Thursday, April 27, 2017

First Line Friday: Thomas Becket Edition

Okay, so sue me, in a not-so-roundabout way this post is ALSO an 'Eleanor Edition'. While I am still in the early chapters of my own book, concerning Eleanor's early life and journey to Paris, Thomas Becket would be a key figure in her life later on.

This week my first line is from this gem:


And I highly recommend the book. It is FANTASTIC.

"Archbishop Thomas Becket, who for four centuries after his gruesome murder in Canterbury Cathedral would be nicknamed 'lux Londoniarum' (the light of the Londoners), was the only surviving son of Gilbert and Matilda Becket, born very probably when the wreck of the White Ship was still the hottest news in town."

For those unfamiliar with the White Ship and the havoc it played on England in the ensuing years, a recap: Henry I (son of William the Bastard/Conqueror) lost his heir Prince William when the White Ship sank on November 25th, 1120. Only one man survived of an estimated 350 (crew and passengers). William likely would have survived, as he was launched out onto the water in a dinghy, but he returned to the wrecked ship to save a half-sister. That very decision, one that cost William his life as the dinghy was swamped, put Henry II - and Eleanor of Aquitaine - on the throne in 1154.

With William gone, Henry I had only one surviving, legitimate child, Matilda. Before his death, he repeatedly made his barons swear an oath of fealty to Matilda and protect her claim as rightful heir. One who swore that oath was Matilda's cousin Stephen, who might be an even worse king than Henry I's great grandson John. Naturally, Stephen stole the throne for himself with Matilda out of the country when her father died. A long, chaotic, brutal civil war followed and was finally put to an end when Stephen agreed for Matilda's son, Henry, to inherit the throne even over his own son Eustace. And thus, the Plantagenet dynasty was born.

Now, you might be wondering what all of that has to do with Thomas Becket. For that I say, please do read the book.

Leave me a comment on your own line this week, or your thoughts about some of my most and least favorite people in history. Then head over to the blogs of my fellow First Liners and see what they have waiting for you this week.

Rachel - Bookworm Mama

Lauraine - Lauraine's Notes

Andi - Radiant Light

Robin - Robin's Nest

Kathleen - Kathleen Denly

Jessica - A Baker's Perspective

And a very happy welcome to the newest participant Trisha at Joy of Reading!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

First Line Friday: Catherine Howard Edition

This week's line is from a phenomenal book I recently finished on the subject of Catherine Howard, the 5th woman unlucky enough to marry Henry VIII.


I am fully in awe of the amount of research that went into this one and consider this to be the new must-read in regards to the 5th queen. I may even refer to it as the bible of Catherine Howard. I appreciate when each queen (even the Concubine, Anne Boleyn) gets their fair look because each one of these women, from the first Catherine to the last, had an extremely difficult and unenviable task - keeping Henry happy. Most escaped with their lives, some barely, and others not, yet they all deserve to have their voices heard.

The line I chose this week is from Chapter 1: The Hour of Our Death (but is actually about Cromwell's execution, the day of Catherine and Henry's wedding).

"A benefit of being executed was that one avoided any chance of the dreaded mors improvisa, a sudden death by which a Christian soul might be denied the opportunity to make his peace."

Leave a comment letting me know what you think of my line, or leave a line of your own to share. Then visit the blogs of my fellow First-Liners and see what they have this week as well.

Rachel - Bookworm Mama

Lauraine - Lauraine's Notes

Andi - Radiant Light

Robin - Robin's Nest

Kathleen - Kathleen Denly

Happy Reading, Happy Friday!


Monday, April 17, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

This week's topic is:

April 18th: Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book 
Basically any topic or theme or ANYTHING (i.e. if X person recommends it) that will make you instantly want to pick up a book.

Oh dear. This might exceed ten. I will try my very best to stay near ten. No promises though. Given my love of non-fiction, this will be mostly by topic. Of course there are certain authors I will read no matter what, and certain topics where I want to read every book I can possibly get my hands on, no matter the viewpoint. I will also be posting books with each category and will try to limit myself to only two. Here are a few, in no particular order:

1. Eleanor of Aquitaine

This BAMF deserves her own category, apart from the Plantagenet Dynasty. Easily the most fascinating figure of the Middles Ages, what I would not give for a time machine (and the security of being able to return to 2017 with no problems).

My Recommendation:

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2. The Anglo-Saxons
I have seen articles recently suggesting that Alfred is not as 'Great' as once thought. Phooey. I don't think anyone believes the 'burning the rolls' story anymore, but he certainly kick-started, or helped further, the idea of education and reading, and left a solidly defend-able England for his grandson Aethelstan to unite. And I will be forever tormented by thoughts of 1066 what-ifs, had Harold survived Hastings, etc. But then we may not have had my next favorite topics...

My Recommendation:

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3. The Plantagenets
The ruling family of England for roughly 300 years. Definitely dysfunctional and definitely fun. Except for the murders and throne-stealing.

My recommendation:

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I have to stop there or I will seriously have a list 20 books long.

4. Roman Britain
Boudicca. Bouddicca. Boadicea. I could go on and on. However you want to spell it, she was another BAMF that we know even less about than Eleanor of Aquitaine. But I believe she existed and I believe that for a very short time, she was able to bring the Roman army in Britain to its knees. If only things had gone differently at the Battle of Watling Street (for lack of better title to give it), who knows what England might look like today.

My Recommendation:

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5. The Tudors
Dysfunction abounds in the dynasty after the Plantagenets too. Just as much blood and gore, if not more so just from Henry alone. He is of lesser interest to me than those around him though; the many Thomases, the women unfortunate enough to be married to him, and his children who would, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your view), fail to produce another Tudor generation.

My Recommendation:

17456975 20821029      27904523 690539

Much like with the Plantagenets, I have to stop here or this topic will be loooooong.

6. Queen Consorts of England (1509 - 1547)

It is really hard for me to refer to these women as 'Queens to Henry VIII'. They need to be allowed to stand on their own as real people, and not just considered by what is viewed as the greatest achievement in their lives - marrying a king. I am even willing to extend that to Anne Boleyn, and I can not stand that woman. I can however, recognize a good biography about her, which Eric Ives has written and I highly recommend. I also appreciate books dedicated to one queen, instead of lumping them all together in one book. I feel that each one deserves their own look. Yes, even Anne.

My Recommendation:

29139385 31086 7971464 29430787

I am still needing to get my hands on biographies of Anne of Cleves and Katherine Parr. There are a few on my TBR list but if you have recommendations I would love to hear them!

7. Gilded Age New York
...especially when about the big name families - the Rockefellers, Morgans, Vanderbilts, etc. Seeing 5th Avenue, lined with those gaudy mansions, would have been amazing. And some of them were actually quite beautiful. I wish they were still around!

My Recommendation:

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Another topic that threatened to get out of control!

8. Scottish History (up to 1603)
Pretty much the entire UK and its history is interesting. I still, however, like to acknowledge the fact that they are three different countries.

9. Irish History (up to 1603)
See above.

10. Anything by Dan Jones

I know, I know, I include him on lots of lists. But whatever, he is one of my favorites, his research is thorough, and he writes mainly about one of my favorite topics: the Plantagenets and medieval England.

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Have I already mentioned how psyched I am for his new book this fall about the Knights Templar? Yes? Oh well, here is another reminder: I. Can't. Wait.

11. Biblical NonFiction and Archaeology
I am forever reading the King James Version Bible and I enjoy finding non-fiction texts that discuss different aspects of the Bible and Christianity. Unfortunately, anymore it seems like the term Christian has been hijacked by the hard right here in the US, so I prefer simply saying I am a follower of Christ, so as to not be lumped in with those using and abusing His words (and words He did not say) for their own purposes. I love studying the Bible and appreciate books that help give me a deeper understanding of God's Word. I also enjoy texts relating to these places that existed so long ago and still exist today. It is a dream to see Jerusalem, though I would not feel entirely safe embarking on that journey at the present time with a three year old. I hope in the future we will be able to do so.

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Once again, stopping myself from posting my whole Goodreads shelf.

12. Fashion History
I am especially fond of the histories of the major fashion houses - Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Versace, etc. Someday I WILL own an LV traveling trunk and it will be amazing.


13. US Presidents
One of my reading goals here in 2017 is to read more about US Presidents - specifically those who are not named Washington, Lincoln, or Kennedy. it is nothing against those presidents, but just that I have already read SO MANY books about them. The Kennedy family might as well also have their own category, because I am endlessly fascinated by the creation and illusion of Camelot.

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Okay, this goal has been slow-going since I started writing my own book, but I am getting there. Sloooooooowly.

14. Titanic
What can I say? The 16 year old in me can never let go. But jokes aside, I am one of the many who will forever be fascinated and haunted by this tragic loss of life and man's arrogance in attempting to defeat nature. I was in Ireland in 2010 but we did not have time to get to Belfast and it was HEARTBREAKING! But it is another item on my bucket list, and a trip my little lady and I can take together some day.

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Ugh. I could have gone on way longer. And listed SO many more books for some of these categories. I think fourteen is as good a place as any to stop though. This was about to get seriously out of control. If you are also interested in any of these topics, I would love to hear your book-specific recommendations and/or share some of my own with you.

Happy Reading,

Thursday, April 13, 2017

First Line Friday: Jesus Edition!

Happy Friday! As it is Good Friday, I am super excited to share my first line this week. It is a book I have been reading every year for the last three, starting Palm Sunday and continuing through Holy Week to the following Sunday


What I love so much about it is that it is a day-by-day guide to Holy Week, complete with applicable chapters from all four books for each day, Sunday through Sunday. Everything is arranged in chronological order as best we can know, as well as author commentary and bits of historical context, plus all kinds of charts and maps to aid you. There are also some excellent footnotes that the author includes, which I greatly appreciated. I will continue to read this every year, as long as I am able. It is a wonderful guide. While these are stories many know so well, it is kind of a comfort as much as anything else, to read and reread each year.

I am taking my line - oh who am I kidding, my PARAGRAPH - from the brief section entitled "Early in the Week: The King Comes For His Kingdom: Sunday-Tuesday". It briefly describes Jesus' movements in the week leading up to Palm Sunday.

"The year was AD 33. The excitement in the cool spring air of Jerusalem was palpable. Thousands of Jewish pilgrims had gathered from around the world for the upcoming Passover feast, and word had spread that Jesus - a thirty-something itinerant rabbi, prophet, and healer from Galilee - had raised Lazarus from the dead, had withdrawn from Bethany - a village just a couple miles east of Jerusalem - to a town called Ephraim in the wilderness (John 11:54), and was staying at Bethany during the weekend prior to Passover (John 11:55-12:9-11, 17-18)." 

Leave a comment letting me know what you think of my line, or leave a line of your own to share. Then visit the blogs of my fellow First-Liners and see what they have this week as well.

Rachel - Bookworm Mama

Lauraine - Lauraine's Notes

Andi - Radiant Light

Robin - Robin's Nest

Kathleen - Kathleen Denly

Happy Reading, Happy Friday, Happy Easter!