This book was simply amazing. I loved the character development. I really felt like I knew the characters intimately and cared about what happened toThis book was simply amazing. I loved the character development. I really felt like I knew the characters intimately and cared about what happened to them. The detail that Ken Follett put into the descriptions of architecture and the care with which he placed into explaining the daily trappings of medieval life showed an impressive base of knowledge about medieval life. I strongly recommend this book; it will be difficult to put down!...more
200 years after the end of The Pillars of the Earth, World Without End shares some of the same compelling intrigues and interrelationship between char200 years after the end of The Pillars of the Earth, World Without End shares some of the same compelling intrigues and interrelationship between characters. It took me a little while to really grasp their relationships (hence the 4 stars), but I think that was mostly because I wanted to know how they were descended from characters in Pillars. I really cared about what the characters were doing, and I like that Ken Follett kept situations, like Gwenda's escape from the men her father sold her to, realistic and provided a sense of realism.
I also really liked the time period they chose, and how the characters reacted with the arrival of the Black Death, particularly Caris and her acute sense of observation that helped to mitigate some of the spread of the disease in Kingsbridge.
Overall, this book was a very good read, and I would recommend it!...more
The Constant Princess was a delightful book covering the rise of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife. Philippa Gregory provided an interestinThe Constant Princess was a delightful book covering the rise of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife. Philippa Gregory provided an interesting take on Catherine's wife, and does a wonderful job in researching the time period. Gregory is able to capture the culture of courtier life in Tudor England accurately, and makes the minds of her characters interesting. I love this time period, and I couldn't put this book down!...more
This book is easily within my top 5 favorite books of all time. Arthur Golden did an amazing job researching Japanese culture and the life of a geishaThis book is easily within my top 5 favorite books of all time. Arthur Golden did an amazing job researching Japanese culture and the life of a geisha; so much so that you sometimes forget that this is a work of fiction. The character development is superb, and you find yourself really sympathizing with Sayuri and hating Hatsumomo. I also enjoyed how the book covered World War II on the Japanese homefront, and how difficult times were during the war. I strongly recommend this....more
**spoiler alert** I literally could not put this book down. I love the story line, though it gets a little confusing with jumping back and forth somet**spoiler alert** I literally could not put this book down. I love the story line, though it gets a little confusing with jumping back and forth sometimes. The idea of time travel being a genetic defect was a fresh and new idea, and the love story just made it all the better. I like that the love story wasn't all sunshine and daisies, and included very real problems that couples face in their lives together like Clair's miscarriages and the frustrations she faces at him disappearing at inconvenient times. Overall, this was a lovely story, and one that I know I will read over and over....more
I think this is a great book for a younger crowd. Tolkein wrote this book like a bedtime story, and I had a difficult time getting through it becauseI think this is a great book for a younger crowd. Tolkein wrote this book like a bedtime story, and I had a difficult time getting through it because it was putting me to sleep! Other than that, there is no doubt that Tolkein did an amazing job creating the world of Middle Earth, but it just didn't hold my interest....more
The Red Tent was recommended to me by my aunt, and I love this book. I grew up going to church every Sunday, so it gave me a good background. In additThe Red Tent was recommended to me by my aunt, and I love this book. I grew up going to church every Sunday, so it gave me a good background. In addition, I think Biblical history is incredibly intriguing, so I like how Anita Diamant incorporated the cultural history of the time period into this book. The story of Dinah is barely mentioned in the Bible, so I love how it was put into the limelight here, even though it is fiction. Diamant's descriptions are rich, as well, which makes it easy to really sink into the world. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in Biblical history and the culture during biblical times....more
There is a good reason why this is required reading for most high school freshman English classes. This is simply an amazing book all around. Scout anThere is a good reason why this is required reading for most high school freshman English classes. This is simply an amazing book all around. Scout and her relationship with others around her provides a depth of character that is much appreciated. In addition, the message of tolerance is one that everyone should receive. No review could do justice to this book...just pick it up and read it!...more
There are so many things that I love about this book.
I loved the setting. Chevalier was able to transplant me into the Netherlands in the 1600s, and dThere are so many things that I love about this book.
I loved the setting. Chevalier was able to transplant me into the Netherlands in the 1600s, and did so while staying true to the customs and mannerisms of the Dutch people, much of which one might still see displayed today when visiting small Dutch towns. When I lived in Germany, I loved seeing the Delft tiles that were sold throughout Europe, and I loved the ones my parents bought while we lived there. I don't know if my parents still have them, but Chevalier's descriptions of the tiles that Griet's father made resulted in a huge wave of nostalgia for me.
I also loved Chevalier's amazing descriptions. I could actually see the town of Delft in my mind's eye, as well as Vermeer's paintings. I've always loved Vermeer, and the simplicity of his subjects and complexities of his paintings came through vividly in the descriptions. I also appreciated the fact that she took care to mention previous Vermeer artwork instead of focusing solely on his Girl with a Pearl Earring.
The subtlety of the sexual tension between Griet and Vermeer was also masterfully done, without turning into a corny romance novel. A romance based on a mutual understanding of art composition was strange, but also endearing.
Again, I loved this book. Like the painting that inspired the subject of this novel, it is difficult to turn away from this book. I recommend this to anyone who appreciates art and good literature....more
I loved that this book was told from the point of view of a Jew in Tudor England...something that was extremely rare at the time. Philippa Gregory alsI loved that this book was told from the point of view of a Jew in Tudor England...something that was extremely rare at the time. Philippa Gregory also challenged the predominant thinking of the nature of both Mary and Elizabeth. Mary was painted as pious, heartbroken, and ill throughout most of the book, which I found plausible based on the actual history. The portrayal of Elizabeth was actually quite accurate, as Elizabeth was far from being "virginal." She enjoyed court life and the men that surrounded her. However, I think Gregory's descriptions of scheming and plotting to take the throne were a bit over the top. Revealing her propensity towards men would have been sufficient without making her a complete bad guy. While I don't expect historical fiction to be complete accurate, the plotting just went a little too far for me.
Overall, this was a great read, and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in Tudor England....more
I absolutely love Philippa Gregory's writing. Her ability to take history and fill in dialogue and thoughts to the major events is amazing. Her booksI absolutely love Philippa Gregory's writing. Her ability to take history and fill in dialogue and thoughts to the major events is amazing. Her books are well-researched, and she manages to capture the true feel of the court of Henry VIII.
Like The Constant Princess, I was very happy to see the court of Henry VIII through the eyes of Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Jane Boleyn. There is little known about Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard, but Philippa Gregory's take on both queens based on the historical information available was believable.
I did feel like the repetition of the "Boleyn Inheritance" was a little much, but the rest of the book truly speaks for itself. I have been pleased with every book that I have read by Ms. Gregory, and look forward to reading the next in the series!...more
The Renaissance can be a difficult time period to capture in a book, but Sarah Dunant does so well. So much of the time period revolved around the artThe Renaissance can be a difficult time period to capture in a book, but Sarah Dunant does so well. So much of the time period revolved around the art, and Dunant was able to tie in the main character's love of art with the descriptions beautifully.
I actually do know quite a bit about the time period when this took place. Savonarola was a zealot who was able to turn Florentine society into a mass of people frightened into piety. Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) had already died, and the Medici family's star had fallen. All in all, this was a truly fascinating time in history, when political intrigues stretched down to everybody.
There were a couple of aspects of this book that I found interesting. The first was Alessandra's obsession with art. As might be expected, this time period had the same views of suppressing women in society that might have intensified with Savonarola's zealotry. Women could be patrons of the arts, but painting was a skill that women should not flaunt. As a result, Alessandra came to embody femininity and freedom in this book. The second aspect I found interesting was the handling of homosexuality in Savonarola's Florence. Florence, along with Venice, were cities where homosexuality was widespread and tolerated to a certain extent. The rise of Savonarola put a swift end to this, when homosexuals were found, tortured, maimed, and, in some cases, killed for committing the sin of sodomy. I just found it interesting that Dunant chose to tackle this subject in this book.
Overall, this is a rich story. Dunant's descriptions of the art of the time were captivating, and her grasp of everyday life in the family of a Florentine merchant was spot on. Though her relationship with her husband was strained due to the fact that he was essentially using her as a beard so he could carry on a homosexual relationship with her brother, their marriage bed is reminiscent of how many women at the time viewed their "wifely duties." I really did enjoy this novel, and I recommend it for anyone who likes the Renaissance time period....more
This a typical coming of age tale set in the South, but it is nonetheless an amazing book! I loved the time period, and the ties into the civil rightsThis a typical coming of age tale set in the South, but it is nonetheless an amazing book! I loved the time period, and the ties into the civil rights movement, and Kidd gives the characters incredible depth. She touches on a taboo subject (at the time) of interracial relationships, and does an incredible job of describing the reactions of those in the South at the time to a white girl living with or being associated with blacks. I also loved the beekeeping aspect of the book, and the sisters. I strongly recommend this book for anyone, I really loved this book!...more
After reading Helen of Troy and Mary, Called Magdalene, this book was a little more difficult for me to get through. I know that for most this is theiAfter reading Helen of Troy and Mary, Called Magdalene, this book was a little more difficult for me to get through. I know that for most this is their favorite of Margaret George's books. I don't think the length was the problem, as I've never had a problem flying through an interesting 1000-page tome before. The story just started out very slow, and it kind of kept the same pace throughout. Also, already knowing the history behind Cleopatra's story, I found myself waiting for her to meet Caesar, then waiting for her to engage in a relationship with Marc Antony, and then waiting for her death. Overall, this is a masterfully written book, I just had a really difficult time getting into it.
Cleopatra's characters was fleshed out very well. I loved that she had such a human side to her. When I think of pharaohs, I often see them as very lofty figures. Because they often claimed they were descended from the Egyptian gods, they always seem a little standoffish to me, so I loved that Cleopatra had a very human side to her in this story. She is definitely flawed, and though she is seen as an excellent ruler, she does make mistakes in judgment and sometimes manipulates those around her to better the standing of herself and Egypt in the grand scheme of the Roman world. I also particularly liked the characters of Mardian and Olympos, her closest friends. To me, they are the epitome of true blue friends, and Cleopatra always knew she could count on them through thick and thin.
I also liked the way Ms. George fleshed out Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. Both were such complex men, but almost complete opposites in personality. Caesar was always careful to not overindulge, where Antony loved to overindulge. Caesar was a bit distant towards his men, while Antony was what I'd describe as a "guy's guy." He reveled with the men, and that was primarily what won their loyalty through all the long campaigns he embarked upon for the glory of Rome.
The romances between Cleopatra, Caesar, and Marc Antony were also interesting to me, and actually exactly how I had always pictured them. There were interesting dynamics to both sets, but Cleopatra seemed much more in love with Antony than she ever was with Caesar. This also lent to a "love is blind" scenario where she did not always recognize or acknowledge her lovers' faults, but she always seemed to be able to bring them around to her line of thinking due to her own inner strength.
The battles described in the book were interesting to me, as well. I liked the way Ms. George gave accounts of the battles through secondhand conversation and letters to Cleopatra, as she was not on the battlefield. I studied military history, so that aspect of the ancient world is something I am always interested in.
Overall, the book runs at a slow pace, but is enjoyable. This is definitely not my favorite of Margaret George's books, but it is most certainly an epic piece of writing....more
I very much enjoyed this book and the sequel. I picked this up when I was 15 to read on the plane when we were moving from Germany to Washington stateI very much enjoyed this book and the sequel. I picked this up when I was 15 to read on the plane when we were moving from Germany to Washington state when my father was in the Army, and I've reread it numerous times. Wilbur Smith's descriptions are incredibly detailed, and the story is compelling. It's long, but it also holds enough action to keep you interested with every page. The combination of action and a lasting love story set in Ancient Egypt will thrill and enrapture the reader....more
**spoiler alert** Wow, how to describe this book? First of all, it is a very quick read. I was able to read the whole book in about 2 1/2 hours. Keepi**spoiler alert** Wow, how to describe this book? First of all, it is a very quick read. I was able to read the whole book in about 2 1/2 hours. Keeping in mind the fact that this was written for children, I want to be sure that I am fair to the author, but there were a couple of incidences that I really did not like. First, Bruno has a problem with pronouncing the names of the Fuehrer and Auschwitz. Now, as someone who speaks quite a bit of German, I can understand how he would mispronounce "Fuehrer," but the mispronunciation of "Auschwitz" was a bit more confusing to me. Boyne writes as though Bruno speaks English, and writes Bruno's pronunciation of "Auschwitz" as "Out-With." The German words for "out" and "with," are "aus" and "mit," so, to me, it didn't make sense that Bruno kept calling it "Out-With."
That quibble aside, this is a powerful and very sad book. Lieutenant Kotler really seems to embody the evil Nazi that many of us think of when we think of the actions of the SS troops in the concentration camps. Bruno's father was interesting as a personality to me. Distant, yet it seemed like he did what he felt he needed to do to advance. I particularly liked that Bruno's grandmother and mother showed serious reservations to his father's job at Auschwitz. I think that it accurately describes the dichotomy that existed in Germany at the time. Contrary to what many might believe, not all Germans were complicit in the Holocaust, and the fact there were members of Bruno's family that did not agree with his new "exalted" position shows this very well.
The ending of the book was simply heartbreaking. For want of a friend, Bruno crosses into the camp and is gassed in the end. Such a sad ending, but it really relays the horrors of the Holocaust. All in all an excellent book, I do recommend it....more
What can I say? I love Margaret George. I just realized I started this book on December 7, 2012, and just finished it...that's what kids will do to yoWhat can I say? I love Margaret George. I just realized I started this book on December 7, 2012, and just finished it...that's what kids will do to you! I relegated this book to my son's bathroom, and read a chapter or two while he was taking a bath. One thing I do love, is that I was always able to step away from this book for a little while, and then come back to it, and remember what was going on.
I love Tudor England, and Mary, Queen of Scots, has always been a fascinating historical figure to me. Being a Catholic ruler in a Protestant country was obviously difficult, and her relationship with Queen Elizabeth I was interesting, as well. I love that Margaret George is able to capture the intrigues of the time. I'm always very sympathetic to Elizabeth, but in every historical account I've ever read, the decision to execute Mary, Queen of Scots, was very difficult for her. Being related, being a sister sovereign, mostly being indifferent to the Queen to her north, I'm sure, made for some serious soul-searching.
George is so detailed, and I love that I can see each scene play out in my mind like a TV episode or an epic film. I've loved all of her other books, and this one is no different. I recommend this to anyone who has interest in Mary. George is always pretty faithful to the history, but obviously does take some literary license. Her books are always worth the read to me....more