I have to admit, I'll read anything George R. R. Martin puts out before The Winds of Winter comes out, I'm that desperate to read more about WesterosI have to admit, I'll read anything George R. R. Martin puts out before The Winds of Winter comes out, I'm that desperate to read more about Westeros and the people who are unlucky enough to live there. So I gobble up preview chapters avidly, and eagerly seek out these pseudo-historical tales about the history of the Targaryens. I really enjoyed the last offering, "The Princess and the Queen", but this one seemed very much like a rehash of the former.
It's not that I don't like the Targaryens, I do! But it is very hard to read about them, since so many of them share the same name, and they marry each other a lot, it gets very confusing. I found myself having to read sentences over and over, trying to determine who was who. I also felt that the short story wasn't really about the titular "Rogue Prince", Daemon Targaryen, it was mostly about the people around him, and once again, a rehash of the story in "The Princess and the Queen", events leading up to the Dance of the Dragons.
I don't mind having read this story, I'd probably read Martin's grocery lists at this point, but I must say I was a little disappointed. On the bright side though, the anthology the story came in also included a great Neverwhere short story by Neil Gaiman, and I really loved that one....more
I've been loving the Phryne Fisher mystery series, but this one left me a little disappointed. For one, the story takes Phryne away from Melbourne andI've been loving the Phryne Fisher mystery series, but this one left me a little disappointed. For one, the story takes Phryne away from Melbourne and all of her delightful family and companions except for Dot. The lack of those fun characters really took something away from this book. It was interesting to read about her going to Sydney, but I'm sure it would have been even better had I known a bit more about the city. Also I hated every dull passage about cricket, which is a completely incomprehensible sport to me. I'm sure Greenwood knew what she was talking about, but I did not enjoy reading about it.
As for the mystery, it was a bit of a mess. There were just too many side plots and red herrings and strange motives. I kept getting the university students and professors mixed up, and Greenwood didn't do an amazing job of keeping everyone distinctive. I would much have preferred if she had focused on the search for Dot's sister. Instead, there was some bizarre foray into the world of mysticism and possession. I really wasn't a fan of the strange Isis worship.
I'll keep going with the Phryne series, but I'll definitely say this one wasn't my favorite....more
I really enjoyed this third installment of Phryne Fisher's adventures, in which she and her maid, Dot, are traveling to Ballarat on the overnight traiI really enjoyed this third installment of Phryne Fisher's adventures, in which she and her maid, Dot, are traveling to Ballarat on the overnight train. In the middle of the night, Phryne is awakened by a sharp, cloying smell, which she quickly identifies as chloroform, and discovers that one of the train's passengers, an elderly lady, has been murdered. Soon she becomes embroiled in the strange drama of the family as she stylishly works out who was the culprit. The secondary plot in this novel involved an even more unsavory story than murder: child slavery.
Admittedly, I listened to this book on audio quite a while ago, and quite quickly as well, so I've already forgotten a lot about it. But I do remember enjoying Stephanie Daniels' lovely narration, as well as the antics of Bert and Cec, and that the resolution to the novel was very satisfying....more
As with the first book in the Phryne Fisher series, I enjoyed listening to Flying Too High as narrated by Stephanie Daniel. She does a wonderful job oAs with the first book in the Phryne Fisher series, I enjoyed listening to Flying Too High as narrated by Stephanie Daniel. She does a wonderful job of bringing life to all of the different characters, and there's something decadently lush about her "Phryne" voice. It's at once seductive and comforting, just like Phryne herself.
I thought the story was little lacking in this book. The plot revolves around two cases. In the first, the daughter of a man recently come into money has been abducted for ransom. The culprits are a despicable pedophile, a money-grubbing woman, and her honorable but coerced husband. The little girl is rather precious and clever, managing to sway the husband to her side before his wife and co-conspirator can hurt the girl.
The second case is the death of a local businessman, who, by all accounts, no one liked particularly well. He was emotionally and sexually abusive to both his wife and daughter, and overall a cruel man. His son comes under immediate suspicion, but his mother is adamant he's innocent, and it comes to Phryne to prove it. What ensues is action-packed, including high-speed chases with airplanes!
Though this second in the series was not as attention-grabbing as the first, I will certainly still be continuing with the Phryne Fisher series. As of writing this review, I'm already on the fifth book, with no signs of stopping anytime soon. ...more
Diane Setterfield's debut, The Thirteenth Tale, was one of my favorite reads in the last few years. I recently reread it, in light of the new televisiDiane Setterfield's debut, The Thirteenth Tale, was one of my favorite reads in the last few years. I recently reread it, in light of the new television movie which aired last year, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Sophie Turner. I snagged Bellman & Black at the library, hoping it would live up to the elegant Gothic style of the first, and I do believe it did.
The book is centered on a man named William Bellman, son of a poor and unloved second son. After his father leaves him and his mother Dora, Bellman begins working at the fabric mill of his uncle, and soon makes himself indispensable to the operation. His work ethic and innovations help the mill to become even more successful than it already does, and it's not long before his uncle begins to think of him as another son. Bellman's good fortune continues as he meets and marries a beautiful and kind woman, Rose, who gives him two daughters and two sons in quick succession.
Bellman's life is darkened, however, by the shadow of a careless and cruel act he performed as a young boy. While with his cousin and friends in a field, he picks up a stone and uses his carefully built sling to fire it at a tree where many rooks come to nest. The stone kills a young rook, and Setterfield implies that that action is at the heart of a ripple effect that eventually brings death and destruction to William's life. After undergoing terrible tragedy, Bellman decides to start a new business with a mysterious man he has seen at too many family funerals. Fittingly, that business is named Bellman & Black, and it is a funeral outfitter, providing all services that may be necessary in the wake of someone's death.
Setterfield spends a great deal of time in the novel talking about Bellman's businesses, the mill and the Bellman & Black, delving into great detail on every aspect. I loved reading these sections, as they were engaging and also informative, Setterfield clearly did her research on Victorian era mills and businesses. At the same time, she inserts small interludes about rooks, who are all descended from Thought and Memory, the companions of Odin. I had never known much about the animals, except that they are supposed to be quite clever, even able to use tools. But Setterfield wrote about them in a way which made them seem dark, mysterious, and brilliant.
This novel has cemented Diane Setterfield in my authors to watch list. When her next novel comes out, I will definitely pick it up as soon as I can....more
This audiobook had been languishing in my collection for quite a long time before I chose it as my next bedtime listen. I was prompted to start when IThis audiobook had been languishing in my collection for quite a long time before I chose it as my next bedtime listen. I was prompted to start when I saw that the television series based on these books, "Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries" was so popular on Netflix.
I think the proper name for this kind of book is a "cozy mystery," wherein sex and violence are written about in a humorous way, and the name definitely applies. Phryne Fisher, accidentally named for an ancient Greek courtesan, resembles her namesake in many ways. She is confident, stylish, and lavish in her spending. At the same time she is resourceful and street smart, due to her upbringing in a poverty-stricken family in Melbourne before the deaths of several young men in her extended family elevate her to rank and fortune.
Phryne finds herself bored with the aristocratic scene in England, and amuses herself by solving small mysteries amongst her set. After one such instance, an acquaintance asks her to go to Melbourne, Australia and find out what is wrong with their daughter, who seems to be ill every time they see her. They fear she is being poisoned by her husband, and charge Phryne with finding out the truth. She takes up the challenge, and travels to Australia where she quickly gathers a motley crew of helpers, including a maid, Dot, two taxi drivers, Bert and Cec, and Dr. Elizabeth Macmillan.
As the group investigates, they find themselves embroiled in a drug ring, revenge plots by fallen Russian aristocrats, and various other adventures. The action is well-written and Stephanie Daniel does a lovely job of narrating the novel, though I must admit I don't care for her Russian accents, they seem a bit too broad. Otherwise, I thought this to be an excellent introduction to Phryne and her friends, and I immediately sought out the second in this delightful series to listen to....more
"Don't judge a book by its cover" I'm really not a fan of that phrase. If I followed it all the time, I wouldn't read half of the great books I read n"Don't judge a book by its cover" I'm really not a fan of that phrase. If I followed it all the time, I wouldn't read half of the great books I read now. I picked up this ethereal and deeply affecting novel because the cover struck me as unbearably beautiful. There's just something about the script against the blurred portrait of a woman's profile, and the color scheme that reached out to me. And the decision paid off.
This novel is about the death of Agnes Magnusdottir, and the weeks leading up to it. She was the last woman to be executed in Iceland, but she was also so much more. The story revolves around Agnes yes, but it is also about the family who must care for her in the weeks before her execution. They start out as unsympathetic and churlish towards Agnes, whom they know to have killed two men. But as time goes by, they begin to learn her story and grow to care for the doomed woman.
As they do, so does the reader. Agnes begins telling the story of her pitiful, thankless life that begins with complete parental abandonment. As a poor girl in the isolated wilds of Iceland, Agnes must hire herself out as a workmaid, doing hard labor in harsh environments. Until she meets Natan, the man who she loves and then, is accused of killing.
Kent does a wonderful job of evoking the atmosphere of Iceland in the 1800's. Her language is beautiful and evocative, and I found myself saddened upon finishing the novel, and not just for Agnes....more