Bernice, a large and rich fish in a small pool is staying with her cousin in New York, and finds out that she...moreListened to as part of Craftlit podcast.
Bernice, a large and rich fish in a small pool is staying with her cousin in New York, and finds out that she is a small and rather boring fish in a large pool.
Her cousin Marjorie (after being overheard slanging her off after yet another disaterous party where men are bribed to dance with Bernice) tells her some home truths about what Bernice has to do to make herself popular - and it doesnt always involve her having lots of money or telling boys of what car she likes to drive best.
Bernice follows her cousin's advice about her conversation technique etc at parties, but invokes her wrath when she successfully (if untentionally) "steals" away Marjorie's best man Warren.
She is dared to "bob" her hair - by going into a barber's hair which turns into an "ugly as sin" cut. Little does she realise this was a trap set by Marjorie, the day before a significant and final party of the season.
Bernice realises that she's made a mistake, and that it was Marjorie's spiteful nature (and her own gullability) that got her into this situation. She decides that it's best if she leaves before the party, as she knows it would be impossible for her to recover. However, she decides there's a parting gift she can give to Marjorie.
Fitzgerald gives us a story where by everyone is shallow - both men and women, and women can be spiteful to each other especially where they feel threatened. Nobody really comes out well from this story, where everything is about appearance, and substance rarely comes into it.(less)
For starters, Harry Flashman is expelled from school as a drunken bully. After seducing his father's mistress, he begins a secret life that leads from...moreFor starters, Harry Flashman is expelled from school as a drunken bully. After seducing his father's mistress, he begins a secret life that leads from the boudoirs and bordellos of Victorian England to the erotic frontiers of her exotic Empire. Along the way he lies, cheats, steals, fights fixed duels, betrays his country and proves a coward on the battlefield.
Let's face it: Flashman is not really a nice guy. He's a bully, a coward, a rapist, a racist and a drunk. His survival instinct means that he manages to get out of scrapes that can (and does) kill everyone around him. People around him mistake his cowardice, and resulting survival against all odds, as some form of heroism.
Kicked out of Rugby, and having been blackmailed from one regiment to the next after marrying one of his conquests, he ends up in Afghanistan in the late 19th century - at a time when the British are to make one of their more ignoble retreats back to India. Whole regiments are slaugtered around Flashman, due in no small part to the incompitence of the officers around him. [written in 1969, decades before 9/11, this is a fictional illustration of why the West will never win in Afghanistan and would be lucky to come out with a draw].
Did get a bit bored with the tediously long chapters and the constant battles, so not sure I'd like to read a sequel.(less)
Rory Alleyn, giving a lecture, recounts a particularly interesting case involving his wife, art fraud, and a criminal team upon a boat.
Alleyn's wife T...moreRory Alleyn, giving a lecture, recounts a particularly interesting case involving his wife, art fraud, and a criminal team upon a boat.
Alleyn's wife Troy, having just had an exhibit installed, is about to return to London when she sees a last minute cancellation on a 5 day boat trip around "Constable Country". Knowing that her husband is in America on a lecture tour, and that she would be returning to an empty flat after an exhausting time preparing for the show, she takes the trip on the spur of the moment.
There she meets people of several different nationalities, including the English born doctor (of an Ethiopian father), an Australian priest, a rather annoying and intense English woman and an American brother and sister.
Troy finds out that her cabin was to be taken by a Greek man who has subsequently found dead in London.
Troy writes several letters to her husband, giving her impressions of not only the passengers but some of the peculiar events that happen to her in the first few days. Alleyn is back on the plane home by the time the first body is found.
Troy is (conveniently) shipped off to a local hotel as the book's focus shifts to her husband and his investigation of racism, art forgery, murder and crime syndicates.
This was an audiobook from Audible. and read by James Saxon (who has read other books, including others by Marsh). He is very capable in doing multiple accents and this certainly aids the "listening experience". (A brief look implies that he died in 2003).
The multiple timelines was a little difficult to settle to (Alleyn giving a talk about a time he was in America giving a talk whilst his wife was getting involved in an art crime), but on the whole, it was a diverting and pleasant time spent.
Listened to the free Librivox recording, and the narrator was well suited to the story.
I've always meant to read this and I'm not sure what I was expe...moreListened to the free Librivox recording, and the narrator was well suited to the story.
I've always meant to read this and I'm not sure what I was expecting to happen. I thought that perhaps the headless horseman appeared more often, but this was pitched just right. In Sleepy Hollow, not long after the War of Independance, when many lives were lost, ghost stories have been built up around what happened.
Ichibod Crane, the school teacher, has been courting one of the local women, much to the dismay of others who would like to also court her. He has become aware of the local war stories - both the British and the Americans can past nearby - and these stories are repeated at a local party thrown by the father of his beau. Once the party finishes, he stays behind to talk to the girl but gets turfed out with a flea in his ear not long after - Irving not going into detail. He has to ride his horse through the haunted area, only to be chased by the headless horseman.
Crane is never to be seen again, and rumours abound for a while about what happened and whether he is still alive
Good haunting story, and well suited for a reading on a dark and stormy night.....(less)
Summer, 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII's invasion of France has gone badly wrong, and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Chan...moreSummer, 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII's invasion of France has gone badly wrong, and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel. As the English fleet gathers at Portsmouth, the country raises the largest militia army it has ever seen. The King has debased the currency to pay for the war, and England is in the grip of soaring inflation and economic crisis. Meanwhile Matthew Shardlake is given an intriguing legal case by an old servant of Queen Catherine Parr. Asked to investigate claims of 'monstrous wrongs' committed against a young ward of the court, which have already involved one mysterious death, Shardlake and his assistant Barak journey to Portsmouth. Once arrived, Shardlake and Barak find themselves in a city preparing to become a war zone; and Shardlake takes the opportunity to also investigate the mysterious past of Ellen Fettipace, a young woman incarcerated in the Bedlam. The emerging mysteries around the young ward, and the events that destroyed Ellen's family nineteen years before, involve Shardlake in reunions both with an old friend and an old enemy close to the throne. Events will converge on board one of the King's great warships, primed for battle in Portsmouth harbour: the Mary Rose..
Shardlake has two main causes to follow in this book: the current Queen Catherine Parr (latest wife of Henry VIII) has asked him to investigate that the wardship of two orphans, one of whom has subsequently died. On his way down to the Solent, he also decides to investigate the case of one now agraphobic woman who has been "living" in Bedlam for 19 years despite having no commitment papers.
As his investigations continue it appears the two cases are linked. Waters are muddied by lies, murders, threats and the wider case of Henry VIII preparing for war with the French - again.
The descriptions of the practicalities of war are good - the dirt, the poor food, the fleas, the desertions, the ships gathering in the Solent.
I did find that the secondary story line of the Bedlam investigation was a little forced in order to bring the main story to a head.
I have read the Shardlake books as they've come out, which has meant that in some cases there's been a big gap between stories, leading me to forget much of what has gone on before. There's a couple of (to be honest) unsubtle references to what has happened before, and some of the characters have been met before with a long term grievence between them and Shardlake.(less)
On the plus side, it's a detective story, set in the early days of both the Railways and the Detective Section of the Met Police. The author seems to...more On the plus side, it's a detective story, set in the early days of both the Railways and the Detective Section of the Met Police. The author seems to have done his research, such as having the detective arrive by train into Birmingham at (then correct) Curzon Street, rather than New Street or Moor Street (the current two most frequently used train stations between London and Birmingham).
On the negative side: It read like the author's first novel, which apparently it isnt. The book is riddled with stereotypes: the Irish ex-policeman kicked out the force for drunken fighting who makes his living as a bouncer in a rough pub; the slightly dim-witted and subserviant sidekick; the head of the detective division being harassed by the press and causing friction with his detectives by stopping them doing what they want to do; the well dressed detective who likes bending the rules almost to breaking point.
On the whole, a decent read, but I'm not sure that I'd continue with the series(less)
Not *quite* as good as Miss Buncle's Book, but still pretty good. Barbara is now married to Arthur Abbot, and bored of the socialising they seem unabl...moreNot *quite* as good as Miss Buncle's Book, but still pretty good. Barbara is now married to Arthur Abbot, and bored of the socialising they seem unable to get out of, they decide to move instead.
Finally they find a place that Barbara can "do up" whilst allowing Arthur to still work in Town.
Apart from Sam and his new girlfriend, the supporting characters are not as "large" as in the previous book, but that might be a good thing, to prevent Stevenson from repeating herself. This time the focus is much more on Barbara and Arthur and it is very sweet.
Set in the mid-14th century, this is of an isolated village in England, where the old religion hasnt quite been usurped by Christianity. The obligator...moreSet in the mid-14th century, this is of an isolated village in England, where the old religion hasnt quite been usurped by Christianity. The obligatory witch lives on the edge of town, the gargoyles on the church are still a little too paganistic for some and the "outlanders" are still to be suspected.
These outlanders include the Squire and his family, who is still despised after generations living there.
The Beguines - a group of women who are near nun-like in their vows to the Church, but work in the community - are also outsiders, and are to be suspected even more when their crops dont fail and their livestock dont succumb to a local disease.
The priest has been sent down from Norwich to serve penance for doing more than breaking his vow of chastity.
Told in various different voices this is a page turning read and only took a few days to finish. There were a couple of characters who you did wonder what they were there for apart from showing what life was like back then (e.g. the leper, the two children who lost their mother in a flood). I also thought that the battling against the owl master by the Servant Martha at the end was just a little too.....simple? easy? I dont know...(less)
A Book I never read as a child, and one I've tried to read once or twice as an adult and have now completed!
Anne is a little Pollyanna-ish, all positi...moreA Book I never read as a child, and one I've tried to read once or twice as an adult and have now completed!
Anne is a little Pollyanna-ish, all positive and seeing the good things in life, despite being an orphan. She is adopted by a brother and sister, who had wanted a boy to help on their farm but got Anne by mistake.
The next few years sees Anne grow up, hating her bright red hair and freckles, and getting into constant scrapes, much to the consternation of Marella.
It's a reminder about how young people are when they are considered to be adults - Anne trains to be a teacher and accepts the Avonlea job at 16 years old. Girls are also considered not worth filling their brains up with "teaching stuff" much into their teens.
Glad now that's another "must read" book I've crossed off the list, not convinced I'll read another in the series (less)
The Weavers’ grip on Saramyr’s rulers has grown ever more powerful, and all the while, the blight they have brought grows harsher. The land is slippin...moreThe Weavers’ grip on Saramyr’s rulers has grown ever more powerful, and all the while, the blight they have brought grows harsher. The land is slipping into civil war. In the mounting chaos, Kaiku and the orphaned heir-Empress must fight for their destiny and their survival, as Saramyr succumbs to the twisting of the Weave and the unknowable ambitions of the secretive Weavers.
Second book in the trilogy. I read the first book about 5 years ago and enjoyed it enough to keep an eye out for the other two books in the series (I generally avoid multi-book stories).
This is *almost* standalone, in that it's enjoyable to read having forgotten much of what happened in the previous book. It is however, not completely standalone, with relationships and groups established in the first book, that dont get explained again in this second book.
e.g. Who are The Red Order again and why are they trying to keep so hidden? That's not necessarily a fault of the book, more of the reader and the gap between books.
Meanwhile, different groups of rebels are split across the country (sorry, but a map is no good, when half the places mentioned in the story are not on it), making new friends and gathering intelligence against the Weavers. People driven to madness, Weavers are already mad and shown to be more than perverse, people are attracted to the Weave and try not to succumb. Overall an enjoyable book, and I must not wait so long to read the final book
Many people believe that Dr Jekyll is "pure good" and Hyde is "pure bad" but in reading the book, you realise...moreListened to as part of Craftlit podcast.
Many people believe that Dr Jekyll is "pure good" and Hyde is "pure bad" but in reading the book, you realise that it's not as clear cut as all that.
This is the story, told not from Jekyll's side, but from those who come into irregular contact with both Jekyll and Hyde, and see the effect that the latter in particular has on society, leading up to him murdering an old man in the street.
It's a short book, and it's only late on that you get to hear (via a confession letter) what has been going on. Jekyll has been experimenting and was aware enough of his transformation into Hyde, to the point he did his best to seperate out both sides of his life, and protect the good from the bad. It soon became apparent however, that Hyde wasnt going to be kept under wraps and Jekyll realises that at some point he was going to be subsumed by Hyde's more powerful and delinquent personality(less)
Miss Buncle, now on reduced means, writes a book about the village she lives in. It gets published under the nom du plume "John Smith", and to her sur...moreMiss Buncle, now on reduced means, writes a book about the village she lives in. It gets published under the nom du plume "John Smith", and to her surprise is a publishing sensation, turning her fortunes around.
However, not all of the villagers are happy. Miss Buncle has portrayed them as they are, and some take offence, particularly those who are not portrayed in a particularly bad light. ("It's not me, I'm not like that, but it's clearly me and I declare it libel!").
Months are then spent trying to find out who John Smith is and when incorrectly identified, the woman is persecuted, snubbed and her children kidnapped. Meanwhile other more positive outcomes occur as a result of the book - the Colonel and his next door neighbour get married, and the vicar escapes the clutches of a gold digger who thinks he has more money than he does.
And Barbara Buncle gets more than she ever imagined.....
A book within a book, within a book, it is a lovely afternoon read, well worth the republish by Persephone.(less)
Received May 2011 from Faber and Faber via the Early Reviewers on Librarything.com. Will assume it's an Uncorrected Proof when reviewing, though this...moreReceived May 2011 from Faber and Faber via the Early Reviewers on Librarything.com. Will assume it's an Uncorrected Proof when reviewing, though this has not been explicitly stated.[return][return][return]Review:[return]I read the prologue the day I got the book, then put it aside to concentrate on the current read (The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt - zzzzzzzzz). Anyway gave up on that book yesterday in favour of this, and I'm glad I did. Starting with chapter 1, I initially thought it had forwarded onto a 21st Century setting - the main character descending into his favourite coffee shop and being served ahead of the irregulars who were already there. It wasn't until later in the chapter that you realised the story was set not long after the abolition of slavery. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing that during the whole story you dont actually know what year it's set in.[return][return]Anyway, the story progresses on in a fast paced measure, as Inigo starts to investigate the discrepancies in the port ledgers for one trading company in particular (with which his family have a vested interest) and the disappearance of his lawyer mentor.[return][return]When I put my name in for this book I had recently read March by Geraldine Brooks which was set during the slavery period in America and had some quite brutal depictions of how slaves were treated on the plantations. The transportation of slaves in tight, cramped conditions was covered in The Devil's Mask but was less confrontational - the focussing on woman was a suitable touch.[return][return]One thing I was struck with today: During the story, Inigo gets beaten up (several times), has walked through rain, mud and sewage, stayed up all night over several nights. I think there's one mention of changing a shirt (but no shoes or trousers); One quip about his hair after walking in rain; however, no other changes of clothes, no "Inigo, what's with the thick ear?" after the fight in the pub, no little children running away/making fun of beaten up faces; One mention about a bruise on his belly (but his face pretty enough to have escaped any damage whatsoever) and apart from multiple cups of coffee and one meal with his father, apparently Inigo doesnt eat, doesnt wash or change his clothes and rarely sleeps. At all. And considering the lack of other description of either Inigo or any other major character, the multiple reference to Inigo's hair did begin to grate after a while[return][return]Overall, I enjoyed it, it was well written and suitably paced (less)