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review 2017-08-17 19:16
Snowe's Fall, Katie Wyatt

I really enjoyed this clean, Historical, western Romance. I voluntarily chose to review it. I've given it a 4.5* rating. This one showed a bit of travel by waterway. The heroine really had to adjust to a new way of life. And the hero had to adjust to having someone else around all the time. It was funny and serious at the same time. Sometimes we forget some of the dangers our ansestors lived with on a continual basis.This is book 7 of Katie Wyatt's Pioneer Wilderness Romance Mail Order Bride Series-set of 26.

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review 2017-08-17 18:06
A Mystery of Errors / Simon Hawke
A Mystery of Errors - Simon Hawke

Two travelers, Will Shakespeare-a fledgling dramatist, and Symington Smythe, an ostler and aspiring thespian, meet at a roadside inn and decide to cast their lot together for fame and fortune in the cutthroat world of the London theater in Elizabethan England . . . but neither was prepared for their offstage encounter with A Mystery of Errors. When a backer's daughter is double-crossed by a would-be suitor, the reluctant bride turns to the ostler and the playwright for help.  Little does anyone realize that these simple affairs of the heart and an arranged marriage will lead to a vast web of conspiracy, mistaken identity, and murder that finds the playwright targeted for assassination and the ostler hopelessly in love.

 

This novel suffered from comparison with recently read historical fiction by C.C. Humphreys, whose work stands head-and-shoulders above this little mystery. The writing of just the first page had me wondering if I would even bother to finish the book. After all, life is finite and there are tons of good books out there.

I did persevere, however, and followed the story to its rather pedestrian end. The plot was imaginative and I wish the author had been able to exercise more skill in its execution. Rather than flowing, events bumped along rather brusquely. The dialog was simple and the characterization was basic. Every now and then, there would be a tiny info-dump as the author proved that he had done his research.

If you are considering this book, I would suggest that you approach with caution. If you are looking for a book featuring Shakespeare as a character (as I was), I would recommend Shakespeare's Rebel. If something involving a highwayman is your goal, try Plague. If you are looking for a 21st century humourous take on Shakespeare, pick up Shakespeare Undead, which is lighthearted yet effortlessly shows how to reference the Bard’s works without belabouring the point.

At some point, I will probably solider on and read the second mystery in this series, as I have made a bit of a project out of reading all the novels I can find that feature Shakespeare as a character. You are not obliged to follow me in this obsession.

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review 2017-08-17 18:03
Plague / C.C. Humphreys
Plague - C.C. Humphreys

London, 1665. A serial killer stalks his prey, scalpel in his hand and God's vengeance in his heart. Five years after his restoration to the throne, Charles II leads his citizens by example, enjoying every excess. Londoners have slipped the shackles of puritanism and now flock to the cockpits, brothels and, especially, the theatres, where for the first time women are allowed to perform alongside the men. But not everyone is swept up in the excitement. Some see this liberated age as the new Babylon, and murder victims pile up in the streets, making no distinction in class between a royalist member of parliament and a Cheapside whore. But they have a few things in common: the victims are found with gemstones in their mouths. And they have not just been murdered; they've been . . . sacrificed.  Now the plague is returning to the city with full force, attacking indiscriminately . . . and murder has found a new friend.

 

Chris Humphreys is an inspired historical fiction author. I met him last weekend at a literary conference and he is smart, funny, and charming as the devil. He definitely benefits from his acting background, particularly his ease with performing Shakespeare (we got an excerpt from one of the Henry plays during his key-note address). During one of his panel discussions, he mentioned that as an author, one must choose how the dialog will be written—choose your form of “bygone-ese” as he called it. Humphrey’s ease with the English of Shakespeare and his playwright’s ear for what will sound good gives his fiction a feeling of reality, using just enough older vocabulary and never becoming too 21st century.

There is, of course, theatre involved in the novel—a subject that the author is knowledgeable and comfortable with. But the variety of characters, from highwayman to serial killer to royalty, gives the story a breadth that I appreciated. As a reader, you are not limited to merely the theatre of 1665, you experience many parts of London. In fact London itself could be counted as a character.

I will be working my way, gradually, through all of Chris Humphreys works and will definitely look forward to more. Highly recommended.

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review 2017-08-17 16:25
Review of "Within the Hollow Crown" by Margaret Campbell Barnes
Within the Hollow Crown - Margaret Campbell Barnes

The subtitle for this book is "A Valiant King's Struggle to Save His Country, His Dynasty and His Love."

And valiant he is. The author is setting forth a clearly heroic tale. Interesting times making potentially for a good story.  I am feeling kinda force-fed what a valiant -- if naive -- young man he is. Author doesn't need to try quite so hard.

 

Overall, a decent tale of a little covered period of history that I would have liked much better if less sappy and slanted.  And if more atmospheric of the period -- meaning some very modern viewpoints crept in, not that I had major issues with the history or historical details.

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review 2017-08-16 19:04
The September Society - Charles Finch

I enjoyed this book but it was pretty slow paced for my liking. There were a few details that I figured out and knew what would happen eventually. There was also a lot of political discussions and talk about the clubs that seemed like filler to make the book longer. I lost interest in those parts. Otherwise, it was a good story and even though I knew some things in advance I didn't mind and actually looked forward to the time when it would happen. I'm just giving it 3 stars because of the stuff that didn't seem relevant to the story and made the book drag.  I did not mind the parts where he wants to ask Lady Gray to marry him but doesn't for so long because he is insecure.  I know some guys who are the same way so it seemed realistic to me.

 

Charles Lenox, amateur detective. receives a visitor one morning.  Lady Annabell is worried about her son who is missing.  She has already lost her husband and couldn't bear losing her son as well.  She told Lenox her story and when she told Lenox there was a dead cat in the middle of his room, stabbed with a letter opener, he decided to go at once. There he found several other things that seemed odd and one was a card that says "The September Society."  Lenox was sure that Lady Annabelle's son George had left him clues.

 

Throughout this story, Lenox is caught up in his thoughts about Lady Gray.  He wants to ask her to marry him but he is insecure and worried about ruining their friendship. When he sees a man coming from her home he starts to worry that he is too late and she has already chosen another man.  There are several times in the story when he sees her and wants to talk to her and ask her to marry him but the time never seems right and there are other people pulling her away.  

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