Category Archives: 2013

Driftless by David Rhodes

driftlessTitle:  Driftless
Author:  David Rhodes
Genre:  Fiction

The only reason that I stumbled across Driftless was because that this was a featured title on Barnes & Noble’s “Free eBook Fridays” a few weeks back.  I love me some free books and have been desperately missing the free classics that I used to download for my Kindle; it appears as though B&N does not go below $1.99 for the classics.  Anyway.  I jumped at the opportunity to check this title out when I discovered that there was a free eBook that WASN’T a Romance.

I was in the middle of forcing my way through Madame Bovary, which was slow going for me, so there was about a week between the download and the beginning of reading.  I scoped out some of the reviews that were floating around and prepared myself to be a changed woman.  By reading any number of responses to this novel, one would be silly not to prepare themselves to stare God in the face before jumping into Rhodes’ pages.

Needless to say, I was a little excited to get going with it.  I was even revving myself up to perhaps “meet” a new favorite author.

Unfortunately, however, I wasn’t as blown away as I wanted to be.  I’m not going to write that this is a bad read, by any means, but I found myself skimming a lot.  I don’t really like to skim.  I read a little on the slow side, but I enjoy savoring passages and losing myself in the characters’ conversations, the landscape, my own thoughts…  I struggled in doing so for the majority of this book.

Some positives (for me) – each chapter is told through the POV of a different character.  All 400-something pages focus on the same core set of characters, but you get to hop around from chapter to chapter, story to story.  I feel as though this was the main factor that kept me from calling it quits.  Each of the characters is interesting and unique and I honestly can’t say that there was a single one of them that I disliked.

The other positive (again, for me) is that the spiritual exploration seemed to be a melding of Christianity and Buddhism.  I am a fan of not keeping religion or spirituality completely black and white.  Mixing principles, teachings, and philosophies wins big points in my book.

The biggest negative, however, again – for me, was the ending.  No spoilers here, but it felt incomplete.  It felt as though it ended in the middle of a conversation and there still should have been 20 pages or so to wrap everything up.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 2013, American Author, Fiction

The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell

The_Secret_Diary_of_Anne_Boleyn_15th_Anniversary-smTitle:  The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn
Author:  Robin Maxwell
Historical Fiction

I am starting 2013 off right – two books featuring Anne Boleyn in one month.  I came to read The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by walking around Barnes & Noble aimlessly, consulting my GoodReads iPhone app for various titles about Anne Boleyn.  I chose this particular book out of the lineup, however, because I have a weakness for stories told through the medium of diary entries or letters.  I had a book by Jean Plaidy on order from the library that I knew would be coming in soon, so I wanted a book that I could consume in a rather short period of time.

The story is set during the early days in the reign of Elizabeth I.  Recently made queen, she is still learning the ropes in what it means to actually be Queen of England.  An old woman visits her with a precious gift – Anne Boleyn’s secret diary.  Elizabeth learns that this woman was with Anne in the Tower leading up to her execution and came to love the then-Queen very much.  By giving this diary to Elizabeth, this woman was fulfilling her last promise made to Anne Boleyn.

The majority of the novel is then told through Anne Boleyn’s diary entries.  For Elizabeth, this is the first time that she is truly getting to know her mother and she is warming to her memory while cooling to that of her father.  From the information in this diary, Elizabeth becomes equipped to “grow up” and to start making some real decisions for her own rule.

Overall, I enjoyed this book.  My main gripe was that the presence of Anne’s supposed sixth finger.  I feel rather protective of Anne Boleyn and do not believe that she had the sixth finger, so to see its rumor woven into this story was somewhat disappointing.  However, I reminded myself that this is a work of fiction.  I sucked it up and read on.

I also enjoyed reading a story about Elizabeth, as well, as I have yet to read any focusing on her life and reign.  It delights me to know that while Anne was only queen for 1,000 days and her end was wrought with scandal, lies, and betrayal, her daughter reigned over England for more than 40 years.

Here is a synopsis from Maxwell’s official site (linked to above):

One was queen for a thousand days;  one for over forty years.  Both were passionate, headstrong women, loved and hated by Henry VIII.  Yet until the discovery of the secret diary, Anne Boleyn and her daughter, Elizabeth I, had never really met.

Anne was the second of Henry’s six wives, doomed to be beloved, betrayed and beheaded. When Henry fell madly in love with her upon her return from an education at the lascivious  French court, he was already a married man. While his passion for Anne was great enough to rock the foundation of England and of all Christendom, in the end he forsook her for another love, schemed against her, and ultimately had her sentenced to death.  But unbeknownst to the king,  Anne had kept a  diary.

At the beginning of Elizabeth ‘s reign, it is pressed into her hands.  In reading it, the young queen discovers a great deal about her much-maligned mother:  Anne’s fierce determination, her hard-won knowledge about being a woman in a world ruled by despotic men, and her deep-seated love for the infant daughter taken from her shortly after her birth.

In journal’s pages, Elizabeth finds an echo of her own dramatic life as a passionate young woman at the center of England ‘s powerful male establishment, and with the knowledge gained from them, makes a resolution that will change the course of history.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2013, Anne Boleyn, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Robin Maxwell, Tudors, Women Writers

Reading Goals for 2013

We’re almost at the end of the first month of 2013 and, hopefully, we haven’t all called it quits on our resolutions already.  I personally set goals for myself for the upcoming year and, usually, kind of fail at making them all come to fruition.  However, one set of goals that I tend to take rather seriously are my reading goals – or, rather, my hopes and dreams – for the year.

As mentioned in my final post of 2012, I didn’t hit my goal of overall number of books to read last year.  I have my reasons for not hitting that number, but I’d like to accomplish my goals for this year as a way to make up for last year’s shortcomings.  But we’re only 26 days into the year and I’ve already tweaked some of my goals.  Oops.

Let us start with the number of books that I would like to read this year.  On GoodReads, I set myself a goal of 35 books.  I think that I can do this.  Two years ago I read just over 40, so my hopes are high.

In conjunction with the total number of books that I’d like to devour, I originally set a challenge for myself to read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I was ready to go, high on the excitement of watching (re-watching when it comes to the trilogy) the films, cracking jokes about Gandalf and tricksy hobbitses.  While I read The Hobbit for the second time in my life, however, I realized that it’s exceedingly difficult for me to get into third person narrations.  Especially when the fact that it is written in this manner cannot be escaped.  Basically, if it reads too much like a storybook, I wind up getting bored and struggling.

I haven’t abandoned the hope of reading Tolkien altogether, but I’m not maintaining this goal for 2013.  INSTEAD I want to challenge myself to read primarily historical fiction this year.  So, let’s say, at least 75%.  Pair the fact that I am admittedly obsessed with the Tudors and Anne Boleyn with my never tiring of these books, I think that this is a very feasible (and enjoyable) goal.

What are your reading goals for 2013?

Perhaps while I read these books, I will wear my new Anne Boleyn hoodie, bought from the tartx shop on Etsy.  It arrived last night and is beautiful, comfortable, and warm.  If you’re a fan of the Tudors or anything historical and classy, check out her shop.  You shan’t be disappointed.

Anne Boleyn hoodie from tartx on Etsy

Anne Boleyn hoodie from tartx on Etsy

2 Comments

Filed under 2013, Books

The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown

51+mE0mV0ML._AA300_Title:  The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown
Author:  Claire Ridgway
Author’s website:  The Anne Boleyn Files
Non-Fiction/History

In April of 2012, I read Ridgway’s other book on Anne Boleyn, The Anne Boleyn Collection, in order to grow my knowledge on the actual life and story of Anne Boleyn.  As a fan of Ridgway’s website, The Anne Boleyn Files, I had a feeling that I would enjoy her books, as well.  My inkling was spot-on.  So, naturally, I was ecstatic to learn that there were even more books coming out by her!

I decided to kick off 2013 with The Fall of Anne Boleyn because, really, it’s been far too long since my last Tudor read.  And while I have a few biographies sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be cracked open, I opted to revisit Ridgway’s personable and accessible writing style instead.  Similarly to The Anne Boleyn Collection, The Fall of Anne Boleyn, at times, reads like a conversation that the reader could be taking part in with the author.  I love that you don’t only get historical facts and excerpts from actual letters from the Tudor players, but you really get to share in Ridgway’s love of Anne Boleyn.

Another positive about Ridgway’s books is that she presents all sides.  She admits that it is difficult to decipher everything that really happened during this time, but instead of only presenting one view or one scenario, the reader has the opportunity to not only learn what Boleyn’s contemporaries thought and said (where primary resources still exist) but also what ideas historians have recorded, deduced, and proliferated since then.

My interest in Boleyn only grows the more that I learn about her.  She was a far cry from a witch or concubine as some believe(d) her to be.  Anne Boleyn was a woman who fought to gain her position.  She valued education, charity, and spiritual reform.  She believed in the validity of her ideas and, with her feisty nature, did not shy away from sharing them – even though she was a woman.

For anyone looking to learn more about Anne Boleyn, I highly recommend Claire Ridgway’s publications and website.  You will not be disappointed!

Leave a comment

Filed under 2013, Anne Boleyn, Biography, Favorites, Non-Fiction, Tudors