Review: The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen

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I picked this book up by accident while browsing the public library shelves, as I often do.  For me, there are a few words that, if I spot in a novel’s title, will cause me to pounce.  Some of these are: Tudor, Queen, Tower, Henry VIII…you get the idea.  This time, the word ‘Boleyn’ caught my attention.  I am a huge fan of historical fiction, especially those books loosely based on the War of the Roses, House Tudor, or Elizabethan England.  Though after skimming the back blurb of the novel, I was apprehensive on two accounts:

1)  This book was written by an American author.  Typically most historical fiction about the English monarchs I read are written by Phillippa Gregory, Alison Weir, Hilary Mantel or other British author.  That’s not to say an author born and bred outside of England cannot write about the history of England.  I just didn’t expect it.

2)  I almost re-shelved the book upon learning it is not quite historical fiction, but ‘what-if’ historical fiction.  I had never come across one of its kind before, and perhaps they are few and far between.  The events that transpire in this novel are entirely based on the false premise that Anne Boleyn never miscarried Henry VIII’s son (William, in this book).  I thought to myself, how ludicrous!  How absurd to suggest an erroneous historical fact.  How can one presume to rewrite history?  But hey, it isn’t history — it’s historical fiction.  So I checked the book out, and I’m glad I did.

This story (though so far from fact that it is nearly all fiction and no history) had me so enraptured I couldn’t put it down.  The characters are engaging, the plot and multiple subplots enticing, and Laura Andersen’s writing flows in a simple style lacking pretentiousness.  Historical fiction benefits from a direct, to-the-point writing style rather than ornate, flowery prose.  Andersen has succeeded in mastering this.

Synopsis

As I mentioned, this books is based on the premise that Anne Boleyn’s son survived.  This event saved her marriage — and her life.  The novel begins 17 years after the birth of William, the crown prince of England, while Anne acts as queen regent.  Good ol’ Henry VIII is long dead and Anne is older now — old actually, for those times.  The story however is note so much about Anne but four younger individuals and close friends:  William, his older sister Elizabeth, William’s friend Dominic Courtenay, and Elizabeth’s ward Minuette.  Minuette does stand out as a more central character, and the plots revolve around her the most.  The third person narration switches between these four characters to allow readers to see their thoughts, motives, and true feelings towards each other.

At the opening, William is a year away from being crowned King of England.  He becomes more and more aware of the burden of the position, including pressure to marry, the threat of war with France, and dealing with the Catholic Mary and her supporters — some of who may be within William’s own council.  Minuette meanwhile has attracted the attention of not just Dominic but his best friend William.  Yet Will is no longer just Dominic’s friend and Minuette’s playmate but the soon to be King of England — and very much in need of a queen.  Can Minuette defy him once he is crowned ruler of England?  Where does her loyalty life?  And what of Elizabeth and her beloved Robert Dudley?  Scandals, romance, and murder ensues.

Conclusion

Hypothetical situation or not, this story kept me interested.  I will be reading the sequel The Boleyn Deceit when it comes out this fall 2013.  If you enjoy historical fiction or if you are obsessed with the scandals of the Tudor Court, I highly suggest checking out this book.

Download it on Amazon today!

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: The Chosen by Andrea Buginsky

The Chosen

New Edition!

The Chosen Cover Final

Expanded to include even more action, romance, and adventure!

The Chosen has been revised and expanded to give it a more polished look. You’ll love all of the new additions, including:

  • Two new characters essential to The Chosen
  • A light romance story
  • More action scenes

All of this topped off with a beautiful brand new cover.

About the Book:

Halli is a shy, young dwarf who has no idea of her true calling. When the evil Prince Gastle sets out to detroy the world of Phantasma, Queen Laurali of the Elves comes to tell Halli she’s a Holy Paladin with the power to heal, and will join The Chosen, a group of brave warriors being sent to defeat the evil beast and save Phantasma. Will Halli be accepted by her group, and be able to keep them alive through their adventures? Will the evil Prince Gastle be defeated, freeing Phantasma from his destruction? Only time will tell.

Excerpt:

“Halli, you have a wonderful calling.  You are a Holy Paladin, with powers that can heal the sick, and even raise the dead in certain cases.  Holy Paladins are very rare, and very coveted.  To protect you, we agreed to come to Drumple to live with the other dwarves, so we could blend in, and appear to be no different than them.  We all planned on telling you of your calling when you were done with school, but as Queen Laurali has said, Prince Gastle’s attacks have made the day we tell you come sooner than we anticipated.”

Halli sat staring at her mother as she heard the tale.  She knew all about The Castle of the Elves, it’s subjects, Priestesses and Holy Paladins from her studies and readings.  She grew up hearing stories about them all.  She absorbed everything she could find and read about them.  It was as though somewhere inside her, she knew she was a part of it all.  But hearing what her mother was telling her was surreal.  She started to shake her head.

“This can’t be,” she whispered.  “You can’t be serious.  How can I possibly be what you say I am?  You know me, Mom.  I’m not strong and powerful.  I’m shy, I’m quiet, I like to be alone and not surrounded by a lot of people.  I have problems facing confrontations, and do everything I can to avoid them.”

Queen Laurali smiled at Halli’s description of herself.

“Halli, everything you just said are the classic traits of Holy Paladins, from a certain point of view.  They don’t get involved in conflicts themselves, but rather keep those that are involved alive from a distance.  They don’t get directly involved in confrontations and arguments.  They think things through and come up with solutions that will work for everyone.  In essence, they keep the peace within the groups with which they’re involved.  From a distance, this can make them seem quiet and shy, but anyone who knows them knows it is their quiet ways that keep this peace.”

Halli stared at Queen Laurali as she listened to her, and again began to shake her head.

“I don’t think that’s how I am.  I am shy, I do avoid confrontation.  And even if what you’re saying is true, how can I possibly do anything to help the fight against Prince Gastle?  I’m just a student!”

“Halli, this is your destiny,” Queen Laurali assured her.  “This is what you’re meant to do.  I know it’s a shock to hear all of this, but it’s your birthright.”

The Chosen is available at Amazon and Smashwords

About the Author:

My HeadshotAndrea Buginsky is a freelance writer and author. “The Chosen” was her first book, and was followed by “My Open Heart,” an autobiography about growing up with heart disease. “Nature’s Unbalance” is the second story in THE CHOSEN series. Andrea plans to write more in the series. She’s already done with the first draft of book 3 and has a concept for book 4. You can find Andrea on her website, Andi’s Realm. Her books are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Remember to sign up for Andrea’s newsletter to stay up-to-date on all of her exciting events.

 

 

 

BLOG TOUR: Spotlight, Review and Giveaway with Lawrence Fisher

“Kill Me Now!” is a book about Lawrence, a man in his late 40s, dodging bullets deep in the dating battlefield while searching for THE ONE, his soulmate, not Neo from the Matrix.

Kill me now

Synopsis:

Kill Me Now! is about Lawrence, a man in his late 40s dodging bullets deep in the dating battlefield while searching for the ONE. In Kill Me Now! Lawrence tries to decode the signals of his enigmatic opponent, often resulting in his hasty retreat. Why is she resting her head on her hand?

Is she bored? Or is she interested? He finds himself in many humorous situations where he has no idea what he is doing and no idea how to maneuver through the skirmish. Trapped in the epicenter of the courting conflict, the motivating thought that sustains him is his strong belief that somewhere out there, she awaits. Join Lawrence as he painfully stumbles through the mating minefield in search for his SOULMATE while silently wishing that he was elsewhere. Be warned, you will laugh!

Excerpt:

February 2: A Steep Learning Curve

No date again, woe is me! How many of us have sat at home wondering why we don’t have a date? How many of us have gone to a bar to look for a girl, found someone interesting and just froze? What should we say to her? What is a good pick up line? Questions, questions, questions! Help!

Those of us who know how to use the internet instinctively say, “Google it!” In the search tab, you type in, “how to pick up girls” and hope for the best. You then receive a plethora of websites offering you information from the best of the best. THE experts! Or so you assume. One site says there are plenty of people who are good at picking up girls, but cannot explain their art. If they cannot explain, then what good are they to us? Do they describe which girls are they trying to pick up? What kind of girls were these, real or imaginary?

One night, I decided to try a line from one of those websites. Me, myself and I, the holy trio, decided to go to a bar. A stunning brunette caught my attention as she eyed the crowd. Somehow she managed to avoid eye contact with me. I walked up to the lady, took out my iPhone, and hoped it impressed her.

I read off my iPhone, “Baby, I’m no Fred Flintstone but I can make your Bedrock.” OK, I agree with you. That is a lame line.

She leaned toward me seductively and said, “Go Google again!” Was she being rude to me or not? I still have no idea. I think she had learned the true art of diplomacy, which is the ability to tell someone to go to hell so that he actually looks forward to the trip.

It is very important to make a good first impression. The first impression is vital. It is difficult to correct a bad first impression. Oh, the pressure, the pressure. There is only one chance to do it right!

Going up to a girl at a bar saying, “What is a girl like you doing in a place like this?” will probably earn you a smirk. Not only is the line antiquated, but it seems to work only in the movies, and sometimes not even there. The only time I tried that line, the girl said it was her bar and that I should not refer to it as “such a place”.

Oh, what should I do? What should I do?

The internet provides contradicting information. What’s new? When we search for something in our field of expertise, we understand whether it sounds right or not. But if our understanding is close to zero, how can we define what is right and what is not?

Somehow I need to hone my non-existent skills. Somehow I need more practice. Somehow I need experienced friends.

Looking at my friends and hearing their stories, I wonder, does experience really help?

Oh, crap! Kill me now!

Review:   owl-book-hiowl-book-hiowl-book-hiowl-book-hi 

When I started reading this book, I hadn’t read any background about the author.  After a few chapters of laughing over Lawrence’s dating woes, I assumed he was an American.  Hearing similar stories  (if not articulated with the hilarity Fisher possesses) of dating nightmares from friends all living nearby in small town New Jersey, I simply assumed Lawrence must live — well, around the corner.  Because how could dating be as onerous and terrible in other parts of the world?

Well, I was shocked when I checked out Fisher’s website and saw that he lived not in America–not even in Canada, but in Israel!  What?  I couldn’t believe it.  But perhaps that’s my own ignorance, my belief in the erroneous notion that life is better somewhere else.  If anything, Lawrence Fisher has taught me that is not true, and no matter where you live in the world, entering the dating world single and middle-aged is tough, tiring, and shockingly hurtful at times.

But it’s not all terrible.  Fisher has managed to transform his humiliating, arduous experiences into something positive.  A book, that is nothing short of laugh-out-loud moments and overall amusement in which Lawrence takes us through horrifying encounter after encounter with women all over his country ranging from the ugly to the insane to the just plain rude.

It’s hard not to feel Fisher’s pain and suffering through his experiences, but his determination is endearing and should inspire any single middle-aged men in his situation, which I expect is more people than I can imagine.  I found it particularly easy to connect to Fisher after reading his introduction, which explains what events had unfolded in his life to trigger him to suck it up and start searching for his soul mate.  After all, nobody wants to grow old all alone.

In conclusion, I truly believe this book could be picked up and enjoyed by just about anyone.  If you are looking especially for a comedic read, buy a copy of Kill Me Now and laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of Fisher’s dating experiences as I did.  Bravo, Lawrence Fisher, for sharing what other people are too embarrassed to.

About the Author:

LawrenceLawrence has been out on countless dates in search of his soulmate. Like most people he has found himself in many strange situations. However, he found that he could see the humor in each situation. Lawrence is a single guy in his late 40s. He has worked in computers and education for about 25 years and also holds a personal fitness trainer certification. He currently lives in Tel Aviv, Israel. Lawrence Fisher spends his days writing software tutorials and his nights in the endless search for the ONE. Will he find her? Or will there be book two out?

Author Contact Details:

website_buttonhttp://KillMeNow.org

Facebookhttp://facebook.com/KMNow

twitterhttp://twitter.com/lbigfoot

goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15712738-kill-me-now

amazon-buttonhttp://goo.gl/i3clZ

giveaway

Lawrence is giving away two copies of Kill Me Now on his blog tour!  Click on ‘Giveaway’ above to enter!
 
 

My 5 Favorite Fiction Novels…So Far

This past week I got sidetracked from my book reviewing schedule.  For several weeks now, I had been simultaneously reading Wuthering Heights along with whatever book I was supposed to be reading for a review.  While I enjoy reading new authors’ books, I always like to be reading one of the classics.  TIME Magazine has a great list of the 100  Best Novels of All Time; there’s also a site called thegreatestbooks.org I reference when perusing for the next ‘essential’ book.

There’s no way I will get through all of TIME’s 100 novels in my lifetime, and I don’t mean to.  Wuthering Heights had always been on my British lit list of must-reads, and this past week the story pulled me in.  After finishing it last night, I became inspired to make a list of my 10 favorite books of all time.  Well, so far.  Keep in mind I’m 25 now, and if I’ve left out one of your favorites, it’s very possible I haven’t gotten to it yet!

1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë6185

I can only say I can’t believe I hadn’t read this sooner.  I always believed Pride & Prejudice was the quintessential love story, and yes, I am very fond of Jane Austen.  Wuthering Heights however is about a love so maddening, so powerful, it’s stronger than death.  I do not comprehend the distasteful reviews of this book on Goodreads.  Yes, the character Heathcliff is at times unlikable but I’m assuming these readers didn’t really ‘get’ this story.

2.  A Secret History by Donna Tartt29044

This is a fascinating tale about a group of rich students at an New England college.  This elite group is not only unapproachable because of their over-priveleged snob status, but also because they are knowledgable worldly Greek scholars.  When a new student is invited into the group, he uncovers the real reason these five students tend to keep to themselves.  Ancient rituals, murder, and scandal ensues.

3.  The Razor’s Edge by William Somerset Maugham31196

The fact that The Razor’s Edge is number three here is irrelevant; this is still my all-time favorite story ever since I read it freshman year of high school.  I don’t know if it’s Maugham’s prose, or the enchanting characters, or the fact that setting himself in the story as the narrator, or if all three of these aspects of the novel together make it so endearing and uniquely diverting.  The Razor’s edge is an illustrious work of writing without needing to be action-packed; I think that’s why I love it so much.

4.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald4671

This is NOT on my list because the move is soon to be released (and I love the idea of Leo as Gatsby).  Typically, I am drawn to any book set in the 1920’s Jazz Age, because I think I would have loved to live in New York during that time.  And gone to one of Gatsby’s Long Island parties.  Fitgzerald is also one my favorites; This Side of Paradise, Franny & Zooey, etc.

5.  The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien34

I am a Tolkien-ite, and though I love everything he has written related to Lord of The Rings (even the Silmarillion, the Appendices) the first book in the trilogy is my favorite.  I’m not sure why — perhaps because it’s the beginning of Frodo’s journey, and the only book in which the Fellowship is unbroken.  Maybe I just want to live in the Shire.  (That’s probably true, but unrelated to my preference for this book over the other two).

If I had to make a top 10 list, these would be the other 5:

6.  Candide by Voltaire

7.  The Odyssey by Homer

8.  A Room with A View by E. M. Forster

9.  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

10.  The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Are any of these your favorites?  What other books should I include on my must-read list?