Author Archives: Sara | Novel Novice

Black Widow: Forever Red Writing Contest

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To celebrate our October Book of the Month, we want you to channel your inner Natasha Romanov & write your own Black Widow short story! Here’s the details on this month’s writing contest:

BW Forever Red HR coverThe Contest

In 250-500 words, write your own short story about Natasha Romanov, aka Black Widow … and it can be ANYTHING about her! A story from her past; one of her missions with the Avengers; from her early days with Shield; etc. Be imaginative — and just remember to stay true to the character.

Submit your 250-500 word piece using the Black Widow: Forever Red Writing Contest Entry Form here.

The Prize

One (1) winner will receive a signed copy of Black Widow: Forever Red from Margaret Stohl and a signed copy of her Red Widow: First Strike one-shot comic, in the Mockingbird S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary comic.

The Rules

  • One entry per person
  • Use the entry form
  • Use proper grammar & spelling
  • Entry must be between 250-500 words
  • U.S. only

The Deadline

All entries are due by midnight (PT) on Saturday, October 31st.

Questions? Leave ’em in the comments & we’ll reply!

Novel Novice Junior Book Review: The Fun Book of Scary Stuff by Emily Jenkins, illus. by Hyewon Yum

For today’s Novel Novice Junior picture book review, we have a fun new book that’s perfect for anyone who gets a little scared sometimes — especially as we get closer to Halloween!

fun book of scary stuffThe Fun Book of Scary Stuff by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Hyewon Yum features a young boy sharing all the things he’s scared of. As he lists off each thing (like witches, ghosts, and his cousin Jemima), his dog  scoffs at each fear — until eventually the boy finds something that scares even his dog — and proves that everyone can be a little brave (sometimes, anyway).

Despite the title, the book actually isn’t scary at all — but is a great way to address fears, both rational and irrational, with young readers. As the dog shows the little boy, everyone can be brave in the right circumstances. (And also — how many of your fears are for something real?)

With charming illustrations that bring the whole story to life, The Fun Book of Scary Stuff is exactly that — a fun, sweet book about scary things (that isn’t actually a scary book at all). It is in stores now.

Introducing Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

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When Marvel first announced they were hiring pro YA author Margaret Stohl to write a novel about Black Widow — aka my favorite bad ass lady — I could not have been more excited. After finally reading the book … well, I’ll save most of my gushing for my review next week, but suffice it to say, this book kicks just as much ass as Natasha Romanov.

Which is why I am SO THRILLED to be featuring it as our October 2015 Book of the Month. We have tons of exciting goodies planned for the month ahead, but in the meantime snag our desktop wallpaper calendar below & keep reading for more about the book.

As always, click to view full-size, then right-click to save:

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Enter the world of the Avengers’ iconic master spy

BW Forever Red HR coverNatasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives.

Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments-until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type.

Until now.

When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned-and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams. . . .

Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

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Any YA reader has probably asked themselves what they would do if they found themselves in the same situation as the protagonist of the book they were reading. What if you volunteered for the Hunger Games? What if you fell in love with a 100-year-old vampire? What if you were chosen to save society?

the rest of us just live hereBut what about everybody else in those stories? The kids on the sidelines who just get caught up in the drama and the action, but aren’t actively involved.

That is precisely what author Patrick Ness explores in his latest book, The Rest of Us Just Live Here.

What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshiped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

The book at once skewers and celebrates the “chosen one” trope so prevalent in YA literature (and pop culture at large; Buffy, anyone?). And it’s not just the paranormal that falls under Ness’s radar; he even takes a hilarious (and yes, much-needed) jab at the plethora of “teens-with-cancer” books that hit store shelves following the success of The Fault in Our Stars.

Ness deftly and cleverly shows that even in the midst of an apocalypse, life goes on. If you’re not the Chosen One, you still have finals to study for. Prom to attend. Family drama to deal with. A crush who may or may not like you back. The mundane goes on, even if it’s not normally in the spotlight when the story is focused on the savior at the center of a crisis. The bystanders have lives, too … and most of them would prefer not to become collateral damage.

With The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Ness has dreamed up a world where crazy things happen all the time, and the regular kids have just learned to keep their heads down, stay out of the way, and cope.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is beautifully written and cleverly plotted; brimming with imagination, wit, and charm, it is a must-read for any fan of YA literature. Look for it in stores October 6th.

The Best of Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius

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My how the time flies when you’re having fun! It’s hard to believe, but today we bid adieu to our September Book of the Month. But before we say our final goodbye, here’s a look at highlights from our feature on Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius:

Rewriting History Contest

anne and henryFor this month’s writing contest, we asked you to pick a significant moment from history & imagine it set in current times. You can either write a short snippet from this modern retelling, OR you can describe how you would retell this story in a contemporary setting. See complete rules & details here!

The contest is open until midnight (PT) tonight!

More from Dawn Ius

Beyond the Book

And don’t forget to check out our review of Anne & Henry here, too!


New YA Releases: September 29, 2015

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Here’s a look at today’s new YA releases:

lost girl, theThe Lost Girl by R. L. Stine

Generations of children and teens have grown up on R.L. Stine’s bestselling and hugely popular horror series, Fear Street and Goosebumps. Now, the Fear Street series is back with a chilling new installment, packed with pure nightmare fodder that will scare Stine’s avid fan base of teen readers and adults.

New student Lizzy Palmer is the talk of Shadyside High. Michael and his girlfriend Pepper befriend her, but the closer they get to her, the stranger she seems… and the more attractive she is to Michael. He invites her to join him on a snowmobile race that ends in a tragic accident. Soon, Michael’s friends start being murdered, and Pepper becomes convinced that Lizzy is behind the killings. But to her total shock, she and Michael are drawn into a tragic story of an unthinkable betrayal committed over 60 years ago. Frightening and tense in the way that only this master of horror can deliver, The Lost Girl is another terrifying Fear Street novel by the king of juvenile horror.

six of crowsSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

facelessFaceless by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

This emotionally gripping novel about a girl who gets a face transplant is Wonder for a YA audience.

When Maisie gets into a terrible accident, her face is partially destroyed. She’s lucky enough to get a face transplant–but how do you live your life when you can’t even recognize yourself anymore?

She was a runner, a girlfriend, a good student…a normal girl. Now all that has changed. As Maisie discovers how much her looks did–and didn’t–shape her relationship to the world, she has to redefine her own identity, and figure out what “lucky” really means.

From Alyssa Sheinmel, the acclaimed author of Second Star, this is a lyrical and gripping novel that will challenge readers to think about how we create and define ourselves.

sanctuarySanctuary by Jennifer McKissack

A haunting and luminous Gothic YA novel about reckoning with the ghosts of one’s dark past.

After the untimely death of her aunt Laura, Cecilia Cross is forced to return to Sanctuary, a rambling, old French-Gothic mansion that crowns a remote island off the coast of Maine. Cecilia is both drawn to and repulsed by Sanctuary. The scent of the ocean intoxicates her, but she’s also haunted by the ghosts of her past–of her father who died at Sanctuary five years ago, and of her mother who was committed soon after. The memories leave Cecilia feeling shaken, desperate to run away and forget her terrible family history.

But then a mysterious guest arrives at Sanctuary: Eli Bauer, a professor sent to examine Sanctuary’s library. Cecilia is intrigued by this strange young man who seems so interested in her — even more interested in her than in the books he is meant to be studying. Who is he and what does he want? Can Cecilia possibly trust her growing feelings for him? And can he help her make peace with her haunted, tragic past?

young man with cameraYoung Man with Camera by Emil Sher

A picture is worth a thousand words–and with a unique photographic format, a stunning original voice, and a provocative portrayal of bullying, Young Man with a Camera is a book to get people talking.

T– is used to getting grief. He gets it from his mom, who blames herself for his accident years earlier. He gets it from Mr. Lam, who suspects every kid of stealing from his shop. Worst of all, he gets it from Joined at the Hip, a trio of bullies so vicious that they leave T– terrified of even using his entire name.

But T– has his own strength too: his camera, which captures the unique way he sees the world. His pictures connect him to Ms. Karamath, the kind librarian at school; his friend Sean, whose passion for mysteries is matched only by his love for his dog; and especially Lucy, a homeless woman who shares his admiration for the photographer Diane Arbus. When Lucy is attacked by Joined at the Hip, T– documents the assault on film. But the bullies know he has the photographs, and their anger could be deadly. What’s the right thing for T– to do? Do pictures ever tell the whole truth? And what if the truth isn’t always the right answer?

untwineUntwine by Edwidge Danticat

A haunting and mesmerizing story about sisterhood, family, love, and loss by literary luminary Edwidge Danticat.

Giselle Boyer and her identical twin, Isabelle, are as close as sisters can be, even as their family seems to be unraveling. Then the Boyers are caught in a car crash that will shatter everyone’s world forever.

Giselle wakes up in the hospital, injured and unable to speak or move. Trapped in the prison of her own body, Giselle must revisit her past in order to understand how the people closest to her–her friends, her parents, and above all, Isabelle, her twin–have shaped and defined her. Will she allow her love for her family and friends to lead her to recovery? Or will she remain lost in a spiral of longing and regret?

Untwine is a spellbinding tale, lyrical and filled with love, mystery, humor, and heartbreak. Award-winning author Edwidge Danticat brings her extraordinary talent to this graceful and unflinching examination of the bonds of friendship, romance, family, the horrors of loss, and the strength we must discover in ourselves when all seems hopeless.

zeroesZeroes by Deborah Biancotti, Margo Lanagan & Scott Westerfeld

Ethan, aka “Scam,” has a way with words. When he opens his mouth, whatever he wants you to hear comes out. But Ethan isn’t just a smooth talker. He has a unique ability to say things he doesn’t consciously even know. Sometimes the voice helps, but sometimes it hurts – like now, when the voice has lied and has landed Ethan in a massive mess. So now Ethan needs help. And he needs to go to the last people who would ever want to help him – his former group of friends, the self-named “zeros” who also all possess similarly double-edged abilities, and who are all angry at Ethan for their own respective reasons. Brought back together by Scam’s latest mischief, they find themselves entangled in an epic, whirlwind adventure packed with as much interpersonal drama as mind-bending action.

very in piecesVery in Pieces by Megan Frazer Blakemore

Very Sales-Woodruff is done being a good girl. Done being the only responsible one in a family that’s unraveling. Done being the obliging girlfriend in a relationship that’s sinking. Done saying no to what she wants—like Dominic, her rebellious classmate.

With her mom’s drinking, her dad’s extended absences from home, and her younger sister, Ramona, running wild, the path Very has always seen for herself doesn’t seem to matter anymore. At the same time, Very’s grandmother, a poet known less for her work and more for her exploits with the likes of Andy Warhol and Arthur Miller, is slipping away.

If everything else can fall to pieces, why can’t she?

For the comments: Which of today’s new releases are you most excited about?

Beyond Anne & Henry: The Tudors in YA Lit

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If you’re like us, and you can’t get enough of Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius, then today’s post is just for you: more YA books featuring the Tudors! Here are our recommendations, and be sure to add yours in the comments:

brazenBrazen by Katherine Longshore

Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?

giltGilt by Katherine Longshore

In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free — and love comes at the highest price of all.

When Kitty Tylney’s best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII’s heart and brings Kitty to court, she’s thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat’s shadow, Kitty’s now caught between two men–the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat’s meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head

tarnish katherine longshoreTarnish by Katherine Longshore

Anne Boleyn is the odd girl out. Newly arrived to the court of King Henry VIII, everything about her seems wrong, from her clothes to her manners to her witty but sharp tongue. So when the dashing poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach her on how to shine at court—and to convince the whole court they’re lovers—she accepts. Before long, Anne’s popularity has soared, and even the charismatic and irresistible king takes notice. More than popularity, Anne wants a voice—but she also wants love. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart’s desire and the chance to make history.

VIIIVIII by H.M. Castor

Destined for greatness; tormented by demons… VIII is the story of Hal: a young, handsome, gifted warrior, who believes he has been chosen to lead his people. But he is tormented by the ghosts of his family’s violent past and, once he rises to power, he turns to murder and rapacious cruelty. He is Henry VIII. The Tudors have always captured the popular imagination. In VIII, Henry is presented afresh for a new generation of teenage readers.

assassinAssassin by Grace Cavendish

WHEN MARGARET CAVENDISH, one of Elizabeth I’s Gentlewomen of the Bedchamber, lost her life in a bungled attempt to kill the Queen, her daughter, Lady Grace, became a protégée to the monarch, who takes Grace under her wing. Now Grace, a spunky girl who romps through the gardens with the laundry maids and court tumblers and rolls her eyes at her fellow
ladies, chronicles the court intrigues that swirl around her. . . .

It’s the spring of 1569 and 13-year-old Lady Grace, the youngest lady-in-waiting to the Queen, finds herself at a glittering ball choosing amongst three suitors. But the Queen’s generosity turns deadly as threats, dark secrets, and even murder descend on the Tudor court. And it is up to Grace to use her intelligence, stealth, and curious nature to solve the mystery that threatens the very lifeblood of England.

mary bloody maryMary, Bloody Mary by Carolyn Meyer

The story of Mary Tudor’s childhood is a classic fairy tale: A princess who is to inherit the throne of England is separated from her mother; abused by an evil stepmother who has enchanted her father; stripped of her title; and forced to care for her baby stepsister, who inherits Mary’s rights to the throne. Believe it or not, it’s all true. Told in the voice of the young Mary, this novel explores the history and intrigue of the dramatic rule of Henry VIII, his outrageous affair with and marriage to the bewitching Anne Boleyn, and the consequences of that relationship for his firstborn daughter. Carolyn Meyer has written a compassionate historical novel about love and loss, jealousy and fear – and a girl’s struggle with forces far beyond her control.

maid of secrets pbMaid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowen

Orphan Meg Fellowes makes her living picking pockets—until she steals from the wrong nobleman. Instead of rotting in prison like she expected, she’s whisked away to the court of Queen Elizabeth and pressed into royal service, where she joins four other remarkable girls in the Maids of Honor, the Queen’s secret society of protectors.

Meg’s natural abilities as a spy prove useful in this time of unrest. The Spanish Court is visiting, and with them come devious plots and hidden political motives. As threats to the kingdom begin to mount, Meg can’t deny her growing attraction to one of the dashing Spanish courtiers. But it’s hard to trust her heart in a place where royal formalities and masked balls hide the truth: Not everyone is who they appear to be. With danger lurking around every corner, can she stay alive—and protect the crown?

other countessThe Other Countess by Eve Edwards

England, 1582

Ellie—Lady Eleanor Rodriguez, Countess of San Jaime—possesses a worthless title, but her feisty spirit captivates the elite of the Queen’s court—especially the dashing new Earl of Dorset.

William Lacey, Earl of Dorset, has inherited his father’s title—and his financial ruin. Now Will must seek a wealthy bride and restore his family’s fortune. If only he hadn’t fallen for the beautiful but penniless Ellie . . .

Sparks fly whenever Ellie and Will are together, but circumstances—and the conniving interference of others—threaten to keep them apart.

king's roseThe King’s Rose by Alisa M. Libby

Life in the court of King Henry VIII is a complex game. When fifteen-year-old Catherine Howard catches the king?s eye, she quickly transforms from pawn to queen. But even luxury beyond imagination loses its luster as young Catherine finds her life?and her heart?threatened by the needs of an aging king and a family hungry for power. Will their agendas deliver Catherine to the same fate as her infamous cousin, Anne Boleyn?sacrificed at the altar of family ambition? Engaging historical fiction with a throbbing YA heartbeat, this thrilling novel will draw readers into the intrigues and dangers of the Tudor court.

For the comments: What other YA books do you love that feature Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII, or the Tudors?

Percy Pack Sneak Peek: Magnus Chase & the Gods of Asgard

As a member of the Percy Pack — helping to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the Percy Jackson series — we’re delighted today to be bringing you a sneak peek at Rick Riordan’s new book, Magnus Chase & the Gods of Asgard.

Though the book doesn’t come out until October 6th, you can read the first five chapters RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!

Check out the excerpt from Magnus Chase & the Gods of Asgard here!

MagnusChaseCoverWant more? Look for the full book next week, when it hits store shelves on October 6th:

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers. One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. His uncle tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god. The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants, and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarök, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years. When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision. Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

Pre-order your copy here:

Tune in next week for your chance to win a copy of Magnus Chase, and get tips on a Percy Jacks0n-inspired Halloween costume!

Samples & prizing for all Percy Pack posts provided by Disney-Hyperion.

Beyond Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius: The Real Henry VIII

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In our September Book of the Month, author Dawn Ius has re-imagined England’s most infamous king as high school royalty. But what was the real Henry VIII like? We showed you more about the real Anne Boleyn earlier this week. Today, we’re bringing you the facts about the other half of this ill-fated couple.

Henry VIII: The Facts

henry viii

  • Born June 28, 1491
  • Died January 28, 1547
  • Ruled as King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547
  • Second monarch of the Tudor dynasty, after his father Henry VII
  • Most famous for his six wives & his role in breaking the Church of England away from the Catholic Church
  • Children:
    • Mary I (ruled as Queen 1553-1558; died at age 42)
    • Elizabeth I (ruled as Queen 1558-1603; died at age 69)
    • Edward VI (ruled as King 1547-1553; died at age 15)
    • Henry Fitzroy (illegitimate; died at age 17)

Unexpectedly King

Henry’s older brother Arthur was originally meant to become king after their father, but died at the age of 15, just weeks after his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Henry was ten-years-old at the time. Their parents decided that Henry would 1491_Henry_VIIImarry his brother’s widow — although Henry did not agree at first.

Following his father’s death and Henry’s succession to the throne, he finally agreed to marry Catherine. Henry was 18 when he became King of England in 1509.

Catherine and Henry struggled to have children at first; their first child — a girl — was stillborn. Their second child, a son, died at seven weeks old. That was followed by two more stillborn sons. Finally, Catherine gave birth to a healthy baby girl — Mary, who would go on one day to rule England as Queen.

Henry also famously had many mistresses during his marriage to Catherine — despite the marriage supposedly being pretty good. One of his most significant mistresses, Elizabeth Blount, was the mother of Henry’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy. Steps were made to legitimize Henry FitzRoy and put him in line for the throne, but he died at age 17 (most likely from Tuberculosis) before Parliament voted on such legislation.

Henry Meets Anne

Henry was still married to Catherine when he met Anne Boleyn — who was one of his wife’s ladies-in-waiting. At the time, Henry was growing impatient with Catherine’s “inability” anne and henry huntingto produce a male heir — and was known for his many mistresses. But his infatuation with Anne went further, especially when she refused to become one of his mistresses.

Henry’s relationship with Anne inspired him to aggressively pursue an annulment to his marriage to Catherine, even claiming that their union never should have been allowed because she had previously been married to his brother. The battle over ending their marriage took a few years — and eventually, Henry took matters into his own hands when the Catholic Church refused to make a decision quickly enough, and broke the Church of England away from the Vatican.

As discussed earlier this year, Henry’s marriage to Anne did not last long — as Anne, too, failed to give Henry a son, and charges of adultery and treason were brought against her. Eventually, Henry had Anne executed — and a few weeks later, married wife #3.

Henry’s Wives

Though we’re focusing on Anne here because she was the central figure in our Book of the Month, all of Henry’s wives have fascinating stories. Here’s a quick overview of the six wives, and the duration of their marriages to Henry:

Catherine of Aragon
Married to Henry in 1509; marriage annulled in 1533

Anne Boleyn
henry and his wivesMarried to Henry in 1533–36; marriage ended in Anne’s execution in 1536

Jane Seymour
Married to Henry in 1536; marriage ended in her death in 1937 (Jane died as a result of complications of childbirth).

Anne of Cleves
Married to Henry in January of 1940; marriage annulled in July of that same year. Though married to him for only months, Anne would go on to outlive all of Henry’s other wives.

Catherine Howard
Married to Henry in 1540; marriage ended in Catherine’s execution in 1541

Catherine Parr
Married to Henry in 1543; marriage ended in Henry’s death in 1547

Henry’s Legacy

Although Henry is most famously associated with his six wives, his most lasting legacy is probably his role in separating the Church of England from the Catholic Church. Henry still Family_of_Henry_VIII_c_1545_detailupheld many Catholic ideologies, but appointed himself the head of the Church because he just really didn’t want to listen to the Pope.

Along with the Pope, Henry is also famous for his long rivalry with the King of France and the Emperor of Spain.

During his reign, Henry oversaw the legal union of England and Wales, and made some major changes to the English Constitution — perhaps most notably the idea of “divine right,” and his expansion of royal power, including the King’s control over the Church of England.

Henry was also famous for executing advisers — as well as his wives — who fell out of his favor.




Beyond Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius: The Real Anne Boleyn

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Today we’re going beyond the pages of our September Book of the Month, Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius, to learn about one of the real people whose story inspired the book … Anne Boleyn. (And tune in on Friday for more on Henry VIII, too!)

Anne: The Facts

anne boleyn

  • Born 1501 (Probably; there’s been some dispute)
  • Died May 19th, 1536
  • Titles: Queen of England from 1533-1536
    Marquess of Pembroke
  • Daughter of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and Lady Elizabeth Howard
  • Surviving Heirs: Queen Elizabeth, I

Anne Before Henry

Before she began her tumultuous relationship with King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn was actually engaged … twice!

In 1522, there were plans for Anne to marry her cousin James Butler, but the marriage was broken up by Cardinal Wolsey — who secured her a post as maid of honor to Henry VIII’s first wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon.

She was also secretly engaged to Henry Percy, son of the Earl of Northumberland, in 1523 — but Wolsey also broke up that little arrangement and sent Anne back to Catherine’s court, where she would eventually catch the eye of the king.

Earlier in her life, Anne studied in the Netherlands and France.

Anne & Henry & the Catholic Church

anne and henry huntingHenry began pursuing Anne in 1526 — despite still being married to Catherine of Aragon. Anne’s sister Mary had already been one of Henry’s mistresses, but Anne supposedly refused — which lead Henry to vehemently pursue an annulment of his marriage to Catherine so he and Anne could get hitched and have crazy royal sex (presumably).

Henry’s determination to end his marriage to Catherine despite the Catholic Church’s refusal to do so is what began England’s break from the Vatican and the creation of the Church of England (the movement known more commonly as the English Reformation).

Queen Anne

Anne and Henry were married on January 25th, 1533 (Um, creepy … my wedding anniversary is also January 25th) — despite the church still being in a bit of upheaval.

anne and henryA few months later, Thomas Cranmer (one of the leaders of the English Reformation) declared Henry and Catherine’s marriage null and void, and that Henry’s marriage to Anne was totes legit.

(This also caused the Catholic Church to excommunicate both Cranmer and Henry, at which point the Church of England came under the King’s control … and, you know, eventually lead to a lot of bloodshed and death and violence and war. But that’s a story for another day.)

Anne was crowned Queen of England on June 1st, 1533, and she and Henry got busy trying to make babies. Baby boys, specifically.

That endeavor was not met with success, however.

Anne gave birth to her first child, the future Queen Elizabeth I, on September 7, 1533. Elizabeth was Anne’s only surviving child; her subsequent pregnancies ended in stillbirth or miscarriage.

Anne’s Downfall

anne in the towerAnne’s failure to produce a male heir marked the beginning of the end for Anne. Though this was not the only reason for strife in their marriage — historians have noted that Anne was smart, politically savvy, and outspoken, all qualities that were not desirable in a wife — the lack of a son made Anne vulnerable to the king’s anger.

By the Spring of 1536, while still married to Anne, Henry began courting the woman who would become his third wife, Jane Seymour — and had Anne arrested, held in the Tower of London, and investigated for high treason.

The charges against Anne included adultery, incest, and witchcraft. Her trial was swift, and she was quickly found guilty and beheaded … conveniently paving the way for Henry to remarry. (Which he did — just days later!)

Anne’s Legacy

Anne left a lasting legacy on England and its future. When her daughter Elizabeth was crowned Queen, Anne was called a martyr and hero of the Reformation