(Review) Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things Book 2 by Wendy J. Dunn

Publisher and Publication Date: Poesy Quill Publishing. January 15, 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 449.
Format: pdf copy/Kindle e-book copy.
Source: I received a complimentary pdf copy from Poesy Quill Publishing. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction. Readers of Tudor history.
Rating: Excellent.

Link @ Amazon
Link @ Barnes and Noble


About the Author:
Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian author, playwright and poet who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. She is the author of three Tudor novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel, and Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters.

While she continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder, serendipity of life now leaves her no longer wondering if she has been channeling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but considering the possibility of ancestral memory. Her own family tree reveals the intriguing fact that her ancestors – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally.

Connect with Wendy:
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Summary:

Winter, 1539

María de Salinas is dying.

Too ill to travel, she writes a letter to her daughter Katherine, the young duchess of Suffolk. A letter telling of her life: a life intertwined with her friend and cousin Catalina of Aragon, the youngest child of Isabel of Castile. It is a letter to help her daughter understand the choices she has made in her life, beginning from the time she keeps her vow to Catalina to share her life of exile in England.

Friendship, betrayal, hatred, forgiveness – All Manner of Things tells a story of how love wins out in the end. 

My Thoughts:
Several reasons I love this story.
1. It is a continuation of the close bond and friendship between Catalina and María from the first book, The Duty of Daughters.
2. I love the opening paragraph. It is rich in descriptive detail that sets the tone for the story.
3. All Manner of Things shows that during this era women had little control of their lives. Their marriages were often arranged. Rare did a couple marry for love.
4. All Manner of Things is a woman’s story. I am deeply effected by their suffering during pregnancies and labor without modern knowledge and medicine. Their plight during labor may lead to death. Yet, they speak as if that is always a chance, always in their minds that this might happen. The women love men who do not honor or respect them. Yet, the women have no choice but to stay married and accept the hurtful arrangements. In this story, I saw more situations where women helped other women. Whether it was advice in love, marriage, or chastity. The women depended on other women. The men seem to be secondary characters.
5. María de Salinas is the narrator of All Manner of Things. In the first book, Beatriz the Latin teacher is the narrator. Both of these women are intelligent, wise, educated, and savvy. They are passionate but they both hold two key character traits. They are committed to their duty. They have strong restraint.
6. I love the perspective María has of Henry as a boy, youth, man, and king. She is a sharp observer.

Final Thought:
While reading this story I wondered how much of Catalina’s experiences with men shaped her and her role to be Henry VIII’s wife?

Favorite Quote:
“Love makes fools of us all.”

Excerpt:

“In May day, when the lark began to rise…” the king sang.

The king is good at play-acting. A stone throw from the king but hidden from view, María lounged on her mantle, in a secluded bower in the parkland near Greenwich palace. He play-acts the good husband. Surely that means he cares about Catalina? In her self-imposed solitude, she sipped her wine and chewed at her chicken leg.

“Trolly lolly lolly lo, Sing trolly lolly lo! My love is to the greenwood gone,” the king sang now.

Catalina had sorrowed over the loss of her confessor and his return to Castile for weeks. Is it any wonder the king organises a day of merriment for his wife and court? Catalina had no notion that their departure from Greenwich palace would be interrupted by the arrival of Robin Hood, Maid Marian and Friar Tuck – or that a banquet would be prepared for their pleasure in this parkland – in a huge bower laid down with carpets and scattered cushions to sit upon. She had no choice but to put on a happy face for her husband – especially when the day was witnessed by foreign ambassadors. Si – the king is good at play-acting, but so is Catalina.

After the banquet when her head started to pound, María had taken possession of one of the smaller bowers, provided for those who wished privacy. After a little while by herself, María was not surprised to see Catalina approaching. She rose and curtseyed. Catalina gestured to her. “Pray sit down. I’ve told the others I am joining you for a time.”

María sat again, wondering what caused Catalina to speak to her in their shared tongue.

“A pleasant outing, don’t you think?” Catalina asked, sitting beside her.

“Si, very pleasant.” Hearing the king’s voice, María drew apart some of the bushes to peer out. His back towards them, the king stood with the Venetian ambassador, both them apparently admiring one of the bowers filled with singing birds of all descriptions. The organisation of this event must have taken days to prepare. Even the trees had been made more beautiful by the hanging of innumerable embroidered hawthorn leaves.

Thomas More broke away from the other courtiers, and began walking in their direction. María pulled back and released the bush. But he still noticed them. He ambled over and bowed to the queen.

Catalina laughed. “You have hunted out my hiding place, Tom.” She glanced at María. “I should say ‘our’. My good friend found it first. Would you like to join us?”

More bowed again. “I could not think of a greater pleasure.”

Watching him throw down his cloak and sit, María hoped no one else would seek them out. She sighed. Catalina’s time with me will likely be cut short as soon as the king realises her absence.
“Are you writing anything new, Tom?” Catalina asked More.

He laughed. “I am always scribbling something new.”

“You do not want to speak of it?”

“I refuse to weary my queen on a day as agreeable as today with talk of my unfinished works. If I did, I would risk my wife’s scolding.”

Catalina grinned. “Your wife scolds you?”

“Aye – she thinks I am but a foolish man at times.” He laughed again. “If she thinks it, she speaks it. But she also ensures a good, and peaceful home too – and I thank her for that. It is what I most need for the health of my soul.”

“I have spoken to Dame Alice over the years since your marriage. I delight in how she speaks her mind, and how much but she loves you, Tom.”

Catalina turned to draw aside some of the bush. She sighed. “I wish I could stay longer, but I too love my husband. It is time to make my return to him. I bid you good day, Thomas – please send my greeting to Dame Alice, and tell her I hope to see her soon. María, if you have enough of seclusion for the day, perchance you could come back soon? I am lonely for you.”

“I will return anon, my queen.”

María watched Catalina go, aware of More’s silence. At last, he spoke, “You do not wish to return?”

María met his curious eyes. “I will always wish to return to my queen. She knows me well – and understands my need to be away from people at times. Today was one such time. All the chatter hurt my head.”

More nodded. He looked out towards the milling courtiers. Music, laughter, talking men and women strangled any chance for a moment of silence. “Yes – the court is not a place for peace, or for the health of one’s soul.”

An accented voice called out her name and that of Thomas More. Master Erasmus shambled over to them. More helped María up from the ground and they greeted the old man outside of the bower. Leaning on his walking stick, Erasmus bowed over her hand before kissing her with relish. María had to restrain herself from wiping her mouth of his taste of mint leaves and garlic. But she liked Erasmus, and was always happy to speak to him.

“Such a delightful habit of the English! I never tire of it!” The elderly man spoke fast in French, his eyes creased up in laughter-lines.

She laughed, replying in the same tongue. “I remember you in the first year of the king’s reign. You sought out all the unwed girls.”

“The kiss of greeting is a good custom of England. But then the English have a lot to make up to us for their weather – and other bad habits.”
“Do we, my old friend?” More said with a laugh.

María glanced at More and back at Erasmus. “What do you speak of, Master?”

“Surely you know?” Erasmus shifted as if in pain. “I speak not of the home of our friend here. The home of Thomas More is a delight to visit. But there are English who dump upon their clay floors foul things. Their rushes conceal old bones, spittle, shit of dogs and cats, and everything under God’s good Heaven to make a stomach turn.” His face screwed up in disgust.

María smiled and gave a short laugh. “Once, those habits were shared by others. I remember my first days at the court of the king’s father. I was shocked time after time by the behaviour of the English nobility. But the queen has long stopped that kind of conduct at court.”

“Aye – conditions at court are greatly improved from the time of the old king. But, to my dismay, I find many other places are exactly the same as when I first came to England, when this King Henry was but a boy and still a prince at Eltham Palace.”

“You met him then?”

“I hoped to gain patronage of the old king, as is still a common pattern to my life. I wished to make myself known to Queen Elizabeth. Thomas, you must remember the day?”

“Aye – we walked together from my home to Eltham. Prince Henry, as he was then, was with his mother. What a beautiful woman she was.”

“Very beautiful – and a good woman too.” Maria sighed. “Our lives changed for the worse after her death.”

“Do you recall how she towered over most men – and stood eye to eye with her own husband?” asked Erasmus.

“Yes, she was tall, but it suited her,” said María. “Tell me, what of the king as a boy? I met him a few times when he was boy, but I am curious to hear what you thought of him, Master Erasmus?”

“From the outside, all his mother’s son. I remember he sailed his toy boat in the pond near the palace. In my mind’s eye, I can see the day still. The water shimmered like a bright mirror in the sun. A touch of breeze swelled its surface and ruffled the feathers of the swans.” He laughed. “Strange, is it not, the older you become, how rain spoils so few of our memories.”

María looked all around. The parkland seemed washed with gold by the lowering sun. Sunshine or rain, an increasing shroud of sorrow wound tighter around each new day. For years, she had no longer wished to look forward. She turned back to the comfort of Erasmus’ voice; it kept her safe in a past not her own.

“I did not know the boy crouching at the pond’s edge was a prince. Although, thinking back, there was a guard close to him. I thought him then a goodly made young lad.”

“Yes – I thought that too when I met him for the first time not long afterwards. He escorted the queen to her marriage with his brother.”

“The queen has been a good patron to me. She is a worthy daughter of the great Isabel of Castile.” Erasmus seemed to no longer want to speak of the past, but the present. María repressed a laugh. If I stay here for much longer, Erasmus will likely begin talking of a new book he wishes more coin from the queen to write.

“The queen is indeed her mother’s daughter.”

Daylight beginning to ebb, the wind turned even colder. María curtseyed to Erasmus and More with great respect. “I must be away and return to the queen. I bid you both good day – and hope to speak to you more very soon.”

She walked away, but cast a glance over her shoulder at the two men. Both of them were talking, and did not seem to care about the lengthening shadows – or that everyone around them began to ready to continue their interrupted journey. They were happy in their own world.

(Review) King John: Treachery and Tyranny in Medieval England: The Road to Magna Carta by Marc Morris

Publisher and Publication Date: Pegasus Books. 2015.
Genre: Nonfiction. British history.
Pages: 400.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of British history and the British monarchy.
Rating: Very good.

Goodreads page for Marc Morris.

Marc Morris’ webpage. Has not been updated since 2016.

Sixteen illustrations in color.

Included is a translation of the Magna Carta.

Amazon link

I had this book in a TBR stack since 2015.

Summary:
Royal house of Plantagenet in England. This house ruled 1154 to 1485.
John was the son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. John had four older brothers and was not expected to become a king.
Henry II ruled 1154-1189.
Richard I Lionheart ruled 1189-1199. Richard did not have legitimate heirs.
John ruled 1199-1216.
John’s older brothers: William, Henry, Richard I, and Geoffrey all died leaving John as the heir to the throne.

Chapter one begins by explaining John is the ruler of a large domain. He is king of England and most of south Wales. He is lord of Ireland. Duke of Normandy. Count of Anjou. Duke of Aquitaine. He had only been king for a couple of years, but his foe is King Philip II of France. Philip had been king 23 years. In 1203, John’s large domain is threatened by Philip.
Chapter two backs up to the lineage of his family, childhood, parents marriage crisis, and John’s older brothers and their struggles with Henry II.
Chapter three is “the siege of Chateau Gaillard” in 1203-04.
Chapter four goes back to 1189 when Henry II died. Richard’s reign, his activity during the crusade, Geoffrey’s death, and John became Richard’s successor. While Richard is away John made his move to be in charge.
The rest of the book is in chronological order of the events in John’s reign.

My Thoughts:
John has a bad reputation. I must admit I’m not fond of him. However, my interest has been peaked from previous books I’ve read about Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II, and British royal history.

A few things I learned:
1. During King John‘s reign, records or documents were kept unlike previous royals before him.
2. A book written about William Marshall tells about John’s reign. Marc Morris points out it was Marshall’s family who produced the book. The book is favorably slanted to Marshall and not John.
3. John’s buried body was found in the 18th century.

What I dislike about the book is jumping in time during the first part of the book. I prefer a nonfiction book be chronological in events.

King John is not dry. It is an entertaining read.

The story of King John is told in about 300 pages. This is an easy to digest biography.

There are 45 pages with lists of the notes and sources for the study of King John.

I feel this is a thorough examination of King John. Morris illustrates John’s life and show him to be a man who was harsh, vindictive, a liar, oppressive, and a sexual predator. However, John is known in at least one positive light because of the Magna Carta.

King John on a stag hunt.

(Review) Drake: Tudor Corsair, The Elizabethan Series Book 1 by Tony Riches

Publisher and Publication Date: Preseli Press Ltd. August 5, 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction. British history. Elizabethan era. Sea adventure.
Pages: 344.
Source: I received a complimentary eBook copy from Tony Riches, I was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction who love sea adventure.
Rating: Very good.

To read other reviews:
The Coffee Pot Book Club
Candlelight Reading
Historical Fiction Blog
Zoe’s Art, Craft, and Life
A Darn Good Read
Gwendalyn Books

Links to purchase the book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Goodreads link

Further links of interest:
Elizabethan Era
Elizabeth an England Life
Britannica-Francis Drake
Historic-uk.com-Francis Drake

Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the history of the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. Tony’s other published historical fiction novels include: Owen – Book One Of The Tudor Trilogy, Jasper – Book Two Of The Tudor Trilogy, Henry – Book Three Of The Tudor Trilogy, Mary – Tudor Princess, Brandon – Tudor Knight and The Secret Diary Of Eleanor Cobham. For more information about Tony’s books please visit his website tonyriches.com and his blog, The Writing Desk and find him on  Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches

Sir Francis Drake (1540-43 to 1596)

Summary:
1564 
Devon sailor Francis Drake sets out on a journey of adventure. Drake learns of routes used to transport Spanish silver and gold, and risks his life in an audacious plan to steal a fortune.
Queen Elizabeth is intrigued by Drake and secretly encourages his piracy. Her unlikely champion becomes a national hero, sailing around the world in the Golden Hind and attacking the Spanish fleet.
King Philip of Spain has enough of Drake’s plunder and orders an armada to threaten the future of England.

My Thoughts:
I love sea adventure stories and this is my favorite aspect of Drake: Tudor Corsair. As a young man, Francis Drake had piloted ships to safe harbor, but he had the ambition to sail the ocean. He began working for the privateer, seaman, and slave trader John Hawkins. Most of the story is in preparing the ship for a journey, sailing the ocean, and skirmishes with the Spanish and Portuguese. The actual day to day duties on a ship is not described in-depth as I’d liked. However, I understand better the English ambition for gold and silver made in the slave trade. I understand better the terrible conditions for the African people who were caught, transported to another land, and sold. The story shows a glimpse of uncomfortableness Drake felt about the slave trade, but it did not stop his activities.
I’ve read a little about Sir Francis Drake. I feel Drake: Tudor Corsair has characterized Drake as a likable person. A person who is heroic. He did have strong accomplishments. For example, he was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the earth. I have to remember, and other readers must remember, this is a historical period where many saw wealth as more important than human life. The African’s lives were expendable. It is difficult for me to wrap-my-mind around “that” type of thinking, but this is history, they lived differently than we do.
The personal life of Drake is shared in the story. I wonder if a fictional account of Drake’s first wife is possible? Her story is enticing and I wonder how she felt about his long absences? What did she know about his travels? How did she feel about how he made his wealth?
One of my favorite scenes in the story is when Drake met Queen Elizabeth. His description and impression of her is priceless.
Over-all this is a splendid story. I feel it gave me a solid education of what life at sea was like in the mid to late 1500s.

(Review) Our Tempestuous Day: A History of Regency England by Carolly Erickson

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Publisher and Publication Date: HarperCollins. 1986. First Harper paperback 2011.
Genre: Nonfiction. British history. Regency Period.
Pages: 304.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of British history or Regency Period history.
Rating: Okay-good.

Amazon link 

Links of interest on George III:
Britannica on George III
History.com on George III
Royal.uk on George III
Biography.com on George III

800px-Allan_Ramsay_-_King_George_III_in_coronation_robes_-_Google_Art_Project
George III

Links of interest on George IV:
Royal.uk on George IV
Britannica on George IV

800px-George_IV_1821_color
George IV

Summary:
The Regency period covers the years 1810 to 1820.
George III was born in 1738 and died in 1820.
King George III was the monarch of Great Britain and Ireland from 1760 to 1820. He had a mental illness that made him incapable of ruling during the last ten years. His son, the future George IV, became regent in 1811 and until his father’s death in 1820.
George IV reigned as monarch only ten years until his death in 1830.

Our Tempestuous Day focuses on George III and George IV. Other historical figures: Lord Byron, the Duke of Wellington, Caroline Lamb, Jane Austen, and Princess Charlotte are included.
The author uses characters to share what life was like during this time period, but these are people who are (mainly) in the upper part of society, not the common people.

My Thoughts:
I’ve struggled with whether to give this book an okay or good rating. I’ve toggled back and forth until I’ve decided to stay at okay-good.
The deciding factor for me in this rating is I wanted to read about the common people. The people closer to those in the Jane Austen’s stories. Chapter 18 finally answered some of my interests with how children were treated: stories of the “climbing boys,” child abandonment, street gangs, and prostitution.
However, the book is interesting in regards to how the two George monarchs lived. The opulence of George IV, and his tumultuous marriage and inappropriate treatment of the unloved wife.
Lord Byron is a character I knew a little about before reading this book. He was a scoundrel and didn’t care. You’ve heard the term, “love them and leave them.” I wouldn’t say he loved anyone but himself. He did leave them, that was a certainty.
Over-all, Our Tempestuous Day is a starting point for reading about the Regency Period.

(Review) A King Under Siege: Book One of the Plantagenet Legacy by Mercedes Rochelle

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Publisher and Publication Date: Sergeant Press. January 5, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction, British history, medieval, Richard II, biographical.
Pages: 310.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy from the author, but was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of medieval, British history, kings of England, and historical fiction.
Rating: Excellent.

The Plantagenet Legacy (Book 1)

Landing page for the book tour: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Amazon link 
Available in paperback, audio, and Kindle. The Kindle unlimited is 0.

2019 B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

Further links of interest:
Britannica-Richard II
Medieval Chronicles-Richard II-be careful with the clickbait
Archives.history-Richard II
The Freelance History Writer-Anne of Bohemia
The Freelance History Writer-Isabella of Valois

03_Mercedes Rochelle Author
About the Author:

Born and raised in St. Louis MO, Mercedes Rochelle graduated with a degree in English literature from the University of Missouri. Mercedes learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. A move to New York to do research and two careers ensued, but writing fiction remains her primary vocation. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.
Goodreads page for Mercedes Rochelle. In addition, webpage, Facebook, 

Summary: 
Richard II found himself under siege not once, but twice in his minority. Crowned king at age ten, he was only fourteen when the Peasants’ Revolt terrorized London. But he proved himself every bit the Plantagenet successor, facing Wat Tyler and the rebels when all seemed lost. Alas, his triumph was short-lived, and for the next ten years he struggled to assert himself against his uncles and increasingly hostile nobles. Just like in the days of his great-grandfather Edward II, vengeful magnates strove to separate him from his friends and advisors, and even threatened to depose him if he refused to do their bidding. The Lords Appellant, as they came to be known, purged the royal household with the help of the Merciless Parliament. They murdered his closest allies, leaving the King alone and defenseless. He would never forget his humiliation at the hands of his subjects. Richard’s inability to protect his adherents would haunt him for the rest of his life, and he vowed that next time, retribution would be his.

“This story is rich in historical detail. It has so obviously been meticulously researched. I cannot but commend Rochelle for this exceptional work of scholarship. A King Under Siege: Book One of The Plantagenet Legacy is one of those books that once started is impossible to put down. This book is filled with non-stop action. There are enough plots and conspiracies to satisfy any lover of historical fiction. This is storytelling at its very best.” Mary Anne Yarde from Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots Blog

Richard_II_King_of_England

Richard II (1367-1400)

My Thoughts:
When the book begins Richard II is a teenage boy. He was not yet the age when he was able to reign without the regency council. He’d come to the throne at age 10. In A King Under Siege, I was shown Richard’s feelings of inadequacy because of his age. He has a loneliness and a yearning for someone to understand and be loyal to him. His reign showed me the difficulties of trying to please his subjects, both the common and wealthy classes. Richard’s early success during the Peasant’s Revolt was short lived, he later suffered a deep humiliation, and he wanted to show himself a strong and capable leader. I was shown his role as king but also Richard’s character. The person he was. He was a complex character.
A King Under Siege is a compelling read because of Richard II’s climactic early years of reign.
The story is strong in dialogue-conversations between the various nobility. For example: Robert de Vere, Michael de la Pole, Thomas Mowbray, Henry of Bolingbroke, and John of Gaunt. Each of these men have strong stories that reflect their own aggressive ambitions.
At times while reading A King Under Siege, I imagined a game of chess. It’s a game of strategy. The players in this true historical period were each a strategist. They looked for weakness and opportunities to gain power over the opponent.
I saw Richard’s feelings from the first about his cousin, Henry of Bolingbroke. These glimpses will lead to a change in monarchy later. I imagined a curtain drawn back to reveal just a brief glimpse of the future. Richard does have something to be envious about, and this makes me anxious to read book two!

Giveaway: This blog doesn’t host giveaways. At the end of this review is a link for the giveaway. 
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