April 18, 2013

Sandra Byrd's 'Ladies-in-Waiting' Series Giveaway Winner Announced!

A huge thank you to all who entered the giveaway! I thoroughly enjoyed reading all about your favorite Ladies-in-Waiting. Also, a HUGE thank you to author Sandra Byrd for stopping by and taking a look at the comments, as well as providing the prize for this month's giveaway!!

As I mentioned before, all winners are chosen randomly using random.org. Now, for the moment we've all been waiting for...the winner is...

Tudorgirl Shanan!

Be sure to contact me via e-mail (everythingtudor "at" yahoo.com) by April 25th to claim your prize!

Thanks again to all of you for reading my review, posting about your favorite Lady-in-Waiting, and supporting Sandra Byrd and her wonderful works!!!

Be sure to check back next month for another giveaway and more reviews!

If you are interested in telling us about the Tudor books you have or are currently reading this year, be sure to join the Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge. I am going to have a separate giveaway for that coming up next week, so be sure to join to get in on it!

Happy reading!

April 12, 2013

'The White Queen' Review

Since a lot of you (myself included) are excited about the release of BBC/Starz's "The White Queen," I thought I'd share this great review of Philippa Gregory's novel on which the show is based.

This review by the Huffington Post goes into a lot of great detail about the novel, discussing it's imagery, giving text examples, and coming to the conclusion that "The White Queen is a good literary work that offers some very accurate insights and food for thought on historical matters of this very troubled age of warring cousins."

Check out the full review here.

I'm very excited to read the novel, as well as watch the show! Have you read this novel? If so, what did you think?

April 9, 2013

Tudor Book Blog Book Review and Giveaway - 'Roses Have Thorns' by Sandra Byrd

Today, to celebrate the release of Sandra Byrd's new novel, Roses Have Thorns, I am posting my review of the book as well as offering a fantastic giveaway, courtesy of Sandra!

Tudor Book Blog Book Reviews

Roses Have Thorns by Sandra Byrd


From the publisher
"In 1565, seventeen-year-old Elin von Snakenborg leaves Sweden on a treacherous journey to England. Her fiance has fallen in love with her sister and her dowry money has been gambled away, but ahead of her lies an adventure that will take her to the dizzying heights of Tudor power. 
Transformed through marriage into Helena, the Marchioness of Northampton, she becomes the highest-ranking woman in Elizabeth's circle. But in a court that is surrounded by Catholic enemies who plot the queen's downfall, Helena is forced to choose between her unyielding monarch and the husband she's not sure she can trust--a choice that will provoke catastrophic consequences.
Vividly conjuring the years leading up to the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots, Roses Have Thorns is a brilliant exploration of treason, both to the realm and to the heart."
Before I delve into my own thoughts, I wanted to assure you that I do not reveal any spoilers not revealed in the above overview! Sorry if some of my examples are a bit vague below. I'm trying not to give anything away!

My Thoughts:

Portrait thought to be of Helena.
One of the main themes of this novel is treason, and how the characters in the novel react to it. Treason is something Elizabeth I dealt with her entire life (from her mother's downfall to the "treason" of some of her favorites, whether politically or emotionally). While Elizabeth deals with treason in some very big ways (with one main focus being Mary, Queen of Scots), her lady-in-waiting, Helena, is also forced to deal with it, both politically and emotionally. She is eventually forced to make some big decisions focused around her Queen and her husband. These decisions do not come easy and cause much conflict and heartache for our heroine. I thought this theme very fitting for an Elizabethan novel, and like that the author chose to use another person, besides the Queen herself, to feel the pressure and heartache of having to deal with treason.

Many who have studied Elizabeth I know that she also had to deal with the theme of marriage throughout her life. She often reacted badly to the marriages of her ladies-in-waiting. Many suspect it was bitterness from not being able to or allowing herself to marry. I like that Sandra chose to portray this aspect of Elizabeth and marriage through the events surrounding Helena, rather than just focusing on "famous" cases (i.e. Lettice Knollys or Elizabeth Throckmorton). Though Byrd does show this famous (and angry) side of Elizabeth, I felt that by portraying it through the eyes of Helena, Byrd really humanized the Queen, showing her stern and unyielding temper, but also a softer, more feminine side as her friendship with Helena grows.

William Parr,
1st Marquess of Northampton
Another aspect of the novel that differed from many Tudor novels I've read is that the heroine is not actually English, but rather from Sweden. This puts a different spin on her background and outlook throughout the novel. It was actually the first thing that really drew me to the novel. I enjoyed seeing the Tudor court from the eyes of an "outsider" who chose to be there, rather than someone who was forced to be by an ambitious parent or spouse.

As always (though I felt it needed mention), Byrd has done a wonderful job researching her novel. Though it is a novel, you can tell she has spent hours pouring over primary sources, weaving them throughout her narrative. That, for me, is one of the most important things about a historical novel. That, and being able to keep the narrative engaging and not dry (with so much historical fact). Byrd does a great job of balancing both aspects.

Though I really enjoyed this novel, there are always things that stick out, or bug you. I felt the pacing of the story odd at times. Helena seems to brush over some of the "bigger" events in her life (such as some of her pregnancies) with time passing in big chunks between pages. However, the novel spans quite a bit of time and covers several major events, so I can understand this.

As I've said before, I don't usually care for first-person narrative. I like to know what's going on in everyone's head! However, Byrd always does a marvelous job of instantly connecting you with her storyteller. I feel that of all the narrating ladies presented in Sandra's three books, Helena is my favorite.


I think my favorite thing about Sandra's Ladies-in-Waiting Series is that she focuses on Tudor women, but not the ones you would normally think of. Rather than focusing on famous ladies like Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, or Elizabeth I, she places them in the background and brings their ladies-in-waiting to the forefront, telling the famous stories and lesser known stories through the eyes of ladies that actually witnessed them. I highly recommend this (and the other novels in this series) with 5 Tudor Roses.

A huge thank you to author Sandra Byrd for providing me an advanced copy of her wonderful novel!

Now, for the exciting part...a giveaway!

Sandra has offered a complete set of her Ladies in Waiting Series, including To Die For, The Secret Keeper, and Roses Have Thorns.

To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this page telling us your name and who your favorite Tudor lady-in-waiting (from the reigns of Henry VII to Elizabeth I) is and why she has stolen your heart. All entries must be in by April 16th. The winner will be randomly drawn (using random.org) and announced on April 17th.

Please take a minute to check out Sandra's fantastic website, SandraByrd.com. She has a section on her Ladies-In-Waiting series, but also on some of her other books.
She is also on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. If you are on any of these sites as well, be sure to find her!

April 8, 2013

Review for 'Queen's Gambit' - A Novel of Katherine Parr

Debut novel of author Elizabeth Fremantle, Queen's Gambit focuses on the sixth wife of Henry VIII, Katherine Parr. Using chess imagery, the author "brings to life the remarkable story of Katherine Parr as she battles with those intent on destroying her, but also with her own heart."

The Guardian has given a positive review of this novel, focusing on the imagery and praising the author for sticking close to her sources. It sounds like a good read, especially for those of you interested in Parr.

Here's the link to the review, and the link to the amazon page.

April 3, 2013

The Bad Bard?

This new account of Shakespeare reminds me of the
portrayal of the bard in "Anonymous."
A new study claims Shakespeare was a "ruthless profiteer and tax dodger," hoarding grain during food shortages, threatened with jail, and funneling legal and illegal funds into real-estate ventures.

I must admit, it does surprise me a little. His poetry (if you're in the school of thought that it is his...) is so beautiful and eloquent. Did a man who created so many masterful works, often championing the downtrodden, take advantage of the starving masses?

According to the researchers, who studied archived court and tax records, he did.

They concluded that “[b]y combining both illegal and legal activities, Shakespeare was able to retire in 1613 as the largest property owner in his hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon. His profits — minus a few fines for illegal hoarding and tax evasion — meant he had a working life of just 24 years.”

Well played, Shakespeare.

Be sure to check out the entire article here.

April 2, 2013

The Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge: April

We have had a few new people join the reading challenge this month:

Shannon Pembroke
Bandit Queen

Welcome to all of you! :)

March also saw quite a few new reviews:

  • Shannon Pembroke reviewed A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir, The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell, Sovereign by C. J. Sansom, Le Temps Viendra by Sarah Morris, Katherine by Anya Seton, The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr by Sandra Byrd, The Queen of Subtleties: A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Suzannah Dunn, The Pleasure Place (Secrets of the Tudor Court) by Kate Emerson, Between Two Queens (Secrets of the Tudor Court)by Kate Emerson, and By Royal Decree (Secrets of the Tudor Court) by Kate Emerson.
  • Jaclyn reviewed Brief Gaudy Hour: A Novel of Anne Bolyen by Margaret Campbell Barnes and To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Sandra Byrd.
  • Esther reviewed The Men Who Would Be King by Josephine Ross, House of Treason by Robert Hutchinson, The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell by John Schofield, and Two Queens in One Isle by Alison Plowden.
  • Jen Deguzman reviewed The King's Damsel by Kate Emerson.
  • Lisa reviewed Death and the Virgin Queen by Chris Skidmore and The Tudors by G.J. Meyer.
  • Jonah Knows Best reviewed The Secret Bride by Diane Haeger, and In Bed with the Tudors by Amy Licence.
  • Mer reviewed Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery by Eric Ives.
  • BanditQueen reviewed The Tudors by E Massie.

All reviews can be accessed on the March Page. If I left out any reviews, please let me know! 

For April, be sure to post your reviews (or a link to your reviews) as a comment on this post.

I am in the process of putting together the giveaway for April, sponsored by author Sandra Byrd, so keep an eye out for a separate post on that! 

Don't forget, you can sign up for the Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge through December 2013. Those not signed up for the Reading Challenge must leave a comment on The Tudor Book Blog Reading Challenge 2013 Page.

April 1, 2013

New Philippa Gregory Novel, "The White Princess"

I mentioned this on Facebook, but thought I should take a second and post it here also. Philappa Gregory's new novel, "The White Princess," focuses on Elizabeth of York, who became Queen upon her marriage to the victorious Henry VII after the Battle of Bosworth and defeat of Richard III.

According to Amazon,

The White Princess opens as the news of the battle of Bosworth is brought to Princess Elizabeth of York, who will learn not only which rival royal house has triumphed, Tudor or York, but also which suitor she must marry: Richard III her lover, or Henry Tudor her enemy.A princess from birth, Elizabeth fell in love with Richard III, though her mother made an arranged betrothal for her with the pretender to the throne: Henry Tudor. When Henry defeats Richard against all odds, Elizabeth has to marry the man who murdered her lover in battle, and create a new royal family with him and his ambitious mother: Margaret Beaufort, The Red Queen. But, while the new monarchy can win, it cannot, it seems, hold power in an England which remembers the House of York with love.The new king’s greatest fear is that somewhere, outside England, a prince from the House of York is waiting to invade and re-claim the throne for the house of York. Fearing that none of his new allies can be trusted, Henry turns to his wife to advise him, all the time knowing that her loyalties must be divided. When the young man who would be king finally leads his army and invades England, it is for Elizabeth to decide whether she recognizes him as her brother and a claimant to the throne, or denies him in favor of the husband she is coming to love…
I haven't read any of Gregory's Cousins War series, but would like to! This novel will be released on July 23rd in the States. For more info, be sure to check out Amazon and/or Gregory's website.