Saturday, November 30, 2013

"Bellman & Black" by Diane Setterfield

* * *
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (November 5, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476711959

This is one of the few times that you will see a 3 star rating from me. Generally I don't review anything that I don't feel is worth 4-5 stars, but since I made it to page 130 of this book I thought that I would my impressions. I am a fan of Diane Setterfield's work, but I don't think that his is the best of it. Of course YMMV and you might be someone who loves this book!

I consider it to be a tale of one deed committed early in life repeating, like ripples on a still pond, into your future..

I admit to having looked forward to reading this book because I had thoroughly enjoyed "The Thirteenth Tale", and also because I am a push over for a good 'ghost tale".

I borrowed this book from our library, and was one of the first to get it in my hands. I kept reading this book thinking that I just needed to give it a chance to pick up. I made it to page 130, and decided that my reading time was better spent on something that would be more enjoyable.

I kept thinking of Poe's quote "quoth the Raven nevermore" as I read this book for some reason.... the book features rooks. While this book does present some fascinating historical information about the running a cloth mill of yesteryear, the plot itself felt rather weak to me. Deaths. A Lot of deaths, in some way linked to the sling shot killing of a rook in the protagonist's childhood. Had I read further I might have learned more about how the death of that rook figures into the story, but I took it to be more of an allegorical meaning and decided to part way with the pages and move on.

This is not a bad book, and perhaps I really did not give it enough of a chance. I had just finished reading  book that I found riveting - perhaps I just wasn't ready for this book at that time? I did not feel that this book represents the best that the author can do, and I look forward to her next book.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hild by Nicola Griffith

  • * * * * * 
  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (November 12, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374280871

I don't know where to start. I read a lot, generally at least two books a week. I love large, thick books that can take awhile to read. When I love a book, the longer it lasts the better it is! I read with enjoyment. I don't spend my reading time with anything that I don't enjoy, which is why I seldom give books less than 3 stars here or on any other site on which I post my reviews. Actually, most of my reviews are 4-5 stars. This one should have at last 7 stars by that reckoning. Some books, very few actually, are finished but stay with me, like the after taste of a particularly fine something .. wine, chocolate, a favorite dessert or meal. This book is staying with me, and I am wishing that the sequel was already available so that I could continue to savor the reading.

Ms. Griffith is a master at prose. This book, in places, reads more like poetry, each word so finely tuned that they sing like a finely tuned violin or as the voices in a perfectly pitched acapella.

I have to admit to having a few issues with the uniqueness of names and places in this  seventh century world that we enter when we open this book, but it did not take long for me to fall into the book and become one with the pages and the story. 

We step into the story of St. Hilda, but this story gives so very much more. We walk in the life of the seventh century. We go to the dairy house and help make butter, we smell the torches, hearth lights and the blood of war. We feel the tensions of King and thegns, the stress as the old, polytheistic, religions give way to the new, Christ, religion. As a female I weigh the place of women in this ancient society;  the withering work of simply 'being' in this cold, calculating, somewhat viscious time, the offering of wine and mead - and sometimes of something more.

This book is lyrically written, each moment poignant. Hild, the daughter of a would-have-been king is a person who is patient, who sees and hears things and uses knowledge to uphold her position as the King's trusted seer. Her mother, a women, the widow of the 'would-have-been-king' has not standing, no property. She who is a healer and she uses nothing more than her wits to preserve the life of her children.

This is a book that takes hold of you and transports you. I simply could not put this book down! Well done Nicola Griffth! Let there be more ! I can't wait!

This book should appeal to everyone because of how well it is written, but it will hold special interest for those of us who have an affinity for historical fiction and, more than that, anyone who appreciates perfectly wrought fiction.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

"The Spanish Queen" by Carolly Erickson

  • * * * * *
  • Also available as an e-book
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (October 22, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250000125

I have been so negligent in posting reviews lately! I just keep reading it seems and forgetting to review! Bad on me! I considered dropping my book blog, but will continue and see how it goes. I love the books that I read and enjoy sharing my reactions with those of you who read these few reviews. I also add craft book review to my 'other' blog sometimes.

I digress again. SO onto this excellent book ....

  • I thoroughly enjoyed this captivating story of Catherine. Told in the first person it brings a much more personal feel to the life of this much abused Princess and Queen. I couldn't put it down and ended up reading it in two late evenings!

    As always with Ms. Erickson's work, I found the details to be quite exacting (if you compare the events in the book with recorded history that is) and the human spirits of the people involved is well reflected in the pages.

    My hallmark of a great read is if it pulls you in enough to feel as though you are "in" the story yourself, and this book did that for me. I was sorry when I reached the end! I felt as though I had just read about a much more approachable, less rigid, person, who circumstances set the tone for her life - and her death. Their is a lot 'human-ess" in these pages, and I was quite riveted. Well done! Anyone who loves historical fiction, British history, Tudor history or just an interesting fictional read will , no doubt, enjoy this book