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James (Guildford, United Kingdom)

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Falcon's Rise: The Early Years of Anne Boleyn
Falcon's Rise: The Early Years of Anne Boleyn
by Natalia Richards
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What made Anne Boleyn the woman she became, 6 Sept. 2017
I was so kindly sent a copy of this book by the author herself. I am pleased that I really enjoyed reading this.
It is a beautiful account of the early years of Anne Boleyn. We journey with Anne from Hever to the court of Margaret of Austria.
The characters in this story are beautifully brought to life. And once Anne sets out on her journey to Mechelen, I could not put the book down. The author has done a tremendous job of showing how these events shaped the person that Anne Boleyn became.
I really liked the way the author dealt with Anne's years pre-Mechelen.
The author acknowledges parts of the story have been added for dramatic licence, yet she has clearly researched this impeccably.
I am eagerly awaiting the next book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 8, 2017 1:44 PM BST


Matriarch: Queen Mary and the House of Windsor
Matriarch: Queen Mary and the House of Windsor
by Anne Edwards
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read and packed with information, 6 Sept. 2017
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I became fascinated by Queen Mary while watching The Crown. Cigarette in one hand - oxygen mask in the other! I just had to learn more about this lady!
Her life was quite a remarkable one, and would make a great TV series. Her early life was one of drama with her parents constantly in debt, her family were looked down on by certain members of the Royal Family. Yet she had one person championing her - Queen Victoria! It was thanks to Victoria that she was chosen to be a bride for the future heir to the throne.
Extremely intelligent and astute, she was certainly not the warmest person and was incapable of showing maternal love. Yet she always looked majestic. Dripping with jewels, tiaras or fancy hats, with a stern look on her face, Queen Mary always had a majestic look about her.
This book gives a great understanding for readers into the insight of this interesting woman, who really deserves far more credit for revamping the Monarchy, in the face of post-WWI revolutions that swept across parts of Europe. Her work in researching for the Royal Collection was invaluable and is terribly underrated. Not to mention the inspiration and hope she gave to people during WWI and II. From her time as Princess of Wales until she was Queen Dowager, she would receive the Government Dispatch boxes.
On the surface, she maintained the classic 'British stiff upper lip', but personally her life was not always a happy one! As a child, her family were often escaping debt collectors, her fiancé Prince Eddy died leaving her future uncertain, until it was decided (again thanks to Queen Victoria) that she would marry Eddy's younger brother George. And she outlived three of her six children. Yet her dedication and loyalty to the Monarchy was an example that has been followed by her granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II. It is often said that Queen Elizabeth, steers her reign upon the influence of her grandmother Queen Mary. And with the British Monarchy remaining extremely popular today, perhaps that is a testament to Queen Mary's legacy.


The Raven's Widow: A novel of Jane Boleyn
The Raven's Widow: A novel of Jane Boleyn
by Adrienne Dillard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful masterpiece, 19 Mar. 2017
Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford is probably one of the maligned figures of the Tudor era. Sadly the fictional portrayals of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Boleyn Inheritance and The Tudors, have a lot to blame for this.
In this stunning work by Adrienne Dillard, Adrienne attempts (and 110% succeeds) in giving a fresh portrayal of Jane.

The story is beautifully told through the eyes of Jane herself. It reminded me of the 1972 film "Henry VIII and his Six Wives", with the story starting with Jane being taken to the Tower, and in her final months having flashbacks to happier times.

Personally, I felt this added to the beauty of the story. Just as you are reading about the glittering court masques, or a sweet moment between Jane and George, or Jane bonding with her sister-in-laws Anne and Mary, suddenly you are jolted back in to the cold, empty apartments of the Tower.

Adrienne truly has a remarkable gift for storytelling. She is able to bring you right into the rooms of the characters in the story, to the point where you can imagine the tapestries on the wall, smell the food on the table, and most importantly, sense how the characters in the story are feeling at that precise moment.

What is even more special, is that Adrienne gives a human element to the characters. Presenting their faults and their virtues, something that other popular historical fiction novels lack. The Boleyn family as much as Jane get a beautiful portrayal, challenging those myths that Jane was never close to her husband and is family.

I am not the biggest fan of historical fiction, but this book is something I cannot recommend enough. Whether you are simply interested in a quick easy to read book, or a book you can truly delve into for long hours, this is the book for you. Part of the magic of it is that it is suitable for everyone. A stunning masterpiece that deserves so much credit.


Young and Damned and Fair: The Life and Tragedy of Catherine Howard at the Court of Henry VIII
Young and Damned and Fair: The Life and Tragedy of Catherine Howard at the Court of Henry VIII
by Gareth Russell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.29

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly terrific reexamination of the life of this misunderstood and poorly perceived Queen., 26 Feb. 2017
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Catherine Howard is without doubt the most poorly viewed of all Henry VIII's wives. often viewed as a slut, nymphomaniac, airhead, even an 'empty headed wanton' as one historian has called her.

In this groundbreaking biography, Catherine Howard is completely transformed from the way she is unfairly viewed. Instead, thanks to Gareth Russell's extensive and thorough research, we see a young woman who cared deeply about fulfilling her duty as Queen of England and Ireland and took her role seriously.

Russell acknowledges the faults of his subject, and does not try to make her appear entirely innocent. Instead presenting her as a young woman occasionally out of her depth.

This is more than a biography of Catherine. It is a study of the world of Catherine Howard. From her family background to the workings of the Tudor court. It includes details of the locations visited by Catherine, as well as family trees.

Russell deals with the many theories around Catherine, her upbringing, relationships pre-Henry and whether or not she and Culpepper consummated their relationship. Providing thorough evidence for both sides of the argument, before stating his own theory backed up by meticulous evidence.

Like Eric Ives with Anne Boleyn, Anne Somerset with Elizabeth I and Antonia Fraser on Marie Antoinette, Gareth Russell has written the definitive book on Catherine Howard and deserves to be seen as the authority on this subject.


Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey
Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey
by Nicola Tallis
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning biography that is hard to put down., 26 Feb. 2017
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Victim, Martyr or rightful Monarch, these are the labels usually used to describe Lady Jane Grey, whose life and reign was tragically short. In this stunning debut, Historian Nicola Tallis examines the life of Jane and the world around her, using every contemporary source available. What emerges is an intelligent, astute, courageous and deeply religious young woman, tragically cut down in her prime.

Many of the myths surrounding Jane - such as her supposed suffering at the hands of her cruel parents and Queen Mary supposedly trying to spare her life are successfly challenged. And while not much evidence survives of Jane's upbringing, Tallis looks at what moulded Jane into the woman she became.

I found this book to be incredibly gripping and hard to put down. It flows so easily and completely draws you in. During chapters such as the death of Edward VI, the brief reign of Jane/Mary Tudor fighting for her crown and the later rebellion that sealed Jane's fate, the tension and drama and suspense unfolds perfectly right up until that final moment on the scaffold.

This book is more than a biography, it lists the top locations associated with Jane and what part survives from her lifetime. Perfect for those that enjoy visiting historical sites.

The Jane that emerges from this book, is the Jane that should be remembered, the strong-willed, determined, intelligent and heroic woman, who deserves to be admired and celebrated as one of history's remarkable figures.


William and Mary: Heroes of the Glorious Revolution: The Heroes of the Glorious Revolution
William and Mary: Heroes of the Glorious Revolution: The Heroes of the Glorious Revolution
by John Van der Kiste
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two of the most under-valued and neglected Monarchs in British history., 11 Dec. 2016
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I came to this book with a basic understanding of William and Mary, I finish it with an incredibly high respect and admiration for these two who I now consider to be not only the most appallingly underrated and under-valued Monarchs in British history, but also believe that they deserve to be up there with those that are considered to be the greatest Monarchs in British history. And this is thanks to the work of Van Der Kiste.

The author doesn't seek to glorify his subjects, he points out their flaws (more so - understandably - in Williams case). But he does succeed in highlighting that their era had a profound effect on shaping the country that we now come to know as Britain today.

It is a perfect introduction to William & Mary, not overloading with information, and each chapter is concisely laid out.

From the outside, William & Mary are not the most charismatic of figures, certainly when compared to the likes of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Charles II to name but a few. But they were also two of the most personal and most down to earth Monarchs we have ever had. Certainly for the Seventeenth Century.

They both loathed sycophancy, both hated pomp and ceremony, and were at their happiest when they were choosing delftware, porcelain and exotic flowers for their homes and gardens, or attending to church matters and pouring over state documents.

William, never the most handsome of men and never one to dress extravagantly, was afflicted with terrible asthma. Yet continually he was on the Battle field every year leading his army mostly against the French, sleeping on camp beds. Mary, who believed a woman's role was to support her husband, and suffered from chronic depression, won friends and admirers with her natural charm. And when called on to step in during William's absences, she did so with a natural ease that showed a firm ruler.

There are many policies we can date to the reign of William & Mary, the 'Bill or Rights' that saw power passed from Crown to Parliament, establishing the Constitutional Monarchy Britain has today. The Bank of England was formed. The 'Act of Succession' which established only Protestants could inherit the throne.

Not to mention the fascinating story of how William and Mary to the throne, the 'Glorious Revolution' which saw Mary's father James II overthrown. An act which behind closed doors caused Mary much heart ache and distress, but on the outside she was criticised for being cold and aloof.

William & Mary story is one that on the outside appears cold and dull, but scratch the surface and you have two very down to earth unassuming individuals placed in a unique position, who believed Monarchy was not just about 'divine right of Kings', and who shaped the Britain we know today.

Van Der Kiste does his subjects complete justice in this terrific, easily digestible biography of two of Britain's most underrated and undervalued Monarchs.


Kylie Christmas (Snow Queen Edition)
Kylie Christmas (Snow Queen Edition)
Offered by uniqueplace-uk
Price: £7.82

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Have yourself a Merry Kylie Christmas 🎄 🎄, 2 Dec. 2016
I'm actually surprised Kylie hasn't done this before, the style fits her perfectly. This is the perfect cheery, bubbly, fun, festive, colourful Christmas album. And quite sexy too!
The style of the album changes wit nearly each song, from the big bands "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and "Santa Claus is coming to town" (feat Sinatra). To the jazzy "Santa Baby" "Winter Wonderland", "Let It Snow" "I'm Gonna Be Warm This Winter" and "Oh Santa", To the perfect disco "100 Degrees" (featuring sis Dannii), "At Christmas" "I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday" and "Christmas Wrapping" (feat Ivy Pop), all of which would be perfect on the Christmas party playlists. To the beautiful ballads "2000 Miles", "Everyday's Like Christmas", "Stay Another Day", "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)" - the 2016 Boots Christmas Advert Anthem! "Cried Out Christmas", and the beautiful "Only You" (feat James Cordon) - how this was not a big hit last year I'll never know!!!
My absolute favourite has to be "Everyday's Like Christmas", such a beautiful ballad, that personally I believe should be Christmas number 1. This has fast become my all-time favourite Christmas song, even beating the classic "Fairytale of New York City".
Kylie certain knows how to sprinkle her magic on this gem of a cd, and add the sparkles and warm fuzzy joy to Christmas. Perfect for anyone who loves the Christmas period, or just in general loves a good sing-a-long.


Game of Queens: The Women Who Made Sixteenth-Century Europe
Game of Queens: The Women Who Made Sixteenth-Century Europe
by Sarah Gristwood
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.29

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning masterpiece of history, 24 Nov. 2016
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It's not everyday you read a book that opens up new interest in a subject you are already interested in. This new book did just that. Not only does it discuss the lives of well known female rulers Elizabeth I and Mary I of England, Mary, Queen of Scots, Isabella of Castile, Margaret of Austria, as well as female consorts Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Parr, it also brings women such as Jeanne d'Albret, Mary of Hungary, Margaret Tudor and Anne of Brittany, among others to the forefront. These women being so often undeservingly neglected to mere footnotes in most biographies.
It is a fascinating discussion of the women who held power - either on the throne or behind it - their often conflicted loyalties to their homelands, or being forced to marry to secure alliances. It challenges the myth that women had no role in politics in the sixteenth century, at times being the ones to secure peace (Margaret of Austria and Louise of Savoy).
Sarah Gristwood has a marvellous way of effortlessly making the book seem less like a biography/timeline, and more like a discussion you are having with her. She effortlessly breezes between the entwined stories and lives of these remarkable women, with such ease and delicacy that the reader is not left behind scratching their heads (which could easily be the case). What is also special about this book is that you do not need a vast knowledge of the sixteenth century, this is as perfect an introduction to the period as many other books. In fact, probably more so here due style of the narrative, which does not fall into the trap of many other books that go off on tangents. Simply sticking to key facts surrounding the women during their time in power.
Many books have been written set in the sixteenth century, mainly Tudor England, that you often wonder if some have anything new to offer. This book however, offers a whole new focus to the period. Mainly due to the focus on the women outside of England, those in power in France, Spain, Netherlands, Navarre, Hungary etc. That you begin to understand a new side to the politics of sixteenth century women.
It must be said that the book does not glamorise the role of women in the sixteenth century world, making them out be early feminists - quite the contrary, instead it merely challenges some of the views people may have had about the role of some women in these times, that they were actually more than child bearers.
As bestselling historian Alison Weir says, this book is quite simply "A Masterpiece". I eagerly await Sarah Gristwood future work.

* At the back of the book, look out for further reading on these women, as well as the link to the 'Game of Queens' website.


Truth endures: Je Anne Boleyn: Volume 2
Truth endures: Je Anne Boleyn: Volume 2
by Sandra Vasoli
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Splendid, 9 Oct. 2016
I already knew i would enjoy this books having read "Struck with the Dart of Love" two years ago. What i didn't expect however, was how much i would love it.
For me, Sandra Vasoli truly 'gets' Anne Boleyn. She understands the different sides to her personality, her charm, her intelligence, her wit, her courage, her passion, her ambition, and of course her jealousy and insecurity. She doesn't fall into the trap of so many fictional authors and present the person who the story is being told through as a perfect saint, she makes them appear human.
Sandra doesn't wash over bits such as the difficult relationship between Anne and her stepdaughter Mary, and she doesn't make Anne out to be entirely innocent in that situation - which is something many other fictional authors would do. But at the same time she shows another side to Anne's personality that those who have studied her life (such as myself) know about, but all too often gets ignored... Her compassion and her charity! This is something that gets a strong focus throughout the book.
Another thing Sandra does which i love, is how she presents the relationship between Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII! All too often, the easy (and quite lazy) story is that their relationship cooled after Elizabeth's birth.. Not the case here! Of course there are occasional rows throughout (as we know there were), but this is presented as them being a typical married couple and that of same minds and equals.
Other highlights for me included the coronation, the 1535 progress, the tragedy of 1534, and of course the tragic end!
Sandra clearly understands perfectly the trials and tribulations Anne had to go through, she understands how she must have felt. As i said previously, she truly gets Anne Boleyn 100% presenting her - in what is my own opinion - in the best way she has ever been presented in any historical drama whether that be in movies, TV, other fictional books etc (even my all time favorite Anne of the Thousand Days). I cannot begin to describe the amount of times i felt myself going YES inside my head while i read it, as i felt parts were just so spot on.
This book presents Anne as she was; Intelligent, Charismatic, Witty, Religious, Charitable, Passionate, and occasionally, Temperamental. If you love historical fiction, you will love this as it is easy to read and digest, is beautifully written, and of course, you will learn many interesting things as you go along about Anne, as it is incredibly factual as well.
I long for the day when the "Je Anne Boleyn" series gets turned into a TV series or movie.


The Private Lives of the Tudors: Uncovering the Secrets of Britain's Greatest Dynasty
The Private Lives of the Tudors: Uncovering the Secrets of Britain's Greatest Dynasty
by Tracy Borman
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, interesting, engaging and easy to read, 25 Aug. 2016
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The Tudor dynasty only ruled over England for approximately one hundred and eighteen years, relatively small when compared to the Plantagenets or the Stuarts rule over Scotland. Yet even people with little interest in history are drawn to this period, largely thanks to Showtimes series 'The Tudors' (2007-2010) and countless Hollywood movies set during this era. But also because this period has something for everyone, including drama, battles, romance, politics, the list is endless. People just can't get enough of the story of Henry VIII and his six wives, or Elizabeth I and her endless suitors, not to mention that inspiring Tilbury speech.

In her latest book, Dr Tracy Borman takes on a new angle examining these fascinating people, by looking at the private lives of the Monarchs and their consorts, behind the closed doors in their sumptuous Palaces. A lot of the stereotypes labelled on these people, such as Henry VII being a boring old miser, Edward VI being a puppet King, Mary I a dried up spinster incapable of fun, etc, are debunked here with evidence stating the contrary. Readers will come away from this seeing many- if not all- of these people in a new light.

The book is not intended to be a biography, but more a glimpse into life at the Tudor court, everything from the clothing, diet and hobbies, are examined. Henry VII spending much money on rich clothing will be a revelation to many. As will the topic of what we still have today of items that belonged to each of the Monarchs and what they can tell us about them as people. My personal favourites were the mementos Elizabeth I kept of her mother Anne Boleyn, as well as the documents and letters Edward VI kept reffering to his mother Jane Seymour.

What is so special about this book is it succeeds to bringing to life the Tudors as real people. It is easy to read many history books and feel that they each come off as very one-dimensional. But here, we get as close to the real people as we can get. And they all come live more as having been real people, with real emotions. And that is all to Tracy Borman's credit.

It was also interesting to read more about the set up of meals at court, and the number of dishes brought out, and how someone's status would determine how many courses they would get. Other interesting topics include the discussion of clothes, and how they would determine someone's status and wealth, and the changing of the fashions over the period. Also of particular interest was the topic of the set up of the Private Apartments, how far people of certain status would get, and what the duties for the vast number of staff attending the Monarchs and their consorts consisted off.

Prepare to have the way you view these people challenged, as you read this book, as you learn more about the people behind the glittering crowns and jewels, and learn of their struggles to hold onto power, through image, and keep that mystique around the Monarchy, whilst also having the personal touch. The only downside is you will definitely wish the book went on for longer.

Even those who find most history books quite dry, will easily enjoy this, thanks to Tracy Borman's easy to read and engaging writing, while people who have read many history books will discover more. It is a book for everyone. A truly informative and thoroughly enjoyable read.


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