Friday, June 30, 2017

Roman Woman: Everyday Life in Hadrian's Britain - Lindsay Allason-Jones ~ Summa Cum Laude ~ 5 Stars

Such a wonderful book, I put everything aside to read this one and wish I could find another. I am sort of obsessed with accurate stories about Roman Britain that make the characters feel contemporary and I feel this one did just that.

Senovara the female protagonist is a hard working person from an earlier time who, nonetheless, has motives and feelings that I could identify with. I saw reviews that said it was not a romance or a mystery but perhaps it was a little of both? 

I say that because even with the cultural constraints on marriage, Senovara and Quintus had a great deal of love for each other and their respective families. The story ends with Senovara "adjusting herself to fit more comfortably against Quintus' rough tunic.

Mystery is surely there with the military wives learning how to interact with other cultures both as marital partners and their friends and peers. Mysterious also is what gods were answering their prayers as they would speak them. In some cases the wives were more sophisticated but often the men as we read about the eclipse and it's portents.

My 3 years of high school Latin and my degree in anthropology has made me appreciate who we are and where we came from over many centuries. Latin and the Romans have shone an everlasting spotlight back in time for all of us. I hated for this book to end. Summa Cum Laude Lindsay Allason-Jones

Friday, June 23, 2017

The First Queen of England - MJPorter ~ Will look for more~

 I rounded this up to 4 stars..maybe 3.75 or so, and the reason is, I felt the characters were not as developed as they could have been. Elfrida was pretty much ruled by her passions,especially for Edgar, and I am not sure that did her justice. She was after all an important figure as Queen and Dowager Queen for many years, but it was a novel after all.

M.J.Porter, in his quite excellent historical note, probably explains this, as he says that: first, it is the least historical novel he has written and, secondly, that he usually focuses on men in this period. The author bases most of his sources on contemporary accounts, which is good. He also says that were he to write a sequel it would be of Elfrida and be ten years later.

Edgar,known as 'The Peaceful', although we did not get into much of this in this tale, was the first King of all England. He built a very large navy and kept the Danes from pillaging as well as keeping peace in the Danelaw. Shires and Hundreds were briefly mentioned as he met with his Eldermen as well as his and his Queen's support of monastic reform. 

He died at only 33 years of age but I think there were some very good years that could be part of a sequel or two. Overall I did like the book and am going to look at others this prolific writer had penned.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Beyond Absolution - Cora Harrison ~ Preorder this great mystery ~

So I stayed up late finishing it as I could tell it was going to end badly for some.."Noli respicere post tergum"  says Mother Aquinas.." Do not look back"..

It was a riveting book in so many ways for me..first I continually marvel that my great Uncle Patrick and family lived in that part of Cork at that exact time..well  Uncle Patrick died in 1907, his son in 1913 and his wife and daughter in 1921 but his granddaughters were still living at Little Cross Street. Secondly that so very many experienced those hardships that went on and on.. Great Uncle Patrick's  two older sons got themselves to New York and New Jersey well before that.

It was a complex but extremely interesting plot which slowly resolved itself, but not without some tragedy. A murder in the Confessional of a beloved priest had so very  many ramifications, which the fight for a Republic complicated, as did personal greed and ideology.

So now we readers and followers of Reverend Mother and her entourage will be waiting and wondering what will happen. Will Reverend Mother have a debilitating illness and she mentions her age? Will Inspector Patrick recover, and what role will Eileen be playing in future  and will they collaborate. I wish I knew but for sure you need to preorder this copy now.

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC.

The Devil's Cup - A Hawkenlye Medieval Mystery - Alys Clare ~ Last of a successful series ~

"September, 1216. A foreign army has invaded England. The country is divided.King John summons Sir Josse d'Acquin to support him."

I received an ARC of this book from Severn House via NetGalley for a review. I have read all of the Hawkenlye Mysteries and review many. I give the book 4.5 stars and did very much enjoy it, although the mystery was a bit more contrived and slow than it maybe needed to be.

That being said, if this is the last Heloise mystery, it is wonderful that most of the characters are well and settled at the end. It was a good ending to a long series, if that is the case. 

"Sir Josse d'Aquin is summoned to assist the beleaguered King John in the 17th - and final - Hawkenlye mystery." 

Ah.. that is what it says..Maybe one more peek in a few years? How will Meggie do? How will Heloise and Josse do in their declining years? Who will join the family in the future - and importantly how will Hawkenlye Abbey fare?

 The book will be out in late July so you have lots of time to start reading other books in the series so that you too are able to really appreciate this final mystery. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Raven's Widow, A Novel of Jane Boleyn - Adrienne Dillard ~ Dramatic, Sympathetic, Well Done ~

What a great effort to reconstruct the historical facts available to us; Adrienne Dillard's fine research has made Jane Parker Boleyn a sympathetic as well as dramatic figure. I applaud her for that and totally agree; a 10 year marriage, where Jane cohabited with George Boleyn and lived in the court supports this hypothesis.

There are many people who were players in, and victims of, Henry VIII 's cruel narcissistic rampage through his reign who deserve our sympathies. Jane apparently was one such and I am sure that Mary Boleyn and her children were also. Adrienne's fine first novel "Cor Rotto" sheds light on Mary Boleyn's life after Henry though her daughter Catherine Carey Knollys. 

This novel has even more depth, character development as well as giving readers historical vignettes back and forth in time. A very fine Author's note take us through the known facts, including many that were unknown until fairly recently. 

Jane Boleyn was, and is, a tragic figure of course; who would not be who was executed in this time? What the author has done is to make her a vivid and believable heroine who was resilient for as long as she could be. I look for more by this fine author.

Recommended for fans of those affected by Henry VIII and other novels in this turbulent era. 5 Stars.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Catherine Carey - History In a Nutshell Series - Adrienne Dillard ~ Great Small Book ~

4.5 stars..A very nice small book by an author I follow now; I am also reading The Raven's Widow. I got right into this one and finished overnight, Mary Boleyn and her children are favorites of mine.

I am hopeful that Catherine, Henry and Mary 's lives were mostly good and this author does also. The Jane Boleyn book tells me that she is sympathetic to Henry VIII's victims and has searched for the good times of their lives to share. I am very hopeful that Adrienne Dillard continues with this effort and this family. Henry Carey's life would be wonderful to illustrate and I adore Robert Carey also.

There was a confusing part in the middle about the number of children. It seemed the author was going to list them after an ": " but then a narrative ensued, which did list them but not in a list. Other than that I have no complaints and am hoping for more.

Adrienne Dillard provides fine historical detail which backs up her hypotheses and I recommend this book for others who read about this troubled time.