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.
Once upon a time, ribbons were sewn around condoms to help courtesans know what size they were. Apparently you did not want a yellow ribbon.
I'm telling my husband this and he stops me mid-sentence.
"So they poked holes in them? To put ribbons in them?"
"That's my understanding."
"The first thing every guy in college learns is that you only want one hole in your condom."
"What's the second?"
"When in doubt, use two."
Meghan Markle has a lip biting husband who tells her how amazing she looks. Mine is telling me about condoms and college boys. I think it's safe to say we are out of the newlywed phase.
I am electing not to mark spoilers in this review. I feel the events of the novel are prominent historical events that the majority of readers should be familiar with.
As excited for this book as I was, I was also hesitant to read it. As I understand things, this is the final book in the Gordianus the Finder series (Roma Sub Rosa). I'm just not quite ready to give Gordianus up despite the fact that he seems to have acquired a few more years than most Romans of the age. The author has been releasing prequel novels. However, none of those novels have really been any good.
If you are coming into this book expecting the traditional Gordianus mystery, you are going to potentially be disappointed. There is a mystery in this novel but it doesn't make an appearance until about the last 100-75 pages. The novel revolves around Caesar and his death. There's no mystery there. Everyone knows how Caesar dies. Everyone knows who killed Caesar. Saylor still managed to make me care and maybe even convince me that just maybe this was an alternate history. Maybe Caesar didn't really die.
It is difficult to make the events of the Ides of March take a backseat. Saylor manages to put Caesar's assassination in the way back. Cinna takes a front seat in this story. Cinna's work and his death are the star of this show. If you aren't sure who Cinna (the poet) is and where he stands in Roman history, I would strongly recommend doing a little bit of background research before starting this book. I must confess I had heard the name but wasn't sure exactly who Cinna was. I had to pause my reading to do some of my own research.
While the author has said there are no plans for more Gordianus novels, there was a door left open at the end of the novel for a spin off. I'm not going lie, the idea of a spin-off doesn't thrill me. The prequels were enough of a flop that I'm not sure I'm interested in anything other than Gordianus as "the Finder".
"Aren't you going to bed?"
"I need to find out how Caesar dies."
"What? You know how Caesar dies. You have a t-shirt all about how Caesar dies. You just wore it. You even stabbed Caesar yourself when you played Assassin's Creed."
"I need to see how Caesar dies from Gordianus' point of view. It's different."
"How many different ways can a man be stabbed?"
At this point, I think I've spent more time on the footnotes than I have on the actual book. Name the last book you read with footnotes that were more interesting than the book. I know I can't.
Another one of my favorite things about this book is the way the author will kind of go off and be like "Hey, don't get too attached to this guy. He's not going to make it to the end of this book. Also, watch out for this guy. He's planning something."
Apparently Mother Nature forgot to break up with Winter. The upside to this continued relationship? I have an excuse to spend my Sunday inside with tea and a book.
I adore Phryne Fisher. She definitely makes my list of fictional characters I would love to spend the day with. She never fails to make me giggle while taking my breath away. I love how she just plunges headfirst into life.
More than Miss Fisher, I love Greenwood's ability to weave a complete story into so few pages. I have yet to get to the end and feel like I've been shorted. Pun intended.
I am starting to wonder if I should attempt to watch the television series based on these books. Do I need to progress further in the series to avoid spoilers? Will I inevitably disappointed with the adaptation? The little snippets of the show I have seen look promising enough. The actress cast as Miss Fisher certainly seems to fit the part which is more than I can say for that abominable Last Kingdom casting. *Listen, I don't know who the casting direction was trying to cast but that man is NOT Uhtred. He's too much of a pretty boy to be my Uhtred.*
I'm still here! We've had a crazy few months at my place. I've had three sets of tonsils removed from various people in as many months. The two five year olds weren't so bad. The 33 year old? That was a special kind of fun. Seriously, the adult caregiver in charge should get drugs too. And I still have that full-time job thing that requires my attention. Unfortunately for me, the 33 year old from my house who just had surgery is also the head of the department I work in. Apparently since we share a mortgage, children, and weddings rings I get to do all of his work on top of my own work. I'm not really sure I get paid enough for that. Actually, I'm 100% positive I don't get paid enough for that.
I have read books since I last reviewed. I think. I'm pretty sure I have. Maybe not. I don't really know. I'm not really even sure what day it is.
My latest task for Historical Mystery Clue was to read a book with a black cover. I bought this book nearly two years ago for my Kindle when it was 99 cents. The goal was to read it when I bought it. The book came fairly highly recommended by people with similar tastes to my own. This book is also on The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List's Classic Historical Mysteries list. To me that implies it is a must read for fans of that particular genre. The other two books on the classics list are A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters and The Crocodile in the Sandbanks by Elizabeth Peters. I have now read all three classics. I was not impressed with any of them. I haven't even continued with the series in the case of the later two.
So what was my problem with the book? It wasn't an overly complex book. I could have easily polished it off in a day if I had the time or the desire. The fact of the matter is, I didn't have the desire. Early on I found myself annoyed with the sisters. It was like Mean Girls meets Victorian London. The bickering and the nit-picking was almost more than I could take. I had the mystery figured out pretty early on. What kept me reading was the need to know if I was right. I was right. However, to find out I was right, I had to deal with pages and pages of sisters bickering, grandma bickering, and mom fighting with the mother-in-law. It was tedious.
Based on how the book ended, I'm going to guess there's less of sister bickering in the coming books. Hoping this is true, I'm going to pick up the second book in the series to see if this series really does live up to the hype.
There was a point where I threatened to boycott the Super Bowl. After the way Vikings' fans were treated in Philadelphia, I told myself "Nope. I'm not watching that."
Then I remembered Justin Timberlake was the halftime show. My 13 year old self said, "You have to watch!" I settled on watching but only for the commercials and the half-time show. And, if Philly happened to get trounced, it would be a bonus.
So I watched. Here were just some of my thoughts"
-"So what? Philly has a lead. Did you see last year?"
-"Crap (or another word). Now my kid is going to have nightmares about a dinosaur trying to eat her while she sleeps. Thanks Jurassic Park."
-"Tom Brady is still on the other team. This game isn't over yet."
-"The skinny girl in the Diet Coke commercial stole my dance moves."
-"I should have made some food instead of taking a nap this afternoon."
-"Did Morgan Freeman just lip sync to Missy Elliot?!?! Best commercial ever!"
-"I forgot to go to the liquor store on Saturday."
-"Is it halftime yet?"
-"I want an Alexa but only if she yells at me like Gordon Ramsay."
-"So is JT actually going to sing? Or are we just going to watch him dance?"
-"Where are the other N*SYNC guys?"
-"I wish Prince were alive. This show would be a million times better."
-"Maybe he won't actually do the Trolls' song?"
-"Damn it. Now I have the Trolls' song stuck in my head!"
-"Eli Manning has something funny coming. Maybe I'll keep watching."
-"OMG!! I'm going to pee my pants from laughing! That was the funnies thing I've ever seen!"
-"Tom Brady is still playing. This isn't over."
-"I feel sorry for anyone who lives within 100 miles of Philly."
Anyone else have any semi-interesting thoughts during the Super Bowl? Or were you like most of my friends who were just in it to get to the episode of This Is Us?
I am a big fan of Bernard Cornwell. His Uhtred makes my list of literary boyfriends. The book Uhtred. Not whatever abomination they have cast in the television show. I don't know who that guy is but he's not Uhtred. Anyway.........I am also a big fan of historical fiction set in Tudor England. When I heard one of my favorite authors was writing a book about one of my favorite time periods? I was immediately sold.
It was purely coincidental that I read this book on the heels of reading another book featuring a Shakespeare brother. However, the Shakespeare brother in Cornwell's novel is an actual historical figure. There is a birth record for a child named Richard Shakespeare born after William. John Shakespeare of the the Rory Clements' novels is not listed anywhere as a brother to William.
Fools and Mortals centers around Shakespeare's first performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Richard is a member of his brother's theater company, the Sharers. The relationship between the two brothers is far from close. Richard needs money and William is a means for Richard to earn money while doing something he likes (and by all accounts seems to be good at). While the company has found royal favor through their employer, Lord Hunsdon, they are never completely safe from the Percies who are charged with keeping London "moral". By moral, I mean, not Catholic. One of Willam's manuscripts goes missing and chaos follows.
If you read the book's blurb and pick this novel up expecting some deep, twisting mystery, you are going to find yourself disappointed. While there is a missing manuscript that needs finding, the reader immediately knows who took it. To classify this novel as a mystery is a stretch in my opinion. The manuscript doesn't actually go missing until the book is over half finished. The mystery is quickly solved. The bigger focus of this story is the process. How did the theater work in Elizabethan England? What did actors do? How did Shakespeare work? What was life like in London? All of these questions are answered as only Cornwell can do. My biggest problems with novels of this sort generally tend to be issues with setting the scene. An author will completely immerse their reader in Elizabethan London and then BAM! Something horribly out of place and anachronistic comes along to spoil the whole story. Not once did I get that feeling during this novel. Cornwell creates an authentic atmosphere. Not once does the reader feel like something is out of place. The manner in which his character speak and act flows with the addition of the lines from Shakespeare's works. It is wonderfully done. For that reason, I highly recommend this book. The setting, not the characters or the mystery, is the real star here.
I would love to see more of this time period from Cornwell.
I am reading books at a rapid pace right now. I've more or less been stuck on a couch with a pair of recovering five year olds for the last four days in addition to being hit with a terrible bout of sudden insomnia. At least I have plenty of books.
To start, I have a minimal knowledge of Ancient Rome. I know what I've been taught in school. I know what my boyfriend Gordianus has taught me with his adventures. However, Gordianus (to this point) only brings me through Julius Caesar. Livia's tale begins with the death of Julius Caesar. However, my minimal knowledge of Caesar Augustus and his quarrels with one Mark Antony was enough to get me through this book without too much help from Wikipedia.
I think my minimal knowledge actually worked in this case. I know about Livia and Nero and Claudius. I know who they are but not necessarily where they came from. While this book doesn't go into much detail about Nero or Claudius, it gives the reader an excellent glimpse into the life of the family's real power, matriarch Livia Drusilla. This Livia is not the scheming, poisoning, and manipulative woman we have been told about before. This Livia is slightly manipulative but not in the power mad way you think. At no point does the author lead you to think Livia's actions are meant to benefit anyone but Rome. This author does an excellent job making Livia human. She is a wife who cares for her husband. She is a mother who wants what is best for her children. She is a citizen who cares for her country. She is a woman who is constantly working to keep these three things in harmony even if it requires a personal sacrifice.
I would have liked to have seen more of Livia later in life. I would have like to seen Livia during Nero. I would have liked to have seen Livia during Claudius even though the glimpses of Claudius we are given suggest that Livia wasn't exactly a fan.
What is it about the playhouse that turns men and women into quivering puppies? All we do is pretend. We tell stories. Yet after the play the audience lingers at the house door wanting to see us, wanting to talk to us as if we are saints whose very touch could cure their sickness? But what sickness? Dullness? Boredom?"
I gave up on my Vikings. Kind of like they gave up on playing........nope.......too soon.
Instead, I'm moving on from one Shakespeare to another.
I fell asleep reading this last night. I woke up this morning determined to finish before the Vikings play. SKOL!
I have seen so many different books toted as comparable to C.J. Sansom's Matthew Shardlake books. More often than not, I find myself disappointed. Truth be told, I have not yet found anything to be as dark, gritty, or politically charged as the Shardlake novels. Enter John Shakespeare.
Shakespeare and Shardlake both have similar qualities. They are both slightly naive. They both tend to find themselves being used as pawns in someone's political schemes. The biggest different between the two men, Shakespeare is a more of a rogue. While Shardlake strives to use his brains to get himself out of trouble, Shakespeare is not afraid to fight.
I will confess to liking Shardlake just a little more than Shakespeare. However, I am only two books in to Shakespeare. Things could change. If the second novel is any indication of how things will progress, that could very well be the case.
Much like the first, this book was dark. It was gritty. It was gruesome. It was thick with political schemes. If you are not familiar with Elizabeth's England post-Walsingham or the children of Lettice Knollys, I would highly recommend doing a little background research first. Otherwise, you may find yourself a little lost.
Easily the most fascinating part of this book was the story of Roanoke. As a child, I was taught all about the mysterious colony of Roanoke. A colony of English settlers come to the New World to create a new life who suddenly vanish without a trace. What happened to little Virginia Dare and the other colonists? Did a mysterious illness overtake them? Did they run foul of the natives? Did they just leave and start a life somewhere else? This book presents an entirely different theory. It's actually quite fascinating. That's all I'm saying about it.
I would love to start the third novel but the Vikings play today. I have Super Bowl on my mind. SKOL!
My currently reading list is at ZERO. I don't even know when the last time was that happened. Probably at some point between the ages of Newborn to three when I didn't know how to read. Not kidding, I was reading at 3 and a half. Not to brag or anything but my mom says I pretty much just picked up a random book and went with it. I kind of wish my brain would have picked up math as quickly. It would have made college slightly easier.
Anyway, my problem is what to read next. I don't have any library books that are demanding my attention. I have five shelves (and part of a floor) full of books. My Kindle app says it currently has 100 books, 75 of which I have yet to read. It's kind of overwhelming. All I know is that I have to find something and quick. My five year olds are already on their fourth viewing of Scooby-Doo! and Batman the Brave and the Bold. Moana looms in the distance.
I need to find my next book.
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.