Ariah Burnaby is a conundrum. Not just to those around her but to me after hundreds of pages. Rarely have I spent so much time reading about a charact...moreAriah Burnaby is a conundrum. Not just to those around her but to me after hundreds of pages. Rarely have I spent so much time reading about a character and depart at the end feeling that I never got to really know them. Still, I very much enjoyed this book. I kept wanting to understand or see if she'd ever divulge something to explain it all. She didn't. To the end, she was ever Ariah. They sympathy I felt for her in the beginning was stripped away as the story moves along & her children, Chandler, Royall & Juliet come into their own & she is seen through them. I wanted each of the three to get away simply as a mechanism of personal survival. It was compelling reading. I very much wanted to know if any would discover that she was the legendary lady by The Falls waiting for her fallen first husband to be returned by the churning waters. But the mystery of Dirk Burnaby was likely all that could really be handled & that was well done.
This is going to be on my almost favorites list because while I likely won't read it again, it was a great read & will have me reflecting upon its characters for years. Also, I'm a sucker for a Niagara Falls setting. I think this was the first novel I've read of Joyce Carol Oates & I have to say that I very much liked it.(less)
Sometimes you find a real treat in a Kindle Daily Deal & this was one of those times for me. I adored reading about Miss Buncle & the people i...moreSometimes you find a real treat in a Kindle Daily Deal & this was one of those times for me. I adored reading about Miss Buncle & the people in her town of Silverstream (aka Copperfield). Her book sets off a storm of fevered controversy & an all out hunt for the author that goes from nasty to downright unforgivable. It reminded me of reading Cranford & how small towns & the people who populate them are sometimes intertwined & endearing & infuriating all at once but always engaging. All the while, Miss B is doing her best to be polite & still maintain her cover. The character portrayals were vivid & I was cheering for some (the Vicar, Sally, Sarah, the Colonel & Mrs Bold) & wanted nothing but severe comeuppance for others (particularly Mrs Greensleeves & Mrs Featherstone Hogg)
I was so taken while reading, that I stayed up late into the night. I love being so engaged by a book but sadly, it's not a weekly (or necessarily monthly) occurrence. I tend to give five stars for books that I'd read again & that held my attention so raptly that I experience some sadness when it is over. This one hit all those hallmarks for me & I'm now on the hunt for 'Miss Buncle Married' because I'd love to spend more time with her. I'd never before read anything by Ms. Stevenson so I'm thrilled to have been exposed to another author & a work I'll cherish.(less)
A little mystery & romance are wound through this historical fiction novel & I really liked it. It's third in a series & I've not read the...moreA little mystery & romance are wound through this historical fiction novel & I really liked it. It's third in a series & I've not read the two before this one (I've picked a few of late that are the middle of series. I don't know why). I didn't find it to be a problem at all that I hadn't read the two prior & the story flowed nicely. Suzanne & Malcolm Rannoch are very good characters to pass time with & I'll continue at least to the next book as I already have it on my desk waiting for me. They mystery was well done & I was not terribly surprised about who it was that murdered Tatiana but I was surprised about why. I didn't see that coming. What I did see coming from the beginning was the nature of Tatiana & Malcolm's relationship. I don't know if it was telegraphed so much as it just felt like it had to be what it turned out to be because of the way Malcolm was characterized. Still in all, it was very well done. Add to the murder mystery, the glittering society balls, gowns & the backdrop of political intrigue & I was a happy chica.(less)
I didn't realize that this was part of a series when I picked this one up. It's the third book but prequel to the first. I liked this well enough but...moreI didn't realize that this was part of a series when I picked this one up. It's the third book but prequel to the first. I liked this well enough but I'm not likely to read the others. I've spent enough time with Valentina & Jens. Their characterizations were fine but honestly, I liked the description of the surroundings & secondary characters much more. I just wasn't swept away by this one & when I put it down because life intervened, I didn't pine to get right back. I did finish & could recommend it as a weekend read (it's nice & light).(less)
I thought this was going to be a more serious sweeping historical novel as it's quite the tome. It turns out that it's a frothy borderline trashy roma...moreI thought this was going to be a more serious sweeping historical novel as it's quite the tome. It turns out that it's a frothy borderline trashy romance novel with a historical setting. That's not a bad thing or slam but had I realized that before I was already pulled in, I'd have saved this one for the beach this summer. The main character Barbara (Bab to those closest) is fifteen when we begin and she's going to be married to Roger, a much older man who happens to be an earl & who she's crushed on since she was ten. She's overjoyed & he's marrying her because he's much about a particular piece of property her in her somewhat disgraced family's holdings. This is no impediment to one true love status for Barbara & she's sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt that she will make him love her completely & eternally. It's very easy to see from the beginning that calamity will follow & Barbara is going to get kicked in the teeth. Still, I had to see it unfold. It's engaging like that. And of course, Roger has a deep dark secret that absolutely can't get out, to cause even more drama. Okay, so it was so anvilicious, I figured it out well before I had read 100 pages in. And I kept going, because it's obvious that's going to come out and probably be all kinds of soapy, angsty.
Long story short, it was. The story doesn't end there though. In fact, there's another few hundred pages to go where it kind of goes a bit off the rails plotwise but by then, I didn't really care because though I wanted to see how it all turned out, I wasn't taking it so seriously that I needed anything more than the soaptastic to close it out. It did drag a bit though (there are heavy descriptions throughout of rooms, furniture, gardens, meals & clothes; I love those things usually but after a while, it was too much) & I must say by the end, the only person that I still liked and wanted to know more about was Barbara's grandmother & her scathingly opportunistic mother, Diana. Barbara, I'd had enough of along with everyone else. I found out there's a prequel featuring the grandmother & I may read that in the future. There's also a sequel to this one following Barbara to America but I'm pretty sure I'll skip that one.(less)
This was quite an enjoyable story & it moved at a good clip.I couldn't stop turning the pages because I needed to know Tess would be alright &...moreThis was quite an enjoyable story & it moved at a good clip.I couldn't stop turning the pages because I needed to know Tess would be alright & so would Jim. I very much liked that Tess really took time to try to figure out what she wanted & what was most important to her. She could have tossed in the towel with Lucile tonnes of times early on but she didn't. I was often annoyed but it felt honest for the character & the story being told. Tess seemed to me to have genuine development as a character so when she came to her conclusions, I believed they were right for her at those times. She had more patience than I have & I think it served her well.
Lady DG was a piece of work. I have to say that I was less offended by her actions in the lifeboat than I was by her general manner & demeanor. She was mercurial to the point of needing to be slapped repeatedly. And for all of Cosmo's faults, I actually cheered when he tired of her & told her he was basically leaving her. Elinor was a dutiful sister & even though Lucille was a pill, I was glad that she had that bond when most all her other relationships faltered. James was a decent enough guy but I was never much rooting for him. Also, I found it a little confusing going between the main men in the story: James Bremerton (the businessman) & Jim Bonney (the sailor). That Jim is often a nickname for James just threw me a few times & I wondered why the author chose to name the men so similarly.
The portrayals of real people was fun to read & no surprise, Molly was my favorite. I have to also say that I was impressed that the relating of the sinking of the Titanic was so well done & the immediate aftermath on the Carpathia. The author rendered an already well known instance with notes that were genuinely moving to me. And she didn't linger on the maudlin or get bogged down nor was the halcyon time before the sinking over-romanticized through Tess's eyes. It all felt even handed & true.
I won my copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.(less)
Good entry in series & perfect for a weekend or airport read. Charles Lenox is trying to settle into being newly married to Lady Jane Grey & h...moreGood entry in series & perfect for a weekend or airport read. Charles Lenox is trying to settle into being newly married to Lady Jane Grey & his new seat at Parliament while being drawn into investigating a murder case involving footman Frederick bludgeoned with a brick in a Mayfair alley. I won't give away the answer to the case but I will say that I figured it out before the reveal. I don't think it was a flaw in the writing just good clues woven through & easy enough to work out if one pays attention. The way it all came together with the other strands regarding the killer & those others suspected was quite well done & I enjoyed reading it.
There was also a lot of Parliamentary politics as Charles settles in but it wasn't related to the case, so I basically enjoyed that we get to see Graham (former butler to Charles, now secretary) take on his new role & even impress his new peers. Lady Jane came off a bit odd to me as she was a bit of a harridan about Charles & his penchant for detecting & though married, she knew this was his thing before & she had no issue with it so I don't know why she was so stroppy about it. Anyway, she was brought back around entirely for me when she showed up at Charles's office with Bear & Rabbit, so I was satisfied. (less)
Very good (like 4.5 stars good). Nature vs. Nurture. Free will vs. genetics. Pure logic vs. the heart wanting what it wants. The story is told in two...moreVery good (like 4.5 stars good). Nature vs. Nurture. Free will vs. genetics. Pure logic vs. the heart wanting what it wants. The story is told in two threads. Julia, our modern day geneticist & Lavinia, her great-great grandmother. The women's lives unfold for us as their marriages unravel & the aftermath of the events follow. I very much enjoyed that both women were scientifically minded & took their work seriously. I felt for Lavinia when she was cut off from hers & was glad Julia still had hers when everything else fell apart. Julia's research with the soldiers was a fascinating thread of the story & I still don't know on which side I am of the ethical implications of her undertaking it for the military. I'll be thinking about that for some time. That said, I enjoyed the resolution to it at the end. I did like how the Bakairi tribe & The Tempest were additional threads that tied the two women's stories together across time.
I was very interested in both women but other than them, I only really felt any empathy for Colonel Huntington (though the head shaving of Lavinia & subsequent forced visit to the phrenologist tested that). Julia's husband Klaus was just not sympathetic to me. Every time he showed up after the initial break, he seemed worse. I figured out fairly quickly what Carla's attitude was about & while I was appalled by her brazenness & borderline cruelty, I still wanted to know what made her tick. I was fairly intrigued by Hamish. Gabriel & Aloysius were only nominally interesting but her served their purpose well. I felt the same way about Lady Morgan. Naomi was interesting but not as deeply rendered as the rest.
The only thing a bit off was that the Americans in Julia's thread, don't speak generally as Americans do. Those instances stood out glaringly to me, not the least being that the instances were so frequent. Using "ring" instead of "call", "jumper" instead of "sweater" or "cardigan"; "primary" school teacher instead of "elementary" school teacher; "laying" a table instead of "setting" a table; a waitress in a diner saying saying "one serve of bacon, eggs..." instead of "one order of..."; a born & raised in L.A. soldier saying "get on" instead of "get along"; "night porter" not "security guard". And even with all of those, they were only distractions because it was still a great read. I'd definitely read another by this author. (less)
One of my favorite genres is historical fiction but the Tudor reign is not my absolute favorite time or place to immerse myself (Southern Europe, Egyp...moreOne of my favorite genres is historical fiction but the Tudor reign is not my absolute favorite time or place to immerse myself (Southern Europe, Egypt, House of Este, Borgias, Cleopatra, etc, is where I like most to linger). Even so, I have to say that this was a very engaging read. There's no need to rehash the main players here but I did find the take on the Thomases fairly addictive & fascinating. I must admit that like others, I had to get used to the "he" pronoun in the narration. I've not come across that device much (maybe I've seen it once before) but certainly not in so long a work. Once I got it, I felt it was a more personal way of existing with Thomas & it worked for me. I was really taken with the story & once I got about 60% in, I ended up reading all night to finish. I'll have to read "Bringing Up the Bodies" & won't leave it as long as I did this one.(less)
I bought this a while ago & in my continuing 2013 quest to read some of the lingerers on my Kindle, I tore into this one. I do have something of a...moreI bought this a while ago & in my continuing 2013 quest to read some of the lingerers on my Kindle, I tore into this one. I do have something of a fascination with Vlad (not the vampire) & really enjoyed reading a fictional recounting of his final confession as told through three closest to him. I really had hoped it would be something like Vlad's own words speaking to us in found journals or from the great beyod but I really came to enjoy the points of view of those closest to him. I think the main character is well known enough that I don't need to recount them here but I will say that the author spared nothing in the bloodfest & ruthless campaigning that was done. I thought it was necessary & certainly well written & ultimately does give one a lot to think about when trying to reconcile the man with his deeds. I don't think the author was giving Vlad a pass for anything but simply laying out the complexities of the man & that made for a good read for me. I'm glad that I read it but I probably wouldn't read it again (not a 5 star for me) but I will definitely read more by Humphreys.(less)