July 25th, 2016

smirk by geekilicious

Book 79 & 80

The Irish PrincessThe Irish Princess by Karen Harper

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I read a lot of historical mysteries, it's rare I read plain historical fiction. I read it even less when it's about real people. However, I received this as part of a gift I won from my local library so I felt like I should read it. It was pretty entertaining and if you like fictionalized British history, you'll probably really enjoy this.

It follows (first person point of view) the life of Elizabeth "Gera" Fitzgerald (and yes she is real and at least some of this really happened) from her teen years on. Gera and her siblings should have been the rulers of Ireland but of course Henry Tudor (Henry VIII) has something to say about that. And when her father ends up in the Tower of London and her elder brother, Thomas rebels, the whole family almost ends up dead. Gera and her younger sisters survive and her young brother, Gerald escapes to the continent).

Gera ends up being bartered to the English court and is taken to London by a young naval officer who is an up and comer in Henry's court, Edward Clinton. Gera learns that the only thing worse than being a penniless peasant in this time period is to be rich and in court where the king watches your every move and one wrong word gets you beheaded.

Gera plots murdering the king even as she observes his queen and her other royal cousins. Eventually she befriends the girl who will grow up to be Lady Jane Grey along with his bastardized daughters, Elizabeth and Mary (the former more so than the latter). As she grows up during this turbulent time, she takes the only protection she can as she works to getting the attainment removed from the family name: marriage to an older man even though she is sure she loves Clinton.

There is some weird pacing in this. It could have ended with Henry's death and the resolution with Clinton but she hammered in the bloody conflict between Elizabeth/Mary/Dudleys and it felt very rushed. In the author notes Harper did say to include all the details would have made this 1000 pages long and I believe that. Gera is an interesting person, someone I haven't heard much about (this is not really my favored piece of history). If you like Tudor history, you'll probably enjoy this.

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Time Trial #1 (The CHRONOS Files)Time Trial #1 by Rysa Walker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars Thanks to Netgalley for the complimentary copy I had to review but I'm not entirely sure it downloaded correctly on my device. Mine had no words at all and nowhere did it mention the story would be told by art only. The blurb at least held all the clues for me to enjoy it.

Nineteen year old Clio wants to follow in her time traveling parents' footsteps and steps out on her own. She ends up watching the trial of Al Capone as she works on her skills as an artist (drawing court room scenes) but someone is after her and Clio has to protect herself and the timeline.

The art was lovely and the idea is a lot of fun. Clio is an interesting character.

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Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

book 56:  Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary is the story of a woman who dreams of the life she reads about in romantic novels and cannot find satisfaction with her reality. This leads her into adulterous affairs and finally self destruction. My volume also contained a biographical sketch of the author, letters written by the author during the ten years he wrote Madame Bovary, and both contemporary and modern critical essays about the book. The novel evidently had an important role in moving from the romantic to the realist period in literature, but I am in no way a literature major and cannot explain this in detail. I know from reading the essays and letters that Flaubert was trying to create a novel that was not dependent on the story, that was basically the prose form of poetry, art created within writing, and he would spend days rewriting a couple of pages. I found the characters rather despicable, but the descriptions very beautiful. I think this is what moving from romantic to realist and with the effort on making perfect prose means, at least on a level I can understand it.  Would I recommend it?  Possibly. It is without a doubt beautifully written. It's not something "just for fun", though. The characters are not very likeable, and while the novel is beautifully written like a painting, it is tragic.