Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Top 10 Favorite Heroines

It's time for my favorite meme: Top Ten Tuesday!
Be aware, my list is composed of mostly historical characters (of course)! I'm also trying out a new layout, so things may look a bit messy.

Top 10 Favorite Heroines

Anne Boleyn in any novel
LOVE HER. She is portrayed in many different ways in different novels, but it's always interesting to see how she will be written out. I believe she was a strong, brave, and falsely accused woman.

Elizabeth I in any novel
Well I have to like Anne Boleyn's daughter, don't I? I've only recently been interested in Elizabeth, but still find her fascinating. I believe her decision to never marry was heroic; she was standing up against her political advisors and people so she could better her country.

Laura Ingalls Wilder in the Little House series
Seriously, she was a badass even as a little girl. I adored reading her stories about her life when I was a little girl, especially since I was tomboy-ish like her. This woman and her family went through so much! It's quite amazing and makes wonderful literature. I would also group her daughter Rose with her.

Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series
I feel like this doesn't even need any justification. She's just Hermione. She was a bit annoying at times, but truly strong and courageous. Add in the fact that she's smart and loves to read automatically makes her one of my favorite characters!

Elizabeth Bennett in Pride & Prejudice
Here's another obvious one. She's been a literary heroine and favorite for a long time. Lizzy is bookish, smart, witty, and unafraid. Her personality is so different from most of Jane Austen's other characters that it's a nice, refreshing change.

Katherine of Aragon in The Constant Princess
I would normally group Katherine in 'any novel,' since I adore her, but most of the time she's portrayed as a bitter, stubborn, crazy Catholic hag (seriously). In The Constant Princess, she is given a fresh, young visage who was cruelly cast aside and forgotten. While she still is stubborn, all she really is doing is standing up for what she believes in.

Jane Eyre in....Jane Eyre
I don't know what else I can say about Jane Eyre that hasn't already been said. It's been awhile since I've read the book, but I just remember Jane being calm and collected in the face of trouble. She's just cool.

Mattie Gokey in A Northern Light
Another book lover! I was rooting for her to make the decision to go to college--it's especially amazing in a time when it was rare that a women ever did go to college. Mattie is one of my favorite YA characters.

Lady Jane Grey in Innocent Traitor
Ha ha! Another list to put this book in! :) I think I've rambled enough about Jane Grey and why she's awesome (if you haven't heard my gushings over her, check out this review of Innocent Traitor). She was young and wronged, yet, at least in the book, she handled her untimely downfall so eloquently.

Monday, August 30, 2010

"The Young Victoria" movie review

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

Released: March 6, 2009 (UK)

Starring: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Mark Strong

I've decided that, for my blog's sake, it might be wise to include things other that book reviews. Gasp! It's a big step, I know. That's why I'm going to take baby steps and review a historical period piece. It's still in my comfort zone, yet a change.

So, here we go. This movie had been on my radar for quite awhile. I'm not sure if it was ever actually released in the U.S. (at least anywhere near me it wasn't), so it took me a long time to find it. Last May it was shown on a movie channel my school's cable provider offers, but my roommate was vacuuming the whole time (grr), and then I went home for two months! I finally rented it on iTunes a few weeks ago.

The movie, for obvious reasons, focuses on the young Queen Victoria (portrayed wonderfully by
Emily Blunt). It begins about a year before she becomes queen and shows the struggle that she had with her mother, the Duchess of Kent (played by Miranda Richardson), and Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong) over her future power. We are also introduced to Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) and the beginnings of his and Victoria's love affair. When she becomes queen, she encounters many new problems (rebels, more power struggles, and ultimately a new husband). We end the movie right after the birth of her first child, Vicky.

I must say that I LOVE Emily Blunt as Victoria! The fact that she's one of my favorite actresses may bias me (I adored her in Henry VIII as Katherine Howard and in The Devil Wears Prada), but she'd gotten rave reviews for this role as well. Other than actually resembling Victoria, she portrays her with such elegance, but with fire and power as well. Since historically Victoria grew to be a rather rotund woman (almost as wide as she was tall), I don't think I could ever picture Emily Blunt like that....I guess there won't be a sequel, The Old Victoria. :)

One of my favorite parts of this film were the costumes. As a historical geek, this part of period pieces, along with scenery, fascinates me. Not surprising, these costumes are GORGEOUS! I believe that the costume designer for The Young Victoria won an Oscar; I will heartily say that it was well deserved! All of the dresses on the left were worn by Emily Blunt and Miranda Richardson in the movie, along with many, many others. (On a related note, did you know that Miranda Richardson played Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? The two characters are very much alike in both of these movies). My personal favorite dress is the blueish-purple one in the front. Actually, I don't know, I like almost all of them!

Well, every rose has its thorn. I guess I need to talk about some of the bad aspects. It seemed like they crammed a lot of history into a very short movie (it's just over 1 1/2 hours long). As a result, it also felt as if the big climatic moments (in particular her coronation) were extremely rushed. This should be the best moment in the entire film! Victoria has overcome her enemies and is about to begin one of the greatest reigns of England, but only 10 seconds is dedicated to it. This is also the case with her and Albert's wedding. Like I said before, it's a pretty short movie. When the end credits popped up, I stared at the screen and went, "That's it? I want MORE!" It was a bit of a letdown.

All in all, this was a lovely film. It was beautifully made and covered a very interesting piece of England's history. I would recommend this to history lovers, of course, but I'm positive that non-history lovers will love it as well. There is plenty of drama and romance to satisfy other genre lovers.

4 stars.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

OK, so I've never done one of these before, but since I bought a ton of exciting books recently, I wanted some place to show them off! :)

The Secret Bride: In the Court of Henry VIII by Diane Haeger

I'm really excited for this one, as it's about Princess Mary, Henry VIII's sister, a character I've been dying to read more about. This one focuses about her marriage to both the King of France and Charles Brandon.

The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir

LOVE Alison Weir! I realized that I've read so much about the Tudors, but have somehow neglected Elizabeth! Wanting to differentiate fact from fiction, I thought I'd turn to my all-time favorite historian.

The Children of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

Yeah yeah, another Alison Weir book. I'd heard raves about this book from the Tudor History Lovers group on goodreads, and it was only $2.50, so why not? Besides Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth, Lady Jane Grey is also thrown in here, which should be interesting.

The Courts of Love by Jean Plaidy

Eleanor of Aquitaine has always interested me. I tried a non-fiction on her first, but was a bit overwhelmed. I figured a Jean Plaidy fiction novel was a good place to start!

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

My blogger friend Tahleen sent this book to me! I know basically nothing about Cleopatra, so this should be an interesting read. I'm less that 100 pages into it and have found out so many cool facts!

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

Required reading that is fun! I have to read this for my Physiological Psychology class, but it'd been on my TBR list for a long time, so it's a treat to read this! (Boo for it being $15 from the school bookstore though).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 27 Blog Hop!

Hosted by Jen at Crazy-for-Books!

This week's question is:

Do you use a rating system?

Yup, it's over there on the left. I sort of want to use an ABCDF scale (or at least something a little more creative), but find that the 0-5 star scale allows for more leeway, especially when I am unsure. I am a big fan of the happy medium of 3.5 stars! Fivers are rare.

Happy weekend! Thanks for stopping by.

"Eleanor of Aquitaine" by Alison Weir

Title: Eleanor of Aquitaine
Author: Alison Weir
Published: Ballantine Books, 2000
Where I Got It: The library
Why I Read It: Why not?

Alison Weir, I continue to bow down to you! You never cease to amaze me. I may think I am knowledgeable about a subject/person/era, and you laugh in my face with your wonderful, well-researched, interesting books. You could be a cult leader for all I know; you say something is fact, and I will believe it. This book is no exception.

As her usual non-fiction, Eleanor of Aquitaine is no light read. I found myself struggling through parts of it and wondering if it would ever end. We learn all about every known aspect of Eleanor's life: her lineage, early childhood, marriages, children, feats, and later life. There is a chapter solely about the geography and trade of Aquitaine. Another interesting chapter is about the daily lives of those living in England in the mid-twelfth century. So many facts and tidbits are crammed into this book!

She may have been a very important woman, but there's not all that much historical record of her. There are long periods of Eleanor's life that are just plain missing from records; we don't know where she was or what she was up to. That being said, I still feel in order to fill those gaps we get waayyyyy too in depth into the lives of Louis VI, Henry II and Richard and John. We learn so much about their antics, which is interesting, but I truthfully didn't care about them. I was reading this book for Eleanor, obviously. If Alison Weir had written this book strictly focusing on Eleanor herself, it could have been reduced down to, oh, 100 pages or so and been ten times easier to get through.

I've heard about Eleanor of Aquitaine for a long time and knew the basics of her life, but this was the first book I'd read solely about her. Because of that fact, I felt lost half of the time. I would only recommend this book if you are pretty familiar and comfortable with Eleanor's life. In order to get a clearer picture of her, I'm going to resort to some of Jean Plaidy's fiction, The Courts of Love. Hopefully I'll get a nice, simplified version, then maybe I'll pick up this book again.

3.5 stars.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Top 10 Books I Can't Believe I've Never Read

It's Tuesday, that means another Top 10 Tuesday!

This week's list is:
Top 10 book I can't believe I've never read

[In no particular order]

  1. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  5. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  6. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  7. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  9. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
  10. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Holy Mary Mother of God, the more I look at this list, the more I think "And you call yourself a reader?! You're an idiot!" Seriously, what kind of schooling did I have? This may be the saddest thing ever.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides

Title: Middlesex
Author: Jeffrey Eugenides
Published: Picador USA, 2002
Where I Got It: My favorite thrift store
Why I Read It: Goodreads College Student's group read!

It's my day to review over on The Broke and the Bookish!

I'm not sure I would have ever picked up this book if it hadn't been a group read. I think it was really the Oprah's Book Club sticker on the front, which would have revealed to the world that I had succumbed to the masses (Oprah and I have a love/hate relationship). Nevertheless, I'm so glad I did.

Middlesex is a fictional story of a man named Cal Stephanides with a condition called 5-alpha-reductase deficiency...aka, he is a hermaphrodite. He was raised as a girl (called Calliope), but never his puberty. That raised questions, and when he learned of his 'condition,' Cal instantly accepted and adapted himself as a boy. He basically walked out of the door, shed his girl clothes, got a haircut, and was a boy.

I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here, as Cal's story and transformation is really only the last third of the book. In the previous pages, we meet his peculiar and unforgettable family. The first part of the book is about his grandparents,Desdemona and Lefty. We learn about the beginnings of their extremely odd relationship and their emigration to America after fleeing the 1922 Greek/Turkish war. In the second part, Desdemona and Lefty are assimilating into American culture and trying to survive in their new country. Cal’s parents, Tessie and Milton, also come into the picture against a backdrop of economic troubles and race riots in Detroit. Finally, Cal makes his entrance in 1960, only as a little girl. We follow Cal throughout the rest of the book as he grew up, went to school, made friends and was a seemingly normal girl. It was only until he was around 10-11 that things started to get tweaky. In my opinion, that’s where the book really hits its stride and takes off.

The author does not mince words or gloss over the details. We read every detail of Cal’s awkward encounters with both males and females, his body parts, and other’s thoughts on his condition. The reader is told all of this by a middle-aged Cal, written in a memoir form. The remembrance of his life brings us and Cal a fresh new perspective.

One of my biggest problems was that the Calliope/Cal transformation is so abrupt that I felt it lacked any emotion. The rest of Cal’s experiences are filled with emotion and personal insight, but this big change almost came out of nowhere. It was hard for me to understand why he accepted this change so easily. Also, the author has a thing with names, or a lack of names. Cal’s grandfather is named Lefty, his brother is Chapter Eleven, and Cal’s friend/source of infatuation is only known as ‘The Object.’ Unknown/unexplained nicknames are a pet peeve of mine.

Middlesex is not your typical coming of age story. It is extremely awkward in places and sometimes difficult to think about. Even though it's fiction, it's still very real. Jeffrey Eugenides is a great writer and has developed an interesting plot. Even though this is not the type of book I would typically read, I enjoyed it immensely. 4 stars.

Friday, August 20, 2010

"The Lady Elizabeth" by Alison Weir

Title: The Lady Elizabeth
Author: Alison Weir
Published: Ballantine Books, 2008
Where I Got It: Ordered it online somewhere
Why I Read It: Because I wanted to

I love to read about Henry VIII, his wives, and oldest daughter Mary I, but I've never really read an entire book dedicated to Elizabeth I. I decided that one written by my favorite author was a good place to start!

I adored this look into Elizabeth's life before she was queen, a time that is not really known or explored too well. The book opens around the time that Anne Boleyn was executed, and ends when Elizabeth learns that she will be Queen. The fact that this novel was in third person rather than first allows us to get a cleaner look into the minds of the influential and important people around Elizabeth. She truly had a uneasy, traumatic childhood, with the execution of her mother and the constant fear she lived in while Mary was on the throne.

One aspect that I like was the evolution of Mary I. When we see her at the beginning of the book, she is still a young woman, and seems to genuinely care for Elizabeth, especially with the fact that she had just lost her mother. Throughout the course of the book, Mary changes from that mother-like figure to the old, worried, almost maniacal queen.

*Maybe a spoiler, but not really*
The author takes on the controversial and slight rumor that Elizabeth actually had a child at sometime in her lifetime. Here, she miscarries the child of Thomas Seymour. While I don't think Elizabeth ever had a child, especially at that age, it was still an interesting point. I also applaud Weir for adding a footnote saying that this was merely speculation.
*End the maybe-ish spoiler*

I think the only thing about The Lady Elizabeth that I didn't like was a sentence at the very end. I won't write it here (who would want to know the last sentence beforehand?), but it is one of the dorkiest lines ever written. When I read it, I scrunched up my nose, went "Seriously?" and then burst out laughing.

This was one of those books that just reinforced my love for Alison Weir! As I said before, I find it respectable that she sticks to the facts, only adding in little details that are unknown or unsure. Highly recommend, especially for those Tudor-lovers!

4 stars.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire" by Amanda Foreman

Title: Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire
Author: Amanda Foreman
Published: Modern Library, 1998
Where I Got It: The library
Why I Read It: Because I wanted to! Best reason ever.

OK, I admit it, the real reason I read this book was in case I ever wanted to watch the movie. Well, I read it back in December of 2009 and have yet to watch The Duchess. It may be because iTunes doesn't have rentals of it yet, or because I loathe Keira Knightley, either or. More of that rant later!

So everybody knows Princess Diana right? Of her antics, fame, and how her legacy has only gotten stronger after her death? Yeah, well meet her great-great-great-great-aunt, the Lady Georgiana Spencer. Georgiana was equally as infamous and scandalous in her day in the late 1700s as her descendant. At age 17, she married one of the richest men in England, the Duke of Devonshire. Georgiana was a fashion goddess, socialite, a dear friend of Marie Antoinette and the Prince of Wales, and a political powerhouse.

She was loved by the masses, but underneath hid suffering, problems, and addictions. She was a compulsive gambler, was unloved by her husband, and was repeatedly duped by Bess, her best friend. Bess also happened to be a mistress to the Duke; she and Georgiana both had his children, as well as other men's. Her later life is very sad as it slowly spirals downwards.

The very first line of the book is: "Biographers are notorious for falling in love with their subjects." I don't have the same problem, as I definitely did NOT fall in love with Georgiana. Her story was tragic, fun, and extremely interesting, but the majority of the people in her life just pissed me off (i.e. Bess, heck, even Georgiana herself). This books shows the good and bad of the 18/19th century noble life. The descriptions of grand houses, dresses, hairstyles and events are fabulous, yet these are marred by the arrogant, self-centered pricks who actually lived these lives.

I'm going to judge that the book is better than the movie. It's just one of those that has to be. So why haven't I watched it? Here begins my Keira Knightley rant: It's not that she's is a bad actress, I actually think she's fantastic. I think it's really her appearance; she's just so freaking skinny that her head looks humongous. She also has atrocious hair in the movie, maybe that's another reason I've been scared away.

4 stars.

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Year of Wonders" by Geraldine Brooks

Title: Year of Wonders
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Published: Penguin, 2001
Where I Got It: The library
Why I Read It: I'd heard some buzz about it

Book reviewers I trust had ranted about this book for a long time, and I figured I should check it out. Heck, it's #24 on the Best Historical Fiction list on goodreads. It's historical fiction, about the plague, and set in England, what's not for me to like?

The book is about a young woman named Anna living in a small village in England, that through unfortunate events, is diseased with plague in 1666. As death reaches into every household, the lives and relationships of the villagers are changed forever, leading to extreme actions and disastrous endings. Sound pretty epic to me.

That being said...I really wanted to like this book. The overall plot is an interesting and novel idea...but it was just written to be too boring for me. Even when exciting and unexpected things do happen, it was written in a very bland way. It was one of those "Wait, did something happen? Oh, someone died in a horrific way? How did I miss that?" moments . OK, this sounds a little seedy, but I was also expecting it to be more graphic and...well, gross. Based on some reviews I read, I was expecting to have to carry a trashcan around with me to throw up in. Yeah, that didn't happen. The Plague was anything but simple or skimpy on details, why make the book like that?

Even with the not so great writing, I still would have given it a higher rating if it hadn't been for the ending. Out of nowhere it turned into some sort of 21st century Hollywood movie with action, sex, and scandal...but not in a good way. It was almost as if the author was getting bored with her own story, and to save it, scribbled down some strange climax at the last moment. It was so out of place and almost unnecessary.

It was still a decent book, just a little disappointing. 2 stars.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Falling Angels" by Tracy Chevalier

Title: Falling Angels
Author: Tracy Chevalier
Published: Plume, 2001
Where I Got It: I sound repetitive, Goodwill
Why I Read It: I loved Girl with a Pearl Earring by the same author

I was hooked by the very first page, no, the very first sentence.

"I woke this morning with a stranger in my bed."

What a hook. I just had to keep reading! Anyways, within the opening pages, Queen Victoria dies. Two seemingly different London families living different lives meet at the cemetery to mourn her. One family looks towards the future and change, the other family is firmly rooted in their Victorian ways. These families become entwined with each other and the rest of the book follows them throughout nine years of ups and downs.

Some argue that the mothers/wives of the two families, Kitty and Gertrude, are the main characters of the book. I believe that their daughters, Maude and Lavinia, are the two stars. They endure the most change throughout the story. We watch them grow up through the eyes of their parents, friends, household, and each other.

There are a lot of characters and side stories; usually, this would throw me off and annoy me. Here, not the case. All of the characters are fresh, interesting, and realistic. Each individual's voice is distinctive and offers a new perspective to the story. The cemetery, where the two families originally meet, acts as a character itself. It's where the title of the book came from, where many other significant events take place, and represents Victorian England's obsession with death.

An interesting side story is Kitty Coleman's involvement in the women's suffrage movement. The actions that she takes greatly affect both families, and lead to the heartbreaking ending. I felt I learned a great deal about not only the suffrage movement, but also about Victorian/Edwardian customs in the household and for mourning.

I loved everything about this book. I love books that are either found by accident or are seemingly unheard of that turn out to be jewels. This is definitely one of those; a keeper to read over and over. 5 stars.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

August 12 Blog Hop!

Hosted by Jen at Crazy-for-Books!

This week's question is:

How many books are there on your TBR shelf?

I thought my TBR shelf was HUGE, with 179 books on it. While sniffing around on goodreads, I've noticed that it's definitely one of the smaller ones :) I do try to keep it to a minimum....as a personal rule, my TBR shelf cannot exceed my 'Own' shelf (which is about 190 books). Still, at the rate I'm going, it's probably going to take me years and years to finish my list!

Thanks for stopping by! I promise I'll get back to everyone sometime this weekend!

Edit: Since last night, I've added four to my list! I have a problem.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Top 10 Most Dislikable Characters

It's Tuesday, that means another Top 10 Tuesday!

This week's list is:
The top 10 most dislikable characters

  1. Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series: UGH. I HATED this woman. I wish the centaurs had crucified her when they had the chance. I did like how she was portrayed in the movies, she was quite excellent at being evil.

  2. Katie Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: She had some redeeming points in the book, especially towards the end, but I really disliked the way Katie acted towards her daughter and husband especially.
  3. Fanny Price from Mansfield Park: I always wanted to kick this girl's ass. After reading about Elizabeth Bennett in Pride & Prejudice, Fanny is such a let down. In my opinion, she's weak and boring. She barely has her own voice in the book about her.
  4. William Hamleigh from The Pillars of the Earth: If you've read the book you know just how awful he is. What a prick. That is all.
  5. Rebecca Bloomwood in Confessions of a Shopaholic: I have no patience for these kinds of women: frivolous, whiny girls with no self-control. Don't think I'm going to read an entire series filled with this type of girl. I think I hated Rebecca from the second page.
  6. Mrs. de Winters from Rebecca: Just another whiny, insecure wuss always fretting about what others thought of her. She took away some of the awesomeness that filled the rest of the book.
  7. Pretty much every character from Wuthering Heights: Yeah. I don't know what else to say. I disliked this book with a passion because all the characters were drama queens.
  8. Clare from The Time Traveler's Wife: She whines a lot (I have a thing with whining obviously). I admit, she has good reason for whining most of the time, but I was just sick of it.
  9. Frances Brandon from Innocent Traitor: I think this woman out-evils Umbridge because she was a real person. Frances beat her child incessantly for lame things and was a part of the plot to put her daughter on the throne....which only lead to her daughter's execution. Since I shamelessly promote this book in every list, read it just to find out how evil this woman is!
  10. Bella Swan from Twilight: I know, I know, total cop out. It's not so much that I hate Bella, it's that I hate Kristen Stewart. And her lip biting problem.
Next week's list:
Top 10 Book Blogs You Love

Sunday, August 8, 2010

"Sex with the Queen" by Eleanor Herman

Title: Sex with the Queen:900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics
Author: Eleanor Herman
Published: William Morrow, 2006
Where I Got It: Barnes & Noble online
Why I Read It: It was marked down to $1.99, I couldn't pass it up!

I think I have found a new favorite book. In the follow-up book to Sex with Kings, we get a whirlwind tale through 900 years of European royalty, all told through the eyes of the queen’s bedroom. From Eleanor of Aquitaine to Princess Diana, from England to France to Germany to Russia, we go into the secret lives of some of the most famous women in history.

This book isn’t only about the love lives of queens (though it’s hard to think otherwise with the huge red SEX on the cover and a bare butt). The first third of the book is actually about what a queen/princess’ life really was like. Very few of these women’s lives were fairy tales. Most were pawned off to other countries to eradicate men’s debts or problems, lived in a foreign country, and had acquired difficult husbands.

So, as a woman, I of course have a problem with some things. The King was allowed to have as many mistresses as he desired; in fact, it was ideal that he didn’t love his wife. She was only there to produce heirs. On the other hand, if the Queen had even one lover, she could possibly be divorced, or both she and her lover could be imprisoned, tortured, or executed.

Some of these women went through lovers like I go through underwear. It was shocking at the number of men Catherine the Great bedded, even well into old age. Another woman of many lovers was Princess Diana, of whom the author is definitely NOT a fan of. Princess Di was always put in a bad light in this book, yet it is slightly refreshing after her rise to almost sainthood status after death.

One of the biggest points that I found was I need to expand myself out of English history a bit. There are definitely some interesting people and events elsewhere, especially in France. Affairs, beheadings, and general royalty-related drama are not just a specialization of sixteenth century England!

The stories are never too long, always short, sweet, and to the point. The only ones that are truly long are Anne Boleyn’s and Catherine the Great’s stories (but they’re both good ones!). Eleanor Herman definitely has a sense of humor and a knack for making history interesting. I’d recommend this book to people who aren’t even history buffs like me. Parts of it read like a gossip column and I read bits of it out loud to my roommates who got a kick out of it. Definitely recommend, especially for females. 5 stars!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award!

I decided that since I got 5 of these awards, I'd have to do it!
A million thanks to the bloggers that have enjoyed my blog enough to give me this award!
I really appreciate it!

  1. I obviously love history with a passion, but the one and only history class I've taken in college I got a D in. You know why? It was an American History class. I fail at the history of my own country.
  2. When I was a freshman in high school, I had a stroke. Because of that I have a horrible memory...I used to have a photographic memory, not so much anymore. I only remember things that are truly important to me.
  3. I have two cats...well, sort of. They are mine but live back home with my parents. One has been missing since January of 2009, but I still have hope! They are my babies.
  4. I look extremely young for my age. I turn 20 on October 2nd of this year and am a senior in college, but just last week, I was mistaken for a middle schooler. It's pretty annoying now, but I know when I'm much older I'll love it!
  5. I am deathly afraid of needles. I still need my mom to go with me to the doctors when I know I'm getting a shot. Seriously, I'm getting uneasy just thinking about them right now!
  6. I hate it when people touch my neck. If you do, I will freak out and probably punch you in the face, I don't care who you are.
  7. There are currently 48 countries I want to visit before I die and the list is always growing. England tops the list.
I think I'm going to cheat a little and not tag anybody yet; hopefully I'll get around to that soon.
Thanks again guys! :)

Also, I'll be posting another review later tonight. It's a good one!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"The Six Wives of Henry VIII" by Alison Weir

Title: The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Author: Alison Weir
Published: Grove Press, 1991
Where I Got It: Somewhere online
Why I Read It: It's an obvious choice for me

What can I possibly say about this book? It's near perfect. Alison Weir (whom I love dearly!) reveals the histories and personalities of each of Henry VIII's six wives. Detailed family backgrounds and individual quirks allows the reader get a good glimpse into a great time in England's history.

The good. Alison Weir obviously spent years painstakingly researching every detail and fact that went into the book, and it pays off. I feel as if I personally know each of the wives. It had the possibility of being textbook-like, but it read like a big, detailed epic. I lovelovelove the family trees in the back. It seems like Henry was in someway distantly related to almost all of his wives!

The bad. More than half of the book was about Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Granted they are the most popular and/or controversial, and their stories span over many years, but because of that, I felt that I knew enough about them already. The rest of the wives were all crammed into the remaining pages. Poor Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves only have a chapter each, while Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr have two each. I liked the pictures (well, um, paintings), but I wish there were more.

I now have much more respect for the Showtime show
The Tudors. The writers had a tendency to mess around with history, like combining Henry's two sisters into one, making fake mistresses (grr, I still hate you Ursula Misseldon!), etc. However, in this book I realized that the show does take words and circumstances directly from history. Anne's final confession was word for word in the show, and so are a lot of other quirky lines; before I just thought these were clever lines from the minds of the writers. I felt so important in recognizing these!

While already semi-knowledgeable about this period of time, I seriously learned so much from this book! While I don't think this is much of a lay-by-the-pool-and-relax-on-vacation book, it is definitely a must read for all lovers of any kind of history. 5 stars!

Random thought: Jane Seymour is always, always, ALWAYS portrayed as the innocent, saint-like virgin. Am I the only one that thinks she looks kind of evil?
Not the most flattering portrait, but still.


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