Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Moth Catcher (Vera Stanhope, #7) - Ann Cleeves- Preorder now for next week

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley for a review. I very much enjoyed it, although I thought the ending ( which explained the mysteries) was a bit complex. That being said,I am going to right now order the available kindles of the Vera Series that I have not yet read. Ann Cleeves has always been a particularly favorite author for me!  I have read the whole Shetland series as well as many of the other two.

For myself, reading mysteries written for another country,culture or era works, best as it adds  dimension and depth to the mystery. All of these books possess that depth for me. As a "baby boomer" which is not the term used in this book, but surely identifies these aging couples and a few singles in this tale, there was an added relevance for me. I was not expecting the ending and it did work for me, eventually.

The inhabitants of the Valley although essentially professing the same reasons for being there, actually had disparate reasons. Vera Stanhope and her colleagues in Northeast England, are no less flawed or regretting missed opportunities than those they come in contact with in the course of this very fluid murder triad. Ex-offenders, social workers as well as young people and their parents all become at risk in this seemingly-sterile-but-not-really little enclave.

This book is out next week in Kindle and another in February, but they work as standalone reads.Get yours now! 

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Autumn Throne - Elizabeth Chadwick - Completely enthralling ~ order now!

I so appreciate getting this ARC from NetGalley. It was one of the most  enthralling books I have read in a long time. Probably the finest one about Eleanor, my favorite historical personage of all time. 

What is most amazing to me is how much research went into these last years of Eleanor's life and how little we have known about these events. I actually made bookmarks on my kindle to remind myself.

As we do know, Henry imprisons Alienor (as was her actual birth name) at Old Sarum after the failed rebellion by his sons which she supported. She was held there in Salisbury for years, but Elizabeth Chadwick has revealed that sometimes she was under house arrest at various other castles in England and even Normandy. 

The enhanced role she had as Queen Dowager was quite amazing as were the things she did- and how she did them. The "hands on" way that Alienor, with Hamelin's help, amassed the exorbitant ransom was very intriguing as was the close relationship between Henry and Hamelin.

After Richard was ransomed and had his 2nd coronation we knew that he went on Crusade. What I did not know was why Emperor Heinrich hated him so and looked for him to capture. We knew about John 's escapades while Richard was imprisoned but the scene at the meeting after Christmas in 1192 in London with the regents was pretty riveting.

Also, if I knew about King John's son Richard begotten on his cousin, I had forgotten that even. I find the characters who were enfolded into Alienor's personal life made this such a fulfilling and poignant read. Richenza (later Matilda) and Joanna's relationship over the years with Alienor, as well as the time she was able to spend with her daughter Matilda of Saxony really rounded out the story of these years. 

The cameo of her meeting with her daughter Eleanor ( Leonora) of Castile and those granddaughters was very fine, although they were obviously not as close. She rose to the occasions and accompanied Princess Blanca ( Blanche) over the Pyrenees in winter at 76.

My least favorite scene was her death, of course, but that was where her story ended. An amazing , engaging and gratifying novel to me, who adored Eleanor from the first book I ever read about her many years ago. 

Recommended to all readers and I am so very much hoping to hear of another in the works. Her granddaughter Blanche perhaps would work or her mother Eleanor of Castile. Order your copy now it is out quite soon. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Tudor Brandons, Mary and Charles, by Sarah-Beth Watkins ~ Terrific Read ~

 5 Stars
A very fine exploration of the history and lives of Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor his wife. Mary Tudor has lately begun to be explored along with Margaret her sister Queen of Scotland. I definitely feel this author's work was just as complete and well done as those that have recently bit the best seller lists. I am very much hoping that this treatment by Sarah-Beth Watkins does just as well.

There definitely were many events in the lives of Mary and Charles and their extended family that I never knew and was excited to learn. The recent ancestry of the Brandon line, as well as other children of Charles, both legitimate and illegitimate made riveting reading.

I enjoyed her prior book on Katherine Knollys but this second historical narrative definitely surpassed it, at least in my estimation. There was a lot of detail about illnesses, prior marriages and properties acquired and lost which goes a long way to tell a story about a family. 

It was an easy read, but very well developed and the author brought Charles and Mary to life. I recommend it highly and really hoping there is another in the works.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Jane the Quene- Janet Wertman- Book One Seymour Saga ~Fine Read ~

4.5+ stars and a fine and enjoyable book. Moving between Jane and Thomas Cromwell was a bit distracting  for me, as well as a tiny bit of a struggle making Jane vivid as a character. Her sharing a love of herbs with Henry was a tiny bit of a stretch, but the author made it work.

Jane the Quene was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be since I am, and always have been a Boleyn fan. Janet Wertman came very close, indeed, to making Jane likable if not lovable. It probably was difficult, as the Seymours are not that enjoyable all by themselves. (Well let me digress there, and say that Elizabeth Seymour was very interesting to me in her marriage to Gregory Cromwell.)

Jane became much more vital as a character, of course after her marriage and her death was definitely poignant. Henry is always Henry, but I am looking forward to some more glimpses into Elizabeth's marriage to Gregory Cromwell, as well as the other Seymours who will be spotlighted in the rest of the series.

Very entertaining and recommended. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Royal Nanny - Karen Harper ~ Very absorbing ~

Based on a seldom-told true story --April, 1897: A young nanny arrives at Sandringham, ancestral estate of the Duke and Duchess of York.

4.5+ stars. A fine novel that I greatly enjoyed and which has piqued my curiosity to learn more. My only critique is that Charlotte Bill's supposed relationship may have been a bit too elaborate, although I am sure she must have had one. Now I have a need to know what her life was like after 1919, although she did live her last years at Sandringham. So my 'need to know' the story of her whole life was a bit shortchanged.

Very importantly for me I did learn about the impact of these years on at least 4 or 5 generations of royals - from 1897 until Charlotte ( Lala)'s death in 1964. These 6 children of King George and Queen Mary had some impact of their royal great grandmother Queen Victoria's last years, the entire reign of their grandparents and their parents. I know now also that Queen Elizabeth and her Uncle Harry reflected on those years and possibly made changes in their lives in my own lifetime, as well as the grandchildren of Queen Elizabeth.

How the dynamics of this royal family with it's German roots and family relationships was absolutely riveting. The number of things I learned was amazing,the Sandringham Regiment's tragedy at Gallipoli and how the King's decision to deny the family of Tsar Nicholas emigration to England may have led to their deaths were both quite startling.

As I read, I came to understand, that beyond these family and domestic events, Europe itself was being impacted at this time. Quite possibly, the royals understanding of how precarious was their existence on the world stage, fed into their interpersonal relationship. The royals made their best attempt to prepare and "toughen up" at least their sons and overprotect their daughters in light of their dynastic and political threats.

Karen Harper has always been a favorite author but this one has a depth of understanding that can "grow on" the reader. I recommend this book to any who enjoy historical novels of any genre.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Shocking Assasination - Cora Harrison - Get your hard copy now!

Cora Harrison's Irish novels are always very fine reads for me. I loved the setting in this one- the English Market is quite close to where members of my family lived from 1890 until after 1921, on Little Cross Street, as well as spending some time on Barrack Street prior to that. I felt like I knew all about it and was a a part of it.

This one was a nail biter of a mystery with very great historical content. According to the author, told to her in some fashion by her parents who lived through the tumultuous time. It is actually shocking for those of us who have ancestral times to many of these times and periods.

Eileen and the Inspector, who were the Reverend Mother's prize pupils a few years prior to this as well as Dr. Scher are favorite characters and have a great outing in this book. Reverend Mother Aquinas and her cousin Lucy entrance me so- very much like my own relationship with my own first cousin, Patty, ( although we were hardly nuns). What a shocker when their second cousin, Capt Newenham attempts to kill the Sister!!

A bigger shocker was who actually committed the murder in the English Market. I was shocked, although a bit mystified that the police would consider the written confession of a deceased man. Well of course Inspector Patrick Cashman was on hand for that part.

It was both intriguing and delightful and the hardcopy is out now.. Get yours! 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Lanimer Bride- Gill Cunningham series- Pat McIntosh ~ Love this series~

 Very great read as usual, love this period in Medieval Scotland. The Tower Houses were a very intriguing part of this Gil Cunningham mystery, as were the jaunts or "trods" through the Lanark countryside. I did not realize that Gil Cuningham grew up in what was an "old style" fortified tower house,after all as everyone said " this isna the Marches".

In the Lanimer Bride outing, Audrey Madur, heavily pregnant, disappears and her husband is traumatized. Fingers begin pointing in every direction but not to the Royal Court, at least not at first. It is very amazing to read about how much of Scotland at this time was not unified or even transparent. Spies, which included Gil's cousin Sandy Boyd and a Black Irishman were everywhere. The English Crown wanted to rid themselves of a pretender but that was not the case over the borders.

I myself enjoy reading the Scots phrases and language, in Ersche and Scots and in this outing, even the tinkers "cant". I adore this series.