Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Review: To Die For by Sandra Byrd @TudorTidbits #ToDieForVirtualBookTour

To Die For: A Novel of Anne BoleynTo Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Sandra Byrd
Publisher: Howard Books
Publish Date: August 9, 2011
Paperback, 352 pages 
Fiction, Historical, Christian
 ISBN: 978-1439183113

My Review:
My thoughts:  I was really looking forward to reading To Die For, although I'm not a huge history buff nor do I have a great interest in Anne Boleyn.  But I did have a curiosity about her story and this fiction account sounded very interesting to me so I jumped at the chance to be a part of the tour.  And my tour stop came at the right time.  Right after Hurricane Irene went right over us (yes I walked around outside in the eye of the storm) and the storm passed and we made sure all that were near and dear to us were okay, it was the next day.  Yes we spent 24-hours pretty much in the hurricane.  It was rough, but we were pretty blessed.  On Sunday we woke up to sparkling blue skies, a messy yard and no power.  Perfect time to read.  So I dove right into To Die For with little to no interruption and I'm glad there were no interruptions because this is a book that is hard to put down.

From the first page you are introduced to Meg and Anne, friends from childhood they are bound together and pledge to do all together.  As Anne goes off to serve in court and Meg suffers at home, Anne finds a way to get Meg to court with her and eventually Meg becomes wrapped up in the intrigue of being at court.  That was one of the things I loved about the book.  It had history, romance, religion and lots of intrigue. I never quite knew what would happen next.

As the story advances and Anne moves forward to become Henry's wife, we see a different side of Anne than the one that is typically seen in the history books or played out in the media.  And who knows whether Ms. Byrd is far off or not.  There really are two sides to every story and this definitely would not be the first time history has gotten it wrong.  Either way, fact or fiction, it lends itself to an excellent story.  One that feels real and makes the reader really feel for Anne and for Meg and feel that Anne truly got in over her head.  To see how, read the book.

But there is even more layers to the book than that.  This is not a simple story by any means.  I am still thinking about the story and the characters.  I especially liked Meg who I really feel is the main character.  She is the servant in a way to Anne, but Anne most of the time always treats her as an equal and Meg's loyalty is unwavering.  It's amazing to witness.  The friendship between them is amazing.  Meg's character is stellar and Ms. Byrd does an excellent job creating the characters in this book, from the frivolous to the important from the evil to the truly pure at heart, they all are woven beautifully into the story.

To Die For is truly an amazing story.  It tops my rating scale.  At this time it is the best book I have read this year and I look forward to more books Ms. Byrd has to offer in this genre.  I feel her research was wonderful and her storytelling is natural and with this winning combination, To Die For is just a novel you must read.

My Rating: 5.0+/5.0

About the Book:
To Die For, is the story of Meg Wyatt, pledged forever as the best friend to Anne Boleyn since their childhoods on neighboring manors in Kent. When Anne’s star begins to ascend, of course she takes her best friend Meg along for the ride. Life in the court of Henry VIII is thrilling at first, but as Anne’s favor rises and falls, so does Meg’s. And though she’s pledged her loyalty to Anne no matter what the test, Meg just might lose her greatest love—and her own life—because of it.

Meg's childhood flirtation with a boy on a neighboring estate turns to true love early on. When he is called to follow the Lord and be a priest she turns her back on both the man and his God. Slowly, though, both woo her back through the heady times of the English reformation. In the midst of it, Meg finds her place in history, her own calling to the Lord that she must follow, too, with consequences of her own. Each character in the book is tested to figure out what love really means, and what, in this life, is worth dying for.

Though much of Meg’s story is fictionalized, it is drawn from known facts. The Wyatt family and the Boleyn family were neighbors and friends, and perhaps even distant cousins. Meg’s brother, Thomas Wyatt, wooed Anne Boleyn and ultimately came very close to the axe blade for it. Two Wyatt sisters attended Anne at her death, and at her death, she gave one of them her jeweled prayer book—Meg.

About the Author: 
Sandra Byrd has published a number of books in the Christian YA market but is now making her debut in adult historical fiction. She also previously published a contemporary women's series, French Twist, which includes the Christy finalist Let Them Eat Cake (2007) and its sequels, Bon AppÉtit (2008) and Piece de Resistance (2009).


FTC Information: I received this book through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.