Review – Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett.

You know the term “book hangover”? Well, suffice to say that I’m now experiencing it after finishing the final book in Follett’s The Century Trilogy. 3000 pages, countless characters, many different countries and time periods later, I have come to the end of this literary tour de force.
In the third installment, Follett allows us to experience life between 1960 and 1989 for all the different families. Pretty much every major event is covered, albeit in different levels of detail (I think it is fair to say that Follett’s interest in WWII is more apparent than his interest in the Vietnam War). We see the characters develop with the times, and indeed how their offspring handle various stumbling blocks in similar, or different ways than the previous generations.
As stated above, this series does run in at about 3000 pages. Don’t let that scare you though. Yes, it does seem to consume all your time, and you will become very invested in these characters. At the same time though, you will find that you fly through it and you’ll then find yourself wanting so much more.
The best way to describe how I’m feeling, and this will be a feeling many of us have shared, is that of knowing when something is so perfect that it has to end. That holiday romance that is full of passion, that meal at a once in a lifetime restaurant, that week on a tropical island… You don’t want it to end because it is perfect, but you also want it to stay a perfect memory, so you know it has to end…
I’m not sure how my brain is going to function without being in Follett’s world everyday, but I know that I’ll get over it and that it will always be a great memory.
Let yourself get swept away and give this series your undivided attention!

You can get all 3 books for about $20

The Century Trilogy (3 Book Series)

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Review: Mrs. McKeiver’s Solutions by Margaret Morgan

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This story set in 18th century England was such a treat! Mrs. McKeiver is the local midwife and general mother figure for the villagers. Her son doesn’t have the use of his legs and vacillates between depression and moving forward with his life.

The plot seemed secondary to the characters and setting. Basically, Mrs. McKeiver was remarrying, and her son had to figure out where to go when his mother moved. Other characters had babies, were forced to move to a different home, changed their religious inclinations, and were punished for their crimes.

I’m not big on non-fiction, so this fictional account was the perfect way for me to learn about English villages in the 1700s. The filth stands out in my mind, especially. People stank of sweat, urine, vomit, and disease. Animals stank, period. Food rotted and clothes deteriorated. Author Margaret Morgan employs Chaucer’s manner of slipping in crude bodily remarks in a matter-of-fact way… and always elicited from me a delayed but genuine laugh!

Besides the daily living outlined in the story, I was intrigued by the power that “the church” had on the villagers. Bishops, supposedly representing the Church, were totally in charge of everything, from disbursement of food and jobs to determining where people would live! Of course this autonomy led to corruption, another thread in this novel.

My only complaint is that I was rendered impatient by the rambly writing. I sometimes found myself not wanting to pick up at the next chapter because I knew it require some effort to work through all the words to get to the meat of the story. And so, Mrs. McKeiver’s Solutions was a long-winded but eye-opening, educational, amusing glimpse of a pretend village in a very real period in history.

-Calliope

buy MRS.MCKEIVER’S SOLUTIONS

Review – LIFE The Day Kennedy Died: Fifty Years Later: LIFE Remembers the Man and the Moment by the editors of LIFE.

17333556I am a self-confessed conspiracy nut, and make no apologies for it.  Saying that however, I am an intelligent conspiracy nut – I like to review the evidence and make my own conclusions.  Now, we’ve all seen in the last few weeks a flurry of books being hastily released in order to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the day that President Kennedy was assassinated.   Most of these have no merit, and are purely released to garner some money and attention.   This is not to say that this book released by LIFE magazine isn’t making money – you still have to pay for it – but I would rather pay for another JFK book by a respected author/collaboration such as LIFE magazine.

Before we get into the review proper, I must warn you that this is a book with media – the original, unedited Zapruder film; it is only downloadable to tablets, Fires, etc… I’m not sure how the DTB edition deals with it.

This book covers events from the emigration of the Kennedy family from Ireland, right up until the horrible day in 1963.  We are treated with many previously unseen personal photos, some in colour, some black and white, with a running commentary.   As it is told in chronological order, there is a sense of a real narrative here, and it actually makes the read all the more shocking.  Like I said above, I am conspiracy/history buff, so I thought I had known pretty much all there was to know about JFK, but I was wrong!  LIFE magazine has a reputation for preserving history through photographs and articles, and I learnt a few new interesting things last night.

Due to the linear narrative, when it comes time to watch the Zapruder film, it really does pack quite the punch.  Even though I knew what was going to happen, I still audibly recoiled and felt a bit sick.   This was real life, with real people, and EVERYONE was affected somehow.  That is proved in the chapter that collects the “where I was on that day” stories from random people from reporters, to Barbara Streissand, to Bill O’Reily.   The Kennedy’s may have been economically out of touch with many Americans, but even when you have staunch republicans, and Russian leaders say that they were dismayed when died, you know that he was someone unique, and someone to look up to.

~ Pegasus.

Buy it here:  LIFE The Day Kennedy Died: Fifty Years Later: LIFE Remembers the Man and the Moment<

Review: The Untamed Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

imageLady Louisa Scranton’s father, an earl, died in shame. He had swindled investors out of their money. Louisa is looking to marry well to help her overcome the scandal.

The Bishop of Hargate was one of her father’s investors. He tries to blackmail her into marrying by promising that the debt owed against him will be forgiven. Before Louisa can give him an answer, Hargate falls dead at her feet.

Sent to investigate investigate the crime is Detective Inspector Lloyd Fellows. Lloyd is the half-brother of the four infamous MacKenzie men. Louisa’s older sister married Lord Mac MacKenzie. Louisa and Lloyd shared a passionate over Christmas that neither can stop thinking about.

Hargate was poisoned. All evidence suggests that Louisa had the motive and opportunity to murder the bishop. Lloyd knows she is innocent and goes to lengths to protect her. He even re-stages the crime scene so that it appears that the killer might have quickly entered and left. By doing this, it also allows Lloyd time to discover the real killer.

All of the Mackenzies appear in this novella. They are a loving and boisterous group. They either are trying to help Lloyd with the case or trying to play matchmaker to Louisa and Lloyd. Daniel Mackenzie does both. His appearance made me want his book NOW.

The only dis-satisfaction I had was with the mystery. Much of the detecting by Lloyd and others was done off-stage. There were no real clues to track. It was all told at the end how Lloyd discovered who the killer was.

If you have not read the MacKenzie series, I would not recommend starting with this novella. Start with the first book so that you can understand the family dynamics. You can also see where it all started for Lloyd and Louisa.

4/5 stars

~Thalia

Buy It Now The Untamed Mackenzie (Mackenzies Series)

Buy Book 1 The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Mackenzies Series)

Review: Never Kiss a Rake by Anne Stuart

imageLet me begin this review with a confession. Anne Stuart is one of my book crack authors. After I devoured my first Stuart book decades ago, I searched for more. She is my most expensive book glom. Well worth every penny spent and every minute searching on eBay.

Bryony Russell and her two younger sisters are left close to penniless after their father passed away six weeks ago. Their father was a wealthy shipping magnate who was accused embezzling money from his company. Everyone believes that he died from a carriage accident while trying to flee England.

Her father left a note:
“Don’t trust any of them. Someone’s stealing money, and it looks like Kilmartyn’s in league with them, no matter what excuses he makes. Don’t trust Morgan either. Never trust a pirate. Something’s going on, and I’ll get to the bottom of it…”
This note leads them to believe that their father may have been murdered. Bryony plans to investigate Adrian Bruton, Earl of Kilmartyn, and discover if he is responsible for her father’s death and also if he embezzled the money.

Adrian has a difficulty maintaining a housekeeper. Bryony’s plan is to apply for that position. She figures that she’s better suited for housekeeper than maid because she “knows more about running a household than…dusting and cleaning.”

Bryony disguises herself as a widow and goes to the Kilmartyn home. When Bryony interviews with Adrian’s wife, she is turned down the position because his wife doesn’t want to be surrounded by ugliness. The ugliness is the smallpox scars on Bryony’s face. Luckily for Bryony, Adrian intervenes and hires her.

Adrian does this mainly to spite his wife. He was forced to marry her after she blackmailed him with her knowledge of his deep dark secret.

Since Bryony must report directly to Adrian, they spend much time together. That spark of interest at the interview becomes simmers.

Adrian is the epitome of the Stuart hero: dark, brooding and ambiguous. Sometimes you’re not sure if you should root him. He knows that Bryony is not whom she claims she is.

I enjoyed the time spent with Bryony and Adrian as they try to figure out what each other is really doing. Neither trust each other. Both are very much attracted to each other.

The weakest part of the book is the wife. She’s very one-dimensional. It’s never revealed how she found out about Adrian’s secret.

Because this is the first book in the trilogy, there is a teensy thread unresolved. I look forward to reading the next book. A Russell sister investigates a pirate.

3.5/5 stars

ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley.

~Thalia

Buy It Now Never Kiss a Rake (Scandal at the House of Russell)

Amazon Prime Members Can Borrow Book For Free Never Kiss a Rake (Scandal at the House of Russell)

Review: Married by Morning Lisa Kleypas

image“Was this some new level of depravity? Had he developed a spinster fetish?”

Lisa Kleypas has created one of her most captivating heroes in Leo Hathaway. As a young man, Leo lost his fiancée to scarlet fever. This tragedy turned him into a hedonistic, sarcastic scoundrel. A very funny one.

“Oh, I have a very pure soul. It’s only my private parts that have gotten me into trouble.”

“Tell me about our legal issues. And use small words. I don’t like to think at this hour of the morning. It hurts.”

Catherine Marks is the one lady who can match wits with him. As they banter back and forth, they acknowledge that beneath that hatred is a mutual attraction. They go from trying to find the worst on each to learning about the best in each other.

It was a pleasure to watch them fall in love. The Hathaway family is there along with a mischevious ferret named Dodger to help Leo and Marks through their courtship. One of Kleypas’ funniest books punctuated by sweet memorable moments.

This is the fourth book in the Hathaways series. This book can be read as a standalone but I highly recommend reading the previous books. Marks and Leo’s relationship develops through the series and you can see the attraction building.

~Thalia

Buy It Now Married By Morning (Hathaways)

Review: Sweet Revenge by Zöe Archer

image“Oh, aye,” he said, bitter. “I’m a goddamn hero.” “I never said that.” Her mouth curved into a soft, bittersweet smile. “But maybe someday you’ll become one.”

Jack Dalton has a gun held to his head. On the other end of the gun is Eva Warrick. She and her companions are part of a private organization called Nemesis Unlimited. Nemesis’ mission is to help those in the lower social classes. Their current client is a merchant’s daughter. She was seduced and abandoned by Lord Rockley. Eva and her fellow agents believe that Rockley is also involved in some illegal activities. They want to expose him and thus bring retribution for the merchant’s daughter.

Jack just wants to kill Rockley. Jack’s sister was a prostitute. Rockley had rough sex with her and caused her death. He escaped prison to kill Rockley. Eva threatens to bring him back to prison if he doesn’t help her.Jack is the only person who left Rockley’s employ and is still alive. They need him to track Rockley’s activities as well as his business associates. Jack has no choice but to help Eva and her partners.

Jack and Eva are immediately attracted to each other when they first meet. The romance slowly develops as they work together. They learn of each other’s past. Jack’s is painful, of course, as he is riddled with guilt over his sister’s deaths.

This an exciting and entertaining, action-packed first book in the series with a kick-ass heroine. The tv shows Leverage and Burn Notice inspired Zoë Archer to create this series. I eagerly look forward to the next book. Hopefully, Simon will be the hero.

~Thalia

Buy It Now Sweet Revenge: A Nemesis Unlimited Novel