Susanna Horenbout travels from Belgium to England to join the court of Henry VIII as his personal painte“A quick and easy read, fun and action-packed.
Susanna Horenbout travels from Belgium to England to join the court of Henry VIII as his personal painter. En route she unwittingly becomes entangled in a treasonous Yorkist plot and her life is in danger. She and her protector, John Parker, must discover who is behind the plot and who is trying to kill them.
There is lots to like in Diener's first novel. Susanna is a likable heroine, capable and assertive, yet without 21st century pretensions, and John Parker makes a very dashing male lead. I did appreciate the historical note at the end stating what was fact and what was fiction.
What let the book down imo was how Susanna walked from one attempt on her life into the next - the constant round of assasination attempts, abductions and muggings. People who like a lot of action with their historical fiction will like this, I didn't. The author clearly knows the time period, so I would have liked for her to mix it up a bit; as it was, we found ourselves in some alley every few pages, daggers and swords at the ready. I also would have liked to hear a bit more about Susanna's art, which I thought would have added a different dimension.
Because of the spacing between the lines the book is a lot shorter than the page count would suggest. This is the first book in a series and since the story isn't completely resolved, I will just have to get on with the next one.
“Baltimore, 1849. Edgar Allan Poe has just been buried in an unmarked grave, his final days a mystery. Ardent admirer Quentin Clark, a young Baltimore“Baltimore, 1849. Edgar Allan Poe has just been buried in an unmarked grave, his final days a mystery. Ardent admirer Quentin Clark, a young Baltimore barrister, bored with his practice, society and life in general, sets out to salvage Poe's somewhat tattered reputation and investigates the circumstances of his death. In order to do so, he has to call on the assistence of the inspiration for Poe's brilliant fictional detective, C. Auguste Dupin.
The premise of this book is wonderful, the excecution however, less so. The main character, Quentin Clark, is completely unlikable, whinging, annoying and a bit unhinged. He is obsessed with this investigation (for no particular reason), throwing away his career, reputation and fiance along the way. The whole story was rather boring, which is particularily disappointing considering the amount of research that must have gone into this book. Actually, the historical note at the end was the best part. ”...more
“Once again, Susan Higginbotham delivers just the right balance of history and fiction by creating a seamless blend of her characters' private lives,“Once again, Susan Higginbotham delivers just the right balance of history and fiction by creating a seamless blend of her characters' private lives, motives and passions, and political events and historical background.
The book follows the live of Katherine Woodville, youngest sister of Elizabeth, Edward IV's wife. I liked this take on the Woodville family, for once not the grasping powerhungry pack of opportunists, but a family who where suddenly punching above their league amongst the old aristocratic houses of England, and who all dealt with it in different ways. The characters were wonderfully well developed and very believable, their actions plausible. Of course, there can be differing opinions on the role of Richard III (there always are!), but this version suits the story and is well thought out.
Like all of Higginbotham's work, this is a well researched book and contains excellent historical detail. As always, the she provides a detailed author's note, separating what is fact, what is opinion and what is fiction. This book is all that historical fiction should be: informative, entertaining and an inspiration to learn more.”...more
Based on an Athabascan Indian legend, this is a story about two old women who where left to die by their tribe during a winter famine. Forced to choosBased on an Athabascan Indian legend, this is a story about two old women who where left to die by their tribe during a winter famine. Forced to choose between dying or "die trying", they rediscover their long forgotten skills and knowledge, and, against the odds, manage to survive, reclaiming their spiritual and mental strength along the way.
This is a classic story steeped in timeless themes such as friendship, betrayal and forgiveness, and it comes with a piognant lesson. However, the writing didn't capture my imagination, although it is probably written in much the same way as it would have been told; it just didn't grab me. The book is a fair bit shorter than the page count would suggest, as it is a small format with rather large print, so it would probably be half the number of pages of an average sized book. ...more
Solicitor Arthur Kipps reminisces about the time when, as a young man, he was sent to a remote rural area by his law firm to attend the funeral of a cSolicitor Arthur Kipps reminisces about the time when, as a young man, he was sent to a remote rural area by his law firm to attend the funeral of a client and sort out the paperwork concerning her estate. There he encounters the woman in black, an experience that will cast a long shadow over his life.
I'm no connoisseur of ghost stories and while this one supplied all the required elements of foreboding, creepiness and gothic setting, I felt it was too short to truly grip the reader. There were some chilling moments, but it was pretty clear early on how the story was going to unfold. It was lucky that I knew from the tags and other reader's reviews that the story was meant to be late Victorian, because it certainly wasn't apparent from the narrative for quite a while. However, I can see how this could be a highly suspenseful downright scary movie. ...more
The story follows the life of Mary Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, Third Duke of Norfolk. I was looking forward to reading this book as I very muchThe story follows the life of Mary Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, Third Duke of Norfolk. I was looking forward to reading this book as I very much enjoyed the author's other novel, Rivals in the Tudor Court. However, the two books have virtually nothing in common (other than the subject, the Howards) and I was quite disappointed with this one on almost every level.
There is very little character development, which is particularily baffling in the case of Norfolk, who was a complex and vivid character in the other book. The writing was also disappointing, with lots of repetition and, occasionally, some rather odd word choices. For some reason, there were tears on every other page (it really got tedious after a while) and I found Mary's and Norfolk's relationship strange and difficult to understand. This one was clearly not for me. ...more
For the first 3/4s of the book this was an elegant mystery, rich in cultural and historical detail. At the end, however, the author chose to pile on tFor the first 3/4s of the book this was an elegant mystery, rich in cultural and historical detail. At the end, however, the author chose to pile on the action and everything seemed to be happening at once, not always in a coherent fashion. If it wasn't for that I would have liked to rate this book higher. Jenny White has written numerous non-fiction works on Turkish politics and society, so I expected a lot of cultural and historical detail, and I certainly wasn't disappointed on that score. I did enjoy the description of the customs and mores of 19th century Turkey, the characters were interesting and believable, with the main character, Kalim Pasha, cutting a particularily dashing figure. The book is told from 3 different perspectives, which worked extremely well for me. I was disappointed to find that there was no glossary, which would have been helpful, given the amount of Turkish words used, although of course one could guess most of them. I'll be reading the next book in the series....more
This is the story of Jeanne Baret, a young woman who, disguised as a man, joined a French expedition in 1765 and became the first woman to circumnavigThis is the story of Jeanne Baret, a young woman who, disguised as a man, joined a French expedition in 1765 and became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. She was the mistress of the expedition's offical naturalist, Philibert Commerson, and, crucially, had a lot of botanical knowledge herself due to her profession as a herb woman. She contributed a lot to Commerson's success, a contribution which went competely unacknowledged. Her life among some 300-odd men on board must have been incredibly hard and it seems her identity was suspected early on. However, although I'm not denying Baret's undoubted achievements, and despite the author's constant efforts to make me like her subject, I could not find much sympathy for her. Baret abandoned her newborn son at an orphanage, chosing her lover over her child, and no matter how much the author tried to gloss this over, it tainted the story for me.
That aside, this is a scholarly examination of an expedition, it's background and the emerging natural sciences. There is an incredible amount of information about the times, the customs, the age of sail and science and I certainly learned a lot. If you're looking for a swashbuckling adventure story you will be disappointed.
The book includes a comprehensive bibliography, however the notes are brief and not annotated, which I found disappointing. As there is very little known about Jeanne Baret, there is necessarily a lot of supposition and it isn't always clear which is which. Overall, it was an informative and interesting read....more
I really enjoyed the first book in this trilogy, The Restorer, and I was happy to find that this installment lived up to my expectations. The storylinI really enjoyed the first book in this trilogy, The Restorer, and I was happy to find that this installment lived up to my expectations. The storyline has taken a sufficiently different turn to give it a fresh feel, but also answer some questions left open in the previous book. Amelia is off to a different graveyard, meets a new love interest and also new dangers. This story is more concerned with her past and the mystery of her birth parents. I loved the addition of Angus the dog, he really stole the show imo! The book was not perfect though, as there were quite a few loose ends and the backgrounds and motivations of some characters were not sufficiently explained. The highlight though was, once again, Stevens' beautiful writing, effortlessly weaving her magic and creating tension, suspense and sinister atmosphere in spades. I can't wait for The Prophet!...more
Initially I didn't plan to read this book because of the Mills&Boon style cover and the romancey description - I'm glad I changed my mind because,Initially I didn't plan to read this book because of the Mills&Boon style cover and the romancey description - I'm glad I changed my mind because, fortunately, neither accurately represents this story. The book follows the life of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, his two marriages and his changing fortunes at court. The book gave me a very different view of Thomas Howard, not necessarily a sympathetic one, but certainly a far more complex picture than the usual portrayal of a ruthless aging courtier who used two of his nieces as pawns for his ambitious plans. I liked the author's interpretation of the main characters and their motivations and the story held my attention from beginning to end. I do take points off though for the absence of an author's note....more
Life Below Stairs gives a good impression of what life was like for people in service in the early 1900s, featuring job descriptions, daily schedules,Life Below Stairs gives a good impression of what life was like for people in service in the early 1900s, featuring job descriptions, daily schedules, a few recipes and discusses pay and conditions. Unfortunately, the book is very short and it reads more like an essay than a book. I was disappointed to find that there was not a single photo included and the author used only snippets of first-hand accounts from other books. A lot of readers will be familiar with most of the contents from watching the popular period tv series and I didn't find much new information that goes beyond what is already common knowledge; however, if you are new to the subject and don't like big books, this one is a perfect starting point....more