Sunday, February 28, 2010

17. Daughter of Time

By Josephine Tey
Rated 5 stars
Audio book

I have read this book before but I am finding out that listening is an entirely different experience.  It's become very clear this month that I read way too fast and do a lot of skimming.  By listening I am picking up on many nuances that zipped right past me.  For one thing the parallels in the story of how Richard III became such a villain by manipulation of events or out right lies for political gains and how the political pundits operate today is startling.  When you think about it, politicians have been devious and largely corrupt and the general public largely gullible probably since the first humans roamed the earth.


Josephine Tey is often referred to as the mystery writer for people who don't like mysteries. Her skills at character development and mood setting, and her tendency to focus on themes not usually touched upon by mystery writers, have earned her a vast and appreciative audience. In Daughter of Time, Tey focuses on the legend of Richard III, the evil hunchback of British history accused of murdering his young nephews. While at a London hospital recuperating from a fall, Inspector Alan Grant becomes fascinated by a portrait of King Richard. A student of human faces, Grant cannot believe that the man in the picture would kill his own nephews. With an American researcher's help, Grant delves into his country's history to discover just what kind of man Richard Plantagenet was and who really killed the little princes

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sharpe's Eagle - VIDEO

Rated 5 stars

Excellently done. This really is a quality series. And I'm not quite as put out about the kissy face stuff since it has started to make a little more sense. Love interest I can handle. Wandering Lothario I really could not as I think it would cheapen a series of this type. Just MO.

Product Description

Sharpe commands a band of war-hardened riflemen behind enemy lines. Determined to capture the french mascot a carved eagle which is carried into combat sharpe brings to the screen the continued action danger and romance that surround the british officer & his chosen men

Friday, February 26, 2010

16. The Burning Land

By Bernard Cornwell
Rated 4.9 stars
From Library
Audio Book

I loved this book but it sure was bloody.  I also have my ongoing whine about Cornwell's vision of Alfred but this is, after all a book of fiction so he is perfectly entitled to portray him any way he pleases even when he is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! Alfred, who was the only English king in history to have "The Great" tacked on to his name could not have achieved what he did if he was the sour, uncharismatic  religious zealot Cornwall portrays.   My other complaint is that the reader consistently mispronounced Uther's side kick Finan's name wrong  Since that's my surname it jarred ever time he mispronounced it.

But these are minor quibbles.  Bernard Cornwall is a wonderful story teller and I have been solidly hooked on this series since 2004 when book one, The Last kingdom came out.  These books are must reads for me.


In a clash of heroes, the kingdom is born.
At the end of the ninth century, King Alfred of Wessex is in ill health; his heir, an untested youth. His enemy, the Danes, having failed to conquer Wessex, now see their chance for victory. Led by the sword of savage warrior Harald Bloodhair, the Viking hordes attack. But Uhtred, Alfred's reluctant warlord, proves his worth, outwitting Harald and handing the Vikings one of their greatest defeats.

For Uhtred, the sweetness of victory is soon overshadowed by tragedy. Breaking with Alfred, he joins the Vikings, swearing never again to serve the Saxon king. Instead, he will reclaim his ancestral fortress on the Northumbrian coast. Allied with his old friend Ragnar—and his old foe Haesten—he aims to invade and conquer Wessex itself.

Yet fate has different plans. The Danes of East Anglia and the Vikings of Northumbria are plotting the conquest of all Britain. When Alfred's daughter pleads with Uhtred for help, he cannot refuse her request. In a desperate gamble, he takes command of a demoralized Mercian army, leading them in an unforgettable battle on a blood-soaked field beside the Thames.

In The Burning Land, Bernard Cornwell, "the reigning king of historical fiction" (USA Today), delivers a rousing saga of Anglo-Saxon England—an irresistible new chapter in his thrilling Saxon Tales, the epic story of the birth of England and the legendary king who made it possible.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

6-14 Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes Mysteries

Laurie King
Rated (see Below
From Library

In preparation for the new book coming out in April, The God of the Hive, and also because it required little to no concentration I spent most of this month listening/dozing through these. I am so grateful for my wonderful library system for having all of these in unabridged audio format.

6. The Beekeeper's Apprentice (1994) 5 stars
Sherlock Holmes takes on a young, female apprentice in this delightful and well-wrought addition to the master detective's casework. In the early years of WW I, 15-year-old American Mary Russell encounters Holmes, retired in Sussex Downs where Conan Doyle left him raising bees. Mary, an orphan rebelling against her guardian aunt's strictures, impresses the sleuth with her intelligence and acumen. Holmes initiates her into the mysteries of detection, allowing her to participate in a few cases when she comes home from her studies at Oxford.

7. A Monstrous Regiment of Women (1995) 4.5 stars

Mary Russell's adventures as a student of the famous detective continue. A series of murders claims members of a strange suffrage organization's wealthy young female volunteers, and Mary, with Holmes in the background, investigates, little knowing what danger she personally faces.

8. A Letter of Mary (1996) 4.5 stars

Sherlock Holmes and his scholarly companion Mary Russell are caught up in an exciting mystery when an archaeologist leaves them with a treasured find, a papyrus supposedly written by Mary Magdalene. When the archaeoligist winds up dead and someone attempts to make off with the artifact, Holmes and Russel become embroiled in a rollicking story filled with political intrigue and highbrow sleuthing.

9. The Moor (1998) 3.5 stars

The Moor, fourth in the series, Holmes and Russell are summoned to Devonshire to solve a tin miner's mysterious death. Lonely Dartmoor provides plenty of opportunities for King to both relate the haunting legends of that part of the world and offer some amusing revisions to one of Holmes's most famous cases, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

10. O Jerusalem (1999) 4 stars

It's 1918. Nineteen-year-old Mary and her fiftysomething mentor are forced to flee England to escape a deadly adversary. Sherlock's well-connected brother Mycroft sends them to Palestine to do some international sleuthing. Here, a series of murders threatens the fragile peace.

11. Justice Hall (2002) 5+ stars

A lost heir, murder most foul, and the unexpected return of two old friends start Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes--spouses and intellectual equals--on an investigation that takes them from the trenches of World War I France to the heights of English society. In this sixth entry in Laurie King's award-winning series, fans will find the Baker Street sleuth mellowed by age and marriage yet still in possession of his deductive abilities and acerbic wit, and, in Mary Russell, a surprisingly apt companion for the legendary detective.

12. The Game (2004) 5 stars

The seventh Mary Russell adventure (after 2002's Justice Hall) may well be the best King has yet devised for her strong-willed heroine. It's 1924, and Kimball O'Hara, the "Kim" of the famous Rudyard Kipling novel, has disappeared. Fearing some kind of geopolitical crisis in the making, Mycroft Holmes sends his brother and Mary to India to uncover what happened.

13. Locked Rooms (2005) 4.5 stars

set in San Francisco in 1924, Russell undertakes a far more personal investigation. Since she began her journey back to her hometown—ostensibly to deal with her father's estate—Russell has been tormented by strange dreams, one of which involves the "locked rooms" of the title, and the sight of her San Francisco childhood home opens a flood of memories and emotions, most of which she's loathe to allow into her über-rational mind. When someone takes a shot at her, Holmes enlists the help of Pinkerton agent Dashiell Hammett and Russell tries to unlock her past, in particular the "accident" that killed her family and left her an orphan in 1914.

14. The Language of Bees 4.5 stars

For Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, returning to the Sussex coast after seven months abroad was especially sweet. There was even a mystery to solve--the unexplained disappearance of an entire colony of bees from one of Holmes’s beloved hives.

But the anticipated sweetness of their homecoming is quickly tempered by a galling memory from her husband’s past. Mary had met Damian Adler only once before, when the promising surrealist painter had been charged with--and exonerated from--murder. Now the talented and troubled young man was enlisting their help again, this time in a desperate search for his missing wife and child.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

15. The Lace Reader

By: Brunonia Barry
Rated 4 stars
From: Library

Tis is not a book I would have picked up on my own but I'm glad I did. It was a good, if puzzling read. Kathleen and Justine, a couple of long time DDers asked me if I had read this book because they had a question. Well, now that I have read the book I have the same question. I have a wild guess but I'm not sure if its right.

A friend on anorher list wrote this: "There were many times that I wanted to put this book down, the middle bogs down with such boring repetitiveness I was beginning to wonder what the author was thinking. Then the last 100 or so pages hits you with such force you can’t get through the book fast enough. Great story with a stunning conclusion that has you spinning and thinking back to the clues that you missed.
For me this book wouldn't have worked as an audio. The ending is confusing and you have to go back and reread parts to make sure you are on track."

I agree with her completely.

Amazon Best of the Month, August 2008: Brunonia Barry dreamt she saw a prophecy in a piece of lace, a vision so potent she spun it into a novel. The Lace Reader retains the strange magic of a vivid dream, though Barry's portrayal of modern-day Salem, Massachusetts--with its fascinating cast of eccentrics--is reportedly spot-on. Some of its stranger residents include generations of Whitney women, with a gift for seeing the future in the lace they make. Towner Whitney, back to Salem from self-imposed exile on the West Coast, has plans for recuperation that evaporate with her great-aunt Eva's mysterious drowning. Fighting fear from a traumatic adolescence she can barely remember, Towner digs in for answers. But questions compound with the disappearance of a young woman under the thrall of a local fire-and-brimstone preacher, whose history of violence against Whitney women makes the situation personal for Towner. Her role in cop John Rafferty's investigation sparks a tentative romance. And as they scramble to avert disaster, the past that had slipped through the gaps in Towner's memory explodes into the present with a violence that capsizes her concept of truth. Readers will look back at the story in a new light, picking out the clues in this complex, lovely piece of work. --Mari Malcolm --This text refers to theHardcover edition.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

3-5, Amelia Peabody Mysteries

The Mummy Case
Amelia and Emerson bring their young son Ramses along in Egypt in 1894. Denied permission to dig at the lovely pyramids of Dashoor, they are assigned to the decrepit mounds of rubble that pass for the pyramids of Mazghunah. Nothing in this barren stretch of land seems of interest until an illegal antiquities dealer gets killed. Before long, mummy cases start appearing and disappearing, and a second murder complicates the mystery. When it becomes clear that a Master Criminal is behind these goings on, Amelia starts digging -- for facts.

The Curse of the Pharaohs
Published 1981 It's 1892, and Amelia and Emerson, who is now her husband, are back in England raising their young son Ramses, when they are approached by a damsel in distress. Lady Baskerville's husband, Sir Henry, has died after uncovering what may have been royal tomb in Luxor. Amid rumors of a curse haunting all those involved with the dig, Amelia and Emerson proceed to Egypt and begin to suspect that Sir Henry did not die a natural death. The accidents plaguing the dig appear to be caused by a sinister human element, not a pharaoh's curse.

Crocodile on the Sandbank

Published 1975 Set in 1884, this is the first installment in what has become a beloved bestselling series. At thirty-two, strong-willed Amelia Peabody, a self-proclaimed spinster, decides to use her ample inheritance to indulge her passion, Egyptology. On her way to Egypt, Amelia encounters a young woman named Evelyn Barton-Forbes. The two become fast friends and travel on together, encountering mysteries, missing mummies, and Radcliffe Emerson, a dashing and opinionated archaeologist who doesn't need a woman's help -- or so he thinks.