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Search tags: Victorian-London
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review 2017-03-07 16:56
Marking Time
Marking Time - April White

Saira Elian is a 17-year-old Californian girl whose English mother disappears while Saira, a solitary parkour free-runner and tagger (hope I got that right!), is out doing her thing in “the tunnels” somewhere under LA. Faced with the Child Protection Services unless she can name a relative who will take responsibility for her, Saira reluctantly tells them about someone in England.

 

That someone was waiting for me when I stepped off the British Airways flight in London: Millicent Elian. I hadn’t seen my grandmother since I was three years old […] My mother couldn’t stand her. Not a big surprise given the way she was sizing me up, probably wondering if I was worth the effort. […] “I see you got his height.” Millicent’s tone was not flattering. “Hello, Millicent.” I knew I should be more polite and call her “Grandmother”, considering she just kept me out of foster care, but she hadn’t really earned the title. “And his manners, too, obviously.” “I wouldn’t know.” […] “I have a car waiting.” Of course she did. Millicent’s fancy gray Rolls Royce waited at the curb outside the airport, and her fancy gray driver held the door open for us. “Home, Jeeves,” she said with total authority. “Jeeves? You’re joking.” “I don’t joke.” Millicent’s expression didn’t change. Jeeves caught my eye in the rear-view mirror and very slowly, he winked. It wasn’t much, that wink, but it was something.

 

It turns out that the Elians are a family of time-travellers, and Saira’s mother, who is normally gone for only a couple of days (or that's how it seems!) is now being held against her will in Victorian London. And that, of course, is where half the story, and most of the adventure, takes place.

 

One aspect of the story that fascinated me was the love between Saira and a young man in Victorian times who had already known Saira in the future in her own time and fallen for her there – or should that be “then”? He, of course, doesn’t know about this yet, and she can’t tell him because the secret of how he came to be still a young man all those years later is just – well … I’ll leave it to you to sort all this out when you read the book, and add only, by way of encouragement, that while the ingredients may not be entirely original (there’s Hogwarts here, and Ann Rice, and Jack the Ripper, and Time Travel) the resulting dish is something different from the usual run-of-the-mill YA, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

 

(Here's a different cover - I much prefer it.)

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review 2017-02-08 14:25
Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth - Lee Jackson

If you are fastidious, don't like filth or stench, then you would have not wanted to live in Victorian times as there was plenty of both and even if you were wealthy it was no protection as there was no avoiding either! This is a really well researched book, filled with everything you could possibly want to know about this subject. There was a lot of fascinating information about grime, soot, toilets, housing, washing clothes and bodies etc, but there was also a lot about this or that committee, so and so said/did this, somebody else did that which wasn't nearly so interesting and I ended up skim reading these sections. The photos don't work too well on a kindle which is a shame. It is still worth reading this title to get a great insight as to how our forebears lived.

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review 2016-02-03 19:30
Marking Time
Marking Time - April White

Saira Elian is a 17-year-old Californian girl whose English mother disappears while Saira, a solitary parkour free-runner and tagger (hope I got that right!), is out doing her thing in "the tunnels" somewhere under LA. Faced with the Child Protection Services unless she can name a relative who will take responsibility for her, Saira reluctantly tells them about someone in England.

 

That someone was waiting for me when I stepped off the British Airways fkight in London: Millicent Elian. I hadn't seen my grandmother since I was three years old [...] My mother couldn't stand her. Not a big surprise given the way she was sizing me up, probably wondering if I was worth the effort. [...]

"I see you got his height." Millicent's tone was not flattering.

"Hello, Millicent." I knew I should be more polite and call her "Grandmother", considering she just kept me out of foster care, but she hadn't really earned the title.

"And his manners, too, obviously."

"I wouldn't know."

[...]

"I have a car waiting." Of course she did. Millicent's fancy gray Rolls Royce waited at the curb outside the airport, and her fancy gray driver held the door open for us.

"Home, Jeeves," she said with total authority.

"Jeeves? You're joking."

"I don't joke." Millicent's expression didn't change.

Jeeves caught my eye in the rear-view mirror and very slowly, he winked. It wasn't much, that wink, but it was something.

 

It turns out that the Elians are a family of time-travellers, and Saira's mother, who is normally gone for only a couple of days (or so it seems!) is now being held against her will in Victorian London. And that, of course, is where half the story, and most of the adventure, takes place.

 

One aspect of the story that fascinated me was the love between Saira and a young man in Victorian times who had already known Saira in the future in her own time and fallen for her there – or should that be "then"? He, of course, doesn't know about this yet, and she can't tell him because the secret of how he came to be still a young man all those years later is just – well ...

 

I'll leave it to you to sort all this out when you read the book, and add only, by way of encouragement, that while the ingredients may not be entirely original (there's Hogwarts here, and Ann Rice, and Jack the Ripper, and Time Travel) the resulting dish is something different from the usual run-of-the-mill YA, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

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review 2015-03-29 19:24
The Icarus Plot
The Icarus Plot - Jenny Schwartz

I have to say that I prefer to review books written by complete strangers. Knowing I am expected to comment on or even write a review of a book written by a friend or acquaintance fills me with trepidation. I like that word, but it is not strong enough. Fills me with horror.

 

So it was with trepidation (not horror, for we are only BL acquaintances, not friends - though I should like to be) that I finally began Jenny's The Icarus Plot after it had been gathering metaphorical dust in my Kindle for several months. And I knew within the first few lines that Jenny is the real McCoy. After a couple of pages I was comparing her favourably with Philip Pullman. I read the story straight off - it is not long, more a novella than a novel - and went to bed happy. Happy to have discovered another author whose other books I can now look forward to reading, and happy with the world: it is a story that leaves you happy.

 

Thanks, Jenny.

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review 2015-02-26 19:01
The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London - Judith Flanders

 

                I love the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes. He is Sherlock. The one flaw in the wonderful series is that the London is too clean. Apparently really too clean. So is the London in Ripper Street.

                I have never been so thankful for modern plumbing before.  Or the fact that I can go into a coffee shop.   Or for my stove. I am really thankful for my stove.

                No, I’m not a complete idiot but realize something and then actually realizing what living that way entails are completely different. Flanders showcases how people ate, what they ate, and how and where they worked. In some ways you will appreciate Dickens more and in other cases it will shield light on the truth behind the details.

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