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text 2019-08-10 20:51
The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton

Found this languishing on my Kindle. I started reading it three years ago and got about a third of the way through before getting distracted by something else and never returned to it.


I vaguely remember the plot and what's happened, so I'm just going to dive back in and hope for the best.

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review 2019-08-07 01:36
Review: Eleanor by Kristiana Gregory
Eleanor: Crown Jewel of Aquitaine, France, 1136 - Kristiana Gregory

Title: Eleanor: Crown Jewel of Aquitaine
Author: Kristiana Gregory
Series: Royal Diaries
Format: hardcover
Length: N/A
Rating: 3 stars


Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Eleanor lives in a palace in Poitier, France, with her father, Count William of Aquitaine, and her younger sister, Petronilla. Mischievous and daring, Eleanor's daily exploits are a constant source of frustration to her grandmother and ladies-in-waiting, who are the girls' caretakers. Eleanor's life is turned upside-down, however, as her father goes off to fight in the invasion of Normandy, and her safety, as well as that of her sister's, is at risk from his enemies. Then, at age fifteen, Eleanor is forced into a new role when her father dies and she is betrothed to sixteen-year-old Prince Louis VII of France. When Louis' father, King Louis VI, dies suddenly, Louis VII becomes King - and young Eleanor is now Queen of France!


Favourite character: Petra
Least favourite character: N/A


Mini-review: At the back of the book in the historical notes (which I love btw) it mentioned that Eleanor was spoiled, but I didn't see that. Except for the fact that she slaps about three people in the book, including her sister, there is no indication that she's spoiled. And I guess because it's from her point of view, maybe we wouldn't see that, but I feel like it should've been more implied than just slaps.

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text 2019-07-28 17:31
Suggestions for a $10.00 booklikes-opoly book?
Fall of Giants - Ken Follett
The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton
Iberia - James A. Michener,Robert Vavra
The Priory of the Orange Tree - Samantha Shannon

I am looking for suggestions for an epic, more than 800 pages, book to read for booklikes-opoly! This might be last book - and I'm playing my cat. So far, I've come up with:



Fall of Giants by Ken Follett: It is 1911. The Coronation Day of King George V. The Williams, a Welsh coal-mining family is linked by romance and enmity to the Fitzherberts, aristocratic coal-mine owners. Lady Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German Embassy in London. Their destiny is entangled with that of an ambitious young aide to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and to two orphaned Russian brothers, whose plans to emigrate to America fall foul of war, conscription and revolution. In a plot of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, "Fall Of Giants" moves seamlessly from Washington to St Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty. 


The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton: It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky. Richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and gold rush boom and bust, The Luminaries is a brilliantly constructed, fiendishly clever ghost story and a gripping page-turner. 



Iberia by James Michener: Here, in the fresh, vivid prose that is James Michener's trademark, is the real Spain as he experiences it. He not only reveals the celebrated Spain of bullfights and warror kings, painters and processions, cathedrals and olive orchards; he also shares the intimate, often hidden Spain he has come to know, where toiling peasants and their honest food, the salt of the shores and the oranges of the inland fields, the congeniality of living souls and the dark weight of history conspire to create a wild, contradictory, passionately beautiful land, the mystery called Iberia.


The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon: The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.


Any other brilliant ideas for a novel that is more than 800 pages? Has anyone read these four, and can you recommend/not recommend? For now, I am going to go finish Sarum and check back when I'm ready to select the next book!

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review 2019-07-24 02:44
Inside Box 1663
Inside Box 1663 - Eleanor Jette

This was another read that was inspired by my recent read of Box 1663 by Alex Sorel. There were so many details in Sorel's book that made it feel real to life, and I was curious how close it would come to someone who actually lived in Los Alamos during the Project years. 


This book is a treasure for those seeking more info on the Manhattan Project. It's a little on the dry side, but it's packed full of day-to-day details that really helped me to understand what these people had to endure, on top of the stress of their very secret mission. There were constant housing shortages, power outages, a serious lack of adequate laundry facilities (eight machines for the whole town!), constant demands to conserve water; the commissary wasn't adequately supplied, there was constant threat of fires to the overheated apartments and in the Tech Area where the final components of the bomb were being tested and assembled; there were rattlesnakes on the trails, bears in the mountains, and hair snakes coming out of the drains and clogging the shower heads!


What really drove home the isolation they felt while living in Los Alamos was the constant use of "Outer World" to describe everywhere outside the base. Their mail was censored, both going out and coming in, they were followed around town by G2 when they left base, and their news came from whatever they could get their hands on.


I don't know if I could have endured those conditions - especially those people unfortunate enough to live in the trailers and share one latrine with eighty other trailers. No thank you! Yet these people did endure, found ways to make life manageable and enjoyable. I have mixed feelings about what these men and women accomplished there, but there's no doubt that they overcame insurmountable obstacles (courtesy mainly of poor government planning; what else is new?) to achieve it.

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text 2019-07-17 00:51
PM’s Favorite/Essential History Reading List (1 of 2)
Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo - Jeff Long
Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets - John Woolf,Nick Baker,Stephen Fry
The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America's First Serial Killer - Skip Hollandsworth
The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer - Kate Summerscale
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl - Timothy Egan
Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde - Jeff Guinn
The Diary of a Young Girl - B.M. Mooyaart,Eleanor Roosevelt,Anne Frank

My submission for Chris's crowdsourced nonfiction history reading list. I don’t read a lot of history, but I do read a lot of historical crime, biographies, and memoirs. I’m assuming that the bio/memoirs will be a different list. I hope so, because I’m looking forward to the recommendations. Anyway, here’s my list, arranged by timeframe/historical period, and divided into two posts.


Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo (Texas History)

A more comprehensive, and honest, look at the Texas war for independence from Mexico than found in the Texas Dept of Ed approved textbooks. My review here.


Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets (Victorian Period)

Not sure if this fits in a serious history reading list as this audiobook is more in the style of a podcast series, but it is underpinned by the work of actual historians. And it’s narrated/hosted by Stephen Fry!


The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America's First Serial Killer (Texas History, Victorian Period)

A must for Texas History buffs, because it delves deeply into Austin/Central Texas regional history and examines the process (and limits) of 19th century forensics, law enforcement, and justice. Bonus discussion of Jack the Ripper, as some have theorized that the crimes could have the same perpetrator. My review here


The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer (Victorian Period)

I learned a great deal about Victorian London and Victorian attitudes toward mental health treatment.


The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl (The Great Depression)

From the political and economic drivers to the environmental and land-management fiascos that caused the Dust Bowl, and even looking forward to a possible future recurrence, this book tells the story of the Dust Bowl. Emphasis on the stories of the people who stayed, rather than the “Okies” who left.


Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde (The Great Depression)

They were most definitely not Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. More than just the story of the famous couple and their crimes, the author explores the socioeconomic drivers behind the life of crime and the public and law enforcement response to it, as well as some local tidbits of history about the city of Dallas and the Texas penal system.  


Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (World War II)

The original account, as edited by her father prior to publication.

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