WARNING: Do NOT read the first Editorial Review at Amazon, just titled Review (it says it's a Kirkus review after the fact), it gives away the whole bWARNING: Do NOT read the first Editorial Review at Amazon, just titled Review (it says it's a Kirkus review after the fact), it gives away the whole book. Here's a link to a good review: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2N2VZK2...
I enjoyed this fast and easy Gothic read - my first Anya Seton book! Not much to say, the plot was predictable, yet absorbing, the characters were fine - although Miranda was a bit too distant as the heroine, and the little historical tidbits were interesting, although they didn't quite flow with the storyline.
One of the reasons I read this is because I've seen the film version of Dragonwyck playing on TCM and/or FMC, and I plan to catch it next time! :D...more
The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper was an enjoyable foray into the adventures of Miss Eugenia "Gennie" Cooper. She was a thoroughly likable charaThe Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper was an enjoyable foray into the adventures of Miss Eugenia "Gennie" Cooper. She was a thoroughly likable character with plenty of spunk and personality. When I requested this book, I didn't realize it was Christian Fiction and more romance than purely historical fiction. The latter doesn't matter much since I like romance, but since I'm neither Christian nor religious in the traditional sense, I hoped it wouldn't be too preachy a book. Luckily for me, the faith was written into the storyline seamlessly and in a believable manner.
From near the beginning the book left me wanting to know what would happen with Gennie and Daniel, what excitement lay ahead, etc. I did have doubts at how the book would actually end, even if it seemed as if it would be a bit predictable. While I do think Charlotte came around to Gennie too quickly, it was welcome and made it easier to like a child whose behavior was bratty and obnoxious. My biggest problems lay in the whole big "misunderstanding" in the hotel room. I felt that plotline was too forced and the author felt there needed to be a huge hurtle for the two leads. I'd rather a more western adventure for Gennie, full of trouble (like a Mae Winslow episode). Speaking of Mae Winslow, the excerpts (or whatchamacallits) at the beginning of each chapter detracted from the story and made it halt; I felt it unnecessary and it didn't add anything to the book as a whole. Maybe some of those would have been better added into the story or an extra at the end of the book. Lastly, and I may have just forgotten (I have to admit to rushing the last part of the book so I could finish it! :P), what happened with all the mine problems and what was the point of bringing that into the story in the first place? Maybe I just missed something. Otherwise I found the book well-written, entertaining, and hard to put down. Now I'm wondering if Miss Anna Finch will have her own story. :D...more
I had heard of Artemisia before but never really knew her work or much about her. I loved the way Susan Vreeland captured the spirit of Artem4.5 stars
I had heard of Artemisia before but never really knew her work or much about her. I loved the way Susan Vreeland captured the spirit of Artemisia's paintings with where she is in the book. I really enjoyed looking at her paintings as I read and seeing some of her father's work and Caravaggio's using another book. I did feel that the last third felt a little rushed and wish it had actually been longer so Vreeland could have gone into more detail in the absences between the years. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am now interested in reading more about Artemisia and her life and paintings....more
What a struggle! For over one-hundred pages, I slogged through mediocre writing, awkward and stilted dialogue, and then just as it's starting to get iWhat a struggle! For over one-hundred pages, I slogged through mediocre writing, awkward and stilted dialogue, and then just as it's starting to get interesting, the author decides to stop and skip almost a year! Then the plot continues where it left off and plods on for the remainder of the book.
The heavy-handed use of religion is the least of it's problems, which should have at least have fit in better and not tossed like an oversight. I could not sympathize with any of the characters, the reader only got a cursory look at them, with Madeleine being worst of the lot (what a twit). The history is superficial and thrown in randomly; it rather reminded me of a children's book or show where they're being taught by an adult. Not to mention two years pass and there is no sense of it, we're just told in ten-twenty pages, not shown. That was an opportunity wasted right there and could have been the most interesting aspect of this novel. IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN KING glossed over way too much and what remained was boring and stale.
Maybe the casual reader or more devout will enjoy it more, but I would have given up after fifty pages if I didn't have to review the sequel, A PRISONER AT VERSAILLES, and thought I should read this first. Hopefully, it will be much better because I'm really dreading it....more
A PRISONER OF VERSAILLES is an improvement over the first in the series, In the Shadow of the Sun King, but still only an okay read. Readers who are iA PRISONER OF VERSAILLES is an improvement over the first in the series, In the Shadow of the Sun King, but still only an okay read. Readers who are interested in the series would benefit from reading the previous entry beforehand, as this does not standalone.
I don't generally read Christian fiction and would not have gotten this had I known ahead of time that it was an Inspirational novel (and the second in a series besides). Since that is partly my fault, I still decided to give it a fair chance and see if the basic plot could overcome my worries. Sadly, it didn't, but not necessarily because of the religious usages, which could be over-the-top at times, but mainly due to a plot that's rather unoriginal and uninspiring.
I did find myself enjoying the first half of the book, but then my interest started dwindling as the story lost my attention. Unfortunately, the main character, Madeleine, still isn't fleshed out enough for me to care what happens to her, but unlike the first book, there were a few characters who were better drawn out: Pierre, Philippe, and Robert. However, since Madeleine is supposed to be someone who readers should care and root for, this is a big downfall for the story.
All in all, the book is better written, the story flows better, and the characters have improved since the last novel, but I seriously doubt I'll look for the conclusion to the series. 2.5 stars...more
4.5 stars After reading THE BLOOD CONFESSION, I find it a bit surprising that this is specifically targeted to young adults. Not that they wouldn't app4.5 stars After reading THE BLOOD CONFESSION, I find it a bit surprising that this is specifically targeted to young adults. Not that they wouldn't appreciate or like it, although I don't know how much the appeal would be to that age range unless they're especially morbid (as I was and still am), but because of the subtle nuances and intricate study of character, morality, and belief system, which is well suited for adult readers as well. The book is mainly a character study and the author does a fantastic job bringing Erzebet to life, while slowly and believably evolving her into a mentally ill woman. I never could quite figure out if she was narcissistic, schizophrenic, suffering from some sort of body dysmorphic disorder, something altogether different, or all previously mentioned.
The writing is solid and I found myself sinking into the world Ms. Libby created, with it's brilliant Gothic atmosphere. The pacing had a few slow spots, but nothing that made the book come to a screeching halt. I confess to a few queasy moments thanks to an overactive imagination, but the gore is minimal and the author doesn't romanticize blood letting or murder for vanity.
What I should warn readers is that comparing this Erzebet Bizecka to the real Erzsebet Bathory would be a mistake. This fictional Countess doesn't have much in common with the legendary figure and is only (very) loosely based on her. That Erzsebet Bathory bathed in blood is an unfounded rumor and no one really knows why she killed these girls or how many. Some even say she was framed. Unfortunately the truth is lost to history and we'll never really know.
Only a few quibbles keep me from giving it a perfect rating, but all in all, it was an absorbing read. A couple of lingering questions remained, such as how exactly did Erzebet's mother go insane? I can guess what could have helped it along, but I don't really believe that's all it would have taken. What happened to Snow at the end?...more
I'm having a remarkably hard time gathering up my thoughts to review THE FRUIT OF HER HANDS. The book is a mixed bag as far as I'm concerned.
Overall,I'm having a remarkably hard time gathering up my thoughts to review THE FRUIT OF HER HANDS. The book is a mixed bag as far as I'm concerned.
Overall, the book was informative and easy entertainment, but it lacked depth. For the most part the characters were either good or bad, with no shades of grey, which made them unrealistic and led to my feeling of detachment. Shira was a sympathetic and capable main character during the first third of the book and looked to be an interesting Medieval wife. Unfortunately, after she became married, she lost her personality. I realize that it was an accurate portrayal of Jewish wives back then, but Shira had been scholarly, while still seeing to her duties, up until this point and then turned into a boring protagonist. What set her apart and made me want to read about her was her attitude about learning the Talmud like the men. What interested Meir in the first place was Shira, who he thought unusual; not that I was shown their love, I was just told about it. The chemistry was lacking between them, but that may be in part that I didn't get a good sense of who Meir was as a person, other than he was brilliant, a revered scholar, et cetera. No one felt real in this book and that's a shame.
What was perhaps done best were the details and information about the Jewish people and their faith. Generally, it was written into the story quite well, even if Shira was conveniently placed right in the way of big events. I learned much and am grateful for the history of that time. My one problem with it was that although I felt the pain and suffering the Jewish endured, it was just a little too clean. More realism and grit would have added much to the book.
Perhaps the scope of the book did a disservice to the story as a whole, and it might have benefited a few scenes taken out. As a whole, it's a decent book and a good debut, but it still lacks that something that makes me what to say "read it"....more
Well, the Bronze Horseman started off well enough. The love story between Tatiana and Alexander was beautifully written and engaging for the first twoWell, the Bronze Horseman started off well enough. The love story between Tatiana and Alexander was beautifully written and engaging for the first two parts of the book. Then in the third part, entitled Lazarevo, the book fell apart. Barely any plot, I could have skipped it and not missed much at all. Not to mention Alexander took a turn for the worse. He always was a bit short-tempered before, but he was ten times worse and became way too possessive of Tatiana for me to consider this romantic at all. Truthfully, it didn't feel like it belonged in this book and nearly made me abandon the book altogether. Nevertheless, I trudged through the 157 pages and got to the fourth part. Finally. After reading the first page, the writing and story already appeared better, more like how the book started, but it didn't really catch my interest again until the last sixty pages. That was the turning point and now, after thinking I wouldn't, I probably will pick up the next installment of their story.
As far as the characters and plot, Tatiana will not be for everyone, she's pretty much a saint throughout the whole book. I mostly liked her, and yeah, sure she was a pushover, but hey, different time, different culture, I could accept that. What I had a hard time with was how Alexander kept seeing her (selfish, irredeemable) sister. What the heck? Why couldn't he have just broken it off with her? I never understood that, as it didn't seem to be a cultural thing, and it just ended up being a weak plot device. The war-time scenes were very good though and I could feel their hunger, their numbness, their fear, all of it was well done. So, as I said, I will read the next book and hope it continues with all the good this book had and very little of the bad....more
Soon after the 100-page mark I lost interest in the book. While it's not bad, it spends more time in the sixties (present day when it was written) thaSoon after the 100-page mark I lost interest in the book. While it's not bad, it spends more time in the sixties (present day when it was written) than the 1800s for my liking. Perhaps in the future I'll get it from the library again, but right now I have too many books to read and don't feel like struggling through this to the end....more
I have tried for about three months to read this book and I just cannot get into it, so I've finally decided that after reading more than half and stiI have tried for about three months to read this book and I just cannot get into it, so I've finally decided that after reading more than half and still not liking it, to finally give up. For the most part, the writing is technically good, but it lacks depth and I could really do without the author switching viewpoints with no notice. One second I'd be reading one point of view and then the next paragraph would be someone else; I don't like that type of writing, I'd rather have individual chapters or at least stopping points in the chapter. Also, I didn't care for any of the characters, and perhaps if they had more personality or any life whatsoever in them, I could carry on with the book, but it's too late now. Probably the biggest problem I have with the book is that I was suckered into the book by the so-called letter that is supposed to be pocketed by the postmistress; 191 pages in and it still hasn't happened! Since it appeared to be the main storyline, and the prologue had a teaser about this letter, I thought it was going to feature more prominently in the book. Obviously not. To sum it up: writing is okay, but annoying, characters are flat and unsympathetic, the plot meanders, so overall the book is duller than dishwater and a chore to read....more
The Book of Fires was not an easy book for me to get through. Not that it's a bad book, far from it, but because of its slow and steady pace I had toThe Book of Fires was not an easy book for me to get through. Not that it's a bad book, far from it, but because of its slow and steady pace I had to stop quite often to get my bearings. This is a very well-written book but it is also a very detailed one as well, sometimes to the detriment of the book; I felt like I was wading through facts and the story fell to a standstill at times. The lectures on fireworks and how they were made in the 18th century could have been fascinating, but they bored me, mainly because they were lectures and didn't fit into the book. Agnes was a confusing narrator, and while I can buy the uneducated yet bright and thoughtful type of character, I never felt for her as a human, she had no identity. The whole book was this way, and to put it bluntly, it felt dead, there was no sense of living in these pages. I think many people will enjoy The Book of Fires, but it left me cold, and for a book that features fireworks, there isn't much of a spark and bang between its covers.
I have tried, over and over and over again, to get through this book. I just can't and I won't try anymore. There are far better books to read than toI have tried, over and over and over again, to get through this book. I just can't and I won't try anymore. There are far better books to read than to waste time on one that's not worth the expense it takes to get through it. Technically, the writing is good, but everything is just so boring and lifeless; I don't care about anyone or anything. Maybe if it didn't often read like a history lesson and had some movement, I would have liked this book better. Good historical fiction incorporates the history seamlessly into the narrative. This book didn't and the history actually came in chunks that disrupted the story. This is an author I'll be sure to steer clear of from now on....more