Tuesday, August 26, 2014


by Katherine Longshore  
432 pages
ISBN-10: 0142426199
ISBN-13: 978-0142426197

My first impression of this book was that I would finally get to see a different take on who Catherine Howard was. I understand that it is fiction, but she just happens to be the only one of Henry VIII's wives that I have not been able to relate to. In fact, I blame Hollywood for this modern day "hang up," that I feel toward her.

This book gently lured me in, and I found it difficult to put down. I read the whole of it in just three days. I didn't realize until half way through it that the book was written for a young adult audience. This only came to my realization when I kept waiting for alluring romance, and intense courtly love. I had to laugh at myself, waiting for something that never came. ;)

But even without detailed, adult liaisons, the characters were interesting enough to keep me moving forward. Especially the main character Katherine Tylney. In the story she was Catherine Howard's most loyal friend, and she went from being a naive young girl to a woman with a backbone. I was actually quite proud of her nearing the end of the story. I won't go into any detail because I wouldn't want to give it away. But I liked the way she stopped biting her tongue, and eventually just said what was on her mind whether anyone liked it or not. Some scenes with her were intense, and brought out some of my emotions.

As for Catherine Howard, in the beginning I sort of liked her. I thought she was fun and brave. Toward the end, I just thought she was a nutcase. Unfortunately the book didn't change my opinion of her like I thought it might. She still comes across as being self serving and very childish to me, for the time in which she lived.

The plot was engaging, but it unfolded a bit slowly for my taste. I think that there could have been a few more obstacles in the beginning and middle of the book. I think a few things were rushed, particularly relationships between some of the characters, but then again, it is a young adult book.

The plot picked up and came together nicely in the end, and I felt somewhat satisfied with it. I do however wish that the ending had been delayed a little and more of a happily ever after added in. But maybe that is just my taste.

One of the things that stands out for me is Henry VIII himself. I really love the way his character was portrayed. He was loving and kind in this book, and not the tyrant that he is usually made out to be.That makes me quite happy. I actually found myself feeling sorry for him in this book, and not the executed queen.

Elizabeth The Virgin Queen & The Men Who Loved Her

Elizabeth The Virgin Queen And The Men Who Loved Her
by Robert Parry
134 pages
ISBN: 1499355599
published June 2, 2014

When I first got this book in the mail, I thought that the cover was beautiful. It is has a velvet finish and the colors in Elizabeth's clothing are vibrant and lively. They say, “never judge a book by it's cover,” but this particular cover makes me want to open the book almost immediately. I would have to say that the inside definitely matches the outside. The book is thin, but packs a powerful punch. If one wants to know anything about Elizabeth, but doesn't want to spend hours and hours reading, this is the place to start. It is unique and sumptuous.

Elizabeth was a complex person, and not very easy to please, which you think might detour others from wanting to be around her, but this is just not so. Besides the benefit of being close to her, there was something more endearing about her that made men want to compete for her affections. These men in her life played a vital role in English history. Their influence, although quite passive, contributed to keeping peace to the realm just by being at her side. It wasn't just Robert Dudley who loved her, but others who each had their own personality to attract her attentions.

The book starts with the most obvious of men; her father, and then ends with one of the least liked by me; Robert Devereux. After a short biography of each man, there is a fictionalized scene between Elizabeth and himself. The author, in my opinion, is quite brilliant with the way he made the words flow so naturally on the pages. Each scene pulled me in and made me feel as if I were in the same room with Elizabeth, so long ago. He has a knack for being able to make Elizabeth come alive on the pages. His words are what I would imagine in my mind, her exact same words, and her actions the same actions. Forget television, read this book! It is very entertaining, and fast paced. It only took three days to read the book, an hour per sitting.

I like how the author wrote the book as if I were on a weekend tour with him, learning about Elizabeth and her dynamic personality, that was clearly shaped by the men in her life. He even rated each of the men according to his perception of them. They would rate between one Tudor rose to five Tudor roses, five being the highest of admiration. Cute.

By the conclusion of the book, the reader will be well educated on how life at court with Elizabeth would have been. It touches upon all the major points in her life, and clears up any confusion that one might have encountered during a fictional portrayal of Elizabeth. This little book is probably one of my favorites so far, and I have read many Tudor related books. Not only do I like it because it is short, and very detailed, but because the author is meticulous in his research. There were a couple of things that I learned too. There is nothing about this book that I do not like.

I highly recommend any of Robert's books. They are all wonderful.

2014 'ELIZABETH - The Virgin Queen and the Men who Loved Her.'
2013 'WILDISH - A Story Concerning Different Kinds of Love'
2011 'THE ARROW CHEST - A Victorian Mystery'
2009 'VIRGIN AND THE CRAB - Sketches, Fables and Mysteries from the Early Life of John Dee and Elizabeth Tudor'

Currently, he is working on a project entitled 'The Hours Before' - a Gothic Mystery set in the Belle Epoque, expected to be released in 2015.