Book Review: Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

angelology-front-cover

Angelology is the first book in the Angelology series by Danielle Trussoni.

Summary:

Evangeline has spent the majority of her life behind the walls of a convent, living a life of contemplation and prayer.  Her mother died in Paris when she was small, and only a few years later, she was given into the care of the sisters at St Rose Convent in New York by her father.  When she is old enough, she decides to become a nun at the same convent.  But, a chance meeting with a visiting historian has lasting consequences and turns her life completely upside down.

Secrets abound, and Evangeline and her family are caught up in them.  And as the truth unravels, Evangeline finally uncovers who her parents were and what they did…

Favourite Quote:

It’s funny how the past is so often judged sacred while the modern world is held in suspicion.

Review:

So, this is going to be a mixed review.  Let’s look at what I didn’t like to begin with.

First off, I feel like I should have liked this book more than I did.  I love paranormal fiction especially if it is blended with a nice dose of mystery and history too.  However, I think I’ve realised that I do not like my paranormal fiction to have a literary bend; to me, it makes the story too…heavy.  And I’m guessing it is that which is responsible for my feelings towards this book.  It was a heavy read, and that made it a slow read.

The other big problem I had with this story was the ending.  So, I had made it through the heavy, slow-paced 640+ pages, the driving force behind which was to finish the book and reach a satisfactory conclusion, only to be given the foundation of the next book in the series instead.  I had no idea this book was part of a series, so you can imagine that this was a major stumbling block to my enjoyment of it (which I freely recognise is more my own fault than that of the author’s).

And so to the good points of the book.  The characters.  They were great.  It was easy to like the good characters (Evangeline and Verlaine) and dislike the bad ones (Percival Grigori).  Also, if you like rich, fluid detail in your prose, you will love this book.  It is packed full of vivid descriptions, of settings, of people, of their thoughts and feelings.  The story was fresh and on the whole, engaging, which kept me reading until the end.  The mythology and lore that is wrapped up in the narrative is interesting and helped to create a fascinating premise, I only wished I enjoyed reading it more.

The next book in the series is Angelopolis.

Rating:

two-stars

Book Review: Under the Dragon’s Tail by Maureen Jennings

under-the-dragons-tail-front-coverUnder the Dragon’s Tail is the second of The Murdoch Mysteries by Maureen Jennings.

Summary:

Toronto, July 1895.  When a midwife and abortionist is murdered, Detective William Murdoch investigates.  Although the dead woman, Dolly Merishaw, seems to have kept quiet about the clients that had used her services, it transpires that she kept a record book as protection, should she need it, or, for a spot of blackmail.  Fallen on hard times, it seemed that she tried to get some money out of one of these old clients.  But which one?  And did they resort to murder?

Dolly wasn’t very much liked and there are no shortage of suspects.  But when one of the young boys in Dolly’s care turns up dead on the kitchen floor, Murdoch must work quickly to uncover the murderer, before any other children are hurt.

Favourite Quote:

“…The wicked shall get their due.”

That didn’t sound quite right to Murdoch but maybe it was a Methodist saying.

Review:

As I mentioned when I reviewed the first book in The Murdoch Mysteries series, Except the Dying, I am a big fan of the television series.  The first book was brilliant, and the second didn’t disappoint either.  I like the fact that the books and the TV series are so different, and I love them both.  The books are far more grittier than the cosy mystery series we see on the TV, and there is a place for each.

The author easily captures the time period and brings it to life with ease.  As I’ve already mentioned, there is a grittiness to the story, but then life was gritty, hard and dark for most people at the end of the nineteenth century, and that clearly comes through.

The pace is good and there were enough twists and turns in the story to keep me guessing.  Murdoch is a fabulous main character and is very likeable and realistic.  I was pleased to see Dr Julia Ogden make a small appearance in this instalment, and I’m hoping that there will be more later in the series.

I can’t recommend this book and series highly enough, and am looking forward to reading the third Murdoch Mystery, Poor Tom is Cold, soon.

Rating:

five-stars

Short Story Review: Who Stole the Fish? By Peter Tremayne

murder-through-the-ages-front-coverWho Stole the Fish? is a Sister Fidelma Mystery by Peter Tremayne.

It is 664 AD, Ireland.  The Abbey of Durrow has an important visitor, an emissary from Rome.  Naturally, at the evening meal, an extravagant dish is to be served to their guest: a great salmon.  Only during the early part of the meal, Sister Fidelma’s presence is required in the kitchen by Abbot Laisran.  The fish has gone missing, along with the man who has been cooking it.  And the abbot wants the mystery cleared up before the emissary hears anything about it.

But where is the fist?  And where is the cook?

Although I have a number of the Sister Fidelma Mysteries sitting on my bookshelves, I have yet to get around to reading one.  So this short story is my first introduction to the sleuthing nun, and I must say, I liked her.  She is sensible, logical and observant – nothing escapes her notice.  I am now determined to read a full-length novel staring Sister Fidelma in the new year.

A great read!

I found this short story in, Murder Through the Ages: A Bumper Anthology of Historical Mysteries, edited by Maxim Jakubowski.

Short Story Review: A Dangerous Nativity by Caroline Warfield

When the Duke of Murnane dies, the responsibility of running the estate falls on his widow’s brother, William, Earl of Chadbourn.  But when he arrives, he finds a rich, vast estate in a state of disrepair.  As he goes about the business of taking stock, he stumbles across a small holding and cottage on the edge of the estate and is instantly taken with the young woman he finds there.  She is strong, intelligent and knows about farming.  But what is her story?  And why does the family have nothing to do with the big house?

I thoroughly enjoyed this Christmas short story set during the Regency.  The love tale itself is charming, the idea of the boys nativity play hilarious, and the cast on the whole, easy to warm to.  I would certainly enjoy reading more of these characters in the future.to see what becomes of them all, and I would happily re-read this story again…

I downloaded A Dangerous Nativity for free from Smashwords.

Short Story Review: Flyting, Fighting by Clayton Emery

murder-through-the-ages-front-coverSet in 1192, this quick read focuses on Robin Hood and Marian after their wedding.

The couple are going through the forest, arguing over Robin’s way with women, when Robin spots a jumble of footprints on the ground.  Interpreting the signs, Robin believes a group of men have abducted a young woman, and decides to go off to try and save her.  Marian doesn’t quite believe him (the footprints make no sense to her), but she goes along anyway, the pair of them continuing their argument as they follow the trail…

But is Robin right?  And if so, who is the young woman?  Who are the men who have taken her?

This was a fun short story.  The chemistry between Robin and Marian was perfect, and the back and forth bickering was completely believable.  I enjoyed reading this; it was so amusing, and I would definitely read it again.

I found this short story in, Murder Through the Ages: A Bumper Anthology of Historical Mysteries, edited by Maxim Jakubowski.

Book Review: The White Rose Turned to Blood by Rosemary Hawley Jarman

the-white-rose-turned-to-blood-front-coverThe White Rose Turned to Blood is the concluding part of We Speak No Treason by Rosemary Hawley Jarman.

The first book in this two-part series focused on Richard, Duke of Gloucester before he became Richard III, and told the tale as it was witnessed by his mistress and the court fool.  (See my review, here.)  But now Edward IV is dead and the main factions at court are trying to survive after the only man who could keep the peace between them is gone.

For this first part of the tale we have as our guide Mark Archer (who we met briefly in book 1).  He is Richard’s sworn man and friend; an archer with exceptionally good eyesight.  Through his testimony we are taken through the troublesome time between Edward IV’s death to the fateful battle at Bosworth.  Mark Archer is a likeable character who shows how devious political wranglings could be, and how the most innocent actions could be used to cover up the not-so-innocent.  But most of all, he serves to show us what kind of a king Richard might have been.

Then, for the second part of the book, we go back to hear how the story concludes from the point of view of Richard’s one-time mistress, who we only ever know as the Nut-Brown Maid.  Her tale is a poignant one – she is at the mercy of circumstance, and only learns what happens, for the most part, months later, so far removed is she now from the court.  We learn what has occurred in her small world since we last heard from her in The Flowering of the Rose, and then on, past the battle at Bosworth and into the beginnings of Tudor England.  Her story is moving, and the love she bore for Richard gives her the strength and the courage to face danger.

It is a very sympathetic and likeable Richard we meet in the course of these books, and I for one am glad.  He makes for a very good, very interesting central character and it would have been easy for the author to go along with the much maligned figure many are familiar with.

One of my favourite characters (from either book) had to be the young girl, Edyth.  But it is the emotive, heartbreaking tale told by the Nut-Brown Maid that really captured my interest, and even on occasion, brought tears to my eyes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, along with the first, The Flowering of the Rose, and I can’t recommend either highly enough.  A great piece of historical fiction and fluid storytelling.

Book Review: The Map by T.S. Learner

the-map-front-coverA coded map, which intimates that there are secret locations across Europe where it is claimed the answers to the great mysteries can be revealed, has been discovered.  August Winthrop is following the clues, but he is not alone.  There are others who want the answers he seeks and are willing to go to great lengths to get them.

As he is pursued across Europe by spies, secret agents and those that dabble in black magic, he will have to use all the skills and contacts he picked up when he worked as an SOE operative during the war.  But will it be enough or will a great power that has remained hidden for centuries fall into the wrong hands…

This is going to be quite a mixed review.

I have to admit, I struggled with this book, even though I usually enjoy these conspiracy-thriller-adventure type stories.  The reason for this is that I found it difficult to connect with any of the characters, which made it hard for me to care about what happened to them.

On the upside, the description of people and places found along the journey made it easy to visualise what was going on.  That, coupled with the period setting of the 1950’s and the post WWII world, especially Europe, ensured that no matter how much I struggled with the characters, I did keep reading on until the very end.

My favourite parts of the story line involved the mystical and magical (as always), but there are a great many threads to keep track of through this very long book (my copy ran to nearly 600 pages).  I wonder if there had been fewer of these story threads whether I would have found the book as a whole easier to digest…

This is the first book I have read by the author, but I would definitely give another one of their books ago.