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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 2018-08-16 19:58
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
The Patriot Bride - Kimberley Woodhouse

The Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with “The Patriot Bride” by Kimberley Woodhouse. This unique series is generational, with each installment highlighting a woman descending from Mayflower voyager Mary Elizabeth Chapman, who was the focus of the first book. In “The Patriot Bride” we meet Faith Lytton Jackson, a 32-year-old woman residing in Boston as the colonies head toward war with England. With things intensifying, Faith and a named Matthew Weber become spies for the patriot cause, facing the dangers both of being caught and of their budding relationship.

This story contains many gems that make it stand out in the historical fiction genre. Faith makes a daring heroine, one who challenges the status quo of eighteenth century female conduct with her sharp intelligence, independence, and valor. The faith element is strong, and there are many scripture verses throughout the text, underscoring how much the fight for and eventual victory of the American Revolution depended upon the patriots’ faith in God. Along with the fictional characters are some easily recognizable historical figures, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Including them not only strengthens the setting but also gives readers a glimpse into what they may have been like in their personal lives and interactions. It is all too easy to view the Revolutionary War from the safety of history, knowing the outcome and forgetting how radical it actually was. “The Patriot Bride” drives home the reminder of how steeply the odds were in Britain’s favor and of the awful—and often gruesome—consequences that awaited the patriot leaders if they lost and demonstrates how these early American overcame the odds to form our nation.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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review 2018-08-16 01:08
The Green Lama by Adam Lance Garcia
The Green Lama: Scions - Adam Lance Garcia,Douglas Klauba

This story was way more fun than I expected. I do enjoy pulp fiction but I usually have to be in a mood for it as so much of the genre can be campy and sexist. Not this one! I was happy to see so many female characters in the book – and they get stuff done too! They don’t just look pretty while being rescued.

Set in New York, there’s a variety of characters for the Big Bad Evil to infect and/or kill. The creeptastic aspects lead back to a ship that crashed into Liberty Island. It’s something out of a horror movie and it has the police baffled. But never fear! The Green Lama knows what this evil is, much to his sadness.

For such a short story, it’s a pretty big cast of characters. I did have a little trouble keeping them all separate. However, they are all interesting. There’s Jean Farell, who is a good shot and doesn’t shy away from rescuing men knocked unconscious. Frankie, who is French Black American, has a soft spot for kids that need rescuing.

Jethro Durmont, the hero of this tale, is a bit standard. He’s a millionaire white guy who lost his parents under horrible circumstances, and ran off to Asia to learn some mystical self-defense arts. Sound familiar, no? Batman, Iron Fist, The Arrow, etc. He does have at least one unique aspect – he needs his special radioactive salts on a regular basis to maintain his special powers. I hope he labels those appropriately so the guests don’t use them to flavor their soup!

Betty Dale, a newsreporter, has me wondering what will happen in the next book. She knows the Green Lama’s secrets but he also knows who she is. Then there’s poor Lt. Caraway. He made me laugh a few times but things didn’t go well for him in this story. Overall, it was a fun story. 4.5/5 stars

The Narration: Jiraiya Addams puts on a great performance. He has unique voices for all the characters and his female characters sound feminine. He went all out voicing the Evil, which was multi-layered voices for individual characters affected by it. Chilling! There were no technical issues with the recording. 5/5 stars
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text 2018-08-14 17:55
Reading progress update: I've read 14%. - feeling disoriented
Our Friends In Berlin - Anthony Quinn

Competent if slightly disorienting start to an unusual idea: a spy novel set in London during the Blitz where the German spies are the heroes.

 

I'm not sure where this is going but the ever-so-English almost "Mrs Minerva" atmosphere is made oxymoronic when applied to descriptions of "Little England" fifth columnists meeting discuss how to accelerate Hitler's liberation of Europe.

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review 2018-08-14 05:00
I Always Loved You
I Always Loved You - Robin Oliveira

I have mixed feelings about this book.  Upfront, it's pure fiction; other than the artists' names, their work, and the broad strokes of accomplishment, it's made up out of whole cloth. 

 

This is the part I had issues with, I guess.  I don't know enough about Degas, Cassatt, Morisot and Manet, with the result that I feel like this book has unfairly coloured my impressions of them as people.  I'm going to forever be guarding against mixing up this story with the reality of 4 of the most talented impressionist painters who've yet lived.

 

But if you're able to keep fact and fiction seperate, this is a heartfelt, well-written story about people who might have taken the wrong turn at the fork in the road of life.  It's slow-paced, but always interesting; I enjoyed it, but it wasn't a fast read.  The end also has a high probability of making readers misty eyed of not weeping outright.  Oliveira is very talented at creating a sympathetic anti-hero; one that you want to hug as much as you want to smack.

 

At some point though, I'm going to have to follow this up with more information about these artists and their real lives so I don't every accidentally try to pass off as fact the imaginations of Oliveira's mind.

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