couple of years ago but I wasn't nearly as big of a fan of The Hiding Place. I wasn't sure how I would feel about this book but I decided it was time to finally give it a try and I didn't want to put it down. I felt for Gabe and was totally taken by the mystery. This was definitely a page-turner.

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text 2020-05-09 17:11
Reading progress update: I've read 358 out of 757 pages.
The Mirror and the Light - Hilary Mantel

"People are always prompting you, you notice, to forgive and forget. They are always urging you, do as your father did, boy: be what your father was. Young men claim they want change, they want freedom, but the truth is, freedom just confuses them and change makes them quake. Set them on the open road with a purse and a fair wind, and before they've gone a mile they are crying for a master: they must be indentured, they must be in bond, they must have someone to obey."


I'm strangely excited by an author who manages to use a colon correctly. It's a skill I have yet to master and Mantel doesn't just do it once. Twice. In the same paragraph. 

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