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review 2018-01-14 03:21
The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan
The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home - Denise Kiernan

Biltmore is an enormous Gilded Age estate in North Carolina. It was built on the orders of George Washington Vanderbilt II in the 1880s-90s as a summer retreat and became the largest private home in America. Biltmore is situated on a plot of land to match, over 10 square miles, the bulk of which is forest and now a National Park.  The house itself, astonishingly, remains in private hands. How this came to pass makes for an entertaining bit of history.

I hadn't known much about the origins of Biltmore or its role in the early environmental movement and was impressed. Kiernan veers away from the story of the house to dwell on Vanderbilt family drama, but its to be expected. Not many people just want to hear about stone korbels and inspiration for plasterwork. The Biltmore Vanderbilts lived interesting lives, Edith (George's wife) in particular with her involvement in an Arts & Crafts cottage industry around the estate. The other family members, especially where it seemed Kiernan had to fill gaps of information with speculation such as with Cornelia Vanderbilt (the original heiress), was less interesting. Thanks to this book, Biltmore and its gardens and the park surrounding it have risen above the 'cottages' of Rhode Island as a must-visit for me.

The fact that Biltmore, such a white elephant from the beginning, survived intact through a century as destructive as the last one is remarkable.

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review 2018-01-11 02:47
Fiona Griffiths impresses again.
Love Story, With Murders - Harry Bingham

For me, these things aren’t only about finding the killers, but about giving peace to the dead. It’s not primarily a question of justice. The dead don’t care about that. The murder investigation, arrest and conviction are just part of the funeral rite, the final acts of completion. Gifts I bring the dead in exchange for the peace they bring me.

 

The peace of the dead, which passeth all understanding.


DC Fiona Griffiths continues her efforts to act normal, maybe even feel normal, getting along with her boyfriend and staying out of trouble with her superiors. Basically, things are going as well as they possibly can following the events of Talking to the Dead. But we know that's going to come to an end, otherwise, this would be a really dull series. It comes to an end when Fiona and a colleague stop off on their way home to look at a case of illegal rubbish. In this particular case, the rubbish is a body part in a chest freezer. It's a significant enough body part to make the detectives sure they're looking for something more serious than illegal rubbish.

 

Over the next few days, the police are able to find some more of the woman, as well as start to understand how long ago she was killed and dismembered -- which leads to an identification. Shortly thereafter, the police find pieces of a fresher corpse in the same area. While most detectives look for connections between the victims and hunt for clues to identify the killer, Fi begins learning more about the victims as individuals (not that she's alone in this, it's just she's alone in her approach), what their lives were like, and what would lead someone to kill them. Fi investigates things in a way no other fictional detective -- private or police -- does. I'm not sure I can express it clearly, but when you read it, you'll notice. When she starts to put the pieces together about what was going on the whole time, I was flummoxed -- it's nothing like where I expected things to go.

 

Aside from that are the relationships with her boyfriend, family and fellow police officers. The romance between Buzz and Fi is very strange, but sweet. She's dealing with a different superior for these investigations. It's not just Fi up to the same antics with a different boss -- similar antics, yes, but Fi understands herself better now, and is able to do what she does in a way that her superiors are able to accept and use. As for her family? I'm not even going to try to talk about it.


Some people are better as corpses. They’re easier to like.


On the one hand, I really like watching Fi's subconscious at work, making the connections, deductions, and guesses she needs to be making to solve the crime/find what she's looking for, while she interprets it as "the dead" talking to her. Well, that's one way to read it, anyway. It really could be that there's something on the verge of supernatural going on. I like the hint of ambiguity that Bingham has given this world and Fi's understanding of what's going on.

 

I was, I don't want to say surprised, but it was something like it by the ending. Maybe I've just been reading too many Mysteries lately with pretty ambiguous endings, but this one had a very satisfying ending with most of the loose ends tied up. This doesn't mean that everything ended happily (for want of a better term), but that Fi's fully able to satisfy her curiosity and need to know (at least about those things that came up in her professional life -- her personal life is only slightly more settled by the book's end than it was when it started).

 

A murder mystery -- with, yes, a love story -- that had some fantastic character moments, a really strong puzzle, all very well told. Fiona Griffiths impresses again. This is the best kind of sequel -- the same kind of things that filled the first book in the series, but seen differently by everyone (including the protagonist) and with different results -- Fi's grown a bit (I want to stress "a bit," she's still basically the same person, which is good, I don't want everything to be "normal" for this character), and is building on the events from the previous novel, not just repeating them. I'm truly annoyed with myself for waiting so long to get back to this series, and will not make the same mistake.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/01/10/love-story-with-murders-by-harry-bingham
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review 2018-01-01 20:40
This Love Story Will Self-Destruct
This Love Story Will Self-Destruct - Leslie Cohen

Title: This Love Story Will Self-Destruct
Author: Leslie Cohen
Publisher: Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Four
Review:

"This Love Story Will Self-Destruct" by Leslie Cohen

My Thoughts....

This was a interesting read with Eve trying to find herself...being with the right person with a lots of drama issues that seemed to keep her so very unhappy. Then here comes Ben who seems to come in and out of Eves life. I liked how he seemed to have a order in his life where as Eve seemed to be all over the place with her many crazy issues. I found this story that went back and forth making we wonder would they ever come together and stay together? I found the title of this story really fitted the story as you will see how this author brings this all out for the reader. It was of great interest as the author brings in the subject of 9/11 so uniquely into this story. By the end of the read the reader will get a story of 'two unlikely people who finally find each other. Now, to know more you will have to pick up this good read and see how well this author brings it all out to the readers.

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text 2017-12-02 01:57
16 Festive Tasks - Square 7 - International Human Rights Day
My Love Story!!, Vol. 1 - Aruko,Kazune Kawahara

I finished the My Love Story!! series which is by 2 Japanese women, so it's going to be one of my books for square 7.

 

 

Book themes for International Human Rights Day: Read a book originally written in another language (i.e., not in English and not in your mother tongue), –OR– a book written by anyone not anglo-saxon, –OR– any story revolving around the rights of others either being defended or abused. –OR– Read a book set in New York City, or The Netherlands (home of the U.N. and U.N. World Court respectively).

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review 2017-11-06 02:04
Vampires of Atlantis: A Love Story - Brian M. Stableford

It was interesting reading this book right after the author's "Sheena and Other Gothic Tales". Instead of the follow-up to the longish short story "Sheena" that I was expecting, this novel turned out to be an expansion of that story into a short novel. A very good expansion, I hasten to add, and well worth reading for the extra depth and detail Stableford has added to this tale.

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