Monthly Archives: January 2014

Dan Jones’ Plantagents—Skip It.

The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made EnglandThe Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England by Dan Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dan Jones’ The Plantagenets was a disappointment for me. I started out really loving it and I wanted to love it. I am very interested in that period and thought that a new discussion/overview of the period would be interesting. Sadly, I found his research lacking and that he dismissed key points in the historical period he was covering without justifying his point of view.

I say skip it and go ahead and pick up Thomas Costain’s series on the family.

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Best Book on the Plantagenets Yet!

The Conquering Family (The Plantagenets, #1)The Conquering Family by Thomas B. Costain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Originally published in 1949, Thomas Costain’s Conquering Family is a history of Henry II and his family. It is the first volume in a series about the Plantagenet Dynasty and is told from a wonderfully British perspective.

The work discusses the succession problems created when Henry I’s son died in the White Ship crash. He continues through the death of that famously hated king, John.

Costain uses his British style to introduce readers to the Plantagenet’s with detail and an entertaining voice. For example, in describing Richard the Loinheart: Richard was always the knight, never the king.

The author also addresses court rumor and works to help readers distinguish fact and fiction. However, because the book has an older publication date there are a few things that historians have discovered in the past 60 years. It seems history is always coming to light. One example of this is Henry II’s illegitimate son, William. New research has discovered William is not Rosamund’s son– the child of one of Henry’s other mistresses, Ida.

Throughout the work, the author provides useful asides. For example, he gives a good description of Strongbow’s conquest of Ireland, the Robin Hood Legend and the life of a villen during the period. These details help paint a picture of the times beyond just what was happening to the Plantagenet dynasty.

One aspect that maybe tough for new readers to this period of history are the author’s speculations. Every once in while he adds his own opinion of events. I enjoyed his ideas, however, people less well versed in the period my be confused and take his musings as fact. As long as you give the book a close reading, I don’t think readers will be confused.

I was reading this concurrent with The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England by Dan Jones. Jones’ book is more recent (2013) but Constain’s book is much better, more entertaining and readable. Over and over I found myself wishing I was reading Costain’s when I was reading Jones’.

Finally, I had the extra treat of listening to Conquering Family on audio and the narrator David Case does a wonderful job. His voice, accent, and timing add a lot to the book!

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Scorpion suicide


Yes, that is a picture of a scorpion in my toilet! And no, I was not surprised to find it there.

Scorpion suicide seems to be something of a regular occurrence at my home. I have actually found other scorpions in toilets…

And I once found a scorpion that fell down the front of my shirt. No, I wasn’t bitten thank God! I mistakenly thought it was a piece of popcorn that I neglected to actually get into my mouth. When i pulled open my shirt to pull the popcorn out, it seems that instead a Scorpion had fallen from the ceiling and down my shirt! You can imagine there was quite a lot of bouncing around, yelling, jumping and startled folderol. But thanks for the fast action of The Captain I was not stung. And the scorpion meat an untimely death.

So I got to wonder why do so many scorpions come to my house to commit suicide?

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What would you do if a stranger followed you into your car? We found out during a hike in New Mexico

Great story by a friend of mine… And spoiler alert: it turns out well. The alternative is unthinkable.

But I have to say she has more sympathy for the stranger than I would have!

It also resonates because The Captain does a lot of solo hiking.

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The Time of Singing: A Year of the Marshal Review

Chadwick does it again!

Time of Singing is another in a series of books that deals with life in the Angevin Empire. This time readers are treated to a snippet of the life of Ida and her husband Roger Bigod Earl of Norfolk.

Ida starts her life at Henry II’s court as his less-than-willing mistress. After giving birth to the king’s famous bastard, William Longespee, she marries Roger Bigod.

Elizabeth Chadwick does another great job of making the characters and time period come to life. Their complex stories and personal and political struggles create a quick moving and engaging story. Chadwick takes the historical narrative and adds personal character to the experience.

I really enjoyed this book after reading not only her books on William Marshal, but also her works on John Marshal and Empress Matilda. Over and over in Chadwick’s novels we see the same people appear interwoven into each others lives. I like seeing the same people through different lenses.

Finally, I LOVED the ending featuring the water joust. Awesome– who knew there was even such a thing.

This is one of Chadwick’s winners!

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January 10, 2014 · 4:36 pm

Me: Why do I al…

Me: Why do I always have to put you to bed?
The Princess: Because you made me.

hmmmm,,,, I have no response.

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January 3, 2014 · 3:41 am

New Year’s Oooops.

2013 was not my best year for keeping up my New Year’s resolutions. But, I have to confront my failures so here goes.


  • Eat Healthier: I wanted to give up milk, cheese, and red meat. I did great job UNTIL I went to my niece’s bat mitzvah. Then, I completely fell off the wagon. I ordered the veggie dinner at the reception. But, with so much festivity in the air– I ate BACON at breakfast and cheese. After that, I was lost. Six weeks of healthy eating and then bust! I did manage to give up cows MILK, I am now 100% almond. So at least that is something!
  • Complete 40 Hot Yoga Sessions: I only made it to 22 sessions. I was going at least once a week until the kids summer vacation happened. After June, I never got back on track. I guess there is always this year.
  • Read 60 Books: Completed! 78 books, actually. I throw this one in every year. I know I can and will get it done so I have to add it to stack the deck in my favor! I did however say I was going to read 12 health related books. That was an epic failure, only 4!
  • Work out for 300 Hours: I go t the UP BAND for 2013 and declared war on sitting down. As part of that I wanted to see if I could log 300 hours of working out, gym, hiking, yoga. I managed to achieve 339 hours!

Now I have to come up with resolutions for 2014. Or I could resolve to just be.

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