I am a former stay-at-home mom who has given up her hopes and dreams of becoming a professional reader. I now spend my days showing small children how to play games on computers. Right now I'm living vicariously through my 9 year-old who is reading everything she can get her hands on.
Two reviews in one day? What? And for anyone who is keeping track, I think I've reviewed every book I've read so far this year. Let's talk again in February.
Science Fiction is not my jam. I tend to avoid that genre more than I avoid direct sunlight. Then people raved and raved about The Martian. Fine. I'll check it out. Surprisingly, I loved it. So when I saw Artemis sitting on my library's new release shelf, I decided I needed to pick it up.
One of the things I loved about The Martian was Mark Watney's wit. I haven't laughed so hard reading a book in so long. Jasmine Bashara is no Mark Watney. There are point where she tries really hard to be. She's not. She's just not. Maybe she could have been. I just didn't feel like the reader was given the opportunity to get to know Jazz. I felt like Weir spent so much time trying to set the scene that I never really got an opportunity to know Jazz. There was so much science. Before you say anything, yes, I know I'm reading science fiction. The science is implied. There was a heavy dose of science in The Martian but I was able to muddle through it. This science was a lot harder to muddle through. There was a lot of physics and a lot of chemistry. I did not do very well in either of those classes in high school. I'm pretty sure I never even took a physics class. Would you be surprised to learn I was more an English/Literature person?
At the end of the day, I still found this book to be an enjoyable read. If you were a fan of The Martian and you like science fiction more than I do, I think you too will enjoy this book.
P.S. - While I admit to struggling with a lot of the more science-y things, I think this would make a pretty fantastic television series.
My five year old twins had their tonsils removed today. The three of us are stuck in the house for at least the next five days. One of those days will be completely devoted to cheering on the Vikings. As for the rest of the days, I'm hoping to knock out some of my reading challenges.
"Ugh." I rolled my eyes. "I don't do that, Dad. This may shock you, but I haven't had sex with anyone in this whole room."
"Well, it's a small room."
Part of the reason I loved The Martian so much is because when I wasn't confused by all the science, I was laughing like a mad woman. So far, Artemis isn't quite as funny. Every once in a while there's a gem.
The pace and the action of this book would have normally made it a four star read. Then the end happened. It was such an unbelievable sequence that I had to take a star away. This series seems to have an unbelievable element in every novel but this novel took the cake.
The meticulous research the author did is obvious. There were a few points where the story pacing suffered from the dreaded information drop. I did not find it took away too much from the story. The history of spies, particularly female spies, in WWII is a pretty fascinating topic. The end where the British master plan is revealed, is particularly fascinating. I'm not on a mission to do some extensive research on people like Henri Dericourt, Vera Atkins, and Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan.
While some have suggested this book could be read as a stand-alone novel, I would highly recommend starting from the beginning.
I'm giving this book another chapter before I decide whether or not to keep reading. This author clearly subscribes to the theory that the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk were horrid people who didn't love any of their children. That much was made obvious three sentences in. No need to continue to beat the reader over the head with it.
I really wanted to savor this novel. Knowing that when I finished, there were no more Justin de Quincy books, was kind of a bummer. I didn't want to rush through only to be sad at the end. You know what they say about the best laid plans.........
I couldn't take this book slowly. I was hooked from the beginning. The pairing of Justin and Durand was brilliant. I know they have worked "together" in previous novels but never really have they had to make it obvious they are on the same side. If that doesn't make sense, read the books. I promise you won't be disappointed. Anyway, I loved the Justin and Durand pairing. It was medieval good cop/bad cop. I would love to read more books featuring that dynamic.
It's unfortunate Penman has never had the opportunity to really wrap this series up. The end certainly left an opening for future books. However, Penman has said on several occasions that her publisher won't release any more de Quincy books. *Sigh* I guess I will just have to settle for the other Penman novels I have not yet read.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover this series was still going. I had heard book #12 was suppose to have been the last. Not only was a thirteenth novel released last year but book #14 is due to be published at some point this year.
I wasn't feeling as excited for book #14 by the time I reached the end of 13. Like so many series, I think this one is starting to run dry. This book took a step backwards from what made the previous novels so good. Normally these books are four star reads for me. The lack of focus on the primary characters took this book from four starts to three.
The story surrounding the visiting abbots just didn't work for me. I can only read about how evil women are so many times before I start to get annoyed. I understand that this was the attitude at the time (and even still to some extent) but I don't need to be beat over the head with it. I get it. Women are the reason we were all expelled from Eden. They are all whores who only exist to attempt to drive all men to the Devil. I don't need to be reminded of this every other page.
Prioress Eleanor has always had to deal with adversity, whether it be due to her age (at the beginning of the series) or her gender. The manner in which she deals with such adversity is part of what makes these books such good reads. There was none of this Eleanor present in this book. Instead we are presented with a Prioress Eleanor who borders on whiny.
I missed the quick-witted, sassy Sister Anne. While Sister Anne is never really a "primary" character, she is always a welcome addition to any story. She provides a fresh breath and comic relief to a time and setting that can be rather bleak. This Sister Anne was non-existent.
I still appreciated this book for what the previous novels have been, a quick and enjoyable journey into medieval England. I am going to continue on with the series in hopes that the next novel is capable of capturing some of the enchantment of the previous novels.
It's rather interesting that I read a book about the Borgia family while reading a book about the Ptolemy dynasty. This wasn't something that was planned. This was just how my TBR list worked out. To be honest it made for some interesting juxtapositions.
One of the things I appreciate about Dunant's Borgias since Blood and Beauty is their lack of scandal. Considering we are talking about the Borgias that's quite the task. Of course there is the scandal we can prove. Juan Borgia does meet a murderous end. Rodrigo Borgia does keep a mistress. Lucrezia Borgia has a husband who meets an unfortunate end. All of those things happen. Dunant doesn't shy away from any of them. What she does manage to stay away from is the incest and the fratricide one normally associates with the Borgia family. Dunant allows stays away from the more sensational rumors and makes the Borgias shine all on their own.
There are points where Lucrezia's rumored lovers (brothers, fathers, and other) are mentioned. They are mentioned in passing or mentioned as a joke. Usually Lucrezia is the one making the joke. The same is true of the murder of Juan Borgia's murder. It is brought up but the reader is left to draw their own conclusions. Did Cesare dump his brother in the Tiber? Did the jealous Orsini family take revenge? The author tends to lean more on the Orsini hypothesis. However, I think this is only to further other aspects of the story. I never really got the impression the author believed one or the other. Interestingly enough, there is no mention of the younger Borgia, Jofre, who has also been rumored to have reason to murder his brother. There is actually little mentioned of Jofre or his scandalous wife, Sancha.
There is no doubt Lucrezia is the star of this story. Dunant creates a Lucrezia the reader can sympathize with. Here is a woman who had little control over her own destiny. However, once the die was cast, she did everything in her power to take advantage of and make the most of her situation. Robbed of the one husband she may have actually loved, she enters into a new marriage with a man she is not the least bit attracted to. Yet, she does everything she can to be a trophy wife. After all, everything for the family.
The addition of Machiavelli was a welcome addition. If Cesare Borgia was a teen pop star, Machiavelli would have been the leader of his fan club. Seriously, who could blame him? If it weren't for the syphilis, I'd time machine back for that. Unlike the whiny, brat prince from my beloved Assassin's Creed games, this Cesare is a cunning, devious, calculated......Sorry. My fan girl is showing. I'll stop. But seriously, this Cesare, is a man to be reckoned with.
Not related to the book at all- I would just like to pat myself on the back for getting two reviews for two books done on the same day. One of my goals for 2018 is to read and review more. So far, so good!
There's a mythology out there surrounding Cleopatra. Whether it's the manner in which she presented herself to Caesar or the intrigue surrounding how she died. *Side note- I can't remember which History Channel show (one of the ones that use to actually discuss history, I imagine) but there was one that proved the whole rug thing, could have never happened. She would have died before she got to Caesar. * Everyone has an opinion of the woman. If you are one of the few people who don't have an opinion, plenty has been written about the woman. An opinion would be easy to come by. This story, however, cares very little for Cleopatra. This is a story about Ptolemy and Arsinoe, Cleopatra's siblings/spouses/pains in her backside.
Actually, this is a story about Ptolemy and what happens when little boys become men. Somewhere among the constant descriptions of wet dreams and the use of the f-word (Which by the way, I need to do some research on. Was that even a word ancient Egyptians would have known?), Ptolemy is fighting to earn the respect he deserves as the rightful king of Egypt. The reader is introduced to an 11 year old Ptolemy who is struggling to mature into the powerful ruler Egypt needs in order to keep Rome at bay. The author would have your believe that the most important aspect of presiding over a dynasty is "conquering" the women around you. I guess that comes with a lot of nocturnal emissions. The fact that Arsinoe (and occasionally Cleopatra) are the focus of his wet dreams doesn't bother me. I am well versed enough in my ancient dynasties to know that if you are a Ptolemy, it means you have to marry your sister, or in some cases, your step-mom. I get that. It doesn't bother me. What drove me bonkers was the constant focus on Ptolemy and his penis. If I wanted to read a book about what goes on when a boy becomes a man, I'd go back to 7th grade health. And to be perfectly honest, as a mother of girls, I'm trying to avoid thinking about the primal urges of teenage boys before I absolutely have to. I'm going to loose enough sleep over that at some point in my life.
When the reader isn't asked to feel bad for Ptolemy and his penis, we are asked to feel sorry for Arsinoe. Apparently Arsinoe has some major choices to make. Should she f*ck her brother or Alexander, her childhood playmate? Or does she just throw herself into being Cleopatra's minion? The last one is kind of an afterthought. Arsinoe feels like an afterthought (which she kind of is in the grand scheme of things). This was one of the biggest let downs for me. In the previous novel, the reader is introduced to this spunky, tough little Arsinoe who literally fights to survive a shattered Egypt. Suddenly, Cleopatra is back! So now, she turns into a mopey teenage girl who only wants Alexander to throw her against the way and have his way with her? Ugh.
Maybe at this point you are starting to wonder how I could possibly give this book as many as three stars. Why would I even continue to read this book after the fifth Ptolemy wet dream? Because I was hoping the author would bring back some of what made the previous novel so good. She did. For about the last 75 pages. The battle at sea between Arsinoe and Caesar? The writing was exceptional. Had that style been on display for the entire novel, this would easily be a 5 star book. It also means, I'm probably going to pick up the third and final novel. I have to see how this ends, right?
I stopped reading this book months ago. I always meant to come back to it. That never happened. So I hit the reset button and started over. I have plowed through nearly half of this book in two days. Why is this time so different? Machiavelli. I am fan-girling pretty hard over how hard Machiavelli is fan-girling over Cesare Borgia. If I could avoid the syphilis, I Cesare Borgia would make my list of historical boyfriends.
"Tell me, Eirene, to whom do we owe our loyalty: the living or the dead.”
Eirene gave her a curious look. “ The living, my queen. The dead have already abandoned us.”
Lines like this are causing me to have a love/hate relationship. Mainly because these scenes are followed by a chapter about a teenage boy and his wet dreams.
I am calling it quits on this one. I’m not the least bit interested in either character. The setting is kind of dull. For a book about a Viking who is attempting to reclaim his land, there is little to no action. I’m bored. I’m out.
Emily Hauser is rapidly becoming a must read for me. Once again, I find myself wondering why I finished this novel so quickly. Now I have to sit around and wait for the next one.
For the Winner follows the same pattern the reader is introduced to in For the Most Beautiful. We get the tales of the mortals mixed with the tales of pesky immortal interference. Like For the Most Beautiful, some of my favorite scenes were those featuring the immortals looking down from their golden perches of Mount Olympus. However, unlike For the Most Beautiful, the reader was told Atalanta's side of the tale. This makes sense when you stop and think about it. The author's focus has been on the women of these myths. When it comes to the battle of Troy, there were several women on either side of the battle who had stories to tell. When it comes to the myth of Atalanta and the golden apples, there really was only one female side of the story. To me some of the enchantment I felt in the first novel was lost with the one narrator. Just some. I was still completely wrapped up in Atalanta's story. I still found myself cheering for her on every leg of her journey.
To some, myths are over done. There are so many books out there that are modern re-tellings of one myth or another. Or books about gods who still live among us. Part of what makes these novels so wonderful is that they take place in an ancient world. A world Hauser manages to bring to life brilliantly. If you are someone who enjoys the kind of novels that put a different spin on old stories, I can't recommend these novels enough.
After reading The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki, I had pretty well decided I had zero interest in reading anything by Pataki again. Her characters were shallow and uninspired. I decided to give her a small pass when I went and did some of my own research about Empress Elisabeth. Turns out that maybe she was just a little shallow. I still wasn't in any hurry to read any more of Pataki's work.
This book jumped out at me from the moment I saw it on the new release shelf. I was a little bummed when I saw the author but something made me read the blurb. You had me at French Revolution. There is so little written about the French Revolution (if you have good stuff, throw it my way). I think it's such a fascinating period. I'm always game to pick up something new about the period.
From the opening pages, I was hooked. The prologue set the scene brilliantly. I found myself so wrapped up in the lives of the characters that I had to stop myself from jumping to the end. Let's face it, the French Revolution was brutal. I didn't want to get too attached.
By the end of the book, I couldn't believe this was the same author who had written any part of the Empress Elisabeth book. I'm actually hesitant to start another book. This one was such a high for me that I might need some time to come down before moving on to the next book. I delayed putting up my Christmas tree so I could finish. Maybe that's just the distraction I need.
I'm using this book to fulfill the reading task requirement for Square 7.
Book themes for International Human Rights Day: any story revolving around the rights of others either being defended or abused.
I'm going to try to keep track of everything I'm doing for the Festive Season here. Try being the key word.
At this point I have completed a book and a task for Square 2.
-Task for Guy Fawkes Night- Make yourself a nice cup of tea and settle down with a good book to read.
My image for this task can be found here:
-Book themes for Guy Fawkes Night- Any book about the English monarchy (any genre)
I recently finished The Lady in the Tower by Jean Plaidy. The book was about the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn.
This brings my grand point total for the Festive Season to 2pts. Baby steps!
I was not expecting much out of this novel after enduring Pataki’s take on the Empress Elisabeth. I picked this book of the new release shelf at my local library. There is so little (or maybe not) out there about the French Revolution. It’s a subject I love to learn more about at any chance I get. So I said “Why not?” After the opening scene, this book has set the bar pretty high. Fingers crossed, the author(s) don’t let me down.
I have been in a little bit of a reading rut lately. I've been going back to "comfort" book in hopes of digging myself out. I started re-reading the Harry Potter novels but that's not helping.
I have turned to Jean Plaidy to help me out. So far it seems to be working. There is just something about these books that instantly makes me feel better. Maybe it's because they bring me back to my ultimate comfort zone. These books instantly remind me of being 15, curled up in corner of my grandma's sewing room devouring book after book. My grandmother had shelves full of Jean Plaidy books. Even today, reading Plaidy instantly brings me back to that place.