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review 2017-08-04 22:17
Martyr by Rory Clements
Martyr - Rory Clements

I'm glad to be finally finished. That book felt like it took forever to read. If it hadn't been a More Historical Than Fiction read I probably would have dropped it. Maybe I should have dropped it. Oh well.


It's not that it's a bad book or anything; I just couldn't get into it. I'm not sure why I struggled so much with it, but the dialogue seemed stilted and I was kind of bored by it. I know I wasn't supposed to be bored but I just couldn't seem to care about any of it. I also had trouble picturing the climax scene with Herrick. It just didn't make sense, physically, to me.


Shakespeare blocks Herrick's blow with his left arm, then brings his right arm around and strikes him on the back of the head with the hilt of his sword. They're of a height, so to accomplish this would require him swing his sword around in such a way as I find terribly inefficient. I just can't get it to work out in my head.

(spoiler show)


I feel that based on the subject matter, this should have been a nail-biting, riveting read, and it wasn't.


Previous updates:

313 of 384 pages

76 of 384 pages

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text 2017-08-04 03:44
Reading progress update: I've read 313 out of 384 pages.
Martyr - Rory Clements

You don't sew a tapestry, do you? I thought a tapestry had to be woven. 


What do you call a large embroidered piece of cloth? 

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text 2017-08-02 13:44
Reading progress update: I've read 76 out of 384 pages.
Martyr - Rory Clements

Well, I'm a month behind but I've finally started July's More Historical Than Fiction read.


It's not bad, but I'm not really getting sucked in. I can't quite put my finger on it, but something just isn't quite working for me. There was also some info dumping of past history that didn't seem entirely necessary to the story. John Shakespeare mentions a past case in such a way as to make it feel like this wasn't the first book published...but somehow it feels like filler.


Maybe it'll pick up?

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review 2017-03-22 00:00
The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution
The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution - Deborah E. Harkness,Kate Reading This is going to be one of those books that makes me annoyed at a lot of other books. I've read a fair bit about the scientific revolution, and this is all completely new to me to the extent that I'm now irritated at all the other books I've read for not including any of it.

It's a wonderful exploration of scientific culture in the late 16th-century, including pushes to increase mathematical literacy for national economic development, collecting-comparing-publishing findings from experiments, in fights over priority and credit, and government support of large-scale scientific projects, mostly focusing on how individual practitioners fit into all this. The idea that this was all going on, and that Francis Bacon (who the author dislikes!) was more or less whining because he didn't get to be in charge of it and gentlemen shouldn't get their hands dirty doing actual work, was frankly a little mind blowing.

Really good, very enjoyably read by Kate Reading, would recommend.
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review 2016-12-24 19:27
The Robsart Mystery
To Shield the Queen - Fiona Buckley

England, 1560


(To Shield the Queen is apparently the title of this novel in the US. It was originally published in the UK as The Robsart Mystery.)


The Queen, Elizabeth I, is in love. And the man she is in love with is the unpopular – and already married! – Robert Dudley. If somehow he were to get an anullment and Elizabeth married him and he assumed the role of pseudo-king, there could be civil war. Especially as Mary Stuart, ex-Queen of France by marriage and Queen of Scotland by right, is considered by many people to be the rightful Queen of England. She is the legitimate granddaughter of Henry VII of England, whereas Elizabeth, in the eyes of many, is illegitimate, a bastard, the daughter of Ann Boleyn, whose marriage to Henry VIII was never legal as he had not been granted an anullment of his previous marriage by the Pope.


But of course, the real point was that Mary was a Catholic, whereas Elizabeth was a Protestant. The civil war would be a religious war.


And then, in September 1560, Robert Dudley's wife Amy Robsart is found lying with a broken neck at the foot of the staircase in their house. Was it murder – as many suspect? Murder instigated by Dudley – or even by the Queen herself?



Enter a young sleuth, Ursula Blanchard, brought up Cinderella-style by her sadistic aunt and uncle, then widowed young after a runaway marriage, and now trying to support her daughter and herself in a very harsh world. Her mother had been one of Ann Boleyn's ladies-in-waiting, and had got herself pregnant and borne the illegitimate Ursula, then died. But now Ursula is offered a post at the court of Elizabeth, who shows a not unnatural sympathy with any who knew and loved her mother, as Ursula's mother had. They are in fact almost exactly the same age.


I won't tell you the story, but of course it is Ursula who unravels the mystery, and at the same time uncovers a widespread Catholic plot against the Queen – in which it turns out her new, sexy, half-French lover, Matthew de la Roche, is involved. Now where do her loyalties lie?

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