RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS

  • Paradox of our National Security Complex, The
    Richard Alexander Otto
    Many of us suspect that we are living in a national security state that threatens the very foundations of our democratic republic. The Paradox of our National Security Complex, by Richard Otto, illuminates what many well-known and respected people have warned us about. Otto has spent a decade meticulously researching this issue, and he has left no dark corner unexplored. From the harsh demands of intelligence work to win WWII, a Frankenstein monster was born, and its birth certificate was the National Security Act of 1947. The dark forces this seemingly innocuous document unleashed have resulted in freighting agencies that have overthrown sovereign nations, murdered world leaders (including our own), and run drugs with impunity. Otto aptly points out how all of this has conveniently been shrouded in “National Security.” This meticulously researched and referenced work is masterfully written and leaves nothing to the imagination. It is a must-read for researchers and anyone questioning why the United States seems to have entered an era where war and destruction seem to be a never-ending cycle.

    The Paradox of our National Security Complex, by Richard Otto, expertly exposes how the United States government has become what the framers of the Constitution feared the most. They feared unchecked power not answerable to the people, and Otto clearly illustrates how this was methodically done and by whom. As if with a surgeon's scalpel, he analyzes the political and social dilemmas of our time and sheds light on what really is at stake. He exposes the deep, dark power that JFK threatened and the critical elements that got him killed. Otto also goes into the Vietnam War and exposes why the CIA’s hidden drug trade was a major factor. He also brings to light the enormous courage demonstrated by people in the media and within the national security complex itself. These are the true patriots who possess moral courage and, by expertly telling their stories, Otto inspires us all. This book is a wealth of information and inspiration that is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding U.S. politics and history! ~ Robert Kirkconnell, Readers' Favorite, https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/the-paradox-of-our-national-security-complex

  • Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    Margaret Tudor is in someways the forgotten Tudor. Daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, she was the Queen of Scotland for a time and it was through her that the Stuart kings ascended the throne. Yet in many modern retellings, including The Tudors, her story forgotten or worse, merged with her sister's tale.

    This book attempts to remedy that. Using correspondence and chronicles of the time, Watkins weaves together a complex tapestry of the woman who was Margaret Tudor. Starting from her birth, we explore Margaret's world and her place in it. We meet everyone who would later influence her life and her choices. It helps explain her complexity and also her historical importance. And make no bones about it, Margaret is important.

    I picked up this book because I have an inordinate love of Tudor history. It was my focus in college, and my historical focus in my post-graduate education. I was not disappointed. The author has clearly done their research (which is good considering this is a non-fiction book) and has gone out of her way to include little tidbits into Margaret's life.

    I especially enjoyed the inclusion of her letters other documents which both humanized Margaret and also provided historical context to the book.
    ~ Michelle Louise, NetGalley

  • Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    Biographies of kings and queens tend to chronicle their lives primarily as entwined with the historical and political contexts in which they lived, a focus that sometimes necessitates omitting everyday details of their personal lives. By contrast, in the early chapters of this biography, the author’s inclusion of specific details concerning the food, clothing, entourages, activities, and festivities in the life of Margaret Tudor leave a colorful impression. At times, the beginning chapters read like a romance novel, complete with descriptions of Margaret’s luxurious trousseau and a full record of the vows spoken at her betrothal by proxy. Thankfully, the author also provides a complex, nuanced portrait of the political scene, fraught by tensions, conflicts, and wars among England, France, and Scotland.

    We see this scene afresh from the perspective of Margaret, who at thirteen years of age was married to King James IV of Scotland, a politically motivated union intended to help broker peace between Scotland and England. In fact, however, shifting alliances and unstable relations among England, Scotland, and France often put Margaret and her brother Henry VIII at odds with one another: and Margaret’s husband, James IV, was killed during one of many conflicts between England and Scotland. Following an ill-considered second marriage, Margaret, who began life in the lap of luxury, endured hard years filled with unfaithfulness in the men she loved, painful separations from her children, and financial difficulties occasioned by schemes to deprive her of her rightful income.

    The course of her life and legacy is well presented in this biography. ~ Cynthia Haller , Educator at York College, City University of New York/NetGalley

  • Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    Inform yous, in a most factual and well written manner her [Margaret Tudor's] story. A life that is full of conflict and I can imagine that she was quite weary at the end of her life, she had gone through so much, but I admire her strength and tenacity, she fought for what she wanted and above all wanted the very best for her children. She was definatly born into an era of men, they dominated her world and she was pushed and pulled around by them, but I applaud her for standing up for what she believed was just and right.
    Watkins was thorough in her research and backed up her writing with excerpts of letters written by Margaret and received by her, which were interesting to read.

    I will keep this book, so I can reference through it again at my leisure, for it is a book that is well worth a read, particularly if you want to know more about this sister or indeed just this time period.

    ~ Julie Wright, Tudor Rose https://tudor-rosebookworm.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/book-review-margaret-tudor-queen-of.html#more

  • Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    Margaret’s story starts off with a mundane feel, but the author, Sarah-Beth Watkins, reminds the reader that Margaret is a Tudor and so, of course, Margaret’s story is going to be full of drama—guaranteed!
    Watkins does not disappoint. She shows Margaret’s good intentions, poor taste in men, and exciting intrigue.
    At times, it is hard to side with our heroine, but the reader will feel sorry for her. But when all the shady characters and conspiracies meet, the reader is led to a satisfying finish and will conclude that Margaret was a remarkable woman, whose fight for her family’s future was worth it.
    ~ Sarah Patten, herstoryline.com

  • Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    Of all the Tudor children, Margaret is the I am the least familiar with. Always relegated to the shadows of her domineering brother and beautiful, but tragic sister, this feisty lightening bolt of a woman never seems to be given much thought in books about the period. In this little gem of a biography, she is finally given her due. Combining careful research with an engaging narrative style, Sarah-Beth Watkins takes the reader on a journey through the hardships and triumphs of this elusive Tudor woman.

    Watkins' thoughtful prose lends gravity to the heartbreak so prevalent in Margaret's life. I hadn't realized how much tragedy had befallen the queen until now. Never one to take these events lying down, Margaret's strength endures, as evidenced by the selected excerpts of primary sources woven throughout the book. These excerpts are perfectly chosen to move the narrative forward without bogging the reader down.

    The only thing that would make Margaret Tudor: Queen of Scots better is if it were longer. I so thoroughly enjoyed my time in 16th century Scotland, that I wasn't ready for it to end. Highly recommend! ~ Adrienne Dillard, Author of Cor Rotto: A novel of Catherine Carey and The Raven's Widow: A novel of Jane Boleyn

  • Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    Margaret’s life was very fascinating, and it is sad that she is mostly a forgotten woman in Tudor history. ~ Lauralee Jacks, History From A Woman's Perspective

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    Catherine of Braganza was the wife of Charles II. She is known for making tea popular in England. She was often very unpopular and was believed to be the neglected wife of Charles II. However, in this biography of Queen Catherine, she is portrayed as a loyal and loving wife to King Charles. While she was often in background at the merry monarch’s court, King Charles never really considered replacing her. He ended up being her most staunch supporter. This biography also shows that Catherine had the makings of being a great queen when she became regent for her nephew in Portugal.

    Catherine of Braganza was a princess of Portugal. She was a devoted Catholic throughout her life. Charles II secured his marriage with Catherine in exchange for a large dowry, which he never received. Catherine arrived in England, but she didn’t speak any English. She was immediately unpopular because of her Catholic faith. Charles also did not meet her upon arrival because he was with his mistress. Yet, despite these setbacks, Charles still decided to marry her anyway, both in a secret Catholic ceremony and in a Protestant one.

    The beginning of their marriage became tumultuous. Charles wanted to make his mistress serve his wife. Catherine refused. This biography showed that Catherine was temperamental, stubborn, and passionate. It also showed that Charles was also hot-headed and stubborn, and that both the king and queen were used to getting their own way. This became a strained marriage, and Catherine became neglected. It wasn’t until after she relented and treated Charles’s mistresses with respect that Charles began to pay more attention to her.

    Throughout her marriage, Catherine had to tolerate Charles’s mistresses. She also had to deal with the failure that she never produced an heir and the king’s counselors advising the king to replace her. Despite these problems, Charles never divorced his wife. He supported her. When the Popish Plot of 1678 threatened her, Charles stood by her side and declared he wouldn’t impeach her. Their relationship became closer. Charles spent more time with her and gave her more attention.

    After Charles’s death, she lived in seclusion in Somerset House and witnessed the reigns of James II and William and Mary. Eventually, she returned to Portugal and was appointed regent for her nephew. She was a successful regent, but her time was short. She died in December.

    Overall, this biography portrays Catherine in a sympathetic light. Her life was a series of tribulations. I felt sorry for Catherine and her difficulties. Yet, she managed to overcome them with the help of her husband Charles II. This biography also shows a more complex portrait of Catherine. She is portrayed as temperamental, stubborn, loyal, and politically adept. Because we see how capable Catherine is as regent, we only wonder how good of a queen she would be if Charles relied on her more often. This biography was short and it is very readable to the general reader. Those who have never heard of Catherine will find her story compelling and will want to learn more about her. Thus, Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Restoration Queen shows Catherine to be a woman who had the potential to be a great queen, but was never given the chance during her marriage to Charles II. ~ Lauralee Jacks, History From A Woman's Perspective http://www.historywomanperspective.com/2017/08/catherine-of-braganza-charles-iis.html

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    Sarah-Beth is a fantastic writer and brings to life this often sad story. ~ Tracy Shepherd, NetGalley

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    Thanks to Sarah-Beth Watkins’ Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Restoration Queen, we finally get a solid biography of the Portuguese princess turned queen of England.
    As the title suggests, this biography mainly concentrates on Catherine’s years as queen consort to Charles II. However, Watkins does nicely provide a rare glimpse of Catherine’s life before her marriage and after the death of Charles II.
    Whether it was the beginning, middle, or ending of Catherine’s story, a reoccurring theme is the difficulties of being a princess and a queen. Through good storytelling, this biography gives information about what real life is like for royal women. They constantly get judged publicly, have obligations to follow, and have to pick and choose their battles carefully. Watkins gives the valuable insight: “A princess, and often a queen, must do as she was told”.
    A common hardship being married to a king is often his affairs. Catherine goes down in English history as a tragic queen who had to deal with a husband who womanized a lot. Far too often, though, I read books and blogs that describe Catherine being “desperately in love” with her unfaithful husband. Watkins doesn’t jump to that conclusion. Instead, she gives us stories in which show the tension and tenderness between Catherine and Charles. We also get more details of what Catherine did away from the royal court and Charles.
    Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Restoration Queen is a valuable read. The more you get to know this queen, the more you agree with the observation of Minette, Charles II’s sister, about Catherine: “It is impossible not to love her.”
    ~ Sarah Patten, Herstoryline.com

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    Although I was familiar with Charles II and the Restoration, I knew nothing about Queen Catherine.

    This book is very interesting, the writing style is light and accessible, which means it's an easy read. It's also quite short. Overall I reammy enjoyed it and learned lots of new information​.
    ~ Camille Brown, GoodReads

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    There has been little written about Catherine of Braganza, so I was happy to learn more about her.

    Catherine of Braganza was the Portuguese wife of Charles II of England, the Restoration King. Catherine was born into the House of Braganza, the most senior noble house in Portugal.

    Catherine was an unpopular consort for the Merry Monarch, mainly because of her devotion to Roman Catholicism, but also because she was unable to produce an heir to the throne. King Charles had no trouble producing illegitimate sires throughout England with a number of publicly known mistresses, the most notorious of them being Barbara Palmer. Not only did Catherine put up with Charles extra curricular lasciviousness, she included Barbara Palmer in her royal household as Mistress of the Bed Chamber.

    I found this book interesting and well written, and it was a very quick read. ~ Elizabeth Buck, Fiction Feline http://fictionfeline.weebly.com/blog/may-24th-2017

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    As a bit of a Restoration nut, I jumped at the chance to read this book courtesy of NetGalley. Sarah-Beth Watkins’ latest history explores the life of a woman she labels “a forgotten queen marked by history as the neglected wife of Charles II and not much more.” In this briskly paced book, Watkins expands our understanding of Catherine’s personality and the events of her life, from her cloistered upbringing in Portugal to her marriage to Charles, a notorious philanderer who nevertheless showed his wife continual political loyalty. While Watkins’ turns of phrase sometimes lack elegance (the wording and exclamations can come off as a bit casual), her prose is straight-forward. What’s more, Watkins inserts a good deal of primary source material into the narrative, much to the book’s benefit – the commentary of famous diarists Pepys and Evelyn, and snippets from letters written by the royals themselves, add authenticity and flavor. Further, Watkins’ bibliography reflects a wide gathering of sources both historical and modern.

    Given the book’s brevity, Catherine of Braganza is a history painted by necessity with a broad brush. While we don’t get all the nuance and particulars of events like The Popish Plot, or even explanations of any medical circumstances which may have caused Catherine to repeatedly miscarry, Watkins does provide some interesting tidbits of information relating to her subject. It was enjoyable to learn about Catherine’s passion for the navy, her skill as an archer, her enthusiasm for tea, and her patronage of music (she was the organizer of the first Italian opera performed in England). These details added color to Catherine’s life.

    What I found especially fascinating about the book was the kinship networks Catherine worked hard to establish within the royal family – whether her closeness with the Queen Dowager Henrietta Maria, or her role looking after not only the children of Charles’ mistresses, but also her nieces, the future Queens Mary and Anne. And on that note of Charles’ mistresses, I felt intrigued by Watkins’ description of the ways in which Catherine lived closely to and collaborated with her husband’s lovers, particularly in the arrangements of entertainments. Certainly, queens before her had endured proximity to their husband’s paramours. Yet against the backdrop of Charles’ many mistresses jockeying for favor and position at court, Catherine remained a steady presence, who if not exactly their close companion was at least companionable. Here Watkins successfully highlights the sexual double standard at court – whereas Catherine not only had to put up with but also collaborate with Charles’ mistresses (her early protestations against them fell on Charles’ deaf ears), Charles would not suffer to let Catherine have a master of horse of her choosing, fearing she favored the man over himself.

    Watkins succeeds in demonstrating Catherine’s role as a political pawn, even in her infancy as a symbol to spur on the Portuguese rebellion against Spanish rule, and later in life as a scapegoat for Catholics in England. Her part in that conflict – with accusations of conspiracy volleyed consistently against her on account of her religion – was interesting, too.

    Overall, Watkins’ breezy history does convey a solid sense of Catherine’s character – a woman who, though stubborn at times, displayed a good deal of grace, devotion, maternal care, and savviness to know when political winds were changing.
    ~ Alexandra Kennedy, Early Modern Allie

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    The history of the portuguese princess told almost like a historic romance... The facts were written in an interesting and engaging way. Very enjoyable read. ~ Cat Chloe, NetGalley

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    5/5 Stars
    I studied Catherine’s (Catarina in Portuguese) life for some time and this author is brilliant. Loved this book deeply since it speaks of what I know.
    Fun fact: Did you know that British drink Tea at 5pm because of Queen Catherine? She was the one that introduced this habit in the Royal Court since Portuguese were the ones with trade route to China.
    Tea in China and in Portugal is called the same: Chá, and are the only countries in the world saying the word in the same pronunciation. ~ Alejandra, Alejandra's Life

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    I was intrigued by the story of Catherine, Queen of England, and regent of Portugal. The author managed to capture the times and the personalities which surrounded her, her challenges, and her amazing ability to remain true to herself. Makes me want to do more digging about this remarkable woman. ~ Rosann Goldblatt, NetGalley

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    Catherine of Braganza was a Catholic Portuguese princess who was married off to Charles II to cement the relationship between Britain and Portugal and discourage Spain from its constant invasion of Portugal. Catherine left behind everything to live in a country she hadn't been to before with a man she'd never met. Her life there wasn't an easy one, from putting up with Charles mistresses and his favoring them over her to people's hostility over her Catholicism to her inability to produce offspring she had a rough time constantly. Yet through out it Catherine remained pious and kind and did her best to try and fit in at the English court and support her king.

    I thought it was really interesting read, I didn't know anything about this time period but after reading the book I'm sure I've seen references to Charles II and his numerous mistresses in TV shows. I felt bad for Catherine especially in the beginning where no matter what she did people found a way to use it against her but I'm glad that towards the end Charles at least seemed to be much more loyal and devoted to her. The only thing I had a problem with was trying to keep up with all the titles and names in the book but that's not the authors fault. It was also a pretty quick read which was nice. It sucks that she had to die before she got to do more for Portugal especially since her limited time as regent seemed pretty impressive. ~ Pouting Always, GoodReads/ThePloughmans Lunch

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    This book provides a fascinating look at the life of Catherine of Braganza. She was born in 1638 in Portugal, and married Charles the II of England in 1662. She must have been an amazing women since she had to come to terms with the numerous mistresses of the king and the fact that, as hard as she tried she was never able to give the king an heir.

    When she wasn't dealing with domestic hardships she had her detractors to contend with, particularly those who wanted to rid themselves of a Catholic queen. Even though the king stood by her during her most difficult times it seems true happiness may have come at long last when she was able to return to Portugal, where she was to rule as regent for João V.

    I recommend this well written book for anyone who wants to know more about Catherine's role as queen and her life at the English court.
    ~ Cristina Wood, NetGalley

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    This short biography of Catherine of Braganza is an interesting, straight forward and fast paced overview of the life of one of England’s less well known queens.

    Watkins clearly shows the difficulties faced by a Catholic Queen in a Protestant country and how the childless Catherine dealt with the many mistresses and illegitimate children of Charles II at the restoration court.

    Catherine’s struggle to find her place as Queen is set against the dramatic back drop of plots against her, the war against the Dutch, the plague and the great fire of London. It is a great starting point for those wanting to learn more about queenship in this period. ~ Tamise Hills, ladyjanegrey blog

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    Our story begins with the arrival of the English fleet at Lisbon. Catherine of Braganza is to be married to England’s King Charles II during the 17th Century.

    This book traces the period of time during which Catherine was married to Charles II. She was sorely tested by Charles’ philandering and many at the court did not like her for her Catholic beliefs. They plotted against her in a vicious manner.

    She was married to Charles for more than twenty years and although pregnant a number of times, she was never able to have a live birth.

    Charles was a very stubborn man and refused to give up parading his mistresses in front of Catherine. Unable to get a ship back to Portugal, Catherine was trapped. At the same time, Catherine refused to take his main mistress into service with her and this caused much grief.

    This is a sad and trying biography. I felt bad for Catherine, but knowing the mores of the day, it was okay for men to have affairs, but not women. It states that Catherine was aware of her brothers acting the same way, but forcing the other woman into Catherine’s face seems a bit much.

    This is a very well written and researched book. I found it fascinating. I will look into more of Sarah-Beth Watkins’ books. ~ Joyce Fox, NetGalley

AUTHORS YOU MIGHT LIKE
  • Mark OllyMark OllyMark Olly was born in 1962 in Warrington, England, and educated at Appleton Hall County Grammar Scho...
  • John KoernerJohn KoernerJohn Koerner is an adjunct professor of American History at Erie Community College and the founder o...
  • Tom ReillyTom ReillyAmateur historian Tom Reilly has almost single-handedly taken on the might of academia with regard t...
  • Chris ParishChris ParishChris Parish is passionate about the subject of Britain, having spent years studying the national cu...
  • Geoffrey IleyGeoffrey IleyGeoffrey Iley has been writing since childhood, but his working life was in manufacturing, where he ...
  • The Ropley SocietyThe Ropley Society
  • Richard Alexander OttoRichard Alexander OttoRichard Otto worked as an attorney at law in Connecticut for fifteen years. He began his career as a...
  • Nick LourasNick LourasNick Louras is an author and historian.
  • Merilyn MoosMerilyn MoosMerilyn Moos is a retired lecturer and writer.. She is the author of the semi-autobiographical novel...
  • Canon David JenningsCanon David JenningsCanon David Jennings is a parish priest and also Canon Theolgian at Leicester Cathedral. He has prev...
  • Donna BrysonDonna BrysonDonna Bryson is an author and freelance journalist living in Colorado with her husband and daughter....
  • David SunderlandDavid SunderlandDavid Sunderland is the author of five books and numerous articles on the economic history of London...
  • Sarah-Beth WatkinsSarah-Beth WatkinsSarah-Beth Watkins has been a freelance writer for over 20 years writing for magazines and websites,...
POPULAR TOPICS