On the very surface this is a light historical romance with a predictable plot and stereotypical characters. And yet, like everything M. C. Beaton writes each character has a twist that takes the reader by surprise and sometimes a laugh. This is part of a series of books based on an ex-housekeeper, gifted with an inheritance, which she uses to travel around England. In her wonderings she deftly, finds jobs for the jobless, homes for the homeless, and love for the loveless. There is no snappy banter, sex beyond a brush of lips, or even a dawn meeting with pistols, or at least not the standard duel. There is an
underlying thread of reality that makes the whole thing just a little unusual.
Standard historical romances come close.
Helen Lisanti is an excellent narrator. She manages to change characters without overpowering the story with so much acting that she pulls the listener out of the story. I enjoyed listening to her.
I laughed at a point that was one coincidence to many.
Just that I am glad M.C. Beaton chose to give up a career in journalism to write novels with some very very dry wit, hidden among the standard plots.
This is an interesting list of facts about young wealthy young American women who traded their wealth for social status and a British title. Later the young men who owned those titles but whose estates no longer supported them came to America hoping to meet these young women. But it is just a list of who did what when and superficially why.
As another reviewer said, this is a matter of taste, but I find the subject matter at odds with the cheerful banter. Really good fiction draws the reader into the story, so that there is no thought as to how the work could be better. There are stories where the "bad guys" do terrible things and the "good guys" refuse to quit and remain confident, and still manage to be enraged by the terrible things that they are fighting against. Here the cheerful banter overwhelms the idea that children are being kidnapped, and old ladies kicked. We get a nod to isn't this awful, and onto the next joke. The best comedy never winks at the audience, and the characters in this book are constantly winking and noting how cute they are. To repeat, this is a matter of taste. For example I like the way Jim Butcher's Dresden never takes himself seriously, but takes keeping the world safe very seriously. I almost didn't finish this, because I felt insulted by the lame jokes, I just thought it would get past the silly phase and get better. All of which isn't to say that others might find this book funny, but Medium Dead does not fit my sense of humor.
Susan Bardo compares the view of Anne Boleyn by courtiers who lived when she lived to older biographies including those in the eighteen hundreds, and more modern views of her, including historical fiction by Margaret George, P. Gregory, and Alison Weir. Bardo even includes the mini-series the Tudors. I don't think as it could be concluded that she was being particularly critical of these authors. They are fiction, regardless of the academic credentials of the author.
She is harder on writers of popular history, (like this one) who repeat rumors that cannot be substantiated by anything concrete. Even the famous letters King Henry sent her, were not found in England but in the vatican.
The book is interesting. Barbara Rosenblat is great as always.
When Barbara Metz/ Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters died I felt I had lost a someone I actually knew. Even her very early work is smart, and funny, if light and still managed to deal with the dark parts of life without being depressing. For example her book the Crying Child has been adapted to film, even though there were no kick-ass heroines. (I love those too). This book is so cynical that reading it is a surprise and difficult to enjoy. Its like biting into a chocolate truffle and getting a mouth full of hot peppers. There is only one character worth admiration in this story, the other female lead is a bit silly and vapid, the hero is narrow minded and vain, and these two are not balanced by sane competent characters. Even the admirable character solves her problems in a way that only desperation would make it ethical.
I began reading Barbara Michaels novels in my early twenties and 50 years later I still reread them from time to time. Under this pen name Barbara Michaels/Barbara Mertz wrote what an old librarian called cozy historical, gothic novels. I love them. Even all those years ago these books were smart, historically accurate and although light, never insulted the reader's intelligence. When she began to write more contemporary and historical mysteries as Elizabeth Peters I loved those too. Barbara Metz earned a doctorate in egyptology at a time when a female doctoral candidate had to be very very good, just to be allowed to apply. So while her books were fun, all of them were historically accurate and made sense. Her Amelia Peabody books are just wonderful.
All of which leads me to this book, and why it is so different from the ones I love to read when I need something cheerful. This is not a story about a hero who admires the spunky, smart heroine, and appreciates the fact that her care of his estates increased his fortune while he was away. Nope. He assumes she is just lucky and begins to spend the money. This book is more realistic and dark than any of her other books. Although I might appreciate the way our heroine handles the problem, the whole thing brought out a cynical sad feeling. I am so disappointed audible chose this book, out of at least twenty of her early books to record. There are early cassette recordings of her early work, so perhaps Audible will be able to give us some of her more usual books. For example the Wings of the Falcon deals with some of the dark sides of history, but also had characters who were not perfect, none of her characters were ever perfect, but they were for the most decent people, who grew into really delightful people
This is the second book in an excellent series of coming of age novels. The three major characters in this book are learning to deal with things more difficult than first love and how to ace an algebra exam. These teenagers have been genetically altered to enhance certain paranormal gifts, and they were lied to. Teenagers want to be like everyone else. These kids are having to deal with more than growth spurts and spots. So if you can see ghosts, and ghosts can see you, do you admit it? Seeing things that are not there and admitting it can lead to institutions. So all of these children who have been enhanced, have different gifts and varying levels of the same "gift" finally come to a special school run by the people who enhanced them.
Putting them in a special school seemed to be an excellent way of monitoring all of the teens as they come into their talents. However, the kids are smart. They talk to each other, and some of them run. This book takes up the story of where they ran to, and the way they deal with their relationships to each other, to the adults they feel they can or cannot trust is fascinating. I agree with a previous reviewer that the narrator sounds closer to five than fifteen, but it is not very distracting, and it is helpful to be reminded that the characters are very young.
I enjoyed the first book in the Darkest Powers series very much, and this one is very good too. It is rare that an author can maintain tension without making the main characters "too stupid to live", or adding thunder bolts from on high to save them from tight corners. So the story is both fascinating and satisfying and comes to a firm resolution, although there is more to the story. I am so aggravated by B movie cliff hangers that I usually will not follow a series that uses them. The books in this group are very good as a series and individually.
Cat in an Alien X-Ray is bending a bit under the weight of the twenty-four books before it.
A strand of the plot which stretches over years is unwoven and then rewoven to remake the pattern of the lives of the four main characters Midnight Louis, Temple Barr freelance public relations expert, Max Kinsella, stage magician and undercover operative, and Matt Devine former catholic priest and very much faithful practicing catholic. Of course the plot device of people presumed dead, only to turn up later is not new to this group of books. Max's mentor both as a magician and undercover agent is declared dead and later survives into a later book, only to die permanently in a still later book. Max himself is horrendously injured, thought dead, and fights his way back to a semblance of his former self by the beginning of this book.
But it is not the plot, thickening as it may be that has me coming back, book after book.It is the characters, the odd puns, the nods and winks to old Las Vegas legends, and amazing neon covered buildings long gone and not at all forgotten.
The characters which blend into a rainbow of comic relief include Temple's apartment in the Circle Ritz, a completely round column of a building which survived the fifties. Louis thinks it looks like a hockey puck. Electra Lark, the landlady and justice of the peace, holds weddings in the chapel there. The congregation includes soft form sculptures of famous Las Vegas characters including Elvis. She thinks weddings should be well attended.
I have to admit I began this series in the middle with the three abridged audiobooks, Cat on a Hyacinth Hunt, Cat in an Indigo Mood, and Cat in a Jeweled Jump Suit, and then went to the beginning, caught up and read the books in order to this, the latest book.
I got those three books on cassette in probably 1993 and if it were not for Robert Forster's gravely voice, a pitch perfect film noir gangster 's voice from the thirties I may not have become interested in this series at all. When these audiobooks became available on audible I bought them and listened to them again. The new narrators for these last two books are good, but no one except maybe Bogey or Cagney can do thirties noir like Robert Forster. Incidentally the abridged books actually benefited from the abridgment.
Midnight Louie, short, dark and dangerous, all 19 feline pounds of him is still body guarding his roommate Miss Temple. He still keeps his retractable shivs sharp, and members of Midnight Inc. Detective Agency in line, even if they are as independent as cats. Louie's human counterparts are not as consistent in holding up their end of the story.
Louie, fortunately for his Miss Temple, is forgiving, because not everyone can have built in weapons and an ankle eye view of crime scenes
So I suppose this is more a review of the series than of this book specifically. But the series does culminate in this book. Still I am afraid if I had not become invested in Temple and Midnight Louie I may not have enjoyed this book as a stand alone, although it does fine on its on, even all of the many Master Criminals, including a renegade IRA agent, the Synth a cabal of master magicians, old time Mafia left overs, and the odd con man or two are introduce and explained. But never fear Midnight Louis's alley cat wits, can handle them all.
I bought this abridged version because I remembered and enjoyed the original version narrated by Anna Fields. Sometimes a truly skilled abridged version of a story can even tighten the original, and I enjoy Jennifer Van Dyke so I thought I would like to listen to an old favorite.
The cuts in this abridgment were not surgical. It was accomplished by cutting out a subplot, and therefore removing one of the main characters of the amputated secondary story. This leaves Molly and Kevin, the main characters, reacting to the ghosts of the missing parts. It still works. Susan Elizabeth Philips writes great stories, and even the surface parts of this story are engrossing, Still, it takes more than a suspension of disbelief to help the reader understand why Molly is so loved by her family, without letting the reader see her complete interactions with Kevin's mom and her nieces and nephews. Getting to know the remarkable woman Kevin's mom is that makes it worth the effort Kevin puts forth to get over reasonable childhood resentments. I listened to this with friends on a drive that took four hours and kept trying to explain that these people were not really a train wreck. We didn't turn it back on for the trip back. Still even watered down Susan Elizabeth Phillips is worth some time.
First it is important to know that the characters is this book are not at all like Kerry Greenwood's books featuring Phryne Fisher which I also enjoy, and for very different reasons than I like Earthly Delights. I loved the narrator for Earthly Delights, Louise Siversen's voice is low and soothing. I also enjoyed the characters. These are beautiful people whose beauty has more to do with intelligence, tolerance, and a determination to be cheerful in the face of petty annoyances, and rotten problems, without being insipid. They live in an old fashioned apartment building, called Insula after similar buildings in ancient Rome (the ancient originals more like tenements than this elegant building.Corinna has given up a very profitable career as an accountant, as well as a "profitable" husband and big house to move into Insula, and take the bakery on the first floor. Waking at four in the morning to bake fresh bread to fill orders for stores and restaurants and bake muffins for people on their way to work, is for her heaven. She tells us that she will never wear a kitten heel again. Being a very large person we can be happy for her. While she has her share of insecurities she is not confused about her ability to run a small business, and trust her own judgment. Her friends are fortunate in her friendship, and heaven help those she sees as enemies. Corinna needs all the good sense she owns when her before dawn work day isn interrupted by a young woman expiring of an overdose on a heating grate outside her shop door. Corinna calls medics, keeps the victim alive, and is roundly cursed for "stealing the young lady's high". However, from this rather nasty beginning Corinna meets strong Daniel, acquires a ragged assistant, and deals with a slander campaign that effects all of the occupants of the building.
Although the story is character driven, the world Kerry Greenwood describes is consistent from beginning to end. The listener/reader is not jerked out of the story by a character or plot point inconsistent with earlier descriptions. I liked the description of St. Kilda. Living in the eastern United States, I doubt my dream of visiting the city where these characters live will ever be in my budget, but after reading Kerry Greenwood's books I certainly wish it were.
There are several. I love the garden upon the roof of the apartment building with its fish pool, benches and arbors, and its contrasts with the soup run, to make sure the homeless get one hot meal a day. Both of these scenes involve Daniel, whom the reader only knows as a dark mysterious stranger for a good bit of the book.
Obviously Corinna is the most memorable because this is her story. I expect though the favorite character will depend upon the reader. My daughter's favorite of course is Daniel a man so beautiful that Corinna can't believe he wants to be with her. My favorite is the retired professor who listens with silence and empathy to those who tell him their problems. Of course loving realistic magic, I also like the the owner of Sybil's Cave. When Corinna needs practical help, she is always willing to help. Not all of her help involves spells.
This story is a cozy mystery, it deserves the name more than most. The Corinna Chapman stories act upon me like a soothing cup of tea, OK, more like a glass of white wine. I am going to buy as many of these audiobooks as they produce and save them for days when traffic is bad, people are cranky, and I have to do boring mindless tasks.
Yes. Like most people I enjoy reading, and am often startled that the narrators do not sound like the "voices in my head" that my imagination conjures when I read. When I began listening to this I was expecting SCHOLARLY bass. But Holter Graham fits the era of the Kennedy administration, who were very young in comparison to the politicians of the time, and presented themselves as youthful and idealistic. Once I adjusted to the narration I loved it.
There were several moments: that the stories of Joe Kennedy's heavy hand was not a myth, that Jack Kennedy was always in pain and struggling with health issues while presenting his comparative youth as an asset thus presenting himself as athletic and energetic, the moment when I realized that it is impossible to tell if John Fitzgerald Kennedy was idealistic or just practical.
Holter Graham does an excellent job of the different voices in Hunting Ground and Cry Wolf. He moves from Native American male, middle eastern male, middle America female beautifully without pulling the listener from the book and thinking "wow he's really good at that". And more importantly the listener doesn't think "meh, no one sounds like that". This book is obviously very different from those novels, and he handles straightforward narration well.
This is a biography of someone who has been written about more than any politician in recent years, so there was nothing so new that would rise to laughter or tears. It would be a rare person that didn't know exactly how tragically this ends.
The important thing to know about this book is that it covers the early years of Kennedy's life, which allows the reader to see that there is a consistency in Kennedy's presentation of himself both as an "Irish mucker" in prep school, and an astute observer of national and international issues while still an undergraduate at Harvard. Unlike some books that boost sales by concentrating only on the days before, during and following the asasination, or even just the presidency, this one shows the reader how the core people loyal to Kennedy and he to them, became a team. Still I agree with earlier reviewers that at the end of the book we don't really know what Kennedy was like, which is John Kennedy's own criteria for a good biography. But the book is worth reading because it places all aspects of his life in context.
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