Thursday, August 27, 2015


by CJ Sansom

You may recall my mentioning that I have a strange inclination to read books in a series out of order, which is always accidental. Well, here is the one that I happened upon book #6, which is likely also the end of this series, although I'm not positive. Lamentation is a sort of historical detective series set in England during the time of King Henry VIII. The PI in the story is Matthew Shardlake, who happens to be friends with the new queen, Catherine Parr. And Catherine has gotten herself into a bit of a pickle when she writes her personal religious confessional diary (a lamentation) and it gets stolen. Henry, being adamant in his faith view, and an ardent member of the disposable wife club, may have a problem with her opinions and she is afraid of losing her head. In swoops Shardlake to the rescue. I think you get it....

The book is pretty long, and it reads that way. I suspect previous books in this series may have been better because Sansom is a decent writer, but this entire concept was a stretch in believability. The whole idea of the missing lamentation being such a threat and the various characters and encounters in this novel were just too far-fetched. Particularly if you are at all familiar with Henry and his wives, you know that when Catherine Parr is his wife he is on his deathbed, just seems his mind may have been elsewhere.

My suggestion to you dear reader, is to pick up Dissolution and start at the beginning. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

by Mark Twain

When I was in fifth grade one of my friends was reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Being the competitive and reading person I am, I rushed straight to the library and checked it out. Unfortunately, I never made it very far as it was above my head. From that time on I had a secret admiration for Chrissy and put her on a little pedastal. Recently, I saw it referenced in an article I was reading and thought, "I never did read that book," but now I have and I may be even more impressed that Chrissy was reading it when she was 10.

Connecticut Yankee is a masterpiece of satire. In it, Twain criticizes knighthood and monarchy and the ignorance and barbaric nature of the middle ages, and in the same breath he praises chivalry and the king's majesty and the simplicity and peacefulness of that society. Hank Morgan, after being hit on the head in his factory, finds himself transported back to the time of King Arthur. Using his advanced knowledge, Morgan aka The Boss sets out to enlighten these people by introducing inventions and social reforms that he believes will make them a better community. He tackles everything from public education to the bicycle to the telephone and even uses his prowess to take on Merlin!

This is a fun and funny read. Glad I am finally old enough to understand it :)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Nightingale

by Kristin Hannah

I'm rather leery when it comes to selecting books by their 5-star reviews on Amazon because I've been led astray more often than not. So I'll start by saying this time I was not disappointed! For about a year I have had friends tell me I need to read The Nightingale. Whenever I get a recommendation from a friend, I immediately add the title to my Goodreads "to-read" shelf and then I read the book jacket summary. The reason I kept delaying picking up The Nightingale was because it is a WWII story and I have read many, many of those. Since you too are likely to have read your fill of them, I want to reassure you, this one is not like all the others. It's not that I haven't liked reading about that time, or that I haven't liked many of the aforementioned books, it's just that at some point there becomes a lot of overlap. Not here.

This is the story of two sisters living in France when the Nazi's begin to take over their country. Vianne and Isabelle have never been close, and when the German's come into their small town, they take entirely different directions that lead them even farther apart. Isabelle begins working with the resistance by helping downed English and American pilots escape the country and return to business, while Vianne just doesn't want to cause a stir. Each of the sisters contends with physical hardships and emotional heartbreak and fight the enemy in their own way.

The story is well written, the characters are engaging  and mostly believable, and despite it being a rather long book, it is a fast read. While some of the actions of the characters may have been a bit too modernized, I really enjoyed this book and have pushed it on a few of my followers already--- just read it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Visitors

by Sally Beauman

When I was a young teen King Tutankhamun's treasures sailed across the ocean to begin a three year long tour of America. I'm not sure if it was all the news coverage or Steve Martin that made me jump on that bandwagon along with the rest of the country, but the fascination stuck. So even though I didn't get to see the stuff in person, I did go through a phase of reading all about the boy king. So The Visitors is a bit of a blast from the past, except Beauman took a different spin on Tut and told a story of the discovery.

The story begins strong, young Lucy is sent off to recover from a bout with typhoid in the warmer climate of Egypt. Here she meets up with the daughter of an archaeologist and the two begin spying on the dig site. In this part of the book readers learn about the Valley of the Kings, the funding, the relationships between Howard Carter, the Earl of Carnarvon, Herbert Winlock, Albert Lythgoe and others who were innermost in the discovery of Tut's tomb. It's after the actual discovery that the book takes a detour and begins delving into Lucy's later life and secondary players who surround her, and thus the story is dragged through the mud.

This was an okay historical. Could have been better if the author hadn't become distracted.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


by Rebecca Scherm

Riding in on the coattails of the recent psychological thriller rage, Unbecoming received lots of hype and recommendations, which in my opinion may have done it a disservice by raising reader expectations. And while it is not a bad read, it is not "another Gone Girl." The idea is good but the execution is lacking some really basic elements like suspense, interest and pace.

In the beginning there is Julie, an American living in Paris under an assumed name supporting herself by restoring art. Julie has lots of secrets, she is on the run trying to dodge possible arrest after planning the burglary of a small town art museum. And she is afraid of her boyfriend conspirators finding her. So right away you think you're getting into some sort of suspense, but then Scherm begins the unfolding of that story and begins another one that is replete with adolescent angst. We meet Grace of Garland TN (who is Julie in France) and so begins the teen love story, which is slow, uninteresting and unbelievable. The story of Grace discounts the story of Julie so that her actions don't really make sense.

In reality, this book may have been a big hit if it had been sold to a YA audience. If you like Fault in our Stars type books you may like this too.