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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shameless Self-Promotion!

Who likes to curl up with a good book?

You? Yes, I thought so! Me too!

And what goes great with a good book?

Correct! A yummy snack and a good drink! Y'all are just so smart!

So where can you find some really yummy food and drinks that are quick and easy to make?

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What is Tastefully Simple?

Awesome question! Tastefully Simple is the original home taste-testing company. We offer a wide variety of quick and easy to prepare, gourmet quality foods, helping people spend less time in the kitchen and more time with their friends and family.

What kind of products do you have?

Another great question! I knew I had smart readers! The company's best known products are the Bountiful Beer Bread and the Absolutely Almond Pound Cake. There are also a variety of spices, dips (cold and warm), desserts, meal starters, and
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Thank you for your support!

Sorry for the moment of shameless self promotion! ;)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Funny

Oh yes...this was so me in high school! I can't say college because in college you can leave when you are finished (and go back to your dorm and read!).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review: To Die For

To Die For, Sandra Byrd
4 roses

I was honored to receive this novel for an early review and to participate in the author's virtual book tour (details here). Sandra Byrd has written an interesting story about the life of Meg Wyatt, sister of Thomas Wyatt and close friend to Anne Boleyn.

Having read novels covering the tumultuous years of the Tudors it is always refreshing to read a novel that comes from the view point of a person that is little known to history, thus giving an old story new life. That is the case with Ms. Byrd's newest work. In To Die For the author follows the life of Margaret Wyatt, a person rarely mentioned in Tudor novels. The Boleyns and the Wyatts grew up "next door" to each other and Anne and Meg became very close friends. Meg watched Anne's fabulous rise to power and her ultimate downfall all the while having to navigate the tricky and devious ways of the Tudor Court in order to survive.

I found the book an interesting read, though not a very in depth or heavy book. As I have read countless novels covering all aspects of this time period there weren't any new historical details introduced to me but Ms Byrd did a good job of not butchering history either. However, I think this novel's strength is in showing the reader what life was really like for a courtier in Henry VIII's court - and it wasn't always pleasant. Meg has to constantly watch her step as everyone was out for personal gain and would do anything to achieve more power or money or position. I liked Meg's character as she actually had personality; she was a true and faithful friend, a strong woman, and selfless. She had to overcome quite a bit throughout the course of the story - an abusive father, a very vindictive brother, the loss of her true love to the priesthood, and the eventual loss of her friend - but these trials really helped shape her into a strong and honorable woman who I was rooting for throughout. The author's characterization of other players in this novel were wonderful as well; I honestly felt my skin crawl every time Simon or Meg's brother appeared on the page. The writing is just very well done and will carry the reader along. Ms. Byrd's wonderful details of meals and fashion and the palaces will really immerse the reader in the time period, which to me is a sign of an author who has done their homework. She blends fact and fiction together beautifully and I never had a moment where I thought something that was spoken or described seemed untrue to the times.

I can easily recommend this novel to lovers of the Tudor time period. It would be an easy and informative read for anyone just beginning to delve into the intricacies of the period. Ms. Byrd's writing is easy to read and her details and historical information will not bog a reader down.

Eavesdroppers at Hampton Court Palace - A Guest Post by Sandra Byrd

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours is celebrating the new release by Sandra Byrd To Die For and I was honored to have the author supply a guest post on a secret world at Hampton Court Palace.

Henry VIII had a famously acquisitive nature – and it wasn't limited to women. The man also had a passion for real estate. As king, he inherited many castles and palaces owned by the crown, but throughout his reign he added others by purchase, trade or payment of debt; through reclamation to the crown due to attainder; "recovering" property through the dissolution of assets formerly owned by the Roman Catholic church; and by "gift." A primary advisor in the early years of Henry's sovereignty was Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a man with tastes as extravagant as the King's and who also had the means to indulge them. When the King saw Hampton Court Palace, Cardinal Wolsey’s sumptuous, Thames-side property, he envied him of it. Knowing that he was on uncertain terms with the king, Wolsey offered Hampton Court Palace to him. Henry accepted the generous gift but did not reinstate Wolsey in his favor.

Once he owned the palace, Henry set about remodeling. One of the most beautiful reconstructions was to the Great Hall. The Great Hall was a large chamber where the king dined in public and where entertainments were often held. The hall, like everything else in Henry's court, was to be well-appointed to represent his power and glory. Historian Neville Williams claimed that masons worked round the clock for five years to complete the rebuilding of the hall to Henry's showy satisfaction. The room would have been overpowering to the senses, the tastes and smells of rich foods and spices, the feel of lush wood paneling and tightly woven tapestries, the music of players, the courtly flirtations. But high above the heads of the guests, tucked into the dark corners of the roof beams, lurked one of the Great Hall's most interesting features of all.

Fine embellishments had been carved into the ceiling beams, among them an HA crest for Henry and Anne Boleyn which remains to this day, but especially intriguing are the Eavesdroppers. The word eavesdropper has been in circulation since at least the 900s, coming from the old English, yfesdrype. It meant then just what it means now - someone listening to conversations in secret, watching and hearing without the permission or knowledge of the speakers. The cherubic, courtier faces would have smiled down upon guests, reminding all that Henry was aware of everything at his court through courtiers and servants. Even while at play there was never a time for loose tongues among long ears, as those who spoke freely often did to perilous consequence. At the Tudor Court, it was better to see nothing, hear nothing, and say nothing till you were in private chambers where eavesdroppers, one hoped, did not lurk.

Thank you again Sandra Byrd for this fabulous guest post! Below you will find information that will direct you to Ms. Bryd's website, blog, and Facebook page. Make sure to read my review of this newest Tudor novel!

Author Website/Ladies in Waiting Web Page Here
Sandra Byrd's Blog Here
Sandra Byrd's FB Page Here

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rest in Peace Richard

Richard III (Oct 2, 1452 - Aug 22, 1485)

On this day in 1485, the most maligned King in English history was killed at the Battle of Bosworth field. He was betrayed by some of his lords and was "piteously slain and murdered" (as is recorded in the York City records), paving the way for the usurper Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond (Henry VII). Thus began the Tudor Dynasty, based on a very weak and illegitimate claim to the throne, and the complete destruction of Richard's reputation.

The battle was mainly a hand-to-hand encounter (which was typical of the times), with the Stanley family (who had promised Tudor that they would desert Richard) keeping away from the fight until, at a critical moment when it was obvious which way the victory was headed, they joined Tudor. Richard, realizing that he was betrayed, cried out, "Treason, treason!" He knew he'd either leave as the King of England or dead and refused to leave the field until, overpowered by numbers, he fell dead in the middle of his enemies. He came very close to dispatching his enemy, Henry Tudor, killing his standard barer, William Brandon (the father of Henry VIII's close friend, Charles Brandon). The crown was supposedly picked up on the field of battle and placed by Sir William Stanley on the head of Tudor, who was at once proclaimed king by the whole army. After the battle Richard's body was carried to Leicester, carried naked across a horse's back, and buried without honor in the church of the Greyfriars. His death was the end of the Plantagenet Dynasty which had ruled England since the succession of Henry II in 1154.

Richard was not the villain that his enemies made him out to appear. He had good qualities, both as a man and a ruler, and seemed to have a sound judgment of political needs (he had been able to keep the North of England in peace for his brother). However, it is impossible to clear him of the crime, the popular belief that was mostly likely the chief cause of his ruin - the death of his nephews, Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, in the Tower of London. He was not a monster but a typical man in an age of strange contradictions of character, an age of refined (for the day) culture mixed with horrible cruelty, and he possessed an emotional temper that was capable of anything (he was a Plantagenet after all). Tradition represents Richard as deformed but this has never been proven. After his defeat at Bosworth, Tudor and his supporters needed to solidify his claim to the throne and what better way to do that than to make the English people think that the King he replaced was a deformed, evil monster who killed his own nephews? No one did more to cement that belief than William Shakespeare with his play Richard III (who was undoubtedly writing to please the Tudors). They were hugely successful in their endeavors and, unfortunately, this view of Richard stuck until probably the 20th century when scholars really began to study him.

Loyaulte me lie

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mailbox Monday - August 15, 2011

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme originally created by Marcia at A Girl and Her Books (formerly known as The Printed Page) and is now located here. 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.

Mailbox Monday is being hosted this month by Life in the Thumb.

The Tudor Throne, Brandy Purdy

I received Ms. Purdy's newest novel about Elizabeth and Mary today after winning it on her blog. Thanks so much! Looking forward to reading it!

Monday, August 8, 2011

George Knightley, Esquire Book Two Release Announced!

I am so excited! Barbara Cornthwaite has announced that Book Two in her retelling of Jane Austen's Emma from the wonderful Mr. Knightley's point of view will be released AUGUST 25!!

If you have not read Ms. Cornthwaite's wonderful telling of Mr. Knightley's story then you are really missing out! The author has a wonderful command of the language and culture of Regency England and Mr. Knightley is brought to life in incredible detail. It is truly a wonderful read, probably the best Austen spin-off or sequel I have read to date.

I posted a review about Book One (Charity Envieth Not) several months ago. You can read it here.

Visit Barbara Cornthwaite's blog here.

Visit her at the Crownhill Writers' website here.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

To Die For Virtual Book Tour

Sandra Byrd Virtual Book Tour
To Die For

Join Amy from Passages to the Past and fellow bloggers for this event to celebrate the release of Ms. Byrd's new novel To Die For! Reviews of the novel and special author guest posts are scheduled across several different blogs.

Make sure to keep an eye on my blog as well! My review will be posted on August 25 and I will have a guest post from the author on August 26.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Funny

Another wonderful one from Bookfessions!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Book Review: Lady of the English

Lady of the English, Elizabeth Chadwick
4 roses

I love Elizabeth Chadwick's novels and was super excited to get her newest for review. While all her novels can be read alone, this novel precedes her phenomenal The Greatest Knight which, while about the early life of William Marshal, also covers the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II. Lady of the English is an amazing look into the life of Henry II's formidable mother Matilda, Empress of Germany and heir to the crown of England.

For those not familiar with the history, Henry I (son of William the Conqueror) lost his only son and heir in a ship wreck, leaving his daughter Matilda (one time Empress of Germany) his only heir. When he died Matilda's cousin Stephen usurped the crown thus beginning a horrible period of war and strife in England. I was immediately drawn into Matilda's story - her sadness at loosing her first husband, the frustration of knowing she would be forced into another marriage to suite her father's plans, the anger after realizing the English barons were not going to support her just claim simply because she was a woman. Ms. Chadwick paints a picture of a very strong and passionate woman who is determined to gain her birthright - first for herself and then for her son - and does whatever is necessary. History seems to imply that Matilda was disliked for her pride and arrogance, that she didn't treat the barons with the respect they thought they deserved, and that she wouldn't listen to sound advice when it was given. While you certainly see some pride on Matilda's part in this novel I didn't feel that she was portrayed as overly proud or as having treated anyone in particular in a demeaning way. I found it very interesting to see how her relationship with her husband Geoffrey matured and developed throughout the novel - evolving from nothing but scorn and passion to (grudging) acceptance and the knowledge that they worked well together. I also liked seeing how the two of them raised Henry (future King of England, husband to Eleanor of Aquitaine) to be strong and proud and very well equipped to handle the quagmire of English politics. You will get glimpses of King Stephen and some of his favorites along with tantalizing scenes with John Marshal (father of the wonderful William Marshal and will make you want to read the author's novel about him!). Their characters, I felt, were not as deeply developed as some would like but I had no problem getting a feel for what their personalities were like. Alongside Matilda's story is that of her stepmother Adeliza. I really liked her character. She was quiet and obedient, did what was expected of her as a wife and mother but underneath the quiet was a woman with strength and opinions of her own. Make sure to have a tissue handy towards the end of the novel as Adeliza's story is quite sad. As with all of Ms. Chadwick's novels, she has blended fiction and superb research beautifully, creating a world that is easy for the reader to visualize. Her writing will make the reader feel like they could reach out and touch these people that lived hundreds of years ago; they become that real.

Every historical fiction fan (and even those that aren't fans) should read Ms. Chadwick's novels. They are always exceptionally researched and written and will transport you to a different time period. This novel is a great read and I highly recommend it. This author has other novels about this time period covering many of the different players and all can be read as stand alone novels or can be read in chronological order.