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review 2019-07-24 18:30
The Pericles Commission (The Athenian Mysteries #1) - Gary Corby
The Pericles Commission - Gary Corby

The Democrats and the Conservatives are fighting. I guess democracy has had the same problem since the beginning of its time. Maybe we need a Nicolaos instead of a Mueller? 


I've immediately gone ahead and ordered the next three books in this series. It is pretty rare for me to like a first book in a series as much as I liked this one. I usually find them clunky, full of random back stories, and full of characters who lack personality. This book did have clunky parts. However, I found the cast of characters to be charming and funny. 


Nicolaos is to Ancient Greece what Gordianus the Finder is to Ancient Rome. The similiarties are striking both in character and story. The difference is in the setting. Much like Saylor does for Rome, Corby makes Greece come to life. You can almost taste the watered wine and smell the back alleys. Also as noted above, Nicolaos' supporting cast is wonderful. It's a big larger and more eclectic than Gordianus' which adds a fun element to these novels that I don't associate with the others. 

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review 2019-07-01 20:00
Here Be Dragons (Welsh Princes #1) - Sharon Kay Penman
Here be Dragons - Sharon Kay Penman

This book has been on my TBR since November of 2013. It is one of those books that I always look at on my shelf and say "I'm reading that next". Then I never read it next. I put it on two different TBR challenge lists for 2019. I'm trying to read more pages over the summer than my ten year old. I guess it was finally time to read it next. 


About 50 pages in and I'm like "WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO READ THIS?!?!" Another 20 pages in, I'm crying about something. Another 30 pages in, I'm screaming about how wonderful the writing is. Repeat that pattern for 700 pages. My husband will tell you that this scenario is the reason noise cancelling headphones were invented. Sorry but Llewelyn and Joanna are much more compelling than Sheldon and Amy. Prove me wrong. Seriously, he's on one side of the room laughing hysterically and I'm on the other side crying hysterically. It must be true love.


Penman's characters are always magnificent. Justin de Quincy is one of my literary boyfriends. He also needs more books if any of her publishers are reading his. Her Eleanor of Aquitaine is Eleanor of Aquitaine. There is no one else. Fight me on this. Ask the person who tried to tell me Allison Weir's Eleanor was better. It does not end well. I also believe that Richard Burton is the ultimate Henry VIII (and Thomas Becket and Mark Antony). If you can't tell I'm feeling pretty argumentative today. It must be the humidity and non-stop thunderstorms. I had a point I was trying to make here and I got side tracked.


The point was John. King John I of England is not typically a character we are suppose to like or feel sorry for. We are suppose to hate him (much like a certain author wants us to hate Henry VIII, again another post). We are suppose to want him fall in a Sarlacc pit. We want to see him drawn and quartered. We are not suppose to think he gets a raw deal. We are not suppose to see all of the good things he did for England. We are not suppose to feel bad for him because at the end of the day most of his family screwed him over. Penman manages to throw all of that out the window. Don't get me wrong, this John is not without flaws. This John is still manipulative, calculating, and full of Angevin temper. This John is also a father, a husband, and a man who does truly care about the people of England (not the nobles, the people). He is the kind of complex bad guy who you can't help but be kind of attracted to and scared of at the same time. 


I could easily give each of the main players their own review. They are the kind of characters that stay with you long after you have put the book back on the shelf. Llewelyn has made his way on to my list of literary boyfriends. Joanna had me in tears. Why can't she just be happy? Why can't the Welsh just love her like Llewelyn does? And who doesn't love a woman who lights her husband's bed on fire? Angela Basset has nothing on Joanna. 


Somewhere in the middle of all these characters is Wales. Reading Penman's descriptions of Wales reminded of the way I felt the first time I watched The Lord of the Rings. The way Jackson swept through New Zealand made me want to book a flight at that moment. I felt the same way about Wales. I want to visit 13th century Wales. I want to see waterfalls. I want to climb cliffs. I want to sit on the beach. I also want the English to leave the Welch alone. Just let them have their cows and mountains and log homes. 


I need to wrap this up. I could go on and on about this novel. At the end of the day, unless you read it for yourself, you won't understand. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go track down the next two books in this trilogy. 

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review 2019-04-28 16:51
A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4) - Deanna Raybourn
A Dangerous Collaboration - Deanna Raybourn

The problem with finishing these books so quickly is that I have to wait so long for the next installment. My husband informs me that it is much like how he feels every day I tell him we don't have time to go see Endgame.


Tiny rant incoming.


1.) Thursday night is a school night. I can't be out that late on a school night and neither can our babysitter. 2.) On Friday night I had to help host a party for a friend 3.) I had a vendor/craft event all day yesterday. 4.) Today we have to go to his nephew's Eagle Scout ceremony. 4.) The idea of being in a small space with that many people terrifies me and gives me horrible anxiety. For now, my husband just needs to stay off the internet until next weekend when we have time.


Books are much easier to spend time with. They fit in my purse. I can read in the car while someone else drives. 


Tiny rant over.


This is the best book I have read all year. There was just so much to love about it. The only think that didn't really work for me was the cheesy last page but otherwise, I loved every word. 


Stoker is dangerously close to overthrowing my current literary boyfriend, Uhtred. He's just so damn dreamy. If these books had been written 10-ish years ago and adapted for any sort of screen, Clive Owen is my pick for Stoker. Feel free to put forward your own suggestions. Not only, is he dreamy but we have a few things in common. Stoker can provide a Keats reference for any situation he finds himself in. My Keats is terribly rusty. However, I can make a Friends reference for anything. Ask all of my co-workers. We both spend time with a female who likes to plunge headfirst into situations without assessing the danger. Granted my seven year old usually finds herself in different situations than Veronica but he ability to assess danger is non existent. Ask the doctor who has seen her twice this year for head injuries. Unlike Stoker, I've never sailed. My ability to swim is questionable. My brothers are all bigger than me and hitting them wouldn't end well. I also have huge issues with blood. 


Veronica is much less Veronica in this novel. At first I wasn't sure I was going to like it. By the end of the book, it worked. This Veronica is a little more subtle. She still speaks when she shouldn't. She still makes rash decisions. There's just less of it. The Veronica spends so much time with her own personal conflicts that she forgets to jump to conclusions about the people and mysteries around her. I realize the entire series has been about whatever is developing between Veronica and Stoker. I felt this book spent much less time on the mystery at hand and more time really fleshing out the Veronica/Stoker relationship. Based on the way this novel ended, I get the impression, the reverse will be true in the next novel. 


I took a sip and nearly chocked. "This is not cider," I protested as I wheezed.


"Of course it is," she told me, taking a great swallow of the stuff and smacking her lips appreciatively. "With a bit of rum in it."


"How much rum, Mother Nance?"


"No more'n half a teacup in each," she promised.


Mother Nance and I make apple cider using very similar methods. 





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