Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir

Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession (Six Tudor Queens #2)

(Caidyn)

DNF at pg. 155

1/5

I have no idea where I want to start this review. Generally, I love Alison Weir. If people want books, fiction or non-fiction, about Tudor history — which is the era I’m personally interested in — I will recommend her to them. I trust her history. Based on other books that I’ve read about this era, she does a good job and interprets facts generally fairly.

However, let her bias be known. Alison Weir has a strong dislike for Anne Boleyn. Which is why I have no clue why she wrote this book. I’m sure it’s a part of the book deal she has. She gets six books where she can write about the six wives. One book for each wife, so Anne is one of them. Here is proof of this whole thing. In her book, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, she calls Anne: “an ambitious adventuress with a penchant for vengeance” (pg.3 in my paperback edition). Alison seems to believe that Anne wanted to kill Katherine of Aragon and Princess Mary. Those are two things that were explored in this book, yet have no historical veracity to them.

I highly suggest you read these reviews as well, of people who read the whole book or most of the book. Charlie’s review is detailed and she read the whole book for a book review. She has also written a fiction novel about Anne and cares about history. Adrienne, on the other hand, did not read the whole book and did not leave a review or rating, however, I suggest that you read the comments for it because she does go into depth in some comments. She has also done tons of research into this era because she’s written books about Catherine Carey (Mary Boleyn’s daughter) and Jane Boleyn (the wife of George Boleyn). These are two people I personally trust a lot and their opinions matter to me. So, when they say a book is bad, I believe it. They know more about these authors and history than me.

Now, onto the review. I read less than 200 pages of this book, but I was horrified. Weir makes so many claims in this book and it’s horribly done. First, she alleges that Henry VIII is a rapist. I’m not saying that he’s a good man. He wasn’t. At all. He was a murderer, megalomaniac, narcissist, and likely had a few other mental disorders in there from whatever cause. For all he was, he was not a rapist. There are no historical allegations of it, so, therefore, there’s no point in actually making that theory. Weir posits it her book about Mary Boleyn, then carries it into here.

George Boleyn is also framed as a rapist. (This is something that Charlie and Adrienne go into more detail in for their reviews. I didn’t get far enough to read that part, but it was hinted at.) Again, George has no historical claims to being a rapist. The only place he’s called that is in a poem by Cavendish. No historical writing. This link can give more information than I can. And it basically tells you why Weir is completely wrong.

Weir also talks about Anne Boleyn and Henry Norris. For those who don’t know, Henry Norris is a man who was executed for treason and adultery with Anne. This comes about because Henry Norris was going to try to marry someone in Anne’s train as a lady in waiting, but he hadn’t proposed yet. Anne told him that he was “looking for dead man’s shoes”. Aka, when Henry died, Norris would want to marry her instead. Anne also, in her last confession said that “she had never offended with her body” against the King (pg. 536 in this book).

Weir says that this means that she offended him (cheated on him) with her thoughts. Not her body, but in her mind she committed adultery. Apparently, this means that Norris is the one who she put her affections on. There is no veracity for this whatsoever. Again, this is a theory that Weir cooked up and put in here. And it seems as if Weir is basing it off of a retracted confession Norris made after his arrest and the fact that he hung around her rooms a lot to flirt with a woman he was interested in.

Weir falls into the trap of going with the unfavorable opinions of Anne. Not just trying to kill people, but her looks as well. Sallow skin and some tiny hint of a sixth finger, I believe because both Anne’s supporters and enemies wrote about that. But, Weir talked about her terrible moles and on and on. Both sides never talked about that. No paintings of her show it. She was a beautiful woman, albeit unconventionally so. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have caught Henry’s eye.

So, we already have terrible history on the part of a historian. This is also awfully written as if Weir just wanted to get this shit over with. It’s so mind-numbingly boring that I couldn’t concentrate on the words. And this is one of my favorite historical figures. Hell, I have Anne Boleyn’s signature — or one of her reported signatures since we don’t know for sure — tattooed on my arm.

I know that people will probably comment on this review if it gets enough attention and shout at me about how this is fiction. It’s historical fiction. Authors are allowed to make their own things. They’re allowed to take facts and wiggle them around. Change them. And I agree with you. Yes, authors can take liberties. They should! They should have some pet theory and toy with it.

However, these pet theories should be based on facts. If there is no historical grounding or evidence for them, the theories are unsupported and should be dropped. Alison Weir has made a living off being called a historian. This is not acceptable, even for fiction.

Skip this book. Just skip it. Read some actual historical books about Anne instead. And if you do decide to read it, actually keep in mind that Weir is incredibly biased and you shouldn’t take her work as fact. Research if you find the topic interesting rather than blindly believe her.

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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Caidyn: 3.5/5
Chantel: 3.5/5

“The people fed on the magic and the magic fed on them until it ate their bodies and their minds and then their souls.”

We want to start off this review by saying that, yes, this book is very good. It’s an excellent book with a great plot and great characters. We plan on reading the rest of the series together over the next few months.

What this book suffers from is hype. All over Goodreads are rave reviews for it. Anyone that you’re friends with likely read and loved it, then will be gushing over the third book that came out a few months ago. So, of course, you hear about it. When you finally pick it up, you have all of these wild expectations for it. However, for the both of us, we didn’t see exactly what everyone else did.

The plot is spectacular. Magic has gotten out of control. It’s dangerous, too. Not just in the hands of the wrong person, like you see in Harry Potter, but in general. It can consume people if it’s too pure.

“Purity without balance is its own corruption.”

And that’s what happened in the different Londons. Yes, there are four, as most people know. Grey London is our London, back during the reign of George III. Red London flourishes. White London starves. Black London is dead. All because of magic. Each London had different reactions to what happened in Black London. Magic is fascinating in this story. It’s elemental, not fancy. It’s uncontrollable. It’s dangerous.

That was what kept us reading, really. The general plot of dark magic breaking free and Lila (from Grey London) and Kell (from Red London) being forced to come together to protect the world from it, and to keep the Danes (rulers in White London) from getting it. We loved the characters, too. Lila was very interesting and her strength made me smile, yet she had a certain vulnerability to her. Kell was strong and I loved that his weakness was his love for his adopted brother, Prince Rhy. (Who we both loved and found a sweet little baby that we want more of.)

The writing was equally great. It was eloquently done. Although Chantel did find some typos, it was still great. Just like the plot and characters, it kept the two of us reading since it was so compelling. It went well with the plot; quick, yet well-done. There was no long, awkward rambles about emotions like some fantasy books have. Everything was contained.

However, our two biggest problems have to do with the plot and characters.

Kell and Lila both felt like cardboard characters we could pick out from any other fantasy novel. That’s not a bad thing. You have to start from an archetype, then twist it and make it your own. It didn’t feel as if Schwab got that far. They were great characters, but not their own. Both of them needed more backstory — which will hopefully come in the next couple of books — and at times it felt like the side characters had more personality than they did. Lila was strong, but it felt utterly false and awkward. Kell was the typical quiet man with a chip on his shoulder. Those aren’t bad things in characters, just that we both wanted more after hearing them raved about by other reviewers.

Same with the plot. The focus of this book wasn’t on the characters, but the plot. Yet, all for naught. Without giving any spoilers to the plot as a whole, it wrapped up like a stand-alone novel. The Danes should have been villains for the whole series. The tension of pure magic should have been stretched out. It could have been a driver throughout the series, along with finding out with Kell and Lila their own backstory. If I hadn’t known there were going to be more books, we both would have sworn it’d be a stand-alone novel. There was so much drama that was tied into a neat bow, making us both wonder where it was going to end up.

Even with our two big problems, we’re both very optimistic about the next books. The plot and characters were compelling enough that we want to know what happens to them.

The Confessions of a Young Nero by Margaret George

The Confessions of Young Nero (Nero, #1)

(Caidyn)

4.5/5

Margaret George is an author I’ve been meaning to read for years now. I own her famous books about Cleopatra and Henry VIII. I’m pretty sure that I also own her book on Mary, Queen of Scots. However, her books are so long that I don’t have time to read them since I’m in my last year as an undergraduate. Reading for pleasure is a distant dream in my life. My saving grace is where I work; a warehouse that just allows me to listen to stuff all the time, so I listen to books. Basically, for a book that’s about 500 pages, it’s optimal for me to listen.

George doesn’t disappoint in her epic about Nero. She’s pretty well known for taking historical figures who have been slandered for whatever reason, then twisting the known facts in a way to make it them shine. This story starts in about 41CE and spans until 64CE. Basically from Nero being four to being twenty-three. It’s an epic in proportion, honestly. George handles all of the information evenly with good pacing. Nothing felt too slow or too fast.

Now, usually with historical fiction, I’ll go off and rant about historical accuracy. However, I don’t know much about Ancient Rome. My area was Ancient Egypt, mainly about Cleopatra. I know enough Roman history to get by. Everything I know about Nero is negative. He was frivolous, artsy, not fit to be Emperor. He fiddled as Rome burned. Not a good guy. George took that information then showed that he was good. She never disputed the bad things that he did do but put them into some perspective. That takes a talented author, honestly. Her afterward went through why she made these assumptions, logically telling you why.

There are only two things I want to critique about this book. The first is the length. As I said, it’s great with pacing. For how much information this book covered, it had amazing pacing. George didn’t leave anything out. Every so often, I’d check on Wikipedia about something to find that it happened or there were rumors of it happening. Some things I felt could have gotten left out. Just too repetitive and accomplished nothing. Same with the reiterations of parallels between Nero, Paris, and Apollo.

The second thing is the multiple POVs. Nero is the main POV. Then, there are two others. Locusta, a poisoner that he runs into multiple times, and Acti, a servant who is devoted to Nero despite ties to others. Both of those POVs added nothing to the story. It felt like it was showing over telling me what was going on. There were other ways to inject what they said and suddenly switching POVs for a chapter that were barely pages long, it just didn’t make any sense to keep it.

Because I enjoyed this book so much, I’m totally looking forward to the sequel to this book so I know how it ends, and I’ll have to try carving out time to read George’s books that I actually own.

Ghost Hunt, Volume 10 by Fuyumi Ono and Shiho Inada

Ghost Hunt 10

(Caidyn)

4.5/5

Right as I started writing this review, something outside my window creaked and I jumped. Pretty fitting for my reactions throughout this book. Usually, I don’t get scared when I read these — creeped out, sure, but not scared — since I’ve seen the anime. That will scare me, but it doesn’t translate to the manga. The volumes don’t always pack the same visual punch.

For some reason, the creators stopped at volume nine in the show. I came into this completely blind, meaning that I got downright scared. (Also listening to Spooky Symphony on Pandora didn’t help one bit.) Right from the start, it felt like some sort of swan song for the series. The last go. The last push. The last time to scare the pants of little ole Caidyn.

It picks up directly after the ending of volume 9, going in a direction that I wasn’t aware of. This volume is rather full of finding out more about Naru’s personal life — something I hope continues into the last two volumes — and uncovering some things about the group in general.

Even more surprising than it scaring me, Mai didn’t annoy me as much as she has from the first volume. Naru also wasn’t the same. He actually showed emotion, and for those who know Naru, him showing emotion is a big deal. Side characters were great as always. You find out things about them, little discoveries that were hinted at from the start. They’re all lying in some way.

The plot in this book is much like the first case, or volume one. They’re back in an abandoned school with the whole truth unknown. Instead, this time, things are being hidden from them, not that no one knows the truth. The whole truth isn’t being told. Rumors are all around them in the town. And, to top it all off, the school is pretty creepy.

Based on the sudden quality improvement, I’m really excited to read volume 11 just to see if the momentum started in this carries on into the conclusion to this case and the series as a whole.

Walking with Jesus: A Way Forward for the Church by Pope Francis.

Walking with Jesus: A Way Forward for the Church

(Caidyn)

4/5

I know that I’ve said this in other reviews, but I love Pope Francis. One of my favorite books last year was The Name of God is Mercy, another main idea in Pope Francis’ teachings. Christianity is about mercy. It’s a beautiful book and I suggest it whether or not you’re a Christian. And this is coming from a non-Christian.

One of the main messages of this book is, again, about mercy. How important it is. But, Pope Francis incorporates it into a bigger message about Jesus and his role in the Gospels. The point that struck me most was that most of Jesus’ teachings are done when he’s traveling somewhere. He’s constantly walking and moving. He’s in action, which should translate to Christianity. The Church should always be in motion, changing and adapting. I love that description because it’s true. A community should always be changing to remain an accurate community.

Pope Francis’ remarks always give me hope about Catholicism. The image that it comes with really isn’t accurate. It’s full of love and acceptance, even in places where you least expect it. This is another example of how that is.

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Stories of Your Life and Others

(Caidyn)

2/5

I’ll be completely honest about this review. I didn’t finish it. After the fourth story — which is the basis for Arrival — I decided to just stop reading it. The type of writing he does isn’t for me. While I enjoy sci-fi, especially speculative sci-fi, his just never went the way I wanted them to. Good premise, bad carry-out. He’s a great author, so this is completely subjective. I simply had read enough and I didn’t want to finish it when I realized how many books I have to finish or start.

Tower of Babylon – 2.5/5

Not the best opening for me. The short story is focused around Babylon in the Bible. For a while, I thought that it was about the Tower of Babel. So I looked it up to see if I was right. Completely wrong or close to wrong since that tower was in Babylon. Just not called that. This is set back in Biblical times, obviously.

I didn’t think that there was much of a point to this story. Not to me. I liked the story. It was written beautifully and it was told wonderfully, but I expected more speculation in it since I’ve read about Chiang focusing on speculative fiction. It wasn’t a bad story, just that the lack of an ending that made sense for the story, I wasn’t a fan. I wanted more to it, really. The story didn’t feel complete.

Good story, I just wanted more of it.

Understand – 3/5

Better, but still not great. I love the premise. A drug that can fix any type of brain damage. The implications of it are spectacular. Imagine the good that could be done for people going through dementia or have some sort of disability or whatever. Not only that, but the drug increases the brain’s ability. Amazing, right?

The carry-out wasn’t the best for me. It was definitely more speculative than the first story, but it wound up being some sort of weird action and adventure story. Without much action to it. Or adventure. I get that the point of the story was to show rationality to the extreme and what could happen to the human race through further evolution, but it was just too much for me. I would have preferred something else, even if it was a very interesting premise.

Division by Zero – 3.5/5

My favorite thing about getting involved in dense subjects is that when you get far enough in, the rules stop working. Like physics or chemistry. I always think of electrons. You learn in basic chemistry that this is how they work. They orbit in a way that we know. Then you learn about Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle that says we can never know where they are. Or you hear the research that has come out about matter acting differently depending on whether it’s watched or not.

For this, it’s about math. I’m no mathematician, but I have a basic understanding of it and I remember realizing in an algebra class that something we were taught contradicted other things… yet it didn’t. This short story really highlighted that. The more we know, the less we know and the more things we thought we knew fall apart. That story showed it in two main ways, which I can’t give away. Let’s just say that I enjoyed reading it from both perspectives.

Story of Your Life – 4.5/5

I’m going to start with this: Arrival was better. Just getting that out of the way. Watched the movie, stunned by it, and so that’s why I’m reading this short story book. Only to read one story. That being said, had I just read the short story, I would have rated it about the same and just said that it was missing something. Can’t quite put my finger on what, but the ending lacked the punch that I was hoping for based on the build-up.

Arrival basically gives you that punch. It changed some details, but not too many. It was almost the same. I could even pick out dialogue pieces from short story to movie. It’s a great short story, the best so far in the collection, just that it really did lack an impactful ending to make me feel like the story was worth it.

 

Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationship with Food Through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling by Anita Johnson

Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationship with Food Through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling

(Caidyn)

1/5

I’m going to start my review with this: If this strategy and/or book helped you in your recovery, that’s great! Good for you and I’m so happy that you succeeded. That’s a huge step and something to be proud of. Keep using this because it’s obviously working for you.

I had some problems with it. Obviously.

I think my biggest problem is the idea that a clinician really thought that eating disorders are caused by a disconnect from their original feminine nature. Modern life is too masculine and it cuts women off. I find modern life pretty feminine, honestly. It’s more masculine, sure, but it still has a pretty good balance. If you want the full quote, click here because someone who didn’t like the book put it in there. And they point out things I likely won’t.

This book only focuses on women who have eating disorders. That’s it. There’s no way men can get this because, well, men are the problem in the view Johnson has. She constantly talks about gender differences when, by fMRIs and other imaging software, neuroscientists have found there’s no such thing as a male or a female brain. There’s mostly overlap. Same with society. Most women are masculine in some ways. Most men are feminine in some ways.

She also ignores the trans community as a whole — transsexuals, gender non-conforming, non-binary, genderfluid, etc. I’m a transman and, for a while, I had a problem with eating. This was rooted in the idea that if I didn’t eat, I’d be small enough to be a dude. No breasts, no period. However, I love food too much and that utterly failed since I’d cave by lunch every single day.

This book just assumes that all women who have eating disorders are disconnected with their femininity. I would say that a lot of women who have EDs are trying to be more feminine, not less. They’re not disconnected, really. Just taking the idea and completely changing it, or trying to fit into what we say a woman should be.

All of that pissed me off, but I think the thing that honestly pissed me the most off was her comments about alcoholics and people who have substance abuse disorders in general. She basically says that people who are alcoholics drink because they want to. They aren’t trying to hide some sort of problem. There’s no underlying cause to their drinking. That is fucking bullshit. Talk to an alcoholic, maybe. Talk with them about why they drink and you know what? You’ll find something.

The thing is, with EDs and substance abuse disorders, you have to first treat the problem that they’re presenting. Their starvation. Their binging and purging. Their excessive drinking. Their heroin/cocaine/meth habit. Do that first. Get them off what their using and then you can treat the underlying problem that got them to use food or drugs as a crutch.

Anita Johnson, I really feel for the people who you treat at your clinic. I really hope that you don’t actually use this treatment or at least use it in conjunction with an empirically based treatment for women (since this “treatment” can only be used on women) who show an interest.

Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David

Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life

(Caidyn)

4/5

Self-help books aren’t always my thing. Like, they’re good and have truth, but they’re so watered down and oversimplified that I don’t know if they could ever work without someone putting a lot of effort into it. However, this one wasn’t like that. Watered down, yes, but relatively simple to tackle.

The strategy that Susan David has come up with is, to me, like a watered down Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). REBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy created by Albert Ellis. First, you focus on something that happens and your beliefs about it. Either it can be rational or irrational. The whole thing with REBT is to stop irrational thinking by thinking about your emotions and disputing them with different strategies.

Emotional agility is, in a sense, like that. You focus on your emotions and you rationalize them. You realize that they’re important for some reason, so accept them and then find a way to use them to help you. That’s the whole premise of David’s idea and it’s something I can get behind completely.

There are four main ideas to this that I caught. First, you have to feel your feelings. Don’t bottle them up or ruminate. Feel them, and then let go. Second, stress is okay. It’s healthy to feel stressed. Be whelmed, not overwhelmed. Third, and this is the biggest part of the book, is walking your why. What David means by that is to figure out what you want to do with your life. Find your values and do things that match them. Fourth, don’t overpraise kids. And fifth, allow children autonomy so they can figure things out themselves emotionally. Otherwise, you get the coddled kids who can’t handle real life.

My mom actually raised me in this way, so I know how important it is to feel your feelings and to accept stress and to do what is right for you. It’s healthy and the ways that David talks about these are very realistic. She didn’t propose any complete overhauls of systems we have in place but just talked about how you can do this in your own life. Doesn’t matter about changing other people, just work on yourself and find a way to accept your “negative” emotions.

Mental Health Awareness Month

(Caidyn)

May is Mental Health Awareness month. This topic is very close to my heart. I’m a psychology major and I plan on becoming a social worker. Whether that means that I’ll counsel people (which I have been doing for ages without training) or advocate for people without the counseling side, I know that I’ll be happy.

I have had my own battles with mental health. I’ve lived with depression for years. Anxiety is sometimes a part of my daily life. I have dysphoria. Both my gender identity and sexual orientation are in the DSM-5. So, I live with this.

That means I have some recommendations for everyone who wants them.

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You by Caroline Kepnes (My review here.)

This is probably one of my all time favorite thriller books, to be honest. I heard about it when people were raving about it and I hate jumping on bandwagons, but I did it. This book focuses on Joe Goldberg. A normal man…. at first. He has a classic personality disorder and burgeons on psychotic at times. Stalker, paranoid, and hilarious. He’s a great mentally ill character. And terrifying. Did I mention that?

Oh, and the sequel for it is pretty good, too.

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Luna by Julie Anne Peters (My review here.)

As I said, my gender identity is in the DSM-5. That means I’m transgender. Technically a transman, but don’t get me started about the specifics of names and how that naming system is completely off base now. You’ll have to read a lot about a topic you probably don’t care about.

I read this in high school, around my sophomore year. This was one of the books that helped me come out to myself. I haven’t read it since then, but it still holds a special place in my heart. Regan has a sister named Luna. Everyone else calls her Liam and refuses to accept that she is truly a she.

Now, I haven’t read this book since high school. These days, I’m not a huge YA fan and I tend to keep away from LGBT+ books because the topics hit too close to home for my liking. However, it was one of my favorites at the time and helped me a lot. You just can’t forget that being trans is classified as some sort of disorder. The DSM may say that wasn’t the purpose for it, but it is a consequence.

It's Kind of a Funny Story

Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (My review here.)

Another of my favorite books. Oddly enough, it’s YA. But, I read it in high school. The main focus is depression. Which is another part of my life, although it’s technically seasonal affective disorder. Meaning that I get clinically depressed, but only in the winter. Sounds fun, right? (It’s not.)

I’ve never seen the movie for this and I don’t personally plan to. I really enjoyed the book. In my review, I said it was YA but not really. It’s still something that a lot of people can relate to living with. The story is told in an amusing way. It was serious, but not too serious. Funny, but not too funny.

Impulse (Impulse, #1)Perfect (Impulse, #2)

Impulse and Perfect by Ellen Hopkins (My review for Impulse here. I did not review Perfect.)

Ellen Hopkins was* one of my favorite YA authors. Impulse and Perfect are a series. The same characters aren’t in both books, but there are common characters and threads that work their way into it. Suicide, depression, cutting, and eating disorders are featured in these books. Yes, all of that.** While these books may not be my cup of tea now, they were when I was in high school. They were topics I could relate to and feel with. They also were well-written and were good examples of common disorders teenagers and adults experience.

I performed a piece out of Impulse for a class. It was the point where someone was going to commit suicide, and I still absolutely love that part when I think about it. As for Perfect? I actually had the privilege to meet Ellen Hopkins. She read out of the book and talked about it.

If you want books that are very sad but deal with common problems that teens face, give her a try. She’s an excellent author when writing about something she’s passionate about. Her Crank trilogy was a fantastic look into addiction. Her Tricks series was amazing and a great glimpse into the good and bad of sex work, although I’ve only read the first book. Identical was amazing, although the disorder is a spoiler for the plot so I can’t say any specifics.

*I’m not a fan of her new stuff. The past three books that I’ve tried from her have been complete duds. So, I’m taking a long break since I’m not much into torture porn these days. Because these books are torture porn.

**See why I call it torture porn?

So, there are my recommendations for Mental Health Awareness month. What are your favorite books about mental health?

The Delight of Being Ordinary by Roland Merullo

The Delight of Being Ordinary

(Caidyn)

DNF at 25%

1/5

I had such high hopes for this book. Some sort of dialogue between Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama. Sure, it’s fiction, but if someone does their research right about the religions and what each man actually has said to show their theology, then you’ve got a good book. Point out the similarities between the two religions while showing the differences. You have to have a happy medium between those two.

Not this book.

Basically, it has potential, but it was carried out in a way I wasn’t impressed with. There are four characters in this book. Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, and two fictional ones. Paolo and Rosa. Estranged husband and wife. Paolo is also cousin to Pope Francis and works with him as well. The way the description for this book phrases it, it puts Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama as the main characters, tagging on Rosa and Paolo to this. Aka, religion is first.

Not the case.

Paolo is the one telling the story of how he broke the two men out of Vatican City because the Pope asked him to as a favor. So, instead of getting hard hitting religious dialogue, you get Paolo worrying and then fighting with Rosa, his very sexual and estranged wife. (I say sexual because she talks about sex a lot. And it felt out of place most of the time.)

I get the point of this book. Paolo is the typical everyday person with their own problems and not open to hearing wisdom. Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama teach him the religions. He learns and changes his ways. Not worried, get him and Rosa back together, etc. It was just so bad how it was done. I don’t want to hear all about Paolo and his issues.

I’d suggest to skip this book and just go for books actually about the two religions and the two men. You’ll get more out of it.