The Lineup: Ashley

Ashley’s Lineup

Podcast: Not Just the Tudors with Suzannah Lipscomb

I am a huge history nerd.  I love to read, see, watch and listen to anything historical especially if it pertains to the Tudors.  Recently one of my favorite historians started her own podcast called, Not Just the Tudors, which covers all sorts of history during the sixteenth century.  I have learned a lot while listening, such as about the teenage werewolf, the story of beards, and the witches of Lorraine.  Most episodes are 30-60 minutes which make for a quick little dip into the sixteenth century from the comfort of your home.

Find it here or where you normally download your podcasts.

2. Television show: Expedition Unknown with Josh Gates

As I said above, I love to learn about history.  This adventure show looks into some of the world’s most fascinating and enduring legends and mysteries.  The host, Josh Gates, travels the world meeting with experts and locals to uncover why these legends still fascinate people today.  His corny “dad jokes” and willingness to do just about anything makes for a fun watch.  I recently binge watched it while babysitting my nephew.  And now my parents and I are addicted to the show and watch it together every week.

Find it on Discovery Channel or the Discovery+ app.

3. Magazine: Discover Britain

I have been to England 3 times (in 2006, 2007 and 2011).  Each time has been wonderful!  I love the country, the history and even the food.  Even with all three trips there is still so much I have not seen in this gorgeous country.  My cousin and I have been planning to travel to London and Edinburgh but it had to be pushed back due to COVID.  But we are hopeful that this next spring we will finally be able to travel.  This magazine has been helping feed my wanderlust.  It features different sites to see, events to attend and some of the history around Britain.  If you miss traveling as much as I do then I would recommend you check it out plus many other travel magazines available on Libby.

Find it on Sunflower eLibrary or on the Libby app.

4. Class: Petco dog training with Riley H.

This summer I was able to have my dachshund puppy, Dudley, come live with me.  As with many dachshunds they are stubborn little barkers.  And Dudley is no different.  But in the future I would like to be able to take him on road trips or visit friends without having to deal with too many behavioral problems.  Thus, I signed him up for training classes at Derby Petco with Riley H.  The first class was very scary for him but he has already made tons of progress.  He has learned lot of new tricks like sit, lay down, stay and leave it.  Riley has been very patient with him.  I would highly recommend her and the classes.  There are different levels.  Dudley is nearly done with session one and will start session two this fall!

Find out more about their classes at Petco.com.

5. Planning Tools: Microsoft OneNote

Recently I found a new tool to help organize and plan my trip to the UK.  It is called OneNote.  It is a Microsoft program that allows a person to divide up things into different sections and pages.  I have broken my trip into different categories like location, flights, hotels, and budgets.  But then under each category I can have more pages with more individualized information.  I put links, photos, and charts that give me a more detailed view of my trip.  I like to show people that this is my “beautiful mind”.  I have several itineraries, places we should visit, and restaurants to try.  Plus, it has been a life saver during COVID.  I have felt like I am doing something to plan my trip even though I cannot plan my trip yet.  If you have access to OneNote I would recommend checking it out.  It seems like a very useful tool for many different things. 

Find out more about OneNote by checking out our database, Learning Express, where you can watch tutorials on using the application.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Katharine Parr, the Sixth Wife

Katharine Parr, the Sixth Wife by Alison Weir

First line: Katharine was five when death cast its black shadow over her life.

Summary: Katharine Parr, the sixth and final wife of King Henry VIII of England, grew up as a simple country gentry but she made several advantageous marriages. However, each husband died early leaving her a widow and childless. Then when she meets the handsome brother to the late queen, Jane Seymour, she believes she has found the love of her life.

But fate has different plans. Katharine catches the eye of the King of England. With the hopes of swaying the king towards the new faith, Katharine accepts his proposal. With her marriage comes the enmity of the Catholic faction at court. Bishop Gardiner and his men are determined to bring down Henry’s new queen.

My Thoughts: I liked this book. I liked how we got a look into Katharine’s early life. Many of the books about her center around her time as queen and afterwards but very little on her first two marriages. I enjoyed learning a little more about her time before the throne and how she became a strong proponent of the new religion, Protestantism.

Katharine is one of my least favorite queens. Her story is not very exciting and centers around religion a lot. She did much for the reformists in the court and even became the first woman to publish a book under her own name in English. It is quite an achievement. Alison Weir did a great job giving all the queens in her series a new life and bringing more of their stories to readers. I will be anticipating her next collection of books.

FYI: This is book six in the Six Tudor Queens series.

Dylan’s Book Recommendation: The True Jesus

The True Jesus by David Limbaugh

First line: In my last book, ​The Emmaus Code, ​I detailed how each of the Old Testament books points to Jesus Christ.

Summary: David Limbaugh historically examines Jesus Christ, and the historical authenticity of all of the evidence about the teachings, birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through anon-biased, purely evidence based assembly of writings.

Thoughts: As a skeptic towards everything, I need to question everything. Through this work of nonfiction, my skepticism of Jesus Christ has been removed. There is too much historical evidence to logically deny that Jesus lived, died, and literally came back from the dead. If you are struggling with your faith, turn faith into a knowing with this collection of evidence, and see for yourself the true Jesus Christ.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Queens of the Crusades

Queens of the Crusades by Alison Weir

First line: On Sunday, 19 December 1154, Henry II, the first Plantagenet King of England, was crowned in Westminster Abbey, along with his Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, amidst great splendor and rejoicing.

Summary: In the second installment of Alison Weir’s histories of the queens of England is Queens of the Crusades. It covers Eleanor of Aquitaine, Berengaria of Navarre, Isabella of Angouleme, Alienor of Provence and Eleanor of Castile spanning their lives over several centuries. These women lived in an age when they were expected to be humble and pious. But the queens of this time held power over their lands and income that drew the ire of their male subjects giving several of them tarnished reputations that Weir tries to dissolve.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed learning about these remarkable women. I love Eleanor of Aquitaine. She is one of my favorite queens of England. She lived for such a long time and was queen of France and England as well as duchess of Aquitaine. I was very excited to learn more about her daughter-in-law, Berengaria. She is glossed over so much in fiction since she was queen for such a short time and did not do much to gain prominence in England.

I like that Weir takes into account how often names are reused for different people that she tries to vary the spellings in order to keep them straight for the reader. I knew nothing about the queens after Eleanor. The amount of wealth these women had and spent is astounding. I love to see what the conversions are because it is so shocking.

Having visited England several times I have been to some of the places listed such as Westminster Abbey. I knew many of the tombs there but now I will need to find the ones for these medieval queens on my next visit.

FYI: Second installment of a four part series. Part one was Queens of the Conquest.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Clanlands

Clanlands by Sam Heughan & Graham McTavish

First line: Well, in The Beginning…there was a man in a kilt.

Summary: Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish, stars of the widely popular TV show Outlander set out on a trip around the Highlands of Scotland exploring the history, culture and landscape of this beautiful countryside. In their camper van they traverse the roads, lochs and pubs while sampling whiskey and traditional foods of the Highlanders.

My Thoughts: I highly recommend checking out the audiobook on CloudLibrary because I feel that this is what made the book much more interesting. Sam and Graham narrate the book. They recount times on set and with fellow cast members. They goof around and make fun of each other. I could tell that they really enjoy each other’s company and are good friends.

I learned a lot about the history of Scotland while reading this. As I listened I looked up the locations and people mentioned. It is astounding that there are homes older than our country. I could tell how proud they are to be Scottish.

I have always wanted to visit Scotland but I want to go even more after reading/watching Outlander. The land is beautiful and wild. The culture is rich and enduring. Much of my genealogy comes from Scotland. I want to experience the world my ancestors knew.

FYI: Find the audio book on CloudLibrary.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Queens of the Conquest

Queens of the Conquest by Alison Weir

First line: Imagine a land centuries before industrialization, a rural, green land of vast royal forests and open fields, wild moorlands and undrained marshlands, with scattered villages overshadowed by towering castles, and small, bustling walled towns.

Summary: In the first of a four book set, Alison Weir looks at the lives of the first five queens of England after the Norman conquest: Matilda of Flanders, Matilda of Scotland, Adeliza of Louvain, Matilda of Boulogne and the Empress Matilda. Each woman made their mark on the early part of English history through their good works, descendants and political maneuvers.

My Thoughts: I love to read nonfiction and biographies most of all. They tell so much about a person’s life but also about the time period. And this one was particularly fascinating. These women lived almost one thousand years ago but we know quite a lot about who they were, where they were at certain times and what they did. Some of the queens even left behind letters, their personal seals and elaborate tombs for historians and lovers of history to see.

I was not very familiar with these early queens so I learned a lot from reading Weir’s book. The fact that 4 of the 5 queens were named Matilda made the reading a little bit confusing but the author tried to make sure she differentiated between them either with their titles or other names they went my such as Maud. Life during these years was very hard and life was short but these women accomplished a lot during their time. And that so many of them spent such a short amount of time in England is shocking. They helped rule over several duchies in France and had to split their times between each country.

If you are looking for a great insight into medieval England then I would highly recommend picking this book up. It is a big book and very dense but filled with lots of information and several pictures are included in the middle too.

FYI: The next book, Queens of the Crusades, will be out on February 23, 2021.

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Five

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

First line: There are two versions of the events of 1887. One is very well known, but the other is not.

Summary: Everyone has heard the story of Jack the Ripper. He haunted the streets of Whitechapel preying on women. His victims known as the canonical five are Polly, Annie, Elisabeth, Catherine and Mary Jane. His story has been researched and turned over hundreds of times but very little is actually known about the women whose lives he took. Here are their stories.

My Thoughts: I have recommended this book to anyone and everyone! I was completely engrossed in it. It is thoroughly researched and well written. It reads like fiction and is easy to get caught up in these women’s lives. I found myself hoping for better outcomes as I read even though I knew how each of their stories was a going to end.

Rubenhold brings these women and the times that they lived to the forefront. Everyone thinks that they know the victims. They were prostitutes right? Wrong. Some were but not all five. Each has a story to tell. I could not believe the detail put into their narratives. Using housing records, census, interviews and newspaper reports we get fuller picture of their lives.

Sometimes we romanticize the Victorian time period but it was anything but ideal. People were barely able to care for their families. Housing was not always safe or healthy. Disease, alcoholism and poverty were prevalent. How people survived is astounding.

If you love history, true crime or biographies than this is perfect for you. It is full of information that will keep you reading until the very end.

FYI: There is very little mentioned about Jack the Ripper. This book focuses on the women only and the time that they lived.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Mudlark

Mudlark by Lara Maiklem

First line: It is hot and airless on the 7.42 from Greenwich to Cannon Street.

Summary: Mudlarker Lara Maiklem spends hours walking miles along the riverbank of the Thames in London. In her wanderings she finds little trinkets that give us a look into the English past. She has found items ranging from the Romans to modern day trash.

My Thoughts: I absolutely devoured this book. I first heard about it on a podcast, Talking Tudors, hosted by Natalie Grueninger. In one of her recent releases she talked with Lara about her upcoming book and the Tudor related finds she has discovered in the mud of the river. Immediately after listening to it I had to find a copy to read. Thank goodness Netgalley had it available.

I really enjoyed how the author laid out the book. She started at one end of the Thames and worked her way to the sea. As she described her finds she also delved into her past, experiences on the foreshore and other mudlarks and their finds. I loved learning about the items she found. I was constantly on the internet looking for pictures of these items and reading more history behind them. I am really jealous of the items she has in her curio cabinet. I am seriously thinking about getting a day pass to mudlark the next time I am in London. Or can I mudlark in Kansas?

FYI: Lara Maiklem is on Facebook and Instagram. If you want to see her finds and hear more about mudlarking then check them out.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Mistress of the Ritz

Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin

First line: Blanche is dead.

Summary: Blanche Auzello, the wife of the Ritz hotel director, is living a beautiful life in Paris until June 1940 when the Nazis invade. They take over the grand hotel and life changes drastically. Life under the occupation becomes strained especially for Blanche who is hiding a secret that could potentially harm her and those she loves. However, she and her husband are determined to do what they can for France and the staff of the Ritz, even if it means their lives are forfeit.

My Thoughts: I am a big fan of Melanie Benjamin. Her novels are always very interesting and filled with fascinating women. I had never heard of Blanche or her husband before picking up this novel. It sounds like life in Paris was very tense during the occupation but not nearly as bad as I imagined it would be. It seems as if people continued to live life as normal as possible during those years.

Melanie Benjamin at Watermark books on May 28, 2019.

One of the issues I had with the story was that it seemed to almost center on her husband, Claude, rather than her. He references her often and thinks about her during his chapters but he almost takes over the narrative. And strangely I enjoyed his storyline more than hers. He could be a jerk but his story was more interesting except for when Blanche was with her friend, Lily.

FYI: Perfect for fans of Kate Quinn’s book, The Alice Network.

Book Review: Love & War

Love & War by Melissa de la Cruz

First line: Forget Paris.

Summary: As the Revolution is coming to a close Alexander Hamilton and his new bride, Eliza Schuyler, are learning that being married is not always easy. Alex is setting up his law offices and Eliza is establishing their home. The long hours at the office defending Loyalist clients puts a strain on the young couple. Will they be able to continue their love story or will it crumble?

Highlights: I enjoyed the story of their early marriage. De la Cruz does a good job of portraying how hard it would be to try to find a balance in this new country. I particularly liked the struggle of a young patriot having to defend the wife of a Loyalist. He must have faced lots of ridicule from other members of his party.

Lowlights: This is young adult and it feels like it. The love and feelings are very immature. However, it does as good job of bringing the history to a young audience.

FYI: Book 2 in the Alex & Eliza series.