Bookit Review: The Truth About Leo

Title: The Truth about Leo
Author: Katie MacAlister
Publication Date:  August 2014 (Kindle Edition)
Grade: C

There are times I come across books and I feel like either the Author was told they needed to write the book, or they rushed it.  This is one of those times.  The main characters seem interesting, but we learn hardly anything about them.  The minor characters for the most part are characters from the other books, which is nice.  I found it readable, but perhaps not one I would feel like I missed out on something by not reading it.

The main characters of this novel, the fourth in the Noble series, are Leo Mortimer and Dagmar Sophie.  She’s an impoverished princess whose cousin is the Prince regent of Denmark.  Prince Frederick (actual person in history) is tired of taking care of his cousin (and Dagmar is, from the accounts of her mother, a thorn in Frederick’s side) and tells her to find her way to family, or she will be sent to a French Convent. Instead she marries a wounded soldier, Leo Mortimer, and gets transportation to England where she plans to go into business as a shop owner.

Most of the book deals with the two in almost a honeymoon like phase.  They get over their respective issues with what happened rather quickly.  Some of the books conversations are a little hard to follow because there are so many people in them, and some are even multiple conversations occurring at the same.

It does have its moments, though.  MacAlister has a knack for funny dialogue and banter.  I just find this novel to not be one of her best.

Also the B plot mystery about Dalton’s nephew is missing quite a few pieces.  I feel like there is two stories, trying to fit into one book and failing to do so.

 

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Bookit Review: The Trouble with Harry

Title: The Trouble with Harry
Author: Katie MacAlister
Publication Date: May 2004/ July 2014 (Kindle Edition)
Grade:  B

This book is the third in the series that started with Noble Intentions, but they seemed to have dropped the ‘Noble’ title theme and gone with something a little different.  This takes place about 15ish years after the first novel.  Harry has long since married the woman he was engaged to in that book, and they have had five kids.  Sadly his wife died shortly after the birth of their youngest son, McTavish.  Five years after her death, he feels its time to find a wife, someone who can be both companion to him and help reign in his unruly children.

Answering his ad is Plum, a gentlewoman who ended up thrown out by her family because she was tricked into marrying a man who was already married.  She’s been living in the country, raising her niece Thom and writing books on ‘connubial calisthenics.’  She doesn’t tell Harry this, and Harry doesn’t tell her about the five kids till they are already married.

Like the previous books, the first third of the book is getting to the wedding, but the second 2 thirds is their life afterwards as they figure out each other, as well as handle the ‘mystery’ that they have to solve.  In this case, someone has been after Harry’s children, in an attempt to hurt Harry.

I found this book to be enjoyable, but not one I will probably find myself eager to read again.  I probably will one day, when I’m passing by it in my library and think”Oh, why not.”  It just doesn’t hold like some of MacAlister’s other books.  Also like the other ones I enjoyed the secondary characters even more so then the main two.  Harry is still one of my favorites, although I wish more could have been focused on what he did as a spy for England.

The Britons show up in this one in the form of Noble and Nick.  Nick and Thom’s interactions are almost more interesting than the main character, and I wish she had used them for the fourth book.  (Which I shall move onto now.)

Bookit Review: Noble Destiny

Title: Noble Destiny (Book 2 of 4)
Author: Katie MacAlister
Publication Date: May 2003/June 2014 (Kindle Version)
Grade: C-

This novel continues in the same universe as Noble Intentions, and focuses on Charlotte, Gillian’s wacky cousin, and Alasdair MacGregor, the Scottish earl seen as a thorn in Noble’s side during the first book.  Its been several years, and Noble and Gillian are on the verge of taking a trip to their AMerican plantation when Charlotte shows up, ready to be a part of English society again now that she’s left her late husband’s family and returned home.  Only she expected Gillian to help her.  With Gillian on vacation, she turns to her best friend Caroline who helps reluctantly hoping this doesn’t all blow up in their faces.

The first third of the book is Charlotte trying to trick Dare, whom she had thought about marrying several years ago before her marriage to an Italian count, into marrying her now.  She succeeds, but then trouble finds them as Dare’s cousin long thought lost returns, and potentially ruins everything Charlotte’s been working for.

This novel was not as good as the first one, and I must I found Charlotte’s behavior more annoying than anything else.  She seems like a better natured Lydia Bennet in a way.  She gets better towards the end, when Dare is almost killed in an explosion while designing a marine engine.  She’s forced to reevaluate her decisions on things.  She’s still got a level of annoying though.  Dare is also not the character I thought he was from reading the first book.

The minor characters still shine in this book, although not many reappear from the first book.  Instead we have Dare’s butler who knows how to use sarcasm and overdramatizing (and has his moments of hilarity), and Caroline who wonders half the time why she’s still friends with Caroline.

I did however not find anything particularly horrible about the book, just was disappointed in the characters.  That being said, I read it in a day so it wasn’t too bad a read.  The mystery was a bit of a non-starter, finished before you realised there was really a mystery (and it turns out not to be the one you thought of.

Had this not been in a series though, I might not have enjoyed it as much.

Bookit Review: Noble Intentions

Title: Noble Intentions (Book 1 of 4)
Author: Katie MacAlister
Publication Date: Feburary 2002/ May 2014 (KIndle Version)
Grade:  B-

I have read Katie MacAlister before, when I was younger and my sister and I first got into her Dragon series.  My sister to this day reads every book of hers she can get her hands on, and she told me to read it.  So I did (eventually, as I have a pile of TO READ books and still do).

It’s a regency Era romance novel, set amongst the noble elite of London (as many regency novels are).  In this case, it tells the story of Gillian Leigh, a half-American lady who is escorting her cousin through her season.  She gains the attentions of Noble Britton, an Earl, a man in search of a wife.  They quickly marry, but most of the story takes place after the marriage.  Hijinks ensue as they try to solve the mystery of who’s after Noble now, and how it relates to the murder of Noble’s first wife Elizabeth.

This novel was enjoyable, although sometimes the dialogue seemed more modern than Regency.  Sometimes the minor characters get confusing, especially as there are three identical triplet brothers who work for Noble named Tremayne.  My favorite character was actually a secondary character named Harry Rosse, who is Noble’s best friend and confidante.

The story seems to go slowly at first, and changes directions a lot, but it all seems to tie in well when you get to the second half which has a great deal of actions.  My only issue is that some of the revel at the end sounds sudden, and a lot of information is given that could have been hinted at earlier.  There are also some elements that are not explained.  But this is a romance novel, not a mystery novel, so the focus wasn’t totally on the mystery.

My next bookit-review is going to be the second book in the series, Noble Destiny,  which features Alasdair MacGregor (Noble’s rival in this book) and Lady Charlotte (Gillian’s cousin).

Bookit Review: The Wedding Shroud

Title: The Wedding Shroud (1 of 3)
Author: Elizabeth Storrs
Publication Date:  September 2010  (Kindle Unlimited Edition)
My Grade: C

This story takes place in ancient Rome, which was a bit of a change for me as most of my novels lately seem to either in the future or in Tudor(ish) England.  It follows the story of Caecilia, a young roman women who is married to a Etruscan Lord to keep a treaty in place.  She goes to this world completely different from her own despite only being across the river.  So close, that the modern-day spot is actually within Rome’s Metropolitan area.

It was hard getting into it at first.  A good deal of the first part of the book is Caecilia watching what went on around her and hating it, finding it to be undignified or lacking honor in comparison to her more sedate Roman ways.  I have to admit that its hard to catch the character of her husband, Vel Mastarna, as it seems half the time he’s gone away for some reason or another. SOme of the other characters seem half flushed out but restricted due to the single person point of view.  However, the story does eventually grab you.  There is a lot happening in the last half.  It also includes a real life person in the form of Camillus, a Roman general.

I did find the fact the character’s point of view is mostly set on how troublesome she finds this new world.  We don’t see her take charge as matriarch, or do the duties that she actually finds she likes.  Instead its barely mentioned before go back to the weird subplot with her brother-in-law who keeps her drugged and calls it piety.
This is the first book in a trilogy, although I’ve decided to forgo the second two books.  For one, a quick google search has told me where it must end, (Veii and Rome are historical places after all), but also because I promised my sister I would read a few books she chose for me.  But I feel I can recommend this book in general as a pleasant read, if not a great one.  I have to admit though that it did have its moments when it made me uncomfortable as Caecilia is, particularly when it got into detail about ancient cultures religious rites.

Book-it Review: Isabella: Braveheart of France

Title: Isabella: Braveheart of France
Author: Colin Falconer
Publication Date: April 21, 2015 (Kindle Unlimited Edition) (Famous Women series)
My Grade: C

It’s hard to write this review because it almost seems like I can’t put into words what I found wrong about this book.  The general story is good, but then its a story brought from real life.  The things wrong are found in other elements.

This story feels self Published in that it seems unedited.  The tenses shift, and the phrasing doesn’t flow well.  At first I thought perhaps it was written for a younger audience, but some of the language disagrees with that theory.

It also turns Roger Mortimer into a pedophile, openly desiring Isabella since she was 12 years old.  Edward the II sounds like a madman, and whether he was or not we really don’t get to know him at all except as Isabella points out the awkward moments in their relationship. Piers Gaveston has a large role but still we know nothing really about him except he was pretty, and Edward liked him a lot.  In fact there isn’t a lot of character development at all.  Isabella is the most developed, as one would hope from the sole POV character, but considering how big a role some of these characters play, I would have expected to know more about them.

It also has some time jumps, as the novel is less than 300 pages and it covers 17 years of her life.  It doesn’t even really cover her years as Queen Regent, ending with Edward’s death.

Still, I have read much worse, and it seems for the most part not to take too many literary licence with the history, though I am not knowledgeable enough to really take on that element of it.  I give it a C, because It didn’t make me want to throw it out the window, but it didn’t enthrall me either.  Perhaps, if given a proper editor, it could improved upon.

Bookit-Review: Vision of the Future

Title: Vision of the Future
Author: Timothy Zahn
Publication Date:  September 1, 1999  (Paperback) Book 2 of the Hand of Thrawn Duology
My Grade:  B

So this is the final book in the five Thrawn books made by Timothy Zahn.  The first three being his Thrawn Trilogy, and the second two being the Hand of Thrawn Duology which began with Specter of the Past.

Zahn is really good at building us a universe to play in.  It’s interesting to see in the Duology how his main characters have changed in the decade between then and now.  Mara has become more comfortable with herself, and with the idea of the Jedi.  Luke also has changed, become more mature and is in the process of evaluating how he uses the force in his day-to-day life.  Leia and Han just want a peaceful vacation with their three kids where no one tries to kidnap, kill or anything else to them.  However, when push comes to shove they are going to help out.

Han in this book is a little less the rascal we all love in the movies.  It is after all almost 20 years post the Battle of Yavin, so I suppose that all that time spent with the Rebellion, The New Republic and of course being a father to three Jedi children might chill you out a bit.  There is plenty of Lando as well, as he teams up with Han to find the Caamas Document.

Leia meanwhile is teaming up with various subcharacters in the political world trying to find peace for the New Republic, both internally and externally.

I think one of my favorite things is the delving into the background of Talon Karrde, as well as seeing what Pelleaon is up to now as the Supreme Commander of the Empire’s naval forces.  He’s trying to save the Empire but is not having an easy time of it because of the reappearance of “Thrawn.”

If you like books that deal with political intrigue, character backgrounds and action you will enjoy this book.  It has a good mix of the three.  It deals with the theme of how things can appear one way but turn out not to be that way at all, it depends on your point of view (as Obi-wan once told us) and who got to write the history down.

It also sets up the next stage of the Star Wars Legends books, which is interesting but I won’t be delving into myself.  At least not right now.

I really liked the fact that Luke and Mara had basically a road-trip like plot arc (well, it was more like a hike, but the same concept).  They ended up forced to face some issues between them that had developed over the last ten years, and eventually realise they love each other.  It’s a bit sappy in its almost instantious realization, and I feel it might have been better if he had started to develop them going down that road in the first book, but there is plenty going on that needed developed.

My only problem is wondering why after the kids are sent away to hang out with Chewie and his family, no one really mentions them.  That being said, it is a good book and I would definitely put it on my recommended books list.

I do however suggest, should you try this book out to start with the Thrawn Trilogy.  While it’s not completely necessary (as there is a ten-year gap with many events happening), it does give some background on the relationships between the main characters and an interesting place to compare how they have changed in 10 years.