Book Chat

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This month’s book reviews:

to die for boleyn byrdI love the medieval period, and by extension, the Tudor period. I was blessed to receive a Lilly Endowment grant years back, which I spent researching the period in Jolly Ole England itself. Then a few years later, I got a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to study the wives of Henry VIII. Pure bliss! (Do you know how English children remember what happened to Henry’s wives? divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived).

Which of those fates befell wife Anne Boleyn? That’s the topic of To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn.

I really enjoyed this book. I’ve read a lot about Anne, but this historical fiction was a fresh take. It’s written from the perspective of Boleyn’s best friend, Meg. Many historical details are included which reinforce things I had already learned. The books moves along quickly to its final, grisly (oops, is that a spoiler?) end. There is a slight Christian angle to the book as well, which I wasn’t expecting, but enjoyed.



thunder dogThunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero is the tale of a blind man, Michael Hingson, and his guide dog, Roselle, who make it out of one of the World Trade Center towers after the plane struck their building on 9/11.

It sounded like a compelling book, and with a dog to boot? What’s not to like?

This was a good book overall, but I felt it was a bit of false advertising. From the cover, I assumed that it was a story focused on 9/11 and the dog. Since it was published by Thomas Nelson, I expected it to be a Christian book as well.

The 9/11 story is told, but each chapter features a few pages of the 9/11 drama and then segues into stories about Hingson’s youth, or about the history of technology for the blind, or rights of the blind, etc. I am in awe of all that Hingson has accomplished while blind (driving a car, flying a plane — no, I’m not making this up!), and I understand his passion for increased rights for the blind. However, I didn’t find this information to be very compelling, and I often skipped over these portions.

The Christian portion of the book consisted of just a few pages where Hingson recounts praying during his exit from the tower. He may just be reticent to discuss his faith; that’s fine, but as a Christian-published book I just expected a little more.

I give the book an A for the 9/11, Roselle portions, C elsewhere. I was sorry to read online that Roselle died at the end of June, just as the book was coming out.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson’s BookSneeze program for the opportunity to review this book.


13 thoughts on “Book Chat

  1. To Die For sounds absolutely fascinating–and I love how English schoolchildren learn the fates of Henry VIII’s wives. (Now if I could just remember all of the wives and in order…)

  2. I would have devoured the horse book at that age!! The dog book would have made a nice gift to a friend if not for what you pointed out! Darn.

    Now, about that GRANT you got to study Tudor England! Wow! Just Wow. Lucky!!!!!! Great post!

  3. It was great to see Isabel has contributed about a book she’s enjoyed. Caroline and Sophie, let’s hear from you as well.

  4. I just finished reading Robinson Crusoe for the first time. Why did no one ever tell me what a good book that is? A few too many cannibals, perhaps, but an exciting adventure/survival tale with a Christian message too.

  5. Thunder Dog does sound like it has a misleading subtitle. Bummer! It still sounds interesting, though.

    Happy September reading!

  6. I just put To Die For on hold at the library. It is nice to know I shouldn’t be disappointed!

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