In the Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant – Book Review

In the Name of the Father

This is the second novel on the infamous Borgia family, and it’s just as riveting as the first one, Blood and Beauty.  This novel focuses on the blood-bath that Cesare Borgia unleashed in his attempt to carve a Borgia state out of Italy while his father, Pope Alexander VI financed his ambitions.  Everything Pope Alexander VI did was in order to create a dynasty that would outlast his own death.

The novel also focuses on the Pope’s daughter Lucrezia’s third marriage to the Duke of Ferrara, another political move by the Pope to continue his legacy.  In this novel, we are introduced to that political observer, Machiavelli.  I love historical fiction, and this novel is historical fiction at its best.

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Dunant also questions the historical implications that various diseases, mostly syphilis, may have had on history.  This is actually an intriguing question, and one that probably doesn’t have an answer.  However, she makes a valid point since this is one disease that knew no economic barriers.  While I don’t want to give anything else away, I’ll end here.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Dunant!

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Sarah Dunant

 

The Stolen Child by Lisa Carey

The Stolen Child

This novel is fabulous on so many levels.  For one thing, it takes place on a remote, sparsely inhabited island off the coast of Ireland.  Historically, this was the island that St. Brigid chose to live with her nuns.  However, the people who live here also believe in, and fear the fairies that rule over the island.  I loved the fairy lore that this novel includes, but also the remoteness of the island lends an atmosphere reminiscent of the Gothic novel.

The story follows Emer and her son Niall after they welcome an American woman named Brigid who has decided to move into a cottage that she inherited from an unknown uncle.  Brigid has her own secrets that Emer hopes to uncover.

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The characters are strange, as is to be expected as they live with no electricity, running water or telephones.  The smallness of their world is in extreme juxtaposition to the incredible natural surroundings around them.  However, there are more than a few mysteries and hidden realities to go along with the fairy stories.

I really don’t want to say too much, as I want you to read this book for yourselves.  Suffice to say that it’s well written with interesting and diverse characters.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Carey!

Lisa Carey

Lisa Carey

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll – Book Review

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First of all, this novel wasn’t what I initially thought it would be, and secondly, Ani, the main character wasn’t exceptionally likeable.  However, I really enjoyed this story, and the more I got to know Ani, the more I was convinced that she was exceptionally brave.

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I have to say that this novel really surprised me.  I listened to this novel on CD, and may have missed some clues, but I seriously doubt it.  So, I was half-way through the novel before I realized that Ani, the main character had two horribly damaging situations in her background.  I don’t want to give anything away, since the thrill of the book is in when and how you find things out.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Knoll!

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Jessica Knoll

 

Angels of Music by Kim Newman – Book Review

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There is a mysterious and shadowy secret agency known as the Opera Ghost Agency, run by Erik, Phantom of the Opera, located deep under the Paris Opera House.  Over many years, the ageless Erik along with a revolving trio of intriguing young women from their own mysterious pasts solve cases of both the weird, strange and always dangerous.

I really enjoyed both the writing, and the plots of the various cases the Angels came across.  The descriptions of Paris were excellent and I felt myself walking those Parisian streets along with Christine, Irene, Trilby as well as those Angels that follow them into the Agency.

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I won’t go into any details other than to say that the cases the Opera Ghost Agency take on are anything but “normal”.  The talents of each Angel is completely different as well, adding to the overall atmosphere and story.  However, I will say that I highly recommend this novel, I do hope that a second one will follow soon.  Well done, Newman!

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Kim Newman

 

The Alphabet Series by Sue Grafton – Book Review

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I’d like to give a little history before I start my review.  In the 1990’s I moved into the house I’m currently living in.  The first people to welcome me to the neighborhood lived in a blue ranch across the street.  George and Millie became a large part of my life, since I was a stay-at-home Mom, and they were retired.  Millie and I called each other quite often, and the kids and I went across the street to visit frequently.  My son frequently went to the lake with Millie and her granddaughter Katherine, who was a few years older than he was.  Millie was also a reader, and she was the one who told me all about Sue Grafton.  At the time, I was reading historical fiction about England and Ireland, and just wasn’t interested in the Grafton series.  Millie passed away a few years ago, and one the of the last things she told me was that I simply had to read Grafton’s books because she would never get to finish them, and she knew that her daughters wouldn’t read them.

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So, in fulfillment of my promise to Millie, I’ve begun reading The Alphabet Series, and I must say that I’m really glad I started.  I enjoy the character of Kinsey Millhone.  She’s feisty, smart and funny.  So far, I’ve read the series up to the letter “f” as in, F is for Fugitive.  I won’t go into much detail, except to say that the novels are well written, exciting and the characters pretty well-developed.  I am glad that I waited all this time to read them, as Grafton is now up to the letter “x”, and I hope that she’ll publish “z” before I finish all the other letters.  (Unlike a well-known author named George R.R. Martin of whose books I’ll have to completely re-read before the end! – oh horrors!)  I highly recommend this series.  Well done, Grafton!

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Sue Grafton