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review 2018-08-17 23:03
Book Review of The Devil's Cup: A Medieval Mystery (A Hawkenlye Mystery) by Alys Clare
The Devil's Cup - Alys Clare

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

 

September, 1216. A foreign army has invaded England. The country is divided. Some support the rebel barons and Prince Louis of France; others remain loyal to the king. His rule under threat, King John summons Sir Josse d'Acquin to support him. But can Sir Josse save the king from himself?

 

Meanwhile, Josse's daughter Meggie is summoned to Hawkenlye Abbey to attend a sick patient in a very distressed state. The elderly woman is warning of terrible danger unless she can complete her mission. What she learns from her patient will set Meggie on a perilous journey to retrieve a cursed treasure. But will she be in time to prevent a tragedy?

 

Review 3*

 

This story is the seventeenth and final book in the Hawkenlye mystery series. When I picked this book up at the library, I didn't realise it was part of a series at all. However, this didn't seem to matter, as the story reads as a stand-alone, though there are some references to other characters and books in the series.

 

Sir Josse d'Aquin is an interesting character; he's a knight of middle age, or maybe between the age of fifty or sixty years old in the year 1216. He finds himself being summoned by his childhood friend, King John, to help him as he tries to drive the invading force of Prince Louis of France out of England. But, while he's travelling with the King, Josse's daughter, Meggie, finds herself on a mission of her own.

 

Meggie is also an interesting character. She is a healer, working with the nuns at Hawkenlye Abbey as they tend to the sick and infirm. When a mysterious woman who is ill arrives at the Abbey with a warning of danger, Meggie finds herself journeying with the ailing woman's son, Faruq, to locate a relic that is cursed. But, as danger threatens, will they be able to retrieve the relic in time, or will it exact a terrible price?

 

As I said above, I saw this book in my local library. I love a good mystery, even a historical one, so after reading the synopsis, I decided to read it. I am struggling to write this review, not because it's bad (because it isn't), but because it isn't that good either. It is an okay read for me.

 

I found myself putting this book down, reading something else, and coming back to it with no problem. It is not a hard read by any means; in fact, it's a pretty easy read. This story told through several character's eyes, should have made it more interesting. However, something is missing from this tale. Maybe other mystery novels have spoilt me, but the plot is missing a crucial element - fast-paced suspense/mystery. This tale plods along at such a slow pace that I lost interest at times, which is why I would put it down and then come back to it. I've read other historical fiction novels that have sucked me in and left me breathless from the wild ride. Unfortunately, this book didn't do that to me. It is only in the last third of the book that the action picks up. The Devil's Cup of the title is an artefact that carries a curse. But the author, instead of using it as a tool to build suspense, focuses on King John and his attempt to forestall Prince Louis's invasion of England, which, I feel, is a shame as the object should have had a more significant role in this fictional tale.

 

Apart from the slow pace of the story, Alys Clare has written an intriguing story that brought the past to life. I love how she invoked the feeling of being transported into the past with her descriptive writing. The story flow is a little jerky in places where some of the scenes change in my opinion, but other readers may disagree with me, so will leave you to decide for yourselves. Nonetheless, I would consider reading more of this author's books in the future.

 

Due to some scenes of violence, I do not recommend this book to younger readers. However, I do recommend this book if you love historical fiction, mysteries, and thrillers. - Lynn Worton

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review 2018-08-10 07:34
The Devil's Lieutenant
The Devil's Lieutenant - Shervin Jamali

The Devil's Lieutenant is a fast-paced, quick read, coming in at about an hour's read time. The story is pretty straight-forward and nothing that hasn't been done before, which didn't leave much in the way of surprises. There are a couple of interesting twists, but again, it's almost impossible not to see them coming. The chapters hop back and forth through roughly fifteen years of Michael's life. That time jumps wouldn't be a big deal, but given the length of the book, that style was more a disservice to the story than any benefit in my opinion. The biggest drawback for me was the lack of depth. Taken at face value, the book is an entertaining read and a decent way to while away an hour or so, but I came away wishing there were more to it. Be forewarned: the story is graphic and there are parts that hard to take. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-08-07 21:04
Devil's Due
Devil's Due - Phyllis Bottome

She was a woman who had wanted to be free; and had paid her own price for it. Max had no objection to her freedom. On the contrary, it would make his own course of action simpler. He would not have respected her scruples, but he would respect her pluck.

I may have turned to Bottome's books because of the connection with Ian Fleming (who lived with Bottome and her husband when he was a troubled teen), but having read several of her novels now, I have to admit that there is something about them that I really enjoy. 

 

That something that keeps me coming back to her books is, I assume, her way of looking at the world around her and reflecting that outlook in her books. She was daringly modern, and refreshingly individualistic, especially for the time period that she wrote in.

 

I say I assume that this is what draws me to the books because it certainly is not the plotting and - oh my god - it is definitely not the writing... Bottome was a writer who managed to gift us the following:

Plunged into fathomless sleep, Mariandel became conscious that a chicken was tapping at its shell. It tapped this side, it tapped that, but the darkness of the shell held it in. She began to be afraid that its beak was too soft, or the shell too hard, and that it would never get out. Tap! tap! tap! No! that was no chicken!

You see what I mean about the writing. I still have flashbacks to that chicken dream.

 

Yet, at the same time, she also gave us a cast of characters who are brilliantly faulty and brilliantly human, and who all struggle between doing the right thing, the easy thing, and the expected thing. 

 

Devil's Due was written in 1931, which is something I had to keep in mind when reading this.

 

The story is about an Austrian nobleman who had lost his fortune at cards, and who tries to make his way back to the life of luxury by any which way he can, which is mostly being a cad. One day, he meets his match in a young noblewoman who nearly ran him over when skiing. As it turns out, she falls for him but doesn't want a relationship  - 1931!!! - and she is perfectly fine with him being married, not asking his wife for a divorce (because he wants her to at least have the benefit of his title after he squandered her dowry - such a great guy....*insert eye roll*), until a divorce cannot be avoided (there is another man...and a messy love octagon).

Long story short, they get married, he's still a cad, she despairs, he re-marries his ex-wife.

 

The plot is odd...but not as odd as Murder in the Bud...but where the story comes to shine is, again, in the characters' acceptance that they need to break with the social norms in order to find some happiness in their lives. And they did, it just wasn't to be a HEA. 

 

I really enjoyed this, except for the odd eye-roll here and there, but I fully know that her later books were better and this isn't quite one of the better ones, yet. It does show all the potential, tho. 

 

As with The Lifeline, Devil's Due also has an Ian Fleming connection. Fleming lived with the Bottome's for a while when his mother was fed up with his antics, and he was fed up with the antics of his mother. He was a troubled teen, started philandering quite early, and caused all sorts of mischief. He did look up to Bottome and her husband as quasi parents, however, and - trusting Pam Hirsch's biography of Bottome, they remained life-long friends. Bottome clearly saw a lot of potential in Fleming, and in Devil's Due, she based one of the more likeable characters - a very natural young ski instructor - on Fleming, who will play a pivotal role at the end of the story.

 

Still, I could not help but picture the below, every time Fleming's character appeared on the scene:

 

(Photo found in Pam Hirsch's The Constant Liberal: The Life and Work of Phyllis Bottome)

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review 2018-08-04 16:15
not for me
The Devil's Triangle - Catherine Coulter... The Devil's Triangle - Catherine Coulter,J.T. Ellison

Kitsune -master thief- has been hired to steal Moses staff form the Topkapi Museum in Turkey and does it. She went  to collect her fee when those who had hired her tried to kill her and she almost dies. Kitsune escapes and hears the same people who tried to kill her bragging about causing a huge dust storm in Gobi desert that is killing thousands. Then the same people kidnapped Kitsune’s husband Grant. The People are the evil insane twins Cassandra and  Ajax . Appleton Kohah had taken the Tesla coil and got inspiration from a weather machine Da Vinci had designed. He made the machine to be a destructive “Storm Machine.”,Cassandra and Ajax wanted to rule the world. They were looking for the Ark Of The Covenant. The twins were the last of the Koath and if they find the Covenant they would have powers greater than any known man. Kitsune contacted Nicholect Drummond and Michela-Mike- Carla. They can pick the assignments they take and the take Kitsune’s call and request for help. And come to Italy.

This book just wasn’t for me. I just couldn’t get into it. I weather machine in evil hands just didn’t keep my interest. Also there was to much repetition in the portrayal of the Italian cops. Also the dialogue didn’t seem very natural to me in most cases. I am sure there are a lot of others that will love this book it just wasn’t for me.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-07-31 05:32
Before the Devil Breaks You
Before the Devil Breaks You (The Diviners) - Libba Bray

I'M LITERALLY SCREAMING. HOLLERING. I JUST FINISHED THIS BOOK NOT TEN MINUTES AGO AND I'M A RIGHT MESS.

 

 

There's so much to discuss I don't even know where to start or how to put it into coherent sentences. First of all, the writing was phenomenal as always, you really feel as if you're right there in New York with everyone as you read the books, you can feel the hatred leap right off of the pages for the characters.

The book was always scary, the scenes in the asylum were truly frightening, I had to stop reading at night because every time I read spooky things I always go to bed with the distinct feeling of being watched. This series just gets progressively spookier and scarier with each book and I absolutely love it, just when you think things couldn't get any worse they really do.

The characters were as always phenomenal (I'll probably be using that word a lot in this review). With every page that you spend with them they grow even more complex, you become even more attached to them and you truly feel for them and their struggles. I would say that the Sam/Evie/Jericho love triangle has a pretty clear and predictable ending to it but I've come to expect the unexpected from Libba Bray so I won't say it because she could very well pull the rug out from under me and hit me with another Kartik turning into a fucking tree situation.

Towards the last hundred or so pages of the book the plot picks up considerably, you're literally like sprinting to such a climactic ending which is why I'm in such literal shock and my adrenaline is pumping.

Honestly if the conclusion isn't something like 1000 pages long, I don't know how this story is going to end, there's literally so much going on with each character that it's hard for me to imagine the book being anything less. I get why Libba Bray has been taking so long with the fourth book, it'll truly be a monster of a book.

From this point onwards, it's pretty much spoilers because I HAVE THOUGHTS. AND THE PUBLIC NEEDS TO HEAR.

Let's start with Theta. The only non-spoiler thing I have to say is that I forget people in the 1920s didn't have eyebrows because it was the fashion and coloured their lips in the shape of Cupids bows. And why is this important, because I was picturing Theta with eyebrows and she had to draw them on and I had a mini-stroke. And also like I get her fear and why she didn't tell anyone about her whole flaming hands thing but all of the Diviners were literally so supportive and they all had their own problems and self-destructive tendencies so like she would've fit right in. And they did exactly what I knew they were going to do the entire time.

I was literally ready to start throwing hands when Roy came into the picture because fuck this man and fuck what he did to Theta, burn in hell bitch. Literally if this bastard doesn't die and someone, say Same, does die there will be no justice in this world. I was so rooting for Theta to light that bitch on fire and like I get why she didn't, character growth on all, but I also like ... don't care, light him on fire. Do what you gotta do. The scene where she and Memphis get back together was so touching and lovely I literally wanna cry I hope things end well for them. 

Moving onto Memphis, I just hope things end well for him and Theta and my heart was really hurting in my chest when he thought Theta didn't love him because he didn't deserve that, the two of them are so wholesome, so pure.

Moving onto Jericho, while I was fully supportive of Evie going after either Sam or Jericho, Jericho has kind of worn off of me to be honest. Like I still love him and want the best for him, but he just has this inferiority complex that was just like amped up to the max in this book and while I still feel sorry for him and want the best for him and my heart aches for him, I kind of think Evie should pick Sam. 

Will kind of disappears after the first book and doesn't make many more prolonged appearances throughout the story so the ending to this book was bittersweet in regards to him. He dies and he never got to reconcile with Evie, the two of them just left things off really badly and it hurts me to think how she's going to react when she hears about what happened to him. 

Mabel ... oh boy. This is all going to be spoilers. She dies. She gets involved with Arthur Brown, the two of them fall in love and she realizes that anarchy is not the way and tries to stop Arthur but before they can stop the bomb, Mable gets shot and is paralyzed, Arthur gets shot and it hits an artery. And then the bomb goes and the two of them die in each others arms. Also Sarah Snow dies so there's that. 

Evie and Same ... oh my God. I have to talk about these two together because there's no way I can sum them up separately. That fake-dating sting really got these two deep in each other's feelings so I'm not surprised that they ended up sleeping together and falling in love. I was literally like a pile of wet napkin during their love dovey stuff near the end right before Sam is kidnapped. But at least Evie knows he was taken and that he didn't just scram.

Evie's world essentially comes crumbling down and boy when things go wrong in this universe they go out with a bang. I felt so bad for her, especially because of the many discoveries she made about James, who is, by the way, gay.

And this is what I was talking about when I said that the Sam and Evie ship is basically confirmed but because I've read Libba Bray's books before, I feel like she's going to just snap our necks and leave us for dead by killing off Sam. I'm not joking when I say I'm going to lock myself in my room for like a solid week in mourning because I literally won't be able to handle it. She already did this with Kartik, she can't do it again I need a break.

If he does die, I'm literally just gonna act like it didn't happen and find fanfiction. That's the tea on that.


All I have to say about Ling is, WE LOVE AN ASEXUAL KWEEN. Nothing all that bad happens to Henry and her in this book so I won't go on about them, life goes pretty well for them.

And um, I think that's it. I'm basically beating at a dead horse at this point but if inclusivity is really really important to you, I'm telling you this book is meant for you. And I think it serves as a good example to other authors to have a more diverse cast of characters and that it doesn't hinder the story in anyway at all but in fact contributes to it.

 

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