In the first book of the "Brides of Montclair" series, Noramary Marsh marries Duncan Montrose as a "substitute bride" when his fiancee, her cousin, elIn the first book of the "Brides of Montclair" series, Noramary Marsh marries Duncan Montrose as a "substitute bride" when his fiancee, her cousin, elopes with another man. Although she'd had her own secret plans to marry her childhood sweetheart Robert, she understands it to be her duty to her family to save them from disgrace by fulfilling the promise they made to Duncan: to provide him with a bride. Noramary is determined to put the past behind her and look to her future as the mistress of Montclair, and as Duncan Montrose's wife. She hopes she will find happiness and purpose in her new life.
I'd read the third and fourth books of the "Brides of Montclair" series as a child and adored one of them (the other was a fine book, but I hated the heroine so I couldn't really like it), and was always curious to read more. Finally I did. I would have loved it when I was younger, and, actually, I quite enjoyed it now. It's an interesting story, if perhaps a bit unrealistic--I hope--and although the heroine may be a little too good and too lacking in self-confidence, the characters are well defined. More importantly, this book made me truly feel emotions for and along with the heroine. It genuinely touched me.
It's nice to have books about a romance that don't include anything more graphic than a passionate kiss--not that I'm a prude, but I don't feel like I need to read all the details of someone's sex life. Or maybe I am a prude. Either way, it's nice to not have to deal with it, because it means that what's really important is not the sex, but the love. This is a story about a couple falling in love. There are easy times and hard times, there is happiness and misery, and there is love. It's the kind of thing there should probably be more of.
There was a lot of mention of Christianity and G-d. I could have done without that, but I didn't really mind it. Maybe this was written to be a Christian book (that would explain the lack of sex), although I don't recall there being as much mention of that stuff in the two other "Brides of Montclair" books I'd read as a child--of course, I didn't notice anything Christian about Narnia when I read it as a child either. Regardless, I didn't take it as preachy, because I think it's appropriate for people of that time period to be devout Christians and, moreover, to think about G-d more often than I assume Christians nowadays do.
The only thing that bothered me at all about the book was the fact and the way that slaves were included: the heroine is introduced to the black household staff, who were described as "servants." Presumably this term is a more child-friendly way of introducing the topic, which is in some ways admirable but in other ways a cop-out. I honestly don't know if it would have been better or worse to just call them slaves...I mostly wish that the issue didn't exist at all, but it's an unerasable part of American history. At the time and place that this story takes place, there was obviously slavery, and it would have been unrealistic and unnatural for there not to have been slaves in the story, but it still made me uncomfortable. What made me positively cringe, however, was the accents that the so-called servants spoke it. Again, this may have been realistic, but it was uncomfortable to read....more
I read this book at my mom's request, because she really likes the author and the series of which this is the beginning. I enjoyed it as an interestinI read this book at my mom's request, because she really likes the author and the series of which this is the beginning. I enjoyed it as an interesting look at the legal world as well as a good mystery that made for a very quick read. My enjoyment was probably more like four stars' worth, but I don't pretend that this is great literature--plus I'm leaving room for improvement in future books, which I plan to read. The writing was great, but I'm pretty sure that the plotting and characterization (which were already good) and other writing elements will improve, simply because first time authors almost always improve when they learn more tricks of the trade, and find their voices and their confidence.
Lisa Scottoline's first book introduces us to Mary DiNunzio, a lawyer from South Philadelphia who is up for partner at her prestigious law firm. As stressful as her job is, her personal life is worse, as she's being stalked and threatened by someone. The story is very fast-paced, despite the range of story elements to it. The mystery of the stalker is intriguing and has some surprising developments, Mary's family is realistic and has moments together that are relatable, and there is also a lot about various court cases and other legal proceedings that was pretty interesting and rounded out the story well.
This was a first book in a series, and as such, it had a lot of exposition: introducing the characters, sketching out--or sometimes detailing--their personal histories and relationships with one another, showing the workings of a law office, and explaining intricacies of the judicial system. Some of it was skillfully and naturally woven in to the story and some was less so, but none of it was bad. There was perhaps a bit too much back story revealed; maybe some of it could have been saved for future books--or maybe in the future books there's plenty to go around, and I shouldn't complain. Actually my only real complaint about this book is how easily Mary switched her suspicions from person to person at what seemed to me little provocation. This could be reasonable paranoia, given her circumstances, but it annoyed me. Oh, and she didn't take care of her cat! OK, I guess that's not a major complaint, but still, poor Alice. Also, the pacing was a little fast. Anyway, this was definitely an enjoyable book, and since this was the author's debut novel, don't judge it too harshly....more
In Gilded, a sixteen year old Korean-American girl recently transplanted to her ancestral homeland finds herself part of an ancient family curse and aIn Gilded, a sixteen year old Korean-American girl recently transplanted to her ancestral homeland finds herself part of an ancient family curse and a supernatural struggle between Korean mythological figures and deities--and her life is in the balance. The story gives the reader a glimpse of life in Seoul, as well as a look at Korean culture, history, and mythology. It's a very interesting premise, and a very refreshing change from standard fare, but the execution was a bit of a let down. Good for a young adult, I suppose, but not for an adult reader.
I gave this book three stars because I think it is good enough for what it's trying to be, but if I were rating it for myself alone, I would not give it more than two stars. My frustration with it was nearly equal to my enjoyment of it. Much too much of the story was focused on teenage romance (and by that I don't just mean a romance between teenagers, but a romance with the maturity level of teenagers--in other words, nothing real and nothing that I want to read about) and friendship and family dramas. The characters were mostly one-dimensional, all seemed to have the irrationality, impulsiveness, and emotional maturity of teenagers and, as ill-defined as they were, still managed to act out of character.
Still, I enjoyed reading this book. I was interested in the story and I was very interested to learn about Korean culture. I would definitely recommend it to an actual young adult or to someone will doesn't mind the lesser quality of some young adult books or the inanity and melodrama of teenagers....more
Alexia Maccon, nee Tarabotti, is back for another adventure and to solve another mystery, along with her friends (and husband) from Soulless as well aAlexia Maccon, nee Tarabotti, is back for another adventure and to solve another mystery, along with her friends (and husband) from Soulless as well as some new characters, one or some or all of whom may be trying to kill her. The main mystery she's trying to solve is what is causing the mass humanization of all the usually supernatural. The new characters include a charming and beautiful cross-dressing French female inventor Madame Lefoux, a pack of angry Scottish werewolves, and, worst of all, her shallow, self-involved, petty, mean-girl half sister Felicity.
The mystery brought up some interesting ideas and possibilities regarding the preternatural and questions about what might be even more powerful against the supernatural than Alexia.
I very much enjoyed Madame Lefoux and hope to see her again in future books. She was fun as a character, and I enjoyed her interactions with Alexia, not to mention was intrigued by the possibilities of exploring her past. I hated Felicity, but I'm more than pretty sure that I was supposed to, seeing as how Alexia certainly does. The Scottish werewolves were mostly in the background but, again, I hope to learn more about them in the future.
I did enjoy this book but nowhere near as much as I enjoyed the first one. It's really too bad since my interest in this was why I read Soulless in the first place. It had a lot of potential, and a lot of stuff I like: Scotland, more steampunk technology than the first book, the Scottish highlands, Lord Akeldama, Scottish people, Egyptology, Scottish accents, Victorian clothing, Scottish men, humor, Scottish men in kilts, tea, and more. And yet, it didn't add up to something truly special.
This is probably because there were simply too many flaws and disappointments, and they were just enough to overpower the good. First the flaws: As before, the dialogue was really not-British, and here it was also not-Scottish, despite (too) liberal usage of "ken"s and "dinna"s and "nae"s. Ivy in a larger dose than the first time was simply too annoying and silly--sometimes not believably so. There were a few sentences which I had to read several times to make sure they were grammatically correct, and at least one that proved to in fact not be. There were other editing errors, which in one case included the same sentence appearing twice in a paragraph (but not twice in a row, so this wasn't a copy editing problem). There were some areas where research was lacking (although I admit I may be the only person nerdy enough to notice this): mummies were "unrolled," not "unwrapped", and, more importantly, English people went to Gretna Green to marry because the marriage laws were looser in Scotland and it was the closest Scottish village to the English border; if a couple was already in Scotland there would be no need to go to Gretna Green.
Then the disappointments: Not enough Professor Lyall. Not enough Floote. Not enough Lord Akeldama. OK, I suppose there was actually plenty of him, but I wanted more anyway. The real problem was the lack of emotional connection and closeness between him and Alexia. She mentions that he trusted her with his life, and says they are close friends, but it's not shown at all--even though he gives her an appointed time to contact him via aethographic transmitter, she first contacts him just to test the machine at her end, and doesn't say anything personal in her message. It honestly would have hurt me to have received that message. There was a similar problem in the relationship between Alexia and Lord Maccon: their connection was said but not really shown to be anything more than physical. After the first book, where I felt Alexia's emotions through the page, this was a letdown. Lastly, I don't know how much consider this to be a flaw, but, as before (and even more so, to be honest) all the revelations and answers to the mysteries were pretty obvious from the very start. Even the ending that so many reviewers seemed to think was a huge twist was something I expected for almost the entire book (admittedly, I might not have thought about what Lord Maccon's reaction would be if I hadn't read that there was a huge shocking twist coming up).
Despite all my complaints, I did enjoy the book, and will read the next one, Blameless, when it comes out, and probably all the ones after that....more
This is a good standalone quasi-gothic novel from the excellent Elizabeth Peters, with a clever and sympathetic heroine, an interesting mystery, a lovThis is a good standalone quasi-gothic novel from the excellent Elizabeth Peters, with a clever and sympathetic heroine, an interesting mystery, a love interest, and some bad guys--if you choose to see it that way. It could also be seen as the first story that involves a certain Mr. John Tregarth (who may in later books appear with an assumed title and a different surname...), and since I heard that Peters' original title of the book was Her Cousin John (and since I love the Vicky and John books to a ridiculous degree), I choose that. As such, it's also a good quasi-gothic novel, with all those same good things, but it's not exactly standalone.
Either way it's good, and as eminently and pleasurably readable and fun as any Elizabeth Peters book....more
The art continues to be absolutely gorgeous. With four beautiful full-color pages at the beginning, lovely full-page (splash page?) fantasy scenes, anThe art continues to be absolutely gorgeous. With four beautiful full-color pages at the beginning, lovely full-page (splash page?) fantasy scenes, and wonderful art throughout, this book is an aesthetic feast.
Unfortunately, the events continue to be very hard to follow. The story isn't particularly confusing: a human girl is married to the water g-d Habaek, and she's trying to figure out: a) if the little boy Habaek that she knows during the day is the same person as the adult "Mui" that she encounters at night, who she has feelings for, and b) who among their companions she can trust. I got that bit. But the details? Those I'm not so sure about. If there's any sort of action going on, the beautiful pictures don't illuminate it well enough, and the dialogue is neither explanatory enough nor clear about who is speaking it. Oh well.
I decided that in the first volume, the art was worth the price of the book, and I feel the same way about this one...but I'm not sure if I'm going to seek out future volumes or not. Aw hell, it's so beautiful I probably will....more
**spoiler alert** This book ended with some interesting ideas about a lost gospel written in Coptic on papyrus and a weird Christian sect trying to su**spoiler alert** This book ended with some interesting ideas about a lost gospel written in Coptic on papyrus and a weird Christian sect trying to suppress mention of a son of Jesus--long before either The Gospel of Judas or The Da Vinci Code were making headlines. Go Elizabeth Peters!...more