This was a really sweet story that I quite enjoyed. One thing about historicals set in this time period is that there are so very many people to keep...moreThis was a really sweet story that I quite enjoyed. One thing about historicals set in this time period is that there are so very many people to keep track of. It seems that everyone is cousins with everyone else, and honestly I have no idea who is who. So I am quite impressed with authors like Sandra Byrd who can keep track of it all. And not only that, can weave an entertaining story while doing it.
I really liked the character of Helena, and like that these stories are not told from the point of view of the famous queens. There are enough stories like that, I think, so it's refreshing to read books by lesser known historical figures, while still being during these well known time periods.
Sandra Byrd writes well, and makes me want to find out more about the Tudor time period. She is very passionate about it, and it comes out in her writing. I would recommend this book, and the first two in this series to fans of historical fiction, for sure. (less)
I feel like maybe I read a different book than everyone else who just adored this one. I didn't care for it at all. It was way, way too long for one t...moreI feel like maybe I read a different book than everyone else who just adored this one. I didn't care for it at all. It was way, way too long for one thing. Could have been shortened by at least 500 pages, and probably been much improved. But even then, I didn't really like the writing style, so while I may have liked it slightly better if it was shorter, it still isn't for me.(less)
I don't read a whole lot of historical fiction. It's not that I don't like the genre, it's just that I prefer the fantasy world a little more. But San...moreI don't read a whole lot of historical fiction. It's not that I don't like the genre, it's just that I prefer the fantasy world a little more. But Sandra Byrd is one of my favorite authors, and someone I consider a friend, so regardless of the genre, I will happily read whatever she writes. With that said, you can bet that I'll probably be a little biased in my opinion of her books. But I think she's a wonderful writer, and that's what caused me to seek her out (on Facebook and such) in the first place.
So, on to The Secret Keeper. I'll be honest, it took me a little bit of time to get into this book. It seemed there were so many characters, and I couldn't keep them straight. I had no idea who was who, and I wasn't connecting with the main character.
But somewhere along the way I got sucked in. I really started to care about what happened to Kateryn Parr, and to Juliana. Which, as you know if you're familiar with the time period, isn't always a good thing. Women didn't seem to have it so great during the time of Henry VIII. Especially queens. It can all get a little depressing. For all the beauty and grandeur, I certainly don't envy any of these women. Give me my calm, peaceful, even boring life any day.
One thing I do like about historical fiction, and that Sandra Byrd does really well, is that it makes me interested in the time period. I'm not a history buff by any means, but when I read these books I want to know more. And I am always quite impressed with the authors and the research that must go into writing books like this. The Secret Keeper delves into a bit of history that I really knew nothing about, and makes it interesting and entertaining.
The religion was woven throughout the book in such a way as to not be obtrusive or heavy-handed. It seemed a natural part of the story, and was appropriate for the setting and time. I would definitely call it Christian fiction, but not fiction that would turn off anyone who isn't religious.
By the end of this one, I was so hoping for a happy ending for someone. You'll have to read it yourself to see if I got my wish. I would very much recommend this book to historical fiction readers and lovers of Christian fiction. (less)
To Die For is the first book in the new Ladies in Waiting series by Sandra Byrd. I don't usually read a lot of historical fiction. I generally like to...moreTo Die For is the first book in the new Ladies in Waiting series by Sandra Byrd. I don't usually read a lot of historical fiction. I generally like to stick with the pretend stuff, like you'll find in speculative fiction. But Sandra Byrd is one of my favorite authors, and I love her novels (I haven't read her YA books, so I can't comment on those, but I adore her adult novels). Before I get to anything else, though, can I just take a minute to point out how gorgeous this cover is? It's definitely pretty enough to frame.
I admit, I'm not the most well-versed person on the Tudor period. An author probably could put whatever they wanted in there and I wouldn't know the difference. So for the authenticity of the story, I really can't comment. Except to say that according to Sandra Byrd's author note in the back of the book, she did a lot of research. She didn't just start writing all willy nilly.
I enjoyed reading from the viewpoint of someone who wasn't so front and center in the Tudor court. Sometimes a novel told in first person can really make me annoyed with the main character, and I think had the story been told from Anne Boleyn's point of view, that may have happened. But Meg was such a likable character. She was honest with herself and others, and was loyal, almost to a fault. But she wasn't one of those characters that was too perfect either. I was really rooting for her.
Reading from the point of view of someone who was good friends with and so close to Anne Boleyn definitely made Anne's character more sympathetic. We're hearing the story from her closest friend instead of one of her many enemies. I grew to really love Anne, and although I knew what was coming at the end (I do know some history), I was still very sad. I might have cried a little.
To Die For takes a period of history that we are all familiar with to some degree, and makes the people real. I felt like I connected with the characters in a way that I haven't been able to in the past with historical fiction. Sandra Byrd is a Christian writer, and while there is religion in this book (which is to be expected for the time period as well), it's never preachy. That's one thing I've really enjoyed about her books. I've never felt preached to or lectured as with some Christian fiction.
This is a wonderful historical fiction novel and I can honestly say that I loved it. I will be anxiously awaiting the next book in the series, which is due in 2012. If you love historical fiction, the Tudor period, or just a really good story, get your hands on this book! (Release date is August 9th)(less)
Pacing was incredibly uneven, the plot points had me rolling my eyes at times, and it was at least 200 pages too long. There were, however, some excit...morePacing was incredibly uneven, the plot points had me rolling my eyes at times, and it was at least 200 pages too long. There were, however, some exciting parts that kept me turning pages, so it wasn't all bad.(less)
You know how sometimes you're in the mood for a fast-paced, edge of your seat novel, and sometimes you want something a little quieter--a little more...moreYou know how sometimes you're in the mood for a fast-paced, edge of your seat novel, and sometimes you want something a little quieter--a little more reflective? Here Burns My Candle is the latter. It deals a lot with character growth, and that's really the meat of the story.
There was a smattering of Scottish words throughout (with a glossary in the back, in case you have trouble figuring out what the words mean), and to be honest, that's not really my thing. It distracts me and pulls me out of the story. But I've read other reviews where the readers felt that it added to the story, so it's definitely a personal preference thing.
The religion in this one isn't overwhelming, and I think the book could be enjoyed by a person who is not religious. On the other hand, I think a religious person would really enjoy what religion IS in there. The story is somewhat of a retelling of Ruth and Naomi's story in the Bible. I guess the nice thing about this story is that it could be enjoyed by anyone, and different people will get different things out of it, as with any good book.
I would recommend this to fans of historical fiction and Christian fiction.
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.(less)