First things first, its Holy See not Holy Sea when referring to the Church in Rome, got it?
Sorry, had to say that Disclaimer: ARC read via Netgalley.
First things first, its Holy See not Holy Sea when referring to the Church in Rome, got it?
Sorry, had to say that.
This isn’t quite bad, and nowhere near as horrible as I thought it would be given the title. It is not a book; it is more of a pamphlet, and let’s be honest, the whole idea about inbreeding leading to the hemophilia that the Romanov son suffered from is nothing new. What was interesting was tying that to Henry VIII’s break from Rome in order to marry Anne Boleyn. If Ms. Vukoja had focused more on that aspect, this would have been far more interesting to any student of the English or Russian Royalty.
Vukoja cites Henry VIII’s break because it allowed, she claims, for more within family marriages, something that the Church frowned upon. Yes and now, there were some royal houses where inter-marriage was constant. Catherine of Aragorn’s sisters, for instance, married the same man at different times. A study of the rate of inter-family marriage before and after the break with Rome would have gone a long way into proving Vukoja’s thesis and made this much better. It is an interesting idea and plausible theory; it just needs more detail. In some ways, this reads like a thesis proposal as opposed to actual paper. I, for one, would like to see Ms Vukoja redraft this into something longer and more heavily researched with more analysis. Then it would be well worth reading. ...more
**spoiler alert** Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley. Note: There aren't any real spoilers, but the review can be seen as slightly spoilerish.
I wanted to l**spoiler alert** Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley. Note: There aren't any real spoilers, but the review can be seen as slightly spoilerish.
I wanted to like this I really did.
I should note that I read a translation, so maybe the original is much better in terms of style.
So let’s start with the bad and end with the good because there is some good in this book, and maybe for some people the bad really wouldn’t be bad.
Please note that I read an advanced proof of a translation, so my brief comments on style might not apply to the finished copy. The Horse Healer in a large part is an adventure story about a young boy’s journey to manhood in trying times after his family has been torn asunder. The boy, Diego, finds himself caught between Muslim and Christian forces. It would make a good mini-series on cable. The style, however, rarely rises above the level of a mediocre novelization of a movie. Now, this could be a translation issue, but there is nothing about the style that brings the reader into the novel, and the reader is always aware that they are reading a novel.
But the style wasn’t the major problem. Mediocre novelizations can be entertaining. The problem is Diego himself. Diego is Mr. Perfect. He is like the Luke Skywalker Marty Sue. All the women, even those old enough to be his mother, want him, everyone loves him (and those who don’t all the “bad” people), he is talented, thoughtful, and years ahead of his time. He impresses everyone, except the reader who just wants to smack him. Oh, and nothing is ever his fault, not really.
My tolerance for Mary and Marty Sues is at an all time low. Sorry. Diego’s perfection is only challenged by that of his younger sister who is he close to. She is only different from his other two sisters in that her name starts with a different letter and everyone loves her. Outside of that all the sisters are pretty much interchangeable.
And that’s another problem. Most, if not all, of the women in this book are types and not fully developed characters. The only possible fully realized female character is Fatima, but she gets so little stage time, it’s hard to say.
On a more “it’s me not the book level” we have the whole older sibling clichéd endings that I have seen so many times and as an older sibling get really tired of. That is me.
But there are some sparks and light in this book.
The sections with the horses are absolutely brilliant. When Diego refuses to let Sabba, his mare, be stolen from him, it is done in a believable way, and it is a time, a rare time, when Diego comes across as human, as a person as opposed to a Marty Sue. There is something off, I will admit, when you feel more for a death of an animal in a book than one of the human characters who you are supposed to know, but the relationship between the people (both men and women) and their horses is really well done.
The historical aspect is well done too. There is an immense amount of history relied though the writing, and at the very least, the book will make you want to know more about the era. In other words, this isn’t the type of historical novel that simply nods at the history; it uses it. Sometimes the wrong people (but never the really wrong people) die.
I also have to give credit for Giner’s use of both Muslim and Christian characters. While Diego is pro-Spanish, obviously, Giner uses Muslim characters who are sympathetic and not villains. Furthermore, he shows both good and bad from both sides of the conflict; if anything, Giner supports the little guy who is caught up in stupid power struggles. This even handiness in presenting something that is in part a religious war should be lauded.
While I can’t recommend the book, I can say that if your tolerance of the flaws is stronger than mine (and mine is rather low at the moment), you might enjoy this adventure story. ...more
When I requested this book from Netgalley, I thought that I hadn’t heard of Kawashima Yoshiko before. In this, I was wrong, as the book reminded me. IWhen I requested this book from Netgalley, I thought that I hadn’t heard of Kawashima Yoshiko before. In this, I was wrong, as the book reminded me. I had seen her as a character in the movie The Last Emperor. She is the pilot.
This biography is far more detailed than that brief character. Kaswashima Yoshiko was a Manchu princess who was given by her father to a Japanese man who had aided the royal family. She returned to China during and after World War II, and, this is isn’t really a spoiler, was shot by the Chinese government.
Birnbaum’s book starts with Kawashima’s death and then the chapters alternate between remembrances and myth, and Kawashima’s life as shown by proven facts. It makes for an engrossing read, even if at the end of the book Kawashima Yoshiko still feels as elusive as ever.
It seems as if this is not Birnbaum’s fault, for Kawashima had a tendency to embellish (if not outright lie) about some of her experiences. Additionally, Birnbaum is sorting though what appears to be self serving history on both the Japanese and Chinese sides. It is to Birnbaum’s credit that while she does deal with the trauma and pain of Kawashima’s life, she doesn’t let her sympathy for her subject overwhelm the narrative or her judgment. Sympathetic the book is, but Birnbaum does not paint Kaswashima as a victim or at least as solely as a victim. At times, it seems as Birnbaum finds her subject as annoying as those who actually knew the woman.
It is difficult if not impossible to psycho analyze a dead person, and Birnbaum does stay away from the temptation to do so. Therefore when she discusses the possible sexual abuse of Kawashima at the hands of her adopted father/guardian, Birnbaum cannot and does not provide a definition answer. Birnbaum is on surer ground when discussing and examining how being a product of two cultures, distrustful if not always downright antagonistic too each other, affected Kawashima, resulting in her dissatisfaction of both and an admitted feeling of not quite belonging (another possible reason for the cross dressing, one does have to wonder).
The inclusion of Hiro Saga, a Japanese woman who married the brother of the Chinese Emperor, is both a positive and a negative to the book. It provides balance by showing a woman whose circumstances is alike but slightly different from Kawashima’s. It allows the reader to place Kawashima’s experiences in a boarder and more cultural light. It also, however, at times, feels a bit like padding. Interesting padding, though one wonders why Hiro Saga simply doesn’t get her own book. (Don’t worry, she does. She at least wrote and published her autobiography).
The other flaw, if flaw is the right word, is at times a more than passing knowledge of the battles fought as Japan attacked China would have been helpful. My understanding and knowledge of the Pacific Theatre, in particular the battles on mainland China, are rather limited, a bit more detail about certain battles and maneuvers would have been appreciated. That said, it doesn’t limit the understanding of the text and sparks curiosity about the subject matter. Not a bad thing.
Hopefully Birnbaum’s book will make the story of Kawashima more widely known in the West as well as the East. ...more
Maybe not. I would have thought you would have been more snarky. This little kindle book outlines whatLinda Hilton, did you write this? Is this you?
Maybe not. I would have thought you would have been more snarky. This little kindle book outlines what Kindle independent authors need to do to please readers. In other words, how they need to do their job. It is somewhat humorous but far more serious in nature. ...more
This would make a good movie or mini series. It is a thrilling mystery set in London. For some reason, however, it feels a little too long. Perhaps beThis would make a good movie or mini series. It is a thrilling mystery set in London. For some reason, however, it feels a little too long. Perhaps because all the women are uninteresting crones or sex objects....more
So how cool is it that one of the most infamous spies in US history was caught by a group of CIA agents led by two women? Yep. That cool. I first hearSo how cool is it that one of the most infamous spies in US history was caught by a group of CIA agents led by two women? Yep. That cool. I first heard about the women leading the team in the International Spy Museum (go to it), and that made me pick up this audio book when it was one sale. It is very gripping. While Ames is the centerpiece, there is information about both women and how they conducted their careers. Additionally, there is a nice analysis of how stupidly Congress responded. Really worth reading or listening too. ...more
I first read Trifles when I was thinking about teaching it. It is a marvelous play, and to be honest, not everyone gets it right away. A shame really,I first read Trifles when I was thinking about teaching it. It is a marvelous play, and to be honest, not everyone gets it right away. A shame really, but that seems to be the point. The devil is in the details as it were and where does guilt truly lie is a question that concerns everyone, everywhere. Society too, sometimes at least, does shoulder some of the blame. This book is about the murder trial that inspired Trifles for Susan Glaspell covered the trial in her years as a reporter. One night, a wife wakes up and finds her husband dying beside her in bed. He has been stuck by an axe. She gets her children, the doctor, the law, and eventually after her husband is buried, she is arrested and charged for his murder. While the authors cannot solve the murder after so many years remove, they do offer possible scenarios. At the very least, the wife’s guilt is in question simply because of how the evidence was handled. The book details not only the crime, but the trial as well as dealing with the life of a homestead wife. Believe me when I say, Little House on The Prairie (the TV series) got it all wrong. The book offers not only a look at how women were treated at the turn of the century as well as how family was viewed. In some ways, we have changed, but in others, modern society still carries the echo. We all should do well to pay attention to this story.
I give the author full points for having tension between a couple because of her job as police officer. However, this is theNot my cup of tea.
I give the author full points for having tension between a couple because of her job as police officer. However, this is the second time I have tried to read it and I just can't get into very much. I do give it another credit nod for the friendship between the central characters.
I think its the romantic sub-plot that irks me, and at times it is a little too cute for me. ...more
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley. To change any portrait of Charles I of England to a saint’s image, simply add a halo. From the removal of centuries itDisclaimer: ARC via Netgalley. To change any portrait of Charles I of England to a saint’s image, simply add a halo. From the removal of centuries it is impossible for anyone in know to separate that portrait from the tragic ending. Charles I always seems about to weep or shake his head in disappointment whereas any portrait of his eldest son, Charles II, always seems about to knock some women over and tup her.
Killers of the King isn’t about Charles I or II, though both men hover over the narrative and take over in parts. Regardless, the book isn’t a hagiography. It is, as the title indicates, about the fate of the men who signed Charles I’ s death warrant, who arranged for his head to leave his body. The later Romans who turned a man into a de facto saint.
Of course, it isn’t quite about the men who killed the king or the men who tried to save the nation, depending upon whose side you are on. It’s about the hunt of them after the executions of Charles, a hunt that starts before the Restoration and continues long after.
While Spencer does seem to be more of a Royalist than a Roundhead, often the Roundheads are dealt with in a sympathetic matter, the cost that they paid, not so much in terms of blood but in connection, or lack thereof, to their families as some of the men are forced to become what were then, world travelers.
In America it seems that we look at the English Civil War in one (or a combination) of three ways: (1) A war that in some way lay the foundation for the American Revolution, (2) something those crazy Brits did that means nothing to else or (3) what are you talking about. Yet, Spencer shows that there is a connection that those outside of New England (and perhaps even there) have forgotten for some of the Regicides traveled to America, and some of the history about this event, in particular a story about a cow herd, show that the Revolutionary spirit was alive and well before the American Revolution, and in fact, indicate that Jefferson’s charges in the Declaration go back further than most people are aware.
There is also a connection to more modern concerns because the hunt for the Regicides went beyond the borders of England, in particular, to the Netherlands and that echoes those concerns we have today about jurisdiction and extradition. The case described in this book, reminds one of the capture of Eichmann by Israel.
Spencer’s style isn’t the best. Other writers, Ackroyd and Starkey for instance, have a far more conversational style. Spencer’s style borders on that of a lecture, but an entertaining one that doesn’t ignore the more interesting, if slightly less important, aspects of the story. Considering that I wasn’t fully aware of Spencer being that Spencer until after I started reading the book, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how good the writing was.
Highly recommend for those interested in British History. ...more
While I think this brief collection of three essays is good, I truly don’t think it is worth the price tag. The title is also somewhat misleading. BotWhile I think this brief collection of three essays is good, I truly don’t think it is worth the price tag. The title is also somewhat misleading. Both Christine Granville and Noor Khan have had plenty written about them. Granville has two books just about her, Khan has one biography and both women appear in any discussion or history of SOE. It’s a good introduction, but there are better books out there about the same subject. See the series published by Chicago University Press for instance....more