Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent

Received ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.
Release date: September 24, 2013

Book description:

It's the 19th century on the Gulf Coast, a time of opportunity and lawlessness. After escaping the Texas brothel where she'd been a virtual prisoner, Lucinda Carter heads for Middle Bayou to meet her lover, who has a plan to make them both rich, chasing rumors of a pirate's buried treasure. 

Meanwhile Nate Cannon, a young Texas policeman with a pure heart and a strong sense of justice, is on the hunt for a ruthless killer named McGill who has claimed the lives of men, women, and even children across the frontier. Who--if anyone--will survive when their paths finally cross? 

As Lucinda and Nate's stories converge, guns are drawn, debts are paid, and Kathleen Kent delivers an unforgettable portrait of a woman who will stop at nothing to make a new life for herself.


Another excellently written novel from Kathleen Kent. I think what I really enjoy about her books is her character development and complex relationships between her characters. This one is faster paced than The Heretic’s Daughter and is accurately described as a “thriller” but neither the character development or historical setting suffer for it. There are several twists and turns in the plot and I found it very difficult to put down. For a mere 336 page book, Kent packs a lot in without neglecting any element required for a great read.

I wasn't sure how well Kent would do with a later time period than she has written in before but she made the switch seamlessly, bringing the period to life just as well as she had in her previous novels.

My only complaint is that the very end seems a little too coincidental to be realistic. I suppose it also adds some meaning to the story though. I won’t say more than that for fear of spoilers.

I can’t wait for Kent’s next novel, she is definitely going on my favorite authors list.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: The Bones of Paris (Harris Stuyvesant #2) by Laurie R. King

ARC received from publisher via NetGalley.

Private detective and former FBI agent Harris Stuyvesant explores the darkest sides of the Surrealist movement in Paris as he searches for a woman he briefly met before she disappeared.

There is no denying that Laurie King is an excellent author or that this book is superbly written. However, I found the dark subject matter very disturbing, to the point where I was feeling depressed just by picking my Kindle up, knowing what was waiting for me. I like murder mysteries and I don’t mind if they are dark and violent as it can add realism (ironic, in a book about Surrealism) but this is particularly heavy and gritty. In a way, the fact that the book evoked such emotion in me is a testament to how well written it is but it just got a bit too much for me.

It was also a little too modern for my tastes, although I did appreciate the appearances of certain celebrities from this time period (Man Ray, Cole Porter, etc), I guess I prefer my historical novels to be set pre-WWI.

Lastly, I have to admit I did not realize that this was part of a series and not the first book. I hate reading series out of order and had I known that this book was a sequel, I honestly wouldn’t have requested an ARC. There is definitely a lot that made me feel out of the loop so I would not recommend it to someone who has not read the first book.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Review: Queens Consort: England's Medieval Queens from Eleanor of Aquitaine to Elizabeth of York by Lisa Hilton

Received free review copy from publisher via NetGalley.

At first glance this looked similar to Helen Castor’s “She Wolves”. But Castor focuses more on the misogyny of the times, the individual powerful women who took control of their own destinies in spite of it, and what that meant for their reputations, whereas ‘Queens Consort’ is more about the role of queenship, both domestic and political, how each consort defined those roles and how it evolved. Castor also talked about Mary I and the lead up to her ascent after her brother Edward VI died when, for the first time, all the contenders for the throne were female. Hilton does not discuss female regnants, only the role of queen consort. There is some overlap in the factual biographies but the thesis and assessment are approached differently and Hilton studies several more queen consorts than Castor.

And for this reason, I was glad to see Hilton actually covered each and every consort from Matilda of Flanders to Elizabeth of York (the subtitle of the book is a little misleading in this regard), whether they are well known or not; you can’t explore the role of queenship by picking and choosing certain queens. The conclusion sums everything up by analyzing how Beowulf and Thomas Malroy’s Le Morte d'Arthur portray, and thus how the different time periods they were written in perceived queenship.

It’s very well written and it feels comprehensive despite fitting so many historical figures into one book so I expect this will make an excellent reference book.

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