Sunday, March 3, 2024

Stacking the Shelves #27

 


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Reading Reality. It's a place to showcase any books I have purchased, borrowed, or been lucky enough to have been given an advance copy of. Hope you find something that looks interesting to you or that makes you remember a favorite book you need to finish. Enjoy your reading this week :) 






I am always interested in books set in exotic places in past historical times. This new author, Nilima Rao is of Fijian Indian descent and grew up in Australia. This mystery story, set in Colonial Fiji in 1914 follows policeman Akal Singh who is assigned the case of a missing Indian woman from a sugarcane plantation. It looks unique and I'm sure with the author's background he will be able to add interesting cultural and historical insights. 




It is hard to find books set around the time of Richard II and Henry IV. This historical mystery, set in 1399, follows Brother Chandler, who is asked to investigate the killing of a nun in London, whose remains were tossed into the river. As he looks into the murder, Henry Bolingbroke is advancing toward the city, set on taking the throne from his cousin, Richard. This sounds a bit like a Cadfael mystery set in a different era. Hoping it is good as it is book one of a three part series. 




This is one of my Amazon Prime reading choices for March. It tells the story of Athelstan's reign in AD 925. I don't find many books from this period. I'm not sure if I'll get to it in March but I'm going to try since it is free to read during that month. Book one of a three part series, a reviewer called it "Game of Thrones meets The Last Kingdom."  If there are too many battle scenes this might not be my cup of tea, but maybe someone else will see this and like it. 





















Saturday, March 2, 2024

Noteworthy News #3: History Hit: Tutankhamen and the Valley of the Kings

 

I didn't have a review this week as I'm currently reading two books, one of which is an 800 page Penman epic and I'm nowhere near finished with my shorter book either. So I wanted to shift gears from reviewing and post some noteworthy news. In thinking about something interesting I've run across lately, I wanted to give a mention to the series on the podcast, History Hit, about the Valley of the Kings and the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb. I have listened to the first episode and it is an award winning series with four episodes total. As work has been crazy in February I have been doing more listening and less reading. But that's okay because this series is so good! 

Dan Snow narrates and visits on the 100th anniversary (I'm a bit behind as this series debuted last year in 2022) and the podcast replayed it this past November. He takes you on a journey down the Nile in Luxor to the burial chambers of the pharaohs and tells the history of the Valley of the Kings. He covers the story of the archaeologists involved and gives the history behind how they made their discoveries.

The next four episodes will delve more into the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, his life, and legacy. I plan to finish these in March and look forward to more from this amazing podcast. It has so much original content you just can't find anywhere else. Perfect for history lovers everywhere!









Saturday, February 24, 2024

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (Book One Tommy and Tuppence Mysteries) Read Christie February 2024 Selection

 

Publication Date: 
January 1922

Length:
320 pages

Summary:
This is the second Tommy and Tuppence book I've read and they are becoming favorites of mine. It is also the second book published by Christie. Tommy and Tuppence are not in many of her books, only five total but they are a great addition to her detective characters.

When the story begins, it is 1920 and the Great War has just ended. Childhood friends, Tommy Beresford and Prudence "Tuppence" Cowley are reunited in London and share their personal stories of their latest adventures. Tommy, a former soldier and Tuppence, a war volunteer, commiserate together about their need for jobs and money. While they both would love to be independently wealthy, they realize that probably isn't going to happen anytime soon. As they talk further they decide to pool their intellect and talents and form a company, "The Young Adventurers, Ltd," aimed at solving any problem thrown their way, and soon have a client, Mr. Whittington. Before Tuppence can ascertain much information from him, she shocks him by giving him a false name she innocently pulls out of her memory, a "Jane Finn." This name completely surprises Whittington and he responds by angrily giving her money to keep quiet. Tuppence is shocked, not understanding why he is so upset over the seemingly made up name.

A friend of Tommy's from the intelligence community, Carter, tells Tommy the story of the real Jane Finn, who has disappeared after trying to deliver a secret letter to the American embassy in London, and that the letter was given to her on the fated ship, the Lusitania. Tommy and Tuppence decide to search for Jane, along with her American cousin, the very wealthy, Julius Hersheimmer. Carter warns them that they are likely to come up against a mysterious man, "Mr. Brown," who is the likely kidnapper of Jane and an evil man. No one knows his true identity and he tells them to be careful. 

Their sleuthing soon becomes dangerous, leading them to shadowy Russian politicians, secret back rooms, mansions with highly placed nobility, and kidnapping. Each of their lives are in danger, along with a tense sense of time running out to find the real Jane Finn alive. Throughout the case, their personal feelings grow for one another, making the resolution to the mystery even more high stakes.

My Thoughts: 
This story was a lot of fun and the identity of "Mr. Brown" was kept secret very well right up until the end. In fact, I was originally convinced I was right and then at the last moment I was proven incorrect! Switching back and forth between Tommy and Tuppence's experiences, as well as adding many colorful characters made it necessary to really pay attention and held my interest throughout. The plot was complicated and well drawn. I thought it was much better than many of her other stories I've read for this reason. 

My only real problem with the story was the part where Tuppence calls herself "Jane Finn." Although this is explained away as the plot unfolds, it was a bit of a stretch to me that it all happened the way it did. Without this element the story would not have worked, but still it did kind of bother me as far fetched. But it is fiction, so I went with it!

Even with the dark behavior of many of the villains, the story manages to retain a light heartedness that isn't there in some of her books.  It often felt much more like a cozy mystery. Tommy and Tuppence both come across as relatable, likeable young people who are clever, resourceful, and brave. It's too bad Christie didn't write more stories with them as the main detectives. I will be reading more of their books in the future.


Sunday, February 18, 2024

The Leper of Saint Giles by Ellis Peters (Cadfael Chronicles Book 5)

 

Publication Date: 
January 1, 1996

Length:
217 pages

Summary:
Brother Cadfael, resident herbalist of Shrewsbury Abbey is helping to prepare for an upcoming wedding to be held there. Nobleman Baron Huon de Domville and Lady Iveta de Massard are hardly a young couple in love though. The groom is many decades older and is unattractive and harsh. The bride, innocent and used for an advantageous match between families, is desperate and dreading her future life. In love with another, Joscelin Lucy, a squire of Domville's, she hopes something will save her from her fate. 

As the time draws near, it seems her wish is granted when Domville is found strangled in the woods, apparently headed to an unknown destination, suspiciously alone and not in the company of any of his servants. Lucy, who was previously accused of theft by his employer when Domville suspected a romantic entanglement with Iveta, is accused of murdering Domville to save himself and goes on the run to avoid the gallows. 

Aided by his friends Simon and Guy, he is able to remain free for a time and is taken in by the Saint Giles leper colony, disguised in a location that no one, not even the Sheriff's men want to go. Biding his time while trying to figure out what to do, Lucy becomes attached to a mysterious leper and a young boy, Bran, who give him hope and compassion. 

Meanwhile, Brother Cadfael is on the case and investigating the mysterious death of Domville, not  willing to believe Lucy is guilty. His sleuthing leads him to mysterious plants, a previously unknown hunting lodge, and another woman in the mix. He has precious little time to figure out how these things all tie together if he is to save Lucy. 


My Thoughts: 

The story was well written as always in Peters's eloquent style, with lots of description and at least a few vocabulary words I had to look up. That makes her stories top notch as cozy mysteries go and Cadfael is always entertaining. There wasn't a whole lot of twists and turns until the last two chapters but they more than made up for the slower pace. Iveta's evil Aunt and Uncle are convincing villains, using her for their gain and Domville is given a back story that I didn't see coming. 

I had wanted to read this particular Cadfael mystery for awhile simply because the title intrigued me. I am reading the stories in order but really wanted to get to this one. While I enjoyed the mystery and ending a lot, I was a bit disappointed that Peters didn't include a little more history and insight into the actual disease of leprosy and the colony in the story. I realize the focus is on the crime and solving it but I thought she could have included more about the time and treatment of the disease then. 

I will continue with these mysteries as they are set in a time period I love, The Anarchy between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda. Shrewsbury is a great setting for the story and Cadfael is a solid character, always getting his man (or woman) in the end.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Stacking the Shelves #26

 


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Reading Reality. It's a place to showcase any books I have purchased, borrowed, or been lucky enough to have been given an advance copy of. Hope you find something that looks interesting to you or that makes you remember a favorite book you need to finish. Enjoy your reading this week :)






I am very interested in reading this book as it is hard to find a history of France and England during these years. The author, Catherine Hanley was on the Gone Medieval podcast promoting it and she is very knowledgeable about the subject. She has written several history books I would like to read. 




I had not heard of this series before but it takes place in Scotland in the 1540's and involves castles, sieges, Mary Queen of Scots, and Henry the VIII. What's not to love about that? Also, it's free with my Kindle Unlimited free trial. That ends in March so I need to get going with this one. 





I was drawn to this book because of the description, "Boris Akunin is hailed as Russia's Christie and Conan Doyle." It looks unique and interesting and is set during the time of Tsar Nicholas II. I love that time period and having a mystery featuring one of the Grand Dukes along with an international criminal plot sounds like a fun read. 





















Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The Wintringham Mystery (Cicely Disappears) by Anthony Berkeley

Publication Date: 
1927

Length:
260 pages

This story was originally published as a serial in the The Daily Mirror, in 1926. It was then called The Wintringham Mystery but later renamed Cicely Disappears, when published in book form. Personally I prefer the original title much better. Famously, Agatha Christie entered and won a contest through the paper which asked for ideas about how to solve the book's mystery. (Actually, her husband entered the contest, but it was Agatha who was behind the actual idea.) She could not solve it and this fun fact made me want to read the book even more. I had not heard of this author before but he is just one of many writing during the wonderful Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Recently reissued it is considered a classic. 

Summary:

Stephen Munro is a former army officer who is forced to take a job as a footman to support himself. Completely unsuited to the job and having to humble himself to learn his duties he is nonetheless determined to do his best. He takes up his employment at the country manor house of Lady Susan Carey and to top off his ineptness for the job, is subjected to the embarrassment of some former friends arriving for a weekend stay and recognizing him in his new role. The ultimate humiliation is when his love interest, Pauline Mainwaring appears with her new fiance and Stephen is forced to confront his feelings towards her all while trying to remain an aloof, neutral footman. 

As the weekend unfolds, a seance is suggested, just for fun, by one of the guests. When Lady Carey's niece, Cecily disappears after the lights go out, everyone feels it must be a prank she is pulling on them for fun. But with time it begins to feel suspicious when she doesn't reappear. Stephen, Pauline, and some of the other guests begin to work together to find Cecily and discover an intricate, sinister plot hiding within the cozy Wintringham manor. 



My Thoughts: 

I really enjoyed this book. The character of Stephen was endearing and I enjoyed the chemistry between him and Pauline. It was written in a simplistic style which reminded me a bit of the old Nancy Drew stories I grew up with. One of the things I always enjoy about older novels is the strong vocabulary. This book had this sprinkled into the story and gave it that classic feel without being too difficult to read quickly. 

The mystery was pretty detailed and I certainly didn't figure things out. I thought it was cleverly done and kept you guessing right up to the last chapter. It would definitely fit into the "cozy" genre in that there was nothing too gruesome of shocking. A good read and by an author that was new to me which is always a good thing. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Death On Board by Anita Davison (The Flora Maguire Mysteries Book One)

 

Publication Date: 
October 27, 2023

Length:
320 pages

When I looked up information about this book and its author I was interested in the fact that the ship the main character sails on was a real ship at that time on its maiden voyage. The S.S. Minneapolis set sail from New York to London in 1900 and was considered to be a grand ship of its time. 

Summary:

Flora Maguire is not from high society. A lowly governess taking a ticket on a fancy ship originally meant for a wealthier passenger, she is excited to experience all the good life has to offer, all while keeping up with her 15 year old exuberant charge, Eddy. Sailing with them are a host of upper class passengers all of whom have their own quirky personalities. When one of the guests, a Mr. Parnell is found dead seemingly from a fall, Flora is not so sure. Clues around the scene lead her to believe there is more going on and with the help of a dashing young man, Bunny Harrington, she sets out to get to the bottom of things. The two of them spend time sleuthing the ship together and leading undercover observations and interrogations of the guests they know at dinner and elsewhere to see if they can flush out the truth. 

Befriending an American actress Eloise, who was friendly with Parnell, Flora is intrigued by how she and her mysterious past fit in with the goings on. Eloise acts suspiciously and nervously, leading Flora to suspect her in Parnell's death. But when Eloise herself is found stabbed to death, it is obvious that someone else has targeted specific people on the ship and that more deaths could be coming. Flora and Bunny must work quietly to find out the truth while making sure no harm comes to Eddy and the guests they believe to be innocent. 


My Thoughts: 

This was a cute story and the first in the series. While it wasn't terribly "historic" driven, the author did try to add some touches from the time that made it feel authentic. I enjoyed the dialogue between Flora and Bunny and they have chemistry between them. Eddy and Ozzy, the boy he befriends, get into typical teenage boy mischief and are endearing. There is a long character list to keep track of and because of this one is definitely thrown off track as to the backstories and who the real killer might be. There is a lot to unravel and several stories within stories so I thought it was multi layered enough to keep one alert and guessing. 

While I didn't dislike the book, I can't say if I'll read another in the series. It just didn't have enough of the cleverness and uniqueness of some of the other cozy mystery series I've grown fond of. I had hoped for a bit more feel of the time period but that waned quickly once they boarded the ship and set sail. Some of the language of the time was realistic and Flora and Bunny do have a relationship that would be typical of the time, but for the most part, the story could have been easily dropped into any modern cozy mystery series. 

Still, if you are looking for a clean, fun, murder mystery plot with cute characters and a twisty ending, it's a good read. 

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Stacking the Shelves #25




Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Reading Reality. It's a place to showcase any books I have purchased, borrowed, or been lucky enough to have been given an advance copy of. Hope you find something that looks interesting to you or that makes you remember a favorite book you need to finish. Enjoy your reading this week :)






I recently watched Little Dorit the miniseries and absolutely loved it. So when I saw this book was set in Marshalsea Prison I was immediately interested. It looks gritty but I want to give it a try. This author is new to me too and this is book one of her Thomas Hawkins series. It reminds me a bit of Anne Perry's Monk series in that it is more of a realistic, historical setting than that of a cozy mystery. I enjoy the 18th century as well and this book is set in the early 1700's. A man shares a cell with a possible murderer and must try to expose him before he himself is killed. 







This is a book I added to my Classics Club page in case I decide to continue with the challenge. I recently posted that I'd be dropping the whole thing for now but who knows? This book looked different and I'd not read anything by this author either. It was on sale for 99 cents this week on Kindle. It sounds a bit like a Jane Austen book if her books were historical mysteries.





Well it looks like I'm just in a mystery mood this week, lol. This is book three in Alyssa Maxwell's Gilded Age series. I've read and reviewed books one and two and honestly had forgotten them for awhile. Book One has been made into a movie which will air this Friday on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. Although they aren't my favorite cozy mysteries, they do evoke the era well and have grown on me. Murder at the Breakers  will be fun to watch come to life on screen. 



















 









Friday, January 26, 2024

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Book One: Hercule Poirot Mysteries) Read Christie January 2024 Selection

 

Publication Date: 
October 1920

Length:
296 pages

I was excited that this was chosen for the Read Christie January selection. I read it years ago but remembered none of the storyline and since it is book one in the Poirot series I was happy to read it again and review it. 

Summary:

 On leave from the Great War, Arthur Hastings is invited to stay at Styles Court in Essex by his friend, John Cavendish. Just as he is settling in for a comfortable time, John's stepmother, Emily Inglethorp, is shockingly found dead one morning, apparently poisoned with strychnine. Hastings quickly enlists the help of his friend and detective, Hercule Poirot, to find out the what and why behind her death. 

The other guests involved include Alfred Inglethorp, Emily's husband who is many years younger than her, her stepsons John and Lawrence Cavendish (sons of Emily's first husband), Cynthia Murdoch, a family friend, and Evelyn Howard, Emily's friend and companion. Although Emily sometimes changes her will, at the moment it is believed that John will inherit the manor property per his father's will, and that Alfred will inherit Emily's money upon her death. 

Due to an overheard argument the night prior to her death, the occupants of the house are distressed as to what it was about and who she was arguing with. Likely Alfred or John, no one knows for sure and they also cannot find the new will Emily is believed to have written shortly before her death. Alfred left overnight to go to the village and Emily retired alone, taking her document case upstairs with her. When her body is found, the case is also found, broken open and with no documents inside. 

We are introduced to Scotland Yard Inspector Japp, who believes either Alfred or John to be the murderer, Alfred being the inheritor of the money and acting suspiciously, found lying about certain details, and John having no alibi and being in possession of items pertaining to the poison and a disguise, possibly used to buy the strychnine. Poirot, in his painstaking fashion for details, is left to piece each clue together, changing his mind at times as to who is responsible, as each new idea comes to light. 

My Thoughts: 

Going in to this Christie book I knew I would like it no matter what because it was her first. There is something special about it already because of that alone. I have grown fond of Poirot, Hastings, and Japp over the last year and a half of reading (and watching!) Christie books and shows so to see them introduced was fun. I had also read about how her genius with the poisoning storyline was well known and wanted to know how it was done. It was indeed quite an interesting twist that I would not have known about in any way ahead of time. I actually did guess correctly about one of the suspects, and that part was not as surprising, although I sense that Christie used some paths throughout the story to try to throw us off track, only to return to some initial suspicions in the end. 

I love the narration of Hastings, as I find him to be a sweet, innocent character and as Poirot is much more arrogant and harsh in his tone, the inner thoughts of Hastings work better I think for these stories. This book did not have the feel for me of getting to know the minor characters as much, but did include some marital issues between a couple of the guests that worked well for a side story, resolved at the end in a solid way. It wasn't my favorite of Christie's books by any stretch, but it is one you have to read because after all, it is the first. I am greatly looking forward to February's read featuring Tommy and Tuppence, as I've only read one book with those characters. 


Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Abandoned Queen by Austin Hernon (Berengaria of Navarre Medieval Trilogy Book Two)

 


For this week's Can't Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, I'm featuring The Abandoned Queen by Austin Hernon. I purchased book one and intend to read it this year. Books two and three are out in 2024 and this is the second in the trilogy. At first I saw it as a romance type book but then I read the sample of book one and it was actually a pretty good start as a historical fiction book. The author is an older gentleman who has written another series about William the Conqueror's son, Richard. 

I hope you have found something you can't wait for on this Wednesday!


February 2, 2024

Historical Fiction


Description courtesy of Amazon books

Berengaria follows her king into the deadly heart of the Crusade

1191

Having married 
Richard the LionheartBerengaria of Navarre is now preparing herself for the turbulent life of a queen.

Though he has not yet secured an heir, Richard is determined not to settle down until he has recaptured Jerusalem from the Saracen forces. Vowing to stay by his side for as long as possible, Berengaria accompanies him on the perilous voyage to the Holy Land.

Caught up in battle plans, Richard has barely a moment to spare for his new bride. And after witnessing a sea battle and a deadly siege in Akko, Berengaria is left disturbed by the king’s ruthlessness.

Surrounded by misery and bloodshed, the young queen begins to understand the true cost of war. And as Richard becomes ever more consumed by his ambitions, she starts to wonder whether their marriage will ever have a chance to flourish…

Will Richard survive his brutal Crusade? Will he and Berengaria return to England in triumph?

Or will the horrors of war tear their marriage apart?

The Abandoned Queen is the second historical novel in The Berengaria of Navarre Medieval Trilogy: Early Plantagenet novels set during the Third Crusade and the reign of Richard the Lionheart.



Sunday, January 21, 2024

Stacking the Shelves #24

 


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Reading Reality. It's a place to showcase any books I have purchased, borrowed, or been lucky enough to have been given an advance copy of. Hope you find something that looks interesting to you or that makes you remember a favorite book you need to finish. Enjoy your reading this week :)







Another cozy mystery on sale for 99 cents this week that I couldn't pass up. This is the first in the series which I like to start with if possible and looks like an original location. Who wouldn't love a Miss Fisher like mystery set on a beautiful French estate? 






I always gravitate to titles with anything Napoleonic Wars era. It is a time period I know little about and rare in historical fiction. While this is more of a story about a family and their troubles in the mid-1800's, it references back to the wars thirty years earlier. Set in Wales and written by a Welsh author it looks very unique. It is book one of the Carmarthen Chronicles. A veteran of the Napoleonic Wars recounts his years on the battle field to a younger friend. 





While out shopping for other things, I snuck into Half Price Books because I love to browse and see if I find anything I can't get on Kindle or just want to collect. I was so excited to find three Jean Plaidy books that I don't have. I started reading her books when I was in my 20's and I love to collect them. Some you can't even get at all anymore. This one is book 3 in her Catherine de Medici series. It was in perfect shape and looked hardly touched. For $7 it was a steal! 












Saturday, January 20, 2024

The King's Commoner: The rise and fall of Cardinal Wolsey by David Field (The Tudor Saga Series Book Two)

 

Publication Date: 
July 24, 2019

Length:
271 pages

This is the second book in Field's Tudor series and although I have purchased the first one about Henry VII, I wanted to read this one first because I didn't know a lot about the story of Thomas Wolsey. 

Summary:
The story begins when Thomas is very young and becoming painfully aware of his place in society. Born in 1473, he is the son of a common butcher of modest means, ridiculed by the upper classes who attend mass with him and are jealous of his cleverness and academic wit. This becomes more apparent as Wolsey grows into manhood, completing his degree in divinity at the young age of fifteen and uses his skills and connections to work his way to becoming chaplain for the Archbishop of Canterbury. He soon finds himself in the service of King Henry VII who appoints him royal chaplain. When his son, Henry VIII becomes king, Wolsey is firmly entrenched as a valuable asset to the Tudor ruler and uses it to his great advantage, steering events in his favor while maintaining the needed reverence due to the King. 

Because Henry VIII is still young and impressionable, he finds himself relying heavily on Wolsey's guidance and affirmation. In the beginning, Thomas is able to amass great wealth and power by making himself invaluable to the King. As time passes though, he finds Henry is growing into his own as a man and ruler and it starts to become more difficult to manipulate things in his direction. Henry grows increasingly more set in his ways and through a series of events with France and Spain, he and Wolsey begin to have conflicts that bleed into their previously trusting relationship. When the King decides to rid himself of Queen Katherine and marry Anne Boleyn, Thomas is expected to deliver the annulment necessary to make this happen. He cannot. And he finds himself in real danger from Henry's wrath. 

My Thoughts: 

I love that Field's books include real people presented in an authentic way so that I feel like I'm getting to know them and their thoughts, not just reading historical events. In this book though it caused me to be conflicted about the main focus because halfway through I really started to dislike Wolsey both as a man and as a religious figure. This is probably exactly what was intended and shows Field's capability as a writer. Unlike Simon de Montfort in The Conscience of a King, Wolsey does not come off as a sympathetic figure at all. We see him begin with promise, incredibly smart, talented, and impressive at a young age.  As he grows more entrenched in royal favor and wealth he comes across as scheming and cynical. It makes it hard to feel badly for him when Henry turns on him.

I can't recommend these books enough if you need a good, solid, chronological timeline of English history. I can't wait to see what the future holds for Field's books as I'm really hoping for a series of books that take place surrounding events from de Montfort through the Tudor years. The three Edwards and Bolingbroke would be wonderful as they seem to be under represented in the historical fiction world. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series, Justice For the Cardinal, all about Thomas Cromwell and his devotion to Wolsey, his mentor, and the events after this book and Wolsey's downfall.


Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Can't Wait Wednesday: I Am Rome by Santiago Posteguillo

 


For this week's Can't Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, I'm featuring I Am Rome by Santiago Posteguillo. It is a novel about a young, unknown Julius Caesar. This is definitely a unique setting for a historical fiction novel as most pick up with his life much later in the timeline of history. I had not ever heard of this author either. He is from Spain and has several other published books about Roman times. 

I hope you have found something you can't wait for on this Wednesday!

March 5, 2024

Historical Fiction


Description courtesy of NetGalley

Every legend has a beginning . . .Rome, 77 B.C. The corrupt Senator Dolabella is about to go on trial for his crimes.

But Dolabella owns the jury. He’s hired the best lawyers in the city. And he’s very willing to use violence against those who oppose him. 

In all of Rome, no man dares accept the role of prosecutor—until, against all odds, an unknown twenty-three-year-old steps out to lead the case, defend the people of the city, and defy the power of the ruling elite. 

That lawyer’s name is Gaius Julius Caesar. 

So begins Santiago Posteguillo’s acclaimed masterpiece of historical fiction―a tale as epic as Caesar’s life itself. An irresistible page-turning novel of politics and betrayal, grand battles and impossible odds, shocking villainy and even greater acts of courage, I Am Rome brilliantly animates the moments that shaped this extraordinary young man’s fate—and in so doing, changed the course of history itself.


Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Goals for 2024

 







It is hard to believe that we are already here in January thinking about goals for 2024! Thanks as always to That Artsy Reader Girl for hosting Top Ten Tuesday each week. 

Some of my goals haven't changed since I last updated in October but it is always good to revisit them and see which ones to keep and which ones to let go of. Just knowing my blog is two years old is enough for me as I never thought beyond a month at a time when I started in January 2022. I hope your year of reading is rewarding whether you read one book or one hundred. It doesn't matter as long as you read what you love and continue to love to read. 


1.Drop the Classics Club

Hopefully this isn't forever. It is just something I have to do right now. It may not seem like a "goal" in the sense that I'm not striving towards something but it is a goal for me because I have a hard time letting things fall by the wayside. So my goal is to drop it and not feel guilty about it. I have tried and find myself dreading most of the titles I started out with. I guess a better way to phrase it would be to revise my list and pick it back up in the future. But it may be that for this time in my life, the classics just aren't for me.

2.Set aside daily reading minutes

You'd think this would be something I already do but it isn't. I read almost every day but it is very sporadic and unfocused and sometimes that really is all we can hope for. But I have found if I actually force myself to set aside a number of minutes to read I end up reading way more than I intend to. It's that idea of just get going and before you know it, you've read a whole chapter. 

3.Stay focused on the current book

This is a big one! While I will never be that person who reads only one book at a time, it is becoming clear that I need to force myself to work on one book in a reading session. I find myself reading a bit and then wanting to browse books online or skip to another book I want to start. But when I focus and work on the current book it is so rewarding when I finish it faster. 

4.Not care what others think of the books I'm reading

This goal will probably be included every time I write these goals. It is a big year for me...I turn 50 in July and sometimes I imagine I'm supposed to be this mature intellectual who only reads classics...see #1 goal...lol...so it is good for me to reiterate to the world....read what you love!! Just like friends, books can be for a season and time in your life that will change. It is okay not to be deep all the time. And it is okay to want to switch to something totally normally off your radar. My blog will always center around history and mysteries but there are so many variables within those genres that it includes many types and styles to try. I want to be happy with what I'm reading because when it becomes a chore, what is the point, right?

5.Keep my blog simple

One of my favorite things to do is browse other book blogs. There are so many creative people in the book world and I am in awe of the different styles and reviews. But I am not the most technology savvy person and I get overwhelmed trying to insert lots of pictures and graphics into my posts. So sometimes I just don't post at all for fear of being "boring." This year I'd like to write more and worry less about whether or not I am adding just the right colorful touches. Some of the best blogs I come across aren't fancy, but have fabulous content. If you take the time to just sit and read it.

6.Stop planning out my blogging schedule
While I will always have a general idea of what I'm going to write about each week (Stacking the Shelves, Can't Wait Wednesday usually) I spent 2023 often stressed about adhering to a certain posting and review schedule. I thought this would keep me on track, and it did, but it was also a lot to manage. I am glad I did it though because I discovered my own personal preferences about reading and blogging. I have busy weeks and slow weeks, like everyone else, and so I find that when I'm really busy I still get in a post or two but when I'm not busy I have great motivation to do more. I'm going to try to just go with the flow this year.

7.Interact more with fellow bloggers
Each week I check in with all of the blogs on my home page that I'm following. I absolutely love seeing the posts, reviews, and enjoy catching up on the ones who post about their personal lives. But I don't comment much and I should when possible. I realize this can get time consuming but you can just do a few each week and skip around. It is gratifying when people take the time to converse with you because blogging can be lonely if you feel like no one is reading your content. So this is a great goal for everyone!

8.Review only the books I want to review
When I first started this blog I never dreamed a real author would contact me. It was very exciting and humbling to have one ask me to read and review their books. And I thought initially I'd love to do this as a future goal. But I have realized that I just don't want my blog to be tied down to "have to's." Which is another reason I don't interact much with NetGalley anymore except to look for new books to promote. I have realized that while I love reading, reviewing, and promoting books I don't want to be in a position to promise someone I'll read and review their book when I either don't want to or don't have time to. It isn't fair to them or me. So I'm dropping the "have to" and will only review books I want to.

9.Go back to more actual physical books
While I love my Kindle, there is something different about paper books. I find when I'm reading them it is more personal. Due to my age and deteriorating eyesight my Kindle is so important to have. And when I go on vacations it is essential for space management. But I always want to keep at least one physical, paper book going to remind me of what reading was like when I was younger. I miss it. And so I'm going to see if I can do more of it when I'm home and have the right lighting!

10.Keep my book stack to three books or less at a time
This seems to be the sweet spot for me! A physical book and two Kindle books. I have played around with more or less and I always seem to come back to three at a time. I usually have one historical cozy mystery book, one more serious historical fiction book that is long and detailed and takes months to finish, and a shorter historical fiction book that I can read and review within a span of a week. Then I throw in a straight history book every month or so but I'm not finding I'm as interested in that genre as often as I used to be. This is a good goal for me to continue as I do get bored reading only one book at a time but have a tendency to take on way too many if I don't set a limit. 

I look forward to reading all about my fellow bloggers' bookish goals for 2024. I hope everyone has a wonderful year!!