Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hide Me Among the Graves

Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers
ARC provided by William Morrow
Description from Goodreads:
Winter, 1862. A malevolent spirit roams the cold and gloomy streets of Victorian London, the vampiric ghost of John Polidori, the onetime physician of the mad, bad and dangerous Romantic poet Lord Byron. Polidori is also the supernatural muse to his niece and nephew, poet Christina Rossetti and her artist brother Dante Gabriel.

But Polidori's taste for debauchery has grown excessive. He is determined to possess the life and soul of an innocent young girl, the daughter of a veterinarian and a reformed prostitute he once haunted. And he has resurrected Dante's dead wife, transforming her into a horrifying vampire. The Rossettis know the time has come – Polidori must be stopped. Joining forces with the girl's unlikely parents, they are plunged into a supernatural London underworld whose existence they never suspected.

These Wildly mismatched allies – a strait-laced animal doctor, and ex-prostitute, a poet, a painter, and even the Artful Dodger-like young daughter – must ultimately choose between the banality and constraints of human life and the unholy immortality that Polidori offers. Sweeping from high society to grimy slums, elegant West End salons to pre-Roman catacombs beneath St. Paul's cathedral, Hide Me Among The Graves blends the historical and the supernatural in a dazzling, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.

My take:
First of all, I cannot believe that I missed the book that came before this one! How did I miss a vampire book with Shelley and Byron?? I will be fixing this situation immediately. Hide Me Among the Graves takes place after The Stress of Her Regard which introduces Polidori and the original storyline involving the Romantic poets.

Hide Me Among the Graves takes up with Polidori's story once his ghost/vampire shows up in the Rossetti household. For a literature geek like me, this book made me giddy with excitement. Any book that makes me want to do research is going to get a rave review.  I am pretty familiar with the Romantic poets, less so with the Rossettis. But when Edward John Trelawny's name popped up and he became an important character, I had to stop and go back to my Shelley (both Percy and Mary) texts and make sure I was thinking of the right person.  I thought the way Powers blends actual history with his fiction plot works amazingly well.

I thought the storyline involving the Rossettis was very well done and interesting on its own, but the real excitement involved Crawford, the veterinarian, and Adelaide McKee, the former prostitute and of course, Trelawny.

The story is dark and convoluted and absolutely wonderful. I loved every minute of it. I didn't mind the time lapses at all. I absolutely loved the idea of Polidori being the vampire even though the vampire story he wrote over that infamous summer with Byron and Shelley seemed to use Byron as the model for his vampire. I also loved the link between the vampire as muse and the resulting improvement in writing or art. There is so much in this book that I would love to analyze, but that isn't really appropriate for this blog.

This is a dark, haunting story and went in directions I would never have thought of in a million years. It has ghosts that are unlike any I've encountered anywhere else and vampires that are strangely familiar yet still very different. There are some other creatures that I can't really explain and have to be discovered by the reader. While I wouldn't say this book is for everyone, I loved it and would recommend it for readers who love literature and vampires and especially love Shelley, Byron and the Rossettis.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Feature & Follow Friday

It is time for another lovely Feature and Follow Friday hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Be sure to follow Parajunkee, Alison Can Read and this week's feature blog, Read with ABC.

Our Feature – Reading With ABC!

rabc button Feature & Follow #88

My name is Liza and I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I have been living in the US for over 15 years, since the Love of My Life joined the military. We have three wonderful boys:
A – is a teenager
B – is going to start middle school next school year
C – is going to first grade soon

Yes, my children’s names actually start with one of the first letter of the alphabet, and I will refer to them by A, B and C in my blog.
created my blog in May of 2011 to have a place to share one of biggest passions in life (besides my family and my work) READING. I have always loved reading. Yes, I was the kind of girl that read all the time, the kind to teenager that read all summer, and the kind of adult that still finds time to read and talk about it.

Lately I have re-discovered Young Adult literature and I have been reading mostly YA and following YA blogs for over a year. Since my husband went to Iraq about two years ago I found refuge in reading and I fell in love again with YA.

Q: What is the best book you’ve read in the last month? What is the worst book you’ve read in the last month?

Oh! That's a tough one!  I read some pretty good books in the last month, so to call one of the "worst" seems a bit harsh. Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear and Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers were both very good.  I think the worst would b3\e The Sacred Bones by Michael Byrnes. It was just okay. I haven't finished my review of Hide Me Among the Graves yet, but it should be up this weekend, I hope.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Messenger of Truth

Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear
Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours via Picador
Description from Goodreads:
London, 1931. On the night before the opening of his new and much-anticipated exhibition at a famed Mayfair gallery, Nicholas Bassington-Hope falls to his death. The police declare the fall an accident, but the dead man's twin sister, Georgina, isn't convinced. When the authorities refuse to conduct further investigations and close the case, Georgina - a journalist and infamous figure in her own right - takes matters into her own hands, seeking out a fellow graduate from Girton College: Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator.
The case soon takes Maisie to the desolate beaches of Dungeness in Kent, as well as the sinister underbelly of the city's art world. And while navigating her way into the heart of the aristocratic yet bohemian Bassington-Hopes, Maisie is deeply troubled by the tragedy of another, quite different family in need.

In Messenger of Truth, Maisie Dobbs again uncovers the dark legacy of the Great War in a society struggling to recollect itself in difficult times. But to solve the mystery of the artist's death, she will have to remain steady as the forces behind his death come out of the shadows to silence her.

Following on the bestselling Pardonable Lies, Jacqueline Winspear delivers another vivid, thrilling, and utterly unique episode in the life of Maisie Dobbs.

My take:

March is Maisie Month and I am reviewing Messenger of Truth, the fourth Maisie Dobbs book. I had read the first Maisie book and absolutely loved it, so I was eager for the opportunity to read and review another Maisie book.

Messenger of Truth takes place in 1931 in London and Dungeness in Kent. When a controversial young artist, Nicholas Bassington-Hope, falls to his death, his twin sister, Georgina doesn't believe the official police finding of accidental death. She hires Maisie to look into his death and find out what really happened. It sounds simple enough. Things get much more complicated as Maisie begins her investigation. The plot slowly unfolds with the numerous characters divulging their stories and eventually their secrets. As usual, Maisie uses her own special methods most of which she learned while apprenticing with her mentor, Dr. Maurice Blanche. Maisie has recently broken away from Blanche due to a rift and an emotional episode she experienced in an earlier book.  Maisie continues to try to be strong and independent while creating a challenging, interesting career for herself.

As I read the book, I was struck by how appropriate the title of the book was. The artist, Nick, uses his art to tell the truth as he sees it. His art has become controversial because he uses real people’s faces in his pieces and refuses to water down what he sees to be true. Maisie also is a messenger of truth in her work, by finding out the truth in her cases. Georgina, Nick's sister is a journalist who also seeks to tell the truth she saw during war time.

The plot of the book kept me interested, but the way the story unfolds piece by piece, with Maisie methodically uncovering stories, secrets, hopes, fears, really held my attention. I don't want to give too many plot points away, but the story worked for me. I wasn't completely surprised by the conclusion, but it was satisfying. 
 As with the first Maisie Dobbs book, I really loved how Maisie always holds herself to a high standard and holds herself accountable to herself. She examines her own emotions, the causes of them and faces them even if she might be more comfortable not facing them at all.
There are many recurring themes in the Maisie Dobbs books.  In Messenger of Truth, the contrast between the classes is handled quite well. Billy Beale, Maisie's assistant provides a strong counterpoint to the wealthy Bassington-Hopes. Billy is struggling to feed his own family as well as his wife's sister's family because of lack of work. Billy’s young daughter is gravely ill and he can barely put food on the table.  The strong contrast between his situation and the wealthy, eccentric, artistic Bassington-Hope family who can spend their time painting and writing while he can’t afford to treat his daughter’s illness is quite poignant. To bring it even more to the forefront, the wealthy American who can pay a fortune for a painting when Billy can't put meat on the table helps to bring out the reality and gravity of the situation of the lower economic class.

Another theme is, naturally, the after effects of war - on Billy, on Maisie herself, on the artist Nick, on his sister Georgina - on the entire country. This theme is dealt with in each of the books and is always done well and with sympathy and understanding.   Finally, Nick forces everyone to face some very stark and ugly truths about war and how it affected his own family.
I found this book to be very enjoyable and I would highly recommend the Maisie Dobbs books to everyone.  I am quite anxious to read the rest of the books in the series.

About Jacqueline Winspear

Jacqueline Winspear was born and raised in the county of Kent, England. Following higher education at the University of London’s Institute of Education, Jacqueline worked in academic publishing, in higher education, and in marketing communications in the UK.
She emigrated to the United States in 1990, and while working in business and as a personal / professional coach, Jacqueline embarked upon a life-long dream to be a writer.
A regular contributor to journals covering international education, Jacqueline has published articles in women’s magazines and has also recorded her essays for KQED radio in San Francisco. She lives in California and is a regular visitor to the United Kingdom and Europe.
Jacqueline’s novels thus far—Maisie Dobbs, Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies, Messenger of Truth, An Incomplete Revenge, and Among the Mad, The Mapping of Love and Death, and A Lesson in Secrets are set in the late 1920s and early 1930s, with the roots of each story set in the Great War, 1914–1918. Her work has been nominated for numerous awards.
Find out more about Jacqueline at her website, www.jacquelinewinspear.com, and find her on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March is Maisie Month!

To celebrate the release of Jacqueline Winspear’s Elegy for Eddie, there is a blog tour for the whole Maisie Dobbs series. My review for Messenger of Truth will post tomorrow morning. I am so excited to be participating in the March is Maisie Month blog tour. You can find all the information a TLC Book Tours.

Jacqueline’s Tour Stops

March 5th – 9th – The first six books in the Maisie Dobbs series
Monday, March 5th: Melody & Words (Maisie Dobbs)
Monday, March 5th: The Crazy Life of a Bookaholic Mom (Maisie Dobbs)
Monday, March 5th: Wordsmithonia (Maisie Dobbs)
Tuesday, March 6th: she reads and reads (Birds of a Feather)
Tuesday, March 6th: The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader (Birds of a Feather)
Tuesday, March 6th: A Few More Pages (Birds of a Feather)
Wednesday, March 7th: Books, Bells, & Beaux (Maisie Dobbs)
Wednesday, March 7th: The Book Garden (Pardonable Lies)
Wednesday, March 7th: Life In Review (Pardonable Lies)
Thursday, March 8th: A Book Geek (Messenger of Truth)
Thursday, March 8th: Reflections of a Bookaholic (Messenger of Truth)
Thursday, March 8th: Wordsmithonia (Birds of a Feather)
Friday, March 9th: The Road to Here (An Incomplete Revenge)
Friday, March 9th: sidewalk shoes (An Incomplete Revenge)
Friday, March 9th: The Lost Entwife (Among the Mad)
Friday, March 9th: A Bookish Way of Life (Among the Mad)
March 12th – 16th – The Mapping of Love and Death
Monday, March 12th: Lit and Life
Tuesday, March 13th: A Worn Path
Wednesday, March 14th: Starting Fresh
Thursday, March 15th: Broken Teepee
Friday, March 16th: Unabridged Chick
March 19th – 23rd – A Lesson in Secrets
Monday, March 19th: M. Denise C.
Tuesday, March 20th: Wordsmithonia
Wednesday, March 21st: Diary of an Eccentric
Thursday, March 22nd: Savvy Verse & Wit
Friday, March 23rd: The Book Garden
March 26th – 30th – Elegy for Eddie
Monday, March 26th: Whimpulsive
Tuesday, March 27th: bookchickdi
Wednesday, March 28th: Devourer of Books
Wednesday, March 28th: cakes, tea and dreams
Thursday, March 29th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog
Friday, March 30th: Wordsmithonia

In addition to the blog tour, the following Twitter chats have been scheduled. Discussions will be about Maisie, mysteries, and more. Follow the #Maisie hashtag on Twitter to participate:

Thursday, March 8, 1 PM EST
Author of the Book Lust series and NPR Commentator

Friday, March 16, 3 PM EST
VP and Executive Editor, Harper Books
Friday, March 23, 3 PM EST
Founder and President of Book Passage
Friday, March 30, 3 PM EST

New York Times bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs series
The discussion of Maisie Dobbs on Twitter will run all month long and beyond, so be sure to follow the #Maisie hashtag so you can participate.

A Man of Honor Blog Tour and Review

  A Man of Honor, or Horatio's Confessions by J.A. Nelson Publication Date: December 9, 2019 Quill Point Press Paperback, eBook & ...