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review 2018-12-08 16:34
Tombland
Tombland - C.J. Sansom

by C. J. Sansom

 

Book 7 of the Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mystery series.

 

Set in the rebellions of 1549 during the reign of Edward VI, two years after the death of Henry VIII. The nominal king is eleven years old and his uncle, Edward Seymour, Lord Hertford, rules as Edward's regent and Protector. Catholics and Protestants are at odds and the Lady Elizabeth has a personal interest in a murder of the wife of one of her distant relatives that she sends Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer in her service, to investigate.

 

Medieval intrigue and mystery mostly keep attention through over 800 pages that cover among other things, Kett's Rebellion in the Tombland area of historic Norwich. These are real places and the history has been well researched. I did, however, think it was overly long. The books in this series contain a lot of detail of every move and I think it was asking a bit much to carry on with so much scrutiny for so long.

 

On one hand it's a good Historical Fiction, but it's also a murder mystery. I'll admit I'm not a big fan of murder mysteries in general and making me wait so long to find out who did it was torment! It is well done in the end though.

 

Those who do enjoy murder mysteries will have a great time trying to sift through the plentiful suspects and possible motives, both political and personal. The author leads us through a merry chase through all the possibilities. I did think that the final reveal was a little forced and not quite realistic, but by then I was just glad to have answers.

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review 2018-12-03 12:30
The Sorrows
The Sorrows - Jonathan Janz

by Jonathan Janz

 

Film composers Ben and Eddie along with a couple of their female friends go to stay a month in Castle Blackwood, which has been uninhabited since a series of gruesome murders in 1925. Eddie is trying to inspire Ben's creativity when his personal problems with an ex-wife and son are distracting him. However, a malevolent being has been trapped for nearly a century in the castle and he’s ready to feed.

 

The first chapter was very well written and the personalities of Ben and Eddie were coming out strongly from the start. The one issue was that very different things were happening in the first few chapters so it took a while to get hold of a storyline without referring back to the description to remember what the story was supposed to be about, but a few chapters in, it all pulls together and we're off to the island.

 

It also got a little overblown on sex. Whenever an author's description of a woman includes "perky breasts" I get an impression of a creepy guy who objectifies women. Female authors just don't describe women that way, even if they prefer women themselves. I'm not a prude but I felt the sexual content was invasive rather than beneficial to the story.

 

The scares in this one didn't really deliver. The set-ups were there and could have been horrific, but the obsession with sexual dynamics distracted from any intensity and made the story drag. By the time I got to the end all I could feel was that I didn't like any of these characters. I know this author has written some good stuff but this one just fell flat for me.

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review 2018-11-24 12:05
Daisy Jones and The Six
Daisy Jones & the Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid

by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 

The story of an imaginary rock group from the early 1970s as told in interviews with the imaginary characters. This was an interesting read despite the unusual format and most of it was realistic enough that I actually checked to make sure it wasn't a real band. The relationship between the lead singer and his girlfriend stretched believable romance a little far, but it still worked.

 

A lot of references to real bands and things happening in the world at the time made this as enjoyable as reading about any favourite obscure band from that era. For those of us who weren't around to experience the times first hand, it might as well be as true as any of the documentaries about other bands.

 

It was very well done and the dynamics among the various band members and close associates are interesting and realistic enough to believe it all could happened. I so wanted Daisy to stop hurtling towards her own self destruction!

 

What was unexpected because of the format were a couple of twists near the end. I came out of reading this with the same sort of nostalgic feelings I get from real documentaries, for a place and time I've never been. I did wish the ending had gone one step further, but it was satisfying nonetheless.

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review 2018-11-19 10:40
Everyday Enchantments
Everyday Enchantments - Maria DeBlassie

by Maria DeBlassie

 

Non-fiction

 

This is a book of snippets of thoughts about some of the things many of us contemplate, but don't think to write down. Things like the wonders of synchronicity and observations of everyday life. Many of these are related from the author's point of view but written in second person so that the book tells me there are roadrunners where I live and that I like chamomile tea (not!)

 

The further I read, the more I felt I was looking at the author's perspectives rather than my own and experiencing her thoughts from looking over her shoulder. What is striking about these short thought-spills is the consistent positivity expressed and how one might find joy or strength from ordinary things.

 

While I didn't always feel the perspectives applied to me, the second person format worked to draw me into the author's mind and see her life from an optimist's view. The idea here is to turn around and apply these positive thoughts to your own life details.

 

I could see this being of benefit to those who tend to get down about things generally. I'm rather an optimist myself so although I couldn't identify with the details, I could appreciate the author's attitude.

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review 2018-11-17 11:48
Dissolution
Dissolution - C.J. Sansom

by C. J. Sansom

 

Book 1 of the Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mystery series.

 

This is the beginning of an ongoing series of Historical Mysteries that take place in the Tudor period of England. The books are all self-contained stand alone novels and the character who takes us through the progressing snippets of history is a high-level lawyer called Matthew Shardlake. In this first novel, it is 1537 and Lord Thomas Cromwell is the vicar general and supports the Reformation, as does Shardlake.

 

The country is divided between those who are faithful to the Catholic Church and those loyal to Henry VIII and his newly established Church of England. A murder leads Cromwell to bring in Shardlake to investigate.

 

Shardlake is a hunchback, which I thought was a brilliant way to bring diversity into a historical setting where not a lot of diversity existed. He is intelligent and thorough in his investigations and that can get him into some difficult situations when he uncovers uncomfortable evidence of such things as sexual misconduct, embezzlement, and treason.

 

Like much Historical Fiction, a lot of detail is included and it can take a while to get from one place to another. I wouldn't call it 'slow' because it keeps interest and seeing events from Shardlake's point of view works well with his detailed observations. It is basically a Mystery story, but within a historical context. The historical details look to be well-researched and accurate.

 

There's also a certain amount of dramatic action, especially at the end. I thought it was extremely well done and I enjoyed reading the historical notes after the end, as I always do when a Historical Fiction novel includes them.

 

Most importantly, the end really is the end. The first chapter of the next story in the series is included, but each story is complete and you don't have to buy another book to see what happened. If you enjoy a good historical mystery this is a good place to start as it develops Shardlake as a character and gives the reader some insight into how his deformity affects him as well as his thinking processes and how he came to be in his position, but after that the books could be read in any order.

 

A very intelligently written series.

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