A latte-aholic seeking nirvana 20 oz. at a time. Books are also an addiction. I guess that makes me a hyperbibliophile.

Review: The Bat by Jo Nesbo

The BatThe Bat by Jo Nesbo (Harry Hole series, book 1)
Crime Fiction, 384 pages
ISBN: 9780345807090
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original

FTC Disclosure: Digital edition downloaded from library

 

It was a challenge on deciding how to rate this book. There were a few passages that seemed to go on and on, but when I thought about it, those passages were necessary to understand the main character a bit better. Also, I’m not sure that Nesbo really thought that this would turn into a series that is up to ten books and counting. A writer wants to flesh out all his good characters, especially the main one, so it’s understandable Nesbo made sure his readers understand a lot about Harry by the end of this first book.

There were also passages relating stories from the Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime. It helped that I’ve studied Australian Aboriginal storytelling and it’s history, so the forays Nesbo had his characters take in telling them to Harry didn’t bother me at all. They are there for a reason and I advise any reader to not skip over them if at all possible no matter how tempted.

This is the first book in the series, introducing Harry Hole in all his imperfect glory. It will capture your interest right away and strap it to rocket as it propels you through a crime mystery that won’t insult your intelligence along the way.

The translation is pretty well done, but not perfect, which is fine. None of the little glitches I came across detracted from the overall story at all. It’s one of the best translations I’ve read. I won’t make the obligatory comparison to a fellow countryman and crime fiction author Stieg Larsson other than to say I like Nesbo better. It’s a personal preference, so I highly recommend reading Nesbo (if you haven’t already) to decide for yourself.

As for me, I’m keeping both author’s books on my shelves. Not only are they a great first read, I’m sure they will be an awesome second and third.

PS…if you want to see what the series entails, check out this list at FictFact.

JC

 

 

Review: The Kingmaker’s Daughter

The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory
Historical Fiction, 464 pages
ISBN: 9781451626087
Touchstone; Reprint edition (April 9, 2013)

FTC Disclosure: Won from Goodreads First Read program

At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Married at age fourteen, she is soon left widowed and fatherless, her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy. Anne manages her own escape by marrying Richard, Duke of Gloucester, but her choice will set her on a collision course with the overwhelming power of the royal family. –  Book Jacket

What’s not to like about anything Philippa Gregory writes? Well except for her depiction of Anne Boleyn. Despite claims by the author, any historical fiction is just that: fiction. As good as it can be when interspersed with facts, it remains fiction and many authors, including Gregory make choices that fly in the face of what historians believe.

When it comes to history, even when related by a first person witness, the truth is what we make it until proven otherwise. I do believe Anne Boleyn has been misjudged. Gregory apparently chose to imply otherwise. When you think about it though, it makes sense because it makes good fiction.

It is because of this that I had to stop myself and wonder if I’m actually being objective enough, because the story is so good I find it easy to forgive when she alters an aspect of history that may be in dispute, but most believe to be accurate.

With page turners like The Kingmaker’s Daughter, it can be a challenge to see the forest for the trees. I am a devout historical fiction fan. I am also a history buff of sorts, and especially of English history up to the Victorian era.

Yes, there is some license taken here. However, the facts are inserted well and often.

This story is timely because of the discovery of Richard III’s body. Some things about him turned out to be true, but how much of the rest is really Tudor propaganda? There is usually more going on in history than what anyone can guess. This is what makes historical fiction shine when done right. It fills in the blanks creatively and believably – meshing fact and fiction that will have you reading late into the night.

I know some won’t forgive her for her characterizations of historical figures. But she isn’t writing history or trying to rewrite it. She is fictionalizing people and events and doing a wonderful job of “what if” he/she/it were this way instead of that.

And I don’t think you can get any more right than this. (Well, at least until her next book.)

JC

 

 

Review: His Majesty’s Hope

His Majesty’s Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal
Fiction/Spy Thriller, 354 pages
ISBN: 9780345536730
Paperback released: May 14, 2013
A Bantam Books Trade Paperback

FTC Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program

 

Intrepid spy and code breaker Maggie Hope infiltrates the highest level of Berlin society, gathering information to pass on to London headquarters. But the secrets she unveils will expose a darker, more dangerous side of the war – and of her own past.

For those of you who’ve read the other two books, you will love this third installment – at least from what I’ve seen across the blogosphere. Unfortunately, this was the first book I’ve read and I’m truly sorry that I haven’t read the other books. After reading this, I plan to.

His Majesty’s Hope can be read as a stand alone, but I don’t recommend it for those who hate spoilers. There are situations in the plot that assume you’ve been following Maggie from the beginning and it may ruin some of the surprises if you read them out of turn.

This is definitely a keeper. It’s a book I happily recommend. I’d hate to loan out, but I would if it means introducing this author to those who like a good historical fiction/mystery/spy-thriller with a likable female protagonist.

Some compare this series to Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs, but they’re different enough that I’d recommend both and advise against trying to find similarities. I’d just say that if you know someone who loves Maisie, they will soon feel the same about Maggie.

Oh, and this may be a bit shallow, but I LOVE the artwork on the covers. These are books I would seriously consider facing out on my shelves, or if I had a poster of them, they would definitely go up on the walls in my library.

For those who are historical fiction fans, this book is for you as well as those who like a good mystery – even though I felt this book was more of a spy thriller. There is some predictability, but it’s acceptable.

The author has done her research and doesn’t stray far from the historical record. In fact, it’s in this adherence where some readers may become uncomfortable. The horror of the holocaust, especially in the Nazi’s euthanasia program is reflected here but not so powerful as it could be. Just remember that this is a spy thriller not a dissertation on war crimes, so don’t ding the author for going as far (or not) as she did. Still, children are involved so reader beware.

Since there is a series involved, the book is finished nicely, but not completely. Of course there must be a set up for the next book, The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent which comes out sometime 2014. If you’d like to catch up, the first two are: Mr. Churchill’s Secretary and Princess Elizabeth’s Spy

This is an excellent series for those who like a good mystery that reads well and is a pleasant way to relax at home or away. These are also great books to take on a trip or to that summer cabin.

To learn more about the author and her work, you can visit her website at www.susaneliamacneal.com.

JC