I was intrigued by the first book in this series, Mr. Churchill's Secretary. I didn't particularly like Maggie (in face she seemed to be a bit of a MaI was intrigued by the first book in this series, Mr. Churchill's Secretary. I didn't particularly like Maggie (in face she seemed to be a bit of a Mary Sue in that book, and this book reinforced my opinion of her - men instantly falling in love/lust with her; we're constantly told how unbelievably intelligent she is; it seems like she knows or is good at everything except where the plot point requires that she doesn't, though she is always quick to correct that). However, I loved the supporting characters - David, Chuck, John, etc. - and I thought Susan Elia MacNeal did fairly well with the historical characters.
Though it was obvious that the author did research, both books were rife with historical inaccuracies. I’m the sort of person that is easily bothered by something like that, particularly when a five minute google search can correct an inaccuracy. (view spoiler)[ For instance, there were no British fighters flying over Berlin in late 1940 (and it must be winter 1940 because of the Coventry raid); the earliest known flight was a reconnaissance flight in March 1941, and operations didn’t begin in earnest until 1943. What was John doing, then, flying a Spitfire over Berlin? How did he get through training in two months, anyway? The last book was late September and this is one is mid-November of 1940. (hide spoiler)]
Perhaps because of the errors, I never got a really good feeling for the time and place the novels are set in. Wartime London never really comes alive for me. Time is compressed very oddly in these stories anyway. In the first book for example, we are in June in chapter one and then must be in late September in the next, because the bombing of London has started. The readers are never advised, either through placards before the chapters or in the text itself, that there is any sort of time change (though time is signposted more clearly in PES than MCS - the Coventry raid provides context to figure out when this is supposed to be happening).
The editing is also kind of bizarre as well, though that’s been covered in other reviews, so I’ll leave it.
These things bugged me while reading both books. I thought the author was actually pretty good and that Secretary was clearly a debut novel. There was a good story there and I thought the second book would get better. I tried to turn my brain off and enjoy a fluffy read. I originally thought both books were about three star range; enjoyable, not great, may read future books sort of level.
But then, as I was progressing through the second book, I realized several plotlines were very familiar. A friend had just recommended the British TV series Foyle’s War on Netflix and I had just started watching it. The first episode deals with an older man who is married to a German immigrant. His wife is detained for possibly spying (the letter in the book and a photograph in the tv show) and dies of a heart attack while in the internment camp. His son, I think, goes to the local wealthy, powerful man in the show; Mr. Tooke goes to the King, and both are turned away. Both the son and Mr. Tooke remind the powerful man that an important person in their life is German, as well - the wealthy man’s second wife in the show and Lady Lily in the book. Both women are later killed gruesomely - decapitated by a piano wire strung between trees while out on their usual rides.
The similarities do not stop there. The Detective Chief Superintendent called to the crime scene in both the book and the show is a middle-aged widower with a son serving in the military (Foyle’s son is in the RAF and Wilson’s is in the Royal Navy). They both served in WWI and tried to offer their services for the war effort during the current war, but were turned down.
I was shocked reading it, as it was instantly recognizable to me and probably anyone that has seen the first episode of Foyle’s War. I googled it, and found that it seems the author not only did not properly attribute these borrowed plot points, she also borrowed another, even more important plot point from another TV show, down to some of the dialogue.
It may not be out and out plagiarism, but what happened here is very, very close. I can’t give this book anything more than one star as a result. I certainly won’t be purchasing any further books in the series.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Fun, well-written mystery. I loved the characters - Malloy and Sarah were great characters, and all of the secondary characters were well-d3.5 stars.
Fun, well-written mystery. I loved the characters - Malloy and Sarah were great characters, and all of the secondary characters were well-drawn and interesting. Good historical details give the book a 19th century feel....more
Slightly silly, but a fun adventure story. Biggest downsides were that the story was slow at the beginning and that it never turned out to be as scarySlightly silly, but a fun adventure story. Biggest downsides were that the story was slow at the beginning and that it never turned out to be as scary as I wanted or expected. Easy, quick read. The author clearly did a lot of research about the Titanic....more
A fun dual mystery set in 1920s London. This was my first introduction to Joe Sandilands of the Metropolitan Police and I found him to be an engagingA fun dual mystery set in 1920s London. This was my first introduction to Joe Sandilands of the Metropolitan Police and I found him to be an engaging character. I also enjoyed Lily Wentworth, his partner, who is a rather kick-ass police officer. Throw in a mystery involving high profile murders and attempted murders (which ended a bit surprisingly) and a Romanov twist, and I sailed through it, thoroughly entertained. I'm making an effort to pick up some of the others in series, and hope they are as entertaining as this one....more
I really, really wanted to like this book. I loved the concept - three teens wi**spoiler alert** 2-2.5 Stars/5
Note: I received an eARC from NetGalley.
I really, really wanted to like this book. I loved the concept - three teens with an exotic disease roam the streets and inadvertently see something wrong in an apartment while doing Parkour. It has so much potential to be an incredibly fun read, with the teenagers investigating, but being hampered by their XP.
However, I had a lot of trouble getting into the book. I positively slogged through and could never really relate to the characters or to their problems or inhabit their world. My favorite books pull me into the story and refuse to let me go, even if I have to go and get actual work done. I think about the book long after it's put away and can't wait to get back to it. With this book, I found excuses to not pick it up.
Allie and Juliet are reasonably well-drawn characters. Rob seemed to be little more than a cardboard cutout, placed there solely so Allie could angst over him. The mini love triangle that devolves into an odd romance between Allie and Rob just didn't work for me - one moment Rob's in love with Juliet and the next with Allie? It just seemed unnecessary to me. I have never been a teenage boy, so maybe I just don't get it, but Rob never made sense to me as a character and this was one large reason why. Furthermore, many of the motivations for characters' actions were complete mysteries to me - I could not relate to them at all, let along figure out their thinking process.
Anyway, the supporting characters were practically non-existent - they were there but showed little substance. Allie's little sister, her mother, her mother's friend, the pizza man, even the murderer himself never really came alive for me. They could have just as easily not been in the book at all. And while I can understand why and how a teenage character might be slightly self-centered and so other characters might suffer in an unreliable narrator-type situation, when the book ends and I don't have much sense or opinion about the main antagonist, I feel like that's a failure on the writer's part.
The pacing and the writing itself bothered me as well. The pacing of the mystery and the suspense seemed off, for some reason, for the entire book. Nothing that I can put my finger on, but the actions would have these periods where it slowed almost to a crawl; maybe the reason the read was hard for me to get through? On a side note: I'm not an expert in Parkour, but it seems unlikely that three teenagers could become so very good at the discipline in about three months - that stretched the bounds of my willing suspension of disbelief. Back to the point, the writing seems to twist back on and almost repeat itself - I had a couple of deja vu-like moments. The book itself had too many loose ends at the end; I would have loved some resolution, even with the cliff-hanger ending.
The stars I did give to it were for the concept and for Allie. Sometimes she and her actions didn't make a whit of sense to me, but I genuinely liked the character and her spunkiness. I'm giving it two stars, rather than rounding up to three because I was disappointed in the execution of this interesting and different premise.
Unfortunately, I do not think I can recommend this book, and I will likely not pick up what appears the intended sequel....more
I have a bit of a confession to make - I love the Phryne Fisher**spoiler alert** 3.5/5 stars rounded up to four.
I received this e-ARC from NetGalley.
I have a bit of a confession to make - I love the Phryne Fisher mysteries in general, and Unnatural Habits, the nineteenth entry into the series, did not let me down.
The Hon. Miss Phryne Fisher is one of the best of the post-WWI sleuthing heroines - she is witty, smart, charming and extremely good at her job. Though there are some small allusions to other books or information that could be gleaned over the course of the series, Unnatural Habits is also suitable for a newcomer to the series. The recurring characters are all well-introduced and the mystery is self-contained. It also twisty and fun as well, involving missing pregnant girls, a missing journalist, socialists, white slavery, very terrible nuns and very vengeful 'nuns.' As expected, I had a great time following the clues along with Phryne and her minions.
I only had one small problem with the story itself - one thread of the mystery was tied up a bit too neatly in my opinion and involved a character whose very characterization in the early going makes them an unlikely candidate to be involved, in my opinion. Aside from this small niggle, this was a thoroughly enjoyable book and a lot of fun to read.
I would recommend to anyone that enjoys the Phryne Fisher series, or the Maisie Dobbs and Daisy Dalrymple series....more