February 16, 2012

Tudor Book Blog Review: To Die For

To Die For by Sandra Byrd


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."


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!)

February 8, 2012

Joely Richardson Discusses Young Elizabeth in "Anonymous"

Joely Richardson plays a young Elizabeth in the new film Anonymous, which explores the theory that Shakespeare wasn't the author of his famous plays.

In this interview, Richardson discusses the many aspects of playing Elizabeth, as well as compares it to playing Catherine Parr in "The Tudors."

I really want to see this film! I have watched a few clips and am certainly intrigued. If anyone has seen it, please share your thoughts.

February 7, 2012

Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge Update

Here is the first monthly update on the Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge!

I'm so happy with how the first month has gone. We have 13 signed up so far! I have copied and pasted the reviews submitted (in no particular order) at the bottom of the post. Remember, you can post your reviews either here on the Reading Challenge Page or on the Facebook page.

To celebrate making it a month, I am pleased to announce the first prize in our prize pack!

Drum roll....

A copy of The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gornter.

I felt that since this was a reading/review competition the first prize should be a book. However, future prizes will not necessarily be of the reading kind...more to come!


Here are the current reviews:

Trish Mercaldo Review 1:

Here is my first review for "Had the Queen Lived: An Alternative History of Anne Boleyn" by Raven A Nuckols

Obviously, this book is a fictional account on what could have happened if Anne Boleyn never fell out of favor and been executed that terrible day in May..., 1536. I enjoyed it however there were certain parts that left me thinking, "Anne would never have done that!" I tried to put those thoughts aside and enjoy the book for what it was, and for the most part, I did. I would recommend this to someone who knows a bit about this time period. I would not tell someone who doesn't know a thing about Tudor history to pick this up first, because they might be confused on certain facts and events. It's nice though to think about what may have happened had Queen Anne lived, however, I don't think she would have been as popular today had that been so. Overall, not bad.

Review 2:

Here is my 2nd review for "At the Mercy of the Queen" by Anne Clinard Barnhill.
I cannot say enough about this book! It is told from the perspective of Margaret "Madge" Shelton, cousin to Anne Boleyn. The author writes with such feeling, I felt as if I were a fly on the wall. I don't want to give too much of the plot away, but I will say that the book was wonderfully researched, and while it is fiction, there is much fact woven in. The author did a wonderful job in bringing these characters to life. While it is based around Anne Boleyn, it's not entirely about her, as Madge's story is told beautifully. I did not want this book to end! Overall, an excellent book that I would encourage all Tudor history fans to read. You're sure to enjoy this one, from start to finish.
Review 3:
Here is my 3rd review for "The Lady Elizabeth" by Alison Weir.

I really enjoyed this book! I love Alison Weir in general but I was not sure how I would like her writing fiction. I was pleasantly surprised. I have read other non fiction accounts of Elizabeth I's life by a few different authors, so I knew a little about her background before going into this book. I have to say, I really liked that the story was told from Elizabeth's point of view. The novel takes place from her childhood to her accession to the throne. Its almost as if you are there with Elizabeth during the many trials and tribulations of her early life, feeling the joy, sorrow and anguish right along with her. The author took a few liberties with the characters, but I didn't mind as much as I thought I would. Overall, I would recommend this book to any Tudor history lovers. I give it an A+.

Jen Review 1:

My first Book is The House of Tudor by Alison Flowden. It covers the complete Tudor Dynasty from Henry VII's life before he won the throne, to Elizabeth I. It reads almost as a text book, but does give the reader a detailed account of their lives and the happenings of other current events in Europe in their time. this book includes many portraits that I have seen rarely, including a sketch of anne Bolelyn by holbein. I purchaed this book because it had the whole palntagenet and Tudor lines inside the front cover, and it is a very good book for reference. I would recommend this book to someone that has a very strong interest in this time period. It is not for the casual reader.


Elean - Picture Reviews Here.


If I have missed anyone (especially if you have posted your review on your own site), please let me know and I will happily add it here!

Don't forget that you can sign up and post reviews throughout 2012!!!

Thanks, and happy reading :)