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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

My review of the Heretic's Wife by Brenda Rickman Vantrease

The Heretic’s WifeThe Heretic’s Wife by Brenda Rickman Vantrease
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. Like most people these days, I am looking at my phone more and holding an actual book less often, but I want to change that habit and knock out some of the books I own. This book was a pleasure to read. I found the characterization to be well done and I identified with the main character. While this was a mainstream title and not inspirational fiction, I found it to be tastefully written and historically based, which is my preference when reading a book. The heroine was married to one of William Tyndale's peers and included the perspectives (on occasion) of Anne Boleyn and Thomas Moore, both on opposing sides of the religious spectrum of the day. There were a few other perspectives as well such as the husband and a ship captain. I liked how the author included historical quotes or writings at the beginning of each chapter to establish the fact from where she derived her fiction.

The trials endured in by the characters in this book were well executed and realistically portrayed. I am always more grateful for minor struggles when I read stories that include true hardships. Since I am an avid fan of Tudor era fiction, and I read a lot of it, I have to say I felt like I was living in that time period while reading this novel. I sensed the anxiety the characters had over the possibility of being burned at the stake for their beliefs. Even though this is not classified as Christian fiction, the author inserted a faith element that was spot-on in regards to how protestants viewed the bible and its interpretation. The author inspired me whenever I read the parts where the characters' faith was tested. Bottom line, I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. And that's a good thing.

View all my reviews

Long absent poster is back

I thought my account had been closed or I would have posted much sooner. So after moving across the county in November and retiring from Arizona State service, I decided to revive my book reviewing. Hope you enjoy this renewal of my opinions on books.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

My review of The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

About the book:

This is the story of the making of England in the 9th and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred the Great, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.

The story is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, a dispossessed nobleman, who is captured as a child by the Danes and then raised by them so that, by the time the Northmen begin their assault on Wessex (Alfred’s kingdom and the last territory in English hands) Uhtred almost thinks of himself as a Dane. He certainly has no love for Alfred, whom he considers a pious weakling and no match for Viking savagery, yet when Alfred unexpectedly defeats the Danes and the Danes themselves turn on Uhtred, he is finally forced to choose sides. By now he is a young man, in love, trained to fight and ready to take his place in the dreaded shield wall. Above all, though, he wishes to recover his father’s land, the enchanting fort of Bebbanburg by the wild northern sea.

This thrilling adventure—based on existing records of Bernard Cornwell’s ancestors—depicts a time when law and order were ripped violently apart by a pagan assault on Christian England, an assault that came very close to destroying England.

My review:

I decided to read this book because I watched the Netflix series three times. Then I joined a Facebook fan group and people talked about how good the books were. So I decided to try the series. The first book pretty much captures the first season. While there are some variations that don't exactly match the TV series, the book and the heart of the story (and characters) are the same. What I enjoyed about the book was how well the author developed the main character. He was easy to relate to and the content moved at a fast enough pace that it held my attention. Since I watched the show before I read the books I prefer the television adaptation, however, I plan to read the rest of the books in the series because I love reading history and the author is able to transport me to the era by his vivid description of the times. I would definitely recommend this book for people who love European history and battle scenes.

The Last Kingdom was published in 2006 by Harper Collins. 

Saturday, December 01, 2018

My review of “Why We Get Fat and What to Fo About It” by Gary Taubes

About the Book:

What’s making us fat? And how can we change? Building upon his critical work in Good Calories, Bad Calories and presenting fresh evidence for his claim, bestselling author Gary Taubes revisits these urgent questions. 

Taubes reveals the bad nutritional science of the last century—none more damaging or misguided than the “calories-in, calories-out” model of why we get fat—and the good science that has been ignored. He also answers the most persistent questions: Why are some people thin and others fat? What roles do exercise and genetics play in our weight? What foods should we eat, and what foods should we avoid? Persuasive, straightforward, and practical, Why We Get Fat is an essential guide to nutrition and weight management.
Complete with an easy-to-follow diet.  Featuring a new afterword with answers to frequently asked questions. 

My review

I actually finished this book. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and found myself talking about it with people during lunch and as I went about my day. My youngest son already avoids carbs but I have always been a skeptic. At the same time I saw that his avoidance of carbs had merit and he looked great. Healthy too.  

Now in my fifties I thought about all of the people I’ve known who have gotten sick over the years with diabetes due to high carb diets and now I see the truth.  Metabolic issues are caused by eating the wrong foods for years on end. I found the science and research in the book compelling. I started to pay attention to what I ate and felt better than I have in a long time. Then I noticed if I did eat some sugar that my stomach would hurt and I just didn’t feel good. When I ate it all the time I couldn’t sense a difference but when I steered clear of carbs for a few days and then ate sugary food it really hurt my stomach. 

My body clearly agrees with the author of this book’s premise. I am glad I read it as it has motivated me to take better care of myself and pay more attention to what I eat. Well worth the money. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

My review of The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory

About the book:

The final novel in the Cousins’ War series, the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries, The White Queen, by #1 New York Times bestselling author and “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory tells the fascinating story of Margaret Pole, cousin to the “White Princess,” Elizabeth of York, and lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon.

Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter—Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors.

After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret’s world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. But this charmed life of the wealthiest and “holiest” woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors.

My review:

Really good story, and like the history of the Titanic, you know a tragic ending is part of the journey. I think the author did a great job at showing you the highs and lows of the main character’s life. I really identified with Margaret Pole's internal conflict and the denial she had to use to cope toward the end. The last scene was intense.

In some ways the anticipation of this tragedy this probably dragged out the reading for me because I wanted to avoid the sad ending, though I wanted to finish the book. Good authors make you care. And Maggie had such a tragic history and relationship with the tower to include her brother and then other members of her family - all killed to prevent them from taking a throne they didn't even want. She only desired to live discreetly and with her family intact.

Since I watched the mini-series "The Tudors" I remember the scene where Margaret is told she is to be executed and she flips out. So sad. Another fabulous read by Philippa, who is one of my all-time favorite authors because she really knows how to tug at my heartstrings, and she always does this without inserting graphic sex and violence. Love it!

The King's Curse was published by Simon and Schuster and released in August 2014.

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