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text 2018-09-06 16:35
L’inconnu du Pont Notre Dame by Jean-Francois Parot

I’m going to read this next. As far as I can tell, it’s not here in Booklikes’ database and I don’t feel up to adding it manually from my phone. I’ve probably said it before, I really hate typing on a little screen. My regular phone is broken. 



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review 2018-09-04 09:53
No. 13 Toroni: A Mystery
No 13 Toroni - Julius Regis

by Julius Regis


Victor Dreyel leads a reclusive life for many years, then suddenly gets a mysterious message. A wooden doll is sent to him, followed by a visitor.


This is an old 'sudden scream and then the door slammed' sort of Mystery originally released in 1922. Like many older stories, the plot progression is fairly predictable because they were the ones who did the tropes first, but it was well-written and the characters were especially done well.


I'm not really into murder mysteries so someone who is would probably enjoy this one much more than I did. For a short book, it did seem to take ages to get to the point but those who enjoy working out what really happened will have plenty of mystery and suspense to keep their minds ticking over.


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review 2018-08-30 12:44
Blackbeard - The Birth of America
Blackbeard: The Birth of America - Samuel S. Marquis

by Samuel S. Marquis


The introduction to this got me excited because a lot of historical information was consulted by the author that shows Blackbeard very differently than pop culture has painted him and among the sources was David Cordingly, who wrote one of the best non-fiction books about pirates I've ever read.


Having established that the author did his research, this is presented as Historical Fiction so I was prepared to settle back and enjoy a good pirate story, but secure in the knowledge that it was based on facts as far as they are known. The one problem was that a lot of those facts were shoehorned in and made the flow of the story a little awkward.


Still, Blackbeard comes over as a mostly sympathetic character. The early chapters read more like a history book than historical fiction, but I did get caught up in the story a few chapters in. The events and chance meetings that led Edward Thache to turn from honest naval service to piracy are put into context in a way that demonstrates that he had little choice, as so many characters from history have found themselves on the wrong side of the law through circumstances of their times.


I enjoyed getting a look inside the sequence of events that actually happened and how Thache morphed into the pirate Blackbeard and obtained the Queen Anne's Revenge. With historical fiction about real people, you already know how it ends. It's reading about the sequence of events that lead up to what history tells us that makes it interesting and I came out of this feeling real sympathy for Blackbeard and his reasons for turning pirate, not least of all because he preferred taking his prizes without hurting anyone when he could.

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review 2018-07-31 11:00
Conrad Monk and the Great Heathen Army
Conrad Monk and the Great Heathen Army - Edoardo Albert

by Eduardo Albert


Historical fiction with humour, what's not to love? This drew me in right away with all the tension of a Viking raid on a monastery and a protagonist who never wanted to be a monk. Conrad is funny in his totally mercenary reaction to the situation and consistently along his further adventures. I do love an intelligent character with a good sense of survival.


It's set against a fairly accurate backdrop of history of the Viking invasions of England. Exactly what's based on fact is explained well in a note after the story and holds some real surprises as some details that seemed unlikely turned out to be based on archaeological finds! I may have a couple of locations to visit on my travels.


The story keeps a good pace and despite his perpetual self-interest, Conrad is actually a likeable character. How he came to be a monk gets explained in the curse of the story and it's easy to sympathise with him on that particular downturn of his constantly changing fortunes.


Best of all, the story puts believable faces to groups of people from history. Personalities among the Danes as well as historical figures bring the setting alive and I did laugh out loud at a few all too human foibles along the way.


I highly recommend this story for anyone who likes a Pratchett-like laugh, even if they don't normally read Historical Fiction. My only complaint is the overt way in which the author lets us know there will be a series. I will be interested in the next book despite my usual disinterest series that use this tactic.

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text 2018-07-27 18:46
Reading progress update: I've read 11%.
Conrad Monk and the Great Heathen Army - Edoardo Albert

This is brilliant! Just the right balance of comedy and tension. It might still be on Netgalley if anyone's interested.

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