December 24, 2012

Reading Challenge Update!

Don't forget! All reviews must be posted/linked by midnight on the 25th of Dec. to be counted towards the Reading Challenge! I will tally it up and post a final count after Christmas.

December 13, 2012

Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge Update

I'm sorry I've been so slack on updating. I was recently hired for a new job and I have been swamped!

However, I wanted to go ahead and post the next THREE prizes (for Sept, Oct., and Nov.) for our prize pack. I will sum everything up (all reviews, entries, etc.) in a week or so with the final prizes.

September's Prize: A copy of Sandra Byrd's The Secret Keeper.


October's Prize: An Anne Boleyn "B" necklace (or whichever letter you prefer) from the Everything Tudor Store.



November's Prize:A copy of Pale Rose of England: A Novel of the Tudors by Sandra Worth.


December's prize and other prizes will be announced soon!

Don't forget. It's not too late to enter and/or submit your reviews! See this link for more information.

August 31, 2012

The Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge Updates: June, July, and August

Wow, I can't believe I've let three months go by without an update! Sorry to lump them together, again, but hey, you get three prizes as well ;)

June Entries
Lisa - Queen
Janet - Princess

June Reviews
Lady Heather Crouse has posted reviews for The Boleyn Inheritance and The Queen's Fool both by Philippa Gregory and Daughter of York by Anne Easter Smith on her tumblr.

Jenn Deguzman has posted reviews for I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles and Rival to the Queen by Carolly Erickson on her blog.

Sandi Steinberg posted a review for A Daughter's Love by John Guy on The Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge Facebook Page.

July Reviews
Sarah has posted a review for The Queen's Secret by Victoria Lamb on her blog.

Jenn Deguzman posted reviews for At The King's Pleasure by Kate Emerson and My Lady of Cleves by Margaret Campbell Barnes on her blog.

Heather Crouse posted a review for The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell on her tumblr.

August Reviews
Jenn Deguzman posted reviews for Her Mother's Daughter by Julianne Lee and The Tudor Throne by Brandy Purdy on her blog.

Erin Ingram posted her first review, The Boleyn Inheritance by Philip Gregory, on The Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge Facebook Page.

Now, for the prizes! Let's review:

So far, the prize pack includes: A copy of The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner, a set of Henry VIII and His Six Wives magnets, and a copy of Dissolution by C.K. Sansom, and All Goodly Sports: Music of Henry VIII - a CD of 34 songs composed by Henry VIII and performed by modern players and singers.


July's prize - A copy of The Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty by G.J. Meyer 



August's prize - A Tudor rose wax seal stamp (I'm going to have to get myself one of these!)



Wow. Do you guys realize we are half way through the challenge?! As always, it isn't too late to sign up! Be sure to post your reviews (or a link to your reviews) either on the Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge page at The Tudor Book Blog, or The Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge Facebook Page.

Happy reading :)

August 8, 2012

"Roses Have Thorns" Cover Are Revealed





Though Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I by Sandra Byrd isn't being released until April, we get a sneak peak at the cover art! It is lovely! I will post more soon!

June 21, 2012

And the Winner Is...

I'd like to give a huge thank you to author Susan Higginbotham for answering my questions, as well as offer a copy of her new novel as a prize! Another big thanks goes to everyone who entered! Please keep in mind that I have at least one giveaway a month, so be sure to check back in if you aren't this month's winner.

Now, without further ado, the winner is...

Tea Bird

Congratulations! Please contact me at everythingtudor(at)yahoo(dot)com within two weeks to claim your prize! 

June 13, 2012

Author Q&A with Susan Higginbotham and Giveaway

I would like to welcome author Susan Higginbotham to the Tudor Book Blog today! Thank you for offering this fascinating Q&A and a copy of your novel to one lucky reader!

1) What inspired you to start writing?

 I’ve been writing since I was old enough to scribble, so that’s a hard question to answer! I wanted to be a writer since I was very young, although I’ve taken a couple of detours along the way to publication of my novels.

2) Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a certain space or routine you work within?

I work full-time, so my biggest challenge is finding the time to write and not letting myself get distracted by other things, such as posting on Facebook. My writing space is simply a corner of the kitchen, and I do most of my writing at night when the house is quiet. 

3) What books or authors have most influenced your writings?

 My favorite authors are Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, Anne Tyler, Barbara Pym, and P.D. James. I don’t pretend to be on the same level as any of these writers, but I’ve tried to learn from them—especially in their depiction of character.
With historical fiction, I’ve learned a lot about how to write a good historical novel by reading authors such as Sharon Penman, Jean Plaidy, Margaret George, and Margaret Campbell Barnes.

4) What inspired your book Her Highness, the Traitor?

I read Leandra de Lisle’s biography of Jane Grey and her sisters, The Sisters Who Would Be Queen, and was fascinated at how different the historical Frances Grey, Jane’s mother, was from the way I’d always seen her portrayed in books about Jane. I decided to make Frances’s story into a novel. When I was doing the research, I encountered some writings by Jane Grey’s mother-in-law, Jane Dudley, Duchess of Northumberland, and they moved me so much I decided to give half of the novel over to her.

5) Which character(s) did you relate to the most? The least?

Probably Jane, the Duchess of Northumberland was the one I most related to. Not much is known about her personality, except that she was devoted to her husband and didn’t seem to get on very well with her daughter-in-law Jane, so I was free to endow her with some of my own sterling qualities!
I found Mary I the most difficult character to relate to. It’s hard for our modern mindset to understand how a woman who in many ways was very likable could condemn nearly 300 Protestants to death by burning and could send young people like Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley to the block. It’s also very hard, I think, for us to understand those people who were willing to die a horrible death for their religious beliefs.

6) What was the hardest part of writing this book? The easiest?

I love doing research, so the hardest part for me of writing this book, or any book, is to stop researching and start getting on with the much more difficult task of writing!
In some ways, this was the easiest book I’ve had to research, because so many primary sources relating to the Tudor period are online, and in English. On the other hand, the sheer volume of material sometimes became overwhelming.

7) What other time periods interest you?

 I’m particularly interested in the reign of Edward II and the Wars of the Roses, and have written novels set during this period. Generally, I’m interested in English history from around the thirteenth century through the seventeenth century, in the American Civil War, and in revolutionary France.

8) Do you have any advice for other writers?

Too many would-be writers wait for that perfect moment to start writing—when their children are older, when they’re retired, when they have a “room of their own” to write in, and so forth. My advice would be to forget all of these things and to start writing now. You’d be surprised how much writing time you can squeeze in, particularly when you give up nonproductive activities such as watching television and—er—surfing the Internet.

9) What is your current project?

I’m working on a novel about another niece of Henry VIII, Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, who sent her son Lord Darnley to court Mary, Queen of Scots, with fatal results.

About Susan Higginbotham

Susan Higginbotham is the author of four historical novels, including The Stolen Crown, The Queen of Last Hopes, and Hugh and Bess.  The Traitor's Wife, her first novel, is the winner of ForeWord Magazine's 2005 Silver Award for historical fiction and is a Gold Medalist, Historical/Military Fiction, 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards. She writes her own historical fiction blog and is a contributor to the blog Yesterday Revisited. Higginbotham has worked as an editor and an attorney, and lives in North Carolina with her family.

To purchase Susan’s latest release, Her Highness, the Traitor please go here.

_______________________________________________

Thanks so much for the fascinating Q&A! Now, for the Giveaway:

To enter once to win a copy of Her Highness, the Traitor:

1) Leave a comment here (+1)

2) To increase your chances of winning:
Thus, you can "enter" up to 4 times to win! If you do any of the above, or already have, make sure to say so in your comment to receive the extra points!


You have until June 20th to enter. The winner will be announced on June 21st. Good luck!

June 12, 2012

The Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge Updates #4 and #5

I can't believe I let two months go by without an update! I'm going to combine the last two into one.

A huge welcome to those who joined us in April:

Sylwia
Ralphine

A few new reviews have been posted for April and May:

Lady Heather Crouse - Reviewed The Other Boleyn Girl at her Tumblr blog.

Sandi - Reviewed Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII and Two Tudor Portraits: Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey and Lady Katherine Grey, both at The Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge Page.

Jenn Deguzman from A Bookworm's Love added a review for The Favored Queen.

Bridgett from The Tudor Cafe has posted At the Mercy of the Queen and The Virgin and the Crab.

Trisha has added a review for The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir on the TRG Facebook Page.

If I missed any April or May updates, let me know!

I am adding a new prize this month!

So far, the prize pack includes: A copy of The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner, a set of Henry VIII and His Six Wives magnets, and a copy of Dissolution by C.K. Sansom.

The new prize is: All Goodly Sports: Music of Henry VIII - a CD of 34 songs composed by Henry VIII and performed by modern players and singers. I have thoroughly enjoyed my copy and highly recommend it!


June 5, 2012

The Secret Keeper by Sandra Byrd

Sandra Byrd's latest novel, The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Katherine Parr, has been released today! It is the second book in her Ladies in Waiting Series. According to the publisher:
Juliana St. John is the daughter of a prosperous knight. Though her family wants her to marry the son of her father's business partner, circumstances set her on a course toward the court of Henry VIII and his last wife, Kateryn Parr.     Sir Thomas Seymour, uncle of the current heir, Prince Edward, returns to Wiltshire to tie up his concerns with Juliana's father's estate and sees instantly that Juliana would fit into the household of the woman he loves, Kateryn Parr. Her mother agrees to have her placed in Parr's household for "finishing" and Juliana goes, though perhaps reluctantly.      For she knows a secret. She has been given the gift of prophecy, and in one of her visions she has seen Sir Thomas shredding the dress of the king's daughter, the lady Elizabeth, to perilous consequence.    As Juliana learns the secrets of King Henry VIII's court, she faces threats and opposition, learning truths about her own life that will undo everything she holds dear.
I will be hosting a giveaway starting later this week, as well as posting my review of the novel. Be sure to get your copy!

Check out Sandra's site here, as well as the amazon page.

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Fall of Anne Boleyn - A Count Down by Claire Ridgway

Be sure to check out Claire's guest post at The Tudor Tattler, and enter to win an Anne Boleyn shirt!


May 3, 2012

All About Anne: The Theatre and The Book

Reading through my e-mail I have found a lot on Anne Boleyn. It isn't surprising considering May 19th is the anniversary of her execution. I thought some of the things I found would be interesting to many of you, especially those who are "Team Boleyn," like myself :)

The new and well-reviewed play Anne Boleyn has moved to Bath for the next few days! If you are in the area, go! To entice you more (besides the fact that it's about Anne...) here are a few tidbits:

The trailer for the play:


An interesting article discussing the many faces of Anne Boleyn, including that portrayed in the above play. And, a review for the play. If you go, let me know! I'd love to know opinions on it!

Secondly, there has been a lot on Hilary Mantel's Bringing Up the Bodies, the squeal to the award winning Wolf Hall. Here's a link to a review for the book from The New York Times,  as well as one from The New Yorker. It is quite long and very detailed with several excerpts. It also attempts to delve into the character of Thomas Cromwell. I also really loved the mocked up portrait of Hillary as Anne!


Finally, here's the link to a podcast discussing the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it as the speakers discussed the book's chances of winning the Man Booker Prize, as well as read excerpts, such as the execution of Anne Boleyn.

May 2, 2012

And the Winner of April's Giveaway Is...


I would like to thank author Robert Parry for his amazing novel The Virgin and the Crab, and a huge congratulations for its 3rd birthday!

Now, what you have all been waiting for! The winner of April's giveaway is...

Eliza

Congratulations! Please contact me at everythingtudor "at" yahoo.com (minus spaces and with @) to claim your prize. Please claim within two weeks! 

To the rest of you, thank you so much for entering! Please remember that there is a giveaway every month, so be sure to check back for May's giveaway soon!


April 25, 2012

Author Guest Post and Giveaway: The Virgin and the Crab by Robert Parry

Today author Robert Parry is joining us with a guest post to celebrate the third birthday of his fantastic novel The Virgin and the Crab!

He has also generously donated a copy of this novel to be given away to one lucky winner! There are several ways to enter:

To initially enter and get your name in the pot once, simply leave a comment here. If you would like to get your name in a second time, simply "like" Robert Parry's Facebook Page. For a third shot, "like" Everything Tudor's Facebook Page.

Let me know in your comment here which page (or both) you have liked. If you previously liked them, let me know, as it counts too!

*Note: Your comment here might not appear immediately. I have to approve all comments, so please be patient! Thank you!

You must enter by May 1st. The winner will be randomly drawn and announced on May 2nd.

Now, please welcome author Robert Parry!

Thank you Elizabeth for joining with me in celebrating the 3rd Birthday of my novel ‘Virgin and the Crab.’ Your review from a couple of years back was among the first it ever received, and I’m so pleased that we can re-visit it again here today.


Since publication of the first edition in April of 2009, the book itself has continued to be enjoyed by more and more people, sales are steady, and I have continued writing, having published a further novel last year (The Arrow Chest) and another in the pipeline.


For those who have not heard of this story before, the title ‘Virgin and the Crab’ refers to the two principle characters therein – the Virgin (Virgo) for Elizabeth Tudor and the Crab (Cancer) for John Dee – one of the most remarkable men of the Tudor age, a mathematician, alchemist, astrologer and spy. The action takes place in the middle years of the 16th century during a period in which the throne of England saw no less than two kings and three queens all in the space of twelve years. This was the aftermath of the Reformation, of course, and was also one of the most dangerous and unpredictable times to be alive.

The novel questions whether during all this upheaval there might have been a secret society of dedicated men and women who worked behind the scenes, committed to guiding and protecting Elizabeth and steering a path for her through to safety. The society would have been based on a close network of Cambridge scholars, at the hub of which we find people such as Dee and also William Cecil who of course went on to become Elizabeth’s Chief Minister. Along the way we meet with the tragic demise of young King Edward, the ruthless plot to install Lady Jane Grey as Queen, the subsequent resistance and succession of Mary, the rebellion by Thomas Wyatt, aiming to halt her proposed marriage to a foreign prince, and then the back-lash of a brutal counter-Reformation in which such terrible cruelties were inflicted upon the English people – all set against the amazing story of Elizabeth herself and the series of dangers and obstacles she had to negotiate on her path towards the throne.

Well, all this sounds like I have given away a huge amount of spoilers here, but in fact the story itself is about so much more than the political machinations of the times. It is also Dee’s story, which is every bit as remarkable and about which I am not going to say very much at all. The subtitle, meanwhile, ‘Sketches, Fables and Mysteries …’ should serve to suggest that there is plenty more going on beneath the surface. I hope you will enter the contest to win a copy here on Everything Tudor.


My webpage can be found on: http://robertparry.wordpress.comAnd perhaps I will get to meet you sometime on my Facebook page, as well: https://www.facebook.com/RobertParry.author


I reviewed this novel back in 2010. Be sure to read my review here

April 12, 2012

Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge Update #3

Firstly, I'd like to welcome our new members joining in March!

Queen Stephanie Ann
Sarah
Cindy Brehmer
Memory
Michelle L. Hamilton
Jenn Deguzman
Jen M. Hart
Lady Heather Crouse
Sandi Steinberg

New Reviews posted in March:

Jen has reviewed both The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir and The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory at The Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge Page.

Bridget from The Tudor Cafe reviewed The Arrow Chest by Robert Parry at her site.

Jenn Deguzman reviewed The Queen's Captive by Barbara Kyle at her site, A Bookworm's Love.

 Jasmine has reviewed both Tudor Rose...by Margaret Campbell Barnes, Lady Jane Grey and the House of Suffolk by Alison Plowden, The Boleyns: The Rise and Fall of a Tudor Family by David Loades, Dark Fire by C.J. Samson, The Sisters of Henry VIII by Maria Perry, and Dear Henry: Confessions of the Queens byJudith Anthrop on Facebook.

If I missed any March reviews, I apologize! Please let me know and I will gladly update the update!

I meant to post this new item to the giveaway last time, but forgot! I'm sorry! So today you get TWO new items added!

Remember that the first item you get is a copy of The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner. The second item is Henry VIII and Six Wives Magnet Set (from the lovely Anne Boleyn Files). And thirdly, (yes, it's another book!) a copy of Dissolution, a murder-mystery set in Tudor Times by C.J. Sanson.


I will be adding a new item every month this year until the Challenge is complete! Don't forget, there are several ways to win:

1) The winner of the prize pack will be randomly drawn from those who complete their challenge goal and receive all 12 items I will list throughout the challenge!

2) The competitor who reads the most books will receive a $25.00 gift card to amazon.com, as well as two other prizes (which will be listed throughout the competition).

3) I am also working on a special gift for everyone who has participated in the Challenge. More on that soon! :)

Don't forget, you can still sign up! Either enter on the Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge Page, or on Facebook!

March 29, 2012

A Few New Releases: An Unfaithful Queen, A Kingmaker's Daughter, a Mistress and a Time Traveler

Here are a few upcoming releases I wanted to mention:

The Unfaithful Queen: A Novel of Henry VIII's Fifth Wife by Carolly Erickson

This novel follows the Katheryn Howard, the ill-fated fifth wife of King Henry VIII. According to Library Journal,
"Having given us the New York Times best-selling The Last Wife of Henry VIII (along with lots of other historical fiction and nonfiction titles), Erickson steps back to Henry’s penultimate bride, the vivacious Catherine Howard, who didn't bother to inform Henry that she’d had three lovers before him. And thus, with his disillusionment and her failure to produce a son, even as the succession was threatened by Prince Edward’s serious illness, Catherine met the fate of her cousin Anne Boleyn. Yummy for Anglophiles."

I'm curious to see how sympathetic (and accurate) this novel with be towards Katheryn. It will be available Sept. 18th in the USA.


The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory continues her Cousins' War series with The Kingmaker's Daughter. Accorging to amazon,

"The Kingmaker’s Daughter is the gripping and ultimately tragic story of the daughters of the man known as the “Kingmaker,” the most powerful magnate in England through the Cousins’ Wars. In the absence of a son and heir, he uses the two girls as pawns in his political games, but they grow up to be influential players in their own right. In this novel, her first sister story since The Other Boleyn Girl, Gregory explores the lives of two fascinating young women.
At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child brought up in intimacy and friendship with the family of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Her will is tested when she is left widowed and fatherless, with her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy. Fortune’s wheel turns again when Richard rescues Anne from her sister’s house, with danger still following Anne, even as she eventually ascends to the throne as queen. Having lost those closest to her, she must protect herself and her precious only child, Prince Edward, from a court full of royal rivals."
This novel will be available on August 14th for those in the USA, and the 16th for those in the UK.

Bessie Blount: Mistress to Henry VIII by Elizabeth Norton

I am interested to read this one. I want to see what Norton has dug up, as there isn't a lot of historical evidence on Elizabeth "Bessie" Blount.

According to amazon, "Beautiful, young, exuberant, the amazing life of Elizabeth Blount, Henry VIII's mistress and mother to his first son who came tantalizingly close to succeeding him as King Henry IX. The earliest known, and longest lasting mistress of Henry VIII, Bessie Blount was the king's first love. More beautiful than Anne Boleyn or any of Henry's other wives or concubines, Bessie's beauty and other charms ensured that she turned heads, winning a place at court as one of Catherine of Aragon's ladies. Within months she was partnering the king in dancing and she rose to be the woman with the most influence over Henry, much to Catherine of Aragon's despair. The affair lasted five years (longer than most of Henry's marriages) and in 1519 she bore Henry VIII a son, Henry Fitzroy. As a mark of his importance Cardinal Wolsey was appointed his guardian and godfather. Supplanted soon after by Mary Boleyn, Bessie's importance rests on the vital proof it gave Henry VIII that he could father a healthy son and through Henry Fitzroy, Bessie remained a prominent figure at court. In the country at large, for proving that the king was capable of fathering a son Bessie prompted the saying 'Bless'ee, Bessie Blount' and her position of mother of such an important child made her an object of interest to many of her contemporaries. Sidelined by historians until now, Bessie and the son she had by the king are one of the great 'what ifs' of English history. If Jane Seymour had not produced a male heir and Bessie's son had not died young aged 17, in all likelihood Henry Fitzroy could have followed his father as King Henry IX and Bessie propelled to the status of mother of the king."

This biography was released in November 2011. You can read more about it on amazon.

The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer.

According to amazon, "We think of Queen Elizabeth I as 'Gloriana': the most powerful English woman in history. We think of her reign (1558-1603) as a golden age of maritime heroes, like Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Richard Grenville and Sir Francis Drake, and of great writers, such as Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare. But what was it actually like to live in Elizabethan England? If you could travel to the past and walk the streets of London in the 1590s, where would you stay? What would you eat? What would you wear? Would you really have a sense of it being a glorious age? And if so, how would that glory sit alongside the vagrants, diseases, violence, sexism and famine of the time?
In this book Ian Mortimer answers the key questions that a prospective traveller to late sixteenth-century England would ask. Applying the groundbreaking approach he pioneered in his bestselling Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England, the Elizabethan world unfolds around the reader."

The Independent has written a nice review for it here.

March 28, 2012

The Tudor Book Blog Book Reviews: The Lady and the Poet




The Lady and the Poet by Maeve Haran

*Warning, there are several spoilers in this review!

Background:

This novel is centered around Lady Ann More, and focuses on the last years of Elizabeth I's reign. Ann is a young girl, about 14, who is one of four daughters to Sir George More and niece to Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Keeper of the Seal. She meets John Donne, a poet and secretary to Ann's uncle, the Lord Keeper. The two fall in love and eventually marry in secret, much to the horror of Ann's father and uncle.

According to the author, "The Lady and the Poet, based on fact and also on imagination, tells an extraordinary and little-known love story and attempts to paint a picture, my picture, of the Ann who is absent from history."

Review:

A young, and dashing, John Donne
Before beginning this book, I knew next to nothing about Ann More or John Donne. Because of this, I think I enjoyed the book all the more. Normally when I read books on the Tudor period, I am slightly distracted by historical accuracy, or knowing what is coming next. Here, however, I waited until I finished the book to look into the history behind it.

When delving into the history, I was pleasantly surprised to find how accurate it was! I always love authors that stick to history. Maeve Haran professes that John Donne has been her lifelong passion. I found it interesting then that she wrote the book from Ann's point of view. As she points out in her post script, little is known about Ann. She is only vaguely remembered by history as the wife of John Donne. There is no portrait of her, nor much historical evidence. However, Haran does a masterful job of bringing Ann to life. She clearly follows the events in Donne's life, but fills in the gaps with wonderfully written fiction.

Though Ann is a nobleman's daughter, she goes on many adventures throughout London alone. Haran really brings late Elizabethan London to life, describing the swarms of abandoned children and rampant stink. It is nothing like the romanticized London many have come to know through films and plays. Rather, it is a cesspool of filth and poverty.

Loseley, where Ann spent much time pining after Donne
Ann, in another extreme, also makes a trip to court where she encounters Queen Elizabeth. She is shown as a jealous, and almost insane, woman bent on mortifying her ladies and jealously holding on to her favorites. I actually really loved seeing this outside perspective of Elizabeth. I must admit, I am glad Ann did not take a position at court. I was not really interested in this becoming another Elizabeth novel. Rather, you really get a sense of life outside the court during Elizabeth's reign, rather than within it. 

Though I found the novel wonderfully written and the characters beautifully developed, I found myself disliking Ann at times. She constantly pines after Donne and does little to stop it. The two eventually profess their love for each other, then spend months (and at one point a year) apart. She does not attempt to see him, write him, or do much of anything to let him know she misses him. Rather, she mopes around, complains, and becomes depressed when she doesn't hear from him. I honestly had a hard time trusting Donne. Throughout the novel I wondered if he was paying Ann lip service, if he really loved her and was willing to do what it took to be with her. Ann wonders these things herself. She eventually finds out that he did really love her, but that his letters were intercepted. However, she then waits around to write him again! Perhaps I am being a little harsh, as she was under strict supervision by her family, but she still managed to secretly marry the man. The least she could do was get him a letter in a speedy manner...

"The Flea," one of Donne's most
popular poems.
That aside, I really liked Ann. She never let herself be stopped by societal restrictions. She married the man she loved, despite the fact that there was absolutely no benefit to it, and more likely extreme danger to it. Both give up their lives for this marriage; Ann her family and Donne his position. They are forced to leave London and live on a small estate with a member of Ann's family. However, some of Donne's greatest poetry came out of this time period.

When the marriage is finally discovered by Ann's father, it is not in the way I (or Ann) expected. Donne sends a letter to Ann's father via a nobleman. I felt it was a bit cowardly. Certainly, for honor's sake (and to be far more entertaining), Donne should have confronted Ann's father himself. However, he does at least tell him of it. Donne quickly finds himself imprisoned, despite not showing up himself to tell. He nearly dies in prison, but thanks to Ann's intervention with her father and uncle, is finally released. I felt this part of the book had a lot of lead up and a slightly disappointing climax. I felt because of this, the end was a bit rushed. I wish the author had gone into more detail about Ann and Donne's life after their marriage rather than briefly covering it in a postscript. However, the rest of the book certainly makes up for it. 

I was sad to read in the postscript that Ann dies in childbirth years later. Donne never remarried. I would love the author to write a companion to this novel from Donne's point of view. I think his view would be quite different and extremely interesting.

I give this novel four and a half Tudor Roses.



I loved it and highly recommend it to those who know a lot or nothing about Elizabethan England. It is easy to read and very engrossing.

*Note: A big thank you to the author for sending me a copy! I can't wait to read your next work!

March 19, 2012

And the Winner is...

The winner of a signed copy of The Anne Boleyn Collection and tote is....

Helen Harris

Yay! A HUGE thank you to all who entered the March Giveaway. I was overwhelmed by the interest and appreciation. Thank you so much! I know Claire is very very excited and appreciative of everyones' support as well! Thanks again! Be sure to check back for our April giveaway soon!

*Helen, please send me an e-mail at everythingtudor "at" yahoo.com to claim your prize. :)



March 12, 2012

Q&A with Claire on The Anne Boleyn Collection and Giveaway

I am so happy to welcome Claire Ridgway from the Anne Boleyn Files to The Tudor Book Blog today! 

About Your Book and Your Writing:


How did you get the idea for The Anne Boleyn Collection?
It was actually the idea of Dr Linda Saether, a wonderful lady who has followed The Anne Boleyn Files from the start and who I've had the pleasure to meet twice (on our tours). Linda emailed me and said that she thought it would be great if I could celebrate the website's three year anniversary with a published collection of our most popular articles. It wasn't quite as easy as that because I had to rewrite, re-research and I also wanted to add new content too.


Can you give us a little background on the book, such as its overall theme or design?
The book is a celebration of The Anne Boleyn Files and a way of getting the real truth about Anne Boleyn and Tudor history out there. My aim with the website was always to dig for the real truth, using primary sources, and then present it in a way that was readable by people from all walks of life. So, the theme, as always is “the REAL truth”. The cover design is an image we had made from Anne's own falcon badge, the one from her copy of The Ecclesiaste which was a manuscript presented to her brother, George, who translated the work for her. We also added an Anne image in the background – I like to think that it symbolizes that Anne is slightly hidden from us!


What is your writing process from start to finish? (For example, your writing environment, inspiration, etc.)
I start with research and that is the bulk of what I do. I have so many books and documents now and I keep a list of sources I've used and what's in them so I know where to go when I'm writing. My work space is very cluttered and I'm surrounded by bookcases which are overpacked with books so don't ask me to take a photo as it looks awful!
My inspiration for articles often comes from a question someone has asked me or a comment I've read online. I often get on my soapbox when I feel that the Boleyns are being misrepresented or something is downright wrong. My inspiration for my book projects is always in keeping with my mission – to educate people about the real truth as much as I can.


Do you have any writers whom you consider mentors, or that you take inspiration from?
I don't have a mentor as such but I admire historians like Eric Ives, Suzannah Lipscomb, Leanda de Lisle, John Guy and Linda Porter. They are all historians who, I feel, write very readable books but which also focus on evidence. Suzannah told me a few months ago that I needed to get my work published and out there, so I did what I was told!
Two other people who have inspired me and motivated me are childhood teachers. When I was 11, we had to write a story about a secret island ( a bit like the Famous Five) and I got very carried away and wrote well over 20 pages when the rest of the class just did a page. My teacher, Mr Taylor, told me that one day I would be an author and that has stuck with me. My secondary school history teacher, Mrs Sagi, gave me the “history bug” and sparked off my interest in the European Reformation. She was an excellent teacher and really motivated me. I heard from her the other day and she told me that Eric Ives was her tutor at university so perhaps that's why I like Professor Ives so much!


What is your favorite part about writing?
Getting carried away, either with the research element or the writing. I'm like a dog with a bone and I have to get to the bottom of things and then when inspiration strikes I have to go and write, and write, and write. Quite often, I'll still be in my pyjamas at lunchtime because inspiration struck me and I couldn't stop.


What do you find the most challenging when writing?
Striking a balance with regards to my family. It can be hard for our children because both Tim and I work from home so we're physically there but we're also working. I can get carried away and work too much and that's not good for the kids.


What is the most interesting or surprising thing you learned while writing your book?
I think with this book, I found it interesting researching “the lost Boleyns”, Anne Boleyn's brothers. My research led me down so many different avenues and had me reading books on monumental brasses and talking to the Monumental Brass Society – crazy!


Do you have plans for any books in the future?
Yes! I've been working on various projects over the past couple of years – a book on the fall of Anne Boleyn, one on Anne Boleyn and another on the Boleyn family.


Do you think you will ever get into writing historical fiction?
Fiction was where I started. I still have the manuscripts of “The Secret Island” and “Death on the Slopes” and they do make me chuckle now! I got a bit bored with the murder mystery one and killed everyone off in the end! Seriously, though, I would love to get back to writing fiction one day, but not at the moment.


General Questions about Yourself:


What is your favorite non-Tudor related book?
I haven't got one favourite so I'll list a few:-
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
The Return by Victoria Hislop
The Harry Potter series
I also love Patricia Cornwell and Stieg Larsson


Do any other time periods interest you?
Yes, the Victorian era. As a family, we loved watching “The Victorian Farm” and “The Victorian Pharmacy” on TV and the way of life in Victorian times just fascinates me.


What are your hopes for your site in the future? Are you currently working on anything new to add to it?
I love the way that The Anne Boleyn Files has become a community, rather than just a website, so making sure that people feel welcome and part of it. Daniela, who makes our “The Tudors” jewellery, is always working on new designs and I just leave her to it, I concentrate on the research and writing.


Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Go for it but be prepared for hard work. I know that some people will think that I've just been lucky with how the book is selling, but it's actually the result of three years full time work and research, plus lots of support and encouragement from AB Files followers and the Tudor history community. It's been quite a journey and there have been times when I've wanted to give it all up because I've got rather burned out, but then I get a lovely email or I find something in my research to motivate me.
Also, don't listen to the 'nay sayers'. People will tell you that you just can't do it and that you're not good enough, just smile politely and do it anyway. :)


I happy to also be hosting a fabulous giveaway along with the Q&A. The prizes? A signed copy of The Anne Boleyn Collection as well as an Anne Boleyn tote bag! To enter, please leave a comment below! You can enter until midnight on 3/18. The winner will be randomly drawn and announced on 3/19. Anyone can enter. Good luck!






March 7, 2012

Hilary Mantel's Bringing Up the Bodies


Hilary Mantel's new work, Bringing Up the Bodies is the sequel to the Man Booker-winning Wolf Hall.


I have a confession to make. I have yet to read Wolf Hall. I know, I know! Bad Tudor Book Blogger! But I promise, it is at the top of my list. Regardless, I am very excited about it, though a little unsure about the title...

Synopsis:

By 1535 Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith’s son, is far from his humble origins. Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife, for whose sake Henry has broken with Rome and created his own church. But Henry’s actions have forced England into dangerous isolation, and Anne has failed to do what she promised: bear a son to secure the Tudor line. When Henry visits Wolf Hall, Cromwell watches as Henry falls in love with the silent, plain Jane Seymour. The minister sees what is at stake: not just the king’s pleasure, but the safety of the nation. As he eases a way through the sexual politics of the court, its miasma of gossip, he must negotiate a ‘truth’ that will satisfy Henry and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge undamaged from the bloody theatre of Anne’s final days.

In ‘Bring up the Bodies’, sequel to the Man Booker Prize-winning ‘Wolf Hall’, Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn. This new novel is a speaking picture, an audacious vision of Tudor England that sheds its light on the modern world. It is the work of one of our great writers at the height of her powers.

I'm not going to lie. It sounds good! I know there have be a ton of novels written on Anne Boleyn, but I think that Mantel's style and deliverance of the events of May 1536 will offer a refreshing look. We shall see!

It is due for release on May 10, 2012 in the UK and May 22, 2012 in the USA.

March 5, 2012

Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge Update # 2

Here's the 2nd update for our Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge!

Members:

January Members:
Yvonne
Andrea
Anthony
Andrew
Elean
Kim
Trish
Jen
Leaigh Ann
Joy
Bridgette

February Members:
Kellie
Ashley
Sarah (1)
Raina
Jasmine

March Members:
Stephanie
Sarah (2)

Wow! I'm blown away by all the participants so far! Thanks everyone!

New Reviews for February:
* Bridgette at The Tudor Cafe: Le Temp Viendra and The Other Boleyn Girl.
* Jasmine on Facebook: Plain Jane: A Novel of Jane Seymour, Dissolution, Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne, and The Anne Boleyn Collection.
* Elean on Facebook: Elizabeth: Red Rose of the House of Tudor
* Trish on Facebook: Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Jane Grey
* Sarah (1) at The Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge: Murder Most Royal, The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, and Threads.
* Jen at The Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge: Bloody Mary.
Whew! I think that's it. If I missed anyone PLEASE let me know! There is a lot going on so I wouldn't be surprised if I accidentally missed a review or two here or there.

If you haven't joined yet, you still can! Please sign up at The Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge page. You can post your reviews there, the Facebook Page, or link from your own website.

March 1, 2012

New Updates

I haven't done a news update on the blog in a while, so there are a few things I would like to point out:

Firstly, I mentioned this a while back, but I thought I would re-mention it. Many of the most famous documents, such as Henry VIII's divorce plea and Galileo's heresy trial records, from the Vatican's Secret Archives are going to be on display in a special exhibition.

Here's an article detailing more about the exhibit.

There is also a podcast on the exhibit. Listen to it here.
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Secondly, I mentioned this on Facebook, but thought it certainly deserved a mention here; Several rare letters, including one from Jane Seymour to Henry VIII (detailing the birth of their son) have been found.


Be sure to check out this article for more details.
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Nextly, ever wonder what a pre-Reformation church in England looked like? Now you can catch a glimpse by visiting the South Leigh Church in Oxfordshire.
Beneath a layer of whitewash, intriguing paintings depicting doomsday were discovered in the late 1800's. They have been restored and now give the viewer a glimpse of what medieval and early Tudor subjects would have seen while attending church services. According to this article, these images "are a dramatic and unique representation of an early church’s teaching to village people who were unable to read and write."
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Site Related News

I would like to mention that The Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge is really picking up! We have had a few new entries this month, as well as a lot of new reviews. 


Be sure to sign up here


A new post will be up in the next day or so reviewing the progress for Feb. as well as revealing the next prize in the Tudor Prize Pack! 
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And finally, Claire from The Anne Boleyn Files will be stopping by Everything Tudor Mon. March 12th for a special interview as part of her virtual blog tour for her new book The Anne Boleyn Collection. Be sure to tune in for that, as well as enter for a chance to win a signed copy of the book and an Anne Boleyn Tote bag!

February 16, 2012

Tudor Book Blog Review: To Die For


To Die For by Sandra Byrd

Synopsis:

The first of the Ladies in Waiting Series, this novel follows the story of Meg Wyatt, sister of Thomas Wyatt and best friend of Anne Boleyn. Beginning when she is a young girl, the novel follows Meg as she marries an older man, moves to court to be a lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine of Aragon, and later as she serves as Anne's Mistress of the Robes, following her Queen and friend to the Tower and the block.

 A Little History:  

A portrait by Hans Holbein, thought to be of
Margaret in her later years.
The novel involves many real life characters, such as Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, members of the Wyatt family, and, of course, Margaret "Meg" Wyatt. Despite Meg being a real person, the author notes that her character is not this particular Meg. However, there are a few similarities between the historical Margaret and the semi-fictional Meg.

The real Margaret Wyatt, Lady Lee, was born about the same time as Anne (around 1506), and was known to be a very close companion of the ill fated Queen. Her brother Thomas Wyatt, the poet, was also a close friend of Anne's. She did serve as Anne's Mistress of the Robes, and accompanied Anne on many important events, such as the 1532 trip to Calais, Anne's coronation, and even thought to have been on the scaffold during Anne's beheading. Legend has it that Anne gave Margaret her prayer book before her death with a message inscribed inside "Remember me when you do pray, that hope doth lead from day to day."

Review:

When I first picked up this book to read I was a bit apprehensive. The title did not appeal to me much, nor did the cover art. However, I'm glad I lived by the saying "never judge a book by its cover" and read on. This novel is quite good, really delving into life at the Tudor court. I love that it is about Anne Boleyn, as she is my favorite Tudor, but not about her directly. It is told through the eyes of her best friend, Meg Wyatt. Meg is easy to relate to, and easy to like. 

Anne herself is also portrayed as likeable also. Though she does, obviously, become involved in the politics and treachery of the day, it is really Henry who is the villain in the story. He is shown as overbearing and two faced. He is happy and jovial one second, and cutting off someone's head the next. I feel it is a fairly accurate portrayal of him, he who did not hesitate to get rid of those who did not give him what he wanted. Anne, however, is shown as gracefully, and really a victim of the times. Even in Henry's pursuit of Anne, she is portrayed as genuinely loving him, not as the scheming witch often shown in novels. I liked this, though felt at times it was a bit too sympathetic and slightly unrealistic.

Two things about this novel really struck me:

1) Sandra isn't afraid to bring real religion into the novel. She really explores some interesting questions as the main character, at times, questions her faith. I think it is a great way to really show what many during the Reformation, and even today, struggle with.

2) The execution scene. I have read many an execution scene in Tudor novels. This one got me. Being told from the point of view of one of Anne's ladies was an excellent way to go. Most who have read about Anne's execution know that she was quickly and quietly buried in an arrow chest after her decapitation by her ladies in waiting. However, reading it from a historical point of view, then reading it from a "witness" point of view is quiet different. As Meg and the other ladies gathered Anne and buried her remains, I felt sick to my stomach, much as Meg did. I had to hold back tears, thinking how shocking and traumatic that must have been for Anne's close friends. Can you imagine? I find it hard to. Props to Sandra for this gripping scene.

However, a few cliches did stick out to me; the overbearing father who doesn't hesitate to slap his daughter, the slimy suitor who Meg has to avoid at all costs, and the unrequited love of her childhood friend. Thankfully, these cliches didn't really detract from the story. They helped keep the focus more on Meg, rather than the "Great Matter," which often consumes these types of novels.



Overall, I give this novel Four out of Five Tudor Roses. It is a very good book, and very easy to read. I enjoyed it and would recommend. However, I caution that it does take a little background in Tudor History to really keep up with and understand a lot of the events in the novel. I wouldn't recommend it as a very first novel set in the Tudor period. This isn't a bad thing. Rather, I think it is a compliment that the author did her research and presented it in an intellectual manner. I really look forward to reading the next installment in this series.

For more on Sandra Byrd and her novels, please visit her website and like her on Facebook!

A big thanks to the author for offering a copy of her novel to me, as well as one for a giveaway!




February 14, 2012

The Anne Boleyn Collection

Exciting news! Fellow blogger Claire from The Anne Boleyn Files has written a book! It is titled The Anne Boleyn Collection and consists of some of the best articles and debate from her site. It is due out in March 2012.


Be sure to read more about it at the book's official site.

Congratulations Claire! Can't wait to read it :)

February 12, 2012

"The Secret Keeper" By Sandra Byrd



I found some exciting news today! Sandra Byrd, author of "To Die For," has the second book in her Ladies in Waiting series up for release on June 5th!


I am almost done with her first novel, about Anne Boleyn and her good friend Meg Wyatt. I have really enjoyed it (though I have how long it has taken me to get my review up - but that's how life is sometimes). I look forward to reading more of her work!


In the meantime, here's an excerpt from her novel, directly from her site:
Pieces of her black gown fell to the ground, one by one, like the locks of a condemned woman shorn before execution, though he stayed himself from touching her bright red hair before sheathing his dagger again. Her woeful face betrayed that she knew this would be her utter undoing. The gown was ruined and the black clumps, which had plummeted to the ground, received the breath of life of a sudden and became a flock of beady-eyed ravens which took wing toward the Tower of London, whilst we watched in horror and dread.
The novel follows Juliana, a lady-in-waiting to Catherine Parr. I'm excited to read something new (and fictional) on Parr. There are a few novels on her, but it seems she has often escapes them, much like she escaped her husband!

February 10, 2012

Everything Tudor: Three Years in the Making


Yummy cake! (http://www.cakeline.com)

February 2nd marked the 3rd birthday of my site, Everything Tudor. Throughout its three years online, there has been a lot of change, growth, and, well, fun! I appreciate the huge amount of support I have received from my readers, many of whom have become good friends.

Though the actual date has passed, I want to celebrate this month with a huge giveaway! (More on this is a following post).

Some of the changes have been, personally, for the better. Though I love making Tudors replica jewelry, doing it on your own is quite a challenge. Thus, one big change I have made is to the Everything Tudor Store. I am now only offering the Anne Boleyn Signature Necklace. Profits will go to support some of the fabulous Tudor-related groups and charities. Read more about it here.

Another change is the main blog of the site. I used to run my site through Wordpress. After numerous problems, I have since switched to Blogger (a decision I have not regretted). During the switch, I unfortunately lost a lot of my main "Tudor Times" blog posts. Thus, I felt it was time to start something new. I, thus, created The Tudor Tattler. It is a fun blog, devoted to scandal, gossip, fashion, and of course history of the Tudor and Renaissance period.

The Tudor Book Blog, my original creation, is still around. I must admit, I have been slacking on updating it. However, I am happy to say that is going to change! I have a few goodies coming up soon, and promise to update it more regularly this year. I also have a backlog of archived articles I plan to get up (dating back to the start of the site). I hope to finish that this month.

The prospect of 2012 is exciting for me. I have several sites I run, including Everything TudorMarie Antoinette: Queen of France, and a few other I have in the works. I have a lot planned for my sites in the coming year, and am so excited to be sharing it with all of you!

I cannot thank everyone enough for all their support. Please, be sure to enter the giveaway! (More on that soon!)