This mystery was intricately planned out and executed and to set it in 16th century Japan with such mastery of the time period is amazing. The reader...moreThis mystery was intricately planned out and executed and to set it in 16th century Japan with such mastery of the time period is amazing. The reader is transported. As I'm reading, I'm seeing in my mind's eye the Shogunate, the town, Hiro and Father Mateo's house. It's this excellent imagery that really brings one into the story. And there are elements of surprise...and even whimsy. Case in point - the foreshadowing in this scene I will share here had me thinking that something alarming was about to happen. And low and behold...
"The attack came from behind and without warning. A dozen tiny daggers punctured Hiro's shoulder and upper back. He grunted with surprise and pain and tried to twist away, but the effort made Gato sink her claws even deeper into his flesh. Her free paw batted his hand and grabbed at the saying tail of hair.
"Ow!" Hiro grabbed Gato, determined to pry the kitten away before her efforts ruined his hair completely."
See! Hiro is attacked not by a human, but none other than his own kitten. A fine example of suspense transitioning to whimsy. Quite clever.
Not to say that the book doesn't have its moments of sheer suspense because it does. There is a murder and sinister doings afoot. Watching as Hiro and Father Mateo navigate the stringent customs of the Japanese Samurai while trying to solve the murder was indeed entertaining and interesting.
This author has a true talent in writing not only mysteries, but also capturing an entire culture in the pages. I can't wait to go back and read the first book in the Shinobi Mysteries, Claws of the Cat, and I look forward to her next offering, Flask of the Drunken Master. (less)
Tempesta's Dream is a book that is really about opera at its core. The author's passion for opera really shines through and that's what I liked about...moreTempesta's Dream is a book that is really about opera at its core. The author's passion for opera really shines through and that's what I liked about this book. As a music lover and singer myself, anything associated with music and its history is something I enjoy. The author really incorporates the history and music of the opera here.
However, the story itself was somewhat labored. While I enjoyed Giovanni as a character, his passion and ambition to achieve his greatest dream is highly admirable, the interactions between the characters could have flowed more smoothly. Giovanni and Isabella were supposed to have this great love, but I just really didn't feel it. In the end, the saving grace is Giovanni and the message that one should never give up on their dreams.
If you're passionate about opera, you should definitely read this book because there is a wealth of historical accounts included. This, and the unflinching spirit of Giovanni, make this a book which is worth taking a look at if one can overlook the slightly stilted story and dialog. Not bad for a debut novel. There's promise here so I will look forward to checking out the author's future works. (less)
Wow! That's the word I will use to describe this book. An unputdownable romp into history and the world of a murderer.
Set in 18th century Georgian Lo...moreWow! That's the word I will use to describe this book. An unputdownable romp into history and the world of a murderer.
Set in 18th century Georgian London and, more specifically, in a debtor's prison called the Marshalsea, this book took me completely by surprise. While I have been reading some great historical titles of late, I'm afraid I found myself getting into a kind of reading slump. This book has definitely pulled me out. It has been awhile since I've read such an atmospheric book. As I was reading, I was visualizing every scene and action as if I was right there in the middle of the action.
One thing that rings true in the book is that the London of this time was a very dangerous place, inside or outside the Marshalsea. Stumble into the wrong side of town and you were lucky to just come away robbed, not murdered. Being on the constant watch for misfortune had to be exhausting. Even more so for our illustrious main character, Tom Hawkins, inside the Marshalsea. Having to find out who murdered a debtor, who just happened to have been his look alike, while rooming with a man who may very well be the killer, Tom is poised on a perilous precipice indeed.
A reader of historical fiction couldn't ask for a more exciting and well-written novel than Hodgson's debut novel. I've heard that this is the first in a planned historical crime series and I really can't wait to read the next one. (less)
I love a good mystery. And what could be better than a mystery combined with one of my favorite historical eras, the Elizabethan age?! It takes a tale...moreI love a good mystery. And what could be better than a mystery combined with one of my favorite historical eras, the Elizabethan age?! It takes a talent to write a great mystery and also adhere to historical detail and this author has done just that. I'm thoroughly impressed.
I've had mixed feelings on Francis Bacon, as I've read other books with him as a character or background figure and it seems the portrayals are not always favorable. However, I really liked him in this book and his apprentice, Thomas, was a refreshing addition to the story.
The mystery itself is labyrinthine and carries much suspense. It's rare for a historical novel to be "edge of the seat" reading. Don't get me wrong. Everyone knows I love historical fiction and it can be exciting, but when you add an element of suspense to the genre, it's even better. I'm thinking along the lines of C.W. Gortner's Spymaster Chronicles or Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death series. This book is a worthy addition to that type of series and this too is a planned series so I'm looking forward to reading Bacon's continuing adventures.
I'm recommending this book to anyone who loves mysteries. Don't let the historical fiction genre dissuade you. Even if you do not normally read historical fiction, you are going to want to read this one purely for the excellent mystery writing. The historical bits are just icing on the cake!(less)
Mozart. One of my most favorite composers in history and someone I think I would have very much liked had I met him. This is my second fictional accou...moreMozart. One of my most favorite composers in history and someone I think I would have very much liked had I met him. This is my second fictional account of Mozart, the first being the 1985 Best Picture Oscar winner, Amadeus. In that account and in this book, Mozart comes alive and the love between him and his beloved Stanzi is evident and endearing.
Told from the point of view of Konstanze "Stanzi" Weber (her surname before she became Mlle. Mozart), we learn early on that Mozart is likable and fall in love easily. He first courts Stanzi's older sister, Aloysia, who treats him most despicably and shuns him, but it seems that this was divine providence because who he was meant to be with was Stanzi all along. However, despite their great love, Mozart was a very difficult person to be married to. I think what comes along with genius a lot of times is a sense of entitlement and Mozart most assuredly had that. It was hard not to feel sorry for Konstanze with all she endured and yet a nod must be given to a woman who stood by a musical genius whose music perhaps may have taken a different turn if not for his marriage to this remarkable woman.
What most impressed me about this novel was how well the characters and dialog were written. It became very easy to get lost in the story and almost feel like I was right there. It takes a talent to pull this off, especially in historical fiction that is set in the past. Waldron has written many historical novels and now that I've read and enjoyed this one, I can't wait to discover her others.(less)
Here in America, we learn in our history lessons in elementary school that King George III was a tyrant keeping us from our freedom. The truth of the...moreHere in America, we learn in our history lessons in elementary school that King George III was a tyrant keeping us from our freedom. The truth of the matter is we're not usually taught both sides of the story. In Queen of Bedlam, we are shown the other side of the story. That King George, who was very human, had real regrets about losing the colonies and cared about what his people thought of him. Of course, this is a fictional account, but even so, it is believable that this was the truth of the man.
I first learned of the illness that affected George III in the film, "The Madness of King George." Excellent film. So, when I heard about this book, I was immediately drawn to another telling of the story, this time from the point of view of his wife and queen, Charlotte, and two of his daughters. We learn early on that queen Charlotte expects the utmost decorum from herself and her daughters. No emotion must be shown. However, when things start to fall apart with the king, that decorum is very hard to maintain.
The author tells the story across the backdrop of the conflicts that were going on in France with the French Revolution and beyond and so we are shown the turmoil that was occurring at the time. Adding these external elements to the culture of the monarchy during George III's illness makes for a dramatic story. We experience the dread and disappointment of the daughters who are at marriageable age, but are unable to wed due to their father's status and prospective matches disillusioned by a fear of the family madness. All of these elements gave this novel a suspenseful feel. What will happen next? Will the people revolt, will the king hurt his family, will the daughters eventually find a match? It all plays out rather sadly, but the telling is so compelling, we must read on.
I was very impressed by this historical novel and will look forward to the author's future offerings.(less)