...making decisions on the basis of what seems best instead of following some single doctrine or style.
Me in a nutshell!!!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Announcing upcoming Leslie Carroll Event...

Historical Fiction Roundtable is sponsering Leslie Carroll the author and her new book Notorious Royal Marriages Jan 4-Jan 10. It promises to be a fun and enlightening week. I will be doing a book review here on Jan 9th. I also will be featuring a guest post by Ms. Carroll during the week so check back often.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Books I've read this year and ratings...

2009 books read, ratings and those highlighted link to review:

I owe a special thanks to the Phillipa Gregory forum and to Arleigh and Lucy of Plaidy's Royal Intrique, Enchanted by Josephine and Historical Fiction for turning me onto Jean Plaidy and many other wonderful historical fiction authors. Amy of Passages of the Past also has many great recommendations listed on her blog homepage, that is where I found The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly now one of my favs. Alaine from the Queen of Happy Endings sent me The Luxe which I found to be very good, and ended up reading the sequel Rumors.

I'm looking forward to reading even more in 2010.

The Other Boleyn Girl: Phillipa Gregory ****

The Boleyn Inheritance: Phillipa Gregory *****

The Secret Bride: Diana Haeger ***

The Innocent Traitor: Alison Weir *****

The King's Fool: Margaret Campbell Barnes *****

To Hold the Crown: Jean Plaidy ****

The Bastard King: Jean Plaidy ****

On the Road to Forthingay: Jean Plaidy ****

The Hammer of the Scots: Jean Plaidy *****

Murder Most Royal: Jean Plaidy *****

Lady of Hay: Barbara Erskine *****

The Kingdom of Shadows: Barbara Erskine ****

Katherine: Ana Seaton ****

The Tea Rose: Jennifer Donnelly ****

The Luxe: Anna Godberson ****

Rumors: Anna Godberson ****

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane: Katherine Howe ***

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Murder Most Royal by Jean Plaidy: 5th and final review post + Awesome Giveaway!

Today marks the end of the story and reviews. I have enjoyed reviewing this book so much. It's a wrap up now. Closing events in Catherine Howard's life comes very swiftly. After Anne is executed on trumped up charges King Henry will waste no time in marrying Jane Seymour. She is already pregnant which pleases the King very much. She loses the baby a few weeks later causing much distress for the King. Will he ever get his son, the heir to the throne. It is not just the loss of the baby causing the King distress but his eldest daughter Mary refuses to sign the affidavit proclaiming herself a bastard and acknowledging that her mother, Katherine of Aragon, was never truly the King's wife. She holds out as long as possible, until the King makes it very clear that if he can execute his wife he can execute his daughter as traitor. She signs the paper and is admitted back into court where she will befriend her new step mother Jane Seymour.

The King also has problems with his subjects rebelling against the new religion in Lincoln, North of England. He will solicit the help of the Duke of Norfolk and Duke of Suffolk to put down the rebels sparing neither woman or child. He is really out of control at this point.

Great happiness comes into his life when Jane Seymour delivers him a legitimate son. Oh the celebrations for the kingdom. Jane dies a few days later from complications. The King almost immediately will solicit Cromwell to find him another wife. Cromwell has his own interests to protect and seeks after a protestant wife. He finds Anne from Cleves. Cleves being part of the German Empire. She is protestant to be sure. The King will send the court artist Hans Holbein to paint her portrait so he can be a judge of her beauty. Holbeins goes to Cleves paints the portrait a miniature and returns it to the King. The King is very impressed and desires to marry her post haste. Arrangements are made and Anne sails to England. The King cannot wait to have her brought to court to meet him, he will ride to the coast to meet her upon her arrival. He meets her and is very disappointed and takes no qualms in letting his advisers, namely Cromwell that he is very displeased. He likens Anne to a Flemish Mare. He begins immediately to plot his divorce. Cromwell must find some loop hole to bail him out of this. Cromwell realizes his fate is sealed the King has no more use for him. Once in the King's poor favor your head becomes shaky on your shoulders. A loop hole is found and the King promises Anne the title of Anne of Cleves, Hever Castle, Richmond Castle and 3000 pounds a year. Is Anne stupid? Hello.... how good does this offer get. She can't sign the divorce agreement fast enough, for if the King found her unattractive she found him grotesque, old, smelling horrible from his leg.

Anne retires to Hever Castle and enjoys the rest of her life in service to the community with her head intact.

Catherine was sent to court with the hopes of possibly having an arranged marriage with Thomas Culpepper. Franic Derham is now back in the country and apparently their fictitious marriage is at an end and Catherine let's him know in no uncertain terms that their relationship is over. She has eyes only for Thomas. Catherine will serve Queen Anne for a few weeks as her Lady in Waiting. It is during this time that the King will take notice of a little, plump, rosy cheeked girl, Catherine Howard. He is just over come with desire for her. As soon as he has divorce he marries this poor child. She is 16 and he is 50!!! She is a sweet, rash girl. The King considers her the most modest of all, she is A Rose Without a Thorn. Catherine has made enemies in her past at her grandmother's home who will come back to bite her. Catherine has in her household her previous lover Henry Mannox and Francis Derham. She has no friends or advisers to tell her this was a deadly mistake. She is still in love with Thomas Culpepper and recklessly seeks him out for romantic interludes set up by one of her ladies, Jane Boleyn.

Bishop Cranmer who is fearful that Catherine's Catholic ties will influence the King to once again turn to Rome is zealous in finding something that will implicate her. Through his contacts Cranmer will unearth juicy secrets of Catherine Howard. He can't wait to divulge this information to the King. He is waiting for the King and Queen to return to Hampton Court. Upon their arrival he sets upon the King with his grim news. When the King heard the news the proverbial crap hit the fan. The King left Hampton Court and Catherine was locked away in her room with all attendants ordered to leave.

Francis Derham was arrested, tortured and met the traitors death on Tyburne Hill. Thomas Culpepper was beheaded on the tower green. The Duchess of Norfolk, Catherine's grandmother would be sent to the Tower and die. Queen Catherine would sail down the Thymes from Sion to the Tower Green for execution. On her way her barge will pass under the London Bridge where she will look up and see the severed heads of her lovers, Thomas Culpepper and Francis Derham. She met her death with grace and dignity on 13 February 1542, not yet 20 years old.

The King will retire to Hampton Court feeling lonely and unloved:

A movement beside him startled him and the hair was damp on his forehead, for it seemed to him that Anne was standing beside him. A second glance told him that it was but an image conjured up by the guilty mind of a murderer, for it was not Anne who stood beside him, but Anne's daughter. There were often times when she reminded him of her mother. Of all his children he loved her best because she was the most like him; but then, her mother had angered him, and he had loved her. He loved Elizabeth, Elizabeth of the fiery hair and the spirited nature and the quick temper. She would never be the dark-browed beauty that her mother had been; she was tawny-red like her father. He felt sudden anger sweep over him. Why, oh why had she not been born a boy! Murder Most Royal~Jean Plaidy pg 444.

The main players:

King Henry VIII ~ dies stinking in his bed at 56 years old having ruled England for 38 years

Anne Boleyn ~ 2 wife of Henry VIII; executed 1536

Cardinal Wolsey ~ dies on his way to prison 1530

Thomas More ~ Chancellor of England; executed 1535

Bishop Fisher ~ Bishop of Roman Catholic Church in England; executed 1535

Mark Smeaton ~ Queen Anne's musician; tortured and executed 1536

George Boleyn ~ Queen Anne's brother; executed 1536

William Breaton ~ Queen Anne's friend; executed 1536

Henry Norris ~ Queen Anne's friend; executed 1536

Mary Tudor ~ Henry VIII and Katherine Aragon's daughter; Will become Mary I or Bloody Mary, Queen of England

Jane Seymour ~ Henry VIII 4th wife and mother of his son Edward VI dies in childbirth 1537

Anne of Cleves ~ Marries Henry for 3 months~divorces and lives a safe life

Thomas Cromwell ~ The King's Chief Minister; executed 1540

Bishop Cranmer ~ Archbishop of Canterbury; executed in 1556 by Queen Mary I

Catherine Howard ~ 5th wife of Henry VIII; Executed in 1542

Jane Boleyn~ Wife of George Boleyn~ Lady Rochford; Executed along with Queen Catherine in 1542

Thomas Culpepper ~ Queen Catherine's 1st cousin and lover; Executed 1542

Francis Derham ~ Queen Catherine's one time betrothed; tortured and Executed 1542

Duchess of Norfolk ~ Queen Catherine's step grandmother; imprisoned in the Tower 1542

Elizabeth Tudor ~ Daughter of Henry VIII and Boleyn; will become Elizabeth I the greatest sovereign of England reigning 45 years. She will die in her bed as old woman of 70 in 1603.

Indeed in their story Murder is Most Royal~ you be the judge!!


In honor of this great book and this great author I am hosting a giveaway! I will be giving away:

  • 1 brand new copy of Murder Most Royal by Jean Plaidy &

  • 1 brand new DVD of Anne of a Thousand Days

Rules to participate:

  • 1 entry for becoming a follower or if you do follow please indicate

  • 2 entries for posting this giveaway on your blog & send link

  • 2 entries for twitting about the giveaway!

  • 3 entries for picking out your favorite review of my 5 reviews on Murder Most Royal and commenting on it on this review.

  • Please leave your email address

  • This giveaway is available for all including my international followers

  • Drawing will be Wednesday, December 23, 2009

  • Total of 8 possible entries

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Murder Most Royal by Jean Plaidy: 4th review post in series of 5...

Princess Elizabeth has been born much to chagrin of her father King Henry VIII. At first he was patient considering both his and Anne's age. Surely they had time to conceive a son. However; Anne did not conceive quickly after the birth of Elizabeth which worried her to the point that she would lie to the King and tell him she was pregnant hoping that she would be soon. He was outraged to find out that she had deceived him. He felt manipulated by this woman who had bewitched him. Henry had already begun seeking out other women, particularly a mousy Jane Seymour. She was everything that Anne wasn't. She was somewhat plain in appearance, she was mild and unassuming. She did not rail on the King as Anne did, and appeared to have no temper at all. She worshiped him, and being the egotist that he was he thrived on it.

Anne knew that she had to do something desperate to hold onto the King. She had Jane removed from court in spite of the King's protests. She actively tried to be more demure and sweet in the King's presence. This worked for awhile and he was all Anne's again. She did get pregnant and all were overjoyed! She did all in her power to assure the safety of her unborn child, which had to be a son or she was doomed. Anne knew that the King's interest in her was fading, having a son would assure her place on the throne.

During Anne's later pregnancy the King began again his affair with Jane Seymour who just happened to always be within his reach. Anne was informed, sending her into the rage of rages which caused her to go into premature labor delivering a still born boy 2 months early. The King taking no responsibility as usual curses her and declares he will never have another child with her. Anne knows now that her number is up and lives in fear. She hears the whispers, she sees the sly smiles of her enemies. Life at court is electrified with tension. Those who are jealous of Anne begin plotting against her, in particular her infamous sister-in-law Jane Boleyn. Jane is just waiting behind curtains and doors to make her move against Anne.

The King wants nothing more to do with her and begins plotting on how to get rid of her and marry Jane Seymour. He wants her to resign herself to her fate and go to a nunnery. Knowing Anne as he does he realizes that her quietly going to a nunnery is ridiculous. He seeks out his advisers for a solution. He does not suggest a solution of course, that would actually make him responsible, he just suggests that he is in a bind that he doesn't know how to get himself out of. Cromwell knowing his future depends on making the King happy begins plotting and scheming. He notices how the Queen dotes on her musician, Mark Smeaton, a young man from humble circumstances that has found favor with the Queen. Mark is a beautiful youth, but rather frail and vulnerable. This will be to Cromwell's advantage. Mark is invited to dinner at Cromwell's estate. He is all excited that the nobility is recognizing him. Little does he know that he will never return to safety. He is seized and tortured into false confessions about the Queen having lovers. Cromwell wants there to be no doubt of the Queens treachery so he keeps torturing until he gets enough false information from Mark to seal the case against the her. Mark is taken to the tower to await trial.

Cromwell goes to the King and tells him what he has discovered. The King is outraged that the Queen has betrayed him, but secretly happy because now there will be no doubt that she will be removed from the scene allowing him to marry Jane Seymour. The King very willingly believes these accusations and orders the arrest of several young men in court including Thomas Wyatt (my 11th great grandfather) and George Bolyen, the Queen's brother.
George is accused of incest with his sister Anne and it will be his wife Jane Boleyn who will sign an affidavit declaring that she saw them together in an incestuous situation.
Anne will be at dinner at Greenwich when her uncle the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Howard will come to arrest her and take her to the tower of London. Her Uncle will mock her and show her no mercy while taking her to her final destination. She will enter by boat through the Traitor's Gate and climb the stairs. She will be greeted by the head Constable who will later declare that she wept and laughed hysterically upon arrival. She will be housed in the same quarters she spent the eve of her coronation in 3 years earlier. Her ladies in waiting will be spy's who are constantly badgering her for a confession. There will be trials and verdicts. All the young men will be executed by beheading on Tyburne Hill excepting Thomas Wyatt. Who knows really why he was let off, except that his wife's father was a great friend to King.
Anne was taken to the Tower Green an executed on 19 May 1536 two days after her brother George and the others were executed on Tyburne Hill. It was not public, the King did not want any public sympathy. Her final words were "To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesus receive my soul." She was then buried in an unmarked grave in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula.

Catherine Howard who is about 14 years old and in love with Francis Derham a distant cousin who finds employment in the household of the Duchess of Norfolk. They have a hot and steamy affair planning their eventual marriage. They are discovered by the Duchess and all hell will break loose in the household. Catherine is beaten and sent into exclusion. Francis fears for his life and manages to get away. The Duchess is afraid as well because the rumors are circulating all over the neighborhood. Her step son the Duke of Norfolk will condemn her for her neglect and possibly have her removed. Every where there is chaos. The King has remarried, now to Jane Seymour. The King's daughter Mary is stirring up trouble to avenge her mother, Katheriene of Aragon. There seems to be no place truly safe any longer.

Teaser for tomorrow, the final post in the review...

Henry was furious at the reports brought back to him. He swore that he could not trust Mary. He was an angry man. It was but a matter of days since he had married Jane Seymour and yet he was not happy. He could not forget Anne Boleyn; he was dissatisfied with Jane; and he was enraged against Mary. A man's daughter to work against him! He would not have it! He called the council together. A man cannot trust those nearest to him! was his cry. There should be an inquiry. If he found his daughter guilty of conspiracy she should suffer the penalty of traitors. Murder Most Royal~Jean Plaidy pg. 363

Monday, December 7, 2009

Murder Most Royal Review: 3rd post in series of 5...

We left off on Friday with the sweating sickness plaguing southern England, in particular London. Rats were everywhere in the streets, houses, gutters, and pubs. You could cross the road walking on them as bridge. It was disgusting. In the summer when the weather warmed up was when the sweating sickness would attack. If you were of nobility or a wealthy merchant you could take your family to the country and escape it. Anne was sent to country by the King to protect her. She got the disease anyway, but survived.
The people of London wanted a reason that this plague would purge them so. Thousands of people dying. It had to be the King and His secret matter of displacing Queen Katherine. The people loved the humble, pious Katherine of Aragon and were not happy that the King would consider divorcing her in the first place let alone divorcing her so she could be replaced by the "Whore Nan Bullen". Every woman in London was mindful of the example the King was setting for his male subjects. If you don't like your wife, just get rid of her.
The citizen's were very aware of their social status and that of royalty. Who was this Nan Bullen~she was just a merchants daughter~not fit to be a queen.
Anne would take this negative opinion about her poorly. It would make her all the more ambitious as well as bringing out the haughty and mean side of her. When Anne has recovered and the plaque has subsided she will return to court and to Henry. He is all the more in love with her and determined now to make her his Queen. Once she is assured that he will do all to follow through she finally submits to his amorous attention and sleeps with him and does become the King's mistress. Henry will put into motion all who will bring to pass the divorce from Katherine. Wolsey is sent to Rome and comes back without the approval of Pope Clement. The King is in a rage at Wolsey. His Cardinal had always been able to bring to pass the King's desires. Anne is whispering disparaging remarks in the Kings ear regarding Wolsey. Wolsey cannot believe the King is determined to make Anne his queen, he knows now that it is just a matter of time before the House of Wolsey will come tumbling down around him. He is fully aware that Anne hates him. He will end up giving Hampton Court, his magnificent palace to King to help him save face.
The King will arrest Wolsey, his beloved friend, and mercifully for Wolsey he will die of a heart attack on his way to the tower. After Wolsey's death the King confers the Chancellorship onto Thomas More. More is an honest and very pious man, he takes this responsibility very seriously. He loves his religion.
left: Sir Thomas More~Holbien
A new man, Thomas Cromwell will become one of the King's advisers. He is a great advocate of the "new religion". Cromwell will introduce the King to Bishop Crammer a voice for the new religion who will ultimately give the King the idea to separate himself from Rome and make himself the leader of the Church of England granting himself his own divorce from Katherine of Aragon. This course of action will up root English politics. Many priests including Bishop Fisher will be sent to their deaths for protesting the establishment of the new religion and break from Rome. Thomas More will be executed because he will not sign the manifesto supporting the King as the head of the church. The citizens are in an outrage. Many want their traditions, holidays and saints. However; none will say a thing in public for fear for their lives. If someone were to object openly they would be burned at the stake. Not a very pleasant way to die. The public was outraged at the death's of Bishop Fisher and Thomas More. The outrage is focused on Anne. They considered her a witch that has bewitched the King. It was not safe for her to go out in public.
Anne eventually will become pregnant. The King will then be in a hurry to get Katherine dumped and put away so Anne's baby will be legitimate. This was going to be the boy he longed for. It was written in the stars. I found it very interesting how Ms. Plaidy described the King praying to God for an heir, an excusing himself from any wrong doing re: Katherine, surely the Lord understood that it wasn't for lustful desire that he needed to marry Anne, but for the sake of the future of the Kingdom. The Lord would surely grant him his desire to avoid a civil war if the King were not able to produce a male heir. Ms. Plaidy makes it very apparent how Henry VIII will never take responsibility for his actions, but always put the blame on someone else.
Anne and Henry marry in secret. Within a short time the marriage is made public and Anne's coronation is planned. Her coronation takes place 1 June 1533. She is not well received in public. Very little jubilation is felt. The citizens are very subdued. The King is very anxious for his son to be born. The astrologers have predicted a fine healthy boy. On 7 September 1533 princess Elizabeth Tudor is born. She is a fine healthy baby girl. The King is outraged however; he calms down long enough to say they are both young yet, and still can conceive a boy.
In the mean time Catherien Howard still resides with her Grandmother the Duchess of Norfolk at Lambeth. She is now 12-13 years old and will take on Henry Mannox her music teacher as her lover. There are no boundaries surrounding Catherine and very little proper education provided. She is growing up rash and wild.
Tomorrow's Teaser:
She had believed, when she told the King that she was with child, that soon she must be. Why was it that she was not? Something told her the fault lay with him, and this idea was supported by Katherine's disastrous experiences and her own inability to produce another child. The was Elizabeth, but Elizabeth would not do. She murmured: "oh, Elizabeth my daughter, why wast thou not born a boy!" Murder Most Royal~Jean Plaidy pg. 254

Friday, December 4, 2009

Murder Most Royal Review...2nd post in a series of 5

This is my 2nd post out of 5 that will be reviewing Jean Plaidy's marvelous historical novel~ Murder Most Royal The Story of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.
We left off yesterday with Anne's first intimate meeting with Henry VIII in her garden at Hever Castle. The King had seen Anne at court after her return from France and was highly interested in her. He announced that at some point in the near future he would be passing Hever and would stop in. The Boleyn's prepared for days to accommodate the King's visit. He finally did show up and found Anne alone in her garden. He was completely smitten upon seeing her. She fully knew who he was but played the part of an ignorant maiden. The King seemed to like these type of masquerading games.

She flirted with him, seeming to care less who he was. This behavior only heightened the King's desire for her. Of course eventually he disclosed his identity. She answered this by telling him she would never be a King's mistress and left the garden. The King may have been very impressed, but Anne according to Ms. Plaidy found him to be a large, red, tubby, man with small eyes and mouth. She refused being his mistress knowing the plight of her sister Mary whose reputation was in ruins because of the King.

She didn't think much about it ever going any further and spent her summer in pursuit of her new love Henry Percy the son of the Earl of Northumberland.

These two young people fell madly in love and prepared to marry in secret. The deed was to be done in secret because Anne's family was not of nobility and Henry was contracted to marry Lady Mary Shewsbury. Henry Percy, at the time was in Cardinal Wolsey's household and Anne was at court making it convienant to see each other. Henry made the mistake of divulging his love for Anne and their plans to marry. Wolsey repeated this to the King who became outraged and demanded that Wolsey intercede and send Henry home to Northumberland and Anne back to Hever. They were not to be allowed to marry. Henry did return home and within a short time married Lady Mary Shewsbury. Anne returned to Hever with a deep and abiding hate towards the Cardinal Wolsey.

In the mean time Catherine Howard's mother dies leaving 10 motherless children. Her father is so poor that the children are farmed out to various relatives. Catherine is sent to live with her aunt and uncle where she will meet her 1st cousin Thomas Culpepper. She lives in the household until she is around 7 years old upon which she is sent to live with her step grandmother the Duchess of Norfolk in Lambeth. The Duchess of Norfolk prides herself in her magnanimity towards the unfortunate and takes on several young ladies of the town to be raised in her household. Fine idea, but she doesn't follow through well. She is a fat, lazy old woman. The girls are all housed in a dormitory with no supervision. This leads to many nightly visits from young men in the household or community. Catherine is privy to all of this. She learns at a very early age all about promiscuity. This will later become her down fall.

The story takes you back and forth between Anne and Catherine which I find delightful. Anne will return to court and be pursued relentlessly by the King. He does have a problem, his wife who cannot bear a son. The pursuit of a legal heir is all consuming to the King. He will lie, cheat, steal and even murder in this pursuit. No one is safe. Anne continues to refuse him and he continues to beg, finally getting the idea that Anne will never be his with-out the crown upon her head. Anne will later admit that she never really loved the King she just loved the idea of being queen and that ambition was her doom. Thus begins one of the most historic events in the Western World, the separation of Church and State.
Monday's teaser for the 3rd installment:
The King sat alone and disconsolate in his private apartments. He was filled with apprehension. Through the southeastern corner of England rage that dread disease, the sweating sickness. In the streets of London men took it whilst walking; many died within a few hours. People looked suspiciously one at the other. Why does this come upon us to add to our miseries! Murder Most Royal~Jean Plaidy~pg 129
Please check back Monday December 7th for 3rd installment.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Murder Most Royal by Jean Plaidy...1st post in a series of 5

I am so excited to review this book. I am a huge fan of Jean Plaidy and this has been my favorite so far. I just couldn't do it justice in one post so I decided to have a little fun and divide my review over the next five days.

The story is about Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard~the 2nd and 5th wives of Henry III. I never get sick of this story. I have read several books including one of my favorite(s) The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance both by Phillipa Gregory. I have to say hands down Ms. Plaidy's Murder Most Royal is the best in my opinion.

The story begins with Anne living at Hever Castle as a child of seven getting ready to accompany Mary Tudor the sister of Henry VIII on her trip to France to marry Louis of France. The company is held up at Dover Castle where Anne will first meet Henry. She is impressed with his size and confidence. As a child she idolizes Mary Tudor~in Anne's eyes she is beautiful, funny and self-assured. The English Channel is storm ridden~delaying the trip to France. The more Anne is in the company of Mary she learns confidences re: the love Mary has for Charles Brandon the Duke of Suffolk. Anne learns at an early age to be told confidences and keep them.

Hever Castle located in Kent, England. The birth place and childhood home of Anne, George, and Mary Boleyn. It is truly a gorgeous spot of southern England. It's out in the middle of nowhere, far from any crowded city. It's easy to see why the Boleyn's loved it so. I had the privilege of visiting here this past summer.

To the left is Dover Castle where the company of Mary Tudor stayed while waiting out the storm on her way to France. Anne was among the company as a seven year old child.

Anne grows up in the French court where she is well educated by royal scholars. She becomes an accomplished musician and vocalist. She is a favorite of the court, being witty, beautiful and charming. She is no country bumpkin despite the fact that she was born in the country, her father, Thomas Boleyn being a merchant of no distinctive pedigree. It is Anne's mother Elizabeth Howard that descends from the noble & great, her father being the Duke of Norfolk with a claim to the throne of England.

Thomas Boleyn by artist Hans Holbein

When Anne returns to Hever as a teenager she quickly becomes a favorite among the younger people. She has a keen sense of fashion and excellent taste. It isn't long before her personal designs of dresses become copied among the court. She will soon discover that her sister Mary is consider a slut because she not only was the King's mistress but apparently mistress to several others at court. Anne is appalled that Mary could be so self effacing, does she have no pride? Anne will also learn of her Uncle Edmund Howard's poverty in his household with a wife and 10 children, among which is darling little Catherine Howard who bonds immediately with her older 1st cousin Anne. It is here at Hever that she will first meet the King on an intimate level.

To the right: A view from Anne's bedroom over looking the courtyard of Hever Castle

Tomorrow's teaser:
She had sat on a seat in the rose garden for an hour or more, half dozing, when she decided it was time she gathered the flowers and returned to the house; and as she stood by a tree of red roses she was aware of a footfall close by, and turning she saw what she immediately thought of as "a Personage" coming through the gap in the conifers which was the entrance to this garden. She felt the blood rush to her face, for she knew him at once. Murder Most Royal pg 37~Jean Plaidy
The review continues Friday December 4th...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wedensday Royal Tour of University of Oxford...

The great hall in Christs Church used in the Harry Potter film.

Stain glass in Christs Church

I had the privilege to visit University of Oxford this past summer. It was magnificent. Very Medieval. You feel a reverence there. You can't help but think of centuries past and all that the University has contributed to the world, through knowledge and education.

University of Oxford is located in the City of Oxford in southern England. It is the oldest surviving university in the English speaking world. It is unclear on the date that Oxford was founded but there is evidence of teaching there as far back as the 11th century. Of course the ancient students were monks. At the time they were basically the only people who could read and write. In 1120 Anglican Monks took over a nunnery located in Oxford and built a chapel that later would become the famous Christs Church Cathedral. By 1167 there were three monastic schools of learning at Oxford, Christs Church being one of them. At this time during the reign of Henry II other students rather than monks were allowed to attend and pursue an education if they showed promise. Many English Scholars were attending the University of Paris until Henry II recalled all those students, forbidding them attendance at the University of Paris. This course of action increased Oxford's student body substantially. Henry II encouraged education and his patronage was important for the development of Oxford as a recognized University.

The original students were not of nobility but humble "men" who showed educational prowess and contributed much to the development of the state through the centuries.

By 1214 Oxford was recognized as an University. Over the last 800 years countless scholars have graduated and contributed much to the ancient and modern world.

Among those are:
John Wyclif
John Locke
Christopher Wren
John Ruskin
Edward VII
John Wesley
William Penn
Albert Einstein
JRR Tolkein
Dudley Moore
Oscar Wilde
CS Lewis
Cardinal Wolsey
Hugh Grant
Kate Beckinsale
Margaret Thatcher
Tony Blair
Bill Clinton
Percy Shelly

A note of interest: Women were not officially admitted to Oxford until 1920!!!!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Meet Devynn Marie by Bebes Cheris Nursery...

Can't help myself have to share my latest creation with all of my faithful followers. One of my favorite hobbies besides reading is the Art of Reborning which simply means making dolls that look like real babies. I have been doing this for 2 years now and have sold dolls to new mommies all over the world now. This Devynn Marie which is now listed on ebay click picture to take you to the auction.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Teaser Tuesday...

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B~Should be Reading

The rules are as follows:

*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

Here's mine:

This was disquieting news which set Henry trembling; Anne's defiance of Rome, her lack of superstitious dread, angered him against her, for he did not care that she should show more courage than he; although his conscience explained that hi felling was not fear but eagerness to assure himself that he had acted with the will of God.
pg. 223 Murder Most Royal by Jean Plaidy

Another awesome book Ms. Plaidy!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Book Review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe:

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin is working on her doctoral dissertation when she is asked by her goofy mother to clean out her late grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, Mass. Connie agrees to do this odious job for her mother even though she has time constraints and doesn't want to. She reluctantly drives up there and moves in for the summer with her little dog, Arlo. She can't even find the place on Milk St. because the front is so over grown with foliage from years of neglect. She finds the house as bad as the yard, with no phone, no electricity, but at least a flush toilet. From the beginning she realizes that she is sharing her new abode with rats, spiders, snakes and strange supernatural phenomenons. The first night she is rummaging around in the dark for something to read by the oil lamp and comes across an old bible with a strange, mysterious key inside. Upon investigating the key she discovers the name Deliverance Dane written on a small piece of parchment tucked away inside the key. This is of course where the story takes off and the quest for information on who Deliverance Dane is begins. Connie will travel back and forth between Marblehead, Salem and Cambridge Massachusetts in her pursuit for answers. Along the way she will pick up a new friend, Sam, who will eventually become her romantic interest and provide keen assistance in discovering who Deliverance Dane is and where is her Physikc Book, and how does Connie fit into this equation.

The author will take the reader back to the Salem witch hunt and trials where you will learn about Deliverance and her place in history. The story moves back and forth between the late 18th and 20th centuries. I was so excited to get this book. I simply loved the premise of the story. Early New England history is very fascinating to me, especially the Salem witch trials.

When the book came I dropped my current read and settled in with a cup tea for a long evening read. It kept my interest along the way, but that was about it. The characters were not developed well. The author would take the reader just so far and then drop the subject, especially at the beginning of chapters. I hate that. I kept expecting more development of what happened. The readers can figure out the whole plot long before the characters. It wasn't a puzzle to figure out. I knew how Connie was related to Deliverance, but I'm not sure she ever really figured it out in the story or it just wasn't that important to the author to develop the answer. This was not a complex story. There just wasn't any "ah ha" moments. I found myself saying out loud "well duh" to Connie~the protagonist several times. I came away from the book rewriting the story in my mind, wondering why the author didn't include this or that, and really wanting to know more of the story.

The premise of the story is excellent and in the right hands it could have been a block buster!! I give the author two thumbs up for her original and creative idea. This is Ms. Howe's debut novel. I'm sure many readers will find entertaining. For me, I found it disappointing, I expected so much more. Ms. Howe does have talent and with a little development and maturity I believe she will go far.

I give this 3 royal crowns out of 5:

1 crown for originality

1 crown for time period

1 crown for subject matter

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wordless Wedensday...

click on picture to enlarge
Hermione pups growing now 2 weeks old!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wordless Wedensday...

click to englarge photo
Hermione and her 7 babies
born 29 Oct 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A New Award Received and Pass On to...

I would like to thank Virginie at Virginie Says for sending me this lovely award!!

Here are the rules :

■ Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

■ Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

■ Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

■ Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

■ Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

I would like to pass this award to the following people/blogs:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday Royal Review; Hammer of the Scots by Jean Plaidy

Hammer of the Scots by Jean Plaidy:

First off prior to reading this book my only reference for Edward I was his portrayal by Patrick Mcgoohan in the 1995 film Brave Heart. The movie portrayed him as a one dimensional character, a ruthless tyrant, widowed with only one child, a disappointing son. I love the movie Brave Heart and I was very apt to believe that Edward I was indeed nothing more than a Medieval dictator.

I really had no desire to pursue further research until this year when I discovered two very important things, one Jean Plaidy and two that Edward I was my 19th great grandfather. With these two things in mind it was a delight to discover that Ms. Plaidy had written a book about Edward I. The title alone Hammer of the Scots I found intriguing. The best part was finding this book at Waterstone's in Bath, England.

After reading this book I can say What I didn't know about Edward I was a lot.

What I didn't know was;

  • He came from a large family of brothers and sisters

  • He was dearly loved and adored by his parents Henry III and Eleanore of Provence

  • He was considered a very handsome youth favoring his Viking ancestors

  • He was named Longshanks because of his height and long legs

  • He was devoted to his parents. He loved his father dearly

  • He married Eleanor of Castile and remained faithful to her their entire marriage. He was devoted to her and she him. She accompanied him on the ninth Crusade to the Holy Land where he was nearly killed and she nursed him back to health. It was there at Acre that she delivered a daughter one of 16 children they would have. The baby died and is buried at Acre in the Holy Land.

  • Of the 16 children only 6 would live to adulthood and of the 6 there was only one son the youngest child Edward II.

  • He was devoted to his family, he loved his wife and children.

  • He would conquer Wales and create the Prince of Wales

  • He would expel the Jews from England. 16 -20,000 Jews would be ordered to leave by Edward I.

  • He would design the special torture of being drawn and quartered for traitors

  • He was just and generous to his family, servants, and citizens, but woe to those who were his enemies. He valued loyalty and loathed insincerity.

  • He was determined to make England a great, respected kingdom with an invincible army.

  • He placed a shrine to his wife Elenore every where her funeral procession would stop between Winchester and Westminster.

  • He requested on his death bed to have his bones carried before the troops while engaged in battle against Scotland so he could be part of the victory.

  • His heart would be taken and buried in the Holy Land as an act of penance before God for his sins.

These are just a few of the highlights of this great story. Ms. Plaidy has not left William Wallace out of the story at all. In fact the last few chapters of the book are devoted entirely to him. Very interesting and not so much the Brave Heart version, in fact I liked it better.

I love the way Ms. Plaidy writes. She gets to point and doesn't waste time with loads of description. She doesn't hesitate to tell you just how it was. Sometimes you love the character and sometimes you truly can't stand them.

I highly recommend this book for Jean Plaidy fans as well as Medieval History buffs. Believe me Edward I was far from being a one dimensional character, there was many facets to this man. I would have to say he was a great king, one that was needed to unify England. He took his calling in life very seriously and honestly did try to do the best he could. He had regrets to be sure.

I give the book 4.5 royal crowns!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday Teaser...

Hosted by:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share with us two "teaser" sentences from that page somewhere in the middle
Make sure to share the title and author of the book

My teasers come from pg 197: The Virgin and the Crab by Robert Parry:

To the very south there is the river, the broad Thames with its teaming populations of ships and small craft, while all around there stand the mighty ramparts that mark the boundaries of the fortress itself - the numerous towers and turrets in which prisoners are kept in all manner of conditions ranging from the most damp and rat-infested holes to rooms which by many people's standards would be considered quite palatial, even if not luxuriant in certain instances, depending on the status and wealth of the occupants.

Enjoying this book very much!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Royal Freaky Friday...

While traveling in London this past summer one of the highlights was visiting the Tower of London. So much history stored up in that place. I particularly wanted to see the infamous "Traitors Gate". It was eerie! One could truly imagine the boat pulling in through the gate with the prisoner being let out at the bottom of the stairs, then climbing up the stairs to be imprisoned waiting for execution.

Originally Traitors Gate was called the Water Gate which was commissioned King Edward I to have a water entrance into the Tower of London which was used at the time for Royal family accommodation. Over the years the Tower became a prison for traitors to the crown. To be imprisoned in the tower you had to be of some notoriety, otherwise you were sent to Newgate prison in London.

Most people will associate The Tower with Tudor history and rightly so. More imprisonments and executions were carried out in the Tower in this era than any other time period.

The journey for the condemned would start on the river Thames in a prison barge. The barge would sail down the river under the London Bridge which usually had the heads of recently executed prisoners on spikes for all to see. After passing under the bridge the barge would sail through the river entrance to the Traitors Gate coming to rest at the bottom of the stairs that lead up to St. Thomas Tower, one of 23 towers in the Tower of London
complex. This grisly practice would continue until 1648.

Some of the most famous people to make this journey were Anne Boelyn, Sir Thomas Moore, Catherine Howard, and the Lady Jane Gray. While Catherine Howard passed under the London Bridge she would look up and see her former lover Thomas Culpepper's head on a spike, thus she arrived at Traitor's Gate hysterical. Queen Anne upon arriving at the top of the stairs asked the Tower Constable if she were to be thrown into the dungeon. He told her she would have the same accommodations as she did on the eve of her coronation. Queen Anne began to alternately weep and laugh hysterically at this news.

Lady Jane Gray at Traitors Gate, Tower of London

Traitors Gate is closed now only to serve as a reminder of a grisly and sad past.

Suggested reading below. Please feel free to add to the list or mention other notable Tower prisoners. Some I have purposely left out to draw in some comments :-).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday Royal Trivia...

The Origin of the Prince of Wales: During the Reign of Edward I he conquered the Welsh people. They knew they were a conquered people, no one could defeat the mighty army of the King of England. Edward was so taken with his new country that he renovated Caernarfon Castle in north Wales. There his 11th child Edward was born on February 1, 1284. He was the 2nd living son and would become the heir to the throne. Alfonso, Edward's 1st son would die within a few weeks.

Edward II the 1st Prince of Wales

The Welsh people wanted to have Prince of their own, one that was born in Wales and could speak neither English or French. He must speak Welsh. The Barons went to the King with their request. He thought it was a good idea. He wined them and dined them, and then brought out his infant son Edward, declaring him their Prince of Wales. He was born in Wales and he could speak neither English or French. He promised them that he would make sure that the first language the Prince would learn to speak would be Welsh. He asked the Barons if they would be willing to serve his son as the Prince of Wales. What could they say? They agreed and on 10 May 1301 when Edward was 16 years he was formally invested as the Prince of Wales in Lincoln.

From this time forward the heir to the Crown of England has been formally invested as the Princes(ses) of Wales. It is not a hereditary title or conferred at birth, it must be conferred in an official ceremony. The jewels that the Princes have received over the centuries as gifts now make up the official Crown of Wales.

Suggested Reading:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mailbox Monday #1

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page

I haven't posted Mailbox Monday before because I do not always receive books during the week or I receive too many to list all at one time. However; I did receive a goody this week.

Virgin and the Crab: Sketches, Fables and Mysteries from the early life of John Dee and Elizabeth Tudor by Robert Parry

Robert was good enough to send me a copy of his book to read and review. I checked him out on Amazon and he has received excellent reviews.

Product Description:
The brilliant young mathematician and astronomer John Dee has one overwhelming obsession:liberty. Abandoned and humiliated, Elizabeth Tudor has one simple aim: survival. What will happen when these two are thrown together by circumstances neither can anticipate or control? This is their story as Dee and the mysterious brotherhood of the Rose Lodge - working against almost insurmountable odds and threatened by a vengeful and unforgiving Queen - attempt to guide the nation towards enlightenment and stability. Here, a parallel universe of secrecy and faith is revealed in which the unseen forces of nature support all that is visible and real - a place, too, where the special alchemy of the Virgin and the Crab works its magic, growing from childhood friendship, through adolescent flirtation to mutual respect and admiration as together they prepare to sacrifice everything for the world they wish to inherit. "One of the most extraordinary and yet untold relationships of the Tudor age."

I am thrilled at the prospect of reading this book. It sounds like it is right up my alley for the genre I love to read. What could be a better read than something royal, especially Tudor royal!!

I will be posting my review soon.

Thank-you again Robert for sending me your book!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tuesday's Old Friend...

Dogs of Bedlam Farm by Jon Katz is a relatively new friend. My husband purchased this book a few years ago while we were on vacation. It sat on the shelf for quite awhile until about 3 years ago I picked it up and started reading it. Here again it is a true story with animals so I found it very appealing. When my husband first bought the book I wasn't really interested ,I thought it would be about training dogs and that's just not my speed. I was very happy to discover it was about Jon Katz, a journalist from Manhattan purchasing a sheep farm in Bedlam, New York.

Did Jon know anything about farming? Heck No, but he was going to find out. He had always dreamed of owning a sheep farm and at least two Border Collies to help with the herd. Finally when he was in his mid 50's and very close to retirement he fulfilled his dream and purchased his sheep farm, collies and moved out of the crowded city to become a farmer. The story is very entertaining, full of humorous exploits of Jon learning how to tend sheep, a farm and train dogs. His wife, family and friends thinks he's crazy, but humor him along. The towns people of Bedlam have their doubts about his capabilities, but are there to give advise, asked for or not.

Winter sets in and Jon for all his preparation is really not prepared for the bitter minus zero weather. The winter brings about discouragement, loneliness and illness. It will be Jon's neighbors who come to his rescue, with their unselfish acts of kindness. His insight through-out the story is very thought provoking. I have laughed and cried in this book. I have shared his story many times with my friends. A very heartwarming story full of humor and drama.

Monday, October 12, 2009


I have created an Old Friends Week. I hope you will all join the fun. This weekend my husband was cleaning out our garage and he came across a box of books that had been stashed away for quite a few years. He was thrilled to find these books. He told me later that it was like getting in touch with some old friends again. That got me thinking about how I have a section of my book shelf that is just for old friends like these. You know what I'm talking about, books that you could never get rid of to a thrift store, or garage sale. These are books that you go to and just pick out parts to read over and over again. They bring you such comfort. I believe we all have these Old Friends in our book shelves and I think it would be a lot of fun to share with each other our Old Friends and why they mean so much to us. I have decided to go ahead and create a link picture you can post on your blog for this week or when ever you come across it. Just pick an Old Friend from your shelf everyday to share with all of us. Think of how all of our horizons will be broadened with new authors to investigate. It will be fun to see how many of us share the same Old Friends.

I am going to start with All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriott. I would say this book is probably one of my oldest friends on my shelf. I found this book 33 years ago when I was pregnant with my 2nd child. I had such miserable morning sickness it was hard to function. Everyday I would put my 15 month old baby down for a nap and I would take that time to nap myself and read. My friend brought this book to me and insisted I read it. She just raved and raved about it. It looked good to me. It was a true story about the life of a vet in the Yorkshire Dales in the late 1930's. I love true stories and I love stories about animals. From the very first page I was hooked! I read the book twice before returning it and was happy to discover that the sequel All Things Bright and Beautiful was already published and the same friend had a copy. I devoured that book the same way and was so anxious for the the third book All Things Wise and Wonderful to be published. I was the first on the reservation list at our local library.

Over the last 33 years I have read and re-read these stories countless times. Every chapter is an individual story. These books have truly been my friends during happy times and dark times as well. When I need some happiness and grounding in my life I will just grab one of these off the shelf and go to bed with it. They have become an institution in our home, my children know the stories, they have read the books several times themselves and I believe most of them have their own copies. I am sure many of you have read these books as well. BBC has done a wonderful job of creating a series based on these books. Check these as well. Available on NetFlix. I would love to hear from you.
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