December 26, 2008

The Crowned Winner: Jane Seymour

The results are in! Your favorite wife of Henry VIII's is none other than third wife, Jane Seymour!

Jane Seymour was born roughly 1508-1509. She was not a very educated woman, according to historians. It was said that she could read and write only her name. Her studies focused more on needlework and the instruction of how to run a household. She served as a lady to both queen Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. While she was serving under Anne Boleyn, she caught the king's eye because she was the anti-Anne. Instead of being hot tempered with dark eyes, hair, and skin, Jane was of a mild temperament and had pale skin and blonde hair.

Jane became betrothed to Henry VIII only a day after the execution of her predecessor, Anne Boleyn. It was said that while Anne was being brought to the block, Henry was riding out to Jane's home to secure her hand. She was soon after named Queen Consort of England. She was, however, never crowned. Historians believe that Henry refused to crown her until she did her duty as a queen and gave him a male heir. Jane achieved this feat when she gave birth to her only child, Edward (who would later become king). Shortly after the birth of Edward, Jane died.

Henry honored Jane in a manner that befit a true queen. He mourned her death and called her his "one true wife," because she gave him the thing he wanted most: a son. He did not remarry for three years after her death. The painting below was painted when Henry was married to his sixth wife, Katherine Parr. He said he wanted a family portrait of himself, his son, and his two daughters, with their rightful mother. When the painting was revealed, Jane Seymour's face had been painted in place of Katherine Parr's.

Here are the full results:
1. Jane Seymour....................27%
2. Anne Boleyn......................24%
3. Catherine of Aragon...........20%
4. Anne of Cleves...................18%
5. Katherine Parr....................9%
6. Katherine Howard...............2%

Thanks for taking the poll! Try my new one! We're going to find out which Jane Austen heroine is most popular!

December 15, 2008

It's a YA Revolution

Is it just me or has young adult literature really taken on a new life form? When I was younger, we had R.L. Stine's Fear Street books and Ann M. Martin's The Babysitter's Club books. While I enjoyed them greatly, they are nothing compared to these new books that are all over the place!

I think it began with the Harry Potter books. I know they were intended to be children's books, and you'll find them in the youth section of a book store or library. But let's face it, they've turned into young adult books also as Harry turned into a young adult himself. It's amazing how huge these books became. I am obviously an enormous fan. Next came Stephenie Meyer's fabulous vampire series, Twilight. If you've read anything else I've written, you know how I feel about these books. They're so wonderful and really live up to the all of the hype that is centered around them. These two series have really made reading something "cool" again. There are obviously more young adult treasures out there, but I think these two series are real gems.

And that brings me to my latest read: Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty, the first installment of her Gemma Doyle series. It's about a girl named Gemma who has a vision of her mother's murder in India. She is sent to a finishing school in London while both mourning her mother's death and trying to cope with her new found ability. She struggles to make friends and deals with the catty mean girls of Spence Academy. Once Gemma finds her place at Spence, her visions thrust her into a world of magic and mystery that is far beyond her comprehension. In this first installment, Gemma struggles to understand the wonders and the dangers of possessing such magic.

This was a great read. I found myself constantly wanting to find out what was going to happen next. I think it's a great young adult read. It obviously does not measure up to Twilight's caliber. But the story is still a good one. It explores a different branch of magic that I personally haven't read about before. It's a world that mixes witchcraft with Victorian England. I'll definitely be reading the other books in the series to see what happens to Gemma and her friends.

December 9, 2008

I Am Mary Tudor

This is the story of Mary Tudor, Henry VIII's first daughter that was born to Catherine of Aragon. It tells her story from her point of view and follows her through her birth, her mother's divorce, Anne Boleyn's rise and her fall, Jane Seymour's untimely death, Anne of Cleves's short marriage and continued friendship, Katherine Howard's scandalous fall from the throne, Katherine Parr's heretic ways, the death of her brother Edward, Jane Grey usurping her throne, and finally to her coronation. Yes, Hilda Lewis managed to get all of that into one book. It's a lot of information, but it's good information. It addresses almost every rumor that was present at court. For example, Mary expresses her feeling about the rumors that Anne Boleyn had a sixth finger and a mark on her neck that signified the devil. Lewis introduced many of the most important players in her life and in Henry's too for that matter.

This book was really interesting. While Mary is not necessarily my favorite of Henry's children, or my favorite English monarch, it was good fun to read a story that expresses what her point of view may have been about her father's marriages. It allowed me to get inside of Mary's head in a way that I had never been able to before. Hilda Lewis is a great historian and writes with great detail. Her novels are a bit epic, so be sure you have time to devote to finishing the book before picking it up. It's heavy and there's a lot going on within. If you like Tudor history as I do, you'll enjoy this novel about Henry's first daughter.

Up next? I need a Tudor break... so I will be starting another young adult novel called A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. Hopefully it will be fun and quick, which is exactly what I need after this heavy historical novel. I've heard good things, so we shall see. Hopefully my reading will pick up a little bit and I'll have more book reviews a little more often. I'll do my best!

December 4, 2008

My Jane Austen Persona

You Scored as Marianne Dashwood
Most girls can relate with Marianne on a more personal level than some of Austen's other characters. She represents the emotional longings and struggles that seem to attack and bless us at the same time. Loyal to a fault, passionate for experience and life, and a bit over-emotional, Marianne matures and grows (making her so beloved).

Marianne Dashwood
Emma Woodhouse
Elizabeth Bennet
Jane Bennet
Elinor Dashwood

I've been putting off writing my paper about the 2008 Presidential election because I couldn't really care less about politics. So I've found another really fun quiz to find out which Jane Austen character you are most like. As it turns out, to my happiness, I am Marianne Dashwood. She's my favorite character from Sense and Sensibility. The first time I watched the movie version with Kate Winslet as Marianne, I thought, "Gee, I'm a lot like her aren't I?" Sure enough, this quiz proved me right. My second place likeness was Emma Woodhouse, of Emma of course. My third place likeness was Elizabeth Bennet (thank you very much!). And in fourth place was Jane Bennet (thank you again!)

I'm very happy with my results. No wonder these women are my favorite characters. They're the ones that are most like me, hence I relate to them much better! I hope you all enjoy this quiz!

Take this quiz:

December 2, 2008

Cast Your Vote

No no, this has nothing to do with any sort of political voting. After the 2008 Presidential election, I don't even want to think about that kind of stuff for another four years. Nope, my vote is about the poll that you've probably already seen to the left.

I'm always curious as to who is the most popular of Henry's queens. Research has shown that Henry's subjects loved and adored Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves. But what about now? So much literature is focused on Anne Boleyn. Let's face it, she's an intriguing woman! I personally cannot read enough about her. But is she my personal favorite of Henry's six trials at matrimony? No, I don't think so. I started thinking about that and I would like to see what everyone else thinks!

So do me a favor and cast your vote! After Christmas I will post the results and recommend some good fiction and maybe even some nonfiction about the winning queen.

Meanwhile, I am in the midst of my finals for my teaching program and have been ridiculously busy. I am still working on my Hilda Lewis novel, I Am Mary Tudor. I'm about 2/3 done with it, and I really do enjoy it. I'll post a review once I finish.

P.S. For those of you who are looking for the Historical Queen quiz, here is the link: