This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands,-- This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. ~~William Shakespeare, Richard III

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Jane a way....

A friend of mine posted this video this morning on her blog and I about fell out of my chair watching it. I loved it! Jane Austen fans, I hope you find the humor in this and are not offended...I LOVE Austen and found this priceless!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Review: To Hold The Crown

To Hold the Crown, Jean Plaidy
4 roses

Readers of my blog are well aware of my strong Richardian sympathies but when it is well written, even I can enjoy a book about the man who murdered Richard and began the Tudor dynasty. In this novel (originally published with the title Uneasy Lies the Head) Jean Plaidy has penned a beautifully written story about the parents of Henry VIII - Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Both titles the book has carried are quite apt as Henry felt he had to struggle his entire 23 year reign to keep his throne. Though don't be fooled by the inclusion of Elizabeth of York in the title - she rarely appears - and it really can not be classified as a love story (as the back cover boasts).

The story begins mere months after Henry VII's victory at Bosworth in 1485 and ends with his death in 1509. I am grateful that Plaidy chose not to show the actual battle, as it is always difficult for me to read, but rather begins with Elizabeth of York in labor with her first child, Prince Arthur. We are carried through Henry VII's reign - the birth of their many children, his struggle against pretenders and to feel secure on his throne, and the tricky politics of the era which deal with everything from taxes to the marriages of children.

Plaidy did a superb job with this novel - the story is well written and flows at a good pace, it is an easy but entertaining (and informative) read, she doesn't bog the reader down with too many details, and her characters are nicely developed. The narration switches between various people through out though it does mainly stick with Henry VII. Surprisingly, no real villains appear in this novel. Plaidy manages to portray everyone as quite human, each with their own faults, but no one that a reader could classify as a villain or evil. Even I couldn't hate Henry VII. He felt very strongly that he had done what was best for the country by bringing peace and uniting the two royal houses. He was constantly disturbed that even though he had ended the wars and made the country prosperous that people still didn't like him and would rise up against him. I could almost feel sorry for him. The only character I could not like in the book (though I didn't hate him) was Prince Henry (soon to be Henry VIII). He was the most arrogant, selfish, self-absorbed, and pompous little child I've ever read about! It does seem a bit far fetched to me that a child of three could be wishing he had been the elder brother so that he could be King of England one day (and those thoughts occasionally slip dangerously close to wishing Arthur dead). I truly wanted to slap some of the arrogance out of him. Other than the annoying little Prince I couldn't really find fault with any of the other characters. I was surprised at how little Henry VII's mother appeared in the book, as she was quite a factor during his reign, and I was disappointed in how little Elizabeth of York appeared. The few times we really see her she almost comes across as an after thought and of no importance beyond being a walking uterus. Perhaps that was Plaidy's way of showing how Henry felt about the importance of the House of York. Beyond characters, I did like the "mystery" Plaidy weaves with the fate of the Princes in the Tower (but don't worry, you will see her opinion on their situation). Some may feel that events during Henry's reign were glossed over and not given enough attention but I think what the author includes is enough; enough fact to get the point across clearly and enough fiction to make it interesting. Plaidy's true genius in my opinion is how effortlessly she weaves fiction with historical fact, making it interesting and informative but not throwing in so much detail that the reader will find it tedious.

I would highly recommend this novel to any reader. It is an easy read. Tudor and Plaidy fans will enjoy it and readers interested in discovering more about how the Tudor dynasty began will find it informative. This is the first of her novels on the Tudors and, in my opinion, some of her best writing.

This Day in History...

July 30, 1818 - Emily Brontë, author of Wuthering Heights, was born in Thornton, Yorkshire.

July 30, 1718 - William Penn, the English founder of Pennsylvania, died.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

This Day in History...

July 29, 1565 - Mary, Queen of Scots impulsively married her cousin Lord Darnley (Henry Stuart). She would soon regret this move.

July 29, 1567 - James VI, son of Mary and Lord Darnley, is crowned King of Scots. His mother had been forced to abdicate the throne.

July 29, 1588 - The Spanish Armada is defeated by the English at the Battle of Gravelines off the coast of France.

July 29, 1981 - Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This Day in History...

Not too much going on in history on this date...

July 28, 1540 - Thomas Cromwell was beheaded on Tower Hill for promoting the king's failed marriage to Anne of Cleves.

July 28, 1540 - Henry VIII married his 5th wife, Catherine Howard at Hampton Court Palace.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review: The Red Queen

The Red Queen, Philippa Gregory
3 roses

Anyone who frequents my blog probably knows two things: I am a firm supporter of Richard III and I'm not the biggest fan of Philippa Gregory. When I saw that her second novel in The Cousins' War series would be about Henry Tudor's mother, Margaret Beaufort, I was quite anxious and worried about how Ms. Gregory would portray the entire drama and Richard. I can say, thankfully, that I have no complaints with how she showed him in this novel and, overall, it was a decent read (better, in my opinion, than the previous novel The White Queen). Having never read much about Margaret I was fairly interested to read about her early life (as I am well versed with her later years).

Margaret Beaufort was from the line descending from John of Gaunt (Edward III's son) and his mistress Katheryn Swynford (the line was eventually legitimized). She is married at 13 to Edmund Tudor but he is killed soon after, though not before managing to get Margaret pregnant. In the years after the birth of her son, whom she names Henry (high expectations already), she is married two more times, sees the reigning House of York begin to crumble, and works behind the scenes to bring her son to the throne. Everyone knows what happens at the Battle of Bosworth and that is where this novel ends. That is Margaret's history and here Gregory has stuck to known historical fact fairly decently, though I will admit, having never read too much solely on Margaret there are probably some details I would miss. However, there is nothing glaringly obvious that jumps out at me so I can say that the historical accuracy in this novel doesn't bother me like it has in so many of her other novels.

The story is told from Margaret's point of view and I feel that severely limits the story. She (Margaret) is always in England and usually at a manor in the country so not around all the momentous events that occur throughout the time frame of the story. Gregory resorts to conveying important information in letters from Margaret to various people - Henry, Jasper Tudor, etc. - in order to get her readers up to speed on what is happening beyond Margaret's sphere at the time. This really bugged me for the sole reason that someone as intelligent as Margaret would never have committed such treasonous ideas to paper and, to top it off, signed her name to it. I understand Gregory's need to fill the readers in and writing the story from a third person point of view would have solved this problem easily. Towards the end of the novel there are several chapters where she does switch to this POV out of necessity (battlefield scenes) and the story flows much better and is quite well written. Gregory has her take on what happened to the Princes in the Tower and I have no qualms with the way she portrayed the entire episode. What I do have an issue with is Margaret herself. I knew I was most likely not going to like her when, in the first few paragraphs of the novel, she is thrilled to have "saint's knees" at the age of nine and then soon likens herself as England's Joan of Arc. I have no doubt that Margaret Beaufort was a pious woman (it is well recorded actually) but I can not stand being constantly beat over the head with the information. This is an issue I have had with a few of Gregory's books. On almost every page of the novel Margaret is either mentioning how she sees herself as a Joan of Arc, sent from God to "rescue" England or discussing how because she is so pious and godly that her will must be the will of God, that she was sent from God to put Henry on the throne. This got old very, very quickly and mix that in with her arrogance and ambition and I disliked her from beginning to end. There was one moment when I wanted to clap and cheer that she finally got the right idea (when she was wondering if it wasn't all God's will but her own ambitions that she was acting on) but she soon talked herself out of that. I understand that she was an ambitious woman but it really seemed over the top to me. Beyond Margaret's ambitions and scheming to put Henry on the throne, there really is not much else to the story. Because the entire novel is basically from Margaret's point of view we really do not get a look at many of the other people that play such an important part in the story. There are, of course, scenes between Margaret and various people through out, but we really don't get a good look at these characters or what makes them tick. I think my favorite scene in the entire novel was the one between Margaret and Elizabeth of York. I loved the spunk Gregory gives the young princess and her parting comment to Margaret, after she has tried tirelessly to make the princess feel inferior, is priceless:

"Yes, but either way, shamed or not, I shall be Queen of England, and this is the last time you will sit in my presence."

The exception to this limitation would be the final few chapters where Gregory switches to a third person narrative and we see Henry and Jasper Tudor. I thoroughly enjoyed these few chapters (though I always hate the outcome) and I actually liked her portrayal of Henry Tudor. I got the feeling that he was much less impressed with his Lancaster "inheritance" (England's crown) than his mother and wasn't overly worried if he was King or not. It almost seemed like the classic case of "child doing something only because his parents want him to" - almost like Henry was only invading England and fighting Richard because his mother wanted him to be King, not because he really wanted to be or felt he had a right to it. I was prepared to hate Henry as Richard's killer but Gregory wrote him in such a way that I actually like him. It certainly throws a new light on him.

Overall I can say I enjoyed the novel more than the previous one about Elizabeth Woodville. There were, of course, things that irritated me but it wasn't a bad read. It doesn't bring any new information to the table but what was included was interesting. I think readers who want a little more background on how the Tudors came to power but aren't ready for some of the more detail heavy novels will really enjoy this; it would certainly be a good starting point if you're wanting to learn about the period. Serious Ricardians may not like it as it is told from the view point of the woman who helped take his throne. The story moves at a decent pace and it certainly covers a very dramatic time period in English history. I like the fact that it is about someone who writers usually doesn't spend too much time discussing. Gregory's next novel in the Cousins' War series will be about Jacquetta Woodville, Elizabeth Woodville's mother. She also plans on a novel about Anne and Isabelle Neville (Anne was Richard III's wife).

*Thank you to the publisher, Simon and Schuster for the early review opportunity.

This Day in History...

July 27, 1054 - Siward, Earl of Northumbria, invaded Scotland to help Malcolm Canmore against Macbeth, who had usurped the Scottish throne from Malcolm's father, King Duncan.

July 27, 1214 - Philip of France defeats King John at the Battle of Bouvines.

July 27, 1586 - Sir Walter Raleigh brought tobacco to England from Virginia for the first time.

July 27, 1996 - The bombing at Atlanta's Olympic Centennial Park during the Summer Olympics.

Monday, July 26, 2010

This Day in History...

Not too much on this day in history...

July 26, 1469 - Edward IV faces Warwick in the Battle of Edgecote Manor.

July 26, 1945 - Winston Churchill is removed from his position of Prime Minister after a general election.

July 26, 1952 - Eva Peron dies from cervical cancer at the age of 33.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Favorite English King Poll Results!!

Polls are so much fun! Thank you to everyone who voted in this one; it was close until the very end! Here are the results!

Richard III, youngest brother of Edward IV, uncle to the Princes in the Tower, and formerly Duke of Gloucester, won with six votes (I guess the Tudor propaganda isn't sticking so much anymore!).

Charles II came in second to Richard with three votes. He came close to taking the lead at one point!

Medieval kings Henry II, Richard I, Edward II, and Henry V, and the ever dramatic Henry VIII all gathered one vote a piece.

Poor charismatic and carousing Edward IV didn't get a single vote; I guess he's not as attractive to the ladies these days!

Thank you to everyone! I should have a new poll up at the beginning of the week so stay on the lookout!

This Day in History...

July 25, 1554 - Mary I married Philip II of Spain at Winchester Cathedral. Most in the country were violently opposed to the marriage.

July 25, 1603 - James I is crowned King of England (he was already James VI of Scotland).

July 25, 1834 - Famous English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge died.

Friday, July 23, 2010

This Day in History...

July 23, 1745 - Charles Stuart, the 'Young Pretender,' landed in his attempt to win back the throne for the Stuarts.

July 23, 1986 - Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah Ferguson were married at Westminster Abbey.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

This Day in History...

July 22, 1210 - Joan, daughter of King John, is born at Gloucester.

July 22, 1298 - For the first time, the English used longbows in battle when Edward I defeated William Wallace and the Scots at the Battle of Falkirk.

July 22, 1478 - Philip the Handsome, Duke of Burgundy, was born. He would eventually become the husband of Queen Juana of Castile (Katherine of Aragon's sister).

July 22, 1587 - A second group of colonists arrive on Roanoke Island to re-establish the deserted colony.

July 22, 1942 - The deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto begins.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This Day in History...

July 21, 1403 - Henry IV defeats rebels lead by Henry Percy (Hotspur) at the Battle of Shrewsbury.

July 21, 1831 – Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, uncle of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, becomes King of the Belgians. He was instrumental in bringing Victoria and Albert together.

July 21, 1861 - The first major battle of the Civil War, the First Battle of Bull Run, begins and ends with a Confederate victory.

July 21 - 1944 -Claus von Stauffenburg and fellow conspirators are executed in Berlin for the plot to kill Hitler.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

This Day in History...

July 20, 356 BC - Alexander the Great is born.

July 20, 1304 - Edward I takes control of Scotland's Stirling Castle.

July 20, 1398 - Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March died. For a short time he was Richard II's acknowledged heir to the throne.

July 20, 1524 - Queen Claude of France, first wife of Francis I and eldest daughter of Louis XII, died.

July 20, 1944 - Hitler manages to survive another assassination attempt (code named Valkyrie) inside his Wolf's Lair bunker, this one lead by Claus von Stauffenburg. It was planned by the German Resistance to overthrow the Nazi regime.

July 20, 1944 - FDR wins the Democratic nomination for President for an amazing 4th (and final) time.

Monday, July 19, 2010

This Day in History...

July 19, 1545 - Henry VIII's pride, the Mary Rose, sank in the Solent. (The ship was raised in October 1982 and taken to Portsmouth Dockyard.)

July 19, 1553 - Lady Jane Grey's reign of nine days ended when Mary I took the throne.

July 19, 1692 - Five women are hanged for witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials in Salem, Massachusetts.

Book Review: Captive Queen

Captive Queen, Alison Weir
2 roses

I thoroughly enjoyed Weir's Innocent Traitor about Jane Grey and though I didn't agree with of her take on Elizabeth I's early life, I enjoyed her The Lady Elizabeth. So when I saw her newest historical fiction about the illustrious Eleanor of Aquitaine I was quite excited and looking forward to it. This has been the year of Eleanor! Needless to say, I was highly disappointed and actually scratching my head through out, wondering if this was indeed the same author.

Eleanor of Aquitaine was Duchess of Aquitaine, Queen of France, and ultimately Queen of England, wife to Henry II and mother to Richard I (the lionhearted) and King John. She lead a very full and exciting life which included (but is not limited to!): going on crusade with her first husband, marrying the tempestuous Henry, rebelling with her sons against him, spending sixteen years as her husband's prisoner, and watching two of her sons become King of England. She was a formidable woman by all accounts though, as is usually the case with those "in the spotlight," there was much rumor swirling around her. Her life was quite fascinating and really needs little embellishment for dramatic purposes; really, the truth is far better than what anyone could make up! Unfortunately, Weir seems to have decided that including all the old (and unfounded) rumors about Eleanor would make for a much more interesting and entertaining story. It didn't. The first few chapters of this novel read almost like a Harlequin romance with details (way too much detail!) showing Eleanor either diving into bed with Henry within a few hours of meeting him or reminiscing about her affairs with various other men (quite an impressive list actually). I could have overlooked all the cheesy and numerous, detailed sexual encounters if the story itself had been well written and was believable and interesting. It wasn't. The entire novel (with the exception of the last few chapters) is just poorly written. I find it hard to believe that the same person who wrote Innocent Traitor actually wrote this! The dialogue and sentence structure is only marginally better than an elementary school reading lesson (See Spot. See Spot run. Good Spot). Her attempts at filling the reader in on background information is not well done either and made me feel like she was "talking down" to the readers. There are always going to be these instances in historical fiction where the author needs to find a way to inform the reader of this background information and most authors manage to work it into the character dialogue. Weir's attempts are rather clumsy. For example, when her eldest son William has come down with a fever the nurse actually tells Eleanor: "Young ones of that age - he's not yet three - take ill quickly ..." I am a mother and I certainly do not need to be reminded of my child's age. There are many frustrating instances of this through out most of the novel. So many momentous events in their marriage seemed glossed over or rushed along, giving them a much less important place. It all felt very juvenile and I've wondered if Weir possibly wrote this when she was much younger. Besides the poor writing, the characters themselves are just not believable or interesting; Eleanor comes across as way too concerned about getting into bed (at least throughout much of the novel), Henry really seems like a big oaf who does nothing but drink and chase women, and the personalities of their various children seem almost wooden (though, to be fair, we don't see that much of them throughout the story - it is from Eleanor's perspective). Besides the sexual situations and poor writing, there just didn't seem like there was much substance to the story and frankly, it was a bit boring (again, the last few chapters are an exception). I thought it was impossible to make Eleanor of Aquitaine boring but I suppose if you try hard enough, anything is possible.

All that being said, there were some moments of good writing and story telling. I felt Weir's delving into the relationship between Henry and Thomas Becket was quite well done and gave the reader an interesting look at why that relationship really formed the first cracks in Henry and Eleanor's marriage. The last few chapters of the novel were much better than all that came before (which really makes me feel like it was written much later than the rest of the book) and I actually found myself enjoying that part of the story. It is just disappointing that the rest of the novel was so lacking, especially after I enjoyed her other works. This is a work of fiction and authors are going to take liberties to create their story and fill in gaps that history has left however I just felt this novel was a mess from the beginning to (almost) the end. I have no problem with some embellishment to a story if it works and if it is well done which this wasn't. Trying to recreate the life of someone who lived so many years ago and where so much of the history is probably lost is a daunting task and I commend Weir for taking on the challenge. She just did a rather poor job at showing this incredibly fascinating woman. The author's note at the end did really left me scratching my head as it came across - to me anyway- as Weir defending herself for the changes she made in Eleanor's story and at the same time discussing how important historical accuracy is in a novel.

This novel was a disappointment for me and I feel like I can not recommend it to many readers. Those who are not overly concerned about details and historical accuracy will probably really enjoy this novel but those who like a bit more historical accuracy in their historical fiction will most likely want to steer clear. As always, if you are interested in reading more about Eleanor and Henry, I can't recommend Sharon Kay Penman's novels (Time and Chance and Devil's Brood) enough!

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. It is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!!

It was a happy week for me and my mailbox!

Elizabeth, Captive Princess, Margaret Irwin

Thanks to Sourcebooks for this ARC to review! I read and reviewed the reissue of the first in the series (Young Elizabeth) and an thrilled to have a chance at the second in the series.

The Princeling, Cynthia Harrod - Eagles

Another ARC I received from Sourcebooks to review. I love the new covers they are giving the series! This one follows the Morlands into Elizabeth's reign.

The King's Mistress, Emma Campion

Thank you to Marcia at The Printed Page for letting me adopt this copy of Ms. Campion's new book.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

This Day in History...

July 18, 1290 - Edward I issues his Edict of Expulsion which banished all Jews (at that around 18,000) from England.

July 18, 1817 - Jane Austen, brilliant English novelist, died at the age of 41. She is best known for her novels Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Her books have been the basis for a new fad of "sequels" and "prequels."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

This Day in History...

Quite an interesting array of events for today!

July 17, 1328 – Joan, daughter of Edward II, married David II of Scotland

July 17, 1453 - The Hundred Years' War between France and England came to an end with the defeat of the English at the Battle of Castillon.

July 17, 1762 - Catherine II (Catherine the Great) becomes tsar of Russia upon the murder of her husband Peter III.

July 17, 1917 – The House of Windsor (the current royal house) was established by royal proclamation, issued by George V.

July 17, 1918 - Nicholas II and his family were executed by firing squad in their prison in Yekaterinburg.

July 17, 1918 - The RMS Carpathia, the ship that rescued the Titanic survivors, is sunk off Ireland by a German U-boat.

July 17, 1998 - The remains of Nicholas II, his family, and the servants murdered are buried the Fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul in St. Petersburg, the traditional burial place of the Romanovs.

Friday, July 16, 2010

This Day in History...

July 16, 1377 - Richard II was crowned King of England. He gained the throne on the death of his grandfather Edward III as his father, the Black Prince, had already died. Richard was 10 years old.

July 16, 1439 - Kissing was banned in England because of the Black Death (plague).

July 16, 1546 - Anne Askew was burned at the stake because she was a Protestant.

July 16, 1557 - Henry VIII's fourth wife Anne of Cleaves died.

What's on My Ipod - Eleanor of Aquitaine

If some of our favorite historical figures could show us their Ipods, what would be on there?

Henry II's wonderful Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, wanted to share her top playlist with the readers. Hope y'all enjoy!

1. Good Riddance - Green Day
2. Big Girls Don't Cry - Frankie Valli
3. I'm Every Woman - Whitney Houston
4. Big Girls Don't Cry - Fergie
5. What Hurts the Most - Rascal Flatts
6. Fell on Black Days - Soundgarden
7. I am Woman - Helen Reddy
8. I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor
9. You Keep Me Hangin' On - Diana Ross
10. I Will Not Be Broken - Bonnie Raitt

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Travel Input Needed!

I am hoping to travel to England in the beginning of the new year (I've heard that's an 'off season' and things will be a bit cheaper?) and I am saving up my pennies. I have never planned a trip overseas before and the only time I was in England was with a University group so everything was taken care of (air travel, rooms, transportation) so I am a bit nervous about trying to plan this on my own. :)

Tentative Itinerary:

1. London - Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, Madame Tussaud's, Windsor Palace, Hampton Court

2. York

3. Leicestershire - Bosworth Battlefield and Museum

I have some questions for my readers out there and any input will be welcome. I am familiar with the Tube and the buses in London and I have traveled to Statford and Chawton on the trains so I'm somewhat familiar with that as well.

1. Does anyone have any suggestions for a B&B in York? I've been looking at many listed on the Visit York website but I'm just worried about getting a nice place.

2. I'd like to avoid chain hotels in London as well and was looking at locally owned, smaller hotels.

3. How much do the trains cost? :)

Any information, opinions, suggestions, etc, anyone can pass along would be great!

This Day in History...

July 15, 1207 - King John expels the Canterbury monks for supporting Archbishop Stephen Langton, the Pope's choice for the prestigious Canterbury seat.

July 15, 1382 - One of the leaders of the Peasant's Revolt, John Ball, is hanged, drawn, and quartered in the presence of Richard II.

July 15, 1685 - James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, Charles II's illegitimate son, was executed for rebelling against James II.

Favorite English King Poll!

There are only 7 days left to vote in my favorite king poll! Glance on over to my side bar and see which of those listed is your favorite.

Is your favorite the first Plantagenet king Henry II or his 'lionhearted,' crusading son Richard I? Maybe the warrior kings Edward III or Henry V? Perhaps you prefer the charismatic Edward IV or his much maligned brother Richard III? Maybe its the larger than life Henry VIII or Charles II?

Right now Richard III is in the lead with Charles II close behind! Make sure to cast your vote!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This Day in History...

July 14, 1223 - Louis VIII becomes the King of France on the death of his father Philip II.

July 14, 1789 - During the French Revolution Paris citizens storm the Bastille and free seven prisoners.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How Did You Find Me?

So I clicked on over to see if there were any amusing keywords or phrases that people used to find my blog. Not many but there were a few that had me scratching my head!

1. tudor sea monsters
that would've brought a whole new element to the series...

2. new book henry viii wall
if you're confused about this one you're not alone

3. things that the first letter is A alphabet
that really narrows down the search field

4. "Isabella Plantagenet" OR "Isabella * Plantagenet" OR "Plantagenet, Isabella" ~genealogy OR ~ancestry~
making sure all the bases are covered aren't we? random punctuation is always fun too

This Day in History...

July 13, 100 BC - Julius Caesar is born.

July 13, 1189 - Matilda of England and Duchess of Saxony dies. She was daughter to Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

July 13, 1527 - John Dee, English scientist, is born. Dee would become a consultant to Elizabeth I and was a noted mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, and devoted much of his life to the study of alchemy and divination.

July 13, 1837 - Queen Victoria became the first monarch to move into Buckingham Palace.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Recently Finished Books...Reviews Soon!

Unable to help myself, I have finished my ARC of Philippa Gregory's newest novel The Red Queen (set for publication in August) and my ARC of Elizabeth Chadwick's next novel For the King's Favor (set for publication in September).

I tried (not very hard I'll admit) to not read them until closer to the time when I could post my reviews but I couldn't help myself! My full review for each of them will be posted in the week or two leading up to the book's publication. Until then, here are just a few thoughts on the two!

The Red Queen
This wasn't too bad and I believe I liked it more than the first novel in The Cousin's War series (The White Queen about Elizabeth Woodville). As always when I'm reading something that has anything to do with Richard III, it was difficult for me to get through the final chapters knowing what was coming. All in all not a bad book though I did NOT like the main character (and I'll explain in my detailed review).

For the King's Favor
As always, Elizabeth Chadwick has given us a fantastic work of historical fiction! I thoroughly enjoyed this one and found it interesting to see events from a different perspective (that of the Bigods, Earls of Norfolk) that were mentioned in her fantastic novels about William Marshal (The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion). If you wanted to read these chronologically you should start with TGK, then read this one, pick up TSL next, and then finish with To Defy A King, which concerns the children of the Marshals and the Bigods.

Obviously more details will be forthcoming in my detailed reviews but I had to post something for y'all to read!

Favorite Queen Poll Results!

My Favorite English Queens poll has closed and we have a winner!

Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Duchess of Aquitaine and Henry II's queen, received 8 votes and edged out Elizabeth I (who ended up with 6 votes) during the last few days of voting.

Lady Jane Grey, the nine days queen, received 2 votes with Elizabeth Woodville, Edward II's Queen Isabella, and Marguerite d'Anjou (Henry VI's queen) each receiving one vote a piece.

Poor Mary Tudor did not receive a single vote.

Thank you to everyone who participated in my poll! Keep on the lookout for my next poll which should be up later today!

Mailbox Monday - July 12, 2010

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. It the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

The Red Queen, Philippa Gregory

I received this from the publisher to review as part of the blog tour leading up to its publication next month. I have already finished it!

The White Queen, Philippa Gregory

This came in the package along with TRQ.

This Day in History...

July 12, 1472 - Richard, Duke of Gloucester married Lady Anne Neville, daughter of the Earl of Warwick. They lived at Middleham until he became king.

July 12, 1543 - Henry VIII married his sixth wife Catherine Parr at Hampton Court Palace. All three of his children were present.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

This Day in History...

July 10, 138 - Roman Emperor Hadrian, who ordered the building of a wall across northern England to keep out the 'barbarian Scottish tribes,' died.

July 10, 1040 - Hoping to force her husband the Earl of Mercia to lower taxes, Lady Godiva rode naked on horseback through the streets of Coventry.

July 10, 1460 - At the Battle of Northampton Yorkists defeated the Lancastrians and captured Henry VI.

July 10, 1553 – Lady Jane Grey is officially proclaimed Queen of England, beginning her reign as the "The Nine Days' Queen."

July 10, 1940 - The Battle of Britain, a series of German bombing raids, began. It would last three and a half months.

Friday, July 9, 2010

This Day in History...

July 9, 1437 – Joan of Navarre, second wife of Henry IV, died. She is buried at Canterbury Cathedral.

July 9, 1540 - Henry VIII had his six-month marriage to Anne of Cleves, his fourth wife, annulled.

July 9, 1553 - Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen of England upon the death of Edward VI. Her reign lasted only nine days when Mary I took her place as rightful Queen.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

This Day in History...

July 8, 1822- English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley died. He drowned in Italy while sailing.

July 8, 1776 - The Declaration of Independence is read in aloud in Philadelphia and the Liberty Bell is rung.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

This Day in History...

July 7, 1307 - Edward I died on the way to Scotland to fight Robert the Bruce. He was succeeded by his son Edward II.

July 7, 1940 - Ringo Starr, drummer for the Beatles, was born.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Issue With Comments....

Hmmm...I have been noticing the past day or so that comments keep showing up as unpublished yet when I click to publish them they aren't showing up on the blog. I have also noticed that it may say "2 comments" on a post but yet when you click to read the comments, only one shows up (insert any numbers there...seems to be happening with random posts).

Is anyone else having comment issues?

If you have left a comment here over the past few days and you don't see it, please don't think I don't love you! :) Most likely it is hanging around in Blogger cyberspace. I promise I love getting all your comments and opinions!

*Edit* I just "published" 5 comments to three different posts and they seem to only show up when I actually click on "comments" under the post. It still shows 0 comments though!

This Day in History...

July 6, 1189 – Henry II died in France and is buried at Fontevrault Abbey. His son Richard became King of England.

July 6, 1483 - Richard III was formally crowned King of England. His reign would end a little over 2 years later.

July 6, 1535 - Sir Thomas More was beheaded for refusing to accept Henry VIII as head of the church.

July 6, 1553 – Edward VI, son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, died at Greenwich Palace. He was just 16 years old.

July 6, 1553 - Mary I, daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, acceded to the throne. She was the first queen to rule England in her own right.

What's on My Ipod - Elizabeth Woodville

If our favorite historical figures could show us their Ipods, what would be on there?

Elizabeth Woodville, wife to Edward IV, has graciously allowed us a peek into her play list.

1. Whatta Man - Salt-N-Peppa
2. Witchy Woman - Eagles
3. Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison
4. Single Ladies - Beyonce
5. Evil Woman - ELO
6. Foxy Lady - Jimi Hendrix
7. Can't Touch This - MC Hammer
8. Material Girl - Madonna
9. Love Story - Taylor Swift
10. Fell on Black Days - Soundgarden
11. Mizunderstood - Pink
12. Beautiful - Christina Aguilera
13. Behind Blue Eyes - The Who

Monday, July 5, 2010

Favorite Queen Poll!

Hello to all my readers!

I posted a poll on my sidebar and I think it will be interesting to see the final results of this one! It is "Your Favorite English Queen" and includes some big names!

Our participants:

1) Eleanor of Aquitaine - Henry II's wife, mother to Richard the Lionheart and King John

2) Elizabeth Woodville - Edward IV's queen, mother to the Princes in the Tower

3) Queen Isabella - wife to Edward II, mother of Edward III

4) Elizabeth I - daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn (really, does she need an introduction??!!)

5) Mary I - daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, married Philip of Spain

6) Lady Jane Grey - niece of Henry VIII, was Queen for only 9 days

7) Marguerite d'Anjou - Henry VI's wife

A few have already voted and there is a tie at the moment! Glance on over and leave your vote today!

Book Review: Secrets of the Tudor Court

Secrets of the Tudor Court, D.L. Bogdan
2.5/3 roses

As I am always up for a good Tudor read I was looking forward to this novel about a little known figure from history. Mary Howard was the daughter of the Duke of Norfolk and she was married to Henry VIII's illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy but that is usually all you see of her in any Tudor era novels - if she is even mentioned at all. This novel focuses in on her life from childhood, through her turbulent years at the Tudor court, and ends with her father's death a year before her own. (Though please do NOT confuse THIS book with the series by Kate Emerson! They are not the same!)

While a subject of this sort has a wide range of potential I personally felt there was something lacking. I do not think this was a bad book but something about it just missed the mark with me, though I did enjoy getting a peek at someone I had never read about before. It is a novel about a very obscure person from history (a line from her mother at the end of the novel says it all: No one will remember her) and in cases such as this there is going to be very little historical information for an author to pull from, leaving a wide scope for the author's interpretation and thoughts. So while I can't say the author's interpretation of Mary's story is inaccurate I can't say it is accurate either. I found Mary Howard a bit too much of a goody-goody and her dogged determination to love her father no matter what was a bit irritating, especially considering the horrible way he treated her and her mother (and when I say horrible I really do mean horrible). Her constant quest to find approval in her father's eyes made me want to throw up my hands in frustration as he repeatedly showed that he really didn't care. I did feel incredibly sorry for Mary since she was cheated out of the love she so desperately wanted from a husband thanks to her father's constant scheming and the scenes between Mary and Harry Fitzroy were really touching. I think they could have been a very good couple if they'd been allowed to be together. And speaking of her father, I could never decide if he hated Mary or was in love with her. Between the horrible beatings (and if a reader out there has been the victim of domestic violence I would recommend they steer clear of this book) he gave her and then the odd "making up" scenes, I was really scratching my head and feeling that there was just something not quite right there. Besides the oddness of the relationship between Mary and the Duke, there were some parts of the plot that just seemed stuck in there but really served no purpose (one example being the fate of Mary's lover Cedric, though I do understand why he had to go). Readers will get a glimpse of well known figures from Tudor history - Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Mary's brother the Earl of Surrey, etc, but the story really focuses on Mary's life and there are stretches where she is not at the royal court. While there are some interesting "side stories" in the novel, the main focus is on the relationship between Mary and her father and the fact that she was a constant pawn in her father's attempt to retain power.

I really thought the book had potential, and there were parts of it that I really enjoyed, but there were just too many odd things that left me scratching my head in the end. The epilogue by Mary's mother was really good and did strike a cord with me and seemed like a good ending to Mary's story. One thing I would have really liked would have been an author's note discussing where she got some of her information on the subject of Mary and the Howards (especially the Duke's personality). All in all I would say it was a good book, even though there were things I didn't personally like. It was an easy read and it would be a great book for someone who isn't into the really "heavy on the detail" historical fiction on the Tudors. I will certainly read another by this author as her writing was entertaining enough.

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. It is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!!

I actually picked this book up 2 Fridays ago but I was so busy last week with VBS that I didn't have time to post it on Monday!

The Book of Eleanor, Pamela Kaufman

The year of Eleanor continues! This one caught my eye while I was browsing with my Book Club gals at Barnes and Noble during our ladies night out. I haven't looked at any reviews for it so I've got my fingers crossed!

This Day in History...

Not too much today...

July 5, 1295 - Scotland and France form an alliance against England.

July 5, 1321 – Joan of the Tower, daughter of Edward II and Queen Isabella, is born at the Tower of London.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!!!!

The words to Lee Greenwood's song says it all...

Oh I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free! And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me!! And I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today. Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land, God Bless the USA!

Friday, July 2, 2010

This Day in History...

July 2, 1017 - Cnut the Great married Queen Emma. Emma was the mother of Edward the Confessor by her first marriage to King Ethelred the Unready.

July 2, 1489 - Thomas Cranmer, future Archbishop of Canterbury for Henry VIII was born.

July 2, 1937 - The last communication is heard from Amelia Earhart and her navigator as they attempted to fly around the world. They were never heard from again and their fate remains a mystery to this day.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

This Day in History...

July 1, 1838 - Charles Darwin presented a paper to the Linnaean Society in London, setting out his theory of evolution.

July 1, 1961 - Diana Spencer, former Princess of Wales, was born.

July 1, 1969 - The formal Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales at Caernarvon Castle in Wales.