In the Blood by Lisa Unger

bookshelves: published-2014, e-book, mystery-thriller, winter-20132014, north-americas, dodgy-narrator, psychology, epistolatory-diary-blog, boo-scary, forest, newtome-author, mental-health, eye-scorcher, families, recreational-homicide, revenge, bullies, the-wrong-pyjamas, doo-lally

Read from January 19 to February 25, 2014

Description: LANA GRANGER LIVES A LIFE OF LIES. She has told so many lies about where she comes from and who she is that the truth is like a cloudy nightmare she can’t quite recall. About to graduate from college and with her trust fund almost tapped out, she takes a job babysitting a troubled boy named Luke. Expelled from schools all over the country, the manipulative young Luke is accustomed to control┬¡ling the people in his life. But, in Lana, he may have met his match. Or has Lana met hers?

Dedication:

For
Ocean Rae
I love you like the cherry blossom loves the wind

Opeing quote:

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

William Blake, “The Tiger”

Opening to prologue: There are twelve slats of wood under my bed. I know this because I count them over and over.

Onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineteneleventwelve

I whisper the numbers to myself and the sound of it comforts me as I’m sure a prayer would comfort someone who believes in God. It’s amazing how loud a whisper can be. Surrounded down there by the white glow of my bed skirt, the sound of my own voice in my ears, I can almost block out the screaming, the horrible keening. And then there’s the silence, which is so much worse.

Suspend your belief and scorch your eyeballs through this suspense novel. You’ll have everything sussed by the time the denoument comes in the book, however there were some taut moments.

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Kingmaker: Winter Pilgrims

bookshelves: currently-reading, first-in-series, newtome-author, net-galley, published-2014, winter-20132014, wars-of-the-roses, medieval5c-16c, historical-fiction, war, series, e-book, adventure, religion, plague-disease, seven-seas, superstitions, britain-england, pirates-smugglers-wreckers, france, betrayal, medical-eew, revenge, spies, travel

Read from February 12 to 20, 2014

ARC received with thanks from Net Galley and Random House UK, Cornerstone in exchange for an honest review.

Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick One of the Yorkist leaders in the Wars of the Roses, he was instrumental in the deposition of two kings, a fact which later earned him his epithet of “Kingmaker” to later generations. (wiki sourced)

Description: February, 1460: in the bitter dawn of a winter’s morning a young nun is caught outside her priory walls by a corrupt knight and his vicious retinue.

In the fight that follows, she is rescued by a young monk and the knight is defeated. But the consequences are far-reaching, and Thomas and Katherine are expelled from their religious Orders and forced to flee across a land caught in the throes of one of the most savage and bloody civil wars in history: the Wars of the Roses.

Their flight will take them across the Narrow Sea to Calais where Thomas picks up his warbow, and trains alongside the Yorkist forces. Katherine, now dressed as a man, hones her talents for observation and healing both on and off the fields of battle. And all around them, friends and enemies fight and die as the future Yorkist monarch, Edward, Earl of March, and his adviser the Earl of Warwick, later to become known as the Kingmaker, prepare to do bloody battle.

Encompassing the battles of Northampton, Mortimer’s Cross and finally the great slaughter of Towton, this is war as experienced not by the highborn nobles of the land but by ordinary men and women who do their best just to stay alive. Filled with strong, sympathetic characters, this is a must-read series for all who like their fiction action-packed, heroic and utterly believable.

Dedication: To Karen, with all my love

Opening is February 1460: The Dean comes for him during the Second Repose, when the night is at its darkest. He brings with him a rush light and a quarterstaff and wakes him with a heavy prod.
‘Up now, Brother Thomas,’ he says. ‘The Prior’s asking for you.’

Epic adventuring that had me hooked by page 52. In the time-honoured way of honest reviewing I shall point out the things that stopped this excellent story from being the 5* this read really deserves:

-The present tense prose: didn’t bother me at all once I was into the story but it will not appeal to some of my reading pals.

-That carrot ending: this really is a turn-off to many a reader and could be the kiss of death for a series. We don’t want to have it taken for granted by the author that we will buy into the next installment.

-Some secondary characters were barely fleshed out: I’m especially looking at a giant of a man who comes across as cartoon thug.

I loved this story, non-stop action featuring a lovely pair of modest but surprising heroes and that is all I can say for the moment as this is not due to be published until April. To I recommend it? Oh yes, the best adventure novel I have read in quite a while.

A word on Scrofula, sourced by The Science Museum:

In the Middle Ages it was believed in England and France that a touch from royalty could heal skin disease known as scrofula or the ‘king’s evil’. Scrofula was usually a swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck caused by tuberculosis. The practice began with King Edward the Confessor in England (1003/4-1066) and Philip I (1052-1108) in France.

Subsequent English and French kings were thought to have inherited this ‘royal touch’, which was supposed to show that their right to rule was God-given. In grand ceremonies, kings touched hundreds of people afflicted by scrofula. They received special gold coins called ‘touchpieces’ which they often treated as amulets.

By the late 1400s it was believed that you could also be cured by touching a type of coin called an angel, which had been touched by the monarch. After angels ceased to be minted in the 1620s the same effect was said to be achieved by touching a gold medallion embossed much like the old coin.

Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset (26 January 1436 – 15 May 1464) was an important Lancastrian military commander during the English Wars of the Roses. He is sometimes numbered the 2nd Duke of Somerset, since the title was re-created for his father after his uncle died. He also held the subsidiary titles of 5th Earl of Somerset, 2nd Marquess of Dorset and 2nd Earl of Dorset.Source

Kidwelly Castle

EXTRAS: You too can watch Dating in the Middle Ages

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Isadora Duncan: An Intimate Portrait by Sewell Stokes

bookshelves: film-only, winter-20132014, biography, published-1928, under-10-ratings

Read from February 09 to 17, 2014

the basis for the film ‘Isadora’ (1968) starring Vanessa Redgrave.

Description: 928. This is the story of the life of an American dancer, written by one who knew her and called her a friend. Duncan was born in San Francisco and at the age of 25 joined Loie Fuller’s dance company, touring Germany where she was acclaimed in Budapest and Vienna. Two years later, she established a dance school for children near Berlin at Gruenwald. In 1921, Duncan was invited to Russia where she opened another dance school in Moscow and married Sergey Yesenin, the Russian poet. Tragically, Duncan was killed in an automobile accident in 1927

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My Life by Isadora Duncan

bookshelves: film-only, winter-20132014, art-forms, under-500-ratings, published-1927

Read from February 09 to 17, 2014

The basis for the film ‘Isadora’ (1968) starring Vanessa Redgrave.

Description: My Life, the classic autobiography first published just after Duncan’s death, is a frank and engrossing life account of this remarkable visionary and feminist who took on the world, reinvented dance, and led the way for future great American modernists Ruth St. Denis, Agnes de Mille, and Martha Graham.Documenting Duncan’s own life as a dancer and as a woman—from her enchantment with classical music and poetry as a child in San Francisco and her intense study of classical Greek art in Athens, through the great strides she made in teaching, founding schools, performing, and collaborating with international artists, to her notorious love affairs and the tragic deaths of her own children—My Life reissued here is still as extraordinary as the woman who wrote it more than sixty years ago.

The other book that has quite a bearing on the film is Isadora Duncan: An Intimate Portrait

The screenplay for the film is by Melvyn Bragg where Bragg is pure Drag in his own novels, yet shows such flair in other fields.

Sergei Yesenin

Yesenin and Duncan

From wiki: Duncan’s fondness for flowing scarves was a contributing factor to her death in an automobile accident in Nice, France, at the age of 50. The shawl was hand-painted silk by the Russian-born artist Roman Chatov, and was a gift from her friend Mary Desti, the mother of American film director Preston Sturges. Desti, who saw Duncan off, reported that she had asked Duncan to wear a cape because it was cold out, and the car was an open-air one, but Duncan would only agree to wear the shawl.

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Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris by Eric Jager

bookshelves: published-2014, true-grime, nonfiction, history, winter-20132014, france, e-book, net-galley, paris

Read from February 10 to 17, 2014

ARC received with thanks from Net Galley and Little, Brown and Company in exchange for an honest review.

Description: A riveting true story of murder and detection in 15th-century Paris, by one of the most brilliant medievalists of his generation.

On a chilly November night in 1407, Louis of Orleans was murdered by a band of masked men. The crime stunned and paralyzed France since Louis had often ruled in place of his brother King Charles, who had gone mad. As panic seized Paris, an investigation began. In charge was the Provost of Paris, Guillaume de Tignonville, the city’s chief law enforcement officer–and one of history’s first detectives. As de Tignonville began to investigate, he realized that his hunt for the truth was much more dangerous than he ever could have imagined.

A rich portrait of a distant world, BLOOD ROYAL is a gripping story of conspiracy, crime and an increasingly desperate hunt for the truth. And in Guillaume de Tignonville, we have an unforgettable detective for the ages, a classic gumshoe for a cobblestoned era.

Dedication: For Peg, as always

Opening quote: The detective as knight-errant must nonetheless sally forth, though he knows that his native chivalry … is as hopeless as it is incongruous. David Lehman ‘The Perfect Murder’

Opening: In the 1660s, an unusual parchment scroll was discovered at an old château in the French Pyrenees. Thirty foot long and filled with small, neat script, the scroll had been lost for two and a half centuries. It was the original police report on a high-level assassination whose violent repurcussions has almost destroyed France

Louis I, Duke of Orléans

Guillaume de Tignonville

Page 18:

Guillaume had also befriended Christine de Pizan, a rare woman in a male-dominated world of letters, supporting her defence of women in a famous literary quarrel over ‘The Romance of the Rose’ and even helping her with legal advice.

The Gallows of Montfaucon

Place du Châtelet

Delacroix – Louis d’Orleans showing his mistress

Bal des Ardents

Pierrefonds

Hôtel Barbette

Rue Vieille du Temple

‘ Less than a year apart in age, the two cousins could not of been more unalike. Louis was slender and fair, with a round pleasant face, while John was short and ugly, with a great square head, heavy brows, and a beaklike nose.’ (Page 124)

Tour Jean Sans Peur, Paris. Tour Jean Sans Peur (John the Fearless) was the ironic name for the Duke of Burgundy

DELICIOUS!

As Andrew points out: ‘So, I love long chancery-hand medieval manuscripts and you should too’, this is a wonderful read and just so prescient of modern detective and forensic procedures. The build up had me searching for images, as witnessed above, and from the crime onwards it was bums on seats in admiration, and terrified awe of, Guillaume de Tignonville.

Modern day take on the King’s illness: Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that affects the way a person acts, thinks, and sees the world. People with schizophrenia have an altered perception of reality, often a significant loss of contact with reality. They may see or hear things that don’t exist, speak in strange or confusing ways, believe that others are trying to harm them, or feel like they’re being constantly watched. With such a blurred line between the real and the imaginary, schizophrenia makes it difficult—even frightening—to negotiate the activities of daily life. In response, people with schizophrenia may withdraw from the outside world or act out in confusion and fear. Source HELPGUIDE.ORG

On the back of this great read I have ordered The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France

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Lady of the Butterflies

one-penny-wonder, paper-read, currently-reading, winter-20132014, published-1999, tbr-busting-2014, somerset, civil-war-english, britain-england, sciences, historical-fiction, under-1000-ratings, plague-disease, floods, zoology, lifestyles-deathstyles, philosophy, politics, restoration, religion, love, cover-love

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Jae
Read from June 13, 2013 to February 16, 2014
Dedication: For Tim, Daniel, Gabriel and Kezia.
Also in memory of my mother, Muriel Swinburn

Opening quotes from Sir Francis Bacon and John Ray

From the description: On the ancient marshlands of Somerset — a place of mists and magic — a girl grows up in the shadow of the English Civil War, knowing that one day she will inherit the rich estate which belonged to her late mother. Her father, a stern but loving Puritan, once a distinguished soldier in Cromwell’s army, fears for his daughter in the poisonous aftermath of the war, and for her vulnerability as an heiress. But above all he fears and misunderstands her scientific passion for butterflies. Eleanor Glanville was in fact destined to become one of the most famous entomologists in history, bequeathing her name to the rare butterfly which she discovered, the Glanville Fritillary. But not before she had endured a life of quite extraordinary vicissitude. Two marriages and an all-consuming love, which proved her undoing, a deep friendship with one of the great scientists of the day and finally, a trial for lunacy (on the grounds that no sane person would pursue butterflies) are all played out against the violent events of the Monmouth Rebellion and the vicious controversy over whether or not to drain the Somerset marshes. Now, if you drive down the M5, you will cross Kings Sedgemoor Drain — one of the first great ditches which reclaimed the land for farming and destroyed the precious habitat of the Glanville Fritillary.

Glanville Fritillary is what I know as Meadow Butterfly.

Discarded from Tower Hamlets Libraries

Prologue opening: November 1695: They say I am mad and perhaps it’s true.

(view spoiler)[Oh dear, the wearisome has blurbed on the front cover ‘One of the best historical novels I have read in ages’ – let’s hope this Alison Weir endorsement is not the kiss of death! (hide spoiler)]

Part I opens up in the year 1662; Christmas Day in a Puritan household and it is a tough day for a nine year old girl who has to fast and not join in the fun.

Charles II is on the throne: ‘We had a merry King on the throne of England now, a King who had thrown open the doors of the theatres again and restored the maypoles, much to father’s disgust.

Tickenham is a wealthy village and civil parish near Clevedon and Nailsea, North Somerset, England. Looking SW at Tickenham Court with the church tower of St Quiricus & St Juliet in the background. The buildings are now a farm but parts date from the 14th Century

Eleanor Glanville is the daughter of Major William Goodricke ‘of the Parliamentarian army, Cromwell’s formidable warrior.’ (page 14) Her mother and sister are dead.

Book Trailer

A major part of this story is about reclaiming land, the Somerset Levels, and today 28.1.2014, the talk is of the flooding there and the impact of rising temeratures and increased rains upon those very marshes.

David Cameron – Somerset Levels

(page 74) The lone mound of Cadbury Camp floated above the greyness like a galleon, the only easily distinguishable natural feaure for miles.

This was a comfortable ramble for 400 pages; a book that I could pick up, place down and not lose a ha’p’worth of interest… and then came the action.

I had to sit up, back straight, be alert to take in what I was reading. Fan Me Fast!

Both comfy then exciting modes hit at the right times, which makes for a very enjoyable conclusion.

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Blottentots And How To Make Them

bookshelves: e-book, gutenberg-project, poetry, art-forms, amusing, kiddlewinks, under-10-ratings, winter-20132014

Read on February 15, 2014

IMPISH

You can see by the look of this
big-footed Sprite,
That just the one thing that
affords him delight
Is to give a high jump and land
on your toe,
On the very same spot where
the biggest corns grow.

Hah – what fun, so I opened up an ink cartridge and had a go myself and am now covered in the ruddy stuff!

MACBETH

Act I, Scene I.

“When shall we ‘two’ meet again—
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?”
“When the hurly-burly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and won.”

Gutenberg