This is the first modern biography of Henry VII, and it is long overdue. Penn does an excellent job of pulling together the complicated story of Henry's reign, its improbable and contested beginning, and its tragedies and betrayals. Henry is a difficult man to sympathize with, which perhaps explains the dearth of biographers, but the strains and disappointments of his reign explain a good deal about the subsequent Tudor preoccupations with legitimacy, continental standing, and continuity. This should satisfy both serious history students and those wishing for a general introduction to Tudor England. The narrator is quite good, as well.
Bucholz has written some respected texts, but in this series he has relied on outdated research. His lectures on Henry VII and Henry VIII are sound enough, but by the time he got to Edward VI it was clear he had read no recent historical writing; he repeated the myth that Edward was weakly from birth, that Northumberland had conspired to put his son and daughter in law on the throne, and a number of other inaccuracies. Finally I had to stop listening. There are better books out there: David Loades' books on each of the Tudor monarchs are excellent, readable, and well-researched, Diarmuid MacCulloch wrote a good one on Edward, Dale Hoak's Age of Henry VIII is both interesting and easy to listen to.
Professor Paxton is both engaging and learned; her lectures were entertaining but she treats her subject with depth and perspective. Highly recommended.
This is a frothy, enjoyable cozy, in accordance with my own rules for cozies: the murder(s) take place off camera, the victim is unattractive, the murderers more so, and the whole thing is intended more as entertainment than mental puzzle. Those who take exception to MacLeod's writing and dialogue for being unrealistic are entirely missing the point, and if you don't like a little goofiness in your reading matter, you won't like this. But if you have a taste for the absurd and you like wittiness rather than grittiness, you'll like this.
This is one of the more Gothic entrants in the Wentworth series, a shamelessly romantic (in both senses of the word) thriller with a marvelous set of characters. You will have to set aside your disbelief and just enjoy the story.
I have read this book before, so I knew what to expect: a good story, a cozy atmosphere, reasonably gore-free murders, good characters. It's not remotely suspenseful, it's essentially good macaroni and cheese for those days when you yearn for just that. Charlotte MacLeod is always gently funny; this series is set in Canada, in a small community that seems real but not realistic. Other series are different. Her "Grub and Stakers" series is practically slapstick, sometimes silly; her Sarah Kelling series starts darker and gets progressively lighter; the Balaclava series is kind of a mixture of all. This series, with Janet and Madoc, is like those Balaclava ones.
The reader is okay; I would have preferred a woman's voice, given a female protagonist, but he's pretty good, and his pronunciation is fine.
Plot is pretty silly, characterization worse. The first book was a better mesh of story and research; in this, the research is too prominent and less skillfully introduced. Overall, it seems as if the writer rushed to produce a second in the series. It doesn't help that the reader has a quite annoying intonation, with a rhythm in her speech that is both artificial and continuous, although she does a good job with characters and accents.
Georgette Heyer's novels are well-written, witty, and fun to read. They do not zoom along; the enjoyment is in hearing the dialog, relishing the period details, the language and the descriptions. Some of them are more formulaic than others, but Frederica is one of her more interesting female characters, and her relationship with Alverstoke is believable and fun to observe. There is a dog, as usual, and some precocious children. Mostly, though, it's a good book, a classic in the genre of escape fiction, in the sense of writing that gives you an alternate place to be when you need one.
It's an interesting premise, comparing the two queens, and it is both useful and thought-provoking. There was a fair amount of repetition of ideas, though, of the kind of summary one expects from the introduction or the ending of a work, not continually reiterated within it. The reader's voice is fine, not annoying at all.
This is not a book for someone who knows nothing about the Reformation to begin with--the theological distinctions between Luther and Calvin, let alone Zwingli and Melanchthon, are hard for a non-Protestant to understand, and the relative brevity of the work doesn't give him time to really hash it out (to be fair, the issues that separated these guys are sometimes hard to appreciate, even when they're understood). However, it is very well-written, and since the author is one of the best-known scholars on the subject it is certainly reliable. It is an excellent overview of a complicated subject. In addition, the narrator is excellent.
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