Book Review: “Queen of Martyrs: The Story of Mary I” by Samantha Wilcoxson

Hello!

I actually wasn’t going to post this review so soon, but in order to (hopefully) go with my plan for next month’s posts, I need more room within the last two weeks of October, so I had to come up with a Plan B, and this was it.

On Wednesday, I published my review for the first book in the Plantagenet Embers series, which was about Elizabeth of York. I mentioned that I was in the middle of a Plantagenet/Tudor phase, at the moment, and I was currently reading this book, while in reality I was flying through it, which is how it the review is coming out much sooner than I had originally planned. I hope you enjoy this post and maybe it’ll inspire you to check out Samantha’s books!


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How did a gentle, pious woman become known as ‘Bloody Mary’?
 
‘God save the Queen! God save our good Queen Mary!’

When these words rang out over England, Mary Tudor thought her troubles were over. She could put her painful past – the loss of her mother and mistreatment at the hands of her father – behind her.

With her accession to the throne, Mary set out to restore Catholicism in England and find the love of a husband that she had long desired. But the tragedies in Mary’s life were far from over.
 
Step into Tudor England

taken from Amazon.


I’ll be honest, I have never been interested with anything to do with Mary I.

I know what I’m about to say is debatable, but I wholeheartedly believe Matilda of Flanders and Lady Jane Grey were both Queen of England, as they were named heirs to the throne by their previous kings, so is Mary I truly the first queen? This question may never find an acceptable answer.

Mary had been raised as her father’s heir, a beloved princess who would one day rule in her own right,

It was interesting to meet this woman who was so caring of others, turn into this “monster” who ordered the deaths of heretics. I do know that for my first fictionized view of Mary’s life after the deaths of her beloved mother Catherine of Aragon and former governess Lady Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury until her final day on Earth.

You have an unique chance to see how she treated everyone, including her relationships with her younger siblings Edward VI and the future Queen Elizabeth I. She is so full of love being around them, although she never really grew to trust her sister, but with Edward, that connection was clearly different in the beginning, before he becomes king. You see her around her stepmother Katheryn Parr, to her ladies-in-waiting, counselors, husband Philip of Spain, and her cousin Cardinal Reginald Pole.

After reading this book, I believe she never found someone she could truly love and trust other than her God. I’ve personally never understood the Catholic faith, so I don’t want to pass judgement on her or anyone else. However, there’s a part towards the end where she asks her sister if she would like to be sent to a convent, after Elizabeth declines a marriage proposal. It’s interesting how devout Mary was to her faith, but she seemed like she couldn’t submit to God like a nun, if Mary hadn’t been next on the succession to the throne, would she have give up all of her royal things to become a nun? It’s just a thought really.

Now let’s discuss her aliments that she seems to have suffered all throughout her life. The extreme headaches, nausea, and eventual mass in her abdomen. I was familiar with the story of her experiencing a phantom pregnancy, this really broke my heart as I had become somewhat sympatric to her up until this point. The part I was a bit confused on was what kind of sickness was she dealing with between the last of her father’s reign and beginning of her brother’s?

Well, this is my theory of it. both Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon actually share a common ancestor, Catherine of Lancaster. Catherine was the daughter of John of Gaunt, the 1st Duke of Lancaster. She was born to the red side of what would be part of The War of the Roses. Sound familiar to you? Catherine would go on to marry Henry II of Castile. They had a son by the name of John II of Castile, who in turn fathered a daughter, the future co-ruler Isabella of Castile, who would later marry Ferdinand of Aragon. These were Catherine’s parents and Queen Mary’s grandparents.

Her coronation must include the traditions of those who had gone before her, with the vital exception that she was not male.

Let’s go back through John of Gaunt’s line. John had married three times, Blanche, Constance and lastly his mistress Lady Katherine Swymford. Katherine would give birth to four children; since their children out of wedlock, they were not given their father’s surname, instead they were the Beauforts. Their first son John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset married and had children with Margaret Beauchamp, they had a single child: Lady Margaret Beaufort. She would fight to get her son Henry Tudor to the English throne and create a brand-new line of royals, thus how we got Margaret, Queen of Scots, Henry VIII, Mary, Queen of France, Duchess of Suffolk and their descendants.

It was common practice to marry into family lines, at one time Mary was actually betrothed to her uncle Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor as a young girl. Instead, she married her cousin and Charles’s son Philip. He was the only husband to assume the title “King” and I can understand why on all fronts. Anyways, back to my theory, could have both Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon and their oldest daughter suffer the consequences of marrying a cousin? We have to include Henry’s lack of hundreds bastard children (aside from his own daughters!) to understand that it wasn’t just Catherine’s fault he wasn’t getting a son. Could this have happened to Mary as well? She could have suffered from multiple conditions in the inbreeding of her parents. We just don’t know and may never know either.

Okay, I apologize for my mini family trees between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. I figured if I didn’t include them, you would be lost in translation. I’ve included a couple of links into those two paragraphs to hopefully make it easier to look back on each of their lines.

Have you read the third and final book in Samantha Wilcoxson’s “Plantagenet Embers” series? If you have, do you have a favorite story? Let me know in the comments below!

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Book Review: “Anne Boleyn: 500 Years of Lies” by Hayley Nolan

Hello!

If you know me well enough, you wouldn’t be surprised by my loving support of Queen Anne Boleyn. I’ve always thought she has a bad rap before, during and after her marriage to King Henry VIII. I’ve watched a lot of movies, tv shows, and documentaries that follow the whole “six wives” drama, and I’ve wanted to read a biographical story of her life, but I didn’t want to hear to hear the same things I’ve been hearing since 2008, and I have attempted to read this book two years ago, but I just wasn’t in the mood for it, so after the book itself basically stalking me for months on end, I decided to make a goal to read and complete it before the anniversary of her death in 1536.


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A bold new analysis of one of history’s most misrepresented women.

History has lied.

Anne Boleyn has been sold to us as a dark figure, a scheming seductress who bewitched Henry VIII into divorcing his queen and his church in an unprecedented display of passion. Quite the tragic love story, right?

Wrong.

In this electrifying exposé, Hayley Nolan explores for the first time the full, uncensored evidence of Anne Boleyn’s life and relationship with Henry VIII, revealing the shocking suppression of a powerful woman.

So leave all notions of outdated and romanticized folklore at the door and forget what you think you know about one of the Tudors’ most notorious queens. She may have been silenced for centuries, but this urgent book ensures Anne Boleyn’s voice is being heard now.

#TheTruthWillOut

taken from Goodreads.

Everything you think you know about the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn is turned upside down, as with every historian and film based on the second line of the Tudor dynasty can be comprised of lies, and lots of them. There were things that I didn’t concern beforehand that while I read this book immediately changed my mind and where I stand on my view of both the king and his former “love” that was Anne Boleyn.

I just want to let everything know, I took quite a few notes between mid-April to early May, just so I could remember things that I thought were really important to other people who enjoy a 16th Century soap opera!

Who was the real Anne Boleyn?

The first thing I thought was both crucial and interesting was how the author Hayley had the guts to say that Henry VIII could have suffered a mental illness all throughout his life. She believes she could have been a sociopath, and yes, she tells her readers why this seems like something he would have been going through in life, and It wouldn’t have been caused by the jousting accident he had in 1520’s, although she does point out that it could have heightened his paranoia of his court and of course, not being able to have an acceptable heir.

I thought it was somewhat funny how much I was comparing his actions like of Victoria Helen Stone’s Jane Doe series. Jane is also a sociopath, but totally fictional, so in a way, to see how her mind works–she doesn’t believe she is in the wrong, blames over people, she doesn’t know how to show true emotions like love, and is ruled by her impulses. I thought Victoria’s books were the shit before; I definitely love them now. but it was also frightening to see the similarities between these two, and again Jane is a fictional character!

Besides the rundown of Henry’s erratic behavior, you understand that we need to see Anne as a human being, although it was 1500’s, she deserves to have her real story told and this book is full of information by tons of courtiers and religious people of the time, such as Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Crammer, Archbishop of Canterbury, William Latymer, William Kingston, Chapuleys, Ambassador of Spain. You are told things that many historians and authors normally pass through because it doesn’t fit the mold that is the Tudor era.

One of the things we always learn about this part of history is that court life is not about this grand and there is always a party of some sort going on, but this isn’t exactly true. People were stuck in large palaces, and it was fairly quiet, so there was always in need of musicians and poets to keep everyone happy (or at least comfortable with their surroundings!) but it wasn’t just the king and his advisors that were working hard, the Queen also had her own job as she helped the king discover another religion which was evangelism and helped break away from Rome. She was helping students continue their schooling and protected them from harm for practicing another faith. She always worked based on what she hoped would happen for the nation and educate her little daughter Elizabeth as Protestant than Catholicism.

When non-history-fanatics think of Anne Boleyn, do they recall her fighting for religious reform and freedom? No, they think six wives, six fingers and beheaded.

There is something I wasn’t a huge fan of, I didn’t care on how cocky Hayley was, getting her point across with each chapter. I understand as someone who loves and supports Anne very much, you want everyone to know the facts, but I thought the author was sort of cocky with her words. However, there were interesting tidbits that were mixed with sarcasm here and you felt like she was sitting right next to me having a very intense debate about who was really responsible for bringing Anne (and the other poor victims) of the murdering plot down for good, and when it came to sections like this, I was fine with that familiar banter but the rest, not so much.

Anyways, if you are looking for a different perspective on this time period and looking at the ‘romance’ or ‘love story’ that was King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. I definitely recommend this book, but if you are set with what media chooses to discuss, then you might want to ease yourself into the real truth of Anne Boleyn.

Have you read Hayley Nolan’s “Anne Boleyn: 500 Years of Lies” yet? If you have checked it out, what were some of your thoughts about what she shared with us?

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Book Review: “The Boleyns Of Hever Castle” by Owen Emmerson & Claire Ridgway

Hello!

It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve done anything for my blog.

Honestly, I see this as a good sign because it means that I am starting to enjoy these mini vacations! I have to say though, I did not do a whole lot of reading, ever since I finished the Celtic Blood series at the beginning of the summer, I have had a rough time figuring out what I want to get into next, as you might know I have really allowed myself to enjoy romance again, but they’re not as fun as they were around May, so I decided to dive deep into my historical fiction and even some nonfiction in there too, which is how I found this book on Kindle Unlimited in the middle of August.

I remember seeing this cover on the History of Royal Women’s instagram stories a few months before it actually came out. Moniek tries to give everyone an overview of all of the books coming out in both the US and UK and since it isn’t uncommon for the dates to be different, you may see it more than once. If you do not have instagram, she also does a blog post usually at the start of the month with more information about the books and when they officially come out too! If you’re curious about the books coming out in September, click here.


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Hever Castle is a picture-postcard fortified manor house nestled in the Kent countryside. It is famous for its links with the Boleyns, an East Anglian gentry family who rose and fell dramatically at the court of King Henry VIII.

In The Boleyns of Hever Castle, historians Owen Emmerson and Claire Ridgway invite you into the home of this notorious family.

Travel back in time to those 77 years of Boleyn ownership. Tour each room just as it was when Anne Boleyn retreated from court to escape the advances of Henry VIII or when she fought off the dreaded ‘sweat’. See the 16th century Hever Castle come to life with room reconstructions and read the story of the Boleyns, who, in just five generations, rose from petty crime to a castle, from Hever to the throne of England.

Owen Emmerson and Claire Ridgway have combined their considerable knowledge of the Boleyn family and Hever Castle to create this luxurious book. Packed with history and full-colour images, The Boleyns of Hever Castle will educate and enlighten you

taken from Amazon.

So, the book itself is divided up in three sections. The beginning is how the entire castle looked like when it was first built before the Boleyn family came along. The authors give you a lot of blueprints and reconstructed photos to give you a better idea, and this was something I could follow easily with but reading along through what was important about all of the balconies, rooms, and stairs. At some point of this, I became very confused and was tempted to skip that whole section–I complained so much that even my mom was telling me to do it! Once you finally complete this part, you move on to the origin story of the Boleyns.

This was definitely my favorite part of the book. I like to look up family trees to see where they came from and how various names play a part in the line of decedents. The first person you are introduced to is Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, who begins his quest to learn and work his way up the amount of positions like a mercer to sheriff of London. The men of the Boleyn were very good at their jobs, and this is something that continues through the generations to the point where you have Geoffrey’s great-great-grandson Thomas Boleyn becoming a diplomat for England, France, and Austria and then finally becoming the first Earl of Wiltshire in 1529.

Thomas would inherit a large amount of properties and after he married the Lady Elizabeth Howard, the daughter of the 2nd Duke of Norfolk, they would make Hever Castle their official residence. One of my favorite lines in the book was, they family could lived anywhere they wanted to, but they felt safe at Hever. The Countess would give birth to five children, but only Mary, Anne, and George would survive to adulthood. All of them were educated at Hever with their governesses and tutors, but most importantly Mary and Anne were allowed to take other courses that were mainly taught to the men of the household like falconry. Another part of their schooling, especially if they had family that worked within royal houses, they could live as apprentices or in Mary and Anne’s case, become ladies in waiting. They stayed with the Queen Margaret of Austria and Queen Claude of France before coming back to England and being part of Catherine of Aragon’s household.

This is the story of the rise of a remarkable family who, over five generations, rose from petty crime to a castle, from Hever to the throne of England.

My views on whether Anne was a schemer or a pawn has definitely changed over the years. I think the thing we all need to remember is, you never said no Henry. I am sure there was fear among the many families that served under the king, especially if you could not get something done right away, which is why my views on Cardinal Worsley’s responsibility has flipped as well. I do not believe Anne could get out of the king’s clutches or her family’s ambitions to gain even more control of the king. Unfortunately, the Queen could not give Henry a son, and Anne was at the right place at the wrong time and her fate was sealed.

The final section of the book is what happened after Hever was left to the Crown and the rest of the Boleyn family died out in 1634 with the death of Lettice Knollys, who was the daughter of Catherine Carey, who then was the daughter of Lady Mary Boleyn, the only child of Thomas and Elizabeth to not lose her head after the events in 1539. It wasn’t until William Waldorf Astor took control of the property and brought it back to how it could have looked like when the Boleyn family lived there, but with some added royal aesthetic. I thought this part was fairly interesting because it speaks to anyone who is obsessed with royal history, especially the Tudor dynasty! It doesn’t matter what century or year it is, everyone can fall in love with the stories this castle’s walls know by heart. It may be the only living thing to know the truth about Anne Boleyn’s thoughts about everything!

I really enjoyed this book, and think if you or someone you know loves learning about royal history, you should direct them to this lovely book. It is fairly short but it is full of information!

Have you read “The Boleyns at Hever Castle” by Owen Emmerson and Claire Ridgway yet? If you have, what were your thoughts about it? Let me know below!

Book Review: “Bad Girls Throughout History” by Ann Shen

Hello!

So… I had hoped that I would have a completely different blog post for you today but I was up late one night and like I mostly do in the daytime, I scrolled through the “newer” books on Kindle Unlimited. I have figured a small system, and one thing I have noticed helps me out sometimes is clicking the “Last 30 Days” of when the books come out on KU. I have found quite a few books through this route but this was one of my most exciting discoveries to date, it was also the quickest reads in a really, really long time!


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Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World delivers a empowering book for women and girls of all ages, featuring 100 women who made history and made their mark on the world, it’s a best-selling book you can be proud to display in your home.

The 100 revolutionary women highlighted in this gorgeously illustrated book were bad in the best sense of the word: they challenged the status quo and changed the rules for all who followed. Explored in this history book, include:

• Aphra Behn, first female professional writer.
• Sojourner Truth, women’s rights activist and abolitionist.
• Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer.
• Marie Curie, first woman to win the Nobel Prize.
• Joan Jett, godmother of punk.

From pirates to artists, warriors, daredevils, women in science, activists, and spies, the accomplishments of these incredible women who dared to push boundaries vary as much as the eras and places in which they effected change. Featuring bold watercolor portraits and illuminating essays by Ann Shen, Bad Girls Throughout History is a distinctive, gift-worthy tribute to rebel girls everywhere.

A lovely gift for teen girls, stories to share with a young girl at bedtime, or a book to display on a coffee table, everyone will enjoy learning about and celebrating the accomplishments of these phenomenal women.

taken from Amazon.

One of my favorite things is learn more about women, their histories, hobbies, relationships, sexuality, etc, just to gain another sort of boost of inspiration for my own life. I started my love of books, while reading fictional tales of famous women like Queen Elizabeth I and Marie Antoinette while I was in high school, and as I continue to grow, I am pushing for more stories like them. I will generally read a book in a female point of view but would rather write in a male’s point of view instead. Good luck explaining that one to me later!

I was very surprised by the fact that this book popped on my screen, and it wasn’t until I was done that I figured out how I found it at all. The author of “The Lost Pharaoh Chronicles,” Lauren Lee Mattingly was actually Ann’s editor for this book. After seeing this, I was like, “okay, that could be the reason why it literally appeared out of nowhere!” and made a note to make sure I included that piece of information for you guys. Honestly, even if I hadn’t known about it, I already had the actual book on my to-be-read list, so all in all, it was a nice easy book.

To be a bad girl is to break any socially accepted rule. For some women, it’s the way they dress. For other girls, it’s the act of going to school.

Unfortunately, I accidently read one or two reviews while trying to add it to my overwhelming “currently reading” stack of books on Goodreads, and someone had mentioned that although it was a great list of women, it wasn’t very diverse. I really try not to let another person’s comments reflect my own thoughts, but they were right. Out of 100 women mentioned in the book, there were only a handful I did not know about, and that really drove me crazy because as much as I adored reading about Grace O’Malley, Mata Hari, Rosa Parks and Nora Ephron, I expected lesser known bad girls included and the ones who were in the lineup, had like the smallest section. I was a little bummed out about this but again, it was a great book anyways!

Have you read “Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed The World” by Ann Shen? If you have, what were your thoughts on it overall?

I’m An Onomastic!

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Hi 🙂

There is something you can catch me doing on Sundays. No, I don’t lounge around, well maybe sometimes, but most of the time I’m asking for our local newspaper looking at the birth and obituaries sections. Don’t worry, I’m not one of those creepy people who look at who’s died looking for a date. I look up and down the two rows at the beautiful names of children who were born in the last two weeks or so. I can’t quite explain why I do it or how it got started, I’ve just been addicted to asking for the paper on that specific day. I’m not interested in the news articles, just this part.

I wish I could say it was my only outlet but it’s not.

When I started Pinterest back in 2012, I was searching other boards and one day I found a board full of names! I found so many good ones that I didn’t just want to “like” each one so I ended making them a board. And then a couple of years later I made up another (secret) board of names for characters that were stuck in the depths of my mind. Luckily for me, there is actually a big difference between these two boards. One has more modern and classic baby names whereas the second has forgotten and out of the box names.

Here are some examples:

Baby Name Board:

Hazel | Paige | Abigail | Otto | Leon | Lachlan

Character Name Board:

Oryn | Zachari | Leopold | Tarina | Isadora | Annika

After watching so many episodes of Jeopardy, I actually started to see more and more contestants say they’re also obsessed with names as well, but there is actually a name for it. It is onomastics.

I am into is where the names originated, like my name: “Meghan” is actually Greek, which shouldn’t had surprised me as much as it did but I thought it was pretty neat though! I tend to love names from different countries like Denmark, France, Ireland, Italian, and Sweden. I also love names that were made up from stories like Shakespeare (despite the fact I can’t read his stories for the life of me!). I had always heard that Mr. Shakespeare is the one who came up with “Jessica” I still don’t know if this is true, and then of course you have mythology! I love the Celtic, Egyptian, and Norse mythology names! I have contemplated about using the names “Seti” and “Ra” in my children’s names!

When I first started looking into the large branches of the British monarchy, I realized they had very long names. One time I saw where they had seven middle names–not counting their first and last names! This person was actually Mary of Teck or later known as Queen Mary who married King George V in the early 1900s. “Mary” is actually her first middle name while her first was “Victoria” but her family called her “May.” As I’ve found the middle names are usually driven from previous family names. Mary would have been a young girl when Queen Victoria was still queen, but I have no idea about the rest.

Where is it in time frame where they start adding onto the names? I haven’t exactly figured this out yet as I’ve just figured out of the century of the War Of The Roses! I’m also curious on how open were they to give their children different names too? I’ve just recently found the name “Susan” while researching a former duchess on Facebook. It was the first one I had seen dating back to the 1500’s.

Now when you look back further their the history books, around the time when you have the Plantagenet and Tudor families where they only had one name. For explain King Henry VIII’s first daughter Princess Mary, is just simply Mary Tudor. Same goes for Queen Elizabeth I, she was just referred to Elizabeth Tudor. If she hadn’t became queen, I think some people would have gotten confused while researching the Tudor dynasty as King Henry VIII also had a younger sisters by the name of Princess Mary and Elizabeth.

For this next part I thought I’d share some of my favorite names and explain that some belong in other categorize too! So maybe if you’re expecting or love names just as much as I do, they will become some of your favorites too!

Classic:  Isabella, Victoria, Eleanor, Anne, Theodora, Cecily, Naomi, Albert, Edgar, George, Louis, Michael, Nicholas, Philip, Richard, Samuel, and Vincent.

French Names: Blanche, Celeste, Camille, Agnes, Alexandrine, Augustine, Bastien, Claude, Emeric, and Ernest.

Irish Names:  Aoife, Bridget, Fiona, Eabha, Moira, Oona, Siobhan Ronan, Declan, Donal, Liam, Mahon, Owen.

Out Of The Box: Piera, Olympia, Wilhelmina, Evanna, Reverie, Atlas, Thompson, Calix, Hugo, Audric, Henrik, and Micah, 

Are you interested in names? What are some of your favorites? I really want to know, so please tell me some in the comments!

snowflake

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