Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"The Queen's Rival" by Diane Haeger

Title: The Queen's Rival
Author: Diane Haeger
Published: New American Library, 1 March 2011
Where I Got It: The publisher sent me an ARC

[No, I'm not back. I received this book 3 months ago, read the book that night and wrote this review the next day. I wanted to post the review closer to the initial release day....so here it is!]

It's official - Diane Haeger is one of my favorite authors. I love her ongoing series about Henry VIII's court, and The Queen's Rival was no disappointment. I read it in less than 24 hours.

This book explores the life of Bessie Blount, one of Henry's very first mistresses. Though not much is known about Bessie's early life, we follow her through her years as a maid-of-honor to Queen Katherine of Aragon, her affair with Henry, and the birth of their illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy. Little Henry is the only bastard that the king ever acknowledged as his own. Barely at the age of ten, young Henry was bestowed as the Duke of Richmond - he was later seriously contended to become the king's heir to the throne. Bessie's and the king's affair comes to an end when the child is very young, mainly due to two new girls at court: the Boleyn sisters. Mary Boleyn is just a brief dalliance, but Anne is a tempting, alluring, and lustful object for the king to conquer - but we all know how that story ends. The book concludes with the death of teenaged Henry Fitzroy. The grief that his two parents feel is heartbreaking; Bessie, because she lost her dear firstborn son and reminders of happier days with the king, and Henry because he has lost his one and only living son, and possible heir. 

Diane Haeger always picks very interesting figures to write about (I loved The Secret Bride, about Henry's sister Mary). Bessie Blount was very prominent in her days at court, days that are often forgotten when Anne Boleyn and more notorious women later come into play. It was refreshing to read a book that took place around Henry VIII but did NOT focus on one of his wives. I also liked this look at the younger (20ish) Henry VIII; I've read too much about him where he's just the old, fat ailing King. Here, he was a man with whom every woman at court was in love with. Bessie was a character I like very much. She is portrayed as a very clever girl, if not a little too lovesick sometimes. She certainly led a very interesting life. I also read elsewhere that Bessie later briefly served Anne of Cleves - can you imagine how awkward that would be?? 

4.5 stars to a well written and very interesting book. DEFINITELY recommended to all lovers of the Tudors and romantic historical fiction. Go out and buy it the second it comes out! It'll be worth it. A big thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC - it was much appreciated!

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Where is the good in goodbye?"

Okay. I know I've done this before, but this time is for real. I am for all practical purposes shutting down my blog. I have absolutely no motivation to keep it up and maintained. If I feel like I am being forced/obligated to post, then something is wrong. I see other bloggers who have such a love for their blog put together amazing, thought provoking posts....and I feel so inferior in comparison. It's not overshadowing that is making this decision for me, but just stress in my life. Things aren't going so well for me at the moment.

While I won't be posting on this blog, I'll still be contributing to The Broke & the Bookish on a regular basis. I'll have new reviews going up there. Also, I have recently discovered tumblr, and am OBSESSED. I update that a lot. I'll also still be on goodreads and of course Twitter, though I may be a little quieter.

I'm so glad I got into the book blogosphere and am so glad I met some of you. It's just time to take a break.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

IMM (5)

I feel so brave attempting another In My Mailbox vlog...I think, if it's possible, I may be getting slightly less awkward. Anyways, In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren. It's a great place to showcase book we've recently received!

Books Mentioned:
The Queen's Mistake by Diane Haeger
Poison Study by Maria Snyder
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan

Blogs Mentioned:
Tahleen's Mixed-Up Files (thanks again for the book!)

I now realize how heartless I sound when I'm talking about my sick roommate....but she's really evil.


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