Can I just say wow!? This is my first foray into this author's work and I'll tell you, it won't be my last. I was hooked from the very first word. I cCan I just say wow!? This is my first foray into this author's work and I'll tell you, it won't be my last. I was hooked from the very first word. I can always tell when an author really has something to offer, especially in horror, and Mr. Shea definitely has it.
One premise that makes a great horror novel in my eyes is the creep factor and this book has that written all over it. Eddie sitting in his apartment surrounded by various dead figures brings new meaning to, "I see dead people." Man...I would NOT want to be him. The visual of the pretty blonde women with the black eyes, speaking to him psychically, "Perfect, not perfect. Perfect, not perfect" over and over again was completely unnerving. Throw in the creeptastic Ormsby House (and island) and its history and it's nail biting time, folks!
Jessica and Eddie are terrific characters. Just the right shade of messed up, but with a quiet strength in both of them that comes from enduring a lot in their short lives. I realized that this book is a continuation of the Jessica Backman series and so I will most certainly be getting my hands on the other books...sooner than later.
This was an impressive horror novel. As I said before, the creep factor is what draws me in and keeps me. It's what I deem a must in great horror stories. This book has it and I highly recommend it....more
My first introduction to Camille Claudel came in the form of the 1988 French film of the same name, Camille Claudel so I entered into reading Rodin'sMy first introduction to Camille Claudel came in the form of the 1988 French film of the same name, Camille Claudel so I entered into reading Rodin's Lover knowing a bit about her. However, the film did not quite capture the depth of her character as this book has.
Once again, the author has completely captured the character of Camille, as she did with Napoleon in Becoming Josephine. Camille struggles with being a woman in a man's world and fights for her independence at every turn. When she comes under the tutelage of Auguste Rodin, her work continues to grow, but their tumultuous affair starts to take its toll on her. Always a passionate and outspoken person, Camille begins to exhibit signs of a mental disorder which is later confirmed as schizophrenia. The excellent writing brings her struggles and triumphs to light in vivid color and so, makes it all the more difficult to read the eventual tragedy of her life. In those days, it was so easy to put a woman away in an institution and so, Camille had little say when her beloved brother has her committed. One can only wonder what she more she could have accomplished had she not been struck down with mental illness and then put aside as an inconvenience and burden.
The author has written another excellent work of historical fiction. Her exquisite prose and captivating characters really make this book a must read. She is clearly becoming one of my favorite authors in the genre....more
I read this years ago...can't even remember what year, but since the mini-series is coming out soon, I felt I should at least list and rate it on hereI read this years ago...can't even remember what year, but since the mini-series is coming out soon, I felt I should at least list and rate it on here. This was a book that has stayed with me. A truly wonderful and memorable read....more
I have always been fascinated with Pompeii. I remember being so excited, at just 15 years old, when the mini-series, The Last Days of Pompeii aired onI have always been fascinated with Pompeii. I remember being so excited, at just 15 years old, when the mini-series, The Last Days of Pompeii aired on television (based on the novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton). My fascination did not wan with age, as I learned more by reading books and watching countless documentaries on one of the greatest historical tragedies. When I was approached with reviewing this book, I jumped at the chance.
This novel has a unique perspective because it is six interconnected stories told by six different authors. Each story takes place on the day Mount Vesuvius erupted. To say that the stories are interesting and exciting is to say the absolute least. These authors are the cream of the crop in historical fiction and their talent truly shines here, with historical accuracy and authenticity.
No punches are pulled, as Pompeii is depicted as it truly was, as proven by historical archaeology and research. This famous city was not only a bastion of Roman civilization, but it also had a dark side of greed and debauchery. Its great tragedy has allowed us to see what it was really like from the graffiti kept preserved by the very ash that destroyed it. The authors here have chosen not to sugarcoat things and that decision makes for an outstandingly original work of historical fiction.
I highly recommend this book not only for lovers of historical fiction, but for anyone who appreciates a great story filled with memorable characters and excitement. ...more
A new year is about new beginnings and that is exactly what happens to Scrooge, as we know from the classic tale, A Christmas Carol, but also for JacoA new year is about new beginnings and that is exactly what happens to Scrooge, as we know from the classic tale, A Christmas Carol, but also for Jacob Marley, the illustrious ex-partner of Scrooge. The man we know so little about...until now.
Bennett has taken the beloved classic and flipped it so we can see things from Jacob's point of view. Unlike Scrooge, Jacob came from a loving family. What turned him into such a harsh, grasping soul? It's hard to say, but one thing is certain, he was instrumental in turning Scrooge into the same kind of man as himself. In fact, even more so in his greed and unkind nature toward his fellow man. When Marley departs this earth, he repents and realizes what he has done to people, and to Scrooge in particular. This is Jacob's story of redemption on the path to redeeming Scrooge.
I was very excited to read this book, as A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite books of all time. I am so glad I did. Another classic tale of second chances and how Christmas can be the time for us to forgive and learn and grow, to become better people, to ourselves and those around us. Jacob T. Marley deserves to be on everyone's Christmas reading shelf to be read each year, reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas and really, what being a good person is all about. ...more
Okay, so yes, I finally read this! It's amazing to me how old this book is. It seems like yesterday when my parents were reading it and then they sawOkay, so yes, I finally read this! It's amazing to me how old this book is. It seems like yesterday when my parents were reading it and then they saw the film and came home saying how bad it sucked. HaHa. I agree with that observation. I read somewhere that the reason King himself was not happy with Kubrick's adaptation of the book was because he made the Jack Torrance character so unsympathetic. And he's right. In the book, we get to experience the gradual downward spiral of Jack, despite his faults and mistakes in the past. He really remains a sympathetic character because King makes it very obvious that the hotel is in control. I just never really got that from the movie. And the horrible miscasting of Shelley Duvall as Wendy is a travesty. The character of Wendy in the book is nothing like Duvall's depiction.
Anyway, I didn't mean this as a review of the film. I just wanted to make some comparisons because I have never really liked the film and after reading the book, I like it even less. The book is so much more detailed and we get to learn a lot more about the history of the characters and the hotel which is something I always look for in a book. I want to know what led us from point a to point b; something a film adapted from a book is usually very hard-pressed to accomplish. Also, there are some very genuinely creepy scenes. I will never quite look at hedge animals the same again...or tunnels in the snow (no worries on that since I live in Tennessee now). As usual, King succeeded in telling me a good story while supplying me with the creep factor I love. Can't wait for the upcoming sequel, Doctor Sleep! ...more
To me, few things are better than a great stand alone historical novel. I knew that the author had a talent for the historical fiction craft way backTo me, few things are better than a great stand alone historical novel. I knew that the author had a talent for the historical fiction craft way back when I read, When We Were Gods: A Novel of Cleopatra, (in my pre-blogging days). And he does not disappoint with East India.
What the author does best in this novel is to really bring out the true grit of what travel by sea must have been like in the 17th century. I certainly can't imagine being on board a ship, in cramped and less than hygienic conditions, for seven to eight months at a time. And yet, this book had me feeling uncomfortable because it did make me imagine what it was like and I was thankful that when I was able to tear myself away from reading it, I was safely in my comfy home. And not only was there far from ideal comfort on board the ship, but there were constant undertones of danger and gossip. Mutiny seemed to always be a possibility among the ship's crew.
The main character, Cornelia, is a high ranking lady and beautiful as well. So, of course, she is admired by some and vilified by others, thinking she's haughty and high minded. What struck me about her was that she was just really unhappy. A loveless marriage and the thought of travelling to be with the man she did not love, coupled with the arduous sea journey could not have been a happy time for anyone. What befalls her only makes matters worse.
What we learn in East India is that a good portion of the seven deadly sins are very present aboard ship and this leads to a very tragic outcome. Not only is East India historically accurate (am I the only one who has never heard of a bosun or a provost?), but it also does an excellent job of showing us human nature through the vivid characterization and action. As I was reading, I could picture each character - what they looked like and what they were about. It was like watching a movie in my head.
The author has quite a back list of novels, some of which are sitting on my 'to be read/to be reviewed' stack, and after reading East India, I know I'm in for a treat in my future reading. ...more
Stephanie Thornton has earned herself a permanent place in my roster of favorite historical fiction authors. I mean, is there anything this woman can'Stephanie Thornton has earned herself a permanent place in my roster of favorite historical fiction authors. I mean, is there anything this woman can't write!? As she did with her first two novels, The Secret History and Daughter of the Gods, once again she has created another strong and heroic female character. And not only do we have the strong central character of Borte, but we have the other "women of Genghis Khan" who were also strong and heroic in their own right.
In The Tiger Queens, we get to hear the story of the women behind the legend of Genghis Khan. As any person who is obsessed with history, I have long been interested in Genghis Khan and his exploits. Now with this book, we get a glimpse of the inner workings of his life and who was really influential to him. Although this book is not non-fiction, it is so finely researched that I felt I was learning history along the way. And I always say that one of historical fiction's jobs is to spark enough interest in the reader to spur them into seeking more information on the subject, whether that be learning about it online or reading books about it. This book has definitely done that and then some!
And returning back to the character of Borte. Despite being read a prophecy by her mother that she would be responsible for great destruction in the future, Borte seeks to overcome this foretelling and bands together with the other tiger queens to ensure the happiness of their family, and the greatness of their people. Who doesn't love a character who overcomes adversity for the greater good? I know I do!
With The Tiger Queens, Thornton has firmly secured her place as one of the historical fiction greats. The glorious thing is knowing that she is hard at work on her next novel. I cannot wait for it! Please, if you have not read her books, take it from me. If you love historical fiction, or even just a great, well-told story, this is the author for you. ...more
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 LoWow! 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. ...more
There are a few authors that I count among my favorites in the historical fiction genre and this author is one of them. He has a unique voice in the gThere are a few authors that I count among my favorites in the historical fiction genre and this author is one of them. He has a unique voice in the genre and his books always tell their stories in an interesting and engaging way. In this slim volume, he incorporates fiction alongside non-fiction seamlessly. And he has brought us full circle back to the subject of his excellent novel, Virgin and the Crab...his beloved Elizabeth I.
I think I hearken a kind of kinship with this author due to our mutual love for Elizabeth I. And he really brings what I believe to be her true character to the forefront in this book. Elizabeth loved her men and here we are given biographical accounts of each of these men, followed by a vignette of Elizabeth and each man (and one of the man's wives) interacting. These are short sketches and yet they really bring forward in authenticity what these intimate interactions must have truly been like. Perhaps the genuine article of Elizabeth is best captured in various quotes and passages throughout the book. There were several that I really enjoyed. I will share one of them here:
"Well, I also have a formula of my own, Bess - a very special one concerning how the court of England might survive and function under its present climate. For yes, it is true, inevitably I have about me men who also subdue each day their scheming for my approbation. That is how I have kept the gift of peace for the people of this nation for so many decades. That is my formula. And do you think I do not contemplate the weakness of the argument from time to time, as well? Do you think I do not weigh each day in the balance those forces of right and wrong - of tolerance on the one hand for those who are virtuous, and retribution on the other for those who are evil? Every day I must seek that balance. A thousand eyes see everything I do and judge me. I have no life, no privacy, no joy. And yet because I am a woman, when they come to me, even the most powerful men are tamed. They seek for a moment, instead of gold and riches, the approval of their Gloriana, their Virgin Queen. They wait for a smile or touch of my hand as I pass, and live here in a place where the poet is as worthy as the soldier; where a master of music is as treasured as he who would forge a cannon - and they must lift their snouts from the trough occasionally in order to do so. That is how it works, Bess - the charade and the festival of the Virgin Queen."
This quote completely captures what Elizabeth's reign must truly have been like. It is obvious that Elizabeth held the happiness of her people and the peace of the land in the highest regard over everything else. I always feel that Elizabeth was a keen observer of her father's rule, and the history of his reign. How he jeopardized so much for his personal predilections in the guise of seeking an heir must have appeared to her keen mind a mistake she did not want to make in her own reign. Again, it is these determinations and conclusions the reader is able to make of Elizabeth's mind from reading this excellent volume.
I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in history and historical fiction. ...more
I have always been fascinated by Edgar Allan Poe. Besides being absolutely in love with his literary works, I've also considered him an enigmatic figuI have always been fascinated by Edgar Allan Poe. Besides being absolutely in love with his literary works, I've also considered him an enigmatic figure who is, and was, widely misunderstood by many people. It turns out that the author of Mrs. Poe felt the same, as evidenced by her wonderful depiction of the man in her book. I have also become intrigued by Frances Osgood, someone I knew very little of before reading this book. The depiction of Osgood in this book is beautiful. I felt like I was listening to the story of a friend. Perhaps I felt akin to her because I too am raising my children primarily alone and I am also a writer. But it's more than that. She is the classic representation of the insecurities that women face, especially women of her era when women were, in many minds, best suited for duties on the home front.
Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was the introduction of all the historical and literary figures to the story. Frances' visits to Anne Lynch's salon conversaziones introduce us to characters who are so interesting and lively...and menacing. Who could have stood their ground against the formidable Margaret Fuller? What a bear of a woman. Even Louisa Alcott made an appearance (love her), although sadly, we didn't hear much from her.
The subject of Mrs. Poe, Edgar's young wife, is a strange one. I did not know that he had married his cousin and that she was so young when they married. That's an intriguing story. I won't say too much so not to spoil the story. However, she was an odd character and I have to admit to getting mildly creeped out by her early on. For instance, she mimics the voice of Fanny Butler because she was not happy about her close interaction with her husband. Well, this gave me chills. Some excellent foreshadowing of what was to come.
Mrs. Poe is a terrific historical novel. The author presents a story of Poe that I believe has never been told and succeeds in giving us a picture of him that is much more refreshing than the rumors of the past. I admit that I have several of the author's books, but this is the first I've had a chance to read one of her novels. I'm very much looking forward to reading her previous works and her future offerings....more