Like any fan of Fowler's Benni Harper mysteries, I was kind of relunctant to pick up a book that stood alone. After the first couple of chapters moved...moreLike any fan of Fowler's Benni Harper mysteries, I was kind of relunctant to pick up a book that stood alone. After the first couple of chapters moved slowly, my interest waned a bit, but my mom had read the book and said that it improved once it got going. I persisted and found she was right.
While not as uproariously funny as the Harper mysteries can be at times, I always enjoy Fowler's command of language and she's got some great imagery in this book that keep it from being just another family story. While the pieces seem a bit contrived towards the conclusion, I enjoyed this enough that I'd read a sequel were Ms. Fowler to publish one.(less)
I was very excited to get this book, as it combines several of my favorite literary elements - history, adventure, real people as characters, time tra...moreI was very excited to get this book, as it combines several of my favorite literary elements - history, adventure, real people as characters, time travel, mystery, and all things British.
I was even more excited to dig into the book and ADORED the first two sections (the novel is divided into three distinct parts) because they employed a high degree of irony concerning the idea of time travel and time travelers. Palma wrote himself nicely into a corner with several of his characters and plotlines - which I love - and I looked forward to reading what would happen when he had to turn around in the third and final section and write himself out of said corner.
...unfortunately, Mr. Palma dropped the ball at that point.
(Actually, scratch that. Instead of writing himself out of the corner, the author actually turned around and tore down the wall behind him to make his escape. Not quite as skillful or cool.)
The third section of the novel (not giving anything away here, so don't worry) takes everything that was cool, mysterious, and ironic about the first two sections and drops them in the Thames. I was most disappointed to see this, as the finale had such potential at its outset. So while I recommend the book to any reader who loves all of those literary elements I listed above, I do so with caution. This is a good book that had the potential to be a great one - though without a time machine of his own, I fear Mr. Palma will not be able to rectify this situation. (less)
Never before have I finished a book, closed the cover, and realized that my jaw was hanging open. That was before I read Byatt's masterpiece, however....moreNever before have I finished a book, closed the cover, and realized that my jaw was hanging open. That was before I read Byatt's masterpiece, however. The parallelism in the lives of the modern scholars seeking historical fact and the lives of those whom they seek is incredible, yet in the end Byatt reminds her readers that truth is - as always - more fascinating, more elaborate, and more wonderful than fiction. Moreover, she reminds historians that, without having been there, research can only provide some of the details of the past.
I confess to finding this book because I knew that Jeremy Northam (a favorite actor of mine) was starring in the film version and I wanted to read the novel first. I hated the film after that - loved Northam's performance, but hated the film - because it could never capture Byatt's nuanced prose.
This book actually gets better upon the second and third readings - a high compliment for any piece of prose - and it wasn't until I opened its pages...moreThis book actually gets better upon the second and third readings - a high compliment for any piece of prose - and it wasn't until I opened its pages again that I really began to understand the fine nuances that Kostova has placed within the text that move the story along. "The Historian" is truly an apt name for this piece of fiction, as the running theme of not only the plot, but even the structure of the novel itself is the sometimes-transient nature of history when it is reconstructed in the present.
Kostova deftly juggles several stories at once through the intermingling of two primary narratives - that of historian Paul and that of his teenage daughter - as she weaves a haunting tale of the "real" life of Vlad the Impaler (aka Count Dracula). And as the storylines race against one another, intermingle, and eventually converge in an exciting and page-turning finale, one is constantly aware of the influences of historic events have on all that follows them, as well as the mistakes that can be made if we lose touch with our past.
(A note for the easily spooked, I wouldn't read this book in the dark by yourself - you'll jump at every innocent noise and spend the over 700 pages glancing nervously over your shoulder!)(less)
I have notes in the margins and on top of other notes inside this book, both because I found it to be beautifully written and because, upon one's init...moreI have notes in the margins and on top of other notes inside this book, both because I found it to be beautifully written and because, upon one's initial read, it's horribly confusing. But when you get to the end and read the final sentence, Maguire makes it truly worth your while.
What REALLY happened over the rainbow? Are there only two sides to every story, or are there three sides - or four or five or six? Maguire plays in the gray areas at the fringes, retelling L. Frank Baum's beloved classic in such a way that Oz is nearly unrecognizable. In his universe, political maneuvering is as much a part of the fairytale as Dorothy and the tornado.
No spoilers in this review - just read it for yourself (and keep a pen handy for notes!)(less)
This is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE of Maguire's novels. I know, I know - "Wicked" is his tour de force and the world of Elphaba's Oz is a work of literary b...moreThis is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE of Maguire's novels. I know, I know - "Wicked" is his tour de force and the world of Elphaba's Oz is a work of literary brilliance. Duly noted. But for those who enjoy subtle storytelling and a bit of a mystery (and ghosts to boot!), this is definitely recommended reading.
(PS - For those who enjoyed Maguire's other novels and expect this one to be just like them, you may not want to turn these pages. He varies drastically from his usual fairytelling here.)
Dickens utilized physical ghosts (Past, Present, and Yet to Come) in his classic "A Christmas Carol," but Maguire examines within the world of "Lost" the idea that ghosts aren't necessarily that which physically haunts us, but that which haunts us from within (a double meaning he plays with when he introduces us to Gervasa towards the book's conclusion). How we escape from being haunted is up to us - and that's the real message to be found here.(less)
Okay, this book gave me a headache - and not in that "wow that was so good I'm going to dwell on it for a while" kind of way. Too much research and no...moreOkay, this book gave me a headache - and not in that "wow that was so good I'm going to dwell on it for a while" kind of way. Too much research and not enough clarity in the storyline. (Also WAY predictable.)
Do yourself a favor and read "The Da Vinci Code" or "The Historian" instead.(less)
A dressage rider/competitor and horse person myself (just like author Hoag), I like to help support her purchases of top-class international competiti...moreA dressage rider/competitor and horse person myself (just like author Hoag), I like to help support her purchases of top-class international competition horses, so I buy her books. (The woman rides as well as she writes!) Naturally then, I would be drawn to Elena Estes and this book, which I liked overall, as its gritty style and sharp mystery is attention-getting and makes for a riveting read.
That said, I fear Ms. Hoag may have cast a bit too dark of a shadow over the cutthroat world of equestrian competition. Anytime people make their living in such a world, they're inevitably going to destroy everything that they love about it; it's human nature. For the most part, however, people like Elena and Sean - horse lovers of the finest caliber! - far outnumber those who would destroy the beauty of equestrian sport. Ultimately, Hoag shows us this by the end. A fine read!(less)
I'm one of those people who normally figures out the pieces of the puzzle long before the novelist actually gets their plot unfolded. It's to Kate Mor...moreI'm one of those people who normally figures out the pieces of the puzzle long before the novelist actually gets their plot unfolded. It's to Kate Morton's credit, then, that she kept me guessing until the very end.
Seemlessly interweaving three time periods, two continents, and a host of unique and fascinating characters, Morton weaves a plot that is un-put-downable, the story of a young girl who arrives in Australia alone in 1913 and spends the rest of her life searching for her identity and true home.(less)