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review 2016-10-30 06:23
Book Review: Shadows on the Nile
Shadows on the Nile - Kate Furnivall

Book: Shadows on the Nile


Author: Kate Furnivall


Genre: Fiction/Mystery/20th Century Britain/Egypt/Family Stories


Summary: 1912, London, Jessie Kenton hears her young brother, Georgie, scream in the middle of the night and wakes up the next morning to find him gone. Her parents never speak of him again. 1932. Twenty years later, Jessie is haunted by the same nightmare. Her other brother, Timothy, has inexplicably vanished from her parents’ home. Wracked by guilt because of her failure to ever find Georgie, and convinced that the two events must be related, she sets out on a quest to find Timothy. She plunges into a mysterious world of seances and mystics, nebulous clues and Egyptian artifacts. With the help of a dashing and impoverished aristocrat, Sir Montague Chamford, Jessie follows the trail into the alien, swirling sands of the Egyptian desert. Amid the ancient intrigue and blistering heat, a powerful romance sparks between Jessie and Monty. But they must first confront the demons of Jessie’s past - and reveal the dark secrets that threaten not only Timothy’s life but theirs as well. -Penguin, 2013.


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review 2013-12-28 18:00
Review: The Jewel of St. Petersburg by Kate Furnivall
The Jewel of St. Petersburg (The Russian Concubine, #3) - Kate Furnivall

I wish I could remember how I found out about this book. If I could find the person or website I would give them a big hug. Well, I don't think it is possible to hug a website, but if I could find a way I would. In any case, somehow I found out about the book. I love reading about early 1900s Russia. Something about the time period draws me in and doesn't let me go. Maybe it's like reading about the Titanic, always perched on the edge of your seat knowing what's going to happen, but hoping for a happy ending anyway.

In any case this brings me to The Jewel of St. Petersburg. The main character in this story is Valentina Ivanova, daughter of the financial director to the Tsar. She's grown up in privilege, but tragedy strikes the family and alters the path Valentina sets for herself. Jump ahead to 1910 and we get to see Russia on the brink of change.

The interesting part about this book is it has the perfect balance between the historical and the fiction. Entwined with the history, Valentina's story of what she does for love of her family and of Jens is remarkable. It twists and turns all the while taking Valentina from a child to an adult. She is such a strong character that is supported by some pretty dynamic characters as well.

But what pushed me into 4.5 star land was really the fact that it wasn't all Valentina's story, but also Russia's story. We received the story of the revolution through Arkin, a rebel Bolshevick ready to stir the flames of change in the heart of the people. Arkin was a great foil to Valentina. I couldn't hate him from what I know of history and even what he revealed of himself through the pages. 

Two minuses: One was the initial overuse of Russian words. I don't mind Russian words, but after one or two times don't tell me the direct English translation. I can figure it out by context. Either this tapered off as I read or I stopped noticing... 

The other minus was the ending, well not really the ending per say but my own ending experience. Let's step back. Picture it. I am sitting on a crowded airplane, soaking in the climactic scenes the novel was building towards. The end happens. "Wow! What and ending! I am completely satisfied!" I say. "Oh look! An excerpt from the next book!" I skim the pages and all of the happiness I had just felt was invalidated. I was kind of angry, but I did a little research and found that this book was in fact a prequel to the excerpt I skimmed, which would make for a whole different experience for the readers who read in publishing order. I felt better after that.

The Jewel of St. Petersburg is a wonder of historical fiction. I would recommend this to anyone. It has intrigue, war, romance, rebellion and great plot and characters. 

Plus look at how pretty that cover is! 4.5 stars!


Originally published on GR in Nov 2010

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review 2013-12-21 03:39
Shadows on the Nile by Kate Furnivall Review
Shadows on the Nile - Kate Furnivall

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads. (Uncorrected Proof)

*Spoiler Free*

In 1912 London one night Jessie Kenton hears her little brother, Georgie, scream and wakes up the next morning find him gone. Her mother and father never speak of him again.

Twenty years later, Jessie's other brother, Timothy, vanishes. with the guilt over never finding Georgie she sets out to find Timothy which leads her to Egypt along with the help from Sir Montague Chamford.

This is told from different characters' points of view. It was quite easy to follow as the points of view changed from one character to another. To me that was a big plus. There were a few grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors, since it was an uncorrected proof it did not bother me as much. I loved the descriptive details throughout the story. I found it easier to picture the surrounding the characters described. The author provided a lot of information of Egypt and many other things through the story so that you are not left wondering or confused. I feel the author did very well in her research of Egypt for this novel.

All in all, I enjoyed my time reading this novel. It was a refreshing difference from what I usually read.

Would I read it again?

Would I recommend it to others?

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review 2012-07-12 05:15
The White Pearl
The White Pearl - Kate Furnivall I enjoyed this book. The setting was unusual and I like reading books connected to WWII, I liked the strong female lead.
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review 2012-06-24 00:00
The Russian Concubine
The Russian Concubine - Kate Furnivall In 1917, a family caught in the midst of the Russian Revolution, is literally ripped apart when Russian revolutionary soldiers assault the train taking the exiles out of the country. Valentina Ivanova tries to barter for the lives of her husband and daughter. Lydia is saved, but her husband is beaten and dragged off with the rest of the men and children who have been forced from the train by the soldiers. The book was very loosely based on the life of the author’s mother.
At first glance, I realized that the cover would not have drawn me to the book, and although I found the first 350 pages hard to read, I soldiered on, because it was the selection for my book group. Finally, I gave up and skimmed the rest of the pages so that I could get to the end and find out the conclusion. I hoped it would get better and draw me back into the story, but for me, the book continued to descend more and more into the realm of the ridiculous. Instead of concentrating on the historic fiction of the time in the early 20th century, which was rich with information, the author chose to make it a silly love story, complete with erotic scenes, about a Russian teenage girl and a young Chinese Communist sympathizer, set in the International Settlement area of China in 1928.
Valentina and Lydia are without papers or money. They are in a hopeless situation, dependent on the favors of others or their own cunning for their survival. Lydia has grown up to be a thief and a liar, but also a survivor, at all costs. She is completely willful and unrealistic in her approach to life and the fact that she survives defies the imagination. Simply put, she gets away with the most ridiculous encounters with danger. The book requires the suspension of disbelief, as it often puts Lydia into the position of someone from the landed gentry, when she is really living in poverty, dressed in threadbare clothes and attending school on scholarship. It is odd that she knows how to behave appropriately in all situations. Her speech and attitude is often equal to that of someone raised as an aristocrat, rather than in an attic room by a mother often drunk from too much vodka. From moment to moment, confusingly, she slips from child to adult.
Her decisions are dangerous, naïve and foolish. She gives no thought to the consequences of her actions and shows little understanding or remorse for what her actions have wrought, even in the conclusion. Although she is bright and resourceful, she is thoughtless and shows little concern for how her impetuous, irrational behavior will affect others. It was hard to find any redemptive lesson or any healthy resolution to any of the issues raised in this story. Lydia experiences, first hand, the horrific brutality of the conflict between the Kuomintang and the Communists but the situations and outcomes are difficult to believe.
The story felt more like a flight of the imagination, than a novel reminiscent of the Russian past of the author’s mother and grandmother. One scene in particular was simply inappropriate and completely lacked credibility for me. The young Lydia is making love to Chang, in her own room, while her mother is honeymooning, although he is only days from being lice and maggot infested, mutilated and feverish, unconscious and barely alive. In addition, she is sixteen, but apparently is endowed with healing skills and sexual prowess and desire, under these dreadful circumstances. What message was the author intending for her readers?
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