Sunday, June 26, 2011
Rated: 4.5 Stars
Format: Hard Cover Book
I have been following this author ever since her first novel The Last Kashmiri Rose hooked me in 2008. While this is not, in my opinion, one of her best, it's still an engaging mystery with some delightful secondary characters from previous mysteries making an appearance. Witty dialogue is this author's forte along with interesting settings that are of course, set in a period that I particularly enjoy.
Since Scotland Yard detective Joe Sandilands was going to drive down to the French Riviera for a vacation, he agreed to drop his niece off at a chateau along the way for a visit with her father. But when the pair arrive at the chateau, they find recent vandalism has caused an uneasy atmosphere among the guests. A troubling crime committed just before their arrival leaves a clear message that more violence is to come. To allay panic, Joe agrees to stay on and root out the guilty person. But, despite Joe’s vigilance, a child goes missing and an artist’s beautiful young model is murdered in circumstances eerily recreating a six hundred-year-old crime of passion.
Helped and hindered by a rising star of the French Police Judiciaire, Joe must delve into a horror story from the castle’s past before he can tear the mask from the diseased soul responsible for these contemporary crimes.
Format: Hard Cover Book
In THE WORST HARD TIME, Timothy Egan put the environmental disaster of the Dust Bowl at the center of a rich history, told through characters he brought to indelible life. Now he performs the same alchemy with the Big Burn, the largest-ever forest fire in America and the tragedy that cemented Teddy Roosevelt's legacy in the land.
On the afternoon of August 20, 1910, a battering ram of wind moved through the drought-stricken national forests of Washington, Idaho, Montana, whipping the hundreds of small blazes burning across the forest floor into a roaring inferno that jumped from treetop to ridge as it raged, destroying towns and timber in an eyeblink. Forest rangers had assembled nearly ten thousand men -- college boys, day-workers, immigrants from mining camps -- to fight the fires. But no living person had seen anything like those flames, and neither the rangers nor anyone else knew how to subdue them.
Egan narrates the struggles of the overmatched rangers against the implacable fire with unstoppable dramatic force, through the eyes of the people who lived it. Equally dramatic, though, is the larger story he tells of outsized president Teddy Roosevelt and his chief forester Gifford Pinchot. Pioneering the notion of conservation, Roosevelt and Pinchot did nothing less than create the idea of public land as our national treasure, owned by every citizen. The robber barons fought him and the rangers charged with protecting the reserves, but even as TR's national forests were smoldering they were saved: The heroism shown by those same rangers turned public opinion permanently in favor of the forests, though it changed the mission of the forest service with consequences felt in the fires of today.
THE BIG BURN tells an epic story, paints a moving portrait of the people who lived it, and offers a critical cautionary tale for our time.
Rated 5 Stars
The story of Cecily of York, mother of two kings and the heroine of one of history’s greatest love stories.Anne Easter Smith’s novels are beloved by readers for their ability “to grab you, sweep you along with the story, and make you fall in love with the characters.” * In Cecily Neville, duchess of York and ancestor of every English monarch to the present day, she has found her most engrossing character yet.History remembers Cecily of York standing on the steps of the Market Cross at Ludlow, facing an attacking army while holding the hands of her two young sons. Queen by Right reveals how she came to step into her destiny, beginning with her marriage to Richard, duke of York, whom she meets when she is nine and he is thirteen. Raised together in her father’s household, they become a true love match and together face personal tragedies, pivotal events of history, and deadly political intrigue. All of England knows that Richard has a clear claim to the throne, and when King Henry VI becomes unfit to rule, Cecily must put aside her hopes and fears and help her husband decide what is right for their family and their country
Illustrated by Martin Brown
Rated 4.5 Stars
Format: Small Paperback book, 136 pages
I discovered these books in a National Trust bookstore somewhere in England back when I used to travel over there every couple of years or so. I loved the snarky way they were written and such an easy way to learn about history in a short, succinct, and interesting way. If you're into snark that is. :)
"The Groovy Greeks" is full of fab facts about the hip and happening Greeks - who hung out all over 2000 years ago. This book tells you who had the world's first flushing toilet and why dedicated doctors tasted their patients' ear wax.
By Terry Deary
Illustrated by Martin Brown
Rated 5 StarsFormat: Small Paperback book,
Information on nasty Neanderthals, awesome archaeologists and curious cave paintings. Find out about the truth of Stonehenge and what suffering scientists do with Stone Age poo.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Rated 4.5 Stars
I was skeptical about this book because Biblical Fiction is really not my thing. However I am a long time reader of Joan Wolf's books and asked myself "how bad can it be if she wrote it." I was therefore very pleased at how much I enjoyed it although not really surprised. This author has written some very excellent Historical Fiction in the past and has always managed to attain a fine balance in blending history, romance and a darn good story together. Fortunately I am one of those readers who do not have a problem with keeping fiction and non fiction separate in my head so I was able to just sit back and enjoy the book.
I am not adding a Summary because:
This is the biblical story of Esther. As I'm not much of a bible person I wasn't familiar with it and I couldn't find any good summary on line that wasn't either copyrighted or someone else's review.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Rated 4 Stars
This is really the most uneven book I have ever read. Parts of it were brilliant and parts of it were so far out in left field I couldn't make any sense of it whatever. I recommended this book to a friend before I got very far into it because it started out like a real page turner but now I am going to have to go back and add caveats to my recommendation. Like the nursery rhyme, when it was good it was very very good and when it was bad it was horrid.
The brilliant parts reminded me of Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong. Where the book fell apart for me was with the female characters, especially Julia. When it came to describing how she felt about herself and her relationship with her Mother it all felt shallow and unreal. It was like the author just could not connect with the character beyond creating her. Nadine was a little better and so was Rose but both of them needed to be developed far beyond what this author seemed capable of.
But with her male characters she was absolutely right there making every feeling and experience she gave them come vibrantly alive.
The lives of two very different couples are irrevocably intertwined and forever changed in this stunning World War I epic of love and war.
From the day in 1907 that eleven-year-old Riley Purefoy meets Nadine Waveney, daughter of a well-known orchestral conductor, he takes in the difference between their two families: his, working-class; hers, "posh" and artistic. Just a few years later, romance and these differences erupt simultaneously with the war in Europe. In a fit of fury and boyish pride, Riley enlists in the army and finds himself involved in the transformative nightmare of the twentieth century.
While Riley and his commanding officer, Peter Locke, fight for their country and their survival in the trenches of Flanders, Peter's lovely and naive wife, Julia, and his cousin Rose eagerly await his return. But the sullen, distant man who arrives home on leave is not the Peter they knew. Worried that her husband is slipping away, Julia is left alone with her fears when Rose joins the nursing corps to work with a pioneering plastic surgeon treating wounded and disfigured soldiers.
Only eighteen at the outbreak of the war, Nadine and Riley want to make promises to each other—but how can they when their future is out of their hands? Youthful passion is on their side, but then their loyalty is tested by terrible injury, and even more so by the necessarily imperfect rehabilitation that follows.
Moving among Ypres, London, and Paris, this emotionally rich and evocative novel is both a powerful exploration of the lasting effects of war on those who fight—and those who don't—and a poignant testament to the power of enduring love.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Rated 3.5 Stars
This was a pretty good book but just a little to reminiscent of James Herriot for me. Also once he became a minister what interest I had in the story just kind of faded away. Thankfully that was mostly toward the end.
The colorful, charming story of a country-veterinarian-turned-country-minister--a healer of body and soul. Told with wry Scottish wit, these stories are filled with the kind of hearty embrace of human and animal ways that are reminiscent of James Herriot.