I stayed up way too late to finish this moving novel. Reading about the latter part of Sisi's sad but exciting life was frustrating, exhilarating, andI stayed up way too late to finish this moving novel. Reading about the latter part of Sisi's sad but exciting life was frustrating, exhilarating, and exhausting. There were times when I could barely stand to put this novel down to do adult things. The ending was so satisfying and the entire novel left me with a desire to know even more about the Habsburgs....more
I really wanted to like this book--the premise sounded so exciting! I've never read anything about the Rosenbergs (I actually only know about them, II really wanted to like this book--the premise sounded so exciting! I've never read anything about the Rosenbergs (I actually only know about them, I think, because I read The Bell Jar and they are mentioned in the opening pages) or the Cold War, so I thought this would be a fascinating read. I don't want to bash the book, because I think Jillian Cantor writes beautifully; I just think the story was lacking.
Millie herself is a rather flat character, in my opinion. I found myself getting frustrated with her and then outright annoyed toward the end of the novel. Sure, she did some things that I finally got excited about (especially to her awful husband), but she was also plenty weak. She would do something stupid (I knew it was stupid, she knew it was stupid...) and then exclaim, "Oh no! That was so stupid! Why did I do that?" And I wanted to throttle her.
Also, I had problems with her relationship with the Rosenbergs, especially with Ethel. To me, there didn't seem to be a relationship at all--Ethel was sort of dismissive of Millie or closed off from her most of the time. I understood that Millie was lonely and needed a friend, but even Ethel didn't seem to be that friend. At the end of the novel, the author explained that she believed the Rosenbergs (specifically Ethel) to be innocent and tried to convey that in the novel. I actually believed that they could have spied, based on the way Cantor portrayed the couple. Julius was friendly but standoffish, and Ethel was downright secretive and rude to Millie a lot of the time.
Don't even get me started on Jake--what? What are you doing? You're the worst FBI agent EVER. You're terrible. And what even happened? What was he? What was Millie's husband, Ed? I mean, Cantor does reveal it all in the novel but it's so convoluted that I just didn't even care anymore what everyone's motives were. It all just got to be so insane.
I think Jillian Cantor is an author I'd like to read more from, so I put her other novel, Margot, on hold at the library. I think she is talented at keeping the reader engaged and even though I wasn't a big fan of this novel, I flew through it in only a few days. I think maybe the way she chose to portray the characters in this novel was not to my taste....more
I loved this almost as much as the first Maisie Dobbs novel. What makes these stories great is a mixture of Maisie's personal story with the mystery aI loved this almost as much as the first Maisie Dobbs novel. What makes these stories great is a mixture of Maisie's personal story with the mystery at hand, as well as the historical background that Winspear creates. This series is quickly becoming my go-to when I just want to read a book I know I'll love....more
What a wonderfully written, beautifully imagined novel. Finally, a novel about vampires that isn't totally the same as all the others! Don't get me wrWhat a wonderfully written, beautifully imagined novel. Finally, a novel about vampires that isn't totally the same as all the others! Don't get me wrong, I do love some of the others, but this is a new way to see vampires in a novel.
Diana Bishop, a witch who's been trying to keep her powers under control since she was seven years old, is a visiting professor at Oxford studying the history of alchemy when she requests a manuscript from the stacks of the Bodleian Library. Right away, she can tell something is off about it--she can FEEL it and it responds to her touch. She quickly sends it back to the stacks and unleashes a whole lot of trouble on herself. The many creatures inhabiting the world (including vampires, daemons, and other witches) descend on Oxford right before the term starts and begin following Diana everywhere. She meets Matthew, the typical tall-dark-and-handsome type who, at first, you're not totally sure you can trust.
Honestly, just read it. It's so well-written and so well-researched that it's totally worth it. Diana isn't a simpering character that just wants to be saved all the time--she's strong and powerful, but she's also human. Matthew is a wonderful character too, though he exhibits the same "protective instincts" that all vampires seem to get in novels, which can be annoying after awhile. The scientific explanations, theories, and mysteries Harkness weaves into the tale are amazing--they really tie the story together and bring it into the 21st century. And I'm not sure who I'll miss most until I can get my hands on the second novel--Matthew and Diana or the supporting characters....more
What can I say about this book? It was incredible. I heard so many positive things about it but it took me years to finally sit down and read it becauWhat can I say about this book? It was incredible. I heard so many positive things about it but it took me years to finally sit down and read it because I thought, "I'll never be interested in or be able to follow a battle." Oh, my friends, I was wrong. It's about the battle, but not necessarily the technicalities of it--this novel is about the humanity that was lost and the ones that survived over the three days at the Battle of Gettysburg. Read it!...more
Jean Plaidy's writing can be too over the top sometimes, which is a shame because the first book in this Norman trilogy, The Bastard King, was excelleJean Plaidy's writing can be too over the top sometimes, which is a shame because the first book in this Norman trilogy, The Bastard King, was excellent. The Passionate Enemies left me wanting something, though.
Henry I finds himself advancing in age with no son and heir in sight and so he marries Adelicia of Louvain, a woman much younger than he is, to produce a son. After some time without even a hint of a pregnancy, Henry forces his court to swear fealty to the Empress Matilda (former empress of the Holy Roman Empire, newly returned to England after the death of her husband). That doesn't quite work out the way anyone planned when Henry dies and his nephew, Stephen of Blois, takes the throne instead. A bloody civil war ensues.
This story is fascinating in and of itself and any time I read an author's interpretation of the events, I love to see how they characterize the major players. Here is how Plaidy characterized them: Women = either megalomaniacal with a touch of sadist or meek and mild. Men = sex-crazed and obsessed with power or good and loyal.
You would think that would make for a good story, but the characters were over the top. I especially disliked the overarching theme of obsession between Stephen and Matilda, it didn't fit at all. I'm sure I will pick up another Plaidy novel at some point, but for now I think I'll stick to Philippa Carr's novels....more