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review 2015-11-30 15:44
Castles, Customs and Kings Volume 2
Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors (Volume 2) - English Historical Fiction Authors,Sue Millard,Debra Lee Brown
Have you ever wanted to know more about British history but you don't want to read a dry boring history book with data that you will never remember? Yes, me too. I love reading about British history, Tudor era especially. Castles, Customs and Kings Volume 2 is perfect, not only does it follow the first volume in that it kind of continues or actually contributes more to the reader. I have read both of the volumes now and equally impressed. The articles come from well known historical authors such as Sandra Byrd, Anna Belfrage, Nancy Bilyeau, Debra Brown, Stephanie Cowell and so many more. 
One of the things I liked about how the ebook was set up was the listing under each author's name for their websites, Twitter, Facebook and any other social media they contribute to. I think that gives the reader an insight into who their favorite authors are, all in one book. After the list of authors, about 50 of them, there is a section on the list of novels each author has written. Wow, that is one long list of books to read. I went through the list and there are quite a few that I have read, but there are so many more to get to. 
The book starts off with Pre-Roman to Early Medieval Britain (pre-55 B.C.-A.D. 1000 to Victorian Era and the Twentieth Century), now that is a lot of history covered. Within each section, the articles range from a glimpse inside a Roman home, The London Tornado of 1091, the Making of a Medieval Queen and The Lady's Monthly Museum. Once you get through all that there is another section called Historical Tidbits across the Ages. We learn about some castles such as Leeds and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Witches, Midwives and Childbirth to Beds and Bugs through the Centuries.
All of the articles within the covers of Customs, Castles and Kings Volume 2 come from the English Historical Authors blog. All impeccably researched and fun to read. If you love British History like I do, then this book needs to be in your library. 
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review 2013-12-13 02:50
About those cows and sheep?
Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

“Flora inherited, however, from her father a strong determination and from her mother an attractive ankle.” (CCF, p.1) when likened to, ““The immense accretion of flesh which had descended on her in middle life like a flood of lava on a doomed city had changed her from a plump active little woman with a neatly-turned foot and ankle into something as vast and august as a natural phenomenon, ” (Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence  and, My God, do I love that sentence) has me wondering what it might be about ankles, women’s ankles in particular, that I must have missed, and might, therefore, have contributed to the development of my peculiar ways of considering the world, and those in it, on it thereupon.


So, after all the years spent wondering if my nature had been determined by the startling realization that Peter Pan, in the first version of Peter Pan I saw,  was played by Mary Martin (MARY Martin), I could now wonder about my inattention to Mary’s ankles. How could I have missed them? “The dirt which had been lying on the floor of the trap for the last twenty-five years was being kicked out into the road by a small foot with an attractive ankle” (CCF, p.20) Attentiveness meet Tentativeness (an anagram courtesy of wiktionary) Ankles, or rather the lack of them, might be the culprit, the source of things which make me me.


So, perhaps, a little something about the book. Something which previous Brief reviews would have commenced with “Briefly:”. <—is not a rage against PoMo punctuation, minimal or maximal.


So, perhaps, a little something about the book: I have to tell you, this one is just kinda magical. Does Austen do it for you? (She does me—words I never thought I’d use, when considered in the light of pervious previous comments above) Does Emily Brontë liven your heart? CCF is Austen-y. It’s Brontë-y. It’s Austen & Brontë, on the rocks, with a splash of bitters. The text has the familiar “just between us” feel—comfortable and familiar. (“Flora gave her a copy of The Higher Common Sense with a suitable message written inside the cover.” Suitable. I like that. Free indirect style. It’s the little things, right?)


I ask you, Is this not the image of a competent writer, one who one simply knows can be relied upon to provide an entirely suitable text?


Entirely suitable. Now, off to order  Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm as I would, eventually, like to find out why the cows' body parts were occasionally lost and if the sheep died.  


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review 2013-10-17 03:55
Sometimes Banned Books Suck, or Thar She Blew!
Boy - James Hanley

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James Hanley's Boy was banned after it was published in 1931—for its obscenity. Perfect! And the perfect time to read it.<!--?xml:namespace prefix = "o" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /-->



 This is one I expected to like much more than I did. Begun as Banned Books Week approached and coupled with my own agitation by an ongoing Banned Reviews situation, I found this one lacking— in its ability to create any sort of compassion for its protagonist and/or to overcome my anxiety over what’s happening at a once highly valued review community where I was happy to participate.


A young boy, pulled out of school by parents who wanted him to work and contribute to their own well-being, when all he wanted was an education and the chance for a better life (in his case, a pair of shoes like his teacher’s) stows away on a merchant ship looking for an opportunity to succeed. The unwanted sexual advances of crewmates, the boy’s slavish treatment combined with an oppressive loneliness, and unfortunate experiences with an equally young, exotic hooker could have developed into something more than a mediocre adventure. 


Hanley’s over-reliance on iteration undermines a protagonist, for whom, sympathy should develop but never does leaving the protagonist  a petulant neff (Hanley’s word). Clumsy language and heavy naval jargon detract from a straightforward narrative, and a virtually hidden glossary (really) provides little help.

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