I read this series ages ago when it was first released. For the time, it wasn't bad at all. Lots of intrigue and romance in Tsarist Russia, centered aI read this series ages ago when it was first released. For the time, it wasn't bad at all. Lots of intrigue and romance in Tsarist Russia, centered around a fictional family called the Borodins....more
In this fourth entry in the Amelia Peabody series, the Emersons (with Ramses and Bastet, of course) return to Egypt, and this time they get to excavatIn this fourth entry in the Amelia Peabody series, the Emersons (with Ramses and Bastet, of course) return to Egypt, and this time they get to excavate at the pyramids of Dashoor. Amelia is in raptures, with a chance to have a pyramid of her very own to explore. But when an adversary is discovered murdered in their Cairo hotel, things start to get a bit complicated. And it doesn't stop once they get to Dashoor, what with nosy American toursts (parasol fencing!), a young man named Nemo who appears to be more trouble than he is worth, and the mystery mastermind that wants to see the Emersons dead or at the very least, removed from Egypt. Clever writing, smart plot, and plenty of fun. Four stars overall and very much recommended.
Every now and then I get to read a mystery that makes me think why didn't I read these earlier? The first book of the Phryne Fisher novels did that toEvery now and then I get to read a mystery that makes me think why didn't I read these earlier? The first book of the Phryne Fisher novels did that to me. A socialite with plenty of style and wit lands in Melbourne, Australia and embarks on a series of adventures involving cocaine, illegal abortions, wisecracking cabbies, some elegant Russian expats and lots of descriptive writing. Welcome to the world of Phryne Fisher, not quite your ordinary woman. There's Dr. Elizabeth MacMillan, a doctor and friend of Phryne's, the Princesse de Grasse and her two dancers, and the woman that caused Phryne to come to Australia in the first place -- Lydia. The writing is tight, the story and plots involved, and the dialogue sparkles. All in all, I give this four stars and a reommendation, although the content might disturb some.
A very involving tale of two sisters, Harriet and Isabella, members of the large, well-known Beecher family, and the trial that drove them apart. ThisA very involving tale of two sisters, Harriet and Isabella, members of the large, well-known Beecher family, and the trial that drove them apart. This is a carefully plotted, intricate novel about slavery, women's rights, and family loyalties, all gathered up in a story that really made me think. Those who like their historical fiction to be well-written and accurate will enjoy this one. I give it four stars and a recommendation.
Last year I started to read the Amelia Peabody series by the late Elizabeth Peters, and discovered that I liked it. In the third book in the series, tLast year I started to read the Amelia Peabody series by the late Elizabeth Peters, and discovered that I liked it. In the third book in the series, the Emersons are returning to Egypt, but this time they have their young, precocious son Ramses in tow, along with the cat Bastet. Assigned a distant, unremarkable site to excavate, the digging season starts out uncomfortable, but soon enough there are plenty of eccentricities to complicate matters, from several American missionaries, an overstuffed overbearing German baroness who fancies herself an ancient Queen, and something peculiar about a coffin. But it is Ramses who is the real star of this novel who keeps finding more trouble and dirt than any young child should. Great fun, real archaeology, and a painless way to see the birth of modern Egypt. Four stars overall and recommended.
I am happy to admit that I am a history nerd. I love reading about it, seeing it, learning about it, and if I spot something that is set in Wales, I'lI am happy to admit that I am a history nerd. I love reading about it, seeing it, learning about it, and if I spot something that is set in Wales, I'll happily pounce on it. Especially if it is about the medieval (c. 500-1500 BCE) period of Welsh history.
The Fool's Tale is set in the late twelfth century, when Wales was still independent of English rule, but was divided into a collection of small realms. And all of them are squabbling with each other, ready to murder each other instead of trying to resolve their differences and present a united front. One of those rulers is Maelgwn ap Cadwallon, ruler of the tiny realm of Maelienydd.
Maelgwn -- nicknamed Noble for his attitude and bearing -- is getting married, to a young woman, Isabel Mortimer. Unfortunately for Isabel she's the daughter of a powerful Norman family that were responsible for the murder of Noble's father in an ambush. Noble's closest friend -- if he can be called that -- is Gwirion, who risked his own life to save Noble's when his father was murdered. Gwirion, an orphan without family or fortune of his own, has made his living at Noble's court by being a jester of sorts. His jokes are bawdy, and frankly, obscene for the most part.
Isabel, accompanied by her servant, Adele, comes into this very alien world. She is not just very pretty, but also clever, and unknown to the people around her is quite fluent in Welsh. Indeed her education is for the most part better than the king's (Noble, surpassing all understanding why, is referred to as a king in this book; more on this later). Regarded as a nonentity by her husband's courtiers and advisors, Isabel quietly fumes; Gwirion for his part, starts off his relationship with Isabel by insulting her at every turn.
As for Noble, well, we discover quickly that he's anything but. In one fit of temper he kicks Isabel's companion to death. He plays a ghastly trick on Gwirion that is about as funny as dropping an anvil on your foot. And in one very repellent scene, he forces Isabel and a would be lover into a sado-masochistic display.
And Gwirion and Isabel fall in love, setting up a love triangle that is not just ludicrous, but silly. Of course, in grand Tristan-und-Isolde fashion, it plays out as a big tragic finish...
I had such high hopes for this one. There's some actual history of the times in here, a few historical characters, and even a Welsh custom or two. But the bad points overwhelm what is good about this one.
I know I am being nitpicky here, but if the author makes a grand show of how much research she's done in her book, then she had better get it right. Why? Well, out there in the book world, you''re bound to find someone who does know the details, and you can bet that they'll be vocal about it.
Finally, the writing isn't that good. The author constantly tells us all about what is going on, but doesn't do much to show us. Just as cringe-worthy is the character of Isabel -- our heroine is not much more than a wish-fulfillment on the part of the author. And another thing that bothered me was that the author made both Isabel and Gwirion fictional -- they never existed, and while Maelgwn/Noble did live, she has him dying childless, while the real one sired quite a few heirs to succeed him.
It took me a real effort to wade through this mass of treacle, and I fully intend to never buy another book by this author. She is evidently a screenwriter, but if this is an example of her work, I have to wonder about her future. As for myself, I intend to stay with the writing of Elizabeth Chadwick and Sharon Kay Penman for any historicals set in the medieval period -- at least they do know what they're talking about.
I enjoyed this tale of three Chinese-American girls -- Grace, Helen and Ruby -- who start off as chorus girls in a nightclub in Chinatown. Each girl hI enjoyed this tale of three Chinese-American girls -- Grace, Helen and Ruby -- who start off as chorus girls in a nightclub in Chinatown. Each girl has plenty to hide, where not even a friendship can survive the horrors of WWII, and the prejudice of Americans. One section of the story is set in Topaz, Utah, which is one of the more horrible bits of our history. For anyone who wants an engaging tale set in San Francisco, with plenty of new things to learn, I happily recommend this one. Four stars overall.
A vicar's daughter, Drusilla, is swept off to India when the local aristocratic family takes interest in her. Unfortunately, the Great Mutiny is aboutA vicar's daughter, Drusilla, is swept off to India when the local aristocratic family takes interest in her. Unfortunately, the Great Mutiny is about to happen. This romantic suspense novel is set in the 1850's, and is full of the usual tropes -- milksop heroine, nasty bitchy friend, sarcastic hero. Unfortunately, the reader is kept at arm's reach throughout this one, the heroine not much more than a very passive observer. There's not a lot of character development, the Indians are portrayed in the worst possible light, the history is lightweight, but if you want something light and fluffy, it should work. I give it three stars and a somewhat recommendation.
This was quite a book. Set in Iceland in 1828, it is the tale of Agnes, a servant who has been sentenced to death for murder. Sent to live with a famiThis was quite a book. Set in Iceland in 1828, it is the tale of Agnes, a servant who has been sentenced to death for murder. Sent to live with a family to work while her appeal wends it way in distant Denmark, Agnes must come to grips with the future that awaits her. Gradually, bit by bit, the truth comes out, both with documents relating to the case, the third person narrative from the people around her, and Agnes herself speaking in first person. This isn't a very long novel, but the author doesn't waste a word in building the dark theme, the characters, and the final, terrible truth. Not for everyone -- this isn't an easy novel to read -- but well worth it for those who stick it out to the end. Four stars overall.
This one turned out differently than most Austen sequels that tend to be awful for me. Focusing on Mary, the middle sister, we follow her reactions anThis one turned out differently than most Austen sequels that tend to be awful for me. Focusing on Mary, the middle sister, we follow her reactions and thoughts as her married sister Lydia returns home -- announcing that she is pregnant and leaving her husband, Wickham. With Kitty in tow, the two unmarried sisters are sent on to their eldest sister Jane. While there, Mary meets Mr. Walsh, a gentleman who she's very attracted to, but there seems to be complications. How it all plays out is what makes the bulk of the novel. Fortunately, the author knows her Regency details, and avoids most of the mistakes that many have made in trying to continue Jane Austen's novels. This comes to about three and a half stars, rounded up to four, and a recommendation.