In February 1922, a shot rings out, a man is seen leaving the home of Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor, and the film industry is rocked by onIn February 1922, a shot rings out, a man is seen leaving the home of Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor, and the film industry is rocked by one of the greatest mysteries and greatest scandals in its early history. Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood follows the ups and downs of early Hollywood, including the secrets surrounding the life and death of William Desmond Taylor. Mann does a wonderful job in creating an enjoyable and well researched read. Unfortunately, while Mann makes us thinks this research is leading to a major breakthrough in the case, it's actually leading to yet another possible scenario founded on conjecture and circumstantial evidence. Does Mann's solution make sense? Possibly. Does Mann provide any evidence equivalent to actual proof? Not so much. While the writing and research make this an interesting read, Mann's proclamation that his solution is somehow the only possible solution simply has no real evidentiary basis and ruins the ending of what could otherwise have been a truly wonderful book....more
The idea of this book is solid, and there are definitely moments that are fun and engaging. Unfortunately, the writing seems immature. The work is stiThe idea of this book is solid, and there are definitely moments that are fun and engaging. Unfortunately, the writing seems immature. The work is stilted, the dialogue is flat, and the characters are underdeveloped. I wish I could give it a higher rating, but the writing makes it difficult to just push it into the three star range....more
It begins with an ending. As world-famous actor Arthur Leander collapses onstage, dying from a heart attack, little do the people in the theater knowIt begins with an ending. As world-famous actor Arthur Leander collapses onstage, dying from a heart attack, little do the people in the theater know that a greater death is waiting outside. A civilization ending virus has spread the world, sparing few. Those that are left must come to terms with the fact that the world they knew is no more and must find their way in the new and chaotic world left behind.
I must admit, I'm not one who generally gravitates to post-apocalyptic/dystopian, but there was something about this novel that called to me. I questioned, more than once, why I had put this book on my "to-read" list. Still, I kept being drawn back to it, and I'm glad I was. I'm glad I gave in to its call. This is a beautifully written novel, following the paths of those who knew Arthur, weaving multiple lines into one consistent plot. The characters' incredible depth is only increased as their storylines intersect. It is emotionally intense even when there is a sense of detachment. It is a novel full of heartbreak but also full of hope. Masterfully written, it's a definite must read, even for those who don't normally lean toward this genre, and definitely one of the best books of the year. ...more
Theodosia Browning is back in the fifteenth installment of this series. The perfect Theodosia Browning with the perfect wardrobe, the perfect body, thTheodosia Browning is back in the fifteenth installment of this series. The perfect Theodosia Browning with the perfect wardrobe, the perfect body, the perfect charm, the perfect talent, the perfect work ethic, the perfect friends who happen to be the perfect employees, a perfect chef, and a perfect tea expert who is also the perfect dresser. Theodosia lives in the perfect cottage with the perfect dog and runs a perfect tea shop which serves the perfect menu, has the perfect decor, and sells the perfect line of bath products which Theodosia herself has created. Everything is perfect, well, except for the body that spills out of a barrel of wine during a wine tasting at a local vineyard, a wine tasting which Theordosia happens to be attending. Of course, Theo is brought in to look into the murder by the vineyards's owner and her friend, Drayton. After all, she is the perfect investigator. Theo will indeed catch the killer even if she has to chase the killer down through the streets of Charleston, which is absolutely no problem for her as she is the perfect runner, Olympic level even. It's all just perfect.
Unfortunately, this is far from a perfect book. As a long time reader who loved the series when it began, I have become more and more disenchanted with each recent installment. The lead characters have devolved into one-dimensional narcissists. They have basically no flaws, and they know it. The language they use often comes off as too old-fashioned for their ages. Other times it comes off as childish and immature. It's as if they vacillate between the ages of seven and seventy. The plot line is at many times non-existent as it is either bogged down in reinforcing the perfection of the characters or in overly detailed descriptions of the mundanities of life, Charleston, and the Indigo Tea Shop. I used to love the bits that would occur in the tea shop and the description of it all, but, seriously, do we need three separate conversations concerning a single china pattern, especially when it's not the only china pattern which will be discussed? The plot becomes so chopped that the arc can't help but fall flat. Also, many of the scenes, including the final chase and the last debriefing with the sheriff are so ridiculous that one could laugh, if they were in the least bit funny that is. What law enforcement officer would sit back and watch the amateur investigators drink the evidence, especially after they destroyed one of the few other major pieces of evidence already? On top of it all, I have to say that I'm surprised that the perfect Theodosia was unable to identify the killer sooner, especially given she's perfect and the killer's identity was so incredibly obvious from the outset. Perhaps, Theo isn't so perfect after all. Perhaps, she could use knocked back a few pegs and put back into the realm of the slightly real fictional character. Perhaps, that would bring back the charm that was found early in this series but has been lost. Perhaps, the author could stop with the over indulgence in her characters and over-the-top descriptions. Perhaps, the flow of the story, of the mystery could actually be restore. Perhaps, this series could be saved. I hope that's true, but given the last couple of installments, I won't hold my breath. ...more
A book as appropriate and important today as the day it was written, Black Like Me is a sociological and anthropological look at prejudice and discrimA book as appropriate and important today as the day it was written, Black Like Me is a sociological and anthropological look at prejudice and discrimination centered around race relations. Yet, this can easily be seen in matters beyond race in many instances. While some of the issues have lessened and changed, others have become better hidden, and still others have simply shifted to other population groups, When reading one can see the familiar justifications and excuses still given today. An enlightening look at the dynamics that drive discrimination....more
As a long time reader of both this series and the author's Den of Antiquity series, I am beyond disappointed in this book. There is virtually no plotAs a long time reader of both this series and the author's Den of Antiquity series, I am beyond disappointed in this book. There is virtually no plot whatsoever. The characters are flat and beyond annoying. Basically, it seems the author has brought forth every pun, quip, and sarcastic comment ever used in the series and thrown them in this book to be repeated ad nauseam. On top of that, she seems to have taken every criticism or critique ever given to her by a reader or editor and made passive aggressive comments concerning them. This work simply comes off as a self-serving, lazy attempt that thumbs its nose at the readers. This is by far the worst book I've read this year, possibly longer....more
Shadow of Night, the second book of the All Souls Trilogy, picks up where it's predecessor, A Discovery of Witches, leaves off. We have gone back in tShadow of Night, the second book of the All Souls Trilogy, picks up where it's predecessor, A Discovery of Witches, leaves off. We have gone back in time with Matthew and Diana to Elizabethan England and find ourselves ensconced in the Old Lodge surrounded by the School of Night, a band of daemons, poets, astronomers, and misanthropes all some of Matthew's closest friends. The book follows Matthew and Diana's journey to discover the lost book, Ashmole 782, and the truth about Diana's powers as well as someone to help her tame them. We travel with them experiencing their ups and downs, their triumphs and betrayals, their introductions to new friends and their good-byes to family lost long ago. While Diana and Matthew work to find the book that describes the origin of creatures and a witch to describe the truth of Diana's powers, what they actually uncover and come to terms with are their own secrets, things they've been hiding not only from each other, but also from themselves, leaving them irrevocably changed.
At first, I must admit that I was rather disappointed by the book. As an avid fan of ADoW, I felt let down by what I felt was a slow and rather boring beginning. I felt that neither Diana nor Matthew felt like the Diana and Matthew I knew from the previous book. I felt that some of the things that we had been waiting for from the midpoint of ADoW seemed to be brushed over rather quickly, which made the events seem very anti-climactic. Once I found myself in Prague, the storyline seemed to pick up and I was happy for the change in pace and what I felt was more like the Matthew and Diana I knew and fell in love with in the first book. Truthfully, if you asked me what I would have rated this book yesterday, I would probably have given it only three stars, but once I began the last few chapters, my feelings began to change, things began to make sense.
Of course the Matthew and Diana in the first few chapters of this book were not like the Matthew and Diana we knew from ADoW. How could it be? They had not only been changed by their relationship and the struggles they faced in the first book, but they were now facing changes that brought up old secrets and old worries that they had worked to bury. They were facing a life in a world that they did not know. Yes, Matthew had lived through the Elizabethan Era before, but Matthew was no longer the same Matthew he was then. Centuries had passed and he had changed, even before he met Diana. Their relationship changed the situation even more. On top of that, they are learning to live not only as individuals, but as husband and wife, as vampire and witch, as two beings that history says should not exist let alone be wed. Matthew is facing his past as someone who openly supported the burning of witches. Diana is dealing with her fears of what her magic contains and her belief that it may make her more susceptible to those who hate or fear witches rather than more powerful as Matthew and others believe. The reason the first part of the book seems so slow to unfold is that Matthew and Diana hold on to these secrets and fears so hard and are slow to let them unfold. It is part of their nature, this is in fact a huge part of the Matthew and Diana we know from the first book.
Once I realized this, the first part of the book began to make much more sense, the Elizabethan versions of Matthew and Diana began to make much more sense. For that reason, my three start opinion of the book turned into a five star opinion. Once I came to better understand more of those internal conflicts raging within Matthew and Diana, it helped to connect me to the story in a way I hadn't before. It helped me feel the first half of the book in a way I hadn't. That emotional connection is the sign of a great book.
I will await the third and final installment of this series eagerly....more
A Discovery of Witches is a beautiful story involving history, the supernatural, and forbidden love.
Diana Bishop has always hidden who she really is aA Discovery of Witches is a beautiful story involving history, the supernatural, and forbidden love.
Diana Bishop has always hidden who she really is and avoided close relationships, at least since the death of her beloved parents when she was seven. Instead she has thrown herself into her education and her work, the study of the history of science, specifically alchemy.
All of this changes when her she calls up a long lost manuscript from the stacks of the Bodleian Library. As soon as Diana touches Ashmole 782, she know it is no ordinary book. What she doesn't realize is just how completely it will change her life.
Soon she is caught up in a world of magic, vampires, witches, and daemons. A world she tried so hard to leave behind. She is also caught up in a forbidden, yet deeply rooted, love for her Oxford colleague, and ancient vampire, Matthew Clairmont. She is also being pursued by a supernatural Congregation who not only wants to keep her apart from Matthew, but also wants control of the ancient manuscript. Will they be able to survive the attacks by the Congregation? Will they be able to uncover the secrets surrounding Diana and her connection with Ashmole 782?
A Discovery of Witches brilliantly mixes the supernatural with romance and history in a way that makes an impossible story seem natural. Not only does the reader found themselves wrapped up in the drama, the romance, the fear, and the magic, but also fixated on uncovering the true history behind the characters and events alluded to in the novel. This is a novel that once you have finished, you feel an incredible need to pick it up and start reading it all over again. Part 2 of the All Souls Trilogy cannot come soon enough....more