Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Under An English Heaven

Under An English Heaven by Robert Radcliffe is the best kind of novel; it sweeps you up and puts you right in the middle of the action. Set in World War II England, Radcliffe evokes a bygone time filled with scary missions in a B17 bomber, the Misbehavin' Martha. The characters are real; the missions are daring; the plot is entirely believable.
I admit that one reason I found this book so intriguing is that my own father was a tailgunner in a B17, the Wait For Me. He was stationed at Polebrook in 1943 and flew 30 missions before returning to the States. While I was too young and ignorant to ask him to tell me much of his experiences before he passed away, I do recall him laughingly telling us about taking a cab into London on a 3 day pass, hoping to see the "circus"--Piccadilly Circus, that is. For a farmboy from Iowa, he was experiencing things I can only dream about. This book helped me to see at least some of those experiences.
This book is gorgeously written, full of vibrant people who crawled into my heart immediately. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Do yourself a favor and track it down. It's worth it.
My amazon review can be found at

Friday, May 30, 2008

Desmond and Penny

What can I say? I'm a sucker for a good, romantic story (and British/Scottish accents).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ivy by Julie Hearn

I picked up this edition of Julie Hearn's Ivy for two reasons: 1) I'd read Hearn's The Minister's Daughter and really enjoyed it, and 2) the British cover (pictured left) is the exact reverse of the cover of Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith. There is a new cover for the US release of Ivy, due out June 17, 2008, which is equally stunning. I wish I could say the story is as good as the cover(s).
The Minister's Daughter is a wicked good tale, full of witchery, fairies, midwives, and a stern Puritan household. I expected more of the same from Ivy but the style of this book is just about as different as can be. I'm thinking Lemony Snicket; while it's probably more believable than TMD in the long run, it's definitely filled with over-the-top Cockney accented characters subsisting by their wits,which aren't exactly overflowing. Ivy is a sympathetic character, of course; introduced at age 5, we follow her as she "escapes" from school and is basically abducted by a thief with the intention of using her to entrap unsuspecting children from whom their clothes will be stolen. Ivy eventually ends up back with her "family" but she's become addicted to laudunum; however, as she grows, it's very evident that her beauty cannot be denied. Spied by Oscar Frosdick (how's that for a name?), he immediately identifies her as his muse for painting, his "stunner". The events that follow and Ivy's experiences as a model fill roughly the last 2/3 of the book.
I'll admit the story picked up nearly 3/4 of the way in, but til that point, I seriously considered wallbanging this one. It's just so...well, so unexpectedly goofy, so over-the-top (which is how I kept feeling as I read), so filled with unlikeable people and places that I wasn't enjoying it. Hearn's writing is nicely done, but the characterization in this novel is lacking so severely that I wasn't intrigued until Ivy is very nearly dead. I'm not sure why I pushed myself through this one, other than I really, really enjoyed The Minister's Daughter and kept waiting for this one to improve. And while it did, indeed, improve, it's nowhere near the caliber of TMD in tone, characterization, or even good ole storytelling. I ended up liking Ivy (both the book and the character) for the last 1/4 of the story, but that's a long, long way to go to decide a book's worth reading. Hopefully Hearn's next book will be more in the spirit of TMD.
Still love the covers, though. That's something.
No amazon review this time. It's still unavailable stateside so I'll have to wait to post my rather disappointing review.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Thanks to Sarah J., who shared her website with me a few weeks ago: Reusable Cover Art! It's funny to see how the same covers keep showing up. I first noticed this when I saw the covers for Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith and Ivy by Julie Hearn but apparently this is more than a passing fancy in the publishing industry. Check out the website at


Monday, May 26, 2008

Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris

I picked up Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris because I'm such a fan of her Southern Vampire Mysteries. And while this one had Harris's trademark engaging writing, it fell a little flat for me. The "mystery" was quite transparent, and honestly, in this day and age, not that big of a deal really (had the problem been stopped early on, however). I found the relationship between Harper Connelly and her stepbrother Tolliver a bit on the weird, too dependent side, and I would've liked more background on just why Harper clings so to him. The best I can say, though, is that there is a preview for the next book in the back and it was interesting enough to make me want to continue in the series. My amazon review can be found at


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed Review

The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed is an interesting little book. I was constantly evaluating who the audience would be as I read until it dawned on me that this would be the sort of book I would've liked when I was a child--sort of the Witch of Blackbird Pond type thing, where it takes you to another place and time and a girl could be a hero. It's well-written and the pages fly by; set aboard a whaling ship in the 1830s, we follow 13 year old Patience as she reluctantly joins her captain father on his 3 year voyage. I enjoyed it enough to order the second book, The Education of Patience Goodspeed, and if some of the language was a bit awkward, well, that can be overlooked in a novel as fun as this one. My amazon review is found at

Sunday, May 18, 2008

From Dead to Worse

Did I ever mention that I like vampire books?
Okay, seriously, I do have a thing for vampires and I love a well-written vampire novel. Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries fills the bill (ha, I just made myself laugh; if you've read the books, you'll understand) nicely. As I told Jeff when I first picked this one up, just days after the release date, there's simply nothing better than the next book in a beloved series where you feel like you are visiting with old friends, and this one is no exception. Except....
Except that this one has about ten different plots happening and the action rises and falls in aggravating spurts. Everyone checks in, which is good, but this is definitely a transition novel in the series. Don't get me wrong, I loved it, if for nothing more than another visit with Sookie and her abilities, supernatural friends, and the atmosphere. Harris also does a credible job of weaving Hurricane Katrina and that devastation into the storyline, and for that I give her props. I just wish this book had had more of a focus. Oh, well, still fun, still Sookie, still better than a bunch of stuff I've read lately. I can look forward to the next release with hopes that we'll be back in a mess and Sookie will be back in Eric's vampiric arms.
My amazon review is found at Apparently I'm not alone in my slight disappointment in this entry.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Non-Review Endorsement

I can't officially review Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian on this website yet, but I will say this much about it: Read it. It's a feast for your soul.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Caves of Perigord

The Caves of Perigord by Martin Walker unfortunately languished in Mt. TBR for somewhere close to 5 years before I decided to add it to my tbr_challenge list. I am so pleased that I finally got around to reading it; it's definitely worth the wait!
Set in three different time periods that are woven together expertly through one ancient artifact, Walker shows us history and its effects on us, sometimes consciously and sometimes not. We follow Phillip Manners as he shows up at a British museum to have a cave painting he's inherited scrutinized, not knowing that he's about to set off an international chain of events that will carry he and art historian Lydia Dean to France in search of the origins of the piece. We then switch chapters to see Deer, the ancient young man who paints his community's life on the walls of a cave as he pines for the daughter of a colleague. Finally, in the third installment of the story, we see how Manners's father came into possession of the piece while fighting with the French Resistance during World War 2. Walker ties all these threads together intricately and absorbingly. Excellent writing and a well-thought out story.
You can find my review of this novel written in alternating chapter viewpoints at