Books

Top Reads of 2018

tr2018

I read 114 books in 2018, more than doubling my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 52. This marks the best year I’ve had since I first started participating in the challenge back in 2015, and I was very pleased to do so well. I chose a lot of great books, and my rating average for the year was 4.3 stars. I read a variety of fictional genres, including historical fiction, dystopia, fantasy, and crime/psychological thrillers. My nonfiction reading focused heavily on history, current events, social issues, and memoirs. I was entertained by the stories, and I gained a great deal of knowledge on various topics, as well. 2018 was definitely a great year for reading!

But which books were the best?

Continue reading “Top Reads of 2018”

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books by My Favorite Authors that I Still Haven’t Read

t10t

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme originated by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Click the graphic above to learn how to join in.

Today’s topic: Books By My Favorite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read.

Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday: Books by My Favorite Authors that I Still Haven’t Read”

Book Reviews

Katherine of Aragón, The True Queen by Alison Weir

katherineofaragon

Katherine, the daughter of the King and Queen of Spain, came to England and married Arthur, the Prince of Wales, only to be widowed after six months. Political intrigues following her subsequent betrothal to Henry nearly prevented her marriage to the future King, but they were wed following the death of Henry VII, and Katherine became Queen of England at last. She had no way of knowing the man she loved so deeply would eventually become the source of her greatest sorrow.

Continue reading “Katherine of Aragón, The True Queen by Alison Weir”

Book Reviews

Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir

janeseymour

This next book in the Six Tudor Queens series tells the story of Jane Seymour, third wife of King Henry VIII. This fictionalized tale of Jane’s life begins at her childhood home of Wulfhall and, in time, we see how Jane came to serve as a maid-of-honor for the Queen—Katherine of Aragon, Henry’s first wife. When she arrives, the King’s pursuit of Anne Boleyn, another of Katherine’s maid’s-of-honor, is already well underway. Jane remains fiercely loyal to her beloved Queen Katherine, even after she is forced to leave her and serve Anne, instead. When Anne is unable to provide a son for the King, he sets his sights on Jane, and marries her eleven days after Anne’s beheading. Jane was able to give Henry the son he so greatly desired, but died shortly thereafter.

Continue reading “Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir”

Book Reviews

Anne Boleyn, a King’s Obsession by Alison Weir

anneboleyn

I think it’s safe to say that if you have a love of history, as well as a keen interest in royalty, there is a strong probability you’re fascinated with King Henry VIII, and his many wives. It’s also likely you remember the order of his wives thanks to this mnemonic device: Divorced (Katherine of Aragon), beheaded (Anne Boleyn), died (Jane Seymour), divorced (Anne of Cleves), beheaded (Catherine Howard), survived (Catherine Parr). Such is the case with me… my fascination with Henry VIII and his wives took root as soon as I first learned about him.

Through the years, I’ve done a fair amount of reading on the subject—both fictional and factual—but I must confess that of all the wives, it’s the story of Anne Boleyn that most strongly captured my interest. Depending upon the writer of the book (or article), Anne Boleyn was either a conniving, manipulative woman who seduced the king and was guilty of adultery during their marriage, or a woman who genuinely loved her husband (and also enjoyed wielding the power that came with being Queen of England), who was wrongly accused and ultimately put to death so that the King might find a new Queen to provide him with the longed-for male heir to the throne. I, myself, am sympathetic towards Anne and like to think that her character lies somewhere in the middle—not completely good, but not completely bad, either. Sadly, much of the truth of her life has been lost over the centuries, so there’s no way to be completely sure of the type of woman she was; whether history has recorded her nature truly or falsely is something we can never know for certain. Perhaps it is for that reason Anne Boleyn is such an attractive subject to write about in novels, weaving known facts with speculations on what her life, and her motivations as Queen, were like.

Anne Boleyn, a King’s Obsession is historical fiction at its finest. Weir’s vision of Anne’s life may differ with those of Boleyn enthusiasts, but I didn’t let my own preconceived notions about Anne interfere with my enjoyment of the book… and I enjoyed it immensely. I found it to be a wonderfully written novel, and I was reluctant to set it aside, but even I have to sleep sometimes.

Weir does a fine job, in this reader’s opinion, of making Anne neither sinner nor saint in totality. There are times Anne strays closer to one side or the other for a while, but this served to bring her to life in my mind, showing her to be a complex person prone to conflict of thought and feeling, rather than the caricature she could easily have become in the writings of a less skilled author.

For me, the most intense part of the novel was Anne’s impending death. I could feel her shock at the accusations against her, her despair when she realized Henry would not intervene and prevent her death, and, finally, her acceptance of the inevitable. Weir’s Anne goes to her execution gracefully, with a quiet dignity that is unshakeable right up to her final moments.  The death scene itself was not at all what I expected, but something more… it was unique (compared to other scenes I’ve read about Anne’s beheading) and made a sad ending even more heartbreaking.

I highly recommend novel this to Tudor enthusiasts. I think this is a novel you will enjoy getting lost in for a while.

I received an advance review copy of this novel courtesy of Ballantine Books via Netgalley.

Add to Goodreads

Author: Alison Weir
Title: Anne Boleyn, a King’s Obsession
Series: Six Tudor Queens #2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: May 16, 2017 by Ballantine Books
Rating: 5 stars

Other books in this series:

About the Book

A novel filled with new insights into the story of Henry VIII’s second—and most infamous—wife, Anne Boleyn. The second book in the epic Six Tudor Queens series, from the acclaimed historian and bestselling author of Katherine of Aragon.

 

It is the spring of 1527. Henry VIII has come to Hever Castle in Kent to pay court to Anne Boleyn. He is desperate to have her. For this mirror of female perfection he will set aside his Queen and all Cardinal Wolsey’s plans for a dynastic French marriage.

 

Anne Boleyn is not so sure. She loathes Wolsey for breaking her betrothal to the Earl of Northumberland’s son, Harry Percy, whom she had loved. She does not welcome the King’s advances; she knows that she can never give him her heart.

 

But hers is an opportunist family. And whether Anne is willing or not, they will risk it all to see their daughter on the throne…

About the Author

ALISON WEIR is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Marriage Game, A Dangerous Inheritance, Captive Queen, The Lady Elizabeth, and Innocent Traitor and numerous historical biographies, including The Lost Tudor Princess, Elizabeth of York, Mary Boleyn, The Lady in the Tower, Mistress of the Monarchy, Henry VIII, Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Life of Elizabeth I, and The Six Wives of Henry VIII. She lives in Surrey, England, with her husband.