The Professor’s Assassin by Matthew Pearl is a prequel to his latest novel The Technologists. The regular reader of Pearl will know that he does not dThe Professor’s Assassin by Matthew Pearl is a prequel to his latest novel The Technologists. The regular reader of Pearl will know that he does not disappoint the reader looking for an engaging historical fiction novel. His short story about a professor who is determined to find out the identity of a murderer at the University of Virginia and bring him to justice is no exception. Pearl’s talent for tantalizing the reader with thrilling tales shines through once again. William Barton Rogers (later to be the founder and president of MIT) is the science professor at the University of Virginia and is startled to discover that the riots of campus “volunteers” have turned deadly. Rogers is the first to want justice when one of his colleague’s is slain in the street at the hand of a student and volunteer. With his prodigious knowledge of the area and the help of other students Rogers goes on the hunt for the person responsible so he cannot kill again.
Pearl, as in his novels, creates a character in Rogers that makes the reader want to follow him into the darkest alley to find out who has committed the crime and bring that man to justice. From the first page we, the reader, are captured and cannot leave until the thrilling end.
The short story is riveting and leaves the reader wanting more. The short story also includes sample chapters from Pearl’s upcoming novel, The Technologists, which if the sample is any indication of the rest of the novel is going to be phenomenal. Trust me readers of historical fiction, mysteries and thrillers… you will not be disappointed with The Professor’s Assassin.
“William Barton Roger’s eyes tracked the bursts of light in the darkness outside. The other men in the room kept away from the window, as though there was somewhere to hide.” (Kindle Location 33-36).
“Jack would not be so limited forever. Nor would Rogers. More choices would come-they must.” (Kindle Location 944-49) ...more
Holiday Kisses: A Holiday Romance Collection by Shannon Stacey, Jaci Burton , HelenKay Dimon, Alison Kent and Angela James (Editor) is a collection ofHoliday Kisses: A Holiday Romance Collection by Shannon Stacey, Jaci Burton , HelenKay Dimon, Alison Kent and Angela James (Editor) is a collection of short romance tales all with the theme of Christmas. The first story is “This Time Next Year” is one of a woman who finds herself stranded on the side of the road on the way to visit her grandmother for Christmas. Just at her moment of need a cowboy comes riding to the rescue, pulls her to safety and together they find out just what it means to have someone they love at Christmas.
The second story, “A Rare Gift” is about a man who has no interest in women after a disastrous marriage that is why it takes him by surprise when his ex-wife’s younger sister begins to grow on him during a work project. Now with the holidays approaching he finds himself asking whether or not he can put his trust in love a second time.
The third story, “It’s Not Christmas Without You,” is about a woman who breaks up with her boyfriend in order to accept her dream job in the city. Still in love with her boyfriend she cannot bring herself to go home for Christmas. When her boyfriend, who is also still in love, discovers this he is determined to bring Christmas to her in the city in hopes that after Christmas she will come home with him and resume their love story.
The last story in this romance short story collection is, “Mistletoe and Margaritas.” Two years after losing her husband a woman still finds herself not quite ready to move on. However, she still believes in love and is not surprised when her needs start to manifest themselves in her dreams. What surprises her however are the feelings that she has begun to develop about her best friend, Justin. As it turns out he has always had affection for her and when they find themselves at a holiday party together they are no longer able to conceal their true feelings for one another.
I have to admit there are few times when I rate a romance novel higher than 3 stars. This collection started off with great promise the first short story actually engaged me in it’s story line before moving on to the “romance” part of the novel (read here the lusty love scenes). For short stories they actually did take their time letting their characters fall in love and all of them stuck true to the holiday theme. What made this book dip below the typical 3 stars I will give a romance novel is the graphicness of the love scenes. Call me a prude but I have read many Sandra Brown novels with some pretty intense love scenes that did not make me say, “Well now THAT is just going too far,” this collection made me say that more than once. I am sure there are many readers out there that enjoy those type of love scene but for this reader it bordered on erotic fiction and outside the taste of this reader.
People who enjoy romance novels however will more than likely enjoy this collection, as mentioned earlier the contributors do take their time to develop a story between their characters and many of them are enjoyable page turners, the only real problem with this collection is that according to the taste of this reader some of the love scenes were just a little too much.
I have to admit that there is nothing like the drama of palace life that intrigues me. The gluttony, the power hungry willing to do anything… when donI have to admit that there is nothing like the drama of palace life that intrigues me. The gluttony, the power hungry willing to do anything… when done right it can create a real pager turner. That is why this reader very rarely turns down the opportunity to read a historical fiction novel especially one set in the 18th Century. The only downside to fondness for such literature is that there are many such novels out there and not all are worth the read. The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great by Eva Stachniak is worth the read.
Varvara the daughter of a bookbinder from Poland is an innocent girl who believed that the word of the Empress was truth that could always be depended on. After the loss of both her parents Varvara, was taken to the palace where she believed the Empress would care for her because after all the Empress did give her word to her father. She was disappointed to find that she was just another ward who was invisible to everyone because she was considered a no one. It was not until she learned to see what others would not see and listen to the words meant to be kept secret that she rose through the ranks.
Completely satisfied with being a tongue for the Empress Varvara’s (Barbara’s) only wish was to be at the Empress’s side just as she had promised her father before his death. It was not until Sophie a young countess brought to marry Peter III did Varvara ever feel the need to protect someone other than herself and began to question the cruelty of palace life. Together Sophie, later to become Catherine the Great, and Varvara took a small girl and made her Empress of all Russia.
The story of how Catherine the Great rose to power is not that unusual in the historical fiction world. What makes The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great stand out however is the choice of the protagonist. Varavara is the only character we hear from in the book. It is through her eyes that we watch the fall of old power and the rise of new power. It is through her that we discover just how far people are willing to go for power.
This book is a great read for those who are interested in 18th century historical fiction and Catherine the Great. Heck if you just want a good read and are not really interested in either you will enjoy this book. As I mentioned earlier in this review it is a page turner. The only thing that I was disappointed with was the ending. I do not want to spoil the novel for anyone so I will not go into great detail about the ending but let me just say that I felt there were loose ends that needed to be tied up at the end and the ending felt somewhat abrupt and not as satisfying as I hoped it would be. All that said, it is a fantastic book worthy of at least one read.
As a side note I would just like to express my extreme pleasure at how prominent books were in this novel. Any bibliophile would adore this novel simply for the descriptions of the books that surrounded Varvara and the power that storytelling alone had on everyone in the novel.
Publication of this novel is scheduled for January 2012.
Note: I was given this book for review. In no way does that fact effect what was written in this review. ...more