My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing. I DO NOT accept review requests but only review books I choose to read and I don't post reviews on Amazon. I'm also persnickity about genre and plot.
by Andrew Taylor
This started with a list of characters, something I always skip past. They don't mean anything until they become a part of the story!
However, once the story began, some familiar characters from the first book of the series appeared, most notably Catherine Lovett and James Marwood. Marwood's father, an old man without all his faculties, starts off in a sequence wherein he follows a woman thinking she is his wife, Rachel, who actually died years ago. He finds a body of a different woman and eventually discovers that the woman he followed is not Rachel.
Thus starts the mystery and intrigue that will shape the story. I found the pace a little slower in the first part of the book than in Ashes of London, the first book of the series, but still interesting and I'm glad I stuck with it as it gets better as more connections fall into place.
The pace actually gets very fast and dramatic in the later part of the book and the spiderweb of connections that have been set up throughout the story all fall into place. In a lot of ways it's a whodunnit, but with political intrigue and a lot of very human emotions involved. It's extremely well-written and I will be looking for a third book, which is hinted at by the very end.
The outcome surprised me not once but twice with plot twists I never saw coming. That's pretty rare!
by Judy Leigh
This reminds me a little of a senior version of Ferris Beuller's Day Off. A 75-year-old woman is bored with life at a retirement home and regrets getting talked into selling her house and moving into the facility. One day she takes her purse and cards and wanders out for a day in the city of Dublin for a change of scene.
Her adventures start pretty quickly. She buys a hat and coat to change her image and falls into 'interesting' company who leads her into trying things she has never done before, like gambling. It all escalates from there and becomes a fascinating journey with many twists and turns, sometimes relying on the luck of the Irish in ways that nudge belief a little far.
I like Evie, the main character. I also like that she was an older character and brought both life experience and attitude to her role. There were a lot of surprises in her story and I enjoyed the read for the most part. I thought a secondary storyline about her son and his wife was drawn out a little too long in the later chapters. I started out not liking Maura and ended not thinking much of Brendan either, but they did add some comic relief to the story.
The later part of the story settled into predictability but I'm glad all the loose ends were tied up. The majority of the tale was great fun and appealed to my sense of rebellion and the sort of old lady I aspire to be when the time comes.
I've started several books, all acquired from Netgalley, and they're all good so far!
What a nice change! At least they're not all the same genre this time.
Wow, the month is nearly over already!
I've managed to finish 3 books. One more than last month anyway. There seems to be a theme here, I do love Historical Fiction but ALL of them?!
I blame Netgalley. I still have one more Historical on my current reads but there is some other stuff too. The Historicals tend to be in the 400 page range so taking me a little longer than some other books might.
All of the above books were 4-5 stars so worth taking the time for them!
Oh and I've been working through my samples again too. Trying to read 2 a day, though sometimes I collect them faster than that!
by Anna-Marie Crowhurst
Set in the seventeenth century, Ursula Flight is an unusual girl with a curious mind and a hankering for adventure. As a child she applies herself to learning to read and to learn about the world in ways that girls of her era seldom do, then a chance meeting with an actress leads her to fascination with a vocation with a bad reputation that is outweighed by the appeal of life on the stage.
Ursula is a likeable character from the start. She's intelligent and curious, more interested in an experience for its own merits than in 'what people will think'. However, although her father encourages her learning, when a local Lord takes a fancy to young Ursula, her father effectively orders her to marry him. Needless to say, Ursula is not pleased with being effectively sold into marriage.
The story is mostly told in first person, so we get a look inside the thoughts of a young girl, her fancies, and her unspoken opinions all along. One of her interests is in writing plays, so we are given interludes that she has depicted as a playwrite and have to wonder how much embellishment Ursula has added to her private writings.
Facing some difficult circumstances in an era when women were treated much as property brings out the strength in the character, even through girlish fancies. The story kept me interested all the way through and made me wonder if I would have had the courage to do some of the things she does to overcome obstacles to her happiness.
This is a really fun read. Sort of a senior version of Ferris Beuller's Day Off. Might still be on Netgalley.
by Andrew Taylor
The Ashes of London is set against the Great London Fire of 1666. There are two stories intertwined. A first person narrative from James Marwood, son of a disgraced printer, who is tasked to track down the killer of a mummified corpse found in St Paul's after it has burned down, alternating with a third person account of Cat, an heiress whose father is in exile for treason who faces many of the hardships that women had to deal with in that era, rich or poor.
Cat is a strong character and intelligent. She has an aptitude for architecture that the role of women would usually squelch, but through a series of mostly unfortunate circumstances, she finds herself in a position to develop.
The changing perspectives actually work very well. There is a healthy dose of political intrigue and an element of mystery to be solved. The book held my attention and the last few chapters got into some tense action that had me glued to the pages. I'm glad I've got the sequel waiting for me because this was definitely one of my best reads this year!
by Edward Rutherfurd
Like other books written by Rutherfurd, history is illustrated within intertwining stories of people and families covering a sequence of centuries showing life and how it developed within the chosen city, in this case, Paris.
I enjoyed the book a lot, though it didn't have quite the generational flow that some of his others did. The stories of individual characters kept me interested and seeing what happened with their descendants was reminiscent of Rutherfurd's style in earlier books.
It is a long book, over 800 pages, and took me a long time to read through all of it, but it was time well spent. Seeing the construction of the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, plus exploring the variable feelings that local residents had about the latter, really brought the history alive. Also reading through eras of religious and political strife in France and how Paris residents were affected expanded my knowledge of history, which is part of the point of reading Historical Fiction!
Rutherfurd remains one of my favorite authors in this genre. The last few chapters took us underground in the French resistance of WW2 and although I find that era generally over saturated, I really got caught up in events, some real, some fictionalized. Rutherfurd included an afterword to differentiate which was which.
There were a few very long chapters that could do with sub-chapters, but it was a good read and kept my interest, despite the length.
Two books. That's all. But double last month's total!
Still pretty pathetic, but in fact I have done as much reading as time has allowed and have made good progress through two long current reads as well as a lot of samples.
Unfortunately the samples total has increased anyway because silly me went on Twitter and did a search on time travel books!
I've also managed to collect four Netgalley books somehow. One is a sequel to one of my current reads.
I seem to be having a Historical Fiction phase, and many of those are longer than average. One of my current reads exceeds 800 pages! So, hopefully April will be better after finishing off some of the current stuff.
Because Netgalley just gave me the sequel! So, thought I better read it first. 3 chapters in and I'm loving the author's voice. I was about due for something historical anyway. It's set against the great fire of London.
by Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett is undeniably one of the best humorous fantasy writers ever born. I'll admit this wasn't a favorite for me, but it had its merits.
A con man is given a choice: get hanged or sort out the post office at Ankh-Morpork. There are times when he wonders which was the better option. His staff include the usual Pratchett array of interesting characters, including a gollum. The place is in disarray to say the least and needs, well, sorting!
I loved his alternative to the modern Internet, the clacks. I'm told it shows up in other novels but this was my first experience of them. Typical Discworld technology forms a backdrop that will look familiar to Pratchett readers and adventures ensue.
There's a dark side to this one. First of all the title has other connotations as a term used for mass shootings in post offices, which was a thing around the 1980s. The role Vetinari plays in this reflects backroom deals in politics with a heavy dose of corruption.
On the surface it's a typical Pratchett comical romp, but watch for those underlying meanings!
I was tempted to bid on it, but I never get around to this level of kitchen goddessing. Thought someone else might be interested.
by Tomoko Fuse
Origami has interested me since childhood but these 20 original designs take it to a new level. Tomoko Fuse has achieved recognition for her modular designs and these intricate boxes and dishes show why.
This is not a beginners book. However, the instructions are clear and although I think practicing on cheap paper is a good idea before using the beautiful, decorative origami papers shown in the colorful illustrations, at least most of them should be possible for anyone with patience and prepared to practice.
If you have no experience with origami, I suggest an easier beginner's book would be better to start, but some of the square boxes are reasonably easy and once those are mastered, the harder ones should be doable. As I said, practice with cheap paper first. Common printer paper can be squared by folding it over and removing the excess. When you've got the hang of a design, then the origami papers will make it beautiful.
I had read a sample and put it on my ereaderiq list, then a giveaway came up. I won! So now I have an autographed hard copy of a book I expect to really like. Yay!