One of my favorite reads by this author. This is the first of the William Monk series. The audio version is expertly read by Davina Porter - highly reOne of my favorite reads by this author. This is the first of the William Monk series. The audio version is expertly read by Davina Porter - highly recommended....more
A solid 4.5 if not a 5 star read for me. I have enjoyed the first two books in this series but when I found this newest one available at the library,A solid 4.5 if not a 5 star read for me. I have enjoyed the first two books in this series but when I found this newest one available at the library, I picked it up and took a chance that I hadn't missed too much in the few Flavia books that I had missed in this series. I was not disappointed. While there were some references to a couple of subplot developments that I had not yet read about, I had no trouble keeping up with the happenings in this, my favorite from this series so far. Others have mentioned that they love the audio version of these novels but I did not; I felt they were "over" acted and am so glad I decided to pick up the print versions instead. They are more of the cozy mystery genre. You can find better plot descriptions elsewhere but I am very glad to have found this series. ...more
I am a HUGE fan of Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series and have yet to explore any of his other offerings. In all fairnI am a HUGE fan of Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series and have yet to explore any of his other offerings. In all fairness, when I picked this one up on sale, I thought it was from his Scotland series - my mistake. This first offering in his Corduroy Mansions series, while finally panning out to be a rather enjoyable read in the end, was not nearly as enjoyable for me as Mma Ramotswe in Botswana. ...more
I became addicted to the PBS series which is based on this book and was so thrilled to see that the characters I had come to love so much in the serieI became addicted to the PBS series which is based on this book and was so thrilled to see that the characters I had come to love so much in the series were not fabrications for the sake of the screen. Thoroughly enjoyable. The book brings more insight into the historic aspects of life in the East End of London in the 1950's which is especially helpful for those of us outside of Great Britain who don't have the cultural understanding of the workings of the housing/medical/social workings of this time and place. Warning! This may be redundant because of the title of this book, but if you are a bit squeamish as I am about detailed descriptions of the female anatomical issues, there are some uncomfortable descriptions here that made me wince but they are told in a very matter-of-fact and clinical manner. That being said, I thought the overall story was so lovely, I was able to deal with that aspect of this delightful read....more
I am so excited to have found this new series! Not great literature but a fun read with delightful characters set in one of my favorite places in theI am so excited to have found this new series! Not great literature but a fun read with delightful characters set in one of my favorite places in the world. I will be back for more in the series when I am looking for a fun, light enjoyable diversion....more
Finally got around to reading the book that inspired one of my favorite films of all time. An excellent, thought-provoking read so beautifully understFinally got around to reading the book that inspired one of my favorite films of all time. An excellent, thought-provoking read so beautifully understated it almost hurts....more
I don't believe anyone needs to hear yet another summary of Dicken's Christmas Carol so what I am doing with this review is focusing on the Tim CurryI don't believe anyone needs to hear yet another summary of Dicken's Christmas Carol so what I am doing with this review is focusing on the Tim Curry audio recording. Most Americans have grown up seeing so many versions of this story, from Micky Mouse and Donald Duck to the musical with Albert Finney or the ominous George C. Scott as the infamous Scrooge that few know the original story as relayed by Dickens. If you haven't read the original or regularly re-watch the George C. Scott version which is remarkably true to the original, you probably have a romanticized view of this classic.
I must admit that having watched George C. Scott every year during Christmas and being able to recite entire sections by heart made listening to Tim Curry's interpretation of this rather difficult since, to me, George C. Scott or even Albert Finney's voice has come to represent Scrooge so strongly in my head that it was hard for me to not constantly compare Tim Curry's reading with Finney or Scott which, I realize, is unfair to Mr. Curry. Tim Curry is obviously an able actor but I believe that his reading of the story would be better enjoyed by those less familiar with Dicken's original tale. I don't believe that his reading caught all of the complexities of the story that are there for the taking. It has very dark, disturbing scenes meant to highlight the horrible living conditions in 19th century England which would be very disturbing to children. Dickens has never glossed over those aspects of British life in his other novels, but this story has been so romanticized in so many versions that the original may likely come as a bit of a dark surprise.
Five stars for the story, three stars for the performance averaged to four....more
First of all, I am one of those who joined GoodReads to get decent recommendations about what to read after having read and re-read Jane Austen so mucFirst of all, I am one of those who joined GoodReads to get decent recommendations about what to read after having read and re-read Jane Austen so much you need further recommendations. Her wit and acerbic observations about life in general and the regency time period in particular resonate with me, so when I found Syrie James's novel at a used book store, I grabbed it - what a delight! She has obvious deep respect for the venerated author and approaches this from an American point of view - a young woman forced to give up her doctorate studies at Oxford in order to take care of her ailing mother, returning years later, re-kindling her dream of studying British literature at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. I resonated with this story on so many levels which, in turn, mirror Jane's feelings as expressed in her novels. This is a novel inside a novel which, for anyone who is familiar with the works of Austen, will ring familiar in numerous areas yet with enough differences to keep you wondering how it will all be resolved.
I have researched, learned and taught English Country Dancing. I've been to Bath, England multiple times, standing in the Assembly Rooms so often discussed in Austen's novels and imagined myself at a country ball. I have toured Bath with an Austen scholar who pointed out where she stayed when there, where major events featured in various novels took place, etc. I've been to her burial site in Winchester and stood forlornly outside the home where she died at much too young an age.
I don't believe you have to be as obsessed with Jane as I am to enjoy this tale of a lost Austen manuscript. I believe that anyone who enjoys the wit and humor of Austen and appreciates her will most probably enjoy this one as well. A solid 4.5 star read for me because it kept me engaged throughout the entire story....more
I picked this up at the library on my last vacation. A free book to read while on vacation that I didn't have at home so I ditched the couple of readsI picked this up at the library on my last vacation. A free book to read while on vacation that I didn't have at home so I ditched the couple of reads I brought with me (I can read those when I get home) and read this instead. I have never read Ruth Rendell and the cover touted her as a "reigning queen" of crime fiction and the premise interested me so jumped in. Set in London's Notting Hill and featuring Portobello Road, a middle-aged art dealer finds an envelope full of cash one day and attempts to return it to its rightful owner.
The opening, the premise, the writing all engaged me from the very beginning. However, I just never grew to care enough about the characters to want to invest that much time or energy on the story. The addiction developed by the main character and his subsequent decisions made as a result of this addiction had me thinking, "Really?!" **Partial Spoiler alert!** I mean, he can't stop eating Choco-orange flavored sugar-free candies and his fiance's discovery of this brings on such shame that he cancels their engagement?! God help them if they ever have any REAL life issues in their relationship to deal with. In addition, I don't know many human beings in this day and age who have read the news or are even remotely aware of societal dangers that would invite a complete stranger inside their home who is trying to claim cash that they found. Give them the benefit of the doubt and meet them at a coffee shop? Yes. Come on over to my home and come on inside when I know nothing about you, haven't asked you anything about yourself and the only reason I'm talking to you is because you responded to an add stating I had found money? No.
By the way, the first page or two telling the story about how Portobello Road got its name is worth picking up the book in an of itself but beyond that, it didn't impress me much and I actually forced myself to finish the book speed reading the res of the way because it wasn't that long and I didn't want to have yet another halfway read book uncompleted. I can be a bit obsessive that way....more
Was hoping to enjoy this one more than I did. It was fine, just not as good as several other series I've found. I can't help but compare this to the MWas hoping to enjoy this one more than I did. It was fine, just not as good as several other series I've found. I can't help but compare this to the Maisie Dobbs series which takes place around the same time period and Masie definitely wins out in the comparison....more
This is the first book in the Matthew Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom and it was a wonderful escape back into England, 1537 during Henry VIII's reign.This is the first book in the Matthew Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom and it was a wonderful escape back into England, 1537 during Henry VIII's reign. The time is just following the death of Jane Seymour, Henry's 3rd wife who died bearing him his only son, Edward and just before the dissolution of the monasteries in England. This would be a great introduction to the time period if you are unfamiliar with the politics and turmoil of Tudor England. I have read and studied extensively on the subject but found new insight in Sansom's work. I believe it fairly portrays the ideology of the reformists who suddenly found themselves an advocate in the King of England when he tired of Catherine of Aragon and was hot to marry Ann Boleyn but in order to do so had to create a new church, placing himself at the head, in order to be able to "legally" divorce Catherine and marry Ann. This book does not delve too deeply into that history but there are plenty of others that do. This begins to explore the aftermath of that decision and its effects on both the Catholics and the Protestants of the time.
In Matthew Shardlake we have a protagonist who is theologically aligned with the country's new protestant stance and naive enough to believe that Henry and his advisor Cromwell wish to take over the "corrupt" the monasteries only "for the good of the church and people of England." I have often wondered how Henry's henchmen were able to successfully carry out this task. Through this story, we get insight into the new reformer's view of the monastic system as well as the Catholic's view and fear about what might be coming.
I've described in detail a synopsis of the political/theological issues discussed but this novel is not a dry, theological and political treatise. It is a VERY well written historical fiction which introduced me to a protagonist that I truly enjoyed and places him in the midst of a historic setting and sheds light on the everyday lives of those around him. It is a "mystery" in the sense that Shardlake ends up investigating a series of deaths. The mystery part of the story was well done without extensive gory details. However, I enjoyed this novel because of the rich narrative, the excellent research and vivid setting which placed me back in Tudor England with a main character that I look forward to learning more about in future books in this series. ...more
Received an Advanced Reader copy of this and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was at first skeptical about this book because I enjoyed Julia Stuart's first noReceived an Advanced Reader copy of this and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was at first skeptical about this book because I enjoyed Julia Stuart's first novel, The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise so very much and seeing that she had completely changed time periods I wondered if a different century might diminish my enjoyment of this author...not so! This was simply delightful. When Queen Victoria grants a "Grace-and-favor" residence at Hampton Court to penniless Indian Princess Alexandrina and her lady's maid, Pooki, we are allowed in to the lives of the privileged few eccentric souls who live in royal residences at the "grace and favor" of the reigning monarch. I had never considered the logistics of such a life but found it most interesting.
In her last book Stuart did a wonderful job delving into the lives of current guards "Beefeaters," and their lives at the Tower of London. She set her research and storytelling skills in this newer work on Hampton Court Palace, a favorite of Henry VIII, located a few miles down the river from London. Delightful, full of historic tidbits about the palace and its history, this should delight Anglophiles and Royal historians alike. The "mystery" was almost a secondary story and the event referred to in the title didn't even take place until almost halfway through the book which will probably frustrate the true mystery fan. In all fairness, I kept wondering why "mystery" was in the title since it took so long for this book to actually become a mystery.
The storyline is rather Austenesque in that it is more of a Victorian social class commentary than a rousing, plot-driven story. I happen to enjoy that type of tale when I'm in the right mood, especially if its setting is one that interests me and Hampton Court does....more
Read this one with my 10-yr-old son. Sutcliff is an excellent author who is a talented wordsmith and does an amazing job with imagery. Even though herRead this one with my 10-yr-old son. Sutcliff is an excellent author who is a talented wordsmith and does an amazing job with imagery. Even though her books are classified as for children or "young adult" I know of very few well-educated adults who would not find at least a few challenging vocabulary words in her writing. That is not to say at that her writing is at all inaccessible to younger readers, but the literary quality of her work is of a very high standard - one not often seen in most of today's "young adult" or even adult fiction options.
My son (and I) were completely engulfed in this storyline and we never put this down without him first begging for at least a few more pages. The story of young Beric, rescued from a Roman shipwreck on the coast of Britain, raised by a foster family from a primitive British tribe and then sent out on his own at a young age was a wonderful complement to our ancient history studies. Sutcliff's research is excellent and her ability to envelope the reader in the time frame made for quite an enjoyable escape.